Sunday, June 26, 2011

The "My Child is Going to Be a Model" Adventure

My child is going to be a model.  I am a person who cares almost nothing about fashion, and I strive to make parenting decisions based on what will ultimately make my children be good people.

And my child is going to be a model.

Whenever people hear about this development, particularly people that know me in real life, they ask the obvious question: how did this come to be?

My stepdad, one of the wisest human beings that I've ever met, had an adage that he lived by. "The universe works," he always said. Sometimes, when things happen that seem bad or wrong or odd or whatever, he'd repeat that phrase and encourage us to just go with it.

Belle's modeling saga, from beginning to where we're at right now, has been a case of the universe working ... and us just sort of going with it.

Okay, here's what happened.

Addie is in her school's marching band, and my mother and Belle were dropping her off so that she could play in the Christmas Parade. They were listening to the radio, which is unusual because my mother virtually never drives with the radio on.

An ad came on giving away a free spot in an upcoming open audition to a children's talent event in Boston. Addie started calling the radio station and eventually got through. As Belle's parent, I needed to give permission, and I wasn't in the car with them, so Addie gave them my cell phone number, thinking they'd never actually take the time to call.

They did. I had a long chat with someone from the Disney Channel (which gave it an air of legitimacy) and agreed to bring Belle to Boston for the open audition.

This was in early December, so my mother and I figured it'd be a great chance to do some Christmas shopping in Boston, have an adventure, and so on. We never dreamed it would go any further than that.

The woman on the phone had said to have Belle dressed "business casual", so of course we had to take her shopping to get an outfit that was seven-year-old business casual. My mother took her to a local children's clothing specialty store, and they came up with this.

So off we go to a beautiful hotel in Boston, where what seemed like a million children of all ages dressed in various degrees of finery were running around.

When we went into the bathroom to put Belle's business casual ensemble on, we heard some pretty strange things. Parents were bribing their children with Wiis and dollhouses and anything else you can think of. One mother grabbed her young son, who was whining about wanting to be outside playing, and hissed, "You'd better not f*ck this up for me!"

It was pretty surreal, especially since we were there as a lark.

Anyway, of the thousands of kids there that went through a variety of screen tests and interviews and so on, they picked ten to invite to an April showcase in Disney World.

Belle was one of the ten.

We had to go shopping, of course, to get her all different types of clothes--black and white, beachwear, trendy, more business casual, formal, and so on.

We also had to take her back to Boston to get professional pictures done. Here are a couple more of them.


So then we had to make arrangements to get to Florida--my mother and Addie were also going.

Now, I am terrified of flying. Just ... scared to death. I haven't been on an airplane since I was in third grade, but I was obviously going to have to get over myself, get some good drugs from the doctor, and go for it.

As it turned out, I had a medical emergency (the details of which are rather disgusting, although I'll probably blog about that whole sitch at some point) come up a couple of days before we were supposed to leave, so my mother and Addie, both saints, agreed to go forward anyway.

Now, the showcase people were very upfront about requirements. Each child had to perform a dramatic monologue, a comedic monologue, a variety of ads, soap opera scripts, sitcom scripts, and so forth.

Because my family was still seeing this as kind of a joke, we didn't exactly kill ourselves preparing Belle, who was most looking forward to riding Everest at Animal Kingdom with Addie (which she did ... twice. My daughters are roller coaster maniacs).

I guess a lot of the children there had been drilled and prepped and otherwise forced to spend a huge amount of time being ready to perform. Our bottom line was that we wanted Belle to have fun.

Belle spent most of her time at the showcase playing in the pool with another little girl whose parents were, like us, kind of laissez-faire about the whole thing. She went to the workshops, of course, and performed her monologues and scripts and so on (Addie worked literal magic at getting her to memorize her parts).

The last morning, the aspiring child models/actors handed out Zed cards (business cards for models with three pictures and contact information on them) and headshots with resumes attached (and can I just tell you how hard it is writing a resume for a first grader? Her skills included jumproping and being able to "do" a British accent, which she demonstrated to us one day about a year ago by coming out with, "Do you have to go to the loo, darling?").

And then it was time for callbacks.

When my mother texted me that Belle had gotten two callbacks, I almost had a heart attack. I, of course, texted back that they must give out callbacks to everyone as some kind of formality, but evidently a lot of kids didn't get even one callback.

So Belle and my mother went to her callbacks, and both agents, one based out of Boston and one out of New York City, expressed interest in representing her. They gave my mother their e-mail addresses so that I could contact them since only a parent can sign a contract.

After my girls and my mother got home from Florida, the craziness of spring heated up and I kept meaning to e-mail the agents, but I forgot to. Or, when I remembered, my mother couldn't remember where she'd put them, and then when she found them, I didn't have time to e-mail, and so on. It just didn't happen. It would have eventually, of course, but then something really strange happened.

I got a phone call from a talent agency that had not been one of the ones to offer Belle a callback at the Florida showcase. What took my breath away was that it was a company I'd actually heard of.

I guess they are so big and stuff that they didn't do any callbacks at the showcase, just collected Zed cards and resumes for future perusal. Anyway, the secretary I spoke with said they are very interested in representing Belle, and we set up a meeting in their New York office for this Tuesday.

My mother, Belle, and I are leaving tomorrow for New York City to undertake the latest step in the great modeling saga. We debated taking the train or even (gulp) flying, but we're going to drive.

I'm taking Belle to get her hair trimmed this afternoon, and she and her Mimi went shopping this morning for sunglasses and new flip-flops. Belle is absolutely bouncing off the walls with excitement, and I'm looking forward to it because, even if nothing comes of it, it continues to be an interesting adventure.

I posted this pic of Addie and Belle on my Facebook wall shortly before they left for Florida, making a crack about how Addie probably looks more model contract-worthy than Belle. We try not to take ourselves too seriously around here ;-)

The thing is, Belle doesn't always look great in candids, but the professional photographers took over 500 pics of her (we have them on a disk), and there isn't a single bad one there. The camera (well, the professional camera, anyway ;-)) loves Belle, and she thought that dressing up in different outfits to get pictures taken for hours was the highlight of fun.

I knew that Addie was a musician from the time she was a very young child. She was teaching herself songs on the piano when she was three or four, and that made it really easy to see where to focus her passions in terms of lessons and providing instruments and so on.

