Friday, January 23, 2009

death by ramen

Most of you know that my ridiculous food allergies, which prohibit me from eating everything but rocks and some sediments, have relegated me to a daily menu of bananas, Top Ramen (in the buff), and whatever meat I can scrounge up, since I don't cook. I eat the banana for breakfast, Ramen for lunch, and typically, another Ramen for dinner. Initially this was working fine. Being that I can't have anything tasty, I detached from food altogether, and was rewarded for my deprivation by losing over forty pounds. Not too shabby eh? Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. For me, the end looked like this: My fingernails started falling completely out. In sheets. All the way to the nail bed. It's gorgeous, I don't know why it didn't catch on. Then came the fistfuls of hair, which I tried to ignore until I was down to a few strands and B started terrifying me with warnings of scurvy and death.

Meanwhile, I fell out of love with dry Ramen. This is very bad, as it is my staple. My cupboard full of Oriental-flavored crunchy wonderment and sustenance gave me great security. I could feel full and lose weight, for the low low price of 10 cents per pack. Well, I guess you get what you pay for. I mean, I'm dying for chrissake. I carry a bag of them in my car, which is sheer genius, and helps me avoid burritos. Those unassuming little packs were also my hero the night we all left Jacob's to discover 15 inches of impenetrable ice on every car window. I mean this shit was not coming off. First I was using a pen, until my fingers froze and fell off (in keeping with the pattern of hair and fingernail loss), and then I remembered the Ramen. I grabbed a pack, already frozen stiff, and scraped away until a blessed little four-inch clearing appeared on my windshield. I was so thankful for my Ramen, that is, until the pack burst open and the noodle fragments went straight down that crevice underneath the wiper blades that no finger nor instrument on this earth can reach. (FYI: My car was still covered in ice the next morning, in the garage--it was mo' fo' cold yo!)

(Just in case anyone in my meager readership is afflicted with OCD, Todd took the Jeep to the dealership and spent $4,000 on some fancy car wash because the Ramen remnants were driving us insane. We don't agree on much, but Ramens in the crevice is enough to make either of us gnaw a hole in our face.)

Moving on. I hate Ramen. Save for their utilitarian, life-saving value. Every third package is stale, and I've come to feel like some prisoner, knowing that it's my very own ineptitude that has landed me in this dismal, albeit crunchy, predicament. But they're handy, and filling, and 10 cents, and no, I do not eat the seasoning packet. Oh, and they're killing me? So yeah, B devised a genius new plan. I often pitch in around her house, aka: Maia's lair, and she is always cooking for me, when I would otherwise starve or eat McDonald's cheeseburgers minus the "meat." So she cleverly suggested that once a week, I come whip the house into shape, while she cooks me a week's worth of succulent meals too fabulous to list, lest you all become jealous and/or storm her house. But it's a freakin' sweet deal. (Did anyone else hear that in Napolean Dynamite's voice? I'm feeling the need to tell you I'm pretty good with a bow staff...) Anyway, we're on week two, and I'm in heaven. I now have several variations of MEAT MEAT MEAT to choose from, and I scoff when I walk past the Ramen cupboard. I can finally stop seeing everyone as a roasted chicken, like in the old cartoons, and tear into real life flesh! My fingernails, while tentative, aren't dropping off, and my hair loss is waning. What's more, I no longer view Ramen as my lifesource, and finally see it as the rest of you see it: The quintessential staple of poverty, and/or a signal that you are too stoned.

So my hat and fingernails are off to you B, and I am eternally grateful, yet again, for your brilliant machinations to save me from myself, and from death by Ramen. I will get to those windows, and thanks to you, the reflection I see won't be bald!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

