Songs That Freaked Me Out When I Was a Kid
Posted on May 10, 2014
So, it’s been a while, my friends. You’ll be happy to know that I recently took one of those quizzes that everyone posts about on Facebook- you know the ones- the “What color are you?” and “What were you in your past life?” and “Why are you taking this meaningless quiz?” ones. The recent one I took was a quiz to determine what my perfect career (or something like that) would be, and, since I already found out that my evil twin is Voldemort, I figured I’d give it a go.
Well, what do you know, the quiz determined that I should be a Writer, so, this is Destiny, folks. Thus, I thought it very important that I try to write a little more in my spare time, rather than sitting in a t.v. land coma for hours on end. Plus, the EPL final matches aren’t until Sunday, so, I’ve got some time.
Anyway. Yesterday morning my lights were flickering a bit, and for some reason, the song, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” popped into my head. And it got me to thinking about how that song freaked me out a little when I was a kid. Now, I had to do a little searching on this particular song, because frankly, I had no idea of what the song was about. I just know that a song about lights randomly going off in an entire state sounded very spooky and unnatural to my kid mind. Plus, there was something about a hanging in there. But, the lights going out…. that was really bad.
(On a side note, I thought I was mistaken in my search because many of the song references indicated “Vicki Lawrence” somewhere in the blurb. I thought they meant a different Vicki Lawrence, that they couldn’t mean the Carol Burnett lady, or that the Carol Burnett lady had made a funny parody of the song. Boy, was I surprised.)
So, yeah. Songs about blackouts freaked me out. Never mind the hanging part.
Now let’s move on to another song that popped into my head soon thereafter. Linda Papa, you might appreciate this one. It’s “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves” by our beloved Cher. (and I know, it’s “gypsies” not “gypsys”) I actually really liked that song, but it was very confusing and a bit scary to my kid mind. For one thing, someone in the narrator’s song “preached a little gospel,” and I have to say, preachers freaked me out a little (no offense to any of you preacher folk out there). I didn’t know exactly what they were, but I knew they weren’t priests, and there was usually some kind of yelling and seizure activity happening in their presence, and that scared me. Not to mention, this particular preacher was selling “Dr. Good,” and that didn’t seem like an honest thing for someone to do.
Plus, there were all sorts of other nefarious goings on in that song. I didn’t know what the men in the night were laying their money down for, but it surely was something bad, because it’s a very dramatic line in the song. Even my kid mind knew that something serious and weird was going on there. Not good.
As I’m writing this, and before I get to my last two freaky songs, I thought of “Love Rollercoaster,” and I suppose I should throw this one in for good measure. I think it was one of my New York cousins who planted the seed about the scream and the murder/someone falling to their death accompaniment in the background. And once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it, and they didn’t have Wikipedia back then, so, for a pretty long time (until about ten minutes ago), I believed the legend. That’s some scary crap for a kid to hear. Worse than Justin Bieber.
A quick high-five goes to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” for bumming me out at a young age. It’s just awful. There was nothing confusing about what happened in that little ditty, and sometimes that’s even worse. When you know that everyone died and they rang the church bells 29 times and some lake referred to as “Gitche Gumme” was surely some attempt at dark humor, because it sounded like something fun was going to happen there. It didn’t.
And last on the list. Probably my first heartbreak song that I can recall from my youth. Another awful one. It’s “Wildfire.” You know, “she ran calling Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiild-fire…. she ran calling Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiild-fire….” Ugh. I want to cry just hearing that in my head. No clue as to what that song was about (until about ten minutes ago), but I know there was a horse in there, and a storm, and the horse was lost, because the lady was running around looking for him. A song about a horse lost in a storm was pretty much the ultimate awful thing that could ever be sung or written in my kid mind. Heck, maybe even my adult mind. I didn’t even care about the lady, I felt bad about the horse.
So, in thinking about all these wonderful songs from my youth, it brings to mind the question of whether the younger generation could write a blog post similar to this. Since most of the songs I mention here freaked me out because I was confused about exactly what was going on, I’m guessing that the younger folk around here would have a bit of fodder for their posts. Though, sadly, not overly prolific fodder. “I was really freaked out by that song…. they kept beeping out words and my mother would never tell me what they meant!”
And, while their “confusing” songs may have been about wanton scenarios, and maybe some murders, and things that occurred during (actual) blackouts, it just isn’t the same. Sure, I’m an old cranky lady now, but these folks have missed out, in my opinion. They can just google the lyrics and avoid 38 years of confusion and angst. That doesn’t seem right.
Someone should write a song about that.
Magical Fruit? More Like WMD’s……
Posted on January 28, 2014
So, anyone who knows me probably has a pretty good idea of my opinion on beans. Yes, beans. An old friend of mine and I used to share a titter about my reaction in a restaurant to a particular menu item, that of a delectable dish named, “19-Bean Soup.” “Oh my God, are you kidding??? It’s not just one type of bean….not two… but nineteen different types of beans in there?!” Probably funnier if you were there, but, for Pete’s sake, what a nightmare.
Over the years, I have developed a sort of tolerant relationship with beans. And if you’re asking me, “What type of beans, Catherine?”, I’m telling you, it’s pretty much all beans. I don’t discriminate. They’re all kind of gross, even though they’re all different, with different flavors and consistencies. I’m not sure how that pasty mush concoction known as “baked beans” (even when enhanced with the flavor of bacon), is remotely connected with black beans or kidney beans, but they’re all beans, and they’re all gross. I guess the Bean Gene is just not in my DNA. Anyway, I’ve learned to be okay, and almost rather like green beans. With olive oil, garlic, and almonds, or in a salad with vinegar. But just the green ones, no mixing them in with those dreadful yellow ones, or, saints preserve us, chick peas (or any other type of peas, for that matter) (which could be a whole ‘nother post).
I once mentally noted, while Spenser was growing up, that he was going to be deprived of certain things in his gastronomic experiences, because there was no way I was going to prepare any sort of bean (except maybe green) and expect him to eat it. I don’t know if this is a generational thing, but I remember forcing down some pretty gross things in my days as a kid in the Interlicchio household. I suppose my mother must have liked beans, and thus, this was a normal thing to place upon the table. And, since there were starving children in Africa, I had bloody well eat them.
If you grew up in that generation (oo, I feel old saying that), spreading the unwanted items around your dish, or attempting to hide a few under the rim, or taking a mouthful and gingerly stepping to the bathroom lest you accidentally bite into one on your way to discard them in the toilet, or tossing random ones under the table, to the feet of other family members (owning a dog would have been a real asset), was a routine part of your dining experience.
Part of me used to wonder if my parents’ generation had a particularly sadistic (or masochistic, because they actually ate that stuff) nature, or if this was just their way of getting back at their parents for forcing them to eat that crap in their childhood.
Anyway, what has inspired me to write this compelling post on the nature of beans is this: I recently made a stew concoction in my crockpot, and, being the conscientious and caring mother I am, threw in some frozen vegetables towards the end of the stewing time.
Imagine my surprise when I saw some things in there that looked confoundingly similar to these things known to the general world as “lima” beans. I realized, with horror, that either the supermarket had mis-labeled my bag of “winter mix” vegetables, or, I had simply chosen the wrong bag.
I considered picking them out before they sank into the mire of beef, soy sauce, and tomato, but, decided against it. Because something you do, when you’re a bean hater, is to hope that the other flavors or food items of the dish will be enough to cover the flavor of those nefarious items lumped onto your plate. Not to mention that it’s always good to re-try things you hated as a kid. Heck, maybe I’ll even like lima beans!
I’ve re-discovered that lima beans are pretty #*)!_@@#% disgusting. Still. Not only that, but even after 8 plus hours of cooking in a crock pot, when the other, congenial food items have naturally broken apart, and become tender and flavored with the delightful juices in their neighborhood, the lima bean has the (un)natural ability to stay completely intact. And to repel any other flavors which might invade its shell. Yes, the lima bean retains all of its glorious lima bean flavor.
This, of course, led me to the reflection that lima beans could be used as weapons in the ultimate biological (heck, even nuclear) warfare. Not only did they have the likely capability to endure extensive hours of heat and eventual impact/explosion, but the unfortunate enemies upon which they rained down would be forced to eat them in their dire circumstances. If the explosion didn’t kill them, certainly the ridiculous lima bean flavor would.
I know this sounds a little far-fetched, but, my fellow bean-haters will recognize the value of what is written here. There is nothing magical about beans. And, they make you toot. And you know how I feel about that.
Jesus Hides in the Teapot and Other Holiday Traditions
Posted on December 18, 2012
So, we dragged out our 287 bins of Christmas regalia from the attic the day after Thanksgiving, and I’ve slowly been removing and “organizing” (ha) the mess. Since my attic is disguised as a terrible Black Hole of Bins, I recently discovered some forgotten items from Christmases long past.
