Tuesday, April 28, 2009


One of my best friends mentioned running into an EX friend of mine over the weekend, and then we talked about clarification. Was this girl my EX friend, or a former friend?

She was definitely my EX friend. She divorced me. The short version is: I didn't get along with her husband. She was one of my most favorite friends ever too. I miss her more than any ex boyfriend ever. And when she told me we couldn't be friends anymore, she said the meanest thing anyone's ever said to me: "I wish I'd never met you," (followed by a meticulously detailed long list of every bad thing I'd ever done).

I remember the second she said it, I started playing out the reverse of "It's a Wonderful Life" in my head -- trying to figure out if her life would really have been better if she'd never met me. (Maybe. Maybe not. For one thing, I don't think she'd have met that husband.)

I don't have THAT many ex-friends. I mostly have former friends. People who drift in and out of your life, for whatever reason. I miss a few of them, in that vague "whatever happened to...?" kind of way. If I miss them enough, I try to re-connect.

I have a few close, old friends. Less than a handful.

I have a few new, old friends.

I have a few new, new friends.

I am only really trying to get rid of the Frenemies. One is always trying to get me to go to lunch, and when she does, I just remind myself NO is a complete sentence.

One of my dearest friends asked me how I defined the nuances and I said, "A frenemy can never stand for anything GOOD to happen to you." She's this great, warm, loving person who has this "friend" who always undercuts her successes, and it just makes me crazy to watch it.

Plenty frenemies will be there for you when things are bad. That's a ridiculously low bar for real friendship. Who wouldn't be nice to you after a death in the family? Or after you got fired? Or divorced? (Well, maybe some people wouldn't be, but they're just outright enemies. They don't pretend. And that's ok.)

A frenemy always thinks there's a finite Pie of good things in the world, and if you use any of them up, you're just eating up their share of pie.

I love it when good things happen to my friends. It makes me happy when they're in a good mood. I hate it when bad husbands happen to them.

Before my Ex Friend got married, I asked her if this guy was two things: is he good TO you? Is he good FOR you? (It was a rhetorical question.)

That's my bare minimum measure of what I'd expect in a guy for me, or in a guy who wanted to marry one of my friends. It's not a standard I'd apply for booty-calls or flings, but if vows or change-of-address cards are involved, I gotta know the intentions. (I also have to approve the jewelry.)

Man. I lose more friends that way.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

So help me, I will turn this car RIGHT around

I don't know any of the real particulars of the New York mom who got so irritated with her kids she put em outta the car, and ended up arrested.

And I really can't remember for sure if that's something my parents did to me and ChefBabyBrother.

But that's kinda the point: I don't remember.

It certainly SOUNDS like something they woulda done -- and maybe they did -- but if they did, I must not have been too irreparably scarred.

I had a fairly typical 1970s Southern childhood, which means I occasionally got spanked; my mouth got smacked on multiple occasions; and Yes, voices were raised. There were no "time outs." My Dad didn't hit us -- he was what we called "a Shaker" -- people used to get confused as to how that could've referred to his religious orientation, but we just meant he LITERALLY shook us. Luckily it was long after we were babies or he might've accidentally scrambled our brains. But there wasn't a lotta research on that back then.

We also rode without car seats and weren't even forced into seatbelts til maybe 6 or 7, which we bitterly whined about.We even ate potato salad that had been out in the sun and holiday turkey that sat on the table unrefrigerated all day. Sure, it was a kinda stupid time. But most of us survived.Maybe not everybody, but something's gotta cull the herd. That's Darwin.

I would never hit a kid today any more than I would allow a child to drink a Coke. It isn't the current style of child-raising -- and that's fine -- but the word "abuse" got way too fashionable and liberally applied sometime around the 80s and seems to continue.

People lost their minds when Alec Baldwin got caught on tape calling his daughter a Pig. Admittedly, Not Nice. But MAN, that is SO the least of what I periodically got called growing up. Everybody got in on the Act -- parents, Nuns, teachers -- whatever. It didn't end up in the News (though I'm sure I sent out MULTIPLE press releases -- to absolutely no avail). Apparently, I just needed an Agent.

