Friday, November 30, 2007

Myriad

Do you have any idea when you are supposed to say "A myriad of things" as opposed to just "myriad things"? I have never found a clear, understandable definition. Irksome.

But I do have many things to tell y'all, in no particular order.

1. Blogger screws up my leading all the time. I hate it. (For those of you not proofreader losers such as my own self? Leading is the space between the lines. I am literally trying to see between the lines.) You can't put in a picture or a drop quote or ANYTHING without your type getting all squishy. Unacceptable. Next year, when I do my health blog? I am going to Typepad.

2. There is a guy? Here in this town? Who has TWO purebred BORDER COLLIE doggie-doos for FREE. FREE. I talked to him last night, and it turns out he knows the hoo-ha at our real estate agency, and he's gonna see if he can't get that "no dogs" policy lifted. Can you imagine? I always said I'd never get a purebred unless it was a rescue thing and it IS! Trying not to get too excited about my new dog, who I love more than life itself.

3. Today is haircut day. My grandfather always used to ask me, "Why don't you just get a butch haircut?" (It always annoyed my grandmother that he said funny things. But you know what? I remember them all. Aunt Mary, what was the thing he said about Jumbo's ass? That one is escaping me.) I may take him up on that. I think all that dyeing out of a box ruined it. I will certainly let you know, as it could be a terrible consequence of not spending.

4. I've got more, but I'm late for my 45-second commute. Every day on the drive to work, I think "Get me to the church on time!" heh. I am hilarious in my own head.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not Very Artychoke

Yesterday, I almost died at the nursing home. Which is kind of funny, because if some sick bastard out there is placing bets on who dies there next, probably the 42-year-old volunteer is not high on the list. I am kind of the dark horse in that bet, I think.

You know how sometimes you are just sitting there, eating and drinking NOTHING, yet somehow you kind of swallow wrong and cough and sputter? So, I was plugging in the tape player to play Miss Lilly's book on tape (we are on the SAME BOOK still! I go there twice a week. I have been there since September. We are NOT listening to War and Peace. Will this story never END?), and when I stood up, I did that choking on nothing thing.

Only it was really bad! I felt like I couldn't do ANYTHING: breathe out, breathe in, cough, talk. Just then a nurse, or maybe she was an aide, or maybe just some person off the street who really likes scrubs, came in. "How much longer you gonna be with Miss Lilly?" she asked me.

I couldn't say anything.

"Cause I gotta give her her shower," she said.

At this point, I had raised my arms up over my head, like I was riding a roller coaster except for the COMPLETE LACK OF FUN part.

"Are you okay?" she asked me.

"Meeep!" I managed to gasp.

"You need me to call a ambyoulaaance?" Even though I was not breathing, I was fascinated by the way she said "ambulance."

Fortunately, I was suddenly able to cough and I croaked, "I'm okay. I was just choking on nothing, is all."

"Well, you get yourself together and I'll get Miss Lilly in the shower."

Okay, Miss Sympathy, thanks! Geez! Get myself together. Like I was having an hysterical fit or something.

My near death experience aside, I am losing my mind about Christmas. I am TERRIBLE at making things! It's way stressier than trying to just BUY something, let me tell you. Why do I have no artistic ability? Can I make paint by numbers pictures for everyone? How about I just spend $20 per person? That interpretive dance is sounding better and better.

Anyway, I have to go back to the church because Christmas? Turns out it's a busy time of year at the old church. Who knew?

I'll try not to phantom choke for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hair-rific

Do you see this hot mess, here? That, my friends, is the back of my hair. This photo was taken when we were back in Michigan.

That guy is a friend of Marvin Gardens'. I liked him.

He must have felt terribly sorry for Marvin that he married someone with such screwed up hair. LOOK at that! It had snowed all over my head that day, but still.

Anyway, my rule for this year was that I got to get a haircut if my hair got ridiculous, and there is no argument for that.

Remember in I Love Lucy when someone tells Ethel she's never looked better and Fred says, "I won't argue with that!" Fred was underrated.

I have an appointment for Friday afternoon in Charlotte. The salon was recommended to me by the sister of a friend back in LA. You'd think this was a doctor's appointment, the way I did my research.

Afterwards, I am getting together with my friend Marianne, who lives 20 miles outside of Charlotte. Marianne and I met in Seattle, during a rugby game. We had both been dragged there against our wills. So, standing there in the middle of a wet (because it was Seattle), cold (because it was January) rugby field, Marianne turned to me and said, "You wanna go back to the car and drink all the beer?"

And a star was born.

I will keep you posted as to the hair results. Fret not.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What I would have done differently if I had this year over again.

You know what I would have done? I would have said, "No gifts." And it was my fault, because everyone was just being nice. It was up to me to put the kibosh on it. And I did not.

The whole point of this year was to see what it was like to go without. It was not, contrary to popular belief, to see how much we could save, because I honestly thought we were living exactly within our means, so I thought our savings would be maybe $100 a month. Of course, I was wrong, and when we were working in LA at the beginning of this year, we were saving $3200 a month.

Which we should be shot for. Really. $3200 in disposable income every month? Who was I, Rich Uncle Pennybags? (That's the Monopoly guy, FYI. And you should have known I was he, what with the facial hair and top hat and all.)

Now? I really do think it's like one or two hundred a month, because we make so much less. But again, that is neither here nor there.

When I bought that five dollar yoga magazine last November, the article I read was about consuming less, alleviating the whole thinking that the hole in your soul is shaped like a new lipstick (or a DVD, Marvin Gardens), when no purchase will really fix you.

So, THAT was the whole point of this silly exercise. But you know what? I got a ton of stuff anyway.

I am good at attracting gifts. Some people are good at throwing parties together at the last minute. Some people can take cake mix, an old can of tuna, and some Pledge, and make the best dinner you ever had. Me? I get gifts. Ask my old roommates. They used to HATE me at my birthday and Christmas, because I got so many packages. In fact, I became friends with my mail lady in LA because she had to come to the door with boxes so often.

Plus not to mention too, I have really, really good friends who are generous to a fault. I do not deserve these kind people. Cause I basically suck. But I am glad I have pulled the wool over their eyes thus far.

