Sunday, March 1, 2015

F.U. Flu!


Well, that's a gross image above!

Even grosser, I've had every one of those symptoms within the past few days.

The flu is such a pill and an inconvenience, but a great excuse to stay in bed and vegetate.

In the past four days, I've progressed from feeling a little yucky, to blech, to barf, to "I'd better just stay in bed", to a 12-hour bout with the whiny man-flu (yes, women... it can happen to you), to "I think I can eat again!", to "Why did I just eat that?", to angry dinosaur tummy, to "I really can eat, but why does my body still hurt so badly and why is walking to the bathroom so exhausting?"

Today's flu stage is a promising one. It's the stage where I've emptied out the DVR, read all of the magazines, ran out of Netflix titles on my list, reached the bottom of my Pinterest feed and have completely explored the Internet in its entirety.

There is absolutely no other form of entertainment to be found from my bed, (well, there is always blogging... and, so, check!) which means I must now will myself back to health because I've simply become too bored to be sick any longer.

Yes, my tongue is still white from dehydration. My muscles feel like someone's been practicing electroshock therapy on them. My throat feels as if someone's been scraping it with a salad fork in my sleep. And, I can't tell if I'm still feverish, or if I've simply had my laptop resting on my stomach for too many hours on end.*

But, I've decided: Today is the day! I will get dressed even! (Yoga pants count as clothes, right?) I will wash (or, at least, change) this germ-ridden bedding! I will walk up and down the stairs without resting in between! I will set the alarm for work tomorrow! I will drink all of the water so my tongue becomes pink again! I will wash my hair and (maybe) shave my legs!

I will do it all! I think I can, I think I can, I kinda know I maybe can...

I just need to take one more nap first.

Zzzzzzzz...



*Please remember to refer me to this post if, in the future, you ever hear me whining of a sudden and unexplained bout with infertility. I fear this laptop may have fried my eggs as well.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Picks 2015

I'm very proud of myself this year, for getting out to see five (yes, count 'em , a whopping FIVE) of the best picture nominees. This is a new record for me, pre-award show.

So, guess what that means. I've got more opinions than ever this year!

Here we go with my picks (not predictions...):


Cinematography: This year's movie makers upped the game on stunning cinematic quality. My cinematography picks this year are Birdman (quite possibly for the Christmas-lit liquor store scene alone... and since it wasn't nominated in the Production Design category) or Grand Budapest Hotel (because, every Wes Anderson film is a lesson in this art. Duh.)


Film Editing: Whiplash is my unlikely pick. I've never quite seen a music-based film that was shot almost like an war or action movie. Every lick of the drum was like a bullet whizzing by. It was a unique approach and left me impressed. But, I won't cry if American Sniper or Boyhood takes home this trophy either.


Production Design: Grand Budapest Hotel. Duh. No explanation needed.



Sound Editing: Birdman I will award for its innovative use of untuned drums and whatever other twanginess that was that put us directly inside the mind of a man that had become unraveled. American Sniper has my honorable mention for its traditional good job in this category.




Sound Mixing: I'm going with Whiplash or American Sniper here.



Screenplay- Adapted: Whiplash. Are you noticing any trends yet?


Screenplay- Original: Boyhood's writing was fine, but seemed very familiar. Like it had possibly lifted dialogue from Dazed and Confused (as well as one liquor store clerk.) I'm going to have to go with Birdman for original screenplay. There was alot of dialogue... good dialogue. And, every actor did an impressive job of reciting it all while riding out those long seamless shots.



Directing: This year's nominees seemed to be awarded by way of experimentation. We had Alejandro G. Inarittu and his single-shot, steadycam, no room for a breath, experiment with Birdman.  Richard Linklater's exhausting twelve year run putting together every scene for Boyhood. The problem is, I'm just not sure if either novelty paid off for me in either case. I'm in the minority, by not thinking the single-shot work in Birdman served its purpose in the way of impressing its audience. Yes, I'm impressed with the endurance of the cast, crew and everyone else involved with making those long, seamless scenes happen. I've read the interviews and understand Inarittu's artistic reasoning for these choices. But, it just didn't do anything for me in the audience. If the timeline of the film was a "real time" situation, I might have went for it. But, it wasn't, so it didn't. It actually, just made me kind of sea-sick. Boyhood, I finally watched last night, just in the nick of time to form a proper opinion. And, again, although I'm impressed with the marathon involved in piecing this film together... I think the actors were great... the story was fine... I just didn't see anything spectacularly over-achieving in the direction, besides a decade-long loyalty to the job. So, I'm tempted to award Wes Anderson in for Grand Budapest Hotel, even though it wasn't my favorite of his films. I always appreciate the hustle and painstaking attention to artistic detail he shows in every one of his movies and maybe it's time he finally gets his Oscar for it. He's got an eyeball like no one else's eyeball.



Animated Feature: Big Hero 6. Hands down. It was like a real movie. Not just a cartoon. I cried... multiple times. I laughed. I got scared. I've referred to this movie as an older kids perfect segue into their next level of movie-watching. And, I meant it.


Actor in a Leading Role: Michael Keaton (Birdman). And, I will be furious if he doesn't get this one! All of the other nominees are each great actors and all wonderful in their respective roles... but, man, what a comeback! Michael Keaton all the way!


