Unfinished business …

Closure

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Well, THIS sucks …

We didn’t win the lottery AGAIN, which is crushing because PLANS — I was on a quest to revolutionize my wardrobe by way of that venerated institution, the Sundance catalog.   Please don’t sue me, Robert Redford, for naming names — I obviously can’t afford that since we STILL DIDN’T WIN THE LOTTERY.

It’s all so disappointing because my first new outfit as a gazillionaire was going to be killer, starting with the jeans, which are $108 and still have PIECES OF ACTUAL DENIM clinging to each other!  There’s a sweet top, a twee rumpled creation weighing less than an ounce and going for a very reasonable $198.  There’s a distressed-leather peacoat that looks fab with the little top — it’s only $548.  The shortie boots in the same shade as the jacket, complete with fringe and studs, are a must — they retail for $575.  To nail the look I’ll need the slouch bag for $368 and a cool nubbly belt at $120.  Then we get to the fun stuff — the jewelry.  Three necklaces, layered, at $1190, $3400, and $1300 respectively; eight stacked wrist cuffs totaling $4800; seven rings for $1603; and the earrings, $285.  And a perfectly darling may-or-may-not-keep-time watch for chump change of $98.  The surgery to add 10″ to my height is probably going to run into actual money.

So for just the debut ensemble, not counting height-enhancement because who knows, I’m looking at approximately $15,000 with shipping.  And realistically I couldn’t wear the outfit every day because it isn’t wedding and funeral appropriate, so it’s imperative that I buy out the catalog in its entirety, including the furniture.  My dreams are all-encompassing.

Way to ruin my life, Powerball.  Mr. Redford and I were going to be besties.

Plan B:  Snag this $98 vintage bandanna scarf and accessorize my overalls.

 

bandanna scarf

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And I already know all my own secrets …

best friend

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Queer-Eye for the Straight Girl

Queer-Eye for the Straight Girl.

Oops, this is woefully out of place on the grid.  So sue me for playing on my blog this morning.

It’s a girl thing …

Kim’s been working nine-hour days for the past two weeks, doing a one-man build for The Nervous Set at the Arts Center.  This has pretty much been his baby from start to finish and he gets to use a butt-load of skills he’s proud of.  He comes home every evening worn to a shred but in a good mood.  I’m all chirpy for him, and now that Madison’s here the hours when he’s working on a project don’t feel as open-ended as they used to.

By yesterday, though, it’s clear that Maddie does not share my “I’m happy you’re happy” attitude.  She is not happy.  I regret to inform you that she is conducting herself like a tiny white douche canoe — snorting her way down the hall for potty break, straining at her leash, and barking at everything in her line of sight including especially leaves and twigs.  My stern attempts at discipline only egg her on to greater displays of rudeness.

Daddy walks in the door at 5pm and she’s all over him, an innocent pixie with light in her eyes.  She covers his face and neck with kisses before I can get in line for mine, and as God is my witness she shoots me The Look — “Don’t even, Mommy dearest, he’s taken.”

I deliver the old classic “This child is causing me to come unhinged.  It’s your turn ’til bedtime.”  So he takes her out for Walkies & Potties and she’s angelic.  No snorting, no straining, no barking.  True story because I go with them — I HAVEN’T SEEN THE MAN ALL DAY!  He finds the whole thing hysterical.  Now they’re collaborating against me.  Another woman has stolen my beloved’s heart and there isn’t jack-all I can do about it.

It’s okay, Maddie.  Really.  You’re a smart cookie.

 

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Mind if I rant?

This girl is not fit for human company today, which makes no freaking sense — it’s a perfect fall day, the leaves are turning, my work is temporarily caught up, and we have a fun evening ahead.  Meh.  People.  They’ve tried my last nerve and found it wanting.  Facebook, my go-to social release-valve, is a morass of stupidity today.  Yeah, and what, exactly, is new?  A little biotch-of-a-privileged-thing pulled her white-girl schtick on me in lieu of answering a simple non-invasive question.  Whatever.  Have a nice day, sweetheart.  Even Madison is a bundle of neurotic craziness — a short-tempered old baroness.  She lives with one, go figure.  She’s every bit as morose and disagreeable as I feel, so I’m doing a great job of spreading the love.  And no, I didn’t kick her, she’s just very discerning.  She loves me, so maybe I should just ditch this sulk and count my blessings or something.

 

introvert

 

 

 

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Queer-Eye for the Straight Girl

 

Alex, I’ll take “PARTIES” for a hundred, please.

Here we go …  Every woman’s response to “We’re having a party.”

Mashes the buzzer! …  What is “I have nothing to wear?”

 

Casino Night is looming on the horizon, a dress-up affair at Abe & Jake’s Landing, significant because friends are hosting and it will potentially benefit other friends.  I’m slated to give a speech but I have NOTHING TO WEAR so I’m not too pumped about the whole thing.

Enter my friends Adam and Seth, armed with knowledge from every episode of What Not to Wear, Project Runway, their own impeccable taste, et.al.   A shopping date is set for the following week, beginning with a lunch of salad and wine.  Thus fortified we hit the stores, fearless and ready to incite terror on both sides of the street.  A saleswoman whispers to me early on, “These guys are making me nervous.”

THESE guys?  You mean the ones who are giving you a break by zeroing in on a selection of flattering outfits from your store and thanking me for considering any and all options?  The guys who are giving up their day to make sure I have a fabulous time shopping, so I can relax and enjoy a great night out with people I love?  These two guys who have a gift for showing how much they care?  Yeah, well.  Get outta heah.

