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This one time, these squirrels….

This one time, these squirrels………..

When I was in college at USC (South Carolina) I decided to walk off campus one day, to the downtown area, and crossed the Capitol grounds to get there. On the way back, I saw a vendor selling peanuts to feed the squirrels that lived there. There were quite a few squirrels. I thought, “Oh-ho, I’ll do that,” with this Disney image of Snow Freakin’ White in my head, all the cute little animals gathered around, all of us singing some happy-crappy song…….LOL!

What actually happened is that I sat down on a bench with my bag of peanuts, threw out the first few…………and then was swarmed. Squirrels on the bench, on my lap, hanging over my shoulder, one scrabbling in my hair, all aimed directly at that bag of damned peanuts…….

I’ve always been an animal attractant. Dogs, cats, rodents…..a couple of times, I’ve even had hawks swoop down and land feet away from me. And let me tell you, those buggers are HUGE! But these squirrels, now……..they wanted those peanuts, and they weren’t going to wait around for me to dole them out, singing ‘Whistle While You Work’…….

Long story short, the squirrels won. I threw the peanut bag as far as I could, and the stampede followed…….and as soon as I was able to detach the one whose itty bitty nasty claws were tangled in my hair, I was OUT.

Lesson learned? I’m not flippin’ Snow White, and never EVER assume a squirrel won’t tear your ass up, for that peanut.

Since You Asked, Here’s What I Thought of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo….Here It Comes!

Kids, you asked for it. Just saying…

First, let me start with this……….I LOVED the books. It took me some time to get into the first one, but then I just devoured them. It’s always a little hard for me to watch a movie made from a book I adored……the details aren’t right, the characters aren’t as I pictured them, and I’m so concentrated on the ‘back story’ that one often doesn’t get with a film (especially if I’m watching WITH someone who hasn’t read the book), that I tend to have a hard time NOT explaining things the whole time. And then, you have the inevitable plot changes that accompany the ‘book-to-movie’ deal, and those always piss me off, no matter how necessary…..

The gist, overall, I suppose, is this………I’m a movie nut. I love them. That’s always going to be swaying me to the side of being positive about any film. So, here goes.

In this remake, I liked Daniel Craig as Blomkvist, and I was relatively surprised by that fact….he was able to put more vulnerability into the role than I’d have suspected he was capable of, although it seems to me that care was taken to NOT allow the character to be too ‘unsympathetic’, as evidenced by the lack of his involvement with Cecelia in the film. With his becoming involved with Salander, and already obviously involved with Erika, it might have been too much for the viewing public to accept, and still allow him the ‘heroic’ role. To be honest, although Blomkvist is the protagonist in the series, I often found, while reading, that I wasn’t entirely sure that I liked him. Characterization in films is usually more black and white, so I wasn’t too surprised by that turn….

I adored…….let me say again, ADORED Rooney Mara as Salander. Again, I wasn’t sure that I would, at first. I’m not certain that my initial judgments on her portrayal weren’t colored by my having read ALL THREE books already……..but at first, it seemed to me that she was far too ‘don’t look at me, I’m invisible’……I didn’t like it. Reading the series, you come to know Lisbeth Salander as well as any other person COULD know her, and most of that knowing comes from extrapolation and intuition, mined mostly from details of her behavior. She’s meant to be almost unknowable, and then with our continued exposure to her character, to become, not so much transparent, but to become a reflective character, our ending perception of her dependent on the reader’s ability to empathize and draw conclusions about her character based on what we discover are her well-deservedly tangled motivations.

That said, as the film progressed, I was able to see some character movement on Mara’s part………..the ’opening up’ of Lisbeth Salander, and realized that, yeah…..without the backup of words on page, it had to be difficult to translate this particular character to film.

I won’t go on and on, kids, I promise…………Overall, I enjoyed the film, possibly because I love movies in general, and it has to be pretty darn bad for me to NOT watch and like.

In a nutshell, here’s my opinion: The film treated the original work fairly well……not too many horrific plot deviations (although enough for me to wiggle in my seat, until I could say out loud, “THAT’S not what REALLY happened“, to the hubs). I was able to ’believe in’ the two main protagonists, Blomkvist and Salander, so that didn’t constantly distract me from the action and conversation. Because I’d read the books, I’m not too sure of how well the various conflicts and details were explained……….and I explained them to the hubs, so he wouldn’t be unnecessarily distracted by NOT knowing. I did NOT like the plot change that involved Harriet’s final reveal. Obviously, Christopher Plummer was amazing, and his just being IN the film gave it more cache….

