Thursday, April 10, 2014

Facebook Wars and Easter Peeps

This is the kind of shit you’re missing if you’re not my mom’s Facebook friend:

You’d better hurry up and ask her before she gets cocky and stops accepting friend requests (besides the ones from the guys she meets on Christian Mingle and, of course)…

But seriously, don’t.  Not that many of you know me or my mom personally since I’m stealthy like a ninja in my quest to stay anon—but if you do—seriously, don’t Facebook friend my mom.  She shares shit like the picture above all the time.

She posted that particular gem one night around midnight, and it came along with a request to her ex-boyfriend’s daughter in the comment section to commission this mural.  Let me lay it down more clearly for you, peeps:  SHE WAS GOING TO PAY SOMEONE TO PAINT THIS CAT ON HER LIVING ROOM WALL. 

At first this had me questioning her sobriety.  And then, before I knew it, I found that I didn’t really care if she was drunk, because something even more curious was happening:  the middle finger of my right hand was pressing down on my mouse in a quest to SAVE this ridiculous cat picture onto my hard drive. 

I almost smacked myself in the face—whatever would I do with such a stupid Facebook post?  And then I realized that my hand had simply been acting on reflex, and my brain was just a bit slower to catch on.  When it did, I finally understood that I was saving this because I knew I would have to use it to make fun of my mom in a blog post one day.  And that day has come.

Because she keeps doing it and it needs to stop.  Or rather, I say that it needs to stop, but I’m actually secretly enjoying it.  The progression went a little bit like this:  At first I loved having my mom on Facebook—she was kind of funny!  But then she got all rambly and weird, and my siblings and I didn’t even want to post anything for fear that she might reply—and you simply cannot be at your computer or on your phone every second of every day to monitor what your mom might say.  Believe me, I’ve tried, and I’ve found that I need my arms for other things, like drinking beer and eating tater tots.

In any case, we couldn’t get Mom to shut the hell up.  And I was annoyed.

But now…well, now I’m at the point where I simply can’t help myself.  I look forward to seeing what she’s going to share any given day, because each post is worse than the last.  It’s like watching a damned train wreck.

My older sister and I have learned to have a blast with it.  Whichever one of us gets to it first will simply tag the other on the first comment under whatever ridiculous “Mom post” pops up on our feed that hour. 

We don’t say anything else at all. We don’t need to.  It’s great fun.

Blame the fact that we’re easily amused on our parents.  They didn’t spoil us enough growing up, so we had to make do with what we had.  Obviously it’s a lesson that has been carried on throughout our lives.  It is only just now beginning to serve us well.

This was the post where my mom finally wised up and caught on to us, probably because I broke the rule and responded to my sister’s tag:

Older Sister:  Shay
Me:  OMG, I’m going to skip my 6-mile run today because I tossed and turned so much last night.
Mom:  Shut up

And then there was the one where my older sister and I had to have a chat because I was so disappointed in her.  It started with a post saying my mom had won a free coconut wheel on some sort of virtual game she was playing, and my older sister took over from there:

Older sister:  Shay, LOOK!  A free coconut wheel!
Mom:  Shut up
Mom:  And give me a life
Older sister:  Okay, I’ll try…not sure how?

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I asked my sister angrily over the phone that night.  “I was SO with you.  I was all set to type, ‘All I’ve ever WANTED is a free coconut wheel!’—and then you jump in with that last comment?  Whose side are you on?”

“The woman needed help, Shay,” my older sister replied heatedly.  “It’s CANDY CRUSH SAGA, and she only had 5 hours to play today, for God’s sake!”

Holy shit.

And then came the day when the entire thing came crashing down.  Recently, my mom and my older sister got into a fight because my older sister felt that my mom was sharing too many pictures of Easter peeps on her Facebook page, and that Easter peeps are stupid.

I’m not even kidding, you guys.  This was a real fcking fight that they had.

I believe that this was the image that sent my older sister over the edge.  My mom shared it, like she does all of her peeps pictures, in honor of Easter—because don’t you know that this is how we Catholics honor Easter?

It all ended with my older sister unfriending my mom, which was really sad because now who would I tag in the comments section to make fun of my mom’s posts?  My dad was out; he refuses to accept my mom’s lingering friend request because she’s embarrassing.

 Then came this fluttering across my feed, courtesy of my mom:

And I didn’t have one person to tag.

Not one motherfcking person.

