Friday, August 26, 2011

A Revised Hurricane Readiness Checklist for My Northern Sisters


Bless your hearts! By which I mean a)you seem to be reacting with rather disproportionate panic to the oncoming hurricane forecasted to grace your shores and I feel empathy for you and b) y'all are so dumb. Really, really pretty, but so dumb. 

So I feel like I have to tell you that you're overreacting. We're hearing that Connecticut Junior Leaguers have actually cancelled this weekend's tennis matches and Bostonites are letting people merge into traffic.  It's like The Day After Tomorrow up there!

(Dude. I'm SO inviting him to my hurricane party.) 

So in the spirit of sisterhood, even though y'all have been mean to me and mocked my accent every freaking time I've ever traveled north of Virginia, I have some advice for you on how to survive the approaching Hurricun (yes that's how we say it):
  • Get a blowout and a leg wax like, NOW. When the power and hot water go out for three days you'll still look fabulous. 
  • Consider disregarding the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale for this one we came up with at UNC (GO HEELS!):

    • Buy gallons and loaves (respectively) of milk and bread, even if you have veganism or celiac disease. I can't tell you why--it's a secret known only to us SEC girls. 
    • Just for giggles: while you're at the grocery store, buy inordinate amounts of something completely random--say, pickles and prunes. Then shake your head, tisk, and bless the hearts of all the other people in the grocery check out line like they have no clue.  
    • Resist the urge to buy gallons and gallons of bottled water. Instead, fill up your bathtub and have a bucket at the ready (for flushing!--bless your hearts!). I mean, it's not like you'll go thirsty. It's going to flood!  
    • Do bring a portable stereo with you to the grocery store. Once it gets really crowded, blast "Singin' in the Rain" at top volume to the throngs of emergency shoppers. Then teach them all a sassy dance number and cross "start a flash mob" off of your bucket list.
    • As a side note, y'all should really consider putting the sugar in the tea before you serve it.  
    • Do NOT pass the liquor store. Buy all the booze you can afford. After enough hours without electricity you will be bored senseless and need respite. Also, you will learn that during a hurricane, alcohol is more vital than water. Even if you don't drink you can barter your booze for canned goods once the power goes out and everyone's food turns into...okay I'm not even going to tell you how gross that shit will be!  
    • Know that your boyfriend/husband/lady partner WILL insist on driving somewhere during the storm. Don't try to stop them as they have no control over their instinct to rescue people/pull trees off of roads/get electrocuted/buy more beer.
    • Grits are delicious. Shut up.
    • You'll also need this: Traditional Hurricane Recipe:
      • 2 oz light rum
      • 2 oz dark rum
      • 2 oz passion fruit juice
      • 1 oz orange juice
      • ½ oz fresh lime juice
      • 1 Tablespoon simple syrup
      • 1 Tablespoon grenadine.
    Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a Hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice. Spoon feed to Jake Gyllenhaal while softly whispering to him how pretty he is.  

    • Should you become really, really drunk, be sure to find a nice air mattress or floatable couch upon which to pass out.  When your house floods you will rise with the water. This saved my second cousin's life during Katrina--true story.
    • When the storm picks up right good, prepare to fight to the death until only one of you remains. Watch for tracker jackers. You might need protection and/or a hunting partner so find a Peeta or a Gale. 
    • Re: previous advice. To pass the time once the power goes, read The Hunger Games (by flashlight!) and then pretend your house is a Panem arena. Should your husband give you any lip about borrowing his hunting bow remind him that you are The Mockingjay.  
    •  If you're worried about how to entertain your kids indoors, under duress, with no electricity, do not worry. Follow the lead of a generation of Gulf Coast Moms and:
      • Put all of the children in the master bedroom. Tell them to keep trying when they complain that the TV and the lights don't work. A copy of the Little House on the Prairie series will keep them sufficiently entertained so long as at least one of the children can read aloud. If they screech too much give them a copy of The Hunger Games and tell them they're to be the next tributes.
      • Be sure to crack the windows in said master bedroom so that the gale forces do not shatter the window glass and decapitate/jugular-artery-sever any of them.
      • Lock the door on them. They will be FINE, unless they are not strong swimmers, in which case you might want to at least put the young ones in swimmies. 
      • See above re: Hurricane recipe. 
    OK I just HAVE to tell you, bless your hearts. The eggs and milk are just for the french toast you'll make for the surviving children once the power comes back on.
      Finally: good luck! May the odds be ever in your favor...

