Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"Walk through the bottomland, without no shoes"( #2)

Ah, bare feet. Bliss.

My mother thinks comfort is socks and sneakers, and used to change into them every day after coming home from teaching school. My father-in-law used to say that a change of shoes was as good as a rest (paraphrasing the old saw, no doubt).

I say that there's NOTHING like walking around with no shoes at all. This penchant for nude pedal regions may explain the reason why my feet are not soft and delicate flowers, like the petals of a budding rose, but rather are more like something one might find on the bottom of a pair of well-worn Thom McAns. Not lovely to look at, and certainly not anything to be lovingly stroked with cocoa butter by a muscularly broad-shouldered admirer (as if THAT would work anyhow, because I'm so ticklish it hurts to be touched in the ticklish bits), if I could find one that wanted anything to do with a middle-aged lady with very shallow pockets.

I engage in the all-out flouting of a symbol of delicate womanhood as powerful and fetish-inspiring as the strokable feet, and staunchly stand by my desire to be in skin-to-ground contact whenever possible. This extends to driving in the car, in which just before I start up I kick off the shoes and stretch my toes and kick one foot up on the dashboard. It applies to the nights and mornings I walk the dogs, despite chill or risk of cuts from a broken bottle or errant piece of knife-like pine cone. It applies even to the walk from my car into school to pick the kids up from their after-school program, which always elicits a "Mom! You're not wearing shoes! Again!"

I've had toes frozen from frost because I haven't put on even slippers to protect my tootsies from the inclemency outdoors. My heels have been harshly assulted by rocks invisible in the dark of night or early morning, sticks have rammed my instep, I've strode straight into some things that SHOULDN'T have been in my yard or on my living room floor at all (gol-danged DOGS! ding-blasted Legos!), and still I insist on going "nekkid on da feets. " Oh, yeah.

I've been this way since I was a kid, and one of the best bare feet stories I have (oh, there's a story for everything, duckies), that I feel it necessary to share with you today, goes thusly:


It was a hot summer day in the land of gray skies; it had been hot for several days in a row, so hot that the tar that sealed the seams in the blacktop of our street had started to soften and bubble. My friend and I, bored that late afternoon, had spent a lot of time up at the creek, and on walking home discovered this "goo" that used to hold the street together. We stopped, interested in the sticky black bubbles, and poked them with sticks, threw pebbles at them, and then, inevitably, began to pop them with our toes. Pop, pop, pop, over and over and over, it was like an early version of bubble wrap that somehow soothed our hot grade school brains. The bubbles mesmerized us to the point that the cars returning home from work carrying payloads of frazzled Dads had to cut to corner short to avoid hitting us two oblivious glop-hypnotized little girls.

As luck would have it, one of those cars held MY Dad, who stopped at the corner and asked what we were doing. Not being old enough to be able to craft a lie that would cover up so blatant an act as stepping in tar bubbles in front of the whole neighborhood on purpose, I told the truth. There wasn't anything else to do, I was smart enough to know that much.

Dad calmly told me to go home, and that he would meet me in the garage.

My heart sank. The garage? That sounded bad. Very bad. Nobody had been made to go to the GARAGE, before, and my knees started to shake, and if I admit this to myself, I'm pretty sure I started to cry, just a little.

My friend gave me one of those "Oh no, I think I might be in trouble too" looks, and swifted on home to whatever fate awaited her.

On shaky knees I hauled my pathetic little scared butt off to the garage, where my Dad was waiting for me, with.....

a rag and some gasoline, and instructions to wipe all that stuff off my feet and then to go wash up in the mudroom.

I'm certain I must have been shocked into guilty silence, because he said "was that fun, popping those tar bubbles?" and I replied" yes." He said "it looked like it" and went into the house to tell Mom what was going on in the garage.

The relief I felt was like a sip of icy Kool-Aid - as I scrubbed my blackened feet I could feel it shivering up my spine and knocking into my agitated brain, a comfortable breezy reprieve.


You know, It's a damned good thing he stopped me there on the street and caught me before I went into the house, becase now, looking back at it, I can think of nothing that would hurt my mother WORSE than walking with my tarry filthy feet all over her shining floors and carpets. Man, my Dad was a genius.


Heh - if I could find tar bubbles today, I'd probably still do the SAME darned thing, because you know what? It IS fun.

Monday, January 30, 2006

What a mental image

Taken right from the "odd news" portion of your regularly scheduled broadcast,

This perfect ten-point landing.

Yes, well, stiff upper lip and all that, old chap! Nothing to see here, so move along. We'll pull the pieces together and carry on over here, no need to worry.


Seriously y'all - I wasn't going to update today, but daggone! This story set off a cascade of mental images cause me to get church giggles. The shoelace, the stair tumble, the smashing of valuble artifacts! Great heavenly days, y'all!


I'm sure we'll be back to the usual dull fare tomorrow. My apologies for this drift into more juvenile territory than what's usual....

Hee! Woo! I'm seeing John Cleese!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Gift Card Cha-cha

It was a day like any other, or perhaps like many others and not really like ANY other, because that would be too "Groundhog Day" to be credible, but still, you get the idea.

The day spoke of no great plans, no figurative mountains to climb or literal onerous duties to accomplish. There were also no festivals to attend or feasts for which to prepare home and hearth, no great "thing" to anticipate with the delicious feeling that something memorable could happen once the "thing" was started.

It was, merely, a day.

And yet......

When one considers that upon setting out this afternoon to not only FIND a "national toy store chain site" in this area but also to CONQUER it and escape reasonably unscathed, with both offspring satisfied in their choices and not jealous of the others' purchases, and that the job was actually performed not once, but twice, with harmony and even, dare I say, actual SHARING involved, it can be counted as a good day indeed.

(I live for small victories, y'all. They're almost all I have.)

Let me explain of this great happening of this afternoon, because I'm sure what you're really wanting here is a fully fledged explanation of this fascination that is my life. I can picture you, sitting there, bending ever so slightly forward with your intent desire to know MORE about this milestone achievement, a sheen of anxious perspiration annointing your furrowed brow.

Because I am not one to shirk my duties as a teller of stories about this, my highly interesting existence, here goes wid da sto-ray:

With a gift card worth $25 burning it's way through your pockets every waking moment, it's hard to stay focused when you're a kid. The card, it calls to you to USE it, to SPEND the vast resource contained therein, no matter if a school night is what's on tap or if Mom is so frazzled from work that merely arriving home in one piece could be considered an achievement worthy of some kind of "award of recognition." The siren call of the gift card must be answered, at the first possible moment! You know, if you have to ask your mother every single day of your life WHEN CAN YOU GO TO THE TOY STORE TO CASH IN YOUR GIFT CARD, then that's what it takes to appease the powers held within the brightly colored plastic parallelogram....one cannot ignore the primal call.

Therefore, it came this afternoon to the point at which I could hold the young'uns off no longer, and made good on my promise to take them to the "national toy store's local representative site" halfway across the county to cash in the promise of happiness the gift card provides. Heck, we didn't have anything ELSE to do, so whatever. Strangely, about 5 minutes before setting out on the great journey toward kid bliss and parental stress, I changed my mind and decided to take an alternate route toward the purveyor of kid-gasms.