Belle has never really demonstrated a true passion for anything (other than being a character ... she has got to be one of the funniest kids ever, I swear) before this accidental modeling/acting thing kind of fell into our laps. Now, she memorizes monologues for fun, puts on "shows" all the time, and revels in dressing up to get pictures taken. (This is when she isn't working on her lemonade stand to donate money to Santa Claus because, you know, the elves can't make some things and if they're really expensive some deserving kids might miss out ... that kid is just a trip and a half, I swear)

Even though I despise the whole "Toddlers with Tiaras" concept, I'm going along with this because it is Belle's desire to do so.

And also, of course, because the universe has been working in a lot of interesting ways to keep this whole thing moving ... and, as my stepdad would say, who am I to fight with fate?

I'm sure there will be lots of blog about after our NYC meeting on Tuesday.

Sunday Stealing: The Seriously Random Question Meme Part III (The Final Edition)

With all the life drama of the past week (the last week of school, writing and grading final essays, a lot of adult drama at work that people are way too old for, Pythagorus falling off the wagon and having to pick him up at the hospital and drive him two hours home only to find I couldn't get him out of the car, re-pinching the nerve in my back when trying to lift Pythagorus out of the car ... well, you get the idea), I just haven't been up to blogging. I cannot, of course, miss a Sunday Stealing ;-)

Sunday Stealing: The Seriously Random Question Meme, Part 3 (The Final Edition)


41. Who was the last person you went shopping with?

I went book shopping with my seven-year-old yesterday. I hate shopping in general, but I could live at a bookstore, and I seem to have passed on the gene to my little one. Belle actually wrote a book last week, too. I'm very excited about these recent developments ;-)

42. What is something you need to go shopping for?
Clothes. I don't have a lot of clothes. My kids? They're decked out in the best, but I never buy clothes for myself. It's starting to catch up with me, though ... there's a lot of fraying and even some holes, and the fact that I've put on weight the last few months because of the pinched nerve thing and just falling into a lazy, gymless rut hasn't helped.

43. Do you have the same first name as one of your relatives?

I was named after a great aunt. However, my mom spelled it wrong (she was a "Katharine" and I'm a "Katherine"). I also recently found out that one of my friends from high school named her dog Katy Mae after me (my maiden name was Katie May), so I'm wondering if that counts ...

44. What kind of car do (did) your parents drive?

My mom drives a Ford Escape and my dad drives a Nissan something. My stepdad always had company cars, and they were your standard four-door sedans. My mom's most memorable car was a bright red Jeep Wrangler (which she had when I turned sixteen, so you can probably see where this is going ;-)), and my dad's most memorable car was ...

Okay, story time. My dad is one of the cheapest people I know, and between the time he divorced my mother and married my stepmother, he had no one to impress. His car had died and he was borrowing my grandmother's, and he found this ugly brown Bondo-infested Chevy Citation on the side of the road for $500.

He bought it, and it was still running well three years later when he traded it in for a slightly more "lawyerly" car.

45. Are you rich?
I live in the attic of a barn at my mother's house. I teach in one of the lowest-paying districts in the state. In other words ... NO ;-)

46. If you could spend one intimate night with a celebrity, no questions asked, never to see them again, who would it be?
Johnny Depp, of course. He's interesting, which is good, and hot, which is better.

48. What famous person do you look like? Feel free to use this facial match program by clicking here. Show us at least the celeb photo.

Keira Knightley, evidently ... maybe there's something to this Johnny Depp thing after all ;-)



49. What is the most daring thing you've done recently?

Well, this is hard to answer without getting into details that I can't, but I'll do the best I can.

So, recently, my work has turned into a scene from the movie Mean Girls. And I'm talking about the adults. It's just horrible.

And it takes a lot of courage to stay out of the fray. I haven't always been able to do it, and I've gotten bogged down in the mires quite a bit this spring, but I've really started to stand up to the gossiping, backstabbing minority that have infiltrated what was once a wonderful place to work by not getting involved.

I think that's daring. (I also think driving a drunk man that has physically abused me the two hours home and then literally lifting him out of the car knowing that I had to go home and write an exam to be given at eight the next morning was pretty daring, but, as my mother pointed out when she was freaking out on me about it after I got home, it was also pretty stupid).

50. Say you were given a pregnancy test right now. Would you pass or fail?

Oh, I would definitely, unequivocally pass. How embarrassing to admit on Blogger that there is 100% no way you could be pregnant ;-)

51. Which sex scandal of the last decade bothers you the most?
Probably the whole Anthony Weiner thing. I mean, if your last name is Weiner, you should automatically be holding yourself to a higher standard. I think the lying bothered me the most ... I mean, if you're literally caught with your pants down (after posting pics of yourself with your pants down), have the cojones to admit it.

52. Do you know anyone in jail/prison?

Personally? Not that I know of.

53. What are your plans (or what have you done) for this weekend?

Well, I spent yesterday with Belle since Addie had gone to an amusement park with a bunch of her friends. We went mini-golfing and out to dinner and on several other random adventures.

I fell asleep reading a book at a ridiculously early hour last night.

This morning, I've been drinking coffee, writing a piece for Zelda Lily, and now here on my lovely personal blog.

Today, I am resting my stupid back and packing with my mother and Belle for our trip to New York City. We're leaving tomorrow to meet with an agent that wants to represent Belle in the modeling/acting world. I'm still not sure how we fell into this whole thing, but here we are.

54. Have you ever woken up and not known where you were?
Haha, yup. I loved college ;-)

55. What were you doing at midnight last night??
Sleeping :-) I've gotten very boring in my old age.

56. Last restaurant you went to?

Pizza Hut. I let Belle choose where we went to dinner last night ... her original choice was McDonald's, so I figure Pizza Hut was some sort of progress, right?

57. How many hours did you sleep for last night?
Over ten, actually, which has to be some kind of record for me.

58. Which is more distracting: Sexting while driving or sex while driving?
Definitely sexting. You're trying to juggle your phone, your thoughts, reading someone else's thoughts, and the road. Sex, it's just you, someone else, and the road ... thinking tends to be taken out of it. Either one is pretty distracting, though ...