      Friday, June 24, 2011

      Everybody Out of the Pool!

      OK yeah, there are some rather ominous looking clouds overhead and your iPhone radar says there might be lightning but I see that as rather shabby evidence for your screeching at all of our children to leave the pool forthwith or suffer the thousand natural shocks of likely electrocution. Seriously, CHILL, other hockey mom at our end-of-season team pool party.

      Despite your having told me that my daughter's swimming today--you obviously DID NOT NOTE the Hindenberg-esque mass of plastic, duct tape, foil and air with which I swaddled her casted, broken arm--will surely result in maggots (MAGGOTS!) emerging tempest-tossed from the dark, close confines of her pediatric short arm cast when it is finally removed, and your assurances that once you attended medical school--I hesitate to defer to your meteorological judgments. While I forbid my children to enter the pool within 30 minutes of a snack (for reasons conferred me by a generation of Texas Pool Moms, namely that should we reenter the pool within 30 minutes of eating our bologna sandwiches we would suffer cramps so debilitating as to cause drowning and death despite our mothers being right there, poolside), I typically refrain from this kind of unilateral pool evacuation until I've experienced thunder, lightning, and also either deja-vu, shadenfreude, or acid reflux. With all due respect, lady, you are no Jim Cantore and unless I see Willard Scott himself carried off, Mary-Poppins-like and in possession of no less than 17 jars of Strawberry Smuckers via a Cat 5 hurricane o'er the Louisiana delta, I shall not panic.

      So chill, woman. Seriously. Have a sip of this rum punch I have so cunningly disguised as a Venti Starbucks© Latte. (I save those cups for a reason!) It is strong as well as tasty. Have it all, in fact--I have a cooler of it in the back of the minivan, between the boy's hockey bag and yesterday's groceries which sadly never made it to the pantry.

      And what do you know! Just like that the storm has passed! All children accounted for, none electrified or otherwise. Someone's pug nearly just drowned but that had less to do with the weather and more to do with our goalie's insistence that all dogs can swim right before he threw said dog from the diving board.
      So cheers, Panicky Hockey Mom With a Heightened Sense of Drama. Could it be that the mole on your arm is indeed, Melanoma? No? A tick? Lyme disease is rampant down here, you know.
      Anyway, the water's nice.You should get in.

      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      Yo Mamma Grama! Live Blog from the Duke Cancer Center, July 2010

      Author's note: the prequels to this episode can be found here, here, and here.  The author acknowledges that the original trilogy is far superior, that Jar Jar is an asshole, Hayden can't act, and Ewan McGregor looks hot with a beard, and asks that you direct any and all criticism directly to George Lucas. 

      1:29  Leaving for Duke Hospital.  I have my ebook, a sweatshirt, a vuvuzela, and a cowbell.  (OK I really don't have those last two but I DID download vuvuzela and cowbell ring tones to my cell phone before I left the house this morning.)

      1:34  Johnny's driving makes me carsick.  But I'm glad he's coming with me.

      1:35  OK maybe I'm not.

      2:02  Johnny just did a doughnut in the minivan in front of Duke.  REALLY wishing we had the General Lee horn right about now.  THE WORLD SHALL KNOW OUR REDNECKERY!

      2:14  Johnny is not allowed inside the mammography clinic. I panic. (The last time we were separated in a hospital Waverly was born and you know how THAT turned out so you can imagine my trepidation.)  I promise the nurse that he will not stare or make inappropriate remarks or otherwise compromise the other patients' privacy but Mean Nurse must know Johnny and says no. Mean Nurse instructs me to go to the Special Room, undress from the waist up, and don the Mammogram Gown.

      2:15  The mammo-gown has three armholes. Three. Armholes. I check my math then accept that there are people in this hospital with greater problems than mine.

