Friday, December 28, 2007

The Return of Helen Skor

I have been absent for quite a while now, but I'm going to resume posting in the New Year. I've realized lately that I have been absolutely starving for a creative outlet. Work has had me totally bummed, and I'm ready to break out of the monotony of 10 hour days and high blood pressure and get back into life. Real life, not this vague pretense thereof.

So, with that being said, I am heading off on a weekend trip to celebrate the New Year, and I have vowed to do something different. You see, there is this guy that I'm interested in. (The first real crush I've had in years . . . but the word "crush" doesn't really do it justice.) And I've decided to stop letting life slip by . . . I going to make a move. And if he's not interested, I will be slightly heartbroken and probably a little down on myself, but I'll survive. I'm just tired of always playing it safe. Wish me luck.

Smelly the Beast Dog and I wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My Parents Are Getting Old

It has now really sunk in that my parents are getting older. Actually, we all are, but the reality that they won't be around forever really smacked me in the face recently.

My dad had what was first thought to be a mini-stroke about 2 weeks ago. When I spoke to my mom, she sort of brushed off the significance of this "event" by saying that he was fine. When I got a call from my aunt later that night, I started to panic. As it turns out, my dad wasn't really "fine." He had been acting a little weird, and my aunt wanted me to come home and make my own personal assessment of the situation. (And since my aunt was a nurse for 40 years, I thought I should heed her advice.)

So last weekend I went home. And my dad seemed okay, but not great. He slept a lot while I was there, and didn't have much to say. Of course, this isn't really all that unusual for him. There was definitely something off, but I can't really define it. When my 7 month old cousin, Aidan, fell over and hit his head right in front of my dad, my dad didn't seem to register what had happened even though Aidan was screaming his head off. Nothing. His facial expression didn't change, he didn't make a move to help, nothing. Even though he was the only one in the room at the time. That scares me. Now, my dad isn't exactly a huge fan of babies, in fact I think he is a bit frightened of them, but I just don't understand why there was no response.

To make matters worse, when he went back to the doctor, they told him there was no sign that he had actually had a stroke. So what the hell does that mean? What really happened to him? At first I thought that maybe he'd had a panic attack, but he insists that wasn't what it was. I guess we'll have to wait and see what the doctor says. For now, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and my cell phone close.

I also worry about my mom. Since my dad won't take care of himself, she tries to do it for him . . . doling out his medications, making sure he eats okay, trying to keep him active. But that puts a lot of stress on her. My mom turned 60 last December, and she looks damn good for her age, but I know that all of this has to be hard on her. After all, my parents, after 39 years of marriage, are best friends. When my dad travels with the Red Cross emergency relief team, he calls my mom about 10 times a day, and they talk in hushed tones like a couple of teenagers. Quite frankly, I don't know what either of them would do if something happened to the other.

For now, I am keeping my fingers crossed that what happened is just an anomaly, a fluke. But in the back of my mind, I know that it's not. And it scares the crap out of me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Helen Skor Lives . . .

Yes, I know I've been MIA, but I'm still alive. I would say alive and kicking, but alive and twitching is more like it.

Ah, the perils of being a financial analyst. It's budget season. That means long hours, major headaches, and a total lack of work-life balance. Smelly the Wonder Dog has forgotten what I look like, my bedroom looks like a bomb dropped, and their are Smelly hairballs drifting down the hall like tumbleweeds through a deserted town.

So tonight I am going to clean. Nope. Screw that. Tonight . . . I'm going to happy hour.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Her Holiness, Helen, Has Spoken . . .

The Vatican, apparently thinking that they have nothing better to do, has issued the “Drivers’ Ten Commandments.”

After reading them, I thought to myself, “Wow, Self, that must have been issued by the Vatican’s Department of Redundancy Department.” Being the self-important American that I am, I decided that I could do better than his Holiness and came up with my very own list:

  1. If someone is nice enough to use a turn signal, be nice enough to let them merge.
  2. If you are driving in the left lane and someone is gaining on you, move over and let them pass.
  3. If you realize that you are in the left turn lane and need to be going straight, don’t hold up a leading-green lane trying to move over. Go down the street and make a U-turn.
  4. If an emergency vehicle is coming up behind you, get the hell out of its way. They are trying to save lives.
  5. If you get pulled over by the cops, it’s probably because you were doing something illegal. Take your lumps like a grown-up and don’t give the cop a bunch of lip.
  6. If you are being tailgated, don’t slam on your brakes to scare the person. Just move over (if you can), because the jerk tailgating you is probably already having a crappy day, and pissing him off further isn’t going to help anything.
  7. If you see a person pulled over with a flat tire and no clue how to change it and no cell phone (don’t worry these people are easy to spot), offer to help. This is especially true if you see a woman with small children or a dog.
  8. If you hit someone’s car, leave a note that 1) apologizes for your carelessness and 2) gives the owner any information he needs to get in touch with you.
  9. If you are in a parking lot or garage, park BETWEEN the lines, not on them.
  10. If you can’t remember the first 9 rules, remember this: “DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU’D HAVE DONE UNTO YOUR MOTHER.” (This of course assumes that you like your mother. If you don’t, then substitute someone else’s name there, even if it’s your own.)

Now, please, if you live in the DC Metro area, please try to remember these simple rules. Learn them. Live them. Love them. Because if we were all just a little nicer in traffic, I'm convinced that the domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, and asshole rates in our area would all drop dramatically.

Drive safely.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Effing Budgets . . .

So, as some of my loyal readers (yes, both of you) have probably noticed, I've been a little absent from the blogging world lately. And I have my job to thank for that.

For the past three weeks, we have been gearing up for the beginning of the 2008 Fiscal Year, which starts on October 1st. Because I work in Finance, I have been working LONG hours trying to get everything done. The first iteration of our budget was due last Thursday, but then they extended that to Friday, which was then extended until today. Oh, and now it's been extended until tomorrow.

I don't mind working hard, and putting in long hours isn't something that normally would get to me, but the last few weeks have required me to do the following:

1. Cancel dinner with my friend Beaver.
2. Cancel dinner with my friend Beaver again.
3. Get in an argument with my new boss because we were both in horrible moods.
4. Cry at work three times in one day.
5. Cancel a trip to visit my dad (who I haven't seen since Christmas) for Father's Day.
6. Cancel dinner with Beaver for a third time.
7. Come into work on scheduled days off for the 6th and 7th times since March.
8. Be late getting home on Ship's birthday.
9. Not spend enough quality time with my dog.

There have been other things too, but they are mostly trivial compared to these things. Not that any of these is a major deal, but I'm starting to see a pattern develop of me effing over my friends and family because of work, and I don't like it.

Is it too early to retire?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Today is my parents' anniversary. Ma and Pa Skor have been married for a long, long time. A REALLY long time. I'm not exactly sure, but I think this is their 39th anniversary.

But I wanted to give them a shout out and tell them happy anniversary. I have the greatest parents in the world. Seriously. My mom is a few miracles shy of sainthood, and despite some rocky times in the past, my dad is the one man in this world that I will always trust.

These two managed to survive not only the ups and downs of every marriage, but a slew of other rough times and tragedies. There were the temperamental mood-swings of a teenage girl, the son who blew up the engine in the family van on a spring break road trip, the daughter who dropped out of college (but eventually went back), the break-up of one child's marriage, the death of all 4 parents plus a step-father, various health problems, the passing of two much-loved family dogs (and countless fish and hamsters), vacations with the extended family, and my dad's relentless snoring. They have even survived a 3-legged dog with a propensity for breaking into fits of howling in the middle of the night, and both children moving far away from home.

As I get older, I realize more and more how important it is to find that person who compliments you. (And not in the "your butt looks great in those jeans" kind of way.) I'm talking about the chocolate wafer to your cream filling. The point to your counter-point. The Eddie Haskell to your Wally Cleaver.

I have also realized by watching my parents that marriage isn't easy. It takes compromise, patience, communication, and respect. And it takes forgiveness. There is no such thing as a charmed life. We all have our ups and downs. But if we're lucky, we find someone to enjoy the ups with, and who makes the downs seem not so low.

So, to my parents, congratulations and thank you for never giving up on one another, or your children. I love you.

Why Oh Why Couldn't I Be Obscenely Wealthy . . .

Not rich, but wealthy. Wealth implies a certain level of class that is lacking with the rich. That's what I want. Old money. The kind that requires a certain level of respect and awe, even though it's not always deserved.

This desire has been fueled lately by a growing irritation with my job and the stress that it causes. Yes, everyone has stress, and most of us have a job (sometimes several). And I don't mind working. In fact, I kind of like it. But the last few weeks have been exceptionally bad for me. This is not the result of extended hours or other such annoyances. In fact, I've been working shorter days (less than 9 hours) recently than I have been in quite a while.

It's the frenzied nature of work that is wearing me down. I was knocked flat on my arse a few weeks ago with what I assume was the flu. I started feeling bad late on a Sunday night, and by Monday morning, I was a shivering, stuffy-headed mess. Despite the fact that everyone knew I was sick, my cell phone rang non-stop with work-related questions. I eventually turned it off.

For the next 10 days, I came in to work with a lingering cough and runny nose. And it wasn't until I took an extended, 4-day holiday weekend that I finally started feeling better. That's why I'm counting down the hours until I get to escape from this place, and head out for camping in the George Washington National Forest with some friends.

That's also why I want to be wealthy. I want to be able to take off whenever I want and go to exotic locations around the world (and here in our great country). I want to go to Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal. I want to visit Egypt, Russia, and Australia. I want to take a fly-fishing trip with Ship to Patagonia. I want to take Pita to Morocco. I want to go on a Safari with Jo. And I wish that I was with Yogi in Zambia right now. And I really want to go visit my brother in Aspen whenever I feel like it.