Actress in a Leading Role: Although I hear these were all fine women's roles this year, none of the pictures really piqued my interest. (Sorry ladies! I know I sound like a total female sellout.) I go to the movies quite a bit. And, I see films to be entertained. So, I don't usually fall under the spell of heavy drama or watching people get sick, go insane or battle demons. I'm glad these roles exist for women actors, I'm just less likely to pony up my ten bucks at their releases. The one film I did catch in this category was Gone Girl. At the time I thought Rosamund Pike was annoyingly melodramatic and over-selling the part. But, by the end of the story you see that's exactly what she was called to do in such a role. I don't see her winning, though, and I'm sure Julianne Moore (Still Alice) will finish out her award season sweep. (P.S. If Jessica Chastain would have been nominated for A Most Violent Year, she would have had my vote.)


Actor in a Supporting Role:  This is my favorite category this year as Ethan Hawke was great in Boyhood, Edward Norton was as flawless as ever in Birdman. I didn't see Foxcatcher but I always love me some Mark Ruffalo. But, the one actor that will absolutely make me cry a thousand rivers if he does not win, is J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. Spectacular. Unfailing. J.K. not only had the best written role of the flock, but put the most into executing it with absolute precision.


Actress in a Supporting Role: For me, this is a toss up between Patricia Arquette in Boyhood (also my pick for best hair changes) and Emma Stone in Birdman. I hear Laura Dern was great in Wild, although I didn't get a chance to see it in time. The only thing that will tick me off is if Meryl Streep wins for Into the Woods. I love Ms. Streep. She's the best, without question. But, this role? Really?! What was the nomination committee thinking? Just because she was in something this year, doesn't give her a free pass.

Saving the best for last... [insert drumroll]

Best Picture: I've seen five. Yes, FIVE, remember. I have a fully formed opinion on this for a change. I've already stated my petty flaws with Boyhood and Birdman. They're not my winners. Even though I loved Birdman, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zack Galifianakis, Amy Ryan... everyone involved. Since I had any complaint at all... I can't cast my vote for the big prize in its direction. 

I've already stated that Grand Budapest Hotel was not my favorite Wes Anderson movie. So, bye bye. Not my pick. 

I LOVED American Sniper. Absolutely, loved it as my second favorite movie of the season. But, it had three glaring imperfections to me. 1.) Doll baby in the nursery scene. It totally took my head out of the movie. And, it was so obvious! C'mon Clint! 2.) The mile-long bullet shot. Very cool. But, I was suddenly transported from Saving Private Ryan to The Matrix. It didn't match any of the other camera work in the movie. I don't know how else they could have effectively shot that scene. But, not my job. I'm underpaid and in the audience. 3.) My heart soared in the closing credits, but it ended so abruptly for me. Just a sudden one sentence blurb and the movie was over, even though the scene seemed to be still rolling on script. I felt like something may have gotten chopped out at the last second. And, no. I didn't need to see "that" scene. I just felt Mr. Eastwood could have steered the boat to shore more smoothly. It was a sturdy vessel. It knew where it was going.

So, am I an overly picky movie-goer this year? I'm going to pick my second favorite movie apart and throw its lifeless baby doll to the birds?

Yes. I can afford to this year. Because there was one film that stood a mile above the others. I have no criticisms of it. It was a flawless masterpiece as far as I'm concerned. And, that movie was... Whiplash!



I was worried I was going to miss out on it completely, as it played it very limited windows in the Detroit-area. Then, when I finally able to get myself to a showing, it was sold out!

It was months after its release before I actually got a ticket in hand and my butt in a red cushioned seat. Where I then sat through the previews wondering if my months-long anticipation had killed my chances for the film living up to my expectations. 107 minutes later, it had not. 

Impeccable! Beyond expectation. Not one single complaint. Flawlessly cast. Perfectly filmed. The drama had a good build. And, the music... there are just no words. The final drum solo, alone, has me in tears while simultaneously shouting out, "HOLY S**T!!!" (Yes, that actually happened. I'd take this moment to apologize to my fellow audience members, but I believe they were all equally caught up in the rapture and didn't even notice me.)

Judging by the award season stats... I think this pick is a long shot. But, if the voters really did their job by watching every nominee... If they truly understand and respect their craft... If they can remain unbiased toward popularity contests and awarding their buddies in the field... I hold a small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, my #1 film of 2014 just might have a chance of shaking things up on Sunday.

Fingers (and drumsticks) crossed!

(Then go see Whiplash after the show. You won't regret it.)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Year in Review

Not a best of, not a worst of... just the things I feel like talking at you about in this year's Pop Culture wrap-up.

And, as always, all red links lead to good things!

AT THE MOVIES:


