Friday, February 26, 2010

Suck It, Winter!

Hey, Winter! Go away! Nobody likes you anymore, and by nobody, I mean me. And everyone else. And your Mom.

The following are my top 10 reasons why winter can suck it:

10. Winter is clearly the culprit behind my epic case of blogger's block this week. Thanks for sticking around and visiting the Porch even though I've struggled with posts lately (just read this one if you need an example). You're soooo good to me - unlike winter, which is a rotten SOB. I suspect winter is the love child of Ann Coulter and Hitler.

9. I can't take any more clever plays on snow words: snowpocalypse, snowmageddon, catasnowphe. Please, you punny people: Snow more!

8. Winter made me peel the plastic off of a big-ass block of cheddar cheese and eat it like a candy bar. Surprisingly, it did not have a nougat center.

7. Winter also made me bread and fry everything in my house: onions, pickles, banana peppers, donuts, bacon, bacon-wrapped donuts... (See that down there? I made that. Actually, now that I think about it, this was the only part of winter I've enjoyed).

6. I've forgotten what I look like beneath the thick purple fleece robe I've dubbed the "Grape Ape." But I'm guessing if I ever disrobed, underneath Grape Ape you'd find "the suit", which is flannel pants, a football t-shirt and an unbuttoned flannel pajama top that may or may not match the pants. Don't scoff. I'm a hot mess, if by "hot" you mean "sweating because she is covered from head to toe in flannel and fleece."

5. Thanks to winter, I have been so bored that - get this - I actually considered having sex as a form of entertainment. My spouse was incredibly excited by the prospect; unfortunately, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, forcing the husband to wait an additional six weeks for the Grape Ape's removal. Tough break, honey! Only a few more weeks! (Umm, can anyone get me Phil's digits? I might need him to see his shadow around March 20. Thanks).

4. Winter has turned me into the old lady who drinks coffee all day long and opens a facebook account for her cat. I'd close it, if she weren't so darn witty with the updates: Kitteh iz not amused by her photo on Icanhazcheezburger and will cut youz bitchez.

3. Winter brings out my cruel streak. I built a snowman only for the sick satisfaction of watching him suffer a slow, horrible demise once the temperature reached 40. It was oddly satisfying to watch his giant snow head plop off and roll down our front-yard hill - though not as satisfying as, oh say, fried banana peppers.

2. Winter is the culprit behind increasing tension between Americans and Russians. Olympic figure skaters Evan Lysacek and Evgeni Plushenko are just one tickle fight away from launching us into a new Cold War, or Ice War, to be precise. When the American Lysacek (who has bangs) captured the gold medal, defending champion and Vancouver silver medalist Plushenko (who has a mullet) claimed men's figure skating was now merely "dancing." Of course, Plushenko said this as he was wearing a sparkly unitard. To add insult to injury, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin sent Plushenko a telegram that said his silver medal was "worth gold." Plushenko one-upped that, declaring on his web site that he won "platinum" in Vancouver. Clearly, these two studs need to get back in the rink and present "Rocky IV on Ice", so Americans can once again unite over our mutual hatred of Russians. WOLVERINES!

1. Winter tests my patience. Spring, wonderful Spring, will show itself eventually. I know it will. But until then, denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Brain Drain

So I had every intention of posting something new today, but apparently my brain never returned from the weekend. Throughout the day, I stared at a blank Word document and was all, "Hey, Brain. It's Monday. Get with the program, already!" But Brain was all, "Duuuuude, bite me." Then Brain pulled the covers up over its neocortex, and I was out of luck.

Since Brain was sleeping off an apparent bender, I dug through the old writing folders to see if I could find a piece to rework and share. What I found instead was the reason why poor Brain refuses to budge occasionally. Seriously. Don't wake Brain. It needs the rest.

My writing ranges from gut-wrenching personal pieces to fluffy, frivolous essays to perplexing poetry to ridiculous raps. Am I diverse, or do I need to get Brain a strong prescription? You decide.

