Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I just wanted you all to know how thankful I am for all of you. Thank you for reading my stories. Thank you for your encouraging comments and your inspiring emails. Thank you for sharing your own stories and thank you for being polite, funny and compassionate and for understanding when I can't write as often as I used to being that I have about 15 jobs at the moment. Don't worry - that only lasts for two more weeks and then, after my sister's wedding, I'll write up a storm.

May you and your families have fantastic holidays. Enjoy your meals, your football, your kids, animals and crazy relatives. Good health, good energy, creativity and good laughs to you all. May none of you have to eat something like this:
HAMBURGER DORITO CASSEROLE
2 lbs. hamburger
1 med. bag Dorito chips
1/2 lb. Velveeta cheese
2 cans cream of celery soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes
Brown hamburger meat and drain. In large casserole dish layer all ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or long enough for cheese to melt and warm thoroughly.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Thanksgiving Miracle

No, it's not that my family has suddenly decided to give up casseroles. Don't worry, there will be pretzel salad on our holiday buffet. But I have experienced what is to me at least, a Thanksgiving miracle. It is a small miracle and a deeply personal one, but a miracle nonetheless, and I wanted to share it.

This year my four year wedding anniversary is on Thanksgiving Day. Each year on our anniversary, Husband and I reflect on our wedding day and remember all of the lovely little moments that combined to make it a perfect celebration of love. One of my favorite parts of our wedding day was when we were all getting ready. I was all dressed in the hotel room we were using to get the girls all done up. I had just put the finishing touches on my outfit and makeup and we were about to pin on my veil when a knock came at the door. My husband sent his friend to deliver a present to me with a note. Honestly, the note would have been enough, but with the note there was a bag and inside the bag was the most beautiful necklace I had ever seen and it matched my dress perfectly. The necklace was delicate and elegant and just so perfectly me.

After our wedding I treasured that necklace. I wore it all the time because it was simple and matched everything. The funny thing was that everyone who saw it assumed it contained real diamonds, but the stones in the necklace are crystal. The crystals are set in some kind of silver colored metal. At a glance, the necklace looks like diamonds and white gold and if it were, the thing would cost a fortune. I can't even imagine. You could probably buy a house for the amount it would cost. I am very glad that my necklace is crystal for several reasons. If the necklace were diamond, I would be too scared to wear it. I would also have probably killed my husband for buying it because I'd rather have a house than a necklace any day.

I kept my wedding necklace in a small box that my aunt gave me. Also in the box were my diamond earrings (those are actual diamonds), a seed pearl bracelet that I just love and an antique ring with blue stones that I also love and have had since I was a teenager. I kept the box on my dresser.

One day, almost two years ago, I went to put my necklace on and the box was gone. It had simply vanished. I thought I was losing my mind and I searched the whole apartment. I even looked inside of shoes and flipped the mattress. I cleaned out my entire closet searching, but the box never turned up. Although there had been no signs of a break-in, it appeared that someone had stolen my jewelry box containing my necklace. My wedding necklace that meant so much to me was gone for good.

At the time my sister was dating the con-man Brad who lied to her about everything and cleaned out her bank accounts. I had suspected him long before everything came out about him. That summer, when Brad ended up in jail, I put two and two together and assumed that Brad had seen me wearing the necklace, assumed it was real, and used my sister's key to my apartment to come in while I wasn't home and steal the jewelry box. It just made sense. It was the only way a box could just disappear like that. Well, at least I had the wedding pictures showing me receiving and wearing the necklace. I had my memories. It was just a thing - a material thing. I shouldn't get so attached to objects. As disappointed as I was, I figured that what was most important was not a thing, it was my husband and our relationship and the memories that we create together and no one can ever steal those, but sometimes I thought about my necklace and how I missed it.