  • Gone Girl: The year's most thrilling, mind-bending, titillating mystery that I really wish I hadn't brought my mother along to see.
  • John Wick: A most welcome return to the gratuitous action genre. The body count, innumerable. I literally left the theater exhausted. And, if Keanu Reeves can keep up with that much cardio at the age of 50, I have absolutely no excuse for skipping my evening walk.
  • Birdman: Michael Keaton's back! Michael Keaton is BACK!! And, he's going to win an Oscar! Although, I'm in the minority by having my critiques of some of the directing choices in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's stunner/comeback vehicle for Keaton, I cannot deny the flawless acting from each and every one of its stars and costars. If this film does not win the prize for Outstanding Cast at this year's SAG Awards, I completely give up on Hollywood.
  • The Interview: So, I'm not much a fan of stoner comedies, or graphic vulgarity, or needlessly explicit language in film. I am pretty much immune to James Franco's smarm. I hated The 40-Year Old Virgin. I thought Knock Up was good in concept, but veered off into bad taste once played out. That said, I'm a fan of Seth Rogen as a person (ie. talk show guest) and, potentially, a writer (if he'd put down that bong for five seconds.) I loved Freaks and Geeks. I liked Funny People. But, was I willing to risk terrorist threat to be "in on" his latest endeavor? Apparently so, because I did. And lived to tell about it. Was there drugs? Some. Was it vulgar? Yeah. Was there a needless amount of explicit language? Of course. But, did I laugh? Yes! Surprisingly, alot. I rank it on the same level as Tropic Thunder. If you did not like Tropic Thunder, you will not like this. If you're still not sure if it's not for you, check out Eminem's hilarious cameo and then decide.
  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I: I am so unbelievably hooked on the Hunger Games series for someone who had avoided it for a whole year, based on the mere concept alone. And, as if Jennifer Lawrence wasn't perfect enough with her flawless hair, flawless face, flawless body and hysterical sense of humor. Now we find out she can sing pretty amazingly in a minor key as well. Oh well! It's impossible to hate her. You can only wish to grow up to be just like her. (Even if you're practically twice her age.) 
  • Big Hero 6: I call this the animated movie that offers the perfect segue for kids approaching PG-13 territory. There were explosions, action, drama, laughter and tears. (So many tears! I literally cried a contact lens right out of my eye!) I did have to warn a few younger viewers away from seeing it, though. That villain was a little too creepy for the Disney princess set. (Click here for some images to decide for yourself.)
And, Let's Talk About This: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. One of the worst movies my nephews dragged me to this year, that ended with the most unexpected and heartbreaking goodbye from Robin Williams. (This year's award season In Memoriam is going to be a rough one!)

I Missed It! Whiplash. Damn you, metro-Detroit theaters and your minuscule window for seeing anything that's not a blockbuster. This one is on the grab-it-as-soon-as-it-comes-to-DVD list.

Can't Wait for in 2015: A Most Violent Year, American Sniper, Pitch Perfect 2, Inherent Vice, Black Mass and... okay, fine, let's finish it off... Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II.

IN MUSIC:
  • There were many mentions of butts.
   Moving on...

ON TV:
  • Gotham (Fox): This prequel to all things Batman had me a little nervous at first. How are they going to drag out the legacy of Batman in the twenty or so years it is going to take for young Bruce Wayne to become the Caped Crusader? So many characters crossing paths so soon! But then I simply sat back, relaxed, and learned to enjoy the ride. P.S. Middle-aged Alfred Pennyworth is a total badass.
  • Gracepoint (Fox): The American remake of the UK's Broadchurch miniseries was the biggest nail-biter on the small screen this year. The coastal smalltown murder mystery kept me guessing and defending my case for its entire ten episode duration and provided that best water-cooler talk of 2014. (It's still playing On Demand if you missed it!)
  • Drunk History (Comedy Central): The biggest belly laughs I had while watching TV this year were while sitting sober and watching drunk people try to explain (in great detail!) some of the biggest historical events in America. Check it out on YouTube, Comedy Central and full episodes now on DVD
  • The Mindy Project (Fox): I couldn't get into The Mindy Project in its first season. I felt like it was trying too hard to be the next Ally McBeal or something. But, in its second season, I gave it another chance, once it became more character-centric and less wannabe-chick flick. By Season Three, the show has really hit its stride. And, what?!  Danny Castellano is dancing out of nowhere! What's going on? And, why do I like it so much?!
  • Wahlburgers (A&E): When Donnie and Mark Wahlberg were growing up in Dorchester, MA, the neighborhood taunters used to call them the "Wahlburgers". So, they grew up, became multi-kazillionaires, then opened a successful chain of burger joints with their older brother Paul. They call the chain Wahlburgers. You may also call it the last laugh. Now A&E has decided the Wahlberg clan of nine siblings, led by matriarch Alma, are entertaining enough to have their own reality show. I agree. Last last laugh. (Also, keep an eye out for the real Entourage.)
  • The Little Couple (TLC): Still my vote for the most perfect family on the planet Earth. The 2014 season of The Little Couple led Bill and Jen through the highs of adoption and the lows of Jen's battle with cancer. Your heart will melt for these two (now, four.) And, if I ever met someone who is half the man Bill Klein is, I would consider myself the luckiest woman in the world.
  • Every Simpsons Ever (FXX): FXX has found a cure for the Nothing-Is-On blues that can strike at any given time with their seemingly-endless running Every Simpsons Ever marathon.
  • Eaten Alive (Discovery): Did you miss the Discovery Channel's Eaten Alive special? The one where idiot "scientist", Paul Rosolie, volunteers to be "eaten alive" by the largest anaconda on earth, all in the name of conservation and research? Count your blessings. I sat through the two hour ordeal just for you! Read about it here.
And, Let's Talk About This: Duggars getting married left and right. Never before did long skirts and chastity make a spinster feel so... spinstery.

And, What About That: 

I Missed It! True Detective and Fargo. Come on, Netflix! Bring me up to speed already!

Can't Wait for in 2015: Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul.

ON THE WEB:

  • Listen Linda... just listen! I can't decide if little Mateo will be going into politics or sales one day. I do know that he will surely find a way to make more money (and cupcakes) than the rest of us, though. 
  • This meme.
  • These foreign Doritos with "kick".

