Not Necessarily Namaste — Lessons from Yoga Barbie

Yoga girl sunset     YAY! It’s Friday and that means it’s Yoga Day in Liz’s world. Fridays, I decided are to be my “down days” from running and hitting it hard at the gym during the week.   It’s a physical reward, like getting a massage after working hard all month.

I’ve been on a roll recently, but I know from past experience if I don’t build in some gentler workout days, I’m liable to crash and burn. So yoga makes sense as an alternative to running everyday. So on Yoga Day, my goal today was to cleanse my seven chakras, elongate my muscles and relax my mind.   At least that was the plan.

This is what really happened:

I awake just before 7 am. I scurry downstairs in a caffeine-deprived stupor because on Yoga Day you should only drink water. Lots of water. No time for the filtered pure stuff. Just rinse out a dirty glass from the sink super quick and guzzle the tap. I feed our three cats and let the dog out so I can begin.

Time to get started. I roll out my yoga mat and live-stream Yoga Now on TV. Ah, so many choices. This one looks good: Total Body Super Core Challenge– 58 minutes.

The first thing I notice is the lovely young serene blond-haired blue-eyed yoga instructor; she is the epitome of tranquility. Her voice is a steady soft low, just a few decibles above a whisper. If I wasn’t being mindful, I’d probably shout, “What’s that?” or “Come again?”

Hurdle one: I will not compare my body to that of a woman half my age who is probably a trust-fund graduate student who’s probably never birthed children and has been vegan and well, stretchy, for most of her life. No, today I will take the hat of judgment off my body, and just keep my eyes focused gently on my teacher for today.

So we start with a few cleansing breaths before easing into Chaturanga Dandasana. Basically, that’s the snobby Indian way of saying planking. And although I was nearly comatose only moments ago under jersey cotton sheets and down comforters, I’m suddenly sweating profusely as I try to align myself parallel to the floor in order to strengthen my core.

The first thing I notice is just how much dog hair is literally everywhere; there’s entire could-be-sweaters hiding out under all the couches and TV stand.   And now thru my Pranayama breathing, I realize my yoga mat actually smells more like a dog than even my dog does.

So as I gently plank myself, I turn my gaze ever so softly towards the TV to make sure I’m still in sync with Yoga Barbie. She’s so peaceful I think. Her eyes are so soft, like she’s just waking from a great dream.

Well, no wonder I think to myself. My gosh! Look at that view!

Her mat floats atop short manicured green grass, that looks soft as carpet. It’s positioned exactly at the midpoint between two magnificent palm trees with an emerald green ocean in the distance, also proportionately placed between two mountains. The sun is just rising. In her world there are no vehicles zooming by, only tropical birds singing their morning songs.

In my world, I hear a humming dishwasher, a distant washing machine, and creaky plumbing sounds. Soon my husband plunks down the stairs before leaving for work. He asks me a question related to taxes and bills in a loud voice.   Talk about a harshed mellow. “Can we talk about this later?” I reply while trying to tune out all distractions.

I press on thru the planking so I can hurry up and get to Downward Dog which would be more appropriately named if it were called Upword Butt. Truly, that’s what it actually is.   You are making an offering, a sun salutation of sorts to the world that silently screams: This is my butt. Consider the view as a double sunrise.  Please deal with it and above all, leave me alone and don’t speak to me while I do this.

I alternate between Upward Butt and Painful Plank while Ujjayi breathing a few dozen more times. That’s where I steal some of the breath from the ocean directly behind Yoga Barbie.   I hear a fire truck siren in the distance that is growing ever closer. I briefly consider the possibility that our house is on fire so that I can wrap this up a tad quicker. My husband lets our dog back in because he’s afraid of fire trucks, so now he comes over to my side to howl closer to my ear. Oh come on! Really?!  Who’s the idiot that burns their house down on a Friday Morning?

Stop! Thoughts are like bubbles I remember. You can just pop them if they become a distraction. I mentally prick at them a few times.   Now my son has come down stairs and is telling me in detail about a video game he was playing upstairs.

I look at the clock. It’s only 7:25 am. “Why are you even up?” I ask. He normally gets up around 8. By now I’m doing some Cobra stretches to make my backbone more flexible too. I’m breathing, but if feels more like the “Ch, ch, ch, ch” I learned in Lamaze class all those years ago. I may not be doing this correctly, but hey, I’m trying.

