Wednesday, April 27, 2005

"Off night" for Idol

What was UP with American Idol last night? It just seemed like all the performers were 'off'.

Perhaps the theme of last night's show, songs from 2000-present had something to do with it. Modern music sucks for the most part. It was a lot more fun when they were doing songs from the year they were born, 70s dance music, songs from musicals, etc.

I must congratulate Vonzell and Anthony though. They had the only 2 performances worth remembering from last night.

Although I think Constantine is a crowd pleaser and a crowd favorite, even his performance last night was boring. He just ran around the stage, flinging his hair and kicking at the camera. What was that all about?

The absolute worst performance of the night was Scott. It is not easy to sing a Luther Vandross song and make people think you did a good job. But he did a terrible job. There was not 1 ounce of personality in that performance. It was if he'd been awake for 48 hours, singing 1001 songs in a row without stopping, and then he did that performance of 'Dance With My Father' last night. It was a one-way ticket to Yawns-town.

I predict Scott will be voted off tonight.

And as long as I'm predicting, I think Anthony will be voted off next week (sorry Spencer), followed by Bo the following week, leaving Vonzell, Constantine, and Carrie in the top three. I think Vonzell will go next, and Constantine will be the last to go, leaving Carrie as the winner.

But only time will tell...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Not exactly Mother's Day

I was raised a Jehovah's Witness. In 1993 I came out to my family (as gay) and told them that I was leaving the religion since it did not tolerate gay people. They claimed they were shocked - they had no idea I was gay. (I find this very hard to believe. I mean, I have photos of my hair in the 80s...) They also said they were heartbroken that they would no longer be able to see or talk to me anymore since I was leaving the church. That I believed, as I knew those to be the church's rules. My family plays by the rules, too. It has been 12 years.

In October of 2004 my mother called to tell me that my father had suffered an unexpected medical emergency and was in the hospital. Jehovah's Witnesses are allowed to communicate with a "disfellowshipped" family member in the event of an emergency, so I wasn't totally shocked to hear from her. I patiently let her tell me all about his situation, and the doctor's prognosis that he would be okay. I thought for a second or two about checking on his condition later in the week, but decided against it.

A few weeks ago I got an answering message from Paul, the son of Marie, a longtime family friend. Marie and my mother were childhood friends. Paul's message said he was trying to get in touch with my mother to let her know that Marie has passed away, so I called Paul back and gave him my mother's phone number. Then I sent an email to my mother, letting her know that Marie had passed and that I had given her phone number to Paul. A few days later I received the following email from my mother:

"Hi Mark,
I was surprised to see the e-mail and shocked to hear the news about Marie. I had no idea she was in distress so that she died. I just talked with Paul and he said Marie was found in the house by the police because neighbors hadn't seen her and her news papers were still there. She had been depressed for a few years but her main problem was diabetes. So she probably had a heart attack or a stroke. So sad, my friend for 69 years. Our mothers were friends before we were born.

Mark, there wouldn't be a problem for you to call me about such a matter. Neither would there be for you to inquire about your Dad's health. Fortunately, the Dr.s didn't find a reason for his blacking out so we are just regarding it as a fluke-a once in a life time blip or chemical imbalance. He is going on with his life and is fishing with Steve in Md. for 3 days. He is wearing a monitor but since he has had no symptoms, it's almost a waste. His most serious problem was a bruised kidney from when he fell. It is healing and he is resuming his normal activities. He is enjoying retirement, having a life free of other peoples schedules. He is still the presiding overseer in the cong. and a fine example to all. Just a great human being. A phone call or a card would have been nice, just to let him know you still care. Mary shouldn't be your only source of info.

I hope these days you are well and happy in your job. Many still inquire about you- I just wish I had something positive to tell them about you, spiritually. But, only time will tell. I hope we are still here if it happens.

