Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reason number 8,435,651 why I should not be allowed in Walmart

After that last post, which was admittedly overly long and poorly written (Venting! It does a body good!) I'm offering a respite. The olive branch of blogging. A post that says "Sorry for all of that blah blah blah back there, how about a nice photo post?"

A picture really does say a thousand words. So here you go:

I have a habit of causing trouble in Walmarts across this great nation, and yet they continue to let me in.
Exhibit number 1 - the adult tricycle. I took it for a very thorough test ride. I recommend you do the same.


(photo credit goes to Lil Bo, who hadn't yet discovered the jeggings on clearance at the time of this photo - otherwise she would have been far too busy to document my adventure, and I would have been wearing jeggings.)

A foodies lament: I stopped eating, and man....I got a lotta free time now.

Just recently something has been brought to my attention:
A huge part of my day is taken up with food. Glorious food.

Meal planning, food shopping, meal prep, and then my favorite: Eating. I love to eat. I could eat all day, every day. And I'm not just focused on quantity - quality counts too. I will drive clear across the island to get a special kind of corned beef hash. I have been known to plan entire vacations around the places I want to eat - and when. I am a good eater. An adventurous eater. My limitations are few, my enthusiasm is great.
Then about a month ago, my tummy started to bother me, and that all came to a screeching halt.

Confession: I haven't eaten more than one meal a day since July. In fact, I have not eaten a full meal since July. I have ordered food and then pushed it around my plate and stared at it and then stood up and walked away with nary a regret or backwards glance. This is unheard of. I am a founding member of the clean plate club. I have never ever ever EVER counted calories. I just don't have a lot of food allergies or issues.

(This is not me.) (At all.)

I have lots of friends that have to follow special diets, for medical or ethical reasons - so I can understand, respect, and truly empathize when people have trouble finding something that they can eat - but it's never been an issue for me. Even when I was at my very heaviest after having a baby, I didn't limit myself. I will happily eat bacon all day, every day. Dairy is this woman's best friend. In times of stress, you can count on me to disappear for 20 minutes and come back clutching a cheeseburger. I am the one with a granola bar in my purse and snacks in the glovebox, and I buy groceries like some women buy shoes. I am not afraid to eat a little junk food now and then, either. A few weeks ago I ate a fucking SLIM JIM. It almost killed me, but dammit I ate every last bite of that disgusting thing. And a HoHo. I also ate a HoHo. Same day. Same car ride. A Slim Jim and a Hoho. That was my afternoon snack. What can I say........I had the munchies.

What I'm trying to say is: Me and food? We love each other.

Those days are, sadly, over. I feel adrift in a sea of very unappetizing-looking fish. I tried to read "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" last night to the kids before bed, and had to stop halfway through to take a hit of Maalox. Sami bought me a box of HoHos last weekend, and they are sitting in my pantry untouched. It's a reality check, and I don't like it one bit. At times, I am so hungry I could eat my own arm. But red meat has been making me super nauseous, so guess even that analogy doesn't work.

I've made a lot of changes besides eliminating red meat. No fried foods - 4 potato chips had me sick for 4 hours. No chocolate - one of my beloved Peepsters had me doubled over and begging for mercy. No coffee - because with a totally empty stomach that stuff makes me feel like my chest is going to explode. No wheat, because it makes me feel instantly full and uncomfortable. And god help me, no cheese. Just....let's not even go there. No cheese. And I can only imagine what would happen if I were to drink alcohol. I'm afraid I'll get completely shitfaced almost immediately, and then everything else will happen.

Red meat, fried foods, chocolate, liquor, coffee - all out. Basically, my entire diet is down the toilet.

So my solution is, I'm not eating. It's easier that way, and certainly more pleasant. Well.....pleasant is a relative term. Take today, for instance. We were at one of my very favorite restaurants. I wanted steak bites and french fries with the spicy mustard sauce, dammit, and instead I ordered some gelatinous noodle stirfry crap with plain rice. Not even a scoop of mac salad to go with it. A travesty. The whole thing was a fucking travesty. I wanted to cry, honestly. It would be so much better if all of this restraint led to me looking and feeling better. But I haven't lost an ounce, and I feel like crap on a cracker. Not that I would know - I can't eat crackers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Shaking up the Peppermill - no pants required

As I mentioned earlier, one of my very favorite parts about the Vegas trip was the fact that I went for 5 full days without wearing pants.

