Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hard Drive Needed; Please Replace Brain

Mystery solved: I need a new hard drive. I called Dell. Never have I been so happy to have a warrantee. Never have I been so sad to have a horrible habit of losing things. All of my work from... oh... months, is gone because all of the thumb drives I've been saving it on are missing. As per usual. I'm depressed.

Of course, there is a way to get it back. I called the drive savers, and the nice woman I spoke with quoted me between $500 and $2700. Needless to say, that's a bit outside of my budget. Ha.

Worst part: I can't even go to Nappanee for coffee.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Soooooo...

I was working, getting ready to submit some articles for work, and voila, my computer froze. I restarted it.

Now, I have an error message that pops up continuously, informing me "Disk read error" followed by instruction to press Ctrl+alt+del. I did that, several times. Turned it off and back on. Turned it off and left it off... nothing. Nothing at all. Same old message.

Fortunately, my old computer turned on.

Stinks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tears

This morning, I said good-bye. Mike asked, months ago, that I not cry. I told him I'd try not to, that at the very least, I'd try not to cry in front of him. I broke my promise.

I've never been much good at promises. And I've never been good at not crying.

For awhile, I was fine. Talking to people. Talking to soldiers. Talking to soldier's wives, girlfriends, parents, sisters and friends.

Then, I talked to a friend who was crying incessantly. She told me, through her tears, that she'd been crying for the last two days. I don't doubt it. If I wasn't just home from vacation... in any case, her husband, when I announced my departure, again trying not to cry, told me to take care of myself. "You take care of yourself."

"I have McClure to take care of that."

I smiled, and I felt it falter. "Take care of him, too."

He nodded and returned the smile, perhaps realizing the mention of my boyfriend wasn't the most beneficial thing he could have done, and I turned away, quickly.

Not long after that, less than 30 minutes later, I stood outside with Mike, his dad, his great uncle, his stepmother, his grandmother and his sister, watching as they left.

I've never seen my boyfriend cry before. The first tear, he brushed off as the cold. Later, he couldn't do that anymore. Later, I knew he was crying for the same reasons as I. Later, when the tears wouldn't stop.

His tears were my undoing.

But the thing that sticks with me the most strongly is not my story, but someone else's.

Earlier this morning, Mike introduced me to another soldier in his unit, one he always talks about, but that I'd not had the opportunity to meet. Matthews, in turn, introduced me to his girlfriend (and future wife).

While we were waiting for the buses to leave, standing, shivering in the cold, one of her friends, or one of his friends, scooped her up onto his shoulders and ran with her to the bus. He held her close enough that she could touch the windows, and she did. She pounded, with her fists, "I love you!" She screamed, again, louder, hysterically, "I love you!"

She touched the window, the heat from her palm leaving a print. It stayed as the buses drove away.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Special Interruption

Repeat after me "Robin, you are an amazing, wonderful, incredibly stupid. Now, tell, me how you do that."

I don't know.

NEVER leave your wallet with your credit cards, debit card and new gifts in a taxi. It's bad news.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cruise Update: Key West, Florida

So far, the cruise has been amazing. Everything on board is expensive, yes, but still amazing. Melody and I took a nice, long tour of the ship and I think we saw almost everything possible that there is to see.

The cruise has several lounges, several bars, a casino, two formal dining areas and one less-formal dining area, a pizzeria, a cafe and an ice cream place, a main pool with two hot tubs and an adult (over 21) lounge area, called Serenity that also features two hot tubs. Mel and I went there to watch the ship leave Miami yesterday and then chilled there last night.

Now, we're enjoying Key West at "Bad Ass Coffee Company" and just... relaxing.

Our room is surprisingly nice. Cramped, but only a little smaller than a dorm room. We have a nice large window by Melody's bed. Wasted, since she seems to dislike the window. Evidently, sunshine is bad.

Miami was interesting. The hotel we'd originally planned on staying at was quite a ways from the airport and they don't have a shuttle service. Evidently, in Miami, 8-10 miles isn't worthy of a shuttle. However, it was probably for the best. We saved money and were able to escape with a minimal amount of damage.

Pictures will come later. Have waaaaaay to many of them.

Soooooo nice to not be in Indiana!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

10 Days and Counting to Cozumel

When I was in high school, I used to count down to youth group trips, or even just youth group events, that I was excited about. I would write the number on my hand and I would know how many days were left starting at something ridiculous like 150.

However, Melody and I are leaving for Cozumel, Mexico in only ten days, and I didn't even realize it until yesterday, after my Father said, in surprise, "Oh, you're leaving at the end of next week, too." It took me a moment. I got home and I counted the days frantically, surprised.

I guess I've not been counting because we leave the first and return the eighth. Mike is deployed the 7th, and will leave Indiana the 10th. So, in my head, I think I equated counting down to my vacation as the equivalent as counting down to Mike's leaving - something I'm not sure I'm ready to face. Not that I haven't had enough time.

Initially, my man was leaving the first and we were leaving the first or second, which would have worked fine. It would give me time to focus on something that's not work. But the army changed the dates, and now... I shouldn't plan things.

It's a good thing November is National Novel Writing Month, because I can throw myself into that. And work.

Ten days until mine and Melody's vacation to Cozumel. Yay Cruise! 18 Days until Mike leaves for Iraq. Can't believe I'm counting down to that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Am I Dating Whom?

"Are you dating Mike?" Asked a woman I didn't know at Friday night's "Farewell to the Troops" party at the bar in Signature Lanes.

I stared at her blankly. Fortunately, she assumed I didn't hear her and by the time she asked me again, I knew who she was talking about.

See, at Army Parties, I'm not dating Mike. I'm dating McClure or Big Mac. I run around responding to, "McClure's old lady," or "Big Mac's woman" or "McClure's girlfriend." I introduce myself as "McClure's girlfriend." If I say "Mike" no one, with perhaps the exception of Adam, Tom and Jeff; will know who I'm talking about.

Needless to say, when the woman, Jennifer, asked if I was dating Mike, I really didn't know who she was talking about. And it turns out Jennifer is dating "the other Mike." But it turns out there are actually two other Mikes, so when I was trying to tell Mike about Jennifer and Mike on the drive to paintball the next day, he didn't know who I was talking about.

And it's not just me. Laura and I had a conversation about it while paintballing. See, she always refers to herself as "McClure's sister," so when Jennifer asked if she was Mike's sister, she just stared at her. And let me tell you, Laura's had a lot more experience being "Mike's sister" than I've had being "Mike's girlfriend."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Paintballing Miltary-Style As a Civilian

Last night was the "Farewell to the Troops" party for my boyfriend's unit. So it seems only fitting that today, Mike and I met up with his sister, Laura, her boyfriend, Zach, there friends Danielle and Drew, Mike's army buddy, Adam and Adam's ex-girlfriend and ex-fiancee, Lauren.

The Crew

I met Danielle, Drew and Lauren last night. More accurately, I saw the three of them last night. Zach pointed out Danielle and Drew to me, and I asked Adam who the chick was. He answered in a tight-lipped, dreamy-eyed, one word response. "Lauren." It took me a minute, but after a second I realized that he was talking about THE Lauren he's been in love with since his first tour in Iraq. "THE Lauren?" Head bobs affirmatively. "For real?" "Yes." "What are... what's going on... what are you?" "I don't know." Fair enough.

Two weeks ago, when Mike and Adam and I went to Cedar Point, Adam told me about Lauren while Mike watched the Cubs game (their last game - he was sad). Lauren was nothing like the way I imagined her. I like her. So did/does Mike. I feel bad saying that.

Boys and Their Toys

Lauren and Adam were wearing Adam's military-issued pants (old style, from last tour). Mike and I were wearing Mike's military-issued jackets (also from last tour), and Mike and Laura were wearing Mike's pants from the last tour. Believe it or not, military-issued clothing camo is COMFORTABLE.

