Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmastime is Here

Well, I have my Christmas cards sent out, about half of our presents wrapped, and I've been listening to Christmas music (on my own) for about a week now.  Christmas must be a-coming.  

The concept of Christmas itself is sort of conflicting for me.  As we know, I'm completely a-religious, so I don't go to church or get into the whole nativity thing.  In fact, our neighbors across the street have a fairly gaudy plastic nativity decoration out front that drives me crazy.  Not because of the churchiness, but because you could probably land a plane on our street when it's lit up.  Aye yi yi.

I don't have a problem with using the abbreviation X-mas.  I understand the "Keep Christ in Christmas" thing, but personally, I don't think the two are related.  Are people upset when others abbreviate TGIF because they don't actually write out "God"?  Somehow, I think not.  And that's all X-mas is.  It's an abbreviation, not blasphemy.

I think people should wish whatever the hell they want during the holiday season.  I don't care if they wish me a happy holiday, a merry Christmas or just a nice day; I just appreciate the sentiment.  If you're offended because someone mentioned a holiday that you don't celebrate, I can't imagine what else offends you...

That being said, I love Christmas.  Not as much as Halloween, but it's a close second in my book.  I love the smell of a pine tree in my house and I love buying presents for people I love.  The past few years, I've taken to making Christmas crafts, and though I tend to end up with more glue on me than I could've sworn I even had available, I enjoy it.  I love being with my family and eating all the cookies I can shove in my mouth before my stomach registers that it's too much.  Getting Christmas cards in the mail makes me downright giddy, and I look forward to my mom's Christmas Eve prime rib the other 364 days a year.  T'is a wonderful holiday, indeed.

My parents will tell you that I'm a tradition nazi.  Actually, most people who know me would tell you that.  I just happen to think traditions are a integral part of the holiday experience, though, I may take things a bit too far sometimes.  My mom once made little tenderloin medallions instead of prime rib for Christmas Eve and I sort of threw a fit (even though it was actually in my best interest, since I always had an issue with eating too much prime rib and getting horrendous tummy aches).  Another year, Mom decided that she wanted their tree upstairs in the window instead of downstairs where it has ALWAYS been, and I tried really, really hard to talk her out of it, even though it was something she had always wanted to try.  Thankfully, I've gotten past most of those issues, but I still have to have my mug of hot chocolate in order to open presents on Christmas Eve and I have to put certain ornaments on the tree myself or else things don't feel quite right.  

The one thing I'm missing right now is snow.  We've only had one snowfall that stuck, and it was only around for an afternoon.  No one dreams of a grey, rainy Christmas.  No one sings, "Let it sleet, let it sleet, let it sleet."  There's a reason for this.  It sucks.  In my opinion, snow is the only acceptable precipitation this time of year and, as my family's motto goes, it's Christmas, dammit!  

Anywhoozles, here's hoping that you all have a wonderful season, however you plan to enjoy it!  :) 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What's My Motivation?

Well, my lovely readers, my semester ended last Friday night and I ended up with A's in both classes.  Huzzah!!  I do love knowing that all my effort pays off sometimes.  It keeps me motivated to keep working toward my degree, and I can't wait for the day I can say that I'm a college graduate.

Work, however, is an entirely different story.  I feel no motivation whatsoever to get anything accomplished.  My salary is a joke.  My job is mundane at best and a nightmare at worst.  The only positive things I can say about my job are that a) I have one and b) I get to work from home in my pjs.  For the longest time, I thought the perks of working from home kinda evened things out, but these days, I'm less and less sure that's true.  

So how do I get motivated to do work that I'm completely uninspired to do?  I've tried tricking myself into it ("C'mon, Erika!  It's totally worth the paycheck you get!").  I've tried working hard in hopes that it'll pay off (it doesn't).  I've tried slacking, but then I just get bored and restless.  

The obvious answer would be to find a new job, but it's not that easy for me.  And please, spare me the "You're the only thing standing in your way," speech.  I'm already aware.  

Le sigh.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Letter You'll Never Read

Dear Friend,

It's been awhile, I know.  I'm pretty sure the last conversation we had was just in passing.  Probably something like

"Hey, how's it going?"
"Good, you?"
"Pretty good!"
"Good, good."

The last "real" conversation we had was probably over 10 years ago.  Maybe even closer to 15.  I guess that at a certain point, living next door to someone doesn't necessarily keep a friendship going.  At some point, life gets in the way, what with hobbies and school activities and dates and...  You know.  All that stuff.

I remember being kids together, though.  

I remember spending hours running through the sprinkler and eating Popsicles at the yellow and orange plastic picnic table in my back yard (the same one we used as a platform to climb the tree, before we were tall enough to climb it on our own).  

I remember digging in our parents' gardens, looking for worms.  We'd put them in a bucket and at the end of the day, we'd put them back in the gardens.  We never had a purpose.  We never needed one!

I remember when I got chicken pox in Kindergarten.  You and your sister were younger than I was, and your mom wouldn't let you into my yard to play with me since I was probably contagious.  So instead you both blew bubbles from your yard into my yard so I could run around and try to pop them.

I remember putting two chairs together on my parents' porch, seat to seat, so we could lay down together.  We were playing house and we were married, and even though it was completely innocent (because we were too young for it to be anything else), my parents made us put the chairs back and promise not to do it again.

I remember coming over to your house to play with your sister, and then winding up in the basement playing video games with you for hours.  We were always closer in age anyway, I just think we figured at that age that boys went to play with boys and girls went to play with girls.  

I remember the time you made up a song about your "thing" and pulled down your pants.  Yep.  Bet you wish I forgot about that one, huh?  

I remember hours of SPUD in the street, playing until the street light came on.  But not the electric hum.  "The light's not on yet!" we'd always argue.  It was only minutes until the light flickered to life, but those extra minutes were precious.

I remember losing my first tooth at your house.  I was showing your sister how loose it was and it just plopped into my hand.  I'm not even sure you were there for that.

I remember when I realized you had gotten really cute, and that's probably about when we stopped hanging out.  I just didn't know how to act anymore, and I knew (thought, anyway) we were getting too old for worm hunting and blowing bubbles at each other.

I remember seeing you at school sometimes.  You were always younger, so we never ran in the same circles, but we at least had the good mind to smile and nod in acknowledgment.

I remember seeing you walking past our house, heading to the park to shoot hoops (because you couldn't use ours anymore; the smiles and nods had mostly stopped).  You'd dribble past the house - sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend - and my parents would wave to you.  You were always so polite about it, greeting them in return.  That was nice.

I remember when your dad died.  A car accident.  I remember being away at college when my parents called to tell me.  I came home for the weekend so I could at least go to the visitation.  Dad and I were never great at handling grief, and we quietly cracked morbid jokes to one another to ease the pain.  We'd never see him as Uncle Sam at the annual 4th of July bike parade again.  He'd never stop by to watch the Packers again.  The concept was unreal.

I'll admit that I haven't given you a whole lot of thought since then.  I heard you went to college, and I'm sure you did great.  You were always popular, so I'm sure you had friends and girlfriends galore.  Our parents still live next door to each other, but we may as well have been on different planets.

I would see you occasionally, out mowing the lawn or heading to the park with a basketball, but as adults, our polite salutations were just something we did.  You could've been any other adult in the neighborhood.  So could I.

Hey.  It happens.

And then yesterday, the memories came flooding back as clearly as if it all happened yesterday.  Funny how that happens, right?  You don't realize what you remember until it just hits you.

