Look for the Helpers

It’s a sad day in our country and a tumultuous time in our world. I saw this on Facebook and it struck a chord with me. I think that Mr. Rogers had it right, as Anne Frank had it right when she wrote, “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

                           –Fred Rogers

There are people in the world that would do harm to others. To my knowledge, the last time we have seen brutality of this scale on our own soil was the shooting at Fort Hood. It is baffling to most of us that there are people in the world with so much anger within them that they could enact something so horrifying as to open fire on innocent people. Indeed, it is baffling to most of us that there are people in the world who could enact such deliberate violence at all, no matter the scale or cause or targets.

Our hearts are heavy today as we grieve for our losses, but as Fred Rogers said, we must look for the helpers. In the news clips that I have seen, helpers have been abundant in Colorado – from the tireless efforts of law enforcement in investigating the crime and its perpetrator, the labors of the medical professionals offering care and comfort to the wounded and their families, to the participation of witnesses in interviews and the ongoing investigation to paint a picture of the event so that the perpetrator can be brought to justice. There are helpers in Colorado.

But the remarkable thing, and the thing that keeps my faith in this country and its people, is that we have rallied. The story of Aurora, Colorado has dominated news rooms, radio airwaves, blogs, Facebook statuses, and Tweets today. As it should. All over the country, people are praying. People are remembering. And people are sharing. There are still a lot of helpers in our country. And this is something in which we may take comfort.

The sad reality is that there will always be those with the capacity and desire to hurt others, whether in our own cities and country, or the world at large. That is a disheartening fact to accept. But with it is the knowledge that there will always be people who rise to help. It’s been refreshing to see that kind of unity today in the midst of a heated political climate where polarization seems to be the new norm. It’s been refreshing to be reminded that the people of this country can still care about something as a united front, can provide support, even if that support can only come in thoughts and prayers.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims in Aurora and their families and my heart goes out to Colorado.

Quotes are cited from http://www.quotationspage.com/mqotd.html and http://www.snappynewday.com/2010/02/17/helpers/

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That Old Lady is Gonna Get Crushed by the Air Pressure: Why You Should Always Pee Before You Leave the House

I have a good mother. I know everyone says that (maybe????),but I mean it. I won the Mom Lottery. I have the kind of mom that taught me the birds and the bees with a Catholic Family Life book from 1967, barricading the door with her body until I read all of the chapter about “My Changing Body.”

