Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ode to Frosted Mini Wheats Part 2

Oh Frosted Mini Wheats, how you have forsaken me,

You left me in the cold of winter in the dark of night,

For months I craved your sugary goodness,

Only to be denied.

The grocers' shelves were empty,

featuring strawberry and regular flavors.

No matter how I searched, how many boxes I overturned,

You were gone, and honey bunches of oats became my savior.

How I longed for your sweet taste,

The crunchy texture and milky residue!

Yet I sat night after night staring at my bowl,

Filled with bran flakes that I knew couldn't compare to you.

Why, oh why, did you leave me, Frosted Mini Wheats?

Rather than make a clean exit, you lingered,

flaunting your sweet taste in commercials

your ghost haunting the shelves, only to be strange boxes obscured.

The pain you caused me was only slight,

compared to the cravings you left me with.

Rather than be strong and apathetic,

I clutch a spoon, lost and completely pathetic.

For what other person craves your taste

At midnight or early in the morn,

What other person can sit at breakfast,

And wish you were still around?

It seems you have redeemed yourself, dear mini wheats,

For you grace the shelves of Wal-Mart.

Imagine my surprise to find you so easily

On a random shopping trip.

Hysterical with culinary joy,

I grabbed three of your boxes,

only to rush home and rip them open

to hurriedly pour dozens and dozens.

Milk couldn't rush into a bowl fast enough,

turning your once dry state into a Mini Wheat delight,

Carefully I dipped my spoon into the bowl,

And closed my eyes at that first cautious bite.

It was! You were!

You were the same as you always were,

sugary and tasty, full of tasty fiber,

Several bites passed in a blur.

By the time I regained consciousness,

my cereal was gone,

the bowl drained of everything

except for the last few crumbs.

So dear mini wheats, I'm glad you've returned,

To your rightful place in my pantry.

For the only spot I'd rather you occupy,

is the space in my tummy.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy One Year

The Blonde Duck poses dramatically with Ben
One year ago yesterday, I was getting my hair curled in preparation for out wedding. Ben was sleeping. After carefully applying makeup and getting zipped up in a strapless lacy and bead covered ivory gown, I took the steps on my father's arm across the lawn of the County Line to marry my best friend. We feasted on ribs, wheat bread, potato salad, pie and cake. Rather than whisk away to a undisclosed honeymoon location, that night we went swimming with family and friends till late in the evening.
The day after our wedding, we attended the annual Memorial Day picnic in our parent's neighborhood. People that had watched me grow up honored our celebration by pelting rice at us as we were driven around in a souped up lawnmower and trailer. This year, we attended the picnic but avoided the demonstration. And yes, we ate our wedding cake that my mother had hid in the freezer.
Yesterday, we talked about how it felt to have been married for a year. We don't feel any different, we don't look any different and things have only gotten better over time. Our family and friends called to congratulate us all during the weekend, which made it that much special. It was amazing enough they'd done so much after the wedding; to remember a year after was even more darling.
Instead of celebrating by taking a fancy trip or buying each other fancy gifts, we'll celebrate by going out to dinner sometime. However, I think our celebration has lasted all weekend. While other couples may choose to celebrate with extravagant gestures, our speciality is sweetening the simplicity of life. We grill salmon, take long afternoon drives, snuggle on the couch and sit on the porch talking while the sunsets. We don't need a five star restaurant and fancy show tickets to make us happy. Our entire relationship has been defined by the constant of doing what was right for us. I'm happy to report that hasn't changed. We're crazier about each other than we ever were before.
Happy Anniversary, honey. Here's to many more to come!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Puppies, puppies, puppies

Ace the Chihuahua

While most girls this age start to dream about tiny socks and the smell of baby powder, I spend my afternoons dreaming of milk bones and pee pads. I am puppy crazy. It's official.

Here's ten reasons to show I've moved beyond being puppy "crazy" to fanatical":

1) Ben and I talk more about when we're getting puppies than our children. We discuss everything from the type of puppy to what kind of clothes they're going to wear. This is almost a nightly discussion. Yes, he still likes me. I'm not sure why.

2) Reading websites like is enough to send me into a depression. I have to play sad depressing songs, stare at the lack of cushy puppy beds in the kitchen and cry.

3) Vet commercials on T.V. make me tear up, squeal and tear up in that order. A fifteen-minute-nagging and whining session at Ben follows.

4) My buddy Libby and I spend our afternoons e-mailing pictures of puppies back and forth to each other. We get so depressed we have to go to the gas station across the street and get a cookie. She too, is puppyless by not her choice.

5) When people are walking their dogs, only a small shred of dignity keeps me from launching myself at their animals just so I can feel their soft puppy fur and smell their stinky puppy breath.

6) The cat at work hates me because I told her she'd never be as cute as a dog.

7) I've tried to bribe Ben to come to work and sit under my desk like a dog. I even offered to feed him jerky.

8) When I asked my boss if I could have dogs at work, he laughed. Then he realized I wasn't joking.

