Monday, December 31, 2007

I like those curves...2008



Yes, the new year is closing in on me. According to Central Standard Time, it is 11:18 pm when I started this post. I can't really complain about 2007. It wasn't a bad year. It wasn't a stand up and cheer about it year, either. However, it was a year of growing emotionally. I suppose that could be considered stellar. I know a lot of people who haven't grown in that capacity for decades. At least they haven't overtly changed. However, that is not for me to judge or be concerned.

I am declaring 2008 the Year of the Riss yes, you read it clearly. I'm not going to abandon friends, family or my dedication to being a selfless person. It does mean that I'm finally going to shift some focus on self-improvement. I'm going to give myself permission to have fun and live a little (again).

I hope everybody can find it in themselves to be less selfish to NUMERO UNO! I know 'they' say everybody is too selfish as it is. I am not implying that you spend every penny you have on yourself and not be charitable. I'm not suggesting that you forget friends and family. I wouldn't dare you to ignore being kind to others. I think if everybody TRULY learned to love themselves they'd be better human beings. We all have intrinsic values we've seemed to push aside for what looks good on the outside.

  • Think of your fellow man Lend him a helping hand Put a little
    love in your heart
    You see it's getting late Oh please don't hesitate Put a
    little love in your heart
    And the world will be a better place And the world
    will be a better place For you and me You just wait and see
    Another day goes
    by And still the children cry Put a little love in you heart If you want the
    world to know We won't let hatred grow Put a little love in your heart
    And
    the world will be a better place And the world will be a better place For you
    and me You just wait and see Wait and see
    Take a good look around And if
    you're lookin' down Put a little love in your heart
    I hope when you decide
    Kindness will be your guide Put a little love in your heart
    And the world
    will be a better place And the world will be a better place For you and me You
    just wait and see
    Put a little love in your heart Put a little love in your
    heart Put a little love in your heart Put a little love in your heart Put a
    little love in -Put a little love in your heart...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Veggie man dot.cometh

In my previous blog summarizing my Internet dating experiences, I promised a woeful; yet funny tale about my match.com experience. No one said Internet dating was easy. Much like anything else in life, you have to have patience, sort through the BS and hopefully, be wise enough to see blatant red-flags. By age 42 I figured I'd be savvy enough to manage wading through the fallacies men often toss out on their line in hopes of hooking a woman like a voracious salmon swimming upstream to mate.

The perusal of profiles ensued. My own profile delightful witty, but not daft. I revealed just enough to appear intriguing, but not mysterious. The perfect photo on display. Now, I just needed to sit back and wait for Mr. Right to send me a message. What a laughable thought that was. I was specific that I wanted someone who lived within a reasonable driving distance. I got responses from men in California, Oregon, Utah. The last time I checked, Illinois was not even close to bordering those states.

I had to take matters into my own hands (like I'm not accustomed to that!) and seek out someone nearby. The results were frightening: see previous entry for more on why that is. I was on the last hours of my free-trial period. I'm a miser when it comes to such things. Give me a sale at Bath and Body Works and I can easily drop $100. A girl has to have soft skin and smell delicious, after all! I started to dig a little deeper into the profiles.

Who is that my little eye spies? Is that someone I already know? Is that someone who made me laugh some twenty years ago? I had to ask. I sent this man a message asking if we knew one another already. After a couple of email exchanges he revealed that he was indeed the guy I had a writing class with years prior. He was fresh out of high school, and I was 21. I thought he was cute and funny, but clearly I wasn't going to chase after someone younger and unable to purchase his own liquor legally. Instead, I had a huge crush on this man who was brain and brawn. He'd even carry my books for me on occasion. We went out a couple times and after he didn't make a move on me, I assumed he didn't really like me that way. It turned out he respected me or something crazy like that. Another lesson learned; another regret. Oops! Sorry. My brain jumped tracks. I hope you enjoyed that trip down my memory lane.

Back to Mr. Match.com. We corresponded for a couple of days and finally exchanged phone numbers. I can't recall who called whom first. We'd talk often for a couple weeks until enough was enough. We met at a local eatery and caught up on 20 years. Five hours and, 30 gallons of Diet Coke later we realized our waitress was incredibly sick of us. We walked to our cars and had an awkward goodbye. He didn't see that I was safely in my car before he walked away from me after giving me this "our bodies can't really touch" kind of hug. Okay, maybe his allergies --which he revealed in previous conversations were out of control--kept him from wanting to get too close even though I promised not to wear perfume. No harm. We had a great time talking. I wasn't giddy like I normally get when I really dig someone, but I figured I had matured. Or, perhaps life had indeed jaded me.

Our nightly conversations continued. Early on he expressed how he wasn't seeking more female friends...you know, frieeeeeeeeeend. I was keen on that. He talked a lot about ex-girlfriends. That concerned me, but I passed it off as his need for complete disclosure. Weeks flew by and I felt it necessary to make the next move. It was clear he wasn't going to and I needed to know if he had any interests. We set another date. We had dinner and conversation. This time I skipped the Diet Coke and went for some crazy girly concoction with fruit and alcohol. He had beer. He'd also dosed up on anti-histamines. This means he was feeling slightly strung out and wasn't the best for conversation. At his suggestion we went for coffee; he was nearly falling asleep at Starbuck's. Meanwhile, I'm wired and hoping he'd snap out of it. Our date ended with yet another hug. This time it was more pathetic and it included a pat on the back. Chicks don't want a freakin' pat on the back at the end of the date followed up with "Hey! Thanks for agreeing to dinner tonight."

