123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Monday, October 30, 2006

You Know What Time It Is, 123Valerie. Come Get Your Clock.*

JennyJenny8675309 had a brilliant idea this weekend, simply: "I'm NOT going to set my clock back and hope that I don't realize it in the morning, so I'll have a whole extra hour."

"Hey, that is brilliant!" I thought, so I followed suit. It was crazy enough that it just might work!

Or not.

At 8:30 a.m. (or what people who believe in antiquated ideas like setting clocks back, women in bonnets and VCRs might call 7:30 a.m.), Charlie Cat dive bombed me, rousing me from bed. "Alright 123V," I said to myself. "Well done. You should go running. You have hours."

So I ran. I ran so far away. Actually, no. But, there was sweating and panting and a few curse words, so I know it was a real work out. I came home, took a bubbly bath, read and made an omelet. 10:30. "Guess it's time to head to work and meet up with those goobers who thinks it's 9:30. Har har har."

I felt so smug. Superior, even, to those mere mortals who hadn't the intellect to beat the clock. "I will take over the world. Oh yes. One day it will all be mine for I can harness the power of time." To be fair, I have been watching a lot of the Sci-Fi Network lately.

Anyway, I will spare you that sweaty pit, clenched jaw, Doh feeling I got when I got in my car, saw those numerical enemies laughing at me, and realized I had changed my alarm clock BEFORE JennyJenny8675309 told me of her brilliant plan and completely forgotten that small detail. An even smaller detail? Silly Pants 123Valerie had actually managed to set her clock FORWARD! As in an hour AHEAD! Oh, 123Valerie. So sad.

It's okay. Work is flexible. No morning meetings today. No early deadlines. I actually even worked from home for the better part of my "free" time. You'd think the 37 overdue Outlook reminders might have spurred me to action, but, oh no. "Stupid Outlook program doesn't realize that I hold the key to the universe's time piece. Idiot," I scoffed.

I just missed some pumpkin cupcakes a nice co-worker set out to share. Although, that is enough to make the hell sure my shit is set up for tomorrow. It's currently 4:42 a.m, right?

In the Comments section, tell me if you had any problems with the time change. The winner of the worst problem gets to watch the *Flavor of Love marathon and reunion special with me and Megan Jane. I'll make popcorn.

Halloween Goodness That Won't Rot Your Teeth

Thanks to Shaun's Mullet-tastic-ness, we have some photos for yins.

Don't I work with some attractive people? Seriously. What a pretty bunch. My curtain jumper was quite a bit shorter than I anticipated, hence the non-standard Pippi pink shorts.

The first and only time you're likely to see Pooh Bear drink Busch Light. You probably can't tell, but that clown was really hot.

This guy with the pumpkin head gave me some serious 'tude when I asked him how it smelled in there. "Why does everybody want to know that? Gah. It smells fine, geez."

So, rock 'n roll to Kirstin and Bonita Bonqueatha who dressed up as Charlie's Angels--what a good idea! I would like to see photos of that, please. But I'm all out of mine, kids.

Huzzah! Fine looking Angels. At Max & Erma's. Get in the kitchen and make me some cookies, hot bitches! Yes!

Tomorrow we're doing Halloween festivities at Sean P.K.'s, so I get a chance to Metro through the city en costume. Wheeeeee! Maybe I'll meet a nice Frankenstein or or Superman along the way. I'd even settle for a Napoleon Dynamite.

In the Comments section, tell me what you're doing for Halloween. The winner of the coolest plans gets to drink a beer with Pooh Bear.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pippi Procrastinator

I have known that Halloween comes on October 31 since I was about seven years old.

I have also known that Halloween parties also come close to October 31 since I was about 17 years old.

Why the flip do I find myself every flipping year flipping out at the 11th hour because I don't have my flipping costume done?

I've know since at least March that I wanted to go as Pippi Longstocking. That's a couple of months to get my ass in gear, find some stripy socks, sew a be-patched jumper and create a sufficiently comfortable wire headband to make my braids stand out.

So, today, after I finished working at 4, I decided now would finally be an excellent time to start on the costume for a party this evening. You'd be surprised the sad stripy sock collection this consumerist nation of ours has to offer.

I settled for a pair of red tights, as well as a pair of black argyle tights which if you ever see me wearing whilst NOT in this costume, you have permission to kick me, 'cause I'm tempted. They are cute! If you are 11 years old. Maybe not even then.

So, alright. I can live with no stripy socks because I will two different stockinged legs. But, there was also no time to get fabric for the be-patched jumper, so I used a pair of old curtains. Curtains, kids! They're blue.

What you say? 123Valerie is domestically inclined? She can sew? Damn right. To further wig some of you out, I'm working on a quilt for my sister's Christmas gift. It's a Sunbonnet Sue pattern because her name is Susie. To quiet some of your fears, I usually drink beer while I'm quilting, so it's a little more badass.

Anyhoo, I've gotten everything done, but not without a few major, "Aw, fuck it. I'm not going. I'll stay home and watch PBS" freak outs.

But I pulled through. I even managed to mangle a coat hanger for my braids. This is the only time in my life that my hairstyle is going to look better the more drunk and disheveled I get. You bet your bippy I'm gonna enjoy it.

I'm also enjoying JennyJenny8675309's decision to purchase a child-size spandex Spiderman outfit to wear. Granted, she can totally pull off spandex, but she's been hopping around here like a 5-year-old because she's so excited. "I got matching slippers! They have Spider Heads!" she told me.

The house has a festive air about it, now that the crunch for Pippi-Palooza '06 has passed. On to the debauchery!

In the Comments section, tell me what you're doing tonight and/or can you pull of spandex? The winner of the coolest evening, or anyone who actually CAN pull off spandex gets a hand-made quilt from me.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's Not My Asphault

I feel bad admitting this to even you, my pretties, but I don't like our neighbors.

Not the ones on left side or the ones with the Christmas tree—the ones across the walkway. Them.

It started the other day when I attempted to pull into my parking spot, which is right next to Mrs. Grumpyass's spot. For whatever reason, she had strewn her entire collection of personal crap all over my parking space.

Why? Why, kids? Why did she deposit her groceries and dry cleaning and a lawn chair in my parking spot? It looked like a mini-tornado had hit only in the 8 x 12 asphalt rectangle.

Some other stuff she left in the parking spot, drawn to scale:

I pulled halfway into the parking space so only my car's ass was hanging out into our narrow street. Still, drivers behind me were seething with impatience because they could not get around.

