Friday, August 31, 2012

838. She Is A Catalog

My friend, Katarina, recently moved back from Paris after living there the past five years.  She pretty much brought the entire contents of Fashion Week with her in her suitcase and her one gazillion moving boxes.  (Tidbit of actual conversation as I helped her unpack boxes:  Me:  “Katarina, more clothes?  What about, you know, tables?  And chairs?  Cleaning supplies?  Dishes?”  Her:  “I can buy those here in America.  Tell me where I can buy Jean-Jouiliett Francsia in America?”  She had a point.) 

Katarina never used to be the type of person that changes her outfit five times a day, but somehow that is who she has morphed into now. 
We meet for coffee:  she looks runway ready in Outfit #1, a silk dress with an avant-garde print of leaves and dots, accessorized with a chunky wood necklace.  I happen to run into her at the grocery store later the same day (buying cleaning supplies):  she has apparently changed into fashionable Outfit #2, a flawless ivory blouse with a beaded collar paired with a ruby red linen skirt with a cut-out design at the hem.  I swing by her house later to drop off some brownies I made for her family, and she is wearing (you guessed it) Outfit #3, a purple cashmere tank top, long green skirt with random sequins sewn on, and five-inch heels.  She tells me she would love to invite me in, but she and her husband are getting ready to go out for dinner.  I tell her to have fun and that I love her skirt.  She replies, “Oh, heaven help us!  I am not wearing this!” 
What happened to Katarina? 

I mention this dramatic transformation to The Husband.  He shrugs.  “What do you expect, MOV?  Her husband is a neurosurgeon and she is a mom.  She has the time, he has the money, why not buy some new clothes in Paris?” 
Katarina’s fashion obsession has rubbed off on her twin high-school-aged daughters.  They are teenaged versions of her:  gorgeous, gregarious, and wearing beautiful French clothes at all times.  The whole family looks as though they have stepped off the pages of an ultra-stylish magazine, or at the very least, an elite French catalog called, “Glamourez-Vous.”  Katarina does not own jeans nor will she even discuss it with me. 

I begin to develop a complex.  I cannot merely show up at Katarina’s house in a faded t-shirt and khaki shorts.  I start ironing my sundresses and looking for my pearl bracelet.  Katarina has pushed my wardrobe to a new level:  Thought About.  My wardrobe used to live in that careless and ambivalent place called Afterthought, but no longer!     
Katarina calls me last week and asks when we can get together.  My schedule is full, and the only time I have is when I am supposed to be school-supply shopping for Tall and Short. 

“Katarina, do you want to go to Target with me on Tuesday night?  We could grab a Starbucks after?” 
I go to pick her up.  I am wearing a Katarina-worthy outfit:  a fuchsia taffeta ball gown and a glittery rhinestone tiara.  There is Katarina at the door:  she’s wearing jeans with a hole in the knee.  She takes one look at me and smiles:  “MOV, thank God, you are finally dressed appropriately!”    


Thursday, August 30, 2012

837. You Are Divorcing Your Husband and Marrying Target

It's true.  You have known Target longer, and Target has been more loyal.  Remember that time your husband cheated on you with Gwyneth Paltrow in that über-realistic dream?  See, Target would never do that. 

You have a secret date with Target tonight.  Don’t tell anyone.  You are heading out for “school supplies” right after dinner.
Target is there, waiting for you.  Smiling.  Winking.  Opening doors (automatically).  When is the last time your husband opened a door for you? 

Target does not judge nor criticize.  Target does not say, “Hon, do we really need new green and white throw pillows for the living room?  I kinda like the yellow ones we already have, plus I think you just bought them a couple of months ago.”  No.  Target would never say such a thing.  Instead, Target whispers, “I can give you 25% off the green and white pillows because they just went on clearance.” 
Target knows how to talk sexy.  Target does not say things like, “I can’t believe you didn’t wash the lunch dishes.  What have you been doing all day, anyway?”  Instead, Target volunteers, “Did you know that Pepperidge Farm Mint Milano cookies come in a mini-version now?  Aisle 32.” 

Your husband stopped understanding you years ago, perhaps on your honeymoon.  Oh, sure, he is kind and considerate, but he never opened a boutique Starbucks in a corner of your kitchen. 
Target did. 