9) At the grocery store, I longingly walk through the dog aisle and sigh.

10) I keep toys at my house for other people's dogs, even if they only come over once a year.

It never used to be this bad until I went to college and was separated from the Babies. Once I was surrounded by a roommate with a panty-sniffing Chihuahua and sorority girls with adorable Yorkies, Chihuahuas and fuzzy little creatures, I became dog crazy. At first, Ben was able to stave me off by the fact we didn't have a backyard. Once we got a house, I wanted dogs. Then he was able to distract me with the fact I might got a job. Once I got a job, I resigned myself I'd have to wait five lonely years for my two dogs.

It's not like I want a lot. I just want two small dogs, one to be a Chihuahua to sit in my lap while I write. We'll take walks, we'll play, we'll snuggle on the couch. Unfortunately, small dogs need lots of love and attention and I can't bring them to work. So I had resigned myself to not seeing a furry face staring up at me for five long years.

Now, it's gotten to a point to where I see dogs everywhere. They're on the mousepads at Wal-Mart, the toilet paper packages, the junk mail I get, even my television shows. They're on the refrigerator, in parking lots and sometimes even at work. I see women carrying them into shops, walking them along streets or snuggling with them in parks. When I saw a white highland terrier puppy at the petting zoo, I wanted to take it home. I carried it in my arms for an hour. Ben reluctantly had to detach the puppy from my clutches and take me away.

While I wait in my prison of time, I must find other ways to serve my love for puppies. Until I can have two fuzzy furrballs of my own, I'll simply obsess over other peoples dogs. Childless people obsess over other children, I obsess over other dogs. The good news? I get to see the Babies tomorrow! (If I'm lucky, they may "accidentally" wind up in the car ride back to the Pond.)

The Babies in their favorite wagon

Writing update

Writing update: At first, I was going to do an entire post on the writing conference, where I met my good buddy Emma ( Then, being the superstitious weirdo I am, I worried I might jinx myself if I talked about all the awesome things that happened. Regardless, I had a wonderful time and met some awesome people. I've also done nothing but edit and re-format my book to submit to a few publishing houses. If you happened to walk by the Pond and see a crazed looking figure through a window blearily hitting "enter" for hours at five in the morning and late at night, that was me. But now everything is done, so I can start work on my second novel, finish "Miss Pickles" and edit my collection of short stories. Hooray! (Tired yet? I'm just getting started!)

It may sound cliche, but I'm really hoping my career as a novelist takes off. There's so many stories and ideas bouncing around in my brain, I feel as though my fingers can't fly over the keyboard fast enough to tell them more. There's so much I want to do, so much I want to say. I think I could write for a million years, and I'd still have another few pages to fill.

Stay tuned for these fun entries, dear Invisible Friends:
  • Puppies, puppies, puppies!
  • Happy 1 year anniversary
  • Ben and the frog

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Memorial Marriage

In somewhat of a tribute to my upcoming wedding anniversary and losing my newlywed status, I wrote this for the medical weekly paper I edit/write for. While this is not my official anniversary tribute ( you didn't think you were getting off that easily were you?), I thought it'd be a nice little preview for Memorial Day to get you through the rest of the week. Further mushiness to come, and also a review of the conference I attended Saturday (where I met a new writing buddy!!!)

Memorial Marriage Day

For people outside the military, Memorial Day is a time to eat barbecue and celebrate with family and friends. For people in the military, it’s a time to reflect on the sacrifices they and their colleagues have made for their country. For me, it’s a time to reflect on the reasons I married my husband, and the blessing that I had the freedom to do that.

Early summer is wedding season. For some reason, the sun and warm nights attract brides to the aisle like lightening bugs to a lantern. This year I’ll celebrate my first wedding anniversary on Memorial Day weekend. The one thing I’ve learned, both from our wedding and upcoming anniversary, is that the world doesn’t revolve around us. Family and friends aren’t dropping everything to commemorate the day we exchanged rings. Rather than the weekend being about our marriage, it’s about family and remembering those who have died to protect and cherish the ideals of our country. My anniversary is just icing on the idealistic cake.

If you think about it, the freedom to get married to whomever we want is one of the most overlooked freedoms in this country. In other societies, parents arrange marriages when the children are getting their umbilical cords cut and sign binding contracts. In other societies, class and social standing dictate who you marry. Marriage has been used to negotiate political treaties, settle business agreements and even provide food for a family.

“My youngest daughter for 9 goats? Sure I’ll trade! How soon can you take her?”

In the past, brides often never saw their families of origin again after the wedding. They were forced to stay with their husband’s family and struggle to find their place between the established matriarchal members. Brides who ran from abusive or degrading marriages were often dragged back to their husbands and punished, even by their own blood. After their husband died, they were usually exiled from the family and or forced to marry a relative out of necessity.