Furthermore, Mrs. Grumpyass scowled at me while she scampered around to retrieve her items, like I was the moron who decided to use my parking spot as a refugee camp for the fruits of her errands. She finally grabbed all of her bags and furniture and clothing, and I pulled into the spot.

Oh, ho, 123Valerie. Foiled again!

She had parked ON the white line, so I had to back up and try again, which thrilled, thrilled the motorists behind me.

Finally I situated my car. My arms overflowing with a briefcase, 1,000 Tupperware containers from clean-yo-shit-out-the-refrigerator day at work and a pair of shoes, I managed to open the door to the house. Wonder Dog Bean immediately dashed out and trotted over to Grumpyass's yard where she popped a squat at the exact moment Mr. Grumpyass was leaving the house. All he saw was a golden stream and Bean's shifty eyes. I stood on our stoop feeling his wrath.

"Bean," I called. "Beanie, come here. Come here. Come here!" I fruitlessly tried. Tupperware containers, obviously sensing the tension, tried to jump ship like little plastic pansies and spilled out of my grasp.

He simply sneered at me as we both watched Bean's ass hover over his lawn.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "She just ran out. I can't . . . She's usually so good. C'mon Beanie. Please."

She finally heard me and jogged over to our side of the lawn. Still, he just stood there watching. I rushed inside.

So, now I am paranoid that they hate me and have decided a pre-emptive strike of hating them right back is best. It's a shame, though, because I've recently started jogging with Bean at night, a whole other post in itself. I attempt to take up jogging about twice a year, just like I do with vegetarianism and playing the harmonica.

Anyway, my inability to commit aside, every night Mr. Grumpyass grills the most delicious-smelling meats—kebobs of some sort, is my guess. Probably lamb. Succulent, I'm sure.

I have a secret fantasy that one night, as I'm finishing up my run and round the corner, he'll lean over his fence and say, "You're getting much too thin. You deserve a kebob," and he'll thrust some spiced meat at me.

You know, a lot of my fantasies these days involve the thrusting of meat. Hi ho!

In the Comments section, tell me about your neighbors. The winner of the best/worst neighbor story gets to jog with me because I need all of the motivation I can get.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

To a T

You know those people in your life that, when the sky seems darkest and the world wants to swallow you whole, you're still able to take some comfort and say, "Well, at least she loves me"?

Yeah. That's the way I feel about Theresa. I've got so many of you priceless people in my life who appear on this blog daily, but Theresa especially has been keeping my mind company lately.

Theresa, who recently got married to a phenomenal man who recognizes every good bit about her, and, while I love him by proxy, I feel confident saying that her marriage is the least of her accomplishments.

Theresa, who has never been afraid to set out on her own journey but who still has managed to keep those dearest to her close along the way.

Theresa, who has abandoned all of the trappings of adolescence and looks so lovely in the silken coat of a woman.

Theresa, who has a heart robust enough and a life full enough to not to take it personally when 123Valerie jumps ship on her friendship duties.

Theresa, who is eternally beautiful.

My Mom was a Teresa. I don't think it's any coincidence that two of the people I love most in my life and think about most often share the same name; different spellings for different kind of lives, but close enough to share the same heart.

T, this doesn't do your life or my feelings for you justice, but I feel better having written it for you and the world to read. A life full of blessings for you and yours.

Oh, one more thing. T and her husband Skye can make beautiful, custom, hand-blown glass dildos that are dishwasher-safe and fun to freeze for anyone who's interested. I'm just saying … you know, if exquisite beads, elegant perfume bottles, marvelous marbles or amazing stained glass aren't your thing.

In the Comments section, tell me that you didn't really think I'd get through an entire post without referencing a penis, did you? Jesus H. Ya'll know me better than that. I love you, T!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mistletoe and Holly Rollers

Our neighbors already have their Christmas tree up. I think it's a bit early considering we haven't even celebrated the Pagan holiday of Halloween yet, kids.

But, they're a nice African family that has converted to a loud, arm-waving form of Christianity. I know this because every Wednesday and Sunday their rejoicing can be heard from, oh, at least half a block away, where JennyJenny8675309 and I live.

Every other night of the week, though, they tone it down a bit, and I can only hear them when I take Wonder Dog Bean for her evening poopscapade. "Hellabejembala! Zerefuzinustikana! Lalalabamba! Heefrontigrajubinatia!" sails out of their windows as they celebrate.

I don't mean to eavesdrop, but they congregate at the dining room table in front of their windows right next to the Christmas tree, holding hands and speaking in tongues. I can't help but listen.

I went to a Pentecostal church once, when I was about 12 years old. We were in Kentucky because my Aunt Jennifer, my Step-Mom's sister, was in the hospital. So, as my Step-Mom and the rest of the family visited with Jen, I stayed with relatives and family friends for safe keeping.

At one point, I spent a night or two with my Step-Mom's Best Friend, Becky, who is unquestionably a lovely woman. So when she drawled in her thick accent, "We'd just luuuuve for you to come to Sunday service with us," I didn't give it a second thought. In my house, after church we went to Bob Evans, so I was mostly excited about the biscuits and gravy I expected to follow.

In any case, that is how after many, many, many years of reserved Catholic masses, I ended up going to a Pentecostal church. No one told me what I might encounter, though I wish they would have.

I stood in awe, disbelief and fear as people next to me convulsed and collapsed and capitulated to Christ's love by screaming, shouting and spitting. Growing up, my friend David had Tourette's Syndrome, so I assumed we had gone to a "special" church for people like him. I thought it most polite if I just stayed still with my head down and tried not to stare.

But, the friendly Pentecostals would not have it that way. They invited me up to the alter for repentance.

"Go on. Jesus is waiting for you. Go free yourself from sin, 123Valerie. It's alright. Jesus loves you," Becky said.

Skinny, bird-legged 123Valerie slowly made her way to the carpeted alter as adults shuddered and shouted around me. I kneeled down and said, "God, I am sorry that I have ever made fun of mentally disabled people. If you get me out of this special church alive, I promise I will never, ever be mean to someone with challenges again."

And that was that. He got me out. Since then, I haven't made fun of people with mental disabilities or people with emotional issues, though I am fairly hard on people who drive Mini Coopers.

In the Comments section, tell me about an interesting religious experience you've had. The winner of the best story gets to help JennyJenny8675309 and I put up our Christmas decorations. Tomorrow.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Last evening's festivities went swimmingly well. We missed some of the usual suspects, but overall the mix of new and unexpected faces lent itself to good times.