Sometimes I tend to place too much sentimental value on objects that represent a memory for me, rather than the actual memory. One of the reasons I write so obsessively is to preserve these memories before I forget everything. I think that I am so passionate about the experience of life and being here on Earth that I just want to make sure that I appreciate every moment and remember everything I do. Being a visual person, sometimes I need a thing I can see to keep a memory fresh. For example, a couple years ago I became fixated on a set of Pyrex mixing bowls from the early 50s. These bowls were very common and most people's mothers and grandmothers have a set. There are four bowls of different sizes which nest inside of one another for easy storage. The outsides of the bowls are primary colors - yellow, blue, green and red, while the insides are an icy white. My grandmother, Mommom Jewel, who raised me for a good part of my childhood had received a set of these bowls on her wedding day, July 1st, 1950. She used them every single day that she cooked supper and in fact, still does. Before I was born she had broken the largest bowl, which was yellow, but after sixty years the red, blue and green bowls are going strong. The image of the mixing bowls represents some of the best parts of my childhood. I remember Mommom pickling fresh cucumbers in the blue bowl, dipping sugared strawberries out of the red bowl and mixing cake batter and chocolate chip cookie dough in the green bowl. I can't even count the times she told me about her wedding day and how when her parents gave her the bowls, she had no idea how to cook a single thing. She had to learn on her own and over time she figured it out and she kept her original set of bowls because they held up and because they reminded her of how in love and excited for her new life she had been as a young bride. They reminded me of that too and they symbolized stability to me. Those bowls lasted for my grandparents' entire marriage.

A couple years ago I was Christmas shopping. I like to shop at sales, auctions and junk shops. By chance I came across the yellow bowl, independent of the rest of the set. Just the yellow bowl, all by itself in a pile of junk. What are the odds of that, I said to myself. The only one Mommom's set is missing is right there without the others. I had to get it for her. It was fate. I bought Mommom her missing yellow bowl for Christmas and re-completed her set.

After that it kind of nagged at me. I wanted a set of Pyrex mixing bowls just like Mommom's. I wanted to recreate my childhood memories and I wanted to have that symbol of family, nurturing and endurance in my kitchen too. I looked all over, determined that no matter what cost, that I would have my own set of Pyrex bowls and that was all there was to it. Finally I found the bowls on eBay, won the auction (because there was no way I was losing it) and got my bowls.

Once I got the bowls I looked at them for a long time and then decided that in order to not break, mess up or lose them, that I would just keep them and one day when I got a bigger place I would find a way to display them in my future kitchen. I put the bowls in the farthest, most hard to reach, inaccessible cabinet in my tiny kitchen and left them there for safe keeping.

The other day, after having the bowls imprisoned for about two years without using them, I finally decided that this was idiotic. For Thanksgiving I was going to cook in my mixing bowls. First because I miss my family far away and the bowls remind me of them and second because the festive colors just make me feel good. I got on a chair and carefully heaved the nested bowls down from the top shelf. Once I got them on the counter I absolutely could not believe what I saw.

Inside the smallest blue bowl, there was my missing jewelry box.

I blinked. There was my box. I blinked again. The box was still there. I opened the box and there, just like new, sat my wedding necklace along with my ring, bracelet and earrings.

I had found my wedding necklace!! I could wear it again for my anniversary in four days! I had it back and it hadn't been stolen from me after all.

I have wracked my brain trying to figure out how the jewelry box got in the mixing bowl. I have thought and thought and tried to remember. I just have no memory of putting it there and I have no idea what would have made me want to hide it in the first place, unless it was because at the time I lost the box I was so paranoid and suspicious of Brad already. I really don't know. It isn't like me to hide things like that. Ultimately that doesn't matter. What matters is that I have the necklace back and that I am using my mixing bowls.

What really matters is the memories, the many things I am thankful for - my loving husband, my family, my grandparents who were married for 58 years exactly, a set of unbreakable bowls and the glitter of crystal.
Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Series of Fortunate Coincidences - The Good Macaroni and Cheese

This year for Thanksgiving I decided to adopt two families through a local charity. It's simple. All you have to do is say you want to do it and then fill up a box of food for the family or families you adopt, drop it off and there you go. First I was going to do one but then I felt like doing two. Then I got my students in on it in two classes and had them decorate the boxes. I obviously provided all the materials and because I am a hateful, evil teacher I decided to force the poor things to actually write about Thanksgiving and wealth and gratitude and poverty and all kinds of things that they hate writing about. I am so mean. I told them if they could spare something that if they wanted they could bring things for the boxes, but they didn't have to go out and spend money because they are just students. They are so sweet. Some of them even brought the tuna cans and ramen packs from their dorms. I welled up when they did that.

