Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lemme show you a trick

Today, my son learned a new trick at school.

Hold up your hand, all 5 fingers extended.

Fold in your thumb and fore finger.

Fold in your pinky and ring finger.

Giggle maniacally and wave your one remaining finger around in the air until you are sent to the Vice Principal.

I am so proud, my heart is bursting.

What a Kodak moment that must have been.

While my son was giving his teacher the finger, I was taking a test myself. The Liquor Control exam. I passed, and I am now officially authorized by the County of Maui to serve liquor. And control it. Or something. Anyhoo, I have a bright shiny new photo ID, and the picture isn't too bad, and I don't have to go through this again for 4 years. And while the urge to wave my middle finger in the air was very hard to suppress, I managed just fine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The sky is falling

I have decided that CNN.com can no longer be my homepage. I cannot have that level of anxiety every time I log in to my computer. I just can't. So this here is going to be my last post about current, news making events for a good long while. I mean, I am still going to share MY personal events. But I am not going to be addressing news items. I have nothing to add, and frankly, I don't want to think about it anymore then I absolutely have to - this is supposed to be my safe place, dammit.

But back to CNN.com. Today, we had missing children, crazy weather, stampedes, financial collapse, war, death.....and Scarlett Johanssen got married. That was the only link I even felt compelled to click on at 7am. No pictures. Fuck. Throw me a BONE people. One blurry telephoto-lens shot ? Not ONE ? No caterer taking photos on her cellphone ? Come ON!

So, there I was, at 7am, surveying the news, and longing for something, ANYTHING, just slightly less then completely depressing. Kids in feezers, tainted baby formula, recruiters committing suicide, gas shortages, and on and on and on. Not one single positive story. Everything was fatalistic, doom and gloom, blood and guts, heartbreak and hysteria. I know all of this "stuff" is out there. I am not an ostrich. I am not hiding from reality - I am just maybe taking a little breaky-poo.

It's familiar - I'm feeling the way I feel every four years - helpless. Only this year, the election and the war are joined by some sort of financial crisis. Whether it's real or invented or blown out of proportion or way worse then we realize - none of it matters. It is what it is, and we just have to figure out where to take our own, personal next step. If each of us takes steps in the right direction - away from unsecured debt, towards stability and freedom - then the world will be a better place. La di da. That is easier said then done. I didn't mean to have unsecured debt. But my property value tanked and my expenses went up and I decided to become a freelance writer, and, well.
Well. You can imagine.

I read an article today that said that the cash infusion from the "bailout" would allow people to borrow money again.


Have we not learned ANYTHING from this experience ? Who's the ostrich ? In *most* countries, homes are paid for in cash or trade. So are cars. And vacations and food and utilities. Here in the good old USA, your gold card is as good as, well, gold. Maybe better in this market. You can pay for everything, from McDonalds to the mortgage, with a credit card (believe me, I know these things, it can be done.)

So now what? We are in the hole, and lots of people (shit, I hope I am not the only one. Please tell me I am not the only one.) have a mortgage, and a credit card, and a car loan, and student loans and all the while, our expenses are going up up up.

So I am sitting here, carefully NOT looking at CNN.com, and counting my blessings.

Because even as the stock market tanks, I take stock of what we have - not on paper, but in our lives. And it's pretty damn good. Even if it was just us and my car, we would be OK. More then OK. We'd be together. And we wouldn't have to work every second of every day to make ends meet, just to keep a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. So I really, finally, feel very at peace. Whatever happens, happens. We all do the best we can, and that is the best we can do.

Brownie ?

The Spins

This morning, I woke up after a particularly raucous Sunday, that began with a Bloody Mary and ended...well, I am not even going to go there. Let's just say it was a *very* long day, and momma is tired.

I am running in several directions at once these days, trying to keep everything straight and organized. I have work, and of course that UNSPEAKABLE Liquor Control Board exam, and I have 3 travel inquiries I am working on, only one of which is even vaguely straightforward. So I am in the middle of this tremendous learning curve and it is making me QUITE CRANKY.

I know I am feeling cranky because I went to Mana, and bought 3 different kinds of bread. Bagels, a baguette and a loaf of sliced wheat bread. I don't know why, I couldn't stop myself so there you have it - bread. A lot of bread. I should really go eat some bread RIGHT NOW. I am trying to think of things to put on the bread.....maybe cheese ? Tomatos ? Ham ? All of those options sound pretty good to me, so I am going forth, to the other side of the kitchen counter, to rustle up some, uh, bread.

I am also feeling cranky because our neighborhood has gotten really obnoxiously loud lately. Harleys, sports cars, obnoxious stereo systems, all tooling down our little street at all hours. Like this hour right now, which is NAP TIME.

See ? Cranky. I told you. If I had a uterus, I would say I had PMS. If I hadn't already gone through menopause, I would blame that. But no, I am just a bitchy girl today.

Where was I ? Oh, right. Bread.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'm in love, and his name is Linus

Deep breath folks, it's true confessions time once again here at Adventures in Paradise.

I just (JUST !) wrote a column about how I was not a pet person. How I just didn't really like animals as pets. How I had problems with shedding, and litter boxes, and all the other details and responsiblities that come with pet ownership.

And then yesterday, I was walking through Lahaina, on a back street that I have never walked down in my life, and I came up a tropical plant store. In the window of that store was Linus.

All I can say is, the world stood still, and my heart skipped a beat, and we exchanged a long look that said everything without saying a word. I could practically feel my cellular make-up shifting under my skin. I went from not really wanting a pet, to needing to BUY a pet. I'm not talking about falling in love at the animal shelter - I was actually ready to hand over my AMEX and walk out with a pet.

I didn't, I am trying (trying SO HARD) to control myself. Alack and Alas, I am afraid I may end up returning to Lahaina (the land of the unbearable sun) for my beloved. Leaving him behind left a pain in my heart.

Oh Linus.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


This post goes out to the special brand of schmuck, who helped him- or herself to the money I put in the safe at work at the end of my shift yesterday. This morning, when my boss called and told me my deposit paperwork was there without the money, I wasn't able to truly express my feelings about you, whoever the hell you are. I couldn't explain the position I suddenly found myself in because of your actions, and the horrible cold that settled in the pit of my stomach. It came rushing back to me so suddenly, from a place I had hid it away years ago.

I am many, many things. Lazy, rude, loud, obnoxious, short tempered, distracted...but I am not a thief. Never, in all my life, have I stolen money. Once, I stole a pack of gum, but I was 6, and I was so scarred by being taken back to the store to apologize, I never even considered taking ANYTHING EVER AGAIN.

I think the thing that makes this missing money so awful is that it comes down to my word. I know my word is good. My friends know my word is good. But this is a new job, and they don't know me as well as my friends do. They have no reason to believe me or trust me - I am the new girl, unproven as of yet.

Which is why the most important thing in all of this is that my relatively new boss, thank god, took me at my word - I told him I put the money in the safe, that a supervisor counted the money and saw me put the money in the safe, that it definitely went in the safe. My words were tumbling out, I was so anxious to tell him that it wasn't me. It was all I could do not to scream it out loud.

And my boss said exactly what I needed to hear: "Don't worry. You did everything exactly right."

There were no blanketed accusations, no insinuations, no pumping for details - he took me at my word. And my word is good.

11 years ago, I found myself in a very different scenario. I was working for a large retail chain, and had been promoted to a floor supervisor, and suddenly money started disappearing from my register. There is a long and complicated story, but basically I had a pretty good idea of who had taken the money, and it seemed obvious to me based on timing and other work schedules and previous items gone missing, who the person was who had actually taken the money.....but Corporate Loss Prevention kicked in, and I was brought into a back office and questioned, for an extended period of time. My word was worthless in their mind. There were comments like "We know that sometimes, people need a little extra money, and this seems like a good way to get it." and "I know you are having issues with your boyfriend, and looking for a new place to live, and trying to save up a security deposit." and finally "It seems strange that it always goes missing when you are working."

I broke down and cried.

But of course I didn't have the money, and I didn't know for sure who did. I was mortified and I felt so HELPLESS. I couldn't defend myself. It was all circumstantial, even thought I felt that clearly, circumstances pointed to another employee. So, as soon as money went missing on a day I WASN'T at work, and I felt that I had been vindicated, I quit. I certainly never got an apology. I was so angry that I was put in that position, that there was no way to lock my register drawer and know that I was the only one using it, that I couldn't protect myself from being victimized.

So today, when I got this call, and my boss said that the money wasn't there, this panic rose up in my heart. I was horrified. Oh. No. Not. Again. NO.

So schmuck, this one is for you.
Fuck You. How dare you? If you need money, get another job. Sell your CD's. Get a roommate. But don't fucking steal. It's bad karma, and karma is a bitch.

