Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Sun'll Come Out...in April

It's really cold here in the Twin Cities. I mean, not unusually cold or anything, given that it's January, but still cold. Like, hat-scarf-mittens-boots-long-underwear cold.

Occasionally on cold days, when I need a little pick-me-up, I like to watch this video. It's a reminder of a few things:
  1. Hell has not actually frozen over, we just choose to live in the frozen tundra.
  2. Someday I will see the sun again.
  3. I better go to work so I can take another vacation.
Today, I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy.

video

Btw, that's Mazatlan circa 2006.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eat Pie, Be Happy


Are you eating pie right now? You should be, because it's National Pie Day! Let us all celebrate the wonder of flakey crust and gooey fillings. Let's also celebrate the fact that our nation has a Pie Council...what a good job that must be.

In honor of this holiday, the boys and I are making Cookie Cake Pie. It's a cheater pie, I know, but doesn't it just make you smile (in an "I'm gaining 20 lbs. right now" sort of way)? And no, this undertaking will not allow me to cross off #2 from my 40 by 40 list. I intend to make a real pie for that one, complete with the homemade crust...people tell me that it's easy, but I made the mistake of taking a pie-making class a little while back and the pastry chef who taught that class did not make it look easy. Her pie was fantastic, but it intimidated me.

Days devoted to baked goods are just nice, aren't they? This pie holiday made me think "There should be a National Cupcake Day!" and then, of course, it turns out there is a National Cupcake Day: Dec. 15. How this information escaped me until now, I'm not sure. Shouldn't the Food Network have had a day of special programming or something?

I guess I will have to bake and eat many, many cupcakes between now and the next Cupcake Day in order to compensate...

So anyway, Happy National Pie Day! What better excuse to eat pie? Lots and lots of pie.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Something

I write. I delete. I write. I delete.

I am conflicted between wanting to express what I've been feeling about this latest incident with the teenager and this feeling that it's private...or maybe just that it's boring. I mean, aren't we all just a little tired of the ongoing saga of my wayward stepson? I know I'm tired. I get the feeling my friends and family are tired of it.

I guess there just isn't much more anyone can say...we're beyond surprise or alarm. We're in full-on acceptance of the fact that nothing is going to change unless 1) he decides to change it, and 2) the people around him decide, as Jeff VanVonderen always says, "There's nothing we won't do to help you get better, but there's nothing we will do to help this continue." Enabling sucks.

And so, I'm done talking about that topic for now. Even though it colors everything else I talk about...

There are bigger things happening in the world. People are experiencing tragedy they did not ask for and could not have prevented. And my heart goes out to them. I want to reach through the television and rescue those tiny orphans. Instead, I sent my donation. And good thoughts. Because at least it's something and something seems a lot better than nothing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy Ending Pending

Did you know that when your child turns 18, the ER will still call you if he is admitted, but they won't be able to tell you anything? So you'll be forced to go down there completely clueless, thinking terrible thoughts the entire way, wondering what you're going to be told when you arrive.

I actually spoke the sentence, "If they were asking you to come identify a body, they would have told you that, right?" I'm going to assume the answer to that question is yes. I hope that I never have to find out for myself.

Without going into detail, let's just say the teenager delivered our very own Just Say No-themed afterschool special this morning, only it remains to be seen whether our protagonist will fully comprehend the moral of story.

He is okay. I feel a combination a relief and anger. I'm frustrated and sad. I wonder if this will be that long-awaited moment when enough is enough. When it won't be worth it anymore. When the bad finally outweighs the good.

I feel like this sequence of events is out of order, like this should have happened sooner, before other things that have happened. The perceived inevitability makes it feel like an item on a checklist, like it's what we knew would happen...like because it hadn't happened yet, he wasn't really going to move forward.

I think what I'm trying to say is that I want to believe something positive will come out of this. I don't know what else to do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sleepless

I've been having trouble sleeping. I've never been a great sleeper (I wake often and easily), but I typically stay at least mostly asleep for a good 7-8ish hours per night.

