Sunday, February 28, 2010


I have taken a few days to digest a conversation I had on Thursday with Max's teachers. As I mentioned before, we withdrew Max from public school during the winter break, and signed him up with a small learning center to complete third grade. I withdrew him because of a variety of social and educational concerns that I had. But it turns out, the biggest problem we are dealing with is something completely different.

It started innocently enough. He went from being pretty good about cleaning up after himself, to just....not. He stopped putting clothes in the hamper, or throwing away dirty tissues, or putting his dishes in the sink. His room slowly became a complete trash heap, filled with discarded cereal boxes and empty bottles and ripped paper and pieces of erasers and god knows what else. He started acting strangely, spastic, unable to sit still or concentrate on anything more then his legos or erector set for more then a few minutes. Even then, he would have trouble actually COMPLETING anything he was making...he moved from project to project, leaving things scattered far and wide, throughout the house. Then flying into a rage when he couldn't find some key piece for his next project.

I have asked Max's teachers for YEARS if they felt he had a learning disability. If he had ADD. He has always struggled with his writing, it took him forever to read, and spelling for him is just a no mans land. It's not even phonetic spelling - it's just...letters scattered on a page, sometimes forming words, but sometimes....well, not so much. My concern wasn't about being hyper or having a lot of energy - that all seems fairly normal "boy stuff" to me, but my mother, who works in a grade school, felt differently, and had commented on occasion that Max had an unusual amount of energy, and a hot temper......something that she felt was perhaps more then just "boys being boys". But because my two brothers, the boys she raised, are pretty mellow guys, I felt like perhaps she wasn't aware of how nuts little boys can be in their free time, and how completely normal it was. And his teachers and pediatrician have always told me that he was VERY normal, just your average wacky little monster who needs room to run and time to play. Which I have always given him. In public, his behavior seems fine, normal, nothing out of the ordinary. Other parents of boys scoff at the idea that there might be something out of the ordinary about Max - their boys are just the same, they assure me - Max is completely normal. A typical boy. He has lovely manners, is very conversational, makes eye contact, can joke and play and interact with other kids. But in private, when he is alone or with his sister, he is becoming increasingly odd, spastic, and out of control. He runs around in very detailed costumes, creating a full backstory to go along with each character. His sweet nature and incredible imagination and need to create thrills me to no end. I don't want anyone to ever discourage him from expressing himself creatively. But now that he is home with me, and now that I have to try to rein him in for a few hours to work on his schooling, his lack of focus has become a real concern.

Thursday morning, we sat for two desperate hours, trying to get him to write down 5 sentences. He got the first one down, and then it started......standing up, sitting down, kicking his feet, fiddling with erasers, pulling on his ears, looking around, staring into space, talking to himself. I sat with him, we discussed the question, and what his one-sentence answer would be. He repeated it to me, took his pencil in hand, and I walked off to fold laundry. 10 minutes later, he was exactly where I had left him. Nothing had been written. When I asked what was up, he looked at me with a blank stare. We started over again. And again. And again. Only eventually, there were tears, and bursts of anger, papers ripped up and thrown, pencils broken, drawers slammed.

I sat down and composed an email to the learning center. I asked, once again, if they felt like maybe he had some sort of issue, a problem that they might have noticed with actually completing tasks.

And the answer came back almost immediately.

They had actually had a meeting that morning, for over an hour, about Max. And yes, they did feel there was a problem.

And so, it begins. Assessments, new techniques, changes to diet, supplements, chiropractic, perhaps some medication if his pediatrician thinks it might help. Because it's more then just school work. He has begun eating compulsively: bowl after bowl of cereal unless someone stops him. And today, he made himself a bowl of yogurt, added granola, and in the time it took to put away the granola completely FORGOT he had made the snack, and walked away to play. I had to call him back and remind him that he had said he was hungry, and ask him if he wanted to eat. He sat down and ate, then wandered off again.

All I want if for his mind to slow down enough for him to focus and achieve and perhaps find a quiet joy in observing the world around him - his head is so busy, so loud and so bright and turning so quickly, that he cannot stop and smell the roses. Instead, he stops, rips off a rose, and then pulls it apart in a frenzy, scattering the petals in the ground. I wonder if he even realizes the beauty before the destruction, or if he is just frantic to see the end result, to satisfy some sort of compulsion that exists within him to create enough chaos to make the world inside his head seem calm by comparison.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tsunami? Notsomuch. UPDATED

UPDATE at the end.....
As I type this, the tsunami alarm is going off. The panicked phone calls began at 3:45am. An earthquake in Chile has triggered a tsunami warning - and chaos ensued.

The size of the wave expected? 6 inches.

SIX INCHES. (I have so many filthy dirty things I could say right now, but I won't.)

How can they even measure that? How do they even KNOW it's a tsunami at that point?

Ridiculous. The roads are jammed, the stores are rapidly running out of supplies, there are long lines at gas stations, and the phone lines are overloaded.

I have wine, cheese, plenty of food, and the only thing that is pissing me off is that we were going on a whale watch today - which has been cancelled.

Rumor is that MECo is shutting off the power at an undetermined time, as a precaution. They are going to close roads along the coast an hour before the wave - all 6 inches of it - is expected to hit.

So, you know, I wouldn't necessarily go surfing today, because the currents could be funky.....but other than that, I guess we'll just hang around the hacienda. Or something. The restaurant is open, but I don't know who showed up this morning. Since they are evacuating, and possibly shutting off the power, I don't know who's going to be hanging out in a restaurant 1 block from the ocean in a tsunami zone. But I am sure there will be plenty of business.


I took a nice nap. Yawn. Not to make light of what could have been a terrible, tragic, devastating horrific disaster...I am relieved that we appear to have been spared, along with all of the other islands that encountered the tsunami conditions before Hawaii (at least the ones I read about before deciding to take to my bed).

I have thought a lot about my post, and I think it is important to clarify several things. My frustration with the phones being jammed and the streets clogged with traffic and lines at gas stations and grocery stores etc.etc. was this.....

I live at 3000 elevation. I do not need to evacuate, ergo I did not need to be driving anywhere. I stayed off the roads and followed instructions. And the number of people that DID need to evacuate were greatly slowed by all the other panic-stricken folks rushing around. If there was a tsunami, and something DID happen to our water supply, I would have needed a lot more then a case of water. If we had a gas shortage, I would be walking anywhere I needed to go. No problem. If I ran out of toilet paper - which is, for some reason, a huge concern in the face of disaster - I would figure something out.

