What’s with cheesy detective fiction sex scenes?

I’m an avid reader. I enjoy both print and digital… and audio (which I definitely consider as reading, even though I’m listening). Mostly, I listen to self-help books, like most other women her in their 30s. I don’t know what we’re looking for, but we won’t stop even when we find it.

Occasionally when I’m knee deep in self-importance or self-loathing, I need a break. And oftentimes, I reach for some sort of light-hearted fiction.

This time, a detective fiction. While mildly cheesy, these types of books keep my interest because they are easy to digest and can suspend my disbelief… with one very major exception: the sex scenes.

Why? Just why do they have to be soooo overly pornographic. Real sex isn’t like that! Even movie sex isn’t like that. Why must cheesy book sex be like that? When I’m sighing and rolling my eyes, it’s not believable.

For instance, can we stop claiming that virgins have orgasms their first time. It doesn’t happen. It’s never happened, since the beginning of time. I don’t believe you and you lost me. (talking to you, Grey books.)

Second, grown women don’t walk around in a “teddy” alone, in their apartments for no apparent reason. It’s uncomfortable. It’s a wonder women wear them at all since we got the right to vote.

Those are all the examples I can think of for now. Let this be a message to fiction authors everywhere. When it comes to writing about sex, do more research. They say it’s better to write what you know. (smirk)

You’re the asshole

Someone cuts me off in traffic.
A-hole! (I don't know why I censor this word when I'm alone in my car.)

The coffee at work has a drop left and the last person didn't start a new pot.
What an a-hole!

People talking, meeting and joking behind my desk all hours of the work day.
Shut it, a-holes! I'm trying to work.

Good morning? Good morning! Stop telling me Good Morning!
A-hole.

I don't want to talk to you. I don't want a hug. I don't want a fist bump. I'm here to work!
Annoying a-holes.

"If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole."
-Raylan Givens

This is a great reminder on perspective. That morning a-hole can impact my entire day and leave me with a horribly bad attitude. It makes me into an a-hole. If I let it roll, and move on. Those people who WANT to talk to me are no longer annoying a-holes, they are caring friends. (Sometimes caring friends need to know when to shut up, but that def doesn't make them a-holes.)

Me to Jimmy Johns employee: I'd like mayo on that slim.
Anonymous Jimmy Johns employee: It's procedure to not put sauces on these sandwiches.
Me to JJ employee: But, can you just do it? I mean, you have mayo back there, right?
Anon JJ employee: Well, no that's against our policy. I can give you mayo packets
Me to JJ employee: Policies and procedures aside, I have two hungry, messy little boys in my nice clean car and mayo packets will wreak havoc back there. They can barely open them! So I'll be opening 4-5 mayo packets while driving.
Anon JJ employee: I'm sorry ma'am that's all I can do.
Me: *pulls up to window*
Anon JJ employee: Here you go ma'am, we made sure to give you lots of mayo… Packets.

What a bunch of a-holes.

Toastmasters to a married woman.

"I'm tired."
"I have a headache."
"Didn't we just do this last week?"

When I first started going to Toastmasters, I wanted to go all the time! I'd go to Toastmasters every day if I could (maybe a couple times a day, if the mood struck).

In those first several months, I looked forward to Toastmasters meetings, I did extra practice on the side, writing and re-writing speeches until I was satisfied, I dreamt about Toastmasters.

Then I got comfortable. I went through the motions. I showed up for the obligatory meeting, feigned enthusiasm, but over the span of minutes, I was bored… then, without warning, I'd be called on. Suddenly, my heart would start racing, I'd stand up to speak extemporaneously, adrenaline pumping, sometimes I got a chill down my spine. And I'd leave feeling a renewed vigor. A zest for Toastmasters again. It was that good. Why don't I do this every day (a couple times a day when the mood struck)?

The next time someone proposed that I go to Toastmasters, I sighed. Ugh. I'm tired. I have a headache. I have too many things on my mind. Didn't we just do this? When the opportunity presents itself, why do I resist? I know it's good for me. I know it's enjoyable.

Then, I realized how familiar my excuses sounded.

Toastmasters is like sex.

Addiction

I’m an addict.

There I said it. That’s the first step, right? Admitting it? Well I admit it. Shamefully.

I can’t stop buying plants. I can’t stop deadheading, pruning and digging. I can’t. 

I thought I was done buying plants this year when I got 2 giant Crape Myrtles to flank my front sidewalk. There. Beautiful. Half off. And I’m done. 

It’s too hot to keep planting anyway. All that’s left at the nurseries are scraggly, half-dead close out plants. I’m done. My garden is almost full. It looks nice. I’ll maintain and won’t plant another thing until next year. Well. Maybe I’ll pull some perennials out of my pots and put those in the ground. There. Done. I did get these free succulents. I’ll put those in pots inside. There, that looks super classy. Now, I’m done. What else could there be. I’m done.

Lowe’s has 75% off all plants on Sunday?! What!?  I won’t go. I don’t need anything? Why would I go? It’s probably all dead stuff I don’t need to try to revive anyway. I’m avoiding Lowe’s. 

This morning I went to Lowes and bought 20 more plants for $30! Guess I better get to planting. If you think about it, I’m doing something good for the earth by planting more plants. My house looks nicer. I’ll get a nice tan. It’s hard work, which is fulfilling. This is a good thing. It’s not a problem… just one more plant.

 I can stop anytime I want.

I’m not an addict.

Contribute more than you criticize

“How might we…” is a phrase that behemoths like Google, Apple, IDEO and others swear will facilitate more open and productive brainstorming. In a group setting, it’s intimidating to throw out new ideas. It’s much easier to say no to everyone else’s ideas than to step into the arena and prepare for tomato-pelting. That’s why everyone does it. 

Except me. 

I’m an idea-giver. Ideas well up inside me until I feel like I’m going to explode, then I have to let it out. I have to say it. Embarrassing or not. I just do it. And it sets me up for all kinds of failure and tomato-pelting. But I don’t care. I do it anyway.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t criticize an equal amount. I criticize. Some might say, I’m judgmental. It’s human nature to be a little judgmental. It’s how we know to not go home with the creepy guy from a bar. It’s why we won’t let the pedophile babysit our kids. A little bit of judgment and criticism is ok. That’s not exactly the type of criticism I’m talking about. I’m talking about when we look at others’ creativity and say “That’s not good” or something else negative. 

When I hear phrases like “contribute more than you criticize” it reminds me of why I started this blog in the first place. I need to check myself regularly. Am I passing judgment and not putting myself out there to be judged? (Hides Audible review screen)

Among the 5 books I’m reading and the 3 books I’m listening to, am I writing? Am I creating? 
Am I contributing?

Freak!

That’s what Josh Hein called me as he slapped me on the back in the church parking lot on a cold night in 5th grade.

Freak.

What did that mean? How was I a freak? What were my freakish features? I don’t want to be a freak.

Those thoughts swirled through my head as I cried and twirled my hair around my fingers. My hair. That I’d labored long and hard to make “perfect” for that evening’s mass. My hair. That was incredibly difficult to manage. My hair. On top of my head. My freakish head.

Why?

That slap on the back changed the course of my night, and at least for the next few weeks (ok months). And, for whatever reason, maybe insecurity, maybe mildly traumatic, I’ve remembered that night from time to time. Why did Josh do that? I thought we were cool? I mean. Weren’t we cool? I’m certain it wasn’t because he “liked me.” (I hate that and I wouldn’t do that to anyone I liked).

I thought about that night most recently when I was picking up groceries at Walmart with my family. As I was loading, some guy hung out the passenger’s side of best friend’s ride (like a SCRUB, thanks TLC), and yelled “Nice **** for a little boy!”

I froze. I didn’t turn around. I was thrust back to 10-year-old Danielle– shy, insecure, proud of her ‘do that took hours to perfect. I’m 35 years old. I’m being called a freak. I shuttered. I got back into the car.

What did that mean? How do I look like a boy? What were my boyish features? I don’t want to look like a boy.

Those thoughts competed with my very adult thoughts of: Don’t let some dumb kid bother you. You’re a woman. You’re not a kid anymore. Let it roll.

And those thoughts competed with my friends’ thoughts of: He’s a bully. He’ll say anything to make himself feel better. He’s probably jealous. He probably likes you.

