Thursday, September 30, 2010

Our Baby Girl

We just got the email from our adoption agency!! Here is our first picture of our precious Johanna Faith.

She's 6 1/2 months old and TINY!! :) For those who've asked, we only need about $2000 more to safely travel and bring her home and we have about 5 weeks left to raise it.

We're overjoyed right now!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Week In The Life Of

 I haven't blogged in over a week, and I have excellent pretty good reasons for that lapse.

1. After my post on SPEAKing Out, I felt a bit raw emotionally and was too drained to really think of anything else to say for a while.

2. Even though there were some highly interesting blog-worthy things that happened last week.

3. Such as the fact that I went with my family to our neighborhood cookout, sat near a petting zoo, and watched in absolute horror as a goat kept trying to CLIMB OVER THE FENCE.

4. No doubt he heard the siren call of his Zombie Goat brethren and was attempting to join them.

5. Or he fancied the chicken sandwich on my plate.

6. Shockingly enough, he wasn't the most disturbing animal in the menagerie.

7. There was an emo llama. Which was more amusing than disturbing.

8. But worse than the Goat With Marauding Tendencies, the Emo Llama, the pig, the sheep, and the deceptively cute little bunnies, was the duck.

Not actual petting zoo duck. Second cousin fourth removed on his mother's side.

9. And not one of Awesome Agent Holly's Revision Duck Mafia. No. THIS was the kind of duck hired to clean up after the Revision Duck Mafia because only a duck like this one would think a job like that reeked of awesomesauce.

10. This duck made it a habit to hang around the business end of the llama, the sheep, and the goat, waiting for the inevitable.

11. And when the inevitable hit the ground in pellets and piles of steaming nastiness, HE ATE IT.

12. Once, while he was eating it, the llama PEED ON HIS BACK.

13. If anyone ever tries again to convince me that barnyard animals make excellent housepets (I've been told pigs, goats, bunnies, and ducks all qualify), I will simply recall the spectacle of a duck eating a pile of goat poop while being peed on by a llama IN FRONT OF INNOCENT CHILDREN and will find within myself the fortitude to refuse such a ridiculous idea.

14. When I wasn't watching the occupants of a traveling petting zoo and losing my appetite in the process, I was working.

15. A lot.

16. I'll be working overtime every week from now until into November.

17. Which means I'll have to try extra hard to blog on time. And my sentences may or may not be coherent.

18. Read at your own risk.

19. One of the things I did at work this past week was run a two hour meeting for my skill trainers team. I'd spent hours planning this. The theme was Teamwork and I put together a tailgate party in the back parking lot, complete with team building games, a table full of food, prizes, and recognition. It was two hours packed with fun, laughter, healthy competition, and amazing brainstorming.

20. Too bad I forgot to zip up my pants.

21. Yes, dear reader, I ran that entire two hour meeting with my barn door wide open.

22. And NO ONE TOLD ME until the meeting was over.

23. Bunch of traitors.

24. When I wasn't parading around in front of my team with some extra ventilation in my pants, I was watching our adoption process pick up speed.

25. Child matches from China were mailed earlier this week which means we'll get to see our daughter's picture FINALLY by the end of this week!!

26. Yes, I'll post it on the blog.

27. We have a ton of work to do between now and when we leave for China, but it feels like our five year pregnancy has finally reached the point where we've gone into labor.

28. The fact that the labor will last for two more months is nothing.

29. I can't wait to share her with you.

30. And finally, during my week long hiatus from blogging, my grandma had her 89th birthday.

31. She was pretty convinced we were lying to her about her age.

32. Daredevil talked to her on the phone, asked how old she was now, and when he heard her say 89, he said the following: "Wow! You're like a turtle, or something."

33. She thinks his lack-of-filter responses are funny.

34. I'm grateful.

35. Beware of ducks.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

SPEAKing Out

Honestly, this is a post I never dreamed I'd write. My hands are shaky, and I'm frantically thinking through all the possible consequences and ramifications of telling my story even as I type. Not consequences for me, but for my family who may not appreciate having me peel back the cover on my childhood and invite the world to take a look.

