Bounce Your Cares Away

We bought a trampoline for the express purpose of saving money. Yes, a $300 play thing for the yard was an investment because it’s my sincere hope that our youngest child will get some of her energy out by bouncing up and down on the second most dangerous childhood toy after lawn jarts. If this works the way I plan, we can stop spending $800 a year on generic Ritalin from a Canadian online pharmacy.

But since we’ve always known she’s autistic and not stupid, the trampoline hasn’t worked out exactly as I planned. She’s learned that she can just lie down on the trampoline and coerce other people into bouncing on it for it. She gets launched in the air by their efforts and doesn’t have to do a lick of work.

My husband is her typical victim. He walks in the door after a long day at work, loosens his tie, and is pounced upon. She smiles sweetly, bats her eyelashes, and says, “Daddy, would you come outside and be my friend?” He falls for it every single time because he’s a good man.

Here’s the problem: Our back yard faces a rather busy highway and we have a wooden privacy fence around the property, so all the people traveling that highway are treated to a daily carnival side show act of a 250-pound middle-aged man going to town on a trampoline. He’s putting so much effort into propelling our daughter in weightless oblivion, but he ends up looking like the saddest recruit ever to audition for Cirque du Soleil. The motorists can’t see the little kid sprawled on the trampoline, they just see my husband. Enjoying his toy.

Enjoy the show as much as I do.

You Don’t Have to Click on this, It’s Not a Really Good Post

Yup, it’s sheer laziness that has kept me from posting anything all week. In my defense, I’ve been busy. No, seriously, I mean it this time.

You’re gonna be seein’ this image when you close your eyes tonight.

It’s weird how even when you’re really busy there’s still time to get sucked into the black hole of playing around on the internet. My downfall is Pinterest. Going to Pinterest is like Alice falling down that rabbit hole and spending about a week or so in Wonderland and when she comes back up it’s still only about five minutes after she left the party. Except when I go on Pinterest and get sucked into looking at other people’s favorite pictures for three hours, it is actually three hours later when I finally dig my way out.

Of course, when Pinterest first came on the scene I had to get in on it, only because it was by invitation only. There’s no way I’m not accepting an invitation to a website that only us A-listers can go to. The rest of y’all can just wait behind this velvet rope until the man with the earpiece decides if you’re hot enough to come into this party. I might be confusing Pinterest with something cool like a movie premier or a bookstore opening.

So since my busy week has kept me from having the brain cells to think of anything (including what we’re going to eat for dinner), here are links to my favorite boards. If you don’t know how this works, be careful: you will emerge three hours later.

My this-crap-makes-me-laugh board:

My I-wish-I-lived-on-Martha’s-Vineyard-so-my-house-would-look-like-this board:

My favorite-books-whose-covers-have-appeared-on-the-internet-as-a-jpg-file-so-I-could-Easily-click-on-them-and-put-them-on-Pinterest-without-going-to-a-lot-of-effort board:

My these-pictures-are-so-cool-someone-really-should-make-them-into-a-calendar-and-sell-it-like-that-Greenpeace-calendar board:

How Come I’m Not The Incredible Hulk?

A few weeks ago I finally caved in to the peer pressure from my screaming cervical vertebrae and went to the doctor. It didn’t go well. After the nurse caught me live-tweeting pictures of the blood spatter on the exam room garbage can, the doctor poked and prodded and announced that I have neck arthritis. I guess if you have to have arthritis anywhere, your neck is as good a place as any because even if you have to hold it really still you can kind of function.

The doctor wanted to let the nurse (the same one who frowned when I asked her to pose by the exam glove dispenser for my Tweet) give me cortisone shots in my neck but I had to respectfully decline. These people can’t seem to change a garbage can liner without spraying human blood everywhere. You’re not injecting my spinal cord.

So he sent me home with a steroid pack and I have to say I am really disappointed. I can’t open a jar any better than I could before I took those pills. My neck still hurts and I still can’t lift my car. I was gipped.

This is not a human. It's a balloon animal. Seriously, he can't clap his hands in front of him.

