Thursday, December 30, 2010

I said I wouldn't........and then I did

That pretty much sums up 2010. I made all sorts of grand statements and then waffled.

I just couldn't be more proud. (cue sarcasm)

I am clearly the one with the problem. I get that. If something is making me uncomfortable or scared or sad.....if something could be better.....if I could be's my responsibility to make it so.

I always have said "it doesn't matter if YOU think it's fine - if someone else is upset by it, you should respect that." And I still believe that this is essentially true- in life, in relationships, at work and at home. You shouldn't spend so much time trying to convince someone that what they feel is wrong. Or that you are right. You need to find a way to co-exist.

Except, I cannot co-exist. I cannot exist like this. I am awake at night worrying about my next shift at work. I am nauseous. I am exhausted and jumpy and edgy and anxious.

 I am scared.

My boss and co-workers, even my husband doesn't seem to think anything of my working late at night at the bar. Even though I said no. Even though I said I didn't want to anymore. I am back on the late night schedule this week. I guess I am supposed to be over it. I am overreacting. Being dramatic. Being difficult.

And I can accept that. But I don't have to change it. I'm just going to own it. Whether you think I am right or wrong or a big huge gigantic hairy pussy.
If something is making me uncomfortable, I don't have to do it anymore.
I don't.
And I said I wouldn't.
So I won't.
At least, I hope I won't.
Because I can't. I can't be afraid to go to work. Afraid to say no.
So I won't say no. I'll just say "no more".

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Santa is a slacker and other revelations

At 10am on Christmas morning, Lucy and I got in the car. As we drove to the beach, she looked out the window, and reminisced about her Christmas.

"Mom? You know what I don't like about Santa Claus?"

Really. She's FIVE. What is there not to like about Santa Claus, on Christmas morning?

But she continued: "I didn't really.....well......he didn't wrap my present. So it wasn't much of a surprise."

I sat in silence.

Santa had brought her a gorgeous wooden dollhouse, filled with furniture and dolls and acessories - everything you could imagine, right down to a teeny, tiny box of tissues with real Kleenex inside. It even had a roadside farm stand and a swingset and picnic table out front, all carefully laid out - by Santa, of course, right after he got done working the dinner shift at the cafe.

"Lucy, it would have been really hard to wrap that - it's pretty big! I was surprised that it fit on the sleigh!"

"Yeah, just would have been nicer if I could have had to guess what was inside, and then rip the paper off. It's just more of a surprise that way."

Now, Santa was pissed.

"Did you know you were getting a dollhouse for Chrsitmas, Lucy?"
"Well, no...."
"No. Just.......No. No way. You got an amazing gift, and there is no way that could have been wrapped and I cannot BELIEVE you are complaining about this."

"Yeah, you're right." she said cheerfully. Because she is like that. The girl can turn on a dime.

A few minutes passed in silence. And then, from the backseat, her voice rang out clear as a bell.
"Mom? How long until my birthday?"
"Your what?!"
"My birthday. I can't wait for my birthday. What can we do for my party? I want to ride horses, can we ride horses?"
"And can I bring all of my friends? Can we ALL ride horses?"
"What?! Lucy, I cannot talk about your birthday today, it is still Christmas. Christmas MORNING. Your birthday is in April. We will talk about your birthday this spring. If you still want to go on a horseback ride in April, I will take you."
"Okay!" she answered cheerily.
Another few minutes passed.

"Yes, Lucy?"
"When's Halloween? I can't wait for Halloween. I just love Halloween. It's my favorite holiday and I can't decide what I am going to be fo-"
"Stop. Please stop. Let's not talk about any other holidays until we get through this one, okay? Please?"

"Okay momma!" She sat, pensive. I could see the little wheels turing in her head. WHY didn't I bring her new coloring book. CURSES. Here it comes, I can see her winding up, and......
"Hey mom, when are we going to go on an airplane again? I just love going on vacation."

Just Shoot Me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Laundry Impasse

"Mooooommmmm!" Lucy came out of her room, holding up a pair of Max's boxer briefs. "These? Are NOT mine."

"Yes, honey, I can see that."

"WHY are they in my room?"


She flung them through the door to Max's room. "MAX! These are yours." She was pissed. I have no idea why. I don't mind finding other people's laundry in my room - but damned if I'll spend 20 minutes looking for a specific shirt, only to find it in my son's pajama drawer.

So the era of one person dealing with putting away all of our laundry is over. OVER. Sam tried it for a while, mostly because he was the only one who actually agreed to take on the chore. I didn't mind washing the clothes, but then they would lay around - for days - waiting to be put away. I think he mostly put the clean laundry away so that he could sit in his armchair, which is our usual clean clothes depository.

