Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Where's Jack Bauer when you need him?

The following takes place between 6 PM. and 7:30 PM.

Fade in:

6:00 PM A moderately frazzled woman is standing in front of the stove willing water to boil. She lifts up the lid hopefully and peeks in. Clearly unhappy, she slams the lid back down on the pot.

6:01 PM Trixie the dog whines to go outside.

Enter a small blonde child of the culinary persuasion. He looks around and asks

What are you doing?

Woman at stove says

I'm trying to get dinner going before I have to take Gumby to his French class.

Small blonde child known as Surfer Dude says

Why do you look like you're in such a bad mood?

Stove woman says

Because I ended up spending the entire afternoon doing something totally unexpected and unpleasant and I've been behind ever since. I'm just a little stressed out and need more time than I've got.

She starts chopping a zucchini as she talks.

Surfer Dude says

Can I do that?

Stove woman says

If you can be fast because I have to leave in just a minute.

She watches him chop. She says

Could you maybe go a little faster?

He does. She says

Not that fast. This isn't Top Chef. You're going to cut yourself.

6:04 PM Trixie barks to come in.

6:05 PM SW goes to the kitchen door and yells for Gumby. He comes downstairs and they leave for French class. SD is warned to not touch the knife until SW returns.

6:18 PM Gumby is dropped off and SW returns to the kitchen, glancing at the clock. The water is finally boiling. She starts to throw together her desperation spaghetti sauce.

6:21 PM Trixie whines to go out.

6:22 PM
Surfer Dude enters and says

Can we carve our pumpkins now?

SW says

Do you really think that now is the best time for that? It's a little crazy around here at the moment.

SD says

Well, when ARE we going to carve them? Should we just wait until Thanksgiving to do it?

SW says

(never mind what SW says)

then she rethinks and says

Dad always does the pumpkins with you. He's way more creative than I am and you know it. You guys can do the pumpkins Tuesday after school.

SD says

Can I at least draw the faces on them now?

SW says

Sure. Go ahead.

Surfer Dude collects up markers and heads to living room with pumpkins. Trixie barks to come in.

6:28 PM
Sauce simmering.

6:29 PM Trixie whines to go out.

6:30 PM
Garlic bread ready to go in oven.

6:31 PM
Enter shaggy, ill-tempered teenager known as Sasquatch. He says

Will you go out to the studio with me? I need a copy of The Stand to read for school tomorrow and the only copy I have is a paperback and it's falling apart. I think there's a hardback copy out there somewhere.

SW says

There are shelves and shelves of books out there and I'm right in the middle of making dinner. Isn't this the book you have to have read by tomorrow? Like totally read? All 800 pages of it?

Sasquatch says

It's okay. I have plenty of time.

SW says

How many pages have you read?

Sasquatch says


SW says

(never mind what SW says)

6:32 PM
Trixie barks to come in.

6:33 PM They go out to the studio and look for the book. No luck.

Sasquatch says

Well, I'll have to get a new book. I only read hardcovers. I can't read a falling apart paperback.

SW says

Sure you can.

They spar briefly and Sasquatch exits the room.

6:47 PM Trixie whines to go out.

6:50 PM
Dinner is done.

6:51 PM
SW lets Trixie back in and tells the kids they can get their food when they're ready.

6:52 PM
SW leaves to pick Gumby up from class.

6:56 PM SW arrives to pick up Gumby and finds him shooting pool in the rec area of the community building. He wants to show her how well he's doing and says
Watch me. I can get all of these balls in the pockets.

7:02 PM
After missing nineteen shots in a row he finally gets the last ball in and they leave.

7:03 PM
On the drive home SW says

So you really have no homework tonight?

And Gumby says

Well, we have a little assignment, but it isn't really homework.

SW says

What is it?

Gumby says

We need a picture of ourselves as a baby and now. And I need a picture of you or dad as a baby.

SW says

Wow. That's going to be really tricky. I don't think I have any pictures of dad or I as a baby and all of our other pictures are still unpacked somewhere out in the studio. When do you need them by?

And Gumby says

Tomorrow morning.

SW says

(never mind what SW says)

7:10 PM
They walk in the door to find the Film Geek home popping a beer. He looks at SW and says

You wouldn't believe the day I've had.

and SW says

(never mind what SW says)

7:11 PM Trixie whines to go out.

7:14 PM
Dinner is served.

7:15 PM Trixie barks to come in.

7:25 PM Phone rings. It is the room parent from Surfer Dude's class calling (for the second time) to confirm treats for the party on Wednesday. SW states she will be bringing goodies as planned.

7:27 PM SW says

I still haven't heard a word out of the room parent from Gumby's class about the party. Loser! I wonder who the room parent even is.

And as her eyes grow wide in dawning horror, we fade out.

************************************************************************************* *************************************************************************************
Morning update :

Sasquatch decided to do his report on a totally different book.

Surfer Dude left Sharpies strewn all over the one year old sofa.

Gumby's photos (which we dug up) are lying forgotten on the dining room table.

Film Geek is sharpening his pumpkin carving knife.

and Stove Woman?

The party is planned and parents have been recruited. Gross Out Boxes are being made as we speak.

It's another day. Bring it on.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tagged Tuesday

Tag! I'm it!

I've been tagged by ahna at iguana banana to do a

10 Random Facts About Me Meme

thereby confirming what has been long suspected - that pretty much everything about me is random. I can do this. Just don't ask me to do anything where I have to take off my It's All About Me handle.

1. Almost none of my friends know that I blog. And of the ones who do, almost none of them read it. Some family and friends in LA follow along, but to the best of my knowledge o
nly two people I see on a regular basis read it. Three if you count the Film Geek. To be fair, I think I've only told three other people in Kansas, so it's not like they're avoiding me in droves. Or are they?

2. My big High School rebellion was with, of all things, the Bay City Rollers
. My step-father (at the time) was a fairly hotshot studio and touring musician who often ended
up on prestigious lists of acoustic guitarists. We even had the Teac/Tascam test studio in our house. It was crawling (sometimes literally) with really excellent musicians who were all perfectly happy to talk music with a teenager. This truly messed with my ability to rebel properly, as all the bands that had my friend's parents up in arms were bands that this crowd thought very highly of. Enter the BCR. My step-father would grit his teeth and say Do you think they could hit even ONE note in key? in a very tortured tone of voice. I played them constantly and sang along (off-key) at the top of my lungs.

Mission Accomplished.

3. I had three negative pregnancy tests with Sasquatch before one finally came out positive.
After the third one I was really upset and my husband and a friend thought they would take my mind off of it at a blow-out birthday bash we were invited to. After two glasses of wine I suddenly developed the urge to get up and dance with the fire-eater who was performing. There was photographic documentation. And the next day there was a blue line. Sigh.

4. I consider myself a good cook but I cannot cook a piece of meat right to save my life.
Every roast I've ever made has been slightly tougher than my sho
e. And don't get me started on chicken. I'm so afraid of poisoning my whole family that I cook it until it smokes. When the smoke detector goes off, it's dinner time.

5. I really think I have low level OCD.
I'm a checker. Check to make sure things are locked, check to make sure no kids are crouching down behind my car in the driveway, check to make sure we never run out of chocolate in the house.

6. I reread all the Little House on the Prairie books depending on my mood. When I need a kick in the pants I read The Long Winter. When I'm upbeat I read These Happy Golden Years. When I'm hungry I read Farmer Boy. I almost never reread the first one. I have no idea why.

7. I can eat caramels until I make myself sick.

8. I came thisclose to going into psychiatric nursing. Working
in an ER is pretty damned close though. When I get totally burned out on critical care (hopefully a long way off) I want to do hospice nursing. Talk about a complete 180.

9. When I was growing up my mom had a sachet and potpourri business that I helped out with. We did huge craft shows up and down the West Coast. It was a lot of fun, but for years my nose was so overloaded it was completely out of whack. Everything smelled exactly the same.

