Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Change and Some Old Friends

I could talk about how a fifth grader threw a temper tantrum on me today- full out kicking, screaming, and throwing shoes towards my head. I could talk about how I marched down all ten shocked fifth graders and made them sit in the cafeteria, taking away their privledges for the first time. Or, I could amaze you with tales of how an entire kindergarten classy told me I was the meanest teacher in the world. But I won't.

For you see, I quit that job today. I didn't quit it because of the boredom, or complete lack of control. As of Wednesday next week, I will be the editor of two local magazines. This excites me and wrecks my every last nerve at the same time. The utterly important question of: "What will I wear?" has been hanging over my head for days. I feel the need to dash out to the mall and collect some more clothing to prove my sophistication. After all- if I look good, I'll do good right?

Other nonsensical things have me worried too, like continuing to write for my freelance contacts and keep working on my book(s). And obsessing over making sure I continue my stringent workout and cleaning schedule.

I was sitting on the playground today with a little girl named Cassie.* Cassie* is a shy, sweet little girl who follows me everywhere. She waves enthusiastically if I pass a room, and generally spends 4-6 hours by my side. She's never ridden a horse, though she really wants too. At first she didn't talk at all- now she can't stop talking.

We were sitting on one of the wooden tables, and Cassie was chattering about moving from Arizona. I was half listening, wondering if I should bother stopping the kids who were sliding down the slide headfirst. Darwin has a plan, after all. Suddenly, Cassie grabbed my arm!

"Look!" she pointed. "It's a butterfly! A big one!"

Sure enough, a large orange butterfly was dancing a few feet away. With the cold front, the butterflies had not been as prevalent as they were earlier. They had faded into the wind, only appearing every once in awhile in the afternoon. I think the chilly mornings were killing the flowers that supported them.

As if in answer to my question, several more butterflies appeared. They drifted around Cassie and I, as she clapped her hands in delight and smiled. One landed on my shoulder, and I felt the whisper of his fluttering wings in my ear.

"You're worrying again," the butterfly chided. "After all this time. We told you the time would come, we told you things would work out. And you still worry."

"I can't help it," I said softly. "It's such a good thing, I'm worried it'll slip away."

"We can slip away. Time can slip away. Socks in the dryer can slip away," the butterfly replied, wings beating softly. "The people and things you love can not, and will not. That's the point of love. You love to write, therefore it will stay. Some very good things are about to happen. We know this. You will too, in time."

"Where have you been?" I asked. "I've needed you. I've needed your reassurance."

"While you were talking to lizards," the butterfly tiptoed gracefully on my shoulder. "We were dancing in lush gardens and skating on dewdrops. We flutter through the stars and cool air. We bask in the warm sunshine and cool breeze. Even when you can not see us, we are always around."

The butterfly lifted delicately off my shoulder and joined the others. They danced a bit in the breeze, twirling higher and higher to avoid the reach of small grabbing hands. Then they were gone, fading into the sunlight as though they had never been there at all.

Cassie leaned her head against my arm.

"They're gone." she said sadly. "I like the butterflies."

I smiled, my eyes creasing at the side. "They'll be back," I said confidently. "They promised they would be."

The breeze blew, and I could almost hear the faint flapping of air.

"And we will."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Goofier than a Road Lizard

I pulled out of the garage in a hurry. I was on my way to a job interview or some kind of appointment, and I had worked myself into a frenzy. As usual, I was late. Halfway down the driveway, I realized I forgot something in the house. Putting the car into park, I hurried into the house and turned off the screeching security system. Grabbing what I needed, I rushed out the door, impatiently locking it and flipping on the obnoxious beeping. As I flew toward my car door, a flash of green stopped me dead in my tracks.

Crawling down our garage wall was a bright green gecko. He looked at me suspiciously, acting like he never existed. He clung to the edge of the wall, tiny tummy expanding and contracting quickly.

Forgetting my rush, I walked over to him. His shoulder twitched slightly. Otherwise, he remained perfectly still.

"The giant doesn't see me," he thought to himself. "If I just stay still, she won't see me. Her vision is based on movement."

"Hello, Lizard!" I cried, oblivious as usual. "How are you today?"

"Oh my God- it's talking to itself. It's head is bobbing up and down like a monkey. Those things around it's face are shaking. They look like when a crickets legs shake. They look yummy. Wait- be still, be stealth. You still haven't moved, so she hasn't seen you yet."

"You're a cute little lizard!" I squealed, waving at it. "We had a lizard in Waco that lived in Ben's garage named Fred. Then in Austin, I had a leopard gecko named Duckie. I shall call you- Henry! Henry the lizard!"

"This giant is off her rocker. She's shouting things and shaking with a strange noise coming out of her mouth. I guess she's laughing. But what at? Herself? Are all giants this mad? I hope she doesn't see me. My feet are tired. What is this Henry she keeps bellowing? That's a dreadful word. Henry. Bleah."

I glanced at my watch and cursed. "Oh lord, I'm going to be late!" I said. I ran to my car and jumped in, speeding down the driveway.

Henry sat on the wall, watching as I sped away.

"Finally she's gone! I thought she'd never leave! Now I can go into the cement forest- what's this? She closed the gate! She closed the gate to the cement forest! I waited all morning for the gate to open- and now it's closed! Stupid giant. All that bobbling made the gate close."

With that, Henry prepared to wait for the gate to reopen again. T his time, he enjoyed the comfort of the holly bush below. He munched on ants and small bugs as he waited. Soon, he'd be inside the cement forest. What a treat it would be!

*** Henry the lizard recently learned the cement forest is poisoned. He declined his journey and is making other travel plans. All inquiries should be directed to the Blonde Duck.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cootie Karma

So, I shouldn't have told those kids there was cooties in the van. Cootie karma came to bite me in the ass.

Ben and I were at Dillards after work to pick up a pair of khakis he needed for a presentation. We found a cheap pair of dockers, and were waiting at the checkout line. A mother and her two sons were ahead of us. The oldest son was in high school, while the youngest son was about 7-8.

The youngest threw himself on the floor and started doing push ups. This was funny enough, so we all laughed politely at the child making an idiot of himself.

That wasn't enough. The child then began to pull his face into a contorted leer, wiggling his tounge and hissing at us. He came running toards us, making hissing and growling noises.

"Are you preparing for Halloween?" I asked lightly, smiling. It was a stupid move. It only fueled the fire.

Now, the child launched himself into my hip bone, drooling into my skirt. It was all I could do not to fling him off. The child's mother was busying herself with paying and buried in her own psycological issues. I just stared at him. Ben was ready to fry him over a grill.

Flinging himself off the floor, he continued his pushups. These consisted of waving his butt up and down and bending his arms slightly. He launched up and again contorted his face, now hissing like a cat and spraying spit everywhere.

"Oh no!" his mother cried, dropping her things and making an effort to nose dive towards my butt. Her dear, darling child was now in the process of trying to bite my ankle. I feverishly began to think of my immunization dates and the nearest hospital route. She drug him away in a arm lock, as he snarled and tried to bite her arm.

"He had a chocolate shake," she explained weakly, smiling as she drug the beastly thing away. "So sorry for the trouble!"

"That child needs to be beaten," was Ben's response as he paid for his pants.

I swear, oh Cootie Gurus, that is the last time I will threaten a bunch of five-year-olds with cooties. In return, please do not send snarling, biting, spitting, hip bumping children to a department store near you. I think we're even after that.

Tales from Van 11

"Do we get good deed dollars?" an anxious little face peered up at me.

"Yes," I said, trying to count squirming heads.

"Do I get one?" one boy thrust his grinning, chocolate smeared face into my binder.

"Maybe," I replied.

