Friday, April 29, 2011

The Love Story

For those of you part of the living world, you are probably aware that today marks a day full of anticipation, excitement, and for me, a little sorrow.  You see, today Prince William of Whales married Kate (Catherine) Middleton.  It was a glorious event full of class, a little humor, and a lot of love.  It was a bit of a sad day for me because I, Stephanie Ann Swinggle, used to profess to the world that I would one day marry the prince.  What can I say, from a young age I had big dreams.  I think he made the right choice.  Let's face it, I'm way to rough around the edges to be queen one day.  As one couple sets out to begin their lovely life together, I can't help but think back to the love stories I've had a chance to bear witness to in my life and how grateful I am to have them to ascribe to.

At this point you may be thinking, "Hey, girl! Are you going all sentimental?"  You bet I am, swinggles.  Sometimes we need to be sentimental to add balance to our lives.  Everyday can't be full of jokes about boobie tassels and penis pumps.  I mean, am I right or am I right?  

The most poignant love story to influence my life has to be that of my parents, Momma and Pappa Swinggle.  Theirs isn't one of jewels, fanfare or fame, but one of simplicity, love and dare I say even a little fate.

My parents met at work in their 20's.  It wasn't exactly one of those love-at-first-sight situations, but who cares, they ended up together.  They had an average courtship until my mom experienced a collapsed lung.  Due to the severity, she had to be hospitalized and was restricted from seeing visitors aside from family.  My dad, not one to follow rules, told the nurses he was my mom's brother.  He then walked into her hospital room not on a white horse, in dapper clothing, carrying beautiful roses; rather, he visited in jeans, a t-shirt, hiding McDonald's french fries under his hat to relieve my mom of the terrible diet provided by the hospital cafeteria.  Now is that romantic or what?  When he left my mom told one of the nurses, "You know, he wasn't really my brother."  The nurse answered, "They never are dear."  I don't know if that was the moment my mom knew he was the one she would spend her life with, but for our purposes we'll say she did.

They dated a while longer and eventually married.  One day they happened to be talking about their rival high schools.  My dad said to my mom, "You know, I remember a time when our school played Smithville (my mom's high school) and I saw a hilarious scene from one of your cheerleaders.  I had just gotten done with my ROTC stuff before the game and came out into the hallway.  There was one really cute cheerleader from Smithville who was walking and tripped going up the stairs.  Her skirt flipped up and showed her [enter some word for hind end that probably wasn't as nice as hind end].  She struggled to get up and her friends kept laughing.  She was really cute and had a nice [hind end again]."  My mom just looked at him and said, "Steve, that was me."  So, needless to say, even if they hadn't married, fate tried bringing them together before.

Time passed, they had me and my siblings, and things went on as usual.  There were the usual ups and downs, job losses, trouble with us, excitement with us, the occasional fight, family dance nights, and time for laughing.  Then, my dad was diagnosed with the big C.  Yep, he got cancer.  There's no real way to make that funny unless you're playing Apples to Apples.  In that case, AIDS, CANCER, RAW SEWAGE and ELTON JOHN are always funny no matter what the matching word.

By the time we found it, things had progressed to an incurable point.  Slowly my dad weakened, growing sicker and sicker.  He finally grew so weak it was apparent he would not be with us much longer.  Day and night, I remember watching my mom sit in the recliner by his bedside (the very one that once served as his captain's chair) not wanting to pull away for even a second.  The day before he passed away (I found this out later, of course), my dad opened his eyes to my mom and said, "I'm going home."  With tears in her eyes, my mom answered, "I know."  He said, "Are you coming with me?"  "No," she said, "I can't go right now.  When it's my time will you come back and get me?"  He answered, "Of course."  He died the next day.

Theirs isn't the typical love story; yet it is theirs.  It is a magical blend of universal timing, simplicity and love that formed together to make something I consider really special.  It is because of them I believe in love.  It is because of them and what I saw between them that I hold out and hope to find someone who will sneak me fries when I need it or will sit in the recliner when I'm sick.  Sometimes it is nice to witness a royal love story like we had the opportunity to today.  Other times, it is important to take a step back and look at the real love stories that influence our lives.

To my mom and dad....thank you for inspiring me to believe in love.  I love you.        

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Facial hair, wrinkles, and gray hair...Oh, my!

There are certain events that occur in our lives marking the end of an era.  There is going to a movie or the mall by yourself for the first time, learning to drive, graduation from high school, perhaps another from college (if you are a glutton for punishment like me there may even be one for an advanced degree), the prom, the death of someone we love, meeting that special someone and maybe deciding to share a life together, buying a house, and a slew of other things.  Some of these events are happy, some sad, others thrilling, others scary.  Then there are those events that are...I don't know...what's the word I'm looking for...old feeling?

