Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I daily trips to Whole Foods count as an addiction?

Listen, I just need to get my fix.

After 8 years of shopping in grocery stores that just smell weird, with shelves full of items I do not use, with labels I cannot read, with ingredients I do not recognize, I am basking in the glory of Whole Foods.

It is clean and bright and shiny and new. It smells nice and things are pretty and the selection is good and the prices aren't too bad, but in the end (as always) It's All About the Meat. Carnivores unite and celebrate our good fortunes. If I had a turkey leg right now (pausing to jot that on my grocery list, because THEY DO INDEED have turkey legs) I would be cooking it over fire, then gnawing on it and waving it around for emphasis.

Trust me, when you get a look at what I have been buying for the last 8 years you'll understand.......The meat at most local stores is encased in plastic and frozen solid (or slowly defrosting, letting you know just how long it has been sitting there as it leaks through 3 or 4 layers of plastic wrap). Occasionally it is vacuum sealed, sometimes a funny color, and many times it only comes in 10 pound packages. At my beloved Whole Foods, it comes however I like it, wrapped in pretty brown paper. Since I do not hunt, or grow my own food, I have to rely on others to provide. And Whole Foods is totally providing, baby.

Providing so well, in fact, that I find myself there Almost Every Day. And not in a crazy, Whole Paycheck kind of's just that the food they are selling is fresh, and so I want to go there every day and buy that fresh food, and then eat it - while it is still fresh. So we go. I get the staples that we are out of (yesterday it was peanut butter, today it is milk) and then we get some meat, and maybe some olives and perhaps some grains or cheese. A fresh-baked loaf of focaccia. A few little somethings, all packed in my re-usable grocery bag, and then I head home feeling fulfilled and strangely victorious. As though I had gone out and foraged and brought home this nutritious food from the woods and the wilds in order to nourish my family.

I am practically Ma Ingalls, I know.

The only thing that would make my life any better would be if I had a Trader Joes. But I can't even allow myself to *dream* about it. That would just be too much to bear. My heart would explode with joy, I think.

So in the meantime, I am heading to Whole Foods. I need something to gnaw on.

Probably definitely not broken, but still a wimp. And nothing ever happens in my neighborhood. Sort of.

OK, I can say with relative certainty that I have NOT broken my hand. It feels much better today.

But last night I could barely drive home. Two practices down, and after each of them I almost had to call a cab. The first time, my legs were so sore I was having trouble pressing down on the clutch. And my arms were shaking so hard that steering was a challenge. (Aren't you impressed? I know, I am the roller derby QUEEN !)

Last night, I couldn't actually close my left hand around the steering wheel. So I drove home using this interesting combination of knees, elbows, and my right hand, bypassing the drive-thru for my customary "when I'm in town" iced tea because I could not for the life of me figure out how a Big Gulp was going to work into my repertoire.

However, now I am fine, and will be getting my extra-large iced tea today thankyouverymuch. And I am working on growing some cajones so that they don't boot me off the team for being a total baby.

Now, about my neighborhood.

Yes, I live on Maui. No, I do not live on the beach. I am, in fact, miles from the beach, high on the mountain. My neighborhood is small and non-descript. Just houses and cul de sacs, families and newlyweds and retirees all living in harmony. Most of the time. Hawaii has a pretty serious drug problem - Ice, mostly. We have been fairly sheltered from it in our small close-knit neighborhoods, but still. It is pervasive and destructive, and affects everyone. Everyone on island has a friend or relative or neighbor (using the 6 degrees of seperation algorithm) who has fallen prey to drugs. Meth, Ice, Crack,'s a small island, and the problems appear magnified because they do truly touch all of us in some way.

And last night, we had drama. I'll start from the beginning, so you get the gist of the situation. The house across the street has a downstairs apartment, and that apartment has had a series of very odd tenants. The most recent resident was a single mom and her 3 kids. My children were thrilled - New Friends ! Across the street ! FUN !!!!!!!! Except, not so much. The kids seemed to be, well....(sigh) let's say "unsupervised". Their mother appeared to be having some......issues. She was almost always inside, with the blinds closed. They moved in to the apartment during the night, beginning at 11 pm, bringing load after load of plastic grocery bags into the apartment from their car, which was missing it's muffler and several windows. I am certainly in no position to judge someone's parenting, but things were not right over there. She didn't work, or leave the house. I never saw her doing much of anything, actually. The kids weren't going to school regularly. They didn't seem to be eating regularly. They were dirty, frequently playing in the street - in their pajamas. They didn't appear to have a bed time. It just seemed strange. Really odd. But I didn't say anything. I never interacted with the mother, and the kids were welcome at our house anytime (within reason).

And then, while we were away this winter, right after New Years, Child Protective Services came and took the kids. It was, to be honest, a huge relief. I saw the children a few weeks later - they were clean, well dressed, living across the street from the school, able to play on the playground and walk themselves to class. They were with a family, they had been given haircuts, they had shoes on their feet and food in their belly. They had been rescued, in every sense of the word. I felt guilty for not reporting the strange behavior sooner, but I had never witnessed abuse and there is no law against playing in the street in your pajamas or homeschooling - all of those things happen here at our house too. But it was, truly, more then that. My mommy gut was telling me something was not right across the street. However, with the kids relocated, and the mom meeting with social services, I hoped for the best. Maybe this would be her wake-up call. Maybe she would be able to get clean, get a job, get her life back. But eventually, the social workers stopped visiting, and she stopped coming outside. She reverted back to the neighbor who moved in during the night. Nocturnal, unpredictable, shuffling around with her head down, half dressed, talking to herself. It was just so......sad. How do you help someone who doesn't want help? Who does not do everything in her power to get custody of her kids back? Who cannot stop using, cannot make it better, cannot help herself?

And then last night she was evicted from the apartment . It started with the sheriff arriving at about 5pm with his deputy. I left for practice at 5:20 and they were sitting, waiting for her to come back to the apartment so they could serve her with notice. Before I left, we brought the kids inside, locked up the dogs, and closed the curtains - not sure how this was going to play out.

When I returned home 3 hours later, 2 police cars were pulling out of our dead-end street, and I knew exactly where they were coming from. However, the car in front of me - the one driving INTO the neighborhood - belonged to this woman. The cops hadn't even left the neighborhood, and she was back.


She didn't stay for long, we all gathered in our front yards and on our porches, watching with our arms crossed, not saying a word, but no longer willing to look the other way. Some people are not able to hold their lives together, and I can only imagine how difficult her day to day existance is, to have lost custody of her children, to have let her life spiral to such a dark and terrible place. But we cannot allow her decisions to affect the safety and sanctity of my home and neighborhood. As she drove away, she was screaming and cursing, and waving her middle finger out the window. We just watched, silent and sad.

This morning our neighborhood is sunny and peaceful. Drama-free for now. But every time I look across the street, I wonder who will be moving in next.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I should probably have waited until the insurance kicked in.

Tonight was roller derby practice number 2. I tried to keep up with the squad, and tried not to fall down. Reasonable goals, but a stretch, apparently. Because not only did I get lapped throughout the night (in my estimation, they were skating at least TWICE as fast as I was) but I also managed to fall down in spectacular fashion, completely unprovoked, totally on my own. No one bumped me or cut me off or anything.

I Just Fell Down.

And now it appears that I may or may not have broken a bone or three in my left hand (have I mentioned I'm left handed? I'm left handed). This is a very unfortunate turn of events for several reasons.

First, what asshole starts breaking bones on her second derby practice, without any physical contact of any kind? (Other then the contact of my left hand and the concrete - followed quickly by 2 knees, elbows and eventually my ass.)

Me. I'm that asshole.

Plus, having a broken hand would make it very difficult to bartend and wait tables, so let's just pretend that I never said that.

My hand is fine. I'm fine. Ouch. Sweet Jeebus this really does hurt. Shaking it off..........

OK, so now I am home clutching an ice pack and bitching about what a pussy I am and how they are probably going to just throw me off the team because I suck so hard. The only thing that is going to cheer me up is an anti-inflammatory and a beer. They are on deck and waiting for me to shower - and grow a pair. I am really going to have to toughen up if I am going to do this thing.

Let's reconnect tomorrow, for a status update....and maybe a trip to the clinic for an x-ray! They have good burgers at the clinic, so the trip wouldn't be a total loss, plus the kids would get stickers and OOOOhhhhh maybe I'll get a CAST ! Dude, that would be AWESOME. I wonder if they have pink.............hey, where's my beer? Wait, was that an ibuprofen, or a vicodin? Hm. Ah well, whatever.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Three Things

Have you ever visited Mighty Girl?

