Road Snacks

“We’re back… in the car… again…”
~ Timmy (Jurassic Park 1993)

Ayup, it’s travel time (tomorrow). Hooray… The Pike, Michigan, Wisconsin, grab the kid, turn around, come back. I like the middle part of that. I like the sleeping at mom and dad’s and visiting with siblings part. But I do feel a little like Timmy every time we make this trip. At least there’s no dinosaur looking to eat me on the trip.

So in my normal routine of things, I tossed some clothes and my laptop into the magical traveling backpack. Filled up with gas and checked the oil. And headed to grab snacks and drinks for the road. And stopped.

Now there are things that are standard—sugar, carbs and healthy snacks, aka licorice, sandwiches and carrots. But as I reached for the licorice I stopped and thought about why I always get red licorice for any kind of long trip.

I blame my mother.

Yes, I blame her for a lot of things. It’s okay, she accepts and acknowledges it really is her fault when I do this. This time, it goes back to my childhood. I always get red licorice because she always did. In those days it was the super long skinny strings you had to untangle (which I think were meant to keep us busy), now it’s strawberry Twizzlers.

So since it’s Thursday—oh come on, you saw that coming—let’s make it a Q&A blog. What roadtrip food (or any special treat for that matter) comes from your childhood? Do you consciously hang on to it because it comes from that, or is it now habit with origins you only occasionally ponder?

Tell me what your licorice is… and give me something to think about while I’m driving through Michigan debating some new snack food for the trip.




Post-Con Fail

redvelvetYep, it’s Monday. Nope, there’s no real blog. Hell, it’s taken this much of Monday to screw my head back on straight.

Yep, it’s post-con. Yep, the notebook came back for a zombie-style appearance. Nope, there’s no real writeup.

Easily my favorite con, and one I hope to never miss, but I didn’t really con like I would normally. I had a specific agenda—a 2-part plan. Powwow with a little brother. Hug, hold and smother a big sister with love. I did those things. Everything else was just butter-cream frosting on my lovely red velvet cake.

So while there is no real write-up, there is a post-con nod to a little brother and big sister. And a thank you. To old friends and new. To late nights and late morning starts. To sparklers and unicorns, burning books & timely bladders. To sunrise surprises and sunset meals. To 4am doorbells that come with smiles and roommates that don’t kill the messengers. To uncles that mentor and sisters that giggle. To frozen pudding and Watership Down. To Elvis on velvet and bunnies. To cake. To frosting. To Necon.

See ya’ll next year.

What Counts

prettyflowerI suck. I know. I haven’t blogged this week. Been busy. Been dealing with the emotional void of my kids being gone for the summer and busying myself with cleaning the house and editing. Here are some fleeting thoughts I’ve had since the roadtrip home…

My son still gives me flowers (see image). He may be gone for a few months, but I had the picture on my desktop and saw it. And smiled. Of course, nothing has changed since was old enough to pick them—he still steals them from random yards. But the thought is what counts.

Amanda “cleaned” her room before she left for the summer. Clean is apparently subjective. I’ve stolen all the laundry baskets back and set mousetraps and mothballs. The crime scene tape will be put up soon. I could clean it for her, but I don’t know what she’s hiding in plain sight (aka the disaster zone) and wouldn’t want to appear to be snooping. I may want to strangle her some days, but I will always respect her privacy. That counts for something, right?

A spotted fawn staggered in front of us on the road trip last weekend. Hippie’s eyes lit up, “I want to pet it! Do you want an adventure?” I pulled over, turned around, and we went back to make sure the stagger was youth not injury. It was motherless but not hurt and ran away from him like a canadian covered in bacon grease. Thank goodness, because then he told me it was the metaphorical midget goat and he was going to grab it and bring it home. No live specimens! But he was trying to be helpful to what he thought was an injured critter. Failed or not, the thought is what counts.

Finally, as you may have gathered from twitter and/or facebook, I threw my back out. Holding the hose in one hand, I tried to heft the mostly empty and now clean pool with the other. The combination of weight (it’s filled with air, it should have been light!) and the twisting action was more than this old gypsy body could take. I froze when my back made that horrible “pop” sound. A few moments later, I realized I wasn’t breathing because I hadn’t taken Lamaze classes. See, this past weekend my sister and I were talking about Lamaze because I didn’t have it and told her I knew how to breathe. My sister claims that Lamaze is to teach you to breathe through pain because it’s our tendency to hold our breathe in pain. I disagreed. The universe proved me wrong. Rather than make up new swear words, I laughed as the thought flitted through my head and began breathing again. Yes, I hurt myself, but I laughed at myself. And so long as we can laugh at ourselves, that’s all that counts…

In the big scheme of things, when life is throwing water balloons at you and stress is breaking your sense of humor, remember what truly counts. If you can’t think of anything off the top of your head, stop what you’re doing and do something that truly counts. Whether it’s a thought, an action, or simply a gesture. In the end, some things count. Others just don’t.


Crunch-n-Munch-Blow-Up1…we are SO done!!

Welcome to Wednesday, hereafter known as Snark Day. For those that don’t understand the beginning of this, or the title for that matter, let me tell you a story. Actually, this blog, much like the new and improved Crunch ‘n Munch, is going to have popcorn, peanuts and caramel.

Popcorn: Last year at Necon, while waiting in line to get our Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, Alethea and I were scanning the tabloids and saw that the stars of Twilight had broken up. No, we didn’t care, but it became great fodder for a conversation where the teenagers should break up via Twitter. Thus the in-joke of “@kristen: we are so done” was born. Of course, the kernels of popcorn on the bottom of the container should include that we then fell in love with our coffee barista and her name was Kristen and we had a little guilt because she might have heard us saying that loudly. But just a little. And then we found out @kristen is a real person and seems kinda sweet and we had a little guilt again. But just a little. So yes, we still use this!