Target is thoughtful like that.  You go to Target and right by the front door is the barista, waving and saying your name.  The barista has your double-tall-extra-foam latte waiting for you. 
Your husband might play games with the kids in the backyard, pretending to "bond" by running around and making up silly variations of Hide and Seek that combine it with Marco Polo.  However, Target is smarter because Target has witnessed the essence of your children and knows what makes them tick:  rampant materialism.  That's right, Target has toys.  Legos, Hot Wheels cars, Pokémon, action figures, Star Wars items, sporting equipment.  Toys for boys, none of this Let’s hang out and spend quality time together mumbo jumbo.       
So you buy the new pillows, the mini Mint Milanos, and your special latte.  You also buy a cool woven purse and some fake suede shoes that were not exactly on the official list.  Remarkably, you somehow remember to purchase a few packs of highlighter markers and fresh pencils to meet that “school supplies” criteria. 

You drive home, humming your Target tune (“I love Target, yes I do,”).  You walk in the door of your house and are immediately assaulted by your sons, who squeal, “Did you remember to get us anything from Target?”  You pour out the items onto the dining room table and the children cheer when they see you bought them each a toy car for a dollar.    

“I love Target so much, Mom!” enthuses your older son.  “I think I will marry Target when I grow up!" 
Get in line, kid. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

836. Judgmental Tomatoes

The Husband has a garden, which he tends to with consistency.  It’s raining, he’s out there.  It’s 95 degrees, he’s out there.  First thing in the morning, garden.  Late afternoon, after work?  Yep.  Let’s just say if that garden were a pool, he would be Michael Phelps.  The Husband is the Michael Phelps of the gardening world. 

So it should come as no surprise that we have beautiful vegetables to eat every night.  We have carrots, cucumbers, squash.  And there are lots of tomatoes. 
I have never been a huge fan of tomatoes.  Oh, sure, a small one sliced up in a salad is okay, or perhaps one on a burger.  But it is not like I seek them out. 

The problem with The Husband’s tomatoes (besides the sheer fact that there are so many of them) is the taste.  The Husband is a big believer in “Natural is better.”  This translates into no pesticides. 
I, myself, was pretty much raised on pesticides.  When confronted with a small, juicy, ripe red tomato, I really don’t know how to respond.  I tentatively take a bite or two, you know, to be polite.  But then the flavor punches me in the tongue.  The flavor grips the back of my throat and screams.  What it is screaming is, “This is what a real tomato tastes like!” 
You know where this is going.  The tomato just tastes, well, too tomatoey.  I like my tomatoes to be artificially big, a little bit green, and taste like plastic.  It’s what I am used to.  Pop-Tarts taste normal to me.  Corn dogs seem organic.  I could eat Cool-Whip three meals a day.   

What this all means is one thing:  we have tomatoes sitting out all over our counter, rotting.  The Husband tries to deal with this surplus of tomatoes by canning them.  However, he is only able to use up 150 tomatoes this way, leaving at least another 50 or so for me.  I don’t even want one, let alone 50. 

The Husband will not let me give them away, which is so weird.  He freely gives away peppers and pumpkins and potatoes.  But he is very attached to these tomatoes and he tells me he is going to eat them. 
So they sit on the counter and rot.  I move them from a big plate to a smaller plate as one by one they commit tomato suicide (tomato-cide?)  I feel like they are sitting their, shaking their little tomato heads at me and sighing.  They think I am a bad person, a non-tomato person. 

Here is a picture of how many we have left now. 
And then here is a picture of the kind of vegetables I prefer to grow. 

That’s right, brownie bites.  I make them from scratch in a mini-muffin pan.  Then we introduce the brownie bites to their long-lost cousins who live in the refrigerator. 

Hello, Caramel!  How do you do? 

And here comes Mr. Whipped Cream to join us! 

Sorry, tomatoes.  I want to love you, I do.  But my heart belongs to that fifth food group:  junk food.      

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

835. When Sexy's Not

It’s no secret that I love the television show Top Chef.  All those personalities, all those judges, all that food.  Yummy.  But I have noticed an alarming trend lately, and that is that everyone and their competitor wants to use the word “sexy” to describe, well, just about anything.  The buñuelos are sexy, the roast chicken is sexy, heck, even the grilled asparagus with garlic is sexy. 

The word, frankly, is overused. 
Jude Law is sexy.  Leonardo DiCaprio has sex appeal oozing out his pores.  Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, or George Clooney—do we need to discuss their sexiness?  Brad Pitt pretty much defines sexy.   

