Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A missing mother, and a thin pink string

Every day, several times a day, I look down at my wrist and I think of someone. Someone I have never met.


Mo is missing.

Moreira - Mo to her friends, and everyone seemed to be a friend of Mo's - was last seen on January 12th. I can't stop thinking about her.

I think about her, and her frantic parents who flew to Hawaii to wait for news, and her children who are desperately searching this island for her, accompanied by friends and strangers. They have fanned out, pins in a map, boots on the ground, connecting the dots.

Mo is still missing.

You have seen news stories like this. Some episode of Dateline, with it's melodramatic music and open ended questions. But this isn't TV. This is here. On a small island, in a tight knit community, where no one is six degrees separated from anyone else. My husband works with Mo. Her daughter and I have mutual friends. And in a community so small, it is practically impossible to disappear.

It has been almost 3 weeks since anyone has seen Mo. Every day I hope will be the day she is found. It's an island, after all - where could she go? Where would she be? People are angry. Scared. Lashing out and holding their loved ones close. Accusing and questioning, praying and threatening - sometimes in the same breath. And why shouldn't they? A mother is gone.

Mo is missing.

As the days slip past, the frustration and concern mounts. Her loved ones are showing incredible strength in the face of unimaginable stress and fatigue. My worst fear has always been losing my children. Not knowing where they are, or if they are safe. When my son is late and doesn't answer his phone, I switch into high alert automatically. When my daughter goes outside to ride her bike and disappears from my view for more than a few minutes, I panic. When I take kids to the beach and suddenly my head count is one short, I can't breathe. I cannot imagine how I would go on, get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other, function - never mind work and eat and sleep - if someone I loved just disappeared one day, seemingly into thin air. But it happens. It happened to Mo.

They said to light a candle, but instead I lit a star. And hung it in our front window.

We haven't gone out with the search groups yet. I can't bear to call them search "parties". There is nothing party-like about these gatherings. There is a jaw-clenching, "let's do this" feeling in the air. No one is going to give up. No one is going to stop looking. And the areas that have been searched are spreading wider and wider across the hills and valleys of our island home. Paradise.


I have watched this get bigger.
The first inkling that something was wrong was a Facebook post from Mo's daughter, shared by a friend: "My mom is a missing person".
Which led to a post on a Maui-based Facebook group.
And then to it's own Facebook page.
To local online media.
To the newspapers and the statewide evening news.
To the Huffington Post.
The story is everywhere, but it's still here. Right here. A mother. A daughter. A friend. A co-worker.
Mo is missing.

This is all so big, so terrifying, and so close that I am desperately trying to keep it at arm's length. As if, by sheltering my children from the searches, I can protect them from the terrible world where something so dark, so inexplicable, could happen.

I know that I can't. At the end of my arm's length is a thin pink string, tied around my wrist.
Hot pink was Mo's favorite color.
Mo is still missing.
But I know she will be found.

Hold your kids tight. Always take the time to say a real goodbye. Tell people you love them. Tell people you appreciate them. And light a candle. Or a star. And please send thoughts of love and strength to her family and friends, and especially to her three children, who want nothing more than to see their mom again.

If you would like to order a Prayer Bracelet for Mo, please follow this link:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Master of my domain. And by domain, I mean the dishwasher.

I am about to make a very bold statement. Please, don't take offense. I know that you have probably told yourself for years that you - and you alone - have an edge over everyone else with your mad skills, but I assure you: I load my dishwasher better than anyone else.

I know this, because whenever someone declares a dishwasher "full" I have no problem stepping around them and fitting another 15 items inside. What can I say? It's a gift.

But wait, that's not all.

I have also mastered putting the duvet inside of the duvet cover in less than 30 seconds. And yes, I did time myself. For years, I have stood by and watched as others attempt to place the duvet inside of it's cover. Time and time again, one of two things happen:
Either the entire duvet ends up in one corner of the cover, and I have to redo it, or
they inexplicably find themselves trapped inside the duvet cover, unable to find the opening, or the corners, or even the duvet. I stand their and watch them, their arms flailing about frantically as the duvet lies in a pile at their feet and they become increasingly bound up in the voluminous folds of cotton, until eventually they just sit down and call for help. (I'm sure it goes without saying that I have elevated folding a fitted sheet to an art form. But I thought I would mention it anyway.)

