Thursday, April 28, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Soulja Boy Dance

My husband Jerrod celebrated his 30th birthday right around the time that Soulja Boy Tell Em was becoming famous for his big hit Crank That. That song took off! Everybody was talking about it and I was lost. I wanted to Superman or Soulja Boy or whatever the mania was, but this was just barely past my prime. I had exited the young, hip, club scene (was shoved out really) and so it was getting harder and harder to keep my finger on the pulse of today's pop culture.

(Note: I still haven't solved this problem and now understand why my dad was notorious for picking up slang during my formative years and dropping it inappropriately in front of boys I liked. I hope to embarrass my own kids like that one day... and the video below might very well serve that purpose.)

So anyway, I wanted to throw Jerrod a huge surprise birthday party. I shocked him with plane tickets home to Kentucky that morning, invited 70 of his friends to the party, rented out the dance space from our wedding reception, and got it catered. I wanted it to be a really fun party and didn't want him to feel old, I wanted him to feel young and hip, so I thought it would be bossome to learn the Superman dance (it was a craze at the time, ok? don't judge me) and teach it to everybody at the party.

One problem: I didn't know the dance.

So I turned to the trusty YouTube channel and found loads of videos. Everybody and their momma had uploaded videos teaching the world this dance phenomenon, so I chose a few of my favorites and practiced in our 399 sq. ft. apartment in Queens until I considered myself a pro. I practiced and practiced. I was sweating it out, but I gotta tell you, I felt young and fresh and smokin' when I did that dance... by myself... in my apartment. I was at least as good as the guys on the instructional video dancing in the bed of a dry swimming pool.

However, the way you feel on the inside is not always how you appear on the exterior, so without further ado, here is the paparazzi footage from that evening. My favorite part is my husband and his buddy Chadwell freestyling halfway through. 100% boss.

So here's my jam this Thursday! Way back from 2008.

(click the video to see bigger version)

Word Up Wednesday - Flirtbook

So when I first used this word, it was when a friend of mine brazenly and unashamedly called another friend of mine "fetching" on Facebook. Bold and confident, he flirted with her openly for the world wide web to see. Nothing has ever romantically transpired between these two, but when she responded that she "loves a man in uniform," the flirtbooking could not be denied. I called them out, told our mutual friends about the ridiculous fun, and we still laugh about it.

These two Flirtbook - make flirtatious comments over Facebook. It's fun, and I can imagine that if I'd had Facebook when I was single, I'd definitely be flirtbooking hotties 24/7. When I first used the term, it was light-hearted and merry, just a fun way to say, "Hey, I see what y'all are doing and it's silly." But recently, I've been thinking about flirtbooking and what it could mean in a dimmer light.

Maybe because I just read a few articles about Facebook being linked to 1 in 5 divorces, but Flirtbooking can actually be dangerous. Whether you're married or not, have kids or not, initially interested in someone or not, it's way too easy online to "bump into" past loves and share intimate details about your personal life with the wrong people. All relationships have their ups and downs, and a simple Flirtbook when someone's love life is in a more stressful phase could start the ball rolling down a slippery slope.

It's one thing for you and your spouse to run into his/her ex, for example, at the supermarket or a ball game. There is the tense introduction, the gracious small talk, and then going your separate ways and enjoying the rest of your day. You judge his/her ex's attractiveness in comparison to your own (come on, don't deny it) and may glean information such as their marital status, their form of employment, or whether they prefer paper or plastic. It's a quick conversation, awkward even, and then everybody moves on; but in a brief, real world, accidental face-to-face encounter like that, you don't go through their photo albums, find out which of your old mutual friends you still share, or have access to their email address/phone number.

So, what I'm suggesting is this: protect your relationships. All my single ladies, Flirtbook away! And if he put a ring on it, then close the Flirtbooking chapter just like you did with cage dancing, hooker boots, and body shots.

And PS - I promise you that your ex will enjoy his/her birthday even if you don't post on their wall. If you wouldn't call them at home to wish it, then don't disrespect their spouse by doing it online for the world to see.

Okay, so all of this is obviously just my humble opinion. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

imPROMPTuesdays! - June guidelines for Underwired Magazine

So, good news: another of my personal essays will appear in Underwired Literary Magazine, a bossome publication based in Louisville. The May issue was about "Ah-ha Moments" and if you read my blog post, "Momma Knows Best," then you'll know what to expect in print.

And now, we near the June deadline. I've been horrible about submitting to Underwired (or anywhere) since my son was born, so let's use the last Tuesdays of each month to hold each other accountable. I know a lot of you respond to my blog with narratives of your own and a lot of you write. Well, tell your stories... and get paid!

Okay, you can go to Underwired's Website for submission guidelines; but here on the trusty blog, you can read about the June theme. We've got til Saturday night to turn something in, so get crackin'. 

Here's the prompt:

June The Office Issue
workaholic, glass ceilings, dream job/job from hell, 9-5, water cooler gossip, office politics, annoying co-workers, corner office, retirement

Monday, April 25, 2011

Momma Mondays - "Tylenol?!"

Oh dear blogsphere, I have been dying for today to roll around so that you can share in another jaw-dropping moment of My Life As A Queens Momma.

As you know, my 9 month old son has been sick for over a week, but the blog post du jour goes way back to where it all began last Monday evening. Knox started feeling rotten Sunday night and neither of us got much sleep. I was worried and took him to the doctor Monday afternoon, but the pediatrician said he only had a cold and sore throat and that there wasn't much I could do except to give him the generic brand of Tylenol if he felt warm or maybe to help him sleep. It was a virus, not infection, so he'd have to let it run its course.

