Friday, January 30, 2009

Beware! The Music Geeks Cometh!

Yesterday and today represent two of my least favorite days to work downtown. Every year, there is some sort of high school music festival involving busloads of band and orchestra geeks and their teachers in downtown Peoria. Is it All-State? I have no idea, but they really irritate me.

Before you all get up in arms and call me a bitch (again), I will preface all of this by saying I am allowed to bitch and moan about music geeks (and call them music geeks) because I was, in fact, a big fat music geek myself. When you start playing the violin at the age of 3 and play every day for the next 20 years (except for the few weeks after my brother broke my arm), you have earned the right to make fun of the next generation of music geeks.

Oh yes, I was a BIG music geek. And because I played the violin, I naturally thought I was better than every other music geek in the world (because I was). I did every violin thing imaginable. I was a Suzuki violinist, so we had weekly lessons, monthly play days, and two weeks of violin camp every summer. I was in All-State Orchestra twice. I had a violin hickey from the first grade until I graduated from college.

So, I get these kids. I've been these kids. But I still find them fucking annoying. Walking down the sidewalks in packs preventing me from entering my parking lot. Walking through the parking lot preventing me from leaving my parking lot. (I swear to god, if that kid hadn't been carrying a cello, I would have tapped him with the front of my car. But, I have a soft spot for cellists, so I resisted.) Camping out eating lunch in the lobby of my office building. Taking up every available seat in the downtown area for lunch.

I do have some positive things to say about these kids, though. They don't jaywalk, which immediately makes them 10 times smarter than Bradley kids. They are fairly well-behaved considering most of them don't have parents with them. You don't hear about them trashing hotels and getting shit-face-wasted like the Basketball kids who show up in March. Plus, they are snappy dressers because they have to perform. I saw an entire carload of 17 year olds in tuxes this morning. How sweet.

And don't get me started on those Basketball kids. They are 100 times worse than the music kids. First, there are more of them. Second, they are here for longer. Third, their parents come with them and, if there is anything more annoying than High School jocks let loose on downtown . . . it's their parents.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Live Blogging from My Couch

Well, since this format seems to work so well for another blogger, I thought I would try it. Granted, I'm not covering some important media event or meeting, but I bet my live blogging will be a hell of a lot more fun. Plus, it is too damn cold to go out. Oh, yeah . . . and I'm the only adult here so I should probably stay at home.

7:56 pm - Three year old finally sung herself to sleep. Ugh.

What the fuck is up with Stacy London's gray streak? I thought Jay Leno had the corner on that market. Although, have you noticed that Jay Leno's streak used to be white in front surrounded by black and now it is black in front surrounded by gray?

7:57 pm - excuse me. Important text message

7:59 pm - switch to Tool Academy. I missed it on Sunday because of fab book club meeting. I can't figure out whether the men are really the tools or there will be a surprise ending where it is revealed that the women are really the bigger tools. Because, all of these women should be shot in the head. Or the fake boobs.

8:01 pm - Oh yeah. Right. The tools are holding each other accountable. Whatever. Oh oh - crooked nipples? I might have to pay attention now.

8:02 pm - important text message

8:03 pm - it is fucking cold in my house. Seems to be colder than usual this winter. Why is that?

8:05 pm - I'm sorry, but how can you love someone for who he is when his hair looks like a rooster who had an accident with a bleach bottle. Does that make me shallow? Hmm . . . something to think about.

8:10 pm - UGH! I can't believe Vicki Christina Barcelona won a Golden Globe. That was a shitty movie. Shitty, shitty movie written by a dirty old man about what he fantasizes young intelligent educated women are like. All it shows is that he has absolutely NO CLUE what women are like. Which is probably why he married with his daughter. Clearly, he doesn't really get women. Gross, gross, gross. I mean, when girls travel together, shouldn't they be talking about their hopes and their dreams and not flirting with overly-hairy men in foreign bars? Aside from the overly-hairy thing, I would much rather flirt than talk about my hopes and dreams over and over again while I am in Europe.

8:14 pm - OK - babe. No man can MAKE you feel beautiful. That's not his job. It is YOUR job to feel good about yourself.