59. Do you think someone is thinking about you right now?

Probably ... I actually have a stalker. He texts me relentlessly (I haven't blocked him yet because it's kind of entertaining) with abysmal grammar, which is one of the biggest turn-offs for me. "i miss u" and "wd u snd pix" and so on. It should probably bother me more, but I just feel bad for the guy ... we went to high school together, and he's ... well, texting someone who responds back "I'M BUSY" every 40 texts or so is probably the highlight of his week. Sad :-(

60. Have you ever changed your clothes while in a vehicle?
Haha, all the time. I used to have getting my work uniform on while driving mastered, actually, when I was heading to work from my parents' house, and that was when I drove a standard.

60 1/2. If you haven't "liked" us (WTIT) on Facebook and would like to, click here.
I left this because Bud at WTIT is a very cool person, and you should all like his Facebook page. You should also, by the way, like mine ;-)

Have a great Sunday, everyone :-)!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why I'm Not Thrilled About Fathers Day

I've decided this year that I'm not a fan of Fathers Day, not the least reason of which is that I can't decide if it is a plural or possessive ... or a plural possessive. Anyway, I'm writing it without the apostrophe.

I just called my father to wish him a happy Fathers Day, and it was just a reminder of how peripheral we are to each others' lives. My father knows little to nothing about my life, and I know little to nothing about his. It's not that I don't love him--I do, very much--it's just that ... we don't know each other, we haven't known each other for years, and it's just very awkward.

During the period of time my parents divorced, my father was not at his best (nor was my mother, but that's a different story). For a few years there, my childhood was pretty miserable. There is plenty of blame to go around, and I am well aware of that.

What ended up happening is that my mother ended up meeting and marrying a wonderful, caring, sane, supportive, loving man. I had the best stepfather in the world, and I mean no offense to my father, but my stepdad knew me, my stepdad loved me in spite of my faults instead of throwing it in my face like my mother did or pretending nothing was ever wrong like my father did. I could count on my stepdad to do what he said he would, be where he said he'd be, and so on.

And so, when I hear the word "father", when I look at the dictionary definition, it is my stepfather that fills my mind.

My stepdad died of lung cancer in 2004. My dad came to the visiting hours, and he also played the bagpipes at the funeral when my mom asked him to. I think he was paying homage to the man that had salvaged his children from the brink.

I want to be close to my father, I really do, but I don't know how at this late date. Anyway, the girls and I are going to visit him next weekend, so hopefully that's a step.

Then, of course, there is the complexity of making the holiday meaningful for my daughters.

Belle and I went to lunch with Pythagorus. It was supposed to be a more extensive outing (it didn't last an hour). It wasn't. C'est la vie, I guess, but still really sad.

I don't talk much about Addie's father on here, but in a nutshell, he was my high school boyfriend, I lied to the doctor about not being on birth control when I was getting antibiotics for a sinus infection (my mom was in the room), and I ended up getting pregnant. There have been ups and downs over the years, but I have to give that guy credit.

We had a horrible encounter where I basically begged him to just leave Addie alone--you can't just blow a kid off for half her life and then want her to fly to Tennessee from New Hampshire by herself to visit with essentially a total stranger.

He listened. Although he was in a place where he was prepared to have a relationship with Addie, he understood that he had never been part of her life and it wasn't fair to push himself on her. They talk on the phone. He sends her birthday and Christmas presents. He paid half her car insurance. He sees her every year or two (he's special ops in the military, so he's not exactly just around the corner).

And you know the most powerful part? I have received a Mothers Day card from him every year.

That's classy.

Has Addie called him today? I don't know (I tend to stay out of stuff like that because it's her life and she's old enough to make her own decisions about that kind of thing). I hope she has. I know that I wrote, "Happy Fathers Day!" on his Facebook wall, and I meant it.

Where I'm at right now, all I can think of are how sad father/daughter relationships often are--my own, my daughters' (well, Belle, at least), and all over the world.

I hope that all the fathers out there have a great Fathers Day ... I'll get over myself on this one pretty soon. In fact, just writing all this down has made me feel better :-)

Sunday Stealing: The Seriously Random Question Meme (Part II)

Another Sunday, another round of Sunday Stealing :-) This is the second part of a meme known as "The Seriously Random Question Meme"


21. Have you ever had a garage sale?
Well, we call them "yard sales" here in New Hampshah, but, yes, I grew up in a neighborhood of annual yard sales.

Funny story, actually ... one of my neighbors had a huge box of books left over, and she put them out on the side of the road with a sign that said "FREE". I, of course, went over and started perusing.

They were all the sort of romance novels that are pretty much soft core porn throughout. I brought the box home and read them. I think I was six or seven. This explains a lot ;-)

22. What color is your cell phone?

I have a Droid 2, so the "color" is actually based on the case. I've been through a red case and a blue case (I'm very hard on my phones), and the one I have now is a different type. It's black, which is fine, but it's all rubbery and awkward-feeling. However, after breaking two of the hard plastic cases from dropping my phone (a lot), this ugly case has the benefit of actually protecting it.

23. What is the last alcoholic beverage you had?

Captain and Diet.

24. Are you happy right now?
I just woke up ... I'm neither happy nor unhappy. Let me have more coffee, then I'll decide.

25. Who came over to your house last?

Probably a friend of my mother's. I live in the attic of her barn (heeheehee), so I don't exactly have people over a lot.

26. Do you drink beer?

If I'm in the mood for it, or if it's one of those "we're going to hang out at a bar for a long period of time and you don't want to lose control and/or do anything stupid" since I tend to drink the hard stuff really quickly and beer is more of a sipping kind of thing.

27. Have your brothers or sisters ever told you that you were adopted?

Not that I know of ... we had far better ways of tormenting each other ;-)

28. What is your favorite key on your key chain?

No offense, but that has to be the dumbest question I've ever seen on any meme anywhere. I have a car key, a house key, and a classroom key. They are what they are. I don't favor one over the other. Do most people?

29. What was the last movie you watched at home?
I haven't watched a movie at home for eons. I wanted to watch Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome last night, but I fell asleep on the chair watching a DVRed NCIS episode instead. I think the last movie I watched at home was Star Wars (A New Hope).

30. What is in your pocket?
Nothing ... I'm in my pajamas.

31. Who introduced you to your bf/gf/husband/wife?
I'm single ... is it really necessary to rub it in ;-)?

32. Where do you hurt?

I really don't hurt anywhere, which is kind of surprising since I slept in the recliner last night. Maybe I should do that more often :-)

33. Has someone ever made you a build a bear?

Um ... no. We're more of a Vermont Teddy Bear family.

