Sunday, November 8, 2009

It Isn't What They Say About You, It's What They Whisper.

This week has been an interesting one for me. Jesus christ interesting to say the least. Hurtful, eye opening, revealing, maddening, sad, confusing to name a few of the emotions I have gone through. In all my life I have never encountered such hatred and anger as I have this week directed at me and what I supposedly did...about gossip. Through my very abusive 15 year relationship with my ex-husband gossip was never something he did. He was from an upper class family, a good position in his company, he never wanted to gossip about what was going on in his family because he thought that would reflect badly on himself as a person. He was never one to scream on the front lawn at me, or tell the neighbors what was going just wasn't thought of. The one thing that can be said for the guy...he knew when to keep his mouth shut.

As a girl, as a woman, as a human we all have been targets of rumors or gossip or just even the occasionally teasing about a new hair style or outfit that someone is going to inevitably not like and talk about. I was no stranger to that kind of childish form of entertainment...when I was a child. I have done it too, haven't we all? It seems though as we get older it should get better. As adults we should have learned better ways to communicate with one another other than gossip.

My group of friends in high school was a small VERY close knit group of girls and guys who were for lack of a better word, my family. We were fiercely loyal to everyone in the group. You wanted to say something about one of us? That meant taking on all of us and not alot of people wanted to do that. If we had a problem with one another because lets face it, no group is immune to the pressures of high school, we would talk to each other about it. We wouldn't spread gossip we wouldn't automatically decide we hated that person from a "he said she said" conversation. We talked things out sometimes screamed things out...but we always got to the bottom of the issue before we moved on ...usually to the next one. What can I say it was high school. I guess you could say we kept ourselves in a protective bubble that encompassed all of us, we watched out for each other, we learned how to spot potential trouble from a mile away and would do whatever we could to protect our group from that trouble. When I went off to college...I was still in that bubble. My friends went to to the same school as me or stayed in the same town. My friends in college had to merge with my high school friends or it just didn't work. It needed to be blended love or no love. You don't love every single one of my friends? Sorry move right along.

After a miscarriage, 4 babies, losing a child, a divorce, and a host of rather bad luck situations I thought I had come out the other side pretty unscathed. I mean I could change a diaper, help with Math homework and get ready for a date all at the same time. I felt like nothing could penetrate my feeling of invincibility. My core group of friends remained at my side but as time and life marched on more and more of them left the state or the country and I was somewhat alone in this town without a lot of really solid girlfriends. I missed that. I needed to have a female connection with someone, someone who could relate to my craziness at times or just someone who would love to spend the day shopping and drinking smoothies. Through all of those things I had gone through it was my girlfriends that got me through it. That picked me back up and did the whole "buck up soldier" pep talk and sent me on my way.

I bought a new house, I started school again and I started to blog by accident one day and I fell in love with the cyber community of women and men that I felt I belonged to when I read about someones semi private thoughts every morning with my oatmeal and tea. I felt connected again to something that I had been missing. I blogged about a lot of stuff, alot of personal private stuff that yeah would have been good gossip fodder back in the day.

I felt their love and support this week when I was the target of another woman's dislike of things that I had done. Gossip and rumors, and just plain hurtful comments were made and emails exchanged. I am not a confrontational person. With my ex-husband hell yes I was...we could barely speak to each to each other without confrontation or insults, but when he left alot of that left with me and I have never been more peaceful. I love to be around people. I love to ask questions and find out a person's history. If they are into the same things as me, I don't think twice before I send them an email or ask them about it.I felt like I was/am harmless. At least that is what I thought the impression was that I gave off. Apparently not to everyone. The person who was spreading the gossip? I didn't really know her. I had met her a couple of times, but I respected her and her career and what she has been through. I thought that we could get over whatever it was that I did that pissed her off in the beginning and move on with life. I was wrong.

I thought I had tougher skin I thought that with everything I had been through I could actually take someone just not liking me. I mean that's life. Turns out I'm not all that good at it. It sucks really. Really sucks. Through it all this week I have called, emailed, cried, talked much longer than I should have to my "new" group of women friends and through it all they have supported me, listened and thankfully emailed me back. Words can not express my gratitude. As a 32 year old woman I guess I need to learn that not everyone is going to think I am cool or want to hang out with me. I wrote to a friend of mine this week and said that I think I might be a tad bit narcissistic to think that everyone should like me but at the same time have the self esteem to totally understand when they don't. It's a hard lesson to learn after a lifetime of pretty much just sailing through life in my bubble. I suppose it had to be popped.

I am thankful for my group of friends and am reminded of the power that words have to hurt, to alienate and to embarrass but thankfully to also heal, help and connect.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Warning this Post is not for the faint of heart...or for any die hard Michael Jackson fans....

I logged on to yahoo REEEAAALLLLLLLLLLLy hoping someone had written something other than the glowing emotional tributes that have been flooding the social networks, news stations and radio bulletins. Hoping that someone instead of playing a musical tribute to a fallen star would stand up and take a stand against honoring someone who deserves nothing of the sort. That someone would write, more eloquently than me, how sad it is how this country idolizes all kinds of people, the wrong people and puts people with money, fame and a reasonable amount of talent up on a pedestal despite how they act in private. How sad that despite all the facts, allegations and even just plain old creepy creepo factor, millions of people were in the street crying over a aging rock star that gave us some good memories over a tape deck 20 years ago. These were probably the same people who were wearing Free Michael t-shirts back five years ago when he was accused Again of inappropriate behavior toward little kids. I wonder, where were the millions of people that came to the children's defense? Even IF the extreme case wasn't true, wasn't proven, was trumped up to extort money, just the simple fact that he himself admitted to having "sleepovers" with children, with giving them "Jesus Juice" and a host of other ungodly stupidity, should make us as smart intelligent Americans say a small thank you yesterday.

Shame on the parents of those boys for being silenced for so long. In shutting their mouths while they opened their bank accounts. They let him believe even more that he was untouchable even more invincible and all the more powerful because he had money. That the thrill of sending their kids to the Neverland Ranch overrode their child's safety. Sickening. Giving him the free pass to do what he choose to do and play dumb that no one ever told him touching little kids and letting them sleep in a bed next to you at night without clothes on is Wrong.

