Thursday, July 29, 2010

Things I Would Say at My High School Reunion

First of all, my attendance at my high school reunion would be preceded by at least one of the following scenarios:
  • Being kidnapped, hog-tied, and driven there at gunpoint
  • Being tied to the leg of a team of wild horses who drug me there
  • Being abducted by aliens, frozen cryogenically, and left to thaw on the buffet table there
And secondly, my willingness to say anything at all would have to be preceded by a heavy dose of truth serum, injected intravenously, leaving a bitter metallic aftertaste in my mouth. Fifteen minutes after the injection, standing disheveled atop the poorly catered buffet table, I would have no physical capacity to do anything but look out over the crowd of my aging classmates and acknowledge a few of them as they stand and stare and wonder who I am. I would say:

"I didn't recognize you without your hair."

"I didn't recognize you without your flat chest."

"I didn't recognize you drunk."

"I didn't recognize you sober."

"Was it sad when you realize that you peaked in high school?"

"I saw you on the news. And not in the good way."

"Have you been visited in the night by three spirits yet or are we still waiting for that?"

"I always wanted to tell you that your sewing projects were terrible."

"Congratulations on your early prison release and those seven illegitimate children."

"They let you into medical school? Was it an online medical school?"

"If only you had applied the same ruthless ambition to your career as you did to ruin my life, you might have actually become somebody."

I would say those things because the first phase of truth serum is the revelation of petty truths. You know, all the little accurate jabs we keep locked behind clenched teeth. I don't condone spouting out petty truths. It isn't helpful or attractive. Stay away from truth serum, that's what I say. Especially in a crowd.

The next phase of truth serum reveals itself with sad truths. They are pathetic in nature. This is what they would sound like coming out of my pathetic mouth:

"I am jealous of people who loved high school."

"I feel robbed of a normal high school experience."

"I am constantly surprised when people refer to their 'dear high school friends'. It seems like such an oxymoron to me."

"What did I ever do to you?"

"High School Musical makes me feel bad about myself."

Helpful Hint: If you're going to take a forced dose of IV truth serum in front of your high school reunion, be sure and arrange some violin music to play in the background. 

Don't be nervous about what would happen next. The third and final phase of truth serum would not be as humiliating for me or my audience. The third phase is the actual truth, born of perspective, time and maturity. The actual truth is cleansing. It would climb out of my throat, stretch its arms in the light of day, marvel at its freedom and say:

"None of this matters anymore, actually. Even though I just said a bunch of petty things, I don't hate any of you or wish you ill will. When it comes right down to it, I actually wish you well. I hope, if you were one of the people who was cruel to me, that you have changed. For the sake of the people in your life, I hope you are a better person now. The world needs better people. I have decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. I can accept that you were young, without comprehension, believing that your actions were harmless. It's the plague of youth, I guess. And I can accept that I may have viewed some of you unfairly, interpreting your standing by as cowardly. Perhaps you truly didn't know.

"But maybe in the years since then, you've lived a little more and seen more of life's darker hallways. Maybe you've learned about disappointment and sorrow. Maybe you lost a job, a dream, a someone. Maybe one day you found a lump. Maybe one day you found God. Maybe you watched a lot of Dr. Phil."

"I don't know, and--I mean this in the nicest possible way--I don't care. Not at all. I have a good life. I have health and family and love. I make excellent chocolate chip cookies and chicken curry that's as warm and comforting as a mother's hug. I have a collection of red shoes. I like who I am. I wish you the same."

At this point, the kidnappers/wild horses/aliens would release me to return back to my life. I would climb off the table and slowly make my way to the double doors dimly lit by an exit sign. Before disappearing forever, I would use up the last of the truth juice flowing in my veins, turn around and simply say:

"But that doesn't mean I want to be your friend on facebook."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Time for Plan B

I have blogger's Alzheimer's disease.
It's in the early stages.
I'm pretty sure that I have a blog.
I'm pretty sure that I used to blog.
But I can't for the life of me remember how to blog.
So far, I have tried a few home remedies:
Eating tacos
Online shopping
Non-stop work
The home remedies are not working.

Time for Plan B.
(Drumroll, please.)

Choose Your Own Blog Post returns!
(You choose the topic, I write the post.)

Fun with Senior Citizens


Things I Would Say at My High School Reunion

Voting commences now in the comments section. 
Majority rules, because this is America.

Friday, July 23, 2010

He Was Very Reluctant About the Hat


I lucked out with this one, I did. 
He's pretty spectacular: Heart of gold. Wits of steel. Brain of ginkgo biloba.


