Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the joys of picture day...

How is it that one day I'm wearing flip-flops, shorts and a tee and the next I'm scrambling to find the hats, gloves and scarfs that I packed away last spring?

Welcome to Cleveland.

Today outside of waking up to a complete reversal in climate change, there was a little added glitch into the morning routine. Add to that the gale winds and rain, and I've had a just delightful morning...

Instead of my daughter waking and donning her uniform, she was to get 'dressed up'. Today, you see, is a big day. Today is no ordinary school day.

Today, is picture day.

Now, my daughter has been photographed. Alot. I normally have some sort of camera, motion or still, with me at all times. So we've boxes upon boxes of excellent photos of her doing just about everything you can imagine. I also have a close friend who is a professional photographer, so add all those photos to the collection as well.

So picture day? When they quickly snap a photo of your child in front of the obscure 'waterfall' background? It's really not a big deal.

At least to me.

In my daughters book? It's a big deal.

I filled out the obligatory forms to allow her to participate, full well knowing that we probably aren't going to be prominently displaying this photograph in the home. But she will have all those wallet size photos to share with her classmates. If I think back, it was probably a big day for me as well when I was 10.

Fact is, my mother kept most of my school photos. All the ones where I tried to cut my own hair just the night before. I gave my mom warning, she just didn't know how much I wanted my bangs cut. She did try to hide the damage, but it's pretty obvious. Baby bangs weren't the rage then. Or the one where I got into a scuffle with Tom Zander who lived across the street at the bus stop prior to school. That one shows a torn and tattered peter pan collar on my pressed dress. I believe he was teasing me because of said peter pan collared pressed dress, if my memory serves correctly. And then there is my favorite...nothing like making breakfast for yourself right before school and showing up with grape juice stained mouth. I look like a grinning purple clown.

With those memories firmly implanted, there isn't going to be any of those school picture snafu's if I can help it.

She's right on that cusp of really caring about what she wears. To go over to a neighbors to play after school, I'll enter her room after she's left and find about 6 discarded shirts on the floor in front of her mirror. Personally, I don't see the difference between them...but apparently one makes a statement while the others don't.

I pick them up and put them back away. Only to go across the room and find 3 pairs of ballet flats. One made the cut, the other ones didn't. Granted, each pair is black. One patent, one suede and one a croc print. I'm obviously a firm believer in multiples. Ask anyone who knows me.

My daughter is also not a girlie-girl type of dresser. We love Old Navy and Gap. Even she likes black and gray tee-shirts. Last evening right before dinner she informed me that the capris and argyle tunic that she was planning on wearing "Just won't do!". I was a little disappointed since it would have been perfect, but she wanted a dress. Apparently her peers are wearing dresses. Argh, the beginnings of peer pressure...

I decided that maybe she was in need of an occasion dress, not the separates that she normally would don for a more dressed up affair. So we headed off to find her a 'dress'. The one she chose is very cute with polka dots, slight crinoline and a shrug sweater. Quite darling, but definitely a far cry from our norm. Add a pair of white gloves and she might be having high tea at the Ritz later.

But that's what she wanted, so that's what we got.

The mirror got a workout this morning. As did my patience.
"Not those black shoes, these shoes. Not that headband, this headband. Do I have to wear hose?"

You learn to pick your battles when dealing with children. She did agree with me on the headband and hosiery. She chose the shoes. But since they are mostly black or silver, those were a win/win for me. She just didn't know it.

But it's a horribly nasty day today in Cleveland. No sunshine. No outdoor photos before school. And it's raining. Hard. That beautifully pressed dress got crunched under a coat and the perfectly straightened hair got smushed under a hat.

"Wear the black coat, it's water proof."
"No I want to wear the green one."

"But it's wool. And it doesn't match your dress."

She wore the green one. Before I pushed the black I remembered, 'Pick your battles...It's not a big deal.'

And in my true optimistic form, in a way this rain is a blessing. The school will have indoor recess today. Otherwise I can only imagine what the dress would look like after recess outside.

Because my daughter may be presently dressed for the Ritz, but she's not a girlie-girl. I can guarantee you she would play at recess in her little frock like a football player on the field.

"Crinoline interference!" the ref would call.

Bah. That's not going to hold her back.
I'll pick her up at 3. I wonder how her hose are going to fair today. Or even the dress.

Thank God for the dry cleaners.
I'm sure we're going to need it.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

pass it forward...

I've always been an optimist.

I've been told that I must have been born with rose colored glasses.
It's just the way I am.

Sure, there are times when life doesn't necessarily go quite my way, or at least the way I thought they should go. But I find I have the innate ability to look at whatever obstacle in my path from a uniquely different perspective. It entirely changes the view. And sometimes, just sometimes that view is actually better than the one I would have initially chosen for myself.

So when things happen to me, good or bad, I take it in stride.

I don't wig out too much. At least I try not to. Because I know that at any moment the tide may change. As will the panorama in front of me. So I wait.

If it's good, well, that's pretty easy. I continue on my way expressing gratitude and spreading good cheer. If it's something bad, that's different. The way that I deal is by withdrawing. I lick my wounds, tweak my perception and then reemerge a 'whole' being once more. There have been some events in my life that have set me back and made me ask the big questions. The 'where am I and what am I doing here' big question. The 'why me' big question. Or the biggie, 'what the f*ck' question.

I think most of us have faced that same dilemma at one time or another.

Thankfully, I can count the really horrendous happenings on one hand. I consider myself quite fortunate.

But there have also been times when I felt that my darling rose colored glasses had impeded my view. That they failed me by not allowing me clear vision. That my view was so altered and skewed that I failed to see the real truth. Thus preventing my brain the information needed to make the correct decision.

There have been instances when my rose colored glasses have been so trodden on and cracked that I thought they couldn't be placed on my face again. That perhaps I might not view my world as a rosy, warm fuzzy bubble again. I was Humpty Dumpty.

But then my optimism kicks in.
And I look around.

