Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trying to explain my goal as a parent

For the past 10 years, I have told anyone who asked that my dream for my kids is that they be contributing members of their community.

I'm not talking about being an eagle scout, or volunteering for non-profits, I'm really just saying "I don't want them to be self-centered assholes".

I don't care what they do for a living. I don't care if they go to college. I don't care if they are straight or gay or married or single or parents or childless by choice. I don't care if they donate money, or time, or a used car. I don't care if they are religious, or not. I don't care what religion they believe in, as long as they put it in perspective, and show respect for others who may or may not share their beliefs.

I want them to be strong, healthy, free-thinking, honest people, with love and kindness and compassion in their hearts. I want them to treat others as they would want to be treated. I want them to honor their commitments, respect other people's property, and clean up after themselves. I want them to work hard, and enjoy everything life has to offer in moderation, with a healthy set of priorities.

I want them to flush the toilet after they take a dump.

That, right there, is the one we are working on these days. I don't think it's too much to ask. The morning that I walked into the bathroom and found a pile of dirty clothes in front of the sink, an unflushed toilet, 4 wadded up tissues on the floor around the trash can, and a wet towel on the side of the tub, I sort of lost the will to live. It was as though all of my shortcomings as a parent were summed up in that one tableaux, spread out across the bright white bathroom in a stark, filthy contrast to the gleaming tiles.

I don't mind picking up after them a bit now, but I need to see them take some responsibility for themselves. Straightening their room is one thing - straightening up their life is another. So I try to remind them in a loving and encouraging way. But that morning, when I came face to face with a situation that was god. I wasn't just lazy. Or unthinking. Or forgetful. It was downright disrespectful. And the assumption that someone else would come along after them and pick it all up? Well. I cleared up that misconception pretty damn fast. The bathroom is a bit of a proving ground. The way you leave a bathroom when you are done using it says a lot about how you approach other aspects of your life.

Almost as much as what you do while you are in there.

For instance, do you need absolutely privacy, a good book, and some quiet time? Do you have to run the water while you go either for encouragement or as a buffer? Do you work in there? Talk on the phone? Listen to the radio? Sing? My brother brought a beer into the shower with him and I thought that was genius.

It was like the last frontier.

I remember a while ago, hearing one mother scolding her son as he went into the bathroom because he took his sandwich with him, and thinking to myself: "I better add that to the list. Don't bring food into the bathroom with you." Seems so obvious. What are you going to do - eat with one hand and wipe your butt with the other? At best?

But at this point, I wouldn't even care, just as long as they flushed the toilet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

our homeschooling has dwindled to biting pretzles into letters.

Hi. You haven't heard from me in a while, because I am so deep in the ick it's hard to resurface.

You would think that as your kids get older, it wouldn't be such a big deal when they get sick. I mean, when a baby gets sick, it's just like one huge snotty poop-explosion of whining misery. When a kid is old enough to blow their own nose and wipe their own ass, it should be easier.

But it's not.

It started with a stuffy nose - Max had it for two weeks. I tried to ignore it. Alleriges. Or something. It wasn't slowing him down, he had no fever, he was eating and drinking just fine. And then he said his neck hurt. And his throat. And then he lost his voice.

And so it began.

Lucy got a little runny nose, and the cutest little sneeze to go along with it. Then she got kind of stuffy. And then, one fateful night, as I lay in bed......I heard the cough.

Are you familiar with a nebulizer? How about inhalers? Do you know what albuterol is?

If you answered "Yes" to any of those questions, you just groaned out loud and shook your head. Because the cough in the middle of the night? Means you aren't sleeping. Not that night, and probably not the next one either. It means you have to get your tired self out of bed, find something decent to wear because you're sleeping with your kid, and dig out the vaporizor. It means that you will fill the tank with water and turn it on in a daze, while closing all the windows and doors to the bedroom. It means you are rubbing some sort of eucalyptus-mentholatum greasy/creamy crap all over your kid's chest, ensuring that you will stink like BenGay for the next week. It means the cough will start as a short bark and probably progress to the deep, body shaking rumble. There may be a fever, there may not - but it doesn't much matter. It sucks just the same.

And since that fateful night, the night of the cough, my kids have been home. Lockdown. No playdates. No library. No school. No sports. No nothing except movies and hot baths and car rides to get more movies.

