When I Grow Up... If I Ever Do

When I was 10 years old, I hit the "horse stage." I'm pretty sure that at least half of all young girls go through a this phase (and I'm also relatively sure that 33% of all statistics are at least 45% made up). When I was 10, I discovered a book on Sister's bookshelf: A Horse Called Wonder by Joanna Campbell. I had actually given her this book for Christmas many years before--I vaguely remember standing in the bookstore with my father, deciding what to get her that year and picking out this book because the cover was so pretty (don't tell me not to judge a book by its cover--I'm very susceptible to advertising, including trendy book jackets and/or cute baby animals).

I was 10 and looking for something to read. I was not an avid reader at that age, so it must have been for school or something. But when I opened that book, the world came alive for me. It was the first book that I remember enjoying outside of the picture books of my younger childhood years. This was different. I didn't love it for the pictures; I didn't love it for the fact that I could read it by myself; I didn't love it for the fact that my mother did all the voices of all the penguins. No, I loved it for the story. The way the words came alive and made pictures in my head. And through loving the story, I began to love horses. 

After that, I inhaled books. I used all of my allowance and birthday money to buy the next book in the Thoroughbred series, then the next, and then the next (there were over 72 books in this series... I think I finally called it quits somewhere in the 60s). When that didn't slake my thirst, I read The Saddle Club, The Golden Filly Series and the High Hurdles Series, Horsefeathers, Heartland, Misty of Chincoteague (and all its sequels), and any other book about horses I could get my hands on. And before I knew it, I was consuming any book, about horses or not, that looked vaguely interesting in the Juvenile Literature and the Young Adult Fiction sections of my local library.

In the 6th Grade, I was placed on the gifted track at my school (Don't start thinking anything of this. My IQ was a tiny bit higher than average and my parents were very involved in my learning outside the classroom, so I was ahead of my classmates by a little bit. It's not like I'm in Mensa or anything. Because, please.). The gifted track at my school basically meant that I got to skip language arts and part of geography to go to a creative writing class. This class, combined with my newly voracious reading habit, was a pivotal moment in my life. When I realized I could make stories just like those famous authors and all I needed was paper and a pencil (or a keyboard... or my just my mind for that matter), I was changed. My dreams of becoming a racehorse trainer in Kentucky (For reals and for serious. I was going to go to the University of Kentucky, major in Animal Husbandry, and train racehorses. Why? Because I was 6' tall in 6th Grade, so knew I could never make it as a jockey, duh!) paled in comparison to my new dream of being a writer.

[Incidentally, I actually started this post to tell you about my career ambitions at age 10 (a prompt from Mama Kit's Losin' It), which were deeply horse-related, but it has taken an odd and yet completely reasonable turn. So bear with me if it seems scattered.]

So, time goes on. I leave the 6th Grade and that writing class, along with a lot of memories I'd rather forget and a big girl complex to last the rest of my life. But that, my friends, is a poem for a different cafe. Anyways, I kept reading, branching into all sorts of genres and interests. My library, as awesome as it was, is a small town library with low funding, so by the time I hit 8th Grade, I had read almost 75% of the section (see the statistic quote above). I had read anything that had remotely piqued my interest and quite a few that hadn't, so one (sad) day I stopped going to the library. And my life got a lot more expensive.

My bookshelf was overflowing with books that I had been given for Christmas, birthdays, and had purchased with any babysitting money I managed to capture. By this time, I was reading the assigned books for school as pleasure reading--weeks before anything was due (and then forgetting to do the assignment and almost flunking 7th Grade language arts, which is further proof of my inability to follow through on anything). I was enjoying some of the classics, though I wouldn't discover my love for many of them until adulthood. I discovered Harry Potter at the start of my 8th Grade year, during a weekend stay at a hospital while a surgeon cut into my mother's grey matter (What, I haven't told you about that? Remind me to get permission and maybe I will...). These books, love them or hate them, opened my eyes to a talent like I had never seen before. J.K. Rowling can write, she can foreshadow, she can misdirect, and she can create a fantastical world from nothing other than her grey matter.

My freshman year, Sister handed me a book: Whatever Tomorrow Brings by Lori Wick. It was a Christian Romance novel, possibly a little more mature than I should have been reaidng at 14, but nothing racy or scandalous. I actually set it aside for a few months, not really interested, because it was a grown-up book and was probably boring. When I got over myself and read it, I fell in love for the very first time with a fictional character. Marshall Riggs was my hero and everything I wanted in a man. I finished the rest of the series in two days and started pillaging my mother's and Sister's bookcases for anything like them.

It would be years before I discovered that very few men exist with Marshall Riggs' kind of tender, yet rugged manliness. And that these kind of novels set young women up for a certain level of dating failure, because no man in real life is that patient, perfect, understanding, or communicative. I'm not ragging on men; Lord knows we women have our issues, too. Plus, it's not like the women in these books are paragons of reality, either. Okay, rant over... I think. My point is, however vague I was in making it, that there was something in these books that spoke to me. They weren't all completely realistic, but there were slivers of truth in each story. It was like when I found the Thoroughbred Series, but deeper. I realized that it was the ideal, the life I had always wanted: to fall in love and make a family.

Some of the books were better than others, some much more fantasy than a realistic description of a the evolution of a relationship. But in each of them, I connected. And the more I connected, the more I realized that I had stories in me. My own characters who pestered me incessantly to put their stories on paper. For much of my life, I have ignored them or only allowed them out to play in the moments before sleep. When I do write, my self-doubt always creeps in and I end up causing permanent damage to my delete key. Or I allow the files to languish on my hard drive or in a notebook under my bed.

Since I've started blogging, though, I've found the "Publish Post" key to be the kryptonite to the dreaded delete key. I do some editing, sure. And I still over-think everything before I type it. But at the end of the day, I still publish. Because I have readers that I don't want to lose and who might walk away if I leave them alone too long. I try not to think too much about them running away if I reveal too much or say something stupid, because... There's a lot of crap on the Internet that has readers. I've found a niche and I'm staying here.

Anyway, this post has taken a strange and winding turn, one that I took a break in the middle of to cry over completely unrelated and yet intrinsically linked issues. So, what did 10-year-old me dream of doing when I grew up? I dreamed of living in Kentucky, training racehorses by day and writing novels by night. What do I dream of now? I dream of getting married. I dream of having babies. I dream of working a job that I am passionate about, without being abused by my boss or terrorized by my coworkers. And writing novels by night.

