Thursday, October 28, 2010

Funny, Unfunny

[At a paint-it-pottery place in suburban Chicago, circa 1990, with my best friend's birthday party.]

Adult 1: So the new thing now is to put plaster on a pregnant woman's belly.
Adult 2: Huh?
Adult 1: For real. They come in and it's like a party. Then they take it home.
Adult 2: Well, what do they do with it then?
Me, 11 year old snarky pre-teen, who shouldn't be eavesdropping on adults: Maybe they make a planter out of it.
Adults 1 and 2: (Uproar of laughter)

That was the first time I remember being funny to anyone else besides myself, on purpose.

Am I funny? Do I think I am funny? Maybe. But in all honesty, I write what I do to merely amuse myself. Somewhere along the line, I figured out that other people laugh in all-the-right places, too.

(And yes, I do go back and read my old blog posts. And laugh. Even though I wrote it...mere days ago. I'm okay with this, but probably shouldn't be.)

Oh, there are plenty of people that don't think I'm funny.


Warning: this girl can put lame 80s sitcom theme songs on your work computer.
My dad didn't think I was so funny when I changed the Windows Start-Up chime to his work computer to the theme song of Facts of Life.

My theater professor didn't think I was so funny when I stapled a ham sandwich to my supposed "collage" of things related to Hamlet. (Got an F on that project. Even though I justified it. But come on...a college junior having an assignment of making a collage for Hamlet? Does anyone else see this as beneath them?)

My newspaper editor didn't think I was so funny when she assigned one of my beats as Adams County -the county where she lives- and I asked if people in Adams County could read.

My brother didn't think it was so funny when I whipped the covers off him to wake him up (about 10 years ago...when I was in college) and discovered he was only wearing some sort of animal print undergarments. (Side note: I may still be blind. And in therapy.)

And this is why I blog. Because even though the actual outcomes of all of these situations were not pleasant, I still laugh that I did them. Like I'm 12.

But you should know that it's not always Skittles and Beer for me. I'm a published poet. I have written serious articles for newspapers. I'm a book contributor. (Hell, it's only 6 words, but I'm in there. AND I made the study guide. Question 25. And thanks, Harper Collins. I wasn't nearly as suicidal until you pointed out what a crappy life I lead.) I'm a mom....a funny one, but a strict one, and God forbid, a MEAN one. (Or so I've been told.) I cry at animal movies and sad songs and magazine articles.

But yes, I've also described a former school employee as "That horrible woman with cankles," to Larry Potter's teacher. And she knew exactly of whom I was speaking. Snarky seeks out snarky.

So I guess it's my own fault when people's first instinct is to not take me too seriously. (But come on, this lady's cankles were unavoidable. It was like Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright were in an ankle threesome with Janet Reno. And maybe she had circulatory problems or something that made them so bad. Or maybe it was because she had no soul and no heart so the only place all her blood could go was to her lower extremities.) But I digress.

Yes, primarily why I started writing all of this was to amuse myself. But also, I have realized, as an extension of my former self. I had a small nervous breakdown in the passenger seat of my friend's car earlier this month about how my life is not how I thought it would be. Since then, I figured out that I may not be an academic writing poetry with an MFA (seriously, this would be the degree I would get if I went for my Masters...and then I could pick up my PhD in basket weaving, too) or doing hard hitting news reports or even my book tour and novel-signing, but I'm not exactly dead to the world. I write this blog. And as self-indulgent as it may seem (or even be), it's a contribution.

God, I'm full of myself.

Maybe I should just stick with funny.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crack for Kids

It's started.

The Halloween parties. The candy. The "I'm-not-hungry-for-dinner-but-I'll-have-30-fun-sized-packs-of-M&Ms."

And this is THE year. So far, every one of my kids have "gotten" Halloween the year they are three. Well, guess how old Mini-Me is.


Fill our bags with Snicker Crack or we'll cut your throat, lady
 I'm so screwed.

And with Hoover, when he figured out Halloween, it was like figuring out Sudafed could make Meth. Costumes = sugar addiction. It was a long drawn out withdrawal that November.

(And honestly, last year wasn't a picnic either.)

Is it too late to go ask the neighbors to give out pencils or stickers? (Yeah, like I'd EVER be that mom. But I can seen the appeal, a mere 5 days away from Skittle-geddon.)

And I don't want to talk about the chocolate mix Halloween candy I bought at Costco last week. That may or may not be half empty.

