Thursday, August 28, 2008
"Where are we going?" the kids asked.
"To the movies," I said, "and if you're really lucky you'll get to see a double-feature."
We checked them out of school, deoderized them, clipped their toenails, cleaned out their ears, flossed their teeth and plucked their nose hairs before arriving at our destination by 8:30 am.
"This isn't the movies! This is the dentist!" said the kids.
"No, this is where we come to watch movies, and they clean our teeth while we're at it," I told them, but they were so on to me.
"This is supposed to be our family fun day!" They whined.
"Then I suggest you have fun!" I whined back.
We ended up watching a triple feature, (if watching The Bee Movie twice counts) because our dentist had extra time to fill our cavities. (bonus! more free toothbrushes, play money and light up yo-yo's to give away at birthday parties)
Fortunately I got the quiet hygenist so I didn't have to worry about making chit chat with a suction tube in my mouth. The only thing I had to concentrate on was where to rest my eyes, which is tricky. Making eye contact with that surgical mask and plexi-glass face sheild gives me PTS C-section flashbacks, and if I look at the bright overhead light for too long I swear I can see those who passed before me comin' for to carry me home. I steadied my eyes on a stuffed monkey in a Huck Finn hat and a silk flower lei which was hanging from a raffia vine on the ceiling. (It's an adult-proof dentist)
My husband got the chatty hygenist. Her room is much like my own when I was 13 and obsessed with Scott Baio--floor to ceiling magazine cut-out collages. Mostly of cats. The only thing she loves more than cats and dental floss is talking about cats and dental floss, (but only when she's scraping your teeth with sharp objects. When you're right side up with your mouth shut she's aloof).
Having the chatty hygenist clean your teeth takes twice as long as the quiet hygenist, with much more eye contact. She brings out flow-charts and flip-boards and power-point presentations to teach you how to properly floss your teeth. (Did you know, btw, that your middle finger, not your index, finger, is the most effective finger to floss with? Double dog dare you to try it sometime).
Once the training is complete the flossing commences, and as soon as your gums are adequately bleeding, she begins telling you stories of how her favorite cat was once in the hospital in a coma for 3 months. Her heartless husband kept telling her it was time to pull the plug even though she could feel the cat wasn't ready.
Usually I ask her to tell me the one about how she brushes her dog's teeth every morning and night and buys big doggy toothbrushes by the bulk--1000 at a time. I just love that story.
Yesterday I could hear her telling my husband about a trip she is planning to Asia, where you can adopt an elephant. First she will get to catch the elephant, then wash him, feed him and ride him through the jungle for 10 days.
Whodathought Dental Hygenists led such exciting lives?
Overall, it was a successful family fun day. For only $342.40 we got 3 movies, 6 flouride treatments, 32 x-rays, 5 fillings and a purse full of cinnamon dental floss.
Plus I don't have to feed the kids for a week. (wouldn't want to get their teeth dirty)
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
It's a real fish-out-of-water feeling. Like when I was in China last year visiting Xian University and 99.9% of all the students I met were English majors who could quote Hamlet better than me, an English teacher.
I was in China for 2 weeks and I went to lunch with students, played ping pong with students, danced with them, sang with them, and even bought pirated movies with them. And what did they want to talk about? Avril Lavigne. They all talked about Avril Lavigne. And Prison Break, and 24, and David Letterman, and George W. Bush, and of course, Hamlet.
My point is, I didn't feel like a stranger. Imagine how strange that feels in a strange land!
I call that a snow-globe moment. It's not the same thing as an ah-ha moment--no sudden striking realization. It's more a flickering, when your little bubble gets shaken and you get an inkling that there's a big wide world out there who knows the punch-line to a joke you've never even heard. And when you finally hear it, you scratch your head and think, huh?
Well, that's how I've been feeling lately.
It all started on Friday after my daughter performed with the dance team at the Kahuku Football game. Afterwards, one of her dance mates rushed towards her mom bubbling, I did a perfect Barrel tonight! Good job, said her mom, and I hit a perfect E. Yea! I can't wait until I can hit a perfect E! she gushed back.
Don't worry, I didn't get it either. But they did. They understood each other!