This piece, dated 2003, was scribbled on a piece of loose-leaf paper and shoved in the back of my writing folder. It must have been written during my "I wish I was an angry black coffeehouse poet" phase. And I also think I maybe had a thing for Tom Brokaw.

Mr. Anchorman

Mr. Anchorman
Thirty-nine ninety-eight is what I pay
So the satellite can relay
The talking heads
Who recap the day.

War, War
Raging at our door.
Please, Mr. Anchorman,
Tell me no more.

Drought and famine
Fury and flood
Worldwide epidemics
Sidewalks of blood.

Cheating and thieving.
And the children are crying
Lip speak and lip service,
While children are dying.

Weaponized mail
Disease in a box
Tragedies, terrorists
The plague and small pox.
Police in our schools
Bombs stockpiled
Our freedoms eroded
Our flag reviled.

The satellite sends
Each day's carnage.
It bounces through space
On its way to bombard us.
Into our family rooms
The images pour
From lips paid to comfort
Like tongues of a whore.

Even the children
Know the world is a mess.
You can't erase fear
From your anchorman desk.
Are they safe and protected
In their beds each night?
Mr. Anchorman,
Can we make it right?

War, War
Raging at the door
Please, Mr. Anchorman,
Tell me no more.

Mmmmmmkay. That was an angry, troubled day for Brain.

In stark contrast, the writing folder also revealed this little ditty Brain crafted as an homage to Chocodiles (the delicious Hostess cakes of my childhood, tragically now only available on the West Coast). I wrote this during my "I wish I was a black Adam Sandler" phase.

The Chocodile Rap

When I was a kid
I had a favorite treat
Chocolate-dipped goodness
I loved to eat.

Mmmm, Chocodiles
Spongy cream-filled cake
Gooey chocolate yum
I could appreciate.

Not a chocolate Twinkie
That's an insult you hurl
At the best damn snack cake
T' ever grace this world.

When Mom would bring them home,
Had to hide them from my brothers
To save the Choco-yummy
From those greedy mother-fxxxers.

But all good things
Must come to an end
So Hostess took my Chocs
And I'll never, ever mend

Hostess… why did you diss us?
Hostess.. why did you hurt us soooo?
Hostess… what were you thinkin'?
Hostess… where did my Chocodile go?

I heard they sent them West
To Californ-I.A.
The only place they're found
In the USA.

Da-amn, Chauncey
You said it'd take a while
But we never thought you'd leave
And take your Chocodiles.

Why can we get Chocs
Only out west?
We want them in the North, South, East
And all the rest.

Hostess…why did you diss us?
Hostess…why did you hurt us soooo?
Hostess… what were you thinkin'?
Hostess…where did my Chocodiles go?

It's a Chocodile dream
I can't let go
Gonna pack my minivan
And move West, you know.

Sure they got wildfires
Earthquakes and such
But in the 7-11s
I will finally touch…

The cake of my past
The cake of my dreams
Chocolate-coated sponge cake
Filled with cream.

Hostess…why did you diss us?
Hostess…why did you hurt us soooo?
Hostess…what were you thinkin'?
Hostess…where did my Chocodile go?

How can those two pieces possibly be written by the same person? I am either a creative juggernaut or borderline psychotic. At any rate, you now see why Brain needs the occasional vacation - or a nap, at the very least.

Shhhhhhhhh. Brain's sleeping. Let's be quiet lest we wake it because honest to goodness, the one time it stirred today, Brain wanted to write a piece about bikini waxing. No one needs to read that.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thanks for reading this post, even though I don't have a North Face jacket

My life is missing something. Sure, I have the husband, the girl, the boy, the dog, the cat, the house and the cool-ass minivan. I have food on the table, good health, paid bills, a secret stash of Doritos and a poster signed by Paolo Nutini. Perhaps it is selfish of me to want more.

But I do. Oh, yeah, I do.

I want comfort and warmth in cool to cold weather. I want abrasion-resistant fabric overlays. I want extremely durable anti-pill fabric and ecologically-friendly Polartec(c) 300 series fleece.

