Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's Not A Big Deal, But Also I Could Totally Die

I know I sound totally ridiculous, but let me tell you something first.

No, actually. Let me tell you TWO things first.

Thing One: If I actually have serious issues with something, it's a lot harder for me to blog about it. Haven't seen much about my weight lately, huh? My parents? Ish? Right. Chock full of juicy details and yet it's all stifled. I'm working on it. La la la, woo this wine sure is tasty!

Thing Two: My deep-seated anxieties are growing out of control. I am becoming the worst kind of hypochondriac, just like my mom and sisters. The kind that I know is so totally crazy, and yet there I am, taking myself to the emergency room, convinced I'm having a heart attack despite that my heart rate is normal, my breathing is fine, nothing is painful, except for that little bit of acid reflux. Sigh.

(See how it's all handy that you have "Thing One" up there? So you know that you haven't heard about any of this because it's a bit challenging?)

I bring this up because tomorrow I am having my left wisdom teeth extracted. The bottom one is slightly impacted, and that means that they are doing the full surgery thing and putting me "under."

So on the one hand I am all like, "This is the minorest of surgeries in the whole world, I have nothing to worry about. The time they took out my right wisdom teeth I met an internet date for lunch IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING. Sure, this is more invasive, but barely."

On the other hand I'm kind of TERRIFIED. I have never been "under" before in my life, and so what if I have some bizarre reaction to it? Like dying. Or ending up paralyzed. Or like, blind.

Because that can happen, right? You go in for a tooth extraction and end up blind? Yeah? That does happen?

This can't be normal.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Crushed

Do you remember your first crush?

That's a stupid question, actually, because of course you do.

Personally, I was something of a crush-slut. I was in love with many, many boys, pretty much from the time I could walk. I fancied boys at school, on tv, from down the block. By the age of 4, my entire goal in life was to be 16.

[Specifically, my goal was to be Liesl from "The Sound of Music" so that I could be 16 going on 17 and dance in a gazebo with a twirly skirt and get kissed in the rain by a handsome Nazi.]

But my first real, amazing crush started when I was about 12 years old, and ended when...well, I'll let you know if it happens.

It is insanely ridiculous, but here I am, miles and years away from high school, and simply remembering him has brought all the awkward anxieties racing back and I'm suddenly cloaked in self-doubt and embarrassment over I don't even know what. But I will tell you, my gut reaction was to feel like I couldn't even write his name because...

...um?

...he might find out? His friends will laugh? The teacher will see my note?

Really, there is zero logic at play here.

Ah, adolescence. Will you ever leave me completely?


* * * * * * *

I first met him on a sledding expedition on a fortuitous snow day.

Actually, let me rephrase because that's redundant. All snow days when you're in grade school are fortuitous. Nothing was so sacred and special as an unexpected day off from school, when all your worldly responsibilities shifted. Instead of having to turn in homework and take vocabulary quizzes, suddenly your only accountability was to childhood: throwing snowballs and sledding and drinking cocoa and playing with your friends.

On that particular snow day, my sister's friend's mom agreed to shuttle a bunch of us to the local park. I had agreed to go even though I didn't usually "socialize" with my younger sister and her friend, Lang, in public (because that would have been totally uncool). I certainly did NOT know that Lang would be bringing her brother. Her OLDER brother, and his friends.

In fact, if I had known they were coming, I probably wouldn't have gone. While I would have liked the opportunity to hang out with older boys (as the oldest in the family, I rarely got to hang out with kids older than me, and certainly not BOYS), the thought of spending an afternoon with them may have been too much to handle. Preparations would have involved days of wardrobe planning and at least 42 hours of phone conversations. And instead of wearing the oversized coat and mussed-up hair of a "girl," I would have worn pink lip gloss and blue eyeliner and used mousse to properly scrunch my permed curls like a "teenager."

(By the way? How awesome was 1987?)

So there I was, a dorky little girl hanging out with her silly little sisters, while the boys behaved like boys, i.e., creatures from another planet.

Imagine being a 12-year-old-girl around real, live high-school boys for the first time. Compared to the boys I was dealing with on a daily basis at my school, these boys were practically men. Their voices were changing. They were tall, and had broadening shoulders. They were comparatively (comparatively being the operative word, of course) rugged and athletic. And when I saw him, the one, my Crush, I was instantly smitten. In my eyes, he was the biggest and cutest and most charming of them all. And he was wearing a football jacket. Be still my heart.

Of course, I didn't exchange a single word with him that day. I mean, how could I? I was a goofy-looking pre-teen, and what, exactly, would I have said? Voluntarily speaking to a group of teenaged boys was simply out of the question.

Instead, I did what every pre-teen girl does: I pined.

* * * * * * *
Over the next couple years, Lang's family and my family remained close friends, and seeing each other over holidays and vacations and family gatherings became more and more common. So as these things go, Lang's older brother met one of my girlfriends (who was already in high school) at my family's Christmas party in 1988, and eventually started dating.

Well. That changed everything.

Because when I got to high school a year later, my friend was still dating Lang's brother. And this meant that, through association, I was "allowed" to hang out with her brother and his group of friends, too. Which was a life-altering arrangement. I got to high school and had a whole new group of friends to be part of.

Erm, but I shouldn't make this sound more glamorous that it was. It was still high school, and I was still a freshman, and they were still seniors. I was acknowledged as part of the group, but I was -- at best -- on the periphery.

[As an aside, this situation impacted the rest of my high school experience, and not in a positive way. I abandoned the group of friends I had from middle school in exchange for this newer, older group. A group who never wholly adopted me, and who graduated years before I did. Ultimately, I found myself having a verrrrry small circle of "close" friends.]

For the purposes of this post, though, being on the periphery was just fine with me. Because among other cute boys who were suddenly, if only slightly, flirting with my existence, my Crush was there, too.

He was taller and broader-shouldered than I'd remembered him, and better looking than ever. He was also funny and sweet and terribly popular. And captain of the football team. And while it's not like he went out of his way to say hi to me in the hallways (yeah, no), we started seeing each other at many social gatherings.

Then, for Thanksgiving of my freshman year of high school, we all went away together. My family and Lang's family and various cousins and friends. I brought my friend (still dating Lang's brother), and her brother brought my Crush. I spent the entire time we were away alternating between being giddy, swooning, and trying to play it cool.