Because, it appears, I am a psychic genius of mouth-frothing proportion.

The last-minute route, the first alternate and not the wearer of the crown, took me past several extra traffic lights and, significantly, a certain MALL in our area that has every shop known to God and man (Cheesecake Factory, anyone?), but which, according to the "national toy store"'s website, did NOT have one of their stores.

And, you know what? The website LIES, in vivid techicolor!

There was indeed one of their stores at the great and powerful MALL, and as luck would have it, that store was in the beginning throes of a "going out of business at this location" sale.
People, can you say "that ROCKS?" Can you also say everything was an EXTRA 30% off the already marked-down prices, and not only did the kids get what they wanted, but also had money left over so that when we were done with THAT store (whose shelves, obviously, were somewhat depleted what with all the bargain shopping that was being done), we went to the site of our original destination and bought still MORE stuff, most of which was paid for by the remainder on gift cards, at a "store clearance" sale? Two BIG bags full of stuff, well beyond the amount my prior experience with this store would have estimated one could go with the amount prescribed by the young'uns cards.

(Let us all now please ignore all the bolding and capping and italicizing that just happened. It's ugly, and there for effect, because this is how I talk, and I apparently can only write how I talk)

The result? I feel at once satisfied and cheated. The satisfaction is obvious, because the trip was pulled off with the nice surprise of the "phantom store with huge bargains" and the "second store with an accomodating sale of its own," and yet I feel cheated because now I know just how badly I'm being RIPPED OFF whenever I go to that particular store to shop.

There's no silver lining with out its attendant cloud, y'all. :>

Saturday, January 28, 2006

It's game time! (Interactive)

A smattering of entertainments for those of y'all who are looking for something amusing to do this weekend.

First, the double-plus goodness of grossness AND bizarreness, with a message that's more true than any smoker would like to admit:

Feed the dollies!

If you've got more of an Anita Blake bent to your energies, then take a goggle at this 'un:

Shoot the zombies!

If you want to be entertained in less time that it takes to reheat your coffee:

Watch the bunnies!

And if you just like fuzzy happy things that explode, well then this is your game:

Pop the fuzzballs!


You can thank me later.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Well, isn't this interesting?

My goodness, what those rovers won't find.

For example,
this. (Look at the lower right of the pic)

My first thought - whatever you do, don't lean over it, because man, something might jump out of it and latch onto your space suit's face shield and dissolve it with alien gastric juices and force a squicky ovipositor down your throat and then a few hours later something that looks like a tadpole with teeth will explode through your sternum while you're trying to have a nice dinner.

Like this:

(Props to this web site for the pic and a very intersting and detailed history of this misunderstood creature.)

What do YOU think it is?

Friday news headlines

Judge to Rule on Merit of Christ Case

The judge in this case must proceed with caution. He makes the wrong decision on this one and millions of Southern Baptists might spontaneously combust. Disaster warning in place for the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama.

Poll: Public Worried About Federal Deficit

THIS is news? Of COURSE we're worried! What I think might be news is if someone actualy came up with a way to ADDRESS the issue! Next!

Bush Has Hits, Misses in Annual Speech

But did he sink the Battleship?

Federer to Play Baghdatis in Aussie Final

My question is - how many years did it take him to LEARN the Baghdatis?

Sex calms nerves before public speaking - study

Again, please tell us something we dont' already KNOW. Sheesh! It's the nerves before the SEX that are killer!

Scorpion Lives for 15 Mo. Inside Fossil

It was all over once Granny Teeter noticed a slight itching at the base of her neck and scratched open the cyst that had slowly been growing over the last year or so. Imagine her surprise when that scorpion popped out! She was the hit of the bingo parlor THAT night, let me tell you.

Alaska Revives Aerial Wolf Control Program

Now HERE'S the kind of news I'm TALKING about - I didn't know there were such things AS aerial wolves to start with. Arboreal, maybe, but AERIAL? Learn something new every day, that's my motto. Imagine that, aerial wolves.


This concludes the broadcast of TIFF TV for Friday, January 27th. Good day.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Let me explain something

I made the mistake of checking the ol' site meter just now, and was alarmed by it's striking resemblance to, shall we say, a cliff? Maybe one like in the Rocky Mountains? With the steeeeep sides and dangerous-looking craggy rubble-strewn bottom?

Which begs a question - where did you go, dear peoples?

Is the dropoff because I'm not providing a daily ration of Tiff lately and now y'all are so starved for my particular blend of humor and pathos and soul-baring excess and nipple stories that you've gone somewhere else for your fix, hoping that it's just as tasty and less filling?

Or, is it because the last thing I posted was so very offensive that it, in one fell swoop of the pen (yeah, OK, keyboard), completely turned off the small cadre of readers that actually visit this site, wondering why they ever chose to read the shameful secrets of this obviously very disturbed women in the first place?

Or, more horribly, perhaps, is it because what I put up for offer is so beyond crappy it's made you finally realize it's time to run screaming from any further sullying of brain cells better used to play "Chuzzle" or read FARK?

If so, I understand. Completely natural. Really.

Just, you know, I wonder.


If you were wondering and maybe feeling a tiny bit bad for me due to my full-on Tiffy-fit of Monday, here's an update - the veritable mountain of work I mentioned earlier this week is being chipped away, oh so slowly, by generous applications of panic, stress, adrenalin, caffeine, and 4:30 wake-up calls. I can almost see over the top of the "to-do" list and am lovingly anticipating the sliiiiide down the other side into the weekend. Mmmm, warm bed, I miss you so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

On stage, once over lightly (#2)

"Sergeant Oop! Come quickly!"

"To everything, turn, turn, turn"

"We are all the same because we are different, you, me, him, her, and us"

Yes, that was me - child star. A star! On stage! Acting! Like I knew what I was doing!

Ah, yes, the lines I've uttered on stage could turn the stony heart of the most cruel critic to warm and sweetly bubbling mush. The gamine way I would turn my big blue eyes toward the ceiling, reciting my memorized words with a combination of charmingly expressed dread fear and panicky, well, panic. My movements about the stage were perfectly wooden and stilted, as though I was on a weekend pass from Motel Thorazine. The natural way I emoted to the audience spoke volumes, like so many marbles had been stuffed in my mouth so that the only way to be heard or understood was to SHOUT to the rafters with the rapid-fire delivery of the best patter man, only without so much of the enunciation.

Some Bold Moments -
- stretching as "Mama in her kerchief" in the third grade Christmas play as I was getting ready to settle down for my long winter's nap; or

- playing a space-girl alien who, for some reason, is hunting down library books; or

- prancing about as a silly colorfully-dressed idiot in the 7th-grade song and dance extravaganza written by our music teacher (there's a picture somewhere of me wearing striped sox and a flowered tee and purple jeans with the cuffs rolled up to my knees and my hair in pigtails wrapped in puffy brightly colored yarn, which was my outfit for the show).

And yet, it's time to cue the sad music, because here's the truth - I was never natural, never comfortable, never one of those girls who thought it would be the be-all-and-end-all of the world to be on the stage. I mean, I'd BEEN there and it was scary as all heck to have to remember all those lines and move on the stage to where I was supposed to be and to look the right way at the right time. Scary! Nerve-wracking! Made me feel like my skin was on too tight and that I was too big and too slow and too ugly and too damned "ME" to really be allowed up there on stage, where people could see me.

