Thursday, May 31, 2012

Health Update-Winning!

I went to Dr. Lyme the other day.

He was happy to hear that my energy seems to be returning, and he didn't increase my antibiotics for once, which means my tummy will be happy a little while longer.

We went over all my symptoms:

Pain: not quite as bad as usual, not sure if it's a turn for the better, or my perception.  Jury's still out.

Supplements: Keep on keepin' on.  Everything seems to be working nicely.

Energy: The past two months have been better, and we both feel a corner is being turned.  This was the best realization of the day. :::fist pump, happy dance, Whhoooo hoooo!:::

Muscle twitching: Seems to be dissipating, albeit slowly.  Still, good sign.

Sleep: Still sleeping fine, but still taking Ambien.  Dr. Lyme said, way back when, he'd rather have me actually sleep, and worry about an addiction to Ambien later.  Without sleep, I can't get well. So, Ambien it is.  Turns out, I'm a total Ambien junkie, can't sleep without it.  Found this out last night.  Tossed and turned the entire night. Slept for a total of 45 minutes, where I had a convoluted dream about fishing boats. and Tom Cruise, a ne'er-do-well fisherman who won't wear shirts. And that was the sanest part of the dream. So today, I have to wander around zombie-fied, unable to sleep but eyes feeling like they are full of sand.

Coming up next: Friday, I'm being tested for heavy metals.  The way they do this is run a treatment IV for a while, then I pee in a container for 6 hours.  (Not 6 hours continuously. Just every time I pee in a 6 hour period, I have to do so in a collection cup. Sorry, that was confusing.) Then, they test the pee to see if there is an excess of heavy metals. If so, it means I will need to detox, which is supposed to help me get better.  Basically what I am saying is, don't show up Friday looking in the fridge for a cool beverage.

Oh, and in unrelated news, I missed going to see The Bloggess on her book tour.  But my friend WilyGuy went, and got a bunch of goodies signed. He then had a contest, and I won a signed Copernicus Puppet!  I will be stalking the FeMail Man ala Bart Simpson until it arrives. 

(this is where a YouTube clip of Bart Simpson stalking the FeMail Man would be, if I could track it down. Use your imagination.)

And this is all proof that a tired Aimee is not a funny Aimee.  True story.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

In Which My Daughter Turns Into Daffy Duck

Faster than you can say, "Thufferin' Thuccotash", Princess has decided to hate me.

And for good reason.

A week ago, I took her to the Orthodontist to get fitted for a palate spreader.

A palate spreader, for women, is the equivalent of a speculum, permanently installed in the upper mouth, in order to flair out her palate to make room for the mess in her mouth we call teeth. If you are a man, think, "bamboo skewers inserted into the tip of your penis, to make room for a kidney stone". There is not enough room, and shit's coming in like Stonehenge, but without the happy tourists.


She is not a fan of the dentist, having inherited both my and her dad's dental issues.  She has had more work done than Joan Rivers.  Consequently, she has a bit of anxiety.  So they gave us Flintstones Chewable Valium, to make things go smoothly. 

Instead of selling them to high school students, I gave her one.  She melted.  Which helped, because they had to put a bunch of Silly Putty in her mouth in order to create a mold.

They took a bunch of "before" pictures.  Likely to laugh at in the break room.  Or to put on a billboard as a warning to people with bad teeth to not reproduce.

She ended the day fairly pissy.  But nothing a trip to Baskin Robbins and Target couldn't cure.  I am NOT a stranger to bribes extrinsic rewards.

She also had a list of foods she had one week to gorge on, including popcorn, corn on the cob, jerky, and chewy candy: four of her favorite food groups.  And by looking at her, you can tell she certainly can't stand to miss too many meals. Unlike her mother.

It was a long week full of popcorn and anxiety.  Friday came quickly though, and when I picked her up from school, one of her teachers told me her tics* were in full effect and the appointment was all she talked about.

*She has some transient tics that get worse when she is excited or stressed.  One is where she stretches out her upper lip. Another, she forces air out her nose quickly, almost like a snort.  The third most common one is the one where she makes a slight gulping sound. 

She could barely get a word in edgewise, what with all the shit she had going on with her face.  If I didn't know why it was happening, I would have likely found it humorous. But I'm not THAT mean. At least to her face.

On the way to the appointment, she popped her kiddy roofie, and by the time we got seated she had melted again.  Things were looking good. Of course, every time she said something weird or licked someone, I had to explain she took "a little something to take the edge off".  I'm sure I made some "list".  Put it in my permanent files, assholes.

Princess, melted:

I coulda got $10 a hit for this shit

Then the fun began.  First, they fitted the spreader.  With tools that look like medieval torture devices. I had to stop them to explain each one, so she wouldn't freak.  Then she would forget, and say something like, "My mom has huge boobies" or, "My brother is a jerk" or, "my mom is taking me to Target after this to get some squinkies.....or some Littlest Pet Shop.....or a new Barbie....or maybe all of them......I like ice cream.  I want chocolate.  Or maybe cookie dough.  Oh, no.  I can't chew.  That's right....."

It took a while.  They finally got ready to cement the spreader in.  She had to open wide, let them fit it, let them jam it further with tools, then let it dry.  All while her spit pooled in the back of her throat.

After several silent tears and a dry heave, we were done.

Almost done.  Because then they had to teach me how to "adjust" it.  3 times per week.  And by "adjust" they meant, lay her down, shine a flashlight in her mouth, make her open wider than humanly possible, all while I stick a tool in the teeny hole in the spreader, and crank it one full turn, in order to slowly flare her jaw outward to make room for her teeth to drop down.