Have I mentioned that I love Las Vegas? In many ways, Vegas is depressing and seedy and sort of scary dirty. But in other ways it is full of awesomeness. Like in the ways of not wearing pants. It's not as though I was lounging about in my suite, or swanning around poolside.....I left the hotel every single day. I was shopping, eating in restaurants, working, and attending meetings. Without pants.

How is this possible, you ask? Well, it's partly the spirit of the event I was attending, and partly because the cocktail waitresses in every casino are rarely wearing pants.

Mostly, it was because The Peppermill Las Vegas is the awesomest place on the face of the planet.

One would be hard pressed to "sum up" the Peppermill. Half of the restaurant is actually a lounge with water features surrounding firepits all snuggled up between banquettes. And the cocktail waitresses are in floor length black gowns, carrying cocktail trays. And yes, they have a Scorpion Bowl.

But then, the other half of the restaurant is this crazy Alice-In-Wonderland-meets-50's-diner mind fuck. The waitresses on this side are dressed in little pastel pinafores and white blouses, almost Mormon-esque in their innocence. These girls don't serve alcohol - if you want booze they send over one of the ladies in black to take your order for the devil's juice. The tables are lit with neon and surrounded by white trees with christmas lights, everything is carpeted and cushioned and upholstered to within an inch of it's life.

It's open 24 hours a day with the full menu served the whole time, and when I marched in on three different occasions without any pants on, no one batted a carefully mascara'd eyelash. Heaven on Earth.

So if you find yourself in Vegas at 3am, and your pants are missing, and you are craving a bowl full of spiked punch and maybe some mashed potatoes (and who hasn't been I right?) you should go directly to the Peppermill where they will treat you like royalty, even if the emperor isn't wearing any pants. I mean, clothes.

And then afterwards, I suggest a nice nap over at the Cosmopolitan. That place is pretty cool too.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In the pink.

Mom, and all of my aunts: this post is what we would call Too Much Information.

Last night I was trying like hell to explain some of the Portland exploits to my husband.

The problem was two-fold.
A. everything needs to be ever-so-slightly filtered because he has to see these girls again, and be able to maintain eye contact.
B. some of the things we say and do as a group are just not appropriate for sharing. In fact, some things that were photographed on my phone had to be deleted, because after reviewing them in the light of day I am pretty sure the activities being documented were illegal or incriminating, or at the very least certainly appear that way. One photo actually caused me to drop the phone and cover my eyes and scream. And scream.

And scream. Oh my god, there it is again in my memory, why did I even bring it up.


Anyhooo I was trying to tell Sam a story about "the pink". Sugar was talking about it at the strip club, how pretty it was, etc., and I had no idea what she was referring to. She had to explain that she was talking about, uh, you know..... girl parts. Sugar is an aesthetician reknowned for her bikini waxing abilities - and the girl knows her way around girl parts. AKA, apparently, "The Pink"

True confession time: I don't know anything about girl parts, other than their basic layout and mechanics. I would be a terrible bikini waxer because I would be so distracted by the area I was supposed to be waxing. It would be like a very belated anatomy class - I can say with all honesty that until our big night out at the Acropolis, I had never examined a woman's crotch up close - not even my own. I'm not that flexible, and I don't own a hand mirror, and I dropped out of science after "Survey of Physics" so it's never been on my agenda. I figured Sam, who is quite familiar with the female body and our various parts, and has seen them up close on occasion, would know what I was talking about when I said "the pink". He did not. Not a clue. I tried not to be insulted - you gotta love his innocence. Our marriage has been a life-long education for this poor man.

In an effort to enlighten him, because I am ALL ABOUT continuing education - You are never too old to learn, people - I explained about the pink, and he and I had a good laugh about how I didn't know what it was, and he didn't know what it was, and how in the hell we managed to figure out the mechanics of sex without a therapist and a textbook, and that I vaguely remember Sugar kindly offering to show me the pink - an offer that I remarkably did not take her up on in the parking lot of the Acropolis.

