Eggy Peggy and the Japan Man

Steampunk kids bd1d76518e2b7cf52bd1f63eefddc064

PHOTO CREDIT:  PINTEREST SITE

 

It happened at IHOP the other day. I hadn’t had my morning cup of coffee yet. And I needed one. Like ALWAYS, I had a zillion things on my mind I was hoping to accomplish, knowing about 92% of them would actually be completed around the twelfth of never.

So I’m sitting there with my clever, sweet 8 year old son and our neighbor’s daughter, a smart, loveable 9 year old girl. They’ve been bus buddies for four years.

However, this Monday, we decided to change it up, trick the bus driver, play hooky from our stop and just have some pancakes. Or chicken and waffles, if you want to be precise. OK, that’s what she ordered. My son ordered the super-soaked chocolate chip pancake slathered in HFCS-laden pancake syrup, complete with a big whip cream smiley face and red-dyed maraschino cherry nose.

I was half listening to their simultaneous conversations happening, as I was mentally strategizing how I was going to get thru another impossible day.

It’s not that life is actually impossible. It just seems like it is. Our endless tasks, jobs, home and family responsibilities, volunteer commitments, bills, appointments, projects, and people to communicate with via email, texts, Facebook, Skype, blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, and heck, even telepathically if you’re as busy as I am tend to make our brain tired. To the point, it’s sometimes hard to actually concentrate on what our children are saying.

Suddenly, I miraculously decided to turn down the volume on my own mental noise. I decided to PAY ATTENTION to what these two precious children, who are strangely almost preteens, were saying. It seems like they were waddling around in diapers only a few weeks ago, yet here they were– lips moving, full of words, thoughts, ideas, and chock full of randomness!

Both were talking at the same time. My son was saying something about Macon Bacon and Eggy Peggy. They were characters on a paper search-and-find placemat. Our friend-like-a-daughter was saying how when she grows up, she wants to marry a Japan man, have two kids, and 3 cats. She was going to name them Messiah, Shiloh, and Little Tokyo.  

Both children continued to talk at the same time about these most random thoughts that had instantaneously occurred to them. Neither topic was related to the other. Neither seemed to care that I had but one set of ears, exactly one to hear half of what each mouth was saying, until the waitress came, asked us what we wanted, and harshed that mellow!

I had no clue what I wanted to eat. I was simultaneously visualizing a grown woman in Japan with two kids and three cats in the yard while my son was running around saying “Where is Eggy Peggy?!?!”

“He’s with the Japan Man!”

“Huh?” said the waitress. Oh. My overloaded brain.

“One coffee straight up please!”

And then it hit me. THIS IS WHAT CHILDHOOD IS ALL ABOUT!

Finding Eggy Peggy and Macon Bacon and living in the now. Dreaming of a perfect future; nothing wrong with dreaming that a Japanese husband just may be the ideal guy, as long as he likes felines. Randomness as opposed to every second of our day micromanaged to obey multiple agendas simultaneously.

I don’t think either one was all stressed out about how they were going to get through the day. I know neither one cared how much the food cost as a ratio in proportion to GDP of the family’s earned income like we adults stress over. They were unaware if bills were caught up at home, and I seriously doubt they were thinking about what will they be when they grow up.  

Suddenly, I found myself just wanting to inhale this exuberance of youth. The infinite time that still seemed to lay before them. The lack of hard core responsibilities and tough decisions.

Right now, deciding what to order was all that mattered. I got out my phone. We watched YouTube videos of Okinawa.   For a quick three minutes, I was somewhere else if only in my mind:

I’m running down the white sands of an Okinawa beach beside a translucent blue ocean. Three adorable exotic cats are running beside me.   I’m in hot pursuit of Eggy Peggy and the Japan Man. And they are running–fast!  As fast as they can, chasing two shadows in the wind–shadows of two precious children, growing up faster than all the ones that preceded them as small voices trail behind them, “Run, run, fast as you can. You’ll never catch us!”

Laughing at me and my tired spectacled eyes, and so many true stories under my belt, sadly, I know they are right.

Mr. Curious and Tampax Flight 309

Fireworks Boy

Okay, so tonight was weird. Well, actually it was NORMAL for Mr. Curious, a certain creative genius who resides at our house who has yet to be discovered for the beautiful mind that he is.

Here’s how it all went down: I made fish and parmesan couscous for dinner. The couscous was the only carb I could find since my health-conscious, vegetables-to-the-max daughter returned from overseas and eradicated all traces of sugar, wheat, flour, pasta, and various other delicious things faster than Napalm gives you a sunburn.   We had watermelon and pineapple as our sides and greenbeans and a vegetable medley.   My 8 year old son was stalling this culinary experience by saying he “had to go to the bathroom.”

