Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mom's First Text Message

There a certain days that everyone looks forward to growing up:

The day they have their first kiss.

The day they graduate high school.

The day their mother sends her first text message.

I was going through old texts in my phone today and found a gem that I had saved. One day back in December I needed to get a message to my mother, but I was at work, where I'm not allowed to make personal phone calls. I decided to try sending a text message to her cell phone.

I thought doubtfully back to the time when I was in high school and we first got internet at my house. I had to re-show Mom the two steps required to get online about a dozen times before she got it down. I thought about last summer, when my sister organized an impromptu emergency "class" for my mother who had voiced some very specific concerns as she struggled to grapple with the mechanics of Facebook (The class description, as my sister outlined in an e-mail, was "Your Facebook 101 class will be held on Saturday, July 4, 2009, at the Hensel Retirement Home on ***** Street in Plymouth. The class will cover all aspects of tackling modern technology, including how to determine if people are asking you to be their friend or if you have somehow sent a message to all 30 million Facebook users and the subsequent embarrassment that may cause, as well as how to choose a better profile picture for yourself. Please come prepared with a pen, paper and a small iced coffee, extra milk and no sugar for your sure-to-get-frustrated instructor.").

It seemed unlikely that my mom would be able to read, never mind respond to, my text. I took a breath, typed the message and hit "send".

Twenty minutes later, I received the following text message*:

"This is my first
ever text  dont
know where the
period is     this is
taking me forever
    love you
mom                   n
 m                         "

Does that, or does that not, almost read like modern poetry?

* Permission to reproduce my mother's text message was gained on the express condition that I inform my readers that my mom is both intelligent and a high school graduate.

Ugh! I spilled irony all over myself!

Yesterday I met Jason at the Salem State College cafeteria on North Campus for a lunch date. After placing a hamburger patty on a bun, I called over to the cafeteria worker who was manning the grill;

"Hi," I said, "Could I please have some cheese for my burger?"

The guy by the grill looked me up and down and then laughed.

"I appreciate the irony in your shirt," he said.

Confused, I pulled at the sleeve of my maroon sweatshirt.

"Oh," I said, "it's really comfy."

The cafeteria guy gave me my slice of American cheese and I moved on. After a moment, though, I realized what had happened.

That afternoon, I was wearing the same sweatshirt that I was wearing in this (extremely flattering) picture:


I'm not a vegetarian anymore. Haven't been for about four years. However, I still wear this sweatshirt on a very regular basis because, as I told the grill guy, it's really comfortable.

 (Me, moments before ending my vegetarianism by eating a live cat.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Hate Saying Sayings I Hate

I hate the phrase "by the skin of my teeth".

As in, "I almost didn't get to McDonald's by the time they stopped serving Egg McMuffins, but I just made it by the skin of my teeth".

Whenever I hear it, I think about how it would feel to have a thin layer of skin over my teeth. Can you imagine accidentally scraping the skin of your teeth with a fork?

And, just like the rest of your skin, would your toothskin get saggy and wrinkly as you aged?


Friday, February 26, 2010

New Slang

When I was little, my sister and I shared a drawing pad that we both scribbled on. One day I picked up the pad and found something confusing:

Julie had written, in big, puffy block letters, "New Kids on the Block Rules".

I remember turning the page of the drawing pad. The rest of the book was blank. I flipped back to "New Kids on the Block Rules" and studied the margin of empty space beneath the block letters.


Why did she not include the rules that she had clearly planned to list, I wondered? And what were those rules, those... New Kids on the Block Rules?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Girl Survives Hamster Attack

I just read an article about a trainer at SeaWorld who died from an attack by an orca.

While the story was very sad, it's perhaps not shocking that someone was killed by a creature that is commonly referred to as a "killer whale".

I feel grateful that I've generally had much less dangerous taste in animal companions. I mean, one of my hamsters did bite my finger once, but I survived to tell the tale.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Method to My (Sock) Madness

Some people who know me well are aware of the fact that I never wear matching socks - a habit that I developed while still in grade school. What most of these people are not aware of, though, is the very deliberate and formulated way that I choose my unmatched pairs each morning.

