The Happiest Place on Earth Depresses Me!

You can get very dizzy spinning around in the Happiest Place on Earth.

You can get very dizzy spinning around in the Happiest Place on Earth.

Intelligent children (who are well-organized and can understand calendars and priorities) are a dangerous thing.  Yes, I was coerced by little people who cannot vote, serve in the armed forces, drink, drive, gamble or plan a balanced meal – –  but who, with the knowledge that our Yearly Passes expire soon – –  were able to force me to Disneyland.

Yesterday was a Wednesday, so I anticipated the excursion would be rather harmless.  But that was before I realized an entire Los Angeles suburb decided to schedule their school district’s Easter Vacation  (called Spring Break these days?) almost a whole month before the “Bunny Carrying Candy Laden Basket” holiday itself.

Walt would have a Panic attack to see what a (crowded) “Small World” it really is with this mob scene!

As I wandered thru the entrance, congratulating myself for being a Passholder and bypassing the long lines out at the ticked booths, I consulted a custom Disney guide that my older college son had written for me – –  “How to Best Optimize Your Time Without Losing Your Mind.”  He knew me well.

It seems that building one amusement park (centered around a smiling rodent with a squeaky voice) is not enough; someone decided to add on “California Adventures” while subliminally suggesting to parents that they can double their fun if they go back and forth between BOTH ride/show/parade infested Arenas – – thus the two-for-one “Theme Park Hopper” was born.

You must meet a height requirement but you don't need to know American Sign Language on this ride.  (demonstrated by rude guy sitting behind my children)

You must meet a height requirement but you don’t need to know American Sign Language on this ride. (demonstrated by rude guy sitting behind my children)

I sent my children, who meet the height requirements for all the scary rides (“Twilight Tower of Terror” will age a person faster than any menopausal symptom ever will) ahead of me to go on Space Mountain.  Meanwhile, I was supposed to (according to my son’s detailed guide) go stand in a different line, thus reducing the minutes their impatient little bodies would need to stand around in order to ride on Splash Mountain.  Yes! Disneyland likes the mountain theme.  A lot.  So there’s Space, Splash, Thunder and even a realistic snow-capped mountain which is supposed to resemble the Alpine Peaks called the Matterhorn.

But you don’t need to know any of this.  All you need to remember is a made-up word called “FASTPASS.”

Is a FASTPASS A Slow Boat to China?

Me:  Hi there.  Is this long line to go on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain or Thunder Mountain?  My son wrote me a guide specifying that we should ride those first before they get too crowded.

Line-Stander:  None of those.  This line is actually for FASTPASS.

Me:  Oh!  How tall do you have to be to ride FASTPASS?

Line-Stander:  Uh, Lady . . . I think you better consult your guide again.

And that’s when I saw it!  These people were standing in a zig-zagging line all around Tomorrow-Land to obtain an official time-stamped card that would entitle them to return later in the day for a few select popular rollercoaster rides. You’re getting this, right?  A line to organize you to stand in another line.  It’s brilliant in a way that I cannot fathom.

  Essentially A FASTPASS is a reservation for a specific time to Vomit!

And not only that, people were running around all over Disneyland, (standing in these hour-long queues)  to collect bunches of these special little cards, like you would collect valuable property deeds in Monopoly.  In fact, at a ride called “Grizzly River Run Rapids,” the line to get issued a FASTPASS was actually far longer than the short five minute line to get jostled around on the raft itself.photo-268

Me:  Excuse me, but what are you doing over here?  Why don’t you just go floating down this cold, dirty river right now?

Line-Stander:  Our family doesn’t like to get wet first thing in the morning.

Me:  (taking a step back) Oh, so none of you have taken a shower yet??

And get this – – not only do you need to keep track of when you can “check-in” to the attraction you want to visit, but at the bottom of this highly prized card (in teeny, tiny print) is another time-stamp which tells you when you are able to acquire your next FASTPASS.  So my cellphone was constantly ringing and buzzing with different alarms and timers, alerting me when I should do all of these things.

And some of these (Free) FASTPASSES get “Sold-Out” by 10 am.  That’s right – –  You wait in a long line and make your way nearly to the front, (where a revered machine dispenses these hot little devils) when suddenly a very brave Disney Worker (officially deemed “A Cast Member,” possibly because they dress up as animated characters, but more likely because they will soon play the part of a murder victim) places a large placard up that states, “There will be no more FASTPASSES Available today.”  And then he quickly “ducks.”  Yes, like Donald.

IMG_1987Arriving late for your time slot is another total disaster unless you have a good reason for being Tardy.  Captain Hook refused to let us fly to NeverLand with Peter Pan until I came up with an alibi – –  we got stuck on one of their old, broken-down trains, PLUS we had to go to the First-Aid Station after Mary Poppins purposely tripped my youngest with her umbrella.  He bought that story after I told him that he could sue Disney for his missing arm.

Walt Would Have Turned Over in His Grave, But First He’d Need a FASTPASS to Do It!

Now let’s get one thing straight.  I arrived at Disneyland at 8 am. and by 5 pm, I had put in a good day’s work.  My shift was over and I was ready to punch out. I had even taken to whistling that wretched Disney tune, “Hi-Ho, It’s Home From Work We Go.”  The only problem was that we still had those darn coveted FASTPASSES for three of the most insanely wild rides in the park.  And they could not be used until 7 pm.  My children would not budge toward the parking lot.

But of course, this was a non-issue for a clever “Cast Member” like myself.  Nobody here had seen the likes of Acting anywhere close to what this Drama Queen can perform.  I sprinkled water from that disgusting River across my face, flung my hand dramatically up to my forehead, and approached someone in a Disney Prince costume.  I wisely refrained from batting my eyes flirtatiously in Mr. Charming’s direction.

Me:  Excuse me.  My children have waited all day long to use these FASTPASSES that aren’t valid until two hours from now.  As you can see, I feel quite faint and was wondering if you might let these Poor Innocents ride just a bit early?

Prince Charming:  Your skin does look White as Snow.  I’ll make an exception for your “Little Dwarfs” just this once.  Perhaps you might like to lie down in that glass coffin around the corner.

Me:  (Dirty Look) Thank you.  You’re a Prince.

Well, that was easy-peasy, extra queasy!   At the next ride, I feigned a stomach-ache and someone who looked like Goldilocks said perhaps I should go easy on all that porridge.  But Yes!  She would let my “Three Little Bears” on the ride early to help me out.  Bless her little heart of gold, (which was not too soft and not too hard.)

So I was onto something here!  At the third and final ride of the day, I approached an Alice in Wonderland lookalike and made my case of a twisted ankle, limping convincingly up to the entrance.  She admonished me to be careful walking around White Rabbit Holes, but agreed to let my children on if they could smile like the Cheshire Cat for her.

Just as my three well-trained kids were breaking into that goofy feline grin, out stepped Prince Charming and Goldilocks from behind some mouse ear-shaped bushes  (you’ll never convince me they weren’t doing what I thought they were doing back there) and informed a shocked Alice that my legs worked perfectly fine. Still I was a VERY sick woman, they emphasized, proceeding to recount how I already had a headache, a stomach-ache, and I could faint any minute now.  But I definitely did NOT have a sore leg.  For shame!  Was this any kind of example to set for my children??

Alice In Wonderland:  What kind of parent demonstrates your brand of deceitfulness?

Me:  (tossing our FASTPASSES in her face)  An Evil StepMother!  C’mon kids…we’re going home before the clock strikes midnight.

Kids:  (whining) But we’re still Hungry.

Me:  (cackling maniacally) Oh, just hush up and eat your Poison Apples!!

Pluto, giving my son a hug because he has such a "wicked witch" of a mother!

Pluto, giving my son a consoling hug because he has such a “Wicked Witch” of a mother!

 

 

 

 

 

Forget “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover!”

photo-261Can you stay friends with your Ex?? Some people might think there’s a word missing from that sentence. It’s supposed to say Ex-Smoker or an Ex-Sister-in-law or an Ex-Con, right?  Um, no.  Just plain Ex.  As in your Ex-Spouse or Ex-boy/girlfriend.  Well in that case – – the answer is obviously a resounding, “No!” Right?

Next blog, please!

But hold on just a minute.  I am here to suggest otherwise.  I am actually proof of otherwise.  Sort of.  You see with my first divorce, even though we have kids together – – we don’t speak except for the essentials. Arranging the Time for drop-off and pick-up, report cards, orthodontist bills, etc. Second divorce, I decided to do the exact opposite to see if it would lead to better results.  Not only would we stay civil, but we would stay good friends. Having done it both ways, I am now going to write the sequel to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  The Ex plays both parts.

When you stay Bitter Enemies you always know exactly where things stand!

First Ex:   Because of the holiday, the check was delayed in the mail.

Me:   Assuming you sent it.

First Ex:  F**K   You.

Me:  Jerk.

First Ex:  Goodbye Bitch.

So that pretty much followed the “expedient and effective ex-spouse communication” formula called:   “L.I.S.T.E.N”  =   Lemme Insinuate Something Terrible,  End Neatly.

But let’s see what things sound like when you’re “Good Friends.”

Second Ex:  Hi there!  What time is the birthday party tonight?

Me:  Silly me.  I thought I told you several times already.  6:30.  Looking forward to having you.  Oh, and you wrapped his present, right?

