Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why I May Be Suing Somebody

I woke up Sunday with a horrific neckache.

"What's the hell?" I wondered crankily, as I staggered to the bathroom to attend to bidness and brush my teeth. Four possibilities came to mind immediately:

  1. Meningitis
  2. Neck cancer
  3. MS flareup
  4. Slept funny

I was pretty sure it was one of the first two, but I wasn't going to rule out #3 or #4 immediately. I'd mull it over while having some coffee.

First there was cat bidness to deal with. LOTS of it. Who the hell decided three cats was a good idea? So, yeah, feeding, scooping litter, medicating...crap. By the time I was done, I was ready for a good sit-down.

Coffee in hand, I settled down on the couch. Ahhhhh. Better. Wait! What's this? Why, it's my laptop, positioned just how I left it (on top of a box containing a puzzle that I thought my husband and I could do as a wholesome alternative to watching TV). I looked around guiltily. Oh, that's right! Husband is out of town!!

"Well, what's the harm, really?" I said to myself reassuringly. "I mean, one or two more episodes isn't such a big deal."

Capt. Nap was sprawled out in the middle of the floor, vigorously cleaning his butt.

"STOP JUDGING ME!" I shouted. "I CAN QUIT ANYTIME I WANT!"

He paused for a second, glanced at me, and resumed cleaning.

"Whatever," I mumbled, and lurched forward to turn on my laptop and continue my "Breaking Bad" marathon on Netflix.

Mid-lurch I stopped in agony. Was the meningitis getting worse? What WAS this horrible pain?? Did I need to go to Urgent Care? I gritted my teeth and turned on my laptop. Once the show began, I sank back into the couch. My neck throbbed. I could not get into a comfortable position. It was totally interfering with my enjoyment of the show. I thought back to yesterday; what had I done?

  1. Woke up
  2. Cat bidness
  3. "Breaking Bad" (begin Season 1)
  4. Showered
  5. More "Breaking Bad"
  6. Lunch
  7. "Breaking Bad" (begin Season 2)
  8. Cat bidness
  9. Dinner
  10. "Breaking Bad" (finish Season 2)
  11. Well-earned sleep

See! Nothing strenuous -- unless it was taking care of those damn cats. Maybe I twisted my neck trying to scoop one of the four (4), YES, FOUR, litterboxes? Hmmmm. This was a mystery. I slumped into a slightly different position on the couch, cursing and trying to keep my head in a position where I could see the show on my laptop. A very small lightbulb (like, nightlight-size) sputtered on.

"Now wait just a darn minute," I mused. "Could it be...?"

Could it be that the HOURS I'd spent the previous day hunched on the couch watching "Breaking Bad" had caused my horrific neck pain? Only one way to find out! I sprang off the couch to do some stretching exercises and then go outside for invigorating fresh air.

HAHAHAHAHA!

No, I didn't. I peeled myself off the couch, shuffled upstairs without moving my neck for a mega-dose of Aleve, and continued my disgusting "Breaking Bad" marathon. This time, though. I added another wholesome and unopened puzzle to my "laptop stand." Within an hour, I was feeling better -- and making an impressive dent in Season 3!

If any among you are lawyers (or if you've watched a lot of legal shows on TV), can you please advise me? I believe I *may* have a case against "Breaking Bad" and/or Netflix for mental anguish and...physical torment (?). I easily could wear one of those neck-brace thingys, if that would bolster my case.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cheer, Goodwill, and Embarrassments: Ms. CrankyPants' Holiday Letter!

Happy holidays, everyone! It's been quite a year! There have been some highlights, and many, MANY embarrassing lowlights, most of which I've shared with you. If you need a refresher, just click here or here. Oh, hell, click on any post in my blog; it's nearly all embarrassing.

Everyone knows that the very BEST holiday letters are all about bragging highlights, so let's get started!
  • I'll just get the biggie out of the way first: I now have 10 followers! It's taken close to a year, but 10 new people actually like me! Or at least, the Ms. CrankyPants version of me. For all you know, I could be a colossal ASS whom you'd hate in real life. (After all, I just used the word "whom.")
Thanks, 10 followers!
  • I haven't had an MS relapse in...ages. Is it the Copaxone? The Swank Diet? Is it because I don't really have MS at all but some other horrible disease? Or, could it be that strange "agreement" I made with the mysterious silver-tongued chap with the red tail and horns who showed up that one night with a contract? Dunno. Whatever. I've been feeling good. (Note: I've just officially jinxed myself.)

He LOOKED friendly enough...

  • Our fantastically wonderful family is growing! The cat-adoption stork brought us a little bundle of joy (LBOJ) named Pepper Anne! 

Pepper Anne, in one of her 4,872,810 adorable poses.
  • Our existing cats hate aren't especially fond of are slowly getting used to our LBOJ!
Capt. Nap: "I can't even look at her. She's HIDEOUS!"
  • In other exciting feline news, Squeaky the Cat just graduated Magna Cat Laude from Big Jerk Cat University and has received her Ph.D. in Cat-Assery. She is so skilled! She can now hiss/growl at Pepper Anne and Capt. Nap WHILE guarding her toys, food, and the communal water bowl. Oh, and also all four litter boxes. She's so talented! We are so, so proud. That tuition money was well spent indeed. 
"Who the hell are you calling a jerk? Cover my head at once, minion!"
  • Capt. Nap is also doing really well! He hasn't had an explosive vomiting session since September. Plus, remember his adorable POO PAWS that so delighted me back in January? He's taught l'il sis Pepper Anne how to actually walk in her poo before burying it. What a good big brother! Now we have two cats with the occasional poo paw. We couldn't be happier! (By the way, who wants to come over and lie on our carpet? First come, first served, friends. There's only so much carpet to go around!)
I call this section of carpet. (Sorry, homeowners get first pick.)
  • Husband is continuing to support me in my efforts to stave off disability via the Swank Diet! He's a wonderful cook! But, really, how can you go wrong with products like TOFURKEY sausage?
OOPS! Wrong picture.
You can see why I got confused.
  • I may have big boobs! Yes, friends, according to a highly trained expert at a local bra shop, I have spent most of my adult life wearing a way-too-tiny bra size. This was some of the best news in all of 2013 for the fabulous CrankyPants family!  
  • Back to our kitty cats! They have really impressed us this year by scorning every single product we've introduced in an attempt to toilet train them. Stubborn little kitties! I do love a cat with his or her own personality! Oh, and not to worry: they've promised to pay us back the $3,176 we spent on ridiculous devices designed to make scooping their litter boxes a task of the past. 
"Kwit the litter? NEVER!"
  • It sure was a great Halloween this year! We managed to significantly reduce the number of trick-or-treaters harassing us! No, it wasn't the unwrapped hard candies or the miniature boxes of ancient raisins we'd been passing out. We suspect it was because our neighbors saw my husband mowing the yard in the snow! "Why, those cat-loving, kid-less people are NUTS!" we think they might have said on the neighborhood shared social media platform that we imagine exists and to which we've not been invited. "I wouldn't send MY kids there this Halloween." Mission accomplished! 
This isn't my husband. I've been forbidden to use that picture. This is the mayor of someplace in Iowa. But you get the idea. And in his defense, my husband was not wearing shorts. 
  • Thanksgiving 2013 was a tremendous success! No four-legged attendees vomited or did a poo anywhere! Pepper Anne jumped on the dining room table and lurched toward the turkey only once! (Maybe twice.) (Okay, fine, thrice.) (And, yes, I just said "thrice.")
We look forward to the new year, new embarrassments, and, ideally, new carpet. May you and yours have a very happy holiday season! 



