Friday, December 21, 2012

UNSUNG HEROES OF CHRISTMAS!!!: Mr. Potter's Wheelchair-Pusher

It's a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite Christmas movies. If you haven't seen it, you've probably been living under a rock for the past 70 years. It's classic, iconic, blahblahblah and pretty much every other Christmas movie made after it plays on it or borrows from it in some way. George Bailey is the quintessential good guy down on his luck. However, there's one guy I always feel sorry for when I watch that movie, and he isn't a Bailey. He's Mr. Potter's Wheelchair-Pusher. 


Yeah, he pretty much looks like this the entire movie

George Bailey seems to consider this silent, old dude to be in league with Potter and his various nefarious schemes (say that three times fast), and at one point calls Potter "a scurvy little spider" and then yells at Wheelchair-Pusher guy (who is actually credited as "Potter's Bodyguard", but he never seems to do much of anything but push Mr. Potter's wheelchair and look solemn), "and that goes for you, too."

Think about it, though. Bedford Falls is a small town without many job prospects. The Baileys own the Building & Loan and Potter owns everything else. The Baileys don't seem much for hiring anyone who isn't related to them (I have no doubt anyone from Ernie the taxi driver to Violet the town strumpet could do a better job than cotton-headed Uncle Billy), so that leaves most of the town working for Potter in some respect. Wheelchair-Pusher is one of many.

Also, his job can't be easy. I imagine it's kind of like working at Downton Abbey, you know, if the Earl of Grantham was Satan. Potter is forever barking at him to hurry up and push him faster. Mr. Potter is not a small man and have you seen that chair? Ornate carving and high, solid back and all? That thing has to weigh 50 or 60 lbs.! And do you think Prince of Darkness Potter pays a fair wage? Ha! I bet Wheelchair-Pusher makes less than Martini's bartender, Nick (the only guy who's actually better off in alternate Universe Bedford Falls AKA Pottersville, by the way - he owns the bar in Pottersville).

Notice also, that Wheelchair Pusher doesn't utter a single word in the entire film. This to me says one of three things:

1. He's mute, in which case finding any sort of employment has probably been pretty rough for him and he's probably been teased and marginalized his whole life given the time he's living in.

2. He's been forbidden to talk by Potter while he's on the job. Maybe he wants to speak up and say, "Hey, Mr. Potter, what you're doing stinks" but he's afraid of getting fired or having cigar ashes thrown in his face.

3. Potter has had his tongue removed to ensure his silence since he is witness to all of Potter's foulest deeds.

You have to agree that none of these options sounds particularly appealing. To make matters worse for Mr. Wheelchair-Pusher, he probably has no friends since the people of Bedford Falls (being the hypocritical bastards they are since half of them are employed by Potter, too) associate him with Potter even though Potter probably keeps him chained in a basement somewhere when he's not on duty.

So, let's sum up. The Wheelchair-Pusher dude has a tough job making peanuts working for a mean guy. He's mute, either by birth, by financial necessity, or by force, and all of the other folks in town are rotten to him because of his boss. He's not even allowed to sit down but has to stand behind Mr. Potter the entire film, and he's no spring chicken, either. Surely he'd like to have a seat and rest his old bones from time to time. Yes, folks, George Bailey may have it bad, but at least he has friends who will lend him $8000 when his dumbass uncle accidentally hands it to the one man who's been trying to destroy their family for years. Wheelchair-Pusher has nothing but a rockin' hat.

So remember Mr. Potter's Wheelchair-Pusher this holiday season and think: George Bailey was saved in the end, but Wheelchair-Pusher has to keep working for that monstrous jerk Mr. Potter and can you imagine how grouchy he's going to be when he learns George Bailey was born after all?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

UNSUNG HEROES OF CHRISTMAS!!!: Todd & Margo

I decided to suspend my regular weekly blog schedule this week in order to bring you a series I am calling:

UNSUNG HEROES OF CHRISTMAS!!!

(Yes, every time I say it in in my head, it's in an "Epic Rap Battles of History" voice)

I'm a major sucker for Christmas movies and I have 7 or 8 in regular rotation from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Day. Something I've noticed through this intensive yearly study is that the protagonists of said movies are often goobers, goofs, dorks, idiots, and occasionally jerks. There are usually one or two characters shining in the background, too. These characters are put-upon and exploited for laughs or for plot reasons. These are my UNSUNG HEROES OF CHRISTMAS!!!

Today I bring you two UNSUNG HE-- well you get the point -- from my favorite Christmas movie: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (if you haven't seen this movie, go away, we can't be friends. Just kidding, but don't come back until you've watched it. It's on like every channel right now. I hear Chip and Dale are going to be splitting the role of "Squirrel!" in a special Disney Channel adaptation).

Clark Griswold is technically the hero of this movie. Clark Griswold is a nincompoop. He's also kind of a jerk. He bullies his wife into hosting a big "fun old fashioned family Christmas" and then hides from the family and sticks her with the task of cooking for them and making sure they all have clean laundry and places to sleep. He lies to a salesgirl at the mall and tells her he's divorced so he can hit on her. He ignores the good advice of family and friends and dives headlong into disaster after disaster.

And he's a bad neighbor.

That's where my unsung heroes come in. Todd and Margo are the much-reviled yuppie neighbors of the Griswolds. You're supposed to hate them based on the fact that they wear ridiculous yuppie clothes and say ridiculous yuppie things, but I put it to you that this would be a very different story if told from Todd and Margo's point of view. To prove this point, here are the following excerpts from Todd's diary, a part of the original script that was cut and then lost over time (yep, I definitely didn't make this shit up...):

Dear Diary,

Today I had a very tough day at work. I had to lay off that lovely single mother with the heart condition. The boss is really coming down hard. I struggled all day to get my accounts in order and on the way to my car I was spit on by a homeless man. Dejected, I headed over to Margo's office to pick her up and take her out for a nice dinner to forget our troubles. She lost her secretary to some poacher from Frank Shirley's company this morning.

We headed home first to freshen up and I could barely pull into the driveway. Griswold had an enormous tree, roots and all, laying over part of our yard. I can't believe he's going to put that thing in his living room! Suddenly he appeared revving a chainsaw and wearing a hockey mask like a madman. It scared poor Margo half to death. Trying to make conversation, I asked him where he thought he would put a tree that big. You would not believe what he said to me, Diary! He actually insinuated he would like to stick the tree up Margo's...I can't even say it. I hope tomorrow is better.

Love,
Todd

Dear Diary,

Today was horrible. Remember that gorgeous stereo Margo saved up for and bought me as a surprise for my 30th birthday? It's ruined. Completely and utterly ruined.

Margo and I came home from work to discover the house was freezing. We soon found that the bedroom window had been broken somehow and my beautiful stereo was utterly smashed to pieces. Also, the carpet was mysteriously wet. I don't know how, but I think Griswold was involved. The window faces his house.

I'm just sick about it. I loved that stereo, and Margo worked so hard to buy it for me!
Love,
Todd

Dear Diary,

I'm writing this from the ER where I've been taken for observation. They think I have a concussion. It's a long story.

Margo and I had just returned from a refreshing jog in the crisp winter weather. She was looking particularly fetching this evening and I told her so in no uncertain terms. We showered and I planned a romantic evening for us. I brought out that bottle of Chablis I'd been saving since my graduation from business school. The stage was set. I gazed into her lovely eyes and leaned in to kiss her...

We were suddenly blinded by a blast of light from Griswold's house! We leaped from the bed to cover the window, but then the lights suddenly went out and we tripped over each other and knocked the tray of Spanish hor d'oeuvres I'd prepared over. That beautiful Chablis crashed to the ground as well. We had just had our carpet cleaned of the mold from the mysterious wet carpet incident the other night so I yelled to Margo to get a towel and clean the carpet. The lights flashed back on again and then just as I'd gathered the tray to take it downstairs and clean up, they went back off and I tripped on the top stair in the dark. I tumbled headlong down the steps and hit my head on the floor.

I'm still dizzy, my head is killing me, and we're looking at not only a prohibitive ER bill but also another carpet cleaning bill as Margo was unable to get the aioli out. This is shaping up to be a very stressful Christmas.

Love,
Todd

Dear Diary,

I woke early today and the weather was clear and lovely. I thought I would take a jog and got dressed and went outside only to discover a beastly, bulging sort of man in a short robe and an aviator's cap smoking a stinky cigar and drinking a beer and emptying some sort of foul brown substance into our sewer! I stared at him in horror and he said, "Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!"

