Catch Up

So, for the 5 of you who follow me faithfully, I would like to apologize for my absence.  Apparently, my mortgage company and credit card companies like to be paid with cash and not with blog posts so I had to actually get some work done these last few weeks.  I'm a terrible multi-tasker when it comes to work mode vs. creative mode so creative mode got shoved to the side.

However, I have tried to keep track over the last few weeks some of the random assholes I've come across just so I could sit down one day and share them with you.  They are in no order (I don't even think chronological) so here we go:

1.  Two Assholes Go to the Plaza Art Fair.  Friday night the Hubs and I were suddenly childless and we decided to take advantage of our time alone and go to a restaurant without a kid's menu.  We headed to the Plaza or the "city" as our kids call it.  It's basically a suburb with unaccredited schools.  As we got closer to the Plaza we noticed a lot of traffic. "Woohoo, look at us," I said. "We're so cool tonight.  Everyone is here!"  We got closer and the traffic got even heavier.  We started noticing signs at all the parking garages saying "FULL".  That's when we realized it was the Plaza Art Fair weekend.  It's a pretty popular event and we'd stumbled into it accidentally.  We started to get worried.  Would we have to go back to the normal suburbs with kid's menus?  The Hubs pulled down a side street looking for street parking and that's when we saw them.  The Two Assholes.  (I know, you were beginning to think the two assholes were me and the Hubs.  Wrong!)  Remember that SNL skit with the Two A-Holes Go (Fill in the Blank)?  These guys were the models for that skit.  A man and a women both wearing trendy jeans with bling (I don't like a man in Wranglers or blinged jeans - there must be a common ground somewhere in the middle??) and huge dark sunglasses (at dusk, of course).  She's got a glass of wine and he has a bottle of foreign beer.  They're sort of swaying like idiots and I realize they each have a Post-It note in their hands that they're showing us:  "Parking $20".  I don't know about where you live, but I live in Kansas City and parking is NEVER $20.  And at the Plaza, parking is free.  I have no idea where this primo spot is because they're standing on the curb surrounded by cars.  For their sake, I hope it's in a parking garage close by.  I can only imagine what it sounded like when those two douches hatched this genius money making scheme around 5 PM that night.

"Hey babe?" he asks.

"Yeah babe?" she replies, putting down her Us Weekly.

"You wanna make some money tonight?"

"Umm...I don't know.  How?  It better not involve the webcam."

"No, no.  Not this time.  No, we could totally move the Beemer out of the garage and park it on the street and then rent our spot in the garage for like $10."

"$10?  Are you crazy?  That spot is worth more than that.  I need more money than that if we're going to stand on the corner."

"True.  So, like, $15?"

"No.  Way.  At least $20.  We'll start at $20 and then when the free garages start filling up, we'll keep raising the price.  We'll probably get like $100."

"Sweet!  Let's go.  I'll make the signs.  Where are the Post-Its?"

"I'll get the drinks."

I have no idea if they rented their spot or not.  I can say that after another trip around the block, the Hubs had a hunch and he pulled into a garage that said "FULL" and he found a parking spot right across the street from the restaurant.  He has Jedi Parking Powers.  The Force is always strong with him when we need parking.

2.  More Assholes at the Plaza Art Fair.  After finding our fab parking spot we headed over to the restaurant.  We had picked this restaurant for one simple reason.  We had a gift card and we are cheap.  We don't particularly like this restaurant, but we didn't want to spend money anywhere else, so here we were.  We walked in and the hostess told us it would be a 45 minute wait for the Dining Room or we could eat in the "Lounge" (bar).  We knew we didn't have enough conversation to get us through 45 minutes of wait time AND dinner, so we opted for the Lounge.  She told us to find a table and seat ourselves.  The Lounge was pretty full, but there were some empty high top tables and low tables.  We decided on a low table.  We were wedged in between some other tables and we saw that if we just moved down two tables there were lots of open tables.  We thought it was a no brainer and moved there.  We did not notice that we'd gone from tables set with rolled silverware to tables with teepeed napkins and silverware displayed.  The chairs, tables, salt and pepper shakers, et al. were all the same.  Just the napkin/silverware layout was different.  After a few minutes of being ignored, finally a man in a white jacket approached us, "Uhhh...did the hostess seat you here or...."

"No, she told us to take an open table."

"Right.  But in the Lounge.  Not the Dining Room."

We looked around, one table over people were drinking and having a great time (with rolled silverware).

"Is this the Dining Room?"

