Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Date night - Decemberists at the Ryman.

As you may have guessed from my serious lack of recent posts, the unthinkable has happened:

Liam has stopped taking naps.

He still has quiet time alone in his room each day, but listening to cds for 30 minutes (his current fave? Lykke Li) before wandering out to tell me he had a great rest hardly makes up for the 2 to 4 hour break I used to get. And it's not like I was getting a whole hell of a lot done then so you can imagine how unproductive I am now.

It's a little scary.

Aside from mommy missing me time, the whole no nap thing is actually pretty great. We can do fun things in the afternoon without getting cranky half way through and having to run home for a nap, and Liam is forced to entertain himself more since there is no way in hell I could keep him engaged ALL DAY LONG (watching him wander around the backyard with the dog or listening at his bedroom door while he plays school with his stuffed animals makes me swoon). The best part is around 7:30 each night when we can start winding down for the day, knowing full well he will actually be tired enough to go to sleep (bedtime was becoming a nightmare - we would put him to bed at 8:30 and then spend the rest of the night trying to get him to stay in his room and go to sleep - he just wasn't tired!).

Even though this has been a positive change in our house hold (after 8 pm it's like we're on vacation!), things have still started to feel a little Groundhog Day around here. No matter where we go or what we do or how we spend the day, by the time I am helping Liam brush his teeth at night I feel like I'm in some sort of time warp where there is no way to distinguish one day from the next. It's all one big blur.

So several days ago when my husband got an email from one of his old advertising clients who offered him two tickets to see the Decemberists at the Ryman Auditorium, I jumped. A date! A night away from the mundane! Something new! Something different! I had no idea I was craving external input so much. I was thrilled!

Not thrilled enough to book a babysitter right away, though. Nah. It's just not my style to be on top of things like that. I like to wait until the last possible minute when all the regular sitters are booked and the desire for a night away compels me to ask friends, neighbors, people I just met, people I've never met (thank you listserve!) to please, for the love of God!, come to my house and watch TV while my child sleeps.

It's just one of the many ways I keep the monotony from getting to me.

By 6:00 the evening of the show we were resigned to the fact that we were staying home yet again. By 7:00 Liam had fallen asleep in the car. By 7:30 he was asleep in his bed. By 7:40 Bill had strong armed our friend Sean into coming over. By 7:43 we were shoving beer and food and the remote control at him and running out the front door.

We did it! We actually left the house together and were going on a date. And an interesting date, to boot! I didn't know the Decemberists all that well but what I knew of them I liked (I have several of their songs on on-the-go iPod mixes - if you don't know what this is, hit me up - it will change your life). Above all, I was pretty sure I could count on them to expose my brain to something completely new and out of the ordinary, which was just what I needed.

Exactly how out of the ordinary, I never could have imagined.

(Note - if you are a huge Decemberists' fan or are looking for a review of the show, please stop reading now. Thank you.)

We got our tickets at will call (I don't care who you are, saying you're on the list for Capital Records always feels cool), and settled into our very own pew with our $9 beers and the desire to be entertained. As the show started, I was as hopeful and supportive as I am when watching stand up on Comedy Central (I so want those people to be funny). Bill was...not so much.

Did I forget to mention he had been at the bar watching football all day? Yeah. While I absolutely do not have a problem with him drinking beer on a Sunday afternoon, I will say it did not leave us exactly on the same page with regards to the show. While I was all Fill my mind with something new!, he was like Dude, this is stooooopid! Oh, hello Guinevere. Hahahaha! What the fuck is this?

Usually we love to make fun of people together. It's one of our most favorite things to do. But I was trying so hard to be open minded and optimistic I just couldn't get on board. So instead I got annoyed. And a little drunk.

When I left to go to the bathroom for the third or fourth time (the beer was as tall as my forearm!), I ran into a couple of friends in the lobby who told me the show was supposed to be a rock opera and that was why it was so weird. They were on their way out - rock opera or not, they couldn't watch Liv Tyler from Lord of the Rings prance around the stage another minute.

