Tag Archives: Marriage

will there be bears?

26 Aug

“Will there be bears?” I asked.

John shook his head and explained that they would be spending their boys’ night a few minutes from our old bearless suburb across the Bay, and probably 100 yards from the main road on which you can find a CVS and Round Table Pizza.

“Do you have everything?”

“Yes.”

“OK, well….be careful out there.”

“You be careful, and have fun. Don’t worry about trying to do too much, you can sleep for hours if you want to.”

John had provided the opportunity to go camping with them, and I was admittedly less than pleased. I think you could describe the look on his face as half confused, a quarter surprised, and a quarter not-at-all surprised as I explained that I was unhappy with the invitation because now I was put in the position of having to feel bad about saying no, and I would rather just not even be asked in the first place.  It made sense at the time.

My friend Margie has a cheeky little napkin hanging on the bulletin board in her kitchen that says, “I love not camping.” I point at it when we visit, and quote it often, and I quoted it again when he asked.

Oh how I want to want to camp. It seems to be a popular thing for people to do and the snacks would be right up my alley…I hear there’s often chocolate and marshmallows AND bacon.

But after realizing the weekend’s arrangements were likely best for everybody, I was excused from going, and from the jobs of monitoring stick usage, dirt abatement and maintaining a 40-foot perimeter around the campfire. The guys loaded up their tent and stove and other supplies I did not recognize. John pointed out the ingredients they left me on the counter for my own “in the house” s’mores, and headed off into the beautiful sunshiny weekend for a night in the wilderness.

We waved at each other enthusiastically and I dashed up the stairs, ready to tackle my list. Of course I had a list; I wanted to use this time wisely.

I had just under 24 hours and a few simple things to do:

  • Clean out and organize all rooms, closets, bookshelves, and areas that could possibly contain LEGO’s and/or baseballs
  • Fully prepare for the start of school, short of packing lunches two weeks in advance
  • Give self manicure and pedicure
  • Catch up on DVR’d shows (that, my friends, is a legitimate to-do)
  • Plan meals for the week, nay, the month
  • Read backlog of magazines
  • Return backlog of emails
  • Think about exercising
  • Finish reading The Help then go see The Help in the theater, and of course…
  • Re-start, finish, and finally fall in love with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I am almost positive that I had NOT written:

  • Make and eat entire box of pasta salad
  • Run out of things to read on the Internet, because you have simply read it all
  • Don’t read any books at all– I mean it, NO books
  • Watch Hoarders, then feel yucky after
  • Watch romantic comedies until your eyes hurt, and feel way worse than you did after watching Hoarders
  • Argue with the cat about her incessantly stealing the drain things out of the sinks
  • Take picture of the cat with the drain things, because even though it’s so annoying, it’s kind of cute
  • Argue with the cat about her trying to remove the vent grate with her tiny little claws at 2:00 am, which unfortunately is shortly after you will finish watching a Drew Barrymore romantic comedy, and not one of her better ones.
  • Paint nails and allow to dry while laying motionless for the length of DVR’d Gossip Girl season finale
  • Rediscover long-dormant and impractical love of French house music
  • Use minimal math skills to evenly space out consumption of the three Hawaiian sweet rolls that are in the kitchen
  • Become overwhelmed at how many areas in house contain LEGO’s and/or baseballs

Though that is most certainly the list I did not write, it is the list I diligently completed while the boys were frivolously frolicking about in the woods.

don’t call that vintage: ‘dos and wheels

6 Apr

We took the boys in for haircuts the other day. Zach climbed up into the chair shaped like a race car and asked confidently for the “Buster Posey,” while Jake’s stylist and I stood over his impressive noggin of thick hair, pawing at it. She said “texturize” a few times and I nodded solemnly. We swept it over his eyes this way and that, and I gave the international signal for “No ‘Dumb and Dumber’ bangs please.” She looked horrified that I would even suggest such a thing would be possible on her watch. But you have to ask – you have to get it out on record that there are to be no straight across bowl cut bangs. We’ve been burned by that before.

