A Face Like an Angel

November 30, 2010

Some days, I'm quite honestly blown away by the depth and thoughtfulness of the teenagers I teach every morning. Their insights on faith and miracles can be so innocent, yet so mature at the very same time. They help me learn so much.

And there are days like today.

Ho. Lee. Crap.

If I didn't know each and every one of these kids' mothers personally, I'd swear that they all came flying out of a clown's birth canal squashed in a little, tiny Volkswagen Beetle--probably hitting each other with props. You know, giant inflatable hammers and little mini purses....it doesn't really matter, my point is that THEY'RE FRIGGIN' CRAZY.

Today, the same kid who insisted on wearing his hood like this the entire class,

also insisted that he knew what the 'gift of discerment' means. According to him, if you've been blessed with the spiritual gift of discernment, you can push someone out a second story window and if they're an angel they'll float up, and if they're on the devil's team, they'll fall.

I guess I thought that whole falling-out-a-window thing had more to do with gravity--but really now, who am I to know? I don't wear my hood in such a way that my face looks like an anus.

Lucky for him, he's my favorite.

Adventures in Craigslisting: The Maine Woods Edition

November 19, 2010

(Did I tell you I won the pizza? Because I totally won the pizza, and as my token of appreciation, I plan to dedicate every single pepperoni burp to all of you, my readers.)

So, the longer I live in Maine, the more I realize just how hardcore this place really is. James has been watching How to Train a Dragon today, and I've got to say, Mainers are about half a step beyond those Vikings as far as technology goes. They're like half a step ahead of us in terms of dress.

Right now, Mainers are furiously preparing for winter, so everywhere you turn, people are chopping their wood, insulating their windows, and tromping around trying to shoot a buck before hunting season ends next weekend. Up in this neck of the woods, hunting is 20% about sport, 70% about feeding the family, and 10% about putting bumper stickers on your truck that say things like "FIND ONE WITH A BIG RACK AND MOUNT IT" and "GUT DEER?" Or wait, my favorite, "IF GUNS KILL PEOPLE, THEN SPOONS MADE ROSIE O'DONNELL FAT!"

I kid you not, I saw all three of those on my way to work today. What can I say? It's home and I love it. I grew up thinking a $42,000 tuition bill was normal, James'll grow up thinking wearing blaze orange to the bus stop is normal. Truth is, we're all screwed up, so let's just be nice.

Two weeks ago, the wide world of craigslist brought me more than an hour away from home, and out to the middle of nowhere--Norway, Maine to be exact.

You like that sign? It's a Maine staple. We can't get enough.

The truth is, when you find a killer deal on bunkbed mattresses, you take the killer deal on bunkbed mattresses--wherever you have to go. And then, puh-lease pay attention to this, you NEVER LET YOUR CHILDREN SLEEP ON THE CRAIGSLIST BUNKBED MATTRESSES. Everybody knows that's how they end up with those crazy weird diseases like diphtheria, and cholera, and wildly crooked teeth.

But in pursuit of bunkbed mattresses I was, so off to Norway, Maine I went. By myself. On a night that was pouring buckets.

It took me longer than it should have to get where I was going--that was on account of the weather, the non-googleable address, and directions that included all kind of creative phrases like, "Ya tuhhhhn left aftah the fiyah hydrant, travel three miles 'til ya see the supah lahhhge wood pile, bump ovah two pot holes, and then pull into the driveway just befoah the mailbox shaped like a small mouth bass."

Pfft, no problem there! The car practically knew the way without me!

When I finally found that bass-shaped mailbox, the details started meshing together--and hoo boy, it wasn't looking good. I was in the woods, on a rainy night, with no cell phone reception. I was at what appeared to be a body shop, and I was buying mattresses from a total and complete stranger named Bob.

With all those pieces forming a perfect horror-movie-shaped puzzle, I did exactly what they tell you not to do. I gave myself a quick pep-talk (Kick 'im in the balls. Kick 'im in the balls. Kick 'im in the balls.), hopped out of my car, and went to claim my bargain.

As I made my way over to the garage, the giant door rolled up and back to reveal a whole fleet of classic cars, a circa-1980's Heather Locklear pin-up, and a forty-something year old man wearing a flannel shirt and some sweatpants with elastic at the ankles--good for keeping debris off the calves.

