Thursday, April 30, 2009
ps. for those who might take me seriously and believe I expect Apes to take responsibility for my being a disaster, I do.
I mean, I don't.
It's just way easier to blame her than consider I have a flip flop matching issue.
Perhaps I'm just running from my problems, but at least you know I'm not running fast.
Not while wearing two left shoes...
Apes is a great sport and I'm gonna be in big trouble one day if she ever decides to start blogging...
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I hate (read I LOVE) you.
He really appreciated all of your comments and I'm quite certain I'm getting a Tiffany's bracelet out of all of it.
At least that's what I asked for.
I'm sending the catalog with dog-eared pages just to make sure he gets it right.
Tam, one of my blogging pals, read yesterday's post and sent me an email.
Her sister-in-law is also serving overseas and involved in an AMAZING volunteer effort...in addition to serving our country.
She asked I share an email from Michelle and a link to the work she's doing.
I read the email, visited her website, wiped my tears and thanked God for Michelle.
We NEED more Michelles in this world.
Here's her email:
As many of you know, I’ve been volunteering at an all-female clinic in Afghanistan. For those who don't know, here is a little background on the clinic. The Women's Clinic in Paktika began when 3 female soldiers (myself included) became concerned about the plight of the local women re: medical care. In the remote region of Afghanistan, where the clinic is located, there was only one local Afghan female to treat all the women in the province. We began to volunteer at the clinic 3 days a week and work for a few hours delivering free medical care.
This effort is not funded by the military and we do it in our spare time. We get all of our medical supplies as well as medicines and humanitarian aid (shoes, clothes, etc) from donations. We rely solely on these donations to keep the clinic up and running. Everything we get goes directly to the patients. With more than 70% of the population living in poverty, they couldn't afford medical treatment even if they desperately needed it.
Here are some statistics about the plight of women and children in Afghanistan:
* 40% of children under 3 are severely underweight
* 54% of children under 5 are stunted
* Life expectancy at birth is only 44
* Only 14% of the women seek a skilled attendant when delivering a child
* Afghanistan has the 3rd highest infant mortality and maternal mortality rate in the world
So how can you help? We are asking for medical supplies, shoes/ clothes, or monetary donations so we can purchase the items we need.
You can visit my website for more information and a list of items that are needed:
Most of the items can be purchased at your local Wal-Mart and some you might even have laying around your house. Items such as vitamins and baby formula (both Adult and Children) can mean the difference between life and death in this area of the world, where many of the problems faced are due to vitamin deficiencies.
Thank you in advance for your support,
Sgt. Michelle Johnson
THANK YOU, Sgt. Johnson, for your service and your heart.
We all have extra clothing lying around, right? I mean, I have several pairs of shorts I've held on to for YEARS, determined I'd be a size 6 again.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say those can go.
So can the numerous bottles of vitamins I've bought and never opened.
If you can't send goods or make a donation, at least visit Sgt. Johnson's website regularly and leave her comments.
Let her know we see her, her work, and appreciate what she's doing over there.
Suddenly, I feel very lazy re: my contribution to the world.
I'm going to work on that.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
To my friend Mike, who is currently serving his second term in Iraq. Maybe it's his 3rd term in Iraq.
I can't remember.
Mike and I went to high school together in Florida. We didn't know each other back then, but several years ago, during his first trip over to the land of sand, he found me on MySpace.
One of his first messages to me read:
So, I tell people I know you from high school. And by "know you," I mean I boned you A LOT.
Instant love for Mike, despite the fact he was proving to be a pathological liar.
I wrote back:
"Well, that's fine, but you should also tell people you were so BAD in the sack that you turned me gay..."
He came back with a pithy response, but if I posted it, you'd think he's funnier than I am and you know I can't have that.
Mike and I began writing each other regularly. In no time, he became my brother.
He told me about his beautiful wife Mindy and his amazing children.
I questioned if he should be allowed to reproduce.
I'm certain he told me to shut my face.
He shared stories about his time in Iraq, both breaking my heart and filling it with pride.
I am proud of Mike. Of his service.
He has a new baby, Caroline, he hasn't seen since she was born. Baby milestones are delivered via photos or letters, not witnessed in person.
He lays his head down each night, praying for one more day of safety.
He has three kids and a wife. He needs them as much as they need him.
I know the last time you received a letter from me, it was hand written and in the bottom of a box filled with (melted) candy, tweezers (you asked for 'em), books, magazines and that awesome picture I Photoshopped of you with Hugh Hefner and all us hometown girls you know and love.
And glitter. There was lots of glitter.
I know the glitter made you look like a princess in front of all your service buddies, but quite honestly, that was totally my intent.
Heather 1. Mike 0.
You can't beat me, son. No way. I don't care if you can fly a 'copter and carry a gun at the same time.
Mike, I pray for you every day.
My heart skips a beat when you don't have any Facebook activity for several days.
You are the funniest person I know. You have to come home so we can start writing together.
We're gonna do that. Write.
We're gonna get super famous and rent a warehouse space and fill it up with toys.
We're gonna hire cool people who are funny, but not as funny as we are.
You are so close to a homecoming, the count down has begun.
I know Mindy and the kids are anxiously awaiting your return.
So am I, Mike.
