ACW Episode 182 – Vacationing with the Hubster

The Adventures of Cynical Woman!

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This is exactly what it’s like to go on vacation with Hubster. I have been married to this man for almost 20 years, and he has just about damn near killed me every one of those years by taking me on vacation. I remember our honeymoon. It was a death-march through Disney World. In Montreal, he walked us up and down the mountainside of the Mont Royal¬†cemetery, looking for some mythical passageway to the park on the other side of the hill. He never found it, and when I slipped and fell in red clay mud and ruined my best linen skirt, trying to follow him down a steep path, I nearly killed him and left him there among the crypts. And then there was the time he nearly killed my aging mother by walking her to death in the Virginia Zoo.

Anyway. A week and a half ago, the kids had a four-day holiday from school, so at the last minute, Hubster planned a trip to the Shenandoah Mountains. He and I both went to college at Virginia Tech, so we love it up there. The kids had never been, and we hadn’t had a vacation in the last couple years, so I thought, why not? It was only four days, and surely the kids would slow him down…

We headed to the Shenandoah National Park on Thursday and spent the night at the Big Meadows Lodge. Beautiful place, absolutely gorgeous. The main lodge has a large sitting room with lots of comfy chairs and couches, a roaring fire place, and a big picture window view of the mountains. While Hubster played checkers with the kids, I sat on one of the comfy couches and crocheted contentedly.

It was the last peaceful moment I had all weekend.

Before dawn the next morning, Hubster got us all up so we could hike to one of the local viewing spots and see the sun rise. The kids started complaining right off the bat, but I knew it was way too early for that yet. This was only the first of many hikes Hubster had planned for the day. When we made it to our destination and the sun came up, the kids suddenly got all ecstatic! ¬†“WOOHOO! WE HIKED ALL THE WAY OUT HERE BEFORE THE SUN CAME UP!! IT’S SO BEE-YOO-TEE-FUL OUT HERE!! NOW CAN WE GET BREAKFAST?!”

So we hiked back to the lodge, had breakfast, packed up the car, and checked out before heading out on our next hike. Which was considerably longer and tougher than the first one. And the hikes only got longer and tougher from there.

Long story short, the kids discovered that day what I had known for two decades. Given the chance, their father will walk until every member of the family falls to the ground dead. And then he’ll keep walking, not realizing he’s left us all behind. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love us. I know he does. But the man has to walk. And since I married him, I have to walk to. Until death do us part.

‘Nuff said.

I’ll try to post pics from the trip later on in the week. As exhausting as this trip was, it was beautiful.

Drama vs. Contentment

I recently had a brush with someone else’s drama. It was not the natural disaster sort of drama, nor was it the death-in-the-family sort of deal where the tragedy that happens in unavoidable and there’s no way out but through it. Rather, this was a sort of self-inflicted sort of thing, many years in the making, that was brought about by bad decisions, refusal to communicate, and an unreasonable expectation that everything, especially the people you love, should be perfect or at least better than they are.

I hate this kind of drama. First, it’s sad to see people’s lives combust right before your eyes. But second, it really is self-inflicted, and it’s mainly because of that mindset that everything in life should be without flaw. People, jobs, relationships are not perfect. They never will be perfect. And when you get involved with any of these things, when you make a long term commitment to someone or to something, you ought to understand at the start that there will be mistakes and rough patches and even a little outright misery.

And you know what? That’s okay.

Seriously, this is where the Buddhist in me comes out. When Buddha said “Life is suffering,” I think what he meant was, “There are tough times in life, and there’s no way to avoid them.” And that’s true enough. But I also think he meant that people want things to be perfect no matter what, and they get upset when things turn out to be otherwise. Things, people, and situations are all impermanent. They CHANGE. What was perfect one day will be flawed and blemished then next. And that’s okay. It’s the natural state of things. Nothing lasts forever. But people refuse to see that, refuse to accept that the job they took on now has additional or different responsibilities, the person they made friends with has picked up (or probably always had) annoying bad habits, that the house they bought has bad plumbing, etc., etc., etc. And that refusal to accept always leads to anger and strife and worry and misery.

And people wonder why they’re suddenly so unhappy with their once perfect lives.

I figured out a long time ago that nothing was ever going to be perfect in my life. I have a husband I love. He’s handsome, smart, responsible, kind, generous, and good with kids. He also drives me nuts with his coupon clipping, his budgeting, his technobabble, the way he riles up the girls right before bedtime, the way he leaves his shoes lying around, his mile-wide streak of perfectionism. We’ve had more shouting matches and head butting over these things than I can recall. And somehow, we’re still married after 16 years.

Then I have these two beautiful daughters. They’re smart, funny, loving, healthy. They fight non-stop some days and drive me batty with endless questions and attitude and tantrums, not to mention their refusal to eat a meal I made because they specifically asked for it, and oh, did I mention the youngest scribbled on my freshly painted walls, and the oldest can’t focus on her homework to save her life some days? The whining and the fussing and the fighting never end. Yet somehow, I look at them and think, “I want a third. One more baby would make this family complete.”

