Monday, June 28, 2010

Fish Taco Recipe

Some people were very interested in the fish tacos Husband made for our BBQ yesterday and he was kind enough to show me the source of his recipe, which got great reviews from me and our guests.

HERE is the fish taco recipe he used. Being from Orange County, California, he is a big fish taco fan and he introduced me to them when we first met and now we experiment with different versions. I think this is the best one yet.

Someone else asked me about tortillas. We use soft corn tortillas for fish tacos and we heat them up, wrapped in foil, on the grill while the fish cooks.

If we make beef tacos, we use the same tortillas and fry them in oil, which is really good but greasy and horrible for you.

I also confess that I am a fan of what my husband calls "Gringo Tacos." Gringo Tacos are the crispy, preformed shells from a box that come with the orange seasoning packet. I love that crap, complete with shredded iceberg, Tostitos salsa and cheddar. My grandmother used to make it for me when I was little. Husband is a taco snob and barely tolerates it when I feel like having the Millpond version of one of his favorite meals.
Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Chiropractor - Part 2

The Hot Sun gallery was owned by two hipsters who had inherited a lot of money and thus wanted to spend their lives not worrying about whether or not they sold any art. Harlan and Maxine were in their early 40s and had no children. They traveled and shopped for eclectic art and listened to cool music and wore Prada clothes and had sleek hairstyles. Maxine was my favorite of the two. She was a tall, pretty blonde with a sweet, shy disposition and Harlan bossed her around. Harlan bossed everyone around. You got the impression that he ran every operation he came in contact with. He's one of those guys who I bet decided which Prada outfits Maxine wore, which cool music she listened to and how sleek her hairstyle would be and she seemed so passive and in awe of her husband that she'd just do whatever he said.

I hate men like Harlan. They all seem to have some kind of superiority complex. These kind of men always like to feel like they're taking women under their wing and "teaching" them something. This has never appealed to me in the slightest. If I need fashion advice from a man, I'll go ask one of my gay friends. Some women though, really love these controlling men and will just give everything over to them and go all goo-goo over them thinking these men are so smart and so great. I got the impression that this was Maxine and Harlan's relationship dynamic to a tee.

I don't know what these two did all day or why they couldn't work in their own gallery, but they didn't. I hardly ever saw Maxine. Harlan would breeze by every day at different random times in order to keep me on my toes. I was their only employee and every day, I'd sit there from open til close hoping someone would come in and buy something or talk to me or something interesting would happen. Sometimes I hoped for an armed robbery, just so I'd have a story. Working at the Hot Sun was about as opposite of working at the Bubblegum Kittikat as you could get.

At the Kitti, it was constantly crowded. Money was flying all over the place. It was like one of those glass booths you always see on game shows where people get a minute inside to try to grab as many of the bills flying around as they can. There was constant action and sensory bombardment - booming bass music, glitter, cigar smoke, the pop of champagne bottles, fistfights, vomit and drug overdoses. I can't tell you how many times I had to call 911. That was my job. I had to determine when shit had gone too far and I had to call 911 when it had. My 911 criteria involved blood on the floor. If someone had blood on their hands or face it wasn't that bad but if it had gotten to the point where there was now blood on the floor, it was time for the cops to come. Often, we found, this happened on Sunday nights. Eventually one of the bouncers and I figured out it was because people spent all day drinking and getting themselves all fired up over sporting events, so when they finally made it to the strip club they were full of booze and testosterone and ready to kick someone's ass.

I never had to call 911 at the Hot Sun. It was never crowded. If we had one browser, it was a miracle. The place was tiny - about the size of my admittedly very small apartment's living room and it had an even tinier hidden little bathroom in the back. That bathroom made a porto-potty look grand. You couldn't really turn around in it, it was so small. The walls were stark white. The floors were blonde wood and we had about five pieces of very plain, very modern, very spare, abstract art on the walls. This was all Harlan's doing. His preferred aesthetic was a combination of Swedish chic and prison cell. He was the kind of person who liked an all white room with maybe a slate table and his idea of decorating the room would maybe be a green pear off to the side of the slate table, but on second though, maybe that green pear would be too colorful.

(Oops my guests just arrived for fish tacos! I wanted to give you a little more to the story though because I start teaching a new class tomorrow and might not have time to write. See you later!)
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Chiropractor - Part 1

I quit my job at the Bubblegum Kittikat rather suddenly during the summer of 2001 and because I worked at a strip club, I didn't give a two week notice. I just stopped coming to work and instead went to Jamaica (flight purchased with one night's tips thank you). After I got back from Jamaica, I went to Los Angeles where I got stuck because my flight home was supposed to have been on September 11th, 2001 and we all know what happened that day.

I quit because I couldn't take it. I was tired of breast implants, Bubblegum Bucks, hearing "Get Ready for This" at the top of every hour, cigarette smoke, bachelor parties, potential serial killers, stripper drama and a fifty year old cocktail waitress with a bad bob who had it out for me. She wanted my job and she was one of those people who act like, no matter how unimportant their job is, that they work at the Pentagon. You know people like that? These people make a big stink out of everything and get very involved in work politics. Being apathetic about most things, I have never been one to care about work politics. 

This woman though really wanted my job because I was the person who handed out the Bubblegum Bucks. Bubblegum Bucks are fake strip club money that the dancers could trade in for real money. Customers would come in and I would charge their credit cards for some outrageous amount, tack on the required 20% gratuity for myself, the 6% house charge and then I would deliver a stack of pink Monopoly money with boobs on it to some fool in the Champagne Room. At the end of the night, the dancers would bring me their pink bills and I would trade them for real money, taking another percentage for the house and another percentage for myself. Because sometimes we had fifty or more dancers working, this process could take a very long time and girls would tip me extra on top of my regular fee for letting them cut in line or for letting them cash out early.  Due to all this tipping and fee charging, I made a small fortune, especially on the weekends, and it's easy to see why the fifty year old cocktail waitress felt this job should be hers. She complained about me incessantly to management, yelled at me, started rumors about me (which I didn't care about being that I really didn't care about my job) and generally just got on my nerves so badly that I decided to quit.

I wanted to quit anyway and she was a good excuse. I had just gotten to the point where I was so ashamed of myself for working at a strip club that I couldn't handle it. I lied to my grandparents, telling them I worked at a restaurant and every time someone asked me what I did, I felt like telling them the truth was about the same as telling them that I was having a raging outbreak of herpes blisters.

If I had had good sense at this period in my life, I would have saved more of the money I made. I saved some, but when I look back, I think I should have been more responsible. At the time though, I was going through a phase where I felt that because I lived with my parents and because I had gone through such an epically horrible breakup, that I deserved to go places, have fun and most of all, shop. I bought myself a four hundred dollar pair of shoes on a total whim. I would never do something like that now. Luckily, nine years later, I just sold them at the consignment shop for $160.00 so not all was lost, but still. Still.

After September 11th, I got stuck in LA for a couple extra weeks until things settled down and I could get a flight back to Florida. Then, once I got back to Florida, I found myself in an unemployed, bored sick kind of stupor, sleeping 'til noon and then wandering aimlessly around my parents' house all day trying to think of something to do with my life, somewhere to wear my four hundred dollar Zanottis. 

Still being in the phase of my life where I wanted a man to rescue me, I entertained myself on Jdate, but telling a bunch of doctors and lawyers that I lived with my parents, had no job and had just quit hostessing at the Kittikat wasn't quite working out for me.

I needed a job. I needed a job so I could at least say I had one and that I did something with myself that didn't involve the remote control or my already maxed out credit cards. 