Friday, December 6, 2013

Getting a Third Cat Is a Sign You Are Crazy

Some of you* have been wondering where I've been. I have a darn fine excuse, and her name is Pepper Anne. (*I'm going to go ahead and just pretend that's the case, without any actual proof to support that claim.)
"Hi! I'm Pepper Anne! Won't you be my friend?"
So I saw this picture on Homer the Blind WonderCat's Facebook page. I wrote about my quite-possibly-disturbing-to-non-cat-people "friendship" with the blind cat Homer (stop judging me) not too long ago. It seemed that darling Pepper Anne needed a home, and she was nearby. I began a Super-Stealthy Campaign to win over my husband.

"Just LOOK at this adorable kitten!" I'd chirp, thrusting my phone into his field of vision several times a day.

"Yeah, she's cute," he'd mumble, and continue trying to rake leaves or shower or drive off to work.

"Poor Squeaky," I'd muse, whenever Squeaky the Cat was looking slightly bored. "She needs a playmate."

"Poor Capt. Nap," I'd say, nudging my husband. "See how he's sleeping there on the couch? He totally is wishing he had someone to curl up with."

My husband would look at me blankly and I'd whip out the picture of Pepper Anne again.

"Just LOOK at this adorable kitten!" I'd chirp...and so forth.

After several days of my Super-Stealthy Campaign, I "discovered" that Pepper Anne would be at a local pet store during an adoption event. By making 1,275 perfectly reasonable promises, I managed to talk my husband into going to the pet store "just to LOOK."

Let's fast-forward. We have Pepper Anne. We're several weeks into the trial period, during which we make sure she meshes well with our resident cats. That bit has been rather...TAXING. Let's check in with everyone.

"This is MY toy!"
Squeaky the Cat spends a lot of time guarding this particular toy. When she's not guarding the toy (okay, even when she is guarding the toy), she's hissing, growling, and lunging. Mostly at Pepper Anne, but sometimes at Capt. Nap and/or my husband and me. Good times. She's by far the least won over by Pepper Anne's considerable charms.

"It's totally obvious that you don't love me AT ALL."
Capt. Nap spends a lot of his time skulking near windows and doors, hoping someone will open them and liberate him from the madness that is our home. He also gives us this LOOK, which is designed for (and quite effective at) maximum guilt.

I keep Grouchy-Ass Squeaky and Beleaguered Capt. Nap separate from My New Very Favorite Pepper Anne (just kidding; I love them all equally, except for Squeaky, who is being a real pain) when I'm not around. I've read tons of stuff on how to introduce cats, and pestered the people at the adoption center with 4,857,973 questions. In addition, I've spent around $78,974 on cat-calming items. Below are just a few:

Jackson Galaxy SPIRIT ESSENCES drops and Feliway COMFORT ZONE spray.
Feliway diffusers for the areas in the house where conflicts are most likely to occur. (AKA, the ENTIRE house.)
As I indicated above, the pictures reveal only a tiny portion of the sprays that litter nearly every surface in the house, plus the diffusers plugged in at potential conflict zones. (Did I mention that conflict zones are, like, everywhere?)

I hope you can at least on some pitying level understand why I've been busy for three weeks. YES, I'm aware that my blog is ancient and hasn't been updated since October. LATE October, though, please note. Keep your fingers crossed for us as we enter the fourth and final week of the trial period. Oh, and Squeaky is up for adoption if anyone's interested. (Just kidding.) (Mostly.)
I'm keeping Wee Squeaky, though. She's MUCH better behaved. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Hubris Will Bite You in the Ass

First, let me address the title of this piece. I was trying to show off and use a Big Word, but I confess that I had to look it up first. You know, to be sure I was using it correctly. So that's a little embarrassing. But here's what Wikipedia says:

Hubris /ˈhjuːbrɪs/, also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις, means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence, accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. Hubris is usually associated with the "simple-minded". 

I'd like to call your attention to this section of the definition: Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality

Ummm, so, yes, I WAS using it correctly. If anyone's in doubt, there's also THIS:

Hubris is usually associated with the "simple-minded". 

Now that we've got that straight, on with my post! I secured my pants with a giant paper clip today. You know, one of these:

I know it's not a paper clip, but I'm too lazy to look up the proper word.
Why did I use this not-a-paperclip to fasten my pants, you ask? It wasn't because my zipper broke or the button fell off my pants. It's because the pants were so damn tight that I couldn't stand it anymore. So I hunched in my cubicle at work, unbuttoned the top button (OKAY, FINE, AND LOOSENED THE ZIPPER A BIT TOO), and used the clip to adjust them to a more, errrr, accommodating size. Fortunately, I was wearing one of my old wardrobe staples -- a baggy, forgiving shirt -- so I was fairly sure the freakish-looking shape that was now jutting out of my abdomen like the darling baby alien from "Alien" wasn't obvious.

It's a boy!
I didn't feel spectacular about wearing these particular pants today but I was in a rush, so I figured they would do. The pants are made of some bizarre linenish-but-not-remotely-natural material. They're gray and crinkley (bonus! No ironing required; they're SUPPOSED to look like that!). They're also kind of a "slim" fit. I'd jettisoned them from my wardrobe around the same time as my muffin top reared its grotesque head.

In case you needed a refresher...
Without doing anything resembling exercise, I've shed a few pounds. Maybe it's the Swank Diet? A raging case of terminal cancer, more likely. Whatever the reason, I vividly recall the moment I triumphantly welcomed the gray pants back into my wardrobe. I was tired of the same three pairs I'd been wearing. So, just last weekend, I eased open the closet door and gingerly took out the gray ones. I slipped them on, trotted over to the mirror, and -- no ghastly bulges. I turned around. No giant wedge!

"Welcome back to the rotation!" I said out loud, addressing my pants. No, really, I did. I said that to my pants in the mirror.

Clearly, I was feeling mighty pleased with myself. Clearly, I'd forgotten every single horror movie I'd ever seen (except for "Alien.") You know -- there's always a scene when a stupid character bellows: "Things couldn't POSSIBLY get any worse!"  or sighs, "Thank God...it's over!" after tossing the gun/knife/hammer aside, and you just shake your head because the person saying it is so stupid. Of course things will get worse (duh), and no way are they over.

So, yeah. That was me. Tempting fate and displaying a helluva lot of hubris with my smug little comment. It didn't matter that no one except Squeaky and Capt. Nap (and the pants) heard me; Fate heard me. And my comment came back to bite me in the ass.

