There comes a time in all our lives when we are faced with those big, potentially life-altering decisions, truly earth-shattering decisions, decisions even more consequential than "cinnamon cake or chocolate glazed?..." A time when we must consider weighty factors-- both physical and emotional-- and must stop the momentum of events long enough to permit calm reflection and thoughtful analysis because the choice we make could impact our immediate world in such a way that even the slightest misstep could cause catastrophic consequences to rain down like HELLFIRE upon our heads! Yes! A time when we must make a choice between what is right, and what is easy. Today, for me, was one of those times.
That being said... I'm taking the plunge, y'all. Today I am purchasing my first Mac. A 15-inch PowerBook G4. Things will never be the same again.
The Desperate Working Momma (AKA: Cat) is from the mean streets of Phoenix, Arizona. Because she attended a large, almost inner-but-mostly-outer-city school with a bazillion other students, her creative writing talents went mostly unnoticed, except for the brief accolades she received in the second grade for her fantasy masterpiece, The Monster from Outer-Space. After winning a first place ribbon in a journalism copy contest for her critically acclaimed "Freshmen! What are They Good For?!" piece in the 1989 PHS Badger yearbook, and going down in infamy as the only virgin head cheerleader EVER on the PHS Varsity Cheerleading squad, she went off to college where she participated in student government, achieved fluency in Latin and Spanish, and earned a Bachelor's degree in English.
Finding herself utterly unemployable upon graduation, she went back to school to get her Master's degree in English education. She was moderately happy teaching English to obnoxious, hormonal teenagers, but stuck with it mostly due to her tenure as cheer advisor/coach. She could often be found in the gym teaching her varsity girls complex stunting techniques, choreographing new dance moves to Jock Jams, or demonstrating how to properly execute a backflip. Unfortunately, after a run-in with her boss-- a short Texan with a severe case of short man syndrome and an infuriating habit of referring to himself in the third person-- regarding her inability to "know her place" and "respect her elders" all because she had the nerve to place the star quarterback on academic probation, Cat told her boss to "stick it where the sun don't shine!" and was off to greener pastures.
Her dreams of hitting the bright lights of Broadway or the star-studded streets of L.A. to pursue that deep-held dream of making it big as an actress were cut short when she noticed she was in possession of a child, with another on the way, as well as a husband whose feet were planted firmly on the ground. So she found a new job teaching English and it only took six more years of that nonsense for Cat to discover "hey, this sucks!"
Fortunately, as acting was still out of the question, Cat unearthed a talent for researching and writing extraordinarily dull expository text and soon secured a position writing regulations for the federal government. As an added bonus, this career change would also allow her the exciting opportunity to up and move her ass all the way across the country to our Nation's Capital. TGSM, after a brief digging in of the heels, packed up the kids and followed.
Cat soon found that her job writing regs afforded her ample time to write sappy romantic-comedy screenplays, brainstorm ideas for the Great American Novel she will inevitably pen, and to jump in with both feet to this new computer craze called "blogging," and Desperate Working Mommas was born. Even though this bio will never EVER be seen by her boss-- nuh-uh, no sirree, because that would be BAD, right?-- she would tell you that she loves her job very much. And she would totally mean it. But she loves blogging WAY more.
Oh, and as a sidenote, we are happy to report that she is no longer a virgin.
If I snarf down a doughnut, but nobody sees me eat it, do the calories count? I think not. (Er, back in a sec...)
Who are the idiots responsible for bringing back the straight-leg jeans and heel look? Or the pencil-leg trouser and ballet pump look, for that matter? Huh?! Have they not SEEN what those combinations do to a normal-sized woman's hips?! Hello?! It's madness, I tell you! MADNESS! Everyone knows that straight-leg or pencil-leg jeans-- if worn at all, which I highly discourage, especially if they are of the high-waisted mom-pants variety-- should only be paired with a solid boot. Balances things out and shizz. I mean, duh. Freaking MORONS. Live in the now, people! Live in the NOW!
I can't stop listening to Patrick Park's Something Pretty.
Ditto Old 97's Adelaide and (when I'm feeling especially kicky!) Four Leaf Clover.
I am very sad for Kat(i)e Holmes. I don't know why. But as I watch her sail along on Tom Cruise's Scientology-propelled Sailboat O' Crazy-- smiling blankly as he screams to the masses about sex, drugs, and alien space invaders, or gushing over Kat(i)e's amazing pregnancy which is just cool and super-duper amazing-- well, it makes me want to sit in a quiet corner somewhere humming Paula Cole's I Don't Want to Wait over and over while watching classic episodes of Dawson's Creek on DVD and sobbing quietly into my "Team Pacey!" t-shirt.
Thong underwear. What's the point? I mean, honestly.
Tee Friggin' Gee Eye Eff! Today I can finally go home and really hang with the parental units who've been visiting all week. PHEW! We don't have cable and I think my mom has had her fill of my extensive DVD collection. I mean, there's only so much Buffy and Veronica Mars a person can watch, you know what I'm saying? Yeppers. TGIF. Absofreakinglutely.