More importantly, I want to feel like my presence here on Earth counts for something. Something significant. I would want to do humanitarian work of some description. I don't know if I have the "intestinal fortitude" to work in Darfur, but there are a lot of needy people out there, even in our own country. I think I would have to work with kids. I would be the chubby Angelina Jolie . . . taking in underprivileged children. But I don't think I would want to adopt them all. That seems kind of selfish. Maybe I could take in foster children to provide them with a stable environment until they could be adopted by a good family. I would make it my personal goal to keep siblings together. That would be my contribution to the world. So thirty years from now, a brother and sister could be having Christmas dinner together with their spouses and children, and they would know that it was all possible because I cared enough to make it my mission.

Sorry. I'm rambling today.

Have a great weekend.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Thank you, Captain Obvious!

"Now THAT's a big girl."

With those words, my evening took a turn from pretty darned enjoyable to just plain shitty.

At first, I didn't really want to write about this, because it exposes me in a way that I'm really not comfortable with. But then I decided to share it as a lesson to all of those people out there who comment on the appearances of others while drinking in a "quiet voice" that the entire world can hear.

After we went for the screening of our movie from the 48-hour film festival, we all went to meet C-Reg and Ship at the Crystal City Restaurant for a little dinner and stripping. You see, C-Reg loves strippers. Don't get me wrong though . . . I've never met anyone straighter than C-Reg. She doesn't want to make out with other chicks or anything like that. I think it has to do with her ability to recognize the athleticism and dedication it takes to be able to be a good stripper. It's not just about being skinny with big boobs . . . it really does require a certain aptitude that most people lack.

Anyway, we were at CCR enjoying the sights, and, naturally, we were surrounded by mostly men. There were your typical strip-club regulars: the military guys, the dirty old men, the rednecks, the biker dudes, and the guys there for a pre-bachelor party (it was a Thursday after all!). The few women there looked like they were dancers themselves who were just hanging out off-duty or possibly paid escorts (for the bachelor and his friends).

Well, I had been holding the urge to pee for half the night for fear of missing something, and I finally couldn't hold it any longer. So I excused myself from the table and walked toward the back where the bathrooms are. To my right, just a short distance from the stage, was a table with three guys. They looked a little worse for the wear. The redneck types that you generally don't see in Northern Virginia . . . at least inside the Beltway. But here there were. And, if you've ever had the pleasure of knowing any rednecks (and I mean REAL rednecks), you know that if they THINK it they SAY it. The are missing that little internal dialog filter that most of us, as members of polite society, rely on to keep us from saying something offensive and cruel.

And then, BAM . . . there it was. "Now THAT's a big girl." It wasn't one of those, "WIDE LOAD COMING THROUGH" comments that are intended to cause emotional pain. It was just an observation. And that made it all the more horrific. Here was this guy with dirty, scraggly hair, bad teeth, and jailhouse tattoos looking down on me based solely on my appearance. Well, that's basically what I just did when I described him, but at least I had the decency not to point out his physical flaws directly to him as he had done to me. But I kept my chin up, went to the restroom, regained my composure, and fought with all my might the urge to go back out there and knock the rest of his yellowed teeth out of his mouth. And I succeeded. After all, I have class.

I went back to my table, sat down in stunned silence, and didn't tell anyone what had happened. And what had been a wonderful evening turned to shit in less than 30 seconds. I sat there for a while before someone finally figured out something was wrong . . . after all, it's not like me to sit in silence for long! And I just let it out. I told them every horrifying detail of what had happened. Even though I was there with some friends from work who I had never really spent a lot of time with outside of the office. Sharing that with them was as utterly degrading as the words themselves. In fact, I think it was worse.

About an hour later, I had to go to the bathroom again. So, as I got up to go, Ship stood. When I looked at him, he told me that he was going to follow me to the bathroom in case they said anything else. Now, Ship and I have been roommates for 7 months, and we've been friends for much longer than that. But I have never felt as close to him as I did at that moment. He wasn't just my friend anymore, he was my brother, the defender of my honor, and my hero.

As I was standing in the shower the next morning, tears pouring down my cheeks as I thought again about what had happened, my mind flashed to the memory of Ship's eyes the night before. They weren't full of rage. And more importantly, they weren't full of pity. They were full of the confidence and righteousness that people have when they are protecting someone they care about, whether that person is a lover, a friend, or a sister. Thanks, Ship. You gave me further proof that every cloud has a silver lining.

I've Been Neglectful . . .

The last few weeks have been rather chaotic for a series of reasons, but I just wanted to let you know I haven't completely abandoned you!

Just a quick re-cap of what's been going on:
  • First, and foremost, the 48-hour Film Festival was a blast! We successfully entered our movie on schedule and got to view it (and other short films from the competition) on Thursday night at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Springs, along with a group of other filmmakers. The good news is that everyone laughed when they were supposed to. And there really isn't any bad news . . . except for maybe my acting. Let's just suffice it to say that drama queen doesn't necessarily translate into screen queen! I plan to tell you more about the competition later, so stay tuned for details!
  • Ship, his brother, and one of their friends competed in an adventure race a few weeks ago and took third place. And yes, there were more than three teams (far more)! It was their first race of the season. Unfortunately, it rained cats and dogs and was pretty chilly, but that didn't seem to phase the "Squirrels Gone Wild!" Congrats, guys!
  • C-Reg competed in her first half-marathon last weekend and came in second. This is especially impressive given the fact that this was a TRAIL run, not a street race! Good job, C-Reg!
  • Jo, C-Reg, and Smelly the Wonder Dog all had birthdays this weekend. Needless to say, it was an entertaining weekend which started on Thursday! Jo is 26, C-Reg is 24, and Smelly turned 3 (or 21 in dog years). And no, Smelly didn't get any beer for the special occasion, but she did get a new dog bed.

Anyway, this is a brief recap of a few of the things that have been going on lately. I hope to be able to post more regularly in the coming weeks. I've been so swamped that I haven't even had time to keep up with my gossip!

Friday, May 04, 2007

The 48-Hour Film Project Is Here!

The madness begins tonight at 7 PM.

PL Catlady will be representing "A Likely Story Film Production" for the selection of our genre, prop, character name, and line of dialogue.

The rest of the team will be waiting at base camp in nervous anticipation, ready to bang out a cinematic masterpiece. And I don't think most of us will get to sleep a wink until Sunday when this whole thing is over!

Wish us luck!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Happy Hour, Indeed.

It's rare that I am able to enter a room and be surrounded by so many kindred spirits. I was a little apprehensive about the happy hour . . . I guess I was letting self-doubt (my biggest enemy) get the best of me. But I can't remember when the last time was that so many hours have flown by so quickly.

I know I am going to fail to mention quite a few folks, but I want to tell everyone how nice it was to meet them. Especially Carrie, Mandy, Arjewtino, INPY, Dagny Taggart, LMNtal, Freckled K, Bathroom Reading, and, of course, the "fat on the inside" Average Jane. It was much fun.

As Jo and I were wandering to the car in the pouring rain, I told her that it wasn't really a good night out unless you went home wet. And I was soaked. Thanks, kids . . . can't wait until the next one!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Things That Are Good In Theory

Squeeze-Top Mayonnaise – Yeah, it’s wonderful that you don’t have to get out a knife just to get the mayo out of the bottle. But then you still have to get out the knife to spread the mayo around evenly on your sandwich. So it’s kind of pointless. (Except you don’t get mayo all over your knuckles anymore trying to get to the last few globs in the bottom of the jar.)

Friends with Benefits – I could go on and on about this one, but I think we all know how it ends. One person falls in love with the other person and that love is not reciprocated because the other person just wanted to get laid and the one person was just convenient. Point being this: someone always gets hurt, and the friendship is irreparably damaged.

Cable Competition – Have you ever wondered why you don’t get to pick your cable company? You either have Comcast or Cox or Brand X, but your address makes the choice, not you. Competition would mean that they couldn’t charge you a bazillion dollars every month just to watch the 5 or 6 good shows on TV. Yeah, there’s satellite TV, but not if you live anywhere with trees or a strict homeowners’ association. Cable competition is great in theory because right now that’s all it is . . . a theory.

Top-Split Hot Dog Buns – Pepperidge Farms splits their hot dog buns on the top. This makes perfect sense. Why is it, however, that hot dogs just don’t taste the same when you eat them on one of these buns? It’s like you’re cheating. I think half of the thrill of eating a hot dog is having to worry about how many toppings you are going to drop on yourself before you’re done.

Diet Sodas – Wow! A refreshing carbonated beverage with no calories? Sign me up! The problem? They taste like crap. Another problem? A long-term scientific study (don’t ask me to cite it) found that those who drink diet sodas do not show any significant difference in weight loss/gain over their lifetime as compared to those who drink regular sodas. I can tell you why though . . . how many times have you gone through the drive thru behind a guy who ordered a Super-Sized Big Mac Meal with two apple pies and a diet soda? There’s your answer.

Gun Control – First let me say that I am not a card-carrying NRA member, but I did learn to shoot a gun at a very early age. And I’m not opposed to gun control, but I think our government has gone about it all wrong. The problem isn’t the people who go in to gun shops and buy guns legally. It’s the people who buy them off the street or through gun shows, and it’s the people who sell them. Gun control, as we currently know it, does not work.

Medical Marijuana – Or rather, the legalization thereof. What about the rest of us? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for cancer patients and people with AIDS being able to smoke up to increase their appetites and to help alleviate their pain. But I also think that it should be available to the general population. Control it like alcohol is controlled, with a minimum age to purchase, and then tax the living dickens out of it. Why? There are a couple of reasons: 1) do you have any idea how much tax revenue would be generated? 2) it would cut down on organized crime, much like when they did away with prohibition; and 3) it would cut down on the number of people in jail, thus freeing up the police to focus more attention on violent criminals.

The War on Terror – Sign me up! That sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to do away with terrorists? But this war of ours (whether we are willing to claim it or not) is a prime example of the truth behind an old saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Way Cooler Than A Bulldog . . .

