Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

Arg.  Blah blah blah talky-speak excuses.

I’m back.  I’m going to be blogging here until I’ve got my typographical feet back on the ground, then maybe look to moving back to my own domain.  I’ll see if I can retroactively add my old posts to the archives, and at some point come up with a fresh new design, instead of hacking the old SASM header to fit.  Till then, rejoice!  Something & Something More lives again!

(bwa ha ha ha ha!)

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Just testing if I can bring in my archives by back-dating a post.  I certainly hope so, or I’ll be very sad.

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Take My Parents, Please

It all began with a chicken.  Well, actually, it all began with an orange*, but this part of the story begins with a chicken.  A small ceramic chicken that was a gift from my parents to me.  For my collection.

self:  Um, gee, thanks, guys!  A chicken…

mom:  For your collection!

self:  Oh, yeah!  My…what?

mom:  Well, your father decided you needed to collect something.  So we bought you a chicken.

dad: [nods emphatically]

self: Riiight.

This then multiplied to a flock (a cluck?) of chickens.  The most recent came as a house-warming gift and was the straw (feather?) that broke the camel’s back.

self:  I don’t WANT to collect chickens!

mom:  yes you do!

self:  Are you mental?  I think I’d KNOW if I wanted to spontaneously collect figurines of flightless domesticated birds! What the hell am I supposed to do with a bunch of ceramic chickens?

dad: talk to them!

mom:  Cluck!

self:  [bangs head against counter, slowly oozes to floor]

At that point, it became war.  We had given my parents a key to the new house, and came home the next day to a suspicious absence of chicken… until they started turning up.  In the dryer.  In the medicine cabinet.  Every time I opened a door, I cringed in anticipation of a beak in the dark.  After several days, I rounded up ALL the chickens and dumped them in a basket, abandoning them in the one room we haven’t unpacked yet…a horrifiying seething combo of office furniture, computer stuff, spare home decor, craft supplies and laundry called the Disaster Room.  Those chickens were as good as gone.

Or so I thought.

There came a time recently when my mom called and requested the return of a disk of programs she had loaned me several months ago.  I promised to dig it out and leave for her to pick up, and completely forgot.  I was at work when she texted, asking if she could go get it.  I explained that the disk was really easy to find…I’d conveniently left it in a spindle of blank CD’s but that the spindle was on top of a box of computer stuff and hard to miss.  She trooped right over to my house and texted me when she found the CD:

mom:  got it, thanks.

mom: cluck.

self:  Yay!  I was worried you had gotten lost in the disaster room…oh SHIT.

self:  Um, are you clucking for any PARTICULAR reason?

mom:  Why, yes!

self:  Crap.  There had better not be a chicken in my underwear drawer or I’m going to be very upset.

The basket?  With the incarcerated chickens, hidden from my parents?  Was right next to the box of computer stuff.  I have NO idea what I’m up against when I get home, but I think it’s not going to be good.

*(to be continued…at which point I’ll hopefully explain about the orange)

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This Seems Like A Problem

What, exactly, does it mean when you blow your nose, your ear goes *poink* and the world goes pear-shaped?

There I was, minding my own business (and battling a cold) at a stoplight.  I blew my nose, and suddenly I thought I was drunk.  (And had a fondue fork in my ear.)  Shit was spinning, the light post started going wavy, and I halfway expected to see Wayne and Garth on the sidewalk doing the finger thing and going “doodly-oo doodly-oo doodly-oo…”  (and if you get THAT reference, my friends, let me be the first to welcome you to being old.)  Frankly, it was a damn good thing that the light stayed red for the duration of the freak-out spell, becuase yanking my car into the bushes in an attempt to keep it between the (wavy) lines seems like it could have been a problem.

I love cold season.

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Potted Meat Food Product For The Soul*

Lately, since joining Facebook, I’ve been thinking about my drum corps days.  Seems every time I log on, I have another friend request from someone I haven’t thought about in years, but who I can instantly remember and say “My god, remember the time that we hid in a train tunnel to avoid a tornado/had a disco party on the bus/performed in a thunderstorm/were threatened with a trip to the pokey in Alabama?”

In a nutshell, drum corps is like marching band.  It’s horns and drums playing music and a colorguard spinning while marching on a football field, (flags, represent!) but it’s a culture as well.  It’s the distilled essence of band geek and the most athletic activity 90% of the performers will ever do.

