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Thirty Three

Well, it’s finally happened.  I have reached the point in my life where my birthday is no longer the big deal I once thought it to be.  My birthday is this Friday and I will be spending eight and a half hours of it at my desk at work.  I’ll be attending a promotion ceremony for a coworker, chasing around civilians for their time cards, and fielding calls and emails that are too boring to even mention.  I have zero plans to go out and drink or party or get myself in trouble, although my husband is likely planning to do something amazing for dinner that evening.  All my excitement about the next few days is reserved for the two WWE events in June that my husband and I have tickets for, and the gifts that he’s worked so hard to make perfect.  But as far as my birthday itself?  Who cares?

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Let me assure you, my reluctance to make a big deal of a day that comes around every year has nothing to do with my desire to still be in my 20s, my inability to organize a perfect party, or my friends and family failing to make this into the huge production I secretly desire it to be.  I would much rather celebrate someone else’s big day and allow them to be the center of attention so I can enjoy myself than be the person of the hour and have all eyes on me.  I don’t expect my family to go for broke to make my birthday a huge deal and I’d feel horribly guilty if they ever did so.  I’m perfectly content with my age and the stage I’m currently at in life and sure as hell wouldn’t trade it for my 20s.  Unless we’re talking my metabolism from ten years ago, which I will gladly accept.

I’ve been watching an acquaintance of mine go crazy over her birthday, which is around the same time as mine.  She’s organizing two days of events and trying to get the maximum amount of people involved.  I keep seeing her stress about who is going to what event, who wants to do what, and a whole lot of other things that don’t seem like the kind of things one should worry about on a day they are meant to be having fun.  I won’t be going to her big event, as she scheduled it on my birthday and I feel weird about celebrating someone else’s day on my own with a bunch of her friends that I don’t know.  Unfortunately, my decision seems to have hurt her feelings, but I’d rather just have a quiet evening with my husband followed by some quality time with the child.

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Right now, there are so many amazing things set to happen that my birthday is the least of my worries or concerns.  Not only do we have a WWE Pay Per View to attend and a Raw to get to the following day, but we have some major life changes in our very near future that dwarf any birthday when compared side by side.  (Not a baby.  No one mention a baby.  There is no baby.)  It would be selfish of me to try to make this Friday into a big production when we have so many other things going on.  Not only do I not care about turning 33 all that much, I have no desire to put anything else on the back burner simply so I can feel like a princess for a few hours.  I don’t know what my husband has planned, but I know he’ll make me feel special and spoiled, and that is more than enough.

My birthday should be whatever I want it to be.  If I want it to be just another day, throw me a happy birthday wish and be done with it.  I promise it’s not some weird female trick in order to get presents and surprise parties.  Hell, you can even forget about it entirely and I won’t be put off or offended.  If I snap one day and try to organize the biggest party ever, you should decline to attend guilt-free if you so choose.  I’ve lost count of the birthday celebrations I’ve had to skip due to financial issues, scheduling conflicts, or just because I didn’t feel like going.  And that’s okay.  Birthdays shouldn’t be about how many people can be forced to celebrate your day.  It should be about what you want to do, who you want to do it with, and what kind of happiness you can find with whatever you receive.  The way I see it, as long as I’m smiling, the day went exactly as it should have.

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Eight Is Great

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My little boy turned eight years old yesterday!!  Like most parents, I am sitting here wondering where the time went.  It seems like only yesterday he was waking me up every two hours needing to be fed and changed.  Taking his first steps, saying his first words, and finding new ways to surprise me each and every day.  Since his birthday was on a Monday this year, we worked to make sure he had a fun weekend beforehand, filled with games and outings and anything else his heart desired.  Monday was all about the presents!

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My boy is a very curious and intelligent kid.  He’s always asking questions and always wanting to take the extra step to figure something out.  He’s very creative and never ceases to amaze me with the things he can come up with.  He’s also shaping up to be a very skilled writer, earning himself the title of Author Of The Month every year of his still short elementary school career.

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Like any kid, he is big into lots of toys and lots of sweets.  I think we definitely delivered on both.  He had a giant pile of presents, a brownie sundae at dinner, and a yummy chocolate cake.  Since he was way too excited for cake yesterday, I put some with his lunch today so he’ll have a nice chocolately surprise with his lunch today at school.  No doubt he’ll also be bragging to his friends about his day yesterday.

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Buying gifts for him now as an eight year old presents a little more of a challenge than it did in the years past.  He is very particular about his likes and dislikes.  He’s also (thankfully) polite enough to hide it when he’s not so impressed with a gift he gets.  No kid gets thrilled about a pack of underwear, but you couldn’t tell by his reaction when he opened that gift from his grandma.  Then again, it’s a bit hard not to get a little happy about superhero boxers.

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He is big into wrestling and constantly tosses around the idea of being a WWE Superstar when he’s older.  There’s no telling whether or not he’ll actually pursue that when he’s older, but I love how into it he is right now.  My hope is that he behaves well enough during the first half of the school year so I can get him into wrestling during the winter in his school.

