Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Sad Story


There are times where you are just really sad about someone who didn't work out in your life. There are other times where things are different and you're glad (i.e., Cactus Man) and life gets richer and better.

But there are some lost souls, mentally-damaged people, that when it doesn't work out with them, you're not devastated, just very, very sad.

The Invisible Man finally contacted me. Outta respect for him, I'm not going to use our other nickname for him because while it's funny, it's not nice. Of course IM didn't TAlk TO me. But he left me a message that he wanted to get his stuff back because he'd be in town.

At first, my friends and I were just disgusted. "He just wants his shit back. What a shithead. You don't mean crap to him," said JJ. And many others.

I felt I should oblige. After all, YES, I did have an expensive first edition of a book that was his and other stuff. After all, I was of the understanding that we, over the summer, had become a "we." So we exchanged lots of stuff--as couples often do. In his voicemail, he said if I didn't want to see him, that was fine and that I should do "the right thing" and leave his stuff on my porch in a bag. So I did. And I called his landline and left him a message saying, we were adults here. We didn't need to pretend to be friends and have a conversation that was all fake, wishing each other well wishes like teenaged campers at summer camp. So I left his books on my porch with a note. Not a "Bette Davis-ripping-your-head-off" style note, just a very honest SHORT one.

Then the axe fell on my heart.

He'd left me a lovely Christmas card asking to be friends and if I could meet him in the future, a short letter, a gorgeous piece of artwork and four antique casters for my Victorian chair. As I pretended to not be home, I watched him out my curtain, his shoulders sagged. Each step of his feet looked like someone dejected.

I felt, in short, like a fucking asshole.

So I called his landline and thanked him for the gifts. Then said I hoped he would have a good holiday.

It was, in short, the toughest thing I have had to do.

There's a difference between giant raging assholes like Cactus Man, and someone with mental illness and fears where a r healthy relationship/friendship just wasn't possible.

Regrets. Man, I have 'em. Don't you?

A Friend's Obnoxious Spouse




Ho, ho, ho. I was feeling the merriment, but not so much right now.

I had to be mean to a friend over the holidays but for only one reason. Her husband is an asshole, and I didn't want to, under any circumstance, want to be around him.

In a way, I can understand her position. Say it worked out with me and Cactus Man. Say he moved here.

ALL HELL WOULD BREAK LOOSE.

I would lose all my friends. JJ, Paulie, Leslie, Rob, Dooooder, Bassy-gas, everyone would be like, "I cannot stand that asshole she's with, and he's ALWAYS around." Consequently, if I stayed glued to his side, I would imagine everyone would start disappearing.

Which leads me to this philosophical concern.

Do you have to accept all of your friends' spouses? If you do NOT, where do you draw the line?

Pretty much nowadays, ALL my friends are single. Even Dooooder, is going through a divorce. I don't have any friends, other than my sister who are part of a "we," "couple," "ONENESS."

But what do you do if one of your few married friend's spouse is a real asshole? I don't mean just a buffoon, but someone who's aggressive, nasty, unpredictable, mean, and disagreeable? Add to that, gets even worse when he/she drinks?

What do you do?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Whaz new?




All Hail to Agnes Morehead.

You know, I always looked up to her. I loved the way she'd rip off Maurice's (her ex) head, or tell Derwood to step off. As a little girl watching this show already in syndication, I'd clap my tiny hands in glee while she turned Derwood into an ass or ape.

Speaking of apes, asses and turds.


Cactus Man wrote me.

But you're saying, "He can't. You blocked him!" Well, not apparently on Myspace, which I hadn't checked in so long, I was suprised my password still worked.

He asked something to the effect of how was I doing. I didn't answer that but simply wrote, "I hope your grandma is doing well."
He wrote back all whiney. "How come you never ask about me?"

My inner Endora came out, and while I would have taken great pleasure into turning him into a giant cactus, or something you'd find at the bottom of a toilet, I simply wrote,

"Because, Cock-knocker, I'm sure you're doing well enough chasing the ladies and building them false castles in the air. Best, Natalie."

Then I laughed, hit "send" and then deleted his email.


I mean, really?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cool Bosses




Cool Bosses.
It's only fair I write about Cool Bosses since I wrote about lame ones, so here it goes.

The 4 Types of Cool Bosses:

1. The Laid Back Task Completer: the LBTC knows the job's gotta get done, no matter what. So that means, he/she jumps right in there and does the work, even if it's peon work, no matter what. It's just "his/her job" in their eyes. I had a boss like this once, and it was heaven.

2. The Cool Taste Boss:
the CTB is generally an aesthetic person. If you read, know what's going on in the world and can do your job, this boss will not only appreciate you, but will compliment you as well. In fact, this boss might even respect your judgement.

3. The Sympathetic Boss:
NOW, it should be noted that sympathetic doesn't mean stoolie or doormat. The SB simply listens, doesn't make judgement calls, just tries to see things from your eyes. SADLY, you'd think this type of boss would be a loyal member of some church (Muslin, Christian, Judaism), but most of the time, they're non-denominational or Atheist. Interesting, huh?

4. The Fair Boss:
This type of boss listens to BOTH sides as judicially as a supreme court judge and hardly ever takes sides. This type of boss doesn't discriminate on things like, a. this person has kids so this worker is better than that stupid worker over there who's single and has no kids b. weight or age, this type of boss would never think, "Let's give our fat/old employee the lamest job, because he must obviously be stupid," or "Let's really screw this employee because he only has an associates degree, not a B.A.

I wish I could say there's more than FOUR DIFFERENT KINDS OF COOL BOSSES out there, but there isn't. If you have a COOL BOSS, try to really revel in that. Be happy. Don't be a micromanaging complainer or nag. Having a COOL BOSS who respects you is truly a gift--from the universe.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Being in Charge



The Six Kinds of Bosses

Having had to work since I've been 14, I've racked up many bosses over the years, from camp to babysitting, newspapers, book stores, music stores, the radio station, you name it, I've done it. A legacy.

Yet here it goes:

Old Yeller--

1. Old Yeller is gender exclusive, but is generally recognizable by his/her bellow, "Why haven't you put away those buckets yet, Swanson
!" Or, "You got time to lean, you got time to clean!" Old Yellers are happiest when yelling.
Disadvantages: low morale around the office/warehouse, low self-esteem, O.Y.'s usually have bad breath
Advantages: it's slightly amusing when they're yelling at someone besides you.

The Conspirator--
2. The Conspirator is always paranoid someone somewhere is fucking something up. They're always planning plots and sub-plots besides micro-managing every task everyone does, consequently fucking things up. Their favorite activities are setting up the serfs so that they'll tattle on one another.
Disadvantages: can never be trusted, lies, creates mutiny among co-workers
Advantages: eventually creates mutiny towards The Conspirator.

The Bully--
3. The Bully usually only wants to be a boss to pick on people. Their goal in life is to try and make up for all the injustices they've endured prior to this job.
The Bully was (pick one or several)
a. picked on in grade school (now seeking revenge)
b. overweight/underweight in grade school (now seeking revenge)
c. a nerd in high school (now seeking revenge)
d. beat up in high school (now seeking revenge)
e. a social pariah in college (ditto)
f. prematurely bald and/or homely in college (I think you get the point)

4. The Mensa Feminist--
The M.F. thinks everyone, especially cool chicks and men, are either out to get her or her enemy and therefore must be given shit jobs because they're "so intellectually inferior."
Advantages: makes for good laughs to imitate the M.F. at the bar, will help advance other M.F. ladder climbers so long as they claim loyalty beyond the grave and always "know their place" which means significantly several rungs beneath them on the ladder.
Disadvantages: Employees must constantly feign mild ignorance to the M.F. as to not incur Medusa-like wrath, passive-aggressive notes are every day occurences, passive-aggressive punishments are weekly.

5. The Good Ol'Boy
G.O.B's like to talk sports at work. Like to give promotions to other Good Ol' Boys even if they do not deserve it. Usually right-leaning in politics and thinks "Bill Clinton sex jokes," even though over 15 years old, are still funny.
Advantages: will further your career if you are a G.O.B., will further your career if you're a "hot chick," lets you leave early for work if you say it's to watch a game, will buy you beers on company time.
Disadvantages: horrible or inappropriate joke telling, not sympathetic towards anyone slightly liberal, intelligent or anyone who likes to read.
Warning: Good Ol' Boys and Mensa Feminists make explosive co-bosses.


6. The Fun, Cool Boss-- The Fun Cool Boss is soon to be extinct. From what anthropologists can tell, they are laid back, not into screaming or passive-aggressive notes or punishments; they're upfront without being aggressive; they like to make their employees happy from the CEO to the janitor; it makes no difference to them; they've been known to give what are called HAPPY surprises to workers as opposed to HATED suprises ("I'm giving this shit job to you because you did it so well") or ("We're all coming in on Saturday.") Instead, HAPPY SURPRISES ARE LIKE, "Guess what, pizzas on me for lunch," or "Thank you for doing a good job around here. Expect to see a raise/benefits/bonus soon."
Advantages: treats you like a human being, the way he/she would want to be treated
Disadvantaged: Hunted to near extinction.

