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An Open Letter to the Red Truck On My Road

English: Steve Olliges and the Team Ford Troph...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Red Truck,

We passed one another on my way home today. You probably didn’t notice; you drive a big truck and I drive a mere car. I saw you coming toward me on the one-and-a-half lane road while I was still far from you. I didn’t worry about it. Every day I pass people on my road and it’s quite uneventful.

As we careened toward each other, I noticed that you didn’t leave the middle of the road. That’s still ok. People do that all the time and get on their side of the road with plenty of time to spare. However, you never felt the need to do that.

Look, I get it. You’re bigger than me. Your truck cost more than what I make teaching for an entire year, so you dare me to hit you. My little car would be plowed into a pancake.

So, I chose to drive with two wheels off the road, rather than smashing into you. It’s cool. A little adrenaline rush from driving through gravel and dirt at 50 mph is good for you once in a while.

Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure we’ve met before. You’re probably the guy who forced me to drive in the berm the other day because you refused to create any space for me when I was merging. Also, you might be the guy who squeezed between another car and me, then passed a truck on the right while it was already getting into the right lane to let you pass. You drove into the berm at 75 mph anyway and almost caused a multiple vehicle pile-up.

You know what would be even more fun next time? We should play chicken. Let’s both drive in the middle of the road with the pedal to the floor.

Or, even better: let’s go to the gas station, fill up, and drive until we run out. Yeah, that’s what I thought. Suck my MPG.

Kisses,

Facetious Firecracker

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A completely true scary story for my two remaining readers

Three months ago, I had thousands of readers every day and this blog had the opportunity to become somewhat successful. So, I did what any intelligent blogger would do and updated every day completely abandoned it for months. I expect that my remaining audience of two people (probably my sister and my mother-in-law) wonder where I went.

Well, folks, in case you have forgotten – I teach marching band. My family and friends refer to these four months of the year endearingly in such terms as the “marching band shell” and the like. In one week, I will emerge from the shell and will join my colleagues in gleeful shouts of “TGIF!” because I’ll get to work 8 hour shifts rather than up to 18 hours on Fridays.

My poor blog fell by the wayside due to exhaustion and lack of inspiration. That was, until last night when something happened that was worth breaking my writer’s block.

Husband and I decided to go out to eat and took the back roads on the way home. It was completely dark by this time and we turned right onto a country road. This road is so country, even the Beverly Hillbillies would call its inhabitants rednecks. Honey Boo-Boo is too good to live on this road.

A minivan coming from the opposite direction turned to follow us onto this road. As they turned, the driver began to turn the headlights on and off, flicked the brights on and off, and toyed with various combinations of headlights and emergency flashers.

“What the hell is wrong with this person?” Husband asked me.

“I don’t know, but they’re really freaking me out,” I replied.

Finally, the van’s driver turned off their headlights and left their flashers on, then sped up until they were almost touching our back bumper.

“I’m losing this guy,” Husband decided, and hit the accelerator. We flew down the road, far from the creepy van.

The van’s driver accelerated too, and soon they were right behind us again. At this point, I reached into my purse and found my cell phone in case I had to call 911. My imagination began to create scenes from horror movies and worst case scenarios. I started to wish we had a gun in the car.

About 5 minutes later, the van suddenly slowed down and stopped following us. We watched in the mirror as the van turned onto another road, once again putting on a light show with combinations of headlights, brights, and flashers. Both of us breathed a sigh of relief, and luckily that was the last we saw of the van.

Honestly, that’s the most exciting thing to happen to me lately, so it’s probably good that I haven’t written in a while, anyway. You hear enough mundane stories on Facebook as it is.

Well, I do have one other thing to talk about. I downloaded the new Muse album titled “The 2nd Law” a couple weeks ago. All of the music snobs of the world are in an uproar about it, calling it rubbish. I’ll admit there are a few songs on it that don’t give me the warm fuzzies or anything, but overall, I think it’s a great album and I don’t regret the $14 I spent on it.

