Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trying to find a balance between advocating for my child and being a total bitch

Max must have heard the rumor that I was going to make him cut his own bagels. In an effort to foil my attempts to hold him to a higher standard, he has eaten toast for the past three days. No knife required, you see. PRE SLICED. Hah!


Now that it has been determined that instead of slicing his own bagel, he's just gonna opt for toast, I can focus on other parenting matters.

Like sports.

In the little rainbow school, they don't have sports teams. So one of the dads volunteered to lead a soccer practice. To coach, but mostly just to supervise while they play soccer once a week on the field next to the beach.
(Yes, I know, it's snowing in New England. I don't know why you live there EITHER.)

There are maybe a dozen kids that come out to play each week, just a few warm ups and an hour of scrimmaging. Just for fun, you see. They have only played an actual game against another group of kids once - and because there are no uniforms it was chaotic to say the very least. No one had any damn idea who was on what team. Max came stomping off the field no less than twice in a puddle of angry, indignant tears. I was mortified. We had several heart to hearts that day on the side of the field, later in the parking lot, and over the ensuing months at various times. We talked about teamwork, and playing the game for fun and to win - because realistically, both were important. With all of my bleeding-heart liberalism, I get it: no one plays a game to lose. And to be fair, he was ill-prepared for an actual game. His soccer experience was limited to kicking the ball around once a week for an hour with his buddies - he had no idea how to actually play. I mean, some of the kids practiced in Crocs.

A few were barefoot for God's sake.

Today it was announced that there was going to be another game. I secretly hoped that with the passing months, Max has gotten at least a basic grasp on the rules of the game. But frankly, I'll just be thrilled if he has gained the ability to get through an hour of competitive soccer without tears. And I use the term competitive VERY LOOSELY. The scoring during these scrimmages seems to be a little, uh, vague. Everyone sort of keeps track of how many points they scored, and then they tried to add them all up in the end to figure out what the final tally is, with multiple kids laying claim to each goal. I can only hope that they keep better track during an actual game. But the score never really mattered much to us - Max was not known for his scoring abilities on the soccer field.
Until today. Today Max climbed into the car jubilant - he himself had scored a goal! HIM! He did it!

Of course, it was not all sunshine and rainbows - this is my kid, after all. In retrospect, he had some regrets: "I should have passed the ball instead of going for the goal myself." he reflected, staring pensively out the car window. "Stupid!" he muttered to himself. "Stupid ballhog!"
I wonder where he got that from?
So I began to fret a bit. What if he lost his shit on the field, his frustration directed at someone else, or just at himself?
"BALLHOG!" he was still muttering under his breath. "They'll never let me play."

Hoo boy. This was going to be awesome.

When we got home I got a phone call from another mother. Apparently, our two boys will not be playing in the game because, out of 12 kids, the coach chose 9 to be on the team. Our kids were not chosen. They will be alternates, in case someone doesn't show up or gets hurt.


"They'll never let me play."

Oh. It was making more sense to me now.

I asked Max about it, and boy, was that a mistake. It was like I kicked a hornet's nest, right in my living room. Instead of crowing about his goal, excitement coming out of every pore, his eyes had lost their sparkle and the grin had faded. He was disappointed - mostly, it seemed, with himself for not sharing the goal with his teammates. He was convinced that he had cost himself a place on the team. But now, remembering, his face darkened even further.

The story tumbled out. Out of the 12 kids who showed up to practice today, only nine kids were going to play in the game. During practice the coach had the nine chosen for the team play against the three alternates. The alternates were embarrassed. Hurt. Confused. And angry.
Boy, was he angry.

Nine against three. No wonder he was so pissed.

I grasped at straws, tried to redirect, tried to keep it positive. Keep it light. It's a game, remember?

"But you still scored a goal? Nine players against three, and your team still scored? That is amazing!"
It's supposed to be fun, after all.

Right? Aren't games supposed to be fun? Did we really need alternates? Did kids really need to be singled out for exclusion on such a small team? When your team has 12 players, shouldn't everyone get a chance to shine?

No. Apparently not. And just for a moment, I understood those parents who advocate giving everyone who plays in the game a trophy. The ones who think that no one needs to lose. That everyone is a winner.

But just for a moment.

Because honestly, my kid didn't even mention not being chosen for the team when he got in the car after practice. And he didn't care who won. His eyes were bright and his smile was sunny when he was telling me about the scrimmage that day. He was so excited, so proud of his goal, that he wasn't even thinking about the game next week - not until I brought it up. The smile didn't fade until he started reflecting on the practice as a whole, when he began to worry that he might have made someone feel excluded.

He had forgetten that he, himself, had been feeling excluded at the beginning of practice - excluded by his coach no less. The person that was supposed to be teaching teamwork had instead shown that a team doesn't need everyone, to work.

Instead of focusing on that, that judgement being handed down in front of the whole team, Max was worried that someone missed out, or had their feelings hurt, because of his own actions.

Because he was so focused on scoring.
So focused on winning.

He was mad that he had forgotten that games were supposed to be about fun and teamwork.

"One of the kids Coach chose for the team won't even be here next an alternate might actually get to play." he explained to me over dinner. "But I don't need to play." he continued, chewing on his pizza. "It doesn't matter as much to me as it did to the other kids. I'd happily give them the spot, and just sit on the bench. Really, I don't mind. As long as I can play at practice."

"Thank you." I said to myself, silently.

Whether he plays next week or not, I know that in his heart my kid is a good sport and a kind person - which is far more important than being good AT a sport, if you ask me. I mean, don't get me wrong - it's a great feeling to score a goal, or get chosen for the team, or win MVP. But isn't it possible that the MVP is not, necessarily, on the field?

There is value in being a good teammate, I think.

Whatever happens, I hope that nothing will dim the light that was shining in his eyes after playing this afternoon. Because in the end, it's a game, and he loves to play. And he loves his team.

Even if he's not allowed to play with them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Remarkably, the babysitter is not returning my text

After the shenanigans of Friday night, it did not come as a huge surprise that the babysitter was not anxious to babysit for us again. I mean, after all...... the last time she saw me I was on the floor of my kitchen and my husband was hustling her out the door, assuring her that I was "just a little tired."

But I have a special mixology class to attend (NO DRINKING THE STUDY MATERIALS THANKYOUVERYMUCH), and Sam has to work, and I am afraid that my kids are going to be stuck sitting on the floor playing videogames for an hour while I learn how to make the perfect martini. And as I sit here, clutching my phone, praying for a text in return saying that OF COURSE she can watch my lovely children, well.......I'm getting panicky.

I blame this all on Playcare.

Playcare was a kick-ass place in our mall where you could drop off your kids, pay an hourly fee, and leave them to have their faces covered in (pre-authorized) paint, their energy burned in the bouncy castle, their minds numbed by the movies, and their tummys filled with the yummy food court treats I left in their cubbies. It was a win-win situation. They could have fun, and I could go to the gynecologist by myself.

Last week, I had a doctor's appointment, and it happened to be spring break. So I loaded the kids in the car and left home an hour early, driving directly to the mall. They were beside themselves with glee.
"I am going to have a UNICORN painted on my face!" Lucy exclaimed.
"I'm going to have a scar put on mine!" Max crowed.
"WE WANT FRENCH FRIES!" they hollered from the backseat.

No problem. Got to the mall and headed straight for Playcare. The kids were running at top speed, weaving between the old guys sitting in folding chairs waiting their turn to sing karaoke, and the tables from the farmer's market. They rounded the corner, screeched to a stop and reached for the door - and froze.

Because it was Verizon Wireless.

Playcare was now yet another cellular communications outpost.

Playcare had gone out of business. Or relocated. Or.......who cares. They were gone. Right when I needed them most, when I had finally come to rely on them from time to time, when I had let myself trust again.....they were't there for me.