I want to be wilderness chic.

In other words, I want a North Face jacket, dammit!

Clearly, I am the only person on the planet who does not have a North Face jacket. My daughter and I recently tried to count people at the mall who weren't wearing The North Face apparel. We would have had better luck counting people who didn't sport antennae.

Foolishly, I hoped we could escape The North Face onslaught on our recent trek to D.C.. Sadly, it was even worse. We stayed in Arlington, and everywhere we looked, we were bombarded with the Half Dome, the Yosemite National Park granite monument that is the symbol of The North Face.

The guy in our hotel lobby? North Face.

The girl jogging down the street? North Face.

The group of middle school kids touring monuments? North Face. North Face. North Face.

The dude on the Metro, talking to that other dude on the Metro? North Face talking to North Face.

The guy hitting on that girl in the deli? Columbia Sportswear. She turned him down. Why? She had on North Face.

Clearly, I am a  l-o-s-e-r because I do not own anything North Face - not even the Boulder Peruvian II Beanie or Windstopper(R) Neck Gaiter. I am surprised I am allowed to leave my house in my non-North Face outerwear. It must be so awkward for the rest of you to see me. I'm terribly sorry.

The funny thing is, The North Face is geared to outdoorsy types: the hikers, skiiers, climbers, bikers, snowboarders and moutaineer sort. Yet it has crossed over to those who have only seen mountains on their iPhones: the yuppies, suburban teens and skinny-jean, Ugg-wearing gals. And everyone else - but me.

Go figure.

Obviously, The North Face has become a status thing, one of those must-have items that screams, "Look at me! I matter! I'm somebody special because I paid more money for this symbol thingy!"

I understand that feeling. When I was in seventh-grade, all the cool, popular junior high kids had K-Swiss tennis shoes. It didn't matter that they didn't know the difference between badminton and tennis racquets.  K-Swiss shoes equaled popularity. I'll never forget the feeling I had in science, when tall, blonde, lovely Paulette (who actually played tennis) walked in with her brand-new K-Swiss shoes. They were so white. So awesome. So not on my feet.

I knew right then and there that I must have a pair of K-Swiss. I begged my parents for days, weeks even, but they preached about how stupid it was to spend their hard-earned money on something just for the brand name; however, they completely underestimated the obnoxious powers of a hormonal 13-year-old girl who wanted something. Eventually I wore them down, and Dad took me downtown to the local shoe store, and <insert chorus of angels here> asked the salesman for a pair of Size 7 K-Swiss. I put them on and walked through the store.

They pinched my toes a little. Didn't matter. They were mine. I was instantly way cooler.

I imagine it's much the same today with The North Face craze - only the kids are bigger. We always want the new toy, gadget, brand, don't we? We think that a brand or symbol will miraculously improve our status, and therefore, our lives.

That made me think about all the ways my life would be better if I had a North Face jacket:
  • My children would never, ever argue if I had a North Face jacket.
  • I would be able to eat cupcakes all day long, never workout and maintain an awesome body if I wore a North Face jacket.
  • I would never grow old as long as I wore my North Face jacket.
  • Hugh Jackman would come live in my closet, just so he could be close to my North Face jacket.
  • I would discover a cure for cancer in my North Face jacket.
  • Osama Bin Laden would release a new video, in which he declares, "We now love the United States, since everyone in your glorious country finally has a North Face jacket."
  • Christian Bale would never say the f-word again if he heard I had a North Face jacket, unless it was to say, "Jennifer, that's the coolest f-ing North Face jacket I've ever seen. I must f-ing have you right f-ing now."
  • I could probably fly and turn invisible if I had a North Face jacket, but I would never turn invisible because then you couldn't see my North Face jacket.
Clearly, my life is an empty shell without The North Face in it. Could someone at least buy me The North Face visor? Or the crew socks?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day. So what if the florists and card companies suckered everyone? I still heart Heart Day!

Here's a photo sampling of Valentine's Day on the Porch:

I made treats for my sweets...