I will rest easier when I know you are back in the fold of family and friends.
When you can rest your head at night and feel safe.
I owe you the greatest, biggest bear hug when you get home.
But if you tell people that hug = sex, I'll own you.
Don't try me.
All my love, Big Love,
ps. For those of you curious about the picture I Photoshopped for Mike, here it is. I took a photo of Hugh Hefner and his ladies and added Mike and a few of HIS ladies. Sent it to him during his last Iraq term.
Of course, Mike has this photo in a frame...
Monday, April 27, 2009
For the past several days, I've had trouble coming up with ANYTHING to blog about.
April hasn't massacred any phrases, or done anything remotely embarrassing that I could make light of.
All of my neighbors have been on their best behavior.
I haven't hidden any fast food bags, only to have them discovered by April because one of my bastard dogs unearthed them from the bottom of the trash bin.
No lightening zapped a tree, causing it to fall smack down the middle of my street.
I haven't been to the gym, so I don't have any amusing tales (or broken limbs) resulting from my attempts to ZUMBA.
I haven't been to a concert and they often lead to at least one deep-thought, a-ha post.
I've racked my brain and it's quite possible I've already blogged every conceivable family memory stored in my noggin.
I have a problem.
I've resorted to writing about not having anything to write about.
Kill me now.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Clean your shit up (followed by a lecture re: how I need to learn NOW how to pick up after myself so when we do have children, we won't be living in a pigsty. I had to look closely to make sure it was April and not my mother talking to me).
Throw away the deodorant I bought but won't use (This included me having to explain why I bought TWO bottles of it (it was a double pack) and why BOTH were open and used. According to April, I should only use ONE bottle at a time, that way, the other bottle could be saved for guests. I argued our guests would probably agree with me that the deodorant didn't work well and fault us for their stinky pits).
Put away our winter clothes and hang up our summer threads (Kill me now. This involves hangar coordination on April's part and takes a solid three days to accomplish. I break out into hives just thinking about it.)
Take both cars to a do-it-yourself wash and clean them up because "they are filthy." (Saturday? What Saturday? I think there are labor laws on the books somewhere. In fact, I'm sure of it).
I believe the list has a third page, but I became a selective mute about thirty minutes ago and am holed up under my office desk, typing this blog.
She can't see me. She can't see me.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Judy Blume sent me an email about the Literary Hero post I submitted to her website. She told me she loved the bit about my reading her book so much the pages fell out of the binding and offered to send me an autographed copy of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret.
No need to wonder how I reacted. I'll tell you.
I nearly peed my pants.
My hands shook as I wrote her back, doing my best not to sound like a 34 year old stalker.
Knowing Judy Blume read ANYTHING I wrote felt surreal.
Judy Blume. THE Judy Blume.
The fact Judy Blume, THE Judy Blume, took time to respond made me love her more.
Who knew that was even possible?
I'll keep that email forever.
The autographed book arrived yesterday and I can't stop staring at it.
I think I need to put this book under glass.
Shrink wrap it.
Plate it in gold.
Judy Blume, I heart you.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The feeling you get when you know your life is changing.
Even if it's changing for the better.
The feeling reminds me of the time I walked across a wooden and rope bridge, a thousand feet high, while hiking the Colorado mountains.
I knew, in my head, the bridge was safe to cross and routinely checked for damage.
Knowing that didn't stop me from grasping the rope rail so tightly my knuckles turned white.
It didn't keep my heart from pounding so loudly it nearly echoed as I instructed myself put one shaky foot in front of the other.
That feeling, the adrenaline rush comprised of fear and excitement, is similar to what I feel every time my life moves forward a blip.
I know it's probably "safe", the changes I'm making, but it doesn't keep me from feeling the butterflies.
Each shaky step I take toward the next phase in my life, personally and professionally, makes me feel I'm on the edge of something spectacular, terrifying and unknown.
I grasp a little tighter. My heart beats a little faster.
My current life blip is going to be different though.
This time, as I hold on for dear life and hear my heart thudding in my chest, I'm going to embrace it.
Angle my head high instead of zeroing in on my shaky feet.
This time I'm going to notice the incredible view that surrounds me as I embark on my "what's next."
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Funny or Die's response:
And then there's this take....
The past 48 hours have been a whirlwind, but one I consider a gift, all tied up with a shiny red bow.
Several months ago, Solo wrote a blog post about a few film projects she was mulling over. I commented about how I regretted never having gone to film school given my love of writing, films/documentaries.
She immediately wrote back with suggestions about how I could pick up some experience without going to film school. She encouraged me to pursue my dreams just as she was chasing hers.
Not long after our initial email exchange, I received a note from Solo.
An offer so amazing to me, I hardly knew how to respond.
She was offering to hire me, someone she knew had NO experience, just so I could GET some experience. She wanted to give me the opportunity to see if I'd enjoy the industry as much as I thought I would.
It didn't matter I'd never filmed anything other than family gatherings.
She didn't mind the time it took to explain every solitary detail to me as she reviewed my Crew Deal and other "let's get started" paperwork.
Solo researched and made all my travel arrangements.
She sent me her expensive camera, trusting I'd not run off with it and the full paycheck she'd enclosed.
