Thursday, July 24, 2008

Whinestone Cowboy

A dear friend recently asked (in print) if I would please blog soon, and well, let's face it, that little ego stroke was all it took to get my fingers on the keyboard. Fortunately, there's been a blog brewing in my mind, though I've had doubts about my ability to convert it to written word. But for the sake of my friend, I'll give it a whirl...

As some of you know, my back is a worthless piece of shit, and has been for many moons. Thus, for Christmas (in 2006), my mama done give me a certificate for a massage. I practically melted as I opened it. In our family, I am the massager, never the massagee, so I lost myself in a dream of having my lower back pounded/pummeled/pelted for an hour.

And then a strange thing happened: I didn't use the certificate for two years, despite periods of such acute pain that I couldn't go out and play, not with my kids, my friends, no one. I relied on an Excedrin/coffee cocktail, and just rode it out. Friends would say, "You need to get that massage." "I know," I'd counter, "...but..." I can't say what my aversion was. I'm fine getting down to my skivvies, fine with strangers, and sure as hell fine with someone using their mad massage skills on my train wreck of a back.

Cut to last Monday. I couldn't bear seeing my "MASSAGE" reminder in my inbox anymore, and I went in. The form asked if I had any problem areas, and I circled lower back until the pen ran out of ink. When the spritely masseuse appeared, she took one look at my form and promised to "really tackle that lower back." I could hardly wait to get naked and let her work her magic. Little did I know her magic lies in another realm altogether.

As we entered our room she made obligatory small talk, and I mentioned that I have two kids, at which point she practically fainted, only to steady herself and tell me what blessing from God they are. I concurred, for they are pretty great, and I'm not above thanking God for them. Soon we established a common acquaintance, a woman whom I hold extremely dear, and I somehow told myself that our mutual friend was certain to translate into the best massage ever given. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Instead she used this beloved friend as a segue to this women's retreat she recently attended. Now, I'm no Einstein, but it only takes a few "praise Jesuses" and "thanks be to Gods" for me to clue in to a person's spiritual persuasion. For the record, I have nothing against Christians, and in very specific contexts, I even identify myself as one (followed by "but...but...but..."). I mean, I think the world is being destroyed in the name of Jesus, but I try not to hold that against any particular Christian. Anyway, so we're thirty miles into this lifeless retreat anecdote-turned-sermon, and I realized that she had only massaged my upper back, one side at a time, and was moving to my feet. "Surely she's saving the best for last," I told myself, and my lower back became giddy with anticipation. After lightly (tickling?) my legs, I became worried about the time. I knew I must only have 20 minutes left, and I REALLY needed some attention on my back. I was at a loss to hint to her, as my sinuses were draining like Niagara Falls, and I had but one thin Kleenex keeping me from soiling the little face pillow. Also, I couldn't get a word in, what with her gushing about some author at the retreat who writes books called Princess. So named because we women, whether size 2 or 22, are all God's princesses, and we ought to dress the part. Oh and God is particularly fond of his little darlings wearing rhinestones! Lord in heaven, all I could do was respond in silence. She couldn't have heard me through the face pillow anyway. She went on to explain that this author's background was that her church, in response to her severe financial crisis, decided to support her attempt to become Miss USA. Blessed be these rhinestone morons, they dug deep in their pockets, not to feed hungry children or build homes, but to outfit this Princess in her evening wear and buy her plane tickets. I admit to taking the Lord's name in vain in my head, and also, asking him to transport me. To anywhere. Ghetto. Side of the road. Republican convention. Whatever. He certainly wasn't answering my prayers that this goon go anywhere near my lower back. That's right. She never touched my back. She did some creepy face smoothie, during which I was forced to look at her. I shuddered and squeezed my eyes shut. I no longer wanted her touching me at all. I didn't want her holy-rollin' rhinestone-lovin' spirit seeping into my flesh. I have my own problems don't you know.

Under less disturbing circumstances, I may have conjured up the nerve to say something like, "What the fuck? What about my back?" But I r-e-a-l-l-y felt ickified, and couldn't get my clothes on fast enough. I averted her gaze, and tried to tell myself by crossing the threshold of the massage room, I'd be free of her Fire-and-Rhinestone cooties. I literally ran out of there, where Todd and Reilly were waiting. In the car I spied a MUCH-needed box of Kleenex, and thanked the Lord. I may not be on par with his other Princesses, but at least my nose isn't running.

...oh my achin' back...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

viewer discretion

Okay I'm taking a major risk by even mentioning this, but as a parent, I am compelled to share a little landmark occasion in the life and consciousness of my first born.

I'm certain 99% of you will storm my house, torches ablaze, but sometimes I let my kids stay up and watch a little grown-up prime time tv with me. Our favorite shows in syndication are Will & Grace and Frasier, the latter being the drier and more cerebral of the two. I have very specific reasons for allowing my kids to view these programs, and I always love to hear them chuckling over the subtleties and soaking in whatever cultural/social diversity they can.

