Monday, June 29, 2009

Hey! Represent ME, WIll Ya????

No humor today, just a copy of the letter I just sent to my PA State senators with regard to the new pending legislation to restrict tobacco sales via mail. Feel free to copy it, edit it to make it your own, and share it with your own state senators. Whether you smoke or not, it's time to stop allowing our government to micromanage us and restrict our ability to make our own choices regarding any activity that is legal in this country. I'm a big gurl, I can make my own decisions, thankyouverymuch.
To Senators Arlen Specter and Robert Casey,

Please stop the ongoing blatant discrimination against smokers. I understand paying taxes to "give back" for my addiction (addiction, NOT "habit"... though I readily admit an addiction I enjoy) and am in a financial position that this doesn't put an undue hardship on me (the majority who are targeted by these taxes are not), but restricting my ability to purchase tobacco through the mail so I can smoke the all natural Native American cigarette brand of my choice is not beneficial to anyone and really is nothing short of discrimination. Not only will this restrict my right to smoke completely additive-free tobacco (and we both know the new government-mandated babysitting of tobacco will not significantly change the mainstream tobacco products I prefer not to smoke) but it will detrimentally affect the Native American Nations and companies who distribute their products in the midst of the worst economy I have seen in my (thus far, very healthy) 49 years.

Smoking tobacco is legal and until it is not, it is my right to choose whether I smoke or not and where I choose to purchase it. By contrast, prescription drugs are quickly becoming the most abused drugs in this country, and are readily available through the mail. Even more pointedly, I could easily buy a gun online and negatively affect a whole lot more people in mere seconds than I ever will in my lifetime as a result of smoking. It's time to put things into proper perspective and for government to stop parading peacock-proud because they bask in the glow of the brownie points they earn by attacking the "easy" controversial issues while ignoring the matters that are infinitely more important to our society as a whole. In case you haven't noticed, this nation has lost its patience with "business as usual."

Smoking has already been so restricted that it physically affects no one other than the smoker, and cigarettes have been taxed above and beyond the call of duty to defray the health care costs attributed to smokers. Enough is enough... I have a loud voice and use it, I smoke, and I VOTE. As my representative I EXPECT you to support my rights to do anything I choose to do within the law and make sure that choice is afforded the same rights as every other industry in this country. It's time for YOU to represent ME.

Susan Maxwell Schmidt

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh How I Love to Nibbles on Dem Mousie Feets!

So, lately I've been seeing ads for "indoor cat food." Supposed to supply all the nutrition your "indoor cat" needs. As opposed to what? An outdoor cat, obviously. An outdoor cat that apparently has a very different diet from an indoor cat. All that being said, can you imagine how the ingredient list of the "indoor cat" food must read?

Ingredients: Bacon suet, sunflower oil, motor oil, bunny entrails, mouse by products, cheese, your neighbor's chicken, dead racoon liver, easily digestible garbage can protein, baby bird eggs, hospital waste kidney meat, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisol), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), folic acid, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, rock salt, propylene glycol (from antifreeze), corn cob, calcium carbonate (from expired Rolaids), ferrous sulfate (from licking rusted iron), manganese sulfate, roadkill bone meal, zinc oxide, Vitamins A, B, D#, supplements, sewer water sufficient for processing

Yeah. Whoever paid for this marketing campaign needs to be fired yesterday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Apparently I am!

Plinky asks what celebrities we've met in real life.

When I was a kid I lived on Long Island and every Christmas season Mom and I would make the trek to NYC for the whole fantasy shopping experience. This particular year (I'm gonna guess I was 8 or 9 or so) we made a stop at FAO Schwartz (a famous upscale toy store, for the uninitiated). At the time Schwartz's had a slide on the landing between the two floors, and I of course could not continue to live if I didn't go down it. Oblivious to all but my own self-satisfaction, I climbed the stairs, got on the rather lengthy slide (to me, but I wasn't that big at the time so my perspective is likely skewed), and slid down to the bottom. As soon as my feet brush the hem of a floor-length mink coat I realize there is a huge circle of people looking at me like I am absolutely out of my mind. My shy (no, really, I swear), paranoid self froze with the fear I had done something on the scale of wiping out an entire civilization, and my mother had to lean over and take my hand to get me up. She whispered to me, "Do you know who that is?" I didn't. Apparently I had run my grubby little shoes into Elizabeth Taylor, who was there with hubby-of-the-moment Richard Burton and a few of their kids. I have to admit that I was devastated to see that Liz, for some unfathomable reason, didn't wear "The Diamond" she had just recently acquired from her still-enraptured hubby when she was out toy shopping (I mean, c'mon... *I* would), and though I started my love of gemstones at an early age (and I'm sure all the news stories about the Taylor/Burton love affair with each other and gemstones large enough to be named had a good deal to do with that), I hadn't yet acquired my taste for fur. Though I do have a passion for a beautiful lush fox or lavender mink now, even back then I had my priorities in their proper order... still do. Jewels *always, always, ALWAYS* trump fur. And I'm just bettin' Elizabeth agrees.

