Friday, July 29, 2005

We Live In The Space Between Their Heartbeats

My friend M. called me last night to tell me that our mutual friend, C., had suffered a terrible loss. Her daughter, just three years old, had died suddenly from an illness.

I haven't seen C. for years and had never met her daughter but the news was devastating to me. That a young life could be taken so quickly, so achingly soon was hard to comprehend. I cannot even begin to understand the depth of their loss and, as a parent, to think of myself experiencing the same tragedy is almost too painful to imagine.

M. knows this grief all too well as her own son was senselessly murdered three years ago. She spoke of the endless journey that C. is about to embark on, that of trying to find meaning in your life once it has been mercilessly ripped apart, of attempting to fill the grieving void in your heart that is so infinitely deep.

I haven't been able to take my eyes off my girls all day. I am feeling the tenuousness of our lives so acutely today, but I try not to hug them too tightly as they curl into my lap.

Archive File: Offspring | Random

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

By Our Twentieth Anniversary We Hope To Have Acquired A Full Set Of W Linens

On July 24 Rigel and I celebrated our twelfth anniversary! I would wager to say that ours is a successful union, especially when you figure it has lasted eleven years and 364 days longer than Britney Spears' first marriage, and possibly eleven years 364 days and twenty-three hours longer than I'm figuring the Cruise/Holmes marriage will endure. But I'm so negative! I must take more vitamins.

I'm tempted to tell the story here of how Rigel and I met, but I'm sure all of you who know us are pretty sick of it by now, all our blabbing about "Dinner...third date...Paris...pledging of eternal souls!" In fact, we are getting so tired of telling it, we're thinking of changing it. You know, something like, "Ralphs...salad bar...jicama...clean-up in aisle three!"

We celebrated by leaving town, alone, for a whole twenty four hours. My niece, who was one of our flower girls at our wedding and is now in college, watched the girls for the weekend. (There is something ironic, and full-circle-ish there, but I'm not sure exactly what.) We were spared the usual guilt-tripping by our crafty little ones, since said niece had successfully filled their porous minds with promises of mall excursions, movie matinees and lunch at the Wiener Factory (if you've ever been to the Wiener Factory you would know this is a SERIOUS BRIBE.) I was sad to leave them though, and spent a long time with the goodbye hugs and kisses, while Rigel ran naked and screaming up and down the block yelling "We're FREE! We're FREE!"

We went to the W Hotel in San Diego. We love the W Hotels, mainly because of their beautifully designed rooms, but for me it's all about the awesome in-room souvenir stand, filled with everything from Skittles to W tank tops. The one in this room consisted of a large fiberglass box, but in a previous W Hotel it occupied it's own custom alcove, positioned smartly above the mini-bar. That way, once you were done procuring an expensive, thimble-sized bottle of alcohol below, you would stand up and immediately be faced with copious amounts of overpriced merchandise to tempt you. Having downed what amounted to a $175 gin and tonic, you would mysteriously find yourself signing away your husband's money on W cds, a W postcard set and a seven dollar can of Pringles. Not that this happened to anyone I know.

Let's continue with the in-room goodies! And oh, the looting!

The hotel also has a host of impressive bathroom supplies, all from Bliss Spa in New York. Unlike the cheap bottles of generic goo found in most hotels (and in my bathroom at home) their little bottles boast names such as (I couldn't make these up) 'Supershine Shampoo with Wheat Proteins and Anti-Static Actives' and 'Lemon+Sage Soapy Sap Fresh-Foaming Shower Gel' All the products were packaged in a nifty zip-top cosmetic case. You see where this is going. I couldn't have just one. And so, while the housekeeper was busy cleaning up the room next door, I peeked out and saw MANY of these lovely cases sitting on her cart. Unattended. Let it be known that I did call out a "Excuse me? Can I have some more foaming face wash? Oh, look, here it is!" before I whisked a case into my purse. Let it also be known that Rigel, not wanting any part of this criminal activity and weary of twelve years of hotel-induced kleptomania, proceeded to walk faster, way ahead of me and pretending not to know me. (I'll bet he'll be a little more supportive when I finally stuff that plasma screen into my suitcase.) I wish I could say it stopped here, but my purse filled with W pencils, W coffee, W die-cut post-its and an assortment of Tazo tea bags, it would make a liar out of me.