And my sweets gave me treats...

But my favorite Valentine of the day (perhaps of all time) was lovingly handcrafted by my first-grade son...

In case you're unfamiliar with child script, it reads, "You're so awesome. Better than a possum."

Did I mention we live in Kentucky?

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all. I think you guys are better than possums.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

One Woman's Dream: An Urgent Appeal to the IOC

With awe and wonder, I watched the hologram-tastic Olympic opening ceremonies last night. I thoroughly enjoyed the pageantry, the pomp and the beads of sweat that popped out on Wayne Gretzky's upper lip when there was a glitch in lighting the Olympic cauldron.

No, the winter show wasn't as glitzy as Beijing's opening ceremonies two years ago, but the imagery showcasing Canada's splendor was spectacular, nevertheless. As my friend Eric said, it made me proud to be a Canadian. (Only Eric is not Canadian, and neither am I. But we can dream, eh?)

Speaking of dreams, I, too, have dreamed of competing for Olympic gold.

I fondly recall donning my little pink leotard and flipping around my parents' living room during the summer games, trying my best to emulate the gymnasts. Sadly, Mom and Dad banned me from their living room during the 2008 games because they said my leotard makes them "uncomfortable."


Sure, I'm almost 40, but I don't think it's too late to give up on my Olympic dream. Certainly, there is a way to get a non-athlete like me into the world's greatest competition. No, I don't think I'll be stepping onto the podium for skiing, sprinting, swimming or any of the other traditional contests. But there must be a place for me in the Olympics somewhere.

All I need to do is create an event, be the best at said event and convince the International Olympic Committee to add my event to the games. That can't be too difficult. I'm sure people once scoffed at the trampoliners, race walkers and rhythmic gymnasts, too. But who makes fun of them now? Hmmm?

The following are the events I hope the IOC will consider for my Olympic berth:

Sock Skating:

After years of fierce competitions with my siblings on my parents' linoleum kitchen floor as a child, sock skating could very well propel me to the podium at the Olympics. I hate to brag, but I have speed, agility and grace. Well, at least I have speed and agility. Well, okay, I have speed. Well, speed-ish. Well, mostly just ish, but I have a lot of that.

Put on fuzzy socks, add a slippery floor and watch me get all early '90s, bad-ass Tonya Harding up in here. In fact, I never walk down the hall anymore. I slide 'cause that's how I roll (into the wall at the end of the hallway).

Don't try to out-sock skate me, or so help me, I will take out your kneecap with a pipe.

Toilet Paper Roll Changing

That's right. I can change a toilet paper roll with the best of them. Get this: I remove the old roll and put it in the trash can. Sounds easy, right? Nope. I then must pick up a new roll of toilet paper and - dunDunDUN - put the new roll on the roll hanger.

Toilet paper roll changing apparently takes incredible skill because no one else in my home ever does it. And I mean EVER. It must be extremely difficult and therefore, an Olympic-worthy event.

Eating Every Potato Chip That Ever Existed

Don't roll your eyes at me. I've seen competitive eaters on ESPN, so this must be considered a sport. There's even an International Federation of Competitive Eating. They have a seal and everything! That sounds pretty darn "Olympic" to me.

The Olympics are all about sports, right? Eating is a sport, according to the IFOCE. And chips are meant to be eaten. Therefore, if a=b and b=c, then I can eat potato chips in the Olympics.

In my never ending quest to find chips as tasty as the bag of taco Doritos I polished off in 1979, I have sampled every new potato chip that makes its way onto the store shelves. I've tried them all: barbecue, cheese, sour cream and onion; Fritos, Doritos, Tostitos; puffs, rings, scoops. Heck, I once even tried a bag of chips that had nothing but a giant question mark on the package, daring me to sample them and name the flavor. As I recall, it was Southwestern ranch meets dill pickle meets dog breath (funny that FritoLay rejected my flavor suggestion). As nasty as those nameless chips were, I ate every single one of them because, like an Olympian, I don't quit when it gets difficult.