And for my new boss - Thank You. Thank you for believing me, for trusting me, for taking me at my word. My word is good. I am grateful that even in the face of having money stolen from you, out of your office, in your own restaurant, that you took the time to reassure me that I hadn't done anything wrong.

****update***** the money was accounted for, all is well, and thank goodness there was no theft involved. I just love a happy ending :)

But for the record - DON'T FUCKING STEAL.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Family Curse

graphic from http://www.chrisbeetles.com/exhibition/1044/FUCK:_THE_HUMAN_ODYSSEY-AN_EXHIBITION_OF_ARTWORK_FROM_THE_BOOK_BY_MICHAEL_ROWSON
I was raised in a family where cursing was just part of the communication strategy. As a toddler, I earned a reputation for muttering and/or sighing "Jesus Cwiest" when something was frustrating me. I quickly progressed through the "taking to lord's name in vain" style of cursing, and ramped it up to calling a fellow Kindergartener a "bitch". For the record, she WAS a bitch, which is why Mrs. Smith probably did not seem that upset with me. By Junior high, there was a smattering of the F word, and by the time I was 18, curses of all shapes and sizes peppered my speech like commas. My parents' concern about my language was focused solely on it's grammatical correctness. I would get lectures almost daily about saying "I" v.s. "me" ("me and Jen or Jen and I - still have no idea which is correct.) But I could drop the f-bomb and no one would blink. Because my fahter probably used it more then I did.

As a young adult, after living on my own for a year, I moved back home for a time with my parents and brothers, running a small newspaper that was laid out in the living room. The paper had to be ready to go to the printer by a certain time, and to get to the printer, you had to take a ferry. So, you really couldn't be late, or you would literally miss the boat. We always had a pretty good idea of how things were going with the layout, based on when my father started to use the word fuck. As things started to get down to the wire, that word flew out of my father with alarming frequency. He didn't use it in sentences, though, he just threw it out there as a solitary expletive.

I am much more creative. I can use the word fuck as almost any part of speech, from adjective to verb. I really like the word - it is useful and multi-purpose, relating both good and bad feeling. I use fuck as my go-to vulgarity almost exclusively. I think that makes it better.....I am not just using any old swear word, but the authentic, tried and true, really vulgar and completely unacceptable mother of all curses.

I am giving you all of that history to explain why, in the middle of dinner the other night, my 7 year old hollered "BAD WORD" at me, and I had, literally, no idea what he was talking about.
"Dude, I did not use a bad word."
"Yes you did, I just heard you."
"What word did I use ?"
"The f word."
"No, I didn't, I would remember if I said that."
"Yes, yes you did. You said 'that's fucking ridiculous'"
"I DID ? No, I didn't, I would remember that."

We both looked over at the man of the house, to clear this matter up. My husband, the father of my son, looked back and forth between us and said "What does it say about me as a parent if I say I didn't notice ?"

See, so it's not just me. And our kids don't swear (yet).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pretty things and strippers

I like pretty things. I have a healthy appreciation for things that are handmade, useful, basic, sturdy, and locally produced. If it is in a canning jar, chances are, I want it.

Hello, My name** is Daffodil Campbell, and I am addicted to Etsy and farmers markets.

There, that is out of the way. I feel so much better. Thanks for being here for me. Moving on......

I am reading this book called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver - don't worry, this isn't going to turn into a book review, but it is important for the rest of this post to make sense. The book speaks to me. I love supporting local business, local artisans, local farmers (and farmers offer a unique blend of business and art, in my opinion, so it's a two-fer in my book).

My point (and I am getting to it, it's just taking a while....) is that I have been trying over the past few months to be more aware, in my consumption, in my purchases and in my food choices. So this book was like the holy grail - part inspiration, part challenge, part guilt trip. It speaks of a modern family living off of their land for one year, with some supplementation from other local farms at the beginning, and for meat and other items they might not be able to grow in their Virginia valley. It is all part of the Slow Food Movement, an idea that is so simple, so basic, such a historically core value, that we all should at least try to honor it in some way. It means buying local, eating fresh, supporting the economy in your area, and living a better and more connected life. Connected with the earth, the community, and yourself. Even if it is just buying veggies at the farmers market instead of Safeway, you have taken a huge step forward, slow food style.

Last night, as I lay in bed reading this Kingsolver book, soaking up all of the fabulous ideas and inspiring thoughts ("Yes ! Yes I WILL have chickens this year !") I was suddenly hit with this overwhelming craving. It was so strong, so primal, so desperate, that I had to fill it. It couldn't - nay, wouldn't - be ignored or put off for later.

So my husband got in the car and went to the gas station to buy me a package of Hostess DingDongs. I love that man. He actually bought me TWO packages, just to be safe. I have one saved for later.

Clearly, I still have a long way to go in living up to my slow food potential.

But, hey, it's good to have goals, right ? As a first step, I am going to begin documenting our meals here - I cook almost every meal at home, we eat out less often then we used to, and we try to sit down to dinner together every night. It is a step in the right direction. I am hoping that by documenting our food choices and consumption, I will be more aware of how much I am buying that is imported, unecessary, or just plain unhealthy. Living on an island, you would think this would be more of a challenge, but actually, it's not so bad - the only real difficulty is milk, as it all comes from California. I am not getting a cow, so I may need to just acquiece on this one staple item. Other then that, we can get almost everything we need produced locally. Even sugar ! This is not about losing weight, or denying myself a Hostess treat from time to time...it's just about awareness, and effort to do the right thing more often then not. Slowly but surely, our family will move away from fast food, and embrace slow food. Because slow food may not be in a pretty package, but it is far more beautiful in it's stripped down reality.

**As for the stripper name I utilize in this blog, the formula is as follows: Name of the first street you lived on, name of your first pet. This means my brothers and I all have the same stripper name, but I am the one who uses it every day, so they can suck it as far as I am concerned. Plus *little known fact alert* I used to work in a strip club. HA ! In any court of law, the judge would totally give me rights to the name.

And now, the very first installment of the Mmm Mmm Good Campbell family menus.

Locally grown items are bold
Items purchased at independently owned businesses or farmers markets are italicized
"Organic" is hard to quantify, so my focus is local.


Breakfast -
poached egg

Lunch -
pizza bites

Dinner -
Swedish meatballs (a desperate attempt to clean out my freezer, usually the meatballs ARE local - just not this time. And they were coated with sauce made from a packet I bought at IKEA this summer. This exercise is embarrassing. See, it's working already !)

Dessert -
Strawberry Rhubarb mixed berry pie
Ice Cups made by the guy next door - don't get me started. He's not getting a bold font, I'll tell you that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Relationships and road trips

Last night, I finalized our travel plans for the trip back to the East Coast. Originally, I was going to stay for 2-3 months. Now, I am staying for 3 weeks. There are a lot of reasons, not all of them are interesting, but one of the biggest reasons I am *not* staying as long is my relationships here - not just personal relationships, but yes those were a sizable consideration. Here are my girlfriends at bitch-n-brunch last weekend.

Doesn't that look like fun ? Oh we had a ball, but I didn't shorten my trip just to make sure I was around for brunch with the girls - we also value our working relationships, and commitments to the community. Here is just a partial list of the reasons why a shorter trip is better for us:

We are licensed foster parents, and I do not think it is appropriate to be gone for such a long time, when we may be needed here at a moment's notice. No, that isn't a halo over my head, it's just a fact. It is important to me to be here and available, especially for a child entering foster care during the holidays.

We are blessed with amazing friends, and we have relationships that we invest a lot of time and energy into - sharing meals and childcare, shopping and transportation - and if we just take off for 2 months those relationships will suffer from the neglect. I will miss our community terribly, even just for those few weeks.

We are employees, working for businesses both large and small - and we are lucky to enjoy our work, and to be good at what we do (though truth be told I "do" far less then Sami does in terms of employment.) Our employers count on us to show up and do our jobs - not to call in sick, or call in "surf", which is a real issue with Hawaii's workforce, especialy during a winter swell.

We are residents of Maui. Poor, poor us. Why would we ever want to go anywhere ????

And so, our trip is going to be shorter - which will once again require careful planning and tight schedules in order to get in the maximum amount of visiting and fun, and not waste a bunch of time driving all over the damn place. Why, oh why, do trips home always turn into such a stressful, expensive experience? I am learning how to set boundaries, and make plans, and keep it down to earth and simple. Stay in one place as much as possible is the first rule, and that is going to be out the window for week one, when we go from Seattle to Hartford to D.C. to NYC to Boston, never more then 2 nights in any one place. Even with my careful planning, there is still going to be far too much driving involved, but if we plan it right, it will be an adventure instead of a chore. That means finding fun places to stop along the way, from Washington D.C. straight up to Vermont. I have a long list of places I would like to get to, and I am discovering more every day. We'll be in NYC for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in Boston for Black Friday, then Sami heads home and I keep going, back to mom's, up to Vermont for snow and friends and woodstoves and Green Mountain Coffee at every gas station, traveling roads familiar to me, and new to the kids. I spent years driving these roads: as a child with my parents and grandparents; with my high school boyfriend turned husband turned ex; by myself with just a pack of Camels to keep me company along the snowy highway; and then later with my love, our baby (first in my belly and later in his carseat) before we up and moved to Paradise - leaving long stretches of deserted highway behind us in the glow of our tailights.

