Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Twinkling Lights

Peering through windows, they scowl through the front windows.

"Look at that tree!"

"That's just tacky!"

"That house looks like a strip joint. Could they have any less class?"

"I can't believe they moved here!"

"That is so darling! We must get one!"

The competition has begun. Technically, the competition began long before Thanksgiving when my neighbor staked his territory with moving reindeer and a 8 foot tree shining from his front window. Then, a person a few houses down hung some icicles. Within the past week, my entire neighborhood has exploded with twinkle lights; inflatable snowmen, reindeer and unidentifiable Christmas cheer; holograms on garages; moving reindeer; and enormous lights that look like candy peppermints dangling dangerously from porches.

At first, I was delighted. I love Christmas, and I love twinkle lights. When you put those two things together, I am as happy as a pig in mud. Then, I began to watch my neighbors. The weekend after Thanksgiving, they all huddled in their yards. They hung lights and stared at the others, furrowing their brows as they thought to themselves. Then, they began to copy each other! Slowly, moving reindeer began to appear in every lawn. Then, someone brought out mini-lighted Christmas trees. Trees began to sprinkle every porch. The neighbors who started the competition hung lighted figures in the windows. People down the street hung an enormous star from their roof top. Others bought ten-foot inflatable Santas.

The neighbors would peer out of windows to watch each other, then decide to be even more outrageous. They were in a race for an invisible contest with no prize.

"Look at that! They got a big inflatable snowman. Well, I'll tell you what, I can beat that!"

Then, the sickness spread to the entire subdivision. House after house drenched itself in bright white lights, every blade of grass shining with an electric glow. The entire neighborhood began to look like Christmas Vacation.

As I watched the lights twine around porches and doors, my heart began to creep lower toward the floor. This isn't what Christmas is about! Where is the cheer, where is the happiness? The only thing these people care about is being the best.

Perhaps to them, this is what Christmas is all about. I would hate to see what their electric and credit card bills are. Honestly, it reminds you of Greek warriers fighting over a trophy.

"This is not acceptable. We will take this fight to the highest of all battlegrounds: the yard."

I think I may protest this competition by simply putting a wreath on the door. I don't think they could handle it. The agonized stares and confused glances would make it all worthwhile.

"Look at that!"

"There's only a wreath? No lights?"

"I'm so confused!"

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Christmas Book part 2

James buried his face in his hands. The Zippo writer would never sign the book for his mom, and his mom would have a horrible Christmas. He felt his stomach tie up in knots again.

The writer noticed she had upset him. “Why are you upset, sugar?”

“I was going to get my mom a book,” he mumbled, his voice muffled by his folded arms. “I have to get her a autographed Zippo book for Christmas. If I can’t do that, I’ve ruined Christmas. I might as well just get on a plane back home as soon as we reach the airport.”

“Why do you need an autographed Zippo book?” the woman asked. “Why not a different book? What’s so important about a Zippo book?”

“They’re my mom’s favorite,” his muffled voice answered. “It’s the only thing that makes the sunburst come back in her eyes. And she’s sick, so this might be her last Christmas. So it’s got to be perfect. But it won’t be perfect. It won’t be perfect at all, because she won’t remember it. If she had the Zippo book, she would remember.”

The woman was quiet for a few minutes. “I see,” she finally said. “But I think you’re wrong?”

James sat up and looked at the woman in shock. “What do you mean I’m wrong?”

“I think your mother would love you just as much without the book,” the woman said quietly. “I think she’d remember the Christmas because you were there with her, not because of a present.”

James smiled sadly and shook his head. “You don’t understand,” he said, looking at the lines on the seat in front of him. “That’s not what would make the Christmas perfect.”

“Then what would?” she asked.

James turned to the woman and smiled. When he smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkled out. “The sunbursts,” he said. “The sunbursts are what makes it perfect.”

After a minute, the woman threw back her head and laughed so James could see the silver fillings in her teeth. “Good answer,” she said. She reached into her bag and pulled out a copy of the latest Zippo book and a pen. Flipping the book open, she scrawled on the inside cover and handed it to James.

“Thank you very much,” he said politely. “I appreciate this, but I really need the real author to sign it. She’ll know if it’s a fake.”

The woman guffawed and shook her head. “You silly boy,” she said. “I am the writer.”

James’s jaw dropped open.

“You’re the writer?”

“I’m the writer,” the woman said, smiling at him. James opened the back of the book and stared at the photograph. Inside, a polished, sophisticated woman who had only a slight resemblance to the half-crazed lunatic beside him smiled up at him. James throat tightened. He could hardly believe this.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” James said slowly, “But this doesn’t look like you.”

“Damn good airbrushing isn’t it?” the woman said proudly. “It works every time. But go ahead- test me. Ask me what is on a page- any page.”

James opened the book gingerly. “What is on page 21?”

“When Harold traveled down the staircase, he saw a dragon staring up at him,” she said immediately. Speaking clearly and confidently, she recited every word off the page accurately. James stared at her in admiration.

“You are the writer!” he said. “You truly are!” In shock, he stared at the book he held in his hand. “And you signed this book! My mother will be so happy! Thank you so much!”

The woman smiled, a true smile for the first time during their flight. A flush of pink touched her cheeks before she turned away. “Enjoy the sunbursts,” she said.

James clutched the book to his chest until the flight landed. He thanked the writer again and immediately hopped on the next flight home, where he continued to hug the book to his chest. Several hours later, he had made it back to hospital and was running through the halls. Nurses frowned and doctors shouted at him as he ran up the stairs to his mother’s room. He burst through the door, his cheeks red and grinning ear to ear.

“Mom!” he shouted. “I got you the best present!”

“A present? Before Christmas? You’re darling, James,” his mother smiled. “You’re so good to me.”

James excitedly dug out the book and plopped it into his mothers lap. “It’s not wrapped, but I wanted to give it to you as soon as possible.”