But I think I need to. Because there's a book out there being called soft pornography and filth by a man who wants it yanked from high school libraries and curriculum in the name of Christianity, and I have to disagree.

The book is SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson and it tells the story of a high school girl who is raped and chooses to remain silent about the horrible thing that has happened to her. The man objecting to the book is Dr. Wesley Scroggins, a resident of Rebulic, Missouri who published an opinion letter in the newspaper decrying several things included in the public school education in Republic. After calling the book soft-pornography, he says,
"This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team."
He goes on to object to the two rape scenes included in the book. I can understand his point. Rape is a tough thing to think about. A tough thing to imagine happening to someone you care about. To you.

But here's the truth. Rape happens to girls in high school and younger all the time. Ignoring it, silencing it, refusing to look at the terrible consequences doesn't make it go away. I'm a Christian and am passionate about my faith, and I cringe when I see things like this because there's a difference between being outspoken about SINS, like rape, and being outspoken against something that might help the victims.

And this is the part of this post that has me feeling like maybe throwing up would be preferable to typing, but I'm a big girl now and it's time to exercise my right to speak.

I'm a rape survivor. I can't remember the first time I was raped because most of my childhood from before my eleventh birthday is now a murky, shadowy haze of submerged memories I've long since stopped trying to access. The memories I do have of the abuse I consistently suffered at the hands of my grandfather are bad enough. I don't need the ones my brain decided were too difficult to hang on to.

We moved from Oregon to California soon after the truth of my grandfather's actions came to light. Before that, though, he confessed to the cops, I went before a Grand Jury, and the consequence was that he was given six months of state-paid-for counseling. That's six more than they gave to me. His reputation remained intact. His marriage remained intact. His job remained intact.

I, on the other hand, was absolutely shattered. And I'd just learned, once again, that he had the power. And that no one would come to my aid and make it right.

Junior High was hell. I know it's hell for most kids, but please trust me when I say that it was HELL for me. I didn't know how to be a normal girl. I didn't know how to protect myself from threats I felt sure where all around me. I had this horrible, dark emptiness inside me that felt like it would swallow me whole if I ever looked it in the eye, so I didn't. I threw myself into activities, frantically staying as busy as possible. When I wasn't busy, I was lying on my bed, curled in on myself, trying to understand what had happened to me. Trying to figure out how to feel normal, or at least how to act like it. Because the secret shame I carried with me was a weight so heavy, I always felt one tiny step away from sinking beneath it forever.

I had no friends. Really. The few relationships I managed to make dissolved within months because I was different. Secretive. Still bleeding and junior high is an arena full of sharks. I didn't know how to make small talk. I didn't know how to talk about boys. I didn't know how to be anything other than damaged and broken. And I never saw anyone else struggling like me.

Once, when I scraped up the courage to share my story with someone, I was quickly the topic of gossip. Most of which involved speculation that I was a slut and dissected what I wore each day to confirm their opinion that if I was going to wear jeans that tight, I must have asked for it. See? Sharks with blood in the water.

When I went to high school, I made the decision to hide who I really was. I stuffed the pain, the broken pieces, into that dark, icy emptiness inside me and put on a show. I was the funny girl. The understanding girl. The one who would listen to your problems all day, as long as you didn't ask me to share any of mine. I went as deep as boys and school stress with my friends and no deeper. Because I'd learned. Rape was a four letter word that made me an outcast. A pariah. A leper with a scarlet A branded to my chest for something people seemed to think I must have brought upon myself.

By the time I was a sophomore, I was involved in an abusive relationship with a boy who got angry with me over imagined infractions, threatened rape as a consequence for things like not answering the phone within two rings when he called, and shoved me onto the ground if I dared question his behavior. I took it all because I thought I deserved nothing better. I hid everything he did from my friends too, because it was important to be normal. Too look unbroken even as I was convinced something like that would never be true for me. A few months into that relationship, I stopped eating more than a piece of toast and a juice box each day. I took diet pills like they were candy. I smiled, laughed, joined every extra curriculum activity I could, placated my boyfriend, took more pills, smiled some more, and at every cost, avoided telling most people I was the victim of rape.