We love you Mark, and wish circumstances allowed for us to be together. It is our greatest wish.
Love and hugs,

I could hardly believe that in the same email, she could scold me for not inquiring about my father's medical situation AND claim she wished circumstances allowed for us to be together. At first I shook my head in disbelief. Then I started getting angry. Then I decided I had had enough of the manipulation, and that I would write back to her in a few days when I wasn't angry and could clearly and concisely explain why I hadn't called to check on my father and why I hadn't called to relay the information about Marie.

So about two weeks later I sent this email:


I realize that I could have called you regarding Marie's passing and to inquire about Dad's health. In fact, I could call for no reason at all if I wanted to, because your religion's rules about association only apply to you - not to me. But I chose not to call because I didn't want to. Twelve years ago you, Dad, and my sisters made it clear to me that I was no longer a suitable associate for you all, despite my being your son and brother. So I find it irritating that you expect me to come running back to you all when one of you is in some kind of crisis. It is as if you think you can ignore me during the 'good' times, but expect me to be there for you in the 'bad' times. I don't think that's right.

For just one moment, think about what it was like for me when I took the only step available to me to be happy, and you all cut me off. It took quite a while, but I finally grieved the loss of my relationship with you all, the way a survivor grieves the death of a loved one. Only for me it was the equivalent of grieving the loss of both my parents, my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and friends - simultaneously. It was not easy. But knowing I would never return to the JW religion, I eventually made piece with my losses and moved on.

I have had very little contact with you, even less with Dad, and absolutely none with my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces or nephews. As I recall, Dad told you in front of me that he wasn't going to join us in the living room because he did not want people to think it was okay to associate with disfellowshipped people. I likely wouldn't even recognize the kids, so you can imagine how odd it would be for me to continue to feel warmth toward these people I used to know. Twelve years have gone by, and in that time I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with a second family. When Joe's father was alive Joe and I would frequently have Sunday family dinner at his parents house. After his father passed, Joe and I decided to visit his mother and go out to dinner with her every Thursday night. We spend time with Joe's brothers and sister and their families, too. Next month will mark 9 years that he and I have been together, and his family has been a real family to me from the start. You know that I am in frequent contact with Mary and Nez, too. So when there is a family crisis, it will be these people to whom I will run, and it will be these people that I will hold dear. I have already dealt with the loss of my first family. It would be redundant for me to to act any differently.

I realize you were probably not prepared to read this, and that my words may sound strong or harsh. But there is an old saying that goes 'you can't have your cake and eat it too'. You can't ignore me when things are going well for you and then expect me to jump at the chance to comfort you when things aren't going well for you. I'm not going to do that.

I firmly believe that we all make choices - lots of them - every day. Many times we can choose again if we're not happy with how things turned out. I know of others like me who are no longer JWs whose families eventually found a way to have a relationship with them. But every day you choose to let your religion separate you from your son. It is your choice. And I choose to continue trying to be an authentic person who does now hide behind tradition or religion or anything else, but strives to be as open and loving and genuine as I can be. That is my choice.

So when people I used to know inquire about me, I hope that you will tell them that I am healthy and happy, because that is the Truth.


Its been almost a week and I've not heard back from her. Honestly, I don't think I will. I imagine she was shocked by what I'd written, and likely now believes that my 'heart has grown cold'. (That was an expression she used on me once before.) But I sent the email and I'm glad I did because I needed to say those things and she needed to hear them. My intention was not to shock her, although I did anticipate that's what would happen. My intention was to be honest and to stop this silly cycle of no communication for months or years, as long as they are both healthy, and then to suddenly expect me to rally around them when they have a medical condition. My mother is 69 and my father is 72. At their ages, medical conditions are likely going to be coming more and more frequently. But they have three obedient Jehovah's Witness daughters whose hearts are surely as 'warm' as fresh-baked bread, so they will not be alone. And neither will I.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Those annoying ribbons...

Okay - first I will preface this posting by saying that Joe told me not to blog about this. He thought people would get the wrong idea and think I'm not patriotic. But I'm going to blog about it anyway...