“Oh thank you, darling,” his mother said. “I love the Zippo books, and this one hasn’t been released yet. How did you get this?” James stopped and stared at the book again. He had been so intent on getting it to his mother, he hadn’t even realized it was the new book.

“That’s not the important part,” James said impatiently. “Look inside.”

His mother opened the book and gasped. James face lit up in anticipation. It was coming, he thought. “How did you do this?” his mother said. “This is remarkable.”

She looked at her son, and smiled so great her eyes crinkled into starbursts. James felt happiness fill his chest so quickly it threatened to burst through his fingers and toes. His mother drew him into a hug. “Thank you, darling,” she said. “I do appreciate it. This means more to me than you could ever know.”

James just grinned at her when he heard a knock at the door. He and his mother turned and James jaw hit the floor. The writer was standing in the doorway.

“I thought your mother might like another present,” she smiled. “May I introduce myself?”

The writer stayed for the afternoon, talking to James’s mother until she drifted off into a contented sleep. James walked her out to a cab.

“Why did you come?” he asked. “It was very kind of you. I know my mother loved every moment.”

The writer smiled for a minute before answering. “Any son who goes to the trouble you did to see his mother smile, deserves a bit of kindness,” she said. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” James said, smiling. It was a Christmas he wouldn’t forget.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Christmas Book

STOP! Read post below. Did you read it? Are you sure? Are you absolutely positive? Do you swear on waffles and all things ducky? Ok then.....

The Christmas Book
All James wanted was to get a book for his mom. In reality, this didn't seem like a difficult of a task. After all, it wouldn't have been hard to stop by the local bookstore on his way after school and purchase a book. The problem was it wasn't any book James wanted. The book James wanted was a Zippo book, the hottest selling book in the market. The Zippo books were a fantasy series that had it’s own cult following. New books had a three-month waiting list, and were always delayed by several weeks.

James’s mom loved the Zippo books. She would lay back on her hospital bed and read, licking her lips excitedly as she turned the pages. It was the first time James had seen the corner of her eyes smile in a long time. When he was younger, his mom never smiled with her mouth. She smiled with her eyes, with big long crinkles that were sunbursts on her face. Ever since she’d gotten sick, the sunbursts had faded away. Now, only her mouth smiled unless she was reading a Zippo book. She said the books took her to a happier place, to a place where she and James were dancing in fields and riding on dolphins.

The doctor had told James he wasn’t sure if his mother would make it another Christmas. James was determined to make this Christmas perfect for her, so she would remember it always. This is how he had wound up in an airport, clutching his ticket and his backpack. He was on his way to New York, to visit Blue Press, the publisher of the Zippo books. In his mind, he could see the stacks of autographed books shoveled into a closet. He was sure they would give him one. After all, how could they deny his sick mother?

After boarding the plane, James sat in his seat. He was seated next to a wild-haired woman wearing a fuzzy purple scarf and tall white boots. His mother had always said people that wore white after Labor Day were tacky. He didn’t think this lady was tacky. He thought she just looked like a big purple lollipop.

As the planes engines rumbled to a start, James felt a knot in his stomach. He never liked flying. He began to breathe in and out of his mouth very carefully. The woman next to him looked down at him.

“Nervous, are you?” she asked in a thick Southren accent.
“Yup,” James looked straight ahead at the lines on the seat upholstery. He was afraid if he looked away from the lines, he would barf. The strength of the lines seemed to calm his intestines.

“Don’t be nervous, darlin’,” she said. “There ain’t nothing to be afraid of.”

“Except dying,” James said, before he stopped himself. He closed his eyes and willed his stomach to calm down. “Excuse me, that was rude.”

“It’s fine,” the woman laughed. “Perfectly reasonable response. So, where are you headed?”

“New York,” James said. The plane had evened out in the air, and the fasten-seatbelts signs clicked off. He was beginning to feel better. “I have to buy a book.”

“You’re going all the way to New York to buy a book?” the woman said in surprise. “Whatever for? Why can’t you buy a book down here?”

“It’s a special book,” James said. “It’s for my mom.”

“Why, that’s just so sweet,” the woman cooed. She smelled of honey and vanilla. It made James hungry.

After a few minutes, James noticed the woman hadn’t talked about herself. “Where are you going?” he asked.

“New York,” the woman replied, shuddering. “Dreadful place. I only go there when I have to.”

“Why is it dreadful?” James asked curiously. “Everyone tells me it’s wonderful. They say there’s everything there you ever need.”

“Because there are sewer rats!” the woman bellowed loudly. The man in front of her shushed her disapprovingly. “You hush!” she snapped back.

“Sewer rats?” James was confused. “What do you mean? There’s sewer rats everywhere.”

“Not like these, baby boy,” she squealed in disgust. “These sewer rats are four feet wide with sharp fangs that drip green goo. They’re enourmous, disgusting creatures with matted fun and black squishy eyes. At night, they sneak into apartments and raid people’s refridgerators. They can turn milk sour and rot cheese just by walking past the fridge.”

James stared at her with wide eyes as her voice grew louder.

“Their nails are as sharp as razors and contain so much filth flies grow in them,” she continued, clearly enjoying herself. “They are so disgusting not even maggots and leeches want to be associated with them. They”-

“Excuse me,” the flight attendant interrupted. James started as she leaned over him. “Ma’am, you’re disturbing the other passengers. Would you mind lowering your voice?”

The woman stared at her. “Yes,” she said, clearly irritated.My story will lose all dramatic effect if I lower my voice. You’ve just ruined it now, haven’t you?”

The flight attendant quietly apologized and walked off. The woman huffed and folded her arms.

“How rude,” she muttered. Then she suddenly looked throughtful. “Do you believe my story?” she asked James thoughtfully.

“No,” he said honestly. “Though I was until she arrived.”

“Well, that’s something,” the strange woman said, slightly mollified.

“Why are you going to New York if you don’t like it?” James asked.

