Sunday, October 29, 2006

Attention: I Won a Costume Contest!

Most Original Costume: Spy vs. Spy
So I'm not actually delighted with this picture, but I'm waiting for further images to show up from friends. If all else fails, I will force Thomas back into the costume and invite people over to capture our glory on film. But I will say this: I won a costume contest. I'm so excited about this! I WON A COSTUME CONTEST!

When I was little, my mom fashioned the absolute best and most amazing costumes for us, year after year. We would begin making requests a year in advance, and believe me, we gave her doozies. Mom, I want to be a dragon. A caterpillar. A lion. I'm sure she was thinking, wtf is wrong with these girls? Why don't they want to be a nice princess? My mom's costumes won contests. Easily. So easily, our neighborhood stopped having a costume contest because my mom's costumes always won. But this I did all by myself. I love to dress up, and I think I've always made nice costumes, but this is the first time I've done something prize-worthy all by myself. Now, I know that it can't compare technically to my Mom's seamstressery, but still. I did this, and I am proud.

Here is what we won (the devilish one on the left):

What I love about this arrangement is that you can't really tell what it is the little guy wants. Is is the kids, or the mom? And who wouldn't want such a tableau in their bathroom to contemplate whilst pooping?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Canine Epilepsy and Other Woes

Following an absolutely blissful half hour in which Gonzo-bean slept on my stomach and left a large drool patch on my right boob, he launched into a nearly 10 minute long seizure.

Gonzo is 9 years old now, an astounding number, particularly when I consider that I have only started to adequately care for myself in the last 4 years, and this has been a part of our lives together since the first week that I owned him.

The struggle of having a dog with epilepsy is the incredible agony of loving something so much that you would cheerfully throw yourself in front of a moving vehicle to protect him, and finding that there is something that attacks him from within, something you have no power to stop, let alone to understand.

I know I should be very grateful that he is doing as well as he is. Two year ago, we started seeing a holistic vet, as Gonzo's seizures were becoming more frequent and debilitating. I've always resisted the traditional epilepsy medications because they come with such high risks. Phenobarbitol, the common drug, does great damage to dogs' livers, in addition to the fact that it is a rather whopping sedative. My bean--you should see him--is such a bundle of life and personality; I can't imagine sedating him for, well, ever. And I've been lucky, too, in that his seizures, while much, much longer than average, only come about once or twice a month, and so I haven't been forced to choose that option.

Brad Kerr, my unbelievable, understanding, talented and absolutely irreplaceable vet, tried acupuncture on Gonzo for a while, but finally Gonzo's anxiety about it made it seem like a ridiculous option, because Gonzo is an anxious dog to begin with, and we've always considered that part of the problem. So now he takes Chinese herbs at every meal and eats a low carb diet and that seems to be controlling the epilepsy to an enormous degree. This was his first seizure in 3 months and while it was long, he leaped up afterward as if nothing had happened, rather than skulking around, hiding and immediately having another seizure, as is his wont.

As a dog-mommy, I can't help but wonder if this happened because I finally made him stop taking a nap on top of me, or because I marvelled aloud to Thomas yesterday about how well Gonzo's been doing. I have to admit that I superstitiously stopped saying the word seizure about a year ago. That always seemed to bring them on.

When a dog hits one year without a seizure, you're allowed to declare them seizure free. In the last 8 years, we've only ever come close once. Oh, well. Clock starts

Monday, October 23, 2006

One Year Ago Today

The weather suddenly turning cold always makes me nostalgic. I read somewhere that people who are grieving often have sudden bouts of acute sadness during season changes. Our memories are so often triggered by feelings and smells that at the season change, we are suddenly bombarded with memories of the year before.

I keep feeling as if this fall is an anomaly--has there ever been fall in Wilmington in the six years I've lived here? Don't we always go directly from flip-flops to winter coats? And yet, last year, when we were moving into this house, I can distinctly remember being cold, in fact wearing my winter coat, while we hauled our stuff around.

