Thursday, July 31, 2008

For sale: teenager. Cheap.

In fact, I'LL pay YOU to take her.

However, a couple of conditions apply. Remember, she is slighty used, and there is no warranty and ABSOLUTELY NO RETURNS.

It's a sweet deal, I promise you. She's ... um ... yeah. A sweet deal, like I said.

So where did my lovely little Roo-girl go, and who is this snarly, sullen, depressed, withdrawn TEENAGER she left in her place?

Oh sure, she has always had her high-maintenance moments, but until this summer my girlie has been loving and snuggly and totally mama's girl.

Until 14.

Fourteen has hit our house with a vengeance.

Fourteen is kicking my ass.

Fourteen could be the death of me.

There are many times when I look at Roo-girl and still see this:

And then there are times when I see this:

During those times -- when her head does 360 spins and she spews pea soup -- I want to hold her out the window by her ankles until it's over.

Those of you with older girls, I know you are laughing both with and AT me when I say I really thought I might escape adolescence with our relationship reasonably intact.

Those of you with toddler daughters, let this be a warning to you. Even the most precious and adorable can turn into Linda Blair without warning.

Why, in a mere 24 hours time, I have gone from "Omigod, Mom, I LOVE you -- you're the best" to "All you ever do is YELL at me, and you NEVER yell at my brothers the way you yell at me." (Ahem. That's because she was a toddler when THAT was going on, but never mind that.)

In 24 hours, she has gone from "you were a teenager -- you should understand" to "I don't wanna talk about it." *door slam for emphasis*

And in 24 hours, I have gone from "Oh my baby is growing up and will leave me too soon" to "WHEN does she turn 18 so she move out???"

I can hear you all out there saying "OK, so what did she do, already?"

And the truth is: It's not what she does, it's HOW she does it.

With an eyeroll. With sullenocity (yes, that is TOO a word). With long-suffering angst and drama.

With closed doors and a closed world.

Yep, she's growing up all right.

And yes, I do remember what it was like to be a teenager with *oh the horror* PARENTS!

But sometimes it would be nice if she could think about what it is like to be a parent with *oh the horror* TEENAGERS!

Nah. That'll never happen.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What to do during an earthquake

Here is how the interplanetary family spent the approximately 30 seconds of yesterday's 5.4 magnitude quake:

Me: watching the TVs on the newsroom walls shake; thinking whether getting under the desk was stupid or not; watching editors scurry around and clamping my hand over my mouth to stop from shouting, "STOP THE PRESSES!" Oh, and PLURKING (of course).

Wonderhubby: Working closer to the epicenter than me, therefore getting more of a jolt. Calmly answered the phone 30 minutes later when our cell carrier finally came back to life.

Drummer Man: At work; called his mother immediately (good boy!) on a land line to see if we were all ok.

Drama King: Immediately instant-messaged his mother: "Did you feel that?" Answer: uh, duh!!

Z-man: Exact situation unknown. Was presumed buried under the mass of crap that has collected on his bedroom floor since he returned from college two months ago. Resurfaced later in the day at the home of a friend, much to everyone's surprise.

J-bear: Cowering. She has a deathly fear of earthquakes, which was among the reasons she moved out of her mother's house (bad earthquake there) and into ours ... on the 10th anniversary of the Northridge quake.

The Roo-girl: In summer school. Didn't even realize it was an earthquake until after, even though they made them evacuate the classroom and go outside for about 10 minutes. She thought it was her hyperactive teacher jumping around. *snort*

Oh, and I was the good daughter. I called my parents to make sure they were OK. They didn't answer the phone because ...

My dad: Was slamming and reslamming the front door because it wouldn't close -- thereby missing the whole shebang.

My mom: Was pole dancing with her buddies.

Give a whole new meaning to the question "Did the earth move?"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

That's one small step for man, one giant year for Janetkind

Let the rejoicing begin. Today is the day of all days -- my blogoversary.

Sheesh. What a STUPID word that is to express a year of amazing experiences.

Yeah, anyway, on this very day, one year ago, I put my big toe in the blogocean.

At that time, I had no idea what I was doing. I had read blogs, but I didn't know if I would ever really have anything to SAY in a blog.


Guess I was wrong about that!

As of this moment, I have written 320 posts, clearly surpassing what I thought was customary and reasonable for a shy, retiring creature like me.

Over this past year:

I have written more haikus than I thought humanly possible.

I have poured out my heart, soul and love for my children and my husband in individual birthday posts.

I have offered up my songs to the internet.

I have exposed the inner crazies of my dysfunctional family and regaled perfect strangers with my now-aversion to eating (or watching OTHERS eat) corn.

I have received and given awards, and done memes ... a word I STILL don't understand (and I will spare you the linkies to those -- you're welcome).

I have answered 44 Fun Monday challenges and hosted twice.

I have told a story that no one outside my intimate circle has ever heard.

I guest posted several places.

I have written about my concrete colon.

I have regaled you with tales of the carpool.

And I have made a boatload of friends. See blogroll to your right -- with the exception of a few "A-list biggies" on there, those are people I hang with, play Scrabulous and Challenge Sudoku with, Facebook-chat with, instant-message with, email with and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. (Did I not link you? It's not because I don't love you ... it's because this post was getting longer by the second!)

All in all, this has been one of the most satisfying, soul-enriching, happy experiences of my life.

And it wouldn't have been possible without the support of my husband, the unbridled and unedited mirth out of the mouths of babes and this whacky, amazing community of mommy(or whatever)bloggers that I have fallen into and in love with.

I couldn't get more saccharin here if I pulled up that old chestnut "Today is the first day of the rest of my life."

In this case ... Onward, upward, and here's to another year of the crazies.

I love you guys.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I can now breathe easier for another year

Ms Lastname, Your HIV results are negative. If you have any questions please call 1 888 555-1212.