I know what you're hoping. You're hoping I have a picture of myself crammed into these pants with the unsightly alien-like protrusion that you will secretly enjoy noting is TOTALLY obvious, baggy shirt or no baggy shirt. Nope! Sorry, friends. I do have a shred of dignity left. You'll have to be content with this:

In case you forgot, the pants are supposed to look that wrinkled.
I've left the clip right there on the hanger as a reminder for the next time I start feeling a bit too pleased with myself. It's also there for the next time I want to wear the pants!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Top 4 Most Annoying People at the Movies (and How to Avoid Them)

As my name suggests, I am easily irritated. I'd like to share my thoughts on an entertainment venue that has enormous potential to be irritating: the movie theater.

Okay, to be fair, it's not the venue that's annoying, it's the people IN that venue: my fellow moviegoers. Presumably, we're all there to sit quietly and enjoy the film. That's why *I'm* there, anyway. Not so certain others in the audience. In a movie theater, I gain special powers. I become an Annoying Person Magnet (APM). I would much prefer to become an Annoying Person Repellent, but we must play the cards we've been dealt.

What does an APM do, you ask? Well, quite simply, regardless of the movie or what time it's showing, irritating people are drawn to the seats next to, in front of, or behind me. You're probably thinking, "Gee, Ms. CrankyPants, sounds as if you are quite a curmudgeon. Surely it's not that bad." Here's what I say to YOU: No, I'm not* and yes, it is.

I've come up with a list of the types of annoying people I regularly encounter at theaters and have thoughtfully provided the few ways I've managed to outwit them.

1. The Rude Teenagers Putting Their Feet on the Seat in Front of Them: You know who I'm talking about. The ones who, while the lights are still up and people are shambling around with their buckets of popcorn and gallons of soda looking for seats, sit there in full view, legs draped over the seats in front of them, staring balefully at the grownups. I'm not ashamed to admit it: teenagers frighten me. A lot. I don't want to sit in front of them and turn around to give them a Pointed Stare (which they'll ignore, naturally) or, worse, a stern talking-to. That's because the instant I were to turn back around to face the screen, they'd be throwing popcorn and jujubees in my hair and chortling gleefully. The only way to avoid these rude teenagers is to get to the theater good and early and stake out the back row. I've forced many a friend ("I don't CARE if you forgot your glasses, we're sitting in the back!") to hike up to the very back row and squint for 2.5 hours, just so I don't have to confront a teenager. (Note: in the aftermath of an especially bad relapse, when walking was hugely challenging, I clenched my teeth and made the Mt. Everest-like climb to the back, clutching the railing and gasping, ignoring the people staring at me. I realize not everyone with MS can do this. There was a mercifully brief time when I could not walk at all, so I try never to take it for granted, and I certainly do not mean to offend anyone with this post.)

2. The Kicker: Typically, these are young children (although they might be rude teenagers too) who are accompanied by an oblivious adult. Solution: same as above -- secure a seat in the back row. It's your only defense. Ha HA, would-be seat kicker! Can't kick my seat now! In your FACE!

3. The Bag Crinkler/Soda Slurper: Okay, sure, part of the movie experience is shoveling in treats. I get it; I do it too. But I try to get all of my noisy bag rustling done during loud parts of the movie. And, if my movie treats are crunchy, I try to not chomp loudly during quiet, heart-tugging parts of the show. Few things are more distracting than trying to listen to someone's dying words over the CRACKLE, ROOT, RUSTLE, CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH of a nearby person groping around in his bag of popcorn. Or, and this actually happened to me very recently, someone trying to suck out the last molecule from their cup of soda. This activity involved lots of ice-shaking, slurping, more ice-shaking, violent sucking, and, FINALLY, the dad grabbing the huge cup of soda out of his kid's hands. Bless that man. I was about to do it myself. (HAHA! Not really: children frighten me only slightly less than teenagers.) Unfortunately, apart from moving seats, there is no remedy for this one. Back row doesn't prevent the Bag Crinkler/Soda Slurper from parking him- or herself directly in front of or next to you.

4. The Chatters: These usually fall into two groups: children and old people. I can sort of understand children. I mean, they don't know what's going on, so they ask questions. Often, and loudly. Okay, fine. I can deal. Old people, though, come on! They've been around long enough to know how movies work. You pipe down and enjoy the show. Unfortunately, the problem usually results when the old person can't hear well and missed some dialogue or a plot development. "Mildred, who is that man? What did he just say?" "Harvey, that's the main character. He just said he's going to drive to the grocery store." "Mildred, what did he say now? I missed it." "Harvey, that's because you were talking." It's an exhausting process. Here's the only solution I've found: switch seats. A tip that may allow you to avoid moving seats: when you arrive (early, remember!), scan the crowd. Avoid all areas that have clusters of kids, teens, and old people. These are Trouble Zones. If people are talking loudly during the previews, there's an excellent chance they'll keep up the chattering during the movie too.

So, there you have it -- my list of annoying people in movies and ways to avoid them. As we wrap up here, you may be wondering: Why do I subject myself to movies when I often find them exasperating? A fine question. Yes, indeed. When I figure out the answer, I'll get back to you.

*Maybe it's slightly me being a curmudgeon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Delicious Tofu Sloppy Joes (J/K, LOL)

A lot of you* have been wondering (a) where I've been; (b) why the hell you're still following a blog that is, like, NEVER updated; and (c) if I'm still doing the Swank Diet. Folks, I have answers to all of those excellent questions.

(a) Right here on my ass thinking I really, really need to post something.
(b) Okay, actually I don't have an answer for this one.
(c) YES! Yes, I am.

* Okay, just my sister.

To address (c), just the other night, my dear husband decided to make Sloppy Joes for dinner. Fortunately, I had purchased a ground-beef substitute (GBS) called Smart Ground VEGGIE PROTEIN CRUMBLES (VPC). You read that right, CRUMBLES. Sounds kind of fun, right? Wait, I think I have a picture:
You know when Wee Squeaky makes an appearance that things are bound to go badly. 
By now, my husband and I are old pros at the protein substitutes. Tofurkey sausage? To-FASTIC sausage! Fake bacon? Fake Bac-OLICIOUS! You get the idea; I'll stop now. Anyway, back to the Sloppy Joes. I was fully prepared to, yes, enjoy this meal. Once you get used to the no-meat business, it's really not so bad. I never was a big meat eater anyway, and I still can eat fish and chicken breast, so for the rare meal when only a GBS will do, I'm okay with the tofu-ish stuff. BUT, I wasn't so foolish to think this might not turn out as spectacularly as I was hoping. So I grabbed Wee Squeaky and my camera to document the meal prep.

"Ha ha! This is going to SUCK!"
The makers of the VPC are very clever. You don't get to see the, er, crumbles until you open the box. Then you notice what looks like a brain vacuum sealed into plastic. My first misgivings about this meal happened during this photo. 
Unsealing the brain crumbles.
My husband was undeterred. 

