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I am NOT Afraid to Say: I LOVE JUDGE JUDY!

In the olden days – before the prevalence of salacious celebrity gossip readily available on the internet – I would occasionally purchase a National Enquirer. I would place it cover-side-down on the grocery conveyer and strategically put items on top of it to hide it from my husband.

God I love this crap.

God I love this crap.

Inevitably, the grocery store clerk would ring it up, but then glance at it making comments to me about what was on the cover. These comments would alert my husband to an opportunity to make fun of me (which, by law, he must do…) and my purchase. My carefully planned covert purchase would be blown, and I would have to endure his mocking.

This is the same feeling I get when I tell people that I love Judge Judy and some of the other reality court TV shows. I absolutely LOVE those shows!! They are filled with losers who bring unbelievably stupid lawsuits – and then the judges get to call them idiots for bringing the lawsuits. Then there are the lawsuits against jerks who are trying to scam other people – and the judges get to call them idiots. There are lawsuits where roommates don’t pay their rent, dogs bite other dogs, people hit cars and don’t want to pay for the damages, borrowed money that never gets paid back, and bail that people insist other people gave them “just because”.

Some of my favorite people (to despise) are the ones who defend their juvenile delinquents. They enable their spawn to wreak havoc in their neighborhoods by not properly supervising them – and after the little creeps get caught – the parents deny that their kids ever do anything wrong. Judge Judy calls the parents out on their ignorant child-rearing and makes them look like morons – and the crappy parents – they really are. It makes me smile. She says all the things I would like to say to those people if I could. There is something strangely cathartic about watching her dress-down stupid people. Dressing down stupid people would actually be my dream job. If it paid well. judge

So when I start to get frustrated by idiot drivers, parents who yell at their small children, people who have handicap permits because they are obese, and republicans – I think: What would Judge Judy say?

And then I smile to myself and return to


Time For My Yearly Martha Stewart Rant

Last December I shared my “I Hate Martha” story that I wrote in 1996.

So, in keeping with tradition, I thought I would I would bitch about Martha again this December.  Nothing says MERRY CHRISTMAS (to me) like bashing Martha.  Some of you may say that I’m just jealous.  Really???  What’s there to be jealous of  – except for the money, fame, adulation, gorgeous properties and furnishings, famous friends, and the ability to make EVERYONE in the world feel inferior??  Ok, maybe I am a little bit impressed with Martha and her empire – but it’s much more entertaining to hate on her. 

I used to adore Martha. I really did! I loved her ability to decorate, arrange flowers, label things, and – most importantly – make homemade graham crackers. I tried to emulate her because I wanted to be “perfect” like her. The problem is, after failing at being “Martha-Perfect” many, many, MANY times – I became discouraged. She made it look so effortless – so easy!! Why was I having such a difficult time doing things that looked so easy to Martha!? I decided to do a little behind-the-scenes research on Martha. What I found out was both disturbing – AND enlightening.

First off, Martha has a staff of hundreds of capable people who do her bidding. I, on the other hand, have no people doing my bidding. I actually have 4 large adults who passive-aggressively work against me as I try to make my home more Martha-like. Me: “Hey! I just organized our pantry in alphabetical order and labeled everything so it all has its place. Doesn’t it look great?” Four Large Adults: “I don’t know. I really feel like we should re-arrange it based upon color. But if we do that, should it be arranged by the color of the outside of the can – or what is inside of the container. And, if we do it by the color of what is inside of the container – that means that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese should go right next to the Cap ’N Crunch cereal which should go right next to the Cheetos.” Me: “I hate you.” Four Large Adults: “Just trying to help, Mom.”

This is NOT my pantry.  I know because of the absence of Cap N' Crunch and Cheetos.

This is NOT my pantry. I know because of the absence of Cap N’ Crunch and Cheetos.

Next, Martha only sleeps a couple of hours every night. I would like to be able to survive on 2 hours of sleep every night, but I need more rest – or the next day people would take one look at my zombie-like eyes and run away in horror. A person can get a lot more done in a day if they have 22 hours of productive time verses 16. Additionally, I am forced to play my Facebook games for an a couple of hours or so or I get crabby. That takes away another couple of hours of productive time. Then I have an actual JOB. Unlike Martha, my job is NOT BEING MARTHA, so that is another 8 hours of time away from being fabulous. Then I have to cook, clean and have marital relations with my husband. Martha probably orders take-out Chinese every night – and has scared away every man within 250 miles of the internet. AND – and this is the kicker – her daughter said – and I quote: “Martha always says she changes her sheets every day. But what she really means is that she has her sheets changed every day.” That is a HUGE difference in semantics. Martha was lying through omission. SHE DOESN’T change her sheets. Her minions change her sheets. Big difference. Huge.

Then, why is there the REAL pronunciation of words – and MARTHA’S way of pronouncing words? Why Herb, Martha? Why? I realize that Brits say HERB, but like Madonna – you are not British! Embrace your American-ness and give it a rest. It’s (H)ERB, Martha! (H)ERB!! (H)ERB!! (H)ERB!! I want to hit you over the head with a big bouquet of (H)ERBS!!!! Also, if you would have had your grandmother as your first grade teacher – and gone to the school where your Mother taught at when you were in second grade – you would have been taught that when pronouncing words, the rule is: THE SILENT “E” MAKES THE VOWEL SAY IT’S NAME. Like in the instance of Marinade. It should be pronounced: Mare-in-ADE (the silent “E” at the end makes the “A” say it’s name.) To top this weird phenomenon off – Martha actually realizes that she is not saying the word MARINADE correctly because in the next sentence she said she was MAR-IN-AAAAA-DING the chicken. Not mar-in-NODDING the chicken. MARTHA: Do you really need to change the pronunciation to mar-uh-nahd just to make yourself more unique? More extraordinary? More superior? Martha, I want you to know that you are all those things and more – without having to make up super-special ways to pronounce words. I mean WTF? Who else in the world makes homemade candy corn?? REALLY??