His regular calls continued. I sent a flirtatious email his way. I needed to feel him out. He responded like I was a leper. "sorry, I'm Teflon to flirting these days...you know, I'm not really looking for anything long term or serious." SHOCK! No, you dick! I was not aware of that considering you said you were LOOKING. I was angry, but not surprised.

He called me one day and again, discussed his allergies ad nauseam. This had become the theme of most calls. He updated me on how often he had to syphon or flush his sinuses. Romantic, eh? Remember, I thought I could spot a red flag miles away. I was being considerate and understanding to the plight of this man's allergic prison. Gag!

Cards were thrown on the table. He informs me that he had only viewed me as a friend from the start. "I'm not nor have I been interested in a dating situation. I am taking a break from all that. You knew that, right?" "So, tell me, why in God's name are you on a dating site if you're not looking for something along the lines of female companionship?" "OH, I guess my previous actions could be viewed as misleading. I'm sorry. You're sad. I didn't mean to make you sad. You're not crying are you? I feel like such an ass." "You ARE an ass." "We can be friends though. I'd like that." "You said you didn't WANT MORE FEMALE FRIENDS! Remember?" "Oh, you're right. I did say that. Yeah, I can see how you're confused. But I'd like to be a friend." "I can't really see you as a friend. My friends don't flirt with me and call me every single day to drone on about their allergies. I have friends. I was on a DATING SITE in hopes of finding a man who wanted to date me." "Well, the veggies in the garden are really beautiful and ripe. Let me bring you some to make up for this misunderstanding....can I drop them off at your work? You can share them with your co-workers."

I kid you not! This man offered me produce as a consolation to misleading me and giving me the 'friend talk'. Two days later he came in (not asking for me. He literally dropped them off with the first person he saw in the store). There weren't big enough cucumbers to make up for the lack of manhood. His carrots were dry and shriveled. After a second delivery of the same manner, he never called or emailed me again.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Closing time, last call for ... commenting?

In 1999 I found myself newly single and totally out of my element regarding dating. I'm not one of those girls who finds herself drowning in male suitors. I'm also inclined to have more male friends and acquaintances than female. Men do not fix up their chick friends with guys they know. It was once explained to me that guy friends don't do this because it will cause one of two things to happen (possibly both): 1. Should the female friend ever get drunk enough to have friendly sex with him , it surely won't happen if she's dating one of his friends. 2. If things don't work out, he might lose a really good friend or two.
I sought out attention and possible dates via the Internet. I was broke and unwilling to pay to put my mug on a dating website. That left me trolling the AOL chat rooms. I had various screen names. I learned that having anything with sexy, hot, gr8, etc in your name was a sure fire exclamation from chat roomies yelling, err, typing in caps PICS? GOT PROOF? I hadn't thought of the need to share my wares. I thought someone could just fall for me based on my intelligence, wit and charm. Wrong! After all, who'd buy a car without at least looking at it first? I had no success until I managed to get a photo to share. Ugh! The stress of taking the perfect picture that didn't appear overly posed, made up or, God forbid --show my 'more to love' curves.
I finally got that photo to all who'd been promised. I learned the online lingo and tricks of instant messaging while remaining in a chat room and keeping up with the conversation. I was a master. In fact, the moniker Wildhair is derived from that persona. I say persona because I was far less inhibited while seated behind the keyboard in the comfort of my own home. I'm not a shy person, but I'm not an all out, in your face gal either. Once warmed up (my family and close friends can attest to this), I am an unstoppable force.
I managed many dates via that format. I met several toads. I met princes with potential. I came to befriend a few incredible people ... most of which are men. I've maintained contact with a couple men who just weren't meant to be Mr. Wildhair. It's not that I didn't want it. Timing is everything. Location is an additional stumbling block when meeting someone on the 'net. I've wished them well in their pursuits to find Mrs. Jay or Mrs. John.
Due to increasing drama from the chat room buffoonery, I dropped out of sight or site. I couldn't muster the cojones to be subjected to the rumor mill that is an AOL chat room. People (women) became deliberately cruel when they felt I was treading too closely to a man they were possessing or obsessing over. Men who've been turned down or rejected found it amusing to make ridiculous claims that they knew me intimately. Nothing crazier than finding out the king turd ball of the chat room was having a tell all session. ACK!
In 2005 I returned to my home planet of Kankakee, IL. Dating has been a dry spell of biblical proportions. The dating pool has obviously received an overdose of chlorine or algae. I'm betting on the latter. I made some half hearted attempts at the various dating sites: Match.com (I'll tell that story shortly) and eHarmony.com (another humorous tale). I even considered checking out buyyouadrink.com, biggirlsneedlove2.com and whyareallthegoodonestaken.com and iswearimnotpsycho.com. I confess I just made those up in lieu of being unable to recall the other sites where I tossed up a profile. You do the math for me because I didn't get many nibbles from serious prospects. I'm not really looking for answers. My patience wears thing quickly with men who won't take the time to write out a complete sentence using complete words. If I wanted a guy who grunted monosyllabic sounds, I'd just buy a man-whore with whom to get my groove on. Alas, that isn't possible; nor it is an appealing alternative.
So, where does that leave me? I'm setting out to find other vices and, in the meantime, I might make a couple more friends with like interests. No longer am I fixated on getting a date. Last night, albeit strange for many who don't use the Internet for more than email or shopping, I had a blast chatting it up on one of my favorite blogs ~ Sean Daly's Pop Life. The players: Sean Daly, Jane, Carla and myself. Sean asked for help in compiling a 4.5 hour party playlist. We ladies were armed and ready for the challenge. In the past I'd make comments, walk away and check back later. Last night's chat-tasm took on a life all of its own.
I can't mention Sean's blog without giving props to the man who ultimately led me there. He's a sophisticated man about town....Steve Spears. He's the 80s guru who brings us Stuck in the 80s blog. A companion piece to that blog is the brilliantly funny podcast. And wouldn't you know it? Steve and Sean are co-hosts of said podcast. I'm addicted. I'm a junky! I'm a groupie and proud of it. I'm not ashamed to say that this is my drug of choice. I even bought the tshirt!
I'm able to cyber hang with like minded people who have a yen for music, movies, music and culture that WAS the 80s. I couldn't be more tickled to have found this cyber hangout. I blame my brother for linking me there. Or, should I be thanking him?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