I got back to our seats and told Bill.

"A rock opera?"

"Yeah. I guess the singer guy married that Guinevere chick and had a bunch of kids but then fell in love with an evil princess - the girl in black? - and killed his wife and kids so he could be with her."

"Huh. That would have been good to know."

The evil princess. Or whatever.

While we (and anyone else who was brave enough to enter our home this past winter) are very familiar with the hip-hopera genre - specifically R. Kelly's masterpiece Trapped in the Closet (the first 2 minutes of the link is a rundown of part 1 of the movie...oh shit) - rock opera was something new and different. Just knowing there was a reason for all the dramatics made us feel better. We even decided to stick around a little longer to see how the whole thing panned out.

Well that and we had to finish our beers.

Then, almost as abruptly as the show had started, it was over. At least, the rock opera portion of the evening was. The band said they would come back and play some more songs after a break so I went to the bathroom again and we got another beer (to share). The problem was, when they came back on stage and started playing songs, I didn't recognize any of them either (apparently my play lists are really old). And then Bill texted his friend Pete to tell him where we were and Pete texted him back to say, "You going home to watch Grey's Anatomy after the show?" (Oh snap.) And then the singer said something about corncobs and Cadillacs and that about did it for us.

On the way to the car (you gotta park far away if you want a free spot!), I said, "You know, they say that if something isn't happening easily it probably isn't supposed to happen. Maybe next time we have so much trouble finding a sitter we should take the hint and just stay home?"

"What are you talking about? That was an awesome date night! I'm starving. Let's get some food on the way home."

And for the first time all night, we were completely on the same page.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Like giving birth to a mirror.

At some point growing up, I must have asked my mom what it was like to have a baby because I have a vivid memory of her saying, "It feels like shards of broken glass moving through you." This memory lay dormant, of course, until I was just pregnant enough to realize that the rapidly growing human in my body was going to have to come out at some point. Funny enough, when I called my mom all freaked out about the broken glass bit, she had no idea what I was talking about. All she could tell me was how childbirth was no big deal and I had nothing at all to worry about.

"If I could choose," she said. "I would give birth over going to the dentist any day. It's just not that hard."

"Not that hard?! Mom. Seriously? I'm pretty sure it's hard."

"Nah. I had you and your sister both naturally and it wasn't bad at all. I got you out fast - maybe 2 hours from start to finish? I had to - I couldn't go much longer than that without a cigarette!"

After experiencing childbirth for myself and realizing my mom was totally crazy and out of her mind (no big deal my ass), I chalked up her easy deliveries to the fact that my sister and I were obviously low birth weight babies (we weren't) because of all the smoking she did when she was pregnant. It was the only thing that made me feel better about myself.

But recently I've found myself thinking that she may have been onto something with her broken glass analogy. Not that that's what having a baby feels like. No. Having a baby feels more like, well, I can't exactly say what it feels like. But I can assure you, it's waaaay worse than going to the dentist.

Having a child, though - being a parent - is kinda sorta like living with a person-sized piece of glass. A highly reflective piece of glass whose main purpose in life seems to be showing you what your not-so-great personality traits and inadequacies look like when acted out by a three year old boy.

Like a mirror with attitude.

The past couple weeks it seems everything challenging about Liam is something unique about one of us. For example, while watching Liam "participate" in a trial gymnastics class, two memories flashed before me: Bill's mom letting him quit karate (and drums and guitar and soccer and...) after he tried hanging himself with the seat belt on the way to the dojo; and me dropping out of gymnastics after the coach teased me for having spaghetti arms and not being able to do a push up (for the record, I still can't do one - probably nothing to do with quitting gymnastics to stay home and watch cartoons as a kid, right?). While the other kids ran around having fun and doing kid things, Liam passed out on the mat like a limp noodle (spaghetti noodle?) whining, "I don't like gymnastics. Can we go home now?" He was easily distracted, lazy, and did NOT like being told what to do.