I love chips, man. And don't Olympic athletes love what they do? Isn't that why they do it? They push the limits, hoping to be the world's best. I push the chips…into my mouth…hoping to eat the world's best.

Same thing.

Porch Swinging While Sipping Wine

Folks, don’t try this at home unless you're a trained porch swinger/wine drinker. Porch swinging while sipping wine has a high degree of difficulty: the more wine you drink, the more difficult it becomes to stay on the swing.

Points will be deducted for both spilling and sloshing. Still, after years of practice, I think I could be the Nadia Comaneci of swing sipping and score perfect 10s. But if I don't win gold, I won't really care after a couple of glasses of wine.

Cutting Oneself on Objects Previously Considered Harmless

This event practically guarantees me a gold necklace. In an earlier post, I told you how ridiculously clumsy I am. I'm proud to say that like a true Olympian, I've taken my game to a whole notha' level.

Earlier this week, I managed to slice my finger open on a vitamin. Yes, a vitamin. All I wanted to do was snap that One A Day multivitamin in half. After much straining, sweating and swearing, I finally succeeded. I was about to pop half the pill in my mouth, when I noticed my knuckle was bleeding profusely. Somehow, I had sliced it open in my effort. I have no idea how that happened, but I then had to take the entire vitamin to restore the iron I lost bleeding. Go figure. As a friend of mine pointed out, the incident gives all new meaning to the song, "Jagged Little Pill."

I have also cut myself while doing mundane things like vacuuming, making the bed and even washing my face. All this begs the question: Are Olympic athletes like myself born or made?

I think perhaps I was born for cutting oneself on objects previously considered harmless; however, I have perfected my skills through years of abusing myself. If only it could one day bring me Olympic glory!

I can hear Bob Costas announcing my Olympic moment now…

Bob Costas: Jennifer Jenkins Reese from Team USA just entered the arena to wild applause and has taken her place next to the other competitors. As you know, Jenkins Reese has already captured Olympic gold in sock skating, toilet paper roll changing, eating every potato chip that ever existed and porch swinging while sipping wine.

"If she wins gold in cutting oneself on objects previously considered harmless, she will be the only athlete to ever win the gold medal in five brand-new, completely unrelated, somewhat ridiculous Olympic events. There's a rumor going around Olympic Village that Jenkins Reese bitch-slapped Michael Phelps until he cried last night in a hotel bar and told him, and I'm quoting here, 'Suck it, Has-been.'

"Word has it, Phelps is in the arena today to see if Jenkins Reese can pull it off ... and/or possibly to score a little something from the Peruvians.

"Today's competition is about to begin, and they are not making it easy on these athletes, folks. Sure these competitors are naturally clumsy and imminent dangers to themselves, but it will take remarkable effort to cut oneself on a pair of socks, a clump of cotton balls and a down pillow. Let's see if Jenkins Reese has what it takes.

"She's up first. The crowd has grown quiet and it's very intense in here as Jenkins Reese stares down the clump of cotton balls, planning her first move.

"As is required of all athletes in this contest, she must first put on her safety helmet. She is doing that now--

"OH NO! Oh my God! Oh my God! Can you all see that? There is blood gushing everywhere! Jenkins Reese has her hands wrapped around her neck and blood is literally oozing between her fingers. It appears … can it be? Yes, she has sliced open her carotid artery while trying to fasten her helmet's chin strap! This is amazing! What a fierce competitor!

"Let's check in with Scott Hamilton who has rushed to the arena floor to take a closer look. Scott?"

Scott Hamilton: Bob, this is wonderfully fantastic! Jenkins Reese is waving off the paramedics as all the color drains from her face and she turns ghastly pale. It's beyond belief!

"I can tell you by their shocked expressions that the other athletes never saw this coming. It's absolutely brilliant on the part of Jenkins Reese to cut herself with the very safety helmet intended to protect her. Bob, I dare say that if she lives, she is going to clench that fifth gold medal. The Chinese and Russian coaches are shaking their heads. I don't see how anyone can possibly top this."

