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Soulful Art or Teen Angst in Paint?

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Some pictures from my very brief painting phase in high school art class. I never liked paint much. Even though you hold the brush, it still sorta goes anywhere it wants to. I have always preferred pencils and markers and stuff. Things that are a more controlled extension of my hand.

Ya, I have control issues.

With no further ado, I present to you my crappy collection of high school art.

Mother Nature is weeping at the destruction we have done to our earth.  She is a part of ground, the trees, the clouds.

Mother Nature is weeping at the destruction we have done to our earth. She is a part of ground, the trees, the clouds.

This was from my “Save the Earth” phase.

I had T-shirt that said it.
I got it on my class ring.
I did reports on it for school.
I took Environmental Science (and I hate science).
I watched Captain Planet.

Not that I still don’t want it saved, but now I have other priorities. Actually, after 20 years, there is now actually a convenient location for me to recycle at! Imagine that!

A wolf who is so cool, he howls at his own moon.

A wolf who is so cool, he howls at his own moon.

This was sort of supposed to be like “Live Your Own Life”, “Do Your Own Thing”, etc.

It was me as a teenager trying to embrace that I would never be in the popular crowd. I would never wear turtlenecks under my sweatshirts or have expensive jeans or my own car to drive to school.

If you take it literally, then you will realize that the Earth only has one moon, and then, well, it just loses all meaning then…

Holding A Grudge

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*NOTE:  This blog post is going to suck.  I am using my blog to do a little deep psychological cleansing.  If you have a weak stomach (or just don’t give a sh*t about things that happened to me over 25 years ago), skip this one.  I will understand.  Actually, I won’t know the difference.  This is just some sh*t I had to get off my chest.  It has been weighing me down for a while.

A long while…

I am working on it...

I am working on it…

I can hold a grudge.  I was bullied in school, and I am still bitter about it.  It is something I still can’t let go of.

Today I noticed that the documentary “Bully” was available to watch on streaming Netflix.  I told my husband, “Oh, throw that in the cue.  I want to watch it.”

One beat of time passed.

“You know what, nevermind.  I lived that.  I don’t want to watch it again.”

Bully is the documentary that the Weinstein Company argued with the MPAA over the final rating of the film.  The MPAA originally rated it “R” for language.  You know, the language kids hear and use every day at school.  You know, the whole point of the documentary.  (The film was slightly altered to eventually earn a PG-13 rating.)

And that is about all I know about the documentary.

Once I hit middle school, my life was hell.

Sixth grade.  All of these cliques formed.  I didn’t even know that that word existed until that year.  I never had many friends in school.  But suddenly that became a terrible curse, instead of just an inconvenience.

I was teased.  That is how it was referred to around 25 years ago.

Yes, I can hold a grudge.

I will not discuss what I was teased about, because, well, I am not there yet.  It wasn’t anything that deserved all the attention that it got.

I had my own nickname.

The other assholes kids would say it to me in class.  In the halls.  On the bus.

Oh, don’t get me started on the bus.  It was its own particular brand of HELL.

There are several openings in my county for school bus drivers.  Why are they not being filled?  Maybe everyone has memories of bad experiences on the bus like I had.

Imagine getting on the bus in the morning, and all the kids visibly slide to the edges of the seats, closest to the aisle.  Most of the seats have just one student in them.  You walk toward the back of the bus.  When you are brave enough to ask if you can sit by someone, they all respond with “This seat is saved”.  By this time, the bus driver has already put the bus into motion again.  You have to hold on to the edges of the seats to not be dumped on the floor by the sway of the bus.  The bus driver starts barking at you to “Sit down”.  But you can’t.  You can only stand there, holding on to the seats.  You can’t even manage to be thankful that there is only one more stop before you get to school.

In that moment, you just want to die.

There is one particular girl I always thought was the ring leader of that.  Although, she wasn’t really smart enough for that.  Maybe I just blamed her because she had an ugly f*cking face.

I broke down every morning before school and begged my mom to not make me go to school.  She always made me go.  There are several photos she took during that time, of me before school in some outfit she wanted a picture of.  In all of them I had red rings around my eyes from crying.

I won’t scan them in and display them here.  Too depressing to display how much they all got to me visually, even though I am writing about it.

If only they had had Internet home school then.  I would have been an ideal candidate.

My nickname, in part (the part that didn’t specifically include my name) was published in the school newspaper.  No one seemed to find this disturbing.  Except for me.

Two boys in my class had to do a skit in English class.  They did it as Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live (yes, that was popular then).  They used my nickname in the skit.  To her credit, the teacher did actually ask me if that one bothered me.  But that was actually so funny that I couldn’t complain.  And they were two guys who usually didn’t bother me too much.