I choked back tears as I twirled my hair. My unmanageable, messy hair on top of my head. My boyish head.

I tried not to give this event a second thought but the thoughts kept creeping back up, third thoughts and fourth thoughts. I sought reassurance by telling this story to my close friends and I got what I wanted, unsolicited compliments and offers to “kick his ass.” It helped. They’re great.

I didn’t realize why it really bothered me until I matched this story up with something that happened 25 years ago. It was Josh. He was calling me a freak again. He was slapping me on the back and invalidating me. Years of growth, success, unabashed vulnerability and just plain life-living and here he was again, to bring me back down.

And it worked! Why? Why did it work?

Why do strangers with an opinion have so much effect on us?

Why do THEY make US feel like freaks?

Abuse punctuation for the right reasons

“It is my destiny to know people who abuse punctuation.”

I nearly spit out my coffee when I heard this line from “Hidden Bodies.” Caroline Kepnes sure has a way of developing a psychopathic murderer whose sense of humor aligns nearly perfectly with mine.

Joe Goldberg (said murderer from Hidden Bodies and YOU) was talking about his coworker and later landlord, who were so overly enthusiastic you could see the exclamation points flying out their mouths.

omg-exclamation-pointsNaturally, he’s extremely annoyed. I, too, am annoyed. Joe and I, we have a lot in common, less the whole vengeful stalker, killer bit. Joe and I also agree that it’s pretty difficult to hate someone who is that enthusiastic about nothing, about life.

I’m not the cheerleader type (shocking reveal, I know), and cheerleaders annoy me (equally shocking). But… sometimes you need that extra positivity on an otherwise mostly negative day.

I used to have a neighbor, I nicknamed him “Gipper” because he was always eagerly waving and shouting his obscenely friendly “Hi-diddly-hos!” It was almost surreal. I suspected he was some sort of serial killer (we still don’t know for certain). However, when he bounced around his yard with his 4-year-old daughter, I couldn’t help but smile at his ridiculous, annoyingly good parenting.

Over the years, I learned a thing or two from Gipper. Friendliness goes a long way and positivity doesn’t have to be forced… and it’s possible to use exclamation points for emotions other than anger.

Today, I welcome those who abuse punctuation. Five exclamation points in an email used to annoy me (no one is that excited about cookies). But now, it’s a little infectious.

Have a good week!!!!!

 

 

Is “busy” the only good excuse?

I didn’t work on this speech this weekend. 

That’s ok! You have 3 kids, you must’ve been really busy.

I didn’t go grocery shopping this weekend.

That’s ok! You were busy.

I forgot about that deadline.

You just have so many things going on.

I haven’t blogged in a week or so and I have no excuse. Have I been busy? Not really. Do my 3 kids require attention from me 24/7? Not really. In fact, I had several free hours over the weekend that I filled with light reading, heavy reading, working out and roaming around Target.
I wouldn’t say I’m too busy to do anything. I just dont’ want to.

I don’t want work on that speech, I’d rather indulge in a movie on Koty, or play board games with my kids, or do a mix of light and heavy reading. I slacked off and “busy” is not my excuse.

Lazy? Yes.

Different priorities? Yes.

I spend the weekend taking in everything I possibly could, from the beautiful weather to eye rolls from my daughter’s beautiful big browns; from a tutorial on comedy writing to George Orwell’s 1984; from Mighty Ducks to Sister Act; from the home section to the freezer section, I took it all!

It was relaxing… and I was consumed with guilt. 

I didn’t get milk (or EGGS!). I didn’t practice my speech. I didn’t write on my blog. I didn’t finish anything I started.

So today when I replied, “No, I didn’t really get anything done this weekend,” and my coworker offers up a classic “you were probably so busy” excuse, I took it. Shamefully. 

“Yes. That was it. I was just so busy.”

Busy enjoying my life.

March on! 

Today was a momentous day in history.

Nearly 3 million people (estimated)  participated in The Women’s March worldwide!

Many people (with countering political beliefs) may think this march was a hissy fit or some sort useless outcry. At first, I thought, what’s the point? Trump will still be president in the morning. Nothing will change.

I think I understand a little more now why millions of women and men – feminists – across the globe gathered to march today. And it’s the same reason I think many people voted for Donald Trump in the first place: fear.

Fear that our civil rights will be lost. (Among other things, of course)

As all election years are, 2016 was brutal between the right and the left. However, it seemed that more than ever, they were soooo extreme. Too extreme. I don’t think you could get more opposite than a bull-headed, feminist woman and a misogynistic man. I mean, I guess it’s possible but this was a lot to handle.

When my kids came home and told me things their friends (2nd grade!) told them at school, I was mortified. These were gory, specific things kids don’t make up, but things they overhear from adults. It’s scary to hear what untruths were being shared.

When Donald Trump won the election, many people felt betrayed. Betrayed that people we respected (respect) would vote for someone so crass. To them (us), it felt like, our peers/friends agreed with the things (all the things) he said/did. It hurt. It hurt because many of us thought we all agreed that we abhorred those disgusting, offensive things. Then, it was like we were Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed. Standing on that front porch all dressed up, and then pelted with eggs. We felt alone. We felt like failures.

But we were wrong to think that. Just because people voted for him, it doesn’t mean they share each and every one of his beliefs. I admit, I agree with a few things he stands for and even more now that the ridiculous carnival is (mostly) over. I think, we all value certain political ideals over others. And we have to weigh the importance of those values when we cast our ballots. Not everyone is as extreme as the candidate they vote for. 

So yeah. I’ve “gotten over it” and I’ve “accepted it.” He’s my president. He’s all of our president. 

Not all women who marched in the Women’s March are expecting something to happen. Yes, there are extremists. But many of us just want the reassurance that we are not alone. That we haven’t failed. And, that we won’t lose these rights because there are millions of us who will still fight to keep them, if they ever are threatened. 

We want to be fearless.

I’m going to quit my job and draw

Donnie and I were watching a Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates the other night. I saw it on our list but avoided it because sounded like one of those college-age, binge drinking, sleeping with everyone in sight style movies. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen American Pie. I thought it was hilarious. At the time. 

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe I have higher standards for movies now. I can’t even look at those American Pie actors without mentally rolling my eyes.

However… we were tired of browsing and settled on this one. Have I sufficiently convinced you that I don’t typically watch this type of movie? Ok then, we watched it reluctantly. And I’m shocked to say that it was hilarious. I actually put my phone down and got into the movie. Then we got to the end. Zak Efron’s character decides he’s going to quit his job and draw full time.

I lol’d. Ok. A lot of this movie was somewhat belieavable, but seriously? You’re going to quit your steady job and live with your parents and survive somehow on… drawing?  “Become a graphic novelist” to be precise. I love drawing. I’d love to make money from drawing. It’s just not realistic. In real life, we have to pay bills. Then, in our free time (if there is any), work on our graphic novels. It was kind of a quick way to wrap it up. For a man who is irresponsible and sketches in his spare time to now have a dream and a future (promising, of course).

Now that I’ve worked through this entire post, I’ve realized that maybe it’s not as unrealistic as I thought. I’m such a cynic. If you’re good enough, you can excel if you take that chance. Maybe I’m just envious. Envious that I haven’t taken a leap, or hardly even a step toward a creative dream like that. Envious that I wouldn’t have the guts to believe in myself enough. Envious that I don’t have Zak Efron’s abs. 

Maybe my initial reaction was only surface deep. I guess not all of us have the guts, the means, the talent, the drive to quit our jobs and draw.

But they’re doing it, why can’t I?

I was watching Logan play 7 year old flag football and loving every minute of it! But… sadly, they were losing.

Logan came over to me at half time to express his frustration (i.e. Started crying because he didn’t want to lose to his best friend’s team). He said, “It’s just not fair, the flags are hard to pull so they keep tackling us. I’m going to start tackling. If they can do it, so can we.”

This is strictly a no-tackling league.

Big parenting moment here. I live for parenting moments (well the easy ones).

I told Logan, “Just because the other team is breaking the rules, it doesn’t mean that you should.”

Logan said, “But it’s not fair. They are getting away with it and winning the game.”

So I said, “It’s not about being fair. It’s about doing what’s right, even when others aren’t. It’s not your job to make sure things are fair and even. It’s your job to do your best and do what’s right.”