Bob Costas: Listen, Scott. Can you hear the crowd over Jenkins Reese's bloody neck gurgles? They are erupting into chants of 'U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!' We are witnessing Olympic history.

"Jenkins Reese has made us all so proud…I…I'm sorry. I'm tearing up her a little bit and finding it hard to stay composed in the midst of this awesome hero, this athlete who pushed the envelope, who skated in socks, who ate chips that tasted like pig testicles, who downed three bottles of wine and somehow stayed upright on a porch swing, who changed every roll of toilet paper in the Olympic village, including Team Mexico's, and who now is miraculously, bravely giving the thumbs up from the ambulance stretcher. Astonishing!"

Scott Hamilton: Bob, if I can correct something you said there. Jenkins Reese is indeed raising an appendage, but, umm, that's not a thumb.

"That's her middle finger. It appears she's directing it right at Michael Phelps…."

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Lovett Affair

Alright! Alright! I admit it. I have a secret love - so secret, in fact, that he doesn't even know he's my secret love. I'm stealthy like that.

He's an older gentleman with enough genuine Texas cowboy in him to make me wanna' giddy up. He's smart and charming. He waxes poetic and strums a mean guitar. He makes me swoon and cry and laugh, sometimes all in the same song. Even better, he has a really big ... coif.

That's right. I Lovett him. Lyle, that is.

I have eclectic taste in music, and I truly enjoy all genres. But few musicians speak to my soul like Lovett. A photographer friend introduced me to Lovett's music in 1991, when I was a lowly newsroom intern. I knew instantly I would love him forever.

See, friends, when you love Lyle Lovett, you truly, wholly love him. You unapologetically roll down your windows on summer evening drives, inhaling honeysuckle as he serenades you with songs of love gone wrong ("L.A. County") or love so right ("South Texas Girl") or love somewhere in between ("Nobody Knows Me"). You genuinely laugh out loud when he sings the whimsical "Keep it in Your Pantry" or "She's No Lady." You feel inexplicably hopeful when he sings, "I Will Rise Up/Ain't No More Cane" and inexplicably hopeless when he croons the haunting "Pontiac." And when he sings "If I Had a Boat", you actually wish you had a pony to ride upon a boat. You do!

How do you define Lovett's music? He's country, but not country. He intertwines his Texas twang (say that three times fast!) with jazz and blues, more than a touch of gospel and some down-home folksiness. He's like a pizza with the works; all the ingredients come together in such a deliciously rich and satisfying way that you think, "Hot damn! Pineapple does taste good on pizza!"

I had the honor of hearing Lovett live last year. When his distinctive sound reverberated through a beautiful Nashville symphony hall, I was sorely tempted to kick off my shoes and walk barefoot down the aisle to him. Oh, yes, Julia Roberts, I get it. I so get it.

Fortunately, I remembered that (a). I was already married and (b). snooty symphony hall crowds tend to frown on groupie wanna-bes.

What I really wanted to do, though, was ask Mr. Lovett to join me after the show for coffee and flapjacks. For one thing, flapjacks are delicious. But as a writer, I would relish the opportunity to pick Lovett's brain (assuming one can get to it beneath all that hair) about his creative process.

For he is not only a talented artist, but a true poet. He has an astounding collection of original songs, and whether they are blithe or evocative, they're brilliantly crafted.

I imagine he loses himself when he writes, and that the songs beckon him as much as he beckons them. I bet the stories come to him like the morning Texas sun filtering through thin curtains, softly at first, then expanding and brightening, until the room is warm with light.

Yeah. I told ya'. I love him (but not in the creepy, stalker-like way I love Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale).

So why am I sharing my secret love? Because a Lyle Lovett song is stalking me.

Lately, I can't escape his cover of Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You."

I turned on the car radio a few days ago and there it was - on a country station that I don't tune into regularly. The next day, it was the first song that popped up on a random iPod shuffle. And when flipping through channels Sunday, I stumbled upon the very scene when (ex-Mrs. Lovett) Julia Roberts sings "If I Needed You" in the movie, Stepmom.

