Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow Din

Okay, I think I've let you behold the sexiness an ample amount of time, and considering the 8 inches of snow and ice on the ground pretty much have us snowed in for the foreseeable future...

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I guess I don't really have an excuse not to blog. Especially since, as my good buddy, Meghan (aka "The Blogless Wonder"), likes to point out, we Grays have, at last count, 6 different platforms from which to impart bloggy goodness to the world, including my iPhone and the new MacBook Pro--both of which are inherently portable.

(Thanks for that, Meghan. Now kindly suck it.)

I'm Avery Gray, bitch. I blog on my time, not yours. That's why my name's in the big, fancy letters. When it's your name up there, we'll talk, mmmkay?

Passive aggressiveness aside, though, I have been feeling guilty for not updating this here blog. Not enough to actually post, but close. Real close.

Instead, I've spent the past several guilt-ridden weeks learning to use Adobe Illustrator for my class in graphic design, and having my arse handed to me by Mike in Scramble (which is Facebook's version of Boggle) when my brain just can't take any more. Admittedly, not the best time to challenge a nationally ranked Scrabble player to a word game, but I like living on the edge.

Having passed my class with flying colors (100%, baby!), and given up on ever beating the master at his own game (it's Scrabble-like, Mike, and you know it!), the only real impediment to blogging has been the mind-numbing noise generated by my housebound half-pint and his feline friend.

(Two stories, 2000 square feet, and the only good place to play "Squish the Cat" is invariably within a 10 foot radius of wherever I happen to be? Go figure.)

Couple that with a nosey husband on a lengthy vacation, and you have the makings of what's known as "The Great Blogging Void". It's inevitable.

For the moment, though, the boy is glued to the tube, my husband is snoring away on the couch, and the cat...well, he could be trapped in a snow cave for all I know, which makes this a good (and, perhaps, only) time to blog.

Now if only I had something to say...

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Behold the Sexiness...

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...that is my new MacBook Pro*.

15 inch display, 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, and not one, but two sexy, sexy nVidia graphics cards.

Whew! I need a moment...


*Or a reasonable facsimile.

Friday, November 7, 2008

At Least She Got the Looks

My sister came up to visit me the day after the election. Such good Bible-thumpin' times! I, in a misguided attempt to corral the vociferous "Obama is a RADICAL MILITANT MUSLIM" rants, tried, gently, to steer her into more neutral topics of conversation that wouldn't get us lynched by the lunch crowd at Olive Garden (the most liberal of all olive-centric eateries). I told her that such rhetoric is better stated a) before the election, and b) to someone who actually gives a crap what she thinks.

Lunch did not go well.

Although she believes my defense of Obama equates to dire peril for my eternal soul, she was persuaded to change the subject to my classes and how I was liking school. (If only she knew my professor is a Jewish lesbian who specializes in "ecoart"!) I told her it was going as well as could be expected, but that I will really be glad when it's done and I can focus on my future.

"Yeah," she said, "I really wanted to take some online courses so I could become a travel agent, but when I brought it up to the family, Austin (her 11-year-old son) told me I couldn't do that. When I asked him why, he said it was because then I wouldn't be there for him when he got home from school. So, I took that as a sign from God that it's not the right time to do something for myself just yet."

I smiled and nodded noncommittally. What else could I do in the face of such crazy? I love my nephew, but even on his best day, he doesn't really strike me as the conduit through which an all-powerful, omniscient deity doles out career advice. Nor do I think God really cares about whether she continues to stay home and coddle her mama's boy or spends a few hours a day bettering herself. He's probably a little busy planning an apocalypse or something.

Sadly, she's not the only nutjob in my family. My other sister believes God advises her on real estate. He told her He wanted her to have a more luxuriously appointed home in a posh neighborhood because she'd earned it with her good deeds.

No, I'm not joking.

I really don't know how I could have turned out so much differently than my brothers and sisters. We were raised to believe in God, and to seek His wisdom in everything, and I do have conversations with Him from time to time. Of course, mine are a little more one sided, and rarely involve payment for services rendered. No, I talk to God the way Mark Wahlberg talks to animals...

"Hey, God. How's it going? So, you're the Lord, huh? What's that about? Hey, thanks for all the cool stuff you do. Alright. Say hi to your mother for me."

Short. Sweet. To the point.

I must be doing it wrong.

Monday, October 27, 2008

... But I Still Got It

I'm old.

How did that happen?

The last time I set foot in a college classroom was ten years ago, and in that time, I've developed an incurable case of oldstudentitis. Everything I thought I knew back then, I actually know now, yet surprisingly, still no one wants to hear it.

So, this is how leprosy feels!

It's not bad actually. So far, my professor's pretty darned impressed with my work, and that's all that really matters, I suppose. It would be nice if I could make friends in my class, but since it's online and only lasts six weeks, it would be pointless to try and reinvent myself four weeks in as a younger, cooler version of Avery Gray. The kind that knows when to shut her piehole and not out herself as a know-it-all teacher's pet.

(Actually, that part hasn't changed since...well, ever. I was a Mathlete, for crying out loud. You think they hand out that honor to back-sassers? I should say not!)

A good portion of our grade is in giving constructive feedback to our classmates, and, frankly, I don't lack for material. I know, art school is not generally considered a Mecca for Mensa members, but for the love of all things holy, the word is "beige", not "bage", and developing 20 design concepts does not mean sketching the same one 20 times and adding more and more glittery stars.

(Honestly, how do these people dress themselves?)

The work has been challenging. We're averaging 6 assignments a week, including a couple of professional quality 2-D presentations. Next week we start work on the first of our 3-D presentations--constructing a countertop point-of-purchase display. For some reason, I'm expecting a huge drop in enrollment between now and then. Just call it a crazy hunch.

Me, though, I've already started gearing up for the project. I've got my sketches done, my favorites picked, and every glittery star to be found in the greater Portland area.

Oh, yeah. I'm ready.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Boob Boy

There are always certain dangers associated with teaching your children to do things like talk or open doors. I learned that painful lesson this morning.

Until recently, we'd been able to keep Ethan out of our bedroom using a doorknob cover. The subtle nuances of the imposing plastic had heretofore proved an impenetrable defense against the pint-sized marauder. He lacked the manual dexterity and hand span necessary to squeeze both sides and twist at the same time.

We thought ourselves safe. What fools we were!

I woke this morning about an hour before Ethan usually does and hopped in the shower, thinking nothing of the dangers lurking just outside. As soon as I turned the water off and pulled back the curtain, I heard it...

"Hi, Mom!"

Now, I'm not a prude, nor am I ashamed of my body. Ethan has seen me without my clothes on a number of times before, just not since he's been able to voice his observations.

E: "Mom, what are those?"

Me: "What are what?"

E: "Those big things on your chest."

Me: "Those are called breasts."

E: "Bretts?"

Me: "Close enough."

E: "Wow, Mom! They're bee-yoo-ti-full!"

Me: "Uh...thanks."

E: "You know what they look like?"

Me: "I'm afraid you're going to tell me."

E: "They look like...

like...

like my backpack!"


Me: "WHAT?!"

E: "My backpack's beautiful, too."

I'm thinking moat.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's Up

The service for my uncle was a beautiful affair, and I'm feeling much more at peace with his sudden passing. I want to thank you all for the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. They have meant so much to me.

It has been a rough couple of weeks, but things are starting to look up. My dad has been approached by the local community college about putting together a curriculum for a DIY class on wind-powered generators. Though he won't get paid much, he will be part of the college staff, which means he'll get health benefits. That's fortunate because he has leukemia (in remission), and his insurance costs $900 a month.

(Kick someone when they're down, why don'tcha.)

School is going well. We had four assignments to complete this week, one of which was to provide a sample of a Photoshopped image--be it hand-drawn or an edited photo. Since I just got a nifty little Wacom graphics tablet for the class, I opted for the hand-drawn option. This could have gone horribly awry, considering that I haven't done much drawing for the past ten years, but I think it turned out alright.

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The professor really liked it, but I haven't had much feedback from the rest of the class, so I'm getting a little nervous about it. This is a class filled with graphic design students of all levels, so to some of them, it could look horribly amateur, but since no one else has submitted their images, I don't have anything to compare it to.

Any graphic designers out there care to tear me a new one? I can take it, I swear!

On to the cute side of the news...

