Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Winds of Change

Well faithful Avenger followers, we've come to a crossroad in our relationship.

For as most ADD-right-brained bloggers do, I've become a little restless with my mere one outlet of venting and general blabbing at the mouth.

Theretofore, I'll now be writing for an additional blog as well: the official University of Oklahoma blog, Unwind.

My subject matter is dating, relationships, fashion, culture, etc., etc., etc....but I'm sure I'll fall into my usual pattern of poking fun at myself and others instead of actually offering advice of any kind. And trust me, you don't want my advice.

With that being said, God Willing may be updated a bit less often than last school year. I know it's a big scary change, but fear not. I'm still out there in the blog community, blabbing and blabbing away. You just have to come find me...

And I really hope you will.

Much love.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The day I went to Dairy Queen

If you have siblings, you’re no doubt familiar with the somewhat absurd number of bonding moments people of matching parentage share. It is my belief siblinghood (or in my case, sisterhood) necessitates these moments so that, upon fighting viciously over a pair of shoes and very actually wanting to off one another, said siblings think “awwwh, but there was that one time with that one incident when we really bonded”…and thus become so sentimental that the aforementioned desire to murder in cold blood is postponed for the next YOU USED THE LAST BIT OF SHAMPOO AND NOW MY HAIR IS FOREVER RUINED screaming-match. You think I’m exaggerating. I am not.

And as Sister and I have been known to engage in great and terrible battles rivaling those of H. Potter and He Who Shall Not Be Named (I’ll allow you to ponder who I’m calling Voldermort in this such scenario), it is reasonable to assume we share even more sappy sisterly-bonding moments than the average blood-relatives. Nature is trying to keep us alive whate’er way it can. And for the most part, these incidents of reconnecting are cute and completely harmless.

But as our most recent sibling-bonding-venture proved, that is not always the case.

So last July 4th I holidayed with Sister in her home of Charlottesville, VA. We did many sisterly things during my stay (including drinking dessert wines in 100+ degree heat and thusly seeing one another liquored up for the first time), but the most memorable moment happened at a very unlikely place:

The local Dairy Queen.

Now, Oklahoma’s Dairy Queen population is woefully sparse, so this was my first trip to the Land of the Blizzards and I had no idea what sweet treats were in store for me. We both opted for Thin Mint Blizzards…and in case you are confused, these are actual, real-life GIRL SCOUT COOKIE Thin Mints we’re talking about here.


This dessert-concoction was essentially the best thing ever on the entire planet, and I repeatedly said so to Sister as we enjoyed our Blizzards in tandem. It was so indescribably good in fact that I encouraged her to take a picture…an incident that only further legitimized our DQ time as a bonding moment, as my 1550 SAT/doctoral-candidate sister attempted to take said picture with the camera turned backwards and upside down. Underneath all that fancy edumacation is just an incognito valley girl.

So onward and forth and what not. This year, the DQ Girl Scout Cookie Blizzards are back (Tagalongs this time, which I daresay enticed me even more than Thin Mints), and as Sister and I were convening one time only over the summer for a cousin’s South Carolinian wedding, we knew we had to seize the opportunity to rekindle our DQ Sisterly Bonding Moment by seeking out Blizzard numbers 3 and 4.

So we’re in SC, blustering about from one Bridal ToDo to the next, and suddenly we find ourselves with several hours of time to kill and a car free from parental control. Sister promptly proposes we pursue the nearest Charleston Dairy Queen, and I enthusiastically agree (as it’s nigh 4,000 degrees in South Carolina and we’ve so far spent the day having our faces melt off as they do in Raiders of the Lost Ark.) So we announce our plans to the group of gathered relatives and prepare to set forth on our journey.

As they’re also unceremoniously without agenda, our cousins Erin and Patrick decide to tag along (no pun intended). Sister and I briefly explain why we’re going to DQ while on vacation in a foreign land, and though they’re somewhat amused by the tale it's clear they’re more escaping an afternoon with the Aunt/Uncle Brigade than enthusiastically assisting us in our bonding time. But no matter, we welcome the company and hop into Rachel’s trusty German car.

First, we GPS our destination- a feat not easily completed, as this GPS is new (being that the last one was stolen from within my trusty German car…but no hard feelings *ahem* BASTARDS). So once we’ve finally selected “Dairy Queen: 7.6 miles” we begin our quick jaunt to kill some time and consume some calories.

So we’re driving, and driving…Cousin Erin tries to understand more completely why we’re even doing this in the first place, but the story doesn’t translate well to third-party participants and we revert back to discussing our family’s level of dysfunction as compared to others. Oh bugger off, you do it too.

Then Sister is exiting, as directed by her co-pilot Cousin Patrick (who, coincidentally, really is a pilot), and we’re all excitedly instructed to “help me look for the Dairy Queen, you guys!!” as the GPS has announced “arriving at Dairy Queen”…and yet there is no DQ to be found. Ahh, modern technology.

So we’re looking, and looking…Cousin Patrick directs us to a cluster of fast food joints thinking it our “best bet,” but still the DQ evades us and we’re starting to question whether Sister took the right exit or not. (She fiercely argues that she did, and if any of us want to drive we are more than welcome to do so.)

Then, just as we begin the painstaking task of retracing our steps (assuming the DQ must be hidden behind some pesky bunch of Palmetto Trees), Cousin Erin begins fervently tapping her window and saying, “umm, you guys?”

Our current BUT MAYBE IT WAS JUST OVER THERE AND YOU MISSED IT BY DRIVING TOO FAST line of arguing quiets to a soft hum, and I turn to look at Cousin Erin perched next to me in Rachel’s trusty German backseat. “You guys,” Cousin Erin repeats, and I can tell by her bemused facial expression that I’m not going to like what she has to say.

Then she points out her window, and as we all turn to look in unison she says “That China Gourmet looks an awful lot like a Dairy Queen.”

And indeed it does.

So we laugh, a little irritated perhaps but nonetheless amused that our handy-dandy brand new GPS found us a China Gourmet Formerly Known as Dairy Queen. Sister pulls over her trusty German car, and after several minutes of “ahhh Hell” play-bitching we begin to design Ice Cream Adventure: Plan B. After debating for at least 9 minute as to whether we want to pursue the next closest Dairy Queen (which is now some 12 miles away, according to the POS GPS), we recall another ice cream place just down the road that seems far more desirable a destination in that we know it actually exists. So we rally together behind Plan B, and we’re off.

Tensions are notably higher than when we began our quest, and all four of us are dramatically glued to our windows in a valiant attempt to not drive right past this place and become hopelessly lost (as we’re still mad at the POS GPS and have momentarily given up on it). So we’re peering at the passing shopping centers, ignoring the increasingly bothersome traffic and Sister’s erratic driving (which I can only assume was caused by her intense desire to spot the ice cream parlor first, thus requiring her to drive without ever actually looking at the road). So we’re cruising along, and as I begin to think this whole ice cream thing was a dumbass idea anyway Sister shouts “There! There, there it is!!” and stops abruptly in the middle of traffic. We all shout for joy as she flips on her blinker, and there’s quite a bit of “thank GOD this is almost over” chatter going on as we pull into the parking lot.

And then the chatter stops.

Because the damn ice cream place isn’t open.

Not only is it not open, we realize as we drive past…it’s never been open, and probably won’t be until it’s roof and floor and plumbing and such has been completed. We all voice our distaste for the bastard store-owner who opted to put up a sign prior to opening for business, and then we sit silently for a minute, contemplating the ugly truth that we are once again back at square one.

I’ll tell you that at this point, I decided I’d had enough of this ridiculous pursuit and would just as soon go back to the hotel and play Memory than continue on with the quest. (I kid you not about Memory…our hotel had it in the lobby, and after losing several games of Checkers to Rachel we whipped it out as a much needed ego-boost for me. Memory is the only game I have ever, ever beat Sister at playing…and yet I digress.)

But my cousins and Sister have more enthusiasm than me, and it is therefore decided that we will not give up, DAMMIT. We’re going forth to the next Dairy Queen.

First we swing by the China Gourmet Formerly Known as Dairy Queen, just to be sure we haven’t missed the real DQ hidden behind some tanning salon or what have you. Once this is confirmed, I am instructed to call the next DQ…to verify its existence, don’t you know. So I do, and I feel ridiculously retarded doing so. “Yes hello, so are you- umm, are you actually a Dairy Queen? I mean, are you still a Dairy Queen?” The perturbed DQ lady tells me that yes, they are still a Dairy Queen, and I hang up…only to promptly redial to make sure they have the Blizzards that started this whole Godforsaken trip. And they do. So off we go, again.

It’s important to note (in case you’re one of the 3 Americans who do not have a GPS) that in GPS language, 12 miles can mean a 15 minute jaunt or a 3 hour expedition. I think it estimates distances as the crow flies, and as I am no crow nor can I fly it’s always very disheartening to hear “12 miles” and then arrive at the destination several eons later.