This was an easy for Logan. He’s got a good moral compass. He knows what’s right and not right.

Now if only adults could learn this lesson just as easy.

Doers vs. Watchers

This morning I had a conversation with Anya (13) about consumers vs. producers. She shared a famous quote that she liked on Instagram, it’s been more of the same since she started using social media two months ago.

I told her she should consider taking some of her photos and interpreting famous quotes instead of simply, re-blogging (inside joke).

Anya: But Mom, that takes a lot more work.
Me: Yes, it does. But you dont want to spend all your time consuming because the world needs producers.
Anya: Wut?

Cue the whole meaning behind the name of this blog: elephant poop. Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant. Consume a little and then Produce and keep producing and keep producing. It’s good for your soul, it’s good for your skills and it’s good for the world.img_0775

But, knowing this, why do most people resist producing?

Anya said it. “Too hard”
But why is it hard? I can type words on WordPress. I can get my paints out and express myself. I can start a support group and get 630 members in order to grow the game of beach volleyball in Wichita, Ks (did that in one day, btw).

It’s hard because we’re scared. Watching other people make waves and try things is easy. We justify our not-doing-ness with excuses:

– I’m not good at that
– I don’t have time
– It’s dumb

It’s ok to be a consumer. Producers need consumers to be successful! But, we sometimes take even further measures and criticize those who are doing:

– That’s not going to work
– I’ll wait until I see proof and then I’ll try it
– That’s a terrible idea
– That’s not the way most people do it

It’s bad enough to make excuses for not doing. It’s even worse when you feel soooo guilty for not doing, not being part of something that could be so great (but yes, might fail), that you make others feel bad when they have the courage to be a doer.

The greatest innovators are always criticized with the reasons above and more! Yet they have the courage to keep innovating through criticism and failure. It’s what makes them great!

So… if you see someone who’s pooping like an elephant, inching out a narrow branch, trying to reach something new, taking a chance, failing (gulp), don’t put them down. Don’t tell them they will fail because others have failed or because you think it’s improbable. Encourage them. Support them. Because it’s hard enough standing on that branch alone without you shaking the tree.

You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

You is also illiterate, but… I choose to look past that part to see the message from the gut-wrenching, infuriating, inspiring movie, The Help.

I love how “kind” is in there. And it’s first!

I think we (I) spend too much time worrying about whether our (my) kids are at the top of their classes, the best on the soccer team or the fastest runner, first to tie shoes, first to learn ABCs.

We spend so much time and effort molding our kids into perfect, successful human beings that we forget about the human part.

Your kid may be the smartest kid in the class but I just watched him push a little kid out of the way, look back at the crying toddler and keep going. I don’t want my kids to be that way.

I won’t tell my kids “You is smart” because then they will think, “I know all I need to know and don’t need learn anymore.”

I’m not perfect though, in the past, I have focused a lot on grades and excellence in sports (nee every aspect of life). I’ve recently come to the realization (parents are always learning) that if my kids fail 5th grade science, it doesn’t mean they will become losers. It doesn’t mean they will be homeless, or worse, live with me until they’re 30.

I’ve started focusing on what makes them special, what makes them happy, what they work hard toward.

My son is below average in reading, but off the charts in math. I decided not to worry so much about the Cs he got in spelling and reading. It’s obviously not his thing. He will have to work at it, but I won’t set unrealistic goals for him in something that he already struggles with. That kid has a heart of gold. “You is kind” is his life’s motto. He’s got empathy for miles. Practicing empathy is not always easy, believe me, I know, so if kindness is your kid’s thing, I think he’ll be alright.

I know he’ll be alright because that kid has a heart of gold. “You is kind” is his life’s motto. He’s got empathy for miles. Practicing empathy is not always easy, believe me, I know, so if kindness is your kid’s thing, I think he’ll be alright, too.

The fact that I notice but choose to ignore the illiteracy of “You is kind. You is smart. You is important,” shows that I’m growing (as a mom and a perfectionist) and focusing on the very important message and not the delivery.

Also, watch The Help. It’s good for your heart.

 

I hate hate.

I hate my phone.
I hate kale.
I hate Justin Bieber.

What’s with us and carelessly throwing around the word hate? I honestly don’t think I could muster up enough energy to hate an annoying pop star.

I probably notice it more because, in my house, hate is a bad word. I implemented this “mom law” years ago because, frankly, I didn’t want my kids saying “I hate you.” or “I hate her.” or “I hate them.” It was to protect others and to protect them from saying something regretful in a moment of anger.

So when I see the word hate in the context of some mundane thing (like kale), it’s funny. It’s absurd. And, honestly, it’s warranted. Kale is disgusting. Kale is hateworthy.

But kale is a gateway hate subject. Bear with me. When we use hate to describe how we feel about hairy, bitter spinach, it’s easy. It doesn’t hurt anyone. But then we continue to make the word hate part of our vocabulary.

We talk about our phones or our internet. We hate celebrities because they are annoying, or popular, or successful. Still, no one’s getting hurt, right?

But as we get used to saying “hate” all the time, it loses it’s power to us. We turn our hatred from objects and inconveniences and distant figures to real people. That’s when people start getting hurt.

I hate that woman because she thinks she’s so perfect.
I hate that guy because everyone loves him.
I hate you.

This is what goes through my head if I hear kids say, “I hate cleaning the house.” or “I hate that movie.” I worry, that eventually, that hate will hit a person, and it will hurt.

Playing competitive beach volleyball: How old is too old?

This past weekend I played in a doubles beach volleyball tournament. Amazing right? It’s what I’d always dreamed of! Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved beach volleyball. Unfortunately, I live in the Midwest where there aren’t too many beaches, or low wind days, or beach volleyball players.

I spent so many hours begging, pleading my friends to give the sand a try. “You’ll love it,” I swore. Some tried and continued to play but most quit and went back to the indoor hardcourts, where the game is easier, more predictable and familiar.

gif-keyboard-8870400616303424519Not me though, I still kept trying. Year after year, at the end of every summer, I was upset that I didn’t get to play enough in the sand. Sounds like a child, I know. But it wasn’t the sandcastles I was after, it was the thrill of the game, the squishiness of the sand and let’s face it, I got to hit the ball a lot more.

Then something amazing happened, in December of 2015, an indoor sand volleyball facility was built. Just 25 minutes away from my house!

I created a Facebook group and endlessly promoted events. I’m helping grow the game in the Midwest because it wasn’t available for me in my teens and twenties. It’s an amazing opportunity for young volleyball players today.

We finally got a decent showing and regular crowd ready to play in the sand. One thing was a little off though. This regular crowd is at least 10 years younger than me. Any given day out on that indoor beach, I’m close to the oldest one in the group.

It’s an inner struggle each time I step onto the sandy court. Should I still be playing? Am I too old? How old is too old? I’m 34 and I can still play pretty well. Current AVP players are my age! Kerri Walsh is older than me! But these are just kids. I could be their mom (or a least their mom’s younger sister, the fun aunt?).

I remember playing with the old geezers (I’m sure they were like 30) and thinking that they were either too slow, too committed to old rulebooks or they wouldn’t let me play because I’m a woman.
too old
I think of those geezers when I step out onto the sand and look around. Innocent eyes, acne and french braids. I can’t help but feel like the old geezer.

But things have changed, or my perspective has. I’m not like those old geezers. Age is just a number. To me, it’s all in how you look at it… and how you behave. You’ll never catch me saying, “I’m too old for this or that.” At least not yet.

The moment we start playing, I’m the teacher. I’m the Todd Rogers. Yes. I am old among the crowd of budding volleyball players, but I’m still out there and I’m schooling them.

The time for my generation to rule the sand may have passed, but for now, I’m still Queen of the Beach.

The boys side of the gym. 

The mostly men side of the weight room is like a boys’ only club. It’s just understood that the men workout here and the women workout over there with all those tiny pink weights and a billion ellipticals. There are reasons for this segregation, men like to grunt and drop 400 lbs. of weight that shakes the entire floor and women prefer to not be gawked at while we’re lifting.

A few months ago, I decided to forget all that. I can hang. I reached back to my roots as a tomboy and decided I really wanted lift at the boys’ club. All the cool equipment is over there! I was done with Bosu balls and the inner thigh machine (you know the one).