That very morning the boys had been running about the baseball fields as the parents sat in the stands lamenting the states of each of our kid’s hair. Everybody’s was long and flopping into their eyes. And now thanks to baseball season, they were having to try to contain their locks under their hats, where we could also count on the bonus of all that sweat. The older boys are of course now responsible for the washing and the rinsing of the hair, which only makes me wonder how many layers of sweat we’re talking about, really.

Courtney the stylist whirled around Jacob like a blonde satellite – her brow furrowed and those funny scissors with all the teethy things snipping away in a blinding blur.  She circled him a dozen more times after she stopped snipping to swoosh the hair around again with her fingers. When she was finally satisfied with the swooshiness I suppose, she swung his chair around so I could see the results. “I love it,” I said loudly and matter-of-factly.  John leaned over to me and asked if there had actually been any hairs cut. It was my turn to roll my eyes. “It’s the style,” I said with the indignant emphasis of a teenage girl whose own style was being questioned, as I walked over to join them and swoosh it around too. Courtney, at my side, hands on her hips, chimed in. “It is….it is the style.” John shrugged and looked out the window to the parking lot, now painfully aware he was sitting in a room not only full of women who took pride in staying current with 10-year-old boys’ hairstyles, but also little boys who were too wrapped up in “Scooby Doo” to be of any help to him.

Jake grabbed his banana split lollipop out of the basket and took his spot next to us on the bench while we waited for Zach’s 1977 Luke Skywalker fluffy mane (his second go-round with this) to be shorn into the Buster Posey. The lollipop was still in Jake’s mouth, when in all seriousness he asked, “can we go to the mall?” John and I looked at each other, and busted out laughing like a couple of tired and predictable sitcom parents.

“What? What’ so funny?” Jake asked, still swirling the lollipop.

There was our little boy, with his styled hair, dirty baseball uniform, Kojak lollipop asking us to go to the mall, in his voice that seemed deeper than it was yesterday.

“Nothing,” was all we could say as we regained our composure. There was no way that he would be able to see himself as we saw him in that moment. Like he was going to ask for a 10-spot and the keys to the ’81 Camaro.

He comes by it naturally I suppose – I’m not making up the part about the ’81 Camaro. His father and I have logged many an hour driving around in an ’81 Camaro. John’s family bought it new back in the day, and he recalls with a gleam in his eye the day they got the call it had arrived. He was pulled out of school, and they headed off to the nearby metropolis of Twin Falls, Idaho to pick it up. I like to picture John in the teensy backseat with the silver interior, beneath the t-tops, with his own crooked haircut and big brown eyes. I also like to imagine him sticking his tongue out at the other kids as his family drove triumphantly through the streets of his very small and gossipy hometown.

John ended up bringing the Camaro, silver interior, t-tops and all, to college in LA where he fielded purchase offers nearly every time we stopped to get gas. He tried to teach me how to drive its manual transmission, but that was a short-lived and failed endeavor. I would instead be in charge of switching out the Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins CDs in the Discman. Still a very important job.

When we got married and moved to San Francisco, we knew the Camaro would not match with our new urbane lifestyle, so it went back to Idaho where it was quite literally put out to pasture. Whenever we go up for a visit, John takes a few minutes alone to trudge out to the field where the Camaro now sits. One year, he glumly reported that wasps had taken up residence under the hood.

Jake points out with excitement new Camaros every time he sees one. (I’m still waiting for the comeback of my childhood car – the Chrysler Cordoba. It’s imminent, I’m certain.) Then the guys get kinda quiet, with what I’m guessing are the wistful thoughts of the wasp hive with t-tops sitting in the field, and their not-so-secret dream of resurrecting it one day. One of them, after all, does have the hair for it.

That’s a high school John and the family Camaro, circa 1991

the terminal

8 Nov

I fly some. Not a lot, but some. Usually not very far and there has never been a passport involved. That will change someday, I’m confident. And hopefully on the other end there will be either insane sunsets and tropical breezes, or scones and Big Ben. I’m certainly not complaining. I will never complain about flying to New York, or Las Vegas, or to Lubbock where they have the…coziest….airport I have ever seen. Not when there is an amazing friend waiting 11 feet from the gate to pick you up. ( think I could have almost tapped her on the shoulder in the official waiting area from my seat on the plane.) Yes, I’ve become pretty adept at fitting magazines, books and gum in my purse, putting my license where I can grab it and strategically wearing slip on shoes.