After doing an initial inventory clean-out of lights that either half work or are completely dead, forcing myself to discard some of the 879 little packets of spare bulbs and fuses, and getting rid of things that I surely won’t use (moldy, mouse-eaten pine cones cannot be recycled, alas), I am ready to continue with the actual task of decorating.
Anyway, I might have mentioned before that I am a Christmas junkie, and I am a completely sentimental sap about the whole thing. Tonight I decided to resurrect our Dollar Store Village. You know how people have those lovely displays of Department 56 villages and wintry wonderlands? Well, being the cheap and generally broke gal that I am, I decided probably 20 years ago or so that the Dollar Store buildings would be a sufficient alternative.
Over the years our little collection grew, with each year bringing one or two new pieces to our cheap town, and even some miniature carolers thrown in to the mix on occasion (those items went quick at the Dollar Store, let me tell you!). When Spenser got older, it was his “job” to set up the village. One year we had about 943 Hot Wheels cars jamming up the streets. Another year, we added a Santa Claus riding a choo choo and he was bigger than most of the buildings in the town. We also had a Christmas tree that was small, even by Charlie Brown standards. We added lights, fake snow which mostly decorated every floor in the apartment and was made out of God knows what, and we eventually had to use TWO bookshelves to contain our mecca of holiday wonders.
For some reason (ie, The Attic), we haven’t displayed our fancy village in a few years, it seems. So this year, I’m bringing it back! Along with my Dollar Store glass Nativity figurines, which always have a place of honor somewhere. And my Dollar Store “Cookies for Santa” glass dish (it’s hand painted!).
Now, I do actually have some nice, non-Dollar Store Christmas decorations. But I think that even if were to hit the lottery some day, I’d still be hauling out the Dollar Store regalia. Why? Because they’re a reminder of more innocent times. They’re a reminder to be humble. They’re a reminder of what it means to make do with what you’ve got, and to try to make the best of it.
While I do get a little obsessive about my Christmas tree and having proper color “themes” in each of my rooms (it’s amazing how switching from a bright blue to a dark red couch can wreak havoc on ornament coordination), I still have a lot of junk and non-matching stuff that I won’t get rid of. But! Since it’s getting late, and we’ve just surpassed the 500 word-mark, I’m going to make you wait to hear about why Jesus hides in the teapot and whether Spenser has been successful in gluing together a terra cotta angel which remained intact for twenty years but suffered an unfortunate fall in the bathroom the other day.
Posted on October 6, 2012
Over the past week or two, I have been in a delightfully (though somewhat angry) organizational mindset, which has made my attic and closet the target of an intense makeover. I have discussed this strange and rare phenomena with friends, and we have all agreed that you really need to be in the correct mindset when taking on such projects.
Frankly, you have to be a little disgusted and angry. Depressed is NOT a good mindset when it comes to organizing your closet. Depressed is not a good mindset, because everything will go into the “possibly keep” or “decide later” pile, rather than in the “throw out immediately” or “donate” pile.
“How can I throw this out? I wore it on my first date with Charlie in 1972!”
“Well, I know that I never found a pair of fluorescent pink shoes to match this top, but you never know…. I could find them, and if I get rid of this out now, I’ll be pissed!”
“If I lose just another five pounds, this might look really good!”
Well, the planets aligned; I was in a properly angry mindset, and, God be praised, a local charity has deposited one of those large green clothing and shoes receptacles right across the street from my home. Let me tell you, folks, those large green receptacles are a huge incentive when it comes to closet cleaning.
Do you know how many times I have gone through my clothes, gathered many a “donate” bag full of items, and then put them right back into the attic? That big green box, right there across the street, was my beacon of hope. Plus, the angry mood helped.
So let’s address that further.
Being in an angry mood does wonders when it comes to throwing or giving things away.
As I mentioned, rather than feeling sentimental towards articles of clothing, you feel pissed instead that you are pathetically holding on to something that is associated with someone who probably turned out to be an a$$hole who broke your heart. Or you notice that you had forgotten about a lot of those “when I lose five pounds” items, and, since you’ve lost forty pounds, the items are now completely worthless and look like crap. (If that isn’t a mood brightener, I don’t know what is..) And I know this may come as a shock to you, but rather than negatively thinking, “well, I better keep this just in case I gain the weight back,” I think, “screw this! I’m dumping it!” And knowing that I’m donating this item to someone who has possibly been searching all their lives for a fluorescent pink top makes the parting that much sweeter.
Today, however, I realized that I have one small problem with the dumping of certain clothes; the clothes that are definitely not green-box worthy now, nor were they ten years ago, when they were already ten years old.
After having filled two large bags with clothing and never-worn but they were on sale shoes, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve resurrected some forgotten items, gleefully donated jeans which were too big, and located three previously missing winter gloves. Feeling positively fearless, I finally delved into my dresser drawers, which are generally for my underwear, socks, and clothes which do not need to be hung in a closet.
Now this may seem perfectly innocent, but the fact is, clothes which do not need to be hung in a closet are basically my junk clothes, or clothes that I will not wear in public. Sweatpants (and I mean the real kind of sweatpants… heavy, old, with elastic around the ankles, circa 1992), tee shirts with paint stains, workout clothes (like the tank tops with the built in bras that you would never wear to the gym but thought that maybe you might, some day, so you bought them anyway), things like that.
I came across three pairs of sweatpant-like items. I remembered that one pair had felt and looked great when I first wore them, but had shrunk in length after the first washing, and I never threw them out because I was pissed that they had been so awesome, even if only for that one day. I tried them on again, and, while they were still too short, I wore them for the day, because I wanted one last go round with them.
The other two pairs were also too short. Like, too short to even wear with slippers. But ohhhh goodness, were they comfy. So I folded them back up, to be placed in my drawers, because, and I’m 100% serious here, I thought, “these would be good to wear when I’m sick.”
I know, you think I’m already sick. That’s not the kind of sick to which I’m referring. Though I suppose comfy clothes are nice for mentally sick people as well. The sick I’m speaking of involves either staying in bed all day, or generally shuffling around the house in a listless manner (more so than usual, I mean), but attempting to seem somewhat human by actually being in clothing, rather than your pajamas.
I admit that it gave me food for thought that I am now saving clothes for when I am sick, rather than for when I lose another five pounds or find the matching shoes, but strangely, I struck it from my mind rather immediately, and felt it was completely reasonable to have sick clothes in my dresser. Some folks save their clothing for future happy times of weight loss or school reunions where they plan to wear that hot dress. I apparently have more lofty visions of shuffling around in highwaters when I’m sick.
Pretty inspiring, I think.
In a slightly sick way. I know.
Death Means Nothing
Posted September 15, 2012
Goodness, it’s been ages since I have felt like writing. Sometimes I get a little too pensive about things, and it’s nothing very amusing to blog about, so, be thankful, I’ve spared you some agony.
But, since I don’t want you to think me completely heartless and only full of sarcasm, I’ll write this one time about some ponderings that I’ve had during my not even close to daily walks in the neighborhood.
If you have ever watched any of those movies or television series dealing with the end o’ the world and/or the zombie apocalypse, you may notice that there are certain issues that are never really addressed. Yes, there are big issues like our animalistic instincts or doubts about killing our spouses when they’ve gone zombie on us, but there are other, “smaller” things that are never mentioned, that kind of annoy me.
Stephen King seems to be able to touch on some of these things in his novels; he downplays some of the enormity of the big issue and makes things viewable at the personal level. It may be in just a sentence here or there, but they count. “Janie was chopped in half when she went to water her garden.” “Bob died from a paper cut that became infected.” “Yazu died after a stomach bug left him dehydrated after the water ran out.” “Everything was silent because all of the birds and animals were dead.” No, those aren’t actual quotes, but you get the idea. Little, private things that happen, as a result of the Big Thing in progress.
When I’m on one of my pensive walks, I am always, and I mean, always, astounded by the beauty of our world, and how strange it would be if it ceased to exist. The wind as it blows through the branches of the trees. The squirrels dodging traffic in their frantic rush to do whatever it is they’re always rushing to do. The peacefulness and quiet beauty of a cemetery, which will be lost if the zombie thing goes down.
Yes, there will be other things on our minds when the apocalypse rolls around, like, figuring out how not to starve and whether it’s okay to eat your neighbor’s dog, but what about the other things? Like, being able to have a good cup of coffee? Or not worrying that once your cigarettes are all gone, they’re really gone? Or not being able to flush the toilet? And not being able to take a leisurely walk because your cousin down the street wants to eat your brains?
