Monday, August 30, 2010

And somehow it's still dirty

It was just a little more than a week ago that my house was cleaned (well, sort of) and wouldn't you know, it's dirty again. Today, after taking the children - the ones that really make this house dirty to begin with, BY THE WAY - as soon as I finished taking them to school, and running errands, I came home and looked around, dismayed at the aftermath of a weekend spent hanging around the house. My friend, who was keeping me company today while I was running errands, immediately began straightening up. Because she knows the state of my house makes me crazy and Beause she knows I feel overwhelmed and depressed at the prospect of ever conquering it on my own. And in my mind, when people come over to hang out and instead start straightening the piles of art projects and magazines and junk mail, you know that you really should do something about the mess.

So a little while later, after I had dropped her off in the sanctity of her own (much cleaner) house, I returned home, bound and determined to get this house clean again.

I even took off my new pants - so I could get down on my hands and knees and really scrub stuff.

And an hour later, right after I had hosed out the fun room (which is painted and almost ready to be used again) and while I was sweeping the front porch, I realized that I had no pants on.

Mind you, I kept sweeping - but suddenly I was aware of the fact that I was indeed without pants in full view of the neighbors. And that I had just moments before been spraying the deck with the hose, also pants-less. It will come as no surprise to you that half of my neighbors really don't like me. The other half park in front of my house. So.

ANYWAY as I stood there in my nude colored lace thong I realized that A. From a distance I looked completely naked from the waist down and B. I should have just called and had someone come clean again. That I was - in every way - a total failure at cleaning my house. Not only was my house still dirty, but now I had offended my neighbors again, I was all sweaty from the effort of cleaning in the mid-day heat, and now also wet and streaked with mud from the hosing of the deck.
So I went right into the house and got online and started cruising the household help section of Craigslist (right after a quick glance at the "Best of" and "Missed Connections", natch) and I found a posting from yesterday - a woman who actually listed some references in her ad, and said she was thorough and had experience and I thought "hmmm." It didn't say where she lived, or how much she charged, but I liked her ad. Her name was Katy.

And so I emailed  her. Yes I did. Asked her to email me back with more info. And I felt instantly better. I stood up and practically skipped downstairs to get the mail (after putting some shorts on THANKYOUVERYMUCH).

And in my mailbox was a flyer that had been stuck in there at some point in the previous few minutes. Two sheets of paper, typed, with a business card stapled to the top and a note hand-written on the bottom. From Katy. Yes, the same Katy I had just emailed.
She's my neighbor.
I couldn't make this shit up.
I hope she didn't see me in my underwear. But then again, maybe she did, and that is exactly why she left me a note.......

Do Fun Stuff, and do good for others - fun music for the whole family, money for research.

Like a lot of people I have been following the blog Pacing The Panic Room for, gosh, about a year and a half now. I cannot for the life of me remember how I found it. I liked the photos, I liked reading about the pregnancy of Ryan's wife Cole as he was experiencing it as a first-time dad, and I loved the pictures of LB - the Littlest Buddy. I was curious, though, Ryan had alluded to some things they were experiencing with LB that seemed different from my own experiences raising Max and Lucy. And then I learned that there had been testing, and results of that testing, and finally: a diagnosis. Smith Magenis Syndrome - SMS. It's a relatively new discovery, this SMS, and it is early days yet in terms of research and general knowledge amongst the medical profession.
To raise funds for SMS research and awareness, Ryan put together an album of children's music - kids music for parents, actually - that I am really looking forward to sharing with my kids today. It's gonna be LB day around here - he's turning 6, and this is a big, huge, crazy internet birthday party.

Everyone loves a party, so you should come join us !

100% of the proceeds from this album will benefit an organization called PRISMS:

All of the information about the album can be found here:

The album is on iTunes.

Give it a listen, and consider buying the album for one of many reasons I could come up with (here are just a few):
-You will be supporting research into SMS, and perhaps improving the care and quality of life for many children - including LB.
-You will be supporting new and emerging artists - from the graphic and web designers to the musicians.
-It's unique, and would make a great gift.
-You have listened to enough versions of "Wheels on the Bus". Let's move on. Bigger and Better. New and Different. How will your children ever learn to appreciate music if you play KidzBop garbage for them?

My disclaimer: I wasn't compensated for writing this. I am not affiliated with PRISMS, Pacing the Panic Room, or any of the artists involved. I am recommending this to you because I appreciate that Ryan is getting off his ass and trying to do some good for the benefit of many. So check out and feel free to spread the word. Buy the album, make a donation, or just become aware of SMS and you will have done something too.

P.S. Do Fun Stuff was the number one Children's album on iTunes today. Yay for good music, good causes, and great birthdays.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunny Sunday: Things I love - loungewear edition

A few weeks ago I was wandering through our little village with friends, and I found these pants hanging on a rack. Just.............hanging there.

They should have been in the front window with a spotlight pointed directly at them, or perhaps in the center of a beam of light straight from heaven. A choir of angels sang as I pulled them out and held them up to my cheek. SO soft. Sooooooo soft. Soooooffffftttttttt. MMMmmmmm. Oooooohhh. The salesgirl approached hesitantly. She didn't want to ruin what was obviously a moment. "Um, do you want to try those on?"


So I put them on and of course they were perfect and I never wanted to take them off. But really, buying high-end sweatpants? No. I cannot justify buying sweatpants at a boutique. That would be silly. Ridiculous. Decadent.

I went back and got them last week.

I had to have them. I couldn't live without them. I literally thought of them every day. EVERY DAY. Until at last, I succumbed to their siren song, scrounged up the money, and raced back to the store - giddy in my planned excess. And really, it was as wonderful as I knew it would be. But apparently, they are not suitable for every occasion. According to SOME PEOPLE. On Friday we were having a lunchdate, my darling and I. "Sami," I asked "should I wear a dress, or jeans, or these?" as I clutched my beloved sweatpants to my body, loathe to miss any opportunity that I might indulge. "Um, well. The short dress. I mean, I like the jeans, but....yeah, the short dress."

You will notice, of course, that my beloved made no mention of option number three.


I was afraid that the pants were not as magical as I thought (hoped?) they were. Perhaps only I could see the beam of golden light they were surrounded in. So I put on the dress, and went about my day. But then, THEN I came home. AND I PUT ON THESE PANTS. And at some point Sami came up behind me and I said "Do these not look as good as they feel?" And he was very appreciative. And I said "Get your grubby hands off my new sweatpants. Why must you grope?"

He explained: First, those are not sweatpants. Sweatpants don't look like that. Second, there are, apparently, different ways in which men appreciate beauty. Either they see it and want it and have to touch it or try it out............or they can appreciate it from a distance - like at a museum. No touchy-touchy. These pants are apparently not museum-quality. So you have been warned. Although the truckload of boys who hooted at my ass as I walked the dog yesterday may feel differently. You should check with them.

And as Sami mentioned, these sweatpants are not sweatpants at all. You should not use these for exercising or (shudder) sweating in. They are by Indah, the style is "OSO" and the color I got is "coco". The Indah site is loaded with flash so my crappy internet connection takes forever to load it - sorry, no links, you are on your own trying to find them online. For what it's worth, I bought mine at Pink by Nature in Makawao, and they had a few pairs left in very pale shell pink. I bought the last "coco" colored,  but the owner, Desiree, may be able to help you track down a pair if you are so inclined. I adore Desiree. But not as much as these pants. I fucking LOVE these pants.
(note the ray of light that they are always surrounded by)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And then some of the people, they are not so beautiful

It funny how you can have 1/4 the people, and just as much trouble - much earlier in the night.

Sometimes, the stars are aligned. Sometimes, the mood is off. Sometimes, the crowd is weird. Sometimes, Willie Nelson decides to play at the bar down the street. And all of the sudden what was expected to be a fun and busy night, turns into something that no one anticipated, and everyone would have sooner avoided.

It starts with a problem common to many in the food service industry. In some countries, tipping just doesn't happen. The gratuity is part of the bill. You pay what the check says to pay, and you are done. You don't leave any extra. Would you throw a $1 on the counter at McDonalds after they handed you a burger? No, probably not. In some countries, there is no difference between buying a burger at a drive thru, or buying a cocktail in a bar, and so there is a certain part of our customer base that just simply does not tip. Sad but true.

Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum. The Good Time Charley who is buying drinks, leaving huge tips, whispering in girls ears, and leading rounds of shots and beer chasers as he falls slowly to pieces. By the end of the night, the formerly smooth curl of his forelock is standing straight up off his forehead like an aged Jimmy Neutron, he is mumbling to himself with one eye closed as he sits alone at the bar, abandoned by his fellow revelers. He has stopped throwing large bills on the counter and is now hesitantly doling out a credit card for every round he buys each new group of pretty girls who he attempts to keep around him with the free drinks and entertaining conversation. For the last round, he gave us a card, and then took both receipts home with him. If there was one last epic tip he was keeping it a secret.

But it's not all about the money. Oh no. Sometimes, you take one look at a new customer and politely take advantage of the sign every establishment has clearly posted somewhere: "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason." Some barkeeps are nicer than others however. Willing to give even the sketchiest crew a chance to behave themselves and join in the party. Sometimes it works out.......usually it does not. And as it turns out, sometimes you find one of them about to take a leak in the walk-in freezer.