I. Call. Bullshit.

How his fame overshadowed his misdeeds saddens and disgusts me. How people are saying "Well if it weren't for the last 5 years or so he was great" No listen, that's not how it works. He wasn't great. He was a performer who used his influence, power and excuses to do harm to children and the people who trusted him.

Just because I heard Ted Bundy had a big cock doesn't mean I want to fuck him anytime soon.

(Pardon my French)

Yes I am sorry for his children...but you know what? I felt sorry for his children when he was dangling babies over hotel balconies and having them wear towels over their faces and costumes in public. No one ever did anything though did they? No authorities stepped in, their own mother even gave the responsibility over to this sick to raise them because of what?? Of course, money is why.  I would rather my children eat fried shoelaces and live in a box next to a power plant than give my rights over to a man who sat on television and held hands with a 13 year old boy. Where are their voices? Who spoke up for them? Where were the tshirts that read "Free Michael's Children"? This wasn't Winona Ryder being accused of shoplifting this was Michael Jackson being accused of the most heinous crime I can think of... He dies and the world is morning? What may I ask are we so sorry about? That his life as a child was shitty? That his parents were strict and cruel? Yeah well too bad. Life sucks sometimes. He was wealthy he was surrounded by seemingly intelligent people that could have helped that could have stepped up to get him the help he needed long before. That could have prevented him from being in the presence of children.

If the local sex predator who lives around the corner from you suddenly kicks the bucket playing racquetball...does the fact that he was an amazing artictecht, or well known politician overshawdow the fact that he raped a seven year old little girl in a parking lot? God I fucking hope not.

I think what makes me sad is that no one is remembering anything more than "Oh I cleaned my room to Thriller", or "I had my first kiss to Billy Jean." That that memeory makes it okay what he did later in his life. I remember reading articles about the inhumane way Mother Teresa treated her volunteers in Calcutta and how she just really wasn't a nice person...but she wore a nun's habit and gave money to charities so that excused her for being an asshat. Sorry no. Just like I don't think Mother Teresa was "moody" or just had a couple of bad outbursts, neither do I believe that Michael Jackson was a great man but he just happened to molest little boys.His hand just slipped once or twice down their pants, but hey remember Man in the Mirror? Damn that was a good song so all is forgiven. I'll pass on the warm fuszzy memories of a sicko's recording career. Thanks.

Don't care about the music he gave us because for fucking once we need to remember what truly makes us a good person. Not by the material things we do or because we can sell a hit single, or decorate the White House, or even be the god damn President and live in the White House, those things don't make us who we are. And I hope that he was ashamed of the things he did, or god forbid were still doing, and realized that World tours and Hall of Fames and Gold Records do not a good man make.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: To Me It's All Just Mental Masturbation

Cause there's only way, there's only one way (drum solo) to rock!

Why is that all of the local radio stations here feel the need to have all 80's weekends? Just because I am the slacker that hasn't converted over to satellite radio I have to be subjected to Joan Jett and random clips of Lethal Weapon? Not really fair

Seriously $30 for Tesla tickets? I am thinking put on wife beater and watch them on youtube, it's practically the same thing. Good seats are still available though. No shit! Even though I would trade my Dora Live tickets for some Tesla tickets right about now.

I had the wonderful good fortunate of coming across the most coveted gift imaginable to any parent....the cheap and available anytime babysitter. I felt like Christmas had come early last week when I realized the girl I had hired to watch my kids this Summer while I go to school full time only charged $5 an hour! Even though I did have to remind her that just because she's cheap it still means she can only watch porn with her boyfriend on my couch only AFTER the kids go to sleep and that the joints have to be smoked with the windows OPEN, no exceptions. I'm a hard ass like that when it comes to the people I entrust my kids too. So being that she was so cheap I immediately booked her for the next 52 weekends. Score one for me.

Eric and I watched a movie about babysitters that were selling sexual favors to the Dad's whose kids they watched. Thank god this one can drive herself home. So if you are reading this Eric, sorry baby. I was googling images for babysitters and there are quite a few pornos with babysitters as the theme. I guess I am just old school and prefer the whole teacher/student scenario. Call me crazy.

Last weekend during my new found cheap babysitter freedom. I met with some local
bloggers downtown at a bar for some drinks. It was really the first time I had met most of the people there and I was kind of like a star struck idiot when meeting alot of them. They were so nice and welcoming and could easily drink me under the table in about 15 minutes so they have my utmost respect.

As previously mentioned on another blog post, which I would link to but 1. I don't know how, and 2. I am trying to, through psycho therapy, block that period out of my life, I wrote about my very unconventional crush on one of my city's great Councilmen, Gary Sandberg. Well he happened to be at the bar that night and after I stopped blushing profusely I actually got to meet him and talk to him. It was a very Marsha Brady meets Davy Jones kind of moment and I was thrilled to have it finally come full circle. Even though I didn't get to see him lick his eyebrows, but you know what? I am okay with that. Some things are better left to the imagination.

Saturday night Eric and I and some friends went out to eat then to a local bar downtown that had a band we all thought would be fun to see. We got there at about 9:30 and had to pay a cover so we asked the guy what time the band was going to start playing, when he replied Oh around midnight I couldn't help but laugh outloud. Seriously Midnight? God damn I am old. I wanted to ask where all the old people that have to get home to sitters bands play but didn't want to look like the kill joy.
But on the plus side, I did get a cool guitar hand stamp that made me feel like a rock star while I drank my Coors Light and made out with my boyfriend in dark corners of the bar. (Actually the making out part didn't happen but not from his lack of trying, mainly from my lack of ability to stand upright for more than a couple of minutes without getting dizzy. I have become quite a lightweight in my older age) Next time I do need to pace myself more since it was quite embarrassing trying to figure out how much money to pay the sitter and my multiplication skills were a tiny bit impaired.

My two year had a busy week last week. His father I 'll just call him the Moron for this story and his girlfriend, hmm lets call her Stupid Bitch, cut off all of my baby's beautiful curly red hair without my knowledge or permission. Actually Stupid Bitch took him, not the Moron. Who by the way, she is a mother and I am still trying to decide if she is just stupid or mean? Why would she take another persons kid to have his very first hair cut? She did save me a curl. Isn't that nice? My kid looks like he could be drafted now but thanks Stupid Bitch for the curl.

