A Rocktober to Remember

by Jason Tudor

Rocktober looms just one day from the posting of this column. For those not familiar, those 31 days are the time that every radio station that programs classic rock or something like it changes the name of 'October' to 'Rocktober." I know. Clever as a cavity.

Live in any large city long enough and one endures 'Rocktober' over and over and over again. "It's Rocktober the Fourth, so let's get a little Zeppelin Four going!"

One particular Rocktober, my "Science Fiction Show" co-host Michael Wistock and I were trying to figure out the name of the band that played a particular song. We knew it was from the early 1960s or 1970s. We knew the melody and could sing a few bars. We dug it and each time we heard it, we dug it more. So, we figured, "Let's call our local station and get the answer."

Two rock stations lined the dials of San Diego radio for rock. The first, 101 KGB-FM, did not answer the phone (granted, we were hailing them at about 2:30 in the morning). The second station, KPRI, did answer. However, imagine our surprise as we discovered that one of the two purveyors of 'Rocktober' had turned into an EASY LISTENING RADIO STATION.

No matter. We recognized the personality who answered.

"Hey," I said. "Who sang this tune?" I belt out a few bars that include the words "dykes and fairies."

No dice. Mike chimed in with his rendition (which he probably still breaks out for his intense Petaluma Saturday night "Guitar Hero" sessions).


We naively believed Mister Overnight Guy would be able to help us. Sadly, despite both my friend and I doing our best American Idol audition, he knew nothing. Before hanging up, we requested an Iron Maiden tune, forgetting that the next tune from that station would probably be Seals and Crofts "Summer Breeze" or something from Bread.

As it turned out, we got our answer from a radio station in Los Angeles. Rocktober lived on, and looms for you tomorrow. Bob Seger, Boston, Peter Frampton, Aerosmith, and all the love you can cram into an elevator will be yours from Rocktober First to that Rocktober Halloween to remember. Party on!

The song, by the way, is "I'd Love to Change the World," by Ten Years After. Enjoy.

Jason Tudor is the creator and co-host of "The Science Fiction Show," which airs
weekly. He is also a writer and illustrator. You can find more of his work at


They Call it Puppy Love

by Patti Wigington

Two years ago, we lost our beloved golden Labrador, Tanner, to cancer, leaving us with a single dog, our goofy Retriever mix, Brisco. After Tanner died, Brisco helped fill that dog-shaped hole in our hearts. Then we noticed he was getting kind of lazy. A three-year-old dog probably should be doing dog things – chasing the cats, digging holes in my herb garden, hunting for cheese -- not napping all day. So we figured it was time to be a two-dog house again – we were ready for a second canine companion, and clearly, so was Brisco.

Fast forward to a sunny summer morning at the local Farmer’s Market. The county Humane Society had a display table up – along with two adorable puppies. The pups couldn’t be adopted then and there, but that didn’t matter. The old bait-n-switch had worked, and the next Monday I dragged my husband with me to the animal shelter.

Just to look.

And when we got there just to look, we learned that someone had dropped off a female Blue Tick Coonhound mix and her litter of ten puppies – two of whom had lured me in at the Farmer’s Market. TEN. That’s a lot of puppies. At two and a half months old, they leaped around their kennel, yipping and rolling their plump puppy bellies, scrambling on top of one another, each hoping to be Top Dog.

Nine of them looked like black Labs, but the tenth – and bounciest – looked like a hound dog. With long floppy ears, and big brown paws, he made it clear that we needed to pay more attention to him than anyone else. And we did, and I fell head over heels in love. Two days later, once our adoption paperwork was processed, Bandit came home to be our newest family member.

Brisco welcomed him, and the two of them play non-stop – this is the most exercise Brisco has gotten in ages, and it’s good for him. Bandit is busy learning that we poop OUTSIDE, and that “treat” is a magic word, and that cats are not his friends (at least not yet). We humans are relearning how awesome it is to have two dogs in the house again.

In the three weeks we’ve had him, Bandit has nearly doubled his weight. He’s had his first trip to the emergency room, thanks to a lacerated paw that won him a few stitches, and he’s discovered that tomatoes can be eaten straight from the garden. He’s shredded a Samsung charger cord, and thinks socks are the best toy ever, except for crickets. It’s like opening up your home to a wayward toddler – only there’s less laundry and more fur.