So I said to my daughter, "Hey, you hit a perfect baby-doll tonight."
She looked at me and with that mom's-are-from-venus-dad's-are-from-mars" face and said "What's a baby-doll?"
I began illustrating (until her eyes bulged out of her head). "That's NOT a baby-doll. That's a toe touch!"
"Well, in my day it was called a baby-doll."
TIP: Never say, in my day, around your teenager.
She rolled her eyes. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."
That was the first flickering. But last night I had another. It all began on our living room floor.
A classic Dad-helping-daughter-with-her-algebra-II scene. I wasn't paying much attention, but somewhere in between killing a cochroach and throwing out the moldy rice, their words began coming through in waves. Words like point slope form and slope intercept form.
Did you know that when a negative crosses the equal sign it becomes a positive? Did you know that anything squared is a curve? And did you know that when the line is perpendicular to y = x – 2 the slope is the negative reciprocal?
Neither did I.
(Snow globe moment!)
They were plugging a point into the slope–intercept formula, and solving for X. They were adding 2's and replacing y's and plusing b's, and she was saying hmmm and ahhhh and I was saying Did I give birth to you?
He was saying that an equation for the line parallel 2y=2x-2 is y equals 1/2, and she was saying oh, that makes sense now and I was saying and a baby-doll doesn't?
It's all Greek to me, and not Greek in that imaginary-romantic-encounters sense of the word.
Long story short, I'm feeling all alone in my little snow globe world, where negatives don't get to be positives just because they cross the dadgum equal sign and squares have to stay straight because they're just not supposed to curve.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
We first met at HCA (Hair Cutters Annonymous). There was a language barrier, she speaks vietnamese and I don't, so at first we communicated non verbally. I would make an un poco sign with my fingers and she would go ahead and chop 6 inches off my bangs.
Then I began showing her photos of super models I'd like to emulate. She would laugh hysterically and chop 6 inches off my bangs.
Finally I resorted to speaking, repeating the word trimmmm--several times loudly and slooooooowly. She would nod her head loudly and sloooooowly, and go ahead and chop 6 inches off my bangs.
I broke it off a few times and tried to make it on my own, but I always came crawling back, mostly because, after the initial shock-and-awe, I don't have to get another haircut for 9 months.
Today I paid her a visit after a whole summer away. I was admittedly nervous at first because, while on vacation, I got caught up in the moment and let someone else cut my hair. Before walking into the salon, I tossed a pinch of salt over my shoulder, did three Hail Mary's and hoped she wouldn't notice the change. At first I thought things were cool between us, but when she chopped 7 inches off my bangs, I knew she was holding a grudge.
Here are a few of the signs to help you determine if your hairdresser may be holding a grudge too:
1. She seatbelts you into the chair before shampooing your hair.
2. When you say the word trimmmm, she pulls out pruning shears and a leaf blower.
3. She sings La Vida Loca while sharpening her shears.
4. You don't remember the cutting cape being made of heavy burlap.
5. While making small talk she tells you Sweeny Todd is her favorite movie.
6. She then tells you she's seen it 113 times.
7. When she finishes thinning your hair, she starts in on your wobbly tricepts.
8. She cracks up while apologizing for accidentally giving you a mullet.
9. She cracks up while asking you if you'd like some mousse with your mullet.
So let me share what I've learned about herbs.
My neighbor gave me a whole list of fun ways to use herbs:
1. Herbal teas (both hot and cold): use homemade as a key search word.
2. Herbal butter logs (use herbs and chop it up, mix it with butter and freeze it in a log shape, then cut it up as needed and use it to cook fish, veggies, etc.)
3. Herbal Ice--take some of the herbs and put them in ice trays then freeze to create a nice flavored drink.
4. Herbal vinegars for dressings--search word, homemade herbal vinegars on the internet for recipes.
5. Potpourri--dry the herbs and use it as potpourri. (Mmmmm, I like this yummy idea.)
6. Herbal soaps--make liquid hand soaps and use herbs for the fragrance.
REMEMBER: When cooking with herbs the ratio is 3 fresh to 1 dry. Most herbs are easy to grow and you can buy them at several shops, including Wal-Mart and Shopko. They are fairly inexpensive .90 - 1.80.