How hilariously sad is it that my favorite part of last night's American Idol episode was watching the judges get their panties in a twist? I know so much of this show is, well, show, but they were SO truly pissed at each other! And I was laughing so hard at the bickering between Paula and Simon, and Paula's exaggerated eye-rolling, and Randy's wide-eyed "What is WRONG with you today, dawg?!" And the "He's in a bad mood!... No, I'm not... Yes, you ARE!... No I'm not..." Especially when Simon finally abandoned ship, stalking away to his stretch limo and heading back to his hotel room for a little R & R with... er, himself! Possibly shouting things into his cell phone like "They are all hideous IDIOTS! I don't mean to be rude, but get me off of this effing show and I mean NOW! I don't CARE how many tight black sweater-shirts they've promised me! Grrr! WORST! BIRTHDAY! EVER!" And I'm all, "Dude! It's a muthafriggin' WALKOUT!" And that was funny to me! Because I am twelve!
In other news, there were some good singers and some awful singers. And wasn't Ryan working it last night?! He was looking especially sassy in his casual button-up shirt with oversized cuffs, classically paired with those butt-hugging faux-faded jeans. You = Wicked Sexy, my wee Seacrest. Rawr!
Momma! I just lost my front tooth!... Hannah said it would hurt for a second, but it didn't... it was a little scary, you know, because it made a little bit of a crunchy sound when Daddy pulled it?.... No, I didn't cry!... Oh, hey! Now I have a hissy sound when I talk! Lissssssten! Sssss! Sssssssee, Momma?... and now I can drink sssstuff just closing my mouth and putting it through my missssssing tooth... Momma! Now I'm going to get a sticker on my "I lost my first front tooth" chart at school!... Hey, Momma, did you know teeth are stronger than bones? Daddy told me... And I also know that the sun is the biggest thing in the world. In the universe! It's bigger than us! And the earth is as small as a pencil dot... eraser. Small as a pencil eraser, huh Mom?! Huh!... Oh! Guess what?! I'm taking my tooth for Show-and-Tell today!... Um.... uh.... would you like to talk to Dad now to see how he's doing this morning?... No?... Okay, bye Momma! Have a nice day at work!link | posted by Cat at 8:47 AM
Even more overrated than homemade bread (kneading? hello?), a honeymoon in Niagra Falls (the Falls are NOISY, yo?), and the lower back tattoo (SNL ruined it for y'all; you know it's true), would be the phrase, "Any publicity is good publicity."
No place is this better illustrated than during the beginning stages of American Idol. Because of the popularity and mania of Season One's audition phase-- not to mention the twenty bazillion clips of excruciatingly BAD singing auditions by seriously delusional hopefuls played over and over and over and over-- we have had to suffer through the likes of Creepy "Like a Virgin" Guy, William "She Bangs!" Hung and now, Rhonetta. Oh, Rhonetta, Rhonetta, RHONETTA... When the nice men in little white coats come, don't fight it, my sister-friend. Be cool. Take their hands and follow. Because you? Are FUR-REEKY! And a walking fashion disaster area! Um, and in dire need of some underpants. This is not to even to mention the whole anger-management issue... "Paula Abdul is as old as HELL! What's she got? She played out! 'Straight up now, tell me, is it gonna be you and me blah, blah, BLAH!' I'm a STAR, motherf*@$%#! And that b@$*# wants me to drink off her nasty self?! Uh-UH! She should be drinking off me! That's right, mother f*@$%&! I'm gonna be a SUPAHSTAH!... Oh, and Simon Cowell can KISS MY ASS!"
Oh, and this? (be sure to picture accompanying head-wags): "I'm still gonna be famous, 'cause guess who told me? Ten of my motherf*@$%ing psychic friends told me that!"
Best. AI Craziness. EVER.
Still, I must ask you: When will the madness end?!
Seriously. You know some of these people that get through are deliberately playing the fool. Some, like the squeaky-voiced girl in the pink cowboy hat and unfortunate earrings, are genuinely naive regarding their talent: "My mom says I'm a cross between Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood. But she doesn't know who they are or anything about music, so... *shrug*..." Her tears afterward and her squeaky little "You know what would make me feel better, Ryan?... A hug!" were proof enough. You just can't fake that heartbreak. Well, unless you are an actor. And a damn good one, at that. Or if you just really, really want to cop a feel off wee Ryan. Which I have NO DOUBT she did, because, you know... he's so wee! And CUTE! And he was all rubbing her back and stuff so you know she could totally do it. Aaw! LUCKY! I love me some wee Ryan Seacrest...
But others, such as the dude who took, like, ten minutes to sing one line of his song, were soooooo full of it. He was a super bad actor, too. He almost started laughing when he saw the look on Paula's face, right? Did anyone else see that?! Such a FAKER! I've got your number, DORKUS! And you know his friends are TOTALLY going to see that audition! Because he is a Paris Hilton-level attention whore and will absolutely make them watch! And they're going to be like, "DUDE! You are SUCH a MORON!" and run away from his house and he will be all alone with his flatscreen and twenty bowls of popcorn yelling, "No! Come back! It was a joke! I just wanted my 15 minutes! IS THAT SO WRONG?! HUH?!" and they will shout as they race into the night, "Next time rob a bank! At least that will be more dignified, you freaking loser!" and he will be all, "Well, who needs you, then!... All I need is my 15 minutes of fame!... And this thermos! My fifteen minutes of fame and this thermos! That's all I need!... Hey. I wonder when they'll call with that record deal?"
Or at least that's the way I see it in my mind.
