Friday, September 28, 2012

Technologically Illiterate

I've always been at least 10 years behind technology, sometimes more. I finally just got rid of movies on VHS a few months ago. And you don't even want to know when I switched to a digital camera or when I learned to text. I was very late to the party. A party I didn't even want to go to and drug my feet all the way there. Because, I don't like change. Or staying out past 11pm. And I hate spending time trying to figure out how things work. Which makes me realize, I don't think it's just my cell phone that's outdated, I think it's me. I'm completely technologically illiterate.

I could use the excuse that I've been in Africa for the last two and a half years with shoddy internet service, an old computer, a crappy cell phone and no tv. And that's why I'm so far behind. But it started way before that. And truth is, I've just never been too interested in anything with a screen. I don't like video games and I can't give up trading in turning the pages of a book for the convenience of a kindle. Even though it would be really good for the environment and would help unclutter my house. I'm just a bit more retro. Retroactively lazy.

Take last night. The kids didn't have much homework, so I thought they could watch some tv, even though we don't normally watch tv on school nights. Having no idea what's on, I looked it up. Or I tried to. I looked up Comcast cable, which is what we have, but, it's not listed under that. It took me a while to realize it's listed as xfinity. Anyhow, I scroll through the schedule of complete and utter crap until I finally find Dirty Jobs. Perfect. Except, of the numerous channels I pay for, of course we don't get THAT one. And you know I don't have a DVR so there is no convenient stash of cool programs like Myth Busters ready to go in it's stead. Although, I admit I still do have a VCR. Although, I still don't know how that works and we don't have any tapes left to play anyway. Finally, we just flicked around and found the Disney channel. Which I can't believe I got. Then I thought about it and I'm sure there's just going to be a charge on my next cable bill for a fast pass or something.

Over the summer I got a MacBook Pro. Not because I wanted one. Because our two computers we had in Morocco got fried in the voltage conversion and stopped working. We've never owned an apple before. Although my kids used apple computers in school before. So, while they were familiar with how to use them, I wasn't. Even though Craig set up accounts and parental controls for the kids, I still don't know how those work. And I know the kids can completely outwit me. Not that they've tried. At least I don't think do. Now I'm questioning if having my oldest son tutor me on how to use the computer is a good thing or not. What if he's just trying to figure out what I don't know so he can use that against me and have access to anything he wants?

Then there's my cell phone. It's the cheapest piece of crap Walmart sells. After all, I don't need fancy bells and whistles. That would just mean I'd have to learn how to ring the bells and blow the whistles. All that matters is that I can call and text. But, when I started texting, I realized I can't see the letters without my reading glasses. And hell if I'm going to go find my glasses to use my phone. So I'm pretty sure there are a million typos in my texts if they're decipherable at all. To make matters worse, just yesterday, my punctuation buttons stopped working. So now, I end up typing one big, long typo infused run on sentence. Which then necessitates, me calling the person to clarify what I just texted. Which, of course, defeats the whole purpose of texting in the first place.

I am one of about 134 people left in America who still has a house phone. Obviously, I need a house phone, because my cell phone is so crappy. But, I don't have a normal house phone. We have a vintage 1940's rotary dial telephone. Not only am I completely confined to a two foot radius while I'm on the phone, the only people who call on it are telemarketers and debt collectors. And the phone is located right next to my computer where I do my writing. So yesterday, after a few calls from the Mitt Romney campaign and about 20 more from debt collectors looking for Matthew, I'm pissed. So call number 21 goes something like this:

Debt Collector: Can I speak to Matthew?
Me: There is no one named Matthew here (spoken in my angry voice). You know, I get like 20 calls a day for him and he DOESN'T live here!
Debt Collector: Did you get separated or divorced?

Just to let you know, no one's called for Matthew today. But, I am thinking about getting caller id. I figure that will bring me up to the 1990's at least.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Penis Envy

This past friday night I hosted Fiesta Del Fuego at my house. It was in honor of my friend Lynn whose house burned down in the Waldo Canyon fire. A lot has happened in the two and a half months since then, and now she's buying a new home in our neighborhood and is set to move in in a few weeks. I offered to help her move. But, I guess when everything you own is incinerated, everything you own fits in your car pretty effortlessly. Seriously, why don't I think before I speak?