Then she spoke.  I could hardly understand her, so much spit was coming out.  She couldn't form "s"s or "l"s.  Daffy Duck is the closest comparison.  No artistic embellishments, either.

I couldn't spend my money fast enough to make up for my torture.

Once home, she spent the night letting her meds wear off, until she was nearly hysterical with jaw pain.  I gave her some Tylenol, and she decided to go to bed early, to get away from the pain.

Once my heart stopped feeling like it would explode, I convinced her to eat some ice cream.

She snuggled me all night.

Today, she's still in pain, and has to use a water pic after each snack just to get the food out from under the appliance.  Now I have to go get more children's Tylenol, before the last dose wears off.

Sometimes, parenting really sucks.  Hard.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Personal Growth or, Dad, This One's About Sex-Sorry.

Different things in life teach us different lessons-there could be a life lesson in just about anything.  For instance, you can learn a lot about yourself during a week of being sick.  I did.

I learned how to be.

Just, to be.  Sit, gaze out into the yard, do nothing.  It sounds small, but it was significant for a recovering control freak like me.

I sat.  And sat and sat and sat.  It was not painful.

Painful was the coughing.  You know the kind of cough where you retch at the end, screaming obscenities at the world?  Where you have a barf bowl handy at all times?  Where you consume so much lemon water each and every time you cough, or almost cough, that your pee is clear, and you are getting cardio going back and forth to the fridge for more lemon water, or the bathroom to expel it?

Yep.  That was me. 

I also learned that Ambien is an aphrodesiac.  As is Nyquil.

Many of you know that I used to be wary of drug-pharmaceuticals were an issue for me.  I spent many of my formative years hanging with hippies, so I was always more likely to do lines of echinacea, than amoxicillin.  All that changed with Lyme Disease.  Now, I'm a pill popping fiend.

I even took cough syrup last week like clockwork.  All week, every 2 hours.  Just so my throat could heal, so I could cough.  And at night? Sky King turned me on to Nyquil-the nighttime-sniffling-sneezing-torturingyourhusband-tossing-turning-being-miserable medicine.  (Isn't that the commercial?)

Basically, I was attempting to knock myself out so bad, I would be almost Michael-Jackson-Propofol catatonic.  I think my last words were: make sure I keep breathing.

So, gulp would go the Nyquil (followed by lots of water because Nyquil tastes like liquefied corpses), along with my usual pile 'o pills.  Including Ambien.

Ambien makes me not remember things that happen roughly 20 minutes after consumption.  I go upstairs, take my meds, go through my nighttime routine.  Pretty soon, I hit the hay, and maybe surf the TV for about 3.7 minutes, until sleep hits me over the head with a cartoon mallet.  It's heavenly. But sometimes I have crazy conversations with Sky King.  In fact, I have told him, "No talking to me once I go upstairs" because he would mock me if I said something funny.  Which I tend to do.  Apparently, I needed to set broader parameters.  Like, "No taking advantage of your incapacitated wife in a sexual way."

I have learned I have a predisposition to respond favorably to offers of lovin' when hopped up on Ambien.  And the results tend to be......ahem......exceptional. (sorry, Dad.  The TITLE even said not to read this. And Mom, I know you can take it.)

Nyquil + Ambien?   Super Duper Mega Favorable.  As in, wake-up-without-panties-which-is-the-only-indication-I-put-out-and-have-to-piece-the-night-together-over-coffee Favorable.  Sky King?  Fan.  BIG FAN.

:::bow chicka wow wow:::

Once I got better though, he was not able to take advantage of an invalid.  So sad for him.

But last night?  I got into bed, snuggled in.  We chatted briefly, while our breaths slowed.  Then, I jumped up, turned on the light, popped my pills.

Sky King took notice.  Like a seedy college guy who sees a cute young thing at the bar get a roofie slipped to her, he knew his moment was near.

Him: Oooh.  Ambien sex.  Yessssss.
Me: No.
Him: C'mon.  Ambien sex is awesome.  You are extra frisky.
Me: No Ambien sex for you.  Don't touch me. I'm tired.
Him: I hear you, but it sounds like, "give me 15 minutes to get sleepy then you can have your way with me."
Me: That is NOT what I said.
Him.  Uh huuuuuuhh.  I'm sure of it. And you aren't wearing pants.

Me: Don't touch me.  I'm tired.

Him: See you in 15 minutes.

:::tic, toc, tic, toc, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz::::

I woke up without panties again.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Kids Can't Go To College, or, I Have a $30/day Pill Habit

Is "Junkie" with a "Y", or "IE"?

Shit just got real.

Why do people insist on denying meds to other people? Especially when those meds keep certain people from choking other people?

Here's a tip to pharmacy workers everywhere:
If the prescription is for antidepressants?  Fucking FILL IT. 

No joke.

Friday, I called in my refill.  I figured, "because I am awesome, I will give them til Sunday to fill it."  So I went by last night, and those bastards?  Closed.  They close at 6 on Sundays.  Fuck.

So I went home, ransacked my pill cabinet.  (Yes, CABINET.) Nothing. Instead, I had a glass-ish of wine.

I woke up, intent on hitting them first thing.  I was there at 8:30, right after the pharmacy opening,  after doing the "tuck and roll" with the kids at the drop-off loop. The pharmacy didn't have it ready. something about "prior authorization".

All I knew is, I had another refill, at least.  Gimme my shit. 

So I called the doc, stressed the importance of NOT going through withdrawals. The person on the other end of the phone did NOT sound concerned.  Fuck.  Again. Do you even know how hard it is to stress importance, while NOT swearing at people that aren't taking you seriously?

So I left CVS after an hour, thinking, "this is going to be a GREAT day.  My acupuncturist will have his work cut out for him today".