Today, I present to you another adorable picture of Smelly the Beast Dog, just because I can:

Office Politics

I've been working since I was 14, and I've been in an office environment for at least 9 years. So, with all that experience, you would think that I would have learned the rules of engagment as they relate to office politics. No such luck.

My biggest problem is this: I make friends with my co-workers. I work a lot, and, sadly enough, I don't have a lot of outside interests, so I don't meet a lot of people. Most of my friends are people that I have either worked with or met through people that I've worked with. I used to work with Pita, through whom I met Jo, Bergle, and a bunch of other friends. I currently work with my roommate Ship, his girlfriend C-Reg, PL Catlady, and Yogi. But none of those guys work in my operation, so we rarely see each other during the day, and none of our projects overlap.

The real problem is the pseudo-friend co-workers. The ones you have the occassional lunch with or go to happy hour with once in a blue moon. I trust those folks not to be assholes. Unfortunately, I find myself being disappointed by them over and over again.

I had my monthly status update meeting this morning, which is a conference call with about 20 other people. I hate this meeting because there is inevitably something that I get called out for every time. It's usually because someone has been dragging their feet on an effort and then springs it on me 2 hours before the meeting. This means that the blame is no longer on their shoulders, it's on mine. And since I just got the action a few hours earlier, I haven't had time to do anything with it yet, which makes ME look like a slacker. And that ticks me off.

And of course it happened this morning. Keep in mind that I worked until almost 11 last night and then was back here at 7:45 this morning. I was tired, and in no mood for a fight. That's when Rose decides to launch into a tirade about how she had been waiting for two months for this, that, and the other. Quite frankly, it had been so long since I had heard mention of this project that I couldn't even remember what it was for, much less the details of correspondences that had gone back and forth. So, rather than sticking up for myself, I decided it was better to say that I'd look into it than it was to end up looking like a fool because I had misspoken.

Luckily, my boss, Leone, had no such memory lapses. I adore my boss. She is the first female boss I've ever had who I really, really get along with. She is a tall, thick woman with a beautiful accent and a kind heart. And she doesn't take crap off of anyone. She immediately made Rose look incompetent by reminding her that I HAD indeed done what I was supposed to and that she (Rose) had failed to follow up. BAM! Bitch went down! I was vindicated, because no one challenges Leone. Hers is like the voice of God . . . "Leone has spoken."

But I have learned a valuable lesson today: Cover Your Ass. I also learned that women are catty bitches and can't be trusted. That's why I could never be a lesbian. That, and the whole eating p*ssy thing kind of grosses me out.

Lowered Expectations . . .

I have been mulling over the possibility of coming to the blogger happy hour on Friday. Jo has been telling me for ages how much fun they are and how nice everyone is, blah, blah, blah. And I keep making excuses . . . it’s a pain getting into DC on a Friday afternoon from where I live; it’s on a weeknight and I have to work the next day; I won’t know anyone; ew, karaoke?!

But it all kept coming back to one thing that I didn’t want to admit out loud, but that was the REAL reason that I had stayed away: Expectations. Not that I am concerned that my fellow bloggers won’t meet mine, but rather that I won’t meet theirs.

Jo always tells me how she envies how much confidence I have, but it’s all a sham. I’m a mess, just like most of the other people I know. I’m terrified that I’m going to walk in and some bitchy girl will turn to her friend and say, “Who invited Large Marge?”

Yup, there it is folks; out there in the open. I’m not a skinny girl (far from it). I used to be, but I’m not anymore, and I’ve paid dearly for that. Guys who absolutely adore my personality immediately relegate me to the friend zone without a moment’s hesitation, and then complain to me that the tall, leggy model they are dating is stupid, selfish, and emotionally void. Most girls are fine once they get to know me, but there are those few that every once in a while give me that look that only someone overweight knows. It’s a combination of disgust and pity, and it is the single most degrading and offensive look in the world.

So, consider yourselves forewarned: I’m coming, damn it, and I'm bringing my fat ass with me, so watch your drinks. The only thing that will stop me is a sale at Lane Bryant. (I’m kidding. I’m kidding.) But before you judge me (because, lets be honest, we all judge one another), make sure you take a few minutes to get to know me, because I’m an effing nice girl. (Oh, and did I mention I have really big boobs and great legs?)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This Means War . . .

Alright, Jo, way to use puppies to draw attention to your blog. You do realize that this means war, right? So, in retalliation, I present "Smelly the Beast Dog at 12 weeks." It's hard to believe she was ever that small.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Doing It On Your Own

I had an interesting conversation with my mom a few weeks ago. It started with us talking about my cousin who had a baby a few months ago with his girlfriend. Apparently, their relationship has hit a rough patch, and she left with the baby. (She has since returned, however, and things are getting back on track with their relationship.)

This then segued into talk of whether or not my older brother (who is 35) will ever have kids with his girlfriend who is 7 or 8 years his senior. I then threw out something that totally knocked my mom off balance, and I am still not 100% sure why.

I simply told her that if I didn't have a husband (or at least a very serious relationship) by the age of 37 or 38*, I was going to start looking into adoption or having a kid on my own through the use of artificial insemination. She was flabbergasted and utterly taken aback by the prospect of me raising a child on my own. This came from the woman who told me that if I was as good with my children as I was with my dog that I would be mother of the year. This is also the same woman who has been bugging my brother and me for grandchildren ever since my ex-sister-in-law’s little brother had a baby about 6 years ago.

Is this a generational thing? A small town thing? What? I don’t know. My parents do tend to be rather closed minded, especially when “appearances” are involved. It’s the whole “what-will-the-neighbors-think” mentality I guess.

But what’s wrong with a woman of a certain age, taking charge of her life, and bringing a child into the world (or helping one who is already here)? It’s not like I’m going to do it today without any thought or planning! And it’s not like I’m going to find a man to knock me up just so that I will have a baby-daddy to rely on for child support payments! If and when I do this, I will be financially secure enough not to need help from anyone.

Quite honestly, I am NOT ready for a child right now. I want to travel and enjoy being (relatively) young before I settle down. I want to be married for at least a couple years before I start having kids. And I want to give the prospect of a “traditional” family a chance to happen because I think (in most cases) kids are better off with two parents.

And another thing . . . we don’t get any guarantees in life. Even if I am lucky enough to find the perfect guy, he could get run over by a bus or struck down with cancer before we ever have a chance to have kids. Or maybe it could be me. You just never know.

So to my mom, I say this: I love you, but if and when the time comes, this is a responsibility that I will be ready to take on by myself. Remember, you’re the one who always told me that I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it.

I feel that the greatest gift you can give the world is a loved child. Children who are truly loved are blessed, and they share those blessings with everyone whose life they ever touch.

*obviously, some things are out of my control, and I don’t know what the future holds. This is a plan, not set in stone, and is subject to change based on things that may change in my life over the next several years.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fairfax Happy Ending Massage

Someone googled "Fairfax Happy Ending Massage" and my blog came up. Very interesting.

I Love Birthdays!!

Wow! What a weekend. Not only was the weather fantastic, it was also a weekend full of fun and excitement.

On Saturday, I got up early and went to PL Catlady's and Capt. Logistica's place for a production meeting in preparation for the 48-hour Film Festival, which is coming up in 2 weeks. We developed a story, worked out props and costumes, set up some pretty ingenious camera angles, and basically made an 8-minute movie in about 6 hours. It was a lot of fun, and I think most of us feel much more confident about our capabilities going into the big showdown.

After all the excitement of my morning, I went home and caught a quick nap before getting ready for a night on the town. Ship made a fantastic dinner which went down nicely with some fine spirits (a couple Red Bull & vodkas, and a glass of Moscato d'Asti). We then headed out to Guarapo* in Arlington to meet up with my friends. And I have to say, I have some really great friends! Unfortunately, not everyone could get in because of the dress code. (Apparently, ripped jeans are fine, as long as you aren't wearing them with flip flops.) That meant that PL Catlady, Capt. Logistica, Skeezy Edward, and the Gods couldn't get in, which was a major downer. Luckily, I was pretty loaded at that point, so I recovered from the disappointment rather quickly. Ship, Yogi, and I had a water battle before we finally called it a night, and we caught a cab home, where I promptly passed out.

Yesterday, I didn't really have any plans when I woke (besides catching up with Jo at some point), so I ended up going out to Pita's dad's place to see her nephew who is 9 months old, and to barbecue. I adore Pita's family, especially her dad and her sister-in-law, so it was a lot of fun and her brother is definitely a Grill Master! After that, I headed home completely stuffed, and met up with Jo who kept me company while I took Smelly to the dog park. Then it was back in the car down to PL’s to view the first completed draft of the movie that Capt. Logistica and Ralph had spent all afternoon editing.

Needless to say, it was a very busy weekend. But it was definitely worth feeling completely worn out today (and still somewhat hung over!).

I Hope everyone else had as much fun as I did!!

* A word to the wise: if you go to Guarapo and get a hookah, make sure you don’t let the drunkest person at the table pick up the tongs to move around the little charcoal thing, because she may squeeze it a little too hard and end up sending hot ashes raining down on the table and into everyone’s drinks.

Who's the BIG WINNER?

That would be C-Reg, who got her third first-place finish in the Backyard Burn Series yesterday, AND took first place in her class for the overall series!!

And this girl earned her victory. Not only did she train relentlessly, she also left the festivities on Saturday night by 10 (without drinking a drop of alcohol) so that she could get plenty of rest for her race. Now, please keep in mind that C-Reg is 23. What 23 year old do you know who is that dedicated?

Anyway, thought I would share the great news! CONGRATULATIONS C-REG!!

Friday, April 20, 2007


On Sunday, I will turn 32. It seems like every birthday since my 30th has brought about a year of changes. Some good, some bad.