I guess that answers more questions than the one I asked myself at the beginning of the post. If this doesn't make sense to you, don't worry... I'm still working some stuff out about which direction I am supposed to go with my career and my life right now. If it does make sense to you... Well, you are probably my mother or father. So, Mom, Dad, if you're reading this and it makes sense to you, will you call me and tell me what it means? Thanks and I love you. Oh, and: sorry for keeping you up so late tonight.

Enough of my ramblings. What did you dream of being when you grew up? Are you doing it? Did your dreams change? Or did your expectations from life and from yourself change? What do you dream of now for your future? Will you give yourself permission to have it? If you do, do you realize how rare that is?


My Life Isn't Interesting

So, over a week ago, I posted a really obnoxious survey. And at the end, I promised to answer any questions you might ask as a reward for completing that ridiculous questionnaire. I got a lot of awesome answers, but only one question. So I put off posting the answer until I got more responses. Then I realized that this was all I was going to get. Then I forgot to upload the photo. Then I got home last night and watched a not-so-great movie and forgot to post it. So, here we are, over a week later, on a Tuesday (this fact is not relevant or important, but I like the word Tuesday), and I am finally posting it.

And by the way, this photo as taken right after I saw the question, so I'm following your rule, Kim. I'm only late in posting, not in taking the picture. This is my nightstand (or as some call it, bedside table):

And here is my nightstand with number labels so that I can inform you about how not interesting my life is. Ready? I thought so.

      1. My lamp. I have had this lamp since the sixth grade. It has been dropped and broken, so it has a crack that has been sealed with some kind of clear glue. Also, it has one of those new eco-friendly light bulbs in it that's all funny shaped. And the shade of this lamp is supposed to attach to the bulb, so the shade teeters and slips all the time. Yes, I know you can buy them to look like regular light bulbs. NOW. Now I know that. Where were you before, huh? Geez! Oh, and the light bulb buzzes, which is kind of obnoxious. Interesting, no? No. Alright, moving on.

      2. My super cool insulated cup from Walmart (Let's just get this out of the way right now: yes, I occasionally shop at Walmart and no, I don't care who knows it). It kind of looks like a Starbucks cold cup, but it's covered in lime green polka dots and has a matching straw. Which is awesome! I also have one with red polka dots. I usually keep a cup with a lid next to my bed, since I get thirsty at night and I live with Satan's Cat.

      3. A small glass of water. Because sometimes I like to live dangerously. Except it's here because I was too lazy to go find my cute cup when I was thirsty, not because I'm particularly risky (I should have known the cute cup was by my bed, since that's where I keep it...). This cup sat here for three days. Also because of my laziness. Which is not notable. But the fact that the cup remained in this position for three days with the water remaining inside the cup for all of those days is a testament to the capriciousness of Satan's Cat. It's actually still there, more than a week later, since I'm sleeping in Sister's room right now. Watch, I'll post about this and then Satan's Cat will spill it all over the place tonight.

      4. My iPhone charging cord. Which I only just plugged in near my bed for reasons that even I just don't understand. I used to keep it across the room... And then someone would text me at night and I would have to go get it to text back or make it stop buzzing. I think it may have been an outlet-space issue. But really, there's no excuse for this kind of ridiculousness. So now it's next to the head of my bed and I can text or tweet long past the time I should have been asleep.

      5. The remote to my SkullCandy Pipe that I got for Christmas last year (thanks, Mom!). And yes, that does sound vaguely like drug paraphernalia. Okay, more than vaguely. And the website kind of plays into that. But really all it is, is a speaker system for an iPhone or iPod. So I dock my iPod and can then control my music from the rest of the room. Which is sweet! The remote is on my nightstand because I listen to my lullaby every night. What is my lullaby? I'm glad you asked. My lullaby is an instrumental song by Josh Kelley called 23 on his album To Remember, which you can preview here (I tried to find a better link for it, but this was the best I can do. But go listen. It's totally worth it! I mean, I listen to it every night, so it's gotta be good, right? Right.)

      6. A book called Finally Thin! by Kim Benson, a woman who lost 212 pounds with WeightWatchers. It was given to me by a friend who knew I was already doing WeightWatchers (so it's not like they were calling me fat or anything). It's basically a description of her journey, not a weight-loss plan or anything. It's actually really funny and also kind of eye-opening, so I encourage anyone who's struggling with weight issues to read it.

      7. Another book, Young Adult Fiction this time. It's The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan (he's the guy who wrote the Percy Jackson books). It's the second in his Kane series, which is about a brother and sister who have just discovered they're descendants of the gods of ancient Egypt and have magical powers. It's pretty good so far. I liked the first one, too, so if you're looking for something new to read, check it out.

      8. A metal bookmark with cute charms hanging off of the end. My father made it. Now would probably be a good time to tell you that my mom and dad own a very small jewelry business, which is more of a hobby from which they sell their creations. They order the semi-precious stones from various companies and then design necklaces, bracelets, and earrings to sell at craft fairs and small weekend markets (no soldering involved, just stringing and crimping wire). For Christmas a few years ago, my dad made a my sister and I each a bookmark. He chose the charms himself--different ones for each of us. It was very sweet and it makes me smile every time I look at it (which I think may have been his nefarious plan). Mine has two different butterflies, the Statue of Liberty, a little girl praying, and a colorful strand of beads. I don't remember what Sister's has, but I'm pretty sure none of it means he loves her more than me. Because we all know he loves me best. Right, Papa? Right?

      9. Two issues of Women's Health Magazine. One of them has Julianne Hough on the cover not wearing enough clothing (tiny denim shorts and a bandeau bikini top). The other has "Glee's Heather Morris" on the cover not wearing enough clothing (a hot pink bikini and a jean jacket--Why a jean jacket? I have no idea...). One of the magazines claims to be a "Special Weight-Loss Issue!" but I have to wonder which issues of Women's Health aren't about weight-loss... Anyway, Roommate gave me a subscription for Christmas and I haven't been near my post office box enough to have read much of them (my job makes me relocate for a quarter of each year and also: Sister and I are terrible mailbox checkers). But I totally plan to read them, because it was a nice gift and I could use the advice. I just kind of resent the tiny, half-naked girls on the cover...

