Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Explanations for My Absence that are Way More Interesting than the Truth

1. I single-handedly solved the world energy crisis.  You just didn't hear about it because of all the Bristol-Palin Dancing with the Stars drama.

2. I was hunting wolves with my Uncle Rico in Alaska.  (GOSH.)

3. I was adapting Swan Lake into an urban rock musical (Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren have signed on, and Queen Latifah's a maybe).

4. I stole the cookies from the cookie jar.

5. I underwent plastic surgery to give myself a second nose.

6. I underwent more plastic surgery to remove the second nose. 

7. I was appointed to the Obama administration.  Then I quit, and then was re-hired.  Twice.

8. I made the world's largest rubber-band ball, only to drop it into the Monongahela River.

9. I invented a new formula for glue, which I sold to the Post-It company.  I'm now richer than your entire street.

(not really. :-(  )

10. I was learning Mandarin, Arabic, and Spanish.  At the same time.  (Seriously.  Try me.  Ask me a question in the comments, and I will answer it in Mandarabanish.)


Anyway, I was actually not doing any of those things (except the Mandarabanish).  I was just being really busy and stressed out.  If I go for a bit without posting in the next month, it's because I've got some family things going on, and I may not be able to post. 

But I will whenever I can!  I've still got the very best of my wedding mishaps, injury stories, and other schadenfreude-laced humor that I can't wait to share with you, internet friends!  So please stick with me, and I'll get back to regular posts as soon as possible.  Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Haikus about Homeownership

Sometimes, the knowledge that the Husband and I own a house fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  I sit down by my fireplace with a glass of red wine and a book, and think to myself, "You're on your way to being a bona fide grown-up!  Just look at your conservatively-decorated living room!"

Other times, I just want to put on my ranty-panties and chuck power tools at the walls.  These times include:

- When something breaks, clogs, or otherwise malfunctions

- When something costs more than I thought it would

- When something spills on the carpet

- When paint leaks under the painters tape and I have to touch up the ceiling

- When the painters tape pulls off the dried paint that I just applied and I have to start over

- When we write another check to our dreadful "home improvement 'specialist'"

- When I look at our master bedroom, still awaiting paint, cleaning, and furnishing

- When I realize that it's Sunday at 11:30pm; and that rather than completely finishing ALL THE HOME STUFF that weekend, all I've accomplished in the past two days is eating, sleeping, petting the dog, and watching football.  And occasionally blogging.

Anyway, my home-rage boiled over a little while ago, so I decided that a haiku catharsis would be less destructive than setting fire to the bathroom.  Here we go!

Also, Pre.S.: If you post your own homeowner haikus in the comments section, there is a marvelous, marginally mystical DUCT TAPE prize that awaits the best one!

To Our Bathroom "Contractor" (June)
Sounds reasonable...
When can you get started, and
When will it be done?

Swirled Plaster Walls
When was this ever,
EVER a good idea?
Godspeed, young sander.

To Our "Contractor" (July)
"It costs what it costs!":
NOT acceptable, you twat!
Your estimate's crap!

Blue Painters Tape
You're made for painters
So why do you let paint through?!
Now my ceiling's green.

To Our "Contractor" (August)
You said we'd have it by now.
Really?  Where is it?!

Phillips Head Screwdriver
Why can I find you
Only when I need flat-head?
Where are you hiding?

To Our "Contractor" (September)
Apparently, you
can't do math or plan ahead.
How is this your JOB?

Antique Doorknobs (which are loose and wobbly)
Old, lovely, but weak --
You're like Cloris Leachman on
Dancing with the Stars.

To Our "Contractor" (October)
WHAT's not included?
Oh, but we "could pay extra?"
Leave your key.  We're done.

Clogged Garbage Disposal
I have asked nicely.
I've tried to clean you out.  Now

Clogged Toilet
Wondered why Husband
Was so eager to walk dog.
Now it all makes sense.

Clogged Vaccuum Cleaner
Thought that bagless meant
You would not cause me this pain.
But you suck.  Really.

Clogged *Fill-in-the-Blank*
Had no idea
That once you buy a new home
All that can, will clog.

You know what? I feel a little better now!  In a weird way, grumbling about things that are clogged managed to clear my head a bit. 

Maybe this weekend I will seriously get some stuff done on the house.  Or maybe I'll just watch the Ohio State game while I crochet Christmas decorations and eat pizza rolls.  Either way, as long as NOTHING ELSE CLOGS, I think I'll be okay.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wedding Mishap Countdown!!! #7: A Trio of Mothers Who Know How to Party

One of the greatest things about weddings is how multi-generational they are.  For instance, you get to see your mother/your future spouse's mother/your friends' mothers in scenarios and states of being that you never thought possible. 

Ready for this?  Okay, here's mother-partying-like-a-rockstar story number one!

(I'm feeling a reality-TV logo vibe tonight)

For the wedding of our college friends Annie and Scott, the Husband and I had the honors of serving as Best Man and Bridesmaid, respectively.  We arrived in Scott's hometown the day before the wedding, ready to bring the party.  Little did we know that it had already been brought.

The rehearsal went well, and it was followed by a delicious, fantastic dinner, during which we got to know the other members of the wedding party better.  Afterwards was when things got hot and fancy.

The groomsmen and bridesmaids had every intention of holding separate bachelor/bachelorette festivities.  The Maid of Honor and I ran out to Wal-Mart to stock up on Buttershots and Sour Apple Pucker, while the Husband spearheaded the purchase of a large quantity of beer.  However, our wedding party was made up largely of a group of mutual friends, so it didn't take long for us to combine our alcohol stores parties.  After a foray to Bennigan's for deep-fried deliciousness and some preliminary drinks, we returned to the hotel.

"Which room should we hang out in?"  We wondered.  Our decision was quickly made, as the Mother-of-the Bride and family invited us into their swanky suite.

I know what you might be thinking.  "Srsly?  Hanging with the bride's parents?  The night before the wedding?  That's 'square' squared!"