34. What’s something fun you did today?

Well, I've only been awake for an hour or so. I cuddled with Belle (on the recliner, when she jumped on me to wake me up). That was pretty fun. And drinking coffee, that's always a magical experience ;-)

35. What is your favorite aisle at Target?

I like to randomly walk up and down aisles at stores like Target or Wal-Mart. My sister and I actually turned this into an art form when we were younger. You find random tacky crap that you can't believe a store would actually sell, you laugh at people ... great fun :-)

36. When is your birthday?
October 26, 1976. I am a Scorpio (and, yes, I am a Scorpio lol).

37. Is there anything hanging from your rear view mirror?

Nope.

38. How many states in the US have you been to?

The entire eastern seaboard (from Maine to Florida) and a little bit westward. That's about it. I haven't had enough coffee to count them.

39. What kind of milk do you drink?

Simply Smart skim milk (it's in a green carton and doesn't taste like skim milk ... it's pretty cool stuff :-)). Because of my stupid pancreas, I have to be really careful of my fat intake.

40. What are you going to do after this?
Drink more coffee, take a shower, take Belle to have lunch and go to the movies with her father, go back home, write final exams, go to the cemetery and share the love via flowers, work on the summer reading website, call my father at some point, find various ways to procrastinate ... you know, the usual ;-)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm in a Meme Mood, so Here's Saturday 9

I've been slacking at blogging of late in large part because of the end-of-the-school-year crunch. Although I've already posted today (a compelling piece on the prevalence of tears at graduations), I'm in the mood to do a meme.

Fortunately, my good bud, Bud, has satiated my need (and kept me from having to wait until tomorrow's Sunday Stealing) by offering his Saturday 9.

Also, it's quite possible that I'm procrastinating writing exams ;-)

1. What is the craziest thing you've done in the last year?
One of the drawbacks to being a teacher is that you can't really get into the crazy stuff you might hypothetically have done in a quasi-public forum. I'll leave out any sort of calisthenics in a two seater sports car out of it and instead go with doing karaoke to Natalie Imbruglia ;-) Of course, the fact that I teach middle school means that my entire life is crazy ...

2. What is something that you've lost recently?
A rough draft analysis essay written by one of my students. Despite my disorganization and the fact that my desk is pretty much a landmark because it's piled high with random papers and such, I take great pride in not losing student work. This is a first, and I'm sick over it (and of course it's a wonderful kid who worked incredibly hard on the essay ... I officially suck).

3. Where does your patience suffer the most?
I hate hypocrites. And liars. And unprofessional jerks. Put the three together into one person, and you'll understand why my hair is going gray this year.

4. Have you ever reread a book?
All the time. Books are magical in that, although the words on the pages don't change a bit, the experience is completely different based on where you are at in your life, the mood you're in when you read it, new background knowledge you've obtained since the last reading, and so on.

5. What is a TV show that you absolutely HATE to miss?
I don't love TV. I can't think of a show I'd hate to miss, but if I had to choose one it'd be NCIS.

6. How old do you wish you were?
I'm actually pretty good with being 34, much as I complain about it at times. I'm old enough to have gained quite a bit of wisdom about how the world works and young enough to enjoy pretty much everything.

7. Do you know your neighbors?
Actually, I don't. I know their cat, though. Grrrrrrr. Seriously, though, the combination of a fair amount of acreage and being located on a busy road isn't conducive to the neighbory kind of thing.

8. Do you believe that opposites attract?
Have I dated people a lot like myself (well, as much as that's possible ;-))? Yes. Have I dated people that could be considered my opposite? Yes. Am I currently single? Yes.

9. Who was the last person that made you laugh?
A very cool person ... and the context is something that is not typically laugh-worthy, so I guess he found out something very odd about me ;-)

Tears in ... a Gymnasium?

I am a crier. I cry when I'm happy, I cry when I'm sad, I cry when I'm angry, I cry sometimes for no reason at all.

Ergo, it should come as no surprise that I cried like a baby at today's graduation, when my school's Class of 2011 flipped their tassels and became school alumni and students no longer.

While I was wiping away the tears for a group of kids that I know pretty well (it's a small school, so everyone knows everybody else ... but I've never been their teacher), it occurred to me what a mess I'm going to be this time next year. Why? Well, there are two reasons ...

First, and most importantly, Addie will be graduating. Fortunately (well, fortunately for her), her school is large, so the commencement is held in a large stadium at UNH. Addie will not be witness to me bawling like a baby as she passes what might be the last childhood rite of passage.

Members of the Class of 2012 at my school will not be so lucky.

I have been co-Advisor of these kids for two years now, and I taught them all Freshman English the one year I wasn't formally their Advisor. They are an incredible group of kiddos, and because of the nature of my school (I can't really express how small it is, and consequently how tight-knit), they are almost like surrogate children to many of us.

Addie's concert band played "Pomp and Circumstance" at her school's graduation last week, and she came home rolling her eyes at how people were crying (she may have given me a warning look at this moment in time ;-)). "Isn't it supposed to be a happy time?" my practical child asked. "Why cry?"

I tried to explain the whole rite of passage, the leaving childhood goodbye, last time a group that's been united for a long time thing, but she didn't get it.

One of her good friends graduated that night, and I tried to point out that watching Bob graduate must have been at least a little sad for her.

Nope.

For Addie, playing in her last school band concert with Bob was far more upsetting to her. She explained that picturing a band event without Bob was tear-inducing ... going through a school day without him, not so much.

So while I appreciate Addie's practicality, her ability to put things into a perspective that belies her age, I have personally cried at every single graduation I've attended ... and I can't seem to articulate why.

Do you cry at graduations, weddings, concerts, military ceremonies, and any sort of other formal event like that?

If so, why? If not ... why?

Oh, and congrats again to the Class of 2011 :-)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Stealing: The Seriously Random Question Meme (Part I)

This week's Sunday Stealing offering is sold as the "seriously random question" meme. It seems to be seriously random in the direction of food, in my humble opinion, but maybe that's just me ;-)

1.Your ex's car is on the side of the road, on fire. What do you do?
I would pull over, call 911, see if anyone was trapped inside, and do whatever I could to help. No matter how bad a situation with an ex might be, nobody deserves to be trapped in a car on fire. Ignoring it, taking a picture and posting it on Facebook, screaming about karma being a bitch … those might be tempting, but as far as I’m concerned, life’s too short to sink down that low.

