Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week Fifty-One

Event:  Went tubing on a mountain of fake snow

Nothing says Happy Holidays like riding a 50 pound donut down a 700 foot long hill on manufactured snow.  Helloooooooooo Winter!

As a Christmas gift to my little sis, I decided to take her to Snow Creek for an afternoon of tubing.  It was going to be a first for both of us and we couldn't wait.  I sent her a text early in the day to make sure she had warm clothes to wear and to remind her that we were: A) Tubing, B) Going to be outside for hours, and C) It was 30 degrees out.  Since she's 16 years old, I figured a few little reminders couldn't hurt.  As I prepared to get ready, I convinced myself that I needed to wear 4 layers, a stocking cap and gloves that would keep a mountain climber on Mount Everest warm.  Clearly, I was going to win an award for the best representation of "Fuction over Fashion."  As I went to pick up my sis, I met her at the mall where her mom had dropped her off and when she hopped into my car I took one look and lost it.  She was wearing a cute pair of skinny jeans with HOLES in them, fashionable knee-high black boots, a thin sweater and a jacket.  No hat.  No gloves.  And no 4 layers.  She looked like a snow bunny and I looked like...the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

When we arrived at fake-it-till-you-make-it-mountain, I was completely dumfounded by the snow.  We parked on a bone dry gravel road, but 25 feet away we were trekking through inches and inches of snow.  For the most part, the park looked something right out of Colorado.  Ski lifts, snow boarders, a rental shop and a lodge but one thing was a little off.  The snow had a creamy tint to it making it look like you were walking through vanilla icing.  On one hand, I wanted to dive face first into what looked like an enormous cupcake, but on the other hand, you had to wonder what gave the snow its yellowish tint.  I've only heard one thing about yellow snow and you don't have to tell me twice to stay away.  Regardless, yellow or not, it was impressive.

As we grabbed our tubes we took a ride on a 450 foot long carpeted conveyor belt that took us to the top of the "mountain".  I of course wasn't paying attention (still marveling at the vanilla icing) and lost my balance only to lose my footing on the conveyor belt before we reached the top.  It's fine.  A 6-year-old passed me, but whatever.  Finally at the top, we looked down the 700 foot drop and I tinkled a little.  Good thing I had on four layers.  I sat in my donut, looked over at my little, we gave each other a thumbs up and we were off.  As I launched off the mountain I was convinced I was going as fast as Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation.  At one point I was screaming, laughing and crying for my mommy all at the same time.  The second time down the mountain I was dared to get a running start and go down on my stomach.  This marshmallow wasn't going to be shown up by 5th graders so I went for it.  First, my running start was anything but spectacular (it's hard to be fast when you're wearing 4 layers) and I ended up over shooting my donut, thus smashing my boobs on the front end of the tube.  To add insult to injury, the majority of my body was way too far in front of the tube so my legs were flailing in the air as I had to work to keep my balance and my chin from acting as an emergency break.  I came within inches of needing a nose job as I spun uncontrollably, almost hitting the sides of my tubing lane face first.  This time I screamed like a school girl as I feared for my life and the safety of others.

My third run was even less impressive.  As my sis and I rode the conveyor belt back up to the top, a sweet little kid told us we should ask one of the guys that works there to spin us.  Thinking there was no harm in that, I did.  On about the 28th full 365 degree spin, I decided there was a fairly decent chance I would be vomiting in my donut.  Instead, I just yelled out every 4-letter word in the book.  When my spinning nightmare came to a stop, I stood up like a drunken sailor, found my sea legs and discovered every parent was holding their mittens over their children's ears.  Sorry about that but mother $!@&%#! that sucked.

While my 16 year old show off was bee-bopping around the mountain turning heads for a different reason, I was at the bottom of the mountain with my head between my knees.  It was at that moment I decided it was time to head into the lodge for hot chocolate.

Here's to yellow snow.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week Fifty

Event:  Worked as a Salvation Army Bell Ringer

Coldest day of the year - Check.
30 mile per hour wind - Check.
Snow flurries - Check.
Frostbite - Check.
Frozen toes - Check.
Can't feel my cheeks - Check.
All in the name of charity - Check.

For most of my adult life I've always had mixed feelings about the Salvation Army Bell Ringers.  My emotions range from feeling guilty (I can't put money in every kettle - they're on every corner!) to being annoyed (ugh, they're everywhere!) to feeling bad that I don't do more to help.  So, this year I decided I could spare two hours and donate my time (and money) to a great cause.  I got online, did some research and signed up to work at my neighborhood grocery store.  All I needed to do was to bundle up and show up.  The rest would be there waiting for me.

As I prepped to get ready, I checked the weather to confirm the high was going to be 22 degrees.  And the 30 mph winds were going to come out of the northeast and attempt to knock me and my little red kettle over.  The weather outside is literally going to be frightful.  So bundle I must.  Long johns, sweat pants and a third layer of fleece pants covered my bottom half.  Thick cotton socks and boots covered my tootsies and on top I had 4 layers.  I walked out into my backyard and stood for a minute to check my layering strategy, which was perfect.  It was then (after I was sweating to death, of course) that I realized I needed to pee.  In that moment, I was both a 4 year old and the mom scolding the 4 year old.  Seriously.   

17 layers back on, as I reached for my keys, I suddenly felt like the little brother on "A Christmas Story".  I can't move my arms!  I was the freaking marshmallow man, and to add insult to injury, I decided that in order to increase the probability of a donation, I needed to look the part, so I wore a Santa hat.  I will not be surprised if I make the cover of Stacy London's "What Not to Wear" 2010 issue.  I digress.  As I arrived at my bell ringing destination, I relieved a sweet woman who thanked me for coming and said she'd be in the grocery store deli if I needed anything.  Confused, I blew it off and focused on getting ready for my bell ringing debut.

I tied on the official red apron (which read, "Doing the most good.  I am a bell ringer"), grabbed the bell and before I assumed my bell ringing position, I added my own twist.  I found an outlet behind the Christmas trees next to where I was standing.  I plugged in the extension cord that I brought and fired up my old school boom box.  I pushed play and let 'er rip.  Soon the cold, crisp air was filled with Christmas music ranging from Bing Crosby and Aretha Franklin to Burl Ives and Mannheim Steamroller.  Quickly I discovered that if I rang my bell in sync with the music, I got more donations.  But if I danced and rang the bell in sync with the music, the shoppers couldn't resist it.  So there I was, standing in front of the grocery store dancing and ringing my bell to "Joy to the World" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and people were lining up to take a look at (and donate to) the Christmas train wreck. 

As each shopper walked by, I would yell, "Merry Christmas!" but as time passed and my cheeks and lips began to freeze, my salutation turned into, "Mmmmmmerrrrrry Cccccchristmassss!"  That was until a complete stranger came up to me with a donation, a cookie and a hot chocolate.  She told me that earlier in the week she and her kids were bell ringers and she wished someone had brought her hot chocolate, so she told herself she would treat the bell ringer the next time she was at the store.  I could not believe how thoughtful it was so I immediately thanked her and took a big swig of the hot chocolate.  Jesus Mary and Joseph that was a 274 degree mistake.  Mother !$@*(%&(@$! I burned the crap out of my tongue.  Unable to find a cold metal pole to stick it to, I just stuck it out in the cold air which helped a little.  As the 3rd degree burn started to take shape, my once cheery salutation turned into my tongue-is-half-hanging-out-of-my-mouth, "Mayoweee Kwithmuth." 

A few more strangers, friends and family members came by and donated and it was refreshing to see the good in people, like the older woman who put a dollar in the kettle and a dollar in my hand with strict instructions to go inside, warm up and get a snack.  Or the dad who walked by and told me I was a Saint for doing this.

More Abominable Snowman than Saint, as my shift came to an end, I looked up and saw the same woman who I relieved two hours earlier.  Frozen solid and happy to see her, I asked her why she was back again.  She told me that she works for the Salvation Army and she had to take the shifts nobody else signed up for.  When I asked her how long her shift was, she replied, "6 more hours."  Horrified, I asked if she had eaten anything and when she said no, I went into the store, bought her a chicken dinner and hot chocolate and told her I'd cover her shift until she could sit down and eat.

Twenty minutes later, as I drove away, I looked back as she rang her bell and that's when I decided that she was an angel disguised as a bell ringer.  Because you know, every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.  And in 6 hours, she will have rung that bell enough to get angel status. 

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week Forty-Nine

Event:  Bought a real Christmas tree

Ever since college I have steadily upgraded from one fake Christmas tree to another.  It started out as a 12" tree, then I graduated to a 2' tree, then a 3' tree, then a couple of years ago I bought a fake-but-it-looks-so-real-you-almost-can't-tell 8' tree.  I keep it in the basement completely put together with ribbon and lights, covered with a red, life size plastic bag and a few cob webs.  Each year I clumsily carry it up the stairs into my living room, inevitably knocking over a lamp, a picture frame or the dog.  I've been getting along just fine with my fake it 'til you make it 8 footer, but this year was the year to do something different.  I was craving the ultimate Christmas tree experience.  I want to go to a farm out in the country, I want to walk through a forest of trees, I want to pick my tree, I want to cut it down myself, tie it to my car, bring it home, water it and decorate it while it fills the room with the aroma of pine making me feel like I am starring in Christmas in Connecticut.  (For the record, I've never seen that movie but the title in and of itself just sounds delicious).

As I pondered where I would go to buy my tree, it hit me.  A couple of years ago I dated a guy who owned a Christmas tree farm.  That's right.  I was dating Santa.  But unfortunately, I couldn't see myself playing the role of Mrs. Claus, so we went our separate ways.  As I made the decision to get a real tree, I figured I couldn't go anywhere else.