When my husband came home, we decided to take the little sick patient for a walk around the building. This is always a welcome distraction. A jaunt through the halls and down the elevator helps Knox get his mind off of his runny nose and aches. He loves watching the bright red elevator numbers move as we climb floors and he could watch the fountain in our front lobby for an hour if we'd let him.

So after a while, he started rubbing his eyes and whining a pitiful little whine. He had started to develop a deep cough and clearly felt just awful. We agreed to give him a steam bath and start his bedtime routine, hoping that he could get a little rest. The feeling of helplessness we had as parents was overwhelming, and as the baby started to cry, we headed back upstairs.

And that's when we shared the elevator with Bulgarian Woman Upstairs (BWU).

"Oh, is the baby sick?" BWU asked.

"Yeah, he's got a cold," I said.

"Are you going to medicate him organically?" BWU asked, nodding her head and pushing up her glasses. She wrinkled her nose and tried to get close to Knox, but my husband ran block pretty well. She straightened up and looked down at me. "Non-traditional medication is the best way to help them," she said in her thick and accusatory accent.

"Um, well, we'll probably give him some Tylenol before bed," I said, wondering how an elevator ride to the first floor from the lobby could possibly take that long.

The doors opened and our family stepped out as BWU exclaimed, "Tylenol?!" I turned back to see her cock her eyebrows and shake her head.

"That's what his pediatrician recommended," I said from the hallway, desperate for some reason to defend myself.

As the elevator doors closed, she clenched her teeth and sharply inhaled. "Tylenol," she repeated as if the word alone had a sour taste. And then she was gone.

My son's cry from our doorway was the only thing in the world that could have squelched the impulse I had in that moment to tear through the STAIRS doorway and race the elevator up to her floor. This woman, this insane, trouble-making, selfish, and idiotic woman had the nerve to judge my parenting.

Let's go back... back back back in time... to previous encounters with Bulgarian Woman Upstairs:

Encounter #1.
The first time I met BWU was over 2 years ago. The elevators were being replaced so the whole building had to use the stairs. I had just gotten back from Manhattan and headed upstairs to my apartment, when I was suddenly shocked to find a blond little toddler in the middle of the dimly lit concrete stairway. She was on all fours trying to crawl up the stairs. I supposed she could walk, but she was obviously still young enough to be wearing a diaper and she was alone.
"Where's your mommy?" I asked her, bending down to spot her in the case of a stumble.
She pushed her hair out of her face and continued to crawl upward, shaky but determined.
"Come on, baby!" BWU shouted from above. Annoyed at having to wait, she finally stalked down the stairway and found her child with me, a stranger. "She's taking forever, right? I just needed a cigarette, you know? And the baby takes forever. I couldn't carry her and the laundry, so I went on up. I need another one already."

Encounter #2.
"Hi," I said to BWU and baby one afternoon a few weeks later.
"Listen," she said. "I need to go back to school so I was thinking that you could babysit the baby 3 times a week for me. I can't afford to get a nanny, but you're already at home so it's perfect."
(Do I even need to comment here readers? She wants a stranger to babysit her daughter, not to mention that my time isn't of value.)

Encounter #3
Last spring, Jerrod and I were preparing our patio for company.
"When are you going to make me a steak?" BWU asked from the clouds.
We looked up and see her perched on the fire escape, (against bldg. policy), smoking a cigarette.
We laughed her off, she wrinkled her brow in confusion (def. not joking), and went back inside. Better to wait her out than engage in conversation.
A few minutes later when the coast was clear, we resumed setting up. When we uncovered the patio table and pulled it out, we saw that the chairs behind it were covered in ash and cigarette butts. BWU, apparently, felt that such items organically evaporate into the air rather than succumb to gravitational pull and litter up her neighbor's property.

Oh, how the list goes on, but for today's purpose:
the chain-smoking Bulgarian Woman Upstairs finds second hand smoke and leaving her baby in the care of strangers perfectly acceptable, while doctor prescribed Tylenol for a baby with a temperature of 101.7 bad parenting.

Comment away!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fan Club Friday - Forgotten

Just finished the ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of Cat Patrick's debut novel Forgotten. It was really nice to have a book on hand that gave me an opportunity to open up my mind to a new idea and embrace it. And with Patrick's book, you really have to do just that.

The plot follows sixteen-year-old London through her junior year, but only day by day. London remembers, but not the way you or I remember. Due to a traumatic incident as a young girl, she only remembers forward. So, for example, since her mother and best friend are found in her future memories, she recognizes them immediately; but if she's just had an encounter with someone she'll never see again, it's as if that encounter never existed. That means she has to leave herself notes every night before she goes to bed so that when she wakes up with only the memories of a future she will have, she can fill in the blanks of memories she's already had. Of course this can get tedious, so each day brings boundless missteps and certain uncertainty.

When I tried explaining the plot to my husband as I was reading, he didn't get it. I don't know if that was me not explaining it well enough or if a person just has to read the book to get it. Either way, the back cover doesn't lie: part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, Forgotten really does make you question the what-ifs in life and encourage you to control your own destiny. (There were many moments when I wanted to shake London and say, "Change it! You know what's to come [especially with adorable and dreamy Luke] so you can change it!") And I've found myself thinking about London even after the last page, wanting to know more, thinking about her family and her future, and wondering if her memory ever readjusts itself, which is always the mark of a good book.

I enjoyed this book so much. I loved diving into London's world, and I think that if the reader will commit fully to this unique way of remembering, then they will enjoy it, too. I will say that one part I really loved was meeting Luke... again and again and again... because due to another traumatic incident (this one in his future) her mind blocked him altogether. It never got old feeling my breath catch with London's every time she first met him.