For example, the week of my 30th birthday brought about a series of major events: one of my best friends had her bachelorette party in Myrtle Beach (good), the death of my grandmother (bad, but for the best), the death of Alphie, a Betta fish that was a gift from my brother (bad, because he was murdered), and the end of a 3-year relationship (a blessing).

So now, on the verge of another birthday, I can’t help but wonder what lies around the corner for me. Will it be a new love? A new car? More good times with great friends? Or maybe something bad?

But then I realized something . . . it doesn’t really matter. And I don’t mean that in a fatalistic way. I just mean that I have lived a great life so far. There have been ups and downs, and they have shaped me into the person that I am today: a strong, independent, loving, sarcastic, nurturing (and sometimes combative) woman. I have a great circle of friends. I have a job that (despite the long hours) I really love. I am settled in my home life. I have the world’s most awesome dog. And I am comfortable in my own skin (although, like most people, I occasionally have my moments of self-doubt).

I have also decided to let go of some things from my past that have haunted me for a while, especially as they relate to past relationships. Among other things, I’m deleting some old blogs from back when I first started posting almost a year ago. The circumstances that fueled those blogs are so far removed from my current life, and I don’t want people to read them and think that they represent who I am today. I’ve also decided to let go of some of the anger I’ve felt toward my father about how he treated me during my childhood. Just as I have changed, so has he. And holding on to past hurt will do nothing but hurt me further.

Whatever lies ahead, I am ready for it. I am strong enough to face adversity, and gracious enough to be thankful for my blessings.

Now go enjoy the beautiful weather here in DC this weekend. I like to think of it as God’s little birthday gift to me!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

You'll Need a Translator . . .

Adventures in Dining –

Jo, Ship, and I decided that we were going to try out this little Tex-Mex/ Salvadorean place down the street from us called "Las Delicias" the other night. We had been talking about giving it a go for a while because the parking lot was always packed whenever we drove by.

Tuesday was the big night . . . we decided on hitting up this little "jewel in the rough" before we went to Tequila Tuesday at El Paso Cafe. We met there at 7 and stood outside chatting for a few minutes before we went in. Do you know those scenes in movies when the "outsiders" walk into a local bar and the jukebox screeches to a halt and everyone stops and stares? Well, that's basically what happened to us. There were about 10 guys sitting around drinking beers, and listening to some really bad Spanish-language music. (And trust me, I know the difference between good and bad Latin music!) Everyone turned and looked at us like we were horned invaders from outer space (or maybe la migra!).

Now, I had intentionally asked Jo to join us because, among other languages, she is fluent in Spanish. After all, she's half Uruguayan. I speak Spanish well enough, but I have a hard time holding up my end of the conversation if the other person doesn't speak slowly. And I'm kind of a chicken shit when it comes to situations like that because I'm always afraid I'm going to say something stupid and everyone is going to laugh at me. Anyway, Jo was our "ringer," the person who could save us in case things turned ugly.

And turned ugly they did. We were immediately ushered to the opposite side of the restaurant, away from all the other patrons. The waitress did not speak a word of English. I mean it. Not a word. Thank God for Jo who had to order for us. Sadly, it was still a struggle because apparently the waitress not only didn't speak English, she was mildly retarded as well. (Cute, but retarded.) We were able to successfully place our orders, and then just sat back and waited. It didn't take long before the jukebox started cranking out power ballads from the 80's . . . I started getting paranoid that it was the other customers' (who were obviously regulars) way of making fun of us. But is it paranoid if that's what they were actually doing?

Before our meal came, another couple of gringos came in and were immediately seated on "our" side of the restaurant. (Segregation is alive and well, folks!) We overheard the guy ask "What would you recommend?" This question was immediately followed by a blank stare from the waitress. Jo and I gave each other a knowing glance . . . this poor unsuspecting fool.

Eventually the food arrived. It was bland at best. Not bad, just not great. Then the check came, and with it a debate about the prices on the menu being different than the prices on the bill. But rather than argue with them, we let it go, paid our tab, and left.

Next stop . . . El Paso Cafe. If you have never been to the El Paso Cafe in Arlington (it's on N. Pershing), you should definitely give it a try. I have two words for you: "TEQUILA TUESDAY." They have a margarita menu to die for, with a different $3 margarita every week. (Mango is the best that I've had so far, but they are all wonderful!) And on weeks that they don't have the margaritas, they have a tequila tasting. And we're not talking Jose Cuervo here . . . we're talking top shelf stuff. The kind of tequila that can be sipped and that doesn't make you mean. The staff and management are friendly (and speak English), and they have live music after the dinner rush. I haven't eaten the food yet, but everything that comes out of the kitchen looks and smells wonderful.

I guess we will have to chalk this up to a learning experience. Las Delicias isn't so delicious. Sometimes it's best to stick with what you know. The next time I'm hungry for some south-of-the border flavor, I will head to El Paso. As should you.

The Soundtrack of My Life - Track 2

"Circle" - Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

This song takes me back to my high school days. I had this group of friends, and we were absolutely inseparable. It was Steener, Naner, Special K, Little F, and me. I was like the mom of the group. Since I was a little older and had a car, I was always running around picking everyone up for band practice (relax, we were all in the colorguard!) and various other activities. We'd ride around in the car, me driving a million miles an hour because I always felt bulletproof, laughing and doing stupid, obnoxious things that stupid, obnoxious teenage girls always do. We even had our own little language. We decided that we were all going to remain virgins until marriage, but that didn't last long. Little F was the first to go, but, then again, that's why we called her Little F.

I don't really talk to any of them anymore. I continued to see Steener at Christmastime at my aunt's house. She had long been in love with my cousin, but I assume she's over that because she married someone else. Special K, who acted clueless but was utterly brilliant, was living in Boston last I heard and working at Harvard. Little F married her high school sweetheart and they are living somewhere in Central Virginia. And Naner did what all good Mormon girls do . . . she went to BYU and then came back to Virginia and got married.

I miss those guys. I'm sure if you got us all together, we probably wouldn't have anything in common anymore, but I'm tempted to try to get in touch with them from time to time. But some things are best left in the past, I suppose. Everything is temporary anyway.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Soundtrack of My Life - Track 1

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Everyone knows this version* of the classic song, although you may not realize it right away. But I guarantee you've heard it. This is the version that was playing on ER the night the Dr. Green died in Hawaii. It's also the background music for the current Rice Krispies commercials, and was used by eToys before it went under.

This has long been one of my favorite songs. It's simultaneously uplifting and heart-breaking. It expresses hope more powerful than pain, and the possibility of what's to come.

I was going to tell you all about how this song has played a role in my life, about how it fits into my soundtrack. But right now, this song has a special significance. So, instead of talking about me, I want to dedicate this song to all the Hokies out there. God bless you all.

* The linked video from YouTube includes scenes from Iz's funeral celebration.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My heart is with you, Hokies.

I cannot believe what I am reading. Virginia Tech is one of the last places you would ever expect something like this to happen. is reporting 31 dead (including the gunman) and many more wounded.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Hokies everywhere. I hope that spirit which makes VT so special will help bring you all even closer in this difficult time.

God bless you all.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sorry for the delay . . .

I had promised a post on the "Soundtrack of My Life" last week, but decided that (since I had Friday off) I really didn't want to look at a computer if I could help it! So, forgive me. I will catch up on Monday!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Soundtrack of My Life

I grew up playing violin and piano as a child, and I was a proud member of the marching band in high school (although I was in the colorguard). But it seems like no matter what was going on in my life, music has always been there.

Have you ever really watched a movie that was good, but was made great by the soundtrack? For example, Garden State was a really good movie, but the soundtrack made watching the movie an experience. The same is true of Elizabethtown, where the music almost becomes another character in the movie. And if you're into more of the classic movies, look at Apocalypse Now.

I believe that we all have a soundtrack that plays along with the movie of our lives. Think about it. Through every period of your life, there is probably at least one song that reminds you of that time.

I've decided to share some of my songs with you, my reader, to give you some insight into who Helen Skor really is. However, because there is a story that goes along with every song, I'm not going to bore you with a ridiculously long post. Instead, I am going to do a series on my soundtrack. Starting today. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Play Nice

I believe that every event in our lives and every person with whom we come in contact affects who we are as human beings. We take a little something from every person we ever meet, regardless of how tenuous our connection to that person may be. From something as concrete as the hugs our parents gave us when we were children; to the guy who blesses you when you sneeze in the middle of a crowded coffee shop; to the nice lady with the full basket at the grocery store who lets you jump ahead because you're just getting one thing. These acts of kindness make us more willing to do kind things for others. Those contacts, however seemingly insignificant, change us ever so slightly for the better.

DC (and most other major metropolitan areas) is full of people who are so wrapped up in themselves and their lives that they have forgotten how easy it is to be kind to one another. Yes, there are a lot of people around here who are just assholes, but I refuse to believe that they are the majority. I believe that most people, when offered a choice between a kind word or an obscene gesture, would prefer the kind word.

So the next time someone puts on their turn signal to merge in front of you in traffic, ease off the gas and let him in. The next time the lady with the screaming baby is struggling to get settled on the Metro, offer her your seat. You may not get a courtesy wave or a thank you for either of these things, but at least you’ll know that you did the right thing, whether the other person acknowledges it or not.

From the Kitchen of Helen Skor?

I've recently been putting some thought into the prospect of starting a separate blog with just recipes. I'm not sure if that's a good idea or a colossal waste of time (or if anyone would even bother to read it and actually use the recipes).

What say you? Would you be interested in some of my recipes? I have a bunch of relatively easy recipes that are pretty much fool proof. Let me know what you think.

She's On a Roll . . .

It wasn't because I forgot (well, okay, maybe it was), but I failed to give you an update on C-Reg's performance in the Backyard Burn series. She had another race last weekend, and again came in FIRST with a commanding lead over all the other chicks! Her main competition in the series wasn't even at this race, so as long as she finishes the next race, she is pretty much guaranteed to win the overall series! Congrats C-Reg!