You should. I find her very inspiring, and her style? Well, obviously she's got that in spades, which is something I enjoy vicariously.

And she's got the list. This life list. This Mighty Life List. And she has had several companies sponsor her as she crosses these items off her list. Needless to say, her list is fucking awesome. And some of the items really NEED a corporate sponsor. So yay Maggie for finding a way to make it happen. We should all be so lucky.

In the glaring absence of corporate sponsors (and since I am between jobs, I don't really have any damn sponsor at all except my husband who is basically sponsoring my entire life - so it seems shitty to throw a list at hime of Things I Want to do Before I Die that He Needs to Pay For) I have embraced her goal for this month of crossing 3 items off her list.

Let me rephrase that. I'm not crossing things off HER list, I'm crossing them off my own. 3 items off MY LIST.

Only I didn't have a list. I still don't have a list,. That's on my list for next month.

But in the meantime, I did manage to accomplish three things that I have always wanted to do, or was scared to do, or wondered if I would be able to do, or thought I couldn't do, or some combination of those options:

1. I stood up for myself, and walked out of a job even though I needed the money. I held my head up, and I was the better person. I did not throw a fit, or act like an ass. You know how sometimes, someone says or does something nasty, and for 2 weeks you wander around muttering all of the snappy comebacks you wish you had been able to come up with at the time? I didn't have that. I am 110% at peace with how it all went down, and it was a life-altering experience. I hope you never find yourself in that position, but if you do, I hope that in the end, you look back on it and say "I am proud of how I handled that".

2. I joined the roller derby. Good God. I totally did. I bought skates, I went to practice, and I loved it. I am petrified, and sore, and at the same time completely thrilled. I needed to have something for me. I don't go to the gym (I think we have covered that) and I have never excelled at team sports, but man......I think I can do this.

3. I sent out a query. Instead of thinking of story ideas in bed as I fall asleep, forgetting them in the morning, and then reading the article I had in my head - with someone else's byline - a few months later, I came home, sat down, wrote up a proposal for a story, and faxed it along with samples of my writing. And while of course I hope that it gets picked up, and that they love it, even just faxing that initial letter tonight was an accomplishment. It was a major hurdle. It was something I have always assumed I wasn't good enough to do and tonight I just.......did it. I didn't follow any samples online, I just wrote from the heart, because that' show I write. And if how I write doesn't get their attention, then I'm not writing the way I should be and I shouldn't get the gig ANYWAY. So fingers crossed that something I submitted interests them enough to contact me, but even if I never hear, back, I will be less hesitant to submit my next story idea (but if this doesn't work, then next time I am actually going to follow the professional suggestions).

Alright, so there you have it. 3 things down.

Next month, 3 more.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What sin a name

I am in the middle of a huge project here this morning.

Trying to choose a roller derby name.

This is a really big deal, people. There is a national registry of names, and you have to skate for a few months with your team before you can be registered, to prove you are serious. Dedicated. Committed. Not committed like psych ward committed - although, after watching the Maui Roller Girls (Crazy 808s) v.s. the Garden Isle Renegade Rollerz (GIRRLZ) during their bout yesterday I am starting to think that you might HAVE to be crazy to skate Roller Derby.

Which suits me Just Fine. OBVIOUSLY.

So After perusing the list of registered rollergirls, and playing around with a name generator, I am back at square one, which I think means that I have chosen my name....or it has chosen me. The name was thrown out there by one of my new teammates - I introduced myself, she mis-heard me, and the next thing you know I have a roller derby name.

And as soon as I am legal, all will be revealed.... It'll be like Christmas in July, people.

In the meantime, go get your own damn name. And if you take mine, you better keep your helmet on.
Registered List of Derby Names
Roller Derby Name Generator
Name Suggestions

Friday, March 26, 2010

You, know I feel the same way

Last night I had to resort to the working mom's cafeteria: McDonalds.

We don't go that often, really. It's still considered a *very* special treat around here. So last night, when I got Lucy buckled up and headed down the hill to drop her off at gymnastics before I started my shift, I didn't tell her right away what I had in mind for dinner.

"Hey Luce, you want a burger?"


and a few minutes later it dawns on her......

"Mama, WHERE are we going to get a burger?" Oh, the twinkle in her eye. She sees where we are headed, and she knows, and yet doesn't dare to dream.....

"Hm, where should we go?"


"Are you *sure* you want McDonalds?"


So we go to McDonalds, and I get her a burger and oh my god you would think I just gave her the world. She's hlding it oh so tenderly, taking big bites and "mmm mmm mmm"-ing. I am rolling my eyes.

"Lucy, can you take it down a  few notches, there?"

"Sorry mom, but you know McDonalds. It's DAMN GOOD."


"Sorry mom, don't worry, it's not as good as your burgers."

Well, at least she's got that straight.............

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oh my

So I worked my very first shift at the new bar. It was very pleasant. No one was shouting (at least, not at me, or in anger - just some good-old-fashioned enthusiasm). The owner greeted me when I arrived, and then an hour later came behind the bar to remind me that this was a trial period. I tried not to panic.

I wonder if he told me that because - after watching me work for an hour - he was having some serious doubts about my abilities, and needed to remind me that THIS WAS NOT A PERMANENT SITUATION.

Duly noted.

The floor staff are lovely. So lovely and sweet and welcoming and only one person seemed really annoyed by my very presence, but you know, what are you going to do. Everyone can't like you all the time.

I was slow - much slower then my usual work pace. I was not at my best. I was clumsy and slow and confused and easily rattled. I didn't know where anything was, people were ordering things I wasn't familiar with, I wasn't sure what my responsibilities were, etc. etc. you know - the usual excuses for not blowing them away with my mad skillz. But excuses aside, I was a nervous wreck. I made a point of telling almost every customer that it was my first night, in case I screwed anything up. Plus, I didn't have a beer bottle opener, and that was a problem. I was trying to open beers with my wine key, until I actually broke the GLASS NECK of a Heineken. That was super.

So I had to keep tracking down the other bartender, and asking her if I could use her opener - which sort of defeated the point of having two bartenders, if one was unable to work without the other. This went on until about 3 hours into my shift, when the bartender who was training me (and constantly lending me her opener) pointed out the bottle opener mounted on the beer cooler. Aha. How convenient. I am an asshole. Clearly. That poor woman, what must she think of me?

The next time someone ordered a beer, I knew just what to do. I went right over to this handy-dandy opener on the outside of the beer cooler, and opened a beer.

Not only did the bottle cap come off - but the entire fucking opener came off the outside of the cooler.

I just don't know my own strength.

So I stood there, clutching an open beer with one hand, and trying to re-attach the opener with my other hand. I looked like an idiot. Several staff members were just standing their with their mouths hanging open, watching this SPECTACLE. I felt like a complete and total asshole. I really did. I know they were wondering what (or who) I did to get this gig. Because it was not on my own merits, that was for damn sure.

I think it was all just nerves. I hope it was all just nerves. Maybe it's just nerves. I was nervous.

And don't even get me started on the drinks. A "red-headed slut"? REALLY????? Did we need to go there?
Because I haven't had red hair in years, buddy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

this latest obsession is O.K. with me

My son is obsessed with washing dishes and loading the dishwasher. He just tried it out for the first time this morning, and the kid has been washing every dirty dish since breakfast.

I love my life today.

I say "today" because, realistically, he may get bored with it by dinner time. But for now I don't have to wash dishes and that is awesome.

He is positively giddy - he's having so much fun that - when he ran out of dirty dishes - he began taking the clean dishes out of the drying rack and re-washing them "for practice". He is waiting with breathless anticipation for the dishwasher to be full, so that he can put in the dishtab and press the start button. Every half hour, he opens the front of the dishwasher and checks to see if it has reached maximum capacity.

I think this is why people have children.

In the meantime, I am lying on the sofa enjoying being unemployed for another 3 hours. Very exciting stuff. A lady of leisure, I am.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turns out, I wasn't so much unemployed as just taking a night off.

Oh calm down, of COURSE I didn't go back to work for that asshole my job. No no no, I sent out an APB and thank god someone was able to get me an interview and voila I am off to fill out new hire paperwork and I guess my first shift is, uh, tomorrow.

I really hope I don't fuck this up. Between the fact that I basically got the job as a favor, and the fact that I will technically only miss one night of work during the transition, this is just too good to be true. So I am frantically cribbing shot recipes and tasting beers (FOR WORK, not for FUN) and trying to bone up on my bartending skills (bwahahahaha I said "bone").

My point is this: I got another job. Thank God and Hallelujah. I have never been more relieved. Not only do I never have to go back to work for that awful, awful man who clearly hates me (and maybe most everyone else, I can't be sure) but I don't have to stress out about weeks of being unemployed and the slow season coming up, which would make this a difficult time of year to find a new job.

