10 ON TUESDAY! (if by Tuesday, you mean Wednesday)

Well well well.  Did we all survive Thanksgiving '11?  Hope so.  We went to my BFF's house on Turkey Day.  I am kind of a holiday orphan, my mom and her husband don't really do anything (I guess if I was a halfway decent daughter I'd put on a spread over at their house but we can get into the issues I have with that idea a little bit later), and of course the father/daughter relationship between Dad and me is still pretty rocky.  So it was off to my friend's house for me and the kids.  Great food (she could make a sock taste good, for reals), lots of kids, lots of wine and lots of laughs.  My only complaint (sorry Michelle, you know I love you!!) was NO PIE!!!  I made pumpkin bars (thank god) but there was no pie, pumpkin or otherwise.  One of my fabulous co-workers made me a sweet potato pie that I will inhale get from her on Thursday. Drooling just thinking about it.

Anyhoo.  On with the 10.

1.  I wish I could figure out how to remove songs from my iPod (I know it's like I just admitted I can't read, but whatever).  I have a massive amount of vagina music on there, from my maudlin "I'm all out of love" post-divorce phase (lots of Maroon 5, Coldplay, Kelly Clarkson, etc.  God help me.).  And yes, tons of Alanis Morisette but I kind of still like her.  One of my kids should be able to help me but they just laugh when I ask how to do it.

2.  I.am.OBSESSED.  With Walking Dead.  Do you watch?  The mid-season finale was on Sunday night, and yes, I wept a little.  No spoilers from me, but can you say "A mommy's worst nightmare?".  And then I had a zombie nightmare, where I was literally fighting them off.  Probably didn't help that I had two growing boys in bed with me, along with an 80 lb. dog.  In my dreams I was ripping legs and arms off of zombies, in reality I was being poked and hit and kicked by flailing kid limbs.  Hmm...maybe it wasn't zombies in my dream, after all.  Cannot wait for the show to start back up in February.  I have now read most of the comics (excuse me, "graphic novels", apologies to my geek friends especially Jeff), so it's hard to watch knowing what is coming, but they've changed things up a bit so ya never know.  And may I also add, meowwwww Daryl!  Redneck never looked so good.  Hope they keep him alive (and human).

(and yes, I did just tell all 16 of you that my boys slept in my bed.  And I'm ok with that.  Just don't give them crap about it, Walking Dead really is scary.)

3.  So I've picked up some extra hours at work, in the Sibling Care room for the Early Childhood Classes on Mondays.  That means I get to play with, hold and LOVE some adorable babies.  The two youngest ones are about 8 months old, and I adore them.  But I will say, the sheer enormity of how AWARE you have to be around little ones had completely left my train of thought.  I will also say, it's amazing how quickly your body remembers how to do everything with a sweet baby on your hip.  But I won't lie:  it sure is nice to hand them over to mommy when they are sobbing or stinking.

4.  Read labels, people.  Last week I mistakenly bought SHAVED parmesan cheese instead of the usual shredded.  You'd think I was trying to put flakes of human skin on the spaghetti.  My kids are usually pretty flexible but not a one of them will eat this stuff.

5.  So I may be going to the (say this in a haughty British accent, please) THEATRE with Cabin Boy this Thursday.  I'm pretty sure I've already hinted around to some of my hens about being my date, but I'm hoping they'll understand if he can go.  Dinner and a show could turn into dinner and a show with benefits!  Not that I don't enjoy the company of my lovely friends but come on...I could use a little Cabin action. He had invited me over for dinner Monday, but Henry had a choir concert.  I'm still leery about getting together here in "Real World" as opposed to the fantasy world that is "Up North".  Up North is like the midwestern version of Vegas:  what happens there, stays there.  Unless you write about it on a blog.   

6.  Took the boys to see "Real Steel" last week, and if you have boys (or like to see Hugh Jackman in a wife-beater) I highly recommend it.  I don't particularly care for boxing/wrestling/fighting movies but this one was good.  On the way home, William declared it as "the best movie I've seen in my whole life".  That's high praise.  It took a lot of effort (ok not really but the thought did cross my mind) to not just drop them off at Real Steel and then park my big butt over in the theater showing "Contagion".  Guess that will be a Red Box feature. 

7.  Molly and I are watching "Wife Swap" right now.  Dear God, it's like a car wreck.  One of the wives on right now is one of those reborn doll people.  Like they carry these eerily life-like baby dolls around and treat them like real babies.  I can't look away.  Have you ever seen these dolls?  Take a look here.  But be warned:  they are creepily real looking, and the way some of these chicks write about their "babies" (like birth weights, sleeping habits, etc) may send some serious chills down your spine.  Wife Swap is never what you'd call highbrow but the reborn doll lady and the Loozeeanna backwoods husband made this one particularly horrifying.

8.  So I am now preparing to sell my truck and get a new ride.  Yes, I'm still feeling aftershocks of hurt and bitterness over the "mom offering me her vehicle and then selling it" thing.  I know, I know, grow up Jenny.  But I'd be a big fat liar if I said it didn't still sting a little.  However, the truck needs to go.  I have pumped over $100 worth of gas into that beast over the past 9 days and it's almost on E again.  During the other 10 1/2 months of the year it's hard to see those dollar signs going into the gas tank, but at this time of year as I stand there at the pump and watch the dollars increase all I can think of is "There's another Christmas present, and another, and another".  The only rub with selling my vehicle will be the interim period between vehicles.  Too bad there isn't a Car Swap show, huh?

