Wednesday, August 31, 2005

DoN Practices Dime-Store Psychology on Herself

I used to think of myself as a pretty self-actualized person, regardless of whose interpretation you use, Rogers' or Maslow's. (You can find a pretty good definition of both of them here . )
Then I had that rare moment of clarity when it all came into perspective for me.

I still suck in my stomach around my husband.

After 24 years of marriage, 2 kids by natural childbirth, a knee surgery, and being ministered to after several hangovers (among other activitivies...), I still do it.

Diagnosis: nope, not self-actualized. Not yet.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

DoN-te's Inferno

I'm sitting in the waiting room at physical therapy, feeling exhausted after a busy day of teaching and feeling sorry for myself because I know that I've hit a wall in therapy and will not make any progress AGAIN. And I've sort of drifted into that danger zone of almost asleep sitting up but yet aware of my surroundings enough to not actually sleep and make noise or drool or anything.

And then the little girl next to me goes into full nutso-ballerina mode and starts pirouetting all over the teeny waiting room while her mother tries to be encouraging yet discouraging. In a foreign language (it sounded like Russian or Ukrainian). And very quietly. So the girl climbs into the chair next to me and begins to do barre exercises on the back of the chair and keeps hitting the venetian blinds behind us, causing a cascade of dust to fall on me. I look at my watch and think, "They'll call me in about 3 minutes. I can take it for 3 minutes."

And then the impossibly tall woman comes in and sits on the other side of me. She roots around in her tote bag and takes out some butterscotch hard candies and unwraps a few and puts them in her mouth. After she rattles them around in her mouth like dice in a Yahtzee cup for what seems like a geological epoch, she begins to crunch them up.

**Inside my head, I have rooted around in my pink Etienne Aigner bag for a hammer and a pair of pliers; I knock out the girl and the woman, then systematically remove all the woman's teeth.**

I look at my watch again. JK is late, I despair. I should have been called back already. At least, I console myself, it cannot get any worse. And then, I hear that the music being softly piped into the waiting area is now "The Pina Colada Song". I grit my teeth. Amazon Crunch Woman starts on some Werther's. Hyper Ballerina flings herself across the room again in a mad spin. I wait...because I know that if they don't call me in soon, the next song will be "Disco Duck" or "Ballroom Blitz." The door is Amazon Crunch Woman's turn. Why must I wait!? The music pauses demurely...and the next song is...oh. My. GOD. "Margaritaville."


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Did You Know Life Isn't Fair?!

If you noticed that the wind picked up, it was just me over here in NE Ohio, sighing heavily. Summer is officially over; I go back to work tomorrow.

Oh, I can hear some of you year-round workerbees snarking pitilessly about how you don't have the least bit of sympathy for me. You, after all, don't get the summer off! You don't get to wake up, wander out onto your deck while still wearing your jammies, have coffee and read the paper and maybe get dressed by 11 a.m.!

Well, you could have chosen to be a teacher like me. Ah, there's the dark side! Need I say what I must do to earn my summer? (And let me just say this: my 100+ year-old school is not air-conditioned, nor do the steam radiators always work.)

Anyway, if you were going to leave behind such a summer life, wouldn't you sigh heavily as well? But leave it I must; sophomore honors English students and junior regular English students eagerly await American Literature, grammar, and composition, not to mention vocabulary. Okay, maybe not "eagerly." And, maybe a better verb choice would be "dread" rather than "await."

Hey, I'm a realist. And they haven't met me yet. I'll get that "eagerly" and "await" stuff in there, guaranteed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

DoN "Re-Images" the USPS

Certain things in the US government need tweaking; let's face it. (No! Really?) The obvious thing to do first would be to clean House (ahem!), but since we failed to do that in the last election, I am now resigned to starting small. Today, I am beginning with the United States Postal Service.

Now, the USPS tried to upgrade its dismal image once before by sponsoring Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France. They probably said, "Hey! He will win for sure, and then by default, we will be winners! Yay!" Sigh. This did not work. We Americans still see the post office as a dubious "service" at best, whereby we drop our letters in the slot (with outrageously overpriced postage duly affixed) and pray that they arrive in oh, say a week or so, hopefully before the next postal rate increase. A dim, grey, grievous image indeed, USPS!