I am so f'ing sick of those annoying ribbons people are putting all over their cars: yellow ribbon stickers that read "Support Our Troops", red white and blue ribbon stickers that read "I Support Our Soldiers", stars and stripes ribbon stickers that read "I Support Our Troops and Our President". I feel like pulling them off of every car I see.

And some people just don't know when enough is enough. I've seen some cars with as many as 4 ribbon stickers on them! Alright already - we understand how you feel. Quit "shouting" it at us.

Don't get me wrong. I, too, am appreciative of those who would willingly enlist in the military to protect our country. But right now our troops are in Iraq because of phony, bogus, grossly exaggerated claims of 'weapons of mass destruction'. Professionals have searched and searched and did not find any in Iraq. So then our president announces that America is still better off without Saddam Hussein.

Hello? He said the US was taking pre-emptive action against Iraq because there was imminent danger of them using WMD against us. THAT was the reason given for going to war. The fact that the world is a better place without Hussein in power is a totally different subject.

So, maybe I'm not patriotic at the moment. Maybe I am a little embarrassed by what I believe the rest of the world is thinking about America ("the bully") right now. Maybe I feel like the conservative fanaticals have 'hijacked' patriotism. And maybe that's why I am so sick of those annoying ribbons.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

This 'n that

Last weekend Joe & I were supposed to join our friends Kerry & Hugh at their cabin in the Northern Neck. Hugh wants to screen in half of the large, open back deck.

Joe decided to stay home with Jordan, so I went by myself. Joe was afraid that if Jordan started feeling badly, we would be so far away from the vet that it could be bad for her. Additionally, on Friday Jordan had an 'accident' in the TV room, and Joe was afraid that she might do that again at the cabin.

It was wonderful weather to work outside - lots and lots of sunshine. Saturday was a little on the cool side, only about 58 degrees at the warmest point in the day. But Sunday was divine: bright and sunny and 70+ degrees. Hugh and I made good progress in taking down the existing railing, removing enough of the log siding to attach the ledger board, got 2 of the 3 walls up and got the rafters put on. My drive home with the top down was deliriously enjoyable.

Tonight, about 10 minutes before 9, we heard two smashing sounds outside. All our windows are open because its so warm right now. I ran outside to see some of my neighbors coming out of their houses too. Someone had thrown a chunk of a cinder block threw the back window of my next door neighbor's cars - two of them that were parked on the street. Unfortunately this is not the first time this has happened. When the kids were out of school for Spring break, the next door neighbor family went out of town, and the same thing happened to the one car of theirs that was parked in front of the house. So it is my suspicion that this was not random, but rather, some high school kids who go to school with my neighbor's kids.

Last night was American Idol, and I really enjoyed the show. The theme was 70s dance songs, so I was in heaven! My guess was that Anwar, Scott, and Bo would be in the bottom 3, and that tonight we'd be saying "Buh-bye" to Anwar. Tonight was the results show. I was close. The bottom 3 were Anwar, Scott and Anthony, but Anwar did get the boot.

Today while at lunch I overheard an interesting conversation. Two men whom I perceived to be straight and in their mid 40s were talking at a table about 25 feet from mine. One of them spoke so softly that I was never able to hear what he said. The other, however, caught my attention when he said "You know, I heard about this on Oprah... there's this thing with men - they refer to them as down low, or low down... down low guys - something like that. Anyway, these are men who are married and have children - they love their families and want to stay with them, but they have anal sex with other men. There's no kissing, no love - they don't want a relationship with these men, they don't even want to know the names of the guys they meet. They are adamant about saying they're not gay, but they have this, I don't know, animal attraction and want to have sex with men sometimes." Then the soft-talker said something in reply to this, but of course, because he talked so softly, I couldn't hear him. I can only imagine what the rest of their conversation was like, and how the down low conversation fit in.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

American Idol review

Last night was the ‘results show’ for this week’s American Idol. I was eager to see how America had voted.