There were messages being passed around that were, to put it nicely, alarmist. Worst-case scenarios that probably scared a lot of people. But maybe it also caused people who might not otherwise evactuate to move to higher ground. In which case, they accomplished what they set out to do - alert, inform, and keep people safe. It's what you choose to do with this information that is really the most important thing.

If I lived at sea level, or even close to sea level, I would have packed up the dogs and our photographs and important documents, and gotten the hell out of town, as people in these areas were asked to do. If I was here visiting, I would have left my hotel immediately and followed the staff's instructions for finding higher ground. I am not foolish, and as I have mentioned before, I take personal safety very seriously. And so should you.

So, what DID I do? Little Miss HoHum Nothing is Going to Happen Just Calm the Fuck Down People?

As I mentioned, my first call came in at 3:45am from the other side of the world (interestingly enough, from my estranged father, who hasn't called in years). Then I got a call from a friend on island, telling me the tsunami alarm was going off at 6am, and she didn't want me to wake up and be scared. (love you M, thanks for letting me know). I called several friends who live on the coast, who might not have family on the mainland to wake them up, just letting them know that the siren was going to go off, and not to be scared, and nothing (if anything) would happen for hours. I talked to co-workers and the owner of the cafe, opining that if they were trying to evacuate the town our restaurant is in, it would be inappropriate to open for breakfast while they were clearing the streets and probably turning off power and water. I made coffee. We filled the tub so we had water to flush the toilet. We decided not to get ice (we had ice packs) and not to buy gas or water, because we didn't really NEED it. We filled pitchers and bottles of water with filtered water and made breakfast. I watched the news, read reports coming in, and then decided to go back to bed.

I wasn't being silly. I wasn't being cynical. I just didn't see a single thing that caused me a moment's concern. Maybe I missed some hysterical tsunami model showing Maui being swept away, maybe I missed the story about how much devastation a 6 inch tsunami could cause.....and I didn't mean for my post to downsize the danger of tsunami's in general, or the importance of responding to evacuation orders. I heard them, and I followed ALL INSTRUCTIONS issued by Civil Defense. I had my radio on. I had called my friends that I was concerned might not know, and I knew that whatever happened, whether it be utter devastation, mild inconvenience, or simply a normal Saturday, I was going to need more then the 3 hours of sleep I got last night. So I went to bed. My husband went up the mountain a ways to work. The kids watched a movie. And for the first time, I was not glued to CNN waiting in breathless anticipation for The Big One, like I usually am.

Mostly, I am just grateful. Grateful for my friends and family who alerted me, grateful that no one here was hurt, and grateful that my home and family were safe from even a threat of danger brought by this tsunami. I am also mindful that all around this world, people are recovering from natural disasters such as the one that passed us by today. Recovering in Chile, recovering in Haiti, recovering in New Orleans, for that matter.

Take care, stay safe, and for the love of GOD - Don't Panic.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When you see too many familiar faces in the mugshot book, it's time to stop calling the police, and start calling your friends

How your respond to things has a lot to do with your past experiences. Last night, that point was driven home, when a series of events led me to tap into a well of fear that was old, dark, and deep. Real deep. At about 3am, when I woke up with a gasp and lay there, panic stricken, going over and over in mind how I could have done things differently, whether I made the right decision....I went to a place in my mind that I hadn't visited in a while. Trust me when I say that it was not 4 star accomodations, it was not even a Motel 6 quality was horrible and dank and left me chilled and wishing I could just erase the last 8 hours of my life.

I don't know if I should just tell the story about last night, or give a little history first..... I guess I'll start with the backstory, then fill in recent events.

In highschool, I was robbed. I worked in a small boutique in town, and one winter evening at about 5:30, after it had gotten dark, and many of the other stores were closed, and not a soul was on the streets because of the blowing snow and gusty winds and sleet, the door opened and a customer walked in. At least, I thought it was a customer.

He was trying on jackets, and it *was* cold, and it *seemed* reasonable. I felt a little nervous, for reasons that I couldn't quite put my finger on, so I stayed behind the counter and let him sort of help himself - I was just a few feet away, it was a tiny store, but somehow, I needed that big wooden barrier between us.

He was there for a good long while, tried on a bunch of stuff, and in the end he said he would come back later. After he was gone, I went to the fitting room to gather up all of the different jackets he had been trying on......and the fitting room was empty.

He had left, taking every single fucking jacket with him. Under his own coat.

I freaked.

I locked the door and called the police with shaking hands. I filled out a police report, called the owner of the shop, apologized through my tears, and was escorted to my car by the responding officer, because by now, it was quite late, and the streets that had seemed merely deserted before now seemed menacing.

The next day, a detective brought over a huge leather satchel with binders full of mugshots. As I flipped through the pages, I saw one familiar face after another - not the guy who stole the jackets, but people I saw and interacted with every day in our little village. Fellow students. Friends. Customers. The guy who worked at the convenience seemed like I knew someone on every page.

"I am surrounded by criminals" I thought. "I know too many people in that mugshot book. I have to get the hell out of this town." Dramatic? Well, maybe, I was a teenager. I was in Drama Club, for god's sake. I had comedy and tragedy masks on the side of my class ring, and matching masks as earrings. I was definitely in the "dramatic" category. But I was also right. If you surround yourself with people who invite drama, who involve themselves in activites to which the police night respond, then you can count on having trouble in one form or another.

Being robbed, even without having a weapon involved, was scary. It was a violation not just of my safety, of the law, but also of my sense of the world, and of right and wrong. Of my innocence. Everyone who entered that store was now a potential criminal. And it changed how I interacted with customers from that day forward. It also affected how I feel about my personal safety.

Maybe that's a good thing. I lost my naivete so early on that I protected myself from future threats by being cautious from the outset.

Years later, when I was a young mother of an infant, and spent my days at home alone in a very isolated area, a beach community in summer that was vitrually abandoned in the winter, with no neighbors or close friends, this happened. I don't even want to revisit the story here, you can read the link and google to your heart's content......but that story Fucked My Shit Up. We moved shortly thereafter, to someplace warm, someplace with lots of neighbors and year-round sunshine and a job that would keep my husband nearby. The fears I had buried, my concerns about my personal safety, my bubble of joy and contentment with my new baby and my little cottage by the ocean all fell completely and totally apart.

Over time, I let go of the fear again, as people do. But I always remained vigilant, I do not take risks, I do not invite trouble, personal safety is always first and foremost. But I was able to forget for the most part why I make the decisions that I do. Why I lock my doors the second I get in the car. Why I call my husband from inside the bar before I leave, and from the car after I have driven away, doors safely locked and motor humming reassuringly.

