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"Yes, we can."

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Adventures in Online Dating, Episode 4: The Tale of the 400-Pound Catfish [Jun. 29th, 2014|10:56 pm]
"Yes, we can."
[feelin' a little... |furious]

I guess it was bound to happen at some point: I've been catfished, y'all. (Catfish, as defined by Urban Dictionary.)

But never fear, not in the traditional sense of a total stranger making up a persona that I could fall in love with. Rather, this was an extremely idiotic attempt by a man I barely know to try to turn his wife -- my friend -- against me. Thus, I present to you, The Tale of the 400-Pound Catfish.

So, to give you a very brief backstory, I have a friend who's currently in the midst of getting divorced. Ultimately, this is a good thing, even though it's still scary for her. Because her husband is a horrible person. Like, truly. In all the time I've known her, I have never heard a single redeeming quality about this man. Rather, he is emotionally and verbally abusive to her and she has been miserable and trapped for a long time. Her self-esteem is completely shot. He makes fun of her (including telling her she's getting fat, etc, when he himself weighs 350-400 pounds). He controls all the money and doesn't let her have access to their account. He keeps tabs on her day and night. He goes through her emails/texts/phone records/etc. This is not a healthy relationship by any means. It's like she's in his metaphorical chokehold.

So they separated last month. She's been staying with me and other friends in the meantime. Meanwhile, he continues to pick fights and try to control her even when she's not physically around him.

Okay -- got the gist? Trust me on this one -- he's a piece of shit.

So, last week, I got a text from the friend -- her husband was trying to tell her that I had 'favorited' his profile on Match.

Several things here: First off, FUCK TO THE NO. I knew I hadn't favorited his profile -- fuck, I hadn't even seen his profile that I was aware of, and if I had, I sure as shit wouldn't have added it to my favorites.

Secondly: Why did he tell her that? To try and hurt her, because this is what he does. To try and make her jealous and/or mad at me.

Third: He's still married and they haven't even filed for divorce yet -- this all happened like four weeks ago. Why are you even on Match in the first place?

Furious, I opened up the Match app on my phone -- in between teaching two classes at the gym -- and screencapped everything showing the people I had favorited or liked (which are very, very few). And no, he ain't one of them. I sent the pictures. She and another friend had been talking about it, and they obviously agreed that they didn't believe him in the first place, but they were so confused about why he would tell her that.

Now -- cut to this past Wednesday. When I was writing my previous entry, I went through all my older Match emails to make sure I hadn't missed any gems. And when I went back a few weeks, I noticed a message that I had totally ignored the first time around.

When I originally got that, I remember glancing at it and rolling my eyes because I knew the guy was just trying to get me to talk back to him. It was a ploy to make me think I'd made first contact and initiated conversation. I was like, what an idiot, no way and closed that window, ignoring it and never giving it a second thought.

Until last week -- when I realized that the email's wording had striking similarities to what the husband had told my friend.

So I clicked through to the profile -- and do note the lack of a profile picture.

Yep, all the details match up. And you see that profile headline at the top? "tired of wasting my time"? That is verbatim what he has been telling my friend over and over throughout this process -- that he is tired of wasting his time with her (even though he also keeps trying to suck her back in).

Wait! It gets better. I then found out that he had taken a picture of the email HE sent to ME and sent it to my friend, trying to use that as "proof" that I had been trying to mack on him.

So yeah, here's his "proof" -- sorry for the blurriness, but I guess he took a picture of the screen with his cell phone & also cut most of it off. The complete absence of logic is mind-boggling.

So, it's blurry, but you see how it says "Is a favorite" under my name? He was trying to tell her that it meant that HE was one of MY favorites. Does he think any of us are that fucking stupid? It means he favorited me!

So just in case there's any lingering doubt, here's a screencap of people who have favorited me, with some helpful edit marks to show what I'm talking about (and I've blacked out the info of the other guys on the page).

See up there at the top in the circle? That says "fave'd me," meaning it's a list of all the guys who have favorited me. Why look, there's his profile right up at the top.

See that arrow pointing to "Favorited on 6/12/14"? That's when he favorited me -- the same exact day he sent me that email.

So, to summarize -- this motherfucker tried to catfish me into starting up a conversation, so that he could then go to my friend and tell her about how I was trying to hit on him. Why? Because this is what abusers do -- they try to isolate people from their friends, eliminating their support system until they feel they have no option but to go back to the abuser. Now tell me -- would you recommend staying with someone who so blatantly demonstrates psychopathic tendencies?

So, my ladies of Match, be forewarned: if you receive a message from "movingon_9450," IGNORE IT. Or better yet, write back and tell him what a complete sack of shit you think he is.

So there you have it -- I officially have one catfishing episode under my belt! I'm still waiting on random dick pics, though.
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Adventures in Online Dating, Episode 3: First Match-Made Date [Jun. 25th, 2014|10:29 pm]
"Yes, we can."
[feelin' a little... |contentcontent]

First Match-Made Date! Hey, I went on my first date this weekend. And I didn't get murdered, maimed, or manhandled, so that's a plus. This guy (I'll just call him D, but get your mind out of the gutter) had messaged me a few days after I joined, and 1) he actually read my profile and commented appropriately, and 2) appeared to have a sense of humor. So we chatted for two weeks and then got together for dinner on Sunday, right in the midst of World Cup madness.