What I found to be curious was how surprised everyone seemed when the ‘bottom 3’ were announced. I’m thinking: We’re down to the final 8 contestants. They’re all good. They’re all talented, and they could each win this competition. So, why did the live audience and Randy, Paula and Simon seem surprised that Scott, Bo, and Nadia were in the bottom 3? Somebody had to be there. And honestly, if I were picking the bottom 3 strictly from Tuesday’s performances, I would have picked the exact same 3. Judging just from Tuesday’s performances, I thought Scott, Bo, and Nadia’s were the weakest.

Scott’s rendition of Hall & Oats’ “She’s Gone” was very pitchy. He did not correctly sing most of the notes in the lower range. I have never liked the song “Free Bird”, so when Bo sang it, I wasn’t impressed. That song’s melody line doesn’t have enough movement so it is impossible to impress with that song. I don’t think most people had ever heard Nadia’s “When I Dream”, which is never a good thing. You will not get many votes if you choose a song the audience isn’t familiar with, whether you’re trying to be ‘artsy’ or not.

I was a little surprised that out of those 3, Nadia got the boot. I really thought it was going to be Scott.

I was super-impressed by Constantine’s performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Tuesday. That is a difficult song to sing, and even more difficult song to sing well, but he did it. I used to not like him because he had a heavy rock background. But each week that he sings a song that is not rock, the more I like him.

I’d give Anthony kudos for a great performance of Paul Young’s “Everytime You Go”. (Spencer – get your hands out of your pockets!) I also enjoyed Vonzell’s rendition of “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” and Carrie’s departure from her country roots in “Love Is A Battlefield”. That was a gutsy move for her, and I think she pulled it off with flying colors.

I am really enjoying this season’s American Idol. I think this is the best set of contestants so far. I think Simon has toned down the negative and hurtful comments a little, which is good. I usually agree with Simon’s review of the performances, but I don’t think he needs to be so blunt and often hurtful. Then at the opposite end of that spectrum is Paula, who loves every performance and is “so proud” of every performer. It’s almost like her comments just don’t matter anymore, because they’re always sappy and ultra congratulatory. Sometimes I wonder if Randy has a pitch problem.
If you recall my early prediction was that Carrie, Jessica and Nadia would be in the final 3, and that Carrie would win. Well, I was wrong about Jessica and Nadia, but I stand by my prediction that Carrie will win. But I think Constantine and Vonzell will give her a run for her money.

The latest on Jordan

Jordan continues to improve every day!

On Tuesday when Joe lifted her into position to pee, she was able to support her weight and stand up while she peed. She tried to take a few steps, but her hind legs kind of collapsed.

On Wednesday she was able to stand up without assistance, and take a few steps. Then she’d sit down for a few seconds, then get back up and walk a few more steps.

Today, she is able to walk, almost like normal. The linoleum kitchen floor and the hard wood floors are harder for her, but she does great on the rugs and carpet. In fact, we are trying very hard to limit her because we don’t want her to try to run around or try the stairs. The vet’s instructions were clear: no running and no stairs for at least 2 weeks.

But we are thrilled at her rapid progress! Of course, she is still on steroids, anti-inflammatory meds and pain meds, but they will all be finished tomorrow. Honestly, I am more than a little nervous about how she will do without any chemical assistance.

My boss told me about a natural substance called Glucosamine that is good for joints and arthritis. He said his 10-year old dog would occasionally limp after an especially vigorous day. He began giving her Glucosamine and his dog hasn’t limped since then. He also told me that you could buy dog food and dog treats that have Glucosamine in them, which sounded like a great idea to me.
Joe agreed, so after work we headed to the PetSmart and bought some of the dog food and dog treats with Glucosamine. I wasn’t worried if Jordan would eat them or not because she is not picky. She’ll eat anything. Sure enough, she gobbled down the food and enjoyed the treats. So, I am hoping that the Glucosamine food and treats will pick up where the prescription meds leave off tomorrow. Stay tuned to find out.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Update on Jordan

When I came home from work today I was pleasantly surprised to see Jordan more alert. I'm not sure if it was because her narcotics were wearing off, or if she was simply feeling better. When I looked into her eyes I could see her again.