If I’m going to have to suffer the side effects, or rather, make my husband suffer from my having side effects, I should at least get to have radioactive spidey-powers. At the very least I’d like to see through walls so I can find my kids’ shoes in the morning. It would be nice to be able to have super-sniffing so I can find the source of that strange smell without having to move the refrigerator. After all, I’m not strong enough to do that by myself.

I am, however, using the excuse of being afflicted with ‘Roid Rage as an excuse for being bitchy at people. Whenever I snark at someone or jump in front of them in line at the grocery store, I just let them know that I’m on steroids and I could have roundhouse-kicked them instead. Just don’t let them know that I’m not even strong enough to work the can opener.

Enter the starfish

So there I was in a gay bar in New Orleans. How I ended up there isn’t part of the funny story, nor is how I got out of there. There’s no really great anecdote about meeting an animal rights’ activist in said bar who is so drunk he’s wearing a mink coat or finding out our waitress was a pre-operative cross dressing nursing student slash stripper. And to be located in the Big Easy, it was a very tame location and actually fairly classy, at least as much as any bar in New Orleans can be.

The trip started with my going to New Orleans with two of my dear uber-gay friends. You’re already thinking that you’ve seen this cliché before: the smart alecky artsy writer woman with her two queenish boys who flit around her as we compare shoe shopping stories in loud voices littered with obscenities, drinking fruity alcoholic drinks and complaining about the calories. Not a chance. These two men in particular could fold you like a boring book and use you to prop a window open, after setting their beers down, that is. Basically, we’re from the South…just picture two rednecks who happen to dress really well.

It is shockingly difficult to find a gay bar in New Orleans. Here in small town Alabama people might assume that New Orleans is just lousy with establishments that cater to homosexuals but it’s not true. The three of us walked the cobblestones for ages, searching the rooftops for a tell-tale rainbow flag fluttering happily from the exquisite architecture. By the time we got in, got a table, and ordered something to drink, I was in desperate need of the restroom. I excused myself (I said this place was classy, use the manners Mama gave you) and found the ladies’ room down a very dark, very ominously sticky hallway. Only there was no ladies’ room. Or a men’s room, for that matter.

It was a single-stall unisex bathroom.

Now, if I was a prejudiced person I wouldn’t have been in the gay bar with my two gay friends in the first gay place. I am a mostly liberal person who fully stands by my “live and let live” outlook on life. But that bathroom tested the limits of my core beliefs. You know the concept of…ahem…”hovering?” Forget it. When you find yourself in possibly the most ill-used bathroom in New Orleans that isn’t actually at the bus station, you must starfish. Arms out, feet wide, don’t touch anything. Pray for good aim. Take a Silkwood shower at the first opportunity.

And I don’t feel at all bad for a being a little stodgy about that potty. Here is what much of homophobic America cannot understand. I wasn’t grossed out by the restroom because it was in a gay bar; no, I want to know which rocket surgeon decided men and women who are not related should ever share a bathroom in a major metropolitan city. Without a hazmat suit? I wasn’t afraid because gay men are the main clientele of that unfortunate toilet, it’s because any kind of men use it.

Maybe it’s because I now live in a town that did not come up smelling like roses during the Civil Rights Era, but I’ve noticed that racism is far from dead. It’s just been shoved in the closet. Now that it is socially unacceptable to air your dumb-assed beliefs on people of other races, someone decided that it’s perfectly fine to say terrible things out loud about gay people. Some of those people hide behind the Bible, others hide behind whispered rumors about pedophiles, and still others (seriously, sit down for this one) claim that gay people are rabidly recruiting heterosexuals, actually preying on straight people in order to turn them gay.

Folks, the gays are not having covert membership drives. In fact, straight people kind of piss them off. We’re smug and we dress badly and when TicketMaster gets tickets to Cher’s ninety-third final farewell concert we don’t understand why that’s a big deal and we refuse to take out second mortgages on our homes in order to buy two seats on the floor in the fifth row. We blame gay people for all the ills of society, everything from AIDS to why Whole Foods is doing so well as a business model. We like to snicker behind our hands and roll our eyes at the mildly effeminate baristo at Starbucks but certainly don’t mind that we just paid him to manhandle a cup of mocha chai latte so we can suck it down our judgmental hetero gullets.

