Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Men at Wal-Mart

Alright, since FEW people seem to be interested in my family stories, as evidenced by the paltry comments on the last post-- *ahem*-- I will not talk about that today.

So this is a big "FINE! Be that way!!" temper tantrum from yours truly. I know you guys are just jealous because my family has more boycotted marriages than yours does. Haters.

Today, I will post about something I know a lot of you will want to comment on: Wal-Mart.

Before going to work today, I stopped by the Wal-Mart near my house. MJ refers to this particular branch of the Big Box Store as "Little Mexico", since it is normally chock full of Hispanic immigrants who think blonde hair is the most fascinating thing EVER. They nudge each other when I go down the aisles. They stare at me. They like to call me "Mami" and "Bonita" and stuff like that under their breath. Uck. Why do men do that stuff? It's so annoying and rude, no matter who they are. It makes me feel objectified and I hate it. Something about it creeps me out. It makes me want to go home and take a shower. *shudders*

I wish I could learn how to respond in Spanish: "Yes, hello. While I am, in a nauseating way, flattered at the attention you are currently giving my outward appearance, I would like to inform you that it makes me feel very uncomfortable and violated, because it is rude and invasive, not to mention extremely dangerous, considering I outweigh you by about 50 pounds and could drop you like a hot tamale. Please refrain from doing so in the future or else I will be forced to call INS on your asses. Thanks. Have a nice day."

I need to type that up and make little flyers, and just hand them out when I go to Wal-Mart. That should do the trick.

So I'm at Wal-Mart this morning, and I am at first relieved by the noticeable absence of tiny Hispanic men, undressing me with their eyes. Whew!

Unfortunately, they were replaced with........


*screams bloody murder and faints*

If there is one thing I hate, it's old people. They are too slow, they smell funny and they are boring. I don't hate ALL old people, just most of them. There are some old people who kick ass, like The Fruitcake Lady. But unfortunately, this morning at Wal-Mart, there were no cool old people. (Except for the free samples lady who gave me a sugar cookie and tried to help me figure out the difference between semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate.)

Nope. Today, there was a special deal at Wally World: disgusting old people! Just in time for Christmas!

NOTE: If you are eating while you are reading this, you may want to stop now. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I walk over to the coolers where they keep the milk. On my way, I pass an old man, hacking up one of his lungs. I am talking gurgling phlegm, here, peeps. He had just gotten some milk and put it into his cart, as he was coughing incessantly ALL OVER THE PLACE because he DIDN'T COVER HIS MOUTH AT ALL.

All in chorus now: Eeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwww!!!

I tried to put it in the back of my mind as I used my grocery list to grab the door handle. "Thank God I keep hand sanitizer in my car!" I thought. I grabbed my milk and put it in my cart.

Not three feet away, I look up to find Disgusting Old Man #2. He is -- get this - CUTTING HIS FINGERNAILS in the middle of the dairy department!!! Just clip! clip! clipping away!!! He wasn't even bothering to clean them up. He just let them fall on the floor.

This was so offensive to me that I could feel my stomach getting queasy and could not help but make a face as I passed. Unfortunately, he didn't see me, or else I would have said to him: "Does your wife let you do this? Because that's DISGUSTING!!!!" It is only because I was raised to respect my elders that I managed to walk away without saying something.

Gah. Unbelievable. What idiot thinks it's ok to do that?! In public???!! I won't even do it in front of my family members! Seriously, that is just.....disGUSting!!!

A few aisles later, I come across the baking aisle. Most of my list involves the baking aisle, since I cannot seem to kick this baking binge I've been on. I'm not kidding. Some people hole up in hotel rooms, smoking crack until the cops break down the door. I go on baking benders. People won't see me this weekend. I'll be holed up in my kitchen, baking soda in one hand and measuring spoons in the other. It will look like I'm on drugs, because I am sweaty, jittery and holding spoons and a white powder, but I assure you, it is only an addiction to baking. This is what happens when it's 4pm and all you've had to eat all day are chocolate chip cookies. It will mess you up, a little. And before you know it, you get hooked. I have been waking up in the morning, going, "Must. Bake. Something!" I don't know if it's the holidays or the cold weather or what, but dangit, I. Can. Not. Stop. Baking.

Well, apparently this is addiction is going around, because the baking aisle is jammed FULL of little old ladies, who were entirely too caught up in talking to even notice that I'm trying to get into the aisle. After pausing for a second to think, "Oh. I think I'm getting a glimpse at my future....I am turning into a little old lady who bakes all day. Huh. It's not so bad. I bet their grandkids love it.....Dammit, there's a shitload of old people in here today. Gah, are they bussing them in or something? Did the old folks home have a field trip?? What the hell?!" --I decided to go around them and come into the baking aisle from the other end.

So I'm going around via the cereal aisle. I turn right to get to the baking aisle and I see an old man, just standing at the end of the aisle. He's all alone -- no wife in sight -- uh-oh. As I am walking towards him, I see him looking around to see if anyone is nearby. For some reason, he doesn't look in my direction, although I'm practically close enough to touch him by this point.

And that's when he let one. He FRIGGING FARTED in Wal-Mart, right next to me. It was a very audible fart, too. And the second he did it, he looked straight at me, only to receive a disapproving look on my part. He was totally busted. He got a deer-in-headlights expression on his face, and then looked at the ground. He mumbled something as I passed by, but I didn't catch it. I was trying to get away from him before I had to deal with any after-effects. UGH.

Lucky for me, this was the last disgusting thing I have seen today. But thanks to these nasty old men, roaming around Wal-Mart, making everyone want to barf, I am now able to make a promise to future generations:

When I am a little old lady who bakes all day, I promise I will never EVER bring a disgusting old man with me to Wal-Mart!!!!!! I will make him stay in the car!!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stories of My Family, Part 4

I have told you about The Czarina's parents. Now, let me switch over to the other side of my family -- the Belle side.

Grandpa Belle (his name was Charles) was born in New York state, I believe. He had one sister (Dorothy, who I believe may still be alive somewhere in Florida, although I've never met her). When he was seven years old, his dad walked out on the family for unknown reasons. According to my Aunt J, this wasn't the worst thing that could have happened -- apparently he was a jerk anyway. I don't know any specifics about this situation, because my Aunt J refuses to elaborate. So it must be something awful. Maybe he was a wife beater or a bank robber. Who knows. Whatever the situation, he left his wife and kids destitute.

So from the age of 7 on, my Grandpa Charles was the breadwinner of the family. I don't know why his mother (Emma) couldn't get a job...maybe she did. If she did, it didn't pay much, because my grandpa had to work while he went to school. He managed to support his mother and sister while still doing very well in school. I have no idea how he did this. He did so well in school, in fact, that he received free tuition at Syracuse University.

Go Grandpa!!

So off he went to college. Unfortunately, the scholarship did not cover his room and board, so he had to get a job while he was a full-time college student, majoring in forestry of all things. So he began waiting tables at a restaurant.

I have no idea what Great-Grandma Emma and Great Aunt Dot did for money while he was at school. I need to ask my Aunt J. I guess Dot went to work. Last I heard, she was a redneck who lived in a trailer in Florida. I don't really know much about Dot. I don't even know if she's still alive. I do know that for the rest of his life, no matter how little, my Grandpa Charles always sent money home to his mother. Awww. See, he was a good son.

Meanwhile, my grandma Florence was also being raised in New York somewhere. She was an only child, born to Paul and (his first wife), Belle. The marriage broke up sometime after my grandma was born. I know someone cheated on the other, but I am not sure about who did it. So that's why Belle was the first wife. I'm sure this was extremely scandalous at the time, especially in their WASPy New England society! *shock and awe!*

(In case you haven't noticed, there are a lot of horrible girls' names on my father's side of the family, aside from Emma, which is a nice name. No offense to anyone with these names, but I think they are awful: Florence, Gertrude, Dorothy, Arabella, Prudence and -- I swear to God I am not making this up -- Eulella and Euphemia. WTF? Who hates their kids that much? We always joke that the name Euphemia sounds like a disease: "Yeah, I went to the doctor the other day. He told me I've got euphemia! I have six months to live!")

All joking aside, let's move on.

While Grandpa Charles grew up poor as a church mouse, my Grandma Flo grew up in the lap of luxury. She came from a long line of well-educated, socially distinguished WASPs. Her oldest ancestor actually came over on the Mayflower.

Now, it's not as cool as it sounds -- there are today millions of descendants from each Pilgrim that came over. You or someone you know is probably also related to a Pilgrim. I'm just trying to illustrate how freaking long my family has been in America.

So this is an old family we are talking about. Far different from my Grandpa Charles' family, who came over from Scotland in the comparatively modern decade of the 1740s.

At one point, Grandma Flo's grandfather (or was it her great-grandfather...??) was a dentist in New York City, which I think is super cool, because I think NYC is the coolest place ever. Several members of this branch of my family went to Yale, became professors, doctors and preachers -- that sort of thing. Her father was something in the medical field. I think he was a dentist also.