The "problem" child in the backseat was taking full condition of his diagnosis to kick the seats, babble, and hit other children on the head. And he smirked at me the entire time. Once I got the children settled into their seats and accounted for, we pulled onto the road.

At the stop sign, I told them to be still. They were fairly quiet, but several continued to babble loudly and kick the back of my seat.

"Whoever's kicking stop it," I snapped. "There's a camera in the van, and I'll show the tape to your parents if you misbehave. The van was suddenly silent, except for the problem child singing to himself in the backseat.

"Is there really a camera?"

"There's not a camera."

"There's the camera right there."

"No it's not! It's right here!"

"Miss, can you tell me where the camera is?"

"Is there really a camera?"

"I don't wanna be on camera."

"Shhhh! I don't want to get in trouble!"

After their fear of the camera subsided, they began to giggle again. I told two little boys I was moving them. I told the only little girl in the van of boys that she could pick who sat next to her. The boys began to groan and whine.

"If ya'll are mean to her, you'll get cooties," I warned. "If she wants to and if she gets mad at you, she can shoot her cooties out to get you. And you'll turn orange. Girl cooties are pink and turn little boys orange."

Several shocked five year olds stared at me. They began to beg the little girl's forgiveness and promise to be nice. The ride preceded to be pleasant throughout the rest of the journey.

At the homework table, faced with sarcastic and all knowing eighth graders, I pulled out the big guns: sarcasm and apathy.

These were my standard replies during the torturous 45 minutes:

"I don't care."

"John, if you want to go back to kindergarten, I can send you there real fast."

"I know you have homework to do. You can't color until you do your homework."

"That's not my problem."

"John, quit squirting juice on him. What are you, 5?"

"Let's not sing little mermaid songs at the table."

"Honestly, do I look like I care?"

"You can do your homework. It's not that hard to read."

"Honestly, it's not that hard to read. Are you just being lazy? You are? Again, how is this my problem?"

"Yes, I'm the meanest teacher here."

"The more you argue with me, I'm going to add five minutes each time. Five minutes to you staying after and just staring at me. I'll just sit here and look at you. You'll be bored out of your mind. Trust me- I got all day."

After deciding arguing with fifth graders is like trying to teach a pig to sing, I ended up watching kids build blocks for over an hour. These children were surprisingly sweet and well behaved. They also- GASP! cleaned up their own mess. The most disheartening thing though, was what they thought of being in daycare till 6 p.m.

"Do you like it here?" they asked me.

"Sure," I replied, surprised at my own statement. Those allergy drugs were beginning to fry my brain.

"Do you like it here?" I asked.

"Yea", they replied.

"Better than being at home?"

"No," they all responded quickly. "No, not better than being home."

Even though the majority of the time I stare at these children in complete disbelief, wondering why they feel the need to throw rocks at each other, I do feel bad for them. The majority of these children are lonely, and really want someone to talk to. Several children have attached themselves to me, slowly revealing pieces of themselves.

They talk about step-parents, teachers, and school assignments. They bring pictures and lego creations to praise. They lean against my legs, grab my fingers and whisper goodbye shyly as they run around corners. While the children may drive me insane, I do feel badly for them. In the end, all they want is their parents. As fifteen little faces sit staring out the window, watching for a car, a familiar face, it breaks your heart. The kids may be playing and laughing, but they're not really happy. What they really want is a mom. It's a sad thing.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Breathing Easily

Invisible Friends, you've all been there. It's amazing how you take things forgranted until they are no longer available. Take for instance, breathing. We all breathe, every day. Unless we're hooked up to an oxygen machine or crushed under a car, it's not really something we have to think about. Or for instance, being able to talk. Even babies and Siamese cats can talk. It's nothing really, just the vibrations of vocal cords.

Try telling the Playground Demons that.

The Playground Demons are nasty little critters. Malicious and elusive, they infect, destroy and bring down innocent bystander's health in a few days. Known as Pollen, Ragweed, and Dust, these three demons can make simple tasks such as breathing impossible. They float around, disguised by sunbeams and pretty falling leaves. As masters of disguise, they paint a harmless picture. To the untrained eye, this day is simply a pleasant late summer day. The sun is shining, the breeze is cool, the children are playing quietly. They have no idea the Playground Demons are about to strike.

Hiding as yellow dust on leaves, they hop on to the breeze. They ride the breeze until they reach the air around your head, where they invade your nose. Sneaking through your nose hairs like cheetahs through a field, they climb steathily until they reach your sinuses. T here- they strike. The Demons penetrate all barriers so their friends, Sinus Infections, Colds, and Viruses can follow.

As the Playground Demons set up camp in your sinuses, your white cells freak out. Your nose suddenly becomes engorged with snot, as to flush the Demons out. As the Demons make their voyage down your throat, into the Land of the Lungs, your throat fights back. It paints itself red for the battle, and hurts as it battles the descending Demons. The battle also creates a permanant itch which causes you to cough repetitively, for no apparent reason.

Your pleasant afternoon has now become a world of fear. You scramble inside quickly, but it's too late. The damage is done. For the next few days, you will be a mess of snot-oozing nose, scratchy and painful throat and random coughs that last fifteen minutes. All the drugs in the world can not cure you of your ailment. Instead, they keep you from driving to the doctor, as you are prone to fall into comas every few minutes.

After a few days, it seems all is lost. The battle is almost over. Until the saviors arrive- cough drops! Suddenly, you can talk. Y our voice regains a volume louder than a whisper. Your nose begins to drain snot at a rapid rate until you can finally breathe. And that first breath- that first joyous breath that reaches deep into your lungs is a sweet relief. The Playground Demons have been defeated.

But be warned- they will return. The Playground Demons lurk everywhere- the backyard, the parking lot, and the pumpkin patch. They may not be here today, or perhaps even tomorrow. Be wary, dear Invisible Friends- for no nose is safe from now on.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Birthday Bliss

I am one of those people who adores celebrations, especially when they revolve around me. There is nothing more that I love than being in the center of attention. However, in the past couple years, my birthdays have been a little finicky. They'd been filled with stress of trying to come down from college and coordinate with my sister's birthday- and they always included someone's hurt feelings. (She didn't come to my party, she was so stressed out about going home she missed her dinner, etc.) Last year, Hurricane Rita wrecked my celebration with my friends as everyone was busy hoarding tuna and peanut butter. Yea, I know it sounds selfish when half of Houston was sleeping on strangers floors but as always, it is all about me. At least, this post is.

This year, I vowed it would be different. I would have everything relaxed and easygoing. My parents would come down for the afternoon, we'd go out to dinner, it would be grand. Well, mother nature didn't agree with my iternary. Wednesday, I was hit full blown with a case of why-are-you-sitting-on-this-playground-with-dust,-dirt,-pollen,- and-cedar-you-hermit allergies. I lost my voice from yelling and could feel the pollen trying to invade my sinuses. Desperate not to get sick, as I couldn't see Mom, I went on the offensive. I took every allergy medicine imaginable and started taking shots of orange juice. I went to visit the registered nurse at the day care every afternoon.

"Look at my elbow! It's got hives! Am I dying?"

"My throat hurts? Do I need antibiotics?"


"Ok, I coughed. Am I sick?"

"You just inhaled a mini dust storm. Allergies."

"Oh my God! A sneeze! Tell me it isn't true!"


Thursday was my actual birthday. After delightful e-cards and phone calls from my dear parents and family, I doped myself to the gills. Not only did I get out of driving the van and managed to hide inside, I got waffles from dinner. Light, fluffy waffles cooked by my husband, which I am not ashamed to say, were much better than mine. I also got some delightful gifts from my mother-in-law (duck pajamas!) and sister. My husband presented me with some gorgeous earrings. I was quite put out at work with no one noticed. I pouted and stuck my ears in as many faces as possible. Nothing.