“I have a meeting,” she said. “At Blue Press.”

“Really?” James perked up. “That’s where I’m going. You must be a writer then! That’s why you told me the story about the rats!”

“Shhhhh!” the woman looked around furitviely, grabbing James’s arm. He looked down and saw her nails, short and painted blue and green, were digging into his skin.

“Ow,” he said, trying to detach her fingers.
“You can’t tell anyone I’m a writer!” she said, shoving her face into his. “They’ll be after me, they will! They’ll want me to sign books. The most horrible thing in the world is signing book after book. Do you know how tiresome it gets? How boring? I generally sign a name that’s not mine, like Madame Sasperilla or something. It makes things more interesting.”

“Writers don’t like to autograph books?” James asked as worry lines spread across his head.

“No!” the writer bellowed, ignoring the shushes. “It’s annoying and boring.”

“Do they keep them at the publishing houses?” James asked hopefully.
"Sometimes,” she said. “For promotional things. It’s hard to get one otherwise.”

James buried his face in his hands. The Zippo writer would never sign the book for his mom, and his mom would have a horrible Christmas. He felt his stomach tie up in knots again.
To be continued........................

A Christmas Tale

Dear Invisible Friends,

As I have been on a creative frenzy, I decided to let you vote. I'm going to post a story in two parts I'm considering posting in my children's magazine. If I don't publish it there, I will send it off to a short story/ magazine company. So, please read and decide what you think. (This is also a sneaky attempt to gain comments. I look forward to what you say, Invisible Friends!

Always Yours,

the Blonde Duck

Saturday, November 25, 2006

All Grown Up

I am officially old. 100% Geritol searching, callus pad wearing, furniture shopping old. How has it all come about? How did I morph from a certifiably weird 22-year-old to a forty-year-old woman?

It all started with chairs. The moment I stepped into that furniture store, I aged instantly. A saleswoman, in awe over my transformation, immediately scurried over and pressed her card into my hand. She followed me around as I looked at chairs, squealing over my choices like I was a certified interior designer. I sat in chairs, looked at color swatches and looked at overpriced accent tables. I had officially grown old. My aging process quickened as I cursed the traffic (damn young'uns) and searched for accent tables. Thirsty and experiencing symptoms of claustrophobia, I headed home.

As a new adult, I decided I was big enough to get the attic decorations all by myself. Upon opening the attic, I realized the folly of my ways as I received a faceful of fiberglass, dust and dirt. I was surprised a dead cockroach wasn't tap dancing in my hair. As old as I may have been, I continued the tradition by thinking I was stronger than I was. It was only sheer luck that kept me from toppling off the ladder onto my car or cement as I tried to lift down boxes that were too heavy for me. Unable to replace the Sheetrock that covered the hole in the ceiling, I took a shower. As a prissy older adult, I didn't like the sheet rock clinging to my hair and the itching that had consumed my skin like fire.

My journey into aging was topped off with being taken out to dinner and a trip out to Home Depot, where I began to contemplate what colors the paint the kitchen and living room. We measured and contemplated about what kind of chairs to get, and looked at pictures online. Having a sensible snack, we retired around 11.

Now, the Invisible Friends are rolling their eyes. "God, it's just one day," they sigh gustily. "Stop this pity party already! What is your DEAL?"

My deal is that at the grocery store today, I bought callus removers. That's right, callus removers. These removers are currently gracing the bottom soles of my feet, feeling like squishy innersoles. As I showed them off to Ben, he laughed and said the thing I feared most.

"Callus medication at 22? Getting old aren't you?"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I've always loved the holidays. To me, it's a joyous time when you get to celebrate with your family. Holidays make people happy, make people merry.

However, as much as I don't want to admit it, the holidays always have an underlying blue streak to them. Thanksgiving and Christmas are like beautiful, cool, 70 degree weather days in which you are having a lovely picnic on the lawn with your favorite people. Every now and again, when you least expect it, a chilly wind will blow by and give you goosebumps. It makes you stop and rub your arms, even if you are laughing and the sun is kissing the top of your head.

I look forward to the preparation of the holidays. I love Christmas movies and songs, decorating the house and buying and wrapping presents. I am giddy over decorating a Christmas tree, and over hanging stockings on the mantle.

But then- there's the stress of traveling. And being fair to both sides of our family, and knowing that right now there's a lot out of our control. It might not be possible to be fair. A nagging sensation in the back of my head reminds me of my aunts and uncles, my friends from Baylor and people like Dr. Willis who gave us so much support. If Christmas lasted a month, it might be possible to reach out to everyone and make them happy. But one of the joys of Christmas and Thanksgiving is it is only 2 days. Any less, and it would be too short. Any more, and it wouldn't mean as much as it does.

I suppose part of it is my own personality. I do get very excited about any sort of holiday, and love to celebrate it. I was even giddy over the Thanksgiving party at work, and asked some women if they were excited. They glared and rolled their eyes at me. "Why should we be?" they asked. "We do this every year." It as as though an elephant sat on my chest. I felt hurt and disappointed. I may be an annoyance waving my Christmas movies about and demanding to watch them, but at least I care. At least I don't view Christmas as an opportunity to drink beer and watch football.

The whole premise behind Thanksgiving and Christmas is to be joyful and grateful. We are told to cherish what we really love and what we really care for. Too many people are jaded and bitter, including now. Whatever happened to Santa Claus? Just try to imagine, for one second, that snow could burst from the sky any minute. Dream that you will find a way to visit all your family and take long walks with deep conversation.

Bring the magic back. Holidays are wonderful because they hold this enchantment. Things happen on holidays that don't happen in every day life. For a month, we're able to celebrate this event, whether for religious or cultural reasons. Suddenly, things begin to twinkle and sparkle. The air becomes cooler and shops begin to bustle. Everyone is full of cheer and merriment as they scurry about. Now, people look at holidays as an inconvienance. They have to stop work, stress to buy presents and decorate with huge sighs of disgust. Bring the magic back!

