Teens, You Can Trick-or-Treat at My House

Teen dressed up for HalloweenIt seems that every Halloween, the debate over “how old is too old to go trick-or-treating” resurfaces, and people start taking sides, engaging in online discussions about what will happen if we let middle school and high school students dress up and ask for candy on Beggar’s Nights.

This discussion has been fueled this year by the passing of a law in a small town in Canada banning kids over the age of 16 from trick-or-treating and instituting a 8 p.m. curfew for all trick-or-treaters. Those found in violation of this law could be fined $200. Now, this new law actually relaxed a previous law which banned kids over 14 from trick-or-treating and set the curfew at 7 p.m., but it still maintains the steep fine for those kids who don’t comply.

My response to this? Ridiculous.

Unbeknownst to the lawmakers in Bathurst, once you become a teenager, you do not automatically become a criminal, or even just a mischief-maker. The Bathurst city spokesman said that the “older residents” were concerned about “troublemakers.” How stereotypical is that, on both ends of the spectrum. Teenagers aren’t scary, or at least they shouldn’t be seen as so! These adolescents are trapped between wanting to stay a little kid and wanting to skip right to adult. It’s a tough road to navigate, if you don’t remember actually being a teenager yourself. It’s filled with confusion, doubt, friendships, heartache, anticipation and insecurity. But here’s the deal: When we make laws like this, we are sending the message that we don’t want them to still be able to act like kids once in a while. They should just go straight to being adults–but not the kind of adults who can be trusted not to smash pumpkins or take candy from babies.

Will older-looking 12-year-olds be forced to carry identification with them to prove that they are “of age” if stopped on the street by a cop or over-zealous resident looking for the chance to make a citizen’s arrest? Will kids’ trick-or-treating routines now include showing door answerers a birth certificate before reciting “Why didn’t the skeleton go trick-or-treating?” (Because he had no guts, if you were wondering.) Way to suck all the fun out of Halloween, Bathurst.

I work with teenagers, and I have three teenage boys of my own. Teenagers are not inherently bad. They are not going to automatically take a mile if you give them an inch. They aren’t all plotting how they can scare small children and terrorize adults. Most would not go egg a house even if you supplied the carton of eggs and a getaway driver. They care about people. They want people to care about them. They will amaze you in so many ways if you just give them the opportunity to show you who they really are, beneath that “scary black hoodie” or behind that SnapChat profile.

Now will some teenagers take advantage of opportunities, like trick-or-treating? Will some use it as a chance to grab two handfuls of candy instead of just taking one piece? Will some see Halloween as the excuse to use bad judgment and partake in some genuine “mischief”? Absolutely. But it’s no different with adults. Given the opportunity, will some adults take advantage of a situation or use terrible judgment when making decisions? You bet. Most teenagers will opt to either stay home and help hand out candy to little kids who come to their door, get together at a friend’s house to watch a scary movie on Netflix or maybe embrace that inner 8-year-old and dress up like a zombie or walk around the block in that unicorn onesie they got for their birthday.

And I know this may be a controversial statement, but I truly believe it: Teenagers will be who you show them they are. If you show them you think they are responsible kids, with mostly good intentions, the majority will rise to the occasion. But if you show them that they aren’t to be trusted and must be kept in line by force of law, many will do what they can to prove you right. It’s a generalization, I know, and there are definitely exceptions, but in my experience this has been the case. Do teenagers need boundaries? Definitely. They are still learning about the relationship between actions and consequences. They need guidance from those who have been where they are. But there’s a difference between setting boundaries and enforcing punishment based on things that are out of their control, like when they were born.

So, teens, if you’re listening, you can come trick-or-treat at my house. In fact, PLEASE come trick-or-treat at my house! At least I will know that you’re not out drinking somewhere or driving too fast on the way back from a haunted attraction an hour away. I would love to see what creative costume you come up with, or, even if you don’t want to go the costume route, you can still come knock on my door and ask for candy. I’ll gladly give it to you. It’s okay to be a kid once in a while, and Halloween gives you the perfect excuse to forget about all those stresses that come with being a teenager and just have fun.

