Search Term Madness

March Madness 2012KW, this is for you baby … I know you love these.

As most of you know thanks to the wonders of my blog host, WordPress, I can see the search terms that people use to get to this site. Now for people who write for SEO content, or want to drive traffic to their site, this is useful and informative gibberish that causes them to do magical things with the words they use for future posts. But for me, it’s just straight up entertainment. And it’s a good reminder that you should never use the words “panty” and “bling” in the same sentence.

Whoopsie that’s going to get 50 hits from the folks over at lit-her-hotica dot com for sure.

Anyway, last year around this time I wrote a post entitled “How To Pick Your Bracket Like a Girl.” I wrote it mostly because I am one, and it’s a problem for so many people just like me each year, and because I’ve developed a system. So it was like a public service announcement in a way.  And it got a ton of hits, including a link from a guy who writes for Sports Illustrated and ESPN sometimes, so I was thinking it was pretty popular despite the infantile and sarcastic title which, apparently, is a search term men use to answer this question. I had no idea it would see so much attention again this year.

I learned differently as I looked at my statistics for last night, Super Sunday. It was search after search of variations on the big question: How do I win my office pool? And as I read along I found … well I really don’t want to ruin it for you, so I’m just going to show you what I found last night. Because sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Read slowly. Savor the moment …

seo can be funny

At midnight last night this was hysterically funny. In fact, I laughed so hard husband was just staring at me like I had an incurable disease (which I did, which was the giggles). But one of these things is NOT like the others. So thanks for looking guinea pig fashion lovers of the world, and thanks for making my night! Hope you found what you were looking for.

Happy Monday, everyone else. Hope this gave you a laugh with your morning coffee.

P.S. If you don’t already know why I have such a swill of love and disdain for the little pig rodents that inhabit a cage in my house, here’s how it all started: The Good, The Bad, and the Guinea. And here’s the guinea pig care package: Surprise! And here’s my favorite guinea pig post of all time: Guinea in the Manger.




photo courtesy of annstheclaf at Flikr

Young men came home from World War II in boats. They laid in the belly of a ship and they decompressed over cards and cigarettes for weeks and they talked and they told stories. They heard stories. And they had time to think about their girls back home.

But thanks to modern travel, today’s veterans can be plucked right out of a war environment in the desert and plopped down in the middle of a luxury shopping mall a dizzying twenty-four hours later. Not too great for the romantic homecoming everyone dreams of.

Thank goodness our military is smart enough to realize that our warriors need that decompression chamber. Unfortunately the modern equivalent of the Queen Mary is a combination of red tape, medical exams, and DoD-sanctioned debriefs mixed with mandatory periods of relaxation. However, after seeing what 24 hours of planes trains and automobiles looks like (hint: R&R), I was thankful to have a Husband who was well-rested, clear-eyed, on the right side of the clock, and ready to be here.

I’m told we are now in the phase called Reintegration, but it doesn’t feel like we are integrating anything yet. We’re sort of just standing here looking at each other. When we hold hands, there is still a space between us. It’s really more like Preintegration.

I am quiet mostly because I can’t imagine being inside the mind of a servicemember who first realizes people actually struggle to make decisions like what kind of latte they want to consume that day. It must be unreal to make life and death decisions on a daily basis and then come home to discover you have no control over the mind of your six year-old. If it were me, I would put it all off and just smile and hug my family for a few days, too. So. Preintegration it is.

I’ve been reading all about what is supposed to come next, because the last time I did all this I was a newly married girl with no kids. I mean I don’t even REMEMBER reintegration the last time around. I’m entering unknown territory. Again. Just like everything else in this deployment, I’m totally winging it. At least I get points for consistency.

laughing children

his hands were full

So when Husband came home we basically just hung out for a couple of days. We saw friends. We snuggled. We sat on the couch. We watched football. We tickled. We made and ate some of his favorite foods. We listened to stories. We went on walks. We basically just relaxed.

In all of that, I realized that I didn’t remember how to just “be” with him. When we were alone I sat awkwardly and waited for him to speak. I just stared at him. It wasn’t the “oh I’m so gaga in love with you” kind of staring, either. It was more like the “I wonder what happens if you poke it with a stick and pour salt on it” kind of staring. Not that he’s a slug … gah. I’m so romantic that way.