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He is also a big fan of Legos, but who isn’t?  He’s become very skilled at following the instructions to quickly build various creations, and then taking it all apart to build his own from scratch.  Legos were a huge part of my childhood and it’s fun to see my boy having fun with them as well.  Just as long as he cleans up so they don’t end up lodged in the bottom of my foot late at night.

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He has become picky as well about the clothes he wears, the way his hair is styled, and about his overall appearance.  We try to be very lenient and allow him to pick and choose what he’ll wear and how his hair is cut.  He had a mohawk all summer that he just adored and currently has plans to grow his hair out so he can have “crooked hair” like he saw in a magazine at Sports Clips a month back.  We’ll see how that one goes.

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The gift he was most excited about was a Nintendo DS.  He has been wanting this thing for a couple of years now, but hasn’t managed to act responsible enough to get it until this year.  We were incredibly happy to finally get it for him.  His reaction was priceless!  Very grateful for Gamestop; we were able to get eight games for under $60 to get him started.

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Overall, I think he had a fantastic few days to celebrate his birthday.  He was up before I was this morning playing with the DS, so I think it’s safe to say that he loves the thing.  Our little boy is growing up and I love that kid to pieces.  Here’s hoping year eight is just as great as the previous seven.

One More Year

Today is my 32nd birthday!!  That feels so strange to type; I don’t feel 32 and I certainly thought that I would be a very different person at this age than I actually am.  I imagined myself as being very calm, somewhat boring, and mostly over doing things that I loved doing in my 20s.  Thankfully for the most part, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I have grown up a lot, but in a lot of ways, I’m the same person I always was.  Here are a few things I’ve learned while growing up:

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Jealousy is an utterly pointless emotion.  I used to be jealous of my pretty female friends.  I was jealous of celebrities that my boyfriends crushed on.  I was jealous of people with better cars, better clothes, and better lifestyles.  It took me meeting my friend Paula at Applebee’s to begin to overcome my jealousy.  She was (and is) a gorgeous blond who effortlessly gets the attention of anything on two legs.  She turned into a wonderful friend to me that helped me through a lot while I was a single mom.  I realized how silly it was for me to be jealous and initially resent her simply because she was attractive and captivating.  I overcame it further after getting married and being with a man who loved me, appreciated me, and thinks I’m the sexiest thing around.  We can share our appreciation of beautiful women without me feeling jealous, which is fantastic.

Teenagers were definitely better behaved when I was one.  This may just be an old person thing, but I’m positive that when I was a teenager, I wasn’t as much of a hot mess as the teenagers I see now.  Yes, I acted like a fool, but I can’t imagine that I was as much of a fool as the teens I see in the mall, in grocery stores, and on the street.  I’m sure I didn’t dress like a woman in her mid-20s when I was barely pushing sixteen.  I know I wasn’t carrying on in public, thinking I was a total bad ass.  I sure as hell wasn’t going crazy on AOL the way teens go wild on Facebook and Instagram.

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I have a lower tolerance for nonsense when it comes to people I associate with.  I used to be overly forgiving of my friends and ended up putting up with a lot that I shouldn’t have had to.  That has definitely become a thing of the past.  A couple of Halloweens ago, I ended a friendship with K and J after the pair blew off my husband and I and left us hanging after we had made plans months in advance.  It was a long time coming and I was tired of dealing with K’s piss poor attitude, exhausted with J hanging all over K like she was a god, and sick of them both thinking it was okay to be friends with an admitted pedophile (regardless of whether or not he dated 16-17 year olds, he bragged about it and that’s bad enough).  Almost a year ago, I grew tired of T disrespecting both myself, my husband, and his new girlfriend, our friend J.  T crossed the line in many ways and I finally had enough.  It cost me J’s friendship as well, but I didn’t feel that I should have to tolerate T’s nonsense and continue to be disrespected and surrounded by lies.  I see my friends as a reflection of me and I want to be surrounded by the best, even if that means I have a smaller circle of friends.

Cars have become about function rather than fashion.  I used to think that my car had to be perfect.  It had to be sleek and fast, something people stopped and turned their heads to see.  It needed to be up to date and something I could talk about with my peers.  It needed to be new and needed to make a statement.  After my beautiful blue Saturn was lost to me, I tried to recapture what I once had with it by buying a Mustang and constantly researching cars for a proper replacement.  It took a while for me to realize that the look isn’t what matters.  I need a car that can get me from A to B, can comfortably carry my son, husband and dog, and is reliable above all else.  If I find myself rich one day, then I can justify buying a flashy car, but it’s no longer something I need.

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I’m more appreciative of what I have.  I used to take a lot of things for granted.  I always assumed my parents would bail me out when things got rough, so I never worried too much about finances or any sort of crisis.  I thought things would go my way no matter what.  Until I lost everything when I couldn’t afford my rent and the payments on my storage unit in Connecticut, lost my car, lost my home, lost my yearbooks and other irreplaceable items, and felt like I lost everything.  Now I’m cautious to the point of paranoia, but I have a much greater appreciation for the home I share with my husband, for my awesome kid, my loving dog, and my wonderful husband who supports me at my lowest points.  Things I would have brushed aside years ago now mean the world to me.