And I saved the BEST idea for last.
7. Herbal baths--there are a lot of great recipes for herbal baths and therapy. Just search the key words "homemade herbal baths"
Here are some recipes I lifted from: http://www.diabetic-lifestyle.com/articles/may04_cooki_1.htm
Facial Sauna: There's nothing simpler or more effective for cleansing and purifying one's complexion. boil three cups water and add these herbs: 1 heaping tablespoon each of chamomile, lavender, fennel, lemon balm, sage, and rosemary. Simmer for 15 minutes; turn off the heat. Pour into a metal bowl.
Soothing Cleansing Herbal Soak: Hop into your bathtub for a long, soothing cleansing herbal soak, in the well-established European manner. You can prepare an herbal infusion on the stove or make up bath sachets to have ready in a pretty basket sitting beside your bathtub.
To make an infusion: pour boiling water over a handful each of rosemary leaves, mint leaves along with some thyme, lemon balm, and lavender flowers. Let steep for about 20 minutes. Add to your bath water and soak for 5 to 15 minutes.
An herbal bath helps you in two ways: first, your skin absorbs the essential oils from the herbs through the hot water, and then the steam makes the volatile herb oils vaporize in the air and release their marvelous fragrances. Some herbs stimulate your circulation, some soothe and calm you down, while others provide deep cleaning. It's the combination that provides the harmonizing effect that makes herbal baths so pleasurable.
Bath bags are easily made out of unbleached muslin, tied with twine. Using pinking shears, cut the muslin into 8-inch squares. Mix together 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers and chopped lemon balm, mint, chamomile, lavender flowers, and rosemary leaves. Place about 2 tablespoons in the center of each cloth square. Gather the muslin tightly around the herbs and tie with twine, first making a double knot and then a bow. Several minutes before getting into your bath, swish one of the herbal bath bags round in the hot bath water. It'll scent the water and the room, soothing your skin as you soak. Keep the bags in a pretty basket near your tub to have ready for the next time. They'll scent the bathroom at the same time.
Herbal Foot Bath: Soak away sore spots on your feet with a herbal foot bath. This steamy herb combination will stimulate your foot circulation, soothe your foot muscles, and soften the skin.
Combine 1/2 cup of each of the following herbs: chamomile, comfy, lavender, and rosemary. Infuse the herbs in a quart of warm water and pour into a foot basin partially filled with warm water. Wrap some of the herbs in cheesecloth to form a compress. Gently apply or massage this compress into any sore spot while soaking.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Today he generously dropped off a cluster of different herbs for us to enjoy. Problem is, he left them with my husband so the only thing I knew for sure was that they smelled delicious. I spent the afternoon with my nose pressed against them, inhaling deeply . . .mmmm . . . all the luxurious aromas swirling around me, transporting me straight to all those romantic encounters in Greece that never actually happened.
Hail lavender! Hail coriander! Hail parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme! (and hail Crosby, Stills and Nash while I'm at it).
This wasn't my first encounter with fresh herbs. Last Christmas this very same neighbor gave me a mint/lavender bath soak in a bottle. It was positively otherworldy--cleared my sinuses, opened my pores and sent me noodle-kneed into a deep and restful slumber where I dreamt of nothing by sugar plummed fairies all night.
So, today, for good reason, I was anxious to get down to business with these herbs.
But first I had to figure out what was what. After consulting with Dr. Google I found that I had me some parsley, sage, basil, rosemary and chives. It wasn't lavender and mint, but nevertheless, I threw them all in a pot of boiling water, anxious to let the healing begin.
Mmmmm . . . can you smell that?
Before soaking in a healing bath, I decided to give myself a healing facial sauna, with the promise that the pleasant herbal steam would penetrate deeply and cleanse every pore. I pulled my hair away from my forehead and bent over the pan, I draped a thick towel over my head to confine the vapors and I inhaled the herbal mist. But just as my pores were about to open up, my face melted off.
NOTE: I recommend removing your mascara before trying this at home. And try to pick a private time when your kids won't walk in with their friends and wonder why in the world you're melting your face off.
But if they do walk in on you, don't hesitate to let them melt their faces off too.