Bandit’s going to be a good dog. He’s learning from Brisco, who is a REALLY good dog, and he’s smart. But more importantly, he’s full of love and silliness and fun, and the boundless joyful energy that one only finds in puppies and kindergarteners. I’ve never had a dog this young, and had no idea what fun it could be.

I’m even willing to sacrifice a few more socks and charger cords in the name of love.


Shouting Food

by Jeanette Levellie

           Red potato salad with green onions shouted at me a few days ago, demanding I ask my husband to make a batch. I was quick to obey. Since Kevin has perfected this recipe to an art form, he was eager to assist me in indulging the food voices.

            Don’t pretend you don’t hear them, too. When you are reading in bed at night, the chips you hid from your kids holler to you from the sock drawer.  You make sure no lights are oozing from under closed bedroom doors before you slip the drawer open and ease the bag out.  You even place each chip on your tongue lightly, allowing it to soak in before biting down. You can’t risk waking anyone with loud crunching.  Those chips are yours, all yours.

            And we’re all familiar with singing ice cream, chattering cookies, hollering pizza, and humming donuts.  They sneak up behind us as we drive to work, write emails, and watch TV.  No activity is sacred to these tormenting treats.

            Right before we went to sleep last night, one accosted me. “I wish we had some dark chocolate truffles,” I said to Kev.

            “Sorry, hon.  We have Girl Scout Cookies in the pantry. Do you want me to get you some?”

            I sighed.  “No; thanks anyway.  I’ve had enough sweets today. I just wanted to entertain my tongue.  I need to say “no” more often to screaming food.”

            “Good for you, Jeanette. The Apostle Paul would be proud of you for keeping your body under control.  G’nite.”

            “Wait,” I said as I flipped my bedside lamp back on. “I didn’t say I was cutting out snacks forever; only that I’d had enough sweets for one day. Can you please get me a bowl of that red potato salad?”   

“Nutty with a dash of meat” best describes Jeanette Levellie’s speaking, writing and life. She has published hundreds of humor/inspirational columns, articles, greeting cards, and poems. A spunky pastor’s wife, Jeanette is the mother of two, grandmother of three, and waitress to four cats. Find her mirthful musings at www.jeanettelevellie.com.


The Wishing Balloon

by Pauline Campos

I am the oldest of five and the mother of one. For those of you not familiar with the Number of Siblings to Children Ratio Theory, it basically means that everything I couldn’t have as a kid (because my father would have had to buy or do the same for each sister after me) I do for Buttercup. Pre-school is a perfect example, so I wanted to commemorate the event with a little gift.

I bought a balloon that said, “You are so special to me!” And I presented it to her in class.

Buttercup smiled and tightly held on to the balloon as we walked to the minivan. I tried getting her to tell me about her day, but she kept saying she had to make a wish. I honestly had no idea what she was talking about.

It wasn’t until we got to my van that Buttercup looked up, let go, and wished on her balloon.

As it floated into the clouds, I vaguely remembered her cousin coming to visit. We had gone to a grocery store where they give the kids a free balloon in the checkout and Buttercup lost hers on the way to the car. To calm her down, my nephew told her not to be sad because you could make a wish on a balloon. So she did. And she remembered.

“What did you wish for, baby?” I asked as the heart-shaped balloon floated out of view.

She turned to me and smiled.
“I wished for happiness, Mama.”


The Date

by Jennifer Caddell

(Sung to the tune of ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’)

Says the dressed-up mom in her husband’s ear,
“Do you hear what I hear?”
There is silence while her husband drinks his beer.
“Do you hear what I hear?”
The calm,
The calm,
Before the food arrives,
Just a quiet date with her favorite guy,
Just a quiet date with her favorite guy…

Says the dad in his darling wifey’s ear.
“Do you see what I see?”
He is whispering to his lovely dear.
“Do you see what I see?”
No looks,
No looks,
From the patrons near,
No glaring eyes or trembling looks of fear,
No glaring eyes or trembling looks of fear…