9.  Tonight, I'm taking my 8 confirmation girls out shopping.  We do this every year, our church buys new gifts for a local Youth Center.  They have a big shopping day where "disadvantaged" youth can buy Christmas presents for their families (the center marks everything for like 25 cents a piece).  It's one of my favorite things we do at confirmation, and the girls LOVE it.  We go to Big Lots (a giant store with closeout things, lots of random stuff which is perfect for our mission) and then go get ice cream afterwards.  There's irony for ya, huh?  Me, crapping my pants worried about Christmas, going out shopping for other people.  But (and I'm not being sappy here) you cannot believe how fun it is, watching these 14 year old girls doing something like this, for strangers.  Henry is going with his confirmation class, too, and even though we're strapped I will make sure he has $$ for this.  You can't put a price on the warm fuzzies this shopping trip produces. 

10.  Hug a teacher.  (ok, if you know a homeschooler, hug them too)  Underpaid, overworked, dealing with 25-30 distinct, sometimes frustrating personalities.  If there was fairness in this world, teachers would get doctor-like salaries.  A good teacher is probably one of the greatest things a child can have.  My kids have all benefited from several of them, and I am eternally grateful for that!

Enjoy your Wednesday, people!  And check out Lin's awesome blog for more Ten on Tuesdays (except she always does hers on actual Tuesdays).


Giving Thanks

Sometimes, in this life, it's easy to get caught up in the drama.

It's easy to let the stress, the worry, the anxiety, the monotony, the banality of it all consume us.  To fill our heads, and our hearts.  

It's easy to overlook the positive.

For some of us, the positive is harder to see than it is for others.  For some of us, we have to dig pretty deep to find it.  Like elbow-deep.  Eyeball deep.  

Sometimes, finding the positive is like looking at one of those god-forsaken Magic Eye pictures.  While everyone around you exhales with relief as they finally see the hidden image, you stand there squinting, tilting your head, trying desperately to see it.

Here's a little tip from me to you:  Stop squinting.  Not only will it give you wrinkles, it's not necessary.  

Open up your eyes.  Look around you.  The positive?  IT'S EVERYWHERE.  It's all around you, floating through the air like fairy dust, settling in your hair, on the furniture, gathering up in clumps under your bed.  It's settled into drifts out in the front yard, it coats your windshield and fogs the big window in the living room like frost.  

It's there.

It's that stranger who stops and helps you fix a flat.  It's the weight of a child as they settle into your lap. It's the sweet old man at the food shelf who not only helps you load up your car, but actually thanks you for stopping by.  It's the teacher who loves your child, the friend who seems to just know when you need a hug (or an alibi).  It's the parent who would lay down their life for their child, the dog who sits with you while you cry, the husband and wife at your church who provide camp scholarships in honor of their lost, and beloved, son.  It's your friend's husband who pulls your car out of a ditch, brings you a box of meat after their weekend hunt, or welcomes you and your kids at their cabin every summer.  

It's that unexpected surprise in your mailbox that means you can get a few Christmas presents for your kids.  It's the guy at the bank who looks at you and sees his struggling single mom and decides to give you a break.  It's every single person in your life who doesn't judge, who loves you simply for who you are and who is a willing participant in your life.

It's the judge who sees injustice and finally, finally fixes it.  It's the sweet landlord who takes a huge chance on you.  It's the women who ask you to sub for them, before anyone else, because they know you need the money.  It's the lady at the gym, who greets you with a "Hey!  How are you?" at 5:00 in the morning.  It's the neighbor who always has a half cup of milk, an extra stick of butter or a plate of chocolate chip cookies.  It's the friend who supplied your kids with notebooks, pencils and reams of filler paper back in September.  It's the person who lives in another state, a person you've never met face to face, who has reached out and tweaked your heart with amazing grace and love.  

In case you haven't figured it out, these are just some of the positives I've seen in my life over the past year or so.  I used to let the awfulness of life weigh me down.  I used to wallow in it, let it consume me and let it determine how I went about my days.  It used to define me.

But not anymore.  

I stopped squinting and I saw all of the good that was right there in front of me.  It envelops me, and my kids, lifts us up, keeps us going, pushes us when we need it and holds us when we rest.  

And for that, I am thankful.

Be well, my friends.  Celebrate all that you have today, and every day.  Thank those who have enriched your lives, and the lives of your loved ones.  Live your life with your eyes, and your hearts and minds, wide open.

You will be amazed by what you see.  

Happy Thanksgiving.


Ten on Twosday....Yes, late again.

Winter has arrived in Minneapolis...sort of.  We had our first measurable snow a few days ago.  A lot of my dear friends are bemoaning the onset of mitten/boots/snowpants weather, and all of the hullaballoo and chaos that follows.  But you know what?  That changes when your kids get older.  My big kids don't even wear coats until it's below zero, and even then they act like I'm asking them to wear a Shrek mask or something.  The days of hanging up 3 or 4 sets of soaking wet snowpants over the shower rod and of squeezing as many little boots in front of the heating vents as I could are over for me.  And that, just like every other little milestone that seems to be slipping between my fingers on a daily basis, is so very bittersweet.  For those of you still wrestling with the seemingly never-ending hunt for the lost left mitten or racing to school to drop off the forgotten boots, try and enjoy these days.  Well, maybe not enjoy but don't let it get you too frazzled.  This too shall pass.