I know, shocking.

So while we all sit here and lament the missed opportunities in life, and the photos I'm not gonna share with you, Sam is going to run out and buy me a hand mirror. He is such a gentleman. I, on the other hand, am calling Sugar.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Exploratory surgery! I hope Dora will be there.....

So with all of these tales of travel and strippers and roller derby, it's been pretty easy to skip over the fact that I have been sick. I wrote a few blogs about it, but haven't posted them because A. That shit is not funny or entertaining and B. Cry me a fucking river, you know what I mean?

But I figure now is a good time to get you caught up with as much humor as I can manage to find in the situation that is pretty devoid of humor. For starters, I had to go to the hospital while I was on the East Coast, because my tummy hurt. Yeah, I know. Grow a pair, Daffodil. You don't go to the ER because your tummy hurts. You take some Immodium and eat a banana. But I'm allergic to bananas, and frankly, after day 3 of feeling like I was maybe going to turn completely inside out, I decided that before I flew to Vegas, I should probably get checked out.

Within about 10 minutes I was on an IV, but they insisted I would be Vegas-ready in a few hours. But in a few hours I was being wheeled off for a cat scan, and then prepped for surgery. As the nurse attached the heart monitor I looked at her and said "Dorothy, I don't think we're going to Vegas anymore." "It's not looking good" she agreed, "but don't give up hope!"

The surgeon arrived and we quickly decided that I didn't want to have emergency surgery, and that it looked like it didn't need to be done right away, and more tests should be done, and dammit I wanted to go to Vegas, not have my stomach cut open.

I won.

So they took out the IV, and I peeled off the ledes in the parking lot, and then we went to CVS and got some medication "just in case" and then I went to Vegas.

Vegas was tough for me. I'm not gonna lie. I mean, there was still a lot of debauchery, but I was a witness more than a participant. There was also a lot of walking, and I wasn't in any shape to be trucking up and down the Strip in 6 inch heels. I managed, of course, but it was probably ill-advised. I came home absolutely exhausted. And then I turned around and headed off to Oregon with the team.

Between Vegas and Oregon, I got some rest in Seattle, and some more rest at home. That is, between the tests. Ultrasounds, blood tests, physical exams....and even with all of that, they haven't decided what is wrong. Maybe it's nothing, maybe it's something, maybe it's one of these:

Which is where the exploratory part comes in.

My abdomen is truly the last frontier. Which is why I am totally wearing a Dora the Explorer backpack to the hospital, with all of my x-rays and lab results inside. And  lip balm. My lips always get so dry in the hospital.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If I smelled like unicorns, I'd be dancing around naked too.

Our last night in Portland was a respite from the cold and stress of 3 days playing some seriously grueling derby matches. The only sensible thing to do was head directly to the nearest steakhouse stripclub, and get real drunk.

And the place to do that in Portland is The Acropolis. For $10 you can order a steak and a beer, and eat it while naked women try to keep their nipples out of your baked potato. That's not a euphamism, by the way. You really have to watch that potato.

Because there are no strip clubs on Maui - and trust me, we've looked - we are pretty easily impressed. If you can actually move around, and be entertaining, we'll be happy. If you're especially limber, all the better. If you are beautiful, covered in tattoos, with cool hair and lots of piercings, and tell us about your daughter who wants to be a derby girl? You have yourself a captivated audience.

We had found a clear favorite in Jenna, and she played to her audience. Not only was she personable and nice to look at, she also smelled amazing. That's not just me being weird - we all noticed it. Maybe some of us were distracted by lack of oxygen, due to her wrapping her legs around our necks in some sort of mind-blowing stripper headlock, or thrown off when she blew on our cleavage, but my god it was really something.

We didn't make it rain - we made it pour, to the best of our broke-ass abilities.
And when we stumbled out of that bar, calling our goodbyes and thanking our servers, and friending Jenna on facebook, I think they were sad to see us go. "She smelled amazing." someone remarked as they lit a cigarette. "Like rainbows." another girl agreed. "She smelled like unicorns." one girl said dreamily as she climbed into a cab. But we weren't headed back to the hotel to rest up for our flight home. Oh no. We had another stop to make before we resumed life as responsible adults. And that stop was Devil's Point.