Second Ex:  No. I thought you would do that.  You’re so much better at it than I am.

Me:  How sweet of you to say, Dear-heart.  Okay, I’ll come pick it up so I’ll have time to get it ready beforehand.

Second Ex:  Great, give me an hour while I go out and find something.

Me:  Oh?  Are you saying you haven’t bought our son, who turned ten years old as of 8:20 this morning, his own birthday present yet?

Second Ex:  Thank you for reminding me of that pertinent information, Miss Organizational Queen.

Me:  You’re welcome.  Nothing ever changes.  I give you one simple assignment…

Second Ex:  Excuuuuse me!  Some people work all week long.

Me:  And what do you call cleaning, cooking, laundry, bathing, helping with homework, refereeing fights, carpooling. . .

Second Ex:  Watching soap operas and eating Bon-Bons  and. . . Hello?  Hello, are you still there??

What is a Bon-Bon anyhow??

What exactly do you think could be inside one of these things?

What exactly do you think could be inside one of these things?

So in case you’re wondering, the above conversation followed the “communication while staying friends with your Ex-Spouse” formula known as:   “P.O.L.I.T.E”  =  “Pretend obedience, Laser Insult, Then Eradicate!”

 But Now . . . It’s Party Time!

Me:  Hey everybody — – you remember my first husband?  He can’t stay.  He just came over to drop by a check that  was  (throat clearing sounds)  “lost” in the mail.

First Ex:   Do you have a pen?

Me:  Oh? You got over your anal phase and don’t carry one anymore?  Wait by the door please.

Second Ex: (striding confidently past first ex)  Hi everyone!  Sorry I’m late.  The shopping mall was packed.  Something smells wonderful!

Me:  You always did like my Meatloaf.

Second Ex:  Yes, your meatloaf inspired me.  To become a Vegetarian.

Me:  Oh my favorite Big Fat Comic, you!   So, from the looks of that wrapping paper, you got him a basketball?

Second Ex:  Still that Nosy Little Sleuth I love!

Me:  But he already has two.

Second Ex:  If you ever bothered to play basketball, you might know that when they’re old, they bounce crooked.

Me:  Of course.  You would be very familiar with being off-balanced.

Second Ex:  I also brought our pretty little hostess something.  The extraordinary mother of my wonderful children, who always sets the example of never showing up empty-handed.  Here’s another box of chocolate Bon-Bon’s for you.  I had the feeling you’re running low.

Me:  How thoughtful.  Now Get Out.  This is MY house now.  Leave this instant!  You passive-aggressive, rude…

Second Ex:  Fine.  I’ll just take MY ball and go home.  And that’s MY big-screen television.  I’ll just go into the garage and get MY toolkit to remove it from the wall.

First Ex:  Lemme give you a hand with that.

Second Ex:  Hey, thanks.   You ever shoot hoops?

First Ex:  Always time for a little One-on-One.

Second Ex:  Excellent.  Grab us some beers and we’ll play on our court in back.

“I’ve seen more action than anyone in this house!”

First Ex:  You mean on MY court.  I  poured that concrete and installed that net when I was married to her.

Second Ex:  And you have my sympathies for lasting as long as you did, Man.

Now Dear Reader, please excuse me whilst I change the title of this blog from “Can You Stay Friends With An Ex?”  to  “Can Your EXes Be Friends With Each Other? And if you don’t mind, I will not be answering that insane, ludicrous question at the moment.

What do you think?  Should you stay friends with an Ex?  Please tell me in the comments.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fifty/

Remember Liquid Paper?

photo-259I was very mean to my mother.  When I was 17, we got a new IBM Selectric typewriter with automatic corrections and I gleefully threw the little bottle of White-Out away.  We also got a VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) and I smugly taped all my favorite shows, getting frustrated that she couldn’t learn how everything worked when I explained it all.  My mother stood by watching helplessly from that day on; incompetent to type without her old manual typewriter and unable to watch her Days of Our Lives soap opera with the complex remote controls.   But she had a prophecy:

One day when new inventions come out, you’ll have a child who is impatient with you.  And I’ll just call you up and laugh.  And laugh.

photo-258Today is that day.  I have a used Mac.  Someone gave it to me.   In my world, Mac is an expensive brand of cosmetics, a Big fast-food hamburger or a really cranky cab driver.  Apparently it is also a different kind of computer. Not only do I have this confusing Mac, but I also have three sons away at college who are technologically gifted.  Listen to the following phone call.

Youngest Son – – Mom,  we’ve been at this for over an hour. I have to get to class.  There are professionals who will come to your house and help you.  But I’m not “The Geek Squad.”

Me – –  Yeah, you’re more like “The Bleak Squad.”  If you could just explain it one last time – –  I promise I’ll get it.  All I want to do is write a post on my blog.  Please??  So at the bottom left of my screen, I double click the thing with the little thingy and the funny blue face, right?

Youngest Son – –  (long pause)  The thing with the little thingy.  Yeeeeaaah.  Listen, what is your ultimate goal here?  To share your humor, right?   Have you ever considered doing stand-up comedy?

I offer him my homemade lasagne if he’ll just come to the house and help me get things set up.  He asks if it’s the same recipe he remembers from living at home?  After I confirm it is, he tells me we have a bad connection, but he thinks his brother might be hungry.

In the time it takes me to search for my middle son’s number in my contacts list and refresh my memory with how to use Skype, his brother has already sent him a “Mom’s on the loose with her new Mac!” warning text.

Middle Son – – Hello Mom.  I Already ate. The thing with the Blue Face is called Your Finder.  That’s like your old “Start Up.”  But you have a great stage presence.  You could do a funny helpless routine that would make Jerry Seinfeld jealous.  Gotta go.

Me – –  Okay, Just tell me one thing. When I click on the cute little fruit with the bite taken out of it on the upper left corner and there’s a “Sleep” option, will that help with my insomnia?

Middle Son – – Click.

I explore on my own and manage to figure out that I’m now in a Garage Band and I already have a reputation for being a “Quick Time Player.”  I have a fear of tigers, so I don’t even think about clicking on “Safari.”

But I’m certain that my firstborn child won’t let me down.

Oldest Son – –  No!  Didn’t you hear me??  You cannot press, “Control, Alt, Delete” anymore!

Me – – So how do I stop that pretty iridescent disk from just spinning around and around??

Oldest Son – – Think of it like your old hourglass.  You just have to wait patiently.

Me – – Well, can I still “Escape?’

Oldest Son – – (Sigh)  Yes.  Yes,  you can Mom.  But unfortunately it’s too late for me to.

While the intelligent child that I taught to read (once upon a time ago) gets more and more sarcastic with me (and I get no help whatsoever) I receive a text from my mother, now 71 years old.

My three sons must’ve taught her how to type “LOL”.  Because that’s all it says.  Again and again – – as the Elton John song from the Lion King movie loudly blares from my cellphone, “The Circle of Life!”    Touché.photo-257

Must You ALWAYS Cross Your Eyes And Dot All Your Teas?? YES!

photo-253Here is a fact:  If you have OCD (Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder) or are a Perfectionist or even just Superstitious,  (heaven help you if you’re all three!) you will waste spend a lot more time on your blog than the typical person.  There are even sub-sets of related problems that bloggers can develop and not ever realize they are afflicted.  Read on to see if you recognize yourself in any of these 10 maladies.

1.  The Compulsive Commenter Syndrome (extra 10 minutes)  Before you leave a comment on someone else’s blog, you absolutely MUST read what other readers have already said about it, otherwise you could duplicate their remarks or just sound terribly boring in comparison.  Add on another ten minutes if the person’s blog already has over twenty comments.

2.  The Crime of the Rhyme – – (extra 8 minutes)  You get caught up in rhyming, especially your titles. Kind of like this: The Lame Name Shame Blame Game!  Prior to blogging, this problem manifested itself in other ways – –  When you took a music course in college, your thesis was entitled, “Mozart: His Notes-art and Quotes-art!”  Or you admonish your kids for turning in a paper called simply, “U.S. History,” when it could have been called “The Blistery Mystery of U.S. History.” Consequences?  Nobody wants your opinion on anything anymore, and the only people following your blog also follow Dr. Seuss.  He’s dead.

3.  Paragraph Quotas – – (extra 13 minutes) You need to include a certain number of witty points or laughs per paragraph.  The number is usually 7 because that’s your lucky number.  If you count and find you’ve fallen short, you need to go back and funny things up. This is non-negotiable.  And sometimes just for good luckle, you need one extra chuckle.  (A humorous rhyming bit counts as two!)

4.  The Proof is In The Pudding Proof-Reader – – (extra 32 minutes)  You re-read everything you write at least eight times because you’re certain there is some slight typo or misspelling that has slipped through the cracks.  Wait!  Does misspelling have one “s” or two?  Tsk, tsk.  But that’s easily remedied because a spellchecker can catch those.  But what if you type “their” when you mean “they’re?”  Ahh, there, there.  Don’t worry so much.  Bloggers are a forgiving bunch.  Right?  Maybe.   Prior to blogging, you were a door and oven checker.  Because how do you know those latches are REALLY locked or the flames TRULY extinguished?  Better go look again just to make sure.  I’ll wait.

