Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm Laura and I am a Magazine-a-holic

I admit it. I am a fifty one year old woman (I am NOT fifty two for a few more days. If anyone is interested) and I am addicted to MORE magazine. MORE magazine:for women of style and substance as their cover proclaims, is to my life now as SEVENTEEN magazine was during those angsty preteen years and COSMOPOLITAN was during those twenty-something days of dating and college. In other words – it is my guide for being fabulous...in my own mind.

I don't race to the mailbox anymore, probably because our mailman doesn't show up until well after 5pm and I get home from work at 7pm, thus allowing a nice leisurely stroll to the box on my way in the house. But once here, I do what I have always done. I pour over the cover, do a cursory sweep of the pages and finally, when I have the uninterrupted alone time, I read the magazine from cover to cover. If the mailman has done his job, the magazine arrives on a Friday before a Saturday that I have free. Then I can sit on the deck and read the magazine from cover to cover, with a rum drink or steaming cup of Starbucks Morning Joe at hand.

I suppose the fact that I can read the magazine from cover to cover in what amounts to about an hour might not be the best endorsement of the depth of the articles. Or, perhaps this is part of their marketing. They know their audience and their audience does not have hours to devote to articles with pretentiously huge words and very few pictures. ~cough cough~ VANITY FAIR ~cough cough~ Although the evil geniuses at Vanity Fair know that it is the photos on their cover that sucks me in while standing the check out at Target.

But I digress. (Take that, Vanity Fair.) I finished the June issue of MORE this past weekend. This issue was all about reinvention. How fortuitous. In the month of my birth, my guidebook for middle age has come out with the handbook of how to handle this new chapter of my life. There were articles addressing how to wake up rested (something about just going with those middle of the night wake ups), how to eat like a Frenchwoman (not nearly enough croissants in this one), how to get inspired (can't remember an example here but trust me, it was inspiring) and how to put some spark in how you dress (apparently it involves cute cardigans. Which, if worn on the Coast of Illinois would actually cause spontaneous human combustion). And there were liner notes. You know liner notes. Those tiny notes running vertically in the margins a la MAD magazine. But rather than offering up the antics of SPY vs SPY these offered suggestions on how to bump yourself out of the rut of middle age...or any age for that matter. Little hints like ~ stir your soul ~ and clear out your psyche. I have done neither of those. But I have ~binge viewed a series~ and ~planned an adventure~. I would love to give speed dating a try but I am not sure how my husband would feel about that.

Ladies of a certain 'I can't go sleeveless anymore and Wonder when I can retire' age, MORE is our magazine. Your middle-schoolers have SEVENTEEN with its cute clothes and One Direction updates. And your high school and college gals have COSMO with its 'I was so embarrassed' sex stories and 'how to dress trampy without actually looking like a tramp' pictorials. Don't get me wrong. I L-U-V-ed SEVENTEEN with its over-sized format (that's dating myself) and its beautiful prom dress issue. And I adored! COSMO, but eventually it became too much of an embarrassment to leave lying around the house with our own teenage kids and its orgasm laced covers And honestly, once you have done all the 69 Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life it becomes a little, well, obsolete. Am I right ladies?

And so, enter MORE. It offers articles that are relevant to a woman my age: how to deal with boomerang children, how to dress and deal with additional gravitational pull, how to cope with a healthy crop of chin hairs. And it offers no apologies. It gets its spice, not from cinnamon like Better Homes and Gardens or Good Housekeeping, but from real talk with no punches pulled.

When I finished reading the June issue I felt like I did back in the days of SEVENTEEN and COSMO. I felt good about myself, ready to face a new day. But this time, rather than a new set of AB exercises and four new positions guaranteed to knock his socks off, I am tempted with ways to challenge myself to make the changes that only happen in my head on the commute to work.

And it is with that attitude that, rather than letting the alarm buzz me into a morning funk, I am setting my Ipod to lull me awake to the sound of Lebanese Blonde and my Morning Joe is taking a back seat to a real cup of Cuban coffee made in the stove top espresso pot I normally save for special occasions. I have high hopes to start that writing routine I keep putting off and finally master the yoga program I have been only attempting occasionally.

So...I started this over the weekend. I just finished it this morning before posting. And at this posting my new morning routine lasted exactly one morning. Turns out the Ipod alarm only really works if you set if for AM and not PM and lying awake half the night wondering if the pretty music will actually wake me up is not all that conducive to waking up rested. The cup of Cuban coffee was delish but being able to prepare one cup at a time really but a crimp in my already too short morning. And my writing and yoga routines?