I had to do something, so this is what I did:  I risked Facebook deletion from my sister by fueling the peep fire and taking all of the peeps pictures on my mom’s page and sharing them on my older sister’s.  It was only partially malicious—in all honesty, I love those goddamned peeps pictures.  I think they’re hilarious.  It’s the one differing element in my and my older sister’s normally quite similar senses of humor.

Anyway, I was hoping that all of my older sister’s peeps anger would be directed toward me instead of my mom, and that she’d need someone to which to complain about me, forcing her to re-friend my mom—because if there’s one thing my mom loves, it’s a little family drama.

And it worked, peeps.  It worked. 

My mom and my older sister were Facebook friends again the next day. 

The first thing my mom did?  She posted this picture, captioned “Riding with My Peeps” on my older sister’s page:

She’s learning.  J

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mad Libs

Remember Mad Libs?  That word game you played as a kid where you filled in a word based on what part of speech it was without knowing the context of the rest of the sentence?
Mad Libs are always just a little bit scary for a middle school English teacher—and that makes them all the more exciting for a middle school English student, as we all know exactly what goes on in their little turd minds:  Hmmm…what can we get away with?  (Of course I mean, “With what can we get away?” but how ridiculous does that sound?)

But dammit, Mad Libs teach a ton about the parts of speech and how to use them, and besides, they’re just fun.

So one Friday afternoon back when I was a middle school teacher, I took the plunge.  I allowed my students to do Mad Libs. 

You see, not only was it Friday, but it was also 2:30 in the afternoon on a beautiful, sunny, spring-like March day. After weeks of snow, we were all in glorious moods as we listened to the birds chirp and felt a gentle breeze blowing into the windows of our double-wide “mobile classroom.” (I loved the way they made us call it that, like the guy I dated who lived in a trailer and made me call it “Sweet 51” instead of “Suite 51” or the even more accurate “Lot 51.”  Although I suppose if we’re talking semantics here, “dated” is the wrong word, too, because a guy who lived in a trailer that he called Sweet 51 felt that he was too good for me…okay, what was the question again?)

Anyway, Mad Libs were in order if only as a means of celebrating the break in the cold weather.

After giving my students about 10 minutes to complete the first set, I asked if there were any volunteers who wanted to read aloud Mad Libs that had turned out particularly good.  I knew I was in trouble when two of my boys jumped up, tears of laughter in their eyes.

“Is it appropriate for school?” I was quick to ask.  This wasn’t my first rodeo; I’d taught middle school English for about 5 years.  I never gave an assignment that wasn't appropriate for school, but you'd be surprised what middle schoolers can do with seemingly innocent writing assignments--so I always double-checked.

One of them looked away.  “Um…yeah.  Totally.  We didn’t use any…bad words or anything.”

I sighed.  “Alright,” I said, placing just enough of a warning tone in my voice, “but if you’re questioning whether or not a part is appropriate, then it’s better to just not read it.”

“Not questioning anything,” the second boy assured me, and I swear he gave me a Boy Scout salute.

I was wary, but decided against saying anything else, since all of my Mad Libs threats always came out like this:  “Okay, there’d better not be anything inappropriate, or else I’ll…”

I mean, seriously, what the hell was I going to do if a Mad Lib was inappropriate?  Call the kid’s parents and tell them that he’d used banana one too many times?  Shit.  I was stuck between a rock and a hard place (the latter being an example of an inappropriate term for Mad Libs), and those little bastards damned well knew it.

So they read it, and I’ll admit, the Mad Lib was funny.  For all the wrong reasons, yes—but still, I had to hand it to them.  It was funny.

“Okay, okay,” I said when the laughter had died down.  “I think it’s time we lay down a few ground rules.”

There was a huge groan from the classroom.  Awwwwww, WHY?” several of the kids asked.

“Because that was the first one, and they’re already sounding perverse.”

The boys who had just read hunched down, not wanting to attract any further attention from me.  It would mean facing the wrath of their classmates if I put a stop to Mad Libs because of their story.

In the meantime, one of my girls—we’ll call her Theresa—one of my dear, sweet, innocent little girls who probably still played with Barbie dolls at home—looked up at me.  “Which words are not okay to use?”

I knew she wasn’t being a smartass; she simply didn’t know.

“No nuts,” I said, lifting my chin in defiance at the ones I knew understood what I was talking about—particularly, the two boys who had just used nuts in every single “plural noun” slot of their Mad Lib. 

“No nuts?” Theresa asked, confusion written all over her face in the form of a furrowed brow.  “Why not?”