Cat Patrick's YA novel Forgotten is available June 2011. It sold to Paramount even before its release date, which is pretty bossome if you ask me. Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit fame has already signed on to play London. Cat Patrick is a fellow Little, Brown gal, so don't wait for the movie. Be sure to pick up Forgotten in a few months!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Throwback Thursday - The Bell

Taking care of Knox this week has been extra hectic. It's so hard to see an 8-and-a-half-month-old baby struggling to breathe. He's cried and cried, letting me know that something is definitely messed up in his life right now, but without the ability to tell me what. We've been to the pediatrician's office twice and the emergency room once. We've had four sleepless nights in a row, and seeing how it just took me an hour and forty-five minutes to put him to sleep in order for me to finally write this blog post, I'm assuming the fifth sleepless night is upon us.

That said, this is not a pity party for me or for my son. It's a throwback to sick days at Mamaw & Papaw's house. Those were so glorious (I mean, aside from the strep, flu, cold, pox, or whatever). With Mom and Dad both working, they couldn't always take off when we woke up with a fever or just the ickies; and on those days, we were driven to town.

Mamaw & Papaw have a front bedroom that my husband and I now refer to as Hotel Fryman; but back in the day, it was where my brother, sister, and I went to be sick and doted on. Being sick at my grandparents' house was way more bossome than being sick at home. They had cable television for starters. And Mamaw always sent Papaw down to Ken's Supermarket to buy us whatever food (or popsicles) we "needed." But the best thing of all was: the bell.  (pronounced "bail")

The bell is old. It's small. It's of the brass variety and tarnished just so out of years of use. The handle is actually not tightly adjusted to the bell itself so it already feels like it could break right when you pick it up. But it rings. And when it does, the grandparents come a runnin'. Might be a little rinky dink, but shoo-wee! It does the job.

When you're sick at Mamaw & Papaw's house, the only thing you're responsible for doing for yourself is using the bathroom. And I swear that if Mamaw had catheters, she wouldn't even make us do that. Sick days at their house meant kicking back in a queen sized bed, propped up on loads of pillows, talking on the telephone mounted on the wall next to the headboard, watching My So Called Life (but changing it back to Saved By The Bell if anyone approached), and eating chicken noodle soup.

And if I needed anything - ANYTHING - I'd just ring that bell. Lights off? Ring the bell. Another cover? Ring the bell. Someone to scratch my back? Play with my hair? Bring me the remote control cause I kicked it off onto the floor while I napped? Just ring the bell.

As I head into sixth day of caregiving for my infant son - - a child who has learned to reach for me and does so pitifully with both arms in the air and lips in a pout, whose cheeks are covered in tears as he says, "Mmmmmama," who can't wipe his own nose, feed himself, use a toilet, or put himself to sleep - - I realize that Karma has come to pay me a visit... and she's a ringin' that bell.

Who took care of you when you were sick? Who takes care of you now? And I'm only responsible for this kid til he's 18, right?

(Note: the last time I rang the bell at Mamaw's, I was 29 years old with strep throat.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Word Up Wednesday - Bossome

This is a word I've only started using recently. It came about one night when my husband got home from work and complimented the blog.

Him: Dude, so sick that you started your blog up again.
Me: You like it?
Him: It's hilarious.
Me: Awesome.
Him: Yeah, pretty boss.
Me: (pause) Boss-some?
Him: 100%

You see, the urban dictionary defines "boss" as: Cool. Awesome. Someone who runs sh@! in his/her hood or city.
And the regular ol' dictionary defines "awesome" as: Slang. Very impressive.
So the Awhit dictionary marries the two at moments when both of those definitions are incredibly and powerfully true.

Boss + Awesome = Bossome

(Note: don't let your computer or phone auto-correct the spelling. Bossome, not to be confused with Bosom. While a bosom could possibly be described as bossome, the reverse cannot be true.)

Comment below. Your thoughts on this new word? Any recent moments that could wholeheartedly be called bossome?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Tweeps: An Interview with Becky Bennett

Okay folks. This week I chose Twitter Follower Becky Bennett for the blog cause a) she loves to read and b) she's sort of like my manager... and assistant. She's given me some killer ideas about the blog and it wouldn't be this rockin' without her. She's boss. She's awesome. She's bossome (more on that tomorrow). I give you, the one and only, Becky Bennett.

Me:  What's your favorite book? I'm talking all time, here.

BB: I know it's a cheesy or cliche answer, but my favorite book is Catcher in the Rye. Maybe it was just me, but if I was forced to read a book in school, it was almost always an automatic dislike. Some sort of rebellious "damn the man" mentality. "They think this book will enrich me? I'll show them! I'll hate it!" Well, along came Salinger. And I actually found myself enjoying this book. Looking forward to the next week's assignment and discussion. Perhaps (gasp!) even reading ahead??!?!?!?! Is that possible? Something about Holden Caufield grabbed hold of me and hasn't let go. I think especially living in the city now and sort of having my own story has really made me fall in love all over again. 

I've gone as far as to save a website on my favorites that contains a ton of Holden Caufield quotes. Went back to that today to try and sound inspired in my interview. Know what I found? “Chapter 3: What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” Now you know (as my friend and also an author) that I agree with this statement 100% as it's actually become true in my life. Holden and I have the same sentiments about stuff and that's pretty cool.

Seriously think I'm going to read this again this week. Thanks for reminding me.
(As a sidenote, I am currently going back and re-reading some of these classics that we were force-fed in high school and discovering that they weren't so terrible after all.)

