“Humbled”

Nicely stated! I’d never really thought about it like that before, but I’ll be careful with it’s use in the future.

Lily Zacharias

A few weeks ago, I sat down with my laptop and go-to study playlist and began my first ever practice GRE exam. I was THAT jerk in high school who never even looked at an ACT prep book, yet rolled into the test and got a score I never dreamed of being able to get, so naturally I was pretty confident in my abilities to whip out a killer score with minimum effort. I finished the test under time and excitedly clicked “View my Score.”

So…I viewed my score. My incredibly, painfully low score. Ouch.

There I was: my ego crushed, my spirits low, my stomach craving ice cream. I went into the test expecting the absolute best, and left feeling utterly embarrassed that I thought I could conquer the GRE in one unprepared shot. In a word, I was humbled.

Which brings me to what this is really about:

There are three words that I absolutely abhor seeing on…

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From the Files of “I Can’t Make This Stuff Up”

MADISON, Wis. – A Madison man has won his fight to wear a pasta strainer on his head for his driver’s license photo.The state wasn’t too keen about Michael Schumacher’s desire to wear the colander on his head for the photo. Schumacher got an attorney involved and the state granted his request, but told him to tip the strainer back so his full face could be seen.

Schumacher’s attorney, Derek Allen, says it’s a First Amendment issue because it involves the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He says similar cases have been resolved in favor of Pastafarians in Utah, Texas and Massachusetts.

Allen says it’s not up to the government to decide what qualifies as a religion.

strainer

Personally, I’m just beyond grateful that when I decide to wear one in my license photo, it will be available in my favorite color.

via Pasta strainer head gear OK for Wis. driver’s license | KARE11.com.

Minneapolis, MN…a local man has started a Go Fund Me page for Kanye West, because that poor, tortured soul is in debt to the tune of $53 million, and can’t someone help a starving artist out please? Clearly Kanye’s rant to Mark Zuckerberg on Twitter to bail him out by sending $1 Billion to him didn’t work (because we all know $60 or 100 million just clearly wouldn’t have been enough to clear that pesky little debt). In 4 days the page has raised an amazing $5,000. Now out of curiosity, an only for that reason, not because I give a crap, I googled Kim Kardashian’s net worth. It’s over $300 million.  For the love of God, people, shouldn’t a wife help her husband? For richer or poorer and all that? And can someone please make the Kardashians go away? I promise I’ll try to avoid ever writing about them again. Unless they give me fodder for a story, then all bets are off.

With a nod to Engvall, White, Foxworthy and the Cable Guy (does he even have a last name 🙂 ?) Here’s your signs…because in Minnesota, apparently even two signs aren’t enough to warn some motorists that you shouldn’t drive your vehicle onto the ice. Costs to recover a vehicle range from $1500-$5000, and of course the vehicle is a total loss.

And from around the countryCoach fired for spanking his rookies too hard. Is THAT what they’re calling it now [insert inappropriate snort, chortle and uncontrollable laughter here] as I’m thinking, I mean really, do we need to be discussing this in the press? Then I realized it was about hazing practices, and yes, we probably do, because there’s no place for that. But it was funny when I thought it was a new euphemism for, well, you know….

Conspiracy Theorists – oh boy, here they go again. Apparently the little beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey wasn’t murdered in the basement of her parents home, and the body in the basement wasn’t real, because she has grown up to become….wait for it….yep, Katy Perry! I can’t help but wonder who they speculate were the real parents of Donald Trump?  (Oh, come on. Don’t tell me it hadn’t crossed your evil and twisted minds for two seconds too! And you might as well admit it, it is funny.)

Happy weekend all!

I Thought You Looked Familiar

Going through a drive through the other day, I was about to get my order when I noticed the tattoo on the forearm of the young person. In a lovely, scrawling script I saw “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and as she recited my order back to confirm, she was very polite and respectful. Then she said “Have a nice day ma’am” and I started ranting in my head, “I don’t care if I’ll never see 50 again, I’m not old enough to be ma’am. I don’t WANT to be a ma’am, did you ASK me if I wanted to be one? No! I feel like I’m still in my 30’s” and on and on it went in futility. I soon started thinking of the scene from the movie “Parenthood” where Dianne Wiest’s character Helen is ranting about being a grandmother (from IMDB):

Helen: [laughs incredulously] No, no, no, no. I’m too young to be a grandmother. Grandmothers are old. They bake, and they sew, and they tell you stories about the Depression.