In other countries, marriage is just a rite of passage. For example in Japan, couples are chosen by their parents and have children to continue the family name. These couples seek love through affairs through both sides, an action approved by society as long as it is kept discreet.

In the good ol’ US, we can marry whoever we please. Sure we might be disappointed that our swarthy Lothario morphs into a bald sports addict with a beer gut, but we had the ability to choose him. We have the option to marry for love, and to marry as many times as we want. We can marry our high school sweetheart or the person that said nice things to us in the bar last night.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, it’s true many marriages end in divorce, but at least we had the freedom to choose our mistakes. Not only did we have the freedom to choose to get married, but we have the freedom to end it. Then if we want, we can walk down the aisle all over again. In fact, one of the greatest silent freedoms is that we don’t even have to get married at all! Couples can legally live together in a home without ever sliding rings on each other’s fingers. They have the freedom to decide to be in love without marriage, and even have children together. Whether or not you agree, that’s their right. And that’s the right many people fight for.

So if you see a soldier or veteran on Memorial Day, stop and thank them. Not only have they given you the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, they’ve given you the freedom to choose who you love. Not only do you have the freedom to choose your spouse, but you have the freedom to choose well or poorly, never or often. And that’s a right worth fighting for.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Blonde Duck and the Ben Enrage the Apple Store Genises

First of all, let's get this out of the way. The "geniuses" at the Apple Store are a bunch of arrogant, presumptuous five hour employees who think that a over-inflated title makes them more brilliant than the professionals frequenting their store for over-priced products. I got two words for these so-called geniuses: Bite me.

On Sunday, Ben and I visited "Lock and Terror"- Ben's name for our upscale shopping "experience" near our house. It's not a collection of stores (mall)--it's a shopping "experience." As we walked toward the store, I went over the list of questions in my head for the "geniuses". Walking into the modernly designed Apple Store, I stood and watched as Ben zeroed in on a laptop. Teenagers were looking up Kelly Clarkson pictures and movie times on the cheap($1100) table of laptops. Twenty somethings and college students were trying to ask intellectual-sounding questions while they investigated the higher priced laptops to the brilliant Apple employees standing around.

These brilliant employees looked like slightly altered clones of each other in their matching t-shirts, khakis, bad shoes and gel-laden hair. They wore ipods around their neck in a leather pouch and consistently adjusted their square black glasses.

"Can I help you?" a pasty face loomed in my peripheral vision, staring at me hopefully through his smudged square glasses. I instantly disliked him--not just because his shirt said "one-to-one". One look in his eyes, and I knew he was an Apple disciple: a mindless clone brainwashed to believe that Apple was superior technology that only Gods could understand--and we as consumers were minions.

"Sure," I said, glaring at him. "What's the square root of pi?"

"Excuse me?" he said, taken aback.

"You're a genius right?" I challenged. His chest immediately puffed out with pride. "What's the square root of pi?"

"Would you like to look at our baseline laptop?" he sneered at me.

"Would you like to tell me what the square root of pi is?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. He turned to Ben, who was investigating the laptop. "Can I help you sir?" he asked, with a welcoming smile.

"No," Ben said bluntly, not even looking at him. I smirked as he stormed off, and began to play with a laptop myself.

A few minutes later, another "genius" tried his luck. "May I help you?" Apple Clone 2 asked.

"Why do you call yourselves geniuses?" I asked.

"Excuse me?" he asked.

"Well, are you a genius?" I asked. "What was your SAT score?"

"Uhhh"--he responded. "Considering you can't come up with a witty retort, I'm guessing that's a low score. So why do you call yourselves geniuses? Isn't that a bit presumptuous?"

"Uhhhh"-- he eloquantly retorted. Then his eyes widened in alarm when he saw what Ben was doing on the screen. "Can I help you sir?" he asked, staring helplessly as Ben checked out the specs the way tech people do.

"No," Ben said bluntly. Apple Clone 2 backed away slowly and disappeared in a sea of blue shirts, teenagers, entitled adults and parents wielding credit cards. As we moved onto the computers, Apple Clone 1 reappeared.

"Yes, that is a computer," he said, grinning broadly. Glaring at him, I said, "Did you figure out the square root of pi yet?" Ben continued to fiddle with the computer as I continued to look around the monitor/computer. "I promise you ma'am, that is a computer."

"I'm looking for the USB drive," I snapped. He pointed to it and smirked before waltzing off proudly. Narrowing my eyes at him, I glared at him.

As we floated through the store, I was amazed by the amount of people buying Apple products. People were plucking ipods and Nanos and laptops like there was no tomorrow. The "genius bar" was hopping with desperate people waving products in the "genius's" faces.

Rolling my eyes, I resigned myself to fiddling with the laptop while I waited on Ben to finish investigating. Suddenly, a screeching alarm that sounded like a thousand cats screaming in agony sounded and Ben began waving his arms wildly.

"I just wanted to see the magnet in the cord," he yelled to me over the noise. Everyone in the store stopped and glared at Ben, who was trying to fix the noise himself. Apple Clone 2 was still talking to the customer next to me, apparently pretending the noise would disappear.