History of Desire





Have you ever read the poem "History of Desire" by Tony Hoagland? Garrison Keillor read it on Writer's Almanac, and you can access it here:

http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2009/02/18

What a sad, beautiful poem about starting off in life so full of passion and trust for love. Then how you get older, the past slaps you in the face from all the lies you've heard, all the broken promises you had believed in, then the next thing you know, you're emotionally unavailable. Male or female, it's not gender-exclusive.

It's sad, but it doesn't have to be this way. Can't you be cautious, slow and level-headed in the love arena once you've grown through to experience?

Even I have to admit, if I ever fall in love again, I might get anxious.

In retrospect, it seems Cactus Man and Count Crackula unfortunately, desperately wanted everyone to think they had "it"--what's called being emotionally available, when they really were not. When they were as cracked as Humpty Dumpty.

I once met a VERY cool guy here in town, named E. He looked like a tidier version of Curt Cobain. However, UNLIKE Curt, he was very emotionally grounded and mentally healthy (and I'm so about being mentally healthy these days).

What I really respected about him was he didn't pretend to want to become emotionally available nor wanting any kind of relationship at all.

What????!!!, you're saying. Why would she like this? Well, it's honest. He never pulled any punches with me, led me on, talked about "future things" we would do, made promises he knew he couldn't keep, disappeared like so many of them.

He just flat out announced this, RIGHT AWAY. I had to admire him. And the best thing? He never wound up a villain in one of my blogs, short stories, or poems, and never broke my heart.

There's something to be said about being honest FROM THE START!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dumb Names vs. Cool Names


Yes, I know that my picture has nothing to do with this post. I'd taken it after adding my little addendum, and submitted it to "Passive-Agressive Notes," dot com, but never heard back, so meh.

Lately, there's some dorks who are dying to meet me. But, and I know I sound Seinfeild, their names are such turn off's, AND, I think they're dorks anyway like Andy Gibb Guy, the dude I quasi-dated before Count Crackula.

OK, now listen up guys. Don't lie. You'd never date a woman named Bertha, would you? How about Ethel, Hulga or Helga? You'd at least have initial reservations.

Face it, names tie into the sexy factor. Sexy people, except for George Clooney, have sexy names.

For men:
Brad, Jay, Jason, Marcus, Mike, Ryan, Scott--even weird names like Sid (Vicious). All sexy names.

NOT:
Chuck/Chuckie, Harry, Gary, Fred, Ralph, Zekeil (what am I missing?)

The newest on my list are "Chuck" and "Harry." Sigh.

Last names count, too:
Sexy last names: Chavira, Kingry (the king-of-my-life for many years), or even regal names like Steger, Williams, Wolfe, Walker, Ford, and anything Italian with the right blend of consonants and vowels. I went to school with an entire pack of "Hainline's" and what a sexy name is that? Were all of the Hainline men good looking? Hell, yeah.

Bad Last Names: Grofelson, Binklemen, Bibsy, Gofenstein, Greenfield

Can you imagine in the throes of passion, screaming out, "Oh, YEAH Ethel Greenfield!"? Or "Oh, yeah, Harry Binklemen!"

Sigh.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mentally Ill People




Today, I was reminded just how MANY MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE THERE ARE OUT THERE.

From severe hard-to-treat depression, to bi-polar to you just name it!

I was out in my front yard talking to Chuckie when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guy lurching down the sidewalk, towards me. Chuckie ignored him, probably just assuming he was wacked and would go the other way, but he looked familiar. He's this normally very nice guy who either works or goes to school at the school next door to me.

He kind of looks a lot like the Invisible Man/Count Crackula. So he's normal-looking, handsome even, but he had this wild look in his eye (which I.M. used to get now that I recall), and like I said, he was sort of lurching, not walking towards me. Sort of Dawn of the Living Dead. As he grew near, he asked me if I'd do him a favor and call his wife. As he grew even closer, I could tell by his eyes and lack of alcohol breath, that he wasn't drunk.

I called her after he gave me her number and she said she'd "Be right there," then he said thank you and lurched back to school.

I felt so sorry for him. No doubt, she was bringing his meds. I spied like a nosy Alice Kravitz out my window and saw her pull up, park get out, meet him then embrace him as they talked.

And I felt even more pity for poor Invisible Man/Count Crackula/H.D. Esp, The Invisible Man.

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many ill people.

But I also felt grateful that I got out in time from I.M.; otherwise, my name would be Co-Dependant Woman. I'm still angry at him: for being selfish and all the selfish kisses that weren't necessary (since he knew he'd be leaving sooner or later), for not coming clean in the beginning about the severity of his illness, for standing me up, for lying (I promise I will NOT shut you or my parents out"), and the worst part, for being cowardly and not talking to me in the end, after he promised he'd NEVER do that to me.

Still, I'm more sorry for him now, having seen this guy, who's probably worse off than I. Man.

So many damaged people. So many. Sigh

Is Free Speech Really Ever Free?




Is it?

I went to a protest, RC's version of Occupy Wall Street, and it was pretty cool. In fact, I decided I'd go next Saturday, too, since I have to go right by it anyway after the farmer's market. Maybe I'll bring snacks for the protestors.

I saw a colleague holding up a sign, and for the first time, I really appreciated the fact that tenure helps protect academic freedom. Without it, you could be canned as a professor, for anything you might say regarding society/government/politics/religion. However, this only covers TENURED people, not the millions of teachers/adjuncts/workers in America.

A country where you can be let go under a great EXCUSE, aka lie, if no one likes your beliefs. Which leads me to Rapid City, redneck utopia. Here, republicans embrace the far right, parading around with anti-abortion signs, threatening to close Planned Parenthood on a fairly regular basis. Even a moderate democrat in Rapid City has to masquerade as a "independant" or quietly stand as a RINO (republican in name only). To claim to be a democrat here is dicey business, akin to saying, "I'm a communist." Sad. Ever notice that there is no concept called "democrat in name only."

Why is that?

Anyway, I wonder how many of Rapid City's far right regularly give to the food pantry, or volunteer their time for Wavi or the Rapid City Mission? But that's another story reserved under the title, Hypocrisy.

But, the good news is Rapid City is slowly changing. Like a boat listing to its far right, threatening to turn over and sink, Rapid City is slowly becoming more balanced, excluding that wingnut politician we have, Kristy Nome, SD's version of Sarah Palin.

I don't know. If you've lived here since 1998, you can feel a change.

Now, if we can only get a Trader Joe's to locate here we'd really be somethin'.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crazymakers in your Life? What You Can Do




One of the best things Cactus Man did inadvertently for me was pay for a class that I'd wanted to take almost three years ago. The class, which I'll never forget, was a class on screenwriting taught one winter by a visiting professor of screenwriting at Columbia University and who's written dozens of screenplays for Hollywood. What an inspiration he was!

But one of the things that stood out the most was a book he used for the class (D. you'll remember this). THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron. It explored freeing your creativity, and in doing so, also letting go of things in your life (namely people) who block your creative energy.

So we had to keep what were called "Morning Pages," this was a new form of journaling, not to look nice or pretty, or read by anyone ever, not for pretty verse or poetry, but to DUMP the annoying data of your brain that others leave imprinted on you (thereby freeing your thoughts from the static that plugs up creativity). Horrifyingly, I noticed that my entire Morning Pages were about Cactus Man. I realized he was completely blocking my good creativity and dominating my good energy. Not to mention the constant Gaslighting he'd do: "I never said that." or "I never asked you to marry me; where'd you get that idea?" "You're too sensitive. I never said that." until I'd be banging my head in therapy trying to figure out if I'd lost my mind. Then I realized it was all just gaslighting on his part, and I found the courage to shut the door on him forever. Hence, all my anxiety went bye-bye, and I was safe, happy and normal once again.


Here's an interesting blog on Crazymakers:

http://thinklikeablackbelt.com/blog/five-traits-of-a-narcissistic-crazymaker/

Have you been a Crazymaker at One time in Your Life?

Be honest. Brutually honest.

I was once dumped by an old friend who accused me of once being a crazymaker (ironically at a time when I was dealing with the biggest crazymaker of all time, C.Man). I was hurt she'd accused me of that, and it ended our friendship. But I DID take a LONG, HARD look at myself. I noticed that I had been a crazymaker myself at certain times (not a full-blown one, but one who was often a little too self-absorbed); as a result I was DRAWING other CRAZYMAKERS TO ME (think of vampires hanging out with other vampires, because that's what it is really like). When someone drains all the energy out of you; you tend then to drain the energy in turn from someone else (a bloodsucker of the night!) Hence, the worst one of all, Cactus Man, Humpty Dumpty or Count Crackula.