8:18 pm - The Ping-Pong Personality Game. They may be tools, but they have a way with words, I'm telling you.

"It deeply upsetted me."

8:23 pm - I just remembered my daughter zipped up my hoodie all the way up while we were reading books an hour ago which is why the zipper keeps poking me in the neck. Mystery solved.

8:25 pm - text message from crazy BFF. I mean, she is always sort of crazy but in the last few weeks she has been walking on the edge of truly batshit crazy. She is obsessed with her sister's impeding divorce. While I know this is very hard for the entire family, my BFF has really taken it upon herself to do most of the freaking out for her sister. It's not healthy, I tell you. I think she needs a hobby. Or four. Or a job.

8:35 pm - I haven't talked to my parents for awhile. I wonder what is going on with them. They were in South Carolina two weekends ago and my brother was at their house this past weekend. I know this because my brother "poked" me using my dad's facebook account. I think he can't figure out how to have his own account. Which is weird because he used to be a computer nerd. But now the last thing he did with his computer was transfer all of his opera CDs to his iPod. So, maybe that still makes him a computer nerd but in a completely different way.

8:36 pm - I think trailers for horror films should only be shown after 10 pm. They freak me the shit out. Yes, even the trailers. I don't like them. Just like that Nike ad during the 2000 Summer Olympics which featured the woman being chased by a crazy masked killer and she was able to outrun him because she was wearing Nikes? I couldn't sleep for a week after that ad. I lived on the third floor and I set up traps in front of all my windows. Well, I mean . . . I set out glasses and pots and pans so I could be scared shitless 1.5 seconds before I was cut into tiny little pieces by a psychokiller.

8:39 pm - Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew!! All of the Tool Academy conjugal visits happen in the same room. There is NO way I would get busy on that bed. Ew. Ew. Eeeeeeewwwwwww.

8:41 pm - Oh no! He started talking about his moms! The shit is on.

8:53 pm - crap. got sucked into shoutbox conversation at PeoriaSpeaks. Hard to live blog in two places at the same time. I might just be woman enough to handle it, though.

8:56 pm - Is she going to go home with the Tool?? She always does. Fucking spineless twits. Oh, Celebrity/Clarence going home. He's just a complete tool.

8:57 pm - PEACE BITCH! She didn't get into the car with her boyfriend. She rocks! I have new respect for her. Wait. She spent 10 years with a guy who calls himself "Celebrity"?? It's about time she left him.

9:00 pm - What to watch next? Housewives? America's Funniest Home Videos? The Housewives are creeeeeepy. Oh, but they are in Chicago. I have to see that.

I hate these women. They are just like the Tool women, just with better boob jobs and more money.

9:05 pm - The day has finally arrived . . . "My mom has finally decided to get a facelift." Those are words I will never utter. Thank god. But I bet my mom is 10 years older than this women and looks 10 times better.

9:07 pm - Another thing they should never show on TV . . . plastic surgery. Ew.

9:08 pm - OK. It is too fucking cold on my couch to type. I need gloves or something.

9:09 pm - low flying airplane. Rattled the windows. Hope it doesn't wake anyone up.

9:12 pm - Now I have my flannel pajamas on and a down blanket over me and I'm still cold. I swear to god, these women get facials every week. What a waste of money. I like a good massage and all, but I have more important things to spend money on.

9:15 pm - I don't know why people find live blogging interesting. If I wanted a blow-by-blow of someone's life, I would hang out with them. I still think this has got to be more interesting than city council meetings, but I could be wrong. I've gotten a good laugh out of a few city council meetings, but it is more like I am laughing at them rather than with them.

9:23 pm - TV is boooooooring tonight. Maybe The Closer episode I missed this week is on On Demand.

9:26 pm - Nope. I wonder if it is online.

Damn, I can't get it to work. Of course, I'm tired and my patience is running down. I give up. It will be on at some point. They always are.

9:30 pm - Blah, blah, blah. I'm going to go read a book.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Girl Talk

I’m sure there are guys who assume when women get together, we just talk about our feelings and make-up and shoes and purses. Oh, and we always have a pillow fight in our underwear. Truthfully, some of that is true. Except we almost always have naked pillow fights.

