123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Port of Call

"Half of the time we're gone but we don't know where, and we don't know where." The Only Living Boy In New York

Here in Cleveland, we enjoyed our three days of sunshine for the year. Oh, I kid -- we actually get about 45 solidly sunny days, which is still abysmally low compared to … well, anywhere else.

But we make the most of them, like Amish teens' during their Rumspringa -- when it gets warm after so many months of sedative cold and snow, we go flipping crazy up in here. Behold:

That's right, son. Sun tea next to a giant tea cup full of herbs I just planted. What what! (Giant tea cup courtesy of Kirstin's good taste in birthday gifts.)

Eh, I think I'm growing up, my pretties. A few years back, I would've celebrated the advent of summer with a tube top and drinking so hard that when said tube top would fall down, I wouldn't even care. Now? I make tea and grow things.

I'm all right with it, the transition. I think. I mean, there's no rule I can't wear a tube top while planting things.

I guess I'm in a little bit of a crummy mood because I got some bad news. I just found out that a woman I used to volunteer with, Jude, died late last year.

A few years ago, I came across an organization that provides grocery shopping for people who can still cook and feed themselves but who have trouble getting out of the house. I signed on to be a personal shopper volunteer because it was, like, the most-perfect position for me EVER.

The agency paired me with Jude who, at the time, was suffering from edema and severe obesity. I don't recall how big she was exactly but suffice to say that upon meeting her, I immediately understood why it was difficult for her to leave the house.

The director of the agency said she'd had a revolving door with Jude, but it wasn't Jude's personality -- it's just that neither she, nor her home, smelled very pleasant. Jude's housekeeping strategy was to not do it and, best as I could tell, her bathtub doubled as a storage area for VHS tapes.

Plus, Jude eventually opened up to me that when you're a large person with limited mobility, there are certain facts of life you have to deal with, including that sometimes you can't make it to the bathroom in time.

Now, if I'm painting a sad portrait of this woman's life, let me assure you that, yes, it was. But, the reason that I visited and shopped for Jude for more than a year was that she was full of moxie. She was whip-smart and had a sassy mouth.

She was from upstate New York, a point she liked to make often. "They can't fool me; I'm from upstate, OK?"

Jude loved to debate politics and, whenever I came to her with a story about a no-good boy or a professor who was giving me guff, she always had the perfect retort. I get the sense, though, that she was someone who spent a lifetime thinking about the things she should have said but didn't.

After I'd been shopping for her about six months, she told me that she'd looked up an old boyfriend on the Internet and contacted him. It'd been 30 years, she said. Now he was working at the statehouse or something -- a rising politician.

"There's nothing worse," she said. "I can't believe I used to love him."

She told me that he was surprised to hear from her, but his reply e-mail was pleasant enough.

"I ought to send him a fake picture of a beautiful woman just because," she told me.

That deflated my heart -- I'm sure I'm murmured something about how she was lovely in her own way. At least I hope I did.

In any case, I had to part ways with Jude when I moved to Maryland, but she sent me e-cards every now and again. In one, she told me she'd been approved for gastric bypass and was looking forward to becoming who she was meant to be. I was thrilled for her.

Then I got a change of address card -- she was making a fresh, clean start, she said. New digs. I was overjoyed.

And then … nothing. I assumed she had settled into her happy, new life. I was so majorly bummed to learn she had actually settled into death. So, yes, the sunshine has definitely left me today.

Well, that's not quite true -- this news has me thinking about how I spend my time. And where I spend my time. My dear boss recently quit and took a position that brought her to the beach, and I think a similar change of scenery would do wonders for me. I'm thinking I might summer in Portland, Maine -- any closet Portland readers out there?

In a completely unrelated note, the sunshine spurred me to cover Billy Ocean's When the Going Gets Tough. I told ya'll the heat makes us crazy.

In the Comments section, tell me where you'd like to summer and/or if you're a Portland peep.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Chow Time

I accidentally ate dog food today.

See, I often put dog kibble in my jacket pockets when I walk the dogs as rewards for nice doggie behavior.

This morning, I was hungry and threw a few smoked almonds into my pocket, which I totally thought was empty ... I guess you can see where this is going.

It tasted like a beef-flavored crouton -- wasn't half bad, actually.

In the Comments section, tell me what's in your pocket.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fantasy Island

Has this ever happened to you?