Maybe it’s the musical training I have that causes me to analyze a song in much more detail than the average listener. When I listen to a song, my brain tears apart every track, analyzes the harmonic progressions, and picks out every little instrument and voice in the background. Matthew Bellamy is doing things with music that frankly, I don’t hear happening anymore in music. Who else these days is using an 80-piece orchestra or a choir in rock songs? Muse has a brilliant talent in knowing how to build a song from a whisper to a dramatic explosion in the matter of 2 minutes.

Most of the criticism is coming from long-time fans who call the album sold out pop, just because the band is experimenting with electronic sounds and songs that are inspired by dubstep. If you watch the making of the album videos that come with the deluxe version on iTunes, you can see that every sound is still created organically by the band’s instruments. There is nothing fake about this music. I guarantee you don’t hear any songs in this style on Top 40 radio that don’t use synthesizers and computers to create these same sounds. In my opinion, this is true talent.

Watch Muse on youtube to see them performing these new songs live. They sound just like the album versions. Matthew Bellamy sings in tune. Chris Wolstenholme sings background vocals in perfect harmony. Dom Howard is a percussion beast. The most impressive part for me is how well Matthew plays difficult lead guitar solos while singing in the top register of his voice with an unrelated melodic line.

Another criticism for the album revolves around the fact that there isn’t exactly a theme within the genre of the songs. They jump around quite a bit in terms of their sound. You know what? I think that’s one of the best characteristics of Muse. In my opinion, a band is truly talented when they can be so versatile in their sound. I like when a band’s songs don’t all sound the same.

Watch the following video and tell me these guys aren’t talented.

 

The tale of my avatar

My sister’s cat (who henceforth shall be known as Cat) hates me. Actually, hate probably isn’t a strong enough word. Loathe, perhaps. Or detest. Regardless of the verb one uses, it doesn’t change the fact that Cat thinks the world would be a better place if I weren’t in it. I would even safely bet that she would give up treats for the rest of her feline life if she never had to see me again.

The Cat that I speak of is the real life version of my avatar. And the reason she’s making such a horrifying face? I was trying to pet her when I took that picture. Turns out, that pose works perfectly when you want to use MS Paint to draw fire coming from a cat’s open mouth. She was only six months old when the avatar picture was taken. Now she’s over two years and is becoming crueler with age.

Here’s a recent picture of Cat.

 

I’ve never had an issue with cats before this one. In fact, I consider myself to be a “cat person.” In elementary school, I was always on the “Cats Rule, Dogs Drool” side of the argument. By the way, dogs do drool. My friend’s dog foams at the mouth every time he eats. Gross. You’ll never see a cat doing that. Well, you might, but you should probably run very far away.

Cat hates loathes me because we had a little misunderstanding about a year ago. You know how sometimes you’re teasing a friend and you think that they think it’s funny, then find out afterward that they were completely offended? It was kind of like that. Cat and I were playing a game called Make the Kitty Angry. Basically, it goes like this: You poke the cat on the back until they try to bite you. While they’re biting to the left, you poke from the right. Repeat. I used to play this game with my family’s cat when I was growing up. He would get pissed off, hiss a few times, then about an hour later he’d jump onto the couch, chirping the whole time, and sit on my lap. No hard feelings. He could take a joke.

No, really, guys. I swear he forgave me. Mom, on the other hand, isn’t so lucky.

Cat, however, does not take jokes. Only pieces of flesh.

Ever since that fateful night of teasing Cat, she’s held a grudge against me. At first, Sister and I thought it was a coincidence. Cats can’t hold grudges. After a few months, though, we had to finally admit that she hates me. Here’s a typical visit to Sister’s house:

Cat is sprawled on the table, purring. Sister pets Cat.

Cat: Meeeeeeeeeow. Rubs against Sister’s hand.

Sister’s fiance picks up Cat. Cat fluffs up her tail with glee, chirping. 

Cat: Puuurrrrrrrrreow.

Husband talks to Cat. 

Cat: Blank stare. No anger, though.

I approach Cat slowly. Hold out my hand to let her sniff. There is no danger. I only want to pet her.

Cat: HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

So I leave Cat alone for an hour. Later, I walk past her on my way to the kitchen.