Finally, a few Apple Clones turned off the noise. Ben tried to explain that it wasn't his fault the magnetic cord he was so curious about was tightly attached to the alarm cord, and that if he simply wanted to see if it would reconnect the way the commericials said it would. The yuppies, overzealous parents and arrogant adults continued to glare at us, and the Apple Clones were no longer enthusiastic about helping us.

We left the store and walked back to our car.

"Jerks," Ben said.

"They're dumb too," I said. "They don't even know the square root of pie."

Not only did we succeed in irritating the yuppies, we managed to irritate the Apple Clones as well. It was a good day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

You TELL me

Dear Invisible Friends,

My fragile ego has had all it can take. What do you people want from me??? Do you want pictures, more stories about my "real" life, what? Do you like the GLUG and his friends? Do you like continuing sagas? Do you like the Land of the Flowered Bed and it's furry inhabitants?

WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME??????????????????????????????????

I write and write and no comments!!! My fragile ego thrives on a few words of encouragement, disgust, whatever emotion you're feeling.

So please, tell me what you'd like to see. And leave a comment. Or twenty.

Distressingly yours,

The Blonde Duck

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Ben shook his head as he headed back to work. He didn't understand what was going on with all these bugs, and was tired of mysterious cryptic messages. He stared blankly out the windshield as he drove home, numbly pushing on the brake and gas petal. And then the very thing he feared happened.

"Excuse me," a hissing voice near his shoulder breathed, "Do you have any leaves? Dead ones, preferably."

Ben turned to see the ugliest creature he'd ever seen perched on his shoulder. The bug looked precisely like the mound left when you get dog poo on your shoe and scrape it off in the grass. It looked up at him with skewed brown slitted eyes.

"What are you?" Ben choked out, keeping his eyes on the road. "And for God's sake, get off of me! GROSS!" The HUG floated to the dashboard and blinked his slitted eyes up at him.

"I am the HUG," the bug said in a matter-of-a-fact tone. "The Huge Ugly Garumph. Of course, you discovered the ugly part already."

"Sorry," Ben said, still in shock. "It's just your looks are....quite striking."

"I know," the HUG said. "My name is Harry, by the way. Harry the Huge Ugly Garumph."

"What's a garumph?" Ben said.

"And entirely different sub class of extraordinarily ugly bugs called VUB," HUG said.


"Very ugly bugs," the HUG said.

"Don't you get tired of being told you're ugly?" Ben asked. "Doesn't it hurt your feelings?"

"My looks are what they are," the HUG said, shrugging. "You can't change what is. Only how you view it."

"My wife has a stuffed animal named Hairy," Ben said.

"No relation," the bug said quickly. Ben studied the horrifying creature carefully. As dreadful as the creature looked, he was really quite kind and comforting. It was like a warm cup of soup on a cold winter's day or warm sunshine on one's face. Ben was starting to like the bug. When Ben said as much, the creature smiled.

"So you knew already," the HUG said.

"Knew what?" Ben said in frustration. "I'm so sick of you bugs! I'm tired of being visited at work, in the car, while I'm eating. I'm surprised one of you hasn't tried to climb up my butt while I was on the toilet or something."

"Even we have more dignity than that," the HUG said, "And we live on poo."

"Unnecessary," Ben muttered. "Anyway, what am I supposed to learn?"

"You already have," the HUG said. "My job is done."

"But you just got here," Ben said in confusion. "Don't leave yet. I don't understand."

"As you are meant to," the HUG said, smiling slightly. "There are many things in life that you will not understand. This is just one of them." With that, he disappeared into the depths of the car.

Ben stared in front of him, shaking his head. "I'm so sick of these bugs," he muttered. "All their weird quotes and philosophy. Whatever happened to bugs that just want to suck your blood, bite you or live in your house?"

"I'll suck your blood!" a buzzing mosquito squealed happily. Ben squashed him when the bug landed on his arm, and the bug cried, "EEEEEEEEEEEE!" as he was wiped into a napkin.

"I didn't mean talking blood sucking bugs," Ben rolled his eyes. As he pulled onto his street, he began to relax. The three bugs had came and gone. He would be bug free for awhile now.

Ben pulled into his driveway, and froze when a familiar green blob hit his windshield.

"HELLO!!" the familiar grating voice called. "I'm BACK!"

Monday, May 14, 2007


"What's a SMUG?" Ben asked again to the silent air. Grumbling to himself, he went back to work. A few minutes later, his stomach started growling. He ignored it. His stomach growled louder. He furrowed his brow and kept working. Finally, the yowls and bellows of anguish from his stomach caused him to close down his computer and head to the cafeteria for lunch.

"I'm going to get a Manwich," he thought to himself excitedly as he walked quickly down the hallway. "A sandwich stuffed with turkey and cheese with just the right touch of mustard--it'll be so good!"