Last night, Katie and I were on our way to book club. One of our dear book club members just had a beautiful baby girl on Thursday. In addition, about 500 of our closest friends are currently pregnant. For any woman, even two women not wanting or expecting to be pregnant, the presence of so much pregnancy tends to invade every day conversations. So, that’s the back story for this conversation:

Me: Sometimes I wonder if my uterus is all old and dried up.

Katie: You are NOT that old!

Me: I’ll be 38 this year. 38!!

Katie: You have a solid ten years left of good uterus.

Me: Ten years?? I don’t want to have a baby at 48!! I’m not going to be using my uterus for that at 48!

Katie: Oh, well, yeah . . . that. I wouldn’t recommend having a baby after 45.

Me: What the hell did you think I was talking about using my uterus for? Extra storage space?

Katie: Oh my god . . . I’m having the weirdest mental picture!

[stop talking to giggle about what we could store in our uteruses (uteri?)]

Me: Wow. There’s a thought. It would be a really good place to keep my keys. I can NEVER find my keys when I need them.

Katie: It would be like the Great Room of a house!

Me: Well, really . . . it does fulfill all of your families needs.

[more giggling]

Katie: So, if the vagina is the Great Room . . . .

Me: No, the uterus is the Great Room. The vagina is more like the entryway to the Great Room.

Katie: Like the doorway. Wait, no . . . the labia is like the doorway, the vagina is the entryway and the uterus is the Great Room. That works.

[more giggling]

Katie: So . . . what’s the anus?

Me: The man cave?

Friday, January 23, 2009

My First Car

I've been thinking a lot about cars lately, most likely because I have just purchased my latest new car this month. Then I read The Rotund Reader's post about her first car and it inspired me, mostly because of the similarities between her first car and mine.

I turned 16 in August of 1987. My parents were desperate for me to get my driver's license so I could drive myself and my little brother to and from school everyday. The car that was going to be my car had been waiting for me all summer in the driveway and I had been practicing driving it, with a parent present, of course.

My grandfather gave me his 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit. It was poop-brown on the outside with tan vinyl upholstery. It was a two-door with what passed for "automatic" seatbelts in 1979: the seatbelts were attached to the door, but unlike new models, they didn't move when you shut the door. They were permanently attached to the top corner of the door. It ran on regular leaded gasoline and had only FM radio. It didn't have air-conditioning. It also didn't have power steering, which was good for the arm muscles.

I loved that car for many reasons. First, it was a gift from my grandfather who took his cars very seriously. Second, it was my ticket to coolness and freedom. Third, it was a VW. VW's have a sort of pedestaled existence in my family. My grandfather always drove one once he retired and gave my dad a baby blue VW bug for his 21st birthday. (In later years, my grandfather would give my brother a blue VW Golf when he turned 21 and my parents gave me a VW Jetta when I turned 21.)

As with most mythical creatures, the Rabbit experienced a sad end. One day in the Spring of 1988, I picked up my brother at his junior high school and we were driving home. I hated having to pick him up because he was so irritating as only little brothers can be. We were arguing about something stupid - he probably looked at me funny or some such horrible offense. I wasn't paying attention to the road and rear-ended a Cadillac.

We weren't hurt and the Cadillac wasn't damaged at all. But the front end of my Rabbit was crumpled. The headlights were destroyed and I couldn't get out of either one of the doors. And my pride was severely bruised.

My parents were not pleased, probably because they knew I had caused the accident while yelling at my brother. As punishment, they refused to buy me a replacement car for a month and didn't fix the Rabbit. Instead, they made me drive it (only during the day because there were no headlights). For a month, I had to crawl in and out of the hatchback door.

My parents always excelled at interesting and humiliating punishments. This one worked - I never totalled another car again. On the other hand, my brother totalled three cars before he turned 21 including the 1983 Toyota Corolla I got as a replacement for the Rabbit.

There is nothing like your first car. No matter how crappy, no matter the problems. It's like your first love . . . you'll always have a longing to recapture that feeling and no car will ever replace it in your memory.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Never Underestimate My Ability to Change the World

They cut down my really big wooden tree penis!! I'm pretty sure it happened this morning after I went to work because I'm pretty sure it was there on my way to work this morning. Who knew I had such power? I shall try to not abuse my great power and be kind to the little people and those who are much weaker than I.