Can you imagine! He was emptying the toilet from his RV into the sewer! I ran back inside to escape the horrific stench. I imagine he's a relative of Griswold's. They could at least let him in to use the toilet. It seems inhuman to make him stay in the driveway and relieve himself into a chemical toilet at this time of year.

Love,
Todd

Dear Diary,

Today is Christmas Eve and I am writing this from the lobby of the Holiday Inn. I can't find a room anywhere. Ironic, right? Perhaps there is an empty stable somewhere...

This was a terrible day. I had planned such a wonderful Christmas Eve for Margo and me. We were both very sad that we couldn't afford to fly home and see our families since we've had to pay to have the carpet cleaned twice, to replace the window and the stereo and for my ER bill for that concussion. I tried to put a happy face on things for Margo's sake and prepared a lovely cheese and fruit plate and a pitcher of her favorite margaritas.

We were beginning to enjoy ourselves when all of a sudden, a tree from our side yard fell and crashed through the dining room window! We were shocked and looked up to discover Griswold with a chainsaw. He was slowly dragging the tree out of our window without a word of apology! Can you imagine?

Margo had had it. The poor dear lost her favorite aunt last week, you know, and in addition to all her troubles at work and not being able to fly home for the holidays, well, it was just too much. She lost it and demanded that I go over and punch Griswold in the face. While I cannot deny that he deserved it, I am a peaceful man by nature and I chose to turn the other cheek even though I'm not sure how we'll pay to replace that window after all of the other unexpected expenses this holiday season.

Margo was too angry to listen to reason and marched over to Griswold's herself. I can't imagine what he did to her. She came back covered in mud with her clothes torn and scratches everywhere. I can't believe he would fight with a woman! She was so distraught that she punched me in the face and ordered me to get out.

And so, I sit here in this cold hotel lobby alone on Christmas Eve worrying about how I'll afford to replace that window, worrying about whether sweet Margo will take me back, worrying about whether Griswold will come back to finish the job he started on her while I'm gone. What a terrible, terrible Christmas.

Love,
Todd

So, this holiday season when you watch Christmas Vacation, think of poor Todd and Margo and their carpet, windows, stereo, and various medical ailments.


UNSUNG HEROES OF CHRISTMAS!!!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nearly Wordless Santa Sunday

So the kids went and saw Santa at a Christmas party at Ry's ABA center this afternoon. Unfortunately, these well-trained professionals had the misguided idea of creating a sensory-friendly event for the kiddos: no bright, flashing lights, no interminable lines to wait in, no weird, creepy elves smelling of cigarette smoke and muttering inappropriate phrases under their breath. Do you know what this means? My kids actually halfway enjoyed having their picture taken with Santa and I almost didn't get that "classic" Christmas card shot I was hoping for. Shot after shot turned out decent and tame...until this one. As it is, nobody's screaming or pulling Santa's beard off or pulling down their diaper to pee on the Christmas tree so it fell a bit short of "classic" status, but I think this one is pretty great:

Are you kidding me with this guy?



Friday, December 14, 2012

There's a Book for That Friday 12/14/12

First of all, before I get to the book at hand today, I wanted to give a big thank you and ginormous Internet hug to everyone who responded to and shared my blog yesterday and to those of you who donated. The fund for Bean's sensory clinic has tripled overnight! Kat is beside herself with joy and Bean's sweet little face is being shared all over the globe (along with a blog by a certain nut you might know). You guys are awesome. Keep in mind, though, that they still have a long way to go to reach their goal, so keep sharing and let's get this done!

Alrighty, now to the scenario of the day:

You're sitting at home in your Battlestar Galactica jammies and your Firefly sweatshirt watching a Star Trek Next Generation marathon (Team Picard!) with your faithful companion Mr. Whiskers, of course. You're on the edge of your seat because it's that one episode in which Picard and Dr. Crusher get those implants that make them read each others' memories and then at the end when they're removed, they sorta kinda go on a date and there's a lot of reminiscing and crap (come on, you know the one I mean). You could cut the middle-aged strange-fashioned sexual tension with a knife. "They're finally going to do it," you think, "This is going to happen!" You're grasping Mr. Whiskers' fur so tightly that he yowls an angry yowl you haven't heard since you tried to Catflex with him...

...and then she gives him a lame line about being afraid, a weak kiss, and leaves...

"OMG," you think, "Gene Roddenberry, you're playing with my emotions again!!!" You fling the remote at the TV in disgust and try to go to bed, but you find you can't sleep. You're too amped up. Your sci-fi senses are tingling. How will you ever find a release of the immense build-up of nerdiness in your system?

There's a book for that.


Pssh, he's no Patrick Stewart...


Yes! A romance novel for sci-fi geeks! Fantastic! Now we can all indulge our naughtier sides without having to interrupt the constant stream of good guys vs. aliens into our brains! Also, could you come up with a better pick-up line than "set phasers to do me"? I mean, honestly, who among us wouldn't drop our pants immediately for that one? Amiright?

Now, in all honesty, there is plenty of fanfic out there on the world wide webs-of-awesome-depravity devoted to various kinky relationships between various members of various Star Trek crews (and, hey, you could just watch any classic Star Trek episode if Captain Kirk is more your studly style), but if you want to go old school and amuse the librarian checking you out, I recommend Cosmic Sex.

Disclaimer: I have not actually read Cosmic Sex and am not responsible for any embarrassing situations, disappointment or pregnancies resulting from reading of said book.

Oh, and P.S. I'll love you forever if you send me a video of yourself using the line "set phasers to do me" on unsuspecting strangers. Just sayin'.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Very Worthy Cause

Hello gentle readers! I promise I'll be back to my regular shenanigans tomorrow (it is There's a Book for That Friday after all, and I have a doozy for y'all tomorrow), but I wanted to take some time today to talk (well, write) about a cause that I find vitally important. Now, don't leave just yet, I'm not going to get preachy at ya, but this is serious stuff and there are very simple things you can do to help.

Sensory integration is a huge problem for most autistic people. What do I mean by that? Well, most of us have certain filters in place in our brains. The brain decides which sights, smells, sounds, and sensations that it's currently taking in are important and which are not and it allows us to consciously focus on only the important information we're taking in. We hear a friend talking but we're able to ignore the birds chirping outside the window. We can watch TV without also having to turn and look at each picture on the wall, or the light coming in through the blinds. We only feel the need to taste food and drink and not every rock, stick and leaf we come upon.

Okay, imagine that those filters were gone. You would suddenly be compelled to consider every single aspect of your environment at once. Your brain would no longer prioritize sensory information so you would hear every sound being made around you at once. The sound of your companion talking to you would compete for your attention with the sound of the person next to you in the coffeeshop typing on their laptop, the sound of the espresso machine running, the person across the way talking on their cell phone, chairs scraping across the floor as fellow patrons stood up, the sound of someone zipping up his coat, a dog barking down the street. You would perceive it all at once without being able to filter out the unimportant sounds. Can you imagine trying to follow a line of conversation under those circumstances? And it's not only the sounds competing for your attention. You would also have to look at everything around, smell every bad and good smell in the air, consider everything you touched. It would be completely exhausting.

The lack of filters is one component of sensory integration and processing problems. Most autistic people also experience their environment too intensely. Loud noises can be physically painful. Some smells others ignore are completely abhorrent. Bright lights can put some autistic folks in an almost trance-like state. And they live like this every single day, struggling to swim out from under the depths of sensations that are constantly washing over them to break the surface and be able to make connections and perform necessary tasks.

Not being autistic, I may not have described this exactly as it feels, but I have read accounts of sensory processing problems from autistic adults and what they have to say falls pretty much in line with what I've described.

Now, there are certain techniques that are marvelously helpful in integrating the senses and allowing people with sensory integration and processing problems to focus on only important stimuli. You may have seen the Temple Grandin HBO movie in which she builds herself a "squeeze machine". Tight squeezes help some folks, as does swinging on a swing, holding vibrating objects, jumping or twirling, sitting in a pit of objects like beans, rice, or balls, etc. I have seen the evidence of this myself at Ry's occupational therapy appointments and at home. After being squeezed very tightly in a squeeze machine, he is calmer and more focused. He engages in less self-stimulatory behavior and is able to pay attention and follow directions. We are very blessed that he now receives occupational therapy through a school with a wonderful sensory clinic that has many tools to help our boy feel calmer and more secure and to focus on his schoolwork. Not everyone is so lucky.