Last night, I called my parents to ask if they had heard.  My dad said, "I know we've always told you that life's not fair, but this is pushing it."  My mom and I agreed.  We didn't have adequate words, but we knew it didn't feel fair.

We can't imagine what your brother and sister are going through, but most of all, we cannot fathom what kind of Hell your mom is experiencing.  She already lost her husband to a car accident.  Now, she had lost her son the same way.  Dad said, "If she didn't have two other children, I might have done her a favor and brought her a handgun, because I don't know how you get up the next day, and the day after..."

Your mom is a strong woman.  I won't lie; sometimes, I wasn't a big fan of her.  I'm sure you felt that way about my mom sometimes, too.  It's just the way things go.  But I do know she's strong, because she's been through Hell.  But I can't imagine the strength it will take to get through this.  I hope you help her, because she's going to need it.  Your siblings can only do so much.  Watch out for her, OK?

Well, I just wanted you to know that I'll miss you.  It doesn't matter that we barely spoke anymore, or that it has been years since we were really friends.  I'll miss you anyway.  You gave me some great childhood memories that I will cherish as long as I can.  I hope you recall them as fondly as I do.

Lots of other people will miss you, too, so I'll let them have their turn to tell you.  Take care up there.

With love,

P.S. Tell your dad I said hi.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's The Final Countdown!

Well, no, it's not.  But if you now have "Na na na-na, na na nanana, na na na-na, nana na na na na naaaaah..." running through your head, then my efforts are not fruitless.

With all the crappy circumstances right now, I figured I could use a reminder of some happier things.  So, let the countdowns commence!

~4 days... until I see K!!  YAY!!!  :-D
~9 days... until Thanksgiving (and a 4-day weekend)!  Mmmmm... pie...
~25 days... until Fall semester is over!!
~39 days... until Christmas Eve Day!  And ANOTHER 4-day weekend!!
~47 days... until 2012!

And possibly the coolest countdown...
~111 days until Disney World with my bestie!!  YAY!!!!

Huh.  Look at that.  I do feel better now. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sad Times at Penn State U

For any readers who don't know, I am a Nittany Lion.  I attend PSU's World Campus (online courses), and if you think that doesn't make me a real Penn Stater, you're sadly mistaken.  PSU does everything possible to include World Campus students.  They stream celebrations and parades online for our viewing.  We have our own virtual campus in Second Life.  They even host a special online homecoming for us!  We ARE Penn State.

So this scandal is, to say the least, heartbreaking.  It's heartbreaking to think that someone affiliated with PSU is capable of such monstrous acts.  It's heartbreaking to know that Admin didn't do their part and report the allegations to the police.  And it's heartbreaking that they let Joe Pa go after decades of being the true spirit of Penn State football.

I am not winning friends with my position on this.  In fact, I'll probably be down a few FB friends in the next day or so.  And that'll happen.  It's disappointing, but not surprising.  

Joe Paterno should not have been fired.  He already announced retirement at the end of this season (so, at most, about 2 more months?), but that wasn't enough for some people.  

Did it matter to them that he had followed PSU's policy AND state law (as noted here)  in reporting the allegations to administration?  Nope.  Can you imagine being in his shoes?  He's been told that a friend and colleague is doing something horrendous.  One of his first reactions was likely denial, but because of policy, he has to take the news to his superiors.  He was (and likely still is) hoping that it was a misunderstanding, so he did what he had to do, and went back to football.  You know, the reason they paid him to be there.  The thing he did for the majority of his life...  The thing that WAS his life.

The saddest part is that they couldn't even give him a satisfactory reason as to why he was fired.  According to this article from Yahoo! News, when Joe was told (over the phone, of course) that he was being let go, he asked for a reason.  The response?  "I'm not sure I can tell you specifically. In our view, we thought change now was necessary."  The man was affiliated with PSU for over 60 years, and all they can tell him is that they thought they needed a change?  Horseshit.  

Do I think what Sandusky did was OK?  No.  Absolutely not.  In no way whatsoever am I saying that.  What he did (or allegedly did, if you want to be specific here) is so far beyond terrible that I don't have an appropriate word for it.  He is the one we should be vilifying.  The administrators who brushed off the allegations should be condemned.  Painting Joe as a villain accomplishes exactly nothing. He clearly feels terrible about the whole thing and now, with the "benefit of hindsight," wishes he would have done more. How many of us have tried to do the "right" thing in our lives and then later (with this same benefit of hindsight) thought we should have handled it differently or better?  

My heart breaks for the victims of this scandal.  My heart breaks for Joe and all my fellow Nittany Lions.  Most of all, my heart breaks because this is even an issue to begin with.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Ahhh, it's here at last!  The wonderful day where you can dress up as whomever or whatever you want (although, hopefully within some bounds of reason), gorge yourself on candy (Pixy Stix are my addiction this year), and delight in a magical mixture of spooky and silly.  Yes, my darlings, this is Halloween!

As previously mentioned, our backwards little city held its "official" trick-or-treating yesterday afternoon.  It started out slow, just as it has in years past.  In the first hour we got about 3 groups of kids (so, MAYBE 8-10 children).  Hubby and I had decided to stop the show we were watching, in case things picked up.  They didn't.  In fact, it started to rain around 2 or 2:30.  Ugh.

So we decided to start carving our pumpkins, a tradition that I don't think I'll ever grow too old for (people might deny me candy if I tried trick-or-treating, but I'll be damned if a store is going to reject my money and deny me a pumpkin to carve).  About 10 minutes or so into carving, the doorbell rang.  Some kids were braving the rain to get their candy.  In fact, we seemed to get MORE trick-or-treaters in the rain!  That, my friends, is something I can respect, and to those kids, I tip my hat.

When we finished pumpkin-carving, we finished our show (American Horror Story pilot episode - perfect for Halloween).  Then it was time to choose one of my annual Halloween movies to watch.  We decided on "Young Frankenstein" (because Mel Brooks is always a good choice) and made a delicious chuck roast for dinner (which had been marinating since 8 PM the night before).  We watched a bit of 'Punkin Chunkin' to wrap things up before Hubby headed to the garage and I headed to my computer.

Today, I am sadly sans costume.  I was going to paint my face black and white, put on my panda ears and frown a lot (get it?  I was going to be a sad panda!), but it just seemed like a lot of effort when I don't plan on going anywhere.  Instead, I'm just calling myself either a stressed college student or a disgruntled employee, no costume required.

Alas, I will NOT let my lack of costume or the grey, cloudy day ruin my Halloween!  Tonight, we shall watch another of my Halloween movies (possibly 'Repo! The Genetic Opera') and toast some pumpkin seeds.  And in the meantime, there's plenty of awesome Halloween music waiting to be heard!  Need a few examples to get you started?

1) "Thriller" by Michael Jackson - Probably the most epic music video ever, "Thriller" is a perfect Halloween anthem.  Werewolves, zombies, and kick-ass choreography; what more could you need?  Of course, if you're looking for something a little different (or don't have time for the almost 14-minute long video), Glee's mash-up of "Thriller" and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs' "Heads Will Roll" is also a ton of fun. 
2) "Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley - If you didn't grow up listening to the radio around Halloween, then there's a tiny chance you aren't familiar with this song.  Fix that.  Now.
3) "Monster Mash" by Bobby Pickett - A staple of any good Halloween event.  I'm still not exactly sure how to do the monster mash, but I'm pretty sure any kind of movement will suffice as long as you're having fun. 
4) "Calling All the Monsters" by China McClain - If you have kids, or if you just love the Disney channel, then you're most likely torn between hating this song for being overplayed and loving it for being so damn catchy.
5) "This is Halloween" from 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' (written by Danny Elfman, my hero) - Boys and girls of every age should love this song AND this movie.  If you don't, no sweat.  I'll just judge silently from afar.