But when he woke up early one morning and made me a cup of coffee, that’s when I knew my husband was returning. And that meant I could return with him. “Thanks for making me coffee,” I said, smiling and batting my eyes. “It’s my job” he joked.

Oh yeah, it’s his job. Oh yeah! It’s his job!

You see, I pretend that being the honored recipient of this tradition puts me on par with the likes of Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, who I’ve heard routinely have their morning cup of First Lady coffee made lovingly by their presidential husbands. Because yeah. Me and the First Lady. We’re like this.

But the best part of this beautiful ritual is that I have never once asked my husband to make coffee. Not once. One morning I simply woke up tired and late, and he made me a steaming sweet cup of wake up. I must have been in a good mood because I took a sip and said, “Oh. Thank you so much. I love it when you make me coffee. It makes me feel like a princess.”

After that, he started making the coffee. Every single morning, without being asked. And I always said thank you. And I always meant it.

By the way, don’t get any bright ideas and blame me if this method doesn’t work for you. For example I tried it with “I love it when you put the toilet lid down because it makes me feel like such a princess.” But it’s pretty hard to refer to a repository for stinky bodily functions and simultaneously refer to yourself as royalty.

Finding a fresh pot of coffee became such a lovely ritual for me that I remember standing over my kitchen sink crying that first morning after he left, like I didn’t know how to operate a simple piece of machinery. That’s why this morning, here, now, was so beautiful. When I woke up and smelled the steam that was wafting up, I sighed out loud. When I saw the heavy moisture that rises up when hot water pours over beautiful shards of crushed brown beans, I smiled. And then I almost cried again.

I know there will be more days. There will be days where I stare into my reflection in the bottom of the cup and wonder how I’m going to convince my husband that logic is not the only factor in decision-making. There will be days where I do poke him with a stick in an attempt to see if he will actually bleed, or cry, or express an emotion I haven’t seen in a while. And there will be days when I get up and grumble, and forget to say thank you for my cup of coffee.

But for now, we have Preintegration. For now, we have the honeymoon. And for now, I will sip and smile and remember that I’m not the one making the coffee.

Mmmmm. That’s nice. Thank you.

I’m a Porn Queen?

Oh wow. I just found out that my post entitled “My Big Girl Panties Have Bling” was featured (actually reprinted without my permission) on a website for “webcam girls.”

I considered sending them a nasty lawyer-like email for violating copyright laws ordering them to cease and desist and pay me royalties and reimburse me for emotional distress, and perhaps even loss of consortium damages.  But I just couldn’t because I was laughing too hard to reach the keyboard. If only they knew what my life was REALLY like … ha ahha ahha ahha hah ahaaaah ahahaha ha … ha ha hah … bwah aha ahah aha …. aaaaaah.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, kiddies. But thanks for the laugh, interwebs. Whew. You gotta be known for something.


This past week has been über strange for me as I’ve zombied through the first week alone again after two weeks of R&R. I’m happy to report that I’ve made it through the fog to the other side.

It became painfully obvious to me how valuable it is just having another human body in the room when children are present, when that first morning after Husband left were filled with a unenending stream of questions that demanded immediate answers, coupled with simultaneous actions that had to be accomplished on a deadline. Unanswered questions would be beat into me at least three times before escalating to the inevitable, “Mom! Are you listening!?” Gah. If only I could strike that word from their vocabulary … “Mom.” I mean really, must EVERY sentence start with “Mom?” Husband is so good at deflecting the questions and keeping order. I am not.

Standing at the kitchen island in the morning rush before school and work, I found myself attempting to accomplish all of the following objectives at the same time. WARNING: this is a peek inside my brain. It’s a scary place …

1. Convince Preschooler that I was not mean after saying the words “I’m happy to let you eat your breakfast as soon as you get your clothes on … NOW GET THEM ON! RIGHT NOW!” Convince myself it was not actually mean to withhold breakfast from a skinny six year-old.