It was a great vacation, and I got to spend lots of quality time with my Crush, relishing in how many girls would have killed to be in my position.

You know how it is. You have a crush on someone -- let's just say George Clooney for the sake of argument -- and you think: if only he could get to know the real me. If somehow the planets aligned and then George and I were alone together on a desert island or even in a stuck elevator for a few hours, surely he'd get to see how amazing I am and want to marry me.

And that is precisely what I assumed would happen on this trip. My Crush would get to spend all kinds of quality, private time with me, away from the prying and judgmental eyes of jealous high school girls and dudes who can't take freshman girls seriously. He would find me charming and funny and realize how hot I am. He would be so moved, so delighted by me that he'd spurn society and its "ways" and return to high school with me by his side.

Or at least make out with me.

Except none of that happened. His interest in me was mild and platonic, and instead of whisking me off for handheld walks on the snowy beaches, he and Lang's brother mostly watched football and told jokes about farts.

Later that year, in a strange turn of events, my Crush decided -- much to the entire school's shock -- that he would audition for our big high school musical. He'd never shown any interest in music, much less singing, much much less MUSICAL THEATRE before, but he was serious about it. And I was the only one of his acquaintances who knew much about music. So he asked if he could come over.

To my house.

To my room.

To SING for me.

Invisible Internet Friends. My Crush asking (asking!) to come over to my house to sing for me was the most amazing thing in the whole world. It was the high-school equivalent of George Clooney calling me up right now and asking if I'm free for dinner. You know, so I can give him pointers on directing.

It was an epic moment in my life, that evening when my Crush came to my house to sing. Nothing romantic happened, but it didn't matter. The Love Of My Life had come to my room to hear my thoughts on his performance. And you know? He was good. He was totally charming and cute and bashful because he was inexperienced. But the musical was Little Shop of Horrors, and the lead role is that of Seymour (played in the movie by Rick Moranis) and so my Crush's inexperience totally worked in his favor.

I gave him what little feedback I could muster, because mostly I just wanted to yell I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH every time he sang a new note. Regardless, my feedback notwithstanding, he got the lead.

* * * * * *

Over the next couple years, I remained peripheral to my Crush's circle of friends. He went off to college where he remained active in theatre.

And then we all lost touch. Everyone moved away.

I heard that after he graduated college, my Crush moved to Japan to do some musical there. But I don't know where or for how long or if he liked it.

* * * * * *

A few years after that, in the spring/summer of 1995, I was in the best shape of my life. I was living at home with my parents and going to college locally. One day, I was at a corner gas station, and noticed a super hot guy across the way. I noticed him noticing me, too. So we flirted, if that's even possible at A GAS STATION. And when he eventually had to cross in front of my car, I realized it was him. And he realized it was me.

We spoke. He gave me the requisite "OH MY GOD"s and "You look so good"s that follow when you've gone from being a loopy teenager to being 20. And dropping a good 45 lbs in the process. We chatted briefly about what we were up to. I explained that I was in town, going to school and working. He explained that he'd just moved back, too, and was bartending at a local place.

We should get a drink sometime.

I don't know if I offered or if he did, but the drink was mentioned. Our phone numbers were exchanged.

I called him.

And when he did not call me back, I finally gave up. I'd carried a torch since that snow day as a 12-year-old, harboring vague but undeniable hopes that we'd run into each other again someday and then he would fall in love with me. But if years and pounds and experience and everything in the world being different didn't change his level of interest in me, nothing would.

* * * * * *

And then it got to be more than ten years later, somehow.

A few weeks ago, my sister Sam called me.

"Oh, hey. Guess who just opened up a new restaurant!" She told me there was a big to-do about it in town, and that she and her fiance, Mike, had gone to see the place. And say hi to my Crush.

"He asked about you," she said.

Sam knew I had been in crush-love with him. I think probably everyone did. He'd been at our house and hung out with our family and was one of those guys who touches your life just enough, just for a while. So that when it's decades later and you're going through old photo albums with someone you don't even stop to identify him. Except maybe to say, "Oh, that's just a guy I had a crush on."

Even though you know that when left to yourself, and you look at those photos alone, you do not turn the page too quickly. You touch his face in the photo first, and sigh, and laugh at your own heart's ridiculousness.

I replied to Sam immediately and without hesitation, "Was he wearing a wedding ring?"

No, adolescence. You will never leave me.


* * * * * * * *

So tell me. Who was yours?



He and his restaurant partner apparently posed for this poster for the local public library,
encouraging the community to Read. How cute is THAT?
(He's on the right.)
(Heart you, Google.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And The Winner Is...!

So first of all, thank you for entering the contest for the bike and for explaining how you "Free Your Y."

Again, I could not trust myself to be a fair judge of entries, because I don't know what my standard would be. Funniest? Most heart-warming? Best ideas? You had some pretty great answers if I do say so.

So instead, I did what I did for the booze contest.

[Hi. By the way? More of you entered the contest for free booze (value approx = $40) than for A NEW BIKE (value approx = $400). That says a lot about you, readers. Like why you visit this blog. And also why I love you so damn much.]

Anyway, I took all of your comments, pasted them into a text document, removed the content of the comments, and just left the time stamps.


I did remove extra entries -- there were a couple of you who commented once and then left your city/state after. I only kept one comment per person in the list.

Then I pasted the list into "List Randomizer" on Random.org.


And as you can see (I cut and pasted with lots of spaces in between the time stamps, which is why there are so many empty lines in the randomizing results), the winner is:

2:43 PM, May 08, 2008 - "stacy" from San Francisco!

Congrats, Stacy!

In case you missed it, Stacy's comments (I deleted the first in the randomized list) were:

stacy said...

This is a terrible day for this!! I think I killed my Y last night by accident! I took all the students from my audio production class (of which I am the professor) to a public broadcast station where I am a consulting producer -- so they could finish up their final projects on professional equipment. Of course everyone was behind, and things just got later and later. When my husband stopped by to bring me dinner, the students met him and were shocked (!) by how cool he was. Mm-hmm. Shocked!