5.  The Cliche Police – – (extra 22 minutes)  You will seek and destroy anything you write that rings a bell.  Like that preceding sentence.  Or these next two sentences.   All your analogies must be “fresh as a daisy.”  Your metaphors “Like a virgin, touched for the very first time.”photo-255

6.  The Fanatic Follower — (extra 11 minutes)  Someone you Follow has not posted anything in a week.  Oh dear!  Are they okay?  Should you check on them?  What if something happened in real life and they never post again?   Ever.  You will never know why.  Even a spouse or next of kin won’t have their Password to come online and give a reason for their absence.  Which means you won’t be able to send flowers.  This is closely related to  #7.

7.  Patterns of Perceptively Paranoid People – – (extra 141 minutes) You analyze your Follower’s activity on your own blog, particularly scrutinizing for changes in the length or the intensity in the words people write with their comments to you. Sensitive to any decreases or increases in the frequency of their “Likes.”  Uh oh, “GlueStickMom” isn’t quite commenting with as many paragraphs as she used to.  Perhaps one of your posts has offended?  Or maybe you ought to go to her blog and comment a little bit longer, just in case she believes things have become too one-sided.  And what is up with some polite Followers (TyWood12?) who can be enticed to “Like” your blog, but will rarely say a word.  You can’t even get a “LOL” out of them.  Would he talk to you at a cocktail party?  You even resort to Reverse Psychology and customize your comment prompt to read, “Don’t Even Think About Leaving A Comment!”  But these are Pressing Questions.  Will Menomama3 ever come back to you?  Why did “Alfred Hitchcock Master” only appear once and then disappear?  That’s a true mystery/suspense. Can “Bumblepuppies” leave a comment without sarcasm?  Did “Message In a Fold” change her identity to see if you’ll still recognize her?  And what about all your Facebook friends?  You can see that they come to View you quite often, but then mums the word.  You knew it all along – – They hate you.  They really, really hate you.

8.  Alliteration Addiction Advocation– – (extra 18 minutes) You are highly in favor of post titles that sound like this:  Mathematical, Musical or Maniacal?   or simply refer to # 6 , #7 and #8 in this list and guess who needs a treatment center ASAP?

8.5  Topic Titillation – – (extra 31 minutes)  Yes that’s correct – – this is # eight and a half.  When you state upfront that you’re writing a list of “Ten,” then you cannot go over that amount, even if you think of one more really good thing.  Anyhow, “Topic Titillation” is when you realize that you have a wide range of readers, both age-wise and interest wise and you need to think of something to write about that gets nods from every single one of them.  Kinda like when you take all six of your kids (with a 14 year age range, mind you) to the movies.  How can “Frozen” please everyone?  That’s gotta be one great film.  And it is.

8.75  Image Imagination Implication — (could cause you to delay a post for 48 hours)  This is when you get so caught up (inside your own head) with how a graphic or photo will look on your post that the reality cannot possibly measure up to your expectations once you’ve clicked, “Add Media.”   Therefore you now have “Preview Changes” on speed dial and the sheer # of revisions (which consist solely of you resizing or switching the same image from left, to right to center) outnumbers the number of potential Future Followers for your blog through 2015.  Just take a break and head to The Happiest Place on Earth.

9.  Freshly Pressed Perfection – – (extra 82 minutes) If you read all the advice on WordPress and watch their tutorials about “How to Craft the Perfect Blog” and do everything just so, you WILL finally get Freshly Pressed.  It just has to work that way.  After all, you followed all the rules! (Oh wait, they’ve done away with Freshly Pressed?? Why must things change in life?? Nooooooo!)photo-254

10.  All’s Well That Ends Well – – (extra 11 minutes)  The perfect ending to a post must occur in such a way that the reader feels satisfied, but yet is left still wanting more.  And it must happen within a certain word count.  Currently that would be lucky number 821.  (This blog has gone over!) Studies show if you’re any wordier than that, your Blog will end up on someone’s “To Do” list. (Or maybe their “To Don’t” one.)

        1.  Buy kitty litter  2.  Play Candyland with Kids  3.  Have Sex with Spouse  4.  Read Little Miss Menopause’s Blog  5.  Cut grass with manicuring scissors

So what does it all mean?  I certainly am not making light of anyone who has these troubles, especially when they overflow from the Blogosphere into the real world and interfere with your everyday life.  And especially when I suffer with all of them (and more!) myself.  If you find you’re spending far too long composing a post or lingering on WordPress in general, remember there’s a 12 Step Program that can help you.  Simply recite their Serenity Prayer. (See below)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/confused/

“Grant me the Serenity to accept the comments I’ve submitted that do not have an Edit Button, The Courage to Change my posts that are too safe and milquetoast (or is it milktoast?? Help!  It’s after midnight and I need to click “Publish” already!) and the Wisdom to know the difference between a WordPress Follower and a Real Life Stalker. Amen.”photo-256

The Lame Name Shame Blame Game!

photo-250Could our given names play a large influence in the quality of the lives we lead?  Could the “perfect” Blog name give you an extra boost for success?   I am not setting out to definitively answer these questions, but I am going to probe the issues with my own personal brand of quirkiness!

My own name (Stephanie) was picked right inside the delivery room.  My parents were set on calling me Samantha, but days before I was born, the popular show depicted below was televised and the main character was named (what else?) Samantha.

Maybe I woulda had a 2 inch waist like hers too?!

Maybe I woulda had a 2 inch waist like hers too?!

Plagued with the idea that people would call me a witch, my mother switched it at the last minute.  (I secretly suspect however that it was really her fear of being thought of as “Samantha’s mother, Endora”  Remember her?!)   To this day, I wonder how different my life would have been if I were Samantha instead of Stephanie.  Samantha twitches her nose bewitchingly and casts super cool spells.  Stephanie blows her nose incessantly and sneezes a few times. (For a little extra charm?)

Nowadays, I have six kids of my own.  This means I’ve had half a dozen chances to drive my husband(s) frigging crazy over choosing the “ideal” child’s name.  And rest assured,  I didn’t squander even one opportunity!

Me:  If it’s a boy, I want to name him Mitchell.  It’s not as common as Michael, yet it still sounds “Presidential.”

Husband:  Presidential??

Me:  Yes, when he’s ready to step into that position. But when he’s a baby, we’ll call him “Mitchie.”  Then he can grow into “Mitch” as a teenager.  And finally, when he’s a Senator, he can go by his first and middle name – –  “Mitchell Harrison.”

Husband:  Gotcha.  What’s for dinner?

Me:  No, wait a sec.  It could be a girl!

Husband:  We don’t get to eat supper if it’s a girl?

Me:  If it’s a girl, I love the name Jamie  – – do you remember Helen Hunt’s adorable character in “Mad About You?”  But I don’t want her to be 1 of 8 Jamie’s in her 1st. grade class.  So I have this idea. . .

Husband:  It’s an excellent idea.  Say, Little Jamie’s probably pretty hungry right about now, so whadya say we go grab some Chinese?  Again, wonderful idea!

Me:  You haven’t even heard the idea yet. I want to formally name her Jamisyn.  That way she has a Fallback Name if there are too many Jamie’s in her Kindergarten.  Plus she can go by “Jay-Jay” when she’s a baby and can’t pronounce her own name.  I like names with options.  Don’t you?  What do you think about options?

Husband:  Options are so important.  So would you prefer Chinese or Mexican?

Me:  You’re not paying any attention.  What have you heard?

Husband:  I heard that you want to give our daughter a name that she will not be able to pronounce.

Somehow I was able to bestow all six children with terrific names (including twin boys, ‘Dustin & Benjamin’ that came straight out of the movie The Graduate – – Dustin Hoffman played the character Benjamin Braddock!) that most everyone agreed were unique, but not bizarre.  Beautiful, yet not too cutesy.  And intelligent, yet not too nerdy.

So why couldn’t I think of a name for one simple blog?

You see, I knew about the concept of Branding and even wrote a post about how important it was.  (Check this out if you haven’t read it yet.)  Plus I used to write a Humor Column for my college newspaper and since my maiden name was Mark, I had some built-in natural branding coming my way – – I could’ve called my column, “Make Your Mark!” or “On Your Mark, Get Set….READ!!”  But I eventually decided upon, “Mark My Words” and it was wildly popular throughout campus.

But then I got married and my last name became a little more “worldly” as in ‘Mrs. Stephanie Atlas.’  However, I couldn’t think of any creative way to utilize that name other than claiming to be married to Mr. Universe, “Charles Atlas.”  So much for my worldly writing.

Sadly I got divorced and remarried to just become a plain ole “Lewis.”  Now I ask you, what can you possibly do with that boring last name?  (Oh hello there, 2nd Ex-Husband!)  Certainly it does not lend itself to a clever blog name.  And when naming your blog, there are no useful charts to consult.  You know, like the top 100 most popular names for male or female blogs.  What if I named my blog something that turned out to be the common equivalent of Jennifer or Jason from the 80’s?   Or a name that boxed me in to one particular theme?  For instance, I loved the witty name, “The Blogical Conclusion,” but I never make ANY sense at all.  And I take pride in that nonsensical personality trait.  Yep,  I can’t think of a worse fate than being pegged as Logical.

One day I came across a Blog Name Generator.  You can try it here.  But first please finish reading this, lest you become addicted enthralled with trying it out and continuously toying with naming your blog some of the ones it suggested for me.  “Chesty Language?”  (Hmmm, seems Mr. Blog Generator somehow knew about my post entitled, “The Quests for Smaller Breasts?”   But then it threw out, “Challenged Notebook” or “Screecher’s Blotter?”  Okaaaay.