You're cute! Tourist?


I was just reading an online acquaintance's blog and I nearly spit my coffee everywhere when I read this line: "Men in the Midwest, on the general whole, are ugly." No offense to any good looking man who happens to live in the armpit of America (my term). Let it also be stated that, if you are a good looking man who resides in the Midwest, you are an anomaly. God Bless you wherever you are; and are you single looking to date a woman with a teen-age son? HA! I digress.

I work in a mall setting. That in itself sounds pathetic. As luck would have it. No, it's not lucky. Anyway, there is a large window in our store that allows me plain view of the passing public. Needless to say, my male co-workers have a lot more to look at than we gals of the lab. It's on a rare occasion that a tall, good looking man walk by and strike my middle-aged, single and looking fancy. Did I mention that I'm single and looking? Again, I digress. Like a sniper on the look out we signal one another to come take a gander at the XY chromosome possessing specimen blessing us with his presence. It's as if time is slowed ... his stride seems deliberate. Does he know we're admiring how his jeans just graze his derriere? Is he aware that his pectorals remain firm as his arms slightly sway? Does he realize that the veins running up his forearms and to his well developed bi-ceps.... wow! Yeah, he must be visiting our fair town because men like that don't seem to exist. If, by some stroke of luck, he is a local; he is without a doubt married or solidly taken by some woman who only takes advantage of him. In a matter of moments he is out of our view. We have nothing but a memory of him. I live on that glimpse until six months pass and another fine specimen graces my visual senses.
Now, mind you, I am not nearly as superficial as this may appear. I can appreciate the everyday, typical looking fella. I love the idea of having a guy who can hold a conversation, keep me spellbound with his ability to tell a tale. I have the capacity to be intriqued by the guy who has a slight jelly belly. I'm simply saying that it's NICE to view eye candy from time to time ... just let me look at you. Shhhh no, don't talk. You'll ruin the view. Thank you.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Do they know it's christmas

I don't care what anyone says about this song, I love it. It combines three things that I love: Christmas, British/Irish Pop stars from the 80s and Love extending beyond borders.
This movement and brain child of Bob Geldof started a landslide outpouring of help.

I doubt we'd have the Jolie-Pitts setting out to save African children if Geldof hadn't opened our often self-centered eyes to the plight around the World. It seemed everyone got on the band wagon to save our Earth one Ethiopian at a time. Anyway, enjoy the video.

Give a little bit



"Give a little bit. Give a little bit of your love to me." I'm a purist when it comes to this song. Give me the Supertramp original version over the Goo Goo Dolls. No offense to Johnny Resnick and his boys, but my preference is the nasal-wain pleading of Rick Davies. Oprah used this anthem of giving for her Pay it forward extravaganza last year. My niece participated in this outreach of unconditional giving. I'm trying to convince said niece to write a book about her personal triumphs. If nothing, write a blog. She's an astounding human being who has defied death numerous times. She learned to walk again after a debilitating accident that caused her brain trauma. Essentially her brain forgot how to tell her legs to walk. Within a year of that accident she was tap dancing like a pro on the stage of our community theater. Phenomenal young lady. And I get to call her FAMILY. I wrote a blog and added the feature our local newspaper did to honor her. The link will take you to my myspace blog. With the current state of our nation, that's the kind of news I want to see. I don't need to know where and when the Hollywood hoochies will flash there genitalia or 'oops' let a sex tape slip onto the internet. Give me something positive and life changing. I suppose many people need the lighter side of things during such stressing times, but let's not spend time debating who's doing whom and is their video proof.