Since I have plans to survive the zombie apocalypse, I know that once I’m past the whole initial excitement of robbing stores for food and hiding in a cave to avoid my undead friends and Family, I’m going to be pretty pissed about the coffee thing. And I know that I will notice that the birds are not singing, the squirrels aren’t dodging, and the breeze is not blowing. I’m pretty sure that if I had the time to write in my cave, it would be all about the little things that I miss. Including my walks in the Jewish cemetery down the street.
There is a gravestone there with the quote “Death Means Nothing. Whatever we were to each other, we are still.” How pretty is that? A little off topic, but too bad.
So, yes, my friends, here’s my advice for the few pre-apocalypse months we have remaining: Appreciate everything you see. Know that you are fortunate to be in a world where the wind still blows and the neighbor’s dog is just a dog. Appreciate the crickets at night and the fact that your toilet flushes and even the fact that you think there may be a mouse family living in your home somewhere.
And worry not. I will be around to write about these things, in case you forget. Check out my cave when you get the chance. I’ll likely have a store of the world’s remaining coffee, and a nice percolator coffee pot. I’m planning ahead.
Hugging Makes It Worse
Posted on July 18, 2012
Of the people in this lovely world of ours, there are those who are known as “huggers” and those who are not. There are also the kissie types, but, if you grow up in an Italian Family, that is a foregone conclusion, of which you have no choice in the matter.
Now, I happen to be a hugger, and a kissie type, but I generally reserve these signs of affection for greeting people. I may even be on the reserved end of hugger-osity. I’ve noticed that there are some out there who seem to really dig the hug thing, and I’ve discovered that I’m not a huge fan. A short, 2 second hug is fine, anything longer than that is just awkward to me.
We once had an “Employee Week” at an office in which I worked, during which there would be all kinds of surprises and stress reducing activities for the employees who worked there. Ice cream socials, cookouts, chair massages, psychologists, etc. I was mortified about the massage thing, and was endlessly harassed that I refused to have my stress “reduced” by having some stranger touching me. My (male) team lead even walked up behind me and massaged my shoulders (don’t do that!) saying how much it would relax me. (why would someone do that? If I said I didn’t like spiders, would he gather them up and put them on my desk?)
Now, I know that seemed a little off-topic, but the point of the massage story is that there are some things that I consider too intimate to be sharing with a non-paramour. Don’t worry, this is not going to get dirty, Mom. Long hugs, massages, weeping uncontrollably, those things are not to be shared with co-workers, or distant cousins, in my humble opinion. They’re for private times.
Bringing us back to the subject at hand, I’d like to talk about “comfort” hugs. I feel that “comforting” hugs do not feel comforting. As a matter of fact, I think that hugging makes a sad situation even worse. Comfort hugs make me want to cry. That’s not comfort. That’s misery.
I don’t know if it’s just my personal thing, but frankly, I don’t want to cry in someone’s arms. Unless it happens to be the arms of one of my various lumberjack I’m-here-to-protect-you boyfriends, of course. Other than that, I don’t like them. I suppose that the intention of the comfort hug is to let the person know that you care about them, share their sorrow, and to allow the person to “let it out” if needed. Honestly, I don’t want to let it out. I’m trying to hold it in, because maybe I’ve been letting it out all day long behind closed doors and need to have an hour or two of non-bloodshot eyes and non-Rudolph-like nose.
I had a friend once who was going through a very difficult personal matter, and she was crying hysterically in my arms. For a long time! Longer than 2 seconds, at least. Obviously, this is something that she needed, and apparently it was comforting to just break down in the arms of a friend. I remember thinking at the time, apart from doing the whole soothing thing, how long I was required to maintain the hug. I know, that sounds awful, but I couldn’t fathom how crying more in someone’s arms could be helpful. I guess I feel that sorrow is a very personal and private matter, and I would rather be distracted by humor or doing the distracting, rather than honing in on the thing that’s making us upset in the first place. Is that weird?
I don’t think so. I’m not some stoic, cold fish, and I believe in the whole cleansing process of crying your eyes out. If people need long hugs, that’s fine. I guess I’m just not the go-to guy in that department. I’ll bake you a cake, I’ll tell you a joke, I’ll give you a 5 second hug if you really need it. But unless you’re a lumberjack boyfriend, don’t expect more than that, and don’t ever massage my shoulders. No matter how stressed I appear.
Posted July 24, 2012
Earlier this year, my family encountered the task of planning the wake and funeral for my father. When it came to the topic of music selection, we discussed the standard choices, and further discussed the fact that many of these songs did not feel “uplifting.” The main reason being the fact that you only hear these songs sung at funerals; thus, your present sad occasion is now linked to every other sad occasion you have experienced throughout your lifetime. I could be at a circus, and if I heard the strains of “Here I Am, Lord” somewhere, it would bring on instantaneous sadness and tears.
The best Funeral Mass I have ever attended was that of my friend’s father. It’s interesting that the speeches you always hear at such occasions is that we should be celebrating the life of the person who has passed, but there is never anything that really appears to be celebratory, in my eyes. Yes, there is the idea that it is glorious that the person is now in Heaven, and I think that is what the stock song selections are supposed to impart, but to me, there is absolutely no comfort in that. At the Mass I mentioned above, there was a gospel choir. There were people dancing at the Mass. It was sad, but it was uplifting. This particular congregation really got the idea of celebrating a person’s life, and being sad yet joyful about the whole Heaven thing. The entire time I was thinking, “This is what I want for my Mass… this is how it should always be done..”
Now, I do not consider myself an overly religious person, but I do have my own ideas about death and the afterlife. I am not uncomfortable with the idea of death, or of kneeling before bodies, and I am generally at peace with the idea of what happens when a person leaves this Earth. I honestly do not need anything extra for comfort (you already know my stance on hugging), and truly, most of the things surrounding our mourning rituals and traditions harbor quite the opposite effect. I am “okay” with our current rituals, but I think there could be some improvements.
I have to say that I am conflicted about the whole idea of an “open” casket at a wake. We have all heard the jokes of how strange it is to hear the comment that someone “looks good” while lying in state, when in fact, they are dead. I’m really not sure the purpose of having viewing hours. I’m guessing that it is to provide the opportunity for folks to have one last look at a loved one, and perhaps it provides comfort in some way. Often, though, the person in the casket looks nothing like the photos or memory reels that play back in one’s head. When I think of my father, I think of his days in his garden, of him dancing with my mother, of him sitting on the couch with his dark farmer’s tan shown off by a contrasting white shirt. I didn’t need a “one last look,” because I already knew him in my heart and in my mind. I can’t imagine that seeing the shell of the person you love is comforting, in any way. It’s really rather strange, and maybe even a little morbid.
I understand that older generations have different feelings on this subject, and of course, I mean no disrespect of any sort. I just know, though, after years of this particular type of experience, that I want something different for myself, when I go. I have given explicit instructions to my son that there must be a gospel choir around somewhere, and that I’m pretty sure I don’t want anyone looking at my dead body which will probably be sporting some weird hairdo, too much makeup, and a double chin. I have threatened to haunt him or anyone who suggests “On Eagle’s Wings” or “Here I am Lord” to be sung at my services. If we absolutely have to do the whole walking behind my coffin into church thing, the song better be a good one.
I’m not saying we have to be happy and cheerful when a person dies, but I’m not sure that singing these horrible songs and having the open casket is helpful. It’s certainly not comforting nor uplifting. Not to me, at least. I know that I will have more of these sad occasions to attend in my lifetime (I have hit my quota for this year, though, so I forbid anyone else in my family to die), and I will always be okay up until the point when one of those songs are sung, but I do take some comfort in the fact that when I’m attending my own wake and funeral, I won’t be depressed and using an entire box of tissues.
Free eBooks Are Free for a Reason
Posted June 29, 2012
Okay, so you’ve heard me talk about my love and addiction to my Kindle. The whole reason I wanted one was due to the fact that I am a voracious reader, and was becoming concerned that my home would become a fire hazard due to the number of books inhabiting my space. I also thought that it would somehow be cheaper for me, but I haven’t quite sorted that out just yet. Hardcover versions are definitely cheaper, but still not as cheap as the paperbacks I can get at WalMart.
Anyway, before I would indulge myself and spend a whole $8.99 on a book, I decided to check out the free ebooks that were offered. Of course, there are all of the classics that are available to read, but there are others as well, usually by authors I am unfamiliar with. This is not a stretch, though, because my experience with modern authors is really only relegated to about 5 or 6 names, and I stick to them like glue.
So, I decided to try a few. What I eventually came to learn is that these free books are free for a variety of reasons:
1. The book is the first of a series, and the free book is a teaser, to encourage the reader to purchase the other 321 books in the series.