It was time for some stripperaoke.

Sadly, it wasn't the night for firedancing - so no one was going to light their nipples on fire or anything exciting like that - but we love strippers and we love karaoke, so we knew it was going to be a good time. Especially when two of our teammates got onstage to sing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with Berlin. By the end of the song, the stripper was not the only person with her top off onstage, and while the dancer kept her business covered, one of the rollergirls had her skirt around her waist. She wasn't wearing any underwear. The entire bar was on it's feet screaming, and money was flying through the air as they finished the number in a blaze of glory, one girl straddling the stripper who was on her back playing a mean air guitar while the other derby girl was behind them grinding and singing her heart out.

It was a sight to see. And I have to say, it must have been a hard act to follow. I have no idea what happened next, because at that point the bar was closing, and I was busy calling cabs. Berlin came outside while we were waiting, and we introduced ourselves, told her how much we had enjoyed her performance, and promised to come back and see her the next time we were in town.

I am already working on my karaoke song.....I just have to figure out how to smell like Jenna. And I promise to wear underwear.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

GPS = Got Played, Sucker

Yesterday was my kids' first day of school. I wasn't home for their triumphant return to the hallowed halls of education, however.

Yesterday morning dawned with me passed out in a bed at the Marriott in Portland, Oregon. A bed I had climbed into around 4am.
Nice bed. Wish I had been in it for more than two hours. But you see, there were $6 steaks and $10 pitchers and naked women that smelled like unicorns, and something called "Stripperaoke".

So I had been up late. What can I say? Priorities.

Because we had an 8:45am flight, we had to be up and at 'em early. So when the buzzer went off at 6am I fumbled around, found a button that silenced the alarm, and hit the shower. There were two girls asleep in the next bed, and another couple on the sleeper sofa. I figured if I got in the shower first, I would have the best shot at getting to a Starbucks before we left for the airport.

I pulled on some sweatpants and a tshirt, completely forgoing a bra (all the better to avoid a delay at security!) and stuffed everything into my bag, then headed downstairs to get the car from where it had been parked down the block. Dawn was breaking, and one by one, rollergirls were emerging from their rooms. Limping, silent and bleary eyed, covered in bruises and still sort of drunk, they assembled in the lobby slowly, standing up gingerly only to get a cup of coffee from one of the thermoses on the counter. I watched them through the plate glass windows as I walked along the sidewalk in front of the hotel, sprawled out across sofas and squatting on suitcases. One girl was talking up the front desk staff.

I parked the car in front of the hotel and  tossed the keys to one of my passengers as I headed towards the elevator to get my bags and make sure my roommates were out of bed."Good Morning" I whispered as I pushed open the door, trying to speak softly so as not to alarm or startle anyone in the still-dark suite. People were just starting to rally, so I gave everyone the heads up that one of the other cars was about to leave, and I headed back down to start putting bags in the trunk. When I got back to the loading zone where I had left the car, I found the doors open, the tailgate up, trash blowing out of the backseat, suitcases on their side, and one small, Conversed foot sticking out of the back door:

Clearly this was going to be more difficult than I had anticipated. As I approached the open tailgate, the first car full of teammates drove off to the airport. The girls in that car liked to get checked in early, and have some time to eat - so after surveying their bleary-eyed fellow travelers, they made the decision to hit the road and let everyone else work their shit out and get to the airport in their own time - or not.

And to be honest, it wasn't looking good for my car. Our flight left in two hours, the gas gauge was on empty, two of the girls were still in bed, another one was passed out in the backseat, and I had no idea where the airport was. I also had no idea when rush hour was, but I had a feeling we were about to get royally screwed.

