Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Iowa- Hate for the Home State

We've known each other awhile, yeah (well most of us)? So for those of you who actually know me you'll know I don't get really livid very often. Sure I get down sometimes. I even get a little out of whack, but I don't get seriously pissed off very often. Tonight is a different story.

This will be a short post. Photo enforced... just like my speeding ticket. This pretty much covers it.


That ticket has not been in my f*cking mail box for weeks. I know because I just paid a shit load of bills today and that wasn't in there. SOOOO it's been in there a day? Screw you. You suck.

Also, finish your stretch of the f*cking road. How about that? NO ONE is ever working out there. I travel that interstate all year round. There is NEVER anyone out there. Just take down all the supposed speed signs you have and put up a big ass "HERE IS WHERE WE MAKE OUR MONEY" sign. It would be easier to see and probably garner more attention, jerks.

I'm not going to actually write them, but please go ahead and assume I am saying the most filthy words about these people right now. Imagine the worst things you could say and use my voice to do it. I am completely okay with your imaginings.

@#$%@$&$&$&@$@$#!^%*&^*(&&$^@*%Q

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ottawa: A Forty and Frozen Experience

Well it's been a few weeks now and 40 seems a lot like my 30s. The 30s seemed a lot like the 20s with the exception of teenagers and a mortgage. Perhaps it is all in the mind. You're as young as you feel, and I feel like there's so much left to be done. If this is middle age, then I have quite a bit of time and a lot left to do.

For my milestone birthday I decided to work. Then I did a little exploring. I ended up in Ottawa, Canada. The alternative was to wait a week and see the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, which I now realize would have been the best game EVER. Alas, I spent my time in the frozen tundra that is Ottawa at this time of year. It wasn't all bad. Let's break it down... (pics in no particular order because I'm pretty damned lazy)


Moxie's- Absolutely try the Sushi Cones and the Ginger Sesame Tuna. Not only was our waitress absolutely gorgeous, but she knew directions to the best LCBO in Ottawa. Gotta love a girl who can tell you where to find the best selection of drinks!

Arc, The Hotel- In the heart of everything, close to Parliament, walking distance to anything we needed and very well appointed. First off, the staff was very cordial. We were met with valet service and sparkling white before we even completed check in. The room was modern, clean, comfortable, and the bedding was heaven. Huge props for the complimentary water, fruit, and chocolates. I've been told that chocolate creates the same reaction in the brain as chocolate, though I'm not sure how much chocolate it takes.


Elgin Street Diner- After a hard night out it is always nice to find a place that will cater to your fat, carb, and protein needs. This is that place. Sure, it's a bit of a walk from where you're staying, but I can promise you that the portions are beyond even American standards and they will leave you very happy that you have to walk back. It's that good and it's that bad for you. I loved it. The coffee keeps coming and the meat seemed to go on for miles. What more could you ask for?


Museum of Civilization- Once you've reached the locks (no, I don't have pics.. they were dry) you might as well make the walk across the Ottawa river to Quebec. As you cross the bridge you'll find the Museum of Civilization where we planned to see the Vodou exhibit. If you're in the area or it travels to where you are I strongly encourage you to take the time to check it out. It's illuminating, and the staff at the MoC were especially eager to be helpful in helping to understand how Vodou merges tribal belief with modern and ancient Christianity. The artwork itself is worth a visit. We also managed to take in the Kenya IMAX show and a tour of the true First World totems. Truly impressive. I will also state for the record that his place does things right. There is a restaurant/bar ON premise. We managed to stop over for a beer and a martini before we hit the IMAX, because as the ticket agent said when asked if they had a bar, "Of course, this is Quebec!"


Aulde Dubliner & Pour House- It's a hell of a walk in the freezing rain between provinces, so we felt it only right that we stop to warm ourselves at one of the local pubs. Looking back I really wish I had tried the fish and chips. Maybe next time? Not only did I discover ciders I'd never had before, but I had the opportunity to spot a gentleman sporting all opposing hockey gear in an all Senators town with no one kicking his ass, AND I had a view of Sugar Mountain... the end all be all of sugar highs, which we visited next.

Sugar Mountain- Imagine all the candy you loved AND hated as a kid and an adult. It lives at Sugar Mountain. I don't mean to brag, but ya know the Cadbury Creme Egg we love to hate? They have a candy bar. I. Shit. You. Not. It's pretty damned amazing. Aside from that, I found lolly's and Pop Rocks. There was so much I can't buy in the SD I couldn't begin to name it all. Galaxy, real Mars, Malteresers, Dairy Milk, etc. I held back, though my companion did not. I could have claimed the tax when I left the country, but that would have seemed a little gluttonous and I didn't want to give us a worse name than we already had. "Oh, she came to Canada and she filled up on fat and sugar.. typical American."


Fat Tuesdays New Orleans Experience- I'm not sure what led us there, but it might have been the hurricane drinks. Regardless, we went. To start, it seems the appetizers were good. I had a salad so I'm not actually sure. The joy might have been sugar or post app alcohol inspired. Who knows. What I am sure of is that the jambalaya (like everything else in the city ;) ) offers up plenty of spice and plenty of meat. The waiter was a consummate flirt, winking not only at me (which made me feel absolutely girlish), but also at my companion, which made it just a little less special but a lot more funny. Absolutely delightful. Following the sampling of every cocktail on the menu (not kidding), we were treated to some terrific music by an unknown trio. The music was great and packed with lots of feeling, but the drunks around us made it even more enjoyable.

In the interim there is always travel and sleep. I must clarify for the people of my country that if you feel you are "man" enough to handle the north land, you should really go slightly north before you make such claims. I don't know that I've ever felt more frigid than the moments in Ottawa, in the dead of night, when we couldn't find a cab to take us back to our hotel room.