And to the teens in Bathurst, I know it’s quite a drive, but if you’re in the neighborhood, you’re invited, too. And I promise, even if you ring my doorbell at 8:02, I won’t call the cops on you.

Awkward Phase — The Sequel

I think I’m going through an awkward phase.

Most people attribute the “awkward phase” to something that happens to kids teetering on the verge of puberty, and I most certainly experienced the awkward phase back then. For me, it was 6th grade. While most of the other girls were experimenting with either makeup or making out, I, on the other hand, chose to bring my Cabbage Patch Kid to school for the day. Why not? I thought. Daycare is costing me a fortune! All kidding aside, I really did bring my Cabbage Patch Kid to school. And I didn’t think this was weird.

In fact, I remember being quite proud as I smelled my little Pammy’s head at recess. (Cabbage Patch Kids all had that same smell like baby powder mixed with rubber, which was like catnip for kids–and apparently tweens.)

What else did I bring to school you may wonder? My 6-inch-thick file folder full of the adoption papers of my imaginary friends. Yes, I had imaginary friends. In fact, my best friend and I created a whole imaginary friend community. They all had backstories and we mapped out their relationships in elaborate family trees. They weren’t actually people, though, they were creatures we created–most of them in some way fluffy–as well as some animals thrown in there for good measure. At recess my friend and I would discuss what was happening with our imaginary friends like we were discussing the plot of some bizarre soap opera or reality TV show. All of this, of course, with my Cabbage Patch Kid looking on, dotingly.

My 6th grade school picture really seems to capture the essence of my awkwardness. I had apparently tried to feather my hair (It was 1983), but hadn’t blow dried it or anything, so I didn’t really pull it off. Instead, my hair was parted down the middle, with my cowlick, or “rooster tail” as my mom called it, taking center stage, and the rest was a half-wavy, half-straight mess. I wore, in the photo, a pink polo, and of course had intended to pop the collar like all the cool kids, but since instead of it being an Izod with an alligator on the chest, it was the Sears Catalog-brand knock-off with a dragon on the chest, the collar didn’t have the stiffness it was supposed to and only part of it would actually stay up. And of course I wore no makeup, which is fine except for the dark circles under my eyes that looked like eye black like football players wear. It is a sight to behold.

So when one of the boys came up to me before school and said, “Brian Reece wants to know if you’ll go with him,” (which is what we called being boyfriend/girlfriend even though we never “went” anywhere) and knowing Brian was one of the “cool kids,” I probably should’ve realized that something was amiss. And yet when Brian came up to me later in the day and told me his friend had just said it as a joke, I was heartbroken, like we had broken up after seven years of living together or something. To this day, Brian defends himself by saying that he was being a gentleman by telling me the truth, but I just tell him that he’s lucky I said yes when he asked me to marry him 10 years later.

So back to my present-day awkward phase. It’s this whole 45 thing. I know some people say the 40s is when you feel like you’ve really hit your stride, but I just feel like instead of striding along confidently, I’m doing this half-walking half-galloping thing, not really sure what I’m doing.

I feel very unsure of how I’m supposed to feel at 45. Am I young? Am I old? What exactly is “middle-aged” supposed to look like? I don’t want to be one of those women who’s 65 and wearing a tight babydoll t-shirt that says “Bae.” I don’t want younger women to look at me and think, “Who does she think she is,” and I don’t want older women to look at me and think, “Who does she think she is.” I mean, at what point do I realize my shorts are too short or my style is too Forever 21? At what point do I start wearing culottes and sensible shoes? Will I know when it’s time for me to head straight for the Alfred Dunner section when I walk into Younkers?