OK, so I’ve also been known to be the harried and disorganized looking woman at the security gate that makes you roll your eyes and ask the person next to you, “do you think she’s ever flown before?” But I swear it’s not my fault. This belt is practically part of these pants. I wasn’t aware my knee brace is held together by something that looks like a scythe. I didn’t know you’re not allowed to have too much change in your wallet. Did you know that? I did not know that. But I found that out when the nice TSA lady had to put on a rubber glove to go through my change purse.

I know about the liquid thing, but I forget how often I have a bottle of water at the bottom of my gargantuan handbag. I don’t talk back or get snarky when they speak slowly to remind me that I cannot take that on the plane. I just apologize profusely and chuck it into the recycling bin left there for the adorably forgetful and oblivious. When we flew to San Diego for a conference last week, we saw a guy chug a liter of Diet Coke so he wouldn’t have to put it in that bin. A liter! Like the kind you take warm to a staff lunch or a picnic that you really didn’t have the energy to bake brownies for. He looked like he was going to throw up when he was done, so I secretly hoped he was not going to be sitting next to me.

While I may work hard at projecting the image that flying is a mundane exercise that one must endure to get somewhere cool, there is still the 5-year-old girl in there somewhere who finds the process pretty glamorous and cosmopolitan. Have you seen “Catch Me if You Can”? If you haven’t, you have to. It captures the golden age of air travel like nothing I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s wearing a hat, and the ladies have scarves, heels, and red lipstick. Pilots are suave and revered and, as you will find out by watching this movie, can get away with anything. And going to the airport was a big deal.

I nonchalantly hook myself up to the airport wi-fi as if I do it every day, but in the inside I am high-fiving myself. I’m trying hard not to hop onto Facebook to update, “I’m at the airport! Me! At the airport!”  or “Guess who I just ran into at the airport!” or “Wow, the airport is crazy today!” 

John also looks nonchalant from the outside, but I think he feels that way for real. Like many of you, he has about a gazillion miles logged.  He’s traveled on one of the longest flights on Earth multiple times. (I said a gazillion for emphasis, but when I said one of the longest flights on Earth, I was being serious – JFK-Johannesburg.) As adept as I am at selecting, packing, and reading magazines, he’s actually honed the art of sitting and staring. He can actually just zone out for sport. When we climbed on board the short jaunt to San Diego however, his eyes lit up when he spotted a new issue of Sky Mall. He may have, under his breath, referred to it as his favorite periodical.

There are many of you who fit into this obscenely well-traveled category…who fly weekly or monthly, and to locales that I’ve never heard of. I know when it is such a regular part of your life, there is the inevitable drudgery of delays and cancellations and the person next to you who won’t stop talking (shockingly, that is NOT me – can you believe it? I am not an airplane talker!) The excitement must wear off, and you stop looking at everybody and wondering where they are going or where they have been. You probably have a favorite airport.

I do. Other than SFO, I would have to pick McCarran in Las Vegas and JFK in New York. Las Vegas purely for sociological research. This is the one airport on Earth where you can tell who is going and who is arriving just by looking at them; the faces full of hope and promise vs. the cloudy eyes that reflect defeat and a killer headache.

We landed in JFK on our first trip to New York. It smelled exactly how I imagined it to – It was utilitarian and kind of dirty and reminded me of that show Night Court that was on in the 80’s, and the old opening for Saturday Night Live where the city looked gritty, but exciting. Everybody at the baggage carousel seemed to be planted there for my benefit…the “Welcome to New York, F-you” package. The accents were almost as thick as the air, and I’ve never heard so much simultaneous swearing in my life. I tried to contain my traitorous giggle and keep my eyes down for they were surely full of wonder & delight and would quickly give me away as a non-New Yorker.

The last time John was at JFK he and a handful of adults had to usher 55 kids through customs on the way to Africa and as the last one through he was stopped for the full search which caused him to sprint to the plane only to make it to his seat as the doors were closing. SFO-San Diego with just your wife and a carry-on may not hold the same sense of challenge and adventure. Unless your wife has $11 dollars worth of dimes, a built in belt, half a bottle of Aquafina and a knee brace.