Fears I thought I had put to rest long ago actually do affect my every day life - but it's not fear that motivates me or keeps me vigilant, just the awareness. The knowing. There are dangers out there. Do not let down your guard, because when you relax, when you trust too much, you become careless.

And then on Sunday, a woman went missing here, just a few miles away. Again, I am not going to hash out the story here, I have my opinions, and I also have respect for her friends and family, and what they must be going through as the search resumes today - 4 days later. All I can say is that by last night, I was on edge. Once again, all of those old fears were back, lying just under the surface. If I remained vigilant, I could keep them at bay. I would take extra precautions, it was a reminder that you can never let your guard down. Ever.
Which brings me to last night.

It had not been a great night to begin with. The feeling in the restaurant Not tense, necessarily, but people were being less then friendly. There was a lot of attitude. I was spoken to as though I was "the help". I am not "the help" - I am helpful, yes. I am threre to help, absolutely. My title is "server" - a fact I am 100% comfortable with. I love to take care of people, love to feed people, love to talk about food and wine, and my job is an extension of that. So eventually the tables left, taking their attitudes with them, and we were cleaning up. Except, there was a customer who was not quite ready to go.

She had been waiting, she told us, for a friend. She was meeting a friend to celebrate his birthday.
He never showed.
She became increasingly agitated.
She was making birthday card after birthday card for this person, this friend who was not coming. She kept reapplying her lipstick and then kissing the cards as she made them, trying to get the perfect lip-print on the paper. She was drinking wine - had ordered a bottle when she came in, I guess. To share. With her friend. To celebrate his birthday.

But he never showed.

She was starting to slur her words, and we weren't sure what to do. She wasn't driving, we knew that much. She didn't appear to have anywhere to go. No one else who could come and get her. And, eventually, we learned that she had no money. No money to get a room, no money to pay for the wine, no money to call a cab......she didn't know the phone number of the cellphone she was using. She didn't have an address.

She started telling stories, about her past, about a pregnancy and a baby shower - but strangely, not about a child, about an apartment in LA, about a childhood on a neighbor island, about siblings and friends. And then the stories became more recent. The stories got dark. Darker. Beyond dark. Scary. Frightening. Violent. She was crying. She didn't want to leave. She wanted us to drive her somewhere.

We were alone, 2 waitresses and this woman who had no where to go and no way to get there. It was late, later, too late for the bus, all the stores were closed, night crews had left the grocery, streets were deserted, the dishwasher had finished cleaning the kitchen and left.

Our cars were in the back, in a poorly lit parking lot.

We weren't giving her a ride anywhere. Her stories were wild enough to be true, scary enough to make us uncomfortable. Where earlier, we had been concerned for her safety, now we were concerned for our own. Now we weren't sure if it would be a good thing if someone DID show up for her.........her "friends" didn't sound like anyone we wanted in our empty restaurant, or the empty parking lot. We did not want to be involved. We could not help. This was was too much.

We tried to call her friend - she had given us his name and number. Our call went to voicemail. She was upset, thought we were calling the police. Why would we call the police? Should we be calling the police? "Stop." she commanded. "Hang UP." she was raising her voice now, shill and verging in hysterical. "If you call the police you will make it worse. I will flee." Flee. What a strange word to use. What a strange situation. We assured her that we were definitely NOT calling the police. That we were trying to reach her friend. That we wanted to leave him a message. That we wanted to try to reach him, for her.

She went to the bathroom, and did not reappear for a very long time. What the hell was she doing in there? The restaurant had been closed for hours. Our last guest had left over an hour before. I called my husband and gave him all of the information she had given us. Described her. Told him something weird was going on. That she was involved in some weird stuff. That I didn't really know how this was going to end, or when.

I told him to call the restaurant every 10 minutes, to make sure I answered.

I thought of my kids, thought of the woman currently missing from a spot just a few miles away. So close. I called my manager, but he didn't pick up. I texted him, but he didn't respond. And I was feeling very alone. And those other feelings were creeping back. Tapping me on the shoulder. Be safe. Be vigilant. Don't be stupid. Have an escape plan. Don't turn your back. Keep the phone in your hand. Be ready.

We hid our money, we kept all of the doors open, we hoped she would just leave.

But she didn't.

She came back from the bathroom, still crying, still making excuses, slurring her words. She had left her purse in the bathroom, was just checking to see if her friend had arrived. She assured us she wasn't doing drugs - but we hadn't asked. We had stopped asking questions. We didn't want to know any more.

My husband called. He called again. He texted. Each time I assured him that I was fine. He wanted to see that for himself, he was at home with sleeping babies, he couldn't leave them alone, but he was considering it, considering going to the neighbor's house and asking them to stay with the sleeping kids. But it would take too long. This was all taking too long.......

He called 911. He told them that we were unable to leave. He told them we were unable to call. That the woman did not want us to call. That we were alone.

As he was making this call, we were finally ushering her out the door. Gently, so gently, no sudden movements, stay calm, just get her out the door safely. And when she was out, we slowly, calmly, closed the door behind her. And locked it. Locked the second door. And then, simultaneously, the phone rang and a car pulled up outside. The woman who had been sitting on the sidewalk crying was now up, leaning through the window, talking animatedly to whoever was inside.

I answered the phone. It was the dispatcher. "Are you OK?" she asked. "Yes, thank you, she is outside, but there is a car here now, someone talking to her."

Descriptions were given, information was exchanged, and within monents a police cruiser pulled up outside. The woman stepped back from the car she had been leaning against. The car pulled away. She was there, alone on the sidewalk. Weaving slightly. Face tearstained. Makeup smeared. Lipstick gone from making all of those prints on all of those birthday cards. For someone who never showed. Or maybe he did, but it was too late.

We turned off the lights, set the alarm, walked out into the parking lot and put our bags in our cars. I was shivering - maybe from the cold, maybe from the circumstances. We rounded the corner to the front of the building to hear the cop raising his voice, and we both froze. Another cruiser pulled up, another cop arrived. Now we were being questioned. Name, address, phone number, date of birth. I answered the questions calmly, until I gave him my date of birth. I recited the numbers back slowly, then looked up at him. "Too old for this shit."  I said.

He smiled. "I have everything you need, you are free to go."

Free to go. To go home. Free.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, doors locked and heat blasting, I looked in my rearview mirror.
A third cop had arrived.
They were standing there on the sidewalk, their cruisers parked facing the wrong way, blue lights on, faces so serious. And she stood there, with them, her white shirt blowing in the breeze, glowing in the lights, surrounded by the dark, The dark uniforms. The dark night. The darkness.

