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Painted Rock Neighborhood

In case you didn’t get the memo (or you never look at your surroundings), we are presently smack-dab in the middle of a painted rock craze. (At least in my  neighborhood we are.)

My son and I didn’t go looking for them. We just happened upon them, a delightful surprise. Actually, when we go searching on purpose we usually cannot find any.

My son found a couple. I hashtagged them and posted them on Facebook, as the rocks instructed. Then I discovered there was an actual fb group for our area. I resisted joining it. But once I made a few rocks, I was really curious if anyone had found them. So I gave in and joined the group.

Then my stress level instantly went through the ceiling. I felt pressure to find rocks. To hide rocks. To make rocks to hide. People were in the group actually complaining because they had made and hidden rocks, but no one had posted them to fb  yet.

DO THEY REALIZE HOW INSANE THEY SOUND?!

1. These are in PUBLIC PLACES. That means anyone can take them. Raccoons could take them.
2. Not everyone has a computer or smart phone.
3. Not everyone uses Facebook.
4. Not everyone knows about this activity.
5. People CAN KEEP THEM. This is an unofficial community game. No one is required to play by your arbitrary rules. The cops are not going to track down the “theft” of a painted rock.

I couldn’t fall asleep that night. This is supposed to be a fun community interaction. But instead I could only feel all the emotions of the people who were mad that they didn’t find any rocks, the ones who hid them and felt they were not being found, and the groundskeeper at a public park who mowed over some. And there are the people who are already freaking out about what to do when winter arrives and it could possibly–God-forbid–snow.

I have not left the group yet, but I probably will very soon. There are so many people doing this now. My newsfeed is filled with rocks. The chances of me actually seeing one of the three rocks I have hidden to date would be like finding a painted rock at bottom of a river. It is fun to paint them once in a while, and to find one when we are out and about already, but I don’t have extra time to dedicate to this hobby.

Or the money. Apparently if the designs are to stand up for any length of time in the harsh elements, they need to be sealed. People keep saying Mod Podge is good for that. I have never used it. My sister-in-law said she saw some at the dollar store, but with this craze it was long gone by the time I got there. It is $3 at my local Meijer store. I already have a large collection of rocks painted and ready to go. Just counting down the days until payday so I can buy some Mod Podge.

The rocks of my son & I, almost ready to be released into the world

Here is a fun fact: If you say “Modge Podge” (because that is what I thought it was called until 10 seconds ago when I Googled it) 10 times in a row really fast in a semi-robotic voice, it will deeply annoy everyone in your house. (Except for the elderly dog who is deaf.)

Go ahead, try it! You can thank me later 😉

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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Freezing Rain on the Block

There seems to be a big debate out in the world right now concerning whether school gets delayed or canceled for weather more now than it did previously.

This debate seems to come up every year about this time. It takes me back to a simpler time. A time in Michigan between the Blizzard of ’78, caused by regular old winter and the large snowfalls of 2014, caused by climate change. It takes me back to a certain winter, 1989-90, when I was in 8th grade. There was not snow that winter, but endless freezing rain. Freezing rain caused by global warming that no one was talking about yet.

Freezing rain, in case you live somewhere without it.

Freezing rain, in case you live somewhere without it.

My life was very complicated at that time. I struggled every morning with what clothes and jewelry to wear so that I wouldn’t get teased once I arrived at the bus stop/bus/school. I desperately wanted to wear things that would be “in fashion”*. Instead, I tried for “blend in”. Usually, I achieved something just north of “you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”. (Although, I assure you, my mom was not dressing me at that time.) Luckily schoolwork came rather easy to me, because I spent most of my time stressing about all the different cliques at my school. And if any boys would ever like me. (Seems kinda obvious now that no boys liked me in 8th grade because I had zero boobs and looked like I was about 10.) Little did I know that my future husband was still in elementary school at this time. My school looked like a prison, with tall gray walls and few windows. Gum chewing was banned. I was lucky enough to be able to say I had 6 friends that year. That is probably the only time in my life I have been able to say that.

My bedroom walls circa 1989, partway through NKOTB-ification.

My bedroom walls circa 1989, partway through NKOTB-ification.

Now that I have painted the picture for you of my day-to-day existence, I must let you know that it was the year of New Kids on The Block. Their presence in every part of pop culture had sling-shotted me into puberty. My asbestos friend and I made a daily pilgrimage to the nearby pharmacy to loiter and read the teen magazines to gain all the knowledge we could about Danny, Donnie, Joe, Jon, and Jordan. (I would marry Jordan, and she would marry Jon, and we would be sisters-in-law.**) When we had some money, we would buy the magazines for research purposes, such as the name of Jon’s dog and their bodyguards. We also hung up the pin-ups all over our rooms. What better way to memorize every line on their faces?