Me:  I'm visiting your hometown today, one day only. What can't I miss?

BB:  OK, I'm going to ask you to come to Freehold on a Sunday. We'll have breakfast at Perkins on Rt. 9. Now there is nothing special about this particular Perkins... except that I worked here for 9 years! The owners are great and were really good to me through high school and college, so we'll go there. Then we'll go to my hometown church, First Baptist on the corner of Manalapan Ave. and Main. We'll have lunch at Sorrento's Subs - the greatest sandwiches you'll have in your entire life. Entire. Life. We'll hang out in Freehold for the day, see some peeps, little tour, then end up back on Main Street. We'll enjoy some Federici's Pizza while we sit outside in the cafe-like setting that downtown Freehold becomes in the Spring/Summer. Fed's is a family owned place that's been in Freehold forever if you ask me and has a super-thin crusted pizza. It's even our favorite son, Bruce Springsteen's, top choice if he's in town. After dinner we'll head over to Jersey Freeze for dessert. Soft serve ice cream at it's best. I'm sure the line will be out the door, but we won't mind waiting because we'll run into at least 5 people we know and get some time to catch up with old friends. Maybe you could even come for Memorial Day weekend and stay over for Monday morning's Memorial Day parade, reminding you that small town America is amazing and absolutely alive in Freehold, NJ. (I just re-read this answer and realized that you said that YOU were going to my hometown for a day...but I've invited myself to join you. Welcome!)

Me:  Who are you following on Twitter right now that would surprise your friends?     #GuiltyPleasures

BB:  No brainer - MC Hammer. I'm still not quite sure why I'm following him, but I can tell you that he had a fabulous birthday last week! He retweets some really fabulous stuff. Sometimes it's an inspiring quote, sometimes a shoutout to an appearance on TV, sometimes a recommendation of a movie or TV show or song, but the Hammer is really active on Twitter and has been entertaining me on a daily basis for weeks now. And there has been more than one occasion where the mere sight of his name has brought me back to high school and the jams of my youth.   #ucanttouchthis  #pleasehammerdonthurtem #toolegittoquit

Dude, I can't believe I called you boss in my intro and then you mentioned The Boss in one of your answers. Is everyone from Freehold bossome? Thanks for the peek inside Bennett-ville. I've never read Catcher in the Rye (gasp, shock, I know) but will get right on it. It's always been one of those books that I say, "Oh, I've been meaning to read that" when it comes up in conversation. I can't wait for a Freehold extravaganza, and I'm totes adding MC Hammer to my Twitter account in your honor. Everybody follow Becky Bennett on Twitter @producerbecky (and follow me, too while you're at it). Happy Tuesday, tweeple!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Momma Mondays - Sick Baby Boy

I am so blessed with a child that rarely cries. He has been known to fuss. He will also occasionally complain. But the few times that I've heard him really cry have always been due to pain. That's why I was so alarmed last night when he screamed out around 6pm and why I continued to worry all through the night.

Just got back from the doctor and Knox has a cold. A sore throat and a cold. I figured as much, but am so unaccustomed to him crying so hard and for so long that I thought I should go and ask the guy with his M.D. to be certain. We can't stop his nose from running like a faucet. We can't make it easier for him to breathe so that he can sleep longer than one hour at a time. We can't force him to eat, which he won't do because he's cranky and because his throat hurts. Doc says there is nothing I can do for him, which is the worst part of the whole thing.

He's almost 9 months old. He's been a healthy little guy and really, is still pretty healthy. The cold will run its course as these things do and I will just have to keep rocking him and singing to him and shushing him and loving him until it does. I wish I could Green Mile that cold right out of his little body. I wish I could kiss it away and love it away. I wish I could do anything to make him feel better.

But what I can do is count our blessings. It's just a cold. Thank the Lord.

And as for the Momma part of this whole thing: this job is 24/7, y'all. I'm tellin' ya. So stop what you're doing and call your own momma. Say "thank you." Cause for all the long nights and runny noses and crying spells and feelings of helplessness, it's a nice thing to hear.

Catch up post : Fan Club Friday - Sassy

As many of you know, my husband's dog, Sassy, passed away last Thursday night. She was 15 years old and could no longer hear. She was the boss of his two dogs and jealous of anyone that came near her owner. She was a mutt, a beautiful white mutt, and a rescue puppy that he nursed back to health 15 years ago. This isn't a forum for describing the way it feels to watch a grown man's heart break right in front of you; but it is a place to give kudos to someone or something of which I am a fan.

So to Sassy, here we go:

- Jerrod couldn't wait to get home to see his dogs. Oftentimes, he would get out of the car and run down to the lake with them before even going inside to greet his parents. Sammy is an easygoing and overweight golden retriever, but Sassy was always an athletic and energetic dog with a whole lot of spunk. One thing that always tickled me about Sassy was her personality. We would throw a stick out into the lake and Sammy, the water dog, would go in after it. She was old, heavy, and had arthritis, but she would ease herself down into the deep water and swim out after that stick. I loved watching her big old butt float side to side as she swam. But here's the thing: by the time she got the stick and then swam all the way back, Sassy would jump in when she was about two feet from shore and steal the stick from her mouth! Then she would turn around and hop out of the water to place the stick at Jerrod's feet. He would praise Sassy, scratch her and kiss her face, giving her more love than she deserved as Sammy struggled to climb up the muddy bank, panting so hard I thought she would keel over.