10. I hate ants with a passion.
A burning, white hot passion. It could be from living in a house for eleven years that was built on an anthill. It could be from the fire ants in Alabama. It could just be that they're absolutely disgusting. Whatever the reason, they awaken my inner sadist every time I see their cute little selves on my kitchen counter. I cackle madly, Raid in hand, grinning like a crazy woman.

I'm supposed to tag 10 people, but what I'm going to do is make this a free for all. Anyone who wants to do this meme can go to town with it. It'll be fun.

Come on. You know you want to.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fun Monday #1

Karina at Candid Karina is hosting Fun Monday this week. I've never participated in one before, although I planned on signing up for Willowtree's last week and then somehow never did. For my maiden FM voyage, this is the task we've been set -

I want to see your security blankets. No, not the kind Linus carries around with him in the Charlie Brown cartoons, although, if you have one of those, by all means share it. What I want to see are the items you just cannot leave home without. What is it that if you leave your house without, you feel naked, incomplete, not quite right? This can be one thing or many things. And since most of us don't live in a clothing optional society, lets just assume we all leave the house fully dressed...

Okay. I'm dressed. I'm walking out of the house. What do I absolutely have to have with me?

I guess I need to start this off with a little confession. I am the ultimate low maintenance woman. Surely I could be more babe-like if I put a little more effort into it, but for the most part I don't . If pressed, I can go from smacking the snooze alarm off to pulling out of the driveway in fifteen minutes flat, including shower. Add two minutes for a shampoo. Now I'm not trying to say I don't look like ass for the entire day, but it can be done. It just isn't pretty.

Even when I have a lot of time I'm still not the heavy make-up type. If I'm working
I'll do a very minimal make-up, but otherwise I go barefaced, save for moisturizer. So my security blanket wouldn't be any products that made me look terribly girly. I can safely cross off anything by Loreal and associates. (I'm worth it, I'm just too lazy to do it).

I've thought about this for days and can only come up with two things I won't leave my house without. (I'm assuming I'll have car keys, cash, a credit card and a cell phone). Maybe I do have six things, because I won't leave my house without any of those, but there's no real story behind those things - that's just survival.

My first security blanket is my sunglasses. They are plain non-prescription sunglasses, and I have lots of them. My children are really hard on my sunglasses and they tend to end up in very strange places, so earlier this year I bought a lot of 20+ pair on eBay so I wouldn't have to worry about tracking them down. My favorites look a lot like the ones pictured here, but I'm not really picky. I don't like bright lights in my eyes and they make driving a lot easier, but my main reason for always wearing sunglasses (outside anyway) is vanity. One of my eyes wanders a little when I'm tired (which is always) and I'm terribly self-conscious about it, so I hide behind dark lensed sunglasses. One of these days I'm going to bite the bullet and have corrective surgery done, but today isn't the day. In the meantime I'm stylin' in my shades.

The second thing I won't leave home without is my chicken poop. Yes, chicken poop. For those unfamiliar with this product (which I'm sure is almost everyone), chicken poop is the best lip balm in the world. I speak as a connoisseur of lip balm, so you have to trust me on this. It's a soy, jojoba and beeswax base, with sweet orange and lavender and it is To Die For. I was a Burt' s Bees devotee for years, but I've never looked back.

The story behind the name is that apparently
the woman who created it spent a lot of time on her grandparent's farm when she was younger. She had really chapped lips, which she made worse by constantly licking them. Her grandfather told her he was going to put chicken poop on her lips to make her stop licking them, and whammo! Product history was made. If you find it in a store, the display box is shaped like a big white chicken and the lip balm comes out a hole in the tail end. Duh. Where else would it come from?

As tempting as it was to make up really cool things that I won't leave home without, I didn't. Don't hate me because I'm truthful.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

worlds of fun

Warning: This is a stinking long post. If I weren't doing Fun Monday tomorrow, I would break it up into two parts, but I am so I won't. And if I wait until Tuesday no one will give a fig about our adventure, so I'm doing it now. (Like anyone really cares now. Riight...)

Consider yourselves warned.

Like most everything else in my life, the amusement park trip was both more and less what I expected. Some things turned out pretty much the way I thought they would, some things turned out better and some things...are just the way my family does things.

The first indication that Control Freak Mom was asleep at the switch was when my friend Stacey, whose family we were going with, called me and said Jules, did you notice that they don't even open until 6 pm today? Somehow, in our zeal to pick the kids up right after school and head out, we had missed that little fact. Quick juggling ensued and a new plan was formulated. We are undisputed Queens of Complicated Logistics, a fact I would like noted on my headstone.

By the time all the kids were home and ready to go, we were already in a state of agitation. Sasquatch had walked in the door with a few friends, even though I had told him to be ready to leave as soon as he got home from school. I made his friends leave, which made him mad and I got a patented Sasquatch tantrum to elevate my blood pressure. (I'm such a big bad mom. I even drove them home, for god's sake). Then Gumby and Surfer Dude were disappointed that we weren't heading right out. They got over it, but they were buzzing they were so excited. Anyone in their range got zapped with static electricity.

Then there was the Film Geek. I had been a little skeptical when he said he was planning to go with us. He had a very busy weekend planned - a model show he was trying to get something ready for, students shooting projects that he had to supervise, and, as the day unfolded, a festering political situation at work that got uglier by the moment, and that he, of course, had been sucked into. He spent the day alternating between the studio with his model and sitting on the computer or cell phone raging about the problem at work. I was asked to read and comment on emails. Department heads were tracked down and roped in. He was, to put it mildly, livid.

Now I love my husband dearly, but there is something about him that has driven me crazy since our second date and really has never changed. The man is late for everything. Everything. When he dies and the mourners are assembled, the car carrying his body will go to the wrong place and we will all sit there for hours waiting for him to show up. And I will not be surprised in the slightest. (I've been predicting it for years, as a matter of fact). His sense of timing has been the single most contributing factor to arguments in our married life because I am a human alarm clock and think it is unspeakably rude to keep people waiting. He thinks I need to lighten up a little bit and, in his words, "take my pack off." He has also, with very few exceptions, managed to end up in work situations where he can get away with it. It infuriates me, but I've learned to work around it. I don't see much change in his future, but I do see a lot of Maalox in mine.

You may be wondering when the hell we're getting to the amusement park stuff. And here's my answer. There's a reason why all the road trip movies like National Lampoon's Vacation and all the others of that ilk start with the planning of the trip. Because the mood you're in when you actually sit your butt in the car to leave is huge. (The mood. And my butt, but that's another post). And affects everything if you let it. If you let it. Do I need to tell you that in my family we let it? Do I really?

I won't bore you with the details, but by the time everyone in my family was in the car and on the way, tempers were hot. I had been screaming and running herd on the whole motley crew. Sasquatch was being dropped off to ride with Stacey, since her son is one of his closest friends. Stacey was in a small state herself, since the plans had changed so many times in the course of the week and she's anal like me (though on a much smaller scale). On the way to drop him off (already late), FG realized he had to go by work, but when we swung (out of the way) for him to do this he realized that he didn't have his work keys (do NOT get me started), and that the only person who could unlock the door for him was the person the entire political brouhaha was about, who was leaving out the back door as we pulled up. He opted not to, but was ticked off. I kept checking my watch and imaging Stacey pacing in her living room waiting for us and I was ticked off. Sasquatch was ticked off in the backseat because I had dragged him out of the house without giving him time to burn a CD for he and Evan to listen to, which meant that they would now have to watch The Princess Diaries (or something like it) with Evan's younger sister and her friend all the way to the park. (And since when do kids need entertainment in the car driving to be entertained?) Gumby and SD were happy about life in general and not ticked about anything. (Never fear. This will change).

And so, tempers high and adrenaline soaring, we hit the highway.

For anyone who needs a bathroom break, this is the ideal place to stop - Installment Style. You could even, if you can't stand anymore, walk away now and come back tomorrow to finish up. Of course then you'd be behind because of Fun Monday, so I don't know what to tell you. It's your own fault for encouraging my diarrhea of the mouth. Who was it who said "I would've written a shorter letter, but I didn't have time"? It wasn't me, but it could have been. It's all in the editing. And the meticulous attention to detail. And the time and desire to do both.Where was I? Oh, yes...