I actually kind of hate meeting new people. I've always had a certain amount of social anxiety in these sorts of situations (but give me a microphone and throw me in front of a fitness class of 50 strangers and I'm totally fine). I think it's because I just hate having to behave so well. There's a certain amount of tension in my body as I assess the general situation. Do I need to eat slower? Do I have to sit up straight? Can I curse? Are they gonna understand my Doctor Who joke? Do I have to keep smiling the whole time so I don't look bitchy? OH GOD MY THIGHS ARE SWEATING, KILL ME.

Luckily the date went well. After the initial awkwardness -- and the awkward location, since we were sitting outside (in the humidity) at a bar counter while everyone else in the restaurant periodically screamed at the TV -- I relaxed a bit. He was very nice, and pretty easy to talk to. I ate fish tacos and made a mess of myself. I freely admitted my ignorance of beer. I spoke at length about installing a new toilet in my house. I took my contact lenses out, at the table, when it got late. None of these things seemed to strike him as too bizarre. We met at 6 p.m. and finally left at 10:30 when they were actually shutting the bar down.

So, overall, that's a win. And we have tentative plans to go out again this weekend. But now I don't know how I'm supposed to deal with Match. I've never been the type of person to go on multiple dates with multiple people at any given time. It just seems weird. Do I keep contacting and/or responding to other people? Do I hold off on that until I see if this goes anywhere? No one else is striking me as particularly interesting right now, but I also haven't spent a huge amount of time on Match searching -- I get the daily emails, and I glance through them and read a few profiles, but that's about it.

Lulz of the Week:
As predicted, things have calmed down a bit since I am no longer the freshest slab of meat thrown out on the sidewalk. However, I am still getting several messages a day. And Match helpfully summarizes these for me:

I'm having a good week! Well, how about that. So if no one responds to you at all, do you get a sad-faced email that says "Bummer, better luck next week?"

As it said, I got four emails in the past week, which include these:

seriously, want to get a drink some time?

This came from a guy who had emailed me previously, and all he said was "I'M CRAZY ABOUT YOUR PROFILE." I had glanced through his and decided to put him in the "no" category because his bio didn't make much sense. So I never responded, and he waits and week and then sends that. It's not the weirdest one I've gotten, but I find it amusing that he has not actually tried to initiate any sort of conversation -- he just wants to meet. Seriously, dude. Put forth some effort.

You are beautiful :-). Dinner, movies, play, outdoors or road trip would be fun or sports game. I'm on Facebook too. Love to chat and get together. T*** K*****. 502*******

So I added the asterisks. Out of nowhere, this guy gave me his name and phone number. Bold move. How do you know I'm not a psycho? Also, I'm gonna say 'no' to a road trip with a guy I've never met before.

That being said, I think that generally, guys on Match are much bolder when it comes to wanting to meet. There's the lure of potentially getting laid, sure, but they also don't have the same fears that females do (i.e., that the guy we're meeting is going to rob/rape/kill us). It absolutely sucks that I feel like I have to be so cautious (I told D, for instance, that I would not give him my number until after we met, even though we'd been emailing back and forth each day for two weeks). But the state of the world we live in is for another rant, another time. In the meantime, bro, if there are no threads of trust spun between us, then no, we are not gonna meet up.

Until next time!
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Adventures in Online Dating, Episode 2: A Way with Words [Jun. 15th, 2014|10:54 pm]
"Yes, we can."
[feelin' a little... |sleepysleepy]

It's not even been a week into this experience, and I still feel like I'm "behind." But then again, I also think that maybe I'm treating this too much like an assignment. I don't have to go read the profile of every single guy who likes/favorites/winks/whatevers at me. It's not like I'm being graded on this or will get a performance evaluation at the end of the fiscal year ("Sorry, but you received a 5-point deduction because you did not respond to "sexylexguy" within 24 hours after he emailed you").

But that's kind of how my brain works -- all in or nothing -- so that's how I've been treating it, and I need to let that go. My goal is to allow myself to back off and relax. I'm supposed to be meeting people and having fun, right?

So I told my mom tonight that I finally joined Match, and she was practically giddy. She and Rick told me a little about their experience with the site -- it's how they met -- and Mom reminded me to "weed them out carefully" and "always meet in a public place" and "don't give them your phone number right away." Thanks, Mom, got it.

Luckily, some guys are easy to weed out. Here's a sampling of messages from various dudes I've received the past week.

You are very attractive. Want to chat?

Um, thanks, I guess? But couldn't you have, you know, looked through my profile and started up a chat based on any of our common interests? For the record, that was both the subject line of the email AND the body of the email. Nice.


You're profile is so interesting that I had to stop by and say hi. Can I interest you in a dinner conversation someday? Can I take you out on a date sometime? I would like to meet a sweet girl who is interested in traveling around the world. I am looking for a girl who is interested in a long term relationship.

About me: I am a high school teacher at a small high school for gifted and talented students in {redacted}. I am the only science teacher in the whole school so I have to teach all the science subjects that a typical high school student will take. They pay me $52,000 per year and the students are really nice so I am happy to teach the kids here.

I know in your profile you are looking for a white male. If you change your mind please let me know. You are very beautiful and we would get along so well. I am a little bit out of shape and it would probably take one year of hard work at the gym for me to get beautiful strong legs like yours. Email me and we can see all the X-men movies together. {he put his email here}

There's a lot going on here. One, if you're trying to ask me to dinner/meet up on first contact, then no. Slow down, hoss. Also, I don't really need to know how much money you make right off, but thanks for the info. Also, lulz at going to the gym to get "beautiful strong legs" like mine. I'm actually kinda flattered at that one, lulz. Also, hey, he at least read through my profile.