tea time

As homeschoolers, trying to merge back into the fast lane after the holiday break is incredibly daunting. As yet, we haven't even made it into the slow lane. Hell, we're pretty much sputtering on the shoulder, hoping for a rescue vehicle. We're back to the basics, just nothing fancy...nor consistent. I ran out of black ink while copying math pages this morning, and even though the drawer with extra cartridges is within reach from where I sit, and contains, I believe, three cartridges currently, I mentally vetoed that possibility in favor of skipping math "because we're out of ink." Instead, we talked about Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Napolean Dynamite. (Quinn does an impersonation that is as shockingly accurate as it is painfully embarrassing, and he really wants to show Karen.) Rei had a sore throat yesterday and was house-bound, a fate worse than death for her, just like her mama. So today we were itching to get out, and as we checked various errands off our list, we kept debating as to whether or not to go to Starbucks. I didn't want Rei having a caramel frappucino the day after a sore throat, Quinn hadn't eaten anything, because my kids never eat, so it didn't seem right to indulge his love of chai lattes, and I have pretty much given up coffee, and if I do have one, I have a panic attack the size of Texas every time. So you know we went. Our server was Scott, who is cute enough to charm a girl who isn't into boys, but Republican enough that he is lucky I didn't kill him with my bare hands the day (six months ago) we got into a vicious debate about the relevancy of the election. Yeah, I attempted to hand him an Obama sticker, which was presumptuous and probably unprofessional. But shit, I wasn't the one in uniform so I can do whatever I want. He wouldn't take it, and there was something about his little faux-hawk and smirk and Abercrombie-ness that clued me in to the root of his wrongness. I said, "Oh, let me guess, The Bible? Specifically, Revelation? It's all pointless?" He gave me a look that suggested he briefly thought he had found an ally, only to rediscover that I was actually trouncing him in the argument. I had the last word and sped off, such a great feeling, I highly recommend it, and then avoided that Starbucks like the plague for weeks, making Todd go in my stead. Eventually I lost a bunch of weight, changed my hair, put on some sunglasses, and realized I am not the center of his world, and started going again.

Back to today: We pulled forward, and Scott was hanging out on the ledge, as though he had been awaiting our visit all day. His hair was especially (faux-ish? hawkish?) cute. He was all smiles, completely oblivious to how close I came to gutting his gorgeous little face with my fingers not so long ago. He asked what we were up to, why I had the kids with me. I said we're homeschoolers, out on errands, needing a pick-me-up. He beamed and said he had been homeschooled too, until third grade. When I inquired as to his transition into public school, he rather comfortably said that he just walked in and owned the place, instantly. He said, "Yeah on my first day I just said 'here I am,' and I was on top from that moment on. I'm in college now and I still am. I mean, I played football, wasn't shy..." I interjected, "Don't forget how handsome you are!" In a playful way though. But god. Some gorgeous young Bible-toting, election-hating, Revelation-citing, barista with rad hair and a face that won't quit? Ugh. What a waste of good genes. What does this have to do with homeschooling though? I have no idea.

We got our treats, and a free blended chai-thing that was made in error, and got to breathe the sunshine air. Surely with all the caffeine surging through our veins, someone will have the strength to open the drawer with the ink cartridges...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

this magic moment

My president is Barack Hussein Obama, and this is one of the defining moments of my life. There are no words to capture this feeling, but I hope you're all sharing it.

Oh, and don't forget to wave bye-bye to the madman:

No more monkeys jumping on the bed!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

coffee talk

Perhaps the most devastating aspect of The Great Deprivation of 2008 was my tearful forfeiture of coffee. I'm a busy, make that manic, girl with a daily to-do list that would make you cry, but I always counted on my 92 ounce tumbler of coffee to get me started each morning, and then one or two more venti Americanos to keep me cruising at 100mph into the night. My palate is a bit of a sissy, so I require lots of milk to get these babies down the old gullet. Herein lies the problem. I'm newly allergic to dairy, as well as everything on God's earth that is not grass. My friends, and you know who you are, searched high and low for a suitable milk replacement, but everything was shit. (As well as a sissy, my palate is also a bitch.) Thus, I ultimately retired my trusty old Krups espresso machine, and began the painful, murderous process of driving by Starbucks every six blocks, whilst knowing myself to be divided from my Americanos forever, lest I essentially die, on the toilet.

I've been off coffee for four months. Four grueling months wherein I was shocked not to have been charged with a violent crime. The withdrawal wasn't so bad actually, but losing the ritual, and divorcing Starbucks, was agony. Spare me the helpful tips that tea is a wonderful beverage, or the oft-heard, oh-so-lamented suggestion: decaf. Blech. I don't swill that bitter nasty shit for any reason but the charge. Ultimately, my solution has been to increase my daily water intake by about a gallon, and conquer those to-do lists on sheer willpower alone.