Next, one of my cats decides to get in on the action. He’s a sweet fellow, just not today. He comes up to me and my nearby dog and bites my wrists while I pose like a dog again. I’m determined not to give up.   He’s happily purring; he just happens to want to snack on what’s currently holding me up.

I plank and stretch and breathe and soar like an airplane and reach my feet and arms far apart from each other parallel to the floor for what feels like hours. I walk my feet that are far behind me all the way to up to my hands on the floor and come straight up. I go up. And then go down again. Breathe. Stretch. Be Aware. Take up lots of space. I feel what my body is doing as my body does it. Relax. Go deeper into it. Release all thoughts. Be still.

Yes, be still

While the dog drops a saliva-covered tennis ball on your throat once you finally get to do a relaxing stretch. While you’re child asks their fifteenth question during a half minute of Child’s Pose. While the phone rings. And the sirens blare. And the door slams. And the dust-coated fur-balls rage under the couch. While your thoughts race as to how to make it all stop just for one freaking moment!

Yes be still and know: That life balance is not easy.   That trying to take care of our self is a concept we delude our selves into believing that is reserved only for those who have time. Or energy. We will try harder when we have a little more of each. Time. Energy. Later. We’ll get around to doing this eventually–later.

Except that it doesn’t. Later never comes.

 Our distractions of choice increase exponentially by the day. As moms, all the hats we wear, it actually is hard to do anything at all for our self sometimes. Much less, do it alone in order to do it well!

But as a Master Yoda once taught me: There is no try. There is only do or do not.

So I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to do it scared and I’m going to do it frustrated sometimes.  I’m going to do it busy, even if it appears aadha-gadha . (That’s Indian for “half-assed” ) I’m going to do it tired and frazzled sometimes. I’m going to do it ungraceful and undignified.   Because if fifty-eight minutes of pretzel-twisting mental-cleansing Yoga Barbie taught me anything at all: I’m going to do it FINISHED.  Because that’s what counts.

We have to decide to love ourselves enough to want to cherish what God gave us so that we can serve all those others a little bit longer and a tiny bit better.   Less attitude, more strength.   We’re deciding right now to exchange our whining selves for our winning selves. Gently. One day at a time.

Just breathe, then do.

Press on all my Sisters Seeking Strength and Serenity.

Namaste’

Photo Credit:  http://food.ndtv.com/health/the-ultimate-full-body-workout-surya-namaskar-769780

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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.

 

Bury My Digital Remains in a Yurt in Big Sur

   Mix Tape 1Sometimes I miss my old life.   For some of us, born before the millennium, we miss the old way:

The Analog Way

     It’s true. I miss buttons that lock into position, volume dials that go from silent to ear-splitting loud. I miss big beast cars with loud hemis and stick shifts and without a trace of a menu screen anywhere. I miss TVs in wood cabinets with rabbit ears and UHF and VHF possibilities.   I even almost miss the days when I had an 8-track cassette player and Charlie Rich used to sing “And when we get behind”…..and then it would choke and gurgle, only to finish up with “closed doors” once the song changed in the middle of the track.

Billy Sprague, owner of Sanity Muffin in Oakland, CA says cassette tapes are poised to make a comeback! The hiss and flat tones are part of the “auditory experience” that makes cassettes a superior source of acoustical sound. Well A to the Men brother!

Yes, those of us over 40 remember the thrill of “just push PLAY”, a delightful little analog button with its accompanying crisp click-lock when pressed.   We didn’t just hear music; we felt it with our fingers. Sometimes we even untangled it with our pencils and our fingers, as if vengeful car stereos could scold us for our choice in boyfriends. If and when the music sucked, well we obliviously chucked it out into the pristine environment from our stick shift cars allowing some other sucker the possibility of finding an abandoned treasure.

Another musician just released a demo cassette that his band recorded in a yurt in Big Sur. With that revelation, I immediately Google Image-searched “Big Sur Yurts”.   If you don’t know what a yurt is, well Google it now, because this is where we will all live, if America really does become a Socialist “utopia” or when we all have a collective “nervy B” from all this technology, but I digress.