And here we come to the real story. This is the story of my friend Kat, her husband James and their son James who is affectionately known as Bean. They live in my awesome home state of California and Bean is 4 years old just like Ry and also autistic just like Ry. Unlike Ry, however, his school does not have a sensory clinic. It's been a tough road for Kat and her husband James. They tried for several years to have a child and suffered a miscarriage and a stillbirth. Finally they were blessed with a beautiful son. As he grew though, Kat was convinced something was a bit off about Bean, but her concerns were ignored over and over again by his doctors. Finally, when Bean was 3 they got the news that he was autistic. I can attest to the fact that it's very hard news to hear at first. Your entire worldview, everything you expected or dreamt of for your child changes. It's a painful period of guilt, confusion, and shifting priorities. Luckily, though, they were able to enroll Bean in a great special ed preschool program at Rolling Ridge Elementary in Chino Hills, CA. Bean's teacher has been a great source of support for Kat and James as they learn the ropes of autism and Bean is now communicating his needs well and potty trained (a huge feat, let me tell you).

Unfortunately, Rolling Ridge Elementary is suffering under the same budget constraints as the rest of California. There have been massive cuts to the special education budget and funds that were supposed to go to special ed are being diverted to general education purposes just to keep the school running. It's a common problem, but I put it to you that it is incredibly unfair that the students who need the most help are having their resources reduced the most. Kat is a very generous and involved mother and has been donating items, money, and time to the school, but she cannot donate on her own what they really need and that's a sensory clinic. They need $20,000 to buy the necessary equipment and the school simply doesn't have it and aren't likely to get it any time soon. So, Kat, being the go-getter that she is, has taken it upon herself to raise the money herself. She's raised money in the past and given it to the school, but it was put into the general ed fund and Bean's classroom never saw a penny of it. So, she has started a private fundraiser and every single cent of the proceeds will go directly to constructing a sensory clinic for Bean's school.

Now, why should you care whether some kid you don't know is getting his tight squeezes or not? Because this isn't just about Bean. Autism levels are at 1 in 88 births now and rapidly climbing. We are raising a generation of children with no filters between themselves and their environments. These are the people who will be leading our nation, who will be our teachers, doctors, politicians, mothers, fathers, but they're going to need a lot of help to get there. We owe it to them and to their non-autistic peers to do whatever we can to accommodate our world to them as they struggle desperately through hours and hours of therapy and special ed to accommodate themselves to the world. In the grand scheme of things, a sensory clinic is such a small thing to give them, and yet it would mean so much, not only to Bean but to all of the other autistic children who will pass through Rolling Ridge Elementary in the years to come.

This cause is so close to my heart that it's the only charity we're donating to this holiday season. Y'all know things are tighter than tight for us, but I made sure there was room in the budget for Bean and his sensory clinic. I understand if you have other causes that are more personally meaningful for you, but I ask that even if you cannot donate, please re-post this blog or share Bean's link. It's such a little thing to do. Don't worry about annoying your friends, it's a small price to pay to get this information out there and if they're annoyed by a perfectly reasonable request for autistic children, well, then they're class A jerks. As Kat says, "We only need 2000 people to donate $10." If you don't have $10, please give Bean the gift of sharing his story with others.

The link is at the bottom of the page, and seriously, how cute is he?




Thanks for reading, everybody, and I'll be back at the funny tomorrow!

http://www.gofundme.com/1j26dc

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Don't Do That Tuesday 12/11/12

Happy Tuesday, all! Yes, it's that time again. I feel like I should add a disclaimer to this "don't do that": it's okay to laugh at it a little. It was kind of scary at the time, but it does have an element of the ridiculous to it. And the boy in question is doing just fine now. Also, this particular advice probably won't be at all applicable to you unless you have a child with a seizure disorder...but then when has my "don't do that Tuesday" advice ever actually been helpful?

Don't do that: Last Friday Boog was acting rather grouchy at therapy, refusing to work and whining, and his cheeks were deeply flushed. These are generally signs that he is currently having a migraine or about to have one, and when he has a migraine, seizures often follow. I took him home, watched him all evening and put him to bed early, hoping that was the end of it, because...

...we were going to get our Christmas tree on Saturday!!! Note: in case it wasn't obvious, I am approximately 6 years old and thus the Christmas tree is a big effing deal to me.

The next day he woke up and was grouchy and sleepy and still flushed. A smart mother unobsessed with juvenile holiday preparations would have kept him home. Unfortunately for Boog he does not have a smart mother. We did at least do him the courtesy of waiting around for a few hours before we left, because he usually has seizures in the first couple of hours after he wakes up if he's going to have them. By 1:00 p.m. I decided he was fiiiiiine and we left for the Christmas tree farm. That was our first "don't do that"...


Note: this is not the face of a child who's having fun...



We parked at the entrance to the Christmas tree farm and began the 1/4 mile hilly walk up to the trees. Poor Boog cried and dragged his feet most of the way up the hill and I said, "Oh he's just overstimulated. Buck up, soldier!" Soldier did not buck up, and Dylan ended up carrying him the rest of the way.



Note: this is not the back of a child who's having fun...


We found our tree and Dylan began to cut it down. Boog sort of danced around uncomfortably for awhile, which, of course, dumbass Mommy chose to interpret as "oh look he's having fun". As soon as the tree fell down and Dylan picked it up for a picture, Boog tripped. I dropped the camera and went to pick him up only to realize that he had fallen over a stump and was rolling down the hill. Oh, and he didn't so much trip as fall over because he was having a seizure.


The infamous stump can be seen lurking ominously in the left corner


Dylan leaped over the evil stump and caught him and held him on his left side while I fumbled for the Diastat...only to discover I had left it in the car...all the way down at the bottom of that big-ass hill (ahem...don't do that...).

I took off sprinting for the car, alarming fellow tree-hunters and stumbling and nearly breaking my nose because, of course, I wore my treadless brown suede boots instead of tennis shoes even though as I put them on, Dylan said, "Are you sure you don't want to wear tennis shoes? It can be kinda muddy there," (...another don't do that...).

I got to the bottom of the hill really quickly, but the trip back up was another story. I felt like Sisyphus...you know, if Sisyphus were boulderless and an asthmatic mother in treadless shoes who not only forgot her son's vitally important medication but also her own rescue inhaler (yeah...don't do that...).

Nevertheless, I pressed on and made it back up that g-d hill in record time...only to discover he had already come out of the seizure and was sitting up and retching but not in any immediate danger, to which I said, "Thank God" as I sat down in the grass and waited for my heart and lungs to stop exploding.

Once we collected ourselves and the tree and made it to the bottom of the hill, there was a long drawn-out sequence of one redneck tree farm worker saying, "Did you measure this tree?" and another responding, "No", and the first saying, "Well how big do you think it is?" and the second responding, "I dunno." Then there'd be a long pause and the first redneck would start up again a few minutes later with, "Did you measure this tree?" This went on for about 15 minutes (no joke) while Boog sat in the parking lot and threw up and cried until someone finally decided the tree was about 6 ft. tall and we could pay and leave...

...and on the way home he threw up all over the car...

Since Ry is totally fine now and his doc has upped his meds and is optimistic that will take care of the problem, I feel comfortable saying that the whole thing felt like "National Lampoon Christmas Vacation: The Autism Edition", and while watching your seizing son roll down a hill and your husband chase after him is not exactly funny in the moment, it does have a bit of retrospective dark humor.

In any case, what have we learned here (other than that I'm going to badmommy hell)? Take your strange-actin' epileptic child to a Christmas tree farm? Don't do that! Leave his Diastat in the car? Don't do that, either! Expect rednecks to be able to measure? Definitely don't do that! Bring your own measuring tape!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

There's a Book for That Friday

New weekly blog feature! I know, I'm full of 'em lately. Anyway, this one was inspired yet again by my sister Grace, who works at a public library. She's always posting funny book covers on Facebook and after I saw the last one, I thought, "Man, there really is a book for everything!" and then, being the sinister idea-vulture lacking in original thought that I am, my next thought was, "Blog!"

I present to you lovely readers the inaugural installment of "There's a Book for That Friday"! You know those stupid "there's an app for that" commercials from a few years back? Books are the O.G. apps, yo. Ooh, my phone can tell me what the weather's going to be like! Yeah? Try an almanac, you hipster freak. Boom! Oh, look, my phone has restaurant reviews! Yeah? Guess what? They're all by the same losers who are clogging your Facebook feed with fart jokes. Try the Zagat guide, son. Boom!