Cat: HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I’ve been trying to make amends with Cat gradually. I offered her a treat one day. Cat walked away; Sister’s dog was happy to oblige. I rubbed Cat under her chin. She bit my hand. Sometimes I see her in her Fortress of Doom cardboard box, glaring at me from afar, surely plotting the next way to sink her fangs into my flesh.

Husband asked me today during lunch if I practice sorcery, as part of his habit of asking random questions with no meaning.

“No,” I replied, “because if I did, Sister’s Cat wouldn’t hate me.”

“You know the Egyptians worshiped cats,” he added.

“Exactly,” I said. “Because cats are cooler than dogs.”

“No, it’s because dogs weren’t invented yet,” he quipped.

He was serious.

WHAT.

 

Three hours of stray cat stories and a tragic trip down a slide

This post is two months overdue and the main reason I haven’t written it is because I truly don’t know how to put it into words. Hopefully, the title grabbed your attention because if you read this entire story, I promise not to disappoint. The best way to start is for you to read this story about Mom’s birthday at Golden Corral, which was almost exactly a year ago. There’s a lot of back story on her that you need to know to fully understand her personality.

Today’s story is the adventure of Mother’s Day 2012 and it’s 100% true. Gather closely, dear readers. Top off your coffee and make sure you have a comfortable chair. Ok – here we go.

Sister graciously offered to have Mom and Grandma over for this year’s annual festivities. If Mom had her way, this would include the following activities:

  • The showering of a multitude of gifts from her registry (each gift must be at least a $50 value)
  • A skit put on by Sister and myself reenacting all of the times she was the World’s Best Mother (must include the word “sacrifice” a minimum of 25 times)
  • A feast of filet mignon, crab legs, oysters, and caviar
  • Unlimited and uninterrupted story time regarding her current crises (may include the words “agony” and “hopeless” in every sentence)
  • A minimum of five sappy cards from each daughter. Funny cards will be returned to sender and will result in an additional $50 gift.

What you need to understand is first of all, this isn’t much of an exaggeration. And secondly, I’m not being a horrible daughter. It would take me more words than you care to read in order to explain why my mother does not deserve a single one of those festivities. Just take my word for it. I love my mom. I really do. But, she’s never been supportive of anyone except herself, and she does a poor job of that.

So anyway, Husband and I made the drive to Sister’s house in May for the Extravaganza. Upon our entrance, we heard hysterical laughter from the door to the back patio. Mom stumbled in the patio door.

“I pissed myself!” she announced between cackles and pants. “I went down the slide in the backyard, and I peed when I landed!”

I kid you not. There was no “Hi, daughter! How are you? Good to see you.” This was her legitimate introduction after not seeing me since February.

Sister pointed to Mom’s white short-shorts. “Mom, your shorts are covered in mud.”

Sister’s Fiance, D, walked in. “Yeah, that’s because your mom went down the slide and when she landed, she flipped forward and faceplanted right in the ground.”

Mom announced that she needed to go to the bathroom and wash her underwear.

D started snickering once Mom was out of earshot. “You guys missed it. She went down that slide so fast and when she hit the ground, she landed on her knees and fell forward. Then she was all, ‘I peed myself!'”

All this time, my poor grandma was sitting in a chair, waiting for this ridiculous scene to end so she could say hello. Grandma is the bee’s knees, to put it mildly. She’s a Rosie the Riveter, a survivor of domestic violence in the 1940s, a mother of four, and the strongest person I know. Grandma holds this dysfunctional family together with her love and generosity. That undying generosity is the only reason Mom is able to feed herself lately. Mom’s been unemployed due to unwillingness to work  unfortunate circumstances since I was in high school.

At this point, Grandma and I showered each other with kisses and greetings. I gave her one of the two bouquets of flowers that I brought and waited for Mom to return so I could give the other one to her.

After a few minutes, Mom walked in, holding her newly clean underwear like a banner. D appeared astonished that anyone would be proud to be holding their underwear at a family gathering. My only thought was, She’s wearing white short-shorts and she’s going commando.