(Note: What do you want? She’s old school! That book was legit! It was written by nuns!)
(Addendum to Note: Ok, ok. Perhaps nuns aren’t the best people to write a book about sex things. But the chapter on the whole changing body bit was very accurate. Nuns have ovaries, remember? The only place where it went willy-nilly is when they described arousal as an unholy tingling sent by the Devil himself that, if indulged, will cover your whole body with pustules, marking you before all of your peers as “The Pervy One.”)
(Addendum to Addendum: I can’t make this sh*t up.)
Anyways, my mom taught me a lot. But perhaps the most important thing she taught me was to always use the restroom before leaving the house. Do I ever listen? Of course not.
Usually it’s ok because we’re driving to Target or the mall or to a restaurant and there are PLENTY of McDonalds along the way where I can empty my bladder and then immediately purchase a jumbo sweet tea. (What?!?! All their drinks are a dollar, no matter what size you get! Why wouldn’t I get my money’s worth? And besides, I’m from the south. Sweet tea is basically water. No, sweet tea is pretty much a fruit.)
Anyways, while it annoys the hell out of Carter, I’ve never gotten in trouble with not going to the bathroom before leaving the house. (This includes family vacations. My sister has the world’s tiniest bladder and the world’s largest Diet Coke addiction. She ALWAYS has to stop before me.)
I’ve never gotten in trouble until this year’s ill-fated flight to Denver. It started out so well. The sky was clear all the way to Japan. I had just purchased not one, not two, but 6 wedding magazines and a SHAPE from the newsstand. (I can be optimistic!) I was sipping leisurely on my 24 oz. Iced Americano. The airline attendant called our boarding group and Carter and I, carrying literallyeverything we own, made our way to the breezeway.
(Note: Carter and I always look like hoarders when we travel. Hoarders or Doomsday-ists. I’ve come to believe that they are fairly interchangeable.)
CARTER: Hey, don’t you think you should go to the bathroom? I went while you were buying magazines. …Which I am now carrying.
ME: No, it’s fine. I’ll be able to go on the plane. These are usually really small planes. Anyways – we don’t have time! They called our group and we need all the overhead space we can get!
And so away we went. Through the door we stooped and searched for our row. It was not a small plane. It was a 3 and 3 plane. And who should have the aisle seat in our row? Quite literally the oldest woman I have ever seen in my life. (Note: I come from a family known for its longevity, but Madame Methuselah here made my oldest relatives look like children.)  I felt like the world’s sh*ttiest person when I had to ask her to get up so that Carter and I could get to our middle and window seats. I didn’t think anything of it at the time – I was caffeinated, I was staring 10,000 pages of wedding sh*t in the face, and I was stoked for the free warm chocolate chip cookie that Frontier always gives out.
(Note: THEY DON’T HAVE THE EFFING COOKIES ANYMORE! Overreaction? You’ve clearly never had a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie at 28,000 feet and should therefore keep your opinions to yourself.)
I began to worry that the air pressure of high altitude would crush this old woman. I’m not being sarcastic here, people – I was legitimately worried about that specific thing happening. Since I am the single most morbid person ever, I worried about her being crushed by the air pressure. Not that she might get altitude sickness and feel queasy. Not that she might have motion sickness from turbulence. Not that she might get a nosebleed and need a tissue and not have one. No normal, legitimate fears for me. I literally worried about the poor woman being crushed to death. You know the old adage “Expect the best, prepare for the worst”? Well I generally adhere to the “Envision the VERY worst, prepare for it, tell yourself you’re irrational and then somehow imagine something even more terrible, freak out, freak out, freak out, rock back and forth singing ‘Soft Kitty’, then be pleasantly surprised when everything comes out ok.” In other words, I am a perfect candidate for therapy. Am I going? What do you think?
It’s a two and a half hour flight to Denver. But when you feel the need to use the bathroom somewhere over Arkansas, it feel like friggin’ forever! But I couldn’t get up! I had to go really, really badly, but I was sure that if I asked the lady in the aisle to stand up, that her legs would surely collapse under her own body weight at that altitude. (No, I am not a physicist, but it makes total sense!) So I held it. And I held it. And we hit turbulence. And I held it.
FINALLY, the pilot says that we are making our final descent into Denver, which should theoretically only take like 5 minutes. But no. It took an hour. (I may be exaggerating.) And THEN, we had the bumpiest landing I’ve ever experienced. Let me tell you, if you’ve never had to pee so bad you have tears streaming down your face and then somehow kept from wetting yourself when the plane landed like a shoe from the sky, you haven’t lived. I deserve an award. (Note that I said award. I’m no hero – I don’t deserve a medal. But I absolutely deserve at the very least a participation ribbon.)
I thought that the end was in sight. We had landed. We were on the ground! But what’s this? Out gate’s not ready? Why? Because I’m the world’s unluckiest person, remember?
I am nearly sobbing by this point and considering whether to risk there being an air marshall on the plane and diving over the rows in front of me, bee-lining for the lavatory by the cockpit. I decided not to risk it because I most assuredly would have been shot to pieces with an Uzi. Because in my head that is what air marshals carry. And in my head, that is what air marshals do to odd girls in toe shoes who charge for the bathroom. (Irrationally exaggerated fears, remember?) 
At long last we get to the gate and it’s a good thing because I am quite literally 2 minutes away from pulling a Billy Madison. But our sweet old lady friend has to arrange her pocket book. And then she has to decide whether or not to take the SkyMall magazine, a deliberation which takes a full 45 seconds. (No exaggeration this time)
We are running out of time.
Eventually, the woman made it off the plane, no worse for wear. I left Carter with all of our hoarder gear and sprinted for the nearest restroom. You’ll be happy to know (I sure as hell was), that I made it in time. And it was glorious. Like, “Austin Powers just waking up from being cryogenically frozen” glorious.
Here are the lessons to be learned from my mistakes:
1.       Listen to your mom. Always use the Little Nature Enthusiast’s Room before you leave the house.
2.     Airplanes are pressure controlled so no one is getting crushed.
3.     24 oz. Americanos are a really bad idea immediately prior to flying.

4.     Hissing “This is all your fault, Carter! Why did you let me drink like a thousand gallons of coffee? Literally! You know that was a check I couldn’t cash!” doesn’t help anything.

5.    Leaving your fiancé on the plane with angry people behind him as he tries to collect all of your hoarded belongings while repeatedly dropping the 7 magazines “you just couldn’t live without” will make your fiancé irritable and difficult to live with.

6.     7 magazines is a bit of an overkill. 6 are more than sufficient.  