So there's all that. But then here's the kicker -- this guy is located in Texas. How are you going to try to take me to dinner from Texas? Do you have a private plane? Are you an actual X-Man with teleporting capabilities? How did he even find my profile among the thousands across the country?

I am looking for someone that likes to be hugged besides fountains. Roses, dinner and movie if that is you.

Thank you

I can appreciate a man who knows what he wants. Bravo, sir.

So, we've established that there are some strange people in the world. But have I met any "possibilities" so far? Maybe. I've been emailing with a few guys (and that spreadsheet is looking better and better, because it's already getting hard to remember what I've talked about with people). More on that later.

Also, I'm hoping this is a completely coincidence (and that this isn't some guy who stalked me via Match and figured out how to find my Facebook profile), but I also received this gem this week through a Facebook direct message:

Who says romance is dead?
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Adventures in Online Dating, Episode 1: The Lulz Begins [Jun. 12th, 2014|10:39 pm]
"Yes, we can."
[feelin' a little... |busybusy]

You wouldn't believe how many times people have suggested I try online dating. Well, if you're a single woman over the age of 22, then yeah, you probably actually would believe it, because the entire world thinks it's a travesty if you're not hitched to a man and spawning by the time you're in your mid-20s. Over the years I've gone from "NO WAY" to "Well, maybe in the future" to "I really should try this" to, finally, "Fuck it, sure." My sister met her (current) husband online. My mom is dating a man she met online. I have at least a dozen friends who found their partners this way. What's the big deal?

The big deal is, it's really hard to put your face and perfectly culled life story out there for strangers to judge. Really hard. But I digress. After years of meeting my dates through work or friends -- with moderate to limited success -- I gave in and made a Match.com profile. I signed up for three months, because although it kept saying I was "saving 20% over the monthly price" by buying in bulk, I literally could not figure out how to buy just one month at a time. Oh, well.

So I went with this picture for my profile pic, because it's a very recent photo and for once I was having a good hair day, which is such an unusual occurrence that everyone at work actually commented on it.

I threw in a few other photos. One of me kickboxing, one of me holding the 2012 UK Men's Basketball NCAA Tourney championship trophy (the real thing), me in a sparkly CATS shirt, me on the TRX, me in Vegas wearing a shirt that says FABULOUS. Basically, "I LIKE UK BASKETBALL, FITNESS, AND LULZ" in photo form.

Despite the fact that I do a lot of writing for a living, I was a bit at a loss regarding what to put for the bio. It's hard to encapsulate everything you stand for in approximately 250 words. I went with this:

I enjoy a lot of introverted activities (reading, writing, watching movies) but have an extroverted streak (teaching fitness, karaoke). I am most fulfilled by creative endeavors. I like to laugh. A LOT. I try not to take things in life too seriously and look for others who do the same. I am into a lot of geeky things and am more comfortable discussing the social philosophies behind the X-Men than I am talking about kids or romantic comedies. Fitness is a huge part of my life & I'm looking for someone who can respect that, or better yet, join in on the fun. Lastly, while I have a deep appreciation for sarcasm and a little biting humor, I also look for honesty, respect, and patience from a friend or partner.

And for my "headline," I wrote 'Girl geek, restless writer & fitness fanatic. Do u even lift, bro?' because I figured if anyone 'got' that, it would be an instant signal that they are a fellow nerd.

I activated my account Monday night, at approximately 11:30 p.m. (it took me well over an hour to complete the profile and process). I got an email saying, "Thanks, someone will review and post your profile in 24 hours or less" -- I guess because some people just want to post dick pics or something and they need that level of censorship to keep the dating pool at least a little classy. So I went to bed.

When I got up the next morning, I checked my email first thing, as usual. And my Gmail had exploded. My profile had gone live overnight, and I had 30+ notifications already.

Match is sort of like Facebook on crack. I had notifications that people 'liked' various photos. That people 'liked' my profile. That I had been 'added to favorites.' That 'so and so is interested in you.' That I 'Caught his attention at 6/10, 7:34 a.m.!' I received several 'winks.' And I also received a few actual emails.

Needless to say, it was overwhelming. As I told my coworkers later, it was like I was a slab of raw steak that had been thrown out to the wolves.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mean this to sound like I'm bragging, because I definitely don't think it's because I'm sooooo hot or attractive. (I shudder to think at how much attention the truly 'hot' girls out there must get when trying these services). I'm a new profile, and I would have popped up as a new person to all these guys looking for women in my age range. And I'm sure many of these guys use the 'spray and pray' method of messaging/winking/liking every single girl who looks like she even remotely has potential.

"I bet that was a huge ego boost, though!" said my friend Sarah when I was describing the first day.

No, not really, I told her. Especially not when half the messages were generic throwaways like "HAY GIRL, SUP?" and a majority of the men were above the age range I'd specified (look, I know that love knows not the bounds of time or whatever, but I have my limits here). Trying to parse through the notifications took a good hour. You gotta read what it says, go to their profile, read through their life story & personality quirks, and then decide if you're also interested. It feels kind of cruel to look through a profile and then click the big X at the top. Like, who am I to judge if you're a genuinely interesting person based on a short quiz and a single paragraph?

Oh, wait, you spelled six words wrong in your single paragraph? Okay, nevermind. I'm judging. NOPE.