Says the waiter to the mother and the dad,
“Do you know what I know?”
He’s a handsome and dashing younger lad,
“Do you know what I know?”
“The menu,
The menu
It has no mac and cheese,
There are no jelly smudges on its sleeves
There are no jelly smudges on its sleeves…”

Say all parents to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!”
Toasting their glasses everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!
A date,
A date.
We’re finally on a date,
No one’s arguing for the fondue plate,
No one’s arguing for the fondue plate…

Jennifer L. Caddell is a published science fiction short story writer. She is currently writing her first book in a space trilogy. Jennifer lives in the wet and wonderful Pacific Northwest with her superhero husband, stellar children, and two spacey chickens. You can visit her site at http://jcaddell.wordpress.com



by Adam Slade

It turns out I can cook. It came as quite the shock, I can tell you.

The jaw-dropping discovery was aided by my darling wife, who will be named Sweetie for the entire article (because she is one). Y’see, Sweetie is an author, like me, as well as a nurse, and if I was to say to her, “What’s for dinner?” after she’d just got back from a twelve-hour shift she’d rightly feed me my own kneecaps.

So, after asking her a few probing questions about how the hell certain ingredients became edible, I decided I’d prove to myself that I was more than a Ramen eating water-burner, and prepare something for when she got back from work the next day. Something that didn’t come in one easily microwaveable package.

The next day came early. Too bloomin’ early, in fact, as Sweetie gets up at five in the morning on day shifts. I waved her off, then headed to the kitchen to begin my epic voyage of self-discovery/mutilation. I shall recount it in the form of a recipe. Be sure to follow the instructions to the letter:

1.    Remove pork joint from freezer early enough that, by the time of preparation, it is defrosted on the outside while still rock solid on the inside. Try not to drop on the cat’s head.

2.    Fill pot with about half an inch of water. That’s somewhere between ‘a smidgen’ and ‘yay much’, depending on the pot’s size.

3.    Place pork into pot, add onion.

4.    Remove onion, take off outer skin, dice, place back in pot and cover with lid.

5.    Realize you forgot to preheat the oven, but throw the pot in anyway. Cook at 350 degrees because that’s what the default setting is and you can’t remember how to change it. That’s probably Fahrenheit.

6.    Check on the pan after one hour and realize that the butcher tied string around the joint for some reason. Remove string with blunt knife while burning all ten fingers and screaming insults to the god of livestock.

7.    Check the meat every twenty minutes for the next two hours because you’re paranoid that it’ll burn and Sweetie will divorce you for being a terrible chef. In the gaps, soak throbbing fingers in ice water.

8.    After three hours cooking time has elapsed, take six reasonably-sized potatoes and peel skins. Aim for 80% potato skin, 20% human.

9.    Dice potatoes and throw in a pan of water. Once water is boiled, allow it to splash onto the stovetop, then turn down to medium heat. Remember the carrots shortly after and throw them on top of the potatoes. Sweetie likes ‘em a bit crunchy anyway, right?

10.  After five minutes panic because the meat is done but you haven’t finished the potatoes. Turn oven off and add water to top of meat to stop it solidifying.

11.  Drain potatoes, remove carrots, mash potatoes (add a little milk and margarine/butter, then squash them till your forearm cramps).

12.  Remove meat from pot, put on plates with the oniony watery stuff that it was cooking in. Dollop mash and carrots on the side.

13.  Serve, all the while apologizing in case it’s awful.

To my great surprise, the meal turned out edible. In fact it was lovely. The meat fell apart beautifully, and the mashed potato was as creamy as... uh, a very creamy thing on its creamiest day.

Next week? Fromage de tete de porc, avec asperges a la vinaigrette.

I’ll keep the ambulance on standby.

The result of a caveman breeding with an ingot of un-distilled sarcasm, Adam Slade was always going to go places. Some days he even makes it as far as the kitchen. Adam is an author of fantasy and humour works, and when he’s not writing, he’s reading or goofing off on the internet. You can read about his exploits on his blog, Editing Hat, and on his Twitter.


Bathroom Secrets, Songs and Rituals

by Kathy Tirrell

After a brief delay, thanks to Hurricane Irene, my 20-year-old son has begun his senior year of college. He lives at home, along with his older sister and brother. Now, instead of sleeping half the day, at least 2 out of 3 will be waking up earlier each morning.