And then there’s the hair. So many women cut their hair short when they get older, and this terrifies me. I’ve tried it several different times in my life, and each time, no matter the style, I looked utterly ridiculous. I envy the women who have the face to pull off short hair. This face, however, cannot. But someday soon am I going to wake up and find that I’ve let a well-meaning stylist cut it all off? Or will the opposite happen, and I’ll be 60, refusing to let anyone near my Crystal Gayle-length locks, trying way too hard to look young, which ironically, just ends up making you look old?

I know, 45 is not old. But it’s not exactly young either. It’s funny that when some of my students first find out I’m 45, they don’t believe me. “You don’t look that old!” they say, which at first feels like a real compliment, but then it hits me — Wait, but I really AM that old. And I just hope that I “don’t look that old” in the “I’m-not-trying-to-look-young-it’s-my-genetics” way and not the “creepy-old-woman-wearing-Daisy-Dukes-and-pigtails” way.

I want to look young, but I don’t want to look desperate to look young. And I’m really unsure where that fine line is.

This 45 business is also confusing when thinking about how to act. I don’t really fit in with the younger crowd. This becomes obvious to me when I’m with a group in their 20s and 30s, and they’re all relaxed, maybe having a drink or two, and I’m thinking about the laundry I really should be doing and trying to calculate in my head the latest time I can go to bed without feeling like I’ve been run over by a party bus for the next three days. (And usually that time is well before midnight.) The other day one of my younger friends mentioned how she’d been up partying until 4 a.m. a few nights prior and my body nearly went into shock for her. I had to consciously make myself shut my gaping mouth because I didn’t want to make her feel bad or let on that I’m a total wet blanket. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about how nonchalant she was about it. 4 a.m.??? Usually I am awake by 4:15 after having to get up for my third time to pee. What is wrong with me that my palms were sweating and I had to do a little discreet Lamaze breathing just to calm myself down from just imagining partying until 4 a.m.? And then after the shock wore off, the curiosity set in: How in the hell did she not fall asleep? I drink half a Blue Moon and I can barely keep my eyes open, no matter if it’s 2 in the afternoon or 8 at night. I found myself studying her, wondering what her secret was — and then I realized her secret was that she is at least 15 years younger than I am.

Being a parent of a 12-year-old at age 45 isn’t any less awkward. Sitting at ball games and band concerts, I look around and realize that some of these parents are barely 30, which means I am much closer to those children’s grandparents’ age than their parents’. Sometimes I wonder if I am supposed to look like the expert, this wise old parent who has lived through it all and can share her tips on how to raise kids. But then I look around again and realize that most of these younger parents have got it together way more than I do and I really should be taking notes from them, or at least tracing back my steps to see where I went wrong. One thing I do know is that these parents have way more energy than I do, and I feel like I really owe my youngest son an apology. “Sorry that Mommy used to really care and actually made meals for the family, which were eaten at the kitchen table. Now if Daddy doesn’t cook it’s every boy for himself to scrounge around in the refrigerator and cupboards and then eat in the living room in front of the TV. Or, if we’re keeping it real here, in your room in front of the XBOX. Mommy’s just too old and worn out to argue.”

Caught somewhere in between the age where bar-hopping every weekend makes you the “fun friend” and not the “friend who someone really needs to have a talk with,” and where scheduling colonoscopies for both you and your husband on your wedding anniversary sounds like a sensible way to celebrate, I’m stuck here in Awkward Land, where I’m just not sure what’s a good idea and a really, really bad idea anymore. Much like my deteriorating vision, everything seems just a bit on the fuzzy side. But the weird thing is, I don’t think my husband, who is only 10 days younger than me, seems to be in the same awkward phase. He’s much more confident in his 45-ness than I am and doesn’t seem plagued by the same concerns. Is this because men take longer to mature than women, so my 45 is really equivalent to his 40, or because I am just neurotic? Perhaps a little of both.