      2:16.  OK so I require written instructions, with illustrations, for putting on the mammo-gown.  I AM TELLING YOU THE TRUTH. And still I can't. Figure. It. Out. I am stressed out and sweating and starting to suspect that this is some kind of practical joke. Fucking Origami is easier than this. I give up and tie the gown in a vaguely toga-like fashion across my upper body. What with the sweat, my now-frizzy hair, and improvised outfit I'm sure I look positively crazyhomeless.

      2:20  In the waiting room now. I am like, twenty years too young to be in here. The other women in the room eye me curiously. I suspect that they run a black market estrogen harvesting ring and that I may be in danger. I check the location of the exit signs in case of an ambush. Thinking they'll slow me down, I remove my fuzzy hospital socks for good measure.

      2:26  Bored.  There are still three women ahead of me. I shall call them Bertha and Ethyl and Maude. Maude appears to be asleep but I think it's a trick. Just to be sure, I try out my new vuvuzela ringtone. AT MAXIMUM VOLUME.  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!

      2:27   OK I'm not so good at subterfuge. Mean Nurse just told me to turn my phone off.

      2:30  Nervous.  When I get nervous I tend to tuck my hair behind my ears repeatedly.  This causes me no small amount of pain as I have a 2nd degree burn on my ear from a recent scuffle with my Chi. (The Chi won--THAT TIME--however I have seen enough Coen Brothers movies to know how to exact my revenge.)

      2:35  It's my turn.  I follow a technician into a room cold enough to freeze magma and there it is. The Boobie Squishing Machine. It is really big.  I am not.  I ask if there is a child-size version as I regularly require the child-sized blood pressure cuff and child-sized IV needles.  (There is not. Also: mammogram technicians have NO sense of humor.)

      2:36  The tech, Aretha (Not Franklin) (who is very kind but lacks the fanstastic headgear of her namesake), sticks tiny pink stickers over where I tell her I can feel the lump.  My lump, my lovely lady lump.

      2:37   I am now wearing my first, and the world's tiniest, pastie. 

      2:38  OWW.  The tech has pushed my entire boob as well as a fair amount of skin from my neck and armpit inside the squeezie thing of The Machine.  The pressure is not that bad, but it pinches.  Also, there is nowhere to put my head so my neck is completely jacked to a statistically improbable angle.

      2:39  This is not nearly as exciting as last year's knee MRI which made me feel slightly Six Million Dollar Woman, slightly Jake Sully in his Avatar pod.

      2:40  Aretha has not seen Avatar.  I tell her that this is unfortunate, as Netiri is played by an African American actress and Aretha is also African American.  Aretha gives me The Look That Black People Are Always Giving Me.

      2:41  OMG I haven't fed my boob to anything this frightening, intimidating, and menacing since I nursed Waverly.  "I guess you could call this a Booby Trap," I say. (Yeah I said that.) The technician is thorough, if humorless, and has now pulled enough of my body into the mammogram machine that I think I'll know soon if my appendix is okay or I have any cavities.

      2:42   And then it's over. Aretha leaves the room and I get tangled up trying to put the 3 arm gown back on and wind up straightjacketing myself. I require assistance. Maybe someday I will be old enough to dress myself and get a big girl mammogram.

      2:50   Back in the Waiting Room with Ethel and Maude now, waiting for an ultrasound, which I did not know I'd be getting.  I assume this means I failed the test. I am more distraught by failing a test than I am at the thought of breast cancer.  When I was a child I'd have panic attacks at the ophthalmologist. (Vision Test Anxiety. It's REAL, people.)

      2:55   My red sharpie just exploded all over the 3 arm gown.  I now look like a crime scene.

      2:57   Just found out I will get my results today.  TODAY.   Freaking out as I am not prepared either way. I have not thought this through.  I need my mom, my husband, my sister. I cannot find this out alone.

      2:59   Ryan. Our shining star. He just died. That really happened. So this really can't. I am not strong.

      3:00   What this place needs is more cowbell!