So I cleared my feed Tuesday night, approving some guys, answering a few messages. Wednesday morning, I got to do it all over again. More new guys. More notifications. More fucking winks, what does that even mean?! Just say something, for God's sake, do you have something stuck in your eye? I'm already starting to get confused about who I've talked to, and about what. This cannot end well. My friend Jessica, who met her boyfriend on Match several years ago, said she kept a master sheet of usernames, full names, and topics discussed in emails and chats to keep herself straight. I might have to go that route if I don't want this to become a total clusterfuck.

Bottom line? This shit is work. Why can't I just adorkably stumble into some guy, dropping all my mail and squeeing about how clumsy I am while the guys picks up my stuff, like in the movies? That would save me a lot of hassle.

NEXT TIME: The best lines of the week.
Linkyour point of view?

WUT. [Jun. 12th, 2014|10:00 pm]
"Yes, we can."
Whoa, two years, huh?

I've been thinking a lot recently about how much I used to write, how easily the words came, and how much I used to enjoy it. The satisfaction of laying out my thoughts in an easily digestible (and hopefully entertaining) manner.

I sort of lost that habit. It happens. I work all day, and then go to the gym and teach most nights. I'm out with friends. I'm binge-watching The Office or Orange is the New Black. Writing and journaling kind of fell by the wayside. But I've had the itch to write again lately. A bad itch. I just was kind of hampered by the lack of direction. I mean, hell, if I wanted to write -- or read -- some boring paragraphs about what I did each day, I'd go to my Facebook feed.

However, I recently embarked on a new, absurd adventure, and that would be entering the world of online dating. And good God, is there writing fodder. I've only been a member for two days and already I've got shit to share. I figured it would be a good spark to get things rolling.

So I present to you, Adventures in Online Dating. May it make you smile and give me the kick in the ass I need to keep the words flowing.
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Dad. [Jun. 19th, 2011|12:35 am]
"Yes, we can."
[feelin' a little... |sadsad]



“Here,” I said.


I held up the DVD case I’d plucked from the shelf. I can’t remember what I’d picked out, but it was something respected, no doubt. Highly reviewed, well-known actors, an action movie or highbrow comedy. Intolerable Cruelty, or Master & Commander, or The Italian Job, maybe.


He nodded, indifferent to my picks as usual, and instead held up the movie he’d chosen himself.


“No,” I said. “Dad, we’re not watching Snow Dogs.”


“Why? What’s wrong with this?” he asked.


“Because it’s dumb.” I walked on, surveying the shelves for a replacement.


My parents rented a lot of movies. In college, when I came home for the weekend, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from Friday night. Dinner out somewhere local, often the Pasquales in Morehead. Sometimes a visit to the grocery, where Dad would toss in packages of cookies or sweet cinnamon raised bread in the cart when Mom wasn’t looking. And usually a trip to Movie Warehouse, where Mom and Dad would shuffle past the shelves at a snail’s pace and argue over whether they’d already rented a particular film:


Mom, holding up DVD case: “This one looks good.”


Dad: “We’ve already seen it.”


Mom: “I don’t remember watching this.”


Dad: “Because you fell asleep halfway through it.”


On this particular trip, it was just Dad and me. I’d gone along with him as a chaperone of sorts, with instructions from Mom to not let him come home with anything stupid.


But Dad couldn’t be swayed from his original choice, despite my best arguments. After another 20 minutes or so of searching, we’d come to a stalemate. I could rent my critically acclaimed action or comedy, but he wanted to watch Cuba Gooding, Jr. race some white Siberian huskies.


At the checkout counter, we slid the movies over to the clerk as Dad pulled out his rental card. The clerk checked the case spines and read each aloud as I cringed with embarrassment.


“That’ll be [Intolerable Cruelty] and Snow Dogs for six-thirty-six,” he said.


Dad handed him the rental card and stuck out his left thumb, pointing at me. “Yeah, I know,” he said to the clerk, shaking his head in a you-know-how-ridiculous-kids-are manner. “She really wanted to rent Snow Dogs.”





Dad was funny. I’ve met fathers who are stern and humorless, and others who are overgrown goofballs eager for a cheap laugh. Dad fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. He enjoyed getting a rise out of people and making a snide or clever remark, but he didn’t resort to showiness or vulgarity. Usually.


A friend from high school sent me a sympathy card the week after he passed, with a note inside: “Some of the funniest stories I know involve your dad.” But she wasn’t the only one. Whereas many of my friends were scared of Mom, they all liked Dad and his easygoing manner: Allison’s mother was the no-nonsense teacher who could bust your ass in school if you crossed her the wrong way. Allison’s father was the guy who tried to chase a snake off the driveway with a broom and accidentally glued the lamp to the table when he repaired it.


Dad’s contemporaries liked to tell me their own stories. My freshman science teacher – nicknamed “Muff” – knew my father back in the day, and he let me in on all sorts of sordid tales. Like the time Dad and his buddies attempted to steal the old cannon on display in front of the Owingsville Court House to take it back to Salt Lick (apparently, hauling a loose cannon behind a van presents some logistical problems). The story ended with the cannon rolling down the street by itself and my father and his cronies driving their van in a field to escape the cops.


Once, they took an unexpected road trip. “I was playing basketball at the school one night and your dad drove up and said, ‘Hey, want to go for a drive?’” Muff told me once. “And the next thing I knew, we were in South Carolina, out of gas and out of money. He had to call Hazel to send us cash to get home.”

