The Chinese Buffet

February 27,2009

Be prepared to hate me.

We didn't chaperon the church dance last Friday night.

I know.

I for one, was beyond disappointed with the very unfortunate turn of events. Every single teenager from our congregation bailed, which left us--two lonely, grown up chaperons with absolutely no one's fun to ruin.

I took the call letting us know that we were off the hook. And after that, I was the one who flatly informed Jared we were going to the dance anyway...

ME: I don't care if the kids aren't going! My outfit is all laid out! We're going to the dance!
JARED: No.
ME: Yes!
JARED: No.
ME: Yes!
JARED: I'll take you to the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet instead.
ME: A movie, too?
JARED: Okay.
ME: Deal.

So off we went, to the Chinese buffet and then to see Slumdog Millionaire, which, I might add, deserved each and every one of its eight Academy Awards.

And before I move on, I know what all you Mormons are thinking....But Amy! Slumdog Millionaire is rated R! We're not supposed to watch R rated movies! My Word!

Well guess what? My mother-in-law told me I should see it, and I'm not claiming to be any kind of master scriptorian or anything, but I'm absolutely sure that somewhere in the Bible there's a verse that reads, "And the sins of the children shall rest upon the heads of their Mothers-in Law." Or something like that.

So in all actuality, my mother-in-law's gonna have some serious explaining to do when she tries to get into heaven someday. I wish her only the best.

So, on the way to the movie, Jared and I stopped to eat at The Silver City China Buffet. The sign said it was "The Finest Food in this Fine City." And really now, who was I to doubt something so convincing? After all, I'm humble (and fun to be around).

We entered the buffet, paid our nine dollars each, and within three seconds flat I'd loaded my warm, white plate with some boneless spare ribs, an eggroll, six pieces of sesame chicken, lo-mein, three crab rangoons, a spoonful of those crunchy noodles, and one piece of broccoli with garlic sauce. You know me...moderation in all things.

I settled into my booth, happily rubbed my palms together over my plate, and entered the beginning stages of spearing some chicken when something caught my eye.

It was a girl who, bless her heart, was wearing a little black tank top, probably size small. And her gut? Well, I'd have to venture a guess that her abdominal area was a comfortable size extra large. Her boobular region was spilling out of the boobular holders, and let's not forget, it's February in Maine. Tank tops are completely uncalled for--especially on our bigger lady friends.

Now don't get me wrong here--I myself am all to familiar with an extra large stomach area. But the difference? Mine remains covered at all times because no one, no one, wants someone else's stretch marks hanging in the General Tso's Beef.

I watched the fashion offender load her plate even higher than mine, and meticulously balance the deep-fried goods as she tiptoed over to the condiment station. Now she really had my attention. You see, I love duck sauce more than anyone else I know, and I was planning to lose my frickin' noodle if this woman had the audacity to defile my condiment of choice. That went for the sweet n' sour, too.

Again, I of all people, understand a passion for spicy mustard--but this girl? This girl planted her plate right on the condiment table, stared dipping her Chinese food items, one by one, into the communal condiment dishes and then consuming it right there on the spot.

Barf. On. Me.

At one point, I shiz you not, that woman had a good six inches of crab rangoon dangling from her teeth. And of course, just as you'd expect, it fell. Into the duck sauce. And she fished it out. With her fingers. And ate it again.

Okay now, barf on me a little more. Believe you me, I'm the woman who fought off an intense craving for a McDonald's double cheeseburger through the duration of 'SuperSize Me,' but damn, this was was above and beyond the call of duty. My world had officially been rocked.

So that's my tale of last Friday night. I still haven't recovered.

Life Stinks: A Talk on Perspective

February 27, 2009

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, then you probably remember that I lost a pregnancy this past fall. At the time, I tired to be relatively quiet about the whole situation--discussing my feelings, but not too many of the nitty-gritty details.

In case you're curious, I'll let you know that I was eighteen weeks pregnant and my due date falls this week. The circumstances of the actual miscarriage were beyond traumatic, and I don't know that I'll ever write about in a public setting like this.

The last five months have been very, very sad for me--but unbelievably happy at the exact same time. But, beyond everything else, I've grown. I've grown as a mother, a wife, and a human being in general.

Two weeks ago, I was asked to give a talk in church based on an address titled "Come What May, and Love It," by Joseph B. Wirthlin, one of the former leaders of the LDS Church. In honor of my little boy's due date, I'd like to share my talk with all of you.

It's far from my best writing (cut me a break, it was a talk), and it's got a whole lot of Mormon lingo goin' on, but I hope it will help you all appreciate what I've been though and how I've managed to come out as a broken, yet stronger, person on the other side.

***

Life Stinks
by Amy Lawson

Brothers and sisters, I am here today to testify of the truth that from time to time, life really stinks. You all know what I'm speaking of. It can range from scratched bumpers to questionable job security to ill parents, but every now and again we all go through long, dark seasons where our lives are absolutely horrible.

On the other hand, I am here to today to tell you that life is good—really, really good. Again, the goodness of life falls on a spectrum, ranging from a well cooked steak, to a windfall of money, to a new baby. But there is no denying the fact that lots of times, life feels great.

I find it interesting that something as important as life itself can be so conflicted—that two opposites statements can be true at the very same time. Life is great, and life does stink...now what? What are we supposed to do with that kind of disjointed knowledge?