I talked my sister into coming with me and we grabbed a rope, bundled up and headed out.  It was only after we were halfway there that I realized I didn't have a saw, proper gloves, or mascara.  This was simply going to be a disaster.  As we turned onto the gravel road, I was relieved to see 5 or 6 guys standing around waiting to welcome customers.  This was actually a good news, bad news situation.  The good news - with a handful of people there to help, my chances were greater that someone other than my ex would help us.  The bad news - if I do see him, he'll probably tell all of the other guys what a jerk I was when I broke up with him.  It was at this very moment I questioned why I voluntarily drove out to this location.  Anyway, we parked the car, I put on my sunglasses, (didn't really need them, but again - no mascara), pinched my cheeks to give them some color and we were off.  I had hoped to quietly approach the entrance and in an undercover like manner, scope out where he might be without making our presence known.  That's when I accidentally hit the panic button on my car keys.  Horns blaring, I had to run back to the car, open the door and start the car, only to walk back to a round of applause from the boys.  Oh for the love of Figgy pudding.

As we approached the group, my ex was standing in the middle, so I lowered my sunglasses, pushed my stocking cap up a bit, and said hello.  He recognized me right off the bat, gave out a good laugh, and the small talk began.  Moments later he was assigning a high school kid to help me get my tree.  Whew.  Short and sweet.  Now we're back on track.  I explained to the kid I wanted something in the Fir family because I was told the needles don't shed as much (better for my dog) and the branches are stronger (better for my heavy ornaments).  He suggested a Fraser Fir (funny, I would've spelled it Frasier Fur) and he pointed off into the distance.  They looked beautiful and perfect and only a few feet into the forest, I found 'the one.'  I turned to him and said I was ready to cut it down and that's when he dropped the bomb.  The Fraser Firs...were...already...CUT DOWN!  Devastated, I then saw a sign out of the corner of my eye that read, "Fir Trees from Michigan."  WHAT?  It was all a hoax!  He then explained that some of the fir trees are brought in and placed on stakes in the ground to make them look like they grew there.  I felt like I just got sucker punched.  The Scotch Pines were growing out of the ground, but those trees looked like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree compared to the firs.  At this point, I was too invested to put up a fight, and as I looked at my sister with sad eyes she said, "Give it up.  Just saw a branch off and call it good."  My dreams of cutting down my own tree now crushed, I stooped even lower when I agreed to take a fir that was already removed from the stake, just lying down on the side of the path, like road kill.  Still, I got my way (sort of) when I made the little helper elf go to back to the barn to get an old school saw so I could cut an inch off the trunk.  So there.

As I approached the cashier to pay (clearly not getting a discount from the 'ole ex), I ran the quick numbers in my head.  My tree was 7' tall at $7 a foot, so $49.  Perfect.  When the sweet little old lady behind the cash register said my total was $79 I about fell over.  Oh great.  I misread the damn sign.  The Scotch Pines that are actually growing out of the ground that I could've cut down are $7 a foot, but the road-kill-already-been-cut-down-and-shipped-in-from-another-state-Fraser-Firs are $10 a foot.  This has been neither a joyful nor triumphant experience.

As I drove through town I had visions of the tree flying off into the intersection because I was sure my ex told the boys not to tie it down very well, but lucky for all of us, we made it home safe and sound.  That's when karma reared its ugly head.  As my sister and I attempted to get the tree into the tree stand, the trunk was about an inch too short.  Karma!  Oh of course I just had to cut off an inch to prove a point.  A few f-bombs later, we had to take the tree back outside and cut off branches at the bottom to lengthen the trunk.  Using a little saw that had as much punch as a fingernail file, we managed to remove some of the lower branches to allow for a perfectly snug fit in the tree stand. 

Covered in sap, we admired the slightly leaning to the right $79 investment.  So far the tree hasn't fallen over (I'm knocking on wood as I write this) and I've managed to keep the dog from drinking the tree water by wrapping the tree stand with his own lampshade/cone - brilliant!  Aside from that we've only had one small casualty.  At 3 O'clock in the morning a heavy ornament fell off of one of the branches, crashing onto the floor. 

Glad I got the tree with the stronger branches. 

"Oh tannenbaum, oh tannenbaum..."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week Forty-Eight

Event:  Took a horse riding lesson

"Rollin' Rollin' Rollin', keep them doggies rollin', boy my ass is swollen, rawhide!"

In my mind, a horse riding lesson would be like this:  I would show up at a barn (wearing my cowboy boots to look the part of course), I would meet an instructor (preferably a hot, single cowboy) who would walk me up a half staircase where I would daintily hop on a medium size Seabiscuit and the horse would be tied to a leash and we'd walk in a circle for 20 minutes, I wouldn't fall off, feel like the queen of the world and call it a day. 

That is the exact opposite of my first ever horse riding experience.

I drove about 30 miles out of town to a barn I found online.  Taking a little bit of a chance, I put my hopes, dreams and safety in the hands of a complete stranger. And that's the horse I'm talking about.  But when I arrived, I was relieved to see a couple of teenagers riding, with their moms looking on, telling me this was the place to take horse riding lessons.  While I sat and admired one of the teens' equine ability to make the horse jump over horizontal poles, I thought to myself "I'll be lucky to do that sometime this century".  So I asked the mom how long her daughter had been taking lessons.  When she told me this was her daughter's third lesson I knew I was in for a big surprise. 

Moments later I found myself filling out a 4 page release form saying I won't sue the barn if I get bit, kicked, pooped on, bucked off, smashed against the railing, thrown off, spat on, bruised, lose a digit, lose a limb, lose a buttocks, or simply lose my pride.  I reluctantly signed my life away while thinking how much it would suck if any of these actually happened - and how hard it would be to explain to my family.  But then the moment passed and I giddily put on an extremely stylish riding helmet so large that it would have saved me from running head on into an oncoming train.  Let's ride.

As the trainer and I walked into the indoor arena, I got to meet Gidget, a big-ass, tan and white, fifteen-year-old mare (lady horse).  Ironically, Gidget and I had a lot in common.  First, we both like apples.  Second, we both like carrots.  Third, we both poop standing up...just kidding.  But seriously, we are both almost the same age (in people years Gidget is in her thirties) and when I looked up the significance of her name, I learned that Gidget was the name of a fictional character in a novel written in the 1950's called "Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas."  The novel was turned into a movie and Gidget was played by Sandra Dee, then it turned into a TV series and Gidget was played by Sally Field.  The show was described as, "A cutesy girl finds herself in a sad dilemma because the boys on the beach don't pay her any attention as her body doesn't measure up to the curves of her peers, but then a star surfer begins to have a little attraction for her."  Well I don't know about the surfer part, but I can definitely relate to the rest of the story.  That was until I found the second meaning of Gidget.  "The name Gidget is a portmanteau of "girl and midget".  Well for shit's sake.

I let Gidget smell my hands, I pet her head and slipped her a twenty so she wouldn't buck me off.  And although I tried to convince my trainer to allow me to do a running start into a leap-frog type mount (over the horse's rump into the saddle) she wouldn't allow it, so I had to climb up a few stairs and do it the 'ole fashioned way.  Before I knew it I had both cowboy boots in the stirrups and not only did I not find myself being bucked off, I was actually riding.  After a few successful laps around the arena, my trainer told me she thought I was ready to learn how to "post the trot."  Sounds terrifying.  Let's do it.

Apparently when people ride horses and you see them bouncing up and down off the saddle, that's by design.  I never knew that.  If you maintain the correct posture, hold the reins loosely while keeping your hands in a fist on the horse's maine, keep pressure on the balls of your feet in the center of the stirrups, occasionally give the horse a little kick, pull the reins in the direction you want to go, keep your head up, avoid the poop, and yell "whoa" only when you want to stop, not as if to say "whoa this is cool", you're "posting the trot!"  Holy leg cramps that was a lot harder than it looked.
Seventy minutes into doing squats on a galloping horse, my legs were officially jell-o and I looked at the trainer and told her I didn't have any trotting gas left in my tank.  She then realized that this first timer had been riding for well over an hour and that it was time to quit.  Gidget and I came to a slow crawl and I was told how to properly dismount the horse.  Take your right foot out of the stirrup and kick your leg around.  While laying both arms over the horse, you hold yourself up while kicking your left foot out of the stirrup.  You then slowly slide down the side of the horse onto the dirt.  Or, if you're me, you do this entire motion awkwardly only to land in a pile of dirt because your legs literally do not work any more. 
After I finally found my sea legs again, I got to help take Gidget's bridle off and clean it, I got to watch the trainer lift up each hoof to clean the dirt out, and I got to brush her, put a blanket on her, and walk her outside to her barn. 
Now, if only someone would put a blanket on me and take me to my barn because I can't move my legs and my butt hurts so bad I'm contemplating buying a bag of ice to sit on.  Whoa nelly.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week Forty-Seven

Event:  Took an Improv Class

Director:  "Ok, class, someone yell out an emotion and someone yell out a profession."

Guy #1:  "Um, what about joyful."

Guy #2:  "Mortician!"

Director:  "Perfect.  A joyful mortician.  Now let's see.  I want you and you up to the front" (pointing to me).  "And....action!"

Me:  "Oh crap."

Welcome to improv.

