Auto paintball?

paintball

I have played paintball and apparently I played the more painful but lame version because it had nothing to do with shooting at cars as they drove by. I walked away with welts and bruises that I was proud to show off for about a week.

My little Spicegurl didn’t sign up for a paintball session, she didn’t deserve this harassment! She was so happy this day; brand new brakes, oil change, soapy bath, and her only crime was to be driving in the wrong neighborhood (clearly all my fault and the guilt that goes with it).

How does this make some cowardly punk feel good? You don’t get to see my pissed off face when I finally notice the hit (that would at least give a person some satisfaction and a quick laugh). You don’t get to see me spend money on paint remover praying that it only takes off the paintball paint and not ruin the finish. You hit me and I drove off unknowingly. Big deal. Boring.

If you are such a great shot on a moving target with a crappy gun, do something courageous and useful, join the military or police. But you won’t. You will hide behind your laziness, your weakness, and never actually LIVE life, but just e x i s t for many years. Too bad for you; you are missing out on some great fun!

Ambitchous….

poster

There is a fine line between a woman ‘standing up for herself’ and being a ‘bitch’. I have yet to find that line but I am sure it exists; more often than not, I get the ‘bitch’ label. For those of you that have said it to my face (on many occasions), you can agree that my response has always been, and will always be: stop kissing up.

I have to say that my super-cranky reaction to a situation is just that; a reaction. I am by no means searching out scenarios in which to wield my highly explosive intolerance for stupidity.

The first (and most repetitive interaction) typically involves me waiting in line and getting cut off, as though I have hit my ‘stealth button’ and instantly became invisible. The millisecond response from me is always an unwaivering, ‘are you kidding me?!”  For some reason that seems to startle the offender and wakes them up to the fact that they are no longer on their lonely planet of “I” and must abide by the simple rules of society and it’s strongly recommended guidelines of ‘wait your friggin turn’.

There are times where adults are not pointing out their children’s misbehaving and I have to take things into my own hands. Example: at a college open house for Goose, potential students (17-18 yrs) and their parents are sitting in an amphitheater getting the background on the school and what they offer, finances, etc. and the three young miscreants with their mother were talking loudly and laughing throughout the whole seminar. It was not until the continuously full-blown kicking of my chair, did I spin my head faster than Regan from the Exorcist, and gave my, “are you kidding me??!!” to which the young men horrified, stood up and said they would wait outside. Good call because next comes the pea soup vomit while talking in tongues and no one wants that.

Other times, a good friend needs to have that certain someone on their side, that friend with a bit more bravado then they do. So… while in a Chinese restaurant with my friend (we will call her Shrink because she is one) and her boyfriend were sitting at a crowded bar, I hear a woman complaining to her boyfriend that Shrink is being loud and obnoxious. Really? We are sitting three people away in a packed bar and the only voice you can hear is Shrink laughing and telling stories. Hold the phone and call Oscar Goldman because a new Jaime Sommers is in town! (that’s a late 70’s reference for you kiddos) but I digress. I walked over to her and called her out on it, citing the fact that it’s a loud bar and there is no way she should be calling my friend names without provocation. As she turned to her boyfriend and started to curse about me, I kindly noted that I was not using profanity in any way and name calling wasn’t necessary… just apologize to my friend. The boyfriend stood up (a good 6 inches taller than me) and became aggressive to which I stood my ground and said that he was not part of the conversation, I was talking to his foul mouthed girlfriend. He then called me a bitch (yes I had to say, stop kissing up, it’s a natural reaction) and then he poked me in the shoulder a few times. I nicely reminded him that unwanted poking is considered assault and that seemed to warrant him screaming me a few other choice words but stopped the poking. No better way to show your pea-sized brain than to scream profanities; boring, yawn, over it.

So you see, I have been mislabeled and misunderstood my whole life. I will not be walked on or overlooked. I demand as much space in this world as the big jerks that seem to be taking over.

(P.S. if you know to whom I owe credit for this awesome intro picture please let me know!)

Today’s Hero

To all the media: STOP, just please stop dishonoring and degrading the thought and spirit behind what a true HERO deserves; someone with the courage and selflessness for others.

A sports newscaster said this morning that the ‘hero’ of the night was “insert athlete name here” (because really, does it make a difference?).

