Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Video - People Who Understand You

I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them. The give and take of exchanging ideas energizes me. I love learning new things and new points of view. However, sometimes I want to surround myself with people who understand me so I don't have to explain why I am the way I am or why I think the way I think. It's just easier and more comfortable spending time with those kind of folks.

Yesterday Hubby and I were watching Two and a Half Men. Charlie was putting the moves on Jake's teacher, Miss Pasturnak. He was smooching her up and called her by her first name, Dolores. She looked at him with an sexy, come-hither look and said, "Oh, call me Miss Pasturnak."

Hubby and I looked at each other and said in unison, "Stiffler's Mom!" Then we laughed because we both "got it" without any further explanation. We both understood what the other was thinking, the background of the comment, and that the thought popped into our heads at the same moment and for the same reason. That's why I love him so.

My INTPs get my dry wit humor that no one else in the universe understands, not even Hubby. Hat gets my inner child. Uncle Buck gets my southerness. Kimberly Ann gets my inner Domestic Goddess. These are my on-line sanctuaries and confessors where I retreat when the world is whomping up on me. I find comfort there. Thank god for the Internet.

This Mastercard commercial is one of my all-time favorites. These three little geeky boys have stolen my heart. I get them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stay Tuned, More to Come

Today, Wednesday, February 20th, 2008, is my First Blogiversary! What a long, strange trip it's been.

I started this blog primarily to entertain my two sisters. I suppose I have done that and now they realize just how truly weird I am. They only suspected as much, but now there is written evidence to support their claim.

I came late to the blog world. I had no idea what a blog was until sometime in January 2007. I stumbled upon a nest of religious posters in Arkansas and oh, what an interesting group *that* was. Having gotten a bellyful of that craziness pretty quickly, I branched out and started searching for gay blogs.

I knew I would find sanity amongst my gay peeps, as well as a healthy dollop of effervescence, incisive wit, and sheer brilliance regarding the human condition. 'Cause ya know, gay peeps are like that. I first found Red Eric and his blogosphere posse and they did not disappoint. I knew level-headed, right minded thinkers existed out there somewhere, I just had to commune with them on the Internet instead of in real life.

I found other folks too, and oh, what wild and crazy other folks. It never ceases to amaze me what a diverse and wonderful world we live in. The differences between East and West, North and South, male and female, gay and straight, single and married, young and old, button-down and bohemian are awesome. I relish the diversity of ideas and opinions. I learn something new every day and it's all good.

I go back through my archives from time to time re-reading old posts, wondering if any of them are worth keeping. There are a few I am particularly fond of, those that make me think or cry or laugh, and I think, "Yeah, that's a keeper." I just wish I wrote more of those.

I have no idea what this next year will bring or what my odd brain will think up and poop out. I wake up in a new world everyday and view that world differently with every cock of my little head. Life would be so boring if I didn't. So all I can say as I embark on a new year of blogging adventure is, "Stay tuned, more to come."



"An adventure is what you have when you don't have good plans."
-Unknown

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Coming Out of the Closet

Note: This is a long story. Get yourself a fresh cup of coffee and get comfortable, this'll take a while. And no, I'm not fixin' to out myself as a lesbian. Different closet. You'll see.




I remember the moment very clearly but not the actual date. I can still see it vividly in my mind's eye. It was some time around 1996. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror getting ready for work one morning.

I had been under a lot of stress because I had been commanded by The Big Boss to plan and organize a company picnic. I hate doing extracurricular crap like that for work. However, I did what I was told and the picnic was wonderful and went off without a hitch. A good time was had by all...or so I heard. I didn't attend. I hate parties. I would rather have a root canal than attend a party.

So I'm standing looking at myself in the mirror. What a hypocrite I was for talking up this picnic to everyone then not even putting in an appearance. What was wrong with me? Why do I dislike parties so much?

Then I had an epiphany, a seminal moment, a moment of clarity. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I thought, "I am an introvert. I hate parties and always have. I will never be the 'life of the party'. I will never be petite and blonde; no one will ever use the word 'cute' to describe me. I am an old curmudgeon. I will never be a warm -n- fuzzy people person. I will always have this Southern hick drawl. I will never be considered fashionable or sophisticated. I will always be a bespectacled blind bat. I will always suck at sports. I will never be considered athletic. I will never figure out how to play the piano. I will always be #2, never #1, at anything I attempt. I am a 'B' student, not an 'A' student. I will never make a million dollars. I will never own my own business. I will never have children. I am just an average Joe, somewhere in the middle of the pack. This is who I am. This is who I've always been. I will not change. I will not be any different no matter how hard I try. This is me."

It kind of hit me all at once. Like a smack between the eyes.

