February 14th, 2013

Castoreum, you say?I’ve been getting some complaints about my lack of update to my blog. People: I’m writing! Just not my blog. So once you’ve read this blog remember: You. Asked. For. It.

As such, I did run across a couple of things this week that I cannot let go unremarked upon.

First of all: I was transported back to junior high or high school by a sneaky social network marketing ploy. I won’t call out any names but I received notification that I was one of their Top 10% Viewed pages for 2012.

I thought: Awesome! People like me, really, really like me (apologies to Sally Fields).

Then I go out to my “network” and see some people received notification that they were in the “Top 1%.”

Great. I’m a loser again.

Oh well: everyone needs a stretch goal, right??

Seriously: tell me – did everyone get the Top 10% or 1%??

Is this nothing but a dastardly plan to make me feel all warm and fuzzy so I’ll “upgrade” to a premium account….which of course has a monthly fee attached to it?

Jaded much?

But this silliness is nothing compared to my most favorite happening this week.

Did you know that when you read “natural flavors” in food products (meaning non-food, but processed junk to appear to be food) you could be ingesting Beaver anal gland juice?

Oh yes: you read that correctly: Beaver anal gland juice.

I kid you not.

Fact is stranger than fiction. And to prove it I’ll attach two links on the Internet (the teller of all truths).

But don’t fret. Beaver anal gland juice is actually natural…..technically speaking.

Pretty sure the Beaver wasn’t too happy about it either.

The Scariest Things In Your Food

Even before I read the below blog I turned to Mr. J and said, “Who the heck licked the beaver’s butt??”

Castoreum What?

And on that topic: “Why can’t they use Cat anal gland juice?” God knows we have enough of that around our house!

How’s that for a Valentine’s Day Post??

Enjoy your vanilla creamer & raspberry yogurt people!

P.S. Not clever enough to know why the type is in two colors, or how to fix it. Boo.

Posted in Tangent |
December 30th, 2012

Year end, typically when people reflect upon what they’ve accomplished, what they didn’t, and looking forward to what they want to do differently next year.

On the accomplishment front: I wrote a first draft of a novel in 9 months. Then wrote ½ of a first draft of a novel in 30 days. Hmmmm….Something doesn’t seem quite right about that timing thing does it? Certainly the one that was written in 9 months is probably a better draft. But pumping out 55K words with my writing partner tells me that I might need to ratchet up the speed in which the ‘writing’ occurs. Novel Outline

In the month of November my partner and I basically lived together on weekends, while working our day jobs throughout the week. Luckily we both have very understanding and supportive significant others who were there to feed us, clean up dishes afterward and to keep the wine flowing when we’d about written ourselves silly. Mr J is a fantastic Cabana Boy….Or so I thought. Keep reading.

What else under the accomplishment umbrella? For a major birthday of Mr J’s I took him to London and Cardiff. We had the best time being geeky Doctor Who & Sherlock fans. IMG_2304

While in England, I reunited with an girlfriend I’d lived with in London twenty plus years ago. Seeing her again was so amazing: it was if we’d never been apart! Oddly enough, the more we talked, the more we could see our lives have run on parallel tracks.

All in all, we loved our time overseas.

What I’d give to be able to move back to the UK.

Sorry? What was that you say? Oh. Actually complete a novel, make big bucks and you can live wherever you want, you say? Well, a girl can dream.

Lastly, and to me a very important accomplishment: my sister and I threw my parents an amazing 50th Anniversary Party. Well, the real accomplishment, of course, is that they’ve been married to one another for 50 years. But nevertheless, the party was everything I could have wished it to be. The venue was amazing. Stokely Event Center

The BBQ and two (yes I mean two) wedding cakes were magnificent.

At the party, as a gift for our father, my sister and I surprised everyone by singing a capella. We haven’t sung together in 20 years and we sounded pretty darn good. People came up afterward and said, “We didn’t know you guys sang!” We didn’t either. And no one should get used to it. We’re like a one-trick pony and that one song was the trick.

What about next year? What is on my agenda?

Perhaps doing a better job of updating this blog. I’ve had several people express interest in seeing it appear more regularly. Thank you for your kind words.

Also in my near future is learning how to edit a first draft of a novel. I can (apparently) write first drafts all day long. But that alone will not get them published.

The last “To Do” is one that is in no way unique. Like most people: I need to eat better, get back into a regular exercise routine, and lose some weight.