2. The book is a self-published book
3. The author is “published”, but by some unknown publishing company, likely located in someone’s basement
Now, I had no real idea about the whole self-publishing thing (stay tuned, because I’m going to do it, myself), and I thought that there would be some indicator somewhere telling me that what I was reading was not a “legitimate” book: one that was actually sold in some random bookstore somewhere. Even if only in the discount bin.
My first indication that something was not quite right was when the page formatting sometimes appeared wonky on my device. Sometimes pages would be half blank, or paragraphs would be entirely repeated, pages later. I assumed it was the fault of my device. I was wrong.
My second indication was revealed when I noticed incorrect spelling and grammar usage. A lot of it. I’m not talking about the difference between “who” and “whom”, but obvious things, like, using the word “meat” instead of “meet.” There was one book I read which used the word “willow” in random, multiple places, sometimes in capitalized format, sometimes not. I initially thought it was some fake word or descriptive, used to imply the fantasy setting of the story. It wasn’t. I even tried to sort out if the author had been using auto-correct and that perhaps the intended word was “will” or “wind”, but, no. Someone wouldn’t be wearing a “will” dress or a “windy” dress. Or a “Willow” dress, for that matter.
In other books, I found myself reading and re-reading, and having to page through previous paragraphs and chapters in order to determine of what or of whom I was reading.
“Johnny nervously glanced around the room and avoided the stair of Miss Lockley.”
Wait, I thought it just said that Miss Lockley was out shopping for the day. Did I miss that part? I mean, Johnny was just thinking to himself that he was glad she was gone. How did she get in the room? Is there some other Miss Lockley? A sister? Or does it mean he didn’t want to go upstairs? Is her room up there? What the hell is this?
You do see what I mean, don’t you?
While part of me is excited that I can run English language rings around 90% of these authors, the other part of me is intimidated by the sheer number of titles out there. Thank goodness I won’t be writing anything on the subject of vampires or werewolves, no one would ever find my book. There are thousands of books out there, it is absolutely mind-boggling.
Sadly, some of them are actually quite good, but I often wonder what the likelihood is of being noticed, when one has to first peruse 2,372 other books on the matter, some of which have received dubious five star reviews.
I won’t even go into the fact (ha) that some of the reviews include the phrase “award winning author” (what was the award? First Prize Turnip in the local Farm Day Fair?). Or that some of the books are very religious/Christian-oriented, and you don’t realize it until 20 pages in, when you’ve noticed that the main character keeps praying aloud and constantly mentioning his/her Faith whenever there is a dilemma. Now, I’m not against Christian or religious stories, but at least mention it in the book description. I feel like it’s a sneak attack. Translation: one less customer.
Anyway, in the end, they’re FREE, and I suppose that this is the risk one takes when being too cheap to spend $8.99. Just know, however, that when I do publish mine, it won’t be free. But, at the very least, it will be properly formatted and be mostly decipherable. Maybe I’ll even throw in some Christian werewolves for the fun of it.
Raising Girls Who Burp in Public
Posted June 27, 2012
So, recently, I was out shoe shopping, and, what normally is a decent experience for me turned into something extremely annoying.
It so happens that I picked a bad time to shop, because every girl in the region was shopping for Graduation shoes. This got my annoyance meter running, because teenage girls are very loud, they walk right in front of you when you are trying to browse, and they leave crap all over the place. This was not the ultimate highlight of my annoyance, however.
Enter a Family of three: a grandma, a daughter, a granddaughter.
Grandma is moving through the rows with her shopping cart, b-tching the entire time that she can’t find her size and that there are no good shoe choices. Grandma is perhaps in her 60’s, so she’s not ancient and walker-bound. Thus, I feel no guilt in complaining about her. She is mindlessly wandering ahead of the other two, and thus, a lot of yelling commences.
:”MOM, WHAT ABOUT THESE?!”
“I TOLD YOU I DON’T WANT ANYTHING WITH FLOWERS, DAMMIT!”
“HOW ‘BOUT THESE?”
“I HATE RED SHOES!”
As I am trying to concentrate on my shoe agenda, I hear a loud shoe clomping noise to my right. It’s the daughter. Now, I had assumed that her shoes were clomping because she was trying them on and seeing how they fit. They were very high, leather, closed toe wedges. Pretty, but appropriate for work or perhaps going-out attire. Not appropriate for short jean shorts, very white legs, and a tee shirt. I’m sure she doesn’t see me eyeing her getup, because she is now yelling to Grandma that she has found the perfect shoe and would find Grandma’s size.
It seemed that everywhere I went, Clomping Suzy would follow. It was with some slight horror that I discovered that these shoes on her feet were not being “test run”, they were, in fact, her own shoes. Clomp, clomp, clomp, and I’m thinking, “what the hell made you think those were the right shoes to pick for today? And if you’re gonna wear them, learn to %#@$@^& walk in them!!”
Anyway, I digressed there. As my clomping friend is finding more perfect shoes for Grumpy Grandma, the two of them are yelling at Granddaughter and telling her to keep up with the pack. Granddaughter is sitting on the floor in the middle of one of the aisles, doing I don’t know what. This is a 10-12 year old girl, mind, not a 4 year old. And the aisles are small and difficult to navigate. People are having to nearly climb over her.
Granddaughter now starts yelling across the store and complaining.
“GRANDMA, HOW COME YOU DON’T LIKE THESE? THESE ARE GOOD ONES! LOOK AT THESE!”
Grandma is like, 50 aisles away. So, I’ve had enough of this yelling, and I give a Glare of Death to Granddaughter. A real scorcher. Granddaughter saunters over to my row, pauses behind me, burps, and then skips along her merry way. I shake my head, chuckle sarcastically and say, “Nice.”
Now, I know. I shouldn’t expect much from a girl who has Grumpy Grandma and inappropriately garbed Clomping Suzy for a sister (or mother? I don’t know), but for Pete’s sake. It’s really quite sad, because, looking at this trio, you know that there will only be more generations to follow, all yelling across aisles in stores, wearing bad shoes, and thinking burping in public is appropriate.
While you have heard me speak of how Mothers get blamed for ridiculous child behavior, this is one case in which I’d have to agree. B-tching and yelling begets clomping and yelling begets burping and yelling. What’s next? Public pooping and yelling?
Remember, folks, lead by example. Good example. Otherwise, you and yours will suffer the Glare.
Posted June 13, 2012
After writing about my annoyance with Gilligan, it got my mind wandering about the whole “if they got off the island, the show wouldn’t be on any more” thing. Now of course I didn’t understand about ratings and TV networks and that the actors weren’t performing live on an island somewhere. All I mostly wondered about was why there would be a show about a problem that never gets fixed.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to ask my son a question which required more than a “yes” or “no” response, you may have come to the conclusion that he had a future career as a television scriptwriter.
“Spenser, why are you covered with dirt and missing a shoe?”
“I was with Johnny.”
“Yes, but what happened? Where is your other shoe? I thought you were going swimming?”
“Johnny was having a family party at his house…a lot of people there..”
“They had these hotdogs there which were kind of gross. But the macaroni salad was good….”
“He had this older cousin Joey who was chasing us around! He was such a jerk, Mom!”
“Yes, and is that how you lost your shoe?”
“They have woods behind their house, look at this mosquito bite…”
Mmmhmm. You see what I’m getting at.
Now, I don’t necessarily consider myself as a completely impatient sort. I do have some patience, though I could probably use more when it comes to Mothering. In general though, I’m not too bad. But, I do get annoyed that, so often, when you need an answer or a solution to something, it takes hours or days or never to get the actual reply.
A recent example for me is that I wanted to see if there were live streams somewhere of the Euro 2012 thing going on in Poland/Ukraine. I had seen the opening ceremonies while at the gym (and, in a severely blonde moment, thought it was the Summer Olympics, so I wasted a lot of time looking for something on line about that…), so I figured it must be on some channel somewhere. Now, this is more an example of people on the internet being scheister-y and trying to get you to either accidentally click on something that will invade your computer or force you to answer a 20 page questionnaire completed unrelated to your quest topic, but still. Can’t anyone just give a straight answer?
Anyway, after over an hour of searching and clicking, I still haven’t found one actual live-streaming video of the games; at least, not any that are available to people in the U.S. I do, however, now have a new media player, and am registered for some on line car racing simulation game. I probably have 23 new viruses as well. And more junkmail. This is just ridiculous. When a website indicates “watch live streaming Euro 2012 games here!”, it should actually be about live streaming games, THERE, and not be about possible other sites which may have live streaming games, upon which you click, and discover they’re about betting odds or horse races in Africa.