The Faces of a Rolling Stone

This one could just as easily be filed under "One of the Most Embarrassing Moments of of my Life." In the late 80s I tended bar on the University of Delaware campus at a landmark nightclub called "The Stone Balloon." I wasn't exactly a kid at the time, I worked there from age 27-29 while I went to college (I had finally finished having "the good life" and figured it was time to get down to business).

The Stone Balloon was a big venue. National acts such as Iggy Pop, Meatloaf, Greg Allman and oddly enuf, The Charlie Daniels Band were booked to play there. On this particular night, Ron Wood (nice guy) and Bo Didley (major asshole) were doing the honors, and I was working the front bar.

Now, keep in mind this is a *college* bar. This means the crowd is wild, drinking like mad, and the bartenders are moving at the speed of light if they want to keep their jobs. I happened to be very good at this, mostly because I could care less if I worked up a good sweat and ended up completely covered in beer and orange juice by the end of the night (a concoction we referred to fondly as "Balloon Scum")... or at least I usually didn't care. It was not a good idea to work there if you were too concerned about leaving looking (or smelling) anything like you did when you arrived.

Elvin Steinberg owned the Balloon at the time, and he decided I was going to be his bartender for the night. He sat at my bar and I dutifully served him rock glasses full of Chivas all night long, filling 'er up before he ever saw the bottom of the glass. I'm no fool, I knew which side of my bread was buttered. Little did I know I was about to be "honored" for my hard work and devoted attention.

It's the end of the night, I am a mess and completely covered from head to toe in Balloon Scum. My makeup is no more than a memory and I am sure that I smell more like the disgusting remnants from a distillery than the Anais Anais I had applied before leaving the house. The musicians are up in the dressing room, the lights are up, and the last stragglers are leaving the bar. Elvin is apparently three sheets to the wind and thrilled with my bartending capabilities.

"So, you're a fan of the Rolling Stones, right?"

"No, not particularly, but I'm a HUGE fan of The Faces."

To this day I'm still sure I was the only one in the entire club who knew the words to "Ooh La La" when Woody sang it. Granted, it was my undying love for the hard drinking, seriously rock and rollin', long-by-this-time-gone-persona of Rod Stewart that inspired my undying love for The Faces. And btw, if you love the Black Crowes, you really have to check out The Faces. They did it first, and they did it better (Black Crowes fan that I am).

"Well, you've done such a good job tonight, we're gonna go upstairs and meet Ron Wood."

Ummm... huh? You're kidding right?

I've never been much of a stargazer and frankly, I wouldn't even want to meet George Bush adorned in Balloon Scum and sweat, and I *despise* him. Unfortunately, I have a more pressing issue. My boss is favoring me with something that is apparently supposed to honor me to no end, and he wasn't exactly planning on doing the same for any of the other half dozen or so bartenders who busted ass that night. I was The Chosen One and I could tell by his attitude that gushing with much appreciation on my part was expected.

I did give it as much thought as I figured I could get away with before answering, but couldn't quickly come up with a way to gracefully back out of this one. After all, I had apparently accomplished my mission to keep the boss happy, I just hadn't realized there would be consequences to pay for my efforts. How do you turn down a gift the person who pays you is sure you are going to consider to be The Shit? Well, if you're smart, you don't. I reluctantly acquiesced. I reasoned the ordeal would be over quickly, that I would escape unscathed in no time at all and get home to my longed-for shower, and Elvin would be content that he did me right.


Up we go to the dressing room, and we make a beeline for the bar. Elvin now decides he is going to honor me with being *my* bartender and starts serving up drinks. I'm standing next to Bo Didley, and if I wanted to make this diatribe even longer than it already is, now would be the time to explain why Bo Didley was a huge asshole. Perhaps Plinky will provide an appropriate prompt for that story down the road, so I'll save it.