On the way home from work, I called Costco, to tell them I was on the way for 3 of my scrips.  Then I called CVS, purveyor of all that is anti-depressant, and said, "where's my shit?".

The dude was concerned that the cost was $174ish, with my new insurance.  I said, "Well, I'm not supposed to let it get out of my system, and it's been since Saturday, so I guess I will pick it up, and pay $174ish."  He was alarmed, but finally understood.

After Costco made me get in line 3 times (at the cost of $50 in snacks per line-standing), I finally left, and headed to CVS.

Meanwhile, the doctor's office had called. 

Them: We got your message about a refill?
Me: Actually, it was 3 messages.
Them: Oh.  how are you today?
Me: Seriously?  I need my pills. I have been waiting all day for someone to call.  I had my last dose Saturday.  It's not JUST that I'm crazy.  it helps with my pain.  WHEN I take it. 
Them: Well, the insurance doesn't want to approve 30 mg, two pills a day, for a total of 60 mg a day.  They want you to take 60 mg in one pill.  Will that work?
Me: Are you kidding?  Math is the issue?  How is that not the same?


 Fine. Whatever.
Them:  Okay.  Well, I will talk to the doctor, and let you know if there is a problem.
Me: How 'bout, you call me either way? So I know if I can get my meds I'm two days late for?
Them: .........okay........
Me: Thanks!!!!  ::teeth gritted, lips pursed:::

By the time my day was done, I had spent over $250 on 4 different medications.  And spent 3 hours doing so. So college for the kids?  Not. Add this to the supplement bills, and I have an expensive habit.

My biggest accomplishment?  No one was stabbed. This time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Keeping Grandma Alive

Every time I think about my Grandmother, Grandma Peggy, I can smell their apartment.

They lived high on a hill overlooking a freeway, and I remember many weekends spending the night, while my parents were likely enjoying a gleeful period of childless bliss.  In fact, one of those weekends is probably why I have a younger brother.  Oh, irony.

Anyway-their apartment had a smell, much like most people's homes have a smell.  Not unpleasant,  just distinct. Think Cashmere Bouquet soap (travel sized, likely stolen from a hotel or bought for a nickel at a yard sale), bottled hair dye and cream of wheat, mixed with a hint of chain-smoked Salems.

Everything about their place is filled with memories.  I have often wanted to go back, knock on the door.  But it wouldn't be the same.  The black lacquer Chinese-inspired furniture would not be there. The divan (fancy Bostonian Grandparent word for couch) would have been removed, an overstuffed synthetic monstrosity in its place. The rows of discarded prescription bottles filled with spare cigarettes and pink fake sugar packets would also be gone. White milk-glass McDonald's coffee mugs and juice glasses stolen from Harrah's? Forgotten.

Grandma was an obstinate woman.  I loved her dearly, but she could be mean as hell.  (I am told I take after her.) As life went on, people would sometimes do or say things to annoy her, just to see her outrageous reaction.  She would get riled like a cat petted the wrong way, spitting and hissing, fur all amiss, bright orange lipstick looking for an unguarded cheek.

She had a hell of a mouth on her, too.  (Shit's GENETIC, I tell ya)  My cousin with special needs was sure his name was Dammit Danny for his first 5 years of life. I can still hear her, "C'meeeah, Goddammit" in her East Coast accent.  She would grab your upper arm-HARD-and pull you towards her for a kiss. She was surprisingly strong for a woman in her 70s that had been losing a battle with debilitating arthritis most of her adult life.all wrapped in a sea of polyester pantsuit.

I once was playing cards with her over a TV tray meticulously covered in wood-grain Contact Paper.  Rummy.  I was probably winning, which rubbed grandma the wrong way, I'm sure. I was short, being about 7 or so, swinging my legs back and forth, back and forth, under the table, as kids do.  Because they are full of energy, and are dumped at their Grandparents' homes.  She warned me not to kick her in the leg-it's like she was psychic.  I KNEW I wouldn't kick her--my sweet little-girl voices promised, "I know.".  But my legs had minds of their own, and they continued to tempt fate.  Soon, she winced.  Then, she made me hold still while she kicked me back. I was aghast.

I think she wrote that part in the Bible about "an eye for an eye". Or maybe she was the editor.

Either way, she didn't go easy on me because I was a little kid. 

I also remember when I told her about a kid at Kindergarten that was mean to me.   I told her how mean he was, pulling my hair and pushing me.  She told me, "Pull HIS hair, push HIM".  I told her my teacher said two wrongs didn't make a right.  She said, "that's a bunch of shit, she's wrong.  Smack the shit outta him." My wide eyes said "no", but my sense of justice said "yes".

The memories in that apartment are fresh in my mind. The smell of painting the cement stairs with a paintbrush and pail filled with water on hot summer days. The memories of her sneaking me M'nMs before Grandpa made dinner. The memories of me, rifling through the closet in the hall, looking for a puzzle I hadn't done 475 times, a book I couldn't remember reading, a coloring book with a blank page. I would dig and dig through that closet through the Color-forms, the Prang crayons, the Hi-Ho Cherry-o game pieces.  All in the dark.  Then, Grandma would come into the hallway and with a flick of the light switch she would say, "Look what Edison invented!"

I had forgotten this until I was reading The Oatmeal's rant about Edison vs. Tesla.

I read it aloud to Sky King, who agreed wholeheartedly with The Oatmeal.  Sky King is a big math/science/shit-I-don't-understand geek. I told him about the T-shirt.  He said, "I'd totally wear that".

So that was me the other day, click-clacking through the computer, ordering an XL for Father's Day.  And I thought about my Grandmother, and all my wonderful Grandma memories.  And I felt a little rebellious ordering the shirt.  I snickered, pressed "confirm".

