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I don’t understand death and loss.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I’ve gone through the process any number of times and the length of my list of dead and gone is colossal.  I have had careers die.  I have had love and passion die.  I have had my trust and my heart stolen.  I have had friendships drift away.  I have had marriages end.  I have had family that I loved dearly taken away.  Gone are houses, more than a few vehicles, massive quantities of other worldly goods, innumerable pets and most of my sentimental memorabilia.  I have lost my art and my lifestyle, even my freedom for a time (no it wasn’t prison).  Most everything for one reason or another, at one time or another has left me. 

Sure, there were reasons.  It’s not like I don’t take care of or am lackadaisical with what is important and necessary.  I’m not a total loser, only a part-time one.  I’ve worked hard for what I’ve had, but there have been some nasty obstacles to overcome and it’s likely I could have made better choices at different times in my life.  I could make you weep with my tragedies, but what would the point be.  I stopped crying long ago and learned to find a way to keep living.  It’s not like there is really any other conscionable alternative.  You breathe in and out.  You place one foot in front of the other.  You put your big girl pants on and continue.

I’m certain everyone experiences loss and death during their lives.  It’s part of life.  I get it.  I just don’t understand why it has to be so friggin’ hard or why there has to be so much of it.  I mean, you work your ass off and poof!  I learned a long time ago not to hold anything too tightly.  Never get so attached to a person, place or thing that their loss will destroy you.  Not that I haven’t been devastated many times over.  I have simply learned it’s an unavoidable part of life.  Still, this last couple of years, I’m starting to feel like I’m enduring my own personal seven plagues of the Apocalypse and I gotta say, even I have my limits.  I mean . . . really?  When is enough, enough?

Okay, the house burned . . . not all of it . . . what was left of the possessions went into the basement and rebuilding began.  Hey, I got a return on investment for years of insurance premiums.  The basement flooded . . . salvaged what can be saved and moved on.  I had to leave my job . . . so what, I had more time to deal with the rest of the chaos and I’ll get another.  Right?  Oh yeah, the cars that burned with the house and had to be replaced . . . was it really necessary for a tree to fly out of the sky and smash one to smithereens?  No problem, nobody was hurt.  Forget about the furnace that quit working . . . piece of cake . . . it doesn’t get THAT cold and what else are sweaters for anyway? 

It’s just stuff.  Belongings I loved and needed, but things that can be replaced to some degree . . . over time.  Fire, flood, storm, destitution and deprivation . . . did I leave anything out?  None of it is anything I’m gonna lose sleep over and the little every day disasters don’t even qualify for honorable mentions.  Would I have rather not have gone through it?  Of course . . . part-time loser, not mental defective with masochistic tendencies.  To hijack the old saying . . . been there; overcome(sic) that; got the t-shirt; and donated it to the Goodwill years ago.

I’ve got to say I’m having a bit of a problem with the pestilence.  I call it pestilence, but it’s really the black death of our generation . . . cancer.  It has struck all around me like a pharaoh’s curse.  I’ve thought perhaps it’s just that I’m getting old enough to start anticipating my friends and loved ones will start dropping like flies.  Hell, I’m not Methuselah, just your average middle-aged woman.  I’m not yet so elderly to begin a daily perusal of the obituaries to see who checked out today.  I wouldn’t think I should be partaking of that particular oldster’s pastime just yet.  Besides, it’s not the variety of health issues we expect our elders and peers to experience as youth fades.  It’s just freakin’ cancer.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle.  All you have to do is turn on the tube to see the extent of suffering in the world today.  The media frenzy is crushing with the 24-hour-a-day, play-by-play commentary of the havoc being wrought by man and mother nature . . . earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, draught, wild fires, oil spills, nuclear meltdowns, government breakdowns, stock market crashes, fiscal failure, home foreclosures, environmental devastation, starvation, terrorism, war, revolution, riots, child and drug abuse, murder and all manner of mayhem. 

We do seem to be circling the drain and I – for one – am getting pretty flippin’ tired of this crap.  Even I need a bit of down time between catastrophes and I’m better equipped to cope than most.  It is incomprehensible to me how some of the peoples of the world are managing to survive at all.  Almost everybody I know is experiencing tribulation of one sort or another.  No one’s sorrow is more or less significant than another’s.  When it happens to you, it is the worst thing you can imagine.

I’m making a formal request and sending out into the universe. 