Ok, maudlin hormone induced weep-fest over...let's get to the 10, shall we?  We shall.

1.  Thank you.  You know who you are, I, unfortunately have no clue who you may be.  But please know that whoever you are, I love you.  My kids love you.  And the five of us are grateful.  I have tears rolling down my cheeks as I type this, tears of happiness but I'd be a big fat liar if I didn't admit there's a bit of shame mixed in there as well.  I don't know that I deserve what you did for us, but I know that my kids sure do.  So for that, THANK YOU.  There are angels among us, my friends.  Always remember that.

2.  Who goes to the gym at 5:00 a.m.?  Me!  Started last week.  And much to my surprise, it's not only pretty painless but it's actually PLEASANT.  Mornings have been, dare I say...easier.  I feel like someone has hit me upside the head with a happy stick, all because I've been getting my ass out of bed and lifting weights and chugging away on the treadmill before most people have hit their snooze buttons for the first time.  The only downside is that I'm completely worthless by 8:30 at night.  Like, snoring and drooling on the couch worthless.

3.  Yo, dream interpreters (yeah Shannon, I'm looking in your general direction):  My dreams have been absolutely flooded with old boyfriends lately.  Nothing raunchy, believe it or not....the dreams are more like mini-flashbacks.  Little snippets of time with a few of the ones who got away.  One from high school, one from college and several about Andy.  Ok, the ones about Andy are PG-13, but he was like a young (Iceman) Val Kilmer, people. Watching him sleep was a trip to erotic city. I think dreams are not only a glimpse into our psyches but that they are also trying to tell us something.  What are these telling me?  Is it some deep message from my psyche, or is it simply my libido telling me to arrange a tryst with Cabin Boy?

4.  I am like the last person on earth who retailers would give a whit about, but I have to say that I think the practice of opening any store on Thanksgiving is wrong.  Mark my words, in the very near future (like maybe next year), stores will just say "eff it" and be open regular hours on Thanksgiving.  Working retail sucks hard enough, people.  You want to be open on a major holiday just to make more money?  Get management in there manning the cash registers.  Upper management.  Let's see how many Walmarts and Best Buys are open then.

5.  Have you seen these Target commercials?

Her name is Maria Bamford.  My dear friend Whitney gifted me and Uncle Lorie with a night out earlier this fall, to a comedy club where we were lucky enough to see this amazingly insane, hysterical woman perform.  I  laughed so hard I had chapped lips the next day.   Minnesota may not be remarkable, but we do make funny people.  Check out her stand up stuff on You Tube...

6.  The other day I had a very deep conversation with my Charlie.  We talked about how, if an alien were to land in the United States and was given a television to watch, and watched nothing but commercials, they would assume that we are a country with no poverty, no illness and no worries.  Seriously..according to the marketing powers that be, every family has a pretty, tastefully appointed home with a fabulous kitchen, every family has a giant flat screen t.v., every family has a hapless dad, a smirking mom and a passel of adorable kids.  And iPads. Charlie is an amazing conversationalist, with wise-beyond-his-years observations and a very firm grip on reality.  Have you sat down and had a real conversation with a teenager lately?  I highly recommend it.  They are fascinating creatures.  And, like Whitney Houston once told us, they are the future.

7.  Tomorrow is the feast at my BFF's house.  I'm in charge of Bread.  I need to go get some croissants, which means a trip to the grocery store or Costco today.  I'm trying to determine if I should go right when they open, or sneak in at the last second tonight.  Going in the morning would mean going shoulder-to-shoulder with the masses, going later poses the risk of finding nothing but shelves that have been picked clean.  I'm also making my kick ass pumpkin bars (with the cream cheese frosting recipe DOUBLED, y'all) and my kick ass mashed potatoes (the secret ingredient is...wait for it...cream cheese.  Why am I fat???).  I love feasts.

8.  My friend Danielle and I were talking the other day, and I confessed to her that I have no idea what all of this "Occupy Wall Street" stuff means.  Seriously.  I have a vague idea, but don't know what it's really about.  She made me feel better by confessing that she, too, was clueless.  I still don't know what it's all about but I saw that Susan Sarandon is now involved which tells me it's something kind of lame (sorry, Susan).

9.  Cold weather means dry skin.  Dry skin means itchy skin.  Itchy skin means itchy head.  Itchy head means full-blown lice paranoia.  I am checking my head daily.  Shudder.

10.  Free passes to the local Cinema Grill means the boys and I will be seeing "Real Steel" this afternoon.  I'm hopeful that Hugh Jackman will take off his shirt at least once.

Ok, now I must start stretching in preparation for the croissant hunt.  I'm goin' in.  Cover me.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.  Please take a moment tomorrow to acknowledge all that we have to be thankful for.  I know I will.

Check out more Ten on Tuesdays at Linny's Vault.  Sorry I'm late again, Lin!!!


It's a broke thing...you wouldn't understand

Just when you think you've endured every humiliation, survived every pride-squashing event, every single thing that comes with being one of the "less fortunate", something comes along to remind you.  Something happens and all of a sudden it's like that old, healing wound is ripped open again, the pain that had become a vague memory comes charging back up to the surface.  The shame, the embarrassment, the hurt.