The next ill-boding event was when I walked into the green room and was amused at how they'd created an enormous mess with scattered starbursts (ew!) and little bottled waters and other college backpack staples like lip gloss, ipods, car keys and crumpled paper strewn everywhere. There was a chewed chunk of red chewing gum on the floor by the trash can. They seemed so...young! One told me she'd been awake for 36 hours because of finals. I was so tired because it was after midnight that I fleetingly considered suggesting we all just take a ten minute nap before wrapping up and heading home.

When I did get home at 1 a.m., I sat down on the sofa next to the sleeping husband and drank two QUARTS of beet kvass - a fermented health "tonic" similar to kombucha. This was a huge, huge mistake and has resulted in me having tyramine hangover-headache today (the kind you get from having too much fermented food, like cheese or wine). So as I sit here mid-day frowning through my bed-head at an amici's take out menu and considering just going to Ocean Beach for the rest of the day. (Maybe I'll just sit on the back porch for a few, since I have work to do.) I recall vaguely when staying up until 1 a.m. was simply part of my daily routine, when hangovers were the result of a night of heavy cocktails, and when I would NEVER have consumed anything from a commercial pizza place, let alone drunk a tonic made from beets.

Do you think my Y is dead??? I'm hoping my Y comes back before summer, because riding that bike would be s-weet! (I'm going to lose, aren't I?)

2:37 PM, May 08, 2008


And then she added:

stacy said...

Oh -- was I supposed to state my city? everyone else seems to be doing that. Maybe I was too tired to comprehend the rules. San Francisco.

Wait, is this working? San Francisco.

2:43 PM, May 08, 2008


Awesomeness. Stacy, you had me at "two QUARTS of beet kvass."

(Please email me your info!)

Also, I did want to point out this comment, which was definitely one of my favorites, from my BlogHer friend and fabu blogger/writer, Laurie (from LaurieWrites):
laurie said...

Okay, first of all jen in suffolk, you're funny. And no blog posts since December! And only one at that. Come on now.

Also, I keep having to refer back to the original post for specifics about what a "Y" might be, because apparently I need to free other things besides my Y. And also I keep singing "FREE YOUR Y, AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW" in my head.

The most recent thing I have done to...er, free my Y....was taking the train to New York to read at an event called "Cringe," that involves grown people resurrecting their material from their teen years and reading it aloud at a MICROPHONE at a bar in Brooklyn.

I read at length from my Precious Moments diary from 1985, which was dedicated to Mikhail Baryshnikov, John Taylor from Duran Duran, Paul Young, Sting, the man from the Windsong commercials (I'm not making this up) and Dante Aguilar, a boy I was infatuated with at the time.

It was awesome. However, that particular part of my Y is likely best let out only on occasion.

On a more regular basis I...

1. Sleep on my parents' couch every other week or so, ostensibly to watch "my stories" that I can't catch at my house because I don't have a tv right now. But really it's so I can sleep on the couch and write in my 2008 blog-style diary. And occasionally eat French onion dip.

2. I go out with the people from my master's program, most of whom needed to be told who Jane Fonda was when I was all jazzed up about dancing to "I'm Every Woman" with her in a hotel in New Orleans. Occasionally I say things like "Word" and "jacked up," only because I am mirroring them! Like when I use a lot of exclamation points and single words separated. by. periods. in my blog!

I do not drink PBR from a can, however. When I was a "Y", that shit was not consumed by anyone except my grandfather and other men on stools at the American Legion. Also unlike my classmates, I do not shop at Forever 21 (and not just because the security guard kind of looks at me like "Why?" when I come in - jerk - and because I cannot pull off flouncy dresses with spaghetti straps.) or Hollister. And I do not own a t-shirt that says "You can't HANDLE THIS." in glitter paint.

3. I drink excessive amounts of wine and watch hours of the heavy metal video show on VH1 classic, dancing my ass off and having thoughts like "Dokken SHOULD STILL BE FAMOUS." Also I watch Rock of Love. Repeatedly.

4. I stalk childhood friends on classmates.com, but not in a scary way.

5. I try to hang out with people who make me laugh, or at least don't make me cry into my coffee and/or red wine. If I have to get old, I'm going down swinging (apparently a boomerang, or something else vaguely Y-shaped.)

7:32 AM, May 10, 2008
I would also like to point out that when I received this comment, I immediately read it aloud to Ish, who interrupted me to SING the Windsong commercial jingle.

Isn't the internet spectacular?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Everything I Needed To Know I Learned From Watching E!

Obviously you already know I'm lying because certainly if I paid any attention to things E! has tried to teach me, I would weigh about 1/3 of my current heft and not do things like wear "nice" sweatpants to work. (I have concluded that there cannot be a Fashion Emergency if there is no "fashion" to be found in the first place. Folks like me just fly under the "emergency" radar completely.)

But I have learned two important things from E!

1) Michael Caine has taught himself how to never blink when on camera. He decided early on that to blink on camera makes a character less compelling, and so he trained himself not to. (You'll totally notice this next time you see him in something.) Boy, the hardships that actors face, huh? Anyway, the non-blinking thing is both kind of creepy and kind of cool, but mostly it's a totally useless thing I have clinking around in my brain that serves ZERO purpose. Now you have it, too. You're welcome.

2) MORE IMPORTANTLY, I heard a very important tidbit ages ago, explaining why Julia Roberts has been such a box office success. The theory is, when you are trying to build a name for yourself as an Actor, there are two ways to go. Once you've been cast in a moderately successful film, all kinds of scripts will come your way. And you can either (A) be super selective, waiting for the "perfect" script, or (B) go "this is good enough."

The theory goes, Actors who don't wait, and just keep showing up in films without great concern for their "quality" tend to do better overall.

The Actors who wait -- for whatever reason: quality, rehab, etc. -- end up with all kind of problems. If there's been a hiatus, there's pressure for the next film to be really good. There's build-up. And then if there's all this build-up and the film sucks, your career's probably sunk. Alternately, if you wait too long, probably no one will care when you show up again, you're no longer a draw, yawn.

Note: this analogy made sense to me in the shower this morning.

My point was going to be something like, I hate having all this time in between posts because I build up expectations IN MY OWN HEAD. And then I feel like I can't post the mundane crap because, well. Because.

I just have to remind myself that it's better to show up with a few Mary Reilly and I Love Trouble-esque posts than to fade into oblivion. Erin Brockovich is bound to be around the corner.