Do you hear me higher power that I’m not sure how to address properly?  If you’re listening, I know a whole lot of us down here could use a break, so if you could/would . . . please.  I know I’d appreciate it.  We could use a hand, big time.  Anything would be a nice start.

While I’m waiting on an answer, I don’t plan to just sit on my duff.  I’m going to care for those in my charge as best I can; help others whenever and wherever I may; and try my damnedest to just breath.  To that end, I’m going to resurrect this all but abandoned blog.  Writing is precious to me and I love blogging.  I just let the calamities in my life squeeze it out.  I’m doing it for me and hope it will not be morbid and morose.  It may seem trivial to some, but there isn’t much I really have any control over these days.  This I do, so I will.

Dear Readers, I wrote this the end of September with the intent of posting it then but just kept putting it off.  I decided I had stalled long enough.  I don’t know if my higher power is working on getting us a little relief, but you all have been vital in my efforts to revive this blog.  MDR’s rebirth has exceeded my wildest imagining.  I will never be able to truly show you my appreciation, but I do . . . Thank you.

Note:  The first smart ass that points out there are only six plagues here will immediately have a plague visited on them.  I’ve already made the arrangements.

I’m in no way qualified to impart fashion advice.  I concede this because I produced, in my one act of procreation, a fashionista.  I have considered perhaps she may be a changeling, but my ego wants to take some credit for the divine creature purported to be my daughter.  She is a legit fashion maven.  She works in the industry and, unlike her unemployable mother, is much sought after regularly receiving offers to work for companies from New York to San Francisco.  I’d post a picture for your adoration, but she’d kill me.  She claims my Internet activities are part of the reason she’s still in therapy . . . that and 18 years of unlimited ridership on mommy’s crazy train.  She periodically expresses concern regarding my wardrobe and does what she can to steer me away from the more significant faux pas.

Now that we’ve established I am most certainly stylistically challenged . . . yes, that is me pictured above and pearls are too appropriate for every occasion . . . I can claim the benefit of my offspring’s guidance and believe myself capable of identifying some of the more egregious mistakes one can make when it comes to what you should and should not wear outside the privacy of your own home. 

Warning:  Some of what follows is NOT for the faint of heart or those with a weak constitution.  Continue at your own risk!

The classic jammies at the grocery store.

They may be comfy and warm and absolutely adorable, but we must not for any reason go to the store or anywhere else in our PJs.  The girl on TV can go to school in her pajamas, but that is because she is not leaving her house.  No, you cannot wear the bottoms with a tank top.  I know, they look like cute plaid, flannel pants, but I have been assured people will still know they are jammies.  The only exception is patronage of the local Walmart.  Wally World has received special dispensation for its customers, but you must go and return directly with no stops, not even for gas or fast food drive-thru.

Leggings, Tights, Yoga Pants . . . a rose by any name.

I know, I know.  I love my yoga pants and tights.  I have an array of colors and thought I was rockin’ the old lady bod in my leggings, boots and oversized sweaters.  I guess it’s one of those styles that – no matter how cool it was in the 80’ – has to be put away with the leg warmers.  It’s not fair, but only hookers or very young girls can pull this look off.  Unless you are under the age of six or a crack whore, you may only wear them for their intended purpose . . . yoga, jogging and other workouts.  No, you can’t be cruisin’ around pretending you just left Pilates.  Take a look at the picture . . . would you be buying that story?

The classic plaid shorts paired with socks and sandals.

Just like many other “oldies, but goodies,” no . . . not just no, but hell no!  Why guys?  The standard for men’s attire is not high.   Even a fashion retard like me can see this is wrong, but every summer there are the dissenters that somehow manage to convince themselves its okay.  It’s not okay.  Dudes, you are embarrassing your families, friends even total strangers.  If you insist on wearing shorts with socks, I have two words for you . . . Charlie Harper.  Google it, if you have to.  As for the sandals, if your feet are so ugly or cold that you need the socks, lose the Birkenstocks.  Only one group gets a pass here and that’s the Vets on Veteran’s Day.  They’ve earned the right to wear anything they want on their special day . . . except . . .

The pinnacle of crimes against humanity.