OVER-HYPED in 2014 (and so, I refuse to add images):
  • Ice Bucket Challenge: Newsflash! You can donate money to charity without risking hypothermia.
  • Shia LeBeouf and all his self-produced drama: You're "not famous anymore". So, go away already.
  • Jaden and Willow Smith: They're so much smarter than us all now. Didn't you hear?
  • George Clooney Wedding: He's found love and is happy. Scandalous!
  • Kimye Wedding: I threw up in my mouth a little, then forgot about it.
Speaking of throwing up...
  • Bill Cosby: What is up with you?! I am in mourning for the loss of my TVland reruns. I am also mad on behalf of Cockroach, for you taking away from him the only royalties he makes these days.

I am now extremely tired and will lazily conclude with Funny Spellchecks Suggested in the Making of this Post (that, at least, were funny to me at 1:00 am): Birdman = Batman (go figure!); Stoner = stonier; Inarritu's = linearity's; Mockingjay = Mackinac; Gracepoint = grease paint;  Wahlberg = wallboard; Wahlburgers = vegeburger; Dorchester = chestier; Netflix = Norfolk; Shia = Shiva; LeBeouf = beef.

See you in 2015!


That Anaconda Don't Want None



Did you miss the Discovery Channel's Eaten Alive special? 

The one where idiot "scientist", Paul Rosolie, volunteers to be "eaten alive" by the largest anaconda on earth, all in the name of conservation and research? 

Count your blessings! I sat through the two hour ordeal just for you! 

About an hour and forty-five minutes of the program were spend traipsing through the "unexplored" regions of the floating forest along the Amazon River, while Rosolie and his crew melodramatically tried to catch a snake. All the while both daredevil and his team of scientists vowing their commitment to give their lives for this project, if need somehow be.

Once they finally found a snake they thought large enough to swallow Rosolie's big head, ego and all... the remaining fifteen minutes of the show were spent trying to get the poor thing to want to stomach the unsavory meal. 

Rosolie was suited in some sort of chainmail and Teflon getup, complete with safety scuba mask.

The "eating" portion of the program consisted of the anaconda tenderly sucking on the front of Paul's helmet and then wisely deciding it didn't like the taste of bull$h!t anymore than the rest of us do. (Trust me. You got kissed harder on prom night than what this guy experienced during his ordeal.)

The biggest joke of the special was that the "research" they were performing was to measure the psi pressure that a snake of this size would use to squash his victim. (Because, this has never been measured on a snake quite this size before! He repeatedly assures us!)

A psi sensor patch was adhered to the back of his safety suit somewhere between his shoulder blades. Hilariously, the snake squeezed him every which way but on the patch.

Even more hilariously, the man who spend 1 hr 45 min swearing to us that he would die for the experiment, tapped out once he felt his arm start to bough. 

Yes, he'd give his life for science. Just not an arm.

My unscientific brain tells me they could have slapped the patch on a wild boar, or something that the snake would have actually wanted to eat, to get their psi reading; thus saving themselves the cost of one super scuba suit, a TV production crew, and two hours of my precious time.

The most exciting portion of the show was documentary footage of an anaconda ralphing up a deer. Which you can also find plenty of footage of on YouTube.

You're welcome!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thoughts on Forty


I turn forty in exactly one week. How do I feel about it?

In a word: Depressed.

Now, don't try and cheer me up by telling me that "Life begins at 40", that "40's the new 20", or that at least I get to be a cougar now.

I'm not naive.

I know that life began at 00:01, that I didn't have these crow's feet when I was 20, and that since 40 year-old men go for 27 year-old women, so do the 27 year-old men! Duh.

No. What I get at forty is frequent heartburn, anti-aging face cream that makes me break out, to get hit on by solely the over-60 crowd (talk about an unwanted booby prize!) and nephews that are constantly asking me if I am a widow. (I think the evasive word they're reaching for is "spinster".)


I was recently reminded of an old blog post of mine on turning thirty. I was so excited to turn thirty, in small part, because I was still aging well enough to get carded at the movie theater and I wore that fact like a badge of pride.

The only time I get carded these days is when I'm buying cold medication. And, even then, it's only to check the database of known meth cookers. I'm never mistaken these days for looking 17, only for looking like a speed freak.


Well, I won't ramble on with further complaints on aging or gross you out with more facts on what happens to a woman's body at my age. I will simply conclude this post by offering the following advice.

If you happen to cross my path in the next seven days, take heed:

The wrong way to wish me a happy fortieth: If you think over-the-hill pranks are adorable, prepare to see some wrists slit. Don't worry, my life is not in danger. Yours is. If I'm handed anything with a picture of a gravestone on it, I will cut you. If you try to recite any "cute" poetry that begins with the opening line "Lordy, lordy...", I will cut you. If I receive any cards with that grumpy Shoebox lady on it, even if it's just an early Christmas card, I will paper cut you with the envelope in which it was wrapped. If a black balloon is inflated, next Tuesday, within a half-mile of my vicinity I will cut said person so fast and so deep that they'll risk death from drowning in their own pool of blood as much as from the loss of blood itself.

The right way to wish me a happy birthday this year: Nice cards that don't mention being over-the-hill or premature references to menopause. (And, I won't complain if there's cash stuffed inside of them.) Hugs. Kisses. Gentle pats on the behind. Balloons in any other color than black (see above) or pink (because I hate pink. In fact, I don't really want any balloons. I was just trying to leave the balloon option out there. In reality, what do you do with them once the day's over? Sit there and watch them deflate over the next week, as they slowly become the literal shape and texture of my 40-year old ass. Yeah. Definitely, no balloons!) Or, just a simple "Happy Birthday" with a smile will do. I will also understand a hurried mumble while averting the eyes after putting you through this post.