After spending the majority of work Friday trying to hide inside as much as possible, I was hoarse from yelling at children. I got off work early to avoid being stuck outside again and drove home. After having a committee to decide on my outfit, we went out to dinner. By now, I sounded like a strangled cat. Ben had gotten all gussied up just for me, and life was good. However, like any good novel, conflict arose. Tempers were short, people were tired and the night retired early. Still sounding like a laryngitisis inflicted cat, I crawled off to bed.

The best part about birthdays is not the gifts, or even the attention. It's being able to spend time with your family. I mean this in the most non Barney way possible. After shopping, visiting and having dinner with my family, everything seems better. Before, I had delved into a pity party.

"Maybe this is just the way things are," I said, sulking. "Maybe when you get older, birthdays aren't a big deal anymore. Maybe you're just supposed to pretend you don't care, accept people are cranky, tired and busy."

After today, I realize what birthdays are about. They're not about how many activities you can have, or how many presents you receive. Birthdays are simply one day out of the year that you can celebrate being you- all parts of you. It's a way for your family to celebrate you. And that's all the really matters.

So thanks to Ben, my parents, my in-laws and friends- thank you for giving me a birthday of bliss.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


If you hadn't guessed by now, I live in a Big Pond. I tend to stay in my Pond, which is a smaller part of the big pond. It's like the little pond created from run off, which a few lilypads to hop over to reach the Big Pond.

Sometimes, even my Pond feels too big. I tend to like to dwell in my house and my favorite haunts, which do not include overcrowded supermarkets or Walmarts. The only thing that happened when I went to one supermarket was I nearly ripped a few people's carts apart. The store was full with chattering housewives. The housewives pushed their carts nearly as quick as their giant SUV's in the parking lot. They would plant their carts in the center of the aisle and dawdle, lingering. As if that wasn't enough, they would run into a fellow PTA member and gossip while I tried to squirm around them and ignore their inconvenienced glares. Obviously, talking about Billy's trombone lessons is a lot more important than common courtesy. These same dawdling imbecile would then swoop in front of me in the line. With two screaming mini-imbecile, they would dump the contents of their cart onto the register. Since their cart was piled to the rafters, this took awhile. Therefore, every time I went to the supermarket I developed a rage attack and suffered murderous thoughts. It wasn't very healthy.

Still, what was I to do? All the supermarkets near me were of this giant variety, with people pouring out of every end like ants on a hill. I had considered myself doomed to battle the grocery store forever. And then I found it.

Tucked away by a new library on a sidestreet stood my salvation. A smaller supermarket with a small parking lot. While still peppered with cars, it had less SUV's and more Cadillacs. I drove up cautiously. I saw several young mothers and grandparents shopping. At this, I leaped out of the car in delight. A frenzied examination of the store had satisfied me. This would be my store from now on.

Now, going to the grocery store is enjoyable. The aisles are quiet and full. Elderly people glide around as they speak to each other on the far side of the aisles. The freezers are always full, the fruit is always fresh, and the children are well behaved. The store is so small it almost has a serene feel to it, like an old country grocery. I know it's funny to say, but I'm truly comfortable there. In a time where everything is hurried and people are wanting all brand, no substance- it's nice to have a small place where things are a bit behind. Gentleman offer me carts and smile demurely in the aisles. Ladies wave and smile as I pass. Sometimes, when I'm particularly whimsical (or demented, whichever you prefer) I pretend they know my name. I pretend I have been going there for years and they've watched me grow up. Sometimes, I think I can almost feel it is real.

What truly cinched the deal was the first day I left. Not only had I discovered My Little Pony birthday decorations, but a butterfly came. It followed me to the car and fluttered about, then was gone. Just as quick as that.

I wasn't worried because I knew what it meant. And that was all that mattered. For now, the Pond doesn't seem as big and intimidating.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Teacher, Teacher

My refridgerater is now covered with pictures from Keri*. One depicts me on an airplane heading to Florida to go to Disneyland. The others are simply holepunched to look like Swiss Cheese with happy faces. According to five-year-old logic, since Keri and I exchanged scraps of paper with our names written in thick purple marker, we are friends now. After she got ahold of my paper, she ran to her locker to put away her prize. When I was walking out, I saw her showing her dad all her pictures and "friends".

One child was quite frustrated I was not driving the van fast enough to his liking. After informing me I was ten under the speed limit, he then proceeded to tell me all about snakes. By the time I pulled up, I had heard all about a boa constrictor swallowing a live rat. He was delighted. I was nauseous.

I got to work in the art room, and was delighted. It was exciting helping the children with their art work. I traced kites, drew ladybugs (which became a frenzy), and made a stencil of a pumpkin. Several children, when I began complimenting the pumpkin artists, raced to show me their papers. Covered in stamps, hole punched, and decorated with scrawled ghosts and vampires, their beaming faces looked up at me. "Teacher!" they shouted. "Isn't it good? Don't you like it?"

"I love it," I assured them, and would point out a few features I liked. Proud, they raced to their lockers to show their parents. I listened to boys chatter about snakes ( there was a cobra in the backyard, don't you see- green and black spotted) and one boy announce that at 6 he was too old for birthday hugs. He still looked pleased when he received one.

They were a welcome relief to the fifth graders. The "cool" kids ran wild while I went hoarse yelling at them. After confiscating a bottle of Febreze from a girl who was trying to freshen another girls "butt", I was pretty annoyed.

Then I felt a little tug on my hand. A small girl stood there with her lip puckered. She thrust a scraped finger in my hand.

"I hurt my finger," she pouted.

"I see that," I said. "Do you want a band aid?"

"No," she said.

"Do you want a kiss to make it better?"


"Want a pat on the head?"


"What do you want?"


In other news, my birthday's in a few days. As we know, it's all about me. And I know what my husband is getting me. I am very excited!

Monday, September 18, 2006

My J-O-B

Today I was initiated into the world of childcare. With my elbow sporting a golf sized bump that had apparently grown in the night and my knee sporting a similar bump, I waltzed into the Center de Chaos. Like my fabled River of Crap, which flows from room to room so you can always tell where I've been, chaos flows in my path. Our house is often chaotic- Ben manages to cut or maim himself, people run in and out, and I perpetually lose things or forget things on the stove. Why do I want to add a puppy to this madness? Because it'd make it more fun. I've now added a pot bellied pig to my list of things to get. If my dad ends up getting the miniature horse he's been wanting forever, we'll have our own little farm. It'll be grand. Moving on.

From 10-6:15, I learned all about being a "recreational counselor". After two hours of job forms and being read to from the employee handbook, I was taught to drive the van. To my surprise, it is still intact. It doesn't even have a scratch on it. Yet.

Afterwards, I was escorted to one of the rooms to watch bad 80's childcare videos that essentially told me not to let a child stick a nail in their eye and that puberty is rough. Ok, check. Then I was told to not let kids play around sharp, pointy objects or head straight for the cement. Check. After the van run, I was shown "hw" time, which equated to a hundred squirmy children on cafeteria tables blowing spit bubbles and doodling on poorly copied handouts. The girl I was shadowing told me the same thing everyone had told me five times as I sat watching a boy eat a crayon. He was very neat about it, peeling off the wrapper delicately as he gently chewed the green wax. He felt me staring and looked up with a green grin. I decided to ignore it- he wasn't my responsibility yet. At least it wasn't glue.