Miraculously, I am able to wipe those trampled bad boys off and find they fit as good as new.

I've been told by a spiritualist in the past that my soul is in its 'dharma'. The last phase of karma. They asked me, "Do good things happen to you?"
"Why yes, all the time."

I had a woman approach me in a store and told me I had a beautiful aura. That it was, "orange. With a hint of yellow." I had no idea what she was talking about, but I thanked her...and proceeded to walk away. Quickly. It wasn't until I got home and did an Internet search about auras and their meanings that she was giving me quite a compliment. Who knew?

I don't know how or why these things happen to me, but I'm not going to question it. I'm actually afraid to question it. I'm frightened that if I do, it may change. Drastically. When I start to stress, somehow relief is just within sight. It's crazy. But it's true.

Like I said, I'm quite fortunate.

Oh, my patience gets repeatedly tried. But in the big picture of things, it's not a huge deal. For instance, the lines that I found myself in time and time again the other day. In retrospect it was wonderfully hysterical. There was a purpose for the lines beyond my comprehension. I believe I was stuck there so I could witness and make mental notes of the bizarre dance we do in cues. Had I not had the experience, I wouldn't have the fodder to make my last blog post. Do you realize that posting had the most comments of any I've written thus far? Do you know why?

Because we've all been there...

We have all had the frustration of experiencing idiocy no matter where we live. It happens everywhere. It's like we share a collective memory.

It's possible I might have flipped out in that situation, because it hindered my immediate future. It was out of my control. It wasn't what I had planned. And yet, if you step away for a moment, it was just a few minutes of my time. And it was pretty damn funny. Surreal almost. So it's all in how you choose to look at it. It's all in our perception.

One of the comments read, "Wow. You must have bad karma."

In that moment, I did. But having the ability to twist it into your favor, that, I would say, is good karma.

I have a 'pass it forward' mentality. A 'do unto others as you'd have them do unto you' way about me. It's about plugging into the positive energy of the universe. About faith and believing in the good that surrounds us.

Have you ever noticed that if you feel confident, good things happen? That your positive energy actually begets positive energy. I like to smile at people I pass. Sometimes they just pass without noticing, sometimes they smile back, sometimes they are so pissed off at the universe they practically growl at me. But I still do it.

It's fun.

And who knows. It may ultimately create enough of a ripple effect to change the world. I like to think perhaps they might then smile at someone else during the day. And so on, and so on, and so on. Soon everyone will be smiling. We would all benefit from the excess positive energy to draw from.

Yesterday I traveled two hours to my dads house. You might know that my mother passed away just two months ago. There is paperwork that needs to be signed, articles to be riffled through, sorted and packed away or discarded.

It's hard to do.
I don't like to do it. So I procrastinate.

I should go see my dad more often. But I feel a burden of responsibility when I do, and it weighs heavy on my shoulders. My brother called and said, "Dad said there's some important papers you need to sign. It's holding things up. Dad says it's urgent."

I didn't think it was 'urgent' and I had a full day planned. I had things that I needed to do and accomplish. I didn't have the time to run over and neglect my own work. But I went anyway. Turns out it really wasn't urgent after all. But guess what...?

We had a great day.

My initial outlook was altered. What was given me was grand.

Little things like this change my attitude and perspective. It's a minor tweak, but it's a good one. One I should practice daily. It's a good lesson.

So today as the sun is starting to rise, I wonder what my day my hold in store for me. I know what I'd like, but it may not turn out that way. But it's how I will approach the then obstacle that may turn out to be quite cool.

You just never know. Whatever happens to me today, you'll probably read about here tomorrow.

Life is funny like that...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

you have got to be kidding...

Not again.
You have got to be kidding me.

There I was. Standing in line.

For some odd reason I always tend to subconsciously pick the one line that moves the slowest and/or has the slowest cashier. And it never fails that a problem arises with the customer ahead of me.

I have found from experience that there tends to be a few typical, repeated scenarios.

1. "There must be a problem with your register."

Can I tell you how many times this has happened?! If I do, I'll have to take off my shoes to count that high. Getting in line behind someone whose credit/debit card doesn't work. And they insist that it is 'all the stores fault'.

The cashier rang this ladies items and gave her the total. We aren't just talking a soda and bag of chips. This was a full two shopping carts full of goodies. The customer wrote out a paper check (people still do this?) and the register wouldn't give it the okey-dokey. The customer loudly insisted that her check was good. Each time repeating the same thing, a little louder with a few more expletives. Her check obviously wasn't good. It wouldn't clear. Those machines don't lie. If there was money in the account, it wasn't accessible.

The cashier was trying to be cool and be nice, "Do you have another form of payment?"

"Call a manager! #@*#@&! They'll override the register! They've done it before."

Yeah, before what? The digital age? Please, as if the manager is going to override the computer because it says you don't have enough money in your account. Pretty simple. It might have worked a decade ago to gyp the stores of their merchandise, but not in the digital age. She motored on out in her rider shopping cart with her walking cane in the front basket, spewing loud obscenities at everyone she passed the entire way. Once she reached the exit doors, she parked the cart and I wasn't surprised at all to see her walk without help of her cane out to her car. She was obviously trying to work the sympathy card. Geez.

2. "My son/daughter/husband/friend will be right back. They just went to get an item I forgot."

Okay. I've done this maybe once before. I can deal. But when son/daughter/husband/friend comes back...finally, with an arm full of things? That's taking advantage just a tad, don't cha think? Do your shopping completely before entering into the check out line. That's what the rest of us do.

3. "I don't have enough cash. Can I take a few items off?"

Allow me to repeat myself. Decide what you can get before you get into line! I can understand an item or two, but this is what I witnessed.

"How much is the shampoo? Okay, take that off. Oh not enough, take off the scarf too. Oh! I have more than that, add the shampoo back on. No, leave the shampoo off, take off the magazines and chewing gum and add the scarf back."

I'm standing there just dying inside thinking,"Why. Me."

4. "I forgot my wallet!"