Well, lets be honest, no matter how old you are some things never change...

*This is an unpaid endorsement of all the above mentioned magazines: MORE, Seventeen, Cosmo, Vanity Fair. And the unmentioned Vogue as well as our local mags Sauce, Feast and Alive. Face it. I love magazines. And as always, if any of these un-endorsed mentions have piqued the interest of editors I am available.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Claim This Phrase in the Name of France...or wait, In the Name of PACU*

Faux Friday: The last day of the work week that is not a Friday and is preceded by a Saturday and Sunday with no return to work until Monday. Usually a Wednesday or Thursday. Occasionally may be used to designate the beginning of a non-traditional weekend where said non-traditional weekend is followed by a real Friday. Generally only acceptable in the dead of winter when you go to work in the dark and return home in the dark. Origin: most any 10 or 12 hour shift worker. Uses: 1.gloating as in "Oh, so sorry, today is my Faux Friday." 2. envy as in "I am so sick of you telling me it is your Faux Friday."
See also Thumpday.

Thumpday: the day of the week immediately preceding Faux Friday. Usually a Tuesday or Wednesday making that day fake Thursday or Thumpday. Also: the day you are most likely to thump someone; probably the person who's Faux Friday is only your Thumpday.

I hereby claim the origin and creation of these two phrases. I don't care what UrbanDictionary says. To you UrbanDictionary I say "Crapmonkey!"**

Ps- Guess what day this is posted on...

*PACU - a vicious little fish. Also the acronym for Post Anesthesia Care Unit, where I spend approximately 25 % of my time. Or 30% of my time if you add in commuting. (See Faux Friday).

**Crapmonkey was, in fact, coined by my artist and writer friend Mel Stevens. Although my sister really brought its usage to the forefront.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Things I Learned from My Dad

Never take yourself too seriously, or allow random photos of yourself to be stolen from facebook.

Fireworks hate people. Given the chance they will chase you around the block, lodge in your t-shirt and burn the &*^%$&^& out of you.

If you flood the floor of an abandoned chicken house and call it an ice rink...they will come.

One bunny makes a fun Easter gift. Two bunnies makes you the Tyson Bunny Rancher. And no matter how emphatically you call it 'chicken' it is still a left over bunny.

Just because the pony is adorable and free doesn't make it any less likely to kill you in your sleep because it is the devil.

The 'lucky' t-shirt from the previous fireworks lesson won't keep you from setting fire to a pontoon boat roof.

If you take your wife and kids to Mount Rushmore nothing can stop them from posing like the heads in at least one family picture.

You thought I was kidding, didn't you...

A PallMall butt thrown from the driver's window of an Impala station wagon will return through the passenger window and set fire to the seat. Every time.

Camper + Family x Miles To Florida = 17 Broken Fan Belts

You can never see too many Forts.

And the converse: Seen one Fort...you've seen them all. Seriously.

And, through it all, the good, the bad and the flammable – your family will always love you!

Happy Father's Day Dad!!!
Me and my Dad.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Banjos in the Mist

Took a trip to 'the country' over the weekend. How do you know you are in 'the country'? Well, there are the signs:

Red or white pop. That is the question...
My husband feels there is a direct correlation between my ability to walk barefoot on asphalt in July with my love of fried bologna and I would have happily eaten at Uncle Joe's but we had a lake to fall into. We turned off the highway and onto a blacktop road designated by a snake drawing on a yellow road sign. The road took us over the very lake we were hoping to swim sail. The bridge over the lake was very scenic and gaurded by a floatilla of fishermen who do not own shirts. None of them. Including the women.

On the right side of the road, directly before our turn, was a brown park sign designating the area north of the road a 'Controlled Hunting Area'. Seemed straightforward enough. We made our turn, which took us south, and immediately passed a boy of around fourteen standing on the seat of an ATV pointing a crossbow at something in the backwater of the ditch at the side of the road. His buddy had just lobbed an unseen object toward the threat and was racing off with his hands over his ears.

Neither boy had on a shirt...or shoes.

Welcome to the 'Uncontrolled Hunting Area'.

We decided it was best not to stop for a photo...

Monday, June 3, 2013

CLOWNS! a summer rerun and public service announcement

I was talking with some friends the other evening. The discussion turned to a debate over which is scarier: snakes or spiders. I am not thrilled with either but given the option I would say small spiders are okay...as long as I can squish them with my shoe. Jumping spiders are OUT. Snakes, are not that bad as long as I don't have to remove them from my toilet, kitchen or car. It is nearly impossible to squish a snake with a size nine shoe. However, we all decided that there is one thing even scarier than spiders or snakes. Please keep in mind, there was a member of law enforcement, a fire fighter, a former ER nurse and a mother of two teenage boys. We are not easily scared.

