Wednesday, July 06, 2016

gifts given and giving up

my dad and his wife are in town tonight.

with them came two boxes of china. 

"china? CHINA?!? of all the things from the house in kansas city.......what in the monkey am i going to do with china?!?!" i exclaimed.

i'm terribly klutzy, never entertain, and have even less than zero desire to ever have a reason to own a china cabinet. i dine almost exclusively off my heavy duty (yet i still managed to chip a couple) blue swirl dishes from crate & barrel. 

in short, these dishes would be more useful (and probably have a better survival rate) if i used them for skeet shooting. 

but wait- there's more!

"your grandmother said this was to be given to you on your wedding day.....," she said, handing me a small, weighty box that turned out to be full of silverware that's, uh, more suited to a southern debutante (or a grandmother) than myself.

"....but since i still haven't gotten hitched yet and am on the verge of being sn old maid, i'm officially being given up on? greeeeeeaaaaat."

there was a slight amount of protest on her part, but it was negligable.

so, i suppose when i'm back in kansas city for our upcoming reunion of a significant timespan, i should check and make sure the family heirloom dress hasn't been donated to the lingle (wyoming) museum yet, as well as sort through some of my worldly possessions to cut down on what might be brought back to me after their next little road trip. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

in which i get political

i have been trying very hard to stay out of the political discussions, as both matters of politics and religion seem to divide more than they unite.
however, it's getting harder and harder to avoid the bickering, put-downs, and general negativity. (i thought campaigns were supposed to be about you're for- not just that you're against the other guy. clearly, this is not the way the system works anymore, or at least that's how it appears to this non-expert. my sister, however, with the poli-sci degrees, certainly would know more about this than i do.)
i swear, if i hear one more time that everyone needs to band together and vote for ("undesirable" candidate x) because ("undesirable" candidate y) is evil incarnate/belongs in dante's sixth ring of hell/has actually found a wrong way to eat a reese's, i'm going to have to actually start playing powerball in the hopes that i can win enough money to temporarily hole up somewhere in the caribbean until this election is over.
the thing that annoys me the most is that 90% of what's going around (much like an undesirable virus) is hearsay- some sort of meme or selectively copied and pasted accusations that speak not about the pros of one candidate, but the cons of the other.
so, please allow me a moment to share something that may help you turn down the noise a little and get back in touch with the reason* we even bother with elections in the first place- to try to elect a leader that represents a majority of our views and ideals:

*imho- again, i'm not the expert in the family.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

plastic fantastic

let me preface this post with two admissions:

admission the first: i'm generally not a fan of plastic surgery, with three exceptions:
     1. it's for reconstructive purposes.
     2. it's to correct some sort of birth defect*.
     3. it's for dolly parton**.

admission the second: i am all for social programs like welfare, provided they're used as "a hand up", not "a handout".

 with that in mind, i feel i should get a couple of bonus points tonight for restraining myself when it came to a caller who called into a practice to inquire about having a little work done. i told her i was afraid i was unable to tell her the specific options offered by the practice (they only use us for emergencies), but i was sure they could answer her (tummy tuck) questions if she called back after they opened monday.

"one more question..."
"do they take medicaid?"

 i reiterated that the office would have the best answer to her question, but inside, i was all like >:(

*it occurs to me that "birth defect" sounds really harsh. i'm not generally very politically correct, but how would you like to be told you were born "defective"? :/
**phyllis diller also fell under this clause. i feel both ladies should be able to do whatever they damn well please. (this does not, however, apply to dolly's duet partner, kenny rogers. i was working at the country station when he had "a little work done" and, frankly, his plasticized visage still haunts my dreams on occasion though, thankfully, not as frequently as those nightmares i get where i've gone back to school and have to sit in a math class.)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

in which i get attacked by the tsa, and then get rich

i'm still not sure what to make of my recent luck.

i suppose the best way to put it is "well, it could have been worse."

i'll spare you the mundane parts of yesterday, which pretty much covers up until i arrived at aiken state park around 1:30 in the afternoon.