       10. A cute gift bag filled with ridiculous dollar items from Sister. You see, after I got home from living with Crazy Boss Lady and was so...damaged..., Sister did everything she could to cheer me up. And to make me feel loved and safe. What better way to do that, than to get me a gift bag filled with squirt guns, pinwheels, coloring books, crayons, a magic wand (that lit up and sparkled!), a pull string disc launcher thingy, and a notebook with a Schrute Buck for a cover? No other way! I laughed so hard when I opened it and we had a lot of fun playing with all the stuff (especially the disc launcher, which drove Satan's Cat out of her mind). However, you may wonder why this bag is still next to my nightstand over a year later. Well, what does one do with a bag full of things like this once one has sucked the fun out of the marrow of each item? Like you, I have no idea. Plus, I'm lazy, so that's where they live until Godson or some other child visits and I realize I need some age-appropriate toys. Which is handy, let me tell you!

      11. This is a crate of Play-Doh that was also in the bag. It is unopened, which is sad. But I've never really had a good opportunity to break out the PlayDoh. I'm not sure why I need a good opportunity for Play-Doh, but I've been waiting for it. Maybe tonight's the night. Except Sister is still out of town and it is kind of sad and pathetic to be a 24-year-old playing with Play-Doh alone on a Tuesday night (again, I'm pretty sure it's not relevant or important that it's Tuesday, but... Umm.... It's my blog so there. HA!) [I'm not quite sure why I linked to Play-Doh, or even why it's spelled "Play-Doh" (I keep doing the Homer Simpson "Doh!" every time I type it), but it is trademarked, so I thought it might be wise...]

So, there you have it. That's my nightstand as it looked one Saturday earlier this month. I hope you've realized just how interesting my life is (read: not interesting at all) through this process and I encourage all of you to take pictures of random surfaces in your home and give an inventory to strangers on the Internet. It's actually kind of liberating. Liberating from what kind of bondage, I have no idea. But people seem to be feel liberated a lot and I think this might be what they're feeling. Either that, or I'm hungry. It is 8:30 pm and I haven't had dinner yet. But we'll say liberated. Sure.


A Cat, a Sister, a Job, and an Award in 800 Words or Less

Last night, Satan's Cat kept me up with all kinds of evil escapades. I had to use the squirt bottle half a dozen times and I almost shot the flat screen TV she was trying to climb. Don't worry, Sister, I didn't do it. It was 4:00 am and I was half asleep and half enraged, but I found my good sense about a second before I could do any lasting damage to your TV. Or your cat. But the cat may not be so lucky next time. Fair warning.

To make it an actual fair warning (since Sister is not a regular reader), I also warned her via text that her cat may end up in soup before her trip is over. She didn't seem to take that well... Sister and I have been in a texting frenzy, since she just got to her second leg of her journey, which includes seeing my gorgeous and talented baby niece. That's if the shuttle bus driver doesn't kill her first... And I'm still not jealous about her ability to snuggle the baby without me or the fact that she's somewhere sunny and warm while I am dying a slow death in the lair of Satan's Cat. I'm not jealous. At all. So stop looking at me like that.

Also, due to unforeseen circumstances, my boss is not in town today. Which means I have my job for one more day. Sometimes, I feel like I'm being melodramatic about this whole situation and that I'm probably going to look silly when I don't lose my job. But then I remember that I'm on probation for no reason whatsoever and have not had any contact with my boss in over a week and my blood pressure starts to rise once more.

What all of this ends up meaning is this: I'm exhausted, worried, frazzled, not jealous, lonely, and scratched up. What all of that ends up meaning is this: I'm struggling to come up with a topic for this blog post. You would think, after almost 400 words, this post would be about something. But it’s not. Because I'm not really a planner. Oh, I so badly wish I were a planner and a list-maker and a list-crosser-offer. But alas, I am not. I have no follow-through. This blog is the most follow-through I have ever exhibited in my personal life (How is it that I can manage to have follow-through at work and in school, but not in my personal life? Is it just that I like eating so much that I push past my ingrained laziness to continue receiving my paycheck? Probably...). Seriously, you should look under my bed--I have stacks of pretty journals with less than five entries in each and shoeboxes full of unfinished art projects. Actually don't look under my bed. It's embarrassing and dusty under there. And there may be an evil cat lurking there, waiting to tear the flesh from your face. So, if nothing else, Satan's Cat is a good security system...

Ooooh, I might have a post idea! (at only 500 words). Nope. Never mind. I am not a planner, remember? So I have not uploaded the photo of my nightstand for Kim to my Picasa web album yet. Which means I don't have it with me to put on the blog. So maybe tonight? Two posts in one day, to make up for my lameness in writing a 600 word post about nothing?  We'll see... You know, follow-through and all that.

So, I guess I'll just leave you with the best news I've had all week. Are you ready for it? Are you sure? Okay, here goes: The Sarcasm Goddess (in all of her wisdom, artistic ability, and general awesomeness) has deigned to bestow an award upon me (upon myself?). You are now reading the blog of a bona fide Alligator Wrangler. That's right people, when the Alligator Apocalypse comes (because, let's face it... the zombies know we're on to them and are now falling back to re-strategize the demise of the human race. Plus, we may have discovered that bagels are the key...), I will be standing at the front lines, sharpened shovel in hand, slaying the alligators and any other golf course ruffians I have to in order to protect my friends and family from a horrific and swampy end. Or something. 

So, now that you've been doused in my Twittering nonsense that just may save the world, I bid you adieu until the morrow. Or until I decide to post that picture and make Kim happy. Whichever comes first. And whichever comes before the Alligator Apocalypse, at which point I will have a shovel, not a computer. And shovels are really hard to blog with.


In Which I Am a Launch Pad for Evil

A few housekeeping things. And then a story. And maybe a picture. Maybe. You’ll have to be patient and wait.

First of all, I’ve added DISQUS to the commenting section so that I can reply directly to particular comments. And really, I think it’s just a better way to have a discussion, which is something I really want on this site. So, if you try to comment and encounter a problem, please contact me and I’ll use my limited blogging skills (and extensive Googling skills) to try to fix it. Or if you think of a way for me to improve the discussion abilities of this blog, let me know.