And yet, I still tried out. I still made it. I was still in the show. I was always in the show.

Until the 8th grade muscial.....

I tried out with my friend Sharon Woolsey. We sang something together (I recall it was "Gloria in excelcis deo," the rock version), and made that cut, then had to do the stage movement portion of the audition, at which I was told repeatedly by the director to "look happy."

And, I couldn't. Because, I wasn't. I wasn't happy, and didn't see a reason to LOOK that way if I wasn't. Why do THAT? Seemed silly. Really, it WAS silly, being something that you're not.

But, and here's a word to the wise pretenders, silly is what it takes to make the list of people that's taped up on the wall outside the chorus room, silly gets you into the show, silly allows false emotion and broad movements and shiny happy people faces, no matter what you REALLY are thinking.

Silly, needless to say, wasn't my specialty.


Years later I went to see "A Chorus Line" with my parents, who loved musical theater, and when I heard the song from the girl who felt "nothing" in her acting classes (every day, for a week we would try to feeel the motion, feeeel the motion, down the hilllll!), I knew just how she felt. I think I could still sing that whole song, word for word, because each one of them could have been written by me.


No great loss. I focused on music and got on stage anyhow.

Sometimes with solos.

Monday, January 23, 2006

5 weird habits

Thanks to wordnerd, I'm tagged. I must comply with the tagging, this much is obvious, or risk being chased out of the cool kids' club into the dark and cold impersonality of the internet to face the friendless void alone.

But only 5 weird habits? Dear me, this will be hard. Where to start?

Ah yes, with the obvious. My bordeline autistic side:

1) I count to 8 over and over when I walk someplace. (I blame this on marching band and the "8 to the 5" rule. I cannot help myself.)

The next 2 illustrate my OCD side rather nicely, I think:

2) Kitchen counters are meant to be clean, dammit. Even if I just cleaned them.

3) Same for the floor. (It takes a strength of will I don't have to allow crumbs and grit on the floor for more than a couple of hours. Strangely, I do not feel this way about carpets. That's my Mom's fetish.)

Wait, maybe this one speaks to OCD too - pattern, much?

4) The piles of work on my desk must be parallel and perpendicular to one another before I leave for the day. (Further, all paper must be neatly stacked so that no edges drift over other edges. If a stack contains clipped items, the clips must be laid out in alternating places so that the pile stays squared off. I'm serious. Even in my clutter I'm organized. Is it any wonder at all that I became a scientist rather than a musician?)

Hey now, there's 4 down already - this is going much too quickly. Now, what will be the last personal pecadillo to make the list? Oh my, settle down, you rambunctions little quirks! You're forcing me to close my eyes and pick at random because you're all looking at me so endearingly with those pleading big eyes of love, wanting to be the next (and last) finalist....

5) I like to eat eat cottage cheese and ketchup. Together. (Can't eat it plain - it tastes gross and leaves a soapy mossy aftertaste. This combination never fails to get a reaction from the uninitiated. )

There you go! The top five, right off the top of my head, from the top of the building where I work, which is for a company that's near the top in its field.

Clearly, I need a hobby.

Oh. My. God.

This is not a test of the Tiff emergency broadcast system.

Help me.

Just help.

Really, I need help.

This slithering sulfur-breathed nefarious beast called work is nearly killing me. I come back from a few LOVELY days in the Northeast, and there are 85 messages in my work e-mail, only 10 of which were garbage. Do you know what that means?

  • It means my inbox is overflowing with things people want me to do.
  • It means that the gobs of work I did over the last 3 weekends and weeknights need to be re-done because I didn't have the right information the first time I wrote all of what I wrote.
  • It means that the report for another client just complicated itself because they KEEP sending me stuff when I thought I had a handle on the pile I already had.
  • It means that the NEW project I was put on last week is heating up to full boil and I STILL don't have any idea what I'm doing and need to background it like a futhamucka in the next 2 days.
  • It means that still another client got all nervous because I went out of town and called my boss who asked another writer to cover my project when they client KNEW I was out of town and wouldn't be getting back to them until this week sometime, and the other writer had to take a few hours to write something that would have taken me 30 minutes to do, just to please the client.
  • It means that the report that is nearing completion must be sent for QC again, and I haven't even looked at the ancillary docs, which is part of my job.
  • It means that my usual 8 p.m. date with the couch and Mr. Jim Beam will have to be cancelled for the next few days. I hope he still loves me when I get the time to see him again.

I know I'm whining. I know it. But the whining is keeping me from breaking into nervous cackling laughter while my eyballs roll around in my head like I'm a cartoon character that just ran into a fake tunnel painted on the side of a mountain. Because man, that's what I feel like.

Y'all can't do more than say "chin up, old girl!" I know this. Just so you know, that's plenty of help right there.


Lines from the weekend:

"Oh Mommy, I love you"

"Hey, this place is really loud; let's go someplace else for the next beer."

"It's so good to see you!"

"Now where do I put all these clothes I don't want anymore?"

"I see your cousins!"

"Thanks for having him come to play, he's been looking forward to it."

"I'll bring you dinner if you'll provide the house."

"I love where you live. This is my dream house."

"I love you too"

Not necessarily in that order.

It was a blast, it was big fun, it was an explosion of good times, it was over too soon, and now I'm back here. At work. Again.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

One more before I go

Because, Lord knows, I can't leave well enough alone.

There was a question on
The WVSR today about nicknames, and what yours are or what the really mean ones you've given other people are. I obligingly supplied some of the ones I've created and some of those given by me to others. One of them, if you went to the website and read the comments and found mine (which I'm SURE you all did post-haste once mention of it was made), refers to the moniker "Pinky," which was an attempt by a high school dork to saddle me with a much-unwanted nickname about a certain body part.

I feel the need to tell y'all how it really went down, because unless I tell the whole story you're going to think bad things about me, and I can't have that before I leave for 5 days and you're allowed to talk amongst yourselves.

So, to put paid to this story, here goes:

Setting: Tennis class, 9th grade.

I was sweating like a pig on the court and turning the very attractive shade of red I usually do when I'm participating in physical activity. I had dripping wet hair, a soaked-through shirt, and, as it just so happened, a supportive undergarment that did NOT have the completely opaque quality necessary when one has sweat through the white t-shirt one has chosen to wear that day to gym class (the gymsuits alluded to in an earlier post were not used by this time, more's the pity).

My 15-year-old male opponent said to me - "Hey, I bet I can guess what color your nipples are! They're pink! Right? I think I'll call you Pinky from now on! Hey Pinky, hit the ball over here, Pinky! C'mon, you can serve better than that, Pinky! Over here, Pinky!"

See, he thought he was being clever.

Until I started calling him "Tiny."