My niece has been taught valuable gifts and I credit my sister for being the best teacher. She gives without expectation. She lived and breathed the pay it forward philosophy long before it was a tear jerker movie or a pet project of Oprah. She'd spend her meager paper route pay on me and my brother because it brought her joy to buy us something. She continues to do that (although I think she makes a little more than 2.50 a week). I have an amazing family. They are an absolute melting pot of dysfunction, but we put the FUNKY in that dysfunction. Two of my sisters, Maureen and Mary, were and are mentors in my life. I've always been closest to them for various reason. They showed me how to be a mother by being my champions. They've come to my rescue and given unconditionally.

This post has taken a slight detour from where I had originally intended it to go. I haven't pushed JB away. That's what I came to write. I've kept the lines of communication open and, guess what? I'm laughing. I'm smiling. It's odd to have someone in my life that knows me. He's able to see through the facade and call me on it. Few people have the ability to do that without offending me in the process. JB has a knack that I wish I could master. Perhaps the guru will teach me a thing or two. He's the sort of person that wants to help out without enabling bad habits or that dreaded stinkin' thinkin'. He has money and lots of it, but his philosophy is to teach a person to catch the proverbial fish rather than just handing it over.

He's promised the goods for the Man-cub. He does so because he appreciates that I'm raising my son on my own. He applauds the sacrifices made. I don't see them as sacrifices, really. My personal life does ail, but I have faith that it will all come in due time. I believe in God's plan. Seven years ago he helped me attain a weight goal that I never thought possible. Naturally, I gained all the weight back and then some (once I cast him out of my view and became a shut in). He is willing to help me. Will he show up on my doorstep and force me on to the walking track? No. Will he police my refrigerator? No. He will check up on my progress, though. I'll be held accountable for my own actions. I'll be encouraged to love myself again. I have plenty of people in my life who surround me with love. Don't get me wrong. However, JB has a way of pushing me without being obtrusive. I can't lie to him. Even in texting he knows if I'm lying. He knows I'm quick to respond to things, but when I'm attempting a fib I freeze and there's a delay...momentary, but he knows. It's freaky.

I'm really excited about this joint pursuit of what lies beneath the chubbawubba. It doesn't define who I am, obviously. He's training to run the Boston Marathon. He says, "you be my cheerleader and I'll be your's...we can do this, Riss." He's the kind of person who sets a goal and attains it. He probably doesn't need me in his corner. Viewing it as a cohesive venture gives it greater appeal. I can do this, people. It's the holiday season. So, I have a grace period of January 2. My progress will be the subject of blogs to come.

He called me the other night to say hello. Some how we got on the subject of my financial planning. "How will you live when you're retired?" seemed to be the subject of the night. My query was, "will I be able to retire?" He says he can teach me how to invest my current 401k. He's shocked I haven't jumped on stock options. He asked what I had vested thus far. I am certain he heard the crickets chirping. I managed an answer because I had my statement on the table ... dumb luck, huh? I was embarrassed at the amount, but he didn't mutter a word that made me feel that way. He's certain I can turn that piddly amount into a healthy retirement. My reply, "then teach me, Yoda." It's exciting that I can take control of my life and not wait or expect someone else to do it for me. Tomorrow isn't promised. Duh!



Sunday, December 9, 2007

Love Actually


If I had to choose a modern Christmas favorite flick it would be (and is) 2003s Love Actually. This is not the kind of movie where you gather up the kinfolk, drink hot chocolate and string popcorn. This is an adult subject cornucopia to behold. I watch it anytime of the year, but the setting in the film is Christmas.



You're taken on a winding trail of vignettes that eventually lead you to a singular path about finding love, losing love, rekindling love and saying goodbye to love. It's simply fantastic. It all begins with visions of loving people greeting one another in an airport (presumed to be Heathrow). Hugh Grant's distinctive voice is narrating what it is that brings us all together on this planet: Love actually.



The cast includes some of my favorite actors and actresses: Colin Firth ... meow! Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney. Did I mention Colin Firth? I so adore him. He's just a delicious looking man. It's the accent, perhaps. Mmmm who cares!



Before I go off on a tangent about my lust for Colin, I'll just encourage anyone who hasn't seen this movie to do so. Buy it! Target is a bargain shopper's place for videos. I promise once you view it you'll want to watch it again and again. Once again I will stress this isn't something you watch with your children on Christmas Eve. Watch it with someone you adore, someone who won't care that you're drooling over Colin Firth. See it with a friend whom you treasure.