Some chick who was a friend of Elvin's and apparently knew Woody comes into the bar and starts talking to Elvin. Ellvin asks her where Woody is and explains he has brought me up to meet him. And with that, the horror begins.

This chick goes running into the dressing room screaming, "Woody! Woody, c'mere, this girl REALLY wants to meet you!"

OH... MY... GOD. Just shoot me now. Please. IN THE HEAD.

I tried to hide my face in my hand and started slowly trying to shrink down behind the bar, frantically planning my escape route through the side room, to the door and down the stairs as stealthily as possible. Just as I had almost managed to sink low enough to employ my plan I hear, "Hi! I'm Woody." I took this as a sign that my escape plan had gone horribly wrong.

"Hi." Weak smile as I nonchalantly stood back up.

Now, I gotta admit, for as horrible as this was up to this point, and granted that there was little that was going to improve this situation, Woody sure did his best to make it an enjoyable experience. And considering he was entirely oblivious to my angst, I will be eternally grateful.

He grabbed me by the hand (at least *that* was clean, bartenders wash an awful lot of glasses), drug me into the side room, and sat me down at a table. He asked someone for a piece of paper, and when presented with a paper towel, scrawled an autograph on it for me (which I suspect I still have somewhere). We chatted about unimportant things like the crowd and how busy it was, and briefly discussed the music he had played. I told him how much I adored The Faces and that I'd be front and center if they ever managed a reunion. Hard as it was to resist, I was wise enough not to ask him any questions about Roderick, as much as he would have been my main focus if I could have made the best of the situation without the fear of insulting this person who was so incredibly nice and certainly had much more right to be an ass than Bo Didley did... afterall, Woody is a Rolling Stone [insert appropriate swooning here]. His wife popped in and said hello as well. Also very sweet.

My ordeal ended quickly and much better than the stressful, angst-ridden way it had progressed from the beginning would have suggested. I reasoned that Ron Wood met so many people he would instantaneously forget all about my Balloon Scum-ridden self as I finally made my escape down the stairs, only to be met by a circle of bartenders and bouncers who apparently also thought my experience must have been The Shit. As far as I know, they still do... unless any of them Plink.

I'm a Starr

When I was reeeeeeal little (I'm guessing six or so), I met this long-haired hippy guy walking down the sidewalk outside our Long Island home. He handed me a tiny sample box of Bold detergent and told me to give it to my mother. I asked him who he was and he replied, "Ringo Starr." I suspect that given my age he didn't think I would question why a multimillionaire rock star who couldn't even walk down a street without being mobbed would be handing out detergent samples (he was right), much less that I'd even know who Ringo Starr was, but the fact of the matter was that I had three much older brothers, the oldest of whom, Gene, was determined to destroy every Hi-Fi speaker in the house by blasting The Beatles with the volume turned up all the way to 11. Not only did I know who Ringo Starr was, I had named my cat Ringo... after my favorite Beatle (at the time). I chose to believe he was who he said he was. Still do.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hey kid, c'mere. See this? It's a laser turret. Lemme show you how it works...

Plinky asks what lessons I would instill in my kids...

I don't have kids for a reason. The neighbors have kids, which is why I have laser turrets. OK, not really, but if I did have 'em, I'd use 'em.

The neighbors to the north of me recently moved their trampoline to the other side of the yard and now it's about an acre away. Not only would this make for much tougher moving targets, I now have less incentive to make such a huge investment in James Bond-type weaponry. The neighbor on my other side has a trampoline too. She moved hers after I asked her if she'd send the squirrels she complained about destroying it over to the other neighbor's when they they were through. I don't think she appreciated my humor but my husband and I thought it was pretty damn funny. At least we now have about three acres between trampolines and in the summer when all the zillions of trees have leaves, we can pretty much live in ignorant bliss. Which reminds me, I gotta put out more corn for the squirrels. A local squirrel is a useful squirrel.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tornado Event Horizon

Tornadoes in southeastern Pennsylvania. Exactly how often does that happen? This isn't exactly Tornado Alley, it's actually pretty much The Land That Weather Forgot. In fact, anyone who has been playing along since the beginning of Reality Check knows that I started my journey into the blogging abyss with a post regarding my own personal inability to get snowed on, no matter how hard I try. So, is it any wonder this was the satellite map of an urgent tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service today? The box is so small and precise that it may as well have been issued as "Urgent Tornado Warning for Susan Maxwell Schmidt's House." Thankfully the "tornado event" didn't pan out to be any more than dime-sized hail.