My confidence has skyrocketed.  I was a nerd in school.  A four-eyed geek who was made fun of for playing recorder, taunted for being in the gifted program, and laughed at when I put too much effort into school projects.  It took me a long time to get comfortable in my skin and even longer for me to finally see myself as beautiful.  I learned that it doesn’t matter what other people think of me so long as I love myself.  I learned that sexy IS confidence and I can now walk into rooms with my head held high, without a care about what goes through the minds of people when they see me.  I’ve even learned to love the years where I was a nerd, an easy target for the popular crowd, because the things they made fun of weren’t really bad at all.

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Age really is just a number.  Getting older doesn’t mean that I have to follow a brand new set of rules.  I don’t have to stop listening to certain types of music or befriending no one but parents of my child’s schoolmates.  I don’t have to quit going to concerts or out for drinks with my friends in their 20s.  I can still cuss, raise hell, play video games, and tailgate at concerts.  I don’t have to act my age all of the time, just at times when it’s appropriate.  I don’t have to feel different just because my age has gone up one more number.  I don’t have to be ashamed to be 32.  It’s my birthday, damn it, and I’m going to party!  Since work and being a mommy are two things that don’t bend to birthdays, I’m going to be living it up next weekend instead.  Have a shot with me?

Ink Blots

My birthday is tomorrow.  A Thursday work day that I will be spending in my office doing the same thing I’m doing today.  I’m not really excited about my birthday itself since it’ll be just like any other day (except for my husband making an amazing dinner and pampering me a bit) but I am thrilled to pieces about the weekend of June 7th.  I will hopefully be seeing a friend that I haven’t seen in what feels like a decade, I will definitely be out somewhere for dinner, drinks, and possible entertainment, and I will also be getting my ninth tattoo.

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I’ve been itching for a new one for a little while now and I finally worked up the guts to get my planned art on the inside of my arm.  I’m in a bit of a hurry to get in the chair this time around because I don’t want to chicken out due to my fear of how awful it will be to ink that bit of sensitive skin.  And just as I have done with every other piece I’ve chosen to get etched onto my body, I am not telling a single soul what I plan to get.  My husband can probably take a guess at what it is since he helped me find the design over a year ago, but even he doesn’t know my full plans for it and what I wish to add to it.  The first person to know what it will be must be the artist, no matter what.

It is 1005 superstition that keeps me silent when it comes to planned ink.  I allowed myself to be talked out of at least half a dozen different things when I was planning to get my first.  Eventually I wised up, chose a design, and shut my big mouth until it was time to consult with the artist and get it done.  Getting a tattoo is a very personal decision and it’s unfair to the individual to have to deal with opinions and input from people who have no business telling you what you should and shouldn’t do with your body.  It is something you live with, and should be in your control, not the control of family, friends or coworkers.

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The reaction I got from people when I was planning my first tattoo and shared my ideas were always along these lines:  “Why?”  “I saw a girl with one like that before.”  “Um… okaaaaay.”  “You should get _____ instead.”  “Oh, don’t get [X color]; I hear it fades/hurts/scars.”  “You’re getting it there?  All right….”  “Tattoos are gross.”  It’s incredibly frustrating to keep up your level of excitement and enthusiasm for something when so many people are tearing at it, trying to knock it down.  Everyone has an opinion and they are going to give it to you whether you like it or not.  For me, the best way to avoid that is to keep the details under wraps.

The second reason I don’t like to divulge the details is that it’s hard to explain a design to someone properly.  I always have a vision in my head, one that goes beyond the design I present to the artist.  I’m always going in saying “I want something like this, only with X, Y and Z.”  The artist understands, but everyone else may not be so receptive to my idea.  I also can’t predict how the artist will interpret the design and what personal flare they will add to it.  My description beforehand will not do the finished product any justice.

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A huge part of me thinks that it’s simply bad luck to discuss the design prior to getting the work done.  I have no basis for this and nothing to make me think it’s ill-advised to do so, but a big part of me feels that if I discuss the design beforehand, it will get screwed up or I will be unable to get it.  If I want a dolphin, for example, and I tell everyone about my big dolphin plans, I feel that I’ll either get an artist who refuses to do it, an artist that makes it look like a worm, or the whole shop will be booked and I’ll be turned away.  It makes no sense, but that can be said about a lot of things that go on in my mind.

The bottom line is that I’m not refusing to tell people to be obnoxious or because I think it makes me look mysterious.  I know I confuse people with my silence on the matter and that isn’t my intention.  I just feel that the time to make the ink public is when it’s firmly pressed into my skin.  If you’re going to love it or hate it, you’re going to do so at a point where it’s too late for me to change my mind about it.  You’re not going to influence my decision or feelings on the matter, you’re simply going to be allowed to comment on the aftermath.