Because Candy Corn is one of those things that is worth spending inordinate amounts of time to improve upon.  Not.

Because Candy Corn is one of those things that is worth spending inordinate amounts of time to improve upon. Not.

So, as I bring in the year 2014, I wanted to give Martha her yearly due. My subdued admiration – and controlled disdain of all she does is a juxtaposition – but so is she. A beautiful accomplished hot mess.

What am I saying?? I just described myself. Maybe I have become Martha after all.



Really?  Is there ANYONE LEFT on the planet NOT blowing leaves right now??

Really? Is there ANYONE LEFT on the planet NOT blowing leaves right now??

I work, therefore I am forced to get up in a timely manner and go to the office Monday thru Friday.  However, on Saturday and Sunday, I absolutely love to sleep in.  I am even taking the risk (of going to hell) by not going to church every Sunday so I can sleep in.  My neighbors across the street had early Saturday lawn service  – and the first time I was awakened by the leaf blowers –  I just opened my curtains and stood there staring at them ala “Carrie” hoping they would become alarmed and stop.  They did not.  But, I do think they were semi-amused at the lunatic woman in the Hello-Kitty nightie staring at them covered in pigs blood.  (Just kidding!  It was cow’s blood.)  The next day I went over to their house and nicely asked my neighbor  to change their lawn day to a weekday – which they nicely did.

No leaf blowers.  People did not call me before 10am and after 10pm.  I got good solid rest.  For a few years.

Then my children got to be young adults with questionable decision-making skills.  And my parents and in-laws got to be eccentric idiots charming old people.  Sleep did not come as easily to me as it once did.  If the phone rang too early in the morning or too late at night, I answered the phone with a franatic:  “WHO DIED??”  Usually it was my mom: “Oh crap.  What time is it?  I woke you up didn’t I??”  (Too early call.) Or my kids: “Hey mom.  I lost my keys.”  (Too late call.)  These types of calls have tapered off a bit since my children have become a bit more responsible – and my parent’s and in-laws have smartphones that they are not smart enough to use.  I still jump when the phone rings at weird hours, but it happens less often.

Now my sleep issues have to do with what is going on with my menopausal body.  Women complaining about hot flashes have boringly over-shared on blogs for quite some time so I won’t be redundant.  But, what I will say is that they are


and they


The next thing that has been happening is an interruption in my sleep patterns.  I used to be able to take a tiny “bite” of a Unisom over-the-counter pill and it would stop my racing brain just long enough to pass out – but not make me feel groggy when I got up in the morning.  What began happening recently, though, is I would be able to go to sleep at night – but suddenly at around 3am – 5am I would be wide awake and not be able to go back to sleep for a couple of hours.  Then I would go into a deep sleep until I had to get up for work.  That made me crabby.  A couple of weeks ago I was tossing and turning in bed for my 2-hour wake-up session and I woke up my husband by accident.  I complained to him that this not-sleeping-in-the-middle-of-the-night-shit was pissing me off.  He told me rather than lying there being pissed off, that I should “make myself useful.”  So, I got up and did a load of laundry.  ‘Not sure that is exactly what he had in mind.

What kinda fresh hell is this??

What kinda fresh hell is this??

I asked friends about this disturbing phenomenon and they told me to start taking Melatonin.  I have been taking it for about a week so far and I think it’s working!  Not perfectly, but better than before I started taking it.  Now what is happening to interrupt my sleep is I am getting texts from people too early!  Sometimes it’s friends who have young children at home (I assume their thought process goes something like: “If I am going to be awake and miserable – all the rest of you will be awake and miserable with me.”)  But sometimes it is surveys for upgrades on phones, internet service – or whatever I have bought or changed in the last few days preceeding the survey.  The texts are sent promptly at 9AM on Saturday mornings.  They go something like: “Hi!  Thanks for visiting your local AT&T store!  On a scale of 1 to 10, How likely are you to recommend AT&T to a friend or family member?”  My return text goes something like:  “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!   STOP TEXTING PEOPLE BEFORE THEY WANT TO WAKE UP ON SATURDAY MORNINGS, YOU MORON!!!”  Now I realize that there is not some little AT&T elf sitting there patiently texting me – and no one probably reads my answer.  But, I am simple-minded and it makes me feel better.  (Hey –  I like to get my little imagined victories where ever I can.)

In order to stop some of these interruptions to my sleep, I have begun to take Melatonin.  I have raised my kids.  I got my parents phones they can’t use.  I scared my neighbors into changing their lawn days.  I muted my phone for texts (and was crabby to phone-survey elves.)  I am dancing with the devil by sleeping through church.  I essentially have done everything I can do to get some sleep.

Now if I can just get my husband to quit asking me to do laundry in the middle of the night….


Don’t Forget to Take Your Meds!!

I love meds.   I used to careen crazily through my life – like one of those men who pick up wood pallets -and stack them up so high on their piece-of-shit pickups  – that they look as if they will tip over (while speeding through the neighborhood trying to find the pallets before the other insane guy with his piece-of-shit pickup does.)

My brain (without meds) thinks this is a good idea!

My brain (without meds) thinks this is a good idea!

Then I got put on meds.  Once I finally was on the right meds, the effect was almost instantaneous.  Instead of going zero-to-sixty when one of my children spilled some milk, I went zero-to-twenty.  Much more manageable – and more importantly: NORMAL.  I knew that I wasn’t normal before – and actually that is not something that I normally (pun intended) prescribe to – but when it came to regulating my feelings, feeling what I perceived as normal was so refreshing!