Plus, I don’t care if the guys think I’m “not doing that right” or if they gawk or judge (I say to myself, very convincingly). I put my headphones on and queued my music to my Kick Ass Workout Mix.

Now, about 3-4 days a week, I’m 1 of 2-3 women in a gaggle of bulky men.

At first, I was timid to ask about using equipment and took up about 4 square feet of space. If a machine was taken, I would skip that set until the end of my workout. Now I stretch out my arms. I jump in on sets. I feel completely comfortable lifting way less than what most of the guys lift.

After a few months, I’ve realized it’s not so bad over there. There’s a bit of camaraderie among the men and I’m like their mascot now, the token female. I think they respect me for lifting with them. And I’ve gotten used to the earthquaking weight drops.

Girls can play hockey too.

I am a tomboy. As a girl, I always ran with the boys. Whatever they were doing, I wanted to do it too, especially if they told me I couldn’t (which they often did).

When I was 12, I asked for an Easton street hockey stick for Christmas. Street hockey was all the rage in my neighborhood and I was determined to join the boys’ little “league”. When I got the stick, I was so excited that I didn’t care that it was the Wal-Mart knock-off version. If I’m going to compete among the boys in street hockey, I had to start somewhere.

I roller-bladed to the street hockey cul-de-sac on the day after Christmas with my hockey stick in tow. I was ready to show them what I was made of. They made fun of my stick because it was “cheap” and “for girls” and consequently, so were my roller blades. I’m not sure how my blue Wal-Mart hockey stick was “for girls” but it didn’t matter, their comments only fueled my desire to prove myself.

Neither team wanted me.

These were my friends. The boys I ran around with. We played kickball. We played foursquare. We went to the drive-in with our families and ate brats on the curbs in front of our houses. It didn’t matter, street hockey was like Fight Club for 12-year-olds and the first rule of Neighborhood Street Hockey was that “Girls were only invited to watch, enamored.”

I begged to play. I demanded. It wasn’t until a kid had to go home, that they let me play (because the teams were now uneven). I was thrilled.

After enduring a hockey lesson from each of the boys, we finally started playing. No one passed to me. No one tried to steal the puck from me. It was like I was just skating back and forth for exercise (which is pretty good exercise if you think about it). I was getting frustrated. I decided I’d just steal the puck (which was extremely difficult with cheap Wal-Mart wheels that barely rolled. It was like gliding on the pavement with ski boots on, you know the ones you put on that attach to your skis? That’s what it was like.).

Breathless but determined; I finally stole the elusive puck from a slower kid. My team was in awe that I actually did something athletic and it had nothing to do with tumbling. The other team said I’d cheated. I didn’t care; I stole that puck fair and square. It’s not my fault the boy fell back and was crying, and maybe broke his ankle.

I like to think that my team was impressed by my courage and skill, but looking back now, I’m guessing they were just relieved I wasn’t being a “total girl”.

It got easier to join the “league” after that. The boys still fought over which team had to have “the girl.” (I have a name, you know). And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the best player out there but I definitely wasn’t the worst… and they knew it.

You know, Schwahmey, don’t you?

Crap. Is that who I think it —
Uh-oh. What’s she doing here?
She doesn’t work around here.
I hope she doesn’t see me.
I’ll look the other way and walk by quickly. That way, if she recognizes the back of my head, I could be all, “Oh I didn’t see you there.”
Now, book it.

Whew, made it.
Now, to the opposite side of the gym to workout in hiding.

I used to workout with my friend, let’s call her Schwahmey. Schwahmey and I met on a volleyball team and decided it’d be a great idea to workout together. At the time, I needed someone to keep me accountable and being new in town, Schwahmey needed some friends.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, we met at the gym to lift. One hour of squats, sumo squats, bossy-ness and trash talking. Yes. Trash talking. Schwahmey doesn’t like many people. I’m not much of a trash-talker (except right now I’m just as bad! Ugh). Anyway, hindsight, it should have been a red flag when she told me that she’s “so glad to meet a girl who isn’t a B.” But, I thought I’d give her a chance anyway.

After months of working out and playing volleyball together, Schwahmey really started weighing me. We weren’t compatible. Workouts weren’t fun. I was stressed after leaving the gym. And, I’ll admit, a little pissy too. Then, I switched volleyball teams. I was going back to my old team and Schwahmey wasn’t coming with me.

As we got busier at work, we started slacking on our workouts a little bit. Seeing each other at volleyball was excruciatingly awkward.

We couldn’t seem to connect with the workout times. I’d force myself to invite her and she’d stand me up. It was over. And I think we both knew it. I felt guilty. She was pissed. Donnie was relieved (he didn’t care for Schwahmey too much).

Then. She found my hidden workout space. I see her. With a new Danielle. Bossing HER around. Telling HER what to do. I said “hello” as they walked by. Schwahmey gave a fake smile that could freeze a urine stream. I watched them walk away. Glad it wasn’t me. New Danielle seemed way more suited to Schwahmey’s personality.

Blockhead.

I’ve hit it.
I stubbed my toe.
My knee is bruised.
My nose may be broken.
My mind is blank.
I hit writer’s block.

What’s on the other side?
I bet it’s something wonderful,
With imagery and iambic pentameter, and
Descriptive language that disguises reality.
I bet there are kittens and babies…
And maybe, maybe I ought to just go to bed.

What would it take for you to cheat?

Last night I watched one of my friends (more like “acquaintance”) cheat to win a volleyball game. And, believe me, it’s not the first time.

Then I thought of times I’ve seen other friends cheat. In fact, cheating happens a lot in rec volleyball. The primary reason is because there are no refs. No one to keep you honest but your own conscience.

Let me make one thing clear first. This is rec volleyball. Which means, if you cheat and no one calls you out, it doesn’t mean no one noticed. And, if you cheat and someone DOES call you out. The caller-outer “cares a little too much about this game” and needs to “calm down” and “stop being an ass” (after all, it’s only for a t-shirt).

Easy ways to cheat are by making “faults” and not admitting them. Faults include: touching the net, calling a ball “out” when it was clearly “in” but you were the closest so you have the final call, double-hitting the ball, lifting, carrying, or throwing the ball, consistently being out of rotation… the list goes on. It’s pretty easy to cheat.

So back to last night. My friend was at the net across from me. I rotated around, she did not. For her own reasons, she stayed in her base position. It was obvious to me because I was watching her. For a whole game, my conscience (and let’s face it: competitive side) wanted to call her out. But I knew the results of this action: bitterness, more cheating and ultimately fighting for no reason. Is it worth it? It IS rec volleyball.

Countless times, I’ve seen my own teammates not call their own net violations, lifts, or double hits when the game got tight. I’m adamant about being honest when it comes to my own mistakes. My conscience and my actions are so close they are practically married.

So, because of that, I’ve even called some of my teammates out, which would LOSE us the point. But I don’t want to win like that. So clearly this is not about the level of volleyball we’re playing or what’s at stake. Is it? It’s about personal ethics and whether you will do the right, honest thing, when no one’s watching, even if it means losing.

I’m no critic

I used to want to be a critic. Food, movies, art, anything. I mainly wanted to do it so I could experience new things and write about my experiences… and possibly get paid for it.

That was before I realized that being a critic would be a terrible career choice for me.

Here’s why:

1. Critics don’t create anything.
There’s a lot of consuming and not a lot of pooping going on here. All they do is feed on others’ innovation. Tear it apart or build it up.

2. Critics are jerks.
Ok, maybe not always. But a criticism is a very personal thing to the person who’s art is being criticized. And to them, critics are jerks.

3. Critics are subjective.
Annnnd, they should be. I mean anything they say is opinion anyway. When choosing a Redbox movie to rent, I definitely don’t see how many stars or tomatoes the movie got. Some of the worst rated movies are my favorites. So, basically to me, an opinion from some critic means almost nothing.

4. Critics have an easy job.
In essence, sit back and write your opinion (as eloquently as possible). That’s it! The only chance critics take is having an unpopular take on something. Basically, anyone can do this job. Thousands of reviews on Amazon proves that point.

5. I’d rather be criticized.
As difficult as it is, I’d rather be criticized; because it means that I took a chance on something. I’ve created something worth being criticized.