That means my household is back to“Flurry Mode”in the mornings.  Yes, it starts up again--everybody making a mad dash for the bathroom as soon as they arise. Thankfully we have two of them (bathrooms, that is), just about a necessity in a house filled with five grown-ups.

But even with two bathrooms, you'll still hear the occasional,“I NEED to get in there!”

Makes me think back to my youth, growing up in a house with six people (two parents and four children) and, God help them, only ONE bathroom!

My dad always got up first so he could get in there and shave and groom himself before heading off to work.  Let's face it, the poor guy pretty much had to be the first one up, sharing living quarters with five females. Five females!

We all know girls need to do a lot of primping in the bathroom. There are legs and armpits to shave, faces to scrub and moisturize, stray face hairs to pluck, pimples to conceal, and teeth to polish, not to mention shower rituals that include shampooing, rinsing, and conditioning. So sometimes we had to double up performing our beauty routines.

My sister Rose lathered up behind the shower curtain with me stationed at the sink shaving my armpits.  Why I even came up with a catchy little song to sing while doing so: “I've got those hairy underarm, hairy underarm blues, duh duh duh duh-- da.”

Trust me, it was catchy.  You'd have to hear the melody that went with it to truly appreciate it.

But beyond sharing space, Rose and I used to chitchat, spilling secrets while we groomed.  I probably learned a whole lot more about her personal life than I needed to know. She was the youngest in the family, yet somehow much more experienced than her older sister.

She was also quite blunt when it came to her opinions.  One time I recall criticizing some of her sexual antics, to which she replied,“Well, at least I have a boyfriend.”

Ouch! Way to stick it to your older sister.

Fast forward to 2011.  Some things are different and some remain the same.  My husband, the man of the house, gets up first to shower and shave, same as my dad did years ago.  My two sons struggle to pry the bathroom away from their “gotta primp” sister and mom.

But of course, unlike the old days, nobody's sharing any secrets with Mom.

Kathy Tirrell is a wife, mother, reporter and freelance writer, not necessarily in that order.  Visit her at It Bloggles the Mind, to read some of her other thoughts on what goes on in this crazy world.


Welcome to the Building

Living in our Washington, DC apartment building for the past six years, my husband and I have discovered that it is extremely easy to evade the Office of Tax and Revenue.  Simply move away and let the Office of Tax and Revenue continue to send their bi-weekly notices, probably notices of Very Bad Things or Big Bucks Owed, to your old apartment for the new tenants to find.  Every other week or so, we (the lucky new tenants) receive a letter for Marissa Martinez, diligently write in “Not at this address,” and pop it in the outgoing mail slot.  After six years of this game, it is clear that the Office of Very Bad Things / Big Bucks Owed is either extremely patient or willfully ignorant.

Today I found one such piece of mail addressed to Not Us, and was about to grab a pen when I realized that it wasn’t addressed to our friend Ms. Martinez, but to someone I know from work.  Whaaa?

I could not get my head around it for a few minutes.  “But that’s our address.  But her name.  But that’s our address.”  The most logical explanation I could come up with at first was that this had to have been a work-related mail error.  This would mean that my employer, for some reason, had begun issuing bills on behalf of the electric company, but it seemed temporarily plausible.  I tracked down my co-worker and found out that she had, in fact, moved into our building, onto our very floor.  With an apartment number only one digit different from ours.  

“Oh cool!” she said.  “You can introduce me to some people in the building--I haven’t met anyone yet.” 

Oh sure…except that a) we know hardly anyone in the building, b) we don’t know the actual names of the people we do “know,” and c) the names we have given them are Crazy Lady and Drunk Guy.  So not likely we’re going to set her up with any fast friends.

While this connection doesn’t mean my co-worker gets an entree into a new set of fifth floor best buddies, it does mean that I have to rethink my concept of what is acceptable to wear when leaving the apartment. Gone are the days of taking out the trash or fetching Marissa Martinez’s mail in my pajamas.  I mean, if I step out in some terrible Polarfleece ensemble, without having showered yet, to dash down the hall, it’s OK if strangers catch a glimpse.  But to potentially run into someone I know is a whole different story.

