Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Packing My Shit and Heading Out

I'm moving here. Jennyquarx recommended I make this move, and I figure, New Year, New Start.

The site is still under construction, so be patient. Thank you, one and all, for making my stay here so awesome. My love for you is larger than the biggest stars. Or something.

Post to follow tonight. I would love to see you there.



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Everybody Lies

I'm just not good at it.

I've attempted a couple of lies in my past, as a child and as an adult, such as: "Julie, what are you doing in there?" "Nothing!" *bathroom door slams open, and my father enters to find me with a sink full of water, stirring baby powder into it with the toilet brush*

My parents pounded into my head that lying is absolutely unacceptable. You get in far less trouble if you simply tell the truth from the get go. That, my friends, is a fact.

I've attempted to live by the axiom that Honesty is the Best Policy, but I do know the merit of lies of omission. I once ran into someone I used to work with and he looked like sixteen locomotives had run over him over the past few years. I simply avoided making any comment on his appearance. No, "You look great!" or any such tripe. An ex-boyfriend was an absolutely lousy kisser, and I merely avoided ever bringing up the topic.

I got my first tattoo at the age of 20 knowing that it would upset my mother hugely. I never told her I was going to get one, but after it was done I felt I had to show her immediately rather than spend years hiding it from her. She reacted, well, horribly. Hysterics. Spoke with her monsignor about it. I felt better not hiding it though.

Yesterday I looked at Livvie's fish, Hungry Arthur, and I knew he wasn't long for this world. He was hanging out at the bottom of his tank, and he didn't look like himself. Please don't ask how a fish can manage to not look like himself, but after almost two years of living with him and caring for him daily I could tell something was wrong. I told Rich last night that I didn't expect him to make it through the night, and I was right. Livvie woke up crying at about 4am, and when I went in to care for her I checked on him. He was still around. By 830 this morning he was gone and beginning to turn gray.

Rich and I discussed the matter, and he felt we should switch him out for a new fish without her finding out. I was weighing the options in my head, and I originally agreed with him. Livvie isn't at a place cognitively where she can understand the finality of death. Her only knowledge of the word "dead" in general is in relation to AA and C batteries. So I agreed with him without liking it one bit. I did know, though, that I didn't want her to catch a glimpse of her already decaying little buddy who has watched over her every night while she sleeps. While she wasn't looking I managed to scoop him out and remove him from the premises. I turned off the light on the tank, and went about my business, albeit with my stomach starting to knot.

Rich left to do some work at the other house, and my mother left for Mass. Livvie was playing in her room. My chest kept tightening and my stomach kept roiling until I simply couldn't take it another second. Was it for my benefit or hers? I don't know. I simply felt she deserved to hear the truth, regardless of whether or not she would truly understand it. So I led her to the fish tank, turned the light back on, and pointed and said, "Honey, I have to tell you something. Your fish is gone." She said, "Fish is gone?" and I told her yes he was. Then I said, "Honey, your fish got old and sick, and he died. He passed away. He won't be here anymore." She was puzzling it out in her head. I could see the wheels turning. She knows what sick means. Not so much the dead part. So I said again, "He passed away honey. He died. He couldn't stay with us anymore. If you want one, we can get you a new fish." She looked up and said, "A new fish to put in the water?" I told her yes. I told her she could pick one out. She said, "New fish!" and moseyed off.

Nope. Doesn't really get it.

I have no issue with lying about Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, and even the Tooth Fairy. I don't know why those things are different to me, but they are. I simply couldn't mislead my kid in this instance. I decided to take a chance and see how it went. It could have blown up in my face. I know I should have called Rich and told him my intentions. I simply couldn't hold it in another second.

Yeah, I probably did it for me.

Lies weigh heavily on my heart. They always have. They crush me with their weight into millions of pieces until I start crying on a regular basis. The biggest lie my mother ever told me was on the day my father died. She came home that night, told me Daddy was gone, and that they had done all they could to save him. Several months later I heard her sobbing and went into the bedroom. She looked at me and said, "I lied to you. Daddy was already dead when we got to the house. There was nothing anyone could do."

And then over the years she managed to file that little tidbit away into the recesses of her mind so that when I brought it up years later she had no idea what I was talking about. It had upset her THAT much.

Yeah. No. Sorry, folks. I won't ever do that to myself.

I carry enough guilt for things I've said and done out in the open.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I'm Not Going to Lie to You

Christmas really is more fun when there are kids involved.