Seriously, though. Can you imagine the conversation that occurred at the Park District's grounds maintenance office? I've been picturing it in my head for the last hour or so.

[The scene: Five guys are sitting around in the maintenance office at the Peoria Park District.]

Guy 1: Huh huh . . . hey guys! Take a look at this! [pointing to blog pictures]

Guy 2: Nice woody! Huh huh huh!!

Guy 3: Huh huh . . . he said woody!

Guy 4: Huh huh . . . she said penis!

Guy 5: Hey, wait. Doesn't that say it's on Park District property? Sweet!

[boss walks in]

Boss: What the fuck are you idiots laughing at?

Guy 1: Look!

Boss: Shit . . . that's on our property? Where? Does anyone know where?? Send out an APB on this really big wooden tree penis. We cannot have that sucker on our property!

[After some frantic emailing, the really big wooden tree penis is located. A plan is formulated. Under the cover of broad daylight and a neighborhood full of primarily elderly people, a lone man in a white truck approaches the really big wooden tree penis. Apprehensive about the effect cutting off a really big tree penis will have on his penis karma, he plans his attack carefully. Starting up the chainsaw, he completes the deed . . . quick and painless. He removes the really big wooden tree penis and throws it in the back of his truck. He returns to the Park District office and displays the really big wooden tree penis to be revered by all for evermore, evermore.]

I took pictures during my lunch hour and I will post them when I get home tonight. They cut off the entire penis, not just a portion of it to make it look less like a penis, but the entire penis, which I think was overkill, really. But you wanna know the best part?

They covered up the stump with snow!

Why was that necessary? As if covering it with snow (a substance that will melt in the next few days anyway) will hide the shame of a really big wooden tree penis formerly occupying a spot on Park District Property? Why else would they cover it up? To conceal their dirty deed from me? Well, it didn't work, primarily because there is sawdust all around the tree and tire tracks leading up near to the tree, and men's work boot prints all around the tree. I may be blonde, people, but I am not stupid.

But I remain in awe of my power and the power of my blog. I shall plan my next post very carefully, for you apparently never know what I can get people to do by just bitching about it.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Maybe It's Just Me

I drive by this tree every morning on my way to work. It is on Peoria Park District property and every day (and I mean, every day) I think to myself, "Either the Peoria Park District has some really creative tree-trimmers working or some really clueless tree-trimmers working."

OK - I'll be completely honest. Some mornings, I don't have complete thoughts like that. Some mornings, I just think, "Wow . . . that's a really big wooden tree penis."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Goodbye Uncle T

My Uncle T died on Monday afternoon. As I detailed in this post, it was not a sudden death and he was ready to go. For his sake, I am happy he was able to pass on and have his life end per his wishes. But it is still a death and, more importantly, the first death of a member of my parents’ generation in our family.

This has been the hardest part of T’s illness and death for me - being faced to recognize the potential death of my parents. T was 59 years old, which makes him four years younger than my mother and nine years younger than my father. Granted, my parents live much healthier lifestyles than T did, but they can’t live forever and, sooner or later, I will be coping with their deaths as well.

Just admitting this puts me close to panic. I can seriously cannot imagine my life without my parents. They are the single most dominant force in my life and, without them, I am in some fear that I will cease to exist. Well, maybe that’s overly dramatic. But I know that I will cease to exist as the same person after they die and that's scary.

In addition to the fear of their death, I have a healthy fear of their incapacitation, mentally or physically. My dad has good longevity genes (both of his parents lived into their 90s) but his father suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease for the last 20 years of his life. His mother was mentally "with it" for longer, but for the last five years or so, slowly succumbed to dementia as well. For some time, I have feared that my father will also descend into Alzheimer’s.

My mother’s genes are considerably better in that department. Her mother died quickly in her sleep without any prior serious illnesses at the age of 79. Her father just turned 90 and is still very physically and mentally able. But my Uncle T was my mother’s brother, so who is to say brain cancer isn’t lurking somewhere in those genes? While our family likes to joke that T purposefully developed brain cancer to get away from his horrible wife, it is bittersweet laughter.