My journey to the correct concoction of meds was like a chef trying to create the perfect recipe:  One pinch of this, one dash of that, and let’s try two shakes of that.  Then he tried it and it tasted like shit.  Back to the kitchen to begin again.  Three shakes of that, 4 pinches of this and oh let’s try some a that too.  OMG, worse than before.  This would be all OK if it was let’s say… a cake or something.  But… it was my brain we were tinkering with and one can’t just toss it in the garbage and start from scratch.  There were scary highs and lows and everything in between.   I never really understood WHY my prescribers couldn’t just put me on something and have it work like aspirin or a sleeping pill did, but they said things like: “The brain is not an exact science,” and “Everyone responds a bit differently.”   Hmmm.  Not super comforting, but it did keep me coming back for more human guinea pig sessions; ‘cause hell, ya never know – the next cocktail could be thee-one.

So one day, I realized that I was feeling good.  In control.  Dare I say….  HAPPY???   (Nah, let’s not go crazy here – but I did feel pretty satisfied with life.)  I was so worried that I would not be funny anymore.  I was thinking that I would be like a drugged-up zombie and I would lose my wacky spontaneity.  But I didn’t.  I enjoyed things just as I did before – I just felt more stable and grounded.  My girlfriends noticed that I was doing well on my new meds and wanted to know what I was taking.  “Well, I said, sounding confident pointing to my pills, “this one makes me NOT want to kill people….  and this one makes me NOT feel bad for needing to take meds so I don’t want to kill people.”  They all nodded in complete understandment.  (Feel free to use that word I just made up.  It means that they totally understood, agreed, comprehended, and got-it in a Sisterhood-of-the-Traveling-Crazy-Big-Girl-Underpants kinda way.)


Smile if you’re on drugs!!!

Since then, some of them have tried meds – and others not – but all of us are no longer embarrassed of talking about meds like we once were.  There are still people who judge and think that meds are poison (Tom Cruise – are you listening you bat-shit crazy zealot??)  and some people still feel that there is a stigma attached to those who take meds.  But from someone who takes them – and lives a better life because her personal chemistry is now in perfect balance – I don’t give a crap.  (Note: I would have used “shit” instead of “crap” but I have used “shit” 3 times already in this blog.  Shit.  I used it again.)

So if someone you know is on meds – or perhaps should be on meds – don’t judge them or make them feel badly about trying to feel the best they can.  Meds have helped me tolerate/ignore people that used to bother me.  I now can let the little things go – and not get overly-worked up over larger things that I cannot change. Oh — AND I don’t swear as much!!

Ok, that last part was a lie, but I think about not-swearing as much… and really, that’s almost the same thing.


Won’t You NOT BE My Neighbor?

There is a saying that you can pick your friends, but you can’t choose your family. I don’t think you can choose your neighbors, either. You can be blissfully living in your home – when all of a sudden Honey Boo-Boo & Co. buys the house next door. You can be sleeping in your apartment until the bass from the new guy downstairs moves your bed across the floor. You can be admiring the view out your condo window – and then find yourself face-to-face with fat-naked-man in his condo across the way. Neighbors are the luck of the draw, and SOME neighbors are worse than others. I would vote for fat-naked-man, but that’s just me.

We have some awesome neighbors – BUT we also have some crappy neighbors. I would like to talk about the crappy neighbors because they piss me off and I wish they would die go away. Some of our neighbors are so bad that they get written up in the paper!! You have to be a really, really crappy neighbor to be written up in the paper. (Although our paper is not at the top of the editorial food-chain.  The police blotter regularly  features items like: “A hanger found in a driveway in the 1500 block of Sixth Street caused suspicion.”  or  “A woman on Oak Street became suspicious when she discovered a wet footprint on her front porch. It was her own.” or  “A dispute over garbage can placement has broken out between neighbors.” or the best yet: “Two suspicious men wearing suits were seen entering a bank on Mercantile Drive. It turned out they were bank employees.”)

Our crappy neighbors are divided into two categories: Stupid Dog Owning Crappy Neighbors, and Illegal Pool Owning Crappy Neighbors.  The Stupid Dog Neighbors are harmless – but they bug me the most.  For YEARS they owned this Dalmatian kept in a caged run that barked.  ALL. THE. TIME.  As noted in a previous blog, I wear earplugs – but this dog’s bark was at that unusual frequency that passes right through earplugs  His bark was rhythmic and non-stop.  If he paused for a moment, I would stop whatever I was doing and hold my breath – until he started barking again.  The police were regular visitors to the dog house – because our city has an ordinance that says after 20 minutes of dog-barking you can call the police – but aside from stationing an officer outside the home 24/7, (MY idea!!) only so much could be done.  The owners would walk the dog infrequently, because it was like a hate parade:  All of us would come out on our front lawns to stare angrily at them walking by.  They kept their heads down in a walk of shame – of course the dumbass dog just looked at us like we were all there for his benefit – as he peed on our lawns.  I even went as far to put a brochure for a shock-collar into their mailbox, but got no results.  (I am surprised I did not read about it in the police blotter: Dog Shock Collar brochure placed in mailbox without proper postage!!  BUT, since I watch crime shows a lot, I knew to wipe down the brochure and wear gloves so the brochure could not be traced back to me.)

Don't tase me, bro!!

Don’t tase me, bro!!

Then one day….. no barking.  And it went on for a few days – NO BARKING!!  OMG !! DING DONG THE STUPID-ASS DOG IS DEAD!!!  It was so awesome.  People opened their windows.  Picnics and lawn parties were had by all!  I got my first good night’s sleep in years.  It was like it was the end of a zombie invasion and people began to resume their normal lives.