- When our newborn son, Knox, was given his first stuffed animal, it was a blue little doggy attached to a pacifier. Before I knew it, Jerrod was calling this toy "Sassy" and now, although I fought for originality, the entire family calls it his "Sassy Paci."

- There is a picture on the front of our refrigerator of Jerrod's brother Paul and Sassy. My first question was, "Why is there a picture of Paul on the fridge?" (because we don't even have one of our son up yet). And my follow up question was, "If a picture of Paul needed to make the front of our fridge, why would Jerrod choose one of him cheesing with his eyes closed?" Jerrod's response was, "Cause it's an awesome picture of Sassy."

- And my favorite: Sassy was very territorial of Jerrod. She was a jealous little dog. Jerrod and I loved to taunt her by hugging and/or kissing in front of her. She would lift that little white head up and howl and bark with all she had, all the while worming her way in between our legs, an envious little wedge.

To Jerrod and his family, I say I'm so sorry for the loss of your dog, a Pace family member. To Sammy, I say I'm sorry for the loss of your best friend and constant companion. And to Sassy, I say that although we only saw each other once in a while and although I am quite allergic, I loved the smile you always put on my husband's face - and for that, I am truly a fan.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Throwback Thursday - Rock Steady

Okay, so many of my New Jersey friends are hard core rock n roll lovers. They boast of their "Boss" and "Jovi" with ferocious pride, and rightly so. But when you grow up in a house with Glen and Vicki Whitaker minus cable television, you end up loving a different kind of rock. The soft kind.

Besides basically filling my head with ballads and love songs, besides training me to think of Journey, Elton John, and Hall & Oates as "rock," I also grew up in a very small town in the days before internet or Twitter. I caught on to trends after the kids at my school, (and I realize that by the time they'd reached Cynthiana, KY, they were already out in fashion meccas); but don't think that just because I was constantly behind the fads of my day, I didn't embrace them whole heartedly once they reached me. I'm nothing if not fervent.

This leads me to one of my all time favorite JAMS. I remember loving, loving, loving this song. I tried to hold the tape recorder up to the radio to get it on cassette so I could listen to it whenever I wanted, but it never seemed to come on when I was ready. It was this rare gem of a song. I'd hear it in the car and tell my mom to pump it up. I'd hear it at my Mamaw's and use a pencil as a microphone. I remember being at a friend's house watching The Mickey Mouse Club with her and staring in awe at these kids' sweet moves!

I wanted to Rock Steady.

Here's the thing: It wasn't until typing up this post that I discovered something pitiful. (Yes, more pathetic even than considering The Whispers' Rock Steady a jam.) Here we go...

It was Valentine's Day my freshman year of high school and an older boy liked me. Swoonfest! As usual, I went to my grandparents' house after school and did my homework, while sneaking MTV in the back room, and doodling hearts with our initials all over my notebook. Then, MAJOR SURPRISE, this boy brought me a dozen red roses! Unfortunately, I had changed from my school clothes into my papaw's teal oversized "World's Greatest Grandpa" t-shirt and had loosened my previously tight-rolled jeans. Clearly, I was mortified. But there I stood on the front porch in front of this ultra-cute boy, receiving my first flowers and hoping for my first kiss. The romantic vibe was short-lived cause my papaw had his face smooshed up against the glass pane in the front door watching our every move, so it didn't quite pan out. But still, I had flowers and a probable boyfriend.

When I rushed back inside, face flushed and heart racing, The Whispers' Rock Steady came on the radio. I fled to the back bedroom and danced like a woman drunk on love, sang along with this glorious "rock" group at the top of my lungs, and dreamed of my most certain future with this boy who'd brought me roses.

Now, didn't I mention there was a pathetic part?

Upon writing this post, I couldn't remember who'd sung this particular jam. So I looked up Rock Steady on the internet and discovered it was The Whispers. The memory I wanted to share was loving their jam and providing you with a sense of pop culture at the time; however, my little story about the soundtrack of one particular young romantic interlude occurred circa 1993, whereas Wikipedia just informed me that the song actually hit the Top 40 charts in 1987.

Alecia Whitaker - ignorantly embracing throwbacks since 1993.

Comment below! What's your favorite throwback jam? What should I write about next Thursday? And be honest: should side ponytails and tight rolled jeans make a comeback?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Word Up Wednesday - The Freel

This is a term that I've been using for at least 7 years. The "freel" is something that happens to all of us, whether we are the giver or receiver. It's a free feel. An awkward or inappropriate touch that bears no consequence due to its innocent (and oftentimes ignorant) nature. A brush of the hand across the body's, ummm... shall we say... private zones.

Here are a few examples:

- My husband and I went to a wedding in Colorado one summer. He didn't know many of my girlfriends there, so he tended to stay around the outside of the circle that we sorority girls are so prone to make when reunited. He lingered near enough to me that he was present, but wasn't one to dive right into girl talk and chum it up with the ladies. So I was engaged in catching up with the gals, when my friend April's eyes bugged out. She grabbed my wrist and whispered fiercely, "Alecia! I think he thinks I'm you!" I didn't know exactly what she was talking about, but then I looked over her shoulder and saw the reason for her alarm. Jerrod, eyes glued to his smartphone, had floated a bit beyond where I was standing and while one hand was holding the phone, the other was squeezing the wrong gal's butt. I got his attention, saved her from his clutches, he blushed and apologized, but we all had a great laugh about it - the whole gang thought it was a riot! You see, my husband grabbed another woman's tush and wasn't punished for it. A freel for the history books.