Anyway, Mike and I got there, got suited up, and we shared a case of paint with Adam and Lauren. The boys gave Lauren and I instructions on the proper way to hold our guns, point our guns, aim our guns and shoot our guns. However, Adam still labeled our box of paint, "The Black and Blue Crew." Lauren and I figured that was for us.

Experience?

Of the four of us girls, only Danielle and I had paintballed before. And my experience was a pathetic one from my freshman year of Grace, barely a week into the school year. Needless to say, my experience was essentially non-existent. Drew and Zach were way prepared. They each had their own equipment and have been going since, I think Zach said he started when he was 13. He's 23 now, so that's a lot of experience. I believe Drew's is comparable. Neither Mike nor Adam had been, but Laura and I refused to count them as in-experienced. They are, after all, military-trained. We were an odd group. We played something like 16 kids (10 and under, and one adult - leader? dad? something). At first, the other team had 6 kids and Drew joined them. The kids pretty much worshipped him. Hard to blame them. He did look awesome with his spare cannisters of paint balls, fake bullet-proof vest, uber-cool gun and the experience that oozed from him.

Pathetic

Our first game, we played on the "tire" field. There were stacks of tires laying about as barricades. We dodged behind them on shot. My glasses fogged up. I got shot in the face. I followed Adam out - he got shot at about the same time I did - and we went to watch our team die. He found Mike, "Come watch Your Man," just in time for the two of us to see Mike also get shot in the face. We have bad timing. We looked for Lauren next, Adam muttering under his breath about how it "wasn't fair" that she lasted longer than he. The game was over soon thereafter. We lost.

Onslaught of the Castle

The second game was a castle game. Drew and now 10 kids plus dad defended the castle. The rest of us plus five kids minus Zach (who tried to take pictures of us with my dying camera, forgot spare batteries like a moron... let's just say that didn't work, and he got shot - he had a nice neck welt for awhile) tried to attach to castle and steal the yellow flag. Mike and Adam instructed us before we left "Stay low. Stay low! Cover our backs. We'll go in." Arrogant jerks.

Needless to say, we girls didn't take to well to this, though the kids we'd earned thought it was "awesome." Mike and Adam went one way, Laura and I the other. Dunno where the others went. Laura and I were crouching behind a barricade in the woods and her gun got shot - the ref told her she was out. I took the opportunity to duck and run up close. Zach tried to direct me to get closer so I could take over covering Mike/Adam, but I got stuck. Every time I popped out to try to move, I got shot at. And there was no cover the other direction. Boo. Eventually, I got shot at, in the mouth like Mike had been the time before, and immediately agreed with Mike's estimation, "Ewww. These are nasty."

I yelled out that I'd been hit and walked out, followed again by Adam who laughed at me for my dirty pants (hello, I had to crawl. I didn't want to die!), my fogged-up glasses and my paint-covered mask. Fortunately, though, he described the rest of the game to me so I could "see" it. He couldn't decide if he was proud or ticked that Lauren and Mike were still in, and his voice changed from pride to disdain too quickly to keep track of. After ten minutes of game time, the game was over. We'd lost. Again. I hate losing.

Interlude and Tire Game

As we trudged out, Mike and I discussed Adam's ridiculous kevlar gloves and how much he wished he had them (when he got hit in the face the first game, he also go hit in the hand). Boys and their toys. We wanted to defend the next castle game- for obvious reasons; Dying and losing = bad, so had to wait awhile.

In the downtime, Lauren and I discussed how much it sucks having a man overseas. She told me some things that helped when she missed Adam and some things that she thought would help that didn't. Really appreciated it.

We decided to go ahead and play a game on the tire field before the castle field was open and meandered our way out. I was the first person shot. I have a very pretty bruise. I took the time between my death and the rest of my team winning (kicking BUTT) to make my goggles not foggy.

Defending the Castle

Defending the castle was fun, but not fun at the same time. Lauren and I shared a table and traded looking over the castle wall and through the holes to shoot the enemy. After a bit, our location was useless, and we both moved to defend other locations. I moved over to Mike. He was sitting on a table, gun through a hole and shooting away at an enemy I couldn't see. I found a hole under the table, a big gash, really and went in there. "Stop shooting! It's our man! It's Drew!" (Drew had finally managed to rejoin our team.) It was too late, and Mike ran out of paint moments later. I shared some of my mine with him and we both went back to shooting. I hit someone! So proud of myself. We won!

Victory is Ours

We played another tire game, unanimously deciding that it was the better of the two fields we'd played on. There was more room to move around, and neither team had a distinct advantage. As Adam pointed out in the car on the way home (Lauren had to leave early, so Adam caught a ride with Mike and I - jerk made me sit in back), "Any time you have the defense, you practically have it in the bag. You just need to weight for them to come to you." I finished, "And pick them off."

In any case, this tire game was fun. The teams were split up the same way they'd been the last game, and we switched sides. We were numbered off and split up, so we had about four adults (people over 20) per team, and 8-10 kids/team. I actually didn't die, I shot people, and I was able to figure out a bit more on tactics, thanks to Zach's coaching on the way from the castle field to the tire field. AND I was able to direct Adam (who after my Man left, took his spot at the next barricade) to shoot one of the kids. And one of us (both of us, probably) managed to kill Drew. Our team was victorious. Hurray!

The Last Stand

The last game that we all played was a little bit pathetic - and totally rockin'. The four of us were down to our last few paintballs, and even after we finished off the last bag, we each had barely half a tank. After Laura gave us the remainder of her bag, we each took a handfew and added them (I insisted this wasn't fair - Lauren and I have decidedly smaller hands than the boys), we still only had just over half a tank each.

This time, however, Drew, Danielle, Zach, Laura, Adam, Lauren, Mike and I insisted we play on the same team, and that the kids - all 16 of them - could play us on the same team.

Given the numbers, we did well. But that's not saying much.

Danielle, Drew, Lauren, Mike and I took the left side. The plan? Stay back, move up as can, conserve bullets. Within just a few minutes, Mike moved up and I went to take the barricade so I could get his back.

I got safe, checked left and right, saw Lauren, Danielle and Drew behind me, motioned to where the guys on the right were and took a shot. Then I went back to Mike. He motioned that he'd be moving up (I knew watching the whole season of "Band of Brothers" would one day come in handy) and ran.

As he ran, a terrible thing happened. The adult on the other team stood, saw him running, and shot him in the head. In slow motion, Mike fell forward and into the barricade. Mike held up his hands, "Hit! I'm hit!" The guy stood up and shot him AGAIN! Close range! That pissed me off. The guy stood again - Mike finally off the field - and I shot him in the face, the chest, and the arms. And then I shot two other people. One of whom didn't get off the field.

Drew called to Zach and they confirmed that left only two of their guys, and we still had Drew, Lauren, Laura, Danielle and I left. Note: military men = kaput.

There was one guy who kept dodging behind the barricade at the far right of the park. Following Zach's instructions from earlier, he was my target. I finally got him in my sight and managed to set my gun so my next shot would take him out. I shot. No more paintballs. I opened my canister. Empty. I scanned the ground. No good ones. Crap.

After a few minutes, I turned to Drew. "I'm out of paint."

"Zach just got out."

"Drew! I'm out of paint!"

"You're WHAT?"

"Out of paint!"

"Shoot."

"If I run, will that draw them out enough that you can take them out?"

"Really? Yeah! Go to the left and run, not straight down the middle, but close. Don't stop. Just sprint." Let's just say, I'm not a sprinter, but I did my best. I got shot five times. And I as I ran, I freaked as I counted heads. There were 6 kids left. Six.

I now have two marks on my right shoulder, one of right knee, one on the left of my side, one of my left thigh and one in the middle of my back - one of the ones from the right shoulder was from an earlier game. Stink.