Every time he wears it, I will smell the acrid smell of Salems.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Of Robitussin and Mad Men

I tempted fate last week.  Someone was in my office and they coughed their dreaded Ebola cough and they backed up, saying they didn't want me to become any sicker than I already was.  I joked that I was on so many meds, I could lick a hooker.

Turns out, I CAN get sick.  Just not with anything massive amounts of Azithromyicin or Amoxicillin cures. Apparently, that still leaves quite a few germs.

It started Friday, with a massive sore throat, and some sinus issues.  I assumed the yellow pollen sheen on the car windshield was to blame, and went through the day, popping allergy pills.

By 9 pm on the day of my Big Event at work, I was done. DONE done.  As in, holy-shit-bring-the-car-to-me-and-I-may-need-a-hand-never-mind-that-a-forklift done. I knew Saturday would be Sofa City, so I braced for the worst.

I managed to hack, sputter, and cough my way through Saturday, and Sunday (Mother's Day).  Still, no relief. By Monday, I was officially on the injured-reserve list.

Tuesday, I realized the Lyme symptoms were at their worst, and accepted that I was herxing on top of whatever virus was using my immune system as a flophouse.   Or my body was just plain rebelling against my desire to be old-me instead of new-and-improved-do-nothing me.  I was 2/3 of the way through a bottle of cough suppressant (New! Non-Drowsy Formula, Same Toilet Bowl Taste!) and every time I coughed I screamed obscenities. But if you add in the glorious dizziness about 1/2 hour into a swig, things could not be brighter.  Except that I was running into stair banisters and doorways, not unlike high school but without the perky boobs.

To top it off, every time I would cough, Monkey Boy give me the I'm-worried-about-my-mom look.  So I keep reassuring him it's just a virus, I'm getting better, it's a tickle in my throat.  And Princess?  She's running around being Princess, which is plenty for us all, but in overdrive.  At my work fundraiser, she spent most of the night selling things that didn't belong to her as well as some that did, all for "charity".  When she ran out of merchandise, she went for the straight beg, telling people she was collecting money for "people who don't have any" and "people with Lyme Disease, because they could DIE!!!".

I pulled her aside and told her I was not dying, and we talked for a while about her fears and my health a bit.  It broke my heart just a little. But back to the sit-com that is my life.

On the upside, my DVR has never been clearer.  And I'm finally getting my money's worth on Netflix. Also I am pretty certain oatmeal isn't fattening.So there's that.

Still in the deep in the dark recesses of me, there is a little bit of old me left.  The one that wants to do, over-do, re-do.  She lurks, waiting for a moment to peek her little overcompensating head out, assess the situation, and over-work it to death.  She got her moment late Tuesday, as I perused the offerings of Netflix.

:::cue angels singing their joyous chorus:::

There it was.

5 seasons of Mad Men.

What?  You know not of Mad Men?  Well, gather up a bunch of lying distasteful drunks, play horns in the background, add drama, and there you have it. Except make it addicting to watch, regardless of how hateful everyone is. It's like Desperate Housewives, with an education.

:::me, swooning over Don Draper:::

I had heard about the show, heard about the awards, the accolades. So I jumped in, and old Aimee saw her opening. Her opportunity to work something to death. catching up on the series is a full-time job. I think I will need 3 more days of illness to finish off what's left of the series.  But then I will have to detox. Maybe a fat farm.

As it is, they smoke and drink so much in the show, I'm afraid my cirrhosis is acting up, and I am sure I now have emphysema. But it's worth it.

So tell me--when did it become inappropriate to have your children mixing drinks for you on bridge night?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Turns Out, Alcohol DOES Mix With Children

I work with children.  Hundreds of them.  (Okay, about a hundred of them.  Whatevs.)  I also work with 20ish ladies who work their asses off to care for these children each and every day.

A little back story-about 5 years ago, I was asked to bid to take over a child care center, and purchase it from the founder-she was sucking, people were pissed, the usual.  I bid, got it, and took over with the intent to turn it around as quickly as possible. 
One of the interesting details of the business is, it is located inside a State building, and I am sort of a subcontractor.  It's part of a program to provide child care to State workers in a downtown area where rents are really high, in a field where profits are very low.

Looking at the almost insurmountable odds and hellishly long hours, I looked into the mirror and saw a massive overachiever and I said, "Why the hell not?" and jumped in with both feet, dragging just about every able body I know with me.

We are now in our 5th year, and we have a huge fundraiser each year.  It's a Spaghetti Feed, with silent auctions and raffle prizes.  Each year gets a little better (not the food, the fundraising.  It's spaghetti, what do you expect?), but we have a finite number of potential attendees, and we are always trying to figure out ways to boost profits.

A couple years back, the concept of selling beer and wine came up at a Board meeting (the Board is the group of people that oversees my progress, and chose me to take over as owner).  Many of us were on board, but a good point came up:  It could be the best idea in the world, filled with numerous positives.  But it would only take one person to prove us wrong. The point was taken, and we shelved it.

It came up again, and again, and again, so we discussed it as a Board. We ping-ponged the idea around for months and months after getting liability insurance.  Then, a parent got a donation of the wine and beer last year.  Awesome-pure profit!

Then I found out you need a one-day event liquor license. From the police department.  For a child care center.

Which seems insurmountable enough.  Then add in the fact they wanted permission from the "building owner" before they could approve it.