Given today’s struggles and daily violence I am fed up beyond comprehension how the word ‘hero’ is continuously used so nonchalantly. It’s a sporting event. He hit the ball, got it in the hoop, made the touch down, did what his million dollar paycheck required to win a game. A GAME! No one’s lives were saved, it is that simple. Would his teammates consider him the ‘hero’ for winning the game? Probably, but even that goes beyond suitable recognition and thus, the overuse of the word.

There are so many other superlatives that would be much more suitable without marring the word ‘hero’. He was certainly the man-of-the-hour, the saving grace of the game, the MVP of the evening, but let’s reserve the word HERO for those it really applies to and gain back some of the respect it deserves.

Let’s save the word HERO for – the first responders in your town that have no idea what they are up against when the bells go off at 2:00 am and they jump in the truck. It could be a shooting to contain, victims in a burning home that need to be carried out safely, or a young person suicide, whose face will haunt them for years to come…

For the catastrophe workers who load up and run to a natural disaster at a moment’s notice leaving family, friends and their own lives behind with only the one goal of saving as many men, women and children as possible. The diseases that they face due to lack of hygiene and clean water as evident in the Nepal and Haiti earthquakes, the hurricane in Katrina and the tsunamis in Japan and Phuket.   They do not have special treatment, they do not and live out of a four-star hotel…they volunteer and sacrifice to live like the people they are helping with lack of food, lack of water, no bathroom facilities, and very little rest in a make shift tent…

For those everyday people who woke up with the intension of ‘just making it through a day at work’ only then find themselves running into harm’s way to extract a driver or passenger in a burning vehicle… a teacher who wants to make a difference, for the positive, in just one student’s life, but is faced with a gunman randomly ready to shoot any and every one, but he/she steps up and thwarts the evil plan…

These actions (and so many more) are the definition of HERO and deserve all the praise that accompanies it. Let’s remember that.

The air traffic controller’s nightmare

adragonfly

The Dragonfly…or as some may see it, an air traffic controller’s nightmare. I guess you have to be in my mind for that one, a ladybug sitting atop a branch overlooking an area with headphones on, looking into a radar screen, losing her mind trying to control all the insect traffic and flight patterns…never mind, I digress.

I have always loved the dragonfly. When I was very young, my mom would take me to the town where she grew up and we would stand on the small bridge that overlooked the rather large pond (and small portion of the river) that ran behind her house. Thousands of dragonflies would zip across the water back and forth, in all possible directions, eating tiny bugs while avoiding being eaten themselves.

Although the flight pattern was chaotic, it still had a very mesmerizing affect (much like meditating) watching them for what felt like hours, being pulled into their very busy world. To see them perched with their dainty see-through paper wings, reflecting a rainbow-of-colors-sitting-atop-a-graceful-ballerina one moment and then shoot off like a Black Hawk helicopter on a hot mission the next, made it impossible to look away.

As an adult I now know that they must cram a lifetime of dragonfly business into just a few months. They must live for the moment, not only because their moment is already too short, but the perils that await them on a daily basis; the birds, the frogs, the omnivore fish that are a constant threat to their shortened lifespan…

Every moment, every second is cherished… to sit on a Lilly flower or vine and let the sun shine on their tiny bodies drying the morning dew may be the most simple enjoyment one can possibly have.

 

Every day is a second chance

 umbrella

Every day is a second chance, but unless you know what you missed or what you should have changed, the second chance will be for naught…so keep your eyes and mind open. 

I was well aware of this oversight two days ago. As I was pulling out of the parking lot at the super market, a young lady was standing in the very cold rain (about 38 degrees F) in just a hoodie, tshirt, and jeans, holding a sign asking for money for food. My initial reaction was, – what luck I actually have some change on me this time! As I handed it out the window and apologized that it was only about two dollars in change, she thanked me, and blessed me, but I still had a nagging sensation; an invisible someone giving me the dipshit slap in the back of the head.

It wasn’t until I drove away onto the highway that I realized if I stopped for just a moment to observe the situation as a whole, I could have given her my umbrella (IDIOT!!). I kicked myself the whole way home and it is still eating away at me several days later. There are few things worse than being cold, wet, tired, and hungry all at the same time and I know the feeling, which makes me feel worse.

I was hoping by sharing this incident it would be somewhat cathartic but to no avail and just wishful thinking.

I will just have to believe that ‘every day is a second chance’ and prove to myself that I am a much better person that just handing over change to solve a much more profound request.

