Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Actually, These Boots Aren't Made For Walking

I went on a hike yesterday.

That sentence alone will probably result in numerous phone calls from anyone that knows me, inquiring about my mental state. Some will wonder if perhaps there was a monetary reward involved, or if Rigel lured me there with the false promise of a steak cookout and simultaneous full-body massage. There'll be a few religious fanatics who may view it as a sure sign of the apocalypse and in the next few days will be stocking their homes with bottled water, canned goods and all five seasons of American Idol on DVD.

As you may have gathered, no one would ever describe me as the "outdoorsy" type. My family never went on camping excursions when I was young - my memories of outdoor activities are limited to the occasional picnic and our annual clam digging trip to Pismo Beach. Even so, I would be hard pressed to describe what a clam actually looks like or how they were dug up, but I can provide details about the linens in our motel and the fact that the kitchenette had a red and white tablecloth that was nailed to the table. And most of these activities were at my mother's insistence - if it were up to my dad we would have stayed home and learned about nature from reruns of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom like most normal people did.

As fate would have it, I'm married to a man who doesn't share my indifference towards nature, one who has a great respect for the outdoors and who is forced to consider his fate when he sees his wife trying to discern the difference between a tree limb and an old metal pipe. When we were dating I remember excitedly mentioning to a group of friends that he was taking me on a 'hiking date.' The laughter was deafening, but after a few minutes one of them managed to compose himself enough to ask, "And will this hike take place through Bloomingdales or are you going to really rough it over at Macy's?"

It's not from a lack of trying - the poor guy has made numerous attempts to help me find my inner sherpa, and for a short time he did. We spent fourteen days of our honeymoon camping up the coast all the way to Seattle, and except for the time I wept hysterically when I couldn't get cell phone reception along the Columbia River Gorge, I did fine. But some time after having children, camping and hiking became an enigma to me once again, and I reverted to regarding them with the same sort of disinterest reserved for other outrageous activities such as fire-walking or cleaning the oven.

Unfortunately Kira has inherited my ambivalence towards the great outdoors - an ideal trail for her would be one that is fully paved and with a souvenir stand every fifty feet. So while Rigel and Kiyomi forged ahead, blazing a trail through the overgrown brush, her and I lagged behind, Kira letting out an occasional squeal when a blade of grass grazed her calf and me squealing louder when I mistook a boulder for a mountain lion. She had her iPod with her and at one point, as Rigel was showing us a lizard, Kira ignored him and said to me with excitement, "Look! I've got a hundred songs on here!" Rigel was determined to get this band of misfits in line, though, and walked defiantly ahead, pretending not to hear when I yelled that I may have lost a limb on that last clump of jagged chaparral. I have to admit I don't set a very good example; when he suggested we continue further up the trail I volunteered to stay back with Kira and help her reorganize all her mp3s into new playlists.

We're taking a trip to Yosemite next week and Rigel made it a point to reserve a cabin that has neither a T.V. nor a telephone, which means we'll be forced to partake in this tiresome hiking fad once again, not to mention various other outdoor activities he's mentioned just to fill us with dread. But I'm going to try and be a role model for my girls and show them that not only is Mother Nature their friend, but a darn fine teacher as well. And just in case they figure out that I'm full of crap, I'll have their GameBoys and iPods packed away in that secret compartment in my suitcase, right next to my laptop.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lying, Deceit and Self-Absorption - Some Moms Can Do It All!

When I saw that teeny molar still sitting on her bed this morning, I mumbled something about "fairies not flying in the rain." Jeeez.

MomSecrets from my past:
Bad Mommy
Next Up: Stealing Shopping Carts From Homeless People

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Can You See Where This Is Headed?

Me (after explaining to the girls what divorce is.): So, that's why Maddie is living with her dad only on the weekends.

Kira: Are you and daddy ever going to get a divorce?

Me: Absolutely not.

Kira: Whew.

Me: Well, maybe now you won't get so grossed out when you see us kiss.

Kira: I don't mind kissing. Just don't make out in front of us.

Me: We have never made out in front of you.

Kiyomi: What's making out? Is that tongue kissing? What is tongue kissing anyway? Do you really kiss someone's tongue? IS THAT LIKE SEX?


Kira: That woman's face looked weird.

Me: Well, it looks like she had some plastic surgery done.

Kiyomi: What's plastic surgery?

(Insert long-winded explanation here about plastic surgery, and the difference between it and regular surgery, and how no, Britney Spears was not born that way.)

Kira: Have you ever had regular surgery?

Me: Yes, in fact, I had surgery when both of you were born. It's called a cesarean section and it's --

Kiyomi: Omigod! You had surgery when we were born? Where did they cut you open? Did it hurt? Could you feel anything? EXACTLY HOW DID WE GET IN THERE AGAIN?