Lest I give the impression that the W is an oasis of all that is good, let me say that some things are just plain creepy. Like the following placard in our room. Where most hotels may simply 'Make up your room' or, in the case of some of the places I've stayed, 'Hose the roaches off the bed', the W takes it to a whole new level: " insure all our rooms receive the proper attention with regard to styling, we are just just dropping a line to let you know that we style rooms, everyday, until 6pm...if for some reason you need your room styled at a particular time, simply write in your preferred styling time in the space provided on the reverse side." This frightened us, and we left the 'Dreaming' sign ('Do Not Disturb' to you peasants) on our door for the entire weekend. We were afraid that should the W Stylists enter our room while we were still there, they would descend upon us, re-dressing us in tight suits and uncomfortable shoes, teasing my hair into a bouffant and carving a couple of sideburns into the side of Rigel's face.

Back to The Anniversary! It was a great weekend. For the record, I would like to say that after twelve years of marriage it is still possible to have a fun, romantic, exciting relationship (If Rigel were doing the voiceover here he would add sarcastically "with your husband.") I feel incredibly lucky to be with someone who I care so deeply about and who feels the same about me, and is such a patient loving father to our girls. Happy Anniversary Rigel! I've got lots of bath products to share!

Archive File: Married | This Life

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Monday, July 18, 2005

It's Kiyomi's Birthday!

Happy 7th birthday my sweet girl!


But I won't, because it's not very easy on the eyes, and it would wear me out. Which is what you do sometimes, but in a good way. Sometimes I can't keep up with you, with your enthusiasm and your utter and complete elation with everything around you. I wish that I could bottle up your energy and save it for those days when I'm so sleepy and don't want to get out of bed (which, according to you, happens alot.)

I'm sure that you've heard me and daddy say how you are so 'full of life,' and what that means is that you have a very, very special spirit inside of you, and it makes you live every minute to the fullest. As you would say, "Gooood times! Gooood times!"

It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago today that you were born and rocked our little world. You would think that we would be experts at it, this BABY thing, since we had been through it before, but we were just as nervous and excited as when we had your big sister. This time was maybe a little easier, though, because we had learned some things from the first time. Like, babies don't really care that their crib is made of imported wood, or that you don't have to wash every single piece of clothing, twice, months before your first contraction. And no, daddy didn't spend three days painting the nursery this time, not only because it was already painted, but because we knew that you would be sleeping in our room for AT LEAST a few months. This time he just made sure the couch was real comfortable, and we stocked up on videos beforehand.

Daddy and I were so excited when we found out we were going to have a little sister for Kira. You would complete our little family, and we knew that you would be a very, very special person. I remember we told everyone about you on Thanksgiving day, 1997. We called and told Grandma Cath and Auntie Aldeb that morning, and they couldn't believe it. They said it was the best Thanksgiving surprise ever, and I'm not sure, but I think that Auntie Aldeb said it was even better than the mashed potatoes she was going to have that day (and you just ask her HOW MUCH THAT IS.) Then we went over to Grandma Margaret's, and during the time when we all say what we are thankful for, me and daddy surprised everyone by saying that we were thankful for the new life we would soon be bringing into this world - you!

Although my pregnancy with you was not an easy one (someday you can read about it here. I know you claim to have THE MIND OF A FOURTH GRADER but some things are better understood by the mind of a seventh grader) I never doubted for a minute that everything would be okay after I was holding you in my arms.

And it was. Kiyomi, we were so excited when you came into this world! You were our second baby, but just as special and amazing as if we were parents for the first time. I guess we were a little more relaxed, though - we didn't think we were going to break you the first time we put your baby shirt on, and I didn't check on you every five seconds to make sure you were still breathing. Not to say that mommy's obsessive behavior stopped completely - but trust me someday you'll thank me for making sure that all six food groups are represented AT EVERY MEAL.

We are so proud of you, sweetie. You are such a smart, funny, talented girl. I love the way you notice everything around you - even though it takes us twice as long to walk from the car to the front door, I am in awe of how you can notice and appreciate every rock, leaf and bug on the way. I always think to myself, "We should all think more like Kiyomi!"