By the time we got to the park we had somehow crossed the line into happy mode. (Maybe it was my husband saying, only half jokingly, After all the money we're spending on this you'd better have fun, damn it!) As we bypassed the admission lines (thanks to mom thinking ahead and buying tickets on line), we were starting to feel positively giddy. For a minute there we looked (minus Sasquatch who was, as figured, with Evan) like a glossy poster for happy amusement park attendees. Freeze this moment in your mind. Now start your stopwatches.

We hit trouble immediately, on the very first ride. It was a low-level roller coaster, not one of the twisty mammoths but not a kiddie ride either. SD saw it and wanted to go on it immediately. We got in line. Gumby refused to go on. SD gave him grief, but he wouldn't budge. He stood and watched as we got on. It was a four person car, two on each side facing each other. The cars ran along the track, going up and down hills and curves. The twist was that the cars themselves spun around in circles while they were running the track. FG and SD were on one side and I was facing them on the other. Everything was fine until the safety bars clicked and the cars lurched forward. At that exact point my youngest child's face morphed into a cross between Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Edvard Munch's The Scream. I spent the whole ride spinning in circles and shouting Are You Okay? SURFER DUDE! ARE YOU OKAY??

He was okay, he just wasn't okay. He stumbled off the ride, his King Of Roller Coaster Rides crown tarnished after one wearing and swore not to set foot on a fast ride until...never. Gumby was relatively nice about it, although he did say it was too bad that SD wasn't as brave as he thought he would be on the roller coasters. Then he asked if we could go through the Haunted House right next door, since he had been looking forward to the Haunted Houses like SD had been looking forward to the roller coasters. So we did. As we approached the sign that warned that this wasn't appropriate for kids under fourteen, my ten and eleven year olds scoffed loudly.

Then we went through the Haunted House. Could we just say that at the end no one was scoffing? (I was laughing hysterically at the sight of the FG screaming like a little girl when a really loud vampire jumped out of a dark corner at him until a nasty little werewolf snuck up on me and took three years off my life). I will carry with me for a long time the vision of Gumby being chased in circles by a demented bloody clown with a shovel. As we walked away from the ghouls, Gumby pitched his Haunted House crown into the discard pile that already contained SD's roller coaster crown. He summed it up pretty aptly - That's It. I'm Done.

So - neither one would go on either one. But...there wasn't much else to choose from, so from then on we improvised. The FG and I went on this

which was really a lot of fun. His vertigo was nowhere to be found, so we hit a couple of other fast rides while the kids ate dinner and sat with Stacey. I kept trying to get the two younger guys over to the more age appropriate attractions, but they didn't want to feel like they were on the "baby rides." It didn't matter how many times I told them they weren't "baby" rides - they wouldn't budge. Then we had a major meltdown from SD saying that this was the worst day of his life because there was "nothing to do" and that he was "bored to death." Sasquatch got all over him, saying he couldn't believe that SD could ruin this for everyone. (The sound you hear is me choking to death on an irony overdose). Even Gumby got mad at SD and for a brief moment it looked like we would be heading home a scant two hours after we arrived.

Then the FG said we should split up and he took the younger two and went to the smaller kid section (over their violent protests), where (of course) they had a blast. I went on all the big coasters with Sasquatch and Evan and had a blast. It was the best time we have had with each other in a long, long time. I had forgotten how much I've always adored roller coasters. There were virtually no lines, the temperature was cool but very comfortable, the moon was full and the entire park was filled with smoke from the smoke machines. As we climbed coaster hills higher and higher we were in smoke clouds and couldn't even see the ground. As the last ride of the night Sasquatch talked me into going on the ride in the video above in the very front seat, which will go down as one of the more unpleasant sixty seconds of my life, but it felt nice to share my terror with my teenager. The fact that he was screaming with me instead of at me was a big improvement on the norm.

By the time we hooked up with the rest of my family it was almost eleven and we were all ready to call it a day. Stacey and her group had already left. We got in our car, wrapped the kids in blankets and headed home. The kids were going on and on about how much fun they had had. The FG and I had faced death together on an inverted loop and come out on the other end still alive, which made us happy with each other. It was all good.

As we turned on the car, this song was on the radio

And you know what? I think that about covered it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

in a rut

I was standing in the laundry room Friday morning when Gumby approached me with money on his mind. I stopped folding clothes long enough to repeat my mantra of the last few weeks.

I would be happy to talk about chores and allowances, but not until your room is clean.

(The only reason I stopped with the laundry is that for someone with not a drop of Italian blood, I sure do use my hands a lot when I talk).

I said

It isn't important to me that your room is spotless, but someone is going to break a leg one night tripping over all that crap on your floor. When we lived in California I would never go to sleep at night until all the floors were clear. And do you know why??

and he said

Yes, Mom. It was because of that one really big earthquake and everybody got out of the house okay except that one mom on the news went back into the bedroom to get one of the kids a blanket and she tripped over a toy and broke her neck and died.

and I said

well, actually I didn't say anything, because he had said exactly what I had been planning on saying. So while I was trying to a) recover and b) wrap my brain around the idea that at least one of my kids listened to me, Surfer Dude walked in.

and Gumby said

hey, do you know why Mom wants our floors to be clear before we go to bed at night?

and Surfer Dude said

Sure. It was because of that one really big earthquake and everybody got out of the house okay except that one mom on the news went back into the bedroom to get one of the kids a blanket and she tripped over a toy and broke her neck and died.

and I said

You guys remembered that? Why did you remember that? No one ever listens to me. Everyone knows that.

and Gumby said

How could we not remember that? You say it all the time.

and I said

I do not. I am not that predictable. Am I? Am I that predictable?

and Surfer Dude said

and you say the same things over and over

and I said

I do not. I am not predictable and I do not repeat myself. I do not. I am not predictable. And I do not repeat myself. I do not. You kids are just trying to make me crazy. I do not repeat myself. And I am not predictable.

They left for school chuckling.

I'm not predictable, am I? And I don't repeat myself all the time, do I?

Am I? Do I?

Friday, October 26, 2007

we interrupt this programming...

Tonight's post has been pre-empted until pretty late, due to fast breaking news of the Haunted House variety. There will be a post, but the scheduling is out of our control, as the park does not even close until one. If you see something new on the blog - I have survived. We reserve the right to air programming of our choice.

The full details of today's adventure will be available for your consideration on Sunday.

Parental Discretion is advised.

rock and roll

Eight years of apathy and missed chances are all catching up with me today in a big way. Ever since we've moved here my kids have periodically expressed an interest in going to the great big Six Flags type amusement park an hour away. Every summer I say we will and then about July when they ask when specifically I say it's too hot and we'll go in the Fall when it isn't a hundred percent humidity outside.

In the Fall when I'm finally ready to bite the bullet and go, I head to their website for info and do my very best Homer Simpson D'OH sound. Because we're not in California anymore and amusement parks aren't open year round and I suddenly realize that I've promised on my motherly honor (tarnished tho it is) to take my kids somewhere this weekend only to find out it's closed until April. In my continuing ineptitude I've extended this streak for eight years. It's ending today.

In an idea (mine) that I'd like to chalk up to drugs but can't, we're combining Halloween Haunted Houses with roller coasters at the great big Six Flags type amusement park. That's right folks, it's haunted amusement park time and we'll be there in all our glory. God help me. I'm picking the kids up as soon as they get out of school and we're heading out. The plan is to stay until they close at midnight.We're meeting up with some friends there (for parental moral support if nothing else). Last I heard the Film Geek, in all his vertigo prone glory is going too.

Speaking of vertigo, here is a video clip of one of the top attractions on my kid's list.