The jet-setting feeling of air travel goes away though when you are standing barefoot, arms in the air above your head in the full body scanner machine. Having your full body scanned (or body fully scanned – I don’t know which is less disturbing) while a bunch of barefoot strangers watch, does not feel very glamorous after all.

persuasion

6 Oct

The boys want a dog. Like really bad. What boy doesn’t want a dog, I guess. And when I say boys, I mean all the males who live in my house. Here’s the hitch: they’ve teamed up, and I’m fearful they are using their collective cuteness and unparalleled persistence as their secret weapons.

Frankly, I don’t feel that I’m ready for a dog. Two human boys? Sure, I can handle that. Well, sometimes, I can handle that. But a dog? With fur and paws and stuff? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t know how good of a job I’m doing right now with what I’m already responsible for.

I’ve been casually interviewing people on the street about how their lives have changed since the dog. It’s hair, and shoe chewing and “surprises” in the hallway. I saw Marmaduke this summer while we were on vacation in Las Vegas, which as it turns out, was the only redeeming quality of the movie. On top of it being a simply awful cinematic disaster, it did not help the boys’ argument for the dog. There was a lot of slobber, and passing gas, and the guy losing his job because of Marmaduke’s terrible terrible behavior (I hope I didn’t spoil any critical plot points.)

Of course, I’ve had a few people tell me it’s been the best, most wonderful thing that has happened to their family. John is consistently reminding me about those people. I turn around and cite the few souls who flat out told me, “don’t do it, just have another kid.”

I’ve had dogs. Well, I think it would be more accurate to say that my brother had dogs, and I lived at the same address as said dogs. Scott & Mugsy shared a close relationship long before I was ever born. I mean for years. Mugsy went to doggy heaven when I was still little. Through the years, the story of how he’d shown up abandoned on our doorstep one 4th of July when Scotty was a tyke became family lore. Apparently, he was the world’s most perfect dog. He had the body of a full size canine, and the legs of a tiny one. He stepped over toys, and slept in front of our bedroom doors as our guardian and never chewed anything and would let my brother and the neighbor kids dress him up when they played cowboys, spacemen, and army. (Um, my brother was a kid in the 60’s. I played Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman and Remington Steele).

Zeke was also technically my brother’s dog. We got him about 2 months before Scotty left for college. Zeke and I were cordial to each other but we had drastically different interests and schedules.  He was a Brittney Spaniel, a hunting dog with a lot of energy, and my parents had to add 2 more feet to the back fence because he could jump out of the yard flat-footed without even trying very hard. He stayed outside and had his own little house, and when Scott would come home from college he would breeze in the front door, say hello to us, and head straight out the back to hang out with his furry little buddy.

Yes, a boy and his dog. That is what my boys envision for themselves. Every essay that Jake writes, if it’s not entirely about a fictional dog, or the general greatness and amazingness of dogs, or the emptiness he feels because he does not have a dog, includes at least a sentence proclaiming his untamed desire for the animal. He does in fact look like a kid who should have a puppy. Overalls, a fishing pole, and a loyal canine companion. He’s got freckles, a sweet smile and floppy hair that hangs in his big brown eyes (See?? I can’t even get my kid a haircut – how can I have a dog?)

Zach’s on the same page. He has a legion of stuffed puppies who, he reminds me are not real, but he takes very good care of them, and gives them interesting names that only kids can come up with (“Salad the Dog” anybody?), and softly tells the stuffed puppies that he will still love them even if he gets a real one someday. He even wakes in the night to make sure they are all accounted for.

And then, of course, there’s John. Every time John is on his laptop lately, I peek over his shoulder, and there are all these sappy and adorable photos of full grown dogs, and little puppies in need of good homes. I’m pretty sure he got a good sense of where I am emotionally when he peeked over my shoulder this afternoon, and saw a screenful of fall boots that are also looking for a good home.

I get it. I understand the allure. Dogs are cute, and they look interested in what you are doing. And I know they are loyal and amazing companions. But, when I greet a new dog, I usually keep my hands to myself, look down at them and say, “hello there.” I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m not looking for anything long-term. And I’ve seen people talk to my kids that way, so I really don’t feel very bad about it.

