The Cat Fell Asleep in my Shoe

kittyThe cat fell asleep in my shoe
And I don’t know what to do!
I really don’t want to shout,
But soon I have to go out.
If I wait here then maybe
She’ll have to go pee
Or get something to eat
And I can warm my  frozen feet.
Awww…she’s so innocent and cute!
How can I give her the boot?
I’ll just give her the shoe.
What else can I do?

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How to Prank (a story and a confession)

“They’ll never know it’s me.” (When you see it…)

Screams were coming from the living room. Loud and long.

Ali entered from the hallway. “Someone better have died in here,” she said sarcastically.

One of the three girls shrieking and jumping around the living room turned around, bouncing on her toes and flapping her arms, and looked her sister.

“Ali, do you know any good pranks?”

Ali, who would be returning for her second year of college in two weeks, tilted her head and arched an eyebrow.

“All the guys on the football team are having a sleepover in the school gym,” Mackenzie bubbled on in a stage whisper.

“And you want to prank them?”

The girls were flapping their heads now, too. Every part of their body was in motion, including their grinning mouths. The girls had multiple ties to the football team: Lacie’s brother and boyfriend were on the team; Haley’s boyfriend was running back; Ali and Mackenzie’s cousin, Aaron, was team captain. Besides, the girls were friends with several boys on the team.

Ali raised both eyebrows. “And you think you’re going to get away with it?”

The excitement in the room was uncontrollable, like a group of tweens at a One Direction concert.

“C’mon,” Ali coaxed Max, the family’s miniature Australian shepherd, who was whining and looking up at her with big, brown eyes. Despite his muscular frame and lifetime in a loving home, he was pretty skittish. He hated loud noises – his least favorite days were July 4th and December 31st/January 1st. Even rain made him anxious. The family usually had to shut him up somewhere when visitors came; he growled and barked when anyone who wasn’t in the immediate family came to the door and was infamous among UPS deliverers.

“Let’s go.” Ali scratched Max’s silky ears and walked to her room, the dog panting on her heels.

She shut the door and sat lay on her bed, reading an Agatha Christie novel until she heard her mother’s voice mingling with the girls’.

Ali couldn’t resist poking her head out.

Mackenzie stood with her back to her sister, happily chattering about her black outfit. “They’ll never know it’s me!” she crowed.

“Yeah,” Ali said drily, “Except for the name on the back of your hoodie.”

Mackenzie twisted her head around and smacked her back, as though she could slap off the big, yellow letters that spelled out “Renckens”.

Ali continued. “So, Mom, you’re cool with this?”

“Yes!” Mom laughed.

“We’re going to toilet paper their cars,” Haley confided animatedly.

“Oooh!” blurted Lacie. “We should wrap them in plastic!”

Twittering and giggling, they ran off to gather supplies.

Ali smirked and shook her head.

“You’re in college,” Mom pointed out. “You must have done something like this.”

Ali raised her eyebrows.

~*~*~*~

Ali was getting ready to turn in for the night when she heard the doorbell ring. The front door was always locked; everyone used the back door, which opened to the kitchen and was usually slightly ajar.

Curiosity and high-pitched commotion drove her out of her room.

Mackenzie was in the middle of telling an electrifying story to their parents.

“We were toilet-papering Ryan’s car when Coach Darien came out,” she was saying. “I just slammed down in Aaron’s truck bed.” She mimed throwing herself half down. “I mean, I have never slammed that hard.”

“And I couldn’t run,” Haley chimed in, pointing to her knee, which was secured in a brace.

“So we hid,” Mackenzie resumed. “And he went back in.”

“And then Aaron came out!” Lacie broke in.

“We didn’t think that he would come out!”

“Who just walks outside at 10:30 at night?”

“He saw Haley!”

Ali couldn’t tell which comment was coming from which person. Mouths were going faster than Michael Phelps on speed.

“And Mackenzie spilled glitter all over the back of my car!” Haley exclaimed.

“Why did you have glitter in your car?” Mom asked.

“You should have put that in Aaron’s truck bed,” Ali suggested.

The girls howled at the idea of purple glitter falling from the truck of the captain of the football team.

Ali went to bed.

~*~*~*~

Haley woke up at 10:00 the next morning. She, Mackenzie, and Lacie were sprawled out on the Renckens’ living room floor. A nearly empty bag of potato chips lay between them. Licked-clean bowls of ice cream rested on the coffee table.

Haley stretched and impulsively reached for her phone. One new text message. She opened it.

It was from Aaron. It consisted of a single sentence: “You should check your car.”

“Omigosh!” Haley blurted. She threw back her blanket. Mackenzie stirred and blinked. Lacie sat up.

“Look!” Haley threw the phone to Lacie and hobbled to the kitchen table, where she had left her keys. Soon, all three girls were rushing to Haley’s car.

The outside was clean.

Inside, it was covered with toilet paper. It was wrapped around the steering wheel, headrests, and rearview mirror. It streamed down from the visor and glove compartment. It was strewn over the floor. If the Battle of Gettysburg had been fought with bathroom supplies, the carnage would have resembled Haley’s car.

The girls angrily bounced back to the house. Mackenzie’s mom was in the kitchen. The story poured out, mixed with ideas for payback.

Ali walked out in a t-shirt and running shorts. The story was repeated.