And I’m not talking about some kind of normal pajamas that I’m claiming are ‘terrible.’  I mean that I once had a lady on the elevator down to the laundry room say to me, “Girl—you got on the outfit from hell!”  And she was right.  There was extreme rainbow plaid paired with traffic-cone orange, accented with blue and purple striped fuzzy socks crammed into the too-small black dress shoes that were closest to the door.

But on the plus side, that’s a third building resident I know.  For those of you keeping track, that brings the neighbor gang to: Crazy Lady, Drunk Guy, and also Outfit from Hell Lady.  It’s a very unimaginative, observational naming system, but I can totally fill this co-worker in on all the key players at 1480 Yarmouth Street NW.  And I’ll also tell her to start expecting letters from the Office of Tax and Revenue any day now.

Image credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_2sYXHRFeJNk/SJEdJyJBooI/AAAAAAAADbM/9nTIwS_LiKI/s400/Mailboxes.jpg

I married Peter Pan

by Stacey Graham

Behind every great father is a mother shaking her head wondering where he put the remote.
- s.graham

As Father’s Day approaches and my five daughters are busy gluing sparkly bits to paper in the shape of his head, I realize that I gave birth to my husband’s playgroup rather than his children. Surrounded by elastic hair bands and High School Musical posters, he has entered a land that most men shuffle nervously out of or break into a cold sweat. He takes everything in stride. Every princess tea party, all fairy wands stuck in his underwear drawer for safekeeping, even the pearly pink lip gloss our nine year old daughter slips into his pocket before he goes to work – just in case he needs it. He is the thorn among our roses and he revels in it. I had no idea, however, he was grooming them to take over the world until I saw how he was teaching them to deal with boys. “Tell them they’re great – then eat all of their tater tots and smile. You’ll get away with it every time.” I’m happy to see that my subtle influence wasn’t lost on him after all.

There are certain aspects in his role as father to our Devil’s Brood that I’ve noticed as a running theme in our family:
  • Butts are funny. I discovered this not on my own but as an outsider to the jokes my husband has with our daughters. Who knew that a crack would inspire so many to giggle outrageously when flashed peeking from a diaper or worse yet an interrupted moment in the bathroom. His skill at tooting the alphabet has endeared himself to the neighborhood children but I fear we’ll have to move once the girls hit the teenage years and they’re known as the Farting Five. Once, when our third daughter was nearly four-years-old, she was helping me give her father a backrub. I sat on his bottom and rubbed his back, gently cracking his spine and easing the tension from his muscles. Wynter lovingly joined me by sitting on the back of his head, concentrating on helping rub his shoulders so intently that she didn’t notice when she farted directly in his ear and trapped him there by her babyish bulk. He no longer asks for backrubs.

  • When did tickling become a contact sport? It will start out innocently enough with one of the girls sitting next to him on the couch reading when he is overcome with the crazy desire to separate the child’s skin from their bones with a frenzy of fingers. Her anguished (?) cries bring in the troops and he is soon covered in little girls all screaming for him to let their sister go or ELSE! He can never let a challenge go unmatched and dives for the nearest body part to torture with the Claw of Doom, his hand outstretched and reaching for armpits to tickle. Drowning in a sea of pink dresses, he gasps for air as they pound him with tiny fists and poke fingers in his ears and up his nose. One by one they fall to the floor only to climb on him again and yell their fierce battle cry, “Set my sister FREEEEE!”

  • Not being an overly athletic person myself, I’m shocked to discover my girls are jocks. They must get it from their father who had hidden talents; it certainly never appeared while dating otherwise the whole “I have a boo boo from basketball” episode wouldn’t have occurred. My husband decided to coach our eldest daughter’s Middle School volleyball team this fall. He did the fatherly thing and picked all of her friends from the lineup at tryouts instead of choosing those who could actually tell volleyball from a Volkswagen. Each practice, he would patiently work with the girls as they hurled balls at each other, chatted about braces and how to get away with gummy worms and showed them that kneepads belonged on their legs and not as bra-stuffers. At every game, he’d start them off with the team yell, “Vol-ley-Girls! Vol-ley-Girls!! Volley-ohwhatever…” though he’d be the only person loud enough to hear because they’d have already walked off. He ended the season coming in a rousing 13th and vowed that next year, if they won the championship he’d wear the kneepads where God intended them – front and center.