The soundtrack has some really great tunes on it, too. Here's a listing of the songs per Internet Movie Data base http://www.imdb.com/:



"Christmas Is All Around"Written by Reg PresleyPerformed by Bill NighyCourtesy of Universal Pictures Music
"All You Need Is Love"By John Lennon (as Lennon) and Paul McCartney (as McCartney)Performed by Lynden David HallCourtesy of Universal Pictures Music
"Take Me As I Am"By Wyclef Jean (as Jean), Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis (as Duplessis) and Sharissa (as Dawes)Performed by Wyclef Jean featuring SharissaCourtesy of Clef Records and J RecordsSharissa appears courtesy of Henchman Entertainment/ Czar Enterntainment
"Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye)"By Bob Crewe (as Crew) and Bob Gaudio (as Gaudio)Performed by Bay City RollersCourtesy of BMG UK & Ireland Ltd
"Puppy Love"By Paul Anka (as Anka)Performed by S Club JuniorsCourtesy of Polydor UK Ltd
"Sweetest Goodbye"By Adam Levine (as Levine), Jesse Carmichael (as Carmichael), Ryan Dusick (as Dusick), James Valentine (as Valentini) and Mickey Madden (as Madden)Performed by Maroon 5Courtesy of Octjay LLC
"All I Want For Christmas Is You"By Mariah Carey (as Carey) and Walter Afanasieff (as Afanasieff)Arranged by FloodPerformed by Tessa NilesCourtesy of Universal Pictures Music
"I'll See It Through"By John McElhone (as McElhone), Sharleen Spiteri (as Spiteri) and ChambersPerformed by TexasCourtesy of Mercury Records Ltd (London)
"River"By Joni Mitchell (as Mitchell)Performed by Joni MitchellCourtesy of Warner Strategic Marketing UK
"Jump (For My Love)"By Gary Skardina (as Skardina), Stephen Mitchell (as Mitchell) and Marti Sharron (as Sharron)Performed by The Pointer SistersCourtesy of BMG/ BMG UK & Ireland Ltd
"Here With Me"By Peter Gabriel (as Gabriel), Paul Stathan (as Statham) and Dido (as Armstrong)Performed by DidoCourtesy of Cheeky Records/ BMG UK & Ireland Ltd
"Rose"By James Horner (as Horner)From the Original Motion Picture Score "Titanic (1997)"Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp
"Too Lost In You"By Diane Warren (as Warren)Performed by SugababesCourtesy of Universal-Island Records Ltd
"Like I Love You"By Pharrell Williams (as Williams), Chad Hugo (as Hugo), Pusha T (as T. Thornton), Malice (as G. Thornton) and Justin Timberlake (as Timberlake)Performed by Justin TimberlakeCourtesy of Jive Records Ltd
"Turn Me On"By LoudermilkPerformed by Norah JonesCourtesy of EMI Records Ltd
"Songbird"By Christine McVie (as McVie)Performed by Eva CassidyCourtesy of Blix Street Records/ Hot Records
"All Alone On Christmas"By Steve Van Zandt (as Van Zandt)Performed by Darlene LoveCourtesy of Arista Records Inc. and BMG UK & Ireland Ltd
"Smooth"By Rob Thomas (as Thomas) and Itaal Shur (as Shur)Performed by Santana featuring Rob ThomasCourtesy of Arista Records Inc. and BMG UK & Ireland Ltd
"Wherever You Will Go"By Aaron Kamin (as Kamin) and Alex Band (as Band)Performed by The CallingCourtesy of RCA Records
"Both Sides Now"By Joni Mitchell (as Mitchell)Performed by Joni MitchellCourtesy of Warner Strategic Marketing UK
"White Christmas"By Irving Berlin (as Berlin)Performed by Otis ReddingCourtesy of Warner Strategic Marketing UK
"Silent Night"By Franz Gruber (uncredited) and Joseph Mohr (uncredited)Performed by Pre TeensCourtesy of Pickwick Group Ltd
"Good King Wenceslas"(Traditional)Modern Lyrics by John M. Neale (uncredited)Performed by Hugh Grant and Andrew Tinker
"Catch A Falling Star"By Lee Pockriss (as Pockriss) and Paul Vance (as Vance)Performed by CastCourtesy of Universal Pictures Music
"All I Want For Christmas Is You"By Mariah Carey (as Carey) and Walter Afanasieff (as Afanasieff)Performed by Olivia OlsonCourtesy of Universal Pictures Music
"God Only Knows"By Tony Asher (as Asher) and Brian Wilson (as Wilson)Performed by The Beach BoysCourtesy of EMI Records Ltd
"The Trouble With Love Is"By Evan Rogers (as Rogers), Carl Sturken (as Sturken) and Kelly Clarkson (as Clarkson)Performed by Kelly ClarksonCourtesy of 19 Recordings and The RCA Records Label
"Jump (For My Love)"By Gary Skardina (as Skardina), Stephen Mitchell (as Mitchell) and Marti Sharron (as Sharron)Performed by Girls AloudCourtesy of Polydor UK Ltd (Worldwide, except U.S. / Canada)
"Glasgow Love Theme"(uncredited)By Craig Armstrong (as Armstrong)Performed by Craig Armstrong

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Private Caller

At 8:40 pm central time my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID as I normally do. It said, private caller. My first instinct was to just let it go to voice mail. More than likely it was a telemarketer or wrong number. The number I have was issued to me just over 2 years ago when I moved into this house. I've received numerous calls for someone else. My thoughts are that they had this number and continue to give it out as a means of avoiding bill collectors or the like. It's quite annoying, but so many people that I KNOW have this number and I don't want to be forced to beg the phone company to change it because some dolts refuse to be responsible. I even get calls for them from ComEd giving notice of disconnection. I hope they do get their electricity and utilities shut off. That's what they get for being turds and not updating or giving proper information.