Now, picture this: you're home alone with your dear cat Mr. Whiskers on a drizzly Friday evening. You've just shared an enormous plate of chicken chow mein and are feeling a bit guilty about it. Running your hand anxiously over your growing double chin, you walk to the door to put on your running shoes so you can go for a jog to atone for your fatty, fatty sins. Oh, but wait! It's raining! Also, Mr. Whiskers would get lonely if you went for a run without him. What to do?

There's a book for that.


Disclaimer: Awesome checkered shorts sold separately

That's right! Despair not, fatty catlovers! Now you can feel the burn without leaving your precious feline friend behind! Also, it's so clearly totally fun for the cat, too.



See? Look how happy that cat is.


I confess I am sorely tempted to buy this book and try it out with one of my cats. However, I suspect the only burn I'd be feeling would be from the empty eye socket that once housed the eye my cat scratched out in an indignant rage. Seriously, did she feed Fluffy some crushed-up Xanax before attempting this shot?

Well, if any of you gentle readers are bolder than I and manage to get your hands on this book and a cat, please, please, PLEASE send me pictures! Also, full credit goes to Grace for these pictures. Thanks for letting me steal from your life. I promise to find my own funny books...eventually...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Don't Do That Tuesday 12/4/12

Don't do that Tuesday comin' at ya! Alrighty, today I have a short guest post from my sister Gracie (yes, she of tall-ass wall painting fame). Again, not so much a guest post as I'm stealing material from her life...but at least this time I'm not making fun of her. Then, I have what will probably be a long tale of minor woe from my own life. Enjoy my idiocy, y'all!

Don't do that #1: I'll preface this by saying that a. my sister works at a public library and b. people are gross. Here is a recent Facebook status from Grace that tells us all what not to do with our library books: "Just a couple thoughts...a q-tip is not a book mark...a tissue is not a book mark... a crayon is not a book mark...neither are toothpicks, napkins, personal mail or leaves. Paper-clipping every couple pages together is irritating... as are post-it notes everywhere, and if the books smell like any type of urine (man or beast) please just don't bring them back. Also one last thought the book drop is not a carnival game, one does not receive a prize for hitting the person who kindly checks your books in so you don't incur fines... Just saying."


Nicholas Sparks should not be used as an assault weapon (take note, Hollywood producers)


Oky doky, so, don't use disgusting personal items as bookmarks and don't play bean-the-library-page-with-Dickens. Got it? Good.

Don't do that #2: So this one is a bit TMI, but it's a definite "don't do that" so if you're squeamish, just stop reading now and go remove the tampon bookmarks from your library books, mmkay? Okay, so, Pippa is allergic to/intolerant of dairy and when she eats it, she's basically running a faucet of foul, green water out her tookus for 24-36 hours. This gives her a horrible, blistering diaper rash that then pops open and scabs over and disappears within a couple of days (getting the TMI factor yet?).

Anyway, so 5ish weeks ago, she stole some of S's cheese crackers and had aforementioned nasty reaction. The thing is, this time the rash did not go away but morphed into some sort of red, angry super-powered rash that started eating puppies and small children. I tried every remedy I knew of and nothing worked so last week I took her to the doctor. We saw one of my favorite doctors at the group practice. She's kind of old school, slightly hippyish, and loath to over-prescibe, which I find very comforting and kind of awesome in this day and age of "Got the sniffles? We've got a drug for you! It'll only give you three kinds of cancer as a side effect!" She looked at the rash and said, "Looks like some yeast got in there. I could prescribe you an anti-fungal cream but that stuff is so awful and can cause disease resistance and all. How about I just write you a script for gentian violet instead? That'll clear it up in 2-3 days tops."

Tried and true remedy that works fast? Sounded good to me! Here's where things started to go wrong...

I went to pick up the gentian violet at the pharmacy only discover that 1. my insurance doesn't cover Wiccan spell components 2. Walgreen's doesn't carry hippy herbs. The redneck behind the counter didn't even know what it was, but said she could special order it for me for the low low price of $27.99 (just to clarify that's not a low low price when you make peanuts for a livin'). I reluctantly agreed and we waited until the next day to pick up the stuff. Meanwhile Pippa's rash took over a small, impoverished Eastern European country overnight.

Now, the doc had warned me this stuff could stain and to put a towel down and make sure to apply it with a cotton ball. This was the understatement of the year. Within minutes of Pippa's first treatment, everything in the friggin' house was purple, and I mean PURPLE. I'm sure if you applied this junk to an adult who could, you know, sit patiently while it dried and make sure s/he kept him/herself away from porous surfaces, it wouldn't be so bad. Applying it to a wriggly 18 month old who is 100% convinced that you are TRYING TO KILL HER OMG, is another matter entirely.

Also, not only are half my towels, half her clothes, the floor, the bathtub, the door, the sink, the toilet lid, and a few stuffed animals permanently purpled, so are Dylan's and my fingers.

I look like I've been cleaning up Barney's nosebleeds...

Here's the thing I've noticed about having purple fingers: everyone from your mom to the garbage man wants to know why your fingers are purple. So, basically, I've got two options. I can lie and say I've been dipping Becky Thatcher's braids in my purple inkwell or I can say something along these lines: "Well, you see, my daughter has this horrible yeasty diaper rash that's basically eating her little girl parts, and my old school doctor told us to put gentian violet on it, which is this antiseptic sorta dye, ya know? Funny story. It's not actually made from the gentian plant but got that name because of the purple color. I guess that's not that funny...Anyway, so it makes things really purple and even though I keep writing gloves on my shopping lists, I get to the store and I can't read what I've written and I spend the whole trip wandering up and down aisles wondering what a purple-smudged "gmurve" is and I get so distracted I forget the eggs, too, and you'd think I'd look down at my fingers and remember, right? But one of the kids is grabbing men's hygiene products off the shelf and sucking on them and another is pulling down some woman's skirt because he thinks she's his mama and he wants to be picked up and the third is laughing maniacally and running full-tilt for the super-secret-and-mysterious employee's only door, which, of course, has been left ajar and...well you know how it is. Or maybe you don't, if you don't have kids, which is totally fine. Not everyone has to have kids. The world is over-populated, you know, and it's a totally legitimate decision not to. Dylan and I wrestled with that one for quite awhile. Plus, then you get to like sleep in on the weekends and go on vacation and stuff. Or, I mean, some people aren't able to, I have friends who aren't and it's really, really tough...and I'm really sorry I brought this up now. I hope I didn't hurt your feelings. Please say I didn't offend you. I'm really sorry. What was I saying?"

In my experience, neither response is met with much enthusiasm. Oh, and the best part? This stuff hasn't healed the rash one bit so I get to drag 3 kids back to the pediatrician this afternoon. Gentian violet, at least for this particular world-dominating rash, is a definite don't do that.

Alrighty then, class, what have we learned today? Used tissues as bookmarks in library books? Don't do that! Gentian violet on the world's angriest rash on the world's squirmiest toddler? Don't do that, either (unless you really like purple, that is)! Class dismissed!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Nearly Wordless Sunday

Rolling out another new weekly blog feature today: nearly wordless Sunday! A lot of my friends who blog do "wordless Wednesday", but, let's face it, I'm too much of a blabbermouth (blabber...typist?) to ever be completely wordless. Also, on Wednesdays I generally have far too much to say to even be nearly wordless, but by Sunday, man are my words gone! Hopefully this feature will also be the kick in the pants I need to take more pictures of my kids...or...you know...just funny crap I see around town during the week.

Before this becomes "Incredibly Wordy Sunday", I present you with this:


Ah, familial bliss...


We did a little mini DIY photo shoot in our backyard this afternoon and I have to tell you, I was sorely tempted to make this shot, in which my son is trying to run away and my daughter's mining for gold, our Christmas card this year. In the end I went with a slightly more traditional pose, but I'm definitely getting a 5 x 7 of this one for the wall. It'll be a good one to show Pippa's first date when s/he comes to pick her up, hehe.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Don't Do That Tuesday 11/27/12

Happy Tuesday gentle readers! For it is Tuesday and y'all know what Tuesday means: time to revel in Meg's boneheaded stupidity!

Strangely enough, I don't have much stupidity to offer this week (no comments from the peanut gallery, DYLAN), but I do have two guest Don't Do That posters...and by guest posters I mean I'm about to make fun of various members of my family in a semi-public arena and they have nothing to do with posting this. Luckily I'm super-charming and adorable and thus will suffer no retaliation from this blog (...right...guys?). Also, one of the people I'm about to call out can't talk, so it's open season on him as far as I'm concerned.