June Nurse, RN

Fun Monday: the "if I ran the circus" edition

First things first:


My tale of 10 years ago made it onto the Sunday wrapup for the Good Mom/Bad Mom blog at the Houston Chronicle! Whoohoo.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The very-new-to-my-world Mommy Wizdom is our hostess with the mostest this week. And I think she might have a little bit of a control issue -- since she wants to know what we would do if we were in charge:

If you were ruler for a day/week/month/year (your choice on the time) you would ...

Let's see ... I would cure cancer, AIDS and the common cold; eliminate world hunger; and promote world peace.

And I would make chocolate a critical part of a weight-loss program.

The end.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekly Winners: July 20-27

Back from the sea and the wilds of vacation.

Wonderhubby and I took the Roo-girl and her friend (let's call her A2, to distinguish her from Roo's shopping buddy A) on a weekend excursion. Approximately 48 hours of fun and frivolity among the animals.

And then we went to the zoo!


Anyway, in a short period of time, we did Seaworld and the San Diego Zoo. (A lot of walking. Just ask my feet -- those dogs are barking!)

Bunches of miles and a gazillion dollars later, what was the most memorable part of the trip? A $4 "panning for gold" expedition in Old Town San Diego.

I kid you not.

There will be many more photos and stories to come, but for this week's winners, I present ...


Eureka!!! I have found it!!

The final tally:

Totally worth $4, right?

And, for me, the money shot for the entire weekend:

For more weekly winners, go --->here<---

Friday, July 25, 2008

Haiku Friday: the what a catch edition

Haiku Friday

It's the biggest fish
(other than that nasty Jack)
that I've ever met.

Back later ... gone fishin'!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The good, the bad and the cringeworthy

The good:

Vacation days. Whooohooo. Four straight days of NOT being at work.

The bad:

The ongoing hormonal nightmare that is 14 going on 25. (I'm not going to mention any names, but her initials are the Roo-girl.)

The cringeworthy:

Discovering at 3 p.m. that your zipper is down -- knowing that the last time you pulled your pants up was at 9 that morning before leaving for work.

Yeah, I don't want to admit to knowing me either.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Number, please ... and no, she doesn't have ours

Oh woe is me.

Well, not me.

Woe is the Roo-girl -- she of the broken cell phone.

Sit down, my children, and let me tell you a tale from the parental town without pity:

Once upon a time, a certain teenage girl lusted mightily after a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. You know, for ease of texting.

But picky she was, and not easy to please.

Her parents despaired of being able to satisfy her -- though, fear not, they really failed to care, as they felt that some things were just. too. much. for a teenager. Even one who lusts.

So she set out on a journey to find the phone of her dreams herself. And she did.

On eBay.

And she purchased the phone with her own dollars. But alas, she failed to read the fine print and, to her horror, found that the phone was ... ahem ... used.

But it had Tetris already on it, so that was a good thing, right?

And it had a full keyboard for quality texting, so that was a good thing, right?

And indeed it was good, and the teen was satisfied.

But it came to pass -- in a mere seven months -- that the phone of her dreams dropped dead on the spot, to text no more.

The teen was bereft and mourned her phone with a vengeance.

But teens are wont to be fickle, and it wasn't long before she was trolling the internet for another texting phone. This time, though, she was not interested in actually BUYING anything off the internet. Verily, she used it only for research.

And she was pained.

Because the carrier of the castle -- Cingular, which begat AT&T -- has crappy phones, she decreed. Why couldn't we transfer to the greener pastures of Verizon, which has GOOD phones?

Ah, said the patient but firm parents who really failed to care, because we have many phone lines and a contract and an iPhone, which ties us endlessly (and not unhappily) to AT&T. And whims of the teenager will not dictate our plight.

Humph, grumped the teen. Humph and humph and humph.

But perhaps she could LOOK at some phones and touch them and caress them, and perhaps one would light up her life.

In a valiant attempt to solve the problem of the universe for the picky one, the father took her to the AT&T store.

Where, excuse me all to freakin' hell, they bought a BlackBerry.


I do not have a problem with the BlackBerry, per se. In fact, I actually agreed to the purchase. It was a phone upgrade, and there were many rebates and discounts, making it not a big financial deal on its face.


No 14-year-old child of MINE is going to have internet access on her phone.

Not today, not tomorrow, not next year.

And really? A BlackBerry, while cool and cute looking, is pretty useless if you aren't going to be allowed to use the internet.

But, verily, I say unto you that being given a BlackBerry should still be a good thing.

Yet, when she got it home, she hated it.

Hated hated hated HATED it.

The patient yet slightly irritated parents exchanged meaningful looks acknowledging her astonishing brattiness and outrageous sense of entitlement, but remembered that all phones are returnable, no questions asked, for 30 days after purchase.

A trip back to the store was planned, but to the horror and total shock (not) of all concerned, the little darling was unable to find anything else that suited her.

Alas, the teen is now sulking as she is forced to use a conventional cell phone where texting involves the long, complicated, we-all-do-it-so-shut-up-already method of pushing the regular phone keys.

And alas.

The parents continue to fail to care.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh you've got to have friends....

*With apologies to Bette Midler*

I feel I must take time out from my busy busy schedule (huh? WHAT?) for some very special announcements.

First, please look carefully at my bloggy digs today. They look beautiful, don't they?

Well, on Saturday, they did not. Most assuredly not.

There was some sort of weird Photobucket malfunction, and my bandwidth went all wonky (that's a technical term).

I fuh-reaked out, for sure.

And emailed my previous designer (this had happened before and she fixed it right up).

Surprise -- my email bounced back as undeliverable. So I checked out her original site ... which no longer exists.


So I stewed and agitated and freaked out a little (or a lot, as you wish), until about midnight.

And then I did the only thing I could think of.

I emailed a friend.

A friend who designs.