Signs You're a Crazymaker:

Do friends dodge your phone calls too much?
Do you find yourself saying, "Yes, but back to MY STORY?" way, way too much?


Or do you have a Crazymaker in your life?:


Do you find yourself dodging someone's calls? Why?
Do they drive your CRAZY with their constant whining and problems and they never take action on their problems?
Does he/she gaslight you? (saying they never said/did something, to manipulate you, when you know it for fact that they did?)

I think it boils down to you reap what you sew, or Karma or whatever:

Try to be of service to others, your friends.
Try to keep a lid on your "woes me" things and see things through others' eyes. I know this is very difficult at times. If you have a Crazymaker in your life, read Julie Cameron's book (she was married to a talented but notorious crazymaker, Martin Scorsese). And slowly, gently, with much tact and diplomacy, try to weed those crazymakers out of your life.

Life's a garden. You only have time for the daisies, not the weeds and roses with thorns. Give back to others. Do something that is completely selfless.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Humor Anyone?




I try to make my blogs funny. Sometimes, this is hard to do when a situation isn't really funny, nevertheless, I try.

However, it has come to my attention that IM has, at least in the past, apparently read my "How to Spot a Drama King" and didn't find it very funny, I think.

I say "I think" because the last two emails I got from him were odd. One had "Invisible Man" as the subject line. The other, which was very, very short, had sort of copied the line where in my blog I said, "Fever, let me tell you about fever."

So, I think he was pissed, royally.

Then I pulled a real bonehead move you normally only see in the movies.
I copied that part of the blog and was intending to send it to TT with the comment he made that was just like it.

In fact, I was talking to her on the phone while I did it it. Only I never sent it to TT, I accidentally typed in his name, because I was multi-tasking AND thinking of him. So the e-mail went to him.

Whoops. Then, the only damage control I could think to do was send a very short e-mail apologizing for the paragraph I'd accidentally cut/paste to him. I couldn't really mention it was my blog, because:
1. I don't know for sure he reads it and
2. He didn't come right out and say "Look, I read your blog and you're lame because you hurt my feelings."

Then again, as several friends have pointed out, I didn't lie about how our relationship ended, and that's the only part I blogged about because it was so LAME. Also, I guess IF he admits to reading my blog, he's got to accept the responsibility that he treated me like a turd, blew me off, never kept his word, etc. And I don't think he wants to do that.

Talk about Passive-aggressive communication. But, seriously, what could I do? He refused to talk to me in person, refused to call me. And whenever I did call him, he'd either shut his phone off, or it was full of messages. Plus, he said, "The more you try to contact me, the less I want to talk to you," which he said he doesn't remember saying, but I have it in writing.

What can you do BUT make it into comedy? I mean, really. I wasn't the one who slammed all the doors of communication shut behind me. He did.

Octoberfest and the New Rapid City Downtown Pavilion



Octoberfest!

Yesterday, JJ and I went to the pumpkin-patch and got pumpkins. On the way home, we went through the new downtown pavillion project and suprisingly found there was a festival going on. Beiberfest or something to that effect. However the new square's architecture leaves much to be desired.

"I feel like we're in communist Russia," JJ said, noting the strange, cement-like sculptures.

"Nice proletariat touch," I add, noting that the stark design of the place was very1946, East Germany. I can't figure out what it has to do with the Black Hills other than..... "Maybe these weird penis-like sculptures are supposed to represent the crags up on Cathedral Spires?" I offer, figuring this had to be what the designer was shooting for. JJ just made a confused face.

"But why the Star Trek-looking sound stage?" she asked. I must admit, the designers they must have hired had mixed concepts or were under controlled-substances. The sound stage that was built with a weird mix of concrete and white painted aluminum looked alarmingly like the Starship from Star Trek and really doesn't fit in with the Black Hills at all. "Beam me up, Scotty." Why build a space station? Why not build something from cedar or knotty pine or mimic the brick architecture from other downtown buildings?

But the oddest thing at Octoberfest was the strange two-piece band playing Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues--as a polka? Really?

However, even MORE alarming was the fact that here was a good 300-400 people and we only saw 3 good lookin' dudes. Seriously? That's hard to swallow after our secret find last weekend where ALMOST EVERY MAN WE SAW WAS A CUTIE.

Instead, we saw--
1. offensive baseball caps
2. alarming baggy pants
3. frightening stone washed jeans
4. scary shirt tuckers
5. putrid rally shirts
6. terrifying Magum P.I. circa 1983 lip-shrubs
7. spooky greasy mullets

"Acccccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkk," I cried, squirting my eyes with bleach to disinfect my vision.

In other words, the usual turds of Rapid City. This could have been improved had we been allowed to enter the interior beer tent and not just along the outside with the old people polka-ing.

"How much to get in?" I asked the lady carding at the front of the beer tent.

"30 dollars, but you get to drink for free."

"What?" I gasp.

After JJ and I got over the initial shock, we left. There MIGHT have been cute dudes in there, or there could have been just a sea of caps and rally shirts.

Well, the good news is that this will be good for Rapid City, this new downtown park. And who knows, maybe someone cute will move here and JJ and I will have some new eye candy.

In the meantime, I guess it's back to our secret spot we found last weekend with the imitation Eddy Vedders because, we sure as hell ain't gonna find it in Rapid.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Complications . . .

Insert broken heart picture right here.


You ever wondered why love has so many complications? Does it have to? Or does it only have complications when you're complicated people? Or if you're older?

I'm a pretty complicated person, but very direct and pretty simple once you get to know me. I know who I am and exactly what I want outta life. I don't see why "complicated" must equate "difficulties." Why can't "complicated" just mean "intelligent"?

But it seems on the Love Field, once you hit 40, everything is complicated.

Here's a list of Love Complications:

1. I love him, but he's got so many kids he's paying child-support for, how we ever going to make it?

2. I love her, but she's got this ex, and these kids and . . .

3. I love him, but he's got these serious mental-issues and . . .

4. I love him/her, but she's/he's been burned so bad in the past that . . .

5. I love him/her, but she's/he's got these serious Mommy/Daddy issues that . . .

6. I love him/her but she's/he's married and . . .

7. I love him/her, but she's/he's got this serious PTSD thing, and until he/she . . .

Why does it have to be this way?

It never was this way for me until a few years ago.

I only know TWO people who aren't this way, but they're not even friends. They're just people I know of, friends of friends of friends.

Maybe it doesn't exist. Any way you look at it, it's sad. I just wish I could go back in time, when the only thing you had to worry about was keeping the crops and the fire going. You stuck together then. You formed partnerships. But after reading Matchless (true story of Augusta Tabor), that didn't always work either.

I vacillate back and forth. At heart, I'm an optimist and I'm kind. But that doesn't equate a fool. Sigh.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Good Lookin Dudes



Where's this? You might find yourself asking. Certainly NOT South Dakota, you might be adding. Neums must have road-tripped to Steamboat Springs again. Maybe she's back in Lander, WY.

Believe it or not, girls, this wasn't Colorado. This was in South Dakota last night. Not only that, but in the Black Hills. JJ and I found this little joint, this pocket of sheer heaven where there's a plentitude of good looking dudes and not enough good looking chicks to go around.

But that can't be in the Black Hills, you might argue. It can't be because there are NO good lookin' dudes in the Black Hills.

I know. I know. But there was, in spades.

Signs You've Run Into Intelligent Good Lookin' Dudes:

1. A suprising scent called "Good Hygeine" is in the air mixed with nice quality men's cologne. I'd forgotten what "men's cologne" was until the owner, a tall drink of drink of water, walked up to me and actually put his hand on my back.

"Well, hello there," he said. My mouth had fallen open and flies were copiously buzzing in and out of my mouth.

"Uh, (stammer) hi," I offered lamely, suddenly weak in the knees. Then a minute later as he walked off, "JJ, did you see that good lookin' dude? WTF?" I hissed in shock.

"Shaddup. Sit down, you're blocking my view of Eddie Vedder."

"Oh, sorry."

2. The lack of baseball caps. Good lookin' dudes don't wear 'em. That's a fact. And get this, we saw . . . . . . . .

3. Stylish hairdoo's!! Yes, check out that MANE of hair on the Eddie Vedder dude! And there was another man with shoulder-length hair running sound for the chick playing the guitar. JJ and I sat and drooled into our drinks.

4. Stylish clothing. Yes, you heard that right. Not a single "Shirt Tucker" in the whole crowd and only 3 caps. No polo shirts, no Wranglers, just hip, stylish clothing and retro-grunge post-punk.

5. Intelligent conversation--Not a single fucking TV in the place, so no nonsense about sports. More like, "Have you tried that organic cheese over there?" or "We've got a bicycle-driven ice-cream maker out back. Wanna see? Going green, baby!"

I'm sorry, but I can't tell you where this FOUNTAIN, this mother-lode, this New El Dorado is. I don't need a damned stampede of good looking women, desperate to get the fuck out of Rapid's seedy selection. LOL. Sorry.