Or, you can just read the old blog post. It handled 37 alot better than I'm handling 40. And, then bring on the kittens!



Sunday, August 3, 2014

40 Year Old Property Virgin

An Aunt's Life has become a bit schizophrenic in its structure. So, like I did with my religious posts in walk., I've decided to also consolodate my house-hunting posts to a new blog site that I've decided to name 40 Year Old Property Virgin (and refuse to stop giggling about it!)

If you're following An Aunt's Life and want to keep up with all the juicy house-hunting scandal, be sure to click the link and follow the new page as well. I'm going to keep up with it throughout the trials of my finding a place to live. And, I'll also keep it around for any renovation, decorating or Pinterest fails that are sure to come my way once I've finally found my nest.

Also, coming soon will be another new blogsite (Maya Angelou-inspired. Huh? Just go with it...) that I'm calling From the Curl of My Lip.

I'll keep An Aunt's Life as my nostalgia, pop culture and general essay site. And, no, I still haven't come up with a better name for it after all these years! 

Oh well. Continue to visit and be sure to try the new sites if you so fancy to.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

House Hunting: Part II


My house-hunting adventure continued today with the first slew of showings with my new realtor. (New realtor = the one who actually called me back and whom has this whole fancy email thing figured out.)

House 1: This house is very near to the home we had lived in for the last 13 years and on a street that is a part of our regular evening walking route. It had a nice front porch, a quaint and easily maintainable backyard, and a friendly black kitty next door that I would be likely to catnap and call as my own (only until the neighbor woke up and realized it was missing, of course.) 

The inside of the house wasn't so much of a treat. Musty smelling, wallpaper in every bedroom (even in places where wallpaper doesn't belong. Hint: Wallpaper was designed for walls, yo) absolutely no appliances, makeshift closet rods made of leftover plumbing, and the piece de resistance... wood paneling in all of the common spaces. 

Now I realize that real wood paneling can be easily painted to look like beadboard or wainscoting. But, this home had this this flimsy thin faux wood walling that someone had, not so cleverly, cut out little hidden "doors" in. What? I know this makes no sense. But, imagine following along the wall to discover a piece of packaging tape, masking or duct tape (Believe me, the tape came in an abundance of variety.) You notice a rectangular cut-out along the wall and give the tape a tug. Like a little trap door, the thin paneling would give way to reveal either a surprise "Oh. A fuse box!" or the deception of one, "Oh, a bed of splinters!"

I think I jumped the gun, though, on the piece de resistance. This was actually the fact that we never did find the furnace. We found the water heater, the hookups for where a washer and dryer should be, the air conditioning unit outside, but never a furnace. My realtor was still looking for it along the home's perimeter when we tried to let him off the hook, "It's a 'no' to this property, so there's no need to find it." He couldn't give up the game though, "Okay. But, I still want to find it. It's got to be here somewhere!"

Condo 1: The only condo we toured today was located in a dream location. Right in the downtown area of my own hometown, but in a complex I'd hadn't considered due to its extremely cramped parking situation. 

There was a subletter who hadn't vacated the premises prior to our arrival, but who was kind enough to shirtlessly take to the bedroom to iron his laundry while we had a look around. (He wasn't so kind, however, as to turn off the internet porn he'd left up on the screen of his laptop on the dining room table. But, if you ask my mom, "I thought he was just studying to be a doctor." I'll let you folks decide for yourselves.)

It was a one bedroom unit (I had been looking for two) but the one room was ample enough in size and closet space to make up for it. The layout was well appointed and the picture window in the living room had a lovely view of the courtyard space below.

The downside? The parking, as mentioned before. At least one nosy elderly neighbor who was not at all shy about hanging out in the hallway and gawking at us a we toured the rest of the building. And, worst of all, horror upon horror, NO CATS ALLOWED! Come on, people! I'm turning 40. I'm unmarried. I've earned at least one cat in life!

It remains on the maybe list.

House 2: We actually started out this afternoon in the property that I'd referred to in my last post as the home in the meth-y neighborhood. But, for the purpose of good writing and suspense, I decided to save the "best" for last.

I'd recently re-nicknamed this one the "rapey woods" home because there's a wooded ravine behind the property. This intrigued me with the thought of wildlife but, instead, alarmed some in the family with its imminent threat of rapey danger. (Upon further research, I also learned that there is a registered sex offender living, ummmmmm, as the closest neighbor to the right!) But, it's newly renovated and miraculously in my price range. Let's take a look!

The yard was beautiful, fenced in, and the woods dropped off almost immediately into the Rouge River; giving any rapist worth his salt a great challenge to attack me from the property's rear. But, that's where the fun ended. 

Upon opening the front door we were immediately hit with the strong scent of mold. Then, when taking a first glance around, I realized that "newly renovated" was really the listing agent's code that they had newly acquired skills in the the art of Photoshop.

The gorgeous original hardwood floors pictured online, in reality, had the smoothness and consistency of a highway rumble strip. Their appearance, in person, gave the impression that a former owner at one time had strapped two pairs of ice skates on the family dog, let go, and said, "Let's just see what happens."