Last night, we attended Ethan's school open house where we had the opportunity to read the reports the students had dictated to the teachers about the most special people in their lives. Here's Ethan's:

"This is my mom. She's special to me because she likes me. She lets me watch TV. I watch SpongeBob with her.

When she was a kid, she was 10 years old.

Her hair is brown, her eyes are green, her lips look like a paint color. Her skin is peach colored.

My mom likes to take me to Kindergarten. She works in a factory, it's a juice factory. She lives in a home. It's at the bottom of Dibb's (Deb's) house. She has a kitty named Arrow. The kitty looks like a little cat to me.

My mom likes to watch TV with my dad, sports games. They like to hold hands, and they like to talk in the car.

The end."

Sweet, ain't it?

Apparently, to my son, I'm a green-eyed, painted harlot who works in a juice factory. Awesome.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Always Darkest...

This week has been a very sad one for me.

On Monday, I learned that my parents, who have owned their own small business for the past twenty some-odd years, will be losing it come December 31st. It was a business that my dad especially put his heart and soul into, and with it goes their livelihood. They're worried, naturally, about finances. About whether or not they'll be able to find jobs in this economy. About starting over in their 60's. I can't say those fears are unfounded.

I haven't always seen eye-to-eye with my parents, but I still love them, and their loss still pains me. I hadn't quite recovered from their news when I got the phone call Tuesday morning that my uncle, who was very dear to me, died unexpectedly of a heart attack while he was visiting his wife in the ICU. My aunt's not expected to make it much longer either.

I've cried more these past few days than I have in several years, until I didn't think there could possibly be any more tears. But then I'd see something, or hear something, or think something, and it would set me off again--the bench my uncle made for me when I was seven that has probably seen better days, but which I've always found a special place for wherever I've lived, or the antique fishing pole he gave me when I got married, making me promise we'd go fishing together the coming spring.

The coming spring, I was pregnant, and we never did go fishing. Of all the regrets I have, somehow that one eats at me the most. Still, I know he wouldn't want me to wallow in sadness. He'd tell me to buck up and get on with life, just as he'd done any number of times in his own. Despite whatever hardships he faced--and there were many--he was always kind, always positive, and always determined. It's what I loved most about him.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my own life lately and what I want to do with it. I'm blessed with the option to choose which direction I take it, but I've squandered perfectly good opportunities in favor of waiting for the "right time" to take advantage of them. When will I ever learn? If anything, this week has reminded me that there is no right time, there is only right now.

Although I'd already planned to go back to school before all of this happened, this cemented the decision for me. Now I'm all signed up to begin my first class in a one year online digital design program at the Art Institute on Monday. It's the first step toward a career in graphic design, which has always interested me.

I'm nervous and excited, but most of all, I'm grateful--for the parents who raised me, and the uncle who inspired me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

How Far We've Come

I've had a book on my nightstand for ages that I've been meaning to read, and just never felt very compelled to do so. It's called "The Wolf and the Dove" by the late Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, and it is often lauded in romantic historical circles as one of those not to be missed novels. One that stands the test of time and tells a compelling story of love against all odds.

Bullshite, I say.

After having picked it up last night and read the first hundred pages or so, I can say with all certainty that the readers in romantic historical circles must be some hardcore masochistic bitches. In the first chapter alone, the heroine's father has been murdered, her mother beaten, her townspeople slaughtered, and she has been raped.

Good times.

After all that, you'd expect the hero to come charging up on a white stallion and avenge the wrongs done to this poor creature, right?

Nope, he just gets on with the rapin'. Yee haw!

I suppose it's romantic that he's the only one allowed to rape her for the time being. Shows his commitment to the relationship and all. Still, there's just something that doesn't sit right with me.

Maybe it's all the rape?

Well, whatever it is, I'm not sure if I care to see how it's all gonna play out in the end. I mean, even if he had a sudden epiphany that raping a woman and slaughtering her people were bad things, how does one redeem himself?

"Sorry about all the raping and slaughtering I did. Here's a box of Whitman's Samplers and a mixtape. I know how much you like Duran Duran."

Good first step, to be sure, but somehow I don't think it quite measures up. And I like Duran Duran, so that's saying something!

This type of bodice ripper style romance was apparently popular in the 70's, when this book was first printed, and has since fallen out of favor. Seems women today tend to like their heroes a little more heroic than sadistic. Strange as that may sound.

But having tortured myself with the first hundred pages (hey, maybe I am masochistic after all!), I got to wondering why I had bought the book in the first place. It's not like I was enticed by the cover, which is just as cheesy as you'd expect. It's not the sort of book I would normally read--if I'm going to read an historical novel, it's usually set in Regency or Victorian England, or medieval Scotland. Not medieval England. That's just plain nuts!

Well, off to Amazon I went, hoping to find the answer to that burning question, and here is what I found:

Out of 121 reader reviews of "The Wolf and the Dove", 101 of them are 4 or 5 stars.

That means that, of the 121 reviewers, 83% thought the novel was "above average" or "excellent".

83%!

Can one of you 83% please reassure me that there's a good twin at the end of this mess? 'Cause, if not, I am dumbfounded. I truly am.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

School Daze

I don't know how y'all do it.

A few weeks ago, before Ethan started school, I had joyous visions of the oodles of free time his school day would afford me. Two and a half glorious hours, every day.

Just think of all the blogging you'll do!

(Of course, in these visions I was also about 40 pounds thinner and immaculately coiffed. But that's really beside the point.)

Then reality had its way with me, and I suddenly realized the fallacy of my dream. I have a five and three-quarter year old. Their asses? Unlightable.

And since he has afternoon kindergarten--and he knows it--the threat of missing the bus if he doesn't eat his breakfast and take his bath has no affect on him. He knows it won't be coming for hours anyhow.

I suppose this is my fault for having such a laid back, lackadaisical approach to a morning routine for all these years I've been home with him. Heck, if we didn't have anywhere to be, I'd just as soon stay in my jammies until noon. I've always hated being rushed so early in the day.

Now, mornings are the only productive time Ethan's new schedule allows, and I've gone and borked it. Retroactively.

This past few weeks have been a test to both of us, but we're gradually getting the flow of the new schedule down. He ate breakfast this morning with relatively little fuss and went to take a shower without having to be asked. The house is a disaster, and the cat still hasn't been fed, but there are groceries to buy, and an oil change to be done, so I'm taking every little victory where I can get it.

This will be my last year at home with him before I re-enter the working world, and as much as I'm looking forward to it, I have a feeling next September will be a little preview of Armageddon in the Gray household.

Should be fun.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Special Place in Hell...

Quick informal poll...

A gregarious five-year-old asks you, quite politely, if you would like to shake his hand. You resond:

A) by saying, "Sure! Put 'er there, pal!"

B) apologetically. "No thanks. I have a phobia."

C) by ignoring him.

D) by exclaiming, "God no! You're covered in germs! You should know better than to ask that," and making the five-year-old cry.

If your response was "A", you're my kind of people.

If you responded with "B", I understand, and I don't harbor any ill will toward you or your hippie parents (except for the usual).

If you answered "C", you are beneath my contempt.

If, however, you responded with "D" and are this guy...

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...you're a store brand value pack douche. On clearance.

(P.S. Next time, don't piss off a mom with a phone and a blog.)


Speaking of hell...

Hubby's on vacation through the weekend. I'll post more when he's not hovering.

Friday, August 29, 2008

This 'n' That

Certain individuals of my acquaintance have, in recent days, attempted to remind me that I have something called a "blog" on which I "blog" about various goings-on in my life. Sounds pretty crazy if you ask me. Surely, if I had something as wondrous and self-congratulating as that, I'd post on it all the time, wouldn't you think?

*sheepish chuckle*

Alright, fine. You got me. I've been a bad blogger, whiling away precious blogging minutes with reckless abandon. Fortunately, I had a feeling that might happen, and I had the forethought to document my activities through the magic of pho-to-graph-y. So, without further ado, I give you...


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Ta da!! (That one's for you, M@.)

Yes, aside from devoting some serious time to taking shots of my cleavage with my iPhone--(two seconds)--these past two weeks have been busy, busy, busy. As summer wanes, and the new school year approaches, we took some time to enjoy the great outdoors...


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...at a monster truck rally at the Clark County Fair in beautiful, scenic Ridgefield, Washington--home of the world famous Gee Creek I-5 rest stop.