One thing that I DIDN’T like, or understand……….the gratuitous footage at the beginning of the film, during the opening credits. Not that I have anything against the footage itself…….it was extremely creative, well shot, well edited………I’m not entirely sure what the point of the whole sequence was. Lisbeth Salander does, yes, live in a kind of fringe culture…….but nothing like what that first montage suggests. Unless the montage was meant to symbolize the serial killings we later learn about? To me, it was a stretch, and gave an uninitiated viewer an entirely unrealistic idea of exactly what type of film they were about to see. In my opinion, gratuitous.

Overall, I’d give the film a B, if I had any supported ability to actually ‘grade’ movies………LOL!

Maybe it’s a good thing I’ve never been tapped for this sort of thing? Probably.

Department of Defense MAY Have Made a Bad Call…..

So…….you guys remember the whole deal where my hubs (who’s served in the US military for 24 years) was trying to apply for VA benefits, and found that the gov’t had lost his proof of having been deployed?

Shortly thereafter, I received in the mail a survey. From the Department of Defense. Asking me, as a military spouse, how ‘supportive’ I felt that the military has been, of my spouse, during his career, and what my feelings were regarding such.

One look at that survey, and the hubs said, “Oh, HELL…….They don’t know who they’re asking, do they!?”

Here are a couple of the answers I gave, to questions in the vein of, ‘how do you feel about how your spouse regards his service’, and ‘do you feel that the military has been financially supportive of your spouse and your family?’

Y’all take a breath, ’cause here it comes:

*A. My feelings regarding my husband’s participation in the Air Force Reserves are mixed at this point. He moved from Active Duty to the Reserves in 1994, and has been very pleased and proud to serve.

Unfortunately, in January of 2011 he was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus Type II. Since that time, he has been No Points, No Pay, No Participation. He was informed that he was disqualified from military duty due to being insulin-dependent, and was told that his re-enlistment would not be honored, forcing his retirement from the Reserves. Despite the fact that his forced retirement is involutary, and stems from a medical problem, he has been informed that he is unable to be medically retired, and will thus not receive the benefits inherent therein.

In addition, in attempting to apply for benefits through the VA, we have discovered that his DD214s for deployments have been lost, and no one seems to be able to locate them. This causes severe limitations regarding his VA benefits.

The entire situation has led to a kind of disillusionment for my husband. He has loyally and proudly served his country as an Active Duty Airman, and as a Reservist, assuming that his dedication would be recognized and rewarded accordingly, per his exemplary service record. It unfortunately appears that this was a faulty assumption.

A serviceman who has spent his entire adult life in service to his country should not have to struggle, scramble, and fight to receive the bare benefits due him by right.

B. We are in a situation that is untenable. Due to the lack of additional Reserve pay in the last twelve months, we have fallen further and further behind in our financial obligations, and have had to file bankruptcy to attempt to catch up.

I am a Registered Nurse, but am currently unable to apply for Utah licensure due to the complete lack of necessary funds to do so, making our financial situation that much more dire.

I would HOPE that the military will be able to locate my spouse’s DD214s so that he can then receive accurate benefits from the VA. I would also hope that there could be some review of his retirement status; since he is not allowed to re-enlist and is forced into retirement for a medical reason, it escapes me how a medical retirement is not allowed or approved. If the purpose of receiving a medical retirement is to allow for immediate support and treatment of illness or injury for the retiring serviceman, it seems ludicrous that this is denied to him.

After his lifetime of service, it pains me to see how disillusioned and disappointed my husband is with the military, and with his government, for allowing this kind of shabby treatment. I believe that it makes him feel unappreciated and misused. And, in my opinion, we are in a sorry state of affairs when lifelong service does not earn appreciation, respect, and supportive treatment from those one has served.

Thank you for this opportunity to relate our experiences and feelings.*

I’d guess it’s true. They picked the WRONG bitch to survey……

Past Unposted Posts. Sort Of.

Hey kids! Putting up a couple of things that got posted on Facebook, but were written before I did this blog set-up…..

This one is from November of 2011:

 

At best my train of thought is……..skippy……….so follow along as best you can, if you’re interested, that is….  🙂

I’m a redhead. Yes, I get some help with that…….I mean, my lord, I’m 43………and the grays aren’t just creeping in, they’re forming a royal corona on my head! But since my high school days, when hair coloring became the monthly event that it’s been ever since, no matter what color I use, it always comes out red (from strawberry to ‘holy shit maroon’)……….except for this one time.

