Monday, August 29, 2011

The Postman Cometh, the Postman Go-eth

We are mothers and fathers. And sons and daughters. Who every day go about our lives with duty, honor and pride. And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds. Ever.
                                                                               -from a USPS tv commercial
People call it snail mail now.  In this age of instantaneous communication – texting, tweeting, Facebooking, Google Plus-ing – does anyone send a letter anymore?  When you can select online bill pay for every bill you have, do you write a check, put it in a envelope, lick stick a stamp in the right corner, drop it in a mailbox and go along your merry way?
I do.  But I am a mailman’s daughter. 
Mailman, postman, letter carrier, whatever you call them –  they are the men and women who deliver bills, holiday and birthday cards, wedding invitations, more bills, college acceptance letters, condolence cards, magazines, catalogs, and junk mail...oh so much junk mail.  And third class mail.  I know about third class mail because I am a mailman’s daughter.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is going through some tough times.  It’s broke or getting there.  It’s closing post offices, cutting jobs, possibly cutting back to five day delivery.  The winds of change are blowing.  Oh, how they’re blowing.
My father has been a mailman for almost forty years – the last in a long line of mailmen in our family.  He is 67 years old and walks 8 miles, five days a week, carrying a 75 pound mailbag, to deliver the mail to his customers.  He’s a million mile man with the plaque to prove it.  Kevin Costner, eat your heart out, my dad is a stud.
His work ethic is beyond the pale.  Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor state emergencies keep him from going to work to deliver his mail.  In 1996, the East Coast experienced a fierce blizzard.  Pennsylvania declared a state of emergency – everything was shut down.  My dad walked from our house – through snow drifts – to his post office in the next town because he didn't believe my mother when she told him that everything was closed.  He didn't believe her because the post office, his post office, doesn't close; the mail always goes out, he always goes out.  Just not that day. 

A few years ago, while delivering mail, he tripped and fell on one of his customer's sidewalks.  The mail, along with him, went flying.  Later, he would find out that he broke several ribs.  But right then, after he lay on the ground for a few minutes in pain, he picked himself up and he picked up all those letters, cards, bills, and magazines so that they could get to their intended recipients.  Duty.  Honor.  Pride.  My dad has them in spades. 
He wasn’t the sort of dad who went to school events.  I don’t remember him going to concerts or teacher conferences or back-to-school nights.  But there was one thing he did every school year.  When the school telephone directories came out, he would flip through the pages and tell me which of my classmates lived on his route – Saulino, Herr, the Daniels twins, the Byrds, and on and on.  On more than one occasion, those very classmates came up to me to say, hey, your dad’s my mailman!  Joe the Mailman!  We love him! 
He loves his customers too.  As he walked those million miles, he saw the winds of change on his route.  He delivered the mail while his customers were experiencing vacations (he always held their mail until they returned), births, deaths, divorces, graduations, surgeries.  Whatever’s happening on his route, he usually knows about it. 
But times change.  Routes change.  And he…he is ready for change. 
This past week, my father came home and told my mom that he’s tired of walking.  Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night keeps my dad from delivering his mail.  But pain…pain has won out.  He is hurting – too many falls, too few visits to the doctor.  He’s tired of walking with the pain.  So, he’s going to walk away.
The retirement paperwork is being prepared.  There is a countdown.  Soon, Bent Road, Heacock Lane, Maple Avenue, Crescent Lane, Deaver Road, and Deaver Place will be but street names on a map.  Dinner conversations won’t include the words "pivots," "third class mail," "casing the route," or "the mail truck;" they will fade into memories and join names like Barry, Joe Davis, and the Sewerman brothers, along with the name of every single postmaster who has come and gone throughout my dad’s career - whether he could pronounce them or not.      
Joe the Mailman is retiring.  And his daughter could not be prouder. 
Now, go out, buy a book of stamps, and send a letter.  There’s a mailman waiting to deliver it.

Check in with me in a few months to see how we’re surviving retirement.  Especially since Joe the Retired Mailman is under the crazy belief that he’s going to be spending a lot of time at my house.  

Blue Skies

Blue skies smiling at me. Nothing but blue skies do I see.
                                   -Irving Berlin "Blue Skies"

The storm has passed. Saturday's driving rains and fierce winds turned into Sunday's sunshine and blue skies. The candles have been put away, the patio set is back in its rightful place on the deck, and the tree that I watched with such trepidation last night stands tall and still, if a little sideways.