However, my entire life I have refused to actually become apathetic about Christmas. Granted, Halloween is my favorite holiday, followed by Thanksgiving. Terrible things have happened in my life on and around Christmas, but I will not let them ruin it for me.

I worked in one form of retail or another for a total of 17 years in my life, and every year I would grumble about how much I hated Christmas. I didn't. I hated the shoppers, and the nastiness, and the lady that threw an ornament right at the head of one of the cashiers when I worked at Shoddy, Overpriced Decor for Your Home. I hated that it took me 30 minutes to walk from the only parking spot I could find at the mall to We Suck Records where I worked. I hated the woman who was shopping at Very Large, Now Defunct Record Store who walked up to me at 11pm and asked me if we were going to have extended holiday hours. I hated the woman who threatened my mom in the parking lot at the mall because Mom had taken "her" parking spot, and when she called my mom a bitch I launched myself at her and her two overdressed, overmadeup, overhairsprayed friends and my mom had to physically hold me back.

But I didn't hate Christmas.

In January of 1983, January 15th to be exact, my father died suddenly. Our tree was still up. His presents were still under the tree, as he had not taken them home yet. Our usual tradition was to put the tree up on December 11th, Mom's birthday, and take it down after January 5th, Dad's birthday. For some reason we had not taken it down yet. When my mother came home that night and told me he was gone I flipped right the fuck out and started throwing every gift he had given me, and I even kicked some of them for good measure. I did actually ask my mom if we were taking the gifts for him back to the store, and she said some of them.

I didn't hate Christmas.

When I was 19 years old my grandmother had been lying in a nursing home bed for 5 years. Christmas Day 1990 I went in to visit her with my mother. I hadn't been in for quite some time, as the whole situation depressed me utterly. She hadn't spoken a word in 5 years, and she spent her days sleeping or staring into space. We walked into her room and I walked around her bed to her right. Christmas cards were all over the bulletin board above her head, not that she ever saw them. As she cast her eyes in my direction her entire body stiffened and she went into arrest. A nurse ran in and shooed us out and called a code. A few moments later my grandmother was gone. I was directed by my mother to call some family members to help us out, and I spent my day deflecting family holiday greetings with, "Grandmom just died."

I didn't hate Christmas.

I have no memory of any Christmas Eve that didn't take place at the Neale residence. Mr. Neale had passed away the year I was born, but he had been my mom's boss at Giant Soup Company with Amazing Stock Returns for 20 odd years. My parents were very close with his family, and every Christmas Eve my mother would haul me to 5 o'clock Mass, we would grab something small to eat, and then we would head over to the Neale house. Every year Mrs. Neale would have the TV set tuned to the burning fireplace thingy with the carols playing in the background. At the Neale house I was introduced to caviar for the first time. My verdict was that it tasted like wharf. Easy Cheese in a can every single year. I think she kept it on hand for me. I loved pushing the little sprayer and making designs on my crackers. The adults sat around and had adult conversation that went over my head, but everyone always made sure I had a good time since I was the only child there. When Mrs. Neale's son was 44 he finally met a fantastic woman and got married. We loved her, and seeing him so happy was just an amazing thing. Her son, Roy, was one of the quiet types who only opened his mouth if he had something worth saying, and in my memory most of what came out of his mouth was laugh out loud funny.

Monday morning my mother called me to say she was getting on the road to head down here, and she choked up. She said she had checked the obituaries, as everyone over the age of 50 is required to do daily, and Roy was dead. I was utterly devastated. I sobbed off and on for hours. Christmas week? Seriously?? That man is in every memory I have of Christmas until I was almost 20. I called his older sister to let her know I was thinking of her and to let her know I love her. She told me she thinks about the Christmas Eves of the past every single year. We cried together.

I still don't hate Christmas.

I have had a tree every single year that I've been an adult, even when I had no one around and no plans. No matter what has been going on, no matter how shitty my life is at the time, I decorate. The first year I was divorced and spent the day by myself eating cream cheese frosting from the can and every other crap thing I could find, I still had gone to a local tree stand and found a very small, live tree and decorated it. I can't believe how quickly the holiday comes and goes each year now. It seems to blow past in a hurry and there hasn't been much time to savor it. I told Rich last night that Livvie is going to be very surprised to discover that it actually ends. I'm pretty sure that the day the tree goes out there will be tears. This year I have started the new family traditions. Cookies again after years of not going near the oven. Making crafts with my mom to decorate the house.