The kids were crushed. I WAS DEVASTATED.

"Now what are we going to do?" They were whining. We bought french fries and walked through the mall to the car - despondent. We drove to the doctor's office and trudged through the parking lot. They flopped down in chairs in the waiting room and looked at me woefully. I handed Max my cellphone. "Sorry dude. Don't ride in the elevator. I'll be out in a minute."

And now I am afraid I might have to do it again - drag them along on a long planned commitment, because I can't get a last minute babysitter.

Now, granted, sitting around watching grownups make cocktails (side note: why does that word make me laugh like Beavis and Butthead?) WHY???) is a lot more fun than watching your mom get a pelvic exam. But Playcare has left me in the lurch, rejected and dejected. I don't have the same fun I don't let them watch cartoons, and when i try to paint their faces they look like members of the Insane Clown Posse.

Which reminds me - I have to go buy more facepaints.

And thank god, the baby sitter just texted me and said she can watch them. Which is good - because I don't really want Max making martinis yet.

Wait....maybe I do.

Monday, March 28, 2011

If we had to depend on child labor to put a roof over our heads, it would be made out of Legos.

My mother in law sends weird books for my kids. One was a copy of Brer Rabbit that uses the phrase "tar baby" over and over again. We hid that one under the bed. Another popular gift around here was a copy of "Kids At Work" which is about child labor in the early 1900s, featuring photos by Lewis Hine.

I leave that one on the coffee table - which adults find intriguing, and children find vaguely threatening.

Which is how I like it. Don't want anyone getting TOO COMFORTABLE around here.

But it's happened anyway. Today Max came home from school, chucked his backpack on the floor, flopped down on the couch, and watched Johnny Depp playing Willy Wonka. While Oompa Loompas swam in rivers of liquid chocolate, he methodically worked his way through a bag of pretzels, then lay on the floor buried in pillows and Legos, completely exhausted by the 6 hours he spent at school, sitting around learning stuff and climbing trees between well-balanced meals lovingly packed by me this morning.

When the credits began to roll, he wandered out, and I asked him to grab his spelling list so we could study together for his test. He rolled his eyes, as though I had asked him to look up each word in the dictionary and then write out a definition for that word complete with the proper phonetic pronounciation and inflection marks. You know, like WE USED TO DO WITH OUR SPELLING WORDS.


All I wanted was to read the list of words together, before he returned to his relentless pursuit of the most aerodynamic paper airplane design, or the biggest booger, or coolest Lego armored vehicle, or whatever the hell he had scheduled for the evening. It wasn't too much to ask.

Or so I thought.

Amidst much gasping and moaning and shuffling of feet and eye rolling, he rooted around in his backpack.

And then he froze. Because he didn't have his spelling list.


I am going to admit this right now: I cracked.
I won't go into a long-winded rant about "Kids These Days".

But seriously. KIDS THESE DAYS.

We can coddle them, and go through their bags each day to make sure they have indeed put everything they need in their backpacks. We can leave them responsible for the consequences if they don't, and then seethe while they sit in their room staring at the wall because they forgot to bring home their math book AGAIN and can't do any homework AGAIN. But I don't like either one of those options. I want option C. I want to raise kids who can fend for themselves when I release them into this world.

I read this book, and this article, and I just shake my head in absolute bewilderment. I have a nice kid, who cannot even be bothered to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket without being reminded. And he does absolutely the bare minimum of homework, fighting every step of the way.

The kids in these books were working 12 hours a day, sometimes without food, usually without the proper clothes and shoes, and many times they were the sole source of support for their family. They lived terrible, awful lives. And it is still happening, around the world today. Kids are working on production lines, meanwhile my kid won't produce a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Kids are at work risking life and limb, my kid isn't allowed to slice a bagel without supervision.

And you know what - I don't think I am doing my kid any favors.
I am not suggesting that he go out and get a job. But I think I can expect more of him.
Tomorrow, he is totally slicing his own damn bagel.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Get out of my trust tree, you freak

I made a big hole in my brand new sock. I was already in an ornery mood. I was still vaguely hung over from Friday night (more on that later) and all I wanted to do was cut the damn tag out of my damn socks and put them in the damn washing machine, damnit.

I muttered to myself as I tried to pull the loose thread back into the sock. "Stupid engagement ring, snags on everything. Ruined my new sock. LOOK AT THIS." I waved the sock at Sam. "Stupid ring ruined my sock."

"What?!" Sam feigned shock and dismay. I glared at him. "That ring is a symbol of our love! A symbol of our trust. The circle of trust."

"No it isn't" I said flatly, still yanking my sock, trying to get it to re-absorb the snag. "There IS no circle of trust."

"Oh Yes!" Sam insisted. "It's part of the circle of trust. A branch of our trust tree!" He was practically singing in his effort to mock me.

"Our trust tree." I put down the sock. Max was sitting at the kitchen counter giggling into the other sock and avoiding eye contact with either of us. "Our TRUST TREE? You are such an idiot."

"Yes!" he was insistent. And still with that fucking singy-song voice. "The trust tree!"

Good god. I had to laugh. I mean, how do you not laugh at a full grown man mincing around the kitchen in slipper socks yapping about a trust tree?

That right there is the perfect example of why we have been together for as long as we have. He makes me laugh, even when I simultaneously want to punch him in the nuts. And tree or circle or whatever the hell it is that we have going on, there sure is a lot of trust.

Even when it is completely undeserved.

Like on Friday night, when I hired a sitter and told him we were going to a wine tasting and then a benefit - held on opposite ends of the island. We hadn't been out in ages, and I wanted to get as much fun as we could into one night of babysitting. So, he trusted me. And when we got to the wine tasting and they were serving wine in one corner, and gin martinis in the other, he trusted me when I said it would be fine if I drank both. And then when they were also making vodka martinis, he trusted me when I said I was just going to taste a little of everything. Because it was a tasting! I had to vote! And when I ate my weight in gorgonzola and then told him I was totally full, and would be fine without dinner, he trusted me then too.

And when we got to the benefit and I had a margarita, he trusted me when I said I was having fun. And halfway through the first Margarita when I started dancing like this:

He trusted me then too.

And halfway through the second margarita when I tried to dance with him and ended up just sort of dangling from his neck and straddling his knee for balance? Still very trusting.

And 10 minutes later, when I told him I felt like I was going to throw up? He trusted me on that. He got me out of that bar in record time.

And when we got home and I told him I needed to lie down on the kitchen floor for a minute?
Yep. He left me there, trusting that I knew what I needed to do.

And when I woke up the next morning covered in toast crumbs and clutching a bottle of Advil, you can trust me: I knew exactly who had made me toast, and forced me to drink two glasses of water and take 3 Advil before I climbed into my trust tree and went to sleep.

I have no idea why he trusts me like that. You'd think he would learn by now.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Marrying Kind

Today I spent the day at home, just catching up on laundry and cooking and.........napping.
I was napping, all right?

Because here's the thing: Now that I am not working at the restaurant I am bored. And also broke.

Lots of women wish they could be a stay-at-home mom. All late lunches and hair appointments and lounging by the pool. I am here to tell you that it can be mind-numbingly boring. And when you don't have a paycheck coming in, it is a lot harder to pay for lunches out, or nail appointments, or bikini waxes or nose piercings. If I do anything but sit at home - if I spend one cent on anything other than groceries or gas or clothes for the kids, I feel like a jerk.

Because poor Sami is at work, while I am off spending his money.

And it's true.
Yes, it is.
Don't argue with me.

I hate not having a job. Hate It.

So I have come up with something New And Fun to keep me busy and also bring in some cash.

No, I'm not working for a 900 number. Good idea, though.

I'm going to officiate at weddings.

That's right.

I got my ass ORDAINED.