Then on Saturday, because it never happens on a week day when doctors offices are open, Nathan is jumping on my bed with his brother and fell and hit his eyebrow on my nightstand. So off to the ER to get factor and observation to make sure he didn't have a concussion. After about a half an hour of trying to convince the resident that yes, he barked at people before the head trauma we were allowed to go home. So now he is a bald little boxer and I break out into song everytime I see him.

"In a clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of every glove that's laid him out or cut him to he's cried out in his anger and his pain....Lie da Lie....etc etc."

Thank you Paul Simon, or was it Garfunkel? Well yeah I don't think Garfunkel really wrote anything except that crappy song New York. He was mainly the looks in that operation no?

The hot guy at my gym always wears a hat while he runs. Always. I would be working out behind him grossed out at the sweat ring that would form on the hat and wonder how stinky his hat collection must be? But his kind of god like phyique helped me get over the sweaty hat issue. As I was pondering one day why he wore a hat to run in,he walked into the gym said hi to me and I didn't recognize him . Why you may ask? Well he didnt have his hat on that day and he is completely bald on the top. Kind of like he put one of those clown wigs on. Bald on top then tons of hair in a circle all around his head. It was disturbing and kind of ruined the fantasy right there. Someone should tell him that the Bozo look doesn't do anything for all.

I watched Marley and Me last night and I cried the whole way through, not just in the end, but the beginning the middle and the end. It was like Where the Red Fern Grows, Ole Yeller, and Charlottes Web all rolled up into one, instead of a cute little comedy about a dog.

I feel so much better now. I am sure all my facebook friends were getting sick of me posting updates on my life every 5 minutes so I thought I would come back off of my blogging break and write it for all the cyber world to read. Random Tuesday Thoughts is once again brought to you by Keely over at The Un Mom and by all the useless mess in my mind.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Just A Song Before I Go....

Well I am not really going anywhere, I just love that song and it came on my iTunes as I was trying to think of a good title for this post. It was either that or The Bitch is Back and really Elton John Sarah? I desperately need to clean house on my music collection...

I first want to thank everyone who has emailed, commented, called, thrown eggs at my house, wondering where the hell I have been. I usually try to comment at least when I haven't been posting, but I have been a slacker all around the blog community. To tell you the truth there was no great reason not to post except I didn't want to. I channeled my inner 7 year old girl and rolled my eyes and stomped my feet in protest of writing anything that wasn't school related. Blogging had started to take up a huge part of my brain and I needed that part. I had started to walk a little off balance and run stop signs, it wasn't pretty. Because you know, travelling twice the speed of sound, its easy to get burned (Thanks for that line David Crosby)

One of my favorite bloggers recently said that she wasn't going to say she was going to stop blogging all together, because as soon as anyone said that they were done they were suddenly inspired to write like Shakespeare. So I won't say I am done, but I wont say I am coming back to it entirely either. Just wanted to let everyone know I am here. I have been trying to read all my blogroll and know that if I didn't comment I am laughing/crying/getting angry/reflective in the comfort of my bedroom. Hopefully the words and inspiration will come back eventually and you all will have one more blog to take up your time in the mornings.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Game of Life

The fact that I may or may not come across as crazy to you people is something I struggle with on a day to day basis. The simple fact of the matter is I will never meet most of you face to face. Peoria, IL where I am at, has a wonderful group of local bloggers that I was really fortunate to stumble across when I first started this whole "blogtastic adventure" The fact that the community of bloggers in my local area is so great and so talented and so close nit and the fact that I am just at the cusp of starting to meet some of them and hang out with them and hopefully form friendships with them was pretty scary considering some of the topics I have posted about on here. I tell someone from California or Canada the fact that I love John Denver well yeah so what, but when I know that people who I will most likely meet are reading it as well, or people that I have already met are reading it well quite honestly that scares the shit out of me.

My point of this and I do have one, is that I don't mind coming off as little off balanced to my cyber peeps. When it comes to people I love, well yeah not so much. I strive to be as close to perfect as I can be for the people around me. I wouldn't call myself a people pleaser, but I like to make the people I love happy. I don't want to let anyone down or disappoint them in anyway. I am sure all good things, except when all that pleasing and acting a certain way and trying to be something interferes with life and the quality of said life. When it means sacrificng a part of who you are by nurture or nature or luck of the draw who you are to be what you think that person wants, well that's when it can become a problem. And that sucks. It sucks big time. I don't really know how to change it either.

I get so incredibly scared of losing the people I love.  I have lost so much in the past that sometimes I overcompensate in that department. I either try way too hard for that person to love me or else I am the extreme opposite where I do anything at all to make the other person come to hate me (which to be honest the later is much more easy) The part of me that wants to believe that love will conquer all knows full well that it doesn't always do that. That sometimes despite our best efforts love will fail us and love will lose the battle and the war. The paralyzing thoughts about if loving anyone is worth it because that love might someday cease to exist and then what? What is our purpose? I have alot of issues. I have alot of guilt and alot of shame and trust issues. I need to have perfection at times when I know that all I am capable of is mediocrity.

Relationships since my ex husband have run the gamete of being incredibly easy and fun and carefree not caring if there was a future, or a past even, just living in that moment. To being so in love with someone that I don't want to go any further because you know that it will hurt so badly if and when it ends. The whole reason why I went from one man to the next,the whole reason why I never wanted to have children, the whole reason why I never wanted to get another pet even, is that risk of loss. The risk of loss is so great that I just didn't want to even try and love at times. I have missed several opportunities in my life because of that fear. Some when they have begun have ended by my own choosing and some others were forced to end because of that very reason. I think I may be at risk of losing the one person I love more than any other (non related) human being. The fact that I can get a little crazy, I can get a little scared and start to push and run and reason in my head all the ugly reasons why it will fail instead of see all the beautiful reasons why it could and should succeed is hurting us and it is a painful reminder of what I am not.

As I get older as my kids get older I am beginning to realize that I am in charge of this sculpture, this painting, this play, this game called life or whatever other metaphor (or is it analogy?)you wanna give it, I am in charge of creating the life I want to lead for the next 40 years or so, the universe willing, and I am wasting a lot of it by imagination and fear. I don't want to fuck this up. I don't want to do something or say something out of fear and anger like in the past that will show a side to me that I may be willing to show to my cyber people but am terrified to show to the one I love more than anything.

I need some clarity.