But no more. Our last conversation went something like this:

"Honey, why is my beach coverup hanging in the closet?"

"I didn't know it was a beach coverup."

"Um, okay. Why is LUCY'S beach coverup hanging in my closet."

"I didn't know it was Lucy's. Or a beach coverup."

"Oh. Okay." I said, as I rummaged around looking for the aforementioned shirt that had gone missing. "Honey, why is my sweater hanging up? Did you just hang up all the laundry in the closet? We have other places to put clothes. Like the drawers."

Max overheard our conversation and came out of his room with a pair of my jeans. "Looking for these?" he asked.

"No. I mean, yes, I was. But not at the moment, I gave up on those last week."

"Here ya go." he tossed them on my bed and went back to his room. I raised an eyebrow at Sam.

"What?! At least I put it away!"

"Well, that is true, and I am super grateful. Except that once you put it away, I can't find it again. It's making me crazy!"

"Making YOU crazy? Your clothing isn't even identifiable. Not only can I not tell whether these teeny tiny jean things are yours or Max's, I cannot figure out what article of clothing most of your stuff is, never mind where I am supposed to put it. They're skirts, they're shirts, they're skirts AND shirts, they got no sleeves, they got one sleeve - how the FUCK am I supposed to hang up something with one sleeve? Men's clothes are not complicated. There are no questions. You can tell - immediately - what it is. And you can tell my clothes are MINE."

"Okay, okay." I went back into the closet and pulled out another handful of clothing - 4 dresses and a shirt, all piled on one droopy wire hanger. Sami went down the hall to the kitchen, and then turned around. "I love you."

"What?" I yelled from deep in my closet.

"I LOVE YOU!" I could tell from his voice that he was smiling, content in the knowledge that he would never have to put away laundry again.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A pathetic attempt at "sexy talk". Because we're too sexy for talking.

We've been sick for a week now. For the first few nights, one of us would sleep on a sofa, sweating and shivering and clutching a box of tissues, so as not to disturb the other. But then we both got so sick that there just wasn't any point in shielding either of us from mouth breathing, coughing fits, and rampant nose blowing.

Last night, finally, there was some peace. I could lie down without gasping for air, and I was able to have conversations without coughing and blowing my nose. I came into our bedroom to find Sami in bed, reading.

He put down his book as I climbed into bed and fussed with my pillows and blanket. "I'm cold." I whined. "No one warmed up my side of the bed."

He leaned over and gave me a hug. "Come over to my side," he leered. "I'll warm you up."

Oh how sad. He must be feeling optimistic.
"No." I pouted. "Even my butt is cold."
He reached over and grabbed my ass. "Hm."
"See? It's cold."
He closed his eyes in concentration. "Well, it's cold on the outside."


****more silence****

He opened his eyes to find me leveling an icy stare that - dare I say it ? - was colder than my ass. The outside of it anyway.

"The outside?" I asked incredulously. "What other part of my ass would you need to concern yourself with?"

He closed his eyes again. "No other part." he backpedaled furiously. "That came out wrong. I meant the part that wasn't cov-"

But I was not letting it go. "So...what? Are you a proctologist now or something?"
"Uh, I'm going to stop talking."

"Talking? Jesus, I know you aren't a talker. God knows, I didn't marry you because you had smooth moves and said all the right things. But what the FUCK?" I was now laughing hysterically.

He opened his eyes and smiled, and then reached back over to hug me, hopeful that my horror had passed.
Oh my no. I rolled away, onto my back.

"You see what I'm doing here?" I was still giggling - but dead serious. "This is my version of the cock-block. I'm blocking access to my BUTT.  Just in case you decide you need to take it's temperature again."

"But, but I....."

He sighed and turned off the light. I blew my nose and shook my head.
Talking is so over-rated.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Counting Presents

Last night Sami and I sat up wrapping gifts.

It didn't take as long as I had thought - we only had a few. And I started to worry that we didn't have enough. I fell into the trap that pulls in so many - the trap that causes people to clog the aisles and circle the parking lots and ram other people with their shopping carts and whack small children in the heads with one of the 25 shopping bags they have slung over their arms as they race through the mall in a desperate attempt to buy "enough".

But here's the thing: if you can afford to buy all of that stuff, then chances are you already have enough.

So I counted the gifts. At first I was counting to make sure that it was fair - that the kids had gotten about the same amount. And it was fairly even. They each have 3 small -sized presents for their stockings, and one big joint gift to share, and then of course Santa will bring them each a present. And we also wrapped presents that had arrived in the mail from relatives, 2 for each child. And another joint gift. There are a few boxes under the tree as well, filled with more wrapped gifts from my family. But it is still nothing like the insanity I see depicted on TV, that I witness in town, that I hear other people describing.