But ultimately, the adoption of the two families was my own project and I had intended to pay for the whole thing myself, which is not really a big deal since I didn't have to provide a turkey or anything refrigerated. I planned to go shopping this weekend.

Then the other day my shoe broke. It was a shoe from Ross and only cost me all of about $7.99 but it was a cute shoe and I wanted to fix it. I have misplaced my glue gun and I have no idea where the stupid thing could have gotten to in my shoebox of an apartment. I decided to call my friend Carina. For the past couple of weeks, Carina has been on a crafting bender of sorts. For her job she has to sit in on hours long conference calls. During the calls she makes crafts to occupy herself. All week she has been making satin pillows in the shape of pumpkins. She said she had made me about 25 of the things already and that her house looked like a pumpkin patch already. She was begging me to come get some of the satin pumpkins off her hands. I knew she had a glue gun and could fix my shoe, so I decided to kill two birds and both fix my shoe and pick up my array of pumpkin shaped pillows.

I went by Carina's house the other night for this purpose and she had a couple people over for cocktails. One of the people she had over was one of the douchiest idiots I have ever met - Ed Hardy shirt tucked in and all. Just picture some dude from New Jersey and you've got it. This douchy guy made fun of me and acted like I was some kind of a moron. I don't know why these kinds of people treat me this way. I think it's because I look younger than I am and because I am on the nerdy side and really the antithesis of anything these people find cool. Carina put the guy in his place.

"She teaches college you know!" she said.

The guy wanted to know where and I told him and then he freaked out because twenty years ago he had gone to the same school. He just couldn't believe that I taught at the school he attended. I'm not sure why that was such a big deal to him, but it was.

Carina fixed my shoe and gave me a pile of satin pumpkins and I asked her if she had anything in her cabinets to donate to my can drive. She found some pudding and some bread mix. The douchy guy wanted to know about my can drive so I explained the whole thing to him and he got all excited.

"I'm giving you all the cash I have and I want you to go shopping and buy food for it for your can drive. I want you to do that for me. Can you do that for me?"

Then I went through the "Oh you don't have to do that" embarassed and awkward kind of thing but he insisted so I took the giant wad of cash he thrust into my fist. I thanked him profusely. I really couldn't believe it. I was in shock.

When I got home I counted the crumpled bills and they came to a whopping $95.00. I seriously could not believe it. I almost fainted.

It was then that I realized I wanted to be a philanthropist - a Robin Hood of sorts. I want to solicit money from tacky, arrogant, douchy people, because Lord knows I know and encounter enough of them, and I want to use it to feed the hungry. This is my mission.

I told the story to my students and they had one request.

"Could you use it to get the families the good macaroni and cheese?" one girl asked.

"Yeah! The real brand and not the kind with the powder. Get the kind with the cheese sauce. The good one!" someone else added.

"Yes! Velveeta shells and cheese!!" the whole class roared.

I welled up again. They wanted the families to have the good macaroni and cheese. Just stop and think about that for a second.

I promised my class I would get the good macaroni and cheese.

This morning I went to Winn Dixie. I went there because it is cheaper and because I have a Winn Dixie card which makes it even cheaper. I wanted to get a lot for my $95.00.

As I shopped I began to have anxiety. I wanted my families to have a wonderful meal and some things for everyday. I got them rice and beans, pbj, crackers and cereal but I also got them all the stuff for a big Thanksgiving dinner. I looked at the price of everything I bought to maximize my purchase. I don't do that when I shop. I just buy whatever I want. I am comparatively rich, so when I go to the store I can just have whatever I want. If I want fresh fish I get it. If I want a lobster I can have one once in a while. I get fancy ice cream, fresh vegetables - whatever I want. I have never once considered the cost of my food because I don't have to. That is how lucky I am. I don't have to worry that I forgot something or missed something or that something will run out because I can just go the next day and buy more stuff. But shopping for my adopted families, I had to take all of this into consideration. I wanted them to have the most. I wanted to get them good foods but also some treats because there are a lot of children. I wanted the children to have treats. I really planned everything out.