I shuddered, and drove away, leaving it behind me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wholly Impressed

Whole Foods
Holy Crap, we're getting a Whole Foods.

The grand opening is in (checking watch) 8 hours.

I have to get there bright and early, and wait in what I am guessing is going to be a huge line, in order to be one of the first to walk the aisles and oooh and ahhhhh and get a free tote bag. And it will be good. But first I need my beauty sleep. 8 hours probably won't make much of a dent, but it will have to do.

Tonight I worked at the cafe, and at the end of the night - after we had said goodnight and ushered our beloved patrons out of the bar and locked the doors and counted the money and done the paperwork and cleaned I was pulling out of the parking lot I looked down the street. A group of our customers were a block or so away, laughing and joking and riding bikes and scooters around in the middle of the street. And I laughed. Because everyone was definitely over 21, but mostly over 31, and maybe even 41.......and they were playing in the street, under the streetlamps, at 11 o'clock at night, on a Tuesday, in the middle of our sleepy town, and it was like we were all kids again, just for a minute (or ten).

I love it here, I do. And I love it even a little bit more with the addition of Whole Foods. I can't help it, I am so excited.

Even though I happily shop at 2 locally owned grocery stores and will continue to do so, tomorrow we will participate in the much anticipated Whole Foods Grand Opening,. This is exciting stuff for a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Then I will take my kids to school, and run my errands, and maybe go to the beach (or maybe not). In the afternoon, I will go home and cuddle up in bed after school with my kids, and nap and watch a movie and argue about who is going to go get more snacks. Later I will go to work, and then after that, maybe I will play in the street for a bit.

Because I can.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Try to picture this

Today I had, to quote Will Ferrell in "Old School" (because it's a classic, damn it) "a nice little Sunday". Booze, beach, burned to a crisp, rolled home in the sunshine remembering to A. get milk (I know, I can't believe it either. I blow my own mind) and B. to drop off things that needed dropping off, and then I got the car unloaded and the kids cleaned up, and they went off to ride bikes in the street while I attacked the laundry and started a batch of meatballs. (I am such a fucking Suzy Homemaker, right? Yeah, that's what I thought too. Don't be jealous, it's so unbecoming. I can't help my domestic bliss, it just comes natural.) So I am standing there in my "I swear I'm not kidding with this" blue and white striped gingham bikini, throwing meatballs in the pan and flipping them and everything is going just great until the oil got a teensy bit too hot and you know where I am going with this dontcha and damn I wish maybe you could have given me the heads up because OW OW OW I burned myself. So I put the apron on about 10 minutes too late because I am maybe a little more Suzy Q then Suzy Homemaker but anyway I put on the fucking apron and finished my meatballs and that is when I noticed that the dogs were being really whiney and obnoxious on the porch.

The kids were playing in the street and Sami was working in the yard and the dogs were going APESHIT because they wanted to GET INVOLVED and HELP OUT and RUN and JUMP and PLAY. So I wander out and open the gate and God Help Me they bolted out of there and went ass over elbows down the stairs and across the street and I go running after them and everyone is yelling and clapping and calling them and as I walk down the street I wave to my neighbor who gives me a strange look which is when I realize that I am walking down the street in a seersucker bikini and an apron and I feel like a real douche but what are you gonna do, so I just keep on keeping on. "I burned myself" I explained cheerfully. "Making meatballs." And she is just looking at me like I am the biggest fucking moron EVER because women of a certain age should not be wandering around the neighborhood in a bikini, not even with an apron over it. But I can't worry about that now, I have Dog Wrangling to get done. After much shouting and not-so-thinly-veiled threats I finally grab one dog by the collar and drag him along on my search for the other dog, who I discover in a neighbor's backyard taking a shit in the 5 fucking seconds he is out of my line of vision. Keep in mind, these dogs of ours are outside dogs with a huge yard and yet, apparently, they wait until they escape from our yard to go shit somewhere else. So I start yelling and that damn dog comes running and I still have the other dog by the collar and suddenly the neighbors dog starts running towards us and the dog I am hanging onto for dear life spazzes out, jumps about 3 feet in the air and does some sort of ridiculous twist which sends me flying through the air until  I land on my elbow and hip on the concrete, and get dragged along for a good 3 feet before finally giving up and letting go of the collar because HELLO? self-preservation. And please keep in mind that while all of this is happening I am in my fucking seersucker bikini and an apron and NOTHING ELSE only now instead of being in the street I am in the neighbors yard, lying on the ground, bleeding, and oh yes, the other neighbors are all watching and let me tell you it felt fucking AWESOME.


So then I have to do the walk of shame into my neighbors backyard with a plastic bag to pick up the dog shit, still dressed (I use this term loosely) in my bikini and apron, still with a full audience.

By now, the dogs had been rounded up and were barking in our yard, I'm carrying a bag of shit down the street and muttering to myself, and the kids are all riding their bikes in circles and begging for a playdate and I'm all "NO CHANCE IN HELL" and "COME EAT YOUR MEATBALLS."

They get the message pretty quickly, and we all go inside, leaving our neighbors standing around thinking "What. The. Fuck." and who can blame them because dude, I'd be thinking the same thing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I have a very good reason for this

Yesterday, I breezed into work at 8am. I breezed out of work at about 5:15. For those of you who have waited tables, you know that spending 9 hours on your feet carrying trays is a long-ass time. Usually I can man up and get 'er done.

Not this time. Because at 9pm I got the call to go back, and I gotta say, those last 3 hours (after that sweet break that led me to believe I might actiually get in bed) really killed me. So now I am in bed and miserable. I have a headache and I am generally frustrated and exhausted. And my phone just beeped and alerted me to an appointment at 3:30pm which I am not in the right frame of mind for.

aToday, to recap, has gone like this: Right off the bat, at about, oh, 12:01am, I began my day feeling overwhelmed and over-scheduled and over-commited. And it sucked. I am starting to really feel the pressure to stop all of the little manini bullshit and just focus on the big stuff. I feel this way often enough that it's becoming a theme, of sorts. I wonder what it's going to take for me to make this happen. Am I the only person in the world that sits around being bitchy 'cause I am not trying to make my dreams come true? Jesus, was that a fucking Disney quote or what. I need a drink.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let's be honest. He's annoying the shit out of me.

Homeschooling. It's a lot of time at Home. Schooling.

And this is where I get all honest and confessional and say oh my god please help me please I haven't had a private phone conversation or pooped in peace in 2 months and I am LOSING MY FUCKING MIND.