And if there was ever anyone in the world LESS QUALIFIED to be a minister, well, I think you'd be hard pressed to find them. And also, I have to work on not shouting FUCK when I get excited.

And I think I have to wear pants. Or something.

But I am totally going to be great at this. I am going to marry the HELL out of people.

Bonus: I can perform exorcisms and give last rites.

Daffodil is now a Doctor of Divinity.

There is one last step before I can legally seal two people in wedded bliss and red tape. I have to wait for the state to approve me. Which quite frankly makes me more nervous than getting ordained. The church can forgive anything. The registrar? Notsomuch.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I have finally figured out why spending time with my mother makes me feel like I am losing my mind

I have just taken my parents to the airport.

I am sure it was all they could do to not jump out of the car and run at full speed through the airport to the security checkpoint, leaving me standing in the airport driveway all sweaty and disheveled in my terry cloth shorts, thigh-high poker-themed socks, and cowboy boots, with a tanktop that says 4:20 on the back.


It was the end of our week-long vacation together. We spent 2 days and nights in a hotel room: my parents, my children, and me. Then! We flew back to Maui and spent 5 days together, virtually non-stop except for the day that I left the house to get some groceries and came home three hours later with a takeout box of french fries and no groceries. Because I spent those three hours with my friend Joyce who was helping me do my deep breathing, and offering me cocktails - which I was too afraid to drink lest my mother have further proof that I drink too much. Which I really don't.

I swear.

And here's the thing. I have figured out why my mother and I make each other nuts and inadvertantly hurt each other's feelings. It's because I am my mother's daughter. I hate to admit it, and I would deny it strenuously if someone tried to put forth that theory. But in a moment of  clarity, I have realized that it is true. And all of you who are violently shaking your heads because you are nothing like the woman who raised you....well......Whatever you say, sweetheart.

For example, here are a few of our similarities:

We find the same things incredibly obnoxious.
We find the same things funny.
We get drunk after 1 drink if we haven't had enough to eat first.
We are reticent to go somewhere that we do not know anyone.
We automatically assume that we are imposing if we are a guest in someone's home.
We like to sit around in our bathrobe and drink tea and blow our nose.

And while it was a lovely visit, and did not culminate in my screaming obscenities or her telling me I was just like my father, this week has involved much to little time in our bathrobes, and much too much time in much to little space.
In a perfect world, the vacation would have been planned with lots of togetherness and maybe a little not-together-so-much-ness.

And so I offer you an outline for visits with parents. We began to hammer this out over the past few days, and I know that each subsequent visit we share will be all the better for it.

First day - Yay! Reunited and it feels so good.....everyone is on their best behavior. All meals are shared. Don't get drunk before the others do. Have dessert. Say goodnight and go to bed. In seperate rooms. Suites are a bad idea. Having only one bathroom is also a bad idea. On this vacation we discovered that lobby bathrooms are a blessing, and people sharing hotel rooms should use them more.

Second day - have breakfast together, discuss things that each of you would like to do.
Like whether or not you want to have breakfast together.
Everyone should have some ideas and opinions so that one person does not feel like the designated social planner, and so that the other person can't complain that they didn't get to do anything they wanted to do. For the love of god, during this discussion, no one should utter the words "I don't care, whatever you think/want to do/have planned is fine with me."

Then decide if you are going to spend the rest of the day together or not. Make a general outline of plans, leaving plenty of flex time for last minute adventures, and time spent apart so that people can, you know, poop and have sex and stuff.

Not that I am suggesting that your mother has sex. Of course she doesn't - don't be ridiculous.

All subsequent days shall be planned similarly. Make contact the night before or in the morning via a pre-determined method ("See you at dinner, we can discuss it then." or "Just send a text when you wake up." or "Give me a call - if I am asleep it will go to voicemail and I'll call you back." is a great way to start that conversation.)

Side note: If you want to spend every waking moment together, you should really clear that ahead of time with all parties. Because, that might not be exactly what they had in mind.

And for the love of god, if someone hands you their car keys and says "Go have fun! I have some stuff to do, and then I am picking up the kids and getting ready for the dinner party." and then they don't answer their cellphone - don't take it personally. Take it as an opportunity to do something you really want to do - or to do nothing at all. Just do it somewhere else.

Other fun facts:

If someone gives you their bedroom, they really want you to sleep there. Really.
Because trust me, if there were ANY OTHER VIABLE OPTION it would have been exercised.

If someone goes into their room and closes the door, don't check on them. They're fine. Really.

If someone is sitting on the sofa comfortably reading a book, and you have to go do something, tell them where you are going and leave them be.

If someone says they have to go run an errand and then disappears, they may be doing it on purpose. Fill your time accordingly. Leave a message and carry on.

The biggest advice I think we would have to share is not to sweat the small stuff. Or even the medium-sized stuff. It's not going to be all sunshine and rainbows. Not even in Maui. But it can still be a perfectly lovely visit. Especially if you have enough Xanax and red wine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm pretty sure getting hit by a dumptruck is an emergency. 911 begs to differ.

Yesterday after school, the kids and I took my parents to the school's favorite swimming hole and waterfall.

The entire school walks there a few times a year, usually in May when it gets really hot in the classrooms, down a long winding dirt road. It is one of the things our kids love most about the school (naturally) and they wanted to show their grandparents this cool secret spot.

So we parked and walked down the dirt road, then hiked through the woods and across a small stream, and spent a little while skipping stones across the swimming hole before we headed home.

As we drove down the dirt road, we bumped over pot holes and steered around blind corners - and just before the very last corner, maybe 200 yards from the highway, a dumptruck came swerving around the bend on the wrong side of the road. My side of the road. The bucket end of the dumptruck was fishtailing slightly, with gravel and dust swirling everywhere. The engine veered back to the right, and into the bushes as he roared past, scraping only the back bumper and then breaking a tail light as he tore off through the jungle.

My father and I jumped out of the car and ran back to assess the damage. I tried to make out a letter or number on the plate that was coated in mud and grime. Frustrated by my shitty eyesight and the fact that the guy didn't even stop, I contemplated hopping in the car, making a u-turn, and following him, since catching up to him on the narrow roads would be relatively easy. But then I remembered that he was driving a DUMP TRUCK and could very easily cause a lot more damage if felt threatened or cornered. Envisioning a dumptruck coming at me in reverse, I decided to just let it go. I climbed back in the car.

"Did you see THAT?" Max crowed "It was a TRANSFORMER!"

I ignored him and dialed 911. The operator who answered the phone said "911. Do you have an emergency?"

"Yes, we just got side swiped by a dumptruck."

"Is anyone injured?"

"Just my car."

"Call the non-emergency line." And he read out a phone number and hung up.

I sat there, stunned. So I am driving down a narrow country road minding my own business, and some asshole can hit me and drive away, and I am not allowed to call 911? A hit and run isn't an emergency?

I called the non-emergency line, chagrined.

The operator kept asking me to spell the name of the street I was on. The location didn't matter. The landmarks didn't matter. She needed the exact spelling. I couldn't even tell you what day it was at that point, I was so stunned. Spelling the name of the country road I was on was not in my skill set at that point.

"I found it. An officer is on the way."

I tried to remember what the truck looked like. "It was orange right? The cab was orange? And the bucket was yellow?"

"It was orange and yellow." Mom agreed. "Yes." My step dad nodded. "Orange in front, Yellow in the back."

The paint on the back of my car was yellow. It made sense.

"It was orange in front, and yellow in the back, and it had a TRANSFORMERS logo on the front!" Max was really worked up - but also had the most detailed description of the vehicle out of the 5 witnesses.

We all sat there glumly, waiting for a police officer, as the dump truck made his escape through the jungle.