2. Your best friend tells you she is pregnant. What is your reaction?
“If you’re happy, I’m happy. If you’re not, I’m here to help you process. If you need anything, let me know.”

3. When is the last time you wanted to punch someone in the face?
I’m non-violent, so face-punching isn’t really a viable option for me. I’ve gotten really annoyed with some people at work lately over turning my workplace into a soap opera (it’s sad when adults start spreading gossip around worse than the middle schoolers do), and we’re currently driving home from my nephew’s birthday party (a three-hour drive), and Addie keeps announcing updates on her Sims characters which is for some reason getting on my nerves like you cannot imagine. Hotspotting my Droid is indeed a mixed blessing ;-)

4. What is the last thing you spent money on?
I bought pretzels for the girls, my mothers, and I during a rest stop on the drive down to Connecticut.

5. Do you think you gained or lost weight this past month?

Gained, sadly. A combination of increased Millky Way consumption and not really being able to exercise for medical reasons has not been a good thing.

6. Crunchy or Puffy Cheetos?
Crunchy. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’m a huge fan of Cheetos, orange fingers and all.

7. The first person on your friends list just called you a bitch. What do you do?
Laugh? I don’t know, it’s all about the context … and I can’t imagine a context that I wouldn’t find at least mildly entertaining. Anyway, I am not a bitch … I am many things, not all of them good, but I would not take a bitch accusation seriously since it is so far off the mark. Furthermore, I don’t think I have any sort of “friends list” … wasn’t that a MySpace thing?

8. Congratulations! You just had a son. What’s his name?
Atticus, Holden, or Rhett.

9. Congratulations! You just had a daughter. What’s her name?
Tess, Elphaba, or Eilonwy.

10. What are you craving right now?
A margarita. Will this car ride never end?

11. What was the last thing you cried about?
My back hurting … I’m becoming a real wimp about pain.

12. When you buy something and your change is 2 cents, do you keep it or tell the cashier to keep it?
I put it in the little “have a penny, leave one, need a penny, take one” box.

13. What color is your tissue box?
I don’t have a clue. Do people actually pay attention to stuff like that?

14. Do you have a ceiling fan in your bedroom, and if so, is there dust on that fan?
Hahahahahahahahaha. I live in the attic of a barn. It is freezing cold in the winter and sweltering hot in the summer. There is no ceiling fan. There’s plenty of dust, though …

15. What was the last voicemail you received about?

An old friend calling to say hi. I have a boring life ;-)

16. Have you ever blocked someone on Facebook?
Nope, nor have I ever unfriended anyone. I’ve turned down people asking to be friends on Facebook (mostly students … they do not seem to listen when I tell them that I cannot be Facebook friends with them), but I’ve never blocked anybody.

17. Scariest thing you’ve experienced in the last year?
Since Addie got her license, I make her text me right before she leaves and as soon as she reaches her destination. Overprotective, I know, but I am a worrier. Addie had a concert at school, and she left an hour before my mother, Belle, and I did. I didn’t receive a “Made it” text from her, and I was absolutely hysterical. I tried to call her, but she wasn’t answering her cell, and I didn’t hear back from her when I texted her frantically.

The period of time when I didn’t know where she was … it was horrible. Addie is in general a really responsible kid, and she was (and still is) religious about texting. I was utterly convinced that something unspeakable had happened to her because it was so unlike her not to text.

When we got to the concert, she was sitting in front of the stage with the rest of the band, and I went charging down there and went totally nuclear on her—demanding her car keys and so forth. She was mortified, and the worst part was, she had texted me … she showed me on her phone. It just happened to catch that little cell hiccup that happens occasionally, so it didn’t get delivered to my phone for several hours.

I felt like the biggest jerk in the world.

18. Do you wear a name tag at work?

Nope :-) I’ve worked at schools that required staff photo badges, and it’s such a relief to have gotten away from that. It’d be silly, actually … there are fewer than 300 students in my school, so trust me, everyone knows everyone else without a name tag.

19. What kind of car do you want?

A Jeep Wrangler.

20. What do you order when you go to Burger King?

A Whopper with cheese. I am usually pre-menstrual to the extreme when I get the BK urge, so I figure why mess around?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rambles on a June Evening

1.  "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest man."
My school has something called Advisory--it's sort of like homeroom, but it's in the middle of the day and is basically around half an hour of time for small groups of students to interact with an adult in the building, forming bonds that transcend the classroom.


I love my Advisory.  They make me laugh.  A lot.

To wit, we had a birthday party for one of my students last week that was celebrated with brownie sundaes.  The birthday girl wanted to know what I'd do if she sprayed me with whipped cream.

I don't think she expected me to say, "Bring it on."  I also don't think she expected the whipped cream to drip all over my face so that it looked like a ... well, like a seminal incident.  I don't think the kids saw it that way, of course, but they insisted on taking a picture and it was all I could think of, and it made us all laugh so much ... and laughter is sometimes hard to come by.

Enjoy ;-)


2.  There is a direct correlation between Milky Ways and the proverbial "spare tire".
I am a Milky Way addict.  There is no better way to explain it.

However, between the pinched nerve and another medical debacle which I will probably get into at some point, I have become rather sedentary.  The Milky Ways are catching up to me.  

I am not thrilled with the way I look.  That is not a good way to feel.  That's all I have to say about that.

Except that I'm "quitting" Milky Ways ... so please hold me to that!

3.  Sixteen-year-olds are spaceshots.
Well, at least mine is.

Addie was inducted into the French Honor Society tonight, and my mother took her because Belle was up late last night since I had a late meeting, and I wanted to make sure she got to bed at a decent hour.  As I was getting ready to put on my pajamas, I get a text from Addie asking me if I'll go to the store when she gets back to buy her Nutella since they're having a crepe party in French class tomorrow.

As soon as they walk in the door, my mother sees me with  my keys and asks where I'm going.  I explain the Nutella request, and my mother says to Addie, "We drove past two grocery stores on our way home.  Why didn't you say something?"

Furthermore, and I know I've said this here before, but Addie has got to be the only kid in the world who gets her license, is given her own car, and who refuses to do errands.  I can remember bugging my mother all the time right after I got my license.  "You need some milk, don't you, Mom?  Can I go to the store for you?  Want me to put gas in your car?"