If you're keeping up, that's three times I heard the song in one weekend. Coincidence? Perhaps, but it's enough to make me pay attention.

It's actually one of the rare songs Lovett sings that he did not write, but Lovett's version is heartwarming and haunting. Apparently, it's haunting me.

Since this song is following me around, I figure it wants to be shared; it has something to say. Turns out, the song makes me do a little soul-searching, and it brings me some peace in an unsettled time. Lovett's music has a way of doing that.

So is there an artist who speaks to your soul? Have you ever been haunted by a song? What musician would you invite for a night of coffee, conversation and flapjacks?

Please share.

And remember to thank the stars above for the poets and the songwriters, for the musicians and the storytellers, for the creative cowboys like Lyle Lovett.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl of Snacks

I don't care about the Super Bowl; however, I DO care about cheese dips, chips and football-shaped brownies. A lot.

Perhaps I'm a bit of an anomaly. I'm a football coach's wife who doesn't get excited about football. Oh, sure. I'll enthusiastically cheer for my husband's team because those 11 boys on the field (hopefully) secure my mortgage - and because Coach looks kind of cute when he blows his little whistle and makes a fuss.

Other than my vested interest in high school football, however, I don't care much for the gridiron.

So Super Bowl Sunday could be one giant suckfest for a non-football lover like me. Fortunately, the Super Bowl has other benefits - namely, Super Bowl snacks. Oh, how I adore the crunchy, chewy, salty, sweet, cheesy, gooey bite-sized finger foods that appear in droves on Super Bowl Sunday.

That's right. You can cheer all you want. You can yell and scream and throw things at the television. You can play silly Super Bowl games and make friendly wagers with friends.

While you're arguing over point spreads, I'll be spreading some cream cheese dip on a cracker.

While you're screaming at the referee that dude secured the first down before he was knocked out of bounds, I'll be bounding into the kitchen to down some Bud Light and Chex mix. (By the way, contrary to popular belief, the referee on television does not have the magical powers to hear you).

Here's what your Super Bowl football lingo means to me tonight:

Who Dat? Don't know. Don’t care. Please pass the layered Mexican dip.

The Colts? I'm not Peyton much attention. Now, get me another ham and cheese roll-up and a cookie.

First and ten? The first of ten chip varieties I'll be sampling today.

Quarterback? First quarter, I'm going back for more salsa. Second quarter, I'm going back for sausage balls. Third quarter, I'm going back for cocktail weenies. Fourth quarter, I'm going back for all of the above.

Pass? Pass me that pepperoni if you're not going to eat it.

Kicker? I'm gonna kicker your ass if you don't back away from my nacho dip.

Touchdown? Touch my belly. I think I can down a few more brownies, don’t you?

Field goal? My goal is to field the snacks on the kitchen counter at all times.

Super Bowl? Bowls of Super Snacks.

Mmmm. I'm hungry. When's kick off?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blame the Balloon

File this one under, "You know you're a moron when..."

Unfortunately, I have one sick child at home today and anticipate a phone call any moment from the school nurse about the other one. So this morning, in my pre-coffee haze, this germ-o-phobic mom grabbed one of those handy disinfecting wipes from my bathroom cabinet and proceeded to scrub down surfaces: door knobs, keyboards, remote controls, the fridge handles, phones, sinks and so forth.

Only after I had disinfected every surface in the house did I notice my disinfecting wipe had a softer, plusher texture than I remembered and smelled strangely of green tea and chamomile. At that moment, I realized that I had not, in fact, used a Lysol wipe to clean. Instead, I had swabbed everything down with a makeup remover towelette.

I'm not sure I sanitized anything, but by gosh, the remote controls and keyboards have never looked so fresh and dewy, and I suspect they won't have clogged pores anytime soon.

I'd love to say such epic brain failures are few and far between, but I'd be lying.

I have sprayed my hair with furniture polish instead of hairspray (my coif smelled of oranges and had a lovely sheen) and even rubbed my face's oily zone with nail polish remover instead of astringent (easy mistake: both liquids were blue).