Twice during my visit I was given an opportunity to see how the other half lives. By the other half, I obviously mean the people who don't have to settle for malt beverage in our mixers. I don't know if people in the US are aware of this, but your Twisted Teas, Smirnoff Ices, and your Mike's Hard have been made with malt beverage. There is no whiskey or vodka in your drink. I'm sorry. You've been misled.

Apparently the US in one of the only (if not the only country) that does not trust their people to have pre-mixed drinks. In Canada (and other countries, dammit), you can get your Smirnoff Ice with real vodka in it. Your teas have whiskey. You can get your Canadian Club pre-mixed with ginger ale or cola... your Mike's Hard is actually hard! As a matter of fact, you can even get your RockStar with vodka without having to ask for it to be mixed in a glass. It's right there in the damned can. Maybe pre-mixing these drinks would keep us from having different ideas of what a "pour" is. A Denver pour is not anywhere close to a Sioux Falls pour. If it just came already done you'd know exactly how much was in it. Just saying.


This brings me to the aforementioned LCBO. Let me be very clear about something, if you think you know how to shop for booze you're wrong. I will refer you back to the conversation about dealing with the cold. Take a trip north before you get too big for your britches. I've been north of the border more than a few times and I can tell you for certain that we shop like booze pansies. I was the ONLY person at the largest LCBO in Ottawa buying a single serve of anything. As people in front of me checked out shopping carts of beverage I bought 2 single cans of ciders we don't have in the US. I felt like a child, as if people were silently mocking me for my lack of bulk booze purchase. If I'd been prepared to ship some stuff back I might have purchased more. Instead, I hung my head and tucked behind my local companion with his full box 'o booze and hailed a cab back to hotel central.

Tosca Ristorante- Oh. My. Pants. We started things off with some wine and appetizers, because apparently that's what we do. Eat. Drink. Be merry. The calamari looked delightful, but I wouldn't know because I didn't eat it. The grilled shrimp in white wine sauce were a slice of tender tasty perfection. Our wine of the night... 2008 Sledgehammer Cabernet Sauvignon. Honestly, I can't for the life of me remember what anyone had for dinner except me. I had stuffed tortellini with Gorgonzola sauce and prosciutto. It was so delicious I made it for my family when I got home. I am quite sure I didn't do it justice.

At the end of every trip is the road home. It is absolutely brutal, no matter how long or short the road may be. It takes a lot for me to get excited about being in the Midwest, but as usual I felt completely overjoyed to be back in my own car on the way back to my own bed by the time the trip was over. My urge to leave is back with a vengeance. Where I'll go next is still in the air, but my bag is already half packed.






Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Few Sexy Reasons Why Forty Isn't So Bad

Forty--it's the year you officially become middle aged, wrinkle creams suddenly seem attractive and you realize your butt just doesn't look like it used to. Aging; fun, right? But while the media typically wraps up aging women with a negative connotation and pushes it as something we should be afraid of, it can actually be pretty great.

Turning forty and beyond has it's benefits, two of the biggest being relationships and sex. Like a good wine or your sense of style, these two components only get better with age. So before you get hung up on the negatives coming with your next birthday, check out the positives.



Sexual Confidence:
As the fledgling days of your twenties are well behind you (thank god!), so too are the bedroom insecurities. At this point, you know what you like and what you want. You know what works and what doesn't. You've learned the art of speaking up, asking for what you want and letting loose on the reigns. You also have the balls now to step outside of your comfort zone, knowing that a little dirty talk, Adam and Eve toys and role playing can go a long way. Your ever growing sexual confidence will continue to bring your sex life to new heights, including...

More orgasms.
Heyo! Your sexual confidence mixed with hormone levels changing gives you access to more orgasms than you ever experienced when you were younger. While libidos are known to decrease once you hit a premenopausal state, your sexual satisfaction does not. In fact, it goes up!

Communication:
Relationships and dating proved to be tricky when you were younger. You were afraid to say this, that or another in fear that it would push your partner away. Now you can drop a conversation bomb like a seasoned pro with the intelligence, confidence and empathy to match, all while cooking dinner and helping the kids do homework.

Dating:
Dating used to be painful and truthfully, it can be at any age. However, if you find yourself still dating, or dating again in your forties and beyond, you can rest easy knowing that you're likelihood of dealing with boy-like traits (playing games, egos, etc.) will substantially decrease. At this point, your date will already have their life together or will at least let you know they never will. You won't have to wonder if they are the marrying kind or will want to have kids because chances are they will have already done both. And while not necessary, but certainly nice, you won't have to endure $1.50 movies and $2 beer nights, because you can both afford to take each other out on nice dates.

Love:
The rush of young love is fantastic; it's a cloud 9 feeling that nothing else can replicate. But the feeling of well-aged love, the kind you build over years of special moments, conversations and fights, is unlike any initial feeling of butterflies. So as you look back fondly at those early years, know that your love gets better, stronger and more comfortable with every year.

As your next birthday approaches, whether its a big one, a not so important one or "which one was it again," know that your relationships and sex life are only going to keep improving and age ain't nothing but a number. What else do you think gets better with age?



Major thanks to Adam and Eve's team of writers for today's article. With my birthday merely days away I plan to get every last thing on the list! Either way, I'll at least be doing a little shopping. ;)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

If My Life Isn't Perfect By 40

Today I turned 39.96 years old. If little kids can piece out their year so can I. I'm not 40. Not yet, anyway.

