Monday, December 9, 2013

Not Finding Nemo

This little tale begins in October at the Arizona State Fair when the kids both won goldfish in a ring toss game. They proudly and enthusiastically picked out their fish, one white (soon-to-be-named Snow) and one gold (Goldy). 

Now, we all know how long we can expect these fish to last, but we took them home and set them up in a new pet hotel to make them comfortable. Goldy thrived. Snow? Not so much. After a week or so, Snow sadly dwindled and died. Rest in peace, little Snow. 

My daughter insisted on having a funeral for the fish and not a "burial at sea" as is customary in these circumstances. So we went out in to our dirt pile, I mean, "back yard" and dug an appropriate hole. We invited the rest of the family and the dogs to be present at the interment. It was very moving. 

After the ceremony, we retired to the house for the reception. Towards the end, my daughter went to put up the grave marker only to find the grave mysteriously disturbed! Shockingly (not really), the dogs decided that sushi would be a palatable snack. (At least, that's what I am hoping. It's that or we have a zombie fish on the loose.) My daughter refused to speak to the dogs for the entire week following the incident. 

You would think this would be the end of my little tale, but it isn't. About a week after the ill fated Sushi Incident, my daughter found herself in possession of yet another fair-won fish.  This time from the school's fall festival. 

We added our new acquisition Goldy's tank and hoped for the best. This time they both thrived and we all, naively, resumed a life unconcerned that the fish would survive. It was bliss. 

Until...last Sunday morning when I was woken up by my daughter asking me if I knew where Goldy was. 

What do you mean?, I asked. In his tank, I presume, I responded sleepily. He was there when I came home very late that night. 

No, Mommy! He's not in there!, she replied urgently. 

Now what!, I grumbled "pleasantly" for I had not yet had my tea and I do not tolerate being woken up for anything. 

I scraped myself out of bed and stumbled down the stair to the kitchen to the tank. I peered inside to do a quick head count. One....two? Huh? One!? 

Goldy was gone. Not in the tank. Not out of the tank. Just gone. Gone. No where to be found. 

It's been a week now and at night, we still hear the disconcerting gurgle of Goldy rampaging the house looking for fish brains on which to feed. Too bad the dogs are not good zombie fish fare. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

First Impressions (or My Pet Ferret Rasputin)

Spent the other evening at my work's "holiday" party. A nice event and a bit of low-key fun that might have turned a bit more raucous after I left with the way everyone was pounding margaritas. Teachers! (I refused to have more than one margarita. If they had cider, though, I might have been in some trouble.)

Anyway, the conversation turned to first impressions when the social studies teacher turned to me and asked how my pet ferret was. 

I was a bit confused. The conversation went something like this...

Me: Ferret?
Her: Yes. Rasputin?
Me: Huh?
Her: You said you had a pet ferret named Rasputin. 
Me: Um...when?
Her: On the first day. You told the entire staff. 

The plot thickened. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. The only Rasputin I knew was the rooster. I teach about Rasputin the rooster, but I hadn't started teaching yet. It was the first day. 

I'm also not one for making up untruths. Usually. Only minor ones of no consequence when I'm feeling spunky. Then, I usually cave in a fit of unbridled honesty. I am not a good liar. 

Puzzled, I turned for confirmation from the others at the table. "Help me out here. Do I have a pet ferret? Named Rasputin?"

"Yes!" They all concurred. 

WTF! Now I was truly perplexed. I mean I can see how one person could think I have a pet ferret named Rasputin (not really), but everyone? Then, it hit me!

Ah-ha! On the first day in our full-staff meeting we played Two Truths and a Lie. Everyone had to write down two truths about themselves and a lie. Then we had to stay up in front of the 100 plus staff members and say them. The object was for the people to pick out the lie. The problem? The acoustics in the room were terrible. You could barely hear anyone. 

My lie was that I had a pet ferret named Rasputin. Those around me correctly learned that this was a lie, but the majority of the room did not and I suddenly became the proud owner of an imaginary pet ferret, Rapsutin. 