In an auditorium, the easiest place to be is in the audience.

I’m glad I’m not a critic (well, professionally).

Multi-tasking: Less tasking than you think.

Making a grocery list:

Let’s see, milk, eggs, bread… do we need peanut butter. Yep. Are we out of hummus? Let me check, hm. This fridge is embarrassing. I’ll just clean this shelf. Well, I can’t get it clean enough, I’ll just take it out and scrub in the sink. Well shoot, I’m out of Dawn, put that on the list.

“Anya, can you get Riley? I’ll get his bottle ready.”

Wonder what we should have for dinner? I’ll put something in the crockpot now.

“Logan, stop touching your sister.”

I’ve got to get this shelf back in the fridge. WTH, how was this even in there? This is impossible. It will not fit. Oh, light bulb out in the fridge. I’ll go get a new one.

Hm, this closet needs tidying.

Crap, I forgot about my roast searing, welp, it’s burnt. I just scrape off the burnt parts, the crock pot will take care of the rest, hopefully.

“Logan, really? Just keep your hands to yourself.”

“Donnie, can you come put this shelf in? UGH!”

Ew! Maggie just puked on the floor again. “Who’s giving her table food?!”

Shoot, it’s 11, I need to get to the store before Donnie has to leave for volleyball. Back to my list, bananas, garlic, oh forget it, I’ll just wing it.

“Anya, did you study for your vocabulary test? Let’s study real fast.”

This is a common weekend scenario at our house. This is me, multitasking. Really, it’s a lot more multi than tasking. Half the stuff I start, I don’t finish because other tasks are screaming for my attention and I never get back to it.

Turns out though, “I’m not alone! It’s not just me! I don’t have ADD and I’m not crazy!”

Get this book, guys. Your wives will thank you. (or me)
Get this book, guys. Your wives will thank you. (or me)

This is very common for women in general (according to the Understanding Women workshop I’m currently listening to). Our environments are screaming for our attention. We notice things that need to be done. This is why, in my case, I’m especially cranky when things are out of place at home. I’m actually not a very neat person, so I didn’t realize that this was a cause of my crankiness until now. I AM noticeably happier and less stressed when my house is clean and my bed is made. It’s like there are fewer tasks screaming for my attention and I can chill out a little on the multi-tasking.

It’s easy to say, “I’m a working mom, I’m busy, There’s a lot to do and that’s why I’m stressed.” But why not get tasks done with less stress? To do that, I (or Donnie) have to quiet all those other annoying tasks. This week Donnie cleaned the house every day and made sure stuff was picked up off the floor (he’s good I know-I think it’s because our anniversary is tomorrow). So, because all of that was done, I was able to focus on the kids, their homework and just enjoy them (with less stress) for the few hours I get with them every day. Anyway, clean house = happy, less stressed Danielle.

Oh! It also helps to make lists. Not grocery lists. To do lists. I have to force myself to focus on one task at a time so I don’t start out mopping the floors and end up outside cleaning the gutters while my mop water is sitting there, getting cold on a half-finished floor.

With multi-tasking, eventually, I do get things finished. For example, I got groceries the other day. Mission accomplished. But when I have help to quiet all those other screaming tasks, I’m able to focus on one (or a couple) task at a time, stresslessly (yeah, that’s a word now).

Time: It’s still there.

“I don’t have time for that.” is what I was going to say tomorrow when I didn’t have anything published. But here I am, typing away, with all the time in the world.

And, actually, time is always there. I. always. have. time.

I could’ve blogged earlier today at lunch but I worked instead. (on my Fantasy Football team. It’s been sorely neglected for a while)

I could’ve blogged when I got home but instead I packed a sack dinner for Logan, 2 yogurts and a bottle and took the boys for a walk and to the park for a picnic. (see how I worked exercise into that?)

Could I have blogged when we got back? Sure! But, I decided to feed Riley the rest of his dinner because we had to leave the park early due to a… well… emergency Logan could not address in public.

After that… time to blog, right? Nope. Donnie’s playing tonight. I HAVE to watch. This is a big game for him and I want to be supportive (ready with feedback). With the computer occupied by the volleyball game and the kids occupied by other things, and I, fielding frantic volleyball game texts from my mother in law (I certainly couldn’t ignore her), this wasn’t the right time to blog.

Kids in bed.
Game over.
15 minutes before I need to feed Riley his late bottle (he’s going through a growth spurt and needs a LOT of extra food).
30 minutes until Donnie calls for the post game recap.

Now. Now’s the time to blog.

Crap, I forgot to eat dinner. I’ll eat while I blog.

Rageaholic

“Get your head out of your ass before you type an email” is the first thing I thought this morning.

I know it’s not the best way to start a Friday. But neither is an annoying email dancing around the truth with big words used incorrectly and an end that promises to be open and honest, when in fact, the entire message was vague and opaque, to say the least.

You know that person.

The one who squints when he looks in the mirror.

The one who couldn’t see the writing on the wall if the words were painted with his own fingers.

The one who blames the dog when he drives a car through the front window of his own house.

The one who continues to cycle around to the same mistakes over and over and when there is no one left to blame, he blames mental health because admitting you’re a fuck up would be as hard as, well, admitting you’re a fuck up. No one wants to do that.

These people enrage me.

I’m listening to a book recommended to my friend Blendra by Zipop and it’s teaching me a lot about who I am. People like the figment of my imagination above (or is he?) really, really get under my skin.

In this book, the author taught me that those people – the ones I can’t stand to be around, can’t listen to for another second, can’t approach, can’t look at, can’t think about without being filled with rage or anxiety – are not the problem.

I. am. the. problem.

And while those people may actually be royal fuck ups, my inability to deal with them, and not go berzerko, may be something I need to work on. So that’s what I’m doing. This is just one of the steps I’m deliberately taking toward badassery.

I took that rage I felt when I read the email, swallowed the hate words I save only for him, and responded with the facts. And! It did not ruin my day. Actually, (and it’s weird to say this, but) I feel like an adult.

Is a tattoo part of the fantasy?

Remember when I said I ignore the news?

This weekend I (organically) learned about 3 current events: devastating floods in Colorado, super sad shit in Syria and this Fantasy Football League.

Now, I don’t want you think I’m trying make light of the sad things going on in the world. I’m actually doing the opposite. I’m making heavy of them (if that’s a thing). In other words, I won’t write a blog post about them. Yeah, that sad.

This Fantasy Football League story, however, is a perfect light-hearted topic for the recent blogger’s-blocked Elefant Poop.

You probably don’t know this about me, but, I’m in a Fantasy Football League. I may be winning (I really don’t know). Maybe I would care more if we played like this Fantasy Football League. THIS is no ordinary Fantasy Football League. You see, these guys play NOT to lose because the loser has to get tattoo of the winner’s choice. That’s right. If Eli Manning throws a Hail Mary pass that’s neither Mary nor Hailing, someone may get inked! The only control the loser has is the choice of location.

Three years strong (yes it’s lasted 3 years), the Tattoo League has resulted in some rather good losers, relatively speaking. Each player has to sign a contract before the “season.” As it should be, the first loser was the  idea-man. He now has a unicorn kicking a field goal adorning his upper thigh.

It’s funny to me that ESPN picked this up. Is it real? Or is this just fantasy? (Sorry, I had to). It’s totally real by the way.

While a tattoo is a pretty significant commitment to a bunch of football players in a fantasy game (yeah, it’s pretend), I say raise the stakes. Short of banana-hammocks, shorty robes or during “intimate” moments, no one is going to see that upper thigh. Put the injured Care Bear in a prime tattoo spot, the shoulder. Or better yet, slap it across your forehead. Now, that’s news.

The lost art of complaining

I love to complain. I think it’s subconscious, though. I don’t look for things to complain about or look for reasons to complain. Yet, somehow, I find myself in a conversation surrounding negative points of view (most of them mine). I actually, consciously try NOT to complain. Sometimes, though, it’s impossible.

I’m a lot better about it than I was in high school (and college… and early motherhood… and maybe the past week.) I really try to see the positive side of things and I think I do it pretty convincingly. When I’m really on, you’d think rainbows shone out my butt.