I have no idea where he gets it.

Then today at the neighborhood bookstore Liam had a full on melt down because I stepped out of the gated children's area. I was fully visible not five feet from where he was playing but he acted like I had thrown him into a pit of hungry wolves and taken off running. I was totally shocked, a little embarrassed and spent a good chunk of the day feeling irritated and then guilty. When I told Bill about it, he kind of laughed and said, "That's exactly how I was!"

As Bill made dinner and we had the Do we focus on his strengths or try to improve his weaknesses? conversation for the umpteenth time, Liam came into the kitchen to sing us his favorite Smiths song (appropriately titled Half a Person).


(Bill introduced it to him when he was feeling shy about going to the YMCA with me. How much do you love a three year old singing Call me morbid, call me pale...?)

Afterward, Bill turned on some more Smiths and said, "You shouldn't worry about him being clingy, that's just how he is. Morrissey and I were shy and loved our Mamas a little too much, too and we turned out okay. Liam's a great kid. He'll be just fine."

I took a good look at my husband and realized how lucky I would be if my son turned out like him. Nope, nothing wrong with those genes at all.

And if he turns out like me? Well, I guess that won't be the end of the world either.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Foiled again by the evil powers of Facebook.

I just noticed on my Facebook profile that I was tagged in a photo by my cousin's teenage son. I found him recently and, perhaps against my better judgment, added him as a friend. That may sound weird. It's not that he's not my friend enough for Facebook. Please. It's virtual friendship. Everyone qualifies. But this is different. He's my family - someone I've known forever. Since he was the adorable baby my sister accidentally dropped down the stairs (totally unrelated, just, you know, kinda funny). In my mind he is, and will always be, a little boy. Seeing his Facebook profile and realizing that 16 is so not the same as 6 is kind of a rude awakening.

For one, it makes me feel old. Not because I'm doing that math like, If I was in high school when he was born and now he's in high school, that must make me... No. That's way too complicated (and besides, age ain't nothing but a number). It's just that, and I hope no one takes this the wrong way, teenagers seem kind of... weird. I mean, when you're not one. When you are one they are totally bad ass and awesome (although I don't think they ever refer to themselves as teenagers). But once that ship has sailed it's a little like observing an unfamiliar species. The way they look and talk and dress and interact - well, it's why I haven't been able to watch MTV since The Real World left San Francisco. I would need to hire a translator to figure out what the hell is going on and that is way too much effort for watching TV.

So I have no idea how to talk to this kid. I think the only thing I've ever said to him on Facebook was, "Give your sister a happy birthday hug for me!" Which, let's be honest, may as well have been, "Such a handsome young man...come over here so I can pinch your cheeks!" Gah!

You might be thinking, So what? You're twice his age. Who cares if you're out of touch? Well, I do! For one, it sucks to realize you're old. But much more importantly, if I'm this bewildered by the youth culture today, just imagine what an old fart I'll be when Liam is in high school! He'll be growing pot in his bedroom as a "project for science class" while I crochet doilies and adjust the volume on my hearing aide. I'll say things like, That's nice, dear and, Oh, you kids today! And I still won't know how to text message effectively so our lines of communication will be totally shot.

I should start saving up for a translator now.

So as you may have guessed, the photo he tagged? Not so good. It's not even a photo exactly, which might sound like a relief if you've been the victim of an unflattering tag, but let me assure you, it's much much worse. It's something called a Fan Check Photo which is a nice way of saying, Here's a collage of the 20 people who are cyber stalking you on Facebook! Here's what his Fan Check Photo looked like (or at least how it looked to this old bag):

And then, smack in the middle of all the high school cuteness - me:

Okay, maybe this is me:

But still! I look like a freaking member of the KGB or something! Like I added him on Facebook just so I could spy on him for his mom. Ack! That is soooo not the case. And, really, I don't even know why I would be one of his top stalkers in the first place. Just because I looked at some of his photos when I first added him, now I have to get called out as a fan? How embarrassing. And I'm sure it's even worse now that I had to go back to his page to see why I was tagged. Soon I'll be his number one fan and his girlfriend will want to know who the hell the cougar stalking him on Facebook is.

