Friday, September 30, 2011

The night the kitty-saurus had an adventure.

It was a warm and lovely day. I got to talk to a few friends who stopped in at work (I must admit, I missed that part of working in retail. Until someone I don't like comes in, in which case I'll wish I was working in a factory again.), and got to spend time with The Hubby. We even went for a walk at a  park, and walked about a mile. Of course, then we rewarded ourselves with ice cream.

When we got home and settled it was starting to get late, so we started getting ready for bed. I kept hearing a cat who sounded an awful lot like our Juggabutt, but there are also a lot of other strays that run around. They seem to be drawn to the porch area, especially since my cats like to hang out in the window that faces the porch. So I tried to ignore it for a minute, but it quickly started to bother me. It sounded exactly like Jugga, and The Pants was meowing, too. She's helpful like that. Anytime they are low on food or water, or if one of them hacks up a hairball, or if Jugga's in some sort of shenanigans, The Pants will follow you around and meow like the world is coming to an end until we figure out the problem. This is the only time she does this.  I looked out on the porch and in front of the porch, but couldn't see anything, and once I was out there I couldn't hear anything, either. Shit. I had The Hubby go check our bedroom to see if both kitties were safe, because it wasn't looking good for us.  The Pants was in there freaking out, meowing desperately to let us know that her frenemy was in trouble, and indeed, the Jugga was nowhere to be found.

The next 30 minutes went something like this:

"I think she's in the wall."
"No, she can't be in the wall, there's no way for her to get in there!"
"Maybe she's in the attic. It sounds like she's in the attic."
"No, she can't be in the attic, there's no way for her to get up there!"
"Could she have gotten outside and under the house somehow?"
"She could have gotten outside, but when? And there's no way for her to get under the house. She's gotta be in the closet. Did you check your closet?"
"Yes, and she's not in our closet, and the sound is coming from this side of the hallway. She's gotta be in the wall or the attic around the bathroom closet."
"She can't be! I don't see how she could've gotten in there."
"Are there any holes anywhere that she could have gotten into to get up into the attic?"
"No, there aren't any holes anywhere, we sealed all that stuff up. Are you sure she's not in the closet?"

And repeat. Sigh.

Closets were ransacked *repeatedly*--no kitty. This whole line of conversation was punctuated by me calling for her and her responding. And almost every time we'd call Jugga to try and get a better idea of where the hell she was, The Pants meowed, too. I think maybe she was trying to help us call her, but her yowling was interfering with our ability to hear our stuck kitty.We could even hear Jugga scratching occasionally, trying to get through. My heart was pounding, but I was going to get my dinosaur-kitty out of wherever she was. The in-laws were using the generic "Here kittykittykitty," which never works for our cats (they respond to their names), so for a while when we were looking outside they weren't getting any response from her. So when I got back in and heard that, I started to panic when I wasn't getting any response either. But I think she was just like "WTF?" since after a few times of me calling her name she started responding again. There was no doubt about it, she was in the wall. We just had to figure out how to get her out.

Like they said, they'd sealed everything up (...Except for the two spots that they eventually mentioned, one of which she had used to get up into the attic. Stab.) so there wasn't an easy way to get to her without putting a hole somewhere. So they dragged a chair into the bathroom closet and ripped out some of the paneling in the wall at the top of the closet, giving us just enough open space to look and shine a flashlight. And pull out a kitty. We could hear her meowing, and she could see the flashlight beam, but it didn't seem like she was moving closer. So got up in the chair and called for her, and finally I could hear her scrambling. Obviously she had dropped down some from the attic floor into the wall space, and had to climb back up to be able to get out. I was about to cry at the thought of Jugga getting stuck in the wall with no way to climb out (she is declawed, after all), but I stuck my hand up into the hole in the closet anyway so she could hopefully see where to go.