So this will be a homecoming of sorts for me, and I am slowly contacting my friends in the soon-to-be-frozen north. I have many people - old friends and new friends, and family too - living in New England, and I look forward to seeing them, and letting my red-cheeked kids experience snow for the first time, maybe even get them up on a bunny slope somewhere just for fun.

I swear I am not going to get political

I am trying SO HARD to not bring up the election. SO HARD that really, it feels like my eyeballs are bleeding from the pressure I am exerting on my fingers to be still.

I wrote a column about this very topic recently, and I am going to post it here, instead of screaming my feelings about the goings on over the past few days. Because I truly do not want to offend anyone. And all I have to say is thank goodness I am supporting the candidate I am, otherwise I would be totally offended by the mail filling my inbox ! As it is, I eat it up, laugh out loud, and then delete, because I am too afraid to send it to someone who might not agree.

Well, here we are again. Primary season. I love the passion that is inherent in any election: the choices, the decisions, the speeches and pageantry. The one thing I could do a little less with is the snarky commentary/bumper stickers/t-shirts that seem to find their way into every election cycle.

I try (oh, how I try) to separate my personal political opinion from my dealings with the world at large. But it is always such a shock to discover someone that (up until now) you thought was a reasonable person is in fact supporting The Other Side.

Oh Dear. How awkward. Those comments made so casually at a dinner party, where you just assumed everyone held the same basic political beliefs? Yeah. Not so much, actually. Turns out they are supporting that yahoo that you would never even consider. And when the realization slowly dawns on you, as you are standing there sipping wine from a paper cup – that You May Have Said Something Offensive – all you can do is hope that they do not take political discussions as personally as you do. You run a mental playback of the conversation thus far, trying to remember what you may have said, and how offensive it may have been to someone voting for the other guy – the one you just spent half an hour criticizing at the top of your lungs.

Oh Dear. How rude. This is just so not like you, to offend, to disparage, to cause discomfort in your fellow man. And yet, there you sit, trying desperately to repair the damage you may or may not have caused thus far, without making it worse. Because of course, if you had KNOWN that that this group was bipartisan, you certainly wouldn’t have been so blunt. So demeaning. So self-righteous. No, of course not. And now, off to lambast your host for not warning you ahead of time (perhaps even in the invitation) that there would be members of both political parties at this event. But then, another possibility to consider. What if your host is ALSO supporting the other candidate? Well, that just opens up a whole can of worms.

Oh Dear. You had no idea. You just assumed that your friends all had the common sense to support the obvious choice, the only candidate that made any sense at all. If this host has dinner guests that do not share your political persuasion, it is quite possible that not only the host, but other friends may also be supporting the other candidate – the one you malign almost daily in your mass emails and phone calls. You certainly haven’t been quiet in your support of your candidate. Ardent would actually be an accurate description of your position. Passionate, even. You hand out stickers and pins, you wear t-shirts and hats, and bumper stickers proudly adorn every smooth object in your life – from filing cabinet to car window.

Oh Dear. Now you realize that other people – people you know, people you trust, people you speak to on a regular basis – these people may exercise their political freedom and vote for the other candidate. And once the realization dawns on you, and your eyes are opened to this possibility, you have to make the decision. Can your relationships survive this election?

And this is exactly where my mother would pull out her enormous hardcover edition of Miss Manners, and thumb through, looking for tips for you. “How to recover from inadvertently offending an entire political party” – is there a chapter on that, Mom? How about “Gentle conversation during the political season”? Because those are two key points that everyone needs to keep in mind – it doesn’t matter if you live in a red state or a blue state. Every state has members of both political parties running around willy-nilly, and chances are, you are going to bump into one of the “other guys” during the course of your day. You know the bumper sticker you proudly placed on the back of your car? The one about how the other guy is a total idiot, and only idiots would vote for him? It is like giving everyone who doesn’t agree with you the finger.

And so, to quote Miss Manners, “Gentle Reader” please be gentle. Be gentle in your dealings with your fellow man. Be gentle with your self. The only thing you can control are your own actions – both in and out of the voting booth. I have many close friends that are very politically active – and passionate about their politics. They volunteer for their candidate of choice, they register voters, and they read everything they can find about all of the candidates - not just their chosen candidate. If anyone is going to have an opinion, it should be an educated opinion. To choose one candidate above the others, you need to know why – and why not.

Daily blogging. I'm exhausted.

Good God. This is a lot of WORK.
I really haven't got a thing to tell you right now.
And I *really* have to clean the house.
Here's a new picture of "the bangs". Discuss.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Preconceived notions, power trips, and yes, I have noticed

Perhaps more now then ever, I have been relying on alternative health practices - and practitioners, to improve my health both mental and physical. I see a chiropractor and now an acupuncturist, in addition to my "regular" doctors. The problem with seeing these additional health care providors is that it is not included in my health insurance coverage. And we do not have the disposable income for that "luxury" which we have deemed a necessity. So, we are definitely spending our savings on health care at this point - which is stressing me out. And today I realized that these practitioners may not properly appreciate the sacrifice that their patients make in order to receive their care and guidance. So the phone calls to set up follow-up appointments, while kind and thoughtful and part of the holistic care they are offering, is also a lot of pressure. It's like having a salesperson calling, because it really isn't a matter of "want". It is a voluntary expenditure that I would like to make of my ownfree will - a don't call me, I'll call you sort of thing.

On the outside, we look like we have it all together. Drive nice cars, "own" our own home (though technically, the bank owns our home), have clothes and food, and travel to the mainland from time to time. We don't look like we are struggling. But really, we just have good credit and (dare I say it) poor spending habits. Like a lot of our fellow Americans, we are over-extended and sort of stuck that way. So unfortunately, that time has come for me to get tough. To say "we are going to have to cut back on our visits" or just find alternatives, or people who are willing to work on a barter system.

Someone who doesn't need to worry about toughening up is the bitch I met this morning in a government office. Our government, here in Hawaii, is a bizarre mix of official and unofficial. There is a lot of back room dealings, and family benefits, and good old boy politics. Today, I had an unfortunate encounter, where I was trying to apply for something and needed to take a test, and the registration was for one hour in the early morning. The office is about 30 minutes from my house at the very VERY least, and with morning traffic, it was longer. And there was no parking. And so, even though I left as early as I could, by the time I got there and found a parking space (which was a fucking miracle in itself, let me tell you) and got to the office, it was almost the cut off time. I walked in, and the woman looked at me like I had entered some sort of inner sanctum instead of a government office, and asked if she could help me. I said I needed to register for the test, and she pointed at her clock (which was 8 minutes fast according to Verizon Wireless) and informed me that I had just missed registration, and I was out of luck. I almost cried. I was so tired, and so harried, and so stressed about taking the damn test, and had spent so much time and gas money already that morning, that truly, I thought I might lose it.

Then she handed me a slip of paper that she told me I should read so I knew what time I needed to be there. I pushed the paper back, and said "I know what time I need to be here." and turned around and left. She was SO pleased with herself, and I was SO pissed off. Here is this government building, that does not provide ANY PARKING (not even a paid long-term parking lot anywhere) and does not allow pre-registration, telling me that I need to get clear about what is expected of me. I am a taxpayer. I want to pay them to take a test, to get permission to WORK, and they are going to get all shitty like that ? It was just so cold for an early morning encounter. I am sure they see people like me all the time, and i understand about times, and rules, and that if you make exceptions for one person you have to make exceptions for all - but I spent a very long time on their website, and there was NO information about parking, or any hint that the entire process would be this complicated. It didn't say anywhere, even on the page about the test that listed the times, etc. the address of WHERE the test was being given - I had to GUESS that I needed to go to the administrative office.
I already have an issue with this department - I think they have WAY to much say, too much control, and make some decisions that seem to be full of contradictions. Rules are unclear, enforcement is patchy and can really overstep some bounds at times, and in general, they seem to be on a power trip. Beginning with the woman a the front desk. She saw me walk in, and may not have realized (or didn't care) about the lengths I had gone to, to be there this morning. I hope I never get to the point where my job is being cold and rigid. I think that might be the lowest depths of misery.