I often put dinner in the oven but never turn on the appliance, resulting in delicious Chinese take-out. I also have made numerous pots of hot water in the morning because I didn't put coffee in the coffee maker (I need coffee to make coffee). Sadly, I have put the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the pantry so many times that the children and husband don’t even bother to mention it anymore. They simply sigh and pour me another cup of joe.

But even heavily caffeinated, I often make poor decisions that come back to bite me in the butt.

Last night, for instance, I decided it would be absolutely hi-larious to play recorded bird calls on the computer to drive my cat bonkers. Turns out, it's not particularly amusing when the cat goes friggin' insane, jumps on the desk, rears up on her hind legs and punches me in the face repeatedly.

Ah, yes, this brunette could easily be the target of blonde jokes, if it weren't for the fact that I'm, um, brunette.

Case in point:

During a recent hotel stay, I decided to forego the elevator and jog down all eight flights of stairs to the lobby. When I reached the first floor landing and pushed open the door, however, I found myself in the hotel laundry and maids' station (apparently, hotels do not actually believe guests will choose exercise over elevators). Embarrassed to have burst into the maids' quarters, I promptly shut the door.

Sharp cookie that I am, it occurred to me that I would have to grab the elevator, after all. I begrudgingly trudged back up the stairs -- all eight flights of stairs! Only when I reached my floor, jogged down the long corridor to the elevator and stood gasping for breath, did I realize I could have caught the elevator on the second floor.


I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm no Einstein, but I'm not the dullest knife in the drawer, either. So why do I do such seemingly dumb things?

Maybe I need more sleep and/or coffee. Maybe I sucked in too much of that sweet, smoky air at numerous rock concerts as a teen (I was just breathing, Mom and Dad! I tried not to inhale!). Maybe my mom dropped me on my head as a baby and never mentioned it.

Or maybe I should blame The Helium Tape Incident.

You see, long before helium balloons were used to launch six-year-olds into space in elaborate television hoaxes, they were utilized for more innocent purposes, like raising one's voice to high, cartoon-like levels.

So one boring spring afternoon when I was a teen-ager, I decided it would be hysterical to suck the helium from a birthday balloon and record my munchkin voice on a cassette tape (yes, cassette. I'm prehistoric. I also played Zork on a Commodore 64, but I digress…)

Oh, how amusing The Helium Tape would be when played for my friends and family later. So after I pressed the "Play" and "Record" buttons simultaneously on my awesome, super rad boom box, I punctured the big Mylar balloon, pressed my lips to it and inhaled [ssssssssssssssss], repeatedly. When my family listened to the tape later, here's what they heard:


Oh, hello, everyone! Listen to me! I sound like a munchkin!


Hee. Hee. We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz! Because, because, because, because, BE-CAUSE…


Because of the wonderful things he does!


Hahahahahahahahha. What's that? You want me to do more? Well, okay!


I sound funny. I feel funny.


Oooooo. I don’t feel so goo-----


[30 seconds of absolute silence]

[odd scratching and stirring sounds]

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. Uuuugh.


[tape clicks off]

That's right. After a particularly long huff of helium, I had passed out cold and crashed to my bedroom's hardwood floor. The best part? It was all caught on the cassette. Comedy gold! That tape turned out WAY better than I ever intended! Wish I still had it, but I dubbed over The Helium Incident to make a Peter Cetera and George Michael mix tape for a boyfriend -- further proof that helium burns significant brain cells.

*Important Disclaimer: In all seriousness, please, please, please kids, do NOT try to repeat The Helium Incident at home. Deliberately concentrating and inhaling helium or any substance can be extremely dangerous, even fatal. I'm lucky I recovered with only minimal damage. Besides, you don't want to do things like wear your shirt inside-out and backwards all day, like I often do. People laugh and point.

I shared this story because The Helium Tape explains a lot about me, don't you think?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go remove my makeup with a Lysol disinfecting wipe.