Once I realized what had happened, I pondered whether or not to fix the error. Did I say, "oh! How funny! Here's what happened"? Or, did I say, "oh, THAT Rasputin! He's fine. Had a little trouble getting stuck in paper towel roll a few weeks ago, but he seems to have recovered and is back to his old antics"? What a dilemma!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

HobbyQuest 2013

I need a hobby. A good one. Not just a boring old oh-yes-I-collect-gynecological-medical-equipment-from-the-late-1800s hobby, but a real, absorbing, fulfilling, and interesting hobby.

My life has been in a huge amount of upheavel this year and while it has been a lot of fun, I need something just for me. Something to focus on that isn't everything else. It is so bad that I haven't been able to read a book since May. Considering the fact that I would have previously described myself as a compulsive reader that is a significant lack of accomplishment. 

The problem is that I just have no gumption to find one; mid-life crisis is so exhausting. Between working, child care, dog-hamster-fish care, texting, and a new found passion for a social life, I just can't get my brain to focus on one thing long enough to accomplish anything meaningful. Even blogging. (Hence the lengthy gap in posts.)

Sigh. Perhaps someone could suggest   something? I might even make a commitment to trying anything suggested at least once....

PS: Don't tell me to join the gym. Been there. Done that. Training for a 5K already. Boring!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ghost Post: Marriage

Ladies and Gentlemen, another ghost post. That's two, my friends! Keep 'em coming!
Things have been a bit tense on the marriage front recently, so I was a bit alarmed after dinner tonight when my stomach started rumbling painfully. After spending some time worshipping the Porcelain Goddess, I tactfully confronted my husband.

ME: Hey, uh, does your....stomach hurt?
HIM: After dinner, yes. It did. It's fine now though...Does yours?
ME: Yes!! Oh! Thank, God! I thought you were trying to poison me.
HIM: I thought you were trying to poison me! Well, that's a relief.

I have never been so happy to have eaten bad meat in my whole life. And, I'm thinking, perhaps a little less Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? on ID.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Two years ago, we got a dog. (See "exhibit A")

Exhibit A: The final exam of obedience training.
It was Hell. For months, I asked every person I saw if they had a dog and when did it stop making them crazy.

I watched The Dog Whisperer obsessively. The dog would sit next to me on the couch watching the part of the show that shows badly behaved dogs and as soon as Cesar Milan came on the screen, he jumped off the couch looking for something less stressful to do.

He was only learning the bad stuff. Not the good. So, I dragged him and the kids to dog training ("exhibit A"). For two months, we played sit, down, come, heel. For two months, he behaved perfectly in class. Then, we'd come home and dash off on another seek and destroy mission.

The dog was (and still is) neurotic, afraid of water, afraid of the car, and believed that the kids are his herd. Not only that, but he needed to go out in the middle of the night so he could peruse the landscape and decide on an optimal location for his business. It was Hell. I swore I would NEVER.DO.IT.AGAIN.

At that time, I was single parenting for several years because my husband had been stationed overseas. While he was gone, the dog grew up and became tolerable, if not, down right lovable. My husband did not get to experience puppyhood in all its glory, but mostly got to see the somewhat improved final draft. So I knew I was in trouble one evening after he has moved here ahead of us when he texted me a photo of a sweet, little puppy....

Fortunately, I started working brutal hours a week after I moved here. Although we knew Exhibit A was lonely by himself all day, it was obvious that a second dog would not be a good idea. But in January, my substitute teaching job ended and my schedule was wiped clear, except for the endless laundry, school work, and parenting responsibilities, of course.

About a week later, our paths crossed with a jaunty little puppy who suckered us all into taking her home. (see "exhibit B")
Exhibit B: Shortly after her arrival. She looks as shocked as I was.
Life since has been the second dimension of Hell. We got a weimaraner because we'd read and heard that they were such smart dogs. Very family-oriented. Et cetera. Apparently, all the "literature" was written by weim breeders and WRONG because we have yet to see evidence of this intelligence. All we've seen is evidence of destruction (see "exhibits C and D").
Exhibit C: Couch (this is one of two effected cushions)

Exhibit D: Carpet
And lots of it. In fact, she is actually at the point now where you can see she knows there will be consequences for her malfeasance, but she just chooses to big-fat-do-it-anyway. She has determined that the consequences are not so bad after all. In fact, she LIKES the taste of bitter apple spray. She actually licks it off whatever you spray it on to make her stop licking it.