In fact, I stopped thinking of myself as a victim. I don't know what word I would give it, but it was a combination of loathing and despair. Maybe I had brought it on myself. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe the way my family had imploded could've been avoided if I'd been smarter, more able to say no, better able to handle the secret on my own rather than let the truth slip back when I was ten.

As I told you, I'm a Christian. I was a Christian then too. And the few youth leaders who encountered me then didn't know what to do with me. Rape wasn't something you talked about. A girl who would sacrifice her body to her boyfriend to avoid his anger because she didn't think her body had any worth anymore wasn't a subject anyone knew what to do with. I felt like I was constantly out of step with the world around me and after a while, I was convinced I would never figure out how to make it right.

Near the end of  my senior year, I finally broke it off with my abusive boyfriend. He began stalking me, waiting for me outside my workplace, driving up to my house and standing outside my window at 3 in the morning. I was scared. But more than scared, I was just tired. So tired. Of trying to be something I wasn't. Of pretending I could ever clean myself up enough. Scrub off the shame and the labels and finally figure out who I was originally created to be before my grandfather's sin shattered my life. One night, I became convinced all it would take to heal my family and make everything right was my death. I didn't even really sit and think about it. The idea felt so right to me, I just got up at 2 a.m., walked downstairs, opened a new bottle of ibuprofen, and shook a huge handful out. I figured if I died in my sleep, it would be easiest on my parents. No mess to clean up. Just a peaceful exit to a life I didn't really want anymore.

My dad, who is a hard sleeper, came downstairs just before I tossed the mouthful of pills down my throat and asked me what I was doing. I told him I had a headache, slid all but two of the ibuprofen back into the bottle, and went back upstairs. I didn't feel like I'd escaped anything. I didn't feel disappointed either. In fact, I barely knew how to feel anything at all. The black, gaping numbness inside me had nearly taken over. I was a shell who knew how to go through all the motions.

I went to Pepperdine University that fall and promised God I would actually spend time getting to know Him. And that I wouldn't date again until I knew he was the man I was going to marry. I no longer had any faith in my own screwed up instincts. I'd always seen God as a distant, judgement-delivering entity who must be obeyed but who had no idea how badly I hurt inside. He gently began showing me that instead of keeping his distance from the leprous rape victim, He was holding me and crying along with me.

I still had a long way to go. I had to get counseling for multiple personality disorder. And just a few years ago, I entered treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. I'm not whole yet. I know that. But I'm married to a man who asked me to be his wife even while he realized I had a multiple personality and he's never wavered in his love and commitment to me. I'm surrounded by a community of Christians who openly talk about the harsh, crappy stuff that sometimes hits us and who aren't afraid to be totally authentic about where they are. I've learned how to push my secrets out into the light where they can start to heal.

Maybe SPEAK isn't Dr. Scroggins' cup of tea. Maybe the idea of having his children read about a highly dysfunctional family is upsetting. Maybe the thought of having rape be a terrible reality in the life of the book's main character offends him. That's his right. But for every child who is blessed with a non-dysfunctional home and who hasn't been broken by something as awful as rape, there's another girl like me. A girl who can't find the words to describe how shattered she feels. Who doesn't even know if she has the right to feel shattered. Who's learned that bringing her secrets to the light results in more pain. That girl needs books like SPEAK to be on the shelves. She needs to know there are others out there like her. She needs to see someone else's path so she can have the language to start thinking about her own outcome.

As a Christian and a rape survivor, I want SPEAK to stay on the shelves. And I want others to write books about rape. Incest. Child abuse. Eating disorders. Multiple personality disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder. Because those are just as real, just as present, for some kids as worrying about grades and peer pressure are for others. Books can give children the language they need to be able to describe themselves and the things they're facing. To silence the book could be to silence the child.

I've had enough silence. Have you?