Others’ were worse.

There were more events in middle school.  So traumatic that I have blocked them from memory.  The few above are the ones that stick with me.

Once I got to high school, almost everyone had given up that sh*t, unless they were particularly juvenile.

And there was one boy, who never gave up teasing me.  I hated him.  I wanted him dead.  It’s a good thing at the time that I didn’t realize that high school kids actually could do such things to each other.  He said terrible things to me in class.  Obscene things.  It wasn’t fair.

Why couldn’t one of the cute boys I ACTUALLY LIKED say obscene things to me in class!

When I found out years later that he had died in a car accident, I shed no tears for him.  I was actually a little happy about it.

I know.  That makes me a truly terrible person.  But in his death, I knew I would never have to look upon his evil face again.

Now he has a skateboard park named after him.

If I had killed my self due to all his tormenting, I am sure I would not have received such an honor.

And sometimes I did contemplate that.

And my mom will remind me of things I said or did at that time, things I have blocked out.  Like one time when she was doing the dishes and I apparently threatened to cut my wrist with a knife.

Which begs the next question: If your kid does that, why wouldn’t you get them some help?

And another question: Teacher, if a kid in your class choses to do a report for your class on suicide, shouldn’t you take them aside and make sure they are OK? (It may have been for Psychology class, but still…)

Have you ever seen the movie “Never Been Kissed”?  I find the high school flashbacks in that movie really relatable.  My not-so-secret crush never invited me to prom and threw eggs at me, as happens in the movie.  But when it was time to vote for who would ride on the Homecoming float, sometimes they would vote for unpopular people, just so they could ride it and be laughed at.  Obviously it was meant to be an honor for the most popular girls.  One year they did vote two sisters in who were not popular.  They wisely declined from riding.  One year I heard that I ranked quite high in votes as well.  Thank you, assholes.

We were all stuck inside those walls together, sharing experiences.  We all knew so much about each other. Why couldn’t we have embraced that?  Why did we have to use that to cut each other down?

I had a dream, years after I was out of college.  I dreamed I was in the Waldenbooks store at my local mall.  (FYI—at the time I worked for a company connected to Waldenbooks.)  In the dream, there were lots of people in there from high school.  Some of the people I hated the most.

I began yelling at them, and telling them off.  Telling them what I thought of them.  I pushed bookshelves over on top of them, to hurt them physically as they had hurt me emotionally.  And when I woke up…

I felt good.  I felt like a little of the weight had lifted.

A little while later, I had a similar dream, where I was in the local grocery store.  I was face-to-face with one of the guys I hated the most.  A guy that my asbestos friend did hate the most.  I yelled at him and told him off.

I also felt better after that dream.  But, eventually, that relief passed.  And now I write this post.  To try and achieve some of that relief.  To try to wash away some of the extreme hatred I have had for these people for decades.  People who, I am sure, don’t remember me at all.  They don’t remember they teased me.  They don’t remember that I existed.

Some of these people have tried to be my friend on Facebook.  I laugh at them and ignore their friend requests.

I will admit that I am not even sure I remember all of these events accurately, because time and hate have most likely warped them in my head.

I have SO MUCH HATE for these people.  The ones who were the worst.

I still struggle with self-esteem issues to this day because of their name calling.  Because of them snatching my stuff because it seemed amusing to them.

Will I be going to my 20 year reunion next year?

I not be thinkin’ so.

I definitely need to still work in it...

I definitely need to still work on it…

And all the bullying laws around today aren’t going to keep these things from happening.  I was a quiet person (Oh, don’t ever call me “shy”. UGH!  What is with adults and their mother f*cking labels!).  I would never have reported that stuff to anyone.

Hell, at my job I had a girl make fun of a physical attribute I have, and I didn’t report her to Human Resources.  But I totally wish I had.  To this day.  Ten years later.

God, I can’t imagine what kids today go through…

With cell phones and social media, they can’t even get away from bullying when they get home!  At least after school I could nap on my couch to Ducktales and hide from it all.

Do I feel better after all this?  Can I move on?

Meh.  Probably not.

A Long Line of Blue Pontiacs

My car did it!  My 2004 Pontiac Aztek made it to 200,000 miles!

My odometer hitting 200,000 miles at 10:51AM EST on 11/19/2012!

When I was driving 25,000 miles annually, I calculated that this event would happen a lot sooner, such as in September of 2011.  But since I lost my job with the long commute, that postponed this milestone a little.  I also fantasized that I would have been able to trade in my Aztek for a Jeep Wrangler (my dream car) by now.  No such luck.