There are no words for how happy I was to see whiskers and a nose finally peek over the edge of the hole... She climbed down so she was at the same level as the hole, but that still left a foot of a drop onto the tops of the clothes hanging up in the bathroom closet. She wasn't jumping it and she wasn't letting me pull her out all carefully and stuff, so I petted her and got her purring and happy while The Hubby grabbed her legs and I got her around the neck and shoulders and pulled. And out comes a filthy, scraped up, musty-smelling kitty-saurus, meowing and purring and rubbing against my ears, neck, hair, and face. 

And all was well with the world again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Labels, labels, labels.

Thanks to Mama Kat's for the writing prompt!

"What's your stance on 'labeling'? Were you labeled as a child? Have you labeled your own children? How do you feel about this?"

I spent years trying to fit in somewhere, but never quite getting there (in my opinion at the time). I didn't wear the right clothes, because Mom was a rational person and didn't buy her four growing, messy kids expensive name-brand clothes. By high school I was just fine with that, but middle school felt awkward. I always had awful haircuts that I hated, but it wouldn't have mattered because my hair was impossible anyway. Even then I had a quirky, sarcastic sense of humor, and enjoyed being around people who joked and goofed off more than I enjoyed people who mostly talked about livestock and sports and shopping. I didn't participate in the right extracurricular activities (well, any extracurricular activities), and the only makeup I'd occasionally wear would be either blue mascara or some bright eye shadow. I'd paint funky designs on my fingernails, and an early run in with a busted-up water gun thanks to my youngest brother meant that I wore glasses from 3rd grade until I got contact lenses in 8th grade. At the same time, I enjoyed art, which could stretch across the aisles of status, and singing in choir, which for the most part enjoying that was primarily a higher-status activity. I also loved running and playing basketball, which I found out was also a higher-status activity. The only people who made the basketball team were people whose older brothers or sisters had been involved in sports. Seriously. So basketball was out, and then we moved to a school district without a girls' basketball team, making that a moot point. I also loved reading and writing and drawing and rocked at spelling bees, and was a great student who made good grades.

I don't know if I was labeled as a kid, or what my label would have been. I was smart, well-behaved, and was able to get along with everyone since I had a wide range of interests and was quite a chameleon in social situations. I wasn't in any one "group" all the time, if I wanted or needed to talk to someone I would without any problems. Honestly, I just hated being rude, so even if I didn't like someone for whatever reason I'd just try to muddle through any situation without putting my foot in my mouth or otherwise being a dick. I always wondered if there was something wrong with me that made me so sensitive to that kind of thing and made it so difficult for me to find my "place." 

In any case, I wasn't un-popular, but I worked hard to make sure I wasn't going to be made fun of. There was a sweet, scrawny guy who happened to have to squint despite his ridiculously thick glasses, and whose pants were always a little too short, and who was always tripping over his untied shoelaces, and I stopped crushing on his adorable face because I was made fun of. He was also a little dumb, but I had been willing to overlook that, until another friend found out that I liked him and teased me endlessly about it. That friend still, in fact, teases me about it whenever we talk, but at least now I will admit proudly that I adored that mess of a kid when I was a kid. The one I'm really ashamed of though was one of my best friends who lived right down the road from me, who I dropped because it wasn't cool to be hanging out with someone a grade below you. After we moved, I called her and apologized to her for being so shitty towards her there at the end, and  she was gracious enough to forgive me, but still. There were plenty of kids that were labeled negatively. I had no problems interacting with any of them, and my heart would break for them when I'd hear them being talked about by the more popular kids, but I never had the stones to defend them out of fear of the barbs being directed towards me instead. I wish I could change that, now, because I knew even then that most of their battle was the label they'd been stuck with, and a label isn't a whole person.