And it’s also important to note that, when you are pursuing something frivolous like a Dairy Queen and therefore do not wish to embark on a day-long voyage, it is an ominous sign when your GPS instructs you to merge onto a six-lane-mass-of-cars-and-bridges-and-chaos type of highway. But that’s exactly what ours did, and seeing as no one could think of a way out at this point we silently obeyed.

So now we’re wedged in traffic, and Cousin Patrick is confusedly glaring at the GPS. “What is this ETA thing about?” He asks, and I explain that it’s our estimated time of arrival. Then he responds that he indeed figured that out (of course he did, you dumbass…he flies PLANES for a living, so he can probably work your GPS), but he doesn’t understand why it says we’ll arrive at the Dairy Queen in approximately 1 hour.


Now I should also mention that though we have an afternoon to kill, we do have to be back in Charleston for Cousin Bobby’s rehearsal dinner in t-minus just a few hours. So now we’re frantic for 2 reasons:

1. Our demon-possessed GPS continues to hurtle us further on a hopeless venture into the Great Beyond
2. Even if we do survive our trek, we might be late to Cousin Bobby’s pre-wedding ToDo and thus be quite literally crucified by our respective parental units

Outlook not good.

But before we can say “to hell with it” and abort the mission, Sister again slams on her breaks…only this time it’s for a good reason. Suddenly and without warning, we are surrounded, SURROUNDED by angry South Carolinian drivers. We have unceremoniously entered a TJOUS (Traffic Jam of Unusual Size) and are unable to budge 3 inches without smooshing into somebody’s bumper, let alone leap across 6 lanes of traffic to the exit we are sloooowly (but surely) passing.

And just as we’re all about to give up on life due to the total lameness of our Epic Fail adventure, Sister goes to step lightly on the gas…

And her trusty German car dies.

Now Sister is good at many things, but staying calm in tense situations is not one of them (just sit next to her at OU/Texas and you’ll know precisely what I mean). So her car goes dead, she hesitates for two seconds of WTF JUST HAPPENED mental processing, and then in the most hysterically dramatic fashion you can conceive of she tosses her skinny arms into the air and slams her hands on the steering wheel.

And Cousin Patrick just loses it.

Now Sister is clasping her head with both hands, repeatedly exclaiming “MY CAR DIED—IT JUST DIED” over and over to no one in particular, and Cousin Patrick is being of no help in the passenger seat as he absolutely cannot stop laughing at Sister’s display of severe and utter uncoolness.

So Cousin Erin joins in with Cousin Patrick, and then so do I, and soon all three of us are laughing so hard we can barely breathe as Sister gestures theatrically to the cars around us that HER CAR IS DEAD AND SHE CAN’T DO A DAMN THING ABOUT IT (and glowers hatefully at us for poking fun of her in her time of greatest need).

Then after turning on her hazards (which is the only thing Sister and I know how to do when our cars don’t work properly), she puts her trusty German car in park and tries the ignition once more.

And hallelujah praise Jesus, the damn thing actually starts.

The rest of our venture proceeded without catastrophe; it wound up taking us far less than an hour to find our Dairy Queen (as GPS’s suck and are completely worthless), and we trotted through north Charleston’s most ghetto-fabulous mini-mall to inhale our Blizzards in the food court (as that is, in fact, where our Dairy Queen was located). Pretty fitting to the rest of the afternoon, if I do say so myself.

And thanks to some more of Sister’s erratic driving, we arrived safely home with time to shower (and decompress) before the rehearsal dinner. So in some small way, our adventure was a success.

But even though we got our Godforsaken Tagalong Blizzards, and even though they were every bit as tasty as I’d dreamed, I daresay we won’t be embarking on another DQ voyage for quite some time.

That is, unless Sister and I get in another fight soon…

So I suppose I’ll see you at Dairy Queen in about a week or so.

Much love.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Self-esteem, huh? Welp, see ya later.

So at my childcare job (which ends Friday, hallelujah-praise-Jesus), I have a shadow in the form of a leggy, befreckled 8-year-old girl. For the sake of this post, I’ll call her Shelly.

Shelly adores me, apparently. Regardless of where I am or what I’m supposed to be doing (or what she’s supposed to be doing, for that matter), she simply must gasp upon seeing me, exclaim “MISS FRANKIE!!!” and run at me with gangly arms extended to give what I’m beginning to think is a purposefully rib-crushing hug. She loves me so much she wants to squish me, I do believe.

But though Shelly has taken to claiming me the “best teacher EVURR” (a title I do not deserve, as my patience with her age group is always painfully threadbare), she still finds it enjoyable to examine every aspect of my being. Examine it...and criticize it.

I’ve gotten used to this phenomenon since working with kids; apparently there comes a point when the baby-chillens turn on you, and it seems that point is around birthday number 8. And in her defense Shelly has said some nice things to me…she recently told me I was “skinny” and had “really white teeth,” although when I thanked her for it she said “why would you take that as a compliment?” Fail. So for your enjoyment (and because these gems of verbal battery lose some of their vicious sting when repeated), I give you:

My Favorite Kid Quotes, A la Shelly

Shelly: Miss Frankie, why are you going to South Carolina?
Me: To see my cousin get married.
Shelly: How old is your cousin?
Me: Twenty-four.
Shelly: (pause) He’s younger than you?
Me: Yes.
Shelly: (pause) He’s getting married and he’s younger than you?
Me. Yes.
Shelly: (pause) How sad. You must be reeeally jealous!

Shelly: (pointing to my “Gucci” bag) Is that real, Miss Frankie?
Me: Hmm?
Shelly: Is your Gucci purse real?
Me: (stunned that an 8-year-old knows about Gucci) Well, what do you think?
Shelly: (pauses, looks me up and down, pauses) I think you’re way too poor to have a real Gucci purse.

Shelly: Where do you live, Miss Frankie?
Me: Here in Norman.
Shelly: In a house?
Me: Yep.
Shelly: Alone?
Me: Yep.
Shelly: You live in a house alone? And you’re twenty-five?
Me: Yep…
Shelly: Do you have a boyfriend, Miss Frankie?
Me: N-no…
Shelly: So you live in a house, alone, and you’re twenty-five and you don’t have a boyfriend?
Me: Yeah……
Shelly: (patting me on the back) I bet you’re very lonely.

And my personal favorite:

Shelly: Miss Frankie, have you ever been to jail?
Me: No, I have not.
Shelly: Do you want to go to jail?
Me: No, I do not.
Shelly: How come?
Me: Jail is not a place most people want to go, Shelly.
Shelly: But it’d be exciting.
Me: No…
Shelly: Yes it would. You know it would.
Me: No…..
Shelly: So you’re telling me you think that this right here- what you’re doing with your life right now….(dramatic pause, points around the room at countless whining, crying, sniffling baby-chillens)…is more exciting to you than being in jail?

She may be a minion of the Antichrist...but dammit, she has a point.

Much love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Frankie Avenger (does not) save the day.

(So as to keep you from thinking me a sociopath for addressing the following with careless light-heartedness, let posterity note that no one was seriously injured in the scenario detailed below.)

Throughout my 25 years I have rarely been recognized for my heroism. I’ve made a reputation for being sarcastic, impatient, brash even…but as far as my memory serves me, I’ve never been thought extraordinarily heroic.

This weekend proved precisely why that is.

So after almost one full year of planning my college roommate and I finally arranged a hang-out. She lives all the way in Wichita- a whopping 2.5 hours away- so it’s understandable that the scheduling took us so long…epic fail. As she came to Nompton in August ‘08 it was my turn to head to Kansas, so following a 10 hour workday I drained 2 Diet Cokes, grabbed my never-completely-unpacked suitcase and hit I-35 for a weekend of reminiscing.

Our mini-holiday was littered with outings fun only to complete losers like Melissa and myself…in college we’d make an evening of visiting the local pet store (for “puppy therapy,” which consisted of cuddling puppies and contemplating ways of buying them without being disowned by our parents), then gorging ourselves on Mexican food or sushi. So our reunion took a similar route; we went to a wildlife park, visited the Wichita humane society, and ate at the local hibachi grill. As I said, we are losers.

But the “highlight” of the trip occurred on our way home from our aforementioned jaunt to the humane society. It’s worth mentioning that on the drive there Melissa skillfully avoided several bags of partially demolished mulch on US-96. There was a bit of swerving and some slight braking, but for the most part it was an anticlimactic incident of road debris. No harm, no foul.

Unfortunately for several other Kansans, one hour later a less chillax driver saw the mulch and reacted quite differently.

So we’re driving home from the grown up version of puppy therapy, me yappin on about my newly discovered gift of was an engrossing tale no doubt, and I was therefore dismayed to find she was paying me absolutely zero attention. For no reason I could imagine she abruptly began hugging the steering wheel, peering dramatically onto the highway ahead and mumbling something about, “no oh no oh nooo that’s not good.”