No passes.  No exceptions.  No special dispensation.  Never, not ever, no, NEVER!  Speedos should be illegal!  No one really looks good in them.  I don’t care how buff you are, it’s all about the package.  Fellas, you know what I’m talking about.  You either end up looking like a pervert, some poor under-endowed loser or these guys.  Do you think super-bling man there is over compensating?  Oh wait . . . we can see that he is.  Talk about leaving NOTHING to the imagination.  The only thing worse than Speedos are man thongs.  If you really want to put your junk on display . . . find a nude beach.  Please, somebody get me a fork.  I need it to gouge my eyes out!

The Great American Butt Crack.

Man, woman, alien?  What can I say?  It sneaks up on you.  You are powerless to avoid it.  You can never turn away fast enough to prevent the image from being burned into your retinas.  Once a phenomenon reserved for hairy, old plumbers, now its spreading like a virus.  There are so many solutions . . . jeans that fit . . . extra long T-shirts (they make them) . . . belts . . . squatting down rather than bending over.  I don’t care how you handle it.  Just, please, handle it.  You see some dude or chick and you’re thinking, “Nice ass.”  Then they bend over right in front of you, out comes the butt crack, and the moment is lost . . . forever.  Not sexy, just plain gross.  The only person in all of history to do it with charm is the little girl in the Coppertone ads and she isn’t bending over.  If she was, it would probably be gross too.

There you have it.  I don’t think it’s asking much.  The fashion monkey’s looking pretty fine about now.  Isn’t she?  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A little history to get ya’ll up to speed.  My baby here . . . Miss Demure Restraint . . . will be four years old on December 1st.  She’s been a bit schizophrenic in the past, but she’s responding well to medication.  I guess in a lot of ways she’s a reflection of my personal head space.  So what does that say about me? Yeah, I’m a little on the crazy side, but then what sane person gets on the internet and blindly writes to an audience that may or may not be there? Only a whack job exposes himself to the potential rejection trauma such activities may and sometimes do result in.  I think being a little nuts is an inherent trait in the artistic temperament.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, MDR was rolling on down the road, enjoying the ride and ran head on into a block wall a little over two years ago.  An incident, I can only describe as a “cat fight” broke out between a couple of commenters on one of my posts.  I have to take responsibility as I had the power to not approve a comment, but was intimidated by the “acumen” of the commenter throwing the first punch.  Then I felt obligated to approve the offended party’s response.  Long story short . . . things got ugly . . . fast.  I posted an apology and removed the comments, but something was broken I couldn’t fix.   I struggled for a short time to continue, but it just wasn’t the same after that.  I pretty much quit blogging until the beginning of last month.

I have made every mistake known to man in this blog, maybe even a couple nobody ever thought of.  Some of the comments on yesterday’s post got me to thinking and that can be dangerous even painful.  Yes, the smell of burning brain cells fills the air as I sit pounding away on the laptop.  I figure I have from agonizing experience learned a few things which I feel compelled to share.   I have to start with a disclaimer . . . there is NO wrong way to blog.  What I offer here is just a little common sense (I know the ultimate oxymoron) and suggestions on applying the bloggy golden rule . . . treat your fellow bloggers the way you wish to be treated. 

  1. Turn on your comment moderation function.  You are responsible for the content of your blog and that includes the comments.  Comments can be rather like an untended child.  You take your eyes off them for a minute and they will run into the street directly in front of a bus.  There are trolls out there people!  They can overrun your blog in no time at all.  Some of you are fully capable of dealing with them, but make it a conscious decision to leave your front door unlocked.  Don’t imagine for a moment they wouldn’t do it to you.  Well, maybe not you Androgoth.  Any troll taking on a vampire king will quickly regret it.  You don’t have to approve a comment that is offensive to you, your readers or your other commenters.  Don’t fall into the trap I did of being intimidated into approving something you aren’t comfortable having as a permanent part of your blog.
  2. Respond to the commenters on your blog.  Come on, it’s not hard.  Somebody has taken the time to read your blog and leave you a comment.  That’s a big deal . . . for me it is.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  The easiest way I know is to reply to the comment on your own blog.  You can do it as part of the approval process.  If you have time to approve the comment, you can at least say “Thanks.”  I have known some people that send an e-mail response.  I just got one yesterday, as a matter of fact.  Still others will go to the commenter’s blog to respond.  I freely admit I have failed in the past to take this simple step.  I have no excuse, but stupidity and failure to engage my brain.  I’ve learned it is important to let people know their effort was appreciated by acknowledging them.  Duh!
  3. Comment on your commentors’ blogs.  I figure if they spent their precious time on me, it’s the least I can do.  I was never so impressed as when a couple of the “pressed to death” bloggers not only responded to my comments on their blogs, but actually managed to take the time to visit me and leave a comment.  Sure I hadn’t gotten to their blogs through “Freshly Pressed” and didn’t even see their “pressed” posts until much later.  Still, these guys found a way when they were dealing with an overwhelming response burden.  I think I can safely say we all love comments.  It feels good.  Payback people . . . payback.  Take the time.  Read a couple of posts.  Find something you can comment on.  The upside is you may find some interesting people and places you will visit regularly.
  4. Make relevant comments and don’t spam.  Read the posts you comment on.  Personally, I don’t want to sound like a lame, inappropriate blog monkey.  Get a feel for the tone of the overall blog.  I would never comment on Always Curtsy When You Sneeze or The Waiting the same way I comment on Angry Rant or Barking in the Dark.  It’s fine to say, “Love the post,” but try to say something pertinent about the post you are commenting on.   Never make a comment simply to promote your blog.  Its spamming, rude and jackassary in the extreme.  You have a link back to your blog when using your WordPress account or by providing your URL.   Set your Gravatar up to include your blog.  Don’t just show up and say, “You should see my blog . . . assclownspammer.com.” 