I bought my 2004 Pontiac Aztek brand new, so all those miles are from my household.  Every car I have ever owned myself was blue and a Pontiac.  In doing a quick calculation, I would say I have racked up 303,000 miles in blue Pontiacs since the summer of 1997. That works out to a 15 year average of 20,200 miles a year.

Man, I am a girl on the go.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I was a college commuter with no car.  The worst species on the planet to be.

Then my best friend helped me get a job at the gas station where she worked.  I worried how I would be able to travel the 20 minutes/14 miles between college and the village where my home and job were.  But my friend said she would give me a ride and that worked out well for that spring of 1997.

When summer came, we got into some sort of fight.  As much as I love her, she was a person who loved to be surrounded by drama, and sometimes instigated it from me as well.  Long story short, I told my mom my best friend was giving me rides home from work at 12:30AM, when in reality I was walking the 20 minutes/1.3 miles across town.  Luckily the town I lived in was so small that the only person who ever harassed me that whole summer while walking was the Chief of Police.

I loved my low paying retail job, but I knew I needed a car if I wanted to keep it once college classes started again.  All summer as I worked, I studied the Auto Trader to figure out what I could expect for my limited funds.

Oh no. I am wearing my unlucky shirt in that picture. It is unlucky because I was wearing it when that car died.

1989 Pontiac Grand Am LE

(racked up 23,000 miles)

I purchased this car with almost 143,000 miles on it from the side of the road for $2,000.  And I loved it.  I still do.

I bought it from a chick that had used it as her college car.  Now she had moved out of her parent’s house and was about to get married and had a new car.  I was too chicken to call about it, so I made my boyfriend-now-husband call.  Who then spoke with the chick’s little brother.  So, two parties who were not involved at all were discussing this potential future huge transaction in my life.  When I bought it, the chick said,” I am so glad that you are the one who bought it.”

Ya, I’m pretty sure that kind of car sale only happens between two chicks.

The chick had stuffed the center console with perfectly flattened candy bar wrappers.  They would not be the last candy wrappers to populate that vehicle.

I bought it while my boyfriend-now-husband was out of town at Disney World.  He came back and didn’t seem to think a thing that I had bought a car in his absence.  He had seen it parked in front of my friend’s house, and just figured I must have bought it.  Looking back, I can’t believe I made such a big purchase without his support.

So then it became my run-around get-to-college-car.  It had a luggage rack on the trunk.  As I was into NASCAR racing at the time, I referred to it as my spoiler.

I had a guy come into the gas station where I worked.  He told me he had had two Grand Ams, and that they were only good until 167,000 miles and then they always died on him (more on that later).

It was an uber rust-bucket, but I loved it.  In the two years I had the car, I put 4 new tires on it, some sort of wheel joint thing, the trunk rusted out and the shocks went into the trunk—that required some body work to fix it, a new muffler, a heater core (more on that later).

I had that car when I graduated college and when I got my first real job.  I totally would still have that car and be using it as a flower planter in my yard (Ya, I am sure the city would LOVE that!) if it hadn’t have died up in Sterling Heights while I was visiting my best friend.  On the way home, it died on the side of the road.  The garage it was towed to said it had a blown head gasket and possible cracked head.  My mom had to drive all the way up to get me while she was fighting off a nasty bought of diarrhea.  I left my car at my friend’s apartment where it was eventually towed as an abandoned vehicle.  Such a sad ending for my favorite car:(

The mileage when it died?  167,000-something.

The kid at the gas station spoke the truth!

My second Grand Am

1994 Pontiac Grand AM

(racked up 80,000 miles)

After my 1989 Grand Am died, I test drove cars that I could afford to buy with the cash I had saved up.  I quickly learned I had more expensive tastes.

The 1994 Pontiac Grand Am was the first car I ever bought from a car dealership and the first I ever had a car loan on.  I bought it used, with 81,488 miles on it.  It was teal, and had a red stripe down the side for style (if style was achieved by the stripe is questionable).  It had an actual spoiler.  To open the gas tank, you had to push a button inside.

I felt like I had arrived.

While this car had way more style than my last car and was in way better shape, it still always felt like what my mom would refer to as “My Temporary Car.”  She once bought a Ford Escort after an accident, when she needed transportation ASAP and just bought what would do right then.  And that is how my 1994 Grand Am always felt to me.

I got sick of it quickly, and yearned for a new car.  I made a few repairs on it as well, such as wheel joint things, EGR valve, etc.  But mostly I remember when the heater core went.  We were on our way home from Toledo when I smelled tell-tale aroma of antifreeze. A lot of it.  Leaking from my car as I drove. Hitting other hot parts and turning to stinky steam.  My husband thought I was crazy.

