Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reason #453 why I'm not having children

I was talking to my sister Kari on Windows Messenger a few weeks ago and was getting the scoop on her exciting life as a mother. We had made plans to see each other that day but she was forced to cancel because she was having car problems. And then she continued with the tale of her day.

Apparently, she had wanted to sleep in and Eric was supposed to watch Josh. But Eric had failed in his duties and my small, not quite two year old nephew with a serious Mama complex (cannot handle being separated from her and will scream, quite loudly, if she is not within eye sight. But apparently this is just on the weekends. Which I don’t get but I’m not a child or a parent (thank God)), kept running into the room.

Then Eric was going to take Josh to the store because they were out of milk and numerous other things. Josh wanted nanas (I am assuming this is Small Child for bananas (which is just wrong. Bananas are disgusting. So are tomatoes and yet, they feed them to my poor Josh. And he likes them! How is this possible? Although, while I’m writing this, I am enjoying some banana flavored Runts (which is kind of weird, don’t you think, that I like banana flavored candy but can’t stand actual bananas? I think it’s a texture thing))).

Then Eric was crabby and snapped at Kari. She got mad (this is so not surprising. This is a marriage between two of the most stubborn people in the world. Except Eric, when he gets mad, he’ll snap and it’s over. He’s vanted, problem solved. Kari, however, holds a grudge forever. And she is not opposed to throwing out, in arguments, something that happened 3 years ago (that might be a slight exaggeration (which I know is just shocking because I am NEVER dramatic at all. Never)).

So she got up and decided to take Josh to the store. She also was going to find the lawn mower manual so she should get a new spark plug and air filter (I was saddened to discover this weekend that the riding lawn mower exists no more) but couldn’t find it. Eric decided to go to the store but wasn’t able to start the car. Kari and Eric argued more and then Kari decided to take Josh for a walk.

She then tells me that she went to a park with Josh and she decided to slide down a slide that was wet and dirty, leaving her to walk home with a wet and dirty posterior. After lunch, she undressed Josh to give him a bath. At that point, after the completely crappy day she has had her young son (under 2 years old) pees on her.

As you can imagine, I, a mature adult, start laughing hysterically and try to convince Kari she needs a blog. She declines but gives me permission to post this.

DM says: See this is why you need a blog.
Kari says: No, thanks.
DM says: Okay, well, can I blog about this?
Kari says: Yes.
DM says: Sweet.
DM says: What else happened?
DM says: Keep the inspiration coming (and the cheap birth control).

Kari then went on to tell me that Eric had also played a little bit of a prank on our mother. Apparently my mother had gone online and seen Kari’s name on Instant Messenger. Kari and Eric use the same IM name so Mom sent a message assuming that it was Kari.

Kari says:
Last night Mom IM’d me and he was naughty and pretended to be me.
DM says:
Oh, no. What did he say to her?
Kari says:
That we had sex last night and I came 3 times.
DM says:
LOL! He did not!
Kari says:
Yes, he did.
DM says:
I love him.
DM says:
I’m sure mom was thrilled.
Kari says:
The conversation started out with Mom saying “Are you being sweet to each other”
Kari says:
She was jealous.
Kari says:
He said “No, Eric is an asshole”.
DM says:
Yeah. I don’t blame her. I’m jealous as well. But I think I have her beat with the celibacy.
Kari says:
Then she said “oh come on be sweet”.
Kari says:
Then he said “He is a lazy good for nothing son of a bitch”.
DM says:
He’s such a dork.
Kari says:
Mom wanted to talk to him.
Kari says:
Yes, he is. It went on for awhile and then I kicked him off the computer. I said to Mom
Kari says:
Hi Mom,
Kari says:
She said “Who’s this?”
DM says:
Kari says:
I said Eric has been pretending to be me.
Kari says:
She was fooled. I can’t believe she would think I would say that Eric and I had sex and I came 3 times to her.
Kari says:
She wanted to know if that was true as she was curious.
DM says:
I’m sorry but you’re killing me here. This is great stuff.
Kari says:
That is good. I’m going to go take a bath now. Eric got the car started. Josh is still sleeping.
DM says:
That’s very cool. Glad to hear it.
Kari says:
Have a good day!
DM says:
You too! Love you!

Huh. Kind of makes me glad that I'm extremely single sometimes. Jeff will at least tell people that it's not me if I get an IM when he's online. At least I think he does...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Okay. Here goes.

I'm trying to be disciplined. I am trying to write more and quite possibly finish my novel. Particularly this one.

I feel very strongly about this book and the characters and the plot but I'm having problems with it. I'm not so good with descriptions but I have always been very strong with dialouge. Anyway, the plot is that, on the night of her high school graduation, the heroine is raped by her boyfriend and his two best friends. She leaves town and later finds out that she is pregnant. For over 15 years, she has been hiding, refusing to return to her home town and run the risk of running into these men again. However, her father's illness forces her to confront her demons.

She goes home, decides to stay and opens up a book store in the town. At the time, her 3 assailants are not in town but they return shortly after. They are very threatened to discover that she has returned and also has a child. She starts receiving death threats.

After a public confrontation with her former boyfriend, he is murdered. It is discovered that he had changed his will to acknowledge True's daughter as his own and left money to both True and Cleo. True becomes a suspect. Proving herself innocent and protecting her daughter from the real killer becomes very dangerous.

Here is the prologue. Let me know what you think.


I had the dream again last night. It’s always the same.

It’s dark and I am running, running as fast as I can through the woods of my childhood. Except this time, it’s not the carefree frolic it once was, where I ran like the wind with my friends. This time I am running for my life.

Although my heart is pounding loud enough to drown out all other sounds, I can still hear them, calling my name, threatening and cajoling both. My heartbeat is rapid, beating out a rhythm of fear and pain.

I hear someone weeping, someone praying to God, and then realize that the gasping pleas are being torn out of my chest and into the air. I stop myself, afraid the devils chasing me may hear. If God is listening, there is no sign.

I am terrified, bleeding and broken and ready to collapse. But I keep pushing on. I don’t know how far I run. How far I go that night, every night in my dreams. I stumble on, looking away from the lights bouncing through the trees. I know that if the flashlight beams fall on me, it will be the end. The end of everything I’ve ever loved or hated, everything I’ve ever believed or doubted.

A rock rises out of the ground, out of nowhere, and I trip over it. I fall, tumbling down a small hill, skidding across the ground. I want to give up, to just lie there and await my fate. For a moment, an hour it seems, I simply lie there, staring up at the full moon, looking for an answer as to why this is happening to me. The man in the moon simply smiles down at me.

And then I no longer see the laughing face my father once pointed out to me. The moon is blacked out suddenly, replaced by a dark figure that leans over me. I do not know if it is friend or foe until the figure takes its flashlight and shines it under his face, highlighting him from underneath, becoming a nightmare. I recognize him as one of my attackers, as one who, until 2 hours ago, I considered a friend. Now I am terrified as he reaches a hand down, as if he was going to pull me to my feet, as if he was still my friend and not the monster that chased me through the woods, laughing when I screamed for help.

He leans over me and smiles. “Boo,” he says softly.

I cannot help it. I know this time he won’t let me go, this time he’ll follow through with his threats and kill me. I open my mouth and scream as loudly as possible, hoping that someone, anyone will hear me.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Barely any math involved!

Very interesting survey about blogging. Which means it is cool. Because I blog. And everything I do is cool. Right? Yes, I am looking for affirmation. Affirm me, dang it!

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Fake Interview Meme

Beth, my incredibly brilliant and recently promoted friend, had been conducting a ton of interviews lately, looking for a team lead for her new team. She and her former boss were conducting the interviews together and came up with a list of questions they would like to ask to trip up the applicants. I thought they were hilarious and almost meme-like and, out of complete and utter boredom, have decided to answer them.

I bring you the Fake Interview Meme.

1. Which constellation in the night sky do you identify with the most? Give me a synopsis of the mythology of that constellation, the correct coordinates in the sky, and the reason why you have chosen that constellation.

As a Pisces, you would think I would use my zodiac symbol but I actually am quite fond of Orion. Orion was a hunter favored by Artemis (Diana in Roman mythology, Goddess of the Hunt). He angered Apollo (Oddly enough, he was named the same in Roman mythology, God of the Sun and Artemis’s twin brother) who tricked his sister into killing Orion, after having a giant Scorpion chase him into the sea. Once she realized what she had done, in her grief, she placed Orion and the Scorpion into the sky. It’s somewhere that way (point randomly into the sky). I chose this constellation because I can recognize it easily (three stars form his belt) and I often wonder if he is lonely.

2. What do you think of the color yellow?

Vibrant (if it is citrus lemon color) or Boring (pale lemon).

3. My team lead needs to have the skills to tell me stories, complete with hand gestures. Go.

Hmm. I can only think of one hand gesture but I’m not sure I’d get the job if I use it.

4. What is your opinion about clowns? Do you hold the same opinion about clown shoes?

Thanks to Stephen King, they creep me right the fuck out. I do not have the same opinion about clown shoes because I have never read a book about clown shoes going on a murderous rampage.