Surprise! Hey, we've all been there. No biggie. But in this case, the cashier turned it into a situation that I could have lived without witnessing. She was so flabbergasted, she didn't know how to continue. She became consumed with ridding her station of the items left behind, she called each and every department to come get the items. Which, of course, took longer than when I gave birth.

5. "Price check!"

This happens to me each time I go shopping. If it isn't someone in front of me, then it is ME who inadvertantly picks up the only item in the store without a price tag, bar code or some sort of identification to allow it to go through the system. If it's me, then I ususally just ask them to not ring it. I know it will take longer for them to get the price than for me to exit the store, take what I have purchased out to my car, go back in the store, re-find said item and get back in line to pay. Today, the cashier insisted on trying to punch in every number that it "could possibly be". None worked. What a surprise.

I kept asking her to "Forgot it, really. It's okay."

"No no. I'll get it."

In this lifetime? Or the next. There are only about a billion number combinations it could be. I finally convinced her "...it's okay. Just hit the total button. I have to go......"

I'm sure there are tons of more situations that I didn't mention. And I'd love to hear your stories of checkout horrors...

But the saddest part? These all happened to me today.

Swear to God. All today.

And of course, I was in a hurry. Or at least I was when I started my quest to rid myself of my errands. I was trying to get everything done off my list before picking up my daughter from school. And each place I tried to check off my "ToDo" list, I kept running into these people.

After the last one, I just started to laugh. Loudly.
How could I not?!

The others in line turned to me with scowls thinking, "How rude." By that time I'm sure that my laugh had started to sound more like a cackle.

If they had been with me and witnessed all these things in line, today I might add, as I did?
Trust me. They would be cackling too.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mark Highton-Ridley fine art photography...

There is a very talented photographer in England whose blog, Musing in Monochrome, I have been following. His work is comprised of high contrast photographs of which I have a particular liking to his black and white images. His are the types of imagary that I enjoy immensely. They has fabulous form...I mean, this guy is good.

You can go here to Marks main site and view the gallery. Trust me, it's time well spent. You'll be glad you did, and thank me for sending you.

Recently his work has been featured on some BBC Devon sites and is starting to get some recognition. He has an exhibition on Plymouth-Intimate glimpses currently hanging at the Martin Bush Studio Gallery. I wish I could go and see them in person, but unfortunately, I live on the other side of the pond!
I've spent quite a bit of time perusing his entire gallery or works. It's hard to decide on a favorite since they are all so stunning. The photo posted here (bad quality when I enlarged the thumbnail, so sorry) is called 'Mindful of Storms'. It'll look quite lovely in my office.

As an added bonus while visiting Mark, he is having a monthly giveaway! You can WIN one of his signed photographs! I would suggest that you enter. I think everyone should own one of his pieces, including me! However, your entering this drawing will limit my chances of winning one of my favorite photos, so perhaps you shouldn't go here and do it.
Of course, you know enough about me by now to know that I'm just kidding...
Good luck and enjoy your visit! I just love his stuff.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed I'll win the drawing!
Congratulations Mark on your success!

Friday, September 18, 2009

j'adore sincere merde...

Okay. My friend, Indigo, over at Indigo Wrath gave me this lovely award. (isn't it neat?!)

When I first read it I thought it said the "Honest Crap Award" which would have been more fitting, but I sure to appreciate that fact that he thinks I'm worth reading, crap or no crap.

The award is to honor those who 'write from the heart'. That being said, "I thank you Indigo, from all my heart."

Indigo was one of my first followers when I started blogging. And surprisingly has stayed with me this entire adventure. Of that I am grateful. I am also grateful to have found a blogbud here in the blogosphere that I can consistently count on for good stories and quite a few laughs. You MUST, I repeat, MUST go a check him out. He's a gem.

Now for the nitty-gritty. I'm supposed to tell you 10 things about myself, that you don't know already. First, WHY you want to know these things, I wouldn't fathom to guess. But here it is. Remember I don't respond to black-mail attempts. :-)

1. I own 43 black t shirts. I own 51 white t's and 27 gray. I hang my t-shirts because I don't like to iron them if I don't have to. So I have a whole row in my dressing room comprised only of t-shirts. Sick, isn't it.

2. I wish I were 2 inches taller. And the full 2 inches I want added to my leg length like Ethan Hawke did in that movie Gattaca. Without the pain, thanks. It'd make my visits to the tailor less expensive. Plus then I'd be close to the same height as Chrissy, so I wouldn't feel like a little shit when we meet up for girls dinner night.

3. I love bread pudding. Except those versions with chocolate. Don't like that, at all.

4. I used to be a synchronized swimmer. I was the one holding her breath on the bottom of the pool, so my partner could do fancy things with her legs above the water line. Biatch.

5. I like big dogs. If you reach their backs to pet them while standing, they aren't dogs.

6. My dream vacation if to travel to Macu-Pichu. I want to hike up to it. I've been breaking in my hiking boots, just so I'm ready.

7. I hate needles. And yet, I was one week away from starting medical school. Hmmm. Odd, isn't it.

8. My brothers name is Charles. But he calls himself Chuck. Me, dad and my daughter are the only ones that call him Charles. My mother said "Chuck is a cut of beef." And I call him Charles's. Because growing up, everything was Charles's room, Charles's stereo, Charles's car...need I go on?

9. I used to have a bright green ski suit. With a bright orange zipper. And Dolimite green ski boots. I thought I was cool. I must have looked like a big bugger up there on those white slopes.

10. I want to buy a Vespa scooter with a side car. And wear old fashioned goggles.

Now, I am to pass this prestigious award onto 10 bloggers of note. There are many that I follow that deserve this. However, the ones listed below win the prize this time! I tried to give this to people that hadn't gotten this award in the past. However, I may have duplicated one of two. But I like the sound of double or nothing!

1. JennyMac @ Let's have a cocktail. She's cool, she's talented, she's got it all baby...AND a cocktail. Need I say more?