Translation: Anything could be happening up there.

As my husband and I finished the last of our quiet dinner, I heard him tromp down the stairs as he exclaimed, “MOM!!! Look what I found in (name withheld of specific sister’s) bathroom!!!”

The usual precursory worry looks were exchanged by my husband and me. She’s of legal age, so I figured it could be anything, and at this point in life, really nothing would shock me, except that it did.

“LOOK! What is this?!?!?!?!” Mr. Curious demanded.

And that’s when we saw the item in question. It was a TAMPON. Yes! A tampon!

Only recently did I finally have “the talk” with Mr. Curious. That’s because he learned some colorful words on the bus and started using them not knowing what he was talking about. Sigh. That’s another story. But even though we had “the talk”, it was not accompanied by visuals detailing just how different women are and why. I had not specifically gone over the chapter of “things necessary to being female” yet. And since Mr. Curious lives in our house, generally we keep things of a private nature secure, like guarding the gold at Fort Knox.

“HOLD UP A MINUTE! PLEASE TELL ME YOU DIDN’T GET THAT OUT OF THE TRASH CAN!” I shrieked as my husband started laughing and then I did too.

Thank heavens, it was how can I say this delicately, still in mint condition. Again–thankfully!!

“Can we light it and launch it Dad?” pleaded Mr. Curious as he pulled out a box of camping matches he already had in the other hand.

“Well, we could son, but it won’t really go anywhere, because it doesn’t have any gunpowder in it.”

And that’s when it hit me! Why didn’t I think of that? Why am I not the one who invented the Rocket Tampon? That way when I’m really ticked off and PMSing super bad, I can make my feelings be known at an even faster, much more efficient rate of speed. Say 500 wpm as opposed to 120 wpm.

Perhaps we could obtain world peace once and for all if we fired rocket tampons instead of bullets! It’s the rare courageous man who can actually purchase a box of said cellophane-wrapped cotton rockets for the women in their lives. Can you imagine how quick our nation’s enemies would retreat if under fire by thousands of these little boogers? With the proper Iron Lady in charge, perhaps we actually could see peace in our time.

As my mind contemplated these things, my son made his 5th request, “Come on, let’s go LIGHT it!” It didn’t matter that we told him it would not launch; he remained undeterred. He had to see for himself.

“Someday, he’s going to burn this house down,” my husband said matter of factly, “he has that urge to burn things.”

“It’s possible,” I said. I thought of the story he told me of when he was a kid and and burned most of his neighbor’s front yard playing with gasoline and matches and realized genetically the nut really doesn’t fall all that far from the tree.

I thought of how every time we go camping with the our scouting den, most of the boys simply can not resist testing all of nature’s elements in fire, figuring out which items burn slowly, which burn quickly, which crackle, which cause sparks, and most blissfully: items acknowledged as things that could be truly dangerous, warranting a parental intervention in order to preserve the woods for the next group of campers.

Playing with fire. It’s a universal boyhood desire of curiosity, that we adults are often quick to extinguish.

“Quick! It’s time to watch the Grand Finale!” our pyrogynotechnician informed us beside a micro pile of spent match sticks.

In the end, Mr. Curious’s plastic coated cotton rocket launch of Tampax Flight 309 could only be qualified as a 100% failure by NASA standards. But that doesn’t mean science did not happen tonight. It did. (Cotton turns black when burned, but is not a good source of fuel. Plastic melts. ) But something bigger happened as well.

We all laughed. We hypothesized and made observations. The cats and the dog joined in on the deck, totally unaware of what strange people they’ve had the unique fortune of being adopted by. And out in space, perhaps the man in the moon may be looking down at a little boy on our deck under a warm July sky with crickets chirping in the back yard and see the possibility of the next astronaut.

 

Give ‘Em Salty Snacks! (The Gift of Uncomfortableness)

 

Stubborn HorseThe last few months I’ve been getting support in a recovery group for those who love someone who struggles with addiction.

At first glance, I thought Hey, I’m not like these folks! They have issues. I’m in much better control than they are!

Ha! But something compelled me to go back just in case I was a little wrong. Uh-huh. By the second meeting, I heard some stories and thought to myself Dang! These folks have nearly the exact same story we do—different name, different day, same story. By the third meeting, I realized I was exactly like these people. Maybe they can teach me a thing or two.    Everything about recovery starts with this:

You are not in control. (Whether you are the addict or the one who loves them, REPEAT: You are not in control.) Only God is in control.

