Monday, March 31, 2014

Travel Snobs

This is what we wanted for them.  For them to see the world.  We just didn't realize we'd created little monsters.  Little travel snobby monsters who'd constantly insist "we never do anything" or "go anywhere" and that we're "so boring".   And why, why haven't we gone to New Guinea yet?  Yes, this is a real live "complaint" of my kids. Because they are consumed with first world white people problems.  If only they ranked lower on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, they would be happier. If they had to scrounge for grubs to eat for dinner, they'd be fulfilled even. I'm sure of it.

The announcement that we were going to Florida for spring break came on the heels of Ember's grievance that we hadn't gone anywhere in a while.  So for 5 entire seconds after receiving the news she was ecstatic to see grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins, including a brand new nephew.   Then she claimed her luggage.  The rolly bag with the good wheels for easy gliding through the airport.  When we delivered the bad news.  Bags needed to be shared, condensed to be economical.  Unless they wanted to shell out the $50 bag fee.  "WHAT? We never had to do that in Morocco, Paris, London, Portugal, Turkey, South Africa….(the list went on and on)"  "We're in America now and the rules are different. And stupid", I replied.

When we finally get on the plane, the mocking begins.  They know immediately if the plane is new or old based on the safety demonstration.  Does the flight attendant need to stand in the aisle and demonstrate how to use a seat belt?  Or is the ridiculous seat belt demo on a screen above their heads?  Then, why don't they serve food on domestic flights?  And when they come around for beverage service will they give them a cup full of ice with a splash of a soft drink?  Or are they the generous type that will give them the entire can?  If they don't pop the top open, even better.  Then they can secretly stash the can away in their carry on and resurrect it on some completely inappropriate occasion when no other sibling has a soda.  Which is  clearly what winning at sibling rivalry.  Probably childhood entirely.

When we've arrived at our connection they pick up on subtle nuances immediately.  They people watch with intensity bordering on impropriety.  Women in Dallas have big hair and spackle on make-up.  And in fact everything IS bigger in Texas.  Sky is convinced the airport security guard could not chase down a terrorist if the need arose.  And when we arrive at our destination there are even more observations.  River loves the smell of the humid air.  Everyone else wonders if Spanish is the official language of Florida.

It doesn't end there.  They have lots more commentary the entire trip.  Why are the lines at theme parks so long?  That's the common theme isn't it?  Yes, yes it is.  And as great as all these annotations on modern American culture are, they are draining.  Or maybe that was waiting in line at the theme park drenched from that river rafting ride in the cold stinking sulfur water sprinkled air slowly getting trench foot.  Whatever.

That was until the plane ride back home.  When one of the kids, my kids, had the most unusually spun remark of the entire trip.

"I love airplane lavatories.  It's like your own personal surprise party.  When you go in, the light goes on."  ~Sky, 15 years old.

A reminder, it's not the destination, it's the journey. And that my kids are twisted.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Best Of

You know there comes a time in a career when they release the "Best of so and so" and it's usually at the end. A confirmation that the best is in the past. That's so not what I'm doing here.

What I am doing is taking a spring break for a bit. So, I've come up with this clever or cheesy way to keep you entertained in my absence. Consisting of some of my favorite posts that didn't make the book.


Coffee, Donuts and Camels
A reader suggested that this post should go in the Embassy newsletter. When it got submitted to the higher ups for review it was deemed too controversial. That's when I knew I'd arrived. And so did they.

Speed Dating
My first real attempt at trying to make girlfriends and feeling like a total loser while doing it.

Attack of the Twisted Zombie Mannequins
The story I made up about the extremely creepy mannequins used in the medinas throughout Morocco.

The Belly Dance Post
Video of the first time I belly danced and posted it to the blog.

Follaback Girl
The post that I thought would piss off most of my fellow bloggers. With video. In which Ember didn't open her mouth with chewed banana in it like we'd planned. It still pisses me off a little when I watch it. What kid doesn't want to open their mouth with food in it?

This is where I teach you the one Arabic word that can be used sarcastically in any sentence. For any reason.

Where in the World…?
It's a travel game. I give you clues, you guess where in the world we travelled to.


The Shit
Yes, it's a whole blog post about that one time I shit my pants. Ok, those times.

Why I Like My Dogs More Than My Teenagers
I think the title pretty much says it all here.

Party People
The different characters that always seem to show up at a party.

My Codependent Relationship
The first time I ever wrote about my struggles with codependence.

