I am thirty five years old, five feet, seven inches tall, and am wearing a pair of size eight jeans. The fact that I had to write this standing up, because I can neither bend nor breathe is irrelevant.
Go Marly. Go Marly. It's your birthday...
That's me - young and hip. Thirty five is the new fifteen.
Well, it's time. Exactly thirty-five years ago this minute, my mother changed the world* by giving birth to me. And, as I was a whopping nine pounds and four ounces at birth, that was certainly not an easy feat. But my mother, liar that she is, claims that it was a wonderful thing, and she doesn't remember the pain. I also do not have any idea for how long my mother was in labor, because she is just not that type of mother - you know, they type that claims that the goodness of your behavior should be directly proportional to the number of hours she panted and huffed through contractions. Yeah, my mom's pretty cool like that. And don't even get me started on my Daddy. ;)
I'm pretty lucky to have them. And to hear them tell it, pretty lucky to be alive after putting them through the torture that turned out to be several years of potty-training. Yeah, I know, what comes around goes around, and I'm just praying that God chooses to be merciful when it's time to start training JJ. But all in all, I think I turned out okay. And I'm guessing they think so too, because they drive 1,500 miles (each way) to see me several times a year (as they did even before JJ, thankyouverymuch).
So, if you happen to be holding a glass, please raise it with me in toast to two very wonderful people who are responsible for me being able to celebrate yet another birthday. Yay, Mom and Dad, your baby is thirty five today! Thank you!
*That my sound a bit conceited, but really, the fact that I am using disposable diapers for JJ is enough for some tree-hugger somewhere to claim that I am single-handedly destroying the earth. So, be it good or bad (probably more bad), yes, I am creating some type of impact.
My birthday is coming up, and one of our local television stations has a "Birthday Club". If you register on their site, they'll enter you in a drawing for a free pizza on your birthday. You just have to tune in at 5:00 AM to watch their Birthday Greetings and see if you're a winner.
Now, maybe it's just me, but if I have to be up at 5:00 AM on my birthday, I'm thinking we'll already be well on the way to negating that "happy" part.
Our fairly large house is segmented into many smaller areas by a great number of baby gates. Two of our cats have figured out that, with their cat-like (perhaps in this case, I should call it cat-esque, because they are, after all, actually cats) agility, they can easily leap over the three-foot annoyances. The other two cats have not been able to figure this out. Or, maybe it could be that when a cat has a ten-pound frame, and insists on carrying around twenty pounds with it, that cat's agility is slightly less impressive.
Regardless, they are very angry about it. And angry cats are not exactly quiet.
Well, apparently my little experiment failed. Quite frankly, I'm a little relieved. Really, I'm not good at portraying my political thoughts as being much deeper than your average mud puddle after a light rain. It's unfortunate, but I generally put my faith in the one who lies to me least, because then I'll know what to expect most of the time. And experience has taught me that definitely getting what you expect can be more comforting than maybe getting what you want.
So I'll lay off of the cold medicine, and JJ (aka Captain BoogerSnots) and I will get back to the very real and urgent business of watching John roto-till the bad spots in the front lawn.
This one has been brewing for a while, but a conversation between John and his brother spurred me to write it down. Imagine with me...
You give a car to a 16-year-old boy. Now, it seems this boy has spent his life elsewhere (in a third-world country, in a deeply Amish community, under a rock, wherever) because he has never before seen a car. So, after you declare, "This is your car!", one of several scenarios can play out. Here are a few options:
Scenario 1: You introduce the young boy to his machine. You take the time to explain all of the mechanics of an automobile - the key goes in here, the accelerator is the vertical pedal on the right, this lever makes the turn signals blink, gas goes in the tank via this hole, etc. You then explain the rules of the road to this boy - we drive on the right, red means stop, green means go, you can go faster on the interstate than in a neighborhood, etc. Lastly, you put the parts together, and teach this young man to drive, both by taking him for a ride on the road, and then by riding with him as he is behind the wheel.
Now, this entire process would take a lot of time and energy. You might miss a couple of dinners with your family, but ultimately, you will have given this person a great gift that he will be able to use the rest of his life. He will eventually be able to use this car and his driving ability to get to school, and later, to work. And who knows, you may someday be injured, or have car trouble, and he will be able to drive you to your destination.
Scenario 2: You go back into your house, have dinner with your family, and then all sit down to watch a movie. The young boy teaches himself to drive, and you occasionally wave as you see him on the road.