"Come on!" he urged cheerfully. "I'm sure it'll taste better than it looks!" 
Okay, seriously, something about that stray crumble grossed me out.
The hunk of brain/fake meat proved to be a bit...TOUGH. Husband worked valiantly to smash it into submission. While my husband was stabbing the VPC, I was alternately laughing and trying to avoid looking at what was now sizzling away in the pan. My eyes fell upon the box the VPC came in. I noticed THIS:
"Hungry for more?" Ummmm, no. 
The picture is a bit blurry, because at this point I was laughing pretty hard. Hungry for more, my ass! I'm not even hungry for THIS! 

"Now, Ms. CrankyPants," you might be thinking. "Aren't you jumping the gun here? Didn't you just get through trumpeting about all the fake protein you are eating with relish?" 

Yes, yes, I did. And I admit, when we added the tomato sauce, things did look better. See for yourselves:
"Ha ha! This is TOTALLY GOING TO SUCK!"
Well, in spite of Wee Squeaky there next to the pan, I thought it looked edible. We loaded the...stuff onto our nicely toasted bread and added a delightful ear of corn. Just like ma used to make! Tell me this doesn't make your mouth water: 
Oops! Sorry, that's a piece of CAT POO on the carpet.
Deploying the TOFU SLOPPY JOES!
So. The burning question that you already know the answer to: how'd they taste? See the CAT POO picture, above. Okay, not that bad. But...not so great, either. However, much like the fake sausage and fake bacon, it's just a matter of preparing it in such a way that it's surrounded by other, better-tasting stuff. Before you know it, I'll be extolling the virtues of VPC! But that night, I kind of felt like Capt. Nap, when he is hoping there's more to his dinner than the can of cat food he's just been given.
"Surely you jest?"
Ha ha! Can't really blame old Capt. Nap. At least we had corn. 

p.s. YES, I know the font is a huge mess in this post. Something's funky with Blogger. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Goodbye to a Friend I Never Met

I’ve had lots of friends over the years; friends who never knew I existed. No, not because I’m some creepy stalker or am unable to make real, live friends. The friends I’m talking about weren’t human. Hang on. Before you get alarmed, I’m not talking about aliens either. I’m talking about birds, groundhogs, chipmunks, beavers, rabbits…all of the wildlife I’ve had the good fortune to get to know by opening my eyes and noticing the natural word around me. It brings me a lot of joy to see Mumbles the chipmunk eating seeds scattered by Stumpy the sparrow at my birdfeeder. There’s Chewy the groundhog, who in warm weather I see munching on grass on a hill by my house. As I’ve moved over the years, I’m always a little sad to leave behind my “friends” who have silly names and never realized I was so happy they were living nearby.

One of the dangers of loving anything is the chance you will lose it. I lost my beloved dog Popcorn when he was 18. I have two healthy and happy cats now: Squeaky and Captain Nap. There’s another cat, too; one to which I didn’t realize how connected I was until he was gone. This little blind kitty wasn’t mine, but I am grieving for him as if he were. He was Homer the Blind Wonder Cat.

I’d been a Homer fan for a couple of years, ever since my sister gave me the book Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper. The book, the author, and Homer became instant favorites. When I saw Homer had a Facebook page, I officially became his friend, in that weird Facebook way. Gwen would write posts for Homer: funny little observations or mentions of other special-needs cats that needed a forever home. Pictures, too: Homer curled up with Gwen or sitting next to her as she worked on her laptop.

As pets do, Homer got older. Some of Gwen’s more recent posts focused on Homer’s struggles with his health. I, like thousands of his fans, suspected the time was coming, and I dreaded it. Homer had become a fixture in my life, a little like my own cats. I couldn’t pet him or play with him, but he was my friend nonetheless. On Saturday, when I heard Gwen had put Homer to sleep, I cried. I called my husband upstairs and he hugged me while I sobbed over the loss of a cat I’d never met. I cried for Homer, yes, but I cried for his “mom,” Gwen, too. As anyone who’s read Homer’s Odyssey knows, she and Homer have been through a lot together. I couldn’t imagine the pain she was feeling. If I was this sad, what must she be experiencing? It gave me some comfort (because I was kind of wondering if I was crazy) to read comments written by hundreds of Homer’s other Facebook friends who also had cried over losing him.

Gwen: thank you for sharing your little blind wonder cat with the world. Homer: thank you for being my friend. I will miss you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Royal Pain in the A$$

Okay, I've had it. Had it with celebrity pregnancy speculation ("Jennifer Aniston Walked Past a Baby Store Once Last Month: Is She Expecting??!!"); post-pregnancy shockers ("HOT Mama: How Kim Kardashian Lost 42 Pounds in 10 Minutes!"); and, to me, the worst offender: the baby-bump pictures ("LookyLoo, Potential Celebrity Stalkers! Reese Witherspoon's BABY BUMP!"). I'm sick of the expression baby bump for sure (let's see how many times I can use it in this post, shall we?), and the pictures of the baby bumps just seem a little creepy. Maybe it's just me. Oh, it is? You like baby bumps? Fine.

Anyone else sick of hearing about the royal baby? No? Crap. Come on...not even a little bit? No? You were one of the 345,987,482 people waiting with bated breath to learn his name? Sadly, it wasn't one of the super-clever names celebrities have chosen, such as North West. Or Brooklyn, Harper, Romeo, or Cruz. Not Jesse James or Justice. Neither Ptolemy nor Winter. Not Blanket! Not Banjo! Yeah, you get the point. Turns out it was something appropriately staid and regal: George. Zzzzzzzzzz! How much more exciting if the little chap were named something outrageous, like the celebrity spawn above. Prince would have been amusing. Elvis? (You know, "The King"?) Dumbledore? He's pretty badass, and, you know, a WIZARD, so that's sorta close to royalty, isn't it? Kings and wizards were always running around in the olden days fighting dragons, etc.

Perhaps I really am the lone crankypants who's already annoyed at the hubbub surrounding the newest member of the royal family. What's the big deal, anyway? He'll have royal nannies and governesses, and tutors to teach him his maths, and cricket coaches, and servants to bring him his crisps and ginger beer. ("Oi! Fetch me another bag of crisps, you cow! Pip pip!") That's kind of how I imagine it going, anyway.

Meanwhile, I will Keep Cranky and Carry On raising my kids cats. I can hear you scoffing from here. HEY! I'll have you know raising well-mannered, thoughtful, and smart cats is every bit as challenging as raising kids. Especially royal kids. I'm raising them without the help of nannies and tutors and cricket coaches. When my cats look at me imperiously as if to say, "Oi! Fetch me another can of tuna, you cow! Pip pip!" they aren't rudely addressing some servant, they're talking to ME, their doting mommy. Below are four other ways babies are infinitely easier than cats:

"Oi! Fetch us something to eat! At once!"
1. Bathing a wee baby is fun! Look how he giggles and splashes around. Awwww...so sweet, so adorable. Now he's blinking up at you in wonder. Your heart swells. Just try that with your kitty kids. There's a lot less sweet and adorable and a lot more screeching, scratching, and wrestling furiously. Plus, bucking, thrashing, and more scratching. Yeah, not so easy. 