His mouth watering, he watched as the cafeteria lady made his sandwich and placed it in a Styrofoam container. He picked up some chips and headed for a table. Sighing contently, he opened the Styrofoam container and picked up his sandwich. Right as he began to take a bite, a small head burst out between layers of the folded turkey.

"STOP!" the small head squealed. Ben jerked his hands back and stared at his sandwich. A small red head with black swiveling antennas was staring at him disapprovingly. As he watched in horror, the bug crawled out of his sandwich and flew to the table.

"You were going to eat me!" the bug accused.

"No," Ben corrected, "I was going to eat my sandwich. It's not my fault you were in my sandwich." Grossed out, he sighed and put the sandwich down. "I just wanted my Manwich," he muttered to himself. "I can't even eat a damn sandwich without a bug ruining it."

"Well excusssssssssssseeeeeeeeeee me," the bug snapped, glaring back at Ben. "You're just the most mistreated person ever."

"You were in my sandwich!" Ben cried before lowering his voice. "Do you know how gross that is?" The bug sighed and rolled his eyes. "Look at the seat next to you," he said. Ben looked to the seat next to him and saw a Styrofoam container. "There's your sandwich," the bug said. "Eat that."

Ben stared at the box warily. "Huh?" he asked inelegantly. "What are you talking about?"

"I switched the boxes while you were getting napkins," the bug said impatiently. "It wasn't your real sandwich. I just wanted to make a dramatic entrance."

"And who would you be?" Ben asked, warily feeling like he already knew.

"I'm the SMUG!" the bug bellowed happily. "I'm the Scarlett Moth-eating Unbalanced Giant."

"You're not a giant," Ben said, peering down at the tiny insect. "And you don't eat moths. You're smaller than them."

"How do you know I don't magically grow and consume them whole?" the SMUG asked coyly.

"How can you eat something bigger than you?" Ben asked.

"You eat a cow and that's bigger than you," the SMUG said.

"True," Ben admitted.

"Besides," the SMUG said, grinning. "Moths are quite delicate and shatter whenever you touch them into a clumpy powder. They taste like chocolate, actually. You should try one sometime."

At Ben's disgusted look, the SMUG rolled his eyes. "Fine," the SMUG sighed. "I'll tell you what I'm supposed to tell you."

"What is that?" Ben asked as he ate his sandwich. The SMUG flew to the tip of his nose and stood dramatically, his antennas going everywhere. "Cheese," he said, nodding his head.

"Cheese?" Ben sputtered. "What does that mean?"

"It means cheese," the SMUG said decisively. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have some moths to eat."

As Ben ate his sandwich, he wondered if he would ever learn what was going on.

To be continued..............

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ben and the BUG

Ben stared in horror at the thick white grub lounging on his keyboard. The grub was squinting with his tiny black eyes at the V key, reaching out with his tiny arms as hard. Suddenly, he stopped and looked at Ben.

"Are you talking to me?" he asked in delight.

"No, I'm talking to the other disgusting blob on my keyboard," Ben snapped. "Who do you think I'm talking to?"

"You think I'm disgusting?" the BUG beamed, clutching his tiny hands.

"You're a big, white slimy blob. You look like a maggot. Of course I think you're disgusting!"

The BUG slid slowly towards him. "Oh that's marvelous! I'm not used to having people notice me! This must be how maggots feel all the time!"

Ben looked around carefully before lowering his voice. "People notice maggots?"

"Of course they do!" the BUG said, sliding off the keyboard. "They're the models of the bug world." Ben shuddered and sat down at his desk. He closed his eyes and tried to relax. "If I count to ten, there won't be a disgusting white talking blob when I open my eyes," he thought. "It's just a hallucination. I've been working too hard. It's a spot of icing from a donut some slob dropped on my desk."

Slowly, Ben opened his eyes. The BUG was beaming up at him. He closed them again.

"Go away," he muttered. "I'm at work. If people hear me talking to you, I'll get fired."

"No you won't," the BUG sighed sadly. "No one notices me anyway. And why should they?"

"What are you talking about?" Ben whispered. "How can someone not notice you?"

"I don't quite remember," the BUG said, crinkling his brow. "I'm the Befuddled Undistinguished Grub."

"Great," Ben muttered to himself. "I have an obnoxious jabbering GLUG on my windshield and a insecure grub on my desk. My wife is going to have a field day with all these new critters."

A fly flew by, and Ben slapped at him irritatingly. The BUG stretched himself and waved his tiny arms frantically in an effort to get the fly's attention. Amazingly, Ben watched as the fly buzzed around his plants, computer and books. He flew within a centimeter of the grub, right between his waving arms.

"He didn't notice you," Ben whispered in amazement.

"Didn't notice who?" asked BUG, who was distracted by a crumb on the desk. "Oh, right. I know. Isn't it depressing?" he sighed heavily. "No body notices me. I even threw myself in hot pink paint once, and even the Gay Gadflys didn't pay attention to me." The BUG sighed listlessly as he stretched out in front of Ben's keyboard. Ben was tired of insecure and dramatic bugs, and wanted to pretend his life was somewhat normal.