Do they make methadone for Halloween candy?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fur and Hiss

Today, the girls are guest posting on another blog, talking all about their pets and what they can learn from them. I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I feel like if I talk about my fur-kids today, it's totally ripping off K&L. But I may be okay with that, as I'm headed to Iowa this afternoon, and may not have the strength (or the wifi signal) to post this weekend.

Mozart
(And as I explained before, though I use fake names to protect the guilty in my human family, the pets want you to know their real names. Maybe its so you can send them treats.)

Our first baby, brought home 3 months before Larry Potter made his appearance. He was the runt of the litter...this little grey furball with yellow eyes; so cute, we took pictures of him every chance we got. In fact, days before LP was born, I was getting sick of the constant "Have you had the baby yet?" calls and emails, so I took a picture of Mo, attached it to an email and called it, "Pictures of the Baby." People were NOT happy with that.

And since 2002, he's endured moves (4 of them, actually), babies, toddlers, children (all with varying degrees of reluctancy), two other cats, and only 3 trips to the vet. (Animal lovers, take you finger off the speed dial to PETA...the last time I took him to the vet, he was red-flagged. Meaning they put a red flag on his file, saved for the really, really mean dogs. The vet had to wear hawk-handling gloves, and then told me that he was fine. She also may or may not have said that he was good for the rest of his life.)

Now, let me make this clear. He loves us. Years ago, I made the earth-shattering revelation that Mo was like me in cat form: he tolerated his own family, was nice to strangers, mean to those he feels threatens our family (even if it's just a babysitter or wayward in-law invading his space), likes to sit next to you but not on you, and would sell his soul for a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats. He doesn't like to be affectionate, but we know where we stand. When Hoover was a newborn sleeping in his crib, my father-in-law was over and trying to fix something upstairs. Mo stood on the landing of the stairs and would not let him by. Almost like, "There's a baby up there. It's not yours. And you look like you could take him. So get by ME first."

These days, Mo likes to go outside and greet his adoring public. My mom says he's interviewing for a new family, which could be true. He lets small children and foreign workers pet him on their way by our house. People have come up to me while I'm outside to ask where the cat is...people I don't know...and often in broken English. It's like Mo's own foreign advocacy group. But he's only liking this because they aren't in his house. To strangers, he's the nicest cat they've ever seen. To the people that have been inside our house, he's a threat to himself and others. It's a fine line.

Clark

A few months ago, our beloved other cat Max died. It was the hardest thing I've ever dealt with as an adult. Before we knew it, we got another cat. A kitten. And he was adorable. We brought him home and let the adorableness help our broken hearts.

So, it's only been a few months with Clark. And I can say without feeling guilty, that he is the dumbest cat alive. And I'm a cat person. Now, I know that he's in his teenage-rebellion cat phase right now, but I feel like natural selection is at work here. He climbs up on my kitchen counters (not my favorite, and yes MOM, I shoo him away) and then sits...with his back paws inside the toaster. I'm afraid for what happens the day he's too heavy to get up with out stepping back on his back paws...and toasting his hind legs.

A couple of weeks ago, I was headed downstairs when Clark was playing in the window in our staircase. He jumped up and came back down, with his tail getting caught in the cord for the blinds, Bugs Bunny style. He was hanging upside-down by his tail. Thank God I was there to set him free.

We have another window by where the cat food bowls are. I saw him sit with his hind legs in the window, stretching the front-half all the way down to his water dish to drink. Um, hey Clark, you have to go at it from
the other side...see where that space is in front of the bowl? You sit there.

And then there are the appliances. The dryer, sure, I understand. He's a cat....I've had other cats that try to sneak into the dryer...but when the clothes are warm and dry. He's trying to get in while I'm loading cold soggy clothes. And everytime I lift him out and shoo him away, he jumps right back in. He also tries the same thing with the same results in the dishwasher. And the refrigerator. Just yesterday, I saw him crouching down to jump into the washing machine. Maybe in another life, he worked for the Brothers Main.

The most dumb thing though is his interaction with Mozart. As explained, Mo is a very...particular...cat. And he's not happy with Clark's arrival. He lets him know this at every chance he gets. But Clark? Never a bent ear, never a hiss. Just a big, annoying jump on top of Mo wanting to play. Mo lets him know his disapproval by a hiss and a swat and a growl. But Clark just isn't learning. I've seen squirrels learn faster than Clark (and I have a bunch of inbred squirrels running around my yard. I've seen them carry legos to their nests).