To love is to risk loss.As the great CS Lewis wrote. The loss by abandonment or death or distance. The choice I need to make is if I am willing to make that risk...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Random Thoughts Tuesday-Gettin Nothin But Static From Channel Z*

Oh yeah its Tuesday again. Does the fact that Tuesdays keep coming around so quickly scare the shit out of anyone else but me?

Its been kind of a busy week in my house. Spring is kind of springing which means that everything I was putting off doing because it was cold out is slowly becoming a reality and I am running out of procrastination tools. My kids put a hole through my screen in one of my backroom windows during their fascination with the "guy in the forest". Serves me right for being proud that my kids had active imaginations or thinking that they were just plain little liar liar pants on fires. Their screams of "Mommy there is a man in our forest !!" Were met with my laughter. Ahh the beauty of children. My homeless man is but a memory, but the hole remains. I think I read that exact line on a fortune cookie one time.

I would now like to pay tribute to my new favorite girl crush Vic over What Were You Thinking? and her love hate relationship with flamingos. If you haven't been over to read her do it now. (Well after you finish this and make a wonderfully witty comment) Her blog is what my blog wants to be like when it grows up. Even though my blog is kind of a punk ass blog that goes to the Alternative High School and just got busted for smoking a joint behind the bleachers when it should have been in remedial Math so I don't hold much hope. But a blog can dream....
So here you go Vic, Flamingo Baby by the great Violent Femmes ( I couldn't find the video but the song is almost amazing) .

You're a flamingo
You stand on one leg
You're a flamingo baby
You hatched from an egg
Well you hold your foot up
So delicately over the sea
And when it comes down
It comes down on me
Well it used to want to hump you
I used to want to rock and roll
I was attracted to your gracefulness
But your surprise sure took it's toll
Now I guess I'd better go out now
Gonna try to find something new
And all I'm left with is this craving
For some flamingo stew
Now the beauty is in the gutter
The loveliness is off her throne
In the eyes of the beholder it's gone
And now he feels kind of alone
But this feeling it is the kind that will shortly pass
I'm gonna find myself another bird
And roll on down the grass

I have made up a new drinking game for when I am watching Big Love with my boyfriend.The rules are: I do a shot every time he asks me one of these questions:

"Do you think you will ever let me have two wives?


"So when you are at the gym soaping the other girls up in the shower, will you take pictures?"


"Why do all his wives have to have different houses? Why can't they all just share the same bed?"
Seriously, questions I hear every week. I don't get the fascination. Really? I mean I get the fascination with having sex with more than just one person, but more than one wife? I guess if your whole eternal position in the heavens depends upon it maybe but it just sounds like a big headache to me. So I am gonna get my fifth of Vodka and gear up tonight to get smashed. Maybe I will be more willing to agree to the threesome/naked soapy pictures/plural wives with some rum in me, but I doubt it.
Boobs too? What the hell? They are pieces of fat on my chest. Why why why the need to be touching them all the time? Men have nipples, men have pockets of fat on their chests ( some more than others) I mean why not play with your own? You don't see me
going around touching your penis all day now do you? ( I just laughed that I wrote penis. I think I really am a 12 year old boy at heart). I know the boob issue is a stupid age old question that I will no doubt get some emails with cyber dirty "duh" looks from the men. But that's the price I will have to pay to voice my concern. I am a citizen blogger after all. ( I really have no idea what that means except that I really don't have a whole lot to say this week so this whole post is a big stretch)

My son just came in my office and told me that he knows what hello is in Spanish and then saluted at me? He's gonna go far that one.

My two year old can't really talk yet, and his overzealous 6 year old sister is constantly trying to interpret his grunts and Japanese/Swahili sounding sounds.
This morning Nathan held his finger up to Sophie and says "bwhahtiff"
Sophie says "Oh Nathan you have a hangnail?"
He just stopped his babbling and looks at her and says:
"No! Where the fuck did you get that from? From me holding up my finger to your face? No I want a freakin cookie, when I hold up my finger and say bwhahtiff it means I want a god damn cookie!"
No he really didn't say that but that sure as hell would have been funnier than him screaming No at the top of his lungs now wouldn't it?

The idiot that ran into the ractrack Sunday to catch the runaway tire, made me think back to when my ex husband and I who was just my boyfriend at the time were moving across country to Seattle when somewhere in the middle of Montana I hear him say "Oh shit hold on" Not words you really wanna hear when you are just getting into your John Grisham book. I look up and out the side mirror only to see our tire bouncing down the interstate, never to be found. Yeah you know those turning points in relationships, the ones everyone should go through to see if you and your mate are compatible? Like taking a trip together? Or living together? Or losing a tire on the interstate together? Yeah well we failed all three. But yet we still got married and reproduced. ( I'm not claiming to be a wise man, thank god) On the plus side we got to spend three days in Bozeman Montana (God's country, which I think is on their license plates somewhere ,and where it is mandatory to say "Ahh Montana that's God's country there" at least once a day in that town)where there is no sales tax. That's me alright always seeing the glass half full I tell ya.

My house has been overrun with Girl Scout cookies. I was doing so well on my diet too and then those damn Thin Mints call to me at night. So if anyone would like some cookies just email me your address I will send you some. I promise I won't stalk you and camp out in your kid's playhouse. Cross my heart.
*The song in my title is Channel Z by the B52s. I am somewhat obsessed with their
music as of late and I have discovered that I can run a mile in the span of two Love Shack songs. Who would have thought that would have inspired me to run a 9 minute mile? So if you see me commenting on your page with B52s lyrics, well you're welcome.
This weeks Random Tuesdays Thoughts, well actually every Tuesday Random Thoughts has been brought to you by Keely over at The Un Mom another blogger I wish I had more time in the day to read more regularly. I need some blog fiber.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I am so proud.

I actually don't think that's his middle finger in the picture. It was either that or admitting that my son is a big fat nose picker. I choose to believe he was telling me to fuck off. I think the black and white tint gives it a nice artsy touch. Like he's telling me to fuck off in a French accent.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Random Tuesday Thoughts again. Is it just me, or am I just random? I am starting to rethink my reasoning for blogging in the first place and am considering taking up knitting or scrap booking, synchronized swimming perhaps.