Honestly, I’m trying to be responsible and realistic. In fact, I’m pretty sure I thought less about the consequences of having human children, than I have about adopting a dog.  We keep weird schedules, and we’ve tried the “kid contract” where our eldest signed a non-legally binding piece of paper outlining our expectations regarding the much smaller pet rat. That did not go awesomely.

But then there are the big brown, yes, puppy dog eyes (John’s included) that are constantly trying to change my mind. And of course, societal pressures! Peer pressure! Corporations who want me to think that I’ll be a better patriot and mother if I get a dog! The Man! Big Brother! And probably, my actual big brother too. And even though I effectively ended the discussion this afternoon when I pointed out tall black zippered walking boots with juuust the right amount of slouch, I know the conversation is not over.

Because, I haven’t exactly said no. Hey wait, I have said no, and nobody seems to be taking that seriously. As it turns out, I am weak when it comes to puppy dog eyes. Especially the human kind.

fine. be that way.

20 Sep

I’ve had better weeks. I’ve had worse… but I’ve definitely had better.

You know when your week is kinda going ok, and then it starts to take a turn for the worse? First it’s one sorta small mildly unpleasant thing, and then it’s like a medium not-so-good thing. Then boom, boom, it’s two blatantly sucky things back to back, and you start looking around for an explanation? As part of my investigative process, I usually pull up the full moon calendar. There is seriously something to it. For the first three years of his life, Zachary would be up all night fussing the two nights leading up to the full moon. EVERY month for three years. After a while, John could not argue with my hypothesis anymore, as much as he wanted to. The moon pulls on the ocean, I know it can screw around with our tiny little bodies & mess with our heads and make us cranky and irritable. C’mon, I know it’s not always the moon that gives us grief. It is fun, however to think of the moon as an adversary. Whaddaya gonna do – throw down with the moon?

When you’re mad, and feeling kinda beat up, I’m sure you notice that everybody else’s driving is really terrible. Then I look at myself, and I see that I’m hunched over, chin all the way over the steering wheel, knuckles white, in my best defensive driving position. I’m sure if you peeked in the window, I’d look Cruella De Vil driving that crazy car of hers, wild hair, gangly arms, lips thin and growly. I don’t have that cigarette holder or a puppy fur coat though, so I’ve got that going for me.

I just want to get home and hide. I want to pull the drapes and turn off the phones. I’ll drag the sleeping bags into the living room and let the boys watch a movie and eat dinner picnic style, just so I can feel cozy and protected from the maniacal villains who are running around loose out there, intent on making me miserable.

I know by now that you can’t control people – that never ends well – so I will try my darnedest to control things from within the house. The laundry. The dishes. That candy shelf. The photo cabinet that is currently sitting open because I was going to pour all of my frustrations, and swear words that I wanted to say, and dirty looks that I wanted to give into reorganizing that horrible horrible closet. And I wanted to sit down and write something funny about anything, but every opening line I typed sounded like the beginning of a manifesto.

Reading’s good and takes my mind off things, but the book on my nightstand is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve been trying for months to read it, refusing to pick up another book until I finish. Actually, I angry like Hulk every time I pick it up, because I can’t get past all the Swedish, and it makes me feel dumb. I really should just quit trying. I tossed aside Eat, Pray, Love after the Eat part and never looked back. Then there was the added bonus of one less Julia Roberts movie I felt obliged to see.

When you’re mad, like really good and mad, there are few practical ways to dissolve the anger. A choose-your-own- adventure of sorts. Part of being an adult, a responsible, thoughtful, and prayerful person, is to select the right adventure. Sometimes I goof and pick “rant”. I’m spoiled rotten that I have people who will listen and be patient with me. That my husband, who even out in the mountains of Idaho, will drive two miles just so he has better reception to hear me gripe. And that I have amazing friends, who on any given day, if I hint the slightest that I’m upset, will text and call to say that even though they don’t know the story, they’re mad too, on my behalf.

Or, sometimes the adventure starts with yelling, stomping, muttering, crying, or the unfortunate combination of all of the above.

Moses finally had it, let his fury get the best of him, struck that rock with his staff and was kept out of the from the Promised Land, even after all that work and all those years of being obedient. Fine. I guess I’m supposed to get my you-know-what together, let go of my worries and fretting and the anger that for some reason I seem to enjoy holding on to. Surrender. Bluch, really? Do I have to? It’s not like I’m trying to take it out on everybody else so they’ll feel terrible too, right? Right?