And so, I worried. Gosh, people were talking and writing and complaining about how they had to do all of the wrapping - and our wrapping only took about 15 minutes. Total. And that includes getting everything back in the attic afterwards.

And then I started to project my worrying onto my kids. Which was so lame. While I was in the attic stashing the newly wrapped gifts and hoping the geckos didn't poop all over them in the next few days, I pulled out the kids' stockings, and left mine and Sam's in the box because we had decided not to exchange gifts this year. And I worried that the kids would worry that we weren't getting anything in our stockings. "Does Santa fill stockings?" I couldn't remember. "If I don't have a stocking, will they think Santa forgot? Or will they worry we couldn't afford gifts for each other?"
Because we could, you know. It's just that giving gifts just because it's Christmas doesn't seem genuine. We don't need a thing. We don't even have anything we particularly want. I know exactly what I *don't* want. I don't want my husband stressing about buying me a gift. I want us to lie around in our pajamas and watch the kids open their gifts and help them try on new clothes and bake cinnamon rolls and brew coffee and relax and maybe listen to some Christmas music. And then later, go to the beach and lie around in the warm sand stretching our legs and letting the sun wrap itself around us, warmer than any Snuggie, while the salt water dries on our skin and the kids build castles and play in the waves.

Living here in Hawaii is the greatest gift we could give each other. Sure, it's hard to be away from family during the holidays. And yes, our life would be easier in many ways if we had a lower cost of living. But I truly believe that growing up in Hawaii, with all of it's natural beauty and abundance, is a gift that we give our kids every single day.

Even on Christmas.
Even if it doesn't fit in a box, under the tree.
It still counts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

grab your flu med of choice and a bottle of wine, and assume the fetal position.

All I want for Christmas is a new inhaler and a fresh bottle of Xanax.

I have decamped to the couch these days because my husband is ill and I think we all know that men who are sick are much sicker then the rest of us. He is coughing and making gross noises and he's all sweaty and I, for one, am having none of it.
Plus I need to be close to the kids, who are also coughing and miserable. Lucy needs breathing treatments throughout the night, and Max needs to be woken up and reminded to pee - in his feverish exhaustion he sleeps like the dead and might not wake up of his own accord.

I'm not sick myself, per se - just exhausted from worrying and holiday weekend-ing and trying to balance my checkbook by counting on my fingers and hoping for the best. I drank too much, I smoked too much. I slept far, far too little.

(In related news, the rumors you heard are true - I switched to menthol cigarettes for the holidays:. Menthol = fucking FESTIVE.)

I mailed out the last package of gifts yesterday because at this point I'm just trying to get it there before the end of the year. Christmas cards should be mailed out sometime in January because I ditched Christmas cards and instead I am going to send out Happy New Year cards - because everyone celebrates the New Year (except me because - I know this will shock you - I am working) - with thank you notes stuffed inside. Because that is what I call efficienct and eco-friendly. I am just trying to reduce my carbon footprint, you see. Bonus: the fact that I have no family photo yet can be remedied next week when we don't look like death warmed over, and I can get 50 copies of the 4 of us looking aggrieved and/or stoned PER USUAL, and slap that baby in there too - then people can stop bitching about how I never send pictures because LOOK I JUST DID.

But I have to pace myself. The perfect moment cannot be forced, it must be captured like a butterfly stuck in one of those butterfly houses at the science museums that are all the rage these days, where little kids pretend that it's all magical and amazing but what they really want to do is grab that huge fucking butterfly over there and pull it's wings off.

So in the meantime, I am headed back to bed wearing nothing but a hand-crocheted scarf to keep my neck warm, and jingle bell panties from the roller girl party because IT'S CHRISTMAS DAMMIT and Santa Hats give me the creeps. I'll probably doze off clutching my inhaler and listening to "Morning Edition" on NPR, and sleep a dreamless sleep, and possibly wake up choking on a Sucrets. Wish you were here...........

Monday, December 20, 2010

Instead of buying something silly, give something useful

So here we are.
The week before Christmas.
Already burned out from endless parties, too much booze and togetherness, and broke from gift giving and the aforementioned heavy partying? I feel you.

Starting in mid-November, we get emails asking for suggestions for Christmas gifts. I am afraid that over the years I have become a bit of a curmudgeon about Christmas gifts - I feel like there is altogether too much pressure to spend a certain amount, to get it there on time, to make sure you don't forget anyone, and that everyone gets their fair share.

The thing is, we don't need anything. We don't really want anything. We are very content, and struggling just to make ends meet - so getting boxes of gifts, or gift cards to buy boxes of gifts seems like a waste. I don't want to send someone a gift card. I want to send someone something useful.