On that note, allow me to leave you with a little sketch of real life in our household:
For background: at my parent’s 50th Anniversary party, my sister spoke eloquently of how our parents’ affection and love for each other shaped our own relationships. My father has a daily ritual of saying to my mother: “You haven’t kissed me today!” And then promptly swooping in for a kiss, which both my sister and I have incorporated into our own homes with our spouses.

Early this afternoon I turned to Mr. J and said: “Why haven’t you kissed me today?” Then it occurred to me that I’d had to run him down yesterday for a kiss too. “What is going on with you?” I demanded, in mock outrage. “Why have I had to chase you down all weekend for a kiss?”

By now he was moving in, kiss at the ready, I’m sure.

But I kept talking: “You don’t love me anymore because I’m fat. That’s not my fault!” He chuckled. I continued, “Oh wait a minute. That is my fault.”

He was now laughing but still trying to kiss me. I was still talking (imagine that). “You don’t love me anymore because my hair is thinning. That is not my fault!”

By then he was actually kissing me but he was also still LAUGHING.

I began blessing him out (while we’re both kissing) asking him “Why are you laughing when you’re kissing me?! What’s the matter with you?!”

He broke away, laughing so hard he was almost choking. “How can you be kissing me while you’re reading me the riot act??”

I blinked once. “It’s a gift!”

So…..out with a bang for 2012? Not if he doesn’t stop laughing during the kissing!

Happy New Year to everyone!

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Posted in LJ & Mr. J's Story |
February 14th, 2012

Why have I been so silent, you might wonder? Clearly writing wasn’t on Lara’s list of New Year’s Resolutions, right?

Not so. I’ve been working on my second novel. While that sounds impressive, it is not. My first one has been relegated to the electronic equivalent of a shoe box tucked under my bed.

But the new novel? I’m currently very engaged. I had the idea for it back in June 2009. But I set it aside as I was focusing on the first novel.

In November 2011 I started “hearing” the voices of the new set of characters in my head.

Watch the wisecracks that I know are circling in your collective heads right now.

It isn’t uncommon for writers to have the characters “speak” to them. It also isn’t uncommon to start dreaming about the characters or to have breakthroughs during those hazy moments before you fall asleep or right after you wake up.

I had 15,000 words when I started writing on this novel, working title: Entangled.

Since the beginning of January I’ve added another 15K to the word total and I’ve been feeling pretty proud of myself.

I went to my Writers Group last night and get rashers of grief because I’m not presenting them a cohesive story. Like: Point A, Point B, Point C….etc.

I don’t write that way. I know some people do. But I don’t. I write in scenes between two characters. Or snatches of dialogue that I suddenly hear while I’m listening to the book’s Playlist. (Yes, my most successful writings have a Playlist.) The scenes or snatches of dialogue may be miles apart in terms of where they’ll ultimately land in my novel, but hey: I’m getting the word count up there!

So last night, I’m super shocked that even though I’ve doubled my word count I’m being chastised for not writing in a linear fashion. What. The. Heck.

“Finish the novel, Lara. Commit and write it. You have a great ‘Chapter 1’. What happens next??”

Uh…..

I have a history of starting things. Then I lose interest. In my work life I’ve learned to hire someone who complements that strength. I am the idea person. I love new stuff. I can brainstorm and generate new ideas for days!

But about halfway through a project I become enamored of a ‘new shiny thing’ and I’m off.

I always make sure I hire what I call, a “Closer:”someone who loves task driven work and gets great job satisfaction out of marking things off their lists. These people are a tailor made for my own brand of Lara-ness.

Given that I can’t afford to hire a “Closer” in my personal life, I suspect my family regularly has money changing hands when I start a new project or a hobby. “How long will this one last?” “The last XYZ thing only lasted 6 months.” “Nah. This one isn’t strong. I wouldn’t give it six weeks!”

But I decided this novel was going to be different. THIS novel I was going to finish.

Someone posted a Steven Covey quote at work: “Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.”

Someone else pointed out a chapter in Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell which talked about the difference in being “interested” in something and “committed to” something.

As I examined my pile of unfinished projects (personal life, remember) I could see the difference: I’d been interested in lots of things. Committed to almost none.

Both of these messages struck a chord in me and as the old year drew to a close and a new year was fresh on the horizon, I decided I was committed to writing this novel and I was going to schedule my priorities.