(Yes, I am from an impoverished white family. Why do you ask?)

Ethan loves monster trucks, so he looks forward to seeing them every year at the fair. This year, we brought our neighbors' ten-year-old daughter, Emma, along for the fun.


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She hated the trucks, but loved the rides, thought the goats were cute, and Ethan was "weird, but cool".

Sounds about right.

In addition to the fair, we also took Ethan to the Oregon Zoo, where they've just welcomed the first baby elephant they've had in fourteen years. Of course, no one could see him yet, but we did enjoy the animatronic dinosaur exhibit.


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Unfortunately, my son has developed a strange disorder, brought on by close proximity to picture-taking devices, where he lists precariously to left. There is no known cure, but you can send money anyhow.

The biggest portion of my time, however, was taken up by redoing my living room walls--stripping wallpaper, painting, color washing, and striping them with metallic glaze--but I think they turned out bee-yoo-tee-full-ly. What do you think?


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I hope you like it better than my husband did. Not that his opinion matters.

Speaking of the devil...

A couple of weeks ago, I got an awesome GIF program for showing the animated ceiling fan I made for my Sims...


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(Animated, people! I'm a rock star!)

Anywho... The program ended up coming in handy for something else...


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Yep, that's Squidward, rockin' out to Guitar Hero 2 (yes, 2) in his office--I'm sorry, pleasure den.

Like the arm fringe? I made it! And so can you. Here's a list of the things you'll need:

--1 delusional husband

--1 piece of expensive satin you were saving to make a throw pillow out of

--1 pair of scissors

--a ton of deep-seated resentment and shame

Voila! Arm fringe!

Oh, and we got one of these bad boys...


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So, there you have it. You're all caught up on the mystery that is my life, but we'll be taking off tomorrow for my in-laws' beach house. Perhaps I will have more to share when we return.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An Open Letter to Some Guy

Dear Sir,

I appreciate your interest in me. Indeed, I am most flattered by the goo goo eyes and kissy faces you were making at me in the rearview mirror. It is not often that I attract the attention of a man of your unquestionable esteem and virility, as clearly evidenced by your choice of vehicles. A '98 Toyota Camry--with spoiler!--pretty much guarantees I'm a sure thing. And the way the sun glinted off your expired tags? Dreamy!

As special as your juvenile displays of lustful regard made me feel, I would hate to think I was just one among many potential paramours. You don't do this sort of thing all the time, by any chance, do you?

Of course not! What we shared was most assuredly momentous and rare; the basis, I'm sure, of an enduring illicit relationship. But while, in my obvious state of unbridled arousal, I may have appeared to be returning the sentiment by pursing my lips in wanton seduction, in actuality I was attempting to convey a much more pressing message:

"Look out, dumb ass! You're going to hit that car."

Alas, you did not heed my warning. And if there is one thing I cannot abide in my lovers, it is the inability to keep their car in its own lane while making lewd overtures to strange women in the cars behind them. Call me picky.

So, adieu, mi amour. Hope time buffs out the dents in your heart the way the body shop will undoubtedly buff out the dents in your car. And that other one.

Best save your goo goo eyes for the road from now on, eh?

Yours,
Avery

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm Blogging...

From a phone...from the future!!!

(Man, this iPhone is amazing!)

If You Said...

Get your hubby a new iPhone for your anniversary, then, *ding, ding, ding*, you're a winner!

If you said get him his own iPhone, then, *awwwww*, you're not.

And if you said "F%*k his brains out, and photograph it with the new phone!" *cough eye in de sky cough*, well, congratulations! You win a consolation prize for being at least half right. He did seem a bit witless the next morning.

Rowr!


Yes, my hubby decided that he did not want a gift for our anniversary--besides the bow chicka bow wow--and instead began referring to my iPhone as "the family iPhone." And since my son has little patience for objects being used for their intended purposes, and our cat's texting skills are quite laughable, that pretty much narrows "the family" down to Ron and me.

This hasn't posed a problem yet, seeing as how my iPhone is still en route to the store where we purchased it. I was supposed to have it by today at the latest, but I'm not holding my breath for a miracle. Besides, isn't 08-08-08 some sort of mark of the beast or something?

No? Hmmm. Coulda sworn...

Anywho, I'm sure I'll have it soon, and I can avail you of all the cool features and such. Plus, I hear it's great for cleavage shots. I may have to overcome my inherent shyness and try it out. All in the name of research, of course.

In other news, in light of the fact that my husband will likely have to spend a considerable amount of time in Israel very shortly, he has lifted the moratorium he placed ages ago on home decorating in the Gray house (I can go a little nuts; let's just leave it at that) hence why I have not been around much lately.

Not that I don't love you all, but if you don't come with glossy pages depicting elegantly adorned rooms, preferably of the Old World European/Tuscan-inspired variety, you are dead to me.

Well, that's a little harsh. Maybe just in a persistent vegetative state.

Mmm...broccoli. Yummmm! When's lunch?

Until then, I have wallpaper to peel. Whee!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It Must be iLove!

Our anniversary is fast approaching, and this is usually the time of year my husband takes his vacation. In the beginning of our marriage, I believed it was because he was so overcome with love that he couldn't stand to be apart from me on the day we commemorated our blessed union of souls.

Yeah, did I mention I was retarded then?

It quickly became apparent that he chose this time of year so he could kill two birds with one stone: celebrate our anniversary AND fish for steelhead when the fishing is good.

Ah, romance!

Typically, he takes two or three weeks off so he can spend one week with me, and the rest of the time enjoying a nice, relaxing, fish-free time out of doors. But this year, he's only getting a week off, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not going to rate well in the fish vs. wife battle.

If my husband would come out and ask me if I'd be upset if he takes the whole time to fish, I'd tell him I wouldn't be. He works hard all year long to support us, and I don't think it's too much to ask for some time to enjoy doing the things he likes. Of course, since he hasn't asked me, he's assuming that it will really upset me, and is therefore taking this time prior to the commencement of his vacation to butter me up. Not only is he willingly going with me to a wedding he would rather chew his own arm off than attend, he's now using the promise of technology to sooth what he assumes will soon be the savage beast.

He's getting me a new iPhone 3G.

Now, at first I assumed that it was just one of those I'm-giving-it-to-you-but-really-getting-it-for-myself type of presents that he seems so fond of, seeing as how my current cell phone, which I use very little, doesn't even have a camera on it, let alone the whole interweb, while he's always been something of a new technology hound. But the more I think about it, the more I'm really looking forward to having one, if only because I've never had the latest and greatest anything when it comes to matters cellular. By choice, admittedly, but then I've always thought of a phone as just a phone.

And I hate phones. I wish they would die!

But an iPhone? Well, that's different, isn't it? I mean, the "phone" capability is really only a small percentage of the gadget's abilities. It's really more of a small iPod/camera/browser/e-mail/GPS tool with a phone thrown in for good measure, but iiPodCameraBrowserE-mailGPSPhone is a terrible name!

So, yes, I'm excited about a phone. An Apple phone I could blog on, no less. But it does sorta lend itself to the time-honored question...

Just what the hell am I supposed to get him?!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Because Four Fake Guitars Are Not Enough...

We now have six. Six fake plastic guitars for three rockin' games on two different gaming systems.

My husband's in heaven.

First it was Guitar Hero III for the Wii. That proved to be merely an appetizer to the veritable smörgåsbord that is Rock Band for the Xbox 360. (And by smörgåsbord, I mean the addition of a poorly designed drum set and rarely used microphone.)

But, this past weekend, my husband was lured once again by Guitar Hero's siren song. Only, this time, the sirens took the spindly rendered forms of Stephen Tyler and Joe Perry.

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Tramps!

So, we now own Guitar Hero: Aerosmith for the Xbox, which necessitated the purchase of an additional Les Paul guitar controller for our typical epic rock battleage--bringing the count up to a whopping six.

Six fake guitars. Not a single real one.

How awesome are we?

Add to that the money we've recently sunk into transforming his office into a lush den of raucous rockitude, and you'll understand my dismay that my husband appears to have no desire to get past the Medium level on any of the games. Yet he is looking forward with great anticipation for the releases of Guitar Hero: World Tour and Rock Band 2 this fall.

Great. More fake instruments we don't play.

Is this just a guy thing? A mid-life crisis?

Maybe I should just get him a motorcycle and a hooker. They'd probably take up less room.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

First Rule of Fight Club...