So over time, I have compiled a list of useful gifts that you could give to anyone. Loved ones, your brother's new girlfriend who you only met that one time, a teacher or co-worker or friend......really, these gifts can go the distance. And even someone who doesn't like gifts, or doesn't celebrate Christmas, can appreciate these gifts - and use them every day. These also make great wedding or baby shower gifts.

1. Annual gifts - How about a membership to Costco, Sam's Club, their gym, a local museum or arts center, etc. Where do they go regularly? We go to Costco once a week, ourselves. Membership is a great gift you could give someone every year. Another great annual gift? Magazine subscriptions. My aunt nailed this one and I was totally stoked. The gift that keeps on giving.

2. Classes - for the kids: gymnastics, martial arts, mommy and me, ballet, music, horseback riding...
                   for the grownups: art, dance, zumba or nia, yoga.......

3. Staples - No, not the actual staples. Things you use every day. Socks and underwear. Diapers and formula. Towels (kitchen or bath). Glasses. Dishes. Sheets. Solid colored t-shirts. Also things that get used regularly and get worn out quickly: uniforms and sports equipment. Derby girls love nothing more then a new set of wheels, toe stops, or pads.

But maybe you want to give them something special. A splurge. A treat. Here you go:

3. Experiences - a guided hike, paragliding or parasailing, a whale watch or horseback ride. Not as adventurous? A gift card to the movie theater or bowling alley or roller rink! Maybe a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or that place they get coffee every morning.

4. Services - a massage or pedicure or haircut. A housecleaner for the day after Christmas. Window and screen washing or gutter cleaning in the spring time. A chimney sweep. An oil change. Lawn services. Laundry services. A babysitter. A dog walker. A gift card to the local kennel or dog groomer.

Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments. And don't forget, you can make your own gift certificates and provide a lot of the services and experiences yourself!

No honey, I'm not his wife

I have this manager, see. His brother owns the restaurant, and he moved here a few years ago from the midwest to be the night manager. A perfectly nice man, with two teenage kids, and an ex-wife who - as he tells it - could freeze the balls off an eskimo. She sounds Just Darling. Anyhooo, I wandered into the cafe last night - my night off - to drop off my manager's daughter, who had been our babysitter for the evening.

My manager and I had a quick chat about the kids - his and mine - and I went in the back to grab some desserts. When I came out, a lovely girl who I had never seen before (and who apparently is a new employee - welcome to the nuthouse honey!) was walking by. I smiled and said hello, and she stopped and smiled. "Are you his wife?" she asked, gesturing towards our manager.

"Hmm?" I asked, stopping in my tracks and turning around.

"Are you his wife?"

Oh honey. You ARE new here, aren't you.

The thing that freaks me out is, she's not the first to ask that question. And I need to figure out why. Because trust me, we do not exchange looks of blind adoration or lovesick devotion. In fact, last week I threatened to walk out, because he was being such an asshole. (In his defense, he noted that my sense of humor was absolutely shot that night - which may or may not have been true. But still - NOT FUCKING FUNNY ASSHOLE.)

And you know what else is not funny? Being mistaken for someone's wife. Especially when you are blissfully, happily married to someone else.

So I am having t-shirts made (shh! don't ruin the surprise!) Mine says "I am not his wife". His says "I am not the owner".

Because I can assure you, we don't want any confusion about those two issues. And for god's sake - this poor man is NEVER going to get a date if people think he is married and his wife is always hanging around harping on him about what an asshole he is.

Oh wait. THAT must be why people think I'm his wife.

Friday, December 17, 2010

......and then I was struck by lightening, The End.

I truly never thought I would say the words. And when the thought popped into my head, instead of just blurting it out, I sat with it for a minute.

Was it disrespectful to the man I love and share my life with?
What kind of karmic payback will I experience for uttering these words?
And also: Am I delusional?

But I couldn't help it.
I was standing in a store, in front of a huge catalogue. Surrounded by familiar equipment. Men in tight shorts and little hats. Wheels and components leaning up against every surface. And the process of ordering this roof rack for my family's bikes was taking way too long.

It's not that complicated.
I know.....because, well. I just know.

Standing in the Maui Cyclery on Tuesday, around the corner from the cafe an hour before work, was just the same as standing in _____ Cyclery 20 years ago.
(And side note, after reading that line and counting in my head: I am so fucking old).

I spent a lot of time in ______Cyclery during high school. There were years that I called there every day. Probably multiple times, actually. I didn't know any better. And I would hang out there, pretending to be interested in my surroundings, when really I was just interested in one of the employees.
Fact: I didn't even own a bike. But I watched him order and assemble many many MANY roof racks over the years. I know my Thule and my Yakima, damn it.

In the past 15 years or so, since my time at the bike shop came to it's sad conclusion, I *never* had a roof rack on my car. Too many painful memories. Plus, I had nothing to put on the rack. (Let's just be honest).