But being the loved one of an addict, with more finesse than a Shakespearean drama, we find our roles to play in our family, because we are motivated by one thing:

The possibility of loss

And that drives everything we do. We want them to stop. It’s wrecking their health. It’s bankrupting them and us. It’s harshing our mellow and messing up our normal. (Now there’s a book!) Our motivations are good. Our love is pure. Our need to control is oh so……addicting! If we could just MAKE them stop.   I KNOW now, I can’t make anyone do anything.

However, somebody I respect dearly, told me something a while back that not only perked up my ears, but was music to my soul. With profound wisdom, and a sly wink, he said:

True, you can’t lead a horse to water and make him drink, but you sure can give him salty snacks!

Oh, friend! What joy those words gave me!

Because even though I believe ultimately that God is in control, I am seeing we do indeed have a role to fulfill, a position in God’s army—a post we are to man!

We can be diligent: We will not ignore our intuition and bury our head in the sand when we know something is wrong.

We can confront the truth in love: We can clearly articulate the evidence we are seeing that shows the destruction or potential for it in terms of health, finances, or legality. This immediately falls into the next step:

We can establish healthy boundaries: Once a problem is stated—clearly, concisely, without condemnation or judgment, we can immediately let the other person know that because we love them we will in no way enable them in terms of money, excuses, or emotional support for the choices that harm them and have the potential to destroy them, and possibly harm or destroy others (such as driving, working, or parenting under the influence here).

We can encourage and help them in every way to seek the help they desperately need, and take practical steps to lead that horse to water. An addict has to first get uncomfortable in his or her addiction.  If we keep rewarding them in anyway (money, acceptance of the habit by believing their lies “it’s just the way I’m wired, etc.”) we are actually partnering in their destruction, possibly others.

Whenever human life is at risk (theirs or others), we have an obligation to protect the innocent. Yes, this means calling law enforcement sometimes. If an addict drives under the influence, has illegal drugs in the home or around children, you have a duty to protect! Sometimes legal consequences are the only thing that finally motivates them. Even if it doesn’t motivate them, as a moral citizen, you have a duty to protect the innocent.

I learned this about boundaries: NO!  The word no is a complete sentence!

We can get help for ourselves. Sometimes we’re not strong enough.   Loved ones of addicts are prone to the same insecurities, hurts, hang-ups, and disappointments that addicts are. Getting stronger mentally, and also physically (working out, getting enough rest, eating healthy) are steps essential to our well-being. We can’t help anyone else if we are falling apart.

We can trust God, our higher power. This is the hard part for me. It’s not that I don’t trust God. I just always feel like there might be one more thing that I should be doing, that I’m not.   I have to trust that when I’ve done all I can do for the day, the rest is up to God. I can’t do more than I did. I can’t know what I haven’t learned yet. I only have enough courage, energy, strength, and grace for today!

If someone you love is struggling with addiction, I pray you get help for yourself. Join a local Alanon or Naranon group today!   This is support: Seeking others with the same struggles as yourself and learning healthy coping skills and perhaps a few “salty snack” recipes so they realize you are no longer a part of the environment that allows addiction to thrive. This is NOT support: Rehashing dramatic stories but offering NO solutions or NOT BEING receptive to new ways of thinking or doing things.

Above all don’t fall into the trap that you are powerless; you’re not!   If you do, you will fall into the same rut as the addict you love. Though you can’t change them and they have to do the work for themselves, you too can learn to think and behave differently. You can give them the salty snacks, also known as the gift of uncomfortableness, in leading them towards the steps to recovery!

What you allow

 

Radical Lizlam

frazzled-mom 5      I’m Liz.  Busy Mom.  Occasional writer.  Welcome to Lizlam.  What is it you ask?

A new religion?  A political agenda?  A training camp for the mental vacillators, you know, the not-quite bipolars—those of us who already know we chronically alternate our moods between PMS, melancholy, frustration, tears, sensitivity, resignation,  or surrendering ourselves to tear jerking laughter.   So you don’t need to remind us our emotions change directions faster than the wind!  WE KNOW!  Or as Lady Gaga croons, “Baby, we were born this way.”   We don’t need a diagnosis.  We just need you to get out of our way occasionally.  We are once, twice, three times a lady all in the same day—all with different shoes, moods, and game plan for this moment’s task!

FYI Men: We don’t need you to understand us; we just need you to agree with what we’re saying.  It’s really that simple.

This is Radical Lizlam:  Radical Lizlam is a progressive philosophy of consistent bedlam, mayhem, and a variety of chaos that is best mitigated by extreme laughter, frequent raids of stashed chocolate supplies in clandestine locations and a memory more than capable of forgetting things.   We Radical Lizlamists even bring stability to chaos by occasionally dropping the F-Bomb!  (FAITH-bomb that is!) “Lord help me NOW please!”  Can I still say bomb in a blog without being targeted by the NSA?