It's a small island, and someday I am going to see that damned dumptruck again. But it won't matter, the responding officer explained. "If they don't stop, and we don't catch them right away, there's not much we can do."

Oh really?

Let me tell YOU something.
If I ever see that dumptruck again, HE'S going to be the one calling 911. And I promise you, this time it's going to be an emergency.

I am pretty sure this wins for rudest use of cellphone

I love my phone. I talk, I text, I tweet, I facebook, I photograph, I email, I surf the web.


I like to think that no matter how much time I spend on that damn thing, that I have some common sense.

In the slightly modified words of Kenny Rogers: you gotta know when to hold 'em, and know when to phone 'em. Know when to walk away, know when to hit "ignore".

Yesterday we were enjoying an amazing lunch at a gorgeous ocean front restaurant on the beautiful North Shore, which is a really special occasion kind of place. Pricey, but worth the splurge for a special event or once in a life-time trip to Maui kind of place. We went there for dinner when we bought our first house, to celebrate. That kind of special. My parents had never been there, and the view is phenomenal, so I wanted them to see it for themselves. And of course, I wanted them to have a memorable meal. Which they did. But for a very different reason then I had intended.

We had a gorgeous view right by the window, looking out on the beach and the ocean beyond. There was a light breeze, the palm trees rustled, there was a hushed murmer and clinking of glasses. The waves were crashing. We ordered drinks and looked around. My friend is a chef at this particular restaurant, and his wife had told him we were coming - he left the kitchen and came over to the table to say hello. We chatted, hugged, and he went back to work. We enjoyed the view and sipped on frozen drinks with umbrellas.

Sitting at the very next table were four people. I have no idea how - or if - they were related. I have no idea how well they knew each other. And from the outside, it seemed a mis-matched group.

There was an older couple, very refined, in slacks and collared shirts, a style sometimes referred to as "island casual" or "resortwear". With them was a couple in their 40's. Not refined. Not refined as in, he was in this beautiful restaurant in a tank top, with what we suspect was supposed to be Jesus H Christ himself tattooed on his shoulder. And I am here to tell you that there is nothing like 5 star dining with a good view of armpit hair and Jesus. She was dressed more appropriately, but showed her lack of refinement by shouting at a man standing out front, through the window of the restaurant, while seated at her table.

Surprisingly, their behavior was actually better than the refined older woman.
I didn't think she had it in her, but she managed to shock and appall everyone in our section of the restaurant.

She had a cellphone. Her phone kept ringing. And every time it rang, she answered it.
The first time, she excused her self, and walked out of range. I don't know if she left the restaurant, but I assume so - this is not the sort of place where people conduct lunches with phones and laptops on the table.

The second time, she once again excused herself from the table.
And came and sat in front of ours.
Right on the windowsill.
There she sat - with her butt planted not a foot away from me, chattering away on her phone. My view was now of her back.

I sat there, and methodically continued to eat. I was not going to make a scene. I didn't know who these people were - or who they thought they were - but they were illustrating clearly that money did not buy taste. Or manners, apparently.

My mother was horrified.
My stepfather was bemused.
I was disgusted.

I wanted to tap her on the shoulder with my fork and ask why, if she felt she needed to excuse herself from HEr table, why on earth she thought she should join MINE?

I wanted to shove her right out the window with one well-placed stiletto to the ass.

I wanted to stand up and find the manager and ask them to remove her AND HER phone from the restaurant.

And oh OH how I wanted to take a photo of her and tweet and facebook her terrible behavior all over the internet.

But my phone stayed in my purse, my foot stayed on the floor, my fork stayed on my plate, and her ass stayed on the windowsill. And afterward when she returned to her table, she apologized to her companions.
".......sorry about that!"

If only she had turned around and apologized to everyone else in the restaurant.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I wonder if I will always be the one who's outside looking in?

I am back from a few days away with my kids and my mom and stepdad and  lot of time spent cursing at my Blackberry as I tried to FIND PLACES and LOOK THINGS UP and FIGURE THINGS OUT. My blackberry and I were not working well together, that is for sure. It was all elbows bumping and knobby knees and awkward. Everything felt awkward, until I realized sometime in the middle of the second day that when I am with my mom, I feel like I am right back in junior highschool. Not in a good way. It's like my kids are actually my siblings and mom wishes we would all get better table manners and work on our posture.

Here is how I remember 9th grade. My underwear on a tree. That pretty much sums it up. We went on a class trip, and one day I looked out the window of the hostel and my underwear was hanging on a tree. And everyone thought it was fucking hysterical, and I was laughing - a bit - until I realized that it was not even clean underwear. And then it was just totally not funny anymore and I was mortified. And I still feel like that most of the time. The weird kid. Only now, I'm a grown up.

Being grown up is not quite the revelation I had expected and hoped for and counted on. I don't have a fabulous career or a fancy home. I still feel weird and awkward. I spend a lot of time napping and reading facebook and wondering why I am not doing all of the fun stuff other people are doing, and being successful and pretty and fertile. I spend the rest of the time trying not to embarrass myself, because I do like to do THINGS and go PLACES and plan STUFF. Many times people who know me stand around and watch and I know they are thinking to themselves "What the *fuck* is she doing?" But they accept it as me being, well, me. And then they excuse themselves and go back to their normal jobs and organized lives and wonder what the hell is wrong with me, anyway.

People who do not know me stand around with their mouths hanging open thinking to themselves "What the fuck is she doing?" And then they shake their heads (in sadness or digust - I haven't examined it that closely) and they edge away so as not to be associated with my silliness.

The effect of this is to make me always feel slightly uncomfortable. Something will sound like a great idea, and I will happily throw myself full-on into whatever it is. And then someone will walk by and say "Uh, what are you doing?" or better "Why are you doing that?" and I will come crashing back down to earth.

OR I will have a really great idea, or want to ask someone a question, and I will send them a text or an email and be met with.....silence. No response at all. This especially happens with people who do not know me - for instance: other bloggers. I will email them with a question - about their hometown, say - and receive nothing in response. And then I realize that my email full of what I thought were witty questions, actually had the appearance of a crazy overbearing internet weirdo, and that these poor people who don't know me do the internet equivalent of shaking their heads and edging away.

Which is a reminder of why I hesitate to reach out to people I don't know in real life. In fact, this is why I still haven't gone to a blogging conference. Because I remember the emails I have sent that have never been responded to and I will do anything to avoid introducing myself to someone and having their eyes flash with recognition when they hear my name: "Oh" they'll think "that's the weird one who sent my that email asking to meet and go rollerskating in San Francisco! Oh dear lord, no sudden moves, just back away slowly. Sloooowly, now. And find security."

The fear of rejection is all-encompassing. And sometimes I miss out because of that hesitation. And not just in the theoretical, hypothetical situations that I have thusfar avoided.

A mom and I talked about getting together for a playdate during vacation. This is one of those glamorous moms with a career and a life and I stood there in my dirty jeans, barefoot, with a hat on because I hadn't shampooed that day, and I gave her my number and took down hers, but then I didn't text her. Because I didn't want to bother her, didn't want to be overbearing or needy or pushy. And she, of course didn't call me. Because, I reasoned, she was just being polite when we were talking about the playdate. She has much better things to do and more glamorous places to be then sitting in my tiny livingroom in my ghetto neighborhood sipping tea. Right? Just let her edge away, Daffodil. Don't make it weird at school by calling and texting and forcing her to find an excuse not to hang out.

I am absolutely 100% shocked every time someone contacts me and asks me to do something with them. It's as though I am forever going to be that 14 year old girl out in the wind and the rain, picking my underwear out of the tree while my classmates stand inside and watch me, laughing hysterically.