P.S. No, no winner announced yet. I suck. But soon! (Hopefully today!)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

And She Never Blogged Again

I've pretty much managed to avoid succumbing to the video game mania that has swept the world. I attribute this mostly to the fact that Ish and I are both over the age of 30, but if you're reading this right now and also over 30, you know that I am full of crap. Because YOU own at least one game system. Right?

This is the point in my blogging career where I admit I have never played Rock Band OR Guitar Hero.

Kristy, what is the point of being a single urbanite with no kids if you're not playing Guitar Hero until 3 a.m. every night? What the hell is wrong with you?

I know.

Ben and Emily own Guitar Hero, but the one time we went to their place and they put it on, they wouldn't give up the guitar long enough for me to try it.

Well, all of that has changed.

I'm here in Phoenix visiting Ish's family and last night we ended up at Ish's sister's (Should I call her "Sish"?) place. For the express purpose of playing Guitar Hero.

And do you know who insisted on this?

That's right. Ish's mom.

(Should I call her Mish? Well, I guess we could also just call her Sue. Whatever. Artistic license. La la la.)

The point is that Mish is a little addicted to Guitar Hero and very much insisted that we go to Sish's place to play. So that Ish and I could discover the wonder and joy that comes from the flashing YOU ROCK when you actually make it through a fairly distorted rendition of Talk Dirty To Me, guitar solo and all.

(CC, pick up that guitar and-a talk to me!)

It was amazing. And now I have to have it. And I cannot promise that getting a 90% on every song in the line-up won't take precedence over everything else in my life, including showering and blogging and seeing friends and talking to Ish and possibly being gainfully employed.

Damn you, pointless, ageless fun!

Rock on, Mish.
Look at that intense concentration plus with crazy, unblinking eyes.
If you have played this game even once, you know this look.
You pick up the guitar and suddenly you're overcome with a sense of
CAN'T BLINK! MUST ROCK OR DIE!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Knee Sweat

God, I'm sexy.

San Francisco suffers from about three heat waves a year. One in the fall, September-October-ish. One in the middle of the summer. And one when no one can expect it. Sometimes it's in the middle of like February, or, as I look around my apartment at the four furry puddles that used to be my cats, it can come in the middle of May.

The first time I moved to a loft, it was a week before the October heat wave, and I learned that when the thermometers read over 90 degrees, lofts function less like "apartments" and more like "fucking convection ovens oh my holy hell."

Back in that October I was IMing with my friend, Snarky, and we spent a good 8 hours doing nothing but lamenting the heat and our spoiled spoiledness. She grew up in MODESTO which is basically the DESERT. I grew up in Connecticut where heat waves make everything wilt and you can actually feel the humidity on you at all times. A hot day in San Francisco is never as bad as a hot day in the desert or a hot day with 90% humidity, and yet.

After a few years of living in SF, you forget. And you get soft and spoiled.

So when a heat wave of this magnitude comes along, forget it. Life may as well be ending.

Snarky IMed me something along the lines of: my office is fully air conditioned, and yet I can feel my knees sweating.

That's some kind of poetry. Since then, my IT IS TOO HOT TO FUNCTION limit is gauged by knee sweat.

Ex: If you're not even moving, if you're just working and typing and sitting, and you realize your knees are sweating? That means you no longer have any responsibilities whatsoever. No one can expect anything from you. It is too hot to exist.

* * * * * * * *

Ish and I are flying to Phoenix tomorrow because, as Ish said, "We wanted to go somewhere cooler."

We'll be staying with his parents, visiting for a post-Mother's Day/his mom's birthday weekend. Should be lovely. (Except for all the stupid flying.) (BTW, can planes melt?)

It's currently 7:37 p.m. and I am not packed. I have not washed the clothes I will be packing. I have not identified the clothes to wash.

I am behind.

But laundry? Really? How can anyone be expected to do laundry during a bout of knee sweat?

* * * * * * *

Someone outside my apartment is having a party. I hope it's not my upstairs neighbor, because his parties go until well past dawn and his drunk guests go out onto his patio and throw their cigarette butts onto OUR patio, which juts out past his. This displeases me greatly. However, the music coming from the party is not random Indian dance mixes, so I'm assuming it's not him.

Seriously, it's three hundred million degrees in this Convection Loft.

And I can't open the doors or windows to the patio because the cats will go outside. They LOVE going outside. And I would be happy to let them, if our patio didn't share a wall with our Neighbor The Architect. Neighbor The Architect has a patio full of plants and trees and flowers and gorgeous furniture and pottery. Ish and Kiki have a patio full of one discarded office table and someone else's cigarette butts.

GUESS WHICH PATIO THE CATS PREFER.

Not only do they hop the wall into Neighbor The Architect's patio, they have gone so far as to CLIMB INTO HIS APARTMENT through his open windows. Yeah. Try convincing your neighbor you're not complete assholes after that.

Obviously, Ish and I need to construct or buy some sort of fence-y thing to block the cats from jumping over the wall, but we haven't managed to figure that out yet. Or buy patio furniture. So until we do --

--wait. A note about patio furniture:

WTF is up with outdoor furniture costing a fortune AND being SO DAMN UGLY? It simply must be possible to buy an outdoor dining set that doesn't look like something spawned from a mutant wicker demon. Right? That also costs less than my car? Anyone?


-- until we do, all SIX of us (that's me, Ish, Sherlock, Moriarty, Eddie and Leon) will just stare longingly at our patio space, dreaming of its sweet, cool air. And of knees that don't sweat.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Some Mom Photos

To accompany my last post, I thought I'd throw up a random assortment of pictures I've got sitting around in iPhoto.

Here's a picture of my mom and Healy. We're on the porch of my grandparents' house in Darien. It's clearly not a flattering shot of my mom (given her expression), but I like it just the same. She's got a drink in hand, and has -- quite clearly -- spent some time in the sun. This is mostly how I still think of her, radiating the sun's afterglow.

Meanwhile Healy, ever the sharp child, is investigating the bag next to my mom, hoping they might be gifts for her. Probably because it was her birthday.



Here's another photo of my mom with Healy:


I've posted it before, but it's a pretty amazing shot.

Healy turned 30 today.