Despite the social success, I'm feeling void of my usual drive to wittily recap the night's events, which should not be mistaken for a lack of enjoyment or indifference. On the contrary, actually.

But, last night I said goodbye to a lot of possibilities without feeling the promise of new ones. I suppose I'm speaking strictly of romantic opportunities: Vermont Chris is a darling boy, but I didn't feel an immediate connection—so sorry #1Laura. Maybe it will come. The door also closed for 567Devin, and I finally convinced myself that an affair with a 48-year-old married man isn't in anyone's best interest.

So, while I made a host of new friends and grew to appreciate the ones I had even more, it stinks to not have an object of affection, or what the kids might call a "crush."

A crush offers distraction and fantasy. It's not nearly as much fun to focus on reality. My current reality is that I have a long list of important people in my life that are suffering the effects of one of my frequent periods of hibernation. I tend to just go away from the world for a while and not answer phone calls, e-mails or letters. The new Mrs. Norton, my folks, my sisters, my D.C. ladies, Kirstin—ya'll I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you.

You're in my thoughts right now, along with a million other ideas, worries, hopes, dreams, plans and a random recipe for frog legs.

Because I tend to be over-dramatic and poetically cliché, I told JennyJenny8675309 that I felt a wind of change was blowing in. I really said that. "JennyJenny, I feel a wind of change is blowing in."

She looked at me with confusion and probably a little disdain, as I'm still wearing yesterday's clothes and have spent most of the day on the couch eating Megan Jane's leftover chili. The only change I've executed today was to flip from VH1 to the Food Network.

Can't explain it, kids. There's a lot of planetary activity this week, much of which urges us to re-examine our lives and plans (hello Mercury Retrograde on Friday. More on that to come). So, if you're feeling restless, hopeful and disappointed all at once, you are completely in tune with the heavens and are also in very good company with the likes of me.

Speaking of good company, it was nice to see so many wonderful faces last night, and trust me when I say to all of you who weren't able to make it that you were missed and missed out.

JennyJenny8675309 made cookies that looked so much like bloody witch's fingers, I gagged every time I looked at them. Kewl.

In the Comments section, tell me how you're generally feeling right now. I'll give you some of JennyJenny8675309's finger cookies.

Friday, October 20, 2006

From Bad to Worse

This is kind of what professionalism looks like right after two rounds of hastily ordered Lemon Drops to try and beat the evil force known as Last Call:

The following photos will prove beyond all doubt that You Can't Beat Last Call. You Can Only Hope to Contain It. I did a piss poor job, my pretties.

Notice the comraderie, the bonding, all of the empty glasses in front of me. Then the real fun begins.

More bonding. That's #1Laura on the laps of NOT ONE, but TWO boys. Jealous?

Oh my, 123Valerie. If I had a dollar for every photo I had of myself in this pose, I'd have at least $43.72.

Yep. It's all over but the crying here. Our friend Dawn who snapped the photos was quick to point out that just to the right of the frame, #1Laura and I had a large, comfy king size bed to share, yet we thought it a much better idea to pile on the chair. Classy. Or should I say "Assy?" My butt looks huge!

In the Comments section, tell me how cute #1Laura is and how excited you are that I finally get to meet Vermont Chris at the party tomorrow night. The person who says the nicest thing about #1Laura gets to sit on MY lap for a change.

Gray Tubs, Gray Skies and Gray Hair

It's weird to walk around in your bare feet in front of strangers.

It's also weird and kind of squishy to put shampoo in plastic baggies.

Further, it's weird that all of the tubs at any airport security checkpoints are gray. I wonder if the manufacturers had an abundance of gray-colored polymers or if there's a specific reason for it. Anyone know?

So, today's airport experience was ridiculously cliché. My departure from San Fran was delayed for a couple of hours and no one wanted to tell us why. A lot of rudeness and vastly overpriced cheese fries.

I'd just about accepted that if I got to Atlanta, my connecting flight—the last one of the day—would probably have left. Sleeping on the floor of the Atlanta airport started to seem like a viable option.

I was okay with the delay and possible slumber party with strangers because I wasn't entirely sure I was going to have enough money to get my car out of the airport parking lot at Ronald Reagan. The longer I was stuck in Airportland, the longer I put off paying my $150 parking tab.

Of course, it also meant I was racking up additional parking charges, so that plan sort of bit me in the ass, but shurt urp.

The good news is that I've made it home, and it's only 4:30 a.m. Also, for some mystical reason, the parking guy's machine accepted my debit card even though I am positively positive that I didn't have the money in my account. I will worry about that tomorrow. Does anyone know of a good plasma donation site?

Yeah. I'm all growed up and mature-like, flying across the country with about $40 in my bank account.

I had a lot more in there until last night, but I lost it somewhere in San Francisco. Along with some of my brain cells and a really rad lipstick that fell out of my purse in the cab.

On the upside, during the first long wait in San Fran, I had one of the best crab rolls in my life, courtesy of Klein's Deli. If you're ever at the SFO airport near gate 36, do stop by.

The second long wait in Atlanta wasn't nearly as much fun, though I did buy some Barbecue Corn Nuts.

The flashing lights and beeps and airport frenzy definitely took their toll, though. My mind is even foggier from the time change and the perpetual hangover and the 14-hour days spent talking to people about which publication will help them best fund their retirement, not to mention the fact that, this week, I found myself extremely attracted to a 48-year-old man.

I'm 26, kids. This is new for me. I typically have a 10-year rule that I've never even come close to exercising. No worries here, though—he's the married one who wanted to "rake his hands through my flowing red hair," which #1Laura pointed out was strange verbiage.

When he first said it, I was staring at his distinguished silver hair and gloomily handsome face and thought, "That is an incredibly sexy notion."

But a little contemplation makes me think that "rake" probably wasn't the best word choice. In any case, I'm feeling a little out of sorts for many reasons, the least of which is my broke/potentially stranded status.

In the Comments section, tell me about an interesting airport experience you've had. The winner of the best story gets a crab roll from Klein's Deli and the chance to rake their fingers through my red hair.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Highlights So Far

1. San Fran's topography and architecture reminds me of Pittsburgh, which is good because I like Pittsburgh.

2. I propositioned a distinguished man who reminded me of Mr. Big, and though I found out he was married, he gave me the following response: "If I didn't have a wife at home, I would love to take you back to my room and rake my fingers through your red hair."