But this morning I steeled myself, and texted her, inviting her kid over for a playdate. She responded, and actually said she didn't text because she didn't want to seem pushy. And I stood there with my stupid Blackberry and my mother and my kids in my ghetto house and I laughed. I laughed because I was relieved that she wasn't just being polite when she took my number last week. And I laughed that anyone could ever be afraid to bother the girl who's underwear is hanging on the shrub outside.

I think that as adults, many of us still feel the outsider. And I wonder how many of us are missing out on wonderful things because we are too nervous to try, or make excuses because we are too busy to make time. I wonder how many of us are just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, for the invitation in the mail, for the mother on the next bench at the playground who looks really nice to come and sit by you and stick out her hand and say "Hello. Let's be friends."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Getting out the shredder and the hardhat: Domestic Goddess at work

My parents will be here in 2 days. I am leaving in 4 hours to fly to another island to meet them and spend a few days in Target. They have a Target there. I'll be in the housewares.

My bedroom - where they shall stay - is still completely unlivable and someone is coming to look at the sofa in 30 minutes and I am still in bed in my lobster print flannel bathrobe. And I'm hungry.

All of this means that I have to kick into high gear and power throught the morning. And the first thing I have to tackle is the pile of crap in the corner over there. I am dreading it. Bills and recepts and stuff I don't know what to do with but don't want to throw away.  Like 15 lipbalms, old sunglasses that got scratched, mini bottles of hand lotion, and pennies that are stuck together with some combination of melted coughdrops and dirt.

There is a lot of that stuff.

I think part of my issue is that I am a world-class procrastinator and maker of piles and stasher of stuff.

I am also lazy.

But not yesterday! Yesterday I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher! And we were busy making Irish Soda Bread and I put away ALL of my clean clothes and then we even made it to a protest where we stood on the side of the road waving signs about the proposed budget and listening to classic rock and the kids got their photos taken. Which reminds me, I gotta get the paper - they might be in it.

Shit. Another thing on my to-do list.

ANYWAY I am breaking out the shredder and tackling this big pile and then I am dragging the box spring into Max's room (don't ask) and then oh, I don't know, maybe I'll PACK or something and then, as a last resort, I will attempt to make my room presentable for house guests. Luckily, I have to leave to catch a flight so you know, if I don't have time to get it done, well.........I guess that's not an option.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I don't think you can discriminate against families like that.....can you?

Today I spoke with a customer service representative who, when I said that I thought that their policy regarding online check-in for families (it's not allowed) was unfair, said "That is your problem."

Huh. Actually, I think I am going to make it HIS problem.
I'm traveling alone with the kids tomorrow. I can't wait. No, really. It's going to be awesome.

You would think that flying inter-island would be somehow easier than flying to the mainland. But in fact it is not easier. It is the same amount of difficult as flying anywhere, but compressed into a much shorter period of time on a much smaller plane.

Here (for those without children) is how tomorrow is going to go (parents, I put this part in italics so that you can skip ahead and avoid a full-fledged panic attack/PTSD flashback about your last family vacation):

First, we get to walk to the bus because parking is expensive and the lot gets full and why not take public transportation? So I have the carry-on luggage and the water bottles and the snacks and the toys and the books and the booster seat because Lucy is five and you have to ride in a booster until you are eight and darnit SAFETY FIRST. And we get to the bus stop and there is nowhere to sit and it is raining because it always rains when I take the bus and there is no bus shelter so we stand in the rain and we wait and cars drive by and we are splashed by the puddles but THAT'S OKAY BECAUSE WE ARE GOING ON VACATION. Then the bus finally comes and I load everything and everyone onto the bus. THEN we get to the airport, gather up the water bottles and toys and books and bags and get everything and everyone off the bus, cross several lanes of traffic, and wait in a line to check in with the TSA agent. Then we get to pick up all of the stuff, and then I have to cheer the children on, as we trudge over to security. THEN we get to take off our shoes, and our coats, and dump out any water in their water bottles, take out my laptop and GPS and ziplock baggie of toothpaste and deodorant and nose spray, and put it all in seperate bins on the belt. And then we go through the metal detector one at a time, my son going first, my daughter following, and me at the end. Twice, because I forgot to take off my bracelet.

Then we put on all the shoes and sweaters and pack up the laptop and the GPS and the baggie, and we gather all of our things, and go back for the things that we forget - like the water bottles and the booster seat and that bracelet they made me take off. And then we go back again for my son's socks because he thought he should take those off too.

Then we go up the escalators and walk to our gate. Where we sit and wait. Then we gather up all of our things, and board the aircraft with everyone, and hope that some jerk hasn't used up every inch of overhead space. Then we fly for 20 minutes, land, and gather all of the books and toys and water bottles and crayons and Highlights magazines and baggies of crackers because for some reason my kids cannot sit down without expecting to be fed. We re-pack the bags for the 4th time today, and I try to hurry everyone off the plane but we are never fast enough for the Big Important Person who has a connection and they are always rightbehindme shoving their bag into my butt in case I have forgotten that they are important and busy and on a tight schedule and BEHIND ME.

We finally get off the plane and we look for a family bathroom and we all go in and I hold ALL of the bags and the booster seat and the water bottles and the kids take turns facing the wall while the other one pees and then we wash hands and then we all put on our backpacks and refill the water bottles because it's dry in here isn't it and then we walk all the way through the airport to the baggage claim but we don't have bags so we walk through the doors and across the road to the center island to wait for a shuttle bus to take us to the car rental counter and the bus takes forever and there is no where to sit and cars are zooming by inches away and MY GOODNESS OUR LEGS ARE SO TIRED AND CAN'T WE JUST SIT DOWN FOR A MINUTE MAMA PLEASE. And I finally agree reluctantly that they can set their bags down and sit on them. And then they want a snack and some water. And then the shuttle comes. So we stand up and gather all of our belongings including snacks and water bottles and bags and backpacks and that &^%$#@ booster seat and we try to get on the bus but two people with huge suitcases have to get their suitcases on first so we stand there holding our bags and our snacks and the water bottles and then my phone is ringing and I am answering it while lifting children and their bags and backpacks and the booster seat onto the bus and then we are riding and Lucy needs to pee again and the bus stops 3 more times and she REALLY HAS TO PEE MAMA and then we get to the car rental agency and those people with the big bags shove their way to the front while I am gathering water bottles and backpacks and so we have to stand there ON the bus while they get all of their bags off and then we run inside and find the bathroom and I stand outside and hold all the bags and water bottles and the booster seat and the sweaters too so they don't fall in the toilet, while they both go in to their respective bathrooms and I stand outside nervously waiting for them to emerge safely and then we gather up all of our bags and get in line and wait and wait and wait while the couple with all the luggage realizes that they can't fit 5 full size suitcases plus golf clubs into the sub compact so then they want to upgrade, but they hate red cars and the seats have to be comfortable and she won't drive a Ford because she had a Ford once and it was unreliable and he won't drive a foreign automobile it's gotta be MADE IN THE USA and they want a free GPS and you just want to take your GPS out of your carry on and throw it at his HEAD if only it would get you through this line faster.

And then you get in the car and throw the booster seat in the back and hand everyone a snack and a water bottle and put the address to the hotel in the GPS and then you are just in time for rush hour and you sit in traffic for another hour before you finally get to your hotel where the whole damn thing starts all over again with the car and the bags and the waiting and the lines and the elevator and then you are in the room and you throw everything on the ground and the kids announce that they are hungry and want to go out to dinner even though you only left the house 2 hours ago and they have eaten three times since then.

SO we are leaving tomorrow, and tonight I went online to check in. We are only bringing carry-on luggage, because A. I can't bring suitcases on the bus and B. I hate waiting in line to check bags and then waiting again to pick up the bags. Like I need any more WAITING to be happening. And C. I am taking a 20 minute flight and only staying away for 2 nights. We need next to nothing except for all of the CRAP that they need every second of the day that I cannot possibly check. So I typed in the confirmation code, and my name, and then a message popped up on my screen that said I couldn't check in online because I was flying with an infant.