Here is a brief guideline to my carefully developed system (please note that, while covering the basics, this is by no means a complete list of my methods):

1.) While they're never identical, my socks always do, in their own way, match; I take care to coordinate color and style. I would never, for example, wear an ankle sock on one foot and a tube sock on the other.

2.) My left foot is my "girl foot", while my right foot is my "boy foot".

3.) I consider circles to be feminine and lines to be masculine. So, in the above photo, Lefty is decked out in pastel polka dots and Righty sports stripes of a coordinating color.


4.) Here we have a case where the circles would go on the boy's side: In Relationship Psychology, some people allege that men respond more to visual stimulation, while women are more responsive to verbal stimulation. Thus, I sometimes like to dress Lady Left Foot in socks that have words or phrases on them and then assign Sir Right Foot something more visually entertaining.

5.) In the animal world, the appearance of a female creature is often more drab than that of their male counterparts; the males need to be theatrical because there is so much competition for mating privileges, while the females can just relax, go casual and be choosy. Male elks have their impressive antlers, male birds have their flashy colors, and male lions have their big, showy manes...


... and so it is with my socks...


Above, we see a modestly attired left female footbeast snuggling up to the triumphantly ostentatious right male footbeast.

6.) Up here we have a pretty straightforwad example: Ms. Left in ladylike pink and Mr. Right in boyish blue. Sometimes, though, when I'm feeling frisky, I get a real kick out of cross-dressing them.

See? How delightfully outrageous!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quiz Time!

 View the following childhood photo and then choose the correct answer to the question below.

In this photo I am:

A) Enjoying an ice cream eating contest aboard a Disney cruise ship.
B) Hiding as the girl next to me decides that ice cream isn't satisfying enough and searches for another victim to devour.
C) Passed out drunk.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wishing You a Very Merry Lent!

Over the past few days, I've been hearing a lot of chatter at work and online about Lent. I wasn't raised Catholic, so I know that people customarily give up some bad habit for the forty days of Lent but, beyond that, I'm not very familiar with this particular religious observation.

I do, at least, now know that Lent has little or nothing to do with lint or lentils, as I once suspected when I was a child.

Every year around this time I'm reminded of a particular project that my fourth grade class was assigned back at Hopedale Memorial Elementary School. Our teacher handed us each a fresh sheet of blank paper and told us to write a few sentences about what we were giving up for Lent. Beneath that, we were instructed to draw an accompanying illustration.

I realized, years later, that this was probably a wildly inappropriate assignment for children at a public school. I'm not going to write about that now, though... I'll leave you to ponder that on your own.

What I will write about is the astonishingly bold and selfless choice that I made when prompted to give up something for forty days:

I wrote that I was choosing to give up canned tuna that wasn't dolphin safe.

And I drew a picture of a dolphin, caught in a net, weeping.

What I did not include in my project was this sneaky secret: I hated tuna. I was entirely unwilling to eat it anyway, dolphin safe or otherwise.

Every time I walked by that poster, which was displayed in the hallway along with the rest of my classmates' work, I felt a twinge of shame about the trick I had played. I felt guilty about it then, I felt guilty about it years later, and I still feel a little guilty about it now.

Perhaps I would have made a good Catholic after all.

(Please note that the above drawing is a recreation - the original art 
was lost or destroyed... or possibly confiscated by the Illuminati.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Images From Unfinished Collage Project, Senior Year of College




Thursday, February 18, 2010

Learn From My Mistakes, Part II

When I was eight years old, my parents allowed me to get a pet hamster. Because the little guy was a Teddy Bear hamster, I named him Teddy (as you may recall from my February 9th entry, my childhood talent for creative names baffles the mind).

After living in a cage in my bedroom for a couple of months, Teddy began to build a cozy nest of wood shavings in preparation for winter. When the weather outside got cold, Teddy curled up in his nest and began to hibernate.

It didn't take long for me to grow bored with watching my pet in his perpetually dormant state. After a few weeks, I asked my mother how long hamsters usually hibernate for. Mom didn't know, but she agreed to satisfy my curiosity by taking me to a pet shop where we could make an inquiry.

"How long," my mother asked the girl at the pet shop, "do hamsters usually hibernate for?"

The girl looked down at me, looked back at my mother, and then answered us.