A fine day, our moving day last year. Rainy and freezing. Thomas and I were shuttling things that we really wanted to move by hand from house to house in his truck: the records, some glassware, etc. Around 6 o'clock, both of us exhausted from working a full day and then moving, and sick of driving around in the rain, we decided to give up for the night. I went inside to call my friend Jenn (we were going to borrow her truck that evening) to let her know that we were going to quit after all, when suddenly, the most deafening boom I have ever heard shook the house. My first thought was: earthquake. My second thought was: terrorist attack. Everything was moving. I screamed, "What the FUCK was that?!" into Jenn's voicemail and hung up.

I looked at Thomas. He looked grave. He said, "I know exactly what that was," turned and walked out the front door. "What?" I said. "What???"

I walked out to see that his truck had rolled down the hill and smashed into the side of our (soon-to-be-ex) rental house.

It's times like these when you really get a good sense of whether or not your marriage is going to make it in the long term. These are the moments you didn't count on when you said, "for better or for worse," and this was the first moment of real disaster since we'd been together.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before, but Thomas is a total neat-freak. He can't leave the house without wiping down the counters and doing some last minute vaccumming. And he's particularly particular about the car. So although I could tell that the car probably wasn't totalled, I knew immediately that his brain was about to explode. DAMAGE!! TO THE CAR!! AND THE HOUSE!! AT ONCE!!

I didn't know what to do or say. I knew that if it were me, I probably would not want to be touched or consolled, so I sprang into "let's get the car off the house" mode. Together we pushed it up the hill and began to survey the damage.

Damn, were we lucky. The car came within an inch of shearing the electrical box right off the side of the house. As it was, the cover was torn off, but we were able to replace that easily. Thomas's truck lost a headlight and part of the front bumper and had a pretty hefty gouge running down the whole right side of the car. Also, some minor crunching.

At that point, our kindly neighbor Doug came over to see what happened. Thomas hissed at me through his clenched teeth, "Not now. NOT now."
"Okay," I said. "Okay, okay," and summarily led Doug away.

We stood out in the rain for about 45 minutes until Thomas could speak again. Then I was able to put my arms around him and we stood there for a while longer, holding each other beside the wreckage, and I knew my marriage had legs.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chapstick Addiction Sweeps the Nation

Remember in the early 80's when there was that big fuss about women becoming addicted to Oil of Olay moisturizer, so much so that their skin stopped making its own moisture? This would have been about the same time as the nasal spray addiction phenomenon. I don't know why I remember it, but I have a distinct memory of being over at my friend Larissa's house and her mom telling us about it.

After I noticed that I have cherry chapstick (never strawberry--o no!) in my purse, at my desk at school, in the bathroom, on my bedside table, in the car and generally in my coat pocket, I made the natural assumption that I have a
chapstick problem.

I did a google on it, looking for funny images and found this rather amusing site. So clearly, this topic has been exhausted and needs no further comment from me, except to say that while thinking of this as a blog topic, I considered writing an ode to my cherry chapstick.

***insano topic change***

Have you ever noticed that whenever you have some sort of friend-group drama at hand that is constantly addressed and discussed among you and generally flogged within an inch of its life, it's hard to remember that the whole world isn't tuning in to every installment with the same rabid attention that you are? Like, how come this incident isn't on Oprah? Shouldn't I be able to google it and see how other people are feeling? Isn't there some forum devoted to this?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kangaroo Crossing

Last year, my friend Mick saw a kangaroo over on Orange Street.

It was about 4 am on Tuesday night. Mick and Thomas had been out drinking together; I had to stay home because I had to teach in the morning. They had closed down the bar and come back to our house, then around 4, Mick decided to walk home. Thomas and I were asleep in bed when the phone rang. It was Mick, yelling that there was a Kangaroo in his yard. A smallish kangaroo.

I rolled over. "That's a wallaby," I said.

"Very funny, Mick," said Thomas and hung up.

"Do you think there's really a kangaroo over there?" I asked.