So, if you're considering finding out who your top fans on Facebook are, don't do it! Or at the very least don't share it with others. Really, no good can come from such information. Trust me. I'm older and I know better.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Walley martus.

I don't think it comes as much of a surprise that I kind of hate Walmart. But once upon a time I actually kind of liked it. A lot. When it first opened in Reno, I was in limbo - old enough to drive but not old enough to do anything that required being 21. Walmart changed that. At least... temporarily. It was somewhere we could go at night when we weren't in the mood to sit around at Denny's drinking coffee. I took a date there one time in an attempt to appear as Reality Bites as possible (I'm pretty sure I was drinking a Big Gulp of Diet Coke at the time), and recall dragging my sister there once in the middle of the night after getting just drunk enough to need baby blue toe nail polish RIGHT NOW.

After the novelty wore off (which, let's be honest, did not take long), I went to Walmart every now and then but no longer found it kitchy or entertaining. It was just kind of sad. And after I got my oil changed there and the guy didn't close my hood all the way and it flew up and broke my windshield while I was driving on the freeway during rush hour and Walmart didn't accept even a little bit of responsibility (even though a - the guy admitted that he couldn't get the hood to latch properly, b - Walmart has like a kazillion dollars and could easily have righted their wrong, c - my mom told the manager she spoke to that she didn't know how he could look at himself in the mirror anymore, and d - I COULD HAVE DIED!!!), I went from not liking it all that much to really, really hating it.

But, like everyone else in the world, I still find myself going there every once in a while. For the apple juice that Liam likes best or the bubbles that actually work or the Mexican aisle spices that are just like the baking aisle spices except seventy five cents instead of four dollars. And every time I go I think, I hate this store! I will never come here again! But then I do. We all do. And that's probably why it does so well.

Anyway. A couple of days ago, a friend forwarded me the following video.

Hello! As if I needed anymore reasons to hate Walmart. I know, I know - it's not like Walmart slapped the kid in the face. But could you imagine someone at Target doing that? No. Never! There's just something about Walmart that brings out our worst.

Then later that day - the very same day! - a friend e-mailed me a link to a site called People of Walmart. Have you seen this before? It's photos of people spotted at Walmart that folks from all over the country have submitted. The subject of the e-mail was OMG and OMG it was. The People of Walmart include an old man with breast implants, a woman riding around on a rascal with a parrot on her arm, and some of the most triumphant mullets you have ever seen. It's just like going to Walmart without the 10 minute line!

Now you might think that this would put me way over the top. Like I'd shake my head in recognition and vow never to walk past a "greeter" in a blue vest again (quotations necessary - do any of them actually greet?). But instead, the exact opposite happened. Suddenly I couldn't wait to go to Walmart. I even brought my camera just in case. And although I didn't use it (could you imagine? Oh my god! You're totally obese and trying to cram a sheet cake into the basket of your rascal. That is so People of Walmart! Say cheese fries!!!), it made the experience a lot more fun. The things that would normally make me scowl and curse through clenched teeth made me giggle and think, Eeee! Another one! It was like being in a video game.

If I had been rude bold enough to take pictures, here's a small sample of what I'd be showing you right now:

Three people in cutoff jean shorts (a man with his wife and his mother? a few strangers brought together by their love of meth?) attempting to use the self-checkout line when, as if things weren't confusing enough, one of their 40 ouncers falls to the ground sending beer and shattered glass every which way. I'm not sure which caption I would have gone with - the man saying to no one in particular, "Go git me anuther one", or the Walmart employee coming over to see what happened and having to tell the younger woman, "You're standing in glass." I was in line next to them for at least another five minutes and no one ever cleaned up the mess. (Although I'm pretty sure the older woman stole a Pepsi on her way out the door.)