5. Which member of The Beatles was your favorite? Why?

Ringo Starr. Are you kidding? The man is hot.

6. Can you build an ark if there was a flood? Would it float?

I’m sure I could give it a try, even though I’m not sure exactly what a cubit is and it would be an excuse to play with power tools. Whether it would float would depend on if someone smart took the drill away from me.

7. Follow up to the ark question. Which ten species would you NOT take in pairs on your ark?

Mosquitos, chiggers (stupid little bugs with no purpose except to irritate the heck out of me) and anything poisonous (except for the frogs. Because they are cute).

8. What is the cure for cancer?

Oh, it’s already been discovered. But the drug companies, working with the President, are keeping it hidden because they would lose too much money if the cure was released. But don’t tell anyone. Because if you do, Jean-Luc Picard is going to come after me and I’ll be compelled to buy “The Catcher in the Rye” which will lead them to me and then I’ll have to fake my own death.

9. Without the aid of a calculator or paper & pencil, what is the square root of 1,234,567,789?

42 (I have no idea, really. I just answer most questions I don’t know the answer to with 42).

10. Tell me your thoughts about sprinklers.

Eek! Ah! Sprinklers (One night Beth and I left Perkins and walked to her car where I was viciously attacked by sprinklers and it was kind of cold and this is what I said. Or maybe it was IHOP. Beth will know)!

11. If you had a choice between being able to fly and being invisible, which would you pick?

Invisible. Because that way I could sneak onto airplanes and fly if I really wanted. I am assuming that I can become visible again if I want to, right?

12. What do you think about hats?

I like them. Even though they are responsible for me not being a manager at NABABNA (here’s a hint – when applying for a position, do not, in the middle of answering a question about what type of manager you would be, look at the hat stand in the office and say “I like your hats” and then go back to answering the question. It kind of ruins your chances at getting the job. Something to do with not being sane enough to do the job).

13. Here's a scenario. Aliens have just invaded the planet and are colonizing in Minnesota (because they are crazy - you know aliens, never doing enough research about weather patterns). They have decided to not kill all humans and earth creatures and look for employment. How would you coach an alien in selling banking products?

Well, that depends. You really can’t coach an alien until you know what galaxy they are from. Are they humanoid? It would be very difficult to coach an alien that I couldn’t communicate with. And what if I accidentally insult them and then there is a war. That could be bad.

14. Do you participate in Internet forwards? Do you believe that sending the email actually gives you good karma?

It depends. If I think it is funny, I will occasionally send it off to friends but it has to be something new. I’m one of those heartless bastards that shows they don’t care by deleting the email. Actually, yesterday I deleted one that said I could possibly die in 48 hours if I didn't send it off. So if I do die, I've really enjoyed blogging and meeting you all. Bury me with Hippo.

15. Have you ever dreamed of monkeys ruling the world? If so, please describe the dream in detail. Be specific about the differences if monkeys were creating policy.

I can honestly say no, I have not. I have dreamt that George Clooney tried to eat me, that Puddy was my boyfriend and that a man came from the future to save another man from convicting his best friend of a murder committed by a woman obsessed with an amorous octupus. But I've never dreamt about monkeys. Which actually strikes me as a little odd when you think about it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I Am From...

I am from the blue swing in the garden,
The American Motors Hornet and other Junkers to follow
An unpaved driveway full of rocks
Where I would drop the hose to watch the water run down to the street
And float branches as far as they would go.

I am from the blue house that used to be yellow,
With the screened-in breezeway,
The basement I was afraid of for years (still am, actually)
And the concrete patio.

I am from the lilac bushes,
The Crab Apple trees that I adored climbing,
The Rhubarb patch and
The willow tree I planted with my bare hands. It died.

I am from Mother’s Day celebrations that the entire family went to,
With cousins as far as the eye could see,
And being afraid of escalators,
From Hilda and Fred and Eugene,
Carol and Robert and Rosalie.

I am from the chemically dependant and the slightly insane.
From Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
I am from being baptized Catholic
Confirmed Lutheran and choosing to be Born Again.
From reading the Bible for fun
And wanting to raise Collies and name them after Joseph and his family.
From knowing the Nicene and Apostle’s Creed by heart.

I'm from Saint Paul and Iowa,
England and Holland and Norway,
Germany and France.
The famous Kaufhold’s Sleycie Klosse*
(That tasted so good but sat in your stomach like a rock),
Grandma’s Pot Roast with carrots and parsnips (mmm, parsnips),
And Mom’s homemade Apple Crisp
(She didn’t bake often but when she did, Mom was a genius in the kitchen).

I am from black and white pictures for Mom’s camera class,
Family reunions where I was forced to smile,
Crabby and defiant in the background.
I am from the Tickle Monster and William O’Brien State Park,
Cuddling with Mom in the mornings,
Being dropped off at the Stillwater library to read all day.

I am from my memories and my memories are from me.**

I found this on Diana's blog and thought it was lovely and then did some searching to see who else had posted it. If you are inspired to try this yourself, here is the template. And here is Diana's version, Rozanne's version and LeLo's version.

*I have no idea how to spell this. I figured out that Klosse is German for dumplings but I can't figure out where the Sleycie part came from or if I'm even spelling it right. It was fantastic and one of my favorite foods at Thanksgiving. Even though you really couldn't move for an hour or so after eating it.

**This isn't in the original template but I felt like adding it. This was very difficult to write because I don't remember a lot about of my childhood. I would love to see what my sister and Mom would come up with. Perhaps I should challenge them and then I could post it for them because Lord knows Kari will never blog on her own.

Happy Birthday to Kari*

Today is my baby sister Kari's 36th birthday. In honor of her birthday, I bring you a post about going to the park with her and Eric and Josh a few weeks ago. Kari is extremely paranoid about my posting pictures of Josh on the Internet so if you could all do me a favor and not kidnap him, I'd appreciate it.

Anyway, we went to the park and it was very fun. Kari's camera is not working so I got to take the pictures and went a bit insane. But, quite honestly, I have the most photogenic family in the world. Here, Eric and Kari bring Josh to the slide.

My family

Josh doesn't look so thrilled about this sliding thing.

Josh is not so sure about this whole sliding thing

Since Josh did not look happy at all, I bring you a picture of Eric instead. The picture does not show him saying "Ow, ow, ow" as he slowly inched his way down. Apparently the slide was quite hot and he sort of stuck to it. You'll notice that his foot is in a cast. He broke his foot somehow. Please do not ask me how because I don't remember and Kari gets mad at me when I keep asking her the same stuff over and over again. She seems to believe that it means I don't listen to her when we all know that's not true. I'm just old and don't remember things.

Eric on the slide

Eric and Josh pause before going down the slide together. Kari will, quite smugly, compliment herself on the gorgeousness of her men folk. And yes, hey, they are attractive but where is the pity for the extremely single older sister? Huh? There is none.

Before the slide

Josh and Eric about to slide

As I said, Kari's camera is broken which is why you don't have a picture of me on the crane thing. But they are much fun and you get to dig around in the sand and it is almost like a power tool but not quite.

A new career for Eric?

This is the small child that was fascinated with me. She came over and started talking to me and we had a fairly decent conversation considering that she is a) a small child and b) was talking to me in Spanish. I did manage to compliment her on her zapatas (I think that's shoes, right?) and thought she was quite adorable. Then her mother came over and gave me the look. You know the look, don't you? The one that says "Hey, freak! Why are you talking to my kid?" I think the small child was getting the lecture about talking to strangers as her mother led her away but I'm not sure because it was in Spanish.

Small girl who was fascinated with me

Josh was a little crabby and Kari tried to entertain him in a couple of different ways.

Playing in the sand,

Josh plays in the sand

Climbing on the tower,

Josh in jail?

and going for a walk.

Josh goes for a walk

It turns out that he was kind of hungry and thirsty. I love this picture and how both Kari and Josh are looking the same way but I'm not sure what they're looking at. While Josh is a lot like Eric, he has many of Kari's mannerisms and characteristics as well (including the stubborness but don't tell her I said that).

Kari and Josh

He went back to playing after a snack and wanted to play on the bridge thing. Perhaps he will become a Star Fleet Captain someday.

Josh on the bridge

Josh has this fascination with balls. He likes to come over and play with Eddy and even knows where the cat toys are hidden. I should rephrase this to he likes to come over and terrorize Eddy. It is fun to listen to Josh run after Eddy yelling "Kitty! Kitty! Ball!" Eddy then goes and hides in my bedroom which is off limits to the small child (because we would lose him in the mess). Anyway, I'm sure he's going to be a jock because Eric is quite the sports freak. I am envisioning many football games in my future (I actually hope he'll go more towards soccer. It's cooler and doesn't interrupt karaoke).

Future jock

The fascination for balls led us into some trouble when we were leaving. Josh spotted a soccer ball across the park and headed off for it. Eric was quickly in pursuit.

The child escapes

Eric gains on Josh.

