Happy Birthday, Baby Brother

My baby brother turns 30 today.  For his birthday, I’m giving him a blog post.  I’m sure he’d be thrilled if he actually read my blog, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t.  Well, I know he did once because he left a comment (on Facebook, not here *eye roll*), telling me about a typo, but that was way back in May. (The Test, if you’re interested.)  To be fair, I never talk about my brother.  Well, except that one time, when I wrote this:

I even miss my brother, the spoiled brat who never had to do any housework, who is too smart for his own good, and who, without fail, has a smart-alec remark for everything. (My Old Kentucky Home)

Is it any wonder he doesn’t read my blog?  Anyway, like any good big sister would do, I’m taking the opportunity to throw him under the bus again tell you the great things about my brother.

First, he’s wicked smart.  Seriously smart.  And, yes, he knows it.  I mean, come on, he uses the word MENSA in his email address.  Which is a nice segue into the next fact.

He’s kind of a snot.  But it’s not his fault because he was also spoiled as a child. His only job was to cut the grass and we had a riding lawnmower.  Like I said before, he has a snarky comment for everything and, I must admit, it is usually hilarious.  He reminds me of Seth Meyers, whom I happen to adore.

He’s a raging liberal.   I honestly don’t know how this happened.  Like I said, he’s smart, so where’s the disconnect?  I had hope for him until I saw the Michelle Obama magnet on his refrigerator.  What is that?  I will say that he knows how to argue politics and keep his sense of humor.  He’s not offended when I call him Comrade. Not. One. Little. Bit.  That is awesome.

He can eat whatever he wants and not gain weight. Genetics are cruel, people.  I can think about a Snicker’s bar and BAM! an extra roll of fat appears around my midsection.  This man can eat and eat and eat and not even a blip on the scale.  Why didn’t I get his metabolism?  Why?  Why? Why?

So It’s the Laughter We Will Remember

Now would be a good time to share my favorite memories of my brother.

Homer Simpson  Doh!We were on vacation with our parents a few years ago.  We were staying in a lovely cabin with an extremely clean sliding glass door leading out to the patio.  The couch, where I was sitting, happened to be in front of this crystal clear glass door.  My brother, beer in hand, was on the porch, grilling, I believe. (He’s an excellent cook, by the way.) My brother decided to come inside.  He turned and walked directly into that sparkling clear window.  SMACK!  Forehead hit the door and beer ran down it in sheets.  And I had the best seat in the house.  I giggle every time I think of it.  I’m giggling now.  It was GREAT.

Now, maybe that’s mean.  But, hello?  He EATS whatever he wants and DOES NOT gain weight.  He’s SMARTER THAN ME.  He DIDN’T have to DO DISHES.  MICHELLE OBAMA REFRIGERATOR MAGNET!!!!

My brother and I are as different as night and day but we “get” each other.

When my house burned down, he called me.  That was such an important call.  He let me make the inappropriate jokes I needed to make to cope and he laughed at them.  I knew he would.  I knew he was the only one, other than my husband, who would understand these horrible attempts at humor.

1.  I was going to do a major clean on the house this weekend.  Glad I didn’t decide to do that last weekend.

2.  At least it happened before I did the big grocery shopping.  We literally had no food in the house.  We’re going to need that grocery money now and I hate wasted food.

3.  The headline on the news is “House Fire Leaves Family of Seven Homeless.”  Wow.  I’m homeless.  Isn’t that hilarious?

4.  Well, we were thinking of moving anyway.  At least now I don’t have to pack.  I hate packing.

5.  Heck no, I didn’t give an interview to that news reporter.  Me, standing outside my burning trailer, hair a mess, no insurance, and 5 kids running around me?  Might as well paint “white trash” on my forehead.  Though it would have been awesome to use the thickest southern accent possible to say grammatically incorrect sentences and ask if anyone seen my dawg runnin’ around anywheres.

Not my best stuff, but it’s all I could come up with, considering the situation.  Point is, my brother laughed.  I love him for that.

The Honeymooners Ed Norton and Ralph KramdenI love that he’s a wonderful husband and father.  I love that he’s a smart butt.  I love that he asked for a cake for Christmas when he was four.  I love that he gets super excited about food and can eat approximately 50 tacos in one sitting.  I love that he bakes and makes homemade buttercream icing.  I love that he loved The Honeymooners and Dobie Gillis when he was in elementary school.  I love that my grandma had to drag him out of bed by his feet to wake him up for school.  I love that an 8 oz. coffee gives him the jitters and makes sleep impossible.  I even love that he snored like a foghorn and kept me awake when my parents forced us to share a bed in a pop-up camper for “fun” family vacations.

I just love him.  Period.