While he wasn’t quite the same unpredictable wild-n-crazy guy after my sister and I were born, he still kept that mischievous edge. My stories aren’t sordid, but I have my own veritable treasure chest of memories stocked away.


Like the way he handled – or mishandled – fast-food drive-thrus. He couldn’t consolidate multiple requests from the rest of us in the car. He’d bark out orders in random fashion to the hapless cashier on the other end of the speaker, while my sister and I shouted corrections at him from the back seat:


“Give me a double cheeseburger, large fries, an order of small fries, a medium diet coke, wait, make that double cheeseburger a quarter-pounder instead… I need another diet coke, two regular cheeseburgers, another large fry… make that a medium fry instead…” and so forth. On at least on occasion, Dad halted mid-order and turned around to tell the two of us to shut the hell up.


Or his cooking fiascos. Dad cooked very well, but occasionally he’d throw us for a loop. He once cooked grilled chicken sandwiches for dinner, and after we’d finished eating, casually mentioned that it was a shame that the cat had jumped on the counter during the day and eaten a good chunk out of the thawing chicken breasts. “I figured cooking it would kill any germs she left behind,” he added.


He often made chili during the colder months. In recent times I remember it being tasty, but I also recall a particularly vile concoction from my elementary years, one that earned a handwritten label on the container (courtesy of Mom) that said, “BYRD’S BARFY BEANY MESS.”  And during a family reunion several years ago, he decided he’d deep-fry an entire turkey for the gathering – while outside, in the 90-degree heat, while 30 hungry people watched and waited. That didn’t go down so well, either. 


He could be mouthy, particularly around Mom’s family, and liked to occasionally make a scene. During a family visit to my grandparents’ home in Florida in 2004, where, after a discussion with our rather large group of conservative relatives, Dad pleaded the case for John Kerry and then raised his arms up and shouted, “VOTE DEMOCRAT!” as we walked out the door. He cackled about his grand exit all the way down the elevator and out into the car.


He was stereotypically mystified by computers. I would get periodic calls from Dad about some strange message that popped up on his screen:


“It says something about McAfee virus something-or-other needing updated and says ‘Download update, yes or no.’ What does that mean?” (“It means you need to update the software, click ‘yes.’”)


“I went to my Yahoo mail and it looks different. There used to be a big banner at the top and it’s gone. Why does it look different?” (“Because they just redesigned the page, calm down.”)


He referred to sending things through e-mail as ‘putting them on the internet, as in, “You need to put your birthday list on the internet so I can see it,” or “I want that recipe for the mashed potatoes you made, can you put it on the internet?”


And possibly my favorite comment of all time: “So Phil sent me this e-mail about some virus going around that destroys your C drive. And hell, I don’t know what a C drive is, but I thought that sounded pretty bad.” I laughed until I cried.





I can’t say that I save that much, but from time to time I’ll find myself attached to something unnecessary and/or useless for absolutely no reason, and I know I get that from him. I keep shoeboxes, plastic cutlery I’ve accumulated from Wendy’s, Splenda packets from Starbucks, pillows well past their softness, wires and cables from appliances that have long gone obsolete. Things that aren’t really going to negatively affect my life that much by not being around.


Dad refused to throw out anything that could ostensibly be useful at any point in the distant future. Hotel soaps? He had an entire basket overflowing with toiletries taken from hotels across the country. Hankerchiefs? Many were worn with thin spots or holes and others had disgusting, questionable stains. Furniture? He would hide old pieces in the barn, away from my mother’s eyes. There’s a 20-feet-long white church pew in the basement that’s been there as long as I remember, because Dad got it from a church that was being destroyed and was convinced that one day, there would be a use for it around the house.


He often justified his stash with the What If? thought process – sure, it may seem like junk now, but what if I need it in five, 10, 20 years? Better keep it around so I don’t have to buy a new one.


Dad was also obsessed with saving money. Like Scrooge McDuck, he hoarded his nest egg and wanted to hoard mine for me, too. If I received a check from my grandparents or a stock dividend, he would eyeball the slip of paper and say, “Want me to put that in the bank for you?” as if he didn’t trust I’d do it myself. He liked to show me the Excel spreadsheet he’d created to track his various bank accounts (that is, when the spreadsheet was functioning – occasionally he would type a formula wrong and then be confused/angered by the “circular reference” error message that popped up).


He used to collect change in an old mason jar – just leftovers from his pocket at the end of the work day – and when it was full, he’d have me count out the quarters, dimes, and nickels and stuff them into bank rolls. It was frequently more than $200, and he would make comments like, “See? A little bit at a time does add up.”


He attempted to teach me the value of collecting and investing small amounts of money with his foray into recycling cans. See, we drank a lot of soda growing up. My mom preferred Diet Coke, Dad preferred Diet Pepsi, Leslie preferred regular Pepsi, and I would drink whatever I could talk Mom into buying. At some point during my middle school years, Dad discovered that people would actually pay you to bring in your empty soda cans. Bingo! His newest form of income was born.


I remember him taking me out into the garage the first time and showing me a massive trash bag of empty cans. He wanted to really pack the cans in tightly, so he could maximize the space vs. weight, so the cans needed to be crushed. And he was particular about the way they had to be crushed – not in the middle, the way people in movies crush cans in their hands when they’re pissed about something – he wanted it smashed from the top down, so that all that was left was a small circle, like a coaster. This required me to set the can up on the garage floor and stomp them with my shoes one by one. I used to line them up in rows and then go to town, stomping down the line of cans like a little pre-teen Godzilla.