I Love a Man in Uniform




Just when you least expect it, God steps in and smiles. Hope--it's a 4-lettered word full of promise.

After all the BS I've endured the past two years, Cactus Man, The Disappearing Man, promises never kept, being stood up, etc. some "Hope" is rather nice.

The next thing you know there's a new man headed out west, headed to the Dakotas, just back from Afghanistan.

Maybe he's younger than you.
Maybe he's dashing.
Maybe he finds you interesting.

Maybe he listens to you instead of talking all the time because just maybe he finds your wisdom of value. Maybe he's not overly charming because he's REAL (not fake, nor too good to be true). He's not a committment phobe--been married and back. He's not a Drama King. In fact, it appears he's got the quiet strength and modesty of say, Bill Hickock. But he's lived in more countries than most people dream, been shot at and shot men in the line of duty and honor.

What is he?

A military man.

I've run into some new qualities I've not encountered before: Ambition, Courage, Integrity. No man interested me me before has displayed this, so I was quite taken back when he said, "A man's only as good as his word. That's how I roll. If I make you a promise and don't come through? You better get to the hospital, because near-death is the only way I don't keep my word. It's all about integrity, Natalie."

"What?" I almost dropped the phone. "What did you say?"

"Integrity. I keep my word. I don't let my men down, my kids, my country or my woman." I blinked, quite shocked at this sort of talk. Of course, me being me, and having been tricked quite a bit, I'll lie low and see if it's just talk--cause my experience with men, is most of them's all talk and no walk.

And this ambition thing. What's that all about? He's already bought 160 of the most gorgeous acres of land I've ever seen in New Mexico. They could film westerns there. He has mesas, mountains. His plan? To live "off-the-grid" and retire completely. To sort of slip back in time if you will, to maybe 1878. He needs a smart, strong woman who can shoot a gun, cook over a fire, garden, can vegetables, run an orchard. For he's going to live there for good in 10 years when he retires.

If anything, I'm interested in becoming friends. I'd like to learn something good from him. Maybe he'll show me this "Integrity" thing I've been yearning.

Know a lady who loves the outdoors, knows her way around a gun, can cook and might want to help him out?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Absolution or Forgiveness


Well, what's new with Invisible Man?

He wrote finally, a long, tender, apologetic e-mail but two lines really stood out:

1. "I have nothing to give right now," (he's in a deep funk of clinical depression, which he admits, but my friends all think he has bipolar, too)
and
2. "I remain your friend and more."


OK, now is this just me, but does #1 sound a bit like the "It's not you, it's me" variety (the classic dump line)? OK, let's say it is. Then why even bother to write #2?

If your attempt is to pull away, distance, or dump someone, why #2? Is it the person wants to keep the idea open of you (while not having to commit either way?). Or is it the person is confused? Working on his issues? My friends all agree that unlike Cactus Man, Invisible Man is sincere. They say he probably MEANS "I remain your friend and more" but due to his current mental illness and quasi-break down, really "and more" or hell, even being a friend is impossible. I mean, we haven't talked on the phone since Sept. 6th. I've not seen him in person since Aug. 21st. Is that what you do when you're "friends"? You don't talk or see each other? You tell the person that you "Just can't talk on the phone" because you're so down in the dumps you can't get off the couch? Wow, that sounds like a really cool friendship.

Forgiveness vs. Absolution

Forgivness means--I am so sorry for you that I hurt you.
Absolution means--I want to be forgiven for my sake. I want to appear the good guy, so can you forgive me so I can look like the "good guy" again?

Which does he want? Forgiveness or Absolution? I don't give out absolution. If a guy wants that, join a church.

Needless to say, I am back on the dating site. But this time there's a disclaimer added: 1. "If you have mental illness (untreated depression, bi-polar), please pass me by. I'm sure you're nice, but let's not waste each others' time. You should be working on your "issues" not looking for someone to date.

Disclaimer: This isn't to say all people with mental illness are not worthy of love or are fuckups. This is to say they need to work on their issues FIRST, find meds/therapy that work, THEN go looking for love. And they need to not be selfish and drag others down into their shithole of depression or lie about their issues when they're in a "temporary up swing." Which is EXACTLY what Invisible Man did--selfish. Issues first. Love second.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Forgiveness





How about a cup of truth and maybe an ounce of forgiveness?

Invisible Man wrote me a long, nice, explanatory email, hoping I will still be his friend. On one hand, I feel like a cad. But on the other hand, I'm very cautious.

It's tough. When do you know when to forgive? And if you forgive, can you forget?

I forgave Cactus Man overandoverandoverandoverandover. UNTIL, I realized it was just a game with him.

But like T. says, "I.M. isn't Cactus Man."

That's a tough, one too. To let go. I guess I still have relationship-P.T.S.D left over from Cactus Man. Sigh.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Comittment Phobic Men and Drama Kings--Run Away, Women!




I'm noticing that the Invisible Man really is milking this "Depression" issue. He got canned from his job this fall, too. But as my friend, JJ, noted, "Didn't he ALREADY know when he took the job that they'd can him in the fall? If so, why's he making such a big deal?"

It's because he's a Drama King (in addition to a commitment phobe and playing the "I've got depression, so NOTHING is my fault" card).

A DRAMA KING.

I never knew, until I met the Invisible Man, that there was such a thing as a Drama King. Here's the warning signs if you have a Drama King in your life.

How to Spot a Drama King:

1. Every single story turns into a near-calamity, with impending death, just a breath away. And no humor is used (though you might think that it's funny). The Drama King thinks whatever story he's spinning is heart-attack-serious. He wants every drop of your attention. And you should answer him with remarks such as "No way. You POOR thing." Or "Gosh, life is just so unfair to you. Let me make you an omelet." Just going to the grocery becomes a near-death event to a Drama King. "OMG! I almost got killed in the parking lot at the grocery store. This cat ran out in front of me, and I had to dodge an empty shopping cart and put on the brakes. I almost died. OMG!" Warning: do not laugh at the Drama King's serious story or you will have to endure a "Hissy Fit." See #3

2. Topper Syndrome: Anything you have to say is a moot point because the Drama King has had it, far, far, far worse than you. He MUST top every one of your stories, and preferably, he'll just interrupt your story with his anyway. After all, his story is MUCH more important (Dramatic) than yours.
Example:
You: Man, I'm not feeling good. I have a 104 degree temperature. I think I'll call the doc."
Drama King: Sick?! You want to talk about sick? I drove from Custer all the way to Deadwood in the pouring rain on my motorcycle. I got so cold I started violently shaking, shaking so badly the manager came to my room, asking if I was OK. My temperature was 116, and then . . ."

3. Hissy Fit: If you do not show enough empathy for him while he's in the middle of a Drama Tale, he will throw a hissy fit.

Ex. You: So you didn't really have a near-death experience in the parking lot. A cat just ran out in front of you, right?
Drama King: OMG. You never listen to a thing I say. I tell you I almost DIED. I ALMOST DIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Who's Sorry Now? I am.



Well, the Invisible Man is claiming Major Depression these days. And I'm sorry I've ever met this guy. He's going to try some new meds. He's really into the "Poor Me" song and dance. Depression defines him, the way a normal person's new Sunday suit defines them. He wears it with happiness (kind of odd since he's allegedly got depression). And he's giving the illness a bad name.

If you're clinically depressed, does that mean you treat people like assholes? Oh, yes, I guess it does! Cactus Man had depression, too. But Cactus Man was naturally an asshole. Just an asshole. He never blamed his depression as the cause of being an asshole. He was proud to be one.

But Invisible Man has taken that up 4 notches. Apparently, you can be "depressed" and be not only an asshole, but an obnoxious asshole who's self-absorbed.

Now, in all my fantastically NOT boring dating experiences, I've never met anyone who was THIS "self-absorbed." Let me you give some of the highlights.

How to be a Self-absorbed Asshole:

1. Always Pull "The Poor Me Gag--"Frame anything anyone tells you that might be critical with "But you can't understand what I'm going through." Use this line whenever you want free reign over being in touch with your inner-asshole.

2. Only talk about yourself-- Who cares if your friends are having any issues or a hard time, right? After all, aren't you the most fascinating person you've ever known? If given hell about this, pull #1 (re-read above).

3. Break Promises-- Remember to only keep your word for YOURSELF. That's the important thing. Don't let pointless things like say "other people's feelings/needs" stand in your way. It really is ALL about you. So make promises like, "Sure, I'll help you put on that garage door," and then just never show up. If pressed, use tactic #1 or #2 or a combo.

4. Get Indignant When Someone Tries to Hold You Responsible--say things in your email like, "You'll get no where with me if you have that kind of tone. You should know this by now." Revel in your indignancy. Remember your mantra: "It's all about me."

Practice these 4 simple rules and you too, can be a Depressive Indignant Asshole.

Disclaimer: This isn't to say all/any people with Depression are assholes, just one's who were probably already assholes anyway, illness or not.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Camp Tales: XIIII Welcome To Hillbilly Land


Did you know you could inadvertantly "Day Camp" in Hillbilly Land?