1. Make a determination about whether  Zoo Camp allowed peanut products for Sweet Pea’s packed lunch. Make a determination about whether I cared. Make a determination that the legal case I just read concerning the child who died of anaphylactic peanut shock was a true story. Feel guilty for attempting to make such a determination and feeling horrible for the childless mother. Look at my other child, who was picking his nose, and gratefully smile. Make a determination about whether it’s ok to just put a second fruit roll-up in the bag. Feel guilty for not having more lunch options on hand.

1. Answer the following series of questions from the long-haired child:

“Mom, have you ever made a bad choice?”

“Mom, name one good choice you’ve made in your life and one bad choice.”

“Mom, Name another bad choice. No, I don’t want to hear the good choice any more. Name another bad one.”

1. Contemplate whether it was really a good idea telling my little girl about the time I got caught drinking a single wine cooler behind the abandoned elementary school with a gang of high school ruffians (aka “boys”), resulting in the police arriving on the scene and arresting all of us for being minors in possession of alcohol, resulting in me being fingerprinted and spending several hours in the drunk tank at the Coronado jail, resulting in my mother believing that I needed to be admitted to inpatient alcohol treatment, resulting in my father not speaking to me for two days. Contemplate what ever happened to Lath Glazer. Contemplate whether I had any Mike’s Hard Limeade in the basement refrigerator. Add “Mike’s” to the grocery list.

1. Attempt to find the lid to my coffee “go cup” in a dishwasher full of children’s plastic cups. Attempt to determine whether the dishwasher had been run at all or whether the tomato sauce and/or peanut-butter ring on the one remaining piece of Tupperware in my house was enough reason to throw it away. Attempt to determine whether chlorofluorocarbons really leached out of Tupperware that was heated and cooled or whether it just was another urban legend that would be decried in the next decade as a false story that my children would refer to as a “wives tale.” Attempt to remember the name of the urban legend website. Attempt to mentally determine the dollar value of all the plasticware I had thrown away in the last year.

1. Eat breakfast. Provide cereal refills. Get milk. Make coffee. Put my shoes on. Find The Preschooler’s shoes. Throw The Preschooler’s shoes across the living room in jubilant discovery! Apologize when the shoes accidentally hit The Preschooler. Again attempt to convince The Preschooler I’m not mean.

In all the chaos, I stopped and looked around. I closed my eyes and went to the source of all things discipline. I went to the advice of the one who had the knack for creatively solving virtually all dilemmas: Husband. As I went through the decision tree matrix, I stood at the kitchen island in a glassy-eyed stare. They continued to pepper me with questions and the clock ticked down until they realized I wasn’t responding. And they stopped and stared, too. (For about ten seconds, until someone determined they needed something.) I held my hand up.

I was channeling Husband, now. I stood very straight and tall. And I smiled pleasantly.

“I’m going to the car. If you’d like to be dropped off at Gymnastics or Zoo Camp, meet me there in one minute.”

The Preschooler dropped and ran to recover his shoes. Sweet Pea flew into the bathroom in search of a toothbrush and hairbrush. Oatmeal rotted in its bowl. Shrieks and howls could be heard echoeing as the doppler effect from their progressing speed warped and warbled their cries. And meanwhile I was in my car, sipping coffee and having another series of thoughts, the best of which included “how fun would it be to drive away right now?” I’m sure that’s not mean.

I’m now considering getting one of those rubber-band style bracelets with inspirational sayings engraved on them that says “What Would Husbie Do?” That seems to be the only thing I can think of when my brain becomes a centerfuge of senseless information that must be tamed. I’m thinking I could market and sell about ten million of the things to deployment families, make five million dollars, and hire a nanny to field the unending morning questions.

What does your bracelet say?

[make a comment]

Continuous Reintegration Analysis Phobia (CRAP)

We are counting down the days to Husband’s visit home in the single digits now, and I swear, I’m losing my mind. I’m not talking about the to-do list that has lived happily on my white board for months which I am now attempting to cross off in the last weeks of singledom. I mean I’m really going kinda crazy. While talking on the phone with a friend this week I realized I’ve officially become ridiculous. And while I know that this has GOT to stop before Husband gets here, it just ain’t that easy.

Have you ever just told yourself to stop being ridiculous? This is where I am.