Bottom line – –  for weeks I went around telling people I was an “Expectant Blogger,” (unfortunately Expectant Bloggers don’t get to park their cars closer to shopping malls, and nobody throws them a Bloggy Shower with white cake and presents either.)  and then finally it was my “Launch Day.”  That’s sort of like a blog’s birthday and when the official name excitedly gets revealed.

By that point, all I could think of was that cruel famous family with the last name of Hogg who named their poor daughter Ima.  (By the way, it’s a rumor they named her sister, “Ura.”)  So I was about to just go with, “Ima Blog” until my smartass ex-husband (would that be #1 or #2?)  suggested my blog have a middle name –  – “Randy.”  That was the end of that.

Maybe I was getting too clever for my own good.  I would just keep my own first name with the word “Blog.” Clean and Simple – – “Stephanie Blog.”  Perfect.  I could even honor my favorite movie star, Mae West, and call it “Stephanie Mae Blog.”  But then again, (after this nutty post) Stephanie May NOT Blog.  Ever again!

Leave me a message and tell me how you came up with your child’s name or your Blog name.  And then try the Blog Generator and tell me what it suggests!photo-252  http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/writing-challenge-names/

Menopause & Driver’s Training Don’t Mix!

photo-246

I am teaching my 16-year-old daughter how to drive. She’d prefer I don’t speak of our experience with anyone she knows. You’re not acquainted with my daughter, but if she happens to run into you (Don’t worry — I mean like on foot, let’s say in a store or a restaurant!) please immediately state the following, “Hi! I don’t know anything about any smashed-in parking attendant booth.” Thank you in advance for salvaging her privacy.

First, lemme just say I would simply love to meet the lawmaker who decided that someone who still gets acne, oily hair, Drama Queen Awards, collects Hello Kitty stickers, will admit she used to be on “Team Edward” and is prone to fits of giggles when I try to show her the movie, “Terms of Endearments” is the correct age to plunk down in the driver’s seat of my Toyota.

I was thinking of skipping the Driving-Right-of-Passage thing completely and just sending her to college in NYC, hoping she’d eventually get married and settle down blissfully on the subway system.

But somehow, she managed to pass the Online Driver’s Education course with flying colors. Notice I didn’t say with “driving” colors. Nevertheless, I took a deep breath and sent her on her first driving lesson with a paid professional last week. He returned in one hour sharp, asked for $300 dollars, two Tylenols and said he was going to have a root canal in a local bowling alley. Basically, he needed to do something less stressful than driving with my daughter down the quiet side streets of our neighborhood. And he has two steering wheels and passenger brakes in his car.

Before the next lesson, I decided to give her a few of my own tips. You know, those subtle nuances of driving that nobody else can teach you.

Driving Guidelines You Must Learn On Your Own

1. Drive defensively. Assume everyone is an idiot and doesn’t know what they’re doing. Everyone but me.

2. In a left hand-turn lane (without the green arrow to help you know when it’s safe to turn) do not succumb to the pressure of the man behind you who incessantly honks and yells, “Will you go already, you stupid dame!” while checking which way the wind is blowing with his middle finger.

3. Leave one car length between you and the vehicle in front of you for every 10 miles-per-hour you’re traveling. A good rule of thumb is if you can finish singing the chorus of, “It’s All About the Bass” before you rear-end the car in front of you, you’re fine.

4. When other drivers let you cut in front of them, be sure and give them “The Hand.” You know, that little gesturing wave that says, “Thank you for not being a jerk like everyone else on the road and letting me in because you’re obviously a mother yourself and can understand what it’s like when you almost miss your exit and are late for your therapy session.”

5. Don’t toot your horn in rhythms that sound suspiciously like Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” or the beginning of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

6. Don’t memorize the eye chart at the DMV
because you think you’ll look old(er!) in glasses.

7. We don’t call it “your blind Spot” anymore. But be careful of your “sight impaired spot,” because you have several!

8. Whenever you have the inclination to make an illegal u-turn, it’s a sign that you have lots of regrets in your life. So just make another appointment with that nice therapist.

9. Keep important documents like proof of insurance and registration in an envelope clearly marked, “These are not fast food coupons, notes for future blogs or super flattering selfies taken at stoplights that don’t show your crow’s feet.”

10. Never answer your cell phone while driving
unless you can tell by the angry, persistent ring that it’s me calling you to pick up toilet paper and Ranch dressing.

11. Using certain interior features costs you more gasoline. No air-conditioning unless it’s the Hot Flash from Hell. Don’t put the heat on unless it’s to blow-dry your hair or defrost the lamb chops you forgot you’re making for dinner.

12. Don’t call AAA auto club, crying about locking your keys in the car more than once a week
. If you do, make up a new last name. We’ve already used up our quota for that particular issue thru the year 2022.

13. Don’t trust the little dashboard gauge that says you can drive five more miles before running out of gas.
I’ve called the Toyota dealer and made them admit a practical joker engineer designed that. Also ignore the funny-looking symbols that light up for no apparent reason at various mysterious times of driving. Those were programmed in by the author of the car manufacturer’s manual in the hopes his “book” would become a best-seller.

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(above) The author of the Car Manufacturer’s Manual also loves Exclamation Points!!!!!!!!!

14. Remember the acronym “A COMB AND BRUSH” which stands for, “Always Call On Mom Before Arriving Near Dangerous Boys Rarely Using Safety Harnesses.” If it’s too late for that and you’ve already hit the handsome parking lot attendant, simply remember what McDonalds claims to use in their Fillet-O-Fish. COD. (Call On Dad!)

Me: OK, that’s it. What do you think?

Daughter: Don’t worry, Mom. When we’re done with me, I can save my allowance and we’ll get you some driving lessons too.

You might be asking why I’m rushing this process. After all, many kids don’t get their license until they’re closer to 17 or 18. It’s because teaching her to drive has aged me far more than any menopausal symptom ever has, and I’ll be needing someone to drop me off at the Senior Citizen Home next week.

 

What’s in Your Bag? (a guessing game!)

photo-244Some Ladies magazines do a column, “What’s inside a certain Celebrity’s designer bag?”  It usually features hints on what products to buy – –  so you too can look just like the actual movie star!  But we know better than to think that carrying a designer keychain like Jennifer Aniston will have us carrying her gorgeous figure too.   But today, in honor of Spring Cleaning (Whoever thought that concept up had far too much time on HIS hands)  I have decided to go through my own bag.  But why should I stop there??

 

Checking out my bag today, what the heck’s in my purse?

Wouldn’t it be all the more fun to describe it in verse?

There’s lipstick, mascara, & crumbly pink blush,

Chewing Gum, a Birthday Tiara to feel Royal in a rush.

Saltines and single serve apples, pummeled to mush,

And a stray tampon in packaging marked, “Please Do Not Flush.”

Where’s the gift cards, the American Express, the cold, hard cash?

Just a few coins, wrinkled tissues, and some creme for diaper rash.

That’s kinda funny, when my “baby” is old enough to curse.

But just when I think rummaging can’t get much worse . . .

From a funeral yesterday, I have a business card for a hearse?

Where's the beef??

Where’s the beef??

Moving on to my kitchen, what’s going down in my Fridge?

Aside from greenish Provalone (and hey that’s just a Smidge!)

Besides, I assert to my family, if the truth were to be told…

Where do you think cheese comes from, if not from a bit of mold?

On the Top Shelf, you can see “Top Chef” has obviously been fired,

Hardened Kraft macaroni (and more cheese!) leaves little to be desired.

Oh wait!  He wasn’t laid-off – – he tossed his white puffy hat and promptly retired.

After all, what’s left to prepare when the eggs and the butter have expired?

In the produce drawer, (like my purse!) exists apples, but I use the term loosely,

Let’s just say there’s no need for a blender to get fruit in this house juicely.

Tupperware = the Family Game, “Guess what lives in here for your dinner?”

Who needs Weight Watchers?  This is the most effective way to get thinner.

One last look at the freezer’s contents, and I turned and I smiled,

“We’re eating out tonight, kids – – next life you should be born to Julia Child.”

It's an Auto Buffet!

It’s an Auto Buffet!

But just when I thought it was safe for us to pile in behind the wheel,

Under the passenger’s side, I found part of a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

But a mother’s instinct sensed I should probably take another peek…

And lo and behold, out rolled a carton of yogurt and it was actually Greek!

But I ask you, what else would you expect from a mother this chic?!?

In the seat pockets, were napkins, cups and silverware galore,

Ketchup packs, soda cans and french fries littered the car floor.

In the glove compartment were remnants of steak cooked by flame,

I’ll tell you, this gourmet vehicle really put my refrigerator to shame.

So I cranked up the Bee Gees and flickered on and off the interior light.

“Welcome to Mom’s Disco” I said, “We’re eating in the Toyota tonight!”

Who was “She?”

Disclaimer:  Thank you for allowing me a departure into the truth today.  More laughs again soon.photo-241

Wasn’t Sweet Sixteen a little young to be visiting the inside of a mental institution?