But now we have bikes. And I think I have enough distance from my past to allow myself to drive a car with a bunch of metal screwed to the roof, and a plastic sign on the front covered with stickers that say things like "ROCKSHOX". I even have something to put ON the racks. The racks of today have nothing to do with the racks of Christmases past. Right?

Of course.

Which is why on Tuesday, when I was having this long drawn out conversation about roof racks and which parts I would need and how much it would cost, I was honestly surprised when the thought popped into my head.

I thought it, and then - horrors of horrors - I said it. I said it out loud. And God Help Me, I meant it.

"This is" I declared "the ONLY TIME I have ever wished my ex-husband was around".
Because he may not have been happy being my husband, but he loved the hell out of a new set of roof racks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I am not your bail bondsman

Last night, we got a collect call at the cafe.

Intrigued, I accepted the charges. Who the hell would be calling us collect? Only one possible reason for that, in my limited experience with collect calls........"I'm in MCC" the voice on the other end of the line explained.

Ah yes, the call from jail.

It just wouldn't be the holidays without one.

Strangely enough, the call was not coming from one of my co-workers. Or one of our kids or husbands.

It was a customer.

I mean, of course he's a friend. And of course we were concerned.
But the week before Christmas is no time to start posting bail unless you are trying to get daddy out of prison to help stuff christmas cards and hang lights and assemble this fucking dollhouse your little darling wanted. In that situation, you pay the piper - because it's probably cheaper then paying someone else to help you get all of this shit done on time. And because why the HELL should he get to hang out in jail watching TV and having someone cook for him, while you're stuck at home with the kids and the work and the holiday prep?

So we passed the phone around, took some notes, gave him some numbers, wished him luck at the bail hearing, and went back to work. But all night long, I was thinking about that call. About that guy, sitting in jail the week before Christmas.

Where the hell is his family? Doesn't he have a mother to call?

And then I thought about it some more. I thought about raising sons, and how I would react if *my* kid was in jail. The kid I have spent so much time loving and worrying about, supporting and encourging. The long hours I work to pay for school and sports equiptment and food and transportation. I put everything I have into raising these kids. And if all that I have isn't enough to keep them out of jail, well.......I would be devastated.

Tonight I will sit down with my blue eyed monster, and have a little chat with him.

Not "the" chat - because I just can't bear it - but a chat that goes a little something like this:
I am raising you to be a good boy, and a law-abiding citizen. If you do something so bad that you get put in jail.........don't call me. I won't bail you out. I'll let you sit there and think about it, and hopefully learn something from the experience.
But you should try calling the cafe. Someone there might take the call.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Uncivilized Disobedience

That little bastard.

I just kept saying it to myself, silently, as I drove carpool that afternoon. My hands clenched to the steering wheel, I took deep breaths and thought about something - ANYTHING - else.

Anything besides the graffiti I had just discovered scrawled on the back of the seat.

He wrote in my car. He wrote on my car. For a few minutes I sat and contemplated the relative grammatical correctness of each phrase. It helped to distract me from contemplating where I failed as a parent, and whether I should just pull over and make him walk home.

I was in disbelief. I mean, what would possess a 10 year old kid to sit in the third row of my car, and write all over the back of the second row of seats? How could this happen? WHY would this happen?

And most importantly......what the HELL was I going to do about it?

Choosing appropriate consequences for wildly unpredictable and non-sensical behavior is close to impossible. You don't want to over-react. And yet, you don't want that shit to ever - and I mean EVER - happen again.

After surveying the damage, and contemplating all of the other issues that had come up during the week, and all of the consequences that had been mentioned in the past two weeks, I knew what I had to do. I didn't want to do it, but I had to. I had warned him. I had told him in no uncertain terms that it could happen - that it would happen - if he didn't shape up.

And he soooooo didn't shape up.
I took a deep breath, and delivered my verdict.
"That little transgression just cost you your birthday party." I declared calmly, unwavering, bulletproof. I was not going to cave. No caving. No way.

He sat in stony silence, because he knew. He knew it was on the line. It wasn't a surprise.

His 10th birthday is tomorrow.
There will not be a party.
Of course he is still getting the presents we bought him, and the ones his grandparents sent. And we will be going rollerskating - something we like to do on Wednesday nights anyway. And we are going out to dinner first. But the stack of presents from his friends? And the treasure hunt in the forest? And the sword fights and rope swings and tug of war? And the party in the clearing like the Mad Hatter's tea party with crazy hats and balloons and sparklers and jars to catch fireflies?

It evaporated - just like the Cheshire Cat.