In addition, I am pleased to note that I am able to open a box of Kleenex and remove the first tissue - and just the first tissue - without tearing out 5 or 6 additional shredded tissues trying to "get the box started".

I also possess the God-given ability to fit all of my Tupperware in the Tupperware drawer. With matching lids.

And please note, I can pack a bag of groceries at the checkout better than any grocery store employee. I hate to be rude and tell someone how to do their job, so I just keep my mouth shut and let them take a crack at it. Then I walk out to the parking lot and immediately repack all of the groceries properly, throwing the excess bags in my trunk to hide the evidence.

I know, I know. You're sitting there thinking to yourself  "I could take her."
And to that I say "Care to make it interesting?"

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why I still need to edit my kids' thank you notes, and other post-holiday thoughts

We are working our way slowly through some thank you phone calls:
"Hi Aunt Pat, thank you so much for the ornaments. I broke one of them already."

......and laboring over thank you notes:
"Thank you for the $15. I will save it for collag or mayby a car."

"Thank you for the $15. Max stole my idea. I wanted to save the money for collag or a car. That was my idea first."

Yes, the holiday season is officially over, and so is the good will, apparently.

"Mom, can I use some of my Christmas money to buy World of Warcraft?"
"No Max, I have already told you I will not allow you to play World of Warfare."
"I don't care what it's called. No."

I am in the middle of the official "post-holiday purge" but because I am my mother's daughter, and my mother still has baby clothes from 1975 stored in her basement, it isn't going that well.

"Let's throw out these ballet tights - they have a hole in the knee."
"No, we can use them for something else."
"Like what?"
"Uh...... something. A face mask?"
"People don't wear pink ballet tights as a face mask."
"Of course they do!"

"I don't think we should help facilitate that with these tights."
(sigh) "Fine. Whatever."

I managed to get the holiday decor packed up and put away - at least I thought I did.......... I just discovered a stack of holiday CDs, a wooden santa, and some festive coasters. And oh yeah, the star shaped light is still hanging in my front window. But I kind of like it, so that might have to stay.

And despite all of my friends who went straight from New Years parties to pick up their juice cleanse, I have not been tempted to start fresh with the new year. In fact, last night I ate half a pint of Haagen Dazs and I have no regrets. In fact, I am clinging to reveling in my bad habits. 2013 was a good year for me. I am thankful, and I am celebrating. More of everything in 2014, I say.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

In a stunning display of hypocrisy, I host a birthday party with a gun theme.

I know. I KNOW. It's disgusting. You know I know. You KNOW how I feel about guns. And kids shooting each other. And how COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE IT IS to celebrate your child's birth by allowing him to go shoot his friends. I get it. I GET IT.

I totally get it.

And I am standing here before you, with my hands raised in surrender. Because I, Daffodil Campbell, who has grounded her child for shooting a rubber band across the living room, took not just her own child but 4 other innocent children to a shooting range and armed them all with paintball guns and bought them paintball pellets and set them loose on each other. I took Hunger Games and mixed it up with a little Lord of the Flies, added a dash of Goonies and then threw in some paint for good measure and BLAMMO. Birthday party.

Disgusting, right? I should have known better. For years I have judged parents for a decision they have made, only to find myself doing the same damn thing later on. Starting with disposable diapers and toddler leashes, through glitter and play dough, and headlong into arming my children for fun, I have spent the past 13 years backpedaling, issuing mea culpas, swallowing my pride and taking the path of least resistance. I will be the first to admit I was extremely reluctant to send out the invitation, considering how uptight I have been historically about guns-as-toys.

Hi there,
Max asked to celebrate his birthday with a trip to the paintball range.

Solid start, right?

Some of you may know that I have an issue with guns in general, and more specifically with my kid playing with them. In an attempt to find some common ground with Max on this issue, I have come to an agreement with him. He may play paintball at the range under careful supervision and wearing extensive (excessive?) amounts of safety gear.

What is this, therapy? Way to make everyone uncomfortable, Daffodil.

To that end, we would like to invite his friends to join us at the paintball range for a fun game on Saturday. Several of our adult friends will be playing as well, to help with supervision on the course.

"To that end"? What the hell are you even talking about right now? Oh wait, here comes the bold print - PAY ATTENTION THIS MUST BE THE IMPORTANT PART.
Start time at 11am. It is an all-day pass (until 5pm). Every parent should drop their own child off, and make sure they have the necessary documents signed and the necessary gear required before leaving.