And sometimes you make us laugh so hard we can only ask, "Who ARE you?" Like when you do one of your ear-splitting burps. Or when you dance when daddy plays the guitar. Or even when I'm dying of embarrassment, like when you told the nice lady at the Lancome counter, "Ma'am, I think you're wearing a little too much makeup there."

Kiyomi, I can't tell you in words how much you mean to me, how much brighter the world seems when I see it through your eyes. You make every single day a better one, and my heart grows bigger and bigger every day that I am blessed to watch you grow up. I love to watch you and Kira together, and seeing how close the two of you are makes me so grateful for our wonderful family .


And, remember:
I love love you.
Don't let the bedbugs bite.
Sweet dreams.


Archive File: Offspring | Family

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

And The Face Lift, It Is Decreed

She is stardust.
She is golden.
She is Heather, mighty Prescriptives salesgirl.

I stopped by the Prescriptives counter at Macy's the other day to procure some powerful youth-imbuing makeup items. Heather appeared behind the counter and greeted me cheerfully. She was dressed smartly in her black lab coat, and this reassured me, for it signaled her position as a trained medical professional, qualified to handle the potent concoctions that I was hopeful would transform me into a glowing twentysomething. I had the girls with me, and they sat by eagerly, waiting to see the magical transformation.

I was nervous, but Dr. Heather reassured me that I was minutes away from a more youthful, happier me. She began delicately applying various creams and potions, using her skilled fingers to smooth them across my cheeks with surgical precision. After an hour of this, and obviously not seeing the results she expected, she distracted me for a moment and suddenly was upon me, wielding a trowel and using it to apply a thick, industrial plaster evenly across my forehead. I could see the frustration in her eyes when this technique also failed. She sighed, reached under the counter and pulled out a small jackhammer.

"Uh, Dr. Heather, is this really necessary?"
"Yes. Trust me, I am a doctor. Please put on your goggles."

The blasting of my pores lasted a mere minutes, but my pain, it was great, and her cursing indicated to me that this technique had also proved inadequate. She explained that it was always more effective when used in tandem with a rotary sander, anyway.

She disappeared through a hidden door in 'Handbags' and appeared a few minutes later pulling behind her what appeared to be a small closet. Above the door was a hand lettered sign that said 'Time Machine.' I told her that while I definitely desired the skin and body of someone twenty years younger, I wanted to keep my current brain, since I didn't want to regress to the state of mind of someone who once thought shoulder pads and jumpsuits looked 'hot.' Plus, in recent years I had learned how to make a decent PB&J and memorized all the words to the 'Teen Titans' theme song, all powerful knowledge that I wasn't willing to part with. She pretended to listen, fiddled with the controls, and asked me step inside. She told me to think young, positive thoughts and to stare intently at the numerous pictures of Paris Hilton and the Olsen twins pasted on the inside of the booth, since my level of concentration would be key to my transformation.

I stepped out a few minutes later and I tried to console her as she sobbed in defeat. I told her that it was all my fault, that I was having a hard time concentrating since I could see my girls through the peephole and was too preoccupied watching Kiyomi cleaning out the cash register at the Chanel counter and Kira using seventy-five dollar tubes of lipstick to color in her manga drawings.

But Dr. Heather, she was resolute! She mustered up all that was left of her strength and with her quivering hands unlocked a small safe hidden underneath the counter. She pulled out a tray that was breathtaking - 24k gold inlaid with rubies and signed by all the major supermodels. On it were carefully arranged three items that she breathlessly presented to me as "The Holy Grail." I had never spoken of cosmetics in biblical terms, but this was Dr. Heather, after all, and she is omnipotent!

I was keenly aware that this was the last resort, my last hope at salvation. She applied all three potions in quick succession and with solemn reverence; first Super*, then Vibrant*, and then Magic*, pausing only briefly between each to make the sign of the cross upon her chest. Upon finishing, she said a quick prayer and then held up a mirror to me. And it was good.

