Friday, April 29, 2011

Come on baby, light my fire.

There was a time in my life where I attempted to smoke. And the occasions in which these attempts arose were primarily liquor- laced. I was not an actual smoker but let's face it, alcohol has been helping us make poor decisions for centuries. 

And then I tried something new. A spicy, sweet, tasty treat. The clove cigarette.  My best girlfriends in college, Muppet, KitKat, KariO and Smack and I would go in our rooms and put towels beneath the door (as if that flimsy cotton would stop that super strong stench from seeping out in the hall. Why not smoke the ganja? Or cat shat. Those two things smell just as mysterious and secretive.) But oh how we loved to feel like superstars, after all, to us the clove cigarette was the smoking choice of the classy lassy.  The good thing about clove cigarettes is you really could not smoke many of them. Three in a row and your mouth, throat and lungs would bleed. 

Ironically, I detested the smell and taste of regular cigarettes but the potpourri cigarette? Slide me a that sorority cup full of Keystone and apparently, I am Puff the Magic Dragon. 

But this bad habit stuck with me off and on post-undergrad, post-grad school AND my move to Atlanta.  One night my girlfriend and I are out at a fab restaurant / bar (this was years ago and before the sweeping smoking ban across America). As we were all dolled up and smoking our clove cigarettes, one of the surly bartenders actually yells: WHO THE F___ IS SMOKING THAT _____ CLOVE ______ CIGARETTE?  Well, several eyes turn towards us. Our feeble smiles are met with  GET THE ________ OUT OF THIS  BAR!  Ouch. Apparently, we did not need to offer him one. 

And yes, when he said Get the F out he really and truly meant it. Excuse me, according to the quality show Cops, you only get thrown out of bars if you 1. start a fight 2. wear cut off jean shorts 3. remove your shirt 4. Say things like "F the Po-Po" 5. are a man because women who do nothing OR do ALL of those things simultaneously get asked to stand up on TOP of the bar and dance.

Fast forward to the next year and at yet another sultry lounge with guys and dolls, I am all glammed up (in my opinion) and feeling sassy. I light up my fancy Turkish imported clove cigarette and smoke it up like an episode of Mad Men. A fabulous girl in a smashing dress turns toward me and asks, "Oh, is that a clove cigarette?"

I answer, "oui" with a smile.  She says, "I used to love those! I smoked them in 8th grade!"

The thing is, she wasn't being mean. But here was my sickly sweet smoky parade and her "8th grade" comment was the rain all upon it.  Did it deter me? Not quite yet. 

Later that year, I noticed that I was getting headaches, wretched and frequent. A friend said one night after I inhaled some Advil that perhaps the disgusting clove cigarette, albeit occasional, was the culprit.  Why yes, I believe you are right.  And I never touched another one. 

Now the simple smell of cigarette smoke ails me. And the smokers are banned from virtually every restaurant and bar in the U.S. The rule doesn't make it any easier for true smokers but it certainly makes me appreciate I am over my clove cigarette phase.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Apparently this is still a hot topic: penis size

I remember the first conversation I had with girlfriends about penis size. I wish it was swanky and luxe like Carrie Bradshaw and friends but no, it was not. I was with my two best friends from childhood, Tigger and Taz, and the conversation involved discussion of a boy rumored to possess a penis as big as a Coke bottle. Because we were naive and none of us had even seen a penis, we didn't know if that meant it was 1. round  2. bottle shaped  3. clear or 4. had a cap on it. YOWZA.

I will admit we got a Coke bottle, studied it, measured it, and then reiterated: YOWZA.

I further admit there has been many discussions about penis size since then ranging from the initial rudimentary conversations involving: seeing a penis or not seeing a penis to later discussion involving wanting to see a certain person's penis or NOT wanting to see a certain person's penis.  I will spare you all the rudimentary conversations that included dialogue on what in the world did you do with the penis once you did see it. That is an entirely different blog post.

I think most people, at some social setting involving a group of friends or alcohol (or both) had a discussion about penis size. Men as well as women. Were all of our conversations sweet? NO. But I directly correlate classiness about this topic to age. The younger you are, the worse it is. But I have not had a conversation about this with girlfriends in a long, long time. Apparently, it is still a hot topic.