"No. Mick's just drunk."

"But if there were a kangaroo, and I didn't get out bed to see it, I would be seriously pissed," I said.

Thomas assured me that there was no kangaroo and I went back to sleep.

In the morning, Mick told us that when he was walking home, two thuggish guys ahead of him kept talking about a kangaroo. Mick said they had spent the evening chasing it from yard to yard. He said he saw it in the alley beside his house. He also said that the kangaroo was wearing a collar and had a huge erection.

Now, Mick has a history of saying and believing some crazy stuff, so we didn't know what to think. But we kept telling the story and making him tell it, because we thought it was funny. A few weeks later, Mick claimed to have seen the kangaroo in the neighborhood again. This time, he said, it was trapped under a laundry basket and a crackhead tried to sell it to him for 25 dollars.

This was just getting too outlandish. But then Mick's wife stepped in, a very reliable person, and said that although she did not go outside to see the kangaroo on the first night, she could hear people in the alley talking about it through her open bedroom window.

Huh. Was everyone playing an elaborate joke? Was this a funny story that just got out of hand?

Then our friend Steve Vernon said that he talked to Mick's neighbors who said that, in fact, some girl who lived in the neighborhood was a model and had a wallaby that she had gotten from some foreign photo shoot. The neighbors said further that it had escaped several times.

1.Wouldn't it be illegal to keep that kind of exotic pet? Don't you need some kind of license for that?

2. If a crackhead offered to sell you a kangaroo for 25 dollars, wouldn't you buy it?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tragically Unhip

Last year, Fred (who owns a record store downtown) had a yard sale. We were excited because, as you may have guessed, we are huge record collectors and were looking forward to raiding his collection.

We arrived at his place, which basically consisted of a huge studio-type room filled with various cameras, instruments, recording equipment, posters, records, magazines and other hipster "vintage" things. Thomas and I delved in, each taking down a box and going through it, pulling out selections for the other person to accept or veto later. We got some great 45's at Fred's sale, including some Depeche Mode and some Housemartins I never thought I'd see. After we were done sorting 45s and 33s, my work was done and I wandered around while Thomas sorted the 78s as they are his passion and I couldn't really care less about them.

I wasn't bored; there was a lot to see and look at...we found an original Evil Dead poster for our friend Bryan's collection...I was wandering around when Fred approached me and told me that if I was bored, he thought he had some old women's magazines somewhere that I could look at.

Um, what? Rarely, if ever before, have I been so offended. But if I'm honest, the total reason that I was so upset about it is that what he said just confirms something I've known about myself all along. I am just tragically unhip. It doesn't matter what music I listen to, or what I collect. It doesn't matter where I hang out or what my degree is in. There's something about me that just never quite fits in.

Partly, I think the problem is that I don't fit into any "type" of person. I am not a hippie, I'm not indie, I'm not a fashionista. I like to think I'm not a geek. I'm not artsy, I'm not beautiful, I'm smart but not exceptionally so. Whenever I think of polls or Neilson ratings, I think, those people should be asking me the questions, because I'm so...average. I know just enough.

Also, I think the problem stems from being raised (and I'm not questioning this at all, I'm just saying that it's so) not to think it was necessary to own to designer clothing. I grew up without cable (and thus without MTV, which, while a cliche, was totally a huge delivery system for pop culture in my generation) and so there are references that are lost on me. Things that other people consider needs or just a part of life, are things that I don't have now and will probably never have. Again, I'm neither knocking or promoting these things. I just don't know about them.

I'm sure that if I really wanted to, I could pretend to be a type of person. (And I always wonder about this: is everyone pretending?) But to me, to dress like a type of person feels like a costume. I want it desperately--I want people to look at me and know something beyond the fact that I clearly buy my clothes at Target--but to put on certain things feels like an affectation.

For instance:

I love these glasses. But I totally can't wear them. Who does this chick think she is?