So for the sake of fun, lets take a closer look at all the participants, shall we? The Film Geek and his problem with spinning rides has been well documented. The man practically pukes at a picture of a merry go round. However, he's alright with heights. The Rotten Correspondent can be quite happily spun around like romaine in a salad spinner, but doesn't like to be any higher than the first step on a ladder. Surfer Dude is positive that the roller coaster hasn't been built that can faze him, but as he's never been on one before that's a matter for debate. He's refusing to go in the Haunted Houses on general principle. Gumby is positive that the Haunted House hasn't been built that can faze him, but as he's never been in one before that's a matter for debate. He's refusing to go on the roller coasters on general principle. And Sasquatch, who is pretty much afraid of everything, will be wandering the park with at least one and possibly two of his friends who will insist on doing everything, and rather than look like a wuss he'll go along until he cracks like an egg and calls me frantically on my cell to come and (discretely) rescue him.

Doesn't this sound like fun? How about if I add this - it's supposed to be in the low 50's with a strong chance for rain. Or this - it's the last weekend of the year they're open. Or even this - have I ever mentioned how claustrophobic I am and how much I hate crowds?

But it'll all be worth it when I don't have to listen to stories all winter that start like this - "Do you remember how mom forgot her promise again to take us to the amusement park..."

I can only imagine the stories they will be telling.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Thursday Three

Today let's dish about

Cliffhanger Television Shows

You know, shows that you just can't stop watching, no matter how hard you might want to. Shows that you start looking forward to as soon as the current episode ends. Shows that you think about during the week and wonder what in the world is going to happen next. Shows that lure you into hanging around whatever fills in for a water cooler in your life and offering your own personal insight.

In short, television that gets under your skin.

I'm okay with past tense too, as in older shows that kept you mesmerized in their day. Now there are those people who might call these programs Soap Operas, and in some sense I think they're right. Ongoing character development, unexpected plot twists, skanky bad guys, good guys you root for, good guys who turn out to be bad guys (and vice versa) - these are all crucial elements to the cliffhanger. And to the Soap Opera. Call it what you will. Just make sure you're sitting in front of the television set when it comes on.

#1. 24. The only current one of my three, and in my humble opinion the best. It has elevated the cliffhanger to a whole new level. I will admit that it's gotten a trifle weary lately, but I still think the basic premise is wonderful. Each episode takes place in "real time" over the 24 hour course of a (very eventful) day. In my view the first season (which has been on DVD for quite a while) is one of the best seasons of television ever. Do not even start watching it unless you have 24 hours to spare with nothing else planned. I'm not kidding. It will drive you crazy.

I'm not big on political thrillers and I am terribly anti-violence. I have very little patience with guys who have pissing contests to see who has the bigger gun. And every last one of the medical scenes in this show is a joke. I mean laugh out loud bad.

And in spite of all of that, it's terrific.

#2. Dallas. Okay, this is without question a soap opera, but anyone over 35 remembers the catch phrase that captivated the world the summer of 1980 - Who Shot J.R.?

And even though I was just a year old I remember it still. Alright, I was slightly older. Alright, I was taking my very first post High School all alone with a girlfriend trip to London for a month during this time. And if you can believe it, those Brits were in as big a tizzy as we were. If my memory is not faulty, this was right before Diana Spencer knocked J.R. Ewing right off the front pages and into reruns.

The arguments were everywhere and any person you spoke to had their own opinion as to who had done it. I don't remember how far into the season they made us wait to tell us, but I seem to recall it as being a little anti-climactic.

Oh, and just for the record? I knew it was Kristin all the time.

#3. Twin Peaks. This may not be the best of the bunch, but it
is by far my favorite. Even now, after all these years, whenever
I think about this show all I can think is What In The World????
(WTF works too). This clip is very fuzzy, but it gets the idea across pretty well.

Everything about it, from the wonderful, quirky music, to the plot that virtually demanded a flow chart to a bunch of the most twisted characters ever assembled to dream sequences that were like some LSD flashback as interpreted by Donny Osmond - this show was pure magic. The signature line - "She's dead. Wrapped in plastic"- set the tone. (Of course it was pronounced more like "She's day-ed, wray-upped in pal-as-tic.")

I was working at Paramount when this show started and let me tell you that we were a hard sell. But every single Friday morning the entire lot would be buzzing about what had happened the night before and how in the world they were going to top it the next week.

It was great.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Queen for a Day

I've been hit with the most free form meme imaginable by laurie. Evidently all you have to do is talk about yourself. I can so do that. Isn't that what I do on a daily basis with my It's All About Me blog anyway? And now it's officially sanctioned? Sweet.

If I were following what few rules there are, I'd start with why I blog. So (since at heart I'm a rule follower and not a rule breaker) I will. I blog...because I can. I started because there were people I felt I was losing touch with and it broke my heart. I continued because it feels good to write again. Writing was my outlet for so long, but I rarely had the nerve to show anyone. You can be brave on the internet even if it's harder to be brave in your life. I keep doing it now because I've made friends who have become very dear to me. I worry about their kids and their dogs and their lives. I worry if they don't post for a day. I miss them when they don't post for a day. And I love the immediacy of commenting. Bam! What started out as a monologue is now interactive. Not to mention the fact that this may be the only facet of my life where people actually listen to me. why I blog.

The second component of this meme is to talk (more) about yourself.
Now, my life is a pretty open book, even when it should be firmly shut. I try to not tilt into TMI territory any more than I have to, but my boundaries on that might be a little lax. I'm pretty game for any subject that comes up, but I've noticed that some topics are hard to introduce casually. It's like telling someone that you're pregnant or going out with someone new. (I'm neither, by the way). It feels kind of abrupt to just blurt it out, but you'd still like to bring it up at some point. Hopefully before the birth or the honeymoon.

So I thought it could be interesting to bring up some of my "orphan" facts here. You know, the ones that are trickier to work into a typical blog post, but are nevertheless a piece of the bigger picture. Don't say I didn't warn you.

~My father was Iraqi, born and raised, the second oldest (and oldest boy) of nine children. He was Catholic, however, and this led to a lot of persecution by those in the religious majority. He moved to the US (by way of Britain) a few years before I was born. Specifically, he was Chaldean, a small group of people directly descended from the Babylonians. The largest concentration of Chaldeans in the world lives in the metropolitan Detroit area. There's a lot of info on Google, but I couldn't decide which one to I didn't. I could probably get a hundred posts from this one fact alone off the top of my head. I'm sure it could be interesting, though probably not productive.

~I hated High School with all my heart and didn't really feel like I could be myself until college. I loved college as much as I hated high school. Isn't it funny how most people like one or the other but usually not both? Why is that?

~As I was typing this my mammogram results arrived in the mail. All clear, baby. Whew!

~To paraphrase swearingmother, I am a world class worrier. My grandmother (who was the same, and had a bleeding ulcer to prove it) used to describe us this way - "Honey, we worry so much that when there's nothing to worry about it worries us." Yup. That about covers it. Every now and then I get furious with the Film Geek because it seems to me like he never worries. He always has the same answer - "Well, I know you're worrying enough for the both of us." Gee. Thanks.

~If I ever write my autobiography (admittedly a long shot) the title will be Men and Film. I seem to have spent most of my life involved with men who are involved with their cameras. (Wow. Does that sound bad or what?)

~ I hate odd numbers. I like even numbers. I am the only even numbered birthday in my house. Sigh.

~ Stay tuned for another episode of The Gabbies, as I have a slew of awards to dispense later this week.

Are you bored to death yet?

I figured as much.

So...let me quickly pass the torch on to Jen and Mya. (Jo was also on my list, but when I went to her site to copy her address I saw that someone else had already gotten her with a very similar meme. You're off the hook this time, Jo).

Wow. Did you ever think there was so much about me that you didn't want to know?

I take it back. I am tagging Jo on this after all. I just actually read her meme and it's totally different. Thought you pulled a fast one, eh Miss Jo?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

odds and ends

I wish I could think of something good to post about
tonight, but I seem to have a short circuit somewhere.

I have lots of motivation and not a lot of get up and
go. I could briefly touch on...

The fact that my computer has been taken over by
crazed tenth graders with a huge assignment due
tomorrow. The Mac (which I'm writing this on) for some
reason won't let me compose on Blogger, so I'm
emailing this to myself so I can cut and paste when
kids get off the "real" computer. (Whenever the heck
that may be). Who says I don't love you guys?