I love my parents. They’re far from perfect. I love my friends. They don’t hit that goal of perfection either. And you know what? Neither do I. I nag, I bitch, I get angry, I yell. I’m rude, obnoxious, a loud-mouth. I’m carrying around an extra 10 lbs I can’t seem to lose no matter what and my oldest child tells me my butt jiggles funny when I run.

No, nothing is ever perfect. But there’s plenty in life that’s good enough, and I want to appreciate those things as much as I can. Case in point. Hubster and I were rather shell shocked after being hit by the shrapnel of someone else’s drama (and that’s my biggest bitch about drama; it doesn’t just affect those directly involved, it takes out the bystanders too). Feeling nervous, upset, out of sorts, we deliberately decided to take stock of what we had. We had dinner as a family, laughing and joking with the girls. We ate fortune cookies and giggled over the ludicrous fortunes we got. We read comic books together and tucked the girls into bed with kisses and songs. Then we curled up together on the couch to watch a movie. Before we went to sleep, we made love.

None of it was perfect. Pixie wouldn’t eat her dinner and threw a tantrum when she only got one fortune cookie because of that. Princess pouted and whined over not getting extra stories or being allowed to stay up late. Hubster and I argued over how good the movie was when it was over, me rolling my eyes yet again at his elitist standards for cinema. And the sex? It was comfortable, not earth-shattering.

And I’m good with all of that. Really, I am. It’s a quiet life with minor issues, and I don’t set out to make mountains out of molehills by digging up every little thing that goes wrong. And I think that’s good, because when the mountains do come along, the real ones like a natural disaster or a death in the family, I know I’ll still have the solid ground of a contented life to keep me steady on my feet.

*****

Helen’s list of contentment’s for today:

  • Two little girls who love singing along to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
  • Waking up with a half-decent story idea in my head for today’s writing
  • Cheese and onion pie with fruit salad and iced coffee at the Briar Patch Tea room
  • Running into an old friend at lunch and reminiscing about the days I used worked at the newspaper
  • Reading Bone by Jeff Smith to my girls
  • Having time to do random doodling on in my sketch book
  • Picking up an old paperback I’ve had for years and finally starting to read it (Gojiro by Mark Jacobson)
  • Summer dresses and nice weather
  • Long phone calls with my friends
  • Learning how to knit a potholder
  • Watching Stranger Than Fiction with the Hubster and discovering Will Ferrel can really act
  • Sleeping late, curled up with the man I love. He smelled too good and felt too comfy for me to get out of bed.

Really, what more could I want than all this?

After Balticon, I Came Home To Blood…

I had the absolute best time at Balticon this weekend. I will give you the details later. Probably tomorrowish later. But right now, I want to share what awaited me when I got home this evening. (Be warned, this is a little gross.)

First, there was this in the kitchen…

…apparently caused by this blunt object…

…which landed on this little tootsie…

Apparently Pixie went into the pantry while no one was looking and grabbed a can of ice tea which she immediately dropped on her foot, rim first. While she screamed bloody murder, Princess ran and found the Hubster, who then spent several minutes chasing after a shrieking Pixie, then calming and staunching the flow of blood. She ran pretty far, so there was blood all over the kitchen floor, the living room carpet, and the love seat, the stairs and the kids bathroom. Hubster was wet vaccuuming the carpet and love seat when I got home. Princess gave me all the gory details… several times in a row.

It doesn’t look like any permanent damage was done. Pixie was running around on it only a short while later. But we’ll probably spend tomorrow at the doctor’s office and I have no idea when I’ll be able to get a shoe on that foot.

But anyway, I’m glad to be home, bloody sweet home, and I owe the Hubster so frikkin’ much for letting me take this weekend off that it’s not eve funny. Hope everyone made it home safe from Balticon, and had slightly less bloody surprises waiting for them when they walked in the door.

My Husband, My Hero

My in-laws have a series of plaques hanging in their dining room. Each plaque is painted with a cartoon of family member done up as a saint. There’s Saint Jerry, patron saint of husbands and protector of wives and children; Saint Carmen, patron saint of housekeeping and child-rearing; and then there’s one for each of the five boys in the family.

My husband, the oldest son, has a plaque that says “Saint Michael, the Magnificent.” Sometimes, I find this epiteph absolutely hysterical. Like whenever I have to get up in the middle of the night and I trip over the shoes he’s left in a huge pile all over the bedroom floor. And why am I getting up in the middle of the night? Because one of the kids is screaming for us, but Saint Michael the Magnificent suffers tragically from nocturnal deafness, meaning he doesn’t hear a damn thing once his head hits the pillow. He also suffers from “I’ll-get-to-it-itus,” a debilitating disease which causes him to forget to do things like clear the kitchen table or vacuum the floor or get the kids to pick up after themselves. These are all chores I normally do, but on nights when I take karate class, he’s supposed to do them. Yet I always come home to find toys strewn everywhere, dirty dishes still on the table, and our youngest daughter’s dinner scattered all over the dining room carpet. When I ask Saint Michael the Magnificent when he plans to get to these things, he always answers, “I’ll get to it,” which in our house translates as “I’m going to forget all about these chores and leave them until **you** do them dear, because my giant brain is just so busy with other things!”