Now, I am not a flooring snob! I am fine with carpet. I am fine with tile. I am fine with laminate "hardwood". It's just that when sinking my savings into a home, it would simply be nice to walk across my own living room without the fear of splinters and sea-sickness.

I am also not an appliance snob. But, let's just say that the stainless steel refrigerator's freezer had a stain in it which could have possibly been left behind from a severed head. Moving out of the kitchen...

The bedrooms were okay, but with the really weird closets of a house built in the 1920's. (By the way, this house was built in the 1920's.)  The bathroom was standard. The smell of mold was STRONG throughout the entire upstairs and had already cemented a "no" vote in my mind. But, since we're here, why not check out the basement?  What harm could come from checking out the basement?

Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp... down the stairs we go. Looking up, yes, there is obvious water damage to this home. And, the copper plumbing did not have one inch that wasn't covered in rust.

It's still a "no" vote, but I possess a curious mind. Let's open the washer and dryer. Well, I think that severed head may have also taken a run through these.

Turn around. Ooh, a pet spider.

Turn around again. Ooh, a mysterious room that was probably used for storing beets and raw potatoes back in the day.

What's behind this door? 

The best I can describe what was behind this door is, if you've ever watched season one of Bate's Motel, it's the room where the kidnapped Asian sex slave was being held in Officer Shelby's basement. 


There could be no other explanation for this room other than to hold a kidnap victim hostage. 

Then when you walk into the room, there's another door that leads to another hostage room. The first room even had a wire for cable TV hanging down from the ceiling. Presumably, this was the "good hostage" room that you're allowed to watch TV in. When you're a "bad hostage" you get led through the labyrinth to the bad hostage room.

What house needs TWO hostage rooms in the basement?! (Maybe even three, if the room by the basement steps isn't really for storing beets!) These rooms also had excessive water damage to the point where the floor was coming apart. Presumably due to water torture or the rinsing of the severed head. 

I had squealed in horror when I opened the second hidden room's door. My realtor scurried over to ask me what I think. I said, "Well, if I ever decide to take up serial killing, I've found a place to stow the bodies." He laughed and actually agreed. Therefore, he is still my realtor.

There's a sex offender next door, two to three torture rooms in the basement and the likelihood that a severed head has frequented every appliance in the joint. This home is also not for me. NO LIST!

I realize that living by myself might eventually become lonely, but I'll take loneliness over being visited by the souls of those who passed here any day!

We're going back to the drawing board and praying for new listings this week. Home shopping on a tight budget may not be easy, but it is certainly entertaining!

Now if you'll excuse me, I had to go wash the mold spores out of my sinuses. They're giving me a headache.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rite of Passage


This year-of-turning-forty is not without its rites of passage.

The latest, being my very own breast cancer scare.

[Usher me past the velvet ropes of womanhood.]

Probably half of the women I know that are my age or older have had at least one lump, bump, cyst or funky mammogram result that sent them into that multi-day tailspin until... dah dah dummm... RESULTS.

Yesterday, during a routine physical, my doctor felt something.

Now, my doctor is a chatterbox and what she felt caused a reaction I'd never seen in her. She stopped talking. Mid-sentence even! We went immediately from sharing our lack of plans for the holiday to her shoving my left boob in the same spot repeatedly while her chatty smile turned into an instant look of dread.

I didn't immediately catch on to the severity of the issue, so when I tried to continue the conversation, she finally blurted out that I have a lump.

I was stunned.

I had came in for a routine physical. I went from the high of being told we could skip the pelvic exam this year due to my previous year's shining results. We'd already covered the state of my family history, my GERD, my bum knee and I received new praise for upping my exercise routine this year.

All that was left was the easy part. Lay back, don't make eye contact and have a breezy conversation while my doctor feels me up.

She ended up taking my own hand and shoving it into my left side-boob, as if to wake me up to the fact that we were no longer talking about barbecuing on the Fourth of July. "Do you feel that?" she asked me. "Oh... yeah.. kinda," I lied. "I'm sending you for an ultrasound."

Her easiest appointment of the day suddenly turned into hushed conversations with the nurse as they scribbled in my file and crazily hurried together paperwork to get me into the lab as quickly as possible, while the nurse kept turning around to assure me how pretty I looked that day. (Ah, the sisterhood of women. Always able to deflect panic with a compliment, God bless us.)

The soonest the lab could take me for an ultrasound was to be this afternoon. All I had to do was stave off my imagination for one shortened workday before I could have answers and feel some relief.

Well, an office worker from lab called me first thing this morning with some news that she was obviously hesitant to share. The ultrasound tech had called in sick. I blurted out an, "OH NO!" Which she echoed in sympathy, "Oh no is right..."

She then tip-toed through the rest of the conversation. I could practically sense her cringing on the other end, as if I had the power to reach through the phone line and choke her out. "I understand it's not your fault," I assured her, "but when is the soonest you can get me in? I don't care what day, how early, how late..." I found a moment to sympathize with her for being the messenger and promised myself that I would not bark at her in the manner that today's other patients must have verbally manhandled her with.

Next week. Thursday. Stupid "sick" lab tech. Stupid holiday.

My six hour wait for peace in a moment's notice had multiplied into a one-week-plus-one-day one.

Boy is my imagination is going to be testing me!

I realize this isn't usually the stage in which you share this kind of medical news. In fact, I wasn't going to share any of this publicly until I had happy results that I could turn into a hilarious blog post, typed with fingers that had been bathed in utter relief.