There was a good amount of arguing, but there was NOT a lot of room for debate -- despite my carefully crafted pie charts and presentations artfully crafted to educate my parents as to the ignorance of their ways -- designed to PROVE I was RIGHT and they were WRONG.They were SO not interested.

It was a dictatorship. They were NOT our friends.It wasn't a flawless system, but by and large, it worked.

Nowwwww, I should also say, I was a Researcher in criminal justice for YEARS before I ended up at my current gig. So I would never, ever trivialize or minimize abuse. It's real, and it's under-prosecuted.And it's a whole other discussion for a whole different day.

But it isn't the same thing as a garden-variety parent doing a garden-variety stupid thing, in the heat of a garden-variety stupid moment.

If my parents were to be judged on their WORST moment EVER (to my way of thinking) it would be the time they made me stay home from a skating party AND sent me to bed without Chico and the Man. I'm not sure what I did to merit such a disproportionate, outrageous punishment, but I would be willing to bet it somehow related to an accusation (almost assuredly unfounded) of me "smartin' off." (If you can imagine.)

Out of all the moments of discipline I endured as a kid, THAT is the one that haunts me to this DAY. Yeah, I would even say it SCARRED me. And if I coulda somehow gotten Walter Cronkite's phone number, believe me: you woulda known ALL about it.

Friday, April 24, 2009


A couple dozen times a day I see a status update on Twitter or Facebook that someone is counting the days, minutes, or hours til Vacation.

It makes me sad.

I haven't counted the days til Vacation since I was in Grad School.

I'm sure they would be just as sad for me, since I probably haven't been on an actual Vacation in about 10 years. I have no plans to retire -- ever -- beyond the general goal that it would be nice to spend more time teaching.

And that's fine by me.
The first thing to factor out is the fact that I hate to travel. I almost never do it. The last really long trip I took was to Montreal.(Longer than you'd think, cause I drove.) Montreal itself is pretty -- fairly European (so I'm told) and an unbelievable climate in July.But overall, I was not impressed by Canada. Except it did give me the best headline of my writing career: Les Nips du Fromage.

Generally speaking (factoring out my disdain for Planes, Trains, & Automobiles), there are two main things that keep me from being among the Vacation crew.

First, I try not to spend ANY of my life on anticipation (I wish I was that successful at avoiding its evil cousin, Dread, but I'm not). I know people who live their entire lives around an annual August pilgrimage to wherever. The remaining 50 weeks of the year, they're just putting in time.

I might spend breakfast looking forward to dinner, but beyond that, I really try not to get too far ahead of myself.

Second, I like what I do for a living. I could wax on about creative fulfillment and so on -- and I don't mean to trivialize that (it's critical) -- but the daily quality-of-life things are what make me happy.

-For example, I don't have a job where I have to wear a bra. As an adolescent, growing up, I always hoped for that in a career path. And clearly, it pays to dream big.

-I also don't have to wear pantyhose -- probably no one does anymore -- but I HAVE worked places where that was required.

-I do have a job where dogs are welcome.

-I have a parking space. (I definitely know not to take THAT for granted.)

-I work in a designated ass-kissing-free Zone. I don't kiss any ass. Nobody kisses mine.

-Profanity is permissible and even encouraged.

-It's inside work. With Air Conditioning.
About 15 years ago, I was interviewing a band and we were winding down, when, at 4 o'clock, they looked at their watches and started packing up their stuff, just like they were punching a clock.I asked if I was keeping them from something, and they looked at me like they were explaining something to a slow child, and said, "It's 4 o'clock... Andy Griffith's on."

I knew then I could only fantasize about a job where I could someday say "it's time for Andy Griffith" and have that be a perfectly plausible, acceptable reason for walking out of a room.
And now I have one.

Like any office, of course, there's always too much work and never enough time -- but I try to never lose sight of the fact that life is just exponentially harder if you have to get through it in restrictive undergarments.And by the sheer grace of God, long hours, a $50,000 education (which used to be s lot of money) and decades of hard work,at the moment, I don't have to.