Winn Dixie made me happy today because they had a lot of specials and Buy One Get One sales on things people need for Thanksgiving. These sales allowed me to get my families even more food. I bought pie shells and pudding mix, corn bread mix, four boxes of stuffing and two different flavors of Jell-o. Then I remembered that I had to get the good macaroni and cheese.

In the macaroni and cheese aisle was a little boy and his very old grandmother. The little boy really wanted some spaghetti-os. He asked his grandmother and she said they couldn't afford the spaghetti-os. He asked if he could have one can of the store brand and she got him one. He was a sweet, polite little boy. Because of him I got my familes each a can of spaghetti-os.

I reached for the Velveeta shells and cheese. I was getting one box for each family, but then I saw it - the big sign. Velveeta shells and cheese was BUY ONE GET ONE FREE!! That meant each family got 2 boxes of the good macaroni and cheese!! Now what are the odds? I was so excited.

My cart was overflowing when I hauled it through the checkout lane. Because of my Winn Dixie card, everyday low prices, good shopping and Winn Dixie's amazing specials, I bought two families crazy Thanksgiving spreads with lots of treats for $87.00. That is it!! I came in under budget.

As I paid, the grandmother and the little boy got in line right behind me and the grandmother started counting out coupons and there was that poor, pitiful, one can of store brand spaghetti-os. I did this because I've seen my mother do this for people a hundred times. I learned this from her. Before her, my grandfather did the same thing. I gave the cashier the other eight dollars and told her to put it towards the grandmother's bill.

"Go ahead and get him some more spaghetti-os," I said.

Then I felt horrible and embarrassed and like maybe I had made them feel badly and like I was some awful, awful white person who hurt their pride in the store, so I pretty much took my cart and flew out the door without looking behind me, but I heard them all, even the cashier, saying "Thank you, thank you!" So I hope I didn't humiliate anyone. I just wanted the little boy to have the good brand of spaghetti-os. That kind of stuff is important.

I wish I could give people the good macaroni and cheese every single day.

So thank you Universe and thank you douchy guy and thank you Winn Dixie and thank you Carina for all those pumpkin pillows and for fixing my shoe and for inviting that guy over at the same time I was there. Is that why they call this Thanksgiving?
Thursday, November 12, 2009

And Yes, I Know You All Want to Know About This

Don't worry, it's coming, but I have to go teach right now. This should at least tide you over until tomorrow afternoon. Unfortunately the belly dancers and fireworks weren't in the picture too.

Thanksgiving Warm-Up - Let the Nasty-Assery Begin

Do not ask me how I ran across this one, but I was doing a little pre-Thanksgiving recipe research when I found a casserole topped with Cheetos. Cheetos. A casserole topped with them and it has chopped up hard boiled eggs in it. I have relatives who would tear this mess up too. I guarantee you they would like it and not just like it, but love it.

CHICKEN CASSEROLE
4 to 6 chicken breast, cooked and cut up
1 can cream chicken soup
4 boiled eggs, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/2 c. celery, chopped
Crushed cheetos for topping
Mix above ingredients together and put in long casserole dish. Crush enough cheetos to cover top. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Can you honestly imagine?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A New Year - What Would I Be?

Today is my birthday and I think for the first time, I am really feeling like I'm starting to get old.

Every year I like to be in a better place than last year. With every year that goes by I try to become a better person than I was the year before.

This past year I think I accomplished that in some areas. I graduated and I found a job that I love. I went on some fun trips to visit family and my husband and I managed our first major road trip together. He got a good job this year too, so we're doing well career-wise. That's a big relief because many people aren't. I've published more work and have had little pieces in a major magazine TWICE! And I'm talking a big magazine that they sell in the grocery store aisle. No, not The Star. I spent some fun times with friends, though not enough and I've managed to stick with acupuncture.

