Monday, January 31, 2011

Sleeping with the enemy.

First, I have to clarify....I sleep with my husband, and he is not the enemy. So when I say "sleeping with the enemy" it is just a saying. Not something I am actually doing. I'm not sleeping with anyone, honey, but you. I swear.

Except for that one time. Okay, twice. Maybe three times. But not with the same girl. Different girls. Once there were 4 of us in the room. But we didn't even fool around, we Just Slept. We are Just Friends. But still, I did sleep with a girl. Yes, a girl. Yes, two girls. In bed together. Sleeping. And so, in a way, I did sleep with the enemy. But we haven't even gotten to the enemy part yet. The enemy isn't my husband. Or my girlfriend. Wait. Not "girlfriend". "Friend who is a girl". I mean woman. "Friend who is a woman". I should have said "The enemy isn't a woman I have slept with." Or fooled around with. I never fooled around with anyone. Except my husband. He's not a girl. Or a woman. Or the enemy.

Are you still reading? Okay, moving on. I have a lot of explaining to do.
And also, My husband is a saint.

Something has come up that, frankly, I need to get off my shoulders. I have some (anonymous and unnamed) friends online and in real life - yes, more than one - who work for various very large, very aggressive (also very not named MR. LAWYER) companies and also some very small, very passive-aggressive companies that are engaged in some business practices that I strongly disagree with. (I know, I can't believe I have friends with real grown-up jobs either.)
I will be completely honest: I don't know a whole hell of a lot about these companies. But what I *do* know must be a public relations nightmare for them. I mean, there are movies about how much some of these companies suck. Protests. Petitions. Posters.

There are bumper stickers, for God's sake.

In fact, I have heard almost nothing positive about these particular companies. I say "almost nothing positive" because these companies - small and large alike - make contributions to non-profits and local schools, and do a lot of work in the community in the effort to make people, well, hate them less. Some on a small scale, and some on a massive, front page of the paper variety. They do it up like a John Hughes movie: the friendless loser, who's rich parents throw a big, cool party and invite the whole school, and hire a band, and provide unlimited amounts of food and drink and entertainment. And then people sort of tolerate the jerk, just because he's got so much money and he was the first kid to get a BMW and ohhh shiny.

So I have some friends who work for these ENTIRELY NAMELESS I AM NOT EVEN GOING TO HINT corporations, and I don't like these companies' practices.

At all.

But I love my friends. And so my point of view has always been "Well, these companies can't be all bad, if my friends are working for them. My friends would never do anything wrong, or work for companies that were engaged in the terrible practices I have read about."

Over the years, I've tried to tell myself that it was just as if they practiced a different religion - to each his own. I won't judge you if you won't judge me. Love your fellow man. Our differences make us beautiful.
And I am really trying to keep that feeling alive in my heart. But it is starting to ring sort of hollow. It's not about the friendships - I still adore my friends, they are amazing, beautiful, brilliant, accomplished, loving, generous, kind, supportive people.

I just wish they would go work for someone - ANYONE - else.
Because rather than seeming beautiful, our differences are making me slightly nauseous. Like I'm a vegan and they are sitting there eating bacon while plucking a chicken.

So I am putting this back to you, gentle reader. Let's examine some scenarios together. I would love your guidance on this one.

Here are some completely random (and as far as I know completely unrelated to my real-life situation) examples of things that would make me uncomfortable. But if you are my friend and you are working for a company that does any of this, I would keep it to yourself because you are hearby informed that shit like this makes me uncomfortable.

How would you feel if your friend worked for a cosmetics company that tested on animals? While I understand that much good has come from animal testing, I believe that it has gone far beyond it's original intention. Developing cures for diseases is not the same as developing a new eyelash growth enhancer or longer-lasting lipstick.

How would you feel if your friend worked for a company that underpaid everyone, paid women less then men, and undermined smaller family owned businesses all over the country? I love my small local shops, and feel guilty every time I shop in a big chain store. Every time.

How would you feel if your friend worked for a company that paid out huge bonuses while repossessing your house? Because I am pretty sure those bonuses are making everyone uncomfortable at this point - even the recipients.

How would you feel if you were in the union fighting for a fair living wage with benefits, standing outside a construction site in the cold holding up a sign, and your friend crossed the picket line to work at a job that was paying less than scale and not providing health insurance?

I could go on, but I am afraid of offending all of my friends. So I'll stop.

But I truly want to know - How would you feel if your friend worked for a company that was doing something that made you mad? That you thought was wrong?

Because giving up the friendship is not an option.
It's forever. It's true love.
I guess I'll just wait for them to retire.
And you don't have to actually comment on this - we can keep it rhetorical.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lady, if you hurt my daughter's feelings again it's over. No, really, I mean it this time.

I know you have heard me complain about our neighborhood.

The neighbors who run an auto shop out of their carport, and have filled our cul de sac with broken down cars.

The neighbors whose children spend every play date fighting and screaming, and inevitably end each visit with one of them sobbing hysterically from a bedroom where they have been sent for a "time out".

The neighbor who lives on the mainland and comes to Hawaii to buy cases of "fresh" spam, because the spam on the mainland isn't fresh enough. This is the same guy who wears cut off jean shorts that are So Short that the pockets hang out the leg holes (along with other things, I would imagine - these shorts are really short. They are the hotpants of jean shorts.)

The neighbor who - instead of knocking on our door - called the Humane Society because my puppies got out of the fenced yard and were running in the street and barking and bothering him.

The neighbor who walks slowly to the bus stop at least once a day dragging a wheeled backpack behind him.

The neighbor who feeds wild dogs that live in the gulch behind his house. He literally has a pack of wild dogs in his backyard.

The neighbor who stands outside and talks to her pussy (which I hope to God is her cat but, you know, I still haven't been able to verify that.)

We have, by all accounts, a very colorful neighborhood.