Emergency 911
How my husband almost died last October. No joke. The first in a three part series.

Sexy Nurse
I'm nursing my husband back to health with the help of the doctor's prescription.

Left Brain / Right Brain
How nearly losing my husband led me to self publishing.

I hope these keep you entertained until I return.  At which time I may or may not have some tan lines.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Can't Drive 55

Before I even moved from Morocco, I started to worry.  It was only a matter of time.  I was used to the rulelessness.  Maybe that's inaccurate, because there were rules of the road, it's just that no one followed them.  And there really wasn't a downside to not following them.  In fact, if you did follow the rules, you sure as hell weren't going to get anywhere.

If you have ever driven with me, you know that I'm a firm believer that the rules of the road don't apply to me.  So speed limits?  What speed limits? Drive whatever speed you want on the highway, what's the big deal? That's what they do on the autobahn in Germany.  And guess what?  It works. Efficiently.  Cause Germany people.  It's not like I'm driving under the influence of anything.  Cause clearly THAT is wrong.  Even though I kinda was under the influence.  My drug?  Happiness.

You see, I'd just come from having lunch with my derby wife, Mama Beast.  Completely and totally high on happiness.  In fact, as I was driving, contemplating my fortune in having such amazing women in my life.  I mean Mama Beast gave birth to her daughter in the front seat of a Nissan Sentra.  How badass is that?  See where the name came from?

She just came out of roller derby retirement and she's planning a wedding to an amazing man.  Seeing someone I love so happy is so contagious.  So I got a contact high.  And started constructing a post on what my girlfriends mean to me in my head while I drove.  Which might be why I didn't realize that I was going 80 in a 65 mph zone.  Or that Happy song blaring on the radio.  Until I saw him.  And knew he clocked me.

That's when I realized, I had made it over a year and a half back in the states without a speeding ticket.  Do you know?  I was positive I would get one  the first week back.  Vegas odds were consistent with this.  So do you know what an achievement this is for me?   And for two measly points on my license?  But a perfect post lunch blitz of complete and utter gratefulness for the girlfriends in my life?  It's a steal!  A STEAL I tell you!  And you Mr. Cop, who I'm positive never, ever speeds and isn't a total and complete hypocrite?  You cannot steal my happiness by giving me a ticket!

And when I texted my Mama Beast this was her reply, "Ha, crazy Moroccan driver!  And…well…at least you stopped ;)

She knows me so well.  Since she is my derby wife, she shares my need for speed.

Maybe that's one of the many reasons I love her so much.

Monday, March 10, 2014


It was a night like any other. Ok, that's a lie.  It was a night that three of my kids were at other people's houses for sleepovers. And we were desperately trying to figure out how to ditch the last one. If only there were an overnight read-a-thon at the library. A meeting of insomniacs anonymous at the sleep clinic. An apprenticeship to learn how to make the donuts at Dunkin' Donuts. But, alas. None of these things exist except in my head. Dammit.

Change of mindset. Ok, we're home with our oldest. So, bonus. We can watch a movie that's more edgy and inappropriate with him.  Basically, one we'd actually want to see. But first, we'd be going out to dinner. Because the oldest has an adventurous mature palate we could go almost anywhere. Because we were starving, we went to one of our favorite restaurants just down the street for Mexican.

When you're having Mexican, you must gorge on obligatory chips and drippy salsa. Shoving them into your mouth, leaving an exquisite mess of crumbs and pinkish onion chunks all over both the table and your shirt. And it must be downed with a margarita. Even if you don't like margaritas. And god knows it's more economical to biggie size your margarita like a slurpee. Because essentially, that's exactly what it is. Who am I to thwart these beautiful traditions? Ninguna

Over dinner, my husband talked about how you can only invest emotionally in 150 people. How technology is the devil and I chimed in about how I'm so proud of him for excelling at people skills in a time when teenagers don't have them anymore. If they ever did. Apparently we're blowhards when we drink tequila out of fishbowls. Our most extroverted, talkative child was reduced to an "uh-huh" or an occasional "mmmm" as he devoured his burrito into his wordless mouth.

The check was paid and we headed to our car. Ok, who am I kidding? Generic minivan. When the obvious question came up. The question every 15 year old with a permit burning a hole in their wallet asks. "Can I drive?" Now, I have relegated all the teaching-of-driving to my husband. Who is far more patient than I. And a better driver. (Don't tell him I said that.) So I have never been a passenger in the car while my son is driving. Until now. And now it's night. And now I'm cowering in the back seat.

