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You, Sir, are kicked out of “The Menagerie”

“He just blowed for you,” Darcy said from the back seat, eyes wide and still confusing her prepositions. Were we in trouble? He doesn’t look happy. Well, I pissed off the new crossing guard at Jackson’s school this morning. He’s a man in his 60s with a handheld stop sign and a whistle he’s not a afraid to blow with wild abandon. I treat him with distance and respect.

But I was tired this morning. And I was waving at a friend on the corner.

I didn’t notice him signaling me to turn right and so I got not one, not two, but three blows. The last blow was exasperated. It felt like a higher pitch although I’m not sure that’s possible.  It was the sound the whistle makes then the blower smokes too much and thinks everyone is an idiot.

This is basically the face I got this morning.

We made eye contact and his eyes were filled with contempt. Neon clad fingers pointed at me forcefully then directed me to turn right. The disdain was palpable. I wasn’t looking at my phone, I promise. I wasn’t about to hit a stroller.

But there is NO ROOM FOR MISTAKES AT DROP OFF!!!

Therefore, I must declare publicly that the new crossing guard at Jackson’s school is officially kicked out of The Menagerie.

I suppose I should explain what The Menagerie is. First you should know this: a writer’s mind is a vivid honeycomb of anecdotes, fantasies, dialogue, and clouded memories. And this massive cellular structure is all dripping in the honey of self-doubt and sarcasm.

Back to The Menagerie…

(Also, I know there are some of you who are confusing the word “menagerie” with “menage a trios.” Not the same. You have a dirty gutter mind.)

Simply put, The Menagerie is a group of people who I enjoy interacting with but would never really be friends with. I’m pretty fascinated by people even if I don’t always like them. The characters in The Menagerie have interesting stories. They are usually older people and therefore their stories a gilded by a veneer of fiction I find endearing. Their stories, their quips, and their motivations all provide fodder for my creative work. Write what you know, the adage goes.

Other current residents of the menagerie include my amazing landscaper who told me that he used to eat the squirrels he hunted in my area before they “put in all these goddamed houses” and the ex-CEO of Aeropostale who sat across from me in the adult education watercolor class at Bronxville HS. She wore Chanel shoes and Hermes scarves but borrowed my watercolors.

“Have you painted much before?,” I asked.

“No, but I have some experience in design. I just retired.”

“Oh, really? What did you do?”

“I worked in retail. At Aeropostale.”

My face must have looked confused as I tried to square a classy lady like herself folding $8 shirts at Aeropostale. So she clarified, “I was the CEO.”

“Oh?” I said. Duh, I am sitting in a school in Bronxville. 

“Can I borrow your cerulean?”

Can I borrow your fucking Birkin bag? <– I didn’t say that.

Anyway, I thought the new crossing guard would be perfect for my mind curio cabinet. He drives a red scooter that he parks in the fire lane and surrounds with small orange cones from Dick’s Sporting Goods. That’s so idiots like me don’t hit the scooter. Or the idiots who drive the fire truck make sure to steer clear when they are pulling their emergency vehicle close to the school to save our children from burning flames or from ISIS.

Also, he wears one of those Sons of Anarchy helmets. The small black skull caps that look like they will do NOTHING if you get into an accident. That kind. And attached to the back of his helmet are three foxtails.

I am not kidding.

He also plants his pop-up chair in a neighbor’s yard. Not on school property but quite literally in the middle of someone’s lawn. There is shade here. I shall have it.

And one time, I saw him put his own body in front of a turning car. I think he even slapped the hood of the car so the driver would stop. Apparently, this driver decided she would turn right while he was crossing another party. He walked to the car and hollered at the driver. I can’t remember what he said but I’m pretty sure he muttered curses as he trudged back into the crosswalk. In my mind now, the crossing guard yelled the drill sergeant’s lines from Full Metal Jacket.  Something to the effect of… I didn’t know they stacked shit that high!