Later, after surprivising the fifth graders who looked greasy and tired, I decided I would assign the children random numbers instead of names. There was no way I could remember 100 children's names. 1) They moved way too fast, 2) Several demanded to know who I was loudly, and when asked their name in return either mumbled into their shoulder or told me Spiderman 3) Generally looked the same. The only ones I remembered were the three annoying girls who decided to play tag around me. I was not pleased.

exhausted, I drove home to fix dinner and work on freelancing stuff. Luckily tomorrow I don't work till 2- so freelancing in the morning and lunch w/ Ben! Then Wed, Thrus and Friday is all freelancing in the morning. Hooray.

I'm not sure what to expect on my return tomorrow. I'm wondering it the turret's child will go off in the van. This could be interesting.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Petals and Rain

I was standing there ironing when he came in, the picture of the perfect wife. It had been a grey, humid morning. The scent of rain was in the air, with the promise in the dark light of the clouds. It had been a quiet morning. I had been cleaning, while he had been working on the computer. Sometimes, Sunday mornings hold a sweetness to them. They don't have the bustle of a Friday or Saturday. They're simply calm and lazy, perfect for lounging around and watching shows on Discovery. Sundays are days for delayed showers, for washing cars and writing stories. This Sunday had been full of hugs and kisses, of lazy pats on the back.

While ironing, he came in with a proud grin on his face and thrust flowers at me: daisies and irises. I squealed and carefully put down the iron before launching myself at him for a hug. Together, we put the flowers into water and set them on the table. Ben even arranged them carefully, moving the flowers to look like a purchased bouquet. I wiggled in delight and gave him a hug.

"That was so sweet of you, honey," I said. "I wasn't expecting this at all."

"I know," he said. "But I know you don't like grey days. I thought this might cheer you up."

And it did. After all, bright yellow daisies certainly chase away the grey. Not to mention flowers for no reason, no occassion- just out of sweetness and love.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Mama K

When most people mention their mother-in-laws, they describe them as hideous, hell breathing demons that suck out their souls every holiday. They moan at the slightest hint of a holiday gathering, claiming they've come down with the black plague.

There are a few people in this world that you honestly love and adore. Not necessarily in a romantic way, but as a true friend. These are the people who are always there, and can always make you laugh. My mother-in-law is one of these people that you can't help loving.

The first time I met her, I was struck by how open and friendly she was. She and Maggie were getting ready to go out, and she was half dressed when Ben strolled into her room. He saw nothing wrong with bringing his first college girlfriend to his mother unannounced. I was impressed by the gracious way she welcomed me into her home.

I was nervous around her. For the first year or so, I felt like a bumbling fool. I felt I never dressed right or said the right things. I would sit and chatter for hours in the mornings, only to learn that she had a routine and needed quiet. She was always very gregarious and outgoing. For months, I was bewildered by her. I couldn't understand how anyone could easily laugh easily about a dog humping a toy and calling it "his ho." My parents never said the word ho. How did parents know the word ho? I just couldn't figure out this easy tone and way about her. Nothing was off-limits, nothing was taboo. Ben used to start conversations with her that made me turn red with embarrassment. She wasn't fazed at all.

Although there's been many moments that I've nearly fallen over laughing over something she said, my favorite occurrence was last fall. We were visiting Shreveport and Mama K and I were in Dillards to get Ben some dress clothes for job interviews.

Mama K strolled into the store confidently, as I trailed behind her. She posed at the counter and looked at the thin, greasy haired man behind it. He was elegantly dressed, with scruffy facial hair. From the moment he opened his mouth to coo, "How can I help you?" at us, I knew he was gay.

"Well, Star," Mama K said, glancing at his nametag. "My son is a college senior and about to start job interviews soon. We need to get him some good clothes."

"Say no more," Star said, clutching his hand to his chest. "Let's go darlings."

Trailing after Star and Mama K, it was all I could do not to start laughing. They were both picking out bold, rich colors and jabbering to each other all the way.

"So who are you sweetness," Star glanced down at me.

"The fiance", I replied.

Star looked dramatically at Mama K. "Oh honey, you must be so thrilled! A wedding to plan!"

"Oh yes, we're very excited," she said. "We do love this girl. Now if we can get my hard headed son into something but those awful shorts, we'll be peachy!"

"Oh tell me he doesn't wear shorts," Star cringed.

"Let me tell you, Star, he wears nasty goober shorts," she cackled, demonstrating the stretchy band with her own hands. "They're nice and stretchy so nothing touches him. He doesn't like his clothes to touch him. Full of holes and dreadful things."

"And he wears those underwear shirts," she whispered conspiratorially, pointing at a pack of hanes t-shirts. "That's all he wears. To class and all around town."

Star looked like he was about to faint. "You should only wear something that dreadful when you're sick, or in the yard," he gasped, clutching his hands to his mouth.

"He wears it out to dinner," I piped up.

"He wears it out to dinner?" she gasped.

"He wears it out to dinner." Star looked nauseous.

"He wears it out to dinner," Mama K said, looking even more determined. "He's got a closet full of big beautiful shirts. Gorgeous colors and fabrics. And what does he wear?" Mama K and Star looked at the Hanes t-shirt display dramatically.

"Underwear shirts," they said in unison.

And that was how it went all night. Star fawned over Mama K, emitting a chortling laugh every now and again. Mama K switched between cackling over the joy of buying Ben clothes and being despondent over the fact he continued to wear underwear shirts and shorts. I spent the whole time laughing.

It's Mama K's birthday on September 18, but she's about to head out to Arkansas. I wanted to give her a nice warm fuzzy for her trip. She is not simply a mother-in-law to me. She's a friend, and a very dear one. Her support has been invaluable through the wedding, the moving, and the start of my freelance career. She has been very attentive and loving ever since my Mom was diagnosed with cancer.

Still, what amazes me is the connection she keeps with my Mom and sister. She sends my mom presents and flowers, calls her to check on her. She recently sent her a bunch of head scarves since my mom couldn't find any. She does it all with a sense of humor and briskness, never wallowing with whispered "How are yous" and "It must be so dreadful to be in your...condition." Mama K has kept us all laughing through the past few months, and to top it all off, she won over my heart: She pledged to buy me puppies. Two short squirming white Chihauhaus. And she didn't do it to be nice, she didn't do it out of obligation: she did it out of love. We should all be so lucky to have someone like her in our lives.

Happy Birthday, Mama K. Ben and I love you.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Guest Topic

Mama K had an upsetting adventure today. After happily maintaining the same driver's licenses photo for 8 years, the state forced her to take a new one. With a scowl and a firm belief that no one over 30 should ever have to get their picture retaken, she drove to the DMV.

Now, no one likes to get their picture taken. My own picture looks like I'm a red cheeked little elf with four inches of brown ends from the shadows of my blonde hair. As people get older, their restistance to changing drivers license photos grows greatly until 70. At 70, people are so old and wrinkled they just stopped caring. They're just excited to be driving at all.

Computerized voices called numbers in the stale air.



"I repeat, 42! 42!"

Mama K sat quietly, reading her book. She has "one of those faces." She looked around furtively, hoping no one would catch her eye. She did not want to hear about broken up families and disturbed people. She just wanted to read her book. When an old woman approached looking hopeful, she turned and looked the other way.

"'Scuse me!" a deep voice boomed.

Mama K looked up, afraid of what she would see. A tall woman stood in front of her. In her late sixties, wrinkles and bulge popped out of both ends of her hot pink tube tob. Her wrinkled beer belly draped over her purple hot pants that were sucked between her butt cheeks. Her large breasts were sagging and braless. She constantly tried to hitch them up with no success. Her hands had a ring on each finger that clanged whenever she moved. Mama K smiled weakly, and the woman grinned a nearly toothless grin back at her.

"Where do you get your hair done?" she cooed. "Sure got purty hair. All national looking. I want my hair to look that purty."