I'll be bartending, at night, in a bar where there is more of a party atmosphere. They are transitioning from a classic sports bar with huge TVs playing every game available and countless beers and shots and Jager on tap, to a more relaxed atmosphere. Less sports memorabilia, a vastly improved menu, and organic wines - I think I can do this.

Would you like a Jager Bomb? Perhaps a Buttery Nipple? No, not mine. What the hell is wrong with you?

Many thanks going out to my friends, who totally came through for me this weekend. Especially Trouble +1. Thanks, guys.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I'm free. Well, for a little while at least.

Last night I got home from a slow night at work - which was also my last night at work - and crawled onto the bed mid-panic attack. With my heart racing and my breath shortening, I lay there listening to my pulse hammer in my ears, trying to calm myself down. I guess even when you know it is the right thing to do, quitting your job is still hard. Scary. Emotional. Stressful.

So in an effort to chill out and stop *thinking* about everything all the time, today I spent the day with family, at the beach, relaxing. Next week I hope I will be starting a new job. In the meantime, I am going to clean the house thoroughly and nap extensively.

How is that different from my usual routine, you ask?
Not much. I am known as a bit of a napper. But the cleaning thing is all new.

Baby Steps.

I don't really mind cleaning the house. It's not my favorite thing, but it's sort of nice to see the results of an hour of scrubbing and vacuuming. But when it somes to putting away laundry, it's a whole different ballgame. At some point this week, I have to put away the clean laundry. You notice I am not putting any pressure on myself to put the laundry away on any particular day - just sometime this week. When I feel like it. Even if I don't feel like it, I'm still going to do it. Because I can't find any clean underwear, and yet the hamper is empty and all of the clothes have been washed. Which means they are somewhere in that enormous pile of clothing that I am trying to ignore in the corner of my room. And on the sofa. And in each of the kids' rooms. And in the rocking chair. And on the drying rack. It's been dry for days (weeks?) but it still hangs there, waiting patiently.

And I will get to it......eventually. Right now, I think I will focus on my bowl of ice cream, and a nice nap.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

All the things I wish I had said

Tonight was my last night working at the restaurant.

It was a very abrupt ending to a job I really loved, with people I love, and customers I love. I can't really believe it's over, actually.

But oh baby, is it over.

It is important to note that this restaurant is awesome. The food is great. The staff is amazing. So if you know me "in real life" and know where I work, please do not let this color your view of the place. The staff deserve your continued patronage. That said, I am going to tell you exactly what happened.

Because I know you love details.

You're welcome.

Honestly, I am almost embarrassed to even say what happened. Almost. But not quite. Even though people will be quick to say I am over-reacting, I still refuse to be That Girl who takes it with a smile. My embarrassment is so fucking textbook that even THAT embarrasses me. I am embarrassed about being embarrassed. Good Lord. Let's say embarrassed one more time. There - now it doesn't even make sense as a word anymore. Moving on.

The reason I left is because my employer spoke to me in a way that was just not acceptable. It was, without getting overly dramatic, abusive. Yesterday, during my shift, the owner told me to "shut the fuck up".

He told me to shut the fuck up. HE told ME to shut the fuck up.


I know, I didn't really know how to respond either. There is a lot of backstory, and restaurants are pretty raunchy places so it's not unusual for poeple to use the word "fuck" or yell at someone. And I am sure if asked, he would have many reasons/excuses/justifications for what he said, the first of which would be "Well, I said it because she needs to shut the fuck up. And if she doesn't like it she can get the fuck out."

Good Thinking.

In the end, what I decided was that none of his explanations mattered. It didn't matter if he was stressed (he is), or if I was being loud or out of line (I wasn't), or if he meant it to be funny (he didn't and it wasn't). It's just not okay to tell your employee to shut the fuck up, especially in the middle of your restaurant during business hours while people are eating.

You know, I think I can take that further. It is not okay to tell ANYONE to shut the fuck up in anger. There is joking, there is kidding around, there are people who swear like sailors all day every day (like myself). I am not afraid of the word fuck. At all. I am not afraid to tell someone to shut up, or indignant at being told to shut up. People tell me to shut up ALL THE FUCKING TIME - and I happily reciprocate. Sometimes I even take their advice.

This was not That. This was your classic verbally abusive guy using horrible words and his position as the signer of the paycheck to make others feel worthless and small. You may be reading this and rollling your eyes, and thinking "Man, he must be thrilled to get rid of THIS one" and I can understand why you might feel that way. But there is another side to this. This sort of behavior is habitual, and goes on all day long - it was just the first time it had been directed at me. This was someone in a position of power trying to intimidate and "discipline" me. Good luck with that, buddy. You and my mom can cry into your drinks (tea for her, beer for him) about how obstinate I am. (Oh, she could tell you stories. And show you the bills. That poor woman.) But you cannot argue with the fact that I am a good employee, and a good person. And I am finally going to walk the walk that is so easy to talk. I'm not just going to stand around complaining about him during my shift, or tsk tsking about how awful it was, and is. That sucks, and I hate it when people do that. It's better that I leave, and not spread the negativity in the workplace. He does that just fine on his own.

An abusive relationship does NOT need to be a romantic one. Just because our relationship was strictly professional doesn't mean it was healthy. Once you have been spoken to like that, it is really easy for it to happen again (which is where we get into textbook abuse scenarios). People can be assholes, and then people can cross the line into abuse. And until you acknowledge it, until you say it out loud, until you expose someone as abusive, the abuse continues, and spirals and grows and worsens and deepens and starts to affect every part of your life and you become ABUSED and then you feel shitty about yourself and everyone else involved and it's's just not good. It's not good, and it's not healthy, and dammit people know this goes on and just sort of roll their eyes and say "Well, what do you expect. That's how he is." But it's not how I am. I am not going to make excuses or look the other way or try to rationalize it. I'll take my tax return and spread the word that I am unemployed, and I will find another job and work my ass off. I am not going to be afraid to leave.

"I can just leave" I thought to myself as he walked away to greet more customers.

So, I left. My shift was over, I had transferred my tables, my paperwork was done, and I left without a peep. He probably thought to himself "Hah! That's right, just walk away, you hoity-toity bitch". But what he maybe didn't realize is that I am not walking back.

He'll be fine, he has a great staff and I am just one of many able employees. He is lucky to have such a good team, and he doesn't need me. I know that. He just hadn't made it quite so clear until Friday afternoon, when - in front of the candidate for mayor and his campaign manager, two families and the rest of the staff - he told me to shut the fuck up.

Not fucking likely, you douchebag.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It all comes down to this.

Today we had our parent interview at the school we hope to send the kids to next year.

I wore my pearls and my dress pants, Sami put on a (gasp) button down shirt, and we made our way over to the school, trying not to seem too overwraught. Okay, desperate. We were trying not to seem desperate.


We sat outside in the wind, waiting to be let in. Their was another set of parent shaving their interview ahead of us. The mother kept going outside to talk on the phone - so the interview was running long. I was annoyed.  I thought it was rude to make us wait without acknowledging us sitting there alone outside, locked out of the building "because the secretary wasn't there."  I thought it was incredibly rude of the other parent to not SHUT HER FUCKING PHONE OFF for her parent interview with the principal of the school she wanted to send her kids to. So I was already in a bit of a snit by the time the principal opened the door and let us actually come INDOORS. It was like some weird test, to see if we had the strength of character to sit and be uncomfortable and Wait Our Turn, and then graciously accept her half-hearted apology which was something along the lines of "Thanks for waiting, at least it wasn't raining."


We sat down and talked about the kids, about what we were looking for in a school, and were basically told that Lucy was going to be offered a spot, but that they hadn't decided about Max. His test scores were low, he wasn't very motivated during the testing, etc. etc . etc.

I am not going to make excuses for Max. He has his challenges, but is a sweet-natured, bright kid. He responds well to structure, and to authority. He is pretty compliant and well-behaved. He is also, well, maybe kind of, to explain. The public school here does not expect much from their students, and so he learned to do the bare minimum to get by. Which is, ironically, WHY we are trying to get him into this private school. We want him to do better, and we want his teachers to expect him to do his best.

I have concerns about the fact that they tested him before he had ever visited the campus, or met the teacher, or interacted with any of the students. It seems like the entire admissions process is based not on my kid - but on his test scores, and how he behaves when he is being tested. Lucy tested like a champ, she was in a good mood that day, and loved the teacher, and was excited about the classroom. For her test she got to draw pictures and answer questions. She had - from start to finish - a totally different experience then Max did.