Next I scooped the herbs out of the pan and poured the herbal magic into my bath.
If you get freaked out by floating things in the tub, I recommend you strain the herbal magic before adding it to your bath.
I personally don't get freaked out by floating things so I settled into the water, took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
Aaaah, herbs!, I thought. Parsley, sage, rosemary, basil and chives.
Wait! Did I just say parsley, sage, rosemary, basil and chives??
suddenly it was all very clear. I wasn't sitting in a bath, I was sitting in a broth. All I needed were some chopped carrots, onions and potatoes and I would have made a lovely stew.
Next time I'll read the directions.
Friday, August 22, 2008
So my husband chopped it down for me in June, 2006 so I could sleep at night.
And look how the stalks have multiplied. (The better to stalk you with, my dear. heh heh heh--evil cactus laugh, in case you couldn't tell.) Check out the base of this thing? Don't tell me it doesn't make you want to scream and run?
There's a moral here. There's a definite moral here:
Beware what you plant, it just might take root. And while I'm dishing out wisdom . . . beware of what you close your eyes to and turn your back on and machete to death, it just might come back to haunt you.
I'm baaaaaack! heh heh heh . . .
(You have my permission to use this wisdom in your next Sunday school lesson).
So, the Olympics are coming to a close and I'm all sentimental-like and reflecting on one of my favorite Broadway shows of all time, Spamalot, that playful rip-off of Monty Python's Holy Grail. My face was sore for a week after seeing that play, but somewhere in all the silliness was a profound point:
Find your grail!
For those of you with that blank look on your face, let me illuminate: Dara is back home from China after winning herself a silver medal, (or should I say losing herself a gold medal by a fingernail--I feel your pain, Dara). Yesterday, on one of the morning shows, she was asked, incredulously, why, after dropping her daughter off at pre-school, she still goes to the pool and works out. As if she should stop swimming. As if she should be done now--or at least take a break.
DUH! of course she's back in the pool working out. That's her grail. There are no breaks from your grail!
Seriously, are you ever done with your grail? You spend half of your life trying to find it and the other half trying to hold on to it. You just got chills, didn't you, cause you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Your grail is your magic! The thing that gets you through your teenage angst and your new-mom melancholy and your mid-life boredom. It's the thing you do and think about and try not to do and think about in between the dishes and the laundry and bringing home the bacon. Oh, and the years of homework and practices and games with your kids. Oh, and the bazillion hours racked up doing your duty to God and your country. It's that thing you're willing to lose sleep over, and your job over and your baby weight over. It's that thing that gets you through your bad hair days. That super sweet spice that makes all the hard stuff and the ho-hum stuff easier to swallow.
That's your grail!
Then hold on to it for dear life!
(Swim, Dara, SWIM!)
If a peaceful dozing sleep is spelled Zzzzzzz, then how do you spell a snore?
I only ask because I've been laying in bed, wide-eyed, for the past 30 minutes trying to figure it out and I got nothin'. I know how it sounds, and I now know how it feels. Or should I say I now know you don't just hear a snore, you feeeeeeel it too. It's hard to believe after 20 years of marriage I'm just now realizing this. Other people who have stayed with us, or by us, or near us have mentioned the volume of my husbands snoring, but I've always shrugged it off with a "hmmmph, I never noticed." Mostly because I'm gifted. When I drop off to sleep you could run a mac truck over my face and I wouldn't stir.
But tonight I noticed!
I realize there are many of you out there right now saying, "I told you so!" and to you I concede that I understand now. I understand that snoring is much more than a sound--it's an experience. It's a ride that you can't get off once it begins. And you feeeeeel it begin. First in your nose as a tingle that builds into a steady vibration up through your nasal passages before it spreads across your cheeks and crescendos in your brain, making it twitch. I kid you not, my brain literally twitched. It was tweaking out. It could have been the poster child (brain-child) for This is Your Brain on Drugs!
But how do you spell that?
It's Saturday morning and my 10 yr. old was up at 7:30am writing sentences that aren't due until Wednesday--a sure sign that something was amiss. Finally, as we were getting ready to go to the pool, he came out with it.