The hubby and I put up our pool for the summer a couple of weeks ago, and in that time, I have acquired the unenviable position of "Neighborhood's Coolest Mom".

Ugh.

Sunny or overcast, doesn't matter. I now have kids coming to my door in droves asking if they can come swimming with Ethan. I suppose I should be pleased that he has someone close to do fun things with. He's always been the odd kid out on our block, and because I may be a TAD on the overprotective side, it's probably my fault. Unlike many of the other neighborhood moms, I won't let him ride his bike, walk to a friend's house, or play in the street if I'm not there with him. He's only five, and even though this is a nice, family friendly neighborhood with fairly little traffic, this world is full of frickin' crazies.

Case in point: my neighbor across the street has just revealed that his new hobby is...


*wait for it*



CAGE FIGHTING.

Now, to really grasp why I find this utterly hilarious, you'd have to know him. He strongly reminds me of Michael Scott from "The Office"--bumbling idiotic blowhard with zero social skills and even less self-awareness. Even so, I kinda like the guy.

It's his wife who scares the bejeezus out of me.

If he'd told me SHE had taken up cage fighting, I wouldn't even have batted an eye. Her job as a principal of an alternative high school for lawless rapscallions and nefarious ne'er-do-wells suits her to perfection. She wears such a sour expression on her face, it wouldn't surprise me if even her vagina comes outfitted with a steel trap.

Actually, that would explain an awful lot.

So, imagine my surprise when Ethan asked if their kids could come swimming at our house, and he was told no because, as their daughter said, "Dad isn't sure about you guys."

Isn't sure...

ABOUT US?!!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but did I just get dissed by a brow-beaten cage fighting pantywaist?

Strange times, man. Strange times.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Who's Driving Anyway?!

Yesterday, Father's Day, we spent a good portion of the time on the road. Since it was to be my husband's special day, I did the driving, even though he is the worst passenger in the history of locomotion. Not that I could tell him that. No, as I've mentioned, it was his special day...

Was.

Thankfully, today is a new day, and I have a blog.

So, for your benefit, dear husband, here are all the responses I so graciously refrained from making yesterday. Feel free to refer back to this list anytime you require my response in the future, and my one-finger salute does not adequately convey my sentiments to your liking:

"The speed limit is 60 through here."
Thank you, talking highway sign. As if your HUGE numbers weren't clear enough, you offer the added benefit of verbal confirmation. That must come in handy for all those sight-impaired drivers on the road. Kudos to you for being so darned progressive!

"There's a cop. Slow down."
Sure thing, because slowing down from 40 in a 40 mph zone to, say, 32 doesn't look the least bit suspicious, and would in no way draw his attention. Well, except maybe for that long line of irate drivers behind me whom I have effectively impeded. When he pulls me over, I'll let you do the talking.

"Watch out for that guy on the bike."
Oh, thank goodness you were here. I was about to make him the latest addition to my ever-expanding "Cyclists of the Pacific Northwest" hood ornament collection. Had no idea there was anything wrong with that.

"Pass this guy, then get over in the other lane, and turn right...NOW! Aw, man, you missed it!"
Yes, I did. But what I didn't miss was that day in Physics class when my teacher explained the general theory that when two objects of considerable mass traveling at a certain velocity collide, they make a big BANG! I think it's called the Principle of Duh.

"Turn that way. Why are you turning this way?"
Well, my dear, when I asked you 60 seconds ago which way to turn and got no response, I decided to make an educated guess. Heck, the chances were 50/50 that you'd infer I'm a dumb ass anyway, and 100% that you won't be getting any of it for the rest of your natural born life.

Congratulations, jackass. You're a winner!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Never Spam a Writer

Dear Beloved,
What am I, a character in a bad Oprah movie? Just call me the Right Honorable Mrs. Avery A. Gray like everyone else. No, really, I insist.

Glory to God in heaven.
Trite, cliché. Nothing’s grabbing me here. Pull me in. Make me care.

My name is Mrs.Annen Joubert from South Africa. I am married to Mr. Abraham Benjamin Joubert, who is a farmer here in South Africa for many years before he died in 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child.
Okay, I’m gonna stop you right there. This is all riveting stuff—great human interest angle—but your tenses are all wrong. Are you currently married to a dead man? I’m not judging. Could be one hell of a hook.

He died after a briefillness that lasted for only four days.
Redundant. Don’t need to be beat over the head with his corpse. Unless the duration of the illness--I’m sorry, “briefillness”—is important to the plot, consider cutting this.

Before his death we were both born again Christians. Since his death I decided not to re-marry or geta child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited a total sum of $10. Million (Ten Million, U.S.Dollars) with bank in Europe.
Logic flow problem—why was he farming if he was a frickin’ millionaire? You lost me.

Presently, this money is still under the safe keeping of the Reserve Bank Recently, my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next Two months due to my cancer problems.
“Cancer problems”? Vague, Ann. Try to be as descriptive as possible. Paint me the terrifying picture with words like "oozing lesions", "fetid bedsores", or "HMO claims representative".

Though what disturbs me most ismy or better still a Christian individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in.
That disturbs me, too. Your syntax is atrocious.

I want a church or God fearing individual that will use this fund on, orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and give help to mankind.
Google “Christian charities” maybe? Weak plot device. Where are you going with this?

The Bible made usto understand that blessed is the hand that griveth.
“Griveth”? That’s not what my Bible says. Isn’t that like a cross between a lion and an eagle? No, wait, that’s a griffin.

I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are nota good Christians and I don't want my husband'shard earned money to be misused by unbelievers.
Whoa, red flag, Ann! You’re alienating a huge percentage of your potential readership. Consider changing “unbelievers” to “Koreans” or “Polacks”.

I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision.
What decision? Avoid foreshadowing.

I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord.Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall holdmy peace. I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health because of the presence of my husband's relatives around me always. I don't want them to know about this development.Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated here in
Well, since you’re spouting Scripture, might I suggest a gander at Leviticus 19:11-12.

With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I'll forward your personal information to the bank in Europe so that they will contact you as the legal owner of this fund before transferring the fund into your nominated Bank Account in your country.
Personal information? My name's Avery. I'm a Gemini. I like long moonlit walks on the beach and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Now where’s my money, beeyatch?

I will also issue you a letter of a authority that will empower you as the original-beneficiary of this fund. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shepherd.i will stop here becouse of my health Hoping to hear from you as soon as possible. Read Hebrews13:15v16 New Living Translation
Blah, blah, blah. Talking past the close.

Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.
You assume much.

Mrs.Annen Joubert.

This Story Needs More Cowbell

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Or less cowbell.

Or it has just the right amount of cowbell, and I shouldn't change a thing.

Gah!

As if my inner critic weren't demanding enough, I've kicked my own ass by asking for outside opinion from the two critique groups I belong to on the first chapter of my most recent work.

Although everyone thus far has loved the story overall, they've had mixed opinions about the elements that make it up.

More internal dialogue.

Less internal dialogue.

Just the right amount of internal dialogue.

Oooo-kay...

Believe it or not, I view this as a positive thing. When I'm critiquing a story that really doesn't need much editing, I still feel compelled to point out any and every little thing I can possibly think to mention because I don't want the writer to feel cheated out of a proper review. If all I said was "Looks good," they'd think I didn't take it seriously.

I'm really hoping that's what's happening here, 'cause I've gone over that chapter so many times my eyes are crossing. And that is not a good look for me.

If you have a Critique Circle membership (and are not easily offended), you can find my chapter here. It will be in review until the 17th.

Just don't tell me it needs more cowbell. I find I'm plumb out.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Like the New Digs?

The beautiful, vivacious, and oh so clever Bee visited Chez Gray on Friday, and inspired me to change things up a bit. She even imparted to me the super secret location of an ultra clandestine website that features some awesome background images. (I'd tell you, but then she'd have to kill me.)

So, thanks for all your help, Bee! I sense a windfall of Starbucks in your future...

Unfortunately, since I've been pouring all my creative energy into my writing lately, I have nothing to post worthy of a grand unveiling of this magnitude. So, I'll be resorting to a musical guest.

Hey, I think Weezer's funny.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On Writing

Writing is hard.

(You can quote me on that.)

You'd think someone could have clued me in to that before I, you know, tried to, like, do it.

