Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

Okay, I admit it: I’ve registered on both eHarmony and okcupid in my quest for a life mate. Doing so was never on any imaginable to-do list, but neither was a divorce. I tried eHarmony for about three months. Though I requested matches within 50 miles of my hometown of Louisville, KY, by far the majority of my matches were from many states away. Since I am divorced and share custody of my daughter, moving is totally out of the question for my foreseeable future, so my eHarmony matches were pretty useless.

As is probably not unexpected, here’s some of what I found on okcupid, a free online matching service:

okcupid: The most private thing I’m willing to admit here
weirdo#1: I’m a closet exhibitionist. No, I don’t expose myself from a trench-coat, but I have this fantasy of being naked in public.

And this guy “woo-ed” me and sent me a photo of himself butt-naked with his hands to cover his private areas. Eeewwww!

I shouldn’t be surprised about any of this, of course. I know that. Even my 17-year-old niece knows there’s a better way. Her suggestion:

Do what God would have you do, keep your focus on and run towards Him. Pretty soon, you’ll look to your right or your left and find the person God meant for you, pursuing a similar goal. That’s when you’ll find your life mate.

Yes, she’s only 17. No, she doesn’t understand the challenges a divorced woman faces, especially when children are involved. But her advice is so much more manageable than freaks on online dating sites, and her method for finding your soul-mate is so much more palatable than the debauchery of the bar scene.

I think I’ll stick to volunteering at the local homeless shelter, co-managing my church’s web site, and taking writing and technology courses at the university I work for: all the things I think God is calling me to do.

What will you do?

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Recently, my friend Tiffany tagged me with a meme to write my memoir in six words. While you’re supposed to tag other bloggers once you’ve been tagged, I really don’t have that many co-bloggers at the moment to tag, or they’ve already been taken. Here are the rules:

1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog; include a visual illustration if you’d like
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Here is the memoir I would leave today. I’m positive it will change tomorrow or the next day. But for now, here ya go:

Creative writer craves deliverance from evil.

I’m not always this serious or intense when describing myself, but recent events have left me feeling precisely as my memoir suggests.

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No Pain, No Gain

So what’s a woman to do when it’s 1:00 a.m. on a work night, and sleep is not even plausible? Imaginable? Possible?

Read about, listen to, and observe hilarious images of Tony Stewart’s Back Waxing for charity. Just go to the link above, click on the words “Click here for audio clips and photos,” and then click on the button that reads: Tony’s back wax Montage: Listen at your own risk! Do I need to explain the red-colored font? Okay, okay… Take a look at Tony’s back in the middle image. Think purple would have been a more appropriate color choice?

BikiniI’m no masochist, but having waxed areas somewhat more sensitive than one’s back in preparation for “bikini season,” I have to laugh at the baby-like screams of this tough guy getting his back waxed. Come on, Tony! You’re a wimp!

For additional entertainment, google “waxing” images. The lengths some people will go to for beauty truly are amazing!

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Okay, call me crazy! I’ve got two wonderful boy kitties–Tigger and Bubbles–and a, well, some would say not-so-wonderful bichon frise girlie girl dog, Sparkle.

Look for yourself:

TiggerThis is Tigger–always regal looking, but a big baby at heart.

Bubbles Bubbles, aka Mr. Fatty, has a squishy jello-belly, long hairs between his toes, and a surprisingly bossy disposition.

Laura and Sparkle Here’s my baby girl when I first brought her home. Even now, she’s smaller than my boys, and she’s full grown!

What more could a single mother who’s living in a 980-square-foot condo want?