But today she wasn’t visiting. They had checked her in. Why would they do this with her?  Because they didn’t know what else TO DO with her.  The Doctor swore there were no more options.  Doesn’t matter that she had never spent even one week at a summer sleepover camp.  Doesn’t matter that total strangers terrified her.  Doesn’t matter that the roommate they assigned her was an openly hostile lady of 62 who strung her bras across bed posts and window sills like strands of Christmas tinsel.

This was where a troubled teenager was sent in 1980.  If they suffered long-term deep depression, culminating in a suicide attempt.

Nurse #1 – – Apparently she locked herself in the bathroom and tried to swallow Liquid Plummer.

Nurse #2 – – You mean like Drano?

Nurse #1 – – No I mean exactly Liquid Plummer.

Nurse #2 – – Nobody tries.  They either do or they don’t.

Nurse #1 – – Exactly.

Nurse #2 – – I’ve heard of a lot better cries for help than that.  But it got the father’s attention, I suppose.

She had watched a lot of movies so she was certain any moment she would see Jack Nicholson or Nurse Ratched ambling down the hallway.  But instead there were just regularly dressed people milling aimlessly about.  Kind of like the anxious folks who look at their watches at subway or train stations.  Only these people weren’t going anywhere. Physically.

There were no special wards separating adolescent from adult patients back then.  Crazy was Crazy and age wasn’t a barrier or reason for seclusion. So she got to see it all.  The unkempt forty something blonde who oozed sex like melted cheese in an overstuffed quesadilla, making humping motions against the nurse’s station until two orderlies escorted her away as she drawled, “C’mon Sailors, I’ll take ya both on right here, right now.”

The dark-haired, ethnic faced girl of twenty, slumped against the drinking fountain, hugging her knees tightly while holding her breath, eyelids clamped shut as she whispered her mantra, “You don’t see me.  You don’t see me.  You don’t see me.”

A prematurely graying man, (handsome like a movie star) raced around the bright orange (was that considered a soothing color back then?) corridor, chiming the ABC song until he got his face within two inches of Ethnic Girl’s large nose and blurted, “Peek-a-boo, I DO see you!”

Some days Group Therapy could take hours. There was no cooperation from patients like these.  When you didn’t want to be somewhere, why should you go along with the program?  But she sat and listened anyhow.  And finally it dawned on her.  Everyone else seemed to have a reason.  Something that justified why they were the way that they were.

Several teary-eyed females with molested pasts, slowly recounting excruciating details. One word every ten minutes – – yes, the talking and the memories came that  s-l-o-w-l-y.  Or maybe it was the abuse that did?

“It.”  (Look at clock)  “Was.”  (Bury mouth in jacket hood)  “My.” (Find the ceiling extra fascinating)  “Father.”  Stare straight ahead, daring anyone sitting in the group circle to meet your gaze.

Other tales of woe.

Schizophrenia ran in the family.

My Aunt was a prostitute and brought strange men into my bed.

My brother tortured my poodle in front of me.

My father was an alcoholic who raped my grandmother.

We were poor so I worked in a factory where they beat us if we went too slow.

I said goodnight to my mother.  She said, “No, it’s goodbye.”  And it was.

And on and on.  And that’s when she knew.  No matter what was wrong with them, something worse was wrong with her.  Because she had no reason.  No excuse.  No justification.  No scapegoat.  She had a two parent, functioning family.  No drinking, no drugs, steady employment, good morals, nice house, lots of friends, religion.  How could she blame it on happiness?

There was just something wrong inside her brain.  It would get dark in there.  For days on end.  And noisy with chatter.  So she would go outside of herself.  Watching vigilantly.  She could count her throat swallows, the chest inhales/exhales, heart thumps, eye blinks.  All her reflexes could be perceived as someone else’s.  Her head felt better in close quarters and so she stayed inside her closet.  Dissociative Behavior, they called it.

And that’s when everyone decided to agree.  Medication!  Medication had to be the answer.  They didn’t even mention the question.  They skipped right to the solution. Every single night.  She had to swallow two tablets and three capsules in front of the nurses, then open her mouth wide for inspection afterward. And she hated that one ugly male nurse who would swipe under her tongue with his foul-smelling fingers.

There were all sorts of Therapies.

In Art Therapy, they told her to paint or sketch.  Her hands froze.  “C’mon Honey, draw what hurts you.”  She drew a World Globe.

In Dance Therapy, they told her to hop and jump and prance.  Her feet froze.  “C’mon Honey, move to the music.”  She rocked ever so slightly to the metronome inside her head.

In Life Skills Therapy, they took her on outings.  They taught her how to ride a public bus.  How to go into a library and check out a book.  How to grow vegetables in a garden.   How to sit on a beach and enjoy the sunshine.  “C’mon Honey, it’s time to go outdoors and live quickly.”  But she went inside her head.  To die  slowly.

Until someone else died suddenly. The only other 16-year-old in the place.  They had become friends.  Sort of.  She was an anorexic named Mitzi.  66 pounds.  The medical staff was very thorough inside those walls.  Searching your bags when you came back from a field trip, confiscating even fingernail clippers or compact mirrors.  But not quite thorough enough.  They forgot about dusk.  When the sun went off and the lights came on.  Nobody would notice one missing bulb from a lamp in the sitting room area.  And nobody did.  Until they found it smashed and red-stained, between the sheets where it had sliced open a pair of very young wrists.

Nurse #1– – She woulda been gone in a few weeks, anyhow.  She was starving herself to nothing.

Nurse #2 – – Because she felt nothing. She was numb.  Our little Mitzi girl.

But our little Mitzi girl knew that cutting herself would be the first time she would feel something.  And I knew exactly what that something was.  She could have whispered it to me, too.  But she didn’t have to.  It was freedom.

Shortly after that, I stopped thinking of myself as “she.”  I was me.  Again.  And I began to get much better, much faster.  Not quite fast enough, though.  The medical insurance ran out before the Doctors  felt I was completely ready to go home.  But some Head Administrator made a lot of noise, stating that I had the right tools now. To cope.

I got to sit in on a long matter-of-fact meeting and we all nodded our heads discreetly at the end.  A helpful nurse leaned into my ear to whisper, “You’d best put this whole thing behind you.  Never speak of it again.  Never.”  (But nobody mentioned writing.)

That night the kitchen help baked me a German Chocolate Goodbye cake.  I hate the nuts in that kind of frosting. And my father avoided German cars, and German beer because he was a holocaust child.  But I ate a piece for Mitzi since she dreamed of any kind of cake.

It had been 3.5 months and now I could talk about my feelings, paint, draw, dance, ride a bus, grow a carrot, check out a library book, enjoy the beach. And most of all, I could feel.

And what I felt most of all was. . .

Sweet Sixteen was definitely too young to visit the inside of a mental institution.

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Age is Just a Number – – Ha! Age is a Bunch of Numbers!

An actual card given to me this Saturday from some young Whippersnapper.

An actual card given to me this Saturday from some young Whippersnapper.

“AGE IS JUST A NUMBER!”  People like to quote that old bumper sticker adage when they’re in a relationship with one person who is significantly younger or older than they are.  (yet they want things to work)  Well, I cannot begin to tell you how much I wish that romantic topic is what I’ll be writing about today.

But alas, I turn 50 on Wednesday, so instead this is going to be about getting older, so I can submit it to the WordPress Prompt before I get too old to comprehend the entry rules.  Maybe it’s a contest or Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes I can win….Ed McMahon lurking?

Therefore the numbers I am going to focus on are all the numbers that younger people who like to say, “Age is Just a Number” don’t EVER have to worry about.   Are you ready to examine them?  Let’s go!

115/65 – – This is my blood-pressure.  That is, when I am not contemplating how much I’d like to teach a good, “strong” lesson to all the young troublemakers who chirp, “Age is just a number.”

210 – – This is my total cholesterol and I defy you to find two articles that agree this is a bad number without giving you some ratio formula that sends you back to 8th grade math class.  And then where would you be?  Passing, “Do you like me?” notes to cute Jeff W?  Or maybe to cute Susan M?  Because after all, “Gender is just a word.”

1,310 – – This is the number of Calories that “they” claim I can take in and still maintain my current weight, (a number by the way, that shall remain nameless numberless?)   Yeah, sure!  This is also the exact number of sit-ups & push-ups I’ll need to do, plus the # of times I must run around my block if I eat anywhere NEAR that number of calories!

148 – – The number of my friends over forty who can relate to what I’m talking about here.  At least I’m not alone. And yes, misery DOES love company.  Misery particularly loves when the company you keep makes you look far better in comparison. (Hey, everything is relative!)  You know, like surrounding yourself with older, uglier and duller – – so that suddenly you start to look pretty darn good?!  Keeping this theory in mind – – if you’re ever looking for me from this point on, you’ll find me happily posing on the sofa pictured below.

That's right!  I'll look like a ravishing bride if I get married sitting on this left cushion.

That’s right! I’ll look like a ravishing bride if I get married sitting on this left cushion.

5 – – Average number of times in a week I lose my keys. We’re coming off a high-achieving week right now because it’s actually been 8 times.  But I finally got smart and made copies so I have two more sets left until I’m really desperate.  They called me from Target on Friday and urgently declared, “Miss Menopause?? We just found your car keys in our shopping cart!”  I magnanimously said, “That’s okay.  Give them to someone more needy than I.”  Then I leisurely strolled to retrieve my 9th set from my jewelry box.

16 – – Number of times I look at my hair in a mirror per day and say, “Gray is the new Brunette.”