Now go get your ghostly groove on and have a happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Halloween Revolution

So, in looking at the website for the lovely city of Greenfield the other day, I discovered that our "scheduled" trick-or-treating is from 1-4 PM on Sunday, 10/30.

Hold up.

WHAT?!  That's insane!!
1) Early afternoon trick-or-treating?  Lame.  That's fine for trick-or-treating events at the local mall or the zoo, but not for the real deal! 
2) Trick-or-treating is the best part of Halloween.  So why the hell would you do it the day BEFORE Halloween?  That's like hunting for Easter eggs on Saturday afternoon.

Hubby says that it's been this way in the Milwaukee area his entire life.  Ew.  I can't even imagine growing up that way.  In Madison, we had no restrictions on trick-or-treating, and I sincerely hope it stays that way.

Here's how it went.  Younger kids usually starting coming through around 5 on Halloween night, looking cute and shyly asking, "Trick or treat?" (as if anyone's not going to give candy to the adorable little pirate or princess standing outside their door...).  As it got later (and darker), more kids would come out and form clumps moving from one house to the next.  The whole process usually lasted about 2-3 hours, depending on when you got started.  When you were done, you headed home to check out the night's haul, eat yourself sick on candy, and finally go to bed.

There were rules.  Some were imposed by parents: Must carry flashlights or glow sticks at all times, say thank you, stay in the neighborhood, don't leave each other behind and, for one sad year, don't eat any candy until it's been checked out by a parent (that whole needle scare had parents pretty freaked out).  Others were self-imposed, almost unspoken, but universally understood: Don't ring the bell if the porch light is off, take turns ringing the doorbell (even if that meant racing for the privilege), let little kids get their candy first (bigger kids will be able to get to more houses and will get more candy anyway), etc etc.  Of course, some houses would get TP'd, and there was the occasional egging, but for the most part, the rules we followed kept Halloween fun and safe.      

It works for Madison.  Why can't Milwaukee make it work, too?  It can't just be a size thing; my best friend in Las Vegas says they don't have scheduled trick-or-treating, and Vegas has Milwaukee beat several times over in the "Who's Bigger?" contest.  It can't just be crimes, because crime happens damn near everywhere.  Milwaukee just seems to have a stick up its ass.

That being said, I truly hope we get some rogue trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.  Kids need to experience the joy of trick-or-treating as it's intended, or else they'll never understand how truly awesome it actually is!  Someone needs to lead these kids on a Halloween revolution and reclaim October 31st as their own.  They need to take back All Hallow's Eve and tell Milwaukee to back off their holiday.

Who's with me?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Disney + Halloween = YAY!

In 131 days, hubby and I will be headed back to Disney World to vacay with my bestie and her hubby.  That's just over four months, and already the longing for Disney is strong.

On our honeymoon at WDW, some of the most fun we had was at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  Yes, I can see how some of you may think it sounds extremely lame, but as long as you like Disney and having fun, it's anything but.

If you want to learn more about it, check out my guest post on The Disney Hippy's blog!

Friday, October 21, 2011

This is Halloween...

OK, so the Brewers aren't in the World Series.  Sad, but, I'm still happy and proud of them for taking it as far as they did.  Too bad we'll likely never see Prince Fielder in a Brewers jersey again, but, it happens.

Anywhoozles, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Halloween is my favorite freakin' holiday.  I love Fall.  I love candy.  I love dressing up.  So what's not to love?

Last year on Facebook, I posted my favorite non-scary Halloween movies.  Here's the list:
The Nightmare Before Christmas (also good for Christmastime!)
Corpse Bride
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (I guess this depends on your definition of 'scary' ^_^)
Repo! The Genetic Opera  (OK, this one's a bit gory, but definitely not a horror movie or anything)
Hocus Pocus
It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
Edward Scissorhands
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (yes, the MOVIE...  Epic.)
So I Married An Axe Murderer
Young Frankenstein
Donnie Darko (again - depends on what you find scary)
Clue (Really, this movie works ANY time of year)
Casper (Yes, I know I'm 27.  I don't care.)
The Addams Family

I know there are TONS of others.  Really, any Tim Burton movie works this time of year (especially 'Frankenweenie').  There are movies like 'Coraline' (no, it wasn't a Tim Burton movie, look it up) and 'Ghostbusters' that you could totally watch, too.  Lists like this one include flicks like 'Practical Magic' and 'Idle Hands' as viable choices.  The Harry Potter movies certainly have a halloweeny feel to them, too.  And, of course, Disney has a plethora of made-for-television or straight-to-DVD Halloween movies to choose from (I won't lie, I've watched 'Halloweentown' a few times...).

Everyone has special things that make their favorite holidays special to them.  Mine is watching my favorite non-scary Halloween movies, and I plan to start this weekend.  
Are there any awesome (but not terrifying) Halloween movies I've missed that are on your must-watch list?  Let me know and I'll try to check them out! :)


Saturday, October 8, 2011


Before I forget to mention it, Hubby, two friends of ours and I went to Game 5 of the NLDS last night at Miller Park and got to be there when the Brewers won.  I don't think words can adequately describe the feeling of being there, but I had to mention it because it was probably the most epic win I've ever experienced in person.  My ears are ringing a little more than normal today, but it was beyond worth it.  

Next stop: NLCS.  Let's go Brewers!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Scary Stuff

And no, I'm not talking about Halloween kind of scary.

One of my best friends was in a car accident this week.  For the most part, she's OK, but she's understandably shaken up and is sore from the impact.  I wish it hadn't happened, but I'm certainly glad it wasn't worse.

The first time I really remember someone close to me being in a car accident was one of my aunts.  As I remember the story (it was a long time ago now), she was on her way to work and caught a red light at an intersection.  The light turned green and, naturally, she went.  So what happened, you ask?  An ambulance that was coming up to the newly red light at this same intersection got a call.  They hit their lights and continued through the intersection, t-boning my aunt.  Yep.  My aunt was hit by an ambulance.  Of course, then they had to send another ambulance to help, since that ambulance was clearly out of commission.  My aunt broke part of her spine and had to wear a halo for something like 6 months.  Thankfully she's doing fine these days, but needless to say, she was wary of that intersection for quite awhile.

Of course, I had friends get into fender-benders in high school, but nothing that really sticks out in my mind as especially bad.  The next big car accident I can recall was when one of my parents' neighbors fell asleep behind the wheel (at a stop sign, I think) and died.  I'd grown up with his kids, and he had been the Uncle Sam in our neighborhood's 4th of July parade for years.  I remember going to the wake with my parents, and I realized that Dad and I have a very defense mechanism in those types of situations.  We make jokes.  Not loud enough that others can hear, since we don't want to be disrespectful, but it's how we cope with things so that we don't fall apart.