At the end of the night, the tally was not as exciting as it might have been, but what can you do - when competing against Willie Nelson in a one-horse town, you just have to stay strong, keep the glasses full, and watch the freezer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

About that fried rice............

Seriously. I cannot even keep my thoughts straight long enough to cover the information contained in the title.

Fried Rice. I forgot about the fried rice. (sigh)

While I sat at my desk struggling to come up with the word "curtains" I was eating a bowl of reheated fried rice and considering, carefully, what to do with my afternoon. Now that the kids are in school my days are simultaneously wide-open, and decidedly routine. While I *could* do just about anything (within reason and within the constraints of time and place) what I choose to do is another matter entirely.

This week has involved lying in bed, reading, and eating. And eating. A veritable tour de pantry, in fact. I am rooting around in there, discovering tins of pate that a friend bought back from France long ago - long enough to keep me from eating it from fear of botulism or something equally quaint. Which is how I came to be eating some fried rice I discovered in a box in the fridge. I was hungry, I was foraging for food in my fridge which is overflowing with fucking CONDIMENTS but unless I am looking for a nice bowl of honey mustard or maybe some blue cheese dressing I wasn't finding much in the way of sustenance.

So I have a new rule: NO MORE CONDIMENTS.
And also: No more random foodstuffs.

If I don't have an actual plan to use it, I am not buying it. Which means no more cases of black beans, no more 3 packs of costco-size ketchup (even if it DOES cost less than buying one small bottle at the local grocery) no more fucking MUSTARD because I am not exaggerating when I tell you I have no less than 5 kinds of mustard in my refrigerator right now, all of questionable age and origin.

And so I take my leave, to continue eating my way through house and home, fridge and freezer, cupboard and pantry. I saw some BBQ sauce in my reconnaisance, and I believe I have a plan for it.

Old Fried Rice and Dirty Curtains

I just totally forgot the word "curtains". I was sitting here, staring at my filthy dirty curtains, and couldn't for the life of me remember what they were CALLED. "Carpets?" I thought to myself. "No....blinds? No.....drapes? Well, sort of but that would be a heavier fabric I think.......huh. What's the word?" I literally sat there staring at them in total confusion for a good 3 minutes before "curtains" floated back in my head and I snatched it and typed it down before I forgot it again.

That is the kind of week it's been.

When last we spoke, I was in search of more awesome and a long nap. I got the nap, but haven't quite found the awesome yet. I have my eye out for it, though. When last we spoke I was also developing one hell of a migraine, and it kicked my ass but good, let me tell you. I was minding my own business, sucking down a bloody mary and eating a fancy Monday morning "back to school breakfast" with some friends.....and the next thing I know, I had a little twinge. Just a tiny little "ouch".

Tuesday it was more of a "thud". Tuesday night I was puking, Wednesday I was at the clinic at 9:15am begging for drugs. Which I got. I think I spoke to every pharmacy tech and advice nurse available between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in a desperate attempt to get my prescription (which I had foolishly used up) refilled. I haven't been online save for a few quick emails in almost 48 hours and I realized exactly why I am always feeling so stressed out.

The amount of *stuff* I deal with and sort through and read and check in on, on the internets, is stupid. ANYONE would be overwhelmed. Anyone would feel they spent most of their time online. Because they do. I did. Apparently.

But not anymore.

I am cutting the cord. Or rather, the wireless connection. I am going to write here, as often as I always have. But my one major decision thusfar in the pursuit of awesome is:
I am not going to find it online.

I am not going to spend my days sitting in a quiet, empty house, online. This is my solemn vow.

And with that, I am off to read a book and sip some tea and immerse myself in the year 1777 which I am finding almost as interesting as my life in 2010. Almost.
Until the next dispatch I remain,


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Letting go, just a little bit. Just to see how it feels.

2010 has been a year full of adventure. I have traveled half way around the world, and reconnected with old friends and said goodbye to good friends who moved away. I have quit a job, started a new job, quit that job, been fired from writing for a website for free, then been rehired by the website AND returned to my original job. I have had my children in public school, Catholic school, homeschool, and then finally found a private school that would agree to be associated with us. (Which was hard, actually. Shocking, I know, that an upstanding private school wouldn't want to deal with a mother who tends bar until three am and then writes obscenities on facebook and a blog for hours on end. They just couldn't handle that much awesome.) I had two dogs and then just one dog. I found my skates and a bunch of women who kick ass and give hickies. I lived in the same house with my mother for a month and we are still speaking to each other. Sami ripped the ceiling out of our living room, and painted the fun room, and finished the patio, and we're still talking to each other. I got a hole in my nose and quit smoking and a Whole Foods opened up 20 minutes away.

Life changing, all of it.

Yes, it's been exciting. I'm fucking exhausted.

SO. Something has to give.

First, I stopped going to Whole Foods every day. That shit is expensive.

And now I am going to spend a little time figuring out how to be me. But, you know, better. I might even shower every day. No promises, but it's a start. And I'm fully open to suggestions for things I can do to dial up the awesome to, like, an 11. Maybe a 12.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No matter how beautiful you are, it turns out your shit still stinks.

After a really outrageous Saturday night, we all staggered out of the restaurant at about 3am. I left first, almost too tired to drive - I didn't stay for a shift drink, or a smoke in the parking lot. I just couldn't. As I left, a patrol car was cruising by, and they slowed and watched me pull out, then rolled past the windows of the cafe, shining their light inside on the staff at the end of the bar.

That'll teach 'em to hang out after work.

A few hours later, the morning crew arrived to set up for breakfast. And they noticed right away that something was not quite right.

There was a smell.

An odd smell.

Was there a garbage can that hadn't been taken out? Was there a dead rat in one fo the traps? The restaurant (and I have worked in a lot of restaurants, so I know what I am talking about) is very clean. Really, really clean. The kitchen is spotless. Everything is put in the cooler at night, the entire place is scrubbed down, all trash goes out, all dishes are washed before the door is locked and the alarm is set. So there were only a few options to suss out in locating the source of the stench. Which is why it only took a few minutes for them to rule out the kitchen as the source of the smell, and expand their search.

And they struck gold.

The toilets were overflowing.

Something had happened. Something terrible and awful and bad had happened. We don't know when it happened, we're not sure if the toilets overflowed toward the end of the night and the beautiful people just kept using them, unwilling to notify us of something so distasteful, or if a toilet got backed up at some point and just kept running after we closed the doors and went home. I for one can't believe that anyone would be able to take a dump in a bar with that many people and that much noise. I have to have monastic silence, a People magazine and about 30 minutes to really get the job done.

But apparently that is just me - however it transpired, it happened. And it was bad.

However, two hours later the shop vac was rinsed and drying in the sunshine, and we had the cleanest bathrooms in town - disinfected with bleach from the floor to halfway up the wall. The toilet was scrubbed so hard the enamel got scratched. We were once again spotlessly clean.

4 hours later, the owner of the store next door came in. Turns out, our bathrooms weren't the only area of the building affected by the hazmat conditions.

Thank god that shop vac has wheels.

The Po Po shut us down

Last night was, in the words of everyone I spoke with, ridiculous.


The restaurant I work at is located in a small sleepy town right on the ocean. People live to surf and surf to live, rising at dawn to get a head start on the lineup at Hookipa. We go to bed early here - everything is pretty much shuttered by 10pm except for one bar that is open until 2 every night. And then there's us. We stay open late one or two nights a week, but for the most part we are focused on serving food, not running a nightclub. However, the event last night was so epic - so completely and totally nuts - that we will either try to make it happen every weekend from now on, or die trying. This was Extreme Hometown Bartending at it's finest. A nutty mix of locals. regulars, visitors, and fine young things all pursuing one common purpose - to dance and drink until the lights came up and it was time to move the party elsewhere or stagger home.

At one point, I was standing behind the bar with 5 people shouting at me. The Beautiful People were out in full force, 3 deep all the way down the bar, waving cash and credit cards and calling my name. It was simultaneously very rock star, but also not as awesome as it sounds like it should have been. Trust me, I know that it sounds good, to have gorgeous men and women grabbing my hand as I walked by, pressing money into my palm and leaning forward to grab my head and pull it toward them so they could whisper sweet nothings in my ear. Only it wasn't sweet nothings, it was drink orders. And they weren't whispering, they were screaming at the top of their lungs.

We were out of glasses. We were out of ice. We were out of Patron and running low on RedBull - two key ingredients to a succesful night behind the bar. I couldn't find the cranberry juice. Or my bottle opener. All of the cocktail shakers had vanished. And I just stood there, for a minute, trying to collect my thoughts and formulate some kind of plan.

"This is just silly." I said, to no one in particular.

All around me, the crowd was shouting and jostling. The music was thudding. A fight broke out. Someone handed me the bottom half of a broken glass, and for an instant I was more upset that we had lost another precious glass, than concerned about someone getting hurt. But I cleared my head, made eye contact with my manager, and made a few furious gestures which brought him running. "GLASS!" I shouted, holding up the shards. He took off running for the broom.