.2 – – This is the amount of Testosterone that courses thru my veins.  1. Google the amount in the average woman.   2. Google what kind of things Testosterone influences in your body.  3. Agree with me that I will never get remarried if I cannot raise this number.

4 – – Number of hours I sleep in a night.  This is on a good night.  This is because of a) 26 hot-flashes  b) 22 thoughts of,  “I better not forget to do such ‘n such tomorrow. c) 6 night sweats (don’t tell me this is the same thing as a hot-flash.  It’s not!)   d)  3  reoccurring, terrifying nightmares that I got remarried on that couch pictured above.  Or remarried at all.  d)  16 funny noises (not “ha-ha” like a whoopie cushion) that I think I hear at 1:45 am, which subsequently require my walking thru the entire house with a baseball bat.  e) 2 realizations that I should probably make my sports-enthusiast son a baseball themed birthday party.  f)  80 –  the number of google searches at 4 am it takes me to find a local bakery that will make the perfect baseball diamond-shaped cake.

14 and 1/2 – – The number of times someone tells me in a day that I am “a little bit” obsessive/compulsive.  The 1/2 is from someone else who also has OCD and keeps changing their mind.

2650 – – Number of piano lessons I was “encouraged” to have between the ages of 8-16 years old because my mother told me I would be popular at parties. “After all, everyone loves a good sing-along,” she cajoled.

0 (zero) – – Number of times I have been dragged to a piano and requested to play Moonlight Sonata or a Polka by ANYONE at all during some wild musical bash in someone’s home.

4 – – Number of times my mother reads my blog in a week so I can say, “See?  I told you so.”

22 – – The average number of pills YOU Dear Reader will need to take every single day  (to keep all the above numbers in control!) as you age.  Note:  I however, will NOT be ingesting any of this junk because I’ve officially changed my mind about this whole entire thing.  I don’t need to win any writing contest about aging.  I withdraw my entry! Forget it! (What writing contest?  See it’s already forgotten!) I’m doing just fine as a young spring chicken, thank you very much.

Age is a bunch of numbers (and a bunch of pills?)  No Thank You!

Age is a bunch of numbers (and a bunch of pills?) No Thank You!

What “number” bothers you the most about aging?  Can you make light of it?  Leave me a comment below!

NEVER Throw Yourself a Bawling Birthday Party! (plus Text Eavesdropping!)

Bowling or Bawling?   What's the difference  at this point in the game?

Bowling or Bawling?
What’s the difference
at this point in the game?

Disclaimer:  I admit it.  It was not an accidental typo.  But “Bawling/Bowling?”  Who cares.  I’m probably going to do both this weekend.   The bottom line is when you’re over age 10, apparently you should never plan your own celebration.  Even if you clearly state, “No Gifts.” And EVEN if you’re turning 50 and a previously scheduled surprise party was accidentally ruined.  Okay, okay, you ruined it by being too nosy (read HERE) but STILL.

Let me backtrack.  Here is the invite. photo-237 By the way, even though you can’t see the bottom part, it clearly says, “No children, please.  But Adults who “feel” like a kid are especially welcome.  Let’s just have fun!” Then it elaborates that it will be casual, food, drink, bowling and mentions “catching up with old friends – – walking down Memory Lane at a Bowling Lane.”  Clever, right?  I thought so.  Then I made the RSVP responses with bowling puns, which were rather witty too. (If i don’t say so myself.  Boy, when you kill that Inner Critic voice, you do become rather cocky!)  The RSVP card went like this:

RSVP PLEASE!

Yes!  (I’m ready to Roll)

Maybe  (It’s a Split, I’ll let you know very soon)

No!  (Can’t Spare the time, sorry.)

Now, a question for you.  Anywhere above, do you see the following response?   “I’m a Mystery Guest.  You will NEVER know if I’m coming, or if I even got this invitation at all.  Have fun.  That’s my birthday gift to you.  Because I know you need to learn how to give up control.”

Two days before the event and over half the potential guests are going with that.

That’s what you get for making your own party, I guess.

I also asked people to specify if they were bowling or just spectating, since I need to pay in advance for shoes, plus guarantee there will be enough lanes together. Simple question, right?  Here’s just a sprinkling of responses I got.

“Hmmm, I haven’t bowled since I was ten.  What a novel idea.  So whadya think?  Should I ??”

“What?  You want me to wear shoes that announce to the world that I’m a size 9?”

“Oy, Stephanie, Stephanie!  You know your Uncle Charlie can’t stand all that racket.  Will you at least be providing earplugs?”  (I didn’t even know I HAD an Uncle Charlie.  Let alone one with sensitive hearing. When did Aunt Carla remarry?)

“Yes, Yes, Yes!  Put us down for 7 bowlers.  Susie wears a kids size 2, little Mitchie an infant 8 (wait till you see how curly his hair got!)  and the teens will probably only bowl a couple of games; but hopefully you’ll provide video tokens, and they’ll amuse themselves.”  (You saw that one coming, I hope.  The moment you say “Adults Only, these kind of RSVP’s come out of the woodwork.  But if you say, “Bring the kids!” —  They hire a babysitter a month in advance.

My bursitis has been acting up when it rains. I’ll get back to you after the most recent weather report.”

“I was captain of the bowling team in high school.  You better believe I’m down for it.  I’m very competitive so hope your friends can buck up when they get mowed down.”

“I am really uncoordinated.  Will there be single men there? I guess I probably will try to bowl, but not if you invite that bitch, Tiffany.  She really gives me a bad vibe.”

“This is so funny.  It’s a costume thing, right?   All I can think of is Fred Flintstone and bowling.  I’m coming as Wilma.

“Hi!  Thanks so much for including me.  I haven’t ever told anyone this but I have a thing about putting my feet into places that other feet have been.  Therefore I will just come the last ten minutes or so. For the cake.  I get kinda queasy even thinking about all those people and their feet. But thanks so much for including me.  If I don’t show up, it means I got to feeling kinda defeeted.”

That’s what you get for making your own party, I guess.

Okay, ready for some nice phone calls?  Yep!

For a good time, call Little Miss Menopause!

For a good time, call Little Miss Menopause!

Ring Ring….

Guest #1 – –   Heya.  Making your own party, I see?  So what are you into these days?

Me – –  Huh?

Guest #1 – –   I want to get you something useful.  Gift card?

Me – –   Oh no.  Please.  I wrote “No gifts.”

Guest #1 – –  Yeah, yeah – – C’mon, everyone says that just to be polite.  Love that cute thing about, “Your presence is enough of a present for me.”

Me – –  I didn’t write that.  I just said “No gifts.”

Guest #1 – –  So seriously, what do you get a spoiled brat who has absolutely everything SHE could ever want or need for her birthday??

Ring Ring…..

Guest #2 – – Hi Stephanie.  It’s Oscar. You know since the divorce,  I feel kind of self-conscious going anywhere solo. Which of your single women friends will be there?

Me – –  Hey Oscar.  Gosh, lots of single people in general.  But let’s see.  Women?  Tanya and . . .

Guest #2 – –  She that stacked redhead?  The 38 Double D?

Me – –  Uhhh…

Guest #2 –  – Sorry. How about that woman who was your maid-of-honor at your first wedding?

Me – –   Cynthia?  She died. That was 25 years ago, Oscar.

Guest#2 – –  So send me a picture of Tanya, will ya? And what the hell, Cynthia too.  And could you invite that girl who sometimes babysits for you?  Whatshername?  Lisa?   And what about that other set of sisters who do everything together, you know, they go rollerskating, they sing, and then they’re always smiling for the camera?

Me – –  The Doublemint Twins?

Ring Ring. . .

Bowling Alley – –  Hi there, Stephanie.  This is Barb, the manager at “Roll ‘Em, Bowl ‘Em, Console ‘Em!” Just finalizing a few things so your party will be “pitcher” perfect.  We don’t want to “strike-out” with you. Get it?  Strike out?

Me – – Isn’t that baseball talk?

Bowling Alley – – Whatever.  So we have you down for 35 people in three lanes, one with gutters, a tray of spicy, deep-fried Buffalo Bruiser Breasts, Bowling-Ball Sandwiches, Quesadillas Queso Cuties, Knock-Em Down Dumplings plus beer and wine.  Sorry, we don’t name our liquor anything cutesy.  And it’s up to you to monitor your guests safety for driving home.  All on the Visa that we ran your deposit on?

Me — Hold on. Wait. Hold it.

Bowling Alley – – A lot to take in, ain’t it?  Oh and Every Saturday night, we like to play music and dim the lights.  Most Saturdays it’s Pop or Oldies, which woulda been good for you, seeing as you’re 50, huh?  But I wanted to inform you that this Saturday, it’s gonna be a mix of classical music and then some country/western by request.  Hee Haw!

Me – – Hold it. First of all, only three lanes for 35 people?  And what’s with the gutters in one lane?  Also I didn’t order anything called Bowling Ball sandwiches.  How do I know if a guest is too drunk to drive?  And I completely despise country/western.photo-235

Bowling Alley – -Let me answer all that, Little Lady, maybe not necessarily in that order, but just hold yer horses and we’ll get this settled quicker than a tick on a bucking bronco.  (Little Lady?!  This manager is also a female!  And does anyone else detect that this person seems to be lapsing into “Hollywood Cowboy Talk?”)  So Bowling Ball sandwiches are really meatball.  35 people in three lanes is nice n’ cozy like,  but if you’re worried, we’ll surely keep some of your guests in the parking lot and rotate them in when others poop out. Gutters in one lane was by request.  One of your guests called to say that little Suzie has ADD and gets frustrated easy.  Them the ones probably get drunk the fastest.  And they’re also the ones who requested the music.  But doncha worry your pretty little head off, Country Western grows on ya quicker than you can say, “Round ’em up for a 50 year old who’s hotter than a tater-tot on a smoky grill!”