Here were the problems:

1. I did not like working.
2. I was not qualified for much of anything.
3. I refused to ever work in a restaurant again as long as I lived. I would not even work in a restaurant if someone threatened my life, my cat's life or even my mother's life, if I did not work in a restaurant. We'd all just have to die if our lives depended on me working in a restaurant.
4. No jobs sounded fun.
5. I wanted my jobs from Atlanta back because they were fun.
6. There were no fun jobs in Florida.
7. I had a GED. Wendy's cashier anyone? No thank you.
8. Most of the jobs listed down here were for sex workers or telemarketers. Past attempts at these vocations had not worked out in my favor and we'll just leave it at that for the moment.
9. I didn't really want a job.
10. Most of the jobs that would hire me, I felt were embarrassing and I was really scared of the steam thing on the espresso machines at Starbucks.

Luckily, the Universe came through for me, as it always has when I have needed a job. 

The year before, I had sold a couple mosaic mirror frames that I had made to a local, folk art gallery. The owners of that gallery owned a fancier gallery and when they needed someone to work there, they called me to see if I might be interested. Just like that. 

The day after they called, I was the newest employee of the Hot Sun Gallery.  This would quickly prove to be the most boring, uneventful place to work under the hot sun.

That is, until I met the Chiropractor.

To be continued....
Monday, June 21, 2010


Prepare to get a lot of posts from me because I have a deadline on Thursday and it's something that needs excessive proofreading. Nothing makes me blog compulsively like a looming professional deadline. 

I just had lunch with my two friends and I told them about my family's preoccupation with The Apocalypse. Then I realized that I needed to share this with you too.

Last week when I was in Millpond, my family members treated me to lengthy lectures on the coming END OF THE WORLD. We've covered repeatedly how my relations believe Obama is the literal Anti-Christ. They also believe that he and his co-conspirators bombed the oil rig in the Gulf.

My family's main sources of entertainment are as follows:

1. The Book of Revelations
2. Fox News
3. The History Channel, aka The Apocalypse Channel

Sometimes the information from these sources gets itself all mixed up in their heads, so that some of the vague prophecies in the Book of Revelations get glommed together with some of the vague prophecies seen on History Channel documentaries about Nostradamus, and all interpreted through the lens of Glenn Beck in the shrill voice of Sarah Palin.
When the END OF THE WORLD starts, the sea is going to turn to blood. Well, duh, isn't it obvious? The oil spill, caused by the Anti-Christ is what they were talking about. Can't you see how the oil is red?  Now, I confess that I did notice there was a rusty tinge to that oil and it did kind of surprise me because I thought oil was black. They believe that this is what the prophets were talking about - the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico and it's only going to spread all over the other oceans because there is no way they can cap this thing. There will be no fish or living things anymore. It says so in the Bible. Or maybe The History Channel. Maybe it was Glenn Beck. Anyway, it's happening.

"Then a comet'll come," they say next.

After the sea turns to blood (I think) some kind of comet is supposed to come flying out of nowhere portending even more horrors to come.

"Seriously?" I say, "You all think there's going to be a comet they haven't discovered yet and it's just going to come out of nowhere. Please. Whatever."

"You will see. God don't lie."

Neither does Sarah Palin.

So here I am laughing my ass off at some of the nonsense my relatives come up with, when last week, I get back from my trip and what the hell do I see but this article.  You have got to be freaking kidding me. You all. There is a comet.

So then I start to get paranoid. This stuff runs deep. I've tried to overcome it, but every now and then the Holy Roller brainwashing gets to me and I start shaking and wondering about my salvation. I have not been able to stop worrying about this comet. I bet my relatives are laughing their asses off at me now because they are vindicated. They told me just like Noah tried to warn of the flood and I didn't listen. I guess I know where I'll be stuck come The Rapture.

Then on Sunday my mother calls me from the bus (which is now in California by the way) with this.

Her: Have you been to the beach?

Me: No.

Her: Oh thank God. DO NOT go to the beach.

Me: Why?

Her: The oil.

Me: It's not here. There is no oil on the East Coast. The oil is on the other side.

Her: There's oil.

Me: Trust me. Our beaches are clean for now. Soon the oil may get caught in a loop current and eventually get here, but for now, we're safe.

Her: I don't know about that. That oil's very toxic.

Me: I know.

Her: It has toxic fumes that are very dangerous. I don't want the baby around those fumes.

Me: Well me either. But we're ok right now.

Her: I don't know what we're going to do.

Me: When what?

Her: If there's a hurricane that oil's going to turn into an invisible mist and spread all over Florida and there won't be any way to escape it. It's going to cover everything. A lot of people are going to die.

(I begin to imagine this in far too great detail and get nervous.)

Me: Oh my God.

Her: It's going to destroy Florida. You know what else? They're going to try to blow up the Gulf with a nuclear weapon to stop the leak.

Me: WHAT? Ok, no they aren't. I haven't heard anything about that. They would never allow that and how would that even work anyway?

Her: Well I heard it and it's going to cause a Mega-Tsunami and wipe us out.

Me: That's not possible. The tsunami would hit the other coast. It couldn't cross the entire state. Totally impossible.

Her: Well I don't want the baby around that oil. We're going to have to pack up the bus and leave.

Me: WHAT? We have an offer on a house!!

Her: I don't care. We're going to have to live on the bus. We'll head for the Midwest to get away from the oil so the baby doesn't get poisoned.

I begin to imagine myself giving birth on the bus. Sam running for hot water and towels. Bombaclaat trying to eat the placenta. It becomes a vivid and terrifying vision of my future, reminiscent of The Road. Then I imagine NOT living on the bus and the aerated oil and my baby autistic, suffering from cancer and looking like that thing from The Goonies.

I am sufficiently freaked out now. Dang comet.

I Miss My Friend. Sometimes I Wonder What Happened to Her.

Rachel is my best friend during the years I live in Atlanta before EX and I break up. I meet her after I buy the grey Cape Cod in Midtown. My new neighbor knows her and introduces us. Instantly, Rachel and I are making plans. We are grown women having sleep overs like teenagers. We make midnight runs for hot Krispy Kremes. She and I like the same movies. She teaches me ribbon embroidery and we cook elaborate meals that we can’t finish. The art museum is free on Thursday and we go after lunch at a French themed cafĂ©. Rachel is the friend I have always wanted and needed. I laugh far more with Rachel than I do with my fiance and I spend New Year’s Eve with her when he insists on a boy’s night out. When Poppop June dies, Rachel sits with me, brings me a casserole and gives me the strength to write his eulogy.

“You can do it,” she tells me.

She thinks I look like a Lancome model.

“You are so beautiful. You are my most beautiful friend.”

And she tells me this at a time when I need to know that someone thinks I’m beautiful.

It is Rachel I think I will miss the most when I move to Florida. I beg her to come visit but she has a new boyfriend; a blind date that just happened to work out during the same week that EX and I ended it all.

I fly up for the winter wedding and am puzzled she didn’t ask me to be in her wedding party.

“You can read a poem during the ceremony,” she decides at the last minute.

We still talk weekly. I call her. One day in May she answers the phone squealing that she is pregnant. It seems too soon, like she is too young and I don’t understand her joy at all as I congratulate her.

Still, I monitor her pregnancy, which is troubled. She has a rare liver disorder and is ill, in and out of the hospital until her son is born healthy the next January and I can stop googling “cholestasis.” 

She emails me pictures and of course I understand when she can’t answer the phone each time I dial her number. When we talk, she sighs and I can hear her smiling when she talks about being a stay at home mother. 

The second pregnancy is just as challenging. The cholestasis returns and one frantic day I call all the hospitals in her city trying to find out if she is ok after receiving an email that she expects the worst, the baby is in danger and they are rushing to the Emergency Room. Everything was fine. I send the flowers I’d planned to send to her hospital room to her home instead.

The next year, when her second child turns one, I am getting married.

“I hope you can come,” I say, “It won’t be the same without you at my wedding.”

"I have two children now.”