3. I got hugged and felt up by a randy, old waiter who showed us prosciutto curing in an Italian restaurant's basement.

4. Lots and lots and lots and lots of good red wine.

5. #1Laura and I got to be bunkmates thanks to the hotel rudely canceling her reservations. She let me snuggle with her.

6. An inordinate amount of grown men with ponytails. Curly ones, at that.

Am tired and hungover, but once again hopeful. I've spent more time on this post than I've spent sleeping this week, so goodnight my pretties. Can't wait to see my East Coast Lovelies again.

And Johnny Rocket Ship, the time change has me all befuddled, so I'll be in need of a good stuffing upon my return. That's apropos of nothing, but suffice to say bunking with #1Laura reminds me just how nice it is to have someone next to me, even if she is making me wear pajamas.

In the Comments section, tell me what you've been up to this week. I miss you terribly. The winner gets a hug from a randy, old waiter.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Another testament to her awesomeness, Kristin from Candy Sandwich shared her photos of Thursday's merriment with us. I promptly bogarted some for my blog, though, sadly there are no photos of photographer.

Oh, by the way, I probably don't have to tell you fine folks this, but these pictures solely belong to Kristin, so even though I stole them, you probably shouldn't. Thanks!

The boys (Mike, Har Har Harwell, Miles and Scotty's head) rocking out with their cocks out. Or, no. Not really. At least I don't think so . . .

Hello Miles! Hi Scotty! Hey Byrd! How do, 123Valerie! We enjoyed Scotty's attempt to break it down one time.

Miles has a small guitar but giant manhood. At least, that's what Scotty told me.

Megan Jane, Kristin, Scotty and I are all from the same small Ohio town. Mike and his head enjoyed picking out the hot girls from my and MJ's 7th grade yearbook. MJ and I were not on his list. Whatever, dude.

I was hot in my K-Swiss tenny boppers--mushroom hair was the shiz back in the day. Sort of. Mike managed to pick out all of the trashy girls anyway. Sadly, I might have been on that list.

Megan Jane looking loverly, totally redeeming herself for a fugly picture in the 7th grade yearbook. Seriously. It's way bad. I'll show you sometime.

Har Har Harwell playing is a beautiful thing. Almost as good as watching him eat keilbosa.

This picture of Scotty just about says it all. Scotty did a phenomenal job of creating lyrics from my yearbook inscriptions. Do you want to read Megan Jane's message to a 12-year-old 123Valerie? You do. I can tell. Here it is, uncut, unedited:

Beanie Weanie,

How is ya? I thought I would just take up some of your precious time and [doodle of a centipede named Harry] and room for someone to write something you care about. No, don't tell me you don't care, you wish I would shrivel into a prune and the Mayflower would come and take me away and throw me in a scummed up toilet to be plunged out and fed jelly beans untill [sic] I puke and, and, and . . . I don't care what you think of me cause you are my buddy no matter who takes my tobagin (can't spell) [sic] away!! Whatever.



I can't make this shit up, folks. She's always been that awesome.

I should say that my nickname for many years was Beans because I looked like a beanpole. In certain circles, I'm still known as Beans. Mainly the Japanese Mafia.

So, hey, I'm going to San Francisco for work this week. I have to get up for my flight in about 2.5 hours, but instead of sleep, I wanted to share Kristin's art with you.

I hope to check in before I get back on Thursday, but I'm going to be right busy, so I left some casseroles in the fridge for you. Just heat them at 375 for 45 minutes. Remember to pick up the mail. The doctor's number is by the phone, and no parties while I'm gone, okay?

Via con dios, my pretties.

In the Comments section, tell me the best yearbook inscription you ever got. The winner gets to see pictures of me AND Megan Jane from 7th grade. Oof. Very bad.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Caution: Objects in This Blog May Appear Cooler Than They Are

OR The All New Misadventures of Trucker Brown and the Hand Job Trio

OR Wu Twang Forever

I've kept a journal since I was about 13. The early entries were kind of perfunctory and sad. Excerpt from May 8, 1993:

Met a cute boy named Mike. He's from Dover. I think he plays football really well.

I have a million old volumes of 123Valerie's life—some are really nice leather-bound journals I've gotten as gifts, some are 35 cent notebooks from Dollar General, some are even computer print outs a la Doogie Howser. Sadly, the content hasn't changed much. Excerpt from October 12, 2006:

Met a cute boy named Mike. He's from Wisconsin. I think he plays guitar really well.

The point is, if I'm stuck for something to write about, my journals usually offer up a tidbit of bloggy goodness, but for your sake my pretties, I sometimes have to embellish or rearrange or combine. It's all true, mind you, but true in the sense of edited for T.V. movie dialogue:

"Well, *forget* you, man. You're a real *dishrag* sometimes. Why are you such an *apehole*?"

You get the point. The essence is there, but some of the details have been changed. In any case, normally, this blog is about 98% unadulterated truth. That's a good percentage. An A-plus for truthiness, as my friend Allison would say. That tiny 2% ensures you get more than just stories about all of the cute Mikes I have met along the way. Nobody wants that. Well, I would like more cute Mikes, but whatever.

All puffing up aside, believe me when I say that I had an awesomely amazing rockin' n rollin' good time last night making music with my friends Byrd, Har-Har Harwell, Kristin, Megan Jane, Miles, Mike and Scotty.

After the big camp trip, Scotty had the brilliant idea for an indoor jam session. A resounding "Yes!" was the reply. So, we got together last night with guitars and bongos a-go-go. The wine flowed, well, like wine, and harmony danced around us. It was beautiful.

I feel recharged. Everyone brought something special to the mix from Miles' ukulele to Scotty's incessant lyrical innovations to Megan Jane's trumpet trousers to Mike's wicked cool homemade guitar and case to Kristin's sharp eye dedicated to documenting the whole mess to Byrd's lilting laugh as background percussion to Har-Har Harwell's zen-like concentration on keeping the melody going.

It was lovely. Scotty got us all hopped up about actually going out and doing some open mic nights as a group. It could very well happen, so be on the look out for Trucker Brown and the Hand Job Trio, affectionately known as the Wu Twang Clan, in your local dive bar.

In the Comments section, tell me if you'd come to hear Trucker Brown et al play somewhere. Anyone who says "yes" is a winner, and every winner gets an invite to the next open jam night.