Oh, I'm not talking the physical act of putting pen to paper. I got that part down years ago. (I might even still remember how.)

And I'm not even talking about the commitment of energy and time--sometimes years--that go into crafting a story. If writing is a passion, these costs are negligible. (At least until the divorce papers are signed.)

No, the most difficult thing about writing is...dealing with other writers.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love writers. Heck, I can't seem to open my front door without tripping over some far better than I. (Or is it 'better than me'? I always get those confused.)

The writers I'm referring to are the ones who frequent critique boards and writers' forums and rant about words like "it".

"It" is passive.

"It" is non-specific.

"It" makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spork and pour salt in the festering wounds.


Yowza. Is "it" really so bad?

"It" seems to me like "it" has a fairly useful place in literary lexicon. After all, Dickens didn't say "12:45 was the best of times, 12:45 was the worst of times..."

Alas, new writers are often inundated with these types of opinions, and though many are helpful in terms of tightening prose (I'm lookin' at you, "that"!), there seems to be a widespread movement of word genocide taking place.

"And" is evil.

"There" is the devil.

"Was" is obscenely pornographic.


What's next? "The" boils rabbits alive?

I guess my point is, it's not those words alone that make a story unreadable. The world's worst writer can remove every evil, passive, non-specific, bunny-boiling word from their work, and it still wouldn't be worth the paper it's printed on. Conversely, a great one can write in nothing but adverbs, and still be praised for their genius.

At least, that's what I'm hoping. I really truly am.

Monday, June 2, 2008

You Caught Me

Clever Miss B. She let the cat out of the bag. I probably wouldn't even have mentioned anything, but you know it's bad luck to have an unbagged cat just wandering around your blog. So, yes, I'll admit it...

Yesterday was my birthday, and I am now officially on the after-30 downhill slide.

Crap.

I was hoping maybe no one would notice. Maybe I could go on in Blogland being youthful and spry and thirty forever. But, no. Someone had to go and be resourceful.

Darn you, Burrows, and your well-organized flash cards o' personal information.

(Who does that, really? I mean seriously...)

Okay, I'm not mad. And I probably would have mentioned it anyhow, because I wanted to thank Dapoppins for watching Ethan for us Saturday night so we could go out to dinner and a movie (Iron Man, good). And my buddy Meghan, who doesn't blog, but reads mine and NEVER comments, for hand delivering some beautiful yellow hybrid lilies. And my husband, who, despite getting me nothing, refused to be one-upped by Meghan (not hard to one-up a big, fat goose egg, dear), hand picked one of my own roses off the trellis.

Aw, shucks. You shouldn't have. Really. But considering you spent $6,000 on my present last year, I'm gonna let it slide. Just this once.

Heck, at least it wasn't an alternator or something.

So, yes, I'm old now. Go ahead and let me have it. Just, uh, use caps lock, would ya? My eyesight ain't what it used to be.

You know, before yesterday and all.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

If I Had Forever...

So, Sew-and-so is hosting an End of Spring Writing Assignment on the Buzz (she says I'm collaborating with her, but I haven't really done much of anything, so the credit all goes to her), and she asked if she could post my entry on the Anthill to inspire others to give it a try.

Of course, I accepted, much like a beauty pageant winner accepts her crown. Darn this running mascara and impending carpal tunnel.

I offered to post it here as well. (I mean, I don't know about you, but I've never been to the Anthill. I fear the Antman and his fake urban slang.)

The theme of the assignment is "If I Had Forever...":


Days stretch before me without end.
Though paths diverge in loping wend,
Through plains of gold and wooded glen
You’ll know just where to find me.

Above the stately oaken branches,
Past the mire of broken chances,
Where whispered prayers still nightly dance,
Is where the road will lead.

But follow not this trail I lay,
For solace sought lays not this way.
Your time will come, but not this day,
And not this easily.

Our parting will but moments seem
When you awaken in the dream.
Though years may pass, Love will redeem
What your heart now fails to see.



(Here's a useless tidbit about that poem you can use to amaze your friends at keggers--it's written in trochaic, not iambic, tetrameter, because the stressed syllables precede the unstressed, except for the last line of each quatrain, which is written in either catalectic or brachycatalectic trochaic tetrameter, because they are missing either one (catalectic) or two (brachycatalectic) syllables off the foot.

And that is the first time majoring in English has EVER paid off for me.)

If you'd like to participate (and no, you don't need to know a thing about verse cadence), stop by Sew-and-so's Buzz blog and post a link to your entry. It doesn't have to be a poem; write in whatever style the theme inspires you. You have until June 20th.

So, come on. Let's see what ya got!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hello, Kitty

Allow me to introduce you to the newest member of the Gray household...

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This little fella Ethan has dubbed Arrow. He's a 6-week-old Heinz 57, so graciously "gifted" to us by our wonderful neighbor, Deb.

(She's a dead woman.)

(I don't mean literally. Yet.)

Deb, you'll recall, is the boozing Brit who tempts fate by passing out crap candy at Halloween, and lives, it seems, solely to torment me.

Oh, I'm not saying the cat isn't cute, or that he couldn't possibly weasel his way into our shriveled black hearts. We're not monsters, or Korean, or anything.

(That's a joke. Monsters are totally misunderstood.)

No, it's the sneaky, underhanded means of foisting the cat on our unsuspecting selves that has me planning her slow, painful demise.

She asked our five-year-old if he wanted to take the kitty home.

Now, I'm not a rookie at this parenting game. Not only have I spent the last five-and-a-half years raising my own son, but I've been a very involved auntie in my 16 nieces and nephews lives for the past 20 years. And never--NEVER--have I encountered a play quite as reprehensible as the ol' tugging on the child's heartstrings to unload your bastard cats move.

Low, Deb. So very low.

Especially since she knew that he has been asking for a pet for the past two years.

I know the ultimate decision belongs to us, as his parents, and I suppose I could have done the appropriate (read "mean") thing and told him no, but I just couldn't find it in me to break his little heart.

I sent him to his dad instead.

How was I to know Squidward would cave?

So, yes, we have a cat, and a very happy little boy.

Watch your back, Deb. It's on now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is She Still Alive?

Oh, did I not mention I'd be going on another blog hiatus?

Man, I gotta stop doing that.

Unfortunately, I can't guarantee it won't be like this for the foreseeable future. The sad truth is, my heart and my head just aren't in it. I'm struggling with some things healthwise, and it's affecting me more than I thought it was.

No, I'm not dying or anything. You can't get rid of me that easily.

But I certainly don't feel like I'm living either. I've been on autopilot for weeks now. I can't seem to care about anything beyond making it through the day without breaking down.

I know that sounds pathetically melodramatic, and it is, but, heck, this is my blog. And my pity parties are rollicking good fun.

(Virgin umbrella drinks! Yay!)

Mike says I should blog all the gruesome details, but I don't think he knows what he was asking for. He's a guy. Sure, they can blow out a monster's brains on a video game, or watch the goriest movie without flinching, but interrupt it with a tampon commercial, and they're mowing each other down and crawling over the dead bodies to get to the nearest exit.

"Women's trouble" scares them senseless.

But that's not exactly what I'm dealing with. Hormones, yes. But even that's enough for my husband to get a glazed over look on his face. I guess in his eyes, the two are synonymous. Hormones falls under the category "Mysterious Things I'd Rather Not Know About My Wife's Body".

Wimp.

On the bright side, he doesn't complain at all when the only thing I accomplish in a day is meshing a lovely floral arrangement for my Sims.

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Yes, that's about the extent of what I can will myself to do some days. Sad, huh?

(Sadly awesome, that is!)

But some days are better than others, and it does seem that I'm having more and more of those good ones. I'm cautiously optimistic that that means I'm on the upswing, but I know better than to call the game now.

Hormones, like my mother, can be a fickle, fickle bitch.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Broken Dream

Oh, did I not mention I'd be going on blog hiatus?

Yeah, I didn't know it myself. Just been busy with the usual multitude of worthwhile philanthropic pursuits--rescuing kittens from trees, helping old people cross busy streets, making lamps for the lamp-deprived people who live in my computer.

Pretty standard.

I wish I could tell you that I've been spending my time shopping for a gorgeous set of patio furniture on which Holly can perch her shapely arse when she comes to visit (whenever THAT will be). Alas, it would seem that dream has flitted away on a passing breeze I like to call auto repair.