Nope, Addie sends her 34-year-old mother out to get Nutella.  Which I couldn't find, by the way (it's next to the Twinkies, in case this ever comes up for you).

4.  I'm not sure how I feel about kids and technology.
Belle had her digital portfolio presentation today.  A selection of her work was scanned into a computer file, complete with audio "reflections". 

That kid might just know how to operate a computer better than I do.  It kind of frightens me.  Furthermore, her school uses Macs and we have PCs at home, so she's got experience with multiple operating systems.  

5.  Please consider this my annual "complaining about the weather" post.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I HATE HOT WEATHER.  When it's cold outside, you can always put on another sweater or throw a blanket over yourself.  When it's sweltering ... well, there's only so much you can take off, and even then you're miserable and sweaty and yucky and ...

Here's the thing that really bugs me, though--people that complain all winter about being cold, then complain all summer about it being hot.

At least I am consistent ;-)





Monday, June 6, 2011

Friendship is a Good Thing

There's an old saying:
"There are three kinds of friends--friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for life."
I am incredibly lucky with the friends that I have (and the friends that I have had), although I've grown wise enough in my old age that I believe that adage is true.

Some friends you have for a reason. You work with them, and socializing kind of comes up. Or, perhaps even more commonly, they're a friend of a friend (sometimes even of a friend). You end up hanging out almost out of convenience. These are the "friends" that, in my opinion, you tend to have a lot of in high school and college.

Then, there are friends for a season. I've had some incredibly intense friendships that I wouldn't trade for the world, but they run their course after awhile. One or the other of you moves on, for whatever reason. You outgrow each other. Your world view changes, or theirs does. These are, from my experience, a lot of the friends of adulthood.

And then, of course, there are friends for life. I'm firmly convinced that not everybody has one of these, never mind multiple "friends for life". They are indeed a rare gem.

I'm thinking a lot about the nature of friendship tonight (as the Ambien kicks in ...) because I spent the evening watching one of my best friends reap the rewards of the hard work she has put in with a group of students. It was amazing, and this woman is a brilliant teacher and an all-around remarkable human being. It is an honor to be her friend.

And also because I have a new friend that I'm still getting to know, which is always a fun experience. You can get silly about tacky green socks and being nice and and how jokes about a politician named Wiener Tweeting his package really aren't all that funny because they pretty much write themselves, and what's the fun in that?

Friendship is a gift. You get what you give, and it's important to appreciate it all--whether it be a reason, season, or life friend; after all, each is good in its own way.

Why is There an Inherent Disbelief of Rape Victims?

I have a piece up on Zelda Lily today that focuses on an accused rapist being brought to justice after 14 years.  This is rare, since rape is a crime that exists under a veil of silence and shame.

The audience at Zelda Lily is far different from the readers of this blog, but I would really like to get a discussion going here as well about a subject that is, unfortunately, very near to my heart.

Why do you think there is an inherent disbelief of rape victims?  Do cases such as the one referenced in my Zelda Lily piece change that?  Is there anything that we as a society can do to change the horrors (and prevalence) of this evil crime?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Interesting Reading from the First Week in June

Since my "Interesting Reading" post from last week seemed fairly well-received, I figured I'd repeat it.  Hope you enjoy the few mentions here of the many (MANY MANY MANY) posts I read and loved this week :-)

One of the most powerful pieces I've read this week was posted fairly recently.  Basically, it's a connection between musical performers and the girls who fall into their categories.  Also, it uses the word "fellatio", which I once incorporated into my regular vocabulary ("You want me to dance?  Haha, I totally fellate at dancing") and also because ... well, never mind.  It's a brilliant post, though :-)

I love music, pretty much all music except for really twangy country and rap songs that exist just to throw in as many dirty words as possible (Tupac Shakur is one of the prolific musical artists on my iPod, for example, because his songs are poetry, really).  Much as I love music, though, I really love lyrics.  I have the dubious distinction of being the loser that can win pretty much any "fill in the rest of the song lyrics" contests (I won a t-shirt at a bar once for doing just that).  Anyway, this post got me thinking a lot about lyrics, the ones I carry around in my head from the past thirty-four years' worth of songs I've heard and the ones I'm looking forward to in the future.

Blogging is kind of an interesting part of the lives of many of us.  I know that there are a lot of times when I contemplate what exactly my blog is for, whether it even matters to anyone, what its purpose is, and so on.  I read this post at Melanie's Randomness recently that made me feel far less alone in that regard.  I also had a long conversation with my friend Bud last night about what exactly my blog is and why I should keep certain things (such as what happened after prom night this year, for example) off of it.

Remember back when the mailbox was an exciting opportunity, when running outside to see what magical correspondence the postman delivered was a long-awaited opportunity?  It seems that the only "snail mail" I get these days are bills ... the real stuff comes to me via Droid, which means I get e-mail pretty much instantly.  While I love getting e-mail (and Facebook updates and such), the magic of anticipation is pretty much gone. For more on this, check out Bliss Habits ... you'll be glad you did :-)

For the past few years, I've had my students write letters to actual companies to either make complaints or offer suggestions.  It's resulted in quite a few gift cards coming their way along with a great response in terms of letters from companies.  It's a good lesson in authentic, real-world writing, anyway.  And evidently, it happens sometimes when you don't even contact the company yourself, as Evil Pixie found out ...

And Brittany, who I've been following for years, it seems, took a stand for pregnant women everywhere this week.  She manages to turn every little thing into an impossible-to-stop-reading blog post, and I think she's just amazing.  You enjoy that tank top, girlie ;-)  She is due to have a baby any day, and I can remember how crazy I was when I was pregnant with both my girls ... I certainly wouldn't be writing blog posts :-)

Hope you enjoy these posts as much as I did :-)


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sunday Stealing: The Team Jeffie Meme

Here's the weekly Sunday Stealing event :-) It's very fun to do, even more fun to read ... let me know in the comments if you do it, since I'd love to read it.

Sunday Stealing: The Team Jeffie Meme

TRUE OR FALSE

Q: Kissed someone on your friends list?

Facebook friends? Quite a few of them, actually. Blogger friends? Not that I know of.

Q: Been arrested?

Technically, no. I did spend a night in a jail cell once. It's kind of a long story ...

