Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jean Pool

If you are looking for a good way to humble your opinion of yourself, might I suggest spending an afternoon shopping for a pair of white jeans? No, not just white jeans--really bow to the trend and set your sights on finding white skinny jeans. No easy feat for me, considering I am a shortie and my thighs are the size of tree trunks, give or take an oak tree or a sapling.

I spent last Wednesday on a frenzied hunt for said jeans, determined to score a pair for the weekend and for an upcoming trip to Texas. Friends, I am not exaggerating when I say that I shopped so hard I was in a full upper lip sweat. I went in stores I have never entered in my shopping lifetime, which is saying a lot since I consider shopping both a hobby and a talent of mine. I have been honing my retail skills since I was a mere babe in a stroller.

By my count, I tried on 25 pairs of denim before finally settling on a pair. That pair is not great, mind you, just better than the 24 previous pairs that I endured. I tried modern skinny, cropped, cigarette slim, ultra skinny, straight leg...pairs with zippers no longer than two inches, pairs with stretch, pairs that were assured to slim (lies!). I draw the line at bedazzled jeans; I rocked those in the 90s so hard I see no need to repeat the offense.

I am embarrassed to report that I even got desperate enough to try a pair of Not Your Daughter's Jeans, and I believe by the brand's standards I should be considered the daughter in that description. I deemed myself Not Desperate Enough for These Jeans and got the heck out of dodge before anyone saw my shame, lying crumpled on the dressing room floor of Dillard's.

As this torture entered its second hour, I found myself cracking under the pressure. Asking myself questions like: do Pajama Jeans come in white? Does anyone really look at the bottom half of an outfit, anyway? Could I sew Spanx into these? What if I just made sure no one saw me from behind?

At one point, I even got madcap enough to allow a salesperson to help. This is never a good idea for me, because they are determined to fit a square peg in a round hole and will waste your time bringing you items that in no way fit the criteria of what you are actually seeking. I tell Well Meaning Sales Lady that I am seeking a pair of white skinny jeans. She nods enthusiastically and returns with one pair of white flare bell bottoms which make me look like a sailor on Fleet Week, a pair of white cargo pants in some sateen fabric that is reminiscent of a Queen performance, a pair of black pants, and a striped top.

What has happened here? The lines of communication have gotten seriously crossed. Being the people pleaser I am cursed to be, I try on one obligatory pair of bell bottoms, discover they are about a foot too long and even more ridiculous on my person than they were on the hanger, and thank Maleeka on my way out the door.

Some place close to the intersection of Are You Kidding Me and Too Stubborn to Quit, I finally found #25, the winning jeans. By that point, my back was aching (probably from all the work shimmying pairs of jeans the size of Build-a-Bear clothes up and down all day), lip gloss long since faded, hair disheveled, spirits in the tank. I could barely muster the energy to redress and stand in line to pay for those beauties, but one cannot abandon a mission, especially when the mission has been as tedious as the Great Jean Hunt.

But I did it. Mission accomplished. I came, I saw, I conquered (well, eventually, anyway). And now: I'm almost afraid to wear the things. They should be protected, preserved, kept away from things like moths and dirt and ketchup stains. My advice to you would be when you find that needle in the denim haystack, buy two pairs. Because now all I can think is that by putting wear and tear on these babies, I am just moving myself closer and closer to another shopping adventure for a replacement pair. Maybe by then we can finally make sweatpants trendy? Now that would be in-jean-ious.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If You Blog It, They Will Come

Remember the saying in the movie Field of Dreams, the one that inspires Kevin Costner's character to turn his backyard into a baseball diamond? "If you build it, they will come." And they do. All the greats from baseball history wind up playing in the former cornfield. I'm reminded by this because it seems that in my case, if I blog it, they will come. Out of the crazy woodwork.