In short, she made my grandpa look like white trash. It's like one of those 1980s teen movies, where the head cheerleader ends up with that boy from "the wrong side of the tracks". But now I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm just trying to illustrate to you the differences in backgrounds between my grandparents. On paper, it's like, "What?? These two had anything in common??" But you'll see what I mean in a minute.

Grandma Flo also found herself at Syracuse in the early 1930s. She joined a sorority, which she soon discovered was full of lesbians, which didn't sit well with her, and so she dropped out, I think. (Weird, huh? Yeah, my Aunt J knows the coolest, most scandalous family stories! I love it!)

I have no idea what she majored in. Knowing her, she had no business being in college in the first place. Not because she was stupid. She was a sweet lady and I loved her, but dammit she was lazy! She would have been fired from any job she had! But I guess this is how you are when you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth, especially in that day and age -- she probably went to college to meet her future husband, not to chase a career.

I don't know how much of a catch she would have been. She never had to cook, clean, sew, work or do much of anything growing up. She didn't know how to do anything, because the servants had always done it. So it's a good thing my grandpa came along when he did, because she honestly couldn't feed herself, and we already know she couldn't have held a job. So the poor thing would have either lived in her mother's basement or simply died of malnourishment if it hadn't been for my grandpa. She was lucky she was attractive and very, very sweet. She was THE sweetest person you'd ever meet. Always affectionate and warm. I'm sure that's what my grandpa loved about her. I know that's what I liked about her. (She was the only grandparent I ever met.)

Speaking of malnourishment, one evening while at Syracuse, my grandma went with a girlfriend to a restaurant for dinner. (See? I told you she couldn't even feed herself.)

They were looking at their menus, trying to decide on what to order, when their waiter came over to greet them. His name was Charles. And that's how my grandparents met!

It was love at first sight for both of them-- we are talking puppy-dog pathetically in love, here -- and they planned on getting married once they graduated. They enjoyed dating all through college. I know they must have gone to some football games together, because I have seen the ticket stubs. (Yeah, I know. Who keeps college football ticket stubs from the 1930s? That would be my father, World's Biggest Pack Rat.) And I think they took a trip to the Finger Lakes or something, because there's a photo of them in their swimsuits. Aw. Cute, huh?

Too bad that Great-Grandpa Paul did not like his future son-in-law. Nevermind that Charles supported his sister and mother aaaaaall through school while still making such excellent grades that he got a free ride to Syracuse. Nevermind that Charles was totally in love with Florence. What was the problem? He wasn't rich.

Can you believe it? Just wait, it gets worse.

Great-Grandpa Paul disliked the idea of their marriage so much, he wrote her out of the will. His own and only daughter. His only child, in fact. What a jerk, huh? (If you have been paying attention, this same situation happened with my mother's parents -- weird coincidence. What was up with fathers boycotting their daughters' marriages back then? Sheesh!)

So Charles and Florence ended up eloping and having their honeymoon at Niagara Falls.

I know it must have pained her to lose her relationship with her father. Charles and Florence always tried to make amends with Great-Grandpa Paul. They even gave my dad the middle name of Paul, in the hopes that it would encourage him to have a relationship with his grandchildren. It didn't work. My father met Paul once. After that, Paul didn't want anything to do with his grandchildren. Isn't that sad???

My dad was really upset about this as an adult. He actually made us all promise never to use the name Paul for any of our kids! I can't really say I blame him. Ok, back to the story.

Meanwhile, his now-ex-wife, Belle, saw the grandkids rather frequently. She looked like your stereotypical granny -- white hair in a bun, glasses, floral print or black dress, sensible shoes and handbag. She died when her grandkids were very young, so my dad didn't remember her very well. All I know about her is what I see in the old photos.

In the end, Grandpa Charles and Grandma Florence had four children: David (who died when he was 2 days old because the doctor didn't clean out his nasal passages well enough--sad, I know), my dad, my Uncle G and my Aunt J. They moved around a little bit -- Erie, PA to Elkins, WV to Arlington, VA. Grandpa Charles was a forester and worked for the National Forestry Service. In other words, Grandma Florence never lived in the lap of luxury again. They barely made ends meet, and my dad grew up living in middle-class apartments, not a house like other kids.

I'll tell you more about my dad's childhood later. This post is getting too long, and I have a ton of stories about that.

Anyway, that's how my dad's parents met. And they remained deeply in love until the day they died! Aw.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Is anyone out there waiting for a big, exciting report about my Thanksgiving break? Or maybe some juicy CN updates? Or a funny story about how I mortified myself in front of his family?

Then you will be sorely disappointed. :)

I did some shopping (including buying those silver shoes I mentioned in the last post, and I LOVE them -- they were on sale for $30!!) and got some Christmas presents. I am still stumped on MJ, KT and my mother. Well, kind of. I have gotten them all little things, but not enough for a whole present, so I have to think up something else. (Any ideas are appreciated! Yes, MJ & KT, even from you! I am officially taking requests!) Anyway, everyone else on my list is either scratched off or it's just a matter of my going to the store to go buy the item(s).

On Thanksgiving day, I got up and took a shower. Then I agonized about what to wear and changed outfits about 5 times. I called CN to ask him what he was wearing. "Jeans," he said. Cool! I put on some jeans and a button down shirt. I went over to his house and we watched some tv. I asked him what time they usually had Thanksgiving dinner at his parents' house. "Oh, you know, around lunch or something," he replied.

"Um, that sounds like something you should probably confirm with your mom, sweetie. I mean, CN. I am calling you CN today," I replied.

"You can call me sweetie. I told you, it's fine. Ok, let me call my mom," he said.

It turned out, the food was almost ready, and we were just dawdling, watching tv an hour away!!! Eeek! So we got in the car to make the drive. Halfway there, CN's dad called us and wanted us to pick up a newspaper for him. Well, it turns out that Thanksgiving newspapers are few and far between -- I think everyone bought one to get the shopping coupons. We tried every gas station, grocery store and quickie mart on the back roads to Barnwell -- they were all sold out! We finally found one in Barnwell. But by this time, we were about 30 minutes late and the food was waiting on us. Oops.

No one seemed upset, because they knew we were looking for a paper. When CN and I got there, we were greeted by his parents and his sisters. They had been working on a MASSIVE spread of food:

mashed potatoes
mac n cheese
sweet potato souffle
rutabagas (yeah, I passed on that...I am currently not accepting any new vegetables right now.)
green bean casserole
grits (I think there were grits...I'm telling you, the selection was mind-boggling -- it was like a buffet!)

Can you say "Mmmmm!!!"? CN's mom makes the best mac n cheese I've ever had in my whole life. And then I brought the pie: pumpkin.......and sweet potato. The pumpkin came out fine. I just used the recipe on the back of the can. But the sweet potato pie....well, let's just say I wish I could have a do-over. It tasted fine. But I had two little problems:

1. I didn't really bake the sweet potatoes long enough. And I didn't realize it until it was too late. So the pie had teeny tiny lumps of sweet potato in it. Oops.
2. The recipe called for brown sugar, but all I had was dark brown sugar. I think it tastes better. Well, because it was so dark, it made the pie look like baked........puppy shit.

So CN and I dubbed it the "Puppy Shit Pie".

But we still ate it. It was pretty good.

We all ate so much, none of us had any energy after eating. We were even too lazy to change the tv channel, which was some show about plastic surgery. And it showed all these women with really REALLY saggy or terrifyingly huge boobies and we were all grossed out. It was kind of funny, actually. Poor CN had to listen to all of us women talk about boobs. He just laughed at us.

I got to meet CN's older sisters: Oldest, Middle, Youngest. Oldest only stopped by for a minute, so I didn't really get to talk to her. Middle is a hoot, and I liked her right away -- she is really funny, just like CN. And Youngest............well, CN had given me a heads-up about Youngest, so I was mentally prepared for how to deal with her. I was grateful for the heads up -- otherwise, I would have been convinced she just hated me! She's just one of those people who has to warm up to you. Which doesn't intimidate me at all. I mean, come on, I refer to my own mother as The Czarina-- she's not exactly a warm, huggy-type person. Besides, I'm totally charming. Who wouldn't like me? ;)

Youngest and I did bond over our shared love of makeup, shoes, purses, jewelry and Girly Things in General. So I could see her melting a little. I think I did ok. I think the sisters like me.

And CN's mom is just so sweet. I really like her. Her dining room was full of her collection of these, which I adore. I have a white one with a blue head at my house. It belonged to my grandmother, and I love it. I had no idea they came in different colors! CN's mom has them in all sorts of colors and sizes. It was really neat.

She's pretty stressed out right now, with CN's dad still being sick. He had to go back to the hospital today, because they are pretty sure he's got some internal bleeding somewhere. I am still waiting on an update. CN's mom doesn't like to upset CN with bad news, so he has to drag it out of her sometimes. Anyway, hopefully he will be better soon. He wasn't feeling too good when we were down there. He stayed in bed and didn't eat much. He had a fever, but thanks to some Tylenol, he was feeling better when we left. He was glad to see me.

Oh, and I did accidentally slip and call CN "honey" in front of his mom one time. But I don't think she noticed or cared. WHEW.