Yes, our car is in the shop...again. This time it's the water pump and timing belt.

Joy.

And by joy, I mean not joy.

Sorrow. Debilitating, blog-defeating sorrow.

What might have been...

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has become...

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*sigh*

Hey, at least it comes with a handy bucket to catch my falling tears, right?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

This Goes Out to You, Lovey

It made me think of you. Hope it puts a smile back on your face. :o)

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

Monday, April 28, 2008

Push This, Lovey

Lovey and I were talking on the phone this past weekend, and she said something that has stuck in my head since then.

"You're a pushover," she told me. "I love you, but you are."

And, man, if I weren't such a pushover, it would've come to fisticuffs!

Alright, it wouldn't have. And not because what she said is true, but because we went to school together, and I can still remember the whoopings she administered to a number of our unlucky classmates. The girl's scrappy, yo.

But while I have to respectfully disagree with her statement (please don't hurt me), her epithet of me is not completely unwarranted. I do have a hard time saying no to people. I can't tell you how many times in my life I have been told, "You're just too nice," in a bad way.

Man, if only they'd read my blog...

I can understand, from her point of view, why it would seem that I'm always caving to other people's demands. She's a strong, dominant woman who likes to have things her way. I wouldn't call her a control freak (to her face), but she certainly wears the pants in that family.

And while my fashion choices do tend to favor pants, dominant I am not.

I'm probably as laid back as a Republican can possibly get.

But a pushover? I don't think so. I have the mettle when it really counts. Just ask the women in my first mothers' group who made disparaging comments about my son behind my back.

Homey don't play that.

It takes a lot to rile me, but when you do, I will unleash the Avery Gray brand of fury on you--a piquant blend of pain and indigestion--the likes of which you won't soon forget. Unless I knock you silly with a well-placed roundhouse kick to the head, which badmouthing my son will get you.

I bike, people. You don't want to test me.

But anything less than that? Eh.

In the grand scheme of things, acquiescing to my husband's desire to spend wads of cash on a new video game system matters far less to me than having something we can enjoy doing together as a family. And if it makes him happy to boot, so much the better, because in the big picture, my life is pretty damned good thanks to him.

Plus, now if I find a set of patio furniture and spend a ridiculous amount of money on it, he hasn't got a leg to stand on, has he?

I pick my battles, my friend, and I choose them well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Welcome to Geek Paradise!

Where one video game system is simply not enough...


My husband had been waiting with near orgasmic anticipation for the release of Rock Band for the Wii in June. I'd often find him in his darkened office, surfing images of the game screens on the web. Of course, he'd quickly shut down his browser when he heard me come in, but I knew what he was doing.

Oh, I knew.

He started talking about Rock Band as if it were a "good friend", working it into casual conversation more and more until I started to wonder if maybe there was more going on than just an occasional dalliance with the keyboard.

Turns out, there was.

This weekend, the anticipation proved to be too great for him to bear. While we were out and about on Saturday, we stopped into the grand opening of the new Fred Meyer's in town. It quickly became apparent to me that he was ready to take the relationship to the next level when he suggested we check out the electronics department.

Hey, at least he's including me, right?

We shuffled our way through the crowded store, blocked in our progress time and time again by aged blue-hairs on motorized scooters and large groups of loitering kids, but he would not be deterred. Not when the object of his desire was so close at hand.

And there it was. Rock Band.

For the Xbox 360.

Which we now own, along with a new 32-inch Toshiba LCD TV for my husband's office.

One thousand three hundred fifty-eight dollars and seventy-five cents.

Hope for his sake it puts out.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are You a Twit...terer?

Twitteree?

One who twits?

Or is it tweets?

You know what I'm talking about, right? Twitter, the cultural wasteland internet phenomenon that everyone and their imaginary cat has jumped onboard. The "free social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time."

Yeah, 'cause I need a minute-by-minute account of my dental hygienist's day. (Yes, he tweets.)

You can follow me on Twitter, though I don't know why you'd want to. I hardly ever update it, much to the dismay of missburrows, who is, at this minute, apparently smelling her fingers.

See, it's things like that that I'm not sure I need to know about people.

Don't get me wrong--I'm a finger sniffer, too. I just don't know if I want to broadcast it to the world.

(Well, a little late now, I suppose.)

The gurus at Twitter consider their service a format for "free microblogging", which is a great option for anyone who can't afford the exorbitant cost of a Blogspot blog and has the attention span of a stoned gnat.

No offense, Miss B.

I just don't see the appeal, but, then again, I believe I have mentioned I'm not the most interesting person in the world. Maybe I just find it hard to believe that anyone would want a rundown of the activities of which my days consist in real time.

Let's see...wake up, feed the whelp mini muffins and Mountain Dew, order him umpteen million times to put on some pants, take him to school, sit on the couch and eats Bon Bons until it is time to pick him up, feed him again, "interact", feed the big one, "interact", bury my nose in a book and ignore them for the rest of the night, repeat.

There you have it. I just saved myself the trouble of logging on to Twitter a good twenty times right there.

Not that I do. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Demanding Little Blog Monkeys!

What? One blog post a week is not enough for you people?!

Believe me, if you knew what I've considered blogging about in the past seven days, you'd thank me for staying away.

Let's see...
  • I took my bike in for a tune-up. Seems the little bastard felt 8th gear was plenty high enough, thank you, while I've always been quite a big fan of the gears 16-24. I could expound upon their many merits at great length, I suppose.

  • Then there was that crazy girls' night out with Lovey. Pedicures, bookstore, and home by 9. I'd say we painted the town a lovely shade of ecru.

  • And today I got a new desk chair. That's got the makings of a looooong post about the importance of proper ergonomics, right?

Yawn.

I even bore myself.

Alas, such is the way it goes. I'm thirty now. Nothing blogworthy will ever happen to me again.

Until I get a cat, of course. And begin my illustrious cat blogging career.

You'll say you knew me when...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Day. From. Hell.

Kindergarten registration.

That sorta says it all, don't it?

Yesterday was the first day of kindergarten registration in our school district, and me, being the masochist I am, decided to get in early and get it done.

Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha.

The woman behind the counter, I'll call her Satan's Minion, gave me a stack of paperwork to fill out and directed me to a row of tables around the corner where I could do so.

That's when I saw them.

My fellow prisoners of war. A row of soccer moms; their skin sallow in the flickering fluorescent light, their eyes pleading, urging me to turn back while I still could.

I should have known then that things were about to go downhill fast.

Seventeen pointless forms (I mean, do I need to fill out a bilingual survey if we're not bilingual, seriously?) and half an hour later, I took the completed pile back to the counter.

Satan's Minion asked to see Ethan's birth certificate, which I handed to her.

Or so I thought.

"That's not a birth certificate," she said. "That's a certificate from the hospital saying he was born."

I think I blinked.

"It's not a certified birth certificate," she continued. "I need a certified birth certificate."

What the hell is the difference?! He was born, and I have proof. It's not like I'm trying to commit insurance fraud or enroll an imaginary child in your damn school.

That was what I felt like saying. Instead, I smiled politely and asked where I might get one of those.

She directed me to the office of Vital Records on the other side of town.

Great.

Off I went, determined that at the end of the day, Ethan would be among the first of his class to be registered to walk the hallowed halls of primary academia.

Now, if you've never visited the Clark County Center for Community Health where the Washington State Vital Records offices are located, you are certainly missing out. It's a hoot and a half.

No wonder the nearest parking space was half a mile away. Everyone and their inbred brothers hang at the CCCCH.

I made my way to the third floor, and waited at the Vital Records counter to be helped.

I use that term loosely.

"Rita" and "Fern" (I'm not sure those were their names, but they fit, so I'm going with 'em) were "busy" discussing the scandalous behavior of their fellow state-employed co-worker, Sheila the Hussy.

Ah, my tax dollars hard at work!

When she did deign to speak to me, Rita informed me she couldn't help me until I filled out a request form.

I waited for her to produce one. She stared at me.

"Oooo-kay," I said. "And those would be...where exactly?"

"Be-hind you," she replied in, if I'm not mistaken, a terse manner.

Thanks, Rita. Bitchsayswhat.

(Hey, look! I guess I am bilingual after all!)

I filled out the form and returned to the counter where, yet again, Fern and Rita were dishing the dirt.

I waited. And waited. And cleared my throat and waited some more.