We ate a delicious lunch thanks to Sister’s prowess in the kitchen, as usual, and decided to sit at the patio table to talk. Before she sat down, Mom hung her underwear about 10 feet from the table to dry. We were forced to have it in our view for the rest of the afternoon. Mom dominated the conversation before anyone else could begin. Apparently, she’s taken in a stray mother cat and its newborn kitten. She’s taken them to the vet, purchased food and a litter box for them, and keeps them locked in her bathroom because she says she’s not keeping them. Except she’s had them in there for months. But she’s not keeping them.

“How are you paying for all this? Aren’t you unemployed?” Sister asked. It’s well known that Mom can barely afford food. After all, she makes it well known to us at every visit.

“My neighbor across the street said he’d make sure I had money to keep them fed. I’ll find the money somewhere.” Sister and I shared glances and took another sip of wine. I don’t really drink, except at family gatherings. Mom thinks we’re alcoholics because of it.

For the next three hours, we listened to stories about Precious, the mother cat, and Wiggles, the baby kitten. There were exciting tales, such as the time that Wiggles meowed. And the time that Precious ate food.

English: Stray female cat.

OMG!! This one time, the cat was lying on the porch. And it was all, lying in the sun because cats love to do that. Isn’t that hilarious?? *snort* (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the time we heard the 57th story about the time Precious walked around the bathroom, I had opened a second bottle of wine for Sister and me. Grandma had tried to tell a story here and there. In her 89 years, she has experienced some good ones to share. However, trying to speak at this occasion was rude, unless you were Mom, or unless you were commenting about the feral cats.

Around 8:00, the Extravaganza had been going strong for eight hours. Sister and I had to work the next morning and she had laundry to do. We’d been trying to drop hints that it was time to call it a night for the past hour, but Precious and Wiggles would not have it.

Finally, Sister decided it was time for action.

“Mom, you have to go. It’s late. We have to get up at 5:30 and you don’t because you have nowhere to be tomorrow.”

We kissed them goodbye and Grandma said how much she had enjoyed her visit, how wonderful the food was, and how beautiful Sister’s new house is. Mom commented that it must be nice not to live in a trailer park and to be so rich. (Sister barely qualifies as middle class, though she works her butt off in a professional field.)

Alas, it’s about that time again. Mom’s birthday is at the end of July and it will once again be time to dust off the tiara for her.

And the wine for me.

What Every Music Teacher Wants You To Know

There are some stereotypes about music teachers in this country and for some reason, they’ve been getting to me lately. Generally, I avoid discussing my career on here because honestly, I have a great job. I get to play games, teach kids how to create music, and I get most of the summers off. You won’t hear me complaining about the pay (except in jest) and frankly, there aren’t many music jobs out there. My district has brand new, state of the art buildings with SMART boards in every room. I am NOT intending to write this post about my specific job, just the general problems that any music teacher can appreciate. Now, with that being said, here I go….

1. We get really tired of people thinking that our job is nothing but fun and games.

English: Young Children (Suzuki students) Play...

Nope. No work was required to get to this point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was once asked, “Are you a real teacher or just a music teacher?” Questions like that make my blood boil. Obviously, I can’t get the entire world to see it my way, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m a teacher. My subject happens to be music. I say that in the same way that someone would say they teach high school biology. Music is defined as a core academic subject in No Child Left Behind. Music has National and State Academic Content Standards, just as any other subject. It is my job to make sure that my students master the material. I just have about 22 hours of instruction time per school year to make that happen.

2. The general public thinks that they know everything about what I do, and that anyone can do it.

I played guitar in a band in high school! What do you mean I can’t teach band better than you?

Every nincompoop who has ever touched a drum tells me they can “play” the drums. Now, some of these people actually can. I am totally not a music snob and I understand there’s a huge difference between being a talented amateur musician and someone who just beats on things. However, unless you have a music degree, don’t pretend like you could do my job. It’s not common knowledge and there’s way more to it than you think. Unless you have had to be tested on everything from music history, educational psychology, your performance of a concerto for an audience of highly trained professionals, memorization of fingerings for the bassoon (and every other instrument), etc., don’t tell me you could do my job.

3. We have to constantly remind people why what we do is important, for fear of losing our programs.

This is what happened to the last guy who threatened to cut music.