I asked CN to show me some baby photos, but he managed to weasel his way out of that one, claiming that he didn't have any or that his mother threw them away. So I had to settle for looking at his awful senior photos from high school! I haven't stopped teasing him about them since I saw them!

So yes, everything went very well at Thanksgiving, and I had nothing to worry about.

The rest of my long weekend was a mix of football game watching (all THREE of the teams I was rooting for -- Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama -- lost their games!!), bowling, napping, shopping, eating, cooking, movie watching and general relaxation. I love long weekends.

And yes, CN is still wonderful. "You're the best lookin' and the best cookin' girlfriend I've ever had," he told me last night when I made him some dinner. Aw. I almost barfed. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Thank you to all the readers who left comments for me on the last post. I am not quite sure on the details about CN's dad, but he was allowed to go home last night, under the promise that he would come right back this morning. So he's not out of the clear, but it doesn't sound like it's too serious right now. CN is coming back to Columbia today.


I wish I knew more, but that's all I've got for now. Hopefully CN's dad will be feeling better and isn't dealing with anything serious. Then we can have Thanksgiving.

Speaking of that, one of the many things I am thankful for this year are my blog readers. Everyone is so supportive and helpful. Although I know few of you in real life, I am grateful for all the contact I do have with my readers, whether it's just on this blog, on myspace or in real life. I love the blogosphere's supportive attitude and I love meeting new people, if only virtually. You guys crack me up, and your interest in this blog never ceases to amaze me. You are understanding when I don't read your blog for months and sometimes, I feel like y'all are as emotionally invested in my dating life as I am! LOL! I love you guys. Please be careful when you are traveling this week and have a great time eating and hanging out with your fams!!!

Thanks for explaining that weird advice my mom gave me. I still don't really get it, but I guess it's because I don't have any kids of my own. I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt and avoid all pet names with CN in front of his mom. It will be weird to call him by name, though. I'm very used to calling him "babe" or "sweetheart".


Ok, enough mush. Stupid hormones. And I miss my boyfriend. It's funny how quickly you miss someone when you're worried about them, huh?

Since we only have a half day at work today, I am running errands after work. I gotta go to the bank to deposit my Holiday Bonus (which is $200 more than last year! Woo Hoo!!!) and then I'm going to the mall and hopefully crossing some peeps off my Xmas list. Including myself, because I think my Christmas present to myself this year will be these. (Does everyone else buy themselves a Christmas gift? Or am I the only one? You see, this way, I'm guaranteed to get at least one thing I like. Can you tell my brothers suck at Christmas presents? Yeah.)

Anyway, I HATE dealing with holiday shoppers, so this will be my last chance before the crowds hit. After tomorrow, I am doing all my shopping at weird hours or online. Or far, far away from the mall.

I know you are all fascinated to hear this and this is the most interesting blog post you've ever read in your whole life.......riiiiiiiiight.

Then, I am baking three pies: pumpkin, sweet potato and pecan. If I have time, I might make some of my mom's Cranberry-Orange bread. Mmmmm.

As if this post isn't rambling and random enough, here is some more stuff:

I learned on the news this morning that today is the biggest day of the YEAR for people to order pizza delivery. It makes sense, if you think about it.

Did you know that Thanksgiving actually originated in my home state of Virginia? Yup. It did NOT start with the Pilgrims in Massachus... Massachussets .... Massa....dammit, how do you spell that frickin state?! Every version I type gets a red underline.

Makes me glad I'm not from there. Anyway, you know what state I'm talking about.

I sure do hope CN's mom makes yummy food. I am going to be missing my mom's stuffing (with sausage, apples and lots of sage), green bean casserole (I swear, hers is the best), turkey gravy and mashed potatoes. According to my dad, it was "the perfect meal" -- and my whole family agrees. My mom does it up right for Thanksgiving. So CN's mom has a tough act to follow.

But she's going to make sweet potato casserole, which I have been lobbying for at Mom's house for years--with no luck. So I'm pretty excited about that. Mmmm, with marshmallows on top...

Can't wait!!! Happy Turkey Day, everyone!!! As if the food isn't good enough, we get to watch all the college football games, too! I love Thanksgiving! Go Gamecocks!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

CN's Dad

I think I have mentioned before that CN's dad is in poor health. He has cancer, and is currently undergoing chemo for it. He also walks with a cane, since he hasn't been so steady ever since he had a heart attack a few years back.

I just got an email from CN. His dad had a bad fall this past weekend, and is now in the hospital down in Augusta. They think there is internal bleeding. It's not good.

CN said that his mom is pretty unshakable, but she was crying when she just called him to tell him to go to Augusta right away. So I know that's not good -- my mom is the same way. When non-criers cry, that is a bad sign.

Anyway, I told him that I am willing to go down to Augusta if he wants me to. I'm waiting to hear back. Hopefully, his dad will be ok and we can go on with Thanksgiving like we've been planning.

Please keep CN's dad in your prayers. I'll try and keep the blog updated, but I don't really know what the next few days will bring.

Thanks for your prayers and thoughts. If I don't post again, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.


For the first time in my whole life, I am going to a significant other's parents' house for a holiday.

Yes, I am a loser. But that's not what this post is about.

And no, I am not freaking out about anything major. I have already met CN's parents, and I like them. And they like me. So that is good. I'm just nervous about the little stuff. The Czarina is not helping, either. The other evening, she called me.

VB: Hello?
C: Oh! It's loud. Are you out?
VB: Yes, Mom, I'm in a bar. What's up?
C: Are you with CN?
VB: Yes. We are eating dinner.
C: Um, ok. I just wanted to tell you something while I was thinking about it, because otherwise I'll forget.
VB: Ok. Shoot.
C: You're still going to CN's parents' house for Thanksgiving, right?
VB: Right. Is that ok?
C: Oh, sure, honey! That's totally fine. I know it's a pain to drive all the way up here, only to turn around two days later. You can just come home at Christmas.
VB: Ok. I'm glad you're not upset.
C: Oh, no. I just wanted to give you some advice.
VB: Ok.
C: When you go down there with CN, make sure you don't call him "Sweetie" or anything in front of his mother.
VB: [Trying not to laugh] I'm sorry. It's kind of loud in here. What did you say?
C: I just wanted to tell you not to call CN any little nicknames in front of his mother. It comes off as possessive.
VB: [Realizing there is no point in debating the validity of this statement, and it would be better to just go with it, because apparently, mother has smoked crack before picking up the phone.] Oh. Ok. Thanks, Mom!
C: You're welcome. I'll let you get back to your dinner. Love ya!
VB: Love you, too. Bye, Mom.

Ok, is anyone else totally confused about this advice? Because that was probably the strangest piece of advice she has EVER given to me. And I'm having a VERY hard time believing it. It sounds totally absurd. Who gives a fart if I call him "Schmoopie" or "Sugar Pie" or even "Love Bunny" in front of his mom?

I mean, do parents care about stuff like that? Or is my mother crazy? Because normally, her advice is very old-fashioned, which I can understand. Usually, I can see her point. It's never just plain crazy. This just made no sense to me at all. I could understand maybe, if his mother didn't like me, but she does. So I fail to see the meaning and importance of this advice. It's making me wonder if The Czarina is suffering from early-onset senility.

Maybe I'm just naive? Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

Funny side note: Right after I got off the phone with The Czarina, CN saw a friend of his in the bar. He introduced me, and the three of us started talking. Then the friend made a joke about how CN and I are going to have babies in "about 5 years". I laughed it off, but CN got TOTALLY flustered! It was so funny. I have never seen someone get so wigged out about a joke before in my life! He acted funny for the rest of the evening, and just couldn't seem to let it roll off his back. I mean, the joke put us on the spot, but there was no harm in it. I don't know why it bothered him so much. Can anyone explain this puzzling male behavior to me?

Ok, back to my Turkey Day Stress.

As if my mother's strange advice isn't making me TOO ill at ease, I have a bunch of other stuff that is stressing me out about Thanksgiving this year. My inner monologue goes something like this:

What if his parents' house smells funny? What if I don't like his mom's cooking? What if I have to meet other members of the family and they hate me? What if I get down there and his family is TOTALLY different than mine and we just don't mesh well? What if they get all dressed up for Thanksgiving?

(My family wears sweatshirts and jeans, because the Big Meal is always served mid-football marathon, and we are NOT about to wear church clothes to watch football games on tv!)

*Note to self: ask CN about appropriate Thanksgiving attire*

What if I have to go to church with them? I am weird about other people's churches. I never know where to go or what to do, and often feel guilty about "cheating". Which, at this point, is kind of stupid, because I have not been to church in about a year. I guess it's because I was raised Catholic. Although I'm not Catholic anymore, I still view my attending "other" churches as being sacriligious. I'm weird, I know. Heck, at this point, I could use ANY church! LOL I'm a heathen!

What if they don't like the pies I'm making? I will ruin Thanksgiving! (I am making a sweet potato pie, and I've never made one before. I'm worried I will mess it up.)

What if they eat weird food for Thanksgiving? Like squash or chitlins or goose or something? What if I don't want to eat anything except my own pies?