Here's hoping the rest of your week is full of blue skies and sunny days.  And no more hurricanes!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weathering the Storm

Hurricane Irene’s making her way up the East Coast.  The rain is coming down in sheets and I'm watching the swaying tree in the front of my house with some trepidation.  To all of my friends near and far, stay safe!  Don’t worry about me.  I’ve got…well, not much really, but I’ll get through just fine.  

Hurricane Preparedness Station
Looking out the back window. 
Light rain at the time.
Hopefully, the deck stays intact!

It’s Really Not That Kind of Blog

I have a confession to make…I check my site-meter to see who visits my blog.  I really only do it to see if I’m maintaining my legion of 26 loyal fans and to figure out which relatives get the nice Christmas cards this year.  I also like to see where everyone’s checking in from.  Obviously, I’m a big hit with the Pennsylvanians and Marylanders but sometimes I get visitors from places where I don’t know anyone which is always exciting.  I wonder how the people from Leavenworth, Kansas or St. Augustine, Florida or Singapore ended up here at my little corner of the Internet.  Lucky for me, what they Googled gives me a bit of a clue.
People do a lot of searching for lawn mowers.
Type “neighbor yelling at me to mow lawn” into Google and Tulips and Togas is like #4 on the results page.  Sorry dude, I don’t have any advice for  you – I generally avoid conflict with my neighbors and mowing my lawn.  I could send my dad to your house if it gets really bad.
If you Google “women on lawn mowers” – clearly, someone was looking for an instructional video – Tulips and Togas is the fifth result, right after an article about a lady in Fergus Falls who got hurt while mowing her lawn and right before an article about an Australian lady who was decapitated during a “freak lawn mower accident.”  Freak lawn mower accident?!  She was DECAPITATED.  While mowing her lawn.  That’s crah-raaaa-zeeee.  And gives me yet another excuse for why I should just wait for my dad to come mow my lawn.
And the dude from Leavenworth, Kansas.  Well.  I’m not even going to put what he Googled.  I think there was some sort of fetish thing going on there.  No judgment about the fetish thing, of course.  I have a thing for cowboy hats and spurs.  I’m totally kidding.  There should be a saddle too. 
So the lawn mower searches were creepy interesting.  Now I have to tell you about the visitor from Singapore.  You are going to love this.  He Googled “give tulip for second date.”  Come on, let’s all say it – awwwwww, how sweet!  Dude from Singapore, I don’t know if it’s common to give tulips for a second date but I say go for it!  I hope it works out for you.  In fact, I’m going to insist that I be given tulips on a second date.  And that my date wear a cowboy hat.  That’s not asking too much, is it?
Anyway, it doesn’t matter how you got here or even if you stick around, I’m glad you stopped by.  Well, except for that one guy. 
Now I’m off to Google Fergus Falls.  Oh, and the weather.  ‘Cause, did you here?  There’s a hurricane a-coming!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Earthquake - Part 2

I don’t know if it breaks blogging rules to post twice in one day but oh well!  This is too weird of a coincidence not to post.  My mom called a few minutes ago and began reading this story that she found today while she was looking for her marriage certificate (note:  you should always keep your vital records in a safe, secure location).  Anyway, I wrote this when I was in middle school.  Clearly, I knew as much about earthquakes back then as I do now.  And apparently,  I was scared of falling trees back then too.        

Got Quakes?

Today was a very moving day for me. 
(I’m trying too hard, aren’t I?) 
If you weren’t on the East Coast to experience it, you’ve no doubt heard about it by now.   There was an earthquake, epicenter near Richmond, Virginia and felt all the way…actually, I haven’t seen the news so I don’t know how far away it was felt but I’ll tell you where I was when I felt it. 
I was in my chair at my desk doing very important government work.  I had just clicked a very important button to do a very important thing when suddenly there was a rumble from beneath me, my desk started quaking, my very important Presidential Library mugs started clanging together, and I thought what the hell is that?!  Okay, I didn’t think it.  I said it.  My colleague in the cubicle across from mine looked out his window and informed me, very calmly and matter-of-factly, that it was an earthquake. 
Look, this was the first time my world’s been rocked, if you know what I mean.  Earthquakes don’t happen on the East Coast!  What does one do in an earthquake?  They didn’t run drills for this sort of thing in my elementary school!  Do we shelter in place?!  Do we find a bathtub and cover ourselves with a mattress?  I work in a federal facility – no bathtubs or mattresses for us – there was a plan, by golly. 
The plan was to exit to the nearest stairwell.  That pIan was fine with me...I work darn close to a stairwell so I calmly proceeded into the stairwell.  But then they told us to keep going, exit the building, huddle together at our assigned spot.  Good plan and all.  But I couldn’t help but wonder…what happens when the trees start falling and the ground opens up and swallows us deep into the Earth’s core?  Then I realized that I was just being a panicky East Coaster who has never been through an earthquake before.  It was gonna be fine.
Besides, I had more pressing concerns.  I left my purse and my phone inside.  Inside the building in which I was no longer inside.   So, unlike my colleagues who were furiously calling loved ones, following Twitter, and checking into the earthquake on Foursquare, I was just standing there, waiting to get back into the building so I could get my stuff, text my mom and friends, follow Twitter, and check into the earthquake on Foursquare.
Eventually, I got back into the building and got my purse.  When I turned on my phone, I was surprised – and moved – by the concern for me on Facebook.  I sure have caring friends!   My brother sent this nice text (it’s the last one):
Are you impressed that I figured out
how to take a screen shot of my text
message?  Because I sure am!
What?  Now you’re laughing?!
I survived my first earthquake but I’m fine with making it my first and last.  Let’s hope there’s a little less movement of the Earth’s plates tomorrow!
*For the friends who care - the Presidential Library mugs are fine.  More importantly, the Donald Duck curio is safe!  No Donalds were damaged during the quake!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Recovery Time