Be sure to stop by Candy Sandwich, Kristin's lovely blog, for further details on the evening that she may put up soon if you ask really nicely. K took all the photos and was also a very good sport about having to drink red wine from a sippy cup.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stop Light Spotlight

Hi. So I'm sad today, but doing alright. Many thanks to all of you who sent wishes and prayers and pizza (Special shout out to Papa John's).

I got some good news about an old friend today, and I also had a nice moment in traffic this morning, so I'm breaking out of my self-imposed sad sack prison to tell you about it. My stop light encounters may become a regular feature here.

On my way to work, I was stopped at a long light when I heard the beautiful sounds of Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky coming from the truck next to me. I actually turned down my radio to hear what my vehicular neighbor was listening to.

The driver noticed me leaning over just singing away with Bill, gave me an appreciative nod and actually turned up his stereo so I could hear better. Isn't that nice?

In the Comments section, tell me something good you heard today. The winner of the nicest story gets my leftover Papa John's pizza.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tomorrow, on October 12, my Mom would have been 58.

She's been dead for nearly 10 months now. It's only hard when I forget that she's gone. I still have her number in my cell phone, and fairly often--about once a month or so--something will happen that I want to tell her right away. So I dial, and the first empty ring socks me in the gut.

Harder still is thinking about all of the things I could have done for her when she was alive. I won't burden ya'll with my self-indulgent guilt. That's what Alice is for.

I just want to celebrate and remember the exceptional, beautiful things about my Mom because there were so many. She was just as unique in death as she was in life--my Mom was always a little flashy.

I don't know how many of you out there have had close loved ones die--I hope none of you--but it's a weird experience. Death keeps you busy. Immediately after she unexpectedly passed away, my sisters--my beloved Maryann and Susie--and I were ushered to the funeral home to make "arrangements."

Just about 35 minutes had elapsed from the hospital room to the funeral parlor's "reflection room." The rushed pace led to some typos in her obituary. The fact that I let them go ought to clue you into my mental state, but we were also overwhelmed with tasks.
First, we had to pick out a casket:

"Oh, that one's nice. She always liked cherry."

"No. No the material is too pink. How about this one?"

"I don't like the ruffles around the edges. You remember how she hated supercilious pleating?"

"Yeah. You're right."

It just so happened that my Mom's taste lent itself toward the cheapest casket they had. Oh My God. How horrible. We wanted to send her into the afterlife in the Bentley of caskets. The thing is, it was quite lovely. I don't remember a single detail about it, but I know at the time I said to myself, "Hmm. Yeah. She would like that."

Then there were the prayer cards. And the reception--roast beef or chicken? And finally, "What will your mother be wearing?" they asked.

Wearing? As in clothes? Huh. Um, sisters huddle up.

Maryann: "Alright, Mom told me years and years ago, before she even got sick, that when she died, she wanted to be buried in a brand new, sparkly rhinestone denim outfit."

Susie and I: "Yep. That sounds about right."

Maryann: "Uh, we're going to need a day or two to find our Mom's burial outfit."

So, in the wake of this shock, my sisters and I checked out every Western Wear shop in the tri-state area and finally ended up shopping at the mall for this damned outfit. We told the story to countless salespeople. And they cried, and we cried. Complete strangers were hugging us, and they were so sorry but, no, they didn't have anything like that and hadn't seen anything like it since 1987.

Five hours later, we were just about to give up and try to make the thing ourselves with a Bedazzler and a jug of wine, when we walked by the Limited Too, a store for little girls. We saw these gorgeous denim outfits with rhinestones, sparkles and beads--they were perfect. But, they were in little girl sizes, and my Mom was tiny, but not that tiny.

We looked anyway, hoping to get inspiration for the outfit we'd soon have to put together.

The sales girl came over to us and we told her the story. We found out her Dad passed away from lung cancer, and she understood our need. She told us that their sizes went up to 3XL, which should fit my Mom, who was a petite size 4.

Then, the kicker, she told us to look on the clearance rack because she remembered seeing something that might work. We were hesitant because, even though my Mom was always a bargain hunter, given the already cheap casket, we didn't want to send her into the afterlife wearing marked-down clothes.

But we looked, and, of course, we found the perfect outfit in the perfect size, and there was more crying and snotting and hugging in the middle of the store. Needless to say, Mom was looking out for us the whole way.

She looked so pretty lying there. So pretty that I kind of, weirdly, wish we could have taken a picture. Someone did, in fact. My Mom was a massage therapist for nearly 25 years, and one of her long-time clients was just devastated and wanted to capture my Mom's last earthly appearance on film.

It was strange but, you know, she looked so pretty I wish we could've taken our own or gotten copies. Her lipstick was a little too light in color for my taste but, still, she looked lovely.

Some days I'm alright, and some days I am not. I have a lot of love in my life, and now I know have love coming in from the afterlife, too.

I wish I had a lesson here. A solid bit of wisdom that you could carry with you. Or that I could carry with me. But I find that I still make the same mistakes now that she's gone. Sometimes, though, I get it right, just like I always did. Being touched by death didn't give me an honorary life degree. Nothing tastes more bitter, but nothing tastes more sweet, either. I still don't have the urgency to live every day to the fullest, though, thankfully, I never felt the urge to die. I still spend way too much time watching The Food Network.

I guess I'm the same 123Valerie, just without a Mom.

No contest tonight. I send out countless prayers of thanks to all of you who helped me get my head right again and to all of you who told me it was okay that it wasn't right in the first place.
If you have some spare positive energy, could you send it over Megan Jane's way? She's missing her Grandpa something awful right now. Oh, and my lovely Kristina Sweet Ass-Fried Mac 'n Cheese-Drivin' a Big White SUV-Bartendress Extraordinaire might appreciate a positive vibe or two, as well.
Love and light to any of ya'll who have lost someone or something you love. I might take a day or two off, kids. Not because I don't love you, but because I do. Don't fret. I'll be back soon--and better than ever.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Sound of Silence

I just saw a commercial for a silent ringtone.

One more time. A silent ringtone. For your cell phone. That no one can hear.

I'm beyond perplexed. Can someone explain this to me? Am I on an episode of Punk'd right now and Ashton is just waiting to bust in on my lame ass when I call to actually order one of these silent ringtones?

Maybe I'm getting old. Which is kind of why JennyJenny8675309 and I are throwing a party in a couple of weeks. You should come.