Monday, September 22, 2008

(Very) random thoughts

Sparkly body lotion - cool ? Or incredibly juvenile and tacky ? I am so torn. I have a tube of some sort of sample that says it will give me a "glow" and then, I have these bath bead thingies that are technically called "bath caviar" and they look like teeny tiny pearls. And after soaking in a bath with these babies, I am sparkly ALL OVER (if you know what I mean) and I just can't tell if it is freaky or not. I think it looks kind of cool, but maybe other people see it and go "ew. What the hell is she thinking?"

Tissues or Hankies ? Are they gross, or romantic, or should you just get over it and use some toilet paper to wipe your freaking nose as needed? Having hankies or tissues implies that you blow your nose enough to need a constantly supply of SOMETHING to blow on/in/with. And in my family, you would be absolutely correct. I come from a long line of women that could never have their nose pierced because - if they did - there would always be a shred of tissue stuck in the piercing. The only way to avoid this problem would be to use hankies - and now that I am actually contemplating a nose piercing, I am suddenly very interested in hankies. In particular, heirloom hankies, handed down through the generations of women allergy-sufferers in my family. My grandmother had a cedar box on her dresser, filled with hankies. I hope my mother or my aunt has that box (and it's collection) somewhere - because one of my favorite things to do as a little girl was stand at her dresser in a pair of stillettos, with a really bright coral lipstick oh-so-carefully applied, and a squirt of perfume behind my knees, and methodicaly go through the hankie box, and pull out all the hankies - the fine tissue-thin white cotton, the thicker linen, some with patterns, some with colors, some with embroidery - all soaked in a particular scent of cedar and perfume, all clean and neatly folded and pressed flat, just waiting to be tucked in a purse, or a sleeve. My mom does not carry hankies - she carries Kleenex. The good kind - no generic scratchy facial tissue brand for her - she's got the extra-soft stuff. Not the kind with lotion or antibacterial, because you can't use those to clean your glasses. And if you lick them in preparation for wiping off your child's face(or grandchild now - if she tried to do that to me I would knock her out) your tongue ends up all fuzzy and greasy. And she keeps her tissues in her purse and her pockets, and her car, and in every room, and in winter she usually has one or two (mostly clean) tissues up her sleeve. I don't think I will ever carry tissues in my sleeve, but I don't want to rule anything out just yet.

Walking home from school with friends - is it safe in this day and age ? Or a temptation of the fates, or asking for trouble ? Aren't we lucky to live within walking distance of our school, and shouldn't we enjoy our proximity to it's utmost ? The big question in my mind these days (after "How the hell am I going to pay the mortgage?") is: should we let our son walk home in the afternoon with his friend who lives across the street, and his friend's older sister? Is that a good first taste of freedom, or a responsibility he isn't old enough to accept or understand? It is such a hard call for me, as my natural instincts are to coddle and smother the poor things until they run from me screaming. But I don't want to err too far in the other direction either - all willy-nilly letting them do as they wish with minimal supervision. I AM home, so shouldn't I just go get him? Or should I give him a taste of sweet, sweet freedom? I just can't figure out if it's reasonable to give him the opportunity, and see if he can handle it. My biggest concern: if anyone hurt him or snatched him or if he went missing, it would kill me. I am not sure if I trust him - and the world at large - to get back and forth safely. And what if he fell down or was hit by a car or something? Would that make me NEGLIGENT? I would certainly FEEL negligent if anything happened to him. And if I was lying on the sofa waiting for him to get home and heard the ambulance siren I just know I would have a HEART ATTACK. But, for the reality check, My husband was a "latch key kid" and did all sorts of STUPID things, and lived to tell the tale. Just ask him about the spray can of lysol, the lighter, and his GIJoes. It's a cute story. As for me, beginning when I was about Max's age I went to NYC on the AMTRAK, by myself, to stay with my cousin. I survived - and she took me to CBGB's for god's sake. So maybe I am overthinking this just a bit.


I just received this email, and BOY was it timely. Saturday was the primary here in Maui - and unfortunately, one of my favorite candidates - Summer Starr - lost to Kyle Yamashita. I wonder, if more women had participated, would Summer have emerged victorious and helped to redirect our future in a more positive direction? It was a close race, and a reminder. Every election counts, and every vote counts. Please vote in November, and pass this on to encourage others to celebrate this important right that our grandmothers and great grandmothers fought for.

Our vote is our voice.

So even if you have work, or a car full of kids, or it's raining/snowing/windy/muddy/cold/hot/inconvenient, or maybe even if YOU JUST HAD ABDOMINAL SURGERY AND YOUR STOMACH IS HELD TOGETHER WITH TAPE AND STITCHES (ahem. Just sayin') get off your ass and vote. It doesn't take long, the kids can come and witness our electoral process and learn that each of us has a voice. Our family's participation in the primary led to a discussion with our kids about who we voted for and why, and why we discussed our vote even though votes are private. It was a great learning experience for them, and I was thrilled to get out of the house, I'll be honest with ya. I even brushed my teeth special for the occasion.

So without further ado: the email I received - author unknown.

Daffodil Campbell


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed
nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking
for the vote.

(Lucy Burns)
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.
Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing
went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of
'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above
her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping
for air.

(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her
head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate,
Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging,
beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917,
when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his
guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because
they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right
to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their
food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks
until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because-
-why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work?
Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new
movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle
these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling
booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the
actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote.
Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege.
Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history,
saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk
about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought
kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said.
'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use,
my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just
younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The
right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history,
social studies and government teachers would include the movie in
their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere
else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing,
but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think
a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so
hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How much longer until I can go out by myself ?

I am making my third post of the day (OK, really my second, because last time I just added on to a previous post) because I have NOTHING to do but document the minutiae of sitting around the house. I am not a "sit around the house" kind of girl. I mean, I can sit, and I can sit around, but I do tend to get out every day, either with the kids or without - but it always involves driving myself, or walking myself, to taking the bus or in some way being responsible for my own destiny.

Boy I miss that.

My first crack at controlling my post-op destiny (good lord, I say that like I am a damn tranny or something) is meeting girlfriends for brunch. After I got home from the clinic on Tuesday, I sent out my typical sarcasm-laden info-email glossing over some details, and keeping the girlfriends in the loop. While Dear Husband had done an excellent job of calling everyone to let them know the outcome, I still felt so good, and so outraged, that I wanted to put in my own two cents. And I wrapped up my missive with an invitation to Sunday Brunch. As in tomorrow.

And then, I promptly forgot that it would help to tell people WHEN to meet for brunch. So of course, today, it all came racing back to me - the brunch, the looming date, the fact that no one knew what time.....and so I may just be having brunch by myself. I shall bring a book so that I do not look too pitiful if no one actually shows up - these things happen after all. But darling Marn, who has been my gastronomical sidekick for years, and Rebake, who joined the party as soon our kindred spirits connected, have both respondezed in the life affirming so I expect they will be there to suck down a couple of bloodies. Mai is trying to find a sitter (let's say a little prayer) and the rest of the girls seriously probably have no idea what the fuck I have planned, despite a last-minute email I sent out this afternoon. And a few lucky ducks are on the mainland enjoying the glorious fall weather.

After sending out my beacon of brunch information, we had our neighbors, who were double-booked for celebratory Sunday brunch, over for a celebratory Saturday night "You're cured !" dinner of champagne, grilled short ribs and assorted sausages, rosti potatos, salad, and forest pie (rhubarb and berries) and assorted other munchables. We oohed and aahed over my new pantry design (Have I mentioned that I adore my husband ?) and the salad was a group activity involving both mommies and all three kids and a small amount of debate over who's lettuce was who's.

After dinner, and dessert, and bedtime for the kids, I was thinking about the evening, and realized that I had kept talking about How Much Things Cost during dinner. Ew. Have I become "that girl" ? I know it is tacky - and yet, I can't help myself, I am just so freaking amazed at How Much Things Cost these days. Our electric bill, which shows a fairly level usage, has gone up $70 per month recently. Food costs are spiraling (and not just those damn ice cups) and gas is ridiculous (We spend $4.79 a gallon here on Maui). And while all of these prices escalate, our debt escalates as well - because I decided to stay home and write and work part time and then of course almost immediately went on a trip, then came home and got sick, and voila, here we are. So while I REALIZE that I keep talking about how shocking prices are, I am not really doing it to complain, so much as to try to process the reality which is that things are REALLY FUCKING EXPENSIVE and I AM FREAKING OUT. This website is not income producing, and I only wait tables one or two days a week, and my writing gig doesn't even cover the electric bill, and the travel biz is slow so basically OH FUCK we have to figure something out, and it can't involve cutting costs or selling the house because we cut the costs and the real estate market is DOA. So I guess that leaves me obsessing about prices and costs and bills and debts. I shall try to spare you the gory details from now on - just wanted to let you know I was aware, and I am really gonna knock it off now.

No, really. I am going to bed.