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Tattoos are a way for me to express myself and the things I’m passionate about.  They make me feel beautiful by altering my body in a way I find appealing.  They mean something to me that goes beyond what I reveal to the world.  They’re a hell of a lot of fun to get.  They are a part of my personality.  And for some reason, the entire planning phase is something I consider very private, even though the art itself will be public.  It needs only make sense to me.  I will always enjoy hearing about people’s ink ideas and seeing their designs, but I can’t join in the pre-party.  Don’t be offended when I don’t share; it’s not for a lack of wanting, it’s just something my crazy brain will not allow.

Fast Fun

About 27 years ago, on my fourth birthday, my parents took me to McDonald’s for a birthday party with my friends from the neighborhood.  It’s one of the few birthdays I had as a child that I still have crystal clear memories of.  This particular restaurant, in a small town on Long Island, New York, was split into two sections and partitioned by panes of glass with strategically placed doors to allow for convenient passage while still allowing parents to keep a close eye on their rowdy children.  On one side, customers would order their food and could sit and enjoy their meal in the same manner which we’re used to today.  On the other side, there was a massive indoor playground taking up two-thirds of the area.  Booths and tables hugged the glass wall and a second exit led outside to a fenced in outdoor playscape for warm and sunny days.

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Ronald McDonald made an appearance at my party, as he did for just about every birthday party at that location.  We had a woman, decked out in McDonald’s gear, who painted our faces with glittery paints.  My friends and I went down slides, climbed on every surface possible, spun each other around on the mini merry-go-round, and let our imaginations run wild.  Our food was brought to our tables by employees who also supplied us with an official McDonald’s cake.  I opened my presents, thanked my friends, and we quickly got sugared up and back to playing.  That birthday party is one of my favorite childhood memories.

When I was a child, I loved going out to various fast food restaurants, McDonalds or otherwise.  The food was never the focus though; the goal that my little brother and I always had in mind was finding the best playground and spending as much time as possible playing on it.  Food was simply the last obstacle we had to work through in order to get to that playground.  I can’t count the amount of belly aches I gave myself by cramming food down my throat in a rush to jump into the ball pit, slide down the fireman pole, or climb up the miniature rock wall.  We didn’t love fast food joints for the food, we loved them for the play.

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My son is not quite as lucky as I was when it comes to fast food restaurants and their appeal.  I can count on one hand the amount of fast food establishments we have been in together where he’s been able to hit the playground after our meal.  The majority of restaurants either have no playscape to speak of or have one that is so poorly maintained that I cannot allow him to play on it without fear of him hurting himself or getting sick from the various bodily fluids left behind by gross little kids.  The latter is rarely a problem though, as I can’t remember the last time we’ve been in a place that has had any type of play area, indoor or outdoor.  The closest we’ve gotten in the past year is our local Burger King putting in brightly colored children’s chairs in order to create a sort of lounge area around a television set on the wall.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when the decline happened, but I went from seeing brightly colored playscapes all over the place and seeing restaurants compete to have the best one to seeing playgrounds torn down and replaced with additional seating or possibly an outdoor picnic areas.  Instead of slides, fast food is giving us flat screen televisions on every wall so we have something interesting to look at.  No one wants our children to come in, have a meal, and play for a while.  They want our children to outgrow kid-sized meals as quickly as possible so they spend more money.  They want our children to get extras off the value menu to supplement their meal, possibly also adding a milkshake or other dessert.  They want us to sit, stuff our faces, and leave as quickly as possible.  Or, in an extra effort to keep their contact with us to a minimum, they will add an extra drive-thru lane in order to encourage us to go that route and not even set foot inside the doors.

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Fast food isn’t exactly healthy.  Their establishments aren’t known for being warm and comfortable.  We don’t enter a fast food restaurant thinking of having a relaxing night out or bonding with our family.  It’s known for being quick and easy, and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever.  But what was wrong with having more?  What is the harm in having a special area for children to be children?  With having families anxious to get inside to grab one of the coveted tables near the playscape so they can relax as their kids cut loose?  Were establishments hurting that bad for space that it didn’t make sense to waste it on a slide or two?  Did maintenance on a plastic playground eat away that much of their profits?  Why is it now so rare for me to see these playgrounds?

I find it incredibly sad that the general public would rather have 12 inch flatscreen televisions mounted to the walls as they eat their burger and fries than have a fun area where their children can burn off some of the calories gained from the chicken nuggets and honey mustard dipping sauce.  We’ve taken a lazy activity — ordering and eating fast food — and made it even lazier by subtracting the one thing that would allow our children to get a bit of exercise, and possibly us too if our children are rowdy enough.  We made a two-part experience into a boring trip that is about nothing but the unhealthy food.  I’m grateful that my childhood was filled with playgrounds, but it breaks my heart a bit to know that this particular area of our world is nowhere near the same for my own child.