"Yes.  You're in the Dining Room.  That is the Lounge."

"How would we know the difference?"

"Well, this column, of course separates the Lounge from the Dining Room."  He pointed to a random column between the Lounge table and the Dining Room table.  Of course.  It's so obvious.  That and the silverware display.

We moved back into the Lounge (after I licked the Dining Room silverware) and met our server (all in black, because that's how the Lounge rolls) and had our meal.

I would have been more than a little pissed to wait 45 minutes and be seated one column away from the raucous bar area.  45 minutes just so my napkin is the shape of a teepee?  Blow me.

Once we were in the Lounge area, I noticed the mating rituals going on at the bar.  I love people watching (duh) and making fun of them as much as I can (double duh).

I live in sweat pants (oops, I think we call them Yoga Pants now), jeans, cargo pants and leggings.  Style is not even in my vocabulary.  I dress like a mid 1990s Eddie Bauer plus sized model right down to the sensible shoes.  I can't even remember what I wore that night to dinner, but I'm sure it was nothing spectacular.  My style motto is Never Stand Out, Always Blend In To The Surroundings.  The girls at the bar that night had a different motto. Theirs was The Trendier, The Better.  Now I know why there are so many shows about how to look 10 pounds lighter in your clothes.  When you wear a one piece jumpsuit with short shorts that looks like it's made out of burlap and you belt it with an enormous belt and throw a 3/4 length sleeve blazer over that and pair it with high heeled booties you're going to look 20 pounds heavier than you are.  Or if you wear a calico sundress with Uggs and a fur vest, that's going to add 10 pounds.  What the hell?  Come on girls, you look like dumbasses.  You're pretty girls, stop making yourselves so ugly with your lemming-like approach to fashion.  My rule of thumb, If it looks fat on the hanger, it's going to look fat on you.

And the boy-men in more blinged out jeans and pointy shoes.  I think it's great that men have embraced their metrosexual side, but I'm just glad the Hubs also dresses like pg. 34 in the Eddie Bauer catalog.  We set the bar very low for each other.

3.  Dog Lovers at the Overland Park Fall Festival.  This sort of goes with my previous post, but it's a twist I had never seen so I had to share.  I had to work at the comfort station provided by Johnson County Mothers & More (Check us, moms!  Even if you don't live in JoCo, it's a national organization there could be a chapter in your city.)  It was a busy day and we, of course, focused on moms and their needs, but I couldn't help but notice the influx of older women with their post-menopause babies.  A few years ago when my sister in law and I were both pregnant with our first babies, my mother who had never had a dog, wanted a dog, hated dogs, etc. went out and adopted a dog.  She got a dog that is like a baby.  He loves to be held like a baby, swaddled in his blanket and cuddled.  It's silly.  I started calling him her post-menopause baby and let me tell you, she is not the only one.

At the Fall Festival I saw so many older women with dogs in strollers.  Yes, strollers.  I just did a little search on Amazon.  I had no idea.  Those suckers can cost up to $100!!!


One lady told me her dog was pooped from a 5K pup walk earlier in the day and that was why she was pushing him around.  Uh huh, that made total sense.

I've seen strollers before, just not as fancy as the ones I saw that day.  I did see something I've never seen before.  Check this out:

It's a Baby Bjorn for your dog.  I DO love the name "Outward Hound", but all in all it is ridiculous.

It's cheap, though.  Only 20 bucks.  I know what I'm getting my mother for Christmas!!!!!

9/11



Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  Every year the media starts earlier and earlier with the memories and tributes to 9/11.  I'm actually starting to write this on 8/30 because there are so many articles and photos bringing that day to mind.  I decided I should get this down while the emotions are here.

This really isn't so much a punch as just a chance for me to document that day as I remember it.  That way someday when my kids are studying this event I can let them read this and they'll know where their dad and mom were that day.

It was a gorgeous, beautiful, stunning day in New York City.  I still remember walking out of the subway station in midtown that morning and I noticed what a beautiful day it was.  I can't remember what the previous day's weather had been, but I remember noticing what a perfect day it was that morning.  I remember thinking I couldn't wait until lunch time because I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the day.  I remember what I was wearing that day.  A black skirt with a tan and black striped shell and cardigan sweater and black flats (thank God I'd chosen flats that day).

I think part of the reason the city looked so beautiful and rosy to me that morning was because I was wearing a shiny new diamond for the first time.  Just the night before the Hubs had gotten down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.  I was bursting with the news and couldn't wait to tell my friends at work.