My idea is simple and here it is: start having the mail trucks play the happy tunes that ice cream trucks play. Think about it! Mail trucks are funny-looking anyway. They are boxy, little, and cute. They have the driver on the odd side. Most bounce when they drive along. Most people look forward to getting their mail and would like to be alerted when it is on its way. Perhaps it would lessen the negative impact of receiving the cell phone bill or the IRS forms.
How jolly! How fun!

Wouldn't you be happy to know that the next postal rate increase would be used to pay for this improvement? I wonder what the last one paid for.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Who Needs Soap Operas?

Conversation overheard while I'm waiting to book my follow-up appointment at the dr. today...

Slightly Pop-eyed
and Over-enthusiastic
Drug Rep: I've got gifties for everyone today! Little flashlights! From Ambien!

Frighteningly Icy
Receptionist: Really? From Ambien? Don't you find that sort of odd?

SPODR-(still smiling brightly, handing out flashlights) Odd? No, why should I?

FIR-Well, isn't Ambien a sleeping pill?

SPODR-It's the #1 prescribed sleep aid in America. It--

FIR-(cuts her off) Well, then, it seems to me, if the pill is working, you wouldn't need to be up
at night, having to use a flashlight.

SPODR-(blinks several times, smiles, opens and closes mouth).

Kinder, Gentler Appointment
Secretary on Rolling Chair-(rolls over, says in undertone) Just. Take. The flashlight. (To
SPODR now) Thanks. See you next Tuesday. (Rolls eyes at me;
sighs heavily.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Irony or Satiety?

We did it again.

Today, after postponing the inevitable to the point where we were going to have to eat ketchup on crackers for every meal, we finally went to both the grocery store and the warehouse club. We spent over $250 and at least 3 hours, not including the time spent putting all the stuff away.
We bought wonderful food, nutritious as well as delicious. We bought fun, snacky delights. As suppertime neared, our youngest said, "What's for dinner?" We said, "What would you like?" He said, "I don't care." My husband looked at me and said, "I really feel like Chinese. Let's order out."

So we did.

Friday, August 12, 2005

DoN Gets Happy

I am both a mom and a public high school teacher. It is therefore inherent in my nature that small things make me unreasonably happy. As proof, I offer this list of things that today made me so:

1. My hair looked really good.
2. I passed 2 cars that had Kerry-Edwards stickers on them.
3. I wanted to wear my khaki shorts today and they were clean.
4. My tan looks really good.
5. I have a jar of multicolored, flavored minimarshmallows on the kitchen counter.
6. My physical therapist is a Democrat.
7. I found out the above without having to find out.
8. My black fantail fish, Santana, has stayed out of the pond skimmer for over a week now.
9. Yesterday, my family was still talking about my Pasta Primavera that I made on Wednesday.
10.Today in physical therapy, I made major gains and did NOT have to take Vicodin when I
got home. (Although I considered taking it purely recreationally...j/k.)
11. I can hardly see the grey in my hair, even in my bangs.
12. I did not have to shave my legs today.

(For those of you who are stumped by #5, let me say this: try it. Go get a nice stout jar, preferably a plain one with a colorful lid. Mine has a bright red one. Fill it with an entire bag of colored minimarshmallows and set it in plain view, say on your kitchen table or counter, or in your computer room or den. I dare anyone to have that around and not smile. It's just a damned cheery thing. Now go do it.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

DoN Endorses Pharmaceuticals

There's no delicate way to put this, and I'm no shrinking violet: physical therapy was a real bitch today.

I made the mistake of telling my therapist JK that last night during my home exercises, I felt some adhesions give way along my shoulder blade; with that, he turned into Snidely Whiplash right before my eyes. (Good God, did I date myself with that reference--only those 40 and older will remember who ol' Snidely was!) Let's just say that my session could have been most appropriately conducted in a dungeon with racks and those big wooden gears and some little stoopy guy wearing a leather hat and studded vest. At one point, JK put a pillow on the table for my head, one midway down for my knees, patted the tabletop with his hand and said, "Okay, time for the pain."

He did not lie.

Move over, John Paul. I'm putting Vicodin on the fast track to sainthood.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

DoN 0, Wildlife 1

The epic battle for control over the territory known as my backyard is finally over and I have lost. I have ceded this key ground to the local wildlife: the squirrels, moles, chipmunks, and commoner birds that have invaded my feeders rather than the cardinals and bluejays that I have tried to attract. It's over and I'm glad.