I, fortunately, was not in an accident until about 3 years ago.  In fact, it would've been this coming weekend in 2008.  A few friends and I were headed to Six Flags for Fright Fest.  We were about to make the left turn to get to the park entrance, but the traffic was crazy.  The friend who was driving wasn't sure when she'd be able to go, and there wasn't a turn arrow to be found.  A moment of opportunity came up and she started to go, but hesitated.  One passenger was yelling, "Go!  Go!" and another was screaming, "Wait!  Stop!" and by the time the driver made a decision, it was too late.  The first car we thought was going to hit us managed to swerve out of the way.  The car behind that, though, hit us dead on in the rear passenger door, right where I was sitting.

If you've ever been in an accident, you've probably experienced a lot of the same things I/we did.  First, to this day I can't remember the actual impact.  I remember seeing the car coming, tensing up, and then I remember the feeling of the car being spun around me (since I was kind of at the pivot point), but not the actual point of impact.  When the car stopped, it took about a minute for me to realize that my glasses we no longer on my face.  In fact, they were behind me.  Next, the friend sitting right next to me (in the middle, cushioned between two of us) and I realized that our ponytails had come out.  Yep, the force caused our hair ties to come loose.  One of us called 911 while the driver called her insurance company.  None of us seemed particularly hurt, so we didn't request an ambulance.  One came through later, and my boyfriend (now my hubby), who had come to pick me up, told me he wanted me to get checked out, but it wasn't there for us anyway.  

We had to sit around at the gas station on the corner of the intersection for hours.  It turned out that I had kicked my left leg with my right leg and given myself a nice bruise.  There was also a scrape on my arm, and it might've been a bit swollen, but aside from that and a headache, all seemed well.  Since I took the brunt of the impact, everyone was even less damaged than I was.  I won't go into details, because it was a LONG afternoon, but we eventually decided to forget about Six Flags and just call it a day.  

The next morning when I woke up, my entire body hurt.  I have never in my life felt so stiff and achy.  I was walking like Frankenstein for the better part of the day, and it felt like someone rammed a pole straight up my spine.  Don't even get me started on my neck...  Aye yi yi.  I'm sure some people do fake whiplash, but when it's for real, that shit HURTS.

Looking back, I probably should've gotten checked over after the accident, just to make sure everything was OK.  Fortunately, I healed up after a few weeks and was back to normal.  Well, physically.  Even now, when I'm in the passenger side of a car and we make a left turn with oncoming traffic, I tense up and hold my breath.  I don't do it on purpose, really.  I think my body just doesn't want to feel that pain again, so it's become a knee-jerk reaction.      

For anyone interested, the driver of the car that hit us was really shaken up (she couldn't have been older than 16 or 17), but otherwise alright.  Both cars were pretty much totaled (I had to climb out the other passenger door to get out, since mine was partially caved in), but all the people involved were relatively unscathed.  

Since then, I've been in two "accidents." The first was when I was driving from Milwaukee to Madison at night in a snow storm.  I was going maybe 25 MPH on the interstate when my phone rang.  It was my mom, and I didn't want her to worry, so I answered.  "Where are you?"  "Crashing.  Can I call you back?"  I grazed a guard rail, which was not the best thing that could've happened, but certainly wasn't the worst. 

The other was a situation where Hubby was at a stop sign, about to turn, and got rear-ended by a minivan.  Fortunately, the only damage was a small part of the van (like part of the headlight, maybe) and no one was hurt.  Phew.

Moral of this post?  Buckle up, kids!  It can get bumpy out there...


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Epic Win(s).

Just a quick note to share how very excited and proud I am of all the great Wisconsin sports teams that played this weekend.  Two wins for the Brewers, a slaughter for the Badgers, and a 4-0 record for the Packers.  Wisconsin may never see such an epic sports weekend again, and I just had to make note of it.

Sconnie pride!!  <3

Monday, September 26, 2011

Puppet Up!

On Friday afternoon, Hubby asked me if I wanted to go downtown that evening.  He mentioned there was a show he wanted to take me to as an anniversary gift (belated, but still appreciated!).  I agreed and he asked if I wanted to know what it was or if I wanted it to be a surprise.  I decided to be surprised.

This decision nearly killed me.  I spent the whole afternoon thinking up possible shows he would take me to, but kept my curiosity in check enough not to go searching for the answer.  Hubby had said I should dress casually, no kids were allowed and that the doors opened at 6.  That was all I knew.

We parked downtown and walked past the Riverside theatre.  Hubby had thought we were headed there, but the show was at the Pabst, which is a few blocks away (confusing, but at least it was close).  He got our tickets from will call and asked if I wanted to see them.  So he handed them to me.  The show was listed as "Henson Alternative: Stuffed and Unstrung."  Oh dear.

"Do you know what it is?"
I looked at Hubby.  "Uh, I have a pretty rough idea.  I'm guessing... puppets.  But, adult-themed puppets?"

Confirmed.  Hubby said he had found out about this from his boss/owner of the company and that it was essentially "naughty" Muppets.  So we wandered in to have a drink in the lobby and eventually settled into our seats, which were right in the center, row E (and yes, that's approximately equal to row 5).  Beautiful view of the stage, and also of the ginormous monitors.  Prior to the show, the monitors showed information about the performers involved in the show.  Among them were Paul Rugg (the voice of Freakazoid, a childhood favorite of mine) and the woman who voiced Chairry on Pee Wee's Playhouse.  Needless to say, I was pretty psyched.

When the show started, I knew we were in for some fun.  A nice Muppet (and his pet fish) informed us that this was like seeing two shows in one.  On the monitors, we could watch the Muppets doing their thing.  On the stage, we could watch the puppeteers doing everything else.  Pretty cool actually.

It turned out to be part scripted and part improv.  The scripted parts included recreations of two original Jim Henson sketches from back in the day.  They showed the original on the screens, and the recreation occurred on the stage.  It was amazing and the performers did a beautiful job paying tribute to some classic sketches.

The improv...  Holy crap.  First of all, the "host" was Patrick Bristow.  You might remember him from Ellen (as in, her original comedy series) or, if you're a Disney Channel freak like me, you might know him from the Suite Life of Zack and Cody.  Either way, he's awesome, and watching him crack up on the side of the stage was almost as funny as some of the improv.

Whenever performers were called up for some improv, we got to yell, "Puppet up!"  According to Patrick, we were louder than the audience in San Fransisco.  (Never underestimate us Sconnies!)  From hot dogs staging a cheese intervention to Scott Walker as a super-villain in the next James Bond movie to a bedtime story about a trip to the proctologist (as told by a giant, digitally created brain puppet), everything was hilarious!  They had a whole stash of Muppets to choose from (we were a little disappointed that a few weren't used) and some fantastic performers to bring them to life.

So, if you ever get the chance to check out Henson Alternative, do it.  It is SO worth the time and money, and it's an experience you'll never forget.  When else do you get to hear Muppets swear or reference Linsday Lohan's beaver?  Never, my friends.  Never.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 Reasons You Should Stop Whining Whenever Facebook Makes Changes

1) It's never going to stop.  No, seriously.  Remember back when it was only for people with college email addresses?  When Facebook first opened up to the general public, a lot of people were PISSED.  I may even have been among them (even though I wasn't actually in college at that point, so I was kind of bending the rules to begin with).  These days, I'm actually happy that it's open.  I have tons of friends I can keep up with, lots of random games to check out, and opportunities that wouldn't have existed if FB had never changed since its original format.  And because FB wants to stay around, they will KEEP updating to try to get the most out of its existence.  I wish you luck in finding a social networking website (or, really, any website worth anything) that never changes things up.

