Monday, October 29, 2012

Accidental Heroin Overdose

When you start your Saturday night with an accidental heroin overdose, a memorable evening is already in the can.  When you chase that overdose with a couple too many cocktails, great friends and the cutting completely loose mayhem that every truly great costume party can bring, your evening goes from merely memorable to party-of-the-year status.   The kind of party that finds you reflecting and laughing out loud as yet another absurd moment from the night pops into your mind, right after you kiss and hug your kids good-bye and pull out of the school drop-off line the following Monday morning.

Saturday Morning a.k.a. A Giant Step Back:

 "I don't know if we should go."

"Honey, we're going."

"We don't even have costumes."

"We'll go up to the attic after we have our coffee."

"But your mom is here."

"My mom is fine."

My husband Jeff LOVES a good costume party.  LOVES THEM!  And he loves movies.  Almost ALL MOVIES, especially anything by Quentin Tarantino.  AND in spite of his partially Italian Catholic roots, he does not live his life governed by guilt.  If he wants to go to a Halloween party, he's going to a Halloween party, even if his mother is visiting from Indiana and it's her second to last night in town.

"And besides," Jeff continued to rationalize.  "She'll be with the boys.  She comes here to visit them not us.  And she'll be back at Christmas."

"I suppose."

Man, I hope Vince and Nick carry a little of my family's Irish Catholic guilt into adulthood.

The costume choices up in the attic at T-minus 8 hours until party time were A. Dog The Bounty Hunter and his son Leland from the popular cable series Dog The Bounty Hunter or B. Vincent Vega (post accidentally shooting Marvin in the face in the back of the car in broad day light) and Mrs. Mia Wallace (post accidental heroin overdose) from Jeff's favorite movie of all time Pulp FictionAnd the decision was easy.  All we needed was a new, crisp white shirt for me and some new fake blood for both of us.  Somehow, even the syringe that Jeff had rigged to stand out of my chest was still intact from the costumes debut performance at a Halloween party in 1999, five years after the film's theatrical release in 1994.  

Now we could spend more of our Saturday preparing Vince and Nick's Hawkeye and Red Arrow costumes, before their afternoon soccer game.

Jeff and I stopped at a liquor store on the way to the party Saturday night.  It served mostly as a test drive.  I was very confident that no member of our distant suburban community would remember these off-color, pop culture icons from the mid-90's.  And much to Jeff's delight, I was wrong.  Sure the twenty-something kid at the register had no idea who we were but the two, mildly unsavory patrons we shared the store with at about 7:30 p.m. were very satisfied with our tribute to the legendary film, almost twenty years later.

And then we went to the party. 

And then we left. 

About twelve hours later.

To say this busy, working mom NEEDED a fun night out, an escape of sorts, would be an understatement.  To say that this busy, working mom NEEDED to fully immerse herself in the character of Mrs. Mia Wallace with the exception of substituting three vodka tonics, a beer bong, and a shot of tequila for heroin, would of course be a gross overstatement.  Literally and figuratively.  But it happened.  And now that the nausea has passed, it was sooooo worth it!

My sincerest thanks to Laverne, Shirley and The Queen of England for picking up the pieces.  And to Mr. and Mrs. Day of the Dead for creating a beautiful playground for all manner of middle-aged merriment and misconduct! 

Mrs. Mia Wallace with a basket of corn bread muffins,
not quite in character yet but the bar was just a few steps away. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10 Pounds of Shit In a 5 Pound Bag

Waking up to a gray sky and a little drizzle this past Saturday morning was magic.  Over the course of the last week, the southern California temperatures again climbed to the triple digit range.  Hopefully, marking the region's final f-you to fall.

That morning, I pulled on some sweats and walked downstairs to find all my boys cozy on the couch, deeply entranced in Puss n Boots.  Clever movie, if you haven't seen it and you're looking for kid content.

I poured my first cup of coffee and sat down next to them, pondering the morning, the day and soon the whole weekend ahead.  What should we do?  What could we do?  What can we get done?

I am the Queen of the To-Do list.  I always have been.  And my to-do lists aren't normal people to-do lists.  For example, as a wife and mother to young children, you would think laundry and grocery shopping and cooking would be at the top of my to-do lists.  Well, those tasks are on my weekend to-do list; they're filed under "need-to-do".  The "need-to-do's" fall after my "want-to-do's" on the list. 