All of this from a person who had NEVER met me before.
But from a person it feels like I've known forever.
Solo said something in one of her emails that really made an impact on me. When I asked her why she would take this risk and hire someone she didn't know, she said:
"I really feel like it's my duty to help the people coming behind me. I am in a position to open a door for you. Why wouldn't I?"
I continue to be amazed at Solo's heart, commitment to her craft and willingness to do anything to help anyone.
Lots of lessons to be learned from her.
It would take days to sum up all I experienced, soaked up and felt.
I learned this is definitely what I was born to do.
I learned to film more versus less in order to have editing options.
I learned we each have doors we can open for others and it's our duty to turn that knob and extend our hand.
Thank you Solo!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Apparently the toilet sits directly over the loosest part of the train which means you get thrown around like a de-pantsed rag doll in an airplane-sized bathroom.
I think I have bruises from trying to prevent my lady parts from coming into contact with the sink and ceiling.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
"Hey, I've never ridden Amtrak before and I have a ticket to New Orleans. What's the scoop?"
Mr. Pudge gave his best attempt at a flirty smile and said "So you aren't aware of the strip search policy?"
My steele stare said what I didn't need to.
Let's just say he's busting his butt to make me happy right now. I'm guessing he's worried about job security...
I'm actually having a blast. I love me an adventure!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Friday, April 17, 2009
Michael fought for his gay brother, an Iowan, and celebrated in the state's recent same-sex marriage victory. His Wall Street Journal article moved me to tears.
Today, another straight man took a stand in support of equality.
He too should be applauded, because while there are Republicans unopposed to gay and lesbian couples receiving equal rights, few vocalize it and risk being ostracized.
This article appeared in today's Washington Post:
Senior GOP Consultant Backs Gay Marriage
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Steve Schmidt, a top adviser to Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, today laid out the case for gay marriage, warning that the GOP will continue to lose young voters and the Northeast as long the party opposes it.
At a meeting in Washington of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights GOP group, Schmidt dismissed conservative arguments that allowing gay marriage would weaken the institution, as well as objections from religious conservatives, warning that they could turn the Republican Party into a "sectarian" party.
"For the party to be seen as an antigay, that is injurious to its candidates in places like California and Washington and New York," Schmidt said.
He called heterosexual marriage "a tradition,"not a "creed."
"It is not how we define ourselves as Americans," Schmidt, who first declared his support for gay marriage in March, said.
His support of gay marriage not only puts Schmidt to the left of the McCain, who has said he believes that marriage should be between a man and woman, but President Obama, who took the same stance during his presidential campaign.
Despite a flurry of states looking to legalize gay marriage, particularly in the Northeast, Schmidt's view remains in the distinct minority within his party, although McCain's daughter 24-year-old Meghan McCain also recently declared her support for gay marriage. A spokeswoman for Sen. McCain declined to comment on Schmidt's remarks.
Many major GOP party figures do not even favor civil unions, which Obama and most Democrats support.
Schmidt said his sister, who is a lesbian, motivated him to take his stance on gay marriage, which Schmidt said McCain was aware of during the presidential race.
Taking a new position on gay marriage could be critical to Republicans expanding their reach, Schmidt said, though he acknowledged he was unlikely to find many from his party rallying behind the cause.
"Social attitudes are changing very quickly on this issue, and I think there is a momentum behind the idea that same-sex couples ought to be respected," he said. But, he added, "I don't believe that in any short amount of time the majority of Republicans are going to support same sex marriage."
Steve, thank you.
For believing what I share with April is worth recognizing.
For standing up for my friends, Heather and Chelsea, who got married in California only to be told it "didn't count."
For trying to stop the madness so other 11-year old boys like Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover don't hang themselves because other kids called them GAY.
My hope is gay and straight bloggers alike take the time to thank you and let you know we're aware you're out there campaigning for equality.
Thank you. I wish we could clone you.
The other option was to ask advice about why the heels of my feet are cracking and that would have required photo documentation.
Nuthin' you want to see. TRUST.
So...survey it is. Fasten your seat belts.
1. My ex...broke my heart when, after almost a year, she told me she never considered us to be "dating." In my defense, the endless phone calls, 24/7 togetherness and sleeping together obviously confused me. It did, however, explain why she couldn't bring herself to say the L-O-V-E word. I can be a little slow when my heart and head are at war. She was my first real love and it was one of the most painful times in my life - but slowly I came to appreciate her honesty and I learned a valuable lesson. You can't make someone feel what they don't. PERIOD. No matter how hard you try, how much of yourself you give. I also figured out what I needed from a partner. I found each of those "must have" qualities in April. My ex may not have been the right person for me (nor I for her), but she has wonderful qualities, is a very giving person and I wish her nothing but the best in life and love. I hope she finds (or has found) her soul mate. I know I've found mine.
2. Maybe I should...not eat so many Sixlets. The inside of my stomach has got to be sugar-toxic. Damn Walmart for stocking, selling and reducing the price of these most delicious chocolate candies.
3. I love...Aponex, kissing my dogs on the teeth, hearing April say she loves me every day.
4. People would say that I'm ... LOUD. Seriously, I talk really, really loud. My friends from Whirlpool and Habitat will tell you. Whenever I'm on a job, they know exactly where I am based on if they can hear me or not. Scout's honor.