She is a mom, too. I took this picture when I was in CT last month. You'll note that Charlie thinks he's stealing her nose:




Here's a picture of Charlie when he was born, as held by his Aunt Sam:



And speaking of which...Samantha managed to avoid being part of the embarrassing expose below, so I thought I should include a gratuitous naked baby photo of her:



It only seems fair.

But I did want to include a couple extra photos of my mom, since I hardly ever post them. She was so pretty, yet I have almost no pictures of her that do her justice.

I don't know when this photo was taken, or by whom, or where:


Yeah. Not exactly "chubby," although she always seemed to think so.

Ooh, especially in this shot. Which is why she is giving the finger to the cameraman. she was not pleased that he was photographing her when she was so heavy...



...even though it was just because she was pregnant. (Also, how much do you love that hair my dad's sporting? HOT.)

I have this picture from shortly after I was born, the first time my parents' friends visited our home in CT. We'd moved from Manhattan, and I believe this was the first time Owen (pictured) had spent any time in "the country."



And just to stick it in here, I have a picture of me on my way to my Middle School Prom. Mom was still tanning regularly. Whereas I was
...not.



Way to rock the hot rollers, though, huh?

But if I want to get nostalgic, and make myself cry and smile at the same time, I just pull out this picture, taken on Nantucket circa 1984.

Memories Of My Mom: A Post To Embarrass My Entire Family

Let me preface this by saying that this post is exactly why the innernets were invented. I swear it.

I don't, really, have any idea what it's like to be a mom. And frankly, I am terrified of the notion of ever entering motherhood without having my mom to rely on for advice. From what I gather from my sister and Em and the mommyblogs I read, being a mom is nothing short of madness.

Back when I didn't know, I deleted her emails. I threw out cards and letters. There was no reason to keep them -- it simply never occurred to me that my mom wouldn't be around forever. And between moving, and flooding basements, and cardboard boxes that don't do much to protect "saved items" over 20+ years, my sisters and I have far too few keepsakes. (As a Cancerian horder and daughter, I can't bring myself to dwell on this reality or my heart will literally break into a million pieces.)

Obviously, this makes the tattered remnants we do own all the more precious.

Two years ago, at my father's funeral, we hauled out the two photo albums he'd kept, and put them on display. And to our surprise, tucked into the pages of one of the albums was a handful of folded papers.

The papers, we discovered, were the notes that my mom wrote up for my aunt. I have only the vaguest memories of this, but my parents went away for a long weekend -- where? Why? -- and my Aunt Jane stayed with us.

Let me put this in context.

Based on the notes, I have to conclude that I was about 5, and Healy was about 2. (Sam wasn't born until a couple years later.) We were living in a very small home in Darien, Connecticut. If there was a "bad" part of Darien, we lived there, but it's not like it could be considered hard living. Darien doesn't really get very "street."

My Aunt Jane was one of the best Characters you could ever meet -- quirky and funny and good-humored. She and my mom were very good friends, and I feel that there were times in my mom's life when Jane was her only friend. I wish I knew more about those times.

Jane wore crazy jewelry and loved to wear big, loud watches. She was always carrying around some funky, multi-colored purse which she paired with funny little shoes.

Jane was not married and never had kids. She lived most of her life in my grandparents' house with them in Minneapolis. As a grown-up now, I realize how that seems, but throughout her life I never gave it much thought -- it's just How It Was.

The point is, as a kid, I simply adored my Aunt Jane (as an adult, too). A visit from her was better than a visit from Santa Claus. Probably because she didn't have children, she was totally fun to hang out with. She always treated me like a person, not a child, and seemed to find me as funny as I found her.

All this said, please imagine what it would be like to leave two smart, sweet-but-capable-of-great-brattyness kids under the age of five with a child-free aunt who otherwise lived halfway across the country.

Scary, huh?

Here were the notes my mom left for her. I think it paints a great picture of Jane, of me and Healy, and of my mom. And of the kind of special, personal crazy that each family shares. (May mine forgive me for posting this.)




The writing at the top of the page says:

Put make-up on in my bedroom bathroom with door closed and tv on - they'll follow and you can hear what's going on.

No drinks for kids outside of kitchen

Turn plant spot light on at night (over piano)


And so it begins with Saturday.

Sat. Schedule
Mrs J. will show you around and please sleep in our bed if you wish. I'm sure she will have dinner ready. Bedtime for Healy about 8 pm - Kiki 8:30 or anytime thereof you can get her down! Always put 2 diapers on Healy at night.


I bet when my mom started writing this, she thought it would be a nice, neat page or two, and perfectly straightforward. It's kind of fun to watch how her mind worked as she realized all of the details that go into a weekend with her kids.

I like that there's an eraser mark on the word "thereof" -- I don't think that's the word she meant to use. I think maybe she meant "thereafter" but got lost in the note-writing frenzy.

BTW, Mrs. J was our next-door neighbor. She was an Italian Grandmother who would babysit for us regularly. My most vivid memories of her are of us playing outside -- me and Healy and some neighbor kids -- and her watching from her chair. She has a scarf wrapped around her head, and she has a stick. The stick was to shoo flies away. Who sits on a chair and uses a stick to shoo flies? Maybe everyone is crazy.

Sesame Street on twice in AM (#13) Sunday
Sun. - Change Healy soon as she wakes you.
Mrs. J will come over to give you a break -- she'll tell you Sat. what time

Breakfast -- Healy likes bread or toast [*bottle first] with butter and/0r jelly (sometimes light peanut butter too), eggs, cereal, french toast, or anything breafasty -- feed Cronie 1-2 pkgs -- ask if he wants to go outside + he'll eat!

Lunch Feed Healy about 12:30 -- usually soup that's sort of drained -- more in pantry down the basement
Kiki can eat anytime. Change Healy after eats lunch
*Healy's nap at 1:00
Healy also likes sandwiches; tuna with mayo, peanut butter, cheese with butter and mayo only make 1/2 though. She also likes some fruit -- apple peeled, orange [lost]


Our big sheepdog was named Cronopio, or Crony (alternate: Cronie). This is because my parents were huge NYTimes crossword puzzler people, and this was a regularly appearing word. Plus, they liked having a dog named Crony.

I enjoy seeing how much more difficult my sister was than I. Ha!