Back to MY call. I figured I'd just go on and answer and tell the caller to take me off their call list. Kill that birdy with the proverbial stone. I answered with a dry, monotone "hello." Why should I be pleasant to a person who's disrupting my evening of online shenanigans?


To my delight and amazement it was a voice from the past. His sweet, boyish, playful voice was resonating through my head. He is, by no means a boy, mind you. This is a man who literally changed my life and helped me recognize a very strong woman that always hid from the world. "I was just in Chicago for 41 minutes on a lay over from Maui. Do you know who this is?"


"Of course I do! It's JB"


" I called the cell phone number I had from long ago and a boy answered. I had to do some digging to find you, Riss... you never reply to my online messages anymore. What's wrong?"


"Oh, you know me. I leave that messenger logged on and forget about it. I'm always being booted off and it automatically logs me back in."


I was thrilled that he made an effort to find my number. I was excited that he thought of me enough to skip the online contact to ring me up. He was driving home after picking up his precious pups from the pet nanny. We talked for quite a long time about everything under the sun ... including why he's not married and why is it seemingly impossible for us to be together.


He travels all the time. When we speak it's hard for me to believe that he conducts major, multi-million dollar business deals. How can the man who has the most delightful giggle get powerful men to turn their money over to him? I don't care, really. This may be hard to believe, but his money has never had influence with me. He's literally assaulted with people asking for money, women (shamelessly) throwing themselves at his beckon call because he has money.


He tells me that I've brainwashed myself into believing that he needs a trophy wife. I'm always telling him that rich men like him want arm candy by their side ... even if they are heartless gold-diggers. It's just the nature of the beast. He insists I'm wrong. I insist he prove me wrong.


He tells me he wants to help me and asks for my son's sizes. He knows I receive no financial assistance from my ex husband (who is somewhere in TX forgetting he has a child, I think). "Email me the specifics and don't tell man-cub a package will arrive in his care."

"You really don't have to do that," I tell him. He responds by saying he knows I find it impossible to accept help, but he wasn't letting me say no.


It's not that my son and I are starving or without clothing and shelter. I manage to do what has to be done. My son is growing like a weed and it's hard to keep him in clothing. Now help is on the way and I wasn't looking for it.


While online to send the sizes to JB, he popped online. Our conversations are always so varied. One second we're talking about the weather (he's in South Carolina), and the next we're recounting every nuance of our profound; yet odd relationship past. Then, he starts sending me photos of his dogs, the ground breaking for his pool. In the midst of it all he tells me his mother had passed away in September. I scolded him for not telling me sooner. It broke my heart and I started to weep. He knew I'd lost my mother when I was young. We talked more about that and he told me about his mother's last days.

As soon as those tears were wiped away he told me how much he cares for me. He always feels pushed away when we talk. So, he distances himself. It's true. I've always pushed him away. I don't know what my fear is. Is it hard for me to believe that someone like him could actually want a gal like me? Am I that scorned and scarred that I can't even let someone in enough to let them be a constant in my life? Do I fear that he'll abandon me the minute I let down my guard? I think I do. It's a struggle to think someone could stick around after the relationship past I've had.


I literally shoved him out of my life several years ago. He always kept tabs and sent me messages to make sure I was fairing well, but I refused to really let him in.


We talked for a bit today online. He makes me laugh. He finds a way to remove a brick from this fortress I've built around myself each time we talk. Who knows, maybe by the next decade it'll be down low enough for him to step over ... or perhaps he might choose to be catapulted over the wall. In due time, maybe, just maybe I'll lower the draw bridge and let him in.


UPDATE: The draw bridge is firmly locked and baracaded from entrance.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Big Screen: It's a Wonderful Life




Oh, I'm not talking about big screen TVs my friends. I am talking about the BIG silver screen of the Paramount Theater in my hometown. Throughout the month of December the restored and beautiful Paramount Theater in downtown Kankakee is showing the holiday movies we love.



Last night my son and I joined my sister, her family and her friend's family to a viewing of one of the greatest movies ever made: It's a Wonderful Life. It was truly a fantastic and remarkable sight to behold. Seeing Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed on that huge screen as my parents viewed it just captivated me. The humor and nuances seemed renewed. The scene where George Bailey feels he's hit rock bottom and he's drinking in Martini's Bar left me with such a sense of profound empathy. As George's tears streamed down his face, I felt my own eyes sting with tears.



Having an audience to share my laughter really brought an additional spark to this old movie. I cried for the first time ever while watching it. At the end when the entire town comes to the aid of their beloved George simply caused a surge of emotion. I knew my sister (sitting in front of me) was losing it as well. Her friend sitting next to her was likely unable to hold back the tears, too. My son turned to me and asked, "Mom, are you crying?" Not a word. I couldn't speak.



The pile of money the town brought to the Bailey home sat on the table. In the middle of the pile was the book Tom Sawyer. Clarence was real. Inside was an inscription in his angelic handwriting: "Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence."



::applause::

The Weather outside is FRIGHTFUL!


