Monthly Archives: January 2012

Moonwalking on the Nile

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This weekend my daughter is going to a belly dancing party.  Yes, this is Boulder County where hosting belly dancing for kids is perfectly normal, and they will eat gluten-free, egg-free, sugar-free cupcakes and drink bubbly all natural fruit juice instead of pop.  I’m not complaining, although I am a big fan of sugary cupcakes and I don’t care what you say, gluten-free beer is not yummy.  At.  All.  Fortunately, they are little, so they’ll be sticking to juice.  And not Michael Jackson’s “Jesus Juice.”  Anyway, all this belly dancing got me thinking about my own belly dancing past.  It was short and sweet, and I made not a penny.

Because I grew up in a different country, where gas was 25 cents a gallon and was eagerly pumped for you while you remained in your air-conditioned luxury, I had some interesting vacations.  One of them was to Egypt.  Among other tourist adventures, we took a cruise on the Nile.  My grandparents came along on this trip.  The only country they had ever traveled to outside of the U.S. was Mexico.  This seemed like a good idea at the time.

After spending time traveling around ruins and pyramids, we eventually boarded a cruise ship.  In my likely skewed mind this was actually more like a Louisiana river boat than a Carnival cruise ship (which I now see as a huge blessing!).  There were little rooms and a friendly crew.  At night, the dining room turned into a dance club.  A tiny dance club, more like the common area in a dorm with a black light and some good tunes.  I was twelve.  To me, it was studio 54.  People were having fun, partying Nile-style.  We met a man who was chronically drunk and spoke incessantly of each cigarette he smoked as being yet another nail in his coffin.  He smoked the entire cruise.  I’m guessing he has enough nails by now. While talking with this man, our waiter stopped by to inform us of the next evenings festivities.  A costume party.  But we had no costumes!  Not to worry, the crew had a bunch of them.

I dug through a box of costumes in one of the crew members cabins.  Sparkles, sequence, disco, ooooh.  What’s this white shiny fabric?  Ah.  A belly dancing costume.  Fun!  I was encouraged by my new cruise-crew friends, who I liked talking to much more than the chain-smoking coffin builder.

We went to dinner in full regalia.  To be honest, I was so self-absorbed and into my costume, I can’t remember what anyone else was wearing.  This is the preteen mind.  No one else matters.  In case you have kids, if it is not affecting how they look, sound or smell, it does not matter!

After dinner the D.J. starting making his 80’s magic.  Not much of a challenge in the 80’s, really, I mean the music magic was just happening all around us.  (snort).  They played some cheesy pop music, and people danced.  It was not the dance number from the titanic by any means, but equal in beauty to this twelve-year-old.  The disco ball spun, reflecting rainbow light off of pirate patches and flapper dresses.  And then the D.J. suggested a special belly dance solo.  There was a wee spot light, like the one from a grade school production of Peter Pan, that fell on me.  My white belly dancing costume shimmered like a pearl.  I was terribly embarrassed, but somehow the D.J. knew just what to spin for me.  Some Michael Jackson.  I worshipped and planned on marrying Michael at this point in my life.  He was still at peace with his pigmentation.  He hadn’t changed color and personality yet.  Neverland ranch was still only a fantasy.  I stood up in that moment of inspiration and click-clacked my brass finger cymbals together, finding the rhythm to Beat It (not hard to do) and pretended to belly dance.  I even did my version of a moon-walk.  I channeled my inner Michael and mixed it Cocktail style with my memories of the Solid Gold dancers and did my thing.  Go white girl, GO!   A little blond belly dancer on the Nile.  My grandparents beamed with pride (and perhaps a fare dose of confusion)!

My moves surprisingly never progressed me into the realm of a professional dancer of any kind.  But all of the professional belly dancers who did make something of their lives could have learned some important knowledge  from me that night. Let go of your sexy, sultry wiggling for a minute and think of Pre-Neverland Ranch Michael.  Let him take over your ankles and knees and do some moon-walking.  You might get someone to stop smoking and talking about coffins just long enough to laugh.

Laugh, while secretly envying your moves.