According to Elder Joseph B Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve, we are supposed to accept what comes our way in life, and love it. Not deal with it or put up with it, but actually love it.

He begins his talk by discussing the little annoyances of life—things that we're all to familiar with, like getting lost on the highway. Years ago, Elder Wirthlin was on a road trip with his family to Cedar City, Utah. He and his wife were both under the impression that they were headed in the right direction until they saw a huge, light-up sign that read “Welcome to Nevada.” Instead of screeching on the breaks, muttering some very unholy words, and announcing to the entire station wagon that 'the vacation is now ruined,' Elder Wirthlin laughed—and probably took his family to lunch--in Nevada.

He's a good man to react in the way he did—after all, he had eight children and this was before the days of DVD players in minivans. Come to think of it, it was probably before the days of air conditioning in cars, too. Would I have the ability to laugh about something so discouraging, something so annoying? I hope I would—because basically, there were only two possible outcomes to his navigational mistake.

Elder Wirthlin and his wife could have become angry. They could have yelled at each other and at their kids. This probably would have riled up the eight children, caused all kinds of fights and spills, and genuinely ruined their trip.

Or Elder Wirthlin and his wife could have laughed about their flightiness. Stopped the car, let the kids stretch their legs and kept on going.

His story reminds me so much of my Grandmother, or Memere as I used to call her. She was a tiny woman, but a tough woman. A woman who was forced to temporarily leave her kids in a convent to seek a better life, a woman who battled and beat breast cancer in the 1950s—when the disease was shameful and survival was almost unheard of. She was a woman who single handedly supported her large family, since her husband was failing from heart disease, and most of all, she was a woman with perspective.

She died when I was five, after, but not from her second battle with cancer. Since I was so young, I only have two real memories of my Memere. I remember that she was always singing—when I'd go to visit here at work, or watch her wash the dishes, or listen as she put on her makeup, she was singing happy little songs in French.

And other than that, I remember a specific event...

When I was in kindergarten I refused to wear anything but overalls. I even wore overall dresses. One day, as I was playing in my parents' living room I noticed how shiny their rocking was—I distinctly remember thinking, “That chair looks fast.” So I backed up as far as I could, ran across the living room, and slid onto the seat of the chair on my belly leaving two deep, long scratches in the wood from the buckles on my overalls. My Dad yelled, my mom cried, and my Memere? My Memere said, “Oh lay off it you two...someday you'll love those scratches.”

Like I said, she was a woman with perspective.

She was right. Over the years the scratches have become a happy memory. My Memere was obviously a woman with a light outlook on life...didn't let herself get too worked up about the minor inconveniences. But do you think she felt that way when her kids were in the convent? Did she brush it off when the doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer before there was a cure? Did she sing her happy songs when her husband was on his deathbed?

I guarantee that she did not.

In his conference talk, Elder Wirthlin asks, “How can we love the days that are filled with sorrow?” His answer? “We can't—at least not in the moment.” And brothers and sisters, we are not expected to feel joy or peace or happiness in the middle of a horrible life event. Heartbreak is not a sin.

In his sermon on the Mount, the Savior himself says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that in life, there are times to weep, and times to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. There's a time to break down, but also a time to build up.

Mourning and grief and struggle are all pieces of the human experience that should never be denied—we've all probably met the people that pretend to be okay, or even happy after a terrible life event. This is not what's expected of us as Children of God. We are not asked to downplay our true feelings—and actually, it's a dangerous habit to fall into—a habit that can lead to a life of emptiness and loneliness and pain. But I also believe, and I think Elder Wirthlin and the Savior would both agree that mourning and grief and struggle should be reserved for life situations that truly warrant such feelings—not rumors that fly around at school, or an ugly glance from a stranger. Certainly not a dent in your car.

I experienced true, gut wrenching grief for the first time this past fall, and I can tell you that I've never felt such raw pain in my life. I couldn't eat, or sleep, or smile. I was angry and confused and physically I felt like I had been run down by a truck. I was just not willing to pretend that everything was okay.

And then, when I didn't know if I could take it for one more second, I got a card in the mail from a casual friend in New York. She had experienced a similar loss, and her inscription in the card read, “Amy, the only advice I can give you is this: Grieve, but don't wallow. Mourn, but don't dwell.”

And that's the advice that put me on the road to healing. I took it to mean, it's normal and okay to struggle with this, but when you're ready, let yourself move on.

Just like Elder Wirthlin said,
"How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life. If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness."

And he's right, in these recent months after my biggest trial so far in life, I believe that I have grown. I also believe that I'm the happiest person that I've ever been.

Is there a piece of me that's broken beyond perfect repair? Yes. At least for the duration of this life. I'm shattered, but more importantly I'm patched. I still think about what happened every single day, and I still cry when I talk about my loss—but honestly, I'm happy. I laugh. I'm funny. And I have changed.

Now when someone tells me that I dropped the ball at work, I don't waste my time feeling angry or attacked—I listen to what they have to say and decide whether or not it has merit. If it does, I change it.

When my three year old accidentally puts a dent in the wall with a toy, I don't give him a timeout and continue to let my anger rise every time I see the belmish in the sheetrock. I give him a timeout and if the dent is truly bothersome, I repair the wall.

But I'm still human. I worry about the economy and I worry about our income—but when I feel the worry getting the best of me, I stop and tell myself, “We're definitly not going to starve to death.” and then I get on with my day and find something to smile about.