But, then I figured that God doesn't test us so we can keep secrets about it. 

Maybe not all women will experience cancer. The unfortunate ones don't have a choice. The brave of those ones build up the courage to share their journeys.

But,  there's also the rest of womankind. The "at least half of the ones I know" that can relate to the waiting. Good news, bad news, just hoping for the all clear. Most of them won't even end up being sick and needing treatment... but, oh, the crazy places your mind will go when you're caught up in the day-long and night-long distraction of not knowing yet.

Why should we be ashamed to talk about it? It's one of the neediest times to open up our mouths and vent.

So, for your entertainment (and maybe to pass Phase One of my "test") here is an overshare of some random thoughts that have passed through my scattered brain these last two days:

  • Geesh, the first year I didn't bother with a self exam!
  • I thought only big breasts got lumps.
  • Why'd I go and pick the cheaper insurance plan at work?
  • I'm house-hunting! I can't afford cancer right now!
  • After the lab lady asked me if the lump hurts, I answered "no." After I obsessively poke myself in the breast all evening, "Ow! It hurts so bad!"
  • Lumpectomy or mastectomy?
  • With a mastectomy I could inherit an insurance-paid-for perfectly-shaped pair.
  • Why does the medically bad boob have to be the physically cuter one?
  • Should I start giving out free second-baseys so my real breasts can have one last thrill before they're severed and tossed in the garbage.
  • Do they put the amputated breasts in the garbage can?!
  • Should I photograph them before they're gone?
  • Why do I immediately think I will be breastless in the near future?
  • I'm sorry to my boobs, for always calling you small. You are not inadequate in any way, shape or form.
  • This really isn't helping my mid-life crisis.
  • Is someone going to make me do a three-day walk now? I really don't think I want to walk that far.
  • Do I have to start wearing pink? I hate pink!
  • I can't believe I was tempted to cancel my annual physical.
  • Don't ever cancel your annual physical.
  • I love my doctor.
  • Why now?
  • Why me?
  • Am I dreaming?
  • Should I really blog all this?
Well, too late now. I just did.

I'd love to end this post with "IT WAS JUST A CYST!", but I jumped the gun on this news and now we'll all just have to wait on the test and its results together. (Don't you love how I tangled you into my anxiety web?)

You don't have to act weird if you see me in real life. I'll accept all encouraging hugs. I welcome your own stories if you never had a chance to vent your own scare. I'll even understand if you avoid me altogether because this news made things awkward and you'd rather pretend you never read this. Fine, you never read this. You know nothing about my boobs. I can play along! When I'm in an awkward moment I overshare. I can definitely feel for those who don't.

Of course, I'm accepting all offered prayers. But, I'm not quite ready for unsolicited advice, so don't go there yet. 

And, please, don't bother my family with questions they don't have answers to. I told you everything I know so far and they're alot more private than I am. (Do you really think the men in my family want to acknowledge the existence of my breasts?) If you must talk about it, bring it to me only. 

My doctor tried very hard to convince me that I should think this is just a cyst. (But, she also whispered too much with the nurse in a panicked fury too closely to the exam room door...) I'm choosing to be encouraged by her hopeful prognosis. And, in my heart-of-hearts, I know she's probably right. She is the expert, after all.

Worst case scenario: I'm dying. But, aren't we all dying of something?
Bad case scenario: It's something and I'll need treatment. But, treatment exists. Praise the Lord!
Best case (and most likely) scenario: My doctor's hope was right and the worst that happened was that I entertained you all with my honest paranoia. 
Most bizarre of the benign scenarios: God just gave my breasts speed-bumps to deter fast men.

Don't skip your self exam this year. And be sure to make that yearly appointment!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Game Shows I Would Dominate

I impressed my family recently by answering three consecutive questions correctly during an episode of Jeopardy.

The category was some fluff along the lines of "80's Pop Music". But, since my "Who is Bono?" had impressed the elderly so much, it got my confidence up enough to cause me to wonder what other game shows I could totally dominate.


Wheel of Fortune: Can you spell? Can you spell 1-3 words in a row at one time? Well, I can. I think I could do pretty well for myself playing 30 minutes on the Wheel. I should still have enough upper body strength to spin the wheel at least one full rotation. I can clap and whoop "C'mon big money!" with the best of them. And, I already have my three consonants and one vowel picked out for the final round. It's like they're making this too easy for me.


Family Feud: Families shouldn't feud. But, if they so choose to, it should be televised in syndication. All you have to do is force yourself to think like a hundred random peers. (You think this would be easy, but the show has proven that theory wrong.) My slapping skills are superior, so the buzzer wouldn't phase me. My only obstacle would be playing the pervy modern version of the show. I'm not sure the mind of 100 random perverts is a place I want to dally near. Revive Richard Dawson for one episode and I'm sold. (Even though I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of him trying to wrestle a kiss out of me overtop of the microphone.)