Image Source
This getting older thing was sort of freaking me out. All I could think was, "I'm going to be a still-divorced 40 year old woman." I had no idea what that even meant. It was certainly not in my plans. I was supposed to have my beta marriage over, the kids preparing to leave the nest, and my new and improved marriage was supposed to be well underway. In my 30 year plan, I had selected 40 as the year my pretend husband and I would go to some gorgeous sunny resort and act like carefree 20 somethings and enjoy cocktails and staring at other much sexier vacationers. What the hell? This shit was not going as planned. Last year I sat down and had a little cry, then I looked at myself and said, "Tick tock, bitch."

Do you know what I've done since then to ensure that my dreams would unfold as scheduled? Not a damned thing. I've been working. It's been busy. I uh... yeah it didn't get done. There was that misspent $30 on Match.com. If you're looking to hook up with people as equally frustrated and messed up as you, it's the place to be! Either way, I've gravitated back to my standard hopeless romantic status. And it's good. I'm not dating, or engaged, or ya know... in a committed relationship, but it will happen when it happens.

If it doesn't happen... it's not like I don't have a crap load of other things to be thankful for.

Crap Load of Things I'm Thankful For If My Life Isn't Perfect By 40
(Feel free to make this a drinking game. If you can say the same, take a drink)

1. Family- All of them. Regardless of how we do or do not get along, I'd not be who I am today without them. They gave me roots, wings, history, and purpose. They are also the ones who have been my strength when I couldn't find any of my own. They also make holidays mo betta because I don't have to do all the cooking or sit by myself watching crappy sappy holiday shows.

a) My mother gets a special mention here because she is and always will be my hero. If you know her and who she is as a mother, wife, grandmother... you'll understand. 

b) My children are my end all be all. No matter how much we complain about each other, bicker, or fight they are my main reason for living. They are amazing, and the depth of their personalities and their hearts make me proud to be their mother. 

2. Friends- I can't name all of them because it would single-handedly bring down the internet. No matter where I've gone in my life I have managed to make the most amazing friends. Without them life would be so very sad indeed. From my girls to my guys, they have provided such warmth and love.

3. Health- What can I say? I'm not sick. Physically. The body is, thus far, holding up pretty well. Cheers to that! Except for the gravity shit. Not real pleased with that, but with some surgical intervention that can be undone. Until then I could probably use duct tape. 

4. Employment- I go to work and get paid for it. This job does not suck. Even when the work itself did, the people made it okay. I'd list all the perks of working here, but I don't need you all asking for applications. Suffice it to say, things could be a lot worse.

5. Laughter- The ability to laugh at myself and my situation, even when the chips are down, is a Godsend. I am fortunate in that respect. No matter how down I get, I can always find a reason to laugh.

6. Tears- Wha what?! Yeah, tears. Sometimes the eyes they get itchy, ya know? Sometimes you just need to be able to let it go, and there is nothing like a good cry to do that. I am not thankful for the puffy post-cry eyes or the red nose or the fact that God didn't make me a pretty crier. I am still thankful for the tears.

7. Past Love- Love them or hate them, past love has brought meaning to my life today. Each broken heart has been a lesson in what I need, what I need to work on, and a stepping stone to a future love.

8. New Love- I love someone. It's true. I consider it a little reminder that I'm not as broken as I think. I'm still capable of loving. That's pretty damned miraculous, right? All things considered... No? Whatever, I'm considering it my super power.

9. Social Media- As I've moved, my friends have moved. As I've changed, my interests have changed. In so many ways technology has added people to my life, many of which I've had the opportunity to meet in real life. They have become my friends and, in a way, my family. If it weren't for technology these incredible friends and family and experiences wouldn't have been a part of my life. From MSN, Match.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs... I swear to God, some of the most amazing and horrendous experiences of my life. You all know who you are. <3

10. The little things- Whether it is easy to make dinners, short lines at the grocers, lower gas prices, or the fact that I'm living somewhere far better than so many other people in the world (and as much I fight it, it's still true), it's these little turns of luck that put you where you are right this very moment. I'm thankful for all those damned little things. When I think, "I wish I could go ____ or maybe even do ____", I have to remind myself that perhaps that isn't what I am supposed to be doing right now. Perhaps that is my tomorrow. Perhaps that is my never, but life could sure as fuck be a lot worse than it is without the little things.

So, if life isn't exactly how I wanted it to be when I am 40... it's been pretty damned good to me, all things considered. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

North Dakota Woman Wants to Give Letters to Obese Kids: So Angry I Could Spit

Imagine walking up to your neighbor's child and saying, "I bought presents for all of your friends, but I don't think you deserve one so I'm giving you a flag that says, 'LOSER'. You can show your flag to your parents. They will know why." Now imagine the hurt in that child's heart. Imagine yourself as that child when your friends all look at you and giggle. Put yourself in the place of that child. Imagine how terrible you'd feel knowing that aside from all of your friends taunting you about what they consider to be a defect in your personal appearance, that the neighbors (grown adults) want to point out too. Do you feel that? Imagine how disgusted you'd feel about yourself. Now imagine going back to school tomorrow and facing the almost disguised giggles and the outright snickering with fingers pointed in your direction.

Stop. Are you happy with what you've created? Are you proud enough in yourself? You bullied a child. In typical fashion, you reached out to someone smaller than you, with less clout than you, and you've made them feel both huge... and incredibly small at the same time.

A woman in North Dakota has decided it would be a good idea to hand out letters, instead of candy, to children on her trick-or-treat route that she deems to be overweight. Obviously, she has chosen to be anonymous because even she knows her decision would lead her to being ostracized in the community. I'm sure she probably started this with the belief that only obese people with obese children would be offended.