(I converted this and the remaining pages to thumbnails; click for larger)
[cont?] make them TV dinner to split with fruit and cheese and ice cream dessert if they want. I usually feed them about 5 or 6. Five works out on week days because Sesame Street is over with and they can watch Mister Rogers (Channel 13) on Kiki's TV at dinner in kitchen -- bring it from Kiki's room.

A bath at 7ish is great. You can stick them both in and referee from kitchen leaving bathroom door semi-open. Don't bother washing their hair or you'll be in big trouble. *Make sure Kiki's hair is braided well before baths or you'll have a rat's nest on your hands!


Nice.

Mon. - Sesame Street on at 9 on the dot -- Healy loves the theme song -- Channel 13. After SS, Romper Room at 10:00 Channel 9. Kiki will skip dancing class!

Tues. - Toni will pick Kiki up at about 5 minutes to 9. Make her wear play clothes only - if snowy or muddy have her wear party shoes and boots if not have her wear boat shoes as usual (boaters dont' fit under her boots)


I suppose it's worth noting that I took several different dance classes throughout my pre-adolescent years and eventually had to come to the conclusion that I have rhythm, but no grace. Pop songs allow me to shake it like a pro, but for any real dancing purposes, I am a complete clod on the dance floor.




Weird Stuff
*1.) Please watch ashtrays and cigarettes - keep deep on counter when not using and when dumping ashtrays make sure all butts go far deep into garbage bag and out of sight.


Ah. Back in the days when smoking was just a part of parental life.

2.) I will wash and braid Kiki's hair before I go. Whatever you do don't let her wear it down. Just take out braids one at a time, brush through and re-braid.

3.) Vitamins in Am Chewable Poly ViSol and Chewable Vit C's

4.) Feed Cronie 1(-2) bag fulls at breakfast time then let outside Tuesday AM however, keep him inside until Kiki leaves for school or let him back in just before. He will bark to come in throughout the day. I usually feed him before I let him in. Because of next # he'll bark for water in toilet so let him in and out of bathroom. Try to make sure he's outside on Mon and Tues at 2:30 so his barking at the mailman doesn't wake Healy.
(more)


I do not understand this note entirely. "I usually feed him before I let him in" I THINK means that she puts food in his bowl before letting him in the house, but it's hard to say. Also, I have no idea why "next #" would result in him barking at the toilet, but I guess that's where he got some of his water. Fascinating.




He averages between 5-6 packages of food a day and watches his weight automatically. He usually sleeps in the bar or in our bedroom alongside me on floor so watch yourself on your midnite trips to the bathroom!

5.) Keep bathroom doors closed at all times otherwise Healy will go into 1/2 wet tub fully dressed or brush her teeth in the toilet.


HAHAHAHAHAHA. I really love that there are no exclamation points or anything, this was just a matter-of-fact statement.

6.) Keep screen door in kitchen locked at the top whenever back door is open!

7.) Keep basement door closed at all times - even if just running down for a minute. Make sure Healy is involved in TV before making the trip (or deep play) or else put her in crib for the few minutes.

8.) Freezer - Lots of stuff in it, help yourself. The key is over the phone in the kitchen. Allow yourself extra time the 1st run to figure out key. Ask Kiki where light switches are.


I had forgotten until writing this about our freezer in the basement. The entire basement was fodder for my childhood nightmares, and I was convinced an evil witch lived in the furnace room. Thinking back on it now, I can say I was probably right.




9.) Whenever you take out any meat, please put freezer bag and darn twister thing back in "Hefty" Freezer Bag package in long cabinet - top shelf. [???] Relock freezer!

10.) "Pantry" has extra soups, vegs, mayo, jelly, peanut butter etc. Don't forget it's there. (In basement.)

11.) Bridget's birthday party is coming up but she's not sure when. Her presents are in basement on left of dryer in large brown bag labeled Bridget's Birthday.


Bridget was my next door neighbor. She was the second youngest of five, and came over to my house pretty much every day. Her parents were from Ireland and both had accents I had a hard time understanding as a kid. Her mom's name was Kathleen, which her dad pronounced "Kat-leen" and her father was James and had a temper and would threaten his kids "wit da belt." I don't know that he ever used the belt, I just know that the concept of it was a useful deterrent. Bridget's older sisters were named Cecilia and Mary, and her older brother James was known in the family as Shamus. Her younger brother was little Johnny Joe. My most prominent memory of Johnny Joe was that he loved Ponch and John from CHIPS and rode around the neighborhood on his plastic HotWheels that was fashioned to look like a CHIPS motorcycle. He wore a police helmet.

Bridget was very shy and always afraid of our dog. She was a very good dancer (she learned traditional Irish step from the age of 3) and did gymnastics. What amazes me is how, even at age 4, you can know how you Are, versus how someone else Is. I was loud and bold and assertive and I loved school. She was quiet and reserved and physically adept where I excelled verbally. I was tall and strong and she was tiny and meek. But she was beautiful and I envied that she could be demure. Even at age 4 I knew I was the bull in a china shop.

12.) Emergency #s on side of refridge and call Mrs. J first if you need milk or anything.

13.) Throw dirty clothes in laundry basket in linen closet.

14.) Healy may point to:
A) long cabinet in kitchen and say something incoherent - that means pretzels - give some at a time in paper cup with salt shaken off first.
B) The refrigerator and say something incoherent. If it sounds like "cheese" she's faking but will demand it and eat some. Otherwise it means "ice cream" (use small amount)
C) Kitchen sink and say "Wa-Waf" meaning water in small paper cup






15.) Healy's approx changing times -
1. When she gets up
2. Mid-morning usually a [poop] between Sesame St. and Romper Room
3. After lunch (before nap)
4. Mid-afternoon 4:30ish
5. 2 diapers before bedtime

16.) Healy's bottle time
1.) First thing in morning
2.) First thing after nap
The rest of the time she'll ask for "moi" and you can also give her small amounts of juice or milk in paper cup with meals.

17.) She calls her blanket Me-Me and must sleep with it.

18.) Children's aspirin on bottom shelf of cupboard right of sink.

19.) All "kids" real cups - middle shelf cupboard right of stove.

