Thursday, February 12, 2009

boo voyage

I know you've all been on the edge of your seats burning with curiosity about whether or not we're going to California this weekend. I myself have been the least in the know, deferring to my mom, whose health hasn't been tip-top, and for whom even miniscule decisions can require years of internal debate. (She's a libra.) Secretly, she and I confessed a mutual desire not to tackle what feels like an insurmountable endeavor, but ultimately, you know, the kids looked up the schedule for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, my favourite stomping ground as a kid, and sure enough, they're open on weekends. Hooray! (Fuck.)

I'm a trouper, and I can pull some shit together yo, so I compiled a list last night, and at last count, I have roughly 885 things to do before we rip ourselves out of bed at the ass crack of dawn tomorrow and set out on the 13 hour trek to Santa Cruz. Friends, you may not quite grasp the enormity of this undertaking, so allow me to break it down:

I still have yet to recover from being sick. My stamina is pretty compromised.

My birth control pills, meant to stop my periods for good, were apparently prescribed by satan because instead, I am on my period 25 days out of each month, including now, so all this talk of the hot tub where we're staying is really pissing me off. (Yes I've heard of tampons, but this is my rant so shut the fuck up.)

I just started a new medication that has a peculiar side effect that is both uncomfortable and somewhat unsafe for driving. Meh.

My family is all Santa Cruz chic and herbal, and most of them are acupuncturists, so I don't really tell them I take 7,000mgs of the most potent chemicals on earth. I won't exactly be popping a Xanax at dinner kapiesh? I mean, they know something's up, and they're always offering to poke some needles into my temples and tell me I should be treating the endometriosis with hibiscus root and bella donna. We're all close, don't get me wrong, and some of them got thin hair, or small breasts, or the adorable propensity to say things like anemonies instead of amenities, lol. I got the crazy gene. Oh and the height of a redwood, oh and the size 12 feet, oh and the cankles, oh and the eyebrows, the goddamn eyebrows, and I'm the only fat person in the family. My older cousins, Maria and Catarina, now in their early 40's (what the hell?) are both perpetually tan, both thin, Maria is some A+ beach volleyball star, her 11 year old Max, is a local surfing champion, both their husbands are Brazilian so their kids are beautifully golden brown. So here we come, white as ghosts, me whose most extreme quality is a toss up between being nine feet tall or crazier than a shithouse rat, plus my cankles, my ma, whose passion is social justice, not Aeropostale, my son, who by all accounts is a genius, and sweet as honey, but can't keep up with growing two inches a day, whose hair is long (sigh), who reads computer magazines and talks about capture devices and ports and shit like that. Now Reilly, Reilly will fit right in. She's pure muscle, tan, with hair that doesn't quit, style that can't be rivaled, believes she is 12, even though she's eight (but she really is 12). She's got the personality, the athleticism, the sensibility, the must-have accoutrements. She's a homeschool anomaly.

Todd put us on a budget this time, to which I am not accustomed. I know that sounds spoiled, but he usually gives us more than enough. But he's very fiscally conservative and with the current economy he expects us all to do some cinching. So of course I'm worried a hundred dollar bill will escape from my wallet and fly out the window.

Did I mention I've never driven to Santa Cruz? I know there's some complicated bullshit near San Francisco because when my mom used to drive Sky and me there as kids, she would always tell us we couldn't talk in SF. And the last time I tried to navigate that bridge, my friend and I went over it nine times, lol.

My to do list would make the most manic, efficient, optimist slit her throat.

I recently got a David Cassidy haircut. I'm just sayin'.

Jacob's being released from the hospital and I feel I ought to be around to schlepp some soup bowls and make him laugh til it hurts. (His weakness? Fart noises! Try it!)

In four short hours, we'll have to pump our own gas. I'm no diva, but it's intimidating.

I'm allergic to everything but vitamins, and my family is known for eating out seven times a day. I don't want to explain the allergies because I don't want to hear that they are rooted in a weak liver, and talking too fast, and that I'm losing chi at alarming rates, etc.

I hate the beach, yes even West Cliff. My family is proud to all live on Pleasure Point, and I'm sure I'd also be excited to brandish my 400 sq. ft. house, with rent a mere $2,500/mo., if I lived there, but the proximity to West Cliff will entice everyone to go down there. I hate sand, wind, the beach, and the precarious winding sheer rock face leading to the sand. I have arthritis in my knees, and that shit is no fun. But don't tell anyone. I'm not taking some Chinese herbs and quitting coffee and using meditation. I like good old western Glucosamine.