The fact that if my husband hears one more time about
how I "need" a laptop, he'll...spit? Run away? Buy
the damn laptop? He really could care less if I get
one. (Actually, maybe he could. I think he'd like me
to shut up). The problem is that I'd want to buy an
inexpensive one off
eBay and don't know what I'm
looking for. This is where he comes in. Or not, as the
case may be.

The sheer amusement value of an ordinarily smart dog
(Trixie) trying to steal a grilled pastrami and cheese
sandwich off of Sasquatch's plate and upending an
entire bowl of cream of tomato soup in the process. As
Sasquatch howled and carried on, she sought me out in
the kitchen and sat penitently in front of me with
soup dripping off her entire head. Can I tell you
again that it is NEVER dull around here?

The wonderful book I've finished that pixelpi
recommended called Good Grief, by
Lolly Winston.
Beyond terrific. And yes laurie, you are influential
beyond your wildest dreams, as I have been taking all
twenty pounds of
Lonesome Dove to bed with me at
night. And I'm loving it.

The absolute fabulosity of napping for three
glorious afternoon hours while the rain poured down
and three dogs snuggled up close to me in my bed. It
truly does not get much better than that.

The sick feeling I'm getting in my stomach every time
I see anything even vaguely news related and see that
Southern California is still burning. My people aren't
Malibu, but a lot of them are still in fire areas,
especially my mom and Stu. They're seriously in the
tinderbox foothills, and they've been threatened
before. Queen of Denial that I am, I haven't even
called my mom to check in. Ain't fear grand? (In my
defense, none of these fires seems to be inland. Yet).

Alright, I've rambled at you enough. Let me go and try
to kick the teenagers off the computer long enough to

Wish me luck.

PS - I swapped a pot of fresh coffee for five minutes
on the computer to post.I promise - I'll catch up on
my blog reading tomorrow. Sorry!

Monday, October 22, 2007

born to ride

Two weeks from today I'll be on an early flight to LA. It will be my first trip home in almost exactly ten months. And do you know what else?

I'm going alone.

I'll only be in LA for three days, but I already have my list (well, of course I do) of what I need to do while I'm there. Ikea is mandatory as are the best fish tacos in the world at Senor Fish. I'll obviously make a trip to kneel at the altar of Trader Joe's. I will make speedy rounds of family and friends just to remind everyone of how pleasant it is to have me 1600 miles away. I have to get to the beach, however briefly, assuming that it isn't still on fire. And do you know what else?

Thursday morning, my mom and I are packing up one of their cars and we're driving it back to Kansas. Road trip, baby. Thelma and Louise hit the interstate. I'm so excited, even the Mojave Desert looks good. I just love road trips. And I cannot even remember the last time I got to spend two uninterrupted days with my mom. Oh my god, is she going to be sick of me. It'll be great!

Two days with a 64 oz Diet Coke in one hand and a steering wheel in the other. Two days of diner food and hotel room chick flicks. Two days to hang out with my mom and decompress. (Until she starts bitching about my driving and telling me to slow down, anyway). Hold on to your hats, everyone. I sense some really good blog material coming on.

I can't wait.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I've had quite a Saturday. In trying to clear my head and put my priorities in order, I'm going with the plus/minus system.

Plus: I didn't have to work today.

Minus: I'm still tired from working Friday and have to work Sunday.

Plus: A beautiful day for the last soccer game of the season.
Minus: We got our shorts handed to us and I have a sunglasses sunburn.

Plus: My friend Stacey had a wonderful 50th birthday party that we've just gotten back from.
Minus: Lots and lots of people and a claustrophobic's nightmare.

Plus: Wine. Lots of wine.
Minus: Wine. Lots of wine.

Plus: Sasquatch has been in quite a good mood lately.
Minus: Report card arrived in mail.

Plus: He's still alive.
Minus: He has quite a future in french fry delivery technology.

Bonus Minus: I'm creeping closer to my grave by the minute.

Plus: Gumby and Surfer Dude hanging over my bed with a hand made breakfast tray.
Minus: Breakfast immediately followed by a request for a sleepover.

Plus: I made a Greek spaghetti dish for the party that Stacey specifically requested and got a fabulous response.
Minus: Every single pot in my kitchen is now dirty.

and to turn things around...

Minus: My entire house is filled with boys from prearranged sleepovers.
Plus: I get to have to work tomorrow.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

over the hill at 35

Sound Bite of the Day:

An extremely intoxicated and high flying gentleman comes in, escorted by many blue uniforms. The nurse who is doing his initial assessment - the triage nurse - asks him if he's having any pain. He says he is. She asks where. He leers at her and graphically tells her what's hurting and what she can do to make it feel better. This nurse, who is really lovely woman in her mid-thirties, doesn't even blink. Been there, done that.

There's a lot of activity in the room as she's entering this into the computer. Doctors, cops, nurses, aides - all scurrying around to get this patient assessed and settled. All of a sudden the patient looks at the triage nurse and says

Damn! I bet you were really hot once. Now you're just old.

And as the room stills completely, the ER doc (who absolutely adores this particular nurse and gives her lots of shit to prove it) looks up from his neuro assessment and says

Well, at least we know he's completely alert and oriented.

Friday, October 19, 2007

not the smartest dog in the world

I don't know what to do anymore with our black lab, Dee Dee. She's driving me crazy and I can't figure out a solution. Actually, that isn't true. I can think of a solution. I just can't do it.

Wednesday, for the second time in a week, she got out of the house. It was pouring down rain, thundering and lightning. The streets were flooded, cars struggling to stay on the road, the kind of day you don't want to set foot off the porch. One of the kids (this time Gumby) didn't shut the front door all the way and the wind pushed it open. It was like that for maybe five seconds. The other two dogs approached the open door, peered out and turned around in search of a warm sofa. Not Dee Dee. She bolted. I headed out after her in the car and got her two blocks away, drenched to the bone. She climbed meekly into the backseat and came home.

The last time she did this was not even a week ago and it was the scariest one yet. She got across not one but two major streets before one of Sasquatch's friends (the one who had let her out to start with) collared her after she had worn herself out. He's the only person to ever be able to actually catch her when she's run, and I suspect it's a good thing he did. She was on the side of one of the major streets she had crossed - a black dog at dusk. Can you hear the clock ticking? I sure can.

We got Dee Dee the beginning of March 2005. She was a shelter dog and they figured she was between two and three years old at that point. She and her brother had been brought in together from the next county over, and from the info we got it seemed that the family who had them was financially unable to keep them. She was skinny and scared, not unlike most shelter dogs. After a fair amount of politicking, we brought her home.

And in a lot of ways, I've regretted it ever since. She has some interesting issues. The first relates to food. She has lost her girlish figure and now looks like Fat Elvis. No food is safe in my house. She has even eaten boxes of crackers and loaves of bread off of shelves and out of cabinets. I wouldn't think she would be smart enough to pop a cabinet, but clearly where food is involved she is genius material.

She also had some chewing issues when we first got her, enough so that I started to doubt the original pound story and think that her former people just got tired of her destructive ways. She ate two living room arm chairs and a fairly expensive slipcover right off the bat. Then there was this little trick - she would get on a bed and kick all the covers off. Then she would lay smack in the middle of the bed, on the fitted sheet, and kick backwards as hard as she could. This would inevitable rip the sheet straight down the middle. We have a California King bed. Do you know how expensive those fitted sheets are?

Of course the obvious solution (other than taking the dog back to the pound) is to keep the doors closed, both so she can't destroy the beds and can't get out of the house. And, while I agree wholeheartedly about the validity of that, it's not always feasible in my house. Our back yard is totally enclosed. The fence was the first thing we put up when we bought the house. But I have too many kids in and out of my front door on a daily basis. I can yell and scream to shut the blessed door (and most of the time they do), but it only takes once. Then there's this aspect of it -

Gumby panics when she gets out. In a lot of ways, she's become his dog. One time last year when she bolted he chased her. Chased her across a street, chased her down the road, blindly followed her. And no matter how hard I screamed for him to stop (in my very best "do not screw with me" mom voice), he wouldn't. He was so afraid for her that he put himself in danger. I probably don't have to even say this, but that sent me over the edge. I'm terrified that he's going to do it again, and we live in a more urban area than we did then.

