Friday, September 23, 2011

Mama Mia (Here I Go Again).

It's a Friday night, and being that I am old, I am here in my most favorite cozy grey v-neck and questionable pants and not out and about gallivanting with young whipper-snappers. I am futzing around on time-wasting websites, because I don't have to wake up early in the morning and I have decided that watching a U2 tribute band at the local casino might be a trifle disappointing. Here is a sampling of my adventures on the interwebs.

If you would like to polish your trash-talking skills, visit the Pirate Oath Insult Generator. In no time, you'll be able to hang tough with Jack Sparrow and his gang, flinging such gems as "Have a face full o' me boot, ye jelly-boned thumb sucking crud bucket!" (Are ye shiverin' in yer boots yet, matey?) I am sure this is bound to come in handy one day. In fact, I think I will try it on the next telemarketer that calls! Everyone needs goals.

I may be one of the only people in America who is not particularly fond of Oprah Winfrey. No matter that I subscribe to her magazine (it's very good!), or that I am immensely awed by her talents and accomplishments. She just seems a little fake around the edges, and no matter how many cars and houses she gives away, it's all a little "Look at me! I'm so RICH! And generous!" (Full disclosure: I tend to also avoid movies featuring Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. Hope I don't get my passport revoked.) No matter! I will partake in Oprah-fy Yourself to see what I would look like as the icon herself. Let's check out the results:

Hmmm. That's kind of how I look in the morning if I've gone to bed with my hair wet. Check out the shoulder pads, though!

Have you always wanted a super-hero name, but just couldn't think of a fitting one? Try the Super Villain Name Generator! Some of the names aren't super-scary, though. Mine is The Terrible Cat-Stroking Werner Van DooDoo. (Well, evil villains usually ARE stroking a cat, so this actually seems lazy and repetitive! Let me try again: The Loony Admiral Otto Sabreface. Better.)

Sometimes we don't want just what the doctor ordered. We want to order it ourselves! In that case, visit Custom Prescription Maker, but don't call me if you get arrested trying to get Vicodin or Oxy. The virtual doctor's handwriting isn't illegible, so nobody would mistake it for a real prescription anyway. (Clive Owen as Manservant was supposed to be on the list, but ended up in the date box instead. I guess I got a bit excited by the prospect!)

OOH! This is one of my favorites! One of the things I should have added to the "Things You Must Know About Me" blog entry is explained by this graph. If I call you, text you, send you an email, and you don't respond in approximately...5 seconds, I will think:

a. you have died
b. you wish I never existed
c. your phone is a piece of crap and you never received the message

It's never because:

a. you have a job and a life
b. you are sick after eating bad sushi at lunch
c. you forgot your phone at home

I blame this on the fact that I am a Leo that was not hugged enough as a child. (Kidding, mom! Sort of.)

If you don't know what the VIX is, that just means you don't read The Economist enough, and well, can't help you there. Maybe the playlist will make you feel better!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Heart Unfortified (A Mind Impatient).

This was an odd week. My car broke down and had to be towed, I couldn't seem to get everything together that I needed to (signed permission slips, lunch menus, the like), my brother found a strange man sitting under a tree in his front yard when he came home from work. When he asked the wayward gent WHAT THE F*&$K ARE YOU DOING?? the man (clutching an 18-back of beer) said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, "I was waiting for my friend to show up so we could drink these beers!" (Well, at least he had a plan.) However, that was not the strangest or saddest thing to happen in the last few days. My niece's former preschool teacher, a 29 year-old with a very strange and memorable nickname, was brutally murdered along with her daughter and another woman at their home. The suspect is, as is heartbreakingly usual in these cases, the estranged father of the girl. After the act, he set the house on fire.

I just wanted to take a moment to stand on my soapbox, and send prayers and love out into the universe for the families of these lovely, lovely people, and to remind  you all - it could be someone you know - mother, brother, sister, friend - a classmate of your child's - who is suffering some sort of abuse or trauma. Don't be afraid to help the people you love find the help they need. We are all in this together.

Now! Back to the regularly scheduled program (because, as much as we miss those who have left us, the living have to keep living, somehow...). Thanks to Julie, Gypsy In My Soul, who has given me some fabulous awards!! (Clap! Clap!!) 

As part of this, I am supposed to tell you seven things about myself. So, away we go! In no particular order.