Last week I got online and did a search for Improv classes.  The first one I found seemed pretty promising - the website said it was perfect for beginners, would guarantee fun and would improve listening skills, confidence and team-building.  I decided to send an email to the contact listed on the site, just make sure this was in fact a class for true beginners and no previous experience was required.  (I've never done improv, nor have I ever "acted" before.  Well, as long as I don't count the acting debut I made as a cabbage patch kid in a school play in the early 80's).  I digress.  Soon I received an email back saying not to worry - the only thing I needed to bring was a check and a positive attitude.  Bring it.

The best part about the Improv class was that it was being held in a Sunday school classroom in a Lutheran church.  I was slightly conflicted - surely God wouldn't let me fail miserably in a church, but this also means I would have to keep my improvisations G-rated.  I worried about that until one of my peers dropped the F-Bomb with enough passion you thought she was trying to get an Oscar nomination.  We all took a deep breath, paused a brief moment, said a prayer and moved on.  It was during that moment of silence we discovered the children's choir rehearsing for their Christmas concert across the hall.  Oh Holy Night.

Within the first 15 minutes of the 90 minute class, we were improvising.  I quickly realized this was NOT a class for beginner anything - I was being forced to act out my favorite hobby, imitate the person's mannerisms standing next to me, complete a story that the guy in front of me started with the theme of "space invaders" (seriously? I was living in an episode of the "Big Bang Theory") and before I knew it we were acting out two and four person scenes in front of the entire group.  We were given topics, categories, emotions, character types, professions, predicaments, situations, locations...all of which had to be perfected and acted out with only seconds to prep and no time to discuss with our partners.  At first, I found myself completely frozen - sort of like those people who totally suck at Catch Phrase.  You know when it's their turn all they can get out is, "Uhhh...Well...Hmmm...Let's see..."  But finally, about an hour and 20 minutes into the class, I gained confidence, started listening and put my faith in team-building and suddenly found myself...acting.  I went from the quiet, intimidated, shy girl who couldn't come up with anything creative, to a girl about to write her own ticket to Second City.  In my last "skit" I completely hijacked the performance and forced all 4 actors to focus on my character in a scene I created.  I was equal parts Tina Fey and Ellen with a pinch of Carol Burnett and a dollop of Lucille Ball.  I was on fire.  Or so I thought.

When the class ended, I walked out with the Director who asked me if I had ever taken acting classes before.  Thinking he was going to respond by saying something like, "Wow - you're a real natural."  Or, "You're kidding me!  You have some serious talent."  Instead, when I told him this was my first time, he just responded, "Huh."  Not sure if that meant he was keeping his cool about his new starlet or if he was thinking, "Yeah, that was obvious."  Either way, this joyful mortician looking for alien life forms while sitting on the bus reading Vogue magazine drinking a dirty martini holding the hand of Superman who's about to skyrocket from his seat to land on planet Mars to capture the alien and save the Universe...is going back for more...

End scene.  Fade to black.  Roll credits.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week Forty-Six

Event:  Rescued a cat from a tree

Last week as I sat and pondered what adventures might be in store for me for the remainder of the year, one that didn't make the list was the following:  "Rescue cat from Tree."

Thursday night I was out in the backyard with my dog when out of the darkness I heard a cat meowing.  I thought it was a little odd since none of my neighbors have cats, but I dismissed it and carried on about my business.  Friday night I opened the back door to let the dog out and once again I heard meowing.  The fact that I heard it two nights in a row coming from the same spot led me to believe either the cat was injured or stuck.  For the record, I'm a huge animal lover, but felines around the world know that if they come within 10 feet of me I'm a walking Benadryl commercial.  I am deathly allergic.  So imagine my internal struggle on this chilly Friday night - it's cold but I want to help, it's late but it might freeze to death, I'm deathly allergic but what if it dies on my watch...Dang it!  I must go help because I believe in karma.  Two weeks my 80-pound dog jumped out of the window of the backseat of my car while I was driving 35 mph down a busy street and was not hurt.  Karma.  Must save kitty.

I got a flashlight and pointed it in the direction of where the meowing was coming from hoping to find a cat just frolicking in the grass and not stuck in the jaws of a Mountain Lion.  I found neither.  Instead, I saw the glowing eyes of a full grown cat stuck in the nook of a tree a mere 20 feet off the ground.  The tree of course, was just on the other side of my fence, so technically in my neighbor's yard.  But, that didn't stop me.  I took my flashlight, grabbed a 6-foot ladder and quietly walked into my neighbor's yard up to the tree.  As I approached, the meowing got louder and my desire for a successful rescue grew more intense.  I propped the ladder against the tree and started to climb.  It was at that moment I found myself saying, "What the hell am I doing?  What if someone thinks I'm a robber and shoots me?  The headline would read, "Woman allergic to cats gets shot while trying to save cat."  Do I really think this cat is going to miraculously leap into my arms?  If it does, what if it scratches me and I get rabies?  What if I fall off of the ladder, hit my head and pass out - would we both freeze to death?  What if I get stuck in the tree?"  So many things could go wrong as I stood on the third rung of the ladder only to realize I needed about 3 more ladders to even get close.  That's when it hit me - I need milk!

I went back into the house and poured some milk into a bowl.  I even heated it up a few seconds because I'm betting cats prefer warm milk (seriously?).  When I reached the tree, warm milk in tow, I found myself telling the cat that there was milk at the base of the tree so it can come down now.  (Please someone check me into a clinic).  Surprisingly, that didn't work.  That's when I went into full-on MacGyver mode.  I've got it!  I went back into my garage and grabbed a bucket and a rope.  I am not making this up.  I tied the bucket to one end of the rope and attempted to throw the bucket up over the branch (did I mention it was 20 feet high?)  That was completely unsuccessful so I decided to throw the other end of the rope over the branch but the rope was too light so I tied a few sticks to the end of it.  Four attempts and a smack in the face later I had one end of the rope over the branch.  Whew.  As I pulled the rope I raised the bucket to the branch near where the cat was sitting.  Perfect!  Now the cat will walk over to the bucket, hop in and I will lower it down to safety to the warm milk.  Shockingly, this, too, was unsuccessful.  OMG I'm going to the Looney Bin.  Frustrated, frozen and fearing for my safety (dogs have started to bark throughout the neighborhood) I decided to call it quits.  As I began to pack up my things, I attempted to get my rope/bucket/stick creation out of the tree, only to get it caught on a branch.  Now the rope was hanging in mid air - with sticks attached to one end and a bucket attached to the other.  Super.  My neighbors are going to think I'm into witchcraft.  I am certifiable.

Walking back towards the house, the cat meowed even louder, as if to say, "Don't leave me!"  As my heart was breaking, I had one more idea.  I decided to call a 24-hour Emergency Vet Clinic, who told me to call the fire department.  I called my friends at the fire department and wouldn't you know it they don't rescue cats from trees!  I mean really.  What's the world coming to?  What, is there an App for that?  Sheesh.  They told me to call Animal Control, which I did, and no one answered. 

Saturday morning I woke to find my furry friend still nestled in the nook of the tree, barely moving.  I quickly called Animal Control again, who said they'd be right out.  When they arrived, I was saddened to learn they too, don't climb trees to rescue animals.  WHAT?  It was then I decided the fire department or Animal Control or both would surely rescue a PERSON stuck in a tree, so I was going up.  But I needed a taller ladder.  Four neighbors, three ladders, a can of cat food, a catch pole and an hour later we were celebrating a successful rescue.  Our sweet little kitty was safe and sound, eating and purring and before we knew it, he trotted off, like he knew exactly which direction home was. 

As I was putting things away in my garage I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  Low and behold, my furry friend had scurried into my garage, and was curled up looking dazed and confused.  I went inside, got some milk (warmed it up of course) and sat on the ground while he drank, purred, drank some more and snuggled with me.  It didn't take long before my allergies had me looking like I just lost a boxing match, but soon my little rescue project started walked out of the garage and made his way down the street.  I followed him to the corner and watched as he walked up to a house and curled up on the front porch. Home Sweet Home.

Ahhh Karma.

And then he got attacked by a Mountain Lion.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week Forty-Five

Event:  Got a tattoo

A rose.  A butterfly.  Barbed wire.  Sorority letters.  A dolphin.  A ladybug.  A unicorn.  All very good options for tattoos, but none of them have ever inspired me enough to go out and permanently get one tattooed on my body.  Not many of my friends have tattoos so I've never felt much pressure to get one.  Until now.  Motivated by wanting to do something I've never done before, combined with some very encouraging (and mildly inked) co-workers, I decided to go for it.

Given I've had some time to think about it, I knew exactly what I wanted.  I had mapped it out on paper and even used markers to do a practice run trying out different color options, designs and locations on my body.  The design, while complex, was something I knew I would not regret and I was confident with the right expert artist it would be something I will treasure for a lifetime.

Friday night a co-worker of mine won a happy hour at Howl at the Moon, conveniently located across the street from the tattoo parlor.  We decided a drink and some apps would do us some good, but instead of having one drink and snacking, I had two drinks and skipped the food altogether.  No one told me you can't get a tattoo if you've been drinking.  (Actually, everyone told me, but I needed the liquid courage).  Shortly after slamming down my second drink, the five of us were jumping over puddles in the pouring rain, giggling like school girls, nervous and excited about what was in store.  We approached the door and exploded into the tattoo parlor, only to be stopped in our tracks as we looked around the dimly lit room filled with metal sculptures, axes, animal skulls and a stuffed zebra head.  Ozzy Osborn was playing overhead and suddenly I had to tinkle.  We were greeted by a couple of folks tattooed from neck to toe who probably took one look at us and thought, "Oh great.  Here come the valley girls. I bet they're the ones who made an appointment."  Before I could even open my mouth, a third guy shot out from behind a secret door on the wall and suddenly I was frozen.  Not only could I not remember my name, but I couldn't have told you my bra size, where I live or why I was standing there at this very moment.  There was so much ink staring at me I didn't know where to look.  All of the lessons I learned about not pointing and staring went out the window.  I wanted to study every inch of their tattooed sleeves, their necks, their hands...I wanted to ask what hurt the most, I wanted to see if everything was spelled correctly, I wanted to see if they had roses, butterflies or dolphins.  Lucky for all of us, I pulled it together so we didn't make more of a spectacle.  "Hi, we have an appointment for three of us at 7:30."  Welcome valley girls. 