Author Veronica Roth has an incredible post that sums up how I feel even better than I managed to do myself.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fiction: Meaghan Callahan, Scene Two

Go here for Scene One.

"Do your parents know you're here?" His voice is quiet. Non-judgemental. Designed to invite my confidence and trust.

Too bad I already know what lies beneath the sugar-soft syllables.

I rip the corner of a Splenda packet and watch the tiny crystals slide from their paper home, arc through the air, and plummet to the bottom of my Styrofoam coffee cup. "They checked out of my day to day life a while ago."

Six years, four months, and twenty-eight days ago, to be precise. Courtesy of a patch of wet highway and a faulty guardrail. Every day since then had felt heavy. Like trying to breathe underwater.

"Hm," he says and takes a cup of coffee for himself. Two sugars. Three creams. "Would you sit with me for a moment? I'd like to get to know you a bit more to better understand how I can help."

I wonder if he fed my sister the same line last year when she first visited this barren space carved out of the community center's basement. I shrug and follow him past small groupings of other attendees to the steps leading up to the dusty stage, it's once-graceful hardwood surface now beaten and scarred. We sit side by side. The warmth of his body brushes against my skin, and I hold myself still, waiting for the fury scorching my insides to subside.

It doesn't. I clench my cup and bring it to my lips, letting the bitter bite of scalding coffee wash away the acidic words lingering unsaid on my tongue.

"So. Meaghan, right?" He holds his cup loosely with steepled fingers.

I nod, though it isn't my real name. He'll know who I am seconds before he closes his eyes forever. I draw in a shaky breath as I rehearse my story. My sister's story. The one I know will entice him to pursue me. Stalk me. Kill me.

"If your parents aren't aware of your addiction, I can assume they didn't send you here."

I nod again, still staring at my coffee.

"So, who did?" His voice is still quietly sincere, but beneath it lurks something darker. Hungrier. Faint and blurry around the edges, but I know what to listen for.

"No one. No one knows what I do. What I've done." I sweep a glace at his face, hoping he sees fragility and fear when he looks at me. "I saw an ad for this group on the YMCA board months ago, but ..."

He speaks into the quiet, already eager to finish my sentences with what he thinks he knows of me. "But you didn't scare yourself enough to find the courage to come until now?"

The hand holding my cup shakes, though not from fear. I've got him now. Months of research. Planning. Existing on a steady diet of grief and rage and he's about to fall for me hook, line, and sinker.

"I'm just so tired," I say and finally hold his gaze. I don't have any trouble delivering the next line with absolute honesty. "I'm sick of my secrets. My lies. Everything I have to hide. I wish I had someone who knew all the things I'm afraid to say. I wish I had someone who could tell me how to fix this."

His eyes glow, and a slight smile quickens his face before dying in the wake of an expression far more sober. I wonder how long he spent training his inner predator to lie in wait beneath the still, calm waters of what he shows the world. How long he stood in front of a mirror, mimicking the face the rest of humanity wears with ease. Hiding the killer within takes time.

I hope I've spent enough time hiding mine. I'd hate for him to have the chance to put up his guard.

"I understand your secrets, Meaghan. Your lies. I've done the same." He puts his cup on the dusty step beside him and reaches to steady my shaking hands, encasing my ice-tipped fingers in strong, smooth warmth. "I can help you fix this, if you want. I can help you transform your life."

I look at our joined hands, wrapped around my cooling cup of coffee, and bite my lip as if undecided.

"Will you let me help you?" His fingers squeeze mine, a light pressure designed to reassure me.

My arm muscles burn with the effort to keep from wrenching my hands from my cup and wrapping them around his throat instead, but I give him a tiny smile of relief and nod. "I'd like that," I say softly, as if the weight of my secrets has just been lifted.

He smiles back, and I memorize the moment. I want to revisit it while I watch his lifeblood seep out of him and onto my sister's grave.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Interview (Mine This Time!)