Don't do that #1: Hey, y'all, if you have a cathedral ceiling and you are just determined to paint the wall that runs up to it, here's a little story from my mother and sister just to give you an idea of what not to do. So, my mom decided she wanted to paint this really tall wall in their living room and my sister Gracie agreed to help her. Naturally, having some common sense, they went to get the ladder from the yard to set up so they could climb up it and paint said wall. And then, naturally, they abandoned the ladder because it was dirty and icky and, like, some dirt fell in Grace's eye when they were trying to set it up, and there were gross spiders living on it that my mom's pretty sure bit her on the face (okay, I get the point there, spiders are the devil's evil godfathers).

Instead of, you know, taking the ladder back outside and hosing it off, my mom, who is about to have surgery on disks in her neck by the way, decided she would climb on top of the computer desk and then hoist herself up to this ledge that's...oh...12 feet off the hard-as-Hillary-Clinton tile floor or so and paint the wall all squished up on the ledge like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. When I asked her why on earth she would do something so risky, she said, "Well, I'm going to the neurosurgeon on Monday anyway. Might as well give him something else to work with."

They said it went fine though at one point the computer desk was bowing underneath Mom and she had to make a quick leap up to the ledge (I call shoddy workmanship on the part of the desk-maker as my mom weighs about as much as a flea). Nevertheless, I grant points to my mom and sister for successfully painting the wall without killing themselves but I say to you, readers, don't do that!

Don't do that #2: This one comes to you from the creative and occasionally troublesomely offbeat mind of the Boog. Boog has been "exploring his environment" a lot lately. That's a fancy therapy term for ruining and destroying the crap out of all his crap. He's become particularly interested in the area around his window and has torn his mini-blinds to shreds in his exuberance over OMG-I'm-inside-but-I-can-see-the-outside-I-can-see-the-outside-guys-why-does-nobody-else-realize-how-cool-this-is???!!! Sunday, while the rest of us were video chatting with the grandparents, Ry decided that it might be super-fun to take the register off of the a/c vent in his room which is right underneath his awesome window. It has a lot of straight lines, so I understand that part (he loves to look at and touch straight lines). What I don't understand is why he then felt the need to jump down the airhole like a stupid cat (see the Righting the Redneckery series for that reference). It's possible that he slipped and fell in, I don't know. What I do know is that we heard a brief yell of alert (Boog's not one for big displays of, well, anything), and we went in to investigate and found Boog stuck up to his waist in the a/c vent hole with a very sad expression on his face (A/C vent hole, you looked so fun. Why did you betray me?!).

I will forever kick myself that I didn't get a picture before we rescued him. I was going to put him down there (gently) for a reenactment but a. he cut up his leg falling down there the first time and b. putting your kid in a potentially dangerous situation for entertainment purposes is kinda terrible parenting, so Winnie the Pooh is standing in for Ry on this one:


Oh bother.



Don't do that #3: Okay, I did do one pretty boneheaded thing this week. So, I went on this anti-inflammatory diet this week (not the boneheaded thing, although...no sugar and only a couple of glasses of red wine a week...) because I read that it was good for controlling fibromyalgia symptoms and I discovered that I was eating almost no whole grains at all. I wasn't eating any refined grains, either, but I was getting maybe one serving of whole grains in at dinner and that was it for grains...other than the occasional post-wine sneaked bowl of Pippa's cereal. Um, so anyway, you're supposed to eat a buncha whole grains on this diet so I decided to try my hand at slow-cooker steel-cut oats...again...I've never had much luck with them, but surely, this time would be different because they're anti-inflammatory this time!

Um yeah. No.

First of all, if you do plan on making slow-cooker steel-cut oats, dear readers, do not have a "flash of brilliance" and decide to mix a large portion of egg white protein powder into the oats before cooking to up the protein content...unless of course you enjoy eating a breakfast the texture of a broken custard...


Yeah, it tastes pretty much how it looks...


Secondly, and maybe y'all will have better luck, but every g-d time I make this g-d recipe, I spray more pan spray in the cooker and add more water and every g-d time I end up with this:



Look! I made blueberry-flavored cement!

Thus, I say to my readers (but mostly to myself), "Stop trying to make slow-cooker steel-cut oats happen! It ain't happenin', cap'n!"

And there you have it! Paint a tall-ass wall without a ladder? Don't do that! Jump down an air conditioning vent hole for fun? Don't do that (no matter what Pooh bear tells you, it's not fun)! Slow-cooker steel-cut oats with egg white protein powder? Don't do that, either (trust the lady eating a week's worth of eggy wallpaper paste breakfasts)!

Tune in next week to see what kind of half-brained shenanigans I get myself into this week. Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Maudlin Ramblings...With Pictures!

So...Thanksgiving...that happened. AmIright? While some of you may have had angst-ridden, bourbon-soaked full-family displays of dysfunction, the Dittrich-Reed clan had a lovely, chill time hosting two very old (as in we've known them a long time, they're only slightly closer to middle-aged than us, hehe) friends Nolan and Cheryl and Cheryl's sister and her boyfriend, all of whom were very understanding about the turkey being a bit late and the questionable joys of being forced to act excited while an 18 month old hauls out her every possession for your entertainment and a small autistic boy rubs spitty hands in your hair.

We intended to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday eating leftovers and working on our redneck bathroom remodel, but...on Friday morning the Boog had a seizure and started to throw up (he does this with seizures) and then just when we thought he was feeling better, he had another one and the g-d Diastat tube (which are $250 a pop before insurance, by the way) broke and didn't get the medicine into him that it was supposed to but the seizure was blessedly unusually short, and then we were down to one tube left so I called the neurologist's office which was, of course, closed for the "holiday" (since when is the day after a holiday considered a holiday?) and had a very aggressive message about not troubling the on-call doctor with prescription refill authorization requests which I, of course, ignored. The doctor had no problem with calling in Diastat refills for Boog as he's not a sadist who would deny life-saving medication to a 4 year old, but our stupid redneck-run pharmacy didn't have any. We decided to wait it out since we still had one tube left and he often only seizes twice. And thus began Seizure Watch 2012.

Dylan watched Ry until midnight while I attempted to sleep but actually did nothing but read and listen for sounds of seizure (which, um, you can't hear through the walls). Boog got up from his post-seizure lethargy around midnight and looked so happy and energetic so we went to put a movie on for him and happy and energetic turned into stilted and jerky and oh-Lord-seizing-again. I held him while he seized and vomited and turned blue. It is exactly as scary as it sounds. Thank God the Diastat worked this time and brought him out of it. And then we had no tubes left and I proceeded to freak-the-freak-out while Dylan did the sensible thing - called around until he found a 24 hour Walgreen's that actually had the medicine in stock and then got our pharmacy to transfer the prescription and drove out there to pick it up. I stayed home and laid next to my sweet, sleeping boy and watched him breathe. When Dylan got home, he took over and I got a few hours of sleep while that lovely, wonderful man got none and stayed up to make sure our son was okay. See? Told you it would get maudlin.

Um, so anyway, Ry is better now, we'll see the neurologist next week for med dosage adjustment and now, pictures!


Thanksgiving Boog: gotta love a good sweater vest!

There is no room for shirts at Thanksgiving. Also, that is Nolan looking all kinds of stern about my parenting methods in the corner.
TURKEY LEG!!!!
Daddy and Boog respecting each other's personal space bubbles (no seriously, do NOT try to cuddle that kid while he sleeps unless you enjoy elbows in your throat) after a long night of seizure-watch
All worn out and still beautiful

Well, it was not the Thanksgiving weekend we planned, but at least no one ended up in the ER this year!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Don't Do That Tuesday

I've decided that my blog needs some regular weekly features. Why? I have a list of really well thought-out reasons...that I don't remember because I came up with them after dipping into the bourbon I bought to make Derby pie this weekend...but the conviction stuck even if the reasons didn't, so today I present to you the first installment of "Don't Do That Tuesday". "Don't Do That Tuesday" will be a weekly feature in which I regale you lovely readers with cautionary tales from my own life warning y'all against displaying the kind of stupidity that haunts me daily. I suspect I'll have to get a bit choosy as a week's worth of Meg mistakes could probably take up 8 or 9 blog posts' worth of space, but since I just came up with this idea, here are the mistakes I've made in the past 18 hours or so:

Don't do that #1: If you haven't been eating dairy for several months because your son has a severe allergy, do not, under any circumstances send your husband out for MagPies mini cupcakes and consume 5 of them in a PMS-fueled mania right before bed without taking a Lactaid. The resulting belly pain will keep you up all night with visions of tombstones reading, "Here lies Meg. Died when cupcakes stabbed her in the intestines". The consequences of all that sweet, buttery goodness may also wake your bedmate with...ahem...emanations so foul that he sits straight up in bed looking as if he's about to cry and shouts, "Dear God, why?!"