(Even though he apparently has a little bit of hillbilly DNA.) 
(Must come from Ryan's side.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5-Minute Poetry at Almost Midnight


Sometimes I feel heavy.
A heavy heavy that is different from the heavy I feel
when I eat too many chips with salsa
before my two tacos
and refried beans
and guacamole
and a few bites of my kid's quesadilla,
making the walk to the car from the Mexican restaurant
a series of remorseful, thick steps.
The heavy I mean is the kind of heavy
that wraps around my heart,
sinking it down into my gut
like a rusty anchor.
It pulls down my shoulders, my chin,
the corners of my mouth,
and leaks the inside out in tiny, teary streams.
Sometimes I feel heavy
because I am cruel.
Sometimes I feel heavy
because life is cruel.
And sometimes I feel heavy
because someone else is feeling heavy too.
Heaviness is contagious that way.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Cold, Hard Truth


SODA #1: Can I ask you something?

SODA #2:  Sure.

SODA #1: Promise to be totally honest?

SODA #2: Of course. You have my word.

SODA #1: Do you think I'm too big for this can?

SODA #2: Nooo!

SODA #1: Seriously, does this can make me look fat? I mean, you and I have worn the same size can forever, but it seems like I've gotten a little pudgy lately, you know, since I broke up with Dr. Pepper. Do you think I need to move up to a size liter?

SODA #2: No, not at all. You're totally workin' the 12-ounce. It gives you a chance to show off those curves.

SODA #1: Are you sure? I seriously feel so self-conscious, like I'm about to pop out of it or something.

SODA #2: Stop being so paranoid! I mean, like I'd be careful if you go dancing, but otherwise you're fine.

SODA #1: For real? You don't think I look ridiculous?

SODA #2: Whatevs! You're the bomb.

SODA #1: Like, serious?

SODA #2: For sure.

SODA #1: You're the best bestie a soda could ever have.

SODA #2: Awwww. Ditto.

By the way, check out my guest post over at No Biggie today. I'm sharing my famous punch recipe. You're gonna love it. Thanks to Kami for the opportunity!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Deep Thought Poetry

Lil' Goober

A "little tiff" means a petty quarrel. 
It also means a petite person named Tiffany 
(or a child named Tiffany). 
It should interest you to know that when I
at five-foot-one-and-a-half-inches tall
get into a petty quarrel with someone, 
I immediately have the upper hand
(being a little Tiff in a little tiff). 

I don't take that kind of power lightly, 
so I avoid getting into petty quarrels. 
And I also wear heels a lot.

If I ever give up peace-making
and pursue a career as a rapper, 
I will obviously be known as Li'l Tiff
My debut album: Petty Quarrels
Or, perhaps: A Slight Fit of Annoyance
Either way, it's gonna be fly, yo!

I know, I know, stick to writing catalogs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Simple But Spectacular

I think we're at the point in our relationship where I let my guard down and reveal something intensely personal. That's right, my summer corn salad recipe.

Last summer I haphazardly threw this salad together, tasted it, did a double-take, and then ate it all with a giant serving spoon. Then, I proceeded to make it at least three times a week until summer was over, giant serving spoon at the ready.

And now it's time to share it with you. It's okay, you don't have to say anything. I can see the happy tears. You've given me so much. The least I can give you is an amazing corn salad.

Summer Corn Salad

4 fresh ears of corn on the cob
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup feta or blue cheese, crumbled
1 handful fresh chives, chopped

Cut kernals directly off cob and place in a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Eat with a giant serving spoon.

Hint: You can mix this up a zillion different ways. Use any cheese you like and basically any fresh herbs. It's really hard to screw up.

It's simple but spectacular. Kind of like our relationship, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fun with Max and Mom

Max wasn't very happy about the to-do list I gave him this morning. It included reading two chapters of a book, and then writing a short story. He protested immediately, and I tried to explain that he needs to keep up on his reading and writing during the summer or else his brain will turn into mush and start oozing out of his ears. And if that happens, I explained lovingly, he will die.

Reading + Writing = Not Dying

I sat down to read with him, but he quickly became annoyed when I offered help. I tried to give him a few sound hints, and he huffed and puffed and let me know that I was "blowing it." Fifteen minutes later, we parted ways on page 8.

Next, he stomped around to find a piece of paper and pen. He scribbled in the middle and wrote, "Hi. Good-by!" and submitted it to me with a frown.