5. I don't understand why ...Carmen Electra was featured on Dancing with the Stars. I mean, I know she used to dance and sing while employed at a Paramount theme park back in the day, but that hardly seems to qualify her for the show. Hell, *I'm* qualified if the bar is set so low. I was a dancerette in high school...
6. When I wake up in the morning...I finish what's left of the Diet Coke I started the night before.
7. I lost my...respect for anyone spreading misinformation in an attempt to incite fear (National Organization for Marriage - I'm talking about you)
8. Life is full of... opportunities to really make a difference. Lend a hand. Spare a dollar. Save a stray.
9. My past... is tsap spelled backwards.
10. I get annoyed by...You don't want me to open this can o' worms. You don't have time and I'd simply come across as inflexible and angry.
11. Parties are ...one of my favorite things to attend as long as I'm not on clean up duty.
12. I wish life was not ...a nightmare for so many children. Speaking of...one of my favorite writers is doing her part to fight evil and if you live in Atlanta, you can help! Hollis Gillespie is hosting: An Evening of Impropriety to Fight Child Trafficking in Georgia. The event will be held at The Punchline on Wednesday, May 6th. Tickets are $30 and 100% goes directly to the charity fighting the trafficking. DO IT. Hollis will crack you up and where there's a Hollis, there's a moon pie...
Me and Hollis at a book signing in Charlotte:
13. Dogs are ...truly the only creatures capable of unconditional love. I'm convinced of it.
14. Cats are... excellent at demanding unconditional love.
15. Tomorrow is ...is another opportunity for me to leave my mark. April is hoping I leave it on our front lawn. Using the mower.
16. I have a low tolerance for ...dull tweezers.
17. If I had a million dollars ...I'd go to film school, donate to all my favorite charities and write, write, write (in an Italian villa, of course).
18. I'm totally terrified ...of two things. One) living life without Apes 2) never realizing my dream of becoming a successful, published author.
19. My car is ...toying with me. Stupid check engine light. My car is in cahoots with the mechanic. I'm no fool.
20. My life is ... mine to live.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
If you've figured me out, you know random updates are what I do when I can't think of a thing to write.
I've spent the last half hour swirling around in my office chair, reading through a book of prompts, flipping through my high school year book and surfing the web for inspiration.
So, Random Update it is...
I just placed my order for Dr. Bonner's peppermint liquid soap.
Only the best soap on the planet. I'm serious. Your body TINGLES from head to toe (assuming you wash yourself from head to toe...).
A friend of ours keeps this stuff at her river house and April and I love it so much we finally decided to order it.
They have other fragrances, but I can only vouch for the Peppermint.
Lemme know if you try it!
(this isn't a pay-per-blog post. I don't get paid mad money if you click on the link and/or order. Truth be told, I don't ever see myself doing one of those kinds of posts, but if I do, I'll always be upfront about it).
Moving on to other bits of randomness...
On Saturday, I'm heading out of town to work on a project I can't disclose the details of, but one I'm VERY excited about and will spill the beans on as soon as I'm able! I know it's not entirely fair, playing hide-and-go-seek with the details, but I'm fairly certain I signed a piece of paper warning if I broke confidentiality the following things would happen:
A) I'd never be able to drink Diet Coke again
B) I'd have to wear jeans with elastic waist bands until I die
C) I'd have to spend a day with Ramona from The Real Housewives of New York
You see why my hands are tied...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I am about to turn all sentimental sappy in this here blog post.
If you feel like throwing up after reading it, you have no one to blame but yourself.
You've been warned.
Early this morning, Apes took off to spend some quality time with her family in the hills of Tennessee. All three dogs are with her because I am traveling myself this weekend - which explains why I'm not with her.
Never, in four years, have I been home alone without her AND the dogs.
The moment she pulled away, I felt my stomach knot.
I quickly prayed for God to watch over our little green Jeep.
"Lord, my entire family is in that car. Please get them to Tennessee safely."
After she rounded the corner, I squared my shoulders and walked up our driveway.
I pushed open our fire-red door and silence smacked me in the face.
No bushy tailed dogs circled my feet, creating chaos and mass confusion.
No perky voice hollered: "Hey baby! I'm upstairs! I love you!"
Crickets. So quiet I heard crickets.
I love our house, but without her and the dogs, it's darker.
I flipped on lights. Lit candles. Attempted to infuse warmth.
From the stereo, Mel Torme's soulful jazz filled my empty thought bubbles.
I left April's work bag on the chair. Too much of her is already out of sight.
I'm all about independence and alone time.
That being said...
It's nice to be reminded how much you actually WANT to be with someone.
I'm okay on my own.
I'm better with Apes.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My literary hero is Judy Blume.
Don't get me wrong, I've read the Greats and will concede they could write their faces off.
But Judy, Judy is the first writer I ever read that GOT ME.
The woman put a microscope on my preteen life. Then she wrote a book.
Are You There God? It's Me Margaret.
From the second I flipped the first page, I felt a kinship with Margaret.
She was a figment of my imagination, but so real to me, I could pretend she was in my closet doing exercises to increase her bust size.
She was awkward, waging a war against her hormones and desperate to fit in.