Bring back the joy, bring back the wonderment! Bring back giving just to give, without trying to get a tax write-off. Bring back the wonderment you had as a child, the whimsy of a holiday. Imagine that an elf might pop around the corner, or take an impulsive trip to see your mother across the country so you're there Christmas morning. Throw logic and worry to the wind! If logic and worry dictate your life, what kind of life is that? A life without magic and wonder is no life at all. It's just......there.

So bring back the magic. Enjoy your holidays. Even though I wish we could see my husband's family, I know we will be holding them in our hearts. And that is what will make me enjoy mine.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I wrote this as an editorial for several of our publications at work....I hope you enjoy it! It should put you in a Thanksgiving mood!

Around the holidays, everyone focuses on being grateful. Movies and songs tell us to be thankful for what we have and to count our blessings. For a lot of people, this is hard to do. Being told to be grateful and grudgingly doing so is a lot different than being grateful, nor is reciting a laundry list of standard blessings.

True gratitude comes from the heart, and is expressed joyfully and freely. When a friend helps you out in a tough time, that’s gratitude. When a stranger helps you carry boxes up the stairs, that’s gratitude. When your husband sells his car to help pay off your student loans, that’s gratitude.

Sometimes, pure gratitude is one of the simplest emotions to express. There is a stray dog who lives around this office. He cautiously looks for food, but runs from any human. After giving him a colleague’s leftovers, I backed away and hid behind a car to watch. The dog cautiously crept forward and ate the leftovers hungrily, licking his lips. He looked at me and his eyes said what he could not.

It is not my place to tell you to be grateful, or to list off what I’m grateful for so you will see how blessed I am. It is not my place to make you feel guilty for wanting to watch football instead of thinking about how glad you are your mother is around to celebrate another holiday. There are dozens of stories I could tell you about mothers weeping over their sons returning from war or children clutching their grandparents as they lay in the hospital hooked up to machinery. But—I’m not going to.

Be grateful for the things you love, and for the things that are close to your heart. And whether you’re grateful for the food on your table or your crazy family, just be rich in the warmth that you know what you have. For when you feel that warmth in your chest, those tears threatening to spill over as you look around you, that is true gratitude. It is a wonderful feeling.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Big Hunks of Metal

Their shoulders slumped as they walked around the shining cars laid out provocatively on the show floor. The closer they got to the blazing red small 2- seater sports car, the closer their knuckles got to the floor. By the time they slid into the low seats that hugged their backs, their foreheads had justed forward and they were grunting and grabbing themselves in glee! They had officially morphed into drooling morons.

For two and a half hours, we looked at every curved and boxy line of metal. While I adored the VW Rabbit and Taureg, they were drooling over massive trucks and tiny sports cars. Hoods were popped, buttons were pushed and stereos were tested. The boys were in car heaven.

As a traitor to the car show, I couldn't understand the enormous appeal. It was as if a pulsing stone was sending out brainwaves that enticed them to crawl on the floor and look at every car in the room. I suppose I could compare this to women looking at shoes, but not even shoes fascinate me. Now a room full of desserts- oh lord. I wouldn't leave for days. They wouldn't be able to roll me out.

Then, I saw it. I saw the exact reason men were dragging their wife and whiney children clutching blankets and toys through enormous rooms of cars: the car babes. The car babes ranged from Car Tramp to High Priced Sexy Girl. The Car Tramp is some poor young girl who they've shoved out on the floor in something very low-cut and tight just to attract men. One girl was wearing a tight little black dress and plastic heels, while another's were wearing pants so tight they were almost painted on. Their t-shirts were equally tight, as they pushed their breasts out while handing out brochures. These girls didn't even know the name of the car they were standing next to, but weren't they cute? All they needed was a string bikini and heels.

The Mid-Priced Sorta Sexy girl is an older woman in her thirties. She's wearing way too much makeup and looks tired. She tries to lean against the cars to look sexy, but really just wants to kick off her heels and take a bubble bath. She is wearing a suit jacket and short skirt, and showing some cleavage. The Sorta Sexy girl is wearing cheap gold jewelry that she tugs on while talking to the people, wishing she could tug on her skirt. Her panty hose have funs, and she knows a few things about the cars. When a person walks up, she immediately smiles way too big and recites the speech she's been told to give from memory. She's memorized all the questions to the guide book, and is stumped if someone asks an original question. Then she unbuttons her jacket to show more cleavage and changes the subject. After all- she's not just a pretty face. She's just not much more.

The highest level of car girls, the High Priced Sexy Girl, knows how to play the big dogs. She sits on a stool in a pose, looking down at some of the "undesirables" looking at cars. She only talks to well dressed older men, and ignores anyone under the age of thirty. She works for an exotic car company like porsche or ferrari, and haughtily brags about the cars. She is around her late 20's, and really just waiting on her promotion to go through so she can quit doing this. She wears a tailored black suit and thick perfume. She reeks of pretension. This woman looks bored whenever talking to you, unless you mention money. Suddenly, her entire attitude changes. She purrs like a kitten as she leans close to you, flipping her hair and showing her bright smile. Her eyes stare into yours, and she laughs at your every joke. This girl is sexy, and she knows it. Her job is to fool you into thinking if you buy that car, you can have her. For a steep price.

So, that is the psychological draw of car shows for men. Not only do they get big hunks of metal, they get boobs! It makes you wonder what's next for women. Art and craft shows with male models posing as sexy plumbers or emotionally fragile firemen? Is the world ready for this? We may never know.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bring in the Clowns

Lately, I've been noticing there's a lot of unhappy people in the world. However, there are three that really get to me.