In the end, it’s like that with a lot of things in life, and sadly, much of it seems to revolve around money. Like, if you go to get an oil change for your car, and they just happened to discover that your brakes/axle/engine/tires are broken and must be replaced immediately. Or when you call any customer service line and must answer 46 questions unrelated to your issue before you can get something close to an answer (maybe there’s an office pool with a big prize for whoever gets the most answered questions in one phone call).
“Yes, I’d like to know, how do I plug in my computer?”
“I’d be very happy to help you with your issue today, ma’am. First, what is the telephone number from which you are calling? And also, could you please verify your address… and the last four digits of your social security number… and how did you hear about us….and the name of your first born male child…. and are you the main grocery shopper in your home….and incidentally, what do you think about clowns?”
15 minutes transpire and we haven’t even gotten to the type of computer I have, or if I even have electricity in my home. I just don’t think it’s too much to expect that, when you ask a question, you receive a direct answer. Is it just me? I don’t think so. It’s no wonder people climb watchtowers.
And no, I’ve never actually called a customer service department inquiring how to plug in my computer. And, several days after writing this, I did sort out my Euro 2012 problem.
Dumb Things Aren’t Funny
Posted June 7, 2012
Over the years, I have tried to figure out what my deal was when I was a kid (and maybe even now). I don’t know if I just had no sense of humor, if I wasn’t mature enough to get jokes, or if I took things too seriously, but I remember the phrase, “that doesn’t make sense!” running through my head, constantly. If you read my post about being blonde, you might remember my mentioning that I used to be annoyed with “dumb” acting females. Well, it wasn’t just females, it was pretty much any television character who was not so swift.
One character, in particular, used to drive me absolutely nuts. Gilligan. You know, from the Isle. I don’t know why they named the island after him, unless it was the fact that the only reason they were stuck there so *&^#%( @# long was because of his stupidity. He was always screwing things up, and it annoyed the crap out of me. I didn’t find it funny. I just wanted them to get off the damn island.
“But, if they get off the island, there won’t be a show any more.”
Of course, it wasn’t just him; there was much about the show that just didn’t make sense to me. If they could make these great huts, and the Professor was so knowledgeable, why couldn’t they make a big boat? Why would two guys flying overhead in an airplane think that some random people in the middle of the uncharted ocean had spelled out “SOL” with burning logs just to wish one of them “happy birthday”? How did Ginger’s evening gowns and Mr. and Mrs. Howell’s fancy clothes survive the wreck, and mostly everyone else was stuck wearing the same clothes every day? This stuff was just ridiculous, and no amount of “well, it’s supposed to be funny” could sooth my confused mind.
But, enough about Gilligan.
I would like to think that I had at some very early age enjoyed shows with innocence and simple joy, but even Sesame Street, while mostly acceptable, still had that annoying Count with the repetitive counting thing, and the guy with the cakes who always fell down the steps. I remember watching shows like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Bugs Bunny at a young age and being filled with indignation.
“What’s so great about those puppets? Their mouths don’t move and you can tell someone’s hand is making them work. Do kids believe puppets are real? They all have the same voice, too!” (I wonder if deep down I was just scared crapless about those creepy things)
“Why doesn’t that guy (Wile E. Coyote) just throw the bomb down instead of strapping it to himself? He keeps doing that! Every time!” (funny how I complained about his bad technique but referred to him as a “guy.”)
“Why would someone have a sign in their pocket saying “uh-oh” for when they’re falling off a cliff? He doesn’t even have any pants on, so where did it come from? And why does he have to show the sign? He doesn’t have to say ‘uh-oh.’ Why isn’t he trying to save himself?”
And on and on and on I went.
Over the years, I gradually learned to chalk some things up to the fact that people had different senses of humor, and it was a waste of time to question why some people found dumb things okay or even “funny.” I would like to say that I have expanded my humorous sensibilities, and can even force myself to enjoy slapstick type scenarios now and then. To this day, though, The Three Stooges is still ridiculous, abusive, nonsense.
“Why is that guy hitting the other guy?”
“Why is he so mean!?”
“He’s hurting that other guy! He‘s hurting him!!!”
I don’t know if it’s due to the alleged fact that chicks never get The Three Stooges, or if it’s because Moe was mean and scary and kind of reminded me of Hitler, but that show was horrible then, and is still horrible, now. Sorry, Men.
After learning to cope with other strange considerations of what was humorous, I hadn’t really had any doubts or questions on the matter in some time. Flash forward (or backward?) to a few years ago, when an on line acquaintance randomly said to me “I can has cheezburger? LOL”, and, let the show begin.
I had absolutely no clue as to what he was referencing, so he tried to explain it to me.
Me: I don’t get it.
Him: You never heard of that? It’s from a website.
Me: What does it mean?
Him: It’s from this website that has pictures of cats doing funny things, and there are sayings written on them.
Me: What does the cheeseburger have to do with it?
Him: It’s just funny.
Me: Why is it spelled like that?
Him: I don’t know, it’s how the cats spell. Go look at the website. It’s funny.
(Catherine goes to website. Soberly clicks through the pictures.)
Me: Okay, I see it. I still don’t get it.
Him: It’s funny stuff! You don’t think that’s funny? What about the one with the gun?
Me: I guess. I just don’t get the spelling thing. The cats are supposed to be saying this stuff?
Anyway, I guess there are some things that I just never will get. Call me a stick in the mud, call me an unsympathetic female, call me a Gilligan-hater, whatever. But, in the end, dumb things are not funny. They’re just dumb. So there.
How Our Parents (and Other Elders) Screw With Our Heads
Posted June 6, 2012
When I was younger, my father used to tell a story as proof against the notion that my mother was saintly and perfect. Apparently, the two of them were out grocery shopping one day, and there was a young child nearby who was crying and looking for his mother. In response to his bawling, “Mommmyyy? Mommmy????!!” a woman who was not his mother replied, “heeere I ammm.” Now, I don’t know if this just an urban legend, or if my mother really was the sadistic non-mother in the story, but, it calls to mind the ways that grownups/parents/older siblings screw with our heads when we’re kids.
Now, my mother is going to be the one mainly under the bus here (sorry, Mom), but I’ve got some cruel laugh moments to tell of myself, as a Mother. They may seem a bit not nice to the reader, but my excuse (for myself) is that kids can suck the life out of you, and sometimes, you just need a little payback. Let’s call it my self-policing campaign to avoid child abuse.
Before I became a mean adult, I had my own trials to endure, with a fair amount of “good natured” teasing, growing up. I’m not sure if I was just extra gullible as a kid, or if I was just a brat who was fun to tease, but I do have a few “fond” memories to recount for you. Interestingly, they’re all related to food.
At a very young age, I learned that Crisco, even though it resembled delectable frosting (in the yellow mixing bowl, which my mother smirkingly encouraged me to try), is in fact, nothing like frosting, and tastes horrifyingly disgusting.
I also learned to never beg and beg and beg my mother to let me try the “adult” chocolate candy sitting on the end table at Christmas time, because, if she finally relented, I would discover that the candy was filled with some gaggingly godforsaken liquor which would teach me a lesson for years to come. I don’t know if it was bourbon or rum, or what the hell it was, but, to this day, I go a little green whenever I unknowingly partake in candy with a surprise liquid center.
It was also a long time before I realized that poppy seeds were in fact edible seeds, and were not, as my brother insisted, the body parts of ants. I actually shed tears over the fact that I had eaten the poor ants which decorated my pastry, and it took quite a bit of convincing that my brother was only teasing.
Now, I know that we have all grown up being told little “lies” by grownups, interestingly, some of which were meant to prevent us from lying. Our tongues would turn black, our nose would grow like Pinocchio’s, or we might end up in Limbo if we told too many falsifications. I remember being a little doubtful of some of the things I heard as a kid, but, when adults were insisting otherwise, I accepted it as truth. After all, it’s bad to lie.
And so, I believed that airplanes flew because of magic, and that I would turn into a fish (but preferably a mermaid) if I didn’t get out of the pool, and that running to the store (or just running down the street) for my sister Libby was a testament to my superior speed and agility, and had nothing to do with the fact that she just didn’t want to go to the store or was merely trying to get rid of me (“… run reeeeally fast, and we‘ll time you, Cathy!! I bet you‘re the fastest runner in the neighborhood!!”)
Maybe when I became a parent, I felt it was my chance to start pulling the wool over some eyes.
I went for the rudimentary stuff in the beginning, like, pretending to call Santa Claus if Spenser seemed to be having a difficult time with truth-telling. And telling him that the onions on a McDonald hamburger were rice, because I didn’t want to hear him complain that he didn’t like onions. I never pretended that liquor or Crisco were tasty, so I guess I have that going for me.