I used to say I was basically a Cracker Jack prize. You know, sort of amusing for awhile, but then you can toss it aside and never think of it again? But considering some of my friends have been around for 40 years, (okay, one friend) I must be that really good Cracker Jack prize that Audrey Hepburn had engraved at Tiffany's.

Oh, and also? If you announce to everyone that you are not spending? People feel sorry for you and buy you things. My friend Renee told me that would happen, because it happened to her when she and her husband set up their "$20 a week spending money" budget. I was one of the people who bought her manicures and Dixie Riddle Cups (it's a long story) and such. I think we like to help, and going without sounds so... depressing.

So, even though everyone was wonderful to send me things and help me out, I should have laid down the law, and taken a look at what it was REALLY like not to have things. That said, thanks, mom, for the new winter coat and boots and coffee mugs and blanket! And thanks, Lisa, for the new makeup! My soul remains empty, but I am warm and colorful.

Puss and Boots

When I was back in Michigan this week, my mother bought me a pair of black fuzzy snow boots.

I just spent an entire minute talking to them, thinking they were Ruby. I only figured it out when I went to pet her and she felt...boot-y.

Maybe I should have gotten that Lasik.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ho-ho-holy mother of pearl that's a lotta decorations

I'm back! Do you know that technically, it only takes an hour and 40 minutes in the air to fly between Charlotte and Detroit?

Whenever we landed back in LA, I always cursed the fact that we lived there. The airport was a nightmare, as was the shuttle, then the drive down the 405 to get home, crescendo-ing in the drive around one's home, looking for a place to park.

Remember when OJ drove down the 405? That was the last time traffic moved that fast.

Anyway, it occurs to me we are coming up to our last month of not shopping. Of course, we had to save the serious month for last. Not only will not buying Christmas presents be weird, but what about a Christmas tree? Someone recently asked me if we had a tree out front we could decorate, but all we have are gigantic oaks. And I would need a cherry picker to lift me up there for that decorating moment. Which probably costs money.

I have eight million decorations, all given to me by my mother, who I suspect is secretly Mrs. Claus. She has EVERY CHRISTMAS DECORATION EVER CREATED IN THE HISTORY OF TIME. She has a Christmas bedspread. She has Christmas ties that are not for her, but rather for my stepfather to wear EACH DAY in December. (Remember in On Golden Pond, when Henry Fonda says, "You could put on a tie and come as Miss Apply"?)

She also has:
  • Christmas toilet paper accompanied by a special tube that plays Christmas music when you roll out your paper.
  • a clock that plays a different Christmas tune at each hour.
  • Christmas china
  • reindeer ornaments for the lawn
  • welcome mats
  • aprons
  • towels
  • pot holders
  • Santa-shaped soaps in the bathroom, and what holiday would be complete without...
  • Christmas-themed covers for the doorknobs, which makes it impossible to open the door. Stay here in this house and be Christmas-y! Roast those chestnuts on that open fire! Do not TRY to escape!
Girlfriend likes her some Christmas, is what I'm saying. And I guess because she has every possible Christmas thing in her home, she started buying them for me. Now, the thing is, she goes for traditional red and green? Whereas I prefer white and silver. So she gets to buy all new things.

What I am eventually getting to here, in this long-winded A Very OCD Christmas story is that perhaps I can try decorating with all my stuff and see if not having a tree completely depresses me.

My mother is calling, so I'd best sign off. She wants to tell me about some cute Christmas votives she picked up today. I am not making this up.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Let Me Entertain You ...with No Gift

Yesterday, I had to tell a seven-year-old that I couldn't buy her a Christmas present.

Who felt like the Grinch?

The seven-year-old in question is my second cousin, Anna, who clarified our relationship yesterday in order to make the OTHER kid at Thanksgiving dinner, Emma, feel bad.

"June and my mom are cousins. So that makes June and me second cousins. What are YOU to June?"

Poor Emma looked at me, fairly panicked. So I jumped in. "Emma's mom and I are practically sisters, so that makes Emma my ***special niece***. "

I could tell this did not wash with these children. Being my second cousin was CLEARLY more important. I think it was all in the presentation.

I cannot imagine why anyone would want to admit they were related to me.

At any rate, I pulled Anna aside and told her we would be spending Christmas together, and I gave her the whole not spending in 2007 thing. She actually seemed to think that was a cool idea. So I told her that in lieu of a gift, I'd do either her hair, her makeup, or her nails for Christmas.

Well, believe it or not, she totally fell for it. She chose makeup, and asked if we could have a little preview with the new makeup Emma's mom brought me yesterday. So, we retired to the bathroom, and Thanksgiving dinner ended up being a lovely event with friends, family, and Jon Benet Ramsey.

And may I just add one more thing? During dinner, Anna got on her chair and said, "May I have everyone's attention, please? [she waited dramatically while everyone got quiet.] I would like to entertain you after dinner."

I have to tell you that Emma and I exchanged meaningful glances at this point, as we were clearly annoyed that we hadn't thought of this scheme ourselves. I had been planning to put all the black olives on my fingers later, in hopes everyone would notice me.

So look for me on a chair at my next social event.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey for you and turkey for me.

Hello! I can't hear myself think! Marvin Gardens is playing Christmas songs on his guitar eight feet from me. And may I remind you he is a Jew, so he will be struck down any second for this?

We leave for the airport in 17 minutes. I am in my robe because my bra is drying. Have I mentioned I will be excited to spend money again? I have ONE brassiere that is not all twitterpated and bad. All the rest have wires sticking out or they gap or whatever.

Here is what I packed today, after Marvin wanted me to just have a carry-on, and I recovered from that hilarity:

*My two pairs of jeans that I own. Both are frayed. I'm a frayed knot. Bah! Do you know that joke?
*My faded black pants I bought in March of 2006.
*My faded olive drab pants I bought the same time I bought the black pants.
*My black boots I brought in 2000.
*The ever-present silver shoes. Of course.
*The two new sweaters and Tshirt and pullover sweatshirt my mother just bought me.
*Seventy-five pink Tshirts purchased at various points during this century.