2. Daniel @ Street Art & Graffiti in TelAviv and me. He has some amazing photographs and wonderful poetry. Powerful stuff. And definitely from the heart.

3. Mean Stepmom @ You're not my Real Mom. She's got some stories! And these are good ones. Take yourself over to see what the deep south holds.

4. LadyTruth @ Happily After Ever. Fabulous stories, however some of the journeys there in South Africa can be heart wrenching. She's a doll. Just love her...

5. Heather Kathleen @ A Mouthy Irish Woman? Ridiculous. She's got wit and wisdom. Go figure. She's Irish!

6. The Squirrel Queen @ The Road to Here. She has some amazing photographs to share and inspirational quotes to compliment them. There isn't a morning that goes by that I don't stop in and bask in the moment.

7. M @ Equisitely Wasted. She recently lost her mother and some of her stories just wrench your heartstrings. I do like stopping by.

8. Anna @ Storm in a Wineglass. I love the look of her blog. Mine is all gray and dark contrast. Hers is exactly the opposite. Her posts are so open that sometimes I feel a bit voyeuristic on her life. And I like it. :-)

9. Kathryn @ From the Inside...Out. She's a newbie to the blogger world and deserves more traffic than she has. I have the honor of being one of her first followers, so I have a mama bird responsibility for her as well!

10. Matthew @ AbodeOneThree. Extremely talented writer, great story teller and now, good friend from across the pond. He's just a wonderful human. I stumbled across him months ago by accident and now ever so glad I did.

Well that was hard, and yet easy at the same time. My life is a dichotomy, so why shouldn't an award list be as well!


And then, just as I thought I had this award page completed, I got a comment from a new blog friend Lily @ Tapdancing in the Dark, whom I have recently started to stalk. She gave me this fabulous little ditty! I had to dust off an old French textbook to make sure what it meant, not that it mattered with the cheeky sexy gaze.

The rules for this is slightly easier. I must pass this french beauty onto 2 deserving blogs and tell you 10 things that I adore today.

First my list of adoration...
1. My daughter. Every morning when I wake her up, her little arms come up and round my neck and she tells me, "I love you Mommy." Everyday my heart breaks as I see her grow and everyday she puts it back together, again.

2. My new foundation by Make Up Forever. It's HD, who knew they made High Definition makeup? But it makes my skin look flawless. So damn worth the money.

3. The quiet house to myself last night. Pin drop? Yup. I can hear it. No one else was home! Awesome!

4. My catch-up girls night out dinner with Chrissy. She just lies on the other side of town, but jeez, you'd think she lived in another state by how infrequently we actually DO this.

5. My newly refurbished master bedroom and dressing room. Oh, and the new sheets that I had to buy to match the new wall color. Very cool. THAT project was a long time in the making...

6. My bloggy buds. I get some of the nicest e-mails and comments from these people. Who would have thought that this big internet world we live in I would find such wonderful people?! Awesome.

7. The book I'm reading. It's actually an older book, but I'm re-reading the series because a new volume is coming out next week...I want to be ready. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Each book is 900+ pages of fabulousness. This will be the 7th in the series. I've been waiting!!!

8. My morning coffee. Without it, what would I do! My afternoon RedBull. Without it, what would I do! My evening glass of wine. Without it, what would I do! I think I see a trend here....

9. The sound of the cicadas in the evening.

10. The sound of my neighbor dragging their trash can to the curb at 5am. Oh sorry, that's not on the list of things I ADORE. Take the damn thing out the night before! Geez...morons.
(jump back to stage 3 of #8.)

And the two deserving individuals to get this lovely award are (drum roll, please)

Ron @ Vent for his wit, and charm, and love of black turtlenecks. We are brotha & sista from a different motha...I'm sure of it. There just isn't any DNA to prove it, yet.

Chrissy @ I Shoulda Been a Stripper because I know she doesn't have this one and if she knew I had it and she didn't, well...we don't want that happening, now do we...

So thank you, thank you, thank you. I love adding these lovely pieces of art to my sidebar. It makes me feel all special!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

celebration in leather...

I'm a happy camper today.

I have a portfolio.
A stock portfolio to be exact.

I was one of those smart people that didn't panic when the market started to crash. I didn't cash in and sell it all off.

I hung around. I knew that it would bounce back. I didn't lock in a loss. I was patient. I had perseverance.

I even bought more stock when it was low. That's how sure I was.

Which is pretty damn cool since I am watched the Apple stock I bought six months ago at $80.24 a share just rocket up to $180.34 a share (as I type) this afternoon.

Mama is buying herself a new pair of shoes!
I shouldn't.
I already own too many, but I feel like celebrating.

I'm no financial wizard, but some things just make sense. Bernie Maddoff? That didn't make sense. No one can deliver profits long term like that. That goes under the adage of "If it's too good to be true, it usually isn't." Apple stock dropping below $100? That doesn't make sense either, at least within the last few years...but neither does bailing out AIG or having the government taking over General Motors? We won't even get started on what I think about the health care issue...for now.

So following through with something that does feel right, and then actually works. And works to your benefit, it's quite rewarding. And this time, on more levels than just one.

Accompanying my interest in following the stock market and it's behaviour, I have also found a new pastime. One that usurps time more than even writing or reading blogs...
I read a blog this morning where the author posted the television schedule that she likes for the fall and is planning to watch in the months to come. I read it and thought, "That's a pretty good line-up." But I could never watch that much television.

Why, you might ask?

Because I'm too addicted to watching real time the positions of my watch list and holdings...

I know. It's an odd addiction. But it IS addicting. TD Ameritrade has a streaming tool that you can load and use to watch your portfolio. I have literally wasted whole days watching the trade trends, the current bid and ask prices. Watching the graphs of the trading volume and my stock values and it hopefully is raising rather than falling. From 9:30 until 4:00 it is hard for me to pull away from looking at the screen.

Flashing red (which denotes a sale), green (which denotes a buy) and yellow periodically in either the high or low category. Red, green, green, red, green, red, yellow! Watching the net earnings change when in green (positive) is always a good thing.