The point is…that four way intersection belongs to him…on school days…between 7:15 & 8:15am and then again between 2:30 & 3:30.

I don’t know much more about this guy. And after this morning, I will never find out. He’s the type who never forgets a face. I am now in the idiot category.

If you’d like to read about another group in my menagerie, check out my story of The Sippin’ Sisters.

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Grandma Pug, her physical, and my healthy distrust of cats

“Be right back,” the vet tech says smiling as he closes the exam room door. No, you won’t be right back. Just tell me about how long I’ll be waiting on you. You have no intentions of being right back. The lies begin.

And with that, Doug leaves me and Thatcher in the sixty degree exam room with it’s distinct funk and cat posters. I look around. We got a cat room. Now I have to deal with this anxiety-ridden pug in a cat room.

(I hate cats. I have nothing against “cat people” but I do not trust cats. A cat scratched me right underneath the eye when I was little. Granted, I was trying to pick it up. But I don’t think aggravated assault was an appropriate reaction. That cat tried to blind me. Ever since them, I’ve despised them. They are small demons here to do the dark work of Satan.)

Now I can focus only on my irritation with this cat breeds poster (aka Demon’s Notebook). Th pug can focus only on the impeding indignities of an annual exam. The butt probe. The shots. The bright lights to the eye. The new vaccine that gets squirted in her nose.

She knows what’s coming. She’s sweating. I pick her up and notice the wet under her little pug arms. I put her down. Gross. The smell of urine covered by the smell of ammonia (thanks for using a component of urine to clean urine, vet office!!) has hints of dog body odor.

And I forgot my phone. Surprising because my phone is literally attached to my hand.

I look at the magazine rack. Only a Better Homes issue from September 2014 and a book of pithy cat quotes called Cataclysms.

Hard pass.

Still waiting. I attempt to give Thatcher a treat. She looks at me with utter disgust. I’m complicit in the rapey things that will happen to her when the vet tech comes back. She looks down at the treat then up at me. You eat it. It’s probably paleo and you love that shit, she seems to quip.

I swipe two lollipops for the kids from the same area of the desk. (I would swipe more human pops  after the tech shows me the price for the “senior dog” annual exam.)

Doug finally returns. He explains the pricing for the physical. “It’s more than last year’s $140 because she’s a senior now.” We prefer “pug of a certain age,” I think to myself.

Doug has questions about Thatcher. Eating, pooping, drinking, sleeping. Yes to all. Heartguard medicine. “Yes, from Sam’s club,” I lie. The actual answer is that I bought the three month supply last year and didn’t follow up. She’s a healthy weight though. I congratulate myself on being an awesome dog parent.

Doug picks up Thatcher . He winces when he feels the sweat in her armpits. Yes, Doug. She’s afraid. The tail is down. The sweat is up.  I ponder if I should have dabbed some essential oil on Thatcher before coming.

I tell Thatcher it will all be okay. Another lie. She looks back at me forlornly. She’s no Fulbright scholar but  knows why we are here. The only way to tell if you are healthy is to stick long doctor’s office q-tips in you. I’m sorry.

So I wait. And I wait. Just me, this cold room, and this cat poster. Now I’m sweating too. I blame the cats on the poster. Kill Doug, the Bombay with the golden eyes seems to say. And now I’m casting out demons.

The pug comes back. She is happy it’s over. Doug says she did great and I just shake my head. I’ll never actually know what goes on when the tech leaves the room with my dog. Maybe Doug took Thatcher to be hypnotized by some cat demon underboss. And now she’s under a spell. Thatcher circles the legs of the chair so excitedly that she strangles herself and starts coughing. The cat poster snickers. A spell indeed.

An overweight pug. Not quite a fur balloon just yet though.

Finally, the doctor comes in. I like her. She sits on the floor with the dog instead of making Thatcher scramble on the metal table. She comments that Thatcher is a healthy weight and looks more like 8 or 9 years old rather than 11. These, Thatcher knows, are the best compliments any female can get. Thin and young-looking.