So I gaze out on the road, trying to locate the reason for her disrespectful distraction. We’re in the left lane, and in the right lane about 20 feet ahead another car starts braking in the strangest manner. It seems to mimic the “oh sh*t a cop” braking cars do when they realize they’ve been radared, so I chalk up Mel’s behavior to her not wanting to get a ticket. Here I am telling a fascinating story and she tunes me out to fret over a damn radar gun. Cheapskate.

Then, just as I’m about to do the obnoxious thing where you force those suspected of ignoring you to repeat everything you’ve just said, I catch something racing towards me out of the corner of my eye.

And I realize it’s the front-end of a car.

Suddenly two things dominate my thoughts as if etched to the inside of my skull:

1. So this is what a head-on collision looks like


2. OH SH*T IMA DIE (this thought quickly materialized into a stream of high-pitched yelling, directed inadvertently into Melissa’s right ear. Am very helpful in stressful situations.)

Miraculously (and I mean that, as the car was barreling directly towards us), Mel managed to brake enough to miss the runaway vehicle just as it smashed into the weirdly-braking car in the right lane. (In retrospect I now understand why it was braking like it was; clearly the driver saw the out-of-control car, had NO EFFING CLUE what to do about it, and was therefore preparing for impact by braking, squeezing his eyes shut and yelling OH SH*T IMA DIE. Of course I’m only speculating here, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I’d do in his stead.)

So we miss the car (which is already alllll kinds of smashed up as it hit a guardrail while flying across the median), and Mel pulls off the road while car parts fly as if propelled by an F-5. She comes to a stop, looks at me and asks “are you okay,” I stammer “HOLY SH*T” and she says “we have to go help.”

To which I respond with my best HAVE YOU LOST YOUR DAMN MIND face.

“What? What?? I can’t—I don’t know—what if we—WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE ROAD!!!” I finally succeed at verbalizing a complete thought, so she throws her 4runner into drive and pulls further into the grassy median. Then she turns again to me and says “we have to help,” and I ogle her in complete confusion and fear. I’d hoped by bringing to light our severe vulnerability—by pointing out the impending danger and doom associated with chillin’ on the road after several cars have smashed into one another—she would come to her senses and agree to get the hell outa dodge. I mean, I’m a pretty smart girl and everything, but Mending Bones 101 is not a required class for journalism majors…and hanging around unable to provide medical aid with the possibility of becoming wreckage-victims # 3 and 4 seemed quite unnecessary. But there she sat, insisting her plan to abandon the protective steel frame of the SUV was both rational and severely pertinent.

So she's staring at me, waiting impatiently for my “oi, let’s go save the day!” epiphany...and seconds before I blurt out “OKAY YEAH I HAD CPR TRAINING BUT OHMYWORD MELISSA WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DO??!” I remember something previously blocked by the distress afflicting my mind.

Melissa is a registered nurse.


At the same moment that I comprehend why she’s so determined to “go help” (because, by Jove, she actually can), Mel loses her patience with me and sighs “okay well I have to help” and hops out of the car.

“Yes, you—you help” I stutter.

“Yeah, okay…and you call 911 with my phone!” She points aimlessly into her car, apparently directing me to her cell but I of course do not catch on. So she turns to go help, I clamber awkwardly into the driver’s seat (I have NO IDEA why I did this, and it earned me a “what the hell are you doing” look from Melissa), and I begin fumbling around the console for her phone.

What seems like centuries later I find it, plaster it to my ear, realize I’ve forgotten to dial and look down at it only to realize IT’S HER EFFING IPOD. Sweet Jesus. After cursing my stupidity I once again begin my search, but as I tear apart the innards of her purse I think of something and stop abruptly.

Mel has an iPhone. I do not possess the mental prowess to operate an iPhone.

So I curse some more, realize I HAVE MY OWN DAMN PHONE and lunge for it (as it’s still in the passenger seat, where I logically should be). I dial 911 and am momentarily confused to see I’m calling “Emergency” (because who do I know by the name “Emergency”? Fail).

Then a forcefully calm voice says “911, what’s your emergency?”

And I say,

“There’s been a wreck….”

And I pause.

Because I don’t have a flippin’ clue where I am.

“What is your location, miss?”


“Umm….” And feeling like one of those punkass kids who prank calls 911, I mutter “I don’t actually know.”

Long pause, on the part of the 911 lady. “Okay…”

“Ooo, can you find me with GPS!?” I practically holler, thinking I am Genius and have found the solution.

“Maybe…” she says, but it’s soon clear that as I have a lame-ass, non-smart phone I might as well be in a small black hole engulfed by the Bermuda Triangle. So she asks me if I’m on an interstate, and then we debate whether that’s the same thing as a highway…and then she asks what part of Wichita I’m in, and all I can offer is that it’s by the humane society. Fail, fail, fail.

In the interim I’m filling in details about the accident, in a pathetic attempt to do SOMETHING worthwhile…

“I don’t think anybody’s injured, but airbags did deploy…except in the one car, which I think is too old for airbags.”

The lady latches onto to this line of conversation.

“So what kind of cars were involved?”

My heart sinks a little lower in my stomach, because I know I’m about to Epic Fail the 911 dispatch woman yet again. “Umm, the one that crossed the median is silver…?” (and in my defense it was so crunched up I literally couldn’t tell the make or model), “and the other is tan. NO! Brown. Umm…brownish tan? And old?”

Then, increasingly desperate to save face, I spot a man meandering the grassy median and proceed to chase him down.

“Sir? Sir!” I call. Perhaps this fellow can tell me where in BFE we are! But I keep calling, and he doesn’t respond…at one point he looks directly at me but walks the other way. To quote Stephanie Tanner, how RUDE.

So my self-righteous don’t-you-ignore-ME-buddy mindset kicks into gear, and I haul ass to catch him as he wanders the opposite way down US-96. “Excuse me sir! SIR!!” I literally yell inches from his face, and he finally turns to gaze wearily upon me.


With an irritating amount of difficulty he tells me our location, which I then relay to the dispatch. I give him a quirt nod and a dismissive “thanks,” then mentally shun him for being a douchetard and hesitating to provide necessary information in a time of crisis.

But as I glare after my newfound Least Favorite Person in Wichita, he wanders back to his car. Which is the vehicle that was broadsided just moments before.

And he was the driver of the vehicle that was broadsided just moments before.

I am a horrible person.

I consider re-chasing him down and apologizing for being an ass, but I figure he’s so much in shock he won’t remember it 5 minutes later…and besides, the 911 lady is once again asking me difficult questions.

“Can you tell me what direction you’re facing?” she says with practiced patience. I choke back the words WELL WHAT DO YOU THINK? and instead mumble something about getting my bearings.

I look left, right, and up, then realize with despair that I have never, ever been able to tell what direction I’m facing. So in my frustration I seek aid…but instead of asking any one of the dozen or so people now gathered on the road, I spot a passing van.

And run after it.

I’m waving my arms, my phone tucked awkwardly under my chin. The driver looks alarmed and confused (as well he should be), but making the naïve assumption that I must have a good reason for chasing him down he slows and rolls down his window.

“WHAT DIRECTION IS THIS??” I blurt out, pointing furiously in the direction of traffic.

“Uhh, east?” he replies with trepidation. He continues on by reciting our exact location, and as I got that info from the last guy I jumped I wave him impatiently onward and shout "East! It's EAST I'm facing east, east!" into the phone.

“Okay…thanks.” says the 911 lady, in a please-calm-down-you’re-hurting-my-ears voice. Then she asks “are you calling from a 911 cell phone” and I get desperately confused…saying that yes, I am on a cell phone and yes, I did call 911, so does that make it a 911 cell phone? Apparently her wires got crossed and she thought I was calling from within the 911 network…and I guess she thought I actually worked for 911...…in which case ohmyword I hope she requested to have me fired.

But as I continue to iron out the 911 cell phone debacle, Melissa suddenly returns and begins ushering me back into the car. “Everybody’s okay,” she says, buckling with care and casting one last glance at the metal massacre in her rearview mirror. “Thanks for calling 911!”


Longer Pause.

After cautiously rejoining traffic on the fateful US-96, she looks curiously at me (back in the passenger seat where I belong) and repeats, “hey, thanks for calling 911.”

And in that split second- in the “do or die” moment when I can opt to take the high road and reveal my utter ineptitude at heroism- I do the most obvious and logical thing I can think of.

I lie.

“Oh yeah, no problem. It's the least I could do.”

They say you can die a hero or live a coward...but I choose to be the blithering idiot caught somewhere in between.

Much love.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why I'm morally opposed to being set-up.

So I’m sitting at the front desk of the church childcare center, basking in my 1.5 hours of the workday that do not involve snot-nosed busted-lipped crying whining 3-year-olds. I love the baby chillens, I do. But I’m constantly amazed by their sheer and utter grossness. (If you have a strong stomach, be sure to ask me about the day Joey forgot that he’s potty-trained. Yeah, that was epically disgusting.)