I am NOT flying with an infant unless someone hands me one at the gate.

So I called the airline because clearly, this is just a mix up. My kids are in grade school. I paid for three full-fare tickets. And even if I was flying with an infant, I have checked in online many MANY times with other airlines, and I can't remember this ever being an issue. But then again, it has been SO LONG since I flew with an infant I honestly can't remember.


I called the airline and a real person answered and she checked my reservation and no, it doesn't show that I am traveling with an infant. But there is nothing she can do. I will have to go check in at the counter.

Me: "...........Okay, um....thank you?"

No. Waiting in an extra line to check in at the counter when I don't have any checked bags is DUMB. And also, obnoxious with two kids. And also, would require me getting to the airport 3 hours early, because I would have to take the earlier bus. THREE HOURS EARLY for a TWENTY MINUTE FLIGHT. I would also then have to buy lunch at the airport, or bring lunch and carry it on the bus and through the lines and past security.

So, I decide to drive down to the airport tonight without the kids and their stuff, and check in at the counter. Fine. I will follow their rules. I love to take a nice peaceful evening drive alone. So I get in my car and off I go. I get to the counter at about 8:30pm. The counter is closed.

BUT they do have two electronic check in kiosks that are working. Four are out of order but two of them are working ! So I type in my confirmation number and lo and behold our reservation pops up and I check us in and I hit print and.............


I wait.

And wait.

I hit the button for a receipt.


I walk over to another counter and ask if it is possible that there is an agent somewhere who works for the airline I am flying tomorrow, in the back, maybe? Who might be able to help me? No. They are gone. Their counter is closed.

She is kind. She understands that I am just trying to get a boarding pass so I don't have to take an earlier bus and wait in yet another line with two kids. I just want my boarding passes.

The machine is broken. Or something. Sorry.

So, I pick up my phone and try to call the airline but they have this cute little thing where their number spells out a slogan. And there are no letters on my cellphone number pad. I start trying to remember which letters correspond with which number key. I keep getting the wrong number.

So I go out to the car and I call information and they connect me and the same woman I spoke with an hour before answers and I say "Hi, we spoke earlier." And then I tell her that we are at the airport checking in and no one is there and I really just want my boarding passes tonight so I don't have to deal with the extra line tomorrow and the printer doesn't work and what should I do. She asks if I want to speak to her supervisor.

Not really. But okay.

So then HE gets on the phone and tells me that this is the policy. People with wheelchairs and people with children have to check in at the counter. I tell him I was just AT the counter, and my boarding passes wouldn't print. He checks the computer. I am indeed checked in. I explain that without boarding passes I will still have to wait in that line for no reason. There is a glimmer of hope. A sense of decency. He tries to get someone - someone who is still at the airport working - to come back to the counter and print out my passes. They refuse. There is nothing he can do. I will have to check in tomorrow. At the counter. Their policy is you cannot check in the night before if you are traveling with children. You have to check in the day of travel. At the counter.

I tell him that I know it won't make any difference but I really want someone to know that I think this policy is lousy. That I want to use their airline - I really do - but that they are making it really hard. That I fly a lot, and have never had this issue before. That I just want to check in tonight and avoid standing in line with my kids.

He tells me "That is your problem."

And you know, it might be.
But I don't think so.

I don't think it is asking too much to be able to check in your family the night before and print boarding passes.

In fact, I think refusing to allow parents to print boarding passes for their entire family online, when the company offers online check in, may be discriminatory.

It is definitely a bad business practice.

And so I am writing this. I am also writing to my newspapers. And to the representative from their competitor, because perhaps their new advertising campaign needs to say something like "FLY WITH US. WE LOVE KIDS AND WE DON'T MAKE THEM STAND IN LINE FOR NO REASON."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Perspective on Disaster Preparedness

I lied. I said I wasn't going to write about the tsunami, but I am. At least, in a roundabout way.

The internet is all abuzz about the earthquakes and tsunami and volcanic eruptions and leaking radiation and nuclear explosions and the myriad other ways that hellfire is being rained down on Japan. I don't know why it is all happening there, to them, on the same long weekend.

But it is.

And at the same time that we are sitting in front of these videos on CNN and youtube and facebook and our evening news, people are talking about disaster preparedness. How you should use this as an example of why you should be better prepared for an emergency.

I am here to tell you that if a tsunami is heading your way, or if your home is reduced to rubble in an earthquake or tornado or other horrible awful disaster, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference how much toilet paper you have, or whether you have enough bottled water, or if your first aid kit is stocked.

Entire towns are gone.
People are DEAD.

And I am going to bet that a whole bunch of those people had kick ass first aid kits, bottled water, canned goods, flashlights and batteries, possibly a bag of safety helmets and masks, and maybe even a bomb shelter in the yard.

These people were prepared. To say that they weren't prepared, to say that they didn't take the threat seriously, to say that they would be alive if they had done more, or done it better, or been faster.....

You cannot run for your life with a case of bottled water.
First aid kits that are buried in mud and rocks and pieces of building and cars, all under 15 feet of rushing water will be no use at all.

The most important thing that this has taught me - this, and the tsunami 5 years ago, and the earthquake in Haiti, and the flooding after Katrina, and all of the other awful terrible things that happen in this world - they have taught me two things.

Respond to every warning as if your life is at stake.
Head to higher ground.


Not a building.
Not a car.
Not a bridge.
Not a tree.

Find a fucking hill - the highest one around - and RUN UP IT. Bring your children. Bring your elders. Bring the people who are weaker than you. Make sure everyone is awake, and aware, and MOVING.

And if you have time to grab a first aid kit, or an umbrella (for protection from elements and to signal rescuers) or a flashlight, or water, or food.......well, great. Good on you.

But the most important thing you can escape with is your life.

A Boy and his Gun

Today was Big! Playdate! Day! here. And I know you are wondering how I could possibly manage to sit and write with a playdate going on fast and furious behind me.

I can write, because the playdate is OVER.

It all started with a NERF gun.

I am very anti-gun. We do not hunt. I do not know how to shoot a gun. I am not comfortable around guns. My parents never had guns, nor my grandparents. I am blissfully gun-ignorant. And I like it that way.

But not Max. Max has been fashioning guns out of everything from toilet paper tubes to sticks to pieces of plastic pipe to Legos. He has been known to duct tape pieces of wood together into the general shape of a gun. And each time, the weapon was taken away and we would repeat the mantra "Guns are not Toys".

Except, guns ARE toys. They have gun video games at the amusement center. There are water cannons at the water park that shoot water 50 feet in the air. And there are NERF guns.

Max has been begging for a NERF gun for months. Years. FOREVER. And for Valentine's Day, I succumbed and bought him one. Touching, isn't it? What better gift for Valentine's Day I ASK YOU. I went to Walmart, and I stood there for over an hour carefully mulling the options. And man, they got options. There were guns of all shapes and sizes. I was horrified at the selection, dumbfounded by the packaging illustrating all the many ways you could use your gun to shoot things. So I chose the one that seemed least "gun-y". It came apart! It could be put back together! You could make three different KINDS of guns with it. IT HAD A FLASHLIGHT. It was the swiss army knife of NERF guns.

And he was thrilled. He ripped open the box. I was declared "The Best Mom Ever". And then, within 5 minutes, he wanted to go back to the store. He needed more accessories. More foam bullets. I said no. Absolutely not.

A few days later, a friend came over - and brought a duffle bag FULL of NERF guns. They immediately set about "optimizing" the gun Max had just gotten. Making it shoot further, faster, with more noise. They wanted to spray paint it silver, which I flatly refused. I was horrified. This was exactly what I didn't want to happen. He was making the gun more, well.....gun-like. But they seemed to be having fun, and laughing, and it was foam bullets. A few days later, I even let him get a few extra foam bullets for the next time he had a friend over. I could see how it would be fun. I tried not to make a big deal out of it.