Then, of course, someone got hurt.

Sami was keeping an eye on the bar last night from the back of the room, having taken on the role of security for the night's event, when a girl grabbed his arm and started shouting in his ear. My hoochie radar was on full blast with my handsome husband out mingling with the hot surfer girls. Girls are forever trying to grab at him or get his attention, which is charming and amusing........sometimes. Other times, I have to pull the possessive girl bit, where I walk right up and let him put an arm around me while I watch the girls expression change from "sexy flirt" to "oh shit". So when the pretty girl approached my husband, and I looked up to see her leaning in and talking animatedly, I started paying attention. All I have to say is, it's a good thing her girlfriend was bleeding if she's gonna be touching my husband like that. So he went to fetch bandaids and gauze, and I turned my attention to the guy who picked up the three beers he had just bought, and then promptly dropped one on the concrete floor. I found Dave in the crowd and furiously waved my arms in the air, pointing towards the broken glass/bleeding girl/drunk guy situation we had brewing in the corner.

The evening was coming apart at the seams.

The floor was littered with trash and broken glass. People were standing shoulder to shoulder. The music was thudding away, there was a woman with a mic singing over the house music, the dance floor was packed and pulsing to the beat pounding out of the speakers.

I was now totally out of Red Bull.

And then in the next moment all of the lights came on and the music went off and I was thinking "Oh My Gosh I didn't even hear last call!" And then I thought "Wait a minute, I'm the bartender. I call last call. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?" And then suddenly the two girls working the door checking IDs and collecting the door charge are husting everyone out, and I am trying to get people to pay their tabs and someone handed in a missing purse and the broken glass was glittering and my ears were ringing and it seemed like I had spots flashing across my eyes...........but it turns out those were the lights from the police cruiser parked out front.

We done got shut down, folks.

They threatened to arrest Dave, who thankfully avoided detainment. He would never have survived the night in custody - he was wearing his new skinny jeans and he must have needed vaseline to get them on - I can't imagine how his pants would have gone over in a cell on a Saturday night. I think he would have been the most popular guy in jail, with his shiny poly shirt and purple skin-tight jeans, straight from the club with a good buzz on and some adrenaline flowing from the fights and the music and the crowd and the chaos. Yes, it's better that they let hm go, cut us all some slack, and hey - for what it's worth - the police sure do help to clear out the lingering crowd. As soon as the guns and uniforms arrive on the scene, suddenly everyone has somewhere else they need to be urgently. Except Dave - you just can't move that fast with pants that tight. You'll chafe.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunny Sunday: Things I Love

Alright, this isn't a specific item/brand/company.........but I still want to talk about it.

We needed to paint the fun room. The fun room is a screen porch off the kitchen - a totally illegal structure tacked on by a previous owner that we have used for dining, playing, art projects, parties, and as the location of our Christmas tree. We love the room, and use it daily. When we moved in, it was painted a blue-gray, with chocolate brown floors and doors. Dark colors for a screen porch on Maui, but bearable. However. It was matte paint, so it was dull and always seemed dirty. That I couldn't live with. And it only took me 5 years to paint over it, which means I have been thinking about this for FIVE LONG YEARS.

I had no idea what color I wanted to paint the room, so it was easy to put it off. There isn't really any furniture in there, so I wasn't trying to coordinate anything. I was starting from scratch, which can be overwhelming. Numerous trips to stores to look at paint chips and color wheels did not help. I didn't have any idea what I wanted. That might be because I just didn't really care that much - I just wanted something lighter. Something with a glossier finish that I could wipe clean with a sponge. Something............not brown.

On our last trip to the paint department, I had an idea. We have done it before, when a decision couldn't be made easily, always with much celebration at the results.

I went to the "whoops" shelf.

Almost every paint department has one. Buckets of paint that were returned because the color wasn't quite what the customer wanted. Or they had bought too much. Or they didn't like the finish. Or they decided not to paint after all. Whatever the reason, the paint was already mixed. In order to get it sold, the store has marked it down to half price - or less.

Which is how I ended up walking out with 4 gallons of paint at $10 a gallon. Three were the exact same color, more than enough to paint the fun room a bright sunshine-y yellow. The guy in the paint department spotted me right away, hovering over the shelf in the back corner. He realized that I was wavering.......that I was weak........that I was definitely in the market for some whoops paint to help with my decision making.....and that he had a golden opportunity on his hands to get this paint out of the store.

And he did.

Oh boy, did he.

Now we have enough yellow paint to cover the walls of the fun room 3 times over.

I even gave a bucket to Willow for the jungle house.

Not only was the paint really cheap, it was *good* paint. It's a nice color. It has a satin finish. And choosing my color from the 2 dozen options on the whoops shelf instead of the 3000+ color options in the color chips and wheels and brochures made my decision so much easier.

And THAT is worth loving on a Sunny Sunday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ya gotta love the enthusiasm

This morning we were driving into town, and there was a guy on the side of the road. He had a beat-up pickup truck, and leaning up against the side, and on the ground around it, were a selection of tools, lawn equipment, wood, paint, and assorted gear. He was holding a sign:

"I want to work.
I need a job."

If I had been able to get over to the shoulder, I would have hired him on the spot, just because.

I think that is the thing that is affecting me most about all of the people that we know who are currently unemployed, or underemployed, or (like us) employed but petrified of losing our jobs. EVERYONE wants to work. No one wants unemployment, no one is looking for a handout. Everyone is actively pursuing every lead, handing out resumes, sending emails, making calls, and now they are even standing on the side of the highway with a handmade sign, hoping that someone somewhere will hire them. Even for a day. Or a few hours.

And while I am thrilled to work - and want to work - and hope to work continuously...........I am afraid to take a day off to spend with my kids. I am nervous about taking a weekend off next month to celebrate my anniversary with a  romantic getaway. Beggars cannot be choosers, see. Because sometimes, no matter how hard you work, it's just the luck of the draw that finds you bringing home a paycheck or standing on the side of the road holding a sign.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's not that I'm hard to please. Well, yes, upon reflection, I guess it is that exactly.


I had someone come clean the house for us yesterday. I would say "I had someone come clean the house for me" because as I mentioned, I am the only one who cleans the house. But we all live here, and the whole house was cleaned for our use and enjoyment. So "us" it is. The house was cleaned. For us. Yesterday. It was my Cinderella moment. A fairy godmother was going to wave her wand, and my house would be clean. And I would only have to work 2 extra shifts at the cafe to pay for it ! YAY ! TOTALLY WORTH IT, I had decided.
I am a waitress. I clean up after people for a living and I am certainly in no position to have a maid or a housekeeper BUT. I don't want to clean up after my own family on my day off because then I am literally cleaning all the fucking time. So. I hired someone to clean my house. I swallowed my pride, and found the money, and paid someone to clean up after me.

There are some things that are easily overlooked in my day to day cleaning. Little hidden corners, dustbunnies under the beds, etc. So I made a list - a very clear list. It had 5 things on it. Things that were important to me. I showed this list to the guy who pulled up on his moped with a vacuum strapped on to the back with a bungee cord. (Gosh, I hope that guy was in the neighborhood to clean my house and not just out for a joyride.) I brought him inside, and showed him the places, and gave him the list of Things That Were Important.

Not on that list? Lifting every piece of Lego off of my son's lego table and dusting underneath. But he did that. And safe in the confidence that he would apply that attention to detail to the items on the list, I went off to the grocery store.

And I learned something. I learned that when someone cleans my house, I come home and run around checking to see if they cleaned the places I had listed that I wanted cleaned. I walked in the door, dropped my groceries, hit the ground and stuck my arm under a cabinet to check for dust.

There was a lot of dust under there.

I went into the hallway and closed the door behind me. Lots of dust there too.

I walked down to the bathroom. The tub wasn't clean.

And I got really, really sad.

And then I dragged out my cleaning supplies, and went down my list, and cleaned the places I had specifically written down:
Behind the doors
Under the furniture
The tub
The shower grout

Not major stuff, but things that were exactly the sort of things I wanted to have someone else take care of. Details. The little things that add up to a truly clean house. I don't feel like a princess. I'm still Cinderella.

God I suck. I am sitting here complaining about my maid. That? Is a first. Me and Naomi should hang out sometime.

I was gonna tell you about hanging the drapes with a stapler, but they're still in a pile on the floor

This house is chaos. There are piles of laundry (clean!) piles of toys (not mine!) piles of magazines (mine!) papers and bills and shoes and furniture and dust. Oh the dust.

We're all sneezing and blowing our noses like crazy and while I would like to blame that on the burning of sugar cane, or the dry dusty weather, I have to face FACTS. It might be my housekeeping. Or lack thereof.

So I did it.

I have talked about it and debated it and wished and dreamed and scrimped and saved and worked extra shifts and dammit............I hired someone to clean the house.

I am waving the white flag.

This may just seem like a bunch of excuses and justifications, and I guess it is, but the root of the matter is my husband and I both work. My husband and I both clean. The house is still a mess. We are doing it wrong.