Note: Do not take this as a warning against purchasing and eating MagPies cupcakes. In fact, everyone within a 50 mile radius of Knoxville should go buy MagPies cupcakes (or pies or cakes or cookies) RIGHTNOW, because dear sweet and fluffy Lord they are the best things I've ever put in my mouth (and I'm not on the payroll anymore, so ya know I'm telling the truth), but if you're lactose intolerant, for God's sake, take a Lactaid first, dummy.

Don't do that #2: Do not attempt to hide packages of baby wipes from your thieving children by stacking them next to the rat cage.


Maybe they needed to towel off while running on the exercise wheel?

Rats are the hoardiest of hoarders. They will tear open a package of wipes and pull them one by one into the cage. Why? I have a couple of guesses:

1. Years of hearing phrases like, "you dirty rat" or "ew, gross, a rat" have given the entire species a wicked collective case of OCD and one wipe just can't get a rat clean enough. Neither can two. Or three. Or four. Or...well, you get the picture.

2. Remy and Romney (our rats) stole the wipes to weave into a rope they could lower down to escape from their cage into the magical outside world where a rat named Remy could run the best restaurant in Paris by sitting on some doofus' head and yanking his hair like puppet strings (still not clear how that one works) and a rat named Romney could run for president (sorry, it was just laying there, I had to take it).



Zat's eet, madame. Just bend zat head a leetle closer. I'm going to be zee best chef in all of Paree!!


Well, there you have it. Eat massive quantities of cupcakes without a Lactaid? Don't do that. Give baby wipes to rats? Don't do that, either. You're welcome.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Soup Burns and Basketball-Head

I was going to blog a super-serious/heartwarming autism blog today, but then I suffered a grievous soup injury to my hand and it just doesn't have it in it for that kind of typing this evening (fall is a dangerous time, yo, all those bubbling soups and pumpkin lattes and mulled wines and whatnot). I may never recover (or, you know, I'll be mostly fine in about a day...).

Soup kills!

Anyway...so my goal for this week is for the Boog to stay out of the ER. For some reason, Thanksgiving week/weekend is the week his system always decides to go all catawumpus and he gets some sort of bizarre illness. My guess is he takes the Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls view of the holiday and is simply trying to remind us what happened to the Native Americans after that fabled feast:

Luke Danes: Shouldn't we give thanks first?
Jess Mariano: Thanks for what?
Luke Danes: Well, that we're not Native Americans who got their land stolen in exchange for smallpox infested blankets.
Lorelai: Amen.

Last year, he decided to have a completely random and unexpected allergic reaction to penicillin the second or third time he'd been on it and spend the weekend impersonating a basketball.


When you look at my giant, bloated head, think of Squanto.


The previous year was less impressive, but fairly miserable as well as he had some sort of bronchitis/sinus infection combo.

So, this year, as you sit down to your turkey and pie, think a good thought for the Boog and his wonky immune system. Or, you know, just give thanks that your head isn't the size and shape of a basketball. The Boog will appreciate either.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Incident

I feel compelled to file an incident report with you, gentle readers, both as a confession and a cautionary tale. You folks and your constant support and devotion keep me honest and so...here it is:

This morning I raked the lawn.

I know, I know. I warned you I had quite the confession to make. Actually, I only raked half the lawn, because...well, here's how it happened:

Approximately 10:00 a.m., Meg takes Pippa and S out to the backyard to play.

Meg: Gee, there sure are a lot of leaves laying about. And Dylan is doing that whole OMFG-my-dissertation-must-drink-pots-and-pots-of-coffee-and-stay-up-til-3-writing-til-my-eyes-bleed thing. I bet he'd appreciate it if I raked the back lawn. You guys won't mind, will you?

Pippa and S: We're oblivious to what you just said and will keep happily poking the dog with sticks.

Meg: Awesome. Okay, here's the rake. Let's do this!

Pippa: Hold up. What is going on here?

Meg: I'm just raking the lawn, sweetie. I'm still right here.

Pippa: Um, Mom, it's okay when you ignore me to read George R.R. Martin or text Daddy. George R.R. Martin and Daddy are awesome. Ol' stinky leaves are not.

Meg: I'm not ignoring you, sweetie. Hey, let's play a game! Why don't you show me how you jump?

Pippa: Piss on your jumping, Mom. I think I'd like you to pick me up right now.

S: Oooh, the Not-Mama's back is turned! I wonder if the dog would like a stick enema?

Meg: Pippa sweetie, I can't pick you up right now, Mommy's raking. How about you bring me some cool rocks? S, don't poke the doggy's butt with sticks. That's a mean touch.

Pippa: Rocks? What am I, a geologist? Screw that. Pick me up NOW.

S: Oooh, I wonder if there are any rusty nails behind the shed here. Tetanus is my favorite deadly disease.

Meg: Pippa, honey, Mommy can't pick you up right now. I'm raking the leaves. S, don't go back there, sweetie, not safe! I know! Why don't you guys bring me some leaves for my pile? That would be fun and helpful!

Pippa: Oh, so it's child labor now, huh? I'm only 18 months old for God's sake! Next she'll have me down in the salt mines! Hear that neighbors?!

S: Oooh, I wonder if it would be a good idea to stick this handful of wet leaves into the outdoor electrical socket? What am I saying? Of course it's a good idea!

Meg: S, no touch! No touch that! Not safe! Pippa, sweetie, please calm down. It's okay, Mommy's just raking, I'll be done soon. Why don't you go play with S?

Pippa: That's right, folks: my mother, the oppressor. I hear she was responsible for that Benghazi thing, too. She's pretty much the WORST MOTHER EVER!

S: Rocks taste good in my mouth.

Meg: Pippa, Mommy loves you. Just let me rake leaves for 10 more minutes and we'll go in and have lunch. Are you hungry? S, we don't eat rocks. How about you guys play on the slide? Wouldn't you like to go down the slide?

Pippa: I'm starving! It's been 2 whole hours since I ate! My mom is Mussolini! She's Stalin! She's Hitler! Someone come save me!!!

S: Jumping off the garden fence sounds like the most fun ever!

Meg: ALL RIGHT! YOU WIN! LET'S GO INSIDE!

Pippa and S: Geez, what are you yelling about? Such a drama queen. Sheesh.

Anyone know where I can find this guy? I think I'd like to have a date with him tonight.:


Hello, handsome.









Sunday, November 11, 2012

OhcrapI'msupposedtoblogtoday

Uh...so I made this pact with myself awhile back that I would blog at least twice a week. Four times is the goal, but I rarely hit that. So, I just realized it's Sunday evening at 6:28 p.m. and I've only blogged once this week. Sadly, though, I lack a witty topic to rail on about for paragraphs and paragraphs. Thus, you get a Megcentric highlight reel. Below you will find a series of facts, opinions and musings that are currently floating through the scary, scary ether that is my brain. You're welcome.

I saw a guy in the Co-op parking lot this week who looked just like Leonard from "The Big Bang Theory". This coupled with zombie Steve Jobs in the Trader Joe's parking lot can only mean one thing: celebrities of various states of aliveness are stalking me but the only way they can reach me is through special inter-dimensional portals in grocery store parking lots. Clearly.

Onions are so badass. I mean, think about it: they have the power to make you cry even as you're chopping them up to eat them. What else can do that? Note: if you have an answer to that question, you should probably keep it to yourself...or tell a nice, friendly policeman...

I wonder if other animals can be service animals. We're working on getting Ry a service dog and he likes dogs, but he likes certain other animals better - like goats for example. I wonder if goats can be trained as service animals? My freshman year roommate, Tiffany, took a class on goats (what? UCD's a big ag school) and for their final they had to write a paper on any topic related to goats. Since Tiffany just took the class for a laugh and not because she had a burning desire to learn about goat husbandry, she researched weird facts about goats to write her paper on. She found that some man had quit his job and invested all his money into the idea of training goats as guard dogs. The specifics are escaping me now, but I think the goats wore bells around their necks and were supposed to shake their heads vigorously at the first sign of trouble? Needless to say, the venture did not take off. The guy lost all his money and his wife left him. Moral of the story? Dogs make the best guard dogs. But...I'm still not sure about service animals...maybe I should sink some money into this idea...