For about 2 months.

Then all of a sudden – there was whining AND dog barking again!  For the love of God, these people got another dog.  I truly wanted to kill them to move away.  We (I) began an immediate campaign with the police to make sure that this dog did not turn into a bad sequel.  And so far, the barking is not unbearable.  I still hate those neighbors for being selfish – and stupid – but as I said earlier, I can’t choose my neighbors.

Which brings me to the Illegal Pool Owning Crappy Neighbors.  This couple is interesting on so many levels.    My first encounter with them was when they moved in.  I took over a plate of cookies and a jar of home-made applesauce (I know – so Martha, right??) to welcome them.  There was a toddler, a man and a woman in the garage… oh… and did I mention tension was also there?  So, I introduce myself and hand my offering to the woman- and she says, “Oh.  I am not the wife.”  The husband awkwardly says that his wife will be there in a couple of days.   Well then… Enjoy the applesauce!

Anyhoo, that’s how it began.  I finally do meet “the wife” and she is bat-shit crazy.  Then some kind of drama happens between the pool people and the house on one side of them – and those people tell anyone who will listen how much they hate the pool people and how they are going to be moving because of them.  So they really do move!  I couldn’t believe how ugly it had to have been to make them leave, but I soon found out.  The neighbors on the other side of the pool people exposed more craziness.  In the mail, we get a notice that there is going to be a land-use review at city hall – followed up the next day by a letter from the pool people telling us how great they are.  We are confused by these letters.  Now I call these neighbors the “pool people” but at this time – none of us knew that they had a pool.  You see – we live in a protected wetland area.  We are not really supposed to have lawns (because they are a non-native species)  let alone pools….  but these people secretly installed a huge gorgeous pool and went beyond their own wetland property into the electric company-owned wetland easement and landscaped it, too!  (Surprise!!) They said that the previous mayor told them they could have a pool.  (The previous mayor was impeached because she was stupid and told people they could build pools in wetlands.  OK, that’s not true. She was impeached for sexting photos of her vagina to several young men.  OK, that’s not true either.  She actually was impeached for falsifying a college degree.)

The pool people may not have even been caught had the wife not gone out in the middle of the night and changed the property lines because she wanted to install some type of deck and wanted just a leetle bit of the neighbors land to do it on.  The neighbors on the other side of them had finally reached their breaking point and filed a complaint with the city.  The  quote to me from “the wife” was, “I don’t want to be the neighbor that people hate!”  And I’m like, then don’t do things that make people hate you, you moron.  I thought that in my head super-loudly so I think she heard it.  Meanwhile, the husband – who is an attorney – said things like, “I didn’t know I needed a permit.  I don’t know how these things are done.”  Really?  Wow.  Kinda like: I’m just a common country lawyer doin’ business with a gentleman’s handshake!  Riiiiight.

SO this goes on for ages.  And years.  Larger newspapers picked up the story and published photos of the pool – and Google Earth pics of the back yard – showing how they completely landscaped a ton of land that wasn’t theirs, etc.   Finally the city demands the removal of the pool and the restoration of the land to it’s native condition – and they slap the pool people with a hefty fine.  The pool people eventually removed the pool, and to prove it – there was a photo of the pool gone and the back yard freshly grated published in the paper.  My husband says that they probably just purchased a large tarp made to look like freshly grated dirt – and just laid it over their backyard and are probably enjoying their pool right now.

I wonder if she is under the camouflage tarp...

Hey – I should go layout and enjoy a dip with them.  We are neighbors after all.


My Parents Need to Retire From Retirement

When I decide to stop working, I want to be young enough to enjoy NOT WORKING and I do not want to croak immediately upon leaving the office for the last time. I have read obits about men who have worked their entire life – only to retire and keel over 2 weeks afterwards, poor saps. I plan on leaving my responsibilities behind while I am still fairly young, and then living the luxurious high-life that my monthly SS is gonna provide. If that is not enough money, then I am going to supplement my income being a wall-paper stripper.

When I do retire, I actually want to retire. My parents, on the other hand, are not of that mindset. The FIRST time they retired, they began an antique business. In my mind I imagined traveling to Europe, purchasing antiques, and selling enough of them to pay for the travelling, but that is not exactly what happened. My mom turned their little retirement business into a REAL BUSINESS. They went to antique shows, had places in antique malls, and did eBay. I think they actually worked MORE hours in retirement than they did when they were gainfully employed. If they worked any less hours, I think my mom would have been disappointed. This is just how she operates. She is not the type who can just go with the flow – in fact I can sum her up in 3 simple words: HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL (and all the warm-fuzziness that the title implies.) My Dad, on the other hand, is super laid back, happy to sleep in until noon and do crossword puzzles the remainder of the day (and that is a busy day). I can sum him up in 3 simple words also: HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELOR.

So, when these two decided to retire again, I was really excited for my dad them to slow down and enjoy life a little bit. They became snowbirds and decided to live half of their time in a retirement community in Arizona. I was so happy for them! Now they would have a chance to relax, get some sun, drink exotic blue-colored beverages and spend the twilight of their lives enjoying each other’s company. I was completely delusional. There is NOTHING retiring about Retirement Communities.