(h/o, just blew my mind a little with the thought of "square" squared.  Whew.  okay.)

Here's the thing.  Annie's family is from Wisconsin, where alcohol is as much a part of the culture as it is a method for surviving the winter.  Her parents currently live in Alaska, where there is little else to do besides spy on the Russians go fishing star in Sarah Palin's Alaska count write-in ballots imbibe.

So commenced the libations.  We played games, sang songs, and took shots.  By "we" I mean the bride and groom, the bride's and groom's friends, and the bride's extended family.  This began around 11pm.

By about 2am, only the stoic remained: Annie, Scott, Annie's parents, a few out-of-town friends, the Husband, and me.  The Sour Apple and Buttershots were gone.  The beer was mostly gone.  Bottles of vodka and rum -- scant to gone.  Annie's parents' mini-fridge full of beer... pretty much empty.  My head was rather spinny, but mostly I was just inordinately sleepy.  As my eyes started to flutter closed for the umpteenth time, yet another shot glass was pushed into my hand.

"What is this?" I murmured.

"Tequila!"  Annie's mom said brightly.

I pulled my heavy eyelids open.  I had watched this woman consume enough alcohol to put a freshman boys' dormitory to shame.  How could she possibly still be conscious, let alone... perky?

"I think I'm done," I croaked.  With a weak smile, I set down the shot glass and tottered across the hall to my room.  The Husband shortly thereafter followed suit.

The next thing I knew, it was the morning of the wedding.  I rolled out of bed feeling like I hadn't slept at all, and I staggered into the bathroom, realizing as I painfully blinked that I had slept with my contacts in.

Somehow, I managed to shower, get dressed, and brew a cup of coffee.  The Maid of Honor picked me up for our hair appointment, after which I bumped into the Mother of the Bride in the hotel lobby.

"How're you doing?"  She greeted me.  To look at her, you would have thought she had gotten ten hours of beauty sleep and been awakened by chirping birds and Disney mice.  I, on the other hand, looked like a dehydrated cave-troll with puffy eyes and immaculately-coiffed hair.

"Fine, thanks," I managed to say.  She smiled a wise smile and patted my shoulder.

"Better wake up," she said, "because the real party starts tonight!"


Aaaaand here's mother-partying-like-a-rockstar story number two!

A mere week after the festivities of Annie and Scott's nuptuals, our friends Jillian and Rob held their wedding in the panhandle of Florida (it was a busy wedding summer).  The nice thing about this wedding in particular was that the bride and groom were high school friends of the Husband, and his whole family was invited: mother, father, and sister.  And me.

The wedding was a perfect fit for the happy couple.  The beautiful old church was stuffed to the gills with well-wishers, and the altar was crowded with blushing bridesmaids and genteel groomsmen.  Then the party really started.  The reception was held in a local hotel, with a fantastic set-up for buffets, chatting tables, and plenty of dancing. 

Here was the thing about the dancing, though.  I really, really like to dance, even though I vaguely resemble a flying spaghetti monster when I attempt anything more complex than the Cha-Cha Slide.  The Husband does not like to dance.  He takes after his father in that regard.  However, his mother DOES like to dance, and the Husband had promised her (grudgingly, good-naturedly) that he would dance with her at this reception.

Well, a couple of hours went by with minimal dancing on his part.  The Sister-in-Law and I tore it UP on the dance floor (at least, we did the way I remember it), with the occasional guest appearance of the Mother-in-Law.  As the night went on, though, the Husband's mother grew concerned that no more sweet, sentimental, mother-son-dance-ready songs would be played.  Finally, the waiting got to be too much.

Mother-in-Law: All right, son.  Next slow song is MINE!
Husband: (sighs, secretly not really minding that much) ...Fine.

Well, the next slow song came on.  The Mother-in-Law triumphantly took her son's hand and led him to the dance floor for a Hallmark-memory-in-the-making.  And it really was.  There's just something about a guy leading his mom on the dance floor that is very sweet and human.  And so glad was the Mother-in-Law to be dancing with her handsome, tuxedoed son, that she didn't even take notice of the song that was playing.


The song happened to be the Marvin Gaye classic, "Let's Get It On."

The Husband's high school guy friends latched onto this sentimental/awkward scene (awkwamental?) and responded as any good high school friends would -- with whooping laughs. 

Then, however, the fellas stepped up to the plate like manly, grown-up champs.  They lined up, and started cutting in on the Husband and "Mama G." 

By the final round of "Nothin' wrong with love/if you want to love me/just let yourself go, oh baby," the Husband's mother had danced with no less than a half-dozen of the Husband's best friends, who had spent much of their adolescence playing Halo in her family room.  And there was something very sweet and human about it all.


All right.... (rubs hands together) Here comes mother-partying-like-a-rockstar story number three!

(I didn't even have to doctor this logo!  However, I'm a little depressed that this show actually exists...)

This past wedding season, the Husband and I got to attend another wedding in the Florida panhandle.  We had the privilege of celebrating another duo of his high school friends, Rick and Sammie, tying the knot in a festive fashion.  By this time (two years after our own wedding), I had managed to rid the Husband of some of his anti-dance tendencies.

Like so many of the weddings we have happily attended, this one was gorgeous, full of celebration, and unique to the bride and groom themselves.  Additionally, this wedding had one of the most relaxed and welcoming atmospheres of any we had attended.  Perhaps that (along with the open bar) was what emboldened the Husband to do what he did.

The thing you must understand about Rick's mother is that she is incredibly attractive.  Also, to look at her, you would be shocked to learn that she has a marriageable-age son.  As the Husband told me at some point, Rick took a fair amount of teasing for this over the years.  Also, across the decade of their friendship, many teenage nights playing Halo were spent at Rick's house.  Just as close as my Mother-in-Law, the beloved "Mama G," is to this group of friends, is Rick's mom.  So.

Upon a slight lull on the dance floor, the DJ announced that he was taking requests... and I should cop to a smidgen of complicitness at this point.  I joked to the Husband, "You should ask him to play Stacy's Mom!" 