In the case of many who doth protest, I was not even aware that they read my blog. Thank you for coming from the four corners of the earth to read what I write, get miffed, and retaliate. You have every right. And while I might (maybe not, there's a slight chance, oh forget it) not have written something knowing that the subject would read it, I stand by my statements as truth. Not necessarily sugarcoated enough to taste good, but still the truth. My only request is that if you feel you have been wronged in being called out, maybe match the degree of your response to the initial offense. It's hate mail etiquette 101.

For example, I may have called you a crazy cat lady, not only because there is a sizeable feline community taking over living in your home, but also because you relate to the cats but not to actual people. You are all cat, all the time. If I'm being totally honest, pretty much everyone says you are a crazy cat lady, I just came right out and wrote it instead of whispering behind your back.

And then you throw down the giant bag of Meow Mix and fire off a response saying that I am only interested in soap operas and hot rollers and finding out who is the fairest of them all. Simply not true, but thank you for your feedback. Hot rollers are a necessary evil in my ongoing quest for big hair, I only watch one soap opera and I refuse to defend that guilty pleasure, and as for who is the fairest of them all--well, that's a matter of opinion (but I kind of think you were looking at me when you said it...just saying). Now, when we got to the part where you said I was an unproductive excuse for a human being...meow. Put your claws back in, for heaven's sake. (Most of the other folks I called out in Frankly, My Dear agreed that their subjects of conversation may have, in fact, been a bit lacking. Now we're all moving onward and upward.)

If you have, perhaps, given me a gift I was less than thrilled with/horrified to receive, you probably read about it on the blog. But only if it was in the very top echelon of crummy gifts. So really, it's almost an honor to be mentioned. Hey, Clint gets recognition for his style of gift-giving all the time and he hasn't tried to smother me in my sleep. Yet. That I am aware of. Should you feel you have been wronged by my judgment, I might suggest that you simply comment or email that your gift was dandy and we obviously have different tastes. Instead, some of you, under the blanket of anonymity, basically wrote that you wished I was dead. This seems ever-so-slightly harsh in my opinion.

P.S. If we haven't already, let's not swap gifts again. I don't want to wake up Christmas morning with a horse head in my bed.

I am also quite resentful of another comment (again, by the very fiery and assertive "anonymous") which stated that I make Honey Boo Boo look classy. You can get away with saying many things about me, and I will grin and bear it--I have taken the labels "narcissist," "intolerant", and "bitter" on the chin), but when you start comparing me to a family who smears road kill with mayonnaise and calls it Sunday dinner, you'd better redneckonize. I am many, many things, but Honey Boo Boo I am not. (As further evidence, for as long as anyone can recall, I refuse to eat any food on the bone and will only eat Duke's mayonnaise--take that, haters).

I knew full well that when I wrote Tantrums and Tiaras, some Pageant Pattys would be less than pleased. Their reactions were as predictable as rhinestone earrings and beaded ballgowns, with accusations of sour grapes, jealousy, one bad apple spoiling the bunch. But then anonymous sources started really throwing mud--things that were untrue and that were about as a friendly as getting kicked in the rear with a five inch stiletto. Fight fire with fire, but don't go up against a match with a blowtorch, ladies. You will never win Miss Congeniality that way.

I do realize it was inevitable. If you are going to bathe yourself in compliments, you can count on someone farting in the bathtub. So I'll make a deal with you: I won't hold back, but I will do my best to add a measure of kindness to the dose of reality. Kind of like a little "bless your heart" before I tell you what I really think. And you can feel free to comment and give me a piece (or two) of your mind as well, so long as we keep the death threats, wild, irrational rants and below-the-belt remarks to a respectable minimum. I can take it, and you can bank on the fact that this belle will keep right on dishing it out. It's all in good fun, and you might as well learn to laugh at yourself--there's a good chance the rest of us already are.

In the always prophetic words of wrestler Ric Flair, "Whether you like it, or you don't like it, learn to love it! It's the best thing going today!" Wooooo!, indeed, Ric.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Birthday Belle

I made my debut in 1978, the same year that the TV show Dallas first aired, the Simon toy became all the rage, and the Bee Gees album Saturday Night Fever was #1. My parents were getting ready to begin a very expensive adventure with their first child, a baby girl with a head full of wild, dark hair. At six pounds, seven ounces and twenty-one inches long, the doctors assured my Mom and Dad I was going to be tall and thin. Thanks for your optimism, but since I am a statuesque 5'4 and have been on a diet since the ripe old age of six, not so much.