Being a parent is hard. It's not just the hours (which suck - I haven't had a full night's sleep in 11 years) or the money (which also sucks - raising a child ends up costing way more than you ever thought possible, and I'm only talking about feeding them and clothing them) or even the sheer labor involved (physical, mental and emotional, thankyouverymuch).  And then there's the gag factor, which should not be underestimated.

It's all hard.

But this sort of stuff just kills me. The times when I have to be the grownup. The times when I think to myself "dammit, I sound just like my mother". The times when I have to mete out justice and choose what is best for my kid - even if it breaks both of our hearts.

And tomorrow, on the anniversary of the day I became a mother, I have to be his mother. I have to teach him right from wrong. Personal responsibility. Respect for other people, and their property.
Respect for others, so that he can respect himself.
I am raising a good man, but today it just doesn't feel that good.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, mistake. I thought we were all adults here.

In this season of holiday cheer - and holiday parties - let this little missive be a reminder to you.

If you think for some reason FOR ANY REASON that you might throw up during a dinner party, you should definitely excuse yourself and go OUTSIDE and get some fresh air.

Puking in the foyer doesn't count. Especially in full view of table 4.

Throwing up indoors - ANYWHERE INDOORS - means that someone is going to have to clean it up. And I know you wouldn't want THAT to happen. You wouldn't want someone else to have to clean up your puke after a raucous party with lots of food and drink being consumed. And you certainly wouldn't be in any condition to take care of it yourself, under the circumstances.

Not that you would offer, of course. In your state. Yes, I did hear that there was a tummy bug going around.

It seems to make people very hungry and thirsty and loud. And confused, too.

If you had your wits about you, I am sure you wouldn't have stood in the middle of the room screeching.
For hours.

And I'm guessing you would have left at least enough to cover the check. Especially if you puked. In the foyer. Or almost but not quite in the foyer, as we discovered later.

Of course.

So, to recap:
Got Puke? Go outside. For the love of all that is holy - go outside.
Make a mess? Leave a big tip. Or if you were in someone's home, return the next day with apologies and a gift. A big one.
So you puked? And people are cleaning up around you? Go home. It's a sign. In fact, it would probably be a good idea if everyone in your party left. You may not have picked up on the other, subtler hits. So when someone asks you to lift your feet so they can vacuum under them, well......let's just say the party is over for someone. (I mean you).

And really, once someone in the group has puked, it's kind of over for everyone.
At least, it really should be.
Unless you like to party with the hazmat team.
Is there any wine left in that bottle?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The frozen north and special socks.

As I have mentioned, I live on the side of a dormant volcano at about 2000 ft elevation.

It's fucking cold up here.

I know, I know, it's Hawaii. You wish you could be so cold. I hear you. I do.
But this morning, it was 53 degrees in my house. We have no heat. We have no woodstove. We have no insulation. Our windows are louvres, so the wind just blows right through.

And this morning, it was blowing.
My feet ached with cold. I even wore my special socks - but still......they can only do so much.

And as I sat there in my kitchen this morning, clutching a cup of tea and shivering in sweatpants and a turtleneck sweater and my special socks, I was online, looking for tickets to Alaska.
For tomorrow night.

It's -31 in Fairbanks.
I am a moron.
Even my special socks cannot help in -31 weather.
NOTHING can help you in -31.
I might even have to wear PANTS.
With LEGS.
And I am fundamentally opposed to pants.
With legs.
But I am pretty sure hotpants would be highly inadvisable in -31.
Unless maybe they were FUR hotpants.
Google, don't fail me now.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Talking about penises Just Comes Natural

When we first moved to Maui, I joined a bookclub. It was the first connection I made on my own, friends that were friends with ME - not friends of friends. There's a difference, you know. Between someone choosing to be your friend, or just being friendly because you have a friend-in-common.
My point is, I found my tribe with these women. They took me under their wing, included me and supported me through all these years. And the bookclub was a way for me to have something to do, something to look forward to in this new place full of strangers and strangeness. I was home alone with a new baby, and I knew a total of 4 people on island. I was lonely, and bored. Really, really bored. And suddenly I found that I was not alone. That there were tons of stay at home moms who were also bored. So they started up this book club. And one of the members - a mommy at the playground - invited me to join.

In the beginning, it was a very serious bookclub. We were all stuck at home with kids, and this was our major source of intellectual stimulation. So we read the book, read the study guide, even. Had lists of deep and probing questions to discuss earnestly. Did research at the library and online. Handed out photocopies of background information. The entire meeting was focused on the book - discussing, analyzing, listening and learning.

But now that the kids are all in school and we are working and running businesses and driving carpools and doing all the other things we do to keep everyoe's lives running smoothly, well....bookclub has changed. Now, we are lucky if everyone has finished the first chapter. We have have to have a Cliffs Notes-style summary of the book and then the person hosting has to lead everyone in some sort of discussion that is at least loosely tied to the book.