Unfortunately, she forgot the human factor. We didn't all grow up in the thin group. Personally, I grew up fat. My parents weren't the cause. You could have shamed me until the moon turned blue. I'd have just gotten fatter or I'd have stopped eating altogether and my body would have decided to grow thicker body hair to heat my ever withering frame. Those are the reactions to eating disorders, to one extreme or another. THAT is what shame does to a child.

I'm sure this woman does not consider this to be shaming behavior. She's wrong. No matter who this letter is aimed at, the child will know who the letter came from. When other children reveal the contents of the letter, and they will, classmates will have witnessed the letter being handed out and to whom. Children whose parents receive this letter WILL be called out by classmates. Shaming will occur.

Let's talk for a minute about eating disorders. Eating disorders don't only occur on one end of the spectrum. People who overeat to fill a void suffer the same issues as those who under eat. In both cases, organ damage, self-esteem, confidence, levels of happiness, and realistic body image face a powerful blow. In one case the person feels they can never be thin enough to reach the goal and continue to try until their organs give out. In the other case the person feels there is no hope, so they eat until their bodies cannot support their organs and eventually those organs give out.

This, my friends, is what shame causes. It causes people to forego natural activity and behavior and hide it away. Thin people will never feel thin enough. Heavy people will be so ashamed that they won't seek help. How long does this have to go on? How many people will we see shunning fitness programs because they grew up with a neighbor who couldn't even give them a piece of candy on Halloween without singling them out for being "fat"? How many kids will stop eating because they worry that next year they might get that letter?

Ms. North Dakota, whomever you really are, I hope you realize your actions are nothing short of bullying. This might be legal on your doorstep, but morally, it is completely ill-conceived and hurtful. Take a moment, before Halloween arrives, and consider the following; You had enough time to consider writing a letter, buying paper and envelopes, printing it, and throwing your plan on social media, but that time could have been spent; Encouraging young people to participate in a program at the local park, inviting your neighbor child to walk with you and your pet, playing at the YMCA or YWCA, or countless other programs. This time could have been spent at the local after school program where you could have lovingly taught children a better way of living. You could have volunteered with a group of children in a local youth organization and gone on a hike explaining the importance of healthy food when sustaining their bodies.

There are SO many things you could have done with your time... and there is still a little time left. Grow a heart. Get some compassion. Learn what it really takes to reach children. Shaming parents and person doesn't work. Example does. Reach out. The world is waiting. Instead of ruining a childhood holiday, think of the end goal and choose a healthy response. Isn't that what you're asking them to do?


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Searching for Home: My Gypsy Heart


I was not one raised on fairy tales. My earliest childhood memory of reading is of my mother reading Charlotte's Web to my brother, sister, and I when I was merely 5. My desire to roam is certainly not attributable to the stories I was raised on, nor my later readings. Much of my early education outside of the public school system I can attribute to my grandmother, Zona. Whether it was information she'd gathered through experience, education (which to be honest was far more diverse than that of a typical American student today), or through her own endeavors to broader her horizons she is the one that encouraged me to learn. 

While both my grandmother and my mother were housewives by common definition, neither discouraged education and exploration. Perhaps it was a dream of both to travel and experience the world. My mother listens with a smile as I recount my travels or experiences. My grandmother has always been diligent in uncovering her ancestry as well as that of my grandfather's, her late husband. It almost seems a way of saying, "We are more than what you remember. We are more than what you see. We have history an ocean away from here, and you should know it. Find it. I've done what I can. It's your turn." 

So while one part of my family traces it's roots to England, the Normans, and Eric the Red, the other, my biological father's side, traces it's roots to historically royal blood in Norway. Our quest to reclaim our bastardized, common, far flung claim to a long forgotten throne has yet to be realized and never will be. All of that withstanding, there is always a memory, though not my own, of home. I wonder at times if this is the same for all "young" Americans. Perhaps many of those who still have family in Europe have dreams of a country not our own but hopes that it one day could be. After all, what is more American than the belief that nothing is beyond our reach? 

This is what astounds me most about having stood on the soil of my forefathers... the instantaneous feeling of coming home. I've mentioned it before, but the only time I've ever felt truly at home were the moments when I stood on English and Scottish soil. Obviously, there is the chance that I simply reveled in the countryside and embraced it as what I knew of home in Iowa. Still, there was a feeling of peace I've never felt anywhere in my life, not even in the US. The only other two places I've felt absolutely alone, yet at peace, were Belfast, Ireland and Montreal, Canada. I would place the onus on the lack of language barrier, but it was more than that. I felt at home before speaking or interacting. 

When I speak to others about my desire to leave, it's often mistakenly construed as an insult to my country of birth. It's as if there is some unspoken belief that when you don't feel you belong it is somehow your fault. I fit in to many places in the United States. The only thing I can describe it as is "passing". I pass as an American. I have some of the same beliefs that our country was founded on. I am indescribably Nordic or English in appearance, not quite this and not quite that, but obviously pale... until I tan my skin and color the grey from my hair to match the darkness of my mother's. Then I look somehow foreign, but still passable. I've heard everything from French to Italian to Jewish, and a few times, Eurasian. My Norman pale is generally most common. My home, however, can only be described as wandering. 

Romani? Perhaps, though, hair color not withstanding, which type of traveler is undecided. Gypsy for sure. While some might consider the term derogatory, I personally find it welcoming. Would I willingly leave my "home" and work jobs in various locations to guarantee my shelter, sure. Do I have a traveling trade, most definitely not. I'm simply seeking home. Maybe home truly is where the heart is. While I love my family, and feel briefly at home when we are all together, I don't truly feel like I belong where I am. Perhaps I am more than what I remember. I am more than what I see. I have history far from here, and I should know it.