What if I want to watch different football games than they do? Or worse -- what if they don't watch the football games at all!?

What if I get homesick while I'm there and I start crying? (To make things really interesting, I am all hormonal and PMSy -- which means I cry about anything.) Or worse, what if Cranky, PMSy VB comes out and I bite someone's head off?! EEEK!!

What if something really awkward happens? Someone could bring up a personal topic, or CN and I could get into a fight. Or his parents could turn into MY parents, lecturing us to death. Ugh.

What if I get sick when I'm there? What if we start playing board games, like we do at The Czarina's, and I turn into Obnoxious Board Game VB, who plays for blood and screams at people?

Ugh. Ok, change of subject. I can feel my stomach twisting up. I need to chill, don't I? I'm being ridiculous. Everything will be fine. I could always just pop a vicodin -- Lord knows that always chills me out.

I'm kidding.

*Note to self: get prescription for Xanax.*

Does anyone have any advice for me? Because I've never done this before, and all I am imagining is that I will be like Sarah Jessica Parker's character in The Family Stone and it will be horrible horrible horrible. (By the way, if you have never seen that movie, it is hilarious!) My Overactive Imagination is having a field day right now. Pessimistically Paranoid is screaming and running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Clearly, I need to talk to CN and get him to calm me the eff down. I swear, guys, this is the hormones talking. They make me crazy. Sorry if I'm being TMI today...

Why did I quit smoking again??? Gah, I'd kill for one right now.

So any advice is welcome. Tales of Warning are good, too. And if you have any funny or embarrassing stories, please share those, as well.

But mainly, I'm looking for an explanation of my mother's weird advice. Seriously, WTF??!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stories of My Family, Part 3

Since this past weekend was pleasant, but rather uneventful, I thought I'd post a short family story I just learned today. (I have been pumping The Czarina for stories about her parents). So these are some quick stories about my Grandma Virginia's dad.

Apparently, my Great-Grandpa was a total jerk! Examples:

1. I told you how he disapproved of Grandma V's marriage to Grandpa John, because he wasn't a "good" Catholic. She ignored him and married him anyway.

2. Great-Grandpa also wrote a letter to Grandma V when she was young. He said he'd rather see her in a coffin than marry a non-Catholic. (WOW.)

3. Grandma V's sister, Helen, also got some bad advice from her dad. He told Helen that she and her fiance should wait until after WWII was over to get married, just in case he came home an amputee. (HOLY COW.) Helen wisely ignored this advice, too, and married Byrne before he went to war. And no, I don't think he was injured in the war. They were also happily married.

Great-Grandpa did not attend either wedding. (I told you he was a jerk!)

4. He was one of those dads who made you pick out your own switch. And if he thought it was too small....well....he got to pick it! One time when she was little, Grandma V kept a kitten after he told her she couldn't keep it. She had hidden it somewhere, and he found out. She got the switch! (Jeez Louise!)

5. He gave my Great-Grandmother $30 a month to run a household with 7 children. Even in 1920s money, that is very little. Especially when that includes food, clothing, cleaning and well, everything! During the Great Depression, they had to take in some family cousins who were out of work, which added an additional strain on her budget. I don't know how she did it.

Apparently, Great-Grandma had the patience of a saint, because that is exactly what she did for years and years -- she ran the house on a very tight budget. The only time she got a break was during the summer, when all the kids were shipped out to the family farm to help out. When the girls came home at the end of the summer, they were all tan and freckled, which was not very classy, back in the day. So she would make them bleach their skin with lemons before they were allowed in the parlor when guests came over! She didn't want them looking like farm hands in front of company. Isn't that funny? How times have changed...

One day, one of the daughters was getting married, and the wedding reception was held at the house, so Great-Grandma was getting everything ready for the big party. She noticed the kitchen needed painting, so she was up on a ladder, putting on a fresh coat.

Great-Grandpa walked in with some news: "I just came from the accountant's office! He told me the family firecracker business is worth a half a million dollars!"

Apparently, all his penny pinching paid off in the end! The firecracker business is still doing well to this day, and is still run by my family!

Great-Grandma climbed down the ladder, handed him the paintbrush and said to him, "Well, then you can afford to hire someone to paint this damn kitchen!"

This was the only time she ever said a word to him about his cheap ways!

And yes, he did hire someone to paint the kitchen. :)

Hey -- we still use my Great-Grandma's Applesauce Cake recipe. Wanna make it? You can find the recipe here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stories of My Family, Part 2

This is the story about my Grandma Virginia. She was The Czarina's mother, and yes, I am named after her.

Virginia grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, the daughter of German-Irish stock. (I can't remember if she was half German or a quarter German...anyway, it's not important). Being Catholics, they had your typical large family. Here were the names of some of her siblings: Wilbur, Harold, Helen, Jerry...I know there were more, but I can't remember their names. I believe there were 9 children in all. Eventually, they all ended up getting married and having a between 2 and 6 children a piece. That was three generations ago.

By this point in time, there are approximately 5.2 million people in this branch of my family, which means that every resident of Kansas City is a first, second or third cousin of mine. When they have family reunions, each little segment of the family has to wear a designated-color tshirt, or else no one would know who the hell anyone is.

But I digress.

I don't know a lot about Grandma Virginia. I never met her or my Grandpa John. You see, both of my mom's parents died when she was about 21. Grandpa John was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Three months later, Grandma Virginia was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. They died less than a year apart, when my mom was fresh out of college. Not surprisingly, this was rather traumatizing to The Czarina, who has a difficult time talking about her parents at all, to this day. (Oh crap, I'm getting sad again.)

So I don't know a whole lot about her. But I do know the following:

1. She is where my mother and I get our love of efficiency from. We enjoy being productive and making the most of our time. Apparently, multi-tasking IS genetic. We joke about how "German" we are. We are Type-A and want everything streamlined.

2. This is also where I get some of my penny-pinching ways from. Not that I'm a penny pincher. My bank account would be Exhibit A in that court case. But I do have my moments. Lord knows I didn't get it from my dad's side or Grandpa John's side. They were both constitutionally against saving money on anything. In fact, I believe it was physically painful for them to save money.

3. Grandma Virginia is responsible for the vast majority of my family's recipes, including the biscuit recipe, which originated with my great-great grandmother, who was a pioneer out west back in the 1800s. To this day, we make Grandma's gravy, pot roast, beef stew and spaghetti, among other things. She handed down this love of cooking to her daughter and granddaughter. We are all good cooks. I have a soup pot that belonged to her, and the handle just broke on it, and I'm really upset.

4. Apparently, my love of shoes was something I also have in common with Grandma V. Although my size 9 feet are nothing like her tiny size 6s (she was barely five feet tall, after all), the passion is the same: when it comes to heels, the higher, the better, the more, the merrier. Grandma used to go to the Saxon shoe sale in Richmond twice a year and buy about ten pairs at a time. This just makes my heart swell with pride. (By the way, if you are ever in Richmond and you love shoes, you have GOT to go to Saxon. It is the Holy Grail of shoedom.)

I don't know a lot about her childhood or her single-girl years, but I do know that she dated a guy (I think his name was Charlie) who was crazy about her. They had grown up together, and dated for a long time, ever since she was in high school. When World War II broke out, they decided to wait until after the war to get married. But he gave her this beautiful gold and mother-of-pearl locket to remember him by when he left. He even engraved it with a little love note and the date. We still have it. They wrote letters to each other, until one day, Virginia heard through the grapevine that Charlie had been killed in action or was missing in action -- something like that. (Oops, there goes the sad thing again!)

At about the same time, Grandma Virginia attempted to attend college, but was ultimately dismissed because on a dare, she rode a horse through downtown Kansas City, disrupting traffic and I assume, breaking several laws. This was not very acceptable behavior for a good German Catholic girl, and so she was kicked out of college.

Hmmm, this must also be where I get my wild streak.....

I am not sure why, but this, along with the sad news about Charlie, may have been the reason she decided to move to Washington state and work for Boeing during World War II.

She got a job as a secretary in the Headquarters building at Boeing. One day, she was sitting at her desk, doing some work, when a very tall (6'3") young, thin man walked up to her.

She didn't recognize him. "May I help you?" she asked.

He leaned on the desk and casually asked over his shoulder, "How 'bout a cup o' coffee, Babe?"

And that is how my grandparents met.

They started dating immediately, and Grandpa was a total goner for her -- hook, line and sinker. They reached a crossroads when World War II came to an end: their jobs were also coming to an end, since there was no longer a need for new wartime aircraft. This meant that Virginia was going to move back home to Kansas City.

This did not sit well with Grandpa John.

So he followed her there uninvited. He somehow found her parents' house and knocked on the door. After explaining to her mother who he was, Virginia came down to talk to him alone in the living room. Grandma V's mom left them alone so they could talk privately. A few minutes later, there was a big commotion. Much to the family's surprise, they ran into the living room to find John, chasing Virginia in circles around the sofa, pleading with her to marry him.