But for now, you'll have to excuse me. Bonanza's on.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Using Protection

As you may have noticed, the Twitter feeds for this blog are now "protected." At some point, the blog may be too. As long as you're a signed-in "follower," you should be able to read them just fine.

Anyone already on Twitter, but not yet on this Twitter, just has to sign in and click on Follow, and then I'll get a little note that says "accept" or "decline." (Sometimes it takes me a day or two to get to the clickies.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Broke the Dog

Man, Louis has only been here a couple days and it's gonna be pretty bad to have to hand him back and admit I might have broken him.

First, we apparently walked him thru some glass or something, because he got a little limp in his front right paw (plus there was all the blood).

Fixed that up, and now he's limping on his left back leg.

And it looks a lot like hip dysplasia.

Hoping it's just the 24-hour kind. Had Rob check to see if it was ok to give him aspirin, glucosamine, and steroids. (You can't just DRUG someone else's dog. Or someone else's kid for that matter. Found THAT out the hard way but they DO call it BABY Benadryl. Though they SHOULD call it Baby Ambien. And somebody SHOULD totally make Baby Ambien.)

Then I watched Rob try to pill the dog -- which was a lot like watching Tina Fey unsuccessfully pill Amy Poehler with pre-natal vitamins in Baby Mama.

Another good reason for not drugging other people's dogs is that it's a good way to get bit.

Luckily Louis is a good sport. Still have all my appendages.

Just another shout-out for the concept of rescuing dogs from somewhere other than the Kennedy compound.

Katie would be proud...

Four colonoscopies in four weeks in my family.

Mine: two polyps removed.

Mom's today: clean as a whistle.

Great Aunt Hazel (my grandmother's last living sibling - the baby, at 80 something) -- diagnosis, Cancer. Successfully recovering now from surgery last week.

My first cousin David, 55, finally nagged by his wife into having the test last week -- diagnosis cancer. Cancer so invasive and aggressive that they couldn't even complete the test.Surgery was yesterday and they're optimistic for a full recovery.

So as many jokes as I've made in recent weeks -- I really just wanted to take a second and tell anybody who thinks they CAN't go thru this test that they really, really can.

NO one is a bigger baby than I am -- trust me on this; I'll provide references -- and I can HONESTLY tell you it was fine.

If you need the name of a great doctor, I know three.

Maybe I'll even make up little certificates like Dave Barry did for his readers.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I blogged a dog, and I liked it!

Meet Louis.

He's "guarding" our office this week.

He's Rob's nephew -- a Dane/Lab mix -- and I kinda had to beg to get him here. (First, we were supposed to dog-sit, but then his brother's travel plans changed or something.)

So now we're not really dog-sitting, so much as Louis is just "visiting" us. (I wanted to give some more blog-time to another successful RESCUE -- he doesn't have a Kennedy pedigree but he does happily live with kids. Take that stoooopid Sherri Shepherd.)

Normally, Rob wouldn't listen to me if he knew he was goin' deaf tomorrow, but he does agree with me on this: a doggie office is a happy office.

Now I'm gonna go roll on the floor for awhile in between deadlines.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My "drinking" problem

I was crushed a few weeks ago when it looked like Voss Water had switched to plastic bottles.

I'm a creature of habit; I don't like changes; AND I'm picky, so it takes me awhile to form attachments and find favorites. I used to buy Voss Water at Good Foods til they stopped carrying it. I grieved. THEN Fresh Market opened, and they carried it, and I started to take it for granted again.

Until a few weeks ago when they inexplicably switched to Voss in plastic bottles (it has a red label, and between me and you, tastes vaguely like condoms).

I asked around. Friends in other cities said they'd been stuck with the plastic red label version for awhile.

Slowly, I resigned myself to finding something new to drink.

Today I woke up to a happy day of rain and the prospect of non-stop movies, all day -- with one tiny glitch: I'd forgotten to lay in provisions. No food in the house. And my elaborate movie plans didn't include cooking.