Can I have double bitching points for being on day 19 of this period?

I can't imagine a scenario in which I will ever get to sneak a clove. (No, Gail, I quit, really. I just have them for emergencies, such as wanting one.)

Sometimes my mom and I fight on trips, and we both agreed that her recent cancer scare will ensure only lovingkindness. Let's hope.

I'm notoriously unphotogenic (stop with the false loving reassurances, it's true. Ask B. She will tilt her head to the side and smile sheepishly and say "Well? I mean...") So I will likely have no suitable pictures to blog when I get home.

We are the closest, most socially-conscious, devoted Democratic family, pretty much the west coast Kennedys, but one of my dearest uncles voted for George Bush, and that can cause friction, depending on who has a beer at the reunion BBQ. We love him, he is cherished and has the kindest, twinkling eyes, but there is really no excuse. Anyway, he just got laid off after managing a computer company for like 35 years, so maybe I'll reiterate the error of his vote, lol. And be squashed dead. (Don't forget that while I am the tallest woman, the others are mere inches behind, and the men are Goliath.)

My family is very adventure and physical-exertion oriented, and I just know Max will invite my kids to surf, or my brother Sky will want to take them on a quintuple stacked ferris wheel at the boardwalk, or someone will want to rent the 10-person version of a tandem bicycle, and try to shame me into letting them ride from Soquel to freaking Watsonville.

Finally, my entire gallon sized water bottle spilled into my purse the other day, so my current purse is a WinCo shopping bag, with the bare essentials in various pockets of a coat that has become absolutely imperative now because it has my phone, my keys, etc. Ladies, you can all appreciate how disorienting it is having no purse. I haven't checked to see if it's dry yet. In fact I have done nothing but laundry, emptied some garbage, chatted and moaned to some friends online about how this trip is going to kill me, and write this criminally tantrum-esque blog.

Perhaps in the interest of boring you all to death, I shall share my to-do list:

find bathing suits and be willing to wear one with a skirt in front of my 6 ft. tall bikini-clad cousins.

pack Rei's and my matching valentines shirts for the BBQ

make sure everyone gets his/her allowance and trip money from Todd, who thank God is home today.

rejoice over dry purse and reassemble or improvise fast.

find our travel laundry bag.

take Quinn to Borders for a new book for the road.

I was told to pack for weather ranging from low 40's to high 70's. Yea!

clogs, Mary Janes, and flip flops (but how many?)

pea coat or snow jacket/interim purse? And if pea coat, black or white?

phone charger

toiletries--don't forget new razor!

um, feminine products, the 700-pack

a case of Dasani water bottles

hair dryer and straightener

do we own a travel DVD player? (Though Q & R prefer iPods and books.)

charge camera and camcorder and iPods (update everyone's music so it's fresh.)

sort through the brilliant music Adam has given me over the years, pack favourites.

check weather report for Santa Cruz, 95062.

pillows and blankets? Really?

Mapquest to and from.


clean the hardened pill dust out of pill sorter and stock my pills.


blog for sympathy

vacuum car

car wash

get some addresses.

force Reilly into the bath, so she can wash her hair and shave the gawgeous legs she did not inherit from me.

oversee her packing so it's weather appropriate and I have final say over when it's acceptable to wear argyle knee high socks.

sift through the five garbage bags of clothes Pam passed along to me in hopes of freshening up my already new, but seemingly old in the presence of newer and exciting clothes, wardrobe. This will only take 75 hours.

check and recheck med sorter 8,000 times. Ask B to check it too.

don't forget iPods, and the cushy headphones my kids require because they don't like the inner-ear ones.

get everything ready to forceably remove my precious offspring from their beds at 5:00am, prodding them without resorting to abuse, pack our shit, pick up mom, go to Starbucks, and be on I-5 by 7:00am.


Anyone wanna come help me pack, dry my tears, bring me a London Fog?

Okay, only 884 things left to go...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

black sabbath

In keeping with the spirit of only writing about myself and my lukewarm anecdotes, I felt the need to share this weekend's ongoing coffee ... fucked-up-ness.

By now, no one needs the backstory about how God hates me and I'm allergic to everything, including dairy, so I gave up coffee four months ago, but I still drink one on Saturday mornings so I can clean like a madman all day until I am felled by a raging panic attack right? We all know this part? Okay.