(Lesson - never mess with the girl who was called "the most cynical person she'd ever met" by her 8th grade English teacher. She will step all over your punk ass in the comeback department, especially when she's backed into a corner by overwhelming embarrassment)

Somehow, years later, I didn't mind the suppositions so much. There was one occurrence wherein my arrival at a party was greeted with "brown or pink?" Apparently the host and his girlfriend were taking a poll. By that time, thankfully, I'd gotten comfortable with the idea of HAVING body parts about which conversations could be had or questions could be asked, and so volunteered the info willingly. Had to - they weren't going to let me at the beer until I did!

Now you know. I'm sure you were wondering.

'Til next week then!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sometimes I get excited

WARNING - the following contains 1) a confession, 2) lots of random colors 3) too much gushing for a grown woman, and 4) a plea for help.

The Management

A confession - I have a super-secret e-mail address.

It's always a thrill to see e-mail coming to the super-secret e-mailbox. I have it set up to re-direct comments from this page, bounce some other e-mails from other websites, notify me of bloggy updates from the savvy bloggers with actual notify lists, and the like. There's usually something GOOD in there, a message from one of y'all or a note that someone at MySpace loves me or whatnot (stop giggling, it could happen).

So, this afternoon, at the end of a very long day indeed, I wearily checked the e-mail box for the super-secret Tiff site, and saw SIX e-mails were waiting for me (don't laugh - I check so obsessively throughout the days that 6 at a blow is big doin's).

"My!" I thought. "Could it be that the latest N.A.Y. entry has generated considerable buzz amongst the blogerati and I'm becoming well-read? Or could it be that someone has discovered the charms of the Tiffster at MySpace and is contacting me repeatedly to have insightful discussions about Jane Austen books or their favorite cinema offering?"

(just occured to me - the acronym for this site isn't very flattering. Meh - can't be bothered to change it).

Back to the tension-filled moment, then:

It could be anything, I thought excitedly as I popped open the mail center - anything! Maybe I'd been discovered as the bestest new writer of bloggafication evah and the comments were veritably TRICKLING in! Maybe it's someone who could be my new best friend in the whole world who found me on this or some other site and who loves me for who I am and lives someplace close to me and we can see each other on the weekends and do fun stuff like go look at
plasticized dead people and weirdly misshapen skeletons together (because, LJS and PRV, if you don't go with me I'll find someone who will.....)!

I clicked the link - the list of wildly wonderful e-mails was imagined and were almost real in my over-achieving mind, when what to my wondering eye did appear, but:

1 e-mail from "RealAge" telling me I should be thinking about colon polyps today
1 e-mail from some horoscope thing telling me I could get my WHOLE CHART read for just $20
1 e-mail from someone I don't know asking me to "check out Lila16"
1 e-mail from some stupid Yahoo group I joined forever ago and am too lazy to unjoin,
2 bulk e-mails.


Apparently my discovery and new best friends will have to wait for another day.

Oh poo......

I'd settle for discovery......

But, hey, if you live near me and like to look at weird crap and can talk about anything and everything with a firm knowledge base and have a great sense of humor and like to drink coffee and if you get my sense of humor (there's your big hurdle right there), then maybe you've got a shot at the whole "friend" business. I mean, I already HAVE fabulous friends who fit the bill quite nicely, but there's always room for more. Come, join the party!

Or drop me an e-mail. Whatever.

Without it, I'm stuck with contemplating colon polyps.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

It's 5 o'clock somewhere (accent 4, late)

First, a question - how early can one start drinking, alone or in a group, not at a party, before the drinking is seen as perhaps a signal of a pathologic/sociological/mental/addictive issue? I'm talking here about your "God, it's only 4 pm? How can that be? I need a drink but it's too early" kind of thing, wherein the hours up to 4 p.m. of the mystery day in question have been filled with hassle and work and not much fun at all, and yes, I'm talking about a weekend day filled with work, and maybe even this mystery day involved having to cancel a fun trip to see a friend who is, in all likelihood, waving a bottle of single-barrel bourbon at you from 120 miles away because you think that maybe you can hear a faint "neener neener neener" that sounds a fair bit like her and her husband coming through the mental radio. I generously leave their child out of the taunting, because she's small and therefore does not know what she's doing.

I ask this question hypothetically, of course.

Second - maybe a kind of an answer, at least if one is boating.

It was the summer of my 24th (fifth?) year, and lo and behold I was dating someone new. Again. This fellow has been mentioned here before, but I shall describe him here again because for heaven's sake I shouldn't want the new reader to have to busily dig through the massive archives (yes, we're over 50 entries now, my kittens) just to find out about some guy I dated a lifetime ago.

He was, for the uninitiated amongst you, the guy who was living in the same house as a bunch of people from work and they had a party and he was there and I thought he was cute, but I left the party without doing anything but talking with him. Then, something weird happened. I sat at my apartment and thought about him for a little while, and got back across town (where the party was still in full swing), and found him and asked him if I could please speak with him outside. He obligingly came out and I kissed him. Right smack on the mouth, on purpose, then said "I should have done that earlier," to which he replied "would you like to go see the house I just bought?" and lo and behold I had a boyfriend.

A rich one. Bonus!

(Shoot, maybe I've never mentioned that part here before. Hey! Now you know!)

This boyfriend had a brother who had a sailboat. Sweet! Or at least I THOUGHT it was, because I'd never really been on a sailboat until we were invited to spend the weekend on his brother's sailboat. For the life of me now I can't recall where he KEPT the sailboat, except that it was on a very large body of water indeed, which leads me to believe it was the Chesapeake Bay.

After an uneventful trip we arrived at the marina at about 10 a.m. We unloaded the Saab 900s (at the time a very cool car), packed it all down in the sweaty underbelly of the boat, and made with the very important pre-sailing preparations, which went as follows:

Brother: "Hey John, what time is it?"

John: "I believe it's five o'clock somewhere, bro!"

And from under a bulkhead (or something nautical-ish) pops a cooler packed FULL of cold beer, and the "sailing" began.

Who knew you could sail without leaving the dock? Amazing!

There was one shocking little surprise when I looked up (I was sitting on the deck of the boat with my back against the wheelhouse) at my boyfriend and his brother there on the stern seats, sitting with their legs sprawled in that comfortable position of physical abandon, and realized that neither of them wore underwear......but a quick application of sunglasses did away with any further discomfort and I stared unashamedly while playing pirate in my mind.

Yo ho! It's always 5 o'clock somewhere if yer on a boat!

Now, every time I see a guy wearing those big cargo shorts, I have to wonder - "does he or doesn't he?" My theory is if he's wearing Tevas, then there's nothing underneath but nature.

Yo ho, baby, yo ho indeed.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Write your own punchline

Today's headlines from Yahoo, which is a clear indication that we need more good headline writers.

For lack of body armor, troops die. Why the delay?
What, in the dying?

Marine Corps committed
And about time too. I told you those dudes were nuts!

Endless probe, secret result
This sounds uncomfortable. With the endless probing usually comes the chafing.....or maybe that's just me.

Cheeky fencer foiled in bid for team
Or: "saucy swashbucker's sussing of a set of swordsmen slides from sure to suspect"

U.S. Women's Skeleton Team Finishes Fifth
Breaking news - Their musculature came in last.

Clinton Strikes Deal for AIDS Drugs
Dude! Hilary's got the good stuff!