Hey! It's now yellow! In the high column! $181.60! See. In that short period from my typing the very first sentence of this post, it just went up...again!

My dad has always invested in the stock market. At least as long as I can remember. Growing up, when other families were watching programs together on the television, we didn't. My dad would be sitting there taking notes on the financial channels watching the ticker tape that ran across the bottom of the screen. He would 'shush' us if talking and close the door to the kitchen if loading the dishwasher after dinner was disturbing his concentration. My mother, brother or I didn't necessarily find looking at the numbers pass quite as entertainment, and would drift off finding other things to occupy our time. Finally we bought a second TV so the whole family would be happy.

Over the years my dad has developed his own rather complicated theory on how to decide what stocks are good investments. He does it by giving them a grade value through researching several resources for information. By plugging this information into his equation; Bam!, it'll let him know whether it's a buy, sell, short sell, or long term hold.

Sound easy? It's really not.
Trust me. He's given me the equation. It's quite complicated. But it works, but it's not easy.

I think my dad always wished I had more interest in the stock market. He secretly wished I'd been a stockbroker. I'd be lying if I said that he wasn't disappointed that I didn't choose that as a career. Perhaps it was because he knew I had the persistence and knowledge to see slight market inclinations or because he thought he could get his trading done at a discount. But he is glad that I have a healthy interest in it today. It's an interesting phenomena; to sit at the kitchen table with my dad and jaw over what the market is doing.

Just Monday he was talking about Apple stock. How it's been pretty volatile. Jumping from a high of $205 to a low of $80 when Steve Jobs was sick. All within the last couple of years. He knew that I held some in my portfolio but wasn't sure how many shares I had. I told him that I had bought a substantial amount when it was at it's lowest point. The look that he gave me was the closest to admiration that I think I have ever in my life witnessed from him.

The look in his eyes seemed more genuine than when he looked at me on my commencement from High School or College. Greater than the gaze on my wedding day. More sincere than even when he beheld his first (and only) grandchild after I gave birth to my daughter.

There was an understanding. That now, finally, he's accepted me as a competent adult.

I'll take this brief moment of pure acceptance from him. I'll treasure it. Who knows when, or if, I'll see it again. I will continue to usurp my valuable time and watch my positions list online. Who knows. I may have to buy yet another monitor so I can do the research on one, watch the list on another and of course, I need one for the blogging. I already have two, so what is one more to add to my desk.

My dad once told me, "Time is your most valuable commodity." I think he would approve of my time spent watching these screens.

Wow. AAPL just jumped up another point.
$182.75! That's the highest it's been since '07. I'm going to start counting some chickens.
Or my eggs in the basket.

You know what? Forget the chickens and the eggs, maybe I'll just buy two pairs of shoes...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the 24 hour woman, give me a break...

My daughter has the privilege of going to a private school.

This has been great in so many different ways. It's a uniform school which makes the morning routine oh-so-much easier. The very close proximity to our home which cuts our travel time down next to nothing. AND the added benefit of having an excellent teaching and office staff make it well worth the tuition paid.

I DO however have one itsy-bitsy
gripe about it.

Every weekday morning when taking my daughter to school there are those times when you are forced to encounter and interact with those 'privileged' moms.

Alas, I am not one of them, but many of you might know of whom I speak. You perhaps even know a few. Or in the case that you are one and reading this...then remember, this is all in fun. Really, it is.

They are the moms that show up in the mornings hair perfectly coiffed wearing matching designer workout gear. They stand casually chatting amongst themselves before the doors open for the children to enter the building. Their already skinny little asses all set to go to the gym for the next 4 hours.

They are the same moms that I dread running into later in the day. They've ditched the gym duds for stilettos and capris, fresh from the hairdresser, manicurist or shopping/lunching with friends. The same moms this morning dropping off the little ones with a flurry of air kisses looking 'oh, so sheik' in the afternoon.

They are not the mom's like me, who show up in sweats or even pj's in their rush to get the kids to school on time. The mom's that barely have the chance to brush their teeth, let alone coif their hair. The mom's that don't make morning eye contact because they would prefer not to be seen right now, in this moment, when they know they are looking less than their best.

My morning routine can be hectic. I wake before anyone else in the house around 5:30 am. And I try, oh I try to get everything done in the household...for the household, before anyone else rises. Animals fed, lunches packed, coffee brewed, breakfasts made, daughter dressed and taken to school. Some days I have time for a shower and get dressed before accomplishing this morning ritual and other days...um, yeah, not so much.

It seems it is always on those days I end up near the 'privileged' wives, trying hard to disappear or blend in. Or worse, making accidental eye contact and forced to converse...all the while trying to not mentally acknowledge that you are still wearing your pajama bottoms and the makeup you have on is from the day before because you failed to wash it off before you fell into bed exhausted.

Now, if you are one of these wives/moms of which I speak, I'm sure that it is not your intention to make the rest of us feel badly by comparison first thing in the morning. I'm sure that you realize not all of us have a nanny or spouse to help with the kids in the morning so we can be all fresh, showered and perky before school. For some of us, it is hard to juggle everything. Because that's what we as single mom's have to do...juggle everything.

I remember that commercial for a perfume in the late 70's.

"I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan. Any never never ever let you forget your a man...'cause I'm a woman. Enjoli." The 8 hour perfume for the 24 hour woman. At my tender impressionable age I thought that was IT. The get-all. Being a woman able to do it all; be it all. "I am woman, hear me roar!" sang Helen Reddy. That was the motto of all the girls my age growing up.

And so I did. I learned to do everything that Revlon urged me to do. Cook. Clean. Carpentry. Fix stuff. Build stuff. I hung out with my mom and learned all about home domestication from her. How to fix a meal; make sure it looked nice and finished cooking at the same time. I hung out with my dad and learned a keen sense of tools and their uses. What other 5 year old knew how to re-seat a toilet?