Somewhere between the delivery room and bringing home their first child, men go through the strangest change. They become more than what they left for the hospital with. In that brief time, they choose to become the men their wives already knew existed and their fate is sealed with the baby’s first breath. To become a father takes an instant but to be a daddy requires a lifetime. My girls lucked out even if he does fart on occasion. 

This post previously ran on An Army of Ermas in 2010. Catch Stace at her blog, betwixt & between, on facebook and the twitter.


Pet Adoption Preparedness

by Tricia Gillespie

What causes reasonable, relatively intelligent adults to desire the company of a four-legged beast?

Perhaps my family experienced an emptiness that they attempted to fill with the love of an animal.  Perhaps their need for physical affection was left unmet.  Perhaps I should have licked their hands each morning and chewed on their bare toes. Maybe then they would have been satisfied with our family of four humans and our pet free, dander free, hair-ball free home.  Maybe then I would have two whole slippers, one more shoe,  and 54 more dollars (money spent on paper towels).

Pet adoption is not easy.  In fact, leaving the hospital with a newborn required less paperwork.  The hospital didn’t even ask for references.  They should have.  Just ask my kids.  On second thought….  Home visits, doctor visits, vet visits…about the only thing this pup didn’t require was a 2 am feeding, but she made up for it with an early morning pee-pee walk.

If you are in the early stages of family pet planning, remember these simple steps.   They will prepare you and those in your home for a four-legged addition.

1.  Leave puddles of water in various locations throughout the house.

2.  Put at least one slipper through the paper shredder.

3.  After a long day at work, greet your spouse with a wet lick on his cheek.

4.  Keep a bowl of dog food right in front of the coffee pot so your husband (or wife…equal opportunity) will step
in it.

5.  Place a foul smelling pile of rotten, steaming meat-loaf under the kitchen table.  (this will represent poop)  Now step in it with bare feet.

6.  Have your child mop the floor 62 times in one day.

7.  Set an alarm clock for 2 am and march the family through the backyard (preferably without a coat in the middle of February) whispering “hurry up and pee already!”

8.  Bury your couch cushion in the dirt and retrieve it one week later.  Return to couch.  It will smell just right.

9.  Throw up in your car.

10.  Bark incessantly at every movement you see through any window in the house.

Now you are fully prepared for pet adoption!

Just don’t forget your checkbook, phonebook for references, and be sure to clean your house for the ‘inspectors’.  Enjoy Fee-fee or Fido or Spike or Daisy….you get the point!

Tricia Gillespie's dog, Oriana, could be sleeping in a dirty alley and eating out of dumpsters; however, she’s sleeping on her couch and eating from her children’s plates.  Fried eggs are a breakfast favorite, and she wouldn't have it any other way.  Pet adoption may have turned her home upside down, but how could she resist a pair of brown puppy eyes?  Not to mention the two kids whining and begging...come visit her and her family on The Domestic Fringe.


Cross My Heart and Hope to Buy

by Amy Mullis

In a fit of social conformity and because a quick glimpse of myself in a department store mirror reminded me of the Matterhorn during spring thaw, I went bra shopping today.   On the whole I’d rather have first dibs in the selection of nooses the hangman is going to use to finish me off.  Or at least pick which angry nail technician is going to file my little toe down to niblet size at Naughty Nails.

First off, there’s the personality clash.  Bras today are undeniably perky, padded, and prime-time ready. If the bras I saw in the lingerie section were the Tiggers on Pooh’s corner, my chest is covered in wall-to-wall Eeyores.  Unless I raise my arms, you couldn’t pick me out of a lineup of Christopher Robins.  Out-of-date eggs are more likely to be sunny side up.

It’s not bad enough that bras are displayed according to styles instead of arranged by sizes like hammers, condoms, and other handy household items. Overcrowded conditions cause the things jump to their deaths like lemmings whenever you approach the rack.  The floor is covered with scraps of lace and spandex like the result of a bridal party-streetwalker collision. To streamline the whole process, I selected a wheelbarrow full of likely candidates and threw them on the floor. 