Sometimes, though, I really enjoy complaining. I guess you could call it a guilty pleasure. I just miss those days in the hallways at school complaining about a strict teacher or at a bar just bitching about the $10 beer or not enough cheese in the pepperoni rolls. Those jerks couldn’t make pepperoni rolls to save their lives.

I feel like I have been sooo thankful, so positive, so blind to the obvious opportunities to complain that are surfacing right before my eyes! Am I growing up? Am I turning into an adult? Maybe it’s time to put my complaining aside and try not to sweat the small stuff.

Sometimes, though, the itch is so unbearable I can’t stand it.

“GAH!! I freakin’ hate this stupid song on Pandora. I can’t think through this pointless post! Stupid Pandora ALWAYS plays this song! Thumbs down! Does that even mean anything to you anymore, PANDORA! SHIT!”

There. I feel better now. Heard tomorrow’s supposed be a nice day!

Hannah Mountana

I don’t watch the MTV VMAs. I think I’m too old? No, actually I never watched them. Not cool enough? Yeah, that’s probably it.

Or maybe it’s just abominable dross like this that veers me toward more quality programming, like Orange is the New Black or How I Met Your Mother. I’ll be honest, I never really gave the VMAs a chance. But, with crap like this, I’m glad. The best part is the Smith family’s expressions.

screen shot 2013-08-26 at 12.00.15 am

It worked Miley, you caught my attention. In fact, I cut YouTube music video time short and handed Anya a book. So, thank you for that.

P.S. Don’t worry, I didn’t expose my kids to this awful, desperate, attention-getting publicity stunt. My kids watch music videos and pretend they are the singers. We were watching the Some Nights video. A little war-style blood and gore beats making a baby with a Beetle Juice wannabe on stage any day.

I prefer not to shower

I am terrible at girly stuff. I don’t like girls’ night. I never wore ribbons in my hair and I didn’t plan my wedding before I got engaged. When it comes to things like baby showers, I usually try to come up with a really good excuse and an even better gift, which I will mail. I just don’t feel comfortable. The games are stupid. I get bored with the “oohing” and “awing” of every. single. gift.

So, when my good friend invited me to her baby shower, I thought long and hard before declining. But, before I could, she text me, “Donnie told me you were gonna make it to my shower. Yes!” Dammit Donnie (he’s always trying to get me to be a better friend).

When I walked in the door of the shower, a random group of women sat staring at the door in silence. How she was able to get such a big group of women in which no one knew each other is beyond me.

I cracked a few jokes to the lady next to me but she just kept focusing on comparing how SHE looked when SHE was pregnant and how HER baby was much more active. Blah blah blah.

I was starving but the food table was off limits until games were played and presents were opened. Why do people do that?? When we finally got to eat, I was wondering if the fruit bowl and cake were going to multiply like fishes and bread. That didn’t happen so I sat down and enjoyed my grape and cake sliver.

To conclude the shower (at least I’d really hoped this was the end), we went around the circle to give the mom to be some parenting advice. When it was my turn, there had been about 8 “Love him. Just love him.” And at least 4 “Lots of hugs and kisses!” So when it got to me, I panicked and blurted out, “Make sure you point his little pee pee down after you change his diaper. Fewer wet pants!”

I heard a few gasps and then silence. I think next time I’ll just mail the gift.

Allergy medicine or child sedation?

Stupid allergies. Stuffy nose, ear ache. I’ve had a sore throat for a month… and a HALF. Doc told me to take Benedryl at night before bed. She made the comment, “Usually I don’t recommend sedation but you’re an adult and this will help during all this rainy weather.”

So I grabbed the packet and read the warnings, looking for something like “instant sedation.” (I don’t take medicine too often.) I came across this:
photo__8_

Do people really do that?? Not to be all judgmental but, yeah I’m judging you, people who sedate their children! There’s got to be another way (like, I don’t know, parenting).

Well, I guess at least one person has sedated their child with Benedryl. That’s scary and it made me a little sad. But not sad enough to not take any. I mean, I’d had a sore throat for a month… and a half, I was desperate.

How to ref a recreational volleyball tournament

I’m a professional volleyball ref. Professional ref being defined as “one who gets paid to ref.”

I’ve reffed a particular recreational volleyball tournament every year for the past 5. Actually calling it a recreational tournament is a gross overstatement and way too kind. Other possible names could be:

  • Kiddie Baby Whiner Volleyball Tournament
  • Drunken Angry Monkey Volleyball Tournament
  • Unathletic Awkward Arrogant A-holes Volleyball Tournament (like the alliteration in that one?)

Or simply…

  • Let’s See Who Can Get Hurt First Tournament (no actual volleyball is played)

The theme of this year’s tournament, “If Phil Dalhausser can do it… I can!”

Anyway I digress. Now to the how to!

  1. Put your bitch face on. No one likes you. Especially the really bad players. They think you are out to get them and will make comments like “Of course you would call that on me!”
  2. Bring ibuprofen and lots of water. The gym will likely be very hot.
  3. Expect a whistle sounding in your ear for the next week.
  4. Don’t expect to have any breaks for 10 hours. There are many, many questions and many over-arcing generalizations about the game of volleyball like “You have to be tall for this and I ain’t tall.”
  5. You are there to make sure no one gets in a fight and that no one gets hurt (the latter is inevitable so don’t beat yourself up if someone gets hurt about every 10 minutes).
  6. Never change your call. You will lose credibility. Even if someone walks up and asks why you didn’t call that lift and supports her question with “I coach club” and you think to say, “Coaching club does not an expert make” but instead you tell her that you’re calling to the level of the game. To which she winks at you and agrees that none of these fools know how to play (when really, she’s one of the worst).
  7. No matter what everyone says, you are not a “nazi” because you blew your whistle. (I’m not even sure what nazi volleyball would look like).
  8. Just because someone turns their back doesn’t mean they are done talking to you. They will continue their argument with you as they walk away. In fact, they will say more gutsy things with their back turned.
  9. Expect to hear the same corny, unfunny jokes over and over. Don’t worry, you don’t have to laugh. In fact, not laughing maintains your no-nonsense authority.
  10. Never, ever change your call.
  11. No matter how many times you explain the rules, people will always get mad when you call something and say, “I wish you would have told me that.”
  12. When someone plays well, the others will get mad and make comments like “this is supposed to be fun” and “what’s his problem?”
  13. If every game is played to 21 all day, you will still have people asking during the last game, “What are we playing to?”
  14. Yell out the score after every point. If you don’t, they will ask. They can’t count and they can’t yell out the score themselves. Trust me, I’ve tried to get them to do this.
  15. Never change your call.

I could probably write these tips all day, but I doubt any of my readers are crazy enough to ever, ever ref a recreational tournament of any kind. So technically, this post was for entertainment purposes only (well, I’m entertained).

P.S. If you do ref a recreational tournament, these tips are legit. Take them very, very seriously.

Longest day ever

6:00 a.m. Riley wakes up early.
9:00 a.m. Take Donnie to ER because he can’t move due to debilitating back pain.
10:30 a.m. Pay $150 ER fee. (Ouch)
11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ref 3 volleyball tournaments to earn back money spent at ER.
10:30 p.m. Scarf down dinner.
10:31 p.m. Rum and coke.
10:35 p.m. This blog post.

More tomorrow. Too tired to continue thinking.

What I didn’t know I wanted to be

Last night Anya helped me write a super awesome version of a Shel Silverstein poem. You can read it here.

As I was explaining iambic pentameter to Anya (we just tried to match syllables and rhyming words), I could see a teeny, tiny little spark in her otherwise dirt-brown eyes. She smiled. “I’ll make my own poems! I’ll put them on my blog!”

Suddenly, I remembered my first writing experiences. I’d written poems day in and day out. I forgot about that! I wanted to be a poet! I actually had a poem published in a book when I was 8 or 9, I think. I also wrote short stories and illustrated them in my private journal.

I specifically remember thinking I wasn’t good enough at writing poems and short stories. It was probably due a bad grade (bad being not an A). So I forgot that dream and wandered around clueless about what I wanted to be when I grew up. All that wandering lasted years, decades even. I kept switching and settling on more “general paths.” Surely I’d be good at something eventually.

And eventually I discovered my passion (and knack) for writing. Or rediscovered I guess. Here I always thought I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but really, I knew all along. I was just afraid to go after it.