And speaking of giant brains, Michael does have one of the biggest. That man has not one but two degrees in aerospace engineering. He makes his living programming flight simulators for commercial aircraft. He’s fluent in C++, Fortran, Java and fifty other computer languages I know nothing about. He reads physics books… for fun. He can explain at length the difference is between gravity and gravitation, and has done so many times at the dinner table but my brain is a little too small to handle that conversation. His hobbies include building computers and fixing bug-riddled software, and he has become so intimate with our computers that I sometimes think I ought to sew a few microprocessors into my lingerie so I can get his attention. He is, in short, a geek god.

This is not a bad thing though. In fact, yesterday it turned out to be a very good thing. One of our neighbors passed away unexpectedly this week. I stopped by to visit his wife and see how she was doing. Her family showed up right away to help with the funeral arrangements and make sure she was taken care of, but there was one problem no one could figure out — how to get into the husband’s computer to pay the bills. The widow had never been involved in handling the household finances. She only knew that her husband had everything set up on the computer and she didn’t know the password to get to the info she needed. She was looking at paying someone $85 an hour to hack into the system. I told her to wait; I was pretty certain I knew someone trustworthy who could do the job for free. I called Michael immediately.

“I need you to be a hero for someone,” I said.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Mr. Smith died, and Mrs. Smith can’t get into his computer to pay the bills. Can you help?”

After a moment of silence, he said, “Maybe. It depends on a few things.”

“Can I tell Mrs. Smith when you’re coming over?”

“Yeah, about five thirty. I need to research a few things first.”

Michael came home around five, went up to his computer and started printing some documents and burning DVDs. “I want to go over there with a full tool set and all the latest info,” he explained. He left the house shortly after that, papers and DVDs tucked under his arms. I sat down with the kids and prepared to wait. Some computer problems could take hours to fix, I knew.

Michael was home ten minutes later. “Problem solved,” he said. “The operating system had a backdoor. Mrs. Smith can get to all the files now. I told her if she needs anything else, just give a call.”

Michael went off to karate class an hour later. Mrs. Smith called while he was out. “I just wanted to tell you, that was the nicest thing anyone has done for me all week. Tell your husband I am so grateful!”

Her thanks made me want to cry. Not because of what Michael did for Mrs. Smith. A lot of others would have been just as willing to help out in the same situation, and a lot of people in our neighborhood probably will help Mrs. Smith over the course of the next few weeks. It’s just that kind of neighborhood. But it made me realize that I will never ever find myself in the situation Mrs. Smith found herself in this week. My geek god husband, he of the gigantic brain, the man who suffers from “I’ll-get-to-it-itus” has already made plans for when he dies. He’s not planning on dying anytime soon, mind you. But he knows accidents can happen, the unexpected can occur any day, and he’s got a wife and two kids to take care of, whether he’s around or not.

The man who cannot remember to clear the dirty dishes off the dining room table is the same man who made certain we both have powers-of-attorney and trusts written up. The man who leaves his shoes all over the bedroom for me to trip over is also the man who created a password reset disk for me and stored it in a safe so it’s there if I ever need to get into his computer to pay the bills, I can, and there will be enough money in the accounts to handle the bills for at least a couple months. The man who cannot hear his five-year-old daughter howling for a glass of water in the middle of the night has made damn certain that neither his kids or his wife is ever going to want for anything should the worst happen and he not be there to take care of them himself.

I could go on and on about the things Michael has done to take care of this family — the weekends he stayed home and taken care of the kids without complaint so that I could run off to the library and work; the 3AM computer glitches he crawled out of bed to fix so that I could write that oh-so-important story or record that really important podcast; the poopy diapers he changed; the late nights he spent rocking a colicky baby; etc., etc. He has always come through when I need him, and he always will. So what if he can’t pick up his socks and put them in the hamper, and he rattles on endlessly about the finer points of physics to a woman who’s biggest mental challenge is how to get her two-year-old to poop in the potty? He takes care of the important things. He takes care of his family. He helps his neighbors and friends when they need it.

He is, in short, Saint Michael the Magnificent. He’s my hero, and I’m damned glad he’s my husband.

The Husband Dilemma

On the one hand, Michael did take the kids for most of yesterday so I could sneak off to the library for work.

But on the other hand, the house was destroyed when I got home.

But on the one hand, I did get some much needed work done, and he had the kids for four hours while I was gone and another three after I got back.

But on the other hand, it’s really, really hard to get ground in Play-doh out of the carpet.

But on the one hand, he also fixed dinner.

But on the other hand, he destroyed my kitchen in the process.

But on the one hand, it only took twenty minutes to clean up.

But on the other hand, I had already cleaned it twice yesterday, both times thanks to him and the kids.

But on the one hand, he made this really delicious Puerto Rican dish that I loved but can’t pronounce.

But on the other hand, he deep fried that dish… in a shallow pan. No matter how much I mop the kitchen, it still looks like the Exxon Valdez ran aground on our linoleum.