“Well you can bring them or just fly down for the day and go right home. Your mom can watch them maybe. It’s really important to me.”

"Well, we’ll see.”

She doesn’t return the RSVP card so I call again.

“I told you, I can’t come to your wedding. I’m a mother of two boys.”

“I know. I understand. It’s ok, really. I’ll send you pictures and everything.”

“Sure, whatever.”

One of the children whines in the background.

“I would love if you could send me one of your paintings. Just a little one. I want a little piece of you in my home so I can always think of you when I see it,” I say.

She laughs, “Like I can paint anymore.”

“You stopped painting?”

"How do you expect me to have time to paint?”

"Oh, sorry. Maybe you can send me one of your old ones.”

"They’re all hanging in my son’s rooms.”

“Oh, ok. How sweet. I’d love if my mom painted and I had her pictures in my room as a kid.”

“Look, I have to go. The baby’s crying.”

She doesn’t send me a Christmas card or acknowledge the package of small gifts I send her, so I call on her birthday in January. There is no answer. I try for several weeks until finally, she answers, flustered.

“Rachel! Gosh, I’ve been trying to call your forever!”


“Rachel, it’s me, WL.”

“I know who it is. I was expecting the doctor. I’m dealing with two sick kids here.”

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Is everything ok?”

“Look, you just don’t get it. I can’t talk to you.”

"Ok, sorry, well maybe I’ll call you another time.”

That is the last time we ever spoke.

Leave Me Alone

Leave me alone about my grammar and punctuation.

I blog for fun. My blog posts are "freewrites." I rarely edit them. I blog because I enjoy it and most of my readers enjoy it. Blogging is not work.

Blogging helps me develop and store ideas. I also get feedback on content, rather than the technical aspects of writing. Many of my blog posts eventually become polished essays which go through several revisions. That's when I put the effort into proofreading. Proofreading and polishing is work. I don't particularly enjoy it, but I do it for my more formal and professional pieces. I don't want my blog posts scrutinized the way my "real-life" writing is. I need a break from that.

Consider my blog posts as writing exercises or early first drafts. They are deeply flawed pieces of writing, but I need to get the ideas out without worrying about editing. I need that freedom for my creative process. Worrying constantly about errors cripples me. It takes the joy out of writing. I don't want to write without joy.

Several of my published pieces began as blog posts. The final drafts barely resemble the originals. 

Free-writing is a common writing technique. I know writers who have managed to write entire novels this way because it's the only way for them to get their words out without being paralyzed by self-editing. The difference is that I choose to make my free-writes public. Most people aren't complaining.

Last, I speak with terrible grammar. I come from an uneducated lot. They also speak a unique dialect. I grew up hearing this dialect and I often resort back to it because I find it amusing, unique, comforting and well, very much how I sound. On my blog, I write like I speak when I am speaking to my family and close friends. Again, I need that freedom. It also represents an intimacy with my readers. I like letting my readers hear the real "me." Most of them really appreciate it.

If you don't, then either ignore it or go read some more formal, published writing which has gone through a more extensive editing process by several paid editors.  

I find that reading comprehension is a far greater problem for most people than minor grammatical errors. I'm not a grad student. I graduated last year. I am a teacher. I have colleges and universities beating down my door to teach writing classes for them. I have to turn down teaching assignments. I've won awards for my teaching. 

I am a good teacher because I am passionate and creative. I engage my students. I am easy to relate to and my students learn in my classes because I don't intimidate or bore them. I don't nitpick at them or make them feel ashamed when they make mistakes. I give them the freedom they need to experiment and to find their own creativity. I give myself this freedom as well.
Thursday, June 17, 2010


This weekend is my sister's ten year high school reunion and this week also marks a special, ten year anniversary for me.

It has been ten years since I left Atlanta. It has been ten years since my horrible breakup with Evil Ex. It has been ten years since he got another girl pregnant and sued me for my house.

This week, ten years ago I was crying constantly and not eating or sleeping. This week ten years ago, the process server knocked on the door of my parents' house with a lawsuit for me. I was being sued for my own house. I had nothing but a suitcase of summer clothes. I had left behind my cats, my childhood photos, my furniture, the cottage house I loved, my friends, my car and two jobs that I never wanted to quit. All I had was that suitcase because I had left in a hurry. Seven cop cars had been involved in my leaving. I had sat in the Atlanta airport for eight hours waiting to get standby on a last minute flight to South Florida and I remember every minute. I ate a lukewarm Domino's, individual pizza and wasted as much time as I could in the bookstore. I bought Conversations With God because I desperately wanted a sign or some wisdom or something to tell me it was ok. Mostly I cried in the bathroom. Then I went and sat at the gate and cried. Strangers asked if I was on my way to a funeral.

Back then I didn't write yet. I had an AOL account, which I barely used. I didn't even have a cell phone. I'd never dated because I'd been with Evil Ex since I was 19. I was shy, scared, uptight and nervous as a squirrel. Everything terrified me.

I didn't want to go to Florida. In fact, it was the last place I wanted to live and I really didn't want to live with my parents. With a GED, I had no education and no real job skills at all. I had worked in a pottery studio and a private kindergarten for hippies. There was no way I'd find a job making enough to support myself and live on my own.

Mostly what I wanted back then was someone to come and save me. I daydreamed constantly of a True Love who would find me and whisk me away. I wanted to be with someone to prove that I was lovable and to prove that I was special enough for someone to pick me. I wanted someone to fix everything for me. I also wanted someone because Evil Ex had someone and it seemed so deeply unfair that he, a bad person, a lying, cheating, stealing, mean, bad person, could have love and be starting a family, when I, a good person, who really deserved that life, had it stolen away from me. I could never reconcile that in my head.

I wish I could go back in time and find my younger self crying in that airport and tell her that everything was going to be just fine - better than fine even.  I don't think she would have believed me if I told her that in ten years she'd have been happily married for five years, that she'd be having a daughter, that she'd have a new cat, go to Paris, go lots of places in fact. She would never believe that she'd go on to become an English professor or a published writer (in real books that are in the bookstore right this minute).

"I don't write," she'd say, "Maybe I could teach kindergarten, but I'd never be able to get through school. I'm not smart." 

She would probably tell me that she was ugly and unlovable and that she would never get married and never have children.

"The psychic told me."

I think about this a lot. On several occasions throughout my life I had encounters with people who called themselves psychic. I only paid for a reading once. The others were at parties or friends of friends. Every single one of them, separately told me that I would never marry and never have children and for a long time, this certainly did appear to be the case.

"You have too much karma to sort though honey, "one psychic said, "The Universe has closed off these possibilities for you in this lifetime because you need to work on other things. Maybe in your next life you can find love and experience family. Take comfort in knowing that you've been married and had children in other lifetimes. You just don't remember them."

Well, I guess the Universe changed its mind. Except, I don't like to see myself as lacking the will to change and control the circumstances of my own life. I hate the idea that everything is predestined and we're just here playing out the whims of a higher power; that we have no choice or power to alter our outcomes.

I don't believe the Universe changed its mind and "allowed" me to find love, success and family. I changed my own mind. I was the one preventing myself from finding what I sought and frankly, I was being pushy and impatient about it and the more pushy and impatient I was, the more desperate I felt and the further I set myself back.

I had to put a lot of effort into making myself into someone lovable and someone who would be a worthy partner, because ten years ago, I confess that I wasn't. I was a disaster of neediness, desperation and childhood baggage. I'm still putting effort in now. I have to work as an equal partner in my marriage. I didn't marry a man who'd whisk me away and do everything for me. I married a man who values independence and autonomy in a relationship. He doesn't, thank God, want a partner who can't think and act and decide for herself, and I'm glad for this and I'm not that girl anymore.

I have to put effort into everything - career, writing, teaching, all of it. I am having to put an unbelievable amount of effort and work into starting a family and I know this is just the beginning of that. This is the scariest and most physically and emotionally demanding thing I've ever done and it scares the living hell out of me every second of every day.