We had the distinct pleasure of spending two mornings in a row at clinic - the second time we went I forgot to bring the charger and the rarely seen Nintendo died in the waiting room after it's exhaustive use the day before. My phone was on it's last blinking bar in the parking lot, after 2 hours of Angry Birds. But we weren't done yet. We weren't nearly done. I had made the executive decision on this second day home from school that I was going to have to get back to my regularly scheduled programming.

I had to return the keg from Saturday night's art show.

So after the doctor's appointment the kids climbed back in the car clutching bottles of orange juice for the almost 2 hour round trip to the brewery - no phone, no video games, just me, Max, Lucy.....and the Beastie Boys. The road out to the west side is long and winding, cut into cliffs, sweeping along past beaches and crystal blue waters....and we rolled down the windows and bobbed our heads and sipped on our juice and sang along to every song (and yes, a few bad words were in there).

And it was fun.
It was fine.
Okay, it was bearable. We made it. And then we finally got home and they lay on the floors and climbed into laps and read books and built crazy Lego cities and I cooked their favorite dinners (yes I made two). Being sick wasn't so bad! We did some worksheets, practiced spelling words, and made some journal entries, trying to embrace the homeschooling vibe for an hour or so.

This morning, I woke up to find them dressed and eating breakfast.
"We're going to school." Lucy was firm.
"We gotta get back." Max was anxious.
"You are both still sick." I was frustrated - I wanted them to go back to school - GOD KNOWS I wanted them to go back to school. But they had circles under their eyes and their noses were running and I looked at Lucy suspiciously. "What about your cough."
"Cough? I don't have a cough anymore" she said innocently.

I raised an eyebrow. Max made a sandwich and grabbed his lunchbox.
"We're going to school, Mom."
"No, not if I say you don't."
"We're fine" Lucy was exasperated. She may have even rolled her eyes a little.

I went to brush my teeth, and when I came out they were standing next to the door. "Guys we don't have to leave for 20 minutes."

"We'll wait outside."
When we got into the car, Max was already blowing his nose. Lucy was wheezing As I turned on the ignition she coughed. I turned the car off.

"OUT." I pointed firmly at the house. They walked back inside sullenly.
"Lucy, why don't you make another journal entry?" I suggested brightly. She fixed me with a steady gaze. "We haven't done anything for me to write about."
"Write about returning the keg yesterday" Max suggested.
Lucy grabbed a bag of pretzles out of her lunch box and silently bit off pieces - then held it aloft, triumphant. "It's an 'e'!" she exclaimed. "And a 6!" Max chimed in. "AND A NINE!" they said in unison.

Oh for fuck's sake.

I was tired. Frustrated. This was dragging on forever. We needed to figure something out.
We had to try something new.

Which is why I was standing in our local eastern medicine shop, where everything is on small shelves reaching up to the ceiling, in colorful boxes and little glass bottles or has to be scooped out of a bin. Herbs and tonics and oils and elixers. If people have been using Chinese medicine for thousands of years, there's gotta be something to it, right?  "She's got a cough." I explained, pointing at Lucy, as she stood awestruck in the tiny shop with all of the delicate packaging and hand-written labels in a foreign language with letters she couldn't decipher. "And I think he has a sinus infection" I said, nodding at Max, who was over in the corner playing with the little jade amulets.

I bought a big bottle of syrup, and a box of lozenges, and 12 vials of a powder I was supposed to add to the syrup, and some oil to rub on their chest, or to sprinkle in their bathwater.

And tonight, no one is coughing. I hope they are okay, I coudn't read any of the directions on any of the packaging so I was sort of winging it, and I think one of the boxes said "snake oil" so I don't know what that's all about - but the kids said it tasted good and I don't think it can hurt and it this point?

I just want to sleep in my own bed without someone coughing directly into my mouth every 15 minutes.
So if it takes some snake oil, be it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Living with an alias

Don't tell the feds, but I am using multiple names.

You know how sometimes you are filling out a form, and it asks for "aliases or other names you have used" and you sort of laugh and skip over it (unless of course you are living under an alias in which case, are you really going to answer honestly? I think not) (or uness you are an asshole who would put something like "Mike Hunt" and then laugh hysterically).

I have my real name - the one that is on my birth certificate.
I have my married name - from the ill-fated first marriage.
I have my married name - from my second (current and forever) marriage.
I have the name I use to write.
I have my derby name.
I have my derby nickname.
And all of these people get mail at my house.