But my fave was lingerie girl who wore skanky-- not to mention hideous-- underclothes to her audition, insulted my wee Ryan repeatedly (and vertically-challenged men in general), and took care to mention she "didn't judge" her single mother (who bought her the outfit, naturally) for making ends meet by being gainfully employed as a dancer in a strip club. She lost me at "Oh no! I'm moving out here and don't want to be surrounded by short guys!" in response to Ryan's defensive assertion that he was the average height of guys in California. Somebody's filter was definitely not in working order, you know what I'm saying? Good LORD. Don't worry, my wee'un! You still have your star on the Walk of Fame! What's she got, huh?! Bad lingerie, that's what! Take that Tall Girl Of Ugly Underclothes And Even Uglier Attitude. Take THAT.
All I'm saying is that if all of this doesn't convince you that the phrase "Any publicity is good publicity" is colossally overrated, just ask wannabe twin superstars Terrell and Derrell Brittenum. They'll tell you!
Well, when they are released from jail, that is.
I'll bet you a dollar.
To the two 17-year-old Target associates struggling to maneuver a large, unwieldy box into my car's trunk (which was littered with-- among other things-- a Bratz scooter, several mismatched socks, some window cleaner and paper towels, a half-deflated soccer ball, and one roller blade):
"Oh my gosh! Sorry! I didn't realize I had so much junk in my trunk!"
On their sly glances at my buttocks followed by ill-concealed snickering:
"I really just said that, didn't I?"
And Daddy dear! And Jon dear!
Wicked crazy though it may be, not only was my brother Jon born on my daddy's birthday, but my little Mack was, too... I know, right? Freaky. A totally unplanned coincidence! As a matter of fact, she was two weeks early...
You see, when I was eight months pregnant I had this brilliant notion to carry an armload of firewood across an icy, snow-covered road. In the dark. Yep. There was... an incident. It involved some falling. And some cursing. And some crying. And some more cursing. Mostly directed at TGIM for letting me carry an armload of freaking firewood across an icy, snow-covered road IN THE DARK! Anyhoos, short story long, I could only hold off the premature labor contractions for so long, you know? A few weeks later, voila. Baby. Born on her grandpa's and uncle's birthday. Badda bing, badda boom.
So I present a photo tribute to the birthday boys and girl (because I'm short on time, OKAY?!)! I hope you ALL have a fabulous birthday. (I know Mack will. Twelve girls will be invading my home momentarily for her "Almost Sleepover" birthday party. TWELVE 8-YEAR-OLD GIRLS, y'all! "Almost" sleeping over! I'm scared. Somebody hold me.)
1st Generation B-Day Boy!:
Daddy! (Please attempt to ignore the freaky sisters. Good LORD, you two.) Obviously Dad and I missed the Make The Most Unattractive Face EVER memo. We had NO idea.
2nd Generation B-Day Boy!:
Jon! (and the wifey, Sara) Seriously. I want to deep condition that boy's hair SO bad! C'mon Jon! Just once! He DID let me braid some wicked cornrows this one time. That? Was AWESOME.
3rd Generation B-Day Girl!:
Yep. There's my cheesy girl.
You can't go wrong with Princess Leia cinnamon buns, that's all I'm saying...
Flippin' SWEET! Gosh!
My sweet little Hannah Mack! Happy birthday, cutie.
After much thought, I have come to the following conclusion: the problem with being ironic via the written word is that people tend to take me at face value, especially when to the casual observer it would seem I am utterly sincere in my views, despite an overabundance of self-righteous exclamations and downright silly assertions about whatever I happen to be talking about.
Not that it would help if I were saying it to your face, actually; I am an accomplished actress (read: liar), I have a deceptively sincere demeanor (ha!), and my poker face is as blank as Paris Hilton is a media whore. For reals, y'all. I kid you not.
What can I say? It's a character flaw. I think I get it from my dad's side of the family. (Sorry, Dad. Just sayin'... Oh! Hey! Happy birthday!)
This genetic flaw is best-illustrated in the story of the time I taught Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" to my senior English students and I so offended some of them that they went home and told their parents I was making them read stuff by "this sicko" who was encouraging people "to totally eat their babies and make purses out of them and stuff!" I see now that I certainly did not help things by reading key excerpts from the essay to them as a "teaser" for the next day's class, without first prefacing it with, "Okay, guys? He really doesn't mean that the Catholics in Ireland should literally eat their young. This is simply the greatest example of sustained irony in the whole of the English language, okay? Got it? This is a SATIRE. Swift is not suggesting cannibalism. OKAY?!" But seriously... what fun would that be?! It's so much better to read it the way Swift's peers read it; completely clueless to his deliberate use of an ironic persona. Otherwise it's like explaining why a jokes is funny before actually telling the joke. No element of discovery, you know? And to be completely honest? I just liked messing with their minds.
What?! Turnabout is fair play, much? Gosh! Let's see you try teaching 17- and 18-year olds whose favorite two phrases are "Shakespeare was totally gay!" and "Is this gonna be on the test?" without resorting to making your own kind of fun! Honestly.
Hey. Did you know that in rural Arizona farming communities parents have a nasty habit of ringing up their children's teachers at home? (Or corralling them at the grocery store? Or the video store? Or the post office? Even the gas station? MY FRONT LAWN, for Pete's sake?! Have I mentioned lately how little I miss teaching? Because DUDE.) Yep. There were several calls from angry/hysterical/confused parents to field that evening, I tell you what. Good LORD. You would have thought that I was the one preaching cannibalism for profit and population control!