When I was little, I had two claims to fame – I never looked back on my way to the operating room and I always had a remarkably quick recovery afterwards.  The bruises would heal, the physical pain would subside, and I’d be knee-deep in get well presents in a matter of days.  Oh to be young again!

On Saturday night, I had a wee bit of a mishap that involved an offensive step, a flip-flop, and me.  I was coming out of the Metro station, preparing to make a sarcastic comment about the escalator and bam! I went down.  As I was falling towards the concrete steps, all I could think was, I’m going to hit face first and break my jaw.  As painful as a broken jaw would be, it would’ve been even more painful to call my father to tell him that the very expensive face that he paid for was broken.  Luckily, I have the agility of a cat half Phoebe’s size – or just plain dumb luck – and I managed to twist my body so that my ankle smashed into the steps and the rest of the left side of my body followed.  But don’t worry.  The face is safe!

I’m not gonna lie.  There were quite a few expletives.  Actually only one expletive.  Said multiple times.  Loudly.  But it made me feel better.

To make a long story short – nothing’s broken. 

Now for the whine.  Yes, I know there are people in the world who are suffering more than me.  But right now, I don’t care about them all that much.  I care about me.  And me hurts. 

My entire body hurts.  It really, really hurts.  Like, all I want to do is lie in bed, doing nothing, staring up at the ceiling fan thinking about the guy who invented the Swiffer thing that cleans ceiling fan blades.  What a smart guy he is.  Unfortunately, life is not conducive to just lying in bed, doing nothing, pining after the Swiffer dude.  Besides, the TV in my bedroom isn’t connected.  And I can only go so long without TV. 

Every little movement makes me want to yell a few expletives.  Unfortunately, life is not conducive to yelling random expletives as I go about my daily routine.  Geez, life is not very conducive to me these days! 

This post has no real point.  I’m just tired and cranky and it was either telling you about this or complaining about the annoying scooters that all the just-back-in-town-UMD-student-athletes have.  I figured the scooters could wait for another day.

Today, I just want to whine.

So, thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Potty Humor

As a single woman who lives by myself in my own home, there are certain things to which I’ve become accustomed. 
This is not one of them:
Do all men leave the toilet seat up?  I feel like I need to update my Eharmony Must Haves and Can’t Stands.  Like, right this minute.
My brother and cousin, C.P., (the toilet seat offenders) came down this weekend to watch the Phillies play the Nats in D.C.  They also did some work on my house which was most appreciated.  So despite the toilet seat thing, it was a fun weekend.  Not to mention, I got a cool new laundry sink and a fixed closet door out of the deal! 

A new laundry sink in the basement!

The fixed closet door!
But still, the toilet seat thing - Grrr!        

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reach Out and Touch Someone. Just Not Me.