How 'bout THEM apples?

So yeah, the homeschooling thing has been tough, but honestly I think it's also been GOOD for us. We gotta work through these rough spots and come out the other side a team. I'm still his mama, and I love him to bits, and he's my boy and he loves me too and what doesn't kill us (homicide or otherwise) will make us stronger in the end. In theory. Right now it's killing my will to LIVE, but I am sure that will pass. Or fade. Or my spirit will just be broken. Forever. (sigh)

But until then, until we can look back on this time through rose-colored glasses and remember those halcyon days where we were home together, we're home. Together.

I'll be the first one to admit, I am not mature enough to avoid a pissing contest with my son. He gives me lip and instead of getting all stern and using the mommy voice, I give him the hairiest eyeball I can muster and say something along the lines of "Oh REALLY." or maybe "I wouldn't say that again, if I were you." or the latest and greatest: "Get those Legos out of my face, kid, before I throw them in the street and Run Them Over sohelpmeGOD I will do it."

Our neighbors must be thoroughly impressed with my mad teaching skillz.

We have hired a teacher to help keep things civil, and moving in the right direction. I.E. completing 3rd grade. I make a hideous teacher. It's not just that I am not a fan of OPC (other people's children), which automatically recuses me from any sort of classroom setting, but that I am also not a huge fan of doing much of anything except eating and napping and working. I already DID the school thing. I worked hard, I did well, I graduated, and I am DONE. I never thought I would be revisiting fractions EVER AGAIN. And I'll tell you right now, these kids are going to have to figure out calculus on their own. I went to calculus once - for about 10 minutes. I didn't understand the review work posted on the board, I raised my hand and said "Mr. Parent," (who was, by the way, the best math teacher ever) "Mr. Parent," I said "I am in the wrong class." He came over to check my schedule and I assured him that yes, I was enrolled in that class, and indeed, was supposed to be in that very classroom......but that clearly, someone had grossly over-estimated my math skills and/or interest in math, and that we would need to correct this mis-calculation (pardon the pun) IMMEJIATELY.

He was a kind man, and sent me right to the guidance counselor where I said something along the lines of "You need to find me some other way to earn this one last math credit I need for graduation. Because I won't pass anything in that class but notes and wind." Duly noted, I was transferred TOOT SWEET and happily finished all my math credits in my junior year. Senior year I took English and 1 semester of PE. It was awesome.

My point is, this homeschooling is going to be very temporary. Just as long as it takes for me to get them both enrolled in a school for next year. Not a home school, either.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So cold I can't feel my toes - the perfect time for a pedicure !

The big toe on my left foot is sort of gray-ish blue with cold. It aches - just my toe, mind you. Just that one toe on my left foot.

I wonder if it is possible to get frostbite, indoors, in Hawaii. Because I am pretty sure that is what's going on here. How unpleasant. That will totally ruin the look of the new open-toed shoes I bought last week. Seriously. Just call me stumpy.

So I might go get a pedicure - more to thaw out my feet then to replace the toenail polish I applied 5 weeks ago. And by "pedicure" I mean, remove the last few chips of "Budapest Berry" or what ever stupid fucking name this polish has been labeled with, and try to get the soles of my feet clean again. Of course, the clean feet will last only as long as it takes to get back to my house, where I will immediately step into my kitchen and put my foot squarely into Something Sticky and Sort of Wet. And then the pedicure magic will evaporate like the clock just struck midnight and I'll be sitting on the same filthy kitchen floor trying to scrub the bottoms of my feet with a baby wipe.

Because baby wipes clean everything.

And then I'll be all pissy, and wish I had a fairy godmother to clean my kitchen, or even just had someone to answer my Craigslist ad looking for someone (ANYONE) to clean the kitchen. Notice, I do not suggest cleaning the kitchen myself. Ho, no. It's too far gone. You know that little space between the floor and the bottoms of your cabinets? Scary. And under the stove? Good Lord. Don't look there. We may need a hazmat team to handle that area, now that I think about it.


But let's not think about that. Let's get back to the real issue at hand.
My toe. It's cold. And I think it needs a hand-painted flower or something. Something purty...... Something - dare I say it - sparkly. But first, maybe I'll just put on some socks. See how that works out.

Monday, February 15, 2010

That? Did NOT go as planned.

I was so smug. Taking a day off, spending time together as a family. Spending the day at the beach, even. Chocolates. No errands. No chores. Just us.


I am guessing you aren't surprised. You are not at all surprised to hear that I did not go to the beach. That I did indeed go to Costco, and the mall, and Savers and the grocery store (yes, in addition to Costco).

I had the kids with me. My husband (my darling, wonderful, amazing, beloved, not to mention smoking hot husband) stayed at home, alone, and assembled a flagstone patio that has been unfinished for 2 or 3 years. After 2 or 3 years, he decided that THIS day, Valentine's Day, the one I had planned to spend lounging around in the sun without a care in the world, this day in particular was the *perfect* time to finally get around to finishing that patio.

It's a really nice fucking patio, I will give you that. And I am thrilled to have it done, I have to admit. (Well, almost close to done.)

And Costco, well....... they're closed tomorrow, see, because of President's Day. And we needed bread. And butter. And 2 pounds of triple cream brie, apparently, because I got that while I was there. And then there was the wine. It IS Valentine's Day, after all.

I didn't get any chocolate, which was a very serious oversight. I shall rectify that tomorrow when all of the Valentine's Day candy is on clearance. I am going STRAIGHT to See's Candy tomorrow, hoping that there will be a few heart-shaped items still on the shelves at significant discount.

I love See's Candy.

And after all of that, after a day that did Not. Go. As. Planned., I went to work. I was in good spirits, despite my decidedly un-relaxing, un-romantic day. (Although, really, the patio was a pretty romantic gesture, all things considered. It IS a nice patio.)

It was just the kind of night I like at the cafe - smooth, steady, with my lovely co-workers, who I can say with complete honesty that I adore. And Big Dave brought chocolates. Awwwwww. And Loke, she made truffles. Mmmmm.

And so another Valentine's Day slips through my fingers. Almost like the sand I didn't get to sit in today.
I'm not bitter.
Would you like a truffle ? Here, have one. They really do make everything better.

And Trippy, I love you too. Just so you know. xoxoxo

Saturday, February 13, 2010

In which I take a day off with the family

Today I am spending the entire day with the family. I am not doing anything. Nothing but sleeping and eating and lying around on the beach. You have my word. It's going to happen. It has to. I sat down to try to remember the last time we went to the beach as a family, and I can't - it's been a very long time. 6 months? Maybe longer. A long-ass time since we just went and had a normal, relaxing Sunday.