Sleep and I aren’t the best of friends. I do my best sleeping between 3am and 10am, which of course , doesn’t work with most corporate jobs that begin around 8am.

It was really digging deep to arise an extra hour early to write. But I made the commitment and so far, I’ve followed through.

My word count is up. I feel very accomplished, like I’m pursuing my dream. Overall I’m just happier! All is wonderful in my world.

Until I arrived at Writing Group last night.

Really? Really? You want me to what? FINISH something? I don’t know HOW to finish a novel. If I knew how to finish a novel do you think the first one would be gathering dust on my hard drive???

I stomped out of that group last night, huffing and puffing like a mad 5 year old stomping her foot. I don’t get it. Why wasn’t what I’d been doing enough?

How dare they?

I drove home, muttering under my breath…okay, cursing loudly.

Slamming into the house, Mr. J’s eyes widened and the cats cowered a little.

“It went that well?” he asked.

Glowering at him, I relayed the evening’s events. The betrayal I felt.

“I don’t know how to finish anything!” I ranted. “It’s not like I know how to write a beginning, a middle, and an end. I mean who does that??”

“Toastmasters,” he said. “I think you’ve given a few speeches in your time.”

Not the point.

“What about some short stories? I know you’ve finished a few of those.”

Not the point.

“What about your blog? Now you can’t really argue with me on this Lara,” he said. “You put them out on the Internet. Like cockroaches and Cher: they’ll always be there.”

Okay. He might have a point.

But it isn’t like beginnings, middles and ends come naturally to me. I have struggled with endings. I’ve struggled with middles. Arrghhh.

I have suffered for my art!

Or at least (recently) I’ve yawned a lot.

“Who did these people in my writing group think they are, anyway???” I wailed, not ready to give it up.

Silence rings in our household (only because I made Mr. J mute the TV).

“Yes,” he parroted back: “Who do they think they are?” His right eyebrow raised like Mr. Spock’s and I narrowed my own eyes. We both knew the answer:

“They” would be the chick who has been PUBLISHED. THREE TIMES.

“They” would be the guy whose plays are about to be produced in one of the artistic meccas of the Midwest.

::HEAVY SIGH::

This morning I dragged out of bed. Booted up the PC. And began the following document:

“Chapter 2”

Wish me well.

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Posted in LJ's Story, Tangent |
January 6th, 2012

As I review the last 4 weeks of 2011 I gotta tell you: I’m not sorry to see it go.

You might recall from my last update that I’ve been in 24/7 pain since the end of September. When I make it to my chiropractor about the pain he says, “Your sacral-whatcha-ma-call-it is all locked up. You’ve been sitting too much. Too many plane rides, car rides, sitting all day. Stop sitting so much.”

Well that is a fantastic idea. Shame about the desk job. It kind of requires SITTING.

Shame about that scrapbooking promise. It kind of requires SITTING.

Nothing helped: not pain killers: over the counter or prescription.

Exercise was out of the question…..too painful.

I finally understood, I mean really, really understood emotional eating. The only time I wasn’t in pain was after one too many glasses of wine or when I was eating. Obviously being hung over on a school night isn’t a good plan, so I dove straight into a carton of Haagen Dazs’ dulce de leche Or a vat of all natural almond butter. Spoon anyone?

As long as I was eating: the creamy caramel-vanilla sweetness of ice cream melting on my tongue and then sliding down my throat, or the smell of roasted almond butter, creamy as well, but with a completely different mouth feel, I didn’t feel the pain.

It’s no secret that my relationship with food is troubled. I share it openly…..and unfortunately, the pain, the inability to exercise, and the only ‘painkiller’ that eased the brutal pain in my lower back and hip caused me to pack on so many pounds I found myself back in the Plus Size section of the local department store. Seriously not my favorite.

Fast forward to mid December….because it’s gotta get better, right?

One of the chilliest weeks we’ve had all season rolls around and for the first time since early Spring I feel a real bite in the air in the mornings and evenings as I walk to and from the parking lot into my work.

But luck is smiling on me.

One of the executives having a reserved underground parking spot at work was working remotely that week. He emailed me and offered up his parking spot.

“Now it’s a little tight,” he warns.

I think to myself, “Mister, I was born in a tight spot! I can wiggle my way of out anything.”

The first day in the warm, heated, cozy….yes, it was a small parking spot, my car slid into the stall and then out of at the end of my work day. No Problem.