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Agony And The Ecstasy. Sort Of.

We aren't getting together with my mom and the rest of my family until next weekend, so this Mother's Day was all mine. I woke up to breakfast and gifts on the dining room table: a shiny new iPod from Rigel, a beautiful flower holder (made from a toilet paper roll) from Kiyomi, and an essay Kira wrote titled, "Why My Mom Is The Best." which, interestingly enough, contained the sentence, "Aliens rock!"

They all dropped me off for a Shiatsu massage on Saturday at a small spa that we've been going to for over fifteen years. I'm not a big fan of the big-name spas we have around here. Most of them tend to be gaudy and overdone, and populated by uncommonly beautiful people who, if anything, look like they've been over-pampered their entire lives. I believe they're planted there by the owners to make the rest of us feel inferior, so that one look at our own limp hair and uneven skin and we'll be ready to spend big bucks for that deluxe hair treatment and face transplant.

I've been here a handful of times. Upon entering their impressive lobby you're whisked by a supermodel to your locker which appears to be made out of platinum or chocolate or some other highly desirable material. The jacuzzi area is huge and looks like something out of a porno movie - stone walls, cascading waterfalls, mist swirling about. You expect the three busty blondes at the far end of the pool to start making out at any moment and then joined by a staffer who happens to be hung like a horse. There are attendants standing by with towels and bottles of cold water or a complimentary Botox injection. Your name is called and you're escorted to a private room where you are massaged by a movie star. Depending on what package you signed up for, you are then offered a new Rolex or a hard candy upon your departure. Mine was butterscotch.

Then there's my spa, hidden away in a generic hotel in the middle of downtown, The facilities are clean and minimal and the clientele unglamorous - Japanese tourists, a few locals, and on one occasion a homeless woman who paid her fee, plunked her belongings down and fell asleep on the only bench in the dressing room. She looked so peaceful lying there I didn't have the heart to disturb her, and I was grateful that her Blackberry wasn't going off every five seconds.

An attendant at the front desk greets you cheerily in Japanese. You're handed a locker key, a t-shirt and a pair of disposable shorts that look like a craft project from the local pre-school. You escort yourself to the tiny dressing room, where you change, grab a paper cup of barley tea and head for the jacuzzi or saunas. Maybe you'll stop in the lounge where you'll find three patio recliners and an impressive selection of magazines so you can catch up on your reading in Newsweek and Vanity Fair. Or in my case, People and Us.

Next you enter a large room neatly arranged with fifteen massage tables. The masseuse who greets you is neither supermodel nor movie star, but a sturdy 50-ish Japanese woman from the old country and you're equally amazed and fearful of her large hands. These are the women who invented Shiatsu and who'll kill anyone who says otherwise. Any mention of a Swedish massage or a seaweed wrap will likely get you gales of laughter followed by a thorough ass-pummeling.

And then, in my opinion, the best massage you'll ever have. Rigel and I, being massage fanatics, have searched unsuccessfully for a better spa, maybe one closer to home or one with more impressive facilities. This is the real deal, and they've got the stark ambiance to prove it. There's no music playing and no chatty inquires about your latest screenplay - the only sounds you'll hear are screams as someone receives an elbow kneading unrelentingly into their clavicle. Their techniques are precise and at times freakishly acrobatic. At one point my masseuse was working on my shoulders with her elbows while her knees were hammering the bottoms of my feet. Obviously there was a hidden camera somewhere and our picture will soon be appearing on the internet with the caption, "Asian Ladies Dance Nasty!"

The massage ends with a polite "thank you" and a respectful bow from the masseuse. You stumble out, your body feeling as if it has been trampled by the hooves of a thousand angry bison. In other words, in a state of utter and complete bliss. I leave thinking that the supermodels and the movie stars can have their fancy spa. I have my little corner of heaven waiting for me downtown, and a burly broad from Tokyo just waiting to make me regret it.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Read My Daughter's Newsletter Or Else.

This is AnimeKat Weekly, a newsletter that Kira writes every week and sends out to friends and family. She's very diligent about getting it out regularly (unlike her mother's flaky, infrequent blog-posting style) and types the whole thing out in TextEdit on her Mac.

Another case of shameless offspring promotion? Well, sure. But it's Mother's Day Weekend and what better way to celebrate than to proudly showcase the talents of your eldest child to the world. Does this post have anything to do with the raised eyebrow said child gave me when she found out her sister had become a blog star? Er, maybe.

I don't expect you to read the whole thing, but who doesn't like a good horoscope? I'm not sure if the Aquarians out there reading are going to appreciate being told by a ten-year-old to "Stop laying around..." but me, I'm a Capricorn, and I'm going to listen to the stars when they're telling me that "It's a good family bonding week." Happy Mother's Day!