I’m almost 50; I’m in the middle of the road, in the middle of my life. I use all things digital and it eats up more of my time than I actually even possess. Which actually begs the question, well how does she even do it? I don’t know. Same way everyone else does it. Only everyone else it seems, does even more, even faster than I do.

Why nearly everyone knows how to use Macs, PCs, IPAD, IPODS, laptops, smartphones, DVRs, GPS, programmable appliances, and a variety of even more devices they can control, all from apps on their smartphones. We can secure our home, monitor our dog at day camp, balance our stock portfolios, digitally enhance our pictures via Instagram to make it look Polaroid Retro, blog our opinions, post endless selfies, and stack our digital lives in neat little terabytes both in the cloud and on terra firma here on earth.

But something is missing. We communicate our every thought, opinion, and question with our fingers– tap tap tap– a million times a day. We’re too busy and too shy to talk in person now. We digitize our experience, but do we remember it? And what about the contents of our digital lives? What’s going to happen when we die?

If you think you’ve got it bad because you have yet to organize your parents’ shoe boxes full of Polaroid pictures and yellow-green fading pictures of your childhood, how much more complex will it be for our kids who will receive…..

What exactly? Our 19th and 20th generation phones? Memory cards? DVDs? Thumb drives? Hard drives? Our last used laptop? Our Facebook account? Ancient VHS tapes chock full of family memories?

What if their current operating system is incompatible?

What if our video tapes and DVDs have a close encounter with magnets, or extreme thermal instability?

What if our password changes 456 times since originally revealing it to your children, if you even did at all.

What if an EMP blows up our entire digital existence before we get a chance to get digitally organized?

Ah! The joys of too many choices.   If only our lives resembled the sleek, crisp, minimalist organization of a Macbook Pro. If our homes could actually look like an Apple store. If only we had a time capsule in our own life, where we could just go back to any moment in time, freeze it, and leave it there.   But no, as Steve Miller so adequately prophesied to the mellow stoners of the 1970s, “time keeps on slipping into the future.”

In an attempt to streamline, we’re given more choices than we have time to implement.

Something has to give. We’re not going to be able to learn it all, do it all, save it all, and organize it all. If all we leave are digital remains and memories, then we’re not leaving much at all. We may as well leave nothing. And besides, one little glitch, well, that’s what we’ll be leaving anyway.

As for me? Perhaps I’ll leave my digital remains in a yurt in Big Sur for a really smart future geek to discover and decode.

I think the Sanity Muffin dude and his friends have it right. We need to cozy up in our yurts with our groovy loved ones, pop in a favorite cassette, turn on the lava lamp, light some incense, and just be with each other. No pictures. No phones.  Just two people staring up on a starry starry night, thoughts lost in a semi-ignorant haze, as we dream about, but skip the obsessing part about our unknown futures.

For info. on cassette comebacks see:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9TccPAgvU0

For info. on Billy Sprague of Sanity Muffin:  http://www.sanitymuffin.com/

For info. on Yurts of Big Sur:  http://www.treebonesresort.com/

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.

Unrepentant Si-coanalysis of a Crapitalist Clan

Duck Commander IMG_9767

It seems like there’s a big quack these days about a certain dynasty and a scandal over some words spoken.  According to news reports, nearly everyone has gotten quite a few feathers ruffled over some words that were said.

  • Something about being gay.
  • Or kneeling to pray.
  • Or not willing to pay.
  • Or the freedom to say.
  • It looks like you can’t stay.

Something similar to all that.

Well hrmph!!!  I don’t even know how to express my opinion any more on things.  Because low and behold, what if I offend someone?  Uh oh!  Then they may not like me anymore.  And then I’ll have what my best friend refers to as a “nervy-b”, you know a big old NBD.  And just like if you give a mouse a cookie, then if you have a nervy-b over something your ears may be allergic to, well then you’re probably going to need a pill for that!

See the thing is this.  I don’t care if you’re gay.  I still love you.  I’m Christian.  And I like to pray.  Even if you don’t, if you’re relatively nice and can slightly stifle any arrogant opinions, we’ll probably get along just fine!  And no matter where we stand on things politically, philosophically, spiritually, or even mentally, I think we all could stand to lighten up.    Did you know you can lose 5 pounds in water retention simply by refusing to be offended?  OK, I kind of just made up that statistic, but hey, it sounds good.