i'd chosen aiken partially because they were having a festival (the blackwater festival- presumably named because the edisto river, which is a blackwater river that runs across south carolina, runs through the park), and partially because here in south carolina we have something called the "ultimate outsider" program, which encourages you to visit all 47 state parks by bribing you with a free shirt*. i'm trying to finish my third lap through the parks by early to mid-august. aiken state park is #20 this time around.

so, anyway, upon my arrival, i decided the festival looked sort of interesting, but hiking would probably be more my speed. i set out on the "jungle trail"**.

i realized about a quarter mile into my hike that the nasty storms that came through columbia on friday, rearranging trees and messing up traffic along the way, had also torn through the park. 

the revelation was sparked by a spot in the trail where i seriously thought i'd missed a turn. a song had gotten stuck in my head***, and i'd wound up on some tangent and look! a squirrel! and wait a minute- why am i at a dead end?***

after backtracking slightly, then peeking around the wall of foliage confronting me, i determined that this "dead end" was a recent development. the blockage was too big for me to remove on my own (i don't hike with a chainsaw....or even a saw blade on my swiss army knife, for that matter), but with a gap big enough for me to squish through.

in the interest of not rivaling "the epic of gilgamesh" with this tale, let's fast forward past a few more downed trees, as well as my stop at one of the park's artesian wells- the latter of which i could honestly geek out over for a few paragraphs, because only two of our state parks still have the wells, which were installed by the civilian conservation corps back in the 1930s/40s- and get up to the part where i'd scrambled over a large downed tree on the park's longest boardwalk and wound up contemplating another that had fallen across the next boardwalk, but was resting about waist high, with an 18"-24" gap underneath. it was covered in old vines, and i'm a klutz, so it just seemed to make the most sense to shove my backpack through the gap, and follow it on my stomach.

i have a travel habit, and my backpack and i have been checked out before by the tsa. however, this was a more thorough evaluation by the tsa in aiken state park.

"tsa", in this case, does not refer to the folks eyeballing your luggage at the airport.

in this case, it's short for "tiny, stinging assholes".

i was asked several times today, starting with ranger robert (one of my faves), to whom i reported the conditions of the trail, "what stung you?"

honestly, aside from the fact they sure as sh!t weren't honeybees (or anything yellow, for that matter), i have no idea. they were dark, and they were fiesty, and they were clearly unhappy that i'd disturbed them. naturally, they expressed their displeasure not in words, but in deeds......namely attacking me with their pointy little butts.****

i'm still not completely certain how many times i was stung. my estimates when asked while driving back were around 20, but when i took a shower after (finally) getting home, i only saw about 9 little punctures. at any rate, my right ankle and left upper arm swelled up the most and, given this reaction, i really would have preferred that the two tsa "agents" that somehow got stuck under my shirt would have aimed for, say, a couple of things that, when swollen, would finally land me in a "c" cup, rather than my stomach which, frankly, i'd rather not have any more swollen than necessary.*****

most of those happened during and immediately following my passing under the log. the last two, however, were provided during the encore, which occurred not after beating on chairs, stomping feet, and yelling "one more song!", but after i foolishly thought i could retrieve my backpack (from its resting place still partially under the log) with a stick while the tsa agents were still hovering above it. 

after my second impromptu interpretive dance******, i briefly contemplated finishing my hike, and then batting the baby blues at a ranger in the hopes they'd take pity on me and retrieve my backpack for me, but then decided that maybe i could try to wait until the party over my backpack broke up and the swarm headed back home and then grab it and make a quick, quiet getaway.

five minutes later, i was finally able to continue down the trail.