I am left to wonder if I am being defensive because he's my kid, or if this admissions procedure is just proof that this is not the right school for him. Either way, I didn't feel good about the interview. I feel like maybe they were just feeling us out, to see if we would send Lucy if they didn't offer Max a spot as well. Which of course, we won't.

But maybe I am being cynical. Maybe they were giving us the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they were trying to learn more about Max, to see if the issue was his response to testing, or his grasp of basic math concepts and ability to write an essay. Because he definitely CAN. He just doesn't WANT to.

This is one of those times when I hate being the grownup.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not right now, thanks

Hi. shhhhhh. No need to reply, why are you talking so loudly and is it bright in here? It seems really extra bright in here.

The kids slept in this morning, yet more proof that they have been raised right. Because yes Virginia, we do need to sleep in, the morning after drinking 1/4 bottle of Jameson and two shots of this in 2 hours.

Yes, yes we do.

All I wanted when I opened up my eyes this morning (sloooooowly) was a cup of tea. I forgot to bring home soda bread, which is exactly what you need for breakfast the morning after The Day (and I am sure that's why they make Irish Soda Bread - to soak up the booze in your belly). So I was going to have to make do with tea. And I opened the cupboard, and........water came out. Water. From inside my cupboard. The morning after some serious drinking.

That is just not right.

So I stood there, and tried not to cry, and realized that the entire ceiling along that wall was dripping. Because it has been raining for THREE WEEKS.

I wanted to cry, but instead, I called my husband (who, as the designated driver last night, was in much better shape then myself and had actually gone to work). I threw out the wet boxes of tea. I whimpered, and made tea with a damp teabag. And now I am sitting here, far FAR away from the kitchen, trying to ignore the downpour that just started up again outside. I might start drinking again.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Best thing about St Patrick's Day

The very best thing about tomorrow being St Patricks Day? It falls during spring break, which means I do not have to get up at 6am the day after. I might not get up until 6PM, given the opportunity.

I do enjoy St. Patricks Day, a holiday that involves nostalgia, drinking, and hot accents. (Have you ever seen this movie? Oh my god, that Irish Brogue. Yummy. ANYWAY My aunt sent me a card today in honor of the holiday. It said:

"May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love." Or Jameson. Jameson warms the heart nicely. That's not part of the poem, just my personal advice.

Another tip - have everyone at your St Patricks Day gathering of choice leave their keys and their phones in a secured area. No drunk driving, no photography allowed. I learned that lesson last year, when some very unacceptable pictures were posted on Facebook and I tried to get in my car (to retrieve a sweater - NOT to drive - DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE) using my house key.

Seriously. Don't Drink and Drive. Please. (But do drink. Definitely, have a drink.)

Did you wash the window screens?

The other day, I looked out the window and realized that I could actually SEE out the window.

"Baby, did you clean the window screens"

(long pause) "Um, no." *blink* "Why? Why would I do that? I didn't do that." But of course, the real question that I could see on his panicked face was: "Oh shit.....Was I supposed to do that?"

Either way, they look much better, or I am finally taking the right dose of Xanax.

This morning was a beautiful morning, and I decided to take the kids to the beach. I packed up the cooler, got the towels off the line, found swim suits, applied sunblock, and headed out, grabbing the keys off the hook as I went out the......wait. Where are the keys? Fuck. Fuckityfuckfuck. So I put down the bag and the cooler. I walk to the edge of the deck and shout down to Max "Hey, do you have the keys?"

"Um, no." *blink* Why do men look at me like that when I ask them a question?

So I go back inside and start rooting around - looking through pockets and purses, inside closets and on high shelves. Under the pile of clean laundry, in the top drawer, on the table, under the keys.

I call Sami.

"Where are the keys?"

"On the hook."

"No. No they're not. OK, I gotta go find them." I hang up and the phone rings immediately.

"In my top drawer," he proclaims, triumphant. "Nope." "In my cooler?" "Nope." "In the shed?" "Nope. Listen, I have to go find them, the kids are waiting."

I continue my search. I alert my friends that I will not be at the beach, or yoga. I am not happy.

Eventually, the kids give up, and come back inside and turn on The Muppet Show. While they watch Diana Ross strut around in some silver jumpsuit thing that looks like a weather balloon talking about how "I Don't Want It" I retrace my steps. I give up. I don't want it either.

And then, I have a terrible feeling. An awful feeling. I look at the beach bag, sitting by the door. I empty it onto the floor. And there are the keys. Right there. In the bag. Where I put them.

"Hey kids I found the keys!"

"Where WERE they?" Max is pissed.

"Um, I found them on the floor. Let's go to the beach!"

"WHERE on the floor."

"Oh, uh, somewhere. On the floor over there." I gesture vaguely.

So we get in the car and go to the beach. We sit down, we hang out, we clean up, we walk back to the car.....and I reach for the keys. They're gone.


I leave the kids by the car. I walk back to the beach. I search, but the tide is coming in, and my spot is now underwater and if I had dropped anything there, it was long gone. So I retrace my steps, searching, looking, trying not to panic.

And when I get back to the car, I have a terrible feeling. An awful feeling. I look at the beach chair, folded up and leaning against the bumper. I walk up, bend over and unzip the back pocket, and pull out the keys.

The other mothers look at me sadly. "Poor thing" I am sure they are thinking. "She's completely lost her mind."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hepatitis Park...skip the swings, hang out in the dirt and dig for treasure !

I took the kids to the playground today. I KNOW ! I am AWESOME !

I hate the playground. Not just because it's filled with OPC (other people's children) but also because it is fucking DIRTY and OHMYGODTHEGERMS. So I am sitting there, perched on the edge of the bench, trying not to touch anything, completely skeeved out, while my children are running around in the dirt and picking up all of these random things from the ground and using them for some kind of imaginary pretend game they had going on. My son took off his shoes, both kids were completely covered in filth, we were out of water and it was hot and sunny and windy so the dirt was blowing everywhere and WHYGODWHY it was awful and I was utterly paralyzed by the grossness of it all. I just couldn't relax and enjoy some time with my girlfriends. I had to keep track of the kids, who were running around like they had just been released from prison and were enjoying their first taste of freedom in 20 years.

So I call Max over and tell him to "please, for the love of god, stop tackling that little asshole (L.A.) who's bothering you and go wash your hands again." He is not pleased, and for the record, that L.A. he pinned deserved it but I digress because let's be honest, my real issue isn't with whether Max was out of line, or whether the L.A. deserved it, but with the fact that this particular L.A. was filthy and sweaty and had really long hair that was blowing in the breeze which would have been beautiful if I didn't live in fear of ukus (and for good reason: 3 out of 4 people in this household have long thick hair and ukus are just not something we can deal with AS A FAMILY, my debilitating OCD aside. Well, not really aside, but sort of, well, yeah okay aside. ANYWAY. UKUS ARE BAD AND YUCKY.)

As Max wanders off to wash his hands, I throw his slippers in the general direction of his ass "And put these ON YOUR FEET!" I shout after him like the crazy person that I am. He glares at me, puts the slippers back on, and shuffles away. Now I am scratching my head because the very thought of ukus makes my head itch. ***shudder***

Meanwhile, Lucy is lying in the "sand" under a slide, building a "sandcastle" and it is All I Can Do to keep myself from running over and dragging her out of there. I am literally willing myself to stay put and let her play like a normal child. My friend wanders up and we are talking about how grossed out I am, and she tells me that "once I found a syringe in the dirt on the ground here."

"Oh yeah."


Now we are home, I am about to shampoo my head with kerosene, and the kids have been thoroughly marinated in soap and tee tree oil and I don't think that is even close to good enough. If I could spray us all down with Roundup, I totally would, but I have been advised against it so, well, I'm open to alternatives.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nappy McNapper

I'm a napper. Oh, the naps I have enjoyed over the years.

I didn't used to nap, but now that I work at night and get up early in the morning with the kids, napping has become a critically important part of my day. So important that I will fight for my right to nap. People talk about napping as a recreational activity. Something that's nice to do. Something that they enjoy when they have the chance. A luxury few can afford. And I get that - I do. But with a cumulative 3 or 4 hours a sleep a night, napping is not optional for me. It is a survival technique. Because I would not be able to drive to or from work safely if I didn't get some sort of rest, at some point prior to my shift.
My point is......I get up early, I work late, and I have insomnia. If I don't get some sleep during the day I Lose My Shit. I am not fooling around. I am VERY SERIOUS. And my husband can tell you just how serious - as soon as he gets his hearing back and I untie him from the doghouse he is residing in this evening. Because that man Fucked With My Nap.