So What's Hillbilly Land?

The "Wait, Wait, Don't Shoot me" Camp Tale was an example set in Nebraska.

But the arresting thing, is that Hillbilly Land can be anywhere, unbeknownst to you. SO YOU TOO could be living in Hillbilly Land and not even know it.

Even in the Black Hills--boo!

Let me go back a few years to when I first moved here with my ex.

Back when we moved here, all we knew was that the Black Hills, part of the northern mountains of the Rockies, was BEAUTIFUL. Yet, we didn't know anyone here, but you have to start somewhere when it comes to making new friends, so what do you do? You get to know your neighbors in your triplex, right? Note: these were the first "locals" we met.

You ask them to go on a "Day Camp" with you to Steamboat Mountain park for a cook out. But here's the hitch.

1. You don't know them at all.
2. You don't really know the area you're living in because you just moved here. Maybe you're orginally from a much more cosmopolitan area. And you're shy, a touch embarrassed.

Signs You're Now Living in Hillbilly Land:

1. Dirty, strange, baseball caps on all men, and most women with the bill gently curved into a half arc. Caps are worn on all days, even overcast, and caps are worn indoors. The caps have logos and mottos like "NASCAR," "Broncos," "Dekalb: Feed-n-Seed," "Cabellas," or "I think the Teaparty is Neat!"
2. Weirdly dirty fingernails on people who haven't begun to start camping.
3. Alarmingly old jeans (Wranglers or 80's stone washed, Mom-Jeans that come up to the neck, white velcro closure tennis shoes.


It went like this.

"So we'd like to know if you'd like to go picnic with us."

"OK."

"Yeah, just bring something you'd like to eat."

(barely discernible grunt)

So we met them at the agreed-upon remote spot.

"Here," said the neighbor's boyfriend, thrusting me a bag of fried pork rinds that were already opened. I have never seen a bag of pork rinds before, (have you?). FYI: they look like are bloated potato chips with a brown skid mark going down the middle (I don't want to know what the brown mark is).

"Wow, cool," I say and hand the bag to my boyfriend. "Do you want to get the coals going?" I ask our new neighbor. Everyone knows how to start a BBQ, right?

He brought a bag of charcoal and poured about half of a twenty pound bag into the tiny camp grate. He tried match after match. "I cain't get it goin' 'cause it's windy." My boyfriend's face twitches, but he says nothing.

Then a more alarming thing happens. The neighbor goes to his car and gets a can of either gasoline or kerosene (at this point, what does it matter?)

Woosh, goes the flame. Not only do his cuffs of his shirt get singed, but so do his eyebrows, which apparently he finds rather amusing.

OK, you can imagine how the burgers turned out. My BF, dumped his in the trash when no one was looking.

Then came the next part.

"Hey, I brought some dip I made," I said, pushing the pork rinds aside. "It'll be good with these potato chips," I added. Because, who in their right mind eats hog skid marks?

Then, they proceeded to "double dip." Double dipping is to dip your chip into the dip, slobber and eat half of it, then stick the dirty, saliva-covered chip, back into the dip.

Need I say we cut the "Day camp" with the NEW NEIGHBORS short and got a pizza on the way home?

There's more. But it's too disgusting to share. So know this. It ain't over til the fat lady sings, and just when you think you've seen a REAL hillbilly, you can always suprise your
self.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Painting Time




Momma's Little Baby Helps Momma Paint

Sunday, Bennie and I decided to paint the exterior basement window wells. Every fall I do some cleaning and prepping so that during the semester, I don't have to work as hard. And I've been down lately, so I've been trying to keep busy. I also had Bennie fixed last Wednesday, so he's been mopey and sad. So I let him go out on his leash near me. I say "near" because Bennie's very protective around me. In fact, he got mad at me while my parents were here. It was about 100 degrees out, and Mom and I wanted to drink wine in the cool side yard.

"Stay with Bennie, Dad. Just pet him and keep him company while you watch TV." Only Dad's not an animal person and ignored Bennie, who unbeknownst to Dad was saying, "I've got to take a dumper, Grampa. I need to go outside," and then shit on the floor, creating an interesting mosiac design in the kitchen as I stepped in it.

So anyway, there I am Sunday painting. "Bennie, stay there. Sit." And he sits and watches me paint for awhile. An hour later, as I'm sweating in the heat and applying the second coat of paint, he gets bored.

"What'cha doin' Momblee?" he asks.

"Stay. Sit. Sit and stay," I warn him. But as I start to get up off the ground and stretch my legs, Bennie divebombs the paint can with his side, coating himself with about a cup of white exterior latex paint.

"Sonovabitchcrapshitstain, are you freaking serious Bennie?"

"What Momblee?" he says innocent as a lamb. "I just playin'."

"Sonofabitchcrapshitterstain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I exclaim and do my "not happy" dance then spend twice as long washing Bennie's paint off him than I did painting.

A 3 year old Bichon is no different than a kid. I swear.

The Invisible Man



How does one Become an Invisible Man?

Get really close to a woman. Get to REALLY, REALLY know her. Don't jump into the sack with her. Shower her with genuine kindness. Make her laugh her head off. Talk hours on the phone. Talk even more hours in person, laying under the night clouds and holding hands. Be one of those "rare guys" that everyone admires. Keep no secrets and share your inner thoughts. Tell her that jumping into the sack clouds your judgement and you want to start off as "friends first" because you "really like" her and moreover, you respect her. Then, once you get really, really close and meet both sets of parents and things are going GREAT, then start to freak out. Pull back, shut your phone off and just freak out. Better still, freak out in the dark while the phone is ringing and you know it's her. Whatever you do, don't pick up that phone and call her. Distance from her is exactly what you need so you do not risk getting hurt.

I've been thinking about how I could make an angle out of it that's funny. Got any ideas?

Getting Hurt
I have my Ph.D in this from Cactus Man University. But have you ever been so UPTIGHT about the fear of getting hurt that it's limited (crippled) you? Doesn't everyone have this degree? Most people have at least an associate's degree. Unfortunately, I got a doctorate and graduated Magna Cum Laude from it.

The shitty thing about really getting to know someone, really spending time with him (like I've been doing this summer), is that the crummy stuff starts rearing its head and you have to decide if you can take the heat. And if you can take the heat, then can he?

I wish it could go like this on the first date.

"Carefully read all of the above and check the boxes that apply," I say as I hand the man who's "applying for my love" a clipboard as if he's at the doctor's and not on a date. "Put your hand here," I say as he must take a sworn oath in front of a judge that I've rented for the occasion. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

The Applicant nods, "Yes."

"Have you ever been in bankrupcy, beaten or hit a woman?"

"No, and no."

"Have you ever cheated on a girlfriend?"

"No, (stammmer)."

"May I remind you that you are under oath," replies the judge.

"Only once and that was many years ago."

"How many is many?"

"Ten years ago."

"Are you suffering from any sort of mental illnesses, including but not limited to: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Pyschotic episodes, Depression, Severe Depression, S.A.D., Bi-polar? Yes, or no. Remember you just took an oath."

"Well, I do get tiny bouts with depression," says The Applicant.

"How tiny is tiny?" I ask. The judge reminds The Applicant that he is under oath.

"Manageable." The judge again reminds The Applicant that he's under oath. "OK. I get in severe funks. I won't hit you or anything, but I will turn invisible and dissappear for a week at a time. I will freak out if we get too close. I will become indignant if pressed upon and will not care about your needs or feelings."

"NNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEXXXXX"XXXXXXTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!" I yell, and the bailiff leads The Applicant out of the room and leads in a new Applicant.

If only it were that easy. But who ever comes clean early on before you don't have anything emotionally invested? Past hurts, ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, cheating, pain. I realize we ALL have our baggage that has hurt our hearts. I understand that. Yet can't we just move on?

We can't just stand there, stymied, terrified. If I can survive Cactus University and LIVE, LIVE to tell the tale, why can't a good man be just as strong as me and move forward? Sigh.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What if Cars Ran Like Computers? Pt. II

I had to get back to this question. What if they did? What if cars had all the hangups of computers and all their unreliabilities?

You'd go out to your car, put the key in the ignition, and guess what would happen? Nothing. No turn over. No engine starting, just nothing. "Oh, it's just a glitch in my car again," you'd say to yourself, so you'd take the keys out of the ignition and go have another cup of coffee then try again later and hope for the best. Maybe your car just wouldn't "feel" like starting that day. Just like a computer. Or maybe you'd have to "turn" your car off and on several times to get it working.

Unreliable.

Imagine if cars really did run like computers. Horror movies would cease to exist, because as the zombies stream out of the shopping mall, chasing after the poor victims who are headed for their cars to escape, none of them would start. Hence, the zombies would eat everyone. End of movie. The horror genre would cease to exist.