I should also mention that one of my students was the nephew of the principal of my school. I ask you: how freaking hilarious is it to be called into your boss's office to be raked over the coals for teaching "offensive and inappropriate material" in the classroom, thus being forced to explain to said boss that he must not have been paying attention in his British Lit class back in the day if he didn't immediately recognize the classic elements of Swift's "modest" proposal-- a phrase which in modern usage has come to indicate a proposal that is anything but modest?
Pretty damn hilarious, it turns out.
Oh! My point? Well... let's just say that if I told you, it would be like telling you why a joke is funny before telling you the joke. Or in this case, explaining the joke after I tell it, which everyone knows is almost as bad as explaining it beforehand, right?
Okay. Now that I have that off my chest, I have to get to the store before all the sale-priced SpongeBob SquarePants Wild Bubble Berry Pop-Tarts are sold out. Oooooh, and I need to use that 2-for-1 coupon (cut it off our Frosted Flakes cereal box this morning) for Fairly Odd Parents Orange & Creme Miniatures Kit Kat bars before it expires. Those suckers move fast. These groceries aren't going to buy themselves, am I right?!
And I have growing kids to feed, yo?
Thanks heavens! Americans are FINALLY coming to their senses and taking a stand against the junk food indoctrination prevalent in today's children's television programming. In Massachusetts, advocacy groups and parents are suing the Nickelodeon TV network and cereal maker Kellogg Co. in an effort to stop junk food marketing to kids. Well it's about time!
I mean, Nickelodeon-- with its ever-popular SpongeBob SquarePants and it's Fairly OddParents-- and Kellogg-- with its ggggrrrrrreat Frosted Flakes and its misleading Apple Jacks (no apples! for reals!)-- are prime venues for the predatory marketing of junk food to my kids. Think about it... where does SpongeBob work? In a Krusty Krab shack! Where he peddles (as well as consumes) fattening Krabby Patties and sodas and shizz! What is THAT teaching the children, huh? Even the cool crustaceans and sponge-life eat the junk food, that's what! I know, right? The insidiousness of the message is absolutely mind-blowing in its genius.
Look around. The enticing junk-food ads are everywhere, I tell you, and then I go into the grocery store and all my children's beloved Nickelodeon cartoon characters are just plastered all over those fruit snacks, and potato chips, and sugary Kellogg cereals, and fruit drinks, and naturally my children want them. To add insult to injury, every time we pass a Burger King my kids are all, "MOOOOOOM! Buy me a kid's meal! Pleeeeeeeeeeaaase?! They have Dora! DOOOOORAAAAAAAA! The EXPLOOOORRRAAAAAAH!" Wake up, America. How are my children supposed to have a healthy, obesity-free lifestyle when they are eating Burger King kid's meals all the time? Huh? HOW?!
Finally someone is looking out for the welfare of my children.
Just look at Sesame Street on PBS... they listened when concerned parents and advocacy groups leaned on them and they changed the Cookie Monster's tune from "Cookies, cookies, cookies start with C! grumgrumgrumgrum..." to "Cookies are a sometimes food!" and just look how that turned out. I'll bet thousands of children do not want cookies all the time now... no SIR. Just sometimes. Take that evil Nickelodeon junk food indoctrinators. HA!
I mean, honestly. What is a parent supposed to do? Just switch off the television and send the kids outside to play? Force them out on a bike ride? What if it's COLD outside, huh? What then? Or, what? Refuse to buy the high-calorie, low-nutrition food and drinks for which they whine and beg and plead in the grocery store? With the tears? And the pouty faces? Hello? Can you say "Bad Parent"? Honestly! How's that supposed to promote peace and harmony in the home? Well?! See? Do you SEE?! It just can't be done.
And SpongeBob is gay, too, did you know? Dead serious. The bastards.
They're going down.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not able... I did not... I could not... I didn't get to.... aw, screw it.
I totally missed the season premiere of AMERICAN freaking IDOL!
I mean, I caught a quick glimpse of a super-DUPER tan, skanky, teenaged Paris Hilton Wannabe (she frightened me, y'all), and another scene with a frickin' tall, Red Bull-jacked up crazy man with a mediocre voice (he TRULY frightened me) who Paula totally sent to Hollywood making me question all that is true and good in the world but I missed pretty much everything else!
I so do not want to talk about it. It's too painful, guys. Too painful.
That being said... was it good?! Huh?! Well was it?! GAH! Wait! No! NOOOOO! Don't tell me! Don't tell me! I don't want to know! The pain! My heart! OH! Hyper... ventilating! Need... oxygen...!
Whatev. I'm over it. Really.
(But was it good?)
link | posted by Cat at 9:54 AM
American Idol is on tonight!
Yes! Once again the season premiere of American Idol has descended upon us like manna from heaven above. Or in some case like a tidal wave of shrieking Valkyrie from Valhalla, but STILL! Mostly manna! From heaven! Seriously. What is not to love about watching hopeful contestants dressed in lovingly hand-crafted cow costumes have their dreams ripped apart by a surly Englishman?! Huh? Right?! HUH?!
Do not judge me harshly. I admit to times of genuine UN! COMFORTABLE! emotions when we come across the occasional contestant who clearly has no idea what he sounds like when he sings. Well, either that or he has never grasped the finer points of sarcasm and refused to take to heart the drunken' cries from the back of the karaoke bar of "Dude, you SUUUUUUUCK!" Wait. That's not sarcasm...