Okay, this post is now officially way too long, but I have to say one more thing.  The people you see commenting here are the best.  They have taught me to be a better member of the blog community and as different as each of them is, I believe, they represent what blogging should really be about.  They are also some of the best damn writers I’ve had the pleasure to read.

Play nice and people will play with you.  Be an ass clown and they will take their ball and go home.  Oh yeah, it never hurts to link to your buddies occasionally in your posts.  So, now for the fun part . . . its your turn.  What do you consider proper blog etiquette?  What are your pet peeves?

The first job I ever had was working as the “nurse” on-duty in the snack bar for the Big Sky drive-in theater.  I know what you’re thinking . . . okay I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking, but skepticism would not be unreasonable at this point.  I’ve scoured the internet and can’t find a single reference to this lauded profession.  If I hadn’t lived it, I wouldn’t believe it myself.  So stay with me and I’ll try to explain.

Teenagers in Ancient Times often hung out at the local drive-in theater.  It provided the perfect venue to get away with all manner of mischief . . . drinking, smoking, hooking up, brawling and general mayhem.  Theaters frequently catered to the demographic by playing horror flicks . . . always popular fair with the youth of America.  When I was about sixteen it became fashionable for these masterpieces of fright to be advertised as so terrifying that – to assure the safety of the general public – a “nurse” would be on duty in the snack bar during the showing.  Yeah I know, these days there would be a huge legal liability associated with such a claim, but remember we are talking about the Stone Age here . . . a nostalgic era prior to torts and class-action law suits.

Of course, it wasn’t a real nurse, rather some unfortunate, young girl in need of making a couple of bucks and I do mean a couple.  A friend of mine had the job before me.  She was given an opportunity to advance to a position behind the counter provided she could find someone to take over as the “nurse” on-duty.  Enter moi’.  The only requirement for the job was the ability to fit into a “uniform” consisting of a very short, plaited, white skirt and matching halter top that was closer to a bikini top than any kind of shirt I’ve ever seen.  Ownership of a pair of white boots was preferred.

My interview for this lofty occupation was donning the costume and doing a couple of twirls for the manager.  I started that same night.  I had to lie about my age, but you could do that in the Olden Days.  Nobody asked you to prove who you were or whether you were a citizen or held a valid green card.  I don’t even know if there were green cards back then.  I was issued a nurse’s cap and my life saving tools . . . a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer (Say that six times fast).  Thus equipped, I was literally thrown to the wolves.

There wasn’t normally much to do while the movie ran.  Once intermission commenced, it was a different story.  A horde of pimple-faced boys and middle-age perverts would descend on the snack bar.  These male miscreants had inevitably been so scared, they felt the need to be attended by a nurse.  This basically amounted to applying and pumping up the blood pressure cuff while protecting your womanly virtue.  Not once, in my time plying this trade, was it necessary to care for a female victim of the gruesomeness on the silver screen.  Go figure.