2) If FB changes are the worst thing that you encounter today, your life is pretty flippin' good.  Seriously.  Clearly you have access to the internet, which makes you luckier than a lot of people in the world.  Odds are you're using a computer or smart phone that you own or can easily access, so you likely have an income of sorts and/or a place to live.  If your main complaint for the day was that FB made some stupid changes, maybe you should take a look around and realize how good you have it.  

3) It's a free site.  Free.  As in, no money needed to participate.  As long as you have internet, you can be a part of Facebook.  In all likelihood, no one's forcing you to use it.  (If someone out there reading this currently has a gun to his or her head and is being forced to stalk others via FB, my apologies.)  When you don't pay for something, should you really expect it to be perfectly to your liking?  No, you really shouldn't.

4) There are other options.  The internet is bursting with random websites.  Some of them are even other social networking sites (anyone remember MySpace?).  If you're that unhappy with FB, why not just go somewhere else for entertainment?  Goodness knows there are other ways to keep in touch with friends, if you're so inclined, so it's not like FB is the ONLY way you can live.

5) Facebook (not to mention many of your friends) doesn't care.  With more than 750 million active users, my guess is that your whining doesn't really matter to them.  Empty threats of leaving aren't going to garner much attention.  Hell, even if a bunch of you DO leave the site, there are still MILLIONS of other users willing to put up with a few stupid updates.  Sure, you might get a few "Likes" on your status about how FB can suck your reproductive organs or copulate itself.  And a few friends might write some encouraging comments noting their agreement with your feelings.  But in general, your words are falling on deaf ears (or blind eyes... is that how it would work on the internet?  Oh well...).   

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Anniversaries Abound

Five years ago today, Hubby and I decided to make things official and begin dating.  It's amazing to me that it was so long ago, but also that it has only been five years.  Boggles the mind, kids...  

As if that weren't enough, on Sunday, Hubby and I had our first wedding anniversary.  Yay!!  :)  It was a pretty awesome weekend, if I do say so myself.  Allow me to recap:

Friday night - Drove into Madison to my parents' house.  Zach went out to see a friend; I did homework. (OK, so that sounds lame, but it gets better.)

Saturday morning - Headed downtown to the Farmer's Market!  We bought honey straws (they actually had real bees at the tent!), cheese curds, a block of 6-year cheddar (that's Hubby's), a container of raspberries, a small thing of apple cider and some hot and spicy cheese bread rolls.  Everything was delicious!!  The square was PACKED, but it was still a lot of fun.  When we finished, we headed across the street to Tabby & Jack's, since Hubby hadn't been before (and I'd only been to the other location).  We got Maxi a shirt that says, "Wicked Cute" and has a little witch's hat on it.  And we got a cool collapsible bowl to keep in the car in case Maxi needs water while we're out and about. :)

Saturday afternoon - After a quick trip up and down State Street, we decided to head to lunch at my favorite place in Madison, Ella's Deli.  For those who haven't been, Ella's is like ADD Heaven.  There are things moving and spinning and singing and clicking all over the restaurant.  I know some people aren't big fans, but I've been going to Ella's since I can remember.  I love it so much that I had my 16th birthday party there AND had lunch there for my 21st birthday.  The best part about Ella's, though, is the carousel.  And yes, Hubby and I rode it on Saturday.  And yes, it was awesome.  Sure, I don't fit into the stirrups as well as I used to, but whatever.  Once we were done, we headed back to my parents' to check on the puppers and then we headed to the hotel to check in.  We stayed at the same hotel where we spent our wedding night.  Nothing too fancy, but definitely nice enough.  Once checked in, we promptly took a nap.  Yeah.  We're exciting.

Saturday evening - I finished up some homework while Hubby watched TV.  Once I was done, we decided that dinner sounded good.  We wound up going to Olive Garden.  We hadn't been there in awhile, and it was somewhere we actually went fairly frequently when we were first dating, so it seemed like a decent decision.  I had an awesome Moscato (I love my sweet, white wines) and an awesome dinner, so I really can't complain.  After dinner, we headed back downtown and walked around the square at night.  It was MUCH nicer without the crowds, though my shoes were sadly not made for walking, and I got a couple nice blisters.  Full and happy, we headed back to the hotel, turned on the TV and made a few drinks.  It wasn't long before we gave up and went to sleep.

Sunday morning - Had breakfast at the hotel ($9.50 each for what would normally be "free" at other hotels, but whatever) and then packed up our stuff.  Headed back to Mom and Dad's to catch the Packers game.  As I had told my mom, all I wanted for my anniversary was a Packers win.  I got it.  :)  I also got a Brewers win.  Bonus!!  :)

Sunday afternoon/evening - Lounged at the parents' house until it was time for our dinner reservation at Bellini Italian Restaurant.  We love Bellini not only for their food, but also because it's where we had our wedding ceremony and reception, so coming back for our anniversary was a no-brainer.  Dad drove us there limo-style (he said he wished he had the hat for it) and we were seated right away.  Now, at the end of our wedding night, the staff had told us that if we came back for our anniversary, we would get a free meal.  (This, of course, was merely a bonus for us.)  We made sure to tell the waiter that this was our first anniversary and that we had gotten married there a year ago.  He was very nice and congratulated us, but made no mention of the free meal.  We figured it like this: Worst case scenario, we paid for everything.  That's cool.  It's our anniversary.  We planned to spend money.  Best case scenario, we got free entrees and paid for some drinks and appetizers.  Awesome.  So we decided to go all out:
  • I started with a Bellini (a champagne drink with peach nectar) and Hubby had some kind of whiskey drink.
  • We shared calamari for an appetizer.  YUM!
  • For dinner, Hubby had a nice salmon dish and I had a fantastic rib eye with asparagus and broccolini on the side (and we each got a salad and bread to go with).  
  • With dinner, I had a melontini (Midori, Malibu, and some other stuff) and Hubby had a Jim Beam and Coke.
  • After dinner, we decided to split a (large) piece of tiramisu (the ONLY coffee-flavored thing I enjoy).  I had a chocolate martini and Hubby had an espressotini (it even had 3 coffee beans floating in it for garnish).
When our waiter came at the end of the meal, we assured him that everything had been phenomenal.  He then said, "I just wanted to congratulate you again on your anniversary.  On behalf of Bellini's, we thank you for having your wedding here and for celebrating your anniversary with us, and so we would like you to have this meal on the house.  Have a great evening."  And then he walked away.  Our jaws dropped.  The WHOLE THING was covered.  Holy.  Shit.  We had NOT expected that!!  Thankful to no end, Hubby dropped a REALLY nice tip and we cabbed it back to Mom and Dad's.  It was another early night for us, but we fell asleep completely content with the way the whole weekend had gone.  

We drove back home on Monday early afternoon (we both took the day off), and that was that.  :)

To extend the festivities, though, part of my gift to Hubby was tickets to the last Brewers game of the season, at Miller Park.  Needless to say, we can't WAIT to go!!  :)  YAY!!!    

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So Ready...

For some football!!!

Yes, kids, it's football season.  Just under 7 hours to kickoff and already I can hardly contain myself!  Looking forward to watching the Packers crush the Saints tonight in Green Bay.  Puppers is already wearing her Packers jersey, and Hubby and I will be joining her later.  

What's your favorite part about football season or what are you looking forward to most this season?