Running Away

You have to love it when a child that is running away stops in mid-run, realizes that Mom isn't next to him and turns around crying for her. And then continues to run the opposite direction, still crying out for her. While Kari, Eric and I are all saying "Josh, Mommy's right there."


After the child has been captured, it is off to get something to eat because he is hungry and Lord, will he let you know it! We finally decide to get pizza (we would be Kari and I because Eric couldn't make up his mind and Josh was getting extremely cranky and Kari and I said "Fine. We're getting pizza" and ended up going to the first restaurant we saw when we first started discussing the food situation. Could have saved ourselves a good 20-30 minutes).

Josh has a unique eating style all of his own. Apparently he refuses to wear bibs so he gets a bit messy. Here is one of the pictures from our meal (good pizza, by the way. Not that I remember where it was or the name of the place). It amused me that he was eating the marinara sauce with his fork and knife. But completely ignored the lasagna and pizza. No, he's a marinara sauce gourmand, this one.

Why, yes, I'd love some marinara sauce

Anyway, I hope you all had a good day and Kari, that you had a spectacular birthday (we went to Mancini's tonight for steak. Not bad). I love you much, my beautiful little sister and am glad that you are a part of my life and that Eric and Josh are as well!


*Yes, I made the stupid doctor's appointment. Next week at 9:50 AM. Thursday, I think. Are you happy now, people?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mmm, Power Tools

Some women dream of the perfect handbag. Others want that perfect shoe or little black dress. Some lust after Prada. I am not one of these women. I really don't even know what Prada is (I'm thinking it's some sort of clothing?) and, even if I did know, I could care less.

You want to know what does it for me? Really and truly? That makes my heart pound with excitement? Going to stores like The Home Depot or Hardware Hank's or Menards. Well, I have the same reaction to book stores but that's not the point. This is the story about power tools I had promised, including why I'm not allowed to play with them, as decreed by my sister, Kari.

When Kari and I were younger, Dad had the entire garage set up as his workshop. He had exciting toys tools that Kari and I were not allowed to touch unless he was there. I remember that he would use his circle saw and sometimes I was allowed to maneuver it around the blade. He called Kari Sam and I also had a name that was for our "working with power tools" persona but I can't remember what it is.

I think I was about 10 or 11 and Kari was 8 or 9 when Dad called us out to the garage. He said that he was going to teach us a lesson that was imperative that we learn. This was the lesson that smoking was bad.

Dad: Okay, girls. I want you to try something. Do NOT tell your mother.

He lights a cigar and hands it to Kari. Kari turns green. She hands it to me quickly. I puff at it.

Dad: Okay. That's pretty gross, isn't it? You don't want to smoke cigars. Let's try this.

He lights up a cigarette (Benson & Hedges Deluxe Ultra Light 100, non-menthol). He hands it to Kari. Kari nearly vomits. She hands it to me. I puff on it casually. Dad then takes the cigarette back.

Dad: I hope you've learned your lesson. Smoking is bad. Are you going to smoke, Kari?
Kari: No, Dad. Never. Please don't make me try anymore of that. Yuck, spit, blech.
Dad: Dana, are you going to smoke?
DM: I didn't care for the cigarette. But can I try the cigar again? That was pretty good.

Poor Dad. His heart was in the right place but his lesson failed miserably. I could read the expression on his face when I asked about the cigar. And the expression was "Oh, crap. What have I done?" It is also odd to realize that, except for the fact that I smoke menthol, I am smoking the same brand of cigarettes that my father used to smoke.

I cannot watch an episode of "The New Yankee Workshop" without thinking of my father. Or thinking that Norm guy makes it all look really easy.

Anyway, many years later, I am helping Kari clean up the house and yard where we grew up because she is buying it. Now, I love my sister dearly. But this cleaning thing, not so much my favorite thing in the world. And Kari knows it. So she bribes me. If I will help her, she will let me use the chain saw.


Ooh! The chain saw! Yes!

So there's a tree in the front yard that was planted way too close to the house and has given us problems for years. I remember a time when my brothers were helping us move into the house (?) or move a piano in or something and there's a picture of one of them sawing on a branch. I think they were all in their 20's or 30's at this time so I was probably about anywhere from 8-10 (Bruce is 10 years older than me, Denny is 17 years older. Not sure how much older either Ric or Denny are). Anyway, Kari gives me permission to remove a branch from the tree.

I am required to wear the safety goggles even though I protest that they are for wimps. I start up the chain saw (it's electric! And why do I get the stupid Electric Boogie song stuck in my head every time I say that?) and begin sawing my way through the branch. About halfway through the damn thing, it gets stuck. Dammit! The chain has come off of the chain saw and it is tangled in the branch. This stops the chain saw engine.

I reach for the blade, planning on twisting it back into place. Kari screams my name at the top of her lungs and slaps my hand away. "What?" I ask her. "What are you thinking?" she yells. "You have to unplug it first!"

Oh. Yeah, I guess that would help, huh?

Kari unplugs the chain saw, fixes the blade and, when I reached for it to start slicing away at the tree (actually, now that I'm writing this, I feel terribly guilty about hurting these poor trees in this way. I may need to go back to Kari's and hug them), informs me that I, under no circumstances, will be allowed to use the chain saw again. Ever. I try to tell her that she is overreacting but she does not fall for that.


She did allow me to play with the Leaf Hog after that. Probably thinking what damage could I do to myself? None. What damage could I do to the Leaf Hog? Lots. Oh, and just a note, Black & Decker's website has a little moving thing of different power tools. They are pretty. The Leaf Hog has two functions - it can suck and blow (no, I'm serious, people. That was not meant to sound dirty at all!). It can suck the leaves up into this powerful mulcher thing and destroy the leaves (it is fun to pretend that the leaves have disobeyed you and do not recognize your power and then the Leaf Hog will eat them! Eat them! Mwahahahahahaha!) or you can blow the leaves into a pile to run the lawn mower over them. Which is also fun. Die, leaves, die!

Anyway, you might think that Kari took the Leaf Hog away from me because I was running around the yard, threatening poor helpless leaves. But you would be wrong. No, she got mad at me when, after she warned me about the importance of not sucking up rocks into the mulcher and how I had to go through the leaf piles slowly and remove any rocks or twigs, I sucked up a huge rock and chipped the mulcher blade. No more Leaf Hog for me.


When I was younger, my Grandmother had a riding lawn mower. I was not allowed to use it. I was, however, allowed to sit on it and pretend I was driving it. That was fun. I vaguely remember going to see my Uncle Blackie and Aunt Marge when I was about 6 or 7 and being more interested in their riding lawn mower than, well, anything else.

Riding lawn mowers are cool. There is the whole lawn mowing part (which I love and miss from my childhood) and then there is the whole driving thing (is it wrong that I really want a Hover Round even though I have no need for one?) without needing a license!

Anyway, Kari allowed me to use the riding lawn mower and I was in heaven. She told me quite specifically that I was only able to use the lawn mower in the back yard. I agreed with this. No, Kari, I certainly won't go into the front yard.

You know what happens next, right? Yeah. I finished the back yard and was bored so I headed up into the front yard. I hear Kari yelling at me over the roar of the mower. "Dana! Dana Marie Vittum! Stop it right now!"

I ignore her. I keep heading around the front yard, pretending I can't hear her. She knows perfectly well that I can. She finally gets me to stop and begins the lecture.

Kari: Did I not tell you that you couldn't use the riding mower in the front yard? Didn't I?
DM: Did you? I don't remember.
Kari: You do too! Why didn't you stop when I called your name?
DM: Oh, I didn't hear you.
Kari: Liar! I saw your face!
DM: What about it?
Kari: You were laughing! Exactly like Eric was when he pulled the same stunt!
DM: Oh.
Kari: That's it. You're banned from the riding lawn mower. Neither you or Eric get to use it anymore.

Poor Kari. You just know that Josh is going to do stuff like this. He has both Eric and my genes. Well, maybe he'll get her practical nature. Maybe.

Trip to Tomah to talk to Texan! - Tale Two

Tale One is here.

This is mainly some more of the random and bizarre things Beth and I came across on our way to and from Tomah to meet Mark. Since this trip, Beth and I have both discovered that we are ill (she has the cold from hell, I seem to want to pass out every time I move) so this may have something to do with the oddness.

DM: Okay, I thought that said fart for sale.
B: What did it say?
DM: Farm for sale. I was thinking "Who the fuck would buy a fart?"

As we drove past a field, I had noticed the patterns caused by the farm thingies when they harvest the corn or whatever they do. "I want a crop circle," I said. Beth, for no reason, thought that I might be insane.

DM: Why is it, when we drove by those houses, I wanted to say "Beauty, eh?"
B: Because you've turned Canadian?

The billboard for the Norske Nook was odd enough but this one is Odden! Odden's Norske Huskflid. What the heck is a huskflid?