It's harder than it sounds.

Like herding cats.

Cats with glasses of wine.

It will come as no surprise to you to hear that I was the one who started serving wine at meetings. The girls really took to the idea. And expanded on it. By last spring, we had a meeting that involved magic brownies, and I got completely stoned and wandered off at some point and sent the rest of the group into a panic.

Its THAT kind of book club.

This weekend I snuck away for an overnight/bookclub meeting. It wasn't much of an overnight, by the time I finished my shift at work, stopped by a birthday party to say hello, got gas and snacks, and then drove alone for an hour thru a very isolated and remote area in the pitch black darker than dark of a forest at night.

It was almost midnight when I arrived, and the pajama party was definitely over. I pulled in to the lot and saw some familiar cars but when I got out, and looked around - expecting to hear raucous laughter, or at the very least some giggling and hooting - there was silence.

I was going to have to go and find them. But I had no idea where they were. And there were 4 buildings to choose from, all dark and silent. The girls could have been anywhere. They could have been out for a moonlit swim for all I knew.

And then, I heard it.

Loud snoring.
How............un-lady-like. Well, I better be sure I find the right cottage - which would definitely not be the source of that kind of man-snore.

I crept up to a cottage and crossed the front porch on tiptoe. As I eased open the door, the snoring got louder. I stopped. Uncertain. None of my friends would be capable of making such a racket. Did someone bring their husband? Husbands are NOT ALLOWED.

I stuck my head around the door "Does anyone in here know me?" I whispered loudly (to be heard over the snoring, you see).

One of my girlfriends popped up and hissed a greeting. Another murmered. And then, of course, there was the snoring. That whole side of the room wouldn't have been able to hear a damn thing.

I turned around and crept back out. I grabbed my basket and a pillow from the car - I had been expecting a shower and a glass of wine before bed, maybe a s'more or something.....but it was not to be. Devastated by my lack of toasted marshmallows (what kind of bullshit all-girls camping trip WAS this?) I pulled on my leggings, wiggled out of my work clothes, bundled up in a sweatshirt and lay out my beach towel because I obviously wasn't going to be making my bed in the dark. I flopped down on the bunk, checked my email, and then dozed off.

Sleep doesn't come easy to me under the best, most ideal of circumstances. And in that musty bunkhouse with the snoring and the creaking of the bunkbeds, wrapped in a beach towel, stinking of cigarettes and the amaretto I had dumped on myself at work, well......I didn't really sleep.

And in the morning, I woke up with a pair of little boys underpants on my left foot (?????), a crick in my neck, and my friend standing over me.
"YOU'RE HERE!" she squealed.
"Yup. I told you I was coming. But when the hell did you all start going to bed so early?"
"Oh, we were down by the fire but then we started talking about penises and the family in the cabin over there asked us to be quiet."

For the record, the bookclub selection of the month had nothing to do with penises.
I told you, I found my tribe.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Things I love, holiday edition: the perfect gift

I am a very awkward gift receiver. I love them, I really really love them...............but if it's not reciprocal, if I do not have a gift to give in exchange for the one I am receiving, I feel all sorts of weird. Unless it is my birthday. In that case, you damn well better have something for me.

But here's the thing with holidays: You never know when someone is going to give you a gift. Which is why starting the second week of December, I generally drive around with a half case of wine and a bag of stocking stuffers in my trunk. A few cute accessories, some random gadgets, a couple of toys and books, and a few small home decor items. I am always prepared.
Like a girl scout.
Except if I was a girl scout my trunk would be stuffed with Thin Mints and Samoas.
Not SamoaNS, by the way. I love my Samoan friends, but they would not appreciate being stuffed in my trunk, let me tell ya. Samoas, on the other hand, travel very well. Just don't leave the car in direct sunlight and it's all good.
Really good.
Goddamn, Samoas are good.

Wow. Tangent.
OK, so my point is, that while I am always prepared for an unexpected gift exchange what I truly love is to give a perfect, unique, useful, unexpected gift that suits the recipient.

Which is why my husband gets socks and underwear and random sporting equipment - whether he wants it or not. He's always thankful later on. At least that's what I tell him when he looks confused.

We don't go overboard for Christmas. Santa brings each child one gift - usually the thing they have been most coveting, if I can swing it. Except for the time that Max wanted a beebee gun. Sorry, but I am not arming my 9 year old. The kid can barely keep his pee in the toilet, why would I expect his aim to be better with a gun?

Lucy is easy - costumes and hair things and art supplies are all she needs to leap around enthusiastically and run across the street to announce her good fortune to the neighbors. And if they maybe have some cookies over there that she could snack on during the visit, much the better.