"What did you have to tell me?" Ben whispered impatiently. "About what?" the BUG looked at him in confusion. "I don't know, you're supposed to tell me something because I've been chosen!"

"I don't remember," the BUG said in confusion. "I didn't know I was supposed to say anything." Ben rolled his eyes and gently rolled the BUG over to the corner, where he sighed to himself regularly. Ben had forgotten he was there when he bellowed a few hours later, "I remember!"

"What?" Ben muttered, rubbing his right ear.

"Things are not always what they seem," the BUG said proudly. "Like me. I'm really quite a charming fellow, rather like the GLUG. Wouldn't you say?" He blinked his tiny black eyes at Ben.

"Uhhh," Ben said. The BUG sighed. "Anyway, it's the SMUG's turn," the BUG said as he slunk off into a vat of paper. "You'll meet him next."

"What's a SMUG?" Ben asked. He was met with silence.

To be continued................

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The GLUG, the BUG, the SMUG and the HUG

Ben was driving to work one morning when a familiar green face plastered itself against his windshield with a loud thump.

"HELLLO!!!" a familiar voice bellowed. "I'm back!"

"Hello," Ben said unenthusiastically, carefully watching the road. The GLUG stared at him with his jaw dropped. "Excuse me!" he bellowed, waving most of his thin green arms as he clutched onto the windshield wiper. "Don't you remember me?"

"How could I forget?" Ben asked dryly. "You're the GLUG."

"I'm the only GLUG," the GLUG said arrogantly. "I'm the only Ginormous Lime-Green Unusual Gnat in the world!"

"That's not possible," Ben said, momentarily distracted from glaring at the other drivers. "You have to be related to someone. You have to have brothers and sisters. You couldn't just have appeared out of the sky."

"How do you know?" the GLUG asked, grinning idiotically at him. "Maybe I'm the GLUG of your dreams!"

"More like my nightmares," Ben muttered.

"I'm ignoring that," the GLUG said, inspecting under his windshield wipers. "There's no tasty leaves!" he howled in anguish, glaring at Ben pointedly.

"Sorry," Ben said, who did not sound sorry at all. "I washed my car."

"No matter," the GLUG said, a slow grin spreading over his face. "You've been chosen."

"Chosen for what?" Ben stared at him in alarm.

"You've been chosen," the GLUG said ominously. "You'll meet the Three Bugs of Knowledge, who will guide you on your way."

"My way to where?" Ben asked nervously.

"I don't know," the GLUG shrugged. "I'm guessing not to work, because you just missed your exit!"

Ben swore and got into the turn lane as the GLUG laughed manically. He laughed so hard, his thin green tummy moved faster than a hummingbird's wing. "Oooh, a fly!" he cooed, delicately plucking it from the windshield wiper and popping it in his mouth. "The first bug to visit you will be the BUG."

"How can a bug named BUG visit me?" Ben said in a sarcastic toned. "Well it's better than being named Mildred or Zoe, don't you think?" the GLUG said, shuddering at the thought of the horrible names. "Ta-ta now!" And with that, the GLUG floated away in the breeze.

Disturbed by the idea by meeting more talking bugs, Ben went to work and headed to his desk. When he sat down, he saw something by his computer monitor that made him gasp.

"I'm going crazy!" he whispered to himself. "I've gone mad! I'm loonier than Miranda's father! This can't be.....can it?"

To be continued.................

The Prom, continued.

*When we left our friends in the Land of the Flowered Bed, Pumble was calling Ladybug to cancel going to the prom with her with an elaborate lie.....................***

"Ladybug?" Pumble said tentatively into the phone. "Hi, it's Pumble."

"Hey Pumble!" she cried, obviously excited. "How are you? Ready for the prom?"

"Yes well about that, I have something I think you should know"--

"I'm so excited about it,"Ladybug interrupted, happily babbling. "All my friends are going, and they all have dates too. It's going to be a blast! We'll go to the dance and eat and maybe even catch a late movie afterwards!"

"Yes, about the dancing thing"--

"Won't that be funny if we're all sitting there in our prom clothes watching a movie?" Ladybug laughed into the phone. "I have to tell you Pumble, it means a lot to me you're going. It's going to be something I never forget. It'll be a true night to remember--not one of those cheesy high school movie ones. So what did you want to say?"

"Uh, nothing," Pumble lied. "Just that I may have a white corsage instead of red."

"White's my favorite color with red!" Ladybug squealed. "Well, besides black of course. I'll pick you up at 8 p.m. on Thursday!"

"8 p.m.", Pumble echoed. "See you then!" He hung up the phone and turned to look at his friends. Hairy and the seals were beaming. Cookies was glaring and sputtering so hard feathers were flying off his face.