(For those of you not familiar with the one-hit wonder known as Fountains of Wayne: they wrote a ditty focused on a pubescent narrator spending time with one young Stacy, largely because he fancied her shockingly gorgeous mother.  It was one of the biggest hits of 2003.) 

Anyway, the Husband (flush with good cheer, good food, and Dewars & 7), took me seriously.  He swaggered right up to the DJ and requested "Stacy's Mom."  Then he upped the ante.

When the song began to play, the Husband located the Mother of the Groom, stunning in a sheath dress.  He offered her his arm and led her onto the dance floor. 

At that point, Rick mouthed to the Husband, "I HATE YOU." 

And once again, the high school fellas stepped up to the plate like manly, grown-up champs (or regressed, giddy adolescents).  They lined up, and started cutting in.  Rick's mom was an awesome sport about it all.  And by the last chorus, the groom had come around; he finished the song with his mother, to cheers and applause.

It might not have worked on a Hallmark card... but in an awkwa-mental way, it was still pretty sweet.

NEXT TIME: I will be treating you to some comical Bridesmaid Drama from my very own wedding!  In the meantime.... any mother-related wedding stories you'd care to share?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How My Sisters and I Overshadow Each Other with Medical Emergencies, Part 1

The night before my ninth birthday, I had a piano recital.  I was to play the "Marche Militaire," and I was a little nervous.  I got home from school feeling kind of wiped out, like I had been hit by a very small bus, and my throat was sore and tingly.

"I don't think I can play tonight," I told my mom weakly.
"You'll be just fine," she replied with a smile.  "You've practiced so hard!" 

My mother thought I was merely trying to get out of the recital.  In actuality, though, I really wanted to play.  It was just that I was beginning to feel more and more like my joints were filled with sand and my throat with fire.  However, I apparently seemed close enough to normal that I was deemed fit to perform.

I went up to the piano and managed to play my little piece (right hand AND left hand!) without throwing up or passing out.  My mother told me later that she had been very worried about either of those alternate possibilities, since my face had gone roughly the color of cottage cheese while I was playing.  I don't remember much about that night at all, except that I really, REALLY wanted to go to school the next day.  There was nothing better than going to school on your birthday, because you got to bring a treat and wear a birthday hat and have the other kids sing to you.

My mother tenderly tucked me into bed, assuring me that I would feel better after a good night's sleep, especially because it would be my birthday when I woke up!


She was wrong.

I felt like I might shiver to death.  Or burst into flames.  Or both.  Or that my throat intended to turn itself inside out at any moment and swallow the rest of my being.  In any case, I was in no shape to be the queen of my classroom that day; I was running a temperature of 104F.  I wobbled to the couch and lay on my stomach, feeling the room spin in ways that I would not feel again until well after I turned 21.

One doctor's visit, one throat culture, and fifty-four minutes in the slowest pharmacy on earth later, I was again tucked tenderly into bed, this time with a dose of antibiotics to treat the strep throat that I had managed to contract in time to celebrate the start of my ninth year on Earth.  But the fun wasn't over.

Our family doctor had gone back and forth on whether I should have my tonsils removed.  I was the sickliest kid in my family, and my tonsils had always been rather menacing to my throat.

The Birthday Strep was my second case of strep in one winter, which indicated definitively (more or less) that I needed to have those suckers removed.  The surgery was set for the day after Easter.  My bag was packed, countless reassuring conversations were held, and prayers were said.  Surgery is scary at any point in your life, but it's really scary when you're nine.  On the plus side, though, I was a little excited by the prospect of not catching strep throat every winter, as well as the opportunity to consume as many grape Popsicles as I wanted.  Not to mention that having surgery earns you some serious street cred in a third-grade classroom.  It would almost make up for missing my birthday.  Almost.

In all respects, though, the surgery was a success.

I woke up from the anesthetic in my hospital room, where my mom sat watching me.  As bad as my throat felt, I was happy to know that my little rabble-rousers were sitting in a biohazard bin somewhere, never to be heard from again.  It was also kind of nice, in a way, to be the "tough" kid among my siblings for once -- the convalescent who had bravely gone under the knife and emerged victorious.  I lay there, basking in the attention of my mother and the nurses, and awaiting my first of what would surely be dozens of purple popsicles.

Then the phone in my hospital room rang.

Apparently, while I was busy having my evolutionarily unnecessary organs sliced and diced, my younger sister Jenna had trotted out to play with our neighbor Timmy.  They had gone down to the creek behind our houses to skip stones together.  While they were doing this, Jenna had managed to step directly in front of Timmy while he threw a sharp rock towards the water.  Therefore, she was downstairs in the Children's Hospital emergency room, awaiting the receipt of stitches behind her ear.

A nurse brought me a purple popsicle and some children's Tylenol tablets (also purple), and she assured my mother that she would stay with me for a little while if Mom wanted to go see Jenna and our dad.  After making sure that I had taken the Tylenol and was semi-contentedly licking the popsicle, Mom headed out the door and down the hall. 

I hoped my sister was okay, but I couldn't help but be miffed.  That day was MY hospital day.  Couldn't she have.injured herself on any other day?  The nerve.

COMING UP NEXT: How my OTHER sister upstaged my appendectomy!  Totally serious.

P.S. I greeted my mother's return to my room by projectile-vomiting into a bucket.  Being full of popsicle and Tylenol, it was purple.  Just in case you were wondering.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Wedding Mishap Countdown!!! #8: Inebriated Guests Gone Wild (but not TOO wild... this is a family blog.)

Just about everyone has fun at weddings, especially those who look are 21 or older and can indulge in the occasional adult beverage.  If we're being completely honest here, everyone feels a little more comfortable on the dance floor after a generous glass of wine or a fancy cocktail (or four Miller Lights).  You feel more at ease, like you really CAN manage the Electric Slide without tripping over your own heels and cracking your skull on the parquetry.  You lighten up a little and stop worrying whether anyone notices those four pounds you gained since the last time you wore that dress.  Or, if you're a guy, you might be emboldened to approach that leggy strumpet across the room and buy her a drink.  Well, fetch her a drink.  Open bars make that first conversation so much easier.