Every week, it feels like we have the same conversation. I ask what jobs he has lined up for the weekend, we discuss the other plans we have made, and my work schedule, and we make a plan. And because I work Saturday night, I need to get some sleep at some point on Saturday afternoon. Which means he needs to be here, or take the kids with him wherever he goes. Period. End of story. Full stop.

And this Saturday was no exception. We had commitments in the morning, and the afternoon was already blocked off for MY NAP. We had a very full day planned, so he was going to do his work on Sunday - we talked about it several times during the morning, in fact. Which is why at 2:30pm, I was surprised to hear that he was leaving to go do some work, without the kids. Because, of course, that would make it nearly impossible for me to sleep, between making snacks and breaking up fights and repeatedly asking that the television volume be turned down. I was confused. But maybe that was just the extreme fatigue, coupled with a debilitating hangover. More on THAT later.

So he left, and I tried to sleep, but that went about as well as I expected, which is to say not well AT ALL. Not well at all.

Which is why tonight, after The Most Boring Shift Ever, I'm simultaneously exhausted and wired from being So Damn Tired for so long. I am on this crazy second wind (third wind? Fourth?) that has left me feeling sort of twitchy and cold. All I want to do is sleep, but my mind is racing and I drank a cup of coffee during work to keep myself awake and fuuuuuuuuck I am miserable. And twitchy. Did I mention twitchy?

Friday, March 12, 2010

I just wanted some peace and quiet.

Note: This post was scheduled to publish later, and instead it published right away, and ended up in people's feeds. As we all know from my last post, I have no idea what I am doing, even with Blogger, which was designed for people who don't know what the hell they're doing. And yet, it still confounds me. I have no idea why it published, and no way to fix it, so I pulled the post till I could put it up manually.....LATER. But of course, THIS post is the one post that all of the sudden everyone loved and wanted to comment on. WTF?

So, back by popular demand -

Yeah, I should have been mopping the floors. Absolutely. It's been raining for weeks, the floors are filthy, and I should be cleaning them now that the kids are in bed. I know that, and yet.....I just wanted some peace and quiet. And some ice cream. I like ice cream with my peace and my quiet.

Don't judge me.

The kids were finally asleep. I had a documentary cued up on Netflix. I went to the kitchen for ice cream. Spoon, bowl, cookies and was all coming together. I dig into the carton, get a nice big scoop and oooooh look how many pieces of cookies are in that one ! "Good job" I think to myself. "That is a lovely scoop of ice cream, if I do say so myself." And right about then - right at that moment when I was admiring my lovely scoop of ice cream, it came loose from the ice cream in the carton and went flying. Onto the filthy dirty floor.


So I bend over, of course, and pick up that scoop of ice cream, and throw it in my bowl and stare at the hair that is now stuck to the side of this formerly epic scoop of deliciousness.

It will still be delicious. I just need to remove that hair. Oh, and the mud. There seems to be some mud, there, On the side. Where it hit the filthy dirty floor. Ah well, a little dirt won't hurt me.

"What are you doing Mama?"

Shit. Small voice. Little people are coming out of their rooms and I can see my dreams of a quiet night with a documentary melting right along with my hairy, muddy scoop of ice cream.

She comes around the corner and steps squarely into the small puddle of ice cream there. From where my formerly perfect scoop of ice cream landed when I threw it on the filthy dirty floor by accident.

"Oh, I stepped in something."

Shit. Fuck. This is not going well.

"What are you eating, Mama? Is that ice cream? MY ice cream? Why are you eating MY ice cream that I picked out? You picked out ice cream for you, and I picked out ice cream for me, and you are eating MY ice cream. Why aren't you eating YOUR ice cream?"

Because I ate that ice cream last night, I thnk to myself. But I don't say it. I do the natural thing. The only thing I could do.

"Daddy ate all my ice cream, honey."

So we clean up the floor and change pajamas, and use the potty one more time and I promise to buy her more ice cream and then she climbs back in bed and I return to my bowl of what used to be the most perfect scoop of ice cream in the whole world and is now just a puddle of melted ice cream, with some hair and mud swirled in it.

Netflix is frozen, my internet explorer has stopped working, I have to restart the computer and now I am wishing I had just eaten a cookie and mopped the god damned floor like I had originally planned.

Instead, I eat the entire can of whipped cream - sprayed directly into my mouth - and pass out on the bed with the New York Times magazine. Because all I really wanted was a little peace and quiet.

Batting a Thousand

A thousand seems like a lot.
Today, for the first time, I had 1000 hits. No, not in one day, that would be AWESOME but, uh, no. 1023 hits in a 30 days period. What the hell does that mean? I have no idea. It seems like it's not that much, actually. Considering the size of the internet and all. I mean, some people set up a blog, write for 30 days, and suddenly they're on fucking a panel at BlogHer and winning awards and selling t-shirts and writing a magazine column, And then a few years into blogging (like I am now) they have a deal with a publisher, a book tour, and they're being interviewed on GMA.

Clearly, you don't have to worry about that happening HERE. I have no idea what I am doing.

BUT I'm having fun. And isn't that what REALLY MATTERS?

Yeah, I didn't think so. But, you know, let me have my dreams, wouldja?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Whole Foods, I wish I could quit you

"Hey kids, let's go grab some dinner at Whole Foods! It'll be quick!"

I am a total idiot.

That place is the biggest time suck. It's the Bermuda fucking Triangle of grocery stores. You walk in there and come stumbling out an hour later - your money is gone, you are carrying brand new reusable shopping bags (that you did NOT need but just purchased because they were pretty and you left yours in the trunk) filled with food that you also did NOT need and forks made out of dried potato starch or some shit, and you're all disoriented and wondering what the hell just happened.

Tonight, we went in for some take out and spent the rest of the night in there. I swear to god. We went in, we ordered pizza, we waited for it to be done, we paid, we ate, we wanted more (repeat) and then, of course, we had to check out the bathroom. And then we ran into people that we know. And more people we know. And then it started raining.

New rule: From now on, if I have plans to do ANYTHING ELSE with the rest of my day, I cannot go in that store. Period. I am not strong enough. I have no will. Turns out, if you wave artisan cheese and fresh baked bread and lamb shanks in my general direction, I will follow you to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don't let that door hit you on the way out

It was a quiet, rainy night. Windy and dark and damp and the perfect evening to spend curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea.

At least, that's what I would imagine. I wouldn't know. I was at work.
God knows no one else was there, though. We had live music and a fun crew working, so it was OK that it was slow - gave us more time to work on small projects, do some side work, and get out of there nice and early in order to rush home and put on some sweatpants.

The kitchen closed at 8pm. The band wrapped it up, the customers went home, and we were cleaning up and getting ready to hit the road. On quiet nights, we try to get out early, to keep the payroll under control. We're thoughtful like that. So when a small group of people - who may or may not have already been intoxicated - wandered in, we were halfway through our sidework, with one foot out the door.

"Can we come in and have a drink?" one of the group asked from the door way, noting that there was someone (a band member) sitting at the bar.

"Hey there." I greeted them with a smile. "Sorry, we're just cleaning up to go."


"Yeah, we're almost out of here."

"Oh." There was a flurry of movement, a few more people had come in from the foyer, and they were looking at me suspiciously. I smiled, and went back to resetting the table.

On a quiet night, you would think we would be happy for the business. But three people who want to come in and have a beer will not cover the cost of the electricity and the 3 staff that would be required to stay open and wait for them to finish their drinks. So, yeah. No. Sorry.

They weren't going quiet into that goodnight.

"REALLY?" asked another of the threesome. "We can't just come in and have a drink?"

"We're done for the night." I was friendly but firm. No late night drinkers in an empty bar for me, thanks. Been there, done that.

They glared with eyes, all the while smiling these tight fake smiles. They were not pleased.

As they turned to go, one stayed behind."Thanks for your hospitality!" she said sarcastically.

"Good Night" I said with a smile.

And as the door swung shut behind them I muttered to myself, darkly.
"Fuck you very much!" someone called out from across the room.
"BuhBYE" chimed in another.
And for the rest of the evening, which really only lasted for another 15 minutes, we traded barbs. "Hey, thanks for your hospitality!" "I'll show you some hospitality." "Yeah, that's what your mom said last night."

Closing time. It's not for the faint of heart.

Making excuses

as·pi·ra·tion  [as-puh-rey-shuhn]

1.strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition: intellectual aspirations.
2.a goal or objective desired: The presidency is the traditional aspiration of young American boys.

as·pi·rate  [as-puh-reyt]
to inhale (fluid or a foreign body) into the bronchi and lungs, often after vomiting.

"So....what do you do?" I wish I had a better answer for that question. I should just say "I'm a waitress" and move on. And I do, sometimes. But not often.