After a brief consultation, we had to fill out a release form confirming, "No Sir, I am not pregnant, I don't have any allergies to ink, I'm not on any prescription drugs and I am NOT under the influence of alcohol.  I promise.  Girl Scouts Honor."  (Long Island Iced Teas, yes.  Alcohol, no.  Oh wait...)  Moments later, I was being escorted back into a different room with my assigned artist.  As I entered through a small hallway, I looked up and saw a sign that said, "Sterile. Electric. Tattooing."  Oh thank God - this place is both sterile AND electric?  I suddenly feel so much better.

Two of my co-workers had already gone in to get prepped for their tattoos and when I arrived there were three chairs right next to each other, so we got to sit together and cheer each other on.  While we giggled, cheered, clapped and took pictures, I feared the other customers weren't feeling the love.  I wanted to shout across the room, "We've got tatt'ed spirit, yes we do, we've got tatt'ed spirit, how 'bout you?"  But that might have resulted in a girl fight and I'll just state for the record I would not have won. 

I digress.  As I sat in my chair, I reviewed the outline of what I wanted with my artist.  I had it mapped out on paper and even had a marker to properly identify the color I wanted.  He looked at me funny, but took my sketch, dipped it in something and transferred my exact drawing onto my ankle.  I confirmed the location and the color and we were off.  It was at that moment I noticed the music had changed to Hall and Oats and suddenly a certain calm came over me.  Oh wait, that was all the blood rushing to my head as I took one look at the tattoo gun, but either way, I was cool, calm and collected.

Two and a half seconds later I had my first tattoo!  Surprisingly, it wasn't painful at all.  In fact, getting a flu shot was more painful.  Admiring the fine work of the artist, he tried to talk me into doing more, but I was pleased with the life-size, perfectly irregular, exact replica of...


I am now officially one Bad Ass Mother F@%$&er.  Sorry, I've always wanted to say that. 

P.S.  I'd like to give a special shout out to the good people at Mercy Seat.  Thanks for the memories!

Only, there's one small problem.  It looks like a mole. 

Oh well, at least it's spelled right.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week Forty-Four

Event:  Hung out at a Fire Station

All my life I have pictured a fire station as a multi-level building, buzzing with 20 or 30 fire fighters running around (some without their shirts) playing pool, cooking, working out (without their shirts), watching TV...just waiting for that fateful bell to ring.  In my mind, they're hanging out, playing pranks, hazing the rookie, playing with a Dalmatian, just waiting for that bell.  And when the bell finally rings, I imagined mass chaos of firefighters jumping out of the shower, sprinting out of the gym, scrambling out of their bunk only to slide down a pole into the fire engine bay.  There, more chaos ensues as they frantically put on their gear, jump on the moving fire engine and ride off to save a little girl from a burning building.

Apparently, I've been living in a motion picture dream state because my fire station experience was anything like what I had imagined. 

My sister and I had an appointment to tour a fire station near my house.  As we walked up to the side door and rang the bell to get in, I noticed there weren't any fire trucks in the garage.  Bummer.  We were greeted by the Battalion Chief who quickly told us not only were no trucks present, there actually weren't any fire fighters present, either.  I needed a moment.  The truck I can get over.  But no fire fighters?  It was like hearing there would be no presents at Christmas, no candy at Halloween, no green beer at St. Patrick's Day.  Devastated, I pulled it together only to hear him utter the words, "You should stop by the fire station down the street.  Both trucks are there and lots of my guys are on duty."

My white freckly legs couldn't move fast enough.  Before I knew it, we found ourselves at the home of Engine 23 and some of the best looking fire fighters in town (well, at least the three that I saw).  And as it turned out, one of those good looking fire fighters on duty was a friend of ours so we got the VIP tour.  We got to see where the men eat, sleep, shower and play.  Plus, both the engine truck and the ladder truck were in the bay, and we got to see inside every nook and cranny from bumper to bumper.  We learned that there are like 5 different types of hoses, a million different pressure gauges and air tanks that are built into the seat so all they have to do is sit, push a lever and their tanks are attached to their backs.  I mean this stuff was high tech!  I learned that fire fighters have to be in their gear and on the truck in 60 seconds, so I decided to give it a try.  My fire fighting friend allowed me to put on his gear, and at first I thought I'd time myself (I mean how hard can it be) but considering it took me 60 seconds just to get my shoes OFF I decided to take it slow.  I first put on the helmet and quickly realized the importance of neck muscles.  Apparently I have none.  I could barely keep my head up!  Bending over to get my feet into the boots (with the pants magically attached) proved to be tougher than I thought, given the whole head-neck-helmet thing, but I pressed on and managed to pull the pants up over my jeans, put the suspenders over my shoulders and with what little strength I had left, I threw on the jacket that I swear weighed a thousand pounds.  I have no idea how these men run through burning buildings with this heavy gear, carrying a hose filled with water, an axe and a seven-year-old clinging to a teddy bear.  Ok, maybe this only happens in the movies, but still. 

Lucky for us, during that moment the fateful bell didn't ring, because I needed about three fire fighters to get me out of that get-up.  We managed to put everything back together and while there were no fire fighters sliding down poles, no frantic bell ringing, no emergencies and no Dalmatians, I still had a smokin' good time.  Thanks Billy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week Forty-Three

Event:  Entered a Halloween Costume Contest, trick-or-treated with a four-year-old and smashed a pumpkin

On Friday, my co-workers and I dressed up as a School of Fish for Halloween.  There were eleven of us and we all dressed up as a different type of fish:  A Clown fish (me of course), Zebra Fish, Angel Fish, Fish Stick, Rainbow Fish, Star Fish, King Fish, Bull Fish, Sword Fish, Gold Fish and Tuna Fish.  We cut a fish shape out of poster board and wore it like a sandwich board and decorated both our fish and ourselves.  (In honor of Nemo I even made a special fin that was smaller than the other).  We entered the company Halloween costume contest in the "group" category, and we thought we had a pretty good chance at winning until other groups started showing up.  As we were seated waiting for the contest to begin, we saw out of the corner of our eye a Cowboy, then Little Bo Peep, then freakin' Buzz Lightyear and both Mr. Potato Head AND Mrs. Potato Head.  Oh for the love of shark bait it was over.  Dreams shattered, we kept our gills held high and when it was time to take the stage, we owned it.  Sort of.

We were the first group to take the stage in our category, so we walked up and individually introduced ourselves, blowing bubbles hoping to really add to the effect.  Heck, we might as well have been called "Fish in 3-D".  The bubbles were that amazing.  Ok maybe I'm exaggerating.  I actually could not get the damn bubble stick out of the little cigarette sized bubble tube because I couldn't see past my big ass red nose or the oversized clown glasses I had on.  Plus I had multi-colored clown hair getting caught in my lip gloss so the fact that I had to pretend to swim, walk in clown shoes and make my mouth get close enough to a bubble stick to form what would inevitably be 3 tiny ass bubbles was beyond me.  Please don't tell the other fish.  Anywho.  The mild applause indicated to me the crowd either didn't get it, or they were speechless with our creativity.  Fish tails between our legs, we walked off the stage but that's when it hit me.  As a Clown Fish, it is my duty to make the people laugh.  So I grabbed the microphone and said, "Why did the shark cross the road?  To get to the other TIDE!"  Ok, I thought it was funny given the circumstances.  I then wanted to tap into the microphone and say, "Is this thing on?"  I exited stage left only to pass the entire cast of Toy Story.  Super.  Thinking we really nailed it with the bubbles and the joke, we were the ones that were speechless when the Toys performed a SKIT!  I mean, come on!  If we would have known we could have had sound effects, we would have at least played "Under the Sea" from the Little Mermaid, or at least the Jaws theme song.  Dang it.  Bubbles were not going to cut it.

The next group took the stage and at first we thought they were just 80's punk rockers, but then they turned on music to their theme song and that's when we realized they were dressed as the 80's TV Series, "Jem".  (Sing it with me now, "Jem is truly outrageous, truly truly truly outrageous, oh oh oh oh oh...")  Anyway, since they did a freakin' musical production and all we had were bubbles, we knew it was definitely over.  But then, the judges asked all of the groups to come back up to the stage, fish first.  I knew the crowd was thirsty for more, so I took the opportunity to tell my second favorite fish joke.  I grabbed the mircophone and said, "What did the fish say when he ran into the wall?  DAM!"

Ok, it's over.  We waved, we smiled, we blew our bubbles (I had actually thrown mine away already) and we swam off the stage.  As we stood off to the side, hoping we wouldn't place 4th (there were only 3 groups so that really would have been embarrassing) they announced the second place winner was....SCHOOL OF FISH!  Unbelievable.  It must've been the bubbles.  Or the jokes.  Either way, I celebrated our win by having shrimp for dinner.  Hooray.