But buñuelos?  Little fried pieces of shortening dipped in powdered sugar?  I find that to be an insult to Johnny Depp.   
I have a suggestion for the producers of Top Chef:  invest in a thesaurus.  Instead of prompting the contestants, guest judges, and the beleaguered host to overuse the previously glittery and formerly shocking word (“sexy,” in case you missed that), maybe introduce a few new words.  Put the now-lackluster (dare I say, defunct?) dinosaur back on the shelf and instead reach for descriptive words like tantalizing, seductive, flirty, perfect, or heavenly.  Might I suggest alluring, enticing, romantic, or perhaps divinely inspired? 

Cooking is supposed to be an art, so Top Chef could substitute arty words.  Think masterpiece, creative endeavor, pièce de résistance, artistic triumph.  Or consider words that normally describe food, such as delectable, savory, scrumptious, mouthwatering, and satisfying.  Of course there is always that one simple word we used to use to label a great meal:  delicious.   
Not everything is sexy, nor does it have to be.  Last week, I spent the better part of an afternoon hulling fresh strawberries and mixing them with cream and sugar in my ice-cream maker.  The results were well worth it.  I called my two young sons to sample the creamy concoction: 

“Well, boys, what do you think?” 
They did not have to think long for their unanimous answer:  “YUM!”    

trifecta writing challenge:  the word is "dinosaur" and my essay is exactly 333 words

Monday, August 27, 2012

834. Lost In Living

Recently, a reader contacted me about her movie. Usually when people contact me, it is about me owing money to American Express, or needing to get my teeth cleaned or my tires rotated, so this was definitely a nice change of pace. When she said she was a film-maker based in Los Angeles, my mind immediately started to wander. I’ll bet she was up for an Oscar and she knew I was a writer so she was going to invite me to her world-wide premiere or the Sundance Film Festival! I would get to buy a new dress, get my hair highlighted, and hang out with George Clooney!  

“This is not an invitation,” said The Husband bursting my bubble like he always did. He read her email once more. “She just wants to tell you about her film. But when she does get famous, you can say you knew her back then.”

It was exactly like my relationship with Angelina Jolie before she became über famous. There I was, back in the early days before Brad Pitt, giving Angelina acting advice, and she—
“You don’t know Angelina Jolie, either. Stop pretending you do.” Apparently, The Husband thinks he’s a mind-reader now.

Anyway, without further ado, I am turning my blog over today to the talented Mary Trunk so she can tell you about her latest project. Enjoy!
Where are you in your journey of mothering and your journey of creativity? Perhaps you are contemplating your next novel or blog post while also nursing your infant. Did you just find out you are pregnant and the star of a new play? Or possibly your children are grown and you now have all the time in the world to paint in your studio.

I am the Director of an upcoming documentary film called Lost In Living. Filmed over seven years, my film confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. The intense and messy journey of motherhood and creative passion.
I was one of those women who vowed never to have children. I was the oldest of seven, forced to babysit constantly and wanted no part of it when I grew up. I studied drawing and painting, became a dancer and choreographer and got my MFA in film. I was terrified that a child would strip me of all of that. It took me many years and therapy sessions to realize that while having a child WOULD change everything it did not mean I had to stop being an artist. I’d just be a different artist.

My daughter was born in 2001. Those early years were relentless, boring, wonderful and lonely. Where was the life I had lost in living this new one as a mother? I needed to meet other mothers experiencing the same thing. And so my journey began. My film focuses on four women who reveal their most vulnerable and personal revelations about their lives as mothers and creative beings.
Please visit the website to view the trailer and short clips from the film.

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise the final funds to complete the film by October. A thousand thanks if you can spread the word, contribute and participate in this journey with me.  Here is the LINK.  (Just 10 days left!)
I hope this film speaks to you because your words have inspired me and kept me going. Thanks!

Friday, August 24, 2012

833. There's No Comparison

When I was young and beautiful and insecure with absolutely nothing to be insecure about, I would spend an inordinate amount of time comparing myself to other people, specifically women, specifically pretty women.  I would find myself at the frozen yogurt place staring at some lovely creature in line in front of me, wondering to myself, “Am I as pretty as her?  I am as pretty as her.  Right?  Oh, she is smiling and has bad teeth!  Yeah!  I am prettier than her! And if I am not, at least I have better teeth than she does.” 