That is just not right.

Why the hell did I move all the way to Maui if I am never going to go to the beach? (That's a rhetorical question, by the way.) I know I need to make the time to spend all together, doing not much of anything. So tomorrow it is. Love is in the air, and I'm going to spend the day with the people I love more then anything.

With that said, someone had better buy me some fucking chocolates and take me out to breakfast before we hit the beach. No errands. No chores. Just food and sun and fun. Otherwise, this may be the Valentine's Day everyone remembers because mommy sat down in the middle of Costco and burst into tears.

Cross my heart.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

That third mojito might have been a mistake.

So it's the day after the birthday. Which is a hard place to be, because I am hungover.

Actually, I was hungover before I fell asleep last night. Not a great way to crawl into bed. But I was already hungover because the evening was long past, and it was 1am, and I had smoked at least half a dozen cigarettes, which is unusual for me. I don't smoke every day, but I smoke. And I've been smoking for a good long time. I've written lengthy essays, odes to smoking. To the habit, to the experience, to the bonding that you can only find with others who have been banished to the far reaches of a parking lot where they huddle, in the wind and rain, desperately sucking away at leaves wrapped in paper.

No, not really. I don't smoke enough to do that. I smoke when it's convenient. I smoke when I have cigarettes. I smoke when I want to. I smoke when I don't mind smelling like cigarettes. I smoke when I'm drinking, I smoke when I drive alone late at night. I smoke after a shift at the restaurant. I used to smoke in bars, but you can't do that any more.....not even in Bangkok, where you can do whatever the fuck you want. Except, apparently, smoke in bars. The party is over.

Like my birthday. That party is over too. I am officially a member of the grownups.

So far, my time as a 35 year old has been spent getting my hair done, trolling Office Max, and wandering the streets into the wee hours with a rowdy group - most of whom we picked up in the gas station parking lot.

Don't ask - but they had fresh tattoos and a bottle of whiskey.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Birthdays and Valentines Day - Gift giving is not for the faint of heart

I take gift giving very seriously.

Very seriously.

I take great pride in finding a good gift, a timely gift, a gift that brings to mind memories, or conversations, or life experiences. A gift that honors the recipient in some way, that suits them or entertains them or is something they secretly coveted......or never even knew they wanted until they had it. I spent a good portion of our trip to Thailand finding gifts - small gifts - for my friends. Gifts that I hoped would let them know that I was thinking of them, and wished they had been with me to share in the experience.

I have been the recipient of some tremendous gifts as well - which I hope I accepted in such a way that the gift giver KNOWS how perfect the gift was, and that I love it and cherish it.

It's not about the money - you could spend nothing, you could spend everything - it's about showing you give a shit. That you listen. That you think of them. That they are special. So for gift givers and gift getters.....this one's for you. A run down of the best gifts I have given, and received. Here are some of the best:

1. Moroccan Hair Oil. It rocked my world. Seems like a weird gift, but small expensive toiletries are always a good option - something the person might not buy for themselves,. but that is too good to keep to yourself.

2. Hanky Panky thong. Dude. One size fits all. Hot as hell, super comfortable, small and lightweight in every color and pattern you can imagine. And it's a splurge - every girl needs new underwear all the time.

3. A framed picture of friends. Taken at a special event, we were all dressed up, looking at the camera, and smiling. No one looked stoned, either. Definitely a picture to be framed and kept as a reminder of a great night. Before the cops showed up. Again.

4. The perfect piece of jewelry. I am not taking about marching into Tiffany's and coming out with a blue box - though it is always a lovely gesture! I have bought a few of my favorite gifts at consignment or resale stores for less then $5. Seriously. Funky antique-y looking brooches. Bracelets. Earrings. One-size-fits-all stuff is key. And before buying earrings, make sure the recipient has pierced ears.

5. An amazing experience. A once in a lifetime meal, a ticket to a special event, renting a convertible, packing a lunch and your camera and hitting the road......get creative. One time, I gave my husband a zipline pass. Another time, he gave me a day at the spa. My latest plan is a doozy...I'll let you know when it happens, but let's just say The Sky's The Limit.

6. A day off. Don't let them lift a finger except to wipe their own ass. Sleep, eat, read, take a walk, do anything except Things That Need Doing. If they have kids, take the kids away for the day. If they have dogs, take the dogs out for a long hike.......take away their responsibilities for a morning, a day, a weekend...

7. A helping hand. Is there a chore they hate to do? Whether it's scrubbing the toilet or cooking dinner or dealing with laundry.......just do it. Surprise them. Don't talk about, don't expect to be fawned over and lauded for your it because it will feel good to get it done, and it will feel great to help out. Or hire someone ELSE to do it while you go out for a movie or something.

8. Best baby shower/expectant mother gift? A gift certificate for a pre-natal massage, pedicure or a bikini wax. The mom is the one doing all the work, after all, and does that baby really need another baby blanket or undershirt? Really???

My point is, really think about the person you are giving the gift to. Their likes and dislikes.
Don't buy them a piece of jewelry in yellow gold if they wear silver.
Don't buy them something purple if they pretty much always wear black.
Don't buy them a thong if they wear briefs.
Don't spend more then you can afford.

And if you are given a gift, don;t forget to say thank you. I am guilty of this, life gets away from you, and I am the first to admit I have moved away from sending hand-written thank you notes. But I do try to send a thank-you email in a timely fashion, preferably with a photo of the gift in use, or on display, or being opened (if it was mailed to us). Just something to say "thanks, I love it and I will use it". It gives everyone a warm fuzzy feeling to give and receive a gift with joy and excitement.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where's the whores at? Costco, it turns out. Oh, and Ace Hardware.

I had to go to Costco yesterday. Since the Super Bowl was already underway, I figured I had a pretty good shot of getting in and out of there in a reasonable amount of time. But as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that I was sadly mistaken.

A plane must have just landed.

I have used this phrase before, and I means what I says. Costco is located directly outside of the entrance to the airport on Maui. What that means is, everyone gets into their rental car and goes directly to Costco to buy everything necessary for 3 months in the wilderness. They walk around the store slowly, arguing about whether they should buy the rum AND the tequila, filling their carts with booze and snack food, some of them pulling suitcases because they read in a guidebook not to leave anything in their rental car. And then they load up their SUVs and Mustang Convertibles and minivans, and head off into the sunset - with their GPS directing them to their condo.

It's pretty gross, to be honest.