I also answer to "Mommy" "Auntie" and all variations of "honey" "sweetie" "baby" "hotstuff" and "legs" (that's a long story).
I have been known to turn around if someone says "Bitch" but only to see who I'm going to be kicking later.

When I am out with my family, I have one name.
When I am out with the team, I have another name.
When a collection agent is calling, I'm not home. No matter which name they use.

But here's where it gets tricky:

Just the other day, two of the girls from the team were over, and another friend stopped by. I went to introduce them and honestly didn't know what to say. I froze.
Derby Nickname? Because that's how I refer to them.
Derby Name? Geez, that's kind of formal.
Real Name? Gosh....I don't know. Calling a derby girl by her real name is, well, personal. There are people on the team who I have literally never - ever - called by their given name. Sometimes I have to think for a second, to remember what their legal name is. And sometimes their legal name is so fucking far from who they are in my head, that even though I know their name, I can't bring myself to actually call them that.

It just doesn't fit.

I don't know if they go by that name in real life, because it is so far from fitting. Does anyone call them that but their grandmother? REALLY?

And I was so befuddled, that I actually forgot the name of the friend I was introducing to the girls. I just blurted out their derby nicknames - the names I have saved on my phone, the names I use to refer to them in everyday conversation, their names - and then I stood there....frozen. Had I said the right thing? Had I just offended everyone in the room? Was that the wrong thing to do? Shit.

I had the same thing come up when I was introducing my parents to my teammates last month. I made an on-the-spot decision to introduce Hori Lori as Lori, because I didn't think my mother would be able to keep a straight face. Of course, she was so busy trying not to look at Noa's hotpants that she probably wouldn't have noticed.

(Cute boys in hotpants are very distracting.)

All this is to say that I am going to have some difficult decisions to make when I get my new driver's license, that's all.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

DIY leg lamp: you'll need plaster of paris, someone handy, and at least two bottles of red wine.

We did it, Jerz and I.

Faced with the challenge of creating a submission for a rollergirl fundraiser, everyone was making boobcasts and framing photos and painting these incredible works of art. My art skills are limited to coloring inside the lines. Barely. I color like a drunken sailor. I entered a coloring contest as a kid, where we were supposed to color in an outline of a Cabbage Patch doll printed in the local paper, and my mother told me my submission looked like she had the measles. I can't shade, I can't sketch, my figures all have stick hands and no necks and weird hair.

I am not artistic.

So when I heard all of this talk of boob casting I thought "Hey! I could do that!" Except when I lay down on my back my boobs are in my armpits, and when I stand up they hang down past my ribcage.

I was delusional, thinking that anyone would ever pay for a cast of these.
I am the reason they invented bras.
I went from a 38J (I'll give you a minute to get your head around that figure) to a 36A when I stopped breastfeeding - no surgery required.

These babies are all natural, and it shows.

So I sat around, trying to figure out if there was a body part I could cast that would be slightly less off-putting. Something people wouldn't mind having around the house. Something that could also be utilitarian, because I do like to be useful.

And then, I had an epiphany.

My husband is more of a leg man. (Thank god, right? Because if he was a boob guy this story would have a very different ending, clearly.) And my legs didn't gain 80 pounds when I got pregnant. They are in much better condition then the rest of me.
Especially when I remember to shave them.
Which isn't often.
Because I am lazy.
And they are quite long.
Which is nice. And which also brings me back to my epiphany.

Legs. As art. Useful art.
Enter: The Leg Lamp.
"AHA!" I thought to myself. "LEGLAMP. I will cast my leg and make a lamp."

And then, I told Jerz what I wanted to do and she said "A LEG IN A ROLLERSKATE!"

"OH MY GAWD!" I was beside myself. This was just getting better and better. And then Jerz dropped the bombshell:


Turns out she had a pair of old school skates that some kids had found in the jungle (don't ask how - this is Maui and trust me, you find weirder stuff than that in the jungle. Like a double decker tour bus. But that is a story for another time.)

So we set about making a set of leg lamps, in rollerskates.

There were a lot of details to attend to:
-cord switch, or pull chain? (pull chain - much classier)
-fishnets or sheer? (fishnets - torn for that authentic derby touch)
-fringe or no fringe? (no fringe - this is supposed to be classy, remember?)
-black lampshade or red lampshade? (red, because they had a matching pair at Ross)
-tattoos? (duh. Sailor on one leg, hula girl on the other.)
And we had to come up with a name for our entries - what would we call these amazing works of art?