Her struggles validated mine. Made me feel normal when I felt anything but.
I read the book so many times the binding finally gave and pages fluttered to my floor.
Painstakingly, I put the book back in order, used a hole puncher and placed the pages in a faded blue binder.
I slept with that binder under my bed, just an arm's reach away if I needed someone to understand me.
It's where I escaped to find unconditional acceptance.
Where I longed to be when I felt my feelings were dismissed.
Whenever I was in the throes of an adolescent meltdown, I'd dream of writing Judy Blume a letter, explaining my woes and tribulations.
I'd imagine she'd read my letter and reach out to me. I'd picture her wiping my tears. Telling me my fears were not unfounded.
I just knew Judy Blume would understand me. Get me.
Are You There God? It's Me Margaret helped me navigate my own coming of age. It answered questions I wasn't sure how to bring up with my parents.
The book has come under a lot of scrutiny and many have tried to ban it from libraries.
Some find it appalling Margaret is searching for religious answers.
They find it horrid Margaret wants boobs and gets her period.
They don't think it's appropriate young girls have access to such "filth."
I don't get it.
I'm 34 years old and I've read a lot of books.
Never has a book had more of an impact on my life than this one.
Never again have I read a book so many times it fell out of it's binding.
Never again has another book had the power to mirror my emotions, fears, hopes and body image.
Had my mother kept this book from me, it would have been a disgrace.
Judy Blume nailed it.
She united preteen girls everywhere.
Gave us permission to be awkward.
To be vulnerable.
And by doing so, she opened the door to self-esteem where previously little to none existed.
In a world so determined to push young girls into shorter skirts and risky relationships, Are You There God? It's Me Margaret is an innocent, nostalgic look at what all girl's experience, even those acting too grown up to admit it.
Not only will I personally give my daughter a copy of this book (should I have a daughter), but I'll read it with her.
Answer her questions.
Quell her adolescent fears.
And if the binding of her book gives, I'll buy her another.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I used to roll my eyes at the term "crackberry."
I get it.
Every time my eyes fall upon the lovely track ball, or the industrial strength cover that protects my phone from harm, I grin.
I can't help it.
It's not possible to walk by this phone.
No. You must pick it up. Scroll through your emails. Check all the latest online gossip. Talk to it. Rejoice.
Given my affinity for the Blackberry Curve, I was CERTAIN Apes would want one. Especially when I found out Verizon was offering "buy one, get one".
April has a nice phone, but it doesn't have internet capability and typing a text message takes eons because she doesn't have a full keyboard.
I could hardly contain myself as April and I walked into the Verizon store yesterday.
For two reasons:
1) More Blackberry gadgets!
2) Painless shopping...so, I thought.
Most times, I'd rather cut off both arms than shop with April. Especially for technology. Normally she has to hold, scrutinize and price shop for a solid month before making any decisions.
I was certain the "buy one, get one" deal meant we could avoid such nonsense.
As soon as Apes found out getting a Curve meant she'd be locked into a $30 a month, two-year, non-negotiable internet deal, she balked.
"What if I don't use it that often?" She asked, her wheels turning.
"You can't get around it with a Blackberry," the guy said. "You can get one of our other phones and the internet is only $15 a month and you can turn it on and off."
I started to deflate. I knew what was coming. The poor sales guy didn't.
I slouched in a corner as April evaluated EVERY phone in the store. My eyes pleaded with her. I clutched my stomach, faking hunger pains.
She ignored me.
The sales guy finally approached and asked if he could take another customer.
"Yeah," I grumbled. "She's not gonna buy today. I can tell. She has to noodle it for a week."
Apes rolled her eyes at me and thanked him for his help.
As we walked out the door, she said: "What's your problem with me taking my time? This is a big decision!"
"It's not THAT big. If you aren't going to use it much, get the phone with $15 a month Internet. No brainer."
"But what if I decide I WANT the internet? If I get the $15 a month phone, I'm stuck with it for two years and can't change."
"Then get the Blackberry phone with the Internet and you've covered your bases."
"But I might not use it and then I'm stuck paying for it for two years!"
I literally growled at her.
"Listen, Heather," she said, pointing at me. "This should all be comforting to you. Clearly I don't make my decisions on a whim. So you should feel good knowing that when I chose you, I CHOSE YOU. I don't make decisions lightly. If I'm gonna be stuck with something, I want to make sure it's something I want."
She raised a knowing eyebrow in my direction and kept walking.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Last Sunday we organized our shed. For HOURS.
Who knew we had 17,432 different types of nails and screws, each warranting their own special spot in our shed.
This Sunday, Apes wants to tackle the brown patches in our yard.
"Why don't we get some grass seed?" she asked last night, on our way back from meeting our accountant. "Those really green patches we DO have are because I poured grass seed last year."
"Why do we have a few brown patches then? If it didn't work last year, we may have to do something different this year."
"I didn't pour grass seed on the WHOLE lawn. Just where we needed it. And now we need it in other places."
"Ah. Well, before we do it again this year, we should figure out if we need to aerate* the yard. I don't want to spend the money and time throwing grass seed, just to have it work 'a little bit.'"
I could see April's brain working.