I Don't Need a Nicotine Patch, Penny.

"I don't need a Nicotine patch, Penny. I smoke cigarettes."

I'm not sure why that line from Stranger than Fiction makes me laugh out loud, but I guess maybe it has more to do with my offbeat sense of humor than anything else. After all, I am one of those people who is endlessly amused by quirky movies such as The Royal Tenenbaums, I Heart Huckabees, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Maybe "amused" isn't the right word. I'm not even quite sure what it is about those movies that draws me in, but there is something. Something different. Something special. If you haven't seen them already, you definitely should.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm Looking For A Few Good Men

Well, not even a few. Just one.

I’d love to say that I’m not all that hard to please and would just be grateful to meet a nice guy who digs on me. But that would be a lie. It’s like that line from Clueless: “You know how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet!”

So, in order to help weed out the unqualified applicants, I have come up with a list of the things that I am looking for in my partner:
  1. Sense of humor: I don’t want to date a clown, but I want a guy who is smart enough to see the humor in everyday things and who can make me laugh about them. Key to this is his ability to not only recognize my sarcasm (which can be tricky) but also not be totally offended by it.
  2. Self-Reliance: If you don’t have a job, don’t bother. You don’t have to be an investment banker or a corporate lawyer, but you have to earn enough money to pay your own bills. (I don’t need you to take care of me . . . I can do that just fine on my own.)
  3. Hygiene: If you don’t shower daily, then I’m probably not the girl for you. The dirty hippie thing was sort of hot when I was in college, but not so much anymore. I want a guy who is clean, but not overly obsessed with his appearance. If you spend more time on your hair than I do on mine, we are going to have issues.
  4. Cleanliness: This is not about your body, it’s about your environment. Will I be able to tell what you’ve eaten for the last two weeks by looking at the dirty dishes in your sink? When was the last time you changed your sheets or cleaned your bathroom? But don’t think I’m a prude. I can deal with messy . . . although it’s not my favorite thing, it is WAY better than dirty.
  5. Respect: If you respect me, then just about everything else will work itself out. I learned this in my last relationship. If you respect me, then you won’t expect me to do everything for you like cook, clean, do your laundry, etc., and I’ll have no reason to resent you. We won’t get in fights about differing opinions on politics or finances, even when we don’t agree. Respect is the backbone to any healthy relationship. I firmly believe this.
  6. Passing Score on the “Brother Test”: If my big brother doesn’t like you, it sends up a giant red flag. But don’t panic . . . my brother is remarkably easy to get along with. So, if you can’t get along with him, there is obviously something wrong with you.

You will probably notice that “looks” aren’t on this list. I don’t care if you’re fat, skinny, balding, bow-legged, or buck-toothed. As long as you are confident with yourself, looks don’t matter. (I’m tall though, so if you have a Napoleon complex, move along!)

Now, please don’t let this list of “demands” scare you. In return for meeting these requirements, there are an abundance of perks that go along with being my significant other. A short list of some of those perks* include:

  1. Massages: I love to give massages . . . your back, your arms and hands, your legs, even your face. I have been told by many of my friends and former boyfriends that I give excellent massages because I have really strong hands. As for any thoughts that may be floating about in your head about “happy endings,” remember this: sometimes a massage is just a nice way to wind down from your day, and sometimes it’s a nice way to get wound up for your night. Make of that what you will.
  2. Home-Cooked Meals: Whether it’s in the kitchen or on the grill, I love to cook, and I’m pretty darned good at it. But if you love to cook as well, we can take turns spoiling one another. Unfortunately, because most of the guys I’ve dated consider microwaving a frozen dinner as cooking, I haven’t learned the fine art of sharing the kitchen. But I’m willing to give it a try.
  3. Intelligence: I don’t claim to be Mensa smart, but I can hold my own with most people. That means that you won’t have to be worried about me saying something utterly embarrassing at your company Christmas party. Holy Juan says that he (and presumably other men as well) doesn’t like women who are smarter than him because they can see through his B.S. That goes back to the respect item listed above. If you respect me, you won’t try to B.S. me.
  4. Wit: I have an excellent sense of humor. I love to laugh, and I love to make the people around me laugh. My mom used to tell me that men don’t like funny women. I disagree. The good ones do.
  5. Fortitude: I’m tough. I don’t need you to kill bugs, trap mice, build fires, or hang pictures. I can do all these things myself. This means that you aren’t going to hear me whining from another room while you are watching the game to come kill a spider the size of a grain of rice.
  6. Sex: I like to f*ck. (Sorry Juan, I just can’t say that with a straight face!) But seriously, who doesn’t enjoy a good roll in the hay? Most guys will tell you they want a girl who’s a lady in the streets and a whore in the sheets. In polite company, women will say they want to be treated like ladies all the time. Just so you know . . . that’s bullsh*t. We like doing it as much as you guys but we’re not supposed to talk about it.
  7. Loyalty: I don't cheat. If we get to the point in our relationship that I feel like I need to be with somebody else, I'm going to end things with you first, because there are obviously larger issues in our relationship. I’m not going to try to fundamentally change who you are to make you into the perfect boyfriend. I’m smart enough to know that there is no such thing. Not to mention the fact that one of the worst things you can do to another person is violate their trust. I'm fiercely loyal to my lovers, my friends, and my family.
  8. The Boys: I can hang out with your friends and drink and have a good time doing whatever it is that you guys like to do together and be perfectly happy. But I also understand the importance of guy time. And you are welcome to hang out with the boys whenever you’d like, as long as you show me the same courtesy with my friends.
  9. Hablo Espanol: I am not fluent by any stretch of the imagination, but if you want to take me to meet your family in Spain or Latin America, I can hold my own. And if you don't speak Spanish, I will make you want to, because it is a very sexy language.
  10. Smelly: I have the world’s sweetest dog. She loves everyone, and if she knows I like you and trust you, she will like and trust you too. And Smelly is just a nickname for the sake of this blog. She is actually named after a character that Salma Hayek played in one of her movies. You like her better already, don’t you?

So, if you think we’d make a good match, or if you have a brother or good friend you think would like me, send him the link to my page. If he likes what I have to say on here, then he’ll probably like me. Tell him to send a picture of himself standing in front of his car. (I'm kidding.)

[*After receiving some feedback from Holy Juan, I have decided to make a few edits to my “perks” list.]

Fairfax County (Government) Sucks

I’m sorry if you live anywhere in Fairfax County and have to deal with the rocket scientists who staff the Fairfax County Government Center.

First of all, let me fill you in on my debacle. I, in my constant state of disorganization, forgot to pay my Fairfax County personal property taxes for the part of 2006 prior to me moving to Arlington County. That was my mistake, and I had to pay a hefty late fee AND an additional charge to release a hold they had on my account with the DMV because of it. That was in late January. In early February, I sent my registration renewal form to the DMV with a check and they sent it back because Fairfax County hadn’t released the hold yet.

I figured that since it took forever for the payment to Fairfax to clear my bank account that maybe the hold hadn’t been released by the time the DMV check was sent. No big deal.

So, on Monday, after a written reminder (read as: two tickets) from our friends at the Arlington County Police Department on Friday, I decided to go get my registration taken care of. I went to the DMV and sat and sat and sat. At 4:45, they finally called my number. I explained what I needed and the lady at the DMV told me that she couldn’t help me. “Why?!” I asked. Because Fairfax still hadn’t released the hold. DMV Lady, in a non-typical act of kindness, told me that I could call Fairfax County and have them correct it and then jump back in line and she would get me set up.

But no. That was too easy. The Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration closes at 4:30. I called them the next morning and had them fix the hold, which took WAY longer than it should have. But it’s finally fixed.

I went to the DMV again this morning and emerged relatively unscathed (although slightly poorer). Man, I sure can’t wait to do this all over again next year. Luckily, next year I will be dealing strictly with Arlington County.

Ode to Papa Dallas

If you were one of the fortunate ones, you probably had that one “best friend” in high school that you practically lived with. Either you were at her house or she was at yours. That friend, for me, was Woolly.

Woolly had it made. Her parents were not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but they lived in a big old house with a swimming pool and she had no real curfew, so it was always the place to be. During the summers, I spent more nights at her house than at my own. Woolly was also the youngest of 5 kids, and her siblings were much older (one of Woolly’s nieces is only a year younger than she is), so her parents were also much older than most of our friends’ parents (my own included). Her mom was (and presumably still is) the most amazing cook, and there was always homemade bread and fresh vegetables from the garden. Her dad was a big bear of a guy. He had gray hair that never quite stayed where he wanted it to, and he always had a few days of beard growth. He was one of those guys that came across as gruff and grumpy to those who didn’t know him, but to those who knew him well, he was Papa Dallas . . . a loyal father, good provider, and a big teddy bear.

I remember him always sitting in his chair in the den after a long day’s work, with the TV blaring and Granny Rufus tending to his needs. He’d fuss at us for leaving all the lights on or a door open, but he mostly just let us be. Once in a while, however, you’d get one of his hugs just when you needed it the most. Those hugs were legendary. They always reminded me of how it felt to be wrapped in a warm blanket fresh out of the dryer by my mom when I was a little kid. And years later, when I’d see him on breaks from college, I still craved those hugs.

Papa Dallas passed away about two weeks ago after a battle with cancer. I don’t even know what to say to his family. All I really want to do is find Woolly and give her a hug that reminds her of her dad’s . . . because those hugs always seemed to make everything better.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Now THAT Was A Storm!!

Everyone has been talking about it this morning at work. I am assuming that most people who live inside the beltway were awoken this morning around 4AM by that HUGE thunderstorm. That thing was amazing. Of course, I guess it helps that I live less than a mile from the world's largest lightning rod* (also known as the Air Force Memorial).

It's been a really long time since I've seen a storm like that. Except for the getting woken up in the middle of the night part, it was really cool! Ship's cat (Commander Salamander) freaked out a bit, but Smelly seemed totally unfazed by it.