I was recently interrogated interviewed by a former client over on Musings From The Slush Pile. Go check it out and leave me a comment, if you dare. Maybe you'll learn something new about me. Maybe, if you're lucky, I'll love your comment so much I'll offer to share my lemon bars with you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Steroids, You Say?

1. Blogger now has a shiny new toolbar available to me while typing posts.

2. It lets me change the color of my font.

3. Make things look ridiculous fancy.

4. And any number of other fun things. I may have a new addiction.

5. Of course, this sort of thing is only new to Blogger. Word Press and Live Journal have been doing this for years. But Word Press won't acknowledge my existence and LJ has tried on any number of occasions to kill me off, so Blogger it is.

6. Speaking of blogs, I forgot something very important in my second vacation post last week.

7. You know, the one about me grabbing a huge black beetle on accident with my bare hand?

8. You'll recall that I threw the beetle onto the bed (On accident. It was an instinctive Get This Thing Out Of My Hand throw) and then called Clint to come back to the room and deal with it for me.

9. What I forgot to tell you is that I had been ironing clothes.

10. That's important to know.

11. Because the first thing Clint said when I motioned toward the bed and told him I had a beetle trapped in a blanket was "Is this thing still hot?" as he grabbed the iron.

12. Yes, dear reader, he was planning to kill the big, fat, scary beetle by SEARING HIM INTO THE BEDSHEETS.

13. I promptly informed him that if he baked a beetle into the bed, we would have to move to another hotel entirely.

14. I may have to do another post on the strange search terms used to find this blog.

15. Some of them are doozies.

16. You can also expect upcoming interviews with best-selling authors Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver and Linger) and J.T. Ellison (the Taylor Jackson series) as well as an interview with a fun and fabulous editor.

17. And I'll continue writing Friday Fiction installments on the Meaghan Callahan short story.

18. But enough about all of that. I have more important things to tell you. Like the fact that maybe I was a little bit high over-medicated at work this weekend.

19. Not my fault, I assure you!

20. I pinched a nerve in my neck sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning and the dr prescribed a steroid pack, Celebrex, and Vicodin.

21. And HE TOLD ME to take all six of the first day's steroids, along with two Celebrex, in one shot.

22. So I did.

23. Right before I left for work.

24. I am the girl who gets woozy if she takes Tylenol Cold.

25. This was a guaranteed disaster in the making.

26. I arrived at work, started feeling odd, and then about fifteen minutes into a conversation with a co-worker, interrupted her to say the following: "Um ... huh? I know you're talking to me, but all I hear are colors."

27. And then I slumped against a wall when I was pretty sure I was trying to walk in a straight line.

28. I don't think I'll ever live it down.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Fiction: Meaghan Callahan, Scene 1

"My name is Meaghan Callahan, and I'm an addict."

The room stirs briefly as visitors sitting scatter-shot across the uneven rows of orange and silver chairs murmur greetings, offering placid acceptance of my statement as if it's an everyday occurrence to hear a sixteen year old girl admit to being one of the hungry. The lost. The broken who've managed to scrape their way up from rock bottom to cling precariously to a tiny foothold in the ranks of polite society.

Maybe my admission is nothing more than a ripple across the hard-won surface of the tranquility they fight to keep. Maybe they see themselves as they look at me. Cocaine Addict, the Younger Years. A few meet my eyes, boldly identifying with the pain they think they see in mine. Offering solidarity. Brotherhood. Hope.

It would be touching. If I wasn't lying through my teeth.

"Why don't you tell us your story, Meaghan?" He asks, his voice softening the syllables of my name with hints of his Louisiana roots.

I glance at him. He's taller than I thought he'd be. Dusty gold light from the bulb hanging above us sinks into his red-brown hair and lingers. His eyes, full of sympathetic patience, are green.

Somehow, I thought they'd be black. Or as close to black as a devil in human guise could manage.

"Meaghan? You're safe here," he says and a smile peels his lips from his teeth.

I am safe.

But he isn't.

I clear my throat and try to mimic his smile. I don't think I succeed because his expression moves from sympathy to guarded curiosity. Turning away from him, I face the handful of expectant faces waiting to hear yet another tale of misery and woe.