Also, if cars ran like computers, the term "get-away car" would also become obsolete, since if cars ran like computers, then you couldn't count on them. Of course, the upside would be there'd be less bank robberies, since if cars ran like computers, there'd be many a would-be robber sitting in his car thinking, "Great, I guess it's jail time for me since my car doesn't 'feel' like starting today."

Since it's been about 3 years since I've had to work on my bedroom PC, here's some nifty things I've forgotten about it.

1. Constant pop up window saying, "Do you want to debug now?" If you hit "yes" it goes into some nonsensical screen and starts "debugging" which ties the computer up for several hours and doesn't seem to improve the peformance of the machine anyway. If you hit "no" then it just pops up again assuming you're an idiot and just forgot the question, "Do you want to debug now?" it asks again. There is, unfortunately, no "FUCK YOU--NO!" tab to click on. Yesterday, I counted how many times that window came up while I was trying to get into my Yahoo account. 23 times. 23 fucking times I had to hit "No, asshole. I do NOT want to de-bug now."

2. Screen freezing up for no apparent reason.
Sometimes, the Yahoo email screen unfreezes itself, other times not and I have to hit Ctrl + Alt + Delete to escape. And the long email I've typed up for an hour a half also disappears as I jump up and do an amazingly little dance around my computer emitting a colorful tapestry of cuss words, including newly invented cussword combinations ("mutherfuckerfaceshitbrain asshole!")

3. The vanishing space bar function key. It's also about to wear out.
Sometimes it works, and sometimes I'll end up with a linelikethisandhavetogoinandputallthespacesbackin. Neato.

But I'll hang in there until I can find a fairly reasonably-priced crook, I mean techie, to fix my old laptop.

Sigh.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What if Cars Ran Like Computers?



OK, I see I've been remiss in my blogging. Reasons? Steamy affair? I wish! I still haven't told ya about the man I will nickname "The Invisible Man (which pretty much says it all)." More later. The reasons I haven't blogged include--1. Rally 2. Parents' visit. Pretty exciting. But there will be more "Camp Tales" later, so hold on to your hats, folks.

I type this new, facinating news-filled blog today on my 2000 model Dell "Dimension" series with Windows 98 on a big disco monitor. I'm so hip. Why am I on this slow relic that should be sitting in the Smithsonian?

The Christmas present Cactus Man gave me in 2008, his used laptop, is on the fritz.

What's wrong with it?

Well, firstly, it was a gift from Cactus Man, which should sort of say it all. Remember, it came to me basically wiped out with no software, and Basement Man had to reinstall everything. Secondly, at first the power cord shorted out, two weeks ago, which caused me to run, panicked to Microsolutions to discuss new cords. After picking myself up from the floor, receiving a mild concussion once they told me a new power cord was almost $80, they sold me a used one for $30.

"But this will only fix one of your problems with your laptop," said the sales manager quite gravely. "I'm afraid you have a compound problem."

"What else is wrong?" I grimly ask.

"Your backdoor gram-o-meter, power outlit version #56492100a.s.s.h.o.l.e is shot."

"Shot?" I repeat, dollar signs tentatively dancing above my head. I notice a sign taped on the wall that says, "$90 an hour minimum repairs fee."

"Of course we could sauter the sauerkrauter part #45588726255aaaafart back onto your mother board."

"Great. How much?" I ask. He points to the taped sign behind him.

"It's only a 10 min. job but we gotta charge you $100 for the labor and $50 for the dot of sauter." What is sauter, made outta gold or something?

"$150 bucks just to sauter one little doodad?" I reiterate tersely, spittle flying from my mouth.

"Of course, you could just buy a new 'used' laptop from us," he noted.

"How much?" I ask, my blood pressure hitting new and alarming levels.

"Ooooooooh," he says. "Anywhere from $200-400," he says.

"I'll think about it. I've gotta go rob a bank first." I pay for my power cord and run out the door.

So what am I gonna do? You know damned well a new "used" laptop isn't going to cost just $200 with all the hidden fees and add ons. What about all the file transfers, the software, getting it set up for the internet?

Why, I'll use my antique computer in the bedroom, that's what I'll do (even though it won't open up any kind of attachments anymore and can't open most internet sites). Until I get paid next. I was going to rant and rave and compare old cars to computers, but I'll save it for the next post. Oh, and my bleak dating situation with The Invisible Man is a real knee-slapper. Hang tight.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Camp Tales XIII: Day Camping: "Wait, wait, don't shoot me!"


Back in the old newspaper days with Gaylord, we invented a new kind of camping we coined "Day Camping." It's when, after a wicked work week, and limited "free" time, you go to the lake, hills, trails, whatever, and mimic camping without actually having to lug all the gear and stay overnight. It frees up extra time to squeeze in other fun crap on your two days off, OR one "token" day off if you're stuck on nights at the paper.

Only camping in eastern Nebraska SUCKED, as you already know, especially during hunting season particularly IF you are NOT a hunter.

The Seduction of a Quiet Piece of Land


Driving in the country, we found a public area that shockingly didn't have any RV's, braying campers or screaming children. It was even pretty, in a flat-n-sticker-bush sort of way, the only sounds of a few meadowlarks. We thought we'd hit paydirt.

Only one thing sort of confused us. There were no BBQ pits, nor picnic tables which was VERY odd for a picnicing site.

Not to worry, (we thought) because we were away from annoying campers, yay!

"What was that alarming noise?" Gaylord asked as he flipped a burger on the portable grill we lugged next to Yahoo Lake (there really is a town in Nebraska called Yahoo--or Wahoo what's the diff?-- aptly named by local yahoos).

"Folks, it sounds alarmingly like we're getting shot at," I announced into the hand-held microphone of a cassette player. We were making a tape of our adventure for Dooder back in Minneapolis.

"Preposterous," Gaylord snorted, in his best Ignatious-voice (Confederacy of Dunces). "This is public land! I pay taxes!! We're at a recreational area!"

"Ping, pop," went a few bullets whizzing over our heads.

"ARRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh," we screamed in unison.

"I think we need to get outta here. I think it's hunting season," I said pointing to a sign we amazingly neglected to read. It read, "No LEAD AREA. Public Walk In."

"Doesn't that mean, WE walk in and BBQ?" Gaylord sniffed in indignation.

"I think it means, they shoot, and we crawl outta here."

"But I haven't finished grilling the burgers," Gaylord lamented salting the raw hamburger.

"Ping, pop," sung a few bullets over our head.

"Aaarrrgghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," we screamed again.

The next ten minutes were a mixture of us imitating infantry soldiers, complete with bullets zinging merrily over our heads as we performed an amazingly complicated dance, hunching over while carrying rucksacks with gear falling out, dumping coals and partially cooked burgers on the ground, and dragging the necessities with us out of the war zone: hammocks, books and beer.

"YIKES! Dooder! They're shooting at us. Enemy fire has opened on our camp!" I shriek into the microphone as we hunch/crawled to the car feeling like something out of Full Metal Jacket.

"Operation fucked up evac. Over and out," I say to Dooder in the mike.

Needless to say, we didn't "Day camp" at Lake Yahoo again anytime soon. Amazingly, when recently asked, Dooder says she doesn't remember listening to our "War Sounds" cassette----sigh. All that exciting journalism for naught.

Years later, I found out there's a nifty thing you can buy called a gazetteer that shows you exactly where the HUNTING public areas are vs. the picnicing areas.

So remember folks. Next time you're day camping, make sure to check out that nifty spot in the gazeteer you think is so cute and secluded before you end up fodder for another Cormac McCarthy sequel to No Country For Old Men.

Don't worry. I'm lookin' out for us all.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Camp Tales XII: Camp Tipi-canoey




This is Alma, Nebraska, which I didn't really camp/canoe at, but I didn't have any pictures of Shit Lake where I did. However, if I DID, it'd look like this only: no trees whatsoever, just weeds lining the lifeless brown lake and a copious scattering of ticks everywhere.

How to Properly Turn over Your Canoe like a Drunken Sailor


Remember Gaylord of the "Pringles Incident"? It was in late March, and the hints of spring were momentarily in the air. Pancake-flat Nebraska, unlike the Rockies, actually has a season called "Spring," which amounts to a gradual cessation of snow, warming climes and budding flowers. This is rather a delightful experience, compared to the Rockies where it's blizzard one day, 95 the next. We were sick of winter, and while it was only 50 degrees, Gaylord had an idea.

"Let's get the canoe out and go to Shit Lake and BBQ," asked Gaylord one Sunday morning back in March.

"Isn't it a bit early for that?" I asked warily sipping my coffee.

"It'll be FUN. We'll get some smoked brats, chips and dip, baked beans and buns and beer."

The only thing better than bribing me with food, is bribing me with both food AND BEER.

"OK, you're on."

Ahhhhh, nothing beats springtime on the Nebraska plains. Ticks sucking your scalp, biting flies busily nipping your ears. The delightful first mouthful of brats and onions washed down with a cold brew is a religious experience.