The range has it's own requirements for safety, and a website that outlines the guidelines and also provides the permission slip that MUST be filled out and signed by a parent before the child can play. We will give the kids rides home afterwards if you would like, although you are more than welcome to stay.

Pretty sure no one will want to hang out with me anymore. Ever. And who could blame them.

Max is hoping your son will be allowed to join us,but based on his own mother's past reaction to guns-at-parties, will understand completely if you are not comfortable with that idea, and won't allow your child to attend (Okay, even *I* knew that part was too much. It's like I was trying to talk them out of letting their kids come to the party.) please let me know if we can expect him :)

Wow. Amiright? "Thanks"??? Sheesh. Understatement of the year, right there. Thanks? Thanks for what, you freak? Thanks for the total buzz-kill? Thanks for inviting my kid to a party he does not want to miss, and forcing my hand on the gun issue? Don't play it cool. You just totally overshared and made everyone uncomfortable, that's all. NB fucking D.

But you know what? Only 2 kids didn't show up. One of the parents even wrote me a supportive email in response to that hot mess, telling me that he, too, had a "gun thing" and worked it out through paintball. I felt, dare I say it, validated. It was like a virtual high-five. And as the kids stood around at the end of the day, after 6 solid hours of hiding in trees and ducking behind blinds - in 80 degree heat mind you, dressed in jeans and hoodies and helmets and body armor - they were all grinning. Ecstatic. Gleeful. Also, soaked with sweat, hair plastered to their heads and disgusting in every way. Dirt, grime, food, and sweat smeared across their faces, fingernails black with dirt, they reeked. It was the happiest, stinkiest group I have ever seen. And i hang out with derby girls. Have you ever smelled a derby girl's skate bag. I know what stank is.

The car ride home with 4 of them was all the payback I needed for the utter hypocrisy of this party For all of my years of judgement. Today my karma was in the form of teenage B.O., and I have learned my lesson, universe: Next time I take them to play with guns, they have to jump in the ocean and rinse off before we drive home.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Getting hit by a truck, and other good reasons to buy new underwear

Tired of making the same old "eat healthy, get my finances in order, clean the house regularly" New Year's resolutions, the ones that you commit to every year, only to burn out by the 3rd week?
(I know, I know... not this year. Says you on January 7th. Talk to me next month, m'kay?)

I have a New Year's Resolution that I make - and keep - every year.
Buy New Underwear.

My grandmother told me that it was important to always be wearing nice underwear, in case you got hit by a truck and ended up in the hospital where everyone would be able to see your undergarments.

I will pause here to say that reading those words leaves me feeling profoundly disturbed on several levels:

1. Hit by a truck? Really? I suspect this might have also been a lesson in holding her hand and looking both ways before I crossed the street.

2. *If* I were to be hit by a truck and end up in the hospital - or hell, if I am in the hospital for any reason - I would like to think that the people tasked with saving my life would be concerned with more than the condition of my undergarments.

Those two concerns aside, it is a good idea to wear underwear. Nice underwear is just a bonus - and a bonus everyone can appreciate. As someone who wears pants only when absolutely necessary, it might surprise you to learn that I do not include underwear in my "no pants" lifestyle. In fact, before a night of drinking I used to follow the "2 panty rule" to be sure that I would not find myself pants-less at an inopportune time, and also ensuring that I would always have a clean pair on hand for the next morning's walk of shame.


I am like the Boy Scouts of Underpants: prepared for anything. I embrace the wearing of undergarments wholeheartedly, for reasons of both form and function. From my first visit to Victoria's Secret in junior high school, to purchase fistfuls of the shiny, slippery, brightly colored and ill-fitting string bikini underwear that was so popular in the late 80s and early 90s, I have been enamored with underpinnings. Lingerie. Unmentionables to some, but a topic verging on an obsession for me.

It was a big leap in middle school from cotton briefs to silky underthings - one that threw my mother for a loop. "These are disgusting." she informed me in the laundry room. "Inappropriate for someone your age. And this satin doesn't breathe. You are going to end up with an infection." (Side note: this commentary was a very effective way to get me to do my own laundry. Kudos, mom.