I blame the whole thing on over-aggressive sales clerks who know that once you enter the barren land known as foundations, you’ve forsaken pleasure shopping and are not going home without an underwire that doesn’t snap in half like a fortune cookie whenever you bend over to tie your shoe. 

Not only was I discouraged that everything seemed to be the wrong size, I was dismayed to find they were also the wrong shape.  To me, pushups are something I had to do in gym when I refused to wear the regulation gender-neutral guerrilla togs.  In Lingerie Central, it’s something that plugs your boobs into your nostrils like nose plugs. A swimmer with a push-up bra will never have to worry about water on the brain.  And at my age, I’m in real danger of losing at least one over my shoulder.

I wanted something a little kinder to my body than the underwire air mattresses hanging in rows.  Something feminine made from fibers that did not originate in the Space Program. I finally found a cotton and lace number that made sand castles out of parts I thought had been lost at sea long ago.  Never again will I have to check my armpits to see which direction I’m facing. 

I celebrated my successful shopping trip with dinner at The Egg Roll King where I finished up with a fortune cookie that was right on the money. It said, “Things are looking up.”

But just to be safe, I’m going to get someone else to tie my shoes.

You'll find Amy Mullis hanging out, eating cookies, and avoiding heavy lifting over at Mind Over Mullis.  Come join the fun, but bring your own cookies.


Baby Blubber

by Sara Spock
Babies are a delight, a soul-touching bundle of squishy love and joy. They coo and giggle, they clutch your heart with those chubby little hands and squeeze until cellulite bursts out all over your thighs.  Despite all the feel-good baby love, 9 months (let’s be honest, 10 months) of parasitic nurturing coupled with months of sedentary breast feeding can turn you into a blubbery mess. And I don’t mean mentally, although that happens, too. Babies make you fat!

To fight the fat, to reign in my jiggling arms, expanding thighs, and wobbly waist, I became a runner. Again.  I told myself I’d run three times a week, at least a mile on each outing.  My first few runs were more like walks with small bursts of lung-aching sprints; arms flailing, legs akimbo, pony tail smacking my ears. Even my iPod protested, falling out of my hand or pocket every few strides when I tried to find a better power song.  But I managed to make it 5 miles a week for the first month.  And with one bump of the shuffle button, the perfect warm-up song cascaded into my ears, through my chest and into my legs. I suddenly remembered how much I loved (hated) to run. Vanquishing personal goals, pushing further than the last run, thrilling 8 minute miles. I sculpted the perfect play list, peppered with thumping motivational tunes. As I pounded the pavement, more than just my play list became sculpted. My arms lost their jiggle, my waist its wiggle, and my thighs became my wheelhouse of muscle that propelled me into running 15 to 20k each week.

My running body is me at my best. Was me at my best. I went and had another baby. A gooey, schmooshy, loveable little ball of warmth and goodness that has once again turned me into my own gooey ball of schmooshiness. And as if reading my mind, but more likely seeing the expanse that has become my derrière, a friend invited me to participate in a running challenge for the month of September. 30 in 30. Thirty miles in 30 days.

It’s been over a year since my last serious run. I know what the humiliation of those first few weeks feels like. Who am I kidding? I know what new runner Sara looks like. Believe me, she isn’t pretty. But when I come out on the other side of this 30 day challenge, I should be one awkward sprint closer to my running body. Hotsy-totsy! Bubbaloo!

Sara Spock is a mom, wife, Penn State graduate, English tutor, and freelance writer.  When she’s not tripping over her own feet or searching for power songs, Sara can be found over at The Hero Complex where she tries to save the world, one. blog. post. at. a. time.


Kid-free Zone

by Angie Mansfield

I'm not exactly mommy material. I find it a challenge to ensure I'm wearing clean clothes every day, let alone drag my butt out of bed at some unholy hour to tend to the needs of a small human. Heck, I can't even keep a goldfish alive for more than a week. My dog is lucky that she's an adaptable, tenacious survivor-type.

I've never had an overpowering urge to have kids. For one thing, I lack the patience. Babysitting as a teenager, I learned that kids are okay before they can walk and talk, and little horrors after. The four hours in which the parents were out was about the limit of how long I could stand to deal with sticky fingers, bickering siblings, and whiny toddlers. I was always more than happy to hand the little heathens back to their mommies at the end of the evening, collect my pay, and head home.