For Halloween I decided to go trick-or-treating with my neighbors and their 4-year-old grandson.  We went up and down our block and at first, I couldn't believe how many people didn't have their lights on.  But then I thought well maybe it was because the first two kids I saw were like 18.  I wanted to go, "dude, you have, like, a beard."  But I didn't want him to smash my pumpkins so I let it go.  As we followed our sweet, innocent four-year-old up the block, he kept saying things like, "Come on guys!" and "Why are you going so slow?" and "This is like Easter!"  These comments coming out of a four-year-old policeman were just hilarious. 

When I got home, I couldn't help but look at the rotting pumpkin on my porch.  The stem fell of weeks ago and while the front of the pumpkin looked fine, the back was a black, rotting hole just waiting to take over.  Then it hit me - for the first time in I don't know how many years, no one has stolen a pumpkin off my porch and smashed it in the street.  Now, I'm not one to break tradition, so this crazy ghoul inside of me took over and I decided to smash MY OWN pumpkin on my own street in front of my own house.  I mean, really.  What's the big deal about smashing a pumpkin?  Having never done it before, I really wanted to know what was so fascinating about it.  So, I bent over to pick up the rotting pumpkin only to put my finger threw one of the squishy sides that I didn't think would be squishy.  Euw gross.  I finally found a sturdy spot and rolled it over onto my hand.  Walking down my own driveway, I quickly turned around when I saw a car coming.  Oh I get it, this is why this is so exciting.  You don't want to get caught.  But what did I care?  This was my own pumpkin, and my own street, and...but still.  I waited for the car to pass, then tried it again.  Damn!  Here comes a trick-or-treater.  Ok take your kit-kat and be on your merry way.  Finally, stillness.  I grabbed my pumpkin, ran down the driveway, threw the pumpkin straight up into the air and....SPLAT!  I've been hit!  Pumpkin seeds shot out like a canon, guts were splattered everywhere and it made the most fantastically disgusting sound.  Now I totally get it.  Marveling at my own Halloween horror scene, a car drove by my street and for a split second I thought it was a cop so I ran up the driveway, into the house, slammed the door and giggled like a teenager. 

It was then that I realized I have to clean it up. 
Hmmmmm.  I've never made pumpkin pie before...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week Forty-Two

Event:  Took a boxing class

If you were to describe my body type, the following words would NOT come to mind:  Athletic.  Toned.  Muscular.  Yoga.  Pilates.  Gym.  Runner.  And that is precisely why I decided to sign up for a boxing class.  No, not a kick-boxing class, a BOXING class. 
Yo Adrian.  For real. 

Title Boxing Club opened up a new location near my house, so I called to see if I could attend a trial class before signing up for a membership.  The owner told me there was a basic boxing class on Saturday morning and I was welcome to attend.  Excited, Saturday morning I jumped out of bed, only to realize I haven't been to a gym in over a year and therefore none of my workout pants fit.  Super.  While digging through the back of my dresser drawer, I found a pair of black pants with racing stripes down the side (to give the illusion of long, pilates-type legs of course) and while now they fit like a tight pair of leggings, at one point in my life these were baggy.  Surely the dryer shrunk them...

Since the pants were a total train wreck, I needed to find a shirt that said "hey, look at me, I'm a runner, a gym member and a boxer.  Bring it".  Unfortunately, I don't own anything that even remotely resembles that, so I ended up wearing a shirt that I wore to a race a few years ago (one that I walked in, of course).  Hopefully my fellow boxers will be so distracted by my intimidating race t-shirt, they won't notice the high waters that are cupping my butt so tightly I have two sets of butt cheeks.  One set under the underwear, the other squirting outside of the underwear.  Oh for the love of squats, let's do this.

I walked into the gym, head held high only to be caught off guard when the owner asked, "Do you want me to tape your hands?"  Huh?  "Do you want me to tape your hands?"  Eh?  "Do you want to put tape around your hands before you put your gloves on?"  Oooooh.  I get it.  This is like Rocky.  And you people are for real.  Hell no I don't need you to tape my hands, I'm not really going to punch anything, am I?  (that's what was going through my head).  I passed on the hand-taping but quickly regretted my decision when she handed me a set of boxing gloves that were as big as watermelons.  And we're off.

We were told to stand next to our punching bag so I quickly found a bag at the back of the room.  There were about 25 people in the class, each standing next to their own life-size punching bag and that's when I realized three things:  1) All of the girls in the class were a size two.  2) All of the girls in the class were wearing skimpy spandex shorts and spaghetti strap tank tops.  3) All of the girls had their hands taped.  Shit.  I couldn't stand out any more if I tried.  Fat girl.  Fake race t-shirt with a hole in the armpit.  No tape on hands.  I might as well have worn my swimsuit.  Soon the instructor came in looking like a combination of Lil Wayne and a Navy seal and before I knew it he was yelling at us to put our gloves on and punch away.  The class was already into the third set of right hooks and upper cuts before I even figured out to get my second glove on.  Do you know how hard it is to put on (and velcro) a boxing glove onto your left hand when you have a boxing glove on your right hand?  I was both dumb and dumber.  This was not going to be my best day ever.

For the next 60 minutes we punched, squatted, punched, crunched, jabbed, squatted, ducked and rolled, hooked, squatted and punched some more.  Then we ran.  Then we did a backwards crawl on all fours, then we ran some more, then I ran to the bathroom to dry heave, then we punched some more, then I ran to the drinking fountain, then we ran backwards and I ran forwards to the bathroom again, then we did side running, and I ran and stuck my head under the faucet, then we did crunches and scissor kicks and windshield wiper kicks and I ran out into another room and hid, then we did jumping jacks and I ran out and laid my cheeks on the cold marble tile, then we did side running again and I ran to the bathroom, soaked 5 paper towels, squished them on my head and ran back in only to find more running, punching, squatting, crunching and punching.  At one point I threw my gloves off like I just won the fight and I walked out of the room.  I was down for the count.  A lady came and checked on me.  My face was 13 shades of red.  In that moment, I really did not think I would live to see Christmas.

During the rest of the ass-kicking, I found myself asking God for an oxygen tank, an earthquake, the ability to upchuck my cheerios, a fire drill, a power outage...anything to make the class end.  Thankfully, with minutes to spare in my life, we stopped punching and began the cool-down period.  I sat down next to my bag, unable to move.  Gloves off, I looked down at my hands and noticed my knuckles were purple.  Damn hand tape.

In the end, I fought the bag and the bag won.  And despite this being a complete TKO, I can't wait for the re-match.  But I think I'll wait until after Christmas.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week Forty-One

Event:  Worked on a farm during Harvest

This weekend I drove to a small town in Nebraska to experience my first Harvest.  Population 630, this small town is the home of endless fields of corn, soybeans and alfalfa.  And boy, this city girl was in for a treat.

I knew it would be an adventure when my friend (who's husband's family lives on the farm) tried to give me directions.  She said she would text me with the steps on how to get there once I reached Omaha.  I figured that would be a good plan because surely it was just a couple of highway changes and I'd be there.  I received one text, then two, then three, then seven, then nine and finally, when the TWELVTH text came through saying "Good luck!" I knew I was in trouble.  Here's what some of the last few texts said:
-Go 15 miles on the highway and into town
-Turn right into town
-Go straight until you come to a 4-way stop at the end of town.  There's a mini-mart on your left.  Keep going.
-Follow the curvy road for 5 miles.  Look for signs with letters on them.  Turn left on "E" road.
-Go 1.25 miles on the gravel road.  At the top of the hill is a driveway.  Turn left by the big silver grain bins. 

Are you kidding me?  You might as well say, "turn left by the cows, turn right by the chickens and follow your nose in."  Boy was I corn-fused!  I knew I was in the right area though when I started seeing signs like the one that had an arrow on it that said, "Ballroom, Ball Fields and High School" this way.  God I love small towns.  I then came to an intersection where the Friday night High School football game was being played and I'm betting the entire town was there.  Next to the football field were grain bins.  I freaking love it.  A few wrong turns later, I found my final destination.  As I stepped out of the car I looked up at the magnificent sky and was overwhelmed with the bazillion stars that hung above me.  At about that same time my nose reminded me not to take in a deep breath of "fresh" air, as I found myself standing about 200 yards away from a hog barn.  "That's the smell of money" I was told.  As long as I'm not reminded that I'm eating the 'money' for breakfast, I'll be fine.

Shortly after I arrived the men came in from the field, ready to hit the town.  And this Dell was ready to meet her Farmer.  Hold on a second.  I just looked up "Farmer and the Dell" to make sure I spelled it right and I just learned that the stupid song says "Farmer IN the Dell."  Seriously, until this very moment I thought the song said, "The Farmer and the Dell" and by Dell I thought it meant lady farmer.  Holy cow manure I know absolutely nothing about farming.  I'm really glad I was telling cowboys all weekend that I'm the dell to their farmer.  Oh for shit's sake.  Farm 1, City Girl 0.

I put on my shit kickers and we were off.  You could say we went hog wild (yeah I said it).  We went down to the bar, conveniently called the Grain Bin, where it was like a scene out of Cheers.  Everyone knew everyone.  Except when I walked in it was like the record skipped.  Awkward pause, moment of silence, I quickly made friends with the bartender and we were all good.  A local even bought me a shot.  Another local came in, said hello to my group and ordered a 12-pack to go.  Huh?  That's right.  This bar also served as the town's liquor store.  I can't even take it!  On the way home we made an obligatory stop on the side of a gravel road to run across hay bails.  It's hard to run across hay bails to begin with, but you add the layer of total darkness (ok, and a little alcohol) and everything changes.  As I nervously took baby steps, the guys were running across them without a care in the world.  Silly cowboys. While I was being told to speed it up, one of the guys fell into a hole in the hay bail and found himself eating hay, while the other, attempting to catch up to us, didn't realize he was about to run out of hay bails and he quickly found himself eating dirt.  I daintily skipped along, then attempted to slide off a 7-foot hay bail only to get a bunch of hay splinters in my butt.  Super.