So my friend Lori came up with the idea of throwing her a shower, so we could help fill up her new house with all the essentials she would need. Which was absolutely everything. So, we started planning the way women do. And we planned it should be women only. Well, sort of. We decided we should invite some local firefighters to come help us celebrate. You know, just to be neighborly and say thanks. Not because they were sending two smokin' hot calendar boys to my house for us to ogle. No. I was much more philanthropic that that. We bought loads of their 2012 calendars and I'll remind you, there's only 3 more months left to use it this year. The fact that they were smoldering and stayed for hours doing shots with us was just a friendly, neighborly bonus.

A few days before the party, a quartet of us met for coffee to finalize the party plans. So we discussed who would do and bring what. And as we were chit chatting away, a couple of my friends mentioned they were going to go to a local sex shop to get Lynn a gag gift. When a friend delivers the best one-liner of all time. "I don't have time to get a dildo today", with a straight face. Because she totally didn't even realize what she said until I started snort-laughing. And yes, she did find the time after all. Then they wrapped up that sizable gift and Lynn opened it while the firefighters were still there. Everyone went home with a bit of penis envy that night. Probably the firemen mostly.

On Saturday morning, we packed up the family to go backpacking in the mountains with friends. We'd be staying overnight at an elevation of 9800ft. The hike in was gorgeous, because the year has been so dry the aspens have started turning a brilliant yellow earlier than usual. This is Colorado at it's best. And because there were eleven kids in our group, they were on their best behavior. The adults were at their best when happy hour started and the wine began flowing. Which really is the best way to stay warm while camping.

When the fire died out, we all headed to our sleeping bags to turn in for the night. The temperature dipped down below 30 degrees and I put on my wooly hat and curled up into a ball to try to stay warm. Which didn't really work, by the way. Despite my discomfort, I must have drifted off for a while before I woke up with the most urgent need to pee. I contemplated for a full hour, at least, if getting up to relieve myself was worth it. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer and committed to getting out of my sleeping bag. Although, I was less committed to finding my shoes because that would have meant more me-freezing-my-ass-off-to-piss time. So, I walked and found a spot on a downslope, bared my ass, copped a squat and let out a world record worthy stream of piss. Without peeing on myself even. Sincerely, it was Guinness-worthy. Unfortunately, there needs to be a witness for it to be official though. And since bears don't have opposable thumbs, they couldn't work the stopwatch.

But, in that hour before I decided to get up to pee, I just lay there thinking how easy it would be to accomplish this task if I had a penis. All I would've had to do was simply stand up in the sleeping bag, pull it half way down, whip out my junk, aim at my target and hit it with a beautiful arching trajectory. Not that I would notice the trajectory, because I'm pretty sure I could do this with my eyes half shut. So yeah, when I camp I get penis envy. I'm positive I'm not the only one. There's a lot of women who would cop to it too. From a squat position of course.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'm a Big Fat Liar

So I lied. Yup, I'm a big, fat liar. I told you Rock The Kasbah would end at the end of summer. I had really great intentions. I was going to go out with a big blockbuster ending. A music video to the song Rock the Casbah by The Clash. It would have started with me rolling up to an oil field in a convertible Cadillac with a sword balancing on my head wearing roller skates with the kids in the back dressed like sheiks. Craig would be Joe Strummer on the guitar, of course. This is the point that the jets would come from overhead and bomb us. And then we'd all start dancing. I'd be pole dancing on the oil drill bit. That was probably obvious though. This all might be a bit too expensive though. And let's face it, Sharif wouldn't like it.

Don't get me wrong. I totally intended to end it. I mean I would have started a new blog in it's stead and everything. But one that had a more Colorado title. So it wouldn't confuse people. And maybe I'll still do that at some point. Right now though, I've moved on to other projects.

