31 December 2007

The Thing About My Folks

The recent declining health and illness of my father has put a magnifying glass upon my parents and all connecting relationships like never before. In a series of telephone calls between my brothers and I, we have conducted therapy/poker sessions. "I see your paternal disconnection and raise you mom's co-dependence." It's almost become a one-upmanship of scarred childhood memories. It's terribly sad but met with loving sarcasm, if there is such a thing. Sometimes it is just so absurd, that all you can do is laugh.

Have you ever watched Christopher Titus "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding"? That is a portrayal of my father. "The Anti-Dad" But his dad at least had cool cars.

Here is the thing about my folks. In two examples, I can clearly define their relationship:

My dad was recently transported to the hospital at 8 in the morning by ambulance. My mother calls, in snot and tears, and needs me to come down to take her to the hospital. While I am driving down (it's a 45 minute trip) my cell rings. It's my mother. "Do I have time to take shower?" she asks. Sure, mom, why not?

I am NOT making this up.

My dad had surgery. It was a major surgery as he had a perferation in his bowel. They kept him in a medically induced coma for a while as he was on a respirator. The nurse told my mom that while he was under, mom could still touch and talk to him and he would probably know that she was there. So, my mom took his hand and talked to him.

He took his hand away.

When the nurse looked at my mom with a puzzled glance, my mom says "Well, he never did like holding hands."

And that is the thing about my folks.

The Barone Family

I have mentioned previously that the show "Everyone Loves Raymond" very closely parallels my own life. Just in case you've forgotten, or are a new reader, yes, my in-laws live next door. Both brother & sister in-law and parent in-laws. *Right* next door. Within visual and auditory range. Cannot swing a cat without hitting a relative around here. I have been intending to get a sign made "Welcome to the Compound, Don't Drink the Kool-aid" (you think I'm kidding.)

What was my point? Oh yeah...

The MG's brother is definitely Robert. It is shockingly accurate, from the demeanor to the downtrodden posture. My sister-in-law is mostly like Amy, she does everything right: cooks, cleans, sews. The MG is a smart version of Raymond. There are times that what Raymond is saying, I have actually heard come out of the MG's mouth.

The parents are strangely a blend of all our parents. Raymond's mother is a mixture of my mother and MG's mother. The acid-tongued but well-intentioned comments are my mother, the neurotic clingyness is MG's mother.
Raymond's Dad is a more verbal version of my dad. And their marriage is a mirror of my parents relationship (more on that in my next post) The only one left out of the equation is MG's dad. The only parallel is that Frank is constantly watching television and eating. Both of our fathers do that.

I think, I hope, that I am not Debra. I've always found her abrasive, even bitchy. Perhaps she is my evil twin.

I have heard Raymond mention in interviews that people comment to him regularly that it is as if he has peeked into our lives and put it on television. In my case, it couldn't been more true. I am still not wholly convinced that there aren't Everyone Loves Raymond spy cams installed in our house.

So, if you ever wonder what my regular, day-to-day life is like: watch television. There it is.

Now, I have to go get ready for the party next door. Where my s-i-l will have prepared all the food and my b-i-l will keep track of how many hands of poker his brother has won. While my f-i-l watches football and my m-i-l hovers.

Poker - BlackJack - Crib

We are playing cards tonight, in celebration of the new year. Just a few friends and family, gathering together to win money away from one another. It's the spirit of the holidays.

The MG and I are easily bored. We're very well suited in that way, but we can be frustrating for everyone else.

The last time we played cards, we grew bored and began making up our own rules. Much like the game of "Cups" that Chandler played Joey on Friends. (perhaps my fave episode, ever)

Much to my b-i-l's consternation, we developed Poker-Blackjack-Crib. We are each dealt 5 cards and whoever can make the best hand out of the three games listed, wins. Of course, this isn't always possible, so it is sometimes settled by paper, rock , scissors or whomever shouts the loudest. (usually MG)

So, give it a try. Don't get bogged own in the rules...make 'em up as you go along. It's so much more fun that way!