- Since having a baby, everybody that wants to hold the little guy is sure to get a freel across my chest as I pass him off. They either come in too far out of fear that they may drop the babe, or come in too fast because they can't wait to get their paws on him. Either way, between the breastfeeding and the baby grabbers, my chest is hardly private enough to be considered a private zone anymore, but these touches are freels nonetheless.

- At a basketball game last year, we ran into a woman I used to work with. I was so happy to see her and her family! We hugged, caught up on life, and then I got my camera out and started snapping photos. The whole encounter took about 10 minutes and I was so happy to have run into her. But as we settled back into our seats, Jerrod said to me, "She just got a freel." I laughed him off but he said, "I'm serious! Give me the camera." I had been right there, this woman would never do that, and I had seen nothing inappropriate; but a determined Jerrod clicked through the pictures until he stopped at one of her hand clearly groping his pectoral region. "See? A freel," he said. And although I had never judged that area of a guy to be a private zone (maybe it's society, maybe too many pics of topless dudes on magazine covers and birthday cards has desensitized me), I had to admit that she had, indeed, gotten a mighty freel.

So do tell. Comment below. Have you been the giver or receiver of any noteworthy freels? And how did it feel?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Tweeps - An interview with Mike Brown

Mike Brown has been a friend of mine for a few years. He's a big reader and lover of the arts. A genuine guy and one of my earliest Twitter followers. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the one and only, Party In A Can, Mike Brown.

Me:  What's your favorite book? I'm talking all time, here.

MB: The Brothers Karamazov. It has everything! It is simultaneously a courtroom drama, a murder mystery, romance, and philosophical treatise. It's one of the most profound explorations of the nature of humanity's relationship to God anywhere in literature. There's a lot in there about the intensity of relationships between fathers, sons, and brothers. The characters are so completely developed that Dostoevsky convinces you that you're developing your own relationship with them. Truly something for every one in that one. 

Me:  I'm visiting your hometown today, one day only. What can't I miss?

MBCumberland Falls of course! Located in a wide arc in the Cumberland River, she's the "Niagara of the South" and about ten miles from the house where I grew up in Corbin, KY. Depending on the rainfall, she can slow to a trickle, or become this massive cataract you have to shout to be heard over from two-hundred feet away. It's just a really pretty spot. The road leading down to the park from town is this long, slow, meandering affair. Drop offs on either side of the road make it seem as if you're traveling level with the tops of the trees. When Xander, my girlfriend's son, wants to take a picnic down there, he'll say, "Let's go to the tree tops!"

Me:  Who are you following on Twitter right now that would surprise your friends?     #GuiltyPleasures

MBKe$ha. She of the dance/pop hits "Tik Tok," "We R who we R," and "Take it Off." Have you seen her videos? She seems to live the kind of rockstar life that guys like Keith Richards use to live and I find it really fascinating that someone can just give themselves over so completely to that; the seedier side of musical fame we all imagine. But most of my friends will never buy that. They'll just assume I'm singing her stuff in the shower or in the car on my way to class or something. 

There you have it, folks. A glimpse into the life of Mike Brown. You can follow him on Twitter @MikhailSolonsky (oh! and follow me, too if you don't already). I'll definitely check out The Brothers Karamazov, add the Cumberland Falls to my bucket list, and start following Ke$ha for at least this week in tribute to you. Thanks for being the guinea pig on the Tuesdays blog posts!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Momma Mondays - Stranger Danger!

For the past 8.5 months, I've become a magnet for strangers. Once they see my baby, they are drawn to me. Sometimes it looks as if they try to fight it, but the infant magnetism is so great that they cannot. It is a force beyond their control. They must see his face, must work for a smile, must try to grab tiny fingers or toes, must take just a quick peek, must speak to him in high pitched tones, and must - MUST - give me advice.

I'm not a know-it-all. I will go on record as saying that there is much I do not know. For this reason, I make lists of questions for my pediatrician. Yes questions, for my child's DOCTOR. However, I've found that many a random person on the subway or the street are so brilliant and so well educated in children's health that they cannot keep themselves from imparting their wisdom on me. I am nothing but the child's mother, a person who must seem to the outside world as completely incapable of providing adequate care to this sweet baby whom they have encountered.

Were it not for the interference of strangers, would Knox:

- be comfortable?
Knox is 6 weeks old and cuddled up against my chest in the baby carrier. His face rests against me so that he can smell the milk he is now hungry for. It's been two hours since he last ate. This must be torture for him, and as he starts to fuss, then cry, I know that it is indeed. But we are only two stops away from our neighborhood. I rock, I shush, I stroke his small head, I give him a pacifier and hope for the best. I stand up and pace the aisle. We are almost home, I keep whispering.
"It's his leg," a woman says to me, grabbing my elbow and then pointing at him. "His leg is hurting him," she says again, gruffly, as if I should be sent to child services. With a disapproving glare, she exits the train and I stare, mouth agape.
I look down at my child's leg, these sweet little legs that have been curled up in my womb for the last ten months, and are now tucked neatly against my belly. They are flexible and small; positioned in the exact same way they always are. But because my baby is crying and this type of stretch seems impossible to adults, a complete stranger has the gumption to solve what must have seemed to be the obvious problem.

-be developing?
Knox is a laid back guy. He didn't roll over consistently til about a month ago, around the same time he started sitting up well on his own. He doesn't crawl, nor try to. Does not pull up, attempt walking, wave, clap, or eat finger foods. He takes things at his own pace and cannot be rushed.
"Oh, he's 8 months old and not crawling?"
"He doesn't like Cheerios?"
"You should be feeding him meat, anything from your plate."
"She started walking at his age."
"Really? Nothing? But he's so big!"
These comments are not innocent. They are loaded. They are followed by suggestions for my husband and me to try with the baby at home. Obviously, we are not spending enough time with our child, not coaching him enough, not holding him up, not feeding him enough solid food, not making it happen. Our thoughts are that he has his whole life to sit, crawl, eat, walk, etc. What's the rush? 
I just smile and say, "Oh, but look how well he drools!" 
Yep. They want to take my baby away.