2. Changing a wee baby's diaper. Okay, maybe not the MOST fun of parenting duties (haha, doodies!), but often there's cooing and more blinking-in-wonder business. Not so when dealing with the cats' "business." There's filthy, gritty litter underfoot, horrific odors, the cat who insists on waiting until the box is clean before trotting in and soiling it immediately.

3. Baby clothes. Is there anything more adorable? Yes! There is! Cat clothes! But will my cats wear the sweet little outfits I buy them? NO! There's squirming and mewling and chasing and hiding... Just once I'd like to see one of my precious little kitties wear the jaunty bonnet, cape, and booties I bought them. Sigh. I guess I'll have to look at pictures of my niece and nephew in their adorable little clothes instead.

4. Oopsie! Did that little baby just spit up? Oh, it's all over his bib and my new shirt and in my hair. That's okay! Look at him blinking in wonder. Nothing gross about baby puke spit up (have you noticed it's always spit up, never puke or vomit?)! But the cats? Different story. First there's a fleeting, bug-eyed look of unease. That's swiftly followed by a lurching onto the nearest carpet or piece of furniture. Then the hunched back. And then the heaving and retching. No time for mommy to grab a towel or toss the kitty onto a tile floor. Nope! There's the hairball, surrounded by barely ingested food. Off marches the cat, leaving you scrubbing and cursing in his wake. Plenty gross about hairballs and cat puke.

Friends, I rest my case. As I've so clearly demonstrated with excellent case studies and scientifically based, empirical, ummm, peer-reviewed evidence, raising cats is a royal pain in the a$$. Raising kids, especially with 'round-the-clock help from the cricket coach and the governess? Piece of cake!

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Top 5 Weirdest MS Symtpoms

I want to talk about weird MS symptoms, even though it makes me -- an avowed hypochondriac -- a little nervous. Whaaaat? Here's why: in my mind, someone is going to look at my list of weird symptoms and say, "WAIT, Ms. CrankyPants! That's not MS you're describing! Those are all symptoms of [insert hideous, fatal disease here]." And it won't matter a whit that whoever makes this proclamation isn't a doctor, hasn't seen my MRIs or other tests, and could be drunk and/or mentally unstable. Nope! I'll immediately begin worrying that this know-it-all is right, as I've secretly nurtured a fear that I've been misdiagnosed this whole time. Yep, since 2005. Irrational? Indeed!

But I am going to do it anyway, because [insert wobbly voice] if there's a chance I can help one, just ONE, person [orchestra swelling] recognize a weird symptom they've been quietly freaking out about, then it'll be worth it. Okay, that's atcually kind of true, as cliche and embarrassing as it sounds. That's because it happened to me. There was a totally scary symptom I was having, and I didn't feel better about it until I read that it is something that can happen when you have MS. When I read that -- quite by accident; I was perusing this blog, in fact -- I literally sat at my desk and cried with relief. I'm not a big crier, so this was a big deal, but that's how much I'd been freaking out.

Onward, ho! Here are my Top 5 Weird MS Symptoms (and, YES, they're MS -- please, if you like me even a little bit, don't tell me they're also symptoms of something else). Oh, and you can't read further until I remind you that I am not a doctor, so obviously any of the things I talk about below are personal experiences and in no way constitute anything resembling actual professional medical advice:

1. One pupil bigger than the other. This earns the top spot on my list because this is the one that was so damn scary. I'd very recently had a bout of optic neuritis, which was affecting my right eye. Later, my neurologist explained the optic neuritis was why I had that !($&ing big pupil. But that talk didn't happen until a couple of months after I first noticed this freaky symptom. Until I knew it was related to MS, I was a mess. I vividly remember being in the mall one day and stopping at every other mirror to check my pupils. Yep, the right one was still bigger! Forget about being alone in a bathroom. There, I could examine my pupils for as long as I wanted, while imagining the horrible reasons for the different sizes. Even though I was in anguish, I was too scared to go to the doctor -- just in case he or she confirmed my worst fears. Irrational? Indeed! So it was by pure chance that I stumbled across a reference to this phenomenon in the blog I linked to above. The relief was overwhelming. Thank you, Julie Stachowiak. You'll never know it, but you took an enormous weight off my shoulders (and made me cry!).

2. Water dripping on me. This one is more annoying than scary. But I had about a week where I could swear water was dripping on me. The first few times, I looked up. Nope, not raining in my living room! The urge to wipe off the invisible "water" was irresistible. No amount of wiping helped. Drip, drip, drip. Then a long pause. Drip. It was so strange. That little gem hasn't returned.

3. Head zaps. Oh, this one sucked. I was out of town for work when the first zap happened. It was an intense, shooting, split-second pain in the back of my head. Naturally, I thought I had a brain tumor or an aneurysm. After conferring with my neurologist by phone, I went to the ER, where I got a CT scan (so if I didn't have a brain tumor then, just give it a few years what with the radiation and all). The scan showed nothing. But the head zaps became my buddy that week. I could count on one to happen every morning as soon as I stood up from bed. Next one: in the shower, right on schedule. The third? After breakfast. And on and on. When I finally got home, my neurologist ordered an MRI. It showed lots of new lesions, and bloodwork indicated very low levels of Vitamin D. A course of steroids and some mega, prescription-level doses of Vitamin D nipped the zaps in the bud. They've come back a couple of times, but only once or twice, and never for a week. Thank God.

4. Muffled hearing. In the midst of the gross heatwave we're experiencing on the East Coast this week, I've noticed this one recently. If go outside in the heat, when I come back indoors my hearing is muffled -- as if I were underwater. It takes about 10 minutes in the air conditioning for my ever-so-keen hearing to return to normal ("Captain Nap?! Are you vomiting in there?").
"It was Squeaky."
5. Skin burning. This has happened only once, but it was fairly unpleasant. Whenever I brushed against something, or someone touched me, my skin felt as if it were on fire. The sensation lasted only seconds, but it was enough for me to leap away in horror when someone seemed to be entering the Radius of Fire.

So there you have it. Of course, I've had the gamut of more "normal" MS symptoms: drop foot, the MS "hug," fatigue, numbness, memory problems, the need to be always near a bathroom, cellulite*...MS really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Stay cool!

Ms. C-P

*Ignore what I said earlier about not being a medical professional. I've changed my mind, and I've determined that MS causes cellulite.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Awkward Moment in the Bathroom

That mess on the floor? A rudely discarded paper seat cover! I can't explain the toilet paper roll. No, there aren't any bored cats roaming around the workplace. (Full disclosure: this was taken at my previous job. But still.)
So I just came back from the bathroom at work. While in the bathroom, I had an Awkward Moment (although, really, is there any other kind in a bathroom?). A woman had entered immediately before me. As I strode toward my stall (remember, people, the one closest to the door has the fewest germs!) I passed her. She had stopped to disengage one of those rustly paper seat covers. As she struggled noisily with it, I marched on past and into the stall, sans paper seat cover. I immediately felt self-conscious. What was she thinking? Was she smugly wrestling with the blasted seat cover, privately praising her attentiveness to hygeine while recoiling at my lack of the same?

