Betty Crocker

I love cake. I also love to bake, but my execution kind of sucks. I always have an idea in my head of how something is going to turn out and it rarely turns out that way. It’s okay, I have fun baking and now my daughter and I bake together so it’s twice as much fun. I normally buy a cake for our big events. I am blessed to know an amazing baker. She was a neighbor for a short period of time and she has a daughter who is a month older than my daughter so we got them together for a play date when they lived in the neighborhood. We have been friends since then. Life happened which took my baking angel away for a time period, but now she is back in the area. We have remained connected through social media and when I am in need of a beautiful cake for a big event, I know who to call. I will bake a cake for a small family party but not for larger gatherings. We alternate the size of my daughter’s birthday parties from year to year. For the years she has big parties I don’t bake, but for the small family birthday celebrations I will attempt to bake a cake. (more…)

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Freshman

I am a freshman, again. I am living proof that if you don’t get it right the first time, you can just keep going back and trying again. I have been a freshman a handful of times now. What can I say, I like school. That, or I like the idea of a profession much better than I actually like working, so I keep changing fields. I am sticking with the notion that I am just thirsty for knowledge and on a constant joyful quest to better myself.

I am in graduate school again and I am finally attending a school where my Dad received a large portion of his education. The Old Man went to half the schools in the state of Michigan. Are you picking up on a theme here? My Mom also has a number of degrees, so the whole idea of me going back to school now was not unusual in my family. In fact, everyone is pretty excited, except for my daughter who realized that my school schedule may cut into her ordering me around schedule. She likes me to be the one to put her to bed at night. I burn a candle in her room while she reads and fluff her pillow before I put her ice pack inside to keep her head cool. God forbid, her Dad forces her to brush her own hair. She was not as upset when she learned that I would be returning from school right before she dozes off at night. I can even tuck her in if I hall ass from downtown Detroit fast enough, which is typically not a problem for me, except I am a silly freshman who can’t seem to figure out the parking situation at my new school so it takes me about a half hour to get my vehicle onto Woodward.

Let me start by saying I did not drive my first time around in college. I mean, I drove, but rarely on campus. My car stayed put while I rode a bike to class as an undergrad. I didn’t do this because I was a fitness junkie. I did this because parking was a nightmare in East Lansing and if I drove onto campus, I would have spent the next three days trying to get my car out of impound. There was very little parking on campus and I was poor so I biked everywhere. When I went to graduate school afterward, it was at a small business college that had loads of parking around the one building it occupied. The school was literally smaller than my grade school in square footage.

So now, here I am back at a larger university, spanning almost 200 acres. I know this is really nothing to navigate after the 10,000 acres of campus from my undergrad years, but I am now a middle aged woman, and apparently with age comes forgetfulness, and forgetting where my classes are and where my car is are not foreign concepts to me. I have lost my car at the gym, the mall and even in a park once. I am no stranger to walking around looking confused. The thing is, I don’t really want to be doing this downtown. It might be misconstrued as an invitation to rob me. Also, since most students commute, there are parking structures and lots on almost every corner.

Knowing that I am often running late and forget where I left things like my car, I opted to purchase a parking pass. The thing is, you have to buy a pass for a specific lot. I looked at the map and purchased the pass for the lot closest to the building most of my classes are in. I coughed up a couple hundred bucks for said pass, but I figure that’s a small price to pay for being able to locate my car after every single class I attend. When I shared with my Dad that I had paid in advance for parking he shared with me that he used to get into the parking structure like everyone else, but when leaving he drove to one end of the lot and drove over the curb, over the sidewalk and onto the street without paying. Now I know why all of the new structures are completely enclosed. He started asking me about the lot I would be parking in and trying to devise an escape route when I disappointed him by telling him I was actually going to follow the rules on this rare occasion. Maybe after twenty years of schooling, fifteen years of marriage and a child I am finally growing up. That or I know nobody is going to bail me out after I get arrested for something stupid like jumping a curb to save a couple bucks in parking fees, except for my Dad and he never answers his cell phone.