"Go to Regina," Mam K said, lying through her teeth. She desperately wanted this woman, who smelled like jerky and was breathing heavily over her head, to disappear.

"My hair used to be national looking," the woman said. "I was pretty hot stuff. Still am!"

"You mean natural?" Mama K corrected.

"Yea, national," the woman said, somewhat insulted. "What'd you think I said?"

Finally, Mama K's number was called and she made her way up to the line. The man at the counter was very kind. He understood women are sensitive about their looks. Plus, he had a secret desire to be a vogue photographer. He had never gotten the chance to pursue it after taking the job at the DMV. He prided himself on having the best angles on a drivers license photo.

"Ok, please turn this way," he said soothingly, sounding like a yoga instructor. He made Mama K pose several times to get the best shot. Unfortunately, Mama K was still not happy.

"This is a disaster!" she cried, flopping down on a bench. "My entire body has gone south! It's all drooping to the ground. Both of my boobs are in a race to see which one can touch the tile first. My ass is playing the same game, and my tricepts are taking side bets to see which one wins! I'm so depressed. I'm just an old lady."

"Now I think you're gorgeous," he said soothingly. He motioned for her to come closer to the bullet proof glass and whispered as if he was telling her a secret. "Should I leave your weight at 140?" he whispered, winking.

Mama K burst out laughing.

"You're a dear sweet man," she said, looking down at her legs. "But there ain't no way I could pass off as 140."

"You know what you should do," she continued, warming up to the subject. "You should have a chin strap that you can rent for the picture to pull everyone's chin back. Instead of having four chins, we could all have one."

The man patiently smiled and asked Mama K to wait a few moments. Several minutes later, he called her first name in a soft, sexy voice.

"I don't pronounce last names," he smiled. "Women are so much beautiful with just their first name. Now look at that picture. That's a fine drivers license photo."

Mama K somewhat agreed, though she would have rather stayed 8 years younger indefinitely. But she left and moved on, leaving the next woman to be charm dby the soft talking photographer. The soft talking photographer that sat safely behind bullet proof glass. You know, of course, in case anyone tried to steal the drivers license photos. You know how it is.

Boogers and Basketballs

For months now, I have been looking for a job. I quit talking about it to my Invisible Friends so as to keep the conversation light and fresh. Mainly, it was because anytime I talked about needing a job they started screaming and jabbing their fingers into their ears.

My freelance work is doing better than I expected. For a unknown college grad, people seem to like me. They really really like me. And I like them too. Still, the publishing world runs on 'pay on publication' and they love to drag out those paychecks. So, in order to keep doing what I love, I began looking for a part time job. And today, I accepted one.

As of Monday morning, I will be a part-time after school teacher. I'll get to teach in an art room, a 'cafe', a library, and tutor kids. For 20-25 hours a week, I hold these children's mental well being in my hands. It's a terrifying thought.

But, I'm absolutely delighted about it. This is a very YUPPIE daycare/preschool, so I actually have to make lesson plans and plan activities. I get to teach and do what I want without all the bothersome structure and rules of a state curriculum. You might as well have given a pyro a stick of dynamite and a match.

The fate of The Pond's children rest in my warped hands. They might want to run.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ode To Peanut Butter, and How I Love Thee

Dear Invisible Friends,

I am a bit tired, and very very silly. I just wrote two articles and edited three, so my brain is a big pile of mush. Therefore, you get a completely nonsensical tribute to peanut butter. I hope you enjoy it.

The Blonde Duck

Ode to Peanut Butter
Oh Peanut Butter,
How I love thee.
Your creamy texture,
your salty taste.
I crave you all day,
I can taste you in my dreams.
Each bite is a sweet torture,
one flavorful burst after another.
As the toast dwindles away,
I bite it slowly, to savor.
Rather than inhale,
I treat it as an art.
It appears on crackers, toast,
and half sandwiches for the road.
Whether treated with a drop of honey,
or simply swiped from the jar.
My devotion to this creamy creation
has undoubtedly gone too far.
As I hoard jars in closets and cabinets,
I fear the day when I run out of places to put them.
Every morning I long for it's rich texture,
and I satisfy cravings with a bold daytime dip.
I believe I shall never tire of peanut butter,
no matter how many mornings I eat it.
It will always tempt my appetite
and quench my palette.
So until I become large and round,
this treat I will continue to suck down.
Until then, my delectable treat,
My peanut butter I shall always eat.
Oh, peanut butter how I love thee.
You will certainly be the death of me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Clairvoyant and pigs

"Shut up," Ben said, munching on his popcorn and pretending to glare at me through narrowed eyes.

"I'm serious," I said, grinning proudly at my knowledge. "He's going to be outside. He's not in the house. Even though the windows are locked, he'll be outside."

"I'm serious, shut up," Ben said, punching me lightly in the leg.

It had been a wonderful evening. Slightly distressed over the new John Mayer cd, Ben had collasped on the floor prepared to sulk. After a few raspberries, he was sprinting away to his office. I made waffles for dinner (and they did not overflow. I have determined my waffles only overflow when Karen is over. Today they were perfect: light, fluffy and delicious. And I devoured every bite of mine. And some of Ben's. But that doesn't count because that's simply helping him finish.)

Induced into a sugar coma, we stumbled over to Barnes and Nobles and browsed. I picked up a few magazines I needed for research (no, not Cosmo or anything like that) and pulled out a gift certificate.

"We have a gift certificate!" Ben exclaimed, looking surprised.

"We've had one for several months. You told me I couldn't buy anything with it because you wanted that one expensive book." I reminded him.

"How much is it for? 100?"

"Fifty," I said, smiling at the cashier. The glue from the gift certificate stuck to my fingers. I squished them together nervously.

"I thought it was $100," Ben continued, as she handed me my bags.

"Nope, it was always $50," I said. I took two steps toward him, holding out my gluey hand.

"I'm going to get you! I'm going to stick this glue on your neck!"

Ben took off running, and I followed him through the doors into the parking lot outside. I caught up to him and brushed the glue on the tiny hairs on the back of his neck.

"Ewwww," he said. "That was uncalled for. You're going to get it for that."

After we got home, we settled in to watching House. Ben popped some popcorn, and set munching while I read the TiVo description.

"It says he is abducted by aliens," I said. " I bet there's just something wrong with his brain and he's hallucinating or something. Some kind of function will be off in his brain and it will cause the rectal bleeding and hallucinations."

Ben stared at me from the kitchen in horror. "Maybe I shouldn't watch it before bed."

"I should write for these shows," I boasted. "But then we'd have to move to California."

"Move over," Ben grunted, throwing my legs off so he could occupy most of the couch. He placed the hot popcorn bag next to my thighs and began watching the show. Throughout the show, I continued to make little comments which annoyed Ben greatly.

"Here they come!"

"Shut up!"

"He's going to be out in the yard. He's not outside. He's going to be draped over a tree limb or something."

"I'm serious, shut up."

"Well I've never seen it so I'm not spoiling anything."

"See now his leg is hurting again."


"They need to check the chip in his neck. There's really one there."

"I'm going to hurt you."

"He's going to give up because he thinks he can't do anything. Since Cutty's lying to him-"

"You're really annoying."

Despite my clairvoyant tendencies, I wasn't completely right. Only partially. Onto the pigs!

After the show, we saw a clip of baby pigs. I appropriately squealed and Ben made his famous pig noise. (It's uncanny. He sounds like a real pig.)

"Would you really want a pot bellied pig?" Ben asked, as he threw away his popcorn.

"Yes," I said confidently.


"Yes," I nodded empathetically. "I would name him Wilbur. He could sleep in the kitchen with the puppies and waddle around the house. They're very clean animals. We could tie a little cape to him and he could be Super pig. Or, if it's a girl, I'll put a little pink bow on her tail. I'd name her Charlotte then."