Excuses

“I cannot write on my blog tonight,”
I said after an internal fight.
I have allergies; a sore throat,
An ache, a rash and stomach bloat.
I shouldn’t have eaten that last french fry,
That burnt bacon smoke is stinging my eye.
My skin feels incredibly tight,
I’ve counted seventeen bug bites!
And there’s one more–that’s eighteen,
Today someone said I was mean.
My legs are sore–my feet are raw–
I just got scratched by a paw!
I cough and sneeze, my eyes are tearing
The kids are doing too much cheering.
My back hurts when the phone rings,
And yes, my right eye still stings!
I’m dehydrated.
It’s overrated.
I ate too much at dinnertime.
I think I want some more key lime.
I lost my password, my fingers hurt,
My finger nails are chock full of dirt.
I’m locked out of my house,
I spilled tea on my blouse.
I got stung by a bee,
Hey, my time is not free.
I have nothing to write, my life is boring, no motivation
I have a hangnail and I’m pretty sure it’s a staph infection.
Wait-what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say this blog post is pretty good?
K… I’ll go watch Boys in the Hood

This poem is a tribute to Shel Silverstein. I memorized his poem Sick for my first public speaking engagement in fourth grade. He was my favorite poet at the time (maybe the only poet I’d heard of) and I wanted to be just like him.

T25: The T stands for “F you”

After a successful stint with INSANITY, Donnie and I started doing to T25 a few weeks ago. We decided it was too difficult to do 50 minutes of insane cardio every day, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” If you’re not familiar with INSANITY, it’s basically a workout for college sprinters/basketball/football players. Luckily Shaun T (creator of INSANITY) made a shorter, more convenient workout called Focus T25. I’m not sure what we’re focusing on, but if I had to guess, I’d say hamstrings because that is what hurts the most right now.

Focus-T251

T25 is 10 weeks, 5 days a week, 25 minutes a day of nonstop cardio, lunges, pushups, burpees, squats, planks, jabs, etc. No breaks. Basically, it’s a hellacious 25 minutes of torture that seems to last at least an hour.

At first we thought it’d be easier because it was shorter than INSANITY. Nope! It’s just as hard. It might even be harder. Either that, or I’m super out of shape. It takes me a while to warmup and about halfway through I’m dripping in sweat and wishing it was over.

Week 1 we did workouts on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday were busy nights and then Friday came and we thought, “Let’s not workout tonight and start over again on Monday.” So we did.

Week 1: Part 2 was more successful. We made it all the way through, with burning calves and aching hammies.

Week 2 was alright. I skipped one day because I played volleyball all night and by the time I got home at 10 pm, I was not feeling like doing a 25-minute workout.

Week 3: I did the workout Monday and Tuesday. Went on a bike ride Wednesday and justified no workout. Played volleyball Thursday, no need to workout. Walked 3-ish miles on Friday (75% humidity) with the kids (which felt like 10 miles)… no workout.

Week 4 starts today. I’m really feeling guilty so I’m going to force myself to do the workout.

It’s a lot of work staying in shape, but there are results to be had so I can’t quit now!

 

Editing; it’s all in my head.

The other day I was texting someone. One of her texts contained a misspelling. She sent the corrected version of the word with “I wanted to correct this word before you did.” I had no intention of correcting the misspelling. In fact, I don’t think I have EVER corrected her spelling or grammar.

I NEVER correct anyone’s grammar. (Except at work where editing is totally my job.)

This is not the first time someone has said that. People always think I’m going to correct them. Just because I write and edit for a living doesn’t mean I’m going to edit daily conversations. It’s rude. And I prefer not to be rude. To me, offering unwanted grammar advice is belittling. It makes people feel stupid. I don’t like making people feel stupid (unless they wage grammar wars, then it’s game on).

I’m not that person who says, “Don’t you mean you’re doing WELL?” after asking someone how she is and she says, “Good.” I’m not even the person who answers with “well” when people ask me how I am. I think it sounds pretentious. I know it’s right. They know it’s right. But I just don’t like it and I feel awkward saying it.

So then, why do people always think I will correct their grammar? Just because I enjoy editing does not mean I’m going to go around correcting everyone’s grammar so they don’t annoy me with their poor grasp of syntax. I have manners.

Of course, I can’t say the same for what’s going on in my head.

 

Who’s really missing out?

I just turned down another offer to go out this weekend. This one was to play pickup volleyball at a local watering hole. I said, “No thanks. I’ll be sitting at home, sad that I’m not playing and feeling like I’m missing out.” Not really true, but it made her feel good. The truth is, I’ll be at home with my family.

If Donnie and I were to play tonight, I’d have to get a babysitter and those are pretty hard to come by. We’ve worn out Grandmas and we’re already asking my sister to watch the kids on Sunday.

It’s difficult to do anything that’s not “family friendly.” It feels like we are constantly asking for help, here and there and three days next week. And if we’re not, we’re just “missing out.” Eventually, our old friends have stopped asking us to go out. We’re not really a big part of the group anymore.

Sometimes, it bothers me. I do miss the days when we could come and go as we pleased. And, I know those days will come again. I’m in no hurry for them. Even though we sometimes feel tied down, I still love it. I love spending time with my kids.

And when I see all the Facebook posts capturing “Heaven on Earth” and “I got my two loves: volleyball and beer” with a bunch of friends, I sorta laugh to myself and think, “They don’t even know what love is.”

 

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Subway’s New Junk Sandwich

I saw this story about Subway’s new junk sandwich today. If you hadn’t heard, basically a guy put his junk on a subway loaf and took a self portrait and posted it on Instagram and Twitter.

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This gives a whole new meaning to “Meatball Sandwich”.
Are those really sprouts?
Is this how they measure the 6-inch?

But seriously, what is the deal with people tampering with fast food and documenting proof on the Internet? Remember the Dominos story?

The guy obviously wanted to get fired. What kind of “Sandwich Artist” is he?? I mean. I bet he didn’t even have a food handler’s license. Funny thing, I waited tables in several restaurants over the years and only had to have a food handler’s license at Dairy Queen. (Which was later involved in a class action suit for breaking child labor laws. But hey, that food was clean and untouched by body parts.)

I honestly want to know why they are doing this? Is it funny? 15 seconds of fame? (I imagine this guy saying to his grand kids “Yep, that there is my junk on that Italian Herbs and Cheese bread.”) A meme gone horribly, horribly wrong? Maybe it’s a sexual attraction to food? Remember Jim and the Apple Pie from American Pie?

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The future of Danielle + Subway does not look promising. I mean, before this incident, Subway already had one strike against it what with the dirty dishwater smell.

If I do return though, next time they ask if I want to “double the meat” on my club, I’m gonna pass.

When did “relax” become a swear word?

The other day I was cruising through the Walmart parking lot (I know what you’re thinking. “She sure goes to Walmart a lot for someone who hates it so much.” Shut up.).

So I’m cruising at a leisurely, appropriate pace, when “Good GOD! That car came out of nowhere!” A guy flies through the parking aisle (is that what they’re called?) and slams on his brakes just short of my fender. I shoot him a look that says “What the F dude? This is a parking lot!” He mouths the word, “Relax.” I could feel the steam spewing out my ears.

Relax? Relax?! I would have rather had him flip me the bird.

  • Relax is the word my masseuse says when she’s trying to work out a stubborn knot in back probably due to all the the douche-nuggets who tell me to “relax” when they almost hit me in Walmart parking lots.
  • Relax is the word my mom would say when I’d get all worked up about say, a boy who punched me in the back of the head and called me a freak.
  • Relax is the second R in “R&R” used on some beach travel destination websites.

It’s supposed to be soothing. It’s supposed to be a positive word. Used to console me. Ahh, yes. Relax. Breathe. And Relax some more.

Outside the aforementioned scenarios, when someone says to “relax,” it just fuels my fire. It feels condescending and rude. It’s used not necessarily to calm people down anymore but as another way of saying “You’re acting bat-shit crazy for no apparent reason.”

Hell, I use it myself in that specific, negative connotative way. I didn’t even realize it until one day I made dinner and Logan said it smelled “disgusting.” When I reacted, “What? It does not. It’s delicious!” Logan responded (before he could say his l’s): “Re-wax, Mommy. I will eat it.”