Thelma and Louise
(with apologies to Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon and my aunt's cats.)

But first, we had to make the leg cast. This was a process that took the better half of an evening, so I invited the girls over for a dinner/casting party. The casting itself was arduous, mainly because we had gotten the partying out of the way before we began the art project. By the time my leg was wrapped in plaster of paris, I was ready for a nap. And as I stood there waiting for it to harden, watching Jerz get her leg wrapped in casting, I realized that:
1. plaster shrinks as it hardens, and
2. it was hardening really fucking quick, and
3. claustrophobia has many different triggers. One of which, apparently, is having your leg wrapped in casting material.

Who knew.

So I had what amounted to a nervous breakdown, and as my panic elevated, so did my blood pressure. And as the plaster swelled and hardened, the wrap was suddenly hard as a rock and 1/2 an inch thick, and my leg was forming a muffin top, spilling out of the cast.

And we couldn't get it off.

We tried scissors. We tried kitchen shears. We tried knives.
And he arrived home with both kids and a video camera. My panic was caught on tape as Max zoomed in on the extrication process. Jerz had her cast cut off first, as I glumly looked on, my fate already sealed inside rock hard plaster. Her cast was still wet and had some give, so I insisted that they get hers off "while they still had a chance". Because at this point I was getting quite dramatic, and making noises about having to go to the emergency room to get the damn thing cut off.

After Jerz had been freed - and let me tell you, we hooted like she had been trapped in a damn COAL MINE when that cast came off - they turned their attention to getting me out. There is an 11 minute and 43 second video of me hyperventilating and trying not to cry as my husband worked feverishy away, clipping and sawing and wedging and twisting and pulling this cast, front to back, side to side, inch by fucking inch. And finally, it came free and I flexed my knee and examined the bruise on the back of my leg, and swore to anyone who would listen that I was never going to cast anything ever again.


And so, dramatic rescue completed, we returned our focus to creating the most fabulous art project ever conceived. This went on for weeks. Hours and hours and hours of working away, sanding and shaping and painting and sketching and outlining. At one point, Lucy dropped one of the legs and I have to admit, I lost it. If only because the thought of having to recast my leg was so upsetting. Sami spent two days on them, getting each leg perfectly smooth (and quite frankly, enjoying himself a bit to much). He spent a good hour rubbing each one gently with sand paper, top to bottom, then filling them with chicken wire and spray foam, and finally fitting them in the skates.
They were painted, wired, tattooed, fishnetted, and ready to go the night before they were due:
(photo courtesy of Greek - thanks sweetie!)

In this photo, Thelma is on the left (and is actually the right leg) and Louise is on the right (the left leg).
As you can see, they make a perfect set, and so would be perfect as end lamps. They are also available seperately, though I cannot imagine how one would choose. And Sadly, they do not come with a '66 Thunderbird, or a youthful (and naked) Brad Pitt.
How unfortunate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Animal prints and Nantucket reds

I am completely exhausted. You see, I put away my clothes last night.

This is a colossal undertaking.

What happened is, I put it off, and put it off, and put it off, and finally, I just got embarrassed. Like, I could not possibly tell my kids to clean up their room or put away their clothes, because one of them would just walk over to my bedroom, glance inside, and raise an eyebrow.

It was clean in March, I swear to you my room was clean. My mom was here, and she stayed in my room. So in a blind panic before she arrived, I put away all of my clothes, and shoved everything else into the closet.


But now everything is still sort of in the closet, and then a whole bunch of stuff I have worn since then is on the chair, and then there's the laundry basket at the end of the bed and the shopping bag next to the door and the shopping bag on the other side of the bed and the haphazard stack of random mail/magazines/kid's art over there and the towels (clean! They're CLEAN towels!) on the end of the bed.

So I am going through the stacks and stacks of stuff - clothes, mostly - and I am struck by the disparity.

On one end of the spectrum, I have the Nantucket reds.

A pair of cotton shorts, not too long, not too short, the perfect faded dusty red that says "summer" to my Yankee self. You just want to pull them on and go for a sail with zinc smeared on your nose and maybe a scarf tied around your head.

And then on the other end I have a skin-tight ruched stretch satin animal print dress that puts the goods on full display. It speaks of a far different island - Long Island. And not the Hamptons if you know what I'm saying (and I think you do).