Oddly, as I write this, my friend David (truly Irish), experienced his very young daughter's enthusiasm for the fire department. I simply said, "Pretty sure this is some Irish tendency to honor firefighters and policeman. You can suppress it all you like, but eventually one of your kids will join a house or a force or the priesthood. Sorry... that's just how it goes. It's like the guarantee that, as Norman-English and Scandinavian one of my family will take on alcoholism as a sport or farming as an occupation." My family has done both. I like my cocktails, and though I don't farm, I envision a life where I can grow tomatoes, zucchini, and basil year round. In the US I think that makes me a Californian, but my heart tells me that's not it. 

As I gaze upon my impending release from parental responsibility I wonder where I'll go. Obviously my family will be welcomed no matter where I land. Shall I do a gradual move east? Will I change countries and maintain continents? Is the move to another continent inevitable? Is leaving the continent the absolute goal? I don't know at the moment. Right now I only know where my heart is, and aside from my immediate family, it is not here. I used to look to the west as a means of settling, whether it be settling down or settling in general. As 40 approaches I find myself looking east, perhaps with the realization that I am not finished exploring and I am not ready to move toward the ultimate finish, but push toward the ultimate fulfillment... home. 

I'm not seeking a fairy tale. I'm not looking for Prince Charming. My desire to travel is not based upon a story written to draw the reader in with dreams of a better time or a better world. I'm simply seeking something I can't quite grasp. It's there somewhere, if only I can find what it is and where it resides. 

Where are you at home? Is your home merely where your family is or do you feel drawn elsewhere? 






Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Farewell, Sprocket Ink

I've taken a little time away from writing of late, mostly as a way to clear my head of the junk that rattles around in there. After determining a couple of months ago that I'm not actually insane, well... not in the "get the straight jacket" sort of way, it seemed wise to simply revel in my peace for a little while. Now that I've done that, it's time for me to get my head back in the game.

As many of you know, for the last year I've been writing with Sprocket Ink. It was an honor to collaborate with such an terrific group of bloggers, but sometimes life gets in the way of the best plans, projects, and intentions. Sprocket Ink will close this week, but these folks will continue on in other projects and internet infamy.... You should go find them.


nicholeNichole has a great life in the Midwest. She lives comfortably in a house made of glass with her hubby while her tiger sleeps in the garage out back. She has a fake boyfriend known to most people as “Jon Stewart.” She believes that most of life’s lessons can be learned through The Brady BunchSeinfeld, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She falls asleep to Ira Glass’s voice on This American Life as often as possible. She’s both a news junkie and a reality TV show junkie… somehow she makes that work.
Andrea is the quirkiest thirty-something writer slash photographer, crazy cat lady this side of the Mississippi. She’s a California girl turned Portlander and she has the plaid shirts and Valley Girl accent to prove it. She  wonders how the hell she ended up with a big girl job, spends her weekends dominating the Portland karaoke scene, and blogs when she feels like it at Crazy with a Side of Awesome Sauce. Andrea was lucky enough to be with Sprocket in its conception and is ever so stoked to be back snarking it with the best of ‘em.
Becky lives in Texas with her hubcap, Chuck and two tiny dogs, Pants and Scratchy. She moved to Texas when she was nine but she doesn't call herself a Texan, maybe in another 20 years. She pokes animals with shiny needles (only to help them!) during the work week and relaxes at night with a sharp and gluten free knife. On the weekends you will find her in the pool with a good book or a kindle in a waterproof case and her waterproof camera around her neck. She started her blog in 2006 when she discovered boyfriends watch a lot of football. Like a lot of football.

Brahm lives in northern Canada with his patient husband, adorable dog, and handsome step-dog. When not living his double life as an international man of mystery, he dabbles in pop culture obsession, watches The Big Bang Theory over and over, has a career in retail, runs long distances very slowly, and blogs at Alfred Lives Here where he rants and raves about TV, movies, morons, books, gay life, and why the Kardashians really are a sign of the coming apocalypse.
Bre works to support all sorts of habits outside of the job that include, eating, watching movies, buying Kindle books, and buying toys for the toddler that will go unused.  A full-time mother, employee, and social networker, she enjoys everything from Friends to Fight Club.  As full blown Texan, she believes everyone is y’all, honey, but wouldn't be caught dead near a horse (unless it’s Rodeo time).  You can find her discussing being a parent, life, and even posting the occasional work of fiction on her blog at BreWrites.com
 When Handflapper is not trying to encourage one of her many disliked dogs to play in the road (shh, don’t tell her husband!), she might be crafting or reading or playing on the internets, but she’ll most likely be napping. She always thought she’d be a writer when she grew up, but she somehow became a special education teacher instead.  Now that she’s retired* from teaching and actually getting the chance to write, she’s discovered she’s as lazy about that as she is anything else. She’s either a hippie or a nerd, depending on whom you ask, but definitely too liberal for most of her neighbors in rural Arkansas (redundant, right?).  She raised two boys who have turned out just as cynical as she.  She has a half-ass blog at Handflapping.com where she over shares the intimate details of her life. Trust me, it’s not as exciting as it sounds.   *had a nervous breakdown and quit her job*
Jessie Bishop Powell has two perfectly useless Master’s Degrees from the University of Kentucky. The degree in English prevents her from writing, and the one in Library Science prevents her from reading, so she’s pretty much up a creek. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her egghead husband and their two bookworm children. For all her erudite background, her favorite words all start with the prefix fuck, and she makes her mother blush on a regular basis. You can read her ranting and fiction over at her blogging home, Jester Queen.

Kath is Jersey, baby. After all these years she still has no clue what she wants to be when she grows up. She has a bad attitude, that doesn't make her a bad person. Give her music and she is tolerable…barely. She rants about life on Kat’s Theory of Life and bitches about what passes for music, on Kat’s Theory of Music.