But I’m sitting there, and in walks a parent of one of my favorite baby-chillens. She stops to talk and starts chatting about work or weather or some other such nonsense. Then, without word of warning she says, “So Miss Frankie, how old are you?” (The baby-chillens call me Miss Frankie, and thusly so do their parents.)

Immediately I become apprehensive.

If you’re happily married (or at least married in some capacity), you may not understand my aforementioned apprehension. But. I’ve been blissfully single for most of my adult existence, and I’ve therefore learned the DANGER! DANGER! signs that indicate I’m about to be propositioned with someone’s uncle’s cousin’s half-brother thrice removed who is also, GASP, single. And when somebody new to my life starts a sentence with “so” and ends it with “how old are you,” it’s safe to assume the next words out of her mouth will be, “well I just so happen to have this friend…”

So I pause, give myself a brief BE STRONG THIS IS A TRAP mental pep-talk, and say, “I’m 25.”

“Oh really? Miss K thought you were 20. Well I just so happen to have this friend…”


“…and he’s a great guy but he only ever dates psychotic girls.”

Long pause. This is when I’m supposed to be complimented by the subtle inference that I’m not psychotic, therefore allowing her to blindside me with her upcoming proposal. Luckily and/or tragically however, I’ve been tricked like this countless times before. You ain’t getting me that easy, lady. I am an experienced evader of set-ups, and implying I’m not a psycho just proves you don’t know me from Adam.

So I say, “Oh yeah? I completely understand…I only ever seem to date psycho guys! That’s why I’m on a dating sabbatical. “ And just in case “sabbatical” isn’t a word familiar to this stay-at-home mom, I add “meaning I’m not dating. At all.”

(After countless awkward conversations where I’d admit to being available, get set-up with the King of the Douchetards, feign illness or unexpected travel, piss off my set-upper and then be deemed “too picky to find love,” I finally developed a strategy for these type of scenarios. Now whene’er I sense the DANGER! DANGER! signs meaning I’m about to be set-up, I act jaded and deeply cynical and say things like “I’m never dating again” and "men are pigs.” Nobody wants to mess with a woman scorned.)

So she looks at me, cocks her head and asks, “bad break-up?”


(I’m intentionally vague in hopes she’ll assume my last dating go-round ended in arson, mandatory anger management classes and/or restraining orders.)

She nods the way people do when they don’t really get what you're saying but would like you to think they do nonetheless. “Well I guess that makes sense then. I was just going to say that my husband’s friend Blane is a great guy, and you’re just such a sweet girl that I thought I’d get y’all together.”

Things get very awkward for a moment as she waits for me to succumb to the pressure and say, “ahh what the hell, my number’s 555…” But though the take-this-as-a-compliment-and-say-you’ll-go-out-with-him silence is deafening, I stick to my guns.

'Yeah...I’m just reeeeeally not dating right now.”

“Hmm. Okay. But he really is a nice guy...he’s got a great job, and he’s really cute!”

And just as my armor of cynicism begins to break under the awkwardness, she decides to elaborate on my potential manfriend, Blane.

“Yeah, Blane’s great…I think he’s good looking-"

(“I think” means “he’s really not but I don’t know how to tell you that and still get you to go out with him.”)

"He’s 35-"

(Umm, did I stutter? I said I’m twenty-five! A 10 year age difference does not a good match make.)

“He has a two-year-old but never sees her-"

(He’s a dad…and he’s a deadbeat dad at that.)

“And he's got a fantastic job. He’s a prison guard!”

..........and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’m morally opposed to being set-up.

Much love.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


So I’ve started my new career as a daycare worker, and to everyone’s surprise (but especially mine) I’m really getting the hang of it. If (when) they cry, you hug them and say “So and So, it’s Lydia’s day to be Line Leader.” If (when) they fight, you threaten to make them take another nap. And if (when) they hurt themselves, you tell them how brave they are and always give them a band-aid…band-aids are the kid equivalent to a stiff drink; they make them feel invincible, courageous, and slightly superior to everybody else.

And though I know it’s uncouth to pick favorite baby-chillens, I do so on a daily basis. (What? They’re not my offspring.) Today my favorite is Matthew.

Matthew is not technically one of my kids. I work in the 3 to 4-year-old room, and Mathew is a semi-potty-trained-terrible-2-year-old. However, I also have the pleasure of working Aftercare. This means from 3-6:00 PM every night I have the responsibility of keeping twelve 2 to 10-year-olds alive. It’s harder (and more maddening) than it sounds. Fortunately Matthew is one of my captives, and thus I have a ray of sunshine to break up the “but Travis said we COOOOOULD” whining I receive from the 5th grade girls.

(Incidentally, 5th graders are the teenagers of 2009. DAMN those hormones in our drinking water.)

But despite my newfound adoration of him, Matthew and I actually got off to a very rocky start. He came to me on the playground, white-blonde hair standing on end and a severely distressed look on his dirt-smeared face. “Thaaand inma choooo!” He said to me. Umm…..what? “Thaaaand inma CHOOOOOOO!!” Then he grabbed my leg for balance, pointed to his sandal and yelled “CHOO. CHOOCHOOCHOO!” But I was still massively confused. So I looked at him, used my 25-years of tried and tested logic to analyze his sign language, and finally deduced his wailing to mean that there was sand in his shoe. Ahha! You’d think it’d be easier for a grad student to understand a toddler, but nay. So I hoisted him up into my lap and carefully removed the accused sandal. Then I wiped off his tiny (and filthy) foot, shook the sand out of his shoe, and said “There ya go, sweet boy. All better.” Everything seemed on the up and up; he was smiling and saying words I didn’t understand, and I felt as if I’d done right by him.

Then I went to put the sandal back on.

Immediately his toes curled and he let out a scream almost too high-pitched for human ears to register. I instantly froze; 2’s are not my forte, and I was afraid I’d inadvertently broken this mini-person’s leg or ankle or foot or what have you. Then my worst fears were realized. He looked at me with pure disdain in his eyes, and in the loudest voice he could muster said “DON’T HURT ME AGAIN.”

Well that pretty much made me want to quit life.

And yet I was confused…I couldn’t imagine what I’d done to hurt him, so I tried to shake it off and be the Grown Up. “We have to put you shoe back on, Matthew” I said. And he said “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NO SHOE!!!! NO HURT ME AGAIN! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!! YOU HUUUUUUUUURT ME NO NO!!!!”

By that time the other teacher on duty was looking at me warily; it was clear she didn’t want to expend the energy to intervene, but she also didn’t want me to kill the poor child (which is precisely what it sounded like I was doing). But thanks to Jesus, after 7 more excruciating minutes of “DON’THURTMEDON’THURTMEDON’THURTME” wails I finally succeed in velcroing the damn sandal back on Matthew’s squirming foot. The cries stopped immediately. He looked at me, glared, and hopped down from my lap to reenter the sandbox…and I spent the rest of the day fighting back the assumption that I’d soon be visited by DHS.

But that next afternoon I learned a valuable lesson about 2-year-olds; despite the fact that they know some words (and use them, loudly), they don’t necessarily understand what they mean.

For when I ventured back into Aftercare and was met again with the challenge of monitoring scary-breakable-2-baby-chillens, I heard the familiar screams of “DON’T HURT ME YOU HURT ME IT HURTS DON’T HURT ME” emanating from deep within Matthew’s being. Poor Miss Christie looked just about as terrified as I had felt the day before; she was tugging gently at Matthew’s hand saying “we need to go potty,” and he was responding by accusing her of child abuse.

And that’s the moment when I first realized I speak Toddler.

Matthew knows that being hurt is bad. Matthew also knows that, when it’s not what he wants to do at that moment, things like putting on one’s shoes or going to the bathroom are also bad.

Hence, anything that makes Matthew unhappy…hurts. And whoever is the culprit of said unhappiness…is hurting him.


Now he and I understand each other almost flawlessly; when I tell him to stop throwing rocks and he tells me “DON’T HURT ME AGAIN,” I raise an eyebrow that means I’m not falling for it this time, and he puts down the rocks with defeat and anger in his eyes. (Kids can give THE BEST “go to Hell” looks.) But beyond his terrible-two’s tantrums, he’s really an adorable kid…he speaks a language all his own and has a laugh like you wouldn’t believe, plus he loves to crawl up to me on all fours and bark with every ounce of his might. He’s playing dog. It’s freaking adorable.

Now that my DHS investigation scare is passed, I feel relatively confident with my abilities to keep small baby-chillens alive…and even happy (except for the 5th grade girls, who hate me with a passion and are conspiring to have me fired. You can’t please everyone…especially when dealing with hormone-crazed spawns of Satan.)