Someday I would like to have the house where small children try new things to eat and are warmly embraced by the adults who don't find them annoying. Someday I would like to be the destination spot for many families to gather every Christmas Eve while I put on the ridiculous burning fireplace on the TV. I want to walk people to their cars after midnight and tell them I'll see them next year; hopefully sooner, while gleefully yelling, "Merry Christmas!!" to the small ones.

This year, though, I am content to make a new batch of chocolate chip cookies, make sure the turkey is thawed, start the stuffing for tomorrow, get my kids to bed, and put the absurd amount of presents provided by the grandparents under the tree.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Stay warm. Stay safe.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cheese (being the post in which I actually discuss cheese)

Part Skim Mozzarella, well, sucks.

I'm a cheese snob. I really am. I love cheese almost as much as I love beer. Cheese and beer is actually a favorite meal. Forget the wine. Although I do love wine. Mmmmmm. Shiraz.

My absolute favorite cheese is white extra sharp. It has to be white. I'm a cheese racist. The yellow just doesn't have the same texture. It's a bit softer. A little bit greasy. Cheap extra sharp cheese for those who know no better. Why does anything need annato anyway? The white extra sharp crumbles when you slice it, which can piss a person off sometimes. However, the more aged it is the more likely it is to crumble. Really good extra sharp has a salty tang that isn't found in any other cheese. It is the perfect heavy cheese for a Triscuit. It's also very good to pack for hikes along with a bag of small, chewy rolls and a penknife.

Mustard is good on extra sharp, but it isn't necessary.

My cheese experiences as a child were limited to the sharps, the Hickory Farms boxes, and a little tub of something called Wispride Port Wine Cheese Spread. There was always Wispride in the fridge at my grandmom's house. It was the perfect cheese to spread on water crackers or Sociables. Grandmom even had an actual cheese spreading knife. I was allowed to use it because it was dull. I remember being thrilled that I was eating something with wine in it. I don't know why this mattered, as if my parents were drinking something they always gave me a sip if I requested one. This would be why I had a taste for good scotch at the age of 6. Mmmmmmm. Dewar's.

Pepper Jack made it into my life sometime around my adolescence. My mom brought some sliced home from the local deli, and we were all over it. I remember us slathering brown mustard on seeded rye bread, slapping some Pepper Jack on it, and calling it lunch. Lunch was also occasionally a little trick my mom walked in on one day. I was taking slices of German Bologna, spreading mustard on them, and tearing slices of Cooper Sharp into tiny pieces and scattering them on top. She said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Making pizzas." Then I would roll them into tight little tubes and enjoy. Along those lines, my friend Ann introduced me to the concept of smearing cream cheese on thin Genoa Salami and rolling those up into tubes.

Tube food is good. Screw the nitrates.

I tried blue cheese as an adult. Prior to my Food Epiphany blue cheese scared the ever living shit out of me. There's mold in it for chrissakes. One day someone offered me some sliced French bread and had some blue cheese to spread. I was hooked. MAN, was I hooked. As a matter of fact, when my daughter was born Coyote did as requested and provided a wedge of blue and a bottle of wine after I got home from the hospital since I had been allowed neither during pregnancy. I had asked that it come to the hospital, but this was fine. Blue cheese is just- musty, rank goodness. I will eat any of the blues and be a happy chick. Stilton is frigging amazing on sourdough bread, and a few years back I discovered the joy of Gorgonzola on pizza and lost my mind. I'm still working my way through them. The blues seem to go best with crusty, chewy bread for me, but I am all over the blue cheese dressing on Buffalo Wings. Mmmmm. Tangy AND musty.

Back to Mozzarella. My husband, whose preferred cheese is processed singles in cellophane wrappers, also knows very well that the only good Mozz is whole milk Mozz. He's an ex-pizza man though. Ricotta should really be whole milk as well. It is incredibly hard to find whole milk Mozz these days, so when Rich makes stromboli or Long Island Rolls he usually stops at the Italian restaurant we discovered (that's owned and operated by several old and young men who barely or don't speak English) and purchases a container of cheese and some dough balls. This costs a fortune, which is why we don't often have stromboli. I've considered learning how to make mozzarella on my own. It doesn't look difficult; simply time consuming. I know I can do it. The only way I really like part skim mozzarella is as string cheese. String cheese is a fabulous idea, and it's fun to play with when drunk on margaritas and bourbon. Trying to peel down the thinnest strands of cheese can become a fabulous challenge when one's motor skills are impaired.