S. Korea Widens Stem Cell Probe
Y'all, the probe has to be SMALLER than the cell - maybe that's your problem.

Boston Scientific Retracts Extension
"watch as the giant company extends its pseudopod of avarice, surreptitiously stroking each rival and lulling them into a sense of safety; then gaze in amazement as the extension is retracted into the corporate body with the "secret results" of its "endless probe.""

Frist Weighs Ban on Lobbyist Gifts, Travel
Say, I think it weighs about a pound, what do YOU think, Bill?

Scientists: Donner Family Not Cannibals
At last! Vindication is ours! Pass the tongue.

Singer Keys Expanding Into Movie, TV
Ouch, that's gotta hurt.

It's tough to write a good headline, I'm sure. But still, don't you think that maybe people write these JUST for the joke?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The President's Fitness Exam (accent 3)

Do the school kids still have to do the "President's Fitness Exam" testing every year like I did as a kid?

Do young children still have to subject themselves to the humiliation of a group evaluation of their physical prowess, or, more pointedly, their lack thereof?

My history with the President's Fitness Award is a long and unhappy one. Most of you will not be surprised by that. Here is a little story about one year's discomfort.....


This takes place in my 7th grade year, a year of blossoming hips, burgeoning boobs, precipitous physical growth, and hormonal fluxes that could cause wine to turn to vinegar with their power. It was not my best year. It was, perhaps, a very bad year indeed for me, and not at all the best year to test my physical prowess. (as if any of them were really any good anyway)

But the President's call to fitness was not to be ignored! One MUST take the test to ascertain if one measures up to the standard of all fit young Americans, to put oneself on the sacrificial altar of fitness. All young men and women were led to the slaughter of their ego and pride, and only a few escaped completely unscathed.

Here's how I recall the experience:

First, let's do the bar hang. Stupid, idiotic bar hang. Here's how you're supposed to do it - using a step stool or boost from your teacher, grasp an overhead bar with an overhand grip (palms facing away from you). Remove the stool or assisstant, and then - HANG THERE! Simple, no? Hell NO! One needs 2 things to successfully complete the required 10 seconds of bar hang 1) triceps of steel, and 2) a BMI of about 2. I have neither, plus, I'm too big/tall for anyone to "boost" and therefore have to do a chin-up before bar-hanging, which pretty much uses up whatever strength I have in my quivering adolescent arms. I'm up and down in about 1 second, and never ever do any better.

(My bar-hanging skillz improved most brilliantly once I got to college.)

Then, the situps. OK - I've always had weirdly strong abdominal muscles, so no biggie there. Over and done with - high marks.

Next, the standing long jump, which, for me, involves the crouch-and-fling method. No need for actual effort here, just throw yourself at the far side in the hope that if your feet wind up your body's length away from the starting point you'll pass this subpart of hellish torture. Generally, this was a vain hope. To illustrate how very clever I am, and how in tune with my body I've always been, it takes my gym teacher pulling me aside to say "why don't you try pushing with your legs when you jump?" to finally switch on that particular bulb. And you know? Once I do that I sail 2 feet further than the crouch-and-fling method would allow, and actually PASS that bit of the PFE. I know! Miracle!

But THEN comes the worst, most sinister torture yet devised - the "600-yard run," which needs to be finished in some freakishly scant amount of time to achieve a "pass." Sinister, yes, because it always seems to occur after lunch on the days they serve pizza and baked beans in the cafeteria. Could this cause some trouble for some of us? You bet.

Imagine, if you will, a young girl, suited up in the most uncomfortable gym suit ever created, its double-knit polyester zipped-up-the-back misery accentuated by eau-de-sweat that never seems to wash out, waiting to start her "run" and becoming vaguely aware of a pressurized gut-rumbling that signals the beginnings of something very bad indeed. The pizza! The baked beans! Oh, the horror! The intestinal battle is begun, goaded forth by nervousness precipitated by the thought of the 600-yard run and the hormonal surges of PMS. With a distinctly knotted stomach and clenched sphincter the young girl tries to quash the insurrection bulding inside her body. But ho! What's this? She sees the starting flag lower, she must enter the breach in pursuit of physical fitness. She plods through the first 100 feet, the internal pressure building and a fine sheen of sweat beginnig to manifest itself on her upper lip and brow. As the young girl rounds the first turn, gamely pressing on in the heat with her gymsuit shorts slowly creeping up her thighs, her insides at last master her best mental efforts and a shamefully rhythmic "blap blap blap" of escaping gas, timed perfectly with each heavy footfall she makes, is heard emanating from her nether region.... "blap blap blap" and then yet more "blapping", it seems endless! For a hundred footfalls (she counts them) the girl toots her way around the first turn and straightaway, submitting to the powers of nature and an eventual gasping giggle fit of church-like proportion.......

All's I can say is - thank God there was nobody behind me.


As I'm sure will not surprise you, I did not pass the test. I never got the ribbon at the assembly, never got the certificate, and didn't really ever care, because I had kept my pride. There are more important things, when you're 13, than passing "The President's Fitness Exam."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Delurk, y'all!

Well, now here's a game you ALL can play. It's National DeLurking Week!

Got the idea from
Bev and thought it would be fun to see what the response here would be. All y'all have to do is sign the ol' comments thingie and tell me if you have a blog or journal or whatever, and if you don't, that's OK too, just tell me how you got here. I KNOW there are some folks who are "out there" (in the very best of ways, mind you) that don't ever ring in with comments. I'm sure this is a failing on my part by not providing comment-able material, and for that I apologize most sincerely.

Here's an idea to fix that problem! You can even provide suggestions as to future entries! That's right - this could be like the Burger King of blogs - have it YOUR way! Make the monkey dance! Dangle the carrot in from of the ol' pony!

Once I pick your topic, I'll even put in a linky thing to whoever suggested the entry. Fame, dear reader, could be yours (if you consider fame as being something related to linkage from an obscure bloglet tucked safely off in the corner where it can't really hurt anybody).

It's easy to comment, really. If you're on Blogspot just pop in your info using the "blogger" button, if you're a blogger/journaler/serious as a heart attaack writer NOT on Blogspot merely type in your name and URL by using the "other" button, and if you'd prefer to remain anaymous (and thereby forego the linkafication previously mentioned) then use the "anonymous" button and pretend you're someone completely different. There you go! Your name (or not) up in lights and your ideas catalogued for future use! Simple!

With my thanks, in advance, for your enthusiastic participation, I remain
Yours Truly,

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On the dance floor (accent 4)

It's been a while since I told a story here on "noaccentyet," and I feel it's time to rectify that slight to any of you who are grimly gnawing at the bones of what I've left here lately while you wait for meatier fare. I can see you now, salivating at the prospect of juicy tidbits of my life dropping from my plate of offerings, sniffing the air for what I might be cooking up.....

To sate your voracious appetite for all things Tiff, I offer this lusciously-seasoned (and true!) story - enjoy, and perhaps there will be a smidge of something for dessert.


It's Friday afternoon and I'm going to a frat party tonight. I know, I know, I'm not normally a frat-party-goer, but my roommate has invited me because she's a "little sister" of the frat and I'm between boyfriends and she says there are lots of cute guys there that I'd get along with.