My first turning point was in about 8th grade. I'd been friends with this one guy forever--our parents worked together--but he'd become more popular and started to get more fun out of teasing and torturing me than being a friend. Standing in the lunch line one day, I was happy because we were actually having a normal conversation, just chit-chatting to kill time, minus the meanness. I actually thought things were maybe changing from me walking on eggshells around him to me being able to be friends with him again, when suddenly he stopped talking, looked me dead in the eyes, and said, "You know, you're so cool. If you just changed up your hair and clothes a little you could be cool like us."  I was floored. People aren't supposed to actually say that out loud, are they? But he did. I'm sure he was just trying to throw me a bone since we had been good friends for a long time. He was trying to *help.* And although I appreciated it, and his honesty, I was suddenly okay with my in-between place. I picked my metaphorical jaw off the floor and very eloquently said, "Nah. I'm good." I'd think that would've pretty much stopped that conversation, but everything after that is kinda fuzzy.

Once we moved and I started high school I went through a few more transformations before landing in my comfortable self. I was all over the place for a while, still trying to fit into what others wanted me to be. So still, no label that stuck. And it definitely helped that my high school was *tiny.* There was not a lot of  grouping off in my class, as in groups that excluded others, but there were a couple of people that were pretty much anti-the-rest-of-the-class. With under 30 people in our graduating class, it was kind of noticeable. I was the wise-cracking smart-ass who usually wore a band tee-shirt (usually black) with jeans, wore converse sneakers, had an eyebrow ring. But still, with no "groups," there weren't really "labels." And I'm happy to say the people I was closest to at graduation are the people I'm still close to today, even though we may not have anything in common but our friendships and our abilities to always have a blast together.

I'm a more complete person now than I was then. I'm comfortable with my love of jeans/band tees and with my love of cute dresses and skirts, with sneakers and flats, with goofy slapstick comedy and snarky political humor, with heavy metal and Katy Perry, with retail or factory work, with blockbuster movies and indie films, with being a homebody and loving to travel looooong distances with friends or family, with hating cleaning and loving to watch shows about it on HGTV, with being extremely compassionate at times and cold and unyielding at other times.

Labels are easy to use for those we think we're never going to interact with, or when you're sitting in a restaurant or otherwise out in public trying to have some fun observing the masses. We all do it, and that's okay. But once you actually spend time around someone, and you definitely should before forming an opinion about them, you should be able to see them as the individual they are rather than the label you originally applied to them. People sometimes live down to their labels, often suppressing those other wonderful aspects of themselves that don't fit within that label. Because everyone has those conflicting things about themselves that they love, and how the hell are you supposed to stick just one label on that?

I don't have children yet, but I sincerely hope that when/if I do I will be able to pass that lesson on. I'm guilty of labeling at times, but I try not to let a preconceived label keep me from getting to know someone better in order to replace that label with their name. As in, "That's So-And-So. She's awesome." Or hell, maybe she's not. But I'll give her quite a few chances to show me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's in a name?

Thanks to Mama Kat's for the writing prompt...

"What's in YOUR name? What does it mean? Why was it given to you? etc.."

Most of you already know me, I'm not going to lie. I'm pretty sure my only readers at this point are friends and family IRL. That's cool. I started off not wanting to use my name, and I'm still not going to use my last name on here, or the actual names of those around me. But my first name, now... I guess if I want to expand the readership of this blog beyond the thankfully kind, biased eyes of family and friends, perhaps having a name other than The ZB on here will be a better, warmer introduction. To new readers outside my circle of frequent face-time, I hope this will serve as a lovely sort of internet handshake. Or a hug. (Maybe one day I'll even post a picture.)

Hello. Let me officially introduce myself. 

My name is Beth. Full first and middle name? Elizabeth Ann. A nice, classic name. However, I happen to also be blessed with an assortment of nicknames, which are not necessarily nice or classic. I am frequently Bef to those who haven't mastered the "th" sound. Usually these are children, but not always. I have been known as Baby (as in "Nobody puts Baby in the corner"), B-Dawg, Lizard, Dizzy, Zabeth (just once, but I'll never forget it!), and Beefy. 