Surrender is not very glamorous. I’ll try, but I’m telling you right now, it’s not easy. I’m pretty sure it’s my least favorite option. Channeling anger into an activity that’s obviously counter-productive can be fun and bring relief, even if it’s temporary. I can rage-eat a bag of Wavy Lay’s like nobody’s business. It feels fan-flippin-tastic at the moment, but does it feel better later? Definitely not, especially since, in a blind fury, I probably also whipped up a batch of clam dip to go with it.  Like yelling, like crying, like complaining – the joy of clam dip furiouso is fleeting.

land of plenty

15 Sep

I finally got the photos off my camera. Easter’s on there. The last day of school. The first day of school, and everything in between which includes two different rounds of the boys’ haircuts and our official summer family vacation.

Like many a vacation tale, it started off a little iffy before it oozed into what would be a lazy, sun-drenched, donut-filled extravaganza. The first ½ hour was a little touch-and-go, what with driving out of the garage with the back hatch still open (hello vacation cliché!), Zachary dropping a ketchupy hamburger open faced onto the floor of the car, and John and I digging furiously in the console for the bridge toll transponder that was sitting safely on the hutch at home.

I was already apprehensive. Last year’s “vacation” was almost the end of me. It was two weeks on the road, driving through various deserty landscapes of the west. The boys fought constantly… to the point where I threatened to have taxi glass installed in the car when we got to Vegas. Oh yes, Vegas – a favorite destination of years past, but now where we had to answer an endless barrage of questions about the lady butts on every billboard, and what exactly  people were drinking out of the giant test tubes and plastic guitars. And why, in the pirate show, were the dozen bikini clad lady pirates holding that one poor man pirate hostage?

Then of course there was the great Bellagio buffet incident of 09 – where on top of me allowing the boys to maintain Vegas hours and walk amongst booze swilling pirate bikini fans, I ok’d at one of the ritziest buffets in town, a plate of sushi, a large coke, and a ginormous slice of hazelnut cake for our then 8-year-old. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about how that unfolded. I will say it ended with a mad dash across the restaurant, and us slinking out under the cover of darkness with John muttering something about the absence of a paper trail, and the unfortunate lady in the white pants.

As we high-tailed it out of town the next morning we told the boys to take a good look, because there was no way we were bringing them back to Las Vegas before they turned 21.

That was last year. This year of course, our plans for a variety of reasons included Las Vegas. Haven’t you had a trip, for reasons outside of your control, ended up including Las Vegas? I thought so. But you can understand my hesitancy as I prepared for this year’s trip. Two weeks again. Vegas again.

Las Vegas usually brings out the quirks in people, no surprise. Even outside of the seven deadlies…which probably, technically aren’t quirks. Ok, maybe gluttony is a quirk. The long-running joke in my house is my wacky and adorable scarcity mentality, and in La Vegas it comes out something fierce. Now this is actually very exasperating to me, because it is in direct contradiction with my own faith where there is an endless supply of grace, and love, and blessings and forgiveness. But, I’m fairly certain I would have been one of those Israelites traipsing through the desert, yammering into Moses’ ear about manna this, and manna that and getting a good spot to set up my sleeping mat for the night, because the desert, with all these people, feels scrunched.

The thought of going to the Las Vegas hotel pool any time past 10 am gives me the shakes. I’m certain we’ll never get a beach chair, and I’ll be left to wander around with armloads of books and towels and sunscreen, my kids trailing behind already wearing their goggles; roaming in between the oiled, tanned and hung over, like an agitated ghost in a sun hat, unable to find an eternal resting place. The joy of finding a chair, even one chair to share with three other people is just almost too much to bear. Suddenly that one little chair is the promised land. And you don’t care that you’re going to get splashed or burnt or maybe no sun at all. Because it’s yours. You earned it. And you’re not leaving ‘til dark.

Or until the buffet opens at 4:00. Now if your kid isn’t throwing up at the buffet, that’s the happiest spot in Vegas. Unfortunately, it’s the other place my scarcity mentality rears its ugly head. John rolls his eyes, but appeases my desire to get to the buffet the moment they open the doors. I try to compromise and allow a 4:30 arrival. Of course, the line is a monster, filled with people who will flat out tell us we are too young to be eating at 4:30.