That leads into her only saving grace. The children positively adore her. And she is fabulous with them. Absolutely fabulous. Not a speck of temper, gentle as can be, sleeps with them at night and watches over them. Perfect. She's also very protective of her house, barking like mad if anyone approaches. And she's a big girl, with a big bark. She's intimidating if you don't know her. Or if you don't have a pocket full of food. The chewing and the sheet wrecking even stopped after a bit. The running slowed down, but never completely went away.

The fact that she runs away is even more aggravating because she cannot stand to be outside. If you let her in the yard to do her business, she's finished in about thirty seconds and then parks at the back door and barks until you let her in. But she'll bolt every chance she can. She doesn't usually get too far, because she's so heavy that she has no stamina, and after running full out for a couple of minutes she's too tired to do anything else. Unfortunately for me, she moves pretty fast initially. Ultimately, she flops down in an exhausted pile, but she can cover some ground in the meantime.

Last week, when she crossed the major roads, I said to my friend Laurie (who was here when it happened), "She's dead. There's no way she isn't going to get hit." And all I could think was Oh, please don't let any of my kids see it happen. (This was also right after Gumby's rat died, to add to the stress level). Laurie ran one way, I ran another, Sasquatch and his friends headed in yet another direction. Laurie's husband John took off in their van, and Gumby and Surfer Dude stayed home to man the phone in case someone grabbed her and called. And we caught her. That time.

I really believe her luck is running out. She's just not smart enough to realize it.

But I am.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Thursday Three

I'm writing this on a wet and windy afternoon, listening to the rain pounding on my roof. Our entire area is under a flood watch that seems justified, since when I went to pick the kids up from school a while ago I had to maneuver around huge puddles of standing water. The heater is cranked up, none of the dogs want to set foot outside to do their business and, all in all, it's a great day to be inside. And make some

Really Good Icky Weather Food

What is it with me? All roads seemingly lead to food lately.

#1. Chili.
Coincidentally, this is what is simmering on my stove at this exact moment. When I asked the kids this morning if anything in particular sounded good for dinner, this was the first thing I heard. Later, I braved the downpour to make a grocery run to pick up a few things I needed.

As I was standing in front of the canned tomatoes, a complete stranger (with his arms full of canned beans) said to me Is this chili weather or what? I said Funny you should mention that. In the checkout aisle the woman ringing me up said Chili, huh? That's what I'm making, too. Clearly, something is in the air. And it's spicy.

#2. Fresh baked bread.
Along with the chili we're going to have my trusty standby cuban bread that the whole family loves. For those of you not familiar with cuban bread, this is a really interesting recipe. It's a yeast bread, but it's finished in about an hour and fifteen minutes start to finish. Only about five minutes of that is actually hands on time. It rises just once and then gets put into a cold oven to keep rising while it bakes.This picture is wrong, as the loaves are round and have poppy seeds on them, but you get the idea.

I've never had a bread machine, although I know lots of people who adore theirs. Back in the day, I used to make a fair amount of bread from scratch, because nothing gets out aggression better than beating the hell out of bread dough. And my whole family loves bread. But as all the other time consuming recipes went away, this one stayed. Very easy, very good, gone in no time.

#3. Lasagna. Because nothing says comfort on a blustery night like pasta. Nothing says comfort like pasta period, but it's especially soothing when the elements are raging. I load mine with veggies, which my children are too brainwashed to even complain about, so it's pretty healthy, too.

Stringy cheese. Ummm. Creamy cheese. Ummm. Cheese. I like cheese. Of course, I mess with the comfort value by loading it with red pepper flakes, but what can I say? It keeps the chill away.

I'm having somewhat of a stress eating week. For all the gory details, click here, but I warn you, it isn't pretty and I'd avoid it if it were me. So food is on my mind as I sit in my warm, dry house not wanting to go pick Gumby up from Theater class. But when I walk in the door to the smell of chili and fresh bread it'll all be okay.

What foods keep the wolf at bay in your house?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

roll the dice

It's Bunco night, it's Bunco night. (Insert my convulsively maligned happy dance here). And it's not at my house, so all I have to do is shove my flattened boobs into a shirt and show up. Whoo hoo!

For all of the innocents out there who are unfamiliar with Bunco, here's the scoop. If you don't feel like clicking on the nice blue type, I'll give you a down and dirty lowdown. Bunco is a game invented by women who were desperate to have an organized reason to get out of the house. There are twelve of us in our group (which is the normal number). Every member hosts at her house once a year, which means that for the other eleven you just show up like a hungry and thirsty slug. There are massive amounts of food and equally impressive amounts of spirits. You have the chance to win money or take home a loser prize that is often worth more than the money. It's a fun, relaxing, non-judgmental way to spend a night with a bunch of women who all know each other far too well for their own good.

The hard part of Bunco is when it's your turn to put it together. As a matter of fact, tonight is my friend Laurie's night to host and she has the slightly dazed edge in her voice to prove it. And her husband's a professional chef. I don't know why this is, because these are some of my best friends in the world, but we all stress out when it's our turn. Home projects get put on fast track, fabulous culinary spreads appear and all of our abodes end up looking a hell of a lot better than they normally do. (Except for our one Martha Stewart clone, who we suspect lives like this all the time. If I didn't love her so much I'd arrange a concrete shoes accident for her. She's skinny, too. And has kids who do every chore on their list without complaint. Hmmm...may need to rethink that accident).

I used to make myself nuts over this. And if you haven't figured it out by now, when I go nuts I like to take others with me. My own achilles heel is my food. I like to cook and I like it when people say nice things about my cooking. In past years I have come up with amazing spreads that people raved about. Well, I hear they raved. I was in the kitchen at the time putting together California Rolls. Or double dark chocolate truffles. Or something else equally time consuming. (BBQ chicken pizza on a homemade crust, anyone?) My house was always pristine and I didn't care how many days after Bunco the FG went without talking to me because I had been such a biatch leading up to it. It was Bunco Night! The one night of the year where we had to fake living a civilized life in a civilized house.

That all came to a screeching halt a few years back. I was in nursing school. I don't even remember what I made to eat, to prove my point that it wasn't terribly memorable. Something with cream cheese is all that comes to mind. (Remember this, it's important later). In my mad rush, I somehow overlooked vacuuming the big Oriental rug in the living room that was covered with dog hair clumps.They clung to the edges of the rug, showing off their density against the hard wood floor. Then, while I was doing the last minute rush things before people got there, Surfer Dude ran across the kitchen floor carrying a package of very soft cream cheese. He lost his balance and somehow ended up with cream cheese on both of his hands. But that's okay, because he managed to stop his flight across the dining area by grabbing onto the sliding glass door out to the deck, leaving a cream cheese trail from one end of the door to the other. He was worried that I was going to be mad, so he tried as hard as he could to wipe it off with his cream cheese hands. Now the streak was a big finger painting looking swirl.

I mentally said a lot of really bad words, sent him off to find his father in the family room downstairs and headed for the windex. But then the front door bell rang and I completely forgot about it. For the rest of the night. Even though you could not possibly miss it if you were anywhere near the area, I just blocked it out.

It was a very fun night anyway. And as I stood at my front door hours later waving goodbye to people, I couldn't help noticing that they all had dog hair butts from sitting on my floor. My filthy floor that I had totally forgotten to vacuum. And at that exact moment, my brain decided to unblock the cream cheese and I saw it in all it's dry, white, crusty glory all over my door. Martha Stewart is safe from me. Forever.

The next day I got calls saying how nice the evening was,which leads me to believe two things. One, that it really doesn't matter how bad your house looks with friends and Two, that these women are really desperate for a night out.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

boobs "r" us

Ah, yes. The long awaited day is finally here. It's Mammogram time. And I'm so excited that I can barely see straight.