TopChef, who is really noteverstill and is my Fairy Blogmother (since I still believe in the magic of fairies) wrote a really great post about massages at The DC Moms.  An email chain that began with a compliment about her post evolved into a discussion about pedicures and being touched.  Coming on the heels of a conversation with someone else about why a high-five is not an appropriate ending to a first date – and doesn’t bode well for a second – I figured that I’d better take a long, hard look at my feelings towards touch and intimacy.      
I don’t like people touching me.  I’ve never been one of those happy huggers who greets family and friends with big cheerful hugs…and when I’ve been enveloped by big cheerful hugs, I’ve wished that I could be anywhere else other than that tight embrace where you'rethisclosetoanotherperson.  Now, I’m not completely anti-touching.  I’m affectionate with my parents and is it too weird to tell you that I still sit on my mom’s lap?  You think that’s bad?  Imagine how my mom feels.  (I only do it occasionally…not like all the time, geez!)  You know that personal space thing?  My brother jokes that I like to have a good five feet of personal space around me at all times.  He’s exaggerating just a little.  I’d be fine with four.
So, how’d I get to be this way?  I’ve always attributed it to one event in my life.  While I can’t remember if it was after my first or second surgery, I can still see and hear what happened in my mind like it was yesterday.
If you manage to break through the four feet of personal space around me and look at my face really closely, you’ll see two very faint scars under my eyes.  They’re from my first cheekbone surgery.  Do me a favor and look at the hem on your skirt or the stitching on your shirt sleeve.  Now image those tiny stitches under your eyes.  Now image that you’re seven or nine years old and you have to get those stitches removed.  Snip.  Snip.  Snip.    
Let’s just say, I didn’t it handle it very well.  I made the scene from The Exorcist look like a heartwarming holiday tale.  I freaked out.  It was an absolute primal protect myself at all costs freak out.  I cried, I begged, I used words that would make truck drivers and sailors blush.  I was a little girl and I was scared petrified.  I didn’t know why my doctor was doing what he was doing, why my mom was letting him do what he was doing, why God was letting them do what they were doing.  All I knew was that I was going to do whatever it took so that no one touched hurt me.  Ultimately, after my mother managed to calm me down, the stitches were removed – with the gentlest of hands – and I apologized for my bad behavior and all the curse words.
So.  You know.  I don’t like being touched.  That horrible experience scarred me for life.  Or did it?  Am I just using this episode as protection against the unknown?  A defense mechanism?  An easy excuse to avoid this whole touchy subject?      
This is what TopChef wrote to me last week that made me think:
       You don't like people touching you because you fear intimacy? So really you're nervous about people touching you so you've convinced yourself that you dislike it? Nervous is not the same as averse…

Said with love, of course.

And with that my friends, my friend hit the (embedded pedicure joke alert) nail on the head.  It’s a habit I have – saying I don’t like something without giving it a chance (hello, food!) or because I’m plain old scared.  I used to say that I didn’t like driving on highways but really, I was just terrified of being killed by a tractor trailer.  I got over the fear and now I love driving on highways.  It’s super easy for me to say that I don’t like to be touched – I’ve got a whooper of a traumatic life experience to use as an excuse – but really, it’s because I’m scared.  It's time to stop making excuses. 
But until I work through some more of my issues, a high five is gonna have to do at the end of the first date (when I actually go on a first date).  But if Mark, Steve, or Tom’s patient, he’ll get lucky…and I’ll give him a handshake on the second date. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Food Friday, Figuratively Speaking

Since I’m such a procrastinator, I thought I’d give you two Food Fridays for the price of one…even though I didn’t eat either dish on a Friday and this post isn’t going up on a Friday.  Such a rule breaker, I am.
It Figures
Last Thursday, TopChef, Partner in Snoring Crimes, and I enjoyed an absolutely lovely day on Coronado Island across the bay from San Diego.  After taking a long leisurely walk through town during which we snapped pictures, enjoyed a sprinkler shower, and plotted our BlogHer schedules, we stopped at Candelas on the Bay, a restaurant that specializes in the “Mexico City” style of cuisine.  Considering my experience of Mexican restaurants is limited to Chi Chi’s and Chipotle, I can’t really tell you what the “Mexican City” style of cuisine means.  But, I was ready to give it a go.  And because I’m a mature 32 year old woman, I didn’t even look at the menu before we went in to to see if I would like anything.  I was gonna take a chance.
My big chance – Pollo al Chipotle.  Pollo is basically the only Spanish word that I know, even if I don’t pronounce it right.  So, yeah, I totally chickened out and ordered…the chicken.  Now, why didn’t I order the 101 other options that would’ve been new and different?  It boils down to practicality, really.  I knew that there was a very real chance that I wouldn’t get dinner – there was swag to collect that night – and a hungry Denise quickly turns into a hangry Denise.  I wanted to make sure that I ordered something that I knew I’d like and I'd actually eat, especially to ward off any possible mood swings. 