Ben looked very confused and gave me the Stare. The Stare is a bug-eyed look that is slightly fearful and full of awe all at the same time. His mouth twitches a bit as if he is going to smile but worries he shouldn't, because what if I really am that crazy? You can tell he doesn't know whether to commit me, ignore me or simply think I'm the most charming and enchanting creature he's ever laid eyes upon. I prefer to believe he chooses option C.

I sighed. "Wilbur is the pig in Charlotte's Web. Charlotte is the spider in Charlotte's web who keeps Wilbur from being slaughtered by writing words in her web. Wilbur talks to her all the time. In the end she dies, but her babies come and Wilbur takes care of them. And-"

"I remember now," Ben said, retreating quickly to the other room, where he was safe. As I continued my argument for a pot bellied pig, his eyes began to glaze over. I'll have to resume it later.

Honestly, what could be cuter than two white chihauhaus and a pot bellied pig like this one running about? Absolutely nothing. I can't wait until it happens!

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Questionable Loot

As you know, Invisible Friends, I crave attention on a daily basis. Luckily (or not so luckily) my poor husband finds himself to be the recipient of all my hyped up energy. I pour out feelings, random thoughts and ponderings in the matter of fifteen minutes. Then he crawls away to his office as though he is trying to escape. It doesn't work. I lay on the floor, kick his chair, and mew plaintively until he pays attention to me. I am entertained. I'm not sure he is.

Meanwhile, my birthday is coming up. When I was younger, I would try really hard to stretch my birthday out for a week. The longer I could stretch it out, the happier I was. My poor parents lovingly indulged me.

But now it's gotten to a point where I don't know what I want. Having become used to the dreaded budget, I now find myself denying myself things because I don't need them. Or I don't want to junk up the house. The only vice I have is clothes, and my dear mother has offered to take care of that for me with another shopping trip after the delightful one last weekend. Yes, I am spoiled.

After spending a lifetime buying just because I could or being given gifts because my parents were so generous, it's almost as if I have achieved an inner peace about it. While I still love and adore presents, I can't seem to really request any myself. Where before I could list out dozens of things, now I'm comfortable with what I have. Sure, there's things I'd like to get: new chairs, some curtains for the living room and a painting for the side wall, but those will come in time. I could get some more scrapbook supplies, but I feel wasteful. Ben offered to buy me some new jewelry, but I feel that's excessive.

Before, I sought fuffillment through things, through fads. It seems now that I have my friends, my family, my husband- I'm not seeking much more. I want time and companionship more than anything. And maybe new clothes. And new bras. And a new painting for the side wall.

I guess overall, all I really want is time. And lots of pictures to put in the scrapbook so I can look back and smile.

But I still wouldn't mind the clothes. Or bras. Or painting for the wall. And the cute little My Little Pony decorations I will drape the house in. Who can resist pink and purple horses?

Ok, fine. Maybe I do want crap and I just have no idea what to get. Any ideas?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I do Adore Clothes

If I were able to, I would have a house filled with clothes. I would have a room dedicated to pressed shirts and silk blouses with floaty sleeves and lace and ribbon. I would have delicate skirts, from the embroidered and colorful to the sophisticated and classic. Somehow, I would discover the perfect pair of jeans that did not cling to my thighs and make my hips look wide. Perfect bras would help my figure always look it's best, never droopy or puckered. I would spend my days wearing beautiful outfits of crisp linen, not worrying about the laundry bill.

"Excuse me, Blonde Duck," the Invisible Friends cry, waving their hands dramatically. "Surely this isn't so. You're not Paris Hilton. You're not Jessica Simpson. Hell, you spend every day wearing t-shirts with ponies and bumblees on them and skirts. You dress like a five year old. Why are you wanting perfect jeans and elegant skirts? We don't believe this at all you see. Why are you lying?"

Well, Invisible Friends, I am not lying. I do love clothes. Especially pink ones with pictures of ponies and flowers. What started this dreamy post about clothes? I'm still riding high off the shopping experience of that weekend. That's right- shopping endorphins are pumping through my blood.

I am a reformed shop-o-holic. I could buy out a mall in three seconds flat. In my opinion, I was a fashionista in high school. Looking at old pictures has forced me to revise that opinion, but still. There's nothing more that I like than purchasing new outfits and bringing them home. I rush to wear them, reveling in the new clothes smell. For days I float about, skewing tags and stickers right and left. I am new, I am pretty and I look good.

Then the reality of a little thing called budgeting hit. I avoid malls like an alcoholic avoids bars, and I don't look at clothing websites. It just makes me depressed and than I have to admit I really do know where the cookies I hide in cabinets are hidden after all. Most of the time, I just pretend to 'rediscover' them on a daily basis.

"So, you're a clothes addict going shopping?" the Invisible Friends roll their eyes. "We're BORED! We don't care! Give us something entertaining woman! Fart, drool, do something!"


So while shopping with my Mom and sister, I was dancing about fanatically in American Eagle.

"Oh God," my sister said, running to the other side of the store. She began inspecting bras and selecting some to try on. Having investigated all the clothes and snagging the ones I liked, I was bored. So I began to fire the g-strings at Moms head like a rubber band, using the elastic to fire them off.

"Miranda Rebecca," my mother said, both amused and shocked her married daughter was acting like a five year old. "Come with us while your sister tries these on."

After hauling in half the store, my sister began to primly try on clothes. I was hyper and bored. I had eaten a cookie and was pumped full of sugar. As the overhead music pumped, I began to salsa in the tiny room.

"Oh my God stop," my sister hissed, looking at me distastefully. "You're so annoying."

Perturbed by her lack of humor, I plopped down on the hard bench again. I stared at my sisters half naked body in front of me. Due to the intense air conditioning, my hands were freezing. My lips spread into a huge grin as I grabbed her waist with my freezing hands. She screamed, whirled around, and beat down on my head with the hanger.

"Oh my God," she hissed, retracting her hanger. I checked my head to see if it was bleeding as Mom giggled. Encouraged by her giggles, I plotted my revenge. As she repeatedly shed bras that didn't work, I plotted and thought. After ten minutes, I extracted my revenge.

She had just turned around and was fiddling with another bra. Quick as a flash, I grabbed poked her breast. After turning white and swatting at me, she was furious. She glared at me and cursed that I was a five-year-old. I just grinned.

As we exited the store, I excitedly drove everyone to the next one on my list.

"Why are you so freaking perky?" she grumbled. "Are you on crack?"

"Nope," I replied cheerfully. "I just adore clothes."

Friday, September 08, 2006

One of Those Faces part 2

As we discussed in the original "One of Those Faces", I talk to everyone. And everyone talks to me- and not just my Invisible Friends. Now, these fine folks just don't talk to me, they talk to me. About anything and everything. Especially everything.

At the post office today, a woman walked up behind me. She asked how long I'd been waiting, staring at the enormous line sneaking out of the doors into the lobby. I explained I had just walked in, but didn't think it would take very long.

She had big green eyes, olive skin, and shiny black hair. She was wearing white scrubs and tennis shoes. Bing! I thought. A nurse.

"I don't usually get out during the day," she said quietly, checking her watch repeatedly. "I never come out at this time."

I stared at her, wondering if she was a hermit. A hermit in scrubs. Could be interesting. "Do you work the night shift?" I asked. "Or do you just not travel during the day?"

She explained that she worked the night shift and came in around 3. Around 7 or 8, she took her daughter to school and went to school herself. She was graduating nursing school in October, and was absolutely exhausted. She had dark circles under her eyes. I glanced down and didn't see a ring. I asked how old her daughter was, and she said 5.