So just this past Friday evening, Reilly and I were shopping, and she looked at me and said, "Mom, tomorrow is Starbucks Saturday!" Naturally my first thought was "Thank God she still knows the days of the week," as we've been pretty slow in getting back to lessons since the holidays. But my next thought was what a sweet little tradition we've got going, and how nice it is that Todd started it, since he tends to keep his heart of gold under several layers of brick.

Each Saturday, once we greet each other, Todd will tell me what he needs to get done before running for coffee. So yesterday, I eagerly awaited the report, as I was dying to take back my house after being sick all week. Waiting... report. Finally, I crept over to Todd, disguised as a church mouse, and meekly asked when he might be going for coffee. (You see, on Todd's list of favourite people, I fall somewhere in the neighborhood of 57th, out of 58, so I try not to be too needy, apart from the $1,000/mo. insurance I require, the $500/mo. meds I must take lest I kill someone, the $300/mo. therapy I attend in hopes of someday learning how to have one conversation that doesn't confound/offend/enrage the other person. There's also the allowance he generously gives me, the gas tank he keeps full, the car he keeps purring like a kitten, the lame-ass food I have to have in mass quantities (ie-Ramen), and the fact that he hasn't thrown my heathen ass to the curb for various crimes against humanity. So you know, I don't want to seem too entitled to my Saturday coffee.

But yesterday, he rather dryly said he wasn't going to Starbucks. "Um, wha?" He had this and that to do, and Starbucks wasn't on his route. (Correct me, but, isn't there a Starbucks on every corner of Deliverance nowhere? What routes are left in the United States that don't have that sickeningly addictive green circle peering out nearby?) Surely you can't blame me for tearing off my church mouse suit and donning the duds of a fearsome bitch scorned and denied her ever-loving caffeine! In reality I have absolutely no leg to stand on here. In fact, I have two perfectly good legs (albeit with cankles), with which I can drive to Starbucks myself, in my afore-mentioned well-running vehicle, to purchase a coffee. But, but, I don't shower before I clean, and I know if I leave the house with greasy slutwhore hair (thanks Pam!) I will get pulled over, or worse, recognized by someone who hates me. (Yes, they're out there--shocker!) So I really can't.

I moped and retaliated by doing only a cursory cleaning job. (This is pathetic and ironic because I don't clean for Todd's benefit, he thinks the house is fine and I should basically shut the fuck up [only in Christian language] and find a hobby because I'm too obsessive about cleaning. God, the nerve right?) It reminded me of a time, this makes me laugh so hard, a couple years ago, after B had gently advised me that wearing as much mascara as I did, with eyeliner, didn't help my problem with dark circles under my eyes. That less is more. So I'd started wearing mascara on my upper lashes only, and I ditched the eyeliner. I felt naked, but she swore it brightened up my face and minimized the dark circles. And I trust her. So one time when I was psychotic and living with them in Monmouth, B and I had succumbed to the stress and had ourselves a little row about something or other. The next morning, to drive my point home, and show her, I put as much mascara and eyeliner on as I could without tipping over. This was meant to hurt her deeply of course, lol. So my retribution cleaning yesterday reminded me of my mascara attack on B years before, and I had to chuckle at myself.

Wait. (Wakes from coma.) How did I get from coffee to mascara madness? Oh well, no one's forcing you to read this.

So I woke up this morning before dawn with a lot on my mind and a big day ahead and my solution to that is always to compile a list of the least-favoured, most obscure, worst household tasks, and jump up and do them. I mean, what a high, honestly. It's my meth. This morning I was definitely going to need a jolt, and I knew better than to look to Todd for heaven's sake. So I sulked all the way to kitchen to brew my own Premium Starbucks Roast Espresso, but failed to break his heart. I got the old machine brewing, and bustled around, rejoicing in the steamy hiss that marks imminent caffeine infusion. At some point I glanced over and noticed I'd forgotten to place the caraffe under the spout, so not only did 75% of my coffee end up under the floorboard, a cleaning job I loathe, but I was fairly fucked as far as caffeine went, since that was the last of our coffee. (I mean, we had more in the refrigerator, but it requires grinding, and who am I, Cinderella?) It only took 95 exaggerated sighs to pique Todd's interest. I explained what happened, and set about to pour my 1/100th of a cup of joe into a mug and add milk and swig it with all my might. In truth I filled a large cup, and its entire volume was down my gullet before I realized the milk was sour. I immediately put my head in the garbage and vomited. I hate milk, and only use it to neutralize the bitterness of coffee, so sour milk to me is barely preferable to eating feces. In the "Todd Does Have a Heart" category, he took pity upon me face-first in the garbage like some wine-o, and rushed to Starbucks to soothe my palate with the coffee he motherfucking should have gotten me in the first place, lol. (I am, of course, kidding. I am no princess.)