And I know I played my hand right, because in a few days he was bored with the whole thing. He didn't have anyone to shoot the gun with. And he certainly wasn't allowed to shoot it AT anyone. We had ground rules: he had to play with it outside, and not around younger children. And he could play NERF with another kid only if that child ALSO had a NERF gun, so that I knew the mom would be okay with it. With all of those rules, the gun sat in his room, dismantled. Sometimes he would half-heartedly reassemble it, but mostly he just sat around turning the flashlight on and off.

Eventually, he went back to his Legos, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Until today.

Today, we had two kids over to play. This was the house of fun. I was making a pot of tea for the tea party, and cutting up strawberries, when one of the little girls came down the hallway and said "At least I got one of his bullets!" She held a neon orange foam "bullet" up in the air.

I dropped the strawberry I was cutting, and marched down the hall.

"I want that NERF gun in my room IMMEDIATELY." I informed him. I was very calm. There was no shouting. It was just a clear statement. Smaller kids were around, the NERF gun should not be. And certainly not in my house. I stood in the doorway to his room, with my hands on my hips.

 He turned around, and was holding the biggest, hugest NERF gun I had ever seen. It was absolutely enormous.

It did not turn into a flashlight.

I almost threw up.

It's size cannot be overstated. It was a bazooka-sized gun. I held out a hand to take it, and almost dropped it on the floor. It weighed at least 10 pounds.

All of the accessories were brought into my room. And both NERF guns. Because now there were two of them.

While I was in LA last weekend, my husband apparently took my son out and bought him the largest NERF gun on the market.

No discussion (although there were weeks of discussion before the purchase of the first gun).
No notification.
In fact, it was the very gun I had specifically told Max he was not allowed to have, because it was unnecessary and aggressive and yucky.

After the guns had been confiscated, he went into his room, got his electric drum kit and synthesizer, brought them out to the den, and began to play. I walked up quietly and bent over him. "Take those back to your room. Now. And close the door."

Then he decided that the only thing left to do was go outside.
And play on the street.
Without permission.

Lucy promptly followed him outside and proceeded to pull out her bike, planning - apparently - to ride it without the benefit of helmet OR adult supervision.

The other mothers were called. These are mothers who do not own guns, who are not comfortable around guns, and who do not buy toy guns for their children. I apologized profusely that the gun(S!!!!) had been brought out. I also apologized for the children being outside without my knowledge or permission (The boys walked out while I was feeding the girls, Lucy walked outside while I was peeing. BECAUSE GOD FORBID I GO TO THE BATHROOM.)

The kids are now in their rooms. Thinking about rules, and making good choices.

Sami is officially sleeping on the couch. With the new NERF gun shoved as far as possible up his ass.

And I am taking a muscle relaxer, because my jaw is clenched so tightly I am afraid I might break a molar.

***I am not posting about the tsunami because here in Hawaii I was completely unaffected, and while some parts of the island were flooded and damaged, it was minimal compared to Japan. I have seen several videos from the regions affected most seriously, and know that my experience with the tsunami, or the lack of the tsunami, or the annoyance with having evacuations and sirens all night long, well......I got nothing. I just don't have anything to say. I send my thoughts to the people who's lives were devastated - or ended. The phrase "take the high road" has a whole new meaning.***

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Traveling with the rollergirls. The action is in the parking lot. Also known as After the Pimp Showed Up

As we staggered up the stairs to our room, loaded down with skates and suitcases, the girls on the balcony informed us gleefully that we had missed all the excitement.

Pointing and gesturing, they relayed to us a tale of two vehicles in the parking lot.
Vehicle number one was a big red truck, that appeared to be parked diagonally across several parking spaces.

Vehicle number two was a late model Subaru sedan, parked in the lower lot.

The gist of the story was that the truck had been parked, and the Subaru had driven directly into the rear corner of the truck, pushing it into the next parking space amid much squealing of tires.

Then the Subaru had attempted to leave.

And if I understand this part of the story correctly, several rollergirls ran downstairs and jumped in front of the Subaru, preventing him from exiting the lot.

Because OF COURSE THEY DID. And that, that right there, is the most important piece of the story of Roller Derby. These chicks can AND WILL literally jump in front of moving vehicles.

Rollergirls are like fucking superheroes and I, for one, would buy that comic book. (And by the way, don't think I am not already coming up with a comic book outlining this exact event.)

So after the tale had been told, and retold multiple times with varying degrees of accuracy depending on how drunk the storyteller was at the time of the retelling, we all stood around waiting to see What Happened Next.

I spare you the suspense. what happened was exactly NOTHING.
Because remember, we are in LA. And in LA police do not have the time to mediate every parking lot fender bender. If you haven't been shot, and if you aren't having some sort of big movie premiere requiring traffic redirection and crowd control, well......the impression I got was that you probably aren't going to get a real quick response.

But had the cops even been called? When they failed to arrive after an hour or so, the concensus was that no one had even called the cops because everyone involved was so stoned and/or drunk that they didn't want the cops involved.
Including the witnesses.
HOWEVER subsequent events led me to believe that there were additional illegal activities transpiring on the premises, perhaps even involving these very same individuals, which may have also led to them choosing to work this out amongst themselves. Because that night, we realized that aside from being a place to lay our heads, this motel was also a working establishment.

Yes, indeed. We had a pimp, ladies and gentleman.

Complete with hat and cane, we had our very own pimp daddy working the ghettotel.

I know this, because I almost ran him over with the minivan full of drunk girls on Saturday night as one of his employees was processing a transaction with him in the parking lot. I saw the whole thing on my rearview camera thing on the dashboard. I put the van in reverse, the camera came on and BAM there was the hand-off, right there in all of it's black-and-white, security-camera-footage-quality glory. I slammed on the brakes as one of the (very VERY drunk) girls leaned forward and started shouting at the employee as she hastily left the area. A barrage of insults flew forth. My mouth dropped open and I took a sharp intake of breath - I was horrified. And also, scared shitless.

In one fluid motion I hit all four window buttons and the power door locks. The doors locked, the windows closed, and the van was in drive before anyone could blink.

"EVERYONE SHUT THE HELL UP YOU ARE GOING TO GET US SHOT THIS IS L FUCKING A WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!" We rolled down the hill and unlocked the doors briefly so another girl could jump in. And then I hit the gas, waved at our teammates who had just pulled into the parking lot, and pointed the van towards the promise of naked hot ladies on poles.

We were to be sadly disappointed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let's start at the very beginning. Hereafter known as "before the pimp showed up".

I was sitting in my seat on the airplane and realized that my nose kind of hurt. Right where the piercing was.


So I got up and walked to the bathroom and stood there staring at my nose in horror. The side of my nose that was pierced had swollen, and the stud had disappeared somewhere inside the cartiledge. I performed something akin to minor outpatient surgery in that airplane bathroom, and managed to extricate the stud and then returned to my seat, nauseous and feeling sort of faint from the pain and the blood and the swelling that was actually limiting my air supply if I breathed through my nose. And so commenced the mouth breathing.

I don't know about you, but I don't find anything more attractive than a nostril with a gigantic bloody infected hole in it.

I could already tell: this trip was going to be AWESOME.

We landed in LA in the middle of the afternoon and headed off to pick up rental cars. We jumped on side by side escalators. Their escalator actually went down to baggage claim and car rentals. Mine went to ticketing. So I had to go back up, and then turn around and get on the correct escalator, in order to actually leave the building and catch my shuttle. 45 minutes later, I was finally in a rental car, and horribly lost in my attempt to go find the rest of the girls at a different rental counter.