My husband and I went down to visit my parents and have a little bit of R&R away from our office. We were looking forward to catching up on our rest and getting some sun during our visit. It was going to be a great way to combine a visit with a vacation – and we were counting down the days until some well-deserved down-time. My mom and dad picked us up at the airport at 9AM and promptly took us to the largest pile-of-crap flea market one can ever imagine. It was really big. Huge. Obnoxiously LARGE. AND, to top it off – every 4th booth had the same crap! To make it even more awful, there were LOTS of slow old people and families pushing strollers that further extended our shopping experience. After the third building (there was still more identical crap to be had!!) we begged off and asked to head to their place to rest. My mom grabbed a couple of battery-operated card-shufflers and a tastefully (??) decorated vinyl toilet decal and we headed to base camp.

I call it base camp – because the rest of our trip was like a highly-regimented military operation. We. Never. Stopped. EVER.  After unpacking, my parents wanted to “show us off”. It was more like “Bring and Brag”. My husband and I were paraded like show ponies to all the other parents that had their children and grandchildren visiting them that week. After that, we went back to their “park model” (that’s what they call their weird little Hobbit houses) changed clothes, and went to a dinner theatre to watch a John Denver tribute. I was sitting next to a couple who kept extolling the virtues of all-things-republican between rousing renditions of “Grandma’s Feather Bed” and other JD hits. (All I could think was: WHAT KIND OF FRESH HELL IS THIS???) Eventually we collapsed on a ½ inflated air mattress and passed out .

Day Two. Rise and shine! We were going on a day trip to the Superstition Mountains! It’s a bazillion degrees – but if we wait until a reasonable hour to get up and get going – it will be two bazillion degrees so we have to go NOW!!! It was lovely, but hot. (Did I mention it was hot??) After a day in the sun, we went back to base camp to shower, change and go to Happy Hour! Happy, happy, happy! Then we went to the HORSE RACES!! Wow, you exclaim! Horse Races – how fun! Well, let me tell you about retirement community Horse Races…. They are unlike any horse races you have seen. Essentially 6 people (usually a mix of single ladies and unsuspecting visiting relatives) are given a cardboard horse on a stick, and a dice decides which horse –  and how many steps the horse takes. This is NOT a fast-paced activity.

Wonder who won??

Wonder who won??

The most fun is when the MC (my dad) announces the payoffs (calculated by my mom and her team). It is hysterical. My Dad: “Horse #1: The payout is $9.” (This is a low payout. The crowd is not impressed.) My Dad: “Horse #2 – and this is a big one, folks… $14!!” (The crowd rumbles with approval.) It goes on like this for a couple of hours. My husband and I excused ourselves after a couple of races to go relax – ONLY to be discovered (later) by my parents and forced to go play cards with a bunch of their friends.  They didn’t want us to feel left out.  (Lucky us!!)

The entire week we were there passed this way. Bingo, Pool Parties, Craft Shows, Parades, Shopping, Dancing, Tours, Aerobics, Poker Games –  the stream of retiring was never-ending. AND there was all the gossip!! There were sluts, and gigolos, and busy-bodies, and drama-queens – and that was just my parents! (Thank you, Thank you! I’ll be here ‘til Thursday – Don’t forget to tip your waitresses!)

Anyway, you get this idea. I was able to lay out by the pool and get some sun for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes. There were no blue beverages, and certainly no opportunity to relax. When my husband and I finally arrived back home – I realized that I was far more relaxed and rested working than I was in their idea of retirement. But, if it keeps them young – then who am I to judge? And really, the opportunity to listen to a man – who looks and sounds disturbingly like John Denver – while enjoying a night out with ones parents, may not be relaxing, but it is special.

AND my horse won a $15 payout. My parents couldn’t have been prouder.


I don't think I could look any happier....

I don’t think I could look any happier….

Isn’t That (not) Romantic?

Everyone has heard the old adage: After a couple of years, the romance leaves the marriage.  And, I tend to agree with that statement.  However, in place of the romance – my husband and I experience things that are infinitely more exciting than romance. Really! Truly. Sometimes. (nevermind….) Ok, not infinitely more exciting than romance, but we do experience head-shakingly-inappropriate, cringe-worthy silliness we never did when we were younger. (Or when we still had some shred of modesty and decorum remaining.)

I think this tendency towards THIS IS WHO YOU ACTUALLY MARRIED and away from all romantic illusions started when I began to use earplugs to sleep. (Note to readers: BE CAREFUL OF EARPLUGS: They are veeeeeerrrry addictive!! Once you start using them, it is super difficult to sleep without them! It is also difficult to block out Sports Center or Seinfeld when you are trying to read!!) So I began to use earplugs when I wanted to relax – and not hear whatever channel he was “watching” with his eyes closed – while snoring loudly. (Remember watching Andy Griffith?  And Barney would be sleeping on the job – and the prisoner would be trying to sneak the keys away from Barney so he could escape – and at the last minute Barney wakes up, quickly grabs the keys, glares at the prisoner and yells: “WHAT IN THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING???”  Well, let’s just say:  KEYS = TV Remote-Control,  BARNEY FIFE = Husband,  ONLY SANE/AWAKE PERSON IN THE ROOM TRYING TO GET THE REMOTE TO TURN OFF THE TV = Me.)

Ma'am, Step away from the remote!

Ma’am, Step away from the remote!

Back to earplugs.  I began wearing them when the twins were born.  We had a baby monitor that picked up every gurgle and sigh and I could not get any sleep.  Even when I turned the volume way down, I still found myself awake although no one was screaming (my personal standard for getting out of bed.)  Jeff never. woke. up.  It was so strange that I woke up for everything and he woke up for noth-ing.  But, I digress.  The earplugs.  SO they worked like a charm!  I could sleep through regular noises and only wake up when the babies started crying to be fed.  I did not have to have George Costanza be the last thing I heard every night before going to sleep.  I could read in peace and not become overly irritated that Barney Jeff was sleeping while the TV was blaring ‘That Metal Show’, ‘How Things Work’, or ‘Golden Girls’.  (He has eclectic…. taste.)

