Archive for January, 2007

I’d Like to Announce My Candidacy

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Just kidding. I’m not running for President. Seems like everyone else is though. Just as I was enjoying the 2 months of peace since the assault of the midterm elections, here we are gearing up for 2008. Let’s all join in a collective groan. Grrrrrrroan.

The interesting thing is the candidates seem about as enthused as I am over the whole process. Have you heard some of the announcement speeches? Many look about as excited as someone facing a root canal. I can’t say I blame them. I’m not sure I’d be doing jumping jacks at the prospect of taking the reins in the middle of this mess. I may not be all that thrilled with some of the candidates, but I can’t help but respect their willingness to face things head on that make me want to hunker down in a closet and hide.

Early on, there are a few candidates who are going on and on about how it is time to make a change after 6 years of George Bush. Um, they do know he’s not allowed to run again in 2008, right? It’s time to make a change whether he is beloved or not. Since Dubya is not a contender for 2008, I really hope the candidates (Republican or Democrat) do what they can to talk about themselves and their actual opponents. This could be an insanely long 22 months if all the talk will be of the past. The past has been well documented by our faithful 24 hour news channels. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about who has done what and I’m more interested in learning what others plan to do.

To Spend Or Not To Spend…

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Retailers hate me. I am the type of shopper who gets more out of browsing than actually buying. It is not uncommon for me to carry an item around a store for a good 15 minutes only to put it away and walk out without making a purchase. I get enough pleasure simply imagining I might buy the item. Opening the wallet is a different story. It brings more pain than enjoyment.

Thanks to my Depression Era Grandfather, I can’t seem to make a purchase without weighing the cost against the need. My Grandfather once advised I should always consider how many working hours were necessary to afford something. Let’s say you make $20 an hour and you are holding a pair of pants that cost $60. Is that pair of pants worth the most grueling 3 hours of work you can remember? Thinking about individual purchases this way really takes the romance away from the cash register. There was a time when my mind would take me to all of the wonderful things the new item and I would experience together. After my Grandfather shared his wisdom, my mind was only able to focus on the past and what it took to earn the money retailers would love for me to hand them.

Though I may not have as much fun shopping as other people, I can’t think of an item I returned to a shelf or rack that I regret leaving behind. Interestingly enough, when I have made a purchase without using my Grandfather’s wisdom, I’ve noticed a greater frequency of disappointment in the item.

Not Guilty?

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Many people in the States have been following the story of the two missing Missouri boys who were found last week in the apartment of Michael Devlin. Mr. Devlin allegedly abducted Ben Ownby after he was dropped off near his home by a school bus. Fortunately, a classmate remembered seeing a truck in the vicinity of the bus stop and was able to accurately describe it to police. Police spotted a vehicle resembling the truck the child had described at an apartment building. Inside the apartment of the vehicle’s owner police found the missing boy and another boy who had been missing for over 4 years. Coincidence, I think not.

Mr. Devlin was arraigned this morning in Union, Missouri. He entered a plea of not guilty to charges of kidnapping 13 year old Ben Ownby. I understand the value of our country’s judicial system. Yes, everyone deserves due process. It is so frustrating to me when people who have clearly committed a crime clog up our courts, drain tax payer money and insult our intelligence with creative twists on why they are innocent or should be excused from punishment. I have no time for the Michael Devlin’s of this world. There is no doubt in my mind innocent people are accused of crimes on a regular basis. I can’t help but believe it makes it harder for the truly innocent to escape conviction with individuals like Mr. Devlin tainting our image of the Not Guilty plea. Of course, maybe I’m being too harsh and jumping to conclusions. Maybe young Ben was disenchanted with his life and begged Mr. Devlin, who just happened to be nearby, to kindly whisk him away in an old beat up truck to a new life in a tiny apartment with another missing boy and a strange man with child pornography on his computer.

It’s 5 to Midnight

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Have you heard the news about the Doomsday Clock? That’s the clock that factors in nuclear proliferation and environmental degradation to determine how much longer we have until the apocalypse. According to top scientists we are now hovering dangerously at 11:55 p.m. Yikes! News like this always makes me panic a bit. I scurried through the house turning off all unnecessary appliances and lights. It’s my small contribution to slowing down the journey to 11:56. I’d deactivate my nuclear bombs, but I can’t remember where I put them.