We're just in need of a good throwdown, for no good reason. I wanted to give myself a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" party, but JennyJenny8675309 wanted to celebrate autumn instead of me. After I checked my ego, I decided it was a good idea, too.

The E-vite is out, and it makes a lot of mention about leaves and pumpkins and Pilgrims, but if I have my way, we'll forego apple bobbing and mulled cider for endless games of Spin the Bottle and 7 Minutes in Heaven.

Why did we stop playing those games just because we got older? I would much rather spend the night making out with people than playing Asshole or Jenga. Actually, I like Jenga, but if there was some way to play Jenga while Frenching attractive people, that would be ideal, though it's hard to keep your balance when someone's trying to unhook your bra.

That's what I've heard, anyway. Not that I would know for sure. Alright. I might have a small idea how hard it is. Don't judge. You don't know me.

Speaking of kissing, I had a lovely exchange with one of the readers of a newsletter I help edit. I also answer readers' questions, and today I had a reader write to me, "Thank you for your help. Kisses and hugs to you."

Now, our demographic is largely older, white men, so anytime I get something like this, I cherish it because now I've got a notion of a retiree named Ralph sitting on his lawn chair in Boca Raton blowing kisses to me as his support hose for varicose veins slowly inch down his pasty legs. That brightens my day.

Anyhoo, JennyJenny8675309's folks took off today and took their little rat dog named Hilda. I called her A-Hilda the Hunn. She peed on my bed. That's gross, right?

Wanna know something else gross? When we were 10 or so, I had a silky, lavender bedspread. Megan Jane and I were having a tickle fight as we were apt to do back then. (I'll give you gents and any of you lesbians out there time to visualize that if you'd like.) I tickled Megan Jane so hard she peed on me and my bedspread.

After that, a little dog piss doesn't seem like such a big deal. Don't worry-it's been washed, 'cause that would be gross. But, I'm just saying, it puts it all in perspective.

Megan Jane went home to the Ohio town where we lived this weekend and met up with another friend of ours from childhood who was also probably present during The Lavender Bedspread Incident of 1990. This friend of ours, coincidentally, is named Autumn, though she was born in January. August featured her Dad's favorite Playmate that year, and her Mom compromised. Autumn is dating a guy who's been on The Iron Chef. (American version, Flay vs. Bayliss, bison battle, he's a soux-chef. Still way cooler to me than it probably should be.)

I feel I should point out that JennyJenny8675309 is making me watch The Bachelor Rome as I write. That accounts for the herky-jerky manner of this evening's post. Well, trash T.V. and Wonder Dog Bean's deadly farts. Pew. Silent but deadly, they are.

Full circle, kids: The Smell of Silence.

In the Comments section, seriously, help me understand this silent ringtone deal. I don't get it. The winner gets to play "Jenga" with me.

Oh! Oh! One more thing. Grampa is the winner of the Guest Post. Ya'll are so awesome that I pretty much just drew names out of hat because, well, who am I to judge anyone or anything? There will be upcoming contests for guest posts, so stay tuned. But, definitely look for some of Grampa's thoughts in an upcoming entry.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Metaphorical Post that Contains A lot of Links to Celebrate a Beautiful Matrimonial Union Forever Linking Theresa and Skye

Work's been a little hairy as of late. A lot of hours, a lot of food from the vending machine, a lot of conversations with the after-hours security guard.

A wise blogger, much smarter about matters like this than I, said it's best not to blog about work, so ya'll are spared the details except to say that it is Saturday morning at 11:30, and I'm barely in the middle of my work day. Let me say that again: Saturday.

But, what I'm focusing on today is my dear friend Theresa's wedding. Maybe ya'll recall that Theresa and her husband-to-be-in-about-20-minutes-or-so Skye are glass blowing artisans in Colorado. Today, they are getting married.

I met Theresa in the eighth grade at a small Catholic school in small-town Ohio. In a mass (har har) of angry, devious, Catholic school children back-biting and beating each other down, Theresa stood out as a genuine, caring, creative and compassionate soul. Years later, she still shines as all of those things and so many more, though, like most of us, she has an aversion to burgundy plaid.

Theresa is from that small Ohio town; her Dad is the mayor, in fact. He used to have one of those yellow signs in the front yard that advertised the school's football games and spaghetti dinners. He's a good man, and Theresa got his ability to talk with anyone, anytime, anywhere about anything.

Theresa's Mom was a good woman, too. She passed away right after high school graduation. My family had long since moved out the small Ohio town where we met, but coming back for the funeral, I saw the community, as well as Theresa and her family, grieved the loss. T's grace and honesty about her experience helped guide me through my time of need years later.

While T got a beautiful mix from both parents, she did not inherit the deep roots they had for that small Ohio town. She set off for points westward—first Texas and finally Colorado, where she found her home and her heart.

Skye and T have been together for several years now, and I'd never been able to get out to meet Skye and all of Theresa's friends (like her dear friend Melinda who tried tirelessly to get in touch with me about T's bachelorette party. As is my terrible habit, I let the whirlwind of life and work overtake me, and her calls went unreturned. Sorry, Melinda! Hope you got her to wear a penis necklace and do blowjob shots!)

So, I planned for months to attend the wedding. Tricky stuff considering that I do have to work on financially sort of things every Friday evening and Saturday morning, but I was determined. I was going. Tickets bought. Car rented. Sweet hotel deal thanks to my Step-Mom Paula.

Then—work. Work. Argh! WORK!

"No way, Jose," said my desk. "You ain't going nowhere."
(Oh wee. Ride me high. Tomorrow's the day that my bride's gonna come. Oh oh, are we gonna fly down into the easy chair.)

Well, apparently, 123Valerie, ain't gonna fly nowhere nohow. Crap. My heart hurts. T's special day, and instead of enjoying mimosas dishing with the girls about which of Skye's friends are the cutest ("Oooh. Look at Barbecue. I'd like to take a bubbly bath with him"), I'm trying to figure out which is correct: high-dividend yielding stocks or high-dividend-yielding stocks. Hint: extra hyphen, kids.

I just really needed this, you know? I needed the warm glow of T's presence surrounded by the love vibrations of T's friends and family because of the beautiful union of T and Skye. Kind of like an emotional turducken: friendship wrapped in love wrapped in holy matrimony, separated by layers of cake.

But, the good news is that T and Skye have everything they need right now: each other. Although, if you're feeling the spirit of giving, hit up their Web site and buy stuff so they can take a honeymoon. That would be nice.