I am already getting our shopping under control. I do buy little things throughout the year for everyone, but I usually find myself flipping through catalogues and wandering through the local boutiques a few weeks before Christmas, looking for Just The Right Thing for our families and friends. I take it very seriously. Sometimes I have a theme, like the year that I sent everyone reusable shopping totes stuffed with kitchen gadgets and cleaning supplies. This year I have no theme. I don't even have any ideas. I am gift-blocked.

Which is why tomorrow I will walk the two blocks over to our little village, where the shopkeepers are having a little holiday stroll complete with Santa and live music and the lighting of the town star. I'll wander around looking in the stores and chatting with the shop owners and hopefully finding just the thing for the person who has everything. Or I'll get hammered on the free wine they'll be handing out, and take a nap on the sofa.

The holidays. So unpredictable.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things I love, holiday edition: Holiday tunes. I admit it, I used to be totally hot for Bing Crosby BUT NOT ANYMORE.

We have a weird collection of music for the holidays. Part of that can be attributed to the cds we get as gifts from friends and family - I have no idea how they compile the songs included on these anthologies, but You gotta love the cd from my brother that included both John Denver's "Please Daddy (don't get drunk this Christmas)" AND the Peanuts singing "Christmastime is Here".

So herein, some suggestions for your next holiday cd burning extravaganza - these are real uplifting, festive picks:
Sufjan Stevens "Get Behind Me Santa"
Brett Dennan "The Holidays Are Here (We're Still At War)"
Zee Avi "No Christmas For Me"
Brandi Carlile "The Heartache Can Wait"
Dar Williams "The Christians and the Pagans" (Which I like to think is about pagans AND lesbians, which makes it the best holiday song EVER.)
Adult Rodeo "Jesus, He Loves LSD + Me" (okay, so that's not really a Christmas song, but at least it's about Christ, and I think he's got something to do with this holiday. Or something.)
and of course
John Denver "Please Daddy (don't get drunk this Christmas)"

I told you I hate the holidays.
Drink up, people.

Things I love holiday edition: O Christmas Tree and Blow Job Santa - decorating fun!

Here's the thing about the holidays: it's all about the decorations. You cannot forget that it is December - no matter where you go, from the grocery store to the ICU, everything is candy cane striped, and decked out in ribbons and bells and assorted ornaments. No matter what holiday you are celebrating, they have an appropriately colored string of lights, a section of greeting cards, and some hideous cardboard cut outs or window decals to suit.

A lot of it makes me cringe - especially the yard decorations that inflate or move their heads slowly back and forth. It's all just so.......much. So in your face. So undignified. Now, don't get me wrong - I have an inflatable snow globe in my front yard the minute our calendar turns to December. But I do it for the kids, you see. And I think we all know my dignity is in shards somewhere on the side of I-95 in New Jersey.

Dignified or not, there is one piece of holiday decor that I really do love, and which sparks all sorts of warm and fuzzy memories and frosty-paned nostalgia: the holiday tree.

This is not to take away from the beauty of other classic symbols of the holiday season. For instance, I have a deep and abiding appreciation for the menorah - both for it's symbolism and for the many design interpretations I have seen.....but I'm not Jewish and I don't celebrate Hanukkah so I feel like having a menorah would be as absurd as having a crucifix. I am many, many things - religious is not one of them.

But the tree? The tree doesn't belong to one particular religion. The tree is basically used for the sole purpose of displaying the 8 million Christmas ornaments our children have made at school over the years, and actually rocks some ornaments that I made as a kid, myself. And while it is a "Christmas tree", covered in "Christmas ornaments", the tree is completely non-religious for us. I don't have a nativity set up in front of it or even an angel on top or anything like that. Instead I have decorations in the shape of the buddah's head and santa wearing a grass skirt because I like to send mixed messages and confuse my children, one string of old school lights, and resting underneath the plastic branches, a needlepoint pillow that says "He Knows Where You've Been Sleeping" that my mother gave me during a particularly festive holiday season right after my first marriage came to a spectacular conclusion. My response to be being single for the first time since my freshman year of highschool was to date. A lot. My mother found my newly single behavior alarming. And in typical passive-aggressive fashion, gave me a needlepoint pillow with that nasty little slogan for my first Christmas as a "single gal".

God, I love that pillow.

But even better than the pillow is my festive collection of paper maiche dolls, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and a caroling boy.

At least, they said he was caroling.

But all three of them are making the most alarming face. Mouths gaping open in a perfect "O'.
Each year we received another figurine, and each year the only thing I could think was "blow job".
So, next to the tree, we have Blow Job Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the eunich.
Because nothing says Christmas to me like blow jobs and Christmas trees. Wouldn't you agree?