 I’d say most music teachers live in constant fear that we’re going to lose our jobs. We fear it not just for ourselves, but for our students. After all, who do you think inspired us to teach music? That’s right – our music teachers. Without music programs in schools, we risk losing part of our culture for the future. When we examine past cultures, what do we use to judge how civilized they were? Paintings, musical compositions, architecture, tools, language, and clothing. In other words – ART. In fact, we use the fine arts of past cultures to judge how much they knew about our current so-called “core subjects.”

Do you think people in the future are going to look at our standardized test scores to see how well we lived? Of course not. They’re going to study our ability to create ART.

And along the same lines….

4. We really hate using other subject areas to justify our subject.

If one more person mentions the “Mozart Effect” I’ll scream!

Yes, it’s totally true that instruction in music helps people to understand math and science better. It raises college entrance test scores. It forms new synapses in the brain, connecting the two hemispheres better than any other subject can. In fact, stroke patients who are no longer able to speak can sometimes still sing songs and use that for speech therapy. So yeah, I guess you should learn music because it makes you smarter.

But…

Music teachers are so tired of using that spiel in order to defend what we do. We didn’t go into teaching music because we wanted to get better at math. We want what we do to be valued for its own purpose. We want people to think it’s important to have music in schools, well, just because it is! Imagine your life without music.

Silent commercials and movies, with the exception of dialogue. Awkward silences while shopping. Silent car rides. All in all, pretty boring. We teach music because it’s like painting for your ears. It expresses emotions. It can even change your emotions.

5. People think that you can’t test what we teach, and that every student should be given an A.

Brian was devastated that his daughter didn’t pass choir. After all, she sang during at least half of the days she was there.

Music teachers are data-driven teachers who use research and self-reflection to constantly assess the effectiveness of their instruction and to improve their teaching methods, just as any other teacher does. Yes, you can give a test on how well little Johnny plays the trumpet. The notes are either right or wrong, in tune or not, played for the correct duration or not, and so on. Using a rubric, it is possible to assign fair grades to students based upon performances and written tests that are based upon facts taught during class. No, your child should not be given an automatic A in a performance-based class. Grades are earned based on your child’s demonstration that he or she has mastered the skills taught in class, which are based upon the academic content standards in music.

6. We really do love our jobs – and our students!

We mean it. We are some of the only teachers who literally get to watch our students grow up. Music teachers usually have their students for multiple consecutive years and form great bonds with them. Our jobs are super fun and best of all, we get to do what we love every day – make music.

My mom’s adventure with the interwebz

Everyone loves a good story about my mom.

To make a long story short, Mom is going back to college full time starting this winter for medical billing. This is now her third time going to college in her life. The first time was in 1975 at OSU. She went to college for one year and dropped out when her dad said he would buy her a car if she quit. (My family puts the “fun” in dysfunctional.) The second time was 15 years ago for cosmetology. Mom graduated and actually did hair for a few years, but she quit because she wasn’t making enough money. Apparently making NOTHING with no job is better than making minimum wage. I really hope that it works out this time. Mom is 55 and has yet to find a self-supporting career.

Last night she called me because she was looking at the black Friday ads for laptops. Mom has absolutely no experience with computers and knows nothing about them. However, she’s decided that she needs one for college, so I listened to the specs and told her what to do. I think the rest of this story is best told through dialogue:

Mom: This one from Best Buy says it has 4 gee-bee. Is that good?

Me: Yes, Mom. 4 gigabytes of RAM will make it run plenty fast for what you need. I’d get the Toshiba.

Mom: Well, I’m just so lucky that I have a daughter who’s just so smart in these things. You know I don’t know anything about it. I think a laptop is just what I need since it means I’ll have the internet all of the time.

Me: What do you mean, “all of the time?”

Mom: You know, that wireless thing it has. I’ll have the internet if I get a laptop.

Me: Uhhh…Mom? Do you think your laptop is going to come with the internet built in?

Mom: Well, that’s how wireless works, right?

Me: ….. (trying to plan how to explain the internet) [Sigh] Mom, the internet isn’t everywhere for free. It’s not like…oxygen, just floating around us all the time.

Mom: What’s this wireless thing it says it has for, then?