As I drove down a one way, dead end street, heading the wrong direction, I was close to tears and my GPS kept saying "turn right" but there WAS no right at which to turn. And right about then I remembered that I hated driving in LA. There was much texting and confusion, and finally it was determined that I would make my way back to the motel, alone, as night was quickly advancing and I was petrified, feezing cold, and starving. I typed the motel's address into my GPS, put the car in drive and got on the highway with my hazard lights on.

Because I thought everyone else on the road deserved the warning.

I drove through some areas that made me extremely uncomfortable, which precluded my getting gas even though my gas light was on, which added to my sense of impending doom. Why my car rental company only had cars with empty gas tanks is a mystery I have yet to solve. But I can tell you this - their employees should stop making big signs that say "Customer Service is our Number One Priority" and start filling the gas tanks of their cars. Because that is a really important customer service.

I finally pulled into the motel, almost 3 hours after landing, and did a happy dance in the parking lot - then I stuck my bag in the room, jumped in the car, and went to find some antibiotic cream, some hydrogen peroxide, and dinner. I hit a goldmine on Third, where I came across a Whole Foods, a CVS, and a shopping mall called the Grove. I stocked up on antibacterials and organics, and went back to the hotel to eat, then headed off to The Doll Factory to register for the event that was the impetus for this ridiculous trip:
March Radness

Once we were all signed in and wearing our snazzy wristbands that would get us into the facility for the next 4 days, we headed back to the hotel, and I dropped off mypaperwork and camp t-shirt. Then I focused on my to-do list.

Item Number One: In-n-Out

I turned on the GPS, typed in "in-n-out" and hit GO. In 10 minutes I was cruising down Hollywood Blvd headed towards animal-style madness and a chocolate shake. There was actually a line out to the street, which indicated that I was in the right place. I drove back to the motel with my burger on the seat next to me, afraid to eat it while I was driving on the freeway. When I got back to my room, the rest of the girls had arrived. We cracked a bottle of champagne, opened a few PBRs, picked bedmates and settled in.

The Rollergirls were officially on vacation.

Tune in tomorrow where I begin wearing stretchpants like it's my job, and every morning begins with donuts.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Traveling with the rollergirls: strippers, hookers, but no fire down below.

When last we spoke, I was headed off for a weekend with the rollergirls in beautiful California. I am writing this at 9:11 on Sunday morning as I sit at the airport, waiting for my flight.

I have not slept.

I am carrying half of my belongings in a grocery bag.

I have more eye makeup on right now (14 hours after it was applied) then I have worn since my wedding 12 years ago.

And some guy is doing aerobics in front of me at the gate. He is lying on his back stretching and pedaling his legs in the air and crunching and doing leg lifts and I, for one, wish he would just sit down and chill the fuck out. AND OH MY GOD they are playing some sort of motivational/mariachi music here at Southwest. Why is this happening to me again, at the airport, first thing in the morning? And they keep announcing that I am supposed to maintain close personal contact with my luggage at all times. I do not want any trouble with TSA today, because I have no idea what is IN my luggage. I packed in the dark, half naked, while I took a few slugs out of a bottle of champagne that was on top of the mini fridge.

So I am straddling my suitcase.

God I need more coffee.

I think now would be an appropriate time for us all to take a deep cleansing breath, a Xanax, and a look back on the weekend and say to ourselves:

"What the FUCK is wrong with this state?"

We have had a very memorable 4 days, but last night we wanted to have a grand finale of sorts. we managed quite nicely, thank you very much, and we will run the highlight reel once I have reviewed the photos on facebook, and untagged anything that could be incriminating.

Last night, after a full evening of roller derby and beverages and ice cream, we made it to a strip club. I will be the very first to say that I love strip clubs, and we were all looking forward to our big city strip club adventure.

Where do I begin.

First and foremost, I am most disappointed with the fact that the girls in the "strip club" last night didn't actually strip. (This would be your first opportunity to say to yourself "What the fuck?" And I, for one, am right there with you.) I saw more nudity in a freezing cold warehouse at 9pm drinking free beer with my teammates, then I did at 1am at that whateverthehellitwas we were at, that was definitely not a strip club, due to the significant lack of stripping going on.

I knew we were going to have a problem when we did a search on the GPS and the name of the club came up "Jimbo's Fun Bags" or "Dumbo's Clown Room" or something like that. I wasn't interested in seeing naked clowns, or elephants for that matter. I just wanted to take my teammates to see some pole dancing. Naked pole dancing. I didn't know it was necessary to specify nudity but apparently, in California at least, IT TOTALLY IS.

Half of the girls sat there clutching their dollar bills staring up at the stage, just waiting for someone to get naked so they could throw money at them. When they realized the girls on stage weren't going to get naked, they started looking around to see if anyone ELSE in the club might consider it.

The other half of the girls vacated the premises right around the time that one of the definitely-not-naked dancers leaned over the railing and made out with one of our teammates. After that, it became clear that we were probably the most entertaining part of that club (of any club, for that matter - those dancers really didn't know what kind of crowd they had on their hands) and I am pretty sure we had more fun standing in the parking lot than ANYONE was having inside.

Now, don't get me wrong. Jimbos or Dumbos or whatever the hell it's called was a nice little club, but we are used to seeing several of our very hot teammates get almost naked and make out with chicks on a semi-regular basis. So for us to go to a club, and be entertained, you gotta do some pretty special stuff.

And you gotta do that stuff naked.

It's time for me to get on my flight, but I will be back to tell you about all of the things that would quaify as pretty special stuff. Like vintage purple thong leotards, a guy named Sully, Thelma and Louise part deux, and angry, angry homeless people who hurl energy bars at passerbys.

Because I am pretty sure that shit only happens in LA.

And whilst there is a wireless option showing up on my computer saying "free public wifi" there does not, actually, appear to be any wifi connection whatsoever. Much like the ghettotel wifi, which also came up as a wireless connection, and then disappeared into the ether as soon as I attempted to connect to it.

I fucking hate it here and I cannot WAIT to get home. I didn't even get to buy more Fire Down Below yet, which is, in the end, one of my greatest disappointments about the time I have spent here in LA.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Save water - shower with a friend

Tomorrow morning I am climbing out of bed, driving down the mountain, and then flying to Los Angeles.

I fucking hate LA.

But I am sure this trip will be TONS of fun, if only because I am traveling with a roving band of roller girls and god help me, we're all staying in one room.

All nine of us.

I have rammed as many layers as possible into a carry-on bag, which was already filled after I packed my skates and knee pads. I am forgoing the elbow pads, wrist guards and helmets because I know better than to get on a track with the caliber of skaters I will be watching this weekend.

I want to make it home in one piece, with my worst complaint being the terrible hangover I am expecting.

Packing was interesting. The list on my phone included "pills" and "razor" and "power cord" but I assure you these are not for anything other than their intended use. I have to bring so many things now......I miss the days of throwing a tank top, a swim suit, and a few pairs of underpants in a ziplock and jumping on a plane.

I really used to do that, you know.

Now I have to carefully make a list and check it three times to make sure I have all of my prescriptions, pillows, teabags, power cords, and the insurance cards, drivers licence and printed out boarding passes.

I also have my trusty GPS Glenda2

The last time I drove in LA I was almost in tears before I got to my exit. The highways near downtown do not have breakdown lanes, so if you get confused, or want to re-read the directions, you cannot pull over - you have to get off.

And in LA, you do not just "get off the highway" unless you are 100% sure where you are.

And in LA, I never know where the hell I am.

So I am going to sit back, and let Glenda tell me what to do. I will pop a Xanax and let her take the lead.

Because I'm on vacation, dammit, and I dont want to have to think about anything except where the closest In-N-Out burger is, and how many milkshakes I have had so far today.