While only managing to make my skin look five years younger, after our travails we considered this a rousing success. We high fived! We drank champagne! We mud wrestled in vats of fifty-dollar bottles of foundation! I paid for my purchases and as I took my girls by the hand and prepared to leave she urged me to return soon so that we could "Explore color!"

Yes! Yes! I shall return, Dr. Heather!

*No product names have been changed to protect the truly miraculous.

Archive File: This Life

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Friday, July 15, 2005

More Crank! Now With Three Hours To Spare!

I AM A NICE PERSON. Okay, maybe too nice. Outta my way! Time to kick some ass! You shall all now bow down at the temple of yours truly! I mean it! No more Mr. Nice Guy! Or is it Mrs. Nice Guy? Gal? Oh hell what does it matter?

Sorry. Those were just the voices in my head.

I am currently in the slippery position of having to distance myself from an acquaintance who mistakenly thinks that she hired me to be her personal assistant. You know the saying, "Give em an inch and they'll take a mile?" How about "Give em an inch and they take infinity into deep space?" That's more like it.

This whole thing started because of my attempts to help this person who seems to be perpetually falling on hard times, but in the process I have started to get dumped on, and ME NO LIKE IT. Really, I'm not a weak person, and I've come a long way from when I was younger and a virtual doormat, but I guess you can still make out the faint letters that say 'USE ME' splayed across my forehead. At least now when I let people walk all over me I don't offer to shine their shoes, too. Or give them rides. Or provide endless childcare. Oh. God. Yes I do!

She is the mom of one of my daughters' friends, a woman who I have known for a couple of years. She was in an emotionally abusive marriage, so I tried to lend an ear when I could. Plus, her daughter is a sweetheart, and understandably seemed to be suffering some fallout from their funky home situation and I wanted to be there for her, too. We would have her over for occasional playdates, and her mom, not having a car of her own and patently forbidden to drive the family car without her husband beside her (creepy), would often ask me for rides to school events or birthday parties that both our girls were invited to.

She seemed to be going through an especially tough time recently, so I tried to offer some comfort and told her to let me know if there was anything I could do.

Did she ever.

It started with asking me to drive her daughter home from swimming lessons. She was planning on enrolling her in the same session that my girls are in. I agreed, and she then told me that she may be in a class at the time the swim session lets out, so if she gave me a key to her apartment complex, would I be willing to stay at her place and watch her daughter until she got home? For "around two hours." Twice a week. For the next four weeks.

I told her that this wasn't possible because, although barely apparent at times, I DID IN FACT HAVE A LIFE, but that I could maybe take her daughter to our house a few of those days. She grew irritated, said she wasn't sure how she could manage to DO THE SWIMMING THING BECAUSE OF MY STINGY ASS, and then said she would try and find another way. I felt a twinge of guilt, until I overheard a conversation between her and another mom a few minutes later, in which the other mom asked her how long she worked out. And she answered, "Three hours a day."

Three hours a day. THREE HOURS A DAY? THREE FRICKEN HOURS A DAY? You're asking for my help when you have THREE WHOLE HOURS A DAY TO YOURSELF in pursuit of lean thighs and a flat butt? Lady, I barely have THREE MINUTES to myself to take a crap, let alone THREE HOURS to partake in any activity that would possibly make me more attractive to the opposite sex.

People, do not tell me that you have THREE HOURS A DAY TO YOURSELF. I will become enraged with jealousy and want to kill you.

So I told her where to go! Well, actually, it came out as, "Does your daughter want to come over for a playdate on Thursday?"

That would be yesterday, and I lived to regret this offer. I received around twelve calls from this woman in the past forty-eight hours. The first few calls were to confirm, and re-confirm the playdate, because you know IT'S LIKE ORGANIZING THE GENEVA CONVENTION. In one of these first calls she told me she didn't want her daughter going outside between the hours of 3:30 and 5:30, (we were picking her up at 3 - cause I provide free shuttle service for all playdates, folks!) when the sun would be the hottest. I didn't decline this order based solely on it's absence of scientific fact, but on the idea that there was no way in hell I was going to keep three little girls locked inside my house on a perfectly beautiful day, unless she was willing to come over and keep them occupied while I worked out (Ha ha! I didn't actually say this, but I was thinkin' it! Fo reals!)