That reminds me of a story…………

There’s a joke in that phrase; an old one that goes back to my Mom. To digress for just one little minute, it’s something that comes from her. My Mom always has a story………she taught school for over thirty years, moved house at least thirteen times (sometimes cities AND states), had seven brothers and sisters, and grew up with the Boomers’ generation (a child of the Fifties, teen of the Sixties)…………..so there’s no shortage of stories to be had. When she retired from her profession, she was presented with a book. The title was “That Reminds Me of a Story”………and it was blank. I don’t think she’s written any down, in the book, yet…….but I’m so hoping that she does. My memory holds a crapload of information, but no WAY could I hope to duplicate the preponderance of hilarity HER memory holds…..
I’ve been told (ad nauseum) that I do the same thing…….when I leave a place of work, or move, my friends always tell me that they’re going to miss my stories…. Which is odd, considering that I’m not usually aware that I’m telling them…….

At any rate, thinking about haircolor (and musing that it’s about time to ‘re-up’) reminded me of a story……….

Back in the day, in my twenties, I had three small children (this is prior to the birth of the fourth), and I used a store-bought product that purported to produce ‘Ash Blonde’ results………in my case, it produced Strawberry Blonde, but that’s neither here, nor there….
During a trip to WallyWorld, we purchased a backup box, since I’m forgetful, and usually don’t think of ‘renewing the red’ until it’s way overdue…….the box sat there in my bathroom cabinet for the rest of the month, with me bypassing it for lack of ‘me time’, what with the little kids and all…….
One evening, when all had been put to bed, and there was actual quiet in the house, I decided that although I needed to clean and vacuum, I might actually be able to get my hair done. I scurried upstairs, quickly mixed up the potion (I’d done this hundreds of times, no need to read the info), and raced the clock to get my cleaning done in the allotted 25 minutes I had, before it was time to shower out the chemical.

Cleaning accomplished, I hustled back upstairs to the bathroom, stripping on the way in (I’d passed my 25 minutes by about 5, no big shakes, what’s the harm?) and streaked past the mirror on my way to the shower. I got about two steps away before my brain said, “Wait just one damn minute. PERIPHERAL IMAGE ALERT!!), and I backed up to do a double-take in the mirror.

My hair was black. BLACK!!! Not ‘oh I’m a brunette’ black, or ‘I have a Native American heritage’ black………….it was ‘I just dipped my head in a bucket of tar’ black! BLUE BLACK……..’I’m a Goth before it was even invented’ black………

I stood there numbly, staring at the bizarro, vampire-esque creature in the mirror…..and then frantically dug through the trashcan for the used product containers……never let it be said that I’m not a charter member in the “This CAN’T have HAPPENED!!” club………..if I found out ‘why’, maybe it wouldn’t be real? I have no idea. It’s all blur for those next few moments, until I dug up the empty chemical bottle that said, “Coal Black”.
“Coal Black”…….in a box that was supposed to be “Ash Blonde”……..now, I’m sure some jokester was yucking it up when he/ she made the switch (those were the days when these boxes weren’t glued shut)……….but whosoever had done this evil thing sorely missed out on the result of their wit.
Once it was real………REALLY REALLY REAL……I burst into sobs, and just stood there, looking at my undead image. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m pale…….Irish heritage and all………….and I like to use a term to describe my skin color (I believe it was coined by actress Amy Adams) as ‘fish-belly blue’………..with my hair masquerading as tar, I looked like I’d last seen the sun rise back in the Middle Ages.

A few minutes into my pity party, I heard my daughter (who was three) calling for me…..apparently, I’d waked her up with my caterwauling. I composed myself as best I could, called, “I’m coming!”, and stepped out into the hallway, to find her standing sleepily outside her room.
She blinked. She blinked again. She rubbed her eyes……and blinked. Her face crumpled up, tears started rolling, and she said:

“OH NO, MOMMY!!!!! You look like SNOW WHITE!”

 

Post Script: I got a lot of the blue-black bleached out……which took the color from ‘undead black’ to dark brown….which eventually faded to reddish brown. But I think that was the first time I ever scared a child by looking like a cartoon. Not that it was the last!!!

Later, kiddos!

Fat Lip Days…

I realize, of course, that with this being my first ‘official’ blog, I should be writing a Welcome Message, extolling everyone to come and play, read my random thoughts and ideas, and generally starting the ball rolling, but……….