I mean, it is beyond me why these contestants' friends never took the time to pull them aside and say, "Listen. I've been lying to you for years. You pretty much suck with the singing. Please never EVER sing again for as long as you live EVER." Where's the love, people?! What kind of friends ARE YOU?!
Eh. Then again, if you blow half your college tuition to road-trip to Massachusetts and camp out on the cold, mean streets of Boston with thousands of other equally inspired (read: delusional) people-- ostensibly clad in lederhosen, leather suspenders, and half-stockings-- hoping for the infinitesimal chance of appearing on national television JUST to sing Climb Every Mountain and be verbally castigated by Simon Cowell in a delightfully "unscripted" fashion in front of millions of viewers around the globe? Honestly. The friends? Not to mention the lederhosen? Even if they are a happy sort of knickerbockers that love music and dance? Least of your worries, amigo, that's all I'm saying. My advice? Go for the kilt next time, buddy! It's kickier.
Face it. We are all fully aware that this spectacle-- the ridiculous costumes; the impromptu "confessionals" raging against The Man; the cheesed-off stage parents-slash-vocal "coaches"; the reflex "Woo!" every time the camera pans the crowd; the gay yodeling cowboy; the identical twins singing in perfectly CREEPY harmony (I'm just saying)-- is all just a means to an end, so my wee Ryan-- dressed in a natty pin-striped sportcoat with too-long sleeves (you know, due to his wee-ness?), trendy jeans, and a child-sized ironic t-shirt (again with the wee-ness)-- has a deliciously inane, not to mention gratingly annoying, montage of bad auditions to show at the AI5 Season Finale with the hope of making the last five months of fantastic to mediocre performances seem like Lollafreakingpalooza by comparison. Come on. You know I speak true.
That being said... I so hope Ryan looks super tan tonight. I love when he's super tan! Makes his teeth look even whiter! And shinier! All glittery and shizz! Like the stars! Oooooh... Maybe he'll commandeer Paula's contract-stipulated personal tanning bed (Girlfriend? You live in CALIFORNIA. Good LORD.) and really go to town, you know? Because that? Would be AWESOME. Hopefully he'll tone the spiky, flat-ironed hair down a bit this year, though. Someone could get hurt. For reals.
I am so going to tuck the kiddos into bed early, plant my tushy on the couch, and settle in for a solid night of awful to middling musical entertainment (with the occasional glimpse of amazing talent), overseen by Randy "Welcome To The Dawg Pound" Jackson, Paula "You Really Blew Me Away" Abdul, and Simon "That Was Simply Dreadful" Cowell.
Rock. Freaking. ON.
link | posted by Cat at 5:44 AM
Cat: Give me some Cracker Jacks, biznitch!
Jen: As if!... All right, Daddy, I'm ready for my close-up.
Jen: EW!... Okay, let me taste.
Truth is I have absolutely no recollection of what the world is going here; I just love the pictures!
If you feel so inclined, try your hand at interpreting the scene.
Share Video at DropShots.com
If you don't want to come around anymore, I would totally understand.
(*runs off to Snake with the kiddos*) link | posted by Cat at 5:11 PM
Some of the funniest memories of my life involve a friend of mine, a girl I met in the fifth grade soon after moving to Prescott, Arizona. Let's call her Nat, shall we? You know, because that's her name? The first time we met she was immediately envious of my naturally curly hair and I was momentarily awestruck by her gorgeous, ice-blue eyes. We bonded immediately. Seriously. We had the tightest, most tempestuous love/hate relationship the world had ever seen, I tell you what. Because this gal and I? We were totally BFF! Best frenemies FOREVAH! Oh, I kid you NOT. We either loved each other or we hated each other. There was no in between.
-- Laughing over the birthday cake she baked and decorated for me on my eleventh birthday, which cracked like an 8.5 on the Richter scale and fell apart right before our eyes;
-- The time in sixth grade when a boy we both liked responded to a note of the "Do you like me? Check Yes or No" variety with the diplomatic response that he thought I was "Cutest" and Nat was "Prettiest," to which Nat responded in her most disdainful voice, "Ha! 'Pretty' is like Farrah Fawcett. 'Cute' is like Snoopy";
-- Getting kicked out of Sunday School class with her due to her sharp wit and an even sharper tongue (We were only in junior high and she may have looked all cute and innocent, but not only was she the smartest person I had ever known, she knew how to press EVERYBODY'S buttons and watched WAY too much Letterman. She was hysterical!);
-- Shouting in amazement "You SLAPPED ME!" during a road show rehearsal after Nat totally clocked me, right out of the blue! For NO reason whatsoever! That I can RECALL! (I must have had fire in my eyes because she ran to stand by her mother, who was the director that year, so I couldn't freaking DECK her like I wanted to);
-- Dyeing her hair brunette for a part in the play and using permanent hair color, effectively turning her hair several shades of gray until it finally settled into a nice, sea-green color, earning her the nickname "Algae Head." (I let The Slap go after that; I figured this experience was punishment enough);
-- Cruising Gurley Street in my Pooh Car, blasting Rhythm of Love by the Scorpions or Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley (that one was her choice, I SWEAR!);
-- Partying at the Ostrich Farm with Di and some other friends (total crashers!), while Nat shrieked at everyone within earshot, "WE'RE NOT DRINKING! AAAH! The appearance of evil!";
-- Singing "Memory! All alone in the MOOOOOOOONLIGHT!" at the top of our lungs whenever we drove past a memorable place in our love lives;
(FYI: that is TOTALLY not me making that mad FREAKY face...)