I was having a conversation the other night with some friends who are the same age and all of a sudden I blurted out, “Oh, God, on our next birthdays we’ll be 46!” Yep, just call me Captain Obvious. Perhaps at 12:01 a.m. on February 24, the person I feel like will magically be the person I’m supposed to be at my age. Perhaps I’ll experience a rush of confidence and will finally feel comfortable in my own skin. Maybe, just maybe, this awkward phase will have run its course.

But until then, every time I pass a mirror, I’ll see that girl with the half-feathered hair and half-popped collar, trading scratch-and-sniff stickers one minute and sneaking peeks in Danielle Steel romance novels the next. I may be a few years older, but I’m no more sure of myself and definitely no less awkward.

On the Eve of 44

There are still many days when I feel like a fraud — like I’m just pretending to be an adult and at any moment someone is going to recognize that I’m just a kid wearing eyeliner and mom jeans.

Time keeps on tickingIt’s Birthday Eve for me. Tomorrow I’ll wake up the big double-four. And how do I feel about that, you may ask?

Honestly? I. Don’t. Know.

Is it just me, or is 44 kind of the no-man’s-land of ages? Caught in between youngish and oldish, 44 just kind of stands there with a blank stare before offering up a shrug and an apathetic “Eh.”

I mean, I really can no longer pretend to be young. And to be perfectly honest, this kind of stings because there are still many days when I feel like a fraud — like I’m just pretending to be an adult and at any moment someone is going to recognize that I’m just a kid wearing eyeliner and mom jeans.

So even though I may still feel young, in all reality I am not. Heck, according to actuaries I’ve already cruised past the halfway mark of my life expectancy. But here’s the thing: I’m not really old, either.

And therein lies the rub. (And that right there didn’t make me sound old at all.)

Poor 44 seems to be caught in a custody battle between young and old. And in the meantime, 44 is just kind of there.

I’m too old to find it fun to pass around the Jello shots, too young to find it fun to pass around the blood pressure cuff. Too old to have kids (I think), too young to have grandkids (I hope). Too old to get ID’d buying a six-pack of beer at Git ‘n Go, too young to get the $3 senior discount at the movie theater.

At 44, I can no longer in good faith claim to be “just over 40.” But I’m not yet close enough to the next decade that it feels good to boast, “I’ve still got a couple good years ’til 50, by golly!”

If 44 were ice cream, it would, of course, be vanilla. But not even the good vanilla with the little black specks of real vanilla beans — the Super Savers No-Name Best Value brand that’s more yellow than white and tastes like disappointment.

Eh. 44. Whatever.

Maybe this is a license to just do as I darn well please. You think I’m dressing too young? You think I’m acting too old? Geez, I’m 44, what do you expect?

I do believe I’ve officially reached the awkward stage of middle age. But instead of that gangly pre-teen in braces and an “I’d rather b texting!!” T-shirt, I’m that 40-something wearing skinny jeans while I get my grays colored.

So, ready or not, here I come. Bring it on, 44.

I guess we’re stuck with each other.

There, and here: A perspective on suburbs vs. small towns

It’s nearly been a year since moving from suburbia to small-town Iowa. It’s incredible how different life can be only 45 minutes away, especially considering we went from one of the wealthiest cities in the state to one of the poorest counties. Overall, we’re loving the slower pace of life and the stronger sense of community we feel here. We also think it’s important for our kids to grow up in a place where not everyone has everything they want and need.

We moved from a four-bedroom home that we custom built in a newer neighborhood to a three-bedroom 1960s ranch right across from a development of squeezed-together townhomes that I’m pretty sure are run by a slumlord and apartments that don’t always attract the kind of folks you want to invite over for a barbecue. Don’t get me wrong — we love our home and will love it even more when we can afford to update some rooms and finish the basement. But it was quite a change from there to here.