Why I try to cram my want-to-do's in before my need-to-do's is why I reflect on many of my weekends and say to myself.

"That was like cramming 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag!"

Sometimes in a bad way like:

"Now you're exhausted and cranky and no fun for your family; and tomorrow is Monday and you have only yourself to blame!"

But sometimes in a good way like:

"That was a really yummy black rice and butternut squash recipe you made and those little white rose bushes out front and topiaries near the front door will make you smile every time you pull in the drive-way AND you still had time to go the park and play catch and kick the soccer ball with the boys AND you hosted family Saturday night for dinner AND visited old friends Sunday night for dinner and had a couple perfectly blended cocktails.  That, ladies and gentlemen, was a WEEKEND!"

And it's Tuedsay and I'm still reflecting on it! J

And while going to Lowe's for soil, shrubs, mulch and landscape lights after my sons' morning soccer game, then spending the afternoon pulling out, digging, planting, and spreading; along with running to the market before our dinner guests arrived doesn't necessary fill my husband with the same feeling of nesting satisfaction that it does me, he did get an appreciative wife out of the deal.   

"Win-Win, I say!"

A new, free errand/to-do app for the obsessive need-to-do/want-to-doer in all of us:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Willie Nelson v. Kermit the Frog

"Mommy, come out here!"

"Mommy, come!"

"Mommy, it's a perfect rainbow!"
We had just finished homework, piano practice and a completely fruitless, hour-long search for the perfect ninja costume, the perfect storm trooper costume, and the perfect Hawkeye costume.  Mommy was done. 

And who in the hell is Hawkeye, you ask?

Well, when you take your young children to see movies that are the antithesis of age appropriateness, you are introduced to a broad assortment of uber-violent, weapon wielding, cursing, oft-times sexual, completely fictional, and apparently highly aspirational action heroes.  Action heroes that in spite of your four decades on the planet, you somehow never even knew existed.

Hawkeye is not the lookout guy with the glasses from M*A*S*H's 4-0-77th, though he is older than me (his only redeeming quality at this point).  Hawkeye was birthed by Marvel in 1966 and became a member of the Avengers team in the eponymous 2012 summer blockbuster.  And he has one hell of a bow and arrow, if you ask Vince.

None and I mean NONE of the ready-to-wear Hawkeye costumes that are available in size 8 are acceptable.

"Did you see that bow and arrow, Mommy?"  He asked over and over, rhetorically, as we skimmed catalogue after catalogue, and website after website.

"It's garbage.  That bow and arrow isn't even metal and those arrows aren't even sharp."

"You can't bring the weapons to school, anyway." I try to appeal to Vince's sense of reason.  The sense of reason he has locked away deep down inside.  I know it's in there.  He's just waiting for the right time to reveal it.

"That just doesn't make sense." He tells me.  "Hawkeye isn't Hawkeye without his bow and arrow."

"Maybe Daddy can make you a bow and arrow?"  I offer, apparently without thinking.

"What is he going to use?  Suction cups?"  Vince rolls his eyes at the ridiculousness of the thought.  I mean what self-respecting, seven year-old would be caught dead using suction cup arrows for his Hawkeye Halloween costume?

"Can Daddy make a bow and arrow out of metal?"

The sad part is I actually took a second to process this suggestion.  As far as I know, Jeff is not secretly supplementing our household income with metal welding jobs on the side but if he was...

"And what will he make the stretchy part out of?"  Vince isn't letting this go.

"I don't know.  A rubber-band?"

Why did I start this?

"What rubber-band?  I haven't seen a rubber-band that big.  Have you, Mommy?"

"I don't know, Vince.  Go ask Daddy.  He's in the garage."

I know that one day his steadfastness, his relentlessness, his "dog-on-a-bone" persistence will serve him well.  But right now, Mommy is tired.  All I want to do is make dinner to the sights and sounds of the idiot box (TV).

"Mommy, come on!  The rainbow will go away!"

I reluctantly press pause on the remote and follow my eager sons outside where we stand together on the wet driveway gazing skyward.

"Look Mommy, it goes from there," Nicky points up toward one end of the rainbow. "To there."

"It's the perfect rainbow."  Vince says.

Jeff is standing behind us in the front yard taking a couple pictures.

"It really is a good rainbow, honey."  My husband echoes his sons' sentiments.