I could give it to them. And every word of it would be true. But the truth won't give me what I want. What I need. What I've lived for since the moment I stood beside her grave, the seams between solid soil and the freshly laid sod covering her still unmended, and promised his life in return for hers.

"I started using last July." My voice chokes as images of bitter-dark nights full of humidity and grief threaten to close my throat. I look at him to see if the memories of July spill acid through his veins the way they do mine, but his expression remains unchanged. Fury uncurls within my stomach, sharp and hungry.

"Why did you start?" he asks.

My hands clench, and I bury them in the pockets of my hoodie. "I'd lost ... a lot."

Everything. I'd lost everything.

"I needed something to fill the spaces, you know?" I address this question to the crowd, who nod in assent, but I'm watching him. The way his thumbs hook into the belt loops on his jeans. The way the shadows carve his face in half and slide beneath the collar of his polo shirt. The way his eyes stay riveted on me.

"We know," he says and smiles again. His sincerity is palpable.

But then, so is the dirt on my sister's grave.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Slam Dunk, Suckah!

funny pictures-The outrages I have suffered here today will not be soon forgotton
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1. Today, I continue the saga of my Labor Day weekend vacation.

2. You'll recall from yesterday's post that I began the weekend by revisiting my lunch the hard way all across Alabama.

3. It was an auspicious start.

4. Thankfully, once we reached our destination, the only excitement to be had came in the form of seeing family again and discovering my mother in law had the excellent foresight to bring pans of brownies with her to the hotel.

5. I can't say the same for Saturday morning.

6. As I'm a fan of personal hygiene, I took a shower. I had no difficulty turning on the water. No difficulty adjusting the direction of the water. And no difficulty pointing the little triangular arrow on the faucet right between the H and the C to achieve the perfect not-too-hot, not-too-cold water temperature.

7. All in all, I figured the shower and I had an understanding and therefore didn't hesitate to step in.

8. What I didn't know? The shower was a sadistic, calculating menace with clear sociopathic tendencies. Once I was both thoroughly wet and thoroughly covered in soap bubbles and shampoo (and therefore unable to make an immediate exit), the shower's true nature emerged with a vengeance.

9. The water pressure dropped and the water cooled to the point of being uncomfortable.

10. I turned to face the now faltering stream of water, only to have the water pressure rebound with enough force to slap me in the face with a significant stream of truly-uncomfortably-cool water.

11. Huddled to the side of the shower to avoid the majority of the blast, I reached for the nozzle and made the fatal mistake of believing that H stood for Hot.

12. H did not stand for Hot.

13. H stood for How Do You Like Them Apples, Suckah?

14. I turned the nozzle toward H. The water remained cool. Not to be deterred, I turned it further toward the H, desperately waiting for the water to warm up.

15. It didn't.

16. But neither did it become cooler.

17. Because I still didn't fully understand the nature of the beast, I flipped the nozzle ALL THE WAY toward the H and waited for the change in temperature.

18. It changed, alright.

19. The water went from noticeably cool to FREEZING in the space of two seconds.

20. Freezing.

21. I cannot over-emphasize the FREEZING here.

22. I scrambled to turn the nozzle back toward C and was relieved to feel the temperature rise out of hypothermia territory.

23. My morning drama, however, was far from over.

24. As I was drying my hair, all the boys left with Clint for Grandma and Grandpa's room. I spent a few minutes with the hair dryer, a few minutes on make up, and then decided to find the hair clip I'd packed.

25. I was fairly certain I'd tossed it into the large zip up compartment located on the front of the bag I'd used to pack all of our personal hygiene items. A quick scan of the pocket's interior revealed an assortment of items, but not the one I was looking for. Because in my experience hair clips often slide to the bottom of the bag and lurk beneath everything else, I pushed my hand past the flotsam of hair brushes, toothbrushes, and containers of deodorant, grasped a rounded, oblong object, and pulled it out.