While I'm not exactly enjoying puppyhood, it is definitely my husband's turn to feel the pressure of an untrained and seemingly untrainable puppy. And the pressure is pretty bad. It is 24/7 psycho house here. Chewed up stuff everywhere. Dog smell. Roughhousing all the time. It is exhausting and smelly.

But, that's about to end! In ONE WEEK I'm bringing in the big guns. Dog-aggedon is coming! (It is even on the Mayan's calendar so it must be true!) In one week, the best dog trainer in town is coming to my house and life as Exhibit B knows it is about to end. We are going to kick some doggie butt and life will be good. She will sit, stay, come, refrain from jumping, barking, and soiling in the house AND, because I got a GROUPON, she should also be able to cook, clean, do dishes, do laundry, and help with homework as well!!! My life is about to get very good! I can't believe I didn't get a second dog sooner. Update soon!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pretense is the mother f@%$er of dissention

Yes, I know. I'm slightly misquoting Plato here, but mostly I just wanted to write this post so I could use this badass title. However, the more I think about what I'm going to say to make it work, the more I'm agreeing with my miraculously brilliant brain. (See what I you are irritated with me because of my pretentiousness! Perfection!! It totally works!) Plus, I'm running a little behind on my commitment to overexposing myself so I needed to post something.

You see, I mentioned before that my mind is rebellious. I was always taught to think critically about things. Question everything. Don't accept information at its face value. As a result, I don't cognitively comply with much. I will always think, "you said you are 39, but I think you are...not."

That's all fine and well until this incessant questioning pairs itself up with a compliant spirit (also mentioned before). The problem is that a rebellious mind partnered with a compliant spirit typically manifests itself in a perpetually conflicted mind.

Then, sprinkle a little expectation on that...just a little something that someone else thinks I need to be doing...and the whole thing starts to implode. If I am confronted by an expectation, I will instantly rebel in my head, but comply (equally as instantly) in my body. First, I question the validity of the request. Then, I rebel against it. Then, I big-fat-do-it-anyway. Ridiculous, right? How can anyone be happy selling themselves out 24/7?

In fact, don't tell anyone, but the quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can't. And if you really want to piss me off to get slightly quicker compliance, just tell me I can't because I'm...a woman...not good at it....not smart enough...not coordinated enough...not pretty enough...not skinny, the list can go on ad infinitum.

In practice, this looks like this...I don't want to do something, but I do it anyway. I don't like something, but I let it continue. I don't like BBQ at all, but I'll eat it anyway.

So basically, now I'm doing both what people tell me to do and what they tell me I can't do. And, it turns out, I can only do so much. I just figured out that I'm not thinking for myself anywhere in this and that's seriously fucked up! So now I'm pissed! And there is nothing worse than an angry pleaser, let me tell you!

Now, there's one more layer to this...pretense. Add pretense to this expectation that there is a perfect, one way to do things. An image to which I am supposed to aspire or something I should just do because I should. Because it is the "right thing" to do. And suddenly I don't really want to do that so much any more. Now I'm dissenting. An angry, dissenting pleaser. With a brain about to melt out of my ears!

I know I'm not alone on this either; I think this is true for most people. No one wants to be told what to do; yet we spend our entire lives trying to figure out how to follow conventions enough to get away with not following them completely. Think about all that experimenting you did in high school or college. Bucking the system is ingrained in our DNA. (Or, at least, I think it is. It should be. I'm too lazy to do the research so don't quote me on that.) But the part I never got out of all that mess was that you are supposed to end up with a definition of self. Who you are and what you think and what you do. Self-ownership.