Costco is just a microcosm of America Unfiltered. It's like "People of Walmart" only it's Costco-sized. The aisles are jammed, the lines are long, the tourists are sweaty and pale or sunburned depending on how long they have been here. The locals are patient, tolerant, grateful for the tourism dollars....but at the same time, we'd just like to buy our groceries and get home in time for dinner, or our night shift, or the soccer game. And in it's role as a microcosm of America, there is a bunch of OTHER stuff going on at Costco besides sad amounts of products made out of corn and plastic. You will see the haves and have nots. People paying with foodstamps, and people paying with a platinum American Express. And in the parking lot, the world's oldest profession is alive and well.

If you are looking for a hooker, I have been told by multiple sources that one can be found in the corner of the Costco parking lot. And at Ace Hardware, according to a friend with personal experience in that department.

I myself don't PERSONALLY know this to be true, but it is repeated as fact around these parts. So trust me when I tell you, I took a hard look around the parking lot as I was cruising for a spot. I didn't see any whores. I saw a bunch of husbands who were pissed that their wives booked their flights on the day of the superbowl. I saw a bunch of wives pissed that their husbands were being such pussies. I saw a bunch of people trying to, you know, DRIVE.....but they were greatly hindered by the people who seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they were A. in the middle of a parking lot and B. not the only people on the face of the earth.

I know, it is a hard concept to embrace, sharing the world with others......and trust me, while you are moseying down the center of the aisle smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone and pushing a cart the size of a Volkswagon, everyone around you is aware of both your presence, and your selfabsorption. And it takes a mighty will indeed to not hit the gas pedal, and then blame the Toyota corporation.

But back to the whores. I didn't see any, and I certainly would NOT go around asking women in the Costco parking lot if they were, indeed, willing to accept money for sexual favors. Because I am going to bet that some husband fresh off the plane from Arizona will beat you to within an inch of  your life, and then his wife will run you over with her grocery cart, before toddling off to buy a handle of vodka and two jugs of cranberry juice so she can enjoy a nice cosmo just like those girls in Sex and the City. They weren't whores either.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tissues in my sleeve - on getting older

I lay in bed last night, fretting about my looming birthday.

It's a big one.

I am not pleased.

"I'm going to have to start putting tissues in my sleeve, like my mom. And my grandmother. It's a requirement once you reach a certain age." I whined.

"Why would you have to do that? If you need a tissue, get up and get one." Sami seemed confused.

"That's not how it works. I'm old. I need to conserve my energy. I can't just be hopping up every time I need a tissue." He just doesn't understand.

"um. Yeah. Okay." The confusion was palpable.

"I'll have to start wearing cardigans all the time, so I'll have a cuff to stick the tissue in. Even in bed, I'll have to wear a cardigan. Just a cardigan though. And I'll only button the top button."

Sami leered at me in the darkness."That sounds itchy. Here, I'll warm you up."

"Get your hands off me, old man. Listen, the cardigan serves a dual purpose. Old people are cold. I'll NEED that sweater to conserve my body heat. AND to hold my tissues."

"But you'll be in bed. You won't even have to get up, there is a box of tissues right next to you. And during the day, you'll be hot. This is MAUI." (the "you moron" part was left unsaid, but clearly implied.)

"I'm in bed right now - and I'm fucking freezing." Which is totally true - it was ridiculously cold last night.

"I think you should start wearing sweatbands on your wrists, and stick tissues in those." Now he was making fun of me. Asshole. But it was actually a good idea. I'll probably need sweatbands for my "Silver Sneakers" class at the gym. Sweatbands were dutifully added to my shopping list.

Friday, February 5, 2010

World Traveler Part 14: Bringing it all back home

And so we come ot the end of our tales of Thailand.

For now.

I am sure I am going to remember some weird parts of the trip from time to time, and write about it.....but I need to get back to sharing all the crazy shit that goes on in our wacky day to day life. We're a zany bunch over here. (Okay, no, not really, but still, we do stuff. Stuff I could write about.)

Over all, traveling to Thailand was amazing, we saw some beautiful things, met some beautiful people, and I can't imagine not having that experience. It's not just about going somewhere new and different. It's about taking a chance, doing something kind of wild and unplanned and impetuous....and surviving.

Our experience was such a positive one in every way. On a serious note, I just want to encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a week or two and going somewhere far far away. Somewhere foreign and strange and intimidating. Leave your comfort zone, and take a risk. And the money thing works itself out - it really does. It's never the perfect time to do something....sometimes you just have to do it.
Do it for yourself.
Do it for someone you love.
Do it for someone who can't.
Do it for someone who won't.

I have a list of places I want to go. I am going to add to it, and I am going to do more then just dream about visitng. I am going to save my pennies, pack my duffle bags, load up the family, grab my Visa and go.
I will take a train, ride a bus, fly in a plane, sail on a ship, do whatever I have to do to show my kids the world. There are adults in Hawaii who have never left their home island. Never taken the 25 minute flight to another county, seen another shore line. They have spent their entire lives on a small island in the middle of the Pacific. And while this is my home, I will leave, from time to time, and bring back strange and wonderful tales of adventure. From my paradise to yours.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

World Traveler part 13: The Ping Pong Show

Need I say more?  Really?  (sigh)  Well, all right.

First, you might want to spend some time looking for a video of this, um, artform. Actual video of the show itself is hard to come by. And my describing it just doesn't do it justice, really.

Because these are some very talented ladies (and ladyboys). The things they can do with their ping pong balls just BOGGLES THE MIND.

And they really wanted Sami to come and watch. A lot.

When you are walking the streets of Bangkok, you will constantly be asked if you want a massage, or a taxi, or a tuk tuk, or a tourguide. But Sami was special. In addition to all of those requests, every time that man walked anywhere after nightfall he would be asked - repeatedly, by almost every person we passed - if he wanted to see the ping pong show.

We were with other guys throughout this trip. No one asked THEM if they wanted to see the ping pong show. Just Sami. I guess he just looks like the kind of guy who would enjoy that sort of thing.  And after a while, it was a running joke. No matter where we were, or what we were doing, someone would mention the ping pong show. I told Sami that I thought he should go in there with a ping pong paddle, and just start whacking the balls back in the direction they came from.

He demurred.

The joke continued. He did not go to see a ping pong show. The joke escalated. He refused to go see the ping pong show. I offered to go WITH him - he remained uninterested. And so sadly, we left for the airport.....never having seen the fabulous ping pong show.