I could see the boy who had just read his Mad Lib start to giggle, and I shot him a look.  He snuffed it out pretty quickly.  “Because, well…” I started.

"Not even, like almonds?” she persisted.

Almonds is okay,” I responded quickly, feeling saved by the clarification. That’s when one of my boys couldn’t hold it in any longer and let out a snort.  I didn’t turn his way to admonish him because—oh my gosh, who could blame him?

My sweet little innocent Theresa just looked more confused by my answer.  She shook her head.  “O-kay, then what about cashews?”

Cashews is fine,” I replied, nodding my head.

Hazelnuts?” she asked.

At this, I paused. 

But then I shrugged, because seriously, what could I say against hazelnuts that wouldn’t dig me into an even deeper hole?  “Okay.  Okay.  I guess hazelnuts will work.”

The boys who had only moments ago been trying to avoid my glare looked up at me, eyes alight with excitement.  “Really?  Hazelnuts is fine?  We can use hazelnuts?”

Oh, for fck’s sake, I wanted to say.  But I didn’t, as I dearly loved my job and didn’t want to lose it.

“Fine.  Use hazelnuts.  But only once—and Hazel can’t be possessive.  And you’re definitely banned from using balls again,” I said, widening my eyes in a challenging glare toward them.

That’s when Theresa let out her own little snort.  “Well, duh,” she said, dissolving into fits of giggles.

Holy shit.  (Which also, incidentally, wouldn’t have been appropriate. )

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break 2014...

...also known as Spring Break, a Half Marathon, and the Quintessential Sitcom Neighbor

This is what Spring Breaks past looked like.

Although I must admit that I sometimes miss the sluttiness of those old Spring Breaks and that raunchy feeling that only comes with being the other half of a pair of drunken strangers passing (their underwear back to each other) in the night, I do have to say that, for the most part, I prefer the Spring Breaks of today as a wife and a mother.

This year, my Spring Break is going to start off with my second half marathon, and it will include—among other things—a trip to Legoland, a children’s museum, and an overnight stay in a hotel with rooms that used to be train cars.

In the months prior to signing up for my first half marathon, my neighbor Don had taken up running.  It was the first exercise he’d done in about 8 years, and he was determined to be good at it. And he was.  He completed his first half marathon and then bragged to me about it for no fewer than 5 months.

“Shay,” he would say, sauntering into my backyard after a 5-mile run, “you’ve GOT to sign up for a half.  Quit being such a pussy.”

I would roll my eyes.  “Don, I’ve been doing this working out thing for about 15 years.  Running is part of my routine and I enjoy it, but I’ll never go more than 3 miles, because then it stops being fun for me.”

Don would chuckle.  “Oh, Shay,” he’d call over his shoulder as he entered his house through the back door, which faced my back yard.  “One day you’ll be as into working out as I am.”

Seriously, you guys.  There has been only one time in the past 15 years that I’ve missed 7 consecutive days of working out—and incidentally, it was during one of my collegiate Spring Breaks, where I was too drunk to even walk, let alone take a jog or do some squats.  And this clown, who’d only started a few months earlier, was going to tell me how to get shit done?

I’m not a competitive person.  At all. I like to pride myself on the fact that I worry about myself and what I’m doing in life without trying to measure up or compare to anyone else.  I believe it’s one of the reasons I normally accomplish what I set out to; I don’t have all of that extra jealousy or competition stuff cluttering up my brain and taking focus away from my goal.

But goddammit, you guys. 

GODDAMMIT.  I ended up signing up for a half marathon last year, and I wasn’t sure if I was doing it because I wanted to do it or just because I wanted to piss Don off.

I was mad at myself for not knowing.  Because I shit on the day that I become as competitive and annoying as Don is with stuff like this.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say screw hiring out a trashy ex-husband to bust a knee Tonya Harding-style;  I’d slam a goddamned bat into my own knee to prevent me from becoming like Don, all condescending smiles and “Run a half marathon—if I can do it, you can…blah blah blah.” 


But I did it, you guys.  For whatever reason, I signed up for my first half marathon last year.

When Don found out, he swiftly changed tactics.  He had spent 5 months goading me into signing up for one, and then he spent the next 12 weeks trying to discourage me.  Because, you see, if I actually completed a half marathon, it wasn’t as special that he had, was it?  I quickly realized that all of the fake encouragement had only been to remind me of how awesome he was because he had done one and I hadn’t.

A few days before my race, he approached me in my backyard, touches of fear shading his eyes.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this, Shay?  I mean, I sure hope you’ve been running some hills.  There are LOTS of nasty hills on the course you’re running. I know because I ran it last year.”