"What was that?" Cookies bellowed. "That was crap! Not only did you agree to go, you agreed to go get her a corsage! What is your deal??"

"I just couldn't lie to her," Pumble said miserably. "I'd rather humiliate her than break her heart. She's so excited."

"Well I'm proud of you," Hairy said, and the seals nodded enthusiastically. "That was a very honorable thing you did."

"That was a very dumb thing you did," Cookies corrected. "That was the stupidest move you could have made."

"Well," Pumble said grimly. "I guess we better get me a tux and a corsage."

The next few days were a blur. Hairy sewed Pumble a tux from a black and white t-shirt in the boy's closet. Pumble admitted he looked quite stunning in it. They created a white corsage from toilet paper and feathers from the ducks in the spa, who were quite pleased with the result.

"It's stunning!" the first duck cried.

"Breathtaking and marvelous!" the second duck cried.

"It looks like an onion, sorta," the third duck said, cocking his head to get a better look.

Finally, the night came. Pumble stood ready and dressed, the corsage clutched in his trembling hand. The bell began to toll eight. At the last bell, the Ladybug appeared at the window.

"Ready?" she said cheerfully as she came in. "Oh Pumble, you look marvelous!"

"Thanks," he said awkwardly as he extended the corsage. "I mean, you look good too. I mean beautiful. Anyway, here's your corsage."

"It's beautiful!" she cried, bending down to smell it. She stood up and smiled. "It smells lovely!"

"I told you the perfume was a good idea," the first duck whispered to the second.

"It makes it like a real flower," the second duck said to the third.

"It still looks like an onion," the third duck said to no one in particular.

Hairy took photos while Pumble and the Ladybug posed in front of the Spa. The seals clapped happily as they showed off their outfits, and sighed dreamily as Pumble escorted Ladybug to the car with all her friends.

"You're still dumb!" Cookies shouted from his perch on the dresser. "But have a good time anyway!"

"What does he mean, that you're dumb?" Ladybug asked. Pumble paused before he opened the door to the limo.

"Ladybug, I have a confession," he said. "I almost cancelled our date tonight."

"Why?" the Ladybug cried, shocked. "Don't you like me?"

"I like you a lot," Pumble stuttered, his face turning red. "See, that's why I almost cancelled. I didn't want to embarrass you at your prom."

"How could you possibly embarrass me?" the Ladybug said kindly. Pumble whispered his shameful secret in her ear and lowered his head, ready to hear her send him back inside.

"Oh Pumble!" the Ladybug grinned. "We don't dance at the prom! You shouldn't have worried at all!"

"What do you do at the prom, then?" Pumble asked curiously, relieved he wouldn't have to dance.

"We eat, take pictures and do what Ladybug's do best," Ladybug said as she opened the door to the limo. As she stepped in, she turned and gave him a wicked grin. "We fly!"

***Pumble and Ladybug want you to know they had a wonderful time. Pictures will be available soon!***

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Don't Fence Me In

It didn't take me long to figure out I was not like everyone else. Now, most people love to talk about how they're special, unique and just out of this world. They are always the greatest singers who have not been given a chance (that's only true in the my sister-in-law's case), a brilliant actor whose talent has been shunned or a star athlete who's sprained ankle kept him out of the big leagues. Very few people are actually different. Considering I come from a very unusual person (my father's picture is next to the word weird in the dictionary) and have married a fascinating person with his own intriguing family, my chances at normalcy were always shot.

And that's just the way I like it.

I don't want to be forced into polos and pearls, chained to the greatest boutiques and pressured into making friends with women named Kristi, Courtney and Lindsay. I don't want people to think I'm weird for wanting to wear an old prom dress to a hamburger restaurant just because it's fun. The last thing I want is to morph into some 9 to 5 yuppie who's life revolves around sports and social events. You know who I'm talking about. The khaki-short and loafer wearing men who you know were the popular crowd in high school and their "frosted" haired wives all wearing the same tunics and white capri pants with platform sandals draped in the same turquoise jewelry. There isn't a smidgen of personality in their DNA, nor in their equally boring children.

And I'm tired of trying to be forced into that.

Everywhere you go, people offer you two choices: Extreme A or Extreme B. Extreme A is a mindless drone of idiots, while Extreme B is a rebellious drone of idiots who rebel mindlessly.

I feel as if though I am the lone calf outside the gates on a cattle ranch sometimes. My creativity is bursting through every space in the gate, yet I'm forced to sit behind the same red bucket and eat the same cud, day after day. I'm not normal, and I never will be. Stop trying to make it that way. I don't want to work overtime because it's "the right thing to do". No, I don't like re-writing press releases when I could be writing original pieces. No, I really don't like selling out cover shots to advertisers or being pressured to do so because they "pay my paycheck." I don't like boring pictures, I don't like boring stories, and I really don't like boring editorials. Who cares if I insulted people--that's the point! My job is to entertain and raise thought--no one cares about boring thoughts, only interesting ones.