*This is has not been verified by the Guinness Book of World Records. It's actually just an excuse for me to make fun of a national monument.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Snooze Bandit Strikes Again

I am one of THOSE people. You know the ones. The people who set their alarms to go off almost a full hour before they have to actually get up. The people who hit the snooze button over and over and over again. That's me. It's a problem, I know. But admitting that I have a problem is the first step, right?

If you have ever lived (or spent the night) with one of these people, you know how annoying this can be. I have had roommates come from the opposite side of an apartment to tell me that my alarm was going off. I don't hear it. Why? Because I don't want to. My bed, as uncomfortable as my mattress can be, is my refuge from the world - my warm, cozy safe haven from all the worries of the day. And Smelly the Beast Dog loves it too. In fact she contributes to my daily reluctance to get up because as soon as she hears the alarm, she moves closer to me and snuggles close.

When I was a kid, my mom would call upstairs on the intercom to wake my brother and me up in the morning. Each of us would dangle a leg out of the bed and pound our heel on the floor to indicate that we were "up and at 'em," but that was rarely the case. I'm surprised I didn't get in more trouble because I was ALWAYS late to school.

I'm a night person, you see, and mornings are my mortal enemy. I love to sleep and always have, but since I went off to college 14 (yikes!) years ago, I've been running at a deficit. Because I am a night owl, I have a hard time getting to bed before midnight or 1 AM, so when the alarm goes off at 5:45, I'm not a happy camper. Logic would dictate that I should try to get to bed earlier. My internal clock, however, does not run on logic.

I have tried though. All those silly little tricks they say work: going to bed by 10 PM; sleeping with the blinds open so the sun can wake you gradually and naturally in the morning; setting your clock for the actual time that you need to get up; not eating or drinking caffeinated drinks before bed. None of that works for me.

So, to all my former and current roommates and overnight guests, please forgive me and try to understand that I don't push the snooze button to annoy you. I do it because I HAVE to.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Why Women go to the Bathroom Together . . .

Men have always wanted to know the answer to one of the greatest mysteries of human kind: Why do women go to the bathroom together? And, despite the possible repercussions for divulging the answer to this well-kept secret, I will now explain to all of you guys out there why we women feel the need to travel to the bathroom in packs.

It's to make out. Not really. (But you know that's what you were thinking!) It's not as simple as that though. There are actually several reasons why we do it.

  1. TO TALK ABOUT YOU (GUYS): The bathroom is where we can freely express our opinions about your personality, hygiene, sense of humor, fashion sense (or lack thereof), and other traits. Our friends are our sounding boards, and the bathroom is a safe haven for free and uncensored feedback.
  2. FOR SECOND OPINIONS: This one isn't about you guys. It's about us. Is our skirt tucked into our pantyhose? Does our lipstick look whorish? Does our hair look better up or down? You know, girly stuff.
  3. THOSE PESKY FEMALE ISSUES: We know anything related to menstrual cycles freaks you out, so we bring our girlfriends with us to the bathroom so that we can ask if they have a tampon/ maxi pad/ or Midol out of your ear shot.
  4. FOR SECURITY: There is safety in numbers. If we are in a sketchy place, we feel safer if we have someone with us. Also, it could be that we are afraid to leave our friend alone with you. (Bet you hadn't thought of that!)
  5. TO RUN INTERFERENCE: If you've ever been to a bar or sporting event or concert, you know what I'm talking about. There is a line for the women's bathroom that is 45 girls deep. The men are walking in and out with no line. So, putting our mental and physical well-being aside (because, quite frankly, you guys are nasty), we commandeer the men's room. This requires at least two women: one to pee and one to stand guard. (But it works better when there are more women to handle the belligerent drunk guys who try to push past).
  6. TO DO DRUGS OR PUKE: These are not the kind of girls you want to get involved with. If your date and her friend make repeated trips to the bathroom and come back talking a mile a minute and constantly sniffing and wiping their noses, you should call it a night (without her). And if she eats six bites of her dinner and then rushes off to the bathroom, emerging 15 minutes later looking a little worse for the wear, she is probably a "friend of Ana" and that usually means she's got all kinds of other issues to deal with. (And she has taken her friend with her to hold her hair or to make sure that she doesn't have up-chuck on her clothes.)
  7. TO MAKE OUT: Yes. Sometimes that REALLY is the reason why we go to the bathroom with a friend in tow. But don't get too excited. If the girl you are with is in the bathroom making out with her friend, she is intentionally leaving you out for a reason.

I hope this has helped clear up any confusion.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What A Way to Start the Day!

Picture this . . . it's 4 AM and Helen is snuggled beneath the covers, happily dreaming about this and that. She rolls over, reaching for Smelly the Beast Dog, and instead encounters . . . a puddle on the other side of the bed.

Yup. That's what I awoke to this morning. So I got up, stripped and remade the bed, hand-washed my coverlet (because it's too big for the machine), and showered. After all that, I can safely say that I was WIDE awake, so I just went to work. At 6 AM. Ugh.

Some people think I should be furious with her, because this isn't the first time this has happened. (Far from it.) But, you see, Smelly has a bit of a urinary incontinence issue. And it's not her fault. When she was "fixed" at the ripe old age of 6 months, they messed up her plumbing, and now, about every 3 months, she gets a bladder infection and she "leaks" in her sleep. She also has to take medicine every day. As you can imagine, this is a costly proposition.

The last time we went, the vet (not the one who fixed her . . . we stopped going there when they insisted her wetting was a behavioral issue!) suggested that I put her on some super-duper hardcore broad-spectrum antibiotics to see if we could kill whatever was in her system that kept coming back. I was all for it . . . until I found out that the $20 antibiotics I normally got for her were being replaced by $360 antibiotics.

For those of you who have pets and live on a budget, you have probably encountered "the look" from your vet. This is the look that says: "I cannot believe that you would deprive your pet of every possible treatment method to extend and improve its quality of life. You should sell your ass on the corner so that you can afford this ten thousand dollar surgery. Your kids can pay for their own college." Whenever I see this look, I feel these ravenous pangs of guilt ripping through my gut. Then I get over it.

There is not much that I wouldn't do for my dog. I will love her until her dying breath (or mine) and if there is something that I can do that will improve her life, I am all over it. But does sedating her so that they can jam a needle in her bladder and then pump her full of so many chemicals that she can't properly digest her food (pssst . . . that's code for "she gets the runs") for a month really improving her life? I'm doubtful.

What I really want to know is if there are any holistic remedies for these types of issues in dogs. Does cranberry juice work on dogs like it does on people? And how do you get a dog to drink cranberry juice? I'm going to have to do some research.

The Most Excellent of Ideas*

As I sat here on this beautiful day staring out my office window, thinking of all the weekend trips and adventures I have planned over the next few months, I came up with the most excellent of ideas: 4-DAY WEEKENDS. And not just every once in a while. All the time.

Now, there are those of you who think this is just a pipe dream. You are thinking "no one can get paid the same salary and only work three days a week! That's poppy cock!" But really, it isn't such a hair-brained scheme!

Think about it. How much of your time at work do you spend goofing off? If you're like most people, it's a lot. There are the legitimate excuses for being away from your desk, such as bathroom and meal breaks. But how many times a day do you get up and wander around the office to say hello to your friends, get refills of coffee (or some other equally caffeinated beverage), or smoke a cigarette? How much time do you spend checking web sites for the latest international news (or gossip), or the weather, or your friends' blogs? And what about online shopping!

My point is this . . . we could get just as much REAL WORK done in a 30 hour week. I mean, seriously, most of the people I work with goof off for a minimum of 2 hours a day, and some goof off for at least half of the day! Then we could work 3 ten-hour days and be done with it. Of course, there will be those who don't like the idea of a 10 hour day, but they can have the option of working 4 days a week if they really want to.

Now who is with me on this? We need a revolution! Workers of America UNITE!

(*I am in serious need of a vacation. Please take all of this as a desperate cry for help.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sometimes Virginia's Totally Unpredictable Weather is a Good Thing!

So, it's Sunday, and much to my surprise, it is what can only be described as a GLORIOUS day outside. I had been prepared for the worst (with this week's earlier forecast of yuckiness), but I woke to chirping birds and sunshine. The sky reminded me of the an elementary school art project - stretched out cotton balls glued to bright blue construction paper.

I just had an extended brunch with my new friend Yogi. I met Yogi through mutual friends, and she is also a part of the screenwriting group in which I am involved. We sat on the patio enjoying the perfect weather and chatting about a little bit of everything. What a perfect way to spend the day.

I hope everyone else is enjoying this day as much as I am! And if you're reading this today, get off the computer, go outside, and enjoy the sunshine!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Camping Season Is Almost Upon Us!

It's almost time to pull out the camping gear and trek off into the woods for a few days of rest and relaxation.

I love to camp. I think it's my inner tomboy crying out to be freed from the bonds of pantyhose and eyeliner. And there is nothing better than getting away from it all by cooking over an open fire, sleeping on the hard ground, and drinking way too much.

Anyway, I hope to have some really interesting camping stories to share with you before long. In the meantime, wander over to Puntabulous and read about his exciting "camping" trip. By "camping" he really means staying in a fully furnished lake house. Bear with him . . . he's a city slicker from NYC.

DC Bloggers, Unite!

Please visit Sour 'n' Sweet to read this heartbreaking story . . .

That's a Slight Improvement . . .

So when I posted last night about the weather being crappy this weekend, it called for showers all weekend. Today, there is a slight improvement in the forecast . . . mostly sunny on Sunday. I'll take it!

I wish I had been a weather man. (Weather girl? Weather lady? Weather person?) How many professions do you know of where you can be wrong SO MUCH of the time and still have a job?! And they are pretty well paid, especially when you take into consideration the fact that they don't ever REALLY know what is going to happen!!