-be alive?
Knox is 6 months old and we are navigating post-blizzard streets to go to Manhattan. The wind is fierce, so I have put the clear plastic rain/wind guard over his stroller. This thing keeps him so warm that he doesn't even need a coat. He can see where he's going, can smile at his many admirers, and dodge any harsh elements or dangers. I call it the Pope mobile.
While Knox and I are on the train, I usually pull the plastic cover up a little to give him some fresh air. Now this cover has loads of holes in it and also doesn't velcro all around, so it's totally safe and breathable; but I always lift it a tad on the train anyway so I can reach him easily if he loses a paci or something. 
As we near our stop, an older woman approaches with her finger pointed at me. "You take that thing off and get him out of the stroller as soon as you get home!" she demands. Again, I am so amazed that she thought I would need this advice that I can only stare (and almost miss our stop). Were it not for her, Knox might still be in his stroller right at this moment, two and a half months later.

Advice is great - when asked for. I honestly think that most people mean well. My theory is that they are so unconsciously drawn to the child that once they are near to him, they realize that they are in also near to me. Problem is, they came toward the baby without preparing something to say to the momma, which leads to awkward and sometimes harsher-than-meant comments.

What's your opinion? Have any crazy stories about stranger danger?

Friday, April 08, 2011


I just finished the best book. It's a YA called SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR by Matthew Quick (a fellow Little, Brown dude) and I just have to encourage you all to pick up a copy. His story follows Amber Appleton, a secretly homeless girl who lives on a school bus with her little dog and alcoholic mom. She refuses to focus on her downer life situation, and instead keeps her eyes on where she wants to be one day. And her favorite hobby seems to be lifting the spirits of everyone around her -- the more eccentric, the better.

The thing I most love about Amber is her voice. Amber is funny, quick-witted, and super frank. I've found myself talking like her this week while reading the book. She's charming and her little Amber-isms are so catchy! She's down with J.C. (yep, that's the Savior, if you're wondering), she's spunky enough to stand up to the jerks on the football team (word), and she writes killer haikus, (sucka!).

My heart broke for her, (homeless and freezing on a school bus), yet I also found myself smiling so often as I tagged along on her day-to-day. Then, when a fatal tragedy finally kinks her armor of optimism, I was worried we wouldn't get the real Amber back. (and PS, I had a nightmare last night about a scene toward the end - spoiler alert - confronting a killer)

Matthew Quick really stunned me because I expected the protagonist to be a boy - sorry, I know that's generalizing. I just haven't come across many men who can identify closely with the female teen perspective; but since it's not really a coming-of-age piece and more of an inspirational surviving-wicked-circumstances book, maybe that helped. Or maybe he's just super keyed in. Either way, it worked. I think only he could have written her unique 'tude into existence... sorta like a rock star.

So yeah, I'm a fan. You should be, too.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Throwback Thursday - On a Roll

You know that feeling of sheer joy you get when you put on your winter coat for the first time and discover money in the pockets? Seriously, it's awesome. Well, I feel that way when I get caught up on some sort of pop culture movement. For the purposes of today, I'm talking about the Rick Roll.

On April Fool's Day this year, my husband and a bunch of his friends were Rick Rolled when they clicked on a link about Kentucky basketball on (I had never heard of the Rick Roll, but apparently it's been around since 2007!) The article was preparing UK fans for the Final Four game and the link they clicked read something like this: If you are a Kentucky fan, this is not what you want to hear before the game against UConn. Then, instead of the link taking them to player stats or something like that, it took them to a YouTube video of Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up.

I think it's hilarious. Setting someone up to see something they're really interested in and then slamming them instead with an 80's video, complete with a skinny white guy snapping and side stepping in denim from head to toe, is amazing. So I tried to Rick Roll my brother that same day.

But here's the thing: my brother loves the 80's. He reminisces fondly on his Michael Jackson mesh tank top and sweet rat tail. He can name the title and artist of almost every 80's song within just the first few notes, be it Bon Jovi or Bananarama. And he worked Hammer pants throughout the entire late 80's, probably still dreams about them at night, to tell you the truth.

So how do you Rick Roll a guy like that? He left me a voicemail yesterday saying, "I don't get it. Never Gonna Give You Up is an awesome song. How is that a prank?"

Sound off folks. Good prank or bad? Is the prank in the fact that you are simply gearing someone up to see something else, or does the person also have to hate the switcheroo? And more importantly, how sweet is Rick Astley's hair in this video? And those shades? The crazy dance moves? Seriously.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Word Up Wednesday: The Flext

It's come to my attention that I tend to make up words and I should share them with the world wide web. Sometimes, you just need to say something and Webster leaves you hangin'.

This happened recently when a friend of mine told me that our mutual friend had been blatantly flirting with her via text message. Now, you know how things are these days: only x amount of characters allowed per text or Tweet or complimentary gift note on an online purchase. So things are getting condensed.

Oh my God has become OMG. Praise the Lord is PTL. Laugh out loud is LOL, (and that one in particular is greatly overused, IMO).

So as my friend and I wrote back and forth about this texting of a highly flirtatious nature, I began to refer to it as flexting. I'm not sure why this term doesn't already exist, to tell you the truth. I guess it's the G-rated little brother to the sext, which is a text of sexual nature - oftentimes including a pic.