Oh, yeah? Well I am plenty hygenic, damnit, and I also am very mindful of waste. Not *that* kind: the paper kind. Those flimsy paper things seem to me like a big fat waste of resources, and I think I read somewhere once that they don't really accomplish anything in the way of protecting you from germs. The real gross stuff in bathrooms is lurking on the door handles and the toilet flusher, and I'll have you know I always flush with my foot. So THERE! I was all indignant in my stall, imagining what Ms. Paper-Rustler was thinking about me as she primly sat on her paper-covered toilet seat, making dainty little crinkling noises.

I hurried out of the stall and raced to the sink, trying to avoid that Awkard Moment where the two of us would meet at the sink at the same time. Even were it not for the awkwardness I'd conjured up surrounding the seat cover, there's always a little weirndess at the sink. Do you acknowlege each other? In our case, being on opposite sides of the Great Paper Seat-Cover divide, I thought not. She probably was thinking I was disgusting, and I was thinking I'd like to get myself out of the bathroom before I was forced to meet her withering expression in the mirror.

I noisily washed my hands (see: "I am plenty hygenic, damnit," above) and bolted, recycling the paper towel I'd dried my hands with to open the door (see: "gross stuff lurking on door handles" and "I am very mindful of waste," above).

A quick blog maintenance & responsiveness to others' blogs note: I've been out of commission for a couple of weeks, owing to a tremendous bout of fatigue. Not sure if it's the MS plus the horrific heat, or a terminal illess (or all three), but it's kept me largely inert -- like a dirty, scratchy sack of old potatoes with those white things sprouting out of them. Sometimes just the idea of getting on the computer makes me tired. So, really, it's not you, it's me! Hang in there with me, unless my old-sprouty potato description, plus the fact that I don't use paper toilet seat covers, means you don't want to be my friend anymore.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Cat's Out of the Bag

As many of you know, I started a new job last month. The people I work with are quite nice, and at the end of my first week a couple of them invited me to get a drink after work. I was caught off guard by the invitation. The very nice young man who issued the invitation, seeing me sit there slack-jawed and unable to formulate a sentence in response, obviously sensed my hesitation.

"You can think about it," he said, before walking back to his cube. "But we'd love to have you join us."

"Okay!" I bleated to his back. "Let me think about it!"

I sat there, stymied (and embarrassed by my noncommittal response, which I thought probably came across as weird at best, and quite possibly rude). I was in a pickle. See, owing to the 4,782 different medications I'm on, I am not supposed to drink alcohol. I began envisioning different scenarios playing out with my co-workers.

  1. I decline the invitation. This confirms the impression I made with the "I'll think about it" response and they think I'm rude. I will not be getting another invitation. 
  2. I accept the invitation and order a tall frosty glass of lemonade, while everyone else guzzles beer. I am the prim and proper (and disapproving) NON-DRINKER. That's the last time I'm invited to a happy hour. 
  3. I accept the invitation and order an actual alcoholic drink. I get instantly and disgustingly drunk and cause a massive scene. Medics and the police are called to haul me away. I am invited to every happy hour from that point on, as I provide unbeatable entertainment.  
If you guessed that Number 3 is how it played out in real life, you are absolutely correct. Now I am known as the office Life of the Party and have even been offered money to come to people's homes and drink for the sheer amusement I provide other partygoers. 

Okay, fine. That's not really what happened. I went...and ordered a non-alcoholic beer. I thought I could sneak it past the others, but one of them noticed. And commented. It was innocently done. He actually thought it was a regular beer and made some impressed noise as if to say, "Well done! Here we are drinking light beer and you've gone and ordered this Very Manly Strong Beer!" At least, that's how I interpreted his noise. It may have been that he was clearing his throat. Regardless, I seized the moment.

"Oh, nonono! It's not a real beer!" I shouted, over the din created by fellow revelers and a rather sad man playing guitar and warbling songs into a microphone about two feet away. 

"WHAT?" 

"It's a FAKE BEER! I CAN'T DRINK!"

"WHAT?"

I hoisted the beer into his line of sight and pointed to the label. He looked at me as if I were an idiot, which surely I was by this point. 

"FAKE!!" I bellowed. 

He looked at the label and nodded. 

During a lull in the warbling, I felt compelled to press on. By then, the others were talking about basketball scores. I reinserted my beer into the conversation. 

"About the beer," I began. They looked at me blankly. Why was I still talking about it? In an embarrassed rush I explained that I wasn't drinking fake beer by choice. I had to. Because of medication I was taking. Shit. That last bit hung in the air. Now they'd think I was on some antibiotic for a disgusting infection of some kind. Shit again. 

"It has to do with MS. I have MS. Multiple sclerosis," I said, relieved to be done with the explanation. 

They asked a couple of questions, and then we all moved on. It was that simple. I felt better (once I had finished with the awkward and embarrassing shouting). Sometimes, it's unwise to reveal such things. Time will tell. For now, I am okay with being the non-drinking person in the office who happens to have MS. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Bra-Fitting Episode

Ladies (Gents?!?), have you ever been fitted for a bra? I hadn't. Until last weekend. Tee hee! Now before anyone gets all comfy with some popcorn and settles in for a titillating (get it?!) tale, let me give you a few important facts:
  1. The lady who did my bra fitting was not particularly attractive and talked with her mouth full
  2. Just prior to the fitting, I ate a massive bowl of garlicky pasta
  3. As a result of #2 (hee hee!), I quite likely had garlic breath and herbs in my teeth
Okay, so we've got that straight. It shouldn't be remotely sexy any more. On with the story. My husband and I had just eaten a late lunch at an Italian restaurant. This particular restaurant is in a town center-type of area. You know: a square surrounded by cute shops and restaurants, and, in the middle, a giant fountain that kids run through and probably pee in? Yeah, that kind. Anyway, having stuffed our faces, we lurched out and, lo and behold, I saw a lingerie store next door.

"Huh," I thought, absentmindedly adjusting my constantly loose bra straps, "I COULD use a new bra."

I suggested we pop in and my husband heartily agreed. (Perv.) The store was empty apart from the saleslady, who ambled toward us eating something with her mouth open. (Grapes, as it turned out.)

She looked at me. Her gaze drifted down, where, through my tee-shirt, she could plainly see the outlines of my ill-fitting bra. This amazing bra had stretched to the point where it was completely separate from my flesh, leaving a bagged-out tent in the front of my tee-shirt. I fidgeted with the straps again, but no amount of tightening was going to fix that stupid gap.

The saleslady used her tongue to push a half-chewed wad of grapes to one cheek.

"Need a fitting?" she smirked.

"Hahahaha! Yes, I guess so!" I giggled, like a mentally unstable 12 year old. "You can probably see the one I'm wearing doesn't fit so well!! Hahaha!"

"Mmm-hmmm," she mumbled through the grapes. She motioned listlessly for me to follow her to the back.

"He can sit over here," she tossed over her shoulder, indicating some black leather chairs in the middle of the store. My husband was mesmerized by the full-size pictures of women in their undergarments and didn't hear her.