Maybe you're a single gal and you stumble upon the blog of a funny, intelligent, attractive blogger and spend a good two hours scouring his archives and THEN, 847 posts in, he finally mentions his wife and it crushes you because your fantasy of a whirlwind romance with said handsome blogger has suddenly crashed and burned?

No? Me either. My life is totally balanced.

In the Comments section, tell me about the best part of your day so far.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Playing Ketchup

He found me in the cured meats section. I'd spent seven minutes lusting after some real bacon before finally settling for the 25-calorie-a-slice turkey bacon with the suspect coloring.

"Hey," he said, "I don't have enough money for this sausage. Can you help me out?"

Ohhhh. "I'm so sorry," I said. "I don't have any cash on me" and I didn't. Then I walked away.

I meandered around the grocery, collecting a coconut, some dried thyme, tahini, frozen Brussels sprouts and a couple of lemons. You know, the basics. Then I took my place in line and who did I see?

"Hey," he said, "I don't have enough money for these potatoes. Can you help me out?"

"Again, I don't have any cash … … but I guess you can put them on my tab," I said.

"OK. Thanks, miss," he said, and plunked down his sack of taters. His dilated pupils pulsed under the fluorescent lights as he talked.

I was just about ready to swipe my card when he showed up again with a bottle of ketchup.

"Mmm?" he said, holding up the bottle of name brand catsup by way of permission. I don't even buy name-brand catsup!!

Le sigh.

"Fine. That's it, though."

So, I bought a strange, desperate man with big pupils a sack of potatoes and a bottle of ketchup. I'm thankful I'm in a position to easily afford it. Why, then, do I feel so guilty that I had the security guard walk me a good part of the way home?

In the Comment section, tell me what you would ask a stranger to buy you at the grocery store if you were desperate and hungry. Myself? I'd go for apples, bread and a big hunk of cheese.

Did Not. Did Too. Did Not.


About a year ago, I met a boy from the Internet and we went on a date. Just a simple dinner. It was nice. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give him a strong 7. We had an innocent good-night kiss and plans were made to see each other again. And then he stood me up twice in a row, so I shrugged my shoulders and chalked it up to asshattery.

Well, he sent me an e-mail yesterday to the effect of "I'm sorry. I got really busy and then I lost my phone with all of my numbers and then I didn't hear from you and then I was attacked by killer bees ..."

It felt a little like that scene in Dude, Where's My Car? with the Chinese lady: "And then ... and then ... and THEN!"

He finished the note with: "I thought you were really attractive and I'd love to hang out again. I had such a good time building that campfire with you."

… ?


Now, I'm a gal who LOVES campfires. I would have remembered a date like that. Obviously, dude was hopped up on goofballs and had me confused with someone else he impolitely stood up.

So, I told him so.

"I'm afraid you've got me mixed up with someone else. I don't recall a campfire. What I do remember is that you stood me up twice, and didn't return my last call, so I'm sure you'll understand why I'm not interested in seeing you again. On the up side, maybe you can reconnect with the other girl."

OK, finite. Have a nice life, bozo.

But, oh no -- not this peach. "I'm not confused. I remember you. And I remember having sex."

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa? That's a bold statement, muchacho.

So, I wrote back: "Well, there are two possibilities here: One, you have DEFINITELY got the wrong girl because we didn't have sex. Or, two, we had sex and I thought it was so awful that I literally have blocked it out of my memory. Take your pick."

Funny, I haven't heard back from him.

In the Comments section, tell me about your experience with mistaken identity.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Top Secret

OK, so it's been proven to me time and again that all of the cool kids are using Tumblr, but given that I only relatively recently set up a MySpace page, it seems unlikely that I'll migrate. Still, I'm not above stealing genius ideas.

Many of the Tumblr kids are posting secret messages to the bloggers they follow. I, for one, think this is a wonderful idea because there are things that I feel about many of you that I could never, or would never, leave in your comments section. Believe it or not, I spend a lot of my day thinking about you.

So, here are some secret messages.

  • I don't think you give yourself enough credit. You make the world a much nicer place.
  • Seriously, you really bum me out. Like, a lot. Still, I can't not look to see what messes you've made for yourself this time or the latest attempt for sympathy. Thanks for making me feel better about my life.
  • I think you are one of the most magnificent human beans I've ever had the pleasure to come across. You seem almost magical.
  • What in THE HELL are you doing with him?
  • You can't fool me; you're not happy.
  • I crave your approval.
  • There isn't one single aspect of your life that I'd like to have.
  • I like to believe that one day we will fall in love.
  • You do such amazing stuff! Sometimes I can't read every day because it reminds me of all of the things I'm not doing.
  • It's so old. Just quit it already.
  • I hope you find what you're looking for. I really, really do. In the meantime, it's mildly entertaining to read about your attempts at trying to find it.
  • You never fail to brighten my day. It makes me oh-so-happy when I see tiny bits of myself in you.