Continuing belly dance.

And starting pole dance.

Unpacking all the boxes we got from Morocco.

Keeping up with the homework and all the nagging having four kids entails.

Fixing our house that is sinking into the ground.

And, this week I officially started writing Rock The Kasbah, the book.

This probably wasn't the best week to decide to start. I still have all these moving boxes to contend with. I have a pulled muscle in my forearm from pole dancing that makes it uncomfortable to type. Oh, and there has been a jackhammer in my backyard for the last two days to help fix the problem that our home. Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on writing when a jackhammer constantly reminds you may soon be homeless. But the fun part is guessing whether we'll lose the house because it disappears into the earth or from the debt we'll go into to fix it. So, it's been a real slow start on the book. But, it's so gonna be worth the wait. It's gonna have some awesome pyrotechnics.

Did I mention I'm a big, fat liar?

(It occurs to me if you're not familiar with the song Rock the Casbah by The Clash or a regular reader here, the symbolism in the first paragraph might elude you. In which case, you need to rectify this situation immediately. After you've played the video. Then you could click "You might also like" and read another post. Unless you just want to wait to buy the book.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Thick as Thieves

I was so excited for this past weekend. I thought everything would go swimmingly. I really did. But, underneath that, a little insecurity plagued me. What if she didn't like me anymore? Or stopped thinking I was funny? Then, what if she'd changed? And she wasn't goofy anymore? Oh my god, what if our relationship doesn't transcend Morocco?

I first met Kim on the phone when a very abrupt woman at a garage sale in Morocco shoved a phone dialing my husband in her hand. This is just one of the many ways that expats meet each other. All that is required to become friends is that you're American and speak English. Or in this case, that you have kids. The woman with the phone was a co-worker of Craig's, but didn't have any children. But, she assured Kim we had a kinder smorgasbord. So, Kim, unexpectedly even to herself, invited us out on a blind date family style. We met for ice cream. And that was the unusual introduction that started our unusual friendship.

Turns out, Kim and family are our next door neighbors here in Colorado. Ok, maybe they aren't right next door. But, Boulder is only an hour an a half drive from us. Both of us just had to move to Morocco to meet each other.

We were thick as thieves from day one.

Within the first couple of weeks she invited me to get naked with her for my first hammam.

We shopped, got caught in protests and braved what to do when your car gets booted in Morocco together.

She came with me when I tried my first social experiment to see if we could get our shoes shined at one of the male only cafes.

And she took me out on my 41st birthday where we got kicked out of a mall and then hung out with prostitutes .

In other words, she was always up for anything and we just had a great time together. Not only that, we both had similar politics and a similar distaste of the Embassy bubble lifestyle. Oh, and bonus, our kids and husbands got along too.

So, when we went to stay at their house this weekend, it didn't take two minutes to realize we're still thick as thieves. Especially when she told me this reminded her of me.

She gets me. She really gets me!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Talkin' Bout a Revolution

This post is about a revolution. But not the Arab Spring type. And although a post on that would be extremely timely. It would also be depressing, especially right now. And I think we all need a bit of a break from that. Or at least I do. So, I'm not talkin' bout that kind of revolution. Nope. Today, I'm talking about a fitness revolution. On a pole.

It was a few months ago when we still lived in Morocco that I first saw a pole dancing competition on youtube. I was completely enthralled with the pure athleticism of the women performing. And that's when I knew that somehow, I had to get on a pole. But, as you may have guessed, there is no such pole revolution in Morocco. I simply had to wait until we got back to the states. And when we did, I took to the internet to see if Colorado Springs had pole dancing classes. It does.

My search led me to Pole Revolution which just opened its doors and greased its poles this last January. It's run by a woman who looks much younger than her age, named Diane who wasn't into fitness until her first spin on the pole about 4 years ago. Right now she teaches dance part-time. And her other part-time job? She's a chaplain. I swear to god it's true.

