Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quickie Lessons

1. Check the laundry. Children leave legos and crayons in their pockets. Visiting Grammas leave poise.
Both f-up the washer.

2. Celery is from hell. If you're at a Christmas party and they have celery on the table....leave. Go next door where they have brie baked in puff pasty layered with butter next to "taco dip", thousand calorie eggnog, and cookies named "fluff my ass."

3. I am damn old. One weekend...two parties. (fri & sat eves....um...yeah, I mean a.m.'s) Christmas shopping in between. Sunday I couldn't MOVE. I ate crackers. O.M.G.

4. Rushing to leave the house in a tornado hurry so you don't miss the BOGOs at K-mart means that if by CHANCE you shut the cat in the coat closet for nine hours....you will pay.

5. Spending two hours painting my toenails a provocative slick crimson and braving four inches of snow in my open toed, kick ass heels...totally was worth it when the "party bitch's" husband commented how sexy my feet were.

6. Those of you who were hoping for lessons on having quickies.....oh, I am so going there next.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Hell: Part 1

It's Christmas.


I can honestly say that we are....eight days from lift off. I have three children. And I'm like...12 percent done with my shopping. Maybe 13. While I might justify this with "last minute sales" and "BOGO on legos at K-Mart," the reality is that I've been.....traumatized.

Episode 1: Retard.

It's a mutter-word. We all think shit we'd never say outloud. We might murmur it, whisper it, snarl under our breath...but we don't actually say it. Until you're in Wal-mart, searching for the "legos with the motors." "The what?" "Mo-ohhhm, the MOTORS!" Yeah. And there I am. Ditched the boys in video games to cause havoc with anyone actually shopping for something--and I'm in the lego isle....and "What RETARD stocked these little...." And there he was--my 10 yr old. Owl eyes... lookin' at me.


We get in the car. "Dad, mom said retard." Little shit told on me.

Episode 2: Decorating

When you plan ahead for a Kodak moment...conspire to out-do Norman Rockwell...engineer holiday-licious delight...you are doomed.

Hot cocoa, Christmas tree, mistletoe and merry, carols on the stereo. Cinnamon candles mingle with orange and cloves....I've got star shaped marshmallows for goodness sake! I actually had cookie dough to bake afterwards. After...Deco-Night. That evening--with glinting sparkles, stockings hung, holiday cheer so thick you could cream your coffee. There was a ladder. In the foyer. I love the dark wood and trim and tile--it sold me this house in 3 seconds flat. Such potential!

Boxes of twinkle lights, a hammer, nails....jingle bells ringing--I call the boys. My 8 yr-old flies down the stairs and launches himself into my arms. The crack of his forehead against my jaw was audible all the way to the kitchen.

I reel....spinning, his body clings to mine I teeter and SMASH into the ladder. It whips over and crashes to the floor...pinning the cat's tail to the tile. Yowling like a cheetah, he flips backwards, pees on the floor, and falls down the stairs into the basement. Distant thrashing sounds are heard. Child and I gyrate across the room and descend upon the SINGLE live plant to be seen. Obliterated. Rebounding, we absolutely decimate the box of chocolates intended for the mailman.

We found the cat. Briefly. Disposed of the plant, ate the chocolates--never got to the lights. The mailman is getting skittles.

Episode 3: Library

Is there a place more warm, more inviting, more the embodiment of educational envelopment of our deepest aspirations than...the library. Especially when this particular library is actually a renovated Victorian mansion. We're talking FIREPLACES. Gorgeous woodwork, staircases....and as I enter, that smell--ancient knowledge, intelligence...good carpet. I approach the desk. She's so...librarian. She's savvy, clever, witty--you can just tell. And she was wearing holiday fluff. Wowza. Flashing Christmas tree earrings were competing with the battery powered candy cane that hung glowing from her pine-green sweater vest edged with gold thread and embroidered stars. She even had a Santa ring. There was garland in her hair.

"Please, can you help me resolve my son's over-due account?" She paused. She calculated. I was: an offender.

"Uh...he's eight. It was Thanksgiving break and he was with my ex and...." "HE OWES FIVE DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS." "Er...you don't have to shout--I'm right here..." "FIVE DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS!" At this point people were beginning to stare. "Ok, do you take debit?" "CASH ONLY." Um...(sweat beading on my upper lip, shifting my purse...I could smell my deodorant) "I'll be back with the--" "HE CANNOT TAKE ANYTHING OUT UNTIL THIS IS PAID." I smiled. I leaned over the counter...and hissed, "you say anything else and I'll fake a seizure and pee on your rug."