Still, I have a lot of areas to work on. This coming year is going to be two things. First, it's going to be the Year of Family. This means that I want to strengthen my bonds with my large, extended family. I want to be an active part of several families that I belong to. I want to be more family oriented. It also means that I need to come to terms with some family issues I have which I haven't written about. This year, some of my relationships with relatives have suffered severely in a way that has caused me a lot of anxiety and sadness. I don't know how I will deal with them. I will either mend the relationships or I will have to trash them completely and accept with compassionate detachment that some people are fucking crazy and there's no logic to crazy and nothing I can do about it. Maybe I will be able to learn to not take their crazy to heart.

This is also going to be The Year I Work on My Anger Problem. I have an anger problem. I don't think I've written about it here, but maybe I should. I am often angry, rage-filled and bitter. I don't want to be that way. I lash out at the people I love most because I am frustrated. I think I never learned to express anger and stress in productive ways. Sometimes I think I inherited a cruelty gene from my biological father that makes me push away the people who are the nicest to me. He does that and I hate that I do it too.

Sometimes I am the kind of angry that gets violent and wants to destroy or hurt things. This has to change. I know why I'm angry. I'm angry because I feel I was cheated out of certain things that I deserved in life. But really, who wasn't cheated out of something? I am certainly not alone in that camp. I need to get over it. I need to figure out how to stop being so mad. I really have no idea how to do this.

I want to be a better writer. I want to be a better person. I want to stop cussing too. Honestly, I have such a foul, unladylike mouth. It's probably related to my anger, which is probably related to my family. It all ties together. All this stuff is connected. Even my writing. What do you think I write about? Family and anger. There you go. And then I cuss in my writing too.

And then there is charity. Every year on my birthday I give to charity. I do this because I came to Earth to give instead of take. I want the world to be a tiny bit better because I was here. I do it because I just have too much when most people lack. I have so much. The lifestyle I lead is decadent and wasteful. Because I have been given so much, I have to give something in return and I don't give nearly as much as I should.

Every year I highlight a certain charity that is special to me and ask blog readers to try to give a little bit, especially since many people are looking to give to charities this time of year anyway. You may be saying that last year I didn't. Last year my grandfather died and as a way to honor his memory I donated all year to his church and obviously I wasn't going to broadcast his church all over the Internet. It was part of my grieving process and I wanted to be a little more low key than usual.

This year is different. A few months ago my husband heard a song that moved me to weep. I just couldn't stop crying when I heard this song. It is "Emma" by Emmanuel Jal, an African Gospel Hip/Hop artist. Jal is Sudanese. As a child, his family was killed in the war there and he was recruited to be a child soldier. He was saved and smuggled into the safety of Kenya by a British Aid worker named Emma McCune, who then died in a car accident a couple months later. He got to go to school and became a big star. In the song "Emma" he tells about his life and asks the question "What would I be if Emma never rescued me?"

We should all be a little more like Emma McCune. We should all try to rescue each other.

To honor Emma's memory, Jal is building a school in South Sudan called Emma Academy. You can read all about it here.

Emma Academy is my birthday charity this year. They need so little money - only 250,000$ for the whole thing and they are almost halfway there. I think we can help them get a little bit further. You can donate here if you so choose. I hope you can, but I will still love you anyway, even if you don't.

At the very least, please, please watch this video of Emmanuel Jal at TED. He sings the song at the end and if you don't cry you have a heart several sizes too small. It is absolutely awe inspiring.

Here is the song. Tell me you don't love this song. It's my gift to you.