So I arrived at the studio for my first one on one lesson, not sure what to expect. I should probably have started with a prayer. But I went more of a wing and prayer. Kinda like the Greatest American Hero, which will figure in later. It looked like any generic office space except that instead of cubicles there were poles. And I've never looked at commercial carpeting as treacherous before now. But when you factor in a pole, some scratchy berber and me, the floor is starting to look very unforgiving.

In the corner there's an array of stripper shoes to borrow. Maybe I should have bought those shoes in my post Truth is... after all. Although I'm a total klutz in heels. And one should probably master walking in them before flailing around on a pole and possibly impaling living creatures with a stiletto. So, I think the world is a safer place with me going barefoot today. Probably everyday.

Diane introduces me to my pole. His name is Pedro. How cool is that? Should I vote for him or mount him? Neither. Apparently, you clean it first. So I spray it and wipe it down, which feels a little pornographic. But, hygiene comes first. After all, I don't know who Pedro was with before me or how far they took their relationship.

We start by strutting around the pole. Now, you may not realize how ridiculous me strutting is. I'm a very brisk and efficient heel toe kinda walker. And I have the gait of a truck driver. So trying to walk slow and sexy is a bit painful. And hilarious. This is gonna take some practice. A lot of practice. If only someone could turn this bottle of water into wine, that would probably help too.

Then it's time to get this revolution in full swing. And she starts teaching me all kinds of things. (Sweet baby jesus help me now.) Crazy things that I don't even know the names of. So of course, I made up my own.

I was going to call this one the lemur climbing a tree. But on second thought, I think coochie pop might be more appropriate.

Then there's the Greatest American Hero. See I told you I'd bring that one back. And see how it goes with wing and a prayer? Do you? Unless you're young enough to have escaped that tv show and accompanying theme song that even played on the radio. But, if you're my age, you'll be singing that song in your head all day. Your welcome.

It would be really politically incorrect to call this the swastika, even though that's pretty much what it looks like. So I'm going to go with half-eaten pretzel. Even though that's kind of lame.

This is the inverted I've really got to pee. I'm curious if being upside down would reduce the urgency of needing to go. Or not.

And this, of course, is the upside-down Jesus.

Of course I didn't learn to do any of those particular moves on my first lesson. But I did learn this...

...and a few other spins as well.

And I also learned that pole dancing is fastest way to get callouses on your hands and the best workout for your arms, hands down. Because right now I can barely hold my arms up enough to type this. Pedro made it hurt so good, I'm definitely hooked. And some day, as god as my witness, I'm going to do the upside-down Jesus. I pray I will anyway.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Almost Home Part 2

When I left off at Almost Home, we had just returned the rental car and had arrived at the Buffalo airport, only to be told our flight to Cleveland didn't exist. No. That route was cancelled and the airline had rerouted us through Newark. But it was scheduled even earlier at 7:10am. In fact, it was leaving just then. Without us on it. There were no flights out of Buffalo due to delays from a thunderstorm in the area the day before. The quickest way to get to get home to Colorado was to leave out of Rochester. And even that wouldn't get us home until the next day.

The kids were already tired from being woken at 4:30am to get to the airport. This is after partying at my niece's wedding the night before. So really, no matter what happens, with 4 tired and cranky kids and 2 sleep deprived parents, today is gonna suck.

So we backtracked and re-rented the very same minivan we had just returned. Because we now needed to drive one hour east to get to the Rochester airport. But, the flight wasn't until 6:30pm. We had a whole day to kill. Unless it killed us first. We decided to head to Niagara Falls.

Before we left on this trip, I had to talk myself out of taking our passports with us. After all of our international exploits it just felt weird and wrong not to have them with us. How would I prove my kids were my kids if I didn't have verification of that? Although, in hind sight maybe that's not such a bad thing. But, now we can't drive over to border to Canada. Which by far has the best view of the falls. And the best cheesy wax museums, casinos and strip clubs. I can verify the first two, but I'm taking the last one on faith.