So, whatever. If I don't go I'll be bored to tears, sitting here pathetically in the suite with only the concrete-block walls for company and whatever I can pull in on the tiny teevee in my room, and that's way too sad to contemplate, so off I plan to go.

First, the prep. I must take a nap. This is crucial, because we only plan to go out at about 11, and I need my beauty rest. This, in turn, means that I have to be home from Happy Hour by about 7 so I can pass out by 7:15 so I can wake up by 9 so I can shower and spend too much time trying to get my hair to spike just right and apply makeup and choose just the right outfit that says I'm friendly and hip but not cheap and I don't screw on the first date. It's harder than it seems, and takes the full 2 hours I've allotted.

Its time to go! We walk across campus to the off-campus frat house, and find the keg as first order of business. It's been about 3 hours since I've had any beer, so I'm pretty sobered up and ready for round 2.

And 3, and 6, and maybe 10.

My roommate finds her boyfriend; unfortunately, she finds him sucking face with another chick, and she gets in a huge fight with him and dumps me in the middle of this big ol' house full of people I don't know. I'm not sure if she's coming back or if I should just leave, but if I leave then who will she walk home with and on whose shoulder will she cry out her aggravation and sadness once the fight is over? It's happened before, I know how the cycle goes.

So, I stay. For just a little while, and maybe another beer, because it's there, and free, and nobody says "boo" about some chick they don't know pulling another beer out of their keg.

After a while I start to drunkenly wander around the packed house, listening to the twelfth playing of "Magic Carpet Ride" (the frat's theme song) at setting 11 on the speakers and watching the cute girls climb up onto the guys' shoulders and pounding the ceiling in time to the music. I do not know any guy on whose shoulders I can climb, and would feel stupid doing so anyhow, so continue my lurching around the house, looking for my friend to tell her I'm going home. Hell, it's nearly 1 in the morning and my hair is getting all beer-y and I'm hot and want to go back to sleep, but feel like I MUST tell her I'm going, even though she ditched me without so much as a moment's notice. I'm not going to be the rude one!

What's that, frat boy? Well, what the heck- sure, I'll have another beer. Thanks for asking! Wow, sure is hot in here....and spinny. I think I need to sit down for a minute or two. Maybe just close my eyes for a sec......

Now wait just a minute! How did I get HERE? Who's this guy I'm dancing with? And why am I kissing him? I've never MET him in my life! Where the heck AM I? What time is it? Hey, you know, he looks a lot like Rick Ocasek from the Cars (see photo)......OK that's fine. He says his name is Dave, and he likes me and would like to see me tomorrow.....OK, that's fine. He says I'm a really good dancer.......OK, that's fine too. Wow, it's hot in here, I think I need to go home.....the walls are moving and I'm not.....

OK Dave, thanks for walking me home. No, you can't come in to my room....yes, I KNOW she's still at the house and nobody else is in my room, but you can't come in. No, we just met. You know Dave, I actually feel like I might heave at any moment, so it's probably not a good idea for you to come in. What's that? You say I did that on the way here? Shoot, sorry about that. I guess I'd better not kiss you goodnight then. Oh, my phone number? You still want it? OK, here you go, it's...uh.....what is it? I'm sorry, I can't remember. You say you'll be here tomorrow night at around 8 and we'll go to Spanky's? OK, that's fine. See you then. Goodnight.

I manage to get the key into the front door lock with Dave's help and stagger into my suite, banging against the doors and creating a hell of a racket. I don't' even take off my clothes or makeup before making my way toward bed, but from some reason the DOOR to my room is locked and I can't get in! Godammit, freaking sonofabee! What the hell is wrong?

Oh, hi there suitemate. You say you heard me yelling out here? You say my roommate is in the room with her boyfriend and they're "making up"? They've been making up for a couple of HOURS now?

Oh.....OK....that's fine. I'll just sit right here on the couch in the middle of the suite and wait until they're done. Fine....and....dandy.........zzzzzzzzzzzz.


I went out with Dave about 3 times before realizing that looking like Ric Ocasek didn't make up for the fact that he wasn't a very good kisser, and that he was a freshman.


Sadly, this was not the last time I experienced a walking blackout.......there was, for example, that time on Reddish Knob that I thought I was a native american, and felt that the fire was calling me to dance. Yessir, there's a story there.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Proof of my utter nerd-hood

Is it only me that thinks that stuff like this is unbelievably fascinating?

(Really, how do people figure out this stuff?)

One must, if one were to take this particular journey, be very patient indeed, mustn't one? The chorusing of "are we there yet" by generations of offspring would grate on ones very last nerve if one wasn't equipped with some kind of hyper-sleep or deep-freeze apparatus. Or are those things generally thought of to be one and the same?

It's of no consequence, really, but feel free to provide an answer if you have one.

If you're interested in what might really happen in the last, oh, 1% of the journey, go here. Chilling. Or hot. You pick.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nobody updates on the Weekend

But here I am again, doing just that. It has to be done, because I'm over the top with glee about something. I'm so thrilled about this something that I had to transcribe it, just to prove to myself that it really exists.

The thing I'm so giddy about?

Winter in North Carolina.

My good googly-moogly y'all, it's going to be in the 60's here today! Turning cartwheels is an appropriate reaction to this bit of news, or if you can't cartwheel then perhaps one could indulge in a long walk with their dogs at a certain nearby state park, as I did yesterday afternoon, when the temps were not QUITE in the 60's, but close enough to make it feel like autumn in January.

You must understand something about me - I LOVE the fall. I love the "just right" temps, the crisp air, the slight chill, the clothes one gets to wear, the smell of woodsmoke, the whole shebang. Every year I get the notion that THIS fall is the one wherein I will finally be able to wear a turtleneck cable-knit sweater and mossy green corduroys with some sort of suede earth-mother-y shoes and go on a walk down a leaf-strewn road in the golden afternoon light, smelling the fallen leaves and letting the brisk breeze blow through my hair, which coincidentally is perfect and frames my glowing face "just so." I have the mental image, and yet, every year that I lived in New England, the fall was too short to work in all these things together into one glorious memory-inspiring moment of perfection.

(I tend to do a lot of imaginary interior decorating of my life. I choose to regard this as a charming quirk).

Imagine my joy, then, when yesterday I made the decision to go take the dogs on a very long walk at a local state park, and ALL THE REQUIREMENTS for the perfect fall day were in place.

"Just-right" temps? Check - in the mid 50's.

Golden sun? Check, just about to set - maybe an hour of good light left.

Woodsmoke smell? Gloriously, check. Someone was looking out for me.

Turtleneck cable-knit sweater? OK, not check, but that's only because I still can't wear anything that touches my neck. (my theory - I was choked to death in a former life. Charming, non?)

Also, no corduroys - I can't risk setting my thighs on fire with the constant friction that would be created.

BUT - great shoes, superior hair, light breeze, leaves, lovely large lake to reflect the setting sun, check, check, check check, and check.

Added bonus feature - nobody else around. And I mean nobody. Not in all 200 hundred or so acres. Apparently nobody else gets the notion to scenically walk their dogs at 4 o'clock on a chilly Saturday afternoon in January in North Carolina, even IF the conditions are just right.