I think in all of our lives, at some point, there was someone who has rescued us from something, even in a tiny way. I want to be that person to a lot of people. I want you to be that too. If you don't donate, and I completely understand that most people can't, then for me, just thank the person who rescued you, even if they're dead or you have no idea where they are. Call them, write them letters (even if you can't send them), thank them in your blog posts. Look at the sky and thank them. Visit their graves and thank them. Then go rescue someone else.
Saturday, November 07, 2009

Rebellion

I would like to announce my ultimate act of rebellion against my parents. I've mentioned several times before that having parents like mine - who hung out with artists and rock stars and owned night clubs and went to jail for drugs when they were really young - were nearly impossible to rebel against. This made my teen years even more confusing and angsty. I couldn't run off with a boy from a band and pierce my nose. I couldn't smoke pot or get suspended from school to distinguish myself from my parents. Doing those kinds of things would make me just like my parents. Therefore, I turned into an uptight, overly proper, etiquette book reading, priggish, stuck up, judgmental, highly neurotic, overly academic likeness of Lilith from "Cheers." You have to understand - that was the only thing I had. Some kids feel a freedom from their parents smoking hash out of a bent up Mountain Dew can. I felt the same rush sending out Christmas cards with custom labels and doing it the day after Thanksgiving. In real life, I'm so boring. The only time I really get wild and let loose is when I write.

But finally, this week I think I may have committed the ultimate act of rebellion against my parents - specifically my mother. I got the H1N1 vaccine. I even went all out, whole hog and got the nasal mist version. I don't mess around with vaccines. That intramuscular shot is for pussies. It's a wine cooler as compared to the double tequila shot of the nasal mist. I can handle it though.

My parents do not believe in vaccines. This came from Memere Marie's side. That whole side of the family has some kind of wonky conspiracy theory gene. Luckily I didn't get it, unless it's dormant in me and waiting to erupt when I hit a certain age or have kids. Everyone on my mom's side of the family believes in elaborate conspiracy theories involving the Masons, the Bilderbergs, aliens, Men in Black and horrible things the government is doing to control the population and control the world banking system for a powerful, elite few who may or may not be descendants of a powerful race of lizard hybrids who live in the center of the Earth.

Vaccines then are evil. Viruses are manufactured to get rid of undesirables. Vaccines have mysterious additives that are designed to insidiously destroy large sections of the population without making it look like that's what they're doing. The syringes contain nanobot technology or something. Lord knows. It's always different. The big pharmaceutical companies are also behind this. They're trying to get people sick so people need their medicine and products so Big Pharm can make money to pay off corrupt, Communist politicians who work for the Antichrist and who covered up the Roswell crash.

My mother hates when I get vaccinated. I love getting vaccines. I make sure that I always get the mercury free vaccines, but other than that, you can pretty much inject my ass with whatever antibody producing pathogens you want. I've considered visits to Africa just so I can get even more rounds of vaccines that aren't routine in America. I'd like to be immune to everything. It makes me feel oddly powerful, like I could just strut into a room with sick, hacking, aching, feverish people and be like "Ha! I am not getting what you have!"

Yesterday at school they were giving out H1N1 vaccine for free. Since last Spring, in the throes of hypochondria, I've been preoccupied with worrying about getting the Swine Flu. I have 120 something students and they always seem to have some snotty, coughing, sneezing ailment. My favorite is when they get up real close to me to tell me that they aren't feeling well and want to leave class early. I love how they do that. It's so considerate. Then they sneeze right on me. Sometimes I feel like teaching in a Hazmat suit.

I wanted to get the vaccine. I've had the real flu three, miserable, I thought I was going to die, times. I don't want to go through that again. I ended up getting bronchitis each time and was sick for two months. I missed work. I missed my twenty-first birthday and I remember lying in bed moaning. One time I puked so much from coughing that I made it down to a size 2, which is pretty much unheard of for someone of my Amazonian build (nothing and I mean nothing on me can ever be described as petite except my circus freak feet). I just don't want to go through that again. Missing class would cause me a tremendous inconvenience. I'd have to redo my whole syllbus for each class. It would really suck and then I would probably get my husband sick and personally, I'd rather be tubercular than deal with him when he so much as gets the sniffles.

When I saw they were giving out the vaccine for free at school and knowing that my doctor couldn't get any in yet, I got excited.

Then, suddenly, I got scared. What if after all, my mother was right? What is the Swine Flu pandemic hysteria wasn't even real? What if the government made it up as a means of controlling the people? What if the vaccine has nanobots in it? What if because of the vaccine I get some rare form of cancer in fifteen years and no one can ever connect it to the real cause? It appears I may have inherited the conspiracy gene after all.