20.) Straws and paper cups left of stove (over)

21.) Extra paper towels in basement pantry

22) Keep soda cans in garbage with lid for return

23) Oven on lg. dials on both sides clock bake and temp


By now my mom has gone from leaving a few guidelines to including directions on how to get the stove to work. Even though I can't make heads or tails of "Weird Stuff" #23 to save my life.

That said, can you imagine leaving your kids in someone else's care for three full days before we had cell phones?




24.) She calls bread B and will get it out herself and will look for butter or point to refridge.

25) Best way to handle what she asks for is play 20 questions. She'll say no 19 times then the 20th guess she'll nod her head.

26.) When coloring or drawing or painting she says "moi papa" meaning more paper and wants each paper torn out individually from tablet before art begins - Kiki too. Fun, huh?

27.) Take your showers at night after they're in bed or better yet at 1 PM right after you put Healy down for her nap. If you start at say 2 while she's asleep the shower will wake her up. The kitchen sink is another alternative for hair.


This sounds like the kind of thing that motherhood bestows upon you that no one prepares you for. I.E., quietly washing your hair in the sink so as not to wake the incoherent monsters...

28.) Sesame Street on 2x's Sat & Sun AM and 9 Am and 4 PM weekdays


In the days before "cable" and "DVDs," I note how important Sesame Street was to the sanity of my mom.

But the last part has got to be the best part:

Don't be too nice and be at their beck and call. Do things on your own and say you're busy. Remember you are going to have to live with them and they'll expect you to be a playmate forever and take and take unless you make your own space right from the start. In other words - if you ever want your privacy again take it from the start.


It's as if she's preparing my aunt for battle. Which, I guess in many ways, she was.


On that note, on behalf (very indirectly) of my mom, I wish a Happy Mother's Day to all of you entrenched in that special kind of warfare.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Win Lots Of Money! Or A Bike! Or A Coupon For...Tea? CONTEST HAS ENDED

:::CONTEST HAS ENDED:::

So I guess my Win Gin! contest made a tee-tiny little blip on the radar screen of some PR folks, because a rep from a Very Important Agency -- one with a Very Important Client -- contacted me shortly thereafter and asked if I wanted to run a different, sponsored contest on this here blog.

I will admit to being pretty flattered.

I mean, I know moms get pitched a whole bunch, but lil' ole moi? Of the "no topic" blog who writes about...ridiculous stuff? (Hey, remember that one about how I discovered I'd left my bra in the fridge?)

Okay, so it's not like anyone's offering to whisk me away to some fancypants retreat, and certainly no one is handing me a car to test drive.

HAHAHAHA. Can you imagine? Did you see my last post? And also, where exactly would I drive to? I think when the blogger's first question is, "Will there be booze at my destination?" car manufacturers are perhaps less willing to hand over the keys.

Anyway.

I'm flattered about this particular situation, but also a bit concerned that you all are not maybe the absolute target demo.

I do not say this to be rude. I say this because I don't think that *I* am the target demo. I should be, of course. But while I would love to win $25K any day, I'm just not so much with the "Freeing" of my "Y" and I very, very much do not bike.

Alright, so let's back up and explain. Here is the deal:

To launch the new line of tea products and highlight that Lipton White Tea is made from young White Tea buds, we are launching the "Free Your Y" (your youth) campaign, and giving away $25,000 through the "Free Your Y" video contest at www.areyouyoungenough.com or http://www.youtube.com/user/LiptonFreeYourY. The “Free Your Y” concept is aimed at encouraging people to tap into and express their inner youth, and the contest will ask people to share – via video – what they do to feel young and active. The contest is live until May 15.


So what does this mean?

It means that if you follow the links above, there's all kinds of prizes and monies to be had. (Ooh! I love using the word "monies." Suddenly I'm British and it's 1843!)

Of more DIRECT importance, however, it means I get to host another contest, and the winner will get a Fuji Crosstown 2.0 bike (which retails for about $400). (Read: this is no case of mini champagnes! Although if you'd like to attempt to put the bike together after consuming said case of minis, please video the entire thing.)

The bike is included because the PR rep:

...thought that the bicycle prize might appeal to some of your readers trying to get in shape.

Hmmm.

What do you think?

The Upshot
All you have to do to enter to win a real, honest-to-goodness BIKE
is leave a comment here about Freeing Your Y.

The Downside
Really? "Freeing Your Y"?

Sigh. This is my problem. I am feeling a bit snark-tastic, even with this generous offer from Lipton. But I'm trying to rationalize it. I mean, they aren't giving stuff to ME. They're giving me stuff to give to YOU, and I'd feel guilty for not passing it on. (And uh, let's face it -- odds of winning the bike? VERY GOOD.)

So here is what I am going to do.


************************************
CONTEST RULES

1. To enter, you must leave a comment. You must explain what you do "to feel young and active."

Yes, a comment about how you Free Your Y.

HOWEVER -- and this is a very important HOWEVER -- I want you to be as honest as possible.

If doing yoga makes you feel young and active, then please so state.

But if, say, your version of feeling young and active is dressing at least ten years younger than your actual age to go to a dance club and hit on college boys who are drinking Smirnoff Ice (NOT A LIPTON PRODUCT, I MIGHT ADD), then I think this point is equally valid.

My point: no need to be hokey. Be yourself. I mean, who knows? Maybe leaving comments on some girl's blog makes you feel like you've Freed your Y. No judgments.

2. Again, please include your first name and location in your comment, and please only enter one time. If you're the winner and ask that I send the bike to a different name/location than you entered with, I will have to discount the entry. And that would suck.

3. The contest is open from now (when this entry posts) until Thursday, May 15 at 10:39 a.m. Pacific time (revised for when I actually closed the contest).

4. Winners will again be chosen randomly.

5. Grand prize winner will receive a Fuji Crosstown 2.0 bike with some (tiny) Lipton branding:



Plus five coupons for samples of Lipton White Iced Tea.

Plus a $75 check for professional bike assembly.

(Seriously, I'd love a video of any of you putting this together and its result, because I am selfish and think it would be funny.)

Except I have to include this language for legal reasons. Ready?

The Pepsi/Lipton Partnership will provide a check for $75.00 to be used for professional assembly of all Lipton Fuji bicycles awarded. Neither Pepsi Co. nor Unilever is liable for any injuries, damages or accidents that may result from the receipt,
assembly or use of this bicycle.


(Oh well.)