And the pain is intensified when it's a friend who reopens that wound.

When you're "financially challenged" like I've been for the past 3 years, it's kind of like experiencing a death.  The death of a lifestyle, if you will.  You go through a wide range of emotions, just as you would when dealing with the passing of a loved one.  Because, let's be honest...we don't love our money like we do our people, but we do love the comfort and the ease with which we go through our daily existence here on Earth.  When things change, as they sometimes do, the shock and the grief is very real.  So very, very real.

But, we humans are nothing if not resilient.  After a while, I adjusted to my current situation.  I don't like it, and I'm totally determined to change it, but for the meantime, I adapted.  I still can't stand the stress.  It still hurts my heart when I see my kids trying to grapple with the monumental task of trying to fit in, trying to blend with peers who have so much.  I still feel a shifting of my zen when a friend mentions something totally innocent like going on a trip or Christmas shopping or looking at new cars and then, remembering that they are talking to Poor Jenny, cast their eyes downward and quickly change the subject.  Or worse, when they get that look on their faces, like I just walked in on them rolling around on a pile of money.  That guilty look.

I thought, for the most part, that awkwardness was over.  Pretty much everyone in my life, my friends especially, are aware of what's been going on.  They've been there with me through the initial shock when Big Daddy first quit paying child support, through my decline from "happily middle class" to "super unhappy peasant".  Through the loss of my home, through the bankruptcy, through the frozen checking account and the days when both my cupboards and gas tank were bare (like two weeks ago, hardy har har).  What I'm saying is, I thought there was a mutual understanding between me and my hens.  I'm broke, they (for the most part) aren't.  But we were co-existing quite nicely, I thought.  An unwritten code had been implemented:  we are equals for the most part, except that I'm not the one who can go shopping on a whim, or out to eat, or to go get pedicures or sign up for 3 months of hot yoga.  Other than that, though...equals.  I'll drink a glass of wine with you, watch stupid t.v. shows, gab about chick things until the wee hours of the night.

Until last week.  The friend in question, along with a few of our mutual friends, reads my little blog so I'm going to keep this very impartial, very factual.  I'm not writing about it to "get" her, or to make her appear small or clueless.  Because she's not.  She's a sweet friend, a funny friend, and I love her.  What we went through last week was not only eye-opening, it turned out to be so very educational for me.  Taught me to step outside my little poverty-stricken box for a minute and to see things from a different perspective.  And for that, I'm thankful.  I needed that.

My friend had a birthday party.  My friend lives in a city I like to call Buttf*ck Egypt, as I call pretty much any city that's more than 15 miles away from my cozy village.  This comes from a decade of driving a truck that gets about 10 miles per gallon.  Again, something that I have become used to.  If it's a long drive, chances are that I'm not able to go unless I can mooch a ride.  I simply cannot afford to put any more gas in my truck than I already do.  Sad?  Pathetic?  Yep.  But it is what it is.

Now, I didn't RSVP to the party in a timely fashion.  Truth be told, I was waiting it out, seeing what the gods of driving and money threw my way that week.  Ended up, big surprise, that what they threw wasn't good.  It was a week away from my next paycheck and the gas tank was bare.  So was our fridge, but that's a whole 'nother post.  Bottom line was, I couldn't go to her party.  I sent her a message, told her I was sorry, that I loved her, and wished her a happy birthday.  I felt bad, yes.  But I had $16.00 in my checking account and four kids to feed and the money tree in the backyard was completely bare.  It was a done deal.

Until another friend of mine posted on my facebook wall.  A short, innocent post about an upcoming concert, and would I be going?  I posted back, saying I didn't have tickets but I'd check with another friend of ours to see what the prospects were.  Of course I didn't have the money, but hey...you never know when the Concert Ticket Fairy is going to appear.  Stranger things have happened.

And that's when all hell broke loose.  Birthday friend saw the post, and then sent me a message.  Saying she was sorry that I couldn't make her party.  Oh, and by the way...hope those concert tickets are free.

Ouch.  I replied, one of my lengthy replies (kind of like this one...hmmm).  Apologized, told her I felt bad, but remember, I'm Poor Jenny.  And I did feel bad.  Not only bad because I missed her party, but suddenly bad about my situation.  Bad because I couldn't afford to drive 20-some miles to help a friend celebrate a birthday.  Just bad.

She replied, and her reply was the one that opened the floodgates of emotion.  All of those old feelings came back, refreshed and tanned after their lengthy stay on that sunny isle I like to call "Denial".  Shame, embarrassment, guilt.  My old buddies.

I won't go into detail about what she said, but it had to do with her impression that I was lying about my financial situation.  Because she was sure that I was making, and this is verbatim, "non-essential purchases".  Oops, I guess I did go into some detail.  But that was what she said, and that was what made me feel, to be blunt, like shit.

I replied back, explaining my poorness, describing in great detail what it's like to live as I do, how I have to pick and choose between essential and non-essential purchases.  I was actually trying to prove to someone, someone I thought was my friend, exactly how poor I am.

To make a long and super wordy story a tiny bit shorter, we went back and forth a few times.  I felt sick, I felt like a giant loser, I felt exposed.  I found myself trying to justify my life, and it was ugly.