Second of all, there seems to be an increase in traffic to my blog. Or my stat counter is way off. Either way, if you’re new (and you're not like me), please see my About tab and The Rules to get to know me a little. And don’t be scared of the rules; they’re more for me than they are for you.
And now, a story.

But first, to fully understand the scope and breadth of the situation, you’ll need to read about Satan’s Cat. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Are you informed now? Are you afraid yet? Because you should be. If you’re not, this story may be the tipping point. You see, detrimentalbeauty said to be careful, because Satan’s Cat may try to lull me into a false sense of security. And I glibly replied that I thought she would win no matter what I did. Boy, was I right, but also so very wrong…

You see, the last few nights have been relatively easy. She’s been a little spastic when I first lock her in and she was opposed to me reading my book aloud to her (I thought she might like to share…), but she’s generally settled in nicely and I haven’t tossed and turned enough to bring on her fury. Furry fury… Ha! I am so easily amused. Except that NO—I am not amused by this story. Readjusting my angry eyebrows now. Alright, so the last few nights have been easier. Because she was lulling me. She is a sneaky luller. She was just waiting until she could pounce (possibly quite literally) with full surprise. And last night, she did.

After bothering me to get under the covers, then between the sheet and the electric blanket, then between the electric blanket and the comforter, she commenced running around like a banshee. I turned out the lights, hoping to signal her that it was time to calm down. She settled sweetly near my shoulder and we went to sleep. A few hours later, she woke me up with a horrendous amount of noise. She was trying to get at a toy that had slid under the treadmill (CRAP! I never checked the treadmill for damage…). Still mostly sleeping, I rolled out of bed, retrieved the toy, chucked it across the room to eliminate the danger of needing to do this again, and yelled “Are you KIDDING me with this?” before slipping back under the covers already asleep again. A half hour later, she woke me again, bashing into every piece of furniture in the room in an effort to chase this toy. I yelled ineffectively from my pillow and fell back to sleep for about 6.5 seconds.

This time, she was army crawling under the bed. On her back. With her claws sunk into the box spring. She was doing laps in this ridiculously destructive and noisy manner as if it was her daily work out. I smacked the side of the bed and shouted a garbled string of nothing. The noise ceased so quickly, I almost thought I had dreamt it. Then she popped out from under the bed looking far too angelic to be an actual angel. I went back to sleep thinking about what a skinned cat would look like. Apparently, she was having similar thoughts. About my face.

Yes. At 5:15 this morning, two hours before I needed to get out of bed, Satan’s Cat used my face as a launch pad in the pursuit of evil deeds.

I woke up swinging and swearing. And I think I managed to thump her on the forehead before she went skittering across the room looking affronted. Because HOW DARE I DEFEND MYSELF? I felt my face, couldn’t find blood, but was pretty sure it was coming. And then I decided that I didn’t care if I got blood on Sister’s pillow (since it’s her damn cat anyway), so I placed my weary head back down for another hour. As I drifted off, I mumbled threats about cat soup.

She followed me around the whole morning, crying at me. At first, I thought she could sense my rage and was trying to cozy up to me. But then I remembered that she’s probably trying to tempt me into Hades with secret messages from her fiery master. So I alternated between ignoring her and shouting “SHUT UP!” while forgetting to put on make up. Did you know that baggy eyelids and a sallow complexion is not helped by the lack of make-up or scars of evilness? Because they aren't.

Anyway, I had to trick Satan's Cat into the bedroom to lock her up before left for work (sporting my very apparent battle wound), but I didn’t feel moved by her plaintive cries. Not one bit. In fact, I’m tempted to leave her there all evening, too. But then again, I’m really only punishing myself, since the longer she’s locked up, the more time she’s had to plot her evil schemes. Tonight, I’m probably going to sleep with a hockey mask on or something…. Does anyone have any chain mail they can lend me?

[Oh, and: Let’s all pretend that I have a defined jaw line and flawless (except the gash) skin, mmmk? Thanks! Also, this is probably the most you’re ever going to see of my face. So enjoy it (?) while it lasts…]


The Faces Find Me

I see faces everywhere. I have since I was a small child. Mostly smiling faces, but other faces as well. No, not human faces, attached to human bodies, as part of human beings who surround me. I mean cartoonish smiley faces in obscure places, like food or plants. I don’t know if it’s because I have a vivid imagination, a sign that I’m lucky (like finding a four-leaf clover), or that I’m seeing things that aren’t there. Recently, I’ve been documenting this phenomenon. I would say this is to prove I’m not crazy, but really I just enjoy the faces and I want to keep them around for awhile. But since I have them at hand, I thought I would share them with you all and see if you think I’m crazy or if you see it, too. Please tell me you see them, too…

These are in not in chronological or even logical order. They are in an order that I determined had the best artistic and evidentiary effect.  Let’s begin.

This is a chip. A joyous chip. I pulled it out of the bag like this. This is an obvious one, right? I guess maybe a normal person would have just eaten it without examining it. Or maybe their eyes wouldn't have registered the face-potentiality unless they pulled it out of the bag at exactly this angle. But maybe they would have seen it, too. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

I opened my pudding one day at lunch. There was a ghost staring back at me. I choose to believe he is a friendly ghost, sent to brighten a hectic and lonely day. I named him George. I'm sad for you if you go through life without finding things like George.

Sometimes, the faces are more obscure, like this cereal muppet monster (And yes, I usually see the faces in my food... maybe this is why I eat so much? Because my food is so friendly?)

But sometimes, they're very obvious. It's like some good Samaritan came along before me and turned this ash pile into a friend just for me. Is it sad that I think of these faces as friends? Because I have real friends, too. I do! I swear. They may be on the Internet, but they're real. Unless they're robots. Or alligators in disguise...

Then, some of the faces are not smiley. Sister's dashboard is evil. And it doesn't like me. You see the angry air conditioner, right? Right? Anyone?

And then there's Roommate, who gets me on a level no one else does and sends me this in a text message. It was in response to my text that said, "I miss your face. In my life. Every day." She later sent me a picture of her actual face, but this one was cute, too. (And yes, I'm that kind of needy, almost-stalkery friend who tells people she misses their faces instead of just telling them she misses them...)