This did not sit well with Virginia's father, who was a big jerk and thought Virginia should only marry a German Catholic, not an Irish Catholic. (Because they are SO different, right?!)

But it didn't sit well with Virginia, either. She said to John: "I won't marry you until you quit drinking and save up $1,000."

As we all know from the last post, John liked to drink. A LOT. It was pretty much his only hobby. But he was also terrible with money, as I just mentioned. So this was a double-whammy challenge for him.

"Okay," John said.

He quit drinking that day, and found a job. He saved up $1,000 and went straight back to Virginia's house to propose again. This time, he had a ring and she said yes. They got married on January 11, 1945 and had their honeymoon in New Orleans.

Their wedding pictures are really funny, because he's more than a foot taller than her.

Her father didn't walk her down the aisle, because he didn't approve of her marrying an Irishman. (He didn't walk any of his daughters down the aisle, actually, because none of them married German Catholics. I think the girls did it for spite, actually.) I think he got over it, eventually, though. Czarina spent many happy summers visiting her Kansas City cousins and eating her grandmother's applesauce cake. So things couldn't have been too bad between Grandma V and her dad.

Grandpa John never drank a drop of alcohol again for the rest of his life.

But that was the first and last time he ever saved $1,000.

And what about Charlie? Well, I just realized, after typing all of this, that I have posted the Charlie story before. Duh! Go read the side-story about Charlie here. It's the freakin' saddest thing I've ever heard of in my life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stories of My Family, Part 1

I was talking about The Czarina's parents the other day, and realized I have never blogged about them. So here we go!

Let's do Grandpa John first. His parents met in a very interesting way. His dad (Thomas), the son of Irish immigrants, may or may not have immigrated to the U.S. illegally! You see, his parents came over after the Great Potato Famine, but settled at first in Canada. Then, things get a little fuzzy, and suddenly they are in Wisconsin, claiming to be natural-born U.S. Citizens on the census, which we know is not true. So we think there is some illegal border-crossing going on somewhere. Anyway, Thomas went to law school at the University of Wisconsin, after convincing them that he is also a U.S. Citizen, although we think he was born in Canada.

A few years later, he was on vacation from his job as a lawyer/businessman in Virginia. He decided to go to a resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas. At almost 50, it was well-believed by the family that he would just end up an old bachelor.

Meanwhile, a young lady named Mary Ellen was going on a trip. She and her sister and mother were leaving Ireland to go visit some relatives in Denver, Colorado. (They were actually going to visit James Denver, a distant cousin whom the city was named after -- cool, huh? Yeah, I have a Colorado connection!)

Ok, um...I just read that Wikipedia entry, and now I am not so sure they were actually going to Denver, or if they were just visiting Cousin Denver in Washington, DC...because apparently, after 1858, Cousin Denver only went to Denver for visits--he didn't live there anymore. And I know all of this took place after 1858.......hmmm.......will have to ask Czarina about that.

Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes.

Since it was a long trip, the women decided to take a break in -- you guessed it -- Hot Springs, Arkansas. They stayed at the same resort where Thomas was. Although she was half his age, it was love at first sight and they got married right away. Mary Ellen, her sister and her mother never went back to Ireland! They all moved with Mary Ellen and Thomas to Norfolk, Virginia. That branch of my family--the Irish branch-- is still there.

They had 4 kids. The 2nd one was my Grandpa John. Family legend states that John was very rascally and often in trouble with authority figures! He was not malicious or anything, just acting like little boys do. (I like to say that this behavior is genetic, as my brothers were also totally obnoxious children.)

Unfortunately for the family, the birth of the fourth and youngest child (a girl) did not go very well. Mary Ellen needed a blood transfusion. But this was before anyone really understood blood types--all they knew was that sometimes transfusions worked, and sometimes they didn't. It was a roll of the dice. And Mary Ellen apparently got the wrong kind of blood, and so she died soon afterwards. Everyone in the family took it very, very hard.

Sad, I know. But it's ok. If you have read Angela's Ashes, you know by now that the Irish race is full of sad stories. But sometimes they are happy and sometimes they are funny. Ok, back to the story.

Soon after Mary Ellen died, the 1929 stock market crash hit, and all of Thomas's investments and businesses went belly up. The financial ruin, combined with the sudden loss of his wife and the worries about raising 4 young children (when he was already so old) were too much for Thomas to handle, so he basically locked himself in a room and turned into an alcoholic.

Crap. This is sad again, I know! But this is my family, so I can't just make up stuff here. There are lots of Irish alcoholics in my family, you will soon see....

Meanwhile, the kids were running amok because Thomas was too drunk to take care of them. And since there was no money, there were lots of unpaid bills. So their Aunt and Grandma stepped in and cared for the kids. They sent the boys to military school (which they hated) and the only daughter ended up being raised by the Aunt. Then Aunt and Grandma sold everything in the house to pay the bills. (The only things we have left from that house are a chair and a clock!) They even had to sell the house. Thomas ended up living in a hotel and dying in poverty, I believe. (Ugh, sorry this is so depressing guys...but Irish families rarely have happy stories.)

Ok, so meanwhile, my Grandpa John graduates from military school and moves back to Norfolk, where he becomes a soda jerk, moves into a boarding house with his brother* and proceeds to pursue his new favorite hobby: alcoholism. It was at this point when the Great Depression really kicked in. Talk about bad timing.

This is where it gets kinda foggy. Although Grandpa John eventually quit drinking, as you will see later on in my story, he was always ashamed of it and didn't like to talk about the Great Depression when he was basically wasted and unemployed for an entire decade. (Can you blame him?) All we know is that during the Great Depression, he was a hobo who rode the empty freight train cars and he spent some time in Chicago. During this time, he also discovered a passion: journalism. But that's all he ever told anyone.

I like to think, with my overactive imagination, that he was a member of 'Bugs' Moran's North Side Gang, which was an Irish gang involved in prostitution, racketeering and gambling rings and fought continuously with Al Capone's gang, culminating in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

But that is purely speculation.

And vehemently denied by my mother. Who apparently, has no imagination.

So who knows what my grandpa really did besides jump trains and drink cheap booze between 1929-1939. I guess I will never know. When WWII did break out, Grandpa John decided that putting himself at risk of death every day was worth it to have food in his mouth, so he went to join the military. Unfortunately, he was soon kicked out because he was drunk all the time. Oops. Now what?

Bad, I know. But it's ok. It gets better.

At any rate, thank goodness for World War II's effect on the U.S. economy, or else I may not be here today. Gramps probably would have ended up in a gutter somewhere, pulling a Jimmy Hendrix, asphyxiating on his own vomit or something.

But that didn't happen. What happened was, the U.S. entered WWII, and we needed to build some planes. A LOT of planes. That is when Boeing got a big-ass government contract and hired thousands of people to build planes at their huge building facilities in Washington state. It was sort of like an army base, only it was full of civilians who built airplanes. Lots of Rosie the Riveters.

They had so many employees (we are talking about 50,000 here) that it became necessary to have employee housing. Which means they will need schools, a hospital, grocery stores, and everything else a large group of people would need. Including a newspaper.

Grandpa John somehow managed to get a job with Boeing. He was in charge of the factory base's newspaper. And one day, he went over to the headquarters building to interview one of the Boeing Big Shots...........

Ok, that's all for today.

When does he meet Virginia? Does Grandpa John ever stop drinking alcohol? Or is VB's mother conceived in a drunken hook up? What happens on the interview? Stay tuned to see what happens next!!

* I actually just found this out recently, because I was geeking out in a genealogy database, and looked him up in the U.S. Census of 1930. I was so excited, I called The Czarina, who had no clue her dad had ever been a soda jerk, let alone rented an apt with his brother!


I've been tagged by Smug to do that "6 Weird Facts About You" meme. Which is funny, because I've already done it here and here. And I have done 100 Things About Me. Twice. But what are blogs, if not self-involved, right?

Besides, I still have writer's block. So being tagged is good for me, but bad for you. Ha ha! Let's see.

1. Careers I have thought about pursuing include: real estate agent, writer, pastry chef, travel agent, something in PR, something in advertising/marketing, staff member for a Congressman/Senator, make-up artist, shoe designer, nanny for a disgustingly wealthy family, location scout, someone who does a lot of research to see if it's a good idea to build that housing development/shopping mall/skyscraper there, history professor, school district superintendent, personal assistant. And of course, my dream job: high school principal. At a BIG high school.

2. One of my biggest pet peeves are people who won't take "no" for an answer. Drives me INSANE. I dislike pushy people in general, actually. This goes for salesmen, mothers, customers, colleagues...anyone.

3. I hate the Post Office. Every time I'm in one, I spend my 20 minutes waiting in line thinking of ways to make the Post Office more efficient. By the time I get to the front of the line, I want to scream. Inefficiency also drives me batty.

4. I feel extremely self-conscious at the gym. I do not make eye contact or talk to anyone. This is really strange, because I'm normally really outgoing and sociable. I don't know why I'm like that. Maybe it's the spandex I'm wearing. It kinda makes me feel fat. But I don't like working out in anything else, so....yeah.