As I sat on the edge of the sofa and talked to Joe about her, I noticed her trying to scratch her face with her back paw - one of the 2 paws she'd been unable to move yesterday! I told Joe to look and she did it again. I rubbed her head and told her what a good girl she was. She enjoyed the rare petting from me, since I am allergic I usually don't pet her.

Then Joe told me that while he was out of the room for a few minutes she had managed to get herself into the bathroom, where her water bowl is usually kept. (The meds make her thirsty.) This too, seemed to be an improvement, as she had not been mobile since Thursday!

We decided to go out for dinner and talk about Joe's interview. For the last 3 months he has been acting as interim director and today was his 2nd interview, a panel interview, for the permanent director position.

Normally Jordan barks when she hears the car's engine stop and she knows we've come home, but she had not done that since Thursday. Tonight when we pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine, it was like music to our ears: Jordan was barking! Joe said excitedly "Do you hear that??"

When we got inside Joe lifted Jordan into her laundry basket and we went into the back yard so she could go to the bathroom, eat, drink, and have her meds (cleverly smuggled into peanut butter balls or slices of cheese). He sat her on the grass, and before he could lift her into her typical peeing position, she tried to get herself up and walk. She didn't quite do that, but she did get herself a few feet away, where she leaned forward and peed. She had not peed without assistance since Thursday. When she finished peeing we gave her lots of praise and petting, and she ate, drank, and took her meds.

So, the fact that she is getting some movement back in her hind legs, she's started barking again, and the fact that she never stopped eating, we are very hopeful that she will continue to improve. Of course we can't tell if she will fully recover or not, be we are certainly much more hopeful than we were on Saturday.

Thanks to all for your kind inquiries and concern. More later.

Friday, April 08, 2005

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Saturday morning we drove with the top down to Maryland to conduct the final transaction that would officially make the LRG belong to it's new owners.

They were very sweet and very excited. They made coffee and had scones and other assorted baked goods from a neighborhood bakery. We had an English breakfast as we talked about the LRG. We answered their questions and offered them little tips for avoiding the worst of the seasonal traffic. We even got a little cheeky and posed for photos of them handing the check to me! It was a delightful Spring morning, and we were all so happy to be doing what we were doing.

Many of those who came to see the LRG were really just locals interested in an inexpensive place to live. The fact that it had so much retro charm was completely lost on them. But these folks seemed to be sent by God. They have a full-time home and wanted the LRG as a weekend/summer place, like us. They really "got" the whole retro-ality of the LRG and it suited them. We felt really good turning over the place to them. We felt pretty good knowing we wouldn't be paying half the mortgage on our new house AND the land rent on the LRG anymore, too! All the possibilities of what to do with the money they paid for the LRG made us giddy for a few moments, until we realized that we really should just pay some bills and put the rest away in savings.

Unfortunately, the whole day was not so pleasant. Yesterday morning our dog Jordan was unable to stand up or walk. We were quite frightened! Joe lifted her into a laundry basket and rushed her off to the vet, who confirmed that she had another inflamed disc in her back.

She had a disc problem a year ago, which caused her to develop a severe limp. The vet had prescribed steroids and anti-inflammatory meds, along with strict limitations on her movement, and within a few days, the limp had improved greatly. A week or so later and she was back to normal - no limp at all.

This time, however, she didn't have a limp - she woke up unable to stand or walk at all. The vet prescribed the same steroids and anti-inflammatory treatment and told us to contact her if Jordan's condition seemed worse today. This morning it became apparent that she was in a lot of pain, so Joe took her back to the vet.

The vet suggested that there were 2 options: surgery and putting her to sleep. Since they didn't do the surgery there, they referred Joe to another vet for a surgical consult and x-rays. This vet said that the surgery was most successful on smaller dogs, but that Jordan's size and weight meant that the rate of success was not as high. They also said that they could repair the disc(s) they found to be damaged, but that other discs could become damaged weeks or months later, and she would be back in the same situation. The icing on the cake was when they gave an estimate for the cost of the surgery (think: 2nd mortgage) and indicated they would not start the surgery until we had paid in full.