Okay, I've sucked down every last drop, so I'd better get moving before the gut-wrenching panic sets in. Just beware the hazards that may befall you when you break tradition. Especially if it involves me.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

mama mia!

A few of you know that my dear mom, the fiercest of warriors, survivor of calamities untold, and the most loving grandmother on earth, has been nursing her left side for a couple months now. Mom is waaay not given to complaining, especially not about pain. Social injustice, yes, pain no. So it took her a while to mention that she had some inflammation and that her mobility had become limited. Mom's quite healthy, and exceedingly active, so I knew, despite her reticence, that we needed to act. The first battery of tests revealed, of course, nothing. The secondary round proved to be a bit more ominous, which I found out one fateful, heart-crushing Saturday night two weeks ago. Mom had alluded to some bad news in a text, and ultimately, after swearing me to secrecy from (every person I know, by name), from God, from myself, and anyone else she could think of, she called and explained that she received some cat scan results that pointed to ovarian cancer. I slid down the wall, holding the phone with fingers that had long gone numb, barely breathing, certain my heart would stop before she was finished reading the results. As we learned last year with my tumor, ovarian cancer has virtually no survival rate, and I just kept thinking Mom is so healthy, so young (59), so needed, so cherished, so irreplaceable, how anything happening to her would be the defining moment in my children's lives, and how would I ever get them through that? Not to mention, she is my mom. B was on her way to pick me up for our re-class celebration, and I told my mom she would surely know something was up, since I was ghost white, unable to speak, shaking. Hell, B can tell if I find a dollar on the ground, she would definitely know something was terribly amiss. Mom said I could mention "worrisome" and "test results" to B only. I offered to cancel my plans to go be with her, but the whole point of her secrecy was that she didn't want to be consoled, she didn't want sad faces, she didn't want it to be real.

So B scooped me up, immediately knew what was wrong, and assured me everything would be okay. We sped to her house to get shit-faced drunk, which I highly recommend as a temporary fix-a-flat during a cancer scare. The next day I felt slightly less stunned, and I tagged along with B and Gab shopping for treasures for their Valentines party. It was a semi-successful diversion, but I just kept thinking about Mom. Meanwhile, I was totally off-kilter all day. Forgetting things, argumentative, squirming. I knew I was making Gab feel awkward but I wasn't at liberty to explain. God it was awful. I was so scared, my blood was ice cold.

So I harboured this secret for four days, until Tuesday night when my mom texted me that her doctor declared this a misdiagnosis. This was nearly as unfathomable as the idea of cancer. My heart raced around the street a few times, and my jaw started chattering. Her doctor suspects that the actual problem is something called a dermoid. As elated as I was, I knew that any malady that ends in -moid cannot be a dignified thing. Boy was I right. I began getting texts from Mom, who was researching online, and true to form, she had me laughing almost immediately, which is no small feat when you think you're going to lose your ma.

6:00: Dermoids 98% benign but can have teeth in them! Ick! Also long luxurient hair. One site seemed to say we are born with them. So maybe that's where my long luxurient hair ended Thanks for loving me.

6:05: And man, if the teeth are good maybe I can have them implanted where they belong.

6:15: Ok I don't want the extra sweat glands that could be there but were misplaced at birth, and I could have used the extra nerves at times...however I'm starting to really feel's my hair!!

6:17: Well-formed teeth!

6:26: The little devils can have "horny masses" but mostly those are on the skin. Had enough? But it would add to your blog! (I mentioned I had to blog this.)

7:43: do you or don't you want to know mostly they're just fatty masses?

What a revolting consolation right? Teeth? Hair? It reminds me of the "tween" in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. So I asked Mom if the dermoid is like, my aunt, and if so, will she be good at Scrabble like the rest of us Wilhelms? What's the proper habitat for a dermoid? Do they like sun? Will Aunt Derm fit in the old frog aquarium we have? Is she artistic like you Ma? Chances are, Aunt Derm won't be coming home with us, which is probably for the best, as calcified tumor-like things aren't particularly appetizing, you know? And my mom is extraordinarily creative, but somehow I don't see her taking the same pride in pointing to the aquarium saying, "I grew that!"

So she's okay, my heart slowed down, and I am forever indebted to Aunt Derm for saving my mom's life.