"HONEY!" I shouted, as the saleslady and I made our way to the back of the store. He peeled his eyes reluctantly from one of the pictures. He wasn't even able to formulate a response. He just raised his eyebrows at me.

"SIT! HERE! WHEN YOU GET TIRED OF STANDING THERE!" I pointed to the chairs. He nodded and didn't budge.

Well, I didn't have time to worry about my husband's sudden regression to adolescence. It was Time for the Fitting! The saleslady and I squashed into a minuscule dressing room. She finished her grapes with a loud gulp and asked me to take off my shirt.

"Oh, BOY!" I laughed manically. "I'm so embarrassed about the bra I wore today! See, all of the others are in the wash..." I trailed off. She was looking at me pityingly.

"Yeah, everyone says that."

I silently took off my shirt and stood, pale and vulnerable, in front of her, my grayish-brownish bra bagging out in front of me. I easily could have stored a half-dozen of her grapes in the gap in front of each cup.

"Lift." She gestured to my grotesquely flabby arms.

I lifted. Out of nowhere she whipped a measuring tape and measured just above and just below my bra.

"I'll be back," she said, flinging the curtain aside. Fortunately, the store was still empty; no one saw me hunched in shame in my shapeless, dingy bra. I noticed my husband had managed to unroot himself from in front of the half-nekkid lady pictures and had settled in to one of the leather chairs. He was fiddling with his phone. I prayed that he wasn't going to do something embarrassing like take pictures inside the store.

The saleslady shuffled back, having apparently refreshed her supply of grapes, which she was chewing with relish.

"BVJGDHJSGY," she said, thrusting a pile of bras my way.

I took "BVJGDHJSGY" to mean, "TRY THESE ON, BAGGY-BRA LADY, AND BEGONE WITH YOU!"

I snatched the bras and snapped the curtain closed. I tried the first one on. Not bad.... I could see the saleslady lurking just outside the curtain.

"It fit?" she barked.

"Yes..." and before I could finish she had crammed herself back into the tiny dressing room.

"That's a 32D," she announced. "What size is...THAT one?"

She grimaced and pointed to the bra I had discarded on the floor.

"32B," I peeped.

"Yep, most women don't have a clue what size they really are. Try the rest on," she ordered and left again.

I was still reeling from the fact that I was fitting in to a 32D. A *D*!! Ha! I whipped off the bra and tried on the next one: a C. It, too, fit. Then I picked up an improbable-looking 32DD. Okay, was this lady on drugs? I put it over one shoulder and could tell there was not a chance in hell it would fit. I flung it aside and tried on another D. It fit! What the hell? I peeked out from the curtains. She was still hovering nearby. My husband appeared to be dozing in the chair.

"Um, excuse me?" I began. "How is it possible I'm fitting into a D?"

She rambled something about the cup size relative to the other measurements she had taken. It didn't  make a bit of sense. Plus, it vaguely involved math (well, numbers anyway), so I automatically tuned out. Who cares, anyway? I was going home with a damn 32D bra! I didn't care if physically I hadn't changed one iota from the "carpenter's dream" some total a-hole had once called me (...'cause I was flat as a board...HAHAHAHA, get it? His wit knew no bounds.)

I even have the pictures to prove it.

I will now be strolling about town in SEDUCTIVE COMFORT in my new size...
D!!!
Oh, and here I am wearing it.

This may LOOK like a tag I ripped off the bra, but it's totally not.
There's an epilogue to this tale. There I was, strolling in, yes, seductive comfort yesterday when I noticed a...jabbing.

"Hey, THAT'S not particularly comfortable," I said to myself, seductively.

Turns out, the stupid bra had a wire thingy that was starting to poke into the flesh that gathers in a dough-like bulge just under my armpit. So I returned it. And wept. But once, yes once, I wore a D!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Who Decided WORKING Was a Good Idea?

Holy crap, going from no work to a full workweek has been a rough adjustment. It's been two weeks now and yesterday was the first day I didn't come home and collapse on the bed in a quivering heap. (The absence of end-of-day-quivering-heapness MAY have something to do with the fact that I exercised for the first time in two weeks yesterday (Friday) morning, but I'm not going to give this "exercise" business too much credit until I can detect a pattern, regardless of what "experts," "doctors," and "pretty much everyone on the planet" say.)

How to explain this recent overwhelming fatigue? I have various theories:
  1. I am dying (naturally, this one tops the list)
  2. I have a Vitamin D deficiency
  3. I have MS and the stress of the new job is triggering the fatigue
  4. I am lazy and actually having to work overtaxes my frail mind and body 
Personally, I find (1) and (4) pretty compelling. HOWEVER, I have an MRI and appointment with my neurologist in July, so we will soon see if my MS is flaring up in protest of this new schedule. In the meantime, I also will be exercising and am very hopeful that unrooting myself from the areas where I like to be planted (couch/other couch/bed) will increase my energy. It's annoying, really, that when you are super tired and cranky, and the very notion of exercise is hideous -- that's when you should do it. And, yes, you quite likely will feel much better and be glad you did. It's the getting-there part that sucks.

Take Friday morning, for example. You'll recall, this was my First Morning of Exercise. I had woken up early and shuffled downstairs to install myself in my pre-work, fetal position on the couch (not to be confused with my post-work, fetal position in bed, which features the cats on either side of me). It was 6:30 am. The night before, my husband and I had decided that we were going to WORK OUT the next morning, by gum, and if I were to get to work on time, we needed to start by 6:45. 

I was being extra quiet, hoping that my still-in-bed husband wouldn't hear me breathing, wake up, and come vaulting downstairs so we could begin our workout. I was keeping a beady eye on the clock. 6:35 and all was quiet from upstairs. 6:40, still quiet. I had a slight pang of guilt; should I wake him up? No, no, what if he'd had a bad night's sleep and needed the rest? Waking him would be hugely inconsiderate. (Note that at no time did I seriously consider working out by myself, which I could have done quite easily.) 6:42...yes! He was going to miss the deadline and then I could say, "Oh, shoot! I don't have time! We'll work out tomorrow morning." 6:43...what was that?? I heard floorboards creaking. My beady eyes widened in alarm. The robust Capt. Nap was lolling on the carpet nearby, so I knew he wasn't the source of the creaking. It could mean only one thing: my husband was awake and on his way...unless he was too tired! Maybe he *had* slept poorly. I hastened upstairs where he was brushing his teeth. He looked disoriented and disheveled. Encouraging signs. 

"Aww, you look really tired," I murmured sympathetically. 

"Hskbkd houmnsgiyg yikbjkbtks!" he chirped through a mouthful of toothbrush. 