When Fern could sense I was on the verge of doing something really drastic (like clearing my throat again), she took the paperwork.

"Have you been to the cashier?" she asked.

"No, not yet."

"Well, I can't help you until you see the cashier."

Super.

Off I went to the cashier, who was surprisingly efficient, and I returned to the Vital Records counter with receipt in hand. Fern pulled up Ethan's information, printed off a copy of his birth certificate, and stamped the back.

It took two minutes.

Total time at the CCCCH: forty-three minutes.

Nice.

Back I go to the school. Satan's Minion, who I'm now calling SM, 'cause we're tight like that, makes a copy of his certified birth certificate and looks over his paperwork.

"His immunizations aren't up to date," she says.

"I'm pretty sure they are," I told her. "His doctor made sure of it on his last visit."

"Well, you're missing a couple dates here. I can't process him until I have those dates."

No problem, I thought. I'll just call the doctor's office on my cell phone...

Which is sitting on my kitchen counter.

Of course.

Home I go, call the doctor's office, and I'm told they do keep immunization records there, but they're downstairs, and I'd have to come in to get a copy.

Ethan's doctor's office is in Portland, which meant another half hour of driving, and when I got there, the receptionist (obviously not the one I spoke to on the phone) said I should have just called. He could have just given me the information over the phone.

Grr.

I returned once again to the school, only to be informed that a driver's license would not suffice as proof of residency (because they just hand those out willy nilly?), so I go home once again to grab my phone bill (Lord knows you can't fake those).

A vial of badger blood and hair of a Chinaman later, Ethan is now officially registered to start kindergarten this fall.

Hallelujah!

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Painful Truth

Yesterday, Dapoppins was nice enough to lend us one of her children for a playdate. She keeps extras for just such an occasion. Ethan was thrilled to have his friend come over to play, which he let me know loudly and repeatedly.

(Apply ice pick directly to the forehead.)

Everything was fine. They played well together, but I could tell Ethan frustrated his buddy at times. Like, from the time that he showed up at our house until the time we dropped him off at his.

It's not unusual for Ethan to have that effect on kids his own age. Especially those who like to follow directions and do things the way they're supposed to be done.

Ethan's thoughts on that? Bo-ring! Let's talk to a pillow. And pretend it's a hamburger. In outer space.

He doesn't make friends easily.

I wish I knew how to help him, but, the way I see it, the aspects of his personality that kids find most off-putting are...well, his entire personality.

He's...chipper. Freakishly chipper. He eats sunshine and poops rainbows. He's in-your-face happy.

(I've always hated people like that.)

He's also completely oblivious to the effect his over-exuberance has on his peers. He thinks everyone esteems made-up songs about banana cameras and pirate toes as highly as he does. Which is why he sings them over and over and over again.

Yes, he's creative. He cracks me up. But that's part of the problem.

When we're at home, he plays to an audience of one. Me. And I think he's hilarious. Most adults do. But kids?

Not so much.

The other day, it was nice outside, and a small group of neighborhood boys were playing out front. Ethan asked them if it would be alright if he joined them.

The oldest (probably a year older than Ethan) said okay.

Ethan's response: "I can play with you? Hooray! Oh, what a beautiful day! I like your pretty shirt."

Inside, I was dying for two reasons.

One, because I wanted to laugh so badly it hurt.

And two, because, in that moment, I got a good glimpse into Ethan's future.

All I can say is, I'm stocking up on Neosporin now, 'cause there's a whole heap of ass-kickin's comin' down the pike.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Poop Post

Feminine mystique? What's that?

I used to know, years ago. Back when I had some. Now, next to nothing is sacred.

Sure, I could be like my mom, a whole-hearted devotee of the June Cleaver movement, who gets dressed, puts on her make-up, and fixes her hair at 4:30 in the morning so my dad won't see her all dishabille before he's had his first cup of joe.

But 4:30 is hella early.

Heck, my husband is lucky if I wipe the sleep drool off my face before I kiss him goodbye. That's how I roll.

There isn't much I won't do in front of my husband.

Pop zits? Yep.

Pluck chin hairs? You betcha.

Poop? NOOOOOO!!!!

I draw the line.

I'm always amazed at how many married couples find this a perfectly acceptable practice. Especially if you have more than one bathroom and appropriately functioning bowels.

I set the solo-pooping precedent early in our co-habitation. There was to be no question--I don't appreciate an audience.

As far as my husband knows, I never poop.

It's how it should be.

But after a conversation with a good friend of mine yesterday--wherein she broke not only my cardinal rule of phone etiquette (don't talk to me while you're in the bathroom), but an unwritten, and much more self-evident one (don't talk to me from the bathroom while your husband is dropping the kids off at the pool)--I have to wonder if I'm not in the minority here.

Please tell me I'm not.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Take That, Punk!

Me: Oh, hey, Computer Problem.

CP: Aaaavery! How's it hangin'?

Me: Uh, yeah. So anywho, I've been thinking--

CP: Uh-oh. Hope you didn't hurt yourself.

Me: Funny. So, as I was saying--

CP: Got any beer?

Me: No.

CP: No Bud? No brewsky? No 40 dog Schlitz Malt Liquor?

Me: No.

CP: How am I gonna get my drink on?

Me: I don't know. Maybe you should consider crashing with an alcoholic.

CP: Nah. They never share their booze.

Me: Focus. Please. I think I have an answer to all of our problems.

CP: Will it help me get my drink on?

Me: Quite possibly.

CP: I'm listening.

Me: Okay, so you know I hate your guts, right?

CP: You've mentioned it. Only a billion times.

Me: Right. Sorry.

CP: Embroidered it on the couch pillows.

Me: Overkill, I admit.

CP: I have to sleep on those, you know!

Me: Right. Again, sorry. But what if you didn't have to sleep on them anymore? What if I gave you a big wad of cash and called you a cab that would take you anywhere you wanted? Maybe a liquor store. Sky's the limit. How would that work for you?

CP: I don't know. How big we talkin'?

Me: Three hundred bucks. And I'll let you keep the silverware.

CP: I was, uh, gonna polish it for you later. Yeah.

Me: Whatever. Do we have a deal?

CP: I don't know. This is a pretty sweet set-up you got here.

Me: I'll throw in some porn.

CP: Deal! Where's the money?

Me: Here, but I have to throw it at you.

CP: Why?

Me: I don't know. That's just how these things work.


So, yes, my computer is fixed. Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions. In the end, it was the memory. I added a few more gigs, and whatdaya know! Problem solved.

Hooray!

Hope you've all been well. I've been a little preoccupied with this. (Hence the post about weather. Better than one filled with nothing but expletives and tears, I suppose.)

To add injury to insult, I've been nursing my husband back to health after his MAJOR EMERGENCY SURGERY.

He had a tooth extracted, but the way he's carrying on...

I hope to be back in the swing of things soon. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Holy Crap, It's Snowing!

Yesterday it was sunny, then rainy, then snowy, rainy, hail-y, sunny, rainy, rainy, rainy, cold, cold, cold.

It's snowing right now. The end of March and it's snowing.

Okay, it's not like it's the end of July and snowing, but it's still unusual for these parts.

(Hey, God? If you're planning a big swarm of locusts next, would you mind giving a little heads-up? They make my hair frizz something terrible!)

Ethan and I are planning to sit in front of the fire today with some mugs of hot cocoa and watch movies. Last week at this time, I was wearing capris!

Figures this happens when my blast furnace (aka Mr. Gray) leaves town. I was laying in bed shivering last night, too stupid cold to get out of bed and put on socks, and I was missing him--despite the buzzsaw snoring and inherent ass-ishness.

He has his uses. I'll give him that.

So, what's the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Right Up My Alley

First things first, I want to wish my husband--the one I so unceremoniously killed off in the last post--a Happy 43rd Birthday! He's spending this week working in Phoenix, so we won't be able to properly celebrate until he gets home on Friday.

Too bad it's not Wednesday. Then it would be Business Time.

Bow-chicka-bow-wow...

*sigh*

Also, regarding the post about my computer--thank you to everyone who has offered up some suggestions. I haven't had a chance the past few days to try anything, but I will this week. I've already removed a custom content file I suspected was corrupt, and that has helped some. Oh, and to answer your question, Mike, it has 1022 MB of RAM, and I ran 'Can You Run It?' on the game and all the EP's individually, and it passed. Unfortunately, there's no way to run it all together, so it may be that I need more memory. I'm thinking I might just add some anyhow. Couldn't hurt, right?