Needless to say, I survived the rigors of this employment experience with little more than a few bruises and blisters from the boots.  I can’t remember just how long it took to follow in my predecessor’s footsteps eventually landing the much sought after rank of ticket booth cashier, but I will always be able to say I was a teenage drive-in theater snack bar nurse.  How many people do you know that can lay claim to that?  Do you think I should add it to my resume?

You can be 35 or 55.  It doesn’t matter.  We either die or get old.  It is, however, feasible . . . in this youth centric society we have evolved . . . to forestall the obvious signs of aging for an indefinite period of time.  I mean, really, have you seen the 60+ ladies in the “Lifestyle Lifts” commercials?  These “old babes” are putting the 50-year-old Bowflex hottie from a few years back to shame.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in doing anything that makes you feel better about yourself.  Kudos to these with the means and the balls to fight off the ravages of time for as long as possible.  Still, no matter how much we workout, nip, tuck, plump, lift, cover, “yada, yada, yada” . . . there are still a few sure signs that “maturity” is settling in. 

“Submitted for your consideration.”

  1. You find it necessary to negotiate with your beautician or barber the percentage of gray hair you have.  A dear (and younger friend) was recently informed that her tri-foiled locks were — if left untreated — more than 50% “arctic blonde.”  If you are among the uninitiated, “arctic blonde” is the new “PC” term for gray.  How bad is it when we can’t even call it gray hair anymore?  Still, it is a true sign of encroaching age when you are confronted with being grayer than you think or can possibly accept.  Girlfriend reached a compromise with her stylist settling on an “arctic blonde” ratio of only 25 to 30 percent.  Hey, I’m not gray . . . those are arctic blonde highlights! 
  2. You don’t mind that couple of extra pounds, if it means your butt don’t sag.  If you’re there, you know what I’m talking about.  I never gave it any thought until happily losing some unwanted pudge, I caught a horrifying glimpse of my backside.  Sure, you expect some things to “go south,” but really?!?  You struggle to keep the “junk in the trunk” to a minimum only to one day realize the “junk” is all that’s propping it up!  Thank goodness we live in the 21st century.  All it takes is a pair of Booty Pops to make everything right with the world.  Wonder bra . . . check.  Booty Pops . . . check.  William Shatner-style girdle . . . check.  I’m never taking my clothes off again!
  3. Cheaters!  Not spouses that are fidelity challenged, but those cheap reading glasses.  You can’t deny them.  You can’t disguise them.  There is a distinct correlation between qualifying for AARP membership and the cumulative length of time they are on your face in combination with the number you own.  Mine once served more often as a hair band, less as a visual aid.  Now I can’t function without them, so it’s a pair in each room of the house, the car, my purse, the computer tote, the garage, even a couple in the miscellany drawer.  Of course, I’m not old enough to go to the optometrist to get bifocals.  God forbid!
  4. Hair that grows where it shouldn’t.  This affliction differs person-to-person as well as between men and women.  The universal indicator of encroaching decrepitude is, however, the unruly eyebrow hair.  I believe they spontaneously appear and aren’t visible in the privacy of your own home, but you get out in public . . . you will see it in any reflective surface you get near.  It’s generally half inch longer than the rest of your eyebrows, the consistency of wire and sticking out at some bizarre angle.  It will also be impossible to discretely pluck.  I have found long bangs to be the only sure method of hiding one until it can be ripped out with a stout pair of pliers.
  5. Last, but not least . . . your off-the-cuff references mystify those still in possession of their youth.  You qualify as an oldster if any of the following apply.  You remember when Johnny Depp was on 21 Jump Street and Tom Hanks was on Bosom Buddies or Sean Connery was 007 and Roger Moore was The Saint.  You used aluminum foil to improve TV reception or 8-inch floppies in your IBM XT.  You owned an Atari, Commodore 64 or Apple II.  You ever did the watusi, the hustle or the twist; Moonwalked with Michael; Cloned with Molly; or Superbowl Shuffled with the Bears.  You can see where I’m going with this, right?  “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” 

All of that said; I reckon knowledge is power.  Thus empowered, I figure with constantly changing beauticians, meticulous personal grooming, proper foundation garments, never reading in public again and keeping my big mouth shut . . . I’m good for at least a few more years of being one of those women of undetermined age.   Well, that’s my plan for now . . . maybe a consult with the “Lifestyle Lift” people . . . of course, I don’t need one yet . . . perhaps just a little resurfacing or Botox . . . was that an anti-aging cream ad in the sidebar?

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