You see, I had tried all my life to be "normal", to act like the rest of society, but it wasn't me. I knew I was different somehow, but couldn't quite put my finger on it. Trying to be normal was an enormous burden. It took a lot of energy to pretend to be something I was not. I thought I was being honest with how I presented myself to other people, but in fact I wasn't. I think the mask/facade showed. It made folks uncomfortable to be around me. They could see there was something else under the surface, so my apparent dishonesty of actions didn't match my very vocal, "What you see is what you get" mantra. I didn't realize at the time that I had on a mask. I thought everyone was like me, but that most people just had a lot more practice at being outgoing.

I pondered on my morning epiphany all day. The more I thought about it the wearier I became. The burden of pretending to be someone I wasn't had become too much to bear. I was tired of lugging that millstone around my neck all the time. It was time for a change. I decided to be brutally honest with myself and with everyone else. I was a curmudgeonly old introvert and that was that.

The next day I told my friends and co-workers about my epiphany. Some gave me strange looks, some looked relieved. Relieved! I guess they were relieved that I had finally admitted out loud what everyone else already knew. Gak! Was my mask that obvious?

From that day forward I freely admitted my curmudgeonly introvertedness to people, at appropriate times of course. It's not like I shouted it from the rooftops or anything. When invited to a party or social gathering I would grin a big grin and reply with a chuckle, "Hey! Thanks for the invite. I appreciate it, I really do. But I'm a curmudgeonly old introvert and I would rather have a root canal than go to a party. I only attend funerals. But I hope your party is wonderful and everybody has a great time. If you ever have a funeral, please let me be the first one you call."

Thinking I was kidding they would reply, "Aw, come on and go. There will be tons of people there. It'll be fun!"

I would retort, "That's your definition of fun. But I'll tell ya what, I'll make you a deal. If I come to your party for three hours and have fun your way, you have to come to my house the next day and have fun my way. We could catalog my South American Spitting Cockroach collection for three hours, just you and me. It'll be loads of fun. I can't wait! Whadya say??? Deal?"

They would roll their eyes and walk away shaking their head.

After I "came out" as a curmudgeonly introvert, some of my friends fell by the wayside. They didn't have the time of day for me after that. But then the most amazing thing happened. Even though I proclaimed to be a loner introvert, people started flocking to me. They wanted to be with me, around me, talk to me. Hey! This wasn't going anything like I had imagined. Introverts like their solitude and here I had a flock of folks that wanted to Velcro themselves to my hip. I didn't understand. I thought that once I was a publicly professed old grump people would leave me alone like I had leprosy or something. Nope. Wrong. They were attracted to me like flies to honey.

What happened, I now see in hindsight, is that I finally presented a cohesive personality to the world. I didn't speak one way and act another. There wasn't the veil of uncomfortable dishonesty that was there before. People actually got what they saw...and they liked it. They liked it a lot. I guess there is a place at everybody's table for a curmudgeonly old grump. Good for a laugh maybe.

Life for me after coming out was nothing short of miraculous. My millstone was gone. I no longer had to expend a huge amount of energy pretending. I had fresh eyes and saw the world in a whole new way. I was energized, motivated. I was finally happy. I could fly.

I feel a huge amount of empathy for my gay brothers and lesbian sisters who are still closeted. I understand (kinda, sorta) the hell in which they live not having the freedom to be themselves. I salute and embrace those who have come out of the closet. Welcome to the world! Let true living begin!

I think lots of people out there (not just the gay folks) are living in a closet of their own making, trying to be someone they are not just because of some societal stricture. Not being honest with themselves about who they are and suffering for it. That's not to say folks should quit trying to achieve their goals. I'm just saying that pretending isn't a good or healthy thing, either for themselves or others.

Take a good look in the mirror tomorrow morning. Is your true self gazing back? If not, open the door and step out of the closet. It may be scary and dramatic at first. Some friends may be lost, but new friends will be gained. I know of what I speak.

Life is good out here in the fresh air.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Taxman Cometh

The first breath of spring brings with it the stench of the taxman. The approach of April 15th weighs heavy on my mind as soon as the Christmas decorations are packed away.

It's not that I mind paying taxes. I understand that living in this republic bears a price. If the skies above me are clear of bombers, if the roadways are free of potholes, if the FDIC is still operational, I'm happy to contribute to the cause.

The thing that worries me is filling out the forms. I'm never sure if I've done it correctly or not. I agonize over the figures from about mid-January until April 14th when I drop them in the mail. I have mailer's remorse that I've not completed things correctly or left something out. I DO NOT want the IRS taking interest in little ol' me down here in Lower Arkansas. The IRS can make life a living hell for years to come.

I figure I have simple enough tax items that a person of reasonable intelligence (me) could get a 1040 filed with no problem. However, even though I have reasonable intelligence, the people who write the frakking tax laws and 1040 instructions do not have enough intelligence to write them in plain English. Sheesh! I'm pretty sure the IRS subcontracts that task to the lowest bidder in some third world country. I couldn't make the instructions that confusing if I tried. Sheesh again!