But on the one hand, he didn’t even complain that I came down to dinner an hour late.

But on the other hand, that dish was so deep fried I think I may drop dead of a heart attack at any moment. Does he want to kill me?!

But on the one hand, he did set up my BowFlex in the garage, so I can work out and be healthy.

But on the other hand, maybe he’s trying to tell me I’m fat and flabby…

But on the one hand, he did buy the first season of Heroes on DVD so we could watch it together.

But on the other hand, he KNOWS I need to get up at 5:30 AM, so why did he buy something that was so damned addicting to watch and yet can’t be viewed while the kiddies are up? I’m dragging today!

I dunno. Should I kill him, or jump his bones for joy? Both maybe? But in what order?

Husbands… Feh!

A Non-fan’s Review of a Bruce Springsteen Concert

I went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert last night at the Richmond Coliseum in Virginia. Let me state up front that I am not a raging Bruce Springsteen fan. That would be my darling husband, he who bought the tickets and still has the t-shirt he got from a Bruce Springsteen concert TWENTY YEARS AGO. Oy. Anyway, here are my reviews of ‘the Boss’ in concert.

First, the short review:

IT WAS VERY, VERY LOUD!!

Now the long review:

Okay, so we had just gotten back from a trip to Pennsylvania to see my cousin’s daughter get married. Honestly, I need to get up there more often, and it’s a shame I don’t because my aunt Adele is like the sweetest person in the world and she always has something ready for folks to eat whenever they come over, although we stayed in a hotel, not at her house, so we didn’t get to gnosh like we would have had we actually been the–

What? Oh right, the concert. So anyway, we got back from Pennsylvania the night before, and that was a nine-hour drive with two screaming kids in the back seat, and both Michael and I were sick with some sort of weird flu bug (yes, I know, you want to hear about the concert. Hold your horses, I’m telling a story here!) that had us hacking up our lungs like a couple of old geezers, and we didn’t get home until after 10 PM. So we were not in the best shape the next morning when we got up, and we just draaaaaaaaagged through the day until the babysitter showed up and it was time for us to leave. Now, the Richmond Coliseum is about an hour away from where we live, so that meant another road trip (joy) after the one we’d done the day before. Fortunately, we had a babysitter for the evening, which meant NO SCREAMING KIDS in the back seat. Even more fortunately, this was only an hour drive, which was good because Michael wanted to play Bruce Springsteen all the way to the concert and I did not because hey, weren’t we going to be hearing this guy in a few hours anyway? But Michael insisted so I pulled out my iPod and listened to Phil Rossi’s “Notes from the Vault” which is an awesome collection of horror stories and quite frankly Phil Rossi could read a grocery list and I’d get goose bumps. Seriously!

So where was I? Oh yeah, the Bruce Springsteen concert. Anyway, we got to Richmond and found a place to park that didn’t cost us an arm and a leg and yet still looked like we would find our car with all four wheels still attached when the concert was over. We parked and walked over the Richmond Coliseum and saw lots of people with wrist bands on milling around the place. The wrist bands apparently meant you had bought a seat on the floor. Only there were no seats on the floor. I know this for a hard cold fact, because that’s what Michael bought us — two not-seats on the floor, for the bargain price of $99 a ticket, not including those ridiculous fees that darling hubby got charged for the **convenience** of buying our tickets online. The **convenience** of buying online? What kind of assbackward idea is that? Of course it’s more convenient to buy online! Who the hell would want to stand inline for hours on end to buy a ticket from some snot-nosed rude little punk at the cashier’s window when they could simply buy the damn thing online? And yet, because we’re smart enough to buy online, we’re going to be charged **extra**? Have these people not heard of Amazon or iTunes or the rest of the frikkin’ digital age? Sheesh!

So anyway, if you had a grey armband, you paid for the privilege of standing for three hours on a hard cement floor while listening to ‘the Boss’ and his band play. And if you had a pink armband, that meant you were dumb enough to show up five or six hours earlier to stand in line so you could stand for another three hours even closer to ‘the Boss’ on the same hard cement floor. Thank god the babysitter couldn’t show up until 4PM at our place, ’cause if Michael had insisted on showing up that early to get a pink band, you’d be reading his obituary instead of this really cool review.

Which has not even gotten to the actual concert yet. I know. But I want you to fully understand what I went through last night, and if I had to suffer through all that crap, so do you. Okay, where were we?

Oh yeah, the concert. So anyway, even though we had floor non-seats, we had apparently arrived too late to get our grey wristbands, so we just sashayed over to the nearest door that did not have a line a mile long in front of it and there we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And then a couple of people who were definitely not anybody important showed up and pushed their way to the front of the line that had formed behind us and tapped on the door and some jack-ass inside let them in, and man, you could feel the air conditioning coming out of that place, but WE who were also not important but apparently didn’t know the secret knock on the door, could not get in so we just had to stand outside and make faces at the jerks who got in ahead of us and stood there ignoring us while they enjoyed the AC.