As long as I live here, you will NEVER see this with a blizzard warning.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Kids, Love 'em or Leave 'em. LEAVE 'EM! Nono, Really... TRUST Me! DON'T DO IT!!!!

It occurs to me that in all my 49 years, I have only met one woman who was genuinely happy to be a parent. Really, just one. Granted, she was also "born again" and perfectly willing to do the "lord and master" bit as well, so I'm not sure my lone example can even be considered to be in full control of her mental faculties less a good example of the opposing argument. That being said however, simply knowing her well and being intimately aware of her outlook on life makes me unable to honestly say "no" woman I ever met was happy to be a parent. The rest of 'em should have talked to me first.

I just don't understand the attraction. I suppose my first question is the most basic.


OK, mebbe my first question would actually be "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKIN'???" but I'm trying really hard to be diplomatic here.

When it comes right down to it, I gotta admit the reasoning behind the entire concept completely escapes me. My life and the ability to rule almost every aspect of it is indubitably the most treasured possession I own. I can't understand why giving up that ability would appeal to anyone. What is the attraction? There obviously is some kind of awfully powerful one of which I am blissfully ignorant, as plenty of women are practically desperate to have kids beforehand, it's only after the deed is done that they rethink the intelligence of the decision. And they always do. Other than the afore-mentioned questionably sane person, every woman I have known well enough to share such intimacies (and several I didn't) has regretted the decision, at least to some extent. Maybe it is nothing more than some deeply ingrained instinct to procreate. I don't know if I can buy into even that though, we've certainly evolved far enough along to be able to out-think most of our instincts. I for one have no desire to hoard nuts and berries to tide me over the winter months.

All that being said, can you imagine the pros and cons list if one were to make one before embarking on this tenuous journey? One based on the assumption that everything will go as well as can be expected, of course (and by that I mean everyone is physically and mentally healthy, and your kid doesn't grow up so maladjusted they end up putting out an all-points bulletin for your car and Phillip Jr. after they find your body parts strewn throughout your home).

Shall we? Oh yes, let's!

I get to enjoy the beauty and romance of pregnancy. I will absolutely glow!

I will suffer extreme mood swings, gain 40lbs. (if I'm lucky), puke my guts up every morning for months, likely get hemorrhoids the size of Ohio, have unbearable back pain, stretch my skin so far it scars (what exactly do you think "stretch marks" are?), contemplate if murdering my husband is a viable option as my hormone levels fluctuate wildly, and have to buy an entirely new wardrobe I will wear for five months, tops. I will not make love to my sweetie/devil-incarnate, or even find a comfortable position in which to sleep for that matter, for several months. Then I will experience pain for hours on end far beyond any I have ever previously known, will be sliced open either through an episiotomy or caesarean, and spend several days in a hospital (if my health insurance, assuming I have health insurance, allows for such a luxury).

I have an adorable little bundle of joy to nurture and love.

I will give up what would have been my study (guest room, gym, home theater, shoe closet for the Louboutin collection I will now never own, etc.) so it can become a nursery. I will spend many, many months getting little to no sleep, regardless if I have to get up at 6am when I return to work. If I do choose to work outside the home, I will abandon my career for several weeks at the very least, and will spend an even longer time playing catch-up when I return. Every minute spent at home will revolve entirely around my child's sleeping, eating and eliminating habits. I will either suffer intense breast pain or will live with the fact that I am sacrificing the ultimate in nutrition and antibodies I could give my child when I choose to feed it formula, which hopefully does not include any deadly ingredients manufactured in China. I will spend thousands of dollars a year on disposable diapers, which will end up in a landfill and will just begin to decompose in the next several decades, maybe. I will begin the many years of buying clothing, and soon shoes, that my child will outgrow long before it outwears. It will be months, if not years, before I can leave the house again in the evening for an adult outing, providing I can bring myself to leave my child and actually find a babysitter at all, much less one I can trust. I will add a minimum of $50 to the cost of said night out to pay for the sitter I settle on, whom is likely to come nowhere close to my expectations, and I will spend a good deal of the time during my outing worrying that I may have hired Aileen Wournous' reincarnation to care for my child.

My child will grow quickly and I will watch the miracle of those first important milestones with utmost pride.