It's been such a struggle. Oh, I can hear you...did I try sprinkling cayenne pepper on my birdfeed? Oh yes, I did. And I ended up attracting all the Cajun squirrels and chipmunks in the Northeastern Ohio area. You should have seen them in their little overalls with only one strap on, chattering "This here the bes' food in the area, I gar-on-teeeee!" Did I use a contraption known as a squirrel baffle? But of course! The little bastards leapt off the garage roof, off the trellis, off the shrubbery, off neighboring trees...those s.o.b's developed vertical leaps to make Michael Jordan weep. They bypassed said baffle and went straight to the source: the roof of the feeder by any means necessary. I developed super-acute hearing; I could hear the sound of squirrelpaws on the metal birdfeeder roof from anyplace in the house. I would rush to the backdoor of the house, grab my bb gun, poke the muzzle out the door with the stealth of the finest Delta Force sniper, and ping that bushytail right in the ass. (Oh stop it! It never did anything but sting it! It would leap off and run away!) But, did any of this stop any of them?
In a word, no.

The chipmunks...relentless burrowers, those. In my pots, in my mulch beds, in the centers of my bedding plants. They tear through my landscape beds and wreak havoc. They are cute, but they are destructive. They build nests in my gutters and cause them to overflow when it rains, which admittedly during the hot and dry summer we are having here this year has not been often, but it has happened. And they make full use of the mole holes and tunnels, making them even bigger and more unsightly, which leads me to those damnable pests...

The goddamn moles. The bane of my yard. MY SWORN ENEMY FOR LIFE. I have a gorgeous backyard which is no yard at all, but actually a fully landscaped garden including a fishpond and waterfall. (I will have Computer Guru Husband* post a picture soon.) What does one see when one is viewing my waterfall? A goddamn mole hole. Right to the right of the waterfall. I keep plugging it up and trying to artistically arrange the creeping phlox over it, and every night the frikkin' mole does his Urban Renewal Thing. So, CGH* and I decide to do a little research and see what we can do to fight the moles without hurting the garden and/or especially the fish. We come up with the Ultrasonic Mole Chaser. We order one and when it comes, he opens the box and approaches me with this long, metal, cylindrical object that looks like...well, he says, "Hon, did you order something...special for yourself????" Yeah, it looks like one of those.
However, let's just say it's been way less satisfying than one of those. In short, it hasn't done the job. There is a mole tunnel RIGHT PAST THE DAMN THING. (Insert heavy sigh here.)

So, yesterday, after I got home from my physical therapy appointment (I am trying to "thaw" a frozen shoulder...rotator cuff injury, the pain is...well, yikes!) and popped my Vicodin like a good girl, I sat out on my deck waiting for the train to Narcoticville. A particularly sassy squirrel sauntered (yes, yes it did! remember, I was not yet IN Narcoticville!) into my yard. It was being very nonchalant. I could tell it was casing the joint. The feeder was mobbed already by what I call "WalMart birds", i.e. sparrows, which are nothing special. The squirrel wandered casually over toward the shepherd's hook near the feeder, then glanced at me over its shoulder and shimmied up the hook, flung itself onto the trellis, and jumped into the seedcatcher tray on the feeder pole. At this precise moment the black mole chose to scurry from under the boxwood near the pond and I am not kidding.

Luckily, I was within sight of Narcoticville and, like Vegas, it is the city that never sleeps. (Or is that New York? Doesn't matter.) I watched while the squirrel calmly ate seed from the tray; soon, the sparrows it had scared away by its rather unorthodox landing returned to the feeder to resume snacking. Hazy with Vicodin, I came to realize that I just didn't care anymore. I'm tired of fighting the varmints. They win. I'm hanging up my gun (for the record, Moms everywhere, I never shot my eye out!), and I'm going to get my money back for the Ultrasonic Molechaser/Satanic Vibrator Device.

Sometimes, we CAN all just get along.

Monday, August 08, 2005

DoN Says R.I.P

Today, I am an in-studio guest on my son's college radio show. Usually, I'm a more shadowy presence; I contribute via Instant Messenger and comment freely on the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the NBA in general. He and his fellow hosts of The Final Score stopped being floored by my knowledge of sports a long time ago (after all, I'm a MOM, fer godsakes!), and invited me into the studio. I accepted because I'm so damn flattered, in the first place, and because I've never ever been in a radio station studio in the second. So, today is the day.