I glided into the office ready to make my big announcement when I noticed everyone crowded around the big screen TV in my boss's office.  We worked for a private investment bank and at first I thought there was something big going on with the market.

"What's going on?"  I asked.

"Shh," my coworker said.  "A plane flew into the World Trade Center and now the building is on fire."

My coworker had worked in the WTC the first time it was bombed in 1993 and she remembered how difficult and scary it was to evacuate that building in those days.

"This looks bad," she said.  "They've got to get those people out."

"Where is the plane?" I asked.  I'd seen way too many Hollywood movies and I expected to see the tail section sticking out of the building or something like that.

"It's gone," another coworker said.  "It was just a little Cessna.  Didn't have a chance against that building."

We watched the live feed for a bit longer until we saw the second aircraft come into view.

I said, "What is that other plane doing there?  Don't they see the building is on fire?  They should get out of the way, they're going to accidentally hit the building."

Yeah.  "Accidentally."  That's what I said.  See at this point we had no idea there was a jetliner inside the first building and we never fathomed for a moment that second one would hit the other building.

But sure enough, as we and the rest of the world watched, the plane sliced right into the south tower.  We saw the plane disappear into the side of the building.  I waited for it come back out the other side and it didn't.  The building swallowed it whole.

We were stunned.  Quietly, someone next to me started to cry.

Another coworker came running into our office and began wildly looking out windows.

"What are you doing?"  I asked her, "You can't see downtown from here."

"I know," she replied.  "I'm looking for more planes.  We're under attack!  I'm going down to the street.  I'm not staying up here any longer."

We were on the 31st floor of a non descript high rise that would not make a statement to bomb.  But she had a point, we were surrounded by famous landmark buildings like the Seagram Building and the Citibank Building.  I hadn't even thought about more planes yet.

I just wanted to click my heels three times and end up back in Kansas.

We stayed glued to the TV until we saw both of the buildings fall.  My coworker who had survived the first WTC attack was stunned.  She estimated 40,000 people had just lost their lives on live television.  She remembered how slow and chaotic the evacuation of the building had been and she couldn't imagine that it had changed at all.  (Thank God a lot of lessons had been learned since the first attack and the buildings were evacuated quickly.)

The phone rang and it was our boss.  He was stranded in London because of all the now-grounded flights.  He was pissed off and wanted us to get him home.  I'm sure he was trying to click his heels too, but instead of being sensitive to what was happening, he was just an asshole.  He asked for the Dictaphone so he could start working on an anti-terrorism speech.  I guess that's his way of dealing with stress and grief.

My normally calm and composed coworker snapped at him, "We just watched thousands of people die!  The planes are grounded!  Go back to your hotel!"

We all stayed close to the TV most of the morning.  I called the Hubs (fiance) and my mom back in Kansas and told them I was doing OK.  We weren't quite sure what to do.  My boss kept calling in and asking to be connected to various dignitaries so he could figure out what was going on.  He kept dictating memos to me over the phone.  After about an hour or so we decided to leave Manhattan.

Everyone was leaving their offices and heading back to the presumed safety of their homes.  We decided to leave too.

My coworker and her husband lived near me in Queens and we were trying to figure out how to get home.  All of the public transportation was suspended and the bridges and tunnels in and out of Manhattan were locked down.  If we wanted to get home to Queens, we were going to have to hoof it.

I called the Hubs and told him where to meet us in Queens.  We were going to walk across the 59th Street Bridge and meet him somewhere on the other side so he could drive my friends home.

My coworker and I shut down our computers and gathered our stuff.  Her husband came into the office with 2 bottles of water each.  "It's going to be a long walk and we need to be prepared," he said.  I had not even thought of that.  I didn't even have my cell phone that day.  I'd left it on the charger in my apartment.

We grabbed our waters and started walking.  We walked out the back door of our building onto Lexington.  I'd never seen the roads so empty of non-essential vehicles.  Taxis, limos, buses, vans, cars were all out of the way.  Lexington runs south towards downtown and it was full of screaming emergency vehicles from all over the metro heading down to the WTC.  We crossed over to Third Avenue, which runs north.  It too was full of emergency vehicles going to the wrong way on a one way street.