(i should probably insert here that i later thanked my dad for his genes, because apparently whatever it is in mama's makeup that makes her deathly allergic to bug stings (she owns more than one epi-pen) has not developed in mine yet.)

a couple minutes after that, i was confronted by the most impressive blockage yet. multiple trees were involved, and i'm pretty sure it was roughly the same patch of boardwalk that was damaged during an ice storm a couple of years ago.

surmounting it did not appear to be the wisest idea, as i was likely to catch an ankle on one of the many branches and there wasn't likely to be anyone around to hear me scream.

turning around was most definitely not an option. in fact, it was so not an option that if matthew mcconaughey told me he would make sweet love to me if (and only if) i passed back under that log with him, i would pass- even if he looked exactly like his character in "magic mike".

i would try to talk him into a compromise, but if he held fast to his conditions, i would pass.

there's a book i used to read to my preschool class called muncha, muncha, muncha. it's the tale of a farmer who tried to defend his succulent veggies from a group of rabbits. i don't have it in front of me, but there's a part where the rabbits are trying to figure out how to get past yet another of his barriers. i can't remember exactly how it goes (again, i'm not at 100% here, after my nap was shortened), but it was something to the effect of "can't go under it. can't go over it. we'll go around it."

as i said, i'm not exactly certain that's exactly how it went, but it's how i went. i normally try to stick to the trail, but i wound up doing a bit of bushwhacking to get around this obstacle. 

the rest of the hike was pretty uneventful, aside from finally seeing a human on the trail who must be a plumber at least part time, because his crack was fully displayed while he was bent over some iffy looking mushrooms. (i'm not sure whether he was after the shrooms or some worms. i was too busy trying to avoid the glare of the sun reflecting off of his pasty derriere to look inside his bucket.)

so, let's fast forward again, past my reporting my incident to the rangers (after offering to help them clear the trail when they were ready) and my stopping at a produce stand at exit 44 (off i-20, if you're in the neighborhood), where i spent more than i'd planned ($22), but then found a $20 on the ground next to my car which either means that

a. someone else dropped the bill and i found it, the latter of which i consider a win, or
b. the bill fell out of my belongings somehow and i found it which means..... hey- i didn't lose $20. (this is also a win.)

...and stop again at the part where, found $20 tucked in wallet, purchases (peach vinaigrette, run apple butter, and a couple of jars of pickled veggies in a combination i haven't run across before) riding shotgun, i am back on i-20, top down, wind in my hair, butch walker cd playing on the stereo, and my "check engine" light, last seen only a week ago, comes on.


the last time this happened (i remember it as if it were a week ago, probably because it was only a week ago), it turned out that i was completely out of oil. fortunately, i had a couple of spare quarts in my trunk, so a temporary fix would not be a problem.

unfortunately (forrtunately?), my oil was fine.

you know that word that passed my lips at high volume while doing my impromptu interpretive dance in the woods? the one the new folks don't need to know i know? i cannot honestly tell you that it did not escape my lips as i slid the oil dipstick back into position after checking my oil (twice!).

fortunately, i was able to limp back home, despite the little light of certain doom being on and despite my chariot shaking not unlike a coin-operated bed in a motel that offers hourly rates. i am also fortunate that i got some excellent advice on how to get my error code checked without shelling out a ridiculous amount for it, and that the code correlates to something that, while it needs to be handled soon, wasn't so serious that i wouldn't be able to get to a (borrowed) backup vehicle.

oh- and i almost forgot...just when i thought my day had been exciting enough, as i was walking in from the car to my humble abode, the plastic packaging in which my produce stand purchases had been placed******* decided it was done for the day and an item dove out through the gap, crashing on the ground. thankfully, it was the one thing i'd purchased as a pair. (it smells like i'm really going to enjoy the contents of the surviving jar, too.)

so, really, since i didn't accidentally step on any snakes while bushwhacking in the woods or lose an important piece of my chariot on the highway and have to spend a couple of hours as a damsel in distress, waiting for aaa, and i found a bill bigger than $5 for the first time in 20+ years, i'd say that i had a pretty good day. 

*it's better to think of the shirt as being a freebie than to actually sit down and add up how many tanks of gas you bought in order to drive to all 47 parks to earn the shirt.