Hee, hee, hee… (more…)

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It’s Easter Sunday, arguable one of my favorite days of any calendar year, and I spent the evening watching SoutheastThree Crosses Christian Church’s Easter Pageant. (For images, go here.) Keep in mind, I can be a little biased about this drama, having been in the pageant twice before–once as a townsperson and once as an angel. Also, both my niece and my brother-in-law are in it this year. So you might think it’d be hard for me to be objective. However, balance that with the numerous bad reviews I got from several people who saw it before tonight, my 12-year-old daughter included. (more…)

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10. I traveled to Ghana, West Africa, in the summer of 1987 as part of a team of volunteers from Operation Crossroads Africa. I also served as a missionary for the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Kentucky, which allowed me to travel solo for two weeks, visiting my Christian brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Ghana. An unfortunate predicament of the Crossroads portion of the trip was that Crossroads staffers (certainly knowingly) permitted the daughter of Malcolm X (Malaak Shabazz) and the daughter of the attorney who freed Malcolm X’s assassin to be placed on the same team: mine. There were some nasty interchanges throughout the trip.

9. I’ve spent 38 days as an in-patient and 28 days as an out-patient in a total of three psychiatric hospitals over the past four years. Yippee for me! I have seen the trauma of adultery carved across the face of a young woman who was sure she should never be forgiven; witnessed a perfectly coiffed professional woman collapse as she tried in vain to ward off the voices in her head that were telling her she must die to rid the world of its sins; and languored (my new verb) as I begged God not to let a particularly troubled young woman regain custody of her three small children.

8. In 1988, as part of an honors thesis, I conducted anthropological research on the staff of St. John Day Center, a new (at the time) homeless shelter for men only that was open 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. In 2007, I returned to St. John to serve my homeless brothers, some of whom remember me from way back when. In 1988, I interviewed one man in particular–I’ll call him John–and learned of his struggles with schizophrenia and rape charges. In 2008, I re-introduced myself to John and learned that he’s been in his own apartment for ten years and feels very “blessed” for all God has done for him. He smiled broadly when he realized I had taken such an interest in him years ago.

7. While serving God by serving my homeless brothers and sisters at the Jefferson Street Baptist Shelter, I had the privilege of spending the day with “Tom,” a deaf man from New York who just needed some glasses and a haircut. Having been away from the deaf community for some time, I found it was difficult at first to communicate. However, as the day moved on, my signing skills improved. By the end of the day, I was signing with three or four other people and making another whole set of friends.

6. Bottom on the totem pole and perhaps most likely not to succeed (in the popularity sense), I still managed to beat Heidi Hawkins in the race for Freshman Class Secretary at Atherton High School in 1979. Mind you, it was very fortunate that I gave my speech behind a podium: Had my classmates seen my knees knocking uncontrollably, they would’ve laughed me out of the auditorium. I managed to deliver a flawless speech despite my obnoxious classmate “Fuzzy” making ridiculous faces at me while I spoke. (That is precisely why you’re not supposed to look at anybody when you’re on stage. You’re supposed to look just over their heads so you can avoid their unsolicited feedback.)

5. Sewing is one of those things that I’ve done for so long, it’s just no problem to pick it up, even after years without making anything. I’ve made everything from the tiniest doll baby clothes, to business dresses, and even a motorcycle seat cover. Some of my talents in this area are: cross-stitching; embroidery; smocking; dress-making; home decor items such as cornices, curtains, seatcovers, and pillows; knitting. I’m guessing most of you have never made a motorcycle seat cover before!

4. You know you know a language well when you can dream in that language… or at least that’s what Burnelle Espenshade, my St. Francis High School French teacher, told me. While no longer even remotely close to being conversational in any language except English, I’ve dreamt in French and American Sign Language. Dreaming in sign language is quite entertaining, for the dreamer and witness alike.

3. On the trip to Ghana mentioned earlier, I had the distinct and special privilege of being able to mediate while my cab driver and a man along the road negotiated whether or not said cab driver should purchase said man’s along the road kill for dinner. What was that night’s specialty? A gargantuan rat-like mammal that’s bigger than my dog, Sparkle (a bichon, shown elsewhere on this site). The two men were conversing in another language, while I sat in the passenger’s seat next to the open window, where the rat was dangling from the road guy’s raised hand.