A convertible had driven by us and I was a little upset over the fact that their Pet Taxi had been turned so it was lying at an angle, almost upside down. I can't remember exactly what I had said but Beth and I had a conversation about the fact that it's not actually a small taxi for pets but the brand name of a pet carrier. Then, out of nowhere, she said the following:

B: You do know that the stems of cherries are wood, right?
DM: Yeah.
B: And yet, you still eat them.
DM: Well, yeah, because they have the maraschino flavor.
B: So they're pickled wood. They're still wood.
DM: What made you think of this?
B: The Pet Taxi. Weird things you've said and done.
DM: Okay.
B: You eat the wood.
DM: I like trees.
B: You eat them! You hug them and you eat them! Stop loving your food!

I'd like to say that our conversation became very mature and not at all silly but you all know I'd be lying. Mainly we talked about how I eat wood, how Beth told her father about this:

DM: I can't believe you told your Dad I ate the wood!
B: Well, I didn't put it that way. I just said you ate cherry stems and he thought that was kind of weird.

I also thought I should bring up this to defend my wood eating ways:

DM: I used to eat cardboard.
B: Oh, yeah. That's normal.
DM: And paper.
B: What?
DM: Paper is very nutritious.
B: No, it's not! It's paper!
DM: Yes, yes, it is. There are lots of vitamins in it. There's vitamin P.
B: Vitamin Paper? You're weird.

I asked Bobby if he thought it was weird that I ate the cherry stems at karaoke on Sunday. He said yes. Apparently, I am weird. Who knew?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Trip to Tomah to talk to Texan!*

This is the trip about Tomah to meet Mark. It is not about power tools. It is about an adventure that Beth and I had last weekend. I'm sure you could figure this out from the title but I wanted to make sure there was no confusion. Mark, I hope you appreciate the title. I had to rack my alliteration brain to come up with all T's. Thank God you're from Texas because Mark was just not working!

When I first started blogging a year ago, if you had told me that I was going to actually travel across the world to Portugal to officially meet someone I had “met” through blogging, I probably would have scoffed. If you also mentioned that I would then go to the exotic location of Tomah, Wisconsin to meet another fellow blogger, well, I would certainly told you that you were insane.

Yet Beth and I have visited not only
Johnny in Portugal but Mark in Wisconsin (note – Mark actually lives in Texas but he was visiting his son and, since Wisconsin is not that far from Minnesota (the border is maybe 20 minutes from where I live), we decided to make the road trip). Beth and I are avid scrapbookers and bloggers and will do stuff like this for material.

Johnny, you will be pleased to know that we did not take as many pictures in Tomah as we did in Portugal. Of course, we were only in Tomah for about three hours as opposed to 10 days in Portugal. Plus, I did not remember to bring my camera along which is just silly. Beth remembered hers, thankfully.

I'll be fleshing out the post as time goes by (it would help if I had brought my camera with so I could use the pictures to refresh my memory) but here are some things we came up with on the way (thank God for my handy notebook).

If Beth's mom (or anyone, I suppose) called while we were on our way to Tomah, we were going to say the following "Well, we were in the mood for Chinese food. And everyone knows the best Chinese food is in Tomah."

Beth has a habit of picking up mannerisms and phrases from people (it was extremely funny watching how both she and Johnny would start talking like each other and gesturing the same). Apparently she can do it before she's actually met someone as well. Since, while we were pulling into a parking lot, she got kind of irritated at this guy who cut her off when she didn't have a stop sign. "People!" she yelled at the cars. "Y'all suck!" I can only assume that the y'all was because we were going to meet Mark (who did not fit one single stereotype of a Texan that I was expecting. He was not wearing a cowboy hat, he did not have a gun, he did not refer to George W. Bush as the next best thing since Jesus and he was not a chainsaw carrying human skin wearing massacre causer).

One of the things I love about trips I've taken through Wisconsin on 94E is that in Wisconsin, there are not a lot of billboards on the side of the freeway. Not like it is in the Twin Cities, where there are as many billboards as there are cars, or so it seems. Anyway, there were a few odd billboards that we did see. One of them was this - Norske Nook. I'm not sure why it was so amusing but both Beth and I cracked up when we saw it.

Apparently Tomah is big in the cranberry game. We saw 4 seperate billboards about cranberries on the way to Tomah. There was the Cranberry Discovery Center (as Mark said, this is where you can go to get in touch with your inner cranberry), the upcoming Cranberry Festival, the billboard that told us we were entering Cranberry Country and also the billboard that proclaimed that "Tomah - The Gateway to Cranberry Country." As I said to Beth after the first billboard, "I have discovered cranberries. They're called Craisins (oh, my God, I love those things. The best fruit ever!)."

Meeting Mark was wonderful and we also got to meet his son J and his son's friend A (since Mark doesn't post their full names on his blog, I won't as well). It was great sitting and talking with the three of them and it was with surprise that we realized that the time had come for Mark to go to catch his bus. Mark is as funny as he is on his blog, bright and charming. What was really cool about this was when he met us, he gave both Beth and I copies of his book. We have met two people from the world of blogging. They have both given us books. You realize this is setting a precedent for future meetings. But it makes sense, blogging to me are books I can't lug around in my purse.

After leaving the Humbird Cheese Shop (which is famous, according to its billboard. Mark, we did not see the sex olives. We were looking), Beth notices a Country Kitchen restaurant across the street. There are no longer any Country Kitchens in the twin city area, which is very sad. Beth declares "If we ever get a hankering for cheese, cranberries and Country Kitchens, we know where to go!"

Billboard on the way home - "You are now entering Wisconsin's Indianhead Country." I'm not sure why I found this so might have been the fact that I felt like I was going to pass out.

Beth and I stopped at a scenic overlook/rest area. We were going to go to the scenic overlook part but realized that involved walking up a hill. At this time, I was pretty sure I had heatstroke and felt like I was going to faint if I moved another step. We decided not to take the path. On our way back to the parking lot, we saw a couple approaching us. Beth whispers to me "Let's fake them out. Make them think we went to the scenic overlook." We then started a conversation about how glad we went to the top and how it was worth it. Why? No clue.

The building that had the sign "Good (RV) Times." WTF?

Another sign that prompted Beth to say "Hunt pheasants. Not pedestrians." A few minutes later - "Do you think there are pedestrian pheasants?"

After taking pictures of the orange moose (mooses? meeses?) statues, Beth and I have this conversation. "I like orange just as much as the next person but I don't think I want my moose to be orange," I say as we drive past the Arrowhead Motel (with 3 giant arrowheads sticking up at the doors. I so need to find a picture of it). Beth replies "It makes no sense." As we are headed out of the parking lot, I see the sign. "Oh, yeah it does. It's the orange moose bar and grill..." At the same time, we both say "That still doesn't make any sense."

There will be more to come but I am very tired and must go to bed. I do not think I will be going to work again tomorrow. I'm no longer nauseated but it is very odd to stand up and feel like you will pass out. Or sit down and feel like you will pass out. Or move your head and feel...well, you get the point. What is wrong with me? I know it's not heat stroke. Is my back out of alignment? I've had this sort of feeling before when I was younger. My chiropracter referred to it as cervico cranial syndrome and pretty much it meant my brain stem was being pinched by something and it caused me to forget things and actually miss the bus one day because I fainted. Long story. I'll tell it later. Ooh, that article mentioned tinnitus and I did have a ringing in my ears the other day! Ah ha! I'm not insane! Well, much.

*Part One. I couldn't put it in the title because it defeats the whole purpose to the alliteration.

Thank you, God, for the really confusing dreams

I am formulating the posts about Tomah and power tools. I just have to ponder this situation.

Why, why, why am I dreaming about Quagna? Could anyone answer that question?

I have had about 5 various dreams about him since the evening where our eyes locked across a crowded room. Each single dream involves us either a) exchanging extremely great kisses (and more but that's all you're getting), b) declaring our love for each other or c) getting married (only one of those, the Lord be praised, but that's the one I had last night).

Now I know that I am horribly, terribly, desperately single but I would certainly hope that if I was going to dream about marrying someone, it would not be a man who hit his friend over the head with a beer bottle! I would hope that it might be someone I might actually have a chance of seeing again who isn't a psychopath.

If any of you might have any thoughts about this, I'd appreciate it. If you might happen to know a man who would be worthy of my kissing in my dreams, that would also be great. I'm not that fussy when it comes to a potential mate - They have to have a good sense of humor (and appreciate sarcasm), either sing or like karaoke, be intelligent, accept that I am the Queen of the Universe and not go around beating up people in parking lots. Is that too much to ask for?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Blogging Called On Account of Illness

I am working on two posts - the promised Power Tool one and also about how Beth and I took a journey this weekend to the exotic location of Tomah, Wisconsin to meet Mark.

However, something is slightly wrong with me right now. Yesterday I thought it was heat exhaustion/stroke due to the amount of time I spent in the sun yesterday (although thank God the car has air conditioning) since I have many of the symptoms - nausea, dizziness, confusion and the feeling that I'm going to pass out every time I stand up. Typically, though, this doesn't last for 24 hours. So something else is wrong. Inner ear inbalance, maybe?