1. I love mayonnaise. LOVE it. I eat it on fries. And eggs. On poutine (I hate you, Canada, for introducing me to this delciousness!!!). I have never really had it on poutine, but I want to. On enchiladas (that dish is called Enchiladas Montadas, because I guess they are mounted?) I put mayo and eggs in the same category. I actually made up a sandwich in college that was quite a hit (perhaps more so among the crowd that spends their time in a cloud of therapeutic smoke, if you  know what I mean.). The Maggie Sandwich (I wish it was as titillating as it sounds) consisted of:  a fried egg, american cheese,  and fried bologna. The (white!) bread was buttered on the outside, and the whole thing was toasted in a skillet, like a grilled cheese sandwich. I could use one of those now! And the answer to your next question is yes, I was chubbier in college. And as for your second question? DO NOT EVEN TRY TO GIVE ME MIRACLE WHIP!!! You Brits though have a lovely thing called salad cream, and that is really tasty also. I could dedicate this post to all the things I love to eat, acually: fruit chutneys with cheese, a stack of chocolate chip cookies piled in a mug with milk poured on top and eaten with a spoon, peanut butter....

2. I pick up accents fairly quickly. It's embarrassing, because the cumulative effect is that I sound like I am mocking people. By far the worst was when we were in Ireland, because that little lilt? At the end of a phrase? That sounds like a question? Yes. That one. I also can do a pretty good Australian accent (on purpose) but I have to to be reading something out loud - it doesn't just come out. No alcohol required.

3. I tried to sell my next-youngest brother on a street corner when I was about five, and he was almost 2. I guess I was jealous of the new kid, so put a sign around his neck that said "Boy for sale, $30" and dragged him to the end of our street. It's that Arab blood you know. We're business people at heart! My horrified mother only realized what was happening when he got thirsty and came in for a drink of water. We still joke about it now, although mostly it is me saying,"Too bad that sale didn't go through" when he rankles me somehow. Thank God no creeps were out in the neighborhood that day!

4. I am afraid of the dark. I can sleep in darkness if there is someone next to me. If there is someone, but down the hall, it doesn't help. I need a night light.

5. In real life, I am like the second coming of Gandhi, and it pains me deeply to even kill bugs (except roaches, which are evil. And scorpions, which freak me out.). In my entertainment selections (books and movies) I want violence. Car chases. I don't like shooting, more mano a mano. Boxing movies. Fast and the Furious. Gladiator!!!!!!!!!!

6. I collect honeys and salts. My spice cabinet is brimming!! At least they are food products that I will use, I hope, one day. I also love dairy. Check out my fridge!

Rice pudding. Yogurts from Lebanon, Greece, Iceland, Australia. Sour cream. Milk. Mexican crema. Creme fraiche (which is like a French-style sour cream.) There may be buttermilk and fresh cream hiding behind the lemonade; I wouldn't put it past me. That's also not including the butters (French, Irish, Land o Lakes) or the cheeses (cream cheese, cheddar, pecorino romano, feta, whatever Baby Bell is, Gouda, parmesan, provolone.) I think I need a snack right about now.

7. I don't know how to play chess, and it embarrasses me. I tried to learn, but didn't understand it. Too much strategy for a fly by the seat of her pants girl like me.

And now, a random playlist!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hurry Back to Me (My Wild Calling).

Not that this is really news to anyone, but raising kids these days is hard. And by hard, I really mean OHMYDEARGODPLEASEHELPMENOTKILLMYSELFOROTHERSTODAYTHANKYOUVERYMUCH. It really is an age of unprecedented stimulation, and it's everything I can do to keep them occupied in healthy and productive ways.

Their birthday was recently, and as a gift, they received...well, iPod Touches. Before you judge, in my defense, they were chosen as gifts in lieu of a birthday party, and actually turned out to be cheaper than a fete at Chuck E. Cheeze or some other bastion of horror. I also made sure to load up exciting apps like Math is Awesome and King Lear For Grade Schoolers. No matter. My daughters asked if I had that song "about the boyfriend that looks like a girlfriend? By The Killers?" (This, I blame on their uncle, one of my dear brothers. Again, shirking responsibility, here.) Sigh.

The girls also received Target gift cards from one of their aunties, and off we trudged to redeem them. The little munchkins had assured me that they wanted to buy useful things, like clothes and shoes, but upon entering the retail paradise, changed their minds entirely. Although I had warned them there was a time limit, they spent ages looking at almost every single item in the toy section as I tried to keep track of where they were.

As they were shopping, I came across the above-pictured doll. The Perfect Boyfriend! Incredible! Just what I've always wanted! I doubt I have seen anything quite as disturbing in recent memory. Ken's shirt is emblazoned with the phrase "The Ultimate Boyfriend" in a plethora of different languages, in case you didn't get the hint. What makes him so great, besides the preternaturally blondish hair and sculpted abs? Ken already is missing his manly bits, and The Perfect Boyfriend has taken this castration to new heights. "YOU MAKE ME TALK!" So, utter any phrase into his diminutive little noggin, and he will repeat it to you in his own voice. Sweet Talker. Imagine the possibilities, if you could make your partner parrot things back to you! No disagreements, only perfection. And unrelenting boredom.