Interesting Animal Fact of the Day: Hamsters are not supposed to hibernate.

R.I.P. Teddy
You will hibernate on in my heart forever.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Incident

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for sending me to school with the normal kids.

Because I'm still scanner-happy, and because I've been going through old photos, I'd like to use this post to express gratitude.

I'm grateful that my parents enrolled me in traditional public schools, despite the following pictorial evidence that I might have been better served by a more "special" education.



Quiz Time!

View the following photo and then choose the correct answer to the question below.

In this photo I am:

A) Enjoying my sixth birthday party at Burger King.
B) Aiming a morsel of chicken nugget at the head of the blond with pigtails.
C) Raising my hand to ask my mother why she dressed me like a member of a polygymous Mormon sect.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Optimism vs. Pessimism

A couple got engaged last night at the restaurant I work at.

The guy had slipped a ring to his waiter, my friend Diego, and asked him to incorporate it into a special dessert for his girl. Within approximately .003 seconds, every employee in the building was aware of the plan. An hour later, when the couple's entrees were being cleared from their table, about 15 different servers/hostesses/bussers/food runners were finding excuses to be in the general area of table 252.

The dessert was delivered, the ring was revealed, the girl began to cry and kiss her new fiancee, and every guest and employee within a thirty-foot radius began to applaud.

It was awesome.

A few minutes later I was delivering wine to one of my tables, which was occupied by an older woman and her two twenty-something daughters. They asked me what all the applause had been about. I told them, misty eyed,  "A couple just got engaged at a table towards the front of the restaurant."

One of the daughters looked at me and asked, "How was the ring?"

I paused for a moment, confused, and said, "Oh, it was a nice ring." (I hadn't gotten a good look.)

The daughter, noticing my pause, pounced and said, "So what you're saying is, she shouldn't have said yes?"

"Oh, no... they're a young couple... she looked really happy." I said, probably stuttering.

The three women looked at each other knowingly and rolled their eyes.

Oh man... those women left me a generous tip, but they totally spoiled my high.

When I got home, I tiptoed past the bedroom where Jason was already fast asleep, and went straight to the computer. I started to write about the incident at work, still frustrated and angry with those three jaded women. Eventually I leaned back in my chair and drummed my fingers lightly on the keyboard, trying to find a positive note to wrap up my cranky ranting, but all I could think was, "If it's possible to 'slap some sense' into someone, is there a way to slap some optimism into them too?"

Then I heard the bedroom door open, followed by a shuffling noise. I turned and saw Jason waddling towards me in his underwear, squinty eyed and yawning, with a box of chocolates in his hands.

"Happy Valentine's Day," he said, thrusting the heart-shaped box toward me.

I took the box from him and smiled. "Thank you," I said, "I love you."

He nodded, apparently satisfied, and stumbled back to bed.

Readers, this is what I love about my husband - he can be as adorable as a five-year-old but, unlike with a real five-year-old, it is both legally and morally acceptable for me to sleep with him.

I opened up the box of chocolates and began poking through them, searching for one with a caramel center. I found one, and I was so happy. As I popped the chocolate into my mouth and worked my jaw against the sticky, chocolatey caramel goodness, I realized that I wasn't mad at those women anymore.

Those broads have no idea what they're missing.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. I love you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I invite you to learn from my mistakes.

Why, oh why, does my most recent tattoo look as though it is my oldest?

I give you "the vacation tattoo":

Unfortunately, the above photo is actually much sharper than you would think.

What I learned: Exposed, fresh tattoos do not mix well with dusty, dirty strolling through city streets in the heat of a South Carolina summer. Such tattoos also do not mix well with sleeping in cheap, filthy hotel beds.

On the plus side: Hey, it's Mega Man!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Righteous Anger

Tonight I would like to write about something that has been upsetting me for a few years now.

The makers of the film Napoleon Dynamite have done a great disservice to the moviegoing public through a grievous act of misinformation.

This film would have you believe that a liger is a mythical creature that looks like this:

In fact, the liger is a real creature, and it looks like this:

Similarly, and equally as distressing, the media has for years perpetuated the idea that the Easter Bunny is a fictional character that looks like this:

In fact, Easter bunnies are real, and they look like this:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is my cat suicidal, or just cold?