Mmmm! I will be lookin' good! And I have failed to mention that I finally dyed my hair, after all that debate and posting and wailing and stuff, and I am so gray that my roots? Pink. Seriously.

At least they'll match the Tshirts.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I will TOTALLY wave at exit 22, Hotfessional! Good luck with all your cooking, Friend from MA! Eat pies, dcrmom!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Was Po the gay one?

Can you believe this is the first chance I've had to blog y'all since Sunday morning? Yeesch! Things are busy here in the city that never wakes up.

I had to get in all my hours at work, because we are going to Michigan tomorrow. This is the first Thanksgiving I have spent with family since 1992, when I was days away from moving to Seattle. I remember sitting in the bathroom after dinner, listening to everyone talking at once thinking, "I am about to leave all this." But that was as deep as I got.

Let's travel back in time for a moment -- shall we? -- to me 15 years ago. My general outlook and attitude toward life could be summed up as TeleTubby. You know how the TeleTubbies kind of skipped around, saying "La-La" and they seemed kind of pleased with everything?

That was me, 15 years ago.

I had a job as a P.R. person in my hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, making $17,000 a year. One day, I got mad at work, so I went to my boss and said, "This is my 30-day notice." I had no plans whatsoever.

La-La!

I decided to move to Seattle. I didn't really know anyone in Seattle, but I knew they read more books per capita than anyone else. I had about $700 to my name. I called this guy I sort of knew from college, who lived in a Seattle suburb, and he said, "You can stay with me!" For all I knew, he could have been some kind of perv, or woman hater, or murderer. So, I got on the train.

La-La! Eh-Oh!

Here's what I have to tell you about my first six months in Seattle. I am sure my memory is not accurate, but what I remember is being greeted by a hoard of the most fun, cool people EVER, getting a great job five minutes later, and basically spending every second either dancing at gay bars, drinking at the bar in my building at work, or having 6,000 fun, cool people over to my fun, cool apartment.

And the guy I barely knew? Microsoft millionaire. Lived rent-free in his fabulous house for a month, while he took me to fancy restaurants. He never once was inappropriate or entitled. He was great.

The whole POINT of this rant is to say that coming home for Thanksgiving is kind of a full-circle thing. I went off for years to see the world, which I did, and now I live much closer and my silly hometown suddenly seems like a booming metropolis.

I'll be back with the fam, and my mother will say "This doesn't TASTE like anything, does it?" and my stepfather will say, "Boy. This is really living." and my Uncle Jim will stick a cigarette up his nose before dessert and I am so excited I could La-La!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Who are you? You're the birthday boy!


Today is Marvin Gardens' 41st birthday. Yes, I know that I'm 42. I am a cougar.

Obviously, I was unable to get a gift for Marvin, or even a card. He does, of course, get to do whatever he wants all day. So far, that has entailed me performing certain wifely duties and having to listen to the song "Delta Dawn." (He wanted to hear it because of the line, "She's 41 and her daddy still calls her baby." It does not take much for Marvin.)

Later tonight I have to cook whatever he wants, which at this juncture is salmon, asparagus and key lime bars. Yesterday it was beef Wellington, so it's a very suspenseful time here at the Gardens-Cutoff Cash house.

It bothered me not to get a card. I felt so...unprepared for today. Even though cards are 100% a woman thing. Men could not care less about them. Remember when you'd go out and spend forever picking out a card for some boy you liked? Yeah. He didn't care.

One time, the day after Christmas, I was at Papyrus selecting 50% off Christmas cards along with 72 other women. We were all standing there for a long time, picking up each box, turning it over to read the messages inside, when a large man crashed through us, picked up a box without looking at it, and left. This is what I am saying about men and cards.

I guess I had better go make myself presentable in case Marvin wants to actually leave the house today. I could be in for a day-long marathon of The Who documentaries.

So, happy birthday, Marvin Gardens! Even though sometimes I want to bludgeon you with an andiron, you are still my favorite person on earth, and the cutest boy ever.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Forest for the Freeze


This one time? There was a stray cat in my neighborhood? And I was feeding her? And could you smack me for all the question marks?

Anyway, this stray cat wouldn't let me touch her for weeks, until one day she did, and I realized she was really pregnant, heavy with child, as it were, so I picked her ass up and made her come on to my house, to myyyy house.

And even though I made her countless nests, she had six kittens on our bed. Thank God for Oxy-Clean.

Anyway, I'm just saying, those were the best six weeks of my life. With the kittens, the mom, and our regularly scheduled cats, we had 10 cats. TEN CATS! That is as good as it gets for me.

So today I was looking for something else and I came upon this photo of Forest. She is sleeping on Hedgerow, I think, and I know for sure that Bert is behind her, there.

I know where all the kittens are to this day, and the mom too, and every October 7, I call their respective parents to say happy birthday to the cats. Because I am a complete freak.

So, there is this guy I work with at the church, and it is evident that we are going to become friends, and yesterday he gave me this catalog of jewelry he sells. If I buy three items, the most expensive is half off.

Now, frankly, I do want to order something. But I know I cannot. And the thing is, I didn't just come out and tell him about my year's plan. And now I took the catalog, and it's gonna look like I perused the thing and couldn't find anything I like, and now I am coming up with this phony no-spending excuse. And how ridiculous of me would it be to say, "I cannot help you, and here, read my blog all about me to prove I am not lying."

You know what would make me feel better? Another kitten picture. Hang on.

Don't you just want to go back in time and kiss them up? That's Garland, sniffing his mom, Margaret Brown. She was an excellent mother.

I feel much better.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I tried to get you a watch fob, but no one would buy my hair.

Christmas is looming before me.

I do not mean that Christmas is weaving something in front of me.

I know that Christmas is coming because the whole town is already done up in lights. And they do not pussyfoot around with the political correctness here; nosir. None of that neutral "Happy Holidays" for them. We are talking angels, Santas, the works. Not a word about Kwanzaa. And 50% of this town is African-American.

So, Christmas is waving its red nose before me and I have gifts to give people and I CANNOT BUY THEM.

Once again I am annoyed with myself for not knowing how to quilt or sew or cook or knit or glue or tie anything. I am TERRIBLE at all crafts. I would have made a ridiculous Civil War woman, as my handiwork would not have gone to help any cause whatsoever.