Me – – Okay.  Subject change, please.   Don’t you have any healthy fare to serve?

Bowling Alley – – I recken we do.  We got your Ring-a-Ding Onion Rings.  That’s a vegetable. Add some ketchup and you’ll be keepin’ that Doc away for days.

Me – – I am so very tired.

Bowling Alley – – That’s what you get for making your own party, I guess.

And Finally . . .  the Text That I Eavesdropped On (as Promised in My Title)

And despite what you think about me, this was a true accidental eavesdropping!  There was a three-way text a few weeks ago (you know how that goes, when one person starts up a group text and then everyone can see everything anyone writes from that point on?)  I think they both forgot that’s how things were set up.

Friend #1 – –  Hey!  You going to Stephanie’s thing?  Can you believe she’s throwing herself a party?  So I want to wear my new pink short skirt, but do you think that’s too much for bowling?  Why’d she have to make it bowling – -that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.  I’ve been avoiding sending my RSVP to see if Oscar might ask me out.  I’ve actually been avoiding her in general lately, she’s such a drag.

Friend #2  – –  Well, in her D-fense, she’s been really D-pressed lately.  But u can’t blame her.  Have u seen her i’s lately?  That’s why she keeps those sunglasses on.  Even her wrinkles have wrinkles.  Ha!  Also, u need 2 use text lingo, k?

Friend #1  – –  You’re so bad that you are good.  Oh well, we shouldn’t say these things.  Someday, we’ll be there ourselves.  But not for another twenty years, Right??   LOL.  LMAO.  ROFLBISF!    CU  L8ter  BFF!  Is that better abbreviations?

Friend #2  —  Yup! U R 2 cool.   Luv ya GF!!! xoxoxoxoxoxox

Ring, Ring

Friend #1 – – Hey Stephanie.  Sorry I’m getting your voice mail yet again.   Been trying to track you down forever, Birthday Girl. So excited that you’re doing this party for yourself.  You so deserve it.  And bowling!!  As soon as I saw that invite, I was like, “That is the best idea ever.  I am soooo there!”  And you look amazing.  Nobody would even think you’re 35, like me,  let alone 50.  I’ll be carpooling with Tiffany, so if you need anything at all, just let either of us know.  Can’t wait, Steph!  Bye!”

Alright, I’m not gonna say it again, but – – “that’s what I get for….”

This morning a package arrived on my doorstep.  With a card.  Wow.  My first birthday present even though I said “No Gifts!”

Stephanie – – Just a little something to thank you for always playing matchmaker. I told you it wasn’t necessary though. I knew the right woman would find me when she was ready. We’re getting hitched this weekend so I won’t be able to make your party.  Tell Cynthia to have fun without me. Bet she got fat anyway, after 25 years.

Happy Birthday,

Oscar

I opened it up.  A new CD.  “The Best of Country & Western.”  Naturally.

FOOTNOTE:  This work has major embellishments, name changes, menu changes, bra-size changes, and complete utter nonsense.  But there really is a bowling party.  I really am nearly 50.  And I really am tired!  Now don’t forget – – Friday at midnight (Pacific time) is the deadline to win either one of these prizes with two SUPER easy contests.  See this post for more.  Click here

I Am Finally A “Cut Above The Rest!”

photo-232I am every husband’s dream.  I don’t go to salons.  I don’t get pedicures, facials, hand massages, or highlights.  The latter term, at least I know has to do with hair. But I thought Lowlights were desk lamps with dim bulbs.

However, for my upcoming 50th birthday, I recently ventured out to get my hair cut.  It wasn’t just “Snip, Snip, Snap, that’ll be $19 please.”  It was An Event.  That’s because I went to a salon (called “Pellegrino’s” with the little fancy French upside-down accent mark shaped like a hat over the “o”) which I could never afford to patronize, if I hadn’t won a gift-card in a raffle drawing.

Even though I had already Killed My Mean Girl (read here if you don’t know!) and gained new confidence, I was still feeling terribly nervous on the day of my appointment, so I dressed in my most trendy attire.   I even washed/styled my hair and painted my nails with my 11 year old’s polish. A frumpy, over-the-hill housewife would be laughed out the door, so that meant I couldn’t show up as myself.   Believe me when I tell you I went to the salon looking as if I just came from the salon!

(But I also always clean my house before the house-cleaner comes!)

A well-coiffed man with a nametag that read, “Culligan Perrier” opened the door for me.  “Right this way, Miss.” Holy cow, was this a Maitre de or the Water Boy??  “I’d like you to make the acquaintance of Mr. Pellegrino,” he announced.

There was an awkward pause and I felt the need to say it, so I did.  “You mean Thee Pellegrino?” I drawled, “As in Pellegrino’s hair salon with that cute little accent mark over the ‘o’   ?!!” I pointed excitedly to their sign.

A hushed silence followed, as heads nodded solemnly.  He must’ve stopped by the salon on the way to his own wedding, so grooms-like was his tuxedo.  I resisted the urge to ask where he was headed on his honeymoon and let him take me by my arm instead.

“Let me start by showing you our Manicurial Engineering Department in the front. And here we have the Colorist Technicians (oh pleeeease, they just dye hair!) and on your right, you’ll notice our own Custom line of quality hair products.  Make-up artists have their own studio back here.  Artists, Engineers and Technicians stay separate. They never fraternize.  On your left are the skin care analytic machines.  Ladies and Gentlemen facilities in the rear and our linens get laundered over there.”

What the hell?  Was I receiving a haircut or a new employee guided tour?

“Any questions?” Mr. Pellegrino asked.

“Just one.  Should I begin with sweeping the floors or answering the phones?” I watched his lips purse into a straight “you are so very humorless” line.  Some people are just so touchy.

“Let me take you over to Brita who will be handling all your hair needs today.”  Hmmm, Brita was my water filter system back home.  My hair didn’t need handling, it needed cutting.

Brita: (hair stare) Hello.  I didn’t realize it was so terribly windy out there today.  How dreadful.

Me: Huh?  Outside?  Oh, it’s as calm as my ten year old when I double dose him with Benadryl.

Brita: (harder hair stare) Like I said. . .  How dreadful.

Brita then placed me in a waiting chair while she finished blowing her client, (I swear she said this exact wording to me) but first she brought me some water.  Someone must have chopped salad fixings near the water pitcher, because my glass had several cucumbers in it.  She handed me a People Magazine.

This is what I saw.  I swear. Again.

photo-226

Then a girl who looked like she jumped off a modeling runway came around and offered me a facial while I waited.  Certainly a salon of this caliber didn’t use kitty litter. I looked around but didn’t see any eager Siamese cats (or Bengal Tigers!) waiting to pounce on my face to scratch wrinkles off.  Still, I wisely declined.  She talked me into a massage instead. As she kneaded, pushed and pulled my skin into a different shape, I realized it’d been forever since I baked bread.

Back in the waiting chair, People Magazine was shoved in my hands again.  I saw this subject title. photo-225

It dawned on me that all this time I thought celebrity women wanted for nothing.  Certainly not for lavish meals at big events. Imagine my surprise when I read these quotes and realized the abuse going on here.

photo-224photo-223

These poor dear women are being deprived of food.  And in this next case, deprived of oxygen too.

photo-222Or perhaps Busy Phillips was too darn Busy to breathe.  In any case, I made a mental note to start a charity and call it,  “Let’s get our celebrity female role models FED!”

Since it was such a long wait, I figured I would quickly pop into the ladies room and make sure my hair didn’t look like it was in too much need of “handling.” Wow, what a shiny bathroom! However I didn’t realize the sinks were motion activated, but I was able to rescue my purse when it was only half-way submerged.  I glanced at the soggy tampons and drenched makeup brush – – Oh well, this was a “water” themed salon so my purse would fit right in.  Besides, what else would a “fish out of water” carry on her arm?

At long last, the young, flawless Brita came over and purred, “I’m ready for you now.”  Then she stared at my purse so I said, “Oh!  Am I the first one you’ve seen with the new wet patent leather look?”

I walked over to her station with a graceful flourish, noting with satisfaction that I was garnering a lot of attention. No doubt some real “Lock Envy” going on as the other women got a gander at my “strategically windblown, Rat’s Nest, 80’s hairstyle, which looked not quite as classy as the photo below.  Almost, but not quite.

All the women in the salon are thinking, "Who does HER hair?  And wow, why is she even here?!"

All the women in the salon are thinking, “Who does HER hair? And Wow, why is she even here?!”

Brita draped a long, black cloth over my clothes and I could sense she was very sorry to have to obscure my Flashdance glittered, one-shouldered sweatshirt.  We exchanged tips on haircare and Brita seemed fascinated that I used a proprietary product from the Dollar Store simply named, “Hair Shampoo.” I think the elegance of its minimalism impressed her.  That kinda thing is really so very in these days, you know.  I was excited to see her reaction when I told her I was also chic enough to use a little special something called, “Hair Conditioner” before leaving the laundry room sink.