I have about 15 different ideas of semi intelligent thoughts in my head but when I go to try and make a blog post about them it all comes out like this: blah blah blah blah I'm a little teacup short and stout here is my handle here is my spout blah blah blah. Seriously why can't I form a coherent post lately? Or ever? but lately I just haven't had my blogging mojo in tune. I think Stella took my groove and she isn't giving it back. I need my groove Stella. Damnit don't make me raise my voice.

I have discovered the most wonderful combination of two things ever! Dare I say the best thing since peanut butter and celery, apples and Martinis, woman with big
boobs and Chicken wings, yes it is that good! It is brilliant and I almost don't want to share my new found explosion of deliciousness with the world, but because I am just that nice and have nothing else to write about I will share. You will need a bag of jelly beans, not those spicy ones or jelly belly freaky tasting ones. The normal Easter is here jelly beans. Now we all know how much the purple and the red jelly beans rock right? Of course you do. Black licorice ones are only for when you're desperate for a sugar fix and the lemon ones are only for when you want to remember back to when you were 17 and got drunk on frozen lemonade and vodka, and the orange ones are good for bribing 2 year olds to go pee pee on the potty (seriously since becoming a parent I can't even remember the grown up word for potty. You can all feel sorry for me its okay). But what do you do with the rest of the flavors? I have found the perfect combination of jelly beans....ready? The pink ones and the green ones together in my mouth is pure happiness. Green and pink by themselves? Disgustingness. Together, lovely. Try it. You will thank me I guarantee it. You are so welcome.

Is it just me or did that paragraph sound like it was written by a 12 year old? No offense to the 12 year olds out there reading this who I am sure can write more
entertaining drivel then this. I had a comment on my last post about how I sounded pessimistic so I don't want to disappoint. Since I already pissed off the crack dealers I don't want to irritate the already irritated.

While spending an exciting Friday night at home this past weekend channel surfing and eating jelly beans I stumbled across the Animal Planet's show called Jockeys. Has anyone seen this television masterpiece? It is so exciting and it is really making me wish I was 9 inches shorter and about 70 pounds lighter and wasn't deathly afraid of horses. Or just that I really wanted to throw some of my money away on horses named Jockey Itch or Harry Trotter. I can't decide? I always thought of horse racing as seedy and shady and all the other words associated with gambling, but this show profiles the jockeys (they were pretty smart with the title) and how they are pretty much all multi million dollar athletes. Except if you don't win a race then you get paid in horse feed. This show is almost as good as The Mole Hunter.

I wish I was British and could go around sounding cool with my British accent saying things like holiday and sneaky and little bit. It just sounds so much better with a English accent. Come on try it, its fun.

Why can't divorces ever go smoothly? It took about 18 months from the time he left to the time we were actually divorced to get everything settled the way we both could agree on, and now he is being a total asshat again. The ex , since I am in school and not working at the moment, claims all four of the lovely offspring on his tax return and in turn is supposed to split the refund with me, till the youngest gets to Kindergarten or until I start working again. He told me a couple of weeks ago he was getting so much money wrote me the check and all was good right? Hell no. Because nothing can go that smoothly. I thinking he was up to his sneaky asshat ways looked up online how much of a refund he got and turns out the moron, I cant believe I actually was ever naked next to, messed up the tax return and he got $600 more than what he thought he was getting. I told him about his mishap but he wont give me the extra $300. Its all so immature and irritating I just want his head to explode. (Cause that is mature)

I bought a new kickboxing heavy bag today. To replace that sassy B.O.B. that hurt my knee. (that will show that plastic torso of a man who's boss) I am so excited to start kicking again since the only kickboxing class my gym offers involves combining martial arts with hip hop dancing and believe me No one wants to see me try to do that. So I decided my basement was as good a place as any to get my Hilary Swank(circa Million Dollar Baby) physique back (even though it was no where near Hilary Swank physique ever but it sounded good) Now I just have to figure out a way to get 250 pounds of sand in the base of the bag so it wont go sliding across the basement floor everytime I jab cross upper cut. ( I am so bad ass seriously stop me)

I spent Sunday with E and his 12 year old girls and I am so scared to become a mother one day to 12 year old girls its paralyzing. Even more than that I am petrified to be a stepmother to 12 year old girls who at any minute change their mood from "Oh my Gawd Sarah so and so is my BFF forever I love her" during a conversation to crying and hysterically telling me that they hate her guts and never want to see her for as long as they walk the Planet Earth. Holy hormones I was scared. To be completely honest I don't really like kids. I love my own but I am really thinking that's only because they came out of me. Other people's kids? Well they're cute and I love to hold babies and little kids are pretty cool cause you can eat a banana and they think you're hilarious but 12 year old girls? I'm scared.

Well that's about all the randomness this week. Check out Keely over at The UnMom for all her awesome random bloggers. And if anyone has seen my blogging groove can you please tell it to get it's ass back home, its been out way past its curfew. Thanks.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Random Word Generator

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the Random horror! Seriously I do not just want to write
random things and post music videos for the rest of my blogging career do I? I read other bloggers and their tales of Grilled cheese Men and library books , interesting things like lawn Flamingos and scary clowns you know good shit like those guys. I have a bit of blogger envy at the moment since all I got is how I think I may be lactose intolerant and that would suck cause I love love love me some Lite Cool Whip, it tastes just like, well almost kind of, if you close your eyes and pretend, like vanilla ice cream and it only has 20 calories for every two tablespoons, which I know adds up when you sit there and eat the whole container but hell better than a whole container of ice cream.

I am tired I mean like I feel like I got hit by a Mac truck tired. I went to sleep last night at 10 PM which is probably normal civilized world bed time for most people but for me I am a night owl so to go to bed before midnight is like admitting that I am old. That I might miss something fun if I go to bed early, just like when I was a kid. I went to bed early and I am still tired this morning. If I was throwing up my Cheerios I may be worried I was pregnant but so far so good so lets just count that as a blessing.

I have been working out on this thing called the elliptical cross trainer at the gym, its like an elliptical machine but you kind of walk up instead of out. I love it, it is alot easier on my knees than running and lots of other good shit my brain cant wrap around the right words at the moment. So last night as I am falling asleep my brain goes to me on the elliptical machine and apparently in dream land I am a klutz cause I fell off it and did that whole seizure like jerking thing you do when you are between sleep and wake land. yeah good thing I was by myself cause I was even a little bit scared. .