The second day, as I’m backing out to head home, I hear a strange, grating sound. I hit the brakes! Sure enough: I’ve misjudged the 3 foot in diameter column and have just scraped my driver’s side mirror. Dangit!

The third day, I contemplated not parking in the spot. But a bevy of tired, slightly patronizing motivational quotes rolled through my head:

“Feel the fear and do it anyway”
“Get back in the saddle”
“You must do the thing you think you cannot”
“Never never never quit”

So I did. Or didn’t, as the case might be.

Within seconds I’m wedged into the stall quasi-sideways. Somehow wrapped catawampus around the concrete pole with no way in. Or out.

How could this happen, you might be wondering. “What do you mean you can’t get out? You did yesterday? I mean you got in, right?? You must be able to get out!”

Well dear readers, I was thinking all of this and much, much more.

Even better: It is 8am.

Picture this: here I am, wedged into a parking spot with no room to maneuver. Every inch I try to move: back up – scrape. Pull forward – scrape. Back up – plastic crunching. Once again the column extracts its pound of flesh from my car. (I will step away from the easy smart a$$ comment re: wishing the pound of flesh had come from elsewhere, like my behind. Okay. Okay. I just couldn’t leave it alone!).

I am in such a pickle I can’t even physically get out of the car: not on the driver’s side or the passenger’s side. Front or back.

Did I mention this was the EXECUTIVE parking lot? At 8am?? And for the plebe’s (like me) to get into the building you have to walk through the – wait for it – executive parking lot. The elevator is right next to my crammed in sideways car!

I try to remain calm. I say all the things I’m sure you’re thinking. I consider calling someone, but whom? And besides, I’m basically in a concrete bunker so I don’t even have cell coverage.

At this point I can see only two options: ram the car into the front wall and shatter the bumper, affording me enough space to maneuver. Or scrape the living hell out of the driver’s side as I back out, taking my best shot at the 3-foot concrete pole.

A few years ago I was hit in the bumper and it cost over $1,000 to fix the damage. Taking that into consideration I decide perhaps the most economical thing to do is scrape the paint off of the driver’s side. I mean how much can a little paint cost??

Here are a couple of shots of the damage.
IMG_0373IMG_0372

Mr. J called it the ghetto-mobile and said he wasn’t going to be seen in it. (Okay, that wasn’t him. It was me. I drove his car until I could get mine in the shop.)

Just so you know: I chose the wrong option. The damage to the driver’s side cost $2,000. The bumper would have been $750-$1000.

Luckily for me, I was traveling out of state for the rest of the week. I was able to get the car into the shop to be repaired while I was gone. Fantastic! Now I can lie like a dog if someone asks me at work, “Hey, did you hurt your car when you were stuck?” I’ll point toward my better than new car and say, “Heck no!”

Pride and pocketbook: they both hurt. A lot.

The following morning, because I was flying out, and cowering like a…well, cowering thing, I decided to work from home. I get ready to jump in the shower and boom: there is no water!

Huh??

“Mr. J!” I yell, “I was about to get in the shower but there is no water.”

“There is too. I just brushed my teeth.”

“In the shower?” I ask, confused.

“No. In the sink.”

I turn the faucet in the tub again. Nothing. “I can’t take a shower in the sink, darling!”

“Do I look like a plumber?”

The conversation devolved from there.

For the first time in the 10 years we’ve been in our home our pipes were frozen.

We don’t know what to do. We’re not from this far North.

And why the heck have they never frozen before? What the heck changed? And it is the beginning of the season: so trust me when I say: they will freeze A LOT.

We call a plumber. He recommends we open all doors in the house ‘for circulation’ and turn up the thermostat. He’ll be along as soon as he can get there. After turning up the heat so high that we strip down to shorts and t-shirts (hastily dug out from being packed away in September), we figure out the frozen culprit are the pipes around the jet/Jacuzzi tub we have in the master bathroom.

Mr. Plumber gets there, strips off his coveralls, wipes the sweat from his brow, looks around, and charges us $150 after telling us we have a construction problem, not a plumbing problem. “And oh by the way: you should leave the intake door open around those pipes while it is still arctic outside.”

Did I mention we have cats? Let’s leave the intake door open and encourage the cats to crawl under the floor in our house?? Uhm. No. From the moment we had opened the intake door for the plumber we’d had to lock up two cats who were bound and determined to get inside the new cool place they’ve never been before.