About six weeks ago, Todd went out one Saturday morning and brought back Starbucks for everyone, including a glorious, breathtaking Americano for moi. I paused for three seconds, and then raced to find my favorite tumbler. (Well, my favorite of the remaining tumblers. Seven or so reside in B's bathtub.) I grabbed that milk and glug glug glug until it was filled to the brim. Picked me out one shiny pink straw, and sucked that puppy down in five seconds flat. There isn't a meth addict alive who wouldn't have envied that moment. So I just sort of never pointed out to Todd that I'm actually off coffee, and every Saturday he brings them home. Surprisingly, my stomach hasn't punished me at all for the milk, but due to the drop in my consumption, one coffee on Saturday morning turns me into a speeding bullet until Monday. No joke. After my Saturday coffee, I will replace the carpet myself, install a new engine in my car, paint the house, and then run errands until Salem shuts down. It's rather convenient because typically, there is some social thing or other happening Saturday night, and I get to arrive knowing my house is shining like the top of the Chrysler Building. Unfortunately there's a downside. From the moment that tepid heaven touches my lips, and for at least 48 hours, I never stop talking. Ever. Often I spend Saturday nights at B's, and I started noticing there might be a problem when she would look at me at 3:45am and say, "Chey, you haaave to shut up." Every time. Then I began compiling memories of various friends saying, "slow down," when I would talk to them. (Except Gabrielle, who can keep up with my aggravating auctioneer mode.) I try to rattle off the day's best and worst to Todd, who instantly becomes so exhausted by my words he has no choice but to feign deafness. Last night, I was chatting with my mom, about nothing in particular. Neither of us is a huge phone talker, but this conversation was sailing along particularly smoothly, and I realized I must have mesmerized her with my brilliant anecdotes and astoundingly clear observations about life, cleaning, kids, and my Saturday coffee. I explained my magical Saturdays, and how I am Hercules, and how I help people, and achieve the impossible, but that, well, I do talk a lot.

"Oh my God Cheyenne, is that what's wrong with you?"


"Honey I love you and I'm glad you're feeling good but you haven't stopped talking for two hours and I just...I just didn't know what to do."

(Sheepish) "Oh,um,yeah,that'swhatIwastellingyouabout.Sorry,er,um,yeah.Sothat'sit.If youneedsomething,heavylifting,callmeSaturdaymornings,butifyouwanttounwindlater,avoid meatallcosts.SorryMom."

"That's okay Honey, it was just..really extreme and you weren't really saying anything and, maybe have a smaller coffee?"

(Aghast) "No,I'lljustgotoB's."

"Okay Chey, but be careful, don't drive too fast."

(What mothers don't know won't hurt them.)

So yeah, Saturday mornings, gooood, Saturday nights, you'd better be a good listener, or have duct tape. (I won't be offended, and it might get rid of some of those hairs on my upper lip.)

Fortunately for you, it's Sunday night and I'm all worn out, so I'll bid you adieu and merely operate at my usual wattage until Saturday. I understand your reluctance to call, so feel free to text anytime.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

leaving on a jett plane

I have been obsessed with celebrity babies since childhood. In the pre-computer days of my youth, I relied on People Magazine to quench my thirst for seeing famous tots, always excited (though often dismayed by) their names, and always hoping for glimpses of their little faces in People's Star Tracks pages. Seven or eight years ago, there was a particularly sweet cover with John Travolta, Kelly Preston, and a stunningly beautiful Jett, aged seven or so. This boy was so mesmorising, with his black hair, giant, piercing blue eyes, and eyelashes so thick and dark, he must have been the envy of every model on earth. I was absolutely riveted by his beauty, and saved that issue. I had been intrigued since his birth because, well, celebrity babies had yet to become a national fixation, and I thought his name was especially rad, clever, and apropos since his dad is a pilot. But the first picture ever released was Jett at seven, and he took my breath away. Shortly thereafter a sister arrived, and while John and Kelly rose to super stardom, photos of the kids were disappointingly scarce, if not totally non-existent. Cut to the marvelous invention, Celebrity Baby Blog, wherein baby druggies such as myself can get a fix on all the latest names (be they precious or criminal), faces, and and often ridiculous wardrobes and privileges of these alluring tots. Last year there was a picture of Jett Travolta with his family, all but grown up, and I remember thinking that something wasn't quite right about his demeanor. His family was on the beach, and something about his posture, body language, and expression seemed to convey that he didn't quite understand where he was. The brief article referenced medical issues, and a speech delay, which was the first thing I'd heard about him since his beaming face captured my heart eight years prior. I felt so sad for him, for his family, as I would anyone grappling with an impaired child, and I was sad that this radiant boy was now a (still beautiful) teenager, coping with a condition that was explained in very vague terms. Their daughter Ella is also quite pretty, but I've always been drawn to Jett, and wished there were more pictures. Several months later CBB caught another photo series, and again, Jett seemed mostly unaware of his surroundings, and it was evident by the swelling in his face that he was unhealthy. But those eyes, they could cut through your heart like butter, and the family looked normal and at ease, despite whatever this mystery illness was. So I've seen maybe three pictures of this stunning child in his life.