"It is."  I give them all a broad smile.  "I'm glad you showed it to me."  I confess.
I pause for a moment to revel in the first cool, damp evening of fall before I turn and walk back into the house, leaving them to bask in the magic and wonder of pots of gold and leprechauns.

Safely back in the kitchen, I pick up the remote and press play after I check the not quite boiling pot of water on the stove.

"MOMMY!"  Vincie bursts through the door.

"Yes, Vincie."  My tone is one of complete exasperation.  But ain't nothing gonna breaka Vincie's stride.

"Why are there only three colors in a rainbow?" He asks.

"Why don't you ask…"

He cuts me off before I can finish my attempt at deflecting. 

"I asked Daddy and he doesn't know.  He said something about primary colors but it doesn't make sense.  Can we Google it?"

I am officially done.  I raise my voice. 

"Not right now.  I'm making dinner.  Go outside with Daddy and look at the rainbow again before it goes away!"

"FINE!"  Vince storms back out the door in a huff.

Little does he know, mommy is the original DOG and in this moment, Wednedsay night's Modern Family episode on the Tivo is her bone!

Someday we'll find it, The Rainbow Connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me (sort of).

...and the ages old debate continues: 

Kermit vs. Wille 


Willie'sRainbowConnection (start at 2:00)

What do you think?

Monday, October 8, 2012

To Skippy, with Love

My palate is about as sophisticated as your average six year-old's.  

If I was stuck on a deserted island and could only have three things, they would be a jar of creamy Skippy peanut butter, a loaf of white bread, and a jar of Smuckers strawberry preserves.  And a jug of 2% milk and a package of double-stuffed Oreos.  I know that is five things but those five items represent everything that I am (kids and husband aside).  They bring me comfort, they bring me joy, the fill me up and they never let me down.  A PB&J and a tall glass of milk for lunch and three double-stuffed Oreos and a short glass of milk for dunking before bed = Nirvana.

Recently, my husband has stopped asking me to substitute these items for healthier alternatives and started begging me.  His work involves cancer research and apparently sugar is cancer's friend, maybe even its close relative.  And Hydrogenated Oils have never been fully embraced by the USDA either, even in the 1950's when people got to sip scotch and chain smoke at their desks.

These really were the good old days...look at all that bread!

So I cut out Oreos more than a month ago.  And I miss them.  And I think they miss me.  We're still friends on Facebook, though.  In addition to tasting great, they are very popular: 28M friends and counting.  They are also quite clever and compassionate.  Witness these recent posts:

Honoring Neil Armstrong
Dancing Gangnam Style

My wholly unsatisfactory replacement: dark chocolate bars with nuts from either Whole Foods or Trader Joe's once a week.  It's not the same.

This weekend, I promised Jeff I would hang-up the Skippy and the white bread.  I recognize I am getting older and even though I am a skinny fat person, I should care more about what I am putting in my body.  This led me to a piece of wheat bread with some Trader Joe's organic, creamy peanut bullshit as a mid-morning snack a couple hours ago.  It was like eating cardboard.  Wet cardboard. 

This is no way to live. 

And this is it.  I have but one vice left.  

Now mark my words:

You can take my Oreos.  You can take my white bread.  You can even take my Skippy.  But give me copious amounts of red wine during the week and the occasional vodka tonic on the weekend or give me death!

(I never saw the whole film but I'm pretty sure it was a jar of Skippy under that wrapping paper)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Smell the Manure!

I have been in a bit of a rut.  Over something relatively small in the grand scheme of things, I will admit, but a rut nonetheless.  Everyone is entitled to a rut. 

Welcome to my rut!

It started when I decided to finally do something about a tiny sore on the side of my nose that would come and go, come and go, come and go.  And bleed a little while it stayed.  

I knew deep down that it had to be another basal cell, of which I have had several removed from other parts of my body.  But this time, it was on my face and I don't know about you but having anything hacked off my face and sent to a lab for testing to determine if there would be future hacking just wasn't something I wanted to rush into taking care of.  Anyway, you can tell where I'm going with this. 

I finally found my big girl pants and the biopsy (read: the initial hack) was taken and my doctor called with the results Tuesday night at about 7:30 p.m. 

This is how it went down:

"Honey, honey!"