After a lifetime as a skinny-minny, a series of crushing blows caused me to almost disappear from grief anorexia. What followed was so much unexpected and over-the-top happiness that I starting packing on the pounds, neutralizing my shopping mojo.  Because, you know … before I bought any more clothes I was definitely gonna lose the extra weight and be me again in the eyes of the world, never mind that in the meantime I’d turned into a better person than I was when I was a skinny biotch.  Fortunately, my guys didn’t for a second consider letting me off the hook, and they rate massive kudos for changing my perspective.

We found the dress in the first shop we hit.  And the jewelry.  And a pair of skinny black pants and a silky top.  AND another dress that was on sale for a stupidly low price, nabbed after Seth stood me sideways in front of the 3-way mirror and told me with a sweep of his arm to “Concentrate on this great rack!” then cupped my ass in his hands and crowed “Just look at these two amazing Christmas hams!”  We heard a gasp from the sales clerk, followed by “Can he SAY that?”  Yes, yes he can.  Love and respect buy immunity.

In the second shop the guys found a pair of not-Mom-jeans and a top from the sale rack that we couldn’t believe no one had snapped up.  My confidence was increasing by the hour and I was into my Happy Dance.  Another store or four, a purchase here and there, and we realized it was almost 7pm.  Tired and hungry, we crossed the street for drinks, appetizers, and a review of the game plan.  Adam placed a Zappos shoe order on his phone and just like that I had everything I needed for the big party.  Oh yeah, the party!  I’d sort of lost sight of the original mission because the party was already ON.

I’ve dropped a few pounds in the weeks since, but I may or may not ever be skeletal again.  My friends clearly do not care and I don’t either.  The bonus is that Kim has never really minded one way or another — the angst was mine alone and was overdue for a kick to the curb.  We live in a university town where the options for enjoyment are nearly endless — who wants to worry over chunks of dessert, impromptu foodgasms on somebody’s balcony, late-night drinks at sidewalk cafes, or breakfast twice in one day?  Worry is for chumps.

Seth put shiny stuff in my hair, I wore the dress and rocked the speech, we gambled for a worthy cause, we danced, we laughed, we ate good food and toasted each other with great wine, and the tumblers in my brain spun and lined up.  The obvious is true — I’m not a number on the scale, I’m not my dress size, I’m that girl who loves life, qualifiers be damned.  When’s the next party?

 

1) Casino Night … 2) the Christmas Ham dress with my favorite date … and 3) my newlywed personal shoppers, Seth and Adam …

 


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A Heritage

UncleOttoShop

 

My grandparents’ generation witnessed greater social and technological changes than any that preceded it, and possibly any that will follow.  When they were born, in the late 1800s, cars weren’t a thing yet — everything was done with horses.  Before the end of their lives, they’d seen the advent of space exploration and watched NASA put a man on the moon.

My grandparents who were farmers remained true to their conservative roots, lived frugally, and made a point of being satisfied with what they had.  Their motto was “Wear it out, fix it up, make it do.”  They clung to what they knew best, jettisoning very little along the way.  Living next door to them I benefitted from a natural immersion in their history, and the pioneer spirit is my friend.

My outlook is aligned with the liberal views of my grandparents who lived in town, but I’ve never lost my appreciation for what it took to settle the heartland and survive.  Recently I was breezing through my Facebook news feed, did a double-take, and backed up.  A childhood friend had posted this photo of my Great-uncle Otto’s blacksmith shop, which is falling into ruin, and my growing-up years came flooding back.

My sisters and brother and I and our friends spent lots of hours here, climbing on outbuildings and an array of obstacles, snooping around the shop and the house that used to stand next to it, shinnying up the windmill tower, and roller skating in the old brick schoolhouse down the road on property owned by our family.  There were irrigation ditches in this field, too, good for wading in the icy water and slinging mud.

My great-uncle lived in a corner of his shop after his mother died and a fire spooked him out of the house.  He had an outhouse, an iron cot, a potbelly stove for heat and cooking, and that’s about it in the way of creature comforts.  He and my grandpa, his brother, were gunsmiths and inventors who understood hard work better than anything else.  I grew up surrounded by guns, which at the time were exclusively for hunting and for building prized collections.  My bachelor great-uncle, one generation removed from the German ship that delivered the Wagner family to the Promised Land, was eccentric and brilliant and reeked of the garlic he ingested at every meal to ward off disease.  As children, we were endlessly fascinated by him — he was a mystery we couldn’t crack.

People from all over the country sent him guns to repair and refurbish, and he had several patents to his name.  He saved every can label and filled the backs with calculations scrawled with a dull carpenter’s pencil.  He had Big Chief tablets filled with the same, along with drawings of inventions, and poems and essays on life, religion, and human dynamics.   He was a fixture of my childhood — a skinny man with a handlebar mustache who wore long underwear and a sheepskin jacket year ’round, and drove his Model T Ford the quarter-mile to my grandparents’ house every day to hold forth about ideas and mathematics and projects from his comfy nest in the kitchen rocker.  My grandma, who’d long ago earned his trust by listening, cajoled him into taking a bath at their house twice a year while she washed his well-oiled clothes.

One look at this photograph and I was back in my grandparents’ warm kitchen, Uncle Otto’s gravelly voice droning on, garlic and gun oil mixing with the aroma of fried potatoes, beef and gravy, and coffee, Grandpa stamping in from the cold, the sound of my grandma’s wry chuckle, and the sense that life would go on forever just that way.

Although nostalgia is in my bones, and it all looks so simple and clean from this vantage point, I don’t want to live there.  I started to become an adult the day I accepted the truth that life is all about change.  But a gray wet fall day seems like a sweet time to revisit the past, and I’m indebted to my friend Carrol for the photo.

 

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