The next morning was controlled chaos.  Grandma was making eggs and coffee cake, the men were scurrying around getting ready, the women were chasing the children and I was putting on my make-up.  I literally have no idea what I'm doing.  We all quickly ate and before I knew it everyone was in a pick-up heading out to the farm.  Not sure what kind of danger to expect, I grabbed a bright orange hunting hat just to make sure no one Combined over me (at this point I have no idea what a Combine is) so when we stepped off the truck, I got a crash course lesson on Combines, Tractors, Grain Carts, Augers and Semi's. It was at this moment I was inspired to write a book entitled "The City Girl's Guide to Farming."  I could not believe how much I didn't know.  When I think of farming, I think of women dressed in jumpers and bonnets and men dressed in overalls riding a mule pulling a metal thingy that digs into the soil.  Oh wait, that's the Amish and they still do that.  At any rate, this was nothing like what I imagined.

The combine and the tractor have an air conditioned cab complete with music, a CB radio, cup holders and a flat screen.  Just kidding.  But seriously, they are high tech.  I learned a Combine sucks in the entire 9 foot corn stalk, stripping it of its stalk, silks, kernels and cob.  It shoots the kernels up to the attached grain cart and spits out the rest of the "trash" behind it.  The Tractor runs alongside the Combine so when the Combine's grain cart is full of kernels, an Auger swings out and shoots the kernels into the Tractor's Grain Cart.  When the Tractor gets full, its Auger swings out and shoots the kernels into the top of a semi.  When the semi is full you drive into town and a trap door opens at the bottom and the kernels are dumped into the floor of a grain bin.  Seriously.  Where have I been.

I spent the day riding shotgun in all of the aforementioned vehicles, only taking breaks to eat, potty and shovel corn.  And by that I mean grabbing a shovel (because sometimes the augers miss their target) scooping as many kernels as you can and tossing it into the top of a semi.  I wanted to prove I could do it, so I shoveled and tossed as hard as I could.  More than not my kernels crashed into the side of the semi as opposed to getting up and over the top, but I was trying.  In the end, I gave up and just sat in the pile of kernels doing snow angels and burying myself like I was at the beach.  I'm pretty sure they loved that.  Lucky for all of us, we got to take a break for lunch that featured fried chicken, home-made biscuits, veggies and a pumpkin dessert.  While enjoying this mouth watering meal I told Grandma this was about the best friend chicken I had ever had.  She responded by saying, "I just bought these chickens from Rita's farm - right down the road!"  I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

When we finally stopped farming around 10:30 that night, five of us piled into a pick-up with a cooler of beer and we hit the streets.  Excuse me, we hit the roads.  Gravel ones.  For fun the locals sometimes grab a spotlight, a 12-pack and drive around looking for wild animals.  Thinking we would probably only see some cows and maybe a horse or two, we were speechless when we saw a raccoon in a tree, a skunk running down the road, two deer and a coyote!  I was freakin' Jack Hannah and this was Animal Planet!  It was awesome.  To wrap up the night we even saw a Grizzly Bear!  (ok, it was stuffed and mounted on a plaque but still). 

The next morning I overslept and woke up at 10:15.  I had to put Bengay on my shoulders, two band-aids around my finger, take an advil and a Claritin.  This Dell thing is harder than it looks.

Here's to corn.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week Forty

Event:  Learned to drive a 5-speed

"Mustang Sally....guess you better slow that Mustang down!"

Today I got a lesson on how to drive a 5-speed.  But not just any 5-speed.  A Ford Cobra Mustang 5-speed.  With red velvet leather seats.  Oooooh yeah. 

The first part of my lesson was to learn how to start the car.  And despite being told exactly what to do, like a 16-year-old doing this for the first time, my first attempt failed miserably.  Let's try this again.  Putting my feet in all the right places (sheesh, these pedals are tiny), I fired it up and let 'er rip.  Oh shit.  Now what. 

Getting it into first gear was a breeze.  Staying there...not so much.  I think I killed the car more than I drove it, but soon I figured out the delicate balance of clutch and gas.  After several successful turns at progressing from first gear to second, (side streets only - I didn't want to find myself at the top of a hill going backwards at a stoplight) I was encouraged to "peel out" because after all, that's what Mustangs are made for.  So, I came to a stop at the beginning of a quiet street.  Sweaty palms in tow, I "floored it".  And by "floored it" I mean "killed it."  Dang it.  My second try was slightly more successful and as I was really picking up speed (ok, I was really only going like 12 miles per hour but still) a squirrel literally ran into the middle of the road and stopped, as if to be singing Mustang Sally, telling me to "slow my Mustang down."  I got the message and he got a haircut.  Stupid squirrel.

Ok, third time's the charm.  New street.  New courage.  No squirrels.  And this time I gave it a good rev and gave myself the ultimate "peeling out" experience only to find myself coming to a screeching halt right into a family reunion picnic.  If looks could kill. 

As fun as that was, I'm really not a fan of working out while driving.  I mean, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a charlie horse tonight in my left calf from the clutch work out.  And my right hand is cramping from squeezing the gear shift knob, so this 5-speed thing is for the birds.  Plus, with all the shifting and clutching when does one have time to send a text, put on make-up, change the music or eat?  I mean really.  (I hardly ever do these things and when I do I make sure I've come to a complete stop and it's a very long stoplight.  I promise.  Girl Scout Honor).

Ride, Sally, Ride.

No family reunion members were harmed during the making of this blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week Thirty-Nine

Event:  Adventures in Babysitting

The other day I ran into a co-worker of mine who told me his parents read this blog.  That got me thinking - what in the heck do total strangers think of this crazy girl who goes out and sings with bands, hops on motorcycles with men she doesn't know, goes to shooting ranges and rides around with cops for fun?  So I thought I should tone it down a bit and show that I'm not a wild, thrill-seeker living on the edge at all times.  That's why I called one of my best friends and asked if she and her family wanted to meet me at a local pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins.  In my mind, she and her husband and their three kids would meet me (the cool "aunt") at the pumpkin patch, where I would get to run around with them for a few minutes, eat kettle corn, pick a pumpkin, scope out the single dads, and go home.  Upon running this brilliant plan by my friend, she thought it would be even more fun if I took two of her kids with me...alone.  For the record, I don't have any kids of my own (that I know of) but I've been around them enough to know the basics.  What the heck.  Let's do it.

I drove to my friend's house because we both agreed I needed to drive their car since both kids are still in car seats.  Excuse me.  One is in a car seat, the other is in a booster seat.  I'm guessing this is a big deal.  Anyway, the youngest is two years old and his older sister is five.  Right before we piled into the Honda Odyssey minivan (seriously, all of my nightmares are coming true) I got a lesson about peanut allergies.  Fact:  Telling a single girl about the dangers of peanut allergies and discussing the risks if a child with a peanut allergy even so much smells a peanut will literally make single girl break out into a cold sweat, maybe even hives, and momentarily wish she had never signed up for this.  Ever.  But that wasn't the worst part.  The peanut allergy lesson got more interesting when I had to learn how to use an EpiPen.  Oh for the love of peanuts all around the world, I have to watch for two warning signs and if I see them (wheezing, red cheeks, fainting, throwing up - wait, that's just me) I have to dramatically shove this EpiPen thing into the fatty part of the thigh of this sweet little two year old?  All the while, maintain complete composure, explain how this is not my child, call 911, call mom and dad, yell for help, call MY mom and dad, keep an eye on older sister, watch my purse and make sure no one steals our pumpkins?  This parenthood thing is ridiculous.

Scared half to death, I left my purse behind and traded it in for a backpack that looked like a monkey.  (It is now abundantly clear that I will not be getting hit on today).  Inside are baby wipes (for fingers only, hopefully), two cups of water, two jackets, Benadryl and the EpiPen.  I got a quick lesson on how to drive a minivan, like how the side doors open automatically (my parents' Plymouth Voyager with wood paneling did NOT have that feature) and how to keep an eye on the kids by looking at the nifty little mirror above the windshield.  And we're off.    

As I nervously drove down the highway going 17 miles an hour, the kids were serenating me with the song "All the Single Ladies" sung by the chipmunks from Alvin and Chipmunks, the Squeakuel.  Ahhh, the irony.  Shortly after that song ended, Elmo came on.  This is exactly why moms secretly drink in the afternoon.  Three wrong turns later, the oldest told me I sure didn't know how to drive around the city very well, but we finally arrived at our destination.  Before opening the cool automatic doors, I said a little prayer, reminded them that they have to stay by my side at all times or else, I grabbed my monkey backpack and we were off.  I think I said "wait" and "hold my hand" like 87 times even before they were out of their car seats.  Oh sweet Jesus here we go.

As we walked up to the entrance, I handed the money to the gal behind the window and that's when the oldest said to her, "this is my mommy's friend."  And I responded by explaining how I was taking them to the pumpkin patch without their parents and we were going to have fun, and.... That's when she interrupted me and said to the woman, "And my older sister is at a birthday party so mom and dad are home all by themselves.  And you know what that means."  Before exploding with laughter, the woman and I looked at each other, waiting with baited breath for her to finish her sentence.  "That means they're WORKING."  Oh thank God.  Good answer.  Moving on.