This silent self-inflicted torture was never-ending.  There I was at the gym, gawking at some other college-aged girl, again thinking, “I’m prettier than her.  Yes.  Wait, her abs are awesome.  Okay, she has better abs, but terrible skin! At least my skin is prettier.” 
Everywhere I went, all day long, it was the Insecurity & Comparing Channel:  “She is tanner than me, but I am taller!  Taller is better than tanner.  But look at her boyfriend—he is hot.  Okay, she might be prettier than me.” 

Now that two decades have elapsed and I have the perspective of time, wisdomity, maturityness, and excellent grammar, I look back in sheer disgust at my beautiful former self, wasting all that time marinating in a soup of unfounded self-criticism. 
Pictures don’t lie, nor even fib a little.  I look at old photos of the era in question (1990), and I was just like Heidi Klum, only blonder.  All right, maybe not Heidi Klum, but perhaps like Christie Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs combined.  With a dash of Cheryl Ladd thrown in.  But younger. 

And thinner. 
And with less modeling contracts. 

All right, I may not have been Claudia Schiffer’s or Gwyneth Paltrow’s long-lost triplet, but I was actually quite pretty. 
I had boyfriends.  I had dates.  I had guys I did not know passing me on the street but then turning around for the second look.  And following me.  And asking me out.  While I was holding hands with my boyfriend.    

Flash forward to today.  The main difference between cute and clueless MOV at age 20 and overweight and bedraggled MOV at age 40 is that now I know I am not as pretty as other people.  I don’t have to second-guess myself (“I am as pretty as she is, right?”) because the answer is:  NO.  In capital letters.  I am not stupid, I own a mirror, I have eyes in my head.  I am not as pretty as the lovely girls I compare myself to, or used to compare myself to.    

However, none of that matters, because I have evolved to the point where I can now focus on what is truly important in life, like family, friends, books, travel, education, adventure, and helping other people.  I realize that my previous obsession with my appearance was shallow and silly.  Pretty, not pretty, who cares?     
So I have a new fun game I play while I am in line at Starbucks or the dry cleaners.  It goes like this:  “Well, at least I am not as fat as she is.  Right?  I hope not.  Dear God, I am not quite that fat, am I?” 

And then I notice the tag on one of the dresses she has dropped out of her dry cleaning bag, and the tag is the same size I wear.  I bend down and pick up the garment for her and hand it back.  She thanks me profusely and flashes me a warm smile. 
Luckily she has bad teeth. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

832. Summer Is Over On August 22

I looked at the calendar a few days ago and realized with mixed emotions that there are only two more weeks of summer left.  That’s okay, a lot can happen in 14 days—when I was 14, I could have met a cute guy and 14 minutes later developed a very serious crush on him.  In 14 hours, I could have called my best friend with the simpatico heart 14 times and lamented about how my crush may or may not like me back.  In 14 days I could have planned our wedding and named all our future children.  I’m just saying:  14 days still gives you time to accomplish some things. 

However, the rest of the population does not tend to view things the way I do.  Everyone I know is going around like Chicken Little squawking, “Summer is over!  Summer is over!”

The problem with late August is that although it is still technically summer, people feel compelled to repeatedly remind each other “Summer is almost over!  Won’t be summer too much longer!  Gonna have to put away the swimsuits and get out the coats!”  Everyone wants to rush the season. 
Don’t even get me started on the local department stores.  I try to find some cute shorts on sale, and all I see are flannel pants, cashmere sweaters, and fleece jackets.  The mannequins are even smirking at me from behind their wool hats and matching scarves.    

My outdoor thermometer reads 95 degrees. 
I want to enjoy the last sunny remnants of summer.  I want to go to the pool and worry about getting sunburnt.  I want to tell The Husband he needs to mow the lawn again because can you believe how fast the grass grows in summer?  I want to slurp Popsicles on the back patio and have them melt all over my hand before I get halfway done.  I want to luxuriate in my 14 days. 

Sorry, I have to run.  I think I hear the ice-cream truck.


trifecta writing challenge:  the word is heart, and my essay is exactly 333 words

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

831. Olympics, Shmalympics

I always knew I was athletic.  Back when I was a baby and most other babies were crawling or walking, I was burping a lot and occasionally rolling over.  When other elementary-aged kids were off-roading with their new two-wheel bikes and flipping wheelies, I was showing them who was boss with my rickety garage-sale training wheels.  And now that I am an adult and realize that I will never, not ever, be a professional archer, there is one sport that has presented itself to me as truly MOV-friendly:  ribbon twirling.    