The doctor even comments that most pugs  look like ottomans by 11 years old. A pug ottoman is such a delightful image that I am momentarily distracted from the evil cat poster.

The rest of the appointment goes well. We look at Thatcher’s gross skin tags. Harmless but I’m still convinced they could be her twins (a la My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

Then I check out. I write them a big fat check for the rapey things they did to my supermodel pug. And we both leave feeling icky.

 

 

 

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The pitfalls of pop music and littles

They don't actually want to work.

They don’t actually want to work.

The opening chords of Fifth Harmony’s “Work from Home” trigger a hysterical reaction in both of my children. Darcy closes her eyes (a classic Darcy dance move) and begins conducting an invisible orchestra of synthesizers. And Jackson hides behind a “curtain,” or whatever piece of furniture will hide him adequately so he can make a big entrance during the refrain. As the girl group repeats “work work work” over and over, my 6yo parades around the coffee table doing spastic karate moves.

They both love the song so much that I decided to show them local choreographer Michelle Key’s piece. It was a minor instagram sensation and it’s awesome choreo. Then we moved on to the official video. I don’t usually show my children music videos (even the PG ones) because they are too rich with sexual images or naughty dance moves. But I relented and pulled “Work from Home” up on youtube. What a mistake. But it was a hilarious mistake so I’m not too regretful. Jackson usually misinterprets most pop song lyrics. Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” is about a dad telling his son to engage in the kind of self-love that propels one to live out one’s dreams, for example. I don’t correct him. Before seeing the video, “Work from Home” was basically “Whistle While You Work” in Jackson’s kindergarten mind.  He explained the lyrics to his 2yo sister one day, “It’s about working hard. And working hard is a good thing.”

But with the new information the music video provides, Jackson can no longer stand the dissonance between his original interpretation and the visual representation of the song’s lyrics. “These girls don’t want to work!,” he exclaimed in partial disgust. “They just want to dance.”

He went on, “The guys want to work but the girls want them to hang out and dance. They are trying to distract the guys!” I agreed hoping he’d stop there. Thankfully he didn’t pick up on any of the immaturely illustrated sexual innuendoes that any video with five hot girls in construction outfits was bound to present.

Today, Jackson was clearly still mulling over the video. On our way home from school, he blurted randomly, “And they are building a house! How is anyone supposed to work from home if they need to be on a construction site?!”

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Adrienne Rich dies at 82

Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

I’m profoundly sad about Adrienne Rich’s death. I’m also profoundly grateful for her life and work. Don’t expect anything insightful from me. Nothing I can say will pay adequate homage. Just bookmarking this event on my blog for posterity, I guess.

I enjoy everything about her poetry, her politics, and the intersection of the two.  I enjoyed learning about her in Gale Swiontkowski’s Six American Poets class at Fordham. (The other poets were Plath, Sexton, Hughes, Heaney, and Lowell. Sharon Olds served as a bonus seventh.)

I enjoyed reading her poems. Here’s a bit from “Diving Into the Wreck:” 

I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

I leaf through my anthology from time to time, stopping and reflecting on the ones from Diving into the Wreck (still the best name for any book of poems…ever) and musing over the short section of juvenilia at the back.

And I enjoyed teaching her poems. “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” was always a class favorite–at once accessible and deep. “Rape” was less popular because of the subject matter but the students always felt like they were discussing something important instead of just feeding me back answers. Discussion so rarely becomes real dialogue in any classroom and I have Adrienne Rich to thank for some of the best lessons on poetry I ever taught.

But I can’t for the life of me remember my favorite poem. It was a tiny jewel, seldom taught which is why the interwebz have been no help. It was economic in it’s language yet emotive. Maybe that’s part of my sadness today. It’s been a long time since my days were filled with reading and discussing good poems. I need to pick up that anthology again.