But the neighbor that continuously manages to hurt feelings and offend callously is the one who alternates trading playdates and family dinners, with stony silence.

Case in point:
I got a text on WEDNESDAY asking to plan a playdate for SUNDAY. Now, that is a lot of notice for a playdate with your next door neighbor. I would even go so far as to say that was a little TOO much notice.

It was weird.

But I said yes, of course, because our daughters are about the same age and OF COURSE my social butterfly would want to have that playdate. As it is, she stares longingly out the window several times each and every day, asking when the next playdate is.

So yee haw, we had our selves a date for play. I put it in my phone, for God's sake. This was happening.
But I kept it a secret. I wanted it to be a surprise. And a 5 year old has absolutely ZERO concept of time. So I was't going to tell her until right before the neighbor arrived. On Saturday, I touched base to say that we were going to the beach in the morning, so rather then meet right after lunch, perhaps we could do it closer to 2:30pm. I mean, they live 100 yards away. It's not that big a deal. And I was giving, like, 24 hours notice. For a revised start time. For a playdate.

And the mom wrote back to say that they were going to be out too, and she would let me know what their timing was.

So we go to the beach.
And we rush home.
And I get the kids all cleaned up.
And we wait for the call signalling the beginning of the long-awaited play date.

The phone does not ring.
All afternoon, there was not a single call or text.

My daughter sat on the back of the couch, watching out the window, waiting for her friend to pop out of the gate and come bouncing down the street.

She never came.
Two other kids came to play, and that was fun.......but Lucy had her heart set on her girlfriend coming over. She had laid out her toys, put on a special outfit, cleaned her room, and then she waited, so patiently. She kept busy. She asked every so often what time it was, or asked me to check and see if I had gotten a text.

And as it started to get dark, and we put away the toys, and we started talking about what she wanted for dinner, it dawned on her that her friend was not coming.

And she was devastated.

It would have taken 15 seconds to send a text. To let us know that plans had changed.
But I guess when you are really busy - so busy that you have to plan playdates 5 days in advance - I guess you don't have the time to contact a 5 year old girl - one that you could probably see sitting in the window waiting. Because she was waiting, you know.

She's 5. A minute can feel like an eternity when you are 5.
And a no-show on a playdate, sitting on the couch all of those long, lonely minutes, waiting for a friend who never arrives......well, that sort of thing can break a 5 year old heart.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bite sized powder donuts, you are the devil's work.

A few weeks ago, I found something beyond disgusting baked into a loaf of bread. I am not even going to show you the photo, because it was just so nasty.

Oh,  okay. If you insist.

Okay, so I guess it was technically two somethings.

Regardless, it wasn't bread. And it didn't belong on my plate, I know that for sure.

So I wrapped the offending loaf, marched right down to the store, and filled out an "incident report". Incident, indeed. After everything had been filled out and signed, and my information duly noted, they handed me a copy of the form, and - inexplicably - the loaf of bread, and told me someone would be in touch in the next 48 hours, and that they would want to analyze "the findings".

For a few weeks, I heard nothing. But "Maui time" is an actual observed phenomenon. You can just expect everything to take longer here. So I didn't panic. I also didn't throw away the evidence. No, it stayed in the far reaches of my refrigerator, waiting for the call.

Which finally came last week. Actually, a frantic series of calls came, 3 in a row. One from corporate, one from the state supplier, and one from the local bakery. Boy, did they want to see my bread.

I mean really.....who can blame them.
So I dutifully drove down to the local bakery and dropped off the bag with the remains of the contaminated loaf to be tested and inspected, and a zip lock bag with the items seen in the above photo. In return, they gave me new bread (which I accepted reluctantly) and a 2 pound bucket of powdered mini donuts (which I accepted with a mixture of reluctance and glee).

And here we are. Just me and my donuts.

For the record, the only thing worse to keep in your house then a box of mini-donuts covered in powdered sugar, is TWO POUNDS of mini donuts covered in powdered sugar. I have been eating them surreptitiously, a few at a time, when the kids aren't looking. I mean, I don't want them to go to waste. And as far as I am concerned,  a stale donut is a crime.

Last night I climbed into bed, licking the powdered sugar from the corner of my mouth, and snuggled up against my husband, who was already in bed.

"Mmmm. The only way this could be better is if I were eating mini donuts at the same time."

"Uh, so you want to incorporate mini donuts into our bedroom?"

"I guess not. Too messy. But you know what I really want? I really want a mini donut machine. I want to make mini donuts. I think it should be my life's work."

" want to get one of those machines, and set up a stand outside KMart or something?"

"What? No! I don't want to sell them - I want to eat them! I want to EAT mini donuts like it's my job. I don't want to profit from something so perfect and beautiful."

"Well, I don't know if you could call them perfect and beautiful..."

"Yes, yes you can. There is nothing more perfect than hot, fresh mini donuts in a paper bag, covered in powdered sugar. A thing of beauty."

"The bag absorbs all of the bad grease, you know." Sam informed me solemnly. "All that's left is the donut-y goodness. But I would prefer cinnamon on mine."

"Well, okay" I was feeling agreeable, now that my dream was becoming a reality.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hey wanna stop taking notes and maybe ask some questions?

I met my new "primary care physician" today. I put that term in quotes because while that is, indeed, the official title, actions speak louder than words.

I made a doctors appointment last week, for a persistant cough. I had some concerns, most notably that I wanted to make sure that my very aggressive form of endometriosis had not migrated to my lung. This is not crazy talk - my endo has traveled from my diaphragm down through my hips and into (theoretically - they haven't one surgery to confirm it) my left leg. It is unusual to have endo in your lung, but my case is an unusual one, in that my endo has spread far beyond my reproductive system. Bowel, intestine, diaphragm, ovaries, rectum, bladder, it has spread through my abdomen like silly string. But so far, it has never gone above my diaphragm, that I know of. And I didn't ever worry about it, until I developed this cough. And this shortness of breath. I have been tired and run down for......months, I guess. And I have been coughing for over a month.