It’s an entire summer with 127 other performers, traveling across the country in a caravan of busses, semis and assorted support vehicles, all full of people whose only job is to keep the corps rolling so all you have to think about is the performance.  It’s cut-throat, intense competition with other groups, all of you hell bent for leather as you strive to be the best of the best, but it’s also years later, coming across someone who might have marched with another group, and spending the entire time laughing till you cried about how incredible the experience was.

I’ve started going through my old photos and scanning them in to my computer, and my god!  Film pictures!  How archaic!  I’m surprised the busses we rode in didn’t have stone wheels…thanks for not having modern day essentials like digital cameras and cell phones as standard equipment, LATE NINTIES!!!  Way to be!  And let us not, let us NOT forget that iPods were a thing of the distant future!  The CD binders, they were immense!  The AA batteries for the CD players were ubiquitous!  My punctuation usage is getting out of hand!!111!!!!11

Ahem.  Sorry.

One of my favorite stories begins, as all things should, with clothing.  Or lack thereof… You see, when you’re traveling across country in old Greyhound busses, your packing space is limited.  Pretty much one giant duffle-type bag, and one sleeping bag (or air mattress and blanket, which was my preferred method for sleeping on high school gym floors EVERY night) per person under the bus.  Of course, the amount of crap you could squeeze ONTO the bus was only limited to your ingenuity and the amount of patience your seatmate had.

The other factor to take into consideration was the heat.  There are not many places in this country where it can’t get to eleventy-million degrees in the summertime, and I think we practiced in them all.  Even one tour through the Cascades featured 90+ temperatures and sunny skies!  Hell, the year I taught, the staff bus engine caught on FIRE driving through the Washington mountains, and we all just stayed on the bus, because it was cooler than outside.  Anyhoodles, since we practiced outside 99% of the time, ALL day during the summer, the accepted uniform for a female in drum corps was a bikini, boy shorts, tennis shoes and a small notebook tied round the waist with “dots” or coordinates listed inside that told us all where the hell we were supposed to be at any given point in the show.  The string was a convenient place to clip a Sun Smacker lip balm or two, as well.  (But NEVER the yellow “sport” flavor, ‘cause that shit tasted like a backed-up toilet used by a vomitous skunk.)  In fact, most of the girls in the guard omitted the shorts and shoes part of the equation, because at a certain length, what are boy shorts but bikini bottoms anyway, and who wants to be wearing TWO layers?  Not the person whose knees just started sweating, that’s for sure.  Many of us would also forgo shoes whenever possible, ostensibly so we could dance better, but mainly to avoid the dreaded sock tan line, that most obvious of all drum corps tell tales.

Now due to the packing constraints, most of us ran out of clothes before we ran out of days on tour, and laundry day came but once (!) a summer.  We would all cram as many bathing suits as possible into our bags, along with socks, undies, towels, actual clothing, toiletries, uniforms, shoes, and in my case, at least 50 books.  At one point I think I had 12 bathing suits, but even that was not enough.  We would string rope and bungee cord across the bus and wash the day’s suit in the shower to hang and dry on the bus overnight.

By my third year, my seat mate and I had enough seniority to claim two seats each, and as we didn’t want to sit in the back of the bus (some things never change, and the fact that the “cool” kids sit in the back of the bus is one of the rules chiseled in stone) we had the entire front row to ourselves, which happened to feature one of the only working windows on MY side.  As the air conditioning in our bus was laughable at best, the window stayed open most of the time, so I stretched my bungee across the opening and safety pinned my drying suits and towels to the line.

Picture this: 3 coach busses, two full-size tractor/trailer rigs (one semi hauling a trailer full of equipment, the other a trailer converted into a traveling kitchen), one conversion van pulling the small souvenir trailer and an RV serving as the command center and head of the operation, driving through the absolute backwoods bayous of Louisiana.  We were on our way to a competition at Tiger Stadium on the LSU campus, when the unthinkable happened.  My day’s swimsuit bottoms (blue bikini with a daisy on the hip) were sucked right out the window.  Gloom descended on the front of the bus, as Mama Pickett the driver (rightly) refused to pull over so the whole bus could look for the wayward bottoms.   It was a dark few minutes, till a shout rang out from the girls with the only other functioning window on my side.  Most of the bus crammed their heads out the windows to see where, down by the back fender where some long gone Greyhound driver had years ago hit something and ripped a small piece of metal up from the fender, my bikini bottoms.  Waving frantically in the wind of bus, they were the object of much pointing and waving as cars passed the caravan by.  Mama Pickett was by this point on the CB with the other drivers, as they all tried to formulate a plan that didn’t involve stopping the caravan, but would allow for retrieval of the bottoms.  Just as someone made the suggestion to try to snag them with a flagpole held out the window of one of the other vehicles, the bikini bottoms flew off the metal spar and landed by the side of the road, where they started to sink gently into the bayou.  As the entire guard bus began to mourn the passing of the bottoms, the van full of volunteer cooks and support staff bombed over to the side of the road, and one of the dads leapt from the vehicle and WADED through the swamp to rescue my bikini.  And there was much rejoicing.