EVERY girl at school had a NKOTB T-shirt. So, of course, I had to get one. As all the fashion was still 1980’s-based, and I was fond of all things fluorescent. The New Kids shirt I bought had a black and white picture of each of them, accented with fluorescent yellow. On the back were hand prints in hot pink (presumably theirs), with a print of their autographs on it. I think only one or two other girls in my school had that particular shirt.

My NKOTB scrapbook

My NKOTB scrapbook

You might wonder what all this has to do with freezing rain. I’m getting to that.

I learned a trick. If you wore a risky article of clothing on a Monday, the other hellions at school teased you about it ALL WEEK LONG. So, I took to wearing risky clothing on Fridays. Then, it would be forgotten about over the weekend. By everyone else, anyway.

So, the winter of 8th grade, I always wore my New Kids on The Block shirt on Friday.

“But, they were popular?” you ask.

Yes, they were. And other girls in the school liked them too.

But just because the popular kids like the same things you did, that still didn’t mean you weren’t safe from getting teased for it. Especially if you had a reputation for being an easy target. (Please, kids. NEVER let yourself get that reputation. It will scar you for life and force you to use your blog as therapy for it.) Although I did once impress a group of girls a rung or two higher on the popularity ladder than I by showing up at school with the first known magazine of Jordan with his shirt off. Of course, they still didn’t let me be in their dissection group in biology class.

Jordan Knight showing off his chest.

Jordan Knight showing off his chest.

And I never knew if I would walk into school one day, and that would be the day everyone else decided that NKOTB were uncool. (It turned out that happened during the summer after 8th grade.)

So, I put on my NKOTB shirt every Friday, ready to head off to the hell that was middle school. And every Friday, for what seemed like all winter, school was either delayed, cancelled, or delayed until it was cancelled, due to freezing rain. I guess something about the roads being slippery and not thinking it was safe for the school buses to drive on them or something. I was a kid. All I knew was that my NKOTB shirt was my “lucky charm” to get school cancelled. If I wore it, I got to stay home! Or, in most cases, hang out with my asbestos friend all day.

Just because the roads were too icy to drive on, didn’t mean they were too icy to walk on, right? My asbestos friend and I would go up to the pharmacy to look at teeny bopper magazines, all the while clinging on each other as we slid along on the ice-covered sidewalks. One time the ice was so bad that she got out her ice skates and skated down the road of our subdivision (i.e. trailer court). I followed along, sliding in my boots. It was great fun, until the sun came out and melted the ice and she had to hobble home in her ice skates on concrete.

One day, I even fell down–which was AWESOME!!

You see, my mother wouldn’t let me cut holes in my jeans, as was the style at the time. But when I fell on the ice, I tore a tiny little hole in the knee of my jeans. I picked and picked and picked at that hole until it went from side to side, seam to seam. (She is still mad at me about that to this day.)

So, you see, that is how winter weather, New Kids on the Block, and fashion are all stored together in my mind.

Oh, I never got to see the New Kids in concert. Still kinda hoping my asbestos friend and I might go someday. But, I did meet one in person!***

* In retrospect, it is all so fucking stupid. We were a bunch of farm kids in Michigan. Why were we trying so hard to dress like the people we saw on TV and in magazines anyway? It’s not like we were going to grow up and be famous models or Miss Teen Michigan or anything.

** As an adult, Jordan seems very self-centered and egotistical. No longer appealing to me. And Jon turned out to be gay. I was always sure that with that high voice, Jordan would be the gay one.

*** I met Joe McIntyre! There is a picture of him hugging me to prove it, but I was unfortunately never able to actually get my hands on said picture. *sigh* Now I think Joe may be my favorite.

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What I Learned This Week – 1/12/14

(RECAP OF SNOWPOCALYPSE/POLAR VORTEX)

It is not what I learned this week, but knowledge that I learned over working for the past 17 years that I put to good use this week.

There has never been a day that I stayed home from work where I wished that I had gone in.

The tree and the ground do not usually meet each other.

The tree and the ground do not usually meet each other.

Sunday and Monday Michigan was hit by the snowpocalypse and the polar vortex. (Wow, that sounds like a blockbuster double-feature for the SYFY channel.) I was due to work 37 miles away at 5:00PM on Monday. My main route had reports of being impassable with 3 to 4 foot drifts by the Sheriff’s department just 12 hours prior. Add to that the fact that:

1. I do not have 4-wheel drive.
2. I would have to expose my son to the deadly windchills.
3. If I got stuck on the road, I would be killed by the deadly windchills (great name for a band, by the way).
4. If I didn’t go into work, my husband could take my car that handles better than his. (He did. And it always started. Even when it was like -25 degrees outside, my 2004 Pontiac Aztek with the 218,500 miles always started. I ❤ my Aztek!)
5. My best friend had already forbid me from traveling.
6. My mom had forbade me from traveling.