We have this rule in our house, though I LOATHE television in the daytime, as well as most other times, especially Disney Channel propaganda bullshit, but we have this rule that if for some reason I oversleep, my kids can watch tv until I wake up. This rarely happens, as I am a serious early bird. But this morning, as well as a couple weeks ago, I did oversleep, and Quinn was watching the tube. As I fumbled around for my coffee, I noticed he was watching Frasier, as opposed to the various "children's" channels. This morning, in fact, he was suffering through ten minutes of the Golden Girls just waiting for Frasier to start. Strike me down, but it warmed my heart. I still hate tv, but it signifies that his sensibilities are becoming more sophisticated, and frankly, I think the "kid" channels are more damaging for them than anything aimed at adults. The way in which these children speak to adults, and to each other, as well as their obsession with drama, fashion, and status, makes me want to bomb the networks, whereas the well-scripted, adult debauchery seems better suited to its cast(s), and of course, its audience.

It's not so much that I'm proud of my son watching adult programming, it's that his preference is showing some refinement, and exquisite taste I might add. I know most of you will disagree with me on principle, and I can take it, mostly because there's a Frasier marathon on...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Todd is inexplicably drawn to Grocery Outlet, a fact which I find to be a bit scandalous, given his high standards where food is concerned. Me, I'm just a snob, and can't quite bring myself to buy diet TAB, which are placed next to the garden rakes, which draws one's eye straight to the pyramid of off-brand Pepto Bismal. It's just too damned higgeldy piggeldy in there for me. I don't think the cereal and fertilizer should share a display, and I must reveal the true retail beast within me and confess that such a vast array of non-brands makes me feel like I'm in a foreign country. Crapland.

Anyway, every so often, if a person is crazy enough to go in several times a week, a person can find good deals. It's like the lottery. After all, that coconut chocolate bar from my previous blog post was found at Grocery Outlet. We've also gotten Amy's frozen entrees, and lots and lots and lots of candy. (Proof of G.O.'s spell, for Todd doesn't even like candy, yet he comes home with wheelbarrows full of chocolate [gag!] every few days.)

I never know how to react to the disgustingly yellow bags he brings in by the dozen because whatever he has found, he has bought 75 of them. Could be Kit Kats, could be a deep-dish mushroom souffle with spelt crust and tartar sauce topping. But if it is a delicious chicken, broccoli, cheese casserole, there will never be another one again. Ever.

"I thought it looked interesting." He'll say. Frequently, after baking some rank concoction, he'll catch me the next time I head out the door and say, pleadingly, "Please offer these (74 packages of) souffles to (whomever)."

Okay let me get to my point. Todd has gone completely mad over those P♥M juices, in their tall sleek glasses. He is so taken with them that he buys 20 at a time, and we can scarcely fit milk in the refrigerator, for all the P♥M. Oh, and we don't really even like it that much. Sure the first few seconds elicit a Hawaiian Punch-like response in your mouth, but then the furious bitter receptor taste buds rise up and let you know just how wrong you were. Blech. I have long said that while one hard-earned pomegranate seed is delicious, a bowl of them is bitter as hell, and the juice is no different. Since nothing else will fit the refrigerator, we have no orange juice or anything, so we drink P♥M. So he keeps buying it. The problem here is that the glasses are glasses, not plastic. In other words, not disposable. So we have them all. ALL. They're lined up in our cupboard like shiny soldiers, they adorn our counter tops, they have permanent residence in at least one half of our sink, and if you were thinking about putting a cup on the top rack of the dishwasher, fuggedaboudit.

So what do we do? Should I start smuggling four glasses into every house I visit and leave them in the cupboards like some weird reverse bandit? I felt less overrun by our four mice, who produced approximately 97 babies each day. Todd suggested the glasses might make a nice vase, but A) Our yard is gravel, so not a lot of pretty things waiting to be picked, and B) The glasses aren't nice enough to give as a vase. You know? Like, "Here Megan, in honour of your birth I brought these beautiful rocks, in this totally frou-frou P♥M vase. Happy trashmoon, er, babymoon." Also, I can't move them fast enough doling them out one at a time.

Fortunately, our entire set of cobalt blue chunky glasses broke over the course of the past month, all 12 of them. They were a wedding gift so after 13 years I was ready for a change, plus it made room for our P♥Mware. Ooh lah lah.

What, you know you're jealous.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

same song, second verse

No, if I have to go to the (beeping) coast AGAIN, then you you have to read about it AGAIN. Seriously. I've never been one for stoicism. I'm dragging all your asses down with me.