See here’s the thing about that certain duck-yodeling, jam-making, Tupperware-sipping, before-meal-praying, Father Time/ZZ Top imitating, beard-wearing clan of men:  Like you and me, they have a right to say whatever they say.  Double true,  because they’re on a “reality” show – a show that’s always loosely based on reality – which in real life is a place where people actually say what they feel like saying, regardless of potential collateral damage to other people’s feelings!

Kinda like your family!  Kinda like mine!

The bottom line is you can be gay and choose not to be offended.  You can also pray and choose not to be offended by anyone else who has something to say.   But if you have a lick of  common sense anywhere, what should at least offend your senses, is their extreme overkill of CRAPITALISM!

I’m sorry but I do not need to see Duck Dynasty pajamas, lunchboxes, cereal boxes, sleeping bags, fortune cookies, posters, hunting gear, calendars, wisdom books, t-shirts, chia pets, camoflauge matching bra and pantie sets, fake beards, deer salt licks, cans of seasoning, coordinating duck-camo paint colors for my entire home, school supplies, recipe books, hoodies, musical instruments, mag rags, and even duck tape plastered to every end cap and register row of every aisle of every store in America.  I’m sorry, and maybe I’m the only one in all of America, but I find this particular dynasty at least fifty shades of MORE annoying than the Biebster, One Direction, or the infamous twerk girl!

     You see I am learning to respond to a different call.  My commander isn’t impressed with all this mess quite frankly.   Don’t worry, loveable Uncle Si, Phil, Willie and the gang are going to be just fine!  They already had a booming business before they got their reality TV show, and their exclusive merchandising rights to everything ever invented since the beginning of time insures that they can afford to have an even better barber (should they ever need a shave) then 2008 Presidential hopeful John Edwards ever could have hoped to have had access to.

And before you call me a hypocrite because I actually believe in the free market, freedom of speech, and freedom to choose who you feel called to be, know that I also freely choose not to have this particular long-bearded portraiture tattooed on my flannel PJs obliterating whatever bit of feminine mystique I might possess.  It’s just not me.

It’s Christmas.  And my prayer is that long after the 75% off sale of DD merchandise everywhere fades into oblivion, and 2014 unfolds with an as-yet to be revealed ULTRA MEGA SUPER DUPER STAR, that you and I can learn to live more simply by having less:

Less irrelevant media.  Less crap.  Er, excuse me–merchandise.   Definitely, less sensitivity.

It really is true.  Less is more.   Thus sayeth Liz, your every-present activist advocating common sense, decency, and a bit of laughter to lighten your load in life!

Merry Christmas!  Quack quack!       

 

MMMLC (Mom’s Minor Mid-Life Crisis )

(Victory Song for Forgetful Moms at Mid Life!)

     Fiddle sticks!  It happened AGAIN!  It’s that thing I keep doing at mid-life.  I know, I know.  Guys do their thing:  Extended golfing trips, new convertible sports cars that only seat two, weekends in Vegas where what happens there, stays there.

Not me.  OH NO!  I have another type of mid-life experience.  It goes like this:

I have a grocery/supply/whatever list with a dozen or so things on it.  I write it all down, in case I can’t remember ten or twelve things in a row anymore, like I used to when I used to play “My Grandfather Had a Store” when I was a kid.

I grab my purse and phone and try to get out the door.  I realize I don’t have my keys in hand as I nearly lock myself out.  Gahhhh!  Where did I put the keys (again)?!  Check key rack.  Nada.  Nothing but a spider, making a web.

I finally find them, and high tail it to Wal-Mart in order to hurry up and get the few items on the list.  The goal here is to get in, get out, and get done before I get a case of anxiety since I still find myself shopping here even though I’m in mid-life.

Great!  After a useless fishing expedition in the deep crevices of my ancient Wal-Mart couture handbag from three years ago, I realize my scribbled out list is still on the desk by my computer at my home.