"Try again," I said. "You could write a story about old ladies." (Max uses old ladies as the punch line to almost all of his jokes and stories.) He rolled his eyes and walked away.

A while later, he tossed another story at me with a scowl:

old ladys atkt the world
the polies cild them.
The end.

Two can play this game. "I love it, Max," I said. "This is really funny."


Then he stomped in the other room and ironically slumped into the Time Out chair.

You know, one of the most important things we can do as mothers is make summer miserable for our children. My work today is done.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Give Me a Lazy Summer or Give Me Death

It's time for somebody to check the cruise control on the axis of our planet. It's going a wee bit too fast for my liking, and I think I speak for many when I demand that we slow things down a bit. It's July 11 already, when, according to my calculations, it should only be June 22.

Where is the lazy summer I've been expecting?

I need more time to sit by the pool, estimating when I should reapply sunscreen.

I need more time to marvel at fireflies.

I need more time to narrow down my favorite ice cream flavors.

I need more time to watch boring, summer re-run TV.

I need more time to take self-portraits with my webcam.

Speaking of portraits, self and otherwise, Ryan and I ventured to the post office last week to apply for our passports. When it was my turn to have my photo taken, I zhuzhed my hair a bit with my fingers and sat down in the chair with a big smile. The no-nonsense postal worker, Leroy, told me to sit back in the chair further. Then he told me that I didn't need to smile and show teeth. In fact, he said, most people don't smile at all. He waited for me to drab it down a few notches and said, "There's no need to vogue."

Needless to say, Ryan was rolling his eyes so far into the back of his head that he sprained his cornea. He will never let me live this one down. I know this because he brings it up at least three times daily, and  then does an over-exaggerated impression of me, batty eyes and everything.

I'm sorry if I care about making a good impression internationally. I didn't know it was discouraged.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Remember...

I remember the flannel sheets on my childhood bed---rows of farm animals and picket fences.
I remember the summer we had a soda machine stocked with Shasta for 25 cents.
I remember the time I poured a Shasta fruit punch on my neighbor Richard and he fruit punched me right in the face.
I remember that Richard got in trouble more than I did.
I remember playing kickball in the street with the crowd of neighborhood kids when the sun went down and there was no threat of school tomorrow.
I remember the summer I watched M*A*S*H every night with my brother John.
I remember driving with my dad to California for a relative's funeral. I had just turned sixteen and he let me drive for hours and hours.
I remember when my mom was going through menopause and how badly I wanted her to return to her normal self, to return to us.
I remember going to B&D burgers with my church friends and our coach after a ball game. I wrote a silly poem on a napkin. My coach read it and said, "You're a writer!"
I remember thinking, "I am?"
I remember asking my sister Leslie to borrow her clothes.
I remember her mostly saying no.
I remember wishing I had clothes that she would want to borrow to give me a little leverage.
I remember thinking that leverage would help in a lot of things.
I remember playing Mario Brothers for hours at my friend Robyn's house.
I remember watching Saved by the Bell at every opportunity, even though I swore it was the stupidest show on TV.
I remember memorizing the phone numbers of friends.
I remember the cracks in the cement in our driveway.
I remember Magnum P.I., The A-Team, MacGuyver, and Remington Steele, the shows we watched with my dad.
I remember the deliciousness of ramen noodles.
I remember cleaning the house on Saturday mornings.
I remember the view from the roof of our house and the grip of the shingles under my feet.
I remember the epic messes I made in my bedroom and not knowing where to start to clean them up.
I remember bossing around my little brothers and secretly wishing they liked me.
I remember waiting for phone calls on Wednesdays or Thursdays from neighbors needing babysitters on Friday or Saturday night.
I remember the cool, dark basement and our first fat black TV remote control.
I remember examining the bump on my nose for hours in the bathroom mirror and wishing it away.
I remember my sister April's room, a forbidden land with dark wood paneling. Sometimes I'd sneak in and stand there, just to see what it was like.
I remember getting my period. I was horrified and hoped for a speedy death.
I remember cramps.
I remember our stackable kitchen chairs with chrome trim and brown woven upholstery.
I remember my mom's 9 x 13 metal pan with the sliding lid, our family name written in permanent marker.

What do you remember?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Complicated Relationship with Redbox

I have a love/hate relationship with Redbox.

I love family entertainment for $1.

I hate remembering to return the DVD before it becomes $2, $3, or $9 entertainment.

I love scrolling through the screens, finding something interesting to watch.