The next half a dozen were repeated calls to my cell phone asking me when I was going to arrive to take her daughter off her hands, because we were running late. I pressed the 'Ignore' button on my phone more than a few times but she just kept calling back. Then more calls while her daughter was here, informing me she was going out for a couple of hours and where she could be reached, blah blah blah, and then a final call when we hadn't delivered her daughter back on her doorstep by the 7:30 delivery time (that call came at around 7:40.) She sounded a little peeved that the Playdate Express wasn't running on schedule.

The last straw was when we were finally dropping her off, while we were waiting for her mom to come to the car. She asked me if it was true that she would be taking swimming classes with Kira and Kiyomi, and I told her I didn't know, that she should ask her mom. And she replied, "My mom wanted me to ask you to sign me up. Because she's REALLY BUSY."

I must go now. I promised I would come over tonight and scrub her toilets and then put her daughter to bed while she works on her abs.

Archive File: Cranky

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Should Scientists Discover That Bugs Have Feelings,
I'm Going To Feel Real Bad

Last night as I was preparing to microwave my coffee for the fifth time (it gets cold, what can I say) I came upon some creatures on the counter which looked suspiciously like termites. I started yelling for Rigel, as I usually do when I see anything that is alive that DOES NOT BELONG IN MY HOUSE, this time mainly because we just paid the lovely folks at Orkin a dime or two to dispense toxins and I wanted him to see these invaders for himself, ask them for some I.D. and then smash them to a pulp.

And it took him forever. To get. To the kitchen. About as long as it takes to read. This sentence. Fifty times.

It has always annoyed Rigel, the girlish screaming of the wife at the sight of bugs, but I've explained to him that it's just my natural reaction, borne of decades of bug-phobia and I can't control it anymore than he can help dropping to his knees at the sight of the Led Zeppelin bin at Tower Records. He says his problem with my 'crying wolf' is that if there arose a true emergency, say my encountering a crazed ax-wielding man in our foyer, he wouldn't be able to discern my legitimate screams from my usual shrieking at having spied a gnat crawling on the shower curtain and would probably just tell me to "Buck up and show it who's boss." (Note to all of you out there: If I meet my fate at the hands of an Ax-Wielding Man In my Foyer [A.W.M.I.F.], please alert the authorities that while I was being attacked my husband WAS IGNORING ME FROM THE OTHER ROOM.)

So explains his thirty-minutes-in-the-making walk from one side of the house to the other, by which time most of the purported termites had long flown away, back to their ten thousand homies feasting on the insides of my kitchen cabinets.

I remember an incident when I was little and at home one day with my dad. I was sitting on the toilet when a waterbug the size of a yorkie crawled out from behind the laundry hamper and threatened to eat me alive with it's powerful insect jaws. I commenced my previously stated over-reacting and my dad, obviously worn down from years of false alarms by a wife and five children, started a slow shuffle from the couch, the entire time telling me to "Calm down and keep your pants on" to which, had I not been deathly afraid of getting grounded, I should have replied, "Can't keep my pants on when I'm peein', but maybe you could kill this bug SOMETIME THIS YEAR." By the time he got to the bathroom, even the waterbug had grown tired of waiting, did a victory lap around the bathroom scale, shook it's little scaly rear at me and then escaped behind the counter.

Conclusion: Men are damn slow sometimes.

But the termite story isn't over!

As soon as the girls heard my distress call they came running to the kitchen to see what was causing mommy's latest round of hysterics. Three hours later Rigel finally arrived, having determined that my life was not in danger of the A.W.M.I.F., and was preparing to heroically do away with the menace with a powerful paper towel. Kiyomi and I were dancing around him yelling, "Kill it! Kill it!" and banging pots and pans in a frenzied war dance. At this point Kira, obviously the more sensitive of all the females in this household and greatly influenced by movies starring talking bugs with feelings, started crying and begged us not to kill the poor pest, citing it's family and friends who would mourn its passing. Rigel spent the next fifteen minutes patiently explaining nature's delicate balance of life and death to Kira (He's good at the science lectures. Me, I think I told her "Kira, they're eating our house. They must die.") Meanwhile Kiyomi and I looked for some matches to torch the remaining termites and send them to a fiery grave. In the end Kira said she "sort of understood and wasn't so sad anymore" but I spent awhile comforting her in bed, still sniffling and teary eyed.