It was late at night and I really wasn't expecting an answer till morning ... or later. So imagine my delight and surprise when I got an almost immediate response.

"Holy crap!!!!!" was her answer when she had looked at my messed-uppedness.

A frantic exchange of emails later, and she was taking jerryrigged images and piecing something together so at LEAST it could be read.

And then she promised to make it all better the next day.

I asked her what the heck she was doing up so late, and this was her response:

LOL. I never sleep. :) Actually I was on my way to bed when I got your email but couldn't leave you with that trainwreck - i love ya too much.
So yeah, she rocks.

And who is this special, wondrous person who rescued me from the depths of bloggy despair?

Please check my sidebar for the addition of something new: I heart Shakespeare.

Because my personal rescuer was none other than Judith Shakespeare herself.

Girlfriend, you rock my world -- both as a blogger and a friend.

And as such, I would like to present you with the first ever "You rock my world" award from little ol' me.

(If I knew how to make it link back to my blog, I would do that, but if I could do that, then I might have been able to fix my problem myself, ya know? Heh.)

I love you bunches, C!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Following all that angst, I woke up Monday morning to some cheerful news, in the form of an award from someone who is near and dear to my heart.

Holly from June Cleaver Nirvana said some REALLY nice things about me yesterday and gifted me with this:

I would give it back to her -- in a big way -- except I think there is some kinda weird weirdness that happens if you try to give someone an award she already has. Oops!

And speaking of oops, yesterday's award reminded me that I am a bad, bad blogger buddy because I neglected to publicly acknowledge some other awards I have been given. *Insert embarrassed hemming and hawing here*

Angela of AOJ and the Lurchers gifted me with this beauty oh-so-long ago. I'm sorry, hon. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dixie Chick of Holding on to Those Southern Roots also awarded me some pretty blings.

A long time ago.


And my most shameful moment follows. This one was given to me, and I can't remember by who. Usually when I download them, I put the giver's name in the name of the jpg. But this special thing? Shamefully, I didn't.

I know I thanked each giver personally the day the bling was given, but I wish I could publicly thank the person who gave me this one. Can anyone 'fess up to that?

I mean, seriously! Who doesn't want to be a must-see blog???

Thank you to all my friends out there.

I suck -- but at least I'm cute.

Or not.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fun Monday: the what do you want to be when you grow up edition

Irish Coffeehouse wants to pick our brains about our career choices.

THEN: As a child day dreaming of what your future would hold for you, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you ever pursue or achieve it?

NOW: If you could be trained and placed in any career beginning tomorrow, what would it be?
Ah, then ...

THEN, I wanted to be a mommy and have lots of children. I even wrote about it when I was in second grade.

THEN, I wanted to be a teacher.


When I started high school, for some reason that I can't even remember, I applied to the journalism class. My friend was doing it, so I guess that's why, although I literally have NO MEMORY of actually turning in a completed application. The class was a year of being a "cub reporter" and then full-on staff of the high school paper.

Anyway, you might think that was the beginning of my long, illustrious, uninterrupted journalism career.

Wrong, my fine friends.

I spent my sophomore year as a cub and my junior and senior years on the staff of my high school newspaper. My first year in college I ventured into the world of the campus newsroom, wrote one story and left.

Why? *shrug* Dunno. I was done, I think.

My new direction was ... preschool or lower primary school teacher. I threw myself into a psychology major and even taught preschool for several months as part of a class.

The plan was to apply to education school and get a teaching credential.

Senior year began, and I collected applications.

I filled them out.

Then I got to the essay: "Why do you want to go to education school?"

And I could. not. think. of. a. single. reason.

That sound you heard was the screeching of brakes as I turned the Janet car around 180 degrees.

Back to my "roots," so to speak.

I enrolled in the communications department classes and applied to journalism programs. Stat.

And never looked back.

Which brings full circle to ...


If I could do it all again and jump, fully trained, into a new career tomorrow, I would ...

*drumroll please*

Be a teacher.

But I would specifically teach music programs for preschoolers, which is something I posted about before. It's still something I am trying to put together. Some day.

If I could have a pipedream career, it would be to have success as a singer. A real one. With a recording contract and a tour.

But for now, I guess I'll just have to continue to grind away at my job at the failing newspaper biz.

If I had only known ...

Now go check out what the other Fun Monday players think about their careers then and now.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekly Winners: July 13-19

Well, that was an exhausting week.

Telling the story of he-who-shall-not-be-named really kicked the stuffing out of me.

Your comments meant more to me than you can possibly know, and I thank you all for your love, hugs and support.

But now ... onward.

I am back again (if you can survive my Photobucket bandwidth problems of the weekend -- gah!!) with more pleasant memories ... of Roo-girl's birthday dinner and her debut as a high school cheerleader.

Can we get a "ta-dah"?:

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear Roo-girl, happy birthday to you!

Everybody got to share:

The incredible evilness of being (the older brother):

Seriously, STOP taking my picture:

The whole famn damily:

From left, Drummer Man, the wonderful girlfriend, Rocky, Drama King, the Roo-girl, Z-man and J-bear. Aren't they adorable?

For more weekly winners, go --->here<---

Friday, July 18, 2008

A decade ... and a million years ago, part 3

Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here.

The gasp as I released my held breath surely was audible in the next county.

"Are you sure? Are you REALLY sure?"

"Yes, you're fine."

I made him repeat it. I couldn't hear it enough times.

I would like to say I did something spectacular at that point, but I really don't remember. I was still waiting for Sue to arrive for some celebrating, now that the hand-holding didn't seem to be necessary.

I know I paced my bedroom, over and over and over.

And then the phone rang again.

"Hello, Mrs. HisLastName," said the doctorish voice I had come to know (and hate). "I was calling to tell you that he-who-shall-not-be-named died a few minutes ago."