For instance, I used to stress out in our last house because we couldn’t afford to hire a lawn-care company or fertilize and water as much as many of our neighbors. I know our next-door neighbors with the perfectly manicured lawn LOVED it when our dandelion seeds blew into their yard and our creeping charlie crept on over their property line. But here? Well, considering just down the street there are several abandoned homes/meth labs, one of which has its windows broken out with the filthy, faded curtains still blowing in the wind, I don’t get too worried when our grass gets a little too long. We have all of our windows intact, so we are still lookin’ good.

In the suburbs, most people keep their drama confined to indoors. In the 10 years we lived there, I came to realize that some people put on a good show but then live ugly lives when no one’s looking. But we’re finding that in our new neighborhood, people aren’t much for putting on airs. Maybe it’s because the townhomes and apartments are so small that drama often gets played out in public. We’re not startled quite so much now when we hear curse words flying through the air from a nearby driveway or yard. And the cops have made our street part of their regular route. (I’ve only called them once!) My favorite was when an elementary-aged girl and her little brother were getting cussed out by their middle school-aged sister because they wanted her to take them to church. I later learned she has the F-word carved into her forearm. Classy.

Another fascinating difference I’ve noticed between there and here involves bicycles. In suburbia, cycling is a hugely popular recreational activity, with miles and miles of beautiful trails constructed and completed just within the past few years. It was impossible to drive through the city without seeing at least a dozen serious cyclists training for the next road race or just getting exercise with their expensive recumbent bike. Families, all donning their properly fitting bike helmets could be spotted nearly everywhere each evening or summer day, happily riding to the library or just tootling along to spend some quality time together.

That was there. But here? Yes, we see many bicycles, too. However, in many cases, the function of the bicycle has shifted from recreational to transportational. Sure, there are still kids riding bikes (although helmets are rare), and we have seen actual families riding together on an occasion or two. But for the most part, if you’re an adult riding a bike in town, it’s because either you don’t have a license or you don’t have a car. Usually it’s the jeans and cowboy boots that give it away. Not really popular biking attire. Or, in the instance of a man I saw last week, it’s the case of Michelob he is balancing on his hip. You don’t see that much on the Tour de France.

And although we did have a strolling guitar-playing gypsy spotted several different times in our last neighborhood, we did not live near a cross-dressing man who wears a tiara on his balding head and rides a little girl’s bike with pink tassels hanging from the handlebars. That’s something reserved for small-town residents, and something that we just accept (after the initial shock wears off).

The sounds here are different, too. There, we were right off a major road, so the noises of traffic were part of our daily soundtrack. Here, besides the intermittent fighting and cussing, we hear many more birds and animals, including a woodpecker that lives in one of our trees and coyotes that howl at the moon and the passing trains at night. One morning not too long ago I began to hear the sound of a rooster crowing. Kind of charming, in its own way. I figured that since we live on the edge of town, we must be able to hear it cock-a-doodle-dooing from one of the nearby farms a mile or so away. That is, until I took our Boston Terrier for a walk last week and saw the barnyard bird in someone’s backyard in the middle of town. No other animals, just the rooster. I wonder if the adjacent neighbors even have to set an alarm clock?

Even though life is more laid-back here, it’s never really dull. There’s always some interesting development if you just walk down the street or take a quick drive to the post office. I’m not trying to put down life in the suburbs at all. I did it for 10+ years and made great friends and memories. But I do believe it’s not for everyone. For some people, small towns are the only place you truly feel you’re “home,” roosters, booze-toting bicyclists and all.





The 40th birthday post

This isn’t the post I was supposed to write.

I was supposed to tell you a funny story about turning 40. I was supposed to tell you about how I spent my 40th birthday at the BlissDom Conference in Nashville. How I met Jon Acuff, who was completely inspiring.

How Joe Jonas gave a concert just for us and even brought a cake on stage and sang “Happy Birthday” — to someone else (wah wah waaaaah). (And how I inserted my name into the song when I sang it, anyway. So there.)

