Thursday, December 20, 2012

All I want for Christmas…

I apologize for dropping the blogging ball lately; however, since the shooting in Connecticut, I haven’t had anything to say…. until now, when - in the midst of all of this sorrow and loss, Nathan Bransford decided to hold his annual Hooray for Heifer drive to remind people that – not only can we be the change we want to see in the world – we should be, especially when it’s hard – because that’s when the human race needs it the most.

And so, with that, if this alleviates even some sorrow, in some small way, then my work here is done.

Now, if you haven’t participated in the past, here’s how it works... Every year, sends this ripple of kindness across the blogosphere and challenges each of us to raise money for a wonderful cause, Heifer International. It goes something like this, if I link to his site and this cause, he will redirect people to my site to keep it going. So we should REALLY do this! For each comment that you post below (until the first week of January 2013), I'll donate 25 cents on your behalf, and for each person who “joins” my karma ran over my dogma, I will donate one dollar (up to $50 total). This is the third year we've done it, and I'd like to keep this tradition going, including sharing the post below. As dysfunctional as it is, it's become the mkromd equivalent to, "Twas the Night before Christmas." Yes. Really.


Just when I thought no one was paying attention because the Indonesian Blog, kewtawa lucu, is kicking my ass, someone sent me a note me about Nathan Bransford, who is raising money for a wonderful cause, Heifer International. Now, if you aren’t familiar with this organization, they use donations (like this) to purchase sustainable items for indigenous people around the world, many of whom I’ve personally offended at one point in time or another and need to apologize to en masse. Hopefully this will help me make amends (and improve my karma). And... for those of you who regularly read my blog, you know I need all the help I can get. You even already know that years ago, in college, when I studied in Sardinia, I was attacked by a passive-aggressive hair stylist who shaved my head. But, what you don't know is that, as tragic as that event may have been, it was far from the worst thing that's ever happened to me abroad.

That probably happened in India, after I graduated from college.

You see, every year my large co-dependent family vacations together in a place we've never been before. It's true, we pick some unfortunate destination and descend en-masse, and one year we decided to go to Asia. At any rate, there we were, visiting a mosque in India, when someone suggested that we see the, “lesser known Poor Man’s Taj Mahal.” If you've never heard of it, don't be alarmed. It’s more like a roadside attraction than it is a mosque, but the rules still apply: men can go inside, women cannot, and everyone has to take off their shoes regardless.

So there I was... walking around... outside... in India... without shoes on... when I stepped in bird poop.

If you know nothing about me, please know this - I’m a complete germ-a-phobe; however, luckily for me, there was a big pool of water right there. And, as a recently-graduated, culturally-sensitive Anthropologist, I hopped over to it and stuck my bird poop covered foot RIGHT in. No kidding, about twenty-five men immediately ripped their hands out of there the second I'd touched it. Being the polite idiot that I am, I was loudly apologizing/explaining and showing them my foot while saying, “Sorry – I stepped in crap and I need to get it off.”

Now, if you know anything about Islam, then you probably know the following:
1. That’s holy water and it’s used for men to clean themselves before they pray. Women don’t use it… EVER!
2. Never show a Muslim the bottom of your feet. It’s like giving them the finger.
3. Either one of these things is offensive.
4. Both of these things together can be life-threatening.

I now know that too…

That said, as I’m writing this, it dawns on me that the poop "incident" wasn't actually the worst one. The worst was definitely when I was living and working in London because of an international assignment. I tried to warn my boss this was a bad idea, but it wasn’t until I lost my knickers on High Street that he agreed.

However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.

You see, one morning, I’d gotten up and headed into the office to prep for a big meeting with my manager and his peers, all of whom are men. However, because God hates me, I didn't get to work early at all. In fact, I got there late because of traffic on the M25. Already tardy and frustrated, I quickly grabbed my stuff from the car and accidentally slammed the door on myself - which naturally resulted in a MASSIVE tear in my nylons. As I looked at my watch, I realized that I could pull it off (no pun intended) and literally JAUNTED (in heels) to Woolworths on High Street for a new pair.