Personally, I'd love to see Ryan Grant have an excellent year (after being out most of last season) and I can't wait to see Clay Matthews make his first sack.  And, as always, I look forward to seeing Donald Driver's beautiful smile all season long. :) 

Da-nah, da nah nah nah...  


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labor (Free) Day Weekend

I mean, really.  It's called Labor Day, but the whole point is to take a break from said labor.  So why not Labor Free Day?  

Anywhoozles, it's been awhile, so here I am to tell you all about my lame-ass weekend.  Huzzah!!

I should start by telling you that Hubby has been on vacation since last Wednesday night.  Ugh.  I dropped him off at the airport around 4 and have been missing him since.  It's a good thing I have Miss Maxine, or I might've lost it.

So I made it through to Friday night somehow, and then headed to my parents' for the weekend.  I waited until 7 to leave so I could avoid the horrendous holiday weekend traffic, and was pretty successful.  There were still some assholes out, but that's pretty standard fare.  The puppers and I made it to our destination right around 8:20 and Mom and Dad were having dinner.  I got to sit down and have some bacon-wrapped filet (nom nom nom) and unwind from the drive.  (Yes, I know it's not a long trip, but when you're not used to driving, and you're alone except for a dog who'd rather stick her head out the window than sit next to you, it FEELS like a long trip.)

We watched the Brewers game together (well, Mom and I did anyway; Dad went to bed to watch) and then said goodnight.  The pups and I headed downstairs to our bedroom for the evening and watched some TV.  The next morning I was up too early for my liking, but got up and got started on homework.  Mom and I went grocery shopping around eleven, which was a nice break in my day.  I actually think I saw some people I knew from my CBH days, which was kind of random.  Mom asked if I wanted to say hi, but I declined.  

After that it was back to homework before Mom and Dad's friends D and M came over for cocktails and dinner.  Dad decided it was cool enough downstairs for a fire in the fireplace (according to the thermostat, it was only 63 degrees).  Despite the generation gap between myself and the four of them, we always seem to have a good time together, and Saturday was no exception.  I fixed myself a Captain & OJ and enjoyed the fire, talked some sports, and played with my pup.  Mom made a fantastic spaghetti dinner (enough to feed a mid-sized army) and the night wound down.

Sunday morning I finished up the last of the week's homework before we headed out to the Taste of Madison.  Apparently, it's entirely possible that I haven't missed a year of The Taste in my entire life (as Mom confirmed they took me with the year I was born, and I can't recall a year when I didn't go), which is pretty awesome.  Normally I stuff myself silly when I'm there, but without Hubby, I just wasn't feeling like myself.  I did, however, manage to enjoy a delicious churro from Caracas Empanadas, my favorite pumpkin spice cheesecake from Grace Cheesecakes and a really tasty steak fajita in a teeny tiny tortilla from Abuelo's

The afternoon called for a nap, and the puppers happily joined me.  Later, we spent the afternoon out on the front porch (or as K and I call it, Kentucky) talking and drinking and listening to music.  Dinner was leftover spaghetti, and I made a delicious spaghetti sandwich on a bun.  Mmmmm...

Monday was a lazy morning.  Not much to do but sit around and watch TV.  Eventually Mom and I headed to my aunt's house for some wine tasting.  It was a girls only event: my mom, mom's two sisters (my aunts), mom's sister-in-law (another aunt), and my cousin were all there.  We tried wines and played Apples to Apples (which is a family favorite, but I'll save that story for another time) and I had to get between my mom and one of her sisters when a political discussion got a little too heated for my liking.  (Let's just say it's not easy to piss my mother off, but God help you if you do.)

Of the wines, I liked the two whites the best (of course), and the dessert wine.  Evidently, I was the only one who liked the dessert wine (it was REALLY sweet - they said that like it was a bad thing!), so I got to take the rest of the bottle home.  When Mom and I got back to the house, Dad was out on the porch with some of our neighbors, so we sat down and joined them.  Dinner was, of course, more spaghetti leftovers (it's a good thing I love my mom's cooking so much).  And right after dinner, the pups and I made our trek back home.It wasn't an overly exciting weekend, but it was nice not to have to spend the whole weekend alone at the house.  

On a very happy note, Hubby will be home tonight!  YAY!!!!!  I can't wait to see him.  I hate when he's gone, and this was a LONG trip for him to be away. :-(  But, I survived.  That's gotta count for something.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Today Sucks.

Fine, not really.  It hasn't been terrible, but somehow I feel terrible nonetheless.  I'm emotionally exhausted right now, and I can't find it in me to let go.

You know those days where the world is against you?  This isn't one of them.  This is one of those days where everyone's actually being really decent to you, and even though you KNOW that, you can't get your heart and your mind to agree, so instead you just end up sullen for no real reason.

Yep.  One of those days.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reading Is My Drug

OK, so reading isn't the worst addiction to have, but it's getting pretty crazy over here.  

Lately I've been reading The Hollows series by Kim Harrison.  I read the first last month on a recommendation from a friend.  With that one book, my love of reading was rekindled and I've been plowing through them like my life depends on it.  In fact, I just finished the 6th book in the series today.  That's my fourth book this month, and it's only the 10th.  (I'm keeping track on Goodreads.)

Part of it probably comes from the knowledge that in just under two weeks I'll be back in classes, unable to read much of anything unless it has been assigned to me.  I'm sure "Cognition: Theories and Applications" will be informative, but it's not the kind of reading I thrive on.

Pretty much since I can remember, fiction has been my escape from reality.  When I'm reading a book that has really grabbed me and pulled me in, it's like I'm living the book.  I don't picture myself as one of the characters or anything, but I completely lose the world around me, and the only thing I know is whatever is written on the pages in my hands.  I become so attached to the characters in my books, and ripping myself out of their lives to go back into mine sucks sometimes.

Hubby keeps threatening to take me to the library, but the problem I have is that I love to re-read books.  I've read my favorite book at least six times.  And that number will continue to go up, because revisiting an old favorite is like re-living a favorite memory.  The comfort of a good, well-known story does good for my soul, and I don't part with books easily.

Logically, I should get a Kindle or a Nook (as I'm sure it would save me loads of dough), but there's something about the smell of a new book and the way the pages feel when they're worn with love that just won't let me do it.  Lame?  Probably.  But hey, this is my blog.  Suck it.       

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jeff-fa-fa Dun-ham

Last night, Hubby and I went to the Wisconsin State Fair with one main purpose: Jeff Dunham.  But, we also wandered around a bit, taking in some of the other sights and sounds of the fair.

Hubby needed some dinner, so we walked around the food stands until he found something that screamed, "Eat me!"  I wasn't feeling the best, so I just grabbed a Sprite.  Sitting on the curb so Hubby could eat, we realized the rain was picking up a bit, rather than tapering off as we had hoped.  Once he was done, we headed off to the horticulture building, where we took a look at some of the prize-winning photos, food and plants.  When we got back outside and it was still raining, we sought shelter in the products building.

The products building should really be called the Noms building, IMO.  The vast majority of booths in this building are dedicated to different foods from the state.  It's not at all like the booths outside, where everything is deep-fried, on a stick, or both.  Inside, you can buy bottled honey and cherry preserves and all sorts of yummy foodstuffs to take home and enjoy later.  They do have some ready-to-eat food as well, but the food inside always sounds much better to me than the majority of things outside.  They have a grilled cheese sandwich station, a baked potato booth, bison burgers, and Palermo's pizza, to name a few.  