Lawzy, did we have a good time. The dogs got to sniff until theirs sniffers were sore, I got to walk in (or near) the woods until the waning light said "get thee back to thine car" (because the sun, he is a King James version kind of guy), and all was right with the world.

Until, of course, I discovered that it's supposed to be even NICER today.

That, my friends, rocks hard!

Note to New England: honey, you can keep the cold and ice and snow and freezing mittens and runny noses and driveway shoveling and dark afternoons - I'm a SOUTHERN girl now and am never ever looking back. Thanks for the memories - maybe I'll come back in July or so to see how you're doing. Until then, it's me and the tall, tall pines, baby.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Can anyone say "Death Star"?


Just TELL me the crater at the top is where Luke is supposed to fly the X-wing.

If you want to know where this came from,
check it out.

Warms my geeky wondering heart right to the very core.

Complications (job-related, now)

It will not come as a surprise to some of y'all that I make my living as a writer. In fact, that's how I MET some of you (Hi PRV, Hi LJS!).

To some others of you, however, it might be a BIG shock. Let me assuage your fears/envy/flabbergastedness by saying that the term "writer" here is used verrrry loosely, because what I really AM is a "medical writer."

Ooooo, I can feel your jealousy wafting over me right now, and you know? it smells like popcorn.


Anyhow, for those of y'all who don't know what a "medical writer" does all day long, here's the synopsis - we sit on our asses on front of a computer for 8+ and try to make sense out of all kinds of disparate bits of information about medical stuff (investigational products, mostly, meant to cure disease or help symptoms or produce long-lasting erections), hoping against hope that SOMEWHERE in there we can separate the chaff from the wheat and bake ourselves a tasty little story about clinical development. I know, it's a thrill a minute.

Then, once we've poured heart and soul into the 100-page product that we've managed to craft from those thousands of pieces of info/wheat (still with the metaphor!), we send our babies off to the dreaded "review," and hope that some shred of our dignity will remain intact after the slaughter is over.

Because, y'all, we're writers, sensitive souls who take it PERSONALLY when someone doesn't like what we've done. We agonize and wordsmith and order and reorder and summarize and re-write until our fingers are numb (or hands, for those of us with carpal tunnel from years of keyboard abuse), and those daggone REVIEWERS have to step all over our efforts with their smarty-pantedness, those know-it-alls with their advanced degrees and areas of speciality and big ol' diplomas from those daggone medical schools on their walls. Hrmph! They should LIKE what we writers write, really they should, and be thankful THEY didn't have to do it!

But, sadly, they very infrequently do like what we write, and send back documents fairly dripping with comments, directing us to "change this" or "update that" or, my personal favorites, "tell more of a story here" and ""yes."

What kind of a comment is "YES," for Pete's sake?

Aggravation and disheartening as it might be, we, the beleaguered medical writers, must then gather up all the shards of our darlin' documents that are left and start re-integrating them into some thing better, stronger, and faster (cue the 6 million dollar man theme song, won't you please?). We talk to subject matter experts, and re-dig though thousand page data tables, and negotiate wording with important people, being careful not to step on any egos or leave anyone out, and re-weave the thing back together.

.........and then we send it to QUALITY CONTROL.

(sudden shrieking in the background is heard, as though someone's heart was being ripped out through their sternum)

I cannot even tell you of the horrors of the QC, except to say that very often it's far too painful to cogitate on for long. The people who do QC for a living are, at their very core, evil. Their job is to look for mistakes, and they exhibit a special glee, reflected in THEIR comments, when they can't verify something (a kitten dies every time this happens) or when the source doesn't match the text (puppies next), or when you forget and put 2 SPACES after a period or some godawful error against the very fabric of space and time (churches spontaneously ignite). They're regular Scrooges, those QC people, pinching every last drop of worth from their AMA style manuals and quoting guidances like Bible verses.

It's horrible, I tell you, and can make the strongest writer dread coming into work if the QC package is due back that day.

But wait, the fun's not over yet! Not only do we get to weep over the QC findings, we actually get to INCORPORATE all their comments, and maybe even add in a second round of review, and possibly, if our luck is truly and completely shitty, have a whole REVIEW MEETING! Really! It's fun! You should try it! 8 hours of experts picking over your dear document like buzzards at a 3-day old corpse; no morsel goes unnoticed, no bone is too dry to suck on. Why, I've known arguments about one paragraph's worth of content to rage for an HOUR! Jolly good fun!

By the time you're ready to send the flipping thing to be approved, it's no longer your darling. It's become the stone around your neck that seems to grow heavier every day, especially because all those people who freaking lollygagged their way through their review are now FROTHING AT THE MOUTH for you to have THEIR document DONE so they can GET ON WITH THEIR IMPORTANT WORK!

Which finds many a medical writer clacking away at their computer late into the evening or well into the morning or throughout the weekend, staring down a double-barreled deadline, because when the big dogs say "jump" all you can do is ask" how high?"

There you go - life as a medical writer. Whaddaya think of THEM apples?

Wait, the popcorn smell is gone. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Subtle Shades of Meaning (Accent 3)

What is it about conversation I don't get?

Why is it that I must constantly be on the alert for shades of meaning that are perhaps unintended, perhaps made in error, perhaps witlessly interjected into an otherwise banal tete-a-tete?

Why can't I just TALK to people and let it go at that, without self-analyzing every single slip of tongue, or malapropism committed, or entendre missed, either by myself or my fellows?

Why cannot I be more confident in what I say, and allow myself the occasional slip or awkward pause without sinking into a morass of self-doubt?

I'll tell you why - because I've got a BIG MOUTH, that's why, and it's gotten me in trouble more than once in my life.

6th grade - I was having a difficult time with a girl who had seemingly cheated on the "softball toss" in PE, a girl who had claimed a throw of some 15 feet more that I had thrown, which up until that time was by FAR the farthest that anyone else had thrown and of which I was rather proud (110 feet, thanks for asking). I got whipped into an outraged pissed-off storm of an adolescent girl at this cheat, and called the malfeasor an intellectual and racial epithet that to this day makes me cringe with embarrassment. I leave it up to your imagination what that might be......

I knew I had gone too far when her girlfriends went "ooo-ooo" under their breaths as the icy fire of hate leaped to her eyes, a fire that blazed a path to me as she strode menacingly across the few yards of turf that separated us, stopping just short of kissing distance to breathe the following never-to-be-forgot words in my face:

"What the fuck you say to me, honky?"

My knees turned to ice, my bowels to water, and my face to fire as I stammered out a gutsy:

"You cheated, you didn't even THROW that ball, and I'm going to tell Miss X you didn't."

This was my first mistake, and only one I ever needed to make, as far as she was concerned.

For 3 long years it was the ONLY thing I ever needed to do to this girl to make her the freaking bane of my middle-class white girl existence.

In gym (the only class we ever had together, thank God), she would stand in front of me, blocking my shots or keeping me from participating or trying to knock me over; always an arm's reach away, a looming presence of indignant power.

She glowered at me in sex ed, or fumed at me in volleyball, or traded teams in basketball so she could wipe her sweaty body on me as we were driving to the basket.

She cursed at me if I came too close, and promised in whispers of the hurt she could cause me if I wronged her again.