The irony: I used to clean houses for a living. I am very good at it, actually. Fast and efficient and thorough. Customers would request me specifically. I enjoyed my work, listening to the radio or daytime TV while I cleaned and polished and scrubbed and mopped. Start on the top floor and work your way down. Start with the bathroom sink, end by mopping yourself out of the room. The was a pattern in every house, a rhythm and a strategy for making sure you cleaned top to bottom, back to front.

Cleaning my own house is a different story.

It doesn't get done. It takes forever. I get interrupted. I get bored. I get the mail. I get disgusted with myself. I get overwhelmed. I have better things to do. I have things I would rather be doing. I don't want to do it. It's too hot, it's too early, it's too late, it's never enough, it's not fair. My husband has cleaned the toilet three times in our marriage. We've had 4 houses, so that means in one of the houses HE NEVER CLEANED A TOILET. 13 years of being the toilet cleaner in the relationship, means I have been cleaning a lot of fucking toilets.

I'm not bitter. Yes I am.

Added to the fact that it makes me miserable and I feel like I do the majority of the cleaning (though he excells at the putting away, thank god) I am also working late hours, and getting up early with the kids in a daze. Or not getting up early and then feeling guilty and ignoring the cleaning to spend time with them.

And so. The house is dirty, and we are at an impasse.

I am not going to be the one to clean it. I am not living alone in this house. I am not the only one with access to the vacuum, or cleaning products. And I hate it.

The idea developed slowly. I don't change my own oil. I could - but I don't. I don't wash my own car. I don't paint my own house. I don't even bathe the damn dog. I work hard, and happily pay some of that hard-earned money so that someone who loves what they do can do what I hate. Everyone is happy.

I am my own stimulous package.
You're welcome.
Vote Daffodil in 2012.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to clean before the housecleaner gets here. My house is a mess. How embarrassing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 2 of home improvements. I think we're making it worse, actually.

Today we planted the garden. And when I say "planted the garden" what I mean is, we threw some seeds in the ground today and something may or may not come of it, and none of us really give a shit at this point.

At 9am this morning I insisted that the children stop watching Narnia and go outside. They seemed at a loss. Why in god's name would they go outside? What is there to do out there? And gosh, it's just so horrible outside. In the yard. With the grass and the dog and the playhouse. In Hawaii. What a terrible idea.

From behind the mountain of laundry I was tackling, I suggested that they pull the old dead plants out of our raised garden beds, and plant some of the seeds we bought last week. And they certainly perked right up at that suggestion, in fact when I came into the living room moments later, they were running outside in their pajamas pulling on gardening gloves and fighting over the pruning shears.

"Wait, waitwaitwait WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

"Uh. Gardening?" Max looked at me like I was losing my mind.
"Like you told us to." Lucy piped up, barely disguising her disgust with my feeble, feeble mind.

"Not in your pajamas. Are you serious? Do you seriously think I meant for you to go out and dig in the garden in your pajamas?"

"YOU'RE in your pajamas." Max pointed out.

"Dude. I am always in my pajamas. I go grocery shopping in my pajamas. But I do not sleep in my pajamas. I wear them like clothes. You wear CLOTHES like clothes, and you sleep in your pajamas. You cannot wear your pajamas to garden, and then wear them to bed."

They both looked at me with their mouths hanging open. And really, who's to blame them. Even I don't understand the point I was trying to make.

"Just go get dressed."

So they dutifully ran back into the house. And then back out again, dressed in playclothes. I was in the garden. In my pajamas. Shut up.

We spent half an hour pulling up weeds. And dead corn stalks. And frizzled yellow cilantro. From the last time we tried to grow stuff. We pulled off the ground cover that had crept into the boxes during a subsequent period of neglect. We discussed which seeds would go in which planter. The dog tried to take a shit in one of the planters. Much yelling and stomping of feet commenced. The dog lifted his leg, took a quick piss, and trotted off.

After about 30 minutes, we were all bored. And hot. "I'm tired." Max announced as he ran up and down the path over and over again for no fucking reason at all. "I'm hungry." begged Lucy as she finished up her second gogurt of the morning. "I'm over this." I agreed. "Let's just get these seeds in the ground and call it a day."

"I don't want to." Lucy whined. "I don't care anymore." Max muttered.

"I hear ya." I agreed.

So we ripped open 4 seed packets, sprinkled the seeds liberally into the boxes, and tossed the envelopes in the garbage can.

"We have to water these." I hollered after the kids as they disappeared into the house. You could hear their feet screech to a halt. "With the hose?" they asked incredulously.

"Yeah, get the hose and spray the-"

Which is when I was hit, full blast, right in the ass, with the jet setting of our garden hose.

I turned around slowly, my pajamas dripping around my ankles.

"Ooops. Sorry mom." Max was barely disguising his smirk.

"Really? Really. You don't look sorry. You look like you're laughing, actually." I was picking my underwear out of my ass where they had been firmly wedged by the water pressure.

"It was an accident." he insisted.

"No, I don't think it was."

"See mommy" said Lucy. "That's why you don't wear pajamas to work in the garden."

Tomorrow: we return to the fun room. In which we are hemming AND hanging curtains with a staple gun.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One. More. Week.

I'm in the home stretch here, people. It's soooooo close. I can almost feel it. Teasing. Taunting. Calling me.

These kids go back to school in seven days and I might just make it.

I made a resolution that we are going to do one fun thing per day for this last week of summer vacation.
Today I took them out for ice cream. Actually, frozen yogurt. And it cost $15. And we went in the afternoon, which is my preferred naptime. (Yes, all afternoon is my damn naptime. Shut up.) So, yeah. We're not doing THAT again for all kinds of reasons.

Tomorrow we're getting the oil changed. THAT'S NOT THE FUN THING WOULD YOU RELAX.

While the car is in the shop I thought I might take them to see a movie. BECAUSE I AM AWESOME. But I think it's gonna cost even more then the movie. And I scheduled the appointment for 3pm. Naptime. Me no likey.

Wednesday our fun thing is going to have to be 1. free and 2. not interrupting my naptime.

And at some point in the middle of all of this fun and napping, we have to finish painting the play porch - a.k.a. "The Fun Room". This is my favorite photo of the fun room:

The Fun Room is really really REALLY fun. But now it's filled with art supplies and gecko shit (I'm not talking about Geico promotional merchandise, I'm talking about actual poop from geckos. This is Hawaii, remember?) so we've got some work to do to get it back into really FUN condition.

We started by painting the walls today. A few things didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped.

1. Lucy was under the impression that we were literally painting the entire room yellow. Walls, floor, trim, doors - the whole room. And she got a good 5 minutes into it before she said to Max "Hey, are you gonna help me with this?" and I turned around to see that while Max was dutifully painting the wall in his assigned corner of the room, Lucy was painting her ENTIRE CORNER.

2. As I turned around and realized what was going on and everything went all slow motion and "ooooohhhhhh nooooooooooooo" I tilted the pan of paint I was holding up on the ladder, and dumped it's contents into my cowboy boot.

3. And all over the rug.

4. Because I was a grownup and being careful and I "didn't need newspaper" under me.

5. And the yellow is really fucking bright.

6. And despite my best efforts, there is still a ton of gecko shit in there, and some of it is now painted yellow and stuck to my wall FOREVER.

7. So now the art room has half of the first coat of a bright buttercup yellow, mixed with a healthy amount of gecko shit (for texture) and my red rug has an orange corner and my cowboy boots are on the deck and I started drinking at noon.

8. I made a drink with juice so it was totally okay.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunny Sunday - things I love

Last week I missed an installment of Sunny Sunday because I - I'm gonna be honest here - I just didn't give a shit. BUT this Sunday, I am all over it. Because there are these things that I love, see. And I can't wait to tell you about them.

I have to give credit to my friend Leigh, of the bathroom espresso station. Because while I was aware that these things existed, she actually owned them, and used them. It all started when i tried to find some sandwich bags in her kitchen. I looked through the drawers, and found the one that *should* have had baggies - it had plastic wrap, and wax paper, and tin foil, and some freezer bags....but no sandwich bags. Hm, I thought. So I put my kids PBJs in a freezer bag, and didn't think about it again. Until I realized that she didn't use baggies. She used Mama luvs.

I bought a full set of them at the farmers market that very weekend. The fabrics were super cute, and I toss them right in the washing machine each afternoon - they must be pre-shrunk, because I washed and dried them in the machines and they didn't shrink one bit. The velcro is really sturdy, and they also have a drawstring option. The bottoms are flat, so when they are filled with snacks, they stand up, which is nice too. Plus, they are made by moms - so I feel really good about buying them and using them and telling you about them. Mamaluvs is also on facebook, and they update pretty regularly.

Another lunchtime discovery I made in Seattle were these kick ass lunchbags - The frog one was perfect for my little princess/kindergartener. It is shaped like a purse with a shoulder strap instead of a handle. It's different, and fun, and I got it at Target and DAMNED if I can find it for sale anywhere online. I am so glad I bought it when I saw it instead of saying "Oh, I'll order it online when I get home." I'm sure someone will list it on eBay, it's made by California Innovations for Arctic Zone and came in a frog, ladybug, and I think a dog and maybe an elephant? I can't remember. It cost about $12 and came with a frog-shaped freezer pack too. It's awesome.