I liked my earplugs so much, anytime I wanted a little bit of “pretend” solitude, I would put those puppies in.   If my earplugs were in – when Jeff said something it always sounded like “uuurghurgksugr”.  Because I was lazy I left my earplugs in place and usually just said, “uh-huh,”   or  “yeah, I know.”   But one day Jeff said, “uruuhgruhgsuru,” and I said “I love you too.”  He loudly replied (so I could actually hear him) ” WHADDAYA MEAN YOU LOVE ME??  I JUST FARTED.” And then he laughed and laughed until he farted again.   After that, I wore my earplugs for sleeping only.

Sometimes when I am working or sending emails I am sitting on the toilet.  (Maybe right now I am on the toilet???  But you will never know.  AND, you are welcome for that image that you cannot un-see.)  Anyway, I was talking to Jeff on the phone one day – while sitting on the toilet (Hey!  I was NOT feeling well….) and told him I had just sent an email to someone and he’s like, you mean sent a TEXT..  And I’m like, ah-no, EMAIL.  (HELLOOOO??  That’s why they’re called laptops.)  He was all like: “I can’t believe you are working on your computer in the bathroom,” and I’m all like:  “Who brushes their teeth while on the toilet?”  And he’s all like: “Well, yeah.”  And I’m all like: “WELL YEAH?  What kind of a clever comeback is WELL YEAH?”  And he’s all like, “Shut-up, Richard,” ala Tommy-Boy.  (Can’t you just smell the romance in the air?  Don’t answer that.)

I fall down.  In parking lots.  A LOT.   I fall down because I wear high heels and have weak ankles.  I run into berms because I am looking at coupons.  I trip over concrete parking curbs because I am drinking my coffee.  Somewhere there are security guards watching my “Greatest Hits”.  Literally.  Jeff says that I should watch America’s Funniest Home Videos because he is sure I will be on it some day, and he wants to make sure we get our share of those security guard’s $10,000 winnings.  Jeff shows his appreciation for my falls by doing an impression of me falling – in slow-motion with sound effects – to the delight of EVERYONE.  I do have to admit it’s pretty hilarious.  But HARDLY romantic.

In return, I tease him about his weird hair-cutting… “issues”.  He cuts his own hair with dog clippers (Jeff’s dad was a veterinarian and got a discount on ’em.  His Dad would also cure any of our ailments with animal penicillin, AND birth all my children if I would have allowed it.  Once he told me I was not that different from a cow.   Oh yes he did.)   I don’t pay too much attention to Jeff’s hair-cutting, but one day I was cleaning out our bathroom drawers and cupboards, and came upon this stolen white school towel that had something big and squishy wrapped up in it.  I set it up on the counter and opened it up…  AND THERE WAS A HUGE MASS OF HAIR.  And all I can think is WHO THE HELL SAVES THEIR HAIR?  It also got all over my bathroom and that really pissed me off.  When he got home I confronted him with the offending hair.  “WTF???  WHO saves their effing hair? That is so twisted!!  Are you saving up for a hair-pillow??”  He sheepishly said that since he was naked when he cuts his hair, he just didn’t want to get dressed and toss it outside in the garbage.  And he kinda has this system that he just keeps putting the cut hair in the stolen white school towel.  Forever.

Hey!  Is that a Hair Pillow??

Hey! Is that a Hair Pillow??

I sort-of understood his logic, but told him he was more than welcome to toss the hair into our bathroom garbage and I would make sure that it was taken out in a timely manner.  (NOTE: Sometimes people give each other small locks of their hair as mementos to keep close to their heart, but this huge stash of  hidden hair was definitely not romantic.) 

So as old-marrieds, we no longer take a long showers together, go to artsy movies every Friday night,  or travel to Napa to purchase wine every year.  But as time passes and those “romantic” things we used to do are replaced with comfort, security, gross-stupid-shit, and true deep adoration, I can say I don’t feel like I am missing out on ANY romance at all.

Oh.  And he still saves his hair.


I (want to) See Dead People

I have been doing my blog for a few months now and I feel like you all know me well enough that I may begin sharing some of the more intimate details of my life.

BWUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! WHO am I kidding?! I share absolutely everything in my life because I have no boundaries, and I am the Mayor of Inappropriatenessville.  So, let’s talk about one of my more interesting hobbies: Dead People.

I have always had a soft-spot for dead people. My mother told me that when I was young I would read the newspaper obituaries and tell her that I was so mad that they did not tell me how the people died.  After quickly hiding all the knives…  my mom took away the newspapers and didn’t let me read the obits anymore.  But it was too late – I was already hooked.   Little did I know that there were tons of other morbid children out there thinking the same things I was.  Now that we have all grown up into morbid adults, the internet has allowed us to find each other and connect like one seriously dysfunctional family.  (Think: The Munsters, or The Kardashians.  Scratch that.  The Kardashians are waaaaaaaaay more dysfunctional.)

Anyway, there is a huge passel of people out there that are interested in all things related to Famous Dead People.  There are books and tours and websites and message boards and all kinds of ways that people talk about Famous Dead People.  According to Scott Michael’s Site:, these people are called DEATH HAGS and they are kinda like dead celebrity groupies.  (Gee, I can almost imagine the conversation going like this: MOM: What do you want to be when you grow up honey?  KID: Oh, I think I would like to be a Dead Celebrity Groupie.  MOM: Wow. I’m so proud.)

What Cemetery Groupies look like when they grow-up.

What Cemetery Groupies look like when they grow-up.