Because of all the effort on my part, he promised me that I could have the money earned from the recycled cans. For six months, I went out on a biweekly basis and spent an hour or so stomping the shit out of those cans, dreaming of my forthcoming payday – would I buy a new CD, or a Sega video game, or a new paperback at the Book Haven in the mini mall?


The day he came home from the recycling plant, Dad was eager to show me what I’d earned. “I have your money from the cans!”


I ran into the kitchen, grabbing it from his hands. “How much?”


How much does six months’ worth of can-stomping get you? At that time, about $10.61. Even at that age, I knew it was bullshit. So much for my lofty dreams.


Dad, however, wasn’t fazed by my clear disappointment. I remember this vividly. “You could get a savings bond with that!” he exclaimed. “And in seven years, it’ll be worth twenty dollars!”





When I was little, I learned to swim from my parents, who had two very different methods of teaching me to navigate the water. I remember Mom, who gave some swimming lessons to kids around the area, teaching me proper freestyle technique – one arm over the area, turn the head to breath. And I remember Dad simply picking me up and chucking me into the deep end and telling me to swim back to him. Trial by fire.


Mom taught me most life lessons – in the proper way – but I learned a thing or two from Dad.  Like simple carpentry, how to put something together with a hammer & nail. We built two shelves together when I was in college. One, a tall, thin creation with shelves only at the very top, created to fit over the mini-fridge and 20-inch TV I had in my dorm room. I painted it royal blue with white UK block letters on the side. We stacked our electronics on it – VCR, DVD player, stereo. When I moved into an apartment and gained more room and an actual entertainment center, it became the shelf that fit over the toilet and I piled it up with towels.  I eventually threw it away, heaving it into the dumpster outside the complex one summer evening after I’d gotten a replacement shelf. The next day, I saw it on my neighbor’s porch, so I guess it lives on elsewhere in another UK fan’s bathroom.


The other shelf was made for books. He helped me cut the side boards in a round half-circle at the top and sand them down. I stained it, per his instructions, but never got around to glossing it, per my laziness. It’s in my bedroom now, next to the window, piled edge to edge with paperbacks and a single copy of his own vinyl record.


He liked to pretend he knew everything, even when it was regarding something obscure or absurd. Like if I asked why recycled paper has a brownish tint to it, or why lightning strikes tall objects, or why the chlorine in the pool turned my hair green. If he didn’t know, he would make up a half-assed answer and attempt to present it as fact, prompting Mom to say more than once, “Byrd, if you don’t know the answer, then just say so!”


But Dad explained a lot of legitimate things to me over the years, stuff that comes in handy from time to time. Things like how to file deductions for tax returns, the difference between an IRA and a 401(K), the best way to cook country ribs. Sometimes when it was just the two of us hanging out, we’d sit in comfortable silence, and other times I’d prompt him with a question, just to be able to sit and listen to him talk. He liked to teach, and I liked to learn.





I didn’t really start hugging my parents until college. I guess most teenagers go through that phase, the era of avoiding parental conversation and touch at all costs. Attempting to cut the cord, so to speak.


I remember the first real hug I gave him as an adult. It was the day my parents dropped me off at college. We were at orientation and seated, antsy freshmen and several nervous parents, all together in a lecture hall. After some introductions and the like, the person running the orientation announced that it was time for all parents to head on out and let the little ones fly free. Slowly, the Moms and Dads in the audience got up and shuffled out. Terrified of being left alone to fend for myself on a campus of 27,000, I cried, hugging Mom and latching on to Dad’s waist as he scooted past my chair.


When they were gone, my roommate (the first of many), gave me a sympathetic look and said, “Don’t feel bad. I cried when my parents left, too.” Side note: She only made it two months before leaving UK and transferring back to a college in her hometown.


With that, I entered a new phase: the appreciation of my parents. I gave Dad a big hug every time we parted company. He was surprised at my newfound affection at first. But I think he liked it. Leaving my parents’ house after a visit was always a 30-minute process. I’d collect my stuff, say goodbye, and Dad would remember something he needed to show me on the computer. So I’d look, say goodbye again, and he’d ask if perhaps I’d want to pack up and take some of the steaks or pork tenderloins he’d just purchased on sale from Kroger. We’d wrap up some cuts, load the car, say goodbye again, and then he would talk for another 15 minutes about something that just occurred to him – vacation plans, or a question about work, or when he might come up to Lexington to return a shirt to Kohl’s. We’d say goodbye again, and I’d finally drive off, waving at my parents as they stood together in the driveway.





My father died on Good Friday, April 22, 2011. Mid to late evening, around the time I was at Dick’s Sporting Goods shopping for my sister’s birthday present. He and my mother went to the basement that evening to seek shelter from possible tornados. My mother ran upstairs to get her phone and shepherd the dog into the basement; when she walked back down, Dad was gone. It happened that quickly. He was 65 years old.


I knew his time was coming, but I’d only seen it off in the far distance. I’d had thoughts here and there over the past few years; random bits of information including the age of dad’s own father when he died (45) and the age and health of his brother Tommy when he passed unexpectedly (67, and seemingly fine). Perry males, it seemed, were doomed to exit early.


I knew Dad was skirting the edges. But he was active, fairly health-conscious, and alert. He never struck me as someone who was ill or had any particular health problems to worry about. To my biased eyes, he seemed every bit the strong, hardworking father I’d known my entire life. He didn’t take sick days. He worked the farm, worked for a variety of committees, and worked out at the gym. He was unstoppable.