Here’s Rich reading “Diving Into the Wreck.”

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When your kids are quiet…

The way to get into the good parties is to have big boobs.

The way to get into the good parties is to have big boobs.

They are probably doing something wrong. I’ve walked in on shampoo painted on the bathroom walls, evidence of cave baby in her natural habitat. I’ve walked in on my son stuffing a scarf in my daughter’s shirt and proclaiming she now has boobs. “Now she can go to parties,” he smiled brightly. Let’s not even touch on how at 4, Jackson understood the intersection between breasts and access to cool parties.

The point is that when you’re kids are quiet, they are most likely doing something messy or questionable or criminal. And that’s why this morning when I dozed off and woke twenty minutes later to absolute blissful quiet, my first thought was Jackson and Darcy are making a huge mess, my pets are in jeopardy, or both kids have left the house in search of Box-Car Chidren adventures.

Thankfully two seconds later my son came bouncing down the hallway looking for his iPhone.  (Disclosure: Jackson has C.K.’s old iPhone with all his apps on it. I assure you, they are all educational apps. wink.)

Here’s the conversation with my six-year-old that ensued…

JACKSON: Mommy, where’s my phone?

ME: It’s on the dresser. I think.

He starts to leave.

ME: Wait! Wait! Where is your sister?

Jackson taps into his inner male model.

Jackson taps into his inner male model.

JACKSON: She’s in the livingroom. I put a video on her iPad. She’s watching Barney Counting 1,2,3s.

I’m taken aback. Not only did he make sure his little sister was set up with something to do, he even knows the details about what’s she’s actually doing. And this is spacey Jackson we’re talking about. When did he get straight up nanny skillz?

ME: You’re hired.

My head plops back on the pillow and I stretch. I’m going to get out of bed, I swear.

JACKSON: Oh, and I fed her breakfast. We split a package of M&Ms. But only half each. Too much sugar.

And there it is.

NB: When I say “this morning” above, I’m referring to Friday March 11. C.K. was in Austin at SXSW and I was flying solo. Just sayin’.

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A big break

Inmates choose books to record for their children with the help of WSP.

Inmates choose books to record for their children with the help of WSP.

My piece about Women’s Storybook Project was published on Motherlode, the New York Times parenting blog, a few weeks ago. I’ve been pitching to editor K.J. Dell’Antonio for a few years now. I think my first pitch was about conducting a successful kickstarter project to publish my novel while I had a toddler at home. K.J. has always been gracious enough to read my work and even when it was a “no,” her feedback was polite and prompt. For that, I’m grateful. Recently I got the “yes” I’d been striving for. I did a prison visit for Women’s Storybook Project, a program that connects mothers in prison with their children through recordings that the mothers make of themselves reading book.

Read my article and the companion piece

written by a former inmate who benefitted from WSP’s amazing work.

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Saying Goodbye to Funny Girl

DSCN1236This will be a long post.

This will be a sad post.

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, about the experience of eulogizing a beloved family member. And first and foremost, I’d like to thank my Uncle Kenny for not only allowing me to speak at my aunt’s funeral service but also for giving the okay for this blog post.

My dad called at 7:15 on Friday morning November 21, 2014. It’s not completely unusual for my parents to call early–they know that with two young children that I’m up and caffeinated. But the way he said my name when I answered told me something terrible had happened. I can’t remember the exact phrase he used but it was a wild understatement. Something like “we had a little problem last night.” And his tone of voice and failure to find the right words for that first sentence told me that “little problem” probably meant something unfathomably tragic.

I wished I was wrong. I still do.

My dad barely got through telling me that Arzie was gone and the little information about her passing. My mother, Arzie’s best friend for over 50 years, couldn’t even speak. I spent the rest of the day in a quiet panic. As I waited for information, I went to a meeting at Jackson’s future elementary school (albeit in a daze and absurdly disliking everyone there) and then I put up our Christmas tree. All the while, I was writing her eulogy in my head–before I even realized I would ask for the honor of speaking at Arzie’s services.