Proof: Reading a magazine the other night, I saw a blurb about an online condom company called Condomania that makes custom-fitting condoms. Good for you Condomania. Better fit = better protection and what certainly must be better feel.  BUT, the article also stated Condomania gathered the results from over 27,000 men who ordered said condoms and utilized the "Fit Kit" to measure their cash and prizes. Condomania released this information which listed New Orleans as the home of the men with the largest penises. Great you have a Fit Kit and a custom fitting prophylactic but really? Releasing the top 20 locations by penis size? And no, I was not reading Men's Health OR Cosmopolitan.  What a weird compilation to put together.

Further proof: I went to the gym the other night after work. In the locker room, which was bustling and full, two women were discussing penis size. In detail. And loudly. Here is the thing, talk about whatever you want to talk about but there are a few places you might want to monitor your chatter: Elevator, waiting room, and locker room. Because everyone does not know you and EVERYONE can hear you. However, these two were in deep detail and this is how it went down.

Girl 1: blah blah blah, it was so little
Girl 2: snark snark snark
Girl 1: He should have had to wear a button that said, "I have a tiny d*ck" so I would never have gone out to dinner with him.
Girl 2: Guffaw guffaw guffaw.
Girl 1: Men should have to tell their junk size up front so I don't have to waste my time. 

Oh, I get it. You directly correlate penis size to your interest in  a man. Well, that is the beauty of preferences. Oh, and then I slid my Judgy-Pants on, one size fits all. I think there is discretion, there is preference, and then there is just being a bitch. Being a loud bitch in a public space is even better. And while you are yapping about the penis situation ladies, how about you both put your undergarments on? And then skedaddle. While I tried to hurry to get out of work clothes into work-out clothes, I am not Superman so I enjoyed your loud and long conversation very little. Oh, and did you notice some of those sidelong glances girls? Those are the eyes of the UNCOMFORTABLE.

And nevermind that I have a son who will become a young man with a penis that will one day be discussed either positively or negatively by someone. However, while I had my judgy-pants on nice and snug I thought it would be hilarious in the particular circumstance of these two women if a man's penis size was directly correlated to:

a. How much he ACTUALLY liked you.
b. Likelihood you would EVER meet his parents.
c. Probability he would take you to a work function.
d. How much he really wanted to talk to you about YOUR day and YOUR feelings.

But maybe this is all preparation for me since I am a parent to a boy. While he is not talking about the size of his penis (yet) he certainly loves talking about it.

No penis comments needed. haha.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Perhaps you should have asked, "What Would Jesus Do?"

What Would Jesus Do? Many of us have heard this catchphrase made popular in the 1990's. I have seen it printed on t-shirts, cups and bracelets. You know who is NOT familiar with this expression? The person behind this photo.

I came across this is a newspaper. Colorful holy figurine? Why yes. Pure and sacred? Not exactly. While this homage to Jesus Christ certainly appears lovely, the carefully painted 6 lb statue is actually made of cocaine which was seized during transport across the border into the US.

A man was arrested for this artistry. Now, this might have been an ideal time Mr. Cocaine Statue Maker to ask yourself, "What Would Jesus Do?"  Because I am pretty sure even the the non-believer might think a cocaine Jesus isn't winning any prizes at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art OR even the most liberal houses of worship but instead, will get you a special invite to the Pokey. Or the Playboy Mansion. Or Charlie Sheen's House. Or Hell  (that is if Hell and Charlie Sheen's house are not synonymous.)

However, from a purely aesthetic vantage point, WOW, Mr. Cocaine Statue Maker, you have some skills.

And while I thought I was quite a kick-ass Mommy when I spent several hours baking these sugar cookies, frosting them with a Raspberry Lemonade frosting, and assembling dozens of bunny faces for MiniMac's class Easter party, perhaps you can come over next April and show me how to craft a 3D Easter Bunny!

Actually, maybe we can Skype, that might be safer. Or better yet, start an art blog and post the instructions for me.

For all of you celebrating Easter, enjoy every minute. Have a gorgeous weekend.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to suck at using Craig’s List

I am sure many of you have utilized Craig’s List, the centralized network of online communities where you can buy, sell, borrow, hire and until recently, even find some nookie.

The FOR SALE section of Craig's List is the community of which I am most familiar. And it is set up to be a very simple process. Person A posts some information, Person B responds to that information. All very straightforward especially when you want to sell something and someone wants to buy it.  A few emails may be exchanged. We have sold dozens of things from furniture to baby items; moost of these items have sold the same day we have posted. We must be batting 1000 percent because all of our previous email exchanges and transactions have been straight-forward and easy.