[shouts]

Helen: I was at Woodstock, for ******’s sake! I peed in a field! I hung on to The Who’s helicopter as it flew away!

[gestures wildly]

George Bowman: I was at Woodstock.

Helen: [shouts] Oh yeah? I thought you looked familiar!

I’ll say it again, I’m too young to be a ma’am. You can’t prove I have gray hair, I haven’t had a joint replaced yet, I don’t have cataracts, gout or whatever else it is old people have. So what if I can now grow African violets?  My mother always told me the reason I was killing them when I was younger (read “in my 20’s and 30’s”) was because you had to be a lady of a certain age to grow them. She didn’t say specifically what that age was, but it was implied “old”. I had always pictured little hunched over, hey haired grannies when she said that (no offense to the grannies I know that aren’t grey haired OR hunched over, please!) I’m not old, I’m not even middle aged for that matter because I decided a long time ago that middle aged will always be anyone who is ten years older than me. I don’t need Efferdent, Depends or Doan’s, there’s no prune juice in my house, no assistive walking devices, no hearing aid batteries because there are no hearing aids. I run, can ride a bicycle, hiked a mountain last fall and dance just because it’s fun.

Ma’am. That was almost insulting. I think I’m going to Buca where a sweet young waiter carded me recently. Oh damn, he also carded my 75-year old mother. I’d sign up for dance lessons, but thanks to Dancing with the Stars, people like Cloris Leachman and Florence Henderson, that’s not even impressive anymore. Okay, so there are days when my knees are a little stiff, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to be grateful for waking  up on this side of the dirt, does it? I’m young, dang it! And if I say it loud enough and pound the table hard enough, maybe, just maybe, my fairy godmother will show up and make it so.

Oh look, was that a pig flying by….

…p–start–stop–start–sto…

We’ve probably all had a day like this, I know I have! Thanks Tom!

Beyond the Sphere

Sigh.

Talk about one of those days.

I’ll run through the morning with you:

A telephone call come in for me, regarding something or other. I forget what, exactly, as the person calling was announced as David Attenborough, famed natural history and wildlife TV presenter, amongst other things.

It turned out that it wasn’t David Attenborough at all, and it was a wrong number.

Then, another call came in, which was David Attenborough. He started to ask me his question, when an almighty commotion obliterated all the sound from the receiver, and I couldn’t make out a word he was saying.

The commotion turned out to be my radio alarm. It was 5:15, and I had a few snoozes before getting up.

I was just dozing off, when the alarm went off again. I turned over.

I was just about to get back into the dream, something I rarely ever…

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A Little More And They Say Romance Is Dead

Taking a page from “Guru” Henders, rather than try to reinvent the proverbial wheel, I’m going to go with the theme from Tom Merriman’s blog in honor of Valentine’s Day, also known to some of my closest friends as Singles Appreciation Day, brought to you courtesy of Hallmark. The theme this month is

…and they say romance is dead…

I was going to go with dry, snarky and sarcastic, because that’s so much funnier. What’s coming out of my head instead is all the little ways that husband shows me it’s not. Sure, he forgets ALL THE TIME to put the seat down, but today he did the dishes without my asking, fixed something for me. And he takes the trash bins to the curb every week even in winter when it’s bitterly cold so I don’t have to and sometimes cleans the house. Now if only I could get him to put things away in the kitchen where they belong 🙂

Oh what the heck, who am I kidding. I was born with sarcastic as much a part of me as if it were a siamese twin. See, I even snuck it in the nice paragraph above. Can’t seem to help myself. So I thought I’d go looking for some funny evidence of our theme on the internet. Our first story is from Manchester, England, where a man is kicked out of his house by his wife. Apparently he posted a comment under a photo of a beautiful model saying he’d be willing to leave his family for one night with this woman. He got his wish.

This woman in England sends texts to her husband of all the things he says in his sleep. It’s actually funny and nonsensical. Wonder what the rest of us say?