As a consolation prize, JennyJenny8675309's parents are in town this weekend, so there is a definite family vibe around us. I am bummed that they don't wear toboggans with pom-poms, but I did confirm they do give out full-sized candy bars at Halloween.

In the Comments section, send a special congrats wish to Theresa and Skye. The winner of the gushiest, squishiest sentiment gets a penis necklace that I had as a memento of Kirstin's bachelorette party. During which we tried to steal a whiskey decanter from a stretch Hummer. Unsuccessfully. But that's for another time.

Oh! Right quick: On Monday, I'm going to make the guest post decision regarding Interweb life changing blah, blah, blah. Read about the contest here. So, you don't even have to have a blog, per se, to write a guest post. There's still plenty of time to tell me how the Interweb has enhanced your life in some way.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Blogtropolis (Or the One in Which I Give Ya'll a Virtual Hug. Squeeze!)

Blogging in the night can lead to awkwardness in the morning.

Or, like a one-night stand, it can lead to a fulfilling relationship. Either way, you know exactly what the outcome will be as soon as you roll over the next day.

I've had the wonderful fortune of "meeting" a lot of folks I never would have otherwise known through this here blog. Truth be told, I'm reeling a bit from the sense of family and support I've gotten from this outlet. I feel all squooshy and floaty when I think about it.

It's such a beautiful feeling—like ALWAYS having someone to sit with in the cafeteria.

But, while I've been lucky to get only positive feed back ('cause ya'll rock n' roll, hoochie coos) I'm worried to find out just what happens when someone's first glimpse of me is a random, misrepresentative post about things I might do with a zucchini or possibly how I hate waiting in drive through bank lines so badly that I wipe boogers on deposit slips. (Just, you know, as hypothetical examples, kids.)

Maybe that's the ugly-beauty of the blogarithim universe. You can instantaneously meet soul mates or just as quickly dismiss quality people simply because you happened to catch them on an off day.

And comments—whoa. They are like water balloons that can refresh and install fun on a hot summer day or can unexpectedly smack you in the face and ruin the hairstyle on which you spent 45 minutes and at least $2.47 worth of gel. How does one respond to comments like, "You should never do that with a zucchini. My family and I will pray for your soul" or "Boogers are awesome!"?

This Interweb world is weird because there's no context for anything.

That's the way it works: I start by reading a friend's blog and stumble onto a friend of their's that may have left a comment. Then before I know it, the process has repeated, and I'm reading the blog from Grampa, who is busy working toward world domination in Hawaii, but fortunately has overcome dander allergies and heroin with frequent cat-bathing. Huh? He got over heroin addiction by bathing his cat?

I just wanted to read Kristen's take on the camp trip while chewing on a muffin at work. Then suddenly I'm trying to figure out what the hell is going on in someone else's life when I can't even figure out what's going on in mine.

We need a photo here. Very text heavy, this post. This is my Adelka Ann. I stole this from her online portfolio. She makes me cry with her talented dancing/choreographing/acting/puppeteering/zucchini pancake making.

Every day is a journey in the blogtropolis. Before I could say "boo," I had 72 new friends who knew more about my life than my parents, even though I've never met these blogging buddies in person. It's not really uncomfortable, just uncharted.

It reminds me of when my Dad married my second Step-Mom, Paula, and her dear-hearted family took me and my sisters in—they were unsure of our background, character and whatnot, but they loved us anyways. I said "anyways" intentionally. 'Cause that's the way I roll in the bloggy world.

There's a lot of love to be had, tho, and Megan Jane and I recently had a lengthy convo about connecting with people we loved. She helped show me that "connecting with people" simply means welcoming them into my heart. It doesn't matter why they're welcomed—genes or friendship or Interwebbing. "Loved ones" is a very broad idea.

That's all that matters.

Amalah, Attention Whore, Bat Shit Crazy, Brinki Dink, Broke Kid, Candy Sandwich, Dad Gone Mad, D.C. Sisterhood, Flat Coke and Flies, Grampa's House, Janee, Johnny D.C., Lucky Alibi, Metro Dad, Miss Doxie, No Longer Mrs. Borrel, Soul Kart Wheel, Sweetney, xTx and so many others I've come to know recently or have just come to know better, thank you for helping to give me a voice. And thank you for sharing yours with me.

Wow. I feel like Flava Flav looking at all of these beautiful wimins standing before me who are way outside of my league, trying to decide who I like the most. Outside of Sumthin, who shit herself, I seriously could not imagine my life without any of ya'll. I want all of you to know what time it is. It's time to recognize the beauty in your blogger sisters and brothers. 'Cause that's how we do.

In the Comments section, tell me how the Interweb has enhanced your life. No rules here. It could be an online dating connection. Porn. Discovering a long lost friend through a reunion site. A really good roast chicken recipe at foodnetwork.com. Whatevs. The winner gets a guest post on 123Valerie Strikes Again on whatever they want to write about. For serious, yo. For I am only one in a sea of cool cats and hot girls. Cats don't swim, but shurt urp.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wanna Know How Squirrels Say "I Love You?"

Okay, I can accept that I have crossed over into a strange headspace today.

Finding I was wearing my pants inside out was the first clue, but I also thought it would be a good idea to write a Craig's List post for two McDonald's Monopoly pieces I got today. Because I am a Good Person who wants to give something back, I guess.

I'm going to go home and put on a hat made of tinfoil and try to communicate with the squirrels in my neighborhood.


Amelia's e-mail about her 12-year-old son's McDonald's Monopoly collection made her the lucky recipient of the pieces proving, once again, that Craig's List is the glue that holds this universe together.

Has anyone seen the Craig's List movie? I think it's a brilliant concept, but then, I also thought the re-emergence of tube tops was something to celebrate, so my judgment may not count for much.

I forgot to include a contest yesterday, so in the Comments section, tell me if you have seen or would see the Craig's List movie. The person who gives me the most concrete argument wins any of my future McDonald's Monopoly pieces, which truthfully, I'm not likely to acquire anytime soon. So, as a default prize, you get my tinfoil hat from yesterday.

Oh! Oh! I'm a Big-Time Writer Person!

This groovy online fictional crime journal liked a story I wrote about a desperate flight attendant. Sean P.K. helped me ready it, and it was a million times better with his suggestions because he's a great writer and editor.