After spending about a half hour in the hallway today due to a bad thunderstorm (apparently this is safer than being near windows (and I got to discover another phobia, I'm slightly claustrophic)), I told my boss that I was not going to make it through the rest of the day and went home. I ended up having to take a taxi because the next bus wouldn't be there for about a half hour. Luckily, I got to have the insane taxi driver who babbled to me about his "woman" who was 20 years younger than him and his grandmother who gave him a 5 dollar bill that morning even though I'm pretty sure he had told me that she was dead about two minutes before that.

My life is filled with excitement. I know you are all jealous to know that right now iTunes is playing the theme song to Star Trek. And with that, I am going to go to bed and hope to God that I am normal in the morning. Or as normal as I can be.

Oh, if your thoughts could all be with Keem right now, I would appreciate it. Her grandmother passed away this weekend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Five Things I Miss From My Childhood

I was tagged by Mark (number 4 on the following list) to complete this meme. So here goes.

But first...the Rules.

Remove the blog #1 from the following list and bump everyone up one place; add your blog's name in the number five spot. You need to link to each of the blogs for much cross pollination of the other blogs.

1. Soliloquy
2. Lyvvie's Limelight
3. The Cerebral Outpost
4. Meandering Musings Muster Madness
5. Green Duckies and Other Tales of Dana

Next, select four new friends to add to the pollen count. (Not obligated to partake):

1. Beth
2. Robert~Marlene
3. DeAnn
4. Matt

In no particular order, here are the top 5 things I miss from my childhood.

1. The back yard. We lived on an acre of land and most of it was in the back. My mom had a huge garden where she grew flowers and vegetables (including the dreaded tomato). There were a lot of trees, including two crab apple trees that I adored. A lot of my best memories are from that yard, playing with the neighbor kids and my sister, Kari. We would put on plays (I vaguely remember writing a long, drawn out play about how the planets were actually the Greek Gods and Goddesses that they were named after), build forts, climb trees (I got stuck once in one of the crab apple trees and my Dad had to talk me down), play with the animals (we always had dogs and cats. My Mom is a dog person while both Kari and I are cat people), practice the clarinet (me), read (me), tease their sibling unmercifully (Kari. Her nickname was Bug because she was such a pest) and mow the lawn.

I loved mowing the lawn. Mom would, when I was older, pay me 5 bucks for each half of the yard. It worked out because, while the back yard was so huge, the front yard took hardly any time at all. Plus I got to really put my imagination to work. When mowing the lawn, I could make up entire episodes of The Dukes of Hazard, which usually involved Luke Duke (Tom Wopat) driving the General Lee up our driveway and begging me to be his girlfriend. Or making up entire episodes of Simon and Simon, which usually involved Rick Simon (Gerald McRaney) driving his truck up the driveway and begging me to be his girlfriend. I could also use the lawn as a giant canvas and would cut designs into the grass, hearts, squares, triangles. That was fun, even though it would drive my Dad crazy. I love the smell of fresh cut grass and that is one thing I reget about living in an apartment in downtown Saint Paul. No grass.

2. The library. My mother taught me to read at the age of 4. One of her favorite stories about my childhood is when I went to kindergarten for the first time. About midway through the day, the teacher started calling parents to let them know how their children were doing. When she called my mom, she started telling her about what a great job I was doing playing with the other children and I took my nap without argument, etc. Mom listens to all of this and then asked "How's her reading?"

The teacher was a bit shocked by this. "Dana can't read," she exclaimed.

"Uh, yeah, she can," Mom replied.

"Hold on a moment." The teacher put the phone down and apparently sought me out and handed me a book. After a few minutes, she came back. "You're right! Dana can read!"

"Yes, I knew that. But thanks for reaffirming my beliefs." Okay, Mom probably didn't say that, she's the one that told me sarcasm isn't becoming when we went on the road trip from hell (one of the reasons why I don't have my driver's license).

In 4th grade, I was tested and it was discovered that I was reading at a 12th grade level. Much talk was made about how I should be moved to the 5th grade. Then someone had the idea to test my math skills and discovered I was not mathing at a 4th grade level. Some talk was made about how maybe I should be moved back to the 3rd grade. Eventually the decision was made to leave me where I was and hope for the best. Well, it's quite a few years later and I'm still reading at a 12th grade level (I'm sorry but most non-fiction is boring. Most "literary" novels are boring. If you want to call me a "chick-lit" fan, go for it. I like things that are fun (Although I do really recommend reading Carol Goodman, she is an incredibly wonderful author and made her literary novels extremely interesting. Buy The Seduction of Water. You will not regret it) but I still love to read.

When I was living in Mahtomedi, I would beg my mom to take me to the library constantly. At first she was thrilled about my avid reading but quickly got tired of the amount of time I would spend there. She would pull up to the small library in Willernie and tell me I had exactly 10 minutes to check out books. Now most people who know me now would be completely shocked to see how fast I could move in the library. I would go to a section of books and quickly pull out everything by a particular author. Or I would clean the mythology section out of whatever myths I was interested in at that time (usually Greek or Roman, however both Japanese and Norse mythology is quite fascinating. I just don't remember as much of it).

The main librarians throughout the years got to know me very well. It was common for them to say that they wished they had a nickel for every book I checked out and a dime for every book I reread because they would become rich. Every once in awhile, there would be a new librarian hired and would make comments about the stacks of books I was piling up on the counter.

New Librarian (NL): You do know that these books have to be returned in two weeks.
DM: Yeah.
NL: Well, don't you think this is rather a large amount of books to check out?
DM: No.
NL: You have over 30 books here.
DM: So? I'll be back on Saturday (this was on a Tuesday).
NL: You will not. You can't read over 30 books in four days.
DM: Yes, I can.
NL: There is no way. I don't think you should take all of these books. It's just going to be a waste of our time to check them out and you won't be able to finish them by the time they are due back. I'm going to talk to Mavis (head librarian) about this.
DM: You do that. Bitch (under my breath).
NL: Mavis? Could you come here a second?

Mavis comes over. NL starts complaining about how I'm taking out all of these books and isn't that awful and why am I wasting her time with this and really, shouldn't she get to decide how many books I get to check out?

Mavis: Hi, Dana.
DM: Hi.
Mavis: Your mom in the car?
DM: Yeah. I got the 10 minute rule again.
Mavis: I thought so. This isn't a lot of books for you. You'll be back on Saturday, I'm assuming.
DM: Yeah.
Mavis: Okay, see you then. (Turns to NL) This is Dana. She reads a lot.
NL: But she has over 30 books!
Mavis: I know. This is nothing compared to what she'll check out on Saturday.

On Saturday, when I came back, NL was there. I returned the books and she was a little shocked. She was even more shocked when I piled up a stack of books on one of the tables and settled down for an afternoon of reading.

NL: Are you going to be checking out all of these books (there were maybe 10)?
DM: No. I'm going to read these here. I'll get the books I'm checking out later.
NL: We close at 5 (it was noon).
DM: I know. My mom will pick me up then.
NL: You can't read 10 books in five hours.
DM: Yes. I can.
NL: Mavis? Can you come here a second?

Mavis calls over from the counter that, yes, Dana can read 10 books in five hours and I'll probably finish them before that and maybe she should start putting the books I had returned away.

Six months later, another new librarian started. She started hassling me on the amount of books I was checking out and NL came to my defense. In fact, she started keeping track of the amount of books I would check out and let me know if I had broke my record or not (I think the most I ever checked out was close to 120). She also would help me in my rush to gather books when I was on a deadline by pointing out new authors she thought I would like.

Ah, the library. My mom would use the one in Stillwater (it was glorious, gigantic and one of the best libraries I have ever visited) as a babysitter sometimes. She would drop me off in the morning with a lunch and pick me up after she was finished with work seven hours later. Some of the best days I ever spent in my life.

While I was working on this section, I paid a visit to flea's blog and found this post about her reading habits and why non-readers (people who choose not to read, not people with reading disabilities. There is a difference) who smugly express how proud they are about the fact that they don't read drive her crazy. It's well written and the comments are fun to read as well. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that reading is one of the best things you can do with your time. She's had 72 comments in two days about this one post. Can you say wow? I knew you could. If you haven't checked out her blog recommendis a post I highly recommend. She is a brilliant, brilliant writer and I love her (in a purely platonic, non-stalking way).

3. I am choosing to believe that childhood covers all time from being a baby to when I graduated from high school. So there.

I miss acting and being in the choir. I have mentioned this before, I know, but I want to express that thought again. Since the section about the library was fairly long, I'm not going to go into any detail here except to tell you that I will do a post soon about some of the odd things that happened during some of the plays we would put on at both the high school and at my church. I'll also tell you about the characters that I played and the plays I was in. It will be fun and exciting. Trust me on this.

4. My hair. Up until I was 11, I never got my hair cut - except for the occasional trimming of the bangs by my mother. My hair reached the middle of my back and was very straight and thick and gloriously long. I could put it into a pony tail if I wanted or leave it down. I'm trying to grow it again but it is taking forever. I am trying to be very patient while I'm in the in between stage. I did get it cut on Wednesday (just a trim and thinning out the top and sides) and was told that my sides are only a 1/2 inch away from being the same length as the back. No mullet for me! Now I just have to wait, oh, I'd say about another 4 or 5 years and maybe, just maybe my hair will reach my back again. I did have one woman at my "salon" (okay, I go to Great Clips) suggest I look into extensions. Hmm. Fake hair. I don't think so but thanks!