Hopefully I will not have a repeat performance of last night's totally twisted dream theater which left me exhausted and cranky. I don't know why they prescribed me these damn sleeping pills if they are gonna make me all weird and paranoid like that. I am switching back to my "peppermint tea and a bar of chocolate" bedtime ritual. Works for me, and I got the chocolate on super sale, which was great because usually it is so damn expens.....oh fuck. Forget it. Nevermind.

Diamonds in my hawaiian ice and photos of The Hair

This morning, my husband spent almost $20 on one dozen cups of flavored ice.

I know, I can't believe it either.

He is blaming the whole thing on Max, who (I freely acknowledge) has no concept of healthy foods or budget - but still, my darling man pulled out HIS wallet and spent HIS hard-earned money on what amounts to cups of frozen syrup.

Apparently, Max negotiated this "deal" - which is why 7 year old boys are not responsible for negotiations. He thinks he got a sweet bargain. All he has actually managed is to guarantee we will NEVER BUY these things ever again. Because trust me, after the dressing down both boys received today, they would be batshit crazy to pull a repeat performance.

The sugary confections are made by our neighbor, in his kitchenette. (I know, this just gets better and better, doesn't it) and he sells them via a magnetic sign on the side of his truck - which is always parked outside of our house. And need I tell you, it is like having a damn ice cream truck parked in my driveway. "Charlie" brought over some free samples 2 weeks ago - keen salesman that he is, he could spot a sucker from over the back fence, and I am sure he knew it was an excellent investment - paying it forward, if you will. And hooooo boy, he really hit his mark. Max has been bugging us daily - literally EVERY DAY since the glorious "day of the free ice cups" - to buy more of these damn things.

Going against every parental intuition ingrained on me through years of apple and cashew butter sandwiches (thank you mama) I bought a whole bag of those disgusting "icee pops" at Walmart - the kind that come in a mesh bag, the plastic tubes filled with colored sugar water just waiting to be frozen - in the hopes of distracting him. Apparently, my plan failed miserably. This morning, while I was in bed and completely out of commission, and despite a freezer full of those disgusting pops, Max somehow connected with our neighbor, placed an order for a dozen cups, and then came back to tell Sami we owed this guy money.

By this afternoon, when I caught wind of the situation, the magnetic sign with the phone numbers was mysteriously gone from the side of the truck, my darling was out $20, and our neighbor was nowhere to be found. Smart man, he has gone underground.

So now, of course, I will have to glare at this neighbor every time I see him for taking advantage of my son, and Max has been thoroughly chastised for overstepping his budgetary bounds. And my husband ? Well, I think he is all clear on the fact that he STILL and FOREVER MORE is not allowed to use his own (seriously impaired)judgement when purchasing foods and/or snacks - obviously, pretty colors and a friendly smile are all it takes to get your hands on his hard-earned money.

No, you may not have my address.

Would you like an icee pop ? I am saving the ice cups for the good company.

P.S. I also have fresh rhubarb berry pie as pictured here, but I am not offering that to anyone, it's ALL MINE. Here's the new hair, also. I know it's already up in a ratty ponytail, and I look like hell, but give me a break. I still have steristrips holding my stomach together and I didn't sleep last night.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Maybe it's too soon ?

Apparently, a few days ago, I decided to go get my hair cut today. I don't actually remember MAKING the phone call, but Mauimom is driving me over because - conveniently - I scheduled my hair appointment to correspond with hers. I cannot believe that I was (and cannot take credit for) thinking this through so completely. I think I shall blame it on the anesthesia. I am sure there must be some left in my system SOMEWHERE, n'est pas ?

Regardless, in a short while I am going to get my haircut. Bangs may be in my future. Now, don't hold me to it, because Xena (yeah, that is my hairdresser's name - DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM?) may veto my idea right then and there - which will be the moment that I collapse into relieved sobs in her arms.

But if she thinks it is a good idea, I will have a Whole New Look - I am not sure if I really want one, or if I need one, or if it is time for one, but darnit, I am gonna get one by jingo !

IN THE MEANTIME I am trying to figure out how to pay for a copy of my medical records - apparently it costs a great deal of money to get copies (50 cents A PAGE) and so I have to find a way to either get a loan to cover my extensive medical records, or find a doctor to have them sent to. Neither option is really that appealing, I mean, they are MY medical records. But whatever, I'll find a way to get my hands on those damn papers, if it's the last thing I do (which it might, if my medical treatment continues on it's current path.)

I need to go get ready for my Big Exciting Outing, and I will post some pictures for you to critique (laugh at) but please, try to keep it to yourself, I am feeling so sensitive these days. No, really. I am.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Summer of 1980

In the summer of 1980, My brother and I were joined by a third musketeer: Little Ash, who I am sure was a sweet and cute baby. I have no recollection, really, of him as a baby (I actually have almost ZERO childhood memories, which is either a concern or a relief, frankly). But I do have this one, very clear memory of that summer. I informed the leader of my summer camp that it was my birthday.

My birthday is in February, just for the record.

Now, as a mom, I know that saying "It's my birthday" when it totally ISN'T your birthday, is no big deal. Like when my daughter announces her name is Jullila, and it totally isn't. But, the day camp decided to throw me a little birthday party, which was a big deal. And then when my mom came to pick me up, they told her all about it, and she was Not Amused. And I was caught - something that had been just an innocent, white lie was now a BIG LIE THAT I HAD TOLD. And boy, I was embarrassed. And my mother was PISSED. (Of course, she was also, like 13 months pregnant, and it was July, so you know, that probably didn't help matters.)

But anyway, my point is that as an adult, I still have that memory, and I try really hard to make sure that everyones reactions are on par with reality.

To that end, I emailed my son's teacher last week, and gave him the heads up - I was having surgery, I hadn't been well, Max seemed nervous, there were a lot of "unknown" and I didn't know whether I would be hospitalized or not, but to please know that everything was cool, and we would try to keep Max informed all the way, so he wouldn't worry. But I know how fact can translate to panic when parents are not around, so I figured it would be good for his teacher to know things were not "business as usual" at home. Plus, if someone forgot to pick Max up one day or something (ahem) he would know why.

Long story short, I had surgery, I didn't have to spend the night in the hospital, and I came back home to heal in my own bed. Hooray.


Today, Max came home with a "project". Apparently, the entire class was assigned to make me get well cards. Can you FEEL me blushing from where you are ? There are lots of very sweet messages about getting well, and coming home soon, and that they will be praying for me.

Oh. MY. God.

So, I am now pretty damn humiliated. I mean, I did not tell his teacher about my surgery so that my botched hysterectomy could become the talk of the second grade, and these poor sweet children I am sure were very surprised to see me in the carpool line today.

Let's just chalk it up to the miracle of childhood prayer, and leave it at that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sassy Pants

Oh, we are just FULL of sass over here.

It's not just me, oh no it's not. It's the kids - and SAMI, which is so totally surprising I am still reeling fom the realization.

I think it started out with me really becoming unable to cope with a lot of the usual stuff around here, so it has been passed on to Sami for handling and processing. And that maybe hasn't been the smoothest transition. Like today, we came home from an appointment and he said "I am going to get Max, and then should I get Lucy?" and I said, no, just bring him home and let him get his homework done before you get her. I began to work, and Sami, I thought, went to get Max. Half an hour later, he pops in my door "I'm going to pick up my check, and then get Max."

I tried not to freak, I really did, but honestly, I thought he had LEFT half an hour before. So, just short of screeching, I said "You haven't left yet?" And he said calmly that no, he was just leaving now, as though I was totally over reacting. Until I looked him straight in the eye and said "It's WEDNESDAY".

Wednesdays, all schools let out early for some bizarre reason. And I have struggled (oh, how I have struggled) to remember that Wednesday is early day. I have forgotten more times then I care to admit, including his very first week of school. My co workers all have to remind me it's Wednesday, so I leave work on time. I seriously cannot be trusted on Wednesdays. And I was SO PROUD of Sami for remembering (or so I thought) that when I realized that in fact he had not remembered, I was horrified, and guitl=ridden that I hadn't said it out loud at least once "You know babe, it's early day." I just totally thought he had it. I didn't want to insult him, he seemed to be totally in his groove.

So he went racing out the door (we live about 3 minutes from school) and returned shortly. He and Max were already arguing about god knows what and who really cares anyway.

Max came in to see me, looked worriedly at my bandages, and then went to do his homework. Sami still hasn't picked up his paycheck. And today is also PUPPY DAY - Girlie finally had her babies ! ELEVEN BABIES. Now, i complained about having just ONE baby - as far as I am concerned, that dog is superwoman. She had 11 puppies, by herself, in the middle of the night.

And that is one sassy bitch, if you don't mind my saying.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Feeling Groovy

It may be the massive amount of pharmaceuticals, or the fact that I was so competely soundly sleeping under anesthesia - either way, I came out of surgery and woke up and felt AWESOME.