I don't remember freaking out. I thought I was calm.  But when we arrived home safely, as I really did know we would.  Sortof.  The boys…wait men….wait man and boy-man. I got it. "Emerging man" would be the most appropriate terminology here. He's well on his way. He's gonna be fine.  I just need to give up some control and allow him to be. To drive.

Which might be why we watched Along Came Polly and ate way the hell too many m&m's and just enjoyed the emerging inappropriateness of it all.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Outliers

I love books.  Non-fiction most of all.  And I'm particularly obsessed with Malcolm Gladwell.  His writing and whether he looks more like Carrot Top or Art Garfunkel.  I can't really decide.  Although I am enamored him, this post isn't actually about him.  It's about another type of outlier altogether.

I don't remember exactly how it came up in casual conversation, but I do know it was my friend Lynn who first told me when I was in my late 30's.  The phenomenon known to 40 year old women as crazy ass chin hairs.  The thing that's so crazy is they can appear over night and they aren't even quarantined to the chin region.  You can get crazy ass chin hairs on your boobs!  Trust me.  I know.

These shall henceforth be referred to by their clinical name:  The Outliers.

And we're not talking light blonde hairs here.  We're talking full on coarse, black pubic looking hairs that can grow two inches or even longer.  I assume.  I'm not sure I know their full growth potential because I pluck immediately upon discovery after a short session of self shaming.  Am I turning into a man?  A sasquatch?  Or most likely, a male sasquatch.

I discovered my latest outliers while in the hot tub.  Looking down at the bubbles, I noticed the hideous strands blown by the jets.  The thing is, these two hairs were well out of the Pubic Triangle.  Half way between there and my hip. No man's land. Well beyond the standard deviation.  Statistically insignificant if we're talking math.  Which we're not, by the way.  It was completely significant to me.  And had to be plucked.  Immediately.  But first I'd have to find the tweezers.  And my reading glasses.  Because, although I can see the hair clearly from far away, once I have the tweezers, the detail work of determining its exact origin begins.  And that's a whole other story.

The other day in the car, I innocently looked back into the rear view mirror and got a clear view of the brow hair outliers.  That are oddly ONLY visible in the rear view mirror.  Requiring that I run to fetch my favorite pair of tweezers when I got home and then got back into the car for the sole purpose of plucking my eye brows.  In my driveway.

That's when it occurred to me.  Maybe.  Just maybe, I should increase my outlier arsenal.  And pack some tweezers and magnifying mirror in my purse for just such sasquatch emergencies.  The timing is great really.  Cause god knows I won't need the tampons soon.  I'm pretty sure that's the obnoxious message light that the testosterone keeps flashing in my face.  And everywhere else.  So I'll have more space freed up and all.  Perfect.

And menopause? I can't wait.  Cause, umm, that's gonna be awesome.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Great Depression

On Thursday afternoon of last week, a student at my oldest son's high school committed suicide by jumping out of a moving car her foster parents were driving.  The notice was on my e-mail Friday morning.  "Did you know her?" I asked.  He responded that he did in passing,  but enough to know that she'd had a hard life.  It wasn't until he got to health class that day that he realized they shared a class together.  Her chair empty.  The teacher silent.  As if it was just another day.

I was always a sullen child.  Much too intense and in my head for my own good.  Especially in high school.  I had few friends who knew me.  Even those who did, didn't know how I  retreated into my insecurities and solitude.  I made excuses to be alone to drown in them.  I didn't go to parties because I didn't allow myself to have fun.  It was one of a few times in my life that I should have been on medication.  It was very near tragic.  Closer than you may imagine.

There is a seething simmering depression that I've battled my entire life.  It ebbs and flows, but it never goes away.  It's always right below the surface.  Threatening to consume me whole.  I could disappear without a trace.  And at one time, that enticed me.  Slipping off into darkness would be a release.

It's been over 25 years since I hit my deepest, darkest bout with depression. Even so, I still need to manage it daily.  To actively keep it in check.  Which is my top reason for working out regularly.  And eating right. Spending time alone to recharge, but ensuring I balance that with getting out with friends.  Getting off-line and reducing screen time.  Being outside in nature and cautious not to overindulge in alcohol. And writing.

Depression is biological, psychological and situational.  But, it's also contagious.  Reach out if you know someone is struggling.  And reach back if that person is you.  There is no shame in getting help and receiving treatment.  I wish I knew that long before now.  At least for me, it wasn't too late to learn.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


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