Though I was able to successfully repress most of what happened next, I still remember running into the store, grabbing a pair of pantyhose off the rack, looking at the back of the package, and realizing that this wasn’t going to end well for me. You see, the problem with buying clothes in England is that the height and weight charts are metric.

Do you know how many stones you weigh or how many meters tall you are? OMG… ME EITHER!

But I grabbed a pair anyway and hauled back to the office where I went into the bathroom, pulled off my nylons, pitched the torn ones into the garbage, and opened the new pack. Clearly God hates me, because when I opened them, they were thigh-highs… for an Amazon. I’m five foot two, and in NO parallel universe would those have worked - even if I'd had a garter-belt, which I didn't.

So there I was, eyeballing the torn ones in the trash and running the numbers in my head, when I realized that it would require a lifetime of therapy if I went dumpster diving for my own used clothes. Instead, I tried to make my B Plan work.


After fifteen minutes of sheer hell (no pun intended), I walked over to my boss’s office, shut his door and said, “We have a problem.” It was (quite literally) five minutes before one of the biggest presentations of my life, so he was clearly upset by this declaration and asked why. That's when I stamped my right foot three times, and my thigh-high fell to the floor... engulfing my shoe. As we stood there, staring at each other, not sure what to say, the left thigh-high fell to the floor, too. And no, I hadn’t shaved. That’s when my boss said, “Take the damn things off and tell them you’re French. Let’s go.”

To think I was scared of what could happen on our last family vacation to Peru. No kidding, I was genuinely terrified that I’d hear a blow dart and wake up days later in some South American jungle hut without a kidney. Since that didn’t happen, I clearly still have amends to make before my karma can improve, so PLEASE help me out. Give to Heifer International. Or, post a comment and I will make a donation on your behalf (up to $50 total from mkromd).

Have a great holiday! Talk to you next week.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Number of the Beast

If the Mayans are right, then we only have about five weeks left on this planet. That said, in the spirit of full disclosure, while I don’t believe in End-of-Times prophecies, I am fascinated by this one, and not simply because I have a degree in Anthropology, but because I own the Hound from Hell. Seriously.

However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first. 

You see, subconsciously I think I’ve known all along… and looking back – the signs were there. They were. She bites the groomer when he tries to shave her. She cries when you play Gregorian chants for her. She sleeps on my head, which may not sound like Hell to you – but trust me on this one, it is… The list goes on and on. But it wasn’t until last year that I became extremely suspicious, when she got on the scale at the vet and weighed 66.6 pounds. At the time, we all just nervously chuckled like, “ha ha… that’s odd” and avoided making eye contact with each other. This year, no one found it funny when her check-up cost me $66.60. OK, that’s a lie. We all thought it was hilarious and commented that Satan could have been a little sneakier. I mean come on, really. Why didn’t the Dark Lord have it ring up as:

     $65.95 (price of the Beast’s shots plus 5% state sales tax) or

     $76.95 (price of the Beast’s shots with pet accessories) or

     $65.66 (Wal-Mart price of the Beast’s shots) or

     $64.66 (next week's Wal-Mart price of the Beast’s shots)

Why? Why not make me work for it?

Maybe it’s because I can’t do math (as you can tell). Maybe it’s because I’m too ADHD for subtlety. Or maybe it’s because her name is closer to one of Othello’s dogs, Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, than something bad-ass enough to qualify her as the Dog of War. Besides, it’s not just her name, it’s her personality and girth that makes it impossible to imagine Julius Caesar's Shakespearean spirit, raging for revenge, with Ate by his side come hot from Hell, screaming, “Cry havoc and unleash the bat-shit crazy puppy that's shaped like a Twinkie with legs.”