Untitled-Grayscale-01Kellie Maliborski is a cubicle dwelling office worker from Queensland, Australia who works in a library during the day and writes silly things on the internet in the evening … well, she writes them when she’s not obsessively refreshing her Tumblr feed or reading Stargate Atlantis fan-fiction, because she’s essentially a fourteen year old girl inside the body of a thirty mumble year old woman. You can find Kellie at her blog Delightfully Ludicrous .


KristiKristi is a robot masquerading as a writer. She figured it would be the best cover prior to the inevitable droid take over. Supported by these humans in her house, the snark flows out of her through her writings. Sometimes the filter is broken. You've been warned.
Find her ramblings on The Robot Mommy or parenting advice on Mom 365.

Lance, from My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog, is an anxiety ridden, sarcastic, punk rock loving, sports, music & politics obsessed robot-human hybrid writer living in the deep south with 4 women and not talking about Fight Club. Lance Burson is a published author of two books, The Ballad of Helene Troyand Soul To Body.


LindaLinda is a writer/musician. She’s grateful that the word “snark” has been introduced into the vernacular since people just used to know her as “the chick with the bad attitude”.  She feels strangely akin to Larry David and will criticize your parallel parking abilities to prove it. She blogs at elleroy was here, fronts the Indie Americana band Jehova Waitresses, is a staff writer at Aiming Low and writes a music column at Funny Not Slutty.  Connect with her at Twitter and Facebook and Google+
NatalieNatalie DeYoung, a reading addict with a penchant for making up words, lives the life of a misfit freelance writer/editor in Southern California with her adorable cat, her annoying dog, and her long-suffering husband. You can find her perpetually enrolling in grad school for esoteric subjects and scheming of ways to travel the world with no money. She runs a personal blog at The Cat Lady Sings and a professional website at One Word in Front of the Other, and has appeared on The Huffington Post.


sarah
Sarah has the husband, kids, house, job, and the stressed-induced insomnia to prove it. She lives in the Midwest with the above-mentioned menagerie, and works in academia. She revels in nerdiness. When she’s not working, she ignores the mountains of dirty laundry and blogs at La Casa di Frigerio; mainly about tortilla chip-induced panic attacks and keeping the vermin at bay.

Shane.Lusher
Shane finally realized that the whole socialization thing wasn't going to work out in college when, while trying to fit in, he overheard a frat boy tell a woman he ‘didn't like ballet because the guys always look like they have a pickle in their pants.’
So he left for Austria, where it’s so much easier to like people when you’re trying to figure out what they’re saying most of the time.  He now lives in state-subsidized housing, working in IT, nipping at the teat of the welfare state and raising 3 children with a wife who can’t figure out how the hell we got here but is sure that it will all work out for the best in the end. He does most of his writing very early in the morning, when the birds wake up, forced into being a morning person by fate and circumstance and goddamn kids.
Keep in mind that he didn't used to be this way.  He used to be quite lucid, before making chocolate milk at 3 A.M. became such a priority. Did we mention that he loves you?  Each and every one of you.  Just don’t get too close.  He bites.  Not in a fetish way.  In the other way.

Vinny C
From the shores of Trinidad & Tobago comes Vinny C. First sighted on As Vinny C’s It, not much is known about this international blogging enigma. What is known is that he is married (apparently to a very patient woman) and holds a strange obsession with coffee. Evidence also suggests he tends to favor humor, Japan, pop culture references and drawing crude stick figures – often with large breasts. Even more mysterious is how he manages to continually breach our security in order to leave his writings behind.

Damon Rallis, formerly of The Six Fingered Monkey (and various other well known, widely acclaimed, and all around outstanding representations of literary ability), is currently sporting a new haircut and working on new goals. You can find him at Damon Peter Rallis, where he is working toward a better community and a better world, dammit! He's a father, partner, and freelancer (of the working kind). 




So with that, I'm going to get my ass out of here for today. I'll actually be back sooner than later, but it's probably best that I spend more time doing my job while I'm at work than blogging. For today anyway.





Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cohabitation: I'm Probably Over Thinking It


As an adult, anytime I'm in a relationship I consider the implications of living with the other person. Will we find out things about each other that just absolutely do not work with our respective ways of life? What if he's only been keeping his place clean when I'm coming over? What if he considers clean sheets a novelty? Will he think I'm weird that I regularly go through the fridge and dump anything that there's not a chance in hell that we're going to eat before it expires? We're not actually waiting for the apocalypse are we? 

I don't recall having these thoughts when I was a young woman embarking on my first cohabitation with my future husband. Things were what they were and we were too excited to play house to fret over the little things that would one day annoy the living shit out each other. As long as the sex was plentiful nothing else mattered. Ah, ignorant bliss. 

I have a million face creams, lotions, serums, and washes. I keep 2-3 different shampoos and conditioners on hand at any given time as well as a multitude of hair products necessary to create whatever hairstyle I am trying to create. There are tweezers, clippers, flat irons, curl irons, blow dryers, and other implements of hair abuse to house. I have many products that men will never use. 

My ex husband grew up with two woman in his family. My last two partners had both lived with females for extended lengths of time. I felt pretty secure about handling the fact that I was still of breeding age and health and as such, still had to deal with that monthly visit from Flo. It's life. I considered it a sign from God that I'd not be dealing with 18 more years of parental worry. I'd cramp a little, cry a bit, and get the hell over it. 