Happy Birthday, Baby Brother

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Now let’s see if he does read my blog.  If you read this, little brother, leave a comment.  In the comment section.  Not on Facebook, not in an e-mail.  Here.  We’ll be waiting.

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The Blog is Out of the Bag

“I read some of your blog.”

Those are the words I’ve been dreading since my first day at work.  It took 5 months, but today was the day.  I suspect they (my co-workers) knew I had a blog a long time ago.  After all, we’re friends on Facebook.  Talk about a dilemma.  When the friend requests came, I immediately thought:

“Oh no.  I like these people but if I accept their friend requests, they’ll know I have a blog.  Not to mention the fact that I post a lot on the old Facebook and I tend to be really annoying and dorky.  Not good.  On the other hand, if I ignore or decline the request, that won’t make for a very comfortable work environment.”

I accepted, of course.  Like I said, these ladies are great.  Since we’ve become friends, nobody has mentioned the blog at all.  Maybe, by some miracle, they never saw the links to my blog posts.  Maybe they ignored it and never once clicked it.  Most likely, they clicked once, read, and decided never to click or mention it again. Either way, the subject of my blog never came up.

Until today.

“I read some of your blog.”

Deer In Headlights LookI got that deer in the headlights look, said “Oh,” shuffled my feet while avoiding eye contact, and then went on with my work.  I am the MASTER of awkward situations.  If by master, I mean the master of making awkward situations more awkward.  Also?  I’m obsessive about said awkward situations, spending the rest of the day wondering what I should have said and what I’m supposed to do in the future.

Like, should I just abandon the blog until summer, when I don’t have to look these women in the face 5 days a week?  Did I post anything really embarrassing that will haunt me for the next 4 months?  Which posts did she read?  Were they awful?  Okay?  Whiny? Too much information?  (Of course, they were. This is my blog.  That’s what I do!)

I’ve done this kind of obsessing before.  An uncle said, “I read your blog and it’s just not for me.”

“Which post did you read?” I asked, horrified.

He told me and it was a post specifically for other bloggers.  I have a few of those and it bothered me to no end that he chose THAT day to read.  It bothered me so much, in fact, that a month later (yes, a month) I sent him a message on Facebook.  I confessed my neurotic tendencies, my obsessiveness, and gave him a few links to posts I’m proud of.  He read them and sent me a message back.  He changed his mind.  He likes my blog, my writing, and me (despite my obvious mental illness.)  Yay!

Did it occur to me that he was just yanking my chain?  Stroking my fragile ego?  Blowing smoke up my butt?

Absolutely not.

Ahem.

Anyway.  So my not-so-secret secret is out.  I have a blog and my fellow lunch ladies know it.  They might actually read it.  Shoot, they might be reading this right now.  (Hi, ladies.)  I’ll know for sure when I go into work tomorrow and they avoid making eye contact with me or start speaking to me very slowly and making a big to-do when I don’t spill something, cut myself, or trip over my own feet–all with an indulgent grin on their faces.

Because, obviously, I have issues.

A Sick But Satisfying Weekend At Home

I’ve had a cold for a while.  A stuffy nose and a cumbersome cough annoyed me for weeks.  But that’s all it was–an annoyance.  Then, back to work for only two days after a two-week vacation, and real sickness set in.  I felt like someone was jamming an ice pick in my ear and I couldn’t sleep for the wretched coughing.  To the doctor.

Double ear infections. Then I lost my voice.  That didn’t keep me from whining, though.

Oh, my ears.  My head hurts.  I’m dizzy.  I can’t hear anything.  I’m tired.  I can’t even yell at my kids.  The horror.  The horror.

Is it any wonder the husband said he’d do dinner and sent me to bed?  Is it any wonder he didn’t protest when I stayed there for most of the weekend?

I don’t remember the last time I spent the weekend in bed.  Certainly not after my kids were born.  The little suckers couldn’t care less how tired mom is when they’re hungry or wet or cold or awake or can’t find their finger and/or pacifier and they scream their precious little guts out.

Newborn baby

Love those lips!

Maybe after gall bladder surgery?  I was hopped up on so much pain medication, I don’t even remember.  Point is, I stayed in bed and it was wonderful, once the antibiotics and ibuprofen kicked in and my ears didn’t hurt as much any more.

I took my Nook Color to bed, downloaded the Words With Friends app and a couple of books, and settled in.  I read a lot–finished two books, started a third.  I even wrote a review using that little bitty touch pad (The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach)  I checked Facebook, eavesdropped on Twitter, answered a few emails and read a few blogs–all on my Nook Color, from my bed.  It was fantastic.