The presentation of the meal was exquisite.  Upscale restaurants really know how to plate their entrees!  The chicken, stuffed with mozzarella and spinach, was beautifully covered in a chipotle sauce and topped with some weird green stuff.  Being the mature 32 year old woman that I am, I quickly scraped the icky green stuff off the chicken and dug in.  And boy was that chicken delicious!  So juicy and tasty with a little kick paired perfectly with –
“You’re not going to eat your figs?”  That was TopChef from across the table. 
That’s what that green stuff was?  Figs?  Well, well, well.  Figs are edible?  And not just in Fig Newtons, which I must now admit, I’ve never eaten either.
Okay, okay, mature 32 year old woman who is trying new foods speared a fig onto her fork, put it in her mouth, and chewed.
“They’re sweet!” I exclaimed.
TopChef informed me with, I think, a bit of amusement that yes, indeed they were sweet.  Figs are fruit after all.  Yeah, I didn't know that either.     
Those figs were pretty darn delicious.  And totally undeserving of being pushed off to the side of the plate.  I needed that reminder - don't just push something to the side without trying it first because chances are, you're going to enjoy it.   

I ate the figs.  But I couldn't do the black beans.

It’s All Greek to Me
Today, my mom and I went to a little restaurant not far from where I live.  It’s called the Hickory Ridge Grill and was I thought a little place that you could get burgers and other general fare.  Boy was I wrong!  It serves Ameri-terranean cuisine; American food with a Mediterranean flaire, served with Greek hospitality.  While the food was great, I want to give major props to the wait staff…they were amazing and so nice.  When you experience great service at a restaurant, it makes the entire meal that much better.  I'll definitely be going back; the service alone warrants a return trip. 
I decided to order something that I couldn’t pronounce - pollo, just kidding!  I got the pastichio.  Basically, it’s Greek lasagna with pasta and ground beef topped with a béchamel sauce.  Not very adventurous, after all – heck, I’ve not only eaten lasagna, I’ve cooked it (shocking, I know)!  It was super yummy although not exactly new for me...but can I get a little credit for not ordering the burger?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Schellenberg Wished He Was This Cool

Who’s Schellenberg, you ask?  Only the “Father of American Archival Appraisal,” according to Wikipedia – as an aside, there’s not an article about T. R. on Wikipedia…what gives?!  Basically, he wrote the book on archival methodology.  No, seriously, I was assigned to read  his book – or a chapter – in grad school.
But today is not Schellenberg’s day.  Nope, today is the Feast Day of St. Lawrence, patron saint of archivists and librarians.  Long story short, Larry, an archivist and librarian in the early church achieved martyrdom when he was roasted over a gridiron because he wouldn’t reveal the names of wealthy Christians.  Supposedly, as he was roasting, he told his executioners to turn him over because he was done on that side.  I like a guy with a sense of humor.  Even when he’s roasting to death.    
Fast forward a couple years and now we have the Feast Day of St. Lawrence on August 10th.  All pious archivists and librarians with a lunch hour to kill honor his memory by feasting on cold cuts (because of that whole roasting on a spit thing…although I’m lobbying that we change the tradition so that we eat rotisserie chicken instead).  

You know I don’t like to plan anything but I do like to talk about parties I’m going to throw.  The Mad Men Memorial Day Cocktail Party, the birthday Tax Day May Day when the hell’s it gonna happen roller skating party, Summer Field Day (there were gonna be medals, I swear!)  Usually the parties don’t get out of the talking stage.  With one exception.
That exception is St. Lawrence Day.  St. Lawrence Day is always on my calendar and there’s always a celebration planned.
Here’s the deal – for the last couple of years, a group of my colleagues have gathered at the local deli to observe Larry's day.  This year was no different.  Today, 19 colleagues showed up for the 3rd Annual Feast of St. Lawrence!  We broke bread and enjoyed one another's company, all under the comforting gaze of St. Lawrence.    
In between bites, we paid homage.
Celebrating the Feast of St. Lawrence!

So, save the date.  Same day, same place next year!  And I promise, we won’t roast you!    

**I have no idea what's going on with the font of this post...sorry!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's in the Cards