These six (poor quality iPhone) photos are just a small cross-section of the last six months of my life. A life filled with faces. Most of them smiley, some of them evil air vents. Please tell me you see the faces, too...?

A Few Things

First, an update on the cat: A moment ago, I was snuggled in (Sister's) bed with my laptop watching Psych. The bedroom door was still open, because I didn't feel like wrangling the cat just yet. Then I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Across the hall in our guest room/library, there was a feline shape pacing back and forth atop the six foot bookcases. I yelled, "What do you think you are doing? Get down!" She moved further down the book cases so that only her flicking tail was visible. I yelled, "I can still see you, CAT! Get down now!" But she doesn't believe you're serious until you are verticle, usually after extracating yourself from an incredibly comfy position you just managed to find under a heap of blankets and something in your lap. Because she is SATAN'S CAT. I rushed into the library, stomping my feet and flailing my arms to prove I'mseriousthistimesohelpmeGod! and she sauntered nonchalantly toward the bedroom like nothing had just happened. As soon as I closed the door, she raced around like a mad thing chased by the ghosts of the three blind mice, diving face-first into the window, then ducking under the bed. Now, she is cuddled so close to me that my left hand rubs against her face anytime I type any letter left of the f key. Which I'm thinking will be prefect provocation for her to try to bite me in a moment. Oh, nope. Instead, she just stood up and mimicked a pointer-dog. She's pretending she can hear scary things in another part of the house in the not-so-vain hope that it will freak me out enough to open the door and check. Minion of SATAN!!!

Second, today was Tuesday. Well, for  little under a half hour, today still is Tuesday. But that's not the point. The point is, Tuesdays mean marathons of Law & Order SVU on the USA Network. And let's face it, it's the best Law & Order out there. I'm so in tune with the SVU that I made sure to put my TV on the correct channel before I left for work, knowing that my DVR keeps up to four rewindable hours on a channel (assuming the cable has been on that channel for a continuous four hours) without having to waste DVR space on a rerun of a show I've seen a thousand times. That way, when I got home from work, there were four extra episodes on top of the ones that aired after I got home. I think I have turned being a couch potato into an Olympic Sport or something...

Third, I love blogging. I complain a lot (mostly to Sister) about how hard it is to come up with a topic each day--and I'm totally breaking the creativity bank with today, since this is like a blog in bullets, but even lazier--but I am so glad I started this blog. And I'm glad I've joined Twitter. You guys have been a bright shining light in the murky hazy darkness of the last week or so. I laugh out loud at most of my comments, followed by "Awww! There are real people reading my stuff!" followed by "Unless they're robots..." followed by "Who cares? They're freaking hilarious robots! And they're talking to ME!" So that's always fun. Plus, if you guys aren't reading the Sarcasm Goddess (her blog or her self-described "twats"), you're missing out. I'm pretty sure I've almost injured myself laughing every time she tweets at me. She gives out awards over at her blog for new followers--just don't bring an alligator as your date to the award show. I'm not so great with the drawings or the awards, so I'm just going to give her a hearty shout-out (Do people even say "shout-out" anymore? And I'm pretty sure the last time someone used "hearty" in that context was 1947. What is wrong with me?).

Okay, since a shout-out seems to be lame, I'll give her a good, old-fashioned, overly-specific, government-style title. Sarcasm Goddess, I now proclaim you Chief Bagel Spotter and Notification Specialist. For brevity, I understand if you keep the title of Goddess and just continue notifying me when you see bagels and not-bagels. A few more twats and you might just make it to Commissioner of the Department of Yeasty Round Things That Are Bagels and Other Yeasty Round Things That Are Not Bagels.

Fourth, I eat inappropriate meals. And I don't feel that bad about it. I've been doing WeightWatchers for years and am a full believer in the power of the program. And I truly believe that I can lose the rest of the weight if I stick to it. But I'm having a hard time caring. I mean, I care that my pants don't really fit. And I care that my body looks bad. But I can't manage to link the Kraft macaroni and cheese and Starbucks Java Chip Ice Cream I had for dinner with the tight pants. Logically, I know that ice cream and superpocessedradioactivecoloredpowderedcheesecoveredbleachedpastawithhalfastickofbutterandadollopofmilk is not a balanced or healthy meal. But it was so delicious, I can't find it in me to stop. Today, anyway. The next time I want to wear jeans instead of a jersey skirt is going to be a pretty rude awakening. But right now, this instant? I'm not really sorry...

Fifth, it's almost midnight and if I don't post this now, it's going to say I posted it on Wednesday. Which will ruin my justification for not posting this weekend (No one reads on the weekends anyway, so I'll just post every single day this week and that will make up for it). And will either make for two posts on Wednesday or the much-more-likely no actual Wednesday post. Which will really screw up my no-weekend-blogging self-justification. So I'm posting this incoherent mess with just a quick read through for typos and grammar. I can't promise it will be cohesive or comprehensible, but then again... I've never really promised that, have I? Which makes it easier on everyone when I don't deliver. Anyway, Happy Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed your SVU. Because you watched, right? RIGHT?


If You Play Her Meows Backward, There Are Hidden Messages

Well, today’s post was going to be my response to the questions generated by last week’s post. But since I only got one of those so far, I’m using my blogger’s prerogative to put that off for a day or two more. If I still don’t get any other questions than the ridiculously awesome one by letmestartbysaying, I will answer all the questions I posed to you guys AND her amazing question.

So for today’s post, I’m going to talk about Sister. It’s only fair, since she’s left me for almost two weeks alone in her house with her cat. Or she will have done. Two weeks from now. What I mean is, Sister flew out last night and will return in two weeks. At which point she will have left me for two weeks. Get it? I thought so. Why would Sister abandon me, you ask? Good question. Sister is going to a friend’s wedding. In California. On a golf course. And she’s tacking on a trip south to go see my adorable and brilliant niece. And cuddle her. And snuggle her. And do all kinds of fun things with her. Which I am not jealous about. Not one single bit. Except a tiny bit. Which is to say, quite a lot, really. But some of my bitterness comes not from Sister's ability to cuddle my niece when I can’t, but from Sister’s cat.

