Living Green (or not)

I’ve been remiss with my posting.

But I have an excuse, NO POWER!!  Thanks to the freak snow storm that hit us before Halloween.  Maybe not so weird at the North Pole, but for the Philadelphia area, yeah, it’s weird.  Normally, when our power goes out it pops back on in about 15 minutes or less.  This time it went out for pretty much the whole weekend.  I used the experience as a test…..I’ll explain why.

About a year ago I read a book by William Powers called “Twelve by Twelve.”  In it, the author describes his experience of living in a twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot cabin without running water or electricity in a rural area of North Carolina – as he describes it, “a one-room cabin off the grid and beyond the American Dream.”  After a decade of aid and conservation work in Africa and Latin America, Powers returned to his parents’ home in New York city and felt completely disillusioned by the changes he saw, so he shacked up in a friend’s cabin to discover how humanity could “transition to gentler, more responsible ways of living by replacing attachment to things with deeper relationships to people, nature, and self.”  Some people may fantasize about escaping it all with a trip to the Bahamas.  After reading this book, I fantasized, obsessed, about living this kind of lifestyle with my family.  First of all, I want to get rid of stuff.  Why do we accumulate so much stuff?  For one, I never seem to be able to turn down a hand-me-down, and we end up suctioning up everyone’s discards.  Then, when we want to get rid of our stuff, no one wants it.  I don’t blame them, our stuff is crap.  Second, I just want to simplify.  Our society is driven by comfort, on what’s going to make our lives easier.  Supposedly, technology, gadgets, public-owned utilities, online shopping, yeah, all that stuff makes our lives easier.  I think it makes more demands on us.  The more we have of these fabulous inventions, the more is expected of us i.e. “It’s okay if you’re stuck in a blizzard in Ackley, Wisconsin, I’ll just email your smartphone the 200 page document that needs to be whittled down to 3 pages by tonight.”  Ohhhhh, yeahhhh, sipping herbal tea in a hut in the middle of a wireless field sounded pretty freakin’ good.

Unfortunately, we completely failed the test of surviving without power for two days.  Couldn’t find the candles and when we did, discovered many of them were cracked or broken.  Couldn’t find a match…had to borrow some from the neighbors (the ones who had about 20 candles, 50 matchboxes, a dozen flashlights, a battery-operated radio, 3 cases of water and a generator, I might add).  Attempted to make pb&js for the kids, then after making a few sandwiches, realized the “peanut butter” I thought I put on the bread was actually mustard that came in a jar that looks exactly like “Skippy” in candlelight.  Got frustrated because I was in the middle of a document that was due the next day and couldn’t finish it.  Got frustrated because I’d already finished the book I was reading instead of working on the document.  Husband got frustrated because he had to suffer through a night without television.  Kids walked over to my brother’s house to play the Wii since they already got their power back after only a few hours.

Guess I should start dreaming about drinking pina coladas on that cruise to the Bahamas instead.

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Really, it’s not you. It’s me.

Against my better judgement, I participated in one of those Facebook surveys (I know, don’t you hate people like me – I swear I’ve only done this once or twice) where you get to discover your “animal spirit” or something like that.  I couldn’t help it.  A lot of my friends were churning up photos of spewing llamas on their status page, and I secretly wanted to prove that my animal would be way cooler.  So, after answering about ten questions meant to sum up all the esoteric particles of my scintillating personality, up pops a pic of this awesome dude (um, see above – do I have to point out everything?)  Oh yeah, Baby, I’m a Jaguar!!  Jaguars are definitely cool!  Although, I picture myself more of the black kind stalking Mowgli before he safely reaches the village (don’t start with me, black panthers are jaguars).  Jaguars do all kinds of cool things.  They hang out in trees….alone.  They hunt prey at night…..alone.  They love to swim…..alone.  Okay, so maybe they aren’t sociable like the llama, but at least they don’t spit, right?

Believe it or not, I think this feckless, mind-muddling, ten-question FB survey is actually on to something.

I marched with the band in high school, but I technically, couldn’t be called a “band geek” because I also sang and danced in the school musical, helped publish the school magazine and volunteered with the Key Club.  In college I studied with the broadcasting, film and theater majors, slam-danced with the hardcore musicians, played quarters with the football players and booed Buckner with the Red Sox fans.  Now, as an adult, I still find myself floating in and out of social groups who have all been very welcoming, but I just don’t feel like I fit in with any of them.  Did I mention that jaguars are known to be very solitary animals?

What’s wrong with me?  Why do I keep lounging around in trees by myself?  My husband comes from a family of nine brothers and sisters.  He says he never really needs to feel like he’s part of a group because, when you’re in a big family, you are always part of a group.  Well, I have a family too.  I’m a part of that group…..so why have I always toyed with the idea that I was adopted?

Maybe what I’m searching for is definition.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Maybe this is why I hate filling out applications and blog “about me” pages.  I’m a Wife, check.  I’m a Mom, check.  I’m a Step Mom, check.  I’m a Special Needs Mom, check.  I’m a Writer, check.  I’m a Musician, check.  I’m a Christian, check.  I Hate all politicians,  check (except for the local commissioner who keeps showing up at my door and asking me to vote for him which I’ll be happy to do because he helped get the township pool built and it’s really awesome with a lazy river and all these slides….)  I’m a Korean Exchange Student Host, check.  I’m a Caterer, check.  I’m an Entertainment Business Has-Been, check.  I’m a Loner Sitting At My Laptop Spilling the Beans to No On in Particular Blogger, check.  I’m a freakin’ Solitary, Standoffish, Thinks-They’re-So-Great-Because-They-Look-Cool Jaguar.  Check!