That day I saw a side of New York City I'd never seen before.  People were scared, but they were not panicked.  People were helping one another and taking turns, being helpful.  I saw employees of an athletic shoe store encouraging women in heels to come in and grab a free pair of tennis shoes for their long walk.  I saw people lining up in orderly fashion at ATMs waiting patiently to get cash.  I saw friends and strangers comforting one another.  No one ran, no one pushed, no one yelled.  We just walked together.  In stunned silence really.  Some people were crying quietly, others were on the phone with loved ones.  Everyone was just trying to process what was happening around us.  The sky was still clear and the sun was shining brightly, but our world was becoming very dark around us.  I felt such a heavy feeling of doom settling over me.  I noticed a pregnant woman walking behind me and I thought to myself, How could you want to bring a baby into this horrible world?

By the time we got about halfway across the 59th Street Bridge we could see a lot of people ahead of us stopping and looking downtown.  This was our first glimpse of what was left of the WTC.  Many people were taking pictures of themselves with the huge clouds of smoke billowing behind them.  At the time I thought it was in poor taste, now I'm not sure.  Ten years later we're so used to taking pictures of EVERYTHING that something of that magnitude might actually make a lot more sense than "Look at this giant blister on my toe."  I wish now I had my own pictures from that day to document the tragedy that I witnessed.  Already the details grow fainter and I think pictures would help me remember better.

We stopped for a moment to look at the site to just let our minds absorb what we were seeing.  Two huge skyscrapers gone in a cloud of ash and dust.  It boggled the mind to really look down towards lower Manhattan and see that cloud and know there was nothing there.

While we stood there thinking about the destruction and loss of life we were witnessing, 3 fighter jets screeched overhead, very low.  People on the bridge cheered and said the usual stuff like, "Yeah!  America!  Go get 'em!"  Stupid patriotic shit like that that you see in Michael Bay movies.  All I could think was, How do you know those are American jets?


When I voiced my concern out loud my companions looked at me like I was insane.  "Who else would it be?"  I was asked.

"I don't know.  Whoever hit the buildings.  Maybe now they're sending in the fighter jets to take down the entire city."

"Jen, you're crazy.  It's over.  Those are Americans.  They're protecting our airspace.  Nothing can get through now."

"Hmm.  If you say so," I answered.  "I'm just glad we're not walking home across the Brooklyn Bridge or the George Washington Bride though."

"Why?" they asked.

"Because no one's really heard of the 59th Street Bridge.  No one would care if this one blew up, but those other bridges are famous.  You know they're going to blow up once they're full of people walking home.  Everyone knows that when something big happens in Manhattan they lock down the bridges and tunnels and people have to walk.  Once those bridges are full I'm sure they're rigged to blow up."

I was serious.  Dead serious.  It just made complete sense to me.  Why stop with two buildings?  The city was on its knees, it was time for the kill.  I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Everyone stopped talking to me and we walked the rest of the way pretty much in silence.

We found the Hubs in Queens and he shuttled us all home.  It had taken about 3 hours to walk to our meeting place.

I spent the rest of the day holed up in my apartment watching the live coverage.  I didn't want to leave my couch.  I had the weirdest thoughts like, That's the picture I'd put on a flyer if my fiance was missing. Or I wish Super Man was real.  He'd kick Osama's ass.  I stockpiled water and I put $1000 in cash under my mattress and called it "Flee Money."

Ten years later I'll spend the anniversary of 9/11 taking my kids to the circus.  I'll be slightly concerned that we'll be in a "soft target" and the threat level has gone up for the anniversary.  Ten years ago I didn't know what a "soft target" was or that there was even a threat level.  A lot has changed and it pisses me off that this is the world my children are being raised in.  Our innocence has been stolen and I wish I could get it back.  I'm not naive, I know that we created Osama and that the U.S. runs all sort of shit behind the scenes where we make and break world leaders overnight, but I just wish our government would have taken their head out of their ass for a moment and looked at the big picture before they started wheeling and dealing with Osama bin Laden and his crew.

A Bunch of Punches

1.  The lady on 69 highway who tried to run us off the road today when we were merging onto the highway.  Hello, there is a construction barricade in front of us, where would you like us to go?  PS - thanks for the bird, I really enjoyed educating my 4 year old as to what THAT meant.  "I think she just got her nails done and she thinks that's the prettiest one and she wants us to see!"

2.  The motorcyclist I saw later on 69 highway popping a wheelie in front of me.  Please don't do that again.  I really don't care if you kill yourself, but when you wipe out, I'd rather not be the one to drive over your lifeless body like a speed bump at 70 mph.  I don't have cat-like reflexes so I'd definitely hit you and then I'd have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life.  Douche.