26. Something was lurking beneath the flotsam in the compartment. And it wasn't my hair clip.

27. It was a gigantic black beetle.

28. And I was holding it in my hand.

29. Yes, dear reader, I screamed.

30. And then threw the beetle onto the nearest surface.

31. Which happened to be a bed.

32. Which threw me into a panic because A) what if the nasty bug crawled into the covers and we couldn't find him or B) what if the nasty bug crawled under the bed and we couldn't find him or C) what if he had FRIENDS waiting for me all throughout the luggage in our room?

33. If any of the above were true, we'd have to check out. There were simply no other viable options.

34. With my blood-curdling scream still ringing in my ears (Yes, it deserved the adjective blood-curdling...I'm still surprised none of the neighbors called the cops in the absolute certainty the woman in the room beside theirs had been murdered), I grabbed my phone and called Clint with the (possibly frantic) request that he come back to the room RIGHT THAT INSTANT to rescue me from the beetle.

35. I know. The shame of it should probably overwhelm me. But the beetle was the size of MY THUMB and I had HELD IT WITH MY BARE HAND. Sue me.

36. Clint came right back to the room, identified the bug as a stink bug, and then scooped it up and tossed it outside.

37. And yes, he laughed at me.

38. And when I insisted he check EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF LUGGAGE for more beetles, he laughed even more. But he did it. And I told him he was my hero.

39. Despite my dramatic start to the day, the rest of the day was nice. We had brunch with the entire extended family, spent time with Clint's grandmother, and then all the girls decided to head to a nail spa to get manicures and/or pedicures.

40. I've never had an official pedicure. Mostly because I wasn't sure how I felt about having a stranger work on my feet. I prefer to do it myself. But everyone talked me into getting one and so, with a bit of trepidation, I subjected myself to the procedure with stern warnings to the nice young woman wielding the nail file that I might not respond well to that awful filing directly across the top of the nail.

41. She smiled and didn't believe me.

42. Turns out, the filing across the top of the nail wasn't an issue.

43. It was the pumice stone and some sort of buffing/scouring/torture pad she used to scrub across the bottom of my foot.

44. Turns out, the bottom of my feet are really sensitive.

45. I nearly kicked the poor girl in the face.

46. Because she was determined to finish her job AND keep all her teeth intact, I resorted to grabbing the arms of the chair and writhing in laughing agony as she attacked my soles.

47. Everyone in the salon was laughing at me.

48. Fortunately, with my track record, I'm not only used to people laughing at something I'm doing, I'm quite comfortable joining in.

49. In fact, I was able to laugh at my Shower From Hell experience.

50. And the Beetle Incident.

51. Know when I wasn't laughing?

52. When I got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, sat down, and realized a millisecond too late to alter my course of action that my hubby had kindly left the seat UP.

53. Just what I needed to end my day.

54. A slam dunk.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pineapple, Carrot Cake, & Tossing One's Cookies

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1. We traveled south to Louisiana this past weekend to attend a birthday party for my hubby's 87-year-old grandmother.

2. Who still drives.

3. But who SHOULDN'T, as she amply demonstrated any number of times by driving as if other cars NEVER have the right of way.

4. But, I digress.

5. I'm still fairly brain-dead from driving all day Friday, not sleeping well (I never sleep well in hotels), and then driving all day Monday to return home only to get up before dawn Tuesday morning to take Starshine to the hospital for the surgery required to remove the titanium rods put into his arm last year when he broke it.

6. Since I'm brain-dead, it's highly likely I'll forget to blog about something truly BLOG WORTHY about this trip.

7. However, since I haven't posted in a week, that's a risk I'll have to take.

8. The trip can be divided into two categories: Stuff I Enjoyed and Stuff I Wouldn't Repeat Unless You Promised Me A Pan Of Lemon Bars Delivered By Johnny Depp Himself.

9. Stuff I Enjoyed: hanging with the family. Which included meeting my newest nephew and niece (who are both adorable), having a girl's afternoon at a nail spa, and stopping by the beach on the way home.