I Wanna Be On TV

For my husband’s 28th birthday, we scored floor tickets to WWE’s Survivor Series.  Having only been to Smackdown before, we were both beyond thrilled to be able to go to a Pay Per View event and an event that is the second longest running PPV in the history of the WWE, second only to Wrestlemania.  As soon as we received our tickets in the mail, I decided I was going on a mission to get my sign on TV.  There are some seriously crappy signs that get on the air, possibly in part because many fans like the ones below wait until they’re in the parking lot to put ink to paper:

The crazy side of me wanted to dive in right away and make a sign immediately, but I managed to have some self-control and waited until the week prior.  Self control and the fact that none of the matches were set in stone until then.  My idea was to make a Team Foley sign in support of the face team for the traditional Survivor Series match.  Each letter of “TEAM” represented a different member (Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan and Kane of Team Hell No, Randy Orton, and The Miz), with “FOLEY” obviously representing the hard-core legend:

Nearly eight hours of my life spent on this sign.  That’s either dedication or lunacy, but either way, it was done and I was pretty pleased with the results.  It paid off before we even entered the arena, with two people stopping me outside to take photos of it and two people inside asking as well.  When the match was set to begin, this damn thing went in the air and stayed there until the final wrestler had entered the ring and my arms were burning from holding them up.  Thankfully, it paid off!  I got this thing on camera!

I’m a midget, so you can only tell it’s me by the tattoo (and the fact that it’s my sign) but the goal wasn’t ME on TV, it was the sign.  They zoomed in on it and stayed there for a few seconds.  Later on, after the unfortunate fall of Team Foley, you can see me again behind a very sad Randy Orton:

Double win!  I know it’s a small accomplishment, if you can even call it one, but it was awesome nonetheless.  I had my little goal in sight and I reached it.  Something I did is on that PPV tape forever, will hopefully also be on the DVD, and is on a few random fan’s cameras.  Not too shabby.

*Pats self on back*

I DID IT!!!!!

Press Your Luck

Last year, my husband and I didn’t do too much to celebrate his birthday.  I had only been at my new job for a few months and most of what was left of my paychecks was going towards catching up on bills and preparing for Christmas.  As a result, his birthday was less than thrilling.  Thankfully, 2011 was a good year to us financially and my husband was able to plan a trip to Tennessee for my 30th birthday.  It was an absolute blast and I wanted to do something for his 27th both as a thank you and to make up for last year.  Since his birthday was on a Friday and our little one would be gone that weekend, I decided to plan a stay-cation to the Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson, Indiana.  Time to put on my game face!

I knew that if I told him in advance that we were going to the casino, he’d hold money back that he could spend on other things and I really didn’t want him blowing a lot of his own cash on his birthday.  I immediately put aside $200 for each of us for gambling money and began sending invites to all our friends.  I booked a king suite at the Holiday Inn Express which I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area.  I coordinated an overnight stay for our dog and decided on the restaurant based on what were probably poorly veiled questions to my husband.  He had no idea where we were going until we left and I gave him his chunk of cash.

One of the first things he said was “We should invite some people!”  I played it off, saying people were busy and couldn’t make it.  We arrived at the hotel around 4pm.

It didn’t take us long to get settled in and to Clorox just about every surface; we don’t trust the cleaning services 100% anywhere we go.  I gave him a bottle of Crown Royal, which you can see above, and began making small talk about what we were going to do.  Two of our friends were going to surprise him by knocking on the door at 4pm, but they were held up by an hour due to traffic so I went through everything I could think of to convince my husband to stay in the room just a little longer.  Our reservations for dinner weren’t until 7pm so that another friend could make it, so I couldn’t even properly answer his question when he asked why it was so late.  Honestly, it was the most stressful hour I’ve had in a while!

My hubby’s frustration (can you tell?) was worth it though because he lit up like a Christmas tree when he looked through the peephole and saw his friends in the hallway.  They came bearing gifts as well; a hands-free Purell dispenser which is absolutely perfect for my husband.  After a bit of chatting, we piled into the car and headed down the road to the casino.

One of our first stops was the Double R bar located right in the middle of the casino.  They have just about every alcohol imaginable and feature a different drink special each month.  After a drink and a bit of gambling with the automated card games built into the bar, we decided to join Club Centaur, the rewards program for frequent gamblers.  There was a car giveaway that night so we figured we didn’t have anything to lose.  Well, other than the cash we’d be feeding into the slots.  Signing up gave us a fancy card with our name on it and an attached cord so we could wear it around our neck or whatever it is the kids are doing these days.  We received $5 in casino cash and a coupon book for future visits.  My husband also got a super fancy Happy Birthday necklace with flashing lights.  I can’t decide if he was happy about it or not.

7pm couldn’t come fast enough!  The last of our group met us at the Homestretch Steakhouse, which is located right by the horse track.  We had an amazing view and made a mental note to come back when there are races.  I ordered a Presidential martini due to the recommendations on various websites and while I was surprised to enjoy the blue cheese stuffed olives, I think the martini is just too strong for my tastes.  My husband and I started out with seared ahi tuna with spicy mayonnaise; heaven on a plate!  He had a bowl of lobster bisque; he offered me a bite and I nearly stole his bowl, it was creamy and flavorful.  We both ordered the Filet Oscar for our main course; a 6 ounce steak aged 21 days and cooked to perfection, topped with butter and served with a side of perfectly cooked asparagus topped with fresh crab meat and hollandaise.  Without a doubt, this was the best meal I have ever eaten.  After our plates had been cleared, sous chef Terrance Hazard came to our table and serenaded my husband with a beautifully sung Happy Birthday, followed by a group picture on the stairs.  I couldn’t have asked for a better dining experience and I’m so glad my husband was happy!  Now that our bellies were full, it was on to more drinks and some serious gambling.