IMG_0237I wrote the first draft that night. Don’t even ask where I got the energy. I finished the second draft on Saturday afternoon…at my hair appointment. Ridiculous, I know.  I think of Arzie now, probably shaking her fists at how I wrote a remembrance of her on the Google docs app on my iPhone then texted it out to her family all while getting my roots dyed.  By Sunday, I was on a plane to NY. And my husband and babies were all packed up for their trek from Austin to Jackson, MS for Thanksgiving. And by Sunday, my mother and my uncle Kenny had read the initial text of the eulogy and thankfully, my uncle said I could speak.

The time from Sunday evening to the Tuesday morning service passed in a slow, surreal way. It’s the mixture of shock and sadness and busyness of funeral preparations. I snuck in little moments to reread the eulogy on my phone, change a phrase here or there. I made my sister, my mother, and my father listen to the speech. I thought the more I practiced, the less I would cry the day of. The last thing I wanted to do was blubber through the whole thing on the altar.

My husband called Monday night from Jackson. Darcy had croup and would have to go to the emergency room. I can remember texting with him late that night and then taking out my iPad to read the eulogy again. And the whole time, it just felt like we were in Connecticut visiting the Milio family and Arzie was working or away on one of her Choral Society cruises. She wasn’t there. But the permanence of her death hadn’t hit yet, for me at least.

I sat through the beautiful services feeling much the same way. I was clutching my iPad and every time I looked over at my mother weeping, my sister would gently remind me, “Don’t look at Mom right now.” As the time drew nearer, I prayed that God give me the strength to address the hundreds of people who filled the sanctuary. I prayed for the grace only God can bestow. I wanted to offer some solace to the people who Arzie left behind and memorialize someone who deserved a much better eulogy, a much better speaker.  If you knew Arzie, you’d understand that my last statement is not just fishing for reassurance. Arzie was truly the best of us.

I firmly believe that it was through God’s intercession that I didn’t sob until the very end of the eulogy. And even then, I found the strength to speak the last few sentences through tears and shakes.  There were even a few laughs–Arzie was a funny person; she wouldn’t have wanted all bleakness at her memorial.

 During the recessional and throughout the repast, people would come up and introduce themselves and hug me. Most of them I’d never met before. However, every time someone hugged me I cried and had to really pull myself together. Now that the eulogy was over, I guess I could let go. Surreality became the crushing reality of Arzie’s loss.

One of Arzie’s good friends even told me that until I spoke, the service was beautiful but so tense. “I think it was perfect. We all started to heal,” she said through tears that were almost a little hopeful. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am for her words. Every compliment or thank you I got was both uplifting and intensely humbling at the same time. Being a part of the formal goodbye to such an incredible human will forever be something I cherish. Giving that eulogy will forever be a formative event in my adult life.

I put the actual text of my eulogy below. Some of Arzie’s friends asked for a copy of it and I thought that since I’ve been talking about giving the eulogy, you might want to read what I said.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Arzie’s “niece” Kristin. I use the air quotes because I’m not her blood relation. She’s my mother’s best friend. I’m Marian & Curt’s daughter. I asked Uncle Kenny if I could speak today and I’m so grateful that he’s allowed me to speak about Arzie–a woman who was very much my aunt.

Arzie. That nickname says it all. She was the perfect hostess. But not in a Martha Stewart kind of way–although I think she’d claim to have better cookie recipes. What made her the perfect hostess, the embodiment of Irish hospitality in fact–was how fun she was.

That’s what I’ll miss. That’s why I was so excited to be around her. It was the fun–carefree fun. She was fun in the truest, most infectious way. I started thinking about why Arzie was such an irresistible presence. She could make you laugh. And not giggle. Belly laugh. Pee your pants laugh. The type of laughter where you tell someone to stop because your ribs are hurting, because you can’t catch your breath. You knew whatever story she was telling was embellished, but you forgave the fabrication. Because it was probably the best laugh you’d had in a long time.