Aries: Spend more time with friends. You'll have tons of fun if you play outside and do unique outdoor activities.

Pisces: Try something new to read. If you have a favorite genre, try another book with the same genre,or try something completely different!

Gemini: Friends first. Think about the people around you and talk about anything with them. Have fun and say something wild!

Capricorn: Go out to the city at night and do something or get dinner with your family. It's a good family bonding week.

Cancer: Draw something! Anything! A comic or a regular picture. Drawing is a good idea to express your ideas.

Taurus: If you recently had a fight with someone,try to work it out. talk it out then laugh it out so everything's good.

Virgo: If you're having stress with a sibling,don't do as much together. Stress with siblings is usually caused by spending too much time together.

Aquarius: Stop laying around and go shopping for new stuff or things to do. If you don't have time use the things around you.

Scorpio: You're sharp as a tack and probably study all the time or go on the computer. Do something else like going outside or maybe watching T.V.

Leo: Go hiking on a trip with your friends or on an adventure. Just remember to stay with each other and don't get lost. Also bring survival tools just in case.

Sagittarius: Do you like someone? Know what he/she likes and do something like going to the library or a resturaunt. Not anything TOO fancy. Just casual.

Libra: Have fun this week and save the really serious stuff for later so you can remember that there are a lot more things in life besides what you do now.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Secrets Of The Man Cave

Anyone visiting our home can often find Rigel in one of two places: our backyard, performing manly chores such as the whacking of weeds and the crushing of spiders, or in his office, one of the four bedrooms in our home, one which we have appropriately named The Man Cave. (Actually, he got this a few weeks ago, so now you'll frequently find him in our driveway, buffing the leather seats or cleaning the tires with a Q-Tip.)

The Man Cave is an oasis of manliness in a our girl-centric home, a place for him to go after being 'Heather' in a rousing game of Mall Madness or spending four hours assembling Polly Pocket's Pollywood Limo. While every other room is littered with cast-off skirts and jewelry, bottles of nail polish and copies of Vogue magazine, wander in to Rigel's office and you'll find: several guitars and amps, electrical devices of unknown function, an elaborate stereo system, assorted sports gear and a book collection that contains not a single self-help guide or celebrity biography.

The effect is subtle, but even without a flashing Budweiser sign or a taxidermied elk head hanging on the wall the message is loud and clear: Man Cave Ahead. Testicles Recommended.

There are undoubtedly supernatural forces at work in The Man Cave. As if it senses the presence of anything pink or fluffy or that says, "I love you berry much" when squeezed. These things either disappear completely, meeting some tragic end or mysteriously find their way into my office. (You know dark forces are at work when Kira finds her Hello Kitty lipgloss in the -gasp- trash can.) And where my office is home to school projects, six hundred varieties of craft supplies, wrapping paper and vestiges from every holiday imaginable, The Man Cave boasts no obvious traces of family life. That saying, "No man is an island" is missing the last part of the sentence. It should read, "No man is an island, but they all sometimes wish they lived on one."

The sacredness of The Man Cave has its benefits. A couple of months ago my old PowerBook that had become the 'homework' computer sputtered and died. The girls seized this as a chance to infiltrate the hallowed halls of The Man Cave and started using the computer in Rigel's office, spending long stretches of time at his desk, cluttering it with half-drunk juice boxes and tainting his hard drive with downloads of Hilary Duff mp3's and Google searches for NeoPets. When someone left the cap off a Magic Fun Glitter Pen and it left a round, gooey blob on the cover of his new Zeppelin cd, it was the last straw. It's true what they say - it's hard to see a grown man cry. But I got a new computer very quickly, and the girls got my old one, souped up with extra memory and a brand new monitor.

Since breaking ground on The Man Cave many of our friends have followed suit, envious of Rigel's hideaway and monument to testosterone. Some have hung plasma TV's which they watch from the comfort of their regal leather couches, others have soundproofed the walls and set up mini recording studios. This has given me some ideas for a new magazine I plan to launch similar to Real Simple, targeted at men, and called Really Crude. It'll contain helpful how-tos on everything from turning twelve empty beer cans and a pizza box into a table, to fashioning a nifty window cover from old issues of Maxim.

I don't begrudge him his own space. Every man deserves a retreat, a place where they can thump their chests and proclaim to the world, "I don't eat no freakin' quiche." You have to feel for the guy, surrounded by three women, and bossy ones at that. Recently he's been on frantic mission to fix up the garage, and although he never said it out loud, I know he's thinking, "In a few years, when you're all on your periods at the same time, I'll need somewhere to hide."