(Dun dun duuuunnnnn...)

Well, while my computer is still relatively operational, I figure it's probably best to post the meme that Meleah tagged me with last week. And, boy, is it a treat for you! A revealing glimpse into my world, if you will.

The premise--photograph five things in your house that "say something about the person you are"--seems simple enough, but it was a lot harder for me to do than I thought it would be. I maaaay have fudged with the rules a little and turned it into 5 types of things that say something about me.

You won't tell, will you?


#1--Metal scrolls...

You'll find them everywhere in my house. Don't know why. I just love the look of them. If there's an empty spot on the wall, throw a scroll on there, and you're done! (Kinda my decorating philosophy in a nutshell.)

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#2--Family pictures

Like metal scrolls, family pictures are a great way to use up wall space...and seem sentimental while you're at it! I have lots of pictures of my guys up, but the one picture that gets the most comments is the one (at the bottom) of a family pictured in, I'm guessing, the late 1800's. I found that old picture in an antique store in Coburg, Oregon, and thought it might be nice to frame. I'm asked all the time by people who come to my home if they are ancestors of mine. They're not, but I think I might make up a story about my crazy great-great-great grandparents, Jeb and Elsie, and their wacky offspring, Hezekiah and Lulu.

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#3--Grapes

I know, I know. I'm weird. I like grapes. Not just to eat, though we go through plenty. I like to put fake grapes here and there around my house. The calendar on my wall is "Vineyards of the World" (though I don't drink wine). I had grapes in my bridal bouquet, for Heaven's sake. I. Like. Grapes. No reason.

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#4--DIY

I'm a DIY'er. A do-it-yourselfer. If there's a job to be done, I'm your girl. I have a compound miter saw, and I ain't afraid to use it!

Okay, I won't be rewiring my house anytime soon, but I'm also not afraid to break a nail. I do it all the time. I make my own Roman shades--(it's easy! I can tell you how!)--hang molding, reupholster furniture. Why, I even wallpapered my bathroom ceiling and made a tribal mask out of cardboard and paper mache.

Somebody get me a show!

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#5--Mess

I think my desk pretty much says it all. And, yes, that's how every surface of my house usually looks--covered in clutter. I'm not a neat person by any means. There are a million and one things I would rather do with my time than clean. So, I keep up with the dishes and the garbage and the laundry--anything that might grow something gross and eventually smell bad--but clutter? Eh.

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So, there you have it. I'm tagging everyone on my blogroll with this one.

Let's see what you got!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

As I See It...

Sugarplum's Mom, that sweetie pot pie, has tagged me for an awesome meme, started by your friend and mine, Doodaddy. The theme--where will you and your kids be in twenty years and a day?

If you'd like to do this one, consider yourself tagged.




I think I feel a dream sequence coming on...


Tuesday, March 21, 2028

Waking up is hard. It was hard twenty years ago, but now that I'm alone in the house I used to share with my husband and my son, the days don't seem to dawn as bright.

Oh, I'm not generally prone to wallowing. It's been two years since Ron had that heart attack playing Guitar Hero XXVII. I told him it would be the death of him, but did he listen to me? Of course not.

"Woman," he said, "I'm a rocker through and through." Then his face turned bright red and he clutched his chest and fell to the floor.

He was gone, and I never got to tell him I told you so.

Losing the love of your life has a way of aging you ten years overnight. So, even though I'm only fifty-one this year, I feel like I'm sixty. Which still makes me a younger woman. He'd have turned sixty-three on the 24th.

The worst part about that day was that my son lost his dad.

They hadn't been seeing eye to eye on much, but there was no doubt how much they loved each other. Ron just wanted what any father wants for his young son--to get his head out of the clouds and figure out what he wants to do with his life. Unfortunately, Ethan got his flightiness from me.

Never my most endearing quality. Thank God he got his dad's brains, or I might fear he'll never leave that job at Jiffy Lube.

A man can't support a family on a measly $37 an hour. Barely even puts biodiesel in the tank.

Not that Ethan has his mind on starting a family just yet. He's been seeing someone pretty regularly. Jesse. Nice kid. And if Ethan wants to settle down with this individual of genderless nameage, I'll be happy with that.

Heck, I'll be happy with anything that makes him happy.

Unless what makes him happy is being a stripper. Or a dealer. Or a hippie. I have my limits.

Lately he's been talking about going back to school and finishing his architecture degree. I think he's finally feeling ready to grow up. Jesse must be a good influence on him.

They're coming over Friday night for dinner. I think Ethan knows how hard it will be on me, being alone on his dad's birthday.

He's a good boy, that one. I'm so lucky to have such a thoughtful son.

But today I'll be working on my book. It's been going well. I think I'm finally ready to start writing Chapter 2.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Help!!!

Yesterday, while nursing a major O'Doul's hangover, I had Lovey and her kids over to Chez Gray where we sat on our asses and played with the new Sims 2 expansion pack taught the children to read. Braille. So that they may help deaf people cross busy streets.

Call us givers.

Okay, yes, we played Sims. Happy now?

Well, I'm not.

You see, I'm what's known as an addict. I have every Sims 2 EP and SP that has been released (except for one, and that will be remedied today), and I have about 7 gigs of custom content downloaded on my computer.

See the fancy wallpaper and flooring? I made them myself! That's not sad at all.



So, what's the problem?

My computer hates me and wants to see me cry, that's what.

I'm having technical difficulties, and I haven't a clue what to do about it. And they've been going on for months.

At first, it was the blue screen of death. I got that a lot.

So, I fixed that problem by throwing money at it. (Note: that DOES fix a lot of problems.) I installed a new nVidia graphics card and a 650 watt PSU.

Have I bored you to tears with technical jargon yet? Well just wait! It gets better.

I updated my drivers, updated BIOS, defragged the crap out of my hard drive, installed End It All to kill all unnecessary background processes that might interfere with the function of the game and SpeedFan to keep tabs on the system temperature.

That bought me all of 15 minutes of game play.

The next step was to--*shudder*--remove all custom content. Which I did, to no avail. Though it no longer took my game 45 minutes to load, I could only play for an additional 15 minutes before the graphics would get all wonky again.

Back to the drawing board.

I tested the memory with a Memtest86 CD. It was fine, and I finally, finally, finally got a glimmer of hope when I happened to read a post about setting page file (virtual memory) size. Mine was set at the minimum.

You know I bumped that bad boy up to the max! Call me a rebel.

And it seemed to work. I cautiously began adding custom content back into my game. All seemed right with the world.

Then yesterday, Lovey, who couldn't build a moderately sized house for her Sims if her life depended on it, chose a big lot and placed a big house on it.

And the game crashed again.

Curses!

What does a pathetic, 30-nothing loser have to do to get a break?!

Do I need more memory? An even better graphics card? A life and a hobby that doesn't involve little computer people?

Can anybody tell me what to do?

Monday, March 17, 2008

When Irish Eyes Are Smilin'...

And a Happy Saint Patty's Day to ya now!

I've started the celebration early. Got my Lucky Charms and a keg of O'Doul's.

(Did somebody say par-tay?!)

But, most importantly, I got my ultra cool St. Pat's attire from my ultra cool blogger buddy, Yajeev's ultra cool super duper deluxe Megastore at cafepress.com. Check out what's plastered across my boob's today.

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No, not the little Irish man. (That's many O'Doul's from now.)

It's Yajeev's high quality merchandise at ridiculously reasonable prices!

If you haven't read this guy's blog, you're not one of the cool people, and I refuse to associate with you. The man is hilarious!

Plus, he's clumsier than me, and he's not afraid to tell the world about it. He's got blog balls of steel!

Go. Now. I'll wait.











So, was I right or was I right, huh?

Yeah, I was right. You're welcome.

Anywho, other than hocking the wares of a superbly talented blogger, I've got a pretty full docket for the day. In addition to the Lucky Charms binging and O'Doul's imbibing, I'm going to whittle me up a perfectly good bar of Irish Spring soap with my stabbin' knife.

(It's a soap...canoe!)

Then I'm off to the local pub, where, after a rousing rendition of "Danny Boy" which will leave not a dry eye in the house, I'll throw away all the potatoes and everyone will starve.

Sounds like good times to me.

What's on your agenda?