I mean I’m mature. I’m smiling. I’m functioning perfectly well. The trash is making its way to the curb. The bills are being paid. My children appear (mostly) at various activities in regular-looking clothes (relatively) after brushing their hair (sometimes) and their teeth (usually). I convince myself I’m doing a stellar job absorbing the thoughts that are whizzing through my brain at light speed. But honestly it’s constant. And every couple of days I buckle under the weight of the unanswerable questions. These queries spontaneously combust so frequently that I’ve just given up on trying to address my brain’s own indolent self-interrogation. My synapses are now solely dedicated to the process of asking questions without bothering to think of a response. And you see, this is where the insanity comes in. Because when you know you’re not going to have to answer the questions, you can come up with some real doozies. Examples? Uh, no. Just trust me on this.

I have now learned not to even hint at the craziness going on in there. Husband and multiple friends all repeat the same mantra … “JUST RELAX. He will be so happy to just be home and see you and the kids …  you’re worrying too much. Don’t worry. Just let it be.” Well, fine. I know that. Thanks for stating the obvious. Great concept. Perfectly good idea.

The actual execution of that brilliant plan seems to be the stumbling block. I stand in the mirror and sternly give myself a lecture. Then I point my finger at myself: “Okay, ready … stop doing what you’re doing and thinking what you’re thinking!” But it doesn’t work.  So I try compassion on myself instead, and I end up crying in the bathroom mirror over the candle shrine erected to count down the months since Husband left. The long line of burning wicks represents the staggering amount of time that has passed since I’ve seen a real live living breathing husband.

Therefore, in an attempt to get control of my phrenia du jour I have taken the first step, and I’ve given it a name. Because let’s face it, “Restless Leg Syndrome” sounds infinitely more justified as a condition. “Fidgety” is just a plain old character flaw.

I’m calling it Continuous Reintegration Analysis Phobia (CRAP).

 The following symptoms of CRAP are commonly observed:

–         Overwhelming obsessive compulsion to scrub, disinfect, polish, repair, replace, and/or re-arrange surroundings that just one short week ago seemed (probably because of delusion) to be completely habitable, but now (probably because of paranoia) appear to be shockingly inadequate by regular human standards;

–         Extremely disorganized thought patterns characterized by incomplete sentences, dangling participles, missed medical/dental appointments (yes that’s supposed to be plural), and a complete inability to finish any of the projects described in the bullet point above;

–         High-functioning mania including but not limited to sacrificing the “Pampered Chef Super-Scraper” to extricate the gunk in the guinea pig cage despite the obvious and impending allergic reaction it will inevitably cause, including but not limited to one eye completely swelling shut, including but not limited to the taking of allergy medication to counteract the swelling, which by the way subsequently induces additional mania and insomnia;

–         Extreme emotional lability expressed as tempered excitement, inappropriate laughter (which does not go over well in court), remorseful screaming, rapid speech with elevated volume and pitch, and excessive use of extraordinarily inane and HIPPOPOTO­MONSTRO­SESQUIPED­AL­IAN words.

Since I’ve named this thing, it’s medical. Which means it’s capable of medication, right? My rigorous Rx regimen for CRAP started with three successive days of (1) Jack-In-The Box tacos; (2) a five-pound box of See’s Candies; (3) an order of not-so-regular fries from Five Guys Burgers and Fries; and (4) A fresh strawberry shake from Burgerville. Yes, three successive days and four food items. I know what that means.

Because of the destructive nature of this particular form of medication and its ability to counteract Operation Reclaim the Booty, I moved on quickly to something slightly less calorie-laden but infinitely more compulsive: Retail Therapy. I purchased a pile of expensive new undergarments with sparkly things on them in a moment of weakness. Later I stood horrified looking into my bathroom mirror, wondering why normal people would pay so much money to highlight such areas, let alone allow them to be voluntarily emblazoned in sparkles, particularly after consuming an entire brown bag full of greasy french fries.

So in my last-ditch effort at sanity, I have now turned to the only therapy that has ever offered me any true form of respite: writing and praying. I decided to start writing down all the questions I have, not because they mean anything, and not because they will ever be answered, but because somehow, getting them onto paper takes them out of my head.