Add to that that I would be spending roughly 4 hours roundtrip on travel to work a 4 hour shift. I would spend more on gas than I would make.

Azteks rule!

Azteks rule!

Some people were mad that my employer was open at all.

Business is business. As an employee, you are just a cog in the machine to make money. Your employer is not going to look out for your best interest. They want to be open to make money. I don’t blame them. If I had a business, I would want to be open to make money too.

So YOU can be the only one to decide if the roads are safe enough to travel on to get to your job or not. I know that decision is harder for some than others. My husband did go into work, because his is the higher paying job in our household. (I only work part-time.) Plus, he had a shorter distance to travel.

I know what you are thinking:

But a single mother who has to support her kids can’t lose her job, she has to get to work.

I then play Devil’s advocate:

But those kids will be even worse off if she ends up dead in a ditch.

Ohio has a great thing called “snow emergencies.” (We do not have that system in Michigan.)

When you get up to Level 3, any non-essential personnel (essential personnel being firemen, police, doctors, semi trucks delivering more road salt, etc.) caught traveling on the roads will be subject to arrest. It cuts down on the traffic (and, in turn, the stuck cars) on the road to speed up the time it takes to clear the snow off the road. Actually, in the case of this past week, they could not clear the road at all because it was too cold for the salt to melt the ice.

So, to sum up, the eight or so Ohio counties right below me were ARRESTING people for leaving their houses, while Michigan residents struggled to go on with “business as usual”.

Does anyone see the disparity there besides me?

Now understand, the snow emergencies encourage businesses to close, but it is not mandatory. Then people are torn between:

1. Go to work, get paid, maybe die, or get arrested on the way.

2. Stay home, lose money, risk getting fired and losing future money, but you are safe.

My asbestos friend’s husband actually faced this dilemma. He went in, only to arrive at his work and be sent back home again. But at least it clarifies the line. If you are willing to go out when it is against the law, then yes, you are crazy for being on the roads.

Now, there was one time that I DO wish I had gone to school when I did not. (If you said “Field Day”, wash your mouth out with soap.)

In Kindergarten, we were going to have an “Indian Dance”. We worked all week on making headdresses out of construction paper and vests out of brown paper bags. On Friday we were to get to wear everything we made and dance around. But my mom kept me home because I have diarrhea.

I am still mad at her for making me miss the Indian dance. If I had been there, it probably would have been forgotten with all the other activities we did in Kindergarten. But because I was kept home, in my head it has become legen–wait-for-it–dary.

Barney Rocks

Barney Rocks

Wait…I just realized that sounds very politically incorrect.

Maybe my son and I will have to stage our own dance in the living room, where we can’t offend anyone.

Strange Lights In The Snow

Posted on

The following are some cool pictures I took on a snowy New Year’s Eve in Michigan.  I think the year was 2007.  They are long exposures of cars driving by.  I felt they needed to be shared with the world.

World, Enjoy!

SNO PIC-1

SNO PIC-2

SNO PIC-3

A Picture of Contrasts

I love this picture. Always have.

Just a couple of youngin’s walking down the street, up to no good.

This picture used to be on my bulletin board. Now it is in one of my special picture albums that does not conform to chronological order, as the rest of them do.

This is a picture of my asbestos friend and I walking down the street in front of my house while we were in high school. My mom shot it out our front door. My asbestos friend and I were probably heading from the small village grocery store back to her house. (I think she still stops at that store at least once a day, every day. I don’t know what she did when she lived 2,000 miles away in Arizona.)

To me, this has always been a picture of contrasts.

First of all, there is snow, but also puddles.

I am wearing a scarf, but no winter coat.

We are not children, but not yet adults.

We look like we are deeply engaged in conversation, when we were probably talking about nothing.

That isn’t true.  We were probably talking about boys.

I love this picture.  I love the purple boots I am wearing in the picture.

I still own that cream-colored hoodie and that scarf (I knew the hoodie was that old, but not the scarf.).  That hoodie can be found in the lower left of a picture in my post from April of 2012 called You Give Hoodies A Bad Name (https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/04/01/you-give-hoodies-a-bad-name/)

I look like I am almost skipping, probably just happy that someone stopped by and I got to leave the house for five minutes. At that time in my life, my friends were in sports, band, modeling, had boyfriends, etc. Me, well, I had television. An active imagination. Lots of markers to draw with. Ya, that was about it. My existence was pretty dull at that point.

But I don’t even mind that my mom secretly captured all that. It makes me yearn for more innocent days (but not boring days. Or high school. Or being sad, lonely, depressed, unloved, suicidal.)…ok, scratch “innocent days”.

It makes me yearn for my friend’s kid-free day, when we go roaming about as we please, willy-nilly, with no one to feed or take care of but ourselves.

Maybe what I see most in the picture is freedom. Freedom from school. Freedom from winter. From winter coats. From snow. Freedom to just be.

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