5. I do not own a camera. I never have. I use those disposable ones. Or I mooch from my friends. Yes, I'm that annoying friend who always wants you to email the pics to her. For some reason, I just can never justify the purchase. Probably because I know I will probably never be one of those people who takes pictures all the time. I think this will be one of my New Year's Resolutions: get a camera and use it!

6. I have only stolen one thing in my entire life: a lollipop from a grocery store. I was about 5 years old. I have felt guilty ever since, especially since I didn't get caught!

I am not tagging anyone because I want to post another post right away! Do this if you want...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Quiz Answers

Alright, people. Let's go over the quiz answers before I announce the winner.

1. I have never been to California. I have never been west of Kansas, actually.
2. I have a seriously difficult time avoiding shoe sales or the makeup counters.
3. I have never been a telemarketer, because I hate telemarketers. If you answered this one incorrectly, perhaps you need to read this post.
4. My dogs are Boston Terriers. In case you don't know what that kind of dog looks like, here is a pic of my Sammy. And my boobs:
Now that you have seen my boobs, I don't want any whining about the lack of boobage on this blog.
5. I drive a piece-of-shit Pontiac. True to form, it is currently in the shop. As soon as I find a ride to the mechanic's after work, I can have my stupid car back (oh, the joy) for a measly $160. It's still cheaper than a car payment, I guess...
6. Not very many people got this one -- The name "Virginia Belle" is one of the nicknames my dad used to call me. That's where I got the name. NOT from the nudie girl. Major props to peeps who got this -- it has been mentioned a whopping ONE time in this blog's history. Gold stars for you!
7. Ok, ok, this was kind of a trick question. Do I like camping? Do I like the beach? No, and yes, respectively. But I would rather go to NYC than anywhere in the whole world. Yes, even Italy, which is something I never thought I'd say. Very few people got this one, either. So don't feel badly if you missed it.
8. I spent my undergrads at Indiana (Go Hoosiers!!) and then went to South Carolina for library school (so, yes, if you are a librarian, that means you did indeed go to grad school).
9. I eat the same thing for breakfast pretty much every morning. I am weird. I can play Tetris, Scattergories and Taboo for days on end. I am obsessive. I break out into a cold sweat when presented with brown crickets, diving or heights. I am a wuss. So that leaves A) I am a librarian and I love it. I cannot imagine doing anything else. NOT!!!!
10. And yes, I have dated a guy with three balls, a jerk who ate half my dinner and a guy who ended up being gay. Please, hold your applause. *takes a bow* And this may/may not have been a flawed question, as I cannot find any evidence in previous posts about the gay guy I dated in college. So if you were scratching your head on that one, my bad. I don't think I mentioned it. If you want the whole story, remind me to post it. My friends IRL (in real life) probably all know it, because they like to laugh at me, and this is a good factoid for that purpose.

So if you took the quiz (there were 27 of you, which makes me happy, because that is my favorite number), I am saying "Thank you! You are cool!" But I'm sure you are thinking, "Shut up and tell us who won!"

To which I reply: MJ cheated and signed up her dog to take the quiz, so that she could take it a second time, because she didn't get 100% the first time around. So actually, the winner of the quiz, with a perfect score of 100 is: Tater.

Don't let that face fool you -- he has an amazing ability to listen and remember things. And although he has never seen me naked, I'm sure he is rather ambivalent about the opportunity. He has already seen what I look like, although probably not well, since he has an eye condition. Naked pics or PG-rated pics would probably be the same to him. So unfortunately for my readers, my fractionally-anonymous clothed and/or nekkid body will remain internet-proofed. Um, as far as I know, anyway.

I had a good weekend, aside from my car acting up. The dashboard light lit up again. It says "Service Engine Soon" but it might as well say "You Drive a Piece of Shit". Anyway, it's fixed now, and waiting on me to go shell out $160 to pay for the "stuck open thermostat" which may be mechanic-speak for "my kid's braces". Ugh. How the hell can replacing one dinky thermostat cost so damn much?? I can buy a thermometer from the drugstore for about $5.00 -- cant' they just use that? I guess I should stop complaining. Normally, my repairs are about $300.

Let's move on, shall we? Ok. I'm trying to focus on the upside: CN is picking me up after work today to take me to go get my car. Aw, what a good boyfriend!! +500 points.

Speaking of him, he is involved in the highlight of my weekend. Without this highlight, my weekend would have been nothing but lazy slothdom: watching movies, eating candy, baking, cooking, board games, shopping, napping.....*yawn!*

Where was I? Oh yes. On Saturday, I went with CN to go meet up with his parents for lunch. We met each other halfway in-between Columbia (where CN and I are) and Barnwell (where CN's parents are). I am referring to the metropolis that is Neeses, SC. (Nudie pic for anyone reading this who has actually been to Neeses, SC -- pending evidentiary proof, of course.)

So we meet up in Neeses for lunch. Which is difficult to do, considering Neeses (pop. 407) is so small that there AREN'T any restaurants. Not even fast food ones. At first look, this might seem to be a stumbling block in our plans, but we do have a solitary dining choice: the grocery store.

Oh yes, you read that correctly. The Piggly-Wiggly in Neeses, SC has a built-in restaurant. They have fantastic soft serve ice cream! They serve breakfast, even! They have nightly specials! And senior citizen discounts! And greasy, laminated menus! And tables that are 25% smaller than they should be! As if this isn't enough, here is the kicker:

If you go to the meat department, and pick out something you want to eat (whether it's a steak or 20 chicken wings or 1 lb of ground beef), you can take it into the restaurant, and they will cook it for you AND give you a choice of baked potato or french fries for only an additional charge of...........drumroll, please...........$1.88!!!

This is, according to CN's dad, THE. COOLEST.THING. EVER. Which cracks me up, because my dad would have thought it was the coolest thing ever.

So we go to the meat department, and everyone selects a steak except me.

"Um, I'm kind of in the mood for a burger. They have burgers, right?" I mumbled sheepishly.

All three of them stopped dead, holding packages of raw meat in their hands. They turned to look at me in unison, shocked and awed that I am not rummaging through the steaks.

"But you can pick anything you want! Anything! And they will cook it!" said CN's dad, astonished.
"Oh, come on now, getcha a steak," said CN's mom.
"It's only $1.88, what's wrong with you?" said CN, teasingly.

"I'm the mood for a that ok?" I asked.

"Oh, but getcha a steak, now, come on," said his mom.
"You don't want a steak?" continued his dad, still amazed that I would want to eat something other than a steak. The man was seriously shocked, y'all. It was almost as if I'd told him I honestly believed the world was flat.

"But I don't want a steak. Am I allowed to get something other than a steak?" I whispered to CN.
"Of course you are. We just always get steaks. You can get a burger, too. But just pick up a steak. It will make my dad feel better," CN explained.
"You can take it home with you, it's no big deal. Just get both," his mother explained, under her breath.

As soon as I grabbed a steak, CN's dad seemed to feel a lot better. So when we ordered, I got a cheeseburger in addition to my steak.

Now, you might be thinking this is a really strange interaction. Why are three people telling a 28 year old woman what she should eat for lunch? That's absurd. And you would be correct in your beliefs. But I was strangely comforted by their insistence. Why? Because my father used to do the SAME THING to all of us when we were growing up. From the time I was in diapers, I would have to listen to his comments every time I ate:

"You're eating that? When we have leftover turkey? Oh, you should go get some of that turkey."
"Don't you want to put some pepper on that? You really should put some pepper on it."
"You're eating that all wrong. You can't put maple syrup on that. No one puts maple syrup on that. What's wrong with you? You are ruining it by putting maple syrup on it."

So I am used to having people tell me what I should eat/not eat and how to eat it "properly". I am also used to ignoring them and eating what I damn well please. :)

My dad died almost three years ago. I miss his food criticism. It was nice to hear it from someone. I like CN's parents. They are a lot like mine.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Different Planets

CN and I have a lot in common, so it's always surprising when we have little moments when we just don't understand each other.

Example #1:

I made CN some brownies. A couple days later, he called me about them.

CN: Hey, um...should I keep the brownies in the fridge? Will they go bad if I leave them on the countertop?
VB: I don't understand. What do you mean? Like, you haven't finished them yet?
CN: Heck, no! I've only had about three.

*Very long pause.*

VB: Um....well......I don't know. I've never had brownies last that long before. At my house, they are gone in about 4 hours. So I don't know if brownies can go bad. I guess keep them in the fridge. I dunno.

Example #2:

I have just finished telling about 8 family stories to CN.

VB: I'm sorry. I'm hogging the conversation. Tell me some stories about your family.
CN: No, it's fine! They are really interesting. But um...I don't really have any family stories to share. How do you know so much about your family?
VB: Uh...because when we all get together, we just re-tell the same few stories over and over again. I've heard all this stuff since I was in diapers. You don't tell family stories when you all get together? What else is there to talk about?
CN: Um......I dunno.