I've used all that I learned over the years what I thought was to my advantage. I have the same affection for power tools that I do All-Clad pans. I never was the damsel in distress. Why? I could do it myself, I didn't cross my mind to ask for assistance. But now, many years later after living this feminist ideal, I find that I would be nice to have someone else take care of lifes little details. I would like to have someone help me out for a change.

I'm tired of all the household responsibility. Of making sure all is taken care of for everyone else. I would like a break. A little down time. A little me time.

Whoever is responsible for the concept of the 24 hour woman should be hunted down. I need an extra 4 hours for the 24 hour woman that I have become. 2 for the gym, 1 for reading and 1 for napping to get me prepped for the next 24 hours. I've not enough energy to keep up. It's like my battery refuses take a full re-charge anymore.

Why did we, as women, buy into that? What possibly could be the upside to take ALL responsibility on our shoulders?

So when I see these little trophy wives whose job is to look good for their husbands, I get annoyed. Their bling-bling diamond wedding ring sets annoy me. The perfectly foiled blond highlights and their surgically enhanced features annoy me. Their skinny little asses while holding beautiful infants annoys me.

On further introspection, perhaps my subtle dislike for them stems from the little green goddess, queen of envy, that lives deep inside me. Strip it all away and I suppose I'm just jealous. I wish I had that determination to spend that much time at the gym. Or the motivation to wake up even earlier to 'get ready' in the morning. Or to have a ring on my left hand that seems sometimes conspicuously absent. Or perhaps it's just the whole trophy wife lifestyle that sets me off.

I lament that I may never have another partner to share my future with. That I'll never be the perky, perfect person that some of these other women are. That sometimes this (gesturing around me) is all there is. Or ever will be.

Me. The ultimate optimist...has hit a wall.

Should I start dressing up to pick up my daughter from school? Do I need to figure out when in my schedule, I too, can spend insane amounts of time at the gym so can look like a magazine mom? Or is it okay to just stay the way I am? So many questions. Seemingly so little time to find all the probable answers.

I've always considered myself to be somewhat presentable. My mother always told me that "You just never know who will stop by and when. Never get caught unprepared." Smart lady, my mom.

A friend recently was driving by and stopped to chat when I was out front mowing the lawn. She exclaimed, "Are you wearing lipstick? While mowing the lawn?"

"Well, yes, I am."

There is always the slight possibility that Johnny Depp could stop and ask directions. I want to be ready if he does. Opportunity knocks when you are least expecting it. Trust me, no one has ever dropped by when I'm dressed in Armani. It's only when I'm my sweats does that happen to me.

It's not fair to compare apples to oranges. However starting Monday, I will strive to wake up a half hour earlier. I will get myself ready before worrying about all the other responsibilities in the house. I cannot compete with the privileged mom's, but I've decided I will be my own trophy. I will approach drop off and pickup with pride for the single mom's. I don't need to spend 4 hours at the gym to mingle amongst them. But I will brush my teeth. And coif my hair. I won't be wearing my pajamas or sweats.

On Monday, I'll be ready. I've got 24 for hours of Sunday to prepare.
But first, I've got to bring home the bacon...

Because (donning my rose colored glasses) maybe, Mr. Depp would like to fry it up for me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

all these 'people'...

Labor Day weekend.

It used to mark the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. In our neck of the woods they have decided to start school before Labor Day, so my daughter has been in school for two weeks already.

I do give kudos to the school board for having the wherewithal to schedule an extended weekend coinciding with Labor Day. It was their way of keeping the parents from rioting. Or enrolling their children into another school in protest.

So when you are granted a four day weekend, what do you do?
Why, yes! Head out of town! For a nice, relaxing weekend in the mountains...

Several months ago (six to be exact) we took a little trip down to the Great Smokey Mountains. We had a wonderful time. I wrote about it. For a refresher (if you'd like) you can read it here. I remember writing in the guest book at the cabin that we wanted to return, we enjoyed it so.

I placed a call and amazingly we were able to book the same beautiful, secluded cabin. So we packed up and off we went.

What I didn't take into consideration is that the majority of people visiting the Smokey Mountains do it in the summer months. Okay, so a little extra traffic...no big deal. I have patience. I utilize it daily, so it's finely tuned. Or so I thought.

The road that leads to our secluded little mountain haven is just north of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is where Dollyworld is. And that little tourist gem is just north of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gateway to the Smokey Mountains...
...and home to one of the country's largest tourist traps.

Cute little city. I give it that. Multi-leveled shops, museums and money traps all along the street. Parking is a bear (no pun intended in referring to the plethora of black bear souvenirs one can buy), especially since I had the Thule carrier on top of the car. The height was greater than most of the parking garages, so I had to resort to other places to stash the car. I managed that without too much ado. I'm savvy like that. Unfortunately I am not a weather forecaster, so couldn't predict the mountain rain approaching. But for a mere $7.00 (which is $32.00 cheaper than when the rain hit us in Disney) I was able to procure us white trash bags sewn into a semblance of rain ponchos with 'Ripley's Aquarium' emblazoned all over them with different fish swimming lazily across our torsos.

We didn't mind too much. It was so much fun watching the people stuck on the Sky Lift without any rain protection. Nothing like moving at a snails pace up the side of a mountain in a chair lift up to 1800 ft. while it rains on you the entire time. Sure does sound like fun. Ah, no. Thank you.

Did you know that Gatlinburg houses over 35,000 people per night? And the city is only 2 miles, by 5 miles. Per their website they say that "The City of Gatlinburg has always provided excellent service for those who venture into our beautiful community."...

Such as: No traffic control.

There are traffic lights.
But what good does a traffic light do when no one obeys them?

The impatient souls who have to make it through this light, damn it, and then proceed to block traffic coming from the other way, the opposite way, and the way they are going? It's like a big Cluster F*ck. No one moving in any direction.

And then the horns start to blow....
But what's a little traffic jam when you are having so much fun. We dealt with it and then made our turn off into our mountain trail that led to our secluded cabin 1923 ft. up Cove Mountain. There...we had peace. And quiet.