For my Aunt Mary, who has always spent 17 million dollars on me every year, we are creating a website featuring her pottery. Aunt Mary started this whole pottery thing as a hobby a few years back, and it turns out she is like the Michelangelo of the wheel or whatever. People cut each other to buy her stuff. Now, personally, I thought she should name her website "Mary Potter, Wizard of the Kiln" but she won't let me.

I have no idea what I am going to make her husband, my Uncle Omar. I hope he does not wish for an embroidered quilt that I also hand-painted.

My mother wants me to print out my entire blog for her, which strikes me as a tad -- what's the phrase I need, here? -- up my own ass of me to do. "Here's all me all the time! Enjoy!"

My nurse advice book I am making for my cousin is coming along nicely, so that's a relief. Again, if you know any nurses, have them send me advice! Anything they would want to tell a new nurse. Just click the comments at the bottom, here.

Fortunately, my father doesn't celebrate Christmas, despite the fact that he looks precisely like Santa Claus. In fact, he PLAYED Santa at his workplace for years, and loved it. So, anyway, that old Scrooge is eliminated. And Marvin Gardens' whole family is Jewish, thank God.

Remind me to tell you about the time Marvin went shopping with me for a Christmas ensemble for some party. The fact that we are still united in holy matrimony, and that I was not chopped up into small pieces and buried under the mall, is a Christmas miracle in itself.

I will solider on with my lack of Christmas craftswomanship. Do you think everyone would like an interpretive dance for Christmas?! There we go! Somebody pick the song for me. I could put it on YouTube for everyone to enjoy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mrs. Gardens

Today was the monthly meeting of the garden club and I was invited back. There was no work this time, just a fabulous luncheon to say goodbye to one of the members, who is moving to Tennessee to live next door to Keith Urban. That's what she said; what can I tell you?

In Marvin's and my interminable walks, we have gone past this elegant-looking bed and breakfast where the luncheon was held (and they DID call it a "luncheon," just like in Nancy Drew books), and I have always wanted to go in. And oh! it's divine. We ate in this sunny dining room with windows all along the back, looking out onto a beautiful fall garden in the back yard. And there was chocolate cream pie.

Plus also too, one of the members treated me to said lunch and the treasurer told me not to pay my dues till next time, so I stuck to not spending without even trying.

Everyone in garden club is so elegant and refined. I told this to my mother, and she said perhaps it'll rub off on me. I am thinking my crude personality will rub off on all of them.

Soon meetings with start out with, "It's time for the damn meetin'. I'm gettin' PISSED."

So, I guess I have officially become a nonpaying member of the Lilliput Garden Club. (I got a big charge out of myself for calling this town "Lilliput" yesterday, so it's going to be my official name for where I now live. This way I can talk freely about it without the worry of someone here Googling the real town name and finding my scandalous blog.)

In other pressing news, I went to the WalMart today and got a box of hair dye. Then I ended up being too tired to tint tonight. After a hard day of secretarying and not gardening, I was beat. So I continue to look like snow falling on red beets until tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Squint and I'm Still Cute

You all may be right. I may be having depression hair. You should never cut your hair after a breakup or bankruptcy. I am having neither, but I did have a big move to a little place. It's not Lilliput, but you know what I mean.

Not to mention I totally got free contacts today because some man thought I was cute. That is one thing I like about living here; I am still atractive. At the nursing home, they call me, "The pretty girl." Yes, they are addled and occasionally blind, but I'll take what I can get.

In LA, they passed a law that I had to wear a bag over my head when I got anywhere near Beverly Hills, West L.A. or Malibu. I mean, women my age look like Lisa Renna, for heaven's sake. And by the way, she -- along with Julia Roberts -- is among the famous women who used to be older than me but suddenly are my age or younger.

Getting back to my milkshake and its ability to bring the one boy to the yard, I went to MUNroe to get glasses today. The man working at the eye doctor was so nice to me, as everyone here is. I was asking him if insurance covered both frames and contacts when he interrupted me to say (are you ready? This is exciting), "Don't you have a nice, thick head of hair on ya."

He then proceeded to give me free contacts. I am not making this up. He said it was just between us (and everyone reading this blog).

Now, you understand, it was my HAIR that got me these contacts. I know other women get private jets and trips to Barbados with their looks, but I will settle for free contacts.

So, Kellie, I am doing what you say. I am buying me another box of hair dye. And stie, I will not cut it yet.

Because apparently I am sizzlin' in central North Carolina.

And tomorrow? We'll talk about my bad work wardrobe.

Someone STOLE the rector's laptop!

In case you are just tuning in, I work as a secretary at a church in the world's smallest town. You would think crimes like this would not happen.

I mean, sERiously! And you want to know what's even scarier? The only people in the church last night were the Girl Scouts!

Now, is there a badge for stealing computers? From a man of the cloth?

And guess what else? Turns out rectors swear too.

Anyway, that was my drama for today. I am sure the police probably think it was me, as I am new there and have a key. And hey, do you like this new laptop I'm typing on? I just happened to get it yesterday!

No, no.

So, getting back to the topic at hand, which is, as always, my hair. If I decide to grow out the gray I have a few choices here. One of them is NOT to look the way I look now. I look like a red velvet cake with a cream center. The stripe of white at the roots is silly.

Here are my options:
(1) Get a large headband and wear that to hide the roots. And by "get" I mean "buy."
(2) Get my hair cut. Which costs.

So which thing do I do?

I wish they had a special island for people who have to get through awkward hair times. You could stay for six months or a year, and everyone would be understanding of everyone else's hair weirdness. It'd be perfect. Why doesn't someone invent this? You could go to grow out the gray, or if you were growing your hair back after chemo or even a bad haircut. Or if your extensions weren't working, Britney. Or what if you got a really bad perm, self in 1988?

It could be called Bushy Gardens. Or Scandals. Hairwaii? The Isle of Wight Hair?

Please send help.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I have decided to be greedy

One of the parishioners invited me to his house after work.

Oh, get your knickers out of their twist. He's 85. But he and his wife have a 1929 colonial house with a giant garden (his wife's in the garden club), and I had told him I knew I'd love the place.