And then one of those jerks, a woman, came in and out a few times to smoke a cigarette right in front of us and oh that was precious. Look, a bottled blonde who’s so addicted to nicotine she has to come outside every fifteen minutes to blow smoke in our faces. Or up our asses. Or whichever direction the wind blew.

And this went on for half an hour until some of the event staff came out and everybody cheered. Only the event staff didn’t come out to let us in. No, they came out to hand out grey wristbands to those poor fools who had paid $99 for a non-seat on the floor. Oh wait, that was us. Yea, I got a wristband. It was grey. How lovely. And then the event staff went back inside and locked the doors again, except to keep letting out that stupid bottled blonde who just had to have another half a cigarette every five minutes. Geez! Not even a whole cigarette, just half a cigarette and she left the rest of it smeared on the pavement!

After another half hour of waiting, just about the time when the mob behind us started getting really ugly and talking about things like breaking down the doors and crushing everybody in front of them (like me and Michael), the event staff opened up the doors and let everybody come screaming in. Michael and I hurried inside and found our way to the non-seats on the floor and discovered that we would be spending the rest of the evening lined up behind enough people to fill a small country in Eastern Europe. And all these people were taller than us. And that meant we couldn’t even see the frikkin’ stage. So it was a good thing that there were these HUMONGOUS TV screens overhead, because otherwise we would never have seen the concert.

And Michael paid $99 a person for those tickets.

Yeah.

So anyway. We found an unoccupied spot on the floor and Michael claimed it and I went back out to find a potty (and yes, I call it a **potty** — I have two kids five and under and we’re still dealing with potty training so that’s what we call it, now go soak your head) and something to eat because we left for the concert at 4 PMish and it was now going on 7 PM and I was hungry. And while getting into the potty was no big deal — the Richmond Coliseum actually has enough stalls to deal with a mob of women all doing the potty dance — finding food was not so easy. Everything offered for consumption had a huge line going out the doors, except for…

Pretzels and Dippin’ Dots. And since I cannot eat Dippin’ Dots for religious reasons (and no, I will not explain that because if I did, we’d never get around to talking about the actual concert) I bought two pretzels and two bottles of water. The price was actually half-way decent, but for some odd reason (religious perhaps) the cashier would not let me have the tops to the water bottles. So I had to veeeeeery carefully pick my way back down to our spot on the floor without spilling two open bottles of water, which made me realize that it was not for religious reasons that they had kept the bottle tops; it was a marketing plan. Because if I dropped my water bottles, I had to go back and buy new ones. Very sneaky.

Anyway, I got back to our spot and Michael took off for the potty (yeah, he calls it a potty too), and then he came back and we ate our pretzels and drank our water and we…

Waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Apparently the concert was supposed to start at 7:30 PM. Not. 7:30 came and went and there was no sign of life on the stage, or at least I think there wasn’t any, because you know we couldn’t actually see the stage from our non-seats. So we kept waiting and the floor kept filling up and slooooooooowly the actual seats started to fill up. Then around 8PM I heard a guitar riff and a wild roar went up from the audience and I jumped up and down with everybody else struggling to see the stage and guess what?

I saw a roadie tuning a guitar.

And this happened about eight or nine million times. Some guy would come out, fiddle with one of the guitars, the crowd would go into a feeding frenzy, and then the guy would leave the stage.

After about two million years of waiting, I decided to make another break for the potty. I got in and out in under five minutes, which made me think that if I could move that quickly, why couldn’t Bruce? But just as I was thinking that, guess what happened?

Yep. Another roadie tuned a guitar.

Eventually, the crowd got so big I could pick up both my feet and not fall down. We were wedged that tight. And wouldn’t you know it, some jackass still found a way to shove himself through the crowd to stand right in front of us. Not “right at the very front of the part of the pit where if you only got a grey wristband but not a special pink one that was as close as you were allowed to get to Bruce,” but right there in front of us. He was big, and he was religious, and he kept making jokes about “wouldn’t it be great if he held up a sign about some weird Bible verse,” and wouldn’t you know it he brought his PARENTS with him and so he shoved around some more until he made enough room for them to stand in front of us too! Wasn’t that special. Oh, but what really made it all special was that he ended up standing right next to me and that was when I discovered that I had a new, least favorite smell and it was…

Big guy who shoves people around and smells like rotting baloney.

Oh. My. God. The odor was just strong enough that if I turned my head in this guy’s direction, I could catch a nasty whiff, but not strong enough to make me vomit on the spot which actually would have been good because maybe then this jackass would have moved someplace else! But no, the best I could do was turn my head away and ask Michael (who has NO sense of smell) to switch places with me So I turned my head turned away from him, only just as I was about to do that someone cut the lights, and I thought, “Oh my god!! We’re all gonna die, packed like rats in this place!”

And yep, there was a bit of crowd surge as finally, FINALLY, the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, FINALLY showed up on stage.

And I would love to describe what the music was like at this point, but after the first opening chord, I was stone deaf and bleeding from both ears.