Watching my 9 month old daughter play on the floor as Fox News runs in the background with this report of impending catastrophe is difficult. What kind of future is she facing? There’s no way to know how far those remaining 5 minutes will stretch in real time. Rock star scientist Stephen Hawking has been quoted as saying the survival of the human race depends on our ability to colonize space. Uh-oh. If we can’t turn off light switches, carpool, stop driving gas guzzling cars, refrain from blowing each other up and make recycling a part of our daily ritual, how the heck are we going to pull of the incredible task of identifying a new planetary home, developing transport to get there and creating a society that will suddenly find a way to get along more effectively in its new digs? Fixing Earth 1 seems much easier than finding and developing Earth 2. Of course, there is the distinct possibility our world’s leaders aren’t going to do what it takes to fix Earth 1 or develop Earth 2. I suppose if humanity must come to an end, we can at least be comforted in the knowledge we’ve had a pretty good run.

Sorry Olive Garden

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

My husband and I enjoyed a date with our daughter yesterday at Amicci’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy. It’s the kind of place with a casual atmosphere, quick service and a smell of garlic that makes you wonder why a perfume hasn’t been created to match that incredible scent. While enjoying the shrimp dressed in garlic cream sauce and penne pasta entwined with sweet Italian sausage, marinated red peppers and ripe tomatoes, it is hard to fathom why there is a 60 minute wait at the local Olive Garden a mere 15 minutes away. Amicci’s isn’t more expensive. The wait is minimal. The service is so efficient your young children don’t even have time to melt down and ruin the meal.

The big selling point for Amicci’s is the fact my meal tasted better than what I might be able to pull off at home. That never happens at Olive Garden. I always think I could have done a better job. Granted, I didn’t have dishes to wash afterwards, but a clean kitchen isn’t my only motivation for enjoying a night out. I wonder what the draw is to these chain restaurants with long waits, less than inspiring food and cookie cutter atmospheres. Could it be the commercials featuring happy ethnic people telling us the food is like Mama’s? In truth, we really don’t know how good of a cook their mama is/was. Is it the promise we will feel like family? Perhaps that little tiff with the waitress when we indicated we had no interest in hearing her wine selections (both non drinkers) was staged to feel like a spat with my sister. What about the draw of the giant black olives? I can’t be the only soul so in love with the black olives in their salads that my mind fails to remind me I can simply pop open a can from my pantry home. It’s a real possibility I have given Olive Garden business for years just to enjoy an olive tucked in with some lettuce.

As I sat in Amicci’s yesterday, I realized it is the kind of place that makes you feel good. The thought the small restaurant with unique appeal might some day lose the battle against the Olive Gardens of this world made me ill. Though my husband and I like to explore different places near us, we often fall into the trap of craving what a commercial has told us to crave. We shell over $40 of our hard earned money for an experience we will forget (or at least try to) in short order. In Amicci’s honor, we will do our best to keep that to a minimum moving forward. There are so many different experiences waiting to be enjoyed. It seems silly to spend any more hours crammed in a door entrance waiting for a hostess to allow us our turn at a meal of salt and cardboard.

What Does He Mean It’s Gone?!!

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Jack Whittacker, winner of a $315M Powerball prize ($113M after taxes) in December of 2002, claims his money is gone. In just over 4 years he is supposedly broke. According to him, thieves stole his money after gaining access to his bank accounts and cashing a series of checks. First of all, who keeps that kind of money in a checking account? Second of all, what bank is going to let checks large enough to bleed this man of his fortune simply go through without a question? There are definitely some holes in this man’s story. Do I doubt the money is gone? Not entirely. Is it possible thieves played a hand in his circumstance? Sure. This man has been in the news quite a bit as a result of some of the circles he travels in. Relatives have died of drug overdoses. He himself has made headlines for his gambling and alcohol usage. Making good choices does not appear to be a habit for him.