 

The city I love to hate

smiley-face-1
An original Harvey Ball smiley face (image: The World Smiley Foundation)

Worcester: A stale lifeless zombie with empty eyes longing for fresh blood and tasty brains to create life once again and live up to the potential it had for so many years prior. Through no fault of her own, the townspeople have beaten her into this vegetative-zombie state and so she will remain until a hero can save her.

Before we move on, let’s get one thing straight, the zombie’s name is pronounced Wista. Not Wor-cess-ter, nor Wor-chester. She gets very angry when you mispronounce her name. I won’t lie, I get very angry, not her.

I didn’t always hate the city of Worcester. When I was young it was a great place to raise a family. Parks with baseball games, super tall swings, ‘petting’ zoos full of goats, sheep, peacocks, deer and buffalo that roamed in their pens, throwing bread in the pond to feed the fish, swimming in the lake or being brave enough to enter the water using the tire swing… everything you would picture the Norman Rockwell picture of America to be like. A blue collar working class city and as the second largest city in all of New England, if you didn’t know everyone, you know a person who knew that person or someone related to that person. It was that kind of place.

Probably the second most iconic smiley face (Mona Lisa being the first) was created by Harvey Ball 50+ years ago in, you guessed it, Worcester! That big yellow ball with its quirky smile has been seen world-wide hundreds of times over. While there is much controversy over this well-known smile due to copyright issues, until history wants to give me a definitive answer, I give credit to Mr. Ball.

Here is a little background on Worcester:  The city is built on seven hills, they create the topography and explain why there are very few bicyclists among the traffic…their common English names are: Grafton Hill, Bell Hill, Airport Hill, Bancroft Hill, Green Hill, Pakachog Hill, and Vernon Hill. The 4-mile long lake that runs through it is Lake Quinsigamond, glacier created and home to the inter-collegiate regatta since 1859.

If you came from the Salisbury Street/west side area, you had money (period), if you lived on ‘the hill’ you were probably lower middle class, if you lived in the South end, more than likely you had a harder life but just didn’t know it at the time, and if you were from the Piedmont Street area well… it was known as the shall we say ‘working girl’ section of town, and like any good city, it knew to keep itself in check, not seeping into other neighborhoods.

Worcester is deep in history; it boasts such names as Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, Abraham Lincoln who visited and spoke at City Hall (1848), it is home to Marshall “Major” Taylor who held seven world records for his professional bicycle racing and the second African-American to hold a world record in any sport (1899), and John Adams worked as a school teacher and studied law (1755-1758), just to name a few.

The Blackstone Canal (1828) allowed the city to thrive and become a huge source for textiles, shoes, and clothing and known to be the largest inlet port on the east coast. This canal also led to a huge immigration of Irish, French, and Swedish in the mid-19th century.

In 1831, Ichabod Washburn opened Washburn & Moen which shortly thereafter became the largest wire manufacturing company in the country, then brought more manufacturing to the area and became the center of machinery and wire products for companies such as Wyman-Gordon, American Steel & Wire, Morgan Construction and Norton Company. The Royal Worcester Corset Factory (1908) was the largest employer of women in the United States at the time.  If you have ever had a soda made by Polar Beverages (1882), you are drinking from a fourth-generation family owned business that abuts Rte 290 and has the smiling blown up mascot Orson the Polar Bear waving to you (who has been the butt of many college pranks and stolen many times over). In the years 1949, 1960, 1965, 1981, AND 2000 Worcester was voted All-American City!

You want inventions? We gave you Candlepin bowling in 1879 (which is still a New England thing where you bowl with pins that are a different shape, the ball fits into the palm of your hand and you throw three times as compared to twice with 10-pin bowling), the first massed produced Valentine Day card in 1847, the first organized protest against the U.S. Government (known as Shays Rebellion), the first monkey wrench (1840), the first envelope folding machine (1853), the typewriter as we know it today (Charles Thurber 1940) the first pressurized space suit developed at David Clark Company who are still leaders in aerospace developers this day and age, delicious Table Talk pies of all flavors (to include the one of the best Boston crème pies you will ever taste) and more…

It is home to some of the best and brightest who attended the schools: Worcester Polytech Institute (WPI), College of the Holy Cross, Clark University (Albert Einstein spoke here), University of Massachusetts Medical School (and Nobel Prize winner for Medicine 2006), Assumption College, Worcester State College, Becker University, and Quinsigamond Community College – all right here within the city limits!