"I'm BORED! I want to go 4-wheeling! I want to buy a 4-wheeler right now!"
I laughed, mostly because I can totally feel his pain. (Sadly, yes, I laugh at pain, but not because I find it funny).
"It's not funny! I want to go to town and buy a 4-wheeler!"
"We're going swimming. That will be fun," I said.
"Swimming? That's BORING! I want to go to town and buy a 4-wheeler."
So I gave him the let's-start-planning-and-saving speech and threw out a target date of a year.
"I have to save for a WHOLE yeeeeeear!?? I'm bored NOW! That's POO!!!"
(Okay, are my kids the only ones that use that superlative to express their discontent? My daughter has been using it on a regular basis. My hair looks like Poo! or This tastes like poo!)
Anyway, for some reason my son's boredom cheered me up a bit. See, I've been thinking lately about a documentary I recently watched called, Happy Valley. The film follows this woman through rehab? When she get cleans the camera pans in on her curled up in a rocking chair like a deflated ballon--no air, no angst--and asks her how she's feeling? "I feel just like everybody else . . . " she replies. Poignant pause ". . . boring." And that honesty hangs in the air for another poingant pause before she asks, "Is this how you feel everyday?"
Yes! That's how I feel everyday!
Question: Do you think mid-life crisis and mid-life boredom are like a rose by any other name would smell the same? (Do you think it would help if I went out and got myself a Mountain Dew addiction or something? ;)
Maybe I'm just experiencing mid-week boredom or mid-morning boredom.
OR, maybe my son and I are coming down from PVB (Post Vacation Boredom) or PSFFRB (Post Super Fun Family Reunion Boredom)
At any rate, it's not like I'm sitting around playing solitaire and doing Sadoku puzzles all day, (although I did play one game of solitaire yesterday--for the challenge, of course, but I actually won (totally true story) so even that was a bit dull). I've got far too much to do, it's just that . . . (between me and you) . . . YAWN . . . I'm bored silly doing it.
Now THAT's poo!
Have you ever just been sitting there watching the world go round and round and then suddenly realize that you're dizzy?
Or have you ever been thinking about someone, and right then the phone rings, and you pick it up . . . and it's not them. It's the automated car guy giving you the 30th final warning that your warranty is about to expire.
Or have you ever been making chocolate chip cookies and accidentally add soy sauce instead of vanilla?
I know just the thing to make you smile. It worked for me.
Situations Hallmark Cards Don't Cover
1. I always wanted To have someone to hold, Someone to love. After meeting you...
(inside card) I changed my mind.
2. I must admit, You brought religion into my life...
(inside card) I never believed in Hell until I met you.
3. As the days go by I think how lucky I am...
(inside card) That you're not here to ruin it for me.
4. Congratulations on your promotion. Before you go...
(inside card) Will you take the knife from my back? You'll probably need it again.
5. Someday I hope to marry...
(inside card) Someone other than you.
6. Happy birthday! You look great for your age...
(inside card) Almost lifelike!
7. When we were together, You said you'd die for me...
(inside card) Now we've broken up, I think it's time to keep your promise.
8. We've been friends for a very long time...
(inside card) What do you say we stop?
9. I'm so miserable without you...
(inside card) It's almost like you're still here.
10. Congratulations on your new bundle of joy...
(inside card) Did you ever find out who the father was?
11. You are such a good friend, If we were on a sinking ship, and there was only one life jacket...
(inside card) I'd miss you terribly. And think of you often.
12. Your friends and I wanted to do something really special for your birthday...
(inside card) So we're having you put to sleep.
13. Happy Birthday, Uncle Dad! (Available only in Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia)
14. Looking back over the years we've been together, I can't help but wonder...
(inside card) What was I thinking?
So yesterday my husband and I met at the pool during his lunch break. We were going to tread water and talk about our exciting life, but unfortunately the pool was full of actual swimmers, wearing swim caps and mirrored goggles and lapping intently back and forth. We quietly slipped into the only two open lanes. It was a classic case of peer pressure. I mean there we were, treading like that with our hair and our eyes fully exposed. I was sporting my sunglasses so I looked like a cool chica, but nonetheless like a big pool loser. At least a big lap-pool loser.