Only we planned this particular excursion backwards that day.

We decided that we should canoe across the lake, set up the grill, drink beer, BBQ, and drink more beer. I was a little alarmed when I saw Gaylord pop his fifth beer and we hadn't even eaten yet.

"You going to be OK to paddle back?" I asked.

"Why of course!" he exclaimed, beer can held high. "Shit Lake is only 8 feet deep. It's not like we're canoeing across Yellowstone Lake or anything," he merrily added. That was a good point, I thought.

But here's where the flaw in our plan came in. We should have organized it like this: canoe for a while, canoe back to the dock near the car, drink beer, BBQ and drink more beer. Only we didn't. So you see where this is going?

I can see it all in slow motion.

After grilling and gorging, Gaylord announced that since the temperature had suddenly dropped about 8 degrees, and a winterly wind had blown in, that we should pack up the canoe and head back to town. Of course we brought too much stuff: a cast iron Hibachi, giant cooler, chairs, pads, blankets, etc. We loaded up the canoe, which suddenly seemed fuller and heavier and pushed off.

We were about 1/3 across the lake, when Gaylord decided that he wanted us to pick up the pace. He slowly and rather alarmingly, dug in his oar, throwing all of his body weight to the side of the canoe. Which is actually not the wisest maneuver.

Like in a dream, I call out, "N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, you're too far over the side of the b-o-o-a-a-a-t."

Only it was too late, the canoe tipped precariously, and me, in proper train-wreck watching form, just sat there, sort of mesmerized, sort of frozen, anticipating the inevitable avalanche of cold water, flowing over my head.

Nothing is colder than spring water in a lake. Miraculously, I spared my 35mm camera from getting wet, and got my buttpack before it floated off.

The charcoal and heavy grill, vanished to the bottom of the lake as did other miscellaneous items. The next five minutes were a whirl uprighting the canoe and grabbing things as they floated by and throwing them in.

I don't remember getting back into the canoe in water-logged clothes or the tapestry of cusswords out of Gaylord's mouth. It was rather sobering.

We made it back to the car in about 8 minutes, squeezed excess brown water out of our clothes, plucked the algae out of our hair and jumped in the car, heater blasting.

I don't think we said more than 3 words on the drive home. My vintage WW1 combat boots were trashed with mud, the leather ruined. And in the car, for kicks, I snapped a picture of Gaylord, with his sopping wet Gilligan's Island hat sitting askewed his head, sour faced, but I have no idea where it went.

Morale of the story:
1.plan the copious beer-drinking AFTER the canoeing excursion, when you're on the side of the lake near your car.
2. It's a canoe, not a rowboat
3. don't over pack the canoe
4. a "designated rowist" is probably a good idea.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Camp Tales XI: Showers? Who Needs Showers?




While I was in Utah, going on day 4 without a shower, I made a note in my camp journal to blog about how you go about not taking a shower for 7 days and live to tell the tale.

Check out this picture. So realistic.
I like the way she's not only showering in her bikini, but actually appearing to have a happy little orgasam while doing so.

So how did I manage to go 7 days without a shower?

First of all you gotta look at this reasonably. My friend, Paulie, thinks that you should find only campsites with adequate, and quite clean and inviting bathhouses so you can clean up in the evenings (including blow drying, stylying hair and applying a pedicure), then go to happy hour followed by dancing per say, and out for dinner. But this isn't camping. What it is, I'm not exactly sure.

The BEST sites, meaning sites with the most stellar views, the sites away from the ANNOYING YAHOOS (see Latino note in earlier camp tale), the most pristine places in America, are NOT going to have a bathhouse anyway, let alone a crapper. Want a hot shower? Then stay at a Bates Motel. Speaking of Bates, did I tell you about Dinosaur, Colorado? (OK, I will later).


Soooo, here are some tips for staying stellar while camping:


1. Pack the Razor--Nothing makes you feel chirpier than having tidy legs, especially when you're bedding down in your mummy.

"Dude, the sign says no bathing at the water station," Dooder noted.

"I'm NOT bathing. I'm shaving," I replied quite confident that if they meant "Shaving" then they'd put that on their sign. Ahh, the next best thing to fresly shaved legs are legs that are still attached to your body, so in bear-country, shave using scentless lotion; otherwise, Johnson's Baby Creme is great.

2. Pack copious pairs of undies--
And pack a few extra. Nothing sucks more than having to go undie-less because you had an accident running to the bathroom in the middle of the night (Irritable Bowl Syndrome).

3. Toothpaste and toothbrush are a MUST--
I don't care if you're climbing Denali, you MUST keep your fangs clean. No one wants to smell your bowel-breath after you nailed that entire box of garlic-flavored Triscuits, trust me. HOWEVER, Doooder and I had a dillema over this in bear country.

"What if bears are attracted to toothpaste scent?" I asked Dooder one afternoon. Dooder blinks, both of us imagining a jealous bear ripping through our tent, angerily not able to trace the scent of toothpaste, then slowly realizing it's emanating from our mouths. We still haven't figured that one out other than to make sure to rinse your mouth really well or use baking soda.

4. Obligatory "do-rag" or baseball cap is mandatory--
No one really wants to see themselves in the reflection of your shiny hair grease, so these two items come in really handy as does pigtails, which are really snappy if you have long hair like I do.

5. Hospital-style nail brush and bar of soap--
ALWAYS keep your fingernails clean. No one wants to eat something you cooked over the flames if your fingernails look like you went number two and wiped with your hands.

6. Sea Breeze astringent and cotton balls--
You'd be amazed at how clean you feel--and smell. I don't think bears are attracted to Sea Breeze. If so, I'm so screwed.

7. And finally . . . Baby Wipes--
For all the other purposes you can imagine. From wiping the grease spilled down your chin after biting into that keilbasa, to wiping your rear. You can't go wrong here.

Don't worry. I've got it all covered. Follow these 7 camping secrets, and you'll be smelling like a rose in no time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Camp Tales X: The Bates Motel



Bailing the Campsite and Headed for the Bates Motel

As you remember, we bailed on night two at Pearl Lake, CO, after 6 nights of ceaseless rain.

Leave it to me, to find the only Bates Motel in Steamboat.

I shit you not, we walk into the dimly-lit lobby with shag carpet to find an old German dude playing the accordian. We stand there for a moment, wet, shivering and dumbfounded, listening to him wrap up his beer polka medley.

"Do you have a room available?" we ask, noting that there was only one car parked out front next to a semi: good new or bad news, you decide.

"Yah," he responds reminding me of Chef on the Muppets.

Let me tell ya. When you're cold, soaked, stinky, thirsty and bone-ass tired after 6nights on the road of rain, any oasis in a storm looks inviting.

Even the Bates Motel.

Entering the room was like, "The 70's called. They want their Jiffy Pop and Tang back."

Brown, laminated tables in triangular shapes, modeled after the Apollo-craze of the late 60's when everything had to have that "space age" look were featured throughout the room along with pictures of the surf, which was a little odd coming from Colorado, home of the Mighty Rockies, a thousand miles from the nearest beach. But I thought "Meh, (shrug)" as I pulled the scary bedspread with several unidentifiable stains off my mattress.

Dooder, not caring about the arresting stains on her comforter, looking remarkably like blood, collapsed in a heap on top of her bed.

"I need a drink! Something to warm me up, not beer," I announced, looking in the mirror at my hair that hadn't been washed in 7 days.

Dooder only mumbled incoherantly, her face buried in a pillow.

After noticing a large, slightly appalling stain on the carpeting (blood from a hatchet murder?), I decided to leave my socks on for the duration to avoid impending plantars' warts and unnecessary trips to the podiatrist to have them removed. Following a quick check of the mattress for bed bugs (plastic liners on the mattress and box springs, check!), I sighed in relief.

"I REALLY need a stiff drink," I remarked again. Dooder only moaned a little but didn't budge. "Well, I'm off down the street for a shot of brandy, but I'll be right back," I said cheerfully pulling on my raincoat.

Steamboat Springs has to be the only town I've ever been to that doesn't have a dive bar, biker bar, or career tavern in town. I had to settle on a rather upscale bistro and deal with the look of disdain the host shot me after realizing my knee-length army cammo coat, a black Air Force cap, crocks and muddy workout shorts was probably considered alarming attire and slightly Columbine-Incident-looking, now that I think about it.

I headed for the bar anyway.

"Can I help you?" the bartender asked while two gay men suspiciously eyed me as if I wiped a booger on their list wine list.

"Brandy. Neat. Two-fingers in a snifter," I reply. My feet ache. My head aches. My hair smells like mildew.

"Christian Brothers?"

I smile and nod approvingly as this brandy is rot-gut, so it will be cheap. Maybe I can have two brandies, I think dreamily, imagining a good night's sleep afterwards at the Bates Motel.

He set BARELY ONE shot of watered down brandy in a tiny snifter in front of me and said, "Ten bucks," quite shamelessly.