She was a relentless buster and fiercely competitive.  Arzie threatened to bring a kazoo to my wedding for a solid year. Said she would get a golden kazoo and hide it under the toilet at the wedding venue like Michael Corleone in the Godfather.

Then when I taught her how to make cosmos (that’s right I taught her and my mom the recipe although both deny it), Arz changed the recipe slightly and claimed that she made the world’s best cosmos. I remember one time at my moms when she asked me to remind her how to make her cosmos. “How do I make my cosmos?”

“How many cosmos have you had so far?”

“Shut up, Krissy. And don’t tell Kenny.”

Of course You forgave her incessant teasing because it was never bitter or malicious and because in the blink of an eye, the teasing would be self-deprecation. She would constantly joke about her weight—”Well, Krissy you’re not as skinny as me so you can’t really wear those jeans”. In these ways, her humor was quintessentially Irish—borne out of nostalgia, and good drink, and good old-fashioned self-criticism.

That good humor extended to her hospitality. And it extended to how much she loved her family and friends and how far she would go for them. I’m sure you all have a story about Arzie doing some favor or going out of her way for you. I have countless stories like that. Many of them have high calorie treats involved. One of my favorites is when she drove down from CT to Long island to help with my mom’s 50th surprise party. She was going to make her famous seven layer taco dip (again, the best dip according to her). But instead she came in like a hurricane–actually she called ahead to make sure that my dad had a Coors Light on ice for her.  So she comes in and immediately sends my dad to the store for cherry tomatoes. Apparently the tomatoes had all tumbled out her car’s back window on the way from CT to Long Island. “Well, I could retrace my steps and rescue each one. But then I’d be back in Connecticut, Curtie,” she laughed. The way she relayed the story about the fate of these cherry tomatoes was enough to make me and Dad (who were in the throes of party stress) stop and laugh and appreciate her friendship.

She loved her friends. Arz and my mom were friends since elementary school–apparently the friendship was started because Arz’s first choice playmate was sick that day. So my mom filled in. But Arzie was the type of person who made you feel so special, that even if you were second fiddle, it was enough to be in the band. And she loved her husband, my Uncle Kenny. And she loved all her boys–three sons with her same light, her same infectious humor. They are three of my favorite people. Arzie loved Bryan’s wife Maryellen, more daughter than daugther-in-law. And I think that family for Arzie was forever changed for the better with the arrival of little Caroline in the world–her little Care Bear.  In Caroline’s story of survival and perseverance we can see Arzie’s light there too.

03_3A 3I know it’s cliché but she could light up a room. And she could make you feel like you were the only person in the world who mattered. Not everyone has this special gift. Not everyone I know is as fun to be around as Arzie. And I’ll think of her fondly every time I fix myself a Cosmo.

My husband lost his father this summer and so my four-year-old Jackson has become prematurely well acquainted with loss. We explained to him that we are all God’s creation, on this earth for a certain amount of time, taking up a certain amount of space, and then we go back to God, our Eternal Father. We are His and His alone. I truly believe that and want my son to believe it. “Why are you so sad, mommy?,” he asked guilelessly. Because we are human and to be human is to be selfish. I will miss Arzie. Everyone who knew Arzie will miss her. If you knew Arzie for even a week, you would miss her. She was indeed a special gift from God, a light from heaven returned home. And if there is any solace in this tragic loss, it’s that a mother is reunited with a beautiful angel that God called away too soon.