Joe was just beside himself. The surgery was certainly far from a guarantee, and the price was completely out of the question. But he also didn't feel like putting her to sleep was the only other option. So Joe asked the vet "If she were YOUR dog, and this surgery was out of the question, what would YOU do?" The vet said she would continue with the steroid and anti-inflammatory treatment, along with meds for pain, and see if Jordan responded. (She also said that some success might be had from acupuncture.)

So, that was the decision we made. After 6 hours at the vet, Joe brought Jordan home in her laundry basket, along with more meds, and we tried to get her settled. It was quite challenging, but we were finally able to help support her weight so she could go to the bathroom. To our surprise, she was also willing to eat a little and drink some water. A little while later the pain meds kicked in and she nearly fell asleep sitting up. The pain meds keep her from being in pain, but they also help her stay relaxed and sleep alot, which are important to keep her from moving around too much. On the down side, they also rob her of her unique personality. Looking into her eyes she seems vacant. Its so sad.

Although I often complain about her shedding (I am allergic to her fur) and needing to be walked, fed, let in, let out, cleaned up after, etc, this situation has really shown me how much I love her and would be sad if we lose her.

Send positive, healing pet vibes our way! More later.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Whole 'Nother World

I needed to make a trip to Georgetown, DE to obtain a document necessary for the sale of our mobile home, the Li’l Retro Getaway (or LRG for short). Since the office is not open on the weekends, I had to take a day off to go there. Since the LRG’s yard still had leaves and twigs from last Fall, I thought it would be nice if I cleaned that up for the buyer, since I had to be up there anyway.

I chose today to accomplish these tasks because the weather was going to be superb! I am so tired of rain, overcast skies, and cool temperatures – I am ready for Spring! Since Joe was unable to come with me, last night I headed up to the shore in my convertible.

This morning I was greeted by the brilliant sunshine! After a quick breakfast, I headed over to the LRG to get started. The thermometer on my car read 56 degrees at 9am, so I started my leaf raking with a fleece jacket on. A few minutes later I took it off and continued raking and collecting dead branches that had fallen from a huge tree on some windy day, breaking them into pieces small enough to fit inside a plastic ‘lawn and leaf’ bag. I finished everything in about an hour and a half. ‘Not bad’ I thought to myself. Then I congratulated myself on saving at least $50, because had I opted to call some yard service to come and clean up the yard, that’s what I would likely have had to pay. But I did it myself because I had to be up there anyway for the document.

When I had packed everything up I took a ‘last look’ at the LRG and felt a bit melancholy. I thought ‘This is the last time I’ll clean up this yard.’ When the moment had passed I thought how odd it was that the moment had struck me then. I mean, I would have expected it when we had moved all of the furniture out and had gone back to clean. I would have expected it on one of those visits to show the place to a potential buyer. But no – it was when I had finished cleaning the yard that I felt nostalgic. I didn’t expect that.

After tossing the leaf bags into the dumpster I checked the thermometer again: 61 degrees. I decided to put my fleece jacket back on and put the top down! The sun was shining to beat the band and I couldn’t resist. I drove back to the beach house to shower and change clothes, and then headed over to Georgetown.

My first surprise was that there was lots of free parking in front of all of the County buildings in Georgetown. In the county where I live, there is very little parking and it is not free. You literally have to pay the county to park while you attend to county business.

Unsure which building I needed to be in, I walked into the closest one and explained the nature of my need to the lady behind the counter. She was very nice and smiled as she directed to the building across the way. “You have a nice day,” she said. When I got to the office I needed, I was again surprised that there were no theatre ropes creating a maze for people to wind through before getting help. Nope, just 3 chairs. I waited perhaps 2 minutes at the longest for the person already at the counter to finish. I walked up, stated my business, and within 5 minutes had obtained my document. Fabulous!