So, they decided they might publish it. Yay! Except that I wrote it under a pseudonym because I talk about giving baggage handlers blow jobs--not that I have. But I don't want my dear Dad, who frequently "Googles" me, thinking that I have given baggage handlers blow jobs. Only in the fictional world, Dad, I swear.

But, the pseudonym didn't quite work out as well as planned 'cause they had one name one place and another name another place. So, most of ya'll know me--no big hoo-ha--but future employers you are NOT allowed to use this information against me. JennyJenny8675309, the way smart intellectual property lawyer, said as much. So there.

Also, go visit the journal because they sent me a wicked cool t-shirt. I'm easy. I admit it freely. Again, Dad, it's a figure of speech. Sort of.

In the Comments section, tell me about the most memorable flight experience you had. Bonus points for stories regarding a flight attendant you thought was moonlighting as a criminal. The winner gets to wear my Thug Lit t-shirt. Holla.


Not so fast, 123Valerie. Don't start patting yourself on the back for being a genius just yet.

Um, I'm fairly ashamed to admit that I came to work, sat down and realized I had my pants on inside out. Doof!

To be fair, they're simple black dress pants, but Geez. I'm awesome. Who wants to make out with me?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

So, hi. Random camping photo as promised. Allison took this one.

FYI: That's Megan Jane in the middle-left doing her best Jane Fonda.

Charles in Charge

With all of the recent hubbub regarding Wonder Dog Bean, I realized I forgot to even mention Charles the Cat.

Charles also belongs to JennyJenny8675309, but I love him unconditionally.

Charles likes to "knead the dough" on my tummy. Ya'll know what I'm talking about—that weird cat move where they pretend to march in place on you, alternately pressing one paw then the other into your soft fleshy parts. Charles likes to do that early in the morning whilst purring and rubbing his head against mine so his bristly whiskers tickle my nose. I like him.

Megan Jane doesn't like Charles the Cat so much because a) she's highly allergic to cats and has been as long as I've known her since we were 9. She always powers on through because she generally loves animals, but she pretty much gets stuffy, puffy, swollen, snotty and red. And 2) Charles basically has free reign over the house.

Now, don't get me wrong—JennyJenny8675309 and I are very clean, which includes things like litter boxes and guest bathrooms (of which we have two. There are four bathrooms in our house. FOUR! More bathrooms than there are bedrooms. But, I digress).

Though we are very clean, JennyJenny8675309 and I are very relaxed when it comes to animal behaviors. Thus, Wonder Dog Bean is welcome on the couch and Charlie the Cat can go wherever the hell he wants, including the kitchen counter and dining room table. That grosses Megan Jane out, which I can understand.

Animal behavior tolerances are akin to asking someone to be completely forgiving about your beloved's body odor: you might find the scent tolerable—even appealing—but unless one is in love with that person, they're not going to want to inhale the funk. Ditto for stray cat hairs.

Charlie the Cat is currently curled up on my bed, giving me the stink eye. He wants me to turn off the lights so he can get some goddamn sleep already, for crying out loud. It's almost 1:30, after all. But, Wonder Dog Bean and I are excited: JennyJenny8675309 is coming home tomorrow. Yay! It's been lonely without her.

It's nice to find a roommate whom I enjoy. Plus, it's been really hard work rotating to use ALL of those flipping bathrooms.

In the Comments section, tell me about any person, place or thing named Charles that you know and enjoy. I have my dear friend Charles Jett whom I love. We can't seem to ever get a hold of each other, but that's okay because with friends you don't always need to talk to "connect." I also love Charleston, South Carolina, and Charleston Chews candies. The winner can come over and have Charles the Cat knead the dough on your tummy.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Jesus Christ's Superstars

Have you ever started jamming to a song on the radio, only to find that you've been listening to a Christian station?

Oh, man, I hate that. I don't know why. I'm a Christian (BTW: Happy Yom Kippur to all my Jewish cats). It just seems there's something inherently nerdy about Christian music, so I always feel a little duped when I find myself enjoying it.

I know Christian metal and rap and ska and punk exist, but it's like, "C'mon kids. You're not fooling me. If Jesus really wanted you to be playing that crap, you'd be in a secular band, on the road, drinking, drugging and sexin' the way He intended rock stars to do. Instead, you're playing the Walnut Hill Fellowship Hall."

A similar thing happened today on the way to work. I usually listen to the news or talk radio, so I stopped at a station where a man was saying brilliant things like, "Stress comes from knowing the right thing to do and then doing the opposite." I thought it might be Dr. Phil's brother or something.

I wanted to say, "Yeah! YEAH! That is so flipping true. Hallelujah, dude. Preach on."

And then he did. And I got upset because I thought this guy was so smart and it turns out he's a stupid preacher.

And I then I had to stop and re-examine my own prejudices. I don't like re-examining myself because it's like snooping in your parent's bedroom: you always find something that you never wanted to know about.

I don't like to think of myself as a closed-minded person, but just because I don't like to think of myself that way doesn't mean I'm not. At least sometimes, anyway. I'm very progressive about women's rights, and gay rights, and civil rights and copyrights and even right hand turns on red. But, for some reason, I have a block when it comes to admitting that some evangelical preachers are progressive and smart, too.

I guess I've just seen too many Jerry Falwell speeches and spent an ugly summer attending the Mill Creek Baptist Church, during which I saw heinous behavior and judgment, all in the name of Christ's love.

When I moved in with my Mom at the end of my junior year of high school, her best friend Judy suggested I join her son's youth group to meet people. I was loosely raised Catholic, so the idea of being close with God was sort of foreign to me. I went, and it was nice to feel the passion, the energy in that group. Kids my age so sure of something.

I later realized that same passion could be turned around and, instead of being used to include someone, it was wielded to ostracize, to judge and to guilt. That's no good. Calling young women whores is no good. Allowing young men to behave in cruel, aggressive ways in the name of "soldiering for Jesus" is no good. Bible studies turned into secret sex romps is no good. Actually, that one is kind of good. I just got an idea for a porno screenplay.

But, you get the picture. I got out before they turned on me, but it soiled my view of hardcore Christians forever. I'm kind of a Christian-lite: All of the belief with 40% less judgment. Except when it comes to other Christians. Go figure.

Well, hell. How did I get started on this? I meant to write further about my sucky weekend and how my life is lackluster right now. I suppose this was a better read. Being a sad sack is getting old, but at least Jesus loves me.

In the Comments section, tell me something good you heard on the radio. The winner gets a hug from me. Actually, this prize is more for my benefit. I could use a good hug.