With that, talk to you later. And, if you're in the United States, have a lovely, safe, warm Thanksgiving holiday.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

There are no Atheists in a Fox Hole

Do you remember that song by the late, great Whitney Houston, “Where do Broken Hearts go?” If so, you’re welcome. I’m sure you’ll be humming it all day now. If not, you’re also welcome for dodging the, “get that damn song out of my head” bullet. Either way, I know the answer… Broken hearts go to Newfoundland. 

However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.

In December 1993, I graduated from college and the first non-required piece of literature I read was ‘The Shipping News’ by E. Annie Proulx. To this day, it remains one of my favorite books. It was later turned into a film with Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench, and Julianne Moore – which, for the record, was also excellent – because it was one of those rare instances where the cinematography actually captured the author’s description of the landscape and the Director effectively conveyed the unique culture laid out in the novel. But I digress. 

The point is that I was so moved when I read it that I told myself, “Self, one day you shall go to Newfoundland.” And, in 2003, I did. I drove up the East Coast, caught the ferry to Port aus Basques, then spent two weeks hiking the Tablelands and kayaking the Labrador Current before catching the ferry out of St. John’s and driving home to the Mid-West. 

Now, for the record, even if you don’t kayak, that trip is totally worth it. Not only do you get to see the Minke whales heading north for the cod, but you can see the icebergs floating south to melt. It’s breathtaking, especially in the morning. You wake up, have a cup of coffee, get into your boat, paddle a little ways from shore, and listen. At first, it’s complete silence. Then you hear the first whale breach and then the next and the next and the next. And as the fog lifts, you begin to see them. Sometimes they’re swimming but sometimes they’re spyhopping, which makes you say the following silent prayer, “If there is a God, nicely done You. PS: Please don’t let one of them mount my boat… Amen.” 

No lie. That happens. Google it. Whales have been known to mistake kayaks for females and they have attempted to mate with them. And let’s be honest… if that’s going to happen to anyone, it would happen to me. But that’s still not the point of this post. 

The point is that, during certain moments, when my heart was breaking – because my father had died, or my mom was in a coma, or my marriage was over, I wanted to be back in that boat on that water watching those whales - and not just because it was awe-inspiring, but because it was the moment I could no longer declare myself an Atheist. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t find religion. I felt God and I found peace. Those are very different experiences. 

At any rate, I wish that belief could give me some solace this week. My batshit crazy dog has struck again. That’s right. The other day DB went to Walgreens and bought a box of earplugs and bottle of hand lotion. Both of which she ate when he went to work. Now, every time her stomach rumbles, I want to duck and scream, “FIRE IN THE HOLE” because I expect to be hit by a projectile, shit-covered ear plug. Granted, that’s not as bad as being mounted by a whale, but it’s not good. Either way, there are truly no Atheists in a fox hole.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Other C Word

In the United States, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and in honor of the women in my family and strangers around the world, I’d like to make the following public service announcement, “Mammograms, though not nearly as pleasant as candygrams, do indeed save lives.”

I should know because, this year, at the age of forty-one, I had my first one. And, now that I’m an expert, I’m going to tell you what I told my step-daughter when we were in the drive-thru the other day, “It was horrid! Someone kneels in front of you… grabs your boob… puts it on a cold glass slab… then turns on a machine… that squeezes your breast until it’s the width of a sheet of paper. Worse than that… the ultrasound tech tells you, “Don’t move!” To which you can only squeakingly reply, “My boob is in a vice! Where exactly do you think I’m going to go?” 

And naturally, given my luck, half way through my rant, we heard the drive thru worker say, “Um, ma’am - we can hear you.” At said moment, I had two choices. I could get out of the car and let a child, whom I love, answer for my statements OR I could turn it into a teaching moment. So I owned it and said, “Sure mammograms suck, but they can save your life. Besides, it could always be worse. I mean what if you were a dog and had thirteen nipples. You have two. It’s TOTALLY do-able.”… and then I pulled up, got my food, and paid with cash.