"We wouldn't have to rent or buy an aerating tool," she said, lost in thought. "We have soccer cleats. We could just run and jump around the yard. Wouldn't that be the same thing as using a tool to churn up the dirt?"
I kept waiting for her to laugh.
"I'm serious, Heather."
She was. Serious.
I'm still giggling at the thought of us running around the yard in our cleats.
It's not going to happen. But it is funny.
aerate* = Aeration is the process of mechanically poking thousands of holes in the soil. This allows water, oxygen and nutrients to better penetrate to the roots of your grass. Motorized aerator machines can be rented from hardware or tool rental stores.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
My lungs fill up with hues of blue, traces of Spring, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sight of squirrels twirling on power lines and the twitter of birds, making a nest fit to lay eggs.
Pollen dusts my car. Perfect to draw a smiley face.
Blossoms prance across the street, blown by a warm wind.
My neighbor's cat presses his nose against a window pane. His tail twitches. He sees the squirrels.
The tree in front of my office window waves its branches, beckoning me to join it as the sun shimmies between it's head of green leaves.
The world may not be perfect. But today is.
There's a lesson in that, I'm sure of it.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Last night, whilst slumbering, I got into a bitch fight with Madonna.
Yes I did.
On a cruise ship.
Over a communal jacuzzi tub.
Why there was a bath tub with jets and a flat screen TV in the middle of a cruise ship, I don't know.
But there was, and I wanted to use it.
When I approached the tub, it was empty of people and water. I turned on the faucet and poured a ton of bubble bath suds.
As the tub filled, I decided to walk down a flight of stairs to the raging pool party going on below.
Just as I hit the last step, Madonna, dressed in leather, stormed over to my tub.
My dream went silent.
Everyone at the pool party stared up at her, myself included.
"WHO IS USING MY FUCKING BATHTUB?!" She was angry.
I don't like bullies.
"Um, it's not YOUR bathtub, princess. And I am."
I was ordered to remove my water from the tub within 60 seconds.
I told her to kiss my ass.
It got ugly.
I woke up.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I don't get political very often, but today I am.
Because I, along with every gay person in the United States, owes Michael Judge a heartfelt thank you.
Below is a copy of his editorial, printed in today's Wall Street Journal:
Why Gay Marriage Matters
The state should recognize our choice of partner.
By MICHAEL JUDGE
Iowa City, Iowa
I often tell friends that a part of me is gay, even though I've been happily married to my wife for 12 years. What I mean is that in April 2003 I donated a kidney to my older brother David, who is gay. The transplant took place at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics -- and it was, in a very real sense, a miraculous event for our entire family.
So when David called me last Friday excited about the Iowa Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal, I wasn't surprised. "You know what this means, don't you?" he asked. "It means we can visit those we love when they're dying in the hospital; it means we're finally treated like family."
Most hospitals in America only allow spouses and immediate family members to visit a patient during a medical emergency, when a patient is unconscious or in critical condition after a car accident, heart attack or kidney failure, for example. These are the moments when our spouses are most needed, the moments when life and death decisions are made -- and, if necessary, goodbyes are said. My brother, whose kidneys failed when he was in his 30s, understands these moments.
Of course, this is just one example of how Friday's decision changes the lives of gay and lesbian couples in Iowa. As the court wrote in its unanimous decision, the 12 plaintiffs (six couples) expressed "the disadvantages and fears they face each day due to the inability to obtain a civil marriage in Iowa." These include: "the legal inability to make many life and death decisions affecting their partner, including decisions related to health care . . . the inability to share in their partners' state-provided health insurance, public employee pension benefits, and many private-employer-provided benefits and protections," and the denial of "several tax benefits."
"Yet, perhaps the ultimate disadvantage expressed in the testimony of the plaintiffs," the court continued, "is the inability to obtain for themselves and for their children the personal and public affirmation that accompanies marriage." In other words, they desire to be recognized as married couples, as a "family" to use my brother's word.
With Friday's ruling -- which upheld a lower-court ruling that rejected a state law restricting marriage to a union between a man and woman -- that desire has become law. As early as April 24, gays and lesbians will be able to exchange vows in civil services.
As for religious attitudes toward same-sex marriage, the court respectfully, and in typically plain-spoken manner, explains that "the sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past. The only difference is civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law."
My brother and I and millions of Iowans are proud of our state at this moment. Others aren't. There are many (some of them beloved family members) who believe marriage, civil or otherwise, should only be between a man and woman; others aren't opposed to same-sex marriage but don't think the courts should mandate it. Indeed, there's a movement here in Iowa as in other states to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union solely between a man and woman. (Such an amendment couldn't get on the ballot here until 2012 at the earliest.)
To this, I would simply ask why? Why blemish our constitution and narrow our definition of equal protection when our state has been a leader on such historic civil-rights issues as slavery, interracial marriage, women's rights, and desegregation?
As the court wrote in its decision: "We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification."
Here's to marriage, a "supremely important civil institution." And here's to including, not excluding, kind-hearted people like my brother David, who want nothing more than to find the right person, settle down, and one day perhaps get married.
Mr. Judge, a fifth generation Iowan, is a freelance journalist and a contributing editor of The Far Eastern Economic Review.
I read this editorial (thank you Margaret for sending me the link), and cried.
