Monthly Archives: April 2011

Just give me my chicken!

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Living with no regrets is a great concept, but a tough trick to perform in any real life.  We all make mistakes that we wish we could take back, and that feeling of regret is how we learn to act differently the next time.  What is wrong with that? The one evil that often causes this regret is our damn human tendency toward expectations.  We hear stories about what our sixteenth birthday should look like, how beautiful our prom will be, what our wedding be like, how awesome the birth of your first child will be.  We are all happy families, playing with our 2.5 children and our yellow labrador in the green grass on a sunny day with no radiation clouds or body fat to bring us down.  There’s no griping about the wasted picnic food that has to be thrown out, even though there wasn’t enough money to buy it in the first place.  There’s no arguing about whether to play frisbee or fly a kite.  Everyone gets along.  There is not regret.

Sounds kinda boring, doesn’t it?

Yesterday, I saw a dad.  He looked like a good dad, trying to take his three kids out on a bike ride.  One was on a bike, one was on training wheels, and the other was in a buggy behind dad.  They were going uphill when the wind kicked up, right into their faces.  He was attempting to push the one on wheels up the hill while riding his own bike and not running over the training-wheel kid.  I bet that picture looked so much better in his head when he was getting ready to go on that ride.  I ran into the same family again about 15 minutes later and all three kids were crying.  He was a good dad.  He did not throw his bike in the ditch and have a meltdown (as I might have), but I bet he had a beer when he got home.  Did he regret that bike ride?  Perhaps.  But he probably learned not to take all three on a windy day, at 5 p.m. (which every MOM in the world will tell you is the witching hour.  Funny the timing of the witching hour has a positive correlation with happy hour.)

I did that a couple of years ago, when my kiddo was 3 or 4.  I decided that – yes, it was slightly snowy out, but the sun was shining and it was my birthday and I wanted to go outside with my kid and my dogs.  We got bundled, leashed, and shoe tied.  Twenty-minutes later we headed out the door.  My husband called and I decided that even though I had two dog leashes in my hands and a kid running along, I could use that third hand I keep meaning to grow to answer it.  We decided I would call to order take-out and he would pick it up on the way home, because that’s a practical idea when walking dogs and kids in snow on your birthday.  I called.  A teenager answered to take my order.  Meanwhile, a person with a bulldog on a leash was approaching.  I start heading off the trail a little, still on my phone.  I ordered cashew chicken.

“I don’t think we have that.”

It’s a Chinese food restaurant.  They don’t have cashew chicken?

“Really?  Well, how about chicken and broccoli?”

“Um, I don’t think we have that either.”

Did I accidentally call Pizza Hut?  What the hell?

“Oh, wait.  I guess we do have that.  Do you want the broccoli or the cashews?”

“Do you have both of them?”

“No.  We have chicken and broccoli.”

The bulldog and owner are now about five feet away.  I have two extended leases.  My dogs are pulling.  My daughter has wandered down to the ditch to look at something.  My labrador runs to greet the other dog.  The leashes cross.  The daughter is taken out and spilled into the ditch.  Somehow I hold on to my phone.  Probably not the priority I should have had at the moment.

“Oh, God man, just forget it.”

I finally hang up, or maybe just shove the phone in my pocket.  I drop the leashes and they wrap around the lady and her bulldog while I fish my screaming wet child out of the ditch (there was only 3 or 4 inches of water in it).  I apologize to the woman and tell her to hold on for a minute and I will rescue her, too.  My dogs are sniffing the bulldog’s butt, continuing to wrap her tighter and tighter in their leashes.

Like a great big human birthday present for me to unwrap.

Awesome.

I unwind the lady and fortunately for me, she smiles and tells me to have a good day.  I am in the midst of regretting our snowy day adventure, but I thank her and strip off my sweatshirt to wrap my kid up in it.  It is snowing.  I now have a tank top on and a 15 minute walk ahead of me.  Good times.  Man.  That cashew chicken sure would have warmed me up.

It wasn’t even close to happy hour, yet.

I ran into that same bulldog-walking-woman a month or two later, and she complimented me on my parenting (which made me laugh too hard and blow a little uninvited snot out of my nose).  She said she never would have held it together with all of those events occurring in unison.  I don’t know that I held it together that well, but I’m glad that I faked it enough to fool someone!  Next time I see that dad I should compliment him on his patience… and maybe even tell him about the witching hour.  I don’t think it’s fair to keep that a secret amongst moms.  Especially not the witching hour, happy hour correlation.  

Happy hour washes away most regret.  It’s like detergent.

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Looking for love, through my blue mascara

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“Just a minute!”

“I’m almost ready!”

“I’m coming!”

To look back on my teenage years and the amount of time I spent prepping for life by attempting to enhance my looks with blue mascara, base (do people still wear this crap?), powder, eye shadow, lip gloss, crimping my hair and spraying cups of hairspray on my bangs (but only my bangs).  Was this to go to a school dance?  Or maybe to impress a certain cute boy?