The Mole: Although, there's a little too much timed running around involved, I still think I could have won The Mole. They had to go and take it off the air, though, before I had the chance to prove myself! I always figured I could walk slowly, feigning side cramps, during the running competitions (although, I probably wouldn't need to feign...) thus causing my competitors to think I was The Mole sabotaging that round, therefore eliminating themselves during the end of show quiz. (Never heard of the show, so none of this makes sense to you? Well, click here, I'm too busy bragging about my game plan to explain things right now.) My ultimate fantasy was to be chosen to be the saboteur, yes The Mole. I'm an excellent prankster, but more importantly the show's mole gets to have secret meetings in their hotel room with the show's producers and its host, the fairest of them all, Mr. Anderson Cooper. My not-so-secret crush and ultimate boo. The mole is committed to sticking it through all 13 episodes, running and all. No quitting, no taking a suitcase of bribe money and walking away; but you can cry like a baby, so we're good. The very thought of traveling around Europe, creating mystery and intrigue with my Silver Fox.. Late night pow-wows about the strategies of the next episode... "Can we cuddle while we discuss this? It's late and oh so exhausting creating sabotage..." Ba-da-bing, ba-da-bang, white-haired babies on board. (Yes. I am totally aware. Just leave me in this place for one moment.)


Plinko: I would not do very well on The Price is Right, seeing that I've rarely paid full retail price on a thing in my life. But, I've always been drawn to the Plinko round. Any episode that didn't feature a Plinko session was simply a wasted hour of my life that I would never be able to retrieve. I will even admit that for many years, I thought the game was called Plunko. Well, those little discs plunk more than they plink, yes? Let's just be real about it.


Jeopardy: You understand that we're talking Kid's Week, right? 


Hollywood Game Night: NBC's newest game show is currently the only one I bother watching. Pop culture knowledge? Check. Obnoxious miming of song lyrics? Easy peasy. More buzzer slapping? Um, yeah, I've got that covered. Pretending that people like Wayne Brady, Kristin Chenoweth and the guy from Chuck are just your normal, every day, weekend party guests? Why not!

Just hand over a bag of money now. I've got this. (No really, give me some money. I could really use it at the moment.)

House Hunting is a Load of Crap


Let me start off by saying this: HGTV is a network of liars.

House hunting is not as fun as reality TV would have you think. There's no half-million dollar budget, dry-witted realtor, miles of granite countertop, hickory flooring, river rock showers, nor a film crew to capture all the amusing hijinks. (And, those Property Brothers won't even give me the time of day!)

No. In reality, hickory floors are not in your price-point, your realtor never bothered calling back (probably after scoffing at the tiny commission your purchase would generate), and all highjinks so far involved are sad and not anywhere near worth documenting for posterity.

House hunting it stressful.  House hunting is bad for your self-esteem. And, it basically just makes you have to go to the bathroom in more repetition than you are normally used to.

As my regular readers and friends all know; YES! I currently live with my parents. 

Roomies since day one. Now, with bigger jammies and a newer paci.
But, what you may not know is that home ownership was the last remaining unticked bulletpoint on my "Before I Turn 40" bucket list. (Last bulletpoint! I am SO dang close!)

What you also may not know is that this year-of-the-big-4-0 happens to coincide with my parents sudden urge to downsize, once again, and become snowbirds. 

What you really don't know (unless you see me everyday, then you already know too much and will probably want to toggle back to Facebook at this point...) is that our current home sold in under four days and we all need to vacate the premises in less than five weeks having absolutely no place to go.

House hunting has moved into super-stress mode! 

[Pause writing for additional bathroom break]


I'd considered breaking a promise on the lease agreement for my storage unit, by sleeping there for a few nights/weeks/months, if need be. (I've kept enough promises in 39 years, I should be allowed a freebie at this point, right?)

But, the mad packing dash has changed the comfort level of my storage unit from this (above) to that (below).


(Although, I'm training myself to fall asleep in this posture as a backup plan.)


One of my other pre-40 bulletpoints that I did manage to pull off thus far was to "not get married".  No shit. That was an actual goal of my thirties. (As if I were having diamond rings thrown at me from every direction. "Stop trying to marry me handsome, intelligent, hilarious men! I'm not that kind of girl!")

The real reason for that "goal" was that I actually wanted to take that decade to explore my independence and straighten out some heavy financial, spiritual and familial stuff.  Made sense at the time, but was not at all considering the fact that had I only left that one goal off the list, I could now have a housing budget that was double in size (making that river rock shower a total possibility.)*

I can't blame God. We all know that He carves a much wiser path for our lives than we ever could. But, I will blame Destiny's Child in small part. "♫ The car I'm driving, I bought it! The house I live in, where is it?! ♫" Why'd you get us all worked up, ladies? This crap is hard!

Here's the state of my housing options as of this week's realty listings:
  • The pre-forclosed condo that's in my dream neighborhood, but has been bank-owned for over nine months and is not yet listed for sale. (I'm waiting on the aforementioned realtor to look into the bidding possibilities and get back with me.) The comps for the neighborhood were raised with a recent sale this past week, which has caused the prices in the neighborhood to be suddenly driven up, which has only aggravated my stress-belly further. [Insert additional bathroom trip.]
  • The okay-priced home that is, not only two lots down from the local sex shop, but also about 100 yards from where I saw a wino passed out in the grass with his paper bag last summer. (I wish I were exaggerating!)
  • The newly refinished home that lies just across the city border. Priced a bit higher than what I have to put down and in a neighborhood where I've spotted at least three places where I could likely procure crystal meth. (If you are confused, that last point is a negative. I do not have any need for meth and am not likely to in the coming years.)

Sigh.

Well, if we can't classify it as being fun, what is a successful house-hunting experience? 

I guess it's just one where you eventually end up with a place to live in. After you've pooped. A whole lot.



*If you're still trying to do the math, yes, that means I haven't dated in this century. We've already discussed this once. Quit judging and move on!