10. The OTHER category will take a while. We'll start with the drive down. It's a 600 mile trip, one way. We have three boys. Cramming three boys inside a mini-van for a 10 hour drive is already a recipe for disaster so I envisioned having some "moments" along the way. Not once did I imagine the worst "moments" would belong to me.

11. It all started with lunch.

12. And the fact that whatever I ate for lunch decided to take up arms and start something with my stomach.

13. My stomach responded by declaring an all-out war.

14. I realized this as I was driving through Tuscaloosa, Alabama while Clint grabbed a nap.

15. He woke up as I screeched to a halt in front of what can only be described as a decrepit gas station. Decrepit, in this case, is a euphemism for Holy Cow That's Nasty. I can assure you, the condition of its bathroom made its outer exterior look positively fabulous.

16. I spent some time in the bathroom (Which had a sign informing me that the plumbing was easily overwhelmed and instructing me to use the handy plunger left for my convenience in the almost-certain chance the toilet decided to overflow rather than flush. The plunger looked like it probably carried the Bubonic Plague with a little dash of rabies.). When I returned to the car and informed Clint that my lunch had decided to make a forcible reappearance, he took over the wheel.

17. And texted his best friend with the gory details.

18. And in between the next four times I had him stop so I could empty my stomach, he and his friend high-fived each other over the fact that Clint had the good fortune to marry a woman who puked all over Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama, staunch rivals of the University of Tennessee.

19. Men.

20. Shortly after my last gas-station-restroom stop, we drove across something called The Chunky River.

21. I know. Ironic.

22. Later in the drive, we passed a billboard which issued the following instructions in brilliant yellow: Don't You Buy No Ugly Tractor.

23. Words to live by.

24. Of course, driving for 10 hours with boys lends itself to overhearing a few interesting comments as well.

25. Early in the trip, Daredevil said, "Greetings, my leathery apprentice!" We still aren't sure whom he was talking to.

26. Near the end of the trip, Starshine yelled, "Wait! Is that puke? Oh, never mind. It's just carrot cake." Again, we have no idea where he saw carrot cake or how he could confuse the two. We've learned sometimes it's best to just not question it.

27. As we neared our destination, Daredevil began discussing the prospect of hanging out with his great-grandmother. The conversation went as follows:

D: You know, elderlies are a lot more fun than you'd think.

Me: Really?

D: They have enthusiasm!

Me: Cool. The enthusiasm makes them fun?

D: Yes!

Me: What do you think they like to eat?

D: *answers instantly* Pineapple! It makes elderlies seem more exotic.

28. I've run out of time to continue the riveting tale of my vacation. Tune in tomorrow to read about why I screamed bloody murder in our hotel, nearly froze while in the shower, and almost kicked a young woman's teeth out. On accident.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Up On My Soapbox

I was scrounging around for a blog topic today, when VOILA! one was provided for me by a random series of morning events that ended up with me watching 1 1/2 minutes of some early morning news-type show. The commentator began the bit by describing a woman who carries a gene that makes her more likely to get breast cancer than the normal woman. The show then switched to interviewing the woman herself who said the following "I haven't had breast cancer yet. That makes me a cancer survivor."

No, it doesn't.

As a woman who's both battled cancer and who's been told she's three times more likely to develop breast cancer than the average woman, I have to say something to this. I don't intend to be nitpicky here. I understand the weight of carrying around a doctor's prediction that of all the people standing in a field of land mines, you're more likely to get your head blown off. That's a heavy weight to carry and it means proactively preventing and being smart about how you safeguard (and check up on) your health.

But it doesn't make you a cancer survivor. Not until you've heard those three awful, life-changing words "You have cancer," not until you've looked in the mirror and tried to wrap your head around the fact that your body has turned against you, not until you gaze at your children and worry you won't be here for Christmas, not until you've had surgery, and then another, and some chemo, and then some more, not until you've lost weight, lost hair, lost perspective on anything that doesn't directly help you fight the monster invading your body can you possibly say you're a cancer survivor.

Harry Potter Trailer & More!

The final trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has been released, and I'm not going to lie. I get choked up every ti...