The funny thing about this is that I actually almost had to jump the curb to get out of the lot during my second week of classes. I had been gaining access to the lot for a full week by using the intercom or flagging down parking garage staff since the scanner was not reading my tag which was sitting on my dashboard. My car’s rear view mirror does not allow for the tag to properly hang so I leave it on the dashboard and hold it up to the windshield as I drive up. I was pretty convinced my car was the problem and I would finally find the sweet spot to hold the tag after multiple attempts, but I never did. One of the people tying to assist me on the third day told me to back up and pull up again slowly, repeatedly until he was satisfied the tag wasn’t reading. Nightly, upon leaving I had to use the intercom to ask someone to lift the gate and release me. On one of these occasions, nobody answered my call for several minutes. I don’t know if I had caught the man on the other side of the little metal box on a potty break or if he was engulfed in a good book, but based on his demeanor when he did answer, he was not thrilled about being disturbed. By that point I had a line of about 10 cars behind me and literally no way out. I was seriously considering plowing through the gate or jumping the curb by the time Sleepy McCrabbypants finally lifted the gate.

One would think after that ordeal I would call the parking office to figure out what the problem was. One would be sadly mistaken and I would argue that one might not fully comprehend my ability to ignore a problem until it somehow solves itself. And a solution did present itself the next night when I was attempting to park. As usual I pulled up to the gate and was not admitted. I was beginning to feel like a dude standing outside of a club watching all the pretty girls being admitted and wondering when it would finally be my turn. I once again used the intercom. This time a younger female answered my call for help and instead of asking for my permit number she asked for my name. I swallowed the urge to shout “Tallula Lipshitz” and gave her my real name, fully suspecting that she just wanted to be able to share with her coworkers the true identity of the moron who couldn’t navigate pulling into a parking structure. But it was even worse than that. She calmly told me “you are in the wrong lot. Your permit is for lot 50. You are at structure 5.” I asked where lot 50 was and she almost laughed as she told me it was a few blocks away on the other side of the freeway. The thing is, I looked at a map when I bought the permit and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have thought running across a freeway would be fun before and after class. Then again, anything is possible with me.

When I applied to school again this time, I thought my biggest problem would be finding time to study. Now, three weeks into classes I am debating whether I should get a new seat on my bike to ride seventeen miles to class or recruit my Dad to teach me how to jump a curb without damaging the frame of my car. I guess I could always just call the parking administration and ask to have my permit changed to the structure I have been parking in for the last several weeks, but that seems like such a sophomore thing to do, and I’m a freshman.

*Of course I was listening to Milo Goes to College when I wrote this!

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Consequences

Family vacations are always a mix of pure joy and total exhaustion. Children don’t acclimate to new settings as quickly as adults so their reactions to pretty much everything are usually a little over the top. They are like little ping pong balls bouncing back and forth between bliss and terror. My mini-me is usually on the verge of wetting her pants with excitement or trying to find a safe place because the sky is falling. Also, once she is excited, there is very little slowing her down. She is like a tiny energizer bunny. Unfortunately, her recovery time from a walk into terror town is of similar length.

We took a trip down to Florida last month to test out the latest Harry Potter ride at Universal. This was not exactly the trip we were planning to take at the end of June, or really at all, but it happened. We had gone to Universal during Easter break and somehow when I planned the trip back in March, I bought two sets of tickets to the theme parks. This sounds ridiculous unless you know me. I buy duplicates of things all the time. In fact, I realized on this trip that I had packed a pair of shorts with a tag still on them that I had worn several times since May. I had not actually been wearing the pair with the tag on them, I had been sporting this pair’s doppelganger for a month prior to buying the shorts I took on vacation. I usually pretend that I intentionally bought duplicates because of my undying affection for whatever the item is, but this tactic was not a good one in the case of the duplicate tickets. I had to fess up that I accidentally bought two sets of tickets whilst confused about how many days and how many parks we planned on visiting. Needless to say, my husband was not thrilled about this trip but mini-me was over the moon, especially since a new ride had opened just two weeks before our arrival.

During our flight down to Orlando, my daughter talked of nothing other than the timing of our riding the new ride, where she most wanted to sit and how many times we should fly through the air strapped onto a metal track during our stay. She vacillated between titillation and crippling fear for the three hour trek. She loves all things Harry Potter but is nervous about roller coasters, so there was much ambivalence. She had watched several YouTube videos of the ride which were apparently replaying on the screen in her brain repeatedly.