This year I spent three days poring over the federal nightmare. When I got to the bottom line I owed money. DAMMIT! That wasn't supposed to happen. I thought I had calculated the right amount of withholding tax from Hubby's paycheck. Nope. We made almost exactly the same amount of money this year as last year, but this year we owe a boatload more taxes. Thanks Shrub. I really appreciate that economic stimulus of more taxes this year. That means I'll be spending less as well as everybody else. Instead of giving us all back a check, why don't you just let us keep our hard-earned money to begin with???

Knowing I had to cut a check to the feds, my tummy started developing an ulcer. Then I opened the booklet for Arkansas State Income Taxes. I read through that pile of #%$@!!!!!ing cow poop for two hours. I'm pretty sure the state of Arkansas subcontracts the writing of this booklet to a group of monkeys on crack. Holy Bejeebus! My ulcer was now full blown with acid gurgling up to my tonsils. I had to take a powder and retire to my bed.

The next day I decided I was going to break down and finally take my taxes to a CPA. I was not going to be in agony for the next two months over this unholy bull crap. Whatever she charges will be well worth my piece of mind and far less than a visit to the gastroenterologist.

Miss CPA Lady was sooo sweet. She is about my mom's age. I told her of my agony and she said, "Lay your burdens down child." I thought I was going to cry it was such a religious moment. I now understand the cleansing elation people feel when they find Jesus and get saved. Miss CPA Lady has indeed saved my soul. I shall be bowing in reverence at her alter each spring from now on. And the tithe she demands is far less than 10% of my total income.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Secret Life of Crayons

I am four years old sitting at an institutional mint green horseshoe-shaped table at Miss Higgs Little Red Schoolhouse. It is the first day of kindergarten and I open my brand new box of crayons. Umm...can't ya just smell 'em?

There are eight big, fat, crayons; flat on one side so they won't roll off the table. I cherish the new crayons, not yet despoiled. They are the first crayons that are mine and all mine, not the leftover crumbles from two older sisters.

But oh!, they are in the wrong order. I know inherently that they are supposed to be in this order: yellow, orange, red, green, blue, purple, brown, and black. They must be in that order so I will know where to find them in the box. I put them away in that order when coloring time is over.

I know too, at the age of four, that all the colors have a gender, and they all have personalities. It's just obvious to me and I don't understand why the other kids don't see it too. Today I have a better vocabulary to explain the personalities, but they haven't changed since that first day of kindergarten.

Yellow - female. Yellow is the most feminine of the colors, a real girly-girl. She is ruffles and lace, and must be "taken care of" and protected from the big, bad world. She is a princess and not much will be asked of her because she is too delicate to accomplish much. She doesn't play outside because she doesn't like to get dirty.

Orange - female. Orange is the tomboy of the three girl colors. She eschews dresses, preferring to wear jeans and boy clothes. She is the treehouse builder and mudpie maker. She is not afraid of hard physical labor and can diagnose and repair your carburetor troubles. She probably lives on a farm and spends lots of her time caring for animals.

Red - female. Red is bitchy and dominant. She is the queen and what she says goes. Nothing or nobody is an obstacle to getting what she wants. Not many of the other colors like her because of her harsh personality.

Green - male. Green is rather meek, mild and submissive. He has a happy-go-lucky personality but is the underdog and gets picked on at the playground. He is the class clown, trying to fit in with humor.

Blue - male. Blue is the All-American male. He is good-looking, smart, does the "right thing" and never gets into trouble; the guy you want your daughter to date. He is a natural-born leader. Blue gets along with everyone and is well-like by all the other colors.

Purple - male. Purple is another strong male personality, but unlike Blue, he marches to the beat of a different drummer. He stands to the side in a crowd, watching rather than participating. He doesn't conform with mainstream thought and is a quiet radical: a passive-aggressive type. He is the quiet hippy and beat poet.

Brown - male. Brown is the cowboy of the bunch. He drives a pick-up truck and drinks Schlitz beer down at the pool hall. On Sunday morning he goes to church with his momma and watches his language. He will do honest, hard work on the farm all his life like his father and grandfather before him.

Black - male. Black is cloaked in mystery. A cool, James Bond type character that lets no one into his world. He is not meant for this time and place and will be a traveler to far off exotic places.

My crayons had secret lives that I was always eager and excited to discover. They knew about the world and revealed their knowledge to me little by little with each stroke of color. All I had to do was watch them dance across the page as they told their tale.

I loved kindergarten.



UPDATE:

This is what the flat crayons looked like in their box. Different brand, but the concept is the same.