But the most important thing here that I'm trying to say is that I did it. I created it myself. Ten years later, I am in control of my life and my own destiny and for that I am so thankful.

Every time I get in the car and hear that Kevin Rudolph song "I Made It" when I hear the part where he sings "I used to dream about the life I'm living now" I always start to cry because I know just how he feels.  I guess he probably means that he used to dream about a life of fame, women, cars, money, expensive cognac and hanging out with Lil Wayne, but all I ever wanted was to love someone who loved me back, to have a family of my own and to be able to accomplish something that I could be proud of.

I know that I can't go back in time and tell my younger self what was in my future, but one of the many reasons why I blog and tell all these stories is because I always hope there are people out there reading who might be going through their own personal disasters, just like what happened to me ten years ago. I would like to tell all of those people that their lives are going to be ok too and that they have the power to make their lives ok, even if it seems right now like they don't. You can change your own life. You can change everything about yourself. You can change every bad habit, break every negative pattern and rid yourself of all your toxic relationships. Lord knows, it isn't usually fun work and it takes time and effort, but you can do it. I did it, so I know.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Overheard in the Millpond Walmart

I have a bad habit of listening to other people's conversations when I'm out in public. I think it's just the writer in me.

Saturday, I was at the Millpond Super Walmart grocery shopping and I heard this conversation between a mother and her daughter. The daughter looked to be a teenager or possibly a little older. The mother was talking politics. Surprisingly, politics are a constant topic of conversation in Millpond, which is full of Birthers and Tea Partiers. They're all mad because they think the blacks and Mexicans have taken over the country and that Obama is the literal Anti-Christ and that he is a Muslim and this is all they talk about.

Mother: I tell ya what I think he's doin. Obama's gonna let them Iranians get a nuke-yoo-ler weapon so they'll destroy us. He's right there in bed with 'em.

Daughter: Mom, it's not nuke-yoo-ler. It's nu-CLEE-ar.

Mother: No it ain't. It's nuke-yoo-ler. That's how real conservatives say it and I'm proud to be a real conservative.

Daughter: But it's spelled N-U-C-L-E-A-R. It's pronounced nu-CLE-ar.

Mother: That's how liberals say it and I told you, I'm a conservative. We say nuke-yoo-ler and I ain't changin' my pronunciation. That's how President George W. Bush said it and that's how I'm sayin' it.

Daugher: Ok Mom. Ok.

See, that's what you get for sending your kids to one of them fancy technical schools.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back from Millpond

I am back from my trip. I didn't get to do every single thing I had imagined, but I packed so much into five days that I am exhausted from what I did do. I really didn't need to do anything else. Most importantly, I got to see everyone I wanted to see and then a couple more people came and surprised me, so everything worked out. I felt great the whole time too and had enough energy and appetite. I had been a little worried about that.

Some of the highlights of my trip were a visit to an Italian Festival where it appeared that New Jersey had exploded onto Northern Delaware, peppering the streets with too much hair product and people who were really inappropriately dressed for a casual street festival. I mean, come on, who in their right mind wears five inch stilettos to a street festival? What is wrong with these women? What happened to Keds and flip-flops? 

I also went on a long drive in the country with Memere Marie and her husband Ray which quickly turned into an Eastern Shore safari of sorts. On that drive I saw the following wildlife in its natural habitat for the most part: an otter, cows and calves, goats and kids, Canada geese and teenage goslings, purple martens, about 785 deer, rabbits, fireflies, turtles, bullfrogs, tadpoles, a bunch of calico kittens and a terrible dog.

I had a negative experience with a dog while on this trip.

While on the long drive, Memere Marie and Ray decided to go see the widow of Ray's best friend who just died. She has a bad case of Alzheimers and is emaciated. She only responds positively to them and they bring her bananas, which is the only thing she will eat. She lives out in the middle of God forsaken nowhere on what was once a big and prosperous farm. Her crazy daughter and the daughter's toothless husband live there and take care of her. It was all a tad too Southern gothic if you ask me.

When we drove up, kitties were everywhere, so I became very excited until I realized they were farm cats and had little interest in me. But they were kittens after all, so I pressed my luck with them. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this filthy, slobbering, flop-eared hound dog comes bounding at me and lunges straight for me, while peeing on itself. Pee was flying everywhere and I had attempted to wear a cute dress for this excursion, as we had just gone out to dinner. I did not want this dog anywhere near me and I couldn't quite tell what its intentions were. I doubled over so the dog wouldn't jump on my stomach, but it got me hard on the right thigh and scratched me and bit me (and got pee on me) and then it grabbed the corner of my dress and attempted to drag me off. I was about near hysterics at this point, hollering and trying unsuccessfully to kick the dog, when thankfully the toothless son-in-law showed up.

I swear to God it was like something out of a movie. Here is this man, who has no idea who I am, trying to figure out if he should let the dog rip me to shreds or if he should save me.


That helped him make his decision. The toothless, and did I mention shirtless and wearing overalls, man picked up the hound dog and locked it in a shed and then, like all rednecks in movies, stood in front of me, smiling toothlessly and staring blankly at me. It was really an awkward moment. He looked me up and down and I looked him up and down and decided that he looked like Ben from "Lost" morphed with Elvis and starring in "Deliverance." 

Then his wife showed up. Now his wife is crazy and always has been. I don't know what exactly ails her, but she was born with it. The wife is also her own kind of southern, freakshow stereotype. She was a scrawny thing with fuzzed out yellow hair, kind of like an oily, baby chick. She stood in this particular slouch with her head hung forward, her eyes pointed upward and her mouth hanging open. One arm hung limply at her side, while the other she bent, crossed over her chest and held the hanging arm right at the elbow. It's the kind of posture that you just look at and go "Yup, somethin' ain't right with this girl."  She also doesn't speak, or at least she didn't speak to me. I couldn't get out of this place fast enough, kittens or not.

The next day I cooked dinner for my other grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousins and I had to go to the Super Walmart because there really aren't many other choices for shopping around there. It became a profoundly disturbing experience and we'll just leave it at that.

Sunday we had my shower and so many people showed up to wish Baby Lawns well. I was sincerely touched and I had so much fun. I'd be lying if I said none of my relatives behaved strangely on this trip, because Lord knows they never disappoint when it comes to strange, but we had a lot of fun. At one point I lined up with several of my female cousins to take a picture and my grandmother called out: "There's gotta be at least 50 pounds of boobs standing there!!"

Several other people implored me to change Baby Lawns's name, which I am not doing. Now mind you, this advice was coming from a bunch of people whose children's names sound like the credits of an X-rated film, so I really didn't take them all too seriously. Memere Marie begged me to rethink and to name Baby Lawns "Lily" and I was like, this is not negotiable. If you wanted a child named Lily you should have named one of your own daughters Lily. Mommom Jewell hated the name at first and said it sounded too plain and old timey for her, but then she decided that it kind of grew on her and was better than Savannah Kaylee Isabella Madison, which is essentially what my cousins all name their daughters.

Best part of the shower though, besides Mommom's 50 pounds of boobs comment, was that one of my beloved childhood friends came and surprised me and that my 89 year old, great aunt has come out of retirement and has generously made Baby Lawns her own sock monkey. These sock monkeys have been a family tradition for three generations now and I know Baby Lawns is the last generation to get one. It means a lot to me for her to be able to have one too.

After the shower I got my wish. Bella and my half sister Chastity took me to Rehoboth Beach. Unfortunately it rained, so we couldn't do much, but we did eat a mess of junk and look in some shops. Still, it was really fun.