After I got out, it wasn't long before the rest of my team ran out of paint. I didn't even have time to join Mike and Adam at the side to watch the rest of the game. When I did, Adam said, "Nice shooting. Remind me not to piss you off." We got our butts kicked, obviously. But it was good fun. And seriously, it's not like we had even numbers.

Slaughter

Most of us were done, but Mike and Adam played another game. Lauren left, I turned in my gun and Mike borrowed Zach's gun. I always feel bad because Zach is trying sooooo hard to make Mike like him, and he's so shy that he doesn't feel comfortable talking to him. Today was the first time Zach really felt like he could have a conversation with him and not have to be careful. He couldn't even tell Mike what type of music he likes. But here, he was so proud to let Mike use his gun. Laura and I exchanged glances and laughed. I feel especially bad because Mike has NO IDEA he intimidates Zach.

The boys just randomly joined a team, and I tried to get my camera to work, but couldn't take pics through the heavy screening. Zach offered to go on the field again, but noting his slightly less-swollen neck welt, I passed.

We all moved up to the screen. Mike running to the same place he'd been running to the past game. He got shot in the chest. He'd taken off his jacket and his other two layers, so had only one lightweight t-shirt in-between the paintball, the five feet from the shooter and his skin. He has a HUGE welt in the center of his chest.

He lay on the ground, the wind knocked out of him for a minute. Before he stood, he held up his gun and his arm. I couldn't hear, but imagined him yelling, "Hit!" He stood and got shot in the back by the same guy. The same adult. Also has huge welt on his back.

The game was over while I waited anxiously for Mike to get off the field. Adam beat him off and asked me what had happened with Mike - the game was over -and told me what happened to him.

McDonalds

We were starving so Adam, Mike and I stopped at McDonalds. The nice boys gave me all their pieces for the McDonalds Monopoly game, while we discussed the trouble on wall street, what we'd do with $100,000 and I was quizzed on appropriate battle tactics. The men told me they wished they could practice on-the-field training with paintball guns and not guns that held blanks. Who can blame them, right?

We discussed our marks and bruises, decided Adam had appropriately named our "Crew" and had a fun time.

They laughed at me for "taking one for the team." Adam said he'd have just turned himself in. Mike patted me on the shoulder (the left shoulder, fortunately), and I said that they were a bunch of wimps.

And I'm standing by that. At least, until they leave.

20 days and counting until Mike is deployed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Masquerade

When I was a little girl, I loved to play dress up. My mom made me a fairy costume for Halloween, and then a princess costume, and then an angel costume and tons of others. I wore those every chance I got, always inventing stories and plays and reasons to don these outfits.

I suppose I never really grew out of playing dress up. In France, I learned to dress like the French, and here I dress in the jeans (sometimes) that I'm expected to wear. I love to wear pretty clothing and jewelry and, in a way, pretend to be someone else. I write about fashion and style and colors and clothing and shoes (for another blog), and we all know if I could afford everything I wrote about, it would be in my closet.

So why does it bother me when others play dress up? Or for that matter, grown up? When it's a child, it doesn't bother me. But some people, pretending to be something they're not, soiling the reputation of what they'd like to become... that bothers me.

Don't pretend to be a soldier, be one. Don't pretend to be a businessman, be one. If you're not in business with a job and a salary, you're not a business man. If you're not enlisted in some division of the armed forces, you're not a soldier. If you're studying to become something you want to be, great. But in the meantime, don't try to build up your credibility by pretending to be something you're not.

The thing about costumes, the thing about a masquerade, is people see through it. You're just a child playing dress up, wearing over-sized shoes and a mouth that says words you don't understand.

Do us all a favor and grow up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stupid strikes again

I had one of THOSE days again. Really, I shouldn't be overly surprised. I have one of those days at least once a week.

So, I was recently hired by the Goshen News as a correspondent to cover the LaGrange County meetings, and then, last week, added the Topeka Town meetings and the Westview School Board meetings to my schedule.

I got the rest of my work done early today, grabbed a bottle of water and headed out to Topeka (about 25 miles) to cover today's 4 o'clock town meeting.

I drove allllll around Topeka, which granted, isn't an overly large town, but still took a good half hour to do it thoroughly, and I had to dodge people who don't look before crossing streets, buggies, bicycles and constructions workers, and didn't find the town hall. I stopped at a tanning salon for directions. They got me in the right general area, but I still didn't find it.

Oh, did I mention that I left my directions at home? Any other town in Indiana, and it would have still been obscenely obvious where the meeting was. This was held in a house, or what looks like one.

At 4:12, I walked into the building, holding my breath, praying that I wouldn't disturb the meeitng and it was blissfully empty, with the exception of an over-worked secretary typing away in a back office.

At least now I know where it is.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dear Mr. Obama

Dear Mr. Obama,

I have to admit that when I first saw you, your smooth words made it easy to listen. Your inviting voice makes it to easy drown out the words your actually saying. But when I started listening to you, I recognized you.

You're like the man who promises one thing to one woman and the same thing to another. You promise change because people want change, but you purposely promise things that you'll never be able to change, things you have no power to change. Reminds me of the person who says, after millions of broken relationships, that he can change: this time he'll be faithful. It's lies, all of it. But those are believed over and over and over again. How are your promises any different from those that cross the lips of the man who has been unfaithful?

You promise lower taxes, but more government-implemented programs, which of course, will cause an increase in our taxes. You promise lower gas prices, and you must think Americans are real idiots to believe that you could possible have control over such a thing. The scary thing is the number of people willing to believe your meaningless words.

Your campaign tactics give a renewed vigor to the word "slander." You're all talk. I don't like talk. I don't like people who say they can do something they know nothing about. You know nothing about war, for instance, but the American people are sick of war, and so you say you'll end it. If you're elected... I hope that's one thing you can do. But I'm not foolish, so I doubt it.

Of course, this is just my opinion. But I'll bet there are thousands of others who agree with me.

In a recent conversation with a friend currently serving in Iraq, he asked me,
"So anything else back in the US going on? Other than Obama destroying the very fabric of America with his empty promises of change and hatred of the troops?"

He went on to tell me, "Did you know when he came to Iraq, he walked straight from the vehicle past all the soldiers and refused to look at them and went straight in to the general? Then he refused to play basketball with any of them, and told them all to leave them gym when they taped the commercial. A guy in my unit was there when they did it."

Did you think those men wouldn't tell their friends and family members how you treated them? Did you think they wouldn't tell their battle buddies? That's not the "leader" I want. A man who refuses to interact with the very people he's being elected to serve.

Yes, serve. Or is that beneath you?

If you have anything to say that you'll actually be able to change, now's the time to say it. Anything you plan to do that you can actually accomplish, tell us what it is for pete's sake! But no... your words are empty, meaningless, "blah, blah, blah."

For once, instead of standing idly in the corner letting your empty promises of change speak for you, say something we can believe in.

But you won't. Because you have nothing to say that you can hold yourself to. Ahh, what a tangled web...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Good Bye-Scary

I have a problem. I'm forgetful.

I forget where I put my cell phone. I forget my key in the door. I forget where I've parked my car. I forget tickets at home. I forget that I hate Steven King novels. I forget that I don't actually like scary movies (psychological thrillers are good... horror with tons of blood and guts not so good).


The other day, I watched a movie with Desiree and Celi, Mirrors. Bad. Icky. Really gross. Those kind of things put bad feelings in my stomach and I really don't know why I put myself through it.

Yesterday, I watched an equally dissatisfying film on Lifetime (yes, I watch Lifetime). The difference between these two films was mostly that the Lifetime film wasn't as gross. There's no substance there, and I don't enjoy them.

So why do I watch them?