5. My looks. My memory.

In high school, I weighed about 180. Which is overweight, yes, however, I truly had an hourglass figure. In fact, if I could get back to 180, I would never complain about my body or looks or anything about my physical appearance again. I'm working on it, though. It has become habit for me to start doing thigh squats when I am standing around (about 120 last night while I was with Andy, Beth, Char and Steve (Beth's new team lead) playing pool. I did 60 earlier today when Beth was on the computer. They're easy to do but oh, my God, does that hurt when you are done. I am noticing a difference though. Last night I walked up a flight of stairs at Beth's and was barely out of breath. Normally I'm about ready to pull out the inhaler).

I had a much better memory when I was younger. Those of you who read me frequently will know that I tend to refer to past events as sometime in the 80's or sometime in the 90's or many years ago. My short term memory is crap. My long term memory is crap. Sometimes I feel like Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap and that my brain has been "swiss cheesed."

Okay. The next post to come will be about why I am not allowed to use power tools as decreed by my younger sister, Kari. Talk to you later, people of the Internet!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

If fear of something is a phobia, what do you call a fear of fear itself?

You may remember my writing this post, about my fear of vampires. Well, it’s not just vampires that I’m afraid of. Vampires, are, of course, fictional (or so we’ve been told) and it is irrational for me to be worried about running into them, especially in my freezer. However, I’m definitely not known for rational thought. Besides, describes phobia as “An intense, abnormal, or illogical fear of a specified thing.”

Now, I have searched through and avidly, looking for a list of phobias that will include a fear of vampires and give me the name. Can I find it? Of course not. I was able to find a phobia list that did give me the names of my other, more oh; shall we say normal, fears?

I am afraid of the following things:

Heights. Elevators. Spiral Staircases. Escalators.

On the phobia list, I found a listing for Acrophobia - Fear of heights

And you know what? The stupid phobia list doesn’t give the name for any other of my fears. There’s a stupid fear of flutes (Aulophobia) and fear of books (Bibliophobia) which is, in my opinion, the dumbest phobia in the world because books are our friends but my fears aren’t there. Dumb list. Fine. I can deal with this. Well, we’ll adjust. Part of my charm is my ability to be open to new ideas and/or make up things to fit what I want.

Bogyphobia (fear of bogeys or the bogeyman) for fear of vampires.

Climacophobia (Fear of stairs, climbing or of falling downstairs) for my fear of spiral staircases. And I guess that would work for fear of elevators and escalators as well because I am convinced that I will tumble down the escalator

Okay, anyway, the reason I’m telling you about my phobias is because I was reminded about a time that these phobias almost led me to commit homicide.

Let’s go back in time. Back to the 1980’s where hair was big, rainbow shirts and leg warmers were popular (what were we thinking?) and bands consisted of men with long hair, tight spandex outfits and makeup (well, maybe it was just the hair bands (Poison comes to mind)). If I knew how to make my scanner work, I would scan my high school year book picture for you. My hair, fortunately, was not big but this was mainly because I have always been curling iron challenged and was lucky enough to get my hair to feather. Growing it in volume to staggering heights above my head was an impossibility.

During the 80’s, I was in a lot of plays and the choirs at both my high school and my church. Quite honestly, I loved this. I have always enjoyed acting and singing. Someday I will have to do some posts about some of the mishaps that took place during the plays at the church. Something always managed to go wrong, usually resulting in hilarity.

Yes, yes, I can hear you saying “Dana, what does this have to do with phobia related attempted homicide?” Or maybe you are saying “Oh, that DM, she is rambling again. What a freak.”

So, I let you know that our story takes place on a field trip that the choir director at my church thought would be important for us to take so that we could get some culture. Phil (this may actually be his real name. I can’t remember) informed us that we would be going on a trip to Rochester, MN. This was very exciting to me because my father, well aware of my gullibility, had told me that the first two years of my life had been spent on a farm outside of Rochester in a small town named Danesville (true) and this small town had been named after me because they were so happy to have me living there (not true). By this time, I had figured out that Dad was not telling the truth about the town’s name but it was cool knowing that I was going to be traveling to a part of my past.

On the day of the trip, we all met at the church and quickly boarded the bus. It was about 2 hours to Rochester so we had to leave early. The bus ride passed the only way a bus ride filled with church choir teenagers can possibly pass, we sang annoying songs to drive Phil crazy but in perfect harmony.

During our trip, we were going to pay a visit to the Mayo Clinic and sing for sick children. We were also going to visit the Bell Tower at the Mayo Clinic. Obviously I hadn’t been paying attention when the trip was being discussed because it would have dawned on me that tower typically (or at least according to means “A building or part of a building that is exceptionally high in proportion to its width and length.”

So we go and sing for the sick children and it is very nice. I vaguely remember holding a bunny puppet while we sang “Little Bunny Foo-Foo.” I’m not sure why we chose that song. Maybe there had been a request. We wander around the tunnels under the Mayo Clinic and it is fun. I remember waving at a security camera and hearing a disembodied voice say “Yes, I can see you” and giggling with my friends as we hurried off.

Then the time came for one of the most horrible experiences I had ever had in my life. This was so traumatic that sometimes I get freaked out just remembering what happened.

The group (about 30 students) walks into the lobby of the Bell Tower building. It is here that I learn that we are visiting the actual top floor. The building is 20 stories high. This is not good.

What makes this not good is we are greeted by a tour guide who motions to the wall of elevators and suggests that we board said elevators.

Anyway, I, with a slight note of panic in my voice, ask if I can take the stairs. I was in much better shape at the time and this was before my knees got so bad that I have learned to deal with my fear of elevators rather than walk more than a flight of stairs (plus, I live on the 26th floor. I have to get used to elevators). The tour guide laughed patronizingly. “Oh, no,” she says. “We have to take the elevators up 18 floors.”

I start to hyperventilate a tad. I am freaked out. 18 floors in an elevator? No way! Couldn’t I stay on the bus? But Phil was adamant that I not miss out on this great opportunity to visit the Bell Tower. If I would have known Portuguese at the time, the word I would have been saying other my breath would have been “Sacana!”

I get on the elevator. I bite my nails. I am shaking as I watch the floor indicator move up slowly. Does anyone remember how riding an elevator would make your stomach drop? One of the reasons I have less problems with elevators now is that feeling doesn’t happen anymore but back then, I almost threw up from the feeling.

Finally, finally, the doors open. I walk out, praising Jesus. And then I see it. The torture that they expect me to deal with now.

The top floor of the Bell Tower cannot be reached by elevator. It can not be reached by normal stairs. It can only be reached by a very narrow, ancient spiral staircase. I start backing away, headed towards the relative safety of the elevators. At this point, some of my fellow choir members have begun to notice that I am acting a little less exuberant than usual.

My heroes, JB and Wynne, ask me what the problem is and I calmly explain my fear of heights, spiral staircases and elevators. Okay, so it wasn't so calm. It was more like this. "He (pointing wildly at Phil) made me take elevator. Elevator! Scary. Heights bad. No stairs. NO. Hate spiral staircases! NO."

They confer briefly and then tell me that they have a solution to my problem. Wynne will walk in front of me and JB will follow behind. If I fall, I can grab onto Wynne and take him and JB down with me. This makes me giggle at the thought and helps prepare me for the next step.

The next few minutes are a blur but finally, finally we get to the top. I am relieved to finally make it to my destination. After the elevators and the spiral staircase, nothing else could happen, right? Nothing traumatic or horrifying. I am optimistic for all of five seconds. Then I walked down the hallway, following my other choir members and reached the Bell room. I should be fascinated by the various bells making up the carillon but I am not. No, instead, I am transfixed by the sight before me.

That would be the large, floor-to-ceiling, window. The window that is probably also a good 10 feet wide. The window that has no glass or protective barrier or steel-plated covering over it. The window that, if I would happen to trip, I could fall through and land on the ground, smashed to bits. I stand there. I am literally frozen in fear, unable to move because I am convinced that my next step will be my last.

As I stand there, staring down, feeling the blood drain from my head and puddle in my feet, I hear the sneering voice of my teenage nemesis (I seem to attract the occasional nemesis. Obviously practice for being the Queen of the Universe), Mr. "I am so pretentious that I spell my name with an h like a popular shoe store (well, in the 80's. Not sure if they are still around) and if you pronounce it wrong I will sneer at you because obviously the H is silent and I am very attractive and the girls love me so it just stands to reason that I be a total dick." I am having a difficult time finding a fake name for him so we will just call him Dhom which starts with D that rhymes with T that stands for Total Dick.

Anyway, so let’s recap. I am staring out at the cruel ground, possibly suffering from vertigo, about ready to go stark, raving insane from this horrible, traumatic, deplorable experience when I hear the voice of the insensitive Dhom.