Until last weekend. 

When we met Ann. What an interesting experience. Or what I like to call “How to suck at using Craig’s List."

We are selling something on Craig’s list. I posted pics, gave a clear description and the asking price. We have three identical items and the first one sold the same day I posted it. The second one garnered many emails including one from Ann. She wanted to know if we would sell it for HALF the listed price. No, I did not list “This price or best offer” but good for you, Ann, driving a bargain. I didn’t respond. She sent me another email a day later inquiring if I would take 55% of the asking price but also wrote “one way or another the least you can do is reply to my email.”

No Ann, the least I can do is NOT reply to your email because technically that is LESS THAN actually replying to your email. NOT replying is the option I chose the first time. And incidentally, it was VERY easy. And my lack of response is your answer which you should interpret as NO I will not take half the asking price.  I have to say I didn’t love Ann’s email but listen, I am trying to sell something she has potential interest in buying. But Ann was giving me a headache so I opted not to respond.

Ann then sends me an email basically asking if I will take 50 dollars less than asking price “if she pays in cash.” Well, you won’t get a prize for being a good reader Ann because the posting clearly said CASH ONLY but let’s wrap this party up which will benefit us by 1. Selling the item and 2. exchanging no further emails with Ann.  I reply yes and ask her when she would like to come and pick it up.

She replies, “Well, I live in Athens (80 miles East of Atlanta) and could we PLEASE BRING IT TO HER THE NEXT TIME WE ARE IN ATHENS?

1.       We never even mentioned going to Athens. EVER.
2.      We never mentioned delivery. EVER
3.      I might have called Ann a name after reading this email.

I replied that we were not able to deliver it and it would need to be picked up. She replied “Send me your number and I will pick it up in the next couple of weeks.” Really Ann? This might have involved more name-calling on my part. I let her know in a nice way, we are selling it to the first person who pays for it.

Ann then asks me for my cell number which I send and ask her to coordinate with me ahead of time since we had a jam packed weekend. No response. No call.

Saturday afternoon I receive a call from Ann. She is in Atlanta she “thinks” Well, Ann, I am at the grandparents house with MiniMac having EasterEggapalooza. Thanks for “coordinating with me ahead of time" like I *$#&#$^@)!@) politely requested. Oh, and how come I wrote she is in Atlanta, she “thinks” because of this:

Me: This is JennyMac
Ann: Hello. This is Ann X. I am in Atlanta. I think.
Me: OH, I am so sorry I am not home.
Ann: Oh, I told you I was going to call you.
Me: Right. Where exactly are you?
Ann: I am not sure. On an interstate.
Me (WOW) Are you on 75? 85? 
Ann: 75..maybe.
Me: Where on 75?
Ann: I am heading North on 75. 
Me: Are you coming from Athens?
Ann: Yes. 
Me: Well, North on 75 would mean you are south of Atlanta. Not East.
Ann: OH. 
Me: Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Macarena!

So we finally get coordinated and Ann comes to our house. I like Ann VERY LITTLE I have a feeling. She looks at the item which is in almost perfect condition and looks exactly like the photographs she saw but she is confused and doesn’t think it is the same item. REALLY?  And then she wanted to debate it with me. And ask 2000 questions. You know what question I wanted to ask How quickly are you going to leave? which can be interpreted as Get the _____ out of my house. 

Listen, if you suck at being a buyer on Craig's list, it might be fair to say you suck at many other things like:

1. opening cereal boxes
2. getting yourself dressed
3. reading and interpreting your mail
4. Most of the rest of life

My  husband's final comment was "I hope the car seat is not for her." AMEN.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Take A Bite Of: JennyMac's Sea Salt Caramel Oatmeal Cookies

I love sharing recipes with my Mom and then adding a little modern update. By request, these buttery crisp cookies are full of oatmeal so they are practically wholesome! For a bake sale at MiniMac's school this weekend, I took a recipe from my Mom for oatmeal cookies and did a modern twist by adding sea salt caramel after they baked and cooled. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

JennyMac's Sea Salt Caramel Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temp (we use Land O'Lakes)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups of Quaker Oats (I use Old Fashion or Quick)
1 cup raisins (an option used by my Mom which I don't like. LOL) 
You can also add 1 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream butter and sugars very well. 
Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat well. 
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. 
Slowly stir in oats. 
Drop by rounded tablespoon (we both use a small ice cream scoop)onto an ungreased cookie sheets. 
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. 
Cool 1 minute on sheet, remove to wire rack.
Allow to cool completely before adding caramel.  