Once we arrived, we could hardly hold her back while we checked into the hotel and grabbed lunch. As we headed toward the park (by foot since it was faster than the water taxi), she skipped ahead of us calling back for us to hurry up. When I finally barked at her to slow down and settle down she turned to me and said very earnestly “I know, having kids is hard. Maybe you two shouldn’t have gotten married.” Just like that – mom, these are the consequence of your actions, live with them. She stroked my arm while saying this, the same way I have touched her while doling out a punishment for the last several years. I couldn’t help but laugh. Proud of herself, she skipped off ahead of us again.

My husband and I spent the rest of the vacation blaming every minor disappointment on our marriage. Everything from long lines to the rain that arrived halfway through our third day was the result of our nuptials. Apparently the butterfly effect of all things can be traced back to our wedding fifteen years ago, even the decision for overweight women to wear short shorts. Who knew?! Luckily, the same rules applied to all things that went right. Riding the front car of the new roller coaster wasn’t luck, it was the direct result of my saying “I do” in 2004. If not for our marriage, the ride probably wouldn’t even exist. If nothing else, the recurring joke saved us our sanity while fighting crowds in the sweltering heat.

By the final night of our trip, my family was literally falling asleep at dinner. The fact that the seating at the restaurant was groups of couches did not help. We fought the sleepiness long enough to inhale some sushi before collapsing into our beds. My child’s sudden narcolepsy was of course blamed on her parents’ marriage. I had to point out that this was probably the most accurate assessment of the entire trip. This crew really does wear me out!

 

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Better Read the Fine Print

My Dad presented me with a coupon book I gave him as a gift thirty years ago. I was thinking how cute it was that I made him a handmade gift as a teenager and laughing at all of the items I included when I realized that what I forgot to include was an expiration date. None of the coupons had dates on them which meant that they were still valid. Oh shit.

The coupons include things like “One Free Control of the Clicker Sunday” and “One Free Assist in Car Repair”. All of the coupons are things my Dad often asked me to do or needed help with. The fact that I used the word “free” on the coupons implies that I tried to charge him for my assistance on most occasions. I have to admit, I asked for cash frequently, mostly while he was dozing on the couch.

The funniest part of these coupons is the fine print. Each coupon includes a description or exclusion. Some of the descriptions are apparently meant to entice. The “One Free Fix This Before Mom Sees Cover Up” option says “this will come in handy next time you spill some paint on her new carpet” which he had actually done. And I had actually helped him cover it up before my Mom saw. I am a bleaching genius.

Some of the other fine print includes exclusions like on the “One Free Trip to Home Depot” which states “lunch not included!” I mean seriously, hardware store hot dogs? No thanks. I was also only available or willing to rub his feet on Sunday evenings during our favorite television shows because the fine print on the foot rub coupon lists four television shows it could be redeemed during. Unfortunately for me all of these shows are currently still available on demand. I clearly was not thinking ahead at sixteen. I was, however, smart enough to know that I should probably at least be entertained while I rubbed the Old Man’s feet. Being a masseuse while having to watch something like golf or baseball would have been torture.

I confiscated the coupon book before leaving their house yesterday. In all fairness, my Dad had literally used three of the coupons in the hour I was there. I do feel like it would be a waste for him not to get to use the rest though. I guess I am going to have a busy day this Sunday rubbing feet, fixing cars, shopping for gifts for my Mom and possibly going to jail. I noticed that the “Get Out of Jail Free” coupon says I will take the blame for any screw up with my Mom as long as it isn’t a felony. I didn’t mention anything about misdemeanors. I really was not thinking these things through at sixteen. It’s not like I hadn’t experienced a misdemeanor by then!

It’s also possible that we will all spend the day in the hospital if he cashes in the “Free Breakfast”” coupon. I think there is a reason this particular coupon was never used. I may have included that coupon as a joke considering I didn’t even know how to cook a pork chop. Also, why would anyone want a pork chop for breakfast?