But despite my success with Matthew, I'm sure there will be countless other Epic Fails over the summer when these precious lil Monster Babies and I do not communicate properly. And especially now that I have two (count them, two) childcare jobs, I assure you God Willing will recieve the brunt of my "welp, I pissed off another one" stories. So, keep checking in. Maybe next time I’ll tell you about Kavith, who has never spoken a word of English to me but who likes to sit half-nekked on the bathroom floor and sing jibberish to himself. Imagine the possibilities...the possibilites are endless.

Much love.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Just another reason for me to hate Texas

Where is it written that one great event must be followed by a horrendous one? WHERE. Is it biblical? Did God say unto Abraham, “thou can have one good harvest, but the following year's will make you wish you’d been a car salesman”? DID HE? I swear to the God of Wonder Beyond Our Galaxy, I always, ALWAYS pay for it later when e’er I have a super-awesome day.

Now I’m not saying I believe in karma. As a rule I don’t ascribe to such cosmic fancies; I don’t think there’s a wizard of right and wrong saying, “op, you did this or that and now your dog is going to die.” I just don’t buy that the world is so logical. For A) such thinking creates a universe of vindictive cynics clinging to the hope that lighting and/or premature balding will strike down their deserved exes, and for B) I have several such deserved exes, and none have yet been afflicted negatively due to their heinous dating behaviors against me. Well…save for the premature balding, but that’s probably just because of all the hormones in our drinking water.

But. The pattern of my life has caused me to admit a certain amount of balance in the human existence; for this much good there seems to be this much bad, and there is truth to the adage that into each life some rain must fall. (And some sunshine will shimmer of course, but we’re realists here; we like to focus on the rain and drizzle and muck.)

So case and point. Last Saturday myself and my comrades loaded up Twiggy’s Jeep, double-checked to make sure I’d brought my toothbrush (as I absolutely love to forget my toothbrush when on vacation), and headed for a weekend of swanky hotels, overpriced entrees, and thrill rides not rivaled anywhere else in the Southernmost part of the Midwest. (Ehh, it’s better than Frontier City.)

That’s right, lads and ladies…we road-tripped it to Six Flags.

And it was FUN. It was so fun in fact that I started feeling apprehensive about it; I wandered about Texas with some of my New Favorite People on Earth, smiling and laughing but always looking over my shoulder for the BOOM that was bound to drop. There comes a point when a person feels too old to have ridiculous amounts of fun without cost, and I reached that point on my 25th birthday. Yes, it is sad.

(But I was RIGHT; there was a cost, and I’ll explain said cost and my subsequent belief in a celestial-directed system of balance in a hot minute.)

The first leg of our trip was cost-free; we ate terribly unhealthy food, laid by the pool, ate some more food, talked, laughed, wrassled (just enough to prove I am SWOLL), and had a generally kickass good time. But little did I know I’d soon pay for those carefree moments of bliss.

Day 2. My apprehension began quite promptly upon our arrival at Six Flags. Riding on an endorphin rush from my AM workout (I am a badass fitness guru now, so WATCH YOUR BACKS), I trotted in the gates of Rollercoaster Rapture with my head high and my sarcasm in overdrive. If you know me at all you know I can be a bit flippant at times, and on this particular occasion the combination of personalities and theme park goodness had me at my back-talking best. So we walk in the gates, Twiggy FLIPS HER SH*T upon being approached by that scary-ass old man in all the Six Flags ads, I make hella fun of her (as do all my comrades), and we embark towards our first ride of the day. I am bullying with the best of them, and all is well.

Then, in a spur of the moment decision the group opts to go on the age-old ship ride. All agree it’s a little lame, but we are SO FLIPPIN EXCITED to start our day of screaming and it’s the nearest thing to us. So we pile in, I’m still wisecracking Twiggy for being a sissy pansy, and I start to feel as if this day is going to be the most awesome day…ever.

And then the Six Flags bastards come to strap me in.

At first I’m okay. Three (THREE) immobilization contraptions seems a little excessive for the effing ship ride, but safety first and all of that. I’m chillax. Then the not-so-enthusiastic Six Flags employee says “ahoy matey” (or something else entirely as I was by then starting to focus on steady respirations), and the over-the-head immobilization contraption- the one that strikes fear in the hearts of claustrophobics around the world- tightens. And it tightens A LOT. Boobs, ribs, lungs and all are crushed…Twiggy turns to me and says with mild concern, “I can’t breathe…can you?” And come to think of it, no I cannot.

And then I PANIC.

This was a low point in my life for two specific reasons. First, I had up to that moment led my Six Flags fellows to believe me quite tough and brave. Hence, when a terrific wailing emanated from within my very core on the ship ride I inadvertently admitted to them that I’m full of chit. And second, I’d also led myself to believe me quite tough and brave. Yes I’m afraid of heights, and yes I have some claustrophobic tendencies, but those bits of baggage had never hindered my awesomeness before and I thought surely, surely that wouldn’t change simply because I’m now an old maid.

But alas, I was very wrong.

So the ride starts, and at first my comrades think I’m just being comical. “Oh look at Frankie, she’s convulsing and turning purple. Such a kidder, that one!” But as the torture persists and the damn ship turns UPSIDE DOWN (ships do not go upside down where I’m from; Six Flags is full of dirty tricks and lies), my hysteria builds and those around me start to realize that wait…she really is having a conniption fit.

Lucky for her Mammy is laughing her head off, 3 seats away and entirely unaware of my condition. But dear Forrest is close by, and he has that 6th Big Brotherly sense that tells him when women are FUH-REAKING out. (I think it’s an evolutionary response to PMS…some men get a WARNING! WARNING! message when females are going off their rockers.) So Forrest starts talking to me. He says “close your eyes, Frankie. You’re okay…it’ll be over soon,” and I say “OMYGAWD OMYGAWD I’MGOINGTODIE OHSH*T OHSH*T!” (That is a direct quote.) Then Twiggy says “SERIOUSLY GUYS I CAN’T BREATHE,” and that freaks me out even more so I just start yelling swear words. Which, by the by, can get you evicted from Six Flags…future note to self.

But I didn’t get evicted, and I didn’t die either.

So we get off the ride, my legs are visibly shaking, I tell the group I’m juuuust a smidge freaked out, nobody believes or cares and onward we proceed. The next ride furthers my panic attack; the rollercoaster itself isn’t so bad, but Twiggy precedes our departure with a cute lil story about a girl who GOT HER FEET CHOPPED OFF by a Six Flags ride. (And it’s true, see?) So the entire time I’m on this Tony Hawk WTF ride I’m thinking of all the manners in which it could amputate my feet. If our cart derails, if that cable breaks, if my safety-harness snaps…I mean, you’d be surprised how many ways one can be de-limbed on any given theme park ride.

The coaster ends, I peel my eyes open (incidentally I never opened my eyes on a single ride, all day long), Twiggy says “oh Frankie, you look like you’re about to cry,” and I laugh in a way to conceal the fact that actually, I already am. (Just a little though…I’m still tougher and braver than your average Jane.)

At this point I’m on the verge of stroke or seizure. But though I’m indeed appalled by the scores of rides I now have to endure through newly developed phobias, I’m even more appalled by my apparent sissy-pansiness. I mean, what self-respecting twenty-something is scared of Six Flags? What could possibly be left to live for if I’m THAT much of a wet blanket? So as we trod onward, a bit less spring in our steps as I’m now glowering at my feet and talking minimally, I make a pact with myself and with God. I absolutely AM NOT a sissy. AM. NOT. That is not my MO and never will be, and if I have to ride every effing rollercoaster in the park I’M GOING TO GET OVER THIS. I will not be defeated. Not by Six Flags, not by anybody. Damn. Straight.

All this mental bullying commenced whilst Mammy and Twiggy rode Mr. Freeze. Forrest and I opted out (which was okay as my pact had not yet begun)- him because he was sick and me because helllllstotheno, that ride wasn’t going to help ease my mania. I felt alright about peacing out on that one; I remembered some distant memory of it breaking and people falling and bleeding and dying and such, plus I just don’t voluntarily get on vehicles that shoot STRAIGHT up in the air. Not gonna do it, wouldn’t be prudent. But after Mam and Twigs emerged, cackling and windswept but otherwise unharmed, I made my silent oath to ride any and everything they rode from that point forward.

I am such a freaking idiot.

First we hopped on the Batman ride, as it so conveniently neighbors the Mr. Freeze, and that singlehandedly almost made me break a promise to Our Heavenly Lord. In case you didn’t know, the Batman ride makes your feet dangle. So what was I thinking the entire time I spent on it? “OH DEAR SWEET JESUS JUST DON’T LET IT CHOP OFF MY FEET.” So yeah…that was fun.

Then we headed for the Texas Giant. And let me just say this: if you have any, any tatas of which to speak, DO NOT RIDE THE TEXAS GIANT. Though not typically one to grope myself in public, I was crossed-arms-hand-cupping both sistas by demonic drop #1.5 of that thing. (Mammy was too, although her hand-cuppage runneth over more than mine.) It was brutal; not the least bit fun, and not even scary as I was more concerned about developing Amazonian boobs than I was about dying.