My GOD it was loud. Bruce came in and he hit hard. I mean, that music just felt like a fist to the face, and it drove me right back into Rotting Baloney Guy. Eeeeeew. And this went on for about 20 minutes straight. I can’t decide if it was just one really long song or a bunch of songs run together. The Boss just kept hammering at that guitar, and then Clarence Clemmens (or was it Clarence Thomas? I always get those two confused) kept screeching on his saxophone and some chick with big blonde hair kept shaking her maracas like there was no tomorrow, and Bruce had not one but TWO skinny bald guys on either end of the stage playing piano and keyboard, and those guys sort of reminded me of George Hrab, who is an excellent musician and songwriter and has never made my ears bleed, and you know what? I’d pay $99 for a seat, or maybe even for a non-seat, to see George Hrab (and Phil Rossi too for that matter) because I know I’d enjoy that show. But then just as I was thinking about how awesome a combined George Hrab/Phil Rossi concert would be, Bruce started doing high kicks!

Oh my god, no Bruce, don’t do it! Don’t kick! It was terrible! It was like watching my dad trying to stomp on a possum that got into his barn and ate all the horse feed. It was like watching George Bush trying to be funny! It was painful, it was agony, he’ll never make it into the Rockettes so my god why does he keep kicking, and oh my lord did the Rotting Baloney Guy just FART?! Oh! It’s disgusting, my eyes! My nose! My ears!! Why is Bruce Springsteen trying to beat the audience to death with his music?! Oh the humanity…

But. BUT! After the first twenty minutes of all of this torture, Mr. Springsteen actually did something that I thought was rather cool.

He stopped.

And took requests.

Yep. He waded into the audience (well not actually into them, more like above them on a catwalk, and I don’t blame him because quite frankly I think those people would have eaten him alive) and picked signs from people, and each sign had a request for a song on it, usually accompanied either by the reason why that person wanted to hear that song or some weird freaky decoration to get the Boss-man’s attention. And after picking up a bunch of signs and chatting with the audience (and he really was kind of funny when he was chatting, I have to admit), he picked the first song from the pile of signs he collected, set it up in front of his mic stand, and he and his band played that song.

And it was the first song I heard that night that I actually liked, and I will probably go out and buy it if my Springsteen-obsessed husband doesn’t already own it. It was called Stand On It, and it was a really good rock-a-billy song that I could have danced to if I had had room to dance. As it was, I was still squashed up against Rotting Baloney Guy and I didn’t even have room to breath.

And so the concert went. It was a lively show, and I heard some stuff I liked and the Boss did give a very enthusiastic performance (but my god, those flat-footed high kicks! **shudder**) and the crowd absolutely loved him, and I did manage to save some of my hearing by pressing my left ear against Michael’s shoulder. I would have taken turns with my ears, putting the left one down for a song and then the right one, but anytime I put the right one down on Michael’s shoulder, I caught another whiff of Rotting Baloney Guy and that sort of killed that idea so now you know why I’m completely deaf in my right ear.

Oh, and Rotting Baloney Guy farted at least six times during the concert and I think it’s a wonder that you aren’t all reading about how everyone who attended the Bruce Springsteen concert in Richmond last night died from asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning or something. Really, something crawled up inside this guy’s ass and died. But not before making a nest under his armpits, which I saw every time he raised his arms as he sang along with Bruce. Ugh.

The show lasted three hours, and by the time it was over, including the encore which was a really rollicking version of “Twist and Shout”, it was closing in on midnight. We got out of the coliseum pretty quickly, found our car with all four tires still attached, and headed home. Miracle of miracles, we did not spend hours in traffic waiting to get onto the interstate. Someone was smart enough to bring out the traffic cops to direct the exodus and so we managed to make it home by 1:30AM to wake up the babysitter and send her home.

So, in conclusion, I spent a lot of time on my feet in overpriced non-seats standing next to a guy who smelled like rotting baloney and farted a lot. And if you see me yelling at my kids this week, it’s because I AM STILL DEAF from the horrendously loud but otherwise enjoyable music. It was a good show, even for a non-fan in a non-seat, and I would do it again but only if my husband pays for real seats and I have ear plugs and nose plugs for the concert.

The End.

15 Years and Still Going Strong

I’m all off schedule today. I’m supposed to get up at the ungodly hour of 5:45 AM so I can work on the podcast and get other odds and ends done, but I stayed up late to work on Lydia’s obituary/eulogy and then Cassie came running into the bedroom around 2 AM and when I woke up I realized, “Hey! It’s my anniversary! Let’s sleep late and snuggle with the husband.” And you just know where that led…

So I’ve been running late all day, but I’m not too upset about it. I had quality time with my husband (and yes, I’m going to stick with that euphemism — if you want something more explicit, see my erotica website you pervert!); I managed to make it to the Y and got in 14 laps in the pool before the kiddies’ swim classes chased me out; I packed a picnic lunch and got the girls out to a play date; and I got to have a real conversation with another adult about kids, husbands, and my current allergic reaction to my kids’ hypoallergenic sunscreen lotion. Yergh.