How unlikely is it that the State of California will approve my plan to serve alcohol, on their property, to a group of parents of young children?  Before you say, "hmmm, 50/50?", please know that I cannot have a BBQ on site.  I can't have a fridge in a room with carpet.  Toasters are frowned upon, and popcorn has been outlawed.  Add to that I can't even attach a shade structure to the ground, OR the side of the building, to keep the children from frying to a crisp.

So, we gave up the plan last year.

Now, you may have noticed I am not shy.  Nor am I conservative.  I also err on the side of horrifically honest about everything, and the hilarious juxtaposition of human behavior. (That sounded pretty damn smart, right?) There is nothing in my brain that says beer and wine and kids don't mix.  I joke with parents about all sorts of inappropriate things.  My staff seem somewhat unsure about my mental stability, but they tolerate me like one might tolerate an exotic pet.  The point I am trying to make is, while I may think serving liquor at a school is a bang-up idea, I am well aware that my judgement is sketchy, at best.

But this year, one of the main planning-spearheading-delegating-overworking moms pushed and pushed until I said I would try.  (She's one of my favorites) Well, it didn't quite play out like that, but I kinda did want to see her drunk, so I thought, What the fuck.

I sent off an email to the "Building Manager" about a month before the event. 

Three weeks later, I got the response, "I don't see why not.  Good luck."

Holy shit. OMG. Wow.  And all that.

So, I tell everyone the good news, and trot the form over for the signature.

Almost immediately after, I got another email, this time from someone in the State that pretty much said, "Well, we better run it by Legal".  I deflated like a waterbed under a sack full of kittens.

About 75 emails later, mentions of "Right of Entry", "Private Security", "Liability Policy" and "Real Estate Legal Counsel", I FINALLY got the okay. I shit you not.

So it was off to some dude to sign the original in the 15 minute window of time he had, 5 days before the event.  With the understanding I still had to get the police department to think it was all a great idea, and then off to ABC, NOT within the "no more than 30, but no less than 10 days before the event".  Hummmpppfff.

Got my signatures, ran to the police department, and had to leave it for them, using the old, "sorry, I'm in a rush, and I know it's not your problem, but I had to wait several weeks for the State to approve it, you know how they can be", :::sweet smile, while still looking indebted, innocent, and worthy, all at the same time:::

24 hours later, I'm off the ABC.  Which took all of 15 minutes, thanks to an awesome dude name Quincy, who doesn't find anything odd about a child care center giving out alcohol.  Finally, someone who gets me. Mentally, I put him down as a potential second husband, in case Sky King perishes in some sort of industrial accident.

And, no one but me gets more than half the families, and ALL the staff at the center, because we sold LOTS of wine and beer tickets.  Lots.  As in, this-was-our-best-idea-yet,-even-better-than-selling-the-parents-their-kids'-own-art idea.

And today, I'm stuck to the couch, wishing my skin didn't ache.  But it was worth every pain-pill co-pay.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

For Mother's Day, I Got A Disease. Again.

As many of you know, because you all hang on my every word, Sky King is not fabulous at picking out gifts.  I have resigned myself to a life of, "Next week is my birthday, here is a list to pick from" or, "Our Anniversary is Tuesday.  Get me a card, funny or romantic, your choice. We have dinner reservations, you're buying".  Which is perfectly fine, because he has so many other amazing qualities.

Until now.

Everything has changed.

I came home the other day, and saw a package on the porch, from  I KNEW it had to be for me because he has been banned from putting all our potential investment money into comic books and other collectibles, so I came running in the house like a little kid that just found a two-headed slug and showed him the box, slightly rubbing my head on it. I may have purred.

He said, that's your Mother's Day gift, wanna open it?

Me: No. 

Me:  Yes.

Me: No, but yes.

Me:  ........

Sky King: Open it!

So I let Princess help me, and IMMEDIATELY, she's all, "AWWWWWW...!!!!!"  and I knew there must be something fabulous in there. Or horrifying.  Princess is strange.

I was right. (Not about Princess being strange, I don't think I have to prove that to anyone.)

There was a copy of Jenny Lawson's book, "Let's Pretend This Never Happened", which I had almost bought already because I couldn't wait to read it, and almost drove two-and-a-half hours to meet her and get her to sign it, only to drive right back home because something pressing was happening the next day, and I totally regret not going to the signing, because she may never ever ever come to NorCal again, and then how will I add her book to the collection of signed first copies?

But I hadn't bought the book yet, and Sky King knew it would make my day, even more than a tattoo gift certificate, or liposuction.

So, huge win. I pretty much devoured it, LOL-ing all the way, and had it finished before Mother's Day.  I will reread it again, soon.  Then I will put it on my "favored" bookcase, with all my other good books I'm not ashamed to own-you know, ones about smart topics like brain development, the entire Harry Potter series.  I have another bookshelf, hidden in the Random Room, filled with dogeared messes, and series I'm not completely proud to own.  You know, Nora Roberts books, Sky King's books on card tricks, guides that tell him the value of all the comic books he swears "will pay off" someday, and a few errant library books I likely owe $4000 in late fees to libraries that have long since been closed because of assholes that don't return books, like me.

Back to my gift.

In the bottom of the box hidden amongst several clear plastic tubes of air (that Princess says is full of deathly carbon dioxide, and can she "keep them pleasepleaseplease....YAY!") is a disease.  Specifically, Lyme Disease.  In stuffed animal form. (Or, as my kids call it, "soft pet" form)

It's like all of a sudden, we are soul-mates.  Or, we have always been soul-mates except for the gift-giving thing, which was really small in the grand scheme of things.  But now?