Sigh.  I don’t care if they spit and the yarn spun from their undercoats make me itch.  Alpacas are intelligent, well-socialized, friendly and pleasant to be around, and they like to hang out with each other.  Why can’t I be a freakin’ llama?!

I need to retake that $%$%@&!  *Bob Saget survey!!

*(see my “Why I Have a Potty Mouth” post – do I have to point out everything?)

Why I Have a Potty Mouth

WHERE ARE MY @)%& @! TWEEZERS?!!?!

I don’t get mad often, unless it’s that time of the month, you know, when the PECO bill is due.  And I don’t really sound like a truck driver all of the time; though, let’s be honest, I think truck drivers get a bad rap for this – I know a few, and their mouths are sparkling clean (maybe they chew Orbit while they’re driving?)  But, I do tend to erupt during certain unfortunate incidents, such as: losing the most prized constituent of my vanity maintenance kit (I am extremely attached to my tweezers.  See “Why Old and Fuzzy” for FAQ), watching the Phillies “dream team” lose the first part of the playoffs (are you $*#%! kidding me!?), or plunging the toilet and mopping inches of cesspool water from the first-floor bathroom and basement floor after my son finally releases a sequoia log that he’s stockpiled inside his intestines for about a week. 

I blame my father for my occasionalinfrequent, (really not too often. quit judging me. who are you, Donna Reed?) potty mouth.  Watch “A Christmas Story,” especially during the untangling-the-Christmas-lights scene – That’s My Dad.  Funny thing is he hates that movie.  Apparently, he also wasn’t allowed to have a Red Ryder BB gun because he was told, “you’ll shoot your eye out.”  Shame on Jean Shepherd for writing my father’s unauthorized biography.

Although my brother and I frequently overheard our dad’s imprecations, we, of course, knew we would get in big trouble if those same words ever came out of our own mouths.  They never did, until some weird, inexplicable switch went off in my head when I became an adult.  I don’t know if the minute I turned eighteen some little devil popped on to my shoulder and whispered, “hey, you’re an adult now.  curse away.”  Can’t remember the exact moment I let those first expletives fly.  All I know is that I’m doing it now.  And I’m falling into the same family tradition that prohibits my children from repeating anything they overhear.  I’ve decided, however, to only use this as a temporary parenting technique.  Yep, I’ve decided to up the bar a bit by monitoring my potty mouth and making myself a, gasp, positive role model.

I have a wonderfully perfect friend whom I admire a great deal and try, but frequently fail, to imitate.  She and her super cool husband have four beautiful, talented girls with great big hearts and strong Christian values.  The youngest two girls are twins with cerebral palsy.  The oldest is in her first year of college.  My friend keeps herself incredibly busy with parenting and keeping an immaculate house and teaching music therapy and running a Joni and Friends support group for Moms of Special Needs.  And she says, “for pity’s sake,” when something goes awry.  What the hell…..heck!  Who says that? 

“Tessa!  Your house is on fire and all of your designer silk floral arrangements and custom Italian tiles are melting!!”

“What?  Oh for pity’s sake!”

I don’t think I can do it, you know, limit myself like that.  I just don’t see me using phrases like “Heavens to Betsy,” or “Oh My Stars.”  And I’m not Catholic, so I can’t use the standard, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, Sweet Mother of Mercy.”

I have an idea though.  My stepdaughter was a regular viewer of Tourettes Guy  (click link at your own risk) on Youtube (for the record, she watched this at her Mom’s house).    Danny, the Tourettes Guy Who Didn’t Really Have Tourettes But, Apparently, Had Many Other Issues, is dead now.  However, he did leave behind a legacy.  For some reason, in between tirades of blaspheme that would turn even my dad’s face crimson with embarassment, Danny would randomly shout out “Bob Saget!”  I can’t stand the guy, Bob Saget, that is….tv dad in one of the worst sitcoms ever made other than Small Wonder….obviously disgruntled “I don’t want to be here, even though it pays far more than I’m worth,” host of America’s Funniest Videos.  Soooo, Bob Saget has become the chosen one.  The chosen catch phrase.

“Mom!  The coffee pot’s clogged again and leaking unbrewed swill all over the countertop and shorting out the toaster that’s causing the circuit breaker to pop, thereby cutting off the electricity in Section A, which includes the plug that powers your laptop with the dead battery you never replaced and causing you to lose your 3,000 word document that you never saved that’s due tomorrow!”

“@#%O&O!$%(&%…..Bob Saget!!”

Why Old and Fuzzy

Hi!  My name’s Niki, and I’m 46 years old.  Is 46 old?  It’s all in perspective.  And, sorry, mine’s a bit warped.  Ask my kids, though, and they’ll tell you I’m ancient.

I guess, technically, I’m middle-aged (but what if I don’t live until I’m 92??).  I could come up with a blog called “Midlife Isis,” but I’m not a goddess, so…

And the “fuzzy” part?  How about blurred vision, an addled brain, and chin hairs that pop up faster than a game of Whac-a-Mole.  Oh yeah, I’m all about fuzzy.

If you’re really, really, really, really, really bored or just slightly psychotic, dump some Kahlua in your coffee and Google “old and fuzzy.”  Here are some catch phrases I’ve found:  “…the wig looked used, old and fuzzy…,” “old and fuzzy f words…,” “Fighting Fuzz Balls: How to Breathe Life into old (and fuzzy),” “My antennaes are old and fuzzy…,” (huh?), “…were they old and fuzzy or pre-raisin?” (ewww).  And, my favorite – “Google’s view of D.C….old and fuzzy.”

I love my blog name.