I hate scrolling through the screens, finding nothing but old Nicholas Cage films.

I love it when Redbox thanks me for my patronage with a free rental code.

I hate waiting in line for the Redbox while that guy takes 27 minutes to make a selection.

I hate waiting in line while that lady takes five minutes to get through the first screen. I pull my comfortable shoes out of my purse and make a big, dramatic sigh.

I hate waiting in line to return my DVD while that couple narrows down their selection, cooing and giggling and standing with their hands in each other's back pockets. ("No, you choose." "No, I chose last time. You choose.") Guess what? I'm waiting.

I hate pretending to be on a phone call in the Redbox line in order to avoid small talk. I can only "yeah" and "uh-huh" and "I know" for so long.

I hate having a line form behind me while I'm scrolling through an agonizing list Nicholas Cage titles. I'm hurrying, people!

I hate wondering if Nicholas Cage secretly owns Redbox to promote himself.

I love finding that artsy film in Redbox, the same one I have in my Netflix queue that keeps getting moved down the priority list by Ryan to make room for war movies. (Two can play this game.)

I hate it when I come home with a Redbox movie for the kids only to have them say, "You rented that for us last week."

I hate it when I pull up to my local outdoor Redbox at the same time as another car. I feel so silly when I sprint from the car and clip them from behind to beat them to the kiosk.

I love it when the box swallows up my returning DVD on the first and not the fifth try.

I love how Redbox has the occasional classic movie for rent. Like the original Karate Kid. ("FINISH HIM!")

I hate it how Wal-Mart has their Redboxes painted blue. Seems like kind of a North Korea thing to do.

I hate it when I almost stick a Redbox movie into the big blue mailbox at the post office.

I love it when I finally figure out the right direction to swipe my credit card. I feel like such a winner.

I hate it when I have to choose between two good movies, like The Wizards of Waverly Place and Gnomes and Trolls.

Do you have a complicated relationship with Redbox?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Weekend in (Mental) Pictures

We spent the weekend in New York with Alyssa, schlepping around the city in search of our next good meal or snack and enjoying the company. The day before we left, I purchased a new handbag---a smaller, strap-across-the-chest, hands-free bag. Whenever I carry my regular bag, I become the family pack mule and my ample bag digs into my shoulder by the end of the day. I celebrated my independence with a bag too small to hold much more than my wallet, phone, and lip gloss.

And, unfortunately, too small for my camera. Oops.

You'll have to imagine all the fabulous sights, okay? And while you're at it, imagine that I lost 23 pounds and grew six inches taller. This is going to work out swell.

Look at us on the speed boat, out in the harbor, the wind in our hair. See the kids getting soaked by the spray? Max's shorts were wet for an hour, and all the adults were jealous.

That's us in Puma City, the World Cup party headquarters sponsored by Puma. The boys have been caught up in the World Cup, so we couldn't resist getting some team t-shirts (Brazil and Ivory Coast) with free customization. Plus, we got free vuvuzelas with our purchase! Even though we can't remember the word vuvuzela and substitute it for Vesuvius and Venezuela and Voldemort the entire trip.

Speaking of the Vesuvius, can you see the look of suprise/delight/annoyance on the faces of passersby as my boys trumpet around the city? We startled one homeboy on his way out of the subway terminal. He shouted, "What the fudgesicle is that?" (We may as well substitute other words, don't you think?) When he realized it was Max and his Vesuvius, he bashfully said, "Oh! It's all right, little man." Thanks, homeboy.

Oh, here's a good photo. We're walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Christian kept looking down through the wooden slats to the water below, even though it freaked him out. He said it was addicting. By the end of the walk, he had Alyssa addicted too.

After standing in line in Brooklyn (doesn't that sound like the title of a good song?), we were seated for pizza at Grimaldi's. We ordered two large pizzas, even though it was going to be way too much food. Or was it? It looks like we ate all but one piece. See how bloated and ecstatic we look?

After a subway ride back and a movie, we settled in for a good night's sleep in Alyssa's new apartment. Isn't it nice? It looks like the new and improved version of her old one, which is awesome and confusing at the same time. It's like her old apartment had a little augmentation done, if you know what I mean.

Sunday was much more low-key. There we are strolling the city, visiting the Intrepid museum, staking out a spot for fireworks on Alyssa's rooftop, and cooking a picnic dinner. I deleted the (imaginary) photos of the mayhem that began on the roof, when too many people wanted in and the security guard was threatening to send everyone to Time Out if they didn't start playing nice. No sense remembering that ugly scene.