And was it beautiful? Would I run my mother over with a tractor to own that place? (sorry, mom.) I told him that if I ever got to live in a house that grand, I'd never be sad again. It has SEVEN fireplaces, a stunning entryway and staircase, all hardwood floors, chandeliers, beautiful molding. And the gardens! Oh! You would die.

He also had an adorable terrier who looked just like Sandy in Little Orphan Annie, and do you know that terrier was outside playing with two huge dogs the whole time I was there? I asked if those were his dogs, and he said, "No, the lab belongs to Lynn down the street, and I don't even know who owns that mixed breed. They're always hanging out here."

How much do I love the country? Those dogs were living high on the hog, let me tell you. They were in this safe circle cul-de-sac area with huge woods, chasing squirrels and each other.

Also inside this elegant house was the oldest, most decrepit cat you have ever seen in your entire life. In the beautiful sun room, there was a huge IV on a pole. "That IV belongs to the cat," the parishoner told me.

The cat, if you could still call it that, was laid out on the master bed. Did you ever see that movie Seven when they think the guy on the bed is dead but then he moves and all the detectives jump? The cat looked like that. Nubile it was not. It creaked at me and struggled up for pets, which it wanted plenty of. You know how ancient cats are all bones? Seriously, it was like I was petting a skeleton that someone threw an old rag over. Oh, that poor historic thing. I think it was Methuselah's cat at one point.

Anyway. After having visited this glorious home, it has become apparent to me that I wish to be rich. Is that bad? Is that greedy? Does everyone else get depressed when they visit a house like that? Do you think proofreaders/church secretaries ever get big houses like that? Without marrying up? How many years do I have to not spend to get that house?

I'm totally Lois Lockhorn today

It's Veterans' Day, and Marvin doesn't have to work. He is not a veteran of anything, really; nevertheless they gave him the day off.

Well.

It has been a long time since I have had Marvin underfoot while I try to get ready for work.

First of all, he is the world's perkiest person in the morning. The alarm went off at 6:45, and two notes into the song that burst on, he's singing along at the top of his lungs. Then he's LEAPING up. "IT'S MORNING! GET UP!! TIME TO GET UP!"

Let me tell you a little something about June, over here. I am not a morning person. I hate to sound like Garfield, but it's true. I am perky at 11 o'clock at night. Six forty-five a.m. is not my peak hour.

And when I finally DID roll out of bed at 7:10, who do you think was already on the computer? MY computer? He has his OWN laptop. But he's clacking away on MINE.

I like my coffee like I like my men. Ground up and in the freezer.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gray's Unfit Anatomy

You know what I think I might do? I might grow out my gray.

It has only been three weeks and I have a SERIOUS stripe of gray going on. In fact, I'm gonna go measure it. Hang on.

HALF an inch! I had Marvin confirm it. Half an inch of gray in three weeks. This is ridiculous. Moses called. He wants his hairdo back.

There is a really pretty youngish woman here who is very chic, and her hair is gray. I was pondering this idea all afternoon, and do you know I just saw her at the Wal-Mart there just now? I think it's a sign. A sign from God. Because God has nothing better to do than drop me hair hints at the Wal-Mart.

I am sorry that we had to go to Wal-Mart. I really am. I had to develop those photos, the ones I took of my grandmother's grave, because I'm fun like that, and it's the ONLY developing place in town. Honest.

And by the way, Marvin knew about 87 people there. I have noticed Marvin knows all the black people and I know all the white people. I think this is because his kids at school are mostly black kids, whereas everyone in the Episcopalian church is white. So there you go.

And in case anyone is paying attention, I had earlier said I was not going to develop my photos until January, as this developing of film is unnecessary spending. But I also took pictures of the Halloween festival in town, and one of the old ladies at my nursing home where I volunteer is DYING for me to develop the shots in case I took one of her great-granddaughter dressed as a fairy. Which I may very well have, as I was drawn to all the kids in fairy princess costumes.

So, see? I'm doing it for others, not for me. And I was a grownup and chose the two-day developing, which is $1.12 less than waiting an hour.

Oh, but then? When we were leaving the Wal-Mart, having said hi to every person of every color there? I saw they had the new Dr. Oz book, the one about staying young. It is PERFECT for next year's healthy living blog, which in case you didn't know I am hard at work on, behind the scenes. Oh, I wanted that book.

Marvin said, "You can get it if I can get a DVD that I want." Oh, I was tempted. I want that book SO MUCH. But I said no, not allowed.

We checked out and got to the parking lot. We put our things in the trunk. We got in the car and started driving.

"OH LET'S GET THEM!" I screamed.

So now I have to go read my Dr. Oz book. A $17 cheat. I suck. But I'll be healthy! And gray!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Oh, and also? My cat barfed an intact rubber band.

What a stupid day.

I had a dream last night that my worst ex-boyfriend possible was having dinner at my mother's and I was there too. I for some reason had to act like this was perfectly okay, even though the whole time I felt terribly uncomfy.

So thanks, mom, for inviting worst ex ever over. You never even liked that guy when he was my not-during-R.E.M. boyfriend. Glad we could all have ham croquettes together.

If that weren't bad enough, I had to drive over to Monroe, which people pronounce MUNroe, to have a Lasik consultation. I finally decided to go ahead and do it, as I cannot see far or near. Talk about near, far, wherever the hell you are.

I know that my nearsightedness will go on. I can't see you if you're on fire, at this point.

So, I underwent a series of rather freaky and nauseating procedures (does anyone else get sick when they do that, "Which looks better, one [flip] or two? Two [flip] or three?" thing with the eye chart?), and after feeling like I'd ridden the Octopus and was on the verge of a seizure with all the lights they flashed at me, the doctor told me I have thin corneas.

Well.

My abdomen is distended like I have kwashiorkor. Each strand of my hair is the width of penne pasta. My nose is as bulbous as WC Fields'. But my corneas? Oh, those! Why, those are thin as can be!

The only thin thing on me is THE THING THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE THICK!