She fucking scared me to death.

She hated me, and, what's more, I hated her because she hated me, with a passion so white with fury and black with anger that neither of us was willing to let it go.

All because I said something very very ill-advised and extraordinarily hurtful, and was too proud to even TRY to find a way to take it all back.

Needless to say, I was very glad when I didn't have to take gym anymore, and quickly traded up to something safe, like another band class.

Since that time I have told secrets and told lies and fabricated tremendous stories to cover my already-exposed ass, and to what end? To be found out or called out or uncovered in the end; andend which is always highly unsatisfactory to me. What's the use?

I learned long ago to stop lying as a matter of course, to stop pretending I'd done things or been places I haven't, to cease with the self-aggrandizing penchant that grips my very being in order to make a story more interesting or amusing. Yes, the story might indeed be compelling, but if I can't in fact PROVE I was in Prague in 1988 and smoked weed with Vaclav Havel or that I took a mudbath with the pygmies of Papua New Guinea while on a trip with the youth group from the Mormon church I was inlfiltrating as a covert operative for the Lutheran Brethren, then what's the use? Someone is bound to find out, and parse me out for the fool that I am.

Which is why here, dear fellows, you get the truth.

At least as I perceive it to be.

You've been warned.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

14 years ago (accent 5)

14 years ago at Christmas my Mom and Dad came to visit us in New England. They arrived on a cold day and left on a colder one.

It's an 8-hour drive between where they lived and where we were, and they made the trip willingly, I suppose, to see their daughter and her husband, who were too poor or obstinate or confused to make the trip. I forget now which ailment precluded our trip South to see them, but I imagine now that it was a combination of several factors, one of which was that my new-ish husband felt like we ALWAYS traveled to see them and now it was someone else's turn to come see us.

At the time he was trying to cut what he believed were my "apron strings," to little end, because they're still there, tied firmly around my wait and leading straight to my past. I'm proud of them, I think they're pretty, and they suit me remarkably well. Besides, I'm a people-pleaser, and will go to great lengths to be sure everybody is happy, and what's a little trip down the road to see family anyway?

Truth be told, I probably also didn't have much vacation at the time, and likely would have used up all that time just to go south to see people I already knew in a place I was already familiar with. We wanted to save up for something "special."

Whatever the cause, and whatever details my memory has fogged over with the passage of time, the end remains the same - my folks came to see us, in the burgundy Buick my Dad had bought my Mom for Christmas either that year or the year before.

At that time we were renting a house with 3 bedrooms, a nice kitchen, and a big living room with a huge picture window. There were old chicken sheds out back, long ones that were nonfunctional and housed dusty bits of farm equipment and a smelting room that some friend of our landlord's family still used. We were pretty comfortable there; my husband had his small office, we had a nice bedroom for us, and we even had a guest room for anyone who wanted to stay with us. I had outfitted it with 2 twin beds and matching linens, and felt pretty proud to have all that space to call my own. Who cared if the kitchen floor was peeling or that the water pressure was so weak that taking a shower was akin to standing in the middle of a spitting contest between 2 six-year-olds? It was ours, we could afford it, and it was the biggest place I'd ever called my own.

Mom and Dad, of course, stayed in the guest room. On the morning of their departure I walked past their room on the way from the shower, and saw them lying side-by-side on his bed, snuggling and talking softly. They saw me and smiled and waved at me; their comfort in one another perfectly plain and wonderful. I felt like a kid again, trying hard not to believe that my parents really like each other "that way," but was old enough now to enjoy knowing that they did.

I made them turkey sandwiches for the road the way my family likes them, with turkey AND stuffing AND cranberry sauce on it, topped with mayo. It's a happy sandwich, full of the tastes of the holiday, and bound to get you going where you need to be on a full stomach. Mom and Dad took their showers, had a little breakfast (I think I cooked eggs), and prepared to take their leave.

Dad pulled the Buick up to the back to load the car. I said goodbye to them both, my husband shook hands with my Dad and hugged my Mom, and then, just before they walked out the door, I hugged my Dad really hard, pressing up against his leather jacket and telling him I loved him. He told me he loved me too, and as they drove away I saw both their hands out the car windows, waving us out of sight.

He was dead by midnight.


My Mom called us a 4 a.m. The first call went unanswered, the second, more insistent one I picked up. I heard my Mom's voice saying abruptly:

"Dad is dead."

I replied -"Grandpa?" (because he was sick)

And she replied, with anguish in her voice

"No, my HUSBAND!!!"

My world stopped. Tears sprang to my eyes. I pushed my husband away when he asked what was wrong. It wasn't possible.

But it was. He was dead. He had died not but about 15 feet from my mother, in the middle of the night, of an apparent heart attack that he thought was just a day-long case of indigestion. Sure, he'd had an acid stomach on the way home, but a couple of Tums cured that almost right away. And yeah, the heartburn had come back later that evening, but a couple more Tums fixed that right up.

But when your heart stops, Tums don't work. When it stops so suddenly that you can't cry out for your wife of 35 years who's asleep in bed right outside the bathroom door, you don't have time for Tums or prayer or much of anything, I guess.


My mother had tried to give him CPR, but she said she knew as soon as she saw him that he was dead. The paramedics didn't even try.

He was gone. The end.

On my mother's birthday.


10 days later we laid him to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, with caisson and horse and 21 guns and taps, and a pain in our hearts that hasn't really ever gone away. Some days it catches me by surprise and nearly takes my breath away.

He never was famous, he probably won't be written into history, he never was rich, but he was my Dad. And for that I'm truly thankful.

I love you, Dad, and miss you more than I ever thought possible.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Long Drives and Headaches

So, in the past week I've been

To Washington DC on the 22nd
Back to NC the 23rd
All over my county on the 31st
To DC on the 1st
Back to NC today

In between there were a couple of holidays .....

Oh yes, Christmas. That was, erm, a week ago now and I can't remember it anymore, except to say that there's still an enormous pile of pine needles in the living room that choked the vacuum as we were cleaning up before the second trip north and was left on the floor looking all forlorn and disappointed. The vacuum, not the pine needle pile. I'm sure the dogsitter must think I'm "off me nut" to leave the house that way, but we simply ran out of time to get everything done before leaving.

And New Year's eve. Which rocked, because we found out there was a Monty Python's Flying Circus marathon on and had to watch (with the kids, natch), and consequently didn't have to watch more than about 3 seconds of some random ball-dropping to know it was 2006. I didn't realize the folks in the state capitol put on a little bit more pastoral celebration, with a "giant acorn drop" at the correct hour and minute......how very quaint!

But right now that's all that my brain can conjure up as something along the lines of happy memory-ville, because I've had FAR too much driving, much too little sleep, and have developed one of those throbbing tension headaches that alMOST goes away, but then comes pounding back just as you think you're rid of it, and with the kiddies gone for a couple of weeks I'm going to immerse myself in the sheets and not MOVE until tomorrow morning.

Yes, it's only 8:30, but 10 days sharing a double bed with someone is not fun, no matter how much you might love them, and its even LESS fun if they're a dreamworld judo master.

Here's to wondrous things occurring in ought six, y'all!