However, this is only true up to a point.  There is, as I'm sure many of you are aware, that critical threshold of adult beverage consumption, after which things start to get a little dicey.  It looks a bit like THIS:

With that in mind, I present for your approval,

Number Eight: Inebriated Guests Gone Wild!

CASE STUDY A: The Lecherous Wedding Crasher

A little over a month ago, we went to the wedding of two friends who held a beautiful reception in a great big party space right on the beach in Florida.  We literally could walk out the door, cross the street, and sneak through a hotel pool area to stick our toes in the Gulf of Mexico.  It was awesome.  The reception was a seriously great party with an open bar.  After sticking to wine for most of the night, I sidled over to the corner bar where cocktails were being mixed.  I approached the alleged bartender, who was a rather shiftless and probably intoxicated twenty-something, and ordered my preferred beverage:

I wish the drink had a less suggestive name, because this was the response I got:

It was severely creeptastic.  The inebriated bartender slung his sweaty arm around my shoulders, gave me "the eye", and slurred something that I'm sure he thought was a brilliant come-on line, like, "Hey.  I'm Shane.  You wanna see the real P.C. Beach?"

"N-nn-no, thanks," I stammered, attempting to extricate his arm from my uncomfortably-exposed shoulder, "m-my husband's from around here."

Rather than take the hint, Bar Creeper seemed somehow more turned on by this.  I shrugged my shoulders.  "Hey!  You're wiggly!"  He laughed. 

I briefly considered kicking him in the shin, but I didn't get the chance, because at that moment, the real bartender came back from the bathroom.  I had been wedding crashed.

"Shane, come on, man."  My rescuer said.  "Stop touching all the ladies."  He apologized for his drunk wedding-crasher friend, fixed my drink, and sent me on my way. 

(Shane will make an appearance in a future installment of "Wedding Mishaps," F.Y.I.)


At a wedding we went to this summer, the reception was held in a big, handsome resort set in the woods, among rolling hills and tons of nature.  One of the benefits of having the reception in a place that doubled as a hotel was that no one had to worry about driving home.  This of course kept the open bars hopping nonstop.  At one point in the evening, the Husband and I got a little overheated from all the dancing, so we stepped outside to get some fresh air. 

We leaned against one of the enormous old trees near the side door.  Other couples and small groups were scattered around the courtyard, enjoying the cool evening breeze.  I sighed happily as I thought of our friends who had just been married, and of how fantastic and happy they looked.  The Husband put his arm around me, and for a pleasant, quiet moment we just enjoyed being together on a summer night.

Suddenly, one of the doors opened, and a friend of the bride and groom (let's call her "Sophie") emerged with her purse in her hand.  We didn't know Sophie too well, but what we DID know about her was that she could really toss 'em back.  Sophie stumbled along in her spike heels, which sank into the grass as she staggered towards us.  Well, not towards us specifically -- just towards the tree.

I moved out of the way just in time, for Sophie didn't seem to notice our existence at that minute.  She walked right up to the tree and promptly vomited.  Copiously.  So much for our romantic moment.  She stood there for a moment, heaving, still oblivious to our presence.  We hesitantly approached her.

Me: Um.  Sophie?  Are you all right?
Sophie: Yeaahhm fine, thaks.
Husband: Are you sure?  Can we get you anything?
Sophie: Nooaahm good.

We couldn't look away, so transfixed were we by her stoicism, as Sophie retrieved a tissue from her purse, wiped her lips, popped an Altoid, and stumbled back towards the doors.  We watched her enter through the glass door, after which Sophie the Champ made a beeline.  For the bar.  THAT is what I call cirrhosis focus.

CASE STUDY C: B.F.F. of the M.O.B.

The Husband and I attended a wedding this past June that was simply wonderful - everything a big family wedding should be, from the huge, beautiful buffet to the elaborate head table set up on a stage behind the dance floor.  The enormous room was packed with well-wishers, and it seemed that everyone from the groom's great-aunt to the bride's boss was present. 

We had attended the rehearsal dinner the night before, so we had met several of the family members and friends on both sides of the aisle.  This made it easier for us to mingle during the reception.  Well, easier for me, but harder for the Husband.

GUY #2:  Hey there, Dave!  Some dinner last night, huh?
HUSBAND: Yeah!.... Buddy, it sure was!

Anyway, one of the people that I had had the opportunity to meet in advance was Pam, the best friend of the mother of the bride.  Pam seemed to be a mild-mannered, conservative, cheerful, middle-aged lady.  Here's Pam around 5:30pm:

...And here's Pam around 9:45:

At some point in the evening, Pam had reached sufficient levels of intoxication to determine that the dance floor was just too pedestrian.  Therefore, she opted to hop right up on the elaborate head table and wobble across it with dance moves that would make Elaine Benes look fit for Dancing with the Stars.

Your turn!!  Please share your tales of inebriated hilarity and/or woe.  I await them eagerly!! 

Also, please stay tuned for the next Wedding Mishaps installment:

Mothers Who Know How to Party! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

POLL WINNER: Grammar Assassin Ninja

Well, I've been running around like a crazy person this week, trying to get the house ready for a shingdig this weekend.  That's my roundabout way of apologizing for not utterly blowing your minds before now.

In other words, here are some photos of my Halloween costume. 

The Grammar Assassin Ninja shows no mercy.

The Grammar Assassin Ninja considered telling you to "Wax on, wax off"; however, doing so would invoke both dangling prepositions and a run-on sentence.  She will instead implore you with the imperative, "Exercise your muscles in a repetitive fashion, in order to ready yourself for the Cobra Kai fighters."

The Grammar Assassin Ninja says, "Bring it."  She is aware that "it" is ambiguous. 