Me: Your wireless card picks up signals from a router. It works kind of like your cell phone, like how it picks up your wireless signals from a tower. Otherwise, it would be like buying a cell phone and trying to make calls with no plan.

Mom: So, you’re telling me I’m going to have to sign up for some kind of service? [gigantic overdramatic sigh of desperation] I didn’t realize it was going to get this complicated! (whiny voice)

At this point, I explained how she has a couple options. She can sign up for broadband through her cable company or she can get a wireless air card through a cell phone company.

Me: But either option is probably going to require a 2 year contract.

Mom: Oh, God! I don’t want no contract! I have so many questions. I think I’ll call Time Warner tomorrow  and call you back and have you explain what they said.

Me: Why don’t you just ask them while you’re on the phone with them?

Mom: I guess I can do that, too. So, if I sign up through the cable company, they’ll install a bunch of wires and I’ll have wireless, right?

Me: You’ll only have wireless if you install a router.

Mom: You’re talking gibberish. You have to explain this stuff. Why can’t my laptop just get the internet after they install it? Isn’t that what they do? A router?

Me: A router turns the wired signal from your modem into a wireless signal in your house.

Mom: So, if I get this wireless thing in my house, I can take my laptop and use it anywhere?

Me: No, it’s only in your house. If you want to use your wireless card at other places, you can go to a restaurant or coffee shop and use their wi-fi.

Mom: Can you spell that for me?

You get the idea. I’ll be sure to update everyone with Mom’s college experiences. Her major is medical billing, a field which is primarily done using computers. I think I’m going to change my phone number.

Baby powder in Mom’s cleavage was the least of my worries

Under normal circumstances, I dread visits with my mother. I am well aware that this makes me sound like a terrible, horrible, no-good kind of person. It would take more words than the world’s longest blog post for me to explain why I feel this way, so just take my word for it.

I can hear you judging me.

Anyway, Mom’s birthday was on Thursday, so at this time last week, I started making plans with my family for the required birthday dinner. As usual, I called my grandma in an effort to avoid getting stuck on the phone for two hours with Mom. Typically, birthday dinners in my family happen at Texas Roadhouse. That’s just fine with me. They have steak, sweet potatoes smothered in brown sugar and butter, and I can order a margarita, which always helps me to cope with Mom’s incessant whining and complaining about the woes of life. Seriously, she’s the biggest Debbie Downer you could ever meet. I feel like I need to be on Paxil after I leave, just to see the light of day again.

However, Grandma wanted to go somewhere different this time, and as the reigning matriarch of the family, she gets to decide these kinds of things without question.

Golden Corral

Golden Corral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love my Grandma. She’s a strong woman who has overcome numerous obstacles in life, lived through the Depression, buried two husbands, and raised my sister and me when my mom wasn’t capable of doing so.

But, ICK.

I do not do places like Golden Corral. My hometown does not have…ahem…the classiest of people living there. So, the idea of eating somewhere in which there are large pans of food with the purpose of self-service is not appetizing in the least. I imagined the scene: dirty children putting sticky fingers into macaroni and cheese, toothless women coughing and hacking over the plates and silverware, and tables that haven’t been properly sanitized since the place was built.

Then, I decided that I was being horribly judgmental. I would go to the Golden Corral, and I would suck it up, and be just fine. Friday evening arrived and Husband and I drove to meet Mom, Mom’s Boyfriend, Grandma, and Sister for Mom’s 55th Birthday Extravaganza. I even bought a “nice” birthday card because I was so rudely informed at our Mother’s Day gathering that I don’t get her nice enough cards. Yes, you read that correctly. My cards did not demonstrate my daughterly love at an appropriate level, so my mom told me I needed to buy her mushier cards in the future. So I did.

Husband was not happy at all. He and I share opinions on buffet-style restaurants and our last encounter with Mom was painstaking. She had spent our last three-hour visit talking about nothing but her back pain, excruciating 20-hour work weeks, getting two hours of sleep every night, and sanding wallpaper. One of the reasons I love Husband is because he tolerates these sorts of visits, and for some reason, comes back for more.