Until we set off our fireworks...

Which I'm sure scared off anything wandering about on the mountain. No BigFoot sightings, and no creature sightings during the full moon. Unless you count the baby scorpion we found in the sink one morning. That freaked us out. Like a Vincent Price horror movie type freak out. Like check your shoes and bed each night and be careful where you step in the dark where are my Goddamned flipflops kind of freak out.
But that's whole 'nuther story...

The worst of the traffic we experienced was on the way out of town on Labor Day.
With a full eight hour drive ahead of us, we packed up and got a relatively early start. So did everyone else with a ten mile radius of the Smokeys.

I should've been alerted when approaching the first of three turnoffs. The line of cars was over two miles backed up before the stoplight.

But I was patient. I figured we were on a feeder road with only one turn lane, so of course it might be a little backed up. When we got closer and I saw the condition of the main drag I was disheartened by the sight. For miles in each direction there was bumper to bumper traffic. And none of it seemingly going anywhere.

No police to direct.
No volunteer fireman to help out.
Not a single city worker in sight to help with the mess.

One would think if you ran a city that drew it that many visitors a year, AND advertised it. AND spoke about what excellent services they had. AND that it was a holiday weekend...that they would have every single resident in the city out with vests on directing traffic.

Makes perfect sense to me. They do it when my town has festivals. It's what brings people back...because getting in and out is seamless.

But again, remember I'm an optimist. I figured the traffic can't be that bad. It couldn't be that bad. I wouldn't allow it to be that bad.

However after being a good Samaritan from Ohio and allowing people to pull into my lane, cut me off, block me out of the intersection for several lights in a row...I started to lose my temper.
Go figure.

I was in a Jeep Commander; bigger than some cars...yet smaller than some of the Beasty trucks down there in Tennessee. There was this one guy in a big ass pick up. You know, the kind with four wheels across the back? Pulling a trailer camper that was the length of two more of the huge truck he was driving. He stopped right in the middle of the intersection. And blocked six lanes of traffic for five traffic light turns. Nice. (well done asshole...)

Bronze Chevrolet 2500 pickup. Diesel. Licence plate number A06 BA4, Kentucky.
Just in case you know him, please give him my regards.

You can't miss me. I will be the one waving profusely at him with just a portion of my God given digits. Specifically the middle finger on both hands...

I like silver linings. I like to look at the bright side. It could have been worse.
I could still be there stuck in traffic. 2.2 miles in just under three hours. A test to the patience and braking system on your car. But there was another nine miles just to get to the highway.

I'm glad I purchased a few extra options on my car when I bought it. Like my friend, Matilda, the onboard computer. She was a huge help. I couldn't take sitting there a moment longer and took my destiny into my own hands.

"Hold on girls!" I called to the third row of seats.

The girls were minding their time watching a movie and playing on the Nintendo's. I suppose I could be stuck there still and they wouldn't have noticed. I made a sharp left turn out of the line of traffic and punched the Hemi into full gear as I burst across oncoming traffic into a parking lot.

I blasted through that Wal-Mart lot, behind a few fast food stores, over a grassy median and around a shed and hoped to God Matilda would route me home.

She did.

But not without complaint. She wasn't happy about me taking my own route. She never is. She kept telling me to "Make a U-turn at the next opportunity...."

"Oh, hell no, Matilda. I'm moving. I ain't sitting still...no more." I screamed at my dashboard.

And she did.
She found me another way. Which actually, I think, was a better route...more direct, than the original! See how things work out?

If only I could get those three hours back.
I'd have me a big ol' cocktail at the nearest pub/bar-b-q/moccasin and firework dealer down there on the strip. Charge it off to Mr. Who-gives-a rats-ass from Kentucky.

Amazing how the some of the tourist south cities bring out the inner redneck in all of us.

Next time I won't be so Ohioan polite whilst in traffic.
And be a little more Tennessee tourist aggressive.

Plus, I'm going in off peak season.
I like the solitude.
It's better for my neck. "Cause a little redneck goes a long way...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

hurts so good...

That's all I can say.

"Why" you ask?

I just got home from a massage.

Now before you pass judgement and say "Oh, the poor girl, she had a massage...bitatch". This wasn't one of those easy-peasy massages you get while vacationing at Cabo. Where the gentle breeze is blowing the airy curtains of your cabana with the sound of the ocean as a backdrop for your rubdown. Not the frou-frou umbrella coconut drink waiting for you when it's finished kind of massage.

No. This was one of those therapeutic, deep tissue muscle massages where you want to ask her to "STOP, for the love of God" kind of massage. Where for a moment you think about asking for your handbag so you can bite down on in order to keep you from screaming aloud kind of massage.

I've been experiencing some lower back pain. It came all of a sudden. Sharp bursts of pain for no apparent reason. I didn't do anything differently than the normal routine. No extra exercise (bad me), no extra lifting of items, no change of mattresses or pillows...all normal everyday routine. And then BAM! Sharp back pain. Very sharp back pain.

Debilitating pain.

Pain severe enough that I didn't want to do anything. It was hard to move. It hurt to move. I was afraid it might get aggravated and cause me more discomfort, if that was at all possible.

So, I called Lakewood Masotherapy. I've been there before...many times. Sometimes I went for relaxation. Other times I went for specific problems. But I'd never in all the times going have had Julie as my technician.

Julie is awesome. All of 100 pounds of fit, trim and very nice 60 year old Julie. Upon meeting her I thought, "This isn't going to be a very good, strong massage."

I was SOOOO wrong.

That little woman got into areas of my muscular structure that I didn't know you could get to without surgery. Amazingly, it turns out it wasn't my back at all that was causing the problem. It was my glutes up through my hips that was the culprit in causing the severity of my discomfort. Apparently that creates the band of pain across your lower back. Who knew?

The massage Julie gave was so intense.