The nurse says I was in a lot of pain when I first came around, and that she had to give me to good doses of pain medication in my IV, but thankfully I have no memory of that. I went under relaxed and joking and entirely unafraid - I was ready. And when I woke up, it was as though an enormous weight - physical and emotional, had been lifted.

Suddenly I wanted to CALL MY FRIENDS - people I have been hesitant to contact because I have been so bummed out - why call someone to complain ? I had nothing nice to say, and chose to say nothing at all. But that silence was very heavy, all around me. In my mind, in my heart, on my shoulders, in my belly. I was just so weighted down with worry and fatigue and anger and frustration.....but when I woke up on that gurney, it was gone. And so I called my friends, practically shouting into the cellphone - "I feel fucking AMAZING!" and they laughed at me, at my enthusiasm for having abdominal surgery, at my instantaneous recovery. I want to be with my girlfriends right now - dinners, and long talks and glasses of wine. I want to know what they have been up to while I have been secluded in my darkened bedroom.

I think that Sunday, we shall do brunch. A huge, champagne and benedict brunch, with waffles and biscuits 'n' gravy, and anything alse that sounds good. I just want to see them, talk to them, listen to them, hug them and thank them for waiting, for giving me the space I needed, the time I needed. I needed to be alone because I needed to protect myself - like a turtle in it's shell. I was scared, and uncertain, and retreated to safety. And they all knew there was no point in coaxing me out - that I would only come out when I was good and ready. I wasn't going to answer the phone if I didn't feel like talking, and I wasn't going to go out until I felt like I could stretch my neck waaaay out and get a good look around.

I'm back baby.

Monday, September 15, 2008

That little stinker

There is this phenomenon that other parents may be familiar with. After spending hours preparing food requested by your little darlings ("What would you like ? Carrots ? NO. Avocado ? I hate avocado. Pasta ? Well, with cheese and NO butter, and I need fresh cold water to drink.") you finally settle down with a sigh in front of some pathetic snack. Perhaps the mashed up avocados that were so emphatically rejected.

And then suddenly, someone is standing close by. So close, that you can feel their hot breath. You can sense their little eyes staring, unblinking, at something. But what ? Surely not this food. I mean, after all, they just said they didn't want it. And you made them a meal of their own, which they consumed with gusto.

"What's that, mom?"
"Can I have some?"
"You know it's made of smashed up avocado?"
"And you want it?"
"Well, actually, NO. NO you may not have it, and do you know why ? Because it is 3:30pm and I am only now sitting down to eat my lunch, and instead of a meal I am having half a mashed up avocado that you just told me you HATED. Because I offered it to you first, remember? And you said "I hate avocado." Remember? Or am I just making this up? Because if I am, if senility has crept up on me, I really hope you will tell me, dont make me suffer, don't let me embarrass myself like this, but please, DID YOU NOT JUST SAY YOU HATE AVOCADO?"
"Yes. I'll have something else."
"And again, I say NO. I am not getting up to fix you yet another complete meal, your fourth meal of the day - or is it the fifth, you see I have lost track completely, I am so fatigued by preparing your food on demand that it is difficult for me to keep track. I know I made you two before 7:15am. But no matter how many meals you have had today, I know for a fact that the last one was just, let's see, 3 minutes ago. In fact, you are still CHEWING."
"And the sink is full of dirty dishes, and I am almost out of FOOD despite going to Costco yesterday."
"So how about this. How about you take, oh, let's just pick a number, let's say FIVE MINUTES to digest before you order another course. And in those five minutes I will frantically try to consume all of this guacamole that you so resoundingly rejected until you saw me eating it. And then, I will do the dishes. And then I will turn around, with a big huge Donna Reed smile on my face and make you another "snack". Would that work for you ?"

(long pause, we stare at each other, unblinking. It is a total, old fashioned stare-off. I will not blink first, I will not blink first I will not blink first.)

"Can I have some Cool Ranch Doritos while I am waiting?"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Places I Dream Of When I Close My Eyes and Count Backwards

I am giving myself a list of pleasant things to think about as I go under tomorrow. It is part of a form of self-hypnosis. While I am not (as I have clearly stated many many MANY times before) a touchy feely airy fairy, I found during my 3rd or 4th surgery, a technique that has helped me in all future endeavors both surgical and non.

The first step on the road to discovery was taken at the urging of my surgeon in Boston. (Oh, sorry, have to give her a mention - Dr. Nina Carroll in Boston kicks some serious ass, and if you ever need a good gyno, this chick is the one to call. She is balls-out and the best surgeon. No crap, but a lot of compassion.)

OK, so back to the self-hypnosis. So Dr, Carroll recommended this tecnique that was in clinical trials at the time in Boston. She said another patient had great success with it. There is a book, and a tape. The book is called "Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster". You read the book, and then listen to the tape, every day before surgery, and then during the surgery itself. Some of it is self-hypnosis and some of it is the power of positive suggestion - but either way, it worked. I had a great surgical experience and a fast recovery, and I was a convert. After several really difficult recoveries in the past, I saw the future, and it involved headphones in the operating room.

Then when I got pregnant and got far enough along to need to think about birth (man, talk about a reality check) I decided to try hypnobirthing. And again, it worked like a charm, I chugged right along, and only ended up with an epidural because of the c-section. I was relaxed, and happy, and napping, and focused and totally in the zone (until the reality of a 9lb 8.5oz baby hit me right between the legs, and got stuck).

Gosh, sorry, another tangent. Sheesh.

Anyhoo, so yeah, these two techniques employ a lot of visualization. Visualizing beautiful calm quiet places, places where you have happy memories, places you want to go, basically anything that will distract you and keep you relaxed. (Hint, do not dream about anything that could potentially evoke drama - like dating a handsome man who you find screwing your best friend later in the dream. Or dreaming about getting to a fantasy island, including going through customs and international security, where your husband might have a body cavity search. Wait - is that just MY husband that goes through that ?

Good GOD I had better just give you some links here. OK, places I will be dreaming about as I enter the ether..... These are all location I have recently booked clients in, and I admit, I am teensy bit jealous.



This is my word for the week.

I am weary.

I walk slowly, I think slowly, I work slowly, I respond slowly. I have almost hit the wall, I think. I am behind on several projects, and so completely unable to get myself engaged. This is very unlike me.

Now, do not confuse weariness with laziness. I am *plenty* lazy, all the time. I am a lazy, lazy girl. Oh, how I love to nap and procrastinate and lie on my sofa reading People magazine and drinking tea. But I can turn that laziness on and off at a moment's notice. I can be lolling on the couch, and someone will call and invite me out - and the car will be packed and the kids buckled in 5 minutes later.

This week, I can't even answer the phone.

Today we went to Walmart and Costco. I walked, slowly, through these retail behomoths. The black hole of items made in China, or Kirkland, Washington, apparently. (Is that the next production capitol of the world ?) By the time Sami checked us out of Costco, I wanted to climb in the cart and put my head in Lucy's lap. We came home, I slept, then sat, then stood up to make dinner. Which I made sitting down because I was so, incredibly, mind-numbingly fucking WEARY.

Two more days. Two. Days. Longer.

But between now and then, I have tomorrow, stretching out endlessly before me. And I just cannot imagine doing anything except lying on the sofa and whimpering. I think I may just invite all my girlfriends to come over and grab a couch cushion, and lie next to me drinking tea and complaining about vog and politics and prices. But before I can do that, I seriously have some work to get done. I have a client's quote to work on, and a column to finish, and some other chores to do around here. I wonder if I can do them while I lie down. Maybe with my strangely dexterious toes.

I definitely will not be wearing any pants. It's a long story, but I can guarantee you that. So if you are coming over to loll on my couch, for god's sake. call first.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

10 years ago, on this very Saturday......

......Sami and I stood on Manomet Beach, and got married. It was a sunny, warm day, with a gentle breeze. The reception was a huge clambake. The food was some of the best I have ever had. Steamers, chowder, corn, swordfish, steak, chicken and lobster.

And tons of champagne, and wine, and I think we even had a keg.....

Lots of the guests slept over, by choice or because they couldn't find their car. Or their pants.

Here are some pictures.

I was a nervous bride.

And I was very, very late. Sami waited for me.

Then we got married on the beach in front of Sami's house.

And then we were very happy.

So we celebrated.

Right before Sami and I left for the hotel, I threw my bouquet...but hated to do it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Celebrating 10 years of wedded bliss, and some new duds

It is 7:10am, I have to be at the cafe shortly, but I wanted to share our wonderful day with you.

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary.

Tonight I will post pictures and more.....but for now, a photo Sami took this morning.

Roses he picked for me at dawn, a card he made himself, and lots of hugs (no kisses, he has a cold and I can't get sick before surgery !)

And then we had to run - new brakes for the truck, a breakfast shift for me.