When I was in San Diego, I went to a psychic.  You’re allowed to roll your eyes for one minute.  Okay.  You can stop now.
I sorta believe that there are people who have psychic powers.  Go ahead, roll them again, you know you want to.  But listen, I heard once that most humans only use 10% of their brain.  That means there’s 90% of brain-power that most of us don’t tap into…what if that’s the psychic part?  And if there are people who have tapped into that 90% part and they want to share their abilities for a small fee to tell me what might happen in the future…well, I’ve wasted money on a lot more expensive things in my life.
Psychic Lady immediately recognized my own psychic powers.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been told that I have a strong psychic aura (if you keep rolling your eyes, they’re gonna get stuck, so be careful!)  I mean, I don’t see dead people or anything but there have been times in my life when I see something in my mind and then it happens in real-life and I go whoa!  So, she told me I have psychic powers and, this is where it got creepy, she told me that unlike her, I do my work when I sleep.  She told me that I’m always tired and people think I’m lazy because I take lots of naps but I need those naps because I don’t really sleep at night…I’m doing my psychic work.  And here, I was blaming always being tired on a possible case of sleep apnea.  Guess I don’t need that sleep study after all!
She told me that I’ve just come out of seven years of instability and my life is stabilizing.  She said that I just got a new job with new responsibilities and people work under me.  I did just get a new job, have new responsibilities, and work on the 3rd floor above the people who work on the 2nd floor!  I’m feeling pretty stable too…except for occasional panic attacks and episodes of flailing hands.
I asked about my brother, Michael.  Then she asked me who the other Michael is…that would be our great-great grandfather.  She told me that he’s always around me.  I sure hope he liked that post I wrote about him last month.  Since I’m that kind of nosy sister, I asked whether my brother would ever get married.  She told me that Michelle, Jennifer, and Glenda would be entering his life and he would be getting married.  And our mother can stop worrying.    
You’re not really interested in my brother’s love-life are you?  But how about mine?  Yeah, me too.  She wanted to know what I wanted to know about current and former loves.  So, clearly, her psychic powers were a little cloudy when it came to that.  Although I totally missed my chance to ask about current and former crushes.  Darn!  But back to my (future) personal life.  I’m taking a huge chance here but I’m going to put it out into the universe despite the teasing that I’ll probably endure.  Psychic Lady told me that Mark, Steve*, and Tom (or Thomas)** will enter my life and there will be a marriage and pregnancy (it’s a boy!) by the time I’m 35.  So, I need to get myself up on that saddle soon.  And seriously revisit the Date 25 timeline.*** 
Here’s the creepy part, she told me that I can’t just go to work, obsess about work, and leave work just to go home and not do anything.  I need to get out and go out.  Like I haven’t heard that advice a gabillion times before.  But it did make me go, whoa.  That’s psychic power for ya.
She also told me that there will be more surgeries and one of those will be a tummy tuck.  So, um, maybe I should cut down on the Jersey Mike's cheesesteaks sooner rather than later? 
The very last question I asked Psychic Lady was whether someone would really fall in love with me, just for who I am.  She said yes, my life is on the upswing, and I just need to be open to it. 
I guess I do.  It is in the cards after all. 
*Steve entered my life yesterday.  He happens to be old and married and the guy I talked to about building a custom island.  Well, psychic powers aren’t always 100% accurate.
**A special note to Trix and Richmond – Seriously?!  Really?!  That wasn’t even funny.     
***I know, I know, Caesar Rodney, just get myself to Date 1 before I start worrying about Date 25.

It's a Boy!