Before this last Olympics, I had no idea that such a thing existed.  All those hours in junior high when I danced in front of my bedroom's full-length closet mirror to Pat Benetar songs while flipping around leftover curling ribbon from my last birthday party, I was actually training for my future sport of choice.  Twirl, twirl, kick, spin, oops, pick up ribbon.  I was getting good!    
Alas, at that time, ribbon twirling competition had not yet reached the frenzied zenith of popularity that it one day would enjoy.  The National Counsel of All Things Olympics (NCATO) had not discovered the greatness of ribbons back in 1986.

There I was, attempting to play field hockey and getting all nerve-endings completely beaten out of my bloody shins by those mean girls with sticks, when all along, I could have just been twirling!  
Ribbon twirling is like all the easy parts of gymnastics, the too much eye-shadow parts of ballet, and the bouncy forced-happiness parts of cheerleading, all rolled into one.  It is the über-sport for cute girls with zero talent.  

I knew I would fit right in.  Minus the cute part. 

Unfortunately, I am “too old” now to participate in ribbon twirling (the official rules cap the age limit at 11 ½); but, I have decided not to be depressed about this.  Instead, I choose to do what anyone would in my situation:  make fun of ribbon twirlers. 

Can you imagine them on the Olympics’ bus back to the hotel after a busy day of practicing and competing?  There they are, halfway around the world, making friends with other world-class athletes who have prepared for years for their event, when the dreaded question arises:  Which sport do you do? 
“My name is Elizabetta, and I play beach volleyball.” 

“I am Sonja, and I dive.” 
“I am Kioto, and I bike.” 

And then a tiny squeaky voice comes from the way back of the bus, “My name is Tiffany, and I ribbon twirl!” 
The bus goes silent.  It is as if someone’s little sister has snuck on board illegally and is begging to go to the PG-13 rated movie with everyone else, even though (clearly) she is only allowed to go to rated G. 

You know how in jail there are hierarchies of criminals?  The murderers get a certain amount of respect from their peers, because, well, because they are serving four consecutive life sentences for killing someone.  Murderers are considered dangerous.  The other inmates also clear a wide berth around the arsonists—you don’t want to make one of them mad.  But the white-collar criminal who is in for six months for tax evasion?  He is about as harmful as leftover wrapping supplies, minus the scissors.  He gets zero respect, maybe less.  The other felons make fun of him. 
That is the ribbon twirler.  The ribbon twirler is the wannabe.  Her winter counterparts, the ice-dancers, say, “At least I can skate!”   

Even the ribbon twirler herself knows it is all a sham.  After she kisses her Silver Medal and dedicates it to Justin Beiber, she shrugs and remarks, “Now onto the real sport:  hula hooping.” 

Monday, August 20, 2012

830. Royal Flush

When a longtime reader of mine, Scott Bartlett, contacted me about his new book (Royal Flush) and asked me to print his post about it, I was immediately skeptical.  How much money would he be paying me?  $10?  $300?  A million?  A Starbucks gift card for an indeterminate amount that I would immediately lose in my glove compartment or the bottom of my purse?  “Nothing*,” he said (*he may or may not have said that, or I may have made it up).  Was he expecting me to pay him?  And if not, what was the point?  “No money will transfer hands nor cyber-bank accounts with secret PIN numbers, MOV.  And the point is:  quality writing.” 

Of course I thought my loyal readers might at first be confused with quality writing, after reading my words for so long.  But what the heck?  I was willing to roll the dice.  “I’ll do it!” I shouted* to Scott (*emailed).  And without further ado, here is Scott’s essay:

I began high school with a humongous ego.
I’m not sure how that happened.  In junior high, I was a social outcast.  I was into Magic the Gathering and Mage Knights, and what few friendships I had were tenuous at best.

I vividly remember sitting behind the teacher’s desk on the last day of grade seven.  I don’t recall how I ended up there, but there I was—looking out over a classroom full of nobody I felt comfortable talking to.  Looking out over the next three years of my junior high career, stretched before me.  Nevertheless, I entered high school, preposterously, with a high opinion of myself.  And I wanted a girlfriend.