The last two nights I think I might have gotten 5 hours of sleep total. Why? I have no idea. My husband is out of town, but this typically has the effect of making me sleep better, sprawled sideways across our entire king-sized bed. (Anyone who says they like to snuggle while they are asleep is lying or insane...or possibly addicted to sedatives that prevent them from noticing how heavy limbs can be when draped across your unconscious body. Snuggling is a great awake activity, but once I'm ready for sleep, you can keep to your side, thanks.)

So yes, I've been up all night, starting somewhere around 12:30 a.m. (I usually fall asleep around 10:30 p.m. because I am old and I get up by 6 every morning) and lasting off and on until around 4:30 when my body decides it would suddenly like to sleep very deeply. If I am treadmilling in the morning - and I've been trying - I have to get up at 5:30 a.m. It's not good.

My only explanation for this sleeplessness is anxiety. And possibly Lady Gaga. It didn't start until I downloaded The Fame Monster and I will admit that "Paparazzi" did run on a constant mental loop last night. Perhaps I am anxious about the fact that I would rather have "Bad Romance" or even "Speechless" stuck in my head all night? No, I don't believe that's what's waking me.

Am I anxious about work? Maybe. There was (again) talk of making me an employee and now that's back on hold again for budgetary reasons, so I do often sit and weigh the pros and cons and wonder what it will take to find a job I just know that I want...if suddenly I could have any career, what would I do? Would I wish myself the courage and willpower to sit down and write finally? Maybe so.

Maybe it's Chuck Klosterman. Come to think of it, I just started his "Killing Yourself to Live" audiobook (audiobooks make my commute so much better) on Monday. The narrator (who is not him) drives me a little nuts, but that's at least partially because I've been listening to David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs for the last several months, so I am now accustomed to having the author narrate.

Anyway, I really like this book. His musical commentary is both irritating and endearing, as rock critics generally are. It makes something ache inside of me. As with everything I like, it seems, I am envious. My inner voice could be a kindred spirit to his narrative voice. I am envious that he learned (or perhaps was born with the ability) to articulate his inner monologue. And I do mean articulate as in it's articulate. Sure, he rambles, but his observations can be witty and fleetingly concise and fully-formed in a way that I have not mastered. To be clear, I don't have rock critic envy, just writing envy.

I wonder how much more I would enjoy books if I wasn't constantly thinking, "Why can't I write like that?"

So it seems we've got career uncertainty, fear of failure and Lady Gaga as possible causes of my sleeplessness...since two are fairly routine parts of my life, I'm going with Lady Gaga on this one. Those infectious beats must have triggered some sort of epinephrine-like response. Maybe that's her super power.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Not Well-Suited

There's a story from my Hawaii trip that I thought deserved its own entry. It's a cautionary tale, ladies.

You may remember my pre-trip swimsuit parade, which began in November. After ordering way too many swimsuits, I found one that I didn't hate. I even liked it a little. And it was a perfect compromise between swimdress and bikini...a skirtini or something. A bikini top with a skirted bottom (but not in a 4-year-old kind of way).

As a back-up, I also decided on a black retro one-piece suit that covered everything up. The rest all got sent back.

So it's day two of our dream vacation. We are sitting on Waikiki Beach. The sun is shining and the boys have joined forces with a Canadian family to build a monster sand castle (I suspect it was because that family had buckets and shovels). Feeling that perhaps I shouldn't dump my kids off on a complete stranger and his kids, I join in on the castle-building and attempt to make small-talk (one of my least favorite activities). Once my hands are entirely caked in sand, I decide it is time to rinse them off.

So up I go, take two steps, bend down to rinse my hands in the tide and "Snap!" My carefully chosen bikini top is suddenly dangling from the string around my neck.

Thankfully I was facing the water, not the beach, so aside from the Canadian dad, who was mere feet from me and likely got a nice side shot (though he graciously pretended not to notice a thing), I mostly only flashed a few children floating in the water before grabbing my straps and sprinting back to my husband, who was blissfully unaware of the situation, so engrossed was he in his book.