Jeff came rushing into our master bedroom closet with my phone in his hand.  At that moment, I was perched on a ladder to access our attic (word to track home builders of America: only attic access in master bedroom closet = super shitty design plan).  Our son Nick was actually up in the attic handing Halloween decorations down to me.  Yes, I birthed my very own day laborer.  Call CPS if you want.  He likes it up there.

"The doctor is calling!" Jeff exclaimed.  

In case you were thinking my husband rushed in with the phone because he is some kind of alarmist or maybe one of those husbands that I've heard tale of but never actually met who is ultra sensitive to his wife's every feeling, let me assure you that he is neither.  He had been dressed down during dinner about 45 minutes earlier when he called me out for having my Blackberry at the table:

"Seriously, honey, the phone is on the table during dinner?"

I stared him down for a full fifteen seconds before I responded.  Both to insure that he felt the gravity of my words when they finally came and to give him a chance to save himself, which he predictably did not do.

"I'm not even telling you why I have the phone at the table."  An idle threat was my initial response.

"Fine, don't tell me.  But it's a bit much.  I never have my Blackberry at the table."

"Why do you think I have the phone at the table?  What is today?" I began.  "Today is Tuesday.  I told you no less than three times that the doctor is calling today with my lab results."

"She's home now.  The doctor isn't calling you tonight."  He threw another fork-full of beef in his mouth and chewed away.

Don't you love how they know absolutely everything?

"She's not calling tonight, huh?  Every single time she calls with a pathology report, it's after hours.  She sits at her desk after seeing all of her patients for the day, reads the reports, and makes her calls."

Another bite of beef down the hatch, another minute or so of silence and we move on to how piano lessons went for the boys earlier that day.  

Congratulations were in order for our Vincie who graduated up to a new lesson book.  His two week hiatus from playing and teacher change seem to have reignited his passion for playing.  I think perhaps he just needed to feel that he had a little control over the situation…I can definitely relate to that.

Nicky proceeded to ask about Halloween decorations about a dozen times during dinner.  It was October 2 and the day's high was a balmy 98 degrees.  He could feel fall upon us and wanted to celebrate.  

"After dinner," I told him.  "We'll get the decorations out after dinner."

In truth, I love watching them place decorative spiders and skulls here and there around the house as much as they love doing it.  Quite possibly even more.  Every year, I wonder how much longer they will enjoy this annual, autumnal fun with mama.

"Honey, hurry up.  I don't want you to miss the call."  This was Jeff's way of saying he's sorry.

I simultaneously stepped down from the ladder and took the phone from Jeff's hand.

"Nick's up there."  I pointed up to the opening in the ceiling.

"I got him.  Go talk to her."

I pressed the answer button as I sat down at the desk in our master bedroom. 

"Hi, Doctor."

"Hello, Liz.  Is this a good time?"

"Yes, my husband is taking over seven year-old duties right now."

"Ooooh, you're a busy mama."  I'm sure she heard the chaos in the background plus she knows my sons.  She sometimes lets them drop liquid nitrogen on the tile floor in her exam room.  "Are you sure it's an ok time?"

I knew then that the results were not what I was hoping for.

Shit!  I turned to Jeff who had pulled Nick out of the attic and promptly laid down on the bed so he could be ring-side for the conversation.  I gave him a thumbs-down.

"It's fine."  I told her.  "Go ahead."

"Well, the area we took was a basal cell.  It goes down a little ways so it's not superficial.  I'm going to recommend that you do the Mohs procedure to remove the rest because it is on your face."  

At this point, Vince and Nick are running circles around the room, jumping on an off the bed yelling about the various decorations that are now spread out all over our bedroom.

"Do you know what Mohs is?"  The doctor asked me.

"Yes."  I half-lied.  I knew my father had had the procedure and figured I could only hear pieces of her detailed explanation, anyway.  I'll Google it later, I thought to myself.

"So, I'm going to refer you to another doctor here in my office for the procedure."

"Why can't you do the surgery?"

"I'm not trained in Mohs."  She told me.


I turned and mouthed the words "she can't do it" to Jeff, barely audible.

"Ok."  I told her.

"Now you know this is just basal cell.  It's totally treatable.  If it were a squamous or a melanoma, there could be a threat of it becoming more invasive."

I could feel the tears starting.  I choked them back.

"I know."  I finally managed.

"The doctor will clear the area on the skin and you'll have a cosmetic closure so there won't be a mark on your beautiful, young face."