The Grammar Assassin Ninja knows what you're thinking.  Yes, she can levitate objects with her mind.  "Elements of Style" indeed.

In case you were wondering, I'm working on the next installment of Wedding Mishaps (Inebriated Guests), so that should be up this weekend.  If you have any suggestions for the Grammar Assassin Ninja, please let me know!  I would be delighted to re-garb, grab my Strunk & White, and get some more super-sweet photos.

Happy (Belated) Halloween, everyone!

Friday, October 29, 2010

SPEED POLL: Halloween Costume

So Halloween is in two days, and I haven't exactly chosen a costume yet.  The Husband and I are going to have our own trick-or-treaters for the first time ever, so I really don't want to screw this up!

That's where you come in.

I have placed a poll in the toolbar.  It's right at the top, so it's easy to see.  Please vote on what costume I should wear for Halloween.  Choose whatever you think will best suit my sparkling personality and lack of coordination.  Here are the choices I came up with, following about 24 seconds of intense deliberation:

Fairy Princess
Crimefighting Superhero

Grammar Assassin Ninja
Abraham Lincoln

Justin Bieber
Harry Potter

(picture unavailable.  invisibility cloak suspected)

If you have a better idea than what's listed, then mark "WRITE-IN" and put it in the comments section. 

(This will be great practice for Election Day next week!  You're welcome.)

I solemnly vow that I will assemble and wear whatever costume choice wins.  I will even document it for posterity and post photos here, to kick off November with a bang.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grammatical Rage, Expressed through Haiku

Sometimes I can be a little bit of a Grammar Troll.  Perhaps excessive reading as a child did this to me, or maybe it's just been exacerbated since I started tutoring students for the SAT.  Please note that I do not judge individuals by their grammar usage.  We all share this planet, and some of my favorite people in the entire world confuse their objective and subjective pronouns on a regular basis.  In any event, I try to restrain myself when possible, but sometimes I just cannot stop myself from blurting out, "It's 'him and ME!'  NOT "him and I!'"

I do this not to put on airs, nor to seem self-righteously linguistic; I simply have to release the bilious grammatical rage from my core from time to time, before it morphs into a Strunk & White supernova that consumes my person, the surrounding civilians, and eventually the world, collapsing into a black hole that was once the English language.

I should remind you that I occasionally hyperbolize.

Anyway, my rage this evening was stirred during a seemingly innocuous night in with the Husband.  There we were, lounging on the loveseat and fast-forwarding through The Biggest Loser to get to the parts when things actually happened.  I have largely grown accustomed to the poor grammar of reality television, but one bit of idiomatic idiocy stuck in my mind like a throwing star, flung by a grammar assassin ninja disguised as a Biggest Loser contestant:

"I think the team really stuck it out this week.  We binded together."


Oh no.

Really?  REALLY?

Rather than revisit the shock and anguish I felt, how about I just dive right into my rage-induced grammar haikus?

Apostrophe Catastrophe
Its: different than
Really.  Look it up.

To the Guy from The Biggest Loser
It's "BAND together."
NOT bind, NOT bound, NOT bonded.
Don't forget this one!

(band together (against someone or something)
to unite in opposition to someone or something; to unite against someone or something. We must band together against the enemy. Everyone banded together to finish the cleanup work.
See also: band, together

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.)

Positive "Anymore"
Pittsburghers say this,
Like, "This bus stinks anymore."
I think it sounds weird.

Variations on "Your"
"Your" belongs to you.
"You're" serves to shorten "You are."
Not rocket science.

Hear and Their (Limerick!)
If it belongs to them, use "their";
Combining "they are" creates "they're."
With your ears, can you "hear"
How and when to use "here"?
It's the opposite of the other "there!"

Where You At?
Hate you, Boost Mobile.
Your slogan's a grammar fail.
On many levels.

Ten Items or Less
It should read "Fewer!"
Items are countable nouns...

Hardly None
Double negatives:
Little buggers cancel out.
Make a point next time.

What are your grammar/spelling pet peeves?  I've got an extra copy of "The Elements of Style" (or a super-sweet Grammar Award -- no joke) for anybody who expresses their peeve through poetry. 

Have at it!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Wedding Mishap Countdown!!! #9: Speech and Well-Wishing Misfires

So many things about weddings can be photographed and catalogued for posterity: the people, the cake, the flowers, the dancing, and so on.  But even though a picture speaks a thousand words, sometimes it is just not enough to capture what really happened at a given moment.  Sometimes, the most memorable mental snapshots from weddings are the words that are spoken.  Especially when they are spoken into a microphone.

Speeches and toasts have become an integral part of wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as rehearsal dinners.  When given properly, a speech can induce laughter, "awws," or even tears among the listeners.  It can become a truly touching moment between the speaker and the newlyweds.  A memorable, heart-tugging speech can transcend the years, and even earn the speaker a free pass if they forget a birthday or anniversary down the line!

However, I'm not here to write about that kind of speech (though the Husband and I have been fortunate to witness many of them).  I intend to write about the cringe-worthy, awkward, did-they-just-say-that, verbal vomit attacks that burn themselves into your memory for all the wrong reasons.

It is therefore with snarky delight that I present for your reading pleasure,

Number Nine: Speech and Well-Wishing Misfires

(awkwardness and creepiness measured on a 1-10 scale) 

At Rehearsal Dinners:

Said the Father of the Groom:
"You know what they say, future daughter-in-law... before you marry a man, you've got to make love to him to hold onto him.  And after you're married, you've got to hold onto him to make love to him!"

Crowd Response - uncomfortable chuckles
Awkwardness - 7
Creep Factor - 8.5

Said the Minister, following a very touching speech by the groom's father:
"I'd just like to say a few words about the bride and groom... (seventeen minutes of unmemorable rambling)... well, let's raise our glasses to these young people finally honoring the covenant of matrimony."