Although I do not wish misfortune on celebrities, I am fascinated by their demiseses. (Demise, demisesess, de-mi. Whatever.) I like to read books and research websites and find out who, when, and how the famous have died.  My mind is so full of this significant useless knowledge, that in spite of my family and friends repeatedly telling me that I really don’t need to share my amazing factual tidbits – I can’t help but enlighten them, ’cause I’m just all about helping people!  I call this teaching people, but my mean husband calls it “Informing Them Against Their Will”.  (My husband’s hobby is making fun of me.  He’s good at it.)

To clarify what I do with my unusual knowledge, it sort of goes like this:  We will be watching an old movie –  and as the actors make their entrances – I will tell everyone watching how that particular actor died in real-life.  (Yep, that’s what I do.)  For a few years, they just looked at me horrified that I even knew that stuff.  Then, there was eye-rolling phase and they started to do the Debbie Downer  “Wah-Waaaah” noise to me.  Now, they actually call me to settle bets, tell their friends how a particular celebrity died – or to get answers to win trivia games.  (Who’s the weirdo now??  Still me, huh?)

Wah - Waaaaaaaah.

Wah – Waaaaaaaah.

So the next time you are at a friends house watching an old movie from the 1940’s and they tell you that the character actress playing the hotel clerk took an overdose of pills at age 23 when her boyfriend broke up with her, you can whisper to them “Are you a Death Hag?”  – or just run from the room screaming.

Either reaction is completely appropriate.  (Like I would know what is appropriate.)


NOTHING Good Can Come From Facebook (just kidding….)

After resisting Facebook for quite awhile, I finally joined about 5 years ago.  I have come to enjoy FB and use it as a place to brag about showcase my ultra-fabulous family.  What I really want, however, is to have multiple FB Pages.  This would alow me to say whatever was on my mind without offending anyone.  OK, without offending anyone I care about.  These multiple FB Pages would allow me to post everything I want to that is in questionable taste, borderline politically-incorrect, and those things that I super-duper wish I could say, but don’t because it would hurt/enrage/confuse/irritate those people who I do NOT wish to hurt/enrage/confuse or irritate.  I guess I am thinking it may be OK to piss off complete strangers, but alienating friends and family  – not so much.

I would begin with a tasteful, wholesome  FB page.  I shall call it my MARTHA STEWART FB PAGE.  This is the one where I can post photos of my perfect family. If I had one.  I would post recipes featuring Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, (YUM!) inspirational quotes, make uber nice comments about everybody elses children, click *like* on their clever comments, and ooo-n-ahh over their totally boring amazing vacation photos.  This particular FB page would be for some of my friends, my in-laws, clients without a sense of humor, parents of kids my kids go to school with, and the Pope.

My next FB page is where I would be able to be anonymous and post whatever the eff I wanted with NO ONE knowing my identity.  I shall refer to this as my TROLL FB PAGE.  I would post all my favorite ‘People of Walmart’ and Dog-Shaming photos. I would post links to Anti-NRA, Pro-PlannedParenthood, and Cemetary Databases (don’t ask.) I would allow my freak flag to fly on this page.  I would rant at other ranters, correct their MISERABLE spelling and grammar – and I wouldn’t care if I hurt their feelings!!!!  I would extoll the virtues of my 3 most beloved tv shows: Toddlers & Tiaras, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Judge Judy – and I WOULDN’T care WHO judged me!  I would share breaking news from TMZ and the National Enquirer without shame and I would giggle to myself at all the people who wondered exactly who this witty savant was. (Surprise!)

I would have PROFESSIONAL RHONDA FB PAGE where I document how my business operates, what we provide, and who our customers are.  I would make DAMN SURE there would be no way in God’s green earth that is could be traced to above FB page in any way.  That would be bad.

That makes me think of the conversation I had with my husband after telling him to get his own damn FB Page. He replied, “NOTHING good can come from Facebook.” And I’m all like, WTF? I know he’s right, but there is no way this clueless person has any idea what he is talking about – so I ask him to enlighten me. He tells me this story about his friend who had a FB Page for exactly 2 hours. He set it all up and was starting to get some friends, and then all of a sudden an old girlfriend friended him – and his wife was all: WHO is DEBBIE SMITH??? He promptly deleted his new FB page and told all the men he knows that NOTHING good can come from Facebook. That has been my husband’s mantra ever since. I even post embarrassing/awkward photos of him just to annoy him and try to entice him into getting his own page, but to no avail. All he does is sneak around and take pictures of me and tells me that he is going to start his own FB page featuring a backlog of awful/embarrassing/double-chin showing/cellulite filled pictures of me. That would be very bad.

A face only a beaver could love
A face only a beaver could love


The final FB Page would be MY FB Page. It would be a page where I could gently tease my friends, make fun of/embarrass my kids, share silly internet photos, and keep in touch with what is going on in my world and all those who have been orbiting in it for the past 50 years. I suppose that even though my MARTHA, TROLL, & PROFESSIONAL FB pages sometimes call to me, what I really want is to laugh and share with those I care about.

And if THAT isn’t something good that comes from Facebook, I will allow my husband to post a photo of his choice. Promise.

For Some of us EVERYDAY is Valentine’s Day! The Story of When Hairy Met Rhonda

My married name is Valentine.  My husband, Jeff, comes from a long line of ancestors who had last names of holidays.  Back in 1687, Lord Patrick Groundhog (he was later Sainted) married Lady May Secretary.  Lady May was very enterprising and she began a greeting card company that started fabricating senseless holidays that would make people feel guilty if they didn’t acknowledge said holiday honoree – thus buying more greeting cards.  It has grown into the bazillion-dollar fake-holiday industry we know today.  OK, that is a lie, but Jeff’s Grandma Dorothy Easter actually did marry his Grandpa Crosby Valentine, so there is a modicum of truth to my story.