“Nice view, Dana?”

Now you may not think that this is all that awful of a thing to say to me because hey, maybe he wasn’t aware of my fear. Maybe he was wondering why I was so transfixed by the view. Maybe he wasn’t a total dick.

Yeah, well, you’d be wrong if you thought that. He had been there when JB and Wynne came to my rescue. He was completely aware of the situation. He stood there, with his evil, perfectly white and straight teeth smirking at me.

I am not quite sure what came over me but something in my brain snapped. I started walking very slowly towards him, a look of determination on my face. Fortunately, JB and Wynne were nearby and realized what was running through my mind (“Must. Kill. Boy. Must. Push. Out. Window. Die. Total. Dick. Die”). JB grabbed me and held me back, Wynne turned to the somewhat shocked looking Dhom (who started backing up the minute I started advancing on him) and told him to shut up and leave me alone. Then both JB and Wynne slowly walked me past the open window (C’mon. We’re 20 floors up. Why the hell is the window wide open) and into the area where the carillon was located, telling me the entire time that it would be okay.

After the tour was over, I was escorted back past the window, down the staircase and into the elevator without incident, just mild panic on my part. I felt extremely grateful to both JB and Wynne for getting me through that day. I am not sure that I will ever quite forgive Dhom for his comment (Well, it has been over 20 years. I suppose I can. Even though he was a total dick).

I still hate elevators but have managed to get more used to them over the years since there are more and more safety features taking place. One of the reasons that my purse is so big (briefcase size) is due to my viewpoint is that if I do get stuck in an elevator, I will calmly sit down and read my book (my purse should be able to hold at least one hardcover book) and refrain from panic. And, of course, the one time I did get stuck in an elevator, I was sans purse and got trapped between the 3rd and 4th floors of my building, resulting in panic and tears for the 15 minutes it took the maintenance staff to get me out of there.

I have not run into a spiral staircase in years, the last time was when I was living with my former friend Jake and his town home had a loft with a spiral staircase leading to the loft. His daughter left a Barbie doll on the stairs and I stepped on it, falling down the stairs. I was not horribly injured but it strengthened my resolve to stay away from them. Also, with same former friend, I watched a horrifyingly scary, suspenseful movie called “The Spiral Staircase.” No blood, no chainsaws, just a psychotic running around killing women with disabilities. It was brilliant and terrifying and filmed in black and white. I would recommend seeing it. And avoiding spiral staircases.

Right now, I would have to say that my biggest fear is still escalators. Fortunately I don’t have to deal with them that often. I always thought it was because my sister once got the heel of her shoe caught in an escalator and almost wasn’t able to pry it loose. There was also a horrible Simpsons episode where the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon showed Scratchy nailing Itchy’s paws to the escalator and then the escalator had these sharp blades and it was very traumatizing because the escalator ate Itchy. And I also discovered that my mother is terrified by escalators so I have obviously inherited this behavior from her.

As for heights, that fear came from the summer I fell off a cliff at William O’Brien state park and dangled by my fingertips until someone came to rescue me. That was the summer where my mother thought it would be safer to enroll Kari and I in summer school instead of letting us stay home by ourselves. Yeah. Safer. I fall off a cliff; I get sunstroke – that seems really safe to me.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I apologize it took so damn long to write. How about you? Any phobias you want to share, people of the Internet?

What is coming next: I was tagged by Mark to write about the five things I miss the most about my childhood. I also am planning on explaining just why I have been forbidden to play with use power tools in a responsible manner. Please let me know which one you want to read first. I am eager to please and I promise I will never attempt to throw any of you out of a window.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The ABC Meme

While surfing the Internet looking for a stupid list about stupid phobias and not being able to find anything about the stupid things and it is making me very ANGRY (Ha! You thought I was going to write it is making me very stupid, didn’t you?), I found an ABC meme.

Act your age? No. I’m 38 and I routinely act anywhere from 5 to 105, depending on my mood. But never 38. I’m not sure what 38-year-old people act like.

Born on what day of the week? Friday. Friday's child is loving and giving.

Chore you hate? Cleaning.

Dad’s name? Robert Earle

Essential makeup item? I don’t really have one. I don’t wear makeup most of the time. However, I am fond of my Pussy Pucker Pot lip-gloss, Apricot Areola that I got from flea’s shop. It smells and tastes wonderful and has the added benefit of being a great conversation starter.

Favorite actor? Stanley Tucci. I love him.

Gold or silver? Neither. I prefer stainless steel because I have less chance of an allergic reaction.

Hometown? Mahtomedi, MN

Instruments you play? Play might be a stretch because it has been years but the clarinet and the piano.

Job title? Customer service representative.

Kids? No, thanks. I’ll pass.

Living arrangements? 26th floor of a 32nd floor building in Saint Paul, MN with my two roommates.

Mom’s name? Carol Ann.

Need? Water, something to read, good friends, music.

Overnight hospital stays? When I was born and once when they thought I might have appendicitis.

Phobias? Funny you should ask, still trying to write the stupid post about phobias. You’ll find out when it’s finished.

Quote you like? “Reach for the stars. You won’t catch them, but you won’t end up with a handful of mud either.” – Leo Burnett

Religious affiliation? I’m a born-again Christian. I am, however, not a person that believes that only my religion is the right one and everyone should believe what I believe. Besides, I also believe in reincarnation and don’t go to church.

Siblings? 4 half-brothers (Ric, Scott, Bruce and Denny), three half-sisters (Barb, Nan, Suz) and my “full” sister, Kari. (Kari and I have the same mother and father; my dad was married before and had 7 children with his previous wife)

Time you wake up? 6:30 AM.

Unique talent? My ability to be charmingly askew. Or, in Johnny's words, refreshingly and delightfully mad. Life is meant to be an adventure. Or a freak show. Whatever.

Worst habit? Biting my nails.

X-rays you’ve had? There have been a few. The worst one was when they were trying to determine if I had some odd disease that caused my throat to stiffen and that’s why I am capable of choking on my own saliva.

Yummy food you make? Last night I made pizza with a white sauce of my own creation. It was pretty good. I’m also good at lasagna.

Zodiac Sign? Pisces. Also, by Chinese Zodiac, I'm a Ram or Sheep.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Just call me Mata Hari*

Have I turned into a gorgeous Femme Fatale without realizing it? I’m just curious. You all remember the story about Quagna that took place a week ago last Sunday. If you don’t remember, you can find it at the post titled At Last.

Last week, on Thursday, Beth got off of work early and we made a trip to the Chalet. We had a good time playing darts, even though there was an odd woman named Nerak (if you have ever seen “The Watcher In The Woods,” you will get this reference. If you have not seen it, you should. It is an excellent movie, very scary in a supernatural, not gory, way) who glommed onto us for most of the evening. She seemed nice enough but way too needy and touchy-feely. While I don’t mind being touched, I have a problem when a complete stranger starts touching my arm, back or shoulder. It is a form of intimacy that I don’t want to reach with someone right away, especially when they also have no concept of “This is my space. This is your space.”

She also invited herself to play darts with us which seems somewhat encroaching to me, especially if you don’t know how to play the game we are playing (cricket). Even with Beth pointing to the lit dart board and telling her several times that she wants to shoot for the numbers that are lit up, Narek didn’t get it. And, I’m sorry, but it is just rude to walk up to someone and touch their shoulder, saying “I’m just doing so terrible” when they are right in the process of releasing that pointy stick thing at the big thing with the numbers and the circles. We had asked Bryan to play darts with us and she did this to him, causing him to miss the bullseye by, oh, about a mile (well, maybe closer to a foot. He ended up hitting the wall).

Anyway, I decided I wanted to be put into the rotation because, let’s face it, I am an attention whore (continuously declaring myself to be Queen of the Universe might have been a clue about this). I love karaoke because it reminds me of when I was in high school and did a lot of acting and I miss “treading the boards” terribly. Later in the night, after the game of darts was over and Char had arrived to join us, I asked Theresa (bartender) for a glass of water. As she’s pouring the water, a man named Brian walks up to me and we have the following conversation.

Brian: I just wanted to tell you that I think you have a beautiful voice and I’m always glad when I see you’re here because you’ll be outstanding (this may not have been his exact words but he pretty much told me, in both words and voice tone, that I am the most wonderful singing sensation in the entire world. This is really nice of him but not accurate. It’s not that I suck or anything but I’m not going to be competing on American Idol anytime soon (not that they would let me, the ageist bastards)).
DM: Thank you. That’s so sweet. Your name is Brian, right?
Brian: Yes.
DM: I’m Dana.
Brian: I know.
DM: It’s really nice meeting you.
Brian: I like to sing but I only sing Irish songs because I don’t know any pop songs.
DM: Well, those are good.

I go back to tell Beth and Char about this and Beth asks me “Have you ever seen him before tonight?” and I respond with “No. I have no clue.” Throughout the evening, Brian and I were exchanging the occasional smile.

Beth also did a post about the excitement we ran across in her post about last Thursday. You should read it. It talks about Beth’s encounter with a real live crack smoker.