2. In the winter storm of 1994, I had just started working at a hospital as a nursing assistant. I was taking organic chemistry, preparing to enter nursing school (which I decided against within a month of working in the hospital). It snowed 17 inches in Louisville, and the roads were, obviously, impassable–at least for cars. Eager to impress my boss for some unknown reason, my husband and I rode our mountain bikes to my work so I could help out. That was a memorable week at the hospital, with administrators and others on the business side of the hospital helping by cooking and serving meals for the patients. The camaraderie shown by all the workers in that difficult situation was memorable.

1. Way back when in 1987, while working for my sister’s future father-in-law at a local pharmacy, I was robbed at gun-point by two men wearing “pancake” make-up (aka foundation) and gray women’s wigs. It was early October–way too early to be dressing up for Halloween–and I knew the instant they walked in that they were going to rob us. The pharmacist was busy with a customer and completely clueless to what was about to happen. One guy approached the pharmacist and the customer and escorted them behind the counter. The other guy came to my register and demanded money. While you’d think I’d freak out and cry or get flustered or something, I managed pretty well. I looked the guy directly in the eyes, studied his facial features so I could recognize them later, and casually removed the money. I even took a moment to ask the guy if he wanted the checks too! Ha ha! Then he escorted me behind the counter. This is when I got nervous. I was terrified he was going to shoot me in the back as I walked to the counter. He didn’t. When we got back there, the other guy–who I also studied–was flashing a silver gun around, demanding Delodid–a powerful painkiller that was (maybe still is) a hot ticket item on the street. He told the customer and me to lay face-down on the floor spread-eagle. The customer was crying hysterically, but I still managed to hear the pharmacist tell the robber that he didn’t have any Delodid in the store. Not convinced, the robber said, “Give me your Delodid, or I’ll blow your head off.” The pharmacist replied, “Oh, yeah, I think I do have some here in the safe.” The nerve of the pharmacist! I was appalled that despite being told by his wife and co-owner during training that I should always give the robbers whatever they asked for, this pharmacist chose to risk all of our lives to avoid being out the cost of the Delodid. To this day, I am always nervous being in retail stores at closing time, especially when I’m one of the employees.

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Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.

The nearest book to me when I read this meme was Imaginative Writing by Janet Burroway. Unfortunately, I would be inserting the dialog of a play, which I’m afraid won’t tell you anything about me or my interests. (Although the book itself suggests my interest in creative writing.) The Center Cannot HoldInstead, I’ve chosen the next closest book: The Center Will Not Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks, an endowed professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law who has risen to the top of her game despite her “grave” diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Find page 123.
Page 123 is in Chapter 9, which I haven’t gotten to yet. At this point in the book, the author is in Yale Law School, rooming with someone named Emily, and missing her regular correspondence with someone else named Mrs. Jones. I don’t know anything about either of these people yet.

Find the first five sentences.
The first five complete sentences start in the second paragraph of page 123. Here, Ms. Saks is explaining how much she misses being able to vent with Mrs. Jones and how she’d be too embarrassed to call her now because her perfect little roomie, Emily, might think her weird.

Post the next three sentences.
The next three sentences read:

In addition, I wasn’t in any sort of treatment or therapy, or taking any kind of medication. There were plenty of indications that I should do something–talk to somebody, take some kind of pill. I knew that much; I was not, after all, stupid. But pills were bad, drugs were bad.

The interesting thing about these sentences is that they tell a story that many, many people with mental illness struggle with: the belief that they are somehow weak because of their illness. Many of us spend years trying to talk/pray/plead ourselves out of our illness, all along missing the evidence that God is trying to reach us via our medications and doctors. I’m reminded of the joke–which I’ll paraphrase very briefly–where a shipwrecked man ignores the offers of help by three boaters, claiming he’s waiting for God, only to find when he reaches heaven’s gate that God had sent these people to him. God works through people, medications, and countless other ways to help us in our battles with mental illness.