We made it 10 feet before both kids started grabbing handfuls of gourds while the youngest went and got a wagon to pull.  Oh great, this is a train wreck in the making.  No telling how many toes we will run over today.  From gourds we moved to big, ugly, warty pumpkins (which was fun to explain why they looked that way - I made up something brilliant, I'm sure) and we finally made our way over to rides and games.  They rode a train, jumped on a pumpkin trampoline, had a duck race, went down a pumpkin slide, rode on a tricycle track, shot a paintball gun, launched a gourd out of a pumpkin cannon, got to see bunnies, pigs, horses and goats oh my!  All the while, I'm pulling the wagon with 17 gourds and a monkey backpack, checking for peanut allergy warning signs, and for the first time in my life, I understood why some people put their children on a leash. 

We didn't make it very far before the kids started asking for kettle corn.  I didn't want any tears, so we quickly made our way to the concession stand and I ordered a large bag of kettle corn and two leashes.  Just kidding.  As I began to open the bag, I had a vision of kettle corn being made with peanut oil so I quickly grabbed the bag away from the youngest and asked the woman behind the counter if this was safe to eat.  She of course gave me a non-answer by saying, "Legally I'm supposed to tell you some food with peanuts is made back here."  She clearly doesn't understand that I'm not a mother and if this is "mom speak" I'm not following.  Looking for a yes or no answer, I couldn't get one.  So, the "cool aunt" quickly became "the jerk that my mom is friends with" because I told the youngest he had to wait while his older sister chowed down.  He didn't quite understand my explanation, so for the next hour, all I kept hearing him way was, "I wann pup-core".  Eh?  "I wann pup-core."  What?  "I WANN PUP-CORE!"  His sister had to translate.  Oh, I get it.  He's trying to tell me he wants some of the popcorn.  I suck.

I did my best to distract him as we hopped on a tractor headed out to the field of pumpkins.  Luckily, each of the kids migrated to the medium sized pumpkins, not the "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" sized ones.  I told them we could get as many as they could carry.  Well that was stupid because guess who ended up carrying 6 pumpkins back to the tractor.  That would be me. 

As we worked our way back towards the entrance, we had to stop and play on a slide, a pirate ship, a train, a horse swing, dig in the sand and play in a sandbox filled with corn.  Oh crap.  Does corn grow with peanuts?  As I looked over, both of them were elbows deep in a corn-filled sandbox and my heart skipped a beat.  We didn't talk about corn!  What if he has a reaction to corn?  EpiPen on the ready, I waited for the signs as I ran over and lifted them both out of the box.  So far so good.  I could tell a minor meltdown was on the verge, so we hopped back on the horse swing, I bribed them with more pumpkins and we were on our way.  Meanwhile, mom called and said the kettle corn was fine.  Sorry for the delay, here's your pup-core.

A zip-line ride, a failed attempt into a haunted house and one more stop to see the bunnies and we were out of there.  Just in time because everyone was fighting over the kettle corn, I was out of money, and no one has pooped in 3 and a half hours and I'm betting my luck is about to run out.

Elmo sang us all the way home and that's when I realized these sweet little angels taught me a lesson today.  Life is all about laughing, having fun, playing in a sandbox filled with corn, going down a pumpkin slide and petting baby animals.  So here's to peanuts, "pup-core" and to kids of all ages.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week Thirty-Eight

Event:  Girls trip to Nashville

Nashville.  "Music City." "Athens of the South."  "Buckle of the Bible Belt."  And the temporary home of 5 city girls about to dig down deep, find their inner-cowgirl and tear up the town!

Last weekend 4 of my best friends from college and I decided to take a trip to the shit kicker capital of the world.  Many of us have not been on a vacation in a while, so this was no doubt going to be one memorable trip.

The first day we were there it was hot.  Africa hot.  And I was really glad that I wore an orange shirt that didn't breathe while we walked a country mile.  Make that about three country miles.  I also thought it'd be a good idea to buy a new pair of (rascal) flats for my trip.  I'm not sure which part of me was more attractive that day - the 6 band-aids covering both feet (no wait, there were seven...where'd that other one go...gross) or the fact that I looked like a construction worker - literally sweating through my shirt.  As we toured around the suburbs of Nashville and Music Row, at least the shopping and the eating made the trek worth it.

Bellies full and shirts dried, we decided to walk some more to see the Parthenon.  Parthenon?  In Nashville?  I must have been under a rock because I had no idea the Parthenon was in Nashville.  That's when I learned the city built this exact replica in the late 1800's as a symbol of the city's reputation for being the "Athens of the South".  Rumor has it they got that reputation because of the Greek Gods like Kenny, Tim and Keith.  Just kidding.  I made that up but I still don't get it.  Anyway, we walked about 47 miles to stand in front of this really tall building only to discover they were getting ready for a concert that night and out in front of the Parthenon was a disco ball the size of planet Jupiter.  I'm not kidding.  It seriously blocked the entire entrance of the Parthenon.  I'm not good at history, but I seriously doubt Athens would have ever done this. 

Finally making our way back to the hotel, we rested our legs, bandaged our feet and prepared for a night out on Nashville's most famous street - Broadway.  The five of us decided to have a quick burger at Rippy's down on the main drag, where, after just a couple of drinks (ok, more like 5), I decided it was time for me to be discovered.  Liquid courage + my favorite Miranda Lambert song = jump up on stage with the band and grab a microphone.  That's literally what I did.  Before I knew it, I was whaling away signing like I was with the band.  The lead singer didn't seem to mind, as she and her band mates kept strumming along as I stumbled over most of the words.  The moment was gone in an instant, but I'm pretty sure all 7 people in the bar clapped and cheered.  In fact, a little old man came over and said to me, "You were amazing!" The lead singer even told me when she makes it big, I can tour with her.  She then asked if I studied music.  I laughed my butt off and got her autograph...just in case.  (Thanks Kinsey Rose!)

After my Nashville singing debut, this party of 5 crossed the street to the World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge.  The former home of songwriters Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, we squeezed into this little bar and found ourselves surrounded by a bachelor party, 15 guys deep.  Sweet home Alabama I was in Heaven.  We soon made friends with each of them and before I knew it, I was exchanging numbers with one in particular.  Not sure if it was his 5 o'clock shadow or his t-shirt that read "Hank Jr." on the front and "Original Bad Ass" on the back.  It didn't matter.  This was Nashville.  Rhinestone cowboy, take me away.

Over the next few hours, our new friends became permanent members of our group.  Where we went, they went.  And vice versa.  We eventually landed at a bar called the Full Moon Saloon.  The band there wasn't very good so when they took a 5 minute break, something named Coors Light took over my body and threw me up on stage, once again, trying to get discovered.  Within seconds, the lead singer hopped up and reminded me that I was holding (and fake-playing) a $2,000 guitar.  He then turned my microphone off.  Dream crusher. 

The next day the 5 of us girls got to do something not many "outsiders" get to do - we got a private tour of the recording studio owned and operated by Martina McBride and her husband.  It's the largest recording studio in Nashville and it was amazing.  The studio, a state-of-the-art facility, has been the studio of choice for artists like Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts.  None of whom were there to greet us.  Jerks!  Hoping maybe our tour guide would see in me what the old man in the bar saw in me, I waited for my opportunity to jump into a studio and let 'er rip.  I'm still waiting. 

For our last night in Nashville, we wanted to take in a little piece of history so we bought tickets to see a show at the Grand Ole Opry.  Unfortunately, the Grand Ole Opry was temporarily closed due to the flood.  Therefore, they were doing shows at the original home of the Grand Ole Opry - the Ryman Auditorium.  Excited about experiencing a concert at Nashville's most famous historic attraction, our excitement quickly turned to dismay when we were greeted by Minnie Pearl and realized everyone around us was over the age of 70.  Surely the concert will be good.  Surely.  Unfortunately for us, the concert was a cross between The Lawrence Welk Show and the Prairie Home Companion.  It was like an AARP convention with square dancers.  Old time country singers (and I mean some of the originals!) came out and sang a couple of songs, then they would take a commercial break (the show was sponsored by Dollar General if that tells you anything) then another golden oldie would come out with a walker, sing a couple of songs and walk off.  Thanks to God, the sun, the moon and the stars they sold beer.

After the sweatin' to the oldies concert wrapped up, we once again met up with the Boys of Fall and had another knee-slapping, boot stomping, yee haw hollerin' good time. 

Nashville's a drinkin' town with a music problem.  And while I didn't get discovered, it sure was fun trying.  Yee Haw!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week Thirty-Seven

Event: State Fair

Yee Haw it's State Fair time!  This weekend my family and I packed up and headed out to the booming metropolis of Hutchinson, Kansas for the annual Kansas State Fair.  Having been once before as a youngin' we were all pretty excited about coming back.  Dad wanted to see the horses, mom wanted to see the rabbits, my sister wanted to eat a fried twinkie and I wanted to milk a cow!  High hopes....

As we made our entrance, our noses became keenly aware that we were, in fact, in the middle of what arguably could be the biggest farm in Kansas.  Watch your step.  As we walked down the main street of the fair, we decided to head into "Dairy Land" because again, I was convinced I was going to milk a cow.  As we entered, we could not believe our eyes at the size of some of these heifers.  I walked up to one that I swear was bigger than my SUV.  I turned to the cowboy standing by and was like, "this is the biggest cow I've ever seen!"  He replied by telling me the cow was pregnant, which helped explain why it needed its own area code.