So, because I have these Hollywood-starlet-thin corneas, he did not recommend Lasik, but rather this ablation procedure, whatever that means, (I told him he could not tell me any gory details) which costs the same but HURTS MORE.

After getting over the blow of this info, he went through many details, and we were just wrapping up when I said, "So, the day of the surgery, I'll get Valium and a sleeping pill. I can pretty much guarantee that I'll get a migraine from the stress. Will my Imitrex interfere with those other pills?"

"You're on Imitrex!?" he exclaimed.

Guess what? Imitrex (a migraine medicine) TOTALLY interferes with the measurement of your eyes. So I have to go off it for two weeks (hah!) and get those measurements ALL OVER AGAIN.

So here's why I decided not to get this stupid procedure. (A) The Imitrex was written on PAGE ONE of the info I filled out. This doctor clearly did not read my chart. (2) There is no earthly way I can go two weeks without my migraine drug. No way. And (B.1.7a), I really can't afford this.

Which is why my day got even more depressing.

I hate being poor like this. I thought I wouldn't care that we are making so much less money here. I thought it wouldn't bother me in the least, as long as Marvin Gardens is doing something he liked.

Well, guess what? Turns out I am a shallow gold-digger. I LIKED saving $3200 every month like we did at the beginning of this year. We can't even afford to buy a house in this dinky little town! I am 42! And a half! And I can't afford a house. Or Lasik. Or really, a trip to Wisconsin for Christmas, which I already SAID I'd do and really, really can't afford.

I came home from MUNroe crying like a banshee. I do not even know if banshees cry. They scream, don't they?

I wish I would have taken that copy editing job in Winston-Salem. Then I would not have to be a blind, thin-cornea'd, houseless, poverty-stricken loser who has dinner with her ex at her mother's house.

Crap.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sheet Music Update

[UPDATE]
That was the best five bucks I have ever spent in my life. You have never seen someone as happy as that cute old lady when I brought her that music. When I left, she was wheeling herself to the piano room to start playing.

I'll bet everyone in that home will be so glad to NOT hear "I'll be Home for Christmas."

So, how did we do this year?

Speaking of the assisted living facility where I volunteer, I spent money on the woman who plays piano. She has had the same old songbooks for YEARS, and so I went on eBay and got her five more for $5. I'm gonna take them over to her today.

This cheat got me to thinking. It was exactly a year ago that Marvin and I were out to dinner in Westwood, and I was reading a $5 yoga magazine -- because I'm polite during dinner that way -- about people who made an effort to not spend money. I said to Marvin, "Let's do this" and he said "Okay." So that's how we got ourselves into this mess.

But I wondered, is there anything I haven't cheated and spent on this year?

The rules were: no restaurants, no gifts, no vacations, no shopping, no grooming, no entertainment.

Gifts. See above. Also, before I left my job in LA, I got a baby shower gift for a woman at work. But I have NOT gotten wedding gifts for anyone, next week is Marvin's birthday and all he gets is a dinner of whatever he wants, and I am making Christmas gifts.

This is pretty good for someone who spent over $1,000 on birthday gifts in ONE week last year.

And who spent $1,200 on Christmas last year.

Trips. Yep. Cheated here, too. We went to Cape Cod for a wedding. And we are going to Wisconsin for Christmas.

Restaurants. Well, this has certainly been curtailed dramatically from how we used to eat out. Which was daily. But we did eat at restaurants the whole time we drove from California to here, and also before our kitchen stuff got here. And we do cheat and go to, like, Subway sometimes. But still, way better than we used to be.

Grooming. So far this year I have not had my eyebrows done, nor have I paid for a mani or pedi. Someone bought me a pedi in May. I currently have rhinoceros hooves.

I have been dyeing my own hair, which I will be excited to stop doing. Excited to get my hair cut, too. I have not had facials, massages, reikki, chakra cleansing or any of the other ridiculous things I used to have done for entertainment. I am Nair-ing my own Clark Gable facial hair.

Shopping. The only time I bought stuff this year was when I had job interviews. Both times I turned down the job. Money poorly spent. Other than that, my clothes are a travesty. I look awful most of the time.

Oh, you know what? I also bought a dress and shoes for that wedding in Cape Cod. Yeesch.

Entertainment. We are doing well on this one. Went to a drive-in movie with Aunt Mary in September, and one of the last nights we were in LA, our house was completely empty except for an air mattress, so we saw The Simpsons movie at the Egyptian, which is a great theater. Other than that, we are really finding free things to do.

Also, we do not have cable here in North Carolina, and we did before. It sucks.

I have not bought myself books or magazines, which I like to do.

Marvin has not gone to see bands, which he likes to do.

So, in a nutshell, we have not been so perfect, but we certainly have gone with a lot less than usual. Plus, despite moving everything across the country, and making $100,000 less the second half of the year, we STILL have $8,000 to our names. Which is pretty good considering we maybe had $150 in savings last year at this time.

Honestly, though, you should see my feet. Pan called. Wants his hooves back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mouse Tale

I can assure you that we were not the winners of cow bingo. All I know is that they expected the cow to poop at noon, and she held off till 3:00. I would too if everyone in town were watching me.

In other news, I went to see Miss Lilly yesterday, as I do every Tuesday and Thursday. We were listening to her book on tape -- and I must tell you that plot is getting exciting. The other day our chapter ended with a man coming up behind our heroine, and you could hear Miss Lilly and me going, "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" all the way down the hall.

So we're listening to our story yesterday when I noticed a MOUSE run into her ROOM! I wish there had been a camera trained on me. Cause I know I sat there, shocked and motionless, for a good minute at least. Now, Miss Lilly is blind, so she had no CLUE what was happening. After a minute, the dang thing poked its nose out from behind her dresser (the mouse, not Miss Lilly) and I turned off that tape.

"Miss Lilly. There is a MOUSE in here."

"Whaaaaattt!?!" Her eyes were huge.

"I am gonna go get help. He's way over on the other side of the room. Are you scared?"

"YES!"

So I ran RIGHT PAST that mouse, and I totally gave it the "tell it to the hand" flick of my wrist, like it was gonna understand that. "Oh, that person with all the hair is telling me to tell it to the hand. Well, then I won't jump on her leg. Glad she signaled me."