I live in the Midwest. Winters are cold and often unpredictable. The only thing we are certain of is that it will be cold enough to make your nipples fall off while being fully dressed in winter gear. It's currently a whopping 5 degrees. F I V E! That's a single digit. I won't get into the wind chill factor. For those of you that live in warmer climates that brings it BELOW ZERO. Extremities will freeze instantly. The benefit of it being that cold when your fingers and nose fall off (or nipples) is that you won't realize it at the time. You'll be a frozen human shaped block of ice. Once you defrost you can freak out from being less one earlobe.

I'm so absolutely grateful that I was able to get a newer car back in March. For 2 years I had driven a 1993 Pontiac Sunbird without functional heat. It blew air, but it never got warm. Now I'm cruising in a 2004 Saturn L300 with heated leather seats. Let me tell you NOTHING is finer than having your frozen tushy make contact with that warmth. At first I felt as if I'd wet my pants, but I'm accustomed to the sensation now. The chills that would normally run up my spine and into my brain are subsided with the lumbar warmer. Ooh la la! Now if it would just massage me, too.

I'm also fortunate to have a garage in which to park my ride. It's not attached to the house, but it keeps the frost and snow off the windows. I'm cold sensitive. When I was little I suffered a minor frostbite incident. My brother, cousin and I were sledding at a place we townies refer to as Poop Hill (it's near the sewage treatment plant; therefore casting of a smell of pooh gas). Back in the day we didn't have 3M Thinsulate gloves. We had mittens that were made of wool. Wool that would get wet and then freeze our phalanges. We huddled together in a phone booth to call my aunt. I recall taking off my gloves because I couldn't feel the tips of my fingers. I stuck my middle finger in my mouth and, without thinking, pressed my canine tooth into it. Blood! I didn't feel pain, but I realized I had bitten down a tad too hard. I couldn't feel it! My finger was frozen!! I also realized I had some sharp little teeth!!

Ever since then, and as I've aged, my fingers turn white when it's cold. It doesn't take much for that middle finger to turn 'dead'. It's amusing to hold up and shock people. First, they're slightly offended that I'm flipping them the bird. Then, I explain that I'm just showing them my creepy frostbite finger. I do it like they do in the movies so not to be offensive. It's not a full-fledged flip off. My index and ring fingers are bent at the knuckle. HA!

I heard from a friend in Florida that he's wearing shorts today. There's an expected high of 74. My first instinct was to tell him he's a punk and needs to shut up! But then, I'm the idiot who's chosen to live in the armpit of America. In the summer it's a miserable humid yuckiness. In the winter it's cold...often bitter cold. We have two seasons here: Nasty and Worse.

I lived in Georgia for 8 years. I was in the northeast region of the state. We still had winters, but not quite as awful as here in Illinois. Summers were still funky humid, but I somehow didn't think they were that bad. I moved back here for the benefit of being closer to family. My son and I needed to reap the benefits of being ensconced with familial warmth. I just wish that warmth kept my fingers from turning deathly white :)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Forgive divine

As a single mother, I am always trying to teach my 13 year old son that women are to be respected and not objectified. In this age of lusty, sexual visuals it's increasingly difficult. He is easily embarrassed by, as he puts it "skanky girls" on television and in movies. He tells me he doesn't understand why they have their rear ends and chests on display. Now, I do realize he is young. I'm his mother. I see the positive. So, his views are to my credit. That is not to say he isn't curious and appreciative of the female form. I do honestly believe he's learning that ogling and staring are inappropriate. I know some grown men who could take a lesson from my man-cub.
So, the other night we were watching a movie. I'm pretty sure it was John Cusack's 1985 charmer, Better off Dead. He and I both love this movie. We've watched it so frequently we can quote many parts. I think what prompted his comment to me is that there is a character in the movie named Roy Stalin. He's an arrogant putz that treats women like pieces of old cube steak. My pride and joy says from across the room, "Mom, if I ever have a girlfriend, I won't care if she's pretty. As long as she treats me nicely I'll like her." I'll give you a moment to awwwww
Since kindergarten, the little girls my boy has liked have been unpopular, plain-Jane types. He'd talk about one little girl in particular. In my subconscious superficiality, I pictured a princess with bows perfectly adorning her curly brown locks. On a day of volunteering I met this mystery girl: Her tangled, mousy hair fell to her shoulders. She wore thick glasses that constantly had to be pushed up. He adored her; therefore, I instantly fell in love with her as well. I asked him why he liked her so much. First, he insisted she was his friend. Then, he revealed that she played with him when other kids wouldn't. He appreciated her inner beauty..."to me, she's pretty." I thought that was mighty profound for a 5 year old child.
The Man-cub has been taunted by a particular girl for 2 years. She's not toyed with him in a flirtatious manner, mind you. This young lady has been cruel and hateful. Instead of encouraging him to push back, I asked him to find it in himself to be compassionate. I suggested that she might have a bad home life; no one to kiss her and say 'I love you' as she left for school. He's admitted that it's often difficult and he'll raise his voice in frustration. It's never been bad enough for his teachers to contact me. However, I have inquired about this girl's continuing badgering. I recently spoke to the woman who was my son's teacher's aide. She confided in me that the girl in question had indeed been in an unstable environment. She's one of 7 children. She and her twin sister were told they were no longer wanted (by their mother) and given to foster care. My face fell in shock. I shared with the teacher's aide how I had encouraged Spenser to deal with this girl. I added that I had alerted the school administration about the ongoing issue. They promised to monitor it. I mean, they have to since bullying has a zero tolerance policy. She told me she would personally talk to the girl. Apparently, she saw the need in this girl's life for a positive role model and took it upon herself to do so.
I felt it necessary to inform Man-cub that his means of handling 'the girl' was appropriate and well praised. He was exhibiting the Golden Rule. I insisted that he keep this information about her foster care to himself as I did not want her to suffer ridicule or embarrassment. We were discussing his school day as we always do, and he told me about the Christmas cards that he was making for his teachers and Grandma. "Oh, and I made one for A, too. I told her Merry Christmas and that I was sorry for yelling at her when I was angry." A being the young lady who's harassed him. As corny as this may sound, my son just gave me the best gift any mother could receive at this joyous time of year.
He knows his gesture of kindness and wiping the slate clean may not be welcomed or outwardly appreciated. It came from his heart to let her know that bygones are bygones. He's learned to do something I find incredibly difficult: Forgiving my enemies. The student becomes the teacher.