He's fucking perfection.  :::swoon:::

To recap:
  • Sky King now buys rad gifts, which makes up for the newspapers and horrifically inappropriate cards.
  • He intuitively knows what I have pinned on my "Random Shit I Love" Pinterest board.  Which can only be possible through some sort of black magic, because he thinks Pinterest is the Anti-Christ. (I'm thinking Anti-Christ is fully capitalized because it's a proper noun, right?)
  • I have an unnatural attachment to books, both cerebral and trashy.
  • Princess is getting stranger, and I'm pretty sure it's genetic.  I'm feeling a little guilty about that.

All this made up for the fact that I have caught some sort of antibiotic resistant illness that feels an awful lot like Strep throat, and the only thing that keeps my mind off the pain is lots of painkillers, followed by just enough wine to fuzz my brain, while not too much that will send me into a death spiral of psychotic episodes. 

How was your Mother's Day?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Familyhood of the Traveling Nutjob, Part 3

The Familyhood of the Traveling Nutjob, Part 1

 The Familyhood of the Traveling Nutjob, Part 2

After 24 water-logged hours, each and every one of us was done.  DONE.  We have breathed in so much chlorine our arm-hairs were growing in a bright orange color.  Our suits had deteriorated to mere elastic-bound hunks of Lycra scraps.  Each child had a red ring around each eye, faces puffy from lack of sleep, too much salt, and an overabundance of forced cheeriness.

We soon parted ways in the parking lot, the cousins having to go back to school.  We took to the freeway, heading towards Puyallup where some of my college friends lived.  We planned to see much of Seattle, and spend time with several old friends. In 2 and a half days. Piece of cake.

On the way to Puyallup, I had no idea what to do for meals, so we had to grab something based  on yelp.  Fortunately, we ended up in a dive bar that had amazing fish and chips.  Back to the freeway we headed.

We passed through Olympia, where I had spent about 4 years as a young child.  I don't have many memories of this time because I had been so young.  However at one point we are driving toward the Capitol Building, and I spy a lake.  I grabbed the phone and called my Dad: "Hey, did we go watch fireworks at the Capitol Lake, one year?  And we set up a tent???"

Turns out, yes we did. Once filled with a memory of a place I had forgotten, it was off the find the home I remembered from pictures.  We drove and drove, turning here and there, going strictly off the memory of my parents, and not having exact addresses.  Ultimately, we did not find my childhood home. But the quest had been a fun diversion, as our next host was not home from work yet.

As we arrived to visit with T, we got settled in for a few days.  Our kids began playing with her pets, and enjoying all the snow she had just gotten.  We cozied up with glasses of wine and Indian take-out. I needed my strength to tackle the next day. I had plans. 

The next morning it was a whirlwind of Pike Place Public Market, the first Starbuck's, the downtown Nordstrom where I talked myself out of a pair of new boots for the 12th time at Nordstrom, (but my resolve would not last through the month), and a ride over to the Space Needle. 

Anywho, T was a wonderful chaperone, taking us all over the city.  We got tons of amazing shots, like this one:

Later that day, we meandered back home, and collapsed on the couch, despite my desire to hit a place on my list that was supposed to have an amazing dinner. We were due to meet some other friends for dinner, and choices had been made.  WITHOUT consulting me.  Instead of throwing a tantrum, I sucked it up, and ordered a bucket of margaritas. And dessert.

The next day, we had our GPS, and set out for the Museum of Flight, for a day of staring at planes.  Everyone was excited, except for me.  But I was holding out for the next meal.  My palate had an itinerary, and things were getting out of hand.

After the museum, we headed towards the Bizarro Italian Cafe.  Which was closed for lunch.

Things were not going well. 

We rerouted, and headed toward south of Qwest Field.  Slim's Last Chance was, well, my last chance to turn this day around.

Slim's was reported to have amazing chili verde.  And you could have it served over jalapeno mac n' cheese.  Normally, things like this would not appeal to me, but Guy Fieri had me hooked.  I had to have it. So when we pulled up to Slim's, I was sad to see that it was a bar, 21 and older. 

I was sad the kids would have to wait in the car.  That couldn't be illegal in Washington State, could it?

All of a sudden, Sky King got all responsible on me, and dragged my broken soul toward the car.  MY day was ruined.  My vacation was ruined. My life was ruined. A broken woman, Sky King slowly led me to the car.

Just then, a lady at the cafe next door came out, and redeemed everything.  She said, "Hey! We have a great menu, and we can order everything from Slim's, too!  So the kids can come in, and you can still get Slim's food!"

Faster than you can pour a mini-bottle of Ernest and Julio Gallo Red into a juice glass, I was seated, and dreaming chili verde dreams. 

I relished each bite, and had a hard time when Sky King wanted a bite.  However, we traded, so I got to try other things as well.

Slim's chili verde was truly a work of genius.

Later, we will off to the Fremont neighborhood, to see the troll under the bridge, and to take in some of the local art culture.

But it was cold.  Windy and cold.  Wrapped-up-in-scarves-jackets-and-gloves,-wishing-we-had-hats-and-a-hot-cup-of-coffee cold.  We were wandering up and down a deserted street, our California dispositions shaking like a chihuahua on meth.  We were silently hoping something would grab our attention that was decidedly NOT hypothermia. At this point, the very sweet, very precocious Princess, all of 6 years old, says:

"Hey! I have an idea.  Let's stop freezing our asses off, and head to the BEACH!"

Once we recovered from our fits of giggles from Princess using "ass" is such an appropriate, yet inappropriate manner, we decided she knew of which she spoke, and we headed back to the car, to meander towards our next set of dinner plans. 

Our dinner was to be with another family we hadn't seen in ages, also mothered by a friend I went to college with. 

We had an awesome time, offering to host the family on their next trip south.  The kids had all gotten along well, playing RockBand, and running around like crazed animals.  So pretty much like a casual night at home. 