I wish I knew.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

"Maybe Baby Daddy"

Yesterday was a long day, to say the least. Knowing a little about babies and waiting for them to come, I packed some work, my laptop, food, two coffee drinks (I thought about getting Adam one, too, but decided that he didn't need one), a couple books and some cash. The boys were frustrated after twenty minutes. No joke. They seemed to think that the baby would just magically pop out. I tried to explain on the way there, on the way in, and while in the waiting room that it takes time. Adam simply said, "She better pop that bastard out."

Five hours later, the doctor broke Jan's water. The boys went out to smoke just before it was time to push, and Mike volunteered the two of us to not stay in the room. While they smoked, I explained to Adam that he had to be in that room because if it is his baby, he'll regret not being there, if it is his baby, he'll have an amazing first memory of it, it'll look good to Jan's mom (who, at only six years older than him, was not impressed by his attributes) and he needs to be there to watch at least one of his kids be born. And he went in.

I swear he came out, and he was excited. He was telling us about accidentally looking and about how big the baby is and it's feet and it's hands and his dark hair and how cute he is. One hour and he was hooked. The baby is adorable (and I swear it has his nose), but he's waiting until the paternity test comes back before he says anything official. At least, that's what he says.

I tried to convince Mike that Adam wanted the baby to be his when he left. He wasn't convinced, but I think he is now. Mike and I went out with Celi and Eddie and Adam showed up later with baby pictures galore, telling everyone about his kid.

He confided in Mike and I that he'll be disappointed if this kid isn't his - that he wants it to be his. Mike thinks he's on Cloud 9 (which he is a little bit), but it doesn't actually surprise me - from what I understand, men becomes fathers when they see the baby.

He keeps talking about the baby's faces and how cute he is. He's even talking about how much it sucks to have to go to Iraq. You don't know how surprising that is unless you know him. In the first six months Mike and I dated, all I've heard Adam say was how excited he was to go back. Even recently, he was talking about how then he wouldn't have to deal with the situation.

It's crazy to me what a complete turnaround he's had.

Mike's worried. He's worried about what's going to happen if the baby's NOT Adam's... and there's that possibility. He has a point.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Everything's Broken and a Baby Will Be Born

I'm pretty sure that everything in my house is broken. There are hornets in my backyard. The bigger of the two peach trees broke in half.

Mike came over for dinner yesterday. Earlier, while I'd been grocery shopping, the door knob broke off in my hand. I couldn't open the door to fix it, so I took the doorknob with me. Later, Mike told me to use a screwdriver to open it. It worked, but I felt like an idiot. After dinner, he fixed it.

I got the bright idea yesterday to fix the toilet seat. Finally. I took off the old one, cleaned it off and stuck on the new one. It was a lot too small. So now there's no toilet seat. I bought a new one, but haven't had the time to put it on yet. And I'm not too thrilled about the new one I bought. They didn't have a lot of options for the elongated toilet seat, so... yeah.

And I just got a phone call from Mike. His best friend's one night stand is in labor (we don't know if it's his kid or not) and he called up Mike and said, "Get your girlfriend down here. I need someone with me." Fortunately, they got out early today and Mike is coming by to get me. Mike seems to think the whole thing is amusing. So do I, actually. I hope this kid is Adam's. It would serve the fool right.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cell Phone Dead

Yesterday, I decided it would be a good idea to go swimming since I'd spent the last two hours typing away at my computer. I stepped out of the bathroom and my cell phone dropped, sending the back flying and ejecting the battery in the opposite direction. When I put it all back together, it wouldn't turn on. And if it did turn on, the screen was broken, so it doesn't count. Ahh, drama.

I loved the conference yesterday, though. I've met tons of people (and will probably continue to meet more) and have had some very interesting conversations.

I have a conference scheduled with an agent later. I'm so nervous I'm afraid I'm going to pee my pants. And in the meantime, I'm sipping a skinny caramel latte. This made me realize something: I don't like skinny lattes. If I'm going to be fat (which, it seems is inevitable), I'm going to eat the good lattes. Not the ones that taste bad... even if they are only 100 calories. Should have stuck with the hotel breakfast (but I had to go to Kinko's to print something off and it would have been over by the time I returned). Maybe I need to be more organized.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Getting What We Want: Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

You know how sometimes when you get the thing you want or were looking forward to, all of a sudden you don't know what to do with yourself? I've been having that recurring feeling all week.

For instance, I finally got to Muncie for the writers conference I've been looking forward to for months, but the moment I checked into the hotel, I realized something: it has been too long since I've lived alone. I don't know what to do with myself. I didn't have internet access at first and it drove me crazy.

I just got a new freelancing job that I am soooooooo excited about. The moment my editor told me that he wanted the articles ASAP, I totally blanked, not sure what to write about. I mean, I knew what to write about, I just didn't know how to do it. That's never happened. My mind was a blank slate. Finally, after three tries, I finished the first of the articles. I don't love it. I'm not even sure I like it. I'll have to edit it tomorrow after the conference.

I'm sure tomorrow I'll be so excited about the conference I'll have plenty to do. Besides, the schedules packed. And I'm sure that next month, I'll have plenty to write about - a whole month's worth of research instead of three days of research. Time makes a difference.

Still, it makes me wonder how I can want something so much and be so completely surprised at getting it that my functionality drops below zero.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Broken Toilet

Somehow, our toilet seat broke. So I bought a new one. I hate putting things together. I'm bad at it. So I'm neglecting it. I just have a feeling, though not as complicated as the lawn mower, it's still going to suck.

I'd include a picture except you seriously don't want to see it. It keeps pinching. But seriously, what if I put it on wrong? Do you know how much that would stink? It might fall off. I do have a habit of things not working out quite the way I want them to.

I don't think I'm thinking straight. The last weeks have been a series of early mornings, late nights and a lack of sleep. And I have several articles to write.

Hmm. Maybe I can convince the boy to do it for me????

Monday, July 21, 2008

Early Morning Disaster Control

I woke up at five this morning because the puppy was barking at my door. Turns out, we didn't lock her in the bathroom or the basement last night. She snuggled with me for about fifteen minutes before I began to feel that, perhaps, I should stop ignoring my alarm clock and go to the boys' house to take him to work.

Good thing I did, too. Mike was still asleep. However, we discussed the other day (when I thought he was asleep and the door was locked) that the door would be unlocked so I could get in.

Half an hour later, he was finishing breakfast (whenever he says "We're leaving the house at 6:30," he means, "We're leaving the house at 6:45") when I saw a red car pull up. "Is Adam giving you a ride?"

"What?"

"I think that might be Adam's car."

He looked out the window, "That is Adam's car. What do you think he's doing here?"

"Giving you a ride."

He stood to go out and talk to Adam who was looking askance at my car (and seriously, who can blame him?). "What are you doing here, Man?"

"Do you need a ride?"

"No, my woman's giving me one." Great. His woman. I poked my head out and glared at the two of them.

"Did you ever think your woman might not want to drive this morning?"

I laughed and poked my head around, "Thanks for coming by, Adam."

"I just didn't want to get to South Bend and have him call me up and ask for a ride." We both finished in our heads, "Because he would."

Evidently, Mike heard it, because he said, "Hey! I would not!"

"So, who's driving?" Asked Adam. The two of us exchanged glances and laughed. "Next time, CALL me so I know," said Adam to Mike, getting in his car. "By the way, you driving him tomorrow?"

"Yeah, need a ride?"

"I'll think about it."

Mike and I went back inside, talked for a bit and still made it before Adam. All because Adam took the way that's closer from his house, subsequently adding 20 minutes to his trip. Haha.
Army guys. They're all about efficiency, and still...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Prince Charming?

It seems that when one friend starts having boy-problems, they all start having boy problems. Yesterday, while I was informing my boyfriend that he's a jerk sometimes, I had a flash back to my freshman year of college.