This had immediate implications. For example: I had no concept of ‘leagues’—as in: “She’s out of your league.”  There was just the one league, as far as I was concerned, and I ran wildly about it, querying every beautiful girl in sight regarding her interest in a romantic outing with yours truly.  That’s right—I was that guy.  A serial asker-outer.

But even ‘that guy’ succeeds once in a while.  I didn’t.  For the entirety of my high school years, interest levels in proposed outings were stuck at “not at all interested, thanks.”

I wasn’t bitter about it.  In fact, I found the sheer consistence of it amusing.  And there’s a thing I do when I find something amusing, or interesting, or irksome, or moving.  I write a story.

That brings me to why I’m telling you this.  See, sometime during the sordid junior high years, I realized I want to be a novelist.  In fact, it’s all I want to do.  Nothing else interests me in the slightest (as far as serving as a vocation).  What a predicament!  I attempted a novel then, and got distracted halfway through Chapter Three. I fared better in grade twelve, in that I actually finished a novel—a science fiction novel.  But it was horrible and I knew I would never let anyone read it.  It dawned on me that I lacked the experience to write a good book. To be a novelist, I supposed, one had to experience the world.

“But wait,” I said to myself during the year after high school. “There’s one thing of which I have copious experience. Getting rejected repeatedly by beautiful women!”  And so Royal Flush was born. It’s a book about a man known only as the King, who rules a land known only as the Kingdom.  It’s divided into four parts, and in each one the King fails spectacularly with yet another woman.  (That may or may not happen in the fourth part—I can’t tell you that because SPOILERS.)

The King is incompetent, moronic, and depraved.  He isn’t actually based on me—I swear! And his romantic mishaps aren’t my romantic mishaps.  But let’s just say that when it came to writing about someone who is completely undesirable to women, I was a pro.  And if you’re wondering whether my ego survived three years of decisive rejection from numerous female parties—yeah, it totally did. I am, apparently, Narcissus incarnate. 

Scott Bartlett's new novel, Royal Flush, is the recipient of the H.R. (Bill) Percy Prize.  Please click HERE to link to Amazon to order the book ($12.99), or to read all the awesome reviews.  Royal Flush is also available as an ebook ("e" stands for "excellent"). 

cover image used with permission

Congratulations to Scott on his new book being released!  I am honored to tell people about it. 


Monday, August 13, 2012

829. Read My Essay at Southern Fried Children

My cyber-friend, the über talented Kelly at Southern Fried Children, asked me to write a guest post for her while she is on vacation.  Since I adore fellow-Virgo Kelly and every divine word she writes, there was no playing coy.  Our email conversation went something like this: 

KELLY:  Would you like to write a guest post for me?
ME:  Ohmygod, ohmygod (hyperventilating into paper bag kept next to my computer for just such occasions), yes!  Yes!  How soon do you need it? 

Kelly, being the ultra-organized Virgo that she is, asked me to write the essay about a month in advance.  Me, being a huge fan of Kelly’s, wanted to impress her not just with my clever writing, but also with my hyper-Olympic speed.  I typed something up immediately and sent it to her about 20 minutes later.  I was trying to out-Virgo the Virgo. 
And today is finally the day that Kelly has posted my essay on her blog!  It has donuts in it.  And drama.  And teenagers.  Hop over HERE to read it.  And oh, yeah, follow Kelly.  Because she is awesome. 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

828. Disney Dinner Dilemma

We are planning a Disney family vacation in November.  Our pre-paid package includes hotel, airfare, ground transportation, and meals.  I am super-excited to take the boys there, and in true Virgo fashion, I made myself a big bowl of fresh popcorn and started perusing two Disney guide books I recently bought so I could obsess over every tiny detail of our trip. 

Turns out, Disney is Virgo, too. 
In fact, when I called to make our dinner reservations like the book suggested, I was told (politely) that I was about three months too late.    

Six months?!  Who books dinner reservations six months in advance?
“The smart people,” answered Cailey, the Mousecation Specialist.  “Most people, you know, when they call, they go ahead and set up all their restaurant reservations right then.  But even though it is super-close to now, I’ll see what I can do for you.” 

November is apparently super-close to now. 
I could hear Cailey typing furiously at her magic keyboard.  Click-click-clickety. 

“Let me check here … hmm.  You wanted to go to Pluto’s Paradise Pavilion?  Yes, looks like I can definitely get you in there for dinner at 10:45 PM.  Shall I book it?” 
“Wait, 10:45?” I gasped, choking on popcorn.  “At night?  On a Tuesday?!” 