The next morning, Sky King was planning on taking us all the way from Seattle, to our home in the Sacramento area.  A large nasty storm was on its way, and we didn't want to get stuck with having to buy chains for the Swagger Wagon. 

We woke around 7, and got ourselves ready as quickly as possible.  We repacked the car and coerced the children into warm clothing so they could transfer their slumber to the warm nests we had created in the van.  I was still bitter with the realization I had missed several of the stops I had wanted to make, and Sky King was exhausted, focused only on getting home so we could sleep in our own bed.

About 2 hours into the trip, giaganto-sized coffees in hand, Sky King and I recapped the trip.

Me: It was a good trip, but I'm really bummed we didn't make it to some of the places on my list.
SK: Are you kidding? We would have needed another WEEK to see all that stuff.  You're insane.
Me: It would NOT have taken a week, had everyone been on board.  What a waste of a trip.  We could have seen the Experience Music Project, could have taken a ferry, and hit a couple more restaurants, all if the weather would have held a day...:::shaking my head:::
SK: :::incredulous look::: you are a freaking nut. You are serious, aren't you.  Thank God I shut that shit down the first day.  No one likes those kind of trips.
Me: They will thank me later-they will be all, "gee, we did so many amazing things in Seattle! We saw like 12 museums, 9 restaurants, tons of other things.  Their friends would be all, "did you spend the summer there?" and our kids would say, "No, my mom's just an awesome vacation planner.  We do more by 9 am than most families do in 3 days."  And their friends would be jealous, clamoring to get invited on the next trip.

SK:  :::dead silence:::

Now we have to go back, before some of the restaurants are gone.  Or change their hours.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Familyhood of the Traveling Nutjob, Part 2

The Familyhood of the Traveling Nutjob, Part 1

So we arrive in Portland in the early afternoon.

We get settled, and talk about the upcoming days and what's in store.  I very gently mention there's just a place or two I would like to see, and that if anyone wanted, I had some "notes somewhere".  For whatever reason, no one knew what this really meant.  No one surmised that I had a several-paged document, complete with Youtube links and lists of important food to try in order of my desire to eat them.

The next morning, we head out to downtown Portland, straight to the Byways Cafe---Amaretto French Toast as well as fabulous hash, all with local coffee.  We waited for almost an hour and ultimately sat at two different tables across the room from each other.  This kind of sucked because it meant I could only try 4 meals, not 7.  I got over it when I conned the rest of the table to order what sounded good to me.  I expected at least a kid or two to defect before we actually got seated, but I think the cold December morning made them too weak to argue.    When we got in, the meals were amazing, and I was redeemed. We had bellies full of amaretto-y love, and gallons of coffee coursing through our system.

Next was Powell's bookstore-one whole city block and several floors of books-new, used, and out-of-print.  Nerd-girl caviar, literate love. Mecca, really.  Everyone was on board with that, so another win for me.  $300 later, we are headed back home.

I notice it's almost time for another meal, and I plead for a trip to Pine State Biscuits, but the revolution is at hand. They are more in favor of laying around playing a dumb old take-over-the-country-with-little-colored-pieces game, than engage in the shoveling of the Reggie-a biscuit covered with fried chicken, bacon cheddar cheese, and gravy.  It's like I'm traveling with strangers.  Mean, grumpy strangers.  That hate food.

This was the first time I didn't get what I wanted.  Things were taking a morbid twist, and I didn't like it. We had to go back to the house, because the boys wanted to play their stupid game. Everyone was on board for leftovers for dinner.  LEFTOVERS!  This meant I might miss on of the meals I had so carefully planned out in Word Table Format.

Ultimately, some of the gals took off to the Portland Children's Museum though, so I was able to see more things, and get some good ideas for work, so all was not lost. And the little girls got their energy out which turned out to be beneficial for them. Maybe I could sneak in a "oops, sorry, I made a wrong turn, oh look! Is that a biscuit place?" trip to Pine State.Instead, I ended up trying to navigate without her knowing, but my sister-in-law knew her way around too well to fall for that. She responded with a friendly, "oh, don't follow that, I know the best way back."  Foiled.

The next morning, my niece and I traveled into downtown to secure a variety of Voodoo doughnuts. I wasn't going to miss a glazed fried hunk of dough filled with raspberry "zombie blood".  No. Fucking. Way.  We came back to the house, entering like heroes home with the spoils of a victorious battle.

Later, we would be traveling to an indoor waterpark, with a seriously inadequate adult-to-child-ratio. And waaaay less liquor than should be mandatory.

So it's into the minivans, with a stop for new earphones to the littlest of the little ones can watch a movie, thereby reducing our desire to choke them before we get to the waterpark.

Then, we arrived at what can only be described as an amusement park designed to overstimulate you so much, you will willingly pay $15 for a margarita in the "adults only" bar, while your unattended children run rampant through the entire hotel waving a plastic wand at every inanimate object, hoping it's part of their "magical quest".

Stay tuned.....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Familyhood of the Traveling Nutjob, Part 1

Way way waaaaaay back when I was slightly control-freakish, I used to plan any and all vacations as delicately and intricately as a State Dinner.  Even days off had the organizational subtext of a royal wedding. Details were not left out.  Time lines were established, and I treated my entire family like a group of haphazard caterers that don't know the difference between pate' and liverwurst.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that traveling with me was one big stressful clusterfuck, where the "stops for family fun opportunities" paled in comparison to the number of times the three other members of our family attempted to plan a coup, thereby relieving me of my vacation-planning duties.  I had planned for that, as well, and I never allowed all three to be alone longer than a few seconds.  Because the most important part of being a good dictator is not allowing the huddled masses to find out there are others that agree with you, there are others with an alternate plan.