His wife even joined in the fun as she stepped onto their back deck.  “Oh, Shay…good luck on mile 6. It’s terrible.  I had trouble even walking up it to get a picture of Don as he was running.”

I rolled my eyes.  What they didn’t realize was that I had been training hard by running while pushing my very large 1 ½ year old—who had been born at 9 pounds and never looked back—in a jogging stroller while my 4-year-old was at preschool 3 mornings a week.  It was the only time I had to get it done. 

And the hills I’d been running…holy shit, the hills I’d been running.  Not by choice, but because I couldn’t find a damned flat area in which to run in this godforsaken town.  One day, after a particularly tough, hilly run, my good friend from Canada had mentioned how she had loved growing up in the “plains of Manitoba” and I swear to you, I packed my baby up into his carseat, drove my ass home, and googled “real estate in the plains of Manitoba.”

But then I realized that if I moved my whole family to another country just to get away from hills for half marathon training, Don would win. And nobody wanted that.

I tried to explain all of this to Don and his wife that day, but I could tell they weren’t listening. They were too busy yammering on about t-ball games and Christmas lights and hills and shit.

As Don continued his Hill Monologue, trying to scare me, I swear to you—I am not even kidding when I say this; understand that I’m not even kidding—his eyes misted up as the horrors of Mile 6 were replayed behind them.  He managed to choke out “What that sonofabitch hill did to my hamstring—" before I’d had enough and interrupted him.

“Holy shit, Don, it wasn’t fcking Pearl Harbor,” I snapped.  “You were jogging up a hill.”

Don stopped and stared at me for a moment, blinking away tears.  Finally, he wagged his finger at me as he turned to go.  “You wait. Just you wait and see,” he whispered.

He then turned and scurried to his back deck, where his wife had an ice pack all ready for the pain that the memories had brought back to the surface.

The day I finished my half marathon, I texted my husband to tell him, excitedly, that I had done it and that I was on my way home, finisher’s medal proudly displayed around my neck.  He called me as soon as he received my text.

“I’m so proud of you, babe!” he had time to get out before I heard a yipping voice in the background.  A second or two later, I heard a smile in his voice as he said, “Oh—um, Don wants to know your time.”

The hubs and I actually adore Don.  He’s such a great guy if you can get past his annoying little quirks—which we can, because we understand that we have our own little annoying quirks.  And besides, it’s so much fun messing with him when he gets like this.

"Oh, I don’t even know.  All I know is I ran the whole thing, and that was my goal.  I think my time was like 2:12?”

When my husband relayed the information to Don, who had apparently been hoping it was more like 4:12, I could hear my neighbor's disappointed gasp all the way on my end of the phone.  Because dammit—that wasn’t a bad time for someone’s first half marathon.  And so now I had to rub it in even more.

“Tell Don it was actually pretty easy,” I said, a smile now in my voice, too.  “I kept looking for those hills he’d been talking about, but they just never came…”  I let my voice trail off as if I were confused.  I knew that Don couldn’t hear it but that my husband would appreciate it.  And he did.  I heard him chuckle as he relayed my confusion to Don.  Then I heard Don say something in reply.

“What did he say?” I asked my husband.

“He said they must’ve changed the route,” my husband replied deadpan. 

[That, by the way, has become one of my and my husband’s favorite lines ever.  “What do you mean, you couldn’t get the car seat to fit the right way and you need me to go out there and do it?  I just did it yesterday at my sister’s house, and it latched in completely easily,” my husband will say.  “They must have changed the route,” I’ll reply.  It works for so many situations, and it never fails to cause my husband and me to fall into heaps of hysterical laughter on the floor after one of us uses it.]

When I got home a couple of hours later, Don was standing in my driveway with my husband, a map in his hand.  I got out of the car and had just enough time to receive congratulatory hugs from my husband and my boys before Don thrust the map under my nose.

“I told your husband, it had to be a different route than the one I ran last year, because you would’ve noticed those terrible hills,” he persisted, pointing to one particular spot on the map labeled “MILE 6” in blood-red letters.  “Does this look familiar to you?”

I shoved the map aside with a smile.  “Don, you know I can’t read maps. I don’t know if they changed the damned route or not.  All I know is that there weren’t any hills on this course.”

There actually was a hill—a Mile 6 hill—that the race coordinators even had a name for and a mini-challenge with a special medal for the fastest runner on that part of the race.  And it had been challenging—although nowhere near as tough as Don had described.  But I wasn’t going to tell him that.  I was going to let him sweat it.