I didn't really realize until that moment that you could indeed laugh and cry at the same time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

He was buried two days later. I was not involved in the planning. He had a sister living nearby who did it all.

But I attended the funeral. I didn't go for myself. Nor did I go for any ghoulish curiosity. I went to represent my daughter, who, at 3 1/2, was too young (in my opinion) to go herself.

I had friends there. Friends and neighbors who came for ME, to make sure I was ok.

And after, they gathered at my house. I did nothing. They did it all. Platters of food, drinks, everything.

And after THAT, I was alone with my daughter, my sons and my memories.

Some of them good. Most of them traumatic in some way.

Slowly slowly slowly I pieced my life back together.

The horrors that he perpetrated on my and my children live on, however.

He stole from us.

Both literally and figuratively.

He stole actual dollars from me and from my boys, leaving me with a mortgaged house, bad credit and mounting debt.

And he stole our sense of innocence and trust.

Imagine a gay teenager at the hands of an abuser. Drama King would never be the same.

Imagine the lies perpetrated about my family members and sometimes even about my children by a man who stopped at nothing to destroy everything in my path.

Imagine the fear that I lived with for months and even years. It has been more than 14 years since my last "exposure" -- remember back in part one, I said that giving me the Roo-girl was one of two decent things he did in his life? Refusing to have sex after she was born was the only other.

He knew.

He knew for at least 3 1/2 years and never told me. He knew -- and he watched me nurse our baby, knowing that the virus is transmitted through breast milk.

He knew -- and never sought treatment.

He knew, that BASTARD.

I found proof of that later, after he was dead and I was going through the things he never quite picked up from my house when we separated.

I could understand that he could hate me so much that he would try to share his death sentence. But I could never and CAN never understand why he would put his most adored daughter at risk as a byproduct of that hate.

Fourteen years later, I continue to be HIV-negative.

Yet I continue to be tested. At every physical, I specifically request an HIV test. I know in my head that I am safe. But in a little corner of my heart, I am still afraid.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There is so much more to this story -- other horrors, other nightmares. But I have relived it enough for one week.

And I have so much more to be grateful for. Wallowing in the past seems sacrilegious when I have a loving husband at home, waiting for me with open arms.

Life is good today. I have problems, but they're little ones.

NORMAL problems.

White-picket-fence problems.

And every day, I thank God for another chance to enjoy them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A decade ... and a million years ago, part 2

Part one can be found here.

"Yes," answered Dr. BeatAroundtheBush. "He does."

"Is he dying?"

"Yes, he has pneumocystis pneumonia, and he's terminal."

I was stunned into silence. Oh my God. I'm going to die. I was still nursing my little girl. Not often, not much. But if I'm going to die, SHE'S going to die.

Oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God.

The voice from the phone cut through my rising panic.

"Um. Is there someone there you trust ... someone I can talk to?"

I mentally scanned the backyard, searching for someone who was maybe more than just a neighbor.

The neighborhood doctor's wife?

I put her on the phone and watched her face as my husband's doctor talked to her.

Suddenly, I was surrounded. All the neighborhood wives were there, and they were talking and making phone calls and trying to feed me and seeking information -- not so easy to do 10 years ago on a holiday weekend.

It was not so easy to get tested on a holiday weekend either. None of us had any idea of how to go about this. Through a series of hotlines and referrals, we found a guy.

Just some guy.

Some guy who would come to ME on a holiday weekend and draw blood and tell me my future.

Just some guy.

Today, I shake my head at what I had to do to get the answer I craved and feared. It's so simple now. It was so NOT then.

Just some guy came to my house on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

Pulled out a kit of syringes and needles and alcohol wipes and little tubes.

I gave him my arm and my hopes, and he pulled the answer to my nightmare out of my vein.

And then he went away, with the promise of results in 48 hours.

Let me repeat that.

Forty-eight hours.

Forty-eight hours while I hugged my baby and cried.

Forty-eight hours while I tried to refuse her the comfort she sought from my breast.

And could not.

Forty-eight hours while I plotted out a frightening future that had an end point, filled with pills and regimen and pain and illness and death.

And 48 hours during which Dr. BeatAroundtheBush decided I now needed frequent updates on he-who-shall-not-be-named's condition.

"We've increased his oxygen ... he's on no room air at all."

"His lung collapsed. We reinflated it."

"The morphine drip has been upped to the maximum."

Oh my God stop stop stop oh my God oh my God stop stop stop stop stop oh my God.

How did I live through those horrible 48 hours? I honestly don't know.

My usual support system was gone -- my BFF had left for an anniversary cruise with her husband the morning of the fateful barbecue. I had a tenuous relationship with my parents after my tumultuous marriage.

I had only my neighborhood acquaintances and my boss. Not today's boss, but a woman who was my friend, who shared her divorce attorney, her home, her heart and her help during the months after my separation.

I clung to Sue and her phone calls. She knew that results were due Tuesday at about 10 a.m., and she got in her car that morning and drove like a bat out of hell so she could hold my hand when it did.

She didn't get there in time, though.

At 9:30, my phone rang, and I picked it up, uncertain.

"Janet," said the deep, soothing voice of just some guy.

I couldn't breathe.

"I got your results early, and I wanted to share them as soon as possible."

I closed my eyes.

"You're fine. You're negative."

To be continued.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A decade ... and a million years ago

I was supposed to participate in Fun Monday two days ago, but for the first time since Jan. 1, I didn't post.

Why? I don't know really. I just didn't.

And I didn't post yesterday either.

Part of it was summer malaise. After six straight months of seven-days-a-week posting, I ran out of steam.

And also, I was having an emotional response to Kelley's post about this.

It stopped me in my tracks -- because I remembered.

This is 2008. It is 10 years after 1998.

The year my life turned upside down.

It really began in late 2007 -- THIS day.

Do you need to catch up? Go read that one. I can wait. I have waited 10 years to really tell this story in a public venue. I can surely wait a couple more minutes.