      3:02   Have made it to the ultrasound room. Discover that the worst part of this entire experience is removing these motherfucking stickers from my nipple. The doctor, an intern, is kind and tells me she sees nothing in the ultrasound.  SHE SEES NOTHING.  But I can feel it, I tell her. It's something. I am ready to cry. I am not making this up. So for the first time in my life I tell a woman to feel my boob.  FEEL MY BOOB, WOMAN! She does. She can feel the lump too. She leaves to go get the resident.

      3:10   Still waiting.  I decide to ultrasound my forehead. The picture comes out way blurry. I think about using the ultrasound jelly to get a better image but it is very cold jelly.

      3:21   The resident shows up. Alas, he is more McDreary than McDreamy. (*rimshot*) (*OK that was awful*) I stash my forehead sonogram pics in one of the armholes of the 3 armhole gown that is around my waist and smile like I'm not actually sitting there topless.

      3:23   Dr. Strangeglasses repeats the ultrasound.

      3:24   I do not get a diagnosis. I do not have a diagnosis. I do not have cancer. The lump is a ridge of dense, harmless tissue. I will be fine. I AM fine.

      3:36  Before leaving the clinic I ask the nurse if I can keep the 3 armhole mammo-gown. I need it to restrain my children. She says no.  I say you do not know my children.

      3:44  I show Johnny my forehead ultrasound. He says it's too soon to tell the sex but we should totally frame it anyway.

      **Author's note: Since penning this blog entry I learned that while I did not have breast cancer, my God-sister did.  Does. 
      I hope that recounting my experience here neither mocks nor minimizes her ordeal or that of any survivor. 

      Tuesday, December 28, 2010

      Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition

      When I was seven I was going to be a ballerina when I grew up.  Or a nurse.  Or Luke Skywalker.  (Actually I really wanted to be Leia Organa but then she totally let me down when she kissed Solo which was gross!  And totally uncalled for.)

      Circle, circle, dot, dot, now you need the cootie shot!

      And so, much to the conspicuous envy of my neighborhood playmates (I'm talking to you, Amy Bircher)  I alone got to be the Pirouetting Jedi Trauma Nurse Assassin when it came time for make believe.  This early propensity to polymorphism probably explains my fascination, nay, obsession with Transformers even though they were for boys.  Because honestly, Barbies were soo static and boring.  And also lacking in light and sound and working joints.  But Transformers, well, they could be this:

      Or THIS!

      ♫ More than meets the eye ♪

      So when I got a little older I set out for degrees in Geology as well as English Literature.  But that was only after I joined the Army.  But eventually I did drop the Geology bit when I decided to go to law school.  Or graduate school, to be an English Professor.  Or a writer.  And then promptly decided to drop everything, get pregnant, and become an Environmentally Conscious Stay-At-Home-Mom With An Overdeveloped Sense Of Justice And Excellent Taste In Literature.  Who in her younger years looked a lot like this chick:

      (I actually got this Barbie as a gift when I graduated Basic Training.)

      So when I started this blog I was having one of my angsty/poetic episodes that typically lasts me anywhere from three minutes to three years and frequently provokes me to open a volume of Norton' English Literature,

      (HAHA You totally thought I was going to say a bottle of Shiraz.  SUCKER!!!!!)

      wax melancholic, and revel in the company of dead sad chicks like Sylvia Plath and Hamlet's Ophelia (you know, Hamlet's bipolar girlfriend who falls/jumps from a tree branch and, due to the voluminousness of her inordinately poofy gown, drowns) while re-imagining for them wildly different outcomes.  My Ophelia would float, breathe, put on a DVF shirtdress, and use the Force to kick Claudius' ass while tending to Laertes' and Gertrude's medical emergencies.  En pointe.

      A year and a half into this endeavor, though, methinks this blog channels Ophelia far less than (one of my) alter-ego(s), Alice, of Wonderland fame.  Curious, absurd, illogical Alice who imagines six impossible things before breakfast, who is too large for her house and too small for her Queen.

      Waverly, 2009

      Me, most days

      So I'm renaming the blog for a not-so-sad, not-so-dead chick who'd probably not back the family station wagon into a lake, but most certainly would have a corkscrew in her apron for opening the bottle that says "Drink Me."