Thieving Bastards

So, I am addicted to magazines. I have a huge pile of them, usually. The essentials: People and Entertainment Weekly, the grown-ups: Time and Newsweek and the fill-ins: Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, etc. Lately, I've been branching out: Vanity Fair, Domino, Home. Next to receiving a book in the mail. there's nothing better for me than to glimpse a new magazine patiently waiting for me in the mailbox.

The Mad Genius also gets magazines, boy stuff mostly: National Dragster, Maxim, all the car magazines, National Geographic.

So, we are always getting subscription notices. I have to admit, I am not the best at keeping track of them. Mostly because we get so many and so often. By accident one time, I let a subscription "lapse". I got a cancellation notice but the mailing label on the magazine stated two years in advance subscription.
(Do you know where to find that? On the mailing label, on the upper right hand corner. It should read something like "DEC 08")

Well, this is accurate only if paid in full. If you've simply ordered the magazine but not paid, it's isn't accurate. And also, you are usually subscribed for six months in advance, meaning there is a strange little grace period that I haven't quite figured out yet.

But the reason this is titled "Thieving Bastards" is this:
I went online today to attempt to determine which subscription is due & when for the MG's magazines. Usually, they are about $20 yearly. Imagine my shock and surprise and irritation, when I discover that if I order them online, they're half-price. And it's not a "Special Offer", it's the regular subscription. We've been paying the old subscription rates and *Gasp* they didn't offer us the lower available rates! Thieving Bastards.

So, I've let the "mail-in" subscription lapse and have ordered two years for the price of one online.

Check it out. Don't get ripped off like we did.

Also, if you belong to an organization or business of any kind, you may be eligible for "commercial rates" I ordered a subscription through the school I used to work at and got the magazine at a significantly lower rate. Just make sure that you're ordering through the actual publishing company and not a clearing house. You have to be careful!

Now that I've saved $20, I should be able to subscribe to two more magazines...I must search...

Oh, one caveat: Oprah's Magazine is apparently printed with ink derived from extinct mammals because her magazine is EXPENSIVE. And she graces every cover. If you can get over that, it's not a bad magazine, otherwise borrow it from the library.

Oh, and one more thing: I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint so I do recycle the magazines. I also donate them to different organizations. Someone is always looking for magazines: senior centers, preschools (for cutting out pictures, so no Cosmo or Maxim!)
libraries, etc. Even Value Village will accept magazines now. Just make sure you've taken off the mailing label.

This ends my rant about Thieving Bastards. You may resume your regular activities now.

28 December 2007


After, finishing our Christmas cards this year, I found myself flipping lovingly through our address book. This is the first address book the Mad Genius and I have had together. So, it's 17 years old. There are lots of scribbled out numbers, pen ink colors and business cards stapled inside. Some addresses are old, some people have passed or are just not a part of our lives anymore.

It's fun to browse nostalgicly (is that a word?)

I laughed when I saw "Jesse and Amy" Then saw that Amy's name was scratched out. They married young, went "on a break" (yes, Jesse actually used that phrase) and then split. Jesse lives in Vegas baby and Amy is long gone.

Or the grouchy, gruff old lady, Mrs. Gritz, that used to own our house. She would be amazed to see the property now.

My God how many times has "W" moved? How many names has "D" had? It's all listed there.

It made me sad to see names of people who have passed or simply faded out of our lives.

If you think about it, an address book is kind of like your life story. A journal of people you knew and places you've been.

Go look through yours...

16 December 2007

What Would Bill Would Say?

In tribute to a friend that was lost to time and circumstance...

"What does your gut say?"

"Lock your door"

"Don't be so coy!"

"Fake it until it's true."

"Sometimes you just gotta cry."

" 'I don't know' is not an answer."

10 December 2007

Jesus Lived in the Closet

Okay, I find it very funny that as I typed that sentence, my computer whigged out....