The big news in the family, I learned that evening, is that my biological father is getting married. This will be his third wife. The first was my mother, then there was Louise who died two years ago and now this one. She is several years his senior and he met her at church and like all Jesus freaks of their variety, they have decided to be impulsive and get married after barely knowing each other and never having touched. Chastity seemed fairly skeptical about the whole ordeal, but conceded that the woman was at least pretty nice. God bless 'em. I predicted this when Louise died by the way. In fact, I kind of thought he'd have been married several months ago. I didn't know to whom, but I knew he'd remarry fast. Religious fanatics love to get married in a hurry. The good news is that this woman is old so I won't get any more wacky half siblings out of the deal.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Off to Millpond

Today is going to be a travel day for me! I am flying to Philadelphia to see my cousin Bella. She lives outside of Philadelphia. I'll stay with her for two days and then Friday morning she and I are taking a small road trip down to Millpond to stay with Mommom Jewell. My relatives are throwing a shower for Baby Lawns, which should be pretty fun. Oh, and I also didn't mention that in the recent baby boom, my half sister Charity, whom I've met only once at Pop's funeral two years ago, had her baby daughter yesterday afternoon. So now Baby Lawns has a first cousin whom she will also probably never meet until some major relative dies, but whatever.

On Sunday, Bella has promised to give me my greatest wish and take me to Rehoboth Beach so I can eat Thrasher's fries, walk on the boardwalk, play skeeball and relive my fondest childhood memories of summer. I can not wait. You don't even know how excited I am about this.

The next day (Monday), we'll drive back to Philadelphia, I will endeavor to throw the biggest fit possible to make Bella drive me into the city so I can have Capogiro Gelato, and then I will be back at the airport Monday night to fly home.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is some cooler weather. It's only in the 60s there now, according to the Internet anyway and it's about 105 here with the heat index. I'm also looking forward to seeing my relatives, most of whom I never see unless, as I said earlier, someone important dies. I really hope they can all make it to the shower. I don't even want to have a shower to get presents. I was just happy to have created an excuse to get everyone in one place for a celebration. It seemed so common when I was little to have the whole family together having fun, but now it's really rare, which sucks because we really do have such a great time when we gather.

Oh my goodness! I am so excited. My dad just called me and as a special treat, he upgraded me to first class with all of his extra miles!! This is especially exciting because I've only flown first class twice in my life and once was because of an airline error and it was only to Atlanta so it didn't last long enough. The last time was on the way home from a fall trip I took to see Bella in '08 when they upgraded me for miles. It is no secret that flying gives me a heart attack. I despise it. I am a nervous wreck the whole time, but flying first class makes me feel like it is a special occasion and like I'm all fancy. Whenever I fly I always wonder who the people in first class are and if they're famous. I'm going to pretend like I am.

Now, as I've stated before, Internet connections, especially wireless, are tricky in the Millpond area. I will try to write and update as much as I can and I will Twitter the whole time since I can do that from my phone. I can also moderate comments from my phone. When I'm at Bella's I can generally get wireless or I can go set up in a coffee shop near her work and write, so I'll try to do that. Once I get to Millpond it's another story unless I "borrow" from Mommom's neighbors, who may or may not have computers depending on who's renting the units around hers.

Say a prayer that I have a safe, easy flight and that I do not experience any unpleasant irritable bowel situations mid-air (as always seems to be my plight) and I will write again as soon as I can because Lord knows, something strange WILL happen to me in Millpond. It has never disappointed.
Monday, June 07, 2010

Happy Birthday Henry

This photograph has to be the winner of the WTF prize in the Great Scan Project of 2010. My sister found this picture and showed it to me and we were both perplexed and horrified and oddly delighted  by it all at the same time. In this picture is my step-great-grandfather Poppop Henry, who was married to my Mommom Millpond, Memere Marie's mother and my mother's grandmother. I wrote about them in detail once before and you should read about them here before going any further, in case you don't remember about them and their tacky house and pervy paraphernalia. 

So this picture was taken in August of 1982. I guess that was Poppop Henry's birthday, being that the cake says "Happy Birthday Henry." I was not at this gala fete. In August, I was probably already back home with the Hollands after visiting my mother. I think the summer of 82 was the summer when my parents owned a nightclub at the beach and my dad got busted in a drug sting, ended up in jail in another state and my mom took off with me to a trailer in Upstate New York and faked a pregnancy to get sympathy from the prosecutor in my dad's case. Do not even ask. One day I will get the facts straight in that story and write it all down. Every time I try to though, my brain just starts to hurt from it and I can't get a firm enough grasp on the events to recreate them.

But I guess while all this was going on, Poppop Henry was enjoying his birthday party in a local park with a picnic table full of blue crabs and an obviously erotic birthday cake. I wonder where he got such a thing, because trust me, this would be shocking in Millpond today, forget nearly 30 years ago.Would you look at the bush on that thing??

I don't know who his cake-boob devouring partner in crime is. I know he looks like kind of rockabilly, but that's a common look in Millpond even now, and let me tell you, there isn't a hint of irony in it at all. That is just how people are.  This guy could be anyone. We asked my mom and she doesn't recognize the guy. Lord knows who it is because everyone looked like that. Most of the family get-togethers of my childhood resembled conventions of Elvis impersonators. No one recognizes the woman holding the cake either.

Poppop Henry died about ten years after this picture was taken in the summer of 92, when I had just moved to Atlanta. Mommom Millpond went into a nursing home then, where she stayed until her own death in April of 2000. Before Poppop Henry died though, both of them had effectively lost their minds.  Poppop Henry had money, at least by Millpond standards, because he had owned the town junkyard since the mid-1940s and because he never really spent much, unless you count his wind-up adult toys and undressing drinking glass collections. He was a massive hoarder as well.

Poppop Henry claimed to have saved millions of dollars over the years and this was conceivable. He bought his house and cars for cash. The problem was that he was violently paranoid and suspicious. He thought everyone was after his money and he didn't trust banks. Because of this, Poppop buried all of his money, and had for many years, in coffee cans and bundles in the backyard. He had no bank accounts. His death set off a frenzy to rival the Gold Rush. All of my relatives - my mom, Uncle Garble, Uncle Bull and Aunt Kiki, along with Memere Marie spent days tearing apart his house and digging up the yard looking for hidden cash and buried treasure. I wasn't there, but I heard about it. I can only imagine what this event must have been like with all these family members on a mad dash to find those millions and keep their finds hidden from each other.  It lasted days and in the end all they found were some coffee cans full of molded, deteriorated, mud-soaked bills that were almost totally decayed. The money packets that weren't in coffee cans had disintegrated to worthlessness. All those years, all those supposed millions saved up all ended up amounting to no more than a chicken and dumpling dinner when added up, so no one got anything. Memere Marie sold the house and cars and that money went to keeping Mommom Millpond in a nice nursing home for the next eight years. I think I made out the best.  They sent me a jewelry box full of Mommom Millpond's costume jewelry, things like gaudy beads and huge brooches. I love that kind of stuff. Memere Marie kept the real jewels and this Christmas, she sent me my great grandmother's pearls - a double strand with an emerald and diamond clasp. Besides my wedding rings, it is the most precious and beautiful piece of jewelry I own.

Sometimes I think though, wow, what if Poppop Henry hadn't been nuts. What if he'd saved those supposed millions in the bank, had gotten interest. What if we'd all inherited a piece of his savings? What might I have done with a couple hundred thousand back in the early 90s? What direction might my life have taken? Mostly, when I think about it, I conclude that it's better all that money rotted in the ground. We probably would have all blown it a long time ago.
Sunday, June 06, 2010

Welcome to the World Baby Eyebrow

My mother did not get her greatest wish. She did not get to see Jasmine's baby being born. They got to Austin last night. Jasmine was in the hospital already and intended to do a whole natural birth. My mom got to be with her through parts of the labor, but it lasted forever and then they realized the baby was tangled up in the cord and was stuck, which is why it was taking so long. They had to do an emergency C-section, so my mother wasn't allowed to be there. I don't know if she is satisfied or not. But Jasmine is fine and her baby is fine, except for the name she gave him.