By serious gambling, I mean penny slots.  I have a hard time making myself put a large chunk of cash into any machine and prefer to bet a few pennies at a time so I can gamble longer.  I have never come out of this casino with empty pockets, but my husband tends to lose more than he wins.  I hoped that he would have a bit of birthday luck and hit big.  Sure enough, he eventually found a machine that agreed with him and won a nice chunk of money towards the end of our evening.

While my husband was busy winning us a down payment on a new car, one friend and I began wandering around and nearly ran into Gary from Teen Mom.  It was overly hilarious to our inebriated brains, especially since we had been talking about Teen Mom in the hotel before heading to the casino.  Of course, the natural thing to do was to follow him and try to get a photo.  Blame the Long Islands.

Two of our friends stayed in the same hotel as us and stopped by our room to eat some Arby’s and take a few shots of Crown.  We had a lot of laughs and my husband and I ended the night on a great note.  I consider myself very lucky to be able to have little getaways like this with the man who I love.  Happy Birthday, baby.  I love you.

Life Begins At… Where Again?

I read yesterday that Mississippi will be voting shortly on a constitutional amendment that declares a fertilized human egg a legal person.  This “could effectively brand abortion and some forms of birth control as murder” according to The New York Times, who also report that “the amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest, and some birth control methods, including IUDs and “morning-after pills” that prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.” 

Upon conception, a fertilized egg is nothing more than a ball of unspecialized cells.  During the 5th and 6th weeks of pregnancy you begin to see the first signs of liver and lung formation as well as changes to prepare for ears and a mouth to grow, the arm buds form, and you have a bit of a tail.  In the 8th week, fingers and toes become apparent but are still webbed, the brain is developing, and genitalia begins to form.  The end of this week also marks the beginning of the fetal period, where most organs are present but still developing and operating at minimum.  The brain and nervous system don’t begin operating rapidly until week 27; activity prior to then is mostly simple reflexes and jerk reaction to stimuli.  It is at this point of major brain activity that I consider the fetus to be a person, as do many courts who have made certain cases double homicides when the mother is far enough along in her pregnancy that the fetus could survive outside the womb had it been given the chance.  Prior to that though, regardless of the joy parents feel once they learn they are expecting, what you are carrying isn’t legally or developmentally a person.  Not just yet.

Abortions are risky but they are no more dangerous than childbirth itself when performed in the first trimester, and some consider an abortion to be even safer than childbirth because there is a lesser amount of stress put on the body among other reasons.  There are women in this world who use abortion as a form of birth control, terminating pregnancies left and right because they are too irresponsible to use proper protection.  I don’t agree with abortion in this type of situation, but I also don’t oppose it because it is their right to do what they wish with their body.  They are not murdering a child nor are they taking someone’s life.  They can walk into a clinic and terminate as many pregnancies as they choose.  While I might think they’re irresponsible in their behavior, it’s not my place to comment to them on it nor is it my place to try to stop them.

What Mississippi is proposing is irrational; their argument is emotionally based rather than factually based.  They propose we decide that a sperm and an egg that joined just yesterday is the same thing as you and I, the same thing as my son and my husband.  They propose that the morning after pill, Plan B and others, should be illegal even though these pills do NOT terminate an existing pregnancy, but prevent it from happening which rids the body of nothing more than a few cells that have yet to implant and begin forming anything close to resembling a human being.  They propose that if I am raped by a strange man or a relative, I am stuck with my rape and/or incest baby because it’s the right thing to do, completely disregarding my emotional state and the fact that seeing this baby may make me insane, as it would be a constant reminder that I was violated.

Whether or not I have a baby is up to me, my husband, and partially my doctor as he or she would be there to advise me of negative consequences of conception and birth.  The government doesn’t have any say over my uterus and what I choose to keep in there or take out of there.  In general, abortions can be performed during the first trimester of pregnancy, before the fetus is well-developed and well before it can survive outside of the womb.  This is the safest time for it to be performed and there is no reason whatsoever that any female should be denied an abortion so long as she’s of age and is physically fit to undergo the procedure.  She should not be called a murderer or chastised for her decision.  She should not have the government ruling her own body.

If I had a miscarriage at 22 weeks, my baby that would have been will not receive a death certificate because there was no birth certificate.  We don’t celebrate our day of conception, we celebrate birthdays.  I’m not 31, I’m 30 because my life began when I made my appearance at the hospital in New York and not when my parents decided it was baby making time.  You can’t claim your unborn baby on taxes because they don’t exist yet and have no social security number.  What Mississippi is proposing simply doesn’t fit with the way society works.  If life truly begins when that one lucky sperm burrows into an egg, then everything above and more must change as well.