A radical Lizlamist is person who has big dreams and goals, but generally get about 98% sidetracked by a schedule that is spread pretty darn thin and a circumference that apparently spreads in inverse proportion to it.  This is the fault of other people, not ourselvesSee, we are givers, oh how we give! Please don’t lecture us about “carving out time for oneself.”  Do that, and you’re likely to have a Hot Yoga for Dummies book hit you in the head. frazzled mom 2

We are the radical real housewives of every city who get the kids ready for school while answering the (surprise!) 7:00 am termite man’s questions about what our husband didn’t do.  We are the ones who politely tell the phone solicitors for the Firemen’s Association to beat it because we’re 30 minutes late to our child’s school performance.  Besides, we all know real firemen don’t sit at desks behind phones panhandling desperate housewives.   No!  Real firemen are out fighting fires and posing for next year’s calendars even though 1 square inch on calendars can’t possibly contain today’s schedule.

Don’t lecture me on putting our schedule in our smart phone either.  Are you crazy???  Do you know how many times we have to find that stupid thing after one of the kids misplaced it playing Angry Birds?  Lose that and you virtually lose your entire life!!

We Lizlamists are the ones who do our level best to find gluten-free, dye-free, sugar-free, flavor-FULL cupcakes at the Circle K fifteen minutes before arriving for a school event just announced by our forgetful kid who didn’t give us last week’s weekly folder chock full of important information.  frazzled mom 4

We drive the car that’s had a ping for over six months and doesn’t have gas in it to get to work an hour ago as we look in the rear view mirror and note that we have eye-liner on just one eye.    We are the ones who sort and chuck the bad mail from the good.   We sneak corporate time from our real jobs in order to like, SHARE and pray for on Facebook for all the lame who cannot walk, as well as the animals who have no homes,  and every single other woman we know who has even bigger problems, and believe me there are many!  All this makes us feel things extremely, so JUST DEAL WITH IT if we happen to go a bit emo on you if you either hurt our feelings, say something really nice, or ignore us when you shouldn’t have.

We fundamentally transform disgusting litter boxes into pot pouri for finicky felines. We volunteer to host parties for our best friend who just started selling jewelry to other frazzled friends who we know in advance will forget to RSVP.   We are thinking how we best can make you happy when we check Pinterest for ideas for a delicious dinner tonight.  That is, before we realize that gymnastics practice, soccer practice and a vet appointment after work means we actually only have just enough time to figure out how to make chicken in a brand new way yet again.  If we still fail to beat the clock, we compromise with our kids and settle for McDonald’s even though it means long waits in unhappy lines, for the sake of the 1389th happy toy made by an enslaved Chinese child (which also makes us feel really bad) when all we really ever fantasize about is a nice sit-down meal at Applebee’s.

We help with the homework we don’t understand, and when that’s not good enough, we may even attempt to pencil in some of the answers in matched offspring’s handwriting if that will reduce the endless questions pricking at our slow-percolating migraine.

We work harder than the Secretary of State importing peace to siblings and exporting lice from heads to sinks.  We smuggle excess toys to thrift stores while trying to avoid detection by our children.  We attempt to transform “aftermath” to Simple Home.   We make executive decisions every day that promote the welfare of our family members knowing we’ll never receive accolades or awards.   frazzledmom 3

 We work as hard as we can, as fast as we can, every single day that we live.   We are a walking Rolodex of who to call for every kind of domestic disaster and a memorized Dewey Decimal system of every item that everyone in our home still hasn’t learned how to locate. 

 We are continuously humbled knowing we don’t have it all together, especially compared to our more successful, better organized sisters!  And yet we love them anyway. 

At night while our men watch Orange County choppers or ESPN, we silently pay last month’s bills with next month’s funds, while making tomorrow’s grocery list, while hammering out a sympathy, wedding, and new baby card to mail tomorrow.    Long after the kids are shampooed, read to, prayed up, and tucked in, we finish cleaning our kitchens and go ahead and fold and hang two or three loads of laundry, before attending to today’s emails requesting even more of ourselves.  We hope that later we might get lucky and get to sleep in a bed not invaded by big dogs with a propensity for French kissing, feverish children with snotty noses, cats in heat, or snoring, farting men who may attempt to paw us, even though they still haven’t really heard a word we said all day.

At day’s end we pray.  We pray for mercy and grace to do this all again for one more day.  It may be down our knees until we fall prostrate (translation: sleep at last).  For some of us, we pray quietly in our minds where words end and dreams begin.