I know colds can linger...but this feels different. And I just needed the peace of mind. In the past, my suspicions have almost always been proven right, even as a child I always knew I was getting strep a day before the spots showed up on my throat. So I wanted to see my doctor, and explain my concerns, and rule out the other possibilities before I really started to worry about endo.

But my doctor - my regular doctor - had moved away, and been replaced with this...........well, this other guy.

I don't know how you feel about going to the doctor, but I know I feel a lot better when I know and trust the person who will be examining and treating me. So in seeing someone for the first time, I was already anxious. And then the doctor came in, and it got worse almost instantly.

Listen. I know that every doctor does not have time to review every patient's medical history. That said, I think it is important for a doctor to walk in, shake hands, make some eye contact, introduce themselves, and say "So, tell me what's going on." I have received that courtesy in emergency rooms and with countless other physicians. Being allowed to explain, and perhaps give some background information that might help in finding the most effective treatment, puts me at ease. I have a complicated medical history to be sure, and there are a few details that really are important. Like, for inst-
"So you have a cough" he announced in the open doorway. The nurses in the hall glanced away, trying to offer me a bit of privacy.
"Yes, since Christmas."
"Are you pregnant." he said as he washed his hands. One of the nurses closed the door quietly.
"No, I -"
"How do you know for sure?"
"Well, I had a hysterectomy."
"Why would you have a hysterectomy at your age?"
You would think that by asking me a question, he would actually give a shit. But he totally didn't.
"I went through menopause. I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was-"
But now he was examining me. No comment, no "I am going to put my hand under your shirt and listen to your breathing", no kindness or conversation or empathy. "Take a deep breath." The exam was over after 4 deep breaths, and he was back to his keyboard. There was minimal eye contact as he typed away.
"Any history of asthma or allergies?"
"No, not reall-"
"Do you smoke?"
"Rarely. I-"
"Only two answers to that question - yes or no. It's like being pregnant."
"Okay, well I-"
"How about heartburn. Indigiestion? Any of that?"
"Well it says here that 3 years ago you were treated for some-"
"I believe it was related to my endometriosis. It wasn't reflux. Or indigiestion. Or heartburn." And, for the record, I think it was more like 4 or 5 years ago
He was typing away on the keyboard. What was he typing? He had only asked me, like, 3 questions, and as far as he was concerned there were one-word answers to everything.
"I'm sending you for a chest x-ray."
"Okay." I was defeated, and realized that he was going to leave without my having the chance to ask him any questions.
"And I'm giving you an inhaler. You have a bit of wheezing in your cough."
"But I-" I don't have asthma. I don't. And I have all but quit smoking. Two cigarettes in the last 6 weeks - both smoked at work during a moment of extreme stress. Which was something I needed to talk to him about. My stress. I wanted to ask him about my neck and jaw pain from clenching my teeth all the time, the migraines, and the panic attacks that have been creeping slowly back over the past few weeks.
"I'll be right back."

And it was over. He walked in and handed me a piece of paper, turned on his heel and walked back out the door, pointing me towards the exit with one hand as he walked away down the hall.

So I had my chest x-ray, and took my inhaler, and went home. Still coughing. The inhaler didn't help.

And once home, I got an email:

He got the results of the x-ray. Which showed a possible something in my lung. Which needs to be rechecked in 4-6 weeks. It could be anything. It could be nothing. It could be a spot on the piece of film they used. It could be a shadow.

It deserved a phone call. There wasn't even a way to reply to the email.

So here's the point of my post. We deserve better. If you have a doctor who doesn't give a shit, then please, I am begging you - find one who does. You know more about your body than ANY DOCTOR. You know when you aren't feeling well. You know your medical history. You are your advocate - and your children's advocate, and your spouse's advocate, and your parent's advocate.

I am not saying this to encourage everyone to second guess their doctors or monopolize the appointment for 15 minutes discussing the vitamins you are taking and what your sister says is wrong with you.

But your doctor should ask you some questions. Especially the first time you meet them. Your doctor should spend more time talking with you then typing on his computer. Your doctor should listen to you, just as you should listen to your doctor. And as always, you should listen to that little voice in the back of your head.

My little voice is shopping around for a new primary care physician.

Monday, January 24, 2011

So we leave jail, and go to the store for bacon, narrowly escape a cult, and then a cowboy comes to our rescue. It was a really weird day.

So, to recap.

First, we went to the local prison. Because velcro sneakers make me uncomfortable. (And in case you were wondering, all of my worrying was for naught: the velcro sneakers were greeted with all kinds of enthusiasm and fond memories of a childhood that was, apparently, full of velcro sneakers. Whew.)
Then, we went to buy some bacon, and then during a search for Goya prodects we narrowly escaped a cult.
It was a long morning.

Emotionally drained, we returned posthaste to the rolling fields of the countryside we call our home. Our trip to the big city had been a strange mix of success and disappointments. As we whizzed along in the sunshine listening to the radio and reflecting on our adventures, we came around a sharp turn, and slowed as a stop sign appeared ahead of us. As I downshifted, my friend sat bolt upright and her head turned to watch something that had caught her eye on the side of the road.

I cannot say for certain if that "something" was her truck, or her 4 year old sitting on the embankment - because both were there at the intersection. Her mother was sitting in the driver's seat of the truck, which was pulled over with the hood up. A denim clad, boot wearing rear end was hanging out of the engine.

Those boots, and that rear end, were attached to a cowboy.

A real live cowboy.

I pulled over immediately. Not that I wouldn't have ANYWAY, mind you. I mean my goodness, there was a small child involved.

We hurried across the road to see just what, exactly, was going on. And also to see if the cowboy was single.

I will pause for a moment to explain that my friend's mother has some sort of....I don't even know what to call it. Maybe a guy could explain it better. Pheramones, or something. From what I can gather, she has a way with men. And she is just about the only grandmother of a certain age that I know who can break down on the side of a road and have a hot, 20-something cowboy come to her rescue within minutes.