Mississippi is proposing this amendment because they don’t like abortions.  Well, I don’t like traffic but that doesn’t mean we should pass a law to keep nonessential people off of the roads.  Abortion is a touchy issue and although I happen to support a woman’s right to choose, I have zero problem with people who are pro-life so long as they aren’t the extreme idiots who bomb clinics and murder doctors in between protests.  We all have our opinions about it, but an opinion and a feeling shouldn’t dictate the law.  It’s not wrong to terminate a pregnancy in the 8th week, it just makes certain people sad.  It’s not dangerous to terminate in the first trimester (and sometimes later) but it is very dangerous to allow government to have this control over us as well as to force women to seek abortion in dangerous places since they are unable to obtain one legally.

For every pro-life argument I hear I can think of two pro-choice counterpoints.  In an ideal world we would have no murder and no premature death and no disease or heartache.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a Pixar movie.  There are so many more important things for Mississippi and other states to do with their time other than find ways to ban abortions.  Rather than try and protect kids before they even come kids, how about spending time assisting children in our country who live in poverty, are abused and neglected, are born addicted to drugs because their mother couldn’t quit, who don’t receive proper education, who go hungry, who have disabilities and don’t get the proper assistance, or the countless other issues facing today’s youth.

I feel as though this push for government to control whether or not women can get an abortion is just one step down a slippery slope of insane controls to be handed over to the government.  Should they also tell me what method I must use during childbirth; can I use an epidural or must I use the water birthing method?  Will they allow use of condoms or will that be some sort of manslaughter since thousands of potential baby making sperm are going to waste?  How far will it be allowed to go?  I can only hope that the majority of people out there feel as I do and this insane vote to amend the constitution becomes ancient history.

UPDATE 11/9/11:   Mississippi voters Tuesday rejected a controversial amendment that would have defined life as beginning at conception.

Creating Karma

Last Sunday was D’s birthday, one of the Goodwill janitorial workers in the building where I work.  He was very excited about it the Friday beforehand and reminded me a bit of the way my son gets around his birthday, despite the fact that he’s at least a decade older than I.  He was giddy and all smiles, proudly walking the halls with a birthday balloon given to him by one of his coworkers.  D has a lot going on in his life and the lives of his children, enough to warrant a foul mood, but he manages to stay upbeat nearly all the time.  He’s drawn many pictures for my husband, my son and myself; various comic book and movie characters on large poster board.  He’s one of the few truly nice people you’ll meet in this building.

I wanted to do a little something for him but was pretty limited with a doctor appointment for my son coming up that I’m paying cash for, my son’s birthday, a concert, and a bucketload of bills.  I bought him a little birthday card and enclosed $5.  I taped the bottom of the card’s envelope to three mini notebooks and taped 2 clicky gel pens to the top of the envelope.  D can’t speak and relies on a pad of paper and a pen he carries around to communicate, so I figured he could definitely use them.  I know $5 isn’t much, but maybe he could buy himself lunch or something.  I thought something was better than nothing, but still felt like it was kind of a crummy gift.


I gave it to D during his round of emptying trash, so he had to take it with him and open it once he was completed.  Ten minutes later he came back into the office and wrote “Thank you so much, you are my best friend in this place!”  All smiles, bouncing around, and all over a few notepads, a couple of pens, and barely enough cash for a value meal.  It’s nice to give something to someone who appreciates the gesture and who is genuinely grateful for being thought of.  Something that seems so insignificant to me can be invaluable to someone else.  It’s a good feeling knowing that you were able to put a smile on someone’s face.

I often say karma is a bitch, but maybe karma can also be a friend.  I feel great for doing what I did for D, small as it may have been.  I’ve been doing my best since last Friday to create a peaceful vibe between me and my office nemesis, Paula Deen, which has allowed me to still keep my distance while not feeling uncomfortable around her or feel anger towards her; this small effort has greatly reduced my urge to punch her in the face and allows me to relax during the workday rather than be on edge all the time.  I bit my tongue in the car this morning, put a lid on the road rage and refrained from cussing at the buses that created a mess of traffic that made me 15 minutes late to work; when I arrived, I discovered that my boss was out for the day and obviously wouldn’t notice that I was late, so any anger I had this morning would have been for nothing.  They’re all small things, sure, but maybe these little positive things are creating a bit of positive karma for me and making things overall seem much better.

My husband tells me all the time that I need to calm down, I worry too much, I stress over things that shouldn’t be issues, and I’m going to give myself a heart attack.  He knows he’s usually right, so no need for me to say it.  I’ve found peace by letting people go or avoiding certain activities, but I’ve never been able to find peace around things I can’t avoid.  Or I suppose I should say, I’ve never been able to find it until now.  Glaring at the car ahead of me won’t make it go any faster, hating a person I’m forced to be around won’t make them more likable, stressing over money won’t put more in my wallet, and worrying about things I can’t change won’t allow me to magically make changes.  Maybe all I can do is try to make positives out of negatives, value my friends, and try to put a smile on a stranger’s face now and again, hoping that the good energy I put out there somehow makes it back to me.