No.

It was to go to Safeway (which back then was called Tamimi and Fouad) and it was to meet to boy of my dreams. Or so I thought.  But, the strange thing is, while gagging over the lamb shoulders and beef knuckles on display in the meat section, I never found him.  Riding in our air-conditioned Trooper, with additional fans (remember, it was Saudi Arabia – a little hot at times) installed for the poor slobs who had to ride in the back (me and my sister), listening to aHa and Culture Club on my bright yellow Sony Walkman, I pondered his existence. Will he be leaving the gold souks after purchasing a lovely bangle for his dying mother who he has been caring for since 2nd grade, and due to that awesome care, has never had time to find a girlfriend?  He’ll walk out of the store, kind of sad and forlorn because his mom is on her way out, but optimistic about his future.  His sad eyes will glance up from the sidewalk (flicking his 80’s spiky yet slightly effeminate hair back from his face), making contact with mine (sparkling brightly, oh so blue with all my mascara, my shellacked bangs riding just above them to accentuate their maximum potential as the eyes that could be gazed into all the time if I was your girlfriend…).

And then, he will start to sing to me, with a voice like a mix between Tracey Chapman and George Michael (he could always use some more soulful girl power in his voice).  We’ll run off into the sunset, or to the next concert, or maybe to prom, and live happily ever after, saving me from my brutal junior high existence.

I admit it.  I spent a lot of time day-dreaming.  Here’s some comfort to you moms out there who have teen daughters that spend hours in front of the mirror.  I now brush my teeth and put in my contacts.  That is my entire beauty regimen.  I don’t even look in the mirror most of the time.  I no longer have time to day-dream about cute men falling all over themselves to break out in song to me.

Well, now that Patrick Swayze is gone, that is.

I settled for a man who doesn’t notice when I dye my hair purple and sings to me in an Adam Sandler-voice, rhyming songs about poo and shoe and goo and butt and nut and gut.  Somehow boobies fit in there, too.  High brow entertainment. But that’s okay with me, because I don’t own any blue mascara anymore.  I haven’t used hairspray for anything other than as a fixative for pastel and charcoal art work since 1991.  It’s a miracle if I even brush my hair.  My teen self would be horrified that it takes me 3.5 minutes to get ready in the morning, and I wear my pajamas all day (it’s more efficient).  I may not have married the Justin Bieber of my youth – you can see from my picture at the top of the page, he doesn’t even have hair. But, I’m at a point in my life where I actually like the rhyming poo songs more than the love-sick teen songs.  I like Adam Sandler more than George Michael.  These days, laughter is better than day-dreaming.

Besides, the Biebers always turn out to be gay.

Yep, she did this all on her own. She doesn't own blue mascara, yet....

Hoppy Birfday!

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I’ve had birthdays before, quite a few, actually.  Some of them were in ice cream shops, some were in Middle-Eastern Chinese restaurants, one was in the ICU after jaw surgery, one was with friends surrounding a whole lamb on a plate of rice, some were at the beach, a couple were in New Jersey, I’ve blocked the ones out that I had in Washington (or my brain cells were too alcohol saturated to retain the memories).

There have been good ones and bad ones.  I always loved the birthdays in Saudi Arabia at the Al Hambra.  As long as you could get in before the call to prayer, there was almost never a long wait.   Not only was the Arabic-Filipino-Indian version of Chinese food exquisite, but after your meal the Filipino waiters would sing, “Hoppy birfday to you, Hoppy birfthday to you!”  My sister and I would giggle (with the blind racism of youth), almost hard enough for the Bebsi to shoot out of our noses.

My sixteenth birthday in New Jersey was a treat.  I was in a fight with my two best friends and my parents forgot what day it was.  Have you watched those teen drama shows?  Those kids had nothing on me.  I wallowed in unprecedented amounts of self-pity, comparable only to the irrational behavior of Brittany Spears (only, I always wore my undies).  The pity party was my birthday, until…

My friends surprised me with more than birthday candles and gift wrap.  I was (gently) kidnapped from my dorm, blind-folded and led to the high school gymnasium.  It had been such a bad day that a small part of my brain envisioned a not-so-happy-birthday-like horror movie scenario.   Instead of a chainsaw, I hear Madonna coming from the pathetic speakers of an oversized boom box (like an Ipod, but capable of playing plastic tape cassettes, and terribly hard to transport.  John Cusak would have never had any muscles if Ipods had been around when they filmed Say Anything).  My blindfold was removed as two of the hottest post graduates (meaning people who were hot enough, but not quite bright enough to get into college, and repeated a year of high school to bring up their GPA’s).  They danced and shaked their booties as they stripped for me.  I was redder than my super cool red scrunchi in my hair.  I was redder than the kick-ass lip gloss I was sporting.  I was on fire.  They went all the way down to little tiny, skimpy, shiny, reflective undies.  It was awesome.  Embarrassing as hell, but awesome.  My adult mind is saying, “how gay can you get?” But, in my teens I still thought George Michael was just my type. Of course, even if George had been dancing in front of me, with just his guitar, I wouldn’t have allowed my sixteen year old eyes to look anywhere lower than his scruffy chin.  I must admit, as those post grads walked out of the gym, I may have sneaked a peak at their well-toned scantily clad buttocks.  Hey, I was human.