"My swimsuit came unhooked!" I whispered, trying not to draw attention, expecting him to simply re-latch it. However, upon examination, it was discovered that the plastic clasp that was supposed to keep me entirely G-rated had snapped in half. Now, to be fair, I had commented probably only an hour earlier that one day of resort-living (think buffets and tropical drinks) was already making me feel fat, but this was uncalled for.

And this is where I'd like to thank my cute little cover-up for saving me from having to walk the half-mile back to our hotel room holding my top closed. (The same cover-up that I accidentally left in the bathroom of our hotel at check-out. Dammit.)

More than being embarrassed, I was pretty pissed off at the shoddy craftsmanship. So what is the moral of this story? Function should trump form? Don't order swimsuits off the internet? Always have a back-up? We should all wear potato sacks to the beach?

Well, the one thing I know for sure is that I will never buy anything from Shape FX again.

The bikini incident would have been enough on its own, but wouldn't you know that after three days of wearing my back-up suit (also from Shape FX), the plastic piece that lets you adjust the straps broke off? (And being short and flat-chested, I needed to adjust my straps.) Perhaps the company was founded as an elaborate scheme to leave women topless? I can't be sure, but they won't be getting any more of my business.

And so, after all of that, I am once again left suitless. (Shape FX has agreed to refund my money for the bikini. The other suit got left in Hawaii alongside my cover-up.) Good thing I have no plans to go anywhere near a pool for at least another few months. This time I will be shopping in real stores...and performing various beach poses in each suit to test its durability. Lesson learned.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A New Year and Another Item Off the List

This is how I greeted 2010. On the beach, with my husband and my boys, watching the sunrise. How can this year be anything but good?

Sure, sure, there's plenty left out of that picturesque scene. I skipped over the 11+ hours of travel time the day before, which made it impossible to stay up past 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve, which (combined with the time difference) caused us (and really, I mean my children) to be up before 5 a.m. on New Year's Day, while everyone else in the world slept off the revelry of the night before. We actually stood outside Starbucks until it opened...at 6 a.m.

But none of that matters. It was a perfect way to start the year. Perfect.

Maybe it was even more perfect because I was able to completely blow off New Year's Eve as an event, since the event was really getting my family to Hawaii. Most years I tell myself that I'm not going to make a big deal about NYE, only to find myself in panic mode after Christmas, thinking that my fate as lamest person alive will be sealed if I don't quickly find something sparkly to do on Dec. 31.

I am now a big fan of traveling on New Year's Eve and making the big event the starting of a new year somewhere fabulous. Who knows if I'll keep up this tradition, but I still recommend it.

So Happy New Year to you. I hope you've been able to greet 2010 with a sense of excitement, hope, gratitude, or something similar. It's going to be a good year.

And for those who are wondering, Hawaii was amazing. It's hard to convey the magic of the trip by simply telling you that when we weren't on the beach, we were either eating or up in our hotel room, where my husband and I refereed a gazillion rounds of bed jumping, a game that involves our boys jumping back and forth between the two beds until one of them either crashes into the wall or misjudges the distance and lands on the floor. Good times.

In addition to all of that action, we did get to take a submarine into the ocean and see 16 kinds of fish and a sea turtle. We also took a road trip to the rainforest, where we not only hiked, but stumbled upon one of the sets for the new season of LOST (awesome!). We also trekked up to the North Shore and watched tiny kids surfing fearlessly, which caused me to realize that I am even more overprotective than I thought. Oh, and we had the legendary Matsumoto shave ice, which was bigger than our heads.

I have lots of commentary I could make on the pros and cons of staying in a luxury hotel, but again, those are pretty minor given how great it felt to spend a week in a tropical paradise with the people I love. (Not to mention that it was below zero here in Minnesota nearly the entire time we were gone.)

Hawaii is amazing. I only wish it were slightly closer and less expensive, but then I suppose that's part of why it's so amazing.

So cross off #4 on my 40 by 40 list! What's next? Well, I'd like to think that I will complete #21 this year, but I suspect that it might be easier to plan a two-week trip to Key West over Christmas, during which I eat key lime pie, read Ulysses and get a tattoo. We shall see.