7.     You’re welcome.
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Picture of My Beagle Napping Like She’s in a Crime Scene Wednesday: " What’s Wrong With This Picture ? "

It’s my version of Wordless Wednesday, y’all! Otherwise known as My Beagle Naps Like She’s in a Crime Scene Wednesday. It’s not wordless (as you may have noticed), but it stars my girl, Rigby, making an ass of herself for a change and giving me a much-deserved day off from doing it myself. This week features the lovely Lolabear.
This is Lola.
Isn’t she lovely? Of course she is, she’s mine. Isn’t she just the spitting image of Falcor from the Neverending Story?

This is Lola and Rigby together. (Stick with me, kittens. This is called “building context.”)

What, mom? I wasn’t chewing on her head, I swear! OK, you caught me. I was chewing on her head. But she asked me to! Rigby’s been reading those Fifty Shades of Gray books! She said I could play with her stuffed chicken if I did it.
 I’m so ashamed.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Sure, they look the same size in that picture. Allow me to prove you wrong.

Yes, that’s right. Lola is a monster. Lola is a monster who can’t look into a camera even when I ask her politely and have a duck treat in my hand. And no, that picture isn’t blurry. Lola is just that hairy. 

Now that context has been established, can you tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

28 lb. Beagle – Giant dog pillow intended for Lola.

87 lb. Labradoodle – Tiny decorative pillow from Kara’s room.

Lola clearly needs to grow a pair.

Happy Wednesday, y’all!

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Babe, I’m a Health Nut

Carter recently became, in his own words, a Health Nut.

CARTER: “I’m a health nut, babe. You see this half-pound cheeseburger I’m eating? You know how I usually get it with bacon and a fried egg and cheese? I only got the cheese this time.”
[Meanwhile, I stare down at my Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP, y’all) and lettuce leaf and a small part of me dies inside.]
ME: And how does that make you feel? Deprived?
CARTER: Well, I’m a health nut now, I don’t know if I mentioned that. Sacrifices need to be made. Sooner or later, I figure, I won’t even notice the egg and bacon aren’t there”
[Meanwhile, staring at my TVP, I begin praying that sooner or later I won’t notice that the beef’s not there]

(Note: I told you from day one that I’m a reluctant vegan. Super committed. But reluctant. Bacon is my kryptonite. Were a stranger to wave a strip of extra crispy applewood smoked bacon under my nose, I might maul them.)
(Addendum to Note: Perhaps maul is a strong word. Eviscerateis more accurate.)
All kidding aside, when I told Carter that I was going vegan, he was super supportive. He’s been trying really hard to make me feel like not such a freak—eating less meat and more veggies, trying my smoothie concoctions that I make so I don’t die of malnutrition, commiserating with me about a hostile digestive system.
CARTER: “You know, babe, ever since I started eating more veggies and fruits, I see what you mean about the digestive bit. Mine’s been a bit hostile lately, too.
ME: “Try eating onlyfruits and veggies. Then we can talk hostility.”
CARTER: “Oh come on! It can’t be that bad! You were done with detoxing like a week ago, right?”
ME: “One had hoped that was the case. One was wrong.”
Give me a SuperPeriod ANY DAY over a newly-vegan intestine in detox.
But he really has been a lamb about it all. He even suggested that we make the homemade veggie burgers I’ve been yammering about all week. I nearly drove the car into a Subway when he said that.
CARTER: Holy Sh*t! Are you ok?
ME: [shrieking] You want to try the veggie burgers?!?!?!
CARTER: Yea, why not. I’m supportive of your new lifestyle.
(Note: I, as a vegan, have apparently been lumped into the same category as Furries or people who have elective sex change operations or folks who go to Comicon—people with “alternative lifestyles.”)
(Addendum to Note: I don’t know that there is any kind other than an elective sex change operation.)
(Addendum to addendum: I should note, and it should be of interest to you, that there are two kinds of vegans: Friggin’ Weirdo Vegans and Executive Vegans. Friggin Wierdo Vegans can be identified by their false sense of superiority, their insistence on making you feel bad about eating things that had faces, their hairshirts, their skills at irony in being “cruelty free” and yet unbelievably vicious in their judgment of the lifestyle choices of other, more omnivorous, types. Executive Vegans are harder to spot and could be anywhere. They are elusive and quiet in their choices. Often you’d never know a person was an Executive Vegan unless they announced it. Many of them were omnivores at one point and some, like this girl here, have some pretty interesting fantasies involving bacon.)
As an Executive Vegan, it has been an interesting shift. But thank goodness for Carter. Yes, I, a committed but reluctant vegan, am marrying a bonified Health Nut. What does being such a nut entail? I’m SO glad you asked. Carter has compiled a handy guide for your new “lifestyle”(And this is straight from the horse’s mouth – no edits on my part. So you know it’s good… and true):
1.       ZERO soda. (Except the occasional Jack and Coke.)
3.       Light beer whenever possible
4.       Try to eat things that look a little healthier but are still tasty. A Chicken Wrap will satisfy as much as a cheeseburger most times.
5.       Eat healthy sides. Fruit or a salad is so much better than fries and then you don’t have to starve yourself when it comes to the main course.
6.       NO DESSERT (I’m gonna have some bourbon anyway, so that’s my dessert)