This man -- the one I always amusingly refer to as he-who-shall-not-be-named -- is the father of my little girl. And that? Is one of two decent things he did in his entire life.

After my baby girl was born, my husband refused to have sex with me. He claimed impotence due to diabetes and some heart-related issues. I knew differently. There are ways you can tell, ya know, that the guy is lying about this.

The relationship deteriorated -- and not just sexually. If I wanted this post to be a 12-part series, I could relate chapter and verse of the emotional atrocities he inflicted on me and my boys. But suffice it to say, he was mean. He was cruel. He was abusive, though he never lifted a finger against any of us.

And I was more afraid than I have ever been in my life. He once threatened to put me in a psych ward on a 72-hour watch unless I admitted that I was a liar. My three youngest children were in the backseat as he turned the car around and headed for the nearest hospital. Weeping, I caved. Otherwise, who would save my children from him?

I do not judge those who live in abusive relationships. I know how hard it is to muster up the strength to overcome the fear and walk away. But there did come the day when I promised then-14-year-old Drama King that I would see a lawyer.

And then it was Dec. 10, 1997 -- the day after my birthday and that day I posted about before -- and I threw him out. It was a little bit like a gift to myself and my kids.

But that isn't my point for today.

The divorce proceedings began -- painfully and viciously. The custody of our 3-year-old girl was contentious. And I knew, in my heart, that once we were done, he would walk away with her one day and disappear. After all, he had done it before with his two boys.

My father put it best: "You have to stop thinking about IF he will take her. WHEN he takes her, we will deal with it."

Again, that isn't my point for today.

Not long after we separated, he was hospitalized and released. A couple times. His visits with the Roo-girl became erratic. He canceled court dates. He began calling Roo instead of visiting.

And then he went IN ... and he never came out.

But I knew nothing of what was ailing him. I would call the nurses station every day to see if they would tell me anything. I found out that he was on a morphine drip. I found out that, eventually, he was on a ventilator.

Finally, one of my friends, who was a doctor at that hospital, volunteered to look in on him and report back. His answer? "HWSNBN's doctor will call you later."

So. It was Memorial Day weekend. My boys were with their dad. I was invited to a neighborhood barbecue, and so I got a babysitter for the Roo-girl and left specific instructions on how to find me if the doctor called. (This was really before the cell-phone explosion. I didn't have one at that time.)

Off I went.

Until my friends' phone rang, and I was summoned to talk to Dr. BeatAroundtheBush.

"Well," he began, "HWSHBN came in to the hospital and at first we were thinking it was autoimmune-related, but he denied any at-risk behavior blah blah tests blah blah continued to deny blah blah we finally ran tests ..."

"Oh. My. GOD," I gasped.

"He has full-blown AIDS, doesn't he?"

To be continued.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekly Winners: July 6-12, or the chronicles of Carl

I have a little tale to tell today ...

It's the story of Carl. Carl actually belongs to Holly at Anglophile Football Fanatic (dotcom), but he is going on a whirlwind trip around blogland.
First he stopped at the home of Blue Momma, where he went swimming with Punkin.

He lounged around in Blue's car for awhile before flying 'cross country, where he finally landed on MY planet.

The thing about Carl, though, is that he has a bit of a problem.

He arrived here last week, half in the bag:

And before long, I found him snuggling up to the Kahlua bottle:

Binge drinking never ends well:

I felt bad for the poor guy, but I was NOT going to be responsible for his bad behavior. So I sobered him up with a lot of hot coffee:

And shipped him off to rehab -- where he met a lot of interesting drunks people, including Fifi La Fly:

... a Hollywood wannabe (a little plastic, if you ask ME) with stars in her eyes and a penchant for silver jewelry.

Anyway, Carl was hooked. He couldn't take his eyes off Fifi and soon was shacking up with the ... ahem ... young lady.

This particular rehab place had an interesting way of treating their patients. It totally involved an infusion of antioxidants ... whipped to a frenzy in the blender of loooooooove.

Now, seriously, I think Fifi is really not appropriate company for our recovering Carl, so to get him away from this baaaaaaad influence, I am shipping him off to see Vdog.

There is a rumor that she is taking him to BlogHer next weekend.

I hope he doesn't get into trouble there.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Next week, I promise better photos -- Roo-girl's birthday dinner, possibly some photos of her debut as a high school cheerleader and whatever else is interesting this week.

For more creative and/or serious weekly winners, go --->here<---

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I don't like / I like

Something that makes me insane:

People who don't think before they open their mouths and give away the twist in a movie you haven't seen yet.

Like Mr. ADHD Man at work. Who approached my deskmate and asked about the twist in "Hancock," told him to write it down so no one had to hear it ...

And then blabbed it out loud anyway.


Reminds me of when "The Empire Strikes Back" was about to be released (1980 -- I'm old). The movie critic, entertainment editor and a bunch of others had seen a preview and commented that Darth Vader was Luke's father. (Oh, I didn't give it away for ya, did I?)

I hadn't seen the movie yet (because it hadn't been released yet!!) and was a dedicated "Star Wars" geek. So THANKS, guys ...

Something that makes me happy:

New software update for my iPhone.

For the zillions of several zero people who worried that I had received my iPhone just before the announcement of the new, cheaper 3g model, fear not.

The 2.0 software rocks. And I get it just for sitting here like a duchess.

And the $199 price for the new phone includes a $10 increase in the MONTHLY fee from AT&T, which, over the course of a two-year contract, adds up to more than we paid for my phone.

There are now third-party applications that are free. FREE, I say!! Games. AOL Instant Messenger. Pandora.


Almost makes up for having the secret of "Hancock" revealed prematurely.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Haiku Friday: Happy birthday to my baby

Haiku Friday

Fourteen years ago
The Roo-girl made her debut.
No stopping her now ...