We've been over this before, here. I do a lot of things. I cobble together a life with various part-time gigs, a healthy dose of parenting, and some quality time with my husband. It's a pretty nice situation we have out here in paradise. Is it what I imagined for myself? No. Am I satisfied? Well......

Listen. I love my family. We are healthy, and have health insurance. We have a home. I have a job. My husband has a job. We have two reliable cars. We live in a beautiful place - even if it has been raining for 2 weeks straight and blowing like a Nor'easter. So I have no right to complain. BUT. This is not how I imagined things. I thought I would have it more together by now. I thought I had plenty of time to
"Make Something of Myself" and to "Reach My Full Potential".

And I haven't done that. All the goings on lately have reminded me....I need to get on that. Time's a wastin'. I'm not getting any younger. I can't keep putting off my dreams and hopes and goals and aspirations. Or I'll choke on them. After vomiting. (According to the dictionary.)

Are you living the dream? Have you achieved all of your goals? No??? Are you worried about that? Or do I need to just come to terms with my life as it is, and stop waiting for something more? It's not like it's so bad, my life......I mean, really now. I have nothing to complain about, no reason not to enjoy it as it is.

Which is good. "It" is good. When the fuck am I going to be satisfied?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another sign that I am a grown up, and another reason to wish I was a kid again

Someone died. Someone I knew very casually, many years ago. But it is another death.

This has happened with ever-increasing frequency. It started randomly......a kid in grade school who lost his brothers in a train crash. A kid who's dad had cancer. A friend who lost a child. Illness, accident, overdose, suicide. On and On and On. The list of the lost is getting longer, the deaths seem to be more abrupt. No time to say goodbye. Just a post on Facebook with funeral details, or an email, or a voicemail, or just stumbling upon the obituary and realizing that the name, the face in that photograph, is one you know. One you knew. All of these losses seem so......senseless. So tragic and terrible and heartbreaking and fucking UNFAIR. So unfair.
For the most part, so far, it has been my friends' parents. I couldn't understand it, when it started happening. Couldn't get my head around it. Parents, people my parents' age, are dying. How could this be happening? And then, I did a little math and realized......I am almost the same age as my mother was, when her mother - my beloved grandmother - passed away.

And that freaked me the fuck out.

I just do not know how to deal with death, I guess. The permanence of it. The fear of it. I don't want to live my life in fear of death. But I do, I guess. I don't feel the fear all the time, I don't carry it around with me, it does not color all of my decisions or anything......but it rears it's ugly dark head when someone loses a loved one.

And as I get older, and my friends and my parent's friends and my friend's parents get older, this is going to happen more often. The natural progression of things, I suppose. Doesn't make it right. Does it make it easier? I can't tell yet - but it doesn't feel easier. It just feels scary. Like people are just......disappearing. Mortality is becoming a very real concept, and the ignorance (and bliss) of youth is slowly fading away. Every obituary is bringing me a day closer to my own last day.

So, what to do. Live each day as if it was my last? A lovely concept, but simply not realistic. I have kids to raise, bills to pay. I can appreciate each day, of course, and make sure that I let people know how much they mean to me, how much I appreciate them - and I try to do that. I really do. But is it enough? Can anything really be enough?

I am at a loss. I cannot make sense of it, cannot find the words to comfort the bereaved, because really......what is going to make it better? What is going to make it OK? I am heartsick for the friends, neighbors, family, acquaintances who are struggling to come to terms with an abrupt end of a life that was an integral part of their own. I wish I had some clever insight, a way to lift the mood or leave you with an anecdote that would put a smile on your face. It hurts me to know that someone who is grieving might read these words, because there is no comfort here. I am scared of death. There. At least there is that. I said it. I am not ready to go. I am not ready to say goodbye. And if I have to go before I am ready, I can only hope that someone will be able to give my children some comfort - someone with a better handle on this then myself.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I woke up in a parallel universe, and I like this one better

This morning, I heard some hushed whispering from the kitchen. No urgent or threatening tones, so I took my time getting out of bed. IF they needed me, trust me - they would have been standing rightnext to my head prodding me and pointing at each other and layering one report of misconduct on top of another.

Eventually, I dragged myself out of bed. As I wandered into the kitchen tying my bathrobe shut and rubbing my eyes, I stopped and backed up a few steps. Lucy was standing on the toilet, brushing her teeth.

"Honey, did you already eat breakfast?"
"Yep" she said as she squirted the mandated pea-size dallop of toothpaste onto her brush. "Max made me some cereal."

I continued on to the kitchen, where Max was busily wiping off the kitchen counter.
"Good morning Mom ! I made Lucy and me each some oatmeal, and our lunches are already packed...I made peanut butter and jelly - I got frustrated because I couldn't find the jelly at first, but then I found it and I made the sandwiches and then I also packed some strawberries."

Wait. WHAT? I looked around the kitchen. The dishes were in the sink - rinsed. The canister of oatmeal was put away. The living room was still relatively clean.

"Wow Max, that is AWESOME. Thanks man !"

"No problem it was easy, and I wanted to let you sleep."

So this is where I shook my head back and forth to clear the cobwebs because obviously SOMETHING had transpired in the last 12 hours. When my child went to bed last night, he had to be reminded to use the bathroom and brush his teeth. The entire area of the kitchen where he had eaten dinner was littered with crumbs, scraps of meat, napkins and a puddle of milk. His dirty clothes had somehow been left in the middle of the hallway. Snips of paper from an abandoned art project were scattered across the coffee table and floor. He had been unable to get himself a glass of water and had requested refills and dessert be served to him, with an attitude that was more "patron of a Zagat-rated restaurant" rather then "kid eating beef kabobs at our kitchen counter."

And yet this morning, somehow, he prepared breakfast for two using the microwave, and then cleaned up after himself. He got dressed in something that was both appropriate and clean, and had sent his sister to use the bathroom while he picked out an outfit for her to wear as well. The dogs were fed, and lunches were packed complete with napkins and ice packs, fruit in small tupperwares, water bottles filled.

I am sitting on the couch right now, wondering what he's got planned for dinner. I have no idea what's going on, but if this is my new reality I will officially declare myself a successful parent and start writing a parenting book tomorrow. However, I remain highly suspicious - because really, the boy has thus far been incapable of remembering to flush the toilet after taking a dump. So until THAT happens, the jury is out.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I don't care where you are from. If you don't know how to tip, don't eat out.

Folks, you can look at this as a Public Service Announcement, or a rant. I don't really give a shit. But it has to be said.

In the United States, when you eat in a restaurant, you tip.

Tipping is a sensitive subject, but it's a fact of life, and rather then sit around whining about how "you shouldn't have to pay a tip on top of the actual price" or "they did nothing to deserve it" you should just shut up and tip. Period.

There used to be exceptions. You didn't tip the owner of the business, or you didn't have to tip for take out. But now, you do. Yes, you do. Yes, even you. Yes, even if it's only for that. Yes, even her. You have to tip.

Let's recap the weekend, and we can discuss when tipping should have taken place.

Friday, I had a guy sit at the bar. He wanted a beer. He wanted the glass frosted. He wanted a lime. He had to put it on a credit card. So I had to spend about 10 minutes frosting, pouring, setting up, totaling the tab on the computer, running the credit card, cleaning up after him, and then the paper work involved in having a credit card sale. He did not tip me at all. Just left the "tip" line on the credit card receipt blank. I, however, had to tip the staff who brought the ice used to frost the glass, cut the lime, and washed the dishes. A good rule of thumb at a bar is $1 tip for every drink. Deal with it.

I also had customers who wanted to buy pastries. GREAT ! I love it when people buy our beautiful freshly baked pastries. Luckily we had folded up extra cardboard cake boxes, and I arranged all of the pastries in there. Awww. So pretty. I spent probably 10-15 minutes helping them choose, explaining the fillings, getting everything packed up, ringing it up, running into the back to get change for his $100 bill, etc. I had several tables that waited patiently for their drinks while I helped these customers. The people at the tables, of course, were going to tip me (at least, let's hope they were planning to  - more on that later). The man who wanted all of that one on one "me time" for his pastry selection? Didn't tip. No tip at all.

I had a table of 5 people. English was not their first language. They sat at the bar, moved to a table, then decided they didn't like THAT table and moved to another table. They ordered round after round of drinks - one drink at a time. so I had to go back and forth to the table over a dozen times, just for drinks. And then they ordered sushi. One roll at a time. 8 rolls altogether. And then they wanted desserts. Which involves fetching a tray, bringing it to the table, describing each dessert, taking the tray back, plating the desserts with pretty decorations of powdered sugar and colorful syrups, and bringing the desserts with fresh silverware to the table. If I had a question, they would ignore me, and leave me standing there for several minutes while they finished up their discussion. But if I walked away, they would grab whoever was walking by, and ask THEM to go get them something, rather then waiting for me to return, or signaling me for assistance. So not only did MY other customers have to wait while I helped these bozos, but also OTHER servers had to take time to help them, or find me to pass along their latest request. The tab was over $200. They left me $10. That's 5%. For 2 hours of almost non-stop hustling. And they were the last people out of the restaurant, so we all had to sit around and wait for them to decide they were done.