Sometimes I wonder what the future holds. Sometimes, though, I have a feeling that I know exactly what's going to happen...

The other night, while at work, I received the following photo via cell phone of Mina relaxing in her new favorite spot:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

#1,452 on the List of Things That Confuse Me

Often, at work, I find myself placing one thing or another on a table in front of a guest and saying, "Here we are." I say it a lot.


Me: (Setting a bottle of ketchup down next to a guest's french fries.) Here we are.


But what, I've begun to wonder, does this phrase mean? What, exactly, am I saying?

"Here we are - your fried clams and I. Right here, at your table. Just like you wanted."

or is it,

"Here we are - you and I. Right here, at a seafood restaurant. Ain't life strange?"

Similarly, I'll sometimes say something like this:

Me: (Offering a guest their entree.) Here we go.

Here we go? What am I saying?

"Here we go - you, me and this plate of baked scrod. Off on a crazy flavor adventure."

Nostalgia/Scanners Part III: Son of the Scanner

This is what you get when you scan a stuffed rabbit:

Meet Girl, my oldest stuffed animal. My parents gave her to me as a Valentine's Day gift when I was just a wee thing and I, following a train of logic accessible only to those who haven't yet learned to tie their shoes, named her Girl. Because she's a girl. 

I had a couple of other brilliant toy name choices in my childhood. First mention goes to my favorite bath toy, Sucky Ducky. Second mention goes to a toy that falls under the category of:

Terrible, Terrible Toy Ideas for Children

I used to have a Cabbage Patch Kid Preemie. I named her Creamy. Creamy the Preemie.

Yes, that's right: I had my very own plush, adorable premature baby doll. Because that's what every girl dreams of.

Don't get me wrong - my nephew was a preemie, and he's the best. But I don't think anyone would have been disappointed if he had waited a couple of more months before he decided to bust out of my sister's womb.

I mean, seriously, Cabbage Patch Kid Preemies?

"Mommy, Mommy! The preemie in that commercial is so little and cute! Can I have a preemie of my own someday?"

"Of course you can, darling. Just keep practicing with your candy cigarettes and your Big League Chew."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nostalgia/Scanners Part II: Return of the Scanner

Is there anything more exciting/humbling than reading through an old journal? I dug up this little gem from a journal I kept in my late teens - this entry was buried between pages filled with poems about how nobody understood me and smudged tracings of my hand.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Celebrate Nostalgia! Celebrate Scanners!

My scanner is hooked back up after a long sabbatical, so you can all expect a hearty dose of scanner fun over the next few days.

The following images are scanned from a "book" that I "published" in grade school. It's really "good".

From the inside cover:

Ah, mysteries. I'm not sure what my dad did to deserve this fond dedication, but I'm pretty sure he's never once criticized my manners.

From the last page:


Well, the name may have changed, but the essence remains the same.

And now, because I know you're squinting your eyes and hoping for a closeup:

Yes. Those are my real teeth in that photo.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Jason's New Penpal

Just over a week ago, Jason received the following surprise e-mail from Living Well, a wonderful little spa located in downtown Salem:

Jason responded,

and then followed up with:

After an anxious night's sleep, Jason awoke the next day to find a reply in his inbox:

How best to respond? Did Living Well truly wish Jason the "best", or were they cheekily mimicking Jason's "best" wishes to them? Should Jason attempt to open a new line of dialogue, or was it better not to appear too eager, too attached? Was there hope for this new friendship or was it past its prime, like a rosebud caught in a spring chill, a life snuffed out just as it had begun to blossom?

Jason meditated on these questions, and then wrote back.

It's been nine days. Jason hasn't spoken of it since.

Stay warm, gentle readers, and be good to each other. I wish you all the best, from the bottom of my heart, and I hope that you all live very, very well.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I think that you can tell a lot about a person by the books they keep by their bedside.

Here's a snapshot of what's on my bedside table:

Margaret Atwood's Morning in the Burned House. I actually haven't picked it up in a few weeks, but I like to keep a book of poetry by the bed.

Here's what we have on Jason's side of the bed:

Ah. Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut.

But, wait... what's that hiding beneath Vonnegut?

It's Jane Burton's literary triumph, Ginger the Kitten. What a delight!