And sweat it he did.  Because a few days later, Don tapped on my back door.  When I opened it up, he looked at me, a new challenge set in his eyes.  “Well, I looked it up, and you actually did run the exact same course as I did last year, hills and all.” 

That Don is so earnest, taking everyone at his/her word with an innocence that is really sweet and almost adorable for a 40-year-old guy—that I almost took pity on him and told him the truth about Mile 6.  Almost.

Instead, I let him continue.

“So good job on the course.  I looked up your bib number and you were right about your time, except you were actually off by 2 minutes.  You completed it in 2:10—faster than you thought.”  He looked down and swallowed, and I thought—here it comes.  Here is where he tells me that he’s sorry for doubting me all of these weeks and that I am just as cool as he is because I ran a half marathon, too…

Don looked up at me and grinned.  “After you’ve run 3 of them, come talk to me.  Because you’re not a real runner unless you’ve run 3 half marathons like I have.”

As he turned to walk out my door and started down the steps of my back deck, I decided I couldn’t drop it.  “Oh, no, didn’t the hubs tell you?  I’m researching marathon training.  I’m thinking of doing a full in the fall.”

Holy shit, no I’m not.  I have no interest in EVER doing a full marathon, and I don’t want to insult those runners out there who do them by acting as if I can just throw it out there nonchalantly—because I know what dedication running takes and how challenging running a full marathon would be. 

But I had to say it.  Because the look on Don’s face as he almost tripped down my stairs was awesome, and I’ll never forget it. 

And while I didn’t sign up for a full marathon in the fall, what I did do, dammit, was sign up for 2 more half marathons, one this week and one in May.  And dammit if I can’t fcking tell if I’m doing it for Don or for myself.

It doesn’t matter.  I’ve signed up, and I’m doing them.  SIGH.

Damn Don and his competitive nature rubbing off on me.  Where the hell is that baseball bat again?

A side note:  I'm taking next week off from posting for Spring Break.  I'd like to claim that it's because I'll be too hungover to tap out a post on my trusty little keyboard, but we all know that's a lie. (Growing up is hard, isn't it?  SIGH...)  The truth is, I'll be busy with my boys at an aquarium or a zoo or some other kid-friendly place, and I'm too much of a technodumbass to have figured out how to schedule one of my backup posts to appear on its own next Friday.  I should probably figure that out...

In the meantime, have a great Spring Break, and I hope you'll join me back here on the 4th!

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Dad's Birthday

It was my dad’s birthday last week.  He called to remind me.

“Oh my GOSHHHHHHHH!” he squealed as soon as I picked up my phone.  “Thanks so much for the birthday card I got in the mail today!”

I rolled my eyes.  “You didn’t get a birthday card from me in the mail today,” I said.

“Wait, I didn’t?” he persisted, in case his point hadn’t been made clearly enough.

“No,” I said, “because your birthday isn’t until tomorrow, and I’m a better planner than that.”

I hurried over to the junk drawer to grab a pen and scribble DAD’S B-DAY onto the next day’s date on my wall calendar, because obviously, I had forgotten.  And obviously, I would forget the next day, too.

A thought occurred to me.  “Hey, just in case my card doesn’t get there tomorrow—because it won’t since I haven’t bought or sent it yet—and just in case I forget to call tomorrow, let me just go ahead and sing you your Happy Birthday song right now while I’ve got you on the phone.”

“No, really,” my dad protested, “that’s not necess—"

“Shut up.  I’ve only got 5 minutes before I leave for work, and I still have to get the kids ready for preschool.”

You see, peeps, my dad didn’t want to hear my song.  The thing is, I used to have the voice of an angel—one of those beautiful, sweet, church choir type voices.  In fact, I actually used to sing at church when I was in grade school and even a couple of times in high school.  I would love seeing peoples’ faces register shock as a song started and I opened my mouth to let out the first few light, feathery notes:  People just didn’t expect that kind of sweetness to come out of this jarring face.

Unfortunately, one night when I was 21 years old I went to bed, and when I woke up the next morning, my voice had simply…well, dropped.  I figured it was just a natural result of the beer, hookers, and cigarettes from the night before, and I waited patiently for it to come back.  But it never did.

How does a 21-year-old woman’s voice just change in the middle of the night?  I don’t know. Perhaps God felt that it was time my honking seal voice caught up with my honking seal face.  In any case, my extreme voice change is just one of the many reasons my husband and I have become convinced that I used to be a man.