I think I missed my calling.

Some Call Them Annoying. I Call Them Endearing.

Yes, folks. I'm talking about my personality quirks. Just so you know that Helen Skor is a real, live, flesh-and-blood human being, I thought I would share with you a few of my idiosyncratic behaviors.
  1. Laundry - I hate doing laundry, but I hate having dirty clothes even more. If I take something out of the closet to wear and I decide I'm either not in the mood for it or I look like an Orca with it on, off it goes into the laundry basket. Yes, I had it on for 30 seconds, but it has now officially been worn.
  2. Ironing - I despise ironing. Not because the actual act of ironing is terrible. But because the whole process of getting out the ironing board and iron, filling the iron, draining the water from the iron, and putting the ironing board away when you're done is a big old pain in the butt. How do I solve this problem? About once a month, I sit down with a big old pile of clean laundry on a Sunday afternoon and iron for about 4 or 5 hours straight.
  3. Closet Space - I need a lot of it, and luckily I have plenty in my place. I have two closets in my room. The left closet is neatly arranged from left to right: formal dresses, casual dresses, sweaters that need to hang, skooters, short skirts, capris, dress pants, long skirts. Naturally, these are subdivided by color. My right-hand closet is tops: button-ups for work, going out shirts, casual shirts, camisoles, dressy tanks. Again organized by color. (ROY G. BIV is a close personal friend of mine!).
  4. My Underwear Drawers - I have two drawers in my dresser for underwear. The top drawer is for bras, and the next drawer down is for underwear. If you need proof of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you need look no further than these two drawers. I admit it . . . I fold my underwear. The good stuff goes in the front. The not-so-good stuff goes in the back. And if it's really not good, it goes in the trash, no matter how comfortable it is.

And these are just the weird things I do with my clothes. I think it has to do with the fact that I never really had a lot growing up. My parents weren't rich, but we also were never lacking anything that we needed. I wore my brother's hand-me-downs for years and years, so I always dressed like a boy . . . t-shirts and jeans all the time. But even then, my t-shirts were always ironed with military precision and carefully hung in the closet (but NEVER with wire hangers!).

These days, I am much more girly in my choice of attire. And, finally, I have "expendable income" to waste (I mean "invest") on my wardrobe. And I do a LOT of investing. Just ask Jo! But those old lessons die hard. So, in reality, I'm not OCD . . . just meticulous.

How to Make Kick-Ass-Paragus

I've decided that I'm going to share some of my favorite recipes from time to time, starting now. I would love to be able to do nothing but cook for a living. The grocery shopping and dish washing, however, is another story!

I've been told that I'm pretty good in the kitchen, so when I make something that goes over particularly well, I will post the recipe here.

  • On a baking sheet, spread out 1 lb. of asparagus with the base ends cut off about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom.
  • Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with garlic salt, onion flakes, and a small amount of Montreal Steak seasoning.
  • If you have them, add some pine nuts. Baby Portabello mushrooms also make a nice addition.
  • Bake in the oven uncovered at 350 degrees until they reach the preferred level of doneness.
Some people like theirs still crispy, while others prefer it to be the same consistency as the stuff you get in the cans (yuck!). It's really just a matter of taste. You can also use this same recipe on the grill by wrapping the ingredients in aluminum foil and cooking over medium heat. Asparagus is great, because it can be served hot or cold, and is always delicious. This recipe is quick, easy, and healthy. And, as most people know, it makes your pee smell funny!

Color Me Annoyed . . .

What the hell happened to the weekend weather forecast? Earlier this week (um, yesterday!) the weather guy said it was going to be in the sixties and sunny all weekend. I just checked and saw this! I'm so annoyed. I have a big birthday bash for Beaver's mom on Saturday night, and the rain is totally going to ruin my hair. (Trust me . . . naturally fine, extremely curly hair and humidity do not a happy combination make!)

Come. Sit. Stay a While.

Spring has finally sprung here in the Metro DC area, and I couldn’t be any happier to welcome it back. And I hope it sticks this time! Winter was a bummer this year . . . it was warm during Christmas, and although it eventually got really cold, we never did get very much snow around here. And seriously, what good is cold weather without snow?!

Spring is my favorite season. Mostly, because it reminds me of my time at JMU (Go Dukes!!). My friends and I used to always go get lunch at PC Dukes and then go sit out in the grass near our dorm, eat lunch, and catch a few rays (and maybe a nap). Of course, reminiscing about days long gone makes me want to find an excuse to call out of work tomorrow and sit on my back patio, read a good book, and grill out. That’s out of the question though, so I guess I’ll have to wait until Sunday for that!

Anyway, I hope you are all enjoying these beautiful days as much as I. The weather is supposed to be beautiful all weekend, so try to make the most of it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why I Wish I Had More Gay Friends . . .

I used to have a best friend who was gay, and he was perfect. He eventually started dating someone seriously and then disappeared into the dark underworld of "life partnership," never to be seen at a cool place ever again. I miss him.

There are certain things that you can do with a gay friend that you can't do with a straight guy or even with your girlfriends. That's why I wish I had more gay friends.

Some examples of why I love gay men:

  1. They take you out to awesome dance clubs and dirty dance with you all night like you are the hottest piece of ass in the place, but you don't have to worry about late-night expectations.
  2. They will spoon with you if need someone to cuddle with.
  3. They will be honest when you wear something that you shouldn't, but in a way that won't totally destroy your self-esteem. (e.g.- "Honey, that's not for you . . . why don't you try this top instead?!")
  4. When you wear a new outfit or do your hair in a new way, they always notice and tell you how fierce you look.
  5. Unlike girlfriends, you don't have to compete with them for men. (Unless the guy you're interested in is bi.)
  6. They will sit around with you and watch Lifetime Movie Network for 10 hours straight on a Sunday afternoon while completely hung over.
  7. They will go get a mani /pedi with you.
  8. They don't bitch about how long it takes you to get ready to go out.
  9. Even though most of the time they seem like "just one of the girls," they are still very much men, so they can open stuck lids and kill bugs.
  10. They provide very useful insight into the male psyche.

I guess it all goes back to something my mom once told me: "There's nothing like a good fag for a friend." Alas, she was right. Although I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with her choice of words.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I have recently been told that I can come across as combative. I know, I know. It's shocking that someone would say that about me. The context in which I was informed of this went a little something like this: "Rick is attracted to you, but he's afraid to ask you out because he said you can be a little combative." So how did I respond to this revelation? I immediately went on MySpace and changed my screen name to "Combative" to be ironic. Well, the irony of that is that it was the single most combative thing I could have done besides calling Rick and telling him to eff off. (Especially since Rick is on my friends list.) So I'm starting to think there might be some truth to it, and it's a hard thing to accept. But acceptance is the first step.

Last night, I was out with Jo, Bergle, and another friend, and we got into a discussion about tipping. It quickly deteriorated from a discussion to a heated debate between Jo and me. (Bergle, wise man that he is, opted to stay out of it!)

I found myself getting really ticked with Jo because she wouldn't admit that she might be wrong about how much the average tipper leaves. She claimed that it was 12 - 14%, and I argued that it was 18%. She was making the point that when she was a server, she usually made about 14%. I was arguing that, when I was serving, I used to pull in about 18 - 20%. This "discussion" went on and on and on with no resolution.

But how could there be? Here I was getting pissed because Jo wouldn't concede that I was right, but at the same time, I wasn't even considering the possibility that maybe SHE was right. Or that we were both right, and it really just depends on where you work. She had worked in places that catered to teenagers and a much more "mature" crowd (read as: OLD FARTS) here in Northern Virginia, while I had worked at places that catered to a 40-something crowd of regulars in a small town (and many of my customers knew my parents). If you've ever worked in the restaurant business, you probably already know that teenagers and people over 65, in general, aren't very good tippers. And people who know your parents are NOT going to stiff you. So really, we were both right.

This begs a question, however. What is REALLY the average amount that people tip on a restaurant meal? For me, the server starts out with a 20% tip. If they do a decent job of keeping my drink full, bringing me the things that I need, and keeping me informed if the kitchen is running behind, the will get 20%. If I have to chase them down for a drink refill or a bottle of ketchup, their tip will go down. If the service is really fantastic, I've been known to leave a 30 or 40% tip. And if the service is so bad that I feel inclined to leave less than 15%, I am probably going to end up talking to the manager before the meal is over . . . but I will still tip. And Jo pretty much has the same attitude about tipping as me.

But what do YOU consider the average tip? Most restaurants charge 18% gratuity on parties of 8 or more . . . is that the standard tipping rate?

And Jo . . . I'm sorry for being so combative. :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On a Love Lost . . .

Jo is in a bit of a panic this morning worrying about the "what if's" in life because of a post on I Now Pronounce You. It has gotten me thinking about what happens when you lose someone, especially if that someone is THE One.

I'm going to lay bare the "Story of Helen" for you folks who don't know me. I come from a good home in a small town. I have wonderful (if overprotective) parents who are still married, and a brother who has always been my best friend, even if I don't get to see him that often. All in all, I have lived a charmed life. My biggest problems through the years have been my insecurity and poor decision-making skills.

When I was in college, I met and fell in love with a guy named Mark. (And no, this is one name that I haven't changed.) Mark was a transfer to JMU from New York, and was just what I needed in my life.

When I was at JMU, I spent my first year wanting to transfer because I was miserable and lonely. My sophomore year, I started making more friends, but I also started drinking a lot, and doing things that I am not particularly proud of. I did quite a lot of those things, got myself in some bad situations, and I'm pretty lucky that I came out of it all relatively unscathed. As my junior year started, I met Mark, and it didn't take me long to realize that this guy was something special. But, like so many of the good things in life, you can't really appreciate them until they are gone.