-- Going on vacation and bringing back for me a long, hysterical note composed on the back of an airsick bag;
-- Inviting BOYS to a sleepover at my house when my parents were out of town, and my grandfather walking in at six in the morning to find Nat and a boy curled up together on the floor, fast asleep (Totally innocent! Pinky promise!);
-- Accusing me of "going to Prom with the only boy [she'd] ever love!"
-- Swimming together during summer breaks when we were home from our respective colleges, discussing boys, the general suckiness of fair skin, and politics;
-- Introducing me to the liberating freedom of expression contained in the words "hell" and "damn";
-- Honoring me by asking if I would be one of her bridesmaids at her wedding;
-- Teaching me that a person can overcome and move past the bad-- no, heinous-- events in her life and grow up to be a loving wife, a caring mother, and a true friend.
Enough said. Happy birthday, Nat. I still love you like a sister, and I always will. Thanks for being my bestest frenemy EVAH.
(Meticulously transcribed in her own words. Seriously. You just can't make this stuff up. It can't be done!)
Momma, I want to tell you a story. A nonfiction story. Okay? So today? At school? Two girls were, like, yelling at Will and beating him up and stuff? So I said "STOP!" And they were all, "Will has to go to the back of the line!" you know, all snotty and stuff? And I was like, "NO! Stop being mean! Just let him stay where he is!" and they said, "No! He has to go to the back! It's a rule!" And so then I totally said, "You're opinion means nothing to me" just like you taught me and they were all-- " (here she grabs my arm and re-enacts their OMG! expressions) "-- and so I was like, "What?! My mom taught me that!" and then they were all, "Fine. Whatever." So Will stayed where he was. And you know what, Momma? It made my heart smile.... (then) Oh, that means I (air quotes) "felt happy."
(I ask you: Is it possible for a momma's heart to burst with pride? In the good, metaphorical way, not the bad, "Someone Call An Ambulance!" way? Because aaaaw... CUTE. That's my baby girl.)
Last Friday as I was listening to the radio during my commute home from work, the talk show host stated that So-and-So had "hootspah."
I was confounded, y'all. "'Hootspah'?" I wondered, "What in the Sam Hill is 'hootspah'?" Then I was all, "Ding! Oooooh! Could it be?... Yes, it has to be ch-ch-chutzpah!" After a moment of back-patting and self high-fiving, I was like, "Hold up..." Then in full-on panic mode-- you mean the "ch" is silent? why didn't anyone tell me the "ch" is SILENT?!-- I frantically searched my memory for a time I may have attempted to utter this word aloud. Had I?! Think! THINK! Thankfully the answer was "ohthankyouGod, NO."
You see, it has been forcibly brought to my attention at several points throughout my life that it is entirely possible to be extraordinarily well-read-- with a rather extensive vocabulary, not to mention a phenomenal grasp of grammar and a superlative command of syntax (Uh-Huh!)-- and yet still come across in company as a blathering idiot.
The first and arguably most traumatizing experience I can recall happened when I was twelve. While giving a speech-- Goals: Big Choices and How to Set Them! or some such nonsense-- in front of a large, intimidating audience of adults and my peers, I used forms of the word "endeavor" in a few key sentences. I had certainly read the word often enough and I absolutely knew what it meant. Endeavor! Strive to achieve! Witness my mad superior vocab skillz! It fit perfectly in my speech and I fully planned to shock! and! awe! with that baby... thereby securing my place in the Geek Hall of Fame, I see now. Shut. Up. I was twelve. What I did not know, however, was that the "ea" in "endeavor" has a short rather than long "e" sound.
C'mon! Seriously! How would I know that?! As with most of my knowledge of less common words, I knew what "endeavor" meant through having read it, not through having heard it. (I mean, who else was totally relieved when the first Harry Potter movie came out and we finally knew how to correctly pronounce "Hermione" and "Hagrid"?! Who's with me?!... Really? It's just me, then? LIARS.) And in my head "endeavor" always sounded like "endeevor." Everyone knows "ea" totally equals "eeeee"! Right? Huh?! Except when it doesn't?! So after sharing my thoughts about how I was endeevoring to do my part and though the endeevor was difficult it was a worthwhile challenge, imagine my chagrin afterward when my oldest sister approached me and with a smile explained, "Ha! It's "endehvor," dork! EN-DEH-VOR! Duh!"
Mortification ensued. I raged against the duplicity of the English language. I bemoaned the devestating effects of the Great Vowel Shift. I cursed our English forefathers for indelibly standardizing words whose letters do not represent correct pronunciation and defy common sense. Damn the inconsistent dipthongs! Damn the heteronyms! Damn the silent letters! (What are they all about anyway, silent letters? As far as I am concerned, they have no etymological justification whatsoever, right?) Damn them all! TO HELL.