Normally...you are so relaxed at the end of your treatment that they have to wake you when it's all over. At some point you just slip off to la-la land to where the whales you've been listening to are mating. The technician whispers to you, "Take your time..." which translates into "Your time is up. Get your ass off my table so I can get another client in here stat." Normally...you spend the next few minutes trying to scrape the dried drool off your cheek.

There wasn't anything normal about today's treatment. Today the after affects were not quite normal, for me. There were a few common threads of body after shock, although this time there was no drool. There was no total relaxation. No thought of "why does this have to end". There was the relief of it being over.
You find that you can now unclench your hands which have instinctively turned into claws; fingers splayed out gripping onto the terry in an attempt to hold onto...something. The knowledge that perhaps you didn't scream out loud after all. The satisfaction that you made it.
But after any massage when you come out of the room, trying to speak coherently is impossible. At least for me. All those nasty toxins released into your system bouncing around and creating havoc with the semblance of sanity that you are desperately trying to retain. The deep muscle massage makes you sound and act like you've just downed two large glasses of wine in a 2 minute period.

"Have you been drinking ma'am" the officer will ask.
"Why no, I just had a massage."

Uh. Yeah.

It'd be just like that 'Driving Under the Influence' commercial they've been airing on television. You know the one, where the guy opens his window for the police and beer or red wine comes spilling out everywhere. For me, there would be masseurs with their handy-dandy massage oil bottles clipped on their hips exiting the car...

"Drink lots of water today!" Bright and cheery Miss Julie said, "You might be sore later."

No Shit, Sherlock.

I presently feel good. But the 'it hurts so bad' kind of good. Like I just worked out for the first time in twelve years kind of good. Like the somebody please kill me kind of good.

I'm so damn sore right now that to sit upright in a posture perfect position whilst typing this, I may just die...sore. My shoulders ache. My neck cracks when I move my head from side to side. My hips are killing me. I can visualize little thumb print bruises lining both sides of my spine starting to show.

But the upside is there is no more back pain. Miss Julie took care of that.

I would like to have those glasses of wine now. Maybe they would help take the edge off the "you might be a little sore" pain.
And because it hurts so good...?
I made another appointment for next Wednesday.

God help me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

what a pleasant surprise...

I awoke this morning as I normally do.

Let out the dogs, put on coffee, fed the cats, fed the dogs, take out the recyclables (trash day today), pack a lunch for my daughter, fed the pond fish, check on the hamsters, fed the beta fish, set out her school clothes, get dressed, get HER dressed, take her to school, make more coffee, grab a breakfast bar, turn on the computer and check my e-mail.

I KNOW! Makes you tired just reading it! And that is all before 7:45am.

This morning when I got to the last component of my morning routine, I had a little surprise.

Not one, but two e-mails from some friends in the blogshere that have deemed me worthy of prizes. How fun for me! I feel like dancing around my house naked! (Not really, I put that in to make Carlos blush.)
The other day when I was reading through all the new posts from the blogs that I follow, I noticed these fabulous pair of slippers from across the pond. Sarah @ sas magical mystery tour granted me a badge with the aforementioned coveted slippers. Aren't they marvelous?

You must do yourself a favor and go check her out. But fair warning: Please, put your coffee down BEFORE you open her page. I've snorted hot coffee through my nostrils a few too many times when seeing her posts. Don't say I didn't warn you...


AND then my new friend over at With Eyes Wide Open sent me this lovely little award as well! Isn't she sweet?! Although I'm not sure about her take on me...she finds me witty, insightful and thought provoking. Wow. Cool.

("thank you, thank you, thank you"....gesturing wildly and blowing kisses to the masses)

The rules of this award are pretty simple. I must list Five Obsessions and share the love with five other blogs.

The Blogs are easy. There are so many that I've found recently that I find Fabulous but here are the ones at the present top of my list.

Lola at FEVER is perhaps one of the first blogs that I hit on a daily basis. If she hasn't posted something new that day, I read the old one...they are that good. Pretty heavy stuff at times that she's gotten some hater comments on, but she's real. She's really quite awesome. If she lived in my same city, I'd stalk her...

THAP - To Have a Parsnip is the full title. Talented, Clever, Witty, Off the wall. You gotta check out a past post of Hitler's Match.com dating page. Irreverent and I love it.

Rae over at Weather Vane has a sharp wit. I look forward to seeing what's on her mind.

Please also visit Maureen at Island Roar. She is perhaps one of the best writers I've come across recently. She always impresses me. I wish we were sisters from different mothers...

And then there is Ron at Vent. I've been a lurker on his site for a time. Always funny. Great sense of humor AND style. We have a Vampire connection with our love of black clothes. Yeah, baby.

The five Obsessions were a little harder to come by. At least the ones suitable for posting. ;-)

Black Turtlenecks: I have a thing for black turtlenecks. That's the best part of fall and winter...cashmere. If I could wear them year round I would.

Original Abstract art: I like abstract oil paintings. My home is filled with them. I even brought some paintings home from my last beach vacation to the Dominican Republic. Not those ones you see everywhere...somehow I found the one artist that did original work, so I bought two. They are now prominently displayed at home. And they're fantastic.

Red Bull: I know. I gave up drinking soda, and drink less coffee now than I used to. And I'm sure that in about 5 years I'll read how drinking Red Bull creates havoc with your body and will cause cancer and make your hair fall out, your ass drop and your eyes blind. But right now I love it. Somehow it virtually adds the extra 3 hours I need each day. It's either a Red Bull or a nap, and I don't have time to nap.

Blogging and reading blogs: I have two computers on at all times. Each computer has at least 3 tabs open. I spend a couple hours a day getting my reading fix each day from some of the fabulous blogs that I've found out there. I love to read, but haven't completed any books recently because of the blogosphere. Very cool. Thanks to Chrissy for turning me onto what has become my recent obsession!

And last, my daughter: SHE is the reason that each day is a worthwhile cause. I can't imagine my life without her. Just writing this now makes me cry with joy and love and gratitude for her existence. I love you, BooBear!

So there you have it. More information about me that you really didn't want to know! Have a great day! Happy September!