The roommate, Melissa, and I had recently received one of those sappy emails that people send out all the time for whatever unknown purpose. In it, there was the line about how the right boy will never make you cry. We crossed that line out because neither of us believe it. "If he doesn't make you cry," we wonder, "Do you really love him?"

Today, while going through my papers looking for something else, I stumbled across a quote from a (different) former roommate, "Write something about searching for the world's Prince Charming, but he doesn't exist. And when you find one pretty close, he's an alcoholic."

Neither of us knew then that she was pretty much telling her story.

Makes me wonder: what happens to us as we grow up? Do we just give up? Do we think that we should take the first person that comes along? What happens to dreams of Prince Charming? How do we get those back?

Last night, the current roommate and I were discussing how, essentially, you get what you look for. It's heart-breaking when your truth stares you in the face.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Creativity Down the Drain

Since I have no new work today, I've spent the morning "sharpening my mind." In Sunday's paper, Goshen has a whole bunch of word puzzles/games and I love those things. And, after way longer than I would like to admit, I finally solved the first one... a thingy on writing. The quote saddens me. Mostly because it's true:

"Russia, France Germany and China. They revere their writers. America is still a frontier country that almost shudders at the idea of creative expression." - Novelist James. A Michener (who, by the way, recently passed away)

At the writing boards I visit, we frequently discuss how people look at us when we introduce ourselves as a "freelance writer." Not to mention the stupid questions they ask or the way they assume that we aren't doing anything because we "work from home." Thank goodness I live with Melody. She's one of my only friends who understands that I do, indeed, have a job.

Now, I'm off to query magazines and apply for new jobs. Hurray!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Guns No Longer Banned... In Chicago

In my newspaper (the Goshen News) yesterday, they included an article, "Gun Ruling Really a Tax," based on the ruling that was recently made in Chicago, allowing anyone to own a handgun (with the proper registration, of course).

Unfortunately, despite searching, I can't find the article to link back to it, but basically, whichever reporter wrote the article felt, of course, that this is a bad thing. See, now it's no longer illegal for law-abiding citizens to have guns.

He mentions most of my arguments in a cynical tone. And the way he writes it, he sounds right. Then, he goes on to say that this ruling will increase suicides, people killing their spouses, etc.

Here's the thing: Yes, access to guns probably will increase gun crimes. (Duh.) However, if someone is going to go off and kill their spouse, or kill someone in a crime of passion or commit suicide, it doesn't change the fact, that, gun or no gun, they will find a way to do it.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that I'd feel safer walking around with a gun. Consider it like this: guns are fairly commonplace in the criminal realms of any major city. As a law-abiding citizen, that makes me a target for people who would rob me, kill me or rape me. Frankly, I'd rather not have any of those things happen to me. Or anyone else. I think access to guns - for the law-abiding citizens - though not enough, is one step in the right direction. It's one step towards change.

Personally, I'm for this type of change. Not change in the "Pro-Obama Mantra" but change in matters where it matters. Change in things that can be changed - and should be. Politicians can promise change all they want, but all they have is hot air. That won't change. What will change is people: people who stand up for themselves, people who pursue change, and who strive to change the things they think should be.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fireflies and Lost Opportunities

Yesterday I babysat for my friend Heather's daughter, Isabella. Isabella is an adorable pixie-like four-year-old who laughs easily and hard - and spent the majority of the afternoon and evening pouting and throwing temper tantrums, even though Mike (the boyfriend) and I took her first to McDonalds and then to the zoo.

"I don't WANT to wait in line, boo hoo hoo."
"I want to crawl behind the line that keeps the animals in their cage! Booo hooo hooo! WAAAAAH!"
"The sea lion swam away! I can't see it! WAAAAH!"
"I WANT TO GO AGAIN!"
Eventually, when she threw a temper tantrum because she couldn't ride the merry-go-round again (those rides are EXPENSIVE. She was free for the merry-go-round, but I had to go with her, and that was two dollars. Ugh. I spent fifty dollars at the stupid zoo), Mike, sick of it, swung her up on his shoulder and we marched out and he stuffed her into the car. I think we hadn't done it before because WE wanted to see more, and at that price, we were going to stay, but the zoo was closing then, anyway.

Then, at my house:
"I want the dog on her leash!"
"I want to go in the refrigerator!" (I caught that child in the refrigerator SIX times and I have NO idea what she got out of it. Pisses me off. There's not even anything good in the fridge. Except pickles.)


Then, we were outside catching fireflies. Mike had left about two hours before, completely worn out by the child, who he'd spent all day running after in the zoo. Please note, by this time, I hadn't ANY patience left. None. It was ALL gone.

In any case, she managed to catch one, and we put it in a jar for her to take home with her. Then, we caught one more each and put those in the jar. I told her it was the last time we were going to catch them and we went outside for a few more.

Every time she missed a firefly (it flew to high or whatever), Isabella would start to cry and stomp her feet because it got away. Her tantrums made her completely miss the 3-10 fireflies that were still around her.

Made me wonder: how often am I so upset by not getting something that I want that I miss
something else?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Is Courage Lost?


It's amazing how sometimes, random things, like books, television shows or sermons, coincide with things you're struggling with or dealing with. In this case, I'm watching "Little House on the Prairie" (while working) and Charles Ingalls has helped Indians receive safe passage, to the horror of many other white men in town.

When one of these men confronts him about it, saying, "You would shoot your own people?" Charles responds, "You're not my people. You're cowards."


Stand up for yourself. Seriously, if you have something to say to someone, by all means: say it. But don't be surprised when people are mad by it. When you upset people. But for goodness sakes - fight your own battles. Don't hide behind someone else and ceremoniously wash your hands. If you want something to change, change it.

Who hasn't heard, "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself?"

It's amazing how often people will let others fight their battles for them. And then, they're shocked when the ground is pulled from beneath their feet because others know who was behind it, and it ticks them off that they were deceitful. It's amazing how often when you let others do it for you, or force them to do it for you, it collapses your plan. It's amazing how often things don't work out the way they expect.

Take responsibility for your actions. And don't lie about them. Whatever happened to courage - or for that matter, common sense?

I suppose they've washed away with all the rest of our values. Quelle surprise.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tears

I've been trying to cry since Friday, so I've been watching stupid, girly chick flicks that make me cry. The only thing, none of them have worked. Until today. Now, I'm sitting around bawling at the movie that NEVER makes me cry because it's so ridiculously inane.

Sometimes... sometimes it's good to cry.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What is a Writer?

I read an interesting post today at www.writersdigest.com asking what a writer looks like. It made me smile because the responses were nothing like what I'd anticipated, for the most part. But it got me thinking: what does a writer look like? Do I look like a writer?

I suppose it's hard to say. Sometimes I'm in PJs (like today) all day. Some days I dress nicely and other days I throw on a pair of jeans.

One person, 'PaigeVonLiber' posted my favorite response:

1. Writers carry pens, pencils or markers-with a plural as we don't dare not have a writing utensil.
2. Writers will jot notes on anything that will hold an idea: paper, napkins, post-its, skin etc.
3. Writers all too often have a dazed out stare, as if they are seeing something no one else can see
4. Writers cock their heads to listen to snippets of other people's conversation; if a topic or story catches their ear
5. Writers make up invisible people to carry out the imagination’s plans
6. Writers drink-all manner of liquid both hot or cold- rumors have it sometimes even at the same time
7. Writers like snack foods as knives forks and such are hard to hold if one is writing
8. Writers dream weird stuff, they just may not say so or even admit it to themselves
9. Writers are artist whose medium are written words
10. Writers are like good characters, they come in many sizes, colors, ages, temperaments etc.


I definitely meet 1-5, 8 and 9 and 10 -but who doesn't meet 10.