I have no great plans for today beyond doing some writing before I quit work for the day. My romantic plans were taken care of this morning during ‘quality time’ and my present to Michael won’t show up yet for another couple of days. He’s getting the Legos Indiana Jones game. Cassie already told him what he was getting when we gave him his birthday present earlier last week. Then she told me what I was getting from Michael today – a big brown box. That’s Michael’s idea of a joke. He learned from my mistake and so all Cassie’s gotten to see of my present it the box it came in. Nyah!

I will go to karate class tonight, even though I don’t feel like it, because I missed class on Tuesday. That was the day I had that allergic reaction to the sunscreen. I broke out in these really horrible, itchy red welts and decided that if I didn’t take some Benadryl, I’d probably scratch myself to death. I had this screwy idea that if I took the Benadryl early enough, I’d get past the sleep inducing effect of the drug in time to go to karate class. No such luck. I was out like a light by 6:30 PM that night and didn’t wake up until around 5:30 AM the next morning. And I was STILL TIRED! And itchy.

So nothing big going on here. Maybe something big on Saturday. Michael has tickets to see Billy Joel in concert. He’s taking me, of course. If not, you’ll read his obituary on Sunday.

Now I’m off to work. I have to churn out 500 words of BDSM chick lit before I can say I’m done for the day. What a goal!

So I Fell Off The Blogosphere…

I’m not even sure if I’ll get this entry written and posted, but I’ve been gone for more than two months, and I thought I should explain.
Hell with that. Explaining takes too long. Let me sum up.
My folks visited for the week of Halloween. Cassie refused to wear the Hermione Granger costume Grandma bought. Sam refused to wear anything.

I’ve been working like crazy on my podcast, Heat Flash. Several of the stories have shown up on the ERWA’s story galleries, so I know the writing is good. I wonder if the podcast is good too.
Sam, Cassie and I keep giving each other some sort of near-lethal upper-respiratory infection. I’m on antibiotics right now, and am so fed up with being sick I’m just blowing off the whole week. I’m doing the work I have to do, but have opted to skip going to karate and the gym and doing anything else. Did I mention that I have a pinched nerve in my neck as well?

I’ve decided getting up at 4AM in the morning is not feasible at this time. Yeah, I get a lot of work done, but it’s almost like being in an entirely different time zone from the rest of the family. Nobody else wakes up that early, and nobody else goes to bed as early as I need to in order to get up the next morning. So I haven’t been seeing Michael at all. Plus, with being sick so much, I’ve gotten out of the habit. I’m resetting my clock for a more reasonable time, still letting me get up early enough to work on the podcast before the kids wake up, but not so early that I might as well be in Englad, you know?

Michael cleaned the office over the garage, which means there’s now room enough for both of us in there. It looks very nice, and I am actually considering moving back in. The biggest problem I have with it though is that my computer in there runs on Windows 2000, and some of my software doesn’t work on an OS that old. So I need to update my OS. Plus, that computer doesn’t have a DVD drive, which means it can’t read any of the disks I’ve stored all my old files on. Michael is toying with the idea of building me a new computer. He bought a $100 case for $10 the other night. I only hope he doesn’t junk up the office again in the process. That would kind of defeat the purpose, you see.

Sam is running, playing, laughing, giggling, and dancing all the time. She climbs on everything, including the coffee table, and gets into everything, like Michael’s papers in the roll top desk. The roll top broke, with the top half disappearing into the back of the desk. We keep the bottom half down, but Sam has figured out how to pull out the chair, climb onto it, and reach over the remaining roll top to get Michael’s papers. Not good. Kid’s too damn clever for her own good.

Cassie is growing like a weed. In fact, I’d almost say she’s freakishly tall. She’s doing pretty good in preschool, and in karate class too. She keeps begging me to get her sparring gear so she can join the Power Kids class. So guess what she’s getting for Christmas? Don’t tell her though. I’m having a hard time imagining my freakishly tall four-year-old sparring with the older kids. My baby’s growing up so fast!

John turned 40 the other day. Ha ha! You’re older than dirt John! I just had to say that.

And I’ve got a ton of work to do. E-book covers, podcasting, stories to write, a book to outline, an image to finish up for a contest. Baby is screaming right now, so I’ll wrap this up.

Hope I don’t fall off the blogosphere again.

My Trip To Hell

Just a quick update to let folks know what’s going on. We’ve had a slight change of venue since my last post. On Sunday evening, Michael, Cassie, Sam and I arrived in Hell. Well, it may not be Hell for **them** but it’s definitely Hell for ME. For the curious, Hell looks a lot like the Hilton Head Marriott Resort in South Carolina. To get here, we had to make a NINE-HOUR CAR TRIP, during which Sam decided to practice her scream-, er, singing skills. She sings very loudly, and several cars pulled off the road ahead of us, thus facilitating our entry in Hell that much more quickly (and yet the trip still seemed to last an eternity; what a paradox!).

We arrived late Sunday evening. I must admit, the scenery in Hell is lovely, but the conditions of my being here are sucky. I am not here because of any sin **I** committed. No, I’m here because I married a geek. Okay, maybe that is sin. Any way, Michael is attending a never-ending geek-fest on aeronautical modeling and simulation. Meanwhile, I am stuck in a hotel room with the kids. Since yesterday afternoon, Sam has running a fever of 103+. She was up all Sunday night and up all last night screaming. She’s also been screaming a lot during the day. When Sam’s not been screaming, she’s been actively trying to dismantle the room (I believe she has a future as a rock star). Cassie has been well-behaved, but is chomping at the bit to go to the lower pits of Hell (i.e. the beach) so she can drown herself in the surf while Sam screams about the sand (to which she is apparently violently allergic).