I confess that I generally disapprove of the names most people give their children these days, although I don't say anything because it is none of my business and I know that. I really do not like the name Jasmine chose for her son. Sometimes, I wish people, like Jasmine, would realize that the names they bestow on their offspring can really hold them back in life. I always had a sense of the whole "high-end/ low-end" name thing which they talk about in the book Freakonomics (interesting read by the way). If you haven't read the book, there's a chapter that basically states the obvious about names. A person's name can often be a strong indicator of social class and as such, a child can really be harshly judged based on his or her name. Sometimes these prejudices can affect a person's success in life. Not always, but often. Sometimes names start off as high-end, more prestigious names and then drop to low-end names. My own name is suffering this fate I think. When I write and I name characters or re-name actual people to protect their identities, I often take the whole high-end/ low-end thing into consideration too. I think it's an important thing for writers, as well as parents to be aware of. Jasmine named her child a super, low-end name which will ensure that he gets made fun of for the rest of his life, though I am not without hope that it can be overcome.

Still, it's not as bad as the name I encountered at a baby shower last summer. I went to my friend Angelina's shower. She was pregnant with twins, whom she has since had and given respectable names. At the shower there was another girl who was also pregnant. She knew she was having a boy and she and her husband had chosen to name the child after a band. Now, due to the powers of google, I will not write out the whole name, but suffice to say, it rhymes with Fred Kreppelin. First name and middle name. Yeah. This troubled me greatly.

Last week, I saw Star the massage girl. Star is also pregnant. At the moment I know exactly ten pregnant women (and counting probably). There seems to be some kind of freakish baby boom going on. Anyway, Star the massage girl has the exact same due date as me. She just found out she is having a boy. She has elected to name this child a name that rhymes with Moxie but starts with an H instead of an M. (Again google). There is so much wrong with that name that I don't know where to even begin. I am alarmed at this name.

And then there's the fact that I have at least fifteen friends right now with daughters named Isabella, which is a lovely name, but I can't keep track of all of these Isabellas anymore. Same goes for Sophia, which is also beautiful, but just entirely too popular these days. I just have to add, on the Sophia trend here, that I was so ahead of the times. When I was little, and we're talking in '81 or '82 here, I named my Barbie doll Sophia.

After all the Isabellas, Sophias and Madisons, I have noticed another disturbing trend in child naming. There seems to be a specific formula and I have cracked the code.

If you are having a female child, you take the suffix "ailey" and add any letter of the alphabet as a prefix. You get extra points for creative spellings. It, of course, doesn't need to be spelled "ailey" as long as it sounds like "ailey." You can spell it "aylee", "aylie", "ailee" or even "aye'leigh" if you are so inclined. Again, points for creativity. Now, if you don't like "ailey" with any single letter of the alphabet, you can also come up with a combination of letters for the prefix like "Br", "Ch" or whatever you think sounds most likely to be the name of a character on a soap opera. Now, before you use this formula to name your daughter please heed this dire warning. There is a serious caveat. If your daughter's name ends with "ailey" or anything sounding like that but with a more creative spelling, please understand that there is an unusually high risk that this child is going to end up the victim of a grisly kidnapping and/ or murder, possibly committed by you, your boyfriend or a sex offender that you knew was living in your neighborhood but let your child play with anyway. I noticed this unsettling trend while watching Nancy Grace. Just watch her show for one week and you will see exactly what I mean. I am not joking.

Of course you could do the safer thing and just have a boy. There's a parallel trend for naming baby boys too. The formula is exactly the same as above, except the male equivalent suffix is "aiden" or any other possible creative spelling that could be construed to sound like "aiden." Again, start with a single letter prefix and if you aren't satisfied, start combining letters and see what you get. In naming boys, extra points are given if you can somehow fit a Z or an X into the name somewhere. These letters can even be silent. They just need to be in there to count. And breathe a sigh of relief. Your "aiden" variation won't be in the same danger as the "aileys." I don't have an explanation for this though.

Urban legends abound about dreadful child names. We've all heard them. We've also all heard about movie stars who give their kids stupid names too, though I've always kind of thought "Apple" was a cute name. The examples I give are real and here are some of the absolute worst. I have a friend who is a second grade teacher. She has a sweet, darling little girl in her class who is named Jealousy. Imagine the life this child is going to have. How could a mother do that to a child? There are two girls who work at my Winn Dixie and one is named Brunette and the other is named Baritone. I kind of get Brunette, as it is french and she is Haitienne and I think the name might sound different to a creole speaker and possibly have a different connotation (I think a direct translation into English would be like Brownie, which is unfortunate), but Baritone confuses me greatly. A baritone singer is a man, right? I have often kept myself up at night wondering what this girl's name means and how she got it. I tell myself there has to be a story behind it and I would love to know what it is.

But before I go sounding all judgy judgy (which I already have) I would like to add that I never say anything to my friends or acquaintances about what they chose to name their children, no matter how "original" they get. People have different tastes and different reasons for naming their kids and I should stay out of it.

I myself am not innocent in this and I myself have lately been the target of some criticism for what we have chosen to name Baby Lawns, so I know how it feels. Her name is very old fashioned and not popular anymore. It's not in the top 100, though it once was about 90 years ago. We think the name is pretty, but many people think it's outdated and weird and tell us so. Someone even said that her name is a terrible insult in Northern Ireland, so I just hope she never goes there. But we aren't giving Baby Lawns her name to be cool or hip or trendy or to attempt to make her the most popular girl in her class. We aren't even giving her this name to make her unique or original. We're naming her after her great-grandmother who was dearly loved and is very missed and we are doing this so she will have a connection to her heritage and so that the memory of a cherished woman can live on in her. Also, we think the name is beautiful, as I said, and if it counts for anything, the name is pretty hip in Israel these days.

Besides, I predicted a while ago that old people names will soon make a huge comeback. Hipsters are already naming their kids Henry and Ruby in droves and pretty soon I'll bet we'll see gaggles of Orvilles, Harveys, Harolds, Normans and Leons playing with a giggling pack of Ednas, Ediths, Peggys, Joans and Doris's. It will happen people. Mark my words. 

In the meantime, I will inwardly cringe at some of the things people come up with to name their children, but I won't say anything about it to them, because I understand that people do have their reasons. Even Jasmine. And ultimately what matters is that the children are happy, safe, healthy and loved and I'm sure Jasmine's son will be.

(Ok, but honestly, JEALOUSY??? Most strippers wouldn't even call themselves that one. I can't not judge. I can't.)

But welcome to the world Eyebrow Baby. May your parents not decide that it would be cute to shave lines in your fuzzy little cap of hair, because that would not be cute at all and may you make the absolute best of your name. May you make it your own.
Friday, June 04, 2010

A Development in the Broken Dock Light Scandal

Well it appears that there may be more to the story of Lupo Lama's broken dock light than it originally appeared. Last weekend, at our fundraiser, it was assumed that the SS Golden Shower somehow broke our next door neighbor's dock light as it pulled in or out. My parents were just going to apologize profusely and then pay for whatever repairs were needed.

Turns out that perhaps the Golden Shower isn't to blame after all. It could be a case of vandalism. Dunh Dunh Dunnnn.

And who would the vandal in question be? Vinny Succatella.

Vinny Succatella and Lupo Lama have had some friction in the past. It seems that last summer, Vinny met Lupo Lama while he was visiting my parents (probably with 25 other people and totally unannounced) and saw some fresh prey - a rich, crazy old man with a house decorated after Caesar's Palace and a taxidermied lion. Vinny suckered Lupo into a scammy stock deal by wining and dining him. When the deal ended (badly I am just assuming) Vinny pretended like he didn't know Lupo anymore.