This is the same girl who every Saturday morning, while holding up her bacon says, "Aw, poor piggy!" Then proceeds to take a huge bite and exclaim, "But you sure taste good!"

Conclusion, as per Kira: Do not kill living things, unless they make a good breakfast meat.

Archive File: Married | Offspring | Family

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

Oh Say Can You See

Wow. It seems that I have not written in awhile. I guess time flies when you're busy writing hate mail to garage door companies (spelled A-N-A-H-E-I-M   D-O-O-R) or trying to shave twenty years off your body by maniacally riding your Lady Schwinn (bought at Toys R Us - I'm serious folks!) every single day through the park while people point and stare because your ill-fitting helmet looks as if you're wearing a large, black neon-striped pile of dung on your head and, good God you really don't know how to ride a bike now do you. I'm not talking about me. For sure not! Me, I haven't written because I've been in Cabo, tanning my nineteen-year-old's body to a deep, dark bronze and doing lap dances for wealthy owners of Fortune 500 companies.

We had a fun Fourth Of July weekend. I'm not a big Fourth Of July person, due mainly to my ambivalence about any holidays that don't involve the giving and receiving of gifts (Christmas, Easter) or the liberal stuffing of ones piehole (Thanksgiving, Tuesdays) but that's because I'm a shallow, empty shell of a human. Any of you willing to try and save me go right ahead.

But this Independence Day weekend was a good one! It started with a celebration for my mom's birthday, who turned 84 on Saturday. Happy Birthday Mom! (Unfortunately she doesn't have a computer and in fact, doesn't know this website exists, but all of you out there who know her make sure and give her a birthday hug and just try and explain to her what a 'blog' is) For some inexplicable reason all celebrations and funerals in my family call for large get-togethers at Chinese restaurants. No, we're not Chinese, but the chow-mein and the almond duck and the barbecued pork, it is all just so festive! And so we ate.

On Sunday the adventure that is our life continued. We decided to drive to Santa Barbara via Highway 126. I love this route because of all the little fruit and produce stands dotting the highway, which is the one thing Rigel dislikes about it - please ask him about his aversion to these proud symbols of Californian agriculture, his displeasure remains a mystery to me. Before we left on this drive, I declared in a loud, authoritive voice, "Hear me now, THIS TIME will be THE TRIP when we finally stop at one of these here little stands! I mean it mister! When I say pull over, I mean PULL OVER." And pull over he did, to which the girls complained, "Oh geez, why are we pulling over HERE?" When I told them to come with me and explore the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and two hundred flavors of beef jerky, Kira, not wanting to budge from the van lest she break a sweat or soil her glass slippers replied, "I can see it fine from the car."

It's amazing how quickly a reluctant husband and two inert little girls pile out of a van when you whip out the mace! I had to keep that sucker trained on them the whole time, but it was worth it - you should see the beautiful plums I picked up, and the garlic pistachios are really yummy!

Next, on to the Cutest Little Town In The World, Filmore. Here are some pictures I took there. We never got out of the car, I guess Rigel was afraid to stop - the fireworks stand looked too much like the one where I bought all the produce and it was bringing back too many bad memories. I took these while we were stopped at traffic lights. If there was an audio track you could hear me yelling at Rigel to roll down the window, and then the blaring of horns behind us as I tried to get a good shot, and then me cussing at the camera, and then Rigel yelling at me to hurry up and take the picture already. Happy 4th Of July!

These were taken in Santa Barbara, at The Most Beautiful Park In The World. I don't know if you've heard this, but there are alot of rich people in Santa Barbara. Oprah has a house there! Rumor has it she paid for this park by emptying all the spare change out of her purse one Sunday.

Here are my girls frolicking on the beach. They were having fun, in spite of Rigel and I yelling at them not to get wet. At the BEACH. In the OCEAN. We're a couple of fun ones, me and the husband!


Archive File: Offspring | Family | This Life

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