My birthday was Tuesday, and to say I have milked it for all it's worth is not an understatement. As much as I love a holiday, a birthday is your own personal holiday, and I like to prolong that as much as possible. I typically celebrate birthday week (I tried for birthday month, but there was so much eye rolling and mockery from everyone that I dialed it back down...a bit), but this year I've managed to get in two full weeks of celebrating.

The festivities kicked off Easter weekend with a home cooked meal of my very favorite foods, followed by birthday cake. If you have never been to Junior's and you are not currently in New York City, I have good news for you: Junior's will ship you the most awesome cake you have ever put in your mouth and you can see what heaven tastes like for yourself. This year, Mom got a chocolate/white chocolate mousse confection shaped like an Easter egg. And she bought me a print of a bichon frise, a.k.a. the king of the castle around here, to hang in my den. On a scale of one to ten: perfection.

The next weekend, we spent a gorgeous Saturday on the patio of a neighborhood restaurant enjoying Bloody Marys, a fantastic lunch, awesome friends, and of course, celebrating moi. I got to wear a new top (although the look may have been slightly marred by my Target sunglasses) and I laughed so much my face hurt. Second celebration: success.
The whole next week brought a bevy of gifts, all through the mail. For me, this is the perfect storm. I adore getting mail and I don't exactly have an aversion to getting presents, so every package that arrived brought pure, unadulterated birthday bliss.


Which brings us to that glorious ninth day of April: my real, actual day of birth. Bring. It. On. I strategically planned my day so as not to do anything I didn't want to do, but then I got all magnanimous and exercised (ugh) and vacuumed (double ugh). A few of you were sweet enough to call, and a zillion folks sent some Facebook love (bonus points if you threw in a compliment to accompany your birthday well wish).

Clint came home a little early--a rarity that truly signifies a special occasion--bearing a gift bag the size of vending machine. Inside, I found a dozen packages of Peeps (I confess that I hoard them and now I've got him in on the act), a Walking Dead t-shirt (the perfect way to combine my love of a zombie apocalypse with my love of t-shirts) and, drum roll please: two tickets to a Dave Matthews Band concert in July. I was ecstatic, since seeing DMB in concert is on my bucket list. Incidentally, that was the only thing I have put on my bucket list, which is probably an indication that I live a sheltered life, and should not be considered a sign that I will be ready to die after said concert. I need to add some drops to that bucket. And, as you will see in the pictures, my "card" was also a tiara that crowned me Birthday Princess. Brilliant.


I was wined and dined at one of my favorite restaurants and then home to sample a selection of gourmet cupcakes. I may or may not have run into one of my least favorite people on the planet while we were at dinner, but I was having a decent hair day and wearing a cute outfit, so ain't nothing gonnna breaka my stride. Onward and upward. Thirty-five is the new fabulous, so eat your heart out, oh-so-shallow nemesis.

Maybe I'm still on a sugar high, but the rest of this week is still up for grabs, and I'm thinking that if I play my (birthday) cards right, I can work this birthday thing right through the weekend. Light the candles and bring out the cake! And I can still wear the birthday tiara from time to time, too, yes?

Friday, April 5, 2013

High (maintenance) Cotton

What has seasonal allergies, chronic ear infections, a calcium deposit in one eye, and acid reflux? Let's also throw in juvenile cataracts which led to surgery which led to detached retinas which caused blindness. No, I am not talking about an activity bus full of senior citizens on their way to a bingo tournament. I'm talking about my ten year old bichon frise, Cotton.