Todd has taken the kids to the beach for several weekends in a row, with the big build-up being that on the 4th of July, Mama was coming too. While I did manage to get one corner of my mouth to lift a little, I noticed my kids were wearing pretty thin with this routine. I hate to say this, because Todd busts his ass to show us a good time, and if I do say so, forks out a pretty penny as well, but there are only so many things we can do there. We lived there for ten years, so the otters and sea lions on the bayfront aren't exactly evoking shrieks of delight, and we're surely not reducing ourselves to some touristy bullshit like Ripleys or a whale watching boat, whereupon one learns just how fucking stinky those lurky, terrifying creatures are. For $60. So we mostly hang at the beach until I whine that I'm getting emaciated and when is lunch? Then we trudge up this monstrous hill, which I'm almost certain was crafted by satan himself, and after I'm artificially revived, we head to Grand Central, where my kids are now convinced that I will be shat upon by another bird. (They know about my luck, as do some of you.) After lunch we hit Ray's Food Place and gather those goodies that are only permissible because A)someone else is paying and B) that person is not looking. Then we rent a movie at Chuck's, and go BACK down the devil hill, costing me what precious little meniscal tissue I have left in my knees. I sit on my ass pretending that the fire builds itself, and that I deserve bonus points for, well, being there, and making a good show. At one point I lay on my stomach to read, in my make-shift bedroom, and a furious gust of sand blew right down my back and deep (DEEP!) into my underwear. In case you're wondering, there is no discreet way to dislodge? scrape? remove? a sandstorm from your crack. So you just nod to yourself "I'm roughing it," and feel thankful that if anyone can distract your from your gritty dilemma, it's David Sedaris. The s'mores weren't as good this time, and I was reminded that I hate chocolate. Back up at the "bungalow." (read: 30-ft. travel trailer from the 60's, in all its original splendor, er, putrescence) After settling in for a movie, I became tired and went to bed on the only big, regular bed. This is no mystery. I'm fat and as such, have weak joints and a whole mess of shit that entitles me to the bed. But, entitled though I may have felt, I was appropriately chagrined to wake up alone and find out that no one wanted to sleep with my snoring. As it was they shut all the doors leading to the bedroom and slept together in a heap, in hopes of insulating themselves from the offensive guttural gasping.

I meant to take a picture of the shower in this place. It was torn out of a dollhouse and moved into this trailer. Anyway, yesterday morning, while T walked on the beach, I wanted there to be no doubt about our imminent departure so I rather shittily packed everything. I then decided to skip a shower (a first for me, ever in my life), and speed home. I must say that for all my incessant whining, my kids were so glad to be there with me, and we did capture some smiles, even mine, though I apologize now for the barnacles embedded in my teeth. Smiling kids is what it's all about...well, that and hitting Starbucks on the way out, even if they only had reduced fat cinnamon crumble cake.

My bedroom, with a well-stocked bedside stand:


Proof that I can crack a smile even when the nearest Old Navy is 100 miles away:

Mama's beach beauty:

Quinn, intent on starting the bonfire:

Some people look radiant on the beach. I look like a beached manatee. And this is Quinn's new "I-don't-want-my-picture-taken face:"

Possibly the only moment in which Reilly has been still her entire life. My sweet girl:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

surviving by a hair

Suffice it to say the single most traumatic aspect of parenting Quinn is forcing him to get his haircut. Yes I know all my friends think I am the devil for continuing to keep him shorn when he so desires his locks flowing in the wind, but this is not the point of my post.

Today was Black Wednesday, which means a pall was cast over the sky as we drove to Supercuts to do the unthinkable. Needless to say Quinn became emotional and crossed the threshold of acceptable opposition. I stuck to my guns though, and we emerged with one short-haired pissed-off boy, and a guilt-riddled pissed-off mother. His reaction escalated during our car ride, enough so that he knew he was in for some consequences.

Interjection: While at the "salon" we saw a woman who was mentally and physically impared getting a trim. My kids were naturally curious, and very solemn about it. They talked later about how sad it was that she was confined to a wheelchair, and had clearly never walked, and how she seemed to have no choice about her haircut.

So after flipping through all the appropriate (and inappropriate) responses to Quinn's meltdown, wherein he claimed his very life had been cheapened beyond recognition, and that he would obviously amount to nothing in life, I decided once we were home and he was exhausted from listing the ways in which I had rendered him at a tragic and permanent disadvantage, not to mention all the imperfections about the haircut, that he was going to write me a list of things for which he was grateful. While I ran out on some errands, this is what he came up with:

Perhaps, just perhaps, he's going to make it after all.

(Spare me the emails advocating for his Rapunzel rights.)

pool sharks

I come from a swimming family, and it makes me giddy, down to my cells, to see Quinn and Reilly gliding effortlessly from one end of the pool to the other, putting those long-ass (Quinn), muscular (Rei) bodies to use. After last week's scare, I am just so happy to have healthy happy children splashing about...that is, until someone gets my phone wet. Then there's hell to pay!

Feel free to join us!