But isn't the flext more fun? By nature not being overtly sexual or overstepping, don't you need to be more clever when formulating a juicy flext?

And the flext is a great tool for singles, not getting anybody in trouble if things don't pan out. If you can make somebody blush via cellular reading, then you are one suave Cupid.

What say you? Would you rather hear a news story about an inappropriate flext, or more about role models like Favre and Woods texting pics of their manhood to women they aren't married to? Feel free to post a few meaty flexts you've sent or received in the comment section.

Flext someone today!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Momma Knows Best

My most recent Ah-ha moment happened Sunday afternoon. The University of Kentucky Wildcats were playing in Newark, NJ in the Elite 8 game of the NCAA Tournament. My husband and I, both graduates of UK and quite separated from our team because we now live in New York City, were very excited for the opportunity to watch the Cats play. Newark is just two stops away from the heart of Manhattan via train and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
The thing is, we have a baby now. Jerrod hasn’t “felt comfortable” leaving our son, Knox, with anyone yet. I’ve suggested date nights, movies, Broadway shows, etc, but he just couldn’t bring himself to leave the baby because he really misses him at work and treasures spending his free moments with his family. That’s sweet, but this stay-at-home momma needs a night out every now and then.
If only I’d known sooner that I was dangling the wrong carrots! Absence makes the heart grow fonder and ever since we moved to New York, Jerrod’s passion for college basketball (UK in particular) has increased 100 fold. He watches every game on TV or live streaming on the computer, then records and posts videos of the games on YouTube, and follows the players on Twitter. He’s a fanatic and over the weekend, had his chance to see them play live.
“Let’s get a sitter,” he said when our team advanced in the tournament.
Shocked, I replied, “Deal!”
I’ve never been the hesitant one to leave the baby with a sitter because I feel like that every time I take a girls’ night or a mommy moment. Leaving the baby with my husband already feels that way. Maybe because he feeds Knox on his lap instead of in his high chair, or maybe because he never records nap or feeding times and relies on me to tell him, or maybe because he would rather throw Knox’s onesies away than rinse them out when a dirty diaper knows no bounds; but since Day 1, I’ve adopted the mantra, “Daddy’s way is different, not wrong.” I repeat it often… quite often.
Because otherwise, I would kill him.
So one of our dearest friends offered to watch Knox Sunday night. She hadn’t babysat in at least 10 years; thus, she had a small amount of anxiety. That afternoon, to help ease her of any nerves, I typed up all of the important information that I could: naptimes, bottle amounts, bedtime routine, etc. But as soon as she walked in the front door, my husband nearly assaulted her. Keyed up about the game, and his own anxiety about leaving the baby, I watched him drag her all over our one-bedroom apartment.
“Now, when I watch the baby,” he said, “I like to warm a bottle in the sink and then have another one ready just in case.” Or “When I watch the baby, I like to take a walk around the building if he gets fussy.”
I finished getting ready as this went on.
“When I watch the baby, we take a bath before bed. He likes his hair spiked up, and I did oil yesterday so use lotion tonight, and these are the easiest pj’s to put him in, and I like to use this piece of cardboard as a fan to let him get a little air down there before slapping on the diaper, you know what I mean?”
I smirked. The look on her face was priceless.
“When I watch the baby,” he continued, overwhelming our poor friend, “I bounce this blue ball and build a block tower for him to knock over. That’s key when you need a go-to mood lifter.”
I felt like popping popcorn as I watched this scene unfold.
“When I watch the baby,” he pulled her close and whispered, oblivious to the fact that I could still hear them through the baby video monitor. “I sometimes skip that third nap. Alecia says he needs it, but I think he’s growing out of it. Just watch for the sleepy signs, but if he’s happy and having a good time, don’t sweat it.”
I saw them both smiling as they stood over Knox’s crib. Was that a fist pound?
Knox needs a third nap. I’m telling you. I know this kid. Otherwise it’s all toothy smiles and giggles one minute, but total meltdown the next before you can blink an eye. I wanted to interrupt, but they were so chummy and I was pretty amazed that Jerrod was taking charge, and although I really wanted to encourage that third nap, I didn’t want to step on my husband’s toes.
“Daddy’s way is different, not wrong,” I said to myself. After all, he is Knox’s dad – he wants what’s best for his son – and my way is not always the right way. I was feeling very mature.
So I let him finish, gave our friend some emergency contact numbers, and off we went to watch the Cats make it to the Final Four.
We came home on top of the world, but our friend was completely pooped, sprawled out on the couch.
“Are you guys hungry?” she asked first thing. “Because I don’t know how you all do it. I’m exhausted. We played, we laughed, we danced. I didn’t even have time to eat!”
“Why didn’t you order something during his third nap?” I asked, taking off my coat.
“I couldn’t get him down for the last nap!” she cried. “He wanted to play! And then, he just lost it. Lost it. Totally went berserk. Crying and rubbing his eyes and, oh man, he was just so overtired! He never cries! I’m the worst.”
I started to speak, when Jerrod cut me off, “I know, dude! That third nap is killer! Alecia has no trouble, but it’s hard for us outsiders!”
And that’s when it hit me:
Even my husband thinks of himself as a babysitter.
So yeah, we parent differently. My mantra is nice and peacekeeping and loving and a way to keep me sane when they’re making a mess. And listen, most of the time, Daddy’s way is okay. But because of Sunday night, because of my Ah-ha moment, I can now affirm and be boldly confident that when in doubt, Momma knows best.