It still amazes me, the power of urine. She blanched. I later learned she was subbing....not a regular. If I ever find her home base...

Episode 4: The Party

Everyone has those "overload" weeks. Mine just happen to...breed.

Remember the gremlins. Dear God.

So I accepted a new position on Thursday--only to learn I was to teach a 6 hour english class in FOUR days. The next morning I was notified my ex was suing me. Sick kids, crazy family and a cat that has recently discovered the ability to piss in my basement without repercussion until the furnace kicks on. Damn if I don't wake up in the ER. Friday night, inescapable pain in the left side of my head. Passed out. They scanned my brain a few times, shot me full of morphine, wrote some scrips, sent me home with a neuro apt. Did I mention that SATURDAY we had a 50+ rsvp holiday bash planned with KIDS at our home? Shoot me now.

I co-host.

Awesome girlfriend....who called at 11:28am Saturday to tell me that she was ill and unable to make it.


I am NOT advocating parties on narcotics.

HOWEVER. Oxy-blah blah rocks. Decorated, cooked, dressed....kicked the damn cat out of the house and burned half a box of Nag Champa....and the mulled wine was killer. At 2:45am I kissed the last guest good-bye....and finished the merlot. I think.

Last night I watched "Olive, The Other Reindeer."

Bring it on.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Art of Anticipation

I was the photographer for a wedding this summer. It was a lusciously hot August day. Sublime sunshine and aquamarine skies were the perfect backdrop to a garden wedding at the conservatory. The bride was stunning, the groom elegantly handsome...perfection. Time raced by, my camera catching delighted grins, sheepish smiles, fairy-like little girls dancing in the grass. Hands holding, cheeks blushing, stolen kisses and tender glances... As the day melted slowly into evening I filled roll after roll of film with joy. Moments suspended like crystal stars that will be gazed at, held, cherished by many for generations to come.
As I snapped couple after couple, there came a moment with one member of the bridal party that I still smile over. She was funny, beautiful, and she gave me her glass when I was trapped sweltering on the sidewalk awaiting guests--earning my eternal gratitude. She wanted some pictures with her boyfriend and of course I obliged. As I turned and calculated lighting and space and angle I asked them to pose. I said, "now I want you to look at each other...click...and now slowly move to kiss her...click...and now--wait." They froze, half an inch from each other, the world lost as they gazed into each other's eyes...click.
They kissed, they laughed and pulled apart and she turned to look at me--a bit flustered. "Trust me," I said, "you're going to love that picture."
I have one of my husband and I, taken by a friend on the beach. Our lips seconds from contact. Every time I look at it I find I'm holding my breath. That moment the anticipation was like liquid fire in my veins. The pounding of my heart, the heat of expectation....the contemplation of the possible...the perhaps...
I believe anticipation is a shy thing. An experience that must be grown, cultivated, nurtured. Our current society seems to rest foundationaly on a quaking platform of instant gratification. The multitudes demand, and they receive. Do you remember the most simple desire and satisfaction as a child? Being thirsty on a trip to the store..."we'll be home soon." And that cool dulcet splash of water was delicious as it slid down your throat 20 minutes later. Now there's a convenience store on every corner to meet your immediate needs. Love that name, "convenience" store. Perhaps all of this 'convenience' is slowly eroding our ability to desire, long for...ache for something. Not just want. Wanting is the puddle, the shallow end of a two yr-old's reach for a new toy.
Anticipation is a discipline. It takes willpower to wait. I could never hope to count how often I have children hanging on the kitchen doorway as the aromas of dinner fill the house, begging for a snack. What? I've just spent 7 hours slowly roasting and basting and carving. The bread is baking, the veges simmering....and you want crackers? I think not! My mother always said, "appetite is the best ingredient." (chuckle) Oh, how I now agree with her...being hungry, is good. No matter the subject...being hungry is delicious.
As this holiday season is spinning about me, draping the world with brilliant lights and glittery snow...I am holding my anticipation close. Embracing the excitement, the thrill of the unknown in the sparkling packages beneath our tree, in new adventures, new horizons, sunrises. I'm swimming deep into the ocean of promise, not just for Christmas morning, but the new year. The new season before me. Learning to listen more, talk less. I am guarding my heart against the easy invasive wants that swarm us and threaten to choke. I will go hungry, I will desire, I will pause....for the taste of anticipation is succulent.