Unfortunately, this is probably true, since by then The Man Cave will be just a memory. Eventually the girls will want their own bedrooms, and both of our offices will go to them. He and I will move our desks and computers into their room, which we'll share as a workspace. He'll have to suffer through his desk being used as a gift wrapping station, and want to hurt himself when I use his amp cords to tie back the curtains. But maybe, if he's behaving, I'll have mercy on him and let him have the room all to himself once in awhile, so he can crank the stereo way up, have a beer and remember when he was King of The Man Cave. Maybe.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Next Up: Stealing Shopping Carts From Homeless People.

Continuing my homage to PostSecret, here is my latest shameful parental transgression, from my series which I have dubbed "MomSecret":

MomSecrets from my past:
Bad Mommy

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Am Too Tired To Title This Post.

Whenever I tell anyone that I work for myself, usually their response is, "Aren’t you lucky. All that free time." This usually makes me laugh so hard I need to summon my cabana boy to hand me a hankie. But I feel it's about time to come clean, to give everyone a glimpse into my secret world, my days fueled by martini lunches and caviar binges while lying naked on my mink couch watching Oprah on my diamond-encrusted TV.

Come join me, won’t you?

I spent last Thursday finishing up a job I had been working on for the past two weeks. Unfortunately this meant that I had to cancel my manicure, pedicure and aura cleansing I had scheduled for that day. Around two o’clock I suddenly remember I have children, and after taking one last sip of cognac from my glass slipper I hop in the Bentley and run off to retrieve them.

As soon as we get home my client is calling with revisions on the job I just finished. I attempt to work while simultaneously acting as jumprope-turner and patron at an imaginary restaurant. I realize that the chances of finishing my job become slimmer as evening progresses and homework, dinner and clean-up approach. I regret firing the cook, the maid and the private tutor that morning.

The same client calls to tell me he has another job for me, this one due on Monday. My eyes glaze over thinking about the money to be made and I decide to make my design staff work the weekend, abandoning their families just to fill my coffers. After hanging up I realize I have no design staff to speak of and it will be me working over the weekend, abandoning my family to fill my own coffers. I resolve to drink heavily.

I work furiously Friday morning in order to steal away later that afternoon for a haircut that has been cancelled twice. I finish the job and send it off, just as my accountant calls to tell me that my sales tax return needs to be picked up, signed and mailed with a check by Monday. I agree to swing by that afternoon, and remember this promise as my head is being lowered into a shampoo bowl at the salon. Postpone accountant. Deeply regret firing chauffeur and personal assistant last week.

Numerous emails await me upon my return home, containing revisions to job #1, and also inquiries as to the progress of job #2 due on Monday. I lie boldly and say it’s "coming along nicely" when in fact I can’t even remember what the project description is. The light, perky feeling from my 90-minute-old haircut quickly fades when I get another call from the client telling me that document size on job #1 is wrong, and I need to revise and upload a new document that evening. I call for my barista to whip me up a cappuccino. When no one answers, I reluctantly make one for myself.

Begin planning for gathering that I am hosting on Sunday for my family, all 21 of them. I yell at the catering staff to get moving, but this only angers my husband, sister-in-law and children who threaten to walk out.

Work Friday night until 2:30am Saturday morning and upload files with a note that asks, "Is that Monday deadline flexible?" I receive no reply and imagine the client is laughing so hard he cannot type out a response.

Sleep in on Saturday morning and feel guilty, imagining my children will tell their friends, "Mommy has wine and then doesn't wake up the next day. Says she's been working." I spend half of the day cleaning and preparing for the upcoming gathering and the other half thinking of a way out of my Monday deadline, everything from, "My computer caught on fire" to "Yes, it seems I am the first case of bird flu in this country."

The party goes on all day Sunday, and most of the evening is spent cleaning up. Once again am remorseful that I sent the maid packing and have pangs of regret over my winning lottery ticket that I donated to charity.

I finally start working on my job at around 10pm.

I work until 4:00am Monday morning.

I email the layout and get to sleep by 4:30am.

Get up at 7:15 to get the girls ready for school. I receive an email from the client saying he loves the layout.

I receive another email from him saying that, though he still loves the layout, there are revisions. Also reminds me that he is waiting for the second part of the job. And also, expect further revisions on job #1 that was uploaded on Friday night. I then receive a phone call from the girls' school reminding me of the staff luncheon for 100 people that the PTA is hosting on Tuesday. I decide to run away to Vegas, but look out into driveway and realize someone has stolen my Bentley and replaced it with a minivan.

And then? Then I see this email from the witty Stacy of Another Mommy Moment, who describes herself as a "real-life desperate housewife." She tells me that she has nominated my post for the Perfect Post Award. My day gets better. To thank her I consider sending over an elaborate gift basket filled with spa certificates, candles and chocolate but realize that I am broke after making my sales tax payment. I curse the government, but am still in a jovial mood and decide my writing staff deserves a treat, and I lay myself down on the couch just in time to catch Oprah.

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