7.       Late night snacking can hurt you, especially after a few drinks. Finding healthy options are crucial. Carrots and cashews have become my favorites of late.

8.       Yogurt for breakfast.

9.       It’s all about forming good habits.

10.   THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXERCISE. Everyone wishes there was.
I’ve created my own handy Guide for Health Nuttery based on observing the wild Carter grazing in his natural habitat:
1.       Drink all of the water in your fiance’s Nalgene. Then when she demands that you refill it, you’ll burn some calories walking to the Mondo Brita in the fridge.

2.       When drinking light beer, drink a few. A little indulgence is important. After all, you’re not having dessert. Your dessert is your bourbon. Or two.  

3.       When ordering a half-pound cheeseburger, don’t gild the lily and order it with bacon and a fried egg. Just cheese is fine.

4.       When eating a midnight snack in bed, DO eat carrots and cashews so that your crunching wakes up your sleeping vegan fiancée. (Yea, that’s right. Ladies get 2 ee’s. I took French 110)

5.       Work out like a beast (and he does) and then, treat yourself to a post workout beer. But make sure it’s light.

6.       Do start going to Chipotle instead of QDoba, not because you think it’s better (he doesn’t), but because you won’t be tempted to put queso on your naked burrito.

7.       Always order your burritos naked.

8.       Avoid fried food. Unless it’s fried pickles. They’re vegetables.

9.       When your vegan significant other offers you a vegan dessert item he/she has baked, take it. You will be pleasantly surprised, I assure you.

10.   When looking for fast food, do not get sucked into the myth that Panera is healthy. That sh*t cray.

All kidding aside, I think this post has surprised me. At the outset, it began as a I’m down in the trenches with all the lettuce while you’re flying high with the pork products kind of post. But in writing it, I realized how proud I am of him. If I’m getting healthy, so is he, he said. Which makes my life easier, too. It would be like a particularly goo-filled episode of True Blood in our house if he was parading around all the time with Taco Bell while I munched vengefully on kale. I’m a lucky lady. 🙂
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HI! My name is Ivan. Ivan Terrible. AKA The Russian Tour Guide

I’ve been to Russia.