The apron was made by my beloved SIL. The shoes I found on clearance - last pair, my size :)

Oh, happy day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Makawao Strangler is in the house - where's my hammer ?

Today, my son grabbed another boy around the neck and tried to throttle him.
For dropping his Transformer.

Not to worry, I handled the entire situation like a total pro. I sent Max into another room, gave him a spanking (a spanking for hurting someone - oh, the irony) and then......my piece de resistance. As my son looked on in horror, I took the Transformer and smashed it with a hammer, then threw it in the trash. I told my son if he EVER laid a hand on ANYONE or ANYTHING ever ever again, I would go into his room with that hammer, and just start swinging at his shelves of toys.

I know, it was not the mature response. I am sure the professionals would have plenty of options that would be far better then the one I chose. But hey, I went with my gut. And my gut said, if he is going to attempt to throttle his best buddy over a toy, that toy is WAY too important. So the toy is gone, and he is sufficiently cowed by seeing me smash his treasured possession on the kitchen floor.

And might I say, after the day I had, smashing that toy felt AWESOME ?! Is that bad ? Because truly, after experiencing it for myself, I highly recommend finding something in your home that will smash into many satisfying pieces with relatively little effort, and just beating the SHIT out of it when you are having a bad day. Not a glass, or something that could cut you, but you know, something that will take an extended beating. If you don't have a Transformer, or a Barbie car or something, maybe a squash ? I think that Gallagher was on to something when he started smashing those watermelons with a mallet. It's like primal scream therapy, but quieter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things that make me giggle

Hah ! Haha ! Hey guess what, I FINALLY F***ING FEEL BETTER. Now, my butt still hurts from the mega shots I got on Monday, and I have some sort of strange hangover from the meds, but still..... ROCK ON I don't feel like shit ! Maybe I am still punchy from the shots, or just overtired, but I am finding an awful lot of things funny.

Hot Heat
As I stepped out of my acupuncturists office, into blazing 90 degree sunshine, she gave me a hug and told me to stay warm. I got in my car and promptly burned the back of my leg on the upholstery. I had to drive part of the way home sitting on newspaper because the seat - and the car, and the island, for that matter - was so damn hot. I don't think I will have trouble staying warm.

If you hear a toot, shout "Ducks ! I hear Ducks!"
Max is not consistent about closing the bathroom door when he is peeing. God knows, when he is doing anything else in there, the bathroom door is locked tight - but peeing ? Not so much. So he was standing there, peeing, and he tooted. What can I say, we still think farts are funny around here. I stuck my head in the door and yelled "Ducks!" and he turned around and shot me that big toothy grin, and started to laugh - if he hadn't just peed, and if his pants weren't still around his ankles, he totally would have peed his pants.

Everything is smaller in Rhode Island
Last night as I fell asleep, for some odd reason I remembered a conversation I have had with Becky a number of times, trying to teach Iowans how to pronounce certain words properly. "Erin" was a name that we worked on for days, trying to teach these sweet midwesterners how to stretch the vowels and swallow the consonants as only Rhode Islanders can. For the record, the correct way to pronounce "Erin" is "EHRhin" You have to say it fast - really, really fast. No, not like that. Emphasis on the E, and add an H, and the "in" part is sort of unimportant....Sort of. Yeah, you kind of got it. Well, just keep trying. We can't all speak proper English, I guess.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A long, long time ago, I can still remember.........

When I was about 3 years old, my little brother who was maybe a year old had a seizure, and was taken away in an ambulance. I remember it clearly, the afternoon is burned in my memory, and it is, in fact, probably one of my earliest childhood memories. The fear and confusion, the panic, the shouting, the phone calls....the fact that my mother was not there, and that my father and uncle (two people that are not exactly cool calm and collected) were there, and "handling" the situation.

Still, to this day, 30 years later, I have tears in my eyes remembering. I was so damn scared. I had no idea what was going on. My mother was (as she usually is when family comes to town) at TJ Maxx with my aunt, and they were paged by customer service and told there was an emergency at home.

I remember being hustled next door to stay with Mrs. Steel and make paper chains and wait for someone to remember me, to come and get me from this strangers house where everything was unfamiliar and no one could explain what was going on. There were no hugs, no comforting words, just the typical Yankee stoicism and maybe a snack.

And yesterday, as I debated calling an ambulance for myself - something I have never done in my life nor even considered before yesterday - I called the neighbor first. The neighbor who knows my children, who has a home that is familiar to them. To come over, and be calm, and soothing, and hug the kids, and get them out of the house quickly, so that the would not see, would not know, would go through life unaware of the feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when an ambulance arrives at your home to take away someone you know and love. Once S arrived and I knew the kids were OK, and L had arrived barefoot and panicked with her tank on empty, and Sami had been called, and I had been hustled into the car instead of an ambulance much to my relief, suddenly I was able to focus on my breathing, and to be angry - very angry - that as in control as I can be even in an emergency, that I was suddenly out of control. The doctors weren't calling me back, the pain was overwhelming, I felt helpless and hopeless. And that is when I remembered.

I was not out of control. I took care of my children first. I protected them, and assured their safety and comfort and well-being before I left. So even though it seems as though I am out of control, I'm not dammit.

This disease may think it is in charge. I may be at the mercy of doctors and insurance and medications. But the bottom line is, I am at the wheel, here, and I am hanging on with white knuckles and a clear mind.

Monday, September 8, 2008

the only thing constant is change

3 posts in 24 hours is ridiculous. I need to find something to do with myself, like WORK or DRINK WATER - but those things are so easy to put off for later.

Quick update - no surgery tomorrow.
In fact, no surgery this week.

Surgery has been rescheduled for NEXT Tuesday, as my surgeon called in sick and didn't have someone on call to keep up her end of the excision.

Feeling hideous and depressed and frustrated. More of the same.

Lucy and I are going to maybe take a walk. I don't feel like it, don't feel up to it, but feel like I *should* force myself to get up and get out of the house.

My car is being cleaned as we speak by someone who has a trunk full of scrubs and brushes and cleaners and assorted waxes and buffers. It is the car's birthday on Wednesday, and I thought she deserved to be clean for her birthday.

Friday is my 10th wedding anniversary. Those ten years have just flown by. What were you doing 10 years ago ? I think I am going to go back to bed, and dream about 10 years ago for a while.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The thing about this is.....

I know, I know, it's my second post of the day, and really - Have I NOTHING better to do then blather on about nothing? But I figure only a few people are actually reading this, so I can post as much or as little as a I damn well want to, because really, who the hell cares anyway ?

Ah - a tangent. Oh, how I love those. That is the thing about blogging. Do we write in the hopes that someone cares, and will read it ? Or under the assumption that no one cares, and no one will read it, and we are just writing for the exercise, for the process, for the digestion of thought and event? It's a dichotomy I cannot get into tonight, but still, it is present in every blog that you read - or write. Along the same lines as "if a bear shits in the woods......" but in this case, the question is: if no one is reading, will you still write ?

For me, the simple short answer is "yes". I write assuming, actually, that no one will read, and then I am always surprised when someone actually does.

Tonight I am compiling Sami's call list, names and numbers of my dear friends who have all put forth multiple offers to assist whenever, however they can next week if I do indeed have surgery. I am overwhelmed with the love and support that my friends here have always offered to us. Keep in mind, we knew 2 people on island - in total, TWO PEOPLE - when we moved to Maui. Two people is not a lot of people. It is hardly the sort of thing you build a community with - but guess what. Two people are what created this crazy world. It just takes one friendly face, one offer of kindness, to form a lasting relationship. My mommy friends from the park, my girl friends from my bookclub, this chick I met in a nail salon, another one who tracked me down on mySpace, a few kids from Iowa, a girl I worked with and her mom - who I also worked with years later purely by coincidence and is now my "maui mom" - plus her sisters and their friends, and then my neighbors-turned-family and my web girls - they are all out in full force, ready and willing to assist.

It is really so incredibly thoughtful of them, because they probably think I am being a huge bitch right now. I haven't called anyone lately - mostly because I have no idea what is actually happening on Tuesday, and because I am embarrased to have yet another health crisis, but also because I hate talking about feeling like crap. It's boring. So I come on here and vent away about how crappy I feel, and then I get back to my "real life" where I try to limit my bitching to my endlessly patient husband. I eat, I sleep, I bitch - it's on repeat. Though it may seem like I am being rude, or giving everyone the cold shoulder, in actuality I am *trying* to shield everyone from my whining.

But, in an attempt to let people know what was going on, when I left the clinic on Friday, I called my mom, and my maui mom. Then I called two "representative friends" to give them the info, so that they could pass it on to others. These two women bridge the divide between neighbors, friends, and mommies, so I figure by getting them started with the info, everyone that needs to know (or gives a shit) can get the necessary info as directly, and factually, as possible. I am not creating a phone tree, for god's sake, which is *exactly* why I stopped calling people. Neediness is unattractive. Yuck. But I had better get comfortable with it fast, because holy cow, I am going to be needing everyone on deck next week.

