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:

I Went to Wal-Mart and Got Depressed

Twilight MomI went to Wal-Mart today to get a memory card and came back with a mild case of depression.

I know why.

I parked all the way out on the last row in the gardening section.  I like stopping there first and make my way to the store because it’s easier to park on the side than in the middle.   Plus seeing all the plants and beautiful flowers helps me prepare for what I invariably see.

The faces of Wal-Mart.  Don’t laugh.  Yes, there are websites about this phenomenon. 

Still, I got depressed.

First, I profusely thank a beautiful woman from India who greets my arrival in gardening:  “Welcome to Wal-Mart!”  Her beauty is eclipsed only by a serene sense of joy.  I make a mental note to smile more peacefully and perhaps consider a gold stud in my nose someday.

Next I walk by pharmacy.  A Caucasian 25ish looking man is studying anti-diarhea medicines intently.  Bummer!  Oops, not my business.  Moving on.

A fortyish mom strolls by.  Her cart has about seven boxes of Tampax and one box of Great Value Fruit Spins Cereal.  She probably has a lot of daughters I think.  I wonder if her husband is attentive or tuned out to PMS drama.  Perhaps she doesn’t have a husband or seven daughters, and she’s about to make a hefty donation to a local shelter.  It doesn’t matter because I’ll never know!

I walk parallel to the cash registers as I make my way over to the grocery section.  That’s when I see a man in his early thirties with oxygen tubes running from his backpack to both nostrils conducting his banking business from a chair.  I utter a small prayer for him.  Lord, just heal him.  Amen. 

Next I see what looks like six similar sixty-something sisters walking towards me.  They are laughing joyously and have very large gaudy flower printed shirts on that resemble one another.  I am not one to judge or be bothered by people of copious size.  I just find it interesting that all are snowman-shaped in terms of physique and have shirts on that look as if they are in a 1970s time warp.  No judgment here, just observation. 

I make my way back towards electronics where I only need to get one thing:  A memory card for my camera.  I’m proud of myself; I didn’t grab a cart on the way in, so I’m super focused this time with no extra unplanned purchases!

I walk past the Crafts and Fake Flowers department.  I see a lady yelling profusely at her baby.  “I said STOP THAT!”   The baby begins to cry.  Do I intervene or walk on by?   I am running late.  I am a coward.   I justify or else lie to myself by thinking other people’s lives are not my business.

Two aisles over, I see a moderately large African-American woman scoot past me in a hurry.  I only see her from the back.  The reason she stands out the most is because she has a huge red silk Superman Cape on, complete with a Superman S in the middle of a yellow diamond on her back.  I assume she has clothes on underneath, but I’m not sure.  I hope she is off to save the distressed baby in the Fake Flowers department.  To each her own I think.  I am just about in electronics. 

A tall thin Arabic young man is politely helping another customer with a question.  I patiently wait.  A few minutes pass; he finishes answering the customer’s question and quickly took steps to evade me. Believe me I understand, if they help every person that ask them a question, they probably won’t have time to clean their area, stock it, ring people up etc.  I blurt out anyway.  “HEY!  I need your help!  Can you please come with me and unlock the doo-hickey that keeps the memory cards on it?”  (For security purposes—otherwise every picture-clicking thief would just lift these tiny little storage units.)

He walks over with me.  “Oh, you can just pull it off the rack.”  And with kind smugness, he shows me how you can just slide an item off of a straight pole.  Apparently, they are no longer locked up on the pole, they are encased in plastic vaults on the pole that you can just take  to the register where they will promptly wave a magic shoplifter tool over it and extract it for you.

I thank him for his kindness and apologize for my stupidity.  “No problem,” he says gleefully.

I realize it’s been less than five minutes and all of a sudden I am feeling stressed but can’t pinpoint exactly why.

I go to the register and a woman in a sari and hijab rings up my memory card.   Almost done!  I feel myself getting happier inside.  Oh no. Five swipes and my credit card doesn’t go through.  I swear I have money I want to say.  After all, I’m the only person in all of Wal-Mart getting stalled out over one item on their charge.  “It’s okay” she says, “let me try.”  She slides it on the register’s card reader.  It works!  Vindication!

I decide as long as I’m here and mildly hungry, I may as well get a quick smoothie and small fry at the McDonald’s at the opposite end of gardening.  I pass the nail salon where five Asian women are furiously filing, filling, and painting several sets of fingernails.  That’s when I almost gasp when I get to McDonald’s.

There at one of the tables is a man and a woman together, both in wheelchairs, drinking out of a large Styrofoam cup and eating some fries.  Both look like they are in their fifties.  Both clearly have had a stroke as I watch their hands shuffle and try to cope with the items in their bag.  The man looks really tired and weathered.  He has a gray beard that rests on the middle of his stomach which rests on his lap.   I internally say a simple tiny prayer, just “God bless them.  Help them if they need it.”   I smile at him.  He doesn’t smile back. 

I grab my small order and berate myself for buying fast food yet again when I don’t really even like it that much, but was in a hurry and I still haven’t been to the store yet.  Rather than forage for food in my barren pantry, I took the easy route again.

I walk the length of a football field all the way back to gardening.  I finally arrive at my car.  I see old cars with missing hub caps and several with all the windows rolled down.  It’s hot outside; their A/C’s probably don’t work.  I see an employee try to corral about fifty wayward carts with a single strap all by himself. 

I start my car and am just incredibly happy I’m leaving.  See I love diversity and diverse people.  I really do.  But for some reason at Wal-Mart, I get sad.  I see people who just look like they have challenging lives.  I see lots of people younger than me in scooters.  I see weathered faces.   I see people that look worn out before their time, older than their true years.  And then I remember; I am a face at Wal-Mart.  Who knows the sympathy I may garner unaware?

Maybe it’s not Wal-Mart or the people that shop and work there at all.  Maybe it’s just the vastness and quantities of items contrasted against such a sea of humanity.  It just doesn’t go together…all the cultures, and shapes, and colors, and personalities and varying degrees of health, all swirled around with blenders and towels and diapers and DVDS and fake flowers and groceries towering under a fluorescent sky and vinyl earth.    

Something just feels all wrong I think.  These people should be out shopping in open air markets, or walking their dogs, or cuddling their babies, or eating an apple/cranberry/spinach salad, or receiving medical treatment, or taking a long walk on the beach, or reading a book for five minutes without once looking at their phone.  Then again, who do I think I am?  Who am I to judge?

I get my memory card.  But more so, I get in the car with a load of memories.  Ah, the more to write about, the more to write about. 

DISCLAIMER:   I have NEVER or WOULD NEVER take pics of anyone at Wal-Mart no matter how tempted unless I had permission.  I just did a Google image search and since these pics are always taken unaware, I chose one that is not distasteful, embarrassing, or over the top.  I picked this one because it shows how we are all a montage of personalities; we all want to put our mark on the world in our own way!  Besides, who doesn’t internally smile when Rob Pattinson looks at you with those mysterious Edward Cullen eyes?  Even if it’s off the back of another mom!

 

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.