I woke up this morning with a fat lip.

Nasty, horrific cold sores, oh how I despise you!!! There’s nothing in the world like having some gratuitous, undeserved, unearned, and truly foul virus that sporadically comes back to haunt and taunt you when you’re pretty much ALREADY feeling like crap-on-a-stick…..

Pre-period week? WHAM!…….. “Oh, hey there my host, did you forget about me?”

Cold/flu/stomach virus? BA BAM!……. “Hi, my host! Just dropping by to leave you a little reminder that I’m here, and I won’t ever leave you!”

To make matters worse, I somehow either ended up with a strange variation of the herpes simplex 1 virus, or my body/ immune system ‘reads’ it in a different way………..yes, I eventually end up with the yucky, crusty, easily identified mouth lesions. But before that happens, whichever lip is so lucky as to rate the newest visitor SWELLS UP, like I’ve been popped a good one in the mouth by a hasty fist whose owner didn’t take well to my sarcasm.

Which reminds me of a story………….

Several years ago, I woke up with a fat lip. It was my lower lip……….and since I’m one of those lucky individuals that seem to have no UPPER lip, to speak of, it looked……..atrocious. You know that feeling you have when you’ve been to the dentist, and your lower lip is still numb, and feels like it’s protuding at least an inch from your face in a grotsque parody of a Neanderthal? That’s what my lower lip looked like. Lovely.

At the time, I had four children living at home, and it soon became apparent that I’d put off going to the grocery store for way too long. Yes, kids, I was going to have to venture out to Walmart…..

Since you can’t really go into a Walmart with your lower face wrapped in a scarf, a la terrorist chic, I tried to at least make myself more presentable than a usual Walmart run warrants. Ergo, I did not set out in pajama pants and sweatshirt, but instead put on ‘real’ clothes, fixed my hair, and made an attempt at naturalizing makeup. This was a relatively small town, and I was pretty much guaranteed to run into people I knew, at which point I would then have to make inane, herpes-deprecating comments to get the hell away on my business, and get the hell out of Dodge, as quickly as possible. This, I knew and expected……….

After several obligatory exchanges with acquaintances, during which I almost WISHED I’d come swathed in a scarf, Taliban references or no, I finally came to the last stop I had to make……the bread aisle. As I hunted up the standard bread items I needed, I noticed a woman…….a stranger to me…..that seemed to be watching me. All herpes-activated paranoia aside, I kept catching her staring at me, and lingering on the aisle, when she clearly was no longer looking for bread-related products. One of the times that I glanced her way, and caught her looking at me, I gave her that automatic, polite, yes-we’re-both-in-Walmart-hell smile that you give……….which seemed to give her the opening she’d been waiting for.

While I was reaching for the five-grain wheat bread, I realized that the woman was right beside me. In my area….you know, that special little bubble of space that only friends, family, and grubby children are supposed to enter. ACK!

As I tried NOT to look like I expected a knife to the ribs, she leaned even closer to me, and said, sotto voce, “Get out NOW, while you still can!” She didn’t step away.

I stared at this stranger with what I know looked like abject terror on my face………she had looked away, as if checking for anyone that had been eavesdropping, and then she turned back to me. With an expression of pity and ‘understanding’ glued to her features.

I’m usually pretty quick, but that one got me…………..it took me a couple of seconds, but I finally GOT IT. She had noticed my fat lip, and probably my hunching, hurrying posture (which, in reality, was get-me-the-fuck-outta-this-store-as-quickly-as-possible body language, but which she had read as abused-woman-hurrying-from-embarrassment body language)………..

She had stepped out of the traditional stranger-politeness role, to try to help me.

So I did the only thing I could do, at that moment………I glanced down, smiled a small, tremulous smile, and said, “I am getting out. Thank you.”

She patted me on the back, and walked away.

I bought my eggs, milk, Pop Tarts, and bread………..and got the hell out of Walmart.

Some of you might think, as I did that day while driving home, that it wasn’t the right thing to do. After all……small town. But the conclusion I eventually came to regarding the whole deal was this; a perfect stranger saw someone she thought was being hurt……she tussled with herself, debating whether to intercede, or not……..evidently, she came to the decision that it was wrong not to at least try……..by my going through a long, drawn-out explanation of my herpes lip, she would have been embarrassed, and would have felt the need to apologize………

Did I do the right thing? I have no idea.

One thing I can tell you, though, is that Fat Lip days suck large.

Later, kids!