So a couple years ago, we (I) planned a trip to the Pacific Northwest.  It was right after Christmas and our children had an extra week off, so most kids would be back in school.  The PERFECT time to travel! Add this to the real possibility we would get stuck in some massive snow-storm going through the Cascades, or the Sierras, or whatever other mountain range we had to go through, and we had a vacation made for a control freak. Not.

We headed towards Portland, where we had in-laws and cousins to spend time with.  Luckily for everyone, I had planned out all the things we would see in 2.5 days, as well as all the meals we would eat.

How did I come up with the meals?  Well, I had been watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fiery.  He spends time in crazy food joints all over towns, highlighting the best of the best.

But there is no index out there.  No way to find these places by location.  So I went onto the website and cross-referenced each episode with the locations, all neatly put into a spreadsheet.  Then, I watched each YouTube clip to see which items I wanted to try, and which items Sky King would have to order so I could try that one, too. I would make notes about each menu item, as well. Yes, seriously.

Don't laugh, I have been asked for this document before, from people traveling to the same area.  I'm almost positive the document will not be used against me in a court of law.  Almost.

Anyways-back to the trip.

We stopped in Redding to stay with family.  This was our "chill day"-leave late, drive for 3 hours, spend the night, leave in the morning towards Portland. Easy-peasy.

We took off the next day with a ton of snacks to reduce the number of stops. Pretty soon we were in Medford, Oregon, looking for a meal.  Yelp must have been smoking crack that day, because we ended up at some place that claimed to have the best BBQ in the state. 

Apparently they do not have an independent BBQ judging system in place, because the food was awful.  Unremarkable, bland.  Yuck.

I was getting irritated. And we had 7 more hours to go.

Portland was filled with tons of things I HAD TO SEE/DO/EAT, and all would be better.

Stay tuned...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tortilla, Naan, and Pita, Oh My!

Today, I made a ground-breaking observation.

American food (burgers, dogs, sketti, grilled cheese, shit like that) is completely lacking in one distinct way.

American food is missing a shovel.  An edible shovel.

Think: rice and beans, tikka masala, couscous.  All these things get spread all over the plate. And if you are NOT Sky King, you can't seem to manage getting away with using your thumb to shove it all onto a fork.  Or directly to the edge of the plate then into your face, like some crazed pubescent growing boy.  Not that I know anything about that.

 Many cultures have invented edible shovels.  Sometimes it's something firm like a chip, or pliable like a tortilla.  Either way, it is a distinctly sophisticated way to get food into your piehole.

American food doesn't have that. unless you count garlic bread, which never makes it to the end of the small bits, so it totally doesn't count. In fact, I think a "back-up garlic bread" situation is in order, to sop up remaining noodles and sauce the next time I'm at Buca di Beppo.  (Is that a chain, everywhere? I really can't do Macaroni Grill, or Olive Garden, sorry.) It would be like after-dinner mints, but in garlic-bread form.

Chinese food is like this, too.  But I'm not here to pick on China.  They have enough problems, what with the communism and crimes against humanity. So I won't pick on them for their fried rice. This time.

There's plenty of American food that could use some assistance: Rice-a-Roni, rice.  Well, Rice-a-Roni doesn't really count. Especially the way I make it-it tends to glop together so it's fairly fork-able.  And I will give you that rice is more Asian than American.

Now that I think about it, most American food does not require little bits being savored. 


Most pasta is Italian.  Burgers, dogs, and sammies all come in edible wrappers.  Which in itself is pretty genius. 

I guess what I'm saying is, I love food with edible shovels.

Thank you, India.
Thank you, Greece.
Thank you, Turkey.
Thank you, Mexico.

What am I, an Alanis Morrisette song?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Latest First World Problem

I know, I'm pissing and moaning about something petty to people that are desperately trying to feed their families. I get it.  It still doesn't make my pool any warmer.

Recently, we had to move away from our awesome-floor-plan-party-pad-with-a-'70s-porn-shower* to a new place, to get away from the mold.

How do we know there was mold? Well, we almost did a $300 mold kit test.  But we are renters, and we knew the owners would not fix the problem.  I wouldn't either, because the heating ducts went through the concrete slab, and filled with water during heavy rains.  So much so, we could hear sloshing when the heat was on.  And the heat did not blow with a steady flow, more of a Jumanji-whah-whah-whah that scared the bejeesus out of Princess.  She's frighteningly easy to alarm.

So, we found a bigger, prettier, deckier, poolier, hot-tubbier place, on a quieter street.  We didn't think it was possible, but we did. 

But the pool leaked, and was scheduled for re-surfacing. (Along with all the other things wrong, which could take up several more blog posts...)

So the dudes came out, and Sky King had the opportunity to chat them up, in a my-psycho-wife-wants-this-shit-done-STAT kinda way.

They said it would take a day. This seemed a bit far-reaching, but what the hell do I know about pool resurfacing?

What they meant was, "it will take a day--which is 24 hours, spread over several months".

I should have clarified.  Right before I was going to call and make up some bullshit story about my atrophied knees and the need for the pool to be done, they showed up. Now it is filling with water, and we seem to be about a week away from Opening Day at the Walker Ranch Water Park.

I know, boo-fucking-hoo.  Be nice, or you can't come to Opening Day.

*What is a "porn shower", you ask?  It is a shower that is quite open, tiled, and happens to be missing a wall to the outside, having been replaced with a clear sliding glass door. Fortunately for our neighbors, there was a small private courtyard overgrown with bamboo surrounding this door.  Each shower was like a trip to the rain forest, minus the sweat and bugs. It took me about a month to get used to it.