Well, I've decided to take action. And I'm totally going to mid-life crisis my ass all over this one albeit in a very conventional way. However, I will say that back when I conceived of it, it wasn't so conventional. (At least, I'll give myself that in my quest for perfect imperfection.) I'm going to go back in time to right a wrong I made to myself more than 20 years ago! And here's what my action looks like....

I have wanted a tattoo since 1991, but I didn't do it for so many reasons. None of which are because I didn't want to. I'm not surrounded by a posse of people who would agree that getting a tattoo is really the best idea and, therefore, it bucks convention to a certain degree in my world. Because of my tendency to comply, I never really trusted myself to do it. I let myself be talked out of it many a time.

Now here's the tattoo has belonged here for so long that when I finally did it, I felt relief. It is as though my outsides and insides are starting to align. My tattoo is a reminder to me that my body and my mind are my own. A reminder that no person should take lightly. For various reasons, I've let mine be owned by others for so long and I'm taking it back! And the owl is a reminder of that wisdom.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ghost Post: Fit to be tied

I am the privileged recipient of my first ghost post. Yeah! If this becomes a popular thing, I might have to start charging. But, seriously, this was submitted by an anonymous contributor. So...not my midlife crisis. Someone else's. Enjoy!! (And let me know if you want to ghost post yourself! I would love it!)


I just heard these words come out of my mouth: "Be careful tying yourselves up!". My kids were cinching themselves to rolled-up camping pads with the straps intended to keep the pads in a tightly rolled configuration. As I walked out of their room, I started questioning myself: should they be tying themselves up at all? Should I have just shut up and let them have their fun? Is it actually dangerous to the point where they should stop? See, I have no idea. My parents might be described as having been shockingly neglectful in many ways, so I have a very limited sense of appropriate boundaries in many, many situations. But I do recall getting occasional advice from my dad, and one of the things he told me, probably repeatedly, was to never, ever let anyone tie me up, even if it's called a game. Reasonable advice? I don't know. Here's a few other nuggets from him:
  • always keep your eye on your wallet
  • if it happens to you, it's your fault (this might easily be misconstrued: I believe his intent was to address things like not getting an application in on time because the mail carrier was late; clearly you should have planned ahead a little more and given yourself some margin for error. He did not intend to blame victims of crimes or similar).
  • never trust the son of a bitch (this refers to drivers with their signals on; never believe they are actually turning until you see them turn. They might have it on and not know, or change their mind at the last minute, etc.)
Wise counsel? Seems like it. He also insisted I learn to pump gas, change a tire, and learn to drive an old three on the tree manual transmission Chevy pickup before I could get my license, and made me take hunter safety classes. But no one noticed when I snuck out my bedroom approximately 382728282 nights during high school and was hungover an approximately equal number of mornings. No one noticed when I hit puberty and overnight literally had no clothes that I could fit into to wear to school. Including a bathing suit for mandatory 9th grade swimming. I had absolutely no idea the ridiculous lengths teenage (and adult!) boys will go to get in your pants. I could go on but I'm pretty sure you get the picture.

So. Back to my probably questionable parenting practices. I know I do it wrong. I have proof! Last year one of my kids had an earache while we were on vacation. I dosed him up on Advil, feeling all competent and shit. It just kept getting worse and I kept giving him more medicine. My husband thought we should take him to the doctor and I argued. I had at least a million earaches when I was a kid, no one ever took me to a doctor. Actually, I doubt I got the meds, either. Sometimes they'd go away and sometimes my eardrum would pop and bloody fluid would come out and it would feel better. If I was lucky it was just one side. So, a doctor? What for, right? Sure enough, his eardrum popped, and my husband INSISTED we go to the ER. So we went. And the doctor, with a horrified look on her face, informed us how DANGEROUS AND STUPID it was to just ignore an excruciating earache. Huh. Who knew?

At the same time, I think I have developed my finest qualities from having been left alone to fend for myself. There must be a balance there somewhere, but I have no idea where it is. I think I'm just going to close their bedroom door, get myself a beer, and think about bondage.