He came out, met me in the rain with an umbrella, and over the pounding of the weather he screamed, "DON'T KNOW IF YOU'SE OFFENDED BY THIS KINDA THING, BUT THOUGHT I'D GIVE YA SOME WAHHHNING THAT THEY'SE A DEAH CAHCUSs HANGIN' BY TH'RAFTAHS!"

Translation: I'm not sure if you're offended by this kind of thing, but I thought I should warn you that there's a deer carcass hanging from the rafters of this garage.

Clearly, not something I anticipated. Clearly, something I should have anticipated.

Honestly, I have nothing against hunting. It's a natural, cost-effective, super healthy way to feed a family. But you know, Jared's not a deer hunter and it's not something I've ever been up close and personal with. But I'm a Mainer, it was time, so I acted like it was no big deal.

I was like, "Psssshhht. A deer carcass? I'm so cool with that, Bob. No prob. No prob, Bob. I'm so fine with it."

And I was.

Until I saw it.

I'll spare you the really rugged details, but I will say that the legs and hooves were on the floor, the skin was draped over a chair, and that poor bastard was looking right at me.

I looked at Bob and said, "Wow. I've never seen a deer like this. That's really fascinating."

And thanks to my 'fascination,' I got the super detailed tour. Bob was all, "Well this heyah's the brisket. This is the mince meat. And this? Well this is the trachea!," as he plunked it with his thumb and middle finger. Yes, yes, definitely hollow.

I was somehow managing to view the deer through scientific, objective eyes, possibly gaining a deeper appreciation for the origins of my food...until I noticed the tongue.

That deer's tongue was all John McCain style. A whole lot like this:

Can I just mention that I found a picture of
'hairy tongue syndrome' while I was looking for
this? And that I'll never be the same? Ever?

The second I got wind of the big, black deer tongue, the contents of my colon were instantly transformed from solid poo into liquid diarrhea...liquid diarrhea with a very serious eviction notice. How does nature do that?

I felt my stomach hit my knees and I wasn't about to ask Bob if I could use his bathroom. So I glanced at my watch, told him I had to hit the road and we'd better load up those bunkbed mattresses--with haste. He [quite seriously] brushed the deer fur from the mattresses with great care, and loaded 'em up. I shoved a few bills into his palm, and peeled out of his driveway, on the prowl for a magical bathroom in the middle of the Maine woods.

I never did find that magical bathroom, but twenty minutes later I did find a bathroom at a really dirty discount store, and no bathroom has ever looked so nice.

The End.

Opposing Forces

November 18, 2010

Today, my Facebook status update is something to the effect of,

I'm simultaneously convinced that we're about A) become successful beyond my wildest dreams, and B) have to sell everything we own and move into our Toyota Matrix. I'm grateful every day that I'm not married to myself.

Now tell me, is this a solo sail on the crazy ship, or has anyone else every felt this way? Because honestly, deep down in the bottom of my heart, I feel like I'm right on the cusp of something huge, something that fills up every nook and crevice of my personal potential.

And then, on the other hand, I'm pretty well convinced that my life is balancing on a house of cards and there's wind in the ten day forecast.

Let's think about this for a second. If I take the 'cusp of something huge,' add it to 'the house of cards,' and divide by two, what do we come up with? That's right--normal, average, fine, secure.

Chances are, that's exactly how my life will play out. I know this. So the real question is: Why can't I stop the insane mental ping-pong game? Why can't I just be logical and say, "Welp, I guess the gas is going on the Visa this month. We'll pay it off when that check comes in."

Doesn't that direction of thought sound so easy? So simple and appealing? So true?

So completely impossible for me today.

But it does have me thinking about one of my husband's very favorite songs. The lyric that always kills me is at 1:58 and it goes:

Everybody's troubled with the hustle and the bustle,
The payment on the house is late.
If I ever have a problem like that,
I guess I'll be in pretty good shape.

Luckily, the payment on the house isn't technically late. But either way, Ryan Bingham (who may or may not be on the list of people I'd make out with even though I'm married) managed to capture me, and the vast majority of other 30ish year old Americans, in four little lines. That's what I call good music.

So here I am, with two feet, each plotted firmly on an opposing side of the tracks. Half of me thinking that I'm about to put the moon in my pocket, and the other half convincing my husband that the car's about to get repossessed.