Roo-girl, you are -- again -- the last of the Mohicans. The last one to get a birthday post during my first year of blogging.

Oh, I really wanted to do a full-on post in haiku for you, Rooty, and even though I had plenty of advance warning, I didn't get to it.

I thought I'd have more time.

This is a birthday you have looked forward to with great anticipation, as I have promised to relax the restriction on dating.

I thought I'd have more time.

You have grown into a beautiful young woman with ambition and goals, a sense of humor and a firm sense of self.

I thought I'd have more time.

You greet each day with a look ahead. I greet it the same -- except I also look back.

Back to my sweet baby and her sweet baby kisses.

Back to the fatherless toddler.

Back to the adored little sister.

Back to the tiny cheerleader going up in her very first stunt ... and then back to the first back handspring.

Back to the middle-schooler with straight A's.

Back to a bat mitzvah girl who made us proud.

I thought I'd have more time.

As you enter the next phase of your life -- as a high school freshman and a talented athlete -- you have one hand reaching firmly toward the future, even while I try to hold tightly to the other.

I really thought I'd have more time.

But I don't. I only have the fleeting, magic moments. The photos. The memories. The shopping.

I wish I had more time. But I have to be satisfied with the precious, precious time I have had. And oh, am I ever ...

Happy birthday, my darling girl.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank you, ma'am, may I have another?

A Starbucks barista handed me my change yesterday and said, "Thank you, miss."

I nearly kissed her on the mouth.

"Miss." What a lovely term to hear when you are on the other side of the IHOP senior menu.

Because what I hate with a passion? Is being called "ma'am."

Ugh. Ick. Feh. Gag. Barf.

DON'T call me that. My 78-year-old pole-dancing MOTHER doesn't even want to be called that.

But that does beg the question: What should we women of a certain age (or respectability) be called?

Because honestly? "Miss," though kind and gentle on the aging ears, is probably not appropriate for a married mother of five -- all but one of whom is over 18!

Now guys have it a little easier: "Sir."

You may think that "sir" is your father. But think about it. It's also a title for a person who has been recognized by the British monarchy. Pretty special, huh? A picture of distinguishment and virtue.

But "ma'am"? Someone's aged grandma, right?

So I was thinking about the alternatives, cuz, really? There aren't a lot of choices.

The feminine equivalent of "sir" (anglophilically speaking) would be "dame."


"Thank you, dame" just seems a little creepy and brings to mind some ship-bound sailors who are starved for some feminine attention after being shipwrecked in an aging Rodgers and Hammerstein production.

Of course there is always the Jerry Lewis way: Hey, LAY-DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! (With apologies, of course, to Mr Lady, who IN NO WAY sounds like Jerry Lewis -- I don't think.)

Poo. There is just no good answer to this one, except to continue to get the ickies when some pimply-faced teenage grocery store bagger asks me if I need any help out, MA'AM!!!!

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On another completely unrelated topic, linked only by the obtuse coffee reference in the first line of this post:

The coffee from the lunchroom machines at my office has a reputation for being N.A.S.T.Y.

It is not undeserved.


Imagine my surprise and delight when, after sliding my dollar into the magic slot, lights blinked and beepers beeped and my portrait of George Washington slid back out at me.

"Winner! Winner! Winner!" the machine burbled with delight.

"Whoohoo," exclaimed an excited Janet, always loving a free cup of coffee (or whatever that crap is really).

So I watched the cup fill ... and then stop.

At about the two-thirds mark.

Yes, I got a free cup of coffee from The Man this morning.

But he cheated me out of my just desserts.

Wait. Did someone just say desserts?

Anyone for pie?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

For the Nikster, with love

My friend Nikki, whose husband thinks she's weird, is feeling kinda low while she waits for HCG levels.

So a bunch of us (oh no, I can't link 'em all...) have put together an online get-better-and-chin-up-and-we-love-you party.

I wanted to send her some special reading material while she's on bedrest. Sorta to keep her mind sharp and off her troubles.

Here, Niks ... I got lots of this stuff for you:

Also, when I'm feeling blue, I know that ice cream is the perfect antidote. Just give me a container and a spoon, and I'm a happy camper.

So we'll be dishing up a heaping helping of this, my friend:

But most of all, THIS:

Love ya, girl.

So ... please go over to Nikki's place and wish her hugs and love and Elvis ice cream. She needs us.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

She was born ... therefore we celebrate

The Roo-girl is taking a flying leap this weekend -- cheer camp, you know.

And with her birthday coming up on Friday, we decided to celebrate her special day with one of those amazing all-skate family dinners this past Sunday instead.

Ah, yes. You DO know what's coming, don't you?

Surprise! You DON'T.

Because my children? Were amazingly well-behaved.

Oh sure, Roo-girl informed everyone that she can no longer eat corn.

And of course, there were many recountings of how the Roo-girl was going to turn into a boy on her next birthday (something her brothers have tormented her with since she was 7).

Naturally, there was a moment when the subject of Angelina Jolie came up and the Drama King reminded us: "Still gay."

And let's not forget ... uh ... the thing that I forgot. Which I would blame on my advanced CRS disease (Can't Remember Shit), except that I asked both Z-man and Roo about one specific incident and, although they don't have advanced age to blame it on, THEY CAN'T REMEMBER EITHER.

And, well, you know it wouldn't be dinner with my kids if there hadn't been poking. And insults. And teasing. And torture. And, frankly, the spraying of liquids out of noses.

Wait. Did I say they were well-behaved? Hmph. I guess everything is relative.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fun Monday: the Gone Fishin' edition

Olive of the cleverly titled and bannered Ur Olive has jumped into the Fun Monday hosting fray this week. She thinks a brain fart made her do it. I think it's more like the crazies, but that's just me.