Crowd Response - halfhearted applause, after nearly falling asleep over our salad plates
Awkwardness - 6.4
Creep Factor - 2

Said the Aunt of the Bride, after one too many glasses of White Zin:
"All new brides need to watch out for SSF.  It is well-documented that a woman with PMS has some mood changes, but SSF in men gets little attention.  Deprive your husband of sleep, sex, or food, and he will become moodier than any woman!"

Crowd Response - bemused laughter
Awkwardness - 9.4 for the bride, 8.7 for the groom, 2.3 for everyone else
Creep Factor - 4.  Nobody wants to hear their auntie talk about the birds and the bees.

Said the Grandmother of the Groom:
"My grandson has certainly found an extraordinary young lady.  She plans to work outside the home!"

Crowd Response - pause, wondering if there is a punchline to this.  There isn't.  Belated "awww."
Awkwardness - 7.5
Creep Factor - 0.  Grandma's not creepy.  Feminist cousin Stephanie is looking majorly peeved, however.

At Receptions:

Said the Best Man, to begin his Best Man Speech:
"Well, as Mickey Rooney put it, 'Always get married in the morning.  That way, if it doesn't work out, you haven't wasted the whole day."

Crowd Response - indulgent chuckles, hoping the speech is going to get better (it does eventually).
Awkwardness - 4
Creep Factor - 0.6

Said the DJ when introducing the bridal party:
"I tossed back a few already, so let's hope I get these names right..."

Crowd Response - anxious pause, hoping that he will indeed pronounce them right (Note: he does not).
Awkwardness - 6.  Jumped to 8 when he tries to mix the Electric Slide with "Funky Town."
Creep Factor - 3.  Jumped to 9.7 when the DJ blindfolds the groom, spins him around, and encourages him to find the bride by feeling up the legs of everyone around him.

Said the Father of the Bride, after drinking his emotions, to the Groom and everyone else within earshot:
"Look at my daughter.  Isn't she HOT?  That's yours now, pal!"

Crowd Response - trying to pretend they didn't hear anything
Awkwardness - 9.5
Creep Factor - 9.8

Said the Maid of Honor, Sister of the Bride, during her speech:
"To my new brother-in-law: Welcome to the family.  You definitely made the right call in saying 'I do' today.  Not just because my sister is amazing, but also because in our family... we come armed."

Crowd Response - genuine laughter, accompanied by quick glances at the bride's father, a card-carrying NRA member, to see if he is actually packing inside his tuxedo jacket (unclear).
Awkwardness - negligible.  The term "shotgun wedding" comes to mind, however.
Creep Factor - 0.  The speech is sweet and genuine.  I'm not just saying that for fear of reprisals, either.
... really.

Said the Sister of the Groom, at the conclusion of the reception, which was designated as "Adults Only," chiefly because this particular sister's children are spoiled little devils who throw food and scream like miniature Naomi Campbells:
"This was a really beautiful wedding.  It would have been so much nicer if my children had been here."

Crowd Response - stunned "Oh no she DIDN'T!" silence.
Awkwardness - 9.  Particularly for the bride, who has invited this sister-in-law to be a bridesmaid and will have to see her at every family event for years to come.
Creep Witch Factor - 10+.  This sister knew exactly what she was doing, and she saved her remark to be the very last thing she said before flouncing out of their reception.  I hope the bride gives her a copy of "Miss Manners" for Christmas.  Every year.  The same edition.  With a little bookmark that says "Maybe you'll learn something this year..." 

That's all I have for now, Internet-people!  Now it's your turn!  What is the most outrageous remark you've ever heard at a wedding?  There might be a little super-sweet PRIZE for the most unique response in the comments section!  Just sayin'...

Also, please stay tuned for the next Wedding Mishaps installment:
Inebriated Guests Gone Wild!  COMPLETE WITH CARTOONS!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lazy Blogging: LOOK, A PUPPY!!!

Evening, everyone,

Well, it was kind of a crappy Monday, all things considered.  This morning, I realized on the commute to work that an obese invisible pterodactyl had apparently perched itself between my shoulderblades.  This left my upper back in crunching, stabby pain that fell somewhere in between a Biggest Loser workout and death by monkeys.

Then I got to work, where we had our monthly committee meeting at noon.  This meeting usually sucks about three hours of life-force from my bones. 

It was ALMOST a better meeting today, because one of the committee members was retiring, so there was CAKE!  But then we were tricked, for the cake was followed by FOUR HOURS of wretched, wretched FAIL.  For those of you who are familiar with Alice in Wonderland, picture the caucus race:

(I'm Alice, btw, only I have to keep quiet and write down what everyone says, and I don't get to chase any white rabbits)

My day did improve after that, with choir rehearsal, breakfast-for-dinner, and a couple of great phone conversations.  However, in any case, I meant to blog about Wedding Mishap #9 tonight, but I've just had enough human stupidity for one day.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get into the next step on the countdown.  But for tonight, I present you with something wonderful... pictures of Riley, our puppy!

I know this sounds like a cop-out, and it kind of is.  But seriously, you try blogging with an invisible pterodactyl on your shoulderblades.  Try doing ANYTHING with an invisible pterodactyl on your shoulderblades.

Honestly, though, I'm a proud puppy mommy, and I kind of want to show him off a little.  I'm also about 60% sure that he might be a superhero dog in disguise.
(I tried to select pictures that emphasize both his heart-melting cuteness and his freakish double-joints)

Here is one time when we were on the road to Ohio and Riley climbed into the Husband's lap.  While he was driving.

Everything was really going okay, though... until Riley shifted the car into neutral on us.  And then he yawned:


Here he is, looking dashing, in a rare pose that does NOT expose his manhood for all to see.

And here is Riley using the Husband as a ballet barre.

My little sister Julianne (who has long since forgiven me for the Bathroom Incident) took GREAT care of Riley the last time we visited my family in Ohio:

And while we were there, Riley presented his own revision of "Lady and the Tramp":

(I bet you were expecting some sappy spaghetti scene, weren't you?) 

HERE is Riley's typical immodest pose, on our friends' couch. 