So I am putting away this totally random assortment of clothes, and stopping to marvel over how a person could own a striped polo shirt AND a pinstriped bustier that laces up the back with a wide satin ribbon. It is like four different people's closets, all dumped into one huge pile. I finally get down to the bottom, and realize that the stuff is really, painfully wrinkled. The kind of wrinkled where you have to decide if you are going to iron it, or just donate it to Goodwill, because it is so far gone.

Then you start finding the random shit that had been there from the days when your room was clean. Things you put down just for a moment, that ended up buried under stacks of clean clothes and paperwork.

Like the phone bill.
And 3 library books
And a to do list (that clearly listed "pay phone bill" and "return library books")
(and also "buy heartworm meds for dog" and "send Easter Cards")

About those Easter Cards.
See, I missed the cut off to send Christmas cards. And then I forgot to send New Years cards until February at which point I thought "let's make Valentines!" So we made two Valentines (I wonder where those ended up? Maybe under that pile of papers over there.......) and then I got distracted and we abandoned the project, along with $40 worth of valentine-themed art supplies (which, really, where is that bag of heart-sha0ped doilies and pink felt??)

I was feeling pretty lame about missing Christmas, New Years and Valentine's Day, and then I thought "Easter! we'll send out Easter cards!" which I dutifully added to my to-do list, here. And then I just put that list down for a minute, and the next thing you know it's May, the phone's been disconnected, the dog is out of heartworm meds, I owe $25 to the library, and I have a stack of cards with chicks and bunnies on the front and not a damn clue what I should do with them.

I think the best thing to do would be to smear some Noxema on my nose, tie this animal print dress around my head like a turban, pull on these red shorts, and go take a nap in my neighbor's boat that's parked across the street.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

1am, Mother's Day 2011: at the grocery store

We had a plan, dammit. Arrive around 9, grab a drink, buy some raffle tickets, bid in the silent auction, hang for a bit, and get home before the clock struck 12.

The best laid plans, indeed.

My decision to forgo the anti-depressants and soldier through what has been, admittedly, an emotional month, has left me sleeping a great deal of the time. It's not like I don't like to sleep anyway - it's one of my very favorite activities - but the combination of patchy employment and shitty weather has led me to spend an inordinate amount of time under my down comforter surfing the web. There are worse things, I suppose. But tonight, because I had A Plan, I climbed out of bed at 8pm - where I had been sound asleep for several hours - and started trying to find something appropriate to wear.

You wouldn't guess it, but living on an island in the South Pacific at 2,000 feet elevation, and heading to an evening event at sea level on the other side of the island, calls for some serious layers and guesswork. I could barely hear the radio through the din of the rain hammering away on our metal roof, and the wind roaring past outside, Sheets of water coursed down the windows while I put on one outfit after another, rejecting each one for different reasons:

Too long
Too short
Too slutty
Too casual
Not warm enough
Not sexy enough
Not comfortable enough
Not tight enough
Muffin top
Thunder thighs
Stretch marks
Wrong underwear
Too much underwear
Spanx required
An unfortunate choice
What the hell is that
It sure doesn't fit like it used to
You look like a middle aged whore

It took a while. And it was hard to imagine that in less than an hour I would be in a completely different climate - 20 degrees warmer, clear and calm, drier and quieter than my little neighborhood perched on the side of Haleakala. I finally left the house in an outfit that would keep me warm on the drive, but that involved enough layers to let me show sufficient skin - should I be so inclined. And it would have met with my mother's approval, so I knew it was safe to wear out on the town without my husband.

Because despite a text informing me (a bit conveniently, if I do say so myself) that his band had decided to look for a male lead singer, instead of the female one he had been so excited about, he was still on my list.

I picked up my girl Jerz and we hit the road, chatting and smoking and laughing. She was patiently breaking down the difference between straight, bisexual, and gay-all-day, while I bemoaned my broken gaydar that used to be so accurate, and the way that kids these days make it so damn confusing. We got to the bar, the host asked if I would MC, Jerz and I bought a bottle of wine, and all of our plans went flying right out the fucking window.

The end of the night found me smoking a Parliament in the parking lot with my dress around my waist fishing pieces of icing and crumbs of cake out of my bellybutton, where they had fallen while I had tried to enjoy the latest craze: cupcake-on-a-stick.