I mean, in my personal experience, when my car has broken down, I was lucky if I could get AAA to show up to help me within 3 hours. There were no cowboys. None. I'm not bitter or anything, I'm just making an observation.

Anyway, we get up to the truck, and there's the kid, and the grandma, and (god help me) the cowboy, and he does that cowboy thing where he pushes his hat back up off his forehead with the back of his hand to wipe the sweat from his brow and I was waiting for him to say "Howdy" or some other sexy cowboy something or other.

But instead, he says "Hallo" and it turns out, he was an Aussie. That's right. A hot, outback cowboy, in a plaid shirt and a leather cowboy hat and I just had to walk away. It was too much.

So the grandma leans over the side of the engine and continues working her magic over this guy - this cowboy - who immediately takes off his hat and then he stretched out right there on the ground, in the dirt, scooched himself under the engine block and kept up a running commentary about what was broken and what part was missing and WHOCARESITSAFUCKINGCOWBOYANAUSTRALIANCOWBOYOHMYGODJUSTKEEPTALKINGYOURACCENTISSOHOT.

All I have to say is this: I hope to god that I will someday learn this woman's secret and her siren song that brings young hot men to her rescue, if only just for entertainment purposes.


After a quick trip to my house for jugs of water to pour directly into the engine - and then watch run directly out of the engine and onto the formerly dry and dusty ground - and a quick drive to my friend's house to return her and her kid (leaving her mother unsupervised with the aforementioned hot aussie cowboy which was not what I had in mind but hey, she's the one with the magic man-powers) I still had to go teach cooking to 16 elementary school kids, and then I had to go to work, and I was already completely exhausted. I got to the school and reached in my backseat for the packages that the guy at the "store" had handed me.

They expired in February. Of last year.

Because that was so not a real store.

I'm just saying.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jail was just the beginning. aka "Why isn't the correctional center a location I can check in at on facebook?"

After handing over a bag full of clean clothes to the property officer at our local correctional facility (just say no to tighty whiteys, but say yes to the geriatric sneakers - because that's what I bought you. As my friend consoled me "they're a lot better then the nothing he can get in jail".) we threw open the heavy metal door and hightailed it to the parking lot.

We weren't running, exactly. But we were walking pretty damn fast: you know that walk where you are *almost* running, but kind of straight-legged, and your ass is clenched real tight and you are swinging your arms like that's gonna help you move faster?

That kind of walk.

We got in the car, took a deep breath, and came to complete agreement. We needed bacon. Immediately.

A quick check of the cellphones, and I pulled out of the (unnecessarily complicated) parking lot. I was convinced that someone was watching me from a tower somewhere, and the minute I did something - ANYTHING - even vaguely illegal, my car would be surrounded and I would be escorted back inside and locked up indefinitely.

Let's just say I used my signal when I pulled out of the driveway.

We headed directly to the closest (okay, you got me - the only) Whole Foods, and made a beeline for the hot food bar. Sadly, there was no bacon. But there was sausage. And when you are fresh out of the correctional center parking lot, you just can't afford to be choosy when it comes to organic pork breakfast products. So I ate sausage. A lot of sausage.

(That came out kind of wrong. But I think we all know what I mean.)

And after we were finished wiping our shiny chins and slurping our mochas (mine peppermint soy, her's organic dark chocolate) we had a few more errands to run.

Like, I needed my Xanax prescription refilled.
A lot.
After being assured by the pharmacist that my prescription was A. not ready and B. not able to be refilled twice in the same day, we headed off to the local mexican grocery store because people, I had some jamaican beef patties to make in a few hours, and I needed some Goya products.

When we walked in to the small shop, the shopkeeper was ducked down behind the counter watching something on a small black and white monitor. He jumped up when we walked in, and frankly I was half expecting his pants to be around his ankles or something, his reaction was so startled. I wondered if we were perhaps his only customers......ever. The products on the shelves were a strange hybrid, nothing was priced, and they didn't have the ingredient I was looking for anyway, so I thanked him and we headed back out the door.

"You live around here?" he asked suddenly. We stopped in our tracks.
"We live upcountry."

"Oh, you live in the country! That's nice! You like to read?"
"Sure..... we read."

"Here, I give you some books, You read, then pass them along, okay?"

Suddenly I was juggling an armload of hardcover books with cryptic but clearly spiritual titles. What the hell was this? A cult? Was the store a front for some cult? Shit, man, I just needed some corn wrappers. I was starting to feel a little panicky. God, I could really use a Xanax.

"Thank you!" I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. "This is great! I will be sure to read them and pass them along to other people who also like to read. Wow. This is just so nice of you!"

And I started to edge towards the door.

Once we had reached the safety of the parking lot, I threw the books in the backseat and started the engine.

"What the HELL was that?"
"That store is a front for something. I don't know what, but there is no way that is just a grocery store."
"What was he watching on the TV behind the counter?"
"I do NOT want to know."

As we pulled out of the parking lot, he came running towards us, holding a package.
"Oh for fuck's sake." I braked and rolled down the window.
"Is this what you were looking for?" he asked, breathlessly.

He was holding a package that was printed in spanish, but featured a photograph of exactly what I was making that day. Holy shit.

I pulled back into a parking spot and got out.

"I found these in the freezer. You can just have them. I don't know how much they cost."

"No." I said firmly. "I will pay for them."

"No, is okay." he insisted. "I get you another package."

I followed him back inside his store, and thrust a handful of dollar bills at him. "Here, I insist. Thank you so much." He stared at the bills, and then reluctantly accepted them. He didn't seem to know how to use the register, so he put the money down on the counter.

"So.....okay then. Uh.....Thank you." I backed out the door while he smiled and waved at me cheerfully.

