Thursday, March 29, 2012

P@@P my stepdaughter says...

"Daddy says can you bring him the bigger screw-up driver please."

<re: Justin Bieber being too old to be her boyfriend> "I know. When I'm a teenager he'll be an adult, and when I'm an adult he'll be even older, and when I'm even older, he'll be dead!"

"Nan is afraid of dogs, but she would like mine. Except I wouldn't let her near Ace. He bit my vagina yesterday!"

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games

By D Sharon Pruitt [CC-BY-2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
It hurts. The movie - The Hunger Games - if you watch it, it hurts. I've been home for about an hour, and I'm still zombie-like, stunned, trying to find my numb place. I suspect Tristan feels it too. We've spoken only a handful of sentences since we left the theater. Something dark, palpable, heavy. It weighs on us, that which words cannot transmute to air. I shy from the cliff of tears, the inevitable tumble of pain.

My mother tells me I just feel things more strongly than others do. I can't speak for others; thus I can't know if there is truth to the latter. But as for the former, it is one of the deepest truths I know about myself.
I. Feel things. More. Strongly. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Photo by; Darkone [CC BY-SA 2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
No! It's way too damn cold out here.
It's Spring now, remember?
It may be the first day of spring, but it's maybe 40 degrees out here at best, and I'm wearing my huge winter coat.
I know, you're ridiculous, the mild North Carolina winters have made you soft. Totally too warm to warrant that coat.
The water's bound to be even colder. We'll freeze to death. Plus the sound is dirty. Storm water, sewer overflow, the signs that recommend not putting your head under? We could get a skin-eating infection and die.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Crap Your Legislator Says

Part of the ongoing saga of Mrs. Awj Goes to Frankfort....
Representative X: "You know why crime rates are so much lower in Europe? Because they have real consequences. They don't have kids doing all these drugs because in the Netherlands they hang you for drug offenses."

Riiiight....and by right I mean you're an f*ing moron. Just to be sure, I checked and (a) the Netherlands banished capital punishment from their criminal laws over 130 years agoand (b) Amsterdam. You just made Dubya look smarter by comparison. *facepalm*

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Compost Happens...Change Does Too

By ExplicitImplicity at en.wikipedia (flickr/
Transferred from en.wikipedia) [CC-BY-2.0
from Wikimedia Commons
Read the first two installments here: Compost Happens...I Hope and Compost Happens...Of Course!

In 2010, having lived and worked in five national parks from sea to shining sea, I returned to Mammoth Cave at long last. The guide force was still the same family I knew and loved – equal parts endearing and exasperating. But left to their own devices for five years without my outbursts, they'd changed all by themselves. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Compost Happens...Of Course!

By alexkon from Jerusalem, Israel (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 
Catchvia Wikimedia Commons
Catch the beginning here: Compost Happens...I Hope

So I added too much newspaper, water, and yeast, too many nuked-and-frozen banana peels, and too little soil. And in less than a week's time, I'd become the world's most successful indoor farmer. Of gnats, that is. I fished out and trashed the banana peels, tried to rearrange and dry out the bins a bit, and made approximately five thousand fruit-fly traps. At two weeks, the feeding frenzy finally commenced! Tragically, not of the worms, but on the worms. My poor little wriggly babies. The damn fruit flies had laid eggs in my compost bin and were literally eating my invertebrate farm animals alive! Noooooooooo!!! It was the most disgusting thing ever.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Compost Happens...I Hope

By Red58bill (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0
via Wikimedia Commons
My second summer working and living at Mammoth Cave National Park, I decided it was time to walk the talk. If I was going to encourage visitors to be stewards of the Earth, it was time for me to start being a better one myself. Recycling and using less A/C was not enough. I was going to start composting.

My co-workers' number one suggestion was: “Throw it out in the woods. The varmints 'll compost it fer ya.”


Off on a Tan(JEN)t passed the 1,000 pageviews milestone today. Yay! Thanks for following along!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Week at the Y

I joined the YMCA in January because they have yoga classes and, more importantly, their promotional offer to waive the one-time join fee was just days from expiring. How could I not join and let such a great deal go to waste? Now two months later, the Christmas money I'm using to cover the monthly dues is almost gone, and I might be fatter than when I started. This is likely because when I exercise, I eat. (Case in point: I went to two yoga classes back to back this morning, and just followed them up with tea and red velvet cake at the coffee shop before starting this post.) And if I added up the number of times I've actually gone to the Y, I'd discover that I've only done a week's worth of exercise in two months. My willpower and motivation are awesome. And by awesome, I mean completely awful. But because I'm uber-judgmental, these handful of classes have been humorous, humbling, and healing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Truth

Having tried in vain since November to change it, or at least avoid it, I must now swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth:

I don't like being a stepmom.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Cried

By Miika Silfverberg (MiikaS)
from Vantaa, Finland (Flickr)
 via Wikimedia Commons
To make up for the blog's lack of content last week, I dug up another high school journal entry. More introspective than embarrassing this time:

Week: March 29 - April 1, 1999
Topic: I cried

I went to help my dad coach my little brother's soccer practice on Tuesday. I was only there for the last fifteen minutes, but those fifteen minutes were enough to make me cry.