What were our options?

Leave the door closed and risk burst pipes until we can get someone out about the apparently vanished insulation? Or risk losing a cat to the underbelly of our house?

How about a compromise?

We do what any redneck would do: we MacGyver an apparatus designed to:
1. Let warm air flow to the pipes
2. Keep the cats from disappearing forever down the rabbit hole beneath our house

The Ghetto-fication of our household is complete:

IMG_0374

Please, please, please, 2012 – do me better than this!

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December 7th, 2011

My apologies for the lack of posts. A couple of things have side tracked me.

One afternoon at the end of September, after a 15 mile bike ride and then a nap, I woke up and could barely move. My lower back and left hip were so painful I almost threw up as I tried to get out of bed. (See? Exercise will kill you.)

24/7 pain is not a good motivator for writing. In fact, 24/7 pain isn’t a good motivator for anything.

My chiropractor said, “You’ve been sitting too much. Stop sitting so much.”

Hmmmm….

That is fantastic advice: except I have a desk job. And my favorite form of exercise involves sitting (on the bike, people. Not channel surfing!).

And I had promised my sister I would scrapbook her wedding, which also involves rather a lot of sitting. YIKES.

However, I decided it was time to make an appearance here and after the cat capers of the last couple of days I thought now was the purr-fect time.

Since Mr. J moved back he works from home and all of our cats have attached themselves to him.

I mean, I get it: He is there 24/7. I am not.

We have a white cat that lost his Mama kitty very early. When we first got him he wouldn’t clean himself so we washed him to keep his feet clean.

After a few weeks he caught on. Generally, speaking.

I get home last night and he falls over at my feet so I can pet him and I notice he has a dirty butt. I turn to Mr. J and say, “Did you see this? Why haven’t you cleaned him up?”

“I didn’t notice.”

Because this is a public forum and Mr. J might actually read this I’m NOT going to type out what I thought. We’ll just call it: CENSORED

I drop my computer bag, lunch bag, purse and shrug out of my coat and scarf. I am now on the floor with a warm washcloth cleaning a cat’s butt. Gotta love coming home after a long day!

As the evening wore on another one of the cats started choking on something. I call out to Mr. J and we move in to grab the cat. Our quickly shouted back and forth plan is to do the ‘hooked’ finger method into his mouth in an effort to dislodge whatever is blocking his airwayThis freaks the poor cat out even more than choking. He jerks his back legs free from Mr. J’s hands, jack-knifes around and catches me square in the face, bunny-kicking the crap out of my bottom lip and chin.

The good news is: that while he tried to launch himself from our grasps, he dislodged the piece of food he was choking on. The bad news: the bottom half of my face was numb.

Later, as I’m sitting there watching TV – okay, yes I was channel surfing in this instance – our girl kitty gets in Ray’s lap and starts nursing/making biscuits (whatever you like to call it) and generally settling down with an amazingly loud, happy purr.

What the heck? How is it HE gets the purring cat and all I’ve got is the dirty butted cat and the crap kicked out of me when I tried to save another cat’s life??

Mr. J points out that during the night the girl kitty sleeps on my pillow, walking right over his face to get to me.

Right…..I say. Sure, she does. “And you’re laying there awake monitoring cat activities at 3am??” This is from the guy who only needs a flat surface to fall asleep. Literally.

Fast forward a few short hours to 5am this morning. I am deep in sleepy-land when I feel a huff of warm breath on my face. Then the tickle of gentle whisker nuzzles followed up by a VERY loud purr.

And there she is: the girl kitty! Mr. J was right!

She is purring all over me, nuzzling my hand, getting comfortable on my pillow and nursing herself into a heightened state of satisfaction.

I’m lying there feeling very vindicated and far more forgiving of her furry brethren when suddenly she revs her purr into overdrive.

She gets so excited she flexes her claws, moves her paw and “BAM!” I’ve got a cat’s claw embedded in the very TENDER skin beneath my lower right eye.

Won’t that make for lovely holiday pictures??

This is fantastic. I’ve now been beaten, scratched and shat all over by the bloody cats in my house….

Tell the truth: this tale (or tail) sounds like something you hear from a mother of 3 toddlers, doesn’t it??

There is a reason I didn’t have kids! And this might be it.

Anyone want a cat for Christmas?