      Anyway,why exactly is a raven like a writing desk?

      Curiouser and curiouser....


      Monday, November 1, 2010

      Happy Holi-Months

      This morning a Target employee wished me Happy Holidays.  I was not aware that 11/1 was a holiday but my birthday IS Saturday so suddenly it all made more sense--the lights, the decorations, the gift wrap--so I said thank you.  Although red and green are really not my colors.  I know this because I've had them done and it turns out that ivories, grays, and taupes suit me best as well as--squee!--cheetah and/or leopard print.  So if you HAD to decorate a tree or anything else to celebrate me on November 6th which is in five days yes I'm talking to you you would have to find something more muted like mulberry and olive.

      Little known fact: One New Year's Day not long ago I vowed to wear something in cheetah print every day for a year.  Because making a budget and drinking eight glasses of water a day were so 2009.  And also: boring.  I mean, you don't even have time to spend your shoe allowance because you're in the bathroom ALL FREAKING DAY and besides you just spent all your money on smartwater® which spelled backwards turns out to say the words I Don't Look Anything Like Jennifer Aniston.

      In the end my resolution to wear cheetah print every day went the same way as all the others, which is to say that by mid-January I got bored of them, drank eight glasses of wine, and went shoe shopping.

      However you should know that Crocs makes cheetah print foot--OK there are no words.  Crocs are like foot prostitutes.  Or therapists.  You pay for them, they make you feel REALLY good.  So yeah Crocs makes these fleece-lined cheetah print foot blowjobs.  I can only imagine that this metaphor is appropriate because when I put them on I make the same face as--OK Mom and Dad stop reading RIGHT NOW.

      Anyway my point is that, as my Grandma and maybe it was Mark Twain (I can't remember-they both had moustaches)  always said, "Familiarity breeds contempt."  Which is EXACTLY how I felt about 23 days into my ill-fated resolution.  I had cheetah Crocs, cheetah throw pillows, cheetah hand towels, blouses, heels, even--wait for it--a cheetah print Snuggie.  

      (Honestly, it's like the ghost of Billy Mays lives in my house.  It's an infomercial graveyard up in here, folks.  Watch out for that Fushigi Magic Gravity Ball at the bottom of the staircase!  BUT WAIT!  Should you slip on it and cut yourself, I will recline you ever so gently against my Ab Rocket and will apply, with my Sham Wow®, a salve made from the aloe I grew in my Topsy Turvy® Planter.)

      But you have to call me in the next twenty minutes.

      Speaking of contempt (WHAT.  I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME.) and the whole familiarity blah blah blah thing my point is this:  I got sick of the cheetah print.  (Well OK just for a little while.)  And I am sick, sick I tell you, already, of Christmas.  I was in October, actually.  I have this awful, knotted, gnarled pit in my stomach at the very sight of ornaments and plastic trees and 3-outlet forest green power plug adapters.  

      However I do like that Eggnog Latte Coffee-Mate® Limited Edition coffee creamer.  

      It's really, really good.  And if you call in the next twenty minutes you'll get...

      Anyway, Happy Holidays.  Only it's not days, anymore, now is it?  

      Happy Holi-Months.  And to all a good fiscal quarter.

      Sunday, October 31, 2010

      Cows Are Also Really Scary

      So every fall about this time The Wicked Turkey and I say we're going to take the kids to the North Carolina mountains.  It's a lovely idea, really--the quaint, quiet mountain cabin, the astonishingly, vibrantly heady fall foliage, the picturesque views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the glorious solitude of being outside the Sprint network...

      I KNOW.  You want to go too, now.  And so do we.  Every year.  But the world is a terrible place and there's a war in Afghanistan and it's a three hour drive to the mountains and the economy sucks and someone has strep throat and Haliburton's causing wars and ruining the planet and... OK there's always an excuse.

      (Not to mention that the last time I went to the mountains outside of ski season I nearly threw myself in a fit of despair from THIS swinging bridge:)

      OK so I'll tell you the story.  