I was once the "Bif" half of the best-friend duo "Bif and Flem," coined by a guy friend of mine who already called me Bif occasionally. Then one day (I was told) he was feeling rather phlegmy and while hawking up a good glob he thought of my then-bestie. Sweet, huh? To throw her off track he spelled it Flem. He never told her that part of it though, he just showed up at school one day calling us Bif and Flem. 

The ZB, short for Zesty Bitch, was a nickname given to me by a then-stepbrother's best friend, who I worshiped. I worshiped the stepbrother too, but it was more of a hero-worship rather than the massive crush bestowed upon his friend. More on that some other time, but that nickname has stuck for a LOONG time. 

As for my given name, I share the name Elizabeth with my granny. Silly me, I assumed there was some sort of connection. At some point in my 19th year of life The Family was on vacation, and I'm pretty sure I learned The Truth while we were driving through Memphis. We somehow got on the subject of names, and I said something about being named after Granny. There was a brief pause, then Mom shook my little world when she said, "No you're not!"  Nope, she said, "I really liked that KISS song 'Beth,' and I wanted a little girl named Elizabeth that I would call 'Beth.'"

Can you say "identity crisis?" Because I had a little one there.

I don't remember my exact reaction to this mind-boggling news, but my mind was most definitely boggled. Then the outrage: I hate being made a liar, and now I felt like I had lied every time I had told someone I was named after my granny. How was I going to go back and tell everyone I had ever talked to about it that I was named for an awesome KISS song?? Because I definitely felt that was necessary.

So that's what my name is, what it roughly translates to, and why it was given to me. And although I've already said what it literally "means," that's not all it means to me. To me, it's a reminder of how you should never make assumptions about anything, that sometimes things that seem dull, quiet, and boring have a glimmer of awesome hiding underneath, waiting for someone to polish it up and find out what they've been missing.

And that my mom's secret badass-ery stretched a lot farther than I previously thought. I hadn't even really known she was a KISS fan. 

Kids, never underestimate how much of a badass your parents are. Maybe the only thing that stood between your parents and a rock-and-roll lifestyle of demonic grease paint, flame-attracting hairspray and tight leather was a little thing called "opportunity."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Surprisingly, there's not a single cuss word.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have the good sense to know when I'm being insulted. I hope you have the good sense to know when you should be ashamed of yourself. I'm letting things go (...again), but only because I sincerely believe you do not, in fact, have the mental capacity to realize how infuriating your comments and actions are.

I deeply hope that someday soon The Hubby and I will be able to move far, far away from here and everyone we know. Those who would actually be missed are important enough in our lives to hopefully understand that no amount of distance can destroy a strong relationship, because at this point those who matter are considered family anyway. And we always find a way to connect with the family members that matter, whether it's through phone calls, texts, Facebook, or Twitter. Or those super-fun road trips we all love, but that don't happen often enough.

In the meantime, to those who infuriate me and make me want to move as far away as possible, I will borrow the words of a dear friend of mine: You make me want to reach out and touch something... violently.


The ZB

Friday, September 16, 2011

Keep your chin up, kid. (Or something else positive.)

September is halfway over, ish. It has not been good to me. Surely (or maybe not) you remember this post from the end of last month, where I mentioned losing one job and starting another the next week? That was all well and good, as it kept me getting a paycheck for a couple more weeks, but I absolutely couldn't stick with it. Turns out answering phones at a call center is not a job I would ever want in a million years, and although my coworkers seemed cool and not every call was awful, I didn't get to interact with my coworkers much and most calls were, in fact, awful. Just because I was able to calm the majority of the angry people on the phone down does not mean I wanted to keep dealing with assholes.