When we got to the gas station where I had previously worked, I stopped to check. Sure enough.  I bought some anti-freeze and stopped every so often to fill my quickly leaking reservoir as my mom followed me up to the dealership where I always got my work done.  Sure enough, heater core.

With a heater core replaced and 167,000 miles quickly approaching, I was itching for a new car.  I wanted either a Pontiac Aztek (which I thought looked totally awesome and no one else thought so) or a Jeep Wrangler.  As I was soon to be married and my husband could get me a discount on an Aztek, that is what I bought.

I traded in my 1989 Pontiac Grand Am at 161,036 miles. I had avoided the 167,000 mile Grand Am curse.

The Aztek when it was brand new…and a lil’ dirty.

2004 Pontiac Aztek

(racked up 200,000 miles)

On our honeymoon, we ran into people staying at the same bed & breakfast we were (Big Bay Lighthouse—eat that, suckers!) who had a blue Aztek. They loved it.  I think they even had leased one previously before buying the one they currently were driving.  That was the beginning of us realizing that while the world didn’t have enough bad things to say about the Aztek (including Pontiac itself); those who owned them loved them.

My husband knew I had my eye on the blue Aztek at the local dealership.  While we were waiting for his supplier discount from work to come though, he snuck down there and test drove it without me.  He fell in love with it.  So, I guess it is good he did, although I would have liked to have driven it first.

The Aztek was my first brand new car I ever owned.  I do not have enough nice things to say about my Aztek!  It has tons of interior room!  I once hauled all my belonging from the first 25 years of my life to a garage sale at my sister-in-law’s.  I removed the rear seats and filled that sucker from floor to ceiling, but it all fit.

It has ACTUAL floor space in the back seat!  On one occasion, we got 4 adults, one large canine, and a wheelchair all into the Aztek semi-comfortably.  My in-laws were not able to claim the same with their Trailblazer—the height of the wheelchair required them to fold down a seat to get it to fit.  Now we occasionally fit 2 adults, a toddler in a car seat, 2 large dogs, and a stroller in the Aztek with room leftover.

My husband and I took it on a trip out to Mt. Rushmore and camped in it every other night with the optional tent package (sans rear seats).  We really haven’t used the tent that much other than that one trip, but it was still awesome to tent camp without having to sleep on the ground.

It does wonderful in a crash!  I had only had it for just over a year, when I turned left in front of someone and caused $8000 worth of damage to the passenger side.  I wasn’t even sore.

The Aztek had among the highest CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) scores in its class, and won the appellation of “Most Appealing Entry Sport Utility Vehicle” in 2001 from J.D. Power and Associates, an independent consumer survey organization who noted: “The Aztek scores highest or second highest in every APEAL component measure except exterior styling.”


The only time my Aztek has left me stranded where the 2 times my battery died—once in my own driveway, once within a 10 minute walk from my home.  I have had various wheel hub joint things replaced (as I have done on all my Pontiacs), 2 new sets of tires (I am in dire need of another set), brakes, wires in the gear shifter, and there was a recall on the ignition system.

I have a theory that Pontiac only engineered the parts to last for 8 years, because once we hit the 8 year mark, things like the seat adjustment, dashboard lights, automatic windows, started to give out.  But it is a car we have used to DEATH for 8 years.

Some negatives are that the rear hatch doesn’t unlatch properly in cold Michigan weather.

After riding in my in-law’s quiet Trailblazer, I realized that the Aztek lets in lots of road noise.  Pontiac obviously knew this, which is why they equipped it with the radio that gets louder the faster that you drive.

If you set up the Aztek with the tent, you can’t really run out and buy a pizza and/or beer after that.  You have to be settled for the night, or have access to an additional vehicle.

The worst thing about the Aztek is what also makes it so stylish (shut up!)—the rear window.  Originally, they were made with rounded glass, which distorted everything.  Then there was just a black strip where the two windows joined.  Then to add style, they added the spoiler.  The spoiler looks wonderful from the outside, but is miserable to try and look out of, especially when changing lanes on an expressway.

My husband used to work on encapsulation for the rear window of the Aztek.   On two occasions, he even got to travel to the assembly plant in Mexico for work.

My husband complains about the Aztek needing lots of repairs, but I think his Ford Ranger is made much crappier.  He hasn’t had air conditioning since the truck was like 2 years old, and he had to get the throttle body fixed, the differential, other stuff I don’t remember, etc.

The Aztek was rarely ever featured on TV shows, the rare exception being Dark Angel starring Jessica Alba and Michael Weatherly.  As the show took place in the future, someone must have thought the Aztek looked like a futuristic car.  I also spotted one parked on the street in the background on Hart of Dixie.