Scenario 3: You go back into your house, have dinner with your family, and then all sit down to watch a movie. A neighbor (who dislikes you) befriends the young boy, and explains to him that you are a bad person for just giving him this machine, and then leaving him to figure it out by himself. This neighbor nurtures the boy's anger toward you while teaching him to drive. And by the time the boy has learned to operate the car, his hatred is such that he drives through your picture window and kills your family in front of the television.
Obviously, this is all a dramatization, but think about it.
Thanks to our unfortunate employment status and the awesome tutelage, ideas, and advice from many of the wonderful people who's blogs are listed under "Handy Places" to the right there, I have become quite the money-saving monster. As a matter of fact, I have been driving John completely bonkers with my constant coupon clipping, ad matching, and weekly shopping trips in which I manage to bring home bags of things we actually need for mere pennies.
Just last night, we were discussing how John's brand name medications retailed at about $1,200 a month, but with insurance, we were only paying a little over $100 for them. Without insurance, I was afraid we'd have to have him put down. But thanks to generics, some understanding doctors and nurses, and a couple of prescription plans it took me the better part of a day to find, we are now paying just over $100 a month- without insurance.
John: Yes, you certainly have become the Queen of Cheap.
I appear to be your average, everyday person. The girl next door, if you will. If you were to see me in my usual uniform of jeans, a hooded sweatshirt, and a pair of sneakers, you'd probably think there's some little kid's mom, or perhaps even she's a little old to be a college student. Now, if you were to see me in wearing makeup and a suit, you'd probably think she works in an office somewhere, or maybe she's somebody's boss. And if you were to see me all decked out in my leathers, riding boots, and a helmet, you'd most likely think her husband's a biker, and that would be true. But here's where appearances can be tricky... because most of you would probably gasp in shock as I hopped on my Harley and rode off into the sunset. And I totally get off on that.
A few summers ago, I had the opportunity to speak for my non-profit organization at our local minor-league sports stadium. It's not easy to address a crowd of a few thousand people and ask them to open their hearts for a cause. But I got lucky - it was "Biker Night". So I stood there in my polo and khaki shorts, with my blond curls in a ponytail, and called them "My fellow bikers", and suddenly, I was speaking with friends.
My motorcycle means a lot more to me than simply being a mode of transportation. I own a 2003 Harley Davidson Gold Key Anniversary Edition V-Rod. It is part of my being, and it is part of my marriage.
I didn't start out as a biker - John taught me to love the open road. When we started dating, the first thing he bought me was a set of riding leathers, so I could ride with him in almost any weather. For my 30th birthday, he bought me a Sportster. That is the die-hard biker that is John. And you know it just by looking at him. What you don't see is the immense heart that beats within the biker.
* A few years ago, a friend found himself homeless when his house burned down on Christmas Eve. John and several other bikers quickly organized a ride through frigid temperatures to raise money to help him get back on his feet.
* John had a sport bike that he put up for sale around the time we got married. A kid (early-mid twenties) came to look at it. He fell in love with the bike, but really couldn't afford what John was asking. John sold him the bike for a lot less than he should have, because he wanted to see the kid be able to ride something he loved.
* Not long ago, John heard that a biker-friend of his had been in a serious motorcycle accident, and was in the hospital a few hours away. John didn't think twice. He hopped in his truck and went to him, stopping at a Harley shop to pick up a T-shirt for this injured biker. When he arrived at the hospital, he found a man who was near death - a man that he didn't know. He just happened to have the same (unusual) name as his friend. John gave him the shirt and wished him well. When I asked why he didn't just return the shirt to the store, he said, "I bought the shirt for an injured biker, and that's what that poor guy was."
John is the epitome of the big, burly, biker heart. And it is that heart that is driving this most difficult decision. His pride in being the best man he can be, and taking care of the needs of his family is overshadowing his pride in the mechanical extension of himself - his motorcycle. John owns a 2002 Harley Davidson Softail Deuce which he has customized to perfection.
I look forward to the day when I can explain to JJ what makes a real man. And how I will be so very proud of him if he grows up to be anything like his father.
As I'm sure you've read, yesterday sucked worse than a Hoover... or even a Dirt Devil. It was like a Dyson - constant, unrelenting suction with the super-ability to pull massive tangles of cat and dog hair from the far corners of the room with its awesome vacuum force. But then, late last night, the machine run by angry unemployment gnomes was turned off by the hand of a dear, sweet blog-angel. Her name is Carrie, and she is the creator of Money Saving Methods. She gave me this:
Not only does she help me save (and even make a little) money, but she also thinks I'm funny. And in the mass of disappointment that was yesterday, I really, really needed someone to remind me of the brighter, funny side of life. So, today I am appreciating my new friend Carrie, with her wonderful timing - and excellent taste. ;)