I didn’t think his death would come this soon. I thought I would be older, wiser, more prepared. Well into my thirties, at least. Married. Adult. But I’m none of these, and I’m realizing that it wouldn’t matter if it had happened later. It would still hurt this much. I received a sympathy card in the mail from one of my bosses that summed it up perfectly: “It’s always too soon…”


When Lauren died, I thought that nothing could be worse than losing one of your best friends; I thought that nothing in the world could hurt as much as watching her be buried in the ground under those inches of freshly falling snow.


But I was wrong. Losing him hurts, deeply. It’s a physical pain, a feeling of hard emptiness in the chest, like having the wind knocked out of you over and over again throughout the day. Some days I feel almost normal. And some days it takes every last ounce of energy to put on a smile and go about my normal business. I follow the routine to and from work, I answer questions when I’m asked, I lead my classes in their workout. But the whole time, I’m thinking, He’s gone, and he’s not coming back.





There are things I have to come to terms with. He won’t be there to celebrate my 30th birthday. He’ll never see me teach. He’ll never see me publish a book. He’ll never show me how to do little tasks around the house again, like sharpening the mower blades or changing out an outlet or checking the dipstick. He won’t take me to another UK basketball game, or call me up on his way to Lexington for shopping and lunch. And he won’t be there to walk me down the aisle when I get married.


But – at least I had him for 29 years. He was there to watch me perform at every gymnastics meet and every cheerleading competition. He helped me get my first jobs in college. He spoiled me, my sister, and my mother on Christmas and every birthday. He took pictures of me at prom, and he got to see me graduate from high school as a valedictorian and from college summa cum laude. He saw me through the process of buying my first house; and spent countless hours with my accountant fighting the IRS so I could rightfully receive my $8,000 homebuyer’s tax credit.


And in some ways, he’s still here. The other day, I was chopping vegetables for supper and telling Jimmy a story about work. And at the end, I sighed, tossing the veggies into the pan.


And Jimmy said, “You know, you sounded just like your dad just then. That little sigh? He used to do that same thing.”


While I have many of my mother’s characteristics, people have always told me that I’m more like my Dad. And now, I’ve never been prouder to hear it.

Link10 made it through|your point of view?

JORTS. [Mar. 26th, 2011|12:43 am]
"Yes, we can."

That's my boys.
Link2 made it through|your point of view?

Rush Limbaugh is a sad, fat fucking pile of dog shit who apparently needed some ratings this week. [Feb. 22nd, 2011|10:51 pm]
"Yes, we can."
[feelin' a little... |annoyedannoyed]

Or, "How Allison got her outrage back."

Rush Limbaugh doesn't think Michelle Obama is fit to fight obesity.

This man makes me want to throw up. And I am flabbergasted that he is flat-out making things up -- he says Obama is "demanding that everyone basically eat cardboard and tofu -- no calories, no fat, no nothing, gotta stop obesity."

I guess he's referring to the campaign to improve childhood lunches, which promises "dramatic changes." Meaning, kids will start getting more nutritious food at school. Yeah, that sounds like it sucks.

He then goes on to call her a hypocrite for eating short ribs with her children while on vacation, and says she is not practicing what she preaches. I'm assuming he didn't watch the same Today show interview that I watched two weeks ago, where Obama said she has always been about moderation and says she understands that it is not realistic to tell people to completely give up their favorite junk foods.

Yeah. When you see me enjoying a night out in a restaurant, most of the time you're gonna see me noshing on something ridiculous and likely fattening. But my everyday diet, I'm packing in the fruits, vegetables and grains and eating lean meats. That's why eating out is a "treat."

So here's the best part. He then says Obama isn't fit to lead this campaign in the first place because "our first lady does not project the image you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated issue." Right. So, the Sports Illustrated cover models, who were largely granted their almost-impossible hourglass figures through the lucky genetic draw, are the only standard of "fit" we should all aspire to, and anyone who is a larger, normal-sized frame is a fat fuck.

I think one of the reasons I am taking such offense to this is because I myself am not super-skinny, and I never will be. I weigh about 145 pounds right now, and I'm 5'5", which means I am barely within the "correct" BMI range. I am probably about the same size as Michelle Obama, with all the similar thick curves.

However, I am one of the most fit people you'll ever meet, outside of professional trainers and athletes. I teach four fitness classes a week. I can go harder, kick higher, and jump higher than anyone else there including other instructors, all while cuing and shouting and encouraging others to work harder. I regular have people approach me after class, including college & professional athletes, to say things like "I love your class, because you work so hard and it makes me want to work harder" and "Goddamn girl, where do you get all that energy?" In muscle classes, I use more weight on my bar than the men who come in. I can leg press the entire fucking weight stack at the gym, for God's sake, and that's 320 pounds.

In addition, my vital signs are good. Now that I'm away from my old job, my blood pressure has gone back down to its normal 110-120/60-70 range. My resting heart rate is around 50 (60-80 is average, and athletic people will have an even lower rate because their heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood). During my last physical, my doctor said, "I definitely believe that you watch what you eat and work out six days a week, because you have the best cholesterol levels of any patient I've ever seen."

The point is, I may not be an SI swimsuit model, but I am superfit and more than qualified to speak on behalf of fitness. And even though I don't have inside knowledge about how cardiovascularly fit Michelle Obama is, I think she probably takes care of herself just fine, while some of those professional models he speaks of probably get winded after a short run or couldn't even carry the damn camera used at their photo shoot.