Typing "PDX" into the navigation system on my phone, I was relieved to find that we only had about 15 minutes of driving. We were the last car to hit the road, but the GPS wasn't making any sense. It kept "recalculating" and sending us in different directions, and after a few minutes of driving in circles trying to follow the GPS map, I found myself behind another car carrying our teammates, heading over the bridge towards the airport. The GPS warned me that I had a left-hand turn coming up, so I slowed down to a crawl, turned on my blinker, and started to turn left, following the rental car in front of me. Which was when I realized that we were turning onto a one-way, multi-lane street - heading the wrong way. I swerved out of the turn and back onto the road, and headed to the next light, while the car I had been following, the one carrying my teammates, continued into the oncoming traffic.

I watched in horror, but quickly had to turn back to the road in front of me and follow signs through the road construction to the highway. I was suddenly concerned that perhaps no one was going to make it to the airport on time. Between traffic, road construction, and a homicidal navigation system, it was looking pretty bleak. Which was when I got the text from the car that had left first, all organized and put together and early:

"GPS sent us to the wrong airport. 45 minutes away. Stuck in traffic. Hold the plane."

It took us a few minutes to process. The wrong airport. Rush hour traffic. I panicked. "What if we are going to the wrong airport too? Oh my god, someone please make sure we are going to the right airport." everyone was reading the passing signs, and suddenly one of the girls pointed - "That sign says PDX - we're in the right place." I took a deep breath, but I didn't feel any better. I dropped everyone off and went to return the car, asking Jersey to print out my boarding pass for me since I just had a carry on bag anyway, and I needed a minute to myself.

The woman checking in the cars scanned my windshield, then put down her scanner on the hood of the car and put her hands on her hips. "What's your name?"

I froze, and looked up from the backseat, where I had methodically been going through pockets and bins to make sure we had removed all of our belongings. I had just found a ziplock with something that smelled suspiciously like a pot cookie and contemplated eating it, but now I was sure I was about to be arrested for contraband baked goods, and had lost my appetite. I threw the baggie under the seat.

"What? Why? What's wrong?"

"This is the THIRD CAR that has been returned this morning under this name. Am I on Candid Camera or something?"

"Oh, no. Sorry. I reserved 4 cars for our team under my name. There is actually one more on it's way back here.....sometime."

She looked relieved. "So I'm not crazy?"

"Well, I'm no mental health professional, but I can tell you this - you are going to have 4 cars returned with the same renter's name on each car." Now that I knew I wasn't about to get frisked, I was busy digging the ziplock out from under the seat where it was lodged in the track. That cookie was mine.

"Okay." She was tapping away on her scanner. "It won't let me check your car back in."

I yanked the bag free and eyed her warily. "Why not?"

"I don't know." She was cheerful, and smiled as she handed me a slip of paper. "Just bring this downstairs."

I threw away the trash and the cookie, and headed off to the rental desk in a sour mood. They fixed whatever was broken, processed the return, and I walked towards the terminal and the security checkpoint. I was so paranoid that my hands would smell like pot cookie, I could barely meet the TSA agent's eyes. I grabbed a sandwich and some magazines and walked slowly to the gate, where they had begun boarding. As we stood in line, the girls in the misguided car came running through the airport, carrying their shoes, dragging their bags, jackets and scarves trailing behind them, tearful and breathless. We hugged and cheered and everyone got on the plane. Or almost everyone.

When we landed safely 6 hours later, we found out that two of our skaters had fallen asleep at the airport and missed their flight.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sleeping in the Grand Marquis. The car, not the hotel.

There are times in life where I find myself in a moment of clarity (trust me, it doesn't happen too often) and I will look around and think "What the fuck are you doing?" Happened quite a few times in Vegas, usually when I found myself wandering through the casino floor at 3am without any pants on - but that is a story for another time. (A time which is coming soon, don't you worry.)

Last week (which was admittedly, a doozy) it also happened at Boston's Logan Airport. I was just back from Vegas, where I had not slept more than a few hours at a time for days on end. I was exhausted, dehydrated from all of the disgusting recirculated air, and probably on the brink of scurvy from vitamin deficiency. I had driven through the night to pick up the kids, and now I was bringing them back to Boston for our trip home. The kids and I had a 6 am flight, so I had planned it all out in my mind: day at the museum, dinner with friends, return rental car, sleep at airport hotel, catch 6 am flight. As I sat in the Museum of Science that afternoon I pulled up a travel site on my phone and made a reservation for that night. It took a few tries - something was wonky with their search engine, or maybe with my phone reception, but whatever it was I finally worked it out, got a confirmation number, and we went off to dinner.