Plus five coupons for samples of Lipton White Iced Tea.

Not too shabby, huh?

Good Luck!

****UPDATE!****
Sadly, the contest is only open to US residents.

But here's what I'm going to do, even if you're outside the US. I will include you (if you bother to enter) in the drawing and if you win, I'll send you something else. It won't be a fancy bike (probably it will be booze or booze-related), but it will be SOMETHING. Plus, you don't even need to write about your Y or how free it gets.


************************************

More about what this involves, plus my ramblings, if you're interested:

For the record, I do not get anything but free samples of various Lipton White Tea products for doing this. I am not even required to do a product review, although I probably will just because.

I have to say -- the awesomest thing about this (for me) is that the package I received is literally called the WHITE TEA EXPERIENCE PACK. Usually when I hear the words "experience pack" it has to do with some critical Microsoft upgrade that if I don't put on my computer right away will mean that evil hackers will come steal all of my personal information and then my computer will blow up. Or something.

In this case, I got some coupons, a sample bottle of the tea, tea "to go," and normal hot tea.

I have thus far only tried the bottle of white tea, and it was very tasty. My only complaint is that I think I would prefer just plain ole' white tea to the various flavors that these teas seem to come in. My bottle and my hot teas come in Island Mango & Peach Flavor.

I should also point out that these products are all calorie-free.

So um, let me reiterate: The products are calorie-free. The giveaway bike is about "getting in shape." And the overriding theme of the contest is trying to feel young "again."

And all of this makes me laugh.

Because while being more than gentle, kind and generous about it, I believe I was targeted because the company sought bloggers who feel old, fat, and out of shape.

To which I say: WAY TO DO YOUR RESEARCH!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Everything You Ever Needed To Know About My Sense Of Direction

Ish used to play this game with me, back when he was living in the middle of downtown. We'd be just about ready to exit his building, and he'd say, "Quick! Which way are we going to walk?"

And I, in earnest, would say, "...um...that way?" And then he'd laugh at me.

I do not know where anything is. Especially not in relation to anything else. For instance, sitting inside my apartment right now (having no street views), I could not possibly be expected to know where the grocery store is. I casually did this yesterday, referenced running to the market and made a half-hearted wave with my hand to indicate the market was in the general direction of over there.

Ish stopped me. "Wait, did you just point to the store?"

"Oh, uh, yeah?"

"You think it's over that way?"

"Isn't it?"

More laughter.

Now, perhaps you're wondering if I have these same issues when I'm driving, and I'm sorry to say that yes, and in fact, even more so.

Driving around SOMA (that's "south of Market" for all you non-SFers, where Ish and I live now) should be really easy, for example, since all the streets are in numerical order. The challenge, however, is that most of them are one-way streets. But not all. And in one case, the street starts out as two-way and then dead ends and you suddenly have to turn, and you're like, but the street I need to be on is RIGHT THERE in front of me!

Let's just say that I have been on some amazing odysseys within a 7 block radius of my own damn home.


And as you might well imagine, since I started driving to work last summer (to a city I know even less well than the one I LIVE in), Google Maps and I have become good buddies.

Not that Google Maps helps.

Here is an entirely true story.

Last Friday, I decided to go out and get myself a sandwich at lunch from a deli I heard existed nearby. And even though I knew it was supposed to be "just around the corner," and even though I looked up the deli and discovered it was in a shopping plaza I had been to before, I still plugged the address into Google and studied the map, just to be safe.

Here is what it looked like:


Totally easy, right?

So I head out.

I manage to get to point "B" with little issue. Indeed, the plaza is just around the corner.

But when I get toward the entrance of the plaza, I have to make a choice. There are actually two plazas, kind of, and while the one on the left looks like the "real" one, I have to make a decision.

Use of aerial images for storytelling purposes only. Do not think I bothered to look at these ahead of time. (Uh, not that they would've helped anyway.)



On the left is the shopping plaza where the deli is supposedly located. I can't see the deli from where the parking lot entrance is, but I could logically conclude that the deli is located among the many establishments in the plaza.



To my right, there is the entrance to the other plaza, which mostly looks like a chain restaurant.


And so, in the two seconds I have to decide which way to turn, what with oncoming traffic and all, I make the only logical decision I can.

I turn right.

In some version of the universe, this makes sense to me. Maybe the deli will be located next to the other restaurant, on the other side of the street, across from where it's supposed to be, because...the two food establishments should be near each other? Because you never know?

Yeah, no. There was no reason for me to turn right. There was no deli in the parking lot for the other restaurant.

So I turn the car around, cross the divide, and enter the plaza parking lot. I don't see the deli immediately, so I turn right, along the front of the various stores, looking for it.



Please note that at this juncture, I have no idea how huge this plaza is, or that there's a big store at the end there.

I just keep driving in the direction of "right," hoping something will crop up that resembles a deli.

Alas, nothing does. And when I come to the end of the row, I do the next logical thing.

I go left.

And then I just keep on driving, slowly, as this enormous expanse of bargain stores and parking lot unfolds before my very eyes. I keep my eyes peeled for the deli, but after what feels like 300 miles, it's nowhere to be seen.



Eventually, I come to the end of the bargain stores. It made no sense to me to turn around at that point, so I decided to -- that's right -- turn left again. Maybe the deli's on the other side of the building! I think.



Except it isn't. In fact, nothing is. Literally. No store entrances, not even more parking. Instead, it's like I've turned down a strange alley, lined with dumpsters and the occasional car. It makes no sense, this little road. Why are there no stores here? Why is -- is that a river off to my right? What is going on?

WHERE IS THE DELI???



Eventually, I come to the end of the scary, no-store non-road and see familiar territory.

I can go right, which appears to lead me right out of the parking lot, or I can go left, which leads me back where I started.

I opt to go left, on the idea that I simply missed the deli the first time around.



What I do not realize, however, is that the building to my right that I am completely ignoring because it looks like a Starbucks?



I do not realize it is the deli until I am well past it, and have to double back. Again.

And that is why it took me about 30 minutes to get to the deli .5 miles from where I started. And why Google Maps can't idiot-proof directions. And why you do not ever ask me to be a "navigator."

To recap:

RIGHT WAY

That blue line would be the correct way to get there.


WRONG WAY

La la laaaaaaa.