Logan’s words took me back to the Walmart parking lot where the carefree, reckless driver had (angrily) told me to “relax” but really meant something entirely different.

To Logan: “Don’t say that. Instead say, ‘I’m sorry Mommy, I will eat it’.” I’m pretty sure that worked in the short term but before long we’ll all be telling each other to “relax” escalating our fights (loud discussions) to whole new level psychological unrest.

God needs better advertising.

I’ve gone back and forth a hundred times about whether or to write this post. I was afraid to offend, or even to start the conversation. But, I saw this post on Facebook last night and it lit my fire.

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Really? So, if I see this and don’t share with my friends, “all will go wrong”? What is this? Karma? A puppet-master? Remind me again where in the Bible it mentions chain-letters as a recommended form of spreading the Word? And further, being “condemned” if you don’t share the poorly designed image?

Of course, there’s Mark 16:15-16

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

But that’s more about believing, not about spreading the Word. I believe in spreading the Word, wholly. But I firmly believe that, in religion and politics (and any strong belief), “No one ever converted because they lost an argument.”

I watched a documentary recently: “Lord, save us from your followers.” I was a little leery at first because of the controversy of the whole thing. I consider myself a “woman of faith” and I prefer not to partake in rhetoric of the opposite persuasion (if that makes sense). It’s not because I don’t want to learn about other’s beliefs, it’s that it sorta makes me sad and, as a rule, I try to avoid being sad.

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Anyway, here’s the synopsis:

Whether someone is an Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or yes, even Christian – all can identify at times with the cry, “Lord, save us from your followers!”

Fed up with the divisive bumper sticker mentality overtaking America, director (and follower) Dan Merchant donned his “Bumper Sticker Man” suit and set out on the daring search for meaningful dialogue and the true face of faith.

Appearing in the film: Senator Al Franken, Dr. Tony Compolo, Former Senator Rick Santorum, Sister Mary Timothy, Paul Young, Bono, George W. Bush, and many, many more.

He covers topics like the “War on Christmas,” the “War on Christians,” confession and “Since when did Faith become more about being right and less about love?”

This documentary was really eye-opening (as are all documentaries I’ve watched to date – I think I need to watch more documentaries). It showed what real compassion looks like and what it doesn’t. Made me think about the things I say and think about others’ actions and lifestyles.

I’m not sure how exactly to tie that Facebook image into this documentary. All I know is it irritated me. Not the whole thing, just the last two sentences. Why must we go there? Why not just spread the Word? And the love? I guess that’s what I learned from this documentary.

Team bonding and team not-bonding

About 7 years ago, I was asked to be on a women’s volleyball team. Little did I know at the time that it was more about bonding and less about volleyball.

Season after season, we grew closer. It helped that we were the best team in the league and just got better every season. I looked forward to chatting it up on Thursday night while playing my favorite sport and getting a decent workout. We each had our own special cheer when served an Ace or scored a point. We played off each other’s enthusiasm, told jokes and just had a great time. Over the years, we would call on subs so we could get married, have babies and take vacations. But for the most part, we always came back to the same team.

I took off last Fall to have Riley. Then, I realized having 3 kids and a husband who works at night was too difficult to get away for several hours on Thursdays (I miss my MIL living with us). Finally, I have the time to play. Donnie’s out of season, I’m ready to rock and roll. My team is on a summer hiatus. One of our regulars moved to Colorado. One was out due to pregnancy. One moved to Coffeyville (Why would anyone do that?!). That’s half our team!

So, I am playing on another team. We’re not friends. At least, I don’t think we are. They don’t cheer. They don’t talk much if it’s not about the next play. I tried talking to one of them once and I kid you not, she walked away while I was mid-sentence. This is not fun.

I try to be positive about it.
To Donnie: “Yeah, they don’t talk to me or really smile, but we’re good. Pretty good, at least”

I miss my old team. I never thought I’d say it because I got frustrated with the lack of experience of some of them. Now, I have experienced players and I just want my old team back. Poor volleyball decision-making and all.

I miss my old team. I miss them.

I’m writing this while I dread yet another night of hours of silent volleyball. Like running and jumping robots with braids. We even have a 1 hour break between games. What will I do? Who will I talk to? Should I try another joke? (All my jokes have fallen flat with this team so far). Maybe I’ll act like I have to go somewhere and sit in the bathroom and listen to my audiobook.

At least it’s good exercise.

Do you recycle?

I had some neighbors over the other night for dinner. When it was time to clean up, my neighbor said, “Where’s your recycle bin?”

I didn’t hesitate, I pointed to the trash can. “Right there.”
She looked confused, “No, the recycle bin.”

I told her we didn’t recycle. She flashed a look of judgment that seemed involuntary. Donnie, sensing the judgment from the other room (ok he was drinking a beer in the driveway), yelled, “Yeah we don’t care about the environment.”

Neighbor laughs uncomfortably.

I add to Donnie’s comment, “He’s kidding. We like the IDEA of recycling.”
Donnie: “We’d do it if they didn’t charge us extra.”

So now, we’re not only tree-haters, we’re cheap too.

I try smooth things over a little with a, “Well, we don’t dispose of much.” (Not true) “We use a lot of reusable containers.” (Also not true) And then I follow with a bleak interest in purchasing a recycle bin and paying a monthly fee. I joke that I will use the money I usually deposit in my kids’ college fund. It didn’t go over well.

Now when I get home every day, I run inside for fear my neighbor will ask, “Did you get a recycle bin?”

Look before you leave: Wait, is that a kid in that car??

Yesterday I went to Walmart, my least favorite place ever. It’s worse than taking my kids the pool knowing full well that other kids pee in the pool and letting my kids swim anyway.

On my way in, this sign caught my eye and sorta pissed me off.
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As if kids are a purse that may not be safe due to the “ghetto” nature of the parking lot or perhaps a chocolate bar that may melt on the dash. Oops! Don’t forget your kids.

I just imagine some person with unkempt hair, a dirty white t-shirt (it looks gray now) and a velour mini skirt, that could use a little more material say around the hem, stubbing out a cigarette (likely not their first in the past hour) on the way in the door. She glances at this sign and shouts loud enough for everyone in the tri-county area, “SHOOT! I left my kids in the car! Thank God for this sign.”

It’s not really the sign that infuriates me. It’s the idea. I’m actually glad the sign is there. It’s sad that has to be there. Like the “Do not ingest” warnings on clearly inedible commodities. I’d imagine though, in reality, the people who leave their kids in the car know full well their kids are in the car and think, “They’ll be fine. It’s only 90 degrees.” It’s laziness, pure laziness, to leave your kids in the car! If people claim forgetfulness, then maybe they shouldn’t be in charge of any kids, or a car.

So, I guess, what I have to take away from this is that from now on, when I go to Walmart. I will “Look before I leave” to make sure there aren’t any occupied carseats in the hot cars around me.

Unspoken rules for stay-at-home moms?

So I visited my sister in Texas this past weekend. She stays at home with her kids and home schools. She’s always on the clock too. I’ll explain.

I was talking with her and her husband about a friend of mine (stay-at-home mom) whose husband does NOTHING around the house or to help with the kids. My brother-in-law interrupts with, “As he shouldn’t.”

This comment kind of got me thinking. Is there some sort of unspoken rule that stay-at-home moms do everything in the house and for the kids, 24 hours a day? I’ve noticed other couples behaving in a similar manner and just thought, “Wow. Those guys don’t help at all. What jerks.” (I really do think that).

On the other hand, it’s unfair for me to compare their situations with mine (one with two working parents). Our housework and kid-tending is equal (I see to that ;)).

I guess it mostly bothered me when we were all out and the women were assigned the task of bathing the kids and cleaning up while the men got dinner and beer. Maybe it was my feminist side speaking when I said, “You guys clean the house and take the kids home and bathe them. You haven’t seen them all weekend. We’ll go get the food and beer and be back just in time for everything to be done.”

That didn’t go over too well with Working Dad because he’d actually already helped with breakfast that morning. Check! Done for the day. I finally gave in with a “You owe me” to Donnie and everyone was happy.

Later that night, I considered myself a lucky woman as Donnie lovingly tucked the kids in bed while I lounged on the couch.