The woman behind the counter at the gym looks like a Forgotten Poodle. Her blond hair is teased and perfectly coiffed, her eye-liner carefully applied in a thick line. She's an older woman who wears a turtleneck under her company polo shirt, even when it's 110 degrees outside. She walks on the treadmill every morning, staring at the T.V. Sometimes, she'll talk to the person next to her. When she talks, she looks down and smiles slightly as the woman talks about her husband and children. Every step is a heartache, a weary journey that will never cease. She sits behind the counter, her sad eyes staring up as people enter. When she thinks no one is watching, she looks wistfully out the door. She stares throughout the day, watching the happy shoppers and cars whizzing by. Each child that walks in the door digs a deeper hole in her heart. Sometimes she leans her head on the counter, the weariness reflected in the glass.

One man is perpetually happy. Always cheerful and smiling, he stops to say hello to everyone. He spouts poetry about how days should not be wasted with anger or bad feelings, and how one should live every day to it's fullest. With crisp shirts in bright colors and ties that can be seen a mile away, this man is a Clown. Everybody loves this man, and girls crowd around him to giggle and tease. His only bad habit is smoking, which he does in a group. He is, of course, the center of attention, telling jokes and listening as the laughter washes over him. When he thinks no one is looking, his smile drops. His eyes are filled with worry and sadness, and he holds his head as he holds his cigarette. His hand trembles slightly, from nerves and worry, and he steadies it. Whether he worries about love, a mortgage or a mountain of debt, he never talks about it. He takes a few breaths, and paints his face with a smile before walking inside.

Another woman at the gym is desperate for interaction. She talks to anyone who is next to her, driving away annoyed women who want to tune out and burn off last night's pizza. Other women are only polite, and she knows it. She desperately reaches out, desperate to have someone like her, someone want to talk to her. Once someone is interested, she ignores her routine to follow them around the gym. She tells about her past, her family and her health problems. When she talks about her youth, disappointment creases her eyes. She sighs when she remembers her slight figure, her pouty lips and lushcious hair. She pretends to be adjusted, and laughs weakly. "Cie la vie!" Still, when she thinks no one is watching, she daydreams about how things used to be. Her face takes on a longing look as she wheels slowly on the bike. Her eyes are sad, and her mouth is pulling down and looks as though it was drawn with charcoal. In her mind, she is young, careless and free. She briefly grasps happiness, remembering past loves and a whirlwind of years. As the machine beeps, her smile disappears. She stares at her body, large, flabby and ridden with diabetes and disease and tries not to cry.

The only thing I wish, if I could wish anything in the world, is to make these people smile. Not just for a minute, an hour, or a day- but a lifetime. Let's just hope that someone will help them have happier lives, for no one deserves to be sad.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Bug Killer

"Oh my God! They're everywhere!" Ben stood staring in horror at the flies that had flown through the screen door.

"Well, it's your job to kill them," I said, as I continued to fix dinner.

"There's one!" Ben leaped to the side to bat at a bug. The flies whirled around the kitchen, looking for away to escape or food to land on.

"There's another one!" he slapped at one with a piece of rolled up paper. The fly fell to the ground, and Ben pounced on it like a hungry cat.

"Got him!" he said triumphantly. He dramatically strode to the garbage disposal and dropped the fly in there. I stared at him in disgust.

"Eww," I wrinkled my nose. Ben's eyes were wide with excitement as he purred the fly. "Bye bye," he sang.

For the next thirty minutes, my maniacal bug killer was hopping and storming about the kitchen. He slid from one side to the other, spraying windex and wielding his trusty rolled up paper. I would look up from preparing dinner to find him silently stalking a fly, a single finger on his lips.

"Shhh," he would whisper quietly. "AHAHAHA!" throwing himself at the fly, he'd quickly beat it to death with the paper.

As I continued to fix dinner, the warzone erupted around me. The dreaded paper would slam next to my shoulder or on the opposite counter. Windex would hit the back of my leg. I became concerned that if the fly landed on my leg, that it might be an innocent bystander to the paper of justice.

After the flies had been purred, dunked in windex or faced even grizzlier deaths, Ben triumphantly sat on the couch, where he demanded peanuts.

"You know, the flies are out there because that trash bag is out there," he said, staring at the T.V. "You should put it in the can."

"Why don't you do that for me?" I asked, forgetting he was already on the couch. Once on the couch, only a hundred dollar bill or hot fudge brownie sundae could lure him away.

"Because," Ben said smugly, smiling at me. "I am the bug killer. That is my job."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Your Husband"

I don't understand why people refer to other people's spouses as "your husband" or "your wife". It has an emphasis that doesn't need to be there, and honestly doesn't make a lot of sense. I understand the need for possessive nouns because if we didn't have them we would all go around shouting husband or wife and thousands of confused heads would pop up.

What gets me though, is when people know the name of your husband or wife, and still say that anyway. It's always stuck in my brain, and I'm beginning to believe it's driving me a bit nuts. For example, if we're with our friends they're talking about someone's actions, I'll naturally ask who, since I haven't been paying attention because there was a shiny piece of metal on the ground. Instead of replying, "Ben", they'll reply, "your husband." It really drives me nuts.

I am guilty of doing this to other people, but at least I admit it. My reasons are simply I don't remember anyone's name so it makes sense to address people as "your wife." I'd rather give a generic statement than risk offending someone because I don't remember their wive's name.

I just don't understand the logic of calling them a "your spouse" when you know their name! I don't call you "The Blonde Duck's goofy friend" around people, so why would you address me as "your wife"? I really can't comprehend when people do that while I'm standing three feet from them and Ben. It's like they're simply going through a list of roles in their head.

"Ok," they think to themselves. "I've already called her the Blonde Duck. Check. I've just called her "your wife". Check. I suppose next it's "the blonde thing hopping about in the corner and whining for cheesecake."

I think what really drives me nuts about this utter laziness is simply that it's dumb. If we all went around describing ourselves all the time, it would be a lot more entertaining if we were more creative about it. For imagine, can you introduce a teacher introducing themselves as, "I am Teacher duck, otherwise known as 'your wife', 'mom' , 'paranoid neighbor', 'cookie fiend', ice cream addicted' and 'drowning in debt crazed woman.' I will be your teacher."