    I’ll just have to shop the old-fashioned way like I use to, and rely on nothing but my memory.  After an arduous hour of playing forty-something CONCENTRATION with myself, I leave with probably 55% of what was most likely on my shopping list.  $117.55 and seventy-five minutes later, I am safely outside the doors of this urban concentrated  metropolis of shoppers-on- scooters and oxygen-enhancement devices.  Please don’t call me out on this.  I’m not critiquing the health status of others here; I’m only reporting what I see. And this sometimes stresses me.  It’s my problem not yours.

     And that’s when I have my momentI’m standing outside in a sea of cars.  A feeling of déjà vu washes over me and I realize I had this exact same experience almost a week ago, to the hour.  I can’t remember where I parked my car.  I mean I haven’t the foggiest.  Did I park it near the McDonald’s entrance or the optometry and hair salon entrance?   Or perhaps gardening?

A somewhat sexy sexagenarian gentleman exits his midnight blue Porsche Carrera. He seems oddly out of place with his mirrored aviators and smooth silver hair that recedes only a little.  He looks like I do not:  pulled together.   I contemplate asking him for help, but think better of it.  Too late.  He pegs me faster than I can remember to hit the panic button on my key chain for moments such as these.

     “You look lost!he exclaims loudly.    “Oh no, I’m just trying to get some exercise before the sunsets.  I’m fine.  Really!”  I insist.  You sure about that?”   Actually, I’m not sure, but what business of it is yours, I think.  

See clearly, he’s already had his mid-life crisis and triumphed and come out the other side.  A leggy blonde with a rockin’ hair style gets out about this time on the other side.   She gives me a good once-over and I think to myself how she looks just like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Which also happens to be one of the most over-rated movies of all time, but I digress.  Don’t hate her just because she’s beautiful I tell myself.  So I don’t.   After all, they’re getting out at Wal-Mart too for crying out loud.  Perhaps they are in the throes of a severe financial setback.  Maybe I’m just too judgmental.

I go back to the mission at hand.  FINDING MY CAR!

A few more minutes go by.  Perhaps even a half hour.  It doesn’t matter because there by a faraway cart return, I spot it:  The old Buick.  Yes, the Gran Prix of Grandmotherly cars is awaiting its beloved owner to return.  I feel a tinge of excitement in my step.

She’s still got it!  I think to myself.  Yessirree!  The old mare is not ready for pasture just yet.  The brain still kicks in and engages.  It all floods back to me now when I see my car.  Now I remember parking it here!  I was sitting here and listened to talk radio for a good ten minutes or so and didn’t get out because someone from my hometown had gotten through.  Oh how exciting for them I thought.  They owned a restaurant and were talking of how the bad economy had affected their business and health care threatened it further.  No kidding I thought.   Now I remember!!!  I got so immersed in their sad story, I totally forgot about my life for a moment!

See this is how moms all over the country experience mid-life everyday.  We have jobs, and kids, and a million things on our plates.  We worry about our finances, our expanding personal middles and how to stay afloat in a shrinking middle class.  We think of our kids and all the ways they aren’t always living up to expectations and how we can’t magically fix things anymore for them.  We worry about our aging husbands, and do they have enough mojo to work hard for maybe only another 20 to 30 years.  If fate is kind, retirement in our eighties might be a possibility.  We think about how we are over-extended and somehow not ever doing enough at all times for all the people we care about.  We don’t feel old yet, but we do feel tired, and we look in the mirror and we don’t see the young sweet thing we once were and we miss her a bit.    We remember we need to get a bottle of blonde before we leave in order to hide the gray.

Yes, we busy moms lose ourselves sometimes It’s that magical mysterious moment when what happens in the Wal-Mart parking lot, stays in the Wal-Mart parking lot.   The good news?  We recover.  We pick up our dignity in the same manner we once picked up our children’s ejected binky off the pavement.  We dust ourselves off.  We put our lipstick on in the rear view long after the Porsche man is out of sight.  And we think to ourselves, the crisis of the moment, be it forgetfulness or wisftfulness, or any other possible catastrophe has passed.  At least for now.   

We put our car in gear and throttle it a bit.    We crank up a tune at half-volume:

Yeah, baby, she’s got it
I’m your Venus, I’m your fire
At your desire
Well, I’m your Venus, I’m your fire
At your desire

       I rush home with only half the things I needed to make tonight’s meatloaf at this half-way point in life.    I smile because despite having a mom’s minor midlife crisis, life is still, well……good! 

 

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: