Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from these Little Effers to you and your Little Effers! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bohemian Rhapsody

The car is full. All five of us are on our way to EngineerBrother's for Thanksgiving dinner. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen comes on the radio. I turn it up.

J2 and I are singing to our hearts content.

Just before the Wayne's World head banging part I get so excited because there are enough people in the car that we can reenact the scene.
I tell everyone, "Get ready to head bang." \m/ 
There I am, driving the Averill-mobile, head banging to Bohemian Rhapsody, all by myself.

From now on I'm calling all of them The Little Effers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Doorman to Hell

Tip for the future: If you are inside the door of Chuck E Cheese and want to cross the threshold do not joke with the bouncer/doorman. 

J2 and I are inside the door and waiting at the doorman podium. I am holding an armful of birthday presents and a birthday card. J2 held the doors. 

On the other side of the rope snot-nosed children are squealing, screaming, throwing tantrums and spreading germs. If the mother's are not twerking while dressed to attract their next baby daddy then they are worn with exhaustion, squealing, screaming, slinging threats, or throwing their own tantrums. At the cash register is a line 10 men deep. They all have looks of frustration painted dually with relief flickering across their faces. The frustration derives from the length of the line to order food for their ravenous families and the relief is from not being on the gaming floor with those same families. 

The doorman stands behind the hooked rope, "Are you here for a birthday party?"

With a twinkle in his eye J2 quips, "No. We come here for date night."

Deadpan stare, "Are you going to be leaving with a child you did not bring with you tonight?"

"Not tonight, we don't plan on it," J2 laughs. 

The doorman/bouncer is not amused. J2's comment implies that not tonight, but in the future he plans on leaving with a child. 

I laugh a little too hard at J2's comment. 

Our entrance into this very non-exclusive Chuck E Cheese is dangling like a carrot in front of our eyes. Our invitation is dangerously close to being revoked. 

I quickly wipe the smile off of my face, "We are here for Linus Conway's birthday and we don't have* any children."

She clicks the rope open and we gain entrance into Chuck E Cheese, which is a doorway into the nine gates of hell. 

*Although J2 does have three children, The Little Rottens; he and I have not mingled our DNA to make joint children. There are no future plans for commingled DNA. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Friends, Can You Have Them?

I stop at Kmart after class. I know that's creepy but they always have super cute tights. And because I am practically the only one in the store I like to pretend I am famous and they have shut the store down for me to shop in privacy. 

I put my tights and leggings on the conveyor belt not really paying attention to the employee making his purchases in front of me. He walks back past me, taking his purchases back into the store. I check out, walk all the way back to the exit. I buzzed on the way in so before I even crossed the threshold to leave I warn the same old lady greeter, "I'm gonna set off the alarms."

"Come on through."

Something in my bag sends the alarms buzzing again. 

"I'm going to need to examine your receipt."

I pull my giant wallet, full only of Christmas shopping receipts, out of my purse. She takes a look at the folded paper. She makes her secret "it's okay she actually purchased the stuff in her bag" Kmart mark. 

I'm wrestling to jamb this wallet back into my shifting bag while my camera bag in digging into my skin around my neck, and holding the weak, plastic Kmart bag is wiggling back and forth. 

I turn in to the breezeway to go. There looking at the claw game is the employee who made his purchase before I did. He looks in my direction like he has been waiting for me. 

"Excuse me?"

I smile at him.

"I just have to tell you how beautiful you are."

"Thank you."

"I bet you hear that all of the time. Do you hear it often?"

I blush because I do hear it often. However, I don't want to sound conceited, "I don't hear it as often as I'd like to," and that is the truth. 

By this point he and I have switched places. I am trying to get out to my car and he is standing just inside the automated sliding doors, "Do you have friends?"

"Yes, but all of my friend are taken."

He raises his voice, "No. I said, 'Can you have a friend?'"

With a deer in headlights look on my face I shrug my shoulders. Then I start laughing, this young boy thinks he is Biz Markie! I momentarily stop laughing. I wonder if he even knows who is Biz Markie? Ah, hell! Biz Markie is funny to me! 

A New Job Title

A few short weeks after I started the promotion of my new job I had to fill out a questionnaire and analysis for Information Technology Services. They wanted to determine what I do and if I should be grouped in ITS.  Today I finally get a email stating that I am functional staff, not technical. That's exactly what we were hoping for and expecting. 

In the email I am told my current title of Data Management Specialist is generic. My title has been recommended to Big Boss and Human Resources for review to potentially be revised "to better reflect the specific nature of the services you provide." 

I forwarded the email to my supervisor. She said I should brainstorm for my new title. 

Since I'm a pretty badass bitch, I come back immediately to tell her, "I'd like to be called Lord Commander."

She retorts, "I hate to tell you this but you'll probably be called A Humble Servant."

"What if we add in really small letters, like practically unseen by the human eye at the end of Lord Commander and in parentheses "(of Transcript reviews)" but really small and not there. It's just a technicality."

"Maybe since you always say you clean up a lot of 'Eww' we just call you, 'Cleaner of Eww.'"

She's not budging and I only have 2 months before she retires to get this approved. I better start lord commanding the shit out of this situation. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Day In My Life

It is rare that I spend a weekend at my house. When I do, my parents bombard me with third-degree questions, "Have you a J2 broken up? Why are you here? Do you live here?"

For no particular reason I am here this weekend. Today, I pulled out all of the birthday and Christmas presents that I've purchased so far to take an inventory. I organized them, not by color, but by who they go to and the occasion. I do not know for how much longer I can get away with buying my baby nephews - okay not really babies, they will both be three within the next month so they are the babies of the family - the same birthday and Christmas gifts, but I am going to ride this train for as long as I can. As I am putting everything away I lay down on my bedroom floor. I crawl halfway underneath my bed for the best Christmas present hiding spot. Exactly as I did when a child cleaning my bedroom, I fall asleep. 

"Averill? Averill?" The Silver Fox's voice is shrill, "Where is she? Did she leave?"

"Averill?" Her voice gets louder and closer as she comes around my bed to see me face down on the floor. "Oh my God, Paul!" She calls Real Life Superman. "What's wrong? Are you okay Averill? Are you crying?" 

Groggily, I scoot out from underneath my bed, "No, I was taking a nap."

"Oh, okay. Do you want a pot pie?"

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Was Given 13

On Facebook people are sharing random facts about themselves. if you like their status, they give you a number. You take that number and have to post that many random facts about yourself. I was contemplating not participating, but there is so much you do not know about me. i know you want more!  

I was given 13. 

1. I've had a job since I was 8 years old. My first job was working as a papergirl for the Lawrence Journal World in Lawrence, KS. My route had 125 houses. When I began delivering/throwing papers, I was the youngest girl in the history of the LJW to be a papergirl. Months later my brother wanted to follow in my footsteps. At 6 years old EngineerBrother took 20 of my customers; the homes closest to our home so Mom could watch him. He became the youngest boy in LJW history to be a paperboy. 
I was eventually nominated and recognized for fantastic customer service as a paper carrier of the month. I still have the 'fancy' LJW jacket with my name embroidered on the breast. 

I've been chasing the dragon ever since. 

2. When my Mom was pregnant with MarineBrother, she told me during her entire pregnancy that she was having a little sister for me. At that time ultrasounds were expensive and inaccurate. Mom knew he was a girl because she carried him exactly like she carried me. When Dad called from the hospital to tell us the baby was born, mom is okay, and the baby is a boy, I cried. On the bright side Mom said I could dress him in my baby doll clothes anyway. So I did. He wore dresses.
3. My shoe collection rivals Imelda Marcos. Okay, not really, but I aspire.

4. As a child my dream jobs were in order: motherhood, become a photographer, and fashion designer.

5. My favorite OCD activity as a child was to dump out my Crayola 64 pack of crayons and put them in rainbow order by color and shade.
6. My closets are organized by type of garment. Within the type of the clothing is arranged in rainbow order by color and shade. 

7. My CDs are organized in alphabetical order by the artists first name. If I have multiple CDs by the same artist they are placed in chronological order by the release date. 

8. I used to have a list of criteria a man must meet before I would date him. Although I don't know where The List is; if you have it, none of you have permission to publish it. I remember the number one rule was "Must say my name correctly the first time and every time." 
I told J2 the first time I met him that I was only going to tell him my name once and he better get it right. He did.  It matters to me. 

9. If I were born a boy I would have EngineerBrother's name; he is named after my Dad and Poppy. My parents did not have a girl name picked out when they were pregnant with me. My Mom stayed up late one night towards the end of the pregnancy watching a movie. The main character in the movie was a prostitute. Her name was Averill. My Mom knew instantly that was her future daughter's name. She does not remember the name of the movie or the actor who played Averill. I guess I should IMDB that. 

10. I'm allergic to latex which is directly related to my avocado and banana allergy. Apparently they are sister trees; bitchy sister trees that got together and decided to gang up on me. 

11. I have an irrational fear of dead bodies.  

The first time I went to college, I decided that if EngineerBrother could earn his lifetime scuba certification I could do it too. I, of course, had the advantage of being a lifeguard and formerly swimming on a swim team. I was going to pass with flying colors. 
In the certification class we got to the point of removing the mask, losing it in the pool, and searching underwater with our eyes closed. Before I went under to feel for my mask the instructor gave us a scenario. He told us to imagine being at the bottom of Beech Fork with grass and sticks, brushing your fingers through the mud, fish brushing against you and swimming past. 
The last time I entered the water at Beech Fork was in 8th grade. My Dad told me to open my eyes underwater and come up and tell him what I saw. The water was murky. I could see his legs and other people's body parts, all a  yellowish dead tone from the dirty water. There were lots of lake-rats, ie creatures that live in the lake like fish; one even nibbled my toe. There was trash under the water, an old tire and tin beer cans. I swam back up to the surface. I walked out of Beech Fork Beach, dried off, and never got back in the water. The next day on the news they announced that a dead human body was found at Beech Fork Beach. I was justified in never going back there.
Back in the pool, the instructor gives the Beech Fork scenario.  I go under in the pool to qualify for the scuba certification. I imagine Beech Fork. I imagine the dead body is in the pool with me. I am under the water freaking out about an imaginary body. I hyperventilate. I swim up to the top, get out of the pool, take off my gear, and leave. I never certified for scuba diving. 
Last June, J2 took me snorkeling in Mexico. Internally I was freaking out, not sure that I could go through with it without hyperventilating. But I did it and got to see all sorts of sea-rats and sea-flowers on the bottom of the ocean floor. It helps that the water is clear, I would have been able to see a dead body well in advance of it swimming up on me. 

12. I'm terrified of alligators and crocodiles. I saw a movie as a child where a husband dumps his wife in a swamp and she gets half eaten by a giant crocodile. From that point on I get nightmares and night terrors. I'll have one tonight because I wrote about this. 

13. I love The Wizard of Oz and the Sound of Music. When I was a papergirl I used to sing those sound tracks along with any other pop song, that happened to be stuck in my head, as loudly as humanly possible. Monday through Friday papers were delivered in the evening, right after school. It was a joke among my customers that if they wondered where there paper was all they had to do was to step on their front porch to hear that their paper was in route. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Everyone Thinks They Are a Photographer

I am so frustrated!  I am so angry at myself.

I ran into some employee in a local store last weekend. Actually he walked up to me trying to be flirty. I was in the electronic supply section which just so happened to be stocked with super-duper huge lenses, darkroom supplies, lights, and backdrops. The employee asked, "Before I show you this lens, are you a photographer?"

"Yes, and I'm going to school to learn more."

"Well, I'm a photographer too and I'm tempted not to show you this lens because you are my competition. Who do you shoot for?"

"Radio Memphis."

"What do you do for them?"

"I photograph local bands and musicians in studio during live performance."

"What famous musicians have you photographed?"

"I photograph local musicians and although they aren't famous yet they are trying to make it big."

He brags that he photographs Beale Street and he has photographed so-and-so and who-you-ma-call-it.    I am bored with the conversation because I'm not really interested in name-dropping.  He asks me for a Radio Memphis business card because he wants to take my job. I give him the website and the name of who to contact.