The caramel recipe is the one I use in my Sea Salt Caramel Brownie recipe. You can use a fork or put it into a container with a spout to do a drizzle across the top of each cookie. I use fleur de sel to finish them which is NOT the same as regular salt. Use sea salt and you only need a small sprinkle to truly enhance the flavor of the caramel. Fleur de sel is a particular french brand I purchase. You can opt for a high end brand found at Whole Foods OR look for McCormick's brand at your grocery store.  

Comments off. Go forth and bake!

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to make people smile

Our son's school has a big spring event every year and one component of the event is a big bake sale. How much did I LOVE being asked by multiple teachers to bake some goods for the event? VERY much.

I made my favorite Sea Salt Caramel Brownie by request. And I wanted to mix it up a bit. I used my Mom's Oatmeal Cookie recipe and added Sea Salt Caramel to those as well. YUM. And I also made perhaps my new favorite cookie: Orange Kissed Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese. YUM. 

So I spend hours last night baking, bagging, ribboning, tagging all the treats and box them up for the trip to school this am. I also decide to bring in a dozen or more of each to the office this morning.

One easy way to make people smile? Pass out homemade baked goods first thing Friday morning at your office instead of working. Especially when you work with great people who LOVE baked goods!

I was already having a great morning because 1. great sleep. 2. awesome AM workout. 3. super cute and giggling boy in my house this am. 4. handsome (albeit sleepy) husband but still made my tea for me just the way I like it. 5. We allowed MiniMac to bring his guitar to school for "Toy Share Day" even though it is clearly not a toy (and you, Bonkers McNewKid better NOT even touch it!) During the commute to school, MiniMac and I were at a stoplight, listening (and rocking out) to Joe Walsh sing Rocky Mountain Way. Windows slightly down to feel the awesome morning breeze and both of us belting out the lyrics at top volume, and MiniMac strumming away on his guitar which is bigger than him and his booster seat combined. A truck next to us caught the corner of my eye and the driver motioned me to put down the passenger window. I did and the driver told me, "That is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. That tiny kid playing that big guitar!" I replied, "I think so too!"

Another way to make people smile? Take a minute to acknowledge something important to them.

I hope you have a smile-filled Friday (and maybe a cookie or two makes its way on your agenda as well.)

Have a fabulous weekend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Old cows can learn new tricks...

I know you might not believe what you are seeing. Or maybe you do. This is 15-year- old Regina Mayer and her cow, Luna. Regina initially asked her parents for a horse. They said, “No.” Regina literally looked in her own back yard and opted to train Luna to become her riding (and jumping) mate.

There are so many things I like about this situation.

1.   Instead of being a pissy pants pouty-face teenage girl (those exist, right?) she decided to be resourceful.
2.   Instead of lamenting that “all of the OTHER teenage girls in Laufen, Germany have a horse, why don’t I?!?!?!?!”, she chose to be creative.
3.   She spent hours and hours of training to teach Luna (and apparently, she also utilized “tons of treats” and of course, lots of love.
4.  I just discovered an old cow CAN learn new tricks.
5.  And most importantly, MY WORD, teenage girls are crafty. You have to be completely explicit with them when telling them NO!

Bravo Regina. I like your moxie and your style. And you remind me of another spunky girl (or two, or three, or dozens) who don't simply take "No" for an answer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to be polite to an A-hole.

On my way to run two days ago, I patiently waited at the crosswalk for cars to pass to make my way into the park. I stood next to two men, also waiting to cross. Nevermind these two grown men were both drinking cans of crappy beer but I chalked it up to the fact they were likely crossing the street to the ball fields.

As we waited, one of them in a very snide and unpleasant tone, "Those guys have it so easy. I wish I could get paid to stand outside all day collecting money in a boot." He is referring to four firefighters standing on the center lanes at this four-way cross walk. His friend says, "That and posing for calendars." They guffawed to themselves. He then turns to me and asks, "Wouldn't you just love to have that job?"