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Posted in Cat Capers, LJ's Story |
October 16th, 2011

“I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles”

~ Janis Ian

The only thing I have to say to this song lyric is: what the heck took her so long??

I‘d figured this out by age 14.

As I’ve shared earlier, by the age of five or six I was already overweight. I had corrective shoes and glasses, set off by mousy brown hair. Could my worldview have gotten any bleaker?

Children are little sh!ts. They are merciless in their brutality in elementary and middle school. I was always the last one picked for anything in any sort of relay race, soccer or even tether ball.

The kind comments I heard from well meaning adults were: “You’re so smart.” “You’re so funny.”

It wasn’t long until I figured out those were consolation prizes for never being a great beauty.

Fast forward to adulthood. When I turned 40 years of age I called my sister and said, “There is now never any chance that anyone is ever going to look at me and want me.”

“What do you care?” she asked. “You’re happily married.”

“Not the point,” I responded. “No stranger on the street ever wanted me. Now they never will.”

“I understand,” she said.

But how could she? She wasn’t 40.

Luckily for me, on the maternal side of my family the women really don’t come into their own until their 40s.

Somewhere after my 40th birthday I collected a bevy of 35 year olds who seemed to be attracted to me.

I credit their (potentially) misplaced adulation for allowing me to re-write my thoughts on beauty.

Could a plus-size woman be attractive?

What about a mid-forties woman?

At my sister’s wedding last month, after being made up by a professional hair and makeup stylist I was shocked at how amazing I looked. (And of course, the bride, also a 40+, was just glowing.)

Several glasses of wine into the reception I had a moment alone with my father and I kept saying, “You have such beautiful daughters…..we look amazing!”

His response was: “And you’re so smart too!”

Like the screeching scratch of a record player arm ruining your favorite album in an Allie McBeal episode, my euphoria at my own reflection in the mirror shattered.

I stared at my father like he was nuts: “What? Why the hell would I want to be smart? It is a consolation prize!! Don’t you understand??? All I’ve ever wanted is to be attractive!”

Where the heck has intelligence ever taken me?

What about being witty?? I ask you – where? Why would I ever “settle” for being these consolation prizes?

Screw intelligence! Screw a great sense of humor! Screw a kind heart! I don’t care if you ‘can’t fix stupid’ I just want my Holy Grail: I want to be beautiful!

So, with less than 5 years left on my ‘decade of gorgeousness’ (without lots of plastic surgery….if you’d like to contribute I’ll be happy to supply you with my PayPal account information) I am glad to have finally (w/only two hours of help by professionals) reached my Holy Grail: I’m finally attractive!

I ask you: what is your Holy Grail? What would it mean if you could actually achieve it?

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Posted in LJ's Story, Tangent |
October 2nd, 2011

Recently a friend of mine mentioned there is actually an “International Wear a Tiara Day.”

Huh.

Before I go off on a riff, I’d like to see a show of hands from my readers: how many of you think I’m going to decry IWATD as the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard?

Go on: raise your hand.

Well, if you thought I’m going to flip out about ridiculous anti-feminist fashions rooted in times when women were nothing more than mere possessions (unless of course you happened to be THE woman, i.e. Elizabeth I, Victoria, Mary Queen of Scots or Marie Antoinette….and obviously it worked out better for the former two than the latter two) then you’d be very, very wrong.

I love tiaras. I think we should wear them because it is Tuesday. Or Thursday.

I mean, what is not to love? A little shimmer, a little sparkle, a girl walks around feeling like a princess for a day. It is perfect.

The friend who mentioned the IWATD said that in her office they’ve decided to have an unofficial IWATD during the month of October. She went so far as to mail me and a co-worker two beautiful tiaras!

IMG_0262

As it turns out, Tiara’s aren’t just for chicks. You can get one for your favorite pooch too! (See below)

IMG_0265

I have my own little story about the power of the tiara.

My sister recently married and for her surprise bridal shower I brought a few accoutrements with me.

My sister relocated across the country so most of the people attending her shower have only known her 5-10 years.

I felt like her new friends needed a little perspective and a peek into her psyche as she grew up that only a loving sister could provide.

I sat her in the middle of the room and began my tale:

“Growing up, like many of us, my sister wanted to be a Princess.” I pulled out a pink party hat, trimmed in pink ribbons and placed it on her head.