Anyway, back on the phone  with my dad, I launched into a 2 ½ minute version of Happy Birthday which would pretty much cover me for when I forgot his birthday the next day.

When I was finished singing and we had hung up, it occurred to me that since I didn’t have a real birthday present, I could dedicate a blog post to him for his birthday.  I mean, isn’t it every father’s dream that his daughter become a totally unpaid, unpublished blog authorette who has to hide her identity because she frequently talks about what a dirty whore she used to be?

Aw…*blushing*…you’re welc, Dad.

So this week, I’d like to use my blog post to wish my dad a happy birthday.  You bastards are lucky I haven’t figured out how to add pre-recorded music to this blog shit or else you’d have to listen to the same song my dad heard the other day, too. 

Count your blessings, folks.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dad!  And oh—your real present—the one I hurriedly went out and bought you the day we talked on the phone—is a coffee mug.  Hopefully you still drink coffee;  I never know with all of the newfangled old people diets you’re always trying to adopt in order to help you hold onto the knees and hips you were born with so that you can brag to all of your old people friends who’ve had to have theirs replaced.

The mug is green for St. Patrick’s Day.  Which reminds me, everyone:  Happy St. Pat’s Day!

There’s an old Irish blessing—you’ve probably heard it before—that goes a little something like this:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind always be at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall softly upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

And I think it’s a beautiful blessing and I wish all of you that, too--especially those of you with fields. But allow me to revert to my 12-year-old boy personality and offer you this blessing, which I penned myself:

May you drink enough green beer that you see it in your poop the next day

Have a good one, my friends!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Fish Sticks: A Totally (Un)Inspirational Story of Lenten Sacrifice

A few nights ago, the hubs brought home a bag of frozen fish sticks, per my grocery list request.

I watched him carry it into the kitchen.  “What the hell is that?” I asked.

He looked at me.  “Fish sticks.”

I blinked.  “Are you being a smartass?”

A frustrated look shaded his face as he thrust the grocery list under my nose.  “It says fish sticks RIGHT HERE.  Look.  FISH STICKS,” he said loudly as he pointed to where the list did, indeed, say “fish sticks.”

“Well, yeah,” I said as I studied the bag he held, frozen fish sticks bulging out at all angles, “but that…that has got to weigh at least 150 pounds.  We’re feeding 2 small boys, not the local middle school.  Sweet Jesus, how many fish had to die to fill a bag as big as my stovetop?”

The hubs acted as though he was thinking.  “Oh, probably one.  That stuff is mostly filler.”

I shrugged.  “I’ll put them away.”

My husband watched me through narrowed eyes as I used both hands and went into a squat in order to get a better hoist on picking up the bag of fish sticks.  “I think you’re being a bit dramatic,” he sighed, turning to unload the rest of the groceries.

When I went directly to Facebook to rib the hubs and his choice of fish sticks in bulk, a few of my Catholic friends got all excited, as only Catholics do at the prospect of meatless Fridays and different variations of fish.

“He’s stocking up for Lent!” one friend commented.

“You’re all prepared for Lent!” another commented.

“Read previous comments before adding duplicates, a-holes,” I commented.

I noticed later that I had one less Facebook friend than I’d started out with that day.  Hm.  Weird.

Anyway, my Lenten meat sacrifice doesn’t involve fish sticks; I’m all about swapping out my ground beef on Fridays for salmon and other varieties of sushi rolls. 

It’s all about sacrifice, my peeps.  Taking one for the God Squad.

All of the Lent talk on my Facebook page reminded me of the time I went to visit my older sister soon after she’d given birth to her son.  I was feeling particularly responsible that day; I was kind of in the mood to play a grown-up, more responsible version of my normally (back then) drunken self.  So, instead of grabbing a burger to feed my hangover that day, I stopped at a trendy little sandwich shop and picked us both up a grilled chicken salad with light ranch on the side, mindful that she’d be watching her weight after having the baby.

When I arrived at her house, however, and used a flicky-wrist motion to turn down the opportunity to hold the nephew I’d just met so that I could instead dig into my grilled chicken salad, my older sister gasped.

“Oh my gosh, SHAY!  What the hell are you doing?!”

I paused, a salad leaf hanging out of my mouth.  “What?” I asked, confused.

She sighed loudly, the destruction of my soul obviously weighing heavily on her heart.  “It’s Friday, and it’s LENT, Shay.  You can’t eat meat!”