I did eventually leave the amateur stuff behind, and participated in one particularly Not Nice Thing, along with my sister Rosalie and her husband. I will blame them for this one, since they are older and should know better.
In their hall closet was a Halloween mask, which was made to look like the face of a very old person. There was no blood or popping eyeballs or anything like that, it was just an old, wrinkly face. Well, for some reason, Spenser (my son) was absolutely terrified of this thing. Having discovered this, we would play tricks on the poor bugger. Multiple times. We would send my brother in law outside to ring the doorbell (wearing the mask) and have Spenser answer the door. Then, we would have him come in from the garage 5 minutes later, wearing the mask again.
It didn’t matter that we would show Spenser it was just a mask (and let him touch it), and he could watch his innocent Uncle Billy donning the mask right in front of him; as soon as the mask was on, he was stupefied in terror. After that, I think I could even threaten to “bring the mask out” if he was misbehaving. I know, we were evil. But again, I was just an innocent bystander (even if I was laughing and saying, “okay, try coming in from the backyard now!“). Thankfully, Spenser can laugh about it today, and hopefully won’t kill us in our sleep some day, because of it.
I don’t know if this is something all adults do, or if my family was just particularly sadistic, or if this ritual is deep rooted in human genes as some sort of “rite of passage”. Perhaps it’s just a way we learn how to laugh about ourselves. Perhaps it is a lesson about not believing everything you hear. At the very least, it has taught all of you that my mother is not the saint I depicted in my other post, and, if she‘s smirking when she tells you to try some innocent looking food item, DON‘T DO IT.
Dead Devil in the Freezer
Posted June 5, 2012
I recently went on line to research the lyrics of the R.E.M. song, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” because, for some reason, the song had gotten stuck into my head. I was tired of hearing the made-up nonsense words running around in there, so I figured, if it’s going to get stuck there, I might as well know the real words. Perhaps it would get unstuck.
Well, much to my horror and surprise, I actually had the correct lyrics. I was sure that the second imagined phrase, “is your Benzadrine” had to be incorrect. It’s not. I even checked multiple sites to make sure. I did have some incorrect words in other places… who would have thought the words were “you wore a shirt of violent green” and not “you wanna shout, vi-o-lent-ly.”. I have now read the alleged background of the song, and, though I now know the official lyrics, the song is still utter nonsense to me. I’m almost a little disappointed.
Anyway, it got me to thinking about the very wrong lyrics that we sing in our heads on occasion. There are websites and commercials devoted to this stuff, so this is nothing new, but, it always gives me a good laugh.
My brother in law Dave and I have discussed and giggled on this topic many a time; apparently, these mis-hearings are referred to as “mondegreen’s.” Look it up.
I don’t know if any of you remember the movie, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” but one of the funniest scenes is when Whoopi Goldberg’s character is trying to sort out the words to the Rolling Stones’ song (also the movie title) and is having a very rough go of it (“..speak English, Mick!”). I did an intense amount of on-line searching and was very sad that I could not find an actual clip of this scene; however, there is a rather fun site out there which will ease your frustration by defining, officially, what we mis-hear.
Having said that, I’m just going to list here a few of my personally known misheard lyrics, generally a compilation of my own bad stuff, and other items mentioned by Dave, random friends, relations, and co-workers. Some of you may recognize your own work here. We’ll make this fun and I’ll just list the incorrect words, and you can try to figure out the correct songs to which they belong.
“If everybody had a nose job…”
“I wanna… I wanna….I wanna (ow!) baa-byyyyy….”
“All the boys… think she’s a spaz….she’s got…(title of song)”
“I’m a pool hall aaa-ace…..”
“She’s got electric boobs, a mohair shoe….” (I think that’s a common one)
“Wake me up, and pour me cocoa….”
“Mama, if Dad’s movin’ up, then I’mmmmm…..(title of song)”
“How’s about a daa-aate…”
“Dirty deeds, dun-der-chee…” (what is dun-der-chee? No idea.)
“A year has passed since I broke my nose..”
And, some quotes from a website which gave me a laugh:
“I used to think the song Secret Agent Man was actually secret Asian man. I was singing along in the car when my mom started laughing and told me it was agent, like James Bond, not Asian. I had always wondered how a person could secretly be Asian….”
“My father, as a young boy, misunderstood some of the lyrics in Roger Millers ‘King of the Road.’
Actual words: Trailer, for sale or rent…
He heard: Trailer, for sailorettes (as in, female sailors!)”
(I think I used to hear that, as well)
From the Spenser collection:
“I like that song, Mommy. The one about the dragons in love?”
I didn’t bother to try to explain that the words from “I’ll Be” (by Ed McCain) were “trappings of love,” and not about dragons, thus, that song is now known as the “Dragons in Love” song.
And finally, the title of this post is the misheard title of the Bruce Springsteen song, “10th Avenue Freezeout,” and was brought to you by an ex-coworker of mine.
I know, I know, this wasn’t the most exciting or unique post, but I guess I was just in that kind of mood.
Below you’ll find the “correct” words to the above mis-heards, as well as a link for the quotes (I was excited to see some of my mis-heards in there). I’m also going to link a YouTube video, of which the beginning had me with tears in my eyes. *WARNING* The video contains some swear words and some slightly inappropriate content.
http://ask.yahoo.com/20010619.html (this is just… bizarre)
“If everybody had a NOTION…..” (Surfin’ USA)
“HOLD… HOLD… HOLD (random noise) Meeeee-eeeee” (Hold Me)
“All the boys think she’s a SPY…” (Bette Davis Eyes)
“How my POOR HEART ACHES….” (Every Breath You Take) (creepy stalker, Sting)
“She’s got electric BOOTS, a mohair suit…” (Bennie and the Jets)
“Wake me up, BEFORE YOU GO-GO….” (same title)
“Mama, if THAT’S movin’ up, then I’m movin’ out” (Movin’ Out) (he must have a really mean Dad)
“EYES WITHOUT A FACE…..” (same title) (I thought it odd that Billy Idol was being so gentlemanly and 1940’s sounding….)
“Dirty deeds, DONE DIRT CHEAP…” (same title) (on a related note, my mother wouldn’t let me wear an AC/DC shirt a friend have given me because it implied that I “swung both ways.” I was like, 10, and the arguments that the shirt referred to a band, and could also refer to electricity, did not fly.)
“A year has passed since I WROTE MY NOTE….” (Message in a Bottle)
Website quotes (this is actually a pretty funny website when you click some of the links):
Posted June 4, 2012
*** I’m skipping on a theme this week, so you will have to content yourselves with reading posts on various random subjects! ***
I have a friend who, whenever we went to a certain restaurant (props to Grandma’s in Albany), she would order meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I asked her why, and she said that, since she grew up in a very Italian household, she rarely got to eat “American” meals, and meatloaf with mashed potatoes was a foreign delicacy of which she was generally deprived.
The reason I’m writing this post now is because I recently finished an entire container of Cool Whip, along with some Jell-o mixed in, underneath. I’m not exactly sure why Jell-o and Cool Whip are such a delight for me, but I suspect it was probably from having it at a “fancy” restaurant when I was younger, and being amazed that regular old Jell-o could be so high-falutin’ and yet scrumptiously delicious, just by adding white fluffy stuff as a topping. I suppose another part of my excitement is that Cool Whip was a bit of a rarity for us growing up; not that we were poor, but it was generally something that we had only on special occasions- like, when my mother made Icebox cake. Yum.
In addition, I also happen to have a thing for certain breakfast cereals. To this day I can devour large quantities of Honey Smacks and Lucky Charms in one sitting. Honey Smacks (originally Sugar Smacks!) and Lucky Charms were a rare treat in our home, where we grew up with very boring and horrible breakfast foods such as Cream of Wheat and Puffed Rice. On the rare occasion that we had the “variety” pack of oatmeal, it seems that only the “regular” kind would be left in the box by the time I got to it. If you ever had to submit to eating that crap, you probably know what it looks like to have a large dune of sugar sitting at the bottom of your cereal bowl. (And by the way, Lucky Charms has only received a place in my heart because Kaboom is no longer in existence. Kaboom was the best cereal, EVER.)
I remember being ultra jealous of kids who had normal (the kind with sugar built in) cereal, and being totally fascinated by those little individual cereal boxes that my cousin always had in her house. Those little boxes, that could actually be transformed into cereal bowls if you cut off the side of the box! She always had big boxes of Cocoa Puffs, too. A big box of sugar-y chocolate-y goodness which not only tasted delicious, but also contained a prize in the package! The only thing you got with Puffed Rice upon opening was stale air and a grouchy mood for the day. If it hadn’t been for those early years of spending summer weeks at my Nana’s house, I might never have learned of the joy of Cocoa Puffs, mini cereal boxes, and other gastronomic delights.