While wandering this building, we actually ran into my brother-in-law and his wife (as well as her family, including my nephew).  It was nice to see them, but little A was getting hungry, and so we parted ways pretty quickly.  By the time I checked my phone, it was already 7:48...  Almost time for Jeff Dunham.

For those unfamiliar, the main stage at the state fair is the Milwaukee Mile.  Yep.  It's a race track.  Better yet, it's uncovered, and it was raining.  Not hard or anything, but raining nonetheless.  This was my first grievance.  

My second was our seats.  Hubby had let me get tickets for Jeff Dunham only if we got the cheap seats.  So, I tried to pick the best cheap seats I could.  I got seats in the 3rd tier of the stands (cheap seats were 3rd and 4th tiers), as center to the stage as I could, and got us seats 1 and 2 so we were on the end.  As we went to find our seats (the second time, as we went up the wrong stairs the first time), the woman helping us said, "Those are good seats!"  I was pleased.  Until I sat down, and this was my view:

Seriously?  There was a giant fence blocking my view of the track/stage.  Nothing warned me they were obstructed view seats, nor were they any cheaper than the seats next to us who had no fence in their way at all.  I understand it's a race track, but they have shows there every night of the state fair.  That makes it a venue.  And the fact that I couldn't see the stage pissed me off.  Thankfully, I could see the giant screens they had set up, but I was still pissy.
Until the show really got started.  And then I forgot all about the fence.  I felt like I was at home watching a special on TV, and I laughed until my stomach hurt, and then laughed some more.  The rain stopped at some point, but I'd mostly forgotten about it anyway.  

After showing off some terribly awesome photos of himself from middle and high school, Jeff talked a bit about his divorce (sad panda!!), and Walter begged to know what it was like.  Achmed (the dead terrorist) had some issues keeping his legs in line once his son came out to join the show and eventually got duct taped to the stool.  Jose Jalapeno (on a steeeeck!) slammed Peanut with some great insults, and Peanut himself showed off his newly found talent of ventriloquism with his dummy Little Ugly AssJeff.  

My favorite part of watching Jeff is that you forget there's only one real person on stage.  The man is talking to himself, but save for the few times the dummies point out that it's really just him, you don't even notice that his right hand is missing for most of the show.  The illusion is magical, and if you think ventriloquists are lame, you just haven't seen the right one.

The funniest part, though, had to be Peanut reading a fan's email (OK, it may have been made up, but who cares) and tricking Jeff into being just as racist as he was being.  Effing love the fact that Peanut can make Jeff feel uncomfortable.  

I was surprised that Bubba J wasn't part of this show (we were on a race track, FCOL), but it was just as well.  Walter, Achmed and Peanut are clearly the crowd favorites, and though we had fun, a longer show might have gotten old.     

All in all, I'm so glad we went.  Though it was an entirely different experience than last week's Daniel Tosh show, I think I laughed just as much last night as I did at Tosh (though it was more of a "Hehe, that was silly and fun" type show than an "OMG this is wrong, but so f*ckin' funny" kind of show).  

Jeff's new special airs on Comedy Central this September, so check it out!  You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tosh.Oh My God

That's right, kids.  Last night Hubby, K and I went to see Daniel Tosh perform in Madison at the Overture Center.  It's OK to be jealous.

We had opted for the late show (10 PM on a Monday night really does feel late, trust me), which got started about 10-15 minutes late.  By theatre standards, that's actually pretty good, but K and I are impatient and by the time 10:01 had rolled around, we were ready.

Tosh's opening act was Kyle Kinane, a sort of scruffy man with a big beard and a flannel shirt (think of a lumberjack on his day off in civilization...).  Kinane opened by telling the crowd that he was going to regale us with stories of how he has "fucked up."  And while I was initially skeptical, Kinane had me laughing the whole time he was on stage, and I was wiping tears from my ears by the time he was done with his set.  From stories about being the sketchiest person in an Arizona Wal-Mart in the middle of the night to the poorly parked van with a 'stuffed dude' inside, Kinane had most of the audience rolling.  His short set had us all warmed up for Mr. Tosh.

And then came the announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, Daniel Tosh!"  The crowd roared and onto stage came a dog.  If you've ever watched Tosh.0, you'll know just what dog I'm talking about.  The little black and white mop is just as adorable in person as on the show.  He was followed by Daniel, who was holding another mop-ish dog in his arms as he shuffled onto the stage.  

Hubby, K and I all agreed later that Daniel seemed kind of pissed when he started the set.  He didn't seem like himself, and really didn't smile until probably mid-performance.  Part of this, I'm sure, was due to the loud-mouth bitch in the balcony who kept shouting things during lulls like, "Take your shirt off!"  Daniel pointed out that he knew she was trying to be cute, but that she forgot the first rule; women aren't funny.  When she continued to run at the mouth, he simply said, "Jump," eliciting applause and hollers of approval from the rest of us.

Though it took awhile for him to seemingly warm up, he was still as hilarious as always.  Crossing all his usual lines without care, he made jokes about everything from Osama bin Laden to dead relatives to "19 and Counting."  And though a few jokes were recycled from past specials, the majority of material was fresh and funny.  He told us how he hates the Packers and told us all how our cheesehead hats couldn't save us from flooding since we're all so enormous.  As Hubby pointed out, some of the jokes aimed straight at us were some of the funniest.  One of my favorites had to be when he was asking for a nearby town to make a comparison, and chose 'Ferona' (or as we in Wisconsin call it, Verona), pointing out how much funnier his joke could have been with 4 seconds of research.

I had a fantastic time last night, and seeing Tosh in person is something I can definitely check off my bucket list, but part of me was just a tiny bit disappointed.  Watching his specials, or even just listening to them, always leaves me feeling like he's an overall good guy.  Sure, he's bashing everyone he possibly can, but you don't really believe he means all of it.  But his attitude and demeanor at his performance last night didn't give me that same feeling.  So when a few people started to stand for an ovation at the end of the night (we in Wisconsin - Madison especially - have a habit of giving out standing ovations like a proud daddy handing out cigars), I just couldn't muster up the energy.  

It was good, Tosh.  Great, even.  But I really believe you can do better.  Hopefully I can see you again and have that confirmed. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship With Camping

Having gone camping this weekend, camping is on my mind.  It wasn't a great trip, sadly.  We got the tent up just before it began to rain and then took a drive to wait it out.  The rest of the afternoon was great.  We had blue skies and made a lovely fire (over which we made pizza pudgie pies...  NOM!).  But just as we were finishing dinner, it started to rain again.  That was around 8 or 8:30.  It rained on and off for the rest of the night.  Every time we thought it had stopped, we'd hop out of the car and sit by the fire for a minute before getting hammered again.

Around 2 AM, we got woken up (OK, Zach got woken up; I hadn't fallen asleep yet) by a park ranger because bad storms were coming our way.  We got to spend about 30 minutes in the men's bathroom with 6 other adults, two dogs (Maxi was one) and twin 3-month-olds (who were, thankfully, pretty quiet at that point).  After we got the OK to head back to camp, I just read until I was so tired I physically couldn't stay awake.  Even then, I couldn't get comfortable.  Ugh.