I think this doll is absolutely wretched for lots of reasons. Firstly, girls that play with dolls should not be thinking about boyfriends, perfect or not, at that age. Secondly, it gives a terrible touchstone for what a healthy relationship should be, showing that it matters not if your beloved has the brains of a boiled cabbage, as long as he does whatever you say. Also, that it's OK to have a guy's cojones, as we say in these here parts, crushed into oblivion, making him meek and submissive and unable to voice his opinion without further damage to his already fragile psyche. It's demeaning to boys, demeaning to girls, demeaning to society as a whole. I know, I know. It's just a doll, right?

I'm not the mom that banned Barbies because I thought they portrayed an unrealistic view of a woman's body (although I did nix cheerleading because I wanted them to PLAY a sport, not cheer for one, and I hate the skimpy costumes. Yes, cheerleaders were awful to me in school. Why do you ask?) There is just something about THIS particular doll that rubbed me the wrong way - if you could even be rubbed by a eunuch.

(Dislaimer: The above discussion does not mean that I am above berating my husband for his poor dishwasher-loading skills or his inability to listen to more than half of every sentence I utter. But that's another post entirely.)

Thankfully, the girls avoided the Barbie section altogether, and settled on Legos and a Harry Potter DS game and remote control cars. Now I have to contemplate the subtext of THAT....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

O, I Am Fortune's Fool!

I wonder if I should just go ahead and apologize in advance that this is not a food-related post. The response was so enthusiastic, I definitely will do more!

In the spirit of trying to become more blog-worthy, I have decided to try and court adventure. You may say that what I should be doing is trying to REPEL it, but that is really not in my nature. Sigh.

A friend suggested a while back that I visit a tarot card reader, just to get some clarity and focus in my life (note: clarity and focus do not go well with adventurousness.) I thought it would be an interesting experiment. I have sometimes been curious about fortune-telling, but mostly dismiss it. Remember Miss Cleo? No? Good. I had the vision that palm readers and their ilk were nothing more than glorified carnies, swathed in silks and bathed in myrrh and something that smelled awfully like Brut Cologne. Not particularly a pleasant thought.

Today, however, I decided to take the leap. I don't know what it was: maybe the fact that a shopping excursion resulted in a receipt totaling $7.77 - but something made me feel if not lucky, not cursed. It would be fun, right? Nothing too specific in mind or heart - just an urge to see what the stars had laid out for me.

I was warned by my friend that the - what would she be, seer? - was very blunt, and if I was going to die, or be sick, or anybody else I loved was going to meet some foul end, she wouldn't hesitate to say. With this knowledge in my back pocket, I rang the bell at the appointed time.

The woman that answered the door was tiny. I am 5'7", and she barely made it to my shoulders. You do the math, because I am tired (and keep in mind that I am fairly evenly proportioned; I don't have coltish legs or a short torso.) Olivia is a caretaker of the elderly during the day, and reads tarot out of her home on evenings and weekends. Everybody's gotta have a side gig in this economy, I guess.

She led me to a room no bigger than a shoebox. I sat on one side of a small table that looked like the type you would prop your dinner on while watching TV and she on the other. A red cloth placemat lay in the center. She handed me the cards, and told me to shuffle, then split them into two stacks.

The cards were greasy and thick with wear. Olivia explained that her parents taught her the craft, but one had to have the gift to interpret correctly. I knew from my friend's stories of all the accurate predictions Olivia had accrued: marriages and deaths and pregnancies and jail time and deportations, so I was hopeful (and worried) that she would prove to be right.

She slapped the cards down with authority, and began. I had been careful to dress blandly, not wanting to give anything way, and also had decided to let her do most of the talking. I didn't want to goad her or give her any ideas. Right away she launched into my story: two daughters close in age, that I was prone to depression and emotional instability even though I seemed to have everything. I was born under, for lack of a better, more elegant term, a big-ass lucky star. She told me to watch out for my older daughter - that I needed to spend more time with her and teach her how to have more self-confidence, because her sister was dominating her (very true.) She went on in great specificity about my marriage, unusual problems I was having with specific friends, the work that I was doing (great success is on the horizon!). Some of the things hit very close to home and stung like a slap. It was uncanny. A whole hour for twenty bucks! It was like a mental massage. But more painful. At least there was no death or destruction on the horizon, but she said I had to be very careful, because I like to court danger. Me?

I left somewhat shaken. A lot of things she said had hit right on the mark. Others, not so much. But the things that did were very specific. It was eerie, but should it really have been?

I think that after a long while, people can get very good at what they do. It's the natural result of practice and passion. Maybe she's just good at reading people, not cards. Olivia seemed like a nice lady; I don't think she would deliberately mislead someone, but I think it is impossible to ignore cues in people's body language and responses, even if (like me) they tried not to respond too much. In the end, it felt a bit like going to a therapist or spending some time with a good friend talking about important things: heart-clearing. And for me, it felt good. Even if she couldn't give me the winning lottery numbers.