(By the way, I'd love to include pictures of these guys. But my camera is 110 years old. So, if you want to send me a digital camera to review. I'll do it. I'll review the HELL out of it. And then I can post more pictures.)

But Clark is very snuggly, and he's definitely Mini-Me's cat. But somewhere along the line, he failed cat school. Like laying down on a person. He doesn't balance his weight correctly and as soon as he dozes off, he falls to the floor because his legs dangle off the couch while his head lays on a lap. And when I'm the computer, he comes up and sits on the girls so I can't see what I'm typing. (Okay, that may not be dumb cat behavior, but I find it particularly annoying, especially when he back the truck up so his unwiped kitty butthole is an inch from my nose.)

One of the girls refers to her cat as Kim Jong Il, the dictator of North Korea. If that's her cat, then Mo is an aging Mob Boss, and Clark is Patrick Star from Spongebob. I'm so proud.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Everybody Loves Donuts

Lemon-filled. Chocolate Glazed. Chocolate Frosted. French Cruller. Long John. Apple Cinnamon.

I don't discriminate. They're all good.

Up here in the Land of Beer and Cheese, a Dunkin' Donuts recently opened. And you'd think it was the Second Coming. People up here are jazzed, if not slightly confused, but the tourists are doing a Jersey Shore fist pump and loading up their Land Cruisers with the best powdered sugar pastry goodness this side of the state line.

Someone, a reputable source close to the owners of this particular franchise, told me that DD had to be convinced to allow this location to happen, since they don't go into any place with less than 8,000 people. And now, I hear we (because I'm totally jumping on this bandwagon) are like one of the top franchises and DD big wigs (Donut Masters? CE-Doughs?) came to visit and scratch their heads. They're located in Boston and apparently haven't heard of the Waterpark Capital of the World. (Registered Trademark of Romy Snyder. And her adult braces.)

But, for the obesity problem in America, DD can only spell trouble. Because, as the title of this blog points out, Everybody Loves Donuts. I think Donut Love may even surpass Bacon Love, but the statistics aren't back yet to support this theory. Think about it. In my lifetime, the only people I've ever known to turn down a donut were people with gluten problems and people on a diet...and those people suffered from Donut Envy.

Which leads me to my donut problem. Many-a-diet have ended because of donuts. But today, I was able to get my free coffee (Thanks DD promotion!) and a donut for Mini-Me. I was tempted. Very tempted. There may still be drool on their counters. But I didn't get one. Score one for me.

But they all looked so good. And lonely. But that's okay...they'll all get good homes because
EVERYBODY LOVES DONUTS.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Follow me...everything is all right....

Whoa...2001 Uncle Kracker.

Anywho...big news! You can now get the Snarky Facebook love delivered to your Facebook start-up page! I know! How much BETTER could your day GET?!

And now lets see if I know how to do this....

The Snarky Mom - Now on Facebook!

And when Oprah (or Oprah's replacement) comes calling, I'll be sure to tell her of this momentous day and how YOU decided to be my fan.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Iowa, part II

I sent my friend S a link to my blog last night, as she has direct Iowan experience, and I saw that she came to the blog via her email this morning.

I wrote to her and asked her what she thought, but also included a little gem I forgot to include in my original corn-fueled post.

At her wedding this past spring, Disgruntled Husband was sticking like a corn thumb.(This wedding, in San Antonio, was wonderful and cultural and full of foods that places like Iowa and Wisconsin only try to make...and has forever made me cringe at the thought of Taco Bell.)

So, at the rehearsal dinner, DH and S's step-aunts and uncles (her stepdad's brothers and sisters) hit it off. Had a grand old time with each other. And the next day, the day of the wedding, I was busy with wedding stuff, so they took DH under their collective wing and they toured San Antonio together.

Do I need to say it? The step-aunts and uncles were all from Iowa originally. It's like an Iowan tracking device...they can all smell the corn on each other.

Her response to my email? That her parents were just down last week and looking at the wedding album. Her step-dad commented just how much his relatives loved DH. Of course they did.

I was just upstairs telling all of this to DH, who is still in bed even thought it's closer to lunchtime than to dawn, and just to mess with him, I asked him if there was a Jeopardy category on famous Iowans, would he be able to clean up?

He said, from under the covers, "If I name five famous Iowans, will you leave me alone?"

And here were his answers:
-Johnny Carson
-John Wayne
-Herbert Hoover
- Tom Arnold
-Ashton Kutcher

State pride, dude. State pride. And yes, then I let him go back to sleep.