*Long pause on both our parts. Lots of blinking. He's wondering why his family doesn't do that, and I'm flabbergasted that they don't.*

Example #3:

CN: Hey, do you want to come to my parents' house for Thanksgiving?
VB: Sure! I gotta check with my mom, though. She may not be cool with this idea. She always tells us that until we get married, we have to spend all holidays with her. But I'll see. Your mom's probably a really good cook, huh?
CN: Ooooooh yeah she is. She makes turkey, stuffing, pie, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole--
VB: Did you say 'sweet potato casserole'?
CN: Yeah.
VB: Ohmygod, I LOVE sweet potato casserole. And I have been lobbying at Mom's house to get her to make it, and she won't do it. We never eat sweet potatoes there.
CN: You......don't? Eat? Sweet potatoes?? *extremely confused expression*

Speaking of which......I need to tell you some family stories! And post some recipes! Woo Hoo! I can feel the writer's block melting away!!! I might post again later today....

Have you taken my quiz yet??? Look at yesterday's post! The winner gets a PRIZE!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday 13: VB Quiz!

Woo Hoo! Sunday will be the 2nd anniversary of this blog! (So go tell me Happy Blog Birthday!)

I thought that it would be fun to make a little quiz for my readers to see how well you've been paying attention. I will get your quiz results in my email. The winner will dunno. Maybe I will email them a pic of me. Unless I can think of something cooler. Or if they already know what I look like. Maybe I can mail some cookies. [Note to self: Think up a better prize.]

Take My Quiz on

Can you Ace my quiz?
Let's Find Out!

The quiz has 10 questions, but since this is a Thursday 13, there are three bonus questions. If you want credit for these bonus answers, you have to email them to me at:

Alright, here are the three bonus questions.

11. Name one of VB's favorite candies.
12. What is one of VB's pet peeves?
13. Ok, this one is just totally shameless: What is your favorite thing about reading this blog? Do you have a favorite post? How long have you been reading?

Remember, don't post your answers/results here. Email the bonus question answers to me yourself or take the quiz, which will automatically email the answers to me. Or both.

Good Luck!!!! You have until 8am, EST on Monday, November 12 to get the answers to me!

Woo Hoo! This is fun!!! Or maybe, it's just fun for me....I dunno.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Writer's Block

Well, crap. I am suffering from major blog writer's block. I don't have much of anything to report. Everything is sort of "same shit, different day". Not that I'm complaining. It's just hard to blog. I'm sure I can come up with something. Um, let's see...

CN is fine. He's still wonderful. Although he did lose some points this past weekend. On Sunday, I told him I would make dinner for him when he got back from watching the Falcons play. I wanted to eat at 6pm, but he said that he was still full from all the nachos he ate at 3pm.

Now, this is just a word of advice to men: if your woman is making you dinner, DO NOT spoil your dinner by eating nachos mid-afternoon. It's very inconsiderate.

"Grrrr..." I thought.

"Ok, how about dinner at 7pm?" I texted.

"Sounds good!" he replied.

Soon it is 7:00. No CN to be found. At this point, dinner is ready to eat and waiting on him to cross the street to my house. He was probably sitting on his couch, watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" or "Curb Your Enthusiasm".

"Grrr..." I thought.

Word of advice to anyone: It is rude to be late to dinner. Usually because it means people are waiting on you and the food is being kept warm. Sometimes, keeping it warm can affect the quality of the food. Sometimes, this can cause the rice to stick to the pot like.....well, like white on rice. This kind of rice is extremely difficult to scrub off of said pot. Which often makes cooks angry.

"GRRRRR!!!" I thought as 7:15 ticked by.

I sat down on my couch, too stubborn to call him and see what in the hell he was doing. I began to work on my recipe organizing project to distract myself from my irritation. I was still busy working on it when he decided to show up. It was 7:30.

"GRRRRR!!!" I thought when he walked in the door.

"Rumble!!" said my empty tummy. (I was ready to eat at 6pm, so I was pretty hungry by this point.....although, my anger was definitely causing me to begin to lose my appetite.)

"Hey Babe! I have been so lazy today. I just laid on my couch after I got home from watching the game..." said CN.

"Hi," I said, frigidly. No hug. No eye contact. I was Ice Queen.

He instantly knew something was wrong. I told him I was annoyed and hungry. He said he didn't realize I was waiting on him. That's when I informed him that cooking dinner is different than cooking breakfast -- it's more than just cracking a couple of eggs into a frying pan. It takes time. If I say we are eating at 7:00, that means forkfuls of food are being sent to my empty tummy at that time. Then I told him that I was more irritated at the fact that he spoiled his dinner by eating a whole thing of nachos late in the afternoon when he knew I was making him dinner. That's just inconsiderate.

Ok, I didn't tell him he was inconsiderate. But I did make him feel badly. He apologized profusely and asked if he could do anything to make it up to me. I told him he had to do all the dishes, even the stuck-rice one. He said ok.

We ate. He washed. I felt better. We had a make-up smooching session.

Unfortunately, the handle on the rice pot broke during all of this (um...during dinner, not during the make-out session, that is). It was my fault, not his. And I was kind of upset, because the pot used to belong to my Grandma Virginia. I never met her, and I am named after her. All I have are her recipes and her pot, which is now broken. It is pretty old (from about the 1950s, I think), so I guess it had to go sometime. CN can't fix the handle, and neither can I. It's cracked, and the screw won't "stick". Glue might work, but I'm thinking it might melt or something when I heat up the pot. So I might see if I can find a replacement on eBay. I'm kind of bummed out about the pot, actually. :'(

I am secretly hoping CN will read my mind and get me a replacement pot for Christmas......but I'm not holding my breath. And if you are one of my readers who knows CN in real life, please do not tell him this, because then it won't count. Guys have to think up their own things for girlfriends for Christmas. That's the rule.

Anyway....let's see, what else.......

Last night, MJ and I hung out -- we were sorely in need of some Girl Time. In fact, we are having MORE Girl Time this weekend! Woo Hoo! We love hanging out with our new boyfs, but after having Boyfriend Weekends last weekend, we are wanting some alone/friend time. I am excited -- I haven't gone out with just MJ and KT in a long, long time.

Tonight I'm hanging out with CN, though. I haven't really seen him or talked to him since the Dinner Incident, and he really wants to see me. "I want to take you out somewhere nice for dinner. Are you free tonight?" he texted me today. How can you be mad at this guy? He's such a sweetheart.

Ugh. This blog is turning into a Boyfriend Blog. Which makes me kinda throw up a little. I need to get some variety in here. Does anyone have any ideas? Posting requests? I have major writers' block, guys! Help!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Miss Goldilocks

So much for posting every day this month. Totally forgot to post this weekend. Oops. Not like my weekend was ultra-exciting. Although, it had its moments, as you will see.

Friday night I did this. In heels. Not one of my better ideas, considering we ended up walking about a mile. By the end, I was a whiny, hobbling, pathetic fashion victim. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. You would think that since I did the tour a couple of years ago, I would remember how much walking was involved. But alas, that is giving me too much credit. Anyway, if they have a ghost tour where you are, (and according to Google, they are everywhere) I highly recommend going on one. It's full of history and urban legends. Very fun and different way to spend a couple of hours.

Then CN and I ate dinner here. I highly recommend the White Pizza. Mmmm...the cool thing is, they use whole wheat flour and low-fat cheese, so the pizzas aren't as bad for you. And you'd never know it! It's delicious!

Saturday, we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel, which was so exciting because they have hashbrown casserole AND blueberry pancakes (my all-time favorite breakfast food). If you live on the West Coast, I don't think you have Cracker Barrels, but that's ok. It's worth driving for. Man oh man, do they have good food!!! Plus, they have a cool store you can browse in while you wait for a table.

Then we ran errands and went to the mall. I made us some dinner, and then we watched the USC-Arkansas game. (And no, I don't want to talk about it. It stings.)

Titillating thus far, huh? I know you are all on the edge of your seats right now, so I will chug ahead to Sunday. :P

That afternoon, I went to Wal-Mart, and I saw a veeeeeeeerrrry interesting lady. At least, I think it was a lady. Picture in your mind: Tammy Faye Baker and a transvestite had a love child. Only the love child is in her late 60s. With frizzy platinum hair. And wearing the following outfit:

gold sequin newsboy cap
sparkly gold sweater
large gold hoop earrings
gold necklaces weighing about 10 pounds -- the woman had on the Mr. T starter kit, I swear!
6 or 7 (you guessed it) gold rings
gold satin sash tied around her waist as a belt
gold cigarette pants, stopping just shy of her ankles
(surprise, surprise) gold satin pumps
18 pounds of makeup, complete with fuchsia lipstick

Normally, I am able to control myself when faced with such odd people. But this lady was something else. I couldn't help but stare. Which is apparently what she wanted from everyone.

"Holy shit!" I mumbled to myself as I walked past her.

The Wal-Mart worker nearby giggled. Oops. Me and my big mouth. Too loud!

Then, I had a 2nd scare. You see, Miss Goldilocks wasn't pushing her own cart. Oh no. She doesn't "do" that. It might mess up her (presumably) gold-painted acrylic nails. She had a young girl with her to push the cart.