The kind lady concluded our conversation by asking if there was anything else she could do for me. I decided to pull a ‘Rachel Ray’. On her TV show “$40. A Day” Rachel goes to different towns for sightseeing and such, and tries to eat all 3 meals for $40. She always says that when in an unfamiliar town, ask the locals. So I replied, “Yes, I have one more question. Where would be a nice little spot for me to have lunch?” Where I live, the county employee would not have known what to say because they’d be so shocked to have normal human interaction. But this gal didn’t miss a beat. “Smith’s, right around the corner is good” she told me. I smiled and thanked her for all her help.

Since I was parked in a 30-minute spot I decided to move my car, thinking lunch might exceed that time limit. So I drove around the corner to Smith’s and was surprised yet again to find a parking place (no meter) right in front of the restaurant. Was this just my lucky day?

I walked inside and stopped at the counter where a woman was ringing up someone’s check. ‘Now that’s something you don’t see everyday’ I thought to myself, ‘someone whose job it is to just ring up guest checks. All the restaurants around here require you to pay the server, which means waiting for the server to cash out the check and return your change, while taking other people’s orders and bringing out their food.

When the payers had left the cash register lady looked at me and asked, “Are you waiting for someone?” “No” I replied, “it’s just me today.” “Oh, well you can just sit down anywhere you want, Hon” she directed me. I loved that! I got to pick my own table and she called me Hon!

Within 4 seconds of me sitting down, my waitress Donna arrived. (Don’t call her a ‘server’. Smith’s has waitresses.) She handed me a plastic-enclosed menu and a Xeroxed sheet of paper with the day’s specials on it. “What are ya drinkin’” she asked me. It sounded like something you should hear from a bartender. I told her, and looked at the specials. I couldn’t believe how inexpensive the food was. In a flash she was back with my drink and asked if I needed another minute. I ordered the pork barbeque special, with potato salad and cole slaw. At only $4.95 I was skeptical.

I looked around the restaurant to check out the local flavor. The first thing that struck me was that all the waitresses and table busers were Caucasian. Where I live, it is much more common to find restaurant workers who are Hispanic. Then I looked around at the other diners. There were blue-haired retired-looking ladies lunching, there were lots of blue-collar workers, there was a black couple with two kids, and there were professional-looking men in suits and women in slacks with blouses. Before I could finish my survey of the restaurant, my food arrived! “Wow, that was fast,” I said to Donna. “Yes it was” she replied with a smile.

My pork barbeque sandwich was delicious; chunks of pork in a tangy sauce on a warm sesame seed bun. The potato salad and cole slaw were terrific too, and homemade, I’m sure. I don’t think Smith’s gets those 5 gallon buckets of already made potato salad and cole slaw from one of those big food distributors. That just wouldn’t be their style. This tasted really good and homemade.

My lunch and drink came to $6.20 and since there is no sales tax in DE, the bill really was $6.20. I left $2.00 on the table for Donna, which was more than the standard 20% tip, but the prices were so low that I didn’t feel I should just leave 20%. Besides, I liked Donna. So I took my check up to the cash register lady, paid my bill, and hopped in my car. I was in pure Nirvana as I drove back toward home: top down, music blaring, spirits soaring.

I guess I should have thought about sunscreen before I left the beach house, but I didn’t. I have such a fair complexion that I really shouldn’t be out in the sun without at least some SPF. When I got into DC and slowed down, I noticed that my face was feeling hot. I didn’t even think about it while I was zooming down the road with the wind keeping my face cool. But when I stopped at the first traffic light in DC I could tell: I was sunburned. As I type this now my face is really REALLY hot. But I don’t regret it. I had a fabulous ride. But I do need to be more careful so I don’t wind up with skin cancer.

In just a few minutes it will be time for American Idol.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Weekend Review

For several weeks now, we had planned a weekend at the shore with Kerry & Hugh, Kerry's dad George, Joe's mom Evelyn, and possibly an additional friend or two. Because of all the people involved, we picked a future date and made sure we all saved that weekend. It was sure to be fun, and we'd been looking forward to it for so long.