Before I could stop her, I knew that she got pregnant at 20. She kept herself from getting pregnant in high school by working a job. All her friends had 2-3 kids when they graduated. And she just kept going. By the time I was called to the counter, I learned how she supported herself and how she hated Austin. I knew what her daughters school was and her religion. I knew her.

As soon as I was called up, I waved goodbye. And I left smiling to myself. I don't know her name or if I'll ever see her again, but I do know she worried about strech marks when she was pregnant. Once again, I just have one of those faces. So go on, Invisible Friends. Anything you need to tell me?


Men always joke that when their male friends get married, it's like they die and disappear. The once fun buddy is now a stressed, hardworking dad-to-be worried about mortgages and college funds. They don't have time for bar trips and weekly poker games. They barely have time to breathe.

Women are generally better at keeping their friendships fresh. Even 3000 miles away, they'll call each other on a semi-weekly basis just to check in. While I'm not quite to the semi-weekly, I do make an effort to check in often, particularly with my college friends in other cities.

A friend of mine just got married, and I honestly feel like part of me has died. She had the typical big, white extravagant wedding. She was my best friend through high school and college. When she first asked me to be her maid of honor, I was thrilled. After months after dress fittings, demands and pleas to come to Austin, I was sick of it. Still, I kept a smile on my face even when I was enraged inside. I honestly still deeply cared for her.

As the demands grew, I slowly began to feel like she didn't care about me at all. After her relaxed attitude toward my wedding, I was hurt. I felt like I'd been jipped and she still had me on a leash. Still, I kept smiling. After all, I cared about her.

Even after her wedding, I still cared for her. The wedding where I ran ragged from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The wedding where I did three people's make-up, helped the house party fix up the reception and be the photographers and the bride's errand girl. I was there with kleenexes for snotty noses, sprites for thirsty lips and knew every inch of her makeup and honeymoon bag intimately. She barely spoke to me at the reception. I sat on the stairs of the stage where the house party was doling out cake, feeling as though a part of me had died. I felt like I barely knew her at all, and didn't know who she had become.

"It's just excitement," I told myself, heaving in the blue stays of the tight dress. "She's just busy greeting people, that's all."

I got my answer tonight. After sending her an email to collect my tiara she borrowed and see how her new married life was going, she sent me a short reply back. She would drop off my tiara, and was so busy in her new married life she didn't have any time! She had to run- dinners to cook, dishes to clean. So good to hear from me though- just so busy, so busy.

I sat back and felt the realization hit me. She was gone. The girl I knew was gone, and had been replaced. And whether I liked or disliked the girl she had become, she was forever changed in an instant. And honestly- I'm not sure if the New Her really likes me much. Maybe not even a bit. Maybe not even at all.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Fought The Printer,and the Printer Won

I stared at it and clenched my jaw. It stared back, blinking it's green light at me.

"All right, Printer," I said, getting ready to square off. "You're going to do what I say. You're going to print these damn labels, and they're going to look good! You're not going to put half on one label and half on another label. They're going to be straight and even. And you're not going to smear them like cheap mascara."

The printer hummed at me and shook a little. Than it calmed.

I fed the page into the slot and it grabbed it. Than it took it all the way through.

"You stupid machine!" I yelled, smacking it. Still humming and moving, the green light turned red. I had angered it. The humming stopped.

"Oh now your feelings are hurt," I said, circling it. "Now I have to push your little button and make it all better. You're playing with my head here, Printer."

The printer sat silently, taunting me. I sighed and pushed the silver button. It sprang into life, mocking me as it hummed and shook quietly, making clicking noises.

"You were faking it," I glared at the printer. "You faker." The printer stopped humming and fell silent.

I pushed print again and it sprang back into life. The paper fed through and once again, the labels were off kilter. They were too high, and smeared with black ink.

"Listen you!" I yelled, shaking my deformed label sheet at the smug printer, "This is not how this works! You're supposed to do this the right way! These labels are expensive! You're wasting my husband's money, you jerk! Not to mention my labels."

The printer just blinked at me silently.

I walked a few steps, and turned back around and faced it. "Ok," I said. "I'm going to print this one more time. Just one more time. And you're going to do it the right way. If you don't- you're going out the window. It's a 100 degrees outside, and you're a cushy indoor printer. You're spoiled. Trust me- you ain't gonna like it."

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Growling, I printed the labels once again. I heard the printer fire up in the other room and paced anxiously. They wouldn't be messed up again. They wouldn't be. It promised.

When I heard the humming stop, I dashed over to see if it worked. The labels were perfect. All lined up, no smudges, no mess. The printer looked sorry.

"Well you should be sorry," I sniffed at it. "Wasting all my labels that way! No fresh ink for you!" As I sashayed out of the room, I turned quietly and whispered, "I'm sorry too."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


When Ben and I were in college, we loved taking drives. Many of our early dates were on long drives in his truck with the radio blaring and the windows down. After getting a nail in his tire and getting it patched, Ben changed his tire and we went on a quick drive to test the tire.

With the cool wind blowing through the open windows, it felt just like the spring of 2003 when we first met. After our rain yesterday, the Pond is under a tiny bit of a cold front (85 degrees). I leaned into his shoulder as we both relaxed in the car. While exploring some old back roads on our way home, the worries of the day fell off his shoulders.

Later, we snuggled on the couch while I laid on his side, watching TV. The heat from his bare chest and belly nearly put me to sleep. I caught myself dozing several times. Even his mischievous tickle fits couldn't wake me up completely. It felt like when you first wake up after a long nap and you're awake, but still drowsy. There's a burning heaviness behind your eyelids and everything seems to ache.

After he fell asleep, I got on the computer and found myself looking at pictures of chihauhau puppies. Paula, Ben's mom, called the breeder who gave her the infamous Ace and she has a litter of 6 week old puppies. As excited as I am, I also feel bad. With just writing, I'm not pulling in tons of cash. I know that there's things Ben wants, and it feels almost as I'm leading the gilded life and expecting him to pay. I know I could handle the responsibility of cleaning, keeping the house fresh and feeding and playing with them, but could he? Is it fair to put the burden of vet bills and shots on him? Not to mention the attack on Petco that would happen. Ultimately, I always thought in the back of my warp twisted mind that I would get a job solely to support the puppies. Seeing those tiny puppies may be too much temptation. And it's not like we couldn't afford them now, but it's not fair to make Ben work so hard.

As much as I crave the tiny cold noses and paws pattering, I have no idea what to do. For men, it's like being offered a sports car but worried about the matienance and upkeep costs. You can feel yourself driving down the road, but all you can visualize is that your child needs braces.

I walked into our bedroom and peeked at Ben's sleepy face. And I knew that I just wanted to make him happy. So for now, until the puppies and I meet, I shall keep dreaming. Dreaming of driving down the road with blaring music and cool night air- with a puppy in my lap.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fall preview

Schools are back in session. Classes have been in session for a few weeks, tests and quizzes are appearing. Yet, in the Pond, there's only three real seasons: Fallish Winter, Spring, and Blazing Hot Death.

Since the Pond is in the Texas Hill Country, we don't get a lot of rain. That's why I spend every day reading (whoops, watering) for thirty minutes outside. I can't say it's helped much.

When I woke today, the room was still dark and grey. The grey clouds hung outside, muting all the vibrant greens and yellows. The air was cool and humid, the smell of rain filled the air. I was exhilarated.

When the rain finally fell, I wanted to go out and twirl in it. Walking to the grocery store, it felt so good to feel tiny sprinkles on my face. My shoulders were wet and slick, my hair was damp and curling. I loved it. Normally, I despise rain. But the Pond was getting low, and we needed rain badly. Besides, I didn't have to water.