You'd think I'd be used to this by now, but no.  To put it nicely, I didn't grow up in a camping family.  (Actually, that's a hell of an understatement, but we'll go with it for now.)  My mom's idea of 'roughing it' when I was growing up was a motel without cable (which has since been upgraded to a hotel without room service).  Sure, Mom used to go "camping" with me as a Girl Scout, but only when it involved sleeping indoors on a mattress or bed.  The one time I went camping with my dad (for a Father's Day outing), the two of us slept in a tent so big it had room for two separate cots AND a generator so we could have a fan at night. Being slightly more outdoorsy, Dad and I actually went canoeing in the morning (because my parents owned a canoe, though I still don't know why, since that's the only time it has been used in my lifetime).

I had my first tent experience when I was about 6.  I had been going to a day camp with a few other Girl Scouts and on the last night, we got to stay over in the field next to the Girl Scout office.  I quickly learned two things.  The first is that spiders love tents, which made me terrified of the tent itself (after someone took all the visible spiders off, I was able to go into the tent, but didn't get out again until time for breakfast).  The second was that sleeping on the ground really isn't very comfortable.  I did a lot of similar day camps, but as I got older, I realized that as a Program Aid (the girls too old for the camp who were just there to lead activities) you got to sleep inside.  Since I loved the day part of day camp, it was natural for me to head in that direction.

In sixth grade, our class took a winter camping trip in February.  The things we did during the day were great; we learned to make a fire without matches and attempted to build a snow cave (though there wasn't enough snow on the ground).  The first night, I was crazy enough to actually sleep in a tent (though, instead of being on the ground, it was on a platform).  The second night I slept inside, but it was too late and I wound up sick.  It was definitely an interesting experience, but not one I'm rushing to repeat (though, the lack of spiders does make it mildly appealing).

Eventually, my mom decided I would like being a camp counselor and got me signed up for a 3-week counselor-in-training program.  Since I enjoyed being a PA so much, I should love this!  

I didn't.

I was the most homesick 15-year-old you could possibly have imagined.  I cried myself to sleep every night and wrote letters home asking Mom and Dad to come get me.  I actually got to call my parents, something that very few campers are allowed to do unless there's an emergency.  I was dead set on going home.  And then something changed.  I had made friends and was learning to enjoy camping (platform tents ftw).  I ended up staying the full 3 weeks and, much to everyone's surprise, I came back the next summer for the 4-week follow up.  

I wound up working at that camp for 4 summers.  Those summers had some of the best and worst experiences of my life and I wouldn't trade them for anything.  I made some amazing friends, had some amazing times, and (hopefully) made camp a fun place for my campers.

So while I absolutely hate rainy weather, sleeping on the uneven ground, spiders and other bugs, I also love the fresh air, the smell of trees and dirt, cooking over a fire and spending time with my hubby or good friends.  It's the biggest love/hate relationship in my life, and I can't wait to do it again in the fall.  :-) 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bugs Are Gross.

I'm not really a girly girl.  Promise.  I have very little tolerance for the color pink.  I don't do lots of ruffles and fluff.  Until I had a place of my own, the only things I "cooked" were Kraft mac & cheese, frozen pizzas and toast.  And I'd rather play with toy trucks than I would with baby dolls.

But bugs and spiders are another story.  This is where my girliness really shines through.  OK, not all bugs are gross.  Ladybugs are cute (as long as they aren't those imposter Asian beetles that bite).  Caterpillars/Butterflies are beautiful and fun.  Lightning bugs are amazing!  I don't mind ants or roly-poly bugs.  And while they suck (literally and figuratively), mosquitoes only succeed in making me yell and itch.

There are two creepy crawlies that I really, truly cannot stand: spiders and silverfish.  


I have been afraid of spiders since... Well, since I was born, probably.  I'm one of the most arachnophobic people you'll ever meet.  Once, when I was about 8 or 9, I saw a spider in my room.  I tried to get my dad to kill it, but before he got there, it was gone.  I slept on the couch in the family room for a few nights since I didn't know where it had gone, and I was NOT sleeping with a spider on the loose in such close quarters!  

When I was in my early twenties, I remember sitting on the couch downstairs when I saw a spider booking it across the floor.  I panicked.  I had no clue what to do.  It was headed toward my only escape route, and I was determined to live on the couch in order to avoid it.  I got talked into killing it myself, so I went to the fireplace (it was a safe enough distance from me at that point) and grabbed the little broom that gets kept there.  I got as close as I had to and beat the HELL out of that spider with my broom.  I then grabbed probably 10-15 tissues to pick it's squashed little body up and flushed it down the toilet.  

The very next night, I saw the same flippin' spider, hauling ass across the floor.  I thought I was having a "Groundhog Day" moment!  Repeat the scene from the previous night.  

Third night, SAME DAMN SPIDER.  Turns out there was a nest of those fuckers hiding in the wall and I was just seeing the same type of spider each night (which is only slightly better than a spider that comes back from the dead to haunt you each night).  Dad bombed it and I didn't have the problem again, but it was a less than pleasant experience.

Girl Scout camp actually taught me to deal with most spiders without too much flailing.  If they're on the ceiling or in a dark corner, I give them a name and talk to them a bit.  Ask them to leave before my hubby gets home (though, in all fairness, he hates spiders nearly as much as I do), lest there be consequences.  They never listen, but I keep trying.  If they're outside, I just walk away.  Outside is their domain, and I respect that.  Inside, though, all bets are off.


My first encounter with a silverfish was actually in college.  My college roomie and I had one scurry across our room one night, and I didn't know what the hell it was.  Some kind of small alien?  A science experiment gone terribly awry?  What the HELL kind of creature is that?!

I didn't see one again, I think, until we bought this house.  Since owning this house (not even 2 years yet), I have seen at least 6 of the bastards, and it scares me shitless every damn time.  The first time I saw one I was headed to the basement.  Now, I didn't grow up with a traditional basement (we had a finished lower level in a split ranch), so to this day, basements scare me a bit.  And as I was headed down there, I saw that same scurrying I had seen in college.  I bolted upstairs and didn't go into the basement for a few days.

The next time was while I was working.  I was just sitting here, minding my own business, when I saw movement.  Sure enough, there was a damn silverfish on the curtains.  A-hole.  I grabbed the vacuum, but by the time I got back, it was gone.  I kept the vacuum there for 3 days, just in case.

My most epic battle involving a silverfish had to be today.  I decided to do some laundry on my break, since Hubby and I are going camping this weekend.  I grabbed some stuff from his hamper, and then started grabbing clothes from my hamper when something moved.  I gasped, jumped back, and looked into the hamper.  A G-D silverfish was squirming around in there like it was his own personal pool or something.  I froze for a bit before picking up a shoe (a really nice dress shoe, at that) and hitting it.  I dropped the shoe in the hamper and ran.  

I plugged in the vacuum and got the extender attachment ready.  I used it to pick up my shoe (in case he had decided to infest it next) and, upon seeing it bug-free, put it back on the floor.  Then I used it to gently push my sock out of the way, and there he was.  Not yet dead, but definitely stunned by my hit.  It took two tries (the first time I nearly sucked up a pair of underroos), but I sucked the damn thing into the vacuum.  I left it running, to make sure he got good and sucked up, and then left the room.  The vacuum is still in the bedroom, there's a basket of clothes in the hall, and I'm not about to do anything about it until Hubby is home.  Eff that.

I haven't learned any tricks for dealing with those creeps yet.  They come out of nowhere and are gone just as quickly, but you just know they're waiting for the right time to show up again.  Nowhere is safe.  Nowhere.  Is.  Safe.    

Edit: I've just learned that what I'm encountering are called house centipedes, not actually silverfish.  They're still creepy and I still dislike them in my home.  That is all.