This past weekend between my two daughters and my oldest son I had 5 birthday parties to go to! Which is just a pain. I have noticed this trend in my son's preschool lately with the birthday parties. On the invitation it says where the
party will be and what time and then at the bottom it says "Little Johnny has decided that in lieu of presents this year he would like his guests to make a donation to (insert charity of choice here) in his name" What the fuck? Little Johnny is 4 years old! What the hell kind of four year old says he doesn't want presents for his birthday?? I don't think its fair really. You know it was Johnny's pretentious snotty Mom who wanted people to think that they are better than you because they are teaching their son the meaning of the word compassion. Well good for them, but I bet you a million dollars the conversation went something like this :

Pretentious Mother: Little Johnny , how about this year instead of your little friends getting you presents we have them donate some money to the fire station instead?

Little Johnny: Hell no Mom you said I could have a Wii and a razor scooter and a hooker when I turned 4!!!

PM: Oh well don't worry Johnny your Daddy and I decided that we will still get you every single thing you wanted but we need to pretend that we care about other people so we need to make people think we donate some of our money to charity, so play along okay for mumsie??

Yeah I know I am sure that is not at all how it happens I am sure that my son would gladly give up his transformers to the local VW Hall so that their next singles mixers could have some punch.

Sorry I am bitchy when I am tired.

Koolaid is like wet flour when your two year old son spread it all over the back room and you are trying to clean it up for about 10 days and everything you touch keeps turning red. Do you think it is illegal to put him in a cage till he turns about 5 or 6? Yeah I thought so...

I got my first hate comment the other day. As previously mentioned I had the great honor to be featured over at Blogtations a site where they take nominated quotes from different blogs and post them on their site. Well GreenJello nominated one of my quotes from another one of my Random Tuesday posts it said this, "I have found the equivalent to legal crack, black tea... etc etc etc. Well I got a comment on their that said this: (now realize I can write this now and laugh but it almost made me cry when I read it the first time. Yeah yeah shut up I am a tad sensitive in my real life)

"You: I have found the equivalent to legal crack"

" Me: Fuck you, you offense piece of shit"

Now damn I can't figure out why people would get pissed at that?? I was talking
about black tea. I mean the only thing I can think of is that I pissed off the local crack dealer who lost some business to Lipton's when they read my post and thought "Black tea? Really? Like crack? I think I'll go check that out instead! Sorry Cockroach I don't need any crack today gonna go over to Krogers and get me some black tea. Yeah I read about on Sarah's blog." I mean that is how it happened in my head anyway. Someone suggested that maybe it was someone who was affected by crack? Whitney Houston perhaps? That would be cool if Whitney Houston read my blog! I called my four year old BOBBY all the time when he was little cause their reality show was on at the time and I am slightly demented.

Is it just me or do other people who watch House on a regular basis check to make sure there isn't any blood whenever they cough? Seriously that show is turning me more into a hypochondriac then I already was. Everyone starts out with coughing
blood then its all downhill from there unless you have House and his team. They always think its something easy like MS or cancer but then it turns out to be tapeworms or pretend pregnancies. I love that show. Hugh Laurie could take care of me anytime.

I have this problem (well one of many) that when someone says something a word or a phrase I immediately think of a song that has those words in it. Its slightly annoying to anyone who doesn't know me and only slightly less annoying to my friends who are forced to play along. Here is the conversation I had with my neighbor the other day.

Neighbor: Hey Sarah!

Me: Hey J! How are you?

Neighbor: Great! I just got back from the doctor.

Me: Oh yeah? Did he give you the news?

Neighbor: What? I mean yeah I guess. I have anemia.

Me: Does he have a bad case of loving you?

Neighbor: Well my doctor is a girl so I don' think she loves me, maybe as a patient but no...Do you think she loves me? Why what did you hear?

Me:I just heard that no pill will give her the cure.

Neighbor: slowly backing into the house and shutting the blinds realizing suddenly what I am doing.Possibly considering putting her house for sale but after realizing the failing economy decides to stick it out another year.

Me: Laughing like the dork that I am. I know I am sure you are all feeling sorry for me and my general lack of entertainment in my life that I have to stoop to acting like the village idiot, but you should try it sometime, its like crack (oh wait sorry angry commenter, I mean like sugar free gum)

I am in the car the other day telling my 3 oldest that they need to pick something to be in this Summer like soccer or softball, or dance lessons so I can sign them up for it before the classes fill up.

My 7 year old Lily says:

Lily: Mom I want to take aerobics class!

Me: Lily I don't think they make an aerobics class for 7 year olds.

Lily: Well can't you just tell them I am 8??

Me: Yeah Lily you only want to lie about your age being older than it really is ONLY until you're 21 then you can tell people you're younger. (Yeah I'm definitely gonna win Mom of the Year for that little life lesson)

Lily: OK Mom well then can I take cheer leading lessons.

Me: (Throwing up a tiny bit in my mouth) Sure honey whatever you want.

At the gym this weekend I saw a local news anchor. He stopped me at the water fountain and asked me if I was Sarah Superstar. Why yes I am Sarah Superstar I replied. He actually knew my Dad who is a somewhat semi known personality around Peoria. After he introduced himself and I told him I was a fan I did what I normally do when meeting someone that I have never met before...make an ass out of myself. I couldn't just have shook his hand and went on my merry way could I? Hell no what fun would that be?! I had to go and make a half hearted attempt at being funny. I said to him and I quote" Man you look taller in person" You see he sits at the news desk every night and I was you see trying to make the joke that he is taller in real life....yeah I think I scared him too. Lesson learned.

My second book club was Sunday night and let me just say it is soo much fun to just be around women. Intelligent funny women. I am by nature not a fan of hanging out
with women. I don't know what it is about me but women don't ever seem to like me, right away anyway. You know those girls at the gym or at school who are strangers before class and best friends an hour later?? Yeah not me. Never was me. Never will be me. I am content with my group of friends and never felt the need to be for lack of a better word overly "friendly" to strangers. These women though are genuine and I feel like I can talk and hang out with them and I feel comfortable with them, not like I am trying to be something I'm not. Which was the song I sang while I was with a pretty high powered man who had a lot of snooty high powered friends and I hated the thought that I was constantly being judged by what brand name my jeans were. These woman are successful and sane and normal and I totally heart them all because of that.

End ass kissing now.