I will spend at least a year dealing with The Demon Seed through the toddler period. My child's first words will be "mama," "dada" and "NO!" I will become selectively deaf to my own child's screaming, much to the extreme annoyance and utter disdain of every other person in the immediate vicinity. I will become the bane of anyone trying to enjoy a meal in every restaurant I enter. I will have to live with cabinet locks, outlet guards, gates throughout my home, and a muzzle on all four dogs even though they wouldn't hurt a fly. OK, so maybe they eviscerate flies, but they don't have a taste for human flesh... yet. There's no saying how they'll feel about it after little Jimmy eats all the food in their bowl and then tries to remove a fuzzy ear from its rightful owner. I will not be able to let my child out of my sight for even mere seconds for fear it will either cause itself, my home or a bichon frise irreparable harm. My main focus in life will be reduced to teaching my child to use a toilet as intended, while at the same time teaching it not to use it to flush Mommy's engagement ring, Daddy's iPhone, or the cat. I will spend long periods of time, three times a day, trying to get food into my child, and then just as routinely spend long periods of time cleaning up the food I didn't get into my child, as well as the food that comes out the other end of my child that didn't manage to successfully follow the uninsured diamond, cell phone and feline.

I will watch my child blossom as it grows and begins to learn about the world.

I will go to work every day with a mind to escape the madness, but then spend the day convinced my child is suffering at the hands of a pedophile with a daycare license. I will have quality time with my child in the evenings after I have traveled ten miles out of my way to pick them up from said daycare, for which I spend one third of my salary, and go home to watch the news with the hope I do not see anyone from Budding Genius Babycare being led from the building in handcuffs. I will then spend two hours with my child before they go to bed, which is a half hour later than it should be due to the delay caused by the incessant whining and screaming it took to get them *into* the bathtub and again when I tried to get them *out* of the bathtub. I will read "The Velveteen Rabbit" for the 174th time. I know how it ends.

My child will begin school and flourish with its newfound knowledge.

I will get up two hours before I have to leave for work to prepare my child for school, make a nutritious breakfast even though the thought of food in the morning nauseates me, and pack a lunch (or search frantically for enough cash to pay for lunch). I will then send my child to what has become America's "killing fields" and hope they have enough sense to duck and hide when the bullets start flying. If my child is sick, is home for one of the 186 annual school holidays, or has a "snow day" I will either have to take off work or frantically find someone trustworthy enough to care for my child, since I understand locking them in a closet with a coloring book, a supply of crayons and a few cookies is not an acceptable option in the eyes of the law (as much as it *should* be). I will spend my few free hours attending PTA meetings and parent/teacher conferences, baking cupcakes for a classroom full of other people's brats, and trying to remember how to help mine do the "new math" I learned decades ago, which is no longer new enough to be the way it is done *now.*

My child will become an intelligent, independent free thinker as it enters its teen years.

My child will no longer tell me it loves me, but instead will go into great detail about why it hates me while stomping dramatically up stairs and slamming bedroom doors. My mere presence in front of little Lizzie's friends will embarrass her to no end, no matter whether I have chosen the occasion to intentionally torture her mercilessly for my own amusement or not. I will feel guilt when I wrestle with deciding if I should call the police when my child runs away from home, while secretly hoping they stay away for at least a day or two. I will struggle with the choice of being the "cool, realistic parent" and buy him/her a steady supply of contraceptives, or the "protective, over-my-dead-body parent" and elect to lock them in their room until they are 21. I will begin to wonder if giving up foie gras and tenderloin over the course of almost two decades in exchange for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Hamburger Helper was worth the gamble that my kids would actually go to college, much less move out of my house before the age of 30. I will cringe at the idea that Mary doesn't know her mother well enough to actually think I will let her leave the house wearing a belly shirt emblazoned with the Playboy emblem and a pair of low-rise yoga pants that proudly declare "Juicy" across her butt. I will continually reassure myself that my son really does have a future as a space shuttle pilot, simply because the only skill Johnny has ever mastered is his outstanding ability to fly a starfighter on his PS3.

I will eventually find myself muttering aloud to my few childless friends with a wistful sigh that I "wonder what would my life have been like if I didn't have kids." And then I will do my best to ingore the sympathy-with-just-a-hint-of-smug-satisfaction look in the eyes of those who were actually smart enough to make a pros and cons list before taking the plunge.

And as terribly difficult as it is, I really do try to keep it to just a *hint.*