Idiots Out Wandering Around

Tonight's post is dedicated to the fabulous Ms. M.




I thought you'd like that. This is the song my kids and I have been singing for a few weeks, ever since Disgruntled Husband,an Iowan, played it for us.

(So in the interest of not offending anyone, if you're from Iowa and don't have a sense of humor about it, why don't you go to this site and read about all the great tourist options there are for the corn state.)

Good, you're still here.

So, my husband is from Iowa. It's not a secret. He knows it, I know it; we've accepted it. I married him anyway. We don't live in Iowa, and life is good.

Except...my in-laws still live in Iowa. So does my friend's in-laws. Tonight, we were comparing notes and stories. Say what you will about stereotypes and how bad they are, but stereotypes, at least the ones we were creating tonight about Iowa, were created for a reason: because they're TRUE.

For example, tonight we discovered that both our in-laws threw a 2nd wedding reception for their son's...my husband and myself, and friend and her husband. It was kind of odd that this happened to us both. Some differences, though...while hers had a vacation theme, mine had a live accordion player.

(Let that sink in for a minute. I had a 2nd wedding reception. In Iowa. With an ACCORDION PLAYER.)

There were other similarities, but I will not embarrass her by telling them.
But that doesn't stop me from telling my own observations.
(This is a fine line here. DH gets a little persnickity when I start picking on Iowa. But really, doesn't it just pick on itself?)

There's a line from Sweet Home Alabama that goes something like, "You should need a passport for entering the state." Now, Little Miss Reese wasn't talking about Iowa, but she could have been. We go to Iowa maybe once every 3 months. DH is from the Amana Colonies. If you don't know where or what that is, don't worry. It's because you are not over the age of 50. Once you hit the AARP years, you are required to visit Amana. It's like getting a flu-shot or signing up for social security.

Now, in all fairness, I spent plenty of time in Iowa myself. I went to school in the Quad Cities (and if you don't know where or what that is, it's because you're not into John Deere equipment or like to gamble on boats floating on the Mississippi River), and because of that, much of the money from ages 18 to 22 was spent in Davenport and Bettendorf, IA. (Seriously. Say Bettendorf a few times. THEN tell me I shouldn't pick on Iowa.)

But, I never lived there. And DH had the good sense to leave. But what about the other 3 Million people that haven't made it out? I feel like there should be some sort of charity created to deal with this.

It's not that Iowa is a bad place. It's just that I feel like it's a few years behind the rest of the country. Some counties, that would be even more years. For what they have in good football teams and great schools, I've found they lack in common sense. (And yes, I realize I'm jumping back and forth referring to the state as a whole and the people that live in it. But come on. The people that live there KNOW they're "Iowa." It's not just a state, it's a state of mind.)

And yes, admitted, most of my opinions of Iowa are based on a few key people that live there. And yes, most of these people are related to my husband. It doesn't mean I love them any less. It just means I feel sorry for their geographical stake in life.

What makes it so bad? Besides the ever-present threat of meth labs (they smell like cat pee! That's a known fact!), there's the lingering smell of corn sweetener in the air over Cedar Rapids...and no it isn't sweet. It's the lack of multi-culturalness. It's that they have a whole museum dedicated to Herbert Hoover, and that my husband's high school had awesome jazz band ensembles, but the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state, plus never had my husband take a class to learn how to balance a check book.

One lady I know from Iowa, when told I was from outside Chicago, assumed I've been mugged, lived next door to the Sears Tower, and dealt with bad traffic every day. Iowans don't understand the concept of suburbs...because the word suburb comes from a sub (meaning below or little) urban area. Where's Iowa's urban area? Oh, that's right, CHICAGO.

Also, when I tried to explain the concept of a Costco to someone, I said it was like a Sam's Club, but a little classier. I was told, "Doesn't Sam's Club just have business stuff?"

Oh, Iowa, you have so much to learn. And I can't possibly teach you all.

The people that settled Iowa didn't really want to end up there, but just got tired of walking.

(I feel like the SNL skits about David Patterson talking trash about New Jersey.)

Oh Iowa. Every time I travel through Dubuque and think about how that was the location of a whole week's vacation in my husband's childhood, I die a little inside.

DH tells me in his snarkiest tone, "We feed the world, damn it." But yet last month, couldn't tell me how to figure out if it was time to pick the corn I planted or not. A lot of feeding he did, I see.