My parents were very worried that I would get the H1N1 vaccine. I think Glenn Beck planted some seed in their heads that the vaccine contained live Socialism in it or something.

I really agonized over getting the vaccine. In the end I called my doctor friend and he said to absolutely don't hesitate to get it. I am partially considering maybe opening myself up to the idea of thinking about having children, so maybe the vaccine is a good idea just in case.

And then I thought about the stupid party with the white horse at my parents' house. I've been irritated about this party all week. I don't know why. I need to let things go. I really do. It should not matter to me what my parents choose to do in their own home, yet I still get myself bent out of shape over things like this anyway. It's a waste of my time to get upset over what my parents do. My getting upset over their throwing a party is as bad as them getting upset over me getting a vaccination. So I decided to go for it.

I willingly breathed a live virus into my lungs. I did it with gusto and it felt as crazy as making matching placecards for a dinner party or measuring the towels in my linen closet so that they all line up perfectly. It was almost like alphabetizing my spices. It was so good. I felt mighty and fierce. I felt...immune.

I want to add in here that some people are really scared of getting the nasal mist because they fear it might make them sick or that they might have side effects. I have heard of people who got a little ill from it. Not me. I had no side effects whatsoever. You wouldn't even know I took it. It was literally, like nothing.
Thursday, November 05, 2009

Because the Yard is Too Small for the Elephant

This is my life:

The other day my husband got a forwarded Evite to an open party. The Evite said to forward it to everyone you know and that you can bring as many people as you want to this big party that's being held this weekend. When he scrolled down, he saw that the address for the party was SURPRISE my parents' house. It is important to add that this was a coincidence. His coworker who forwarded the invitation had no idea that the party was at my husband's in-laws. Worse yet, the bottom of the invitation said that the party was not only to launch a new charity organization that makes prosthetic limbs for amputee animals, but that it was also to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Lawns and his daughter. Oh yes. That would be ME. MY NAME was on this mysterious Evite. Luckily it was only my first name, but still.

Please be advised that I had no idea about any par-tay for my birthday at my parents' house and that I had already made other plans. No it is not a surprise party because if it was my husband would have known about it and would not have allowed me to make other plans. Also he wouldn't have called me in a panic about the Evite. I also had no idea why my parents would be having a party to raise money for amputee animals.

In addition, the Evite came from a mysterious individual named Winston Toscana. I have never heard of anyone named Winston Toscana. My parents were not included on the Evite list.

I called my mother.

"Are you aware of a party/ charity event being held at your house this weekend?" I asked her.

"A BBQ. I don't know about a charity."

"You're having a BBQ?"

"Yes."

"Do you know a Winston Toscana? And what the fuck kind of name is that anyway? It sounds like porn!"

"No, I have no idea who that is."

My mother had to go because she was playing racquetball.

I called her the next day.

"Did you find out about this charity event?"

"Oh yes," she said breezily, "It's Vinny."

"Vinny Succatella?"

I hate Vinny Succatella, a recent addition to my parents' entourage. I told him off last Spring, but I'll get to that in a second.

"You are letting Vinny Succatella throw a party at your house?"

"Yeah, I love parties. He's paying for it. He's getting spotlights, valet parkers, food, liquor -"

"Valet parkers?"

"Yeah, it's going to be huge. He hired a DJ and he was going to bring in an elephant but the yard was too small so he's going with a white horse instead."

"An elephant?"

"No, the yard's not big enough. We're getting a white horse instead."

"A white horse? Seriously? For what? Pony rides? Are you going to have pony rides at your house?"

"It's a horse, not a pony."

"Are you going to have horse rides?"

"I don't know, I think it's decoration."

"Living things aren't decorations. Is it an amputee? Maybe it's the spokeshorse for the amputee pet foundation."

"I'm pretty sure it has all its legs. I think if horses lose a leg they shoot them, don't they?" my mom said.

I said I was pretty sure they did.

"Are you aware that my name was on this Evite?" I asked.

"It's your birthday."

"I have plans."

"So just stop by. Vinny is throwing this party for you."