So to recap. If someone helps you by making you a drink, or putting together a to-go order, they have devoted time to YOU, and you should tip them. Yes you should. For take out, that server has spent time on YOU and YOUR ORDER. So say thank you in the universal language of love. (Which is money.) This is why when the guy at KMart carried my TV out to the car for me and put it in the trunk, I gave him $5. Because he didn't have to. Because he made me a priority. Because he HELPED ME.

Times when it is OK to skip the tip? Well, here's the thing. You should always tip. You don't want to be THAT GUY. Very few times will people refuse a tip. It makes them feel good, both about YOU, and about themselves and the service they provide. You will get better service when you come back. It's good karma. YOU will feel good about it. It doesn't have to be a huge tip, but in a restaurant, 15% is seriously the MINIMUM. Feel free to use the calculator on your phone to figure it out if you are mathmatically challenged. Or you can do the math on the receipt - we don't mind at all. If you have experienced horrible service, and you have expressed your disappointment to the server, and the server has not tried to make amends, well.......I understand not wanting to leave a tip. I do.

But trust me when I tell you that everyone will know you didn't tip. Every staff member, every manager, and probably half the people within earshot of the waitstation will know you didn't tip. They won't know WHY you didn't tip, but boy oh boy, they'll know you didn't. And when you leave a crappy tip - like you just didn't feel like tipping the correct amount, and figured something was better then nothing....well, it's not. It's worse. It's infuriating and insulting. And it makes servers want to hand you back your handful of pennies and say "Keep this, you must need it more then I do." Which is why, Table 12, everyone in the bar after you left knows what a total asshole I think you are. And they all agree with me. Because you made a poor impression from start to (very belated and drawn-out) finish.

Regardless of that, I will be happy to wait on you, again and again. Because I work hard, and I love my job, and I am proud of the service I provide. I know what I am worth. If you had left your credit card behind, I would have run after you with it, for several blocks, even. My quality of service will not waver. Maybe you should work on your role as a customer, though. It could use some adjusting. About 15% should do nicely.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I still got the Nasty in Me

In order to properly appreciate this post, you will need the right music. You're welcome.

Last night yours truly went out and made a night of it. It was Dede's birthday, and a celebration of the first order had been planned. We started in a hotel room full of half naked women swapping fishnets and hairspray, drinking a bottle of tequila (I think) and ended with a huge security woman talking into her sleeve as we walked from bar to bar in "The Triangle":
"I've got your group here" she said, sizing us up as we strutted by in stilettos and dresses that - by design - barely covered our asses and left nothing to the imagination. Keep in mind that most of us are married adults, with children. But not last night, oh no. Husbands and children were not part of the equation. Neither was underwear, and bras were a non-option for about 50% of the outfits we were parading around in.

So we glared at her, ignored all of the 5 foot tall Men in Hoodies that were standing around hiking up their pants and adjusting their carefully positioned "Hustler" baseball caps, and continued on our slow and deliberate way towards the thumping music spilling out into the alley. With our hair appropriately "bumped" our glitter applied liberally and our hair bows firmly in place, we were channeling our inner B-52.

With all of that to offer, you might be surprised to hear that the real spectacle came when we tried to drive anywhere. As the designated driver, I had brought the SUV, with it's 3 rows of seats. But even with all of that room, the 11 of us still had a challenge fitting into the car.

We managed, mind you. But there was some confusion, a lot of ass grabbing, and then someone said "Shit, you made me spill champagne all over myself."

So it turns out, not only was I driving 11 people in a 7 passenger vehicle - which made the seatbelts (with their damned pointy buckles) more of a nuisance then a safety feature - I also had an open container in there....somewhere. I would have challenged any cop to try to find it though. These girls are wily. They have had years of practice, and can smuggle anything from a contraband sippy cup to a 4 year old who hasn't paid admission. Stashing a bottle of champagne was no big deal for this crew. But safety first, I always say. When we drove from bar to bar, I was extremely cautious. MY seatbelt was buckled, we drove on the local road with a 20 MPH speed limit, and everyone had to keep all body parts INSIDE THE VEHICLE, keeping in mind that the closest emergency exit may be behind them. When we pulled into a parking spot, the exit involved careful, strategic planning. You cannot just throw open a door with 3 half naked girls in your lap, and expect everyone to climb out safely. Here's how it would go:

I would pull into a spot.
Someone would immediately try to climb out the tailgate window, and I would yell at them (while rolling up the window from the button on the dashboard) to not draw attention to the highly illegal number of passengers in my car. The person climbing out the rear window (I'm looking at you, Bakey) would have the rear window rolled up into her crotch while she stradded the tailgate. I would roll the window back down, and she would climb/fall out of the back of the car losing at least one stilletto and probably dumping the contents of her purse on the ground (though that might have been someone else) BUT NOT SPILLING HER BEER THANKYOUVERYMUCH while I threatened everyone else to STAY SEATED and REMAIN CALM.

I had to remind them to remain calm because they were panicking. They were panicking because the rear doors have child locks, and cannot be opened from the inside.

Ha HAH !

So with the tailgate closed and Bakey pulling her bathing suit out of her crotch and rearranging her sheer gold dress and polishing off that beer, I would walk around the car opening doors and keeping people from falling out backwards onto their asses in the middle of the parking lot. Each girl would grab the front of her skirt, hold it down to cover her business, scootch over to the edge of the seat and then carefully climb out, with one arm across her chest to keep her tits in. After I was sure everyone was out of the car, we'd do a quick head count and then saunter towards the nearest purveyor of alcoholic beverages.

The entire operation was reversed when we decided to change locations. But when relocating, the head count is two fold - you had to be able to REMEMBER how many girls you were supposed to have, then try to count them as they were hopping all over the place straightening stockings and adjusting their boobs and handing out gum. At one point, I kept insisting that we STAY and WAIT because one of the girls was in the bathroom. The entire group left the bar while I protested and tried to finish her drink. I hate waste.

Once out of the bar, they all started trooping back towards the car, while I sort of jumped up in the air every few steps and said "But Wait !" "Um, I think we are missing someone!" "Isn't there someone in the bathroom?" Until she finally came marching around the corner and I pointed and said triumphantly "SEE ! There she is ! I TOLD you we were missing someone." And as they all laughed about how they would have left her behind, I assured them that my role as designated driver also included making sure NO ONE was left behind.

Eventually, however, I had to leave them ALL behind. They were dead set on closing down the final bar of the evening, and I still had an hour of driving left ahead of me, so by 1:30 I was in my car - this time followed closely by 2 cops and several security guards, making sure I was not planning on re-loading a dozen people into my car because they were having NONE OF THAT.

Sometime around 2:30am, I made it home. I put the carseat back in the car, pulled out the random pair of fishnets and an empty bottle stashed under the back seat, gathered up my glitter and lipliner, and headed inside through the rain. I took down the hair bump, kicked the stilettos under the bed, peeled off the stockings, washed my face and climbed into bed with my husband. No matter how much fun it is to be out with the girls, my favorite place is always going to be home with that guy.

Happy Birthday Dede - let's do that again sometime ;)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I filled out that STUPID census form....but I was bitter and resentful about it.

The dogs set up a howl on the back deck. I went to investigate, and there was a woman standing on the steps. She was from the census bureau. I took the form, brought it inside, and filled it out right away. At least, I filled out half of it.

Then I got to the kids information.

And the form asked if Max was my biological child....or adopted. So I checked biological, with a growing dread in my heart. Because next, next would be Lucy. And I would have to check a different box for her.

It's not an issue with her being adopted. It's not a secret. I could not be more thrilled that I am her mother. But I do not want her to ever EVER be singled out. Ever. Not ever. Never ever. I think you get the picture.

I do not understand why it matters ONE BIT how my child came to be my child. My legal child. I understand why you have to differentiate between foster children and biological children.....but not between biological and adopted. Because in my heart, there is no difference. It's not denial, it's fact.

These are both my children. In fact, we forget on a regular basis that there is any difference at all in how they came to be our children. Except that THANK GOD I wasn't miserably pregnant. We remember that. Oh boy, do we remember that.

But the simple fact is that no one should ever get all Sophie's Choice about my kids. I cannot discern, I cannot choose, I cannot differentiate. They are both my babies, my beloved adored babies.