We ditched the roof and carried our picnic down 57th street until we found this lovely piece of hot, New York concrete. We laid out our blankets and feasted on one of the most delicious summer picnics I've ever had. Doesn't the food look amazing? Steak salad, corn salad, watermelon salad, and potato salad. I had at least three offers to buy our food--it was that gorgeous. Nice job, Alyssa.

Check out these photos of the fireworks. Aren't they spectacular? I like the new ones that look like Saturn, and three dimensional cubes, and smiley faces. But, my heart will always belong to these glittering, white, willowy beauties.

The streets were packed with literally millions of people. It was fun to see these rough-around-the-edges New Yorkers ooohing and ahhhing over the fireworks. Look at them, a sea of heads and little digital cameras and phones.

It was also fun to see this crazy Chinese woman smacking another lady in the head for standing in her way. She is an interesting character---a statue of pure discontent---magically brought to life to whack somebody in the head and utter threats about Chinese fudgesicles. Who does this?

Only in America.

Friday, July 2, 2010

He Typed His Own Responses

Me: OK, first question. Where are your people from?

Max: utah

Me: I was trying to be funny. Anyway, how's it going with the ladies?

Max: ha ha not so funny.

Me: You're right. New subject. I know you like to text. Who have you been texting lately?

Max: nowon. now stop making jokes.

Me: I can't. I am trying to raise you right and teach you comedy. How else will you learn to be funny?

Max: wht abawt we stop tel tomarow?

Me: Fine. If you answer one question for me. Who is funnier, me or dad?

Max: dad. but sorry.

Me: Good luck fixing your own breakfast in the morning. Do you get why I said that?

Max: no klue.

Me: That's because my humor is very advanced, which is why you think dad is funnier. It's okay. When you grow up and out of poop and booger jokes, you'll realize I'm way funnier than dad.

Max: stop tring to be funnyer then d a d.

Me: Good advice. Goodnight.

Max: Good n i g h t.

Me: One more thing. I actually think poop and booger jokes are pretty funny.

Max: yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Under-Think, Therefore I Get Stuff Done

My dad left me a voicemail a few days ago. He was checking in to say he missed my voice. I saved the message because it was sweet.  And the funny thing is, I've been missing my voice too.

I've been guilty of over-thinking lately. I highly discourage the practice of over-thinking for myself. It's not my job. Ryan is the resident over-thinker, and he's quite good at it. He can think about and analyze and discuss something 1,152 times before breakfast. And although I often accuse him of mortally wounding a dead horse to deathly death, his over-thinking is often valuable and productive. He foresees issues and problems in advance, and often skirts disasters both minor and epic on a regular basis.

I am best off sticking to under-thinking. In fact, I run the Department of Under-Thinking around here. (The department logo is an instruction manual with one of those red circles and a slash over it.) It's a system of checks and balances, if you will. It keeps the flow flowing. It's the Metamucil of our marriage. Without thinking, I can make a decent meal, move the laundry along, remind my kid to flush and wash his hands, write and edit seven headlines, remind my other kid where his baseball glove is, come up with the name of singer you're trying to remember, change the toilet paper roll and write an above average blog post. Let it be written---every family needs a good under-thinker.

But remember to keep your boundaries, you under-thinkers out there. Don't let anybody convince you to forsake your shrug-and-do ways and dabble in the practices of measure twice, cut once. There are people taking care of that. You're in charge of the other stuff. The world needs your... what's the word? Hmmm. Can't think of it. Whatever. The world needs you.

I guess that's what I forgot. I've been neglecting my position, trying my hand at a little rumination, and working myself into a fine frenzy. I've been over-thinking my self, my writing, my writing goals, my body mass index, my parenting, my family, my relationships, my self-esteem, my philosophies, my lunch habits, and even my dishwasher loading techniques. There's a fine line between introspection (healthy) and intro-spewing (gross and chunky) and I'm afraid I crossed it. Unlike Ryan, my over-thinking is completely unproductive, a poorly made casserole of worry, doubt, and self-focus.

It's not that I'm a thoughtless dummy, it's just that I do a much better job of being who I want to be when I get out of my own way.

So {heavy sigh} I'm going back to the basics, retiring my thinking cap and settling back into life by the seat of my pants. Late tonight I realized that tomorrow is July and that I said I'd be back in July. And I almost made the mistake of pondering whether or not I was ready to jump back in to regular writing. And then I remembered my dad's voicemail. And then, without thinking, I sat down to write.
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