Too few gay, lesbian or transgendered people have straight family members or friends, like Michael, willing to fight and speak out about our struggle for equal rights.
Thinking we deserve rights and actually getting out there, as a straight person, and helping us fight for those rights, are two very different things.
Let's face it. Gays and lesbians are the minority. We know that. We're reminded of it frequently. If we could beat oppressive legislation ourselves, we would have by now.
We need our straight allies in order to bring about lasting change. We need you to vote. Write. Speak. Stand.
I don't care if someone calls what I have with April a Civil Union or a Marriage.
I truly don't.
Call it whatever you want.
What DO I want?
I want to visit April in the hospital if, God Forbid, the love of my life is dying
I want to receive the same 1,100 tax benefits straight, married couples receive
I want to show our children that we are in a committed, loving relationship
I want to know my will and all other legal documents won't be deemed null and void because of who I love
Michale Judge, thank you.
Thank you for reminding us that we aren't alone. I can't speak for your brother, but I imagine the pride he feels right now is overwhelming.
I'm not talking gay pride.
I'm talking PRIDE PRIDE.
Pride that you're his brother.
Pride that you stood up for him.
Pride that you SEE him.
Pride that you love him BECAUSE of who he is. Not in SPITE of who he is.
Thank you, Michael Judge. Thank you.
I also owe a thank you to my straight readers (a big majority of you) for sharing in my life with April. By simply reading about everything from the mundane to the funny to the heartbreaking, you help me share the message my life isn't different from yours. Your encouragement, support and emails mean a great deal to me. Thank you. Seriously. Thank you.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Ya'll know how I love me some JN.
Words do not adequately communicate the irrational intensity I feel every time I see this woman.
Every attempt I made to accommodate my urge was squashed by Apes.
I cried. She pretended not to see.
I whined. She covered her ears.
I begged. She rolled her eyes.
"I'm DYING over here, April! Why can't we go to Carl's and get an ice cream! WHY?!"
"We don't need it, Heather. We've eaten so well this weekend! Just tell yourself you're full. It'll work. I promise."
"That's bull shit, April. I WANT ICE CREAM!"
"Fine," she said, placating me. "Just don't come home with anything. Eat it outside."
"What? I can go get an ice cream, but I have to sit in the driveway and eat it? You need to 'splain yourself...."
"Because if I see it, I'll want it."
"What if I race inside and shut myself in the office?"
"No! You aren't respecting my disability."
I stared at her.
"I can't say no to sugar. If I were an alcoholic, would you go out and get a beer and drink it right in front of me?"
I stared at her.
"You are seriously comparing the two scenarios?"
"Yes I am," April said, all indignant like.
I didn't get my ice cream.
Her ass better be in a twelve step program PRONTO.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I refuse to get up when her little head nuzzles my neck.
I can almost (almost) forget she hopped up on the table and ate the salmon I cooked for dinner....
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Friday, April 3, 2009
I know this will shock no one, but Apes and I are complete opposites when it comes to nearly all trivial issues.
Socks, hangers, the thermostat and Diet Coke consumption all live at the tippy top of our "we're different" iceberg.
Joining them - DRIVING.
I do most of the driving simply because April behind the wheel makes me nutty. She'll admit to having trouble doing two things at one time, so if she's driving AND talking, the car isn't moving.
Even if we're on an Interstate.
I can literally feel the car jump as her foot lets off the gas. Cars driven by people so old you can't even see them whiz by us.
She'll read this tonight and yell at me for exaggerating. Maybe I am a little, but not much.
Even if she's not talking, we're not going the speed limit.
She has to stay 17 car lengths behind the vehicle in front of her (only a slight exaggeration).
Routinely, I have to answer the, "are you in a HURRY?!" question.
Not necessarily, but I would like to arrive at our destination before my skin wrinkles and it hurts to walk.
If she were here (or had a blog), she'd tell you my driving makes her fear for her life.
She'd get all dramatic, re-enacting how I'm clumsy and all over the road, grappling with my cell phone while tying my shoe and driving with my nose.
This all leads me to a conversation we had last week.
For work, April often needs to drive kids to and from field trips, so her employer requires all drivers to take routine safety courses.
Only I have to endure endless lectures after they're over.
She had one such class the other day.
I heard ALL about it on our way to meet some friends.
She defended her 17-car length rule, citing a million facts and figures she'd just learned.
She (too) proudly relayed statistics reporting that driving 5 miles under the speed limit significantly increases your chances of surviving a car accident if you're traveling more than 50 mph.
She went on and on, ticking off her newly acquired car safety information as I sat in the passenger seat staring at her.
Only after she said, "Clearly, I'LL be teaching our children how to drive," did I speak up and say what was on my mind.
"Um, next time YOU give the car safety lecture while DRIVING, make sure you're wearing your seatbelt. Or didn't they cover THAT in your class?"
*April will kill me if I don't mention she has a 99% seatbelt wearing record. I love, though, that her 1% fault rate came while trying to learn me about driver safety.
*I also love her. A lot.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Her photos brought back a flood of memories. Many I'm not proud of. *Hangs Head.*
For those of you who don't have a Flat Stanley clue...Flat Stanley is a paper boy (or girl), created by elementary students nationwide. The school assignment is to send Flat Stanley, along with a journal, off to visit a friend or a family member for a few days. Creative "hosts" send Flat Stanley back to the student with pictures, souvenirs, stories and reminders of the visit.