Yes, we boo-boo kissers, stuffed animal surgical specialists, sandwich packing, sandwiched generational caregivers are the real extremists in society.  We are the full time CEOs of our homes and often the part time or full time employees of wherever it is we go to rest from the exhaustion of domestic bliss.   We juggle hormones, children, careers, schedules, tasks, and occasionally our dreams just for us.

We are amazing women who keep society in balance.  We are the revolution that keeps the planet from tilting off its axis in a thousand small maneuvers every single day.

We are living life to the full, loving all of you with every ounce of us we possess and then some. 

We are moms, wives, friends, sisters, daughters, grandmas, employees, and volunteers trying to make the world a better place by serving you well.  

We are Radical Lizlamists.  This is more than just our religion, our movement, our philosophy, or even our funny farm.  This is who we are.

TRUE CAVEAT:  This story was written ALL WHILE:

  • Solving an 8 year old’s existential crisis
  • Assisting with 3 digit regrouping math homework
  • Mentally  planning tonight’s dinner
  • Taking three phone calls (2 requests, 1 solicitation)
  • Instructing above mentioned child how to mail a LEGO sweepstakes entry by snail mail
  • Pulling out spilled Frosted Flakes (dry ones….yay!) in between my a,s,d,f,j,k,l, and my beloved sem.

I Learned Italian Because My Son Had to Poop

Narcissus_(da_Vinci) Wikimedia Commons“Narcissus” by Leonardo Da Vinci – Wikimedia Commons

     I learned to speak Italian last night.  In a very nice Italian Ristorante.  In a secret room.  The one where the bella signoras pee or powder their nose.   Why?  When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, l’ll tell you why!  My little boy had to poop.

Here’s the thing. He’s at that in-between age.  He can usually go to the men’s room by himself once I’ve sufficiently swept the area for strangers of unknown origin or intent.  I’m just a mama bear in that regard.  But from time to time, nature calls in its purest form. 

This time my son informed me the nanosecond my steaming plate of pasta arrived, that he had to go to the bathroom–bad.

“Come with me!”  Uh-oh.  I know what this means.  This is code language for I better bring some reading material.  I grab my phone just in case.  I can play on Facebook or perhaps catch an article or two from the Times online.

I do what any protective mother does for her boy of the awkward age between being able to wipe one self, but with neither of us comfortable for him to be alone in a man’s den to do one’s business.  I took him with me—to the Signora’s gabinetto.

He went to the potty.  I went to the potty. He started to bolt.  I grabbed him with my Go-Go Gadget arm that can span the entire width of a gabinetto. 

“Not so fast buddy!  The hands?!?!?”  I ask incredulously.

“Oh yeah!”  He cycles the water on, then off, faster than a camera’s shutter speed in Sports Mode.  Al Gore would be moved if he could witness this moment.

“Hold it!  LONGER!  With soap this time!”

Kids intrinsically know that payback always deserves to be hell.  So after a good five minutes of soaping, lathering, and going through yards of paper towels, he finishes.

“Great!  Let’s go!”  I’m almost out the door when he informs me, “Wait a minute.  I’m NOT finished.”

Terrific.  “I’ll wait by the sink then.”

I wait.  And wait.  And wait.   I read the label on the designer soap.  Wash Responsibly it says.  I ponder this for a few more minutes.  I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever been an irresponsible washer.  They must know piccoli uomini (little men) come in here sometimes.

“Any luck?”

“No.  Not yet.”

That’s when it happens.  The gabinetto is eerily silent.  I am suddenly, but pleasantly aware that the Frank Sinatra songs in the Ristorante are not the same soundtrack playing here.  But I don’t mourn Old Blue Eye’s auditory absence for long.

No!  That’s because it’s better in here.  Way better! 

Why if you stay long enough, you can learn to parlare Italiano!  Fantastico!

Buon giorno maam!  Good day maam! (A scoundrel’s voice.  I wouldn’t trust this guy as far as I could throw him!)

Sembri molto bella!   (Yah!  Not too shabby considering I’m pushing fifty and I’m fairly exhausted right this moment I think.  But grazie!)

Grazie! I hear a sultry voice with a hint of mischief reply above the automatic air-freshener dispenser.

Che cosa dovremmo fare per cena?   (What should we have for dinner?)  The scoundrel speaks yet again.

How about my PENNE PASTA that is getting cold as I stand here?  I think to myself.

Patate(Potatoes?)

With some oray-gino?   (Oregeno.  It’s actually spelled like we spell it, but this is how people endowed with romantic tongue say it.  Don’t forget to r-r-r-oll the “r” in your pronunciation with heavy accent on the second syllable!)