Anyway, here is her challenge:

Hey, we are starting a new month and will be celebrating our Day of Independence soon in the US so let’s make the next FM a fun time. I would like to hear about your *whopper* of a fishing story. Yes, you heard it correctly whether it is fictional or non fictional I want to hear a fishing story from you. An example would be if you catch a minnow and tell it that you caught a swordfish (exaggeration is the operative word here). Did you hear me say show your photo(s)? Of course you did – be creative.
Um. I don't fish. I fished when we spent summers at the beach as a child, but that mostly involved unsuccessful forays with droplines off a pier.

My kids, however, fished. Once. Wonderhubby took J-bear and Z-man on a charter boat thingy. They caught a LOT of fish. They had it prepped at the harbor. We froze them.

I don't really think we ate any of it.

OK, maybe once.

HOWEVER (and yeah, didn't you know there was a "however" in here?) ...

My best fish story actually doesn't involve poles, lines, bait or even boats.

It was the start of my relationship with Wonderhubby (uh, Wonderdate, at the time).

We had "met cute" in a karaoke bar (I told this story a loooong time ago) and after all the dosi-do'ing in the bar (Is he here tonight? Did he go to the OTHER karaoke place instead? etc.), we were finally going out on our first real date -- dinner.

Which led to a second.

This time, he took me to the movies -- a matinee. Let me revise that. He MET me at the movies (I didn't let him near my children or my house for almost six months).

I had carefully -- and I mean CAREFULLY -- pre-selected a film that was not gonna be a cryfest, a chick flick or romantic in ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.

Please remember I was still pretty scarred from my marriage to he-who-shall-not-be-named and the aftermath, and I didn't want to put myself into a gooby, squishy, lovey-dovey place just yet.

Afterward, we sat in his car before I took off in mine.

And he started to talk. Please remember, we were still getting to know each other. It would be awhile before I understood how his mind works -- and the occasional disconnect between brain and mouth, resulting in tangled thoughts that sprint past the mental gatekeeper and spill out into the world, unfettered.

He said something about exclusivity. About not dating anyone else. And some other stuff that, quite honestly, I do NOT remember because I was very busy holding on to the car door handle with a death grip.

Eventually he figured out that he was scaring the holy crap out of me, and he stopped talking. And we parted company.

The next day I got an email. (And for the record, it took a search of the hard drives of TWO previous computers to find a copy of it. Hi, honey, I love you!!!)

All I was trying to say today was that my intentions are honorable.

Perhaps I could use a fish analogy. Some people catch a fish just to hold it up for a moment and take a picture with it. Then they put it back in the water and let it swim away.

Others catch a fish, take it home and eat it. That doesn't sound right. Take it home and mount it -- that sounds dirty. Oh well, the point I'm trying to make is once I get someone hooked on the line (I don't mean that to sound like it hurts), I take all the lines from all the other poles out of the water so the lines don't get crossed up, ending up with a tangled-up mess. Once I, metaphorically speaking, get the fish in the boat I have no intention of letting it go.

I am not saying that I will ever get you in the boat. There is no timetable associated with any attempt to get you in the boat. I would never deceptively coerce or attempt to force you into the boat.

I do agree that we should, as you say, play it by ear. It's that my ear is telling me to reel.

Who knows? The drag may be set too loose and you may just swim away with my line. Or maybe the drag is set too tight. I pull too hard and the line snaps.

I know no one knows what the future may hold. I just know if I quit reeling, however fast or slow, you never end up in the boat (which could happen).

By the same token, if you ever get the notion you definitely would not like to be in the boat, just let me know and I will cut the line. (Please don't be too hasty on that decision.) The main point I am trying to make is that I'm not just some jerk trying to get another notch on my gun (a bit of western metaphor).

-- Wonderdate

Please don't think I'm nuts. I just like you to know where I'm coming from.
Ooooooooookay then.

It required another writer (my BFF) to help me construct a reply, since I was busy fuh-reakin' out. And although he saved a copy of what we know refer to as "the fish story," my response is lost in cyberspace.

The gist of what I said, however, was this: Let's just take this one step at a time. And considering how long I have been out of the dating ocean, don't set the line too tight or too loose. For now, I'm just enjoying the fishing trip.

Is he cute or WHAT?? After all his effort to set the hook, how could I help but fall in love and live happily ever after?

So ... that's my fish story. What do the rest of the Fun Monday'ers have to offer today?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Weekly Winners: June 29-July 5

This week's photos did NOT come from my camera. They are Rocky's (that's the Drama King's boyfriend, for any newbies in town). He thought I needed some photos. I laughed myself sick.

Captions, in most cases, are his as well. Those two were MADE for each other.

There's no need to fear -- DK-Man is here!

Here, kitty kitty kitty:
You would never know just how allergic he is ...

Self-explanatory ... but kinda weird:

Kiss the booboo?

I saved the best for last ... no comment needed:

For more weekly winners, go --->here<---

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hot, hotter, hottest ...

The Drama King officially moved in with the boyfriend last weekend, and as is usual in all things moving, he needed a bigger vehicle for transporting purposes.

Enter the Green Meanie, our soon-to-be-unregisterable minivan (the two-year exemption on its failure to pass the smog test runs out in December).

So when DK and Rocky returned the vehicle (please note we did NOT volunteer to help with any of this -- like, yuck!), and while our resident IT expert Rocky and Wonderhubby puzzled over our computer's failure to reboot properly, DK and Z-man sat on the stairs and spoke in tongues.

Which is to say they were talking about video games.

I have not a clue on this planet what they were talking about. It had to do with ISOs and Alcohol (not drinks, the program -- whatever) and a bunch of other stuff that I can't even remember.

Until they got to this:

Drama King: We're going to see "Wall-E" tonight.

Z-man: Oh, gag.

Drama King: It looks adorable.

Z-man: That right there? That's the problem. I have no interest in seeing "adorable." You should go see "Wanted" instead.