 (Every so often, I wonder if Riley is secretly Robert Opel, come back as a dog.)

One thing is for sure, though -- Riley certainly loves to snuggle.

Another thing -- Riley might be part polar bear:


But even Flashing, Part-Polar-Bear Super-Dogs need a rest once in a while:

Aaaaand sometimes they just need to let it all hang out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Wedding Mishap Countdown!!! #10: Creeptastic Photographers

Good evening, Internet:

As you may have noted by my copious usage of Southwest.com and Travelocity, as well as Target's Online Gift Registry, the Husband and I have been attending a number of weddings over the past couple of years.  Ah, Internet, how helpful you were to me when I was planning my own nuptials!  And now, I can use your capabilities to share with others the proverbial Good, Bad, and Ugly that I've observed during all of these joyful unions!

So here's the deal, everyone who is not the Internet.  I've seen a lot of things happen at weddings (including at my own... you know who you are).  Some of these things are simply too outrageous, too tasteless, or too hilarious to not share with you through the wonders of technology.  This series of posts was precipitated by an experience at the wedding in Panama City earlier this month, a tale that I will save for the very last, because frankly, nothing can top it.  Seriously, you might want to just swear off reading forever after reading THAT story.  In a good way, I mean.  I hope.

But there are many stories to be told first -- and lessons to be learned! 
I've decided to kick this old school, with a Top Ten list.

(Garth's Mom would be on my list, too.  But I'm jumping ahead of myself... to Wedding Mishap #7)


 NUMBER 10: Creeptastic Photographers

 A few years ago, the Husband (then the Fiance) and I attended the wedding of some dear friends from college.  They had chosen to hold the ceremony and reception in this beautiful, historic performance hall in coastal Florida.  The seating was all nicely arranged on the main floor, and every unique touch seemed just perfect, from the curtained stage to the slender balcony that wrapped around the back of the room.  The Husband and I settled into our seats and waited eagerly as the ceremony began. 

One of the nice things about a wedding is that everyone dresses up in their best for the occasion.  Guys wear suits, gals wear dresses, and there are flowers, cufflinks, and laborious hair-dos in every direction.  As the seating of the mothers started down the aisle, I leaned my head on the Husband's shoulder and looked around happily.  Then I saw him.

Well, it might not have been the ACTUAL old man from Home Alone, but he seriously looked like him, except not secretly warm-hearted and full of Christmas spirit.  The man I saw just looked full of spirits.  Cheap ones.

The man I saw did not, it may be said, fit in at all with the well-heeled and coiffed assembly.  He had long, stringy hair, a scraggly beard, and a brown suit that was unremarkable except for its profusion of wrinkles and seeming lack of laundering.  In short, he looked like a homeless man with a very piercing stare.  And he was watching - nay, gawping - from the beautiful, narrow balcony, as the wedding proceeded below him.  I suddenly found my pleasant pre-ceremony emotions interrupted by anger at this wedding-crashing bum who could potentially pitch forward over the balcony railing at any moment.  I had to DO something!

I know what you might be thinking.  "Inky!  For shame!  That poor man was probably hungry, or lonely, or in need of some restoration of faith in the human spirit!  Don't judge!"  And you would be right.  Except you wouldn't.

I was getting hopping mad as the bridesmaids came down the aisle, all gussied up and beaming for their beloved friend.  "How DARE this guy intrude on this beautiful day?"  I thought.  But then the Husband pointed out to me that the man lurking on the balcony was holding a camera.  He wasn't intruding on the wedding - he was documenting it.  The homeless Old Man Marley was the wedding photographer.

For a moment I sat back in my seat, stunned by this revelation.  But the bride was approaching, so I got to my feet with everybody else.  I craned my head back to find the intense creeptographer, who was probably snapping pictures of the tops of heads and wondering where he left his Thunder Beach cigarette lighter... but he was gone.  GONE!

"Look!" I hissed as I tugged on the Husband's arm.  "See?  He WAS a wedding crasher!" 

The Husband shrugged at me, and I turned back around to face the aisle.  I had to stifle a shout, for there he was.  Old Man Marley was now following the beautiful bride down the aisle.  After a few moments, he shuffled with shocking speed to the back of the room.  From there, he shimmied along the side of the hall to reach the front before the bride and her father did, in order to capture their souls smiling faces as they reached the front.

The wedding was idyllic after I adjusted to seeing his haunting face everywhere.  I think the only way that the creeptographer could have been more intrusive would have been if he had sat on the groom's lap during the ceremony.  Following the wedding, the reception was also haunted by Marley's presence.  However, since everyone was moving around and talking loudly, it was easy enough to hide fom him and enjoy ourselves immensely.

So the take-away from this first Wedding Mishap is: don't select a photographer who seems even remotely creepy, because they may demonstrate an excess of creep when the big day arrives.  Try to find a photographer who is polished, professional, and prepared.  And preferably not easily confused with a faux murderer or homeless guy.

EDIT: Apparently I failed to follow my own advice when selecting my wedding photographer.  I found him through a web service designed to match you with "your ideal photographic style and personality" (do NOT recommend).  His name was Jeffrey (and probably still is, unless he's assumed a new identity).  He seemed to be a professional, capable, middle-aged fellow.  We met the day of the wedding, when Jeffrey showed up at my mother's house, entered the foyer, and promptly snapped a couple of pictures of the shocked semi-dressed bridesmaids at the top of the stairs.  At least his suit wasn't wrinkled, I guess.

Any experiences that you've had with wedding photogs that you would like to share?  Please post them - I'm eager to hear!

NEXT UP... Wedding Mishap #9: Speech and Toast Misfires

Monday, October 11, 2010

Poll Winner: Halloween Haikus

Oh, dear, I've been a neglectful little blog mommy!  Sorry about that, folks!  It's been a super-nuts week, so I only just had the chance to get to some Halloween-themed haikus.  Forgive me, Internet.  For being so late, that is.  Not for the haikus.  You're welcome for those.