The Remedial Patriot Strikes Again

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My husband sat, watching a show on the military channel.  This was his life before we met.  Mine was more hippie-esque. No guns.  Just brownies.  He was really into this veteran show and being the asshole that I sometimes am, I asked my husband, “Aw, honey, are you tearing up?”  I mean, the “Aw” was dripping with sarcasm.  Why would I do that?  Because I’m a closet bitch.  And he never cries at the abused animal commercials that make me choke up.  As the question came out, I wanted to retract it or twist it into, “Aw, honey, are you hungry?”  or something equally non-provoking.  But I didn’t. It came out before I turned on my filter.  He said, “Seriously?” and walked out of the house.

Well, I never said that my mouth works as well as my hands.

After letting him rake the leaves for a while, as if he were raking my face, I went outside and apologized.  Sincerely.  Not sarcastically.  It wasn’t enough.  I could tell by the way he continued his vigorous leaf destruction.

Did I mention the fact that the following day was Veteran’s?

Yup.

He is a veteran. My intention was simply to mock him and be silly because he mocks me when I tear up during commercials.  How was I to know that my “never-been-to-war-but-really-enjoys-laughing” self was jabbing into a veteran wound?  He went to work on Veteran’s Day, something I notice most vets do.  It’s only teachers, students and postal workers who actually get the day off.  I decided that I would be a good citizen for once and hang a U.S. flag in honor of our veterans.  I don’t usually display my American pride because of my past of growing up in another country.  Sometimes it feels forced and awkward, but this time I decided to get over myself and thank the people who have fought for our freedom.  I knew there was a flag around my house somewhere.

Where was it?  I know it was here.  My mom sent it to me years ago… I think she ordered it from L.L. Bean.  Oh.  There it is. Poking out from that shelf up there.

Red, white and blue.

So nicely folded.  L.L. Bean must really be into presentation.  Wow.  And it’s huge.  I unfolded it, marveling at its size.  I hung it from our bedroom windows.

Sigh.  There I was.  The patriotic wife of a veteran.  I was kind of proud of myself.  This stuff does not come naturally to me. Maybe I’d whip up a casserole and clean the house.

Ahahahahahahaha…….

My husband was touched.  He came home and told me that it meant a lot to him and he couldn’t believe that I had done that.  I glowed in my new patriotic role.  I felt warm like apple pie.

And then he paused.  It was one of those “pregnant pauses” that you read about.  Big.  With a creature inside.  Ready to be birthed.

“Um.”

“You do know why it’s so large, don’t you?”

I defensively responded, “Well yes.  Of course I do.”  Thinking that it’s so large because it’s a flag, an L.L. Bean flag.  They do good work.  It’s supposed to make an impression, right?

I looked at him.  He smiled in a patronizing way, his eyes looking at me with simultaneous amusement and pity.  It was a smile that said, “was this woman raised in a barn?”

Remedial Me.

“The flag is so big because it was on a coffin.  This was my uncle’s flag.”

Yes.  I had just dishonored a flag.  A flag that was never to be unfolded.  I shook that puppy out and hung it from my window.  Gad.  I hope a bird didn’t poop on it.

Classy.

Maybe being patriotic is not my cup of tea.  Still, I think those veterans rock for putting their lives on the line, and my veteran rocks the most.  I’m glad that even if I am a remedial patriot and perhaps a remedial wife he enjoys my brownies. Sure, they don’t have anything but sugar in them, but they make us happy.

Warning: The ME Santa may smell of hops.

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We look forward to winter break for so long, and yet winter break can do a person in. At least this person.   I know, poor me: time off of school, fewer work hours.  WAH!  But seriously, when you have a kid and one day you are consumed with running from important location number one to important location number two while drinking too much coffee and trying to remember to meditate (but not while you’re driving because you want to keep your child alive) because it is actually required in grad school (an obvious attempting to avert any “postal” grad-freak-outs) and trying to make it to a third even more important location before you run out of time to do any Christmas shopping.  It’s too fast.  And the sudden stop, followed by a whole lot of nothing to do can be more than a little disconcerting.  My daughter’s backpack was kicked into her closet not to be opened until January (too bad there was a snack left in it).  My school binders were tossed on the basement floor, only to be kicked into a corner to create space for the Christmas ornaments and other acceptable holiday clutter.  I stopped eating lentils for lunch and began to subsist on Christmas cookies (with the occasional beer to keep things regular).  My daughter followed my healthy example (other than the beer).  If you are curious about evidence of poor eating habits correlating with behavior issues, well let me just say, ask Santa.  The nice list is typically quite short. It fits on a post-it.  Parental types sit around, weaving tales of how a chubby old man can deliver millions of presents on one magical evening so that our children will believe that we are not the providers of the loot beneath the tree.  