For the record, cupcake-on-a-stick has a serious design flaw. Which resulted in 45% of my cake going right down the front of my dress.

Once I had removed all of the debris from my navel, Jerz took the keys - because it was clear that I was distracted and she would have to drive. We headed over to Foodland to get a few things we needed before heading home: a sandwich and a box of tampons. I stood at the register shivering in the air conditioning, weaving ever-so-slightly and trying to calculate how long I had to stay awake before I would be reunited with my beloved down comforter.

It was 1am.

Mother's Day was off to an auspicious beginning, indeed.

I clmbed into bed just before 2am, and woke up a few short hours later. Sam had no idea that I had diverted from my original timeline for the evening, and was perplexed by my condition. The kids wanted to make me breakfast, I wanted a gatorade. We compromised and I got tea and bacon.

And so begins another year of parenthood in paradise. I make it look so fucking easy.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Playing out or played out - my husband and the new lead singer of his band

We have a pretty tight marriage.
I still make an effort to keep things interesting and embrace my devoted wifedom, he still looks like a rock star and treats me like a queen, and we are happy in our own little corner of the universe.

But GOD HELP YOU if you try to come between us.

Since the beginning of our relationship, he has played music. And I love it. Have I mentioned that I have a thing for bass players? Because I totally have a thing for bass players. And when I married one I wanted to grab the microphone during the reception and scream "See that hot guy playing bass? MINE. Sorry ladies, put your panties back on. Gramma, I'm looking at you." Because of course his band played at our wedding reception......WHY WOULDN'T THEY?

Which leads me to the band thing.

See, he's always played music, and occasionally been in a band, and even less occasionally that band has played out in public. And the only thing I had to worry about was making sure that the minute he got offstage, I paid close attention to his (ahem) fans.

Because there is a bass whore in every bar. Also lead singer, guitarist and drummer whores - but I was only concerned about the ones trying to lock eyes with my husband whilst grinding away to his bass line, so that they could share a moment where his music was really speaking to them.

You dig? Oh honey, it happens more than you realize. The number of middle-aged women I have had to escort from the edge of the stage - where they were pulling back their Maidenforms and begging for an autograph on their cleavage - back to a table of wildly giggling co-conspirators would Blow Your Mind.

My point is, the only time I ever had to really keep an eye on things was when he was in a bar, late at night, playing music for a motley crew of groupies. And I was never really that worried. This is not the A-list crowd. This is the "Hey, live music with no cover - let's go THERE!" crowd. Practices have never been my concern - they are usually comprised of a few guys in someone's basement for a couple of hours once a week. No major time commitment, and very few gigs. All was good.

But the times, they are a changing.
The guys have found themselves a new lead singer. And she's coming to practice tonight.

The queen is not pleased with this turn of events.

"Do you have a problem with this?" he asked me the other day.

And while my instinct was telling me to play it cool, I was surprised to hear myself say "If I said I didn't, I would be lying."

Shit happens.
Most people do not intend to have feelings for someone other than their spouse. And I see no need to go looking for trouble. I don't think that spending every Friday night hanging out with some chick is something I really want him doing.

"But there will be other guys there."

So it will be a bunch of guys, competing to see who can get her attention. Excellent. I might as well send you off in a tshirt that say "May the best man win". Because let's be honest. We are not that far evolved from the apes. You get a bunch of guys sitting around playing instruments for a woman in a small space, and there is bound to be some tension. Throw in a ride home, and a night checking out local venues, a few songwriting sessions and BAM - we have a situation far more dangerous than some drunk chick trying to climb onstage.

What, am I really the only person to think this?



Well, okay. I am okay with that.

And ladies, you can take your Sharpie pen and shove it where the sun don't shine. Consider your colon autographed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gas, trash and cash: No one rides for free - not even on a field trip

I drove on a field trip today. I usually drive, for a variety of reasons:

I am a control freak, for one.
I like to have things to do.
I like to be useful.
I like to make sure my kids aren't behaving like total assholes in public.

I also have discovred something startling over the past year or so. People drive without a valid driver's license, or registration, or insurance. People drive OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN without a valid license, or registration, or insurance. People also have a very "to each his own" attitude about things like seatbelts and booster seats.


Listen, I'm not uptight. I'm not. I think you know this about me.
But I can promise you this: I am the straightest of straight arrows when it comes to transporting other people's children.