Luckily, I can ease into this comfort with being needy - the only thing I need right now is chocolate. And maybe some tea. And definitely a pain killer. Because I may not have mentioned it lately, but I feel like shit.

Between naps and meals...........

Yesterday was spent discussing tropical destinations, and lounging by the pool, followed by a nap.

Yep, it was pretty sweet.

Last night, we went to The Melting Pot. That was not quite as fantastic.

The one thing I can say with total confidence is that clearly, I am not smart enough to patronize this fine establishment. There are a few specific reasons why I have come to this conclusion. First: The menu is incredibly complicated. For every course, you have to make several choices. When we were seated, the hostess repeated, over and over again, that because we had 2 burners on our table, we had to choose 2 sauces for each course. Which only added to the confusion. Second, it is very unclear whether the food is served family style, or individually, and what portion size you should be expecting. Third, the staff is totally unhelpful - and completely happy to charge you extra without your knowledge if you order something that wasn't included inadvertently.

In short, it was a fiasco. We didn't order any alcohol, which got the staff all in a tizzy. They even sent the manager over at one point to try to get us to order cocktails. After he had called out each one of us ("Would you like another rum and coke?" "It's just a coke." "Oh. Would you like another coke, then?" all said in this completely patronizing tone) I was pretty pissed off. Then he got to the kids:
"Is that just water?"
"Actually, he's drinking Stoli" I snapped.
Sami decided to chime in "But it's his third, so I think he's had enough."

And we both smiled sweetly at this complete douchebag and said very sweetly "Water would be great. Thank you."

We left the restaurant totally hating the staff. The concept is fun, the food was OK (super salty), the prices were fair - but it is expensive, and having hot pots in the center of the table turned out to be more then the kids could take - and we spent a lot of time cautioning about hot pots and grabbing little fingers.

After dinner, we wandered around the new shopping center checking out the stores - one of which is a shiny brand new gourmet grocery store. Oh, the organics and charcuterie and baked goods and cheese case. Ultra-fab, we walked up and down the aisles like a bunch of hay-chewing podunks, exclaiming over everything. Then we took off for the resort, bedtime, and peace and quiet.

As we walked back to the room, Max kept grabbing his crotch. I know this is not unusual for lots of little boys, but Max (thank god, because I think it woul dmake me nutso) is not a package-groper. He is far more likely to grab someone else's boobs, then his own crotch. I had a sudden, horrible thought: UKU.

When we got into the room, I sent him directly to the bathroom - and he emerged a few minutes later, sheepishly holding 2 twist-ties. Apparently, he swiped them in the grocery store, and stuffed them in his pants (?) for safekeeping. And then forgot about them. (sigh)

I decided I had had just about enough fun, and everyone went to bed.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A very quick update, and some potty talk. Not swearing, actual talk about going potty. You have been warned.

After a quiet breakfast shift at the cafe, and some really unpleasant testing at Kaiser, we sat in traffic for what seemed like forever (long enough for Sami to pull over on the side of the road so I could hobble into a portapotty - a "facility" I only use in extreme emergencies) and finally arrived in Kaanapali a little after 5pm.

The testing this afternoon involved blood, ultrasound, and urine. Thank god, no other samples were required. Because the aforementioned list? That is the full extent of my voluntary participation in medical tests. In other words, I do not provide poop on demand - ever. I had yet another amazing ultrasound probe - this time by my all-time favorite ultrasound tech (and how sad is it that I *have* a favorite? Really ?!?!?) She got some great images, and those images clearly showed a large SOMETHING in my abdomen on the left side. It was fluid-filled, which means it is not a mass, which means it is not cancer. Which is all I really care about at this point. I feel like shit, and I just don't want to have a terminal illness. Is that so much to ask? I think not.

After visiting the lab and getting 3 large-ish vials of blood drawn, I staggered upstairs to my doctors office, where I was informed that both of my doctors were out, and that my surgery may have been called off.

So, now I was pissed. All that testing, and the associated fees, for naught? I hobbled back downstairs (stagger up, hobble down, that's my motto) and got in the car. Sami took off for the resort, with me riding shotgun, swearing like a sailor and working the phone. I gave Sami a brief synopsis, then called my mother, then 2 friends, then the nurse from my doc's office called to tell me the doc was going to review the films and call me. A few more calls, the desperate potty stop, and a vicodan, and I was in a hotel room staring at the gorgeous Pacific and feeling increasingly aggravated. I am trying very hard not to cry, because I am so freaking exhausted and uncomfortable and frustrated.

So I will stay here for the weekend, hopefully sleeping and resting up and eating well, and cuddling with my kids, and waiting. Waiting to hear from my doctor, waiting for answers, waiting for relief, maybe even Waiting for Guffman.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I swear, I could not make this up

****DISCLAIMER***** If you do not have the parts necessary to visit a gynocologist, this post may scar you for life. Like my 3 year old.

Today was my pre-op appointment, for the surgery I have scheduled for Tuesday. Yes, next Tuesday, September 9th, 5 days from now. So when, at the beginning of the appointment, the doctor suggested that I try some new medication to see if the surgery could be avoided, when she told me that the surgery might not be worth it, when she told me that there might not be anything she could do, or that they might have to take it a step further and perform a much more serious procedure that would involve several days in the hospital, well, I was caught off guard. She told me all about the risks, and while repeating that she would be happy to perform the surgery, she also told me the experience, and the results, might not be what I was expecting.

Sister, you got that right.

It is important to note that I was told, over the phone last week, that the pre-op would take less then 1/2 an hour. As this is my 12th operation, I was pretty clear on the outline of those 30 minutes - bloodwork, weight, blood pressure, meet the doc, discuss medical history, shake hands, head home.

And that is why I brought Lucy with me - why hire a sitter, or leave her with one of my dear friends, when I was only going to be busy for a few minutes? I mean, let's save those generous offers for next week when I am in dire straits and really needing the backup. But, I digress. The point here is that, I had Lucy with me, and the appointment was not at all what I expected, and TOTALLY inappropriate for my 3 year old.

It started with the announcement that the doctor was going to perform a "full physical". Never mind that I just HAD a full physical 2 weeks ago. I was handed two pieces of paper, and told to strip and get on the table. As the door closed, and I started to undress, Lucy *freaked out*.

"What are you DOING?" she gasped
"Getting my check up."
"Why are you NAKED."
"So the doctor can examine me. Remember I told you it was OK for a doctor to see you naked ?"
"But why do you have to be naked if your tummy hurts?"
"Because sometimes Mommy doctors need to see ALL of mommy."
"THAT is DISGUSTING." Lucy said flatly. "I can see your butt."

The visit did not improve from there. The doctor decided to do a pelvic exam, which in my current condition is not only extremely painful, but involves some conversation, question and answer, "Does this hurt here?" "Sorry about that." "Hope I'm not hurting you." "Just let me know if this is too uncomfortable, we can stop." And meanwhile I am flinching and trying not to moan out loud because it hurts SO MUCH. Lucy sat there, mouth agape in horror.

And then they brought in the ultrasound machine, to further examine me, and consequently scar my child for life. At this point, I was desperately upset that I hadn't left her with a friend. I had the opportunity, the invitation, it would have been FINE to leave her with a friend. But OH NO, I just HAD to bring her with me for this. Idiot. I am an idiot.

As the doctor put the condom over the internal ultrasound probe, Lucy choked on a cashew.
"It's going to take a picture of my belly."
"WHAT???? HOW????"

I offered her a graham cracker and changed the subject, since *I* don't even like thinking about the "how" of this situation. Now that I have been completely exposed in front of my toddler, and she has witnessed all manner of probing and lubricant, the doctor leaves me to "clean up".

Oh, the humanity.

I try to be discreet, but of course, Lucy has all sorts of questions - completely rational and reasonable questions about the exam, my "clean up" technique, and my butt. And I want to crawl under the exam table and die. I feel like crap, the visit did not go well in terms of their findings, the surgery is now in question, and I am completely exhausted. I have 3 more stops to make before we can go home, and it's lunch time.

Lucy was a trouper. A Jamba Juice, a few stickers, the promise of a movie when we finally got to the house, and she was patient and content to tag along as I picked up prescriptions and made more appointments and drove all the way back up the mountain - all the while trying very hard not to break down in front of her. Now we are home, and she is asleep, and I am going to go to bed too. Max is at a friend's house because honestly, he could use some fun. And he won't find it here watching videos while mommy sleeps in her darkened bedroom with a fan and a heating pad.

In the beginning, I had thought maybe I was as cool as this mommy http://www.breedemandweep.com/?p=390 and that this would all be no big deal - a learning experience, even.

I was oh so wrong.