Oh my gosh, guys, the joys there are to be found when one performs a Google image search for "service goat"!


I hate not being able to buy wine on Sunday. Tonight I made a lovely Moroccan beef stew and a glass of red wine would really go nicely with it. But guess what? Jerkface past-Megan drank all the wine last night and now present-Megan can't have any. The future-Megan of tomorrow could purchase some, but the moment will be over by then. I wish present-Megan could go back in time and kick past-Megan's ass and steal that bottle of Apothic Red. Alas, I have yet to find my own inter-dimensional portal...perhaps I should search in the Kroger parking lot...

Friday, November 9, 2012

La Mancha List: The Conclusion

I always like it when the last part of something is called "The Conclusion". It has such a serious air about it.

So today, gentle readers, I bring you the conclusion of the list of stuff that-oh-dear-sweet-fluffy-Lord-I-have-to-actually-DO-now!

76. Learn to play the guitar: Thus fulfilling my teenaged dream of singing and strumming in a coffeeshop somewhere. Also, it seems like a good way to pass the time when the power is out. That's what TV has told me anyway, and we all know TV never lies.

77. Attend a fancy event in a fancy dress custom-made for me: Because even self-actualized, independent liberal gals who scoff at gender stereotypes secretly never completely get over the princess thing.

78. Meet Joss Whedon: There probably shouldn't be anything on the list after this, because once I accomplish this one, my head will explode. Maybe Joss can resurrect me. He likes to do that.

79. Read one of my husband's papers and actually understand it: The first step in this process is managing to stay awake past the first sentence...

80. Have a white Christmas: We came really close a couple of years ago. It snowed most of the day but it was a very wet, slushy snow and it melted as soon as it hit the ground. That doesn't count in my book. Also, bonus points (to the Universe, I suppose), if Bing Crosby comes back from the dead to sing "White Christmas" as it begins to snow.

81. Cook my way through a whole cookbook: You know, the whole Julie & Julia thing. Only NOT The Art of French Cooking because 1. it's been done and 2. there's some gross, gross shit in there, y'all.

82. Get Ry a service dog: We're actually working on this one right now and expect to have it accomplished by next year. You have no idea how vital this could be for him, though. This dog could quite literally save Rylan's life by alerting us before he has a seizure and rolling him onto his side. Ry often vomits during or right after seizures and he doesn't have the ability to roll himself over when he's seizing or in the post-seizure lethargy. Scary stuff.

83. Design my own house: Although there's a decent chance that this could end up like "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (a hilarious Cary Grant movie, in case you haven't seen it), I think it would be so cool to be solely responsible for all the design features of my house that I hate.

84. Live in the country: When I was growing up, we had friends who lived in the country and their house was the most fun place ever. I think it would be really fun for my kids and...yeah...help me live out my latent Laura Ingalls Wilder fantasy.

85. LARP: Yes, it's the very height of nerdiness, and yes I couldn't do it with anyone I know or I'd never want to see them again. Still...I think it might be fun to try...I'm dying to hit someone with a foam sword.

86. Write and record a song: Gotta accomplish 76 first...

87. Start or be involved in an autism charity: There's so much to work for when it comes to autism. The thing that lays most heavily on my heart, though, is the lack of awareness. There are so many autistic kids out there going untreated because their parents are either unaware of the symptoms or don't care. I'm not sure we can help much with the don't care part, but we can educate the public on the symptoms of autism so parents who don't know much about it can recognize it in their children early and get them treatment.

88. Have a giant library with one of those sliding ladder thingys: I would probably then proceed to slide about on it and sing songs from "Beauty and the Beast"...

89. Take Rylan to the opera: For some reason, the boy is delighted by the opera when it's on PBS. He's going to need to learn to control himself a bit more in public before this is feasible, but I think his little brain would explode (um, in a good way) if he got to see opera live.

90. Drive on the freeway: Sigh...this is one that's only on here because I know it's something I should do. I'm perfectly happy sticking to surface streets, but it does become a bit inconvenient to travel from city to city that way (I'm cool with highways, by the way). I just hate the freeway. It's so fast and there are so many jackasses on it and my spatial intelligence and driving ability are terrible. I'm happier avoiding it, in general, but I will drive on it if I absolutely have to. I just haven't absolutely had to very often.

91. Take the kids ice skating: When I was a kid, my grandparents would take my sisters and me to an ice rink in Berkeley and it was THE MOST FUN EVER! My kiddos need to grow up a bit and gain some gross motor skills first, but I think they'd like it.

92. Cook a dish from each country in the world: Not on the same night, obviously.

93. Keep bees: Dylan can take care of them.

94. Have a secret passage in my house: If I get to actually design my own house, it's going to be lousy with secret passages. You're going to get up and try to go to the kitchen for breakfast and end up in the basement.

95. Solve a mystery: I'm leaving this one vague so that I can claim to have solved a mystery when I, say, find my keys in the morning.

96. Visit a psychic: Yeah, I think it's all crap, but I just think it would be interesting to see what s/he would say.

97. Learn to make ceramics: ...or however you properly word that sentence...

98. Make everything we eat for a month: I've certainly gone a week or two this way, but we usually eat take-out or deli stuff once a week, because Mama gets tired and busy. Someday, maybe, I'll be less tired and busy (HA!).

99. Actually eat all my veggies: I eat more fruits and vegetables than the average American (and no, Ronald Reagan, ketchup doesn't count), but I don't usually hit the optimal 9 servings a day (5ish is more typical). Right now, I honestly can't afford to buy that much produce, but eventually that shouldn't be a problem.

100. Go parasailing: Why? Because it just looks so cool.

Oky doky, that's it! The 100 things I'm supposed to do before I kick it! Phew...I know I theoretically have about 50 years to complete this list, but...that's seeming like not a lot of years for all this stuff right now, haha.
I guess I'll start tomorrow...





Sunday, November 4, 2012

In My Head, In My He-e-e-ad...

What the heck is it with zombies? The world has gone zombie-mad lately. They're on TV, they're in movies, they're in video games. Y'all can't get enough of zombies, apparently. As for me, I find them abhorrent, disgusting, vomit-inducing, and, most importantly, not entertaining. I just don't get the appeal of shuffling hordes of mindless reanimated corpses. Yuck. And yawn.

Perhaps that's why they're after me.

Now, Meg, you might say, aren't you being a bit paranoid? Just last week you thought vampires were coming to eat your babies and the week before you were seeing armored knights around your bed about to attack you. Listen up, gentle reader, you...have a point...but no, this time I'm serious. The United Necromantic Dastardly and Evil Association of the Dead (The U.N.D.E.A.D. for short) have launched a subtle media campaign across several platforms to officially gross and freak me the eff out. Here's my evidence:

1. Game of Thrones. Scratching your head? Here's the deal: the books are just lousy with zombies. George R.R. calls them "wights", but, come on, you ain't fooling nobody dude, they're cold, stupid, rotting zombies. How is this relevant? Clearly the U.N.D.E.A.D. bribed George R.R. Martin to write books so addictive in nature, so irresistible to a 30ish decently-well-educated liberal female nerd such as myself that aforementioned well-educated nerd would overlook the fact that there are decaying limbs dropping all over them pages. Well played, zombies, well played.

2. The Sims 3. Again, let me explain: in the most recent expansion pack, Supernatural, zombies come out of the ground during a full moon to eat your Sims' plants and attempt to attack them. After the full moon is over, they're supposed to go away. My game, however, encountered a bug which makes zombies spawn constantly. There are dripping, green undead folks popping out of the ground around my Sims' house 24/7. They have to run to their cars in the morning to avoid being attacked by the shambling horde of grossness that follows them wherever they go. Again, brilliant move by the U.N.D.E.A.D. who knew that the depth of my Sims addiction was such that I'd play even in the midst of a zombiepocalypse.

3. My friends. No, my friends haven't turned into zombies...yet...but Dylan and I started playing an RPG with our buddies Nolan and Cheryl over Google hangout and in person when we can. Last night was our first game night and guess who the villains were? Yep, zombies. Nolan called them "raveners", but I suspect that's only because he's been paid off by the U.N.D.E.A.D. Et tu, Nolan?