Is this normal?


November 16, 2010

The pizza contest is still dragging on, but thankfully, there's now an official end time--tomorrow night at 11:59. I moved from really hoping we win this pizza to praying my brains out that we win this pizza, because I just heard from our accountant, and whoa. Now don't get me wrong here, you can't put a price tag on living in a nation wherein we have the freedom to post Bejewled scores and openly bash the government on our Facebook walls--but they kind of just did, and whoa again.

We have a colleague who was, not so long ago, sentanced to a smidge of jail time for tax evasion. Which has me thinking....if I were to hand Jared over to the state penetentery for say, oh I don't know, four or five years, would they take that as a prepayment on our taxes? Because right now, that's option number three, and one and two involve prostitution.

Nothing like a little middle class/privledged whining to brighten up your inbox, huh? I know, I'm totally making myself cringe with my brattiness.

Honestly though, it's times like this that might just bump me over the edge into doing something a little bit different with my life--a little less conventional and a little more risky. Because you know, since averageness isn't getting us leaps and bounds ahead of the game, what's the harm in straying from the norm?

Coach still has his testicles, maybe that's an opportunity right there.

Or you could help me win free pizza.

One Final Push for Pizza

November 14, 2010

Remember that contest? The one wherein I was trying to win a free pizza every week for a year? Well believe it or not, it's still not over. It is, officially, the longest contest in the history of the world.

But, I think it ends today. Annnnnndddd, I'm still in the lead.

So I'm going for one final push.

If you haven't already, can you follow this link and 'like' Rooster's Pizza? Then, can you click on this link and 'like' it, too?

I've been bringing you humiliating stories for years and years and years. Let's face it, you owe me. Or not. But either way....won't you do it?


A Taste of Redemption, and Other Crap

November 13, 2010

Clearly, the internet gods have a problem with me. After twelve days at the repair shop, and a new hard-drive, my laptop is still spontaneously shutting down. And guess what else? A certain German Shorthaired Pointer gnawed through the power cord.

Man I love that dog.

I swiped Jared's laptop while he's busy getting ready for work, but this will last approximately four minutes before he catches me and craps on me, because, "Oh my gosh, Amy (said in the whiniest tone you can imagine)!!! I hate it when you sign into your Google account on my computer (said even whinier)!!!"

Personally, I hate it when children in third world countries are rendered homeless due to war--but you know, those little things that drive us bonkers, they're different for everyone!

In happier news, I tasted a little bit of redemption on the running front. I ran a 5k on Veteran's Day with the goal of 21:30. I came in at 21:33, which I consider close enough. A friend from my running club paced me and kept me going with a combination of motivational phrases and creative curse words. Things like, "C'mon, let's pass that girl, she's got worse form than you do!" and "Alright, let's ramp it up and power past this @#$% wearing the #$%^&* smurf pants."

It was an ugly three miles--I was sucking wind enough to make a scene, and my only clean running clothes were in varying shades of pink. I'm not so good at keeping track of personal records, but high school aside, I think that's a new PR. Seriously, I'm thrilled. Three miles of success is so much more fun than twenty-six miles of craptastitude. I really do think I'll stick with the short stuff for a while. Maybe.

And other than that, I've got to ask...has anyone here seen those little pancake sausage ball things at Dunkin' Donuts? I really want a three pack.

Happy Saturday!

My Propane Company

November 10, 2010

I really love my propane company. They ask about my kids, their customer service is over the top, they keep my family warm and alive. But you know what?  I absolutely hate my propane company at the very same time. It's not their fault, but I despise the fact that I have to spend my hard earned money on heat instead of candy.

Hate. It.

Back in August, I was running by the propane company when I decided to stop for a drink from the spigot on the side of their building. Just as I was not washing the sweat out from under my armpits, Dave, my friendly local heating buddy popped out of the side door and said, "Hey Amy. Are you pre-buying this year or do you want to do the budget plan?"

Didn't I say they had fantastic customer service?

So I was like, "Dave. You think I can afford to pre-buy? Do I freaking look like Paris Hilton to you? Of course I'm doing the budget plan." And two days later the contract came in the mail.

For those of you who live in the warmer weather states, the budget plan allows you to lock in your propane price for the entire season, and break the cost up into convenient and affordable monthly installments. Yay!
So the contract came in August, and to be 100% completely honest with you, it's still sitting on my desk.