I really enjoy having the last name of Valentine.  It is much more professional than my maiden name of Wafflesniffer, and when I leave messages for people, they sometimes think they are receiving a phone call from a sex-phone service.  (I admit that Rhonda Valentine does kinda have that cheesy stripper-name quality to it.)  To top it off, we were actually married on Valentine’s Day, so no one ever forgets our anniversary.  It’s so sweet that it’s almost sickening.

It gets a bit more sickening when you hear how we ended up together.  I have known Jeff since the 3rd grade.  I remember him because he wore green Sears Tuff-Skin Jeans and had really bad psoriasis.   I was madly in love with a bad boy named Murphy, with a back-up crush on another kid.  Jeff was not anywhere in my potential boyfriend food chain.  It was an auspicious beginning.  Slowly over time, though, Jeff and I become best friends.

1980 BFF's

1980 BFF’s

I ADORED him and had so much fun with him. Meanwhile, I was in serious relationships all through high school, college, and into adulthood – never with Jeff.   I had a feeling that he wanted to be more than best friends, but I didn’t pay too much attention to that. I was too busy being in relationships with other people.  Jeff sometimes was in different cities and countries, but he always occupied a special place in my heart as my dear friend.

Every year or so, Jeff and I would go out to dinner and catch up on our lives.  It was during these visits that he began to verbalize what I already knew: That he loved me, he had always loved me, and that he wanted to be together.  I would tell him that I loved him too.  Like a brother.  Then I would go home to whatever boyfriend I was living with at the time: some of them nice, and some not-so-nice.

Years went by this way until one day I received a letter from Jeff asking how I was and telling me about his girlfriend.  His girlfriend?  WTF?  I realized that I was not happy that Jeff had a girlfriend.  I did not want him, but I certainly did not want anyone else to want him.  It kinda pissed me off.  (Yeah, I know…)  Anyhoo, one morning I woke up absolutely bawling and told my boyfriend that I had had this awful dream where my best friend Jeff would not talk to me and that I missed him so much, but that I didn’t love him the way he wanted me to love him, but that I really missed him and wanted to talk with him, etc.  My boyfriend told me to leave Jeff alone and not play with his heart – which was exactly what I was doing.  (Jerk. I hate it when people call me on my shit.)  My boyfriend and I ended our relationship shortly afterwards.  I began to serial date.  But I missed Jeff.  A lot.  AND he had a girlfriend.  Bitch.

I was seeing a counselor at the time and I talked about how my romantic relationships were lacking the same connection I had with Jeff.  She told me that it was time I found out my true feelings for Jeff and that I should spend time with him – and this is where it got tough –AND I COULD NOT DATE ANYONE ELSE. THE HORROR!!  Nah, I was not happy about that part of it, but I knew I had to figure this Jeff-thing out, otherwise I was pretty sure I would never be completely happy in any relationship.  My counselor said that I could place a finite date for spending time exclusively with Jeff.  So I looked at the calendar and Valentine’s Day was 6 months to the day away and I proclaimed that if I wasn’t madly in love with Jeff Valentine before Valentine’s Day, that the JEFF VALENTINE EXPERIMENT was over.

We spent every night together.  We saw movies, cooked meals, goofed around with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend.  We went out on fun dates – and then he would try and kiss me good night – and I would push him away and say and I quote: “If you try and kiss me I will throw up in your mouth.”  Yikes.  To his credit, he stuck around.  A lesser man may have walked away, but Jeff was willing to risk vomit in his mouth.  He hung in there.

One day I was at his apartment and we decided to go out for a walk, but I needed a heavier coat.  I opened his coat closet to borrow one of his jackets – and in the back of the closet was his letterman’s jacket from our high school.  I gleefully put it on and put my hand in the pockets to go outside.  There was something in each pocket and I brought out one item in each hand.  The first was a large glued lucite diamond and the second was a polished wood heart.  I began to shake.

My biggest treasures

My biggest treasures

Jeff walked over to me looking at me very seriously and I was almost hyperventilating.  The heart was something he made for me in shop class, 12 years earlier, but I had forgotten to pick it up.  He also made the Lucite diamond in shop class.  He threw it over to me across the shop to show me and I remember telling him, “Valentine, when you can afford to buy me a real diamond this big, I will marry you.”  I put the treasures back in the pockets without saying anything.  But it was definitely out there now.

Well, after that day, I knew that Jeff was more serious about us than I had been allowing myself to think about.  I still would not kiss him, though.  Crossing that line was something I just could not do.  Finally Jeff’s brother’s girlfriend pulled me aside and asked what was wrong with me?  Couldn’t  I see that Jeff was an amazing man and that I was an idiot?  She told me to quit looking at him like he was the boy I had been friends with forever ago and start looking at him like the man he had become.

The next evening, Jeff was walking me to my door and I bent down to get my mail.  When I stood back up he just grabbed me and planted a huge kiss on me.  And there were sparks.  BIG.  HUGE sparks.  (And more importantly no nausea!!)  I immediately collapsed onto the floor in tears.  Jeff sat down next to me and asked why I was crying.  I said, “It’s real, isn’t it?” and he said, “What do you think I’ve been telling you for 12 years?”

BIG 1990 Hair

BIG 1990 Hair

And the rest, as they say, is history.  We got married a couple months later on Valentine’s Day.  Thank goodness Jeff had the sense to wait for me to grow up and didn’t pay attention to a thing I said.  Just like he does to this day.

Which is why we are celebrating 24 years together.  :b

J R Valentine Photography

The photographic work of Joshua Valentine

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