So that's it. Go forth and get yourself ready for school with some cool new lunch stuff ! Almost as important as a really kick-ass Trapper Keeper (do they even MAKE THOSE anymore? God I am so fucking old.)with a holograph unicorn illustration or something. I kind of wish I had saved one o those - it just doesn't feel like fall without a new Trapper Keeper....................

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sort of like eating the fruit in your sangria. Yummy, but ill-advised.

This morning brings you a cautionary tale, of mysterious and magical looking green potions in glass bottles, and how, exactly, Alice must have felt when she fell down the rabbit hole and looked through the looking glass and ate the "eat me" and drank the "drink me".

Today one of my friends was bemoaning the after-effects of an evening whiled away enjoying the refreshing summertime goodness of sangria. Red red wine......and FRUIT. Oh the yummy booze-soaked fruits. It all seems so harmless and even - dare I say it - healthy, to partake in this warm-weather classic. Right up until you find yourself bent double puking up purple-stained apples. And this morning, oh this morning I felt his pain. From an entirely different source, however. And this is where the caution comes in.

Over the years, I have learned how much I love sangria, and how far I should go to avoid it. I can take a few sips, sure.......but I cannot - let me say this again for emphasis - CANNOT eat the fruit. I know this, and I usually use my common sense, and just grab a beer instead. Throw a slice of lime in there and I have all the fruit I need. But there is always something new, isn't there? The latest and greatest concoction being peddled by the liquor distributer at the bar - from fruit-flavored vodkas to malt liquor that tastes like iced tea to caffeinated beer. And I avoid those too. I might try it once or twice, end up with a upset tummy or a headache, and then go back to old reliable. Or, the other old reliable. What can I say....I cannot choose between them. On the occasion when I have a cocktail, chances are good that Mr Jameson and Mr Daniels will play tug-of-war with my heart.

However. For a year now I have been admiring this curious glass tureen of emerald colored syrup in a small lounge by the beach. It's straight out of Alice in Wonderland, with it's handblown glass and antique dispenser. Absinthe, it says on the menu. Sounds dangerous. And romantic. And literary. Like I should carry a small glass bottle of it around in my pocket, sealed with a cork, a label tied with a ribbon around it's neck. Like I could have a few sips and end up writing heartwrenching poetry with a quill pen, working up to the Great Novel, then dying alone in a dark bar with heavy velvet drapes and dark wood paneling. I stayed away, because it just looked..........Mysterious. Threatening. Like something an evil step-mother would offer me in a crystal tumbler. And while I have chosen to forgo the glowing jewel-colored liquid on the bar, recently I have succumbed to the call of another magical green liquor in a pretty glass bottle. But we keep this one in the freezer, next to a few grotty bottles of Jagermeister. This? This is a party drink ! With a cute, non-threatening name! You mix it with Red Bull ! And have a party ! Yahoooooo! Except, well, yeah. It's a party all right.

It's a liquor made out of the coca leaf. You know, the same plant where - I guess - cocaine comes from. I wouldn't know, because I know absolutely nothing about cocaine. Or any other narcotic, for that matter. They just never interested me. But in the past two weeks, I have learned quite a little bit about this liquor. Or rather, I have learned a lot about the affect that this liquor has on me.

Long story short, I was ready to hump a damn barstool by midnight.

I was sending my husband desperate texts from behind the bar that were sadly akin to "I love you man!"

Which leads me to believe that there are other things in this world that might have the same effect. Ergo, without even trying them, I can save myself the money and the time and just know in my heart why and how people can find themselves in the depths of drug addiction - a place I have never been and have no intention of heading. Yes, it turns out that if my reaction to this liquor is any indication, my instinctual avoidance of any and all recreational narcotics was a very wise decision.

I could make a D.A.R.E. commercial right now, based on last night's reaction to that one silly cocktail. Drugs are bad. M'kay? And also, they make you all tingly. Which starts out like a buzz and ends up like a personal problem that requires a trip to the drug store for some kind of cream. Not romantic at all.

How about a nice seltzer water with lime?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just call me "Miss Hannigan".

I haven't discussed it much here, but we are licensed by the state to foster parent.

We haven't had a placement in over a year, so it hasn't come up recently. But yesterday was our home visit and license renewal. We had to sign the paperwork for our background checks, the social worker had to inspect the house, and we had to be interviewed about our health, finances, work schedules, etc.

It's similar to a home study done by an adoption agency. It's not a huge deal, but it's important. Anytime you have a social worker in your house and you have kids, it's important. You invite a certain amount of scrutiny and judgement into your home, which you have to be comfortable with.

But I feel confident in my ability to provide a safe and (fairly) clean home to my children, and any other children that come over. There have been times during the renovation of this house when it was difficult to feel that confidence, but these days everything is pretty well under control except my bedroom. And the play room. And the kids rooms. And the yard. (sigh) But we're getting there. Slowly. I had no concerns about this visit.

But the social worker arrived early. And got to our house before we did. There was no chance for alast-minute vacuuming, or a frantic scrub of the toilet, or a chance to make my bed or straighten up the bedrooms. I pulled into the driveway and our worker was waiting on the front steps. I was not pleased - the kids dentist appointment had run (very) long, and I would have liked 10 minutes to get things in order. But it was not to be. We were going to have to do this thing, and just hope that the house wasn't too much of a disaster.

And so it began. As we all walked in the door, the kids said "Hi" and then excused themselves to the TV room to watch a movie quietly (without being asked !) and Max grabbed snacks (without being asked !) and I settled down on the couch for the interview, proud of their well-mannered demeanor during this visit that was, ultimately, judging my parenting skills.

We were chatting away in the quiet living room, that for once (miraculously) wasn't covered in crap, and then it was time for the moment of truth: we needed to do the home inspection.

I cracked open the door to my room so that he could see my unmade bed and the curtains that never seem to get opened, then the bathroom. And then we opened the door to the TV room. Which is when I heard it.

"It's a hard knock life, for us."

Oh. My. God.

"No one cares for you, a bit, when you're in an orphanage."


"Hey kids" said the social worker. "Whatcha watching?"

"Annie!" they replied cheerfully.

"Ah!" he replied.

I refused to make eye contact.

"And right through here are the kid's rooms!" I continued with the tour.

When we returned to the living room, the social worker left the door open to the TV room. And as I filled out the form, the kids continued to watch...........Little Orphan Annie.

"I'm an ordinary wooooman, with feeeelings...........I like a man to nibble on my ear."

Sweet Jesus.

"Why is she acting like that?" Lucy asked Max from the other room.
"She's probably drunk." he opined.

That lucky bitch.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Driving Miss Daisy? I'm not driving that bitch anywhere unless she asks nicely.

I have always had a car. When I turned 16, I used my parents' cars - my father conveniently was gone most of the time, so there was always a car for my use. And I am a pretty good driver - despite what you may have heard. Plus, I always drive nice cars. Safe cars. Better cars than I can really afford to be driving, to be honest.....but it's worth it to me, to have reliable transportation. Cars where everything is in working order and is preferably covered by some sort of warranty - I have AAA for chrissake. I take the whole car ownership/driving thing very seriously, and I love to drive. That's not just the control freak in me (though I am sure she has something to do with it) - I genuinely enjoy it.

As a result, since I was of legal driving age and maybe even a bit before then, I have been driving other people around. When you first get your license in high school, lots of your friends haven't gotten theirs yet, so you are the only option - you gotta drive everyone, or no one goes anywhere without their mom. And that is how it begins: you start by driving your friends because they aren't old enough. Then you are driving friends because they don't have a car of their own, or they have to share it with a sibling. Or because your car is nicer. Or bigger. Or has gas in it at the moment. Or because you are the only person sober enough to drive. Your car is an extension of you - and never more so than in high school. Especially in the suburbs with no public transportation.

And then you are an adult, and there is more of an even playing field.
Some people, even as adults, do not have cars. Or drivers licenses. Or money for gas. Or insurance. Or a passenger's seat. Or their car is a broken down piece of shit. Or maybe they just hit a tree/cow/pedestrian/Ford F-350 (hey, it happens).

And so you have to drive. And that's OK. It is. Like I said, I love to drive. And I love to have company when I drive. And I don't even mind being the designated driver. I don't care about mileage, or gas money, or wear and tear on my car. You want to smoke? Go right ahead (as long as the kids aren't around, of course.) You want to drink a beer? Road sodas are A-OK.


I don't like it when people just expect me to drive them places day after day, time after time. There is a small, isolated group of folks that not only need a ride to get anywhere, but expect one. They don't ask. They just assume you will drive them. They may even demand it. Perhaps make a fuss if you are not able to. Or behave as though you have just failed them by not giving them a lift. They may say things like "I'll just catch a ride as far as you are going."

There is no gas money. There is no reciprocation. In fact, even if they DID offer you a ride when you needed one, you sure as hell wouldn't want them driving you anywhere. Nor would you want to ride in their piece of shit with a seat back that is propped up by a 2x4 and a window made up of a black plastic trash bag, with your feet in a puddle of indeterminate origin and WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SMELL?