Since Sister’s Cat can also be called Satan’s Cat (not that Sister can be called Satan, but that Satan may or may not have bred and trained Sister’s cat before Sister adopted her), she must be locked up in Sister’s room whenever she is unsupervised in order to mitigate the extent of her damage. Oh, the damage this cat can wreak. Any glass of water left anywhere in the house, regardless of how much water is in the glass, will be up-ended within ten seconds of turning your back, usually onto something precious and irreplaceable. Anything that hangs remotely near the floor (including clothing hung in a closet, drapes on the windows, or power cords from outlets) is fair game for Tarzan reenactments. Nothing is safe from the all consuming claws. And bread... She is a bread-seeking missile with only one mission: to destroy and consume, plastic packaging be damned. These are only some of the exploits of Satan’s Cat, but I think you get the picture. If you still need more examples, think of Simon's Cat. Then multiply it by a factor of five. Then remove the fly from the picture. Then you'll be in a neighborhood slightly adjacent to Satan's Cat. 

In all fairness, the cat has behaved increasingly better over the years, due to both age and a larger house. But not that much better. To remain on the safe side of the claws and incisors, we close her in the master suite if we leave the house or go to bed, where she has access to a large bathroom that contains her food and water, a walk-in closet, and a gigantic bedroom with her scratching post and litter box. She is in no way harmed by this. We do have to lock the door, though, because she’s figured out the door knob, so she lets herself out and greets us at the door when we get home (That’s right; the door knob. Satan’s Cat, remember?). This greeting is usually followed by the phrase, “Oh my God, what have you done?” (Satan’s Cat, remember? Come on. Keep up!).

Sister sleeps in the master suite, since she's the master of the house (or at least the mortgage payer), so one might asume that night time would be safer than when we’re at work, right? One might think this because she’s supervised at night, right? Well, one would be wrong. Most nights, I can hear Sister yelling from across the hallway through two closed doors. It goes something like this: “No, get down. Seriously, with this?! What are you doing? Are you eating something? Don’t eat that! I will get the squirt bottle. Get DOWN! Are you kidding me with this? GET down! Come on… I’m so tired. Settle in, will you? No, get off my face. I can hear you... Where are you? Are you in the guitar case? Get. Out. Ohmydearlordinheaven, CAT!”

In any event, Sister left for two weeks. And like I said, I’m not jealous. Or bitter. But I am sleeping in the master suite with the cat. Because if she has spent the whole day alone in the room while I’m at work, it’s not fair to make her spend the whole night alone also. Plus, the damage would be horrific. This means I get to sleep in a pillow-top queen-size bed and watch a flat screen TV whose remote actually works. But I also have to sleep with the cat. Now, before you jump on the judgy train, I should tell you that I love this cat. She is adorable and can be sweet and cuddly and she enriches our lives. But she is not to be underestimated. She is not. to. be. trusted.

Last night, there were no apparent hijinks, but I’m pretty sure she was still trying to make my life miserable. Every time I was about to get comfortable, she would start walking on me. Just about the time I would need to roll over, she would settle in some mysteriously paralyzing spot on my body. I would try to hold out, not wanting to send her clawing up the drapes or something—a sleeping cat is the best kind of cat when that cat is also Satan’s Cat (I think I saw that embroidered on a pillow once). But eventually, my body would ache and my muscles would protest and I would have to move. When I finally decided to rouse the beast, she was suddenly about 150 pounds. I had to reach under the covers and lift her with my hands once, because she had me pinned like a WWE wrestler. I saw numbers on the digital clock that no one, who is out of college and does not have an infant in their house, should have to see.

I wore her down, though. There are only two ways to make Satan’s Cat get away from you: physically picking her up and moving her away from you multiple times or petting her. That’s right. Satan’s Cat does not like to be touched. Except when she does. But even then she doesn’t really. She only wants you to think she does. So that you’ll try. So that she can SPURN you.

Anyway, I was too sleepy to remember that petting the cat would make her leave me alone, so after about the eighth time I accidently shoved her off the bed or disrupted her sleep, she gave up and went to sleep elsewhere. At one point in the night, I woke up because of the absence of the cat (I know, I can’t catch a break, right?). And then I worried about where she was. But I was too sleepy to hold the thought for long and I fell back to sleep. Nothing was damaged this morning, so I figure we made it. One night down, twelve to go. She did spend the entire morning crying at me—this cat never stops talking and sometimes I swear it’s real words. I think she might be trying to give me a message from her master. No, not Sister. Her other master…

So, um, yeah. This post wasn’t so much about Sister. It was about Sister’s Cat. But I feel better having gotten this off my chest. And I can always blog about Sister tomorrow. Which saves me the trouble of agonizing for an hour to figure out what to write. Which usually ends up a waste of my time, anyway, because the post never goes in the direction I decided. Today is Exhibit One. Which probably means tomorrow will also not be about Sister. But dinosaurs. Or model airplanes. Which would be silly, because I know next to nothing about model airplanes. 

[In case you’re wondering, that paragraph was supposed to serve as the all-important sum-up-and-conclude-the-post final paragraph. Let’s just pretend it did its job, okay? Thanks.]

[And in case you’re wondering about something other than the last paragraph, no. You’re not crazy. The post is completely incoherent and meandering. Welcome to my life.]


Would You Like To Take A Survey?

Well, this week has been a disaster. A morass of epic (mor)assy proportions. No one died or anything. It’s not that tragic. But it was pretty bad. The one bright light is that I may break my rules soon. Why, you ask? Why would I dare to break the rule that is specifically designed to keep me from getting fired? Because I might get fired anyway. Before you ask, no. It has nothing to do with this blog. Actually, I’m convinced it has nothing to do with reality. Basically, what it comes down to is a giant misunderstanding salad with a healthy dose of megalomania sauce and a side of crazycakes. With an arsenic chaser. But, since I still have the job (for the moment), I will maintain my rule and end this topic here.

Instead, I would like to talk about you. Whoever you are. I know I’ve had a person or two stopping by these days, with a couple of regulars beginning their Bagely habit (that’s how I’ve decided to refer to this site: my Bagely habit). So, now that I have a few readers, I’d like to know more about them, er… you.