The day before my birthday this year, we spent the about 8 hours outside, playing.  There were no strippers.  We took the doggies swimming.  We ate Nepalese food and drank beer.  I learned that combining vast amounts of chicken korma with Mercenary Double IPA and sunshine can create a seriously lethal amount of gas.  For 24 hours I tried my best to rid  this country of our need for oil with the wind coming from my lower intestines powering most of the mountain states.  My daughter had numerous nightmares as the wind shook our house (the outside wind was ferocious, as well).  I awoke on my birthday feeling older than my 38 years.  This year my mother-in-law called (for the first time in the 13 years since I have been married to her son!!!), my parents remembered, my sister gave me a card and as she watched me read it, laughed like a loony-tunes character (it was a funny card… don’t fart in a wet-suit… you can imagine) and coffee money, and best of all, I danced for a full five minutes to Ben Harper, with my daughter gazing into my eyes.  Someday she’s going to look at a boyfriend like that, but for now, the love is mine.  I was the most important person in the world for five whole minutes, and I basked in that like I had in the sunshine the day before.  And after all of that, I was ready for some chocolate cake.  My intestines weren’t, but my brain was.  It was good.  The wind continued to blow.  But don’t worry, I’m starting to recover…

My two girls

comparing noses

Stock My beer Fridge! The Grandkids Are Coming!

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I know.  It’s been a really long while for me… I love to write, but all of my efforts have been going into 10 page papers on The Psychology of Personality.  I have a lot to do in the next four weeks.  EEEK!  So, I figured I’d write another blog.  Good use of my time!

I want to tell you that graduate school is mighty expensive.  I could buy a house (granted, a small house.  in Nebraska.  with redneck neighbors.) with the loans I am getting for the honor of studying myself silly (and I can’t wait, because I’m dorky like that).  I have been researching grants and scholarships and black market organ sales, but it looks like my most reliable source of tuition payment will be the fed.  And I will pay them back because no one likes to bail out a mom.  A bank?  A car company?  Well, sure!  A mom?  Nah.  Still, all that matters is that I get to go.

My mom had a suggestion for me to drum up some tuition money.  She said, “Why don’t you sleep with your brother-in-law, he can afford it.”

Um.  What?

I think that A) my husband may not appreciate that, B) my sister may not appreciate that, and C) EW!  (no offense to my bro-in-law; he’s great, but I couldn’t do that with anyone for money.  for beer?  okay, not even for beer)

Who does that?  I mean, obviously Charlie Sheen’s goddesses would, but me?  I taught an Ethics class last year, and from what I learned in teaching that, it somehow seems wrong.

My mother-in-law (who is very concerned that my selfish desires to attend school will stress my husband out too much) said that she has a friend enrolling in the same program that I will be attending (art therapy, not goddess school).   I asked what her name was.  “Well, I really shouldn’t tell you.”

Ooooohhhhkkkkaaayyyyyy.

“Why not?” I inquired.

“Because we both feel that if the universe wants you to meet, you will.”

Blergh.  That was the sound of me I gagging on my own vomit.

“Well, how old is she (we’re thinking she must be older than I am, and I was the oldest one at the group interview)?” my husband dared to ask.

“I just don’t think I should share that with you.”

Um, what the fuck?  Is she in the witness protection program?  Is she a famous supermodel?  Is she the man who you are having an affair with, disguised as a woman?  Why is this such a big deal?

I can not answer these questions, but I want the world to see the role models I have in my family for aging as a woman.  I need some sane women.  I need some rational women.  My daughter needs a gramma who actually shows up when she says she will and when she does randomly appear, does not get in her face and ask her a billion questions.

Just play with the kid.  Put away the damn bowls and get silly.

When and if I get to be a gramma someday, I vow to do a few things:

I will love my grandchildren with the unconditional capacity of a puppy (but hopefully not pee on them when they come to the door).

I will tell them how proud they make me and remind them of their awesomeness.

I will bake them sugary, fattening treats, with flaxseed and cauliflower hidden inside.  And make them spinach smoothies.

I will watch all the teen drama movies with them, because I secretly LOVE them.

I will have sleepovers.

I will make s’mores.

I will show up.

I will gladly return them when I am exhausted, because I’ll be old and in need of a good nap.

When they’re older, I will have a beer fridge (and if they’re good, I’ll share).

It’ll be fun to be a good role model.  I just wish there were more of them in my family.  I have found them elsewhere though, and those women keep me hopeful that life does not become some wallow-ing self-absorbed pity-party that no one wants to attend.  Thank you, my funny, awesome, witty, smart, beautiful role models.  Even if you aren’t in my gene pool, I love that you are in my life.