It's interesting isn't it, to wonder if we look like people's perspectives/expectations for our chosen professions?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Subtleties of War

When I was four or five, my grandmother taught me how to play the card game, War. My whole family is competitive and grandma's no exception. She's told me recently that that day, while playing, every time she took one of my cars, she would cheer and yell, "It's mine! I'm winning! It's mine!" and snatch it out of my hand.

Needless to say, in order to survive in my family you nearly have to be competitive. I don't mind losing if it gives me a chance to learn, or if it's a new game, and even then, I'll try my darndest to win. I've been known to make some outrageous bids, all for the sake of winning.

Much as I enjoy competition, I don't like to be drawn into a game of War when I don't have any cards, but I can be subtle, and I like to hold on to what I have. I enjoy the upperhand. I am competitive and I don't like to lose.

So, bring it. That's right. BRING IT.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Big Kaboom

It's amazing the way some people are so determined to sabotage themselves. They might start out doing things right, but sooner or later, they do something, and even when they recover, it starts them down a whole line of one thing after another that they can't seem to overcome...

I guess there are three types of people in the world, and I know this is waaaaay over-simplifying it, but that's what I'm doing for the purposes of this post.
Person 1: Messes up, asks for and receives forgiveness, moves on
Person 2: Messes up, asks for and receives forgiveness, keeps falling into the same old pattern
Person 3: Messes up, doesn't ask for forgiveness.

I think the worst thing for people is when they use there problem as a crutch, or act like it's something they can't help: "It's not my fault I like sticking knives into people and removing their skin. When I was a kid, I stepped on a nail and now, I can't help it."

And it doesn't help when they haven't forgiven themselves. Sometimes, the matter can be resolved with the injured party, God will have forgiven them, but they can't get past it, and they dig themselves deeper in the hole and keep doing the same thing over and over again... where does it end?

Funny how people see these problems coming - on there own. But they don't do anything about it. Then, when something happens, in exactly the way they predicted, they wonder how that could be.

Here's to 1am phone calls from tearful, distraught friends. Melody, we might have a visitor sometime soon...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some Assembly Required.

My sister's here! I love my sister. She's cute and sweet and funny. And we're watching Scrubs. I was working and she's doing... something. Taking a test, I think she said.

I hate lawn mowers. I do. My lawn needs mowed. Badly. I know that. Yesterday I was finally able to afford one (and my boyfriend's Grandma can't give me one of their extras as it doesn't work).

Melody and I spent about thirty minutes trying to put it together last night. I know that barely sounds like an attempt, but we were stuck. The nuts and bolts and screws were wrong and not fitting and then, when we tried to attach the handles, they were too big. As in too wide. As in there was no way to get it to fit. Really, there isn't.

From now on, I'm not going to purchase anything, anything, unless it has no assembly required. Some assembly required? No. Not going to work. It's just not. Not unless I have a boy around who can put it together and magically, voila, I can use it.

Assembly required sucks.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

SCRUBS

I really can't think of anything more relaxing than chilling and watching Scrubs with my amazing roommate.

Yesterday, I bought seasons 1, 2 and 3 in preparation for the big day.

Long week. Mike left Sunday. I think I hate long distance. I mean, it's not been bad. We talk and text and email. I still don't like it.

Tons of work this week. That's probably a good thing, though, as it kept my mind off Mike being gone.

Really, I haven't much of interest to write about. My brain feels numb, but that's not interesting.

Ooh! Did you know, that every single episode of Scrubs - that I've looked at so far - starts with the word "My." I hadn't thought of that until last night, when I opened the DVDs and was bombarded with a sea of "mys."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pictures of Ali and the Backyard

The Puppy had been outside for some time when I realized I heard a disturbing sound: nothing. When Ali is quiet, it normally means she's doing something bad. So I snuck to the window and there she was, chewing on a stick, trying to shake it and kill it.









Not only did she look adorable, but I felt I needed to get a picture. So I stepped out to take some.
Of course, by the time I got there with the camera, she was being much less adorable. However, by then I was in a picture-taking mood. And some of them actually came out all right.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Give Me My Money Back!!!!

I like the Electric Brew. At least, I like the atmosphere and I tend to like the people who work there. It's a reasonable distance from where live and it's easy to get to - I don't need to cross 15. The coffee, however, is somewhat below sub par. And after today, I really have a bone to pick.

I had a long morning. The puppy and work and not a lot of sleep were getting to me. I wasn't all there, and I needed a break. Coffee sounded good, so I drove to the Electric Brew, where I planned to use my "Brew Bucks" for a nice frappe. Then, I realized I was hungry, so I decided to buy the frappe and some soup or a salad or a sandwich.

I ordered my soup and then my drink. Then, I decided I didn't want the drink just then. My soup was a tomato soup type deal and tomato soup and any kind of coffee just don't mix. Mind you, he hadn't yet prepared my drink, so I said, "Actually, I'm going to wait on the frappe and get it before I leave. Can I please have a glass of water instead?"

"Sure."

He goes to ring me up and says, "So I'll ring you up for the drink now."

"No, I'd rather you didn't. I might forget. I'll get it later"

"You won't forget." I can't really remember how he said it. I took it as a teasing response: "I know how much you like coffee, you couldn't possible forget it" type of thing. In any case, he told me that I had $2.66 left on my ten dollars, and I thought nothing of it. Again, I wasn't all there.

After an hour and a half of editing, during which I remembered that Melody and I had plans to head to Main Street Coffee in Nappanee, so I was glad I'd not purchased the drink. When I left there was a long line - eight or nine people - and I don't do lines well in the best of times.

Once out to the car, I pulled something out of my purse - I had to go to the bank - and there are the remainder of my "Brew Bucks," $2.66, just like he'd said. Out of ten. It was then that I realized what had happened. He'd gone ahead and charged me for the drink.

This ticks me off for several reasons:

1) I have a free drink card
2) I asked him NOT to charge me
3) I didn't get my drink!

So now, I don't know what to do. At the time I was too mad and knew that hurrying back would not be to my advantage. But really, what do I say. "You know how yesterday I told you I didn't want you to ring me up because I would forget my drink? Well, I forgot it, and you owe me a drink." Probably not good. A million other scenarios have played out before my mind. and that (which is more or less what Melody suggested) is the best one so far.

How do I insist upon getting my drink? I paid for it. I want it. He shouldn't have charged me. End of story.

So now, I ask you: any suggestions????

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

John Grisham's "The Innocent Man"












Melody bought John Grisham's book, "The Innocent Man" and I'm borrowing it from her. I only started it today, so saying I'm not far into it is something of an understatement.

As Americans, do we actually know what our rights are? Do we care? The innocent man. How many people have been charged with crimes they didn't commit? Whose fault is it - the officers interrogating them or those charged?

When I worked at Steak 'n Shake, I had several late-night conversations with the cops who came in to annoy us and left several hours later, having barely tipped at all. That's not the point. The point is this: Did you know that a police officer can file a complaint against you for up to six months after it occurred?

Did you know that if you invite a police officer into your home he/she has the right to search your house? One told me that you can say, "You look thirsty, why don't you step into the kitchen for the drink," which then limits the rooms the officer can search to the kitchen.

Does it make you look guilty to ask for a warrant? Maybe. But whether or not you have something to hide, that's probably the best way to go. Does it make you look guilty to ask for a lawyer? Maybe, but whether or not you committed a crime, it sure is a good idea to ask for one.

If you don't, you could end up like dozens of others: booked for a crime that you didn't commit.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Incompetence Anyone?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought that law enforcement officials were supposed to be, well, enforcing the law. You know, tracking down the people doing bad things to protect the people who aren't. The older I get, the more of my illusions are being stripped away.

Although some police officers seem to have all the time in the world to enforce things like volume control, others can't even seem to manage stopping people from trying to run others over.
On our way home from the coffee shop today, Melody and I took a slightly different route back, and saw at least four patrol cars patrolling the streets.