I’m kind of getting into this now.  I mentally chastise myself for not bringing my glass of Vino with me.

 Ho una macchina veloce sportiva!  (I have a fast sports car!)  A vision of a former boss let go for sexual harassment comes to mind.

The woman on the sound track chuckles daintily and seductively.

 Volete vederlo?  (Would you like to see it?) The womanizer speaks again.  Clearly she gets in his car.

Tieni d’occhio la strada! She says this as she laughs.  (Keep your eye on the road!)

Hey wait a minute I think; we’re about to move into a PG-13 bathroom experience!

More conversation ensues.  I am learning more foreign words during these momenti di cacca than I ever learned in an entire year of Spanish class in both high school and college.  I’m actually paying attention.   I’m having my Rosetta Stone moment all because my son had to poop!

At this point, I am gaining both confidence and fluency.  I check in with the poopster to get a status report.

Almost done!”   Almost, because I have to wait another seven minutes for the wipe process to be carried out.  I hear the pump-a-dump-dump of the toilet paper roll as the cardboard cylinder hangs up on its apparent four corners.  So I know something is happening in there.

More pulling of paper.  More flushing.   I’m relieved that Sheryl Crow did not succeed at getting a one square only mandate passed for us non-famous peasants in order to avoid disastrous climate change.  If we blow up the world from too much cacca, than perhaps we deserve it.

Finally the deed is done.  It is finished.    The Evocatore of Hot-Turned-Chilled Expensive Dinners emerges.

But this time I had held my cool.  I was patient.  Understanding even.

Why?  Because now I’m part Italian.

OK, I know I didn’t learn enough to impress my friends as the narrator promised I would.  As if my bathroom experience could possibly linger even one more stinkin’ moment!  But I think I learned enough that I could at least manage a few basic tasks if given the opportunity to travel to Italy someday.

I can hail a taxi.  Taxi!  (Pronounced Tock-see!)

I can handle the check at the restaurant.  Si prega di dare i miei saluti e il mio check al signore al bar.  (Please give my regards and my check to the gentleman at the bar.)

I can talk my way out of an emergency. Taxi!

When we walked out of the bathroom, some of the restaurant staff were waiting.  We were SO WORRIED about youYour party said you disappeared!”

“Nope.  IT happens.   We’re fine,”   I assured them, “but grazie!

I returned to my cold dinner more excited than when I left.  Now all I have to is find a sponsorizzare for my impending trip to Italy!  I smiled.

“Cameriere!” I snapped my fingers. “Altro vino favore!

Pour yourself some vino to go with that canolli and enjoy this classic:

I’m Late! I’m Late! For a Non-Existant Date!

AIW RabbitThe Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland (Copyright  — Disney)

Have you ever been massively stressed out because you showed up incredibly late to an important event that didn’t even exist?

Yeah?  Me too.  Here’s what happened to me yesterday:

I am part of an artistic group that I’m super jazzed to be a part of.  I had spent a good portion of my day working on my “exhibit” that I would showcase along with the other artists.  It’s something we do once a month in order to constructively critique our work and sharpen our skills.

The problem is that some of us artistic people are sometimes more creative than organized, more distracted than punctual, more scattered all over the place than efficient. 

So it was no surprise last night I felt myself internally blowing a gasket when:

My husband forgot about my meeting despite repeated reminders, thus forgetting to come home from work to watch our young son so I wouldn’t be late for the fourth time in a row.

At 6:59 pm, I stopped by the local gag-a-burger joint en route.   I was 2nd in line at the drive thru (“One fry, one sweet tea, please hurry, thank you!”) only to have to wait 9 ENTIRE minutes for ONE car in front of me to receive their order.  I watched my rear view mirror as the line began to snake an entire circle around the joint.   I had no room to back up and abandon my order, and I couldn’t ram the driver in front of me to “the special designated area for “folks whose custom orders delay EVERYTHING for the rest of us.”  I was forced to wait!

I felt my blood pressure points accumulate faster than the points on a Medieval Madness pinball machine.  To make matters worse, Bachman Turner Overdrive was singing “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” on the radio.  For whatever reason that song totally grates on my nerves and added to my stress levels.    I began to scroll down the paltry six presets on my radio:

  • Station One:  Lady Gaga.  No, please! 
  • (Switch)  Katy Perry.  No Lord, I beg you please, double no!  Not if it were the last song on earth!
  • (Switch)  Commercial (Men are you urinating more frequently then you used to?)
  • (Switch)  Another commercial (Parents, does your child talk back to you at least once per month?)
  •  (Switch)  Pearl Jam  (Jeremy Spoke in Class Today)—should I blog about the deeper meaning of this song or chuck the thought? I quickly decide on the latter.  I realize the song is weirder than my weirdest thoughts and yet it intrigues me how such lyrics generated millions of dollars and fans.  Whatever!
  •  Switch–Classical music.  Cool!   I start to calm.  I go to Whole Foods in my mind and make 15 cups of Kona breakfast blend with lots of brown sugar and cream.   I meditate here for a moment.