Elder Wirthlin is right, in the midst of my loss, there was no way I could feel happy. But now, five months later I've grown, and I'm a happier person because of what I've been through.
This attitude is yours for the taking, but you have to take it. You have to choose it.

Elder Wirthlin takes it to the next level when he says, “
"I know why there must be opposition in all things. Adversity, if handled correctly, can be a blessing in our lives. We can learn to love it."

To circle back to the beginning of my talk, life stinks—it's part of the deal. We agreed to it when we came to live on this Earth. But life is also good. We can't control the trials and adversity that are thrown our way—no matter what you do, they'll come, and they'll be painful and terrible and hard. But you can be happy, you can be positive, and you can grow. You can choose to let the Refiner's Fire shape you into something new, instead of reducing you to dust.

And I'll leave you with the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, “In all living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.

***

My little boy was barely around, and probably won't ever be remembered by anyone except my family or by God himself. But honestly, I'm just as grateful for him as I am for Jared and James. He changed my life for the better, and if that was meant to be the extent of his mission on Earth, then I can accept it.

He was tiny. Small enough to hold in the palm of my hand. But to me, that little boy is huge.

Little Amadeus

February 26, 2008

So what if this video is plopped on its side? You should stop complaining, touch your left ear to your left shoulder, and enjoy my son, who--dare I say it?--seems to be something of a musical genius.

Yes, it's true. My three-year-old is taking violin lessons. And me? I'm taking lessons in tolerance, patience, and unconditional love.

So, without further ado, I give you my kid:

video

Blast from the Past

February 24, 2009

In honor of the most excellent concert tickets that I scored this morning (and by 'scored' I mean charged with Discover--not won), I'd like to post a link to this story that I wrote back in 2007.

What a blast from the past, huh?

A year-and-a-half later I've finally graduated from my career as a babysitter, it now takes me approximately 45 years to run 9 miles, and that x-ray machine we secured? Well, these days we have our very own garage for it to sit in.

I love my life!

Oh, and you can look for a post about Friday's church dance later in the day--be prepared for a major letdown. Seriously.

That Magic Moment

February 23, 2009

Eight years ago, when I met Jared, I was living in a church. A real life, no nonsense church. It was a super steep A-frame, obviously built in the 60s, and was comfortably situated between two fraternity houses on College Avenue.

How cool was I?

I had been hired by a campus ministry to organize weekly meals, serve on their Board of Directors, and try to find somebody...anybody...who might be interested in attending a Sunday morning worship service. Not an easy task on a campus filled with marijuana-smoking-ruffians (who I spent a lot of time making out with).

In exchange for my hard work and determination to grow the Kingdom of the Lord, I was given a private room at no charge. Sure the room had an old, flood-prone shower that doubled as a closet, but really now, who's complaining? It was free.

In an effort to provide a visual for this story, I googled the name of the church this morning. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be one single picture of that church on the entire expanse of the internet. What I did find however, much to my surprise, was that picture up in the corner. Two old roommates from back in my church dwelling days.

Then I read the caption of their picture, and almost peed myself right here in my computer chair. The caption read, "Sally Dew and Ashley Grover light their daily prayer candles at the Wilson Center in College Town.

Um? I'm sorry? Daily prayer candle? What the....????

I saw internet boyfriends and ex-sailors waltz in through those church doors, but never not once did I see any sort of meditative action over a prayer candle. Sure we cursed in each others' faces as we fought over our flowered dresses and low-top Doc Martins, but trust me here, there was not a single prayer candle involved in the day. Ever.

There was however, a trampoline. A really, really, really big trampoline.

One week after I met Jared, I invited him over to my church. He was impressed that three college-aged girls had so much square footage, such a nice wooded yard, and such a level parking lot for street hockey--and all to themselves!

"Wow," he said as he walked in and admired the height of the A-frame cathedral ceiling, "you could set up a full sized trampoline in this place."

He was right. You could. So we did. In the sanctuary.

And right there, under the hanging wooden cross, we threw down some nasty flips, and some sweet grabs, and some unbelievable spread eagles. Honestly, looking back on the whole scene, if Jesus himself had been there, I don't think he would have been offended one bit. I think he would have been like, "You SO CAN'T do a double back flip in here!" And then I would have done it.

I know, I know, the whole scene is terribly irreverent. But we were young, we were dumb, we were in college. And to this day, I still maintain that trampolining inside of a church was far more righteous than smoking doobies inside of a mini-bus. So there.

As the weeks wore on, Jared and I spent a lot of time around the walls of that church--tinging hockey pucks off of the exterior brick wall, painting the bathroom walls pink with pink polka dots, and playing old-school Nintendo.

And then it happened...

One night, after a date to a go-cart track, Jared whipped his little Corolla into a parking spot of the church lot, quickly pulled the emergency break, held my chin between his thumb and forefinger and said, "Amy. I love you." And he totally meant it.

After a few minutes (or maybe hours) of blubbering on and on about how much I loved him, Jared took off for home and I stumbled up the front steps of the church in my love stuck haze.

I fancifully rustled through my backpack, looking for my key, and found nothing more than a beach towel, a flashlight, and an extra pair of flip flops. It was 2 o'clock in the morning, my roommates were out of town, and I was utterly, completely locked out. In love! But locked out.