To say that I was an emotional mess in college (and the few years that followed) is pretty much the understatement of the century. I was so insecure about losing Mark to another girl that I was utterly psychotic about it. I went through some pretty dark times, and despite the fact that everyone else our age was out having a good time, he stayed with me while I cried for days on end. And when I wasn't crying, I was in a rage about one thing or another. Quite frankly, I made his life a living hell. In all fairness though, when things were good, they were really good. I guess that's why he put up with me for so long.

Mark, however, realized something that took me a long time to figure out: As long as I was with him, no matter what he did, I wasn't going to change. So he walked away. I was devastated, because when he left that last time I knew I wasn't going to see him again. And a little part of me died.

But don't worry kids . . . despite its rocky start, this isn't a tragedy I'm sharing with you. Because that little part of me that died was the weak part. Think of it as natural selection for the soul. For the first time in my life, I was truly alone. For the first time, I had to stand on my own two feet and make it. And I did. I wasn't necessarily tap dancing through my days, but I was getting up, going to work, hanging out with friends, and laughing from time to time.

Then I met Mikey. Yes, the famous "Tall Glass of Crazy" guy whose name has been changed to protect his identity. Do you know the best way to cure you of your past psychotic/ needy/ annoying/ cunty behavior? A little role reversal, my friend. This time around, I was filling the role played by Mark, and Mikey was playing me. All of the crap that I had put Mark through the first time around was suddenly painfully clear to me. But I tried to make it work. And I failed (well, "failed" isn't exactly the right word). I realized the same thing that Mark had: you can't change other people, they have to change themselves.

I'm 31 years old now. I'm single. There is no house with a white picket fence, no husband, no kids. (I do have a dog though, so there is that small victory!) But you know what? Despite the occasional bad day, I like my life. I'm happy. I laugh far more than I cry, I have great friends, and I'm independent. And when the Next One comes around, I'll be ready for him in a way that I was never ready for him when I was younger.

And to Mark, if you ever happen to stumble across this blog . . . Thank you. You saved my life. And although you have no place in my future, there will always be a place for you in my heart.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Attention all animal lovers out there . . . if you feed your cat or dog wet food, please be sure you go here to read a press release about a MAJOR pet food recall affecting Iams, Eukanuba, and tons of different store brands (including Ol'Roy, which is what Smelly eats)!
Your animal's life could depend on your knowledge of this recall. A complete list of affected brands is available here.

And She Ran . . .

C-Reg had another race this weekend for the Backyard Burn series. Now, I do want all of you to know that C-Reg takes this whole thing quite seriously. So seriously, in fact, that she went home at 9 PM on St. Patrick's Day (and Pita's birthday) without drinking a drop of alcohol so that she would be ready for her race in the morning. That's dedication.

And her dedication paid off . . . she came in FIRST this time. In fact, she totally kicked the ass of the girl who won last week (by well over a minute!) and now she is first overall for the women!! Go, C-Reg!! Keep up the good work.

The 10 Best Movie Performances by Kids

Pajiba had an article a while ago about the best performances by children (under the age of 13) in movies. While I agreed with some of the choices, I have my own ideas about who should be in the top 10. It has taken me a long time to get around to it, but I have finally come up with my own list.

In no particular order they are:

Christian Bale: Empire of the Sun-

First of all, if you have not yet seen this movie, you need to rent it this weekend. In my opinion, it's the best movie Spielberg has ever made.

Synopsis: Empire of the Sun is basically about a spoiled British kid (James Graham) living in Shanghai trying to survive after being separated from his parents after the Japanese invade. He is eventually captured and put in an internment camp. The movie is poignant and the cinematography is amazing. (I love the scene where he is in the stadium with all the valuables that were taken from private homes.)

Christian Bale takes you from hating Jim, to laughing with/at him, to being utterly heartbroken for him. You will roll your eyes, laugh, cry, cheer, and then cry some more.

Like Christian Bale? Check him out in The Machinist.

Macaulay Culkin: The Good Son -

Forget about those stupid Home Alone movies. They were made to get families with kids to the movie theaters and they did a great job of that (and of keeping Joe Pesci working).

Synopsis: After his mother's death, a young boy, Mark (Elijah Wood), goes to stay with his aunt and uncle while his dad goes on a business trip. Mark makes fast friends with his cousin Henry (played by Culkin). But after seeing Henry in action, Mark realizes that Henry is truly evil, and has to keep Henry from hurting others, because no one believes Mark's stories about Henry.

Macaulay Culkin is utterly convincing as a depraved psycho. Seriously . . . if I ever ran into Mac Culkin I would probably run for my life. In the final scene where the boys are hanging over the cliff and the mother has to decide whether to save her son or her nephew . . . wow.

Like Macaulay Culkin? Check out Saved!

Elijah Wood & Thora Birch: Paradise -

First of all, let me forewarn you about this movie: The two main adult leads are Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. But you shouldn't let that stop you from seeing this movie.

Synopsis: Willard Young (Wood) goes to stay with his mother's friend Lily (Griffith) and her husband Ben (Johnson) after his father runs off with another woman. Lily and Ben are having marital problems which started after the death of their son. Willard naturally brings the couple back together by reminding them how much they love each other, and they all live happily ever after.

Cheesy, right? Not really. Elijah Wood, who was only 8 or 9 when the movie was made, already showed a great deal of range as an actor. And his co-star, a very precocious Thora Birch (as Billie Pike) is the perfect counterbalance to Willard's pensive, introverted personality. She is nosy, bossy, and just kind of a brat, but at the same time she is a vulnerable, wounded child who really just wants someone to love her unconditionally.

Like Elijah Wood? Check him out in The War, The Ice Storm, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Like Thora Birch? Check her out in American Beauty and The Hole.

Anna Pacquin: The Piano -

This is another must-see movie. Forget for a moment that we are talking about performances by children. Holly Hunter kicked ass in this movie. Oh, and as an added incentive, Harvey Keitel went full frontal.

Synopsis: Ada (Hunter), a mute Englishwoman, moves to New Zealand for an arranged marriage along with her young daughter, Flora (Pacquin), and her prized piano. Her new husband then sells her piano to a neighbor, George (Keitel), who Ada then begins having an affair with. Drama ensues.

Flora (to use Jo's word) is cunty. But when you look at what she has been through, you kind of can't blame her. She is the sole link between her mother and the speaking world; she is hauled off to a strange land; she has no friends her own age. But at the same time, she and her mother have a very close relationship, although not in a traditional mother-daughter sense.

Like Anna? Check her out in A Walk on the Moon and Almost Famous.

Abigail Breslin: Little Miss Sunshine -

Synopsis: Olive Hoover (Breslin), a chubby, glasses-wearing, little girl wants nothing more than to be in the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant, and her father (Greg Kinear) has convinced her that she can win, much to her mother's (Toni Colette) chagrin. The family takes off on the road for the pageant and hilarity (and tragedy) ensues.

If this movie was nothing but the last 10 minutes, it would be well worth the cost of admission to go see it. But when you throw in this horribly flawed cast of characters, and the dynamics between them all, you get one of the best movies I've seen in quite a while. And Olive is a jewel . . . this is a child with no fear (or is she just completely oblivious?!) who is somehow able to bring her dysfunctional family together for a common goal. By the time she was about 30 seconds into her dance finale, I found myself cheering aloud for her, because you just want this little underdog to come out on top.

Like Abby? Check her out in Signs.

Rory Culkin: Mean Creek -

Synopsis: Rory plays Sam, a quiet kid who is being bullied by George. When Sam admits this to his older brother, he and some friends come up with a plan to get their revenge on George. But what was supposed to be a prank goes sour, things quickly start to fall apart, and George ends up dead.

There is one word to describe Rory's performance in this movie: riveting. If you haven't seen this movie, you need to check it out.

Like Rory? You can check him out along with Abigail in Signs.

Miko Hughes: Jack the Bear -

This is the best movie you've never seen.

Synopsis: An alcoholic single father (Danny Devito) struggles to raise his two young sons following the death of his wife. The oldest son, Jack (played brilliantly by Robert J. Steinmiller Jr. ) is left to care for his younger brother, Dylan (Hughes), and grows to resent him. But then Dylan is abducted by a neighbor and life gets even more complicated for this family.

You may not recognize the name, but you know Miko Hughes well. He was Gage in Pet Sematary, Simon in Mercury Rising, and Joseph ("Mr. Kimble are you all right?") in Kindergarten Cop.

Like Miko? Check him out in Pet Sematary, Kindergarten Cop, and Mercury Rising.

Natalie Portman: The Professional (AKA Leon) -

When I first saw this movie, it was obvious that Natalie Portman was going places. This would not be the last time we saw this little girl.

Synopsis: Leon (Jean Reno) is a professional hit man who lives down the hall from Mathilda (Portman), a precocious young girl with a potty mouth and a pack-a-day smoking habit. One day, while Mathilda is at the store, dirty cops come in and kill her parents (who are drug dealers) and siblings. Luckily, through the intervention of Leon, Mathilda narrowly escapes also being killed. Mathilda then decides that she is going to train under Leon to be a hit man as well so that she can get revenge on the cops who killed her family.

Her performance was so raw and emotional (think Jodi Foster in Taxi Driver) that it's easy to forget that she was only 11 years old when the movie was made.
Like Natalie? Check her out in Closer and Garden State.

And I know that I said that these were in no particular order, but I had to save the best for last:

Victoire Thivisol: Ponette -

Sometimes, when you are watching a good movie, a scene or a moment will move you to tears. And sometimes the emotions jump out of the screen, maul and emotionally rape you, and leave you a blubbering, mascara-smeared mess on the floor. That's Ponette.

Synopsis: A 4-year-old little girl (Thivisol), after the death of her mother, tries to bring her back to life through chants and deals with God, while at the same time withdrawing from her family and those around her.

You may say that you don't really like movies with subtitles. Honestly, I'd rather watch my movies than read them, too. But you don't even need the subtitles with this movie. Everything you need to understand is right there in Victoire's eyes.

Like Victoire? Check her out in Chocolat.