I hopped back in the car and threw the packages on the floor.
I really needed to get the hell out of town. So we did. And when we got back to the country, we ran smack dab into a cowboy and some car trouble. But I'll have to tell you about that later.

You would think when a day starts at jail, that it would have to get better. You would also be wrong.

At 10:15am, safely before the 11am cutoff, we swerved through the gates and into the parking lot of the correctional center. We swerved only because I almost missed the turn, and had no idea where to go.

I am not that familiar with the parking lot of the local prison. Is the entrance a one way only situation, or do I have to stay to the right? Should I go around that pole in the middle of the road? Perhaps at this point I might prefer to drive into it head-on.

Please forgive me, old lady who gave me stink eye as I attempted to parallel park without scraping my paint on the barbed wire. I was doing the very best that I could.

We pulled the paper grocery sack out of the trunk, making sure we had everything on the check list, and that it was all labeled clearly. We double checked that those sexy sneakers were still in there. Drawstrings were removed, each article of clothing was free of pockets and logos, freshly washed in lavender scented detergent, and folded carefully. As we walked together towards the guardshack, we were both feeling......uncomfortable. It is very unsettling to approach a prison, designed to keep people from getting out, and enter it willingly. It just goes against your natural instinct. If you go in, you might not get out. So really, you shouldn't go in there.

But the man needed clean underwear.

We opened the door cautiously, and the officer was already processing another care package. He asked us to wait outside and we were thrilled to comply. When our turn came, we re-entered just as hesitantly, and waited for him to speak.

The officer was, in a word, efficient. He was kind, and answered our questions, and even cracked a smile at one of my inappropriate comments (In response to his asking who I was and why I was there) about how I must be the lucky one since I have the land line and get all the phone calls from jail.

He asked us to take everything out of the bag and went through each item carefully to make sure that it met the requirements. Then he got to the shoes, and looked at them curiously.
Uh Oh.

"Um, you can't have laces, right? I got the velcro because I figured if you can't have drawstrings you can't ha-"
He was shaking his head. "I don't know why, but shoelaces are okay."

F. U. C. K.

So not only is this guy in prison, but he's gonna be stuck wearing the geriatric specialty shoes I picked up at Walmart. Awesome. Please don't let him figure out that the sweatpants are from the women's department. That would just be cruel.

Once everything was checked in, we were handed a bag of clothes - I assume what he was wearing when he was arrested - and we walked out the door clutching the small plastic bag and reaching for keys and the forbidden cellphones.

To our credit, no matter how much we wanted to, we did not break into a run as soon as we hit the parking lot.

Tomorrow, the continuing adventures of The Day I Went to Jail. Here's a hint: prison was kind of the highlight of the day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So you don't want to eat. Or drink. Or wear pants. That's fine, but you can't hang out in this restaurant.

Tonight, I was standing behind the bar in the midst of the dinner rush just as open mic was beginning, when a woman walked in wearing a bathing suit, with a towel wrapped around her.

Her hair was wet, as was her towel. Her feet were sandy. And she wanted a day old pastry. Which is all well and good. But it was 7:15pm, we had a full restaurant, and she wanted to stay and eat it there.

I explained that I had to save the tables for people ordering dinner. I asked her if she wanted to stand at the bar to eat it, or take it to go. She looked at me for a moment. "Oh." she said.

As she counted out the dimes, nickels and GOD HELP ME WHAT THE FUCK pennies to cover the $1.32 pastry, I had to walk away.  I really needed to get back to my customers, who were waiting for their food and drinks. She was eating, she seemed to be understanding of the situation, and hopefully she would just eat and go. Her friend, on the other hand, wasn't taking it so well.

Her friend came out of the bathroom (for customers only) and was dismayed to hear that we could not offer them a table. I am not sure why she needed a table - she was not even buying a pastry. "We already ATE dinner!" she exclaimed. "We don't want to eat. We just want to sit and maybe have something to drink and listen to the music. This is an open mic night. How can you only allow people to come in if they are eating dinner?"

I looked around at the crowded restaurant.
"Um." I said.

"You should put that on the sign out there" she insisted, gesturing to the dry erase board propped up by the entrance with the specials written on it. "You can't limit this only to dinner customers! I invited people to meet us here."
"Oh." I said. "Do they want dinner?"

"No, of course not! They just want to hear the music."

While she argued with me, I remained calm. Her friend (in the wet bathing suit) had eaten the strudel standing at the bar (which was standing room only), and had settled herself into a booth that a couple had just vacated, content with letting someone else fight the battle.

"I would be happy to let you sit until I need the table" I offered......but no.
"Well, that's not going to work for me." she insisted.

"But it's dinner time. I have customers who want to eat dinner. We have reservations. If I need to seat them, I need to offer them a table."

"This is ridiculous." she sneered.

I decided that I needed to walk away. This was obviously not going to end well.

So I went back to my customers, while she loudly complained to her friends that that woman over there (insert nasty glances and vague hand gestures in my general direction) said that the tables were for dinner customers only - which was clearly the most outrageous, aggregious thing she had EVER heard. They gathered up their grocery bags and walked outside, still complaining. She stood on the sidewalk, complaining. They stopped people who were coming inside, and complained to them about how horrible I was.

Within minutes, a man walked in and said "There's a group out there that wants to come in - they have 12 people."
I stared at him for a minute. Sweet Jesus. Was this guy serious?

"Well, they don't want dinner," I said uncertainly. I hoped we were talking about the people I thought we were talking about. But there hadn't been 12 of them.....what the FUCK was going on around here?

"No, I explained that to them. She wants to go home and get her flute and come in and play."

"She? explained that to them?" I was confused. Were we talking about the same people? Was she going to play the flute in her wet bathing suit?

"Yes, I told her you had a full restaurant, but she says she has 12 people in her group."

"Well, I don't have 12 seats" I explained calmly. "Would you like to order something?"

"I want a vodka and orange juice and soda water."