Well that's all for the randomness this week. I have another 6 or 7 birthday parties this weekend and tonight is take out Chinese food with Eric and BIG LOVE!!!! I am only slightly more excited to see Eric than I am to watch that show, which we'll just keep our little secret k? Thanks! How could my life get any better???

Random Tuesday Thoughts is brought to you by Keely over at zthe Un Mom. Go check her out and all the other people that have joined this random cult I mean cool gang of bloggers.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Give Me the Beach Boys and Free My Soul I Wanna Get Lost In Your Rock and Roll....Come Sing It With Me I Know You Want To..

...and drift away. Ohhhhhhhhhhh

Title has nothing to do with the post except that song is on and the Beach Boys are coming to Peoria and I am nothing if not a Beach Boy fan. Move over Jesse Katsopolis, Sarah is their number one fan. I am hoping to win tickets and then I won't be able to decide who to take and the Beach Boys themselves show up at my door and we jam in my living room and they end up taking my whole family to the concert where during the encore we are all called up on stage to sing Wouldn't It Be Nice. A girl can dream no? ( My daughters are obsessed with Full House and I am beginning to wonder if it is affecting my sanity watching so many episodes.If I start wearing legwarmers and scrunchies call that dude from Intervention.)

Just wanted to take the time to brag a bit, toot my own horn if you will. I have been pretty lazy as of late posting awards given and tags but this one was so cool I had to let the sunshine in. The brilliance that is GreenJello, which despite her picking the nastiest flavor of jello for her blog name, is an awesome blogger, nominated one of my lines of my blog to be on Blogtations and guess what? Yep they actually put it up there! So go on over there and check it out and then go on over to GreenJello and read her stuff she is totally awesome.

I also wanna give a shout out to a couple of bloggers who are just the bee's knees, the Cat's meow, the butter to a loaf of yummy Avanti's bread....bloggers who honestly I have no idea how long they have been around but they rock, seriously they rock the dance floor or the stripper pole or the metal cage. They are a couple of people new to my blog role but people I do a little dance of joy when I see they have written anything new. One of the people I stalk is Rooked who is just plain and simple an amazing writer, I actually read his posts from begining to the end and that's saying alot for me, since I usually read his stuff early in the morning when the caffeine is just kickin in and I start to shake a bit from the overload to my system. He can turn a post about homeless crazy people and tornadoes into a work of art. I am a fan. My other favorite blog of the moment is Angela over at My Bella Figlia . She takes awesome pictures of her (almost as cute as mine) kids. Her posts are heartfelt, funny and just plain good. So go over there and read her now!

This is kind of taking the place of my rules for getting the awards and since it has been quite a while and those bloggers that gave me the awards probably think I have forgotten about them I really haven't! I have just been busy with life and school and love, and also all my new magazine subscriptions just came in the mail and everyone has been neglected, so please forgive me.

I am off to go and workout. I actually met the gym goddess yesterday and she is really nice. Bitch! She asked me if I was a hairdresser. Which I get that question alot and despite really wanting to believe its because my hair is so awesome I know its because most women can only fathom a hairdresser wearing their hair so short. "I wish I could wear my hair like yours" Which is what the perfect girl told me as she took her waist length hair out of her ponytail and it literally bounced on her back as it glistened in the sunshine (and it rained yesterday) . I almost told her to shut the hell up but I just smiled and offered her a power bar. Cause I'm nice like that.

Happy Friday !

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Everybody Get Random

Tuesday again. My favorite day to be random. Coincidence? Oh I choose to believe hell no. Once again I will be writing all the random nothingness that has happened over the past week . I skipped last week cause I was kind of in a "I don't want to write another blog post in my life" funk. Which I snapped out of after I got some sugar in my system (damn diet).

Speaking of diets (man I am queen of a smooth transition no?) I was at the gym this morning and working out on the elliptical machine watching what else on my iPod but How I Met Your Mother (yes I'm still obsessed, I have 3 seasons to catch up on, and on yet another side note I think Neil Pattrick Harris aka Barney, is the voice of Aladin King of Thieves. Crazy huh?) when this woman/super model/bitch I wish would die gets on the machine next to me. I am assuming just to kill time till she gets to go make some other gym goer feel self conscious and fat because she has about a negative 3 on the body fat scale and is built like a god or goddess I should say. She is gorgeous I mean in that way in the movies when the girl walks in the room and everything goes to slow motion? Yeah that way. Then to make matters even more humiliating as I am sweating and huffing and puffing through resistance level 4 she pulls out these weights about 10 pounds each and starts swinging them back and forth as she climbs her skinny ass up the stair climber. Is it wrong that I wanted her to drop one of those weights on her foot? Is it wrong that I wanted to grab the weights from her and drop it on her foot myself? I would have too, but shit have you tried to be on an elliptical machine only using one hand? Yeah not pretty. She finishes her 30 minutes gets off the machine and sighs as she dabs the non existent sweat off of her face, meanwhile I am thinking they made the "towel off your machine after you are done" rule especially for me. And off she goes to get on the treadmill as men and women alike fall over themselves to make room for her. There should be a separate room at the gym for the people that have already achieved perfection. Damn I sound bitter. I should work on that, eh maybe tomorrow.