Except by clowns.

So, as it is officially summer and summer is the time of reruns and parades in which Clowns are a staple, I present to you...


See the woods behind the post? That is where they will find your body...

Could someone tell me – just when did clowns become scary? You mention 'clowns' to any adult I know and they turn pale, wring their hands and change the subject faster than a Congressman at a press conference.

I use to love clowns. The clowns I knew growing up were the happy, non-threatening variety. Red Skelton's Clem Kadiddlehopper, Captain Kangaroo's Town Clown and the grandfather clown of them all – Emmett Kelley. These clowns were loveable bums just trying to get by. They stumbled through my favorite television broadcasts trying to solve problems in their bumbling mute manor. I could relate to their clumsiness in the way that only a middle schooler who tripped over the vault horse could. I just wanted to give them a big hug.

And I guess, this is where the notion of scary began to evolve. As an adult I wonder, why would anyone in their right mind want to hug a grown man wearing all that makeup and baggy clothes? There is no doubt that these clowns smelled – most likely of 40 ounce malt liquor. It is now obvious that all three were probably members of some hobo-fueled street gang whose weapon of choice was disarming charm. Their gang sign was the pantomime for a train whistle and they most likely had tattoos of the various balloon animals they created.

I look at the clowns that my children watched growing up: Ronald McDonald and Bozo. One is trying to kill everyone with 'happy' meals full of artery clogging fat. Never mind that his organization provides housing for sick kids and their families. You scrape away all that goodie-two shoes stuff and you have a modern day Hansel and Gretel Witch luring children to his french fry play place.

And then there is Bozo. It was while watching Bozo's Circus that I began to notice the subtext, behind the makeup, the poorly masked disdain for all those screaming kids. He would call strange children down from the audience and on local cable television ask them to play with his balls in exchange for 'a surprise'. Really?

Driving home from work a while back I noticed a sign stapled to a telephone pole. In dripping blood red text it advertised Clowns...and more!! WHAT! From the shaky penmanship the sign looked to be the work of some demented mental patient who recently absconded from his cushy padded cell. I have no doubt that the poor mom who answered that ad thinking she was adding a touch of whimsy to her three-year-old's birthday would wind up buried in the woods beyond the post. Thinking it was just me, I mentioned the sign to a number of people and the reaction was the same: shocked speechlessness followed by talk of happy places and hiding under their beds.

As an adult, the clown, just seems to be the embodiment of all we teach our children to beware of. Grown adults masking their true selves behind makeup dressed in intentionally deceptive big shoes; they are obviously up to no good. Stephen King used a clown as the consummate image of evil in the book "It". John Wayne Gacy painted picture upon picture of clowns...and we all know how well he turned out. Yet we insist on inviting clowns to birthday parties and allow them to fill the gaps between floats in parades. They stroll the pavement at fairs with their squeaky balloon animals and offer 'whiffs' from their squirty lapel pin flowers. In fact, at a recent event I saw an entire busload of 'Clowns for Jesus'. I am pretty sure Our Lord would not have the following He has now if He wandered the roads of Jerusalem in face paint and asked lepers to 'honk my nose' for salvation.

And think about it. The word 'clown' is never used in a flattering manner. You have 'clown' pants and 'class clown' . If a woman wears too much make-up she looks like a 'clown'. Face it- when was the last time you called someone a 'clown' and meant it in a complimentary manner?

As a child, I had no idea of the scary crap waiting for me in the big wide world. But now, after years spent working in hospital emergency departments and surgical venues, years spent raising children while married to a member of law enforcement, very few things truly scare me. But I must admit, outside of Sock Monkeys, clowns are number one.

I have no doubt that those practicing the art of Clowning will take exception to my thoughts. And that is fine. Just pack yourselves into that tiny little car that miraculously seats seventy-five and keep on driving. With any luck you'll do us all a favor and run over a pack of SockMonkeys on your way back to where ever it is that you keep those giant shoes.

(first posted 03.23.2011 The Clowns! sign disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared. I had nothing to do with it. Really.)

(My apologies to the person who posted that sign...oh, who am I kidding. Clowns are just plain scary. If you are crazy enough to post your phone number on a sign advertising clowns you are asking for trouble.)