Sadly, that instance was only one of many pronunciation faux pas I have committed throughout my life. In fact, when I was a teacher I learned to keep Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, with its handy Audio Pronunciation feature, up and running on my computer for those pesky words I would occasionally run across, such as "antithesis" and "denouement." Honestly. Nothing like a smartass valedictorian wannabe shouting out in front of one's entire Honors English class, "Uh, Mrs. L? Isn't 'carte blanche' pronounced 'cart blawnsh', NOT 'car-tay blan-chay'?", to which I would speedily reply, "Well, yeah... I know, right?! I was totally testing you guys, so... wow! Good catch! Okay, moving on..."
And I won't even tell you what happened the first time I tried to pronounce "aesthetic" in a group discussion. It's too painful, guys.
Some would say that a simple solution would be to stop using all a' them there high-falutin' ten-cent words, but if you have big-ass ideas you have to use big-ass words to express them, right? Huh? Right? That's all I'm saying.
That's right, I said it. BIG-ASS IDEAS! And I have the chutzpah to admit it!
In my head I just totally pronounced that "chuht-spuh."
Sometimes I wonder if I am an introvert elaborately disguised in extrovert clothing. I have never considered myself an introvert, and sometimes after especially exhausting parties at which I flitted from person to person to person with my chit-chatting and loud-talking and wise-cracking and belly-laughing I have felt almost sure that my extroverted, social butterfly nature is simply Who I Am.
But sometimes there are doubts, little niggling fears that perhaps I am simply engaging in socially acceptable extrovertish behavior because I have always been told that I am an extrovert, therefore I play the part of one, just in case I am one, even though ofttimes I would be just as happy at home in my bed rereading an old, dear book as I would be belting out Captain and Tennille's Love Will Keep Us Together at the Brown's annual Christmas party. These doubts are only exacerbated by the occasional debilitating episode of social anxiety that grips me when I catch sight of someone from my past-- a teacher, an old gymnastics buddy, an ex-boyfriend, perhaps-- and I would rather die ten thousand deaths or spend an eternity watching old episodes of Cop Rock or Saved By The Bell: The New Class than have to actually talk to that person, so I panic and pretend I don't see him or her or them and turn the other way and run like the frickin' wind.
Honestly. What's that all about?
So if you ever see me and you wave at me and are all, "Hey! Cat!" and I seem to see you, then seem NOT to see you, and I suddenly turn and break into a wild sprint heading the opposite way, away from YOU, knocking bystanders out of the way willy-nilly in my mad dash to freedom and introversion (and usually a donut because all that running makes me wicked hungry, yo?), well, don't take offense. It's not you. I'm just not sure if I'm an extrovert or not.
It has come to my attention that not everyone is as pop-culturally aware as I, and there is a bit of confusion regarding that infamous dance move-- The Snake. Allow me to clarify:
How best to explain...? Ooooh, got it! Okay, imagine standing sideways next to a limbo bar (and don't even TRY to tell me you don't have a little pre-existing Harry Belafonte knowledge because I SO won't believe it). Are you there yet? Good. Now imagine ducking under the bar, letting that motion travel all the way down to your feet. A solid hip-wiggle is key. Then you do it again the other way. Back and forth, back and forth, weaving like a snake. It is also considered appropriate to bend your arms at right angles and throw in the occasional jaunty snap of the fingers, or even a little free-style break-dancing. The fact that you can actually Snake while seated is an added bonus, and has probably played a key role in the durability of the dance move.
The Snake is actually very similar to The Axl Rose, as seen on Sweet Child Of Mine and other Guns & Roses late-eighties videos. This dance move involves holding on to a fake microphone stand and, with head lowered, sliding one leg out to the side, only about a foot off of the ground. As soon as your foot hits the ground, immediately repeat this move with your other leg. Repeat at least 10 times. You will be the hit of the staff Christmas party with this baby.
This concludes Cat's 80's Pop Cultural Awareness tutorial.
Over the soft hum of the furnace I can hear the rain outside. It spatters against the window-- a staccato pattering, devoid of rhythm, but gently soothing, even numbing, nonetheless. A thin branch scrapes against the bedroom window; but even so, my house seems unnaturally still, somber... withdrawn from the storm softly brewing in the restless day outside-- just as I am feeling restless and withdrawn from the storm softly brewing inside.
So I think to myself, Sit-- listen, hoping I can hear what my heart is trying to say. And I close my eyes and listen hard.
For a moment all I can hear is the electric whispering of the ceiling fan (the furnace has cut out), but even that light whooshing sound fades as the volume in the room ever-so-slowly sinks away and I am enveloped in a sort of intense silence. But after a moment or two of still, almost breathless listening, the silence begins to press hard around my head, against my ears, and even though I am breathless and the air seems pregnant with untold secrets, nothing interesting happens. I once read about knowing oneself through all of one's senses, so I decide that as my ears are not doing the trick, I will try out my nose. There is a smell of freshly laundered linens and a faint, spicy sweetness lingering in the air around the apple cinnamon holiday candle on the dresser, but neither really speaks to me of anything beyond clean laundry and stale remnants of holiday spirit. Taste? Sweetly sour orange chicken and rice, with a slightly even more sour twinge of disappointment in the new Chinese takeout place down at the corner. Touch: just the smooth keys of my laptop computer. And sight? So much to see: a grove of trees in the distance; the occasional car on a slick, shiny road; rain-battered leaves stuck in dampened heaps on my porch-- they have this trapped, desperate look of yearning, as if they want to float away on the wind rushing by, but are weighed down, too heavy. On the thin branch outside my bedroom window, the dripping pine needles glimmer like beaded light, and are heavy with rain droplets that fall to the ground-- plip-plop-plip-plop. So many things to see, and so many of them beautiful, but in the end they are simply sights, nothing beyond, nothing telling me anything, and I continue to be restless in the still restlessness of the afternoon.