UPDATE #2

Even though I am gray-haired and bi-focaled with nary a child or grandchild in sight, I still have an affinity for Crayola products. The smell of a fresh box of crayons still stirs my soul to this day. My personal collection:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love Notes

Valentine's Day is a day filled with landmines for guys. They never are quite sure what to get their girl so they fall back on the old standards: cards, flowers, candy, perfume, jewelry, lingerie. They never do figure out what is the "just right" gift. Any of those can have a negative connotation for the girl depending on her hormone level that day, or the length or stability of the relationship as a whole.

Sometimes, though, it's the little things that show how much a guy loves a girl. Things a guy might not think about.

Case in point:

My sweet hubby has never failed to delight me with some little something on Valentine's Day because he is a big ol' sweetie. I'm assuming he will order flowers because I love flowers, carnations specifically (I hate roses.) He may even remember to get a card too.

But this year, it really doesn't matter if he buys me anything at all. You see, I stumbled upon a testament of his love for me quite by accident.

I was rummaging around in his desk the other day and found an envelope stuck way back in the back of the drawer. The front was labeled, "Notes from Speck." Obviously it didn't say "Speck", but you get the point.

I opened it to find little stick 'em notes I've left for him around the house, in his lunchbox, stapled to his briefcase handle. There are more saved in his papers here and there. I run across them from time to time.

The fact that hubby thinks these little notes are treasures worth saving made my heart fill with love for him. He must love me real much to save such mundane stuff as this.





I think I'll keep him around a while.

Happy Valentine's Day Honey Bunny.
I heart you real much.
Love 147.

Friday, February 1, 2008

If I was Playmate of the Month

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, where I was once a young and beautiful college co-ed, I thought to myself, "Self, when you are Playmate of the Month, you ought to put the yellow cardigan picture in the bio."

I haven't seen a Playboy magazine for what, oh, a couple of decades or more. But in that galaxy far, far away, Hef published little childhood pics of the playmate and her turn-ons and turn-offs. Does Playboy still do that?

Turns-ons were always something like, "Warm fires, furry kittens, and beaches." Oh yeah, snorting cat hair always make my britches a little moist. Pfft. What dingbats. And trust me, you don't really want to be turned on at the beach. If your britches get a little moist, sand sticks to your tender pink parts. Any frisky business after that is gonna be agony.

Back to the yellow cardigan pic. It was taken in 4th grade. I was a pretty cute little kid up to that point.But somewhere in the summer between my 3rd and 4th grade year, something went horribly, horribly wrong. I got a shag haircut because I was tired of pigtails and ponytails and I wanted to be a Big Girl and be stylish. Since I lived in Arkansas at the time, shag haircuts were probably five years out of date when I finally got one. And I got glasses. Again I wanted to be stylish and get little round granny specs which were groovy at the time. They didn't have those in wire rims for little kids, so here's how I looked:

Eek!!!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is some *dirty* hair. This photo must have been taken on a Friday because I got my hair washed on Saturday night whether it needed it or not. Daddy washed my hair in the kitchen sink while I laid on the kitchen counter. Momma never washed my hair because she had long fingernails and scrubbed too hard with them. Daddy was gentle as he soaped up my mop of hair with Prell shampoo and detangled it with Tame creme rinse.

This was our Saturday night ritual until I was so tall I hung off the kitchen cabinet, probably just before I went to Junior High. I know that seems a little old, but proper Southern Belles DO NOT wash their own hair. Sniff! They have someone else do it for them. I have not yet convinced my husband of this widely known fact however, and he refuses to wash my hair for me, the princess that I am.

And how about those buck teeth? I could "eat a punkin through a picket fence." I begged for braces. School pics grades 7-11 all show a mouth full of metal. I was SO proud of those braces. I got them off just in time for my senior year. Yep, that's five years if anyone was counting. I spent a lot of time in the orthodontist's chair.

Anyway, back to the cardigan photo. Although it is the most awesomely horrible photo taken of me ever, it holds a place near and dear to my heart. I want to show it to all those little girls out there who think they are ugly, who think they will never be pretty, and who think that boys will never like them. Because this is the eternal ugly ducking story. That dirty haired, bespectacled, buck-toothed little girl grew up to become this:


Woo Hoo! That, ladies and gentlemen, is some *big* hair. The lady at Glamour Shots asked me if I wanted business-like hair or Texas pageant hair. I told her I wanted the biggest hair she could make. Not just Texas hair, but tri-state hair. It took several days to chip off all the hairspray shellac.

I don't look like this now so I have no qualms about posting the photo on the Internet. My sister-in-law, whom I see every other day and twice on Sundays, studied the pic for a long while and finally asked, "Who is THAT?" Pfft.

I'll admit that most days I look closer to the yellow cardigan picture but I clean up nice when I need to.