A man sitting on the ground just outside the automatic doors with some sort of monitoring device plugged into the outlet on the side of the building and attached via suction cups to his bare chest. He was smoking a cigarette.

For more stories that involve me hating Walmart but going there anyway, click here, here or here. What can I say? I'm a sucker for punishment!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Only in the south.

As we were leaving the house to go to the YMCA for a repeat of yesterday's awesome discovery that the pool is way more fun if the water slide gets involved, Bill noticed a fresh puddle of liquid under his car.

"Fuck," he said under his breath. I could tell he was immediately consumed by thoughts of expensive repair bills and carpooling to work. He looked over at my car and saw a second puddle, much fainter but in the same general size and shape, underneath. "Son-of-a...Is that where I parked yesterday?"

I didn't answer him and avoided looking up as I buckled Liam into his car seat. It felt like that scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphy is helping The Dad change a tire on the side of the road and something terrible happens and Ralphy says the F word and all hell breaks loose. I don't know who I felt like, Ralphy or The Dad. And, actually, that scene totally doesn't make sense at all for the situation. But that's what it felt like. Bad.

(Maybe it's like this for everyone who doesn't know a thing about cars but owns one anyway?)

I quietly got into the front seat and watched Bill in the rear view mirror. He knelt down to run a finger along the wet pavement then rubbed his pointer finger and thumb together before taking a nice long whiff. He got into the car and wiped his fingers on a tissue.

"I don't know what that is. It doesn't smell like anything but it's sticky," he said.

"Oh yeah? Huh." What was I supposed to say? I almost went with, Maybe it's just water? because that seemed harmless enough but then I thought, What if a water leak is like a really bad thing for a car to have? So I didn't say anything at all. I just sang along with Miss Courtney Jaye in the car and went down the water slide as many times as I could before the pool closed.

Once we got home I busied myself making dinner while Bill went outside to see if he could figure out what was wrong with his car. (I call it a car but it's really a Dodge Durango. Does that matter? If it was a truck I'd say truck but calling it SUV just seems weird. See? That is how little I know about cars.)

Bill used to be in the same boat as me when it came to fixing things. We were like the blind leading the blind (if the blinds solution to a tricky DIY situation was to ignore it and watch TV). But somewhere along the line (I believe it was Fall of 2002), he totally stepped up to the plate. The first thing he fixed was the garbage disposal in our old house. He just hopped online, found a few differnt tutorials and figured it out. I was beyond impressed (from my warm spot in front of the TV, of course). Since then, with more than a little help from our awesome friends, he's fixed lots of things. Including cars.

But still. A puddle that big couldn't be good. And it had been leaking for two days. Driving all the way to and from work with that much liquid not in the car would only have made things worse. And the timing sucked. If ever we had a pile of money set aside just in case something needed to be fixed, that pile was no where to be found.

A few moments later Bill came into the kitchen and said, "Well. Good news, bad news." I turned around to face him and noticed he was holding several gallon sized jugs half full of brownish liquid. Oh no.

"Is that oil?" I asked not knowing whether that would be a good or bad thing.

"Nope. Not oil! The good news is nothing is leaking from the engine or from under the car. The bad news is I left these jugs of sweet tea in my back seat and they exploded."

"Sweet tea?"

"Yeah! So much sweet tea that it soaked through the floor. You should see how sticky everything is!"

"Ugh, gross. But, I guess thats better than a real leak."

"Yeah. Imagine if I had taken it in to the shop." Then in his best Egyptian accent: "Sir. Dee problem eez...sweet tea."

Only in the south.