“Or if you’d rather eat a little later, I also have an 11:15 PM slot still open,” she replied cheerfully. 
“I have kids,” I whimpered.  “So there is nothing around 6 or 7, then?”       

I thought I heard suppressed giggles, but then Cailey calmly explained that it was just static on the line. 
“Maybe we should focus on lunch reservations instead?” I offered wearily, picking stray popcorn kernels off the pages of my useless Disney guide book. 

“Sure!” she chirped.  “How about Daisy’s Dining Adventure at 3:30 PM?” 
“Cailey,” I said as nicely as I could, “does 3:30 sound like an acceptable time for lunch to you?” 

“No, you’re right … let me book you at 10:15 AM instead.”  More typing.  Clickety-click. 
“I’m sorry, we can’t eat lunch that early.”  I tried hard not to let my frustration show.  I wanted to be that organized person that calls six months ahead instead of the wannabe who calls only three months ahead and is still expecting to eat something at a normal hour. 

“Cailey, are you telling me that I cannot eat at a normal hour when I get to Disney?” 
“Ma’am, no!  That is not what I am saying at all.  Sometimes people cancel.  Or die.” 

“Well, what should I do in case that does not happen?” 

More typing.  Clack.  Clickety.  Click-click. 
“I know!” squealed Cailey.  “I can change your entire reservation!  We will just move your stay to another week.” 

Why had I not thought of this before?  It was the perfect solution.  If I just booked the first week of December instead of November, I would not have this problem. 
“Okay, Cailey.  Let’s do it.  Let’s change the whole reservation.”  I felt immense gratitude to Cailey for setting me straight. 

“Ma’am, I can get you in on March 30, of next year.  And then you can have dinner at 9:30 and lunch at 2.” 
Or I can just smuggle in some popcorn.   


Friday, August 10, 2012

827. Brothers' Day

Valentine’s Day was created by Cupid.   Halloween was originated by some witches, ghosts, and a wayward skeleton.  Christmas honors Jesus himself.  So who am I to come up with a holiday?    

Last year, my older son Tall approached me and complained, “Mom, why is there a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but no Kids’ Day?”
It was one of those age-old things that kids have said since the beginning of time and Hallmark, like “Are we there yet?” and “Do I have to?” or “It’s not fair!”  It was a code phrase that is hard-wired into their little psyches in utero, if not before then.      

Of course, my first instinct was to respond the way my mom always did (“Because every day is Kids’ Day”), but upon further reflection (and truth be told, a nice glass of Chardonnay), I thought, Why not?  Why not make a day that is just for them? 
I did not worry that the Holiday Police would find me.  Had they stopped the fun of St. Patrick’s Day or Groundhog Day?  I think not.  With the Holiday Police, the more holidays, the better.  Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo (celebrated by Americans who cannot pronounce it), Mardi Gras, Boss’s Day?  Bring it!

When I submitted my new holiday proposal to the Center for Holiday Advancement and Enlightenment (who do you think pays the Holiday Police), I knew that I had to come up with a catchy title.  After all, I did not want them to laugh at me or turn me down.  That’s when I knew what our holiday should be:  Brothers’ Day. 
Next up was the pesky task of choosing the day.  September 21 was out, because that is my birthday and there was no way I was going to share it (although I do share it with Larry Hagman and Bill Murray).  Seems like July 4 was already taken, as was December 25.  Then I eliminated the months my sons and The Husband were born.  Next, we got out a dartboard, a Ouija board, and a Magic 8 ball for some expert input.  Somehow, we landed at August. 

August would be great.  No need to pull the kids out of school to celebrate.  No need to wear coats.  We picked the first of the month so it would be easy to remember, and it is. 
Last year was our first official Brothers’ Day.  (I did notice it was not in the newspapers.)  The Husband took the day off from work, and we asked the boys how they wanted to spend their time, which is how we ended up doing putt-putt golf and bowling in the same day. 

We had a blast. 
This year, we decided to go to a local waterpark with slides, and then later an animated movie (“Ice Age”—a nice contrast after being out in the heat all day).  We snacked on popcorn and candy, and stayed for all the credits.

As we walked out of the theater, Short turned to me and said, “Mommy, this is the best holiday ever.  Who came up with it?”