Practice was over, and I was playing a 3-on-3 pick-up game with some of the boys. One little boy wasn't very good, and so the other kids would never pass him the ball. Then, as he was dribbling, his teammate jumped in front of him and stole the ball from him.

"Buh buh buh buh...."

(c) Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Ack! I didn't post anything this week. Big sad face. :-(  Monday I was getting ready for I Love Mountains Day, Tuesday I was at I Love Mountains Day marching onto the Governor's mansion lawn (yay!), and then mid-day Wednesday my stepdaughter came home early with chronic constipation. After two whole days at home being a full-time stepmom by myself and weekend full of even more 5-year-old exuberance, my week has left me full of writing material and devoid of writing faculties. Think Goldie Hawn in Overboard: "Buh buh buh buh buh...." (minus the diatribe about the spawn of Satan at the end of the clip):

I promise to share these stories of fun and flatulence in the week ahead. ;)

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Love Bites" - Le Fin

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC0],
via Wikimedia Commons
Missed the beginning? Click to catch up: "Love Bites" and "Love Bites" - Deux.
February 12, 1999

Dearest Jennifer,

     Your warnings about my turning the cafeteria into a chaotic love-fest have been duly noted. As you well know, Cornfed County High School will not be accepting deliveries today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Love Bites" - Deux

Missed the beginning? Read it here.
February 9, 1999
Dear Cupid -
     Thanks ever so much! You said, “Love is blind.” Well, infatuation is blind too, and boy did it ever blind me. But not to worry! Thanks to you, good buddy, my eyes were unexpectedly jarred wide open. I was sitting in Dairy Queen with a cute guy, thinking, Hey, this just might work out! Maybe Cupid and I aren't on such bad terms after all, when lo and behold, you shot me in the butt.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Love Bites"

By Chordboard
(Self, from material in my possession.)
[Public domain, GFDL
( or
via Wikimedia Commons
In honor of the upcoming Valentine's Day (or Cheap Chocolate Eve if your calendar reads "Midgetary"), I dug out my old journals from AP English to find a holiday-themed set of letters I'd written.... Ahhhh, "smells like teen spirit" ... and/or melodrama, b.o., and angst. ;) Enjoy!

February 1, 1999
Dear Cupid - 
     Hey, old buddy, old pal! How have you been since last year? Well, I hope! I myself have been doing much better.
     In fact, I'm writing to inform you that this Valentine's Day you'll find me in a much better disposition than last February 14th, and your presence would be most welcome if you could see fit to hook me up. I need a man. So if you could get your bow and arrow of love aimed my way, I would be sincerely appreciative.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dad's Attic Potpourri - Big Finish

By Alex Valavanis (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Catch up before we conclude. Click the text for Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Outside, we replaced our bouquets of moldy attic flowers with handfuls of puffy dandelions, violets, and wild strawberries. We stuffed red dogwood berries into the gaps of pinecones to be sold at our make-believe market alongside home-made mudpies. We threw the dollies and ourselves into the hammock and thrashed about wildly, buffeted by imaginary storms on invisible seas. We gave her mom mini-heart attacks, shrieking as the hoards of tent caterpillars hidden in the grass squished their guts between our bare toes. We were high on life, but we still craved danger...and height. Being genetically-doomed to shortness does that to a person.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dad's Attic Potpourri - Part III

Need to catch up? Click to read Part I and Part II.

Leah's mom thought it was a dumb secret too. The plants might be hidden in the attic now, but he had been leaving his paraphernalia in plain sight for the past 23 years. Cleaning up – clues, or wet towels, or crumpled receipts, or dirty laundry - was not Al's strong suit; hence, neither was secrecy. Nor did he become more stealthy at harvest time. First, Al meticulously gathered his long-abandoned lab equipment: tongs for tiny bud clips, electronic balances for weighing crop yield, paper filters for rolling incense, test tubes for inhaling smoke to test aroma. Next, he commandeered the family kitchen for the drying operation – cookie sheets, oven, and all – with a wink and promise of brownies. Last, he left his gardening tools, scorched dishes, and trails of spilled potting soil strewn across every surface in the kitchen and dining room and trotted down to the basement to savor the smell of success. Very discreet.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dad's Attic Potpourri - Part II

Missed the beginning? Read Part I here.