Even the threat of a dreaded yeast infection could not keep me away from Victoria's Secret and their sale bins of underwear. I went from bikinis to thongs (which almost caused my mother cardiac arrest) to boyshorts and then back to thongs, eventually settling on a mix of all three. For 12 years I have lived far from Victoria's Secret, but I have continued my annual tradition of buying new underwear each new year. (Also on the annual to-do list but much less interesting: changing the water filter and cleaning the car - but those are usually delegated to other people Sam.)

We always ask for socks and PJs and tshirts for Christmas, things we wear every day and also need replacing at least once a year, but I am not sending my mom out to buy me new pairs of Hanky Pankys. Gift certificates to The Walking Company, sure. Lacy things? Not so much.

In what I consider to be a mind-blowing display of maturity, use of the lingerie laundry bag, and ability to follow washing instructions, I assessed my underwear drawer and came to the conclusion that I didn't really need new underpants this year. I decided to hold off, even though I was in LA and surrounded by places to buy anything and everything I could ever want. And then I took this "mature" business even further: I took my Walking Company gift card and bought orthopedic shoes instead. That's practically the same thing, right?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

And so begins another illustrious year of telling people to go screw themselves.

I stood there, and watched it happen.
It was 9am, the first day of the new year. Fresh start, open to every possibility and opportunity, I had a clean slate and could set the tone for 2014. Apparently, 2014 is going to be the year that I behave like a loudmouthed busybody. (I know what you are thinking: "Which is different from other years how, exactly?" And to that I say "Screw you".)
AS I WAS SAYING. I was flying back to my beloved island home, excited about all of the plans I had made for the coming year.
And then, as I wrestled my way down the aisle with a small suitcase, a backpack, and Lucy's new guitar, gently directing her to the correct seat as she walked hesitantly ahead of me, I looked up and watched 2 young men, on their way to the back row of the section, stop and unload their enormous, not possibly within the size limitations carry-on bags into the my overhead bin, right above our seats.
This is a pet peeve of mine. Overhead space is a precious commodity on an overseas flight, and having someone commandeer the already minimal storage space reserved for the seats I had purchased, well, no.
"Hey guys, this is my row. We have reserved ALL of those seats, and we have kids, and our 4 carry ons to put up there. I hope there's enough space at your own seats, because I need the space above mine."
The entire section went quiet, whether in solidarity or disgust I have no idea. And frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. I glared, and they looked sheepish - but after glancing up at the bin they had just stuffed their baggage into, they quickly continued down the aisle, one of them muttering "The overhead bins aren't assigned, they're for everyone, right?"
Sam and Max, looking bewildered at my outburst, made their way through the row to the other side of the plane with a few suitcases, and stowed them over there, then took their seats silently, avoiding eye contact. I wrestled the bags into the remaining overhead space, carefully sliding Lucy's new guitar in on top before I snapped the lid shut and gave those two jokers a pointed look over my shoulder as I took my seat.
And there I sat as the warm shame of embarrassment stretched up from my tense shoulders, across my jaw and ended with my ears burning red as I buckled up and reached for a magazine. Eventually I was going to have to stand up and go to the bathroom, and there was a good chance I was going to make eye contact with them. Or worse, get stuck outside the bathroom together. I shuddered, feeling instantly regretful. This was going to be an awesome 6 hours, I could tell.
in retrospect, perhaps scolding people should be saved for the arrivals area - and I have no idea what came over me in that moment. But it happened so easily, with not even a moment of consideration, that I do believe it is a sign of things to come. And for that, I apologize in advance. It will no doubt be one of the very few apologies I hand out this year, so savor it.
And do fasten your seatbelt.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Kindness and The Free Turkey

I am home. Feet firmly planted back on my beloved lava, but the dream-like memories still floating around my head lazily. Or maybe that's the pre-flight Xanax coursing through my bloodstream.

This week has been amazing on so many levels. To start with, Christmas doesn't suck anymore - which is huge, and really who the hell saw that coming? Not me. We had an entirely pleasant day from start to finish. Weather was lovely, food was delicious, and for the first time in 13 years we spent Christmas with the cousins we grew up celebrating Christmas with. As I dressed my daughter in her red velvet dress and white stockings and shiny black shoes, I experienced a wave of deja vu that would have brought me to my knees if I hadn't already been there.