7:29 pm.  I have arrived at my destination.   Let the stress of late begin.

Everything this entire forsaken day has transpired against me it seems. Nothing got finished on time.  I had been disorganized, delayed and detained all day.  No hour of the day remotely resembled the hour preceding it.   It was all I could do to make up a new ultra creative excuse for why my family sometimes forgets why this night is important to me.

Criminy!  I barged into the room, now thirty minutes late, where the other artists would already be showing and critiquing their work.  They would be calm, in place, at peace, focused, and ready to present.  I would be out of breath, frazzled, confused, and wondering if I could slowly slink by and find a chair without spilling my wares or causing everyone to look at the REALLY LATE girl (again).

“Hi, I’m sorry I’m…..” OH!  Wait a minute. ..

These aren’t my people!  These people were immersed in a bible study with soothing moments of solitude, prayers, peacefulness, and calmness.  Like those who shall someday inherit the earth, I meekly said, “Is this the Thursday Night Artists Club?”   Duh!  I knew it wasn’t!!  I was just grasping to say anything at all while my breath was making its way in from the parking lot to catch up to my body.

“No sweetie, it’s not.  But you could probably ask someone at the front desk on your way out.”  Gahhh!

I couldn’t exit quick enough!  It finally dawned on me.  I ran to my car and fished thru my purse full of clutter.  Finally!  I found my pocket calendar.  Yes, I know my phone has a calendar, but I’m always afraid I’ll lose my phone if I rely on it for not just phone numbers, Facebook, and photos, but my actual life plan so I view a paper calendar as an insurance policy, a reverse Murphy’s Law if you will, that as long as I don’t totally DEPEND on my phone, I’m insured against losing it.  Just a stupid mind game I play myself, but hey we all have them!

I pull out the calendar.  Though I clearly knew the day of the week (Thursday) I had inadvertently forgotten the date!   I see now it’s the 5th Thursday of the month.  Though we meet the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, I had not run into this 5th week phenomenon before.

Deflated and breathless I take a moment and realize I am the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I live my days traveling at the speed of light from moment to moment and task to task but often with the awareness of a gnat.  I not only don’t see the forest through the trees sometimes, I sometimes miss the fact that I’ve left the woods entirely and am now suddenly surrounded by Mac trucks on an eight lane interstate.

All this technology to keep us in check, we spend all our time emailing, texting, status-updating (way guilty!), messaging, tweeting, chronicling and calendaring ourselves into oblivionBy attempting to do everything, we often accomplish nothing. 

In the end, my daughter called.  She’d be coming home in an hour!  A rare treat!  We only see her a few times a year now as she is in college, living at the beach this summer, and traveling still between jobs.  She’d be crashing at our house for just tonight.  She wants sushi rolls for supper.  Downtown.  With all the trendy people under perpetual Christmas lights with their shiny cars that are parked by the valet. 

So now that I’m free tonight, it’s a date.  Our family goes.  My seven year old has only a banana split with massive whip cream and ice cream for dinner, as he is not sushi-tolerant yet.  I justify this sugar infusion since he will also be dealing with sleep deprivation tomorrow at school.  Oh well, not my problem. 

And so it goes.  Another day in the life of Liz.  No two hours are the same.  If you have a family you may have a life like that too.  You wake up dreaming of order and art; you close the day with chaos, crabmeat, and chopsticks eating “Steven Tyler”.  It’s TRUE!  That’s what my sushi dish was called; The Steven Tyler.  It was delicious!   We also ate the Bob Marley but passed on the Marilyn Monroe.

A change of plans is our only constant in our busy lives.  We’ve but one option:  Roll with it.

“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.”  Sarah Dessen: “What Happened to Goodbye”

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.    Ecclesiastes 3:1

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

Roughin’ It (With Estee Lauder)

SteampunkhomePHOTO CREDIT:  Steampunkhome.blogspot.com

     Last weekend I went camping with my family.  It went down like this:

A 65 percent chance of thunderstorms was forecasted.  It was the night of my birthday; though not a decade marker yet, it hovers just slightly south of the cincuenta border.   I had worked earlier that day, then shopped for groceries, prepared hobo packets for dinner, and loaded the Jeep with 6 bins of camp gear, sleeping bags, cooler with prepped food, grill, charcoal, collapsible chairs, portable table, a 19-inch deluxe air mattress and pump, a single mattress for the munchkin, about a dozen D-sized batteries, lanterns, and our brand spanking new forty-five pound bag of:

DELUXE TENT – SLEEPS SIX.