Meanwhile, I want a shower (to wash away the sands of Hell which have become stuck in my nether-regions), but I can’t seem to get one without some disaster occurring while I’ve got shampoo in my hair. I’d also kill for a decent cup of coffee, but we all know that there is no good coffee in Hell (that’s why it’s called HELL, right). There is this brown-colored urine the locals call coffee, but it is still actually urine.

While the coffee sucks big time, the food is slightly better. Not because we’re eating at any of Hell’s fancy restaurants, but because Michael has thoughtfully stocked our hotel room with goodies from the local Piggley Wiggley (yes, there are Piggley Wiggley’s in Hell). So while Michael enjoy-, er, endures the string of luncheons and receptions hosted by his geek-fest, the kids and I are surviving on PBJs, bananas, and microwaveable soup (we brought our own microwave just for this purpose).

I had had hopes for wireless internet connection during our stay, but broadband in Hell costs $10 a day and we can only afford one day, so this is it. Not a huge loss though, as I’ve had dial-up that runs faster than Hell’s broadband. In any event, you won’t hear from me again until I manage to escape, a feat of daring which involves making another NINE-HOUR CAR DRIVE back through South Carolina, North Carolina, and part of Virginia. Hopefully this will happen on Monday. Oh, did I mention Sam hates car trips? Pray for me.

Of course, my current trials are nothing. Michael’s geek-fest is an annual thing, and next year it’s being held in a different part of Hell known as Hawaii. Getting there involves a NINE-HOUR trip on a plane. Michael says we’re going. I say only he’s going… In a shoe box.

Signing off now. See you in a week.

Maybe.

If I ever get out of Hell.

My Trip To Hell

Just a quick update to let folks know what’s going on. We’ve had a slight change of venue since my last post. On Sunday evening, Michael, Cassie, Sam and I arrived in Hell. Well, it may not be Hell for **them** but it’s definitely Hell for ME. For the curious, Hell looks a lot like the Hilton Head Marriott Resort in South Carolina. To get here, we had to make a NINE-HOUR CAR TRIP, during which Sam decided to practice her scream-, er, singing skills. She sings very loudly, and several cars pulled off the road ahead of us, thus facilitating our entry in Hell that much more quickly (and yet the trip still seemed to last an eternity; what a paradox!).

We arrived late Sunday evening. I must admit, the scenery in Hell is lovely, but the conditions of my being here are sucky. I am not here because of any sin **I** committed. No, I’m here because I married a geek. Okay, maybe that is sin. Any way, Michael is attending a never-ending geek-fest on aeronautical modeling and simulation. Meanwhile, I am stuck in a hotel room with the kids. Since yesterday afternoon, Sam has running a fever of 103+. She was up all Sunday night and up all last night screaming. She’s also been screaming a lot during the day. When Sam’s not been screaming, she’s been actively trying to dismantle the room (I believe she has a future as a rock star). Cassie has been well-behaved, but is chomping at the bit to go to the lower pits of Hell (i.e. the beach) so she can drown herself in the surf while Sam screams about the sand (to which she is apparently violently allergic).

Meanwhile, I want a shower (to wash away the sands of Hell which have become stuck in my nether-regions), but I can’t seem to get one without some disaster occurring while I’ve got shampoo in my hair. I’d also kill for a decent cup of coffee, but we all know that there is no good coffee in Hell (that’s why it’s called HELL, right). There is this brown-colored urine the locals call coffee, but it is still actually urine.

While the coffee sucks big time, the food is slightly better. Not because we’re eating at any of Hell’s fancy restaurants, but because Michael has thoughtfully stocked our hotel room with goodies from the local Piggley Wiggley (yes, there are Piggley Wiggley’s in Hell). So while Michael enjoy-, er, endures the string of luncheons and receptions hosted by his geek-fest, the kids and I are surviving on PBJs, bananas, and microwaveable soup (we brought our own microwave just for this purpose).

I had had hopes for wireless internet connection during our stay, but broadband in Hell costs $10 a day and we can only afford one day, so this is it. Not a huge loss though, as I’ve had dial-up that runs faster than Hell’s broadband. In any event, you won’t hear from me again until I manage to escape, a feat of daring which involves making another NINE-HOUR CAR DRIVE back through South Carolina, North Carolina, and part of Virginia. Hopefully this will happen on Monday. Oh, did I mention Sam hates car trips? Pray for me.

Of course, my current trials are nothing. Michael’s geek-fest is an annual thing, and next year it’s being held in a different part of Hell known as Hawaii. Getting there involves a NINE-HOUR trip on a plane. Michael says we’re going. I say only he’s going… In a shoe box.

Signing off now. See you in a week.

Maybe.

If I ever get out of Hell.