We were standing in line, at about 8am, waiting to go through immigration and have our passport stamped. There was a very long line, and the kids were exhausted and I hadn't had coffee, and we were all hungry and facing a very long day of travel. And then, like an angel, a petite Thai woman slipped up next to us, and motioned for us to follow her. "Family line" she said. So we followed dutifully with our children - heading for this magical "family line" with a spring in our step. There would be time for breakfast after all !

As we stood at the counter, passports in hand, wiggling children bickering about who got to sit on the suitcase while we waited, a uniformed official walked up to the woman who was processing the paperwork. He gave us a long, steady look, assessing whether we had the credentials for the "family line" - which of course, we did. Then he turned back to the woman behind the counter and said something about the ping pong show.

I am not making this up.
Sami and I stood there with our mouths hanging open. We looked at each other. "Did he just say....?" "Well, that's what I heard....."

And with that, we were handed our passports and escorted throught security, and pointed in the direction of our gate.

We still have no idea what the hell was going on, but the next time we go to Thailand, we are totally going to the Ping Pong Show.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

World Traveler Part 12: Phuket - pronounced with a "poo" or a "fuh" - still not my favorite place.

When last we spoke, I shared a story with a high-alcohol content and hijinks.

But let's get serious. That was one, blurry night. We were in the islands for 3 nights. I needed to find some things to do that did not involve being packed on a beach in a rented chair with thousands of other tourists.

So here's what we came up with:

Charter a boat and get the hell out of dodge - there are hundreds (thousands?) of tiny islands and not so tiny islands popping up everywhere you look. You can rent boats at almost every beach and dock - so negotiate a price and hop in.

Go see some elephants - you can ride an elephant, feed an elephant, see a baby elephant, learn about elephants, and help pay for the care of elephants - animals of surprising grace and dignity that left me completely enamored. It turns out, I am totally into elephants.

And I wouldn't be ME if I didn;t mention food....Eat someplace very local and vaguely scary - as you walk down the street in Thailand there will be many options for restaurants, carts, and vendors. Sometimes seating and shade are provided. Sometimes, not. But if you spot a crowd of locals enjoying a meal, stop and grab a seat and dig in. Even if you just ate. The food will cost you less then $5, and the memories are, truly, priceless. Just don't forget to wipe your plate and silverware with toilet paper, for the love of all that is good and right in the world.

Some islands that are worth checking out?
Koh Lanta
Koh Kradan
Koh Pha-Ngan
Koh Yao
Koh Muk
Koh Kut

If you find yourself on Phuket, and are just as horrified as I was......there are quick options I wish I had known about. Drive South, my friend, past Karon and Kata, to a stretch of sleepy beach that will be a nice alternative to the crowds. OR you can head to the Northwest corner of the area, and enjoy the beaches in that area - specifically Bang Thao or Surin.

And you don't have to fly through Phuket necessarily. You can also fly through Krabi - something I would recommend heartily.

The very best thing we did during our time in Phuket was drive into the middle of nowhere, get on a boat heading out to sea, and dock at a floating restaurant, where the fish was literally pulled out of the ocean and prepared for us right then and there. Kachang Floating Restaurant is one of several options off the east coast of Phuket - and it was truly amazing. It may have been the most memorable part of what was truly an incredible 2 week vacation.

Monday, February 1, 2010

World Traveler Part 11 - Thailand's Islands: the part about me getting drunk and dancing on tables


Here's the thing.




When we got to Phuket, and had no idea where we were going, I got all uptight and bitchy - because I *hate* not knowing where I am, or where I am going. I had come south looking for a beach bungalow, pristine white sand, and crystal clear blue water. That is not what I was seeing.

We ended up in Patong Beach, for some reason. It was, in a word, YUCKY. I had my good old Lonely Planet Guidebook, but it was not helping. The travel agent we found was not helping. The streets were crowded, it was hot and dusty, the beaches were was kind of like Cancun.

I hate Cancun.

So I went stomping off with my family sort of trailing along behind. I was going to find us a place to stay, dammit. First I went to an internet cafe, and tried to find something online. No dice. Leaving the clan sitting at a bar eating ice cream and drinking beer, I squared my shoulders and headed out into the whirling humanity of Patong.

I made it about half a block, when this resort caught my eye.
It was set back from the road, and I couldn't actually SEE the resort - just a few ornate buildings and an archway. But there was a resort back there, according to the sign. And a spa.

Me likey.

I went to the front desk, and inquired. The price was a little high. We had a very stilted conversation with a lot of quizzical looks (desk clerk) and hand gestures (me). Not THAT hand gesture, though usually, yes, you can count on me for that in times of stress. But these were nice, friendly hand gestures, showing how small my children were, and how small my available credit on the credit card was.

We ended up with a big, air conditioned room overlooking plumeria tress and water gardens and the pool. We had a wide verandah and a bathtub and a king-sized bed with a rollaway. It was better then our other options, but I was still pretty chafed at not having the beachfront bungalow.

So I went out and got plastered on 20 bhat ($75 cent) cocktails. I mean, it was the only reasonable response to an unreasonable situation. I started out classy - went to a fancy restaurant with friends, sipped sparking water, demurred when offered wine.......and then things went very, very low brow.

Turns out, the street our hotel was on becomes very, ummmmm, different after dark. All of these bars open up, and the bars are filled with girls of a questionable age, and a questionable chromosomal makeup. Because it turns out a lot of these girls were, uh.......well, they were boys. Ladyboys, they call them.

And it is damned hard to tell boy from girls from ladyboys. Especially after a whole bunch of cocktails.

So our evening passed pleasantly enough with rousing games of "guess the girl" and "does she have a penis?" and also "are those real?" which it turns out can be used to analyze almost everything you see in Patong Beach at night.

Well, after a few hours, a pack of cigarettes, and more then a few drinks, the photos seem to show me, with my skirt tied up around my thighs, hanging onto a pole and, uh, well I wouldn't call it dancing because dude, if not for the pole I would have been face first on the floor. At some point, I realized that there was trouble in paradise. My reaction to our fancy dinner kicked in, and then while walking back to the hotel I realized how incredibly hammered I was.
Really fucking hammered, turns out.

I somehow made it to our room, and while trying to knock quietly somehow pushed the unlatched door open, and somehow ended up sliding into the room face first with my skirt over my head. Thank god, the children were asleep. I crawled over to the bed, handed my phone to Sami, begged him to text my friends that I had made it back safe, and headed directly to the bathroom.

The next morning dawned bright and early. We had breakfast. I was OK-ish. And we got the hell out of Patong.

In our next chapter, we'll talk about the cool things we found to do, and where you should go instead of Phuket. M'kay?