Penny owns a Dragon Boat Racing company, so her Flat Stanley is all prepared to tear it up on the water...
My Flat Stanely died.
Let's just say, I wasn't the best "host."
Here's what happened...
It was my first job out of college and I was working with some wickedly talented people in the Design & Entertainment department of a major theme park company in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our offices were full of toys, movie memorabilia, IMAX technology and intricate artwork.
Budget contstraints hadn't formed vices around our necks yet, so we still planned research trips.
Research trips = visits to other theme parks to see what they were doing and how they catered to park guests.
Yeah. For real. I loved my job.
Just before leaving for Florida on one of these "research trips," my friend Tina approached me with this laminated, paper boy in her hands. She explained it was a school project for her son and instead of shuttling him around Charlotte, she thought it would be awesome to send him to Florida with me.
"You could take his picture at all the theme parks - my son will have the best journal in the class!" Tina said, lying Flat Stanley on my desk.
I'm all about helping a friend's kid be the coolest in class, so I put Flat Stanley in my bag and promised to take good care of him.
I hate making promises I don't keep.
Initially, I did a fabulous job. I pimped Flat Stanley out to the airline steward, the cab driver, the hotel clerk; I even took pictures of Flat Stanley unpacking his (my) luggage and taking a shower.
I mean to tell you I was a dedicated Flat Stanley host.
My co-workers loved Flat Stanley and we carted him around several theme parks. No other kid was going to have Spider Man posing with THEIR Flat Stanley.
My co-workers are also responsible for my irresponsibility (that's my version, anyway). Our last night, we decided to have some fun at dinner.
We ordered a few (too many) beverages and started taking in-e-propriate pictures with Flat Stanley. He had a margarita. He lip locked a bar maid. You get the idea.
All fun and games until I got home and realized I DON'T HAVE FLAT STANLEY!
"No, no, no, no, no!" I yelled, tearing my purse apart.
"SHIT!" I called my coworkers who might have helped me, if not for their laughing siezures.
I called the restaurant, which had been closing when we left...
"Hi, um, this is going to sound really strange, but I left a....how do I explain this...it's a paper boy...it's laminated...Have you ever heard of Flat Stanley? No? Okay, well, it's about 12 inches tall and...Yes, yes I'm serious. Listen, it's a school project for a little boy and I can't lose it! What? No, the project wasn't to bring it to a bar, I did that on my own. It was wrong...Can you please just look? Please?"
An eternity later, the guy comes back to the phone with bad news.
No Flat Stanley.
I was dying. All I could picture was Tina's son, crying as he told his class that his Flat Stanley died or was kidnapped.
There was only one thing to do.
I raced to Walmart, bought supplies, made ANOTHER Flat Stanley and rushed him to the hotel's business office for lamination.
Now I needed a story. I forced my creative co-workers to help me and I gotta tell you, we nailed it:
The original Flat Stanley had such an amazing time in Florida, visiting all the theme parks. He particularly loved meeting tourists from all over the world. In fact, he quickly became friends with SVEN, from Sweden (who also happened to be the NEW Flat Stanely). With their parents permission, they decided to become foreign exchange students, so Flat Stanley went to Sweden and Sven came back to Charlotte.
I gotta tell you, the kid rocked it in class.
Alls well that ends well.
ps. I still think about Flat Stanley and wonder if he's lying under some Florida palm tree, next to some buxom bar waitress, laughing about how he gave me the slip...
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I was in the bathroom trying to muster up enough energy to floss my teeth.
The work it requires is exhausting and I usually pull the floss so hard that I nearly decapitate my own fingers.
Can you do that? Decapitate fingers?
Flossing = danger.
My to-floss-or-not-to-floss dilemma got put on the back burner when I heard April sigh (loudly) from our bedroom.
I know that sigh.
It's the "I'm so frustrated with Heather I could DIE" sigh.
I stepped into the hallway.
"THESE, Heather," she said, holding a pair of ankle socks in her hand, "ARE NOT A MATCH."
"Yes they are. Look," I said, pointing. "They both have gray on the heel."
"But THIS sock has gray all OVER the foot. Do you even LOOK at them?"
"Yes I do, sassy pants. What's the big deal if they're not EXACT? I swear, you're acting like one is a knee-high and the other is an ankle sock. Those socks are CLOSE!"
"One is softer than the other. I can't do it."
"That'd be your flavors of OCD..." I said, rolling my eyes and walking back into the bathroom.
A minute later, I heard a drawer open and close.
"What NOW?" I yelled from the bathroom.
"THESE DON'T MATCH EITHER!"
"You need to relax, Apes. I think what you MEANT to say is: 'Heather, thanks for doing the laundry...'"
"Uh huh," she muttered, going back to the drawer for the third time.
It opened. It closed.
I heard her walk back to the bed and sit down.
"So, those worked for you, huh?"
"You shouldn't be proud of a 33% sock average, Heather."
"You shouldn't be proud you're a sock discriminator, April."
"Put a sock in it."
"Clever, Apes. Clever."