3.  Parents who buy their teenage sons F150 trucks with oversized tires that can drive over ME like a speedbump and then those same parents who buy their teenage daughters little Japanese shit boxes (always with thumping bass).  Both of these drivers are going to end in tragedy.  The boys will run up my back end at a red light someday and crush my family and I'll T-bone the girls someday when they run a red light and I'll kill them.  Why do these people put their kids in tanks and shit boxes?  A nice Camry should do the trick.  I think that's what I'll get my kids to drive when their time comes.  They can't drive over anyone or roll it going around a corner too fast, it can take a hit, it gets good gas mileage, has crappy bass and no one will ever want to catch a ride with them in their Dweebmobile so I won't have to worry about too many kids distracting my easily distractable kids.

4.  Parents who feel the need to put Baby on Board signs in their car windows.  What does this accomplish really?  You paid $4.99 to let the world know you are a parent of a small child.  Hooray for you.  That's such a rarity.  NO ONE has ever had a baby in a car before.  How do you do it?  Tell us your secret!  P.S. - I think the Swaggerwagon gave us our first clue you had a baby on board, but still, the sign was helpful too.  Really!

Ugh.

The company who makes these ridiculous signs assures us that when you have this sign prominently displayed in your window other drivers will use caution around you.  Bullshit.  Other drivers will laugh at you.  They will say, "Look at that idiot.  He paid 5 bucks for that stupid sign.  Quick, honey speed up and get right on his bumper.  That will scare the hell out of him."

No one drives around thinking, "Hmm, where are the people with older children?  When I lose control on this icy patch of highway I want to be sure to swerve into them, not that car that has a baby on board."

I would also argue that these signs are not safe when it comes to kidnappers/pedophiles/etc.  A few months ago I took a tour of the fire station and I asked the Chief why they don't have those little stickers we had when we were kids.  The ones your parents put in your windows so the firemen knew there was a kid in that room that needed to be rescued.  Remember those?  He told me that they stopped doing that because it was literally a beacon for sickos who wanted kids.  I would argue the Baby on Board sign is the same kind of thing.  You're advertising you have a valuable commodity.  Between the Swaggerwagon and the Baby on Board sign, I sure hope these moms are packing heat.

5.  The idiot who left this sign in the middle of the dark street last night:


This picture really doesn't do this thing justice.  It's about 3 feet tall and it has a bit of a glow at night.  I came around a corner in a residential neighborhood on a main street and this thing was in the MIDDLE of the road at 11:30 PM last night!  WTF!!  I about had a heart attack and then when I realized what it was, I was pissed.  This is the main street of the neighborhood and you put this thing in the middle of the road?  It's a road, you moron, not a playground.  You have a drive way, a sidewalk and a yard for your kid to play in and you put your POS plastic doll in the road urging me to go slow?  Screw you.  I really thought hard last night about driving over that thing.  I was afraid it would scratch my car though.  So I drove around it.  This morning, after thinking of so many things I COULD have done to it last night I've decided that the next time I will decapitate it or string it up from a tree.  The owner has been warned.  

6.  Madonna.  She has always been arrogant and obnoxious, but I let her get away with it in 80s and 90s when I loved her music and her style.  Now Lady GaGa is the new Madonna and the old one feels the need to trot her wrinkled, yet freakishly toned arms out for the world to see again lest we forget who she is.


Now Madonna's just a bitter old woman gallivanting around with her 23 year old boy toy, dissing fans (Who the hell would know you "absolutely loathe hydrangeas" you condescending bitch??) while faking a British accent.

Come on, Madonna, can't you just go quietly into the night?  Just take your boy toy (you've seen the pics, is anyone else's gaydar going nuts?  I'm pretty sure he's gay.) and retire to your castle and raise flowers (not hydrangeas, of course) and adopt/steal more kids from Africa while you study the Kaballah.

You're 53 years old now, Madonna, it was fun while it lasted, but no one wants to see you in a bullet bra again and the whole nun/cross thing is overdone at this point and it's not controversial.  GaGa is wearing raw meat for God's sake and has a male alter ego!  Why would you even want to compete with that?  If you want to be more controversial you'll have to wear a dress of aborted fetuses and stick your tongue down the throat of GaGa's male alter ego at the MTV Awards Show.  Are you prepared to do that?   Probably.

Why My Children Have No Right to Privacy

My friend Kim at Let Me Start By Saying wrote an essay that was featured on the Huffington Post . It was about reading her five-year-old...