Tampax will tell you that their products are flushable. In some cases they are. I'm not saying you specifically determine whether or not you can flush your feminine products. I am telling you it is entirely dependent on your plumbing system. Septic tank? No. Old plumbing? No. Heavily used shared plumbing? No. So to be on the safe side, the answer is wrap and toss. Wrap and wrap and wrap and wrap and toss. Do a good job. You don't want it to look like you found a mouse in a trap and mummified it. Use half a roll if you need to. 

I will also tell you that it's pretty damned important that you square this little thing up with your partner.If you don't think it's important, tell me what you think the conversation will be like when you're caught smuggling your toilet paper and plastic bag covered products and digging surreptitiously to the center of the trash in another place in the house to dispose of them. You don't want to live like a squirrel burying a nut do you (thanks SK)? 

Do yourself a favor and make it a moving in discussion point. It might start something like, "Hey, dude... listen. I get my period. When I do, I will use products that allow me to leave the house and function like a regular old human being. Those products have to be disposed of. How would you prefer that I do that?" 

If your guy freaks out, remind him that if he likes girls it's sort of part and parcel of the whole vagina package. If he still seems disgusted remind him that you don't say anything about the fact that during those days he humps your leg in his sleep or uses too much of your conditioner in the shower and doesn't have much hair. True or not, it's ammunition. 

For the record, as I searched for suitable articles to cite in this post I found a magazine called Period Living. It wasn't at all what I was looking for, but I got some awesome tips on decorating my house! 

What is your biggest fear/irritation about cohabitation?


Monday, September 2, 2013

Making Something Better


There is nothing worse than spending your life questioning yourself. If something so real and painful to you didn't actually happen what does that mean for the rest of your life? What is real? If something that impacted you so dramatically never happened what else isn't real? If you close your eyes for a time and reopen them will everything still be here? Paralytic fear is something you can't ever understand until you experience it.

Thus began the phone calls. "Do you remember the day that___ ?"  or "How old were we?" and "When did your parents remodel?" and the inevitable, "Am I crazy?" Of all the questions I asked, that last one is the one I hesitated on the most. Something beautiful happened when I broke down... I realized my family is the most amazing group of people a girl could ever hope for. 

Today begins a new phase in my life. Summer is unofficially over today, but I feel reborn. The things in my past that have needled me are getting put in a locked box, sealed in concrete, and dropped into an abyss where I will never see them again. I've learned all I can from the pain and isn't that what it's for? Once something has outlived its usefulness what is the point in keeping it? Nothing really.

I want to thank my mother, sister, and cousin for being there for me when shit got real. I hope that each of you knows how loved you are. You're amazing, strong, beautiful women who deserve all of the very best things in life. I am so very blessed to have you in my life.

For the first time in a long long while, I woke today feeling empty. It was different from the emptiness that comes from a void you can't hope to fill. The emptiness was a space where anger and pain used to live. There was a sense that I'd cleaned out the closet of my soul and threw out everything that just isn't me anymore. It is a space that can now be filled with happiness, joy, and love. Deciding what to fill your life and your heart with is a conscious choice, and I'm choosing to look forward. I'm choosing to make something better.







Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Avoiding the Freshman 15 at All Ages

It's time for the kids to head back to school. You can go ahead and cheer or clap I won't tell anyone. My grocery bill declines sharply when there's no one at home eating half a pound of lunch meat and cheese on any given day. Yes, David and bros... I realize that's an admirable feat to the sandwich lovers of the world, but for the rest of us who would like food available when we come home at the end of the day it's pretty frustrating.

For those of you striking out on your own for the first time or heading to college the actual grocery bill is probably the least of your worries. This is your chance to make a life for yourself. For many that life will include all night cram sessions, a heavier class load, stress, and all sorts of recreational eating and drinking you used to hide from your parents. You're worried about what you're going to wear, who you're going to meet, how much fun you're going to have, and grades... DAMMIT WORRY ABOUT THE GRADES!

Most of you are familiar with the term "Freshman Fifteen". It's a common phrase discussing the average weight gain of a high school senior following their freshman year at college. Some of you will be lucky to keep that number at 15. Remember that recreational eating and drinking I mentioned? What I'm about to share with you is not just for the girls. Trust me. I've seen guys leave for college in high school sport shape and return with chins that meet the collar bone with nary a curve between. Let's take a look...

The Best Regimen for College Fitness
Source
In the event that you blew past the information in that graphic let's be real.

1. Weight is about calories in vs. calories out. If you consume more calories than your body burns you will gain weight.
2. If you eat high fat low substance foods you don't do yourself any favors. Cheetos are not a meal. They aren't even a good substitute for a side dish. The average vending machine Big Grab bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos has 3.5 servings. If you eat that whole bag you're looking at:
595 calories
38.5 g fat

Given that a 100 pound body burns 1 calories a minute in the process of watching TV, laying around watching TV and eating Cheetos will have to lay still for 9 hours to burn off just the Cheetos. What else did you eat?

3. Getting off your ass prevents that Freshman Fifteen. Walk when you have a chance.

4. Choose healthier options over the cheap stuff. We all know fast food and vending machine options are easier, but you'll be hungrier sooner and want more calories if you choose incorrectly the first time.

5. Today isn't tomorrow. If you fall of the health band wagon today get your ass back on tomorrow. Why ruin a good week of healthy eating with a single day?

6. Everything in moderation only works if you consider the "everything" part. You can't just eat in moderation without working out in moderation. If you're going to power consume, whether it's liquid or solid, you need to power exert. Your body is built to burn a certain amount of calories just existing. What you do above and beyond that is generally up to you.

These are not just solid tips for new college students. These rules of fitness apply to all walks of life. Even if you're not going off to college, you might be going off to high school with your kids. I guarantee you that you're going to be checking out the other parents. They will be checking out you as well. Step it up. Be healthy, have more energy, look amazing!