**sadly, devoid of monkeys; fortunately, also devoid of tigers and giant pythons

***it happens.

****unless it's the other end that's pointy. to be honest, i wasn't going to stick around to check, and i'm too sleep deprived/lazy to google it now.

*****let me go ahead and apologize to my english teachers for that multi-comma run on. then again, i write the way i talk, and that came out fewer breaths than one might expect.

******accompanied by a scream that came out as a combination of "AIEEEEEE" and a word that i shan't reprint here because, really, some of you may be new and i'd hate to break it to you this early that i know such salty language

*******tongue twister!

Thursday, June 02, 2016

my last meal won't be rice cakes and tofu

i fielded a call this morning from a lady who needed to cancel an appointment, due to the death of her third close relative (by marriage) this year.
though none of the three were expected, she said the dearly departed this time around was "the healthiest member of the family". he watched what he ate, avoiding "bad" foods, exercised, took vitamins- the whole shebang.
"well, ma'am, i guess it just goes to show that depriving yourself of chocolate and doritos isn't necessarily going to make you live any longer."
she heartily agreed, and i finished taking down her info, told her again that i was sorry for her loss, and wished her safe travels and a good day.
i'm still in pursuit of a photoworthy bikini body, but i won't be giving up my favorite "bad" foods to do it.*
;) moderation: one of the best forms of compromise ;)
*i've still been able to have tacos at least a couple of days a week (i swap out a few ingredients to increase protein and calcium/cut out a few calories), and it's a sad night when i forget to pack a little chocolate square.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

what's in a name?

i try to be extra careful getting my callers' names recorded correctly, because people botch mine all the time.
there was a caller this morning that went so far above and beyond that it was all i could do to refrain from asking her to give the phone to someone else.
"what's your name?"
"how do you spell that?"
"what was that?"
"dolphin, unicorn, flamingo, flamingo"
"i can tell you've done this before. your name is dolphin?"
"no. it's "d", as in "dolphin", "u", as in "unicorn", "f", as in "flamingo", "f", as in flamingo"."
"ooohhhhhhh. what's your first name?"
"that is it."
"what's your last name, then?"
(last name, said and then spelled thrice)
"was that "i, s"?"
"e, s. i'm the only "duff" here at the answering service."
"okay, and how did you spell your first name, again?"
i would have made reference to the old "who's on first?" bit, but i have a feeling this dear soul (bless her heart bless her heart bless her heart) would have needed me to explain that one to her a couple of times, too.

Sunday, May 15, 2016 which i talk a little dirty

one of my favorite things about obstacle course/mud runs, besides having an excuse to climb around on stuff and get dirty, is that several of the obstacles are the same from race to race, allowing you to gauge your improvement as time goes by.

i am thrilled to report that i've noticed during my last two races (the marine mud challenge at ft. gordon yesterday and the mud run two weeks ago a little closer to home) that my performance over the past year has improved greatly.

there were a couple of obstacles at the mud run two weeks ago that i couldn't do without help, but those were mostly due to, well, you may not have noticed this but i'm not tall. i come by it honestly. my parents are not tall. none of my grandparents were tall. in fact, it is highly unlikely that my family tree contains any long limbs.

still, it was an improvement over last year, when i needed a lot of hoisting.

during yesterday's mud run, i only needed a boost a handful of times- mostly due to the reason listed above, although the final wall was a matter of my shoes and the wall both being too slick for me to use a slightly bunged out board as a toehold.

again, this was a big improvement over last year.

i need to give credit where it is due:

*to my teammates and a volunteer or two along the course, for boosting me when my otherwise convenient size gave me a disadvantage and

*to the coaches over at crossfit bomb island who, over the last year, have helped me build up enough upper body strength (something for which i have never been known) that i can finally pull myself up onto walls, bars, and logs.

i swear, were i not such a klutz, parkour would be my next new hobby.