How I got my picture taken with Rascal Flatts, and Gary Levox put his arm around me and genuinely wished me a Happy Birthday. And how I also got my picture taken with Joe Jonas, who said “Happy Birthday” with his lips but “Oh, yeah, SURE it’s your birthday too, you pathetic cougar” with his eyes.

How I drank a couple blood orange martinis, a couple glasses of wine and one glass of a gross martini concoction made with Swiss Miss hot cocoa (recipe fail!). How I hung out with sweet friends who did their best to make my day special.

How I possibly pilfered a very large poster of The Lorax… (Unless someone from “The Lorax” PR is reading this, and then I most certainly did not.)

That was the post I had planned to write.

But instead, this is the post that came out.

I apologize in advance for any disappointment or general dissatisfaction this may cause you…

About a year ago, I decided I was going to “work on myself” so that I could enter my forties looking good, feeling good (and hopefully, smelling good). I even went so far as to post a time or two about it on my blog. You know, to make me accountable.

Well, we can all see how that worked out…

Blame it on my layoff, blame it on our move or blame it on my favorite scapegoat — my thyroid — it doesn’t really matter. Fact is, I fell off the fit-n-healthy wagon almost before I even got myself hoisted up there.

And contrary to my wishful thinking, my birthday went ahead and came anyway.

I’m usually not one who cares too much about age. I didn’t used to give too much thought to my appearance, either. But now I realize it wasn’t because I’m one of those self-assured women who’s confident in herself no matter what size she’s up to or how many chins she is currently carrying around.

I didn’t give much thought about it before because I didn’t have to. I was relatively young, relatively thin and relatively attractive. I’ve never turned the most heads in a crowd, but I’ve never sent people screaming out of the room either.

Maybe that’s why this big bad birthday has been so hard for me to swallow. Gaining weight has robbed me of my “relatively thin” status, and the extra pounds, as well as the cystic acne flareups that always choose the most opportune times to reappear, don’t make me feel even relatively attractive — and now I am officially kicked out of the “thirty-something” club. Super.

So celebrating my birthday at BlissDom in Nashville seemed like the answer to my birthday blahs. I would rub elbows with inspiring women! I would doll myself up and put on a big smile! I would magically feel younger and prettier! (And a sturdy pair of Spanx would surely make me feel thinner!)

However, it didn’t work quite that way.

I woke up February 24 (after keeping my friend and conference bed-partner awake half the night with my ladylike snores), showered, got dressed, carefully applied makeup and fixed my hair, and I looked in the mirror.

“I look like a lesbian,” I said.

Which is really a crappy thing to say because most lesbians I know look way cuter than I looked, or at least than I felt. What I probably should’ve said is, “I look like Liz Lemon looks when Jack Donaghy tells her she looks like a lesbian.”

Except I didn’t even feel as cute as Lez Liz. At least she has shoulder-length hair, which makes her look a little more feminine even when she wears frumpy shirts and tennis shoes. My hair is currently going through a “phase,” we’ll call it. It’s too short and unfortunately I don’t have that cute pixie face to pull it off. Just picture my face with Kenneth Parcell’s hair. That’s what I felt like.

My self-confidence already waning, it didn’t take much to make me want to crawl back into bed. So seeing about 500 women who are not only smart and successful but also have ka-POW bodies and long, luscious locks didn’t really help matters. Instead of feeling like “one of them,” I felt like the ugly stepsister. The ugly, OLDER stepsister. I wanted to pull the covers over my head and hiss, “Look away, I’m hideous!”

But sometime late afternoon, after I had thrown myself the mother of all pity parties, I began to feel something change inside me. I ducked out of the session I was in a little early and took a walk through the beautiful Gaylord Opryland by myself.

And I realized that over the last few three or four years, one word has been consistently resurfacing within me: humility.

And it just reared its head again.

I thought back to when I first realized this was something I was supposed to be working on, and I remembered how harsh and cold humility seemed.

But now, instead of being an ugly word that I despised, I saw it as something else. Gentler. Softer.