I’ll be writing more on my experiences in the next few posts…stay tuned for such adventures as Why Trash bags Are Always Good and Yes, Virginia, There Can Be Tornadoes In Denver.

* I recently (like, 20 minutes ago, after a bit of a search) came across my journal from my four years in drum corps, and that was the title.  The sub-title was “A Book of Semi Inspiration”.  Why potted meat?  Well, someone (cough, DAD) hid a can of Hormel’s Potted Meat Food Product in my tub of bus snacks for me to discover one lonely night on the road.  And so I give you this:

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Happy Thoughts

Well, that last post was cheerful, no?  I’m just a giant fricken ray of sunshine over here, folks.  I’ve been trying to look on the bright side of this whole “losing my position” thing, and have come up with a (very) few positives.

1.  I don’t have to keep buying chargers for my various electronic devices every time I leave one at home.  (This is an actual problem, people!  I traveled with 2 phones, iPod, laptop, camera, other LARGER camera, and thanks to SantaParents, a GPS.  I own 4 iPod chargers and SEVEN chargers for 2 phones!) (You may wonder why the HELL I need so many electronics.  It’s a sickness, and I blame my father.)

2.  I’ll get to sleep in my very own bed every night!  Or the couch!  Or have a slumber party on the kitchen table!  The possibilities are endless!

3.   Um…

4.  I have to give back my corporate phone (lowly assistant managers don’t get PHONES, are you nuts?)  So I am relying again on my personal phone, which was due for an upgrade, and what better way to celebrate losing a job (but retaining employment) then to spend some money on an iPhone!

Yup.  That’s how I roll.  Got told on Friday my position was being axed, accepted crumby assistant manager job w/ same company on Saturday, bought an iPhone on Sunday.  This was my last week in my current position and so, iPhone in hand, I went off on my penultimate trip (I’m off to South Dakota tomorrow for one more store visit.)

That’s a shot of not only my dashboard, but the exit sign to Grove, where my family always went for summer vacation.  I’ve driven past it countless times since I began traveling for my company, and never had the time to go back.  Sigh.   This is also the photo I sent my mom, with the subject line “one hand and no brains on the wheel”.  She was less than pleased.

This is also the stretch of highway near the asylum, so the highway is lined with signs that say “do not pick up hitch hikers, as they may be escaped inmates.”  Way to take a picture of an EXIT sign, and not a cool
WATCH OUT FOR THE DAMN CRAZIES sign, self!

Ok, now that WEE little white sign over the side view mirror is a 2007! Quality!  Award!  Winning! Rest stop! sign.  You might be impressed, until you notice that every single rest stop on I-44 has one.  Look, Missouri, if everyone is special, then NO ONE is.  (Oh, yes, I’ve driven the entire length of 44 with a friend, and not only is every rest stop special, but there are more adult bookstores than I’ve ever seen in my LIFE.)  (Of course, the adult bookstore billboards are comingled with the fundamentalist Christian billboards.  I think good ol’ Missouri is a bit…confused.)

Awww…this is the liquor store that Rosie and I would drive up to when we were working together earlier this year.  Sadly, the county we were opening the store in was a <gasp> DRY county, so we had to hightail it across state lines to get the booze.  Which we may or may not have left in a friends’ freezer to “chill” for way too long, resulting in a high-velocity assualt on a bag of frozen peas by a ballistic wine cork.

. . .

I’m really going to miss that job, and all the iPhones in the world can’t really make up for it.  Sigh.

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Crap

Really?  Really?

Fuck.  I’m pissed.  Bloody hell damn ass pissed.  I just found out today that my position was eliminated at work.  They still want me to stay on, so I guess I can’t complain, but the position offered me?  NOT what I want to be doing.  Not at all.

Bitter, party of one…right over here.

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