Not only that, as an additional phase of therapy, each night before I go to bed and say my prayers, that infernal list of questions gets destroyed. I thought about ripping them up into tiny shards, but honestly that just wasn’t violent or permanent enough. So I’ve decided there’s only one way to truly and appropriately dispose of these unanswerable queries:

relationship shredder

Sharp. Steel. Blades. And, there’s a bonus: by the time Husband comes home for good, we will have a full ticker-tape parade at the ready.

The jury is still out on whether or not this is truly beneficial. I secretly fear that I’m actually writing the same questions over and over again. But even if I am, I’m shredding them over and over again. And that my friends is the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Like I said, CRAP!

Security Measures

erasable calender calandarWe are officially counting down Husband’s long-anticipated return to the home front. I recently posted the days, hours, minutes and seconds as my Facebook update and I had instantaneous and constant “likes,” a virtual thumbs up from friends all across the country. It felt so good to see people cheering for us. A countdown is something people can really get behind. It’s something I can really get behind.

But oddly, the closer we get, the harder it becomes to bear his absence and think about his return. The days are creeping by so painfully slow. Though we’ve been calling it his mid-term R&R, the reality is that it is coming very late in this mobilization.

Tragically, this was by design. Together, Husband and I weighed the pros and cons. “It will be just like eating lunch late, with only a couple of hours left in the work day.” This sounded great in concept. Afterall, we did this once before on one of his PAC RIM cruises, and I traveled to Australia to meet him with only two months of cruise left to go. There was the anticipation, then the planning, then the trip itself, and then by the time I got home we were in the home stretch. This was brilliant. We were geniuses. It would be perfect.

Just like the guinea pigs.

So what if we failed to calculate some eentsy-weentsy factors? They were small things. Minor issues. Like the duration, for example. Just because that cruise was only half the time of this mobilization, it shouldn’t be statistically significant. That’s only more than double the difference. Six months, thirteen, same thing. And what about the exotic trip to Perth where I would greet my husband and spend several glorious days with him in a luxurious hotel room? So what if instead we would be at our home, with kids and bills and a house and a lawn and cars? So what if instead of preparing for a trip abroad I would be madly cleaning and upgrading and decorating and painting and repairing our previously lovely home in an effort to pretend we had not experienced the wear and tear associated with a karate-chopping preschooler and a fingernail polish-loving Sweet Pea? It’s totally the same. Absolutely no miscalculation on that brilliant plan at all.

I blame Husband for these significant oversights because, well, mostly because he’s not here. But also because statistics was the only course I got a D in at UCSD. At least, that’s the grade I was theoretically eligible to receive had I not dropped it on the last possible day. (I may have a law degree, but I’ve told you people time and time again – I don’t do math.) All of this to say, by the time Husband gets here it will be just short of ten months since we’ve seen him up close and personal. And I’m here to tell you, ten months is a long stinkin’ time.

In fact, it has been long enough that as I walk around my house, I am constantly taking inventory of all of the things that absolutely must be remedied before he gets home. You know what I’m talking about: evidence that proves we have lived without Husband for just a little bit too long.  Bad habits. Dust. Messy closets. Long grass. And maybe I’m hanging on to some things I shouldn’t. Things that have become security blankets. Things like bravado that masks insecurity; tears that mask what is rightly fear; and maybe even writing to fill the hole left behind by night-time loneliness.

But mostly, I am referring to my beloved deployment shower cap.

Now it’s true, I’m a woman who has been married to the same man for nearly 20 years, I’ve had two children with him, and it’s also true that I turned 40 this year. There isn’t much he hasn’t already seen and heard and tolerated without complaint that lets me know exactly how much he truly loves me. He has seen things like the pregnancy nursing bras, the spit up stains down my black suits, the post-baby granny panties, and other unmentionable sagging things that definitely didn’t look that way when we met.

Enter, the shower cap. My desire for constant squeaky-clean locks withered faster than my gumption to cook after Husband left. It first started when I simply wanted twenty extra minutes of precious sleep whenever the kids allowed it. But the addiction quickly developed into something more. Soon, without even noticing it, I was donning ponytails and french twists and, eventually – for a very brief period – the dreaded braids. I was eventually using dry shampoo to stretch the washings out to three days. And then, finally, came the shower cap. I now so vehemently abhor the process of washing, conditioning, spritzing, drying, diffusing, curling, and then straightening my hair that I get a mini panic attack setting my alarm clock an extra half-hour early the night before.