Some of my vanity and misplaced self-pity then began to melt away. And I started to see myself as God sees me.

And I knew then that God wants me to enter my forties humble.

He wants me to enter this next phase of my life with humility so I can take the focus off myself and see through His eyes. Because it’s sure hard to notice anything else when you’re concentrating so hard on yourself.

I don’t think I’m the biggest egotist who ever walked the planet or anything. But the thing is, that doesn’t matter. It’s not a contest. I don’t “win” anything by being less self-absorbed than Snooki or the Kardashians. But I stand to lose every gift God has for me if I take my eyes off Him to stare at myself in the mirror.

That’s not to say that I’m now going to keep packing on the pounds and completely let myself go. That God doesn’t love people who are physically fit or have flawless faces. No, that’s not it at all.

I can still “work on myself.” After all, God created this body just for me. I should still “work on myself.”

I just have to work on myself for the right reasons.

My Anti-Thanksgiving Lineup: Don’t tell me to keep calm!

I’m not trying to be ungrateful here, or tarnish the Thanksgiving celebration. But you know me; I don’t exactly think like everyone else. Oh sure, I’ve been counting my blessings this week, as I try to always do, but I’ve also been keeping a mental list of some things that have been sticking in my craw. Things that I am, well, not thankful for. So instead of telling you how thankful I am for my family (which I am!), my friends (yay, friends!) and our health (which could definitely be worse!), I’m going to tell you some things that, frankly, I could do without. Things that I am soooo over. Shall we begin with my first installment?

“Keep Calm” Posters (and T-shirts and mugs and phone covers and onesies and tote bags and on and on…)

Wow. I’m pretty sure these have been done and redone and re-redone about as many times as is mathematically possible. It started out with “Keep Calm and Carry On,” which is probably a good motto to have. But from there, things just went a little crazy. I can’t browse Etsy without being bombarded with various combinations and mutations of this “Keep Calm” theme. There’s “Keep Calm and Drink Coffee.” HiLARious. Or “Keep Calm and Teach On.” (Husband’s getting that one on a T-shirt for Christmas!) Then there are those that are actually making fun of the “Keep Calm” movement, which I can sort of appreciate, but in all honesty they’re just perpetuating the “Keep Calm” pollution if you ask me. But just to be fair, being Thanksgiving week and all, I’ll share a few that would be my favorites, if the whole business didn’t annoy the heck out of me.

Keep Calm and a Jedi You Will Be
Okay, this one is pretty clever, I’ll admit.
Keep Cam and Spell Check
Please tell me you see the humor in this. If not, keep looking at it until you do.
Freak Out and Throw Stuff
Now this one is much more up my alley.

Some shops are completely grasping at straws for an original “Keep Calm” poster or T-shirt to sell. Really, if you can’t think of anything original without resorting to one of these, maybe it’s a sign that the trend has run its course.

Keep Calm and Love Rhinos
Do that many people really love rhinos that much to warrant printing a poster of it?
Keep Calm and Quack On
Again, really? A rubber duck?
Keep Calm and Eat a Chimichanga
I don’t even know what to say…

The “Bossypants” case for why Tina Fey and I should be friends

I can’t believe I’ve held off this long, but I finally picked up “Bossypants” by Tina Fey this week, and even though I’m not all the way through it yet, I already have more than enough evidence to prove my case that Tina Fey and I were meant to be friends (or prove the state’s case when I am standing trial for stalking Tina Fey — either one).

Several times in my reading so far, I thought Tina had actually stopped writing about herself and started writing about me. Take, for instance, her description of aging:

At a certain point your body wants to be disgusting. While your teens and twenties were about identifying and emphasizing your “best features,” your late thirties and forties are about fighting back decay. You pluck your patchy beard daily. Your big toe may start to turn jauntily inward…We all mentally prepare ourselves for wrinkles, but wrinkles are not the problem. It’s the unexpected grosseries. (Fey 113-114)*

It’s like she’s been secretly filming me every morning in my bathroom!