For example, I also might never have tried a Yoohoo (which I still buy when I’m feeling nostalgic), or known what it’s like to eat an Italian Ice with a stick spoon thingie (the trick is, you have to skim off the top and the sides and wait for it to melt a little, and then turn the whole thing over so you can get to that dark colored, icy, sugary part). We didn’t have an ice cream man in our neighborhood growing up. No wonder our cousins thought we were hicks.
In the non-sugar category, instant mashed potatoes makes the top 20 on the list. Now, this may not seem like anything weird, because they have come a loooong way over the years. But, back about 92 years ago, when I was growing up, there was only one flavor (plain), and I’m guessing maybe only one brand. I wouldn’t know, because I had the misfortune of growing up in a house where the mashed potatoes were made from SCRATCH. Mashed potatoes from scratch are not smooth and creamy like the kind from the box. You might get little tiny surprise lumps here and there, and they weren’t buttery and salty like the fake kind. And, as for Stove-Top Stuffing (instead of potatoes!), I don’t recall partaking in that luxury until I was an adult. Thanks, Mom, for depriving me as a child and forcing me to eat home-made, real food.
Sometimes I get a hankering for other crap food as well (the stuff that isn’t home made). I actually like some of those buffet places where they serve food that isn’t natural nor even close to being made from scratch. I guess, like my Italian friend, I’m occasionally attracted to foods that I didn’t grow up with. Though I will say, I never had Spaghetti-O’s until I was in my 20’s, and that will never make the top 20 or even the top 100. Sorry, Chef Boyardee.
I’m sure I could go on forever with my musings on food, but I will end this here. When we get closer to the holidays, I’ll have a lot to write about. But for now, I’ve still got one more Jell-o in the fridge, and a second container of Cool Whip to explore.
Hey, they were on sale.
On Counting Your Blessings
Posted May 25, 2012
A few years ago, the company for which I worked was facing a severe financial crisis, and thus, was forced to instigate a very large company-wide lay off. It became a horrible, stress laden work environment, with people literally crying at their desks in anticipation of receiving the dreaded call from Human Resources.
Now, not to be a negative Nelly here, but I have been through office “cuts” before, and generally, if you are “lucky” to keep your job, your workload will triple, you will receive no raise because there is no money in the budget, and, since the job market is in a horrible state, you will cheerfully do your job and better damned well like it, because you could be out on the streets the following day. I remember discussing this with a coworker, post lay off, and her reply was, “I don’t really care, I’m just SO grateful to have a job.” I remember thinking, “crap, I wish I had gotten the 3 month severance package and could get the hell out of here.”
Let’s examine that statement: I’m just so grateful to have a job.
When I think of the word “grateful”, I consider it to imply that there is gratitude, a feeling of being blessed, and generally it is used to refer to sources outside of oneself. You are usually grateful to others, grateful for things received, etc. Many times the grateful feeling is something unexpected or something received for which you invested no real “labor.” There is sometimes some humility involved.
I know. We are supposed to count our blessings, no matter how small. But to feel “grateful” to have survived a chopping block which you have spent years of your life building- sacrificing your time, increasing its monetary value- it just doesn’t make sense to me. You work hard, you somewhat survive, and sometimes, regardless, you’re still screwed. Oh, but gratefully screwed. Be assured, your company is grateful for you being grateful. Because they know that they can keep you within their budget, give you extra work, and know that you have no choice in the matter. (Because you are grateful)
If I work hard, and am “paid” in results, I am not grateful for the results. The results were deserved, and well earned I may be grateful for being granted the patience, or the nerve, or the fortitude, or the smarts to complete the job, but the results were because of me and my work.
Feeling “grateful” to survive a budget cut feels akin to being grateful that you’ll be shot rather than hung for a crime you didn’t commit. Wasn’t your fault, it’s beyond your control, and you’re going to die, but, look at the bright side! At least it will be quick!
Somehow, this is to what many of us have been reduced. Grinning and bearing it, and feeling grateful, even if things are really crappy and unfair. Even if you tried and worked hard and did everything you were supposed to do, you get the short end of the stick, and you’re still counting that as a “blessing.” Sorry, but I’m not going for that. A supervisor once said to me and a group of coworkers, “I know that sometimes this job can be shitty (and yes, she said “shitty”), but the thing is, there are hundreds of people lined up outside who are willing to do this job. So you either do it, or get out.” Now there’s an inspirational speech.
My post previous to this discussed “why” we work, and here, I consider the question of “how” we work, and under what conditions. I am guessing that the “conditions” are not overly pleasant for a large number of people.
Of all the people I know and have met in my life, I can count on one hand the number of those who actually admitted to liking and feeling fulfilled in their jobs. I will say that the majority of my acquaintances have lukewarm feelings about their current situations. Work is work, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s bearable, but most times it’s just “meh.” The majority don’t necessarily hate their jobs, but they’re not happy about them, either.
I could try to reason that perhaps I just live in the wrong part of the world, or that I’ve had the fortune to only meet negative minded people, but I have international friends who are suffering similarly. Different races, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, none of them are exempt.
I could also reason that no one ever said that work had to be “fun.” That’s fine. But what about work being satisfying? What about feeling pride for your efforts? What of feeling fulfilled?
Have you ever worked for an employer that utilized company-wide raises? As in, “everyone gets 3% across the board” ? Everyone, including your idiot manager, your coworker who spends more time in the smoking area than at her desk, your other coworker who browses the internet all day long. Be grateful for that raise, but know that you are nothing special. It’s like who we are, what we do, how hard we try, none of it is recognized. Unless you have punched in one minute late twice in the last year, of course. THAT will be recognized.
I’ve wondered in the past about the decline of humanity, and maybe some of that has arisen because of how we live and work as a society. We have lowered our expectations collectively, because we have learned that many times, the efforts don’t matter. It’s no longer about putting in hard work and showing dedication, it’s more about whether you are “lucky.” It’s about counting yourself as blessed just because you have a job, even if it is demeaning, low-paying, demoralizing, and makes you miserable.
Considering that working is going to be something we spend most of our lives doing, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that it be fulfilling and somewhat rewarding. I don’t suspect that there is any solution to this world-wide issue of dissatisfaction, and I have no real words of hope for anyone, including myself. I’ll be damned, though, before I dress it up and call it a blessing. Yeah.
THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012
Over the last year or so, I have had many interesting discussions with my 18 year old son regarding the horrible fact of life, that of, “we have to work to survive.” Now, my son has used the blanket reply, “well, we shouldn’t have to,” and, if you hadn’t heard all of the intricate arguments behind that statement, you would be rightfully raising your eyebrows. I try to communicate that, in order to eat and have a roof over our heads, we need to have money. The way to get that money, is to work. He tries to communicate that work is crap, it’s senseless, it’s in no way personally beneficial, and there should be some other way. In truth, we are both somewhat correct in our arguments.
The concept of work has probably been around since the whole Adam/Eve/Apple Fiasco back in the day. If you’re not a biblical story sort of person, then we’ll say that it started back in caveman times. We have always had to “work” to survive, even if it was a very different sort of work. We had to build our shelters, we had to hunt for or grow our food, we had to break our backs and make sacrifices to the gods on a daily basis just to survive a season. The harder we worked, the better chances we had. Working, back then, was purely a self serving (yet necessary) concept. We eventually started working together, strengthening our chances for survival as a group.
Fast forward to today, in which “working” is still a means of survival, but the route is quite circuitous, and rarely feels personally beneficial. It’s no longer about breaking your back and making a nice shelter for your family, it’s about working for someone else who is working for someone else and lining their pockets and obeying their rules and hoping that your hard work pays off in a decent raise some day and saying, in the end, “well, we might have enough money in 6 months to repair the leak in the roof.”
So, I ask you, why do we work? Why do we spend hours, days, months, years doing something for someone else, in a general state of unhappiness? This is no longer just about a roof over our heads and bread for the winter. This is about the pursuit of “things.” The need for “things.”
You need a car to get to work if there is no public transportation, because you no longer walk to the fields or into town to literally earn your bread. You need gas to put into said car. You also need car insurance. And a license, and registration, and current inspection stickers. A car is not often a luxury, it’s a necessity.
If you have a school-aged child, apparently you need a computer, as well. Which also means that you have to pay for an internet service provider. When Spenser was in grade school, he had a writing project for which he was directed to do on-line research. There was a small asterisked item at the page bottom which indicated that school computers could be utilized until 4 p.m., or the local library could be an option for those poor underprivileged members of the population who lacked computers. We had only just gotten our first computer (which was a hand-me-down), and I remember angrily thinking, “what if we didn’t have one?”