I usually ignore Rush Limbaugh, but really, this was a good one. I don't see how any clear-minded human being could have listened to this and thought there was an ounce of credibility to his words. It's not even a political thing -- I would be just as annoyed regardless of who spewed it. I just think if you're going to attack something, at least have a decent argument to support it.
Link3 made it through|your point of view?

Mellowed out. [Feb. 13th, 2011|12:12 am]
"Yes, we can."
[feelin' a little... |cheerfulcheerful]

I feel like I'm getting too old to be properly outraged anymore. Is it that I'm already losing that quintessential fighting spark of my 20's, that constant need to point out and rectify all the indignities of the world?

Or maybe it's just one of those little nuggets of wisdom that you absorb over the years -- waking up one day and realizing that sometimes, apathy is really the best option. Or maybe I've just become more selective with my huffiness. Here are a few things that I think would have really pissed me off five years ago.

The new Diet Pepsi Skinny Can. As someone who fits the following criteria -- female, liberal, formerly overweight, hater of Diet Pepsi -- I feel like I should be all over this controversy regarding the tall, slender can redesign. But truthfully, I saw it and just rolled my eyes. I can't even muster up the energy to care. And I can't decide if that's because I don't think it's a big deal, or if it's because I realize their redesign is so ridiculous that it's clearly going to implode on itself and I don't even need to worry about caring because it will disappear soon enough. I'm thinking the latter. Whatever, Diet Pepsi. You still taste like shit regardless of the container you spew from. Ale8 FTW!

Horrible, trite romantic comedies such as Just Go With It. I used to get really, really pissed off at how bad all romantic comedies are nowadays. Maybe it's a by-product of having watched Just Like Heaven and quietly steaming over the fact that I could have, and in fact DID, write that same basic story better. I reluctantly agreed to watch All About Steve when it came out a year and a half ago and genuinely wanted my money back when we left the theater. Meanwhile the rest of my friends seemed perfectly happy that they'd just paid $9 to watch an annoying, unhinged Sandra Bullock in red rubber boots stalk some dude with no personality halfway across the country. I was pissed because I felt like we as intelligent, professional women deserved better!

So I know that, say, Just Go With It is a terrible movie that will still somehow make millions of dollars for Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, but I don't even care. Whatever, Sony Pictures. I'll just wait for March 11, when Battle: Los Angeles comes out. Because while I dislike formulaic romantic comedies, I do somehow enjoy formulaic oh-shit-aliens-have-come-to-kill-us action movies.

Lady Gaga's new song, Born This Way. People are all pissed off because this song sounds like a mash-up of Madonna's "Express Yourself" and "Vogue" with a little of Kelly Rowland's "When Love Takes Over" thrown in. And well, it does. So much, in fact, that I feel like the Madonna rip-offs had to be intentional. Lady Gaga likes to put on airs about being so unique and eccentric, but she's always getting compared to Madonna anyway, right? So why not go all-out?

Maybe I should have higher standards and demand more originality (especially after hearing the atrocity that is "Dirty Bit" by the Black-Eyed Peas, really?!), but I have to admit, I kinda like the song. I thought it was perfect for the kickboxing mix I'm working on, so I cut it to a 32-count phrasing, sped it up to 140 BPM, and edited that sucker in there. So whatever, Lady Gaga, as long as you keep making dance-pop with strong club beats like the 21st-century Madonna you are, I'll keep including them in my class rotations.
Link7 made it through|your point of view?

The Stand Redux [Jan. 31st, 2011|11:28 pm]
"Yes, we can."
[feelin' a little... |relaxedrelaxed]

So the Hollywood Powers That Be are making Stephen King's The Stand into a feature film. Holy crap, what?

I think I've said here a million times that The Stand is my favorite book. Still is. I re-read it this summer because I forced encouraged Jimmy to read it (Wow. I am sensing a pattern here.). And though some of the references are dated, the themes and ideas and characters still hold up, even after 20 years (I have the re-released 1990 extended version).

So after reading it again this summer, we decided to watch the miniseries. And it's terrible. Cheesy. Laugh-out-loud hilarious. The casting is atrocious -- Molly Ringwald as Frannie? Randall Flagg, who's supposed to be the biggest, baddest, scariest creature-demon in the world, is portrayed as a Billy Ray Cyrus-wannabe with a skanky curly mullet?

And "Baby Can You Dig Your Man" sounds nothing like I'd heard in my head -- isn't Larry Underwood supposed to sound smoky and soulful? Isn't that why his mother says he'll be mistaken for a black man on the radio? In the movie, the song is complete '80s synthesized cheddar and is something that no one in their right mind, regardless of decade, would ever listen to. Seriously, the best thing about that movie is Dauber from Coach as Tom Cullen, probably because the character is so over-the-top anyway.

The mini-series is six hours, and there's a ton of stuff they eliminated from the books. They had to -- it's 1100+ densely packed pages. And your standard feature film -- assuming they don't hop on that bandwagon trend of "splitting" movies -- only lasts around two hours... three hours tops, and pushing it. If the huge cast of characters couldn't be given justice in six hours, how could they be in a third of that time?

Hmmm. I'm sure I'll go see this thing when/if it ever comes out, but I don't have very high hopes. I really think The Stand is an unfilmable book. However, people also said that about Lord of the Rings, and Peter Jackson knocked that out of the park, so... we shall see.
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