Many years ago, while shopping for a present for the Mad Geniuses mother, the MG saw a picture that I swear he said he liked. So I bought it for him. It turns out that he didn't say he liked it. Hmm, welll, now what? It wasn't my taste but I had to admit it was a beautiful picture. So, I put it up anyway.

It was a picture of Jesus hugging a man and it had a caption about being accepted wholeheartedly.

When we moved into the Malibu Barbie Dream House, the picture no longer matched anything and I didn't want to put it up "just because" So, with a small twinge of guilt, I stored Jesus in the closet.
On a recent cleaning binge, I took Jesus out and decided to donate him to the church that is across the alley from my work. As Jesus waited patiently for me to actually remember to put him in the truck, the MG noticed and asked where he was going. I explained that I was donating him to church because I didn't want it anymore.

MG fairly choked. "I have been living the life of Job because you've kept Jesus in the closet because he DOESN'T MATCH!?"

Although I laughed, I did feel another little twinge of guilt. I must admit. But I promised MG that Jesus would be much happier at the church than he would be with us. And made darn certain that I didn't forget the picture again.

The next morning, I dropped him off with one of the church ladies. It was kind of awkward to explain to her the story but I went with the truth. I told her that MG was teasing me that I was a heathen. She kindly patted me on the hand "I think you're going to be all right."


Not since I was 15 years old, have I wished for a year to pass quickly more.

Will someone (excuse me, Mr. Kennedy?) please sacrifice their career on the altar of all that's good and pure in this country and call for a fricking impeachment already? If nothing else, to show the rest of the world that we don't stand behind this Idiot King whose Daddy bought him a presidency.

But, I guess, we're just stuck white-knuckling it through the next year.

01.20.09..... I've always wanted a tattoo. This very well may be it.

Computer Wizard

I am not a computer geek. Most of what I've learned is from trial and error. There's been a lot of "hmm, I wonder what this button does?" in my learning.
In fact, I was taught computers in high school, WAY back in 1987. Along side of my bff at the time on a Commodore 64. Back in the "RUN" days. Thank God it's easier now. Or is it?

My new computer (Thanks, Gerry the Computer Dude!) had suddenly bogged down while using the internet and slowly as I used my email as well. As I am one of the ten people in the US that still has dial-up: this was incredibly frustrating.

So, I did all the tweaks I knew how and then wandered out into the vast world of search engines.
I am a search engine rebel, I don't use the Google. I heard that gasp, it's true: I don't use the Google. I use Dogpile, I like it much better and have had better luck with it.

I found something interesting: "10 Simple Ways to Speed up Windows XP" A clever girl would have the link for you but I didn't think that far ahead. You are smart beings, I am sure you can find it if you wish. It was fairly easy and it did seem to help the computer.

The other piece of information that I learned is that a person only needs three programs on their computer and sshhh, little known secret: (to me at least) they're all free. FREE I say!
AVG Antivirus. Spybot and CCleaner. These programs have made me into such a better computer owner. LOVE that!

And I have to admit it, I have to honor my inner computer geek: I love download.com. There, I said it. I feel better now.

I also discovered something I had been told before but failed to truly realize and appreciate: you don't have to use IE! There's another option! I know! The overall cure of my internet woes laid in the hands of Mozilla. It fixed my internet! All is right again in Whooville.

So, there is the complete edition of my limited knowledge of computer stuff. It may be "DUH" to some people but perhaps it's not to others. In the spirit of Christmas, I am sharing my new knowledge.

And can I just say that the new spell-check option on Blogger is a godsend? I usually cut and paste my blogs, one of the things that thwarts my regular postings. Ooops, did I just say that aloud? Sh*t, now I don't have an excuse. Oh well...


Allo poppets! It is, at long last, me again. Once again, I have been caught up in the whirlwind of life and for a moment, it has spat me back out so that I can concentrate for one quick moment at the computer.

There was been snow over the past seven days, nothing that exciting, actually it's the perfect kind of snow: enough to make everything pretty but not enough to keep everyone at home.

And like the snow, I will post in my usual style: in a flurry of small posts.

Thank you, as always, for your patience. And on we go...