And here is what I have to say about people Like That:

Get a fucking job and buy a decent car. It doesn't have to be pretty, but it's gotta be reliable unless you have the option of walking to work or taking public transportation (And if I could I would. Well, maybe not - I do love my car. But maybe.......) I work my ass off to pay for a car and a house and I make it a priority to have those things. If you don't want to make those your priority that is cool - but that means you should expect to be doing a lot of walking.

Here's another thing I have to say about it:

If you need a ride, you should ALWAYS ASK NICELY AND OFFER GAS MONEY. And by "ask nicely" I don't mean ask someone where they are going, or when, and then assume they are willing and/or able to give you a ride. Maybe they don't WANT to give you a ride. Maybe they are sick of driving you places. Maybe you smell awful. Maybe they don't want to be an enabler. Maybe they don't want to listen to your drunken ramblings for 20 minutes. Maybe they just want to go straight home and climb into bed, or smoke a cigarette in peace and quiet while they drive. Maybe they need to make a private phone call. Maybe they need to stop for groceries.

Maybe they're just not in the mood.

Maybe it's not their fucking job to drive you places.

So if you are the driver, or the driven, take note. No one has to drive anyone anywhere. No one should take it for granted. And no one should feel obligated.

And no one should be afraid to put one foot in front of the other and get their on their own steam - physically or metaphorically. You are steering your life. Take the wheel and drive.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Girls night is alright

Girl's night started about 4 years ago. Maybe 3 years ago. I'll get back to you on that. It's all a little blurry, actually. Which is what girl's night is all about. Lots of fun, vague recollecitons of what may or may not have happened, and a couple of really ridiculous moments that we will talk about for the rest of our lives.

Girl's night started out as a distraction. A friend, going through a hard time, looking for some companionship one evening a week when her regular routine was upended and her children were elsewhere. And of course, the girlfriends rallied.

Of course we did.

Beer, spicy chicken, french fries, chow fun, walnut shrimp, and steak bites. And more beer.

It's always been about the food. And the beer. And the company.

It's never been about "getting out of the house" or "letting off some steam". Well. Maybe a little steam. And it was nice to get out of the house. Back in those days, I had a toddler. And a 1st grader. I had just gone back to work. And I had a new friend who was going through some stuff. And the new friend wanted to meet for dinner. And I said "OK". And girl's night was launched.

The cast of characters has evolved, and we don't get together every week anymore. In fact, I am the last of the original "girl's nighters". Which is weird, but not really. I'm stubborn. And I like to eat. And I learned that I do like getting out of the house at night every once in a while.

Like last night. After working some pretty long hours all weekend long, you would think all I wanted to do would be to lay down in bed and sleep. And I did - but I also wanted a pedicure. More for the foot massage than the nail polish, but still. A pedicure. And Lucy had broken her sword (I gave the kids wooden swords, and Lucy broke hers. Whacking her brother on the head during a particulary fierce battle. The only injuries involved were to the sword, remarkably - Max was wearing a helmet. Made of a GoGurt box. But I digress.) so I needed a new sword. And then, you know, while I was out, I might as well eat, right? With the girls, if possible. So I did and we did and it was good and then I diverged from my usual routine and THAT is what I was going to write about today but, you know........back story. It's important.

As i was saying, we had a lovely dinner. And then. Instead of getting in the car all full and sleepy and driving home and being sound asleep by 10:30pm, AS USUAL, the newest attendee of girls night wanted to show me some pictures from Rollercon that involved a lot of nudity and wildly inappropriate behavior - some of it totally illegal even in Vegas. So we headed to another restaurant. And then the bar next door. And then there was a round of drinks. And then, the obligatory drunk-guy-seeing-if-there-was-any-chance-we-might-be-drunk-enough-to-consider-no? Oh okay then. And then some karaoke. And then, we slow danced to Frank Sinatra. Because girls - and especially rollergirls - do that sort of thing. Usually in fishnets and hotpants, but those are not mandatory.

AND THEN I went home and climbed into bed, and so another girl's night came to a close. And the point of this post is - you should get out more. We should all get out more. Shake it up. No alcohol required. Dinner, however, is recommended. And friends. Good friends. And a little Sinatra doesn't hurt either.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Notes from the bartender who just witnessed your first date

Gosh, I just love working behind the bar. You get to see every kind of train wreck imaginable, all happening right there in front of you. In fact, you have to actively work at NOT eavesdropping, because can hear everything. EVERYTHING.

Last night was a real quiet night, and then with no warning I got front row seats to the best kind of entertainment imaginable: The first date.

From start to finish, it was just great. Lots of really awkward moments and personal history were shared. So as a thank you to the lovely couple for a great time, here is my feedback:

Dude. THANK YOU for sitting at the bar. In fact, always sit at the bar for your first dates. The bartender can run interference and respond to your desperate signals for a change in subject or more alcohol. Which you desperately needed, in order to deal with:

Lady. Just because you have big fake titties that stand up without the aid of a support undergarment, does not mean you should forgo said undergarment for a first date with:

Dude. If the chick extends a hand to shake in greeting, don't brush the hand aside and go in for the bear hug hello. She took one look at you and didn't want to hug you. Don't push it because:

Lady. You look like you could seriously kick his ass. And like maybe you have more money in your wallet than the entire contents of this guy's bank account.

Dude. You have got to dress better than that for a first date. I know you think you were looking neat and well groomed, and you were. YOU WERE. But a cotton knit light colored polo shirt with, what were those, chinos? Those are not going to work for this:

Lady. What the hell do you have on? You forgot something. Like your underwear. This is a first date, and this guy has a look on his face that is like an 18 year old:

Dude. Close your mouth. Now I know what the word "leer" really means. Newsflash - you also look scared shitless of:

Lady. He's just a nice guy. He looks like he has a job, and loves his mother. Don't be mean. It will be hard, because he seems like the antithesis of the elderly cowboy you are still married to.

Dude. Did she just say she was still married?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

From the Far East to the Wild West

We are into themed party season, apparently. This weekend we had back to back events at the bar, and we went all out with our costumes. Friday night, for the "Sushi Mushi dance party" I wore a white satin cheongsam, and Saturday night for "Indians and Indians" I chose Native American over Bollywood and went for the fur-and-suede-vest and feathered accessories look. Which was great fun, truly. But bartending in white satin was ill-conceived, and bartending in a furry vest was pretty ridiculous. It looked like I had a raccoon wrapped around my neck, and I was feeling kind of claustrophobic.

The things I do for my art.

Around midnight, when I was getting really fucking hot and sweaty, I started to wonder if perhaps I was too old to be getting all dressed up in costumes and going to work every day. This isn't Disneyland, if you know what I'm saying. Going to work in a Pocahontas costume, and wandering out of work at 3am,'s not a normal life, or an easy schedule. But it sure is fun.

And when I walk out the back door of the bar just as the sunrise bike tours from the company next door are loading up in the parking lot (and getting the shocked/confused/amused looks from the sleepy tourists who were not expecting costumed greeters).......well.........that's pretty fun too.

As the vans pull out of the parking lot and head up the volcano to watch the sunrise atop Haleakala, I head up the volcano as well. But rather than going to the summit (where my fur vest would be entirely appropriate in the pre-dawn cold) I point my car homeward to wash off the war paint and hopefully sleep for a few hours before life - real life - begins again.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Won't you be my neighbor?

Yesterday I was a bit out of sorts.

Being out of sorts is a very expensive state of mind, apparently.
Once I was feeling a bit out of sorts and I had a car accident. Don't worry, I didn't have a car accident yesterday. No, yesterday being out of sorts cost me one diamond earring and $12.00. The diamond earring was my own fault. I was trying on earrings and put the earring down while I did so, and then (You are already shaking your head at me, I can tell. Yes you are.) I walked away and left the earring - MY EARRING - lying on the counter. I suck. Let's just face it.

Then we went to a cute little consignment store, and I bought a cute little outfit, and the total came to $8.32. I handed the cute girl at the register $20.32, and she was taking forever to give me my change, and I was getting all kinds of annoyed trying to explain that the sales tax for two items at $4 each WAS the same as one item at $8, and eventually I just had to walk away for a minute as she stared into space and counted out lud silently to herself. I went over to look at shoes while she figured out how to make change because THE MATHS THEY R HARD and then I got distracted and then my friend wandered out and I followed her.

I know. Stupid.
Stupid stupid stupid. And it's all my fault. But here's the thing:

This is a small town. With small stores, independently owned. I live, work and shop here every day. And when you shop at these stores, people do TAKE CARE OF YOU. I am lulled into such a false sense of security living here. When people leave their credit card or their stuff (purse, camera, wallet, video game, and yes - we have several lost earrings in our cash register) at the restaurant, I always chase after them. Through the rain, in the dark of night or the heat of day, I ALWAYS run after people to give them what is theirs. Always. Because our town is like that. And that is why when I called this morning, they had my beloved earring sitting behind the counter. I was relieved, and thrilled, and seriously - I kind of want to go kiss the girl who put my earring safely away for me. She validated my faith in being neighborly, in doing the right thing and making a little effort.