After that we went on some less physically damaging rides…Mams and I were still pissed off at the Giant, and poor Forrest’s face was an increasingly ominous shade of green. But after our break (which included a lunch of greasy cheesy bread…brilliant), we set off for the eminent dropping BOOM of which I spoke earlier: 25 and ½ stories of pure steal wickedness, featuring “one of the world’s mightiest drops at hyper-speeds of 85 miles an hour.”

In layman’s terms, we were headed for The Titan.

I can’t speak in too much detail about this one, as I may or may not have lost consciousness at least twice whilst on it. But I do know I thought, whole-heartedly and quite literally, that I was going to die before getting off that cursed device. As the rollercoaster climbed it’s 7 bajillion stories I started choking on panic-spit again, and just as we reached the top Mammy started wailing, “OH GAWD…OH LORD OH GAWD OH GAWD HELP US JESUS!” So I screamed at her to SHUT THE HELL UP…she was the bravest one among us and her terror was only escalating mine. Then I felt the coaster level, and then I felt it drop…and the next thing I remember I was clammering off of the ride with reeeediculous hair and a bruise on my arm that made me look like a battered girlfriend. For a while I had no idea what caused it, until I recalled holding Mam’s hand on The Titan’s initial decent. I refused to let go of it at first…and then I couldn’t let go of it, as the coaster had by then reached light-speed. Hence, my arm got smashed into my immobilization contraption.

The rest of the day was gloriously uneventful; having mastered all of the most horrendous thrill rides at Six Flags, we dawdled about until twilight and then set off for the hotel. Everyone piled into Twig’s and my room that evening to watch “the game” (don’t ask what game because to hell if I know), and I’m told I fell asleep almost instantaneously and began muttering about like a fevered 4-year-old. I don’t think I believe it (though I also don’t remember any of the aforementioned game. Not even sure if it was baseball or basketball...hmm).

But it goes unsaid that the cockiness I boasted upon entering Six Flags was absolutely nonexistent by the car ride home. And here, I guess, is the type of instance in which I do believe in that karma crap; The day before had been simply fabulous and I was being a pain in the ass to boot, so it only goes to reason that I was going to get mine. When, I ask you, will I ever learn?

And though I mastered the thrill-ride threat that day, I have a sneaking suspicion my time as a daredevil is through. I just like my feet too damn much to continue testing fate much longer. Le sigh.

However. If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Six Flags and were wondering if I’d like to join, don’t count me out just yet. Let me know the time and place, and I’ll be there. I’ll be there with freaking bells on, I say! I’ll do the car ride, stay in the hotel, wander through Six Flags and arrive at The Titan. Then we’ll all look up, you’ll say “mother of God this is going to be FUN,” I’ll smile knowingly back…

And then I’ll hold your purses, because LIKE HELL I’m ever getting on that thing again.

Much love.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Kids are the best kind of birth control."

Well my dears, as in accordance with the academic calendar it is officially summertime. Hallelujah-praise-Jesus. I had my last final on Thursday, turned in a hellofa of a lit review on Monday, and spent the rest of last week fretting over three yet-to-be-written freelance articles. BUT. Now It Is Finished, all is complete, and I am well pleased.

However, my relief is stifled somewhat by a new looming Stress Monster: le summer job. For those of you gainfully/professionally employed, the race for summer break employment is a mere memory…one you don’t altogether miss, though part of you does thinks “dammit, where the hell is MY summer vacation? Effing bastard college folk and their summertime gallivanting!” But don’t be jel, my comrades. This ain’t the year to find steady-non-icky-and/or-demeaning temporary employment, and I should know. I’d been searching for what seemed like eons, only to decide that yes, the entire Earth is gone to pot and I’ll be a homeless vagabond come fall. (And I wasn’t kidding about the icky/demeaning job openings…icky=cleaning stalls at some mini-zoo in Moore, and demeaning=sales clerk at Christie’s Toybox. Both are real jobs I discovered, then promptly said hellllllllstotheno and moved onward with my Craigslist perusing. I’ll live on the street before I’ll shovel elephant poop or sell vibrators. My humbleness goes only so far.)

But after reconsidering selling my Life Fluid (aka blood plasma) so as to pay rent/eat this summer, my countless hours of obsessive Craigslisting finally paid off; I now have a cozy little position at a local area church. I’ll be assisting with their summer camp program, and I’ll specifically care for the 2 and 3-year-olds. Mission accomplished, crisis evaded.


I am now fighting a plague of apprehension bubbling in the pit of my stomach…as the day of reckoning looms nigh and I’m faced with actually going to this church and manning a Universe of Toddlers, the sense of sweet preciousness associated with childcare is fastly waning. I can no longer cling to the mental image of rocking quiet, adoring baby-chillens while singing “Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird” and feeling triumphantly maternal…now I must comprehend the actual reality of my self-imposed summer sentence, and I’m not quite as keen on it as I was on my fictitious Baby Land.

Now don’t get me wrong here...I like kids. I do. And I’m told I’m good with them, though I can’t imagine anyone would ever say otherwise. I’ve successfully cared for children through art camps and swimming pools and games of Red Rover, and not a single one has expired on my watch. So that’s good, and 10 points for me.

But yesterday I spent the afternoon with two arguably adorable toddler-relatives, and instead of bolstering my love of youngens it very nearly shattered my belief in the point of human reproduction altogether. If you think I’m joking, you would be wrong. And as I pondered my existential crisis brought on by mere mini-people, the magnitude of my commitment to this church congregation and its offspring hit me like a brick wall…or maybe a great big wall of dirty diapers. I think that’d be worse.

(I’ll preface this story by saying these children are delightful, because indeed they are. They have awesomely good genetics; plus, when you’re 2 or 4 years old and have the blonde/blue eye combo, all you have to do is smile and the world melts at your tiny feet. It’s science. And these kids are good, too…not angels by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re not like that kid on The Omen or anything.)

So. I knew this day of kid-caring was coming, as Sister was homeward bound and thus the entire family need convene and say “yep…Rachel’s still skinny and un-pregnant.” (My relatives don’t understand life without husbands and babies. You can therefore imagine how pleased they are with me.) But despite eminent criticism of my utter failure in snagging a manfriend with viable swimmers, I was looking forward to the day. I do enjoy family togetherness (call me a masochist), plus I viewed it as practice for my upcoming role as Mother Goose/Best Childcare Provider in All the Land.

And practice it was.

First, child 1 (we’ll call her “Ella”) wanted me to put on her tennis shoes for her. “So I can run around,” she says. So I put on her tennis shoes…they’re rainbow, and we have a good chat about colors and how green is better than yellow and what have you. All is well.

Then, not 5 minutes later, Ella tells me she’d like to take off her tennis shoes. “Why?” I ask patiently. “I thought you wanted to run around.” She ponders this, decides it doesn’t necessitate an answer, and continues to insist I help her take off the tennis shoes. Now Ella is four, and therefore capable of some logical reasoning. I reiterate that she can’t run around if I take off her tennis shoes…her other pair are flip-flops, and I explain that flip-flops aren’t good for playtime. Ella tilts her head. She’s irritated, and her fascination with our dialogue is clearly subsiding. I can see a hissy fit festering behind her eyes, and just as I prepare to be yelled at the “lunch is ready!” announcement is made. Ella immediately forgets the shoe debacle, grabs my hand and says “help me get food!” I agree with little hesitation; sure she’s a bit tiring, but at least the kid can be distracted.

The rest of the afternoon was a haze of confrontation; Ella would do something and I’d say “no,” then she’d try it another way and I’d say, “still NO, Ella.” Then she’d want to do something on her own (I received several Stuart-esque LEMME DO IT’s yesterday), and I’d then wrestle mentally with whether or not to let her. Namely, she very much wanted to tote about her own plate of food. Not a difficult task for someone her age, but we were dealing with paper cutlery and Ella is pretty ADHD. But after several moments of mental debate, I decided to let her. And then there were baked beans all over the floor.

Now as I said, there were two tiny tots at this particular gathering. The other, Ella’s younger but equally formidable brother, is 2 years old and about as cute as a lil bug. Like a lil rolly polly or something…or whatever other bug is widely thought of as cute. “Braden” spent most of the day with Sister, being hauled around from swing-set to jungle gym to picnic table to wiffle ball game. He was very good for the most part- a little mopey perhaps, but he’s two and thus allowed to be in a constant state of moodiness. There is such truth to the term “terrible two’s.” But my point is he wasn’t terrible…he latched onto Sister and stayed peaceful most of the day, save for a few dramatic “ELLA MADE ME FALL DOWN” incidents that were quickly appeased with brightly colored Bocci balls. But despite Braden’s generally good behavior for her, I watched as Sister withered from exhaustion in a matter of 4 hours. She was a trooper, for sure…she enjoyed Braden’s affection, and the fact that he kept coming back to her reassured her innate need to be maternally capable. But she was visibly worn by the attention, and at day’s end she collapsed facedown on my parent's couch and started begging all who had ears to hear for neck rubs and pain pills.