“How did they do it?” Haley wailed.

“Easy,” Ali replied with a trace of disdain. “You never pull a prank at 10:30 at night. You do it at 7 or 8 in the morning when they’re sound asleep.”

“They must have just walked in and taken the keys while we were sleeping,” shuddered Lacie, eyes wide.

The girls walked away, vowing revenge.

Ali pulled out her phone and opened her text messages. She tapped on a conversion with Aaron.

Ali: Hey, does Haley have a small, blue car?
Aaron: Yes. Y?
Ali: She slept over. I passed her car on my way to work. It looks like she has a flat tire, but I don’t have her number. Can you ask her to check her car?
Aaron: Yup

Ali deleted the messages. 

Panting, Max looked at her. She stroked his long, dark fur thoughtfully. “Ya know, there’s a Sherlock Holmes story about a missing race horse. He solved it because when the thief came in, the guard dog didn’t bark or anything, so he figured out that it was an inside job.” 

Mom didn’t seem to be paying attention. “Maybe we should start locking the door,” she pondered.

 Ali wiped purple glitter off her leg. “I wouldn’t worry about it, Mom.” She stood up and began walking to the door. “I have to go to the bathroom.”

Mackenzie popped back into the kitchen. “By the way, we’re all out of toilet paper.”

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Stormy Stage

wpid-img_20150319_151013.jpgLet’s dance to the backdrop of rain,
Let’s sing to the beat of thunder,
Let’s laugh and watch with wonder,
While the world is torn asunder.

Let’s promise to always remember,
Things can be both beautiful and frightening,
On our stormy stage, we will be striking,
And bow under a spotlight of lightning.

What I Learned from Food Network

Every Sunday, my family gathers in front of the TV to watch The Next Food Network Star. It combines two of our favorite things: community television-watching and food. But there are actually some really solid life lessons to pull from the show:

1. Be yourself. Contestants tend to either get really nervous and freeze up or go overboard to appear funny and likeable. Just relax! There are a lot of different personalities on Food Network and they all offer something pleasing to viewers! Don’t try to be someone you’re not, because that will mess you up more than anything else. But also…
2. Be kind. The Villian may provide some entertainment, but he/she never wins the game.
3. Follow your passion. This kind of goes back to “be yourself.” Everyone has a story that forms their interests and tastes. When people follow that, they do best and give viewers what they really want: a relatable or fascinating story, not just an insipid list of instructions.
4. Listen to the people who have been around for a while. They usually know what they’re talking about. And even though they may seem sadistic harsh at times, they really just want to help you improve.
5. Learn to improvise. You don’t always get the ideal situation. Learn to roll with it.
6. Smile through challenges. No idea what you’re doing? Think that you just served the most awful thing to come out of a kitchen? Don’t let the haters judges know until they taste it. It might be better than you think!
7. Take risks. Best case scenario, you succeed and blow the judges away. Worst case, you fail, but they have to respect your creativity and guts. Just don’t be stupid with your risks.
8. Cook good food. This isn’t a metaphor. I just think that everyone should know how to cook.

Hair Today, Blonde Tomorrow

My hair evolution. Yes, I deliberately skipped over the awkward middle school years.

My hair evolution. Yes, I deliberately skipped over the awkward middle school years.

A revolution raged across the country. Like their forefathers had centuries earlier, the oppressed masses fought for equality. They didn’t fight with a guillotine, but with scissors. This war wasn’t poverty vs. luxury, but tradition vs. well, fashion.

I’ll get back to French history in a second. Right now, I am having a crisis: my hair.

When I was a tyke, my skin was tan, my eyes were blue, and my hair was almost white. Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my skin has gotten lighter, my eyes have gotten greener, and my hair has gotten darker.

Eventually, I’ll look like a green-eyed Snow White.

Living in Tennessee during the school year felt miserable. It was cold the entire spring semester. So, from the end of fall semester to the end of spring semester, I left my dorm as little as possible.

Since it didn’t see the sun, my hair became darker.

“It’s true,” my friend agreed. “You looked like Malibu Barbie when you first came here. Now your hair looks red.”

I’ve started thinking about bleaching it, which isn’t something I’ve ever had to consider about before. For no real reason, I highlighted my hair once before – in 8th grade – which proved to be a mistake, like most of the decisions I made during that era. It was a time of experimentation and awkwardness and the two often went hand-in-hand. The result was a yellow mop that made my face look bright pink.

Hair is a form of self-expression. That revolution I mentioned earlier was the genesis of the bobbed hairstyle. When women in France began bobbing their hair, they were disowned by their families, even run out of town. Did that stop them? Hecks, no. They sullenly pointed to the French savior, Joan of Arc, who made the bobbed cut a symbol of girl power and their efforts created a style sensastion; with the arrival of World War I, it became enormously popular.

But it’s not just that I prefer the lighter blonde look. My hair is lighter when I’m outside, when I’m at the beach or by the pool or just enjoying the outdoors. Basically, my hair is lightest when I’m happiest. When life isn’t coming crashing down on me. When I’m enjoying myself.

I suppose I should embrace my darker look. It represents change. It represents overcoming challenges. It represents the new era of my life.

But, like any borderline hippie, wannabe Barbie, I’m dousing it in lemon juice and spending every spare second basking in the sunshine.

Viva la revolution?

Or maybe just evolution.