Monday, May 02, 2016

i didn't mean to turn you on

two of my jobs pay me to use my voice.

voices are powerful things. they convey messages, and not only are the words said important but, often, the way they're said- syntax, basic tones, inflection- are even moreso.

 that said, i feel i must issue an apology to anyone i may have given the wrong impression lately. that husky softness i may have been sporting over the lines last night (and will most likely have for at least another couple of days) was not an attempt to create a deep, sultry intimacy with you.

no- i wasn't testing out my late-night phone skills, in case i need to pick up a higher paying telephone gig. (it would never work, anyway, as i'm too likely to snicker and giggle or answer honestly when asked, "so- what are you wearing?"*)

nor have i been working on my eartha kitt impression in preparation for dressing up as catwoman this halloween.

the truth is, i seem to have picked up a raging cold. i'm coughing occasionally, my nose itches pretty much constantly**, and chances are good that i've either just sneezed, am trying not to sneeze midsentence, or will sneeze within the next five minutes.

so, yeah. sorry to burst the bubble, but that's the truth. please pass the kleenex.....and maybe a slice of that pizza.

*granted, "sweatpants and the free shirt from my last race" might be.....inspiring.... to some.

**that could be chalked up to someone thinking about me, though. if that person is you, please do me a favor and give me a little break. think about pizza instead. 🍕🍕🍕 doesn't hawaiian pizza sound great right about now? of course it does. you should have some for dinner tonight.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

in the event of my demise (planning 60-something years ahead, of course)

i was only half listening, but i think i just heard the host of the show i'm babysitting say he wanted folks to be sad and not make any jokes at his funeral.

now, i'm not planning on shuffling off this mortal coil until i've outlived my relatives (currently, the age to beat is 103), but let me go ahead and make it internet official:

when i croak, it is not to be a dour affair.

sure, i want to be missed. i'd be thrilled to be called "a breath of fresh air" and if someone says they're glad they knew me, that would be cool, too.

that said, my favorite songs should be played, photos should be shown (heavy on the ones where i look good in a bikini, with a few funny ones interspersed.....and please leave out any where i look like i might have an extra chin, constipation, or an ass that's two axe handles wide.), and stories should be told.*

my favorite movies should be shown- real genius, the princess bride, the labyrinth, drop dead fred, the crow, young guns II, beetlejuice, young frankenstein, monty python and the holy grail, metropolis (with the 80s rock soundtrack), pump up the volume, edward scissorhands..... oh- and you should finish with bill and ted's bogus journey, because i will totally whip the grim reaper at twister, if given half a chance.** (with that in mind, this may need to be more of a weekend film festival.)

my favorite food should be served. tacos, too.

oh- and karaoke. there should be karaoke. if there's crying, this is when it can take place- not because someone played "stairway to heaven" (which, by the way, would be totally against my wishes and considered grounds for haunting***), but because someone made the same mistake i once did and attempted "let's go crazy" or "shoop" and learned (the hard way) that singing such tunes in the shower or car is far different from trying to keep up with them in front of other people. crying while laughing is permissible.

t shirts should be made. make them cool enough that people will actually wear them again. instead of tour dates on the back, you can list significant dates or my most memorable quotes or the lyrics to my favorite song.

if all goes well, i should have around 60 years to figure out the rest but, just in case, these are the most important parts.

oh- if i'm in decent enough shape, and if i haven't already outlived all the people i don't like and may or may not have actually told to "kiss my pale, white butt", please flip me over in my casket for five minutes so they may do so at that time. (tell the mortician to make it easy for them and put me in a thong.****)

actually, this sounds like a pretty good time. if my death is not sudden, maybe we should have a practice run before the very end.

i'll get back to you regarding whether or not that butt-kissing part should be included.