Until I had an epiphany:  she couldn't possibly understand.  I could try and explain it for a million years and she, like most of the people in my everyday life, could never ever understand.

Because unless you've been down here in the trenches with me, unless you've actually lived through this nightmarish time, there is no way in hell you can understand.  I imagine it's like trying to explain what it feels like to have a baby to someone who's never done it, or what it's like for a guy to explain to a girl what it feels like to have a boner (really?  Am I the only one who has ever wondered?).  It's just not possible.

Can they sympathize?  You betcha.  Kind of empathize?  Maybe.  But really and truly "get it"?  Nope. Does that make me superior in some sick, twisted way?  Does it make her (or others) some sort of unfeeling ogre, someone lacking in compassion?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  And that's when the healing began again.  I saw this situation, finally, from her perspective.  She was hurt, she was angry, she was sad.  I put myself in her shoes, and I saw it from her vantage point.  I recalled what my life used to be like, back before these dark days.  I remembered how it used to be, when life wasn't divvied up into dollars and cents and essential vs. non-essential purchases.

And I got it.  I apologized.  I don't know if our friendship will survive this bump in the road.  I hope it does, but I don't know.  I do know that it taught me something, and I hope it taught her something as well.

It taught me to take off my blinders every once in a while, and to remember that my reality is just that:  it's mine.  I don't have to explain it, or justify it to anyone, but I do have to realize that not everyone understands. It doesn't mean that they're not my friends, or that they aren't wonderful, caring and compassionate people.  It just means I have to do a better job of seeing things differently.  Because someday, I'm going to need to go back to these days.  I'm going to have to dredge up the memories and remember what it was like.

My goal in this life is to learn something, anything, every single day.  I learned a lot last week.


Ten on Toosday Wednesday

Yes, I'm well aware that it's Wednesday.  I did this last night, but fell asleep before I finished it.  I think, technically, it may still be Tuesday in Asia.  Or one of the Poles....

So I still can't zip my winter coat without sucking in but I think I'll be ok.  I celebrated by eating rice with dinner last night and pad thai at Danielle's house today.  Tomorrow morning I'm going to attempt my first "before dawn" workout.  If I can get to the gym around 5 a.m., I'll be able to work out for about an hour and then get home in time to wake the angels for school.

Yes, I still wake them up like an enabling mother effer.  I figure they have the rest of their lives to greet each day with an electronic elbow to the ear, why not let their childhoods have at least a couple sweet mama memories?  Of course you'd think I would have learned my lesson with "Mr. No Wakey" Charlie, but I swear, the rest of them wake up after just one knock on the door or one nudge of the shoulder.  Ok, maybe I do have to say "Wakey wakey" a few times (and sometimes I add my favorite line from 'My Name Is Earl':  hands off snakey!) (have a mentioned how much therapy my kids are going to need in the future?).  Mother of the Year, folks.

So here be the 10:

1.  I could watch Sex and The City for hours and hours and hours and not get sick of it.  I don't know why I have such a deep love for that show, but I do.  I can't stand Miranda, can barely tolerate Carrie but damn if I don't sit and watch episodes that I can practically narrate myself.  Charlotte is my favorite, followed closely by Samantha.  It's fun to watch and see people who are BIG STARS now back in tiny little walk on roles.  David Duchovny, Vince Vaughn, Amy Sedaris, the silver fox from Mad Men (remember he wanted Carrie to pee on him?  Love that episode.).  I think this show is awesome.  But then again I'm watching Charmed as I write this so you may want to take my television opines with a grain of salt.

2.  Speaking of my friend Danielle, last night she accompanied me on a quest to open a new bank account.  Her bank was offering a special $150 sign up bonus so I went ahead and opened a new account.  Goodbye, Wells Fargo.  I've been banking with Wells Fargo since 1989 when they were still called Norwest.  I hate banking there, for several reasons, mainly because they are now charging a monthly service fee for "free checking" and also because they still perform the just-about-illegal, definitely shady practice of posting checks and withdrawals in the order of largest to smallest, not in the order they were received by the bank.  For someone like me, who has days when there are just mere vapors in my account, this can be bad.  So I am bidding them adieu.

And yes, I'm sure they're holding a special board meeting tonight, trying to figure out how to woo me to stay.

3.  Someone from Zantigos.com is reading my blog.  Is it you?  Come on, friend, show this sister some love!  I used to love me some Cheese Chilitos back in the day.  Hook a girl up.

4.  Speaking of me being a creepy stats reader, I noticed that one poor soul found my blog by typing this gem into Google:  "horny teenagers foikimg therselfs".  I figured his hands were probably pretty well-lubricated by that point, hence the sloppy keystrokes.  Pun intended.  I feel so violated when one of the pervs finds me.

5.  We've been looking through old photos lately, I found a couple of big boxes in the garage the other day and they've provided mucho entertainment.  I still find it incredibly painful to look at pics of the kids B.D. (before divorce).  It makes me want to jump into the picture and save them from the inevitable.  Luckily, there are also stacks of pictures of me and my posse from my late teens and twenties.  With these pics I want to climb in there and get my hands back on my 21 year old body.  Or some of the 20-something boys I was with...sigh.