After giving me creative freedom, stripping it away article by article is just weathering my soul. The fingers that once flew freely across the keyboard are now bitterly stabbing the keys, and the social drama and rumors are enough to give me a headache.

Creativity is about designing a different type of box, not forcing everyone into the same one. Don't fence me in.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pumble and the Prom

As he slowly opened his eyes from his normal afternoon nap, Pumble found himself staring at the Ladybug. He immediately sat up.

"Oh, hello!" he said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Pumble hadn't seen the Ladybug since Easter. He had been missing her, and wondering why she hadn't visited. "I'm glad you're here! I missed you! Er--" his cheeks burned with embarrassment. "I mean, I missed seeing you."

The Ladybug just smiled. "I missed you too, Pumble. I came to ask you something."

"Would you like some ice cream?" Pumble stuttered out. He wrung his hands nervously. He wasn't very good with girls. There weren't many in the Land of the Flowered Bed.

"No thanks," the Ladybug smiled. "Actually, I wanted to know if you would go to prom with me."

"Uh--" Pumble tried to remember what a prom was. Was it a dessert? No, you couldn't go to a dessert. It had to be some kind of event. Maybe it was a fancy word for rollerskating. He loved rollerskating. "Sure!" he blurted out, cursing himself he didn't think to ask what a prom was.

"Great!" the Ladybug beamed. "I'll pick you up Thursday night. We're taking a limo with some of my other friends. You've got a tux, right? If not, I know some places you can rent one! I'm so excited. Oh, my dress is red by the way."

"Uh, ok," Pumble said, trying to figure out what that meant. "So, do I need to bring anything?"

"Just the basics," she smiled. "We'll have a great time! I'll see you Thursday!"

"See you Thursday," Pumble said, scratching his head as he flew away. After she'd left, Cookies looked at him in horror.

"Do you know what you just did?" he gasped. "Agreed to go to a prom, if you must know," Pumble said arrogantly, throwing his head in the air. "All sophisticated people go to proms."

"Do you even know what a prom is?" Cookies snorted.

"Sure," Pumble said, trying to act like everyone knew what a prom was. "It's a fancy rollerskating party."

Cookies laughed so hard he fell off his perch on the dresser. Hairy had to turn off his movie until he stopped laughing, and the seals laughed and barked as they clapped their flippers.

"What?" Pumble demanded, looking around. He hated being laughed at. "What's so funny?"

"You idiot," Cookies said, wiping his eyes. "The prom is a dance where you get all dressed up and take tons of pictures and eat dinner and go out afterwards."

"Do you have to dance at the dance?" Pumble asked, fear filling his eyes.

"Duh!" Cookies exclaimed. "That's what a dance is for!" He raised his eyebrows in surprise as Pumble threw himself to the floor in a dramatic swoop.

"This is terrible!" Pumble's muffled voice leaked through the carpet. "This is horrible! This is distressing beyond belief! An utter tragedy! This is the worst thing that's ever occurred in human kind."

"Dramatic, much?" Cookies muttered as Hairy glared at him.

"Pumble, what's wrong?" Hairy asked soothingly.

"I can't dance," Pumble answered. Hairy smiled, and the seals wiggled their tails in anticipation. They loved to dance.

"Sure you can," Hairy said encouragingly. "Everyone can dance. It just takes some practice."

"No, I really can't dance," Pumble said.

"Yes, you can," Hairy said dismissively.

"No, I can't," Pumble said, climbing to his feet. "And I'll prove it."

Pumble switched on the CD player and turned it to a song. He began to dance and wiggle to the music.

"See you're dancing!" Hairy cried. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"

"Wait for it," Pumble advised. As he continued to wiggle, golden liqued began to squirt from his stinger. It flung against the walls, the pictures and Cookies.

"Oh, gross!" Cookies exclaimed, looking down at his stomach in disgust. "This stuff smells, and it's sticky!"

"See what I mean?" Pumble said, sitting down with a miserable expression. "I can't go to the prom. I'll ruin Ladybug's red dress. I don't even know why she told me it was red anyway. Or why I have to wear a tux."

"She told you it was red so you'd buy her a matching corsage," Hairy explained. At Pumble's panicked expression, Hairy suggested, "Why don't you just call and tell her the truth?"

"He can't do that," Cookies interjected. "He needs an elaborate story."

"That's lying," Hairy glared at him. "If she catches him, she'll never speak to him again!"

"That's only if he gets caught," Cookies said, waving his wing dismissively. "Who's going to find out? Now, what we need is a complicated story."

After they talked for a few minutes, the seals brought Pumble the phone. They sniffed as he took it, to show their disapproval of their lies. Pumble stared at the phone.

"I hope she doesn't hate me," he said glumly as he punched in the numbers. "I really like her."

"She'll get over it," Cookies rolled his eyes. "It's just a prom."

Pumble's eyes brightened as Ladybug answered. "Hello, Ladybug?" he said. "I have something to tell you...."

To be continued...........