We walked into the Golden Corral, “nice” card in hand, and greeted my family. Grandma looked absolutely adorable. She’s 88 years old and is quickly losing her vision due to macular degeneration. A tightly curled victory roll decorated her forehead and hot pink lipstick was smeared around her lip area.

“I called earlier and told them that we’d be here at 6:30 with seven people. They said they would push two tables together for us. I gave them our last name, so when your sister gets here they can take her to our table.”

Yes, folks. My grandma made reservations at a Golden Corral, and was under the impression that this was proper protocol. I turned toward the window and smiled. I’m sure when I’m 88, I’ll do silly things like that, too.

Surprisingly, my mom didn’t immediately dominate the conversation with complaints. She gave us hugs, said hello, and excused herself to the restroom.

Maybe this won’t be so bad, after all, I thought. The worst thing I had noticed so far was a mass of baby powder escaping Mom’s exposed cleavage, as usual. She doesn’t seem to understand the concept of rubbing it in so the rest of the world doesn’t see evidence of her boob sweat problem.

Husband and I walked to the cashier to get our drinks and pay. As soon as she filled our cups with water (they wanted $1.79 for drinks and we were already paying $11 for school cafeteria quality food!), she realized that her car windows were down in the pouring rain. Here is where the experience starts to go downhill. The cashier ran outside to put up her windows. I understand. No problem. But, the manager who walked over to fill in left us standing there, waiting to pay, while she helped people behind us in line.

Finally, the cashier came back inside and we were able to pay and join my family, who had been patiently waiting for us for the last five minutes. I’m sure that was a fluke, I told myself. Don’t judge this place. I’m sure the food will be fine.

We were led to a private room in the dining area, in which there were only two other occupied tables. Sweet. This might turn out ok, after all. We ventured to the buffet area, where Husband and I meticulously examined our plates and silverware for baked-on food. I noticed a pan of cinnamon apples and thought, I like those. See? You were stereotyping.

Then, an old woman who was standing in front of the apples began to cough and hack. Right. Into. The. Apples.

A ten year old girl walked by, wearing nothing but a bathing suit.

Immediately, I entered Germaphobic Panic Mode. What was safe to eat here? A woman leaned over the buffet, dragging her hair across the food. A man licked his fingers and grabbed the tongs, piling fried chicken onto his plate. I finally settled upon beef stew (all of the meat had been taken, leaving only the vegetables; take that as you’d like), mashed potatoes and green beans.

As I sat down, Mom, Grandma and Mom’s Boyfriend were wolfing down their food as if someone had given them a five minute time limit for dinner. Husband and Sister cracked jokes about the meatloaf and mac and cheese’s similarity to Banquet frozen dinners. The servers were doing a good job of taking away our empty plates and keeping our drinks full. Mom was even on her best behavior, allowing the conversation to center around someone besides herself most of the time. I couldn’t believe it.

Grandma sat down, holding her third plate of food. “I waited for ten minutes for them to fill up the fried chicken! Some big guy tried to take all the drumsticks, but I only let him have two!”

Then, something happened that solidified my decision to blog about this dinner.

A mass of people walked into the doorway of our room. They were dressed in wedding clothes.

That’s right. A group of 40 people had made reservations to have their wedding reception in this private room and were quite upset because three tables, including ourselves, had been seated there. I had to hide my horror and amusement, for fear of having my tires slashed. Their outfits were interesting choices for a wedding. Jeans. Boobalicious strapless dresses. You get the idea. There ended up being room for all of them in the private room and disaster was averted.

Grandma returned from her fifth trip to the buffet. Her plate was piled with desserts. “I took that spoon and scooped all of the peaches from the peach cobbler. I only left the crust!” Our whole table burst into giggles. When you’re 88, you can do what you please. If Grandma wants to take all the peaches, more power to her.

Mom opened her birthday cards and actually appreciated them. I’m still in shock that she was so well behaved. Maybe we should go to Golden Corral more often. Apparently, it calms my mother’s talkative nature.

Also, where else can you go to a birthday party and a wedding at the same time?