I wandered around the building, looking for a back way in, but I found nothing. Every window, every door, every hatch was locked down tighter than a jail cell.

I was screwed. In love! But screwed.

I tried to sleep on my towel, and simply survive until the church secretary showed up for work at 9, but who was I kidding? It was way too unbelievably cold to sleep outside with nothing but a pair of shorty shorts and a towel.

Finally, after three hours of traipsing around the yard in tears, I had officially reached my breaking point. And just like that, without a moments hesitation, I hefted an ax off the top of a neighbor's wood pile, wound up, and swung it at my bedroom window, as hard as I possibly could.

Apparently my swing wasn't hard enough, because that ax bounced off the glass like rubber, and the butt end of it smacked me square on the top of the head. Turst me guys, it sure didn't feel like rubber.

"Not again" I yelled! And I swung that ax even harder than I had the first time.

This time, thank goodness, the glass of the church window exploded into my room. I scaled up the brick wall, through the window, over the glass, and climbed into bed.

It was 4:30.

The next morning, around 10 o'clock, my telephone rang. It was Jared--a nervous, love struck Jared.

"Hi Amy," he said.

"Jared? You know...if you love someone," I sputtered--brain aching from an accidental ax to the head, "then you should make sure they get inside before you drive away. That's what gentlemen do..."

Six months later, Jared proposed to me in the trampoline room of that fine, New England church. I said yes, and we've been locking each other out ever since.

Except these days, we usually do it on purpose.

***************************

The writing prompt for this week is: What made you say it? Tell a story (maybe of the first time it happened, maybe not) about a time you said 'I love you' to someone who wasn't a member of your family. Or write about someone you wish you'd said (or never said) 'I love you' to.

Good luck and be creative!

Post a link to your story in the comment section of this post, and I'll post a link to your story on Friday (or you know, whenever...)

And the results are in...

February 23, 2009

Last Monday I used a randomly generated writing prompt as motivation to share my story of Jared's masterful singing skills, and my razor sharp manipulation skills. I have no doubt that together, we'd make a very successful pair of panhandlers.

I'll be using a writing prompt every Monday for the next five weeks and inviting you guys to join in, too. Then, the following Friday (or Monday, or whenever the crud I feel like it day) I'll post links to everyone who decided to participate.

Last week's prompt was "Why even sing? Write about a time when someone was singing badly." So now, without further ado, I present to you a list of amazingly cool people who like to do what I say:

The first to go for it was Kimi. Not only does Kimi have nice long hair and excellent taste in glasses, but she should probably slap on a bikini and audition for America Idol. Really Kimi, you should.

Next up was Mia, who describes herself as a long time stalker. And you know what? Now that I think about it, I swear I've seen this girl slowly drive by my house in a practical, reliable family vehicle twenty or thirty times.

And then of course, we have the lovely Michelle, who very well might be the longest, most loyal reader of my blog. She chose to take a more serious approach to the writing prompt because du-uh, that's what Europe-dwellers who have a masters in Literature do--they take their shiz very seriously.

The next to jump on board was Patricia, who is lucky enough to be related to me. Patricia is Jared's cousin out in Idaho and her dry, tell-it-like-it-is blog always makes me laugh. She wrote about Jared's Grandma Clara--who, despite being one of my very favorite people in the world, couldn't carry a tune in a shopping bag. But my goodness, Clara loved to sing, and she sure did it with gusto!

And finally, Emily promises that she'll post her story today. And we all know that procrastination in any shape or form is more than good enough for me!

Thanks for your participation everyone!

Name that Schmuck

February 19, 2009

I had a really long day today. It involved, but was not limited to, a strong and constant urge to itch my bum, homemade rolls, and chicken noodle soup from scratch--I know, I'm a total overachiever.

By 7pm I was plain old done. You know how it feels--fat, tired, lazy, and ready to turn in for the night.

And then it came...a knock on the door, which, due to my religious inclinations, can only mean one thing:
Two gangly missionaries looking for something to eat.

Damn.

The first time they knocked I honestly pretended not to hear it. "No big deal," I told myself, "I think that was just my three-year-old falling out of his bed. Whatev." And I remained with my ass planted firmly on the sofa cushion.

But those fools are persistent I'll tell ya...so they knocked again.

Double damn.

This time, I hoisted my mismatched pajama-clad self off the couch and shuffled to the door in my pigtails and bare feet.

See the one on the left? See how gigantic that smile is? Well he flashed it at me. And see the other one? The tall one on the right who's way too into musical theater? Well he sang me some silly little hello song.

So I had to let them in.

We sat around my kitchen table and covered a range of topics from slaughtering pigs to exercise videos, but somehow the conversation eventually landed on how small the world is. And we decided to try an experiment.

So, without further ado, is there anyone here who recognizes either one of these guys?

Clues...Guy Smiley's from Utah (how very exotic), and 77 incher is from Arizona. They're both, obviously, serving in Maine--more specifically the New Hampshire Manchester Mission.

So really, does anybody out there know either one of these guys?

You can prove it to me with their first names.

Dude, that would be so crazy.

Shake It, But Don't Touch It

February 17, 2009

Jared and I have been asked by a very important church official to chaperon a dance this Friday night. It's youth conference, so to sum in up for all of you non-Mormon readers out there, 70% of the squeaky clean LDS teenagers in the entire state of Maine will be in attendance--desperately fighting the urge to squeeze one anothers' back sides.