He goes on to ask, "What camera do you use?"

I tell him the model of my camera.

He says, "Oh."

I do not have a super-wonderful, majestic, state of the art, latest model camera.  I'm not ashamed of my camera either. My parents gave it to me as a (ridiculously extravagant to me) Christmas gift a couple of years ago and I love it like I would love a first born child. She goes everywhere with me. I am rarely without her.

The man goes not to tell me I would get better photographs if I upgraded to at least his model of camera.

That's nice. I can take criticism. In fact, I'm my hardest critic. So nothing that he is going to say can equal the amount of hatred and disappointment I've heaped on my own work or given myself. I can certainly take criticism from someone that is looking at my work and telling or suggesting what I can do to improve. But, this man1  Yes, this man has never seen my work before. He is doing the equivalent of adding salt to a meal he hasn't tasted. That shit pisses me off.

I interrupt him from his megapixels and flip screen options on the camera talk because it seems recently that everyone with a digital camera thinks he is a photographer.

I giggle. "It's not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean."

He stops and for the first time looks me in the eyes.  Yes, I just gave his camera-talk a sexual innuendo.

I offer him my best and sweetest smile, "Meaning, it doesn't matter what camera you use as long as you know what you are doing with it. You've never looked at my work so you wouldn't know my areas of difficulty. If you want to know the truth, I'm good at photography. My problems arise in Photoshop and color correction, but that is the nature of the game now."  

He does not listen to one word I say.

"Well, I don't need Photoshop.  My photos are perfect exactly as I take them. I've had some real, professional photographers look at my stuff and they tell me that I'm a professional. I've never needed to color correct anything."

That is it. I am pissed because I know he is full like a dirty diaper.  This man is photographing in an environment like Beale Street where he does not have control of lighting, reflection, or shadows and he wants to tell me every portrait photo is perfect. I am not a confrontational person so I walk away.

Now, I'm looking at my latest critique grade in my photography class where I am obviously having issues with color correction.  I am angry with myself for practically failing. Well, it's not anywhere near a failing grade, but the grade is not to the standards I hold for myself. Suddenly I feel the urge to go back to that store and punch that man and his perfection right in between his squirrelly eyebrows.

Lights out! Color correct that!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day: My Brother the Marine

I photographed this today because today is Veteran's Day and my brother is a Marine. 

As a child he survived being told he is offspring from aliens, ice water baths and feathered in baby powder, being tied up to perform Houdini escapes from ropes and locks, double-dared and accepting: to tumble in an empty dryer, repel from a second and half story deck with only a rope around his waist, drink special concoctions made with the ingredients of Dr. Pepper and Tabasco for him to hold down and digest, timed obstacle courses, sliding down the stairwell in a slippy sleeping bag, and surviving twisting rope swings holding on and navigating with only one arm while being targeted, bombarded, and deflecting Nerf balls, soccer balls, and footballs. 
I'm pretty sure that the childhood MarineBrother had with me as his big sister and EngineerBrother as his big brother was a much more rigorous training than bootcamp could throw at him. If not, it was one helluva preparation for the USMC. 

What is amazing is that as a child as well as in adulthood, he never turns away from a challenge and always yearns for more adventures. Because of this he is such an awesome person and excels at his job. Last week, MarineBrother earned The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. That's a big deal! 

Not just because today is Veteran's Day and he is a Marine but every day I'm so damn proud of my brother! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Scandalous, Part II

Read Scandalous, Part I here

This man, all 6'4" of him, is sitting five desks away from me. His all black baseball cap is on backwards, the black University of Memphis logo is splattered in red paint. He rubs both of his eyes with his right index finger and thumb. I can hear his eyeballs squishing, emitting a moist, spongy sound from underneath the pressure of his fingers. 

He stands up, grabs his notebook, folds it in half lengthwise, tucks in his rolling chair, and walks towards me. He is wearing a black t-shirt that reads in bold, white, block lettering, "Stubborn & Stupid."  

"Thanks for the warning," I say to another classmate who notices the t-shirt at the same time. 