The day was trying for both of us; we still enjoyed the family camaraderie (and I only got berated for being unwed on three occasions, which absolutely is a record), but by the time we’d handed Ella and Braden back to their parents we wanted nothing more than to have our tubes tied in double- make that triple- knots.

But actually and tragically, I don’t think that’s entirely true. Yes, Sister was almost mentally and physically defeated by a two-year-old yesterday, but I think if I asked her now she’d say she really liked her Day as Mommy (and I would ask her now, but she’s off having dinner at The Bistro in Tulsa. See, Sister? I listen). In fact, I bet she’d say it made her want to pop out some babies ASAP…a revelation that would have both her husband and my grandma in tears, but for very different reasons. So the saddest thing in all this is that I, the Professional Childcare/Diaper-Changer To Be, am now legitimately concerned for my psychological stability following 3 months in Little People Land.

I’ll do it, of course…and I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it, once the FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THE ANSWER IS STILL NO mental screaming subsides. I’ll probably even enjoy it after a bit, though I know I’ll quickly tire of 3-year-old miscreant boys who STILL can’t find their ways to a toilet. Seriously, what is wrong with mini-menfolk that they can’t figure that out? What are Freud’s thoughts on that one?

But no matter how this new venture in employment unfolds, I can almost guarantee it won’t have the same affect on me as one afternoon with Braden had on Sister. I’m just not the kind of girl who holds a baby and begins to spontaneously ovulate. If anything, I’m the girl who holds a baby and thinks WHY GOD WHY DO PEOPLE EVER HAVE SEX? Yesterday my aunt said to Sister and me “kids are the best kind of birth control, ehh?” I may have been the only one nodding, but I did so vigorously enough for the both of us.

Ahh well, this’ll be good for me and my patience (or lack thereof). I need a break from academic nonsense, and I do like watching young minds tick and think and grow. Plus, there is naptime…and before you sass me YES I KNOW it’s not a naptime for me. But it does mean they’ll be still for at least one hour each day, and as long as I have a moment or two of quiet I think I’ll be able to endure the 7 subsequent hours of chaos. Here’s hoping, at least.

So if you see me in August with my hair gray and my eyes bloodshot and my expression crazed, you’ll know without question that I’ve successfully completed one summer in the Universe of Toddlers. And if that’s the case, serious congratulations will be in order. So gimme a smile and buy me a drink (because God knows I’ll need it), and ask me what’s next on my list of things to do. Chances are I’ll say "join a nunnery" or some nonsense, just to assure you I didn’t cave and catch Baby Fever from the nursery. (There's a decent chance I'll have caught lice, however; a possibility I’ve been warned about and am none too excited to see fulfilled.)

Then I’ll probably head off for the gym, no doubt to do some crunches and planks and such. Because after 3 months of childcare, I’ll want to celebrate the awesomeness that is my un-pregnant, un-saggy, un-withered-by-chillens body. And the best part of an untainted-by-babies frame are one's abs, so I’ll work extra hard to keep those toned and trim.

After all, one of the greatest things about not being a mother is the ability to have a flat tummy…and after this summer, I’ve got a feeling my tummy will remain very flat for a very long time.

Much love.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Empty Promises of Patrick Swayze's Hips

NOTE: The following is a piece I wrote for class, but in the spirit of posting something to the ol' blog during this frenzied finals week I thought I'd share it now. My professor told me to address love and relationships from my position as a woman scorned. (Where he got the "scorned woman" thing I HAVE NO IDEA, as I'm very much a hopeless romantic and am not the least bit cynical. ...oh bugger off, what do you know?) Kristina should be especially happy to see this, as she's been wanting to read it for quite some time. I hope the rest of you enjoy it too, and much love.

When I was 11 years old and Sister 13, we were finally, finally allowed to watch Dirty Dancing (which in retrospect is still dreadfully young. Abortion? Teen sex? The side of Patrick Swayze’s naked ass? It’s a miracle Sister and I turned out as morally sound as we did). We were overjoyed to the point of giddiness for two reasons:

1. Everyone else our age had already seen it and, as we were both socially…challenged, we felt being up on Baby and Johnny’s torrid love affair would help our cool-factor (it did not).
2. We were young and naïve, and therefore still completely enamored with the ideals of movie love.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this second point would prove to create an earth-shattering crossroad in my life.

I remember sitting Indian-style in front of the TV (in the‘90s “sitting Indian style” wasn’t so un-PC), totally engrossed in Johnny’s chin-dimple and the way his hips moved when he danced. Sister sat beside me, no closer than 3 feet to the screen as that was the rule, and together we settled in for 100 minutes of mild raunchiness never before experienced by our virginal eyes.

Without realizing it, we were building our expectations of our existences to come; we were on the verge of transitioning into teenagers (a conversion that would result in our hating each other for 3 to 5 years), and we were thus on the cusp of boys and relationships and first romances. And as the opening credits rolled and sweaty miscreants grinded in slow-mo to “Be My, Be My Baby,” a societal fairy-tale began seeping into our impressionable minds.

Then, somewhere between “I carried a watermelon” and “nobody puts Baby in a corner,” my all-business, proud-feminist mother marched into the room. Standing defiantly in front of the screen, she put her hands on her hips and in her sternest, do-not-question-what-I’m-about-to-tell-you voice said, “This is not how it happens in real life.” Then she turned on her heels and was gone.

This is not how it happens in real life.

Sister and I were frozen in place, not knowing what to do but being entirely aware that, on some fundamental level, our views of the world had been forever changed. After several moments of stunned silence, we turned back to the TV and pretended not to be scarred for life. We still enjoyed the movie; we booed when Johnny got fired and we cheered when Baby did the lift, but underneath our exaggerated reactions, we knew a part of our souls had died.

At least, that’s what I thought at the time.

For many years following that memorable incident I held a tiny grudge against my mother. I thought her words were completely unwarranted, and I attributed them to some sinister desire to hurt my feelings/be a mean-spirited-dream-crusher (keep in mind that at this point I was the epitome of a foul-tempered teenager, and I was pretty much in a mood 24 hours a day). More than anything in the world I wanted to believe my mother was wrong, and I’d therefore be damned before I’d heed her warning.

Then real life happened to me.

At 17 years old my first love was what you might expect; I fell fast and hard, named both of our future children (Robert and Amber), let him sloppy-French-kiss me even though I hated it, and began preparations for our long, happy life together. And then, just as I was becoming convinced that there was no truth to the saying “love hurts” or to my mother’s words, he dropped by my house one night and lowered the boom: he didn’t love me anymore. Suddenly I knew what it was to have a broken heart.

At that point in my naïveté I still wanted to believe the fairy-tale, so when he called two months (and 12 pounds of woe-is-me-weight-loss) later, I joyously accepted his proposal to get back together. Maybe this was my dream come true! In every life some rain must fall, right? But now things would work out and be perfect…the break-up would become a distant memory, and now I’d have my Prince Charming.

I don’t have to tell you what happened next.

So after heartbreak #2 and 8 more pounds lost, I finally decided to branch out to new specimens. I started dating other guys…some secret pot-heads who used me for free meals, others manipulative womanizers who pitted me against their exes. There were those who called me a “princess” and then hit on my friends, and some who told me they loved me (but could I just dress differently and be less opinionated?).

With every new date seemed to come a new disappointment, and I quickly lost faith in relationships altogether. If true love existed, then where was my perfect romance? Where was my slow dance ‘neath the moon? Where the hell was my Johnny?!

And then my mother’s words played quietly through my head.

This is not how it happens in real life.

Our society sets us up to believe in love at first sight and happy endings and Johnny Castles. We’re raised in a culture where reality is considered over-rated; people would rather seek movie-perfection and fail trying than settle for the world as it actually is. I don’t claim this as an original thought; we all know romances like that between Johnny and Baby are oversimplified and idealistic. We’ve all heard “only in the movies,” and few of us would admit to believing a Cinderella story could happen for us.

And yet, we do believe it….or at least, we’re keen enough on the idea to feel slightly cheated when our relationships don’t turn out that way. That’s not to say my past beaus were actually upstanding gentlemen, because they weren’t. I had remarkably poor taste in the past, and I’m hoping to God that I’ve since learned from my mistakes. But there is merit in expecting something human from your relationships- and by “human” I mean complicated, often frustrating, awkward at times, and most of all…real.

Johnny wasn’t real, and Baby wasn’t either. He wouldn’t have abandoned his playboy ways for the cute-ish girl named Frances, and she would never have been able to learn to dance like that (I mean, come on). But if you think about it, who would want that kind of relationship anyway? Real love can’t survive between wayward bad-boys and innocent do-gooder girls (and I should know, as that’s what caused heartbreak # 3).