Just to mess with those kids, I'm planning to walk around all night with my hands tucked securely into Jared's back pockets. I'll probably spank him on the dance floor, too--you know, just to make 'em jealous.

Mormonism, you see, is straightforward and unbelievably strict when it comes to rules and regulations regarding ass slappage. If you're not yet married, it is, under no circumstances, ever permissible to fondle a bum of the opposite sex. Once you are married however, you're expected to have many children in few years, rendering your bum completely unattractive and somewhat repulsive to your spouse. The spouse is completely free to smack dat ass, but must understand the associated risks--namely undulation, ricochet, and its unique ability to slap you back.

On Sunday, Jared let me know that we had been asked to chaperon. "Are you up for it," he asked?

"Can I dress slutty," I wanted to know?

"No, Amy. It's Sunday best."

"Like Sunday at church? Or Sunday at a Nascar event? Because one calls for a dress and the other calls for a belly shirt and booty shorts."

"Dress modestly," he insisted.

"Fine," I said, "but I'm definitely doing really skanky make-up and hooker boots." He had no reason to argue with that.

We've also been charged with the task of making posters for the event. According to Jared's plan, we'll make three posters that say "Modest Girls are the Hottest Girls," three posters that say "Remember Who You Are," and three posters that say "Take Pride in Your Standards."

According to my plan, we'll make three posters that say "It's Cool to Spank Your Own Behind. Beyonce Does it All the Time," three posters that say "Keep Yer Damn Pants Zipped," and three posters that say, "If We Catch You Making Out, We'll Definitely Call Your Mother."

My ideas seem to have a little bit more oomph, don't you think?

So that's where we'll be on Friday night, and I absolutely can't wait...can't wait to reveal my brand new dance routine that is!

Be Thou Reverent

February 16, 2009

Seven years ago, before Jared and I were married, I completely loved going to church.
Scratch that.

Seven years ago, before Jared and I were married, I completely loved being within a fifteen foot radius of that man.

I'm still not sure if it was his spiky hair, or his ever-so-slightly crooked teeth, or his Doc Martins that left me tripping over my words, but I was a twenty-one-year-old girl who was completely enamored with her brand-new, one-hundred-and thirty-pound fiance.

He waited tables at a high end restaurant. Hot.

He drove a really clean car with a Yakima ski rack on top. Hotter.

He even knew how to play ninety-seven different DMB songs on his black acoustic guitar. Hottest.

And, as if those factors weren't enough, Jared Lawson came dangerously close to doing anything I asked of him--anything.

"We should be grapes for Halloween," I'd suggest. "Purple or green," he'd ask? "I'll get some tights."

"Jared," I'd venture? "I wish I had some strawberry jello." And before I knew it, my husband-to-be was standing at my kitchen counter, unloading a Shop n' Save bag as he panted the words, "I wasn't sure if you wanted the powdery mix or the little lunch box cups, so I bought you three of each."

What can I say? The guy was a total and complete charmer--every cubic inch of him.

I especially loved Sundays. Jared was fresh off his two-year stint as a full-time missionary, and that kid could quote scripture like some kind of creepy religious Rain Man. On top of that, he seemed to know the harmony to every single song in the hymn book.

Righteous sexiness...it doesn't get any better than that.

One Sunday morning, as Jared was happily harmonizing during the opening hymn, I leaned over and whispered, "Sing as badly as you can, Jared. And maybe do it in a New York accent."

So he did. And it was terrible. And I was having the time of my freakin' life.

When we got to the second verse, Jared lapsed back into his old harmonic ways. "No," I muttered, "keep going!"

So he did, only louder this time.

By the time we reached the end of the song, Jared was belting it out at the top of his lungs--still in a New York accent. Even the oldest and deafest of ladies were working hard to stifle their giggles, because whoa, someone in that room was a horrible singer.

During the middle of the service, I scribbled a message on the back of a program, folded it in half, and slipped it over to Jared. He opened it up, glanced at his instructions, slid the note into the breast pocket of his suit, and nodded as if to say, "Absolutely, Amy. I'll accept your dare."

And he did.

When the organ music piped up, playing the introduction to the closing hymn, Jared Lawson audibly cleared his throat. Then, one full measure before the congregation began to sing, my fiance did. And it was loud, and bold, and still in that same New York accent.

It was too much. Every single member of the congregation--from the incapacitated old men to the Bishop and his counselors were noticeably resisting the sharp urge to break down laughing. I was snickering into the side of my purse, and our good friend Matt had to get up and excuse himself from the scene all together.

Thank goodness for the whole 'gift of forgiveness' thing, because whoa m'goodness, I was knee deep in sin that morning.

Seven years later, the dynamics of our relationship have shifted dramatically. Jared flat out refuses to wear any halloween costume ever--no exceptions. And the late night grocery store trips? I don't even waste my breath asking. But every now and again, if I catch him at the right moment, Jared will happily sing How Great Thou Art, out of tune, in his now-perfected New York accent.

He just watches his volume these days.

*******
I used a writing prompt as a jumping-off point for this post, and as a challenge to myself, I'll use a randomly generated prompt every Monday for the next six weeks.

If you like to write, why don't you try it, too? This week's prompt is: Why even sing? Write about a time when people were singing badly.

C'mon now, you can do it! It could be a drunken concert story, an elementary school choir story, or maybe an historical ladies night out!