This poor dog has had almost every affliction known to man or beast. We are frequent flyers at both our regular vet and at the doggy ophthalmologist, I can spot an ear infection from across a crowded room, and I can give eye drops with one hand tied behind my back. Did I mention that even his dog food is prescription? Clint loves to say that I have both the clinical hours and practical experience to be a vet tech; all I'm really lacking is the official certificate.

This fluff ball has been a handful, right from the very start. At a whopping one and a half pounds, this puppy came very close to destroying both our apartment and my sanity the first few months we had him. Never mind the fact that he was totally fearless and climbed every gate/blockade/containment method we employed; the little guy was fast, stubborn and totally independent. He's still stubborn, but the fast and independent traits have pretty much gone by the blind doggy wayside.

The cuteness is a survival mechanism, we know that now. Pretty much any time of the day I'm not doing something for Cotton, he is either waiting for me to do it or I am wondering what it is that needs to be done next; at the height of the eye drop madness I had to create spreadsheets. We track our expenses with a financial website, and every month, every category--groceries, gas, entertainment--is all in the green. And then there's the "Cotton" category, which is always red: over budget. This animal knows how to spend it.

One look with those big, brown eyes and we all come a-running. People have been known to leave messages on our answering machine for this dog. He has a pet sitter, gets groomed by a mobile "pet spa" that comes to our driveway (his haircuts cost more than mine, for the record), and the veterinarians at our animal hospital fight over who gets to see him (lucky for them, we are there on a very regular basis so there is ample opportunity. The long standing joke is that this little dog is going to make sure we never have the time, money or energy to have children, keeping him the center of attention). One of my mom's favorite stories is the time our pet sitter called to warn me before we saw our den, after we had been gone on vacation and left him in the sitter's care for three days. It looked like someone had unleashed a rabid Tasmanian devil in there. Without too many gory details, it took steam cleaning the couch and carpet and sanding and repainting a door to fix the tantrum that was thrown during the home alone incident.

Cotton is the king of the castle, the head of the household, the boss around here. And it's a good thing he found us, because no other people could understand Cotton's quirks. He generally refuses to walk on any uncarpeted surface, won't eat his dog food with anyone watching, can't stand to be petted on the head, requires praise for drinking water (or else he won't do it; see also: dehydration incident of 2008). If his harness isn't in just the right position when we take our daily walks, he will refuse to move until the situation is corrected.

And speaking of our daily walks, Cotton prefers to take a slow and steady approach. He gives new meaning to stopping and smelling the roses...and everything else he can possibly sniff. We very often get lapped by senior citizens out for their exercise, who like to chide us with witty banter such as, "You two are going to get a speeding ticket out here!" Yep, we blaze a trail, indeed.

The only thing more exciting than a walk is a car ride. Jingle the keys, and Cotton is ready to co-pilot, and beside himself with excitement. Of course, he has a quilt that he rides on for short trips around town (errands, vet visits and the like), and a pillow for longer trips (you will undoubtedly notice the stylish floral pillow case: tres chic). Comfort is key--doesn't everyone do that for their dog?

Mr. High Maintenance also enjoys latte foam, Chick-fil-A nuggets (which he gets as a reward for enduring the endlessly long visits to his eye doctor...I also get a sandwich, so win/win) and my husband's black dress socks. Every night, when Clint changes clothes, that little blind dog sits as close on the edge of the bed as he can get, leaning toward Clint, unable to be still because of the anticipation. It's like a strip tease for the dog. Mind you, he can't even see the socks come off--he hears the sound and waits so he can make off with them and try his mightiest to chew holes in them before we take them away.  Did I neglect to mention that he loves sunning himself on our deck, on a chilled towel (naturally)?

Clint said, "Maybe you should add something in about how excited you were to get the dog, how you said he was the best gift you've ever gotten, but in reality, we got a lemon." Absolutely not. For all his whims and preferences, he is a happy little sidekick, a great confidante, and an ever-willing assistant. Cotton has big hair, now has his own blog, loves to entertain (and be entertained), gets giddy over snacks, and is a bit of a show-off. They say pets often resemble their owners, but I don't see any similarities there, do you?