      It was my birthday.  November 6th, 1998.  The Wicked Turkey and I had been dating for five years.  FIVE YEARS, PEOPLE.  We had a house together, had dogs and cats together, had gotten over our mutual incredulity at the oddness of each other's families, and were deep in that nearly flawless period of courtship when He still picks up after himself and buys his own underwear and SHE still wears makeup everyday and pretends to be interested in football.  Also: I had moved across the country twice for him.  In a nutshell, it was time.  TIME, PEOPLE.  Johnny had planned a romantic getaway to Grandfather Mountain (pictured above) for my birthday.  I had planned on getting a ring.  That Ring.  So we drive the three hours to Grandfather Mountain and I don't even get carsick because I'm thinking about whether my new diamond will come with a princess or emerald cut.  And I don't get even slightly winded climbing the fifty stairs to the mountain's swinging bridge access because I'm debating whether or not to hyphenate my future last name.  And I swallow my utter, abject fear of spanning the 228 foot long, perilously swinging, frighteningly narrow MILE HIGH MOTHERFUCKING BRIDGE that was engineered before computers and I end up crossing parts of the bridge in a kind of clutching-the-floorboards-for-dear-life, low-crawl on my belly that looked something like this

      except I was wearing MAC not camouflage (courtship days, remember???)--because I was busy imagining how I would say "YES!" without making the ugly-cry face when he popped the question.

      But we don't talk about that part.  The Becky Is Terrified of Most Things Part.  Heights, germs, cockroaches, roller coasters, squirrels, Republicans, Little People, clowns, geese, old people, open closet doors, baby dolls, loud noises, pool drains, the woods, the basement, dark places, and loose or missing teeth.*

      *This list is merely a summary.  I am also afraid of rejection and criticism and the half-mocking half-incredulous mostly-contemptuous question I almost always receive when people, happening upon my petrification at various things or situations, ask:


      The Reader's Digest Abridged Version of my official explanation:  I was scared.  All the time.  But I was even more afraid of Failure and of Embarrassing Myself.  Also: I typically had, strapped to my person at any given time, an M-16 rifle, a parachute, and hand sanitizer.  (The world is a far less scary place when you have these things on quick-deploy.)

      SO.  Back to the story.  It's my birthday and I'm standing on top of a mountain all alone with this man I love more than Texas and Shakespeare and Not Watching Football on this glorious autumn day and I've survived the Certain Death Bridge and I'm totally ready to say I do without making the ugly cry face and IT'S TIME, PEOPLE.

      Time.  A brilliant, beautiful moment.  Everything is perfect and splendid and immaculate and almost holy in its beauty and Johnny, my love, my soon-I-am-sure-to-be-my-fiance gets very still, looks deeply into my eyes, and says, ever so quietly and gently, "Becky...Would to go back down and get some more coffee?"

      Yeah.  That happened.  In real life.

      SO.  Twelve years later I've got a couple rings on my finger, a wedding dress in the attic, two kids, and an abiding fear of Most Things and even Some New Ones.  And I still do the Terrible Ugly Cry Face.  Sometimes.  But not this weekend, even though Johnny was really mean to me about the packing and I forgot to fill Bridger's prescriptions and the DVD player in the minivan is not working and it turns out Haliburton might have caused the BP oil spill--because WE ARE GOING TO THE MOUNTAINS.

      We make the three hour drive.  EASY.  Johnny even gets the DVD player to work.  EASY.  I don't even get carsick.  We arrive at the quaint, quiet mountain cabin, courtesy of a good and gracious friend who owns the cabin, the surrounding farmland, and apparently half the freaking mountain.  Really.  We unpack and drive to the crest, get out of the car and absorb the surreal beauty, the glorious leaves, the pastoral landscape unfurling beneath us.

      We hike around a bit and I get the FANTASTIC idea that Johnny and Bridger should drive back down to the cabin.  Waverly the Fearless and I will hike down on our own and meet them there.  EASY.  Johnny says it's a short hike through fairly even terrain and I'm all Rocky Mountain High from the sheer beauty of this place except technically I'm Smokey Mountain High but John Denver didn't sing that song and hey--I shop at REI and I'm wearing some rather kick-ass boots so WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

      *SPOILER ALERT!  The boots were from Nordstrom, not REI and yeah... you can guess where this is going...