Here are a some great ideas for changing up that grilling regimen!

1. Substitute bison or turkey for ground beef. Both options are lower in fat and cholesterol.

2. Substitute avocado for mayo. It's loaded with flavor and has few fat and calories than mayo. It also has ZERO cholesterol and only 4 mg of natural sodium vs. the 209 mg in 2 tbs of mayo.

3. Use herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of the meat without throwing on more salt or seasoning salts.

4. Using fat free cheese or veggie shreds? Split your burger patty meat in half. Make two thin patties and seal the cheese between the two, sealing the edges. The FF cheese/shreds will melt better and will be enhanced by the flavor of the meat.

5. Grilling veggies is great for people with a pristine grill. For those who don't have a grill, spray a cooling rack with fat free non-stick olive oil spray. Beneath it place a shallow cookie sheet. You can broil veggies if you watch them carefully. Season as you would on a grill, pop them in, and keep a close eye. Flip them when they are half way to the tenderness you're looking for.

Go out there and enjoy the last few vestiges of summer. Get your grill on! If you're headed for the dorms or this is your first year of life on your own, remember that you are the master of your own closet. If you want those pants to fit next year you're the only one in control of it. Get off your ass... and save a beer for me. Send pics of the keg stands. Party responsibly. Get a cab. Just say no. No glove no love, etc.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

What the Hell I've Been Doing

Work. Is. A. Bitch. That's not a poem. I won't lie, there are days that I've come home and said,"Fuck it." Those days ended up piling up. I suck. Let's not dwell okay, folks? Something decent is coming. God only knows what it is, but I plan to do it by Sunday night. In the meantime, I've been over at Sprocket Ink writing this....

Drug Education Falls Short of Scaring Kids As Intended

Sometimes you need a little more than scientific fact to scare your kids about the dangers of drugs... such as ripping off their own genitals.

Being a Jerk Just Got Easier

They say that breaking up is hard to do, but that's really not true. If you were aiming for the douche angle there's an app for that! 

Billboards Confirm Atheists Exist in South Dakota

Unlike Big Foot, atheists DO exist. In order to prove this, they've created billboards and invite people to join their club! 

Toddler Photos on Instagram Mean Pink Slips for Daycare Workers

What's keeping your daycare provider from taking pics of your tots and using them for online memes? Well aside from not being able to receive unemployment, not much. 

You’re Paying For More Drinks Than You Think

When your grandpa and grandma were super nice to you it was probably because they were drunk. Just because you weren't at the bar doesn't mean you aren't paying for everyone else's drinks. 

Wife Beds Father In Law, Beating Ensues, Thanksgiving Awkward

You thought having an argument with your folks about when you're going to get your priorities straight and settle down was irritating? Imagine having this shit cloud hanging over you at your next family gathering! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Office Talk Friday: Penises. Some Things Never Change

Well hello. Fancy meeting you here. Long time no see. Do you come here often? Obviously I don't. It's been a hell of a few weeks and today gives me a brief respite in the part of my life where I put on a fake smile and nod a lot. No, I didn't win a beauty pageant or anything quite so glamorous. When clients visit the office we smile, even when our heads hurt, our eyes are dangerously close to slamming shut, and our asses are dragging. We smiled so much that my face hurt by the end of yesterday. That's over though and so is the fake smiling for a few days.

This, of course, is not to say that I'm not smiling. I am. I so am. Today is the day reserved for office talk with the girls. While it's not exactly a scheduled event and takes place, to one extent or another, every time the girls are all in the office, it is definitely like a holiday. It usually starts around 9 AM. Reports are done, there is a lull in the action, clients aren't in on Fridays (typically), and we have a few moments free to browse the internet. 

I want to give a shout out to Jessie Powell over at Jester Queen for giving us a topic to kick us into high gear. It would seem that one study of penises is never enough. Apparently it is necessary to keep asking guys to talk about their members and comparing the results. Here's what we took away from this very often regurgitated topic... poor word choice I know.

Image Source


1. The average length of an erect penis is 5.6 inches. 
One of the girls made a very interesting point. The more things change the more they stay the same. Isn't it odd that for as much as the general population has increased in personal size over the years that penises stayed the same? Men, on average, are taller than they have ever been historically. I would bet that if this same survey had been done in the days of the cavemen the results would have still been the same. "Long enough to get the job done... usually." And the cave women would be sitting around reading the results in CaveDweller Quarterly laughing their asses off at the "usually" part.

2. Bigger isn't always better, but it usually is. 
According to the article, women claim to have more vaginal orgasms with men with penises bigger than the average 5.6 inches. Still, another study suggests that women care more about girth than length. Our independent office study suggests that women prefer a man that gives her an orgasm and if you're still complaining then you should shut the hell up. 

3. The smallest penis in the study was 1.6 inches and the largest was 10.2 inches. 
It was decided that in either situation, if you really liked the guy and discovered he had either of these penises it would be worthy of tears. Yeah yeah we've seen the video. Sure those girls look really happy with Mr. Well Above Average, but those girls are professionals. I'm pretty sure you have to work up to that. That is NOT a starter penis! 

4. Different stimuli creates a different erection. 
The study goes on to suggest that men claimed to have larger erections when the erection is created through oral sex than through fantasizing. Personally I think this is just another trick men use to get blow jobs. "Baby, it will be bigger if you just..." Mmmhmm And the woman will be like, "Dude I am tired. I have been talking about sex all day and my jaw is sore. Your regular size erection will have to do."

There is so much more to discuss, but I have a single evening of nothing to do before I get back to doing something tomorrow. Feel free to talk among yourselves and get back to me with any questions about erections, because after reading today's article I feel like an erexpert!

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