"Ten bucks?" I sputter, thinking I didn't hear him correctly.

"Ten bucks." Shocked beyond belief, I threw it down the old windpipe.

I imagined having him flogged THEN set afire after being shackled and put in a stockade. Ten bucks! I feel indignant.

"That's hardly a two-finger shot. I want my money back."

"But you drank it already," the bartender laconically remarked.

"Oh."

The gay men shoot me a look like, "The mission's just up the street, loser." Yet I consider buying another one until I realize that would buy me THREE bottles of brandy in any moderately priced liquor store. Then I realize I only have 53 cents left.

Leaving a dime for a tip and I'm sure sarcastic fodder for the two gays' conversation after I left, I stormed out of there, ready for a hot shower at the Bates.

Didn't I leave some advice on an earlier Camp Tale where I warn cautiously to always bring a flask of brandy on camping trips?

It appears I didn't follow my own advice this trip, sigh. But all's well that ends well. Norman Bates didn't knock on our door, and to my knowledge, we didn't trail home any bedbugs. Ah, it's good to be back!

Camp Tales IX: I'll Take Some Rain With My Fries



This is what you call a flooded, and evacuated campsite--in case you're wondering.



Summer 2011 has to be the most annoying and wet summer ever. Rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain!

So when Dooder's and mine vacation rolled around this year, we were like, "Yippee! We can drive away from all this rain!"

It started off hopeful in Firehole Canyon, WY--dry and windy. Then it rained. It was charming and mildly amusing at first, a few drops splattering here and there. We nobly threw up a tarp over our picnic area and waited it out--until the lightning started. We actually dropped what we were doing and ran to the car.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" I screamed as lightning struck about 100 feet from our car, causing my hair to stand on end. Laughter ensued from the Latinos next to our campsite as apparently it lightnings a lot in Wyoming and they're quite bemused by it.

"I read in the Minnapolis Star that a grandma and her grandson were killed in their Airstream when lightning hit a tree which crashed through their camper," Dooder noted as we hunched under the rain-tarp. "I also read where two campers were electroctued in their tent when," Dooder started.

"I really don't need to hear any more," I interrupted, shifting the tarp so my feet stayed dry.

Then we packed up the next day and drove to Utah praying to Bringham Young for some heat and dryness. To clairify: the days were gorgeous, but the nights? After the second night on top the mountain of continual rain, the bottom campsites actually had to be not only evacuated but sandbagged, complete with state troopers. The "charming" bubbling of the rapids near our tent was replaced by an alarming ROAR. The only thing more terrifying than a bear crashing about near your tent is lightning striking trees next to your tent as you bolt upright, unzipping yourself from your mummy and run kicking and screaming through the slogging mud to the safety of your car.

"AAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" we screamed as we ran for the car about the fifth time (beers in hand, as we were getting good at this drill).

After two days of this routine, we broke camp, raging down the mountain, hoping for better weather at Pearl Lake, Steamboat Springs, CO.

The first night was sheer heaven. Stars in the skies, the moon shining on us. Not only were there NO BEARS (allowing me to behave recklessly such as eating jerky in the tent), but there was no rain.

We slept like babes.

Until the next night, that is. We were sitting in the car because, yes, it was raining and lightning again. As I was talking to my new gentleman-friend (yes, you heard that right) on the phone, Dooder slipped me a note:

"Let's blow this popstand. It's gonna pour like crazy any minute."


I read the note and considered the action. Firstly, we're tough campers (remember the bear incident last year?). We don't like to bail. Bailing is for whimps, losers, babies. But our sleeping bags were moist, the rain flies soaked. Even cold beer loses its spark when it's 50 degrees and raining. Cell phone cradled and still listening to my gentleman-friend who was gregariously telling me a story, I penciled back,

"On a scale of 1-100%, how bad do you want to bail?"

She only sighed and wrote, "90%."

I told my man we were bailing and I'd call him back.

Within record speed (12 min. I timed it), we had camp broken down and packed in the car, mud all over everything and gravel flying from under our tires.

Then it proceeded to pour.

Dooder had to drive about 10 mph down a winding treacherous mountain road. We entertained ourselves by hydroplaning into the opposing lane every now and then, mixed with cars blinding us with their brights, the right wheels of the car sinking occasionally into gravel coaxing us into the ditch.

When finally, we reached Steamboat Springs, only to find the only available lodging at . . . The Bates Motel, it was complete with an old German dude playing an accordian at the front desk. Boy, do I know how to pick 'em.

Stay tuned, Folks. There's a part two.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Camp Tales VIII: Just back from UT and CO



Pretty trippy picture, eh? I took it with my camera phone last week, right before Dooder and I decided to throw tarps over everything at our campsite because of impending rain.

Rain at the campsite.

You know, I HATE rain when you're trying to camp. What's worse is rain at above 8,000 feet, as you're just below the treeline, but that's fodder for another "Camp Tale," as we went a MYRIAD of places last week, into three states.

This particular picture was at Firehole State Campground in western Wyoming. What an awesome place. Except that we camped here over the fourth of July.

Ever notice that over the 4th, every hayseed on the planet comes out from under the rocks from which they hide to go camping? They're always loud; they always have screaming children; they always bring along a boombox, and they never shut up after 10:00 p.m., which in all campsites is "quiet time."

Of course, I had to suffer from Irritable Bowl Movement Syndrome at 3:00 in the morning on the 5th. I stumbled outta my tent, running to the header when I notice two less than salubrious-looking men, covered in tattoos and eyeing me as they stood outside of the bathroom.

"Don't mind me. I just have to shit my pants," I tooted merrily as I ran past. I didn't really say this; I didn't have to. And while I have NO idea what they were attempting to do (molest me, take my wallet? Carve me up into little pieces and toss me under a mesa?), they left shortly after hearing my alarming volley of ass-noises echoing from my stall.

Works like a charm. Who needs mace when you have IBS?

More later.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Camp Tales VII: "We're Almost There!"



Gravity
Now that I'm starting to get old, I'm really noticing gravity. Not only do my boobs happily bounce down to my knees when freed from my boulder-holder, but I find I like LOWER elevations as well, my arches aching to sit or get in a recumbent position, preferably with a cold beverage in hand and laying in a hammock.

But tell that to my camping partner, Doooder, Olympic National Triathalon Finalist and contender to be the next woman to shoot up in outer space.

"Dude, you're gonna love this 'little' hike I have planned for us," she says as I notice her put something into her backpack.

"Little hike?" I begin to worry. "What's that in your backpack?"

"It's just a mini tank of oxygen," she says. Note: Dooder does not have asthma or any lung conditions.

"And why do we need oxygen on our hike?" Well, if you need an answer, scroll back up to look at said mountain and said elevation, which was something ridiculous like close to 10,000 feet.

This photo was taken as I was in near throes of death: gasping, lying on the ground trying to breathe, (faint, distant dreams of beers at the campsite dancing in my head) yet somehow nobly photographing the view on my deathbed as serving for a good martyr.

As soon as we left the car, we began a near verticle ascent up only the service road. After easily ascending 2,000 feet, about two miles, I was ready to turn back for the car.

"No, no, dude. We've not even got on the trail yet," she eagerly tells me. My feet are starting to swell; my shirt is already soaked, and my hair is glued to my head in a sheen of sweat.

We press on, up another thousand feet. But at least we were in shade. However, now there are roots growing up at alarming angles along the trail and boulders sticking up out of the dirt, threatening to break one of my ankles. I cannot notice the wonderful view, for fear of tripping and taking a header down the mountain.

"Are . . . We . . . There . . . Yet?" I gasp after about an hour an a half of not "hiking" but basically climbing a rock ladder, known as the Catamount Trail. Probably about the same drill the Marines use in basic training. Only I'm not getting paid.

"Hang in there, Dude," Dooder happily chirps. "Try this." She hands me the oxygen. I feel euphoric for approximately 15 seconds then feel like shit again. "Come on, we're almost there."

By then after about ten "We're almost there's," I realize that "Almost there," is somewhat relative state of mind. Were the Donner Party members "almost there"? before they hit Donner Lake?

45 minutes later, I stumble to my knees, willing, and in fact, quite happy to offer myself up as a snack for a bear or mountain lion.

"I . . . Cannnot. . . Go. . . On . . ." I feel like weeping, but I've sweat out all body fluids.

"No probs. I'll just jog to the top," Dooder says as I lie flat on my back, legs splayed, in the middle of the trail anticipating beers, big, glorious, fat, vats of it. Better still, swimming in a vat of beer while drinking beer.

I don't remember descending that mountain. All I remember was Dooder prompting me, looking over her shoulder every 15 min. "We're almost back to the car," she'd happily say as I lurched forward, arms in front of me, white faced and rigid like a zombie.

One hour later, I was perched on a stool of a biker bar, 32 oz. of almost frozen beer parked front of me.

It was heaven.

Bad note: Today, Dooder tells me, "I picked up another canister of oxygen for our trip."

God have pity on me.