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

20_11And now…

Now I miss her more each day. I think this is the opposite of what people feel when they grieve. I don’t know. At least I’ve heard/read that for the first days, weeks, months, every object reminds you of the deceased. And then that sinking feeling subsides slowly over the first year. That was not my experience. I felt a level of acceptance of this tragic loss in the beginning but not so much now. Perhaps the eulogy delayed the stages of grief. Perhaps it’s that my Uncle Kenny is visiting Austin in a few weeks with my parents and I want Arzie to come too. I want to see her sitting my couch with a pillow on her lap, playing Words with Friends on her iPad, calling me “Krissy” and making fun of the uber-Modern chair we just got from Restoration Hardware. (Her house was an impeccably decorated country-style colonial. Decor was always something we agreed to disagree on.)

But I guess I’ll keep praying about it. I’ll lay  it at God’s feet. I know he’s listening…that is when Arzie doesn’t have His ear as she redecorates Heaven. After all, God needed a best friend too.

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Revamping my website

Welcome to my new and improved website! Special thanks to my husband who did something technical to make everything load faster and make my dashboard faster while I write. Faster dashboard = Less frustrated Kristin. And Less frustrated Kristin = More posts for you. I know how you wait impatiently for my nuggets of wisdom. Oh, and C.K. put that snazzy twitter feed in the sidebar. That way, you get more Kristin Sample with your Kristin Sample!

80's and early 90s-30What’s new? 

  • a streamlined, modern, and easy-to-read look
  • faster load times
  • my tweets in the sidebar and a place where you can tweet at me or follow me
  • header pictures that change with each click
  • simpler navigation in the menu bar

What should I definitely check out? 

  • Click around to see all the awkward pictures of me as a kid in the header bar.
  • Under “About Me,” click on “Meet My Family” to read about our crazy crew.
  • Under “My Writing” click on “In Development” for a teaser from Stagecraft.

Photo credit: Either Dad or Mom. That’s me on one of my tween birthdays. And yes, I’m rocking an old fashioned cowgirl shirt. I had just appeared as a flower girl in a theme wedding where apparently the bridal party was supposed to look like the cast of Deadwood.

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Christmas Songs

New Kids Christmas AlbumNot that you asked…

Here’s my TOP TEN favorite Christmas songs (in no particular order):

1. “Joy to the World” as recorded by Mariah Carey

2. “O Come All Ye Faithful” as recorded by Celine Dion

3. “This One’s For the Children by New Kids on the Block (awesomely bad but still a favorite)

4. “Up on the Housetop as recorded by Jackson 5

5. “What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder

6. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Whitney Houston

7. “Sugar Rum Cherry” by Duke Ellington

8. “Frosty the Snowman” by Harry Connick, Jr.

9. “Trepak” from The Nutcracker

10. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” by Bruce Springsteen

And, just for good measure, here’s my TOP TEN least favorite Christmas songs:

1. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by whoever sings that song (It was cute in Elf. Other than that, it’s just creepy.)

2. “Santa Baby” by Madonna (There is nothing “Christmas-y” about Madonna. Never will be.)

3. “Give a Little Bit” by the Goo Goo Dolls (The Gap commercial killed it.)

4. “Here We Come A-Caroling” by anyone

5. “Happy X-Mas (War is Over)” by John Lennon (I know lots of people like this song. They are blinded by mindless Beatles worship. Get over it.)

6. “Jingle Bells” (This song is almost as annoying as “99 Bottles of Beer.”)

7. “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Good song. Played out.)

8. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” by anyone but The Boss

10. “Feed the World” by Band Aid

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Eclectus Parrot Harness

We bought Sonja, one of our eclectus parrots, a harness/diaper with an attachable leash. She really likes to walk around on the floor (I personally think she’s jealous of the pug) and sit at the door to the apartment. She even makes a mock-barking sound as she peers out of the screen door.

Sonja also enjoys playing with the pug’s toys. The pug doesn’t dare try to take it away from her. Sonja is clearly the alpha-female.

The little harness wraps around her wings and has a little pouch to catch her poops. She has yet to poop in it and spends most of her time trying to get it off. *fingers crossed* Hopefully, she’ll get used to it.

(If you are interested in learning about these birds, this site is very informative.)

I’ve got some pictures…

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