They played lots of modern music while Brita “handled” my hair.  I didn’t recognize any of the songs, but as soon as “Staying Alive” from Saturday Night Fever came on, the receptionist went to change the station.  Probably because she didn’t know how to do the finger pointing hand movement to the disco dance that traditionally accompanied it.  So I showed her.

Next, I happened to overhear the woman sitting in the chair next to me, (whispering to her own stylist named Evian?) if this was still an exclusive salon?

I must say that the entire employee staff was extraordinarily considerate about my busy schedule.  (See “Busy Stephanie” is just as frazzled as Busy Phillips above!) When I first made my appointment, I mentioned to the receptionist that I needed to pick up my son from school directly afterwards.  During my haircut, no less than six people approached me with a reminder, “Shouldn’t you be going now?”  So thoughtful.

On my way out, they handed me a referral card for my next haircut. But it was all written in French.  I waved, smiling shyly to my new dance partner friend and her assistant (maybe named Sparkletts and Aquafina?) behind the counter,  who suddenly both also only spoke French.  Strange.  “Au revoir!  Au revoir!” they happily repeated.

I drove home singing “Frère Jacques,” but quickly realized I had left my Swatch Watch and Leg-Warmers back in the salon when I had my massage.  I called them up from my cell phone,  but upon hearing my name, the gentleman told me in perfect English that Pellegrino’s had moved and left no forwarding address.  Well, that’s okay.  Brita would be thrilled to keep those items since I had forgotten to tip her.

Oh yeah – – so here’s the new hairstyle with some heart-shaped Designer sunglasses the Dollar Store just got in! But do you think I’ll be able to incorporate a Jane Fonda type headband into this new look next time I wanna impress a group of women?photo-231

NOTE:  Only two more days left to win one of two prizes by entering the VERY easy contest inside this post! Click here.  Deadline Friday!

The Blogcademy Awards (The Bloscars!) – Will You Win?

Image Credit to the Skyscanner.com who for some reason uses this word (which I thought I made up) to run a contest for Travel Bloggers. They appear to be an airline?

Image Credit to the Skyscanner.com who for some reason uses this word (which I thought I made up!) to run a contest for Travel Bloggers. They appear to be an Airline.

C’mon, admit it.  You just knew you’d find me with this Blog title today, right?  With my love of inventing Blogger Vocabularly (read here) and how I honored the Winter Olympics with “The Writer Olympics” (read here) and Super Bowl Sunday (read here) then it follows there must be an event called “The Bloscars.”

Now let’s walk the Red-Carpet and enter the actual Post to see the grandeur that awaits, shall we?  Beware of the Blogarazzi with their blinding camera flashes, whoops and hollers.  Smile nicely, with that odd, “look over your shoulder at who-the-hell-knows what” type of pose.  Maybe all bloggers should keep looking over their shoulder for the next odd thing to happen to them?photo-217

THE PRE-CEREMONY TIME WASTERS & A PRIZE!

Welcome! First of all – – instead of Ellen Degeneres and pizza, you’re stuck with me serving Blogdogs on Buns. Children Bloggers get CornBlogs.  Sorry.  I won’t pass a hat around for $ contributions, but please don’t blog one single word about how I didn’t take into account alternative meal options for Blegetarians and Blegans.  We like our blogs meaty here!  i.e. – – “Where’s the Beef  Blog ??”

photo-216Insert your Favorite Opening Dance Sequence Here to the left.  Idina Menzel (pronounce it however you like, but give John Travolta a break- – he’s barely “Staying Alive” since his Saturday Night Fever stint) can also sing “Let It Go” from the animated film, Frozen, which is what happens to Bloggers who refresh their Stats page too much.  Their computer freezes.

And yes, there will be a Selfie Photo Contest, so let’s take down Twitter…Wordpress!  No WordPressure, but please take a photo of the front page of your Blog the way that it looks on your laptop/computer with you (the proud Blog creator!)  in the photo as well.  Shy, retiring, inhibited, insecure, and/or paranoid Bloggers (that would be me) feel free to just portray your blog alone, without any human in the pic.   Put the photo or a link to the photo (since I don’t know if it’s even possible to post a photo here?  Some of the higher-tech Bloggers will tell me, no doubt) in the comments section and the winner (based on the most eye-catching, creative photo) will receive two movie passes. (or the equivalent of such, on an Amazon Gift Card)  Deadline will be this Friday, the 7th of March to post Selfie photos and a winner will be picked and prize awarded on my birthday, March 12th.  Since I will have nothing better to do on that day, other than to sob about turning 50.

And Now . . . The Blotion Picture Blogcademy Proudly Presents . . . THE BLOSCARS! (think of orchestras rising here)

During the silence that follows each category,  please imagine who would deserve this particular award in your own real life world or Online world that you call your Blogosphere.  I would never be so presumptuous as to start naming Names here!  The idea is to get YOU thinking about the kinds of people (bloggers and non-bloggers alike) that you consciously surround yourself with each and every day.  It CAN make a difference.

And the Featured Categories Are ????

Best Supportive Commenter:  Who regularly leaves you lots of love?

Best Editor:  Which individual do you count on to give your posts a onceover, so you don’t get blatant errors like “onceover” when published?

Best Original Score UnderScore: (Note: Strikeovers would also fall in this category)

Best Blog Header:  Your eye was drawn immediately!

Best Blog Background:  It compliments, rather than detracts.

Best Song: (Oh!  I feel another contest coming on!)  In the comments section below, please leave the one best song (with either a Title or the well known chorus lyrics) that would best suit your blog.  In other words, you would most want to have this song blasting when someone clicks open your blog.  Give a brief explanation as to why you chose this song. One winner will be announced (same dates given for the Selfie Photo contest above) and awarded a $20 itune Gift Card.  Looking again for Creativity here and some Wordplay. (See InspireTheWorld2Day (who happens to be the first entry) in the comments section below for a clear example.)

Best Tagger:  Who gets the best traffic from tags?

Best Motivator:  Who inspires your ideas?  Which individual do you most find yourself telling to “hold that thought” for a second while you jot something down in your “Blog Notebook”  You do have one of those, right?!?

Best Brusher-Off-er:  Who changes the subject the fastest when you bring up your Blog?

Best and Worse Dressed List

Clothing is a huge deal.  I know.  Just not here. And breasts are not going to be mentioned here at all.  If you want to know why, go here.   So alternatively,  there will be no hiring Mr. Blackwell  Blogwell to ogle (blogle) and rave or conversely rant/diss any certain Blogger’s Pajamas Attire – – but the following categories will rhyme with the word “Dressed” instead.  You should nod your head right about now and see this as a perfectly suitable solution.

Best Jest:  Favorite Non-Serious Blog

Best Guest:  Who regularly has the most interesting Blogger Guests writing for them?

Best Blessed:  Whose Blog seems to have the most Gratitude or Grace?

Best Addressed:  Who takes a Controversial Subject and Nails it?

Best Confessed:  Who takes the opportunity of blogging to bare their soul, show their authentic truth?

Best Assessed:  Who is the Best Reviewer you know.  Books, Movies, Food, etc. Their opinion matters to you!

Best Compressed:  Who can blog in the fewest words you know and still make it work?  Really distill down their ideas so you just get the concentrated bottom line from them?

Best Distressed & Stressed:  Who is always having an issue?  Yes, this could be a Drama Blog, but maybe not?

Best Obsessed:  Who focuses on just one topic every single solitary time, but you love them anyway?

Best Cardiac Arrest:  Who shocks you the most with their outrageousness?

Best Nest:  Which Parent Blogger gets the most “oohs and ahs” because their love of family shines through?

Best Quest:  Who seems to have the loftiest goal or purpose in Blogging?

Best Teenage Blogger who is wise beyond their years:  Hey that doesn’t rhyme?  That’s right, just seeing if you are paying attention.

Best Contest:  Who regularly has Blog Giveaways that excite you?

Best Pest:  Who is that Blogger you wish you could secretly Unfollow?

Best Rest:  Their Blog is where you hang out when you want to unwind and relax.

Best Pressed:  They haven’t been Freshly Pressed, but you think that’s just a matter of time. Either that or they make really good freshly squeezed orange juice.

Best Detest:  Okay, you hate their blog.  You don’t follow it at all, but you’re aware of its presence and you want them to clean up their act.

Best Intelligence Test:  Wow, are they just off the chart smart or what??  Do you even belong there as a reader?  Yep, you do!

Best Request:  They’re the Blog-Pleasers.  They will do what you ask because they want crowd approval.  But do you really know what they’re about?

Best Impressed: They are the equivalent of the  Name   Blog-Dropper who wants you to admire their Blog for the Flash, not the substance.

Best Protest:  They are never going to be happy unless they can keep blogging about how unhappy the world makes them.

Best Mae West:  “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”  That’s right, I finally ran out of rhymes that had any connection to blogging! And besides we needed a real movie star right about now.

Along with leaving a comment, Please don’t forget to enter one or both contests above (Selfie & Song) and we’ll see you next year at the BLOSCARS! Also signing up to follow my blog will guarantee you won’t miss the next time I get zany enough to decide to bizarrely tie a Giveaway Contest with a Posting Topic.