I have developed this handy quiz-like questionnaire to find out more about you. Pick a question or two (or all of them, I’m not strict) and answer them in the comments. For every question you answer, you may ask me one in return (or two or three, I’m not strict). The only questions I won’t answer are ones that will break the rules. Other than that, I’m fair game. I’ll answer them all in a post in a few days, when the traffic has been enough that I might have a question to answer. Anyway, here we go!
1.      If you could have one profession in the whole world (and not have to acquire the training, but just know how to do it from day one), what would it be?
2.      Name two things that you would change about your life, if you could snap your fingers and it would be done.
3.      Name two things that you would never change about your life.
4.      Given the choice between fruits or vegetables (like at a buffet that has only fruits and vegetables), which do you choose?
5.      If a train leaves Denver at 1:42 pm heading east at 55 mph and another train leaves St. Louis at 4:05 pm heading west at 62 mph, what time do they meet? Wait, what? Sorry… Let me try again:  You’re on a train leaving either Denver or St. Louis headed south and let’s assume this train will make any stop you want all the way down to the tip of Argentina (forget about the canal, okay?). Where do you decide to get off?
6.      What is the middle name of your firstborn child (hypothetical future child and/or live child tugging at your pant leg this very second)?
7.      What is your favorite band? Disclaimer: This may or may not be my lazy attempt to get you to broaden my horizons.
8.      If you weren’t allowed to live in the US (or your current country), where would you live?
9.      Which do you say: Pop or soda? Turn signals or blinkers or directionals? Fall or autumn? Aunt (ont) or Aunt (ant)? Tennis shoes or sneakers? Sofa or couch? Bathroom or restroom? (And any other colloquialisms you can thing of…)
10.  You unexpectedly have four days off from work (and/or are child-free) in the middle of the week. What do you do with yourself?
11.  Which do you prefer: Miracle whip or mayo? Pepsi or Coke? Mac or PC? McDonald’s or Burger King? Coffee or tea? Toilet paper: over or under? Law & Order or CSI? Toothpaste: from the end or from the middle? Sleep with socks or sleep without socks? Ballpoint or felt-tip? (And any other black and white issues you can think of…)
12. You’re stuck in traffic without your phone or a book and the radio is broken. You have only your mind to entertain yourself. You’re not in a huge rush to get anywhere, so you’re not stressed or frustrated. What is your “go to” mental entertainment?
13.  For most gifty occasions, you give:
a.       A thoughtful item you purchased
b.      Something homemade
c.       Money or gift card
d.      A well-written note or card
e.      “Oh, crap! It’s your birthday? Again? Here: I got you this… pencil.”
14.  What’s one thing you wish someone had said to you when you were younger?
15.  You’re at work and drank a 20oz latte and a Diet Pepsi and a gallon of water before lunch.  You’ve never had to pee so badly in your life, but the bathroom is full. The opposite gender bathroom is empty. Do you risk it?

Again, answer as many as you like. Then ask me questions. Because then I don’t have to agonize about what to write in my already agonizing week. And you get to know things about me. So it’s like everybody wins. Except maybe not you. Because I’m not sure my answers will be all that interesting. Let’s find out, shall we?


A Departure From The Norm

[This post is different from anything I've put on this blog so far. It’s pretty serious, without my usual (attempts at) humor. Don’t worry, I’m sure I will be back at it again tomorrow, but for now, I wanted to share something that touched me and opened my eyes this weekend. I hope you feel a little bit of what I felt and that this doesn’t come off as a sentimentalist piece about how deep-down “good” I am—because I’m not. Not at all. Today’s post isn’t about me. It’s about Him.]

I met a man on Sunday. In a completely routine, yet unexpected way, I met a man who opened my eyes and revealed some things in my heart.

I was at church on Sunday. I serve on the media ministry, which means that I show up an hour before the first service and stay past the end of the second service. It was supposed to be my week off, my only one for a while, but through a series of miscommunications and poor planning on the part of a fifteen year old (which, though slightly amusing, is really not the point, so I won’t go into detail), I ended up coming in on my normal schedule—instead of sleeping in and only attending the second service as a congregation member. I was not entirely happy about this when I left my house that morning and I had to give myself a stern talking-to about the fact that I had volunteered to serve the Lord and I should be able to do it cheerfully.

That all flew out the window when I arrived at church to find that the fifteen year old had again failed to communicate with me and had found someone else to do the job I’d gotten up early to do. Which meant that I was now at church unnecessarily for three extra hours. I was pretty grumpy about that. And I wanted to find someone to grump about it with. My mother is always at church at this time of morning, preparing food for the snack bar and running the Sunday School program, so I parked myself next to her and vented while I ate her oatmeal cookies (I was supposedly “helping” her, but we all know the truth). The phone rang in the church office. Since the first service had just started and my mother had her hands full cutting up banana bread, I was it. Figuring it would either be a Sunday School teacher calling to say they were running late or a visitor wanting to know our service times, I answered it.

There was a stretch of silence. For a split second, I considered hanging up. But then he spoke. His voice was weary and raw and I was instantly caught by the depth of his sadness. He told me his name and explained that his life was out of control. He had recently been convicted of a DUI, so he could not drive. His wife was pregnant, but she was also in jail. There was some sort of conflict between them that he couldn’t find the words to explain. He was living in a place that was not safe and he was worried he would get into trouble. He didn’t have any money, because he didn’t get paid until the end of the month. He didn’t think anyone would rent to him with the criminal history or the lack of funds. He was scared. He was lost. And then he said, “I don’t know what to do. I just need some help.”

And then he wept.

And my heart was changed. Here I was, in the midst of a frustrating morning that was not altogether different from my normal Sunday. I had a latte in one hand and a cookie baked by my loving mother in the other hand. And I was grumpy and whiny and complaining? I’m ridiculous. Plain and simple. I had far more in my life in that moment than this man had had for a long time. Suddenly, all of the petty drama, the frustrations, the lack of a few extra hours of sleep, all of my “problems” faded into insignificance in the face of this man’s burden.

While he wept on the phone to a perfect stranger, his pride surrendered and his hopes all-but lost, I felt my eyes welling, too. He was broken, devastated, and hurting. He was walking wounded. And he was the reason Christ came to Earth. He was the reason my church existed. His story was the reason the Lord calls us to compassion and love. Because we have so much. And others do not.  Had he made mistakes? I’m sure. Was some of his suffering the result of his sinful choices? Most likely. Did he need my judgment and my righteousness? Absolutely not.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Not only did I feel selfish and worm-like, but I felt incredibly ill-equipped to help him. I kept saying that I was sorry, that I understood… But I had nothing to give. I had no life-experience that could have helped him. I had no resources. I had no words. So I just sat and listened.