If we all gave introductions like that, we'd probably run away from each other as fast as we could. The world would have a shortage of normal, boring people. It would be a lot more interesting sure- and at least we wouldn't be "your wife".

Monday, November 13, 2006


Duck Update: I saw Stranger than Fiction this weekend, and it was absolutely glorious! Ben took me to the late showing of 10:30! We're younger than we thought...

The Blonde Duck Solves the Mystery of Breakroom

I believe someone melted in the break room. There is a pile of clothes around a puddle of water on a table next to a box of donuts. The clothes are followed by a pair of shoes that sit next to them.

Now, these clothes aren't fashionable clothes. These are polyester stretch creations in bright colors and obnoxious patterns. This of course, means that the person wearing these clothes had to be a witch. Why a witch? Well obviously, the witch was in disguise. Why else would you wear obnoxious clothing that doesn't match? Of course, it was a terrible disguise, which is why she was trying to ditch it before she melted.

Consider this: my purell is dried up. It is my belief that the witch snuck into the offices in the early morning. She was not pleased by the grime on her hands, and helped herself to the purell. Witches have thick green skin which gathers bacteria easily (that's why the smart ones wear gloves), so she had a use a lot to get that freshly clean feeling. When she saw what she'd done, she simply left it on my desk. She is obviously not a polite witch.

After the witch had cleaned her hands, she slunk to the breakroom. Witches can't walk normally. They can slink, slunk, scurry and creep. After slinking to the breakroom, the witch discovered the box of old doughnuts. The old doughnuts are a favorite of the Water Cooler Ants, who were anxiously climbing up the table for some crumbs. The witch swept them off the table with one hand and laughed as they fell towards the tile covered floor. Luckily, their parachutes from the cubicle spiders saved them. The witch hovered over the donuts and selected one with her long red nails. Opening her mouth wide, she inhaled the entire doughnut in one swallow. With a satisfied grin, she turned to the coffee machine.

That was the object of her demise. As she lazily leaned over the table to reach for a cup of coffee, her stomach touched the puddle of water. The water was not just plain water, but contained salt as well. This only accelerated the melting process. The witch shrieked high pitched noises, but to no avail. The rest of the office simply thought it was the fax machine and turned up their headphones.

Now, the witch has melted away, and only her obnoxious disguise is left. Even the Water Cooler Ants find it unfashionable. And how do I know all this, you ask? How did I figure out this mystery and come up with this farfetched scheme?

I forgot to mention there was one long red fingernail on top of the dress, curled under many times. And of course- only witches have fingernails that long.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Due to the fact that a) someone lied to me or b) I misinterpeted the movie lady, we did not get to see Stranger than Fiction. We got there promptly at 7:30 to discover there were no seats. Apparantly, many people got these passes, not just my company. I was quite distressed and almost burst into tears. I had to hold on to my last shred of reserves while we walked out of the theater. I am depressed and disheartened, and determined to see it this weekend.

Stupid people.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Menopausal Ghost

There is a menopausal ghost that lives over my head.

It follows me to work in the mornings after a certain point in my daily commute. My car, which has been freezing for 20 minutes, suddenly becomes hot and stuffy. It's the feeling of being stuffed in a sweater in a room with tepid air and that has been stagnant for years. I claw at the window and flip on the air conditioner. For the rest of the ride, my faze is freezing and my armpits are sweating.

After I get to work, things aren't that bad. The ghost dissapears until around 9:30 when she's back with a vengence. While everyone else is wearing cardigans, I am flapping my hair and skirts trying to cool down. The ghost makes reappearances throughout the mornings, and settles in to stay around 1.

She sits over my head, hot flashes emmitting from her warm prescense every thirty minutes or so. Sweat pours down my back and my face feels greasy. I can feel my oily skin turning my makeup into a mask that could peel off on it's own. My cheeks are rosy and I am complimented on my glowing skin. I tell my co-workers that the heat is about to crush me. While others pile on sweaters and whine about the air-conditioning, I dip a towel in water to cool the back of my neck. I've threatened to come to work in a swimsuit, and was met with mild looks of confusion.

The menopausal ghosts that lives around my head does not like four o'clock. Suddenly, the room temperature shoots up about ten degrees, and people finally begin to peel off their cardigans. The ghost's hot flashes make the edges of my computer screen damp and my fingers sticky. The constant ringing of the phone severely annoys the ghost, who has been known to throw pens.

The hot flashes send me to an afternoon freshing up. I reapply my deoderant, blot my face, and re-fill my strofoam cup. The menopausal ghost causes me to drink eight glasses of water a day, which leads frequent trips to pee.

I am hoping the menopausal ghost will dissapear and quit following me home, like she has started doing recently. She always dissapears at the same point, but it is still quite disturbing. If she continues to lounge over my head, sweating and sighing in great pains of discomfort, I will have to move. I shall move inside the air conditioner and live in an igloo. For it seems the only way to escape the menopausal's mercurial moods is to satisfy her craving for a cool place. If that's what it takes, I am prepared to do so. I may soon be the Frozen Blonde Duck.

I am not amused

Dear Invisible Friends,

First of all, thank you so much for the darling messages. They make me wiggle with joy!

Secondly, something is wrong with the program I blog with. It keeps putting my information at the bottom. I have no idea why. I am not amused.

Thirdly, I must brag about getting to see Stranger Than Fiction in a premiere for the media for free! (My company gets passes). I get to see it a full three days before everyone else. Hooray!

Fourthly, there is an upcoming post regarding the menopausal ghost that follows me around. Prepare to be amused. You will be as delighted as I am annoyed that my information is at the bottom of the screen (it's taunting me rudely.)


The Perpetually Perplexed Blonde Duck

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Back in the Fields Again

The butterflies are back!