So suck it US Census. I answered your questions, but I didn't like them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I cannot comprehend reading comprehension, and so I curse liberally. Note: This post will not make any sense

I can see it so clearly now. Reading comprehension homework, with it's damned essay questions and complex thinking and analysis, is going to be a thorn in my side, that my son repeatedly jabs into me.

Over and over again.

This? This is awful. This is the worst part of homeschooling. I can handle anything BUT this. The tears and the frustration and the sheer rage that comes shrieking out of my kid when he has to read something and then ANSWER SOME FUCKING QUESTIONS. You would think I was asking him to write his DOCTORAL THESIS.

You have to understand, I love to read. And write, And write about things I read. And answer questions. Oh, I love answering questions. Tests. Memes. Quizzes. Even some dumbass phone survey. I will sit and patiently answer Every Single Question. I can even, when asked, avoid using profanity. I like a challenge.

Now, to be fair, my son is happy to answer (verbally) any question you might pose to him.......or rather, he might not actually answer the question, but he'll talk at length in response to any question asked.

But damned if he is going to pick up a pen and write that answer down. Or write anything down, for that matter. And he certainly is not interested in grammar and punctuation. Spelling? Also not important.

So in order to save my sanity, I am going to just ask him the questions, and try to get some sort of clear answer out of him. Something that actually relates to the question, and comes in the ballpark of answering it. And if I can get him to write any of it down, I will consider myself worthy of a Pulitzer. Don't worry, I'll make sure to thank him in my acceptance speech.

"This would not have been possible without the assistance of the most Obstinate, Bullheaded, Selectively Deaf, Argumentative Son that there ever has been and ever will be. If he had not pushed me so close to the edge, if he had not driven me to distraction, had he not been forced to find a way to summarize a 100 word essay using 10 words that were simultaneously lacking in punctuation of any kind and spelled phonetically, so as to be completely unintelligible, then I would not be standing before you today. I would also not have this bald patch over my right ear, and the twitch in my left eye. Huzzah !" And then I would pick up my bottle of Jameson and wander off into the sunset - bottle in one hand, Pulitzer in the other.

A beautiful sight to behold, I'm sure. Unlike this fucking reading comprehension worksheet, which is NEVER GOING TO BE COMPLETED. GAH !

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In which I am incredibly thankful that I decided to pull the rug out of the living room before I went to bed

Last night, we stayed up late, moving the living room rug to our bedroom. The weather has been so cold that bare floors are just not an option anymore, so we decided to get a new rug for the living room, and use the current living room rug in our room to try to keep it slightly warmer then the outdoor temperature. Not much, just something. Just a nod to the fact that we actually had walls and floors and windows and a roof and all of that good stuff. Things that really should keep the room vaguely warmer then, say, the driveway. It seemed to do the trick. So after getting the rug moved, and furntiure repositioned in our room, we decided to leave the living room dismantled until we brought home a new rug the next day. Exhausted, we collapsed into bed, in our new slightly warmer bedroom. It was thrilling.

At about 3:30 we heard "the voice"

The little voice, from the side of the bed. Quavering. "Daddy? Mama?" (sob, cough cough gag) "My froat hurts."

Oh dear.

We both got out of bed, and went running in different directions. One to examine the sore throat, one in search of Motrin. Parenting is never more of a team sport then during a middle-of-the-night illness.

With Motrin found and throat examined, Lucy snuggled up on the sofa and watched "Suite Life on Deck" (which led to some significant gagging - on my part.) About an hour later, she sat up. "Mama, I have to go to the bathroom, can you pause the movie?" As I leaned forward to hit the pause button, I heard a cough and a splash. And suddenly my right foot was warm. And it dawned on me - more slowly then it should have - that Lucy was standing there throwing up. No warning, no hesitation, no run for the bathroom. She calmly stood up, opened her mouth, and let 'er rip.

I grabbed the quilt and held it under her chin, murmering soothing things to her like "It's OK." and "My goodness sweetie!" and, after a few minutes, "Sam. Hey, SAM! SAMI I NEED YOU NOW." Poor Sami came staggering out of the bedroom trying to hold his robe closed, and got a good idea of what was going on. He headed for the kitchen trashcan, and in the rush to get it, he slid, sideways, skidding on one hip across the wood floor until he came to a stop lying on his side, with his head under a barstool, still clutching his robe around himself.

Lucy did not pause, did not look up from the Job At Hand, which was, apparently, to empty the contents of her stomach onto my floor.

I held the quilt steady and glanced up. "What the hell are you doing" I snapped, as though he was trying out some new choreography. "Would you get up and stop fucking around?"

"I SLIPPED" Sami protested, as he scrambled to his feet and made another attempt to get to the trashcan.

He raced towards us, holding the can out in front of him like he was passing off a baton in a relay race. I traded him one wadded up quilt, and smoothly switched to holding the bin in front of Lucy, who was still totally calm, and totally puking.

He headed for the bathroom to dump the quilt in the shower. I followed with Lucy, who had stopped hurling and was now full of wonder at the turn of events.

"I got puke on my jammies." she announced.

"Sure did!" I replied cheerfully.

"My tummy feels MUCH better now."

"I am so glad sweetheart. Let's get those jammies off, OK?"

So we took off the jammies and washed hands and Sami found clean jammies and while she finished washng up Sami and I started spraying every surface in the house with Lysol. Because clearly, Lysol was in order.

As we wiped and scrubbed and sprayed and rinsed, Lucy slowly got dressed, and waited patiently for the all clear. I dried the floor and got the movie going again. I brought a clean blanket. Sami got back in bed. I lay down on the couch in the now-freezing living room with a cold (oh so cold) wooden floor.

At 8am, I woke up and surveyed the scene. Lucy, still awake, now joined by Max. The laptop battery had run out, so they were both just sitting there quietly, Lucy giving Max the blow by blow recap of the evening's excitement. I called the doctor and we headed to town, got her checked out complete with chest x-ray and stickers for being a good patient. We bought a new rug to put down in the living room and returned home in the rain. I am going to go grab a nap now, though I must admit I am still wary of hearing a meek voice and a muffled cough in the distance, through my sleepy haze. But god knows I am not letting her into bed with me, man. I have fallen for that one before. Besides, I have a new rug in there.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Taking to my bed

I have, more then once in the past week thankyouverymuch, taken to my bed. First, it was because I was exhausted from a long and tense night at work. That was followed by a draining series of emails and conversations with my son's teachers and various friends and family. Then, of course, there was the great tsunami of 2010 which came hot on the heels of a late night at work. And now, it's 59 degrees outside, and 61 degrees INSIDE my home on a blustery, rainy day here in Hawaii. Yes Hawaii. Yes 59 degrees.


So I am taking to my bed yet again - not just to keep my feet from burning with cold, but to try to catch a quick nap, something I always feel like I need when I am cold and tired.

As an added bonus, today I had an appointment with the nurse practitioner at my Gynocologist's office. My Obstetrician/Gynocologist. What that means is I just had to spend an hour surrounded by women in various stages of pregnancy, and recovery from their pregnancy, and their cute little babies.


Terrible Stuff.

You know how pediatrician's offices schedule well-child visits first thing in the morning, before all the sick kids start showing up? They should do that with the OB/GYN office too. If you are there for strictly gynecological reasons - especially due to some sort of traumatic or untimely event - you should have a special time set aside, where you can go to these visits without the attendant emotional angst that leaves you wanting to wrap yourself up in exam table paper, and rock back and forth in the stirrups - which was how the Nurse Practitioner found me today.

I guess I'm STILL not quite over the hysterectomy, folks.

Sorry about that. I'm getting there. I mean, I CANCELLED my appointment altogether last year, so this is progress ! And the visit itself went fine, only one person asked me when my last period was (gosh, the answer "2005" just never fails to get a shocked look !), I got poked and prodded and felt up like a teenager in the backseat of a Subaru (not that I would know anything about THAT.) Everything checked out just fine, and after a brief conversation about extra calcium and bone scans, I was on my way. Back through the dreaded waiting room (avoid all eye contact. AVOID IT.) Down the stairs, out the door, hightail it to the safety of Henny the MiniCooper - a car I would never be able to own if I was even possibly fertile, because there is just no way to get an infant seat in there and still fit behind the steering wheel.

I drove off unemcumbered by diaper bags or bottles or screeching sobs from the backseat. I listened to NPR. I ran a few quick errands, and I headed home. To bed. To count my blessings, warm my tootsies, and take a nap I wouldn't have been able to take if I had a new baby in the house.

And I am almost able to accept my menopausal, post-hysterectomy, crone-y self. Almost.