*my sibling should be limited to no more than five embarrassing ones.
**yes- even if i'm 104. i plan on being limber till the day i die.
***also banned: nirvana, the cranberries, alanis morissette and any rush song except for the one with aimee mann. i can't stand whiny lead singers and, again, i will find a way to haunt offenders.
****if i've fallen out of shape and a thong would be too traumatizing for innocent bystanders, then something slightly more modest from victoria's secret or frederick's would be acceptable. under no circumstances, however, should i be put in "granny panties". i'm serious. i will haunt you for eternity and steal your socks from the dryer, one at a time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

all i want (is a couple of days off)

maybe it's due to the recent full moon, but some of my calls this past week have been downright strange. i am really looking forward to having the next couple of nights off from job #1 so i will no longer have to discuss anyone's bowels (was this "national colonoscopy week" and i missed it?)*, try to get across to a person who has me on speakerphone that if they took me off speakerphone while driving with the window down i might actually be able to hear them and not keep asking them to repeat everything, or bite my tongue when patients call in to demand z packs for their colds.

i will devote five minutes of my time off to pondering how my parents were able to successfully raise me without calling the doctor in the middle of the night to ask what to give me for my boogers and cough. (do they no longer make triaminic? the orange kind was actually pretty good.) i will also take a minute to contemplate how a grown, native english speaker did not know the word "affiliate". (this was roughly the amount of time it took me to explain the meaning to them.)

aside from those six minutes, i plan on doing absolutely nothing related to this particular job. it would take away from my other jobs (and, more importantly, the enjoyment of the company of others in a non work-related setting), and that would be just poopy.

*somewhat related: i do not ever, ever, ever, ever want to hear the phrase "go poopy" again. i do not want to hear it when i get around to having kids, and i most certainly do not want to hear it from a gentleman who is probably old enough to be my grandpa. never again.

Monday, January 18, 2016

pride (in the name of love)

in each of the three states i've lived the longest*, mlk day has been handled differently.

in maryland, where my classmates were 90+% black, we prepped for the schools' mlk day festivities for weeks. because of this, i can recite swaths of the "i have a dream" speech and sing along to several civil rights protest songs. ("we shall overcome" has already been stuck in my head for an hour, and shows no signs of abating.)

i remember that it was a huge deal one year at my elementary school when mlk III was scheduled to speak. (he wound up cancelling, and one of dr. king's friends came instead. i wish i could remember what on earth his name was....)

moving to missouri was a bit of a culture shock, as the makeup of the student body in my high school was pretty much the reverse of what i encountered before. i'm sure we had an assembly for mlk day, but i don't recall ever being asked to warble "if i had a hammer".**

that brings me to my current state- south carolina.

what to say about my home for the past 15+ years? ***

of all the states i've lived in, south carolina has probably the most diverse population that i've encountered thus far. most people seem to embrace this fact.

that said, there are still pockets of ignorance around here.

i'm sure some of it can be blamed on upbringing. after all, there were serious issues with desegregation here in the 1970s. (more than once, i've been told things like, "when the schools were integrated, my parents enrolled me in a private school" or, even more alarming to my "outsider" ears, i was once told that the person's parents helped build a new private school "so the white students would have a place to go".)

holy culture shock, batman.

i was amazed when i learned that we did not get the day off at the preschool i worked at for the first five years i lived here. i was even more surprised a couple of years ago, when several of the businesses we answer for at my full time job were closed because of "confederate memorial day". (i finally looked that one up last year- it's a holiday in some states that was apparently created as some sort of "compromise" in order to get mlk day officially recognized****.)

i am pleased to report that, based upon my observations, most people here seem to be colorblind, and i'm sure many will attend some sort of event in honor of dr. king. (the rally downtown is tempting, but if time permits, i'm more likely to swing by one of the 3 sc state parks built by one of the african american units of the civilian conservation corps.) even if you aren't the sort to go out and attend a service, rally, or parade*****, or maybe you don't have the day off or have other obligations, please at least take a moment or two to show a little kindness to your fellow man. i'm pretty sure it's how dr. king would like to be honored.

*the first two don't count. i was in diapers, not school.

**i could probably still get through a couple of verses, if need be.

***aside from, of course, "holy crap! i've been here 15 years?!?!"

****let's go ahead and file this with the other "southern things i don't understand", like the appeal of a food product that turns styrofoamlike when it gets cold, chitlins, and cotillions. *****come on- everybody loves a parade, don't they?