An idea comes to me-- an old, childish trick I used to think would help me tap into a sixth sense (some sort of ESP!) if only I could master it-- and I close my eyes and try to block it all out, all the senses, maybe that is the key. I imagine blackness, but thoughts and sights keep creeping in, just as they always did. I shove them further back and concentrate; suddenly there is the blackest blackness I have ever imagined and it is pressing on me and whispering and I hold my breath and I can almost... understand... the... words....
But when the phone rings suddenly, shrill, louder than usual, insistent, I open my eyes and I am back in my quiet, still bedroom, with the faint smell of laundry detergent and apple cinnamon still in the air, staring out at a wet, windy day. I look at the clock and realize it is time to pick up the kids from school, so I hurry to find my shoes and keys with the hope of making it to the school on time for once; the restless weight on my heart is still heavy, but not unbearably so. Clasping my keys, I pause, leaning my head against the windowpane and staring blankly into the gray afternoon; I tell myself, I am a tempest inside a stillness inside a tempest. I pull myself away from the window and walk away, shake it all off, until Fun Cat and Happy Momma are showing and I find comfort in the knowledge that next week-- same time, same place-- I will have another chance to be alone, to investigate the storm inside, to know myself.
And for now, that is enough.
Okay! Who else knew about this?! Huh?! HUH?!
No one tells me ANYTHING.
Wow. I am not sure if this has ever happened before and quite frankly I am a bit frightened. Seriously. A teensy bit scared over here. The apocalypse, it is imminent, my friends. Or at the very least, hell should be freezing over momentarily. Fact is... oooooh, dare I utter the words aloud? Will I be jinxing myself to a lifetime of frustratingly irresolute resolutions with this one earth-shattering revelation? Will I?! Huh?! I NEED TO KNOW. GOSH! Okay fine, rebel that I am, I am going to totally chance it. Fact is... I actually stuck to my 2005 New Year's resolutions.
I KNOW, right?! How is that even POSSIBLE?! Right? Right?! But check it, yo: Me = Happy? Check. Kids and hubby = happy? Check, check. Lose some poundage doing the Tae Bo or something? Let's just say I went above and beyond, mm'kay, and can I hear a big "Hell, yeah! CH-CH-CHECK!"?
I mean, lookit! There they are in black and white, all right and tight and formal and official-like and whatnot! And I stuck to 'em, by golly! Stuck to 'em GOOD. Well, okay, with the exception of #4, as sadly I continued to obsess about Joan and Adam's love life, but Barbara Hall did indeed TOTALLY jump the shark (in the process of said shark-jumping committing a grossly negligent act of character assassination, I might add) and Joan of Arcadia was subsequently cancelled, so my obsession was justified, you see? Do you? But as it was cancelled midyear, I did in point of fact TECHNICALLY stop obsessing over Joan and Adam's love life by the END of the year. Eh? Eh?! Take that, 2005 New Year's resolutions! Cat = WINNAH!
Seriously. There is definitely much to be said for a little something I like to call Lowering the Bar. No more "Remember to wash the sheets once a month, whether they need it or not!" or "Refrain from calling TGIM 'Dorkus' in the vicinity of... people!" or "Watch less television!" or "Say 'yo' and 'totally' and 'biznitch' less often!' or DIFFICULT resolutions like those! No sir! Keep 'em simple, I say. That way? Victory will be mine. Oh, yes. It WILL be mine.
Naturally, I am feeling extraordinarily proud and self-righteous right now. I am pretty unbearable to be around, actually. I will probably have to throw myself a little party. With balloons. And donuts. Definitely donuts. And a nice cake, perhaps, with the words, "Way to GO, Cat! You Rock SOLID!" in large, pink, fancifully curved lettering across the top.
Further, I have decided to craft my 2006 New Year's resolutions strikingly similar in appearance to last year's, you know, with the hope of puffing up myself further in my own esteem? So here goes the 2006 New Year's resolutions thingy:
In 2006 I will...
#1 Be happy.
#2 Make sure my husband and kiddos are happy.
#3 Train for and compete in a 10K. I am so not kidding.
#4 Finish my novel (and by "finish," I mean "type the words 'The End' wherever I am in the story at 11:59 PM on December 31, 2006")
#5 Stop obsessing about Veronica and Logan's love life, and, um, whether or not I will be seeing Logan shirtless or pantless again, but this time in the same vicinity as Veronica, who should also be shirtless or pantless (whichever, I'm not picky), and whether or not UPN bigwigs will go out of their frickin' minds and totally cancel this show.
Except, I am totally just kidding about #5 because come on... attempt to be realistic much? And of course you will notice I did NOT mention a thing about obsessing over American Idol. Because again with the realistic goal-setting thing. Why set myself up for failure? Duh! But #1 - 4? I'm all over 'em!
Bring it on, 2006. Oh, yes. Bring it freaking ON.
Currently thoughtfully contemplating how best to challenge and better myself in the coming year so I can be a valuable, more productive member of my family and society.
New Year's Resolutions TBA.
Right after I finish watching all 140 harrowing and richly drawn hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer-- The Chosen Collection (Seasons 1 - 7), that is. Duh.