Momma's Christmas Eggnog


Ever since I can remember I have loved eggnog. While passing Fannie May Candies I eyed a sign in the window advertising their new item: Cheesecake. Like Homer Simpson spying a donut I muttered, "mmmm cheeeeesecake..." I adore cheesecake, too. Fannie May has brought together two of my favorite holiday treats! Eggnog cheesecake! Again, I mentally take on another character; Will Ferrell's Buddy the Elf. I was subconsciously singing in the mall, "CHEESECAKE! I loooooooooove cheesecake and eggnog..eggnog cheesecake.. I-WANT-TO- EAT- IT- NOW!" I'm sure my co-worker was unaware of the scenario blaring through my head. Had this truly happened I'm sure I'd still be explaining to mall security how I managed to escape from my straight jacket.



When did the love affair between eggnog and my taste buds first blossom? I can't recall the first time my tongue lapped up the delicious dairy-nog, but I assure you it was non-alcoholic. I do know that my mother made it from scratch. I cannot tell you how she concocted my most favorite and beloved holiday beverage. The treat she made far surpasses any gunk you can buy pre-made. Her's was smooth, not too heavy or thick. My taste buds were doing the dance of the Sugar Plum Faeries as it slid down my throat. She'd dollop frothy egg whites on top with a light dusting of nutmeg. My eyes would dance wildly with excitement just awaiting that first sip. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve were the only occasions eggnog was brought to the buffet table. I suppose that made it all that more special to me (and still is to this day).

Each Christmas season I am rabid for eggnoggy products. Eggnog to drink (I cut the commercial stuff with 2% milk...too thick). Eggnog Latte' at Starbucks. Eggnog ice cream at Oberweis. I bought a quart of Oberweis eggnog to add to my coffee in the morning. And now, Eggnog cheesecake at Fannie May. I'd probably use eggnog flavored toothpaste if it were on the market.

Eggnog brings me back to the happiness that was my childhood. The thrills of traditions created by my beautiful mother. Her image in the kitchen; singing her favorite Christmas songs. Her voice a sweet sound. Her song erased any sadness or disappointment I may have felt. Momma's Emeraude perfume lofting in the air. It's melodically stuck in my nasal cavity.

You see, drinking eggnog is more than just consumption of a holiday beverage for me. It's chocked full of beautiful memories. It's not only a memory of a punch bowl filled with a creamy concoction; it's recollection of admiration and love. Not only my regard toward my mother, but her regard to me as her child. She created memories that are sacred.

Everything was perfect at Christmastime. She taught me that wrapping a gift wasn't just a means to keep it secretive, it was to be done with loving care. Each fold of the paper was her way of giving of herself. Every gift inside was a piece of her heart and soul. My mother didn't haphazardly slap on wrapping, sloppily apply the tape or smack on a bow without care. She was an artist.

She worked in customer service at Montgomery Ward when I was a wee tot. I loved going to see her there at Christmas. She was the master gift wrapper. I think people came to know she'd not only don their package with the shimmering foil paper, but she'd treat their purchases as if she'd bought them herself for someone special.

There was a lot to learn from my mom. I often wish she was here to counsel me in my day to day life. I suppose in many ways she does. She had far more patience than I. Mom could turn around any one's frown, sadness or dismay. I think over time it became a curse. No matter who she encountered, people loved her.

My Dad wrote a short Christmas story with my Mom as the main character. I hope to find a copy of it and share it here. After years of observing how my Mom pulled together Christmas (even if the money wasn't there), my Dad speculated that Santa had to be a woman; his wife. Mom created magic at Christmas. It was truly the most incredible homage any man could pay to his wife; the mother of his 8 children (after her death he remarried an extraordinary woman; through that union 2 more children blessed our family and new traditions would be made).

Christmas is a glorious time overflowing with memories. Love is what abounds in my heart because of the unconditional love bestowed upon me by my parents. My enchanting mother taught me that Christmas is magic. It's not magic that comes from a wand or a potion. It's the magic you feel in your very soul.