Q: Held a snake?
Never ... I am petrified of snakes!!!!!!! I was a pretty fearless kid, and I literally passed out once when climbing a mountain with my family after a snake sneakily slithered out in front of me. **SHIVER**

Q: Been suspended from school?
Haha, yup...I'm a reformed rebel ;-)

Q: Sang karaoke?
When I'm drinking, I've been known to do some embarrassing karaoke ... and one of my friends actually videotaped the last venture (on MY phone, no less lol)

Q: Done something you told yourself you wouldn't do?
Oh, all the time ...

Q: Laughed until you started crying?
Frequently...I laugh all the time :-)

Q: Caught a snowflake on your tongue?
Yes, and it's always magical (I know that sounds lame, but it's true)

Q: Kissed in the rain?
Yes, and it's also a pretty magical experience. You feel like you're in a movie or something, at least until you get inside and your hair starts to dry and your feet are cold and ... yeah, kissing in the rain itself is pretty amazing as long as you take the aftermath out.

Q: Sang in the shower?

I sing in the shower all the time, usually show tunes or bad '80s music.

Q: Sat on a roof top?
Yup. In the house I grew up in, my mother's bedroom opened onto the roof of our kitchen's addition. I had some good times on that rooftop ;)

Q: Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on?

Been pushed in, jumped, it's all the same ... I see water and I have the urge to be in it.

Q: Broken a bone?
Yup, broke an ankle and a wrist skiing (on separate occasions).

Q: Shaved your head?

Came pretty close once.

Q: Played a prank on someone?
NEVER. (How does one convey sarcasm through typing?)

Q: Shot a gun?
Nope. I hate guns.

Q: Donated Blood?
I used to, but I'm not able to anymore because I received blood transfusions following complications from a surgery.

LAST PERSON...

1. You hung out with?

My momma. She was telling me about her evening, when she went to some awards ceremony and actually ran into one of my best friends there. I'd received a text from my friend several hours earlier basically saying, "I'm partying with your mom tonight".

2. You texted?
My ex-husband. I try, I really do ...

3. You were in a car with?
Belle. We went to Chuck E. Cheese today, where she had a productive run at skee-ball and I, for some reason, had the magic touch on this updated (and much larger) version of that old game Operation.

4. Went to the movies with?
I think it was Belle, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was that we saw.

5. Person you went to shop with?
My mother, when we went to buy a dress for me to wear to chaperone the prom. I might be the only woman alive who hates shopping. I need to have a specific purpose if I'm going to go into a clothing store.

6. You talked on the phone?
A bud of mine; we had a scintillating conversation about the human condition :-)

7. Made you laugh?

My dog Mollie ... she got up on a chair and started turning around in circles (looking for snakes or something), began the process of laying down, then got back up and started running in circles again. It was really pretty funny.

8. You hugged?

Belle

IN THE LAST 48 HOURS HAVE YOU...

1. Sang?

Of course :-)

2. Listened to music?

Well, if you consider what's on my iPod to be music, yup :-)

3. Danced Crazy?
Nope ... hindered by the bad back. At least that's my excuse ...

4. Cried?
Yup. People were laughing at an old man who fell in a parking lot. I'm clearly an overly sensitive soul, but the whole situation just made me cry.

FIRSTS .....

1.Who was your first prom (or homecoming) date?

Hmm, I don't think I've talked about him here. I'll call him Jamie, and he is Addie's biological father.

2. Who was your first roommate?

My sister ;-) That was pretty short-lived, though ... I think my parents realized that we'd probably rip the house apart if we weren't separated, so they turned the downstairs den into my brother's bedroom and my sister got moved into his old bedroom.

3. What alcoholic beverage did you drink when you got drunk the first time?

Boone's Farm Blue Hawaii, I think. It was definitely something Boone's ;-)

4. What was your first job?
Besides babysitting, working at Water Country, a local water/amusement park.

5. What was your first car?

I drove my mom's Jeep Wrangler a lot of the time, but my very own first car was a Buick Skyhawk (it burst into flames when I'd had it for only two weeks or so) which was quickly replaced by a 1992 Suzuki Swift.

6. When did you go to your first funeral and viewing?
My paternal grandfather's funeral when I was in seventh grade or so. It was pretty traumatic.

7. Who was your first grade teacher?
Mrs. Fortier, and I think I freaked the poor woman out because I'd be reading Stephen King books surreptitiously instead of completing worksheets asking us to color in all of the objects starting with "T" or whatever.

8. Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane?
Florida.

9. When you snuck out of your house for the first time?
Honestly, I never really had to sneak out of my house. After my parents' divorce, my mother was working three jobs and was never home, so we pretty much did what we wanted. After she married my stepdad, the two of them went out a lot and traveled a great deal, and they operated under the assumption that we were "basically good kids", and we were.

Also, my mom and stepdad were really good about letting me go out at all hours to pick up my friends since I did not drink when I was in high school and they knew I was helping out someone who might otherwise try driving home after a night of partying.

10. Who was your first best friend?

Probably my brother. We were very close when we were kids.

11. Who was your first Best Friend in high school?
Since this is an identity-free blog, I'm not going to put their names down. Very cool people, though ;-)

12. Where was your first sleepover?
Probably at my neighbor's house. We were close to the same age and were very close throughout our childhood.

13. Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
Usually my mother. You know you're single when this is your answer, right? Also, depending on the specifics of the bad day, I'll call certain friends before I'd call my mother.

14. Who's wedding were you in the first time you were a Bridesmaid or groomsman?
I was a flower girl in my aunt and uncle's wedding when I was five or so and I was my sister's matron of honor.

15. What is the first thing you did when you got up this morning?
Drank coffee. Or peed. Not sure which came first, and it's entirely possible that I peed while drinking coffee. This is clearly too much information, so I'm moving on ...

16. First time you tied your shoe laces?
I haven't a clue.

17. Are you Facebook friends with your first crush?
Actually, I am. Does he know he was my first crush? I doubt it.

18. Who was the first person you met from the blogosphere?
I don't understand the question. I think what you're asking is if I've ever met somebody in person that I've met through blogging, or maybe who is the first "blogosphere buddy" I've made. The answers are no (well, not yet ;-)), and you don't seriously think I remember, do you?

19. What was the first music album that you bought?

This is a great story. I am a middle child, and my siblings and I are the textbook vision of birth order. My brother (who was perfect) would convince me to do things that were totally his idea (and that he, not me, would totally reap the benefits of), and I'd end up in trouble.