I'm never going to be able to drink in some of the downtown "hotspots"--they give me the willies. I'd rather buy my CDs online than have to deal with walking into a record store. When I eat at Nikki's, I don't order sushi. I don't even know where Bella Festa (sp?) is. Help!

I like to pretend that I don't care about my negative hip-ness factor, but I obviously do, since the whole Fred-women's magazine-incident still makes me cry, and since I compulsively try on my glasses to see if somehow this shirt or this haircut will make them look...normal.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's OK, We Can Fast Forward Through the Sad Parts

I know that you all have been waiting all day, like, WHEN is Meg going to tell the story of the time she went on the blind date with hearing aid guy?

Well, relax, the time is now.

A good long time ago now, when I was newly single and sort of deeply confused about how to proceed, I agreed to go on a blind date with the nephew of a woman I worked with. He called me and we agreed to meet at Bennigans on a Friday night.

I arrived early, as I am wont to do, and was standing in the lobby looking for someone with blond hair and a goatee, wearing a white shirt. Shortly thereafter a small guy who looked freakishly like Lars Ulrich approached. I thought, that guy is much too young to be the person I am waiting for. Then he sort of turned and I saw that he had a large hearing aid in one ear and my heart sort of sank. Because it seemed to me that if someone was going to go on a blind date with me, it was totally going to be a guy with a great big hearing aid. Then he looked the other way to cross the street and I saw that he also had a big hearing aid in the other ear and I just knew that this was going to be the rest of my night.

Which, of course, it was. The guy introduced himself and we were led to a table, where, as I perused the menu, he told me in this sort of tough guy way about all the people he was going to give an ass-kicking and various other grievances about people that he had recently dated. I ate my meal politely, making small talk and trying to be friendly, yet non-committal. I paid my half of the check and felt relieved that dinner was over. He seemed to feel, as I did, that nothing worth persuing had taken place and we were walking toward our seperate cars in the parking lot. Suddenly, he said, "So what are we doing now?"

Now? I had no feeling up to that point that we would be doing ANYTHING now. I was planning to go home, get in bed and cry. But I felt like I should be nice to this person since he was related to someone I worked with. "Let's watch a movie," he said. "I just got a DVD player."

So, for Lord knows what reason, I agreed to return (in my own car, thank God) to his apartment to watch a movie. He showed me his fairly extensive DVD collection, told me to pick something and excused himself to go to the bathroom. I looked vaguely at his movies and picked out the recently re-released Exorcist. (Someone I'd had a crush on had been talking a lot about it, and I felt like if I had to be there, at least I could generate talking points for this other guy.) He kind of hemmed and hawed and finally said that he didn't know how to hook up the DVD player so why didn't we just watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory because that's his favorite movie.

Fine, I said. Willy Wonka it is.

"But," he said, "would you mind if we fast-forward through the sad parts?"

"The sad parts?"

"Yeah, you know. Like when Charlie isn't finding the ticket... and there's that song?"


So as we're watching the movie sans sad parts, I'm strategically angling myself away from this guy on the couch and he's strategically angling himself toward me.

Finally he makes his move and kisses me. I'm polite but obviously not into it. He starts trying to feel me up as I'm backing away. I say, "Look, I just don't do this on a first date." He says, "What, are you some kind of freakish prude?"

Yes. I am in fact some kind of freakish prude.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bad Blogs Bad Blogs Watcha Gonna Do?

I've been thinking about the questions raised by Pen and M all day, and I just want to say that this response is postponing more serious blogging, such as telling you all about the time I went on the blind date with the hearing aid guy.

But seriously, though I don't consider my blog in a state of demise, I've been thinking about what a good blog is and does and why I bother, etc. I keep coming back to something that Mendacious (I think) raised about putting up a wall, and also the commonly realized problem of blogging, which is of course, who is reading it. I mean, I think we all do this because someone's reading. I think that generally we pretend not to care, but I don't think I could do it if no one were reading. I don't mean that in a narcissistic way, like I think my blog matters and really needs to reach people. I mean it in the way that I needed to go to school for writing in order to write. I'm not one of those special people who is just born to write and would die if they weren't writing. I write because there is a deadline, because someone is expecting something of me. I'm plagued by guilt if I let the blog go for a couple of days because it's readers that keep me going. If they wandered off...well, I think I would, too.