I'm at a point where if it's a cheese I'll try it. I have discovered that I find goat cheese to be meh on my palate, and I am not a fan of most soft cheeses. Most of them remind me of sinus infections to start, and I find them somewhat bland. I am, though, all over feta. The day I first tried feta with cracked black peppercorns in it I was floored. I also adore the milky, white cheese used by our favorite Mexican place and would love to make my own chicky nachos with it.

Two things-

Although I am essentially a Philly girl, do NOT come anywhere near my cheese steak with Cheese Whiz or I will slap you upside the frigging head. It's Provolone or nothing.


I find it highly disturbing that my daughter will pull the melted cheddar cheese off of her broccoli, eat the broccoli, and leave the cheese.

Does anyone else peel the crispy, greasy, brown melted cheese off of a cookie sheet and snarf it down like manna? Or is that just me?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Character Assessment

On November 27, 2006 I posted this on a message board:

I'm inventing a new game.

Currently I am

Level 2

I am

-2 for Endurance
+4 for Patience
+5 for Comedy
-2 for Hygeine

Detect Hunger
Detect Soiled Diaper
Summon Binky
Summon Bottle
Create Giggles

Alignment- Lawful Good

Level 2
Working Dad


-4 for Endurance
-1 for Patience
+2 for Comedy
+5 for Hygeine

Detect Fussing
Summon Beer

Alignment- Neutral Good

Things have changed in 3 years due to time spent in the game and the addition of another kid. I've leveled up, and so has Rich. We've increased the number of things we can do as we've gained experience.

Level 7

I am +12 for Endurance
+5 for Patience
+8 for Comedy
-1 for Hygeine

Detect Hunger
Detect Soiled Diaper
Detect Mood Swings
Summon Binky
Summon Bottle
Summon Bourbon
Summon Electronic Entertainment
Create Giggles
Create Meals with Limited Resources
Create Activities
Heal Booboos
Dispel Evil
Hand of Protection

Bag of Holding
Finger Paint of Hilarity
Cookie Recipe of Delight
Perpetual Crockpot
Grocery List of Doom

Alignment- Lawful Good

Level 7
Working Dad


-2 for Endurance
+10 for Patience
+12 for Comedy
+8 for Hygeine

Detect Fussing
Detect Mood Swings
Summon Beer
Summon Pizza
Create Giggles
Create Resources from Nothing
Heal Booboos
Dispel Evil
Hand of Protection

Pen of Perpetual Bill Paying
Power Drill of Major Repairs
Allen Wrench of Cheap Furniture
Igloo Cooler of Adult Beverages

Alignment- Neutral Good

Does this count as coming out of the closet?

Saturday, December 12, 2009


For the length of this song, every time I hear this I am a Christian again.

I offer you the Bing Crosby rendition because Bing was the frigging bomb. If you don't think so, well, bugger off.

It really doesn't matter who is singing this though. We were running errands today, and I would lay money on Celine Dion being the vocalist. I was sobbing my eyes out while driving. I listen to these lyrics, and I simply want to throw myself at Christ's feet and repent for everything. Including simply being an asshole. Holy Mary, I DO want to fall on my knees and beg.

When the song is over I resume my bound for hell, heathen philosophies.

NO other religious carol affects me the way this one does. Not Silent Night. Not O Little Town of Bethlehem. None of them. Just O Holy Night. Is it the music? Is it the lyrics? I have no idea. This goes all the way back to childhood. Being a former Catholic raised in a fairly old parish I am used to the old hymns and prefer them. Throw some "Christian Rock" at me and I want to barf into my shoes. Churches have their ways, but I've noticed a whoooole lot of guitar etc. in the music of Catholic churches down here. No. A thousand times no. Hymns are meant for organs or orchestras. End of story.

Almost immediately after O Holy Night ended today they went into It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas. I used to DESPISE this song. I grew up in the Philadelphia area, and the Thanksgiving parade each year was hosted by a department store called Gimbels. On Thanksgiving Day the commercials would start, "It's beginning to look a lot like GIMBELS!"

I was like, 7. I wanted to shoot myself. This continued all season.

Turns out that none of those commercials exist on Youtube. Consider yourselves lucky. Oh, I was gonna include it. You know I was.

After the radio folks played that little ditty I was hoping for a trifecta, but I didn't get it. My favorite secular Christmas song:

I grin like a complete fucking idiot every time I hear this song. And I'm dating myself. So what. Screw you. For all I know, you think episodes 1-3 are where Star Wars actually begins.

This song ROCKS. It's cheerful. It's fun. It's absofuckinglutely happy.

I love happy.

As far as I'm concerned it's Billy Squire's best work. Kind of sad, kind of awesome.