I rolled my eyes. “When’s the last time you went to Mass?” I asked.  I was pretty sure that it had been a long time, and I knew that when she finally did venture back into a pew, I would not be going along for the ride.  I was afraid the church would burst into a flaming, fiery mass upon her entrance—that’s how shocked I imagined God would be.

She paused, thinking.  “Like 3 years ago?”  Then she got that face on her that she gets when she’s ready to act all smart.  It’s a really convincing face.  In fact, I believed absolutely everything she told me when she made that face until she was 18 years old and told what will forever be known as The Great Homecoming Queen Lie. 

She’d told me that she’d just missed the cutoff for making Homecoming Court her senior year.  She’d been number 11 when they’d tallied the votes.

However, when I mentioned that in passing to some of my friends, thinking I was all cool because I was the younger sister of the girl who almost made Homecoming Court by being number 11 when the votes were tallied, they looked at me like I was crazy.

One of them—a student council member—had piped up.  “Um, no she wasn’t.  Not even close.  I helped count the votes.”

Oh, but damn, how I love that story.

Anyway, my older sister pulled her smart face and said, “But it doesn’t matter, because missing Mass isn’t a mortal sin.”

“It is,” I replied, salting my chicken salad before taking another bite.  “It is.  If you believe in that sort of thing.”

My older sister covered her ears, trying to un-hear my words.  “The blasphemy!” she screamed shrilly.

After she’d calmed down a bit, I tried a different approach.  “Listen, I’m kind of a cherry-picker when it comes to religion.  I’m a very spiritual person, but I don’t necessarily believe in all of the things they tell us to believe in.  But, just to ease your troubled mind, I did say my Rosary on the way here.”

I really had.  I can’t help it; I’m a Rosary-prayer, my peeps.

“Do you ever pray your Rosary?” I asked.

My sister glared at me, knowing full well what I was trying to do.  “No,” she said, challenging me.  She knew I’d be scared; she's got these crazy eyes, and when she makes them all bulgy, you never know what she's going to do.  So she knew I wouldn’t push the issue—too far.

“Do you even know how to pray a Rosary?” I asked her.

My sister shrugged.  “Like a Glory Be?”

“Is that your answer?  Like a Glory Be?”

“Yeah,” my sister said, all defensive.  “That’s my answer.  I’m sure there’s a Glory Be in there somewhere…”

“Sure there is.  In fact, there are several.  But that’s not the prayer you start with.  Do you know what you start with?  The prayer that you say while you’re holding the cross?”

My sister didn’t even skip a beat.  “Fruit of the vine, work of human hands—"

“Holy shit,” I said.

“Peace be with you,” she replied.

“And also with you,” I said, effectively giving up the fight as I reached out to shake her hand.  (With as many years of Catholic school as we have under our belts, one does not do the “Peace be with you”  routine without ending it in a handshake—grilled chicken salads or no grilled chicken salads.)

Satisfied that she’d won, my older sister had to solidify her victory with one more remark:  “I hope that chicken tastes good, because you just traded your soul for it.  I'm pretty sure you’re going to Hell now.”

I shrugged.  “I’d already been planning on it. Dad told me I was going there right after I got my tattoo.  Not to mention all of the pre-marital sex I had during my slut years…and yesterday.  But that’d be more extra-marital sex, right?”

That’s when my hubs had piped up.  “I’m right here, dude.  RIGHT HERE.”

My sister and I simultaneously swiveled our heads in his direction, shocked.  “Where the hell did you come from?” I asked.  “Have you been here the whole time?”

Yes,” my husband answered, exasperated.  When I just looked at him, confused, he sighed.  “I rode here with you?”

My sister and I looked at each other and shrugged.  Who knew?

He really ought to make a little bit more noise every now and then.  Or maybe he had been and we just hadn’t noticed as we’d been in the midst of our heated debate.

Ah, well.  The chicken was good, anyway.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Wedding Card

A friend of ours recently got married, and even though I generally don’t endorse marriage due to its extreme mundanity (I mean, seriously, YOU again?), I do love me a wedding reception because oh my gosh, free beer and fried chicken—and, if I’m lucky, some really fancy cheesy asparagus.  (Which this wedding didn’t have, by the way, but I didn't put in a formal complaint because the chicken was really good.)

My husband let me buy and fill out the card.  I’m not sure he’ll ever learn.  I LOVE doing the cards:

Oh, my!  Did we send a sympathy card for your wedding?  Simple Freudian slip, I'm sure...because really...marriage is...lovely...Congratulations!