What makes this fear worse for me is the knowledge that it will fall on my shoulders to deal with any health problems or a death. My brother has absolutely no ability to deal with serious issues in a calm and reasoned fashion. He prefers to pretend everything is OK, no matter the evidence to the contrary.

I know I can’t do anything constructive about these issues other than worry about them and that doesn’t really get me anywhere. I have been blessed to have my parents together and alive and always in my life. I was lucky to know all of my grandparents very, very well and not lose the first one until I was 27. A lot of people don’t get these opportunities and never have the strength of familial relationships I have had.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Folsum Daycare Blues

One of the added benefits of XM radio is the station for "younger" children. (As an aside, the Ms. PH of five years ago would have shot herself if she knew she was going to be making a statement like that one. On her behalf, I would like to say . . . barf.) We listen on the way to day care every morning and it gives us a break from our regular kids’ CD playlist.

I have to admit, I find a lot of the programming amusing. It is a little above my three year old’s head, but she laughs if I laugh. But what sold it for me this morning was Ralph’s World singing "Folsum Daycare Blues." Yes, it is exactly what you think it is. And it is fabulous.

Folsum Daycare Blues

Well, I hear the teacher comin’, walking across the room
I ain’t seen the sun shine, and now it’s nearly noon
I’m stuck in Folsom Day Care, time keeps draggin’ by
I hear the teacher comin’, I hang my head and cry

When I was a baby, my Mama told me, son
Be nice to other children, share your toys with everyone
Well I pushed a toddler over, just to watch him fall
I’m here in Folsom Day Care, and it’s no fun at all

If I was a little taller, if the minivan was mine
I’d take it for a drive a little further down the line
Far from Folsom Day Care, that’s where I long to be
I hear the teacher comin’, and that’s what tortures me

I don’t like their naptime, and I won’t eat their snacks
There’s so many runny noses I don’t know what I’m gonna catch
But my Mom and Dad have left me, and I just don’t why
I’m stuck in Folsom Day Care, I hang my head and cr

I think my favorite part is "Well, I pushed a toddler over, just to watch him fall." That was exactly what I needed on a dreary Monday morning.

Friday, January 9, 2009

So, I Kinda Bought a New Car

I have got to stop saying that, primarily because said new car is sitting my driveway, the balance in my bank account is considerably lower, and the dealer took my old car. So, I really bought a new car.

I keep saying "kinda" because I wasn’t planning on buying a new car this week. I mean, I had been thinking about buying a new car for the last year or so, but I certainly wasn’t planning on buying a new car in the sense that I went car shopping, test drove several brands, evaluated them thoroughly and completely, compared prices online, etc.

But I knew at some point in the future, I was going to buy a new car. My car was a 2001 model which I had been driving for seven and a half years. It has been paid off for the last two and a half years. It was getting to that point that I knew things were going to start going wrong and going wrong in a big way. Old cars (and by old, I mean more than 5 years old) suck money. I’ve been down that road before and I did not like it and I don’t plan on doing it again.

I was happy in my 2001 car. Sure, it was a mess, but it was comfortable. I didn’t have worry about the kids getting dirt on it, the dog shedding in it, or the occasional spill, because it was already in rough shape, looks-wise. Aside from routine maintenance stuff, I hadn’t had to put a lot of money or thought into owning the car. It got me where I wanted to go with no hassle. But then, it started to be pretty loud when I started it. And it got progressively louder and louder. And then it passed 90,000 miles and it was time for a service. Plus, as everyone and my father informed me, I had a headlight out.

I dropped it off at the dealer’s service department in the morning, informed them of the problems, and went on my merry way. I may have mentioned to the shuttle driver that I was considering buying a new car in the future. Of course, he mentioned it to a salesperson, who called me at work and asked me to come talk to him when I picked up my car.

Yeah, whatever, I thought. I’m not buying a new car today, so what could it hurt? I talked to him, looked at my options, talked about money, and I even test drove one. Sure, it was nice to drive a new car, a 2009 model that is the step up from my 2001 model. But, I wasn’t sold on it.