So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: for anyone younger and thus less baggage-riddled than I, please heed the lesson my (come to find out, well-intentioned) mother once tried to teach me. Do not expect perfection. Do not expect swells of music when you kiss, or heartfelt I love yous on the second date, or hand-holding strolls on the beach that fade to black and end with the assumption of happily ever-after. Because as a wise woman once warned me, This is not how it happens in real life.

In real life there is heartache. There is arguing, and tension, and differing opinions and constant compromising. Sometimes your relationships won’t work out; you may be mistreated, and karma may never avenge you. You might be lonely for a little while. You might be lonely for a long while. And you may never have a blockbuster “love realized” moment to rival Johnny and Baby’s legendary last dance.

But if you’re very patient and just a bit lucky, you might find somebody who is pretty great - who cares about you and understands how you feel and wants to support you from day-to-day. You may meet someone who makes you laugh and holds you while you sleep, and you may just find someone who will love you for exactly who you are.

And if you do find that, don’t be deterred if there are bumps in the road or if his hips don’t move quite like Johnny’s. Trust me on this one, or at least trust my mother; your romance won’t be like Johnny and Baby’s, and that’s okay. Because real life love isn’t like movie love. It’s something a little bit different. It’s something a little more complicated. It’s something a little more real.

And real is always better in the long run…even if you never go dirty dancing.

This is dedicated to the eternally dreamy Patrick Swayze
, who put my middle name on the map and made me proud to be a Frances.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not all who wander are aimless

When I was a minor and thus still under the organizational genius of my type-A mom, I was made to sort through each year’s worth of homework and mementos for future keepsake purposes. At the end of every school year I’d experience a mixture of joy and dread; joy for the upcoming freedom and swimming pools and late-sleeping provided by the structure of summer vacation, and dread for two very memorable reasons:

1. Impending summer homework (as generated by my mom’s aforementioned organizational genius)
2. Categorizing my mounds o’ crap into an easily filed folder of the most meaningful assignments of the year

I hated it…hated having to sort through page after page of Geometry homework and sight-reading practice sheets and color-coded maps of America and what have you. Sister and I would sit down together and proceed with our sifting, and absolutely every year she finished first; partly because she saw it as a friendly competition that she WOULD NOT STAND TO LOSE, and partly because I’d get so distracted reminiscing that I’d become sidetracked and forget my objective entirely. Ahh, ADD.

But. I am now thankful for my 14-color-coordinated folders (one for each year from preschool through 12th grade). My mother’s meticulous foresight has provided hours of nostalgic remembering, and yesterday provided one such incident of looking-back. Instead of writing my 20 page literature review or searching for summer employment or seeking more freelance work, I chose to go through my Complete Education History: Abridged. The ADD of my childhood follows me still (and also does the laziness).

So I started with my countless craft projects from Peace Lutheran Preschool; there were finger-paintings and construction paper cutouts, but most of all there were drawings. I loved to draw from the first moment I held a pencil (left-handed, of course), and I still find myself doodling when I should probably be paying attention in class. The creative mind must not be stifled. My parents love to recount the day I drew every scene of The Nutcracker from memory, and in my preschool folder I found the infamous collection of sketches. I was 4 years old at the time (and quite a bit awesome, I might add).

Then I filtered through 1st grade, and found a letter from my teacher saying that I was an excellent writer. 6 years old and already a master of the written word…my school folders were proving to be an unexpected and welcome ego-boost.

I went all the way through high school, which helped replant my feet firmly upon the ground…I knew I was obsessed with *Nsync in the 9th grade, but I’d chosen to forget that I signed all of my assignments as “Frankie Timberlake.” I am dead serious. I’d also chosen to forget that my vocabulary sentences revolved entirely around *Nsync members. Example:

“Joey hoped a friendly smile and wave would help appease his adoring fans.”


One such assignment (which also included a darling little sketch of Justin with an unidentified blond girl (what do you wanna bet it was Frankie Timberlake?)), was graded with a 95% and an “ugg!”. Dear Mrs. Spain had written “ugg!” next to my drawing…not because it was bad necessarily, but because beneath it I’d also written “Justin is my baby!!!!!” I kid you not. 11 years have passed since my wayward years as a teenybopper, and yet I still felt mortified upon seeing that.

But by far and without a doubt the most appalling part of my walk down Memory Lane came in my 4th grade folder. On a poorly folded piece of notebook paper (as I was never one of those girls who could fold paper into a triangle or a bird or the Taj Mahal), was a list:

10 things I want to do before I’m 20

I was immediately enticed. What could my 10-year-old self have dreamed for my future? What great goals of grandeur did I wish to attain? I anxiously read through the list, mentally patting myself on the back upon each aspiration achieved. Go to college…check. Get a puppy…check. Go to high school……they were a little out of order, but check! I was 10 for God’s sake; when you’re 10 college can come before high school. The only goal I didn’t meet was to become a professional dancer, which I discovered at age 14 was not something I really wanted to do. Socializing, having functional toes, and eating were far too important to me. But then, just as I was feeling good about my life’s achievements as of age 20, I got to number 8…and I stopped.

Because the list stopped.

I made a list entitled “10 things I want to do before I’m 20”…and I stopped at number 8.

At first I just laughed, because it is so very like me to get distracted and quit mid-project. I can’t tell you how many short stories I found yesterday that ended suspensefully with “and then,” a doodle of a butterfly, and several pieces of blank paper. Following through was never my style. But as I let myself ponder the list and my mindset as a 4th grader, and as I took note of the carefully written “9.” and “10.” that had no Life Dreams to accompany them, I came to a very real, and very depressing, understanding.

I was born without the motivation gene.

My whole life I’ve felt a little without. People all about me seemed to be chasing fantastic dreams - dream jobs, dream houses, dream cars - while I plodded along, happily but carelessly with my head permanently stuck in the clouds. I had aspirations, sure…but the central theme to my aspirations was that they changed. A lot. The only reason I stayed in Oklahoma for college was that I simply couldn’t make up my mind; one day I wanted to go to New York and study fashion design, the next I decided to head to Stilly for Vet school (until I realized Vet school required loads of math, and then it was promptly back to fashion). And as the years have progressed and my search for a Life Passion has improved with no statistical significance, I’ve really started to wonder if I’m destined to be a wanderer. A flake. A lost soul.

Then I found my list of 10 things I want to do before I’m 20, and I’d only filled out 8. And yeah…that pretty much sealed the deal on that whole debacle.

It seems I’m never going to be chasing the dream, as it’s hard to chase something you cannot see. Where’er I am, I’m this much happy and that much looking for bigger and better things. True, I go through better times and worse times, but I’ve never felt like I reached a pinnacle and could thus sit back and congratulate my awesomeness. Maybe it’s because I’m still young…or maybe it’s because my life isn’t defined by achievements.

But then, what is it defined by?

I think I was born in the wrong generation. I’m sure you’ve felt that way at times too; everyone learns about a certain period in history and thinks “damn, I would’ve made a fabulous Viking.” But it’s more than that for me; the ideology of 2009 just doesn’t fit my genetic make-up. I should’ve been a hippie, I tell you. I could’ve been happy protesting Nam and reciting poetry in the back of somebody’s VW (plus, I can rock bell-bottoms with the best of them).

Sister is well made for modern-day. She’s the perfect blend of nurturer and career-woman; she’ll dote on you and hold you when you cry, but if you go up against her for a job she will absolutely kick your ass. Yes, Sister will do fine in this new millennium. She’ll have a PhD, 2.5 kids, far more stress than she can handle and a house on the good side of the tracks. But as for me, I’m afraid I’ll always be one of those people who doesn’t quite fit. Others will look at me and think, “huh…such potential, and yet she remains a drifter. Tut tut.”

(We should all really start tut tutting again.)

I suppose I’ll stick with the old adage that my existence is not defined by the acquiring of tangible things. I will not be pacified by a house on Newport Beach or a Mercedes McLaren (although GOOD GOD I’d love to have one of those). No…my life - the life of a drifter, apparently - is about self-improvement, growth, learning, and a constant effort not to be a prat to those who love and care for me. And who knows; maybe someday I’ll discover a hidden dream that the gods of motivation have been leading me towards all along.

But until then I’m going to focus on the present. My newest goal (which is infinitesimal when compared to Aubrey’s goal of becoming a novelist or Chris’s goal of going to Dental school) is to get a dog. In a year, I’ll have a master’s degree and will be a far more matured and responsible person (and if you laugh I will cut you). So, my reward to myself will be a dog to call my own: a companion that will love and adore me and think me a god among men, simply because he won’t know any better. This plan is indeed flawless.

And, I’ve even decided upon a breed! I want a Bernese Mountain Dog. A Bernese Mountain Dog named Bernard. Yes, it is decided. It’s a small step, but for a dithering flake with little ambition and diagnosable ADD, it’s a start.

In one year, I will achieve my newest life goal: I will get a Bernese Mountain Dog named Bernard.

(….or maybe a German Shepherd named Lupin.)


Much love.