Here’s one I can honestly say I’ve not heard of before, the weird world of wife carrying. This is actually a sporting event, complete with a prize at the end of taking home your wife’s weight in beer. Sounds like something my parroted friends would like, but sorry to say fellas, this year’s competition is full.

Google “is romance dead”. What an eye opener. Most of these real life examples that people have provided from an article on the Huffington post gave me pause. One romantic fella gave his wife the gift of a full body massage. Problem was, the massage therapist was his mother. Now she’s his ex-wife….

And here are a couple of jokes to leave you with.

A woman’s husband dies. He had $20,000 to his name.After everything is done at the funeral home and cemetery, she tells her closest friend that there is no money left.   The friend says, “How can that be?  You told me he had $20,000 a few days before he died. How could you be broke?”  The widow says, “Well, the funeral cost me $6,500. And of course, I had to make the obligatory donation for the church and the organist and all. That was $500 and I spent another $500 for the wake, food and drinks, you know. The rest went for the memorial stone.”  The friend says, “$12,500 for the memorial stone? My God, how big was it?  “The widow says, “Three carats.”

One day a housework‑challenged husband decided to wash his sweatshirt.  Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to his wife, “What setting do I use on the washing machine?”  “It depends,” she replied. “What does it say on your shirt?”  He yelled back, “University of Oklahoma.”  And they say blondes are dumb…

A woman was helping her computer-illiterate husband set up his computer, at the appropriate point in the process told him that he would now need to choose and enter a password.  Something he use to log on.  The husband was in a rather amorous mood and figured he would try for the shock effect to bring this to his wife’s attention.  So, when the computer asked him to enter his password, he made it plainly obvious to his wife that he was keying in, “p…e…n…i…s.”   His wife fell off her chair laughing when the computer replied:  PASSWORD REJECTED.  NOT LONG ENOUGH.

…and they say romance is dead…

…And They Say Romance Is Dead…

Diane Henders

Many thanks to my blogging buddy, Tom Merriman, for inviting everyone to participate in his February blogging theme. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up fast, it seemed like a perfect fit for today’s post.

I was thinking of doing a bit of flash fiction, but Tom has already set the bar too high with his first post of the month. Plus I’m completely immersed in the final push to finish the draft of Book 11 this week, so I’ll fall back on my favourite thing instead: tasteless jokes.

(I wish I could say I made these up, but I didn’t. They’ve been around the internet a few times, but they still make me laugh!)

*

Mike was going to be married to Karen so his father sat him down for a little chat. He said, “Mike, let me tell you something. On our wedding night in our honeymoon…

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Squirrel or Bear?

If you’ve never been camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (also known as the BWCA), it’s truly a wonderful experience (assuming, of course, that you like to go camping. If your idea of roughing it is slow room service, you’re probably already thinking that we have differing ideas of what wonderful means.) Being someplace where the water is so pristine you can still safely drink it (from 30 feet offshore, let’s be sensible, people!), where bald eagles are in abundance, moose are rare but might show up, and any number of other critters abound to greet you does have it’s charms.

The BWCA is located in northeastern Minnesota, and is most of the “pointed arrow” part of the state. It’s over a million acres of pure wilderness, where no motors of any kind are allowed – boats, cars or float planes. It borders Canada’s Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks, which are also wilderness areas of over 1 million acres combined. When you go camping there, you go in by canoe, bringing what you need in the canoe, carrying it on your back, and you learn that traveling light is absolutely critical. You really CAN get by with only one extra set of footwear, a couple of t-shirts, a few shorts and guess what? Underwear can be turned inside out before being washed. No kidding! You laugh now, but after a long day of paddling, broken up only by the multiple treks over the rocky portages where you made multiple trips carrying 65 lb packs on your back, believe me when I tell you that every ounce counts.Rocky Portage.jpg

I know it seemed like a great idea at the time bring in the box of wine, but by the end of the third set of half mile portages, where you have to climb over huge boulders with the packs, and make three trips each way to get all your crap, suddenly you’ll be asking yourself “what can I leave behind” and realize the answer is “nothing!” Because you’re now out in the middle of nowhere, and no one leaves anything behind. Except maybe small children that have had too much sugar, but I think the park rangers pick them up daily and drop them back at a special ranger station or something.