My biological clock is permanently stuck on "snooze". I pride myself on the fact that I learned this about myself early, before inflicting my lack of parenting skills on a new generation.

But my mother continues to hold out hope that, one day, her eldest daughter will find a nice boy and settle down to the task of making grandchildren. Never mind that at this point a "nice boy" in my age group will be perilously close to drawing Social Security by the time any potential children of ours graduated high school. Or, at least, he'd be reminiscing about how, when we were young, there was this thing called Social Security. And then we'd laugh and laugh, until we cried and made the children uncomfortable. It would all be very awkward.

So when I learned that I had a condition, inherited from my mother, that causes fibroids to grow on the uterine walls, which then cause constant, sometimes heavy, bleeding; and that this condition is serious enough in my case to require a full hysterectomy, you'd think I'd be perfectly happy. "Hooray," you're probably imagining me thinking. "No more pregnancy scares for me!"

But here's where human nature comes back to bite me in the butt. See, it's fine for me to decide I don't want to have kids -- it's my choice, and I can change my mind any time I want. But to have that decision taken away from me, when I'm still only in my 30s...it takes away a bit of the happy-fun-times attitude. Add to that my general aversion to hospitals, and you've got the makings of a seriously sobered silly person.

Of course, the silly is such a major part of me that it can't be held down for long. I'm already delighting in telling my mother how I'll be "spayed" soon. She winces every. Single. Time.



It's a Mutt's Life

by Bill Mullis

I packed up the wife and the self and headed to the next county over for the big Dog Show. I wasn’t sure why. I have dogs at home.

“Our dogs aren’t purebred,” the wife explained. “We’re going to see real breeds.”

“Dearest,” I pointed out, “I can look at Bo and Lucy and see at least four real breeds and a couple fake ones.”

“Darling, you know I love our puppies and I wouldn’t take anything for them. But sometimes I like to see what those six breeds look like by themselves.”

We arrived at the Expo Center and waded through a veritable mob of very expensive canines, all doing what dogs do outside, followed by their handlers doing what handlers do after their dogs do what they do outside.

“And we can’t bring our dogs, why?”

“They’re not purebred.”

“So what? The purebreds are afraid we’ll get mutt cooties on them?”

“Well, they don’t want an – incident.”

“What, like Bo stepping on a Chihuahua?”

She glared at me and we went in.

The hall was a sixteen ring circus, with a ringmaster in each ring and a gaggle of clowns milling around waiting for something interesting to happen. We joined one such crowd to watch a breed whose name was bigger that it was.

Inside the ring the dogs trotted round and round, their handlers trotting along beside them, as the judge watched them with a coldly appraising eye. A secret signal was passed, and the conga line stopped. As one, the handlers dropped to their knees, producing combs and brushes from unimaginable places, and surreptitiously combed back into place a few windblown hairs. With a sigh the judge beckoned, and the first dog was presented for judgment. The handler picked up the dog by the snout and something near the tail and set it on a table. I cringed and turned to my wife. “Honey, he – “

“I know, dear,” she soothed. “They get used to it.”

“The handlers?”

“The dogs.”

The judge examined it very carefully, fondling bits I’d have to pay good money to have handled, sighted down its back, and sent it to the back of the line. I checked my watch. That hour and a half had lasted three minutes.

And so it went for the other twenty-five dogs. Each dog went up for inspection, the line jerked forward, and the handlers fell to their knees and preened.

Finally, after another trot around the ring, the ringmaster flicked his hand thrice, and all but three handlers dejectedly exited the ring. Awards were given, the crowd clapped politely, and the ring was cleared for the next breed.

“So what are they looking at?” I murmured to the wife.

“Conformity to the standard.”

I ruminated. “What standard?”

“The breed standard.”

Again, I ruminated. “So they’re looking for the most average dogs.”

The wifely voice took on an edge. “No, dearest,” she said. “They’re looking for the dog that most embodies what the breed should be. The winners get to breed.” She looked at me distantly. “The losers do not.”

I reflected on my own reflection, considered myself outwardly and inwardly, and decided that, on the whole, I was just as glad to be a mutt.

Bill Mullis lives in South Carolina. He has dogs.