During their initial honeymoon period though, Lupo rented an apartment for his daughter that Vinny owned. So Vinny ended up being Lupo's daughter's landlord. Last month though, Lupo's daughter decided that she no longer wanted to live there and in fact, wanted to up and move to Italy, which she did quite abruptly. So she broke her lease, which was in her father's name and also paid for by her father. 

Vinny suddenly reappeared demanding his remaining rent. Lupo refused to pay. An argument ensued. Turns out there was never a signed or written contract. Vinny was livid. Lupo feels the score is now even. They have managed to now rip one another off.

So last weekend, word is that Vinny went missing briefly during the party. Lupo Lama, though invited to the party, never showed up and shut himself with all of the metal hurricane shutters barring every door and window. Somehow, after Vinny went missing from the party for a little while, Lupo Lama's patio furniture ended up in his pool (we didn't know about this until the other day) and the dock light got broken.

It was Vinny who told everyone that he saw the Golden Shower hit the dock light. Very fishy. Now Lupo Lama has declared war on Vinny Succatella.  I can't wait to see how this ends up with these two fools.  Don't you just love some good, trashy South Florida petty feuding?

The Bus Has Left

Summer is officially here. Yesterday my parents left for their annual summer RV excursion and Husband and I moved, temporarily, into their house. We are currently searching for our own house and lord knows when we'll find that. My husband doesn't have quite the sense of urgency as I do about the whole moving to a bigger place thing, but I'll be damned if I'm keeping Baby Lawns in a dresser drawer in my apartment or, worse yet, living in my parents' house when they are actually here in it.

This summer my parents are headed to Austin, Texas where, inexplicably, The Eyebrow People have moved. Remember them? They are from upstate New York, but have relocated to Austin. Personally, I'd much rather live in Austin than Buffalo too, so I don't need much explanation for their move. You may also recall that Jasmine, one the eyebrow guys' girlfriends, was pregnant. Well, she is still pregnant, but not for much longer. My parents have gone to Austin to attend the birth of this child and by attend, I mean literally, like be there in the delivery room watching this child be born. This is because my sister and I refuse to allow anyone other than our husbands with us when our children are born and my mother feels that seeing the actual, gory, bloody, vaginal expulsion of a child is the penultimate human experience. I say watch Baby Story if you must. My mother is pissed that my sister and I want to keep this event private, but we are adamant. Jasmine, on the other hand, doesn't care who sees things flying out of her vajean and so my mother, I guess, is finally going to get her life's greatest wish.

My mother's child birth fantasy comes from the fact that she did not see my birth when she had me because she was asleep. I have never in my life heard of a woman being put under to deliver a child, but I was born in Millpond after all and practically delivered by a livestock veterinarian. I even asked my grandmother, who delivered twins in 1950 and she told me she was awake, but mildly etherized, so I have no idea why my mother would have been put completely under anesthesia when I was not even a C-section. Who knows. It was the same doctor who mistakenly listed my blood type as common, harmless O+ when it is, in fact, the more complicated A-.  Thank Jesus I never needed a transfusion.

But my mother feels like because she was asleep when I was born (probably in a barn) that she missed out on the miracle of birth and delivery and that she needs to re-experience it through someone else. I am so thankful that Jasmine is allowing her this joy so that I will be off the hook. I feel very strongly that no one else be there and at this point, I don't even know how Baby Lawns is going to get out of me yet. I often picture that scene from Aliens, but I don't want to think about it right now because whenever I do, I break out into a cold sweat. My sister, the half marathon runner, is doing the whole natural thing. She's intense and physically tougher than I am. I'm going to shoot up black tar heroin if I have to. Why is it that babies are so much fun to get in there, but so scary and painful to get out? It seems so unfair.

But I don't want an audience to my crotch, or to my intestines if that ends up being the case. In fact, I don't even want to look at it myself. Clean the baby, give her to me and let me go home and drink a damned Diet Coke. God, how I want a diet soda. 

Before I digress any further, my parents are headed to Austin for the birth of Jasmine's baby and they will be there for possibly a month. They have taken Sam, their houseboy, with them. Remember Sam, the aspiring actor who moved in with them? Remember how his alter-ego, a part he played on a talk show, became more popular than his actual self?  All that? Sam went with them to Texas on the RV. He just got back from LA where he got a part in a pilot with Richard Grieco. What ever happened to him? I can't believe he's still around. I wonder if Sam will see Jasmine's baby being born too. Probably. Unless he's filming that pilot with Richard Grieco in LA.

I know there are some readers from Austin. Be on the lookout for my parents. You can't miss them. Big bus, blonde hair extensions, a guy who looks like Matthew McConaughey, my dad and his hipster shoes, a big Doberman and a feisty minpin. I don't think they'll stand out excessively in Austin though. I mean, the place is known for being weird, so they might end up wanting to move there. They changed their minds about Asheville. I'm predicting that Austin will suit their sensibilities much better. I'd live there myself.  Austin readers, please pass along suggestions in the comments section for site-seeing, shopping, especially baby shopping, live music and eating and I'll make sure my parents get them. They've never been there and would like to experience the best of the city.

So my parents finally got out of here last night and Husband and I proceeded to move in. We got Canela and she was overjoyed to be back in her second home. She loves it here and immediately rubbed her face all over everything and began looking for lizards that might have come inside. 

I got a bad night's sleep because I woke up and was disoriented, having forgotten where I was. I hate when that happens. Then I had insomnia. After that Canela stood on top of me and would not stop touching my face with her poop digging paw. It's very endearing how she does that to wake me up, and her paw is just like velvet, but God, she digs in poo and I was trying to go to sleep. It got annoying. Turned out, she wanted to go outside, but that was not an option and never has been, so I don't know why she felt compelled to wake me up to ask me if hey, even though she's been an indoor cat, could we change that policy right now at 4am. Please? Come on.

In all the commotion, I decided to not take my anti-nausea medicine last night. I take half a pill once a day and that does the trick. Do not get on my case for it. I thought maybe the nausea would be gone. Maybe I've been taking the pill unnecessarily. Surely I could skip it now, right?

Big giant WRONG. Dammit all.

I woke up this morning as sick and miserable as before. I guess I am going to be one of those people who pukes the whole time. Now I have to suffer through it all day because the pill knocks me out so badly that I can only take it at night and if I take it now, I can't take it tonight and then the whole schedule is messed up. Jeez. I guess I better go get a 32 ounce Slurpee and freeze my digestive tract into submission and wait for night to fall for relief.  But a 32 ounce Slurpee sounds pretty gross too. Jamba Juice? Nothing sounds good.  Since March, I've kept a running list of random things that made me vomit. I might share. One item was Guy Fieri.

Ughh. I think I'm going to lie in bed and read all day. Hopefully I won't need a trash can next to the bed.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Summer Reading

Coincidentally, a few people have asked me for reading suggestions lately and one of them was on Twitter, so I decided to list a couple here and then ask you guys for ideas too. I like to share ideas. I find more new things, from books and music, to films and restaurants even, just by asking people for their different ideas. I just love that about the Internet. I also love the whole idea of summer reading and summer reading lists. It seems so vacationy and fun.

Many of you know that I am in a book club. We've had it going for at least five years now. Actually I think more like six or seven because I was in it before I got married. I love book club because each member is very different and we all have unique styles and tastes, so I get exposed to a wider range of reading materials than I otherwise would and then I get to discuss it with people who have different perspectives. Grad school totally ruined me. Because my degree is in writing, I was taught to focus on how a piece is written technically, over things like symbolism, characterization, plot content, etc. I used to look at that stuff; hell, I used to just read a story for what happened in it and be entertained, but now I'm all about word choice and artistry of language crap. But in book club, once again, I am reminded that books can just be fun, or informative and that its ok to talk about the characters as if they were real people.