His bare arms are sleeved with tattoos. 

I remember, the touch of his skin almost eight years ago. To my surprise, despite all of his tattoos, his skin is incredibly soft. 

"I want to be a tattoo artist." He lifts his shirt to reveal his chest and stomach. "I did these," he points to various ink marks. I did the one on my Mom that I showed you." He slides the leg of his shorts up his thigh for me to admire his artwork. 

He uses his body as his practice canvas. The crooked letters and ink blotches resemble something Rorschach would present to a patient.

"Hey, you want a tattoo? I got the stuff in the back."

I shifted uncomfortably on his brown, velour, 1970's, flower patterned sofa. I am not interested in a scratcher leaving his mark on me, "Ah, no thanks. I don't have any tattoos. I like my boring, normal, iridescent skin."

"Yeah, I understand. I'll get better first, then we'll see."

"I've never touched a tattoo, can I touch what your skins feels like?"

"Sure, I use lotion every day."  

I rub my manicured hand on his forearm over his tattoos. He is soft like a baby. 

That was then, this is now. This "Stubborn and Stupid" man walks towards me to leave the classroom. I notice the ink on his arms. It has gotten better. 

His eyes are steel blue, the stubble on his closely shaven head is blonde. An inked sickle protrudes from underneath of his t-shirt up the back of his neck, hooking just below his right ear to curve around and cross the line of his carotid artery. The point of the blade rests just above his Adam's apple. That is new within the past eight years. 

I met him at a little Juke Joint with a notorious reputation off a forgotten highway near Sugar Ditch, Mississippi. I was there for a barbecue with coworkers. He was there with his mom. 

I am not the type of lady to frequent 'those' places. I wear pearls and sweater sets, everywhere. I caught his eye. 

He caught my eye. A big hunk of Mississippi man with muscular forearms, a broad chest, and thick, sturdy calves. He wears his fitted baseball cap backwards, a dazzling smile, fitted t-shirt, jeans that look well worn from farm-work, and dusty work boots. 

For some reason the sight of a man in a backwards, fitted, baseball cap disconnects the part of my brain where common sense meets with good decision making and reasoning skills. It turns me into a dumb girl. All I see is the dazzling smile, a possible twinkle in the eyes, with a potential bad boy persona; safe, but just bad enough to make him fun. 

After numerous telephone conversations, serenades, and many lunchtime song dedications on a local terrestrial radio station under the pseudonym 'Dirty White Boy" we decided to go on a date. For our first date we meet again two weeks after our initial introduction at the same Sugar Ditch Juke Joint. 

When I meet him outside the bar he suggests we go back to his house to watch a movie. Because I receive a particularly emotionally devastating telephone call during my trip down to Mississippi I jump at the opportunity for a low-key night watching a DVD on the sofa. 

After I touch his arms for softness quality control and even though I tell him that I am not going to be sleeping with him he attempts the old, "My junk just fell out of my pants, you wanna take a look and see if you like it" trick. Obviously it fails. I am not amused. I would leave had I not been throwing back bottles of cheap beer.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Little Lunchtime Excitement

Walking through the parking lot to the clearance Goodwill on Highland for my lunch break when a Honduran man jumps out of his painting van and scurries towards me, "Aye! Aye! Mamacita! Pretty Bonita Juanita!" 

He proceeds to hit on me entirely in Spanish. Although I understand Spanish, I don't speak it. So I respond nearly solamente en Inglés, except for, "Tengo un novio."

He asked me why I'm not responding in more Español. I cringe as I tell him, "I don't speak Spanish. I'm white."

He doesn't believe me. He asks to  remove my sunglasses so he can see my eyes. 

I warn him, "I'm telling you I'm not hispanic, my eyes are blue." I lift up the sparkly, pink, heart-shaped sunglasses to show him my eyes. 

This man takes one look at me, grabs his chest, and bends to his knees pretending to have a heart attack, "Aye!  Mamacita Pretty Bonita Juanita!"

I'm laughing hysterically, "Get outta here with that!" 

Hey fellas! Step up your game! Every lady I know could use some more of that!