Even so, while we were crossing the street, a car was coming up to a stop sign. We were already in the road and as pedestrians with the right of way, continued across the street. The woman driver (yes, I KNOW it was a woman) stopped at the stop sign, and then SPED up, swerving from the center of her lane towards us. I'm not exaggerating.

Both Melody and I turned to get the license plate, checked the streets we were at and verified that we both thought she was a woman. We called the cops when we got home.

Even though Melody said she had the license plate number, the woman didn't ask for it. Her solution? That they'd put out a patrol car. Wait a second - we'd seen FOUR. What's one more going to do?

Needless to say, I think they should have someone with the slightest amount of competence answering the phone and taking/directing calls. But maybe that's just me.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Idol Gives Back: Appropriate Closing Song? And The Saddest Good-bye Ever

Did you see American Idol's "American Idol Gives Back" event? I have to admit, it was better than last year. Last year, they had Simon flipping out because he hadn't known about the poverty that other people lived with. How do you not know about that?

In any case, I have a questions: How did those of you who watched it feel about the contestants singing, "Shout to the Lord" at the end of the show?

I've read a lot of reviews pertaining to it, some people are angry it was on there at all, with one blogger writing:

"Think about that when you listen to the finale song “Shout to the Lord” which is one of the anthems of the born-again movement in the world — a movement which does not support contraception and is intolerant towards gays and people with HIV/AIDS.

"I am so offended. I am so angry. American Idol should have known better and not inject religious undertones to their annual fund-raiser. Saving children in Africa and New Orleans has nothing to do with the Christian god. What were they thinking? Bah!"

Another blogger wrote, "On the one hand it doesn’t surprise me that the producers would remove Jesus from the song. On the other hand, it shocks and saddens me they would stoop so low. On the program where Maria Shriver quoted Gandhi by name, American Idol was unwilling to let “Jesus” be said on national television. I suppose they were afraid to offend non-Christians or that they simply don’t agree with Christianity. Welcome to the culture of tolerance, where every religion is accepted except Christianity; welcome to the pluralistic relativistic society that welcomes all faiths except Scriptural Christianity."

My feelings are this: I love that song. I don't think it was appropriate to sing on American Idol, and I think it was less appropriate to change the lyrics. If you don't feel the lyrics as a whole are appropriate, don't be singing any of it. End of story.

The song, which has lyrics like, "My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like you," and "Shout to the Lord, All the Earth let it sing," and "Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name," is a worship song.

These lyrics are clearly praising God. They are meant as worship - not as a performance.

People who don't believe in God, who don't believe in his love and saving power, really shouldn't be singing them. Those are powerful lyrics. Someone whose heart doesn't mean those lyrics shouldn't be singing them with their lips.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm completely off-base. What do you think?


In other, rather more-light-hearted news:

Hello, shock: MICHAEL JOHNS went home? WHAT? How can that even be? He was... I'm shocked.
And now I'm yelling at my TV. Or... who knows. HOW? By far the best performer this year.

Melody's blaming the producers, and I think she's right. Last year on American Idol Gives Back, they didn't vote anyone off. So... maybe no one voted?
But then, I thought I heard Ryan say 31 million voters tuned in... maybe I'm wrong.

So, what you're telling me is Kristy Lee Cook, who sang horribly for the majority of the weeks, and Jason Castro, who completely BUTCHERED one of my favorite songs on Tuesday are still on? And Michael Johns is off. What is this world coming to?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Pregnant Man or TV Scam?

On Friday, Jan told me that she's been searching the internet endless, scanning the most baby news. One thing she came across? A pregnant man.

I'm skeptical, and I value good research, so I was a little wary, to say the least. So today, I did some research and came across several articles, but these were the best: Pregnant Man to Tell All on April Fools Day and 'Pregnant' Man Stuns Medical Profession.

When Jan told me about it, she led me to believe the man with both male and female equipment, but chose to become male and not remove his female equipment. Needless to say, that's not something I read in any of the articles I came across.

Instead, this man who was born a woman decided to become a man after falling in love with a woman. He's now married to someone else, who due to former complications, cannot conceive, so he decided to bear the child.

While a stunning decision, I can't decide how I actually feel about it. Is it immoral? I don't know that I'd go that far. Odd, certainly, and I personally don't commend the gay/lesbian/bi/transgender lifestyle, but does that make it immoral?

Legally, he's a man. Biologically, he's a woman. It's a curious situation. Part of me thinks we've crossed the line and are messing a bit too much with science and with technology. Part of me thinks we crossed that line ages ago.

Who'd have ever thought we'd come to this?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Friday Night Drinks

Friday night, Mike and I went out, as per usual, to Signature Lanes (Bowling Alley/Bar for Karaoke and games). We met up with a friend of his, Jan, who is currently 4ish months pregnant, really really cute and pretty much hilarious.

Needless to say, being pregnant, Jan wasn't doing any drinking, I nursed an amaretto sour for three hours and Mike had a pepsi and rum, after which he drank Pepsi. In other words, in a bar chock-full of people, we were the only ones who were sober.

And the bar was packed. Normally, Mike can sing five or more songs in the three hours we're there. This time, Mike sang four songs in the five hours we were there.

Before Jan got up to sing her last song (poor girl had to work Saturday morning), she took her third (maybe fourth) pee break of the hour and as she passed a table of (incredibly drunk) men, some dance songs were playing in the background before the final rotation, and one of them men felt it would be fitting to spank Jan.

Now, he did stop with his hand about an inch off her butt. But that's only because she turned on him and said...something. It was something about not touching her - ever, and not touching a pregnant woman - ever. To which the guy said, "You're pregnant?"

Mike and I were watching, and Mike's eyes about popped out, "Oh my gosh. He's... so lucky she didn't smack him."

About a minute later, one of the other guys at the table approached us, apologizing. Mike held his hands up, "You're not the one who needs to apologize. And we're not the ones he needs to apologize to."

While Mike was singing, Spanky came over to talk to Jan, accompanied by Apologizer, who we learned is Spanky's cousin. Wonderful. Anyway, Spanky, far from apologizing, came over to hit on her AGAIN, not realizing AGAIN that she's pregnant or that she's the same girl he tried to spank. Spanky walked away after being shot down. Spanky's Cousin came over and apologized - again. He also added he'd pay her five bucks to slap him.

Jan left soon after, and then it was my turn, of course. Mike had gone to use the restroom and Spanky comes and sits down by me, "Hi.I'm 'Spanky.'"
"Robin."
"Do you want to get married?"
"No."
He looked taken aback, and said, "What do you mean, no?"
"I mean no."
"I... I don't mean now. I mean like, ever. Isn't that, like, every girl's ultimate goal?"
"I guess."
At which point Mike walks in, squeezes my hand, and sits back across from me.
"Oh. Are you together?"
"Yes," said Mike, realizing that maybe I wasn't just talking to the guy after he'd apologized for the Jan incident, as he'd assumed.
"Oh..." Spanky's voice trailed off. "So... maybe another time, then." Then it was his turn to sing, thank goodness, and he spilled about half his beer on me as he stood. Wonderful.

He then proceeded to offend every single person in the bar. He talked about one woman's... body, and she just happened to be the sister-in-law and sister of a couple there, who happens to be the DJ's best friend - and she was dating someone there. Then, he started talking about his cousin's wife, and about how the bartenders must be mixing the beer with something because he "wasn't even tipsy."