6.  Guess what?  There are things I love, things I hate, and things that fill me with absolute indifference.  For instance, I love the new Twizzlers Ropes (they are like long Nibs, something I have been fantasizing about since my childhood.  I used to think, 'what if the Nib machine broke and they couldn't cut them?'  Thank you, Twizzlers.).  I hate anything that smells like, tastes like or even is the same shade as peaches.  Let's just say I had a harrowing experience with peach schnapps back in the day and leave it at that.  And I am completely indifferent about pancakes.  I won't go out of my way to get them, don't seek them out, but if you put a plate in front of me, yeah...I'll eat them.  Not with great passion, but I will leave a clean plate.

7.  Time for me to start surfing WebMd again.  This time I'm looking up "BRUISES EASILY" and no, I'm not talking about my heart.  Walter, who I am once again calling "Long Clawed Van Damme" got me with his Wolverine claws right on the tender, fleshy part of my inner thigh.  And no, it's not as racy as it sounds.  Walter will get right up in your grill if he needs something, like food or water or attention, and rake you with those Freddy Krueger talons.  He did that a couple of days ago and I now have two GIANT bruises there.  Each roughly the size and shape of a big t.v. remote (you like how I can bring everything back to either t.v. or food?  My first comparison was going to be 'the size and shape of a banana').  If I were a kid it would most definitely be the time when concerned people started calling CPS.  But what it's really time for is a claw trimming, which Walter and I both look forward to with the same giddy anticipation.

8.  A friend mentioned seasonal employment to me this weekend.  And I'm thinking about it.  If I could find a temporary, part time gig where I didn't have to dress up and didn't have to deal with the public I'd totally do it.  Because I don't have "office worthy" clothes and I despise interacting with people and their money/and or/food.  I worked in customer service, in one way or another, from the time I was 16 years old (Target cashier) through college and my early twenties (bakery girl, make up counter, flight attendant) and then as a young mother (Once Upon a Child).  I used to have a decent filter in place when it came to keeping my mouth shut while someone gave me a piece of their mind, but age and being a mom have worn that filter down to a transparent nub.  I'd give myself a week before I told someone to stick their expired coupon right up their ass.

9.  When did time start flying by so quickly?  Is this an age thing, or are our lives so stuffed and rushed and busy that time really is going faster?

10.  We had a mayoral race this past week here in my enchanted little city, and while it remained civil and polite, it was very interesting to see how it made fine lines in the sand between some of my friends.  Our incumbent mayor has been in the seat for a decade and has never had any real competition.  This time she did.  I am not one who discusses politics in a public forum, and really didn't talk about this one with my friends, either.  But this whole thing kind of reminded me, in a very, very general, broad way, of the fantastic movie "Wag The Dog".  Let me be clear, there was absolutely no sex scandal, no fake war, but to see the political machine in motion was very, very intriguing.  The big politico machines have gears and wheels that spin even at this seemingly innocuous level.  Congratulations to our new Mayor, and a big thank you to the one on her way out.

And that's it.  I'm still going to link up to the fabulous Linny's Vault, even though I'm a day late I hope she'll forgive me.

Now you all go out there and have a great day, you hear?


Winnebago Man...how I love thee.

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you know I have a deep-seated love for the phenom known as "Winnebago Man".  I remember the first time I watched the clip on YouTube.  I laughed until I cried.  I watched it at least 4 times that night, and since then I check back every few months and watch it again.

"What's the appeal?" you may ask.  "What draws you, and over 3 million other people to watch this middle aged guy going apeshit whilst filming an infomercial for Winnebago campers?".

To be honest with you, I don't exactly know what it is.  It's partly due to the fact that it's absolutely hilarious.  It's almost refreshing to see a normal person losing it.  I think for me, it's  a relief to see that I'm not the only one who loses my cool from time to time.  Of course, I don't lose it at Winnebago man's level (ok, hardly ever and thank God never in front of a camera) but it's nice to see someone just cutting loose and letting the f-bombs fly.

There's also the fact that I was mildly aroused by Winnebago man, but I think that has more to do with my daddy/Dabney Coleman issues than the actual man himself.

Have you not seen Winnebago man?  I'll link to the clip here, but BE WARNED:  there are f-bombs, god-dammits and shits galore.  

You back?  I hope you enjoyed it.  And now, the reason for this post.  Yesterday, a friend came over after work and we took over the mancave since they have the XBOX down there and that's the only place I can stream Netflix since our Wii is broken.  It had been a hard day at work, so we sat down on the dilapidated leather couch and cruised the Netflix menu for some mind-numbing entertainment.

We started out with the pilot for the show Parenthood, which 9 out of 10 women my age recommend.  Seriously, if I had a dime for every time someone said, "Oh em gee you HAVE to watch this show!" I'd be able to buy a nice box of wine.  But I digress...we watched about a half hour and decided that Parenthood wasn't cutting it (I later went back and finished it, and at this moment am on Episode 4/Season 1 and have been crying like a big fat baby.  It's cutting it, big time.  More later.).  So we were going through the "Recently Watched" section of the queue, and I saw the sweet familiar mug of my beloved Winnebago Man.  "Oh my gosh, friend...have you ever seen Winnebago Man?".  She hadn't.

Turns out there is an actual MOVIE about Winnebago Man, a documentary of all things.  A young buck from Texas fell in love with him, and tracked him down.  And made a movie about it.