The real problem started shortly after Husband deployed and I purchased a small, very thin, very transparent and very demure little shower cap. Within one short month The Preschooler decided he would convert this relatively undetectable cap into a much more useful tool: a frog-catcher. This apparently requires that multiple holes be poked into it (with the sharpest knife in the house) so that water can, ironically, flow right through it.

kid suprise

"Can I keep it, Mom?"

In a panic at the grocery store over my ever-increasing dependence upon the cap that had unwittingly become a strategic amphibian kill-capture mechanism, I breathed a sigh of relief as I approached the beauty aisle to discover the very last lonely shower cap. And let me tell you, it was most definitely a thing of beauty. It must have been a historical replica of the cap Mrs. Jefferson wore when she was a movin’ on up. It was powder-puff pink with garish white and purple polka-dots and an extra-long elasticized rim that protruded somewhat like a bonnet, ala Holly Hobby. The woman on the package cover with matching pink lipstick (in the shower?) was likely the understudy to June Cleaver and was probably now dead. I remember standing in the grocery aisle staring at it, contemplating the gravity of what I was about to do. I spoke out loud. “It’s temporary,” I said, as I looked up and down the aisle. Nobody was looking. “It’s just until I can find another thin, clear one.” I turned to glare at The Preschooler who merely shrugged, and then I looked back to the package suspiciously, wondering what idiotic man at Goody Hair Supply decided that women wanted to take a shower looking like a cupcake with multicolored sprinkles. I put it into the cart, and my fate was sealed. The grocery clerk, smartly and possibly from experience, said nothing as he rung it up.

Sadly, to this day, it has yet to be replaced. It’s just too indestructible. It still has that fresh, durable vinyl smell. And the elastic has just now relaxed from brain-pinching taut to comfortably blood-constricting. I was going along just fine, blissfully enjoying the extraordinary value of my $1.69 shower cap right up until last week. It was morning, The Preschooler was wailing somewhere about the injustice of having to put his own clothes on, and Sweet Pea was getting dressed and using my brush and my mirror and possibly my lip gloss as I bathed. She poked her head into the shower to ask me a question and her mouth went gaping open. Then she put her hands on her hips. She squinted like she couldn’t see very well.

“Really, mom? Really?”
“Huh? What? I didn’t even say anything! What?”
“Seriously?” She pointed at my head.
“Oh. You, uh … you don’t like it?” I put one hand on my hip and one on my head like a fashion model. A naked one.
“Totally embarrassing, Mom. I can’t even talk to you right now. Nevermind.” And she was gone.

I stood there frozen in my shower cap pose for a moment with the water beating down on me and looked in confusion at the empty space that was previously my sweet daughter. I poked my head out of the shower, but she was already gone. I turned, and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. “Aaaah!” I screamed. I thought I was an intruder. I looked just like someone I had seen on the website People of Wal-Mart. But slightly younger and paler and more drippy and with runnier mascara.

“FINE! I’ll throw it away,” I shouted to Sweet Pea, who was trying on her third pair of skinny jeans in my walk-in closet.

But after I got out of the shower, I looked around, and with nobody looking I surreptitiously hung my cap to dry between two towels. I hung it up right next to  my bravado. And my secret tears. And my and writing. Because really, I’ve come to depend on it, all of it, this past ten months. Why should I give it up now? It’s always been there for me. No matter the time of day or night, no matter my mood or situation, it has always been there to enable and comfort me. And I’m not sure what to do without it.

What? Oh sure, I can do without it. I can do without it whenever I want. I can stop using it any time. In fact, I’ve definitely resolved to ditch the shower cap before Husband comes home. Which is later, by the way. It’ll be tossed into the trash any day now. I mean, probably not today because I still might need it this week. And well, it doesn’t have to be seen by anyone who cares. I can just continue to use it in private for a little while longer. Afterall, I paid good money for it. No use in wasting a perfectly good shower cap by throwing it away.

turning 40

I’ll just hang on to it. You know. A little while longer.

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