Mike stood to talk to someone, and said, "Tell me if he comes back over."
He did, of course. "Hi. I'm 'Spanky.' What's your name?"
"I already told you my name."
"You did? Oh, you probably did. I forgot. I think you're gorgeous, though."
"Aren't I lucky."
"So, do you want to get married?"
My mouth about dropped to the floor. "No."
"Not ever?"
I was trying not to laugh - or slap him. I felt a hand on my shoulders. His cousins'. "Money's still on the table if you want it."
Spanky interrupted, "I just think... I think..."
Mike stepped over and Spanky's voice trailed off, "You're together. And you're bigger than I am. Sorry." He spilled MORE beer on me as he moved a chair down..
I looked at Mike and the two of us let. As we left, Mike told me Spanky'd be lucky if none of the men still there beat him up. He added, "Normally that kind of thing doesn't happen here. That's why I like it."

I nodded, there wasn't much to say.

I still feel like I can smell stale beer. Ick.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Taxes Come But Once a Year

My sister is in the Dominican Republic. My brother's in Italy. Where am I? In Illinois, working on my taxes.

It's funny how something that is only a big deal once a year is so stressful.

I hate taxes.

Not only did I spend seven hours on Wednesday and five hours on Friday working on them, but my mom and I spent another two hours redoing it. ALL of it.

The goods news about the two hours is it saved me $180 dollars that I don't have to pay. The bad news is I still owe a lot.

I hate taxes.

I don't think it would be so bad if I didn't think numbers were evil. Or if I didn't hate them. Or if... I don't think it would be so bad if I agreed with what the government was doing with the money. Sure, I think some things are good. But "No Child Left Behind?"

Yes! Let's pay the government to make American children less intelligent. As if they're not already stupid and behind, let's make the situation even worse.

I understand the government needs money, and I don't actually disagree with paying them. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

La Deuxieme Jour de Printemps... And there's Four Inches of Snow Outside

Dear Spring,

I understand that sometimes giving in to a stronger opponent seems worthwhile, like the fight isn't worth it; and I realize winter is a mighty foe.

But he musn't win! His reign must come to an end. And soon.

It's your territory now. Three days in. What's with letting winter back in? Melt the snow! Bring on the flowers!

Your faithful but cabin-sick admirer,

Robin

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Don't Blare Your Music Or You'll Be Fined

Last night, while my Mom and I were talking and watching the news following American Idol, an interesting report came on about Elgin, Illiniois a town about fifteen minutes from where I grew up. It turns out that Elgin police are issuing tickets to vehicles for playing music too loudly.

If the music can be heard from 75 feet away, the vehicle is towed and searched, and it's a $250 bond, plus the towing fee to get it back.

Evidently, Elgin has been having problems with noise violations.

In a way, I can understand the frustration of having loud noise played at night from cars - especially if the passing cars music and bass is so loud it shakes your windows and what not. On the other hand, I think it's a little bit ridiculous.

At night, I understand. People are trying to sleep or have a relaxing evening. During the day, I don't actually see why it matters, honestly.

I can also understand keeping your music to respectful limits while driving through neighborhoods. But when driving in the rest of the city, I don't see anything wrong with blasting your music as loud as you like. Who are you disturbing? Other drivers whose music is also loud, rivaling you to see who can turn it up the loudest? People who will be by you in a few minutes and won't hear you anymore?

I don't often blare my music. When I'm mad, I do. When I'm tired and trying to stay awake, I do. Other than that, I like my ears and want to make sure they work for some time. But all in all, I think this kind of an ordinance is ridiculous. I think the police have MUCH more important things to be doing - especially in Elgin.

Monday, March 17, 2008

You Know You're (A Student) In Paris When...


As promised...

You know you're a student in Paris when...


1- White out is your best friend; and you bought a bottle of it for every purse you own, and one to keep in the room - just in case.

2- You have a French-English and/or a French-French dictionary with you at all times.

3- Everyone can hear that you're mispronouncing the sound of "u" and "ou" and sees fit to try to correct you.


4- Your roommate can't understand you because you can't pronounce the difference between "u" and "ou"

5- Your professor has very specific instruction about the size, width, length, type. etc of paper your homework must be turned in on if you want it graded.

6- You're not sure you want it graded.


7- Grades are based on a scale of 20. 20 is NOT attainable. Only God can earn a 20. No one can earn a 19. 19 is the space in-between God and the professor. The professor (and only the professor) can earn an 18. 17 is the space between the professor and the student. Thus, 16 is the highest a student
can attain. Ever.

8- You avoid words with the letter "r." A problem when that's the first letter of your first name.


9- Class exposés are frequently given over alcoholic drinks. So much so, that your professor accuses the class of being alcoholic.

10- The sandwich man (the only French man in Paris who hasn't hit on you at least once) tells you the best way to learn Fr
ench is to date a French man and offers to go get one for you, adding, "Les hommes français sont très bon, mais pas très fidèle." (French men are very good, but not very faithful.)

11- You go to the cinema and understand everything except the jokes; which you only know are jokes because everyone else laughed.

12- You learn swears by watching TV. You learn that they're swears by asking someone what they mean.

13
- English is Weird.

Friday, March 14, 2008

You Know You're In Paris When...

Yesterday,I found a list made while in France of all the crazy things that happened in Paris. Some of them are more along the lines of "You know you're a student in Paris when..." so I have two separate sections.

You Know You're In Paris When...

1) A policeman glances at you, standing sopping wet in the pouring rain, looks you over, nods his head, then proceeds to stop traffic for you that you might finally cross the road.

2) A really scary guy tells you you're beautiful, and then proceeds to ask why you're not married, if you have a boyfriend, and where exactly you live in the U.S.

3) You don't look at a guy unless you're interested. In other words, you don't look at a guy, because if you do, he'll think you're interested.

4) People driving on the sidewalk honk at you to get out of the way

5) An old lady hits the car in front of hers, get out of her car, checks for damage, gets back in and does exactly the same thing.

6) It takes 20 minutes to leave because you have to kiss everybody goodbye.

7) You don't worry about being late because it's more than likely the other person will also be late, and they're thinking exactly the same thing about you.

8) It starts to rain and everyone promptly a-pulls out an umbrella, b-runs for the nearest store or c - backs against a wall - all at the same time.

9) It makes sense to list the price of everything in both Euros and Francs - even though Francs are not accepted. Anywhere.

10) When you enter the Metro expecting it to smell like someone just peed, but are surprised when it does, but not at all surprised to see someone peeing in front of you.

11) You see a man painted in green wearing a blue thong.

12) You see another man painted in green wearing a blue thong. This one is drinking a Heineken.

13) The first man painted green wearing a blue song notices you looking at him and thinks you're interested.

14) You find yourself eating peanuts, nutella and a clementine for breakfast and are not surprised.

15) You're surprised when there is meat and bread at a picnic, but not surprised by the champagne.

16) All around you, people are talking to themselves - constantly

17) You find yourself joining in...

18) You have addresses from people you've only met one time.

19) When a man asks you for help what he really wants to know is if you have a boyfriend

20) You tell yourself never to go somewhere, say something, or do something again, and within one week...


Tomorrow, look for "You Know You're a Student In Paris When..."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thinking in French

All day long, I've been thinking in French. I blame Michael Brown (not in a bad way) for his facebook note to me (which was, of course, en français). Earlier, while writing in French, I noticed something: my handwriting was neat and even. Flipping back a few pages, I realized that while writing in English, my language was erratic, large letters, small letters, loooong words squished up and short words made to take up more space than needed. Back to the French: even, pretty and neat.

There's only one explanation: in France, when my handwriting wasn't neat and perfectly legible, I had a professor who would mark a point off - for each word that was spelled incorrectly or which he felt was not legible. I remember one day where I rewrote a seven-page paper four times to get it looking nice (you wouldn't believe how many times I rewrote that). Using computers in France isn't allowed, as the French (typically) believe that by looking at one's handwriting, one can determine what sort of person the writer is: neat and organized, sporadic and unpredictible, sloppy and unkempt or whatever else.

It never mattered what my handwriting actually looked like in the states - except to me - as long as it was legible. Interesting.

La France me manque, Paris en particulier.