And yet, it's totally a double edged sword. I want the readers but then...I don't want some readers. I think I've been lucky in that my bosses and co-workers are very likely NOT reading this. My bosses for sure. If the other two teachers read it, I would feel odd, but ok with it I suppose. Also, I feel confident that my husband's family is not reading the blog. I'm pretty sure that my mom is reading this, though I asked her not to so that I would feel free to swear and blog about how EVERYONE knows what that filet of fish sandwich commercial is about. But even so, I feel like she got her caveat about it, and if she wants to read it, so be it.

But if there is a wall in my blog, a time when I'm not telling you what I'm really thinking about, it has to do with the 7 years before I arrived in Wilmington. And I don't blog about that because I am afraid of who will read it.

I think that in general, I am a pretty wide open person and that those of you who know me would agree that reading the blog is often like talking to me. I'm kind of loud and when I get nervous I make fun of myself. I think too hard about certain things and not enough about others. If there's a part of me that's not here, it's the part that is wide-open emotionally, always willing to talk about anything.

I left a lot behind in Greensboro. A lot of people I care about very much. And I have a great deal of unresolved feelings about that time. Lately that's been very much with me. And I wonder if it's fine that I don't talk about that here. Like Daisy said, it's personal. And that doesn't mean that some of my readers aren't my closest friends, but some of these things maybe aren't for general consumption. But should they be? Would I feel better if I got to say some of the things I've only been thinking inside? Would the possibility that they'd ever know any of those things feel freeing instead of terrifying?

I don't blog about my first marriage because I want to protect my husband, who does read this, from knowing more than he feels comfortable knowing. I don't blog about it because my first husband has an extremely uncommon first name, and if I wrote it and he googled himself (as we all do) he'd see it. I don't blog about it because it hurts and I'm scared (even though some part of me thinks that maybe I was always meant to write about it) and I don't blog about it because I'm afraid that the people who stayed friends with him will read it and judge me. But lately I've felt this great emptiness inside me that has to do with never speaking of anything from that time. It's as if by never writing about it, I've erased it from my personal history. Every time I say, "I used to know this guy who..." or "When I lived in the Greensboro we..." I feel this great sadness that I cannot name my old friends and family by name, that slowly, I'm forgetting them. Which is dangerous, because I was one of them. I can't afford to forget myself.

I don't know what I thought I would do with this blog when I started it. It doesn't do much but represent me as I see me. I haven't decided yet how fully that will be.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bad Boys Bad Boys Watcha Gonna Do?

So, today was my little sister-in-law's 14th birthday. As Thomas and I were driving to Southport, laden with Harry Potter posters and prop reproductions, we were talking about the kinds of things we did when we were 14 and how frightening it is to us that this is Jessica's age now. Jessica is homeschooled, and at heart, she is much younger than 14. She has lived in Southport (and Boiling Spring Lakes) her whole life, and many of her world views are (quite understandably) drawn from living in a small town with no influence on her outside the family.

Now, I definitely do NOT want to think about Jessica even considering some of the things that Thomas and I did at 14, but we're growing more aware that in 4 years, Jessica will graduate from high school and that it's time to start preparing her a little more for the real world. Also, we'd like to see her exposed to more different kinds of people and ideas, so that when she's in a position to make choices about who she is and what she believes, she'll have more than one idea to choose from.

So, we've been thinking about inviting her down for the weekend a couple of times a year. We thought about music we think she should hear, CDs of our we'd like to burn for her, movies we'd like to watch with her. And naturally, I thought of the movies I watched and loved at 14 (and still love): The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing and Stand by Me. Still 3 of my all time favorite and, I think, the only movies that I actually own independantly of Thomas's sprawling DVD collection.