"Soda water? OK. Vodka, with OJ and club soda. Coming right up."

I made his drink and set it down in front of him. He drank about half of it. I returned with menus.

"Here are some menus. Do you want to order dinner now, or just wait for a bit?"
Two tables were signalling me frantically.

"I'll wait a bit, you made me the wrong drink."

I looked at him steadily.

"This was supposed to have cranberry juice in it."

"Um." I said. "Sorry. Shall I make you another?" He was already pretty much done with the first one. The one that I had made incorrectly. Apparently.

"Yes, please."

"Okay, vodka, orange, CRAN and soda water?"

"Yep. That's what I ordered. The cranberry is good for my stomach."

I raised an eyebrow, but didn't argue. "Okay, here you go." I slid the drink across the bar.

He ordered a few more drinks over the next hour, walking in and out of the bar, socializing and making small talk, and then sat down for dinner. After he had eaten, he stood up and walked out the door.

Without paying.

But at least he didn't leave a wet spot on the bar stool.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shopping for Jail - just as awesome as it sounds

Today I had to do the unthinkable.

I had to buy a pair of white, velcro-closure sneakers.

I totally feel like I need to take a shower.

You may remember a few weeks ago, when I was really struggling with how best to support a person I knew casually, who reached out to me after being arrested. I was chosen by default, as the only person he knew with a land line. Apparently, you can't call cellphones from prison. Who knew?

(Rhetorical question. You can totally plead the 5th on that, no need to incriminate yourself. Which I guess you already did, if you were in jail. Unless you took the 5th. Anyway. It was news to me.)

I decided that the best way to help this man was not financially - because there are no guarantees and I cannot afford a gamble. But I can help in other ways. Last week one of the girls from work managed to go get his wallet from the property officer, which was considerably more difficult than you would imagine. From what I can gather, you can only pick up remanded property two days a week, in the morning, between certain hours, and you can only pick up and drop off stuff every 6 months. And you can only call to schedule pickups and ask questions on totally different days, at totally different times. And if you want to get the prisoner any spending money, you have to mail a money order. And you can only do that once every 2 or 3 months. And if you want to drop off or pick up anything, you have to be approved - a process that requires providing your social security number, date of birth, and a bunch of other information that you would most likely prefer NOT to be giving out over the phone to people calling you from prison, who are going to write it on a piece of paper and then keep it with them, in their cell. With other people who are also in jail. You get my drift.

Point is, they don't make it easy to get stuff in or out.
It's like all of your rights have been taken away and you have no freedom any more.
Like you're in jail or something.


But I digress. My point is, I wanted to help. So - using his money - I offered to get him the things he cannot get "inside". Today he called with the list of allowable items, and I put the kids in the car to "go get uncle the things he needs for jail".

(And just to clarify - this guy is NOT their uncle. In Hawaii, "uncle" is a term used to describe men who are older than you. Same with Auntie. Biology and legal formalities need not apply.)

We went to Walmart, because they love us there. Surprisingly, Walmart not only had what we needed (a strange list, to be sure) but seemed to have it packaged in such a way as to make me wonder whether certain items of clothing were there purely for the purpose of being sent to prison. Or maybe the prison checked out what was readily available, and used that for creating their guidelines. I can't be sure, but it was pretty darn easy to check things off the list.

We started in the underwear department. Max was completely traumatized by the photos on the packages of men's bikini briefs - a product he declared "wrong" "disgusting" and "completely unecessary". (My relief was palpable. I never want to see any man - and certainly not my child - in bikini briefs.) After buying 5 t-shirts, 5 boxer shorts, 5 pairs of white socks, and the aforementioned totally awesome white velcro sneakers (I managed not to buy him the "Danskin" brand sneakers, a fact that I hope he will come to appreciate because I don't think the other guys in his cellblock would let that pass without a comment about his new ballet shoes or a query as to whether he had a leotard to match) I went to buy shorts. But they can't have pockets. And *all* the shorts have pockets. Then I tried to find sweatpants - because baby, it's cold inside. But those had pockets too. And drawstrings - also a no-no.

So I went over to the women's section, and found his some sweatpants and a sweatshirt that didn't say "Women's" on the tag and he's gonna get those and furthermore he's gonna fucking like it because DUDE I am out buying him a bunch of shit for jail. Like he has a choice at this point.

Then we went to get him the personal care items. Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant. Without alcohol. Which is harder than you might think.

I really wanted to get him this one:

But it just seemed mean to send a guy in jail deodorant that smells like "wilderness, open air and freedom". And what the FUCK does freedom smell like, you ask? Well, it smells fresh. Yes indeedy. But apparently, that freshness is from alcohol, so we had to put the freedom back on the shelf.

Oh, the irony. Shelving his wilderness and open air and freedom.
Moving on down the aisle, we had some alcohol-free options. We were struggling to decide between "After Hours" and "Showtime" scents, until we found the perfect one.

Just what every guy in jail needs.

A little Swagger.

And so, as soon as I have located three pairs of shorts without pockets (or sewn the pockets shut) I am going to ship out this care package. He is totally going to be the most popular guy in the correctional center, between his sexy deodorant, his ocean breeze shampoo, and his sweatpants that are designed (apparently, according the packaging) to flatter his curves.

I may have found my true calling: to be a stylist for prisoners. I'll bet that's a niche just waiting to be filled.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"What's in Your Purse?" the You So Crazy/hoarders/beside table edition

Since early November, my camera has been missing. It was a small point and shoot, nothing fancy but I really liked it and it took good pictures. The day after Christmas, I bought a replacement, having gone through the entire holiday season without a single photograph to document the festivities. I don't much like the replacement, which really bummed me out.

I had lost the perfect camera.

Last week, I found it on my bedside table. Under a box of kleenex, a jar of body butter, and a stack of receipts from a trip we took a year ago. My utter disgust at the condition of my bedside table really took a lot of the joy out of reuniting with my lost, beloved camera. The one that has been sitting a foot from my head for two months.