Bus People Haikus came in a close second, so I'm going to get to those as soon as possible!  There might even be a little crossover tonight. Excited?  You ought to be!  Here we go...

This year I'm a mouse!
My baby sister's a cat...
I'm very confused.

I am scary witch!
With green lipstick on my face
Mean kid stole my broom! :(

First Grade
Look!  I am LAMB CHOP!
As in, "Song that never ends?"
(Mom thinks*)...this will get old fast.


Second Grade
Now I'm an angel!
Or maybe I'm a fairy...
I couldn't decide.

(you will note that my mom made all my awesome costumes, even with other kids milling about. GO, MOM!)

Third Grade

I'm an Indian!
... Er, Native American?
... I just want sugar.

Some Halloweens Later...
They said I was too old for candy,
But I made myself look very handy:
Got my lumberjack on,
(like from Monty Python)
And got treats just for looking so dandy!

(okay, so I slipped into limerick here.  Too much detail for 17 syllables.  And it was pretty sweet, because I made fake axes to go with the flannel shirts and everything.  It was during that millennial-teenager period when we "discovered" Monty Python and thought it was cool, edgy humor.  I don't have a picture, mostly because my fellow lumberjacks and I (there were three of us) wanted to avoid the pictorial shame of trick-or-treating as teenagers in the "candyland" neighborhood.  It's free candy, people!  Don't judge.  Anyway...)

Following Trick-or-Treating as a Teenager
Thirty-two Snickers?!
My life has reached its zenith.
Think I'll have one now...

Following Consumption of Approximately Half of Resultant Snickers Bars
Must learn self-control!
No more Snickers till next year!
...Well, maybe one more.

From the Kid Dressed as Captain Planet to the Delinquents TP'ing Houses
T.P. on a house?!
Halloween is no excuse
To be wasteful, fool!

From Me to the Delinquents TP'ing My House
I hope the next time
You use a public restroom
The roll's gone.  KARMA!

Teen Who Picks Halloween to Announce to Parents That He's Really A Warlock
"Look, Mom, I'm Wiccan."
"What do you mean, you're Wiccan?
Stop making up words!"

(I hesitated before posting this one, for fear of offending a Wiccan in Bulgaria or someplace.  The Husband pointed out that my odds of offending a Wiccan are very small, especially in Bulgaria.  Besides, I’m running low on hate mail.  So bring it on.)

Upon Discovering a Halloween Lady Gaga Lookalike Contest... for Babies
Just threw up in mouth.
Who would dress a kid like this?
Some folks shouldn't breed.

Guy at the Bus Stop
Likes to wear his cape,
Not because it's Halloween;
He's just a creeper.

More to come soon!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm Legitimate!!!!... ish!

This is going to be a regrettably short post, because it's late, and it's about 49 degrees in our house right now, and I need to crawl into bed before it ices over.  I'm wearing my bathrobe over the Husband's flannel shirt, and I can still feel my skin prickling.  We can't turn on our radiator heat yet, because our system is "open", meaning that a radiator is not hooked up.  Can you guess where?

Yes, the bathroom!  The still-not-at-all-finished bathroom!  We would never have expected when we started this project in July that we would have to keep the heat off in October because of the radiator system's connection to the Bathroom of Neverending Calamity.  But I digress -- pardon the cold-induced whining.  I'm writing this post for a far more productive reason......

This blog is just over two months old today!  HOORAY!  I haven't given up yet!

I've been working long and hard to make it reasonably funny and occasionally pictorial -- I hope you've enjoyed it so far.  I have a new series of posts planned that will be unlike anything you've ever read.  Mostly because of this weekend in Panama City inspiring me through utter insanity and something called "Thunder Beach."  I'll get it going for you as soon as I can!

The quest for legitimacy is far from over, however.  You may recall that I want ridiculous success.  In the short term, I want to be more famous than Ke$ha.  I mean, I have a modicum of talent.  I can tile bathtubs, crochet baby blankets, and bake a mean pumpkin pie.  PLUS I just figured out how to play the Charlie Brown theme on my Victorian piano.  I'm willing to work for it, see?  And I can't be more famous than THIS?

She looks like a first-grade art project rolled in glitter and grain alcohol.

However, I am on my way.  There are a few things, in my opinion, that you need to have to be a legit blog.  And I have begun to (finally) hit some of those marks:

1. Followers: I have some of those!  More than I have fingers and toes combined!

2. A rudimentary knowledge of how the interweb works: I have officially come to grips with the fact that the internet is not a series of tubes.  There are graphics, labels, links, hyperlinks -- I can even embed videos now!  See the end of this post for more.

3. Page hits: I have some of those too!

4. Spam: I received my first spam comment a few days ago!  It was absolutely delighful...

"mystery shopping companies Mystery Shopping provides an insight into what happens when hard won prospective buyers are in contact with your sales and customer service teams. Douglas Stafford’s range of Mystery Shopping services cover every aspect of the customer experience – on-site and face-to-face, on the telephone and electronically, through your website."

"there is a remote possibility that someone, somewhere may be reading your blog.  Some net troll is trying to peddle Douglas Stafford's Mystery Shopping services to your hard won prospective readers, because he is even more of an internet creeper than you are. kthxbai."

5. Hater Mail: I actually haven't received any of this yet!  I don't know whether to be relieved or disappointed.  It seems like some sort of weird validation, when someone considers you significant enough to spend five minutes (or more) insulting your writing, your hairstyle, and/or your very existence.

Well, hopefully I'll get some hate mail sometime soon, and then I'll know I've hit the big time.  Feel free to send some along if you're up to it -- please not too harsh, though, because any resultant tears might freeze on my face.  In the meantime, I feel like I've carved out a tiny sliver of legitimacy.  Thank you very, very much for being a part of it.  At this point, I can and will keep writing, if you'll keep reading.  I am too legit... you might say (sigh), too legit to quit.

(Ha-HA!  See what I did there?  I embedded a video!  And HERE's a link!)