Leah's mom didn't seem to think her husband was such a brainiac either. This surprised us at first since she poured over boring wildflower books during camping trips instead of racing leaf boats with us. But she suffered from chronic vicarious-hypochondria, and she was losing the myriad of threats the attic posed to her children's health. She seemed to really enjoy warning us that we'd get frostbite, or cook our brains out, or suffer a brown recluse bite and subsequent expert medical-drowning in peroxide, or get sucked into the giant blades of the house fan. Now she was going to have to dream up all new child-health hazards to enhance her own immune system.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dad's Attic Potpourri - Part I

Photo by NosniboR80, CC License From:
In fourth grade, I had a “friend” whose dad grew “potpourri” in the attic. He never sold it; it was strictly for personal use. (I hear the lavender variety has calming, medicinal properties.) An excruciatingly frugal man – some might even say tightwad - he realized that growing, drying, and “smelling” his own in bulk was more cost effective than buying it pre-packaged. Plus his homegrown herbs were much higher quality than those sold in the dark corners of our small-town Wal-Mart parking lot. Not laced with anything unnatural, a good sniff guaranteed every time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You might be a tree-hugger if... almost drive your sleeping friends off the side of a mountain...not because you're tired but because you were trying to ID the conifers on the horizon --or-- you almost wreck your car driving through the big city because you're staring at the red-tailed hawk in the sky instead of the road. assign motifs to your backpacking trips: "I'm cold!" "I'm hot!" "Poop!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Everything I Need to Know about Lobbying I Learned in Kindergarten

Photo Credit: Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Wednesday I got home from KFTC's Economic Justice Lobby Day just in time to pick up Sophie from school. On the way home, I told her, "Sophie-dog (yep, my stepdaughter and dog have the same name, more on that another time) is going to be so excited to see us. I haven't been home all day."

Sophie(-girl), incredulous: "You finally found a job?!?" (Child, if we were cave people, you might not have survived to adulthood.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rob and His Job with the Mob

Have you seen this man? Of course you have.
You all know Rob. No, seriously. You probably do – he has approximately 50,000 friends on Facebook, of whom he has likely met at least half in his brief lifetime. And 99% of which likely owe him a favor. Still not ringing a bell? How about this: Ominous black trench-coat. Ever-present Kentuckians for the Commonwealth pin. Frequently photographed with voter registration clipboard in hand. Knows EVERYONE. ALWAYS. Excels at making you “an offer you can't refuse” so that it seems like it was your idea. After each encounter with him, you wonder: “How is this possible? How does he do it? How can anyone be so constantly aware and acting in support of social, economic, and environmental justice issues?” You assume the obvious answer is the Mafia. (Well, I did anyway.) But is it?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ripples, Starfish, and Hope

Continuing from the thread of my last post, Dreams of Joe Hill, if you need a little inspiration, here are quotes on activism that always give me chills - and hope:

Dreams of Joe Hill

Dr. King, "I Have a Dream," 1963
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I am introducing "Dreams of Joe Hill" - the start of a thread of posts about a lifetime of longing to save the world and my first steps (long overdue) as a newborn activist. My story begins October 13, 2010, with an email to my family and friends:
Last weekend, I attended my first ever Kentuckians for the Commonwealth event - the Annual Membership Meeting in Jabez, KY. At the risk of sounding melodramatic – it made my life finally make sense.

Friday, January 13, 2012

McDonald's: "Making Stepmoms Evil, since 1697"

Going from child-free to stepmom has been a crash-course in parenting. Emphasis on crash. You're not supposed to have children before birthing children. Biologically speaking, I'm 99% sure that the propagation of the human species depends entirely on this premise. Irrefutable evidence: step-parenting has taken me from "I definitely want kids" to "We'll see...."

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Joys of Being Self-Employed

By Dvortygirl (Own work)
or GFDL (],
via Wikimedia Commons
Last winter my friend, an artiste extraordinaire, vowed: "The monsters said, 'You will make a bad picture.' And so every day I will make a picture until I prove them wrong." (Or something like that. Facebook's satanic timeline profile won't let me find her exact quote.) My monsters say that I cannot write, and so regardless of the outcome, write I shall. In that spirit, here is today's post.

This morning, I reveled in my self-employed status by:
  • sleeping until 9 a.m.,
  • grabbing the peanut butter and banana toast that my stepdaughter insisted upon having yesterday and then dismissed as gross after one bite and that I refused to throw away out of the fridge,

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Hairy(ette) and the Hendersons"

Any conversation with your partner that begins with "Your daughter just --" is headed nowhere good. I could have led with "Sophie" or "my future stepdaughter" or "the munchkin." But I didn't. Yet, sitting across the table from me at Cracker Barrel, his shoulder within easy slugging distance, Tristan just laughed as he read my text. After all, it was funny.

Immediately upon becoming Tristan's girlfriend, I also became his five-year-old daughter's go-to public potty partner. I found this endearing. Even when she insisted we always use the same stall together. Despite the awkwardness when she told me she liked my panties. Even when the first time I flushed the toilet she freaked out and covered her ears as if a 747 engine had blasted out her eardrums making me temporarily fear she had some OCD issue I hadn't learned about yet and that I'd scarred her with a simple act of sanitation. Especially when I realized my fly had been unzipped the whole time we'd been wandering around Chuck E. Cheese's, and she told me, "It's okay." Not-so-much to not-at-all when she insisted I had to stand guard inside the "big stall" only for her then to take a big stinky dump, assaulting my unguarded nasal cavities.