We careened from one festive family gathering to another, interspersed with a day of skiing here, an evening of ice skating there, a trip to the museum one afternoon, a day at Disneyland to round out the trip..... each a page out of my childhood come to life for my own children, albeit in a different time and place. And then we had to head back to San Diego to catch our flight home. And that is when our story of Christmas gets tied up with a neat little bow. You know how I love a happy ending.

Our week was made possible by the generosity of others. Each night we lay our heads on pillows provided by family and friends, in homes whose doors were opened to us widely and with plenty of holiday cheer. Each day brought another meal prepared with love and shared with joy and laughter. We drove from place to place in a car loaned to us by a couple who have only had the opportunity to spend any significant amount of time with us on one other occasion. And although they do not know us well, they offered us the use of their car and warm beds to sleep in, without hesitation.

I wanted to give them something in thanks before we flew home, but I didn't want to give them something just for the sake of giving a gift. I wanted it to be the perfect gift. This was a challenge, considering that I had never seen their home, and didn't even know their legal names. But that didn't matter......I wanted it to express our gratitude and also to show them that we had given it some thought first, and I was stumped. Gift cards seemed too impersonal for people who had been so kind and trusting. A gift for the home was hard to decide on when we hadn't spent much time there. Gifts of food were impractical, gifts of clothes were inappropriate. So I decided to start at the beginning, to try to express my thanks in writing.

A card.

But first, we needed to get some snacks for the airplane.

We walked slowly through Trader Joe's, trying not to buy anything too heavy or bulky. Trying not to spend too much money after a week of big experiences with price tags to match. We had already decided to stop by Costco for a pizza to bake at dinnertime, so all we needed were a few small things:
Some crackers. A package of berries. A few protein bars. A bottle of sparkling grape juice for New Year's toasting over our pizza later. We chose carefully, put a few things back, discussing and debating and reconsidering, and then made our way to the registers. As I waited for my total, a thank you card caught my eye. I reached out and plucked it from the rack, handing it to the cashier.
"This too?"
"Yes, please."
He scanned it and his eyes widened. He turned to the woman bagging the groceries next to him.
"Here," he said. "Look at this."
She peered over his shoulder as he stood with the card still in his hand and pressed a button. And then they hooted and cheered and high-fived before ringing the bell over my head. Startled, I froze, looking back and forth between them wildly.
"YOU WON!" They crowed. "I knew it! I knew we would get the next winner!" The cashier was ecstatic. His co-worker raced away through the crowd, gleeful and clapping.
"What?" I was bewildered. "I won? I won what? What did I win?"
"You won a free turkey!" the cashier was jubilant.
"I won a WHAT?"
"A turkey! A free turkey!"
"A what? I'm sorry, I am so confused. I don't need a turkey. I don't want a turkey!"
"Would prefer a tofu turkey? Do you eat meat?"
"TOFU TURKEY?! Oh no, definitely not."
The woman who had been bagging groceries came racing back through the store, a package held aloft. "Congratulations!" she was thrilled for us, and I was still trying to catch up.
"But, I don't want a turkey!"
"Oh," she stopped short, confused. "Do you want a tofu turkey instead?"
"God no, absolutely not, it's just tha-"
"Congratulations!" the manager had arrived to punch in some secret turkey code at the register.
"You won!" he was genuinely happy for me. I was genuinely still completely in the dark.
"HOW did I win?"
"Your total was $20.14! It's our New Years promotion!"
"I knew you were going to hit it," the cashier leaned in to confide to me. "I saw the total and then you added that card, and I just knew that when I hit total again and the taxes were added, you would hit it!"
"I won a turkey because I bought the thank you card?"
"Wow. That's uh...... wow."
Sam and the kids were standing at the end of the checkout lane, and now Sam stepped forward to accept the turkey that was still being offered. "Thank you," he said solemnly.
"Yes, right. Thank you!" I was trying to catch up. "Thank you so much. Really."
Everyone around us smiled as we made our way back to the car. I was still holding the card in one hand, and the winning receipt fluttered in the other. We would obviously not need to buy a pizza for dinner.

The moral of the story? Always remember to give thanks. And to be thankful in the moment.
2014, I get it. I am grateful. And I am ready for anything.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, but I was reminded of the most important part of the holiday in a Trader Joe's, of all places: Celebrate Thanksgiving every day.
And so, inspired by a free turkey and the spirit of the season that should really be celebrated all year, I want to begin 2014 by saying thank you. To you.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being you.
Would you like some turkey?