In January.
I’ve been to Russia in January.
Now I know what you’re thinking, kids, but stick with me—my story gets better.
I went to Russia in January BY CHOICE.
See how happy I look? And yes, that IS snow.
(I told you it would get better. Do I deliver or do I deliver?)
Why am I thinking about this now? Maybe because it’s hot as balls here and so humid that my hair has decided to try levitation exercises over my head. It’s succeeding, incidentally. What better to think about when you’re sweating out of all of your orifices than Russia in winter?!?!?!?! (Answer: There is nothing better to think about when you’re sweating out of all of your orifices than Russia in winter.)
In January (when I went to Russia), the temperature dips to -7° (F). Cold, you say? Let’s add in the wind chill and snow blowing vertically in your freaking face. It sounds LOVELY, doesn’t it? I would go out naked if it would do that right now.
Cool, snowy goodness. And red. Lots of red.
(Note: I’m not saying that I hope the weather suddenly changes from 100° to -7°. That would likely be a sign that Mayans were wrong and that the world is ending now, rather than in December.)
(Addendum to Note: I think the Mayans are wrong, period. I think they just counted 10,000 years into the future and said, “Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”)
(2ndAddendum: Apparently my mother is Mayan.)
Russia is a truly spectacular place, however: a place where you can get beer that is 1000% alcohol by volume. It’s a place where you can eat eggs that look like a sponge, roasted prunes piped full of mayonnaise, and pureed liver stuffed inside of a chicken leg!
(Note: I’m not lying about the liver-leg thing. No one ever believes me, but I swear on my sweet, crotchety deceased poodle, Max, that I can’t make this sh*t up! They take a raw chicken leg, make a slit, remove all of the chicken meat and the bone inside of the skin[leaving only the top part of the drumstick]. THEN, they pipe it full of pureed liver and onions, close the skin back up, and roast it! It came to my table and I thought, “How lovely! What a lovely chicken leg! I do so love chicken legs!” I went to cut into the leg with my knife and heard the unmistakable CLINK of my knife on the plate, saw that it had cut straight through the chicken leg, and hit plate bottom on the other side. Kids, I’m from a good, German farming tradition. I know what liver and onions smells like. And I’ve avoided it like the plague since my late Grandma sat me down and made me try it.)
There are many wonderful culinary options to be found in Russia, however. Blini. Borscht. Pirozhky. VODKA.
This is another particularly spectacular thing Russia has to offer:
The Biggest Canon Ever Made.
Are you really the biggest canon ever made
or are you just happy to see me?
I wish that I had had some Vodka when we toured the Kremlin Armoury Museum. It wasn’t the subject matter that was boring. I f***ing LOVE history. But you know the old joke about JFK? When he told all of Berlin that he was a doughnut? AND THE CROWD WENT WILD!!!! Proving, once and for all, that it’s 2% what you say and 98% how you say it. (Unless you’re Sarah Palin. If you are reading this, Miss Palin, take a word of advice from a gal who usually has her foot in her mouth: Just Say No to Public Speaking.)
Anyways, it’s 2% what you say and 98% how you say it. Still with me?
Our tour guide at the Kremlin Armoury was on an autopilot course set straight for HELL. She had WONDERFULLY interesting things to say, but let me tell you kids, this woman was the female, Russian Ben Stein. Monotone. No facial expressions.
DISCLAIMER: I am not typing the accent to mock. But if you’re going to live the scene, you need to hear it.
RUSSIAN TOUR GUIDE (RTG): Overr heer, vee haf de gilded carriage of Peter de Great. Der are ovair tventy-tousand jewels on de carriage. Eesn’t it lovely? Of course eet ees.
We were all thrown for a loop. Usually tours are audience participation gigs. When the tour guide asks, “Ain’t that just lovely, y’all?” we the audience ooh and ah about just how lovely it is. And the guide feels validated, because after all, it is his 12th century broadsword.
RTG:Keep up please. Heer, ve haf de jeweled dress of Catherine de Great. Eet ees encrusted vit ovair fifty-tousand jewels and veighs over von hundred pounds. Eesn’t is magnificent? Yes, it is.
(Note: Again, I LOVE the Russians. And I am not mocking. I happen to be one of 3 people on earth [yes, including Russian women] who find a Russian accent super sexy. You fantasize about a man speaking French to you? Pssssh. Give me a tall drink of water whispering the names of all of the tsars in succession in my ear over a blini and caviar. French is a stuffy nose language. Russian sounds like, “Hey, baby. You want me to go kill that bear out there? And you want me to turn that bear into a 5 star meal and a Slanket for you? Alright.”)
(Addendum: You KNOW I’m right.)
(Addendum to Addendum: Sorry, Carter. You’re all the man I need. But if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas: Come to Mama)
RTG went on like this for THREE   F***ING   HOURS!
Here’s the problem with that: I’m a front row kid. I always do the reading. I come prepared. I raise my hand for every question. I wave it wildly when the teacher doesn’t call on me because “we have to give other people a chance to answer.”( Bullsh*t. If they knew the answer, they’d have their hands raised instead of staring at their crotches praying to sweet Jesus that you don’t call on them!)  So for a first row kid who loves audience participation and museums and history and nerddom period, this was torture! I tried to jump in. Here’s how it went.
RTG:Over heer, ve haf de flogging stick of Ivan de Terrible. He flogged over nine hundred beellion people during his reign. Isn’t it terrible?
RTG: [Look of shock] Of course eet ees. Dat’s vy vee call him Ivan de Terrible. Come come, now vee go ovair heer.
(Ok, so maybe it wasn’t a flogging stick. And he definitely didn’t flog nine hundred billion people. He would have had to have gotten up very early in the morning to have done that. Which we all know he didn’t because Ivan was a late sleeper. [I may or may not have made all of that up. And by “may or may not” I mean that it is 100% factual.]But it was something owned by Ivan the Terrible. And it was Terrible. And I did interject how Terrible it was. And by interject, I mean shrieked accidentally.)
There ain’t no party like an Ivan tea party.
I tell you what, though—that lady knew her stuff. She knew every piece in that museum (which is HUGE), down to the brocade on the last Tsarina’s slipper. And as a woman applying to Ph.D. programs in history, I can learn a lot from that kind of attention to detail. I would go back in a heartbeat. I hope she’s there. I’m bringing my buzzer from middle school Quick Recall.
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