 

I’ll eat a sandwich if you shut up

Eat a sandwich. If you turned sideways, you’d disappear! Did you know you have chicken legs? I’m pretty sure your thigh is the size of my wrist. Aww, your outfit is cute – did you get it in the kids’ department? My dog probably weighs more than you do. Here, have some more to eat; you look like you’re wasting away.

People have actually made these comments (and many more) to me over the course of my life.

For some reason, it’s completely acceptable to comment on someone else’s weight, as long as that person is thin.

I’ve always been the skinny girl. Throughout my childhood, my mom had to dress me in clothes that were typically made for younger kids. I didn’t have to wear a bra until I was in about seventh grade because I didn’t have enough body fat to justify the need. In high school, my clothes sagged around my frame as I tried in vain to look average-sized. During my college years, I finally started to accept my body. However, this didn’t make shopping any easier for me. My friends would wear dresses that flattered their curvy bodies and jeans that hugged their rear ends. My attempts to try on those clothes always resulted in awkward baggy areas in front of my non-existent boobs, shirts that resembled Hefty bags on my willowy frame, and jeans that made me look like I had a full diaper.

I’m 25 and I still have to shop in the juniors department.

Believe it or not, we’re only related by marriage.

I know what most of you are thinking right now. (besides how awesome my Stick Stickly reference was)

“You are so lucky! Really, you shouldn’t be complaining. Oh, and by the way – you are just SO skinny!”

Ok, fair enough. Well, since we’re on the subject of weight, did you know you have cankles? Oh, and you really should cut back on the desserts. Bison aren’t native to the Midwest.

…Awkward silence. Appalled expressions. Shifty eyes around the room.

So, it offends you if I call you fat? Of course. It would be totally rude for me to make judgements about your weight, and most of all, for me to make comments out loud. I mean, clearly I have no idea how hard you’ve been working to lose those five extra pounds. I don’t know that you’ve been getting up an hour early every morning to jog before work, that you’ve been using a calorie counter app on your phone, and you’re still not getting the results you want.

Yes, that would be totally out of line for me to make those judgements.

But anyway, back to how “lucky” I am to be skinny. This summer, I started working out for the first time in my life. I’ve always tried to gain weight, but didn’t know how. Until this summer, I feasted on fast food, anything fried, candy, desserts, snacked until I went to bed, and still never gained a pound. I’ve been the same weight since I was about 18 and before that, I was about 95 pounds all the way through high school. It turns out I was going at this completely the wrong way.

One of my friends invited me to start going to the gym with her about a month ago. At first, the idea was terrifying. I had never worked out for a few reasons:

  • No one in my family is active and I had no idea what to do.
  • I was afraid I would lose weight and we all know that’s the last thing I need.
  • I was afraid that people in the gym would judge me and think, “What’s that anorexic chick doing on the elliptical? Someone get her a McDonald’s IV stat!”

However, I decided to grow a pair and tried it. I love it. It’s become addicting. Yeah, I’ve gotten a few strange looks and one guy even smirked at me as I struggled to lift 25 lbs. on the shoulder press. You know what, smirky guy? Bite me.

We’ve even gotten a personal trainer together and I’m noticing a little bit of muscle on my arms. Don’t get me wrong; I still look like I’m 15. Parents of my students still walk into the band room and ask me where the teacher is. (I was asked for my hall pass at the high school a couple years ago.)

Though small, the changes I’m seeing are encouraging. I’ve even changed my diet drastically in the last few weeks. My trainer says I have to burn some fat to gain the 12 or so pounds of muscle I need. Believe it or not, the correct way for me to gain weight is to eat the same way that someone who’s trying to lose weight does. I just have to eat about 6 times a day to balance my calorie intake with my metabolism that gives Road Runner a run for his money.

I’ve realized how hard it is to eat right. Those who are Facebook friends with me saw my status regarding the taste similarities between rice cakes and packing peanuts. Seriously – who thought that was a good idea?

One of the only things keeping me motivated is seeing Jenna Mourey’s body. If you don’t know who this chick is, you need to educate yourself via YouTube. JennaMarbles. Do it…unless you’re offended by profanity and sarcasm, in which case you shouldn’t even be reading this blog.

Maybe after working out for about five years, I could look half as good as she does.

Until then, don’t worry; I ate a sandwich today.