And then I started thinking about how likely it is that my ideas about who is attractive and what is desirable came from these movies. I saw all of these when I was very young and nursed huge and lasting crushes on John Bender, Johnny Castle and Chris Chambers. I started thinking about the stereotype that "girls don't like nice guys," which has actually always been true in my case and has led to disastrous situations right and left until I met and married the only guy I've ever dated who wasn't moody, unmotivated or crazy.

I don't know where that came from in me, as my dad was and is a very straight-laced nice guy who I have always idolized, yet there it is. And today I thought, isn't it just possible that these movies are where this came from? I mean, in each one we have the sort of "boy from the wrong side of the tracks," but he's not really so bad, is he? He's sort of...wounded. And sort of...sweet. And definitely hot.

I know that I can't protect Jessica from the stereotypes of the world and that she'll encounter all this stuff anyway whether I want her too or not. And probably she should see these things with people who've thought about them and can talk to her about them... but still, who wants that? When I was 13 and saw The Breakfast Club for the first time, I didn't want anyone sitting around and analyzing with me why bad boys are hot and why we shouldn't pursue them. I just wanted to marry John Bender and save him and make him love me.

When I think about all the atrocities I've committed toward myself and others in the name of saving someone and making him love me, I want to ban these movies forever. Still, isn't it time she thought someone other than Harry Potter was cute?

Friday, October 06, 2006


Well, seemingly thanks to some strange anti-hangover pill that I was given yesterday at Lula's, I'm getting over the cold. Yes, I know. What was I doing at the bar with a cold? What was I doing taking strange herbal supplements given to me by people I only know from drinking? But hey, I feel good. And it's been a while.

In sad news, Thomas's aunt Mickie passed away yesterday morning. I'm just thankful that she didn't have to suffer indefinitely on life-support and that her husband was spared the pain of those kinds of choices.

Thomas and I are planning our very exciting halloween costumes. I won't tell you what it is yet, but I'll post pictures as soon as they are complete.

Who is dressing up this year? What as?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

First Flu of the New School Year

Ah, it so sucks to be me right now. It happens every year--at least this year I got a month in before I was struck down. This is the drawback of teaching 24 little petri dishes every day...letting them count on my fingers, holding their grimy little hands...knowing they are picking their noses all day and probably wiping on the folders that I take home every night. Guh.

Thomas's aunt had a heart attack yesterday...we're still waiting for news. I was surprised last night to find how strongly I react to hospitals these days. I mean, I'm sure everyone dislikes them, but they make me feel tiny and wretched.

This is not quite the week I was hoping for...hope you all are doing better...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Side of the Road Antics

What is up with political picketing?
As I'm sure many Wilmingtonians noticed today, pretty much the entirety of College Road between UNCW and Wrightsville was blanketed with pro-life people holding signs.

What are these people trying to accomplish? Do they think that holding a sign that says "Abortion kills Children" up to the side of the road is going to make me say to myself, "Hmm. Maybe abortion does kill children?" Because otherwise, I see no point. If your feelings are strong, spend all day writing your representatives. Open an adoption counselling center. Talk to at-risk teenagers. But don't stand by the side of the road looking smug and doing NOTHING except making me want to run my car off the road and see how many of you I can take out before the car gives out. Because at least that would be DOING something.

Just after we (finally) got off College, we saw two young girls hanging out with the cow on Wrightsville Avenue. I love that cow, but I always wonder how it manages to survive the attentions of its fans. My brother in law has a picture of himself riding the cow and holding a 40, as I'm sure many of us do. These girls were taking off their shirts and riding the cow. Who does this at 3 on a Sunday afternoon? They were flashing the cow!!

I told Thomas that the way you know we're too old to mess with the cow is that we'd have to take a cab to it, because neither one of us will drive if we've been drinking. "Yes, I need a taxi to the cow on Wrightsville Avenue, please." But then, just that phone call sounds like fun.