A fabulous, wonderful movie.  This kid, Ben Steinbauer, has taken Winnebago Man, the myth, and turned him into Jack Rebney, the man.  Ben finds Jack living a solitary life as caretaker of an isolated fishing camp, completely unaware of his fame.  I won't give away too much of the movie because it's so freaking AWESOME but I will say this:  when it ended, I was sitting there with tears in my eyes (oh I know, how weird for Jenny to be crying...but whatever).  Point is, I was absolutely moved.  What could have been a mocking look at a now old man's 15 minutes of fame is instead a loving tribute to an intelligent, curmudgeonly and completely embraceable human being.

It's available on Netflix via instant stream or (I believe) as a DVD.  Watch it, if you can, and then when I drop one of my favorite Winnebago Man quotes ("Tony?  Will you do me a favor, please?  Will you do me a kindness?  STOP SLAMMING THE FUCKING DOOR!"......pause, claw-like hand gesture....."NO MORE!") you will nod your head in understanding.  And quite possibly step back a little bit.  But you'll get it.


Ten on Tues.

Hey folks...Blogger is screwing around with things again, I think they really, really want everyone to switch to the new posting format so they're making the old one lame (am I the only one, fellow bloggers? I can't even add links when using the old interface!).

So if this is all in italics, or in an odd font (like my favorite lame font of all time, "JOKERMAN", my apologies. I fear change!

Here's my ten today:

1. Two separate friends informed me of their impending divorces today. Each one made me cry. I think the only divorce news that won't induce weeping will be when Big Daddy and Secretary split up. I will cackle like a witch/chicken hybrid and probably do a little jig.

2. Got my wheels back! I was almost afraid to drive today, thought mayhap I had forgotten how to do it after riding shotgun for so long. But no worries, it all came back to me. Kind of like remembering how to write in cursive after summer vacation back in elementary school..

3. My mom helped me pay for the repairs. I felt massive guilt for being even just a little pissed about not getting her car. For all my humbling experiences and self-effacing talk, it took me about 2 seconds to revert back to petulant, self-important Teenage Jenny over the whole car thing. I got me some growing up to do, apparently.

4. I used to think I hated Daylight Savings because it messed up the schedules of my little kids. Now I know it's because it messes up the schedule of little old me. I am falling asleep at 8:30 every night, and waking up in the middle of the night. I'm so desperate for a decent night's sleep that I borrowed some sleep aids from my BFF. Except now I can't remember where I put them. Sigh.

5. The annual "Thanksgiving Dread" was beginning to blossom until my BFF announced that she was hosting it and not only are the kids and I invited, but a few other friends who aren't lucky enough to be part of a big Norman Rockwell clan. What could have been a sad boring day will now be a raucous event with tons of kids, good friends and for sure lots of awesome food and drink. Now I can relax until Christmas!

6. Speaking of awesome food: I've been low-carbing it for the past week or so. Because I tried on my long down coat and I could HARDLY ZIP IT. I looked like a thick, black, nylon-encased hot dog. I'm taking a cue from my Paleo-enthusiastic friends Whitney and Gary and cutting out starches. So far, it's ok but just between you and me, I look at the bread in the fridge and start salivating. You don't want to hear what bodily response the baked potatoes trigger. Trust me.

7. And speaking of bodily response, Cabin Boy kind of pissed me off today. Now, I know what we have is more of a booty call kind of thing, and I'm ok with that. Really. Because I don't have the time or the energy to do much more than that. So I'm absolutely content with our occasional hook ups, our random dirty texts, and the planned trysts up north. But we hadn't talked for about a week, and today I get a text from him. "Hey girl, how r u?" (and yes, I still loathe text speak. But that's a losing battle). I typed back, "Hey, just great. How are you?". And Cyrano D. B. responds: "Horny". Really, Cabin Boy? Not, "Oh I've been busy, work is crazy. And I'm horny." Even booty call girls appreciate a little small talk. But just between you and me? I couldn't stop thinking about him for the rest of the day. Mission accomplished, Cabin Boy.

8. I am laughing at the gradual increasing length of my posts here...so I'll go short with this one: Watched the new animated offering from Jonah Hill, "Allen Gregory" or whatever it's called. Pure dreck. It physically hurts me to think of the $$$ wasted by producing this crap. Sometimes I despise this country. Ok, not the whole country, mostly Hollywood. And Washington D.C. And a little bit of New York.

9. I need new furniture. Not even new, I don't care about that...I NEED BIGGER FURNITURE! The Ikea crap I have now worked out great when all of the kids were shorter than me. Now I can't sit down anywhere in my house without having a long teenager leg draped over my lap or a dog elbow jabbing me in the back or just my big fat ass taking up too much room. I'm on the hunt for a dirt cheap sectional. Local friends, let me know if you see one on a curb. Ok, maybe not a curb. You know what I mean.

10. I'm developing a scary girl-crush on Melissa McCarthy. Could she be any cooler? I want to sit on my love seat with her, eat baked Brie and crackers, drink red wine and laugh until the wee hours of the night. And now I will sit back and wait for the restraining order to arrive.

Ok my friends, it's almost 8:30 and that means I'll be snoring on the love seat in a matter of minutes (sandwiched between Henry, Walter and William) so I will say adios for now. Hope you are all doing well...remember to laugh a lot, hug your kids (or husband or dog or whomever else you have near you) and do what you need to do to get to tomorrow. Today was kind of an emotional day for me and a good friend. Tears were shed, pride was shelved. But we got through it and I think we will laugh about it in the near future. Life is scary-unpredictable. You never know what's around the corner...but believe it or not? You are strong enough to deal with it.