I don't really mind the flat iron action. I don't even really find it to be particularly painful. Uncomfortable, yes. But it's fast and without fail the people performing them are soothing and respectful and no one has laughed at my boobs yet. Not that I've caught, anyway. There are surely mammogram nazis out there, but I've been lucky enough to avoid them so far. Hopefully, my streak will extend through this one.

What I mind is the fear factor. Surely I've said this a (thousand) times before, but I have an obnoxiously loud hypochondriac living in my head and sharing space with a worrywart. It's an ugly combination. Add in my healthy dread of "routine tests" and it's an all-around fun fest.

My mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. My sister in law and another good friend both had scares. The fact that I work in medicine doesn't spare me the fear - in some ways I think it allows me to psych myself out more. "Why is she looking at me that way? Oh my god, there's something bad there." vs. "Why isn't she even looking at me? Oh my god, there's something bad there." I can even work up a good argument for "Why is she smiling at me so nicely? Oh my god, she feels sorry for me because there's something bad there."

You see my dilemma?

But I'm going anyway. I will be mammogrammed. Even though I'm perfectly content to live in the state of Denial, I know it's a bad state to be from. I will suck it up and wait it out for my results and I will not whine or gnash my teeth.

Hey, I know what I'll do to take my mind off of it. I'll catch up on all my blogs that I have been sadly neglecting for the last three days. Between work and kids on the computer, I've been a slacker. But not a deliberate slacker. More like an enforced one. So protect your comments boxes because here I come.

Consider yourselves warned. And password protect while you still can.

Monday, October 15, 2007

desperately seeking churros

Today is Multi-Cultural Day at our elementary school, and the kids have been encouraged to bring desserts that reflect their heritage. As you might imagine, Surfer Dude is all fired up about this, planning on making some spectacular dessert to wow his classmates and cement his reputation as Iron Chef 2020.

There was a small glitch in this, however, in that he forgot to tell me about it. So Sunday at 5 pm when I rolled in the door from a four hour shift I hadn't wanted to work, (timed perfectly to wipe out the entire day with one short shift), he met me at the door and told me we needed to make crepes for school.I said What? He said Crepes, and then told me the whole story. I said But we don't have any French blood. And he said We can make something from any country we like, it doesn't have to be a country we're from. (Being a chef in the making, he considers French cuisine to be the top of the tier, so to speak, so it figures that he'd pick crepes). I looked at the clock and started totting up everything else I still had to do (grocery shopping, dinner, bake a cake for my friend Stacey's 50th birthday Monday, pick up Sasquatch downtown and get ready to be at work at 7 am) and thought crepes? I haven't made crepes since French class in Montessori school when I was twelve. And even then I don't remember them as being what you'd call successful.

I tried an end run and asked if he'd consider other desserts. I said that the crepes would be cold and probably wouldn't taste so hot by the afternoon when the dessert buffet would be spread out. He wasn't swayed. I said Well, if you're okay with people thinking you make soggy crepes it's okay with me. That hit him in his little culinary heart all right. He asked if I had any other ideas. I said Wouldn't it be nice to make something that actually does reflect your heritage? And before I could say Boo, he practically shouted Baklava! Let's make Baklava!

Now for those of you who have never made baklava (and this absolutely includes me), it's an ungodly time consuming process that involves lots of skill and practice to pull off. I remember being a little kid and watching all my female relatives come over to spend the day gossiping and trash talking and making tray after tray of baklava to put in the freezer. (I also have a clear memory of eating most of a huge tray myself once when no one was looking and puking for days as a result, with my aunt's shrill rebukes raining down on my head while I heaved). All of this flashed through my head and in a reflex move I said my word of the week. NO. Next idea?

But then I had a brainstorm. The FG's grandmother was full-blooded Hispanic and my kids love churros. So I said How about churros? He wrinkled up his nose and said Only if we make them from scratch. I'm thinking Rub a lamp, kid, but I said How about if we buy the frozen ones, but after we cook them you can toss them in some powdered sugar and cinnamon as your personal touch? To my amazement, he went for it. Patting myself on the back for my sneaky/lazy mom ingenuity, we walked off to the store.

They had no churros. Nada. So we came home, got in the car and drove to the other grocery store where I knew for a fact they had frozen churros. Strike two. I had no idea what was going on, but obviously there was some churro fest in town that we hadn't been invited to. My blood pressure was heading north. So, standing in the frozen foods aisle, we desperately brainstormed a Plan B. I'm thinking buy a pack of Twinkies at this point and he's wondering how long it takes to make creme brulee and where he can find a blowtorch. A small divergence of goals, I do believe.

We finally decided on a pie. Why pie? Couldn't tell you. We headed back into the aisles to buy ingredients (does Anthony Bourdain serve frozen pie? asked SD huffily) and then all of a sudden he stopped in his tracks at a dessert display that had, of all things, french pastries in neat little packages. With big, round eyes he took in the puff pastry and whipped cream filling. It was love at first sight. He didn' t even notice his mother doing her happy dance right by the spaghetti sauce because she wasn't going to have to make a pie. We bought three packages with different fillings and he's perfectly content. (I was dying to say Does Anthony Bourdain serve already made french pastries? but I know when I'm well off. One word out of me and I'd be up to my elbows in puff pastry until midnight).

So tomorrow he'll head off to Multi-Cultural day with a dessert that celebrates other people's heritage, but not his own. And you know what? I'm totally okay with that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

step away from the keyboard

Amen, sister.

Thank you all for listening to me yesterday. I know better than to blog after work as it always seems like I'm about to jump off a cliff. And really, I'm not. Really, I'm a pretty darn happy Gemini most of the time. But I veered from my ritual last night. Normally I come home from work, figuratively take the phone off the hook, hug my family and take a deep breath. Or two. But last night two of my kids were out and so was my husband. Surfer Dude fell asleep watching TV, so guess what I did? I took my day out on the keyboard. (And all of you). I need some sort of a blogging 12 step where they take away your internet access until you're de-stressed.

And thanks for all the comments too. You're all right, of course. (Except willowtree, who needs to brush up on his Queen lyrics). It's wonderful to have a job you're passionate about. It's great to have balance in your life between work and home, and I really think that normally I do. I am absolutely not a workaholic. I go the opposite. I live for days off. The problem right now is that I've been picking up a lot of extra shifts because we're so short staffed. I know what my psyche can handle and what it can't and right now I'm tipping into too many hours. I've got to fix that. I think the word I'm looking for is NO. (Now having said that, I'm going in the next two days to cover open shifts. Let's practice...NO. NO. All together now). NO. It has quite a nice ring to it, don't you think? All firm and forceful.

We've finally gotten the computer room downstairs painted and it feels fabulous. I'm covered in paint, but that's okay. It's a good color on me. The shade is called something very la di da, but in my head I call it Granny Smith Green. Very fresh and springy. I even got the FG to take the monstrosity desk out to the garage, so tomorrow when I put the furniture back in I can rearrange and make it feel like a completely new room. That only leaves one room to paint downstairs before they're all done. Jeez, and it's only taken sixteen months.

Ever forward...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

the twins

Just like the only child that I am, I also channel somewhat of a split personality. Gemini, you know. Blame astrology if you must, but there really are two of me. The first is the one you all see on a daily basis, with all my faults, sarcasm and big mouthed ruminations. The second is the one that appears after a twelve hour shift at work. It really is almost like they're two different people. They probably are. And you know what? There's not a damned thing I can do about it.

I work with the most amazing people you can imagine. Supportive, teaching, caring and funnier than I could ever convey. There is not a minute I spend at work where I don't feel that my back is absolutely covered by my co-workers. I trust them implicitly. I sincerely hope they trust me too. Hospital lore says that the ER has the wickedest sense of humor in the building. The lore is spot on. If you can't laugh you won't survive. Period. What I'm trying to say is that I'm in a really good place. I don't want to be anywhere else. But...the ER is the ER, and there will always be risks to those who make it their career. Emotional risks. Physical risks. Life risks.