The fact that he was chirping was vexing. He was supposed to be tired, damnit! He finished brushing and announced that he was super happy that he had woken up in time for our inaugural workout. I looked at him balefully and trudged down to the basement to turn on our video-game console. Moments later he joined me and...we had fun. It was a short workout (after 10 minutes I was gasping embarrassingly), but it was a start. And you know what? I DID feel better that day. Maybe it's a coincidence, or maybe there's something to all that "science" and "endorphins" stuff. Whatever the case, I am going to try to make exercise a part of the morning routine. Maybe it can take the place of the fetal-position-on-the-couch bit. If exercise can help with the crushing fatigue, even a little, then it'll be worth it. (Also, at work there are these incredibly unflattering florescent lights in the bathroom and I caught sight of my upper arms the other day; OMG are they in need of serious toning. So if I can be a little less tired and a little less jiggly, I will be happy. Stay tuned!)

p.s. I missed you guys! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Party Is Over

I've been remiss in my blogging duties. In addition to not writing as often as I used to, I've fallen behind on all of my blogger friends' newest posts. The reason? I am incredibly lazy. I am starting a new job (today!) and have been in a mild state of panic in terms of Important Things to Do (such as ensuring I'm fully caught up on Mad Men). This new job will be a massive change. For the past 11 months, I've essentially been on what I like to call a SABBATICAL. Others might say UNEMPLOYED. I did some temp work, though, damnit, so there was a spell of, I don't know, several months where I worked off and on.

My new job, however, is full time. I'm told to expect 50 hours/week. Hence my mild panic. In addition to Mad Men, how will I:
  • Keep up with blogs?
  • Keep up with FaceBook?
  • Nap?
  • Wander out to the garden to remove a few weeds here and there?
  • Keep up with important TV shows?
  • Nap?
  • Be charmed by the different places my cats nap throughout the day?
  • Take pictures of my charming cats napping and send them to my husband?
Squeaky the Cat soiling what was a drawer full of clean, hairless socks.

Capt. Nap doing what he does best (and further soiling what probably WASN'T a clean, hairless pillow).
Anyway, this post is my lame attempt to:
  1. Get you to feel sorry for me (probably should have made my time at home seem a bit less...leisurely)
  2. Apologize for being bad at keeping up with you all recently
  3. Apologize in advance for being bad at keeping up with you in the near future while I adjust to my new lifestyle
Now I must get ready for my first day at work.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Picture of Ms. CrankyPants

Okay, so I was going for a whole "The Picture of Dorian Gray" thing with the title of this post. But if I have to explain the title, clearly it sucks.

I'm going to keep this brief, for there's not much to say except: (1) I'm doing this because people have been harassing me since my previous post when I mentioned the stupid thing and (2) STOP LAUGHING.

And: This is molto embarrassing.

FINE. Here it is. I hope you're happy.

It really doesn't look like me at ALL.
What the hell are YOU laughing at, Wee Squeaky? You're standing in a cupcake. Jerk.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top 5 Things I Learned on My Trip to Italy

I'm back from a lovely trip to Italy. It was more than I could have hoped for, and I'm very displeased to be home (please don't tell Squeaky the Cat or Capt. Nap).

"Oh, you're back? Whatever. Feed us at once!"
In spite of my efforts to make this an "I don't actually want to learn anything" trip (i.e., avoid museums, churches, and other Places of Cultural Significance), I did manage to glean five important tidbits, which I will now share with you:

1. Plane Food Sucks. Wait, you knew this already? Well, I hadn't traveled internationally in some time, so I was used to having a minuscule bag of desiccated pretzels and a thimble-sized cup of soda being grudgingly tossed at me. Not so when you fly overseas. You get entire meals. Like this one!

Time for my favorite game! Can you guess what THIS is?
"Now wait just a darn minute, Ms. CrankyPants!" you may be exclaiming to yourself. "Those look like delicious pancakes."

And I'd reply to you: "Yes, they do...IF THEY WERE PANCAKES!"

Nay, readers, nay. Those are not pancakes. This was the "chicken" dinner I'd asked for. Naturally, the entire dinner was masked by foil; had I seen it in advance, I would have gone with the beef stroganoff. (Okay, not really: I once had a Very Bad Experience with beef stroganoff). Here is a picture of the full dinner, for your enjoyment:

YUMM-O!
The chicken tasted like a poultry-flavored sponge. The roll: an ice-cold bullet. The best thing about the meal was that pathetic salad. Don't get me started on the dessert. RHUBARB? Who serves dessert with rhubarb in it? (Apologies to any rhubarb lovers.) How about a more mainstream fruit; you know, apples or strawberries? Blueberries? Come on, Lufthansa. You disappointed me. Greatly.

2. You Can Always Spot the Americans Abroad. I did not take any pictures, as I didn't want to get my ass kicked, so you'll have to trust me on this. Here in America, of course, one doesn't think twice about men in baggy cargo shorts, logo t-shirts, and baseball caps, and women in capri jeans and sneakers. I own more than one pair of capri jeans, and my husband is overly fond of his baggy cargo shorts. However, we left those at home in favor of clothing that we hoped would allow us to blend in a bit with the stylish Italians. (You can read about my efforts to become stylish here: Buon Giorno, Big Butt!) It was probably a wasted effort on our part. I don't think anyone was fooled by our H&M wardrobe. As soon as we opened our mouths, the jig was up. I could usually get across the subject well enough (e.g., bagno, gelato, pizza), but those pesky connecting words left me fumbling, pointing, and blushing a lot.

3. It's Impossible to Stay on the Swank Diet in Italy. That sadist Dr. Swank says of dieting on vacation:  "Although eating the low-fat way abroad is more difficult than at home, our experience indicates that it can be done." To which I say: "HAHAHA!" followed by something rude and unprintable. So it was with great glee that I left behind Tofurkey, cheeseless pizza, and fat-free ice cream.

Would you rather eat this...

...or this? Yeah, me too. 
4. Cute Animals Are Surefire Ways to Separate Tourists from Their Money. You know when you're strolling around a piazza and there are all sorts of artist types painting watercolors of landscapes or doing those godawful caricatures of people? Yeah, I always rolled my eyes at the people having their "portrait" done until I saw this:

"Look at how cute I am! Don't you want to buy something?"
I was immediately taken in by this little charmer. I approached and he wagged his tail winningly. They don't warn you about this insidious trick in any of the guidebooks I read in advance of my trip. As I crouched down to pet my new friend, the owner lurched out from behind his paintings and said he'd LOVE to do a sketch of me. Well...Ms. CrankyPants is immune to flattery, really, but the combination of the charming dog and the Italian-accented artist was too much for me to resist. Seconds later, I was sitting in a chair, having my "portrait" done while passersby looked on condescendingly. HEY! They hadn't been subjected to the dual charms of the dog and the artist. I was powerless! 20 minutes and 20 euros later, I was the embarrassed owner of a picture that looks nothing like me and that currently (and quite likely in perpetuity) is rolled up in a tube in my closet.

5. Italy Is Molto Bella. There really isn't much to say here. Below are pictures of my very favorite place in the world, Positano, which is on the Amalfi Coast. Ahhh...





Before I go, I must tell you that my brother in law, Clay, is once again doing the National MS Society's Bike Ride. He's been a great advocate for this cause, which really means a lot to me and many of you, I know. If you have, possibly, some extra cash lying around that you've been wondering, "HOW on earth will I spend this?" please consider donating to his ride at the following link: My brother in law's fundraising page