Now with the earring, I left it on a counter in a busy store and that girl who was working there may not have found it for quite some time, and in the end she DID put it away and wait for me to return. But I KNOW that girl at the consignment store knew she owed me money. She may not have had any idea HOW MUCH (I wonder if she is still counting?) but she knew she owed me. And she watched me walk out th door and walk down the stairs and walk out on to the street, and never got my attention and said "Excuse me, you forgot your change!"

I have never NOT run after someone who left something behind that clearly they did NOT intend to. It's not like I vaporized, I didn't flip open my cell and say "beam me up, Sami". I was walking with a group of 10 people, we were moving slowly, the stores were pretty isolated, and this is not a city - I didn't disappear into the maddening crowd. I WAS the maddening crowd. My point is, it would have been pretty easy to let me know I had forgotten something. So I will go back to the store today, and just hope that she did the right thing, that my money was there with a little note saying "this wacky chick who was totally out of it walked out without her change. Dipshit. If she comes back, here's her money and her receipt. Not that she deserves it."

See, it's not that I expect people to chase after me as I blythely wander my way through life wide eyed and innocent (HAH ! HAH HAH!) scattering money and diamonds behind me like a trail of fucking breadcrumbs but, you know. Karma.
I'm just saying.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I think we had a cool "only in Maui" kind of day, but the photo documentation may show something entirely different

Today was (we thought) the last hurrah. Our guests had tickets to fly out mid-day Friday, and so I planned our Thursday accordingly, including a BIG FINALE.

But then my friends got on the phone this morning and changed their tickets and they are here until late Friday night.
But I still had the BIG FINALE planned for I went with it.

We had oh-so-many plans: The Surfing Goat Dairy, a high-class high-art photo shoot, shopping, gelato, lunch at the Four Seasons Resort, beach time, and then the BIG FINALE - the Big Fancy Fucking Luau complete with a fire dancer and an open bar.

Yes, I am awesome. And yes, I am known for blowing my wad way too early. Which is why I planned all of this for the last day. But then, you know, they changed their tickets which means that I am shit out of ideas for tomorrow - their actual last day. Wad? You were early. AGAIN.

So anyway, we had all of these plans, you see. And somehow, even with all of those plans, we ended up staying at the house until 1:30pm.

But in my defense, I am pretty sure if you had a house like this but only for another 24 hours, with a beautiful pool, and it was warm and sunny outside, and you could smell the lilikois ripening on the vine and watch the golden mangos dropping from the trees with the weight of their juice........well I think you would have stayed home too.

So we skipped the goats and the photos and the shopping and the gelato and went straight to the Four Seasons. Only, by the time we got there it was 2:30, and by the time we ate it was 3:30, and the luau started at 5 so there really wasn't much time for the beach, and now we were all too full to actually eat the food at the luau, and so we hung out in the lobby - which is actually pretty palatial so that was fine, and I spent half an hour in the girls bathroom just hanging out in there because it turns out the girls room is pretty palatial too. I believe I may have left my valet ticket in the girls room while I was busy admiring the wallpaper, because when I finally made it to the luau and went to get the parking ticket validated the damn thing was nowhere to be found. So I called the valet and when Kimo or Kai or whoever the hell it was answered the phone all I could say was "I lost my valet ticket already and I just dropped off the car 30 minutes ago - do I need to be worried about this?" Kimo or Kai or whoever the hell answered the phone was real cool and told me not to worry about it and they wouldn't let anyone steal my Mini even if they had the ticket that I may or may not have left in the girl's bathroom.

So now I was at the luau and woo fucking hooo - right? Except I was still full from lunch and even though it was an open bar I couldn't drink because I had to drive home because Sami had already declared that he was NOT the designated driver and also because he consumed 3 MaiTais before he even sat down and that shit is like calling shotgun only it's serious business and not just about who gets carsick the easiest.

So he's drinking and I'm rooting around in my purse again, this time searching for the Advil that I may or may not have left in the girl's room with that damn ticket and I look around and they have announced that it's almost sunset and now would be a perfect time for pictures by the water and that the luau has photographers all ready to take your photos. And they were right, it was the perfect time, which I had just told our guests 5 minutes earlier, and they had all trooped down to the water and my buddy had his BIG ASS CAMERA that we were supposed to use for the aforementioned and subsequently cancelled high class/high art photo shoot. This camera was about 10 times bigger than the cameras everyone else (including the professional luau photographers) had, and so naturally, while our group was getting our photos taken by our friend, the rest of the luau lined up behind him waiting for THEIR TURN to get THEIR photo taken by the guy with the best camera. Only, you know, he didn't work for the luau and wasn't there to take their pictures and BOY WERE THEY ANGRY because we got some sweet-ass pictures taken, and they had some still-great-but-definitely-not-as-awesome-as-ours photos taken and ours were free and theirs were definitely NOT.

And it's a good thing they didn't wait for their turn because my buddy took photos of all of us until it was dark and then he just kept going and MY GOD the man didn't take any photos of the luau because he was taking pictures of all of us and at one point I looked away from the dancers and everyone else at the table was getting their picture taken, playing a video game, or text messaging and I was all "What the fuck is going on?"

So basically long story short we should have just stayed at the house all day eating lilikoi and mango and drinking and taking pictures of each other like a big bunch of narcisisstic assholes. It would have been way cheaper and I wouldn't have had to be the designated driver, and I would still have my Advil which I may or may not have left in the damn girl's bathroom with that pretty pretty wallpaper.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

5 minutes later and she would have experienced something a whole lot worse than leg cramps..

Parents, you know what I am talking about. Those hours, late at night, when you are awake, and they are sleeping. You are lying quietly, maybe reading a book, or watching Jon Stewart, or maybe GOD FORBID getting romantical, and suddenly your ears perk up. "What was that? Was that a cough? Did you hear a cough? Is that the first time? Has there been coughing? DAMMIT is someone else getting sick? We just finished that last dose of amoxicillan/steroid/cough syrup with codeine/round of nebulizer treatments and now someone else is sick? Wait, no, is that crying? Oh shit, is someone crying? Has someone been calling me or weeping silently and now after hours and hours of suffering they are finally crying out? I am the worst parent ever OH MY GOD MY BABY NEEEEEEEEEEEEDS ME" and then you shove your husband over and go tearing off down the hall, hopping on first one leg and then the other trying to get some pants on fortheloveofallthatisholyshitfuckhowlonghastherebeencrying?

Yeah. THAT. With a few variations, every parent has done this at some time and if you say you haven't you are a fucking liar (no pun intended, but there it is). I would say that kids have a sixth sense, it's almost like birth control how they seem to know when the least convenient time is to wake up in the middle of the.night and start crying.

So last night, we were lying in bed and my husband was all "Hey baby" and I was all "Hey what" and then suddenly THE CRYING and I glared at him as if to say "you did this with your dirty man mind and your sinful thoughts". And Lucy came into our room moments later before I could get out of bed and intercept her, with a face swollen from crying and miserable because her legs hurt.

Sam was miserable too - but for a whole different reason. I have to give him credit though, he's slick. Somehow he managed to get out of bed and get her into bed and get some PANTS ON FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAN WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU without scarring her for life. A significant accomplishment considering the, um, circumstances.

And so that is how we spent the night, crying and comforting and cuddling. And then it began again. Around and around all night long. My hands that used to stink of garlic now reek of BenGay, which is what happens when you are not more specific in your fervent wish to have your hands not smell like garlic anymore because it's hard to feel sexy. Turns out, BenGay is even less sexy and - unexpected bonus - it burns the nether regions to the point where sexy is not even on the radar.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day Camp - the parents may have had more fun than the kids. Maybe.

***No Animals were Harmed in this edition of Adventures in Paradise***
(not even the chicken. Or the cat. or my damn dog.)
Yesterday my thrilling documentation of eating meat lost us some followers here at Adventures in Paradise. I can't believe that of all of the things I choose to talk about here, eating LAMB would be the thing that caused an exodus but WHATEVER because that lamb was good and I'M NOT ASHAMED.

Today, however, we ate absolutely NO MEAT until lunchtime, which is a personal best for me, plus I totally kept my dog from attacking a chicken and a cat which makes me an animal lover OBVIOUSLY so vegans sit your ass back down.

As I was saying, today, while decidedly lacking in carnivorous activity, was the big DAY OF CAMP where we had all 4 children enrolled in a waterfall adventure camp, which would enable us to go to a few "grown up" tourist attractions without our minors in tow.

And you know what? It would have been awesome.........had I not been babysitting for a friend's toddler. Whoops. Totally forgot about that. SCHEDULING FAIL.

And it would have been great........ if the parents had not gotten totally sucked into how cool the camp was, and ended up spending the morning there picking Jamaican lilikoi and apple bananas and taking pictures and wandering through fields of jumping grass.