Nothing overly exciting happened to prove my irresistibility to the male species on Sunday, other than the fact that there was a guy there that I thought was Brian and turned out not be him. I, thinking it was Brian, would occasionally glance over at him to find him looking at me. He would smile slightly, I would smile back. However, it was a fun night, as always. About halfway through the night, Bryan asked us if we wanted to stop singing and play darts since it was dead. People would walk into the bar and look around confused, wondering where everyone was. We were all clustered into the dart area where I and my partner, Benny (non-singing regular) managed to kick everyone’s ass and I told Benny several times that I loved him and would bear his children if I was planning on having children. And no, I was not serious and he knew that. It was just fun.

After the game, Char had arrived and I gladly exchanged my position at the dart board with her. I do enjoy playing darts but some people had shown up to sing and this way I could throw my name back into the rotation. Yay! More singing! While I was waiting, I exchanged some pleasantries with Jason, a singing semi-regular, and worked on my next post which will be about how some of my phobias almost drove me to commit homicide when I was in high school. Liz arrived and called me over to her table and I enjoyed talking to her and James about various things, including why I don't drive.

On the way home, Beth, Char and I (do you not just love the fact that our names are alphabetical? Isn't that cool? Or is it just me) were talking about the evening - playing darts, karaoke, Bryan and Liz and the rest of the cool table, Gil (guy I like), etc. Then a car passes by us and we have the following conversation.

Beth (B): That's a cop.
Char (C): He's going a bit fast, isn't he?
DM (D): Is it wrong that I want to lick his earlobe?

There is a dead silence. Both Beth and Char look at me.

B: Oh! You mean Gil.
C: Not the cop.
D: Well, yeah.

And then today, as Keem and I were headed to work, Keem had to run back to the apartment and change her shirt. I had already pressed the button for the elevator and, as I was standing there, the door opened and there was a man standing there. He looks up, sees me and his face lights up with this huge smile. I smile back and say "I'm sorry, we're going to get the next elevator."

I kid you not, his head drops in disappointment and he says "Okay" in this really sad tone. Like this is the most depressing thing he has ever heard of, my not sharing the elevator with him.

Now, I know that I've been doing my exercises at work (using one pound weights to gain a curvy body just like Marilyn Monroe) but it's only been a few days. I know that I haven't made that much progress. My hair needs to be shaped badly and is thwarting me on a daily basis. So what's going on with the menfolk? Have they all gone insane? And why is it that the guy I like isn't even aware that I'm female? Answer that.

*Title because I couldn't think of a good femme fatale name and Mata Hari works because, seriously, I would love to be a spy. I could wear cool disguises and stuff. But then I'd probably get caught because I am not so good at keeping a secret.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

No Sea Turtles Were Harmed In The Making Of This Photo Essay

On my last photo essay, the one about the balloons, Johnny left a comment about her concern for the effect on the environment, especially regarding the sea turtles. I thought that I would try distracting her from my environment faux pas (and I call myself a tree hugger!) by providing pictures of last Christmas.

Every year, Jeff and Keem decorate the Christmas tree. I do not participate. It's not that I don't enjoy Christmas, it's just that I prefer to be "supreezed" when the tree is fully decorated. It is a lot of fun for me to come out and see what they've done. However, this year, I did decide to stick around and photograph the progress. Especially when Eddy decided that he wanted to help with the decorating.

After the boxes are brought out of the Christmas closet, Eddy is in ecstacy. He loves to climb on, in, over and under boxes.


Eddy is distracted from the boxes when he realizes that Jeff is putting together the Christmas tree without Eddy's direct attention (oh, the horror!).


"No, no, you put the branch like this. Oh, here. Let me show you. Silly human."


Eddy checks to make sure that Jeff has installed the branches per his detailed instructions.


"You need to install the lights now, Jeff. Here, let me help you with that. Aren't you glad that you have my assistance?"


"Hmm. These lights seem to be all tangled now. Let's see what I can do about this...dang lights! They are alive! They are thwarting me! Take that, you piece of Mrrrrowww (really bad word in cat language)!"

The things we encourage our pets to do to amuse ourselves

Oddly enough, the next morning I came walking out into the living room and found this ornament lying on the ground. I wonder how this could have happened.


"I am innocent. Innocent, I say. I cannot believe you would accuse I, a valuable member of this family, of toying with the ornaments. I am shocked AND appalled at such disrespect. Good day to you, madam! I said good day!"


However, the temptation of the ornaments is too much to resist and soon Eddy is caught red-pawed.


"Don't be silly. I just felt that the icicle didn't belong here. I think it will be much better in another place. I am innocent...okay. You want to know the truth? I have a problem. I have an ornament addiction. But it's not my fault. It's society. It's the man that's causing this. That Santa Claus man with his reindeer and elves waiting on him all the time. Where are my reindeers and elves? No wonder I play with ornaments. I want a lawyer."


After a long day in court, Eddy takes a nap with his lawyer, Keem. She has managed to plea-bargain the charges to "Reckless Endangerment of Ornaments" instead of "Premeditated Ornamenticide." Eddy has been sentenced to parole for a year and must attend Ornaments Anonymous. Your prayers for his recovery from this awful addiction would be most welcome.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Getting To Know You

Meme Number 3

An old work friend of mine sent this to me a few months ago (I don’t check that email account very often) and I thought I would fill this out for my blog. I have not seen this one before so it’s nice that it’s a little different from this one I filled out last year.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:30 (and this is after going to karaoke last night and getting home at 3:00.

2. Diamonds or pearls? Normally I would say neither but last night I saw an irregular pearl and thought it was beautiful. It was a gift to Char from her mother on her 18th birthday.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe and Sahara (I loved them both, I have to plug them).

4. What is your favorite TV show? CSI: The original. I’m trying to love CSI: New York but I can’t fall for Gary Sinise’s character, which is sad because I adore him as an actor. I am also trying to watch CSI: Miami because Beth reminded me over the weekend just how hot David Caruso is when we watched Proof of Life.

5. What did you have for breakfast? Sausage & Cheese Croissant and hash browns from Burger King. Before you judge, lunch consisted of trail mix.

6. What is your middle name? Marie

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Probably Chinese. I am a sucker for really good Chicken Chow Mein

8. What foods do you dislike? Tomatoes (they are evil), fresh mushrooms (love canned) and fried fish eggs (sorry, Johnny but I do).

9. What is your favorite chip flavor? Okay, it’s weird but I found it once and I loved it. It’s Roasted Chicken Ripple chips. Yum.

10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Mechanical Bride by Medium

11. What type of car do you drive? Hmm. Well, this hasn’t changed since last year. I don’t drive. But if I did, it would be an El Camino.

13. What characteristic do you despise? I’m not overly fond of arrogance. I think it’s great to be self-assured but if you’re acting superior, you’re just waiting to be dropkicked from the podium you placed yourself on.

14. Favorite item(s) of clothing. Tank tops and capris. I look horrible wearing the tank tops because my arms are huge and then there are all the skin tags but since I am always warm, they really help in the summer.

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Back to Portugal and then to the United Kingdom. And my vacation would be for at least a year.

16. What color is your bathroom? White? I think. I don’t really pay attention to it. When I have my own bathroom it will be decorated in rubber duckies and green duckies (frogs).

17. Favorite brand of clothing? Well, I don’t buy by brands, I buy for comfort. I guess I would say Capistrano. Maker of my many tank tops and capris and they are quite comfortable.

18. Where would you retire? Somewhere where the temperature is always between 50-70 degrees. There would be no humidity. If it rained, it would be a warm rain. There would be no snow. Ever. Stupid snow.

19. Favorite time of day? Oh, I would say it was 6:30 AM when I’m rising from my bed after a restful night sleep. Please. Are you insane? I don’t have a favorite time of day. Does anyone?

20. What was your most memorable birthday? I’ve been very lucky. My last few birthdays have been very memorable, mainly because of my friends and family. This last one was made extra-special by an impromptu performance of “I Want It That Way” by Bryan and Jay “Tice.” They started out imitating the Back Street Boys and ended up finishing the song in Three Tenor Style. It was hilarious.

21. Where were you born? Saint Paul, MN

22. Favorite sport to watch? Darts – I got to be a dart caddy at karaoke. It is a lot more exciting than you would think. I'm not really a big sports person.

23. What fabric detergent do you use? I don’t know. Keem does the laundry.

26. Coke or Pepsi? Diet Coke with Lime. Although I do like Diet Pepsi with Lime as well. It depends on which one is on sale.

27. Are you a morning person or night person? I am a mid-afternoon person.

28. What is your shoe size? I honestly have no idea. I thought I wore a size 10 shoe but, according to the woman who recently measured my feet, I am supposed to be wearing a size 8. I think she is insane because that is just not comfortable.

29. Do you have any pets? Yes. One cat. Edmund “Eddy” Fitzgerald Orange Vittum.

30. What did you want to be when you were little? An author. Gangster’s Moll. Super Friend.

31. What is something that you would like to do, but have never done? Finish my novel(s).