Then, I went to the service department to pay. The service fee? $82. The estimated cost to repair the exhaust system? $1200. Right then and there, I changed my mind. This was the end for my old car. It was time to say goodbye. In my mind, either I pay $1200 to fix the old car now, knowing full well that every other month or so I will incur another unexpected expense, or I put $1200 down on a new car now, and have a set, anticipated monthly expense.

I’m not one who likes financial surprises at all, so I went with the new car.

The new car is beautiful. It is black (of course, all of my cars are black) and shiny. I went from a small 2001 sedan to a mid-sized 2009 sedan (It’s like a big girl car!) It is really comfortable. The trunk is huge. The engine is so quiet. It is soooooo pretty. I wanted to sleep in it the first night.

Plus, it comes with XM radio. In all seriousness, I don’t know how I lived this long without satellite radio, particularly given the state of radio in Peoria. I’ve heard people say that before and I thought they were crazy. They aren’t. Satellite radio is the best thing ever.

I have a little twinge of buyer’s remorse, but I think that is all about my personality rather than the speed at which I made the decision to buy this car. I mean, I still have buyer’s remorse about my house and I bought that seven years ago.

This car buying experience was vastly different than my last one. This time, I test drove one car and bought that car. Last time, I test drove at least eight cars, some more than once, kept a chart and notes on what I thought each time I drove them, and researched them online before buying. (And I still had a twinge of remorse that time too.)

This time, I didn’t have a desperate need to buy a new car. Last time, I was more than desperate and I wasn’t sure if my 1992 Volkswagen Jetta was going to make it to the dealer to trade it in. I almost felt bad for the dealership when they bought that car. I know they lost money on that deal, hands down. Suckers!

This time, I didn’t cry when I emptied the old car. When I emptied my Jetta, I cried like a baby. It was so emotional getting rid of my Jetta. The Jetta got me through the last two years of college, law school, and all the years in between. From the ages of 21 to 30, that black Jetta was a part of me, as cars often are at that age. It was the first car that was ever really mine. I put all but 12 of the miles on it. I was in the car for every pothole, door ding, hail storm, and bird bomb. I was driving it when I hit an armadillo at 2:30 a.m. in the middle of Texas.

But it was also the single worst car I have ever experienced. It had electrical problems from day one and I got a shock every time I got in it. The tires were constantly flat. I had to replace one of the headlights every three months. In the later years, the sunroof leaked (usually on my head), the car died in the middle of intersections for no apparent reason, and the tape deck stopped working without warning. I replaced every part on that car at least once. The driver’s side door was rusted out and the glove compartment stuck shut.

As they say, the bitterest break-ups are the hardest to get over. I still miss that Jetta.

But, I’m a big girl now and I have a grown-up car to prove it. And the grown-up car payments.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First Question of the Year

I would like someone to explain to me why we can't as a society seem to make a decent bathtub writing instrument. I'm absolutely serious about this question, people. How hard can it be to make an art product for children that actually works in the bathtub?

Really, really, really hard, as it turns out. I have tried a variety of options, tonight being the latest in a long string of bathtub writing instrument failures. The markers were too runny, the paints stained my tub, and kids get bored with "painting" with plain old water. Tonight, we tested the bathtub crayons. And, I'm not afraid to give my honest opinion on their performance . . .

They FUCKING sucked.

Not only did they fail to write appropriately on the bathtub, they broke in half after one usage, stained my bathtub, and turned the water a cloudy beige-grey color. Cloudy beige-grey with weird flecks.

Am I getting up in arms about something completely inconsequential and stupid? Yes. But, the mere mention of writing in the bathtub makes my daughter's dreams come true and . . . shocker . . . sometimes I like to make my children happy.

But Noooooooooooo.

Again, I have to explain to my child why I have thrown out another failed bathtub writing instrument that she became insanely attached to after one use, despite screaming bloody murder from frustration because they kept breaking and the white crayon didn't show up on the bathtub (Seriously Crayola? A WHITE bathtub crayon? Come. On.)

I'm probably going to really regret making this my first post of 2009.