As I was taking one of my daily strolls through the parking lot, in order to clear my head and escape the menospausal ghost that lives over my desk (more on this later) there it was.

A tiny orange and brown butterfly gently opening and closing his wings on the ground.

Oblivious to the workmen staring at me, I squatted in the parking lot.

"Hello, little one!" I cried, extending my finger so he could climb on it. "I'm glad some of you are back."

The butterfly looked at me sorrowfully, opened his wings and closed them with a sigh.

I was confused. "Why are you not excited? Where are your words of wisdom? Where are the metaphores, the confusing statements?"

"My body is dying," the butterfly said. "I feel weak and tired. The cold pavement makes me want to lay down and sleep. Once my fragile wings touch the surface, I will sleep forever."

I was shocked by this. "What?" I exclaimed. "No, no, you can't do this. This isn't happening. Your a butterfly- full of light and happiness. You don't talk about despair and death."

"You are upset," the butterfly calmly replied. "Your thoughts reverberated of weariness and the desire to escape. Why can I not feel this way? You are a creature of light as well. You are known for being funny and cheerful? How are we not the same?"

"Because it shouldn't be this way," I said desperately. "Look around you. I come outside for the beauty of the sky, the feeling of warmth when my sun hits my skin. I walk around this field to feel the grass touch my feet. I talk to the bluejay by the fence to learn about why he sings. There's so much beauty everywhere. Climb on my finger and you can rest in a field, where you will be safe."

"How are you able to be perpetually happy?" he asked, closing his wings.

"Why should we be perpetually sad?" I countered. "What's the point of that, when there's so much more that is good?"

With that the butterfly suddenly lifted and landed on my shoulder, his wings whispering in my ear.

"You did it!" he said. "I knew you could."

"Did what?" I asked, confused.

Suddenly, butterflies surrounded me.

"We wanted to see if you could return what we gave to you," they said. "All love is give and take. Like us, you can love. You helped us when we were down, just like we will help you now."

"How are you going to help me?" I asked, as their wings brushed my cheeks softly.

"Like this."

The butterflies suddenly lifted into a spinning column above my head. They took off flying, creating a swirling pattren of gracefullness. They flowed around the trees, danced around my extended arm and one gently alighted on my finger. His feet touched my hand in a brief kiss, then took off again.

"Thank you," I whispered. "Thank you."

As they floated away, I heard a faint reply in the cool breeze.

"Thank you."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What's in Your Cart?

The grocery store in the pond is a fascinating place. I like to go and glide through the aisles, looking at all the colorful boxes and bags. The most fun I have is by watching the people though. Just like the forest, the grocery store has many different types of species.

The first rare species is the single female. She usually carries a basket instead of a cart, and fills her basket with fresh fruit and lean cuisine meals. She may toss in some cottage cheese and a few yogurt's, with some bran flake cereal. A little deli meat, low fat cheese and wheat bread and she's in the check out line. She throws three or four magazines on the conveyer belt, and a few chocolate bars. Occasionally, there will be a pint of double fudge ice cream and a fresh bottle of chocolate syrup. Those are the times the cashiers flirt a little more with the single female, which she responds to by laughing with her mouth open to show all her teeth, shaking her hair back. It's similar to the baboons mating ritual.

The second rare spices is the single male. This is different then the bachelor. The single male is generally unkempt and bored. He throws as many pizzas and frozen meals in his basket as possible. Realizing he should have gotten a buggy, he just grabs another basket instead. He loads up with chocolate and regular milk, chips and sour cream dip, pork rinds and beef and hamburger buns. He grabs bacon and eggs, and has to get a separate buggy for the beer and soft drinks he hauls home. A few cans of peanuts and beans, and he is set for the month. In the check out line, he brags to the cashier that he can crush a beer can on his forehead. The big event of his weekend is watching the football game on his buddy's big screen TV.

The third rare species is the bachelor. The bachelor tends to get a buggy and select a few bottles of wine and freshly baked Italian bread. He tends to fill his cart with pre-mixed meals in a bag, along with pasta, chicken and several types of fancy meats. He only eats expensive deli meat on rye or sourdough bread with his own specialty mixed mayonnaise. If it is a special occasion, he might create a dip with crackers. He stares blankly at the cashier, wondering if the minimum wage worker in front of him is smart enough to put all his cold things together.

The sub-group of the bachelor is the lonely bachelor. This man has a look of sadness in his eyes as he slunks around the grocery store. He buys alcohol, soda and bread with a package of hot dogs. When he stands behind you in line, avoiding your eyes, you wonder if he actually eats. The image of him sitting in a ragged armchair watching a rabbit-eared television, drinking cheap beer in a paper cup pops in your mind. It makes you want to touch his arm, tell him it'll be ok. However, it wouldn't help. Whether it is a broken family or a job that has slowly eroded his soul over decades, one touch won't help him. All that can help him is love, and the kind you can't give.

The next group is the Old Ladies. The old ladies shuffle around the store in what looks like a pink housecoat, looking confused. They buy a lot of cat food and fresh fruit. They tend to buy colorful packages, not really looking at them until they've gotten home. At every sample cart, they stop to chat for several minutes before going through their routine list. Since they've been fixing the same menu for decades, they don't have to think as they walk blindly through the aisle, pulling things off the shelves. However, at the baby aisle they stop and inform everyone within sight that their grandchild is the most brilliant baby ever. They follow their chosen prey through the store, waving photos and chattering wildly. Before they leave, they select a few motivational books to read for the week. Then they donate them to a local shelter.

The next group is the young married/ living together couple. This couple dances through the aisles, giggling and kissing. They get in fights over what kind of chicken to buy, and what percent milk. After sulking through the cereal and soup aisle, they passionately make up in the fruit section. They squabble about different cleaning products and bread types, but leave with a full cart stuffed with enough food to feed an army. One side of the cart is stuffed with health food, while the other is overflowing with chips and ice cream sandwiches. They'll be back the next week.