“So it is no surprise that as she decided to marry she chose to wear a tiara on her wedding day.” With a bit of flair I pulled out a plastic tiara to replace the Princess hat.

My sister grabbed for the Princess hat and protested loudly. “I want them both.”

Of course she does.

Improvising, I slipped the tiara down quite nicely around the replaced Princess hat.

My story continued, “When I asked her if I could wear a tiara too, she quickly said, ‘Heck no!’”

One last time I reached into my bag, pulling out my final prop, a tiny Witch’s Hat with a silver bow. I slipped it on my head and turned to face the room of 20 people. “But she said I could wear this one instead.”

There was much laughter and clapping in the room until my sister cried out: “I want that one too!”

Ladies and gentlemen, there you have it: my baby sister. She wants what she has and she wants what I have too!

So endeth the lesson.

IMG_0264

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that when I arrived for the final dress fitting at the bridal shop, my sister presented me with my very own tiara to wear in her wedding. It is absolutely beautiful and fit my dress perfectly.

Of course, that doesn’t mean now that the wedding is over my new awesome tiara will never see the light of day. In fact, I may wear it whenever. Like when it is sunny. Or snowing. Or Tuesday.

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Posted in LJ's Story, Tangent |
September 14th, 2011

Admittedly, I often look at things differently but here are some of the odd things I wonder about:

In an office where you have the luxury of multiple toilet stalls, say four, as an example, once you’ve ‘chosen’ a toilet for the day do you stay true to it? How committed are you to your chosen stall? Use it only if it is free? Stand there and wait for it to be free? Go back to your desk and cross your legs hoping the next time you venture down the hall ‘your’ toilet will be free?

Here’s another: Why is it that when it is September and I’m in California 70 degrees it is a beautiful day? When it is September and I’m in Minnesota and it is 70 degrees I shiver in fear of what I know must follow.

And at the risk of offending someone it must be asked: what’s up with the drive up ATMs w/Braille?

But I’ve saved my favorite for last: who thought this through?

Who Wrote This?

Now. There are so many things wrong with this picture….not the least of which is where it is positioned. See below.

Whose Eye Level?

See the tiny red sign? See where it is? Above the eye level of the child too short to read it. And just because it must be said: he is quite possibly too young to read as well.

Who is this sign aimed at? Who is the target audience?

I mean, I’m kind of short. Should I have gotten my mommy on the phone to help me dip out the amazing ice cream toppings? Hot fudge, Caramel, chocolate chips and colorful sprinkles?

While I’m thinking about it: with that kind of smorgasbord dancing in front of my eyes what do you think is going to capture my attention? The ewy-gooey yummy goodness? Or a red sign (presumably to signify “Stop”) which either I’m: A: I’m too short to read or B: too illiterate to read.

Candy toppings will win every time….except obviously they didn’t as I’m now sharing this inept signage with you. Seriously – who sits around thinking this crap up? Do you suppose they asked anyone for input before they proceeded? Lord I hope not!

So now you have some insight into what monkey-mind thoughts roll around in my head when I’m not focused on work, Mr. J, my kittens or my family…..not necessarily (but maybe) in that order.

Random enough for you?

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Posted in LJ's Story, Tangent |
August 31st, 2011

I cannot believe what I’m about to say but here goes: I am so grateful that summer is almost over. I am sick to death of hearing employees offer up unsolicited opinions on the attire of their fellow employees as they walk by.

This is a yearly obsession corporate America falls prey to when Memorial Day rolls around and companies roll out the ‘casual’ dress code for the next 90 days.

While this is supposed to be a perk to ‘relax the dress code’ it tends to turn into a royal bitching session as coworkers debate the difference between sandals and flip flops; Capri and crop pants; sleeveless tops and tank tops.

Most companies policies state, “Flip flops are not allowed.”

What exactly qualifies as a flip flop? I’ve heard so many arguments over the years from team members trying to justify their footwear:

“But I wouldn’t wear these on the beach.”

“They are leather!”

“They have gold spangles and iridescent beads! They aren’t flip flops.”

“I wouldn’t wear these in the water. They have a velvet rose on them!”

“Flip flops are those $2.50 cheap things you wore after gym class in the shower to keep from getting athletes foot.”

“I spent $100 for these sandals! They are Birkenstocks!”

I have looked down my nose at all of these excuses. “Look,” I say. “A thong is a thong is a thong.”