This month, we are reading (my choice!) White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I need to get started, being that I chose it and all, so I can't give you a review just yet. We are also reading two classic short stories which come in one book - The Necklace and The Pearls. I remember reading The Necklace in high school and liking it.

Last month we read A Reliable Wife.  Now this book is a bestseller. Bye Bye Pie's book club read it too. I found it to be a little trashy and along the lines of the stuff Mommom Jewell reads and which I used to get into when I stayed at her house and discovered her stash of steamy bodice rippers under her bed. It was entertaining enough, if a little contrived and definitely sordid.

The best book we read this year was Olive Kitteridge, which won the Pulitzer last year. I really, really loved this book and it gave me a little more compassion and understanding for some of the more difficult people in my life after I read it. It was also beautifully written. I loved the language.

In addition to book club, I read a lot of other stuff, especially when I'm not teaching, because I have more time. I really love reading and always have and sometimes I can go through books very quickly.

A friend lent me Pictures At An Exhibition, which I thought I would hate, but ended up enjoying because I learned a lot from it. It focused on a world I know little about and that interested me. It's about what happened to many art collections in Paris during and after WWII.

The most recent book I bought was Aimee Bender's latest novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Now, I worship Aimee Bender. I love everything the woman has ever written. I did a school project on her, I love her so much. If you've never heard of her, immediately start reading her. She writes a lot of short stories, so they're a good introduction to her work and all of her writing is quirky, edgy, whimsical, a little sexy and a whole lot magical. There is just no one else like her. Her stories are like modern day fairy tales. She is one of my favorites writers of all time. I haven't read the new book yet. I'm saving it for when I get done with White Teeth.

I've read a few more things lately, but these have been my very favorites. I hope you'll take some of my suggestions and enjoy them as much as I did.

Now tell me what you're all reading this summer or recent books you've loved. I'll be out of ideas soon and other readers will appreciate your suggestions too.

Happy books!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Memorial Day BBQ

I am just exhausted from the weekend and I think I won't eat BBQed anything for quite a while. My hair still reeks of smoke! But hey, I accomplished my goal of learning how to smoke meat. I can do it and something about knowing my way around a smoker makes me feel like a real woman. I think it's kind of hot to know how to smoke meat.

As I had mentioned before, my Uncle, the political activist, came down from Millpond to throw a fundraiser at my parents' house for his charity, which gives money and necessities directly to wounded soldiers and their families at Walter Reed hospital. Someone mentioned in the comments that Walter Reed is closing and I asked my uncle and he said he doesn't think it will close anytime soon, but if it does, then he will move his operation to Bethesda if they will let him, which he thinks they will. For now though, the hospital is open and there are a lot of injured people, mostly kids, who could use some help, so we wanted to do what we could. Certainly, living down here in South Florida, we know a bunch of rich fools whom we hoped would be willing to shell out for something a little more meaningful than the newest monstrosity of a Louis Vuitton bag or a day at the mall for the latest Brazilian trophy wife.

This was our first attempt at a fundraiser and we learned some valuable lessons from it so that next time, we think we can improve upon things. Overall we had a nice evening. The food was great, cooked by my uncle, and a local diner donated several pies, cupcakes and brownies for dessert. We invited everyone we knew and told them to invite whomever they wanted. This might have been a mistake. 

We had about 150 guests and raised $3,000.00. We had honestly hoped for more, considering how much money many of these guests waste on a regular basis, but we were happyStill, I'm a little disappointed because a lot of the people who came were just low class users and leeches looking for a party with free food and booze and had zero interest in donating anything.

But they weren't the only guests. Most of the neighbors came, a local politician showed up because he's running for office right now, and most of our more decent, normal friends made appearances as well.

Of course there were a bunch of Brazilian hookers led by Gabriella K. You may remember her. I've been writing about her skin tight leopard print outfits for years. She was once married to the man who introduced my husband and I, but she fleeced him and divorced him and then took off with her divorce attorney. He beat her up, they had an on again off again thing for a couple years and she started working for the neighborhood Madam Velva Haux, flying up to the DC area to bed politicians. She slinks her way around town in five inch clear heels, stopping in at every party she can find, along with four or five of her clones. They scout out the crowd for rich old men and then leave early if they don't find any new blood. 

Vinny Succatella, that scumbag, also made a grand entrance with a tiny, silent Asian girl on his arm. You might remember him from the "birthday" party he decided to throw at my parents' house last November in which there were fireworks and a white horse in the front yard. Remember that disaster? I haven't seen him since the "birthday" party, in which I am loathe to confess my extreme enjoyment of the white horse. In just six short months, Vinny seems to have 1. managed to make himself look, act and sound even more like Pauly Shore than he did before and 2. meet, date and marry a tiny, silent Asian girl who is actually very pretty and possibly twelve years old. Don't ask me. She never unhooked herself from his arm the whole night while he strolled around, coked out and twitching, with an empty bottle of Perrier Jouet in his free hand. All night he told everyone who would listen that just last week he had his appendix out and then he tried to rope them into investing into his latest shady stock deal which probably involves a company that doesn't actually exist.  I can probably guess how much Vinny donated. You can probably guess how much I can't stand him.

I'm equally not fond of Big Nort, our resident VH1 reality star who is now only loosely disguised, being that he was on TV and all. Or at least he was until his roommate hacked up a stripper and threw her in a dumpster because of course I would have only one degree of separation from something like that.

Big Nort, I believe, in his own contorted way, means well, but he just hangs around such unbelievably low class people and brings them over. I don't think he knows they are low class. There are some people who believe that class has to do with the amount of money one has, but it really doesn't at all. There are profoundly low class, trashy, filthy human beings with a lot of money. These are all Big Nort's friends and he brought some to the party and yes they may be stinking rich, but they are also vile and skeezy. Because you know, things like porn, white collar crime, drug dealing and gambling can make a lot of money.

Early in the evening a huge yacht, which I christened the SS Golden Shower, decided to pull up and dock in our backyard, but the boat was too big for our slip and overlapped into Lupo Lama's yard and knocked a light off of one of his pilings. Not ok. Remember, Lupo is the crazy neighbor who, in January, married a woman who looks like a blow up doll? You can read all about that wedding in the January archives.

Once the Golden Shower docked, the full cast of all three Austin Powers films stepped off and proceeded to crash our Memorial Day Fundraiser. This was more not ok than the massive yacht breaking Lupo Lama's dock light. 

The owner of the Golden Shower is an apparently wealthy fool who inherited several hundred million dollars, has never functioned in any normal capacity in his entire life, and who looks exactly like Austin Powers. For someone with so much in his offshore accounts, one would think he could have found a toupee that didn't look like a rust colored, shag carpet toilet seat cover, circa 1970. Captain Shower also wore huge, 70s style, gold framed glasses with rose colored lenses. 

Mrs. Shower wasn't much better. She was tall and scrawny, high on something and needed her roots done. She had somehow jammed herself into a mini skirt several sizes too small and her makeup was running all over her face. Her eyes went in every direction except what she was trying to look at and she wobbled like a bobble-head doll.

The rest of the boat people (at least 30 of them) consisted of hookers, trannies and dirty old men. It was a hot mess and a half and of course Big Nort had invited them all. And of course they didn't donate a cent.

At one point Husband overheard a conversation between one of the dirty old men and Captain Showers that went like so.

DOM - Are we going to stay here all night? 

CS - No, of course not. We're going to the fetish party.

DOM - Oh, no I didn't bring my outfit.

CS - Not to worry. We have a whole closet full of costumes on the boat.

DOM - Oh thank God because I can't go to the fetish party without my leather.

So. Yeah.

Does it surprise you one iota that Gabriella K. and her troop of gold diggers left shortly thereafter on this boat?

Nothing surprises me anymore.

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