"He is not. Vinny and I can't stand one another. And you don't care if someone just comes and throws some big ass crazy party at your house with a horse and a dance floor and a laser light show or whatever?"

"Hell no. He's paying for it. I think it'll be fun."

"Did you find out who Winston Toscana is?"

"Oh that's what Vinny's calling himself. You know he's eccentric."

When we hung up I nearly had a panic attack. I'm not exactly sure why, but the thought of this whole event, horse and all, makes me need to breathe into a paper bag.

Mainly it's because I hate Vinny Succatella. Vinny Succatella is weird. I don't know where in hell my parents found this idiot. He's 27 and everytime I see him he looks like he's suffering from a hell of a sinus infection. My guess is that it's coke. He's skinny and scrawny looking with a freckly complexion and he wears Ed Hardy shirts. Apparently he has money from somewhere (Lord knows what) and he spends it with no discretion at all. He spends most of his nights at the Bubblegum Kittikat sitting around in the VIP section drinking overpriced bottles of Absolut and handing out cash to strippers. He's never alone either. He has a fleet of Hummers (aren't they so five years ago already? Come on) and he and his gigantic, bedazzled posse in their Ed Hardy uniform, douche all over town together in them, just showing up at the homes of random people, univited and unannounced for impromptu parties. I can't even imagine such behavior.

Vinny and I really got into it on Father's Day. I had planned a big dinner for my dad and grandfather and was cooking at my parents' house when all of a sudden this asshole shows up with about 15 people. He brought several bottles of alcohol and platters of stone crabs and proceeded to pretty much get a party going with a bunch of strangers in my parents' backyard in spite of the fact that I had Father's Day plans. Within minutes someone was playing hip-hop and people were cannonballing in the pool. An hour later they decided to go get Chinese and there just completely went my thoughtful, elegant Father's Day dinner. I was mad as fire and decided to cuss out Vinny for rudely showing up unannounced on Father's Day and destroying my plans. I tried to explain to him that you don't just show up and party at other people's houses and that you don't use other people's nice houses to impress your friends. If you want to have a damned party, have it at your own house. If you don't have a house, then go to a club. There are plenty around here and many have pools. Vinny just did not get it. He said I insulted his intelligence and that being as intelligent and educated as I am that I should recognize someone equally as intelligent. This argument made no sense, but that's what he said. Of course because I am intelligent, I recognize the true depth and breadth of his stupidity, though I'd think that would be obvious to a slow second grader.

The thing is, is that while I find Vinny maddeningly rude, excessive and creepy, that my parents find him fun, spontaneous and endearing and it is their house not mine. I have no say in this.

All I have to say is that the SOB better get me a birthday present and it had better not be that white horse.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Wedding Update

Do not ask me how, but we are almost finished planning the wedding. We basically put together an entire, formal wedding in under two weeks. What helped was that we just used almost all of the same vendors from my wedding. We just called them all up and told them the date. We didn't have to shop around and do comparisons because we already used them and were pleased with their services. We didn't have to worry about picking a location because the wedding is going to be at the house, which I love because it's just so "Father of the Bride." We aren't going to have swans though.

So far nothing particularly dramatic has occurred. On Saturday we all went to go pick out tuxes for the boys. My mother and I went along because we didn't trust the men to pick out their own outfits and we feared they would look like they just came from a Hot Ghetto Mess Prom. Sometimes boys just don't understand that metallic purple, herring-bone vests don't look very elegant. At the tux rental place, the boys were getting fitted and choosing ties when a bizarre individual burst through the door.

Then man looked dead serious.

"Can I help you?" asked the tux store owner.

"Sir, I was told I could find Mr. Gambino here."

"Excuse me?"

"Gambino."

"Huh?"

"The Gambino Crime Family," the man repeated.

We all just sort of looked around in confusion but my dad, without missing a beat said:

"You just missed him! He's running across the street. I see him!"

The man thanked my dad profusely and went running out of the store and across the street.

I have no explanation for this. I'm guessing the man looking for Mr. Gambino may have been schizophrenic or otherwise delusional.

So far, this is the only odd thing that has happened.

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