Before I regale you with all the gory details, I feel I should preface this with a little background info.  Now, I have never been one of those people who looks young for her age.  I have friends who can now pass as 18-year-olds in their late 20's, but I could pass as a late 20-year-old when I was 17.  There was a stint in high school where I looked like a mid-30 tax accountant following a terrible hair-cut that is in all my senior pictures.  All I'm saying, I've never been super young looking, but I also don't think that I look that much older than my actual age now.  I mean, I did get it together when I figured out that straightening my hair with a straightener was necessary as was regularly plucking my uni-brow.

Over the last few months, events took place foreshadowing what was to come.  I overheard a daughter telling her mom she was dating herself by referring to 'Pretty in Pink' in a discussion.  I referenced 'Dougie Howser' to someone and they stared blankly at me.  Finally, some adolescents I come in contact with asked me if computers used floppy disks back in my day.  Still, none of these things prepared me for what was to come.  So, last week, I was talking to a group of young girls about body image.  We were discussing how the media influences our concept of beauty and the pressure placed on people to attempt to live-up to unrealistic expectations.  As we are discussing this and looking at a slideshow (thanks Dr. Neurotic), we got to a picture of an older woman.  One girl goes, "Ugghh, how is being old pretty?"  So, we talk about age and beauty and I say something to the effect, "We live in a culture that glorifies youth.  I say, embrace our wrinkles it just means we are using our faces appropriately."  I was just high fiving myself in my head when one young girl says, "Yeah, you do have wrinkles.  I mean they are only on your neck, but yeah."

Balls.  Oh course I wanted to run screaming to the bathroom to investigate my neck and then make a Botox appointment.  I would never do that, because I don't believe in it, but still my head nearly exploded.  Chalking it up to just youthful challenging, I went to my waxer to get my eyebrows done.  I walk in and she immediately goes, "Oh, it's been a long time since you've been waxed hasn't it."  The truth was, I had just had it done 2 1/2 weeks ago.  It didn't stop there though, she looked at me and said, "Are we doing something about this mustache today too?"  AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!  Perhaps it was just clever marketing and sales on her part, but SERIOUSLY!  I had her slap some wax on my upper lip pronto.  The worst part though, she had to pluck some nose hair as well.  Punch me in the face.

My week was rounded out by finding my first gray hair yesterday.  Oh well, aging happens.  All I can do is wax, pluck, and embrace. : )    

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Finding water in the wake of a dry spell

Lately, I have been in a slump.  I came to my blog several times these last few weeks, attempted to write a few posts, but was never satisfied with anything that was coming out.  At first I just chucked it up to watching too many consecutive episodes of Criminal Minds.  Then I realized that was just crazy talk.  I mean how could I blame anything on a show with Shemar Moore (am I right or am I right).  Then I thought that my writer's block was the result of ingesting too many Pop Chips these last few weeks.  Not to go all commercially on you swingglers, but Pop Chips are these amazing new chips that aren't baked, aren't fried, they are popped!!  What the hell does this mean and/or have to do with this post?  Nothing much, but it does mean that you can eat like 22 of these delicious chips and it will only cost you 100 calories.  Win, win.  So obviously, this was not the problem. 

I racked my brain trying to figure out why blogging, something that usually comes so naturally to me (like coloring in between the lines, drinking beer really fast, or eating a pound of licorice in one sitting...ask any or my friends, I can really do these things well), was now starting to be a challenge (like the Double Dare kind).  Distressed, I thought I had lost my edge.  I usually always have self deprecating or other people deprecating things to say.  Had I, Stephanie Ann Swinggle grown vanilla?  Did I lose my sass?  Then I had an epiphany!!  No, I had not invented the world's first over the shoulder boulder holder....yeah I just really wanted to put that line in something because I love it (thanks for indulging me); rather, I was having a dry spell. 

What is a dry spell?  Well, swingglers.  A dry spell is best described as my entire adolescence and sporadic parts of my adult life.  More specifically, a dry spell is when one single person (ala me) does not have any other meetings, dates, interactions, talks, or messages with any other individual of the opposite sex for quite some time.  It hasn't been a full out dry spell, but it has been pretty barren.  Let's just say cobwebs may be starting to form in really weird places and where those places are, I will let you use your imagination.