No, no, no, I’m not still gushing over the hot salsa dancer.  Although, have I mentioned how awesome that was?  I’m about to tell you about another boy.  Now, what I’m about to tell you may land me in swag jail, so, you know, if you want to start taking up a collection for my bail money, that’d be great. 
First, let me tell you about women bloggers.  We’re intelligent; we’re serious; we’re funny; we’re thought provoking; and boy, do we have a way with words.  We’re a force to be reckoned with.  We are influential.  One of the stats that was mentioned (I’m pretty sure I got this right) was that 80% of women would buy something that they read about on a blog.  So, no wonder major brands flock to conferences and give out free stuff.  I mean, in one night, I got colored pens (3M), a birdhouse kit (Lowes), a sausage croissant sandwich (Jimmy Dean), Smurf figurines (McDonald’s), and, well a lot of other stuff.
I think one of the biggest forces in the blogosphere may be moms who blog.   I’m going to try not to call them mommy bloggers anymore because I met tons of ladies this weekend who are moms blogging about lots more than their kids.  Moms who blog are using their voices to do all sorts of cool things from advocating for kids with special needs to promoting healthy living and everything else in between.  And if you’re a mom who blogs, you get the best swag at conferences (Toys.  Lots of toys!)
My pals – moms who blog – got invited to a swag suite filled with kid-centric swag.  I made the walk over with them and had a choice – sit outside and wait for them or try to get in.  It was amazingly easy to get in.  (Do you have that bail money collected yet?)  As we stood in line, TopChef told me that they might ask about my kids so I’d better invent one fast.   
After about one minute of labor, little Luke bounced into the world.  He just turned two in May and we were beginning to potty-train him but he was stubborn, just like his father.  Maybe I started potty-training too soon?  He liked trains and wanted to be Batman for Halloween.
ImagaLuke was so easy.  I totally skipped over that whole infancy phase and I didn’t have to worry about cutting those tiny little baby nails, I didn't have to worry about supporting his little baby neck so his little baby head didn’t pop off, and best of all, I didn’t have to change any diapers (which is good because I’ve never changed a diaper in my life and I wasn’t gonna start with my imaginary son, or um, anytime soon.  Just putting that out there.)  ImagaLuke was also laid-back, always ate his dinner, and never, ever threw a temper tantrum.  What a good little imaginary boy he was!
Don’t get me wrong.  Even though I was a fake mom, I worried about ImagaLuke.  As I picked up a small toy, I worried that ImagaLuke might put it in his mouth and choke on it and…crap, I don’t know the Heimlich and I certainly don’t want to do what my mother did to me when I was choking on something; when I ate a sample of vitamins, I realized that ImagaLuke should probably take vitamins and eat fruits and vegetables and other healthy things and wow, that could be a problem with a mom like me; when I was given a cool, awesome thermometer, it dawned on me that if ImagaLuke was sick, I was the one who had to take care of him even if I was sick too and what if his father was out salsa dancing with other ladies and I didn’t get a nap or a shower* or…okay, a little overboard right there.     
The swag was nice and all but being a mom to an imaginary boy was hard! 
For right now, I’m content with just being friends with moms and moms who blog.  Especially if they get me into the cool swag suites. 
All the swag I got from this particular suite was either given to my moms who blog friends or will be donated to Toys for Tots. 
*There’s one thing that’s always worried me about motherhood.  Showers.  Not the ones where you get presents but the ones where you get clean.  My childless friends and I discussed this at the beach.  We all like long showers but can moms take long showers when they’ve got kids on the loose in the house?  At our first breakfast in San Diego, I asked my moms who blog pals and they assured me that yes, you can take a long shower when you have kids.  Whew.  And thanks to my new friend, Partner in Snoring Crimes, I know where to put the kids so they don’t, like, burn the house down when you’re in your 20 minute shower!    

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dancing Queen

“Relax and just follow me,” he instructed as the music blared around us. 
Me in my crazy little brain, Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  I'm going to kill them.  Isn't this how babies get made?!  


So, a couple of interesting things happened to me at BlogHer. 
The first happened on Friday morning at the Newbie Breakfast.  Out of over 3,600 bloggers, I met someone who graduated from my high school two years before me.  She told me that she saw me at the 5K and she thought that I looked familiar.  I don’t like when I look familiar.  Brown hair, brown eyed girls are a dime a dozen.  I want to look just like them.  Boring brown hair, brown eyed girls who kinda fade into the background and who don’t look different from all the other brown hair, brown eyed girls in the world.   And who sure as hell doesn’t look familiar to you.  But you know what?  I decided to change my overly sensitive reaction.  Yep, I’m familiar alright.  I’m not just your average run-of-the mill brown hair, brown eyed girl…I can’t fade into the background; heck, I don't want to fade into the background anymore.  Yeah, I stick out a little from all the rest.  But, do you know what that means?  I’m memorable, damn it!    
So, this encounter with my fellow brown hair, brown eyed high school alumna (who I confess wasn’t familiar to me at all) brought memories of high school flooding back. 
Ahh, high school.  High school was where I perfected the “everything is great!” façade.  I was happy, smiley Denise.  The nice girl with the disturbing number of over-sized tee-shirts.  That style choice sure took a long time to grow out of! (Anyone?  Anyone at all?  Okay, no more jokes for you!) 
I was always happy, smiley Denise.  Happy, smiley Denise who didn’t dare look at herself in the mirror in the girls’ bathroom because, well, her face wasn’t worth primping or preening over.  Happy, smiley Denise who knew what hallways to avoid so she didn't have to hear the mean taunts and rude comments.  Happy, smiley Denise who loved to dance but who didn’t get asked to dances because girls like her didn’t get asked.  Happy, smiley Denise who didn’t feel worthy of being asked to the dance. 
That’s not to say that happy, smiley Denise didn’t go to dances.  Oh no.  My friends and I hit them all up, except for Prom, but we had other plans.  When we went to the dances, we danced together as a group.  There was never any boy asks girl, boy puts hands on girl's hips, twirl, twirl, dip, dip, kinda dancing.  At least, for me.  But that was okay, really.  Besides, that kind of dancing is how babies get made.      
I liked to dance.  I still like to dance.  Nowadays, my dancing takes place in my car (I’m a great driver’s seat dancer), my cubicle, my kitchen, Aisle 3 in the Safeway.  Usually, by myself.  Actually, that could explain the curious glances I get in Aisle 3.  Awkward.  I dance because it’s fun and I like it and if there’s music playing, I like to get my groove on.  I’m totally cool with getting that groove on without a partner.  Although, every once in a while, I think it would be nice to dance with someone.  Well, as long as no babies get made. 
On Saturday night, my pals and I went to the Latina Social Fiesta party.  They hired smokin’ hot, sexy as hell, professional male salsa dancers to entertain the crowd.  I was content to stand to the side, shaking my booty, swaying from side to side as I munched on an empanada and a quasi fish taco and watch as the smoking hot, sexy as hell, professional male salsa dancers pulled women from the crowd to dance because, you see, girls like me may go to the dance but we don’t get asked to dance.  
As one of the smokin’ hot, sexy as hell, professional male salsa dancers approached us, my naughty friends strongly encouraged him to lead me to the dance floor.  So there I was being pushed and pulled (for future reference, it’s physically impossible to dig your feet into a concrete floor) into the center of the dance floor. 
“Relax and just follow me,” he instructed as the music blared around us. 
Me in my crazy little brain, Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  I'm going to kill them.  Isn't this how babies get made?!  Oh my gosh.  A real live boy is dancing with me.  Me!!
Under the stars in San Diego, I danced with a smokin hot, sexy as hell guy who put his hands on my hips and twirled me around and dipped me and led me in the salsa.  It was absolutely magnificent.  And no babies got made!   
Happy, smiley high school Denise?  She was totally worthy of being asked to the dance.  She just didn’t know it. 
Happy, smiley, salsa dancing Denise?  I'm totally worthy of being asked to the dance.  I know it.  And I believe it.    
As far as I’m concerned Goal 6 has been accomplished.  It wasn’t the right song and my partner wasn't wearing cowboy boots but I danced the salsa under the stars in San Diego with a real live boy!  That deserves a spot on the Goal Board. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011