The gays (as old people in the South think they are politely referring to them as) really just want us to go away a little bit, at least until we get a better attitude. Can’t say that I blame them. Care about your fellow man, people, whether he’s gay or straight or bi or tri or what have you. But stay out of my bathroom if you know what’s good for you.

It’s FREE Books!

Tonight is the last night to sign up for the free book and extras giveaway at YAhighway! Isn’t it neat how I told you about it with only a couple of hours til the deadline? That just about guarantees that I win! Check it out, readers:


My child is medically evil

I’ve mentioned my daughter is autistic and I’ve discovered that people with any form of disability or diagnosis seem to feel entitled to a lot of leeway from the rest of the world. I think that’s why medical science is coming up with new diseases all the time; it’s out excuse to get by with the crap that we can’t get by with if we are actually normal. My husband’s not a jerk, he actually suffers from Low T. I didn’t just cut you off in traffic, my foot slipped off the brake due to my Restless Leg Syndrome.

My child learned a long time ago that everything and anything she says is pure gold. Everyone is just so thrilled to death that she talks that she can say pretty much whatever is on her mind. If the thoughts pops in her head it’s bound to come flying out of her mouth. For example, she struggled to tell me that she would like the peanut butter flavor of her cereal bars. I praised her sentence, then told her that we could buy that kind the next time we went to the store. However, I reminded her that she would have to eat them at home since her school does not allow peanut products. She said, “Some kids are allergic.” I praised her again, both for the words and the logic. But then she said, “And they have to die.” Now I was about to correct her by telling her that the word she wanted was could, as in they could die, but since this is my child, I realized she very well have meant that if the genetic freaks who were born allergic to food would just hurry up and die, she could eat her snack.

Of course, the apple didn’t land on its head too far from the tree, since I have only recently developed my own mouth filter. Within the last five years I’ve learned to not call my boss names to his face, to stop telling people my dog has mange (it’s actually just really shaved since I despise dog hair), and to stop making fun of other people’s colleges of choice just because my college is better. At everything. My husband is also afflicted with this same diagnosis, so basically due to poor genetics our children were destined to have absolutely no ability to not say something unintentionally (or intentionally) cruel. Our ten-year-old (the supposedly normal one) got in trouble at school for telling a classmate with a new haircut that she had car-wreck bangs; she tearfully explained to the principal that the term is actually the correct hairdresser jargon for that style of short, Audrey Hepburn straight bangs and it’s not her fault that some idiot in beauty school named them that.

All in all, I can’t decide which end of the spectrum makes the world a better place: complete and total ugly-as-paint-on-a-pig honesty, or filtering every single comment through the Nice-o-Meter. Obviously I’d want to know if these pants make my butt look big, I just don’t want to hear it from you. I’m sure my child will be happy to tell me at some point.

The To Do List

The only thing better than getting stuff done is making out a really incredible list of things I’m going to get done. I’m not one to slack off by haphazardly going about the house and straightening here and there, oh no, I have supremely, larger-than-life to do lists. Today’s list included running ten miles, repainting a bedroom, unraveling fourteen strands of white Christmas lights leftover from a street fair booth six years ago, learning to use the new fancy corkscrew my husband bought me several birthdays ago, cleaning up all of the Legos that are spread throughout the playroom, and rolling out a pie crust to make a pot pie for dinner tomorrow. I completely figured out how to use the corkscrew to open a bottle of wine and once I had crossed that item off my list I couldn’t get anything else finished. I did drag the bottle of wine and one glass up to the playroom and cleaned up Legos for an hour and a half; it’s amazing how much you can enjoy a task while having wine.