As we meandered down the barn, this guy walked up us and said, "Do you guys want to see a baby bull?"  We were like, "uh huh."  So he took us to the far end of the barn and there, lying in the hay, was a brand spanking new bull.  And by new I mean this baby had been born 30 minutes before we got there!  The mom was standing there with all of her birthness hanging out (I'm not gonna lie, it was gross.  There's a reason they don't show this type of birthing video in school.  This would be traumatizing to children of all ages, including 34-year-old ones).  Anyway, mom's standing there with her innards hanging out and the baby is lying there all gooey and stuff and we're just standing in complete awe.  Our new friend turned to us and said, "The baby hasn't taken its first steps yet, but it will soon."  So despite being totally grossed out, yet not being able to take our eyes off of what was happening, we continued to stand there as we witnessed a true miracle. 

This sweet baby bull was looking around dazed and confused when all of the sudden, it started to make its mooooove.  (sorry, I had to).  He leaned forward, then stuck his butt in the air and propped his hind legs up, then, wobbly, he popped up on one arm, then the other and before we knew it our brand new baby bull was standing on all fours.  We all clapped as if to say, "Oh look at little junior, we're just so proud!"  He took just a couple of steps and down he went, face planting into the hay.  At about that time I found myself practically in the hay with him, not realizing that maybe I was a little too close.  The mom looked at me and let out this sort of a moo/snort/growl/get the hell away from my baby or I'll give you something to blog about kind of warning.  Apparently it's a little too soon to lean in and put my arm around junior for a picture.  Ok, backing up.

Deciding that we could go home now because really, how many times in your lifetime do you get to see a baby bull 30 minutes after it was born?  But, we decided there had to be more adventures in store, so we made our way out of the big cow barn over to the arena where they show the cows (sort of like "best in show" but with heifers).  While walking over, we had to pass through a tight area where the cows and their owners were walking from the barn to the arena, preparing for the contest.  My family and I were walking in a single file line, with me bringing up the rear (pun intended - wait for it).  I of course, found myself sandwiched in between the back of a cow and the front of another.  For the record, I have never lived on a farm but this city girl knows the golden rule.  Never.  Stand.  Behind. A Farm animal.  Of any kind.  Never.  (This lesson I learned on a 7th grade church mission's trip when I got bucked in the butt by a horse. I digress). 

Anyway, here I am sandwiched in between two cows and as I try to quickly navigate around the back of 'ole Bessie, I hear someone exclaim, "Watch out!"  At this moment, everything happened in slow motion.  I turned my head in the direction of the warning call only to see this two ton heifer drop the biggest dump known to man.  Right there, right in front of me.  The good news is, my foot was not firmly planted under her ass.  The bad news is, shit splatters. 

This shit pile had to be as big as a watermelon.  I shit you not.  Holy shit!  It was like she ate an entire Chipotle restaurant!  I mean, how in the hell do they do that STANDING UP?  Around a crowd of people?  I can only assume she was nervous because she knew she had to go in and enter a contest, so maybe she figured it would help her waist look thinner, who knows.  But holy shit.  As the shit splattered on the hot concrete, I, of course, was standing within a 5 mile radius of the explosion and thus, shit splattered onto my bare leg and all over my shoes.  This is exactly why cowboys wear jeans and boots.  Welcome to the state fair, city girl.

After using 672 Kleenexes to clean me up, my family and I pressed on to continue to have the ultimate state fair experience.  (I'm now reminded why we don't do this every year).  We made our way around the food court and we tried two things I have never had before.  One was a Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger where the burger and all the fixin's are sandwiched between a Krispy Kreme donut.  Heart attack - party of 4.  When we all regained consciousness and our arteries were back to normal, we tried fried green tomatoes.  I've never had them before but now I want them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Deep fried yum. 

Before making our final stop at the horse arena, it became clear to me that I would not, in fact, get to milk a cow.  But, given my recent bonding experience I think I'm good for a little while.  Instead, as my family and I looked across the desert plains (ok, it was just a dusty road) I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.  There, standing in the Arabian desert (again, just a dusty rode in Kansas) was a CAMEL!  Not only did I get to pet it, I got to RIDE it! 

As we exited the fairgrounds, I noticed the long line of people waiting to get in.  That's when I turned and saw a flyer on the ticket window that said, "Sheep thrills". 

They have no idea what's in store.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week Thirty-Six

Event:  Went on a Police Ride-Along

"Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha gonna do?  Whatcha gonna do when WE come for you?" 

Last week I got to ride in the front seat of a police car with a Police Officer from my local po-po department for an entire four-hour shift.  I was excited and nervous - mainly because I didn't know what to wear!  I mean, will I be introduced to the entire squad?  Will I get to go down the line at roll call and pick which hot, young, single rookie I get to ride with?  Or, will I be stuck with the 67 year-old Chief?  Will I be chasing down criminals, and should I therefore wear my Puma's?  (they make me run really fast).  Or should I be casual and wear flip flips in case they ask me to go undercover for a drug bust?  They don't tell you this stuff when you sign up - what's a girl to do?  In the end, I landed on jeans and a top with a mildly plunging neckline, with a scarf, just in case.

Waiting at the station, I was brushing up on gun safety while preparing my questions, like, "How long do tickets stay on your record?"  Or, "How fast can I really go before you'll pull me over?"  Or my favorite, "Hypothetically, if I'm at a happy hour, how many drinks can I have before driving home and still be ok to drive?"  Hypothetically, of course.

Before I knew it, I was being called to the front and there he was.  Tall, dark, handsome and...married.  Shoot!  (pun intended)  Good thing I wore the scarf.  Unfortunately, there was no role call and no grand entrance in front of the squad.  Instead, we immediately packed up and headed out.  Before hopping in the police car, I got a tour.  Of the car.  I had no idea all the stuff police officers carry in their trunk!  Everything from first aid kits to biohazard suits to heart-starting paddle things to teddy bears for kids.  It was incredible.  The back seat was half regular back seat and half criminal-you're-in-trouble-now-bullet-proof-glass-with-bars-on-the-window-you're-not-going-anywhere back seat.  This special seat was plastic and the floor had a hole in it so the police can spray it down if they need to.  Ewwww.

As I hopped into the front seat, I sandwiched myself in between the door, two rifles and a laptop propped up on the console.  At my feet was "The Stalker" - the gun zapper thing they use to monitor your speed.  I attempted to take the batteries out so I could look out for my fellow citizens but I had no luck.  (Just kidding Officer).  As we hit the road for our first call, I was amazed at how much was going on in the car.  The laptop, the city dispatch on one radio station, the greater metro-wide dispatch on another radio station, and me, just yapping away.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  Here we were, Dirty Harry meets Cagney and Lacey.  I was ready to fight crime.  To serve and protect.  To keep our city safe.  I was ready to put my life on the line.  Well, that was all fine and good until our first call was to drive down a quiet street and tell kids to quit playing in it.  Hmmm.  I hope it gets a little more exciting than this.

As the night went on, our calls did get more exciting.  We sat on a sleepy corner with "The Stalker" and checked people's speed as they drove by.  The third card we zapped was an unfortunate teenager (now I feel bad) driving a BMW (I don't feel bad anymore) on her way to babysit (oh crap I feel bad again) going 50 in a 35 (say goodbye to your babysitting money!)  After that, there was a noise complaint about a dog barking so we sat in front of a house for 15 minutes and heard nothing but crickets.  We are literally serving and protecting at this very moment.  Then we made a stop to interview a teenager whose skateboard was stolen.  Did I mention we were protecting?  During these stops, the Officer made me stay in the car.  I was obedient and didn't mind, but as we approached the four-hour mark, I was beginning to get punchy so when he stepped out of the car and once again told me to stay put, I responded by saying, "I'll hold all your calls."  (Apparently I needed to be reminded of the scary plastic back seat he might put me in if I don't shut my trap).

The best part of the night was when I thought I caught a criminal in the act.  For about 30 minutes the Officer was telling me about this string of burglaries in the area where criminals would case the house and when the people would leave, they'd break in and steel big screen TVs.  As he's telling me this story, I see out of the corner of my eye something that didn't look right.  As we turned the corner, I hit his arm and said, "Oh my gosh - look left!  There are burglars stealing a TV right there!"  Sure enough, part of that statement was correct.  Instead of burglars, it was 4 girls.  Instead of a flat screen, it was the biggest boob tube you've ever seen.  And instead of stealing it, they were moving it, along with the rest of their stuff.  So I guess this means I won't be getting a medal or a purple heart or anything.  Damn.  I was really planning on a citizen's arrest. 

During the last stop of the night, the Officer and I were just chatting along, and without warning he flipped on the siren and lights, pulled a 180 in the middle of the street and hit the gas.  It took me so off guard I think I tinkled a little bit.  As he pulled over the speeder with no lights on, I again, found myself sitting, waiting patiently.  That's when I got the idea to pick up the zapper that I had been holding and I pretended to point it at oncoming traffic.  I pulled the trigger only once.  But now looking back I wonder if there are cameras in police cars.  If so, I'm soooo busted.  To add insult to injury, when the Officer got back in the car, his radio was up really loud and I couldn't hear him so I instinctively reached up to turn the volume down on the dashboard and I got my hands slapped.  I guess we're not at the Starsky and Hutch level just yet.  Ok, just checking.

In the end, I had an amazing experience and now have a new respect for the city's finest.  I learned they are genuinely good people, just trying to keep the streets safe and people out of trouble.  I also learned police officers don't think it's very funny when you ask them where the closest donut shop is. 

Duly noted.  10-4.  Over and out.