Secretly, I think he loves it, too.  Because either they’ll think it’s funny and he can take part of the credit, or they’ll think it’s awful, in which case, he’ll rely on his old standby of playing innocent bystander, hunching his shoulders as he accepts the looks of pity people shoot his way when they realize that I’m the one that he’s chosen to deal with for the rest of his life.  I love it when I see him shrug and mouth, “But I didn’t realize until it was too late…”  Poor guy.

My family has a little joke that they like to tell at my expense.

Q:  What do you call a person who went to college for 5 years? 
A:  A doctor.

It’s funny because I went to college for 5 years…to get a teaching degree.  And I’m not even a damned professor.  It’s just a regular old teaching degree.

BUT I drank buckets of beer and had sex with tons of random nasty strangers during that 5 years (and for several years after, of course), so that counts for something, right?

Ah, well. In any case, as you can see from the picture above, I picked up the doctor’s scrawl without the doctorate. 

Sorry for the shit-tay image, by the way. I left my digital camera at home, so I had to use my phone as I wasn't about to ask my mother-in-law to borrow her camera so that I could snap a photo of the card.  She doesn't always get my humor, and she kind of thinks I'm an asshole.  That's why I bought a second card--a yellow flowery one with pictures of birds all over it--to show her when she asked to see it and approve it--which I knew she would.  She knows me a bit too well. 

That one is currently residing in my junk drawer.  I'll give it to someone I don't like.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Lesson in Humanity

Last summer, the hubs and I took the kids to a theme park.  We knew better than to hope that they would fall asleep on the shuttle back to the car after a long day of riding rides in the 105 degree heat.  They’re like effing robots:  THEY DON’T GET TIRED. 

(By the way, it wasn't actually 105 degrees, but it might as well have been when you'd prefer to be your regular vampire self, reading books in the air condition as opposed to being at the stupid theme park waiting in line for 45 minutes to hop on a 30-second ride.  In fact, when the cheerful shuttle driver grabbed his little microphone and called out to all the kids, "What was your favorite ride today, boys and girls?" I shouted, "THIS BUS!")

There was a man sitting across the aisle from us, and I noticed him right away because he gave me the sweetest smile—which was when I saw that, well…YOU GUYS… 

He had two teeth.

And when I say “two teeth,” I mean that one of them was hanging on for dear life by a thread of shining cartilage…so it was really like 1 ½ teeth.

He was with his girlfriend, and you could tell that they were in the midst of that adorable first few months of dating.  They were all lovey-dovey, cooing at each other, giggling at whispers in ears. 

Basically, they were totally the opposite of those of us who have been married for almost 10 years:

My hubs:  “You look really pretty today.”
Me, swatting at the air around me in case he tries to touch me:  “Please.  I know what you’re trying to do, and it ain’t happening.  I’ve got shit to do...unless you'd like to finish making dinner and then clean up the dishes afterwards so that I can start on the laundry...”

Me, realizing my error as the hubs lifts the spatula from my hand in order to take over the grueling process of browning the tater tot casserole beef, thus freeing my schedule so that I could fit in having sex with him later that evening:  "Dammit."

I've talked before about my very vocal 5-year-old.  When he was 18 months old, it was really adorable.  Now it’s scary.  That day on the shuttle, I found myself clasping my hands together tightly and bowing my head to pray to God.

Please, please, I begged Him, don’t let the boy say something to embarrass the sweet little man and his sweet little girlfriend and their sweet little stuffed animal dragon baby…

We’d almost made it.  In fact, this was originally going to be a post on how God truly does answer our prayers if we just ask Him for exactly what we want.  As the shuttle pulled into the parking lot that day and people began to stand up and shuffle toward the doors, I’d been getting ready to drop to my knees and thank God for sparing us all the humiliation.

And then my son said this:


First of all, GRANDPA is going to have his visitation rights SEVERELY restricted if he keeps teaching my kids lessons on teeth brushing and hygiene and shit.  Who the hell does he think I am, Duchess Kate raising Prince George?  Holy SHIT, old man.

Secondly—holy shit.  HO-LEE shit.

But the sweet man, who happened to be just in front of us in line, simply turned around and smiled kindly at my son, showing off the semi-toothy grin that was now beginning to grow on me.  “Your Papa is a smart man, kiddo,” he said.  “That’s why you should always remember to eat right and brush your teeth.”

I could’ve hugged him.

That’s the way to do it, my peeps.  That’s the way to do this life thing.