My Dad has been having fun threatening to use coupons all day. I keep coming up with exclusions but I have a feeling I will run out of reasoning at precisely the wrong time. I already told him that the home repair coupon only covers jobs within the four walls of their main home. I could sense him handing it to me and demanding I renovate the bathroom at the lake house. My services are similar to homeowner’s insurance coverage, very limited and mostly useless.

Who would have thought that a homemade gift from the eighties would be the gift that keeps on giving. Somehow I think the Old Man is going to get months, if not years of fun out of these, holding them over my head. Luckily I was not very ambitious at the age of sixteen and there are less than a dozen coupons available. With the way my Dad digs a hole when it comes to angering my Mom, he could be down to only a few coupons by the end of the week!

**I wrote this blog while listening to the Descendents. Something about that band brings out my inner sixteen year old brat!

 

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It’s Raining Men

I went to a male review this weekend. The word review has a bad connotation for me. I think of my former job and the dreaded performance reviews that were meaningless and painfully boring. The feeling that comes along with that word has not changed – I still feel a little nauseous, and now maybe like I need a shower. I’m also a little confused about why these shows are called a review. I didn’t get any score card to fill out. Maybe it is more of a review for the audience about what the correct body parts are or what a guy is supposed to look like naked. Either way, review is not a word that makes me jump up and say “I want to go to that!” Yet I did.

I have never been to a male review so I didn’t have a reference point. I haven’t even seen the movie Magic Mike, but I have seen quite a few memes with a bunch of half naked dancing dudes, so that was pretty much what I expected. This particular show was a group of touring performers, so I assumed the guys would meet a certain standard. None of my expectations were met. I felt like maybe the club owner walked onto the street and stopped random guys leaving the gym to see what they were doing that night. By gym, I mean the local YMCA. Oh, and he only found four guys. That’s fine though, the audience/performer ratio was still 5 to 1.

The audience consisted of a very drunken bachelorette party, a group of gay guys and their fag hags and us. The bachelorette and her posse were all wearing tight white dresses, and one of them was roughly the size of half of our group. She turned out to be the only member of the audience who really appreciated the attention from the dancers – so much in fact that she ended up on the stage with them more than once with her cell phone recording all of the incriminating evidence. The stripper/comedian on stage referred to these ladies as the “wasted white wedding” and us as “the sober divorce club” since we were the only patrons still able to stand up unassisted. He had no clever name for the gay guys which surprised me because I had about twelve. One of the gays was wearing a flannel shirt and what appeared to be a toupee. I had a half hour commentary about that guy alone before even looking at his companions.

Maybe the best part of the night was that we actually watched these yahoos setting up for the show. We arrived an hour after doors opened, right as a group of guys was hanging up a giant blanket on the back of the stage. This blanket was the highlight of the show. It was covered in dancing lights that mesmerized me for a full hour while half naked smarmy guys in cowboy hats danced around. It was magical. I spent the better part of the night trying to figure out how to remove this masterpiece from the stage and get it into my car without getting tackled by a shirtless guy with half a boner. I decided the odds were against me and left empty handed.

At one point my girlfriend turned to me and asked “where do you think they get these outfits?” My reply was “Walmart. Definitely Walmart.” They fit right in with the venue though. It was like a VFW hall outside of a trailer park. At one point I reached under my chair to move it and stuck my hand in something sticky. The makeshift bar may or may not have been on wheels and the ladies room was right outside of the dressing room for the dancers where they could be heard getting changed. At least they had a professional sound system or we may have missed all that witty banter from the guy with crooked teeth and cornrows. He announced he was from the south. No really!?

I was surprised at how many dances occurred with less than a half dozen men performing. They had group dances, individual dances, costume changes and even a few props. I think it was as entertaining as it could be given what they had to work with. From my understanding, a male review is supposed to be somewhat fantasy inducing, and my mind was definitely wandering. Unfortunately, my mind was reeling with questions like “I wonder how adonis ended up here, did he want to be a Juliard trained dancer but just couldn’t cut it?” or “I wonder if any of these guys were actually in the armed forces. Does putting on the military vest cause them to suffer PTSD?” or “who the hell picked this music? I heard the same songs at Drag Queen Bingo!” I mean seriously, when the song that is played repeatedly is pretty much the drag queen anthem, you have picked the wrong music to dance to.