4. Their ringleader. That's right, I've discovered who runs the U.N.D.E.A.D. Friday afternoon I was in the parking lot of Trader Joe's (a good place to track me down, again they display their brilliance, probably all those brains they've been eating) and a BMW drove up. In the passenger seat was Steve Jobs. I swear to all that's (un)holy it was him. He smiled at me, gave me elevator eyes and a wink and then the driver drove on. Now, obviously, Steve Jobs was a pretty powerful and rich dude and now he's dead. Thus, there can be only one conclusion: The reanimated corpse of Steve Jobs is the leader of the U.N.D.E.A.D. and he traveled to Tennessee to hit on me in the Trader Joe's parking lot. It seems pretty obvious, right?

See? I told you they were after me. I can only conclude that my brains are some sort of tasty zombie delicacy. The brightness of early intelligence mixed with the intoxicating mushiness common to the stay-at-home mom spiced with just a dash of mild insanity for heat = zombie ambrosia. I guess I can't blame them. I mean, I am tasty. But, Steve Jobs, you've already gotten me to pay an obscene amount of money for a laptop. You are not getting my brains.

Privileged white female is my favorite pizza topping



P.S. Do you guys know how hard it is to find a picture of Steve Jobs eating? Had to resort to a clear Photoshop!

P.P.S. Y'all know I'm kidding with this stuff...right?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Boog-o-ween

A small hurrah to say that I got my first porn spam comment this week. That's right, people, I've hit the big time! Nasty folks are trying to get at my reader base, which means it's substantial enough to notice, woohoo (or I've just commented on enough other blogs to become visible...hush now, let Mama enjoy this one...).

And now to our topic of the day. In honor of Halloween I'm opening up my blog to a guest poster who will explain to us his version of the perfect Halloween. Without further ado, I present the Boog and his Boog-o-ween:

Hi guys. It's the Boog. Thanks for reading my mom's blog. I'm still kind of miffed at her for changing the name of the blog from The Boog Abides to Megcentric (um, egotistical much, Mom?), but I guess she had her reasons...

Anyway, I need to talk to all you crazy people about all this Halloween nonsense you're so excited about. Those of you not on the spectrum of awesomeness seem to become afflicted this time each year with a mania for pretending you're NOT my teachers, friends, and neighbors (um, I can see you under that zombie mask) and inviting me to your door only to not let me come inside but rather handing me a piece of candy and sending me on my way. It's tiresome. I'm a live and let live kinda fella, though, so I propose a compromise: I'll let you keep the inexplicable madness that is this holiday if you make the following changes:

1. Rename it Boog-o-ween. Why? Because the Boog is clearly awesomer than whatever the heck Hall-o is.

2. Dispense with the carving of pumpkins. In case you haven't heard, the Boog is allergic to squash. Forcing me to sit through a ritual in which I not only have to touch icky squishy pumpkin guts but have to do it while becoming increasingly itchy is just cruel. Instead, parents may search all over creation for an out-of-season hothouse watermelon. It shall not be carved (gross creepy watermelon innards are not in any way preferable to icky squishy pumpkin guts), but you may leave it in the yard where I will kick it about as a makeshift ball. Watermelon soccer anyone?

3. Costumes. Really?

Explain to me how this is fun. I'm wearing a monkey carcass like a creepy monkey serial killer.


Sigh...if you must have your costumes, fine. I have some stipulations, though: they must never contain a component that goes over the head or face (oh my God, I mean, really you guys, how can you stand having something touching your head all night?!) and they must consist entirely of clothes a normal person would actually wear. Monkey carcass? No way. Doctor's coat? I'll allow it. Oh, also, to the parents of my friends on the spectrum of awesomeness who need to wear the same clothes on the same days every week: for God's sake, let them incorporate their Wednesday shirt into their costume. Just...you guys...there's an order to things...we're living in a society here!

4. All creepy-fantastic Halloween music is fantastic and creepy and may be played at any time, and very loudly so I can't hear my sister babbling away at me.

5. Trick-or-treating can stay but y'all need to make some major changes. First of all, as far as I understand your archaic "manners", it is the height of rudeness not to invite someone in when they come to your door. Come on guys, play by your own rules here. So, if I come to your house on Halloween, invite me in. Let me watch your TV and stim on your mini blinds a little. Let's be hospitable, shall we? Also, cut it out with the candy. That crap is full of dairy and dairy can send a Boog to the ER. I am so over that place. The stuff that is dairy-free is troublesomely crunchy or chewy or hard. I will never understand why you people voluntarily torture your palates with those sugary balls of mouth death. Instead, you may offer me one of the following: a date (the fruit not the social outing, although...I am single, ladies), a Larabar, a piece of raw vegan chocolate pie, a dairy-free gluten-free cupcake, or a dairy-free gluten-free sugar cookie. And I am not an animal: please offer the aforementioned treats on a plate at the table (I can't believe I even have to say these things...).

Oky doky, well that about covers my rules for Boog-o-ween. Peace out, Megcentrists, I'll catch you again when it's time for Christmas (a fat, bearded intruder breaks in and leaves you piles of boxes you have to unwrap? Really?).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Boog in Motion

The Boog went on a new drug to temporarily manage his seizures (while his other drug steps slowly up to therapeutic levels to avoid side effects) a couple of weeks ago. It's working great! He hasn't had a seizure or any of those all-day puke-fests that generally preceded seizures since. The neurologist was originally a bit reticent to put him on this drug, though, because of possible psychological and behavioral side effects.

When I asked him what he meant by psychological and behavioral side effects, he listed a bunch of scary symptoms such as severe depression, suicidal thoughts (dear God, could there be anything sadder than a suicidal 4 year old?!), aggression and violent behavior and lethargy, and at the end of that list he said, "Oh and he could get a little hyper."

Now that was the understatement of the year.

Thus far, thankfully, we haven't encountered any of the scarier symptoms, but, as one of Rylan's therapists put it, "he's like a cheerful meth addict". He simply has not stopped moving since he started taking this drug. Even in sleep, he's rolling all over the bed and bumping into the wall and falling off the edge. Sleep itself is as brief as it ever has been only now instead of getting up at 3 a.m. and sitting facing the corner laughing to himself like a creepy horror movie kid (true story), he's getting up at 3 a.m. running around the house laughing to himself, throwing toys, ripping up books and chewing on everything in sight.

So...basically he's become a 4 year old boy...or a wild animal...it's my understanding that they're essentially the same thing.

See, Boog was never a "boy" in that stereotypical "noise with dirt on it" sense. He was born the world's unhappiest baby and over the next year mellowed out into a slightly grumpy slightly deaf 85 year old man. His favorite activities were sitting quietly while reading books or taking long, slow walks in slightly overcast weather (direct sun was simply too bright in his eyes, while rain made his shoes uncomfortably wet). If asked to list his favorite activities today, I'm pretty sure the list would go a bit like this: Chaos! Mayhem! Bang! Crash! Chew! Bite! Kick! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The thing is, though...it's kind of cute. Even though, as we surveyed the damage from last night's exertions this morning (ripped up notebook! toys thrown everywhere! chewed-up DVD!) Dylan observed, "I've never been afraid he was going to murder us in our sleep until now", his hyperactive behavior is kind of adorable. The only way I can explain this is that Ry has something one might call "the chimp factor". No, I am not comparing my developmentally delayed son's intelligence to that of a chimp (please don't call Dateline). I think it's just a non-verbal big-featured sort of cuteness that remains regardless of the level of mischief (unless a chimp is tearing off your face, I'm pretty sure they're not cute when they're tearing off your face).

For example: Chimp at rest, ADORBS!


Meh, soccer's for humans. I'm just gonna sit.


Chimp about to unleash immeasurable levels of destruction upon the world, ADORBS!

Look at his little suit!!!


They share a certain attitude, too, a sort of "Okay, humans (or adults in Ry's case), I'm going to humor you and play your silly human games, but I have my limits." If chimps and the Boog had a theme it would be "I Would Do Anything for Love, (But I Won't Do That)". I have seen Ry give his therapists the look that chillin' soccer chimp is giving above countless times. It's hilarious at the same time it's frustrating, because it's such a knowing look. It's a "I know exactly what you want from me, but you crazy if you think I'm gonna do it."

Anyway, chimp metaphor aside, the fact remains that no matter what this kid does I am surprised and delighted. Even in the midst of my anger over the fact that he pulled the atomizer off of my perfume bottle and...hid it?...ate it?...liquified it with his brain rays? I was smiling. You just never know what he's going to do. It's a joy to live with that sort of mystery...

...until it eats your face off that is...




See? Couldn't even sit still for the camera!