Sometimes I find myself in situations that invoke the fight or flight response. Not the standard biological response but more the response of "shall I fight with idiocy or shall I take flight from the band of idiocy in which I am currently encircled." Sometimes you need to take the high road. Sometimes you need to just smile and nod. Sometimes you just have to learn to be polite to an arsehole.

So here is my response:

"Oh that job? Yes, I would LOVE that job. Because outside of the four or five hours they spend outside boot in hand collecting much needed donations, they spend the rest of their professional time running into BURNING buildings. You know why they do that? To save people's lives. To remove people from the home before the ceilings cave in and to douse the entire mess with water in an attempt to save as many of your personal items as possible including crap you don't even need and all your awesome pictures from that one trip to the Grand Canyon. And what a great job where your spouse and children worry for your safety every time you leave the house. Oh, and do you know WHY they look good enough to be in calendars? Because they work out all the time so they can carry people out of the inferno. That all sounds ideal. When can I be recruited???"

So how do you act politely to an arsehole? Clearly, I would not know in this case. They stared and I think one of them had their mouth open a bit. We all missed the crosswalk light so I enjoyed standing with them even longer than necessary.

Perhaps the sarcasm spraying out of my mouth similar to a firehouse stunned them.The friend merely muttered, "Sorry." My Father is a retired policeman. Maybe I have a soft spot for law enforcement and fire fighters; occupations that including a very high risk of death. Maybe these two had it coming. Or maybe I just felt like spritzing the whole situation in a little combination of sass and la bitchilita. Either way, how to be polite to an arsehole is something I will have to practice in the future.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Praying for colons

I have never written about religion or my religious beliefs on my blog. I am not starting today but I will tell you I pray every day. I don’t pray for things like handbags, promotions or please God let us sell these houses one day (although, that would be a good one, too bad thousands of others are already doing that so we would be way down the line.) But, my prayers are focused on safety for my family, patience (not quite fulfilled yet) and primarily special measures for people I know who need it.

As I wrapped up my night on Wednesday, I was praying for several people. Afterward I realized, that was a first: praying for colons. Well, not really colons plural but a colon, singular.

My older brother had a health scare. There were appointments. There were discussions. And there were additional health scares including a hospitalization while he was on vacation in Hawaii. He is very private about this situation but I realized that you would not know him if he was sitting next to you and those of his friends who read my blog already know this situation.

My brother has taken a multi-month leave of absence and flown home to have medical attention in Seattle. Many appointments, many discussions, and many unknowns. The situation took a recent turn. Procedures were mentioned as solutions but those procedures seemed a little overwhelming. And words like “colon cancer” were also used which scared me and made me wish we could simply and immediately return to talking about the procedures. I would take the procedures over the other and it isn’t even my colon.

When he had a conversation with a doctor and the word ‘cancer’ was used, I can’t fathom how he must have felt. When he relayed the conversation to me, he was completely composed. But I know him well enough to detect his voice sounded like it bounced over gravel a few times before finally reaching my ear.  When I hung up, I called my Mom because I knew she would be filled with angst incomparable to mother angst when your child breaks a leg or falls off a bicycle.

And when we are relayed information full of dark gaps of unknowns, we all react differently. Some are pragmatic, some are aloof, and some are scared silly. Sometimes a combination of all of those elements. My initial response was a feeling of illness. My secondary resposne was he isn't going anywhere. Seriously. Even though he tells some terrible jokes (admit it) and is a fairly bad dancer (stop it, you know its true) he is one of the most generous, heartfelt, capable and giving people I know. Plus he must continue to instill his musical genius and talent in my child.

My brother is in his early 40’s. And having a health scare is hard enough but ‘cancer’ is not a welcome word in any house, in any heart, at any age. And having multiple conversations with him about it, I realized that humor can help but no amount of joking actually builds a ladder to pull someone out of the situation. The only thing he needed was information and support. (And listen, it is pretty easy to make jokes about colons..I mean come ON, it is practically a gimme. )

And men, while I don't envy you in getting your colon checked, you must do it. A dear friend of my Mom's has colon cancer and it could have been addressed much earlier but he never had it checked until it was well past the initial discovery. I know, it isn't a tickle party. But get the screening. It could save your life.

Good news this week: It is NOT cancer. Yesterday included a variety of tests that will hopefully lead to an answer in the very near-term. In the interim, I will continue praying for the colon.