They stare back at me, aghast. They look at me as if I’ve just questioned their choice in undergarments.

Good Heavens! They do think I’m questioning their undergarments!

Am I the only person that knows that a thong was a shoe long before it was dental floss worn by (most) people who should never wear them?? Particularly if said dental floss is dark navy under white pants…..but I digress. I will NOT mention cottage cheese thighs…..

I’m also sick of the “Those aren’t crop pants. Those are Capri’s.” argument.

Some dress codes state that cropped pants must not allow more than 4 inches of leg to show. Why not? Skirts can be knee length. Why can’t pants stop at the knees?

“Because we don’t allow Capri’s.”

Oi vey. Are you kidding me?

I’m suddenly having flashbacks to being twelve years old, knees cracking as they hit blocks of alternating black and tan linoleum tile, knee to knee with my fellow student, rulers placed up against my legs.

Oh wait. I never went to parochial school….must have been a movie! LOL.

Another personal favorite: sleeveless vs tank tops, or taken to an even greater extreme: spaghetti strap tops. Again: are we to get a ruler out here? How much of the shoulder can or cannot be showing?

How could someone mix up ‘sleeveless’ with ’spaghetti strap’? And more importantly why am I the person who has to explain that, “Uhm….just because there are multiple straps covering a very narrow portion of your shoulder, I still should NOT be able to see your lime green bra strap……”

On the other hand, there have been times that I’ve had to coach women about the necessity of wearing a bra. That would be a story for another time….and once again, in case you caught my last post, “Maine-ly Disappointed” this was another chick that had no business not wearing a bra.

But back to my original premise, I’ll be glad when Labor Day is here and we can all go back to wearing clothes that don’t have to be measured, shoes that aren’t mistaken for underwear and tops that also masquerade as food staples.

Frankly, I find the entire ‘summer dress code’ a flop!

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Posted in Uncategorized |
August 16th, 2011

vacationland-signRecently Mr. J and I traveled to the state of Maine for the first time. As we crossed the bridge from New Hampshire into Maine (via turnpike) we were met with a sign, “Maine – Vacationland:

Then we went past a steady stream of “Don’t’s”

Don’t drink and drive

Buckle Up or get a ticket

Don’t text and drive

Don’t park or stop your vehicle in any traffic lane or bridge

U-Turns at any point are prohibited

Pedestrians are not permitted

Hitchhikers are not permitted

After about a dozen signs of what wasn’t permitted I wasn’t feeling to Vacation-y at all.

Laughing at the crazy anal nature of their warning signs we continued on to our destination, Portland. It was the final destination of our 10-day sojourn of Vermont, New Hampshire and, now into Maine.

The temperature in Portland that day was 110 degrees: horribly out of season for Maine. As we drove into Portland, the historical district was a wonderful display of cute shops in brownstone form with narrow cobble stone streets.

As we came to our first T-junction into the historic port district I slammed on the brakes, mouth dropped open in disbelief. There, passing in front of our rental car, was a woman.

Topless.

Now, I get that it was hot. Seriously I do. But allow me to assure you that she was doing herself no favors being topless.

After making sure I hadn’t hit Ms. Boobsy-McBoobs, I turned to Mr. J and said, “Did you see that?”

“How could I miss it?” he replied. “I think my corneas have just burned out.”

I mean – seriously: this girl would have been better served to pull her boobs up and tie them around her neck like a halter top….yes, I mean a halter top – behind her NECK.

And she wasn’t old, mind you. She was way the heck younger than me. (See previous blog on my sad aging saga.)

“Should we follow her?” I asked.

“What on earth for?” Mr. J. asked.

“Because I know you’re a boob man,” I responded.

I won’t relay what he said next.

So…………let me get this saggy. I mean, straight: I can’t make a U-turn, drink and drive, text and drive or stop on the road but I can walk around Maine topless??

Of course, I do what any 45-year-old female would do (Here would be the place to stop reading if you get squeamish):

I go back to the hotel and strip off to the waist. I turn: left to right, right to left. Yep. As I thought: my boobs are way-the-hell less droopy than hers were.

I won’t include a picture of what happened next.

Let’s just say I embraced my Maine-dom. It was freeing!

The thing I know for sure: I was much less droopy than the girl. Given the surface mass her droopiness must have covered in the 100+ degrees and probably 85% humidity, that girl should have kept her top on!

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Posted in LJ & Mr. J's Story |