So this last week I have been feeling kind of like a cross between having a heart attack with chest pain and an elephant walking across me with back pain. Now me not being one to worry (oh my god I can barely write that sentence without laughing) was slowly freaking out that I am having a heart attack and also simultaneously freaking out that I am going to get sucked into the cult that is the chiropractic buisness. Since my usual ignore it till it goes away or kills you routine wasn't working I decided to go with all four kids (I'm a smart one see) to my local PromtCare office since it was Saturday. I realized I had never really heard of people surviving 5 day heart attacks and what the hell would I do if I was dead and my kids had to be raised by the sperm donor? We didn't have to wait long and surprisingly my kids were decent acting. Partly because I had an endless supply of Valentines Day candy in my purse I was bribing them with and partly because there was a man in there with an oxygen tank that was fairly amusing to my boys who thought (out loud naturally) that he looked like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (we just got the movie on Friday night, plus he actually did kind of resemble the red one). I get in there thinking surely they are going to send me to the ER since I say I am having chest pain and back pain. Nope didn't even blink an eye, either they were all too concerned about Valentine 's Day plans later that day or they just didn't care if I keeled over in their parking lot. The doctor finally came in and Hello Mr Doctor, It's me Sarah Just wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know that even though you are a doctor and I'll even give you a hot doctor, please please speak up when you are asking me questions. For the love of medicine. I can not hear you when my 6 year old, despite my death glares, thinks it's hilarious to repeat every single one of your questions to me. I didn't think you would have looked highly upon me if I stood up and beat her right there in the office now would you? Maybe it was funny to you to make me keep having to repeat "Excuse me" Or maybe your mother just taught you how to use your inside voice. But next time lets take it up just a notch? That would be great. Anyway after careful examination you said my right lung sounded a little "fuzzy" and that you would give me some antibiotics and you also thought that I may have a kidney stone from the back pain. Since I have had two excruciating (worse than child birth) kidney stones I really didn't want to tell you I thought your were full of shit right there, mainly cause my 6 year old would probably have repeated it, but I went along with your peeing in the cup and humored you when you thought there was blood in my urine (sorry for the visual) and nodded my head when you told me they would send it to the lab and get back with me. Then of course did the I told you so dance on Sunday when your office called me back to tell me it wasn't a kidney stone. ( I know I am That mature). So I am not dying and I thank you for easing my anxiety and also its so super cool that the antibiotics you prescribed are also used to treat malaria. I like a doctor that covers all the bases. You're loving patient, Sarah

You know what show I miss? Cheers. When I was in high school my best friend dated this guy who wasn't in high school and he lived with a bunch of his friends right behind our high school in this cool (and in cool I mean shitty and scary and gross,but there was no adults so cool) apartment that we would skip school and hang out at all the time. There was this guy that hung out there that later became my best friend's ex husband and he was a big time stoner guy. Some would say "big time stoner guy" is a mild understatement but for the sake of the story let's just say he was always stoned. Whenever he would walk into the apartment we would all yell his name. (like on Cheers, see I did have a point to this )He would laugh uncontrollably and then go pour a bowl of cereal and all was well with the world. I miss those days and that show..oh and Night Court, now that show kicked ass .

Who else out there is comin with me to call bullshit on Joaquin Phoenix's hip
hop career? Seriously come on? What's with the crazies that come along with growing facial hair? Do I need to remind you of Mel Gibson ? Beard=Crazy. Well except for Letterman he just looked hot. (Sorry it is what it is)

Since I am on the famous people section of this post, does anyone else think its a tad unfair for Micheal Phelps's to get his endorsement deals taken away just for smoking some pot? I mean how many women did he beat up? Rape? Impregnate? And how come NASCAR racers don't ever get caught doing stupid stuff? I mean beside eatingpossum and marrying their cousins? I kid I kid. Shake and Bake baby.

So I am now going to show you the most awesomest Valentine's Day gift I have ever received and I am pretty sure it trumps all your lame flowers and candy gifts too so prepare your self for its awesomeness. It is called the My-vu Crystal. What it is is these Space Trek Starship (sorry I don't follow sci-fi) looking glasses that you connect to your iPod and you can watch your favorite videos, TV shows, movies on what appears to be a 50 inch screen in the sky!! It is soo freakin cool. So now instead of straining to see a movie on my tiny iPod nano screen (which was also an awesome gift from the boyfriend for my birthday) I can now lay back in bed and watch it on a 50 inch virtual screen. Sooooo cool. Yeah he got an extra thank you that night if you know what I'm saying. Come on now high five! (sorry channeling Barney from HIMYM again. Damn media influence.). Yeah he is the best gift giver ever. So now I have to figure out a way I can wear these to the gym without someone calling the mother ship to take me away.

He also gave me a card. Not much you may think but I love me a good card and he has told me when I asked him where my Christmas card was that he was "not a card giver" So imagine my surprise when I not only got a card for the big V-Day but also a cute little poem he wrote in there for me. Yeah he's the best (have I said that yet) Oh god I am almost vomiting at the gushy romantic shit this section has been overwhelmed with so I am moving on...

So as much as I love all of my followers and by love I do mean love. I was
slightly confused at my last follower who appears to be affiliated with some sort of church. I am assuming they are following me because I quoted a Bible verse on my last post about love, not because of my post on anal sex and my love of porn and bondage. Oh did I just write that?Oops. I know get the basket ready for me to go to hell in. I heard heaven is too hard to keep clean and shiny all the time anyway.

OK Ladies I know you are gonna be jealous of where I get to go tomorrow. Ready for it? The Chicago auto show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woot! Boo Yaaa! Yay me and my awesome
trip tomorrow!! (Did you buy it? Was that enthusiasm genuine enough?) I am in love with a car guy. The dealership his Dad owns gave tickets to what I think is something like the second biggest car show on the planet ( I think Mercury has the biggest. All those space car prototypes are popular there) and my boyfriend scored two free tickets! And guess who he choose to take with him??? ME!!! Score!!! YES! I am the luckiest woman to walk the face of the stratosphere!!(Too much?) I am sure he will see lots of half naked women on cars, (Do they still do that at car shows?) and I am really hoping they serve beer there, alot of beer.

I used to love vanilla ice cream with raisins when I was a kid. Now um not so much. But I do love broccoli. What the hell happened?

One final note for all my Central Illinois readers just a warning....Avantis is Satan.If Satan was warm and gooey and covered with butter. It calls you in with its warm bread and butter that I can never find in the store that tastes the same, the friendly guy at the carry out, the Italian music, the crowded lines of high college students. You're in there innocently enough for a garden salad, no bread please . The salad that seems harmless enough till they accidentally give you an extra loaf of bread. And extra loaf on top of the half a loaf that it normally comes with it and I said I didn't want, the loaf that they refuse to take back after I point out I didn't order a full loaf of bread. Cause who is crazy enough to not want more of its carbolicios goodness? The bread I find myself eating, alone, in a dark living room, smearing on butter and drinking wine and watching The Food Network while apologizing to my thighs. Stupid, stupid, warm wonderfuly smelling stupid bread. ( I am stomping my feet, cursing my lack of willpower).

Well that's all I am sure that was plenty and my brain needs a rest or a Red Bull I can't decide. Random Tuesday Thoughts is brought to you by Keely over at The Un Mom. Go check her out and read up on all of the other random facts of life that are thrown up on all over the Internet today! Happy Tuesday!!!