I read on Wikipedia that the Aztek was marketed to Gen Xer’s with active lifestyles, such as camping, snowboarding, biking, etc.  I guess my husband and I fell for that, because we would have been the target audience at that time.  But I have to tell you, it also works well for hauling dogs.  Or for a child’s car seat.  And I know three older women with knee/hip/mobility issues who find the Aztek a very good height to get in and out of.  The Aztek doesn’t make you feel like you are in a hole you have to climb out of like a car, and you don’t need a step stool to get up into it.

Matthew DeBord of The Big Money argued that despite its poor reviews and sales, the Aztek was the car that, in the long run, could save GM. He praised GM for being daring and trying to create an entirely new market in vehicles, rather than simply copying successful formulas. He argued that the Aztek’s failure is similar to the failure of the Apple’s Newton and Mac Portable – two failed products that revolutionized the computer industry and became the basis for later successful products made by Apple.


The Aztek, she is my baby.  She still goes, even with duct tape on the passenger window, massive hail (& fist) damage to the sheet metal, a mark from a construction barrel that jumped out in front of me, a driver’s seat that no longer can be adjusted vertically.  She has never had a tune-up (hmmm, I wonder if my GM dealership will recommend one when they hear the mileage!).  AND THE AIR CONDITIONING STILL WORKS, WITH ZERO MAINTENANCE!

I am so glad I bought my Pontiac Aztek when I did.  I believe 2005 was the last year the Aztek was available.  And now, well, now even the Pontiac nameplate is R.I.P.

Maybe next I will go for cheapness and buy me a Kia.  (Sister-in-Law, don’t tell your husband that.)

Even my lil’ boy knows blue cars are best.

Almost There!

I will post a blog post about my car when it hits 200,000 miles.  Hmmm.  I think I better start writing this afternoon!

Odometer in my 2004 Pontiac Aztek reads 199,940 miles today. Only 60 more miles to go! If I drove to Ann Arbor & back this afternoon, that would more than roll it over!

A Few of My Fav 80’s Pix (Fashion Extravaganza…or lack thereof)

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I guess I am glad I grew up in the 1980’s. It gave me a chance to wear some truly bright and strange clothes. I still got teased for wearing them. But I still think I looked good.

Here is a picture of my asbestos friend and I at a school dance. We must have been dancing hard because we look a little sweaty and gross. I look at this picture and think “No wonder no boys wanted to kiss me. I look like I’m eight years old!” And yes, I am wearing my Wild Puffalumps shirt that I got from the Kool-Aid Wacky Warehouse. I wonder if that still exists?

Two hot chicks at the middle school Beach Party Dance. 5/20/1988

This is my favorite 80’s outfit. I have never gotten to make my own tie-dyed shirt (I am lacking in so many essential life experiences). This shirt from Hill’s (the 80’s palace of pre-teen low-budget sub-standard style) was as close as I came. I am also wearing my jean skirt–everyone was required to have one. Notice how I am not just wearing 2 socks on each foot, but one foot has yellow/pink, and the other has pink/yellow. Ya, I knew how to rock it.

My favorite 80’s outift

This is my second favorite 80’s outfit. It was very colorful. And I was very into the color fuschia/magenta at the time. Notice the fake suspenders, where both ends are attached to the shirt. The jeans had multi-colored patches on them. (My mom didn’t put them on, they came that way. I know, stylish.) I think there were 3 patches in all, but only two can be seen in the picture.

My second favorite 80’s outfit

I told my husband “This is what teenage girls do when they don’t have boyfriends and they are at home bored.” He said, “What, masterbate?” I replied, “Well, that too. But they also put lots of hair spray and make-up on to see how awesome they can look.”

Maybe I was going for the Pizzaz from Jem & The Holograms look? Notice the Kirk Cameron T-shirt. (Man, I was a nerd.)

Final and lastmost. The pride of the collection. I present to you, the hightest my bangs ever got. They would have gotten bigger…but then the 80’s ended:( This was a school picture. Yup, I rocked the necktie in a school picture. I still totally have that shirt. I wear it now and then and tell people it is over 20 years old. (They are unimpressed.)

School picture time. Whoa, can barely fit those bangs in the picture-NOT!

OK. That is all the embarrassment I can handle for one post. Remember folks, these are the pictures I CHOSE to share with the world. There are many others that will never see the light of the cybersphere.

I’m not stalking you. is NOW ON FACEBOOK! “Like” that I’m not stalking you and get an update when there is a new post to read. (It is sort of like YOU are stalking ME.)

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