If you'd like to participate, leave a link to your story in the comments section of this post. On Friday I'll write a post linking to every one's blog who decided to take a stab at it.

C'mon.....it'll be fun!

It Could Go Either Way...

February 13, 2009

Here's a picture of James doing a fierce trick:
To the untrained eye, it might look like my three-year-old is doing nothing more that nuzzling his head into a very dirty dog bed--and actually, you are correct.

But in that little guy's imagination, he was spinning around on his head like a tricked-out break dancer. Or using body language to say, "Kiss it, Mom."

It's hard to know for sure.

Oil Negotiations

February 12, 2009

I need to pay our oil company by 4 o'clock this afternoon.

I know that sounds like a fairly straightforward transaction--oil truck fills tank, oil man leaves bill, Amy pays oil company--but dude, it's completely not. This is going to be very, very complicated.

Our heater, you see, crapped the bed a few weeks ago and we ended up paying five hundred bucks to have it serviced. Fair price? Yes. Great service? Of course. Drained the remaining funds from our household oil account? You bet your ass it did.

Actually, that last one was a lie--we never had a household oil account to deplete. The Lawsons, you see, tend to use the 'Hell Yeah-Oh No' accounting system. In case you're interested in implementing this fine system in your own family, here's how it works...

Any given Monday:
I would like to pay the electric company so we may continue to watch American Idol on Tuesday nights. I wonder if we have enough money to do that. Checks bank account on-line. Hell yeah we do!

Any given Thursday:
Walks out to the mailbox to retrieve the latest issue of US Weekly and finds and overdraft notice from Maine Savings Bank. Oh no.

Very simple.

Today falls comfortably into the 'Oh no' side of the equation--and actually, I've been anticipating this scenario for a week or so.

I live and work in a very small town, so I see the owner of the oil company often--and let me tell you, he's one heck of a nice guy. Just this week alone I've run into Roger at the grocery store, at a public meeting, and in front of the funeral home when I was out walking my dog.

When I saw Roger at the grocery store, he tapped James--who was siting in the cart--on the top of the foot, looked at me and said, "Cute kid."

"Thanks Roger," I replied! "I'll trade him for that tank of oil...and then I'll baby sit for you all the time--free of charge! Whatta deal!"

No dice.

The next time I ran into Roger at the public meeting, I leaned over and whispered, "Hey Roger, I'll write you a poem all about the Chief of Police if you give me that oil for free."

No luck.

"Draw a picture of him in his skivvies?"

Still no luck.

And last night, when I ran into Roger while I was walking Gracie, he cut me off at the pass..."Nope, sorry Ms. Lawson, I don't want your dog."

Damn.

So I'm not sure what to do today. So far I've narrowed it down to two offers:

1. I'll wear a HappyTown Fuel t-shirt everywhere I go for the next six months.

or

2. I'll show him my boobs (cause his wife's got a pair of drumsticks, if you know what I mean).

If all else fails, I guess I could write the guy a check--but my goodness, where's the fun in that?

(click here for past tales of Amy's bartering escapades)

Knockers

February 11, 2009

I could really get used to this 48-degrees-in-the-middle-of-February stuff. Really, I could. All day long I've been sitting at my desk, organizing my email inbox, fighting the hard urge to do a lap around the block wearing nothing but some sort of a hand knit scarf.

A little taste of spring'll do that to ya.

I really have no idea where my fantasies toward public nudity originated, but hoo boy let me tell you, they're there.

When I think about it from the practical point of view I usually tell myself, "Amy, of course you want to run around naked. Nudity involves absolutely no ironing and you get the feel the wind through the crack of your ass."

But the whimsical side of me? The whimsical side says, "Amy, let's face it, it's all about the wind and the ass crack thing."

And then there's the honest side of my personality which manifests itself every now and again--and each time it does, I think, "I'd like to know what really happens to a set of honkers after the age of seventy. I've heard they start to look like a rubbery pair of drumsticks...can it be true? If we all walked around naked, I could certainly put this mystery to rest."

Rubber drumsticks. That's gross. But very intriguing.

Are there any elderly readers out there? If so, I hope you'll be willing to confirm or deny?

Thank you!

Ugly Day

February 10, 2009

I'd like to let the entire world know that I'm having one of those days wherein a big, slimy piece of poo looks a whole lot cuter than I do. Honestly, that woman who works down the hall from me--the state employee with the yellow-tinted glasses that happen to be the size of dinner plates?

The one who likes to pair a long, flowered skirt with rubber mary-janes and athletic ankle socks every single day?

The one who chain smokes in the front seat of her 1991 Chevy Caprice through the entirety of her lunch break?

The one who still uses scrunchies?

Don't mess with me here--if you've ever had a job anywhere in the United States of America, then you know damn well who I'm talking about.

She looks better than I do today. Way, way better.

Is anyone else experiencing a major ugly day today?

Up, Down, Up, Down

February 9, 2009

Honestly now, what is the deal with men?

This morning, between the hours of 9am and 10am, my husband called me twice. I was at my office and he was at home--you know, since that lucky, self-employed bonehead happens to take Mondays off.

I've grown all too accustomed to his Monday morning calls. So when Jared's number faded onto the caller ID, I picked up my phone and without even saying hello I mumbled, "Dude, I don't know where it is."