It's a cold morning, which I'm cruelly a bit happy about seeing as though 2 of my kids lost their hoodies on this trip by being careless. So, this is their natural consequence. Much the way this whole thing is my natural consequence for skimming my e-mail and not noticing the flight change. Right now, I'd much rather be cold. And at home than endure the rest of the day ahead. Karma's a bitch.

Photo courtesy of some random Indian tourist at Niagara Falls.

I guess this photo incriminates the hoodie losers. But, hey, we do look pretty happy here. Although, the day was still young. And it will end with me yelling in the middle of the airport in the middle of the night. Then feeling like the world's worst mother ever. Did I say karma's a bitch already?

We look out across the Niagara River to Canada. A place I'd spent a lot of time in my youth. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all live on this side of the falls not too far from here. And back in the day, you didn't need a passport to cross the border. Then, when I got a bit older, all I had to do was cross the bridge, pay the toll and magically I was legal to drink at 19. But, since I don't have those passports, there'll be no Molson for me today.

The sign near the border on our drive out of town taunts me. The closest I'll get to Canada today is a Tim Hortons we stop at on the thruway. I've never been to one before, but I've heard raves about the coffee. If you're not familiar, Tim Hortons in the Dunkin Donuts of Canada. People say the coffee is so good and so addictive, it's like it's made with crack.

But, at first sip, I'm unimpressed. I mean it's good. But clearly it does not contain crack because I think I would have been in a far better mood after drinking it. And I wasn't. Nothing was impressing me. Besides the thought of being in Canada looking at the falls with a beer in my hand remembering the good ole days. Ok, let's be honest, a few beers. And a few less whiny kids.


After hours in Rochester where the kids were less than angelic and an incident involving a wheelchair and a book. Performed by the same kid, mind you. Yes, the one I lost it on and yelled at in the airport that night. We did make it to Newark in the wee hours of the night where the airline comped us the nicest hotel room we've ever stayed in. Unfortunately, the few hours we spent in it with our eyes closed. The next day we did end up on a flight to Denver and finally arrived home in afternoon. And just so you know, no children were physically harmed during our travels. Although they may still be scarred.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Almost Home

We flew into the Buffalo Airport where we were greeted by tour pamphlets of things to do in the area. But that's not why we're here. I'm from a small town near Buffalo that I haven't been back to in about 7 years or so. We won't be going there either. Nope, we're heading an hour south for my niece's wedding.

It's been a few years since I've seen my family. And in the two years we've been in Morocco I've become a great aunt twice. I would love to attach a photo of me with both of them, but I didn't take any with my camera. In fact, I have the worst photos of the entire weekend on my camera. Seriously...

This is a picture of the plastic wrapped apples at the breakfast bar. Because I thought it was totally hilarious. I mean, is that how they got them off the tree? A slow and painful asphyxiation?

I got this one of my niece Cleo doing Ember's nails. I know you can't see Cleo's face, but she's totally beautiful and totally sweet and totally better at doing nails than I am.

I don't have any pictures of the wedding ceremony because we were asked not to take photos during the ceremony. Otherwise I totally would have. But, they would have been awesome. I'm sure of it. Ok, probably not.

But, after the ceremony, this is when my kids took my camera and these photos. This is me and my brothers and sister (my other sister couldn't make it). This captures that great moment when you're like where the crap am I supposed to stand and what do I do with my hands? Unless it was who farted. Seriously, do you know my family?

I got the camera back briefly to get this shot of all of my nieces, nephews and grand niece and nephew. Well, not all, 4 were missing. Don't worry, not the milk-carton-kind-of-missing. Have I ever mentioned I grew up in a Catholic family? But, you probably figured that out by now.

The kids re-confiscated my camera. And took this photo of my brother Jim and niece Jenni. I don't know what the hell they're doing in this photo, but I'm so glad that I can always look back at it and eternally ponder what the hell they're doing.

I'm positive that this photo of Sky was taken as collateral for something. Like, "Let me use your ipod or I'll tell mom you were drinking screwdrivers at the bar." Something like that.

This is my dad pushing up his glasses. And that's his sister. Can't you see the family resemblance? Yup, they both wear glasses.