So back to camping. After you get into the BWCA and find your campsite, there are a couple of really important things to do. First, find the tent pad, but don’t kid yourself, it’s not padded, it’s hard, it’s the ground for heaven’s sake. You want to pitch your tent on a spot that is a) relatively small rock free, b) slightly slopey but not too much, so if it rains, you’ll get water run off and c) not near a widow maker.  What’s that you say?  Well, that would be a tall, old dead tree, that has the potential to come down on top of you in a wind storm. Bad, bad idea.  After you find that, find the path to the toilet seat before you need it. They don’t have outhouses there, the whole forest is your outhouse…but they do have fiberglass toilets on top of pits that were dug, so at least there is something to sit on. It’s a little strange to be outdoors like that but it’s always situated back from the campsite for privacy and eh, you get used to it. Finally, and do this before you actually spend the time pitching your tent….for the love of God, find the tree you’re hanging the food pack in. Yes, you heard me right. You need to hang the food to keep it away from the bears. I think when I first talked about that one with my husband before my first trip (and about his 24th), it was fine in concept but it wasn’t until we were actually in camp that it got real, and I started to think about what could happen. Holy crap, we could have a BEAR IN CAMP!

So we get everything set up, food pack is up, tent is pitched, toilet runs are done, dinner has been rehydrated and eaten and dishes washed, dried and put away. We’re in the tent for the night. It’s quiet. Really quiet. Unearthly quiet. Except for the bugs, the crickets, the mice, the owls, the bats, the coyotes, and “OMG what the HELL WAS THAT?” and by now husband is patting my hand and saying “it’s ok, honey, it’s nothing. Go to sleep”.  Sleep? How am I supposed to sleep? It’s too freaking loud for me to sleep!  There is noise everywhere? The wind is blowing, the trees are creaking, I swear something is going to fall over and kill us. The ground is like a rock.  I can’t get comfortable, I want my pillow, I want my bed. My brain is racing with everything I have back home with my creature comforts that are missing here. It took what seemed like forever before I could start to relax even the tiniest bit. Then it happened. Husband is sleeping, I can tell by his breathing (wives just know these things.) Against the side of the tent is a rustling sound like a brush rubbing up against it. I grabbed his arm “honey, what’s that!!” waking him up with a loud, urgent  whisper. Because of course I’m positive it was a bear, and we’re gonna die, and waking him out of a sound sleep is the thing that will keep us alive. Too bad I couldn’t see the flaw in that logic then, but being exhausted and sleep deprived will do that to you. In return he gives me the husband sounds of “ungh, snort, what?” because of course, he was sleeping. “Something brushed up against the tent!” He then did what all good, experienced BWCA camper husbands do. Pats my hand and says , “It’s nothing. Go back to sleep”, because he assumed I’d already been asleep.  Argh, seriously? A bear probably brushed up against the tent and all you can say is go back to sleep? I know I hardly slept a wink that night, terrified out of my mind. I mean, if it’s a bear, don’t I want to know if it’s coming in the tent and I’m gonna die?

Well somewhere between terror and dawn I did fall asleep, and woke to daylight. We got up and he said “you realize what you were probably hearing was a squirrel’s tail brushing up against the tent?”

Nuh-uh. That was NOT a squirrel. It was HUGE, killer bear size. In my sleep deprived mind it was so loud, I know it must have looked a little like this:

Adult SqBear

The dreaded squirrel bear. I swear that’s what it had become without sleep and the fuel of sugar and caffeine. And I just knew the next night, I was going to be it’s next meal. Thank goodness I was so tired by nightfall, I didn’t give two hoots, and was almost in a coma before I hit my pillow made from a pillowcase stuffed with a t-shirt and rolled up pants.

Go ahead and laugh, we both do now, and in fact we’ve been there three more times and have had fun with this story every time. But each time we’ve gone back, I’m pretty sure the squirrel bear has been out there watching on my first night back in camp as I try to relax and get used to the sounds, just waiting for his opportunity to brush against the side of our tent.

Fear, Fear Go Away

As you all know I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s next for me, now that school is done. I’d like to say “what’s the next big thing I’ll tackle” but I don’t want to for a couple of reasons. One, who wants to tackle another BIG thing when you just finished 5 years of grad school, for the love of…and two, for those of you who know me, while I can be focused, there is probably a larger side of me that leans more to…”squirrel!!!!…..”