I did accomplish a few tasks that weren’t on the to do list: I accidentally found the charger cord to my cell phone three phone upgrades ago, finally watched two of the movies on my Netflix queue but one of them was a dolphin documentary so I don’t know if that one counts, knit half of the scarf my daughter wants to wear as Hermione Granger for Halloween, and made a loaf of French bread. While I was running what turned out to be only four miles instead of the aforementioned ten, I did think up a whole new fantastic concept for a sock, which I fully intend to patent and become rich from if I ever get around to finding out how you patent something. The day was also not wasted as I took the kids to see the Nanny McPhee sequel, bought a lime green skillet, and found another bottle of wine in the cabinet (nope, I didn’t drink it, just was ultra-pleased to have found it).

It’s amazing how you can waste a day and get so much done. If I only had another four hours left in today, I could have made my own peperoncini vinegar, brewed a cup of homemade chai, and embroidered a throw pillow. Good thing I have some paper to put down a list…

It’s really not funny…

Wait, I know what you’re thinking…why should I read something that tells you up front how not funny it is? Because it really is funny. Almost everything is. Case in point: I attended my grandfather’s funeral last summer. He ended his life after discovering he had cancer. That was really sad. However, three women who showed up for the funeral and were later discovered to be at the wrong funeral talked through the entire service. That’s weirdly funny. A motorcycle gang wandered in during the viewing to pay their respects. That’s bizarrely funny, too. Then the staff of the funeral home looked at my two slightly pudgy brothers, my senior citizen father, and the one male cousin we had who happens to have a severe limp, decided they didn’t have much to work with, and that’s how I became a pall bearer. That’s completely funny. Like I said, everything is funny in its own way.

I have a child who has autism, which falls under Not Funny. She’s afraid of bananas, which is horrifically funny. She hoards stuffed animals, including ones that belong to other people, which isn’t funny, but she discriminates against her Sesame Street Grover doll because she can’t decide what he is; we find him stashed all over the house, including one time when she threw him in a closet wearing a homemade sign around his neck that said, “I am not an animal.” That’s really funny, even though she’s never seen The Elephant Man or the Robin Williams routine.

I’m also an avid runner, which to other runners, isn’t funny at all. Running is serious business to most runners. I fall down a lot when I run because I have huge feet. While it’s not more than mildly amusing to me, God’s been laughing at it for years. You don’t get to tell God something’s not funny.

So this blog will be all about the stuff that happens that might be funny or might not be funny. If you take anyone’s problems, surely some jerk out there can laugh at it. Of course, I’m ADD (which is not funny) so the blog will also ramble about running, my favorite recipes, and whatever noise my car happens to make that week. Sit back, enjoy, and think to yourself, “I could be reading the posts at instead.”

How to be a writer

I’ve spent several years trying and I’ve finally figured out how to be a writer.  I’ve learned from the greats, like Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner.  Certainly Salinger was a student of this school of writing, along with Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, et al.

Take up heavy drinking.

While writing my first novel, I sat slumped over my keyboard one day with my most morose expression on my face.  My nine-year-old came along and asked what was wrong.

“I’m so tired of these two characters!” I wailed.  “I just want them to hurry up and DIE!”

“So kill them,” she answered blithely.  “It’s your book.”

“I can’t,” I cried.  “The sequel will suck if I kill them!”

“Hmmm.  That’s a problem,” she answered, before getting herself a soda and heading back upstairs, leaving me to hang out with these two whiny losers for several more hours.

I read an article in Teen Ink Magazine (fabulous journal, written entirely by teenaged students) about National Novel Writing Month, and decided that would be exactly the break I needed from my two teen-angst-ridden characters.  Since it was already late October, I had plenty of research and thinking to do in order to be ready on the first.

Eighteen days later I held a manuscript that was such a refreshing change that it had practically written itself.  Okay, it’s no Moby Dick, but I finished it and printed out my Winner certificate, leaving a small-but-appreciated donation to the head organization, The Office of Letters and Light.

 Enter the heavy drinking.  I don’t want to go talk to those two whiners again.  And now I have no excuse not to.  The speed-novel is done and submitted, and now I have to buckle down and stop pretending I’m spending a month-long hiatus on something creative.  Ugh.

 Maybe it’s not too late to kill them.  More likely, maybe it’s not too late to make them less whiny.  Only time will tell.