After dinner, as darkness fell on the streets of Boston, we said goodbye to our friends and drove off towards Logan to return the rental car. Before getting on the highway, I pulled over to get the address of the hotel I had reserved, thinking we would check in, drop our bags, and then return the car - that way I wouldn't have to schlep 3 suitcases and 4 carry-ons all over creation. I pulled up my email to find the information, and discovered that......there was no confirmation email.


I called the website on which I had made the reservation, and was cheerfully informed that while I did get the screen that said I was confirmed, and had a booking number, I did not actually have a reservation. I looked at the clock. 8:45pm. I had to return the car, and would have to straighten this all out afterwards. Big airport, lots of hotels to choose from, no problem  but what a pain in the ass. We stopped for gas, returned the car, got our bags out, hopped on the shuttle to the airport, and went inside to the booth that had phones for all the airport hotels. I scanned the list and started calling all of the properties that I thought we could afford. No answer. Busy. No answer. Sold out. Sold out. $359 a night. Sold out.

Oh. Fuck.

To my credit, I did not collapse in sobs on the floor. Instead, we went up to the ticketing counter to try to check our bags for the flight the next morning - my thinking being if I could just get rid of these damn bags, I would have less to keep track of, and we could just hop on an airport hotel shuttle bus and go crash for a few hours. Every motel in Boston could not be sold out. That would be ridiculous. Then I checked the time.

It was 10pm.

The ticketing counter was closed.

I sat down and put my head in my hands.

That's when Lucy piped up: "Mommy, where are we going tonight?"

Because, you see, it wasn't just me sitting on my suitcase in the airport at 10 pm. I had my kids with me. And mommy had no fucking idea where we were going that night. I calculated times in my head. IF I could find a hotel room now, and IF the hotel had a shuttle, it would be, what, 30 minutes before we could get a room? An hour to get them to bed? And then wake them up again at 4? I needed a hotel close by. Preferably IN the airport.

I looked up and saw "HOTEL" with an arrow. It was like a miracle.

"We are going to the Hotel!" I said it cheerfully, even though I knew that walking up to the desk of this fancy hotel without a reservation would cost me dearly. And considering that we had - at best - 6 hours before we would have to leave the room and go back to the airport for our flight, I was pretty horrified by this turn of events.

So we dragged all of our belongings along the skybridge, through the parking garage, and into the hotel. Down long carpeted corridors, past endless conference rooms on that dizzying floral hotel carpet. Up an elevator. Down an elevator. At last we arrived at the front desk, where there was quite a crowd of people waiting to check in.

I knew it before the guy behind the desk said a word.
Sold out.

We trudged back upstairs and collapsed on the couches. The kids were remarkably cheerful. I contemplated trying to get them to sleep right there, but realistically it wasn't going to happen - we'd get tossed out shortly. "SO!" I said brightly "How do you feel about sleeping in the car?"

"Mom." Max looked at me like I was insane. "We don't have a car."
"No problem" I assured him.

We made our way back to the airport, stopping to use the bathroom and brush our teeth before "bed". We walked out the sliding doors and I headed straight for the rental agency bus parked at the curb. "Do you have cars available?"

Half an hour later, I pulled an enormous Grand Marquis into the cell lot and cut the engine. There were only a few spaces left, it was well lit and although the sign said "Maximum 30 minutes" I figured it was so busy no one would notice.

The kids were already asleep, wrapped in blankets, heads rested on pillows, full bottles of water and a basket full of snacks on the floor. I sat and stared out the windshield and felt like an absolute failure. My children - who trusted me to take care of them, to provide for them, to plan and prepare for them - were sleeping in a car, in a parking lot, and in a few hours I would have to wake them up and drive back to the airport. As I dozed off I sent a little message out to the universe: "Please don't let us get woken up by a cop shining his flashlight in here and tapping on the window." Because while it was funny in high school, I had a feeling my kids wouldn't find it amusing tonight.

(***Special thanks to the team at the Boston Logan Alamo/National office - you guys were awesome!***)