And Jared was like, "Are you sure you don't know where it is? Because I really can't find the dog brush anywhere."

"Is it in the dog brush basket," I asked?

"Nope."

"Then I really don't know where it is."

Ten minutes later, the phone rang again.

"Amy," he said, "do you know where my keys are?"

"Are they on your key hook," I asked?

"No. Any other ideas where they might be?"

And this time, instead of lecturing my six-foot husband, I decided to try something new.

"Ummm....check the dryer," I said. "I'm pretty sure I saw them on top of the dryer."

So Jared ran down the basement stairs to look on top of the dryer. No luck.

"You know," I continued, "I feel like I saw your keys in James's room. Sometimes he takes things. You should go up look on his nightstand."

So Jared ran up two flights of stairs to our three-year-old's bedroom. Still no luck.

"Try the workshop," I suggested.

And down, down, down he went.

"What about the guest room," I mentioned?

And Jared went up, up, up.

Then back down to rifle through his ski bag, back up to look inside the bathroom cabinet, out to the garage to scour the shelves, and back up to the closet--you know, strictly for entertainment purposes.

And then, only after three trips up, three trips down and one trip into the sub zero elements did it finally dawn on Jared...he married a total and complete $^!%head.

Candy Management

February 6, 2009

Every now and again I experience the overwhelming and urgent need to spend an hour's worth of my income on candy. Nothing fancy or grown up about--I just want candy.

Like yesterday for example--in the morning I bought a bag of carmels with the white powdered sugar dot in the middle, at lunch time I bought a giant bag of Peanut M&Ms from the grocery store, when I stopped at the gas station on my way home I picked up some swedish fish, and then last night, on my way to art class I got myself two packages of Starburst and one Reese's Big Cup.

Disgusting, isn't it?

Now just to clear things up, I didn't eat all of the candy in one sitting. Sure I ate some of it, but for the most part I've been hauling my ten pounds of happiness all around town in my purse thinking, "I'm an adult, damn it. I can have as much of this stuff as I want."

It's also fun to sit across the table from the Superintendent of Schools, dig through my bag for an important contract, look up, smile, and say, "Swedish fish?"

Just so you know, the Superintendent of Schools loves swedish fish. Peanut M&Ms? Not so much--and I can't say I blame him, it was a poorly executed spur-of-the-moment choice on my part. Very embarrassing.

But not as embarrassing as, let's say, dribbling a pool of red candy coated spit all over the middle of the very important contract. The Superintendent, bless his heart, got a little overzealous with the fish. And really now, who can blame him?

And my three-year-old son? He's not on to me in the slightest.

Yesterday afternoon, as we were zipping along in the car, James clearly watched as I slipped a carmel into my mouth. "Mommy," he asked, "what was dat?"

"It was a giant broccoli vegetable vitamin, buddy. Do you want one."

"Uh, no sanks."

I didn't think so.

Follow Up

February 4, 2009

And since that last post contained more than enough whining, complaining, and negativity to carry us all through the calendar year, I will follow it up with something that displays my lightheartedness and gratitude for all things good in the world of work...

I am thankful for financial planners who assume, due to the nature of my husband's business and education, that we have a lot of money. I am grateful that financial planners typically prefer to discuss matters over a lunch that they pay for--especially good Chinese food.

I am also thankful for the State of Maine's copy machine maintenance guy. Someday I kind of hope that his clothes fall off by accident.

I enjoy my biweekly paycheck.

I'm happy to work behind a church that holds a once weekly aerobic class for super old men--totally makes me smile when I walk by the window on Tuesdays.

I'm grateful that I work close enough to home that I can go home to pee when the bathroom is so unbelievable stinky.

I like to fax love notes to my husband from my office to his.

See? I'm not such a bad person after all!

Smelly Smelly Work

February 4, 2009

I'm not sure why, but lately work has been right next to excruciating. I fully understand that I should never complain about my employment situation in an economy such as this, but let's be honest here--I'm only human, and a somewhat crappy human on top of it all.

So I'm not gonna mince words about his one--work stinks.

If I examine the issues closely, I'm quite sure it has everything to do the meetings--they're long, they're boring, and they happen at the most inconvenient of times.

On Monday night, for example, I had a meeting. It started at 7pm and I was slated to give a ten minute presentation around 8 o'clock. When the clock struck 9:30, it was finally my turn. And don't get me wrong here, it's not that I don't like listening to a two hour public discussion about new lockers for the police station, it's just that I don't like listening to a two hour public discussion about new lockers for the police station when I don't have a bag of Doritos with me.

When I was finally able to leave the meeting at 9:45pm, I had the most horrible revelation in the history of my life: I had to walk home. Our '89 Blazer, you see, was in the shop, James was at home sleeping, and Jared (Mr. Helicopter Parent) refused to leave him home alone to come and pick me up--even for a second.

So I walked home. At night. During the winter. In Maine.

So what if I only live one third of a mile from Town Hall? It was still traumatizing.

As I trudged along in my work shoes, I decided it would prove much easier to walk on the side of the road rather than the sidewalk, which had an inch or two of snow accumulated on it. Just as I passed the pizza shop, I could hear a car coming up behind me so I did what any responsible pedestrian would do and I stepped back on to the sidewalk and continued my cold walk home.

I could hear the car quickly approaching, and just as I decided to look up and offer a wave, my entire life flashed right before my eyes. Fine, that was overly dramatic--it was an empty Dr. Pepper bottle that flashed before my eyes...but whatever.