Seriously, all jokes aside, think pink! Do yourself a favor, and – if you’re over forty – get a mammogram. No, it’s not pleasant but neither is cancer and prevention is key. Talk to you later.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

There is much power in the art of being present

So last week, I got an e-mail from my cousin which said, “Thought this might make you laugh.” And it did. However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first… My cousin is an industrial hygienist. She is that person who works with or for the Environmental Protection Agency and ensures that buildings don’t have asbestos, wells don’t have arsenic, and people properly dispose of chemicals and bio-hazardous waste. She is, hands-down, one of the smartest, funniest, warmest human beings I have ever known – and I would love her to bits even if she weren’t my cousin… though I’m so very grateful that she is. But I digress.

The point is that, a few days ago, she got a call from someone who needed to throw away a great deal of electronics. Now, due to the havoc that batteries wreak on the environment, that type of equipment has to be disposed of properly, so she told the person, “Here is my address. When you get to my office, call me. I’ll come downstairs and take you to the facility best equipped to help you.” Sure enough, ten minutes later, she got a call… headed to the parking lot… saw the van… opened the passenger side door… picked a flier off the seat… sat down… buckled up… read the flier which said, “ASPIRE HIGHER,”… commented, “to what are we aspiring…” then looked up only to see an Amish woman in a bonnet staring at her… wondering what the hell my cousin was doing in her vehicle.

In the woman’s defense, my cousin attended John’s Hopkins and should know better than to simply climb into a stranger’s car and begin quizzing them... In my cousin’s defense, she and I have the exact same miserable luck. In fact, this summer, when she was in France for Bastille Day, she walked into a patisserie and said, “WOW, they have penis bread.” When everyone stopped their conversations and stared at her, she chose to clarify, “I don’t mean that it’s MADE of penises. I mean that the bread is shaped like penises. They look yummy. I’ll take two.

The saddest part of that whole story is that it’s true. Actually, scratch that. The saddest part of that story was my reply, which is also true. Here it goes, “Dear Cousin – Don’t feel bad. A while ago, I ran to one of the stores in town to get some stuff so I could work on my house. Of course I couldn’t just make it easy on myself and go to Wal-Mart. Nooooo. I hate Big Box stores. So, instead, I went ACROSS town to a small mom-and-pop shop that’s been in business for over fifty years. Granted, it’s not in the best district, but I genuinely believe it’s important to shop local and I really like the owners. Naturally, as soon as I got there, it began pouring rain and (as usual) I was madly texting my best friend. Anyway, after running through the rain while replying to messages, I got to the store, opened the door, shook myself off and loudly announced, “OH MY GOD I AM SOAKING WET,” only to look up and see A GIANT WALL OF FAKE PENISES.

Yes… they had built a porn store next to the other store. And no… because I wasn’t PAYING SHIT FOR ATTENTION, I actually didn’t notice and bee-lined into the wrong establishment. When I tried to explain that I had clearly made a mistake, the man behind the counter said, “It’s TOTALLY OK. Lots of middle-aged women shop here. They’re our biggest customers. That’s why we put the dicks right up front. So they can get in and out.” 

Not knowing whether to applaud his double entendre or scream in horror, I did the mature thing and simply RAN BACK TO MY CAR. After slathering my entire body with hand sanitizer, I called my best friend who said, “DO NOT LEAVE! We have to get a gag gift for so-and-so.” 

I assured her that I was not going back inside, and that if she wanted ME to help HER get smut, then we were going to do it the old fashioned way… with two bottles of wine, an anonymous  Visa gift card, and her husband’s Amazon account. You would not believe the, “If you like that, you’re going to love this” recommendations. I bought an inflatable sheep… because let’s be honest - you never know when you might need something like that and I’ve found that it’s way better to be prepared for an emergency that never happens than to not be prepared for one that does. Love you.”

The only thing my cousin replied was, “You win.” But if that’s the case, why doesn’t it really feel like victory?  Talk to you later.