I threw on a hoodie over my PJs and trekked into Mouse Trap with a loooong shopping list (Greek Salad, Waldorf Salad,dill dip, and a variety of seafood -- shrimp, salmon, etc -- they skewer a lotta stuff there and I just love fish on a stick).

But when I got there, their compressor had gone out and the cold cases were empty.

Dejected and drenched, I trudged down to fresh market to drown my sorrows in some almond pillow cookies. Which I found. But were stale.The day was goin' South by the minute.

Then, on my way to the emergency backup stash of watermelon Sour Patch kids, I found the Voss. In GLASS bottles. And piled enough of it into my cart that I think the cashier took me for some crazy survivalist.

And now I'm curled up with 42 inches of HD goodness, hydrating, and gazing at Helen Hunt's irresponsible expanse of forehead, possessed by a profound incredulity that she coulda ever had the chutzpah to cast herself as a 39-year-old. (She's also cast herself as Jewish.)

Derby/Mothers Day Grits

[This image is from the South Carolina Grits festival, from the popular "Rolling in the Grits" competition. The recipe below could theoretically be adapted? Let me know.]

Several of you asked for the Grits recipe I make every year for Easter -- the same grits I usually make for Derby and/or Mother's Day.

Adjust the quantities to suit your crowd.

-Roast a whole head of garlic until the cloves slide out like butter.
-Whip up a few egg whites.
-Grate whatever hard cheeses you have on hand (for Easter, it was Manchego).

Prep the grits according to the package instructions.

Squeeze the garlic cloves into the grits.
Stir in real butter, real sour cream, whatever cheese you grated.

Kosher Salt and pepper to taste (grits REALLY eat salt; you may need more than you think. Depending on the cheese.)

Then lightly fold in the egg whites.

Fold into a souffle dish.

Shave a little cheese on top.

Bake at 350 till it puffs.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yes We Can

Yes, to answer every one's question this week: I am upset with the Obamas for not going with a shelter/rescue dog/puppy.

Yeah. I said it. And save the Hate, cause I'm not backing down.

To be fair: he didn't promise he would. I watched carefully and what he said initially was that a shelter/rescue would be their "preference" and outlined their hypoallergenic household needs, as a potential disclaimer. But I was hopeful they'd do the right thing.

They then did their breed research -- which made me optimistic. (Points for ruling out those hypoallergenic Imitation yappers too.) Everyone should be so thorough.

That was our job as kids -- all pets and livestock had to be duly researched and vetted before they were added to the family. And this was back before the Internets, when I had to use actual encyclopedias. If you can imagine. Like an Animal.

And so we became a family of St. Bernards, beagles, and later Mastiffs.

My own house was then later populated by mastiffs and Pyrenees. (Big dogs. Big joys. Unfortunately not known for long lifespans.)

I've worked with Mastiff Rescue; Pyrenees Rescue; sat on the Board of one Animal Sanctuary; and avidly support two local Humane Societies. I aggressively support Adoption/Spay/Neuter and if ANY of that interests you, I will personally hook you up.

This isn't a research treatise (though I've written a few), I'll just say it's a Myth to think if you have your heart set on a particular breed that Rescue isn't an option.

Humane Societies and Rescue organizations will work TIRELESSLY to match you with the breed that's right for you (or any imaginable array of assorted mutts and mixes, if that's your preference).

I hope that's a myth the Obamas didn't perpetuate.

Worse than that, the women on the View (including the one who doesn't believe in Evolution) expressed their perceived solidarity with the Obamas because maybe THEY wouldn't trust some unknown Shelter dog around their OWN kids. That is NOT what the Obamas said. It's just what one idiot said in response (an idiot who claimed she didn't know if the earth was round or flat).But she's an idiot with a microphone, in front of a camera. It made me (almost) hope a Dingo eats her babies. Or at least that she comes down with a nice case of the Mange. (As if supporting puppy mills somehow protects their kids? Idiots.)

And that's just ONE example of ignorance and misinformation that the Obama Decision (inadvertently to be sure) set off.

The thing is, the fish rots from the head.

Here was an opportunity to set a GREAT example (amid many, many others -- LOVE the locavore garden! And I am ALL about Sleeveless.) but this was an opportunity missed.I'm disappointed.