21 And Done

Tonight my husband and I are joining a friend to celebrate her 21st birthday.  Yes, I’m in my 30s celebrating a 21st birthday.  This girl is wise beyond her years though, as is her brother, so the age gap isn’t as unworkable as it may sound.  That being said, it’s a bit exciting and a bit strange to be celebrating the birthday that ushers in adulthood knowing that I celebrated mine a little over nine years ago.

It almost feels as though 21 year old Jamie existed on a different planet than I do now.  My first (legal) drink as a 21 year old was a chocolate martini at Dave & Busters.  I haven’t been back there since and I’ve since lost my taste for that martini type.  The second half of my birthday was spent at the Globe, a strip club in Atlanta.  I couldn’t tell you if it’s still there or not, as I haven’t been back to that one or any other since.  It was great fun, but if I want to see a naked chick, I can strip for my husband.  Or watch The Real L Word on Showtime.  That and I doubt my slightly germaphobic tendencies would tolerate a bare ass lap dance.

21 year old me worked at Shoe Carnival as a Department Lead.  I made around $700 every two weeks.  Every Wednesday we received a truck and I had a breakfast of a donut or two with 64 ounces of sugary lemonade or regular Mt. Dew.  I think I’d lapse into a coma if I attempted that now.  With my half of my apartment’s rent set at $325 and a monthly car payment of $350, my check tended to vanish quickly.  Still, even after bills were paid and groceries were bought, I still managed to have enough money left over for a 6 pack of Coronas or a case of Natty Ice.  I miss those bills, the simplicity of it all, never worrying about money because I had all I needed and only me to worry about.  I love my family, don’t get me wrong, but my monthly daycare payment costs more than all my bills back then combined.  It messes with my head a bit to think about it.

At 21, I attended Georgia State University, majoring in Film and Video.  I commuted there twice a week and worked the other 5 days.  I should have my degree, but shit happened and I’m just now making plans to go back to school; I’ll be making my first tuition payment in a few weeks and starting my studies shortly afterward.  College was fun and an experience I’m glad I had, but unlike some people, I can’t say they were the best years of my life.  Breaking away from my parents, living on my own, I cut loose and acted like an idiot and it WAS fun but it wasn’t quality time spent with quality people.  There’s a reason I didn’t keep in touch with anyone from my college days.

My roommate situation (if you can call it that) has definitely improved since 21.  In case you haven’t guessed it, I live with my amazing husband, an almost 6 year old ball of energy, and the cutest dog to ever exist.  9 years ago, I started off with an alcoholic roommate who was 10 years my senior and set ground rules on when my boyfriend of 2 years could come visit.  Numerous times I would come home to find him drunk on the floor, having stolen my bottle of Jack or gotten into my beer.  Picture me as a 125 pound chick trying to drag an almost 500 pound man off of the living room floor and into his bedroom.  Eventually he moved out; one day while I had classes at GSU, he moved all his furniture out even taking the cheap plastic trash can, and shut the lights and water off to leave me to come back to a half empty apartment.  My roommate immediately following him was a friend who confessed he was in love with me right after he got engaged, causing me to panic and be harsh with him, resulting in him moving out.  It just got worse from there.  With my husband, I have stability in a great place that we’re in the process of improving on; we have brand new couch ready to be delivered, somewhat like this one:

Since 21 I’ve quit smoking, broken ties with negative influences, started a plan to save for the future and begun acting more career minded as opposed to only being focused on the paychecks.  I’ve mostly lost my ear for techno music and totally lost my taste for raves.  I’ve separated myself from my parents (long story there) and been able to get in touch with the person that was deep inside myself, eager to escape.  At 21, I devised a horrible plan for revenge that resulted in someone being fired from their job, a behavior I wouldn’t even consider doing now; revenge at this point is simply living well and better than my nemesis.  I no longer make horrible jager bombs like I did back then, but I do still drink properly proportioned ones.  I take my vitamins every day.  I prefer mini golf over a noisy club where I get my ass grabbed by strangers, beers and bowling over keg parties at frat houses, and drinks at home with friends over a crazy cookout with 50 people I don’t know.  I hope that doesn’t make me old.

The main thing I’ve realized about where I was and where I am is that at this exact moment in time, I am secure and confident and I know exactly who I am and what I want.  I do things that make me happy, not things that I hope will impress others.  I don’t care if dark denim is soooo out this year, if I like it I’m going to wear it and you can look at me sideways all you’d like.  Quality time isn’t measured by how large the party was but by who was there with me.  I live for myself and my son and husband now; the single-minded attitude of youth is gone.  That being said, I still yell FUCK at the top of my lungs while playing Black Ops on XBox live, get drunk and way too loud with friends while out at a bar, obsess over stickers, and occasionally wear my Converse with a skirt.  My early 20s are gone, but I think I managed to hold on to a little piece of my 21 year old psycho irresponsible self.  Let’s hope it continues to keep me young.

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