I stand there in line fidgeting, looking over the little ladies in front of me without even standing on my toes, trying to sneak a peek at the dining room.

John looks at me, and sighs because he can read my mind.

“They are NOT going to run out of shrimp….(brow furrow)…or crab legs.”

This is always when I spy someone practically skipping back to their table with a plate in each hand – one piled high with shrimp, the other with crab legs. My brow goes back to the furrow.

“Colleen, they will NOT run out of shrimp. This is Las Vegas, they know what they are doing.”

I nod tentatively, but really don’t relax until I’m the one skipping back to the table with my shrimp, trying not to make eye contact with the people in line who are of course, eyeing my impressive shellfish haul.

I’m curious when I’ll learn. Because I’m never right. We always find a seat, and I always eat so much that I feel gross, in a good way. In fact my unfounded concerns are so rarely realized that I do that dumb thing, where you almost hope you don’t find a chair, just so you can feel justified in your unjustifiable concerns. Another quirk.

no commission

8 Sep

There’s a good chance you’ve been on the receiving end of one of my enthusiastic, yet earnest pitches for whatever has most recently caught my fancy. I figure I was going to write about it all eventually, so I’d put it together in one convenient index, forcing me to find new stuff to write about later. You’ll see it’s broken down into three of my favorite areas of interest, Media & Books, Food & Beverage, Entertainment.  For fun, give yourself four points for every one that I’ve tried to talk you into, or if you’ve been a good sport and  tolerated one of the related Facebook posts.

BOOKS & MEDIA

Donald Miller had been on the New York Times best seller list for a bazillion weeks before I read Blue Like Jazz. But you’d have thought I was his agent. I was reading it in the front seat of the car in the church parking lot. (It’s a long story, I don’t usually just sit out there.) Some people I knew walked by and I stuck my head out the window to yell at them, “I’m reading Blue Like Jazz – have you read it? You have to read it.”

  “Um yeah – we’ve read it… like a year ago. Thanks though.”

 Joel Stein’s Awesome Column in Time Magazine. Sure I read the rest of Time too, but usually after I read the Awesome Column. However, if there’s a difficult story elswewhere in the magazine I know I’m supposed to read to fulfill my duty as a caring and informed human, I use it as my incentive to make it through the depressing statistics and heart wrenching anecdotes. You could call The Awesome Column my reading dessert. Joel Stein makes everything funny, and I like things that are funny.

New York Magazine. I actually wrote about this magazine last week in glossy. John was packing for Africa, and I was reading New York Magazine’s article on James Franco:

“John you have to take this with you.”

“I’m out of room in my carry-on.”

 “It’s a magazine – you can fit it.”

“No I can’t.  I have a huge binder.”

“How ‘bout I put holes in it, and then put it in your binder.”

 “No.”

“Ok, how about I rip out the Franco article and you carry it in your pocket.”

 “James Franco? You can’t be serious.”

“I am – you have to read this.”

 “Fine.” We had a very similar discussion a month early about their piece on bed bugs. This magazine is that good.

The Lovely Bones Ok, this is definitely not funny. Even if you loved it as much as I did, don’t make my same mistake and try to talk anybody, let alone everybody, into it. That’s not the kind of material you can force on another person.

FOOD & BEVERAGE

The Chilada – this is The Lovely Bones of adult beverages. Though I may associate this drink with lazy summer nights in the backyard, the base is Clamato & you can’t just make another person try to enjoy that.

I’ve had so many Facebook status updates about Jack in the Box tacos that I am finally out of material.

Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Fudge & Coldstone Banana ice cream This all-important category depends on which of my two pregnancies we’re talking about. After Jake was born, John said he was fully expecting me to give birth to Jake and Ben and Jerry. I ate a pint of this just about every day, which paired with my daily secret second breakfast at McDonalds, helped me achieve those extra 70 lbs every pregnant lady longs for.  My enabling friends at the PR agency where I worked would accompany me for mid-day ice cream runs. Shortly before Jake arrived, I sat down at a staff meeting and cracked open a pint. I don’t remember the meeting topic, but I do remember scraping the bottom of the cup about 5 minutes later having inhaled its delicious contents. I looked up with the spoon in my mouth and the entire agency was staring at me, mouths agape.