Tag five people.
Fortunately for you–or whomever–I don’t remember how to tag someone, so this post will just have to suffice as an interesting tidbit of information you’ve learned about me.

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I debated about whether to take my 12-year-old to see “Juno,” but I’m really glad I did. The story of a girl who becomes pregnant at 16 by her best friend who is not her boyfriend may seem a little mature for the middle school crowd. However, with the recent news splash about Jamie Lynne Spears’ pregnancy circulating through the halls of Barret TMS, I thought I’d go out on a limb.

I’m glad I did. Yeah, the movie did depict “the” sex scene, but it was done without obscene nudity. All you see are bare legs and his bare chest. The language has some teen-age-style sexual vulgarity, but most of it obviously went over my daughter’s head. Juno, played by Ellen Page, is the off-beat but confident eleventh-grader; her boyfriend, played by Michael Cera, is teen-age awkwardness at its best. Juno’s dry, straight-to-the-point sense of humor is hysterical and was enjoyed by mother and daughter alike. Her naivety and innocence are endearing. She’s made up of just enough cool to make you want to watch the movie and the perfect dosage of sensibility to make actually learning something from its message a sure thing.

The story line–like your “average” pregnancy–is so not typical. Juno faces numerous decisions throughout the film; it isn’t only about whether or not she will keep the baby. It’s about life, consequences, love, family, communication, and more. This isn’t a fairy tale flick: It isn’t all sweetness with a clean story line. Movie-goers get to see genuine parents reacting plausibly to their daughter’s ill-timed news, and you’ll witness Juno growing up fast in a world filled with complexities she couldn’t anticipate.

Again, these were big issues to introduce to my 12-year-old, but the movie theater offered a nice venue for broaching the subject of sex and teen-age pregnancy in a low-stress way. I told my daughter that I thought she should wait until she got married to have sex, but if she didn’t and she wound up pregnant, I would be there for her. I said she could come to me with anything, no matter how big and “bad,” and I would support and help her in any way I could. The nice thing was she really seemed to get it.

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Laura Merrill


So she isn’t house-broken yet, and
She cries when I leave her unattended, and
She has kennel cough, which cost me $50 to treat.
So what?
She’s BEAUTIFUL, isn’t she?
Ho, Ho, Ho
Merry Christmas!
–from Sparkle



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Had I read the reviews, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to see this sci-fi thriller about a scientist in New York City struggling to find an antidote for a cancer vaccine gone bad. But I love Will Smith, and I didn’t read the reviews. Therefore, I just spent 100 minutes gripping the edge of my seat in absolute terror as former Army scientist Dr. Robert Neville battles CGI humanoid monsters infected with a rabies-like disease.

Neville, who believes he is the last human on earth after a cancer vaccine rapidly destroys the earth’s human inhabitants, wanders the almost jungle-like streets of NYC looking for “Dark Seekers” he can bring home to test his antidotes on. With his dog Samantha by his side, he hunts herds of deer–which are pretty ridiculous CGI renditions, visits his local DVD rental store, and sends out daily AM-radio messages looking for other survivors of this holocaust.

While the special effects aren’t great–the CGI monsters and animals are fair at best–Smith’s performance is spectacular. He makes you believe he would actually be capable of surviving under these conditions. You feel his intense struggle with loneliness as he carries on conversations with both his dog and the mannequins he’s apparently placed throughout the DVD rental store he frequents. And his anger and frustration are real when he screeches through the city in his SUV mowing down rabid monsters. Smith’s facial expressions and body language are priceless.

The movie makes you think you’re going to fly out of your seat, sometimes when it’s just for things like Neville barricading his house in preparation for the nightly stalking of the monsters, but that’s part of the fun. You never know when something’s going to jump out and attack him.

Die-hard sci-fi thriller seekers would probably be disappointed in this film, but for the average movie-goer like me, you won’t regret seeing it. It’s definitely worth the $6.25 matinee price, and I’d even fork out $9.50 if I didn’t have to go home to an empty condo and try to go to sleep!

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