For example, you know the Columbia House mail order music catalog membership thing? Yeah, I became an official member when I was six.

Among my purchases were Eddie Murphy's "Raw" and Accept's "Balls to the Wall". I got in deeeeeeeeeeeeeep trouble for that (my mother was so angry about the amount of the bill that she didn't want to hear my actually very logical argument that Adam was the Eddie Murphy fan and that Adam liked the band Accept and that if I'd bought music for myself, I'd have picked stuff I liked).

20. Who was your first celebrity crush?

Technically, Harrison Ford (I didn't realize at that point in my life that Han Solo was not in fact a real person).

Thank you for playing this week on Sunday Stealing! Please leave a comment or link when you have posted. Stop back and visit other player’s posts. That is really what this is all about, making new friends! Have a great week. See you next Sunday!

On Being Nice ...

When I'm in English teacher mode, I deplore the word "nice".  In fact, if my students use the word "nice" in their writing, I have a mild fit and launch into a dissertation on the need for strong adjectives.

That being said, however, I've been called "nice" twice in the past twenty-four hours, once in cyberspace (thanks, Bud :-)) and once in person, and I have to say that it feels ... good (another word that induces the "weak descriptor" lecture, but for some reason it fits here).

On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped at a fairly busy gas station because I wanted a cold Diet Coke (and, to be completely frank, because I had to pee and I knew that this particular convenience store keeps their bathrooms pretty clean).  As I stepped out of my car, I heard someone yell what Ralphie in A Christmas Story refers to as "the 'Queen Mother' of all swears".

I heard people pointing and laughing, but when I got closer to the door, I saw an old man on the ground with his groceries spilled out of the paper bag he'd been carrying, and I got really mad at the stupid rubberneckers.

I walked over to the man and said, "Can I help you, sir?" He looked at me for a long time and said in a quiet voice, "Don't ever get old." His eyes were a very light blue and the whites were yellowed and shot through with red snaps. I suspect this meant that he was a drinker, but that didn't matter.

What mattered was that nobody should have to lay on the dirty asphalt of a gas station parking lot while a bunch of people stand around laughing.

I asked again, "Can I help you, sir?", and he slowly sat up, gathered his grocery items back into the bag and handed them to me.

"Could you put this in my car, please?" he asked.

His vehicle was an old and rusty blue station wagon, very similar to the one my mother gave my brother shortly after he got his license (in 1987). The back of the car was filled with stuff, and the bench seat in front was dirty and stained. I put the groceries gently into the passenger seat, trying not to breathe too deeply (it reeked of cigarettes and body odor and musty, dusty air).

When I turned back to the man, he was struggling to get up and not having much success. He scooted himself closer to the car using his hands and tried mightily to allow the relative stability of the station wagon assist him in getting to his feet.

If my back hadn't hurt so badly, I would have been on the ground helping him from the start, but at this point, I realized that getting him off the ground was more important than my stupid back (and people were still pointing and laughing, although not as loudly).

I bent down, ignoring my stupid back, and he put one hand on my arm and the other on his car. He slowly pulled himself to his feet, and I wanted to cry. "Don't ever get old," he repeated.

When he was finally sitting back in his car, he unrolled the window. "You're a very nice girl," he told me. "I can't thank you enough."

"Oh, it's no problem," I said, and started to head toward the store before looking back at him. "Um, make sure you take some ibuprofen when you get home. Sometimes when you fall like that, you get really stiff and sore afterwards even if you don't notice it right away."

"Ibuprofen?" he asked, a blank look on his face.

"Advil, Motrin, that sort of thing," I replied. "I have some in my car, if you want me to run and grab you some."

"Oh, no thank you, I have pain pills at home." He paused. "Thank you again for being so nice."

"You're very welcome," I said. "I hope you feel better soon."

And then I went into the gas station and used the restroom and got my Diet Coke (and a Milky Way bar ... my weight is really starting to go to hell, but it was like I needed something to sweeten the bitterness I was feeling) and when I got back outside, he was gone.

My back was starting to really kill, so I took some of the ibuprofen I'd offered the old man and drove home. And thought. A lot.

Helping out the old man had taken less than five minutes. If my stupid back hadn't been hurting, it would have taken even less time. Why was it that the other people at the gas station (and there were a lot of people there, either pumping gas since the price was lower than I've seen it in months or going in and out of the store) didn't stop to help the guy out?

And not only did they not walk over and make sure he was okay, they pointed. They laughed. They found it amusing that he'd yelled, "Fuc*" as he fell to the ground.

I am no saint. I have a zillion and a half faults. My faults, however, do not extend to not just ignoring a fellow human being in need of a simple helping hand but laughing at his misfortune.

I don't think I'm exceptionally "nice" in the great scheme of things ... it's just that clearly so many other people are evidently not.

And that realization was just horrible.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Fragments of Thought (I'm Blaming Percocet)

* "Bad Backs" truly do exist.I used to get really annoyed by people who, whenever asked to help lift something or mow the lawn or whatever, say, "Sorry, can't help, I have a bad back." I mean, talk about a convenient excuse!

But I woke up at two in the morning Sunday with excruciating back pain and found out the next day that I have a pinched sciatic nerve. Ouch!!!!! I've been on a lot of pain meds and muscle relaxants this week (hence the lack of posts and the weird rambling phone conversations I'm not contributing much to ;-)), but it is still horribly uncomfortable.

It's kind of funny, too ... I got a Coke out of the soda machine at work and couldn't bend down to get it out, and I memorably yelled, "I'm having a real problem with bending over!" down the hall, which caused a great deal of laughter.

I will never again roll my eyes when someone starts talking about a bad back. Instead, I will feel intense sympathy.

* My daughter is a brilliant musician.In typical Addie fashion, my lovely sixteen-year-old mentioned offhandedly that she had a solo in Tuesday's jazz band performance. What she didn't tell me was the extent of her solo. I videotaped it at her request, and I cried the whole time (my mother cried the duration of the song as well, and Belle just kept whispering, "Addie's playing! Addie's playing!"

Addie gave me the link to the video I made, but I had to swear not to post it on Facebook. I didn't. But here's the link (Blogger isn't Facebook, right ;-)?)

* Um ... my back hurts.
Feel free to roll your eyes ;-)