Ten On Tuezday....

Oh yeah. I really mixed it up today by adding my "old person tries to be hip, fresh and urban" spelling of Tuesday.

So Halloween '11 has come and gone. This year I decided to break out of my bubble and actually wear a costume other than my standard devil horns (if anyone asked what I was I said, "an ex-wife" hardy har har). My awesome friend Danielle and I took a big cardboard box that once held a new toilet and transformed it into a giant box of wine. A Bota Box, to be precise. And it was AWESOME. I won first prize at the fun grown up costume party I went to on Saturday night. Thought I'd try it out again at the trivia costume party the next night but guess what? Boxed wine humor is completely lost on the under-30 crowd. They'll appreciate it someday.

The kicker of my costume, the crowning jewel, was the fact that we rigged up a pouch of actual Bota wine inside, and had the little spigot sticking out the front. So I was a FULLY FUNCTIONAL box of wine. Yes, I think I heard every single possible joke about "my box" "my spigot" and every variation of "dripping" and "sucking" double-entendres possible. But it was epic.

My kids are getting past the age where Halloween is sweet and fun. Charlie stayed home and did his pre-calculus homework, Molly stayed here and handed out candy, Henry dressed up as a cholo (I don't even know how to spell it, let alone know what it is. Apparently a Hispanic male who wears a flannel shirt, chinos and a bandana...we are so edgy here in Mayberry). William and a few of his friends decided to go as "Box Men" and wore big cardboard boxes. I went out trick or treating with the Box Men and about 6 houses in, I became "Mom carrying Box". But they had fun, and watching the massive Candy Trade afterwards was priceless. And yes, I did take everyone's Twizzlers. The sugar high, and the inevitable sugar crash, made this morning super fun (/sarcastic font).

So quickly, here is my Ten on Tuezday:

1. I am on week two without wheels. And going crazy. Got my estimate, and it's very reasonable. The only problem is, I can either pay for the new brakes/rotors/etc. that my truck needs, or feed my kids. So I have to wait until mid-month to get them fixed. I've considered asking my mom for help, but haven't yet. In the meantime, I've become the biggest ride-mooch my city has ever seen. Have I called you for a ride somewhere yet? No? Get ready.

2. Not being able to pay for a car repair is maddening. Even more maddening? The fact that my ex-husband, the man who is in contempt of court for not paying a huge amount of past due child support, and hasn't paid a dime in child support since 2008, somehow found the money to replace all the windows in his house. Now, on one hand, I'm super happy that he is able to keep Wife Version 2.0 and Spawn Version 1.0 warm and cozy. On the other hand? I want my money. Oh, and apparently he also found a way to get himself one of the brand spankin' new iPhones. This is the same man who slipped me $100 to help pay for school supplies/clothes for four children. Have you filled out your ballot for Father of the Year yet?

3. But..on a related note: I did get a fun email from my attorney. I won't go into details but I will say that it left me wondering if Big Daddy still enjoys extra garnish with his meals. Because he's going to get some of it.

4. Ok, I'll admit it. I'm loving Ted Danson on CSI. So much so that as I watched it one night, I typed into the notepad on my phone, "I want to jump those skinny gray bones".

5. So.much.candy.

6. Three things I have never purchased since I became a mom (almost 18 years ago): Hamburger Helper, white bread and Kool Aid. Not that there's anything wrong with those things, mind you. Have to slip in the Seinfeld references when I can, y'all.

7. You know why I love kids? Because they are awesome. There's this little boy at school who always comes in for a hug. And his clothes always smell FABULOUS. So I asked him what his mommy or daddy use for laundry and the kid comes back the NEXT day and says, "Tide detergent and Gain fabric softener!". He's in 3rd grade and he remembered that the crazy lady at school wanted to know what laundry detergent his mom used. That's pretty cool.

8. I'm starting to feel the holiday dread creep in.

9. Molly was confirmed at our church this weekend. It was a lovely ceremony, that almost didn't happen because she was with Big Daddy and churchy stuff isn't a priority for him. He has actually told the children, "I don't believe in God". Whatever. Thanks to some awesome friends (and especially thanks to my former BFF Big Red) Molly made it there. My friend Gillian and her hubby and their three sweet boys (Molly is their #1 babysitter) and Uncle Lorie all came to watch my baby girl get confirmed and me make my ugly cry face. Once again I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of my friends and their love.

10. What is it about a gray November day that makes me want to just sit in my fleece pajamas, wrap myself up in a big soft blanket and watch reruns of "Supernatural" and "Charmed"? Tuesday mornings are my free mornings...so I'd best get my pajama'd butt off the couch and get moving.

Have a beautiful Tuezday, my friends. And remember, when it comes to eating your children's Halloween candy, I have two words of advice: pace yourself.

One more thing: I just re-read this, and I'm coming across as a little more angry and bitter than usual. Normally, I just suck it up and delete the bitchy posts, but I'm letting them fly today. I'm going to blame it on my Twizzlers withdrawal. And the fact that I made babies with someone who puts himself before his kids.

One more one more thing: if you blog, and do a Ten on Tuesday (or Tuezday, even), go ahead and link up with the awesome Lin at Linny's Vault. She's good people!

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