For future reference to anyone who reads this, if you have to make a phone call because of a question or a problem, please understand that it's not the person answering the phone's fault that the wait is long, nor is it generally their *personal* fault that your shit ain't working (especially if they're in another state/country), and it sure as hell isn't their fault if your shit ain't working because you haven't paid your bills. And yes, you most likely DO owe "all that," and having them repeat over and over in 10 different ways why you *do* in fact owe all of it does not make it any less true. And although you aren't exactly calling someone on their personal phone when you call a company regarding a customer service issue, it is in fact a full-fledged, living, breathing human being you're talking to on the other end. And they don't like being treated like shit any more than you do. Yes, there are some idiots that answer the phones, and there are some that have serious attitudes. But maybe if they weren't having to deal with people yelling, cussing, lying, and threatening them all day they'd be a little more relaxed rather than feeling like they're pulling out a sword for self-defense when they're putting on that headset. It's a vicious cycle.

I lasted a couple weeks before I couldn't stand the thought of going in another day. I don't like feeling like I'm being verbally assaulted every time I answer a call, and that's seriously what happened. I understand that people are pissed or confused when something's wrong, and that the wait to speak to someone gives plenty of time to stew in it. But again, give the person answering the phone a chance! Also? Hanging up on them doesn't solve your problem. It doesn't get your services turned back on if you haven't paid your bill, and if you hang up after threatening to switch to another provider...  It's not exactly weighing heavily on the heart of whoever you were just screaming at unnecessarily. (When are people everywhere going to figure this out? Same issue in retail!) Besides, we all know that if you want any further help you're just going to have to call back and wait again. You're basically fucking yourself over at this point.

So what all that means is that I'm unemployed again. Huzzah. And we're still living with my husband's parents. *sob* And it's the time of year when I already tend to be, um, emotionally frazzled (yeah, that's what we'll call it...), for a number of reasons. Plus there are approximately 2,439,576 different things going on with friends and family at the moment that make me want to make an effort (why must I love?), and The Hubby's got something kind of major in the works, but I'm not going to talk about that until we know more.

I just hope that something breaks soon, whether it's a new job, the house getting finished, or whatever, so that I can stop feeling like everything's so up-in-the-air. Everything's just a big question mark right now, and it's driving me nuts.

But hey, no job means more time to post! In theory. Yeah, totally more time to post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

About the October issue of Redbook. Well, part of it.

Today I got my October issue of Redbook in the mail, and learned a valuable lesson about research.

I have been a subscriber for about 6 months or so. I like this magazine, and can easily read it cover-to-cover without skipping through it, like I sometimes do with magazines like Cosmopolitan--it applies more to single women--or Marie Claire--I'm too poor for their fashion--or magazines that focus mostly on parenting (yeah... not a parent, either). While Redbook does also feature all that stuff, I feel that the variety that their magazine has applies better to my current life, and is more focused on the balancing act that adults do. Redbook is good for those of us who are married or otherwise not-single, whether you have children or not. Then again, I'm a person who enjoys reading parenting stuff, too, as a way of preparing for becoming one myself... whenever that may be. So Redbook is perfect for me, because it focuses on the more practical, day-to-day lives of actual women who aren't *only* concerned with learning about the hottest sex positions, luring in a man, and what the best drink of the season is. Yeah, it definitely covers those topics too, but it doesn't seem to be so damn desperate while doing so, and I can enjoy reading those articles without feeling slightly skeevy. Not gonna lie, though--I also have a subscription to Marie Claire (got a deal for getting that and Redbook together through and I always pick up the newest issue of Cosmo in stores. It's a habit now, and The Hubby will even ask "Do you have that one?" On second thought, maybe I'm not the only one reading it... **(That means go to the ** at the bottom of the page real quick, but then you should definitely come back up here. I shouldn't have to explain things.)