Long story short, some punk decided it would be funny to thrown an empty 1-liter soda bottle at my head.

And that my friends, is reason number one why I don't like work--dirty, flying objects.

And number two? Well number two is simple--excruciating people.

Yesterday afternoon, while my ass sat in another out-of-town meeting, my brain was keenly plotting the disappearance of the obnoxious woman sitting next to me. Dude, she was bad. Like gum chomping, interrupting, going on and on and on bad. Like wearing a little miniature working harmonica necklace with matching harmonica earrings bad. I honestly had to fight the strong urge to zip her head up in her purse.

Finally, after the meeting was finally over finally, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

It was her.

I turned, smiled and said, "Oooh, I've got to run. I have a chicken in the crock pot five towns away."

She was like, "Can I get your business card first?"

And do you know what I said? DO YOU KNOW WHAT I SAID? And I still can't believe these words came out of my mouth, "You know, that's funny, I don't have any business cards on me."

"You don't?"

"Well, I just ordered 500, but when they came they were all spelled wrong--every last one of them. So I sent them back. And now I don't have any. Bye!" And I (the quick-thinking genius) ran to the parking lot.

I simply couldn't stand the thought of hearing her voice ever, ever again.

Ever.

And the third reason why work is so very difficult at this very moment?

I desperately have to use the potty, but it's way, way too stinky to enter right now. I can tell because the door is shut, the fan is on, and the accountant down the hall is smiling like he just dislodged a very satisfying doo-doo.

Work stinks.

Literally.

Just Some Randomness

February 2, 2009

I was home sick for the better part of this past weekend, so I'm sad to say that I have no embarrassing stories to spout off to you guys this morning. Not one. What a drag. But remember that 25 Random Things thing that's floating all over the internet lately? Please allow it to be my saving grace.

1. My house is heated with a combination of kerosene, electric, and wood--and even with all of those options, it's still frickin' freezing in there.

2. I have the greatest trashman in the world. He knocks on my door when I forget to put my barrels out and puts them back in the garage when he's done emptying them. I attribute his superior customer service to my superior sex appeal.

3. You know that song "It's getting hot in here so take off all your clothes"? It always seems to come on the radio when my boss walks through the door. This has been happening, without fail, since 2001.

4. I listen to sports radio a few times a week just so I can impress my husband. I like to say things like, "There's a special place in Hell for agents like Scott Borris!" and "No. You're wrong. He is a free agent this year."

5. I make the best baked beans in the entire universe.

6. If I had to do it over again, I'd major in art and marry rich.

7. But since I can't do it over again I plan to help my husband get rich and open an art gallery right near his office someday. It'll do.

8. Sometimes I love my job and other times it blows big, fat, monkey balls. Surprisingly, the times I like my job the most are the times that I'm trying to talk people into giving us money. I'm a pretty good saleswoman thanks to the fact that most people think I'm cute. I'm like, "Oh yeah, I'm totally cute and disarming. Now write me a check!"

9. My husband's office is honestly the nicest looking healthcare office I've ever had the pleasure of walking into.

10. My office on the other hand, has enough Chex Mix mashed into the carpet to keep me nourished for six to twelve weeks.

11. I'm doing a duathlon this summer (run and bike) and a couple of biathlons (run and shoot...at targets...with a rifle). When I told my friend Brendan he shook his head, gazed at his feet and said, "Someone's gonna lose a finger. I can just feel it."

12. There are very few people in the world that I just don't like, but rest assured, there are a few.

13. I like to repurpose old furniture and use it in my house. There's just something about using my Grandma's old sewing table or my mom's old kitchen chairs that makes me feel happy. It's amazing what a coat of paint can do!

14. That little groundhog is a bastard.

15. I think I'd like to have three kids and two dogs.

16. I tried to make Jared some homemade breadbowls this weekend and it was an absolute nightmare. Some things are just worth the money.

17. We're having clam chowder for dinner tonight. James calls in bacon and butter soup. He pretty much hit the nail on the head.

18. I transferred college twice during my undergrad and once during grad school. It's a total pain in the ass to get copies of my transcripts.

19. Sometimes I think I'd like to get a PhD, and other times I think I'd like to become a Medical Assistant. And other times I'd like to be Jared's secretary, or be a stay-at-home woman. Or a professional athlete.

20. I don't give a rip about what others think of my religion. Love it? Hate it? Misunderstand it? That's their issue, not mine.

21. Right this moment, I also don't give a rip about what happens to me when I die. Currently I'm worried about loving my neighbor, helping those in need, and being the very best version of Amy that I can possibly be. If I do those things, and do those things well, I don't think I need to be concerned about my eternal well being. I think there's far too much of an emphasis on personal salvation in most religions, and well, if you participate in religion for the express purpose of saving yourself then it just feels like you're missing something major.

22. I learned number 21 from my Dad. That's why he's pretty much my hero--right up there with Jesus.

23. I think I'm a really great mother, an okay wife, and a pretty crappy employee.

24. When I was a child I formed tight emotional bonds with inanimate objects like toothbrushes and hair clips. I was convinced that they all had feelings and that they all loved me as much as I loved them.

25. Most of the time when I'm sitting in a meeting taking notes I'm actually drawing cartoons of the other attendees wearing nothing but their underpants.

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your week flies right by!