On Wednesday, I headed to BlogHer'11.  My friends and I flew into Nashville where we had a connecting flight to San Diego.  Luckily, there was plenty of time to spare between the flights and we didn't have any problems making our connection...because missing it would've been annoying.
On the flight to San Diego, I sat next to a nice young girl named Brielle.  We started talking and I found out all sorts of things about her.  She's 17 and lives in Nashville with her mom and grandparents.  She has two little half-siblings who call her Big Sissy.  She starts her senior year on Tuesday but she's going in on Monday to help the underclassmen.  She took in a stray cat a few years ago, she has five house plants, and she reads the Bible.  She was flying to San Diego to catch a connecting flight to Sacramento.  I'll never know how Brielle's trip to Sacramento was and I'll never find out what college she picks or anything else about her because our paths will surely never cross again...but for a few hours last Wednesday, we made a connection, fleeting as it was.

When I arrived at BlogHer, I found out that this conference is all about connecting.  Connecting with brands to get swag (because yes, this borderline hoarder needs free crap like a hole in the head!); connecting with fellow bloggers as you lamely tell them that your blog is about your life (yep, because the other 3,599 write about the same thing!); connecting with strangers at lunch because they just had to sit at your table where all you wanted to do was eat in peace so you could pick all the lunchmeat off the roll without feeling like a freak or a four year old; connecting with bloggers in lectures in which you learned about connecting with readers.  It was  a heckuva lotta connecting.  It was so exhausting that by the end of the day, the only thing that I wanted to connect with was my bed.  Snoring be damned.  

I'm actually not the best at making connections with people.  On the surface, yeah, sure.  I'm  the gal everyone knows and waves to and who seems like a jolly good time.  But the honest to goodness, trust you enough to let you in, trust you enough to let you see me, the real Denise...that's been a work in progress.  This year has been a turning point for me.  Maybe it's the blog, maybe it's the quieting of all the voices in my head (except the ones who speak up on nights when I eat Oreos too late), maybe it's something that even I can't explain, but this year, I've started making those connections.  There are people in my life who I know I can count on, the ones who I trust enough to give my spare house key to, the ones who I can invite over without caring that I didn't clean up all the clutter, and the ones who I can call or text or Facebook about whatever crazy thought crosses my mind.  They're my connections;  they're my friends.  And boy, am I glad that I didn't miss out on them.           

So, go out and make connections.  Maybe even play Connect Four.  Whatever.  Just don't miss any more connections.