And via email, I get the news that Peter Jennings has died from lung cancer at the age of 67. One of the greatest names in broadcasting and one of television's most trusted newsmen, who publicly admitted that he "was weak" and turned again to smoking due to September 11, had succumbed to a particularly aggressive lung cancer that ravaged his body and ended an exemplary career. Another result of September 11 for Jennings was that he quietly and without fanfare became an American citizen; Jennings was born in Toronto.

Being on-mike and chatting about the Cavs, Cubs, and Indians in a college radio studio is not akin to the contribution of a Peter Jennings...yeah, I know. Nowhere near. But I'll be thinking about him.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

DoN Passes Judgment on the Democrats

Last week, 19 of the 1833 American casualties in Iraq were Ohio boys, and 13 of them were from the 3rd Batallion headquartered in Brook Park, a little place in northeastern Ohio not far from where I live. The Cleveland area media coverage was, understandably, relentless. I decided to read one column in my bible: The Cleveland Plain Dealer. In it, the father of one of the fallen soldiers said, "I hold the Bush administration responsible, from the president through the secretaries of state and defense and all those who have had a hand in starting this war. I also hold every Democrat in Congress who voted to authorize this misadventure as accomplices....To honor [my son] I can no longer sit still, just keeping quiet and being politically correct."

The sentence I put in bold is the one we have to focus on, especially in light of any coming election, be it city, state, and eventually, national. And the sentence after it makes it all the more poignant.

The Democrats, in a nutshell, are the equivalent of the watery part of a softboiled egg. We are amorphous, bland, weak, and watery. We are so busy trying to stand for everything that we stand for nothing. Christians? Sure! We love 'em! Especially now. Let us pray. In school, if we must. Abortions?!....yes?...wait...! Them gay folks? Are y'all one? Then we love ya! No? Then, we think they oughta move to whatever state'll have 'em. Oh, and we're all for kids and families...if Republicans are! The war? It's bad, but we love the troops and think we should stay and finish the job, as bad as it is, dadgum it.

So far, what have the Democrats done since The Angel of Death and Darth Vader resumed their Reign of Terror in D.C.? Begged to keep the filibuster. Said "hmmm...we'll see about THIS guy" about Nominee Roberts. Harry Reid has wagged his finger and tsked a few times. Thank God for Howard Dean who continues to lambaste the Republicans at every turn with reckless abandon, at times professing out and out hatred just to keep things interesting.

Here in Ohio (State Motto: "We're the New Florida!"), we've turned red and enacted enough anti-gay and pro-gun legislation to make even Texas blush. Our governor is involved in so much office-abusing graft that U.S. Grant looks like a Quaker, and what is the state Democratic Party's answer? Oh no, you can't possibly even guess who was exploring a political career to serve our piece of the heartland.

Jerry Springer.

Are we serious? Is this how we can best honor the sacrifice of the more than 80 fallen soldiers who have, so far, represented Ohio in this administration's misadventure that was, as Paul Schroeder so heartwrenchingly reminds us, fully authorized by Democrats, too?

The Democrats should stop trying to pander. Period. BE SOMETHING. Have a vision. It's painfully obvious that, right now, we don't. We cannot simply be The Party that Is Fussy. Start bullying. Toss around Osama bin Laden's name. Remember him? So it's not nice, so what? Start saying, "Hey...I thought the MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED...?!" Ask "When do we start SMOKING OSAMA OUT OF HIS HOLE?" Be, as Mr. Schroeder said, politically incorrect. Create a news cycle for a change. TAKE OFF THE F****ING GLOVES AND BE THE PARTY THAT DOESN'T FORGET.

I mean, it's not hard.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

DoN Weighs in on Infidelity

Leanne and I are in the checkout line at the grocery store. We load the items onto the conveyor belt and wait while the cashier makes a career out of the customer ahead of us. Naturally, we scan the tabloid rags and magazines in the racks along the aisle.
"What about Jude Law?" she says. "Would you take him back?
"No way." I shake my head. "I mean, the nanny, for godsakes. How cliche."
"Yeah, right." Leanne chucks the August 8 issue of People onto the counter.
I audibly gasp. Those blue eyes...rakish that the hint of a dimple on his cheek? I can almost feel the skin under my fingertips as I imagine...I...somehow exhale. I look up.
Leanne rolls her eyes. "Thought so."

Damn her.
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