Now why do I bring that up? Because it’s a great story and because it’s how I felt about my bank yesterday when I found out they had twitter. Welcome to the peanut gallery, er, peanut section of our Crunch ‘n Munch.

Soooo… my bank, we’ll call it Em&Fee and protect my butt like my lawyer suggested I do, is NOT full of the awesome. It is full of the stupid. I paid my bills (because I’m good like that) and saw that one marked for another date decided to come through. Now this particular week was tight, but I paid everything knowing that I would have just enough to do it and have a safety net in the account that I use for the online bill paying. I saw the odd bill go through online before the bank was even open, RAN to the bank and stalked their locked doorway, and then burst through and put extra money in so that everything would be covered and beautiful. I asked the teller and she said the account was fine and that I did the right thing and all was good. I went to work and life was back where it was supposed to be.

And then TWO DAYS LATER they charged me $190 in bounced check fees for checks they not only paid, but paid from a balance that existed! Excuse me?

So I called Wonder Woman, the lovely bank manager that hasn’t had sex in 17 years and doesn’t even remember how to spell orgasm, and asked her “what the hell they thought they were doing?” She tried to calmly tell me the cable bill caused a bounce. I told her that the money was there and that I had a screen shot of said bill coming through and that there was a balance after everything cleared (and I did, it was open on my laptop and ready to be printed and shoved down her throat). I then asked her, with my out-of-practice-but-still-effective Wench voice, to explain to me “exactly why they thought they should charge people for bouncing when nothing bounced.” She tried to tell me that things bounced because of the bounce charge.

I waited for her to realize what she had said.

She didn’t catch it. Apparently, if you go for too long without an orgasm your brain just shuts off and they give you a management position. Long story short, I threatened to call the D.A. for unlawful charges, the BBB, ruin her job, destroy her marriage and I may have accidentally threatened her children. But she still claimed they would not return the charges. “Fine, I’m calling the D.A.” Seems if you say something enough times, it gets through the vaginal cobwebs of her brain and she decided to “look into it and call me back”. Whatever.

Meanwhile, I went to the credit union I’ve been meaning to switch to and opened a new account. I’m done with that bank. @Em&Fee: we are so done! I met Connie, giggled, laughed, got both a background check and a terrorist-list check (which we also giggled about, because really? Terrorists use their real information to open accounts? Yes, Connie said, amazingly, they do). I got a shiny new debit card ordered and $10 just for being pretty. And as I was leaving Awesome Union, where they offer you not one pen but a box of pens, Em&Fee called me back.

Wonder Women declared that it was indeed a bank error and they would be refunding the money. (Damn skippy, you are!!) And when I said “Fine. Thank you. I’m closing the account as soon as my direct deposits are confirmed at my new bank, because you’re full of the stupid” she began to tell me about exciting new offers that were coming up…

Welcome to the caramel portion of the box. The sticky residue that won’t go away. The boyfriend you dumped that just doesn’t get it. “We’re done, honey. Done. We broke up. You need to get your toothbrush and coffee cup and get the hell out of my house.”

And she told me about a new option for “our customers” that would be coming in the mail and that I needed to return it by August so that they would know which way I wanted my debit card to be charged from now on.

Helllooooo… McFly?!! I split the spice cabinet, I went through the photos, I took that necklace your mother gave me, and I filed the papers. I get full custody, you’re paying alimony, and we have a court date next Tuesday for Christ’s sake. We’re done!

She didn’t get it. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t get it. Because as I’m writing this, I got an email from Em&Fee telling me that I can now do mobile text banking. I think I’ll sign their Twitter account up for midget porn…

Fish, Family and Friends

It’s an old rule in our family, “Fish, Family and Friends are only good for three days before they spoil.” My own house is more relaxed, perhaps because I don’t like fish all that much so I give friends more time. Or perhaps it’s because I’m still in the honeymoon phase of actually living near my friends, and in some odd sense am stuck in this perpetual con loop… I keep expecting the weekend to be over. But there are no more planes. I moved. I did. Eventually, that will sink in, take root, and I’ll say it without a look of shock and feeling of incomprehension. But I digress…

This trip I was in Wisconsin for over a week—rather than dropping off one weekend and picking up the next with far too much driving in between—well past the three day marker. And it was ok. I was gone from home for too long, but I wasn’t at my mom and dad’s for too long. I don’t get to see them much anymore, and it was the holidays, and there were family and friends and it wasn’t just me sitting on their couch like a lump. Though, truth be told, I brought work with me and did spend quite a bit of time sitting on the couch like a lump, but I was working and getting paid to be a lump.

Technically, I went bad sometime on Tuesday with the fish. But I was quick frozen, rejuvenated, whatever, by the injection of friends at that point. My new expiration date became Thursday, but my brothers were there by then and I was pardoned again to spend time with them.

But the point is, I didn’t spoil. Maybe it’s because I’m lucky—and know it, appreciate it—and have a family that gets along. My siblings and I don’t fight and argue whenever we’re together. We’re nothing like the families shown on television. We’re a sitcom, but not because of the infighting, more because of the insanity. We giggle and laugh well into the night. We have midnight margaritas. We catch up and then toss real life aside in the name of silliness. We have serious conversations and intelligent debates, and then we do a feeb count! My family is mental, and I wouldn’t have them any other way.

And as I sit like a lump on mom’s couch one last morning, and wish the clock would fast forward to drive time—because even though it’s 19 hours of hell on the road, the other side of the rainbow equals home—I’m thinking over the last eight days. I’m asking the family questions and remembering what made this vacation, this Thanksgiving, worth remembering…and am damn glad I’m not a fish.

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