Then there's this picture. I have no idea who she is. Which is why I felt totally comfortable posting this. If she and I were related she'd know how to find me and get revenge. But I figure she's from the grooms side of the family, so I'm safe.

Wait a minute. I've seen that same hand gesture before. Maybe the lady in blue is on the bride's side of the family after all. And maybe we should skip town. Luckily, we have an early flight the next morning.

So we get up at the butt crack of dawn. And we arrive at the ticketing counter at 7:00am. When we are told the flight we were scheduled to take home doesn't exist. And there's no way to make it home until the next day. If then.

Stay tuned for Almost Home part 2.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Be the Change

Last night was another night of math homework with the kids. I may have mentioned before that I'm not good at math. Not good being an understatement. Because of this, I pass off anything to do with numbers to my husband, which of course would also include some science. But, I am the go to person for English and Social Studies. So, when my oldest told me his other homework was to watch to Democratic Convention, I was on it.

What you may not know about me is I have a degree is in political science. You wouldn't know this because I don't talk politics. Which may seem odd. But then again, I'm odd. I'm not interested in converting you to my politics or my religion for that matter. But, at the dinner table, it's a whole other matter entirely. We talk about it all and that has always been the case. But it was especially true when we lived in Morocco.

When my son and I were watching and discussing the conventions together, I started to think about how our time in Morocco has shaped them. How this is the one time in their lives that they have lived somewhere and been the minority. And how a couple of my kids were bullied for having different beliefs. How I cried for them, but beamed with pride as they held their ground and stood up for themselves. Hoping that this would build their character, tolerance and understanding. But, hoping for change.

Suddenly, change did come to North Africa. Revolution was everywhere. You could feel the excitement and the uncertainty in the air. With Tunisia in turmoil, Egypt under military rule, Osama Bin Laden dead and then Gadaffi, what would become of Morocco? There was no organization organized enough to over through the government. Then, quietly, constitutional reform was instituted by the king and a parliament was born.

Except, while there was so much hope for change, the changes were underwhelming. Egypt traded Mubarak's corruption for an Islamist regime. Granted one where a woman can now deliver the news in a hijab. And while the king of Morocco did reform the constitution, he still remains the country's supreme authority on Islam and the commander of the military. He can also dissolve the parliament at any time. And apparently, you're not supposed to make fun of him. Like I did in this post. Oops. Which I got asked to take down. But as you can see, I didn't.

Because, I believe in free speech. I believe in separation of church and state. But, most of all, I believe that real change is possible. So whatever you believe, get out there and vote for it and make it happen. Be the change.

If you want to read about our trip(s) to Egypt right after the revolution (and before too) here's the links. Really, it's a great story.

Our first trip to Egypt.
Traveling to Egypt the second time.
Cairo after the revolution.
The final installment of the series in Luxor.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Real Simple

It was simply time for a little get away in the mountains. Perfect for a long Labor Day weekend. We piled the kids into the car and headed west.

The scenery was simply beautiful.

We arrived at the hot springs and headed for the pool with the water slide. But it simply wasn't hot enough.

So we headed to the stream where I was simply tried not to fall on my ass in the cold water.

Before we huddled in the water pools nestled next to the rocks on the side of the stream where is was hot, but simply crowded.

When we were pruned we got in the car and headed to the town of Salida, a simple little town.

Where we stayed in a simple little hostel.

In one room on bunk beds where I had the best sleep in a long time. But I think that was simply due to the benedryl.

They had a Labor Day concert downtown. I'm simply using "downtown" loosely here.

Where we watched fireworks snuggled in blankets from the hostel to stay warm because most of the kids simply forgot to pack a fleece.

The next day was full of simple pleasures. Like pretending to be a mannequin.

Skipping stones in the Arkansas River where Sky taught Ember how to do it quite simply.

Then we did a simple hike and the kids were all smiles.

At least until the end when we got to the water fall and realized it was simply over and time to go home.

Because one of the kids simply had strep throat.


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