And the parents all look so relieved as they drop off their kids and rush back to their quiet houses, or drive off with the surfboards hanging out of the back of the car.

Gosh. I wonder why they look so relieved. About 3 minutes into the drive, I start to understand. Someone has just learned the punchline "that's what she said." and dropped that line after every single sentence. By the time we got to our destination, one of the kids was just begging for the chance to use it:
"Just say anything, anything at all."

"Your breath stinks."



So as I was saying, I drive. I drive because I want to. I drive because my personality requires it. And in situations like today, I also drive because it is damn near impossible to find parents willing to drive on a field trip to the dump. I mean landfill. The Landfill. DO NOT CALL IT THE DUMP because the lady at the dump landfill will look at you sadly, with her pity for your ignorance barely veiled, as she explains that it's not a dump, it's a landfill.

Wait. I am starting to understand why everyone looked so relieved this morning. Fuck. No wonder no one volunteered to drive. I am spending my morning at the DUMP LANDFILL.

Well, at least we have a lovely tour guide, filled with all sorts of knowledge about solid waste. She seems thrilled to have us come visit. I can tell that she loves leading groups of obnoxious middle-school students, especially when she immediately hustles us into a conference room to explain that if the children make one false move, put even one toe on the berm, everyone will have to get back in their cars and leave the dump.

Now, she won't explain what a berm is, so the kids just hope to god they don't touch it by accident. She also won't ever explain the difference is between a dump and a landfill. You will have to figure that out on your own. She will speak of methane gas but seem stumped when asked what it is or how it is generated. She will regale you with tales of the garbage "juices" but doesn't really explain what they do with them. She won't know any shocking statistics like how much trash a single person can generate in a day (4-5 pounds on average) because "she deals with the trash, not the facts and figures". She's not sure what happens to the compost they produce with the greenwaste - although she does know that the greenwaste is combined with solid waste (translation: POOP!) and heated up - it's very scientific, don't you know (I hope you do, because she's a little fuzzy on the details).

Mostly she just seems relieved that we are leaving.

But I can assure you - I was more relieved than she was.

And the next time I drive on a field trip, I am totally making the other parents pay me to take one for the team. I accept cash, cabernet, or Starbucks gift cards.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I just wish we had all had a chance to punch him in the nuts or something.

This post has been edited to amend the quote that appears at the end, which I was sent on facebook and pasted in, having vaguely remembered the words attributed to MLK Jr. I should have done more research:

I was feeling melancholy today, as I listened to the stories on NPR about how they had found Bin Laden and shot him dead and buried him at sea. How the only casualties had been sustained by members of Bin Laden's family (or supporters or guards or soldiers or whatever their role was) at the compound he was holed up in. How they had taken only Bin Laden's body away with them after the gun fight, and left the others behind. How the woman who had been killed was used as a human shield - voluntarily or not, no one could say. How there had been children there. Children who may have just seen their parents killed, and were now left with their dead bodies, still warm with the life that had sustained those very children until that moment.

There is no doubt in my mind that Bin Laden was a man with a sick and twisted mind. One who's belief system was skewed. One who had brought death and destruction and panic and tragedy to cities all over the world. And I have nothing but respect for the soldiers who have spent the last 10 years trying to stop him, trying to find him, trying to keep at least one step ahead of his orders, to stem the tide of violence that he unnleashed in the name of God. Bin Laden is the Hitler of our generation, in a way.

But while I am relieved he is out of the picture, that the team sent in to find him did not sustain any casualties, that he's just dead, and not in a prison plotting his escape, or recruiting more foot soldiers for future acts of terrorism......I don't feel like celebrating.

It's another death. But it doesn't make anything better. Our soldiers are still mired in that godforsaken land of mountains and caves where they risk their lives every day. The people who have perished in the acts of terrorism, and in the subsequent fighting, are still gone. Those children at that compound in Pakistan still have to live with what they witnessed and experienced that day when life as they knew it ended.

I feel none of the enthusiasm that seems contagious at Ground Zero and in front of the White House. In fact, the voices chanting and cheering make me feel uncomfortable. Make me concerned for where we will go next. What will tomorrow bring? I know one thing - it won't bring anyone back.

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Queen o'the May

May 1st.