      *Also--Johnny had to jimmy a barbed-wire cattle fence for Wavy and me climb under in order for us to even begin our "hike"...

      *Also--I had no cell phone reception, no M-16, no parachute, and no hand sanitizer.

      So Wavy and I begin our hike.  We are having a Bonding Experience.  We are two fierce, strong, self-reliant Nature Girls wearing really cute boots and--jeggings!

      --and we're not afraid to step in --OHMYGOD THAT IS AN AWFULLY BIG COW PATTY.


      LOTS of awfully big cow patties.

      About a half mile further in it occurs to me that where there are cow patties, there might be cows.

      And.....there.  One.  Is.  Up ahead of us on the tip of the hill.

      (actual photograph)

      And then there's another.  And then another.  And the OH MY GOD THERE'S LIKE TWENTY OF THEM with their weird hip bones and their twitchy tails and their evil herd mentality and ohmygod they're all looking at us.

      I ask Waverly what we should do.  (YES, I often defer to the judgement of my five year old when confronted with life's insolvable problems.)  "Keep going," she says.  "We can walk around them."  OK, but I am nervous.  There is nothing but farmland in front of us, woods behind us and no one anywhere near who would hear us if we called for help.   I only know one way to the cabin, and it is straight ahead, directly through what I'm beginning to think of as The Killing Fields.

      (I know, I know.  I'm from Texas.  Steers and Queers, right?  Why should I be afraid of cows?  WELL I'LL TELL YOU.  I'm from the part of Texas where the largest land animals you'll come across are the people lined up for the Chicken Fried Steak at Luby's Cafeteria)

      So the most exposure I've had to cattle in my whole life to this point is the bulls I saw each year at the Texas Prison Rodeo when I was a kid.  I AM NOT KIDDING THIS IS A REAL EVENT.  Back in the early eighties, before, oh, OSHA and the ACLU and Amnesty International--apparently--they would put forty convicts in an arena with one raging, snorting, bucking, frothing-at-the-mouth wild bull with $50.00 inside of a bag tied between his horns and let the convicts risk life and limb retrieving the money bag for the schadenfreude of hundreds of East Texans.  Yes, my parents thought  this was appropriate childhood entertainment.  No, my sister and I are not scarred by this experience because we were plied into cotton-candy-induced bleary-eyed apathy at the violence and general mayhem involved therein.

      So.  Here I am, alone on a mountain with my five year old daughter facing SEVERAL bulls.  And not one of them has a lootbag tied to his horns and I have no M-16 and sadly, no cotton candy.  But I do identify among the herd several nursing mama cows and in the spirit of solidarity hope that they will recognize me as one of their own and therefore will not hurt me or my former nursling and maybe they can convince the calf-daddies to look for some felons to maul.

      And then they begin walking towards us.  All of them.  Fast.  In weird evil cow herd unison.  Waverly announces--loudly--that she will kill them with her walking stick and then kindly--and loudly--reminds them that she doesn't even eat cow.  I look for a rock or stick to defend us with and all I see are cow patties.  The cows are coming faster.  With determination.

       I ask Waverly what we should do.

      "RUN!" she says.

      But she can't say her R's yet so it sounds more like "ONE!"  which normally would be cute but the barbed wire fence we're going to have to scale to escape certain death at the hands (hooves?) of the Angry Cows is really really sharp and really really high and Waverly is really really heavy.  We manage after all to cross the field and I toss Waverly over the barbed wire fence to (supposed) safety and realize I cannot scale said fence.  These jeggings are from Saks and this fence belongs to some farmer and if I try to climb it I will break it and that would be bad for the farmer and for me, as any breach in the fence could allow passage of the now-stampeding cows into our safe zone.  So I dig deep, get brave, channel my formerly (partially) bad-ass GI Jane self and run DIRECTLY TOWARDS the stampeding cows to a tree I may or may not be able to climb to safety.

      In my mind this is what I look like.