An ex-boyfriend of mine went to the ends of the earth to find me an 80s Christmas compilation CD that included this song. It's the only reason I don't hate his guts after he dumped me three times. Three.

My most hated secular songs are Santa Baby and All I Want for Christmas. Flames shoot out of my head when I hear them. So far I haven't seen that godawful Victoria's Secret commercial yet this year. I'm waiting though. Remote in hand.

So. Carols. What are yours? Discuss please. Links to videos would be nice.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Honey...

Since I couldn't afford a gift this year, here, take my identity instead.

Kidding. Partially.

When I married my Ex I was 24, and I took his last name because I loved his family, and the idea didn't really bother me at first. Turns out there was only ONE person in the area with my first and maiden name, me, and in one physician's practice alone with my married name I was one of ten.

That was a bit annoying. I put it aside.

One thing that did bother me a bit more as time passed was that I had been the last member of my family with my maiden name. There were no boys to pass it down. I don't know why this matters to anyone, let alone to me, but it did. When we finally divorced one of the very first things I did was to take my paperwork down to the county courthouse and get my name back. I swore with God as my witness I would never go hungry again give up my name again.

This apparently bothered Coyote, as my previous married name went well with Julie (The Weasel). Eventually though, Summerell gave her the chance to create the moniker, Summerkins, which is much more fun anyway.

It was a bit of a pain in the ass to get my name back and have to contact everyone under the sun and provide proof of the action so they would change my name on accounts etc. As a matter of fact, my bank has Summerell on all of my accounts, even on my online banking page, but every email I receive from them is addressed to Julie (Former Married Name). THAT pisses me off. No one there has any idea why.

So when Rich and I decided to get hitched I told him flat out I was keeping my name. I could tell he was a bit hurt, but I informed him that I had done too much work to get it back and I wouldn't be giving it up again. I refused to hyphenate because my name already has nine freaking letters in it and barely fits on signature lines. My mother, who works in a school system, strongly urged me to take his name since we planned on having a kid. She said it's a total pain in the ass dealing with multiple names in a household. I didn't care. MY name. Mine.

When we had Livvie, however, her name was hyphenated up until the moment I filled out the birth certificate in the hospital. Rich wasn't there, and when I got to the box for last name I simply used his. My mother's plea had sunk in, and I was imagining a school system dealing with three last names. Yeah. No. I also pictured HER having to sign all of that in the future if they hadn't yet gotten around to microchipping and scanning us all. When the horrid woman who deals with those matters brought the certificate copy to me Rich told me I had forgotten to hyphenate her. I told him I had done it on purpose.

Jonas, naturally, was given Rich's last name alone from the get go after that.

So for the past 4 years of marriage I've been puttering around with MY name. Everyone was informed I was keeping it. All of my correspondence includes it. Am I addressed this way? Most of the time. However, every older member of my family, and ALL of Rich's family, sends me mail and checks written to Julie (His Last Name).

Holy Shitballs did that piss me off. Every check I had to endorse pissed me off. I eventually just resigned myself to the whole deal until one day I was depositing one, and the teller helpfully said, "We have name change forms in here if you need to fill one out," and I said, "No. I did not change my name. They're ignoring that."

She (helpfully) shut up.

Many doctor visits since Livvie and Jonas were born have resulted in many phone calls, and every single time I pick up the phone I hear, "Mrs. _____?" In the beginning I would say, "This is Ms. Summerell, _____'s mother," and they would apologize and continue the call. After Captain Reflux was born, however, I was dealing with doctor calls constantly. I got to the point where I stopped correcting them and simply sighed and said, "Yes." Utility companies too. It was just easier.

The other day a package for the kids arrived from Rich's dad's girlfriend, and it was addressed to Julie _____. I picked it up and yelled, "FINE!!!!" I'm sure our new neighbors were delighted.

So today I sent a check for certified copies of our marriage certificate to take to Social Security. When I get my new card I can then go to the DMV and get my new license. Then I get to again contact everyone under the sun to inform them of the change.

And it doesn't bother me in the least. It will be nice having the same name as my kids. I'll have a signature that fits on charge slips. I'll also have a somewhat silly last name. That bit sort of doesn't matter, though, as I am using mine for writing purposes and on Facebook and the like. Rich's company used to check potential employees out, and if they had social networking pages they didn't hire them. I don't know if that's still the case, but I don't think they need to find his last name on my pages. I am also leaving my email address the same.


He came home today and said, "Hello Mrs. _____."

I told him to shut up.

I'm still not comfortable with the whole "Mrs." thing.