But what have you done for me lately and why all the hate? Sadly, as hard as this city tries to regain some of its grandeur, the residents will not allow it, and they are in essence, the living breathing ‘city’. More drugs, more crime, and more violence pushed the working class (the backbone and those financially sustaining the city) to move out and rely on being subsidized by state and federal monies instead.

Does she try very hard to cater to the families of young children with classes at the library and Y, yes. Does she cater to the many colleges with plenty of bars to decompress from finals, yes.  She also has one amazing (and second largest in New England) art museum established in 1898, the Higgins Armory which was the one and only of its kind, (closed only recently 1931-2013) and was dedicated to arms and armor in the country, one ‘acoustical masterpiece’ known as Mechanics Hall, one theatre for plays/comedians (Hanover Theater), one civic center (the Centrum as it will always be called I don’t care who has the bigger check to rename it) but that is pretty much it.

Back in the day, the Downtown/Main Street area would ROCK; live music, DJs, dance clubs, all genres of music and all within walking distance of one another. These days, walk around on Main Street on any given night and you may find one or two places to have a drink but the distance between them and any other establishment would be cause for concern as there are blocks and blocks of abandon buildings or shops that close at 6:00 pm.

Thus the zombie is born…dutifully obeying its master, not growing, not thriving, day in and day out simply existing…and it just breaks my heart…no big yellow smiley face here Mr. Ball.

 

In response to today’s prompt-We Built This City: What do you love most about the city / town / place that you live in? What do you like the least about it? If you were mayor, what would be the most important problem you’d tackle? How would you tackle it?

 

Goose and I visit the animals

We drove out to an exotic rescue shelter of sorts. Not knowing what to expect, I was satisfied with the short-version visit; a handling exhibit of a snake, chinchilla, chameleon, skunk, and bearded dragon (not all at the same time). The young lady was thorough, great with the children, and answered my million questions that were on my mind.

As the handler held up the black snake, I burst into my rendition of: “In Africa, the saying goes, ‘In the bush, an elephant can kill you, a leopard can kill you, and a black mamba can kill you. But only with the black mamba is death sure.’ Hence its handle ‘Death Incarnate’-pretty cool huh…” not too many times do I get to quote this particular Kill Bill scene so we missed what the black snake really was. I am sticking with – it’s a black mamba.

blackmamba

In other observations in the room… Goose and I watch the children pet the animals and their faces light up, but one particular toddler-aged girl pets each furry animal or bacterial laden reptile, and promptly puts her fingers in her mouth. It is always interesting to watch other parents and how they can be oblivious (or lazy… I was giving her the benefit of the doubt). On the upside, I guess that is how you build one’s immune system (but ick!).

Chinchillacharmeleon  skunk

We then were lead outside, passed the goat (I believe his name was Richard) who liked to escape his pen, (and stood proudly showing off his Houdini talent), to the beautifully relaxed lynx cleaning himself and the two foxes snuggled atop the snow drifts trying to nap, peering at us over their fluffy tails laid across their snouts, and a look of distain, “can you not see we are trying to sleep here, honey you forgot to put out the do not disturb sign again”.

goat   fox

From there we headed into the reptile room (more? awesome!) and was greeted by an anaconda on the right and a 200 lb reticulated python on the left. Fingers crossed they ate recently….::slowly stepping behind the toddler::

And like a magic trick, the tour guide brought us to yet another room full of mammals; lemurs, a crowned crane, turtles and tortoises, two wallabies, a kookaburra (yes you read that correctly-the bird that sits in the old gum tree, king of the bush is he… and all that), porcupines, owls, rabbits, and more…

crestedcrane

Stay tuned for the next Adventures in the MiniCooper!

Love is in the air and in your soul

loveheart“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” – Judy Garland

After all it is Valentine’s Day so why not throw a little love out there. Even if you are not in a relationship at the moment, some point in your life you probably could relate to what Ms. Garland had to say.

That moment…that fleeting moment of a whisper or kiss truly does stir in your core and not even Father Time can erase that feeling. All you have to do is close your eyes and it comes flooding back to you, it may even propel you into another dimension (at least it seems that way) it is just that powerful.

There are so many layers to love it cannot be broken down, sorted out, or analyzed.

Maybe that is why it never leaves us, even when our heart is broken, there is still a sliver of it left behind.

 

(picture credit: http://flikie.s3.amazonaws.com/ImageStorage/d8/d86d6070173f46edab259e790120da28.jpg)