"Come along, Millie, push the cart over here!" is what I believe she said to the little girl. I looked over to see a beautiful little girl pushing the cart of Miss Goldilocks. She looked like she had just left ballerina class. Aw.

Now this poor thing, I assume it was her granddaughter -- or great-granddaughter, there's no telling what all that makeup is preserving -- was, at about age 11, already exhibiting traits of a future Miss Goldilocks. Her hair was pale blond, put up into an elegant bun, and her eyebrows were perfectly plucked.

I wanted to grab her and shake her and yell, "Good God! What is she doing to you??!? Don't you know little girls don't pluck their eyebrows?!!! Now, hurry! Run! Get out of here and away from her as fast as you can!! I'll cover for you! GO!!!"

But unfortunately for the little girl, I am neither that impulsive nor interfering. I shook my head and continued on with my shopping. And smiled to myself when I noticed aaaaaaall the other shoppers staring at this crazy woman, too.

I only have two regrets, really, about this whole encounter.

1. I didn't take any pictures -- it SUCKS when you see things like this and you are alone, huh?
2. I didn't look in her cart to see what she was buying. But I bet there was a big ol' vat of cold cream in there!

I wanted to take a picture so badly, but we were in such close proximity, I would have exposed myself. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. But MAN, that was such a blog-worthy moment!

I can't wait to go to Wal-Mart next Sunday. I wonder who will be there this time!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fun Friday!!

Were you alive in the 1970s? Aren't you glad those clothes are gone? Or are you feeling sentimental and want to take a trip back in time? You need to check out this hilarious post!

It's that time of year, folks. It's almost TURKEY TIME! Woo hoo! Although I love eating it, I am deathly afraid of cooking large pieces of meat. Unusual fear, I know. But I have my reasons. One reason is because if you screw it up, there goes dinner. Another fear is that everyone will be all excited to dig in, only to find the center of the bird/ham/roast is raw/frozen. Eeeeeewwww! I mean, how do you know when it's done?? The third reason is this:

And while we're on the subject of food, I will pass on a funny forward I got from a coworker. It is called: The Importance of Good Communication. Here goes....

"Be sure you don't order a cake from Wal-Mart....

We had a 'going away' party yesterday for a lady at our office. One of
the supervisors called Wal-Mart and ordered the cake.

He told them to write:

'Best Wishes Suzanne' and underneath that write 'We will miss you'.

As the picture shows, it didn't quite turn out right. It was too funny
not to keep it. Well, no one ever said you have to be smart to work at
Walmart, ha ha ha!"

Here is a picture of the cake:

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thursday 13 (2nd post today)

Thirteen Signs I Have Pack Rat Tendencies

(On a totally unrelated note, wouldn't that make a great band name??? Pack Rat Tendencies!)

1. I have kept every issue of Real Simple magazine I've received since I started my subscription 2 years ago. Most of them have not even been read yet. But it is the most awesome magazine EVER so I don't care. I will read them one day. As soon as I'm done reading all my other magazines....Allure, Marie Claire, Better Homes & Gardens, Country Living, Cosmo....oh, and I used to have Glamour, but I stopped renewing it because....I didn't have time to read it. Obviously. Anyway, I'm pretty good about chucking all the magazines except Real Simple.

2. I have two shoeboxes devoted to sample-sized Clinique products (from those free gifts) and toiletries. When I travel, I have little samples of everything!

3. There is a gigantic pile of papers in the corner of my bedroom. In it are: monthly updates on my 401(k)s, the top part of all my paid bills, pay stubs, receipts that need to be shredded, bank statements, anything having to do with my house, any receipts I will need for taxes, and anything deemed important enough to file away. Somewhere in there is my sadly under-used passport. And probably a nest of small woodland creatures, by this point.

4. I have kept most of my college textbooks. The ones that were interesting to me, anyway. I haven't really used them since college, but....I love them. And the $3.99 bin at Books a Million? I will have armfuls by the time I reach the register. "After all, I AM a librarian," I tell myself.

5. I recently forced myself to clean out my makeup drawers. Yes, I said drawers. I had some makeup in there from high school. We're talking 1995, people. And even then, it was only my inner germ-o-phobe who talked me into it. Nevermind that I hadn't worn that eyeshadow since I took trigonometry.

6. I have banned myself from going into craft stores. Why? Because I have a plastic roller cart full of impulse buys: acrylic paints, stencils, scrapbooking stuff, a hot glue gun, something called Modge Podge, glitter, beaded trim, confetti, stickers and who knows what else. I have not touched any of it. But I want to.

7. Is it too small? Beat up? Out of style? No biggie. I will make room in my closet. (Although, I am getting better about this as I get older.) I have some bras that are so ill-fitting, I haven't worn them in years. But they were expensive, and dammit, I'm going to get my money's worth!

8. You know how much I love office supplies. Well, guess who owns approximately 25 Post-it notepads. And markers in every color. And fluorescent-colored notebook paper. And 3-ring notebooks, complete with dividers, purchased specifically because they match the fluorescent notebook paper. And 10 or so sets of little notecards for me to write thank-you notes. Index cards, paper clips, more than one stapler, Sharpies, highlighters....need I go on? Keep in mind that few, if any of these items are being used.

9. I have a drawer in my house devoted to memorabilia from every ex-boyfriend since college. I keep it for the sole reason that The Czarina told me to, because "one day you'll have a daughter and she will want to look at all that stuff!"

Number of times I have looked at my mother's box of old love letters from pre-Dad boyfriends: 0.

(I should chuck that stuff, huh? Actually, at this point, I am wanting to do a MAJOR expulsion of all unnecessary items in my home!!! Yeesh! On a good note, though, I am far, FAR better than my roommate, E. That girl needs to go to Clutterers Anonymous!)

10. My boyfriend makes fun of the absurd number of socks I own. For some reason, I always think I need more socks. So I buy them in bulk. And now my sock drawer won't close.

11. At any given time, I have in my kitchen:

no fewer than 5 boxes of brownie/cake mix.
At least 2 kinds of chips.
Several varieties of candy.
2 flavors of ice cream.
3 beverages.
2 kinds of cereal.
Something chocolate and baked.
2 boxes of Chicken Quesadilla Lean Pockets
2 types of shredded cheese
3 cans of beans
4 cans of soup
Probably 35 varieties of spices/herbs
10 types of sauce/condiments/marinades
(there's more, but you get my drift)

Shit, I think I just realized why I'm broke all the time! Time to clean out the cupboard!!

12. I have a back-up of everything for the bathroom: soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, everything. Except an extra toothbrush, which CN and I realized only when it was very late and he didn't feel like crossing the street to go brush his teeth because he was too tired.

"Do you realize you have thirteen rolls of toilet paper in your bathroom?" he said to me the other day. I had them piled everywhere in there.

"Yeah. I mean, it's not like it will go bad. Buying in bulk saves money. And they didn't have a 6-roll size in the kind I like. What?" I replied.

He just laughed and shook his head. I told him to shut up or else I would make him bring his own toilet paper from now on.

13. I have intangibles, too. There are my 20 or so Voices in my Head. My emotional baggage from past relationships. My innumerable guilt trips. The umpteen flaws in my body that I see when I am naked and in front of a mirror. My fears and hopes. All those things I wish I could say, but don't. I collect all of these, too. Just in case I need them one day.

New! Improved?

Well, howdy. As you can see, I was trying to think of a post for today, when I started messing around in Blogger and realized that if you "upgrade" your template, they give you this handy-dandy editing thingamabobber which makes changing the stuff in your template WAY easier.

Obviously, I have some sidebar organizing and editing to do....hmmmm....

But the cool thing is, not only is it easier to move/change stuff, they also give you little tools so you can add stuff easily to your template. I highly recommend you do this. Some of the features are really neat, and you still have all of your normal html editing abilities. I think.

Plus, this is a much prettier template, don't you think? I like the top part especially. What is that? A fruit tree or something? I dunno. But I like all these colors.

Anyway, since this is National Blog Writing Month, I'm going to try and post every day this month. I don't know how well that will go when I go home for Thanksgiving...I can only imagine what The Czarina would say if she caught me blogging....

"What do you mean, you have a blog? Oh my gawd, I bet you are just asking for some psycho to stalk you and kill you! You probably have a million internet predators reading it! I bet they know your address and phone number and...if your father knew you were doing this..."


Anyway, I wish I had a more interesting post for you today, but all the Thursday 13s I have been working on end up being Thursday 9s or 10s. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

In case you are wondering, everything is the same. Or, as my dad used to say, "No news is good news."

CN is still wonderful. We are having date night tomorrow. Aw.

My friends are still the best.

I still want to lose weight. I have lost my motivation. Have you seen it? Maybe it's in a lost n found bin somewhere....I need to find it soon, because (thanks to my wonderfully happy relationship, which makes me feel secure and accepted) I'm slowly ballooning into Whale-sized VB. Ugh.

I am still broke, but the good news is, I get my Christmas bonus in about 3 weeks -- WOOT!

And I still haven't killed Toby, despite the fact that he annoys the crap out of me.

So this is it for now, unless I can finish up one of my Thursday 13s before the night is over.