The subgroup of the married couple is the older married couple. This couple is either childless or their children are grown. This couple has begun a cooking class and spends an hour arguing with the meat market over the different cuts of meat. They cook exotic meals, and buy fine wines and breads. The majority of the time they eat out, so the major shopping is done when the kids come in. However, they always keep a supply of snacks on hand for last-minute home visits. They usually have a puppy or a kitten, and fill their cart full of dog food and toys.

The final group is the family with kids. This group varies and is the most populous of all the groups. Whether it is the parents with the children or just the mother or father with the children, it is a moving ball of chaos. The children hang from the cart shrieking, arms extended as their grubby hands grab everything down the aisle. They throw candy and rip cereal boxes open to pour into open mouths. At the slightest discipline, they fall onto the floor in a tantrum that shatters the overhead lights. The parents respond through threats and grim faces as they grit their teeth and charge through the aisles. Snapping at the cashiers, they pull their children from the toy machines and head to drop off groceries before the afternoon soccer game.

Grocery shopping is an adventure in itself, and it does make me wonder. What do people think when they look in my cart? Do they see a cute Blonde Duck, or do they see a matter of mass confusion? I guess I will never know.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dear Invisible Friends,
I wrote this when I was in college for a project, and I actually sent it off to a magazine to see if it would be published. I haven't heard back, but with the cool wind and the fall days, it put me in the Thanksgiving mood. I hope you enjoy it!
The Yellow Duck
“The Day after Thanksgiving”

It was the day after Thanksgiving, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. My father was sitting in his big leather chair, hoping that my mother would let him stay there. All the turkey had been eaten, all the relatives had gone, and now it seemed like no one could smile, just groan. I was six years old with nothing to do, with no cousins to entertain me, not even a friend or two. I walked up to my Dad who was glued to a football game, and asked him, "Daddy, what can I do today that's not lame?" My dad said, "Go play outside," without ever taking his eyes off the TV. "I'm much too busy watching football, as you can plainly see."

So I bundled up and put my dog on a leash, and Princess and I set off down the street. We passed a few houses and I was happy to see, old Mr. Ritter was sitting on his porch as his son hauled in a Christmas tree. I scurried up the sidewalk with Princess by my side, and said "Hey Mr. Ritter whatcha doing? Isn't it kinda cold outside?" Mr. Ritter just smiled and said to me, "I'm happy watching my son and grandkids buy and decorate a Christmas tree. I'm grateful for my family and that I get to spend one more Christmas with them, before I head up to heaven." "Are all people grateful on Thanksgiving?" I asked curiously, and old Mr. Ritter said, "Well if they aren't they should be!"

So I waved good bye to old Mr. Ritter and skipped down the sidewalk to visit my old babysitter. "Hey Leah," I said to her when she opened the door. "What is it that you’re grateful for?" Leah looked shocked at my question and said to me, "I'm grateful for my friends and my boyfriend Ben. He cheered me up when I was blue, and my friends are coming to get me to go to the zoo. Love and friendship are very important to me, and I'm grateful I have both in my life, don’t you see." Just then a car filled with teenagers pulled up to the curb, and the blaring music had the neighbors looking disturbed. Before old Mr. Wayne could yell "Turn that down ruffians!"; I waved and skipped down the street as the old man started fussin'.

A few houses down and what to my curious eyes should appear? The Smiths loading up a moving van, and not even shedding a tear! "Mr. Smith," I asked him curiously, "What are you grateful for? And why are you moving? Is it because of me?" Mr. Smith smiled and shook his head, "Child, it's nothing you've done or said. We were evicted from our house, so we must find somewhere else to live instead. I'm grateful we have some money, and plenty to eat, but I will miss living on this street. I'm grateful I have my wonderful wife, so I know we'll be ok in life." "You can live in my tree house," I offered. "There’s lots of room when you live high in the trees..." Mr. Smith laughed and said, "I don't know if I'd quite fit. But it's quite a nice offer, and I'll think about it." I said, "I understand, and I'll miss you as well. I hope you find a home that's for sale."

I waved goodbye and skipped down the block until I ran into my dad, who didn't look happy but rather looked mad. I skipped right up to his glaring eyes, and when I said, " Dad, what are you grateful for?" I really took him by surprise! He said, "I'm grateful for you and your mother, and for my parents and brother. I'm grateful I have a job and a home, and I'm grateful I'm not alone. I'm grateful for my friends and I'm grateful for my wife. If you break it down, I've got a great life. And you're the best part of all!" he said as he swung me over his head. "No one else could have had such a great kid!" "So you're not mad I went on a walk?" I asked when he put me down. My dad just laughed and said, "I was mad but I guess you turned me around."

Be grateful for the things you have and cherish it- if you don't it will surely perish. Be appreciative for your family and your friends!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ode to Rice Krispie Treats

Ode to Rice Krispie Treats and Why I Love Thee
Oh Rice Kripie Treats,
How I love thee.
Your crispy exterior crunches,
oh so satisfyingly.
With the marshmallow creme
draped gracefully around you,
creating a bond that can only be broken,
by the crunch of molars.
Late at night or as a mid-morning snack,
you're the perfect remedy.
The sweet taste and light taste,
keeps me coming back.
The best rice krispie treats are homemade,
With the nutritional information far, far away.
Somehow the crunch is much sweeter,
when the amount of calories is no where near.
For dinner or lunch, at night or at noon,
Rice Krispie treats are the perfect solution.
These treats are an utter addiction,
it's easy to inhale and entire batch in one session.
Though my thighs and tummy may not agree,
I think Rice Krispie treats are perfect for me.
Oh, Rice Krispie treats, how I adore thee,
Your crispy exterior crunches oh so satisfyingly.
I think I shall have a treat tonight,
and perhaps another this evening.
Maybe another for breakfast,
and surely- I could have another for a snack. Just this once.