When the country song came on, it was time to leave. I can only endure so much. Unfortunately, I think half of the audience was just waiting for someone to make the first move. I didn’t have to be asked twice. As soon as one of my friends made the “let’s bolt” face, I was at the door waiting. As we exited, the bachelorette party stumbled out behind us. A few other stragglers followed as well.The dancers were left with the gays and their crew which I think was right up their alley.

The woman who planned this event apologized profusely as we walked to our cars and we all assured her that the comic value made it a worthwhile night. She ended with saying “maybe we should stick to the arts and crafts…” Somehow I think we are going to end up in some DIY studio and they will also be playing “It’s Raining Men”.

**Photos have been withheld from this piece to protect the innocent.

There are only a few guys I want to see sweaty on a stage and Henry Rollins is one of them

 

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Pump It Up

I gained five pounds. While getting changed into my bathing suit at the gym I discovered exactly where the five pounds are located and all five are trying to squeeze into my bikini top. Of course the pounds are also not evenly distributed. Go figure. When I made this discovery, I of course snapped a photo and texted it to my husband. These are the kinds of texts he gets from me frequently. He should consider himself lucky that he isn’t getting shots of the new mole I have on my shoulder or what appear to be stretch marks on my right thigh. I have been told that people don’t start sharing questionable moles and cellulite photos until after fifteen years of marriage. I can’t wait until August.

He must have been amused by the photo because today, while I was out running errands he sent me a photo of himself with one of my bras slapped across his chest with the caption “I think I gained five pounds too!” Sadly, my first reaction was to look down my shirt because I was certain I was wearing the bra he was sporting. Yes, the shocking part of the photo to me was that I was not wearing what I thought. I am not at all phased by the questionable photos my husband sends. He didn’t get the memo about the fifteen year deal. He has been sending me weird shit for over a decade.

Tonight I was debating about going to the gym to get in the sauna. Just when I decided not to go, my husband rebutted “don’t you want to let the water out of those things?” Charming. And he wonders why the photos he gets from me are of stretch marks and water weight.

I wrote this blog while listening to Bouncing Souls

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Family

I love family parties. It gives me a chance to catch up with my cousins who I don’t see nearly enough and the aunt and uncle on my dad’d side of the family who provide me with a lot of information about my dad and what he was like as a kid. I hear about how their dad paid them for their report cards and how he got them to do all of the work around the house without ever having to lift a finger. My grandfather on my dad’s side was not a very good dad. It sometimes amazes me that his three sons all turned out to be really good dads and even better grandfathers.

I listened to my dad and aunt talk about their childhood Christmases and how they acquired the tree for the season. From what I gathered they went to the lot and picked out the tree they liked and the teenage sons were sent back at night to get the tree free of charge. This explains a lot about why my dad was really disappointed in me when I shoplifted as a kid. He raised me to work for your money and go buy the things you need. Stealing is wrong. I think his dad had a different theory about how to obtain the things in life you want or think you might need. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but I think my dad must have hit a limb on the way down and got thrown far away from that old apple tree.

My aunt stayed with my parents the night of the party. She was on her way to Florida and in town for a day or two so she slept in my parents’ spare room. My daughter and I went over to visit with her before she left since we don’t see her very often and she told me a story about how she obtained a bike the prior spring to peddle around town. She apparently found a bike that was in front of someone’s house, close to the curb, not chained to anything and in very good condition. It was a boys bike so it wasn’t ideal for her, but it was good enough to ride around town on. She jumped on the bike and rode off. She said obviously they were throwing it away if it was outside, unlocked and unattended. She also said she didn’t ride down that street all summer just in case the person wasn’t actually throwing away the bike that was somewhere between the house and the curb that night she walked by. She rode the bike all summer and when she was done she went and put it back by the house. In the end I guess she borrowed a bike for a few months without the owner’s consent or permission. She laughed when she told the story the same way she laughed about how the boys in the family got the Christmas tree.

Maybe the female apples stay close to the tree and the males roll as far away as they can. I don’t know, but I’m really grateful for that branch that shot my dad so far away from the tree that he didn’t even know he was an apple anymore.

*I wrote this story while listening to Pennywise

 

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