Eventually, one of the elders came and took the phone from me. He gave the man the phone numbers of some resources, gave him concrete steps he could take to find help, and offered to go pick him up and bring him to church so he didn’t have to be alone, at least for one day.

I met him a few hours later. I introduced myself as the one who had answered the phone. I felt even more ridiculous in person. Even more inadequate. I made awkward small talk, trying to show the man I care, but that I wasn’t insensitive. We spoke for only a moment and I told him I would pray that he find the help he needed. It was usually an off-hand remark I said when I had nothing else to say (not necessarily a lie, but not something I found myself following through on that often), but I found that I meant it with a greater-than-ever conviction. I touched his arm, unsure how to convey my love, unsure of how to end the conversation. His eyes welled up and impulsively, he hugged me.  And my heart was changed again.

Because church is not about me. Sunday morning is not about me. This life is not. about. me. My eyes were opened. My heart was changed. And I’m so glad it was.


This Is A List For No Reason Whatsoever

1.   Today, I’m going to cop out and post in list form.

2.   Although, I don’t know how much of a copout it really is, since all the bloggers I like, who do it and call it a copout, usually generate a funny list that I enjoy. But whatever.

3.   I ordered a latte today from my favorite drive-up coffee kiosk (do you all have those where you live? Because my town is full of them) and, even though I ordered a 20oz and paid for a 20oz, I received a 16oz. That may or may not have been made correctly. I made a sad face all the way to work.

4.   This was not the first time they’ve done this to me.

5.   This was not even the first time in the past week. And I would talk to the management about this, but the owner is the rudest of all the baristas and I think she might hate me. Which means I may have to find a new coffee stand.

6.   I’m a confrontation avoider. I can tell by all of your shocked faces that I have excellently hidden this personality flaw. It was time to come clean and begin to heal. I apologize for my behavior and am seeking treatment.

7.   I’m not actually seeking treatment of any kind. But it seems to be the thing you say to avoid taking responsibility for any of your indiscretions. You don’t even have to actually get any treatment. You just have to seek it. Or something...

8.   Sometimes, my job makes me want to kick puppies. And I will never do anything about it, because of #6. Maybe I should seek treatment.
9.   I unexpectedly ran into my father on my way to lunch, which was a really nice treat. He’s kind of an awesome guy. He made the puppy-kicking urge fade considerably.

10. I had Chinese food for lunch today, which is completely unacceptable on WeightWatchers. But it’s okay, because I now feel gross. So, point taken, WeightWatchers. Well played.

11. I take issue with poor grammar. I won’t call myself a grammar snob, because I’m sure I do things incorrectly all the time and will call all kinds of negative attention to my flaws if I do. But basic mistakes, repeated and even flaunted, cause me physical pain. Cringing, tense pain. The Internet can make the world a scary place for me. For my mental and physical health, please brush up on heterographs.

12. I miss Roommate. This is not necessarily new or interesting information. But it’s true. Roommate, if you’re reading this, call me. I miss you.

13. I joined Twitter this weekend. I’m still not quite sure how to work it, but I’m putting myself out there. Plus, I’m following my favorite bloggers and they are hilarious!

14. I had an eye-opening experience yesterday that I may or may not write about tomorrow. I can’t seem to find the right words yet. But my heart feels just a little different.

15. This number intentionally left blank.

16. I will never understand why drivers find it necessary to pull out in front of me (to the point where I have to slam on my brakes) and then go five to ten miles under the speed limit. And yes, I know they are just limits, not requirements and blah blah blah whatever—I have places to get to, people! And I imagine that you do, too. Or you wouldn’t have pulled out in front of me instead of waiting the six seconds it would have taken me to pass by since there was no one behind me. Your all-fire rush is the reason for your ass-hattery, yes? But obviously NOT, because you don’t even go the speed limit in your rush. So why? WHY?

17. I fear that some questions I have for the universe will never be answered to my satisfaction.

18. Sister and I are going to a WeightWatchers meeting (and a weigh in… CURSE YOU, CHINESE FOOD!) tonight and the grocery shopping. Because our house lacks food. Not in a “we’re going to starve or have to eat the cat” kind of way. But in the “I had Chinese food for lunch and cheated on the plan because there is nothing to put in my cute, insulated, polka dot lunch bag that will make any sort of healthy meal” kind of way.

19. And she just texted to ask if I wanted to go to my favorite restaurant to have one of my favorite (mostly healthy) meals in between the meeting and the shopping. This is one of the many reasons why I love Sister.

20. She also just texted me a picture of the aforementioned cat snuggling on her lap on the couch. While I am stuck here at work. This is one of the reasons Sister will get the angry eyebrows when she comes to pick me up.

21. The building I work in is undergoing an extensive remodel right now. And we continue to work here. So the hammering, banging, screwing, machining, back-hoeing, and beeping are going to drive me out of my flippin’ bird.

22. Last night on TV, I heard the phrase “snoring is not sexy.” I also heard the phrase “no one wants to be bald!” And “body fat is unattractive.” I’m not entirely sure why it bothers me, but I don’t like it when TV stops being subtle and just tells me what to think. I’m sure marketers are paid a ton of money to tell me subliminally that everything is wrong with my body, home, and life so that I will buy their product. I don’t like it, but I respect the effort that they put in. And then someone goes for the completely obvious (not to mention commonly known) dig that says, “Your life is so bad that we’re not going to waste the time trying to change your mind without you knowing it. We’re just going tell you straight up that you suck.”

23. Twenty-three seems like a respectably random number on which to end the post.
a)   Except, I wanted to ask you all a question (in many parts). Do you have questions for the universe that you fear will never get answered? How close have you gotten to the answer? Are these questions on the same level as why drivers are such ass-hats? Or are they more like why do bad things happen to good people?  Or alternately, more like how many [insert profession or group of people here] does it take to change a light bulb?
b)   Also, have you had any eye-opening experiences lately? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours. Except that I will probably tell you anyway. Tomorrow.