I don't know where the fear comes from, but every time I sign that heating contract, I feel like I flushing my future down the toilet. Whenever I pick up the pen and work up the nerve to scribble on the dotted line, the devil spits tricky little phrases into my ear, like, "Imagine the vacations you could take with that money!" and, "Oh, come on, just make 'em wear sweatshirts this winter! They get plenty of heat at daycare!"

So far, he's won me over. But somehow, just like usual, my propane company outsmarted the devil by virtue of their most excellent customer service.

Just a few minutes ago, while I was sitting on my bed, ignoring Maggie's crying, I heard the *beep, beep, beep* of a truck reversing. It sounded just like the UPS truck (not that I'm any kind of expert on the UPS truck,since I never buy anything for myself--especially not without Jared's permission and blessing.) I jumped off my bed, absolutely thrilled to tear into the mystery package, and hoo boy, my heart sank to my feet when I saw the fuel truck.

How could that wretched old bubble-shaped truck be here? I never even signed that contract!

So I called Dave. I was like, "Dave. Why's the truck here! I never signed that contract! Maybe I don't want any heat this year!"

And he was all, "Really, Amy? You're forgoing heat?"

"No," I said, "but maybe I decided to go with another company."

"Pretty sure you didn't."

"Fine. But really, why'd the truck come?"

"Because it's November, in Maine, and Jared's probably freezing his nuts off."

They seem to know me better than I know myself. And that's why I love my propane company.

What's Up?

I'm working on a post today!

Ten Days

November 6, 2010

Have I mentioned that my laptop's been at the repair shop? For ten days? Ten days. What can they possibly be doing to a laptop for that obscene amount of time? I have no idea, but it's totally crimping my lifestyle.

I'm dying to tell you about my recent adventure in Craigslisting, but I can't, because my laptop's been at the repair shop. For ten days.

And His Name Shall Be...

November 2, 2010

It's final. His name is Coach (kennel name is Heeza Royal Coachman, after something fly-fishing related), and so far he's a good dog. Lots of crotch sniffing and the occasional accident on the kitchen floor--exactly what you'd expect from a puppy.

So far he seems to be an adequate running buddy. He keeps up, he stays to the right, and if all goes as planned, he'll live up to his name. For the time being he's coming along for the three and four milers, but maybe someday, if I haven't thrown in the towel for something easier on the knees (like bowling), he'll be a distance guy. We'll see.

Gracie, our eleven year old greyhound, seems to be handling her new housemate just fine. She sleeps, she farts, she ate an entire turkey carcass out of the trash while I was at work this morning--exactly what you'd expect from that big ol' girl.

I stopped at home for lunch about an hour ago, and Gracie greeted me at the door with a total, "Seriously? Say what you will because I don't give damn," kind of look. It's her signature. Then, when she turned around to walk away and ignore me (really, this is normal protocol), I noticed that she was just about as wide as a barrel.

Excellent. In between the mad dash of kids, and coats, and figuring out who the crap I'm voting for, I forgot to take out the trash. Cross your fingers for no midnight trip to the emergency vet clinic. We did that this time last year and I swear on all thing holy that it was more expensive than my epidural with Maggie.

Now before I move on, did anyone notice that I happened to whip up a turkey for just-another-Monday-night dinner? Really, did you? Yes? Maybe?

Because Jared kind of didn't. At least not until he halfway digested the gravy, then he was all, "Wait. What?! A turkey?! You spoil me, Amy!"

And I was like, "I know, you should buy me more stuff! Soon!"

So far, no dice. I'll keep you posted.

And as another sidenote, I'd really like to add some pictures of the dogs, but my laptop's in the shop and I'm working on a computer that, I schnit you not, has a disc drive--this gem truly doesn't understand what a digital picture is. If this computer could listen to music, it would totally love Phil Collins.

Friends, I'm passionate about my job, especially the cutting edge equipment. Some people have iPads. Some people have netbooks. I have a floppy disc drive, byotches.

The good news is, who, in total and complete honesty, really wants to see a picture of someone else's dog? He's brown and white and poops in my yard--use your imagination and your mental picture will be more that sufficient. I promise.

So there, life goes on with two dogs. In the grand scheme of things, what's an extra splash or urine here and there?