It seemed like every nurse in the place was missing. What if there had been a real emergency? I'm sure poor sightless Miss Lilly, stuck in her room with vermin, felt like it was a real emergency. Finally, I found everyone in this office, where I think they were trying to convince a family to stick their mom in there or something. I signaled wildly. I didn't want to screw up their sale.

I got help and stood at Miss Lilly's door, telling her they were gonna get that mouse out of there right away. I would not have crossed that threshold for a million bucks. And do you know that thing kept CREEPING out and LOOKING at me?

At this point, Miss Lilly was thinking this was hilarious. I kept telling her where the mouse was, and how it was still nowhere near her. Finally some really brave nurse came in and just moved stuff till she saw it.

I kept thinking of my no-nonsense friend Lisa, who grew up in the country. She would totally have moved furniture too. She would have picked up that mouse by its squirmy tail and thrown it outside and gone on with her day. She is also able to puke at work and go on with her workday.

I am not so tough.

So, I have to go back there tomorrow. I am thinking of leaving my purse in my car. I am also thinking of taking one of the cats with me.

I will not be eating cheese at any point between now and then.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Yeah, but it's not all bad here

I left at 1:22 to mail a package. There were three people ahead of me in line.

I am home at 1:30. ONE-THIRTY! It took me eight minutes to go to the post office, wait in line, mail my package and drive home.

In LA it would have taken a week and a half.

Also, tonight is the Rotary Barbecue and Cow Bingo. I am afraid I bought us two tickets to said event, at 6 dollars a pop.

To play cow bingo, you select a square on the field, and if the cow poops on your square, you win $1,000. Everyone think positive, poopy thoughts about us!

Monday, November 5, 2007

I Heart Stupid-Ass L.A.

There is this woman who blogs, Anne. Marvin Gardens has been reading her forever. Anyway, she lives in L.A., right near our old neighborhood.

Now, you know what I should not do? I should not read her blog.

On her Flicker account (or is it Flickr? If so, why? Why do things have to be misspelled? It isn't cool. It isn't charming. It's just annoying.), she has photos of a bad accident that happened right in front of Paramount studios.

I lived RIGHT THERE. I mean, I didn't live in the studio, but I drove past it every single ding-day day. This is how self-centered I am. I'm looking at pictures of a terrible ACCIDENT, and all I can do is think that I miss LA so much I can't even breathe right.

Even talking to my friends there is hard. They'll say stuff that they don't even know breaks my heart. One friend was talking about her rock climbing and her ping-pong and her movie festivals, and I wouldn't really want to do ANY of those things, but you know what? I want them to be OFFERED. I want to KNOW they are THERE. Just like I knew Prada was over there on Rodeo Drive and I couldn't afford a dang thing in it. I just want to be near that stuff.

I know it's only been three months. I may come to think of LA as a giant nightmare. My current commute takes 45 seconds, and the one in LA took an hour each way. Maybe I'll adjust.

But what if I don't?

Church Lady Goes to Work

Today is my first official day as church secretary. I was training all last week. It was terrifying. You have no idea how much THOUGHT goes into one hour of church.

Yesterday I actually went to church so I could see everyone reading the bulletin I made this past week. I sat behind this couple who picked up the bulletin and started whispering furiously to each other and shaking their heads. Oh, I wanted to vomit throughout that entire service.

At the very end, the minister made the announcements I had typed on the back of said nightmarish bulletin, and when he said the flowers on the altar were given in honor of Ella Jones' birthday, the people in front of me said, "Emma! It's EMMA!"

Well, okay then. I swear to you, I really mean it, the note I was given, written by God knows who, said Ella. I am a proofreader. I can assure you it said Ella.

Anyway, I made sure to apologize to them after. The minister's wife told me one time a woman named Joan Whitehead had died, and in that week's bulletin she'd somehow written Joan Shithead.

So things could be worse.

Talk at you after my hard-hitting job.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A "Must" Have

I found something else I want to buy, but of course I won't.

Our house smells musty to me. There is a basement, and big vents on the floor, so it is my assumption the basement kind of floats up through the vents.

Marvin Gardens doesn't smell it.

Then my car, which I just recently got back from my mother, smells musty, too. I think rain got in or something.

Marvin doesn't smell it.

So yesterday I was perusing Home Trends catalog. And in there, $20 for two, they had these bags you could hang up and musty odor is gone! I told Marvin and he said, "Get them. You can stick them up each nostril."

He thinks I am having hysterical musty-smelling episodes or something.

Does anyone else get ridiculous Home Trends catalog? My grandmother used to get it, and my father and I would pee ourselves reading it. I can tell you right off that Home "Trends" might be a little optimistic. It is more Home "Needless Things That Old Ladies Buy" catalog.

And if you think my grandmother wasn't their best customer. I recently watched a video of Grammy from 1989 and she is cooking. I do not mean that she had her own cooking show, although she could have.

Welcome to Cooking With the Woman Who Hates You if You're Not Related!

"Hi, I'm Evelyn. Get the hell out of my kitchen."

What I MEAN is, I was looking at home movies of Grammy, and on the fridge was this white disk with holes in it. I'm supposed to be cherishing the memories of my grandmother, and all I can do is think about that disk. What is it?

It was a spaghetti server from Home Trends catalog. There are different-size holes so if you want to cook two servings of spaghetti, you stick enough through that hole, or use the larger hole for six servings, etc.

Do you see what I mean? Things no one really needs, things that basically screw up the environment and cost needless dollars, and Grammy was ALL OVER THEM.

She had these fur-lined stands to put her glasses in at night, as opposed to just placing them on the nightstand like everybody else. She had an iced-tea MAKER, which of course you need, cause you couldn't be bothered to throw tea bags in a jug. No, sir.

So when she died, my father subscribed us both to that catalog. Sometimes we get on the phone and page through it together, giggling hysterically at the giant tent you climb in to get your hair cut (it catches the hair) or the five-feet-long toenail clippers.

Then what do you think happened? My father took Grammy's glasses holders and started using them for his OWN reading glasses, and he started raving about how convenient they were. Next thing you know, he sent me two from the catalog, and do you know they're kind of nice?