As I sat and worked, the rain provided a soft background. Cars swished by, spraying water on cars parked among the streets. The cool air in the house reminded me of fall. The first real rain after school starts always reminds me of fall. I think of bustling classes, stressed teachers and warm comfort dinners. My mom always made fresh banana nut or pumpkin bread. The rich scents would fill the air, letting you know you were finally home.

On my daily trip to the mailbox, I twirled under my umbrella and squished the water around my toes. I splashed through puddles and walked carefully on the wet sidewalk. The rain ran down my bare legs and arms as I hurried back to the front door. Shaking out my wet umbrella, I grinned at the rain coming down.

After an old friend from Waco visiting and my experiment with pumpkin pancakes, it was nice to relax in a warm kitchen. With the scent of pumpkin and spices in the cool humid air, it really felt like fall. I have sudden urges to wear cardigans and break out the dance pants. Tomorrow, it will be back over ninety, and sunny again. The cardigans and dance pants will have to wait for another day. For now, it's still summer.


Once again, we had the pleasure of playing with Bryan's puppy Hamlin this weekend. As soon as he pranced out of his carrier, he was ready to play. More hyper than a five-year-old after eating a super size candy bar, the darling dog chased me around the entire house. He wrapped his tiny teeth around my toes, trying to shake them as he growled. He dug at my inner thighs and nipped at the arch of my foot.

While laying on the floor, he propelled himself to bite my shirt and hang between my breasts. He bit at my hair and played tug of war with it. My brief relief was cooking dinner. He was so busy searching for crumbs and small smackerals he ignored my toes. As soon as my red feet hit the carpet again, his teeth were sunk into my big toe.

I was not going to give up. This dog was as big as my foot- how could he wear me out? Oh, how the mighty would fall. After football runs, literally running across the house, salsa steps and clinging to the counter with my feet straddled across the chair while the dog leaped to bite my legs, I gave up. I collapsed onto the floor face down. Hamlin the puppy pranced onto my legs and settled onto my butt.

"Oh good," I thought. "He's found a nice cushy spot and will settle down. He'll go to sleep now."

Hamlin circled my butt, sniffing enthusiastically. I ignored the sniffles and wuffles as he dug his nose in a particularly sensitive region. This went on for several minutes, and I was busy watching the television. Then, he suddenly clamped down on my right cheek and shook. I thought I was going to die.

"GAAAHH!!!" I screamed, getting up to my knees quickly. The searing pain from the clench of this dog's iron jaws was unreal. My arms flailed behind me, trying to get ahold of the squirming puppy who was tapdancing in excitement on my butt cheeks. This was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to him.

Once I'd gotten ahold of him, I tried to disengage his jaw. He clamped harder. I winced in pain and felt tears come to my eyes. I was too scared to roll over because I was worried I would crush him. So I resorted to the only thing I knew. I felt along his back and found his nubby little tail. I then poked him in the butt.

This offended him so deeply he released my butt to snap at my finger. I grabbed the tiny squirming mass in my hands and brought him around to my front. He was busy gnawing on my hand when I bopped him very lightly on the nose.

"No biting," I said. "No biting butts. Bad bad bad. How would you like it if I grabbed your butt?"

He stopped chewing and gave me an adorable look. I think he would have rather enjoyed if I bit his butt. I just sighed and stuck my finger back in his mouth, and he resumed his ever painful chewing. The adventure had worn him out so he finally fell asleep for a nap. By that point, my feet were red and looked like hamburger meat, my arms were scraped, my hands were scratched and my cheek had tiny dots where his snapping jaw had gotten me.

To my amazement, I still want dogs. What the hell is wrong with me?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Rescue Me

No one likes to water the yard. It's relaxing for the first few times you do it, then it's absolutely boring. Since the Pond is under water restrictions, I have to hand water the yard. So I take a book, and stand and read while I water the yard. The yard is quite splotchy as a result. Some patches are quite green, some are dead. However, I consider a splotchy yard a low price to pay for escaping my boredom. I don't think my husband is as quite thrilled with the arrangement as I am.

Friday, I stood reading while I watered our half dead trees. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched a dog approach me. Dogs run loose in our neighborhood all the time, so I wasn't very concerned. Usually they run across the street and glare at me from afar. However, this one bounded right up to me. He causally sauntered over to my hose and began to drink sloppily out of it. Wary, I stepped back a few steps and watched him. He took that as an invitation to roll on the dewey wet grass and continue drinking out of the hose. I was fascinated. The dog was a German Shepard, and barely above a puppy. He was almost full sized, but not quite. He yawned noisily, showing me black spots on his pink tounge.

The squealing tires of a schoolbus caused his ears to perk up. He was off like a shot, trotting to visit the small girl about to get on the bus. She was dressed in brand new school clothes, and her father drew her behind him when the dog ran up just as the bus pulled to the curb. She shrieked in fear and disgust and he picked her up and placed her on the bus, kicking the dog away with his leg.

Unfazed, the dog trotted back to me as I finished watering the yard. He followed me into the backyard as I hung up the hose and plopped on the back porch. I found him waiting by the screen door. He looked inside expectantly and looked up at me. "Come on," his friendly eyes said. "Let me in."

"No way, buddy," I said. "You're a wet, stinky dog."

Being a dog fanatic and bleeding heart, I couldn't kick him out. He looked hungry and lonely. He had been well trained- he could sit, play fetch and lay down. His fur was still marked with the imprint of his collar, which meant he hadn't been free very long. I had no idea what to do with him. I had to go to the gym and pack us up for an out of town wedding. I couldn't leave him in the backyard all weekend, but I couldn't just let him run on the streets.

So, I did what any sane rational adult would do. I fed him a muffin and some string cheese and placed a tupperware bowel full of water on the patio. With that, I was off to the gym.

Pounding on the treadmill, I felt a bit worried. After all, what if he dug up my garden or ate through the fence? I knew Ben would be furious if a dog, a rescue dog to boot, tore up his yard. I drove home quickly, worried about what I would find.

What I found was a faithful puppy waiting at the back door. When I walked into the kitchen, he sprang up and whimpered.

"Hello!" he barked happily. "I knew you'd come back. Can I come inside now? I'm nice and dry. I promise I'll be good."

I looked into his big eyes and felt terrible. There was no way he could come in. He was dirty and full of all kinds of fleas. I had to pack and couldn't worry about watching a dog. But what was I going to do with him?

I played fetch with him and sat on the porch, talking to my mother-in-law as he jumped into my lap for attention.

"He's just a baby," I said. "I feel terrible about turning him lose. He just wants to be rescued."

In the end, he made the decision for me. After a can of old tuna and some water, he ran out of the fence when I was collecting the trash can. He was down the street in a flash. The school bus had stopped to drop off the neighborhood children. They screamed when they saw him and walked to their homes. One boy kicked him. "Git, git!" he yelled. Wounded and confused, the dog ran down the street and turned the corner.

I watched him go, feeling terrible. If only I could have helped him, kept him and helped him find his owners. I could just picture some sad eyed little girl staring at where her dog had been. His eyes haunted my memory, full of happiness and love.

"Rescue me," they seemed to say. "I just want to be loved."

In the end, it was someone else that did the rescuing. When checking the mail, a torn handwritten sign was taped to the side.

"Found: German Shepard puppy, 8-12 months. Brown and black, black spots on tongue. Call 345-9876."

Reading the sign, I smiled and turned to walk back home. When I reached the backyard, I looked at the porch where his muddy foot prints still remained.

If I were romantic, I would say they were steps to his rescue and safety. I don't think that's the case. He wanted to be rescued, and he was. And for that, I'm glad.