      The good news is--I can still climb a tree.  I jump from the haven of said tree's branches to the other side of the barbed wire fence much to the relief of my daughter.  Who is standing in...

      A cow patty.

      And I remember.  Where there are cow patties there must be cows.  


      We run across another field to another barbed wire fence.  Jeggings and farmers be damned I'm climbing this bitch.  I hoist Wavy over.  And in a move even Angelina Jolie's stunt woman would envy, I sling myself over the fence.

      Without.  Tearing.  The jeggings.  

      It's Cows 0.  Wavy and Me 1.  The cows do not look pleased.

      Now we hike carefully, precariously, down a steep, impossibly narrow trail flanked on one side by Mean Bessie and Her Cohorts, the other side by a sheer drop-off to a rocky gully far below us.  

      And then we hear something.  Music.  Faint at first and then growing louder.  Dueling Banjos?  No.  Because THAT WOULD BE TOO EASY.  What we are hearing is, ostensibly, an intoxicated Person of Spanish Linguistic Ability serenading (and belching at) the mountainside at the top of his ever loving lungs.   We are only mildly comforted by his presence because we have watched enough Dora and Diego to cry for help in Spanish however, our amigo sounds a bit too inebriated to al rescate us and I'm pretty sure he's missing his Rescue Pack.  


      We choose to keep our presence hidden from the mountain people and continue to the cabin.  

      I still don't see the cabin.  

      We are far, far removed from English-speaking human contact.

      There is an entire herd of cattle on the other side of the fence bent on our certain demise.

      We have an awful lot of cow poop on our fancy boots.

      I have neither water nor food nor emergency flares nor anything else one would pack in the REI backpack I've been eyeing.   

      And I am most likely tetanus-positive at this point from the barbed wire fences I've scaled.

      And it is at this very moment that Waverly announces, "I need to go potty.  BAD."



      We lived.  But barely.  We finally made it back to the cabin, which, thank GOD, had a washer and dryer.  However it was in the basement which I was afraid of so Johnny had to do all the cow poop laundry.

      I never succeeded in convincing Waverly to pee in the woods.  She was like, "OK, if you do it with me."  And I was like, "No."

      Johnny would like you all to know that he did not intentionally send Waverly and me to our near deaths.  He would  like to remind you that he grew up in the kind of family that greased pigs for the chasing at family gatherings and therefore has a much higher tolerance for domesticated farm animals than I and had no idea I would be scared of the cows because, you know, I was in the Army. 

      Upon returning to Cary I used my member rewards at REI to buy some actual hiking boots, an emergency beacon, and a handheld GPS.  I am still searching the internet for cow repellant.  

      Sprint continues to offer the good people of western North Carolina no service at all, which is pretty much the same service it offers to the people of Central and Eastern North Carolina, which is no service at all.  Halliburton continues to club baby seals and slap orphans and contaminate baby formula with...cow poop.

      We never heard anything more from our Mountain Mariachi.  I think of him fondly and hope he is well.

      Mean Bessie and her band of Mean Cohorts abide.  

      THE END.

      Thursday, September 30, 2010

      Back On the Bike, Y'all

      (Oops.  Almost titled this post "Beck on the Bike."  Which would be glorious if it were David Beckam but quite unfortunate of it were that monstrosity Glenn Beck.)


      OR THIS:


      In any case, apologies, all, for my hiatus!

      And now:

      COMING SOON...

      "What Happened at the Mammography Clinic"

      "Two Teachers, a Preacher, and a Stay-At-Home-Mom Walk Into a Tattoo Parlor..."

      "Sign Ideas for Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity"

      "Contents of My Purse From Last Night"

      But for now...

      Bridger came home from school today with an essay about the four best things that ever happened to him and the four worst things that ever happened to him.  In other words, while I'm  freaking about the cost of his prescriptions I  get some real perspective:

      THE GOOD
      1. Christmas
      2. Halloween
      3. My Birthday
      4. I got a new dog named Aslan.

      The Bad
      1. Afghanistan war
      2. My Uncle Ryan got cancer.
      3. My best friend moved.
      4. My dog Teton died.