I went on the no-name date a few weeks ago.  I thought it went really well.  He was really funny and awkward.  He could form sentences together and we had a three hour coffee date.  I thought we hit it off.  I mean, even the SS Minno couldn't withstand a 3 hour tour, but I was sure we were destined for greatness.  Well, he told me had back-to-back work trips, one involving European travel over the next few weeks.  We ended things with a hug and a "I'm not sure when I will be back verbalization."  I followed this up with a cleverly composed, "I had fun email."  I have since lost all ground control.  The rational part of me thinks 1) He just wasn't that into me.  2) He was into me, but really is on a trip.  3) Got hit by a car right after our date and is in the hospital unable to call, email, text, or form sentences any longer.  The crazy part of me thinks: 1) He really has a whole other family which is the reason he is having to take these long "trips" 2) He was an ex-boyfriend dressed up in a new man suit to torture me 3) He was a zombie or serial killer so who cares.  : )
With him gone, I really haven't had much going on.  I had one gentleman email me to ask about the "mysteriously amazing waterfall" in the background of one of my profile pictures and inquire where the location of it was because he had "never seen it before."  Yeah, it was a picture of me at Niagra Falls.  Then I have the assortment of 50-year-olds asking if I want to meet for an "encounter."  I am still facebook friends with one of my internet cuties that never amounted to anything.  I'm not sure what happened with that one.  One minute he is giving me his number and texting a lot.  We become facebook friends and then, BAM! POW! KAZAM!  We stop talking.  I still totally creep him, but that's cool.  He'll probably be in a relationship in a week.  Right now, it is just me and my cobwebs.  : )     

Friday, April 1, 2011

You know you're going to be a Spinster when...

My Grandpa Swinggle always use to recite the old saying, "Red sky at night, sailors delight.  Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning."  I used to believe this only referred to the weather.  As I sit here today, I wonder if it can be generalized to other areas of life.  This week has been a week of, what I am coming to believe, may be red skies for me in my life.  No, I don't think a storm is going to erupt in my living room, rather I believe I may be seeing red skies signifying the potential for difficult waters.  With this, of course, I mean I am receiving input that may validate the potential that I, Stephanie Ann Swinggle will end up a spinster.

In saying this, I recognize that spinster is a hot button term.  Some individuals would say it is a term used to perpetuate the stigmatization of single women within a male dominated society.  Single men of a certain age are often referred to as "bachelors" or "playboys" and have images such as the bed hopping 007 or Hugh Hefner (although he is totally getting married, albeit he totally picked the wrong one).  These images often convey the message that the life as an older single man is exciting and hip.  Women of a certain age who are single, however, are often referred to as "old maids" or "spinsters" and have images such as Miss Havisham ruining lives or the scary cat lady conveying the message that if you don't find someone soon you will die miserable and alone.

You may ask yourself, "Well, Stephanie, why the hell would you use this term to refer to yourself?"  Well, part of me is doing it because I'm sick and hopped up on cold medicine.  The other part is because I'm currently watching Being John Malkovich on Netflix.  Finally, the last part of me feels like the term best signifies my fear of not finding someone and I kind of think it is a funny image.  If I can make fun of it, then I won't be hurt, right?

By now you might be saying, "Jeez, when are you going to talk about these red skies and save the rest for your therapist (that's right, I love therapy!!)."  Well, here it goes, the top ten signs I am slowly becoming a spinster:

10. When I am getting ready to change into my pajamas at night, I now have a habit of leaving the pants I've been wearing that day in front of the toilet.  Yep, while I'm completing my nightly ritual I just swap pants right then and there.  So now I have a huge pile of pants in my bathroom.

9.  My grandma who used to be obsessed with asking me if I were dating someone and incessantly prayed I would find my soul mate in her lifetime has resorted to only inquiring about the health of my "little dog."

8.  Going to Costco is the highlight of my month.

7.  I was eying a carpet bag the other day and seriously considered buying it.

6.  My Netflix Best Picks list includes: Bones, Brothers and Sisters, an assortment of romantic comedies and Dogs Decoded.

5. I adhere to a strict 10:30 PM bedtime.  Even my dog is trained to know when it is bedtime.

4. I've already referenced my dog twice in this list.

3. When talking with friends and family about the developments in their lives, they talk of new pregnancies or interesting trips they are planning.  I tell them about the new balcony furniture I purchased at Target, my monthly purchases from Costco, and new developments with my dog (that's three).

2.  Jordan Seligman is engaged.  Jordan was a blond, curly headed stud muffin I tutored in college.  He was a semi-drug dealer, but that just added to his mystique.  I thought he was super deep and philosophical.  It may have actually just been all the pot he smoked, alas.  It's the end of an era.  My hemp shrouded icon found someone.  

1.  The character I most identify with in He's Just Not That Into You is Drew Barrymore.  The thought of that makes me want to kick a baby.  Granted, she finds someone in the end, but still.  I literally have become as obsessed with things as she has and that is just fueling that car to Spinster City.