Drama King: I have no desire to see that. I don't like Angelina Jolie.

Z-man: Yeah. The movie is going to suck. But Angelina Jolie is HOT.

Drama King: Hello? GAY???

Evil Mother: Bwahahahahahaa.

Drama King: Now Chris Evans ...

Evil Mother: Who?

Drama King: The Flame from "Fantastic Four."

Z-man: Is that the guy from "Cellular"?

Drama King: Yes. And that's the reason I bought that dvd, whether the movie sucked or not *whispering*(which it did).

So there you have it.

Angelina for the straights.

Chris for the gays.

Aren't you glad you stopped by????

Friday, July 4, 2008

Haiku Friday: the fashion forward edition

Haiku Friday

Rat dogs on the prowl
create a fashion statement:
Crotchless bikini

Photographic evidence that no matter WHERE a teenage girl leaves her bathing suit bottoms (drying on a chair), the rat dogs will find it.

Happy Independence Day, everyone. (And if you're not an American, Happy July 4th. You have one of THOSE either way!!!)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Random acts of blondness, part the fourth

On the way to summer school, the Roo-girl was struggling, struggling, struggling to untangle a knot in the chain of her necklace.

The Roo-girl: Oh, yeah, success!!

Evil Mother: You fixed it?

The Roo-girl: Oh yeah, I rule. I beat the system. Down with The Man!


The Roo-girl: Um. Who's The Man?

Evil Mother: Bwahahahahaha.

The Roo-girl: Seriously. Everyone says "Down with The Man" but who's The Man?

Evil Mother: *still laughing* The establishment. Government. That kind of thing.

The Roo-girl: Ohhhhh. *glaring* It's not that funny, ya know.

Evil Mother: *knowing she is TOTALLY blogging this* Oh yes it totally is. You make me laugh out loud. You totally make me ...

The Roo-girl: DON'T SAY IT!!!!!

Evil Mother: ... LOL.

The Roo-girl: Don't EVER say that again. You are SO annoying.

Evil Mother: My job here is done.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Roo-girl: Can I get some gum? My teachers let me chew it in class.

Evil Mother: Are you SERIOUS????

The Roo-girl: Yes. Chewing gum stimulates your brain.

Evil Mother: Oh please.

The Roo-girl: It's TRUE! Mrs. Sixth-Grade-Math-Teacher ALWAYS let us chew gum during standardized testing!

Evil Mother: *sigh*

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This is my 300th post. Holy crap, people. Who knew I was so freakin' verbose????

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Winners, we've got winners!!!

We had five commenters yesterday who knew that "Why is there air?" is attributable to one of my fave rave comedians: Bill Cosby.

I wish I could have found the actual routine, but there is no YouTube record of that particular one. It was, however, the title "track" of a comedy album that I completely wore out as a kid.

Instead, I offer you his version of the story of Noah's ark. (Yes, that is a big, scary photo of him -- get over it. Thank you.)

Ok, enough of the funny stuff. I know you all want to know WHO WON MY SPECIAL PRIZE!!! I entered the five brilliant commenters into the giant maw of, the official bloggish randomizer, and ...

*drumroll please!*

The winner is ...

Sarah from Redefining Perfect!

And because I am all about fairness, and not discriminating amongst the YOUNGER whippersnappers, I created a SECOND winner. You didn't even have to have the answer; all you had to do is comment.

So I entered ALL of you into the giant black hole of and came up with ...

*trumpet fanfare here*

Catwoman from Canadian Thoughts in Texas!!

Both of you, please email me your snail mail addy (my address is in my sidebar) so I can get your special Janet Planet package out to you (uh, when I think of what goes in 'em)!


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A bit of celebratory business...

Laurie of the Seven Stories has bestowed upon me a great honor.

It is the Arte y Pico award, originated by Arte y Pico and passed along to bloggers who inspire others with their creativity and their talents, also for contributing to the blogging world in whatever medium. When you receive this award it is considered a "special honor." Once you have received this award, you are to pass it on to 5 others.

I am truly touched to have been given this award, Laurie, and in keeping with its specialness, will pass it on lovingly, and according to the rules:

1) Pick 5 blogs that you would like to award this honor to.
2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3) Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4) Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y Pico" blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.


I would like to award this lovely tribute to creativity to everyone, but since I can only pick five, I guess I have to narrow it down some. Here are my five:

Miss Anne Derstood, who pulls no punches, takes no prisoners and names names (except her own). She is the one I turn to when I'm not sure about a touchy post. She is also the one who pretty much made me what I am today (whatever that is ...). I loves ya, baby!

Anglophile Football Fanatic, more commonly known as AFF ... or just plain Holly. She writes a kick-ass post and plays a mean game of Scrabulous. My descent into the madness of Facebook has solidified a wonderful friendship with a woman who never ceases to amaze me.

Holly of June Cleaver Nirvana. Despite the fact that I can NEVER stay on her updating blogroll for more than five minutes, she is one of my favorite reads. Holly's Animated Life is not appropriate reading material at work -- not because of risque content but because people look at me funny when I spit assorted liquids all over my keyboard and snort uproariously. She totally inspires me.

Jen from The Amazing Trips gets my fourth nod. Why? Because she is the only person I know who, with her husband, could pick up at a moment's notice and drive across country with 3-year-old triplets and not-quite-1-year-old son and not lose her ever-lovin' mind. Plus she doesn't mince words. When she does lose it, she tells us. In real words with real feeling. Mostly I lurk on her site, but I don't miss a post.

And last, but totally not least, is JJ the Laundress. As a charter member of the Janets Who Blog Club, JJ is another one who amazes me with her candor and introspection. She has had a tough time with motherhood and she tells all. Hugs, my friend.

That's my list. Five of the many who inspire me as a blogger, a mom and a person. I could only pick five. Which is sad, really, because so many of you are part of my daily life.

Love ya. Mean it.
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