I threw away the receipts, cleared off the table, even sprayed some furniture polish. And tonight, a new pile of papers had reappeared.

I am clearly just a few weeks away from being featured on Hoarders - if only for the state of my bedside table.

Worried that I might discover a mummified cat amidst all of this crap, tonight I was making a desperate attempt to clean my bedroom. For obvious reasons. While I spend an inordinate amount of time encouraging, directing, and forcing my children to clean their rooms, I should really shut my big mouth and worry about my own room. I know this. I do. I get it. I am a slob. My mother will tell you all about it. So will previous landlords. I have an issue with clutter. I hate it, and yet I create it. I don't just have a junk drawer.....I also have a full sized junk suitcase. It used to be a junk box - but I ran out of room.

So tonight I sat down, determined to sort, toss, file and shred my way to inner harmony.

I should have just bought a vibrator, smoked a joint, and called it a night.

Because as I was going through the stack of papers on my bedside table that had reappeared in just a few short days, I was forced to see the written record of my recent antics.

Just the list of receipts alone was enough to give me pause.
-Popeyes fried chicken. Purchased en route to the airport after dropping off my teammates. I spent $20 on mashed potatoes, red beans and rice, and biscuits. Carbohydrates, anyone?

-Strip Club. The receipt was good for a free drink. But I was much too busy bonding with the strippers over our shared love of leg warmers and vagina glitter to have a drink. Besides, I was the designated driver.

-Car Rental. There were no bodies in the trunk when I dropped it off. I totally made sure of that.

-Airport Bar. $17.00 for a bloody mary that I had to drink in 5 seconds because I got moved to an earlier flight.

-Starbucks. Man, was I drunk after that bloody mary.

-Victoria's Secret. What can I say - the strippers inspired me. My purchases were heavy on black lace and leopard prints.

Toy Store. Some toy that makes a noise like a whoopie cushion. I'll take two!

Convenience Store. Tylenol PM and water. I was grateful in the morning.

Grocery Store #1. 2 cases of peppermint chocolate soy milk on special. What can I say. I have issues. And also: Bacon.

Grocery Store #2. Roast pork from the hot bar. Roast turkey from the hot bar. Tortillas. Don't ask.

Grocery Store #2, revisited. Two hours later. Because I didn't actually look at my list last time, I just sort of stalled out at the hot bar as you can see. So I had to go back. When I went back, they were sold out of the hamburger I needed for dinner. But I did get some more bread to help me eat more triple cream brie. And I got the veggies I was supposed to get in the first place. I am sure I'll have more on my list by the time I get back there tomorrow to try to buy hamburger for the third fucking time. Of course, i cannot guarantee that I will actually CHECK the list. But I'll have one.

Ross Dress for Less. Ross is hands-down the most ghetto store on the planet. All of their bras look used. And half of the boxes are filled with a completely different item than what is on the packaging. I mean, what is in the boxes doesn't even fit in the boxes. I have no idea why they bother re-boxing anything. Just sit down on the floor and eat some of those stale cookies in the "gourmet food" department, and give it up already. My friend posted a video about Ross tonight, and it is so, so true.

And right there is where I stopped reading the receipts, and just wadded them up into a ball and threw them in the trash. Whatever. Steal my credit card numbers. The accounts are all maxxed out now anyway, on account of the strippers and fast food and 3 trips to the grocery store in 5 hours. I could probably just tell the company my card got stolen and they'd believe me. I mean, who in their right mind would actually buy all that crap?

Monday, January 10, 2011

When the pole dancer is wearing the same leg warmers, you know you're in the right place

Ah, a weekend with the rollergirls.

During SK808, I spent 19 straight hours in 6 inch heels. I ate nothing but peanut butter cups, french fries, and some taco filling. And then I went to Jack in the Box.

I felt lke hell afterwards. My stomach still hasn't forgiven me. So the next day, when I had to run through the mall and dive into a bathroom stall just in the nick of time, I knew what to expect. Or so I thought. What I didn't know was that my underwear was full of sequins. And when I pulled my pants down, a bunch of sequins fell on the floor and the toddler in the next stall bent over and looked to see where all of the shiny things were coming from.

THAT was unexpected.

Boy, did she get her answer.

But I am getting ahead of myself. My day lasted long past 8 o'clock, when SK808 ended. After all of that skating and bad food, I wanted to have some fun. We went to the afterparty. I was the designated driver.

I know! What were they thinking? But really, I am an excellent designated driver, as long as I don't forget that I am, indeed, designated. And as long as I can't convince someone ELSE to be the designated driver.

And as long as I don't drink any Jack Daniels. WHICH I DIDN'T. Which means that by 10pm I was sober, and wide awake, and bored.

Somehow, *I* was the one who came up with the idea of finding a strip club. Not that it took a lot of convincing to gather a posse and head out into the night. And what a posse it was.

We scared the parking lot attendants. You would think they had seen everything, but they had never seen 11 rollergirls in varying interpretations of "clothed", fresh from the afterparty, all stinking from a day of skating and eating crap and sitting in a dirty warehouse.

Really dirty.

As in, there was a sign taped to the ground that said "Don't move this - there's shit under here".

As in, there was a 1/4 inch layer of some sort of abestos-laden dust covering everything.

As in, kids were playing in the porta-potties.

As in, I cleaned my ears this morning - 2 days and 3 showers later - and the washcloth was black.

So when one of the girls just lay down in the middle of the parking lot en route to the strip club, and another girl straddled her, and then all the other girls gathered around.......the parking lot attendants took pictures. They're on facebook.

And when we went inside, and one of the pole dancers sashayed out wearing my legwarmers, I had to check to make sure mine hadn't been removed. Which they hadn't - it was just a lucky coincidence that the naked woman rubbing herself 6 inches from my face was wearing matching legwarmers.