Still, $113M is a lot of money. To imagine how a man wearing Wrangler jeans and a plaid shirt could have gone through that many Ben Franklins is impossible. Where did it all go? He must have some assets as a result of his fortune he could translate into cash. Perhaps he bought some real estate, a few cars, fancy paintings or statues that could be sold for money. Please tell me it wasn’t all lost to drugs, alcohol, thieves and gambling. If it’s true, the man is not only broke, he’s broken.

I’d like to believe if I ever found myself dripping in dollars that I’d make better choices and preserve some sort of financial security for myself. As for Jack Whittaker, what’s done is done. The best he can do is check under the couch cushions in the hopes money fell from his pockets when they were still thick with bills and coins.

Inner Child

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

My 9 month old daughter is now able to play. Her ability to crawl and grab things broadens the types of activities we can enjoy together. Our favorite games are peek-a-boo and chase. When we are feeling mellow we play with her Little People Barnyard and Fisher Price Learning Table. My daughter’s giggles are magic to my ears. Knowing she is having a good time interacting with me makes me feel wonderful as a mother. In addition to providing immense maternal satisfaction, our play is also showing me how to have fun again. It’s hard to be stressed or overly serious while making animal noises and crawling around on the floor. Sharing my daughter’s experiences is allowing me the opportunity to get in touch with my inner child.

I suspect many adults have a secret desire to forget they are 30, 40, 50 or 60 for a while. Some, like me, relive their youth through childlike activities. Others rely on clothing or gadgets to help them feel younger at times. There are all sorts of ways to accomplish the task. My least favorite is when people decide to find their inner child by behaving like one during a difficult situation. Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell’s current spat comes to mind. They are carrying on in public in a way that reminds me of my high school days. All of the name calling, whining and note sending is worthy of a good week in detention. I’m so glad I found a positive way to relive being a kid. Mooing like a cow and meowing like a kitten is much more appealing to me than announcing someone is a loser or ugly and writing letters about how someone stabbed so-and-so in the back by calling whosey-whatsis a you know what.

My advice to Donald & Rosie, go play on the living room floor with your kids for a bit.

Perfect Teeth

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

I would love to have perfect teeth. My smile is the one thing I would change about myself. It’s not that my teeth are crooked or rotten. I was blessed with straight teeth that have only endured 2 cavities. My complaints are the subtle gaps between my teeth and the fact a few of my top pearly whites are a bit small compared to their neighbors. Several dentists have encouraged me to consider a smile renovation. “You’re a perfect candidate,” they say. Supposedly it wouldn’t take much to make a dramatic and positive change.

Aside from my fear of the dentist’s chair, another concern prevents me from jumping on the makeover bandwagon. What if improving my smile opens my eyes to other things that need fixing? It’s not impossible. My husband and I painted the walls of a small bathroom and suddenly all of the other walls in our home looked shabby. Once all of the walls were painted our dingy kitchen appliances stuck out like a sore thumb. The new appliances gave light to how outdated our countertops are becoming. We haven’t acted on changing the countertops because it is painfully obvious how wrong our cabinets will become afterwards. Looking back, we may have been happier, and certainly wealthier, had we simply left that boring bathroom alone.

See why the decision to improve my smile is giving me trouble? Once I’m no longer distracted by gaps and such, who knows what facial lines and saggy something-or-others will jump out at me. It’s bad enough on the week that follows a new haircut and color. My hair looks so good, there’s no way I can go without make-up. Imagine if I had good hair and good teeth. Nothing positive can come from it, if you ask me.

Not That Excuse

Monday, January 8th, 2007

In the past week that I’ve been sick I’ve been doing a lot of surfing on the internet to kill time. I’ve found some interesting blogs I will refrain from linking to my site. They are great reads but the language can be a bit strong at times and I don’t want to catch anyone off guard.  One site that has entertained me to no end is a blog dedicated to outlining why the modern woman is worthless. Why men should run for their lives and save themselves. Aside from the fact some lump all women in together when it comes to certain behaviors, most of the content is thought provoking.  If it weren’t for the fact I’m pretty confident I’m not the selfish, manipulative, princess like female they are describing, I might be offended.  In truth, I can think of several women I’ve met who fit the bill on a lot of their complaints.