He couldn’t use the school computers because he would have no transportation to his after school day care, and I worked past 4:30. The local library was on the other side of town, which meant that I would have to drive him there (with my required for living car), which further meant that this would have become MY school project as well. I think we actually had to buy a printer for this one, “simple” project. I can’t imagine what the non-computer “country” kids (and parents) had to endure.
Could we have done it without a personal computer? Sure. Would there have been hours of extra labor and (gas) money and time involved? Yes. I’ll bet that the non-computer owners put “buy a computer” at the top of their priority lists. And “get AoL” as the second priority. And “work 23 hours of overtime per week and/or get second job.”
Cavemen didn’t have necessities like this. If their wheel broke, they fixed it. Or, if they didn’t have the talent or the tools, they went to the wheel fixer guy. Wheel fixer guy didn’t charge anything, because he was already appreciated and provided for by others in the group who employed different talents. Now, I know it likely wasn’t this simple, because eventually the wheel fixer guy got greedy, and the strongest caveman of the group decided that his hunting skills were superior to others, and, here we go. “Must kill extra boar to pay wheel fixer guy.”
Okay, so maybe cavemen had it rough too.
Anyway, we can all agree that work is a necessity in life. It’s just unfortunate that our unique talents, our pride in our abilities, our feelings of self worth have been all but stripped from our lives due to power, and greed, and the need for “things.” The fruits of our labors (unless we’re all farmers, which, I suspect, we’re not) are only seen by someone in a home office 3,000 miles away. It has become a never ending cycle of sacrifices required to even just have the basics, the growing list of luxuries which have become necessities, and the pursuit to get them. Sure, we’ve come a long way, baby, but at what cost?
On Going to the Gym, or Pretending to do so, Just for the Purpose of Tanning
Posted April 22, 2012
So, I have a confession to make.
I am one of those bad people who enjoys and worships the sun. I am too old and too wise and too fair to still be in this group of people, but, oh well. It’s my bed/grave, you’ll have to deal with it.
When I am unable to directly worship the sun (wintertime, par exemple), and sometimes, even when I’m able, I use alternative methods, and by that I mean, tanning salons/tanning booths.
I won’t go into the spiel on how going to a tanning salon is like my private zen time, or how I can forego the use of most makeup because my skin is glowing (so what if it’s because I’m irradiating unnaturally?), or how I just feel “prettier” when I’ve got a bit of color.
Tanning, of any sort, is very bad.
Don’t do it, kids.
Anyway, I like it, however bad it is, and I try to keep it minimal.
I happen to belong to a gym in which my elite membership allows me to enjoy unlimited tanning services along with the usage of the gym equipment and facilities.
I have to admit, that the only motivation I have for actually working out, most times, is knowing that I can go tanning afterwards. So you see, tanning may have its healthful benefits after all. Right.
There is a problem, however, which can happen at any time, but generally is more likely to pass when the weather starts getting nice and/or when I have been completely neglecting my gym attendance for weeks/months at a time.
I am feeling that I need to get a little color. I haven’t been to the gym in months. The sun is shining outside.
Now. I could just take a long and invigorating walk in the neighborhood, thereby getting my required daily exercise AND a dose of the real sun. The problem there is that I don’t want a farmer’s tan (I can’t find my bag of shorts, and anyway, my legs are too white), and I don’t want the possibility of having to be social or friendly with someone in the neighborhood (which also means I’d have to look somewhat presentable and wear a small amount of makeup, so as not to frighten them).
I could just hang around in my backyard or driveway, but the yard is directly facing the street, and there is no fence. And, uh, no lounge chairs. So, I’m going to look pretty moronic just standing there in the middle of the yard, doing nothing but holding my arms out and staring slack-jawed at the sun in a slight state of undress. I suppose that I could sit in a chair and read a book, but again, keeping up appearances and all that. A lone book-reading gal sitting on a chair in the middle of a sunny yard is a little off. Not to mention that I would still have to do an extensive search for my bag of shorts.
Of course, I COULD just go to the gym, sign up for my faux sun session, and that’s that. I’m paying for it, what do I care, right?
Oh, wrong, wrong, wrong, my friends.
First off, if I go in solely for tanning, the evil and appropriately tanned/trim Young People at the front desk will know that I’ve willingly foregone an actual gym activity related to working out. The following will run through their minds:
-Why the hell is this lady coming in here for tanning when it’s sunny and 80 degrees out? Who does that?
-I think this lady should be more concerned about actually doing some exercise than about damaging her skin, which probably doesn’t have much left to it, seeing as how she must be like, over 60. (I’m not, but these are The Young People, and anything over 25 is likely old to them)
-Well, maybe she doesn’t have the time to work out and will come in later, after returning from her successful career of writing nonsense blog posts
So, in the unlikely event that they all thought the third thought, there is then the dilemma of what to wear when going to a sun session that happens to be located only 20 feet from equipment that I should be using.
What exactly should I be wearing to said sun session?
-If I wear workout clothes, we all know that it’s just a ruse to get people to believe that I’m actually preparing for real gym activity, when in fact, I am not. No one is going to fall for that.
-If I wear street clothes, it will be obvious that I never intended to work out, at all, and am only there for the use of the fake sun facilities. Everyone there knows that it has been exactly 48 days since my last gym attendance, who’s kidding who, here?
-If I wear ‘professional’ clothes, it could be supposed that I have just popped in after work or on my lunch hour, and, since I obviously didn’t head for the locker room with a change of clothes, will likely come in later for the actual workout.
The problem with that last one is, I am not actually working anywhere, professional or not, and it would be absolutely ridiculous to drag work clothes out and put them on just to make am impression on the Evil Young Desk People or the one person who may be able to see me scurrying into the fake sun room.
That would be a double ruse, and even I won’t go for that.
I suppose I could create a t-shirt that reads: I’M JUST HERE FOR THE TANNING, and avoid all of the funny business ahead of time. Maybe there’s a market for that.
Until then, the answer is to wear workout clothes, sign up for the tanning, and then actually get on the godforsaken treadmill for at least 20 minutes. Provided that it’s not too crowded in the treadmill room and I can find one that has a working fan and that it’s not located next to anyone male or female and my mp3 is sufficiently charged and I don’t trip ascending the stairs, etc.
(And yes, it has to be at least 20 minutes, because anything less than that is obviously just a ruse to get people to believe that I’m there for a workout and not just there to pass time in order to get to the tanning booth without looking like a lazy slob. An Old Lazy Slob, with 60 year old Bad Skin.)
So, there it is. Now you all know of my seedy and corrupt intentions behind “going to the gym.”
If you hear me say that I am, don’t be overly impressed. I do ask, however, that you appreciate all of the intense thought processes that accompany my journey there. That qualifies as a sort of workout in itself.
Bonus Ending Added Here to Make Me Seem Somewhat Less Lazy: Just so you know, I have never gone to the gym and skipped the workout part of it. I have even stretched the workout well past the 20 minute minimum. I won’t tell you that generally it is because the tanning booth I am seeking has no open time slots; it’s because I am basking in the glory of a vigorous and joyful workout. Yes.
Posted April 20, 2012– this was my very first post, ever…so, when I’m famous, you can get in on the glory.
So, a friend of mine (/whistle@Jo) suggested I should explore the world of blogging as a way of expressing myself whilst making potentially millions of dollars.
I am, pretty much, the n00biest n0Ob out there when it comes to blogs, and, admittedly, had to ask her for a bit of a training course as to what they were, how they worked, and why, why… why the hell would anyone read them.
I’m sure you’re thinking (rather prematurely, I daresay), “well, you can forget about the ‘potentially millions of dollars’, sister. This blog blows.” Well, okay.
It’s funny how you think, “Well, $hit, I’ve got a crap-ton of things I can write about! I can write about toilet paper, and it would be funny and intellectually stimulating, dammit!” (Catherine, you might want to avoid a lot of “poop” references in your first post), and then you sit there, looking at the POSTS: 0 blob, taunting you in the middle of your screen, annnnnd…. hmm. What was so great about toilet paper, anyway?
I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to arrange things here, and I’m sure you don’t give a hoot about any of that, but you know, Mr. Naysayer, I’ve got to start somewhere, si? So, here it is. My first post.
No specific plans for a “theme”, this is just going to be life observations and sometimes rantings from the mind of yours truly. Now, what do I write to close this out?
“Enjoy the ride!”
“Hope you like it!”
“Join me on my journey through life’s funny little turns!”
“Send me a bajillion dollars so I don’t have to look for a job that I don’t really want to do and I’m begging you to be sufficiently intrigued so that I’m not a total failure in what merely amounts to me putting my wacko thoughts onto a virtual page!”
I like it.