In any case, Redbook's my favorite. But this time when I grabbed it out of my mailbox I was disappointed to see Jillian Michaels on the cover with the quote "I would sacrifice anything to be a mother." As a disclaimer, I do not watch much TV these days, especially reality shows, and so although I know who she is and what she does I have never watched a single episode of any of her shows. Apparently she's excited to be branching out to daytime TV, and good for her for fulfilling that dream. My disappointment was because the first thing to pop into my head when seeing that quote was "Yeah, she'd sacrifice anything but her flat belly." For those of you non-link-clickers, here's what I'm talking about from her 2010 interview with Women's Health:
She also hopes to have kids someday, saying, "I'm going to adopt." One of the reasons: Jillian admits to having an aversion to pregnancy, the result of being an overweight kid. "I can't handle doing that to my body," she explains. "Also, when you rescue something, it's like rescuing a part of yourself."
And you know what? Bravo for her for wanting to adopt, and according to the Redbook article, she's been in the process for quite a while now. I hope it works out for her soon, because it's a heartbreaking process, and she's definitely frustrated because she thought it would be easier than this. As it should be for people trying to rescue kids from a messed up system. I don't care why she wants to adopt, I wasn't one of the people that got all up-in-arms over her apparently wanting to adopt so she can keep her figure. Didn't care, at least she was honest. But my first response was still basically a snort/smirk when I saw that quote on the front of my beloved magazine, because of the, ahem... contradictory previous remark she had made, and because of my tendency to be a smartass. It made me wonder if anyone else was making that same connection, or if there was any further information. You know how the media has a tendency to spread the sensational but keep the corrections on the DL if it makes them look like dicks for posting the original story.


I discovered that after the uproar over that interview, she clarified her statement, which she says was misconstrued. Although she did say in the interview with Momlogic that she had admitted that her having previously been overweight could be a part of why she's leery of getting pregnant, the primary reason is a much bigger deal, and she didn't say anything about it to Women's Health: She has endometriosis and PCOS, and has been told she would require surgery in order to be able to get pregnant. She says THAT'S what she couldn't handle doing to her body. And you know what? I believe it.

Endometriosis and PCOS are no joke, I have friends with both and know from talking with them how much of a struggle having children is when you're dealing with those conditions. I whole-heartedly support Michaels's decision to adopt in the face of that issue, and I understand why she wouldn't necessarily feel the need to come right out with that in the original interview. It's personal, and it's most likely a bit of a sore subject for her. I'm one person who thinks celebrities aren't required to share every aspect of their personal life and health, nor do I generally care. At the same time, it's a shame that she's more afraid to admit to a fertility issue than to admit that the weight gain might be a part of why she's hesitant to get pregnant. 

At the beginning of this post I said that I learned a valuable lesson about research. Here's what I learned: Do your freaking research if something bothers you. It's okay to have an immediate smirk/snort reaction due to your general state of smartassery, but get more information before publicly hating on someone you've never met. I was all ready to be a total dick and slam Redbook for putting that quote on the cover (Still, though, I bet others thought the same thing if they didn't hear about the clarification--or maybe even if they did--and I'm kinda irritated that Redbook said nothing about the "controversy" in their interview...), but I researched it myself so I wouldn't be an ass *unnecessarily* to Ms. Michaels herself for being a skinny-bitch liar. And since I have enough reasonable doubt to believe she wasn't only concerned about baby weight, I'll let it slide with a heartfelt "Good luck with the adoption process. And I don't think you're just some skinny-bitch liar, like SOME people might."

However, I will clarify this and say perhaps a different quote could have been used on the cover? One that wouldn't spark such a reaction (and a blog post) from an inquiring mind? It may even have prevented the possible negative reader feedback the magazine may receive on that topic. Of course, there's also the possibility that I'm the only person in the entire world that cared, or noticed. In which case, carry on, and I'll continue to research things that make me go "hmmm..."

**And please note, although the first part of this post may seem like a freaking ad for Redbook, it's not. I'm not getting paid for it, wasn't asked to post about it, and not trying to wrangle any comments or free shit from them. This was all my opinion, because something bothered me. And if you feel differently, or the same, about any of it, feel free to comment!