But what can I say? The school my kids go to, which is where the camp was held, is awesome - and I would have been right there with them except that I had that cute baby who was just begging to be snuggled, and it was raining, and the dog was in the back of the car, and - well AND (vegans please cover your ears for a minute. Or your eyes. Or whatever. You have been warned.) then he spotted a chicken. And a cat. But don't tell my friends because they love cats and I would hate to have them hear about how my dog totally traumatized the cute little kitty he spotted in the bushes, and how I had to roll the back window up and almost got his head stuck in there in an attempt to keep him from leaping out of the back of the truck and losing his shit on that chicken.

So our child-free day turned into a child free early afternoon, and we barely made it out to the winery before we had to turn back. And no one got drunk because they only let you have 4 tastes of wine. (And may I go on record as saying I got one of the smallest pours I have literally ever seen EVER in a tasting room. It was more of a splash than a pour. Almost like they accidentally got a little in the glass and offered it to me just so it wouldn't go to waste.) And they sell beer but you can't drink it anywhere so our six-pack went unopened.


In the end though......I really have no complaints. Our afternoon was spent sipping wine on the side of a dormant volcano, and our kids were here:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mary had a little lamb, who's fleece was white as snow. Until Daffodil ate it.

Tonight I made dinner for our guests, and while I know that as visitors to a tropical island they were probably expecting to be eating fish and pineapples, instead they got the food that I felt like cooking. Italian food.

Lamb, specifically.

I know, I don't come to Hawaii to eat lamb. But you should - especially if I'm cooking. And while I know that some people are horrified by the very idea of eating lamb, I am not one of them. I don't know where you stand on this issue, and honestly I don't much care. I just love to eat dead baby animals. Especially lambs.

And tonight was no exception. I had a huge grill with a covered lanai to grill on, a soft rain falling, a glass of wine and a cigarette, and a houseful of people to feed. Dammit, I was going to cook these fine folks some dead baby animal.

Even now, 5 hours and a long hot shower later, my hands still reek of the garlic that I so loving massaged into that gorgeous butterflied leg. I actually just found a sprig of rosemary in my bra a few minutes ago - left over from the rosemary I happily jabbed into the lamb, right before I roasted it over indirect heat on the grill for an hour. Oh the rosemary. And the garlic.

There were no leftovers.

Rest assured, I had a plan B for those guests who preferred a more tropical (or, you know, less sacrificial) meal. If there is one thing I have learned as a hostess, it is to ALWAYS have a plan B. Which is why I also prepared some fish - with a fresh salsa, even !


I am so considerate that when I heard that it was one of the kids' birthdays, I went right out and bought a 10 pound birthday cake from Costco. I kind of forgot that they only eat organic and they don't really give their kids sugar and that probably getting their kid all high on corn syrup and shortening and refined sugars at 9pm was a TERRIBLE IDEA.

But I did it anyway.

Tune in tomorrow for the story of "How I talked my guests into sending all of our kids to day camp, took them to the tasting room at a winery for lunch, and then we were all too drunk to go pick up the kids at 3pm." That should be a doozy.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunny Sunday - things I love

I am one of those people who is not particularly attached to her hair. I mean, I'm glad I HAVE hair, and I have a hard time deciding what to DO with my hair - but I am always willing to keep an open mind, try something new......I know it will grow back, so I try not to stress about it. My hair has been every length, style, and color possible - except blue. I never did blue. My mother hates it short - in fact, once I went to visit her classroom right after getting a cute new pixie cut, and she turned around, did a double take, and informed me that I looked like a dyke.

Since I LOVE THE GAYS I was thrilled. And I do like my hair short. In fact, I almost cut it all off in San Francisco last month. Sadly, due to scheduling conflicts I wasn't able to meet up with my friend Anna, who is a phenomenal hairdresser and does great short hair cuts for women. And I sure as hell wasn't letting someone ELSE cut off over a foot of hair. So my hair stayed on my head, until the next time Anna and I get together and she happens to have scissors and I happen to have a bottle of tequila. Things might be different.

That hasn't happened yet, ergo I still have long hair these days, and lots of it. It's getting pretty gray, so the texture is kind of weird - my hair was already bordering on frizzy and the grays just make it worse. Because frizzy hair makes me nuts, I have spent a large amount of time and money over the past 30 years trying to find a product that prevents the frizz, without making my hair all greasy looking so that I have to shampoo it every single day - since that just makes the frizz worse.

When I was about 8 I discovered colored hair mousse. Not crayola colors, but hair mousse that was, like, auburn. I don't know what the hell it's intended purpose was, but my cousin and I used so much of it on my head that my scalp was orange for several days afterwards. ANYWAY, that damn mousse was like the gateway drug of hair products. I was hooked, and it was sort of the beginning of the end. From that point onward, my hair was trimmed, dyed, permed and gelled to within an inch of it's life. I would get bored, put all of my hair in a ponytail like Sassy Magazine told me to, and then chop off a few inches straight across, so that it would be "layered" and "shaped" and "tapered" and "face-framing". But what it really looked like was "shit".

And still, unless it was literally crispy with dried product, my hair would seem frizzy. (Gosh, that's hard to believe, isn't it, considering how many chemical processes it was subjected to......)

I have tried gels, oils, deep conditioners, pomades, waxes, sprays, creams, mousses, and more. If there was a product guaranteeing to beat frizz, I would buy it.

And then, I found what I have been looking for all of these years.

Moroccan Oil

Actually, I didn't find it, my girlfriend did. She gave me a bottle of this magical stuff and people? It rocked my fucking world. I have tried the oil and the curl cream and they are both amazing........but the oil? The oil is a dream come true.

My hair isn't frizzy. It smells nice. You only need a little tiny bit of the oil and a blowout will last for a week.

I just can't rave about it enough. Thi is practically a public service announcement. If you don't have any you should go and rectify the situation IMMEDIATELY, we'll wait.

And here's anther interesting thing - this oil is GREAT for your skin. It is super rich and healing, and my dry elbows and heels are no longer quite so dry because now after applying my hair product to my hair, I just rub the excess into my dry skin. It has almost healed my son's excema, and my scalp feels divine. And it is virtually impossible to have statick-y hair with this oil in there.

I haven't tried the shampoo and conditioner yet, but it's on my list FOR SURE because now that I am frizz-free, I want to make sure I am doing everything possible to keep it that way.

Until of course, I cut it all off and start over. Then, and only then, would I be able to skip the hair application and just spend 10 minutes rubbing the oil onto my various dry bits. And bonus: Locks of love would get some really nice hair. I should probably send along a bottle of the Moroccan oil along with the cut hair, complete with instructions on the care and feeding of my follicles. And maybe a few pages of instructions from a back issue of Sassy Magazine.

Why reinvent the wheel ?

Poker Night, make it right

Well good morning-actually-almost-afternoon to you.

We had a little extra adventure in paradise last night, in the form of a friendly neighborhood poker game, that devolved into some weird Jersey Shore meets gypsy folk hybrid. There were 6 of us, a small game, with relatively small stakes and several large bottles of wine, which is the way I like to play. I just like those odds. But emotions ran high, and talk turned ugly. In the end, one player left angry, vowing never to return. Another player started to leave with some money that didn't belong to him. And one player was so drunk that th- wait, actually, that player is still asleep on my sofa.
Huh. How 'bout that.

Anyway, what started out as a friendly poker game turned hostile, and long story short it cost me $40 and 4 bottles of wine to stay in my own house and referee, and then in the end I had to call out a guy I had never met before for essentially stealing money out of the pot. Now, in order to keep the peace, I will just assume that taking twice what he actually owed from the bank was AN HONEST MISTAKE. A SIMPE MISUNDERSTANDING. But money is money, fool. So count it twice.

I said count it, so what happened next is my own damn fault.

It was left to me - I had to count the chips. Which was challenging considering the amount of mood-altering indulging I had been doing throughout the evening. My ability to count is pretty much the first thing to go, apparently. Which would also explain why it cost me so much money to play a friendly game of poker in my own damn living room.

Anyway, as I was saying, one of the players was a guy I had never met before. You know, the one who accidentally took some extra money at the end, there. That Guy. Throughout the night, he was playing well, and capably representing the Jersey Shore element of the evening. With his gelled hair and his fitted t-shirt with argyle printed on the front and the clenched Marlon Brando-esque clenched jaw and the clear on his nails, he was taking this evening quite seriously, and taking quite a bit of money along with it - and people were getting a bit annoyed. Who was this guy? And what exactly was he doing here?. So when he called my husband "pretty boy" my husband looked him right in the eye and said "nice fucking sweater". At this table of arabs and gypsies, men and women, that guy was definitely the prettiest.

But with all of the drama, and all of the anger, and all of the damn COUNTING, the creepiest thing didn't have anything to do with the cards. At some point in the game, this guy leans in.

"Hey" he says. "You go to 24 hour Fitness?"
I considered my response for a moment. I have a few things to say about this.

1. THIS GUY is exactly why I don't go to the gym.
2. I haven't been to 24 hour Fitness in - no lie - 6 months.

But instead of coming up with some snappy retort, I just got all creeped out and nodded wordlessly. "I thought so," he said. "I've seen you there."

And so goes the tale of poker in paradise. I have to go clear the living room and head to work, to make back some of the money I paid to stay in last night. And then maybe I'll go to the gym with a few of my gypsy friends........