Long story short, Alan and I swam laps. Me, cool chica that I am, who has never swam a lap before in my life, actually did glide through the pool for at least 500 meters. We started off nonchalantly with that lap-swim-is-for-losers air about us, but once we got going we built up steam. After we hit that first wall and pushed off in pure Phelpsian style, it was nothin' but pool. Pretty soon we were side by side, huffing and puffing and by lap 3 I had pulled ahead by a full body length. I was kicking my husband's trash.
By lap 5 I felt sorry for him so I started doing the running man so he could catch up. (Did you not wonder what it felt like when you were watching the torch lighting during the opening ceremonies? I did too, so I tried it. You know when you dream that you're running, but you're not moving and it drives you insane. That's exactly how it feels.) So I did the running man for 100 meters and by that time Alan was creeping up on me, plus my thighs were burning, so I pumped up the jam. I didn't hold anything back. Alan was literally riding my wake. Unfortunately he rode my wake right into the wall and beat me by a fingernail.
Still, it was the best doggy paddle I've ever done.
The kids were out of school today so we slathered on some sunscreen and went to the pool. As soon as I jumped in to join the TWC (Treading Water Club) I sensed something wasn't right. We were in the way. We are never in the way.
Two little girls with bright blue swim caps and mirrored goggles were speeding towards us one butterfly stroke at a time. We darted (well, treaded) away only to run into 4 young boys in speedos relay racing the length of the pool. I had to take off my sunglasses and rub my eyes. Two of those boys were mine! That's when it hit me. My community might be coming down with Olympic Fever. I knew it was going around, and I knew it was contagious, I just never thought it could actually happen to us.
No one is immune. It could happen to you too.
If you experience more than 3 of the following symptons, you too could be suffering from Olympic Fever.
1. You decide to have your last name added to your swim cap.
2. You feel achey and sore when you do a round-off back handspring.
3. You add Stick It to your netflix list.
4. You break out in hot sweats every time someone mentions the name Michael Phelps.
5. You begin leaving voice messages on Mark Waters cell phone, suggesting he cast Nastia Lukin in Mean Girls 2.
6. You find yourself thinking Bella Corola is kinda sexy.
7. You start sneezing and wheezing every time you get off the couch to do housework or cook dinner.
8. You take the remote control with you to the bathroom so your kids won't turn the channel while you're gone.
9. When you notice Costco selling birthday cakes in the shape of a birds nest you think, What a cute idea!
10. You don't laugh when your husband says Mary Lou Retna.
11. You send an email to George Bush asking if he will change the age on your birth certificate.
12. You begin growing your fingernails in case fate comes down to 1/100th of a second.
13. You begin telling yourself If Dara can win a silver medal at 41 years old, I can run a stinkin' mile.
14. You begin telling your children If the Chinese can win gold medals at 10 years old, you can run a stinkin' mile!
15. (This one actually happened fo' real) Your son rolls out of bed in the morning, throws this hands to the ceiling and yells, I stuck the landing!
Please err on the side of caution and contact your physician immediately if you or someone you love are displaying any of these symptons.
Better safe than sorry!
Is it just me or do anyone else's jaws ache from hitting the floor while watching the Olympics? Is there no limit to the bedazzling things the human body can do? (Under aged and over aged bodies alike).
This is the question I was actually pondering while sitting on my couch eating cheetos and watching the finale of So You Thing You Can Dance. It was the night before the Olympics so I had no idea that the story of humankind was about to come to a climax in a birds nest in Beijing. Did anyone else sense that as you were scraping your chin off the ground during the Opening Ceremonies?
I mean, did we just peak or what? You know, We. Us. The collective whole. Civilization as we know it. Phenomenal things are being accomplished while I am sitting on my coach eating cheetos and watching So You Think You Can Dance. People are thriving, pulsing, reaching higher, spinning faster (this was my epiphany as I watched men's gymnastics and got the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge my stomach from my throat).
To borrow a phrase and drive the point home . . . I stand all amazed! (well, sit all amazed, actually--while eating cheetos).
Okay, enough about cheetos (notice I always use one key concept at least 3 times in each post--that's the first rule of being a writer. I learned that at writing school). ;)