The problem is that when I am kind of battered by work, the logical assumption is that once I get a little rest and decompression time all will be well again. And to some degree that's true. My big question for myself is this - knowing that my job sucks me dry why do I a) keep going back and b) love it so much? Is this some screwy character flaw that I need to address? Or have I become so entrenched as an "adrenaline junkie" that I need it to feel like I'm contributing?

For several years I've had a little theme song for my working self. And, even knowing how dead on accurate it is, I have to wonder...could I do something else with my life and pay a smaller emotional price?

Friday, October 12, 2007

the fight club

Sometimes I feel at a real disadvantage being an only child. It seems like there's this whole area of family dynamics that I just don't get. I've never had to fight it out with a sibling for a parent's attention and have rarely had anyone instinctively know my weak spots and flat out go for them. I haven't had to worry about my friends liking my sister better than me or my brother telling some boy that I had a thing for him. I'm totally unprepared for the sibling equation.

Once, years ago, when my kids were arguing and saying hateful, hurtful things to each other, I said (in an anguished voice) to the FG, "Can't they just be nice and treat each other like brothers?" At which point he gave me an incredulous look and said, "They are." He's the oldest of three (four with his step-sister) and the only boy. His sisters tell stories to this day that curl my hair (more than usual), and he has his tales to tell as well. They all think I'm weird for the way I act and I think they treat each other really badly a lot of the time.

I never had to talk over a sibling to make myself heard.

I never had to eat my first helping of dinner really fast so I could beat someone else to seconds.

I lived my entire life never having to hide ice cream in the back of the freezer to keep anyone from finding it.

I never ratted someone out for the sheer hell of it.

And I certainly never tormented someone when they were down just because I was in the mood.

Am I an only child, or what?

(Strictly speaking, I guess I'm technically not an only child, as I have four half brothers and sisters in Michigan from my dad's second marriage. But...I'm ten years older than the oldest one, I only saw them in the summer and it's really complicated. And sad. And a long, long post for one of these days).

Thursday after school Gumby was beat. I'd had to go and give him some allergy medication after lunch, he had a headache and he had a problem. The book report he'd known about for weeks was due first thing Friday and while he was done with the book, he'd been procrastinating about the report. He had a pile of other homework as well and he was mad because I had walked to get them and he wanted to drive home. I explained that my psychic powers were in the shop this week and asked why it is that no matter which way I pick them up - walking or driving - they always think I should have gone the other route.

He was upset enough that he was crying, and this upset me because it's really out of character. I was trying to help him come up with a plan to finish everything when Surfer Dude just decided to pick a fight for the sheer thrill value. Gumby, of course, being on edge anyway, took the bait and before I knew it they were going at it on the sidewalk. Verbally, not physically, but we were heading in that direction fast.

And they fought for the rest of the day. I explained to SD that Gumby was really stressed and maybe he should cut him some slack. So he did. And then Gumby picked a fight. Then I explained to Gumby that SD was trying to be nice and he should lighten up on him a little. So he did. And then SD picked a fight. And so on and so on until SD fell asleep and Gumby plodded on with his homework.

I simply do not get it. What am I missing here ?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Thursday Three

To Celebrate the big 200, the Thursday Three today...

Isn't A List!!

Instead, it's Q&A time in RC Ville. Thank you to everyone for the wide range of questions. (Who am I kidding? Thank you for playing along and fostering the illusion that any aspect of my life is exciting in the least). You've given me lots of interesting ideas for future posts. Very interesting ideas...

This was kind of hard to narrow down, because I really wanted to answer everything. That's the kind of person I am, you know. Always eager to please, bends over backward to not hurt feelings, willing to sit up until midnight trying to decide between paper and plastic. But then I tried to pick three and couldn't. So, with a few exceptions, I am going to cover them all. Briefly. (That will be a first for me).

What's your favorite thing about liberal collegeville?

I love the college atmosphere, the weather and the liberal bent.

What do you miss about California, besides the weather?
My family and friends, the beach, Trader Joe's, the beach,Ikea, the beach, fish tacos, the beach, really fabulous mexican food, the beach. Oh, yeah, I forgot the beach.

How did you meet the Film Geek?
I transferred into the college that he was attending. He was in the same year as me, but was one of the more experienced video production students. Depending on who you want to believe, I either needed some help with the video I was directing or someone thought I needed help and wanted to show me how it was done. Then I volunteered for a shoot he was doing because I thought he was pretty cute. He handed me a really heavy camera kit(or lighting, I can't remember exactly) and asked me to carry it up the hill we called Cardiac Hill, because it was like 4,000 steps at a 90 degree angle. He was so intent on what he was doing that he never even noticed I was on crutches (from a bad Jane Fonda moment) and could barely walk. And the precedent was set...

What three things could you absolutely not live without, food, water, shelter excluded?

1) family and friends, 2) my computer and 3) my dogs (dang! is that four?)

where's my pif gift?

made me laugh out loud, ciara. (Hmm...maybe she really wants to know).

I you had to choose, wine or chocolate for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Probably the most unfair question of the bunch. I would go But it would suck.

Paper or plastic?

Plastic. (We are talking grocery bags and not toilet paper, aren't we?)

Ice cream in a cone or dish?

In a dish, preferably with hot fudge on it.

what do you look like?

I'm tall (5'10"), curly streaky brown hair that I've just cut to shoulder length, brown eyes and I bite my nails.

what did you do before blogging?

Spent way too much money on eBay.

How do you find the time to write 200 blogs?

Well, I write fast. I have a journalism degree that I've never used. I get an idea in my head and let it fester all day. Then I sit at the computer and pound it out. It's usually pretty quick

Do you put toothpaste on the toothbrush first and then wet it/ wet the brush first or not wet it at all?

Wet it first. Duh. How else would the toothpaste stick?

Do you put shampoo into your hand first or straight onto your head.

This is a strange thing to think about. Shampoo in hand, conditioner straight on head.

Have you experienced the spirit world?

Not a bit. I'd like to.

Are you dressing up for Halloween?

I'm thinking of dressing up as a 1950's housewife for the school parties.

Do you remember your dreams?

Little bits and pieces, but not entire dreams. But I sleep like I'm dead, I sleep so hard.

As an ER nurse, what's the weirdest thing you've seen removed from someone's body?

A man who came in stark naked and wet with a broomstick so far up his rectum that they had to crack his chest to remove it. Evidently he was sweeping in the shower and slipped. Well, that's what he said.

What will you do to celebrate reaching your target weight?

Eat an entire pumpkin cheesecake by myself.

If you could have a one night stand with anyone, who would it be and where?

Here's where I lose all you Brits. Hugh Grant. Anywhere.

HOW do you find the time to do all this blogging?

I only work part-time, my kids are in school and my husband is gone a lot. And I'm pretty efficient with things. I can whip through chores and errands pretty quick.

Do you feel guilty about it?

No, because it doesn't take any time away from anyone in my family. I mostly do it when they're not here.

Do you have a cleaning lady/cook/childminder/driver/mom living next door?

In my dreams. I might even trade Hugh for that.

How would your best friend describe you?

I don't know. How about it, friends? my two cents (aka Mrs. Weasley), pursegirl, altaglow, want to answer this one?

What was it that first attracted you to your husband?

He was very funny, confident and smart. I like smart. And cute, too.

Have you ever considered writing a book, your writing is soooo good?

I'd write a book in a second. Problem is, no one would read it! (and a big mwah! by the way!)

What kind of car will your next car be? (Assuming the kids would never set foot in it).

I love Volvos. A nice sleek fast Volvo. (How many oxymorons in that sentence?)

And there we are. Q&A concluded. Except...a couple of them I didn't answer and I'll tell you why. Some subjects (Russia and the whole celeb thing) are way too long winded to cover here and I do plan on going into way more detail in future posts. And the idea from laurie about a defining childhood moment intrigued me enough that I want to write more about that too.

Thanks for sticking around - not just for this post, but for 200 of them. You guys deserve some sort of award for that!