Coldstone banana was Zach’s fault, and unfortunately my quest for this creamy perfection lead me to one of the moments I am least proud of. I like to think of myself as a really happy-go-lucky customer….I’d go so far as to say the waitstaff person’s dream! But the high school kid behind the counter that summer who broke the news that banana had been replaced with wasabi flavor for a fun promotion, might paint you a different picture. I may have yelled a little, but there was mostly snarky ranting until the kid looked like he might cry, and I had to go storming away with stupid vanilla.

Do you wonder whether God tests you sometimes? That maybe he puts the opportunity in front of you to do the right thing – the hard thing – to see how you might react? Well…. I failed. I was at the library the VERY next day after the wasabi incident, and here comes that poor kid. I darted behind the new releases and hid. I’m sure all I would have had to do was to point at my gigantic pregnant belly, crack a joke and apologize (I would have meant it), but I couldn’t because I was so mortified with myself. It’s been five years, and I obviously still think about that kid, and have a feeling I’m going to have to answer to that one someday. Oh and by the way Coldstone, how’d that wasabi experiment work out for you?

Banana yogurt shakes. The best ones ever were around the corner from my first real job at the headquarters of a stuffy, strict, now-non-existent bank. In hindsight, I don’t know if I should have tried to sneak so many of my coworkers out of our fairly monitored building at 2 pm in our suits and shiny shoes, only to have us return with giant Styrofoam cups of banana yogurt shakes.

ENTERTAINMENT

Disneyland. Dear parents, it’s never too early to take your kid to Disneyland.  

I had not realized my loyalty and devotion to the classic Christmas movie status of Elf, until I was walking from the parking lot at work with some guy who had a desk down the hall. I mentioned Elf, and he said it sucked. Before I knew it, I said sternly that I needed to go and jay-walked across the street, only to end up walking parallel with him, en route to the exact same destination.

Saturday Night Live. We were recently in New York and by a very happy set of circumstances ended up sitting in 30 Rockefeller Center, Studio 8H. It was a Tuesday (the Tuesday before Jay- Z & Betty White – holla!) but we got to see the set guys working. John turned to me and said, “oh no – are you crying?!?” Of course I was. When I got home I likened it to people with simpler tastes perhaps seeing the Sistine Chapel, the Mona Lisa, or the ocean for the first time. In all fairness Roseanne Roseannadanna was my earliest impression in pre-school, and then, ironically, there was that Church Lady phase during middle school.

Twin Peaks. I’m still thankful I was not alone in this during high school. There were a few of us, and we dressed up like the characters to watch, and worked in as many Twin Peaks references as we could into regular conversation. We felt so avant garde, because the majority of our classmates thought it was lame, and us lame by association. I know now we were ahead of our time. Twin Peaks makes Lost look as complicated as Murder She Wrote.

You knew I couldn’t not mention Twilight. Believe me I had no intention of loving Twilight at all, I fell into it. As I’ve heard from my Twilight semi-support group, that’s just kind of how it happens. I am buoyed by the growing network of fellow Twi-moms. For the rest of you, a word to the wise, there are more of us than you might think.

And alas, the DVR. The first piece of technology that I mastered before my tech-savvy husband. It has actually lessened the day-to-day stress of my life. You should have seen the crease in my brow when, back in 2002, I realized that our VCR wouldn’t record channel 7 or my beloved Alias. John would have to huff it down the hill from his very serious seminary studies in the very serious seminary library to take over bedtime so I could watch Sydney Bristow get herself out of yet another jam. The DVR – good for the heart, and the marriage.

 I know I get this level of generally unbridled enthusiasm from my dad. When he was into Marie Calendar’s frozen pot pies, he bought me a case of them, twice. The same goes for the Lipton powdered soup in the handy “3:00 pick me up” size. And then there are his movies – My Blue Heaven and Captain Ron starring Kurt Russell. Don’t tease him about Captain Ron – he’ll walk across the street just to get away from you.

Tally your points and let me know if I owe you a banana yogurt shake.