It's May Day. Lei Day here in Hawaii.
Today was also the day of an anniversary, a celebration, and a big announcement.
I woke up early, cotton mouthed, reeking of tequila and hairspray, with a faint outline of my red lipstick hanging on for dear life, barely visible from the night before. I sat up slowly, and looked around the room with one eye cautiously open, assessing the situation. My party dress (which I am 95% sure is actually a shirt - but I wore it as a dress, so we'll call it a dress. Humor me.) was in a ball at the end of my bed. My strapless push up bra was only pushing up one side - the other cup was empty, it's contents having migrated to my armpit at some point as I slept. I tucked the escaped chesticle back into place, ran my hands through my hair and glanced at the clock.

6:08 am. May 1st.
May 1st.....what was significant about that date. May 1st. Hm. Oh. Wait. Yeah.
May 1st.

10 years ago at 6am on May 1st we were packing up the car and heading to Children's Hospital in Boston, to have Max's right kidney removed. He was 4 months old. It was, to be blunt, a terrible time for us. I have written about it before, and I am not in the mood to revisit it this evening - but it was certainly on my mind at 6:08 am this morning. Since I was still feeling woozy, and now I had the memories of that awful day running through my mind on repeat, I brushed my teeth and climbed back in bed.

Sami poked his head into our room sometime......later. "Hey, don't you have to be somewhere at 9?"

I opened my eyes - both of them, this time - and tried to bring the clock into focus. I blinked and rubbed my eyes and looked again.
Fuck. Today? This day? Was already kicking my ass. AND I WAS STILL IN BED.

I made my way down the hall to the kitchen, wrapped up the tiniest pair of pink cowboy boots you could imagine, cleaned myself up, assesed whether I was sober enough to drive, and headed out the door to see my girlfriend and celebrate her rapidly approaching due date.

In general, I have a rule about baby showers.
I don't do baby showers.
I stick my toe in the baby water every now and again, to see if I can handle it. And at this point, all I can say is this: I'm getting better. But I still shy away from anything related to pregnancy. It's not jealousy, it's's hard. Having a hysterectomy at 30 is hard. I am thrilled for my friends who are able to get pregnant. And I love me some babies. But seeing pregnancy in action still makes me sad. However, today I had not a moment of sadness - I was thrilled to be on the guestlist, and relieved that I had been asked, since the honoree knows how I feel about baby showers and pregnant women. My girlfriend has made a tremendous effort to be sensitive to my sensitivity. Her generosity in the face of my self-centeredness is honestly something that I cannot explain without feeling like a total asshole. She is the one who understands how many pieces my heart broke into when I was told that I was a fertility failure. She is like the Olympic medalist of motherhood, and while she is out there channeling her beautiful, powerful earthmother self, making it all looks so easy and beautiful, she somehow simultaneously makes me feels less crazy, and forgives my distance. Before sending the invitation, she took the time to call, and ask me if I was up for it. Her kindness is something I don't think I can ever repay. So you can bet your ass I went to her baby shower, which was the most low-key baby shower ever. A lovely breakfast under a gnarled old tree in a courtyard, with the sun filtering through the leaves onto the lacy tablecloths, and beautifully wrapped boxes of sweet pink outfits all stacked up, to be opened and passed around and admired. I was able to relax and visit with my friend, grateful to be there, and excited about a new baby to snuggle.

I sipped my tea, drank some juice, and I was feeling so gosh darn good, I even attempted to eat the eggs benedict. Beautiful, delicious, fresh, lovely...but 10 hours after binging on tequila, I probably should have stuck with toast.

A point that was made clear when I clapped my hand over my mouth and ran for the restroom at the beach  a few hours later.

So unfortunate.

But immediately afterwards, I Felt Awesome.

I went home, changed, and headed off to a fashion show - feeling very fancy INDEED. I steered cear of the bar and also the food, and wandered the studio after the models had shown off the latest designs. And I looked down at my phone to see a message that said "Osama is dead."

I headed home to get the scoop. Sam was fixing dinner and as I walked by I said "They killed Obama."

"WHAT!?" he shouted from the other room, rushing in to peer over my shoulder.


I corrected myself, and then showed him the headline so he would believe me. Not Obama the president, Osama the guy in the cave mansion with a satellite phone.

After seeing the headlines, he believes me, but he just can't believe what a moron I am. I honestly don't know which I prefer - to have someone believe I am telling the truth, or have someone believe I am a total idiot.

And so here we are. My boy is strong and healthy. A baby is coming soon. And ding dong, Osama-not-Obama is dead. Not a bad Sunday.