And a little irritated that the whole thing was orchestrated as a gift from a dying Kennedy cause hey, what could be MORE above reproach than that? And I'm sorry, but the fact that Bo "failed" in a few homes before the White House does not make him a Rescue.

God knows I am no fan of Oprah, but even I had to give the devil her due when she recently adopted two shelter dogs (one died of Parvo, which is how my own first attempt at a grown-up adoption ended when I was in grad school. That was Quentin, a sweet little Lab mix, and she didn't dissuade me from adoption/rescue.)
I don't normally think it's a GOOD thing that Oprah outranks the President and everyone else when it comes to influence.

But on JUST this ONE issue, I'm givin it up to her and saying: do as Oprah does.

And that's maybe what stings most of all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What am I Wearing?

"What are you wearing?" is a question I get sometimes... Text. Facebook. Twitter. Usually about 2 in the morning.

So one day this week I posted the answer: wifebeater; a Southeastern KY Homebuilders Association T-Shirt; a band sweatshirt; a United Way baseball cap; and shorts.

I got up that morning and randomly pulled stuff off the magic chair. I stopped when the Magic Chair was empty.

I'd like to say I had enough sense to stay inside at least, but I went to Disco Kroger like that too -- and I'm pretty sure strangers tried to give me money.

FB Friend Kelly just insisted I not take a roadtrip looking like that. I needed to represent.

Don't think she'd want me on tour today either: swimsuit top + boxers + a Roark Meats trucker cap.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Adult On Demand

I hate the way Insight has split up my movie channels and stuffed (so to speak) a roster of "Adult" Channels in between. It's now an annoying scroll from Starz to HBO.

But sometimes it's kinda funny to read the offerings and play: Porn, Not Porn?

Today's lineup:
LMN: What Makes a Family?

SUND: Poison Friends.

CHILL: Beauty & the Beast.

ENCWA: That Thing You Do.

ENCD: Men Don't Leave.
ENCM: Hostage Hotel.

STZE: Ernest Scared Stupid.

STZC1: Swingers.

JENNA: Taste Every Drop.

FRESH: 1st Time Lesbos.

XCESS: Booty Girls Wanna Cracker?

InPPV: Hot Pink TV: Young, Naked

And finally back to HBO: Baby Mama.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In Print

You can see the new column in print on page 14 of this week's Ace issue.

Monday, April 6, 2009

CBS Cares (?)

Here is Dave Barry's account of his colonoscopy (sent by Linda)

Here is the YouTube video of the "CBS Cares" uh... promotion (sent by Mare) to enter a "colonoscopy sweepstakes"?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"You Got Spunk. I hate spunk. "

[Points for ID-ing the headline source.  Your hint is above.]

"Live long. Die Fast."
--Dr. Oz

I'm no fan of Katie Couric. Perky's definitely not my thing. I'll give it up to her tho for airing her colonoscopy several years back, after her husband died of colon cancer. Sure it was kinda tasteless. And sure, everybody made fun of her. But both my grandmothers died long, hideous, needlessly gruesome deaths of colon cancer, so I'm all for anything that bumps up the research funding and awareness -- and definitely screening.

So, this morning was my first solid meal in a week: yogurt and a banana. It tasted good in the same way even sand would taste good if you spent long enough wandering the desert.

As much as I'd love to practice what I preach, I didn't go in for a routine screening colonoscopy. I only had one because of recurring pain, and only after my doc ran out of easier organs to test, like kidneys and ovaries.

I was only able to have one at all because I found a doc who would prescribe a pill-prep instead of the usual two-to-four liter "Lyte" drink that tastes like liquified Pez with a salty sulphur chaser.

Between him, and Facebook, I was able to get a pretty accurate picture of what I was in for. A LOT of people did recommend vodka prep, but that didn't sound quite right. One particularly long discussion thread prompted my friend Mare to chime in, "Never did I think THIS is the part of your anatomy I'd be reading about on Facebook." I told her Facebook is WAY better than WebMD.