Imagine my surprise six (?) days ago when the CBB headline was that that beautiful boy had died, in the arms of his father, who attempted CPR for so long the EMAs had to forceably remove him from his son and take him to the hospital, where he was declared dead. 16 years old, the love of his father's life. Dead. I know parents lose children everyday, and that no child's life is more or less valuable than any other's, but I was deeply struck by Jett's death, and the subsequent, previously unheard details of his seizure disorder, and his exceptionally close bond with his father. My heart breaks for Jett's family, and I hope he lived a happy life in spite of his challenges. It seems obvious that he was loved tremendously. Since his passing, his family has released a handful of pictures, by which I am still intrigued, and now, greatly saddened. This photo sort of haunts me in a way, in spite of its profound sweetness. Beyond the glitz and glamour of fame and wealth, a father loved his son, and a son loved his father. Hug those babies extra tight friends, our time with them is so precious.

May you rest in peace you dear dear boy, and may your family find a way to heal. I didn't know you, but as a mom, I mourn your loss, and will never forget your face.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

love is thicker than water

So my ma, the fiercest of warriors, and definitely not given to complaining about pain, has been nursing her left side for several weeks, and recently revealed that there is some significant swelling there. I urged the stubborn ox to call her doctor, and was fairly concerned when she did, as she is quite prone to dismiss pains, and doesn't see the need to kick up a fuss over every little thing. But this thing has her worried. So she had some lab work done Friday and was slated to get an ultrasound yesterday morning at 7:45am. In discussing the prep procedure, Mom mentioned she couldn't have water after midnight Sunday night. Upon hearing this, Reilly grew very worried, as her Gia (Gia with a hard G, what Quinn started calling her at six months old) is the original nightowl in our family, and how on earth would she survive without water?

Rei told her papa the news, and he assured her Gia would be fine. She and Quinn talked for an hour about how they hoped my mom would go to sleep early so she wouldn't have to suffer being thirsty. She even called her friend Andrea. Finally, when I could see that tears were emerging, I reminded Rei that when I had my surgery last year, swishing some water in my mouth and spitting it out was surprisingly satisfying. Soon it was time for bed, and my kids were more squirrelly than usual. Rei typically gets up for a drink several times, which I don't mind. I'm just glad my kids are big camels like their mama. Then I noticed that when she came out, at 12:11am, she went to the sink, took a drink, swished it around, and spit it out, without having any idea that I was watching her. My heart almost exploded. She loves her Gia more than words can say, and her precious little act of silent solidarity, it still brings tears to my eyes. She acts tough, but her heart is pure gold, and I am one proud mama today.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

5 things i am grateful for right now:

1. Healthy, happy children, with whom my greatest challenges are bickering and wardrobe negotiations. (The death of John Travolta's son yesterday really hit home. Life is so fragile, so fleeting, and I cherish every second with my kids, even the hard ones.)

2. Mis amigos. God, I don't know where I'd be without you, especially my Emergency Response Aide and my Christmas Cat.

3. That it is 2009, because while I am generally at ease with my penmanship, I have never, in 31 years, committed to how to make an 8. I vacillate between forward s's, backward s's, and the two-looped snowman 8, but who has the time???

4. President Obama, everyday.

5. The E! Channel (shut up) for hard days. It's like novocaine for my brain, and I know now how obscenely rich each and every celebrity is, and who's had Botox, and most importantly, what they're all naming their kids. (Zuma? Peanut? I guess money doesn't buy brains.)

There are more things for which I give thanks, but Todd's been home for many moons and we're in a silent battle over the thermostat. I like it at 71, and he likes it at 45. He just got up so I have to go get my foil survival poncho, and hope he runs to Starbucks so I can push it up to 71 and thaw out in the shower.