Most importantly, I got some rest.  I needed it.  That two-week vacation wasn’t rest.  It was constant going and doing with my overly excited children.  Going back to work was almost a relief, aside from the flare-up of my back pain.  Yet another reason I needed the rest.

It’s Sunday afternoon, my house is a horrible mess and I skipped both church services but I feel zero guilt.  I feel…

 Rejuvenated

My Top Ten Favorite Books of All Time

Writing a post naming my top ten books was not my idea.  Someone requested it.  I’ve never had a blogging request before.  I’m flattered, but also at a loss.  Off the hundreds of books I’ve read, how can I possibly pick just ten?  I can’t.  Not really.  Once I pick the top ten, I’ll remember something else I read, the book that changed my 16-year-old self, which means something entirely different now that I’m 33, but will always be a part of my soul, my heart.

See, now I’ve gone off the deep end.

Anyway, here’s a tentative list, in no particular order.  It’s hard enough to pick ten, much less rank them.

1.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’ve read this approximately 273 times.  It’s my “go-to” when I don’t know what to read.  It’s charming, witty, romantic, and is single-handedly responsible for every dissatisfied feeling I’ve had about the man in my life.  (Sorry for that, dear husband.)

2.  See Under: Love by David GrossmanSee Under:  Love by David Grossman

This was my first foray into magical realism and I was enamored by the strangeness and the beauty of it.  It paved the way for Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who, I must confess, I never took to like I did to Grossman.  Maybe it was the new experience or the Holocaust connection–an event as fascinating as it is horrifying.  Whatever it was, See Under: Love gets me right here.  *hand over heart*

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens3.  A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A tale of war, sacrifice, betrayal, and love.  The first book to make me cry.  And that beginning!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Dickens writes a run-on sentence like nobody’s business.

4.  A Summer To Die by Lois Lowry

I read this in fifth grade and never forgot it.  The story of Meg, coming of age as her sister, Molly, is dying from cancer.  No sugar-coating.  It’s grief, jealousy, sex, relationships, and family–all without being vulgar.  I can’t wait until my daughters are old enough to read it.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss5.  The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

So.  Beautiful.

6.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This book is the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever read.  I’m assuming that’s why Harper Lee never wrote another novel.  How could she possibly follow To Kill A Mockingbird?  If she did write another novel and it was as good as (or better than) her first, how could she possibly follow that?   Better to just let it ride.  (Lee did work with Truman Capote on In Cold Blood, a chilling, true account of multiple homicide in Holcomb, Kansas.)

Harry Potter Box Set Paperback by J.K. Rowling7.  Harry Potter (Books 1-7) by J.K. Rowling

Yes, it’s seven books, but it’s one long story.  A magical, endearing, gut-wrenching story.  I especially love reading them one after the other as Rowling’s writing got better and better.  Added bonus?  These books are appropriate for all ages.  I love that.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery8.   Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Aside from Elizabeth Bennet, Anne (with an e) Shirley is my favorite female character.  She’s delightful.  I read this book to my daughter this summer and it’s one of my most precious memories.  She loved it and I can’t wait to show her the mini-series, aside from that mess of a last movie (where did that story line come from?)

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy9.  Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Hardy is depressing, Fate-obsessed, and “in your face” with this critique of Victorian principles. I wrote a killer research paper on this in college.  Got an A.  It was awesome.  Don’t read Tess, or any Hardy work, for that matter,  if you’re prone to melancholia, .  It’s not happy stuff.

10.  A Moveable Feast By Ernest HemingwayA Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Okay, so it’s Memoir.  But, come on, does anyone believe this is the absolute truth?  Of course not.  It is like a sophisticated version of the National Enquirer, combining my greatest pleasures in life–great writing and celebrity gossip.  Hemingway sells out Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein (among others) and does it in such a way, the reader, at first, believes he’s a) being completely honest and b) doing it with the best of intentions.  It’s classic Hemingway–drunk, arrogant, and macho–and I adore him for it.  Hemingway knows how to describe food, weather, drink, pleasure, and pain using only the necessary words.  Really, I could have listed any of his books in this slot, but this one is too…delicious. He’s kind of my idol, in a strictly literary sense, of course.

So, there it is.  Ten books (more or less) I consider “The Best.”  I’m already doubting my choices.  How is there no Margaret Atwood on this list?  What’s with all the YA?  Surely, The Oystercatchers by Susan Fletcher deserved a spot?  What about the 20 or so books I haven’t read, sitting on my shelf over there?  The thousands in the library, Barnes and Noble, and the used book store?  What if my absolute favorite book of all time is one of those?

Ah, well.  I’ll think about that next year, after I’ve read them.  Who knows?  This may be it.  These may be the best books I’ve read.  EVER.

Somehow, I doubt it.

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