Santa is real.

But he doesn’t bring our kids presents.

At least, not the families in my neighborhood.  Unfortunately, most children are on a month-long sugar binge when Christmas arrives, so Santa only needs only to maneuver his plus size booty and his reindeer driven sleigh to about 8 homes.  Those homes are all sugar-free.  Meanwhile, the rest of us heathens overcompensate while simultaneously fearing the mass devastation that might arrive if this day of potential lotto winnings were to miss our own children.  We go to Target.  We support China (who probably hosts the eight homes that are getting Santa’s cool hand-made toys). It’s a vicious cycle, and I must admit I totally and completely love it.  We are encouraged to lie to our children.  What fun!  Strange lesson, but what fun!

Once my own week of whiplash ended, of course, I got sick.  My daughter got sick.  This is one of our longest Christmas traditions.  So, now besides the outrageous amount of sugar and butter we were consuming (I mean outrageous!  I bought butter at Costco) we were adding countless hours of cartoon watching and internet surfing.  My daughter began speaking like that girl in the Exorcist. Well, she didn’t drop the F-bomb, but still, I was becoming ever more convinced that somehow she was possessed by a demon.  And yet, of course Santa still came. Not the real Santa.  He was still busy with his 8 homes in China.  The ME Santa.

The ME Santa is a serious sucker.

Christmas morning inevitably arrived.  My husband and I both heard the seven-year old demon child wake and go to the bathroom.  Partially out of fear for our lives and partially out of excitement that the ME Santa had arrived, we snuck into the living room to witness our daughter’s face when she saw the presents under the tree.  It was 5:15 a.m.  We heard her stumble back into her room.

An odd and mysterious silence overtook our home.

My husband and I looked at each other.  “Seriously?  She went back to sleep?  No.  No way.”

My husband opened her bedroom door and softly called her name.

Nothing.

Christmas morning, 5:15 a.m. and the parents are awake. And the child is asleep.  He looked at me and rolled his eyes, trying to quietly close her door.  As the latch clicked, she screamed.  Hello Christmas, welcome to our home.  It was not a scream of joy.  It was a scream of sheer terror. Linda Blair would have been proud.

Once we calmed her down and assured her that it was just her dumb ass parents waking her up, she got excited.   Presents, breakfast, coffee, more presents, more sugar, and the whole event was finished by 7:30 a.m.

ME Santa was in need of a nap, but instead went sledding.  I bet the real Santa was busy getting a pedicure by this point, instead of faking Christmas energy.  Like I said:  ME Santa = SUCKER.  

Even if it was exhausting, it was a day filled with magic.  I know my daughter learned about the true meaning of Christmas because when we tucked her in last night (mid argument) she said, “You guys think I’m crappy.  You tell me in the morning I’m crappy.  You told me on Christmas I was crappy.”  My husband and I looked at each other quizzically, wondering if the demons had finally departed, leaving our child’s soul in a confused state of crappiness.

“Um.  Honey.  You may have heard us use that word recently (after all, it had been Christmas break.  That was the least toxic of the bad words she probably learned), but it is not a word for seven-year olds.  You can’t say ‘crappy.'”

She looked at me like I had just shot her dog.  Her face wrinkled up like she’d consumed a large glass of rancid milk and she emitted a cry that I thought was only possible from two-year old children lit on fire by their siblings.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  I meant CRABBY.  I make mistakes sometimes, you know?  AAAAAAAWWWWAAAAAHHHH!

That was a look away and try not to laugh moment.  And a good representation of our Christmas break.

I could already predict the conversation on her first day back to school.  “Hey kiddo?  What’d you do over break?”

“I learned that crappy and crabby are sometimes interchangeable and when done so create surprising comic results.  Oh.  And that Santa will always bring you stuff.  Even if you’re crappy.