What I learned online mostly came from the Dave Barry column everyone thoughtfully emailed me. I'm not a fan of scatological humor (which everyone SHOULD know by now) but I took it to heart when he said once your body has eliminated everything consumed in the LAST two weeks, it then time travels into the future and begins eliminating food you haven't even yet THOUGHT of eating.

That didn't sound like a pleasant prospect to me, so I started early. Two weeks ahead, I cut out red meat (seriously, you don't even WANT to know how long that stuff stays in your system, but suffice to say, it pretty much has to rot its way thru).I remain the devoted-yet-moderate carnivore I've always been, and I hope I never again have to endure two weeks without bacon.

Ten days out, I switched to a "low-residue diet." That basically means: White Food. Potatoes. Rice. Bread. Pasta. Oprah woulda been in heaven -- it's all the stuff she says Bob Greene won't let her eat. Honestly, I've never felt WORSE. Yuck. I had no energy. My blood sugar went haywire. I was cranky ALL the time (maybe it wasn't the food but that's my story and I'm sticking to it). And I went to bed everynight with visions of brussel sprouts and spinach -- my usual favorite foods -- dancing in my head.

About three days out, I just gave up eating and/or lost the will to live. I'm not sure which.Broth.Jell-O.GreenTea. And the nefarious Crystal Lite. Of course I infused the broth with a bouquet garni of garlic, basil, and thyme. C'mon. I'm not an ANIMAL.

It worked. The worst part of the whole thing was drinking all that damn Crystal Lite.

As for the next day, only the IV was awful.(If they wouldn't narrate the part about the veins rolling and running, I would be much less likely to throw up.)

The test itself is exactly what everybody will tell you: Nothing. The last thing I remember is the nurse prying the BlackBerry gently outta my hand and saying, "I'm just putting your cellphone with your clothes under the gurney" to which I responded, "ish not a shellphone, it's a BlackB..."zzzzz.

I remember the drugs really hurt those first few seconds when they hit the IV. The last time I had those, the Nurse told me "your arm will feel a little warm" and my response was "it feels like a thousand bumble bees stinging me from the inside out." The doc said "THAT's a new one." And my stepsister Lisa said later "Perhaps you are just unaccustomed to patients as articulate as my sister."

Admittedly, it only stings for a few seconds. Then you get a few more seconds to contemplate how and why heroin addicts become addicts after all because this is pretty nice and maybe it is perfectly reasonable to knock over a liquor store...And then you pass out. At some point, I asked the nurse what I was getting (I wanted to know, for my file, in case it made me sick later, which it did) and she somewhat condescendingly replied "oh all kinds of good stuff." I felt like telling her my office is WAY downtown and there are probably far more pharmaceutical experts at the bus stop outside my door there than she sees in a week of sales reps parading through with their garish plastic earrings matching their plastic shoes.

But I didn't.I could tell she didn't like me. (In my defense, she wasn't getting my best side.) And an air bubble's an easy thing to pull off.

The only other bad part was dragging my poor college roommate outta bed at 5 am to chauffeur me around and then babysit me all day. I'm sure it isn't the first time she may have cursed the Dean for randomly pairing us up 25 years ago according to last names.

She said later the Nurse probably thought we were "life partners" because she was thoughtfully patting me on the head when I came out of the anesthetic -- the Nurse just didn't realize it was more like this presented an unusual opportunity to poke a badger with a spoon.Nobody would ever think of patting me when I'm awake.

She took me home and let me watch The View and MarthaStewart and bought me potato chips -- inexplicably, the only thing that sounded good to me. And she called all the Usual Suspects for me and told em the doc removed a couple polyps (which should be asymptomatic, but which I think are the culprits since they were sitting RIGHT where the pain has been all along -- and that spot hurt like an MF all DAY after they got the axe).

I remained convinced if I didn't follow doctor's orders she would post the whole procedure on YouTube.

I woke up later to a text from my pal Mare who always knows just the right thing to say. It read, more or less, "I knew Katie Couric. I've watched Katie Couric. And you ma'am, you are no Katie Couric."

Still kinda hurts when I laugh.