Unfortunately it was raining on Friday night as we headed up to the shore. Despite the anticipation of a fun weekend, I was not in a good mood. I had a very stressful day at work, and when I got home I found that Joe had told his mom to bring her dog with her. (Her dog was supposed to stay at her daughter's.) I don't like her dog because she's spoiled and she stares at me. She is a pug, with those ugly bulging eyes, and she will sit and stare at me like I'm some circus freak or something. But the real reason is that her dog is allowed to get on the furniture, which we do not allow. I am allergic to dogs and can't tolerate pet hair and dander on the furniture. Now we were heading up to the shore for a weekend of rain and three dogs. (Kerry & Hugh always bring their dog, whom I don't mind because he's so tiny and doesn't lounge on the furniture.)

On the way up there it seemed we got behind every clueless idiot possible. I'm not an aggressive driver, but I like to get where I'm going quickly and safely, especially when its dark and there's no sightseeing to be done. But we got behind people driving 5 mph under the speed limit in the left lane. Three of them. At different times. I gave them the courtesy quick-flash of the high beams to let them know 'hey, I need to move out of the left lane now'. Only one of them responded. The others had to get step two, which is me drifting slightly to the left so that my headlights are in their side view mirror and then I give them the not-so-courteous longer flashes of the high beams. One of them still refused to move, which made my bad mood even worse.

While that was going on, Joe's mom's dog was going nuts. She's not used to riding in the car for more than 5 minutes, and she just wouldn't settle down. She kept whining and barking and snorting, and I was getting more mad at Joe for bringing that hideous thing along. All the while Joe's mom (whom I love dearly) kept making random comments about the rain. Maybe she was nervous because her dog wouldn't shut up. Maybe she just didn't know what to say on a 3 hour car ride. But I could see it was raining. I had my windshield wipers on. We had already talked in depth about the forecast for rain all night and all the next day. I think the rainy weather had been sufficiently established already. Let's move on. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love spending time with Evelyn. We have dinner with her every Thursday and we always laugh and have a good time. :-)

We finally get up there and Joe helps his mom and the two dogs get inside, where the others are all waiting, leaving me to unload the suitcases and other bags all by myself, in the rain. I really wasn't in the mood to socialize, so I made up ours and Evelyn's beds and distributed towels to all of the bathrooms in the house. When I had nothing left to do and was feeling a little less pissed off, I joined everyone in the living room and made myself an Appletini. Actually, it was more like 2 Appletinis because these martini glasses are so big that a single drink looks silly in them, so I made it a double. Meanwhile, more comments about the rain.

The next day we all had a leisurely breakfast of doughnuts, crumb cake, coffee, juice and milk and planned our day. (My mood was back to normal.) Kerry & Hugh were going to Ocean City and Bethany to run some errands. Some of the others wanted to go to some outlet stores, so after showers all around, Kerry, Hugh, and George went to OC and all the rest of us went shopping. Again, more comments about the rain. It had also gotten very windy, so it felt even colder than it really was, so we cut our shopping trip short and headed back to the house. Some napped, some watched TV, and others made comments about the rain.

Kerry, Hugh, and George returned and we talked about where to go for dinner. Once again, someone (not Evelyn) thought it necessary to inform everyone that it was raining, because this could likely make a difference where we ate. I'd had it! I said to everyone: "Excuse me, may I have everyone's attention please. I believe we all know it's raining. In fact, we've all been out in the rain at some point today. So if anyone else says that its raining, I'm going to shoot myself... after I shoot them." There were a few chuckles, and I believe my point was taken. We had a lovely dinner at The Lighthouse Restaurant and then returned to the house to watch "Serial Mom", after which everyone went to bed.

Sunday morning we had another leisurely morning (same breakfast food) but this time we sat around longer, just talking. I think that was my favorite time of the whole weekend. After showers, everyone began packing up. Kerry & Company headed out for more shopping, and Joe, Evelyn, and I went to lunch and then headed home. Although we got caught in a traffic jam related to the Bay Bridge repaving, hey... at least it wasn't raining!

Although the weekend started off badly for me, we all had a really fun time.