And now I want the de-muster.

You see? You can't run from your heritage.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Being a hypochondriac is free

I was at the library today, and I decided I had that antibiotic-resistant staph disease. What is it? SARS? MERF? MILF? I forget.

There was a list at the library that tells you the symptoms of whatever it's called, and I had ALL THE SYMPTOMS.

You should know what in my lifetime I have diagnosed myself with spinal meningitis, an aneurysm, yellow fever, Lyme disease and sickle cell anemia.

I wish the above were just diseases I thought of that sounded bad so I listed them, but no, I really mean it. Sometimes I even go to the doctor to get tested, but then I had like nine doctors in a row QUIT or DIE, so I stopped pursuing these things and decided to suffer in silence.

Again, I wish the above paragraph were an exaggeration to be funny, but again, I am not making this up.

So you can imagine Marvin Gardens' delight when I called him at work, from the parking lot of the library, to tell him I had that SERF or TURF or whatever. (WHAT is it called? Is forgetting the name of it a symptom?)

Well. When I told Marvin about my disease du jour, he was snappish! That man has no heart. "I'm standing here with 50 screaming kids," he groused. "Well, don't answer your phone, then," I groused back. I have a DISEASE, after all. I can be crabby. It's probably the fever talking.

Anyway, I drove home from the library, thinking about how much I hate it when people answer their cell phones when they cannot talk. Seriously? If you can't talk, DON'T PICK UP THE PHONE! Or if you need to let the caller know you're alive, pick up and say, "Hi! I can't talk!" But don't let the person tell you about their new scary antibiotic-resistant disease and them blow them off so they feel like a fool.

When I got inside, the phone was ringing and it was Marvin.

"WHAT," I said.

"You have to get to the school right away. There are 10 puppies in -- "

"I'll be right there," I said.

I got in the car at 2:27, and got to the school at 2:31. I would have screamed over there sooner but some guy with a Confederate flag bumper sticker was driving like seven miles an hour ahead of me.

Do you know in the back yard facing Marvin's school there are 10 of the sweetest boxer puppies you ever did see? Oh! They're cute! I watched them for the longest time, while every fifth grader in the county said, "Mr. Gardens, is that your wife?"

After asking Marvin if we could have one, oh, maybe 49 times, I left, to the sound of every fifth grader in the county saying, "Goodbye, Mr. Gardens' wife!"

You know? I think I recovered from my disease.

The Wife Takes a Nurse. (And why does the poor cheese stand alone? Humiliating.)

At one o'clock, FedEx is coming to pick up a box of junk I have proofread. It is 8:39 a.m. Do you think that box is ready to go? Or do you think it's still calling my name, filled with errors that need my red pen?

And do you think I JUMPED right onto that work today? Or did I blog first?

Why do I have the self-discipline of Britney Spears?

So, I will very quickly tell you why I have gathered you all here today.

I drew my cousin's name for our Christmas gift exchange. She is going to nursing school. Here is my brilliant and free idea.

I'm making her a book of nursing tips! If you know a nurse, please help me. I want to get 100 pieces of advice. Which, by the way, IS spelled a-d-v-i-c-e. You have no idea how many emails I have already gotten titled "Nursing advise."

So, I just need:
1. Anything you'd tell a new nurse or anything you've learned through the years.
2. Your first name.
3. Number of years you've been a nurse.

Direct your nurse friends here.

They can comment here or hit "email" in the View My Complete Profile section at right, or tell them my email is manpolly@gmail.com.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Several people in my family are funnier than me

I had to share this with the world at large.

My father is on a road trip, driving the coast from Los Angeles to Seattle. He has had his top down, and remembered to wear sunscreen after the first day when, in his words, he looked like the bottom of a thermometer.

Anyway, yesterday he went into a little place for lunch. A woman sat down at the counter near him. She said to the waiter, "I don't know what I want to drink. I'm looking for something hot and alcoholic."

My father yelled, "Hey! Sitting right here next to ya!"

In case you thought he might have, he did not succeed in picking her up.

Post-Halloween Grave Situation


Did you know I have nieces? As an only child, I didn't know if I'd get any, but the secret is to marry someone whose siblings procreate.

Anyway. When I went to the store to get candy yesterday, a man working there was dressed as a country bumpkin. Freckles, overalls, hay.

Well.

I hate to state the obvious, but you are in a town of 3,000 people. We are surrounded by cotton fields, horses and not much else. Do you think maybe the country bumpkin attire was a tad redundant? Is this outfit as opposed to your normal, city slicker look that you sport when you're dashing around town in a cab to get to meetings in one of our many high rises?

...There was a sort of festival uptown last night, and all the businesses had sidewalk events and gave out candy, and every single little boy dressed as Spiderman. Now, I know I am dense, but I did not attend movies this year and I do not have kids. Was there a Spiderman movie out this year?

There were many, many girls wearing princess ensembles. Now, these were my peeps. Every year I managed to be a princess, a fairy, or a fairy princess. Excepting the year my father made me a robot costume, which garnered me first prize at school.

We also went to the church where I am now employed, as they had a bonfire and a hot dog roast. I officially knew everyone there, which was fun. There is one woman, who I adore, who beelined over to Marvin Gardens after she hugged me. I knew she was gonna give him shit for not going to church ever.

She said, "Now, I know you're a Jew. That doesn't mean you can't come to church."

Have I mentioned I love her? I love old women, I really do. I guess it's because they often have no filter anymore. They just go ahead and say it.

So, that is all the Halloween news that's fit to print, but before I go, I have a NEW dilemma.

There is a giant tombstone right in front of my grandparents' graves. It is annoying. I have looked into it, and we can MOVE their stones six feet away and give them their OWN large tombstone.

I have had big plans to write a letter to our entire family, asking people to chip in for this if they want to.

I have been bugging my mother for months to go to the cemetery to take a picture of the graves, so everyone could see just how bad their current situation is. She never took the pictures, so when I was home, I took them myself.

But guess what? I didn't have a digital camera, so I would have to actually get my photos developed, and that is not ALLOWED. There is no way I can say this is a valid expense. So those dang photos will have to sit there till New Year's day. Annoying.