     Now here’s the beautiful thing:  We just received our swanky new tent a few days earlier.  I found the ONE website on the entire internet that sold it for $100 less than everywhere elseIt is the Taj Mahal of camping tents!  It has a hinged front door.  It has a 3-inch mini zippered door beneath the main door, so your pet mouse can go in and out.  Or at least that’s what I thought, until my genius husband explained that was for the electrical cords to pass thru.  Fabulous!

It has windows that have slap bracelets inserted in them, so you can roll them down instantly with a cool-sounding SLAP!  And it even has a 3-way light and dimmer above, and get this:  An adaptor for a camping ceiling fan!    The only design flaw I could find is that it doesn’t come with a flushing toilet, but I will submit this suggestion online.

Cool beansNow Liz is ready to rough it for the weekend. 

Fast forward to 7 pm.  Hubby arrives home late from work.  Mama is hungry and fairly exhausted and feeling kind of birthday-less after going at breakneck speed to MAKE THIS HAPPEN (a fatal flaw of mine when my intentional plans run contrary to unexpected circumstances.   I run upstairs to print prior email with camp directions as this was a family scouting trip.

WHAT’S THIS?!?  The trip was cancelled?  Why didn’t this email stamped 11:32 am come to my phone that I checked throughout the day?!?!  (A mystery of technology that will never be explained!)

  &*(#%@ I thought inwardly.  We are camping come hell or high-water, with high-water being a high probability.  See, I had already invested in this trip with precious energy.  It was too late to back out for me.  If we were the only ones at the camp ground, we were going!

Well we drove everywhere that night down dark spooky roads out in the country.  9:03pm.  Eureka!  What’s this?  The gates close at 9 pm.  We go back home.  Starving.  Both of us tired from work.  Frustrated.  Ill at one another.  Disappointed.

Mr. Holland was right:  Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Saturday, 7 am:   Reload the cooler and off we go.  My husband has a bad back.  You know what that means.  I got to carry the gear down the hill, through the valley, and back up a hill, until we reached our campsite.  Hooray!  A few die-hard campers were there; we weren’t alone.  Then the ensuing men-are-from-Mars, women-are-from-Venus battle of the sexes transpired over reading pica .001 directions on the tent label.  Actually, it was not that bad.  It took about thirty minutes and now we’ve got it for next time.

The rest of the day was great.  We went on a hike and watched friends fish.    We lamented that we still haven’t bought fishing gear, but if we do, we’ll need a back door basket as we are already at overflow capacity.

Our oldest son met us mid-day and brought our dog who became best friends with everyone who brought meat.  Letting him be loved by so many and play with kids in the woods was a blast. Liz made smores for kids in an industrial smore-maker with gargantuan marshmallows.   My young son, and I, and other scouts played the trivia game Hoopla by the fire.  One of the other Dads recited from memory Shakespear’s Hamlet that he knew by heart as we sat around the fire. Liz was impressed.  And exhausted.  Unable to move or speak.  Nearly numb.  Just sitting there experiencing this one thing…..at long last:

STILLNESS

     It’s something I rarely do.  Just sit.  In a chair.  Thinking about nothing.  Doing nothing.  Just watching fire.  Contemplating life.  And then quickly forgetting it.  Why is this so hard for me?  I wonder

10 pm.  Plip.  Plop.  Right on schedule.  Rain.   Story time around the fire is over and nothing left but to go back to the tent and sleep under a rainy sky.  Well not exactly rain, more like a monsoon.  ALL NIGHT LONG.   But the Taj Mahal stayed dry thanks to the generosity of a friend who gave us another tarp to put over the rainfly.  So I didn’t get to see the stars I’d hoped to see, as my weary eyes dimmed, but I did have this one comforting thought:

At least when I wake up, I can put on my Estee Lauder make up in the tent.  I can just TURN ON THE LIGHT and use a mirror.  And although Camp Hyatt (Grand) is still my favorite place to take a family vacay, the whole camping thing is something every woman should experience at least once! 

Out in the wild wilderness I can bring a bit of plum lipstick to a mostly brown and green forest.   I am older now, but not so old I can’t put a little sweat equity into participating in outdoor adventures with the two and a half men in my life.  I can get muddy.  I can lift a heavy load a few times.  And somewhere in the mix of all these boys, and men, and dirt, and fish, and canvass, and leaves, and dog breath, and fire is a little girl inside a middle-aged woman’s body dreaming of the stories she will someday write.