"Ok.  I understand."

"Ok, well you make sure you call the office tomorrow morning to make an appointment.  The procedure typically takes all morning.  If they are having a hard time fitting you in, call me back and I'll pull some strings."

At this moment, in a display of deep sensitivity, Nick jumped next to me, shoved his dirty sock in my face, and yelled:


I grabbed the sock and threw it at him.  I couldn't help but giggle at the absurdity of the whole scene.  

"Ok.  Thank you, doctor." 

We hung up.

I laid down next to Jeff on the bed.

"So you're going to be ok?"  He asked in his reassuring voice.  

"I have to have more cut out of the side of my nose."

"But you're going to be ok?"

"Putting all vanity aside, yes.  Yes, I am going to be ok."

"That's all that matters."

"Easy for you to say."

"Honey, you'll be fine.  I know it sucks that it's on your face but you'll have a great surgeon and everything will heal fine."

"Mommy, come on!"  Nick had no time for this wallowing in self-pity nonsense.  "Let's put the decorations out!  We want to do these spiders on the light!  Come downstairs!"  He grabbed a box of sparkly, bendy spiders and headed downstairs to the chandelier over our dining table.  I rolled off the bed and followed behind with a few more items in-hand.

I sat down and watched both Vince and Nick stand on the table and busily bend spider's legs around the arms of the light fixture.  Debating over which were the best spots, were they spacing them out enough, were they secure enough.  Soon the light was over-run with spiders.

"Looks good guys!"

"Is it scary?" Vince asked.

"If I didn't know that they were harmless, I might be scared for a second."  I told him.

"Yeah, they're not very scary."  Nick stood back and marveled at he and his brother's creation.

"Now what?"  Vince asked.

"How about this?"  I handed him a ceramic skull.

And Halloween decorating, and life went on.    


Monday, October 1, 2012

The Great Purge of 2012

My worlds of crap are colliding.  In my front yard.  In about a week.

That dead rat I grew so fond of so quickly is wearing me out…isn't that how it always is?

She started a firestorm.  Thankfully, not a firestorm of rats, though one was found at the bottom of the deep end of our pool Thursday; another apparent suicide.  I would spend more time on this but it makes me physically ill.  Sincere thanks to friends who tried to assure me the two rats limped their way to our house following ingesting poison at one of our neighbors.  I, on the other hand, subscribe to the idea that we have an entire rat colony living and multiplying under our home. 

The firestorm my little Rescuer started was one of cleaning up and cleaning out!  The Great Purge of 2012 may have started with the simple move of a refrigerator from one side of the garage to the other but it has made its way all the way up to the master closet. 

There, I unearthed several pieces from my Mr. T Starter Kit.  I'm not sure why exactly I jumped on his particular style bandwagon, collecting necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings galore; and attempting to wear them all at the same time.  I do know that it all started in middle school and didn't seem to end until college, as evidenced by the "old boyfriend bounty" I brought to my neighborhood's version of Cash4Gold Sunday afternoon.  Did you know they have to drill into every piece because of all the gold-plating scams?  And did you know that they take a photocopy of your driver's license because your bounty is photographed and registered with the local police?  As the woman in the shop cut into and weighed my chains, I had visions of my college sweetheart swooping in to stake his claim on the goods.  

Of course I couldn't let go of every piece; some are still very sentimental to me.  My gold signet ring with my old initials ESB.  Another gold ring that I remember going to a jewelry store outside Chicago with my parents to pick out for my 15th birthday.  I have decided to make both of these pinky rings so I can do this (skip to 3:40).  You think I'm kidding…

And the purge continues.  Golf shoes, purses, dog crates (we have one large dog and somehow two large travel crates), home d├ęcor items, books, coffee makers, iced-tea makers, pack-n-plays, work-out equipment, pots-n-pans, old bikes...  Jeff and I decided we spent the first half of our marriage buying shit and putting it in a closet, or the attic, or most frequently, the garage.

First stop for the growing pile of unwanted items in my garage: my front yard for the neighborhood garage sale next Saturday. 

Second stop: Goodwill. 

And what do I plan to do with all of the dough from my Cash4Gold visit, you ask?

More rat traps, of course!    

Look at Mr. T "Pitying the foo!" From The A Team to Rocky to Silver Spoons...
I dare you to find an actor with more "range".