(There are cool people I know from Iowa. My husband's cousins are pretty cool. My step-aunt and cousins are too. So Sonya, Sam, Chris, Kelsey and Ethan....see what you can do to help the rest of your state.)

I'm not saying the Land of Beer and Cheese is so much better than Iowa. After all, here you can drink at a bar at any age, as long as you either have your parents or your husband with you. (That puts it all in perspective, doesn't it?) But I'm also not from here originally. I feel like I should put both these points on my resume.

Okay, okay. I'll stop. But tell me this isn't true...every person you've ever met from Iowa...they all kinda remind you of each other, don't they?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Message from the Clean Clothes Fairy

Up here in Beer and Cheese land, the Clean Clothes Fairy is getting pretty sick and tired of all the Leichs' family shenanigans and has threatened to walk if we don't give in to her demands. I found this note written in Tide on top of the washing machine:

Dear Users of the Clean Clothes Fairy laundry services:


I'm only a fairy, for crying out loud. What are you trying to do to me? Night after night I do your laundry and magically put them in your drawers so you can have clean clothes the next day. Your familial matriarch has contacted me regarding gaps in my service. These are not gaps, but rather a problem with your family's laundry habits. I can't do my job if you don't do yours.


1.) I can only do laundry I see. The laundry of late I've been doing of Larry Potter and Hoover's has pretty much been only PJs and shirts. I'm not sure if your school's dress code has changed, but last I heard, underwear and pants are required. Are they taking them off and setting them on fire? Because I can't seem to find them, though I am assured that they have plenty clothes. Maybe have them check their new carpeting of Old Navy jeans and Fruit of the Looms. Or perhaps that's not carpeting MOM,

[Editor's note: Sounds like she gets a little snarky herself.]

2.) Not to point any fingers, but maybe someone could pre-soak the, ahem, biological stains. I know boys sometime have a few issues in that department, but really, do you want to expose all of the other clothes to this. Especially when the stains don't come out the first time. Think about it.

3.)Do you not know what a laundry basket is for? I put your clean clothes in there merely as a transportation and collection method before you are to put the clothes in their respective drawers. What is NOT used for? Storing the clothes. You have dressers for a reason. Please use them.

If I don't see improvement soon, I will replace your detergent with the extra-allergic kind and forgo the dryer sheets. Don't believe me? Just try me.

Up yours,
CC Fairy

Monday, October 4, 2010

A pre-conference letter

Dear Hoover's Teacher,

I have bitten my fingernails down as far as they can go and have developed some sort of gastrological problems today as I watched the clock tick down to our conference. I have an hour before I meet with you, and I'd like a chance to plead my case before I get there.

I see that you have not included an end-time for my conference with you today. This scares me. Hoover is my middle child; this is not my first time to the dance. I know how it works. Except my conferences with Larry Potter's teachers have always been scheduled for early afternoon...and for 15 minutes. I heard through the school grapevine that the evening conferences are saved for the problem children. My time is at 6 p.m. and I'm pretty sure I'm your last one of the day.

Hoover is a wonderful boy full of creative mischief. And by creative mischief, I mean he could probably hotwire your car in the time it takes for you to take care of another student's bathroom emergency. Knowing what my son is capable of does not make my Pepto consumption any less for today. He doesn't tell me the fine details of his day, and I am assuming you will have a story or two for me. Just keep in mind what I told you at back to school night --keep all tools locked up. You thought I was kidding, and that is your mistake. If you have a stray hammer or screwdriver on your desk, no doubt my son has found it, used it, and probably had it confiscated.

I am trying my best to not be a giant pain-in-the-tush this year. If you need reference for this comment, please see LP's former teachers. But here's the thing dear teacher, Hoover is not LP. It's not fair to compare your children, but as a courtesy to you I will tell you how unprepared I am for our meeting tonight. LP's teachers biggest complaints were always that he blurted out the answers (correctly) before the other kids could answer. I have a feeling you and I will be talking about Hoover's love of body part-talk and penchant for large mood swings, typical of the most emo teenager. And, I'm pretty sure we'll be talking about those dreaded initials ADD.

I'm not a bad mom. I know your problems with my child because I have the same complaints. Except one of us has a degree in early childhood education. It's not me.

I'm now focusing on bigger things for tonight, like what to wear, because honestly, I feel I can at least control how I look when all of shit fingerpaint hits the fan.

Looking forward to your compliments, even if its just on my earrings,
The Snarky Mom