So I was thinking perhaps it’s best if I don’t commit to a big thing, then a friend asked if I wanted to join a book club. Sure, I said. What’s the harm? Our first book…Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. If you haven’t read it, it’s wonderful. Give it a try, especially if you like to laugh, enjoyed her previous book Eat, Pray, Love, feel creative, or are just ready for a new thing. It’s really about what happens if we let ourselves be open to possibilities. Where do we go? What do we become, create, do, and it made me really start to think about things in a different way. When I look back in my life, I can see places on the path where I’ve been afraid to try something and let fear stop me. “What if I fail?” “What will people think?” “What if I look dumb?” “What if I get rejected?” “What if they don’t publish my manuscript?” which considering I have been harboring this secret hope of being a published author all my life is not only a real possibility, but now having put that here on the blog is not longer a secret. And quite frankly, if what Elizabeth Gilbert says is true, and I have no reason to believe it’s not, it’s not a possibility, it’s a truism, and one I need to expect over and over and over again for a while. A long while, and for many stories and manuscripts and I will likely not ever be able to give up my day job. But that’s not the point of it really, is it?  The point is about telling the story, and following the inspiration, the idea. Grasping the wisp before it’s gone.

I shared some of the book last night with my husband, where Elizabeth wrote about about fear coming on a journey with you. She said fear can come along but it’s not allowed to vote or drive. It can speak, look at the map but not touch the radio. I thought it was hilarious, and as I’m reading it to him I had a very clear mental picture of this character in my mind sitting in the car. It you’ve seen the move “Inside Out” it was a little like that guy, sitting there looking both fearful and scowly at the same time, arms across his chest, legs stretched out and feet crossed at the ankles, eyes downcast. When I finished reading I looked at my husband and his look back was priceless. He gave me the old head tilted, eye brows raised “really?” skeptical look that most husbands are really good at. Which is really funny because I’ve always seen him as the creative one and me as the practical, methodical one, but the more I read the book the more it is pulling the creative side of me out. It’s funny, though, how we are creative in totally different ways. He can build things with his hands, and  draw and plan designs on paper that might make even some  aeronautics engineers go a little crazy, I have stories in my head. I’d tell you I have voices and conversations in there, but I’m afraid you’ll all call for the men with the white coats, and truly, that’s not necessary!

She talked about an interview she’d done with Tom Waits, the musician and his creative process of song writing. She said it eventually occurred to him that songs were like decorating the insides of peoples minds and her description of that was “intracranial jewelry – what a cool job!” and the phrase just resonated and stayed with me.

What have I done and not done because of fear? Well starting this blog for one. I thought about it for ages, and mostly put it off because of school but when I did start it I was terrified to share it with anyone. For the first few weeks I only told two friends. Then I thought “well how ridiculous is that? What’s the point of being so wickedly funny if no one knows that I am?” So I put on my big girl pants, took a deep breath and shared. With my girl friends. And accidentally on Facebook, oops. No one died, the world didn’t end. Even better,  people I don’t know have read my blog and liked it!  Then about 2 weeks ago my husband said, “can I read your blog, or is it a secret?” (He’ll probably disagree with me on the comment about making the aeronautics engineers crazy, but I stand firm on that one.)

I love to sing! I’m pretty good, not good enough to start my own band but can hold my own, and sing backup vocals for some friends when I see them on a couple of songs for fun just to tap my inner rock star from time to time. The first time I did it, I was scared to death. It was in front of 1200 people at an outdoor show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and my friends in the Jimmy Buffet tribute band “A1A” were playing. They graciously brought me up to join them and the rest is history! Yes it helps when you can only see the first 25 people in front of you, but if I had let fear drive the car that day, I would have lost out on so many fun memories since then, it would be awful to me that they never would have been there, including this one with Jer and Mike from San Diego, when we held a house concert in our home a couple of years ago. (The faces have been gently, artistically modified to protect the lack of release forms!)

Me-sing

So I guess it’s time to write that book I’ve always wanted to, the one I promised Brenda I would years ago. I have the premise, the outline, it’s all still there. Time to chuck fear aside, and see what I can do when that pesky bugger can’t even touch the radio, let alone the map!