And her opinion on Hooters and the “hotty-ing” up of America? Yeah, it’s like she took the words right out of my mouth (but then mixed them around, substituted a few and made them sound really funny):

I’ve never understood why every character being “hot” was necessary for enjoying a TV show. Its the same reason I don’t get Hooters. Why do we need to enjoy chicken wings and boobies at the same time? Yes, they are a natural and beautiful part of the human experience. And so are boobies. But why at the same time? Going to the bathroom is part of life, but we wouldn’t go to a restaurant that had toilets for seats … or would we? (Fey 193)

But the icing on the proverbial hot dog was in her chapter entitled “Remembrances of Being a Little Bit Fat” (which follows the chapter “Remembrances of Being Very Very Skinny),” where she lists what she remembers about that particular period in her life. As I read, I was nodding and smiling, making connections and chuckling under my breath. But it was when I got to her very last bullet point that I felt the hair stand up on the back of my little-bit-fat neck:

Once, while ironing in my underwear, I grazed my protruding belly with the hot iron. (Fey 118)

Now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present you with Exhibit A: My blog post from September 12, 2008, entitled, “Please Tell Me This Has Happened to Someone Else…

You find yourself ironing in your bra and underwear.

You underestimate just how much your expanding tummy now protrudes (and NOT because there’s a bun in the oven either).

Consequently, your middle section unknowingly gets a WEE BIT too close to the ironing board . . . and suddenly you have a burn mark from the iron right across your gut.

Now covered by a Go, Diego Go Band-aid.

I ask you, was this a coincidence, or something else? Did Tina Fey read my blog and then subconsciously remember it as happening to her when she was penning her memoir? Although I do have to admit I’m all that, I don’t think I’m quite all that.

I will argue, instead, that it was kismet and let the hard evidence speak for itself.

Works Cited

Fey, Tina. Bossypants. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011. Print.

*Yes, I am actually using parenthetical notation and a Works Cited entry at the end of this post. Yes, I am that serious about establishing these connections between Ms. Fey and myself. No, I didn’t have to look up how to format it. (Yes I did.)


Coming out of my funk

I know, I know. As my friend Jody recently reminded me, I never write, I never call… Why is it that my excuse always seems to be that things have been stressful? It’s never, “I’ve been having sooo much fun in this vacation-like life I lead that I couldn’t tear myself away to write a blog post.” Nope. And just to remain consistent, my excuse this time is no different — Stress. Busyness. Chaos and anarchy.

Here’s the short version:

Husband left for Poland for a month. Three boys played baseball in three different leagues. I was haunted by a rabbit carcass for a week and a half. I lost my job. I had to wait a day for Husband to text me so I could tell him the good news. I spent my 16th wedding anniversary doing laundry. I looked for jobs. I cleaned up poop and puke. I found myself secretly enjoying the new cartoon series “The Amazing World of Gumball.” My mom’s friend told her she was glad to see that I’d put on some weight. She meant it as a compliment. I couldn’t decide whether to thank her or cry. I comforted my 6-year-old after he got bullied by a goat at the zoo. I developed a hyper-perspiration condition. My baby started shaving. I looked for houses to rent. I drank way too many 32-ounce convenience store sodas (69 centst!). I said I’d write a blog post tomorrow.

Well, it’s finally tomorrow. And Husband will be back in 6 days. SIX! The 4th of July is coming up, and you know what that means — a small-town celebration in all its glory (and carnies). And the summer’s moochcation to Rochester, Minnesota, has been planned. Nothing says “vacation” like twice-daily trips to Mayo Clinic!

I’m finally emerging from the funk I was in and have decided to rejoin the land of the living (and literate). Hopefully that means I will keep up my commitment to this blog and maintain my friendship with all of my wonderful bloggy friends. Thanks for hanging with me!

Cool photo by meophamman