In the Comments section, leave a secret message for a blogger you follow.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

At the Core

Apple core, Baltimore, who's your friend?

My Mom used to say that rhyme all the time in a sing-song voice, but she never could accurately explain what it meant.

"It's, you know, just something we said as kids. Like on the playground."

"Yeah, but was it, like, a game? Did you skip or hopscotch to it? Did you say when someone was eating an apple? It's so random--would you just spit it out Tourette's style whenever you felt like it?"

"I guess so," she said. "It doesn't really mean anything"

I don't like things that don't have meaning. In my world everything has meaning. Of course, I'm also kind of hyper-sensitive. Well, I guess you can't be "kind of" hypersensitive, so, yes, I am hyper-sensitive.

This is what my apple cores look like because I have superior paring knife skillz.

For instance, Old High School Boyfriend Chad commented that I changed the part in my hair after I sent him a recent picture of the "new" blonde I took on. (It's much more "blonde" than the strawberry blonde I recently tried to pass off as blonde. Apologies for the ruse. Pictures soon.)

And instead of letting it go, I says to myself, "Self, boys don't notice stuff like that unless …"

But then I jerked my wandering heart back and gave myself a stern talking to because I am NOT going to go there. I've spent the better part of a decade pining away for him when he's rebuffed me at every opportunity since I moved away from him when I was 17 and we broke up by default.

But because I can't ever let it go, I think at the core of his stand-offishness is insecurity. Maybe wishy-washy is a better phrase to describe him because he's always glad to see me, and he calls and e-mails me unprovoked. But then, when we get an opportunity to rekindle things--nothing. Zip.

I learned my lesson with him after the first time I made a move--he just wasn't, well, comfortable. So, when we're together, we sit there with the sexual tension looming between us.

He told me once during our teenage courtship that he was scared of me. Not, like, oh-my-God-she's-going-to-kill-me, but he said I was "just so much" followed by, "I mean, I like it, but … I don't know what to do with it."

Of course, what 17-year-old boy does know what to do with a sexually charged girl, but it was deeper than that. Still, I didn't even ask him to elaborate because I knew what he meant. It's been suggested that I can come on a little strong at times.

I guess it's the curse of all superior women--it takes a very strong man (or, ya know, other woman for the lesbian set) to match you. Even at a young age, I realized that I didn't quite act like the other girls--a bit more brazen, a bit more independent, just a bit more.

(Incidentally, Valerie means "strong." Go figure.)

I know it's 2009 but it's been my experience that a lot of men are still put off by an intelligent, capable, sexually-aware woman. I mean, not that Old High School Boyfriend Chad would want me to "know my role" or anything, but I do think that he's spent the bulk of his relationships with mousy little girls and just doesn't know what to do with me.

For those of you playing at home, I am decidedly NOT a mousy little girl. (Thought I am littler now thanks to my trainer, Patty, but I don't think I could be mousy if I tried … Wait, I'm going to try and be mousy right quick.)

[scrunches up nose and in the tiniest voice says "Whatever you want to do. I have no opinion."]

Blach. That was gross. Nope. Mousy is not happening.

And I'm trying to resign myself to the fact that a relationship with High School Boyfriend Chad probably isn't ever happening, either. That's tough for me to admit, but them's the facts. It's one thing for a 17-year-old boy to be afraid of me; it's a whole other story for a 30-year-old man to be intimidated.

I guess asking him to buck up would be about as successful as if he asked me buck down. Well, a leopard can't change her spots, but she can change her dreams.

My friend Allison is having superior success with manifesting financial abundance, so I'm going to take a cue from her. I'm imagining what it's like to be in love with a strong, secure, sexy, caring, considerate, independent, kind, goal-oriented, intelligent, funny, honest, supportive guy who doesn't snore and thinks I'm the cat's pajamas. Oooh, this is fun!

In the Comments section, tell me who YOU think is the cat's pajamas. My answer is all of you, natch. And also Ray Lamontagne. I bet he wouldn't be put off by me.

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