To the point of this blog, the site I’ve been reading is clearly intended for a male audience. No where does the blogger give any hint he is worried about turning away any female readers upset by his message. Interestingly enough, there are several women there who have made it their cause to try to change these men and prove them wrong. One such poster contributed a series of comments that started out nice and turned into a ridiculous rant of name calling and such. I guess she doesn’t blog enough to realize comments aren’t always posted immediately. She thought the blogger was intentionally skipping her comments and couldn’t stop from submitting follow up comments with all sorts of rationale as to why he wasn’t a big enough man to share her thoughts with his blog readers. Let me tell you, she got pretty creative. When ALL of her comments appeared the following day she read like a first class idiot. Of course, the men there had a field day with this. She realized immediately she was in the wrong and attempted to back peddle. She had a reason for her burst of insanity. Any guesses on what it was? She justified her less than noble behavior on having her period. Yep, her period made her interpret the situation incorrectly and type those vicious words. Considering the mood of the site, any guesses as to how understanding these men were when she offered her excuse? Not very. It was terribly embarrassing to watch them skewer and roast her over attempting to use her period as a hall pass for saying stupid things on a site primarily intended for men.

I really hate it when my fellow woman perpetuates the myth having a period turns us into ridiculous nitwits one week out of every month. Not only that, we hate it when men suggest we must have our period when we are upset. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be offended when a man implies such a thing, but throw out “my period made me do it” when we make a mistake or lose our mind over something. I’m fortunately a woman who has not been overcome by my period. I’ve always managed to stay in the driver’s seat when she is around. If I felt I was in any danger of being taken over by her though, I would run for the magical aisle in the grocery store of tiny white pills that take you to a land of sunshine and daisies. Problem solved.

Don’t Get Sick

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Can you die from a cold? If so, I may be near death. My chest growls, I can’t hear out of either ear, the burning in my throat & nose is immense and I’m even annoying myself with my nonstop coughing. My jaw is too stiff and sore to talk! Horrors!!!

To spare my husband and infant daughter I’ve been sleeping on the couch at night to suffer the perils of this cold alone. Of course, my husband offers in a soft voice I should stay in bed where I am comfortable. He delicately protests my self-imposed sentence of couch and afghan. Interestingly enough, when I grab my pillow and make for the living room, he doesn’t leap from our bed and wrestle me down on the soft mattress. He doesn’t tuck me back under the covers and demand I convalesce in the soothing surroundings of our room. Nope, he rolls over, yawns and utters that he loves me and hopes I feel better in the morning. So much for my noble knight. I don’t blame him though. We can’t all lose sleep just because I’m sick. Tell me why I can’t hear a darn thing, yet I can still detect my husband snoring comfortably in our bed while one floor down on our living room sofa?

Back to being sick, what really is hard to get past is I have essentially had an intimate encounter with someone who doesn’t have a face. I have connected on a cellular level with someone, but whom? Was it my slobbery three year old niece who insisted on kissing me on the mouth? Perhaps it was the Hank Williams t-shirt wearing truck driver who grabbed the door handle right before me? Gosh I hope it wasn’t that shrill woman working the counter at the reststop hamburger joint we visited while on the toll road. She and I had no chemistry. I’d hate to think I actually let her get to 5th base with me. For my own sanity, I should probably shut this line of thinking off.

Yet again, back to being sick.  I really try not to be a germaphobe. It’s a constant battle and I’m a frequent hand washer as a result. When my mind starts to process all of the microscopic human debris circulating around me, it’s almost too much to take. That’s part of the reason I’m always amazed when I get sick. With the precautions I adhere to, it just shouldn’t happen. I suppose I should appreciate the fact I at least am not ill as often as others.

On a closing note, I would like to assure everyone I am doing my part to stop the cycle of unsolicited intimacy. I have remained at home, contained my germy output and have washed my hands regularly like a good girl. If anyone else gets sick, I am determined to be sure it is not from me. I do contend the world would be a better place if everyone took just a minute longer to wash their hands, made extra sure to have a hanky near by for that surprise sneeze and did their best to hibernate while battling the demon that is the common cold.