She was not amused when I proclaimed that we were practically twins. Except for the boob job. And the fact that she was 5 feet tall and asian. But whatever. Details.

But the matching legwarmers were truly the least remarkable thing about our merry little group. Let me tell you, 11 women in torn fishnets with helmet head and BO get a very mixed reception at a gentleman's club. But we are a very enthusiastic audience. It was like taking a bunch of kindergarteners to the circus. And giving them beers. And then showing them a bunch of different vaginas. With glitter. On poles.


Nevermind, bad analogy.

You know what I mean.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Put down the smartphone, you jackass

This past weekend, I was driving home. I saw this guy, about my age, pushing his daughter along on a shiny new 2 wheeler, while she wobbled back and forth on her training wheels. Her helmet was cockeyed, and she listed to the left, all while she was pedaling away with the energy and enthusiasm of a girl feeling the wind in her face for the very first time. Mouth wide open with a face of such boundless joy, she was a joy herself just to watch.

And her father, as he clung to the back of her seat, trying to keep her on the sidewalk, was talking into a cellphone. He was completely disconnected from this moment in time. Instead of enjoying it, and participating in it and maybe even taking a photo or something, he was yammering away with a serious face, clearly not involved in the once-in-a-lifetime moment for his child that was unfolding right before him.

She was oblivious, cackling with glee, head thrown back and streamers flying.

And I saw myself.

Not the little girl with the distracted father.

The parent who spends more time on my Blackberry than with my kids.

Oh, that's not strictly true, but it feels that way. I have gone in just 2 years from an old school cellphone that dangled from one half of a hinge, with a screen that was completely blank more often then not, that did not have texting or email or even a functioning speakerphone, to a shiny pink blackberry upon which I am completely dependent. And totally "connected".

Connected to the whole wide world......but not to my life.

And if I am not mesmerized by my email/facebook/twitter feed/texts/voicemail/NY Times, it is only because I am driving somewhere, or using my laptop. Usually I am staring at a screen, and giving vague answers to my kids questions while I frantically tap and scroll away.

When I saw that guy - when I was on the outside looking in and observing myself like some sort of twisted modern day stiletto-wearing version of Ebeneezer Scrooge - I felt ill.


It's not just me and that guy on the sidewalk - a few weeks ago two of my friends appeared to have a conversation on facebook while one hid in the men's room lamenting the singles scene, and the other was waiting for him at the bar.

I see parents every day taking a photo - and then spending half an hour trying to send it and post it and link it and tag it - while their kid wanders off alone, the photo session clearly over.

And on New Years Eve, as I went from table to table refilling champagne glasses, I frequently had to wait for someone to finish a call or text or tweet or status update before I could ask them if they would, in fact, like more to drink here in the real world, rather than the virtual one they appeared to be inhabiting. Peope were texting other guests at the same party, instead of going up and giving them a hug in person.
It was depressing. And in a sort of New Year's Resolution (though I am loathe to label it that, as I rarely make them and certainly never see them through) I decided I needed to make more of an effort to use technology the way it was intended - to supplement my life, not document every waking moment of it.

On Tuesday, Sam and I went out on a date. My Blackberry did not join us.
Wednesday night we went out for a family dinner. Blackberry waited in the car.

Blackberry, it's not you, it's me. I love you too much.
We're officially on a break. We can still hang out, we're just not going to be exclusive anymore.
I'm sure you understand.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Winter break is finally over. I hope the kids don't notice how excited I am.

Tomorrow, my little darlings go back to school. Sadly, most of the other schools on island are closed for another day, and so my mommy friends cannot share in my enthusiasm and breathless anticipation of tomorrow.

In addition to my children going back to school, conveniently my husband has the day off.

Yes, he does.

That's us - just two adults, minding our own business, footloose and fancy free, 6 glorious hours of peace and quiet. No pants required. Movies to watch, snacks to eat, pots of coffee to consume whilst snuggled up on the sofa.

Or maybe we will go to the beach! Lie around on the hot sand with our eyes closed, listening to music and chatting and perhaps sitting up for a few minutes here and there to sip a bloody mary, peering through binoculars at the whales breeching in the ocean at our feet. It's whale season, after all.

Yes, so many possibilities. Just the two of us.


And then my phone rang.
Pants are no longer optional. They will be 100% MANDATORY. And apparently, whale watching will have to wait for another day. Instead of 6 hours focused on the care and feeding of a grownup, my day will be focused on the care and feeding of someone else.

But Tuesday? Tuesday I am totally not wearing any pants. So, you might want to call before stopping by.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Oh dear, is my over-sharing light on again?

My mother can't stand to read my blog. It's too personal, she said. You reveal too much, she fussed. You never know who's reading it, she worried.

I'm not worried.

I started writing to vent and to exercise discipline. I wanted to find out - could I write on a regular basis, and come up with something relatively interesting to say?

Well........I can write regularly anyway. Whether it is interesting or not, is not for me to say.
But what is for me to say, is what I choose to write about.

And I write about my life - not to relive it, but to remember it. And more importantly, so that other people who are not here with me, can also be a part of it. It's not about telling my side of the story, but more about letting people - that would be you - get a peek into my head. Because I am willing to bet that some of the things I write about, whether it is my son struggling in school or my husband checking out the temperature of my ass or my family causing a scene in Walmart, or me quitting a job I loved because I felt like I had to, or deciding to try something new and crazy like roller derby - you can relate to it.

At least, I hope I am not alone. Maybe I am just fooling myself, and no one can relate to any of this, and you are all reading and shaking your heads and tut-tutting and thinking "That poor girl." You would follow me on google or share the link, but then people might know that you read this sort of trash.

And we really can't have that, now....can we?

So that's fine. I'll be your guilty pleasure. No hookers or scandals or lurid headlines....but I'll try to come up with something, and simultaneously avoid jail time. I'm going to Oahu with the Rollergirls this weekend - I better bring my laptop.