Monthly Archives: March 2012

Ticks

I need to fess up.  I have lived in Northern Wisconsin for 23 years, and I have never had a tick embedded into my skin. Never, which is freakishly rare for someone who lives where I live. Kriner and I can take a walk together and he will have 37 ticks crawling on him but somehow, I come off clean. I once read they are attracted to heat and my body temp runs low, so I assume they go after my hot-blooded man.

Ticks are gross, disgusting, and at times dangerous, but I’m not going to talk about Deer Ticks.  They’re the ones that carry Lyme disease, and yeah, it’s singular; this is something you learn when all of your friends, co-workers, acquaintances, students, former students and enemies get Lyme disease. They will correct you and you know what?  They get to, because they had Lyme disease.

“It’s not Lyme’s, it’s just Lyme.”

“I’m so sorry that you know that.”

That would be a downer to talk about and I want to keep these blog entries fun, so, I’m just going to talk about the ticks that are disgusting rather than dangerous. Those would be the Wood Ticks. (*Note, if you are squeamish about ticks, or bugs in general, please stop reading now.  It’s going to get really, really gross fairly quickly.  Also, I am sure my paramedic friends would point out you can catch bad stuff from Wood Ticks too…)

If you have never seen a Wood Tick (and I doubt there is anyone in an English-speaking country who has never seen one, since they are so common that I frequently see them pushing grocery carts at the local IGA and driving cars up and down main street) they are flat, tear-dropped shaped, brown insects with 8 legs and 2 big pincers coming out of their head. They are as thin as a thumbnail, that is, until they find a host.

The tick has the “awesome” ability to squirt a numbing chemical into your skin before it starts sucking you dry, so you really don’t feel it once it is in you. You may feel them crawling on your leg or arm, but if you don’t catch them early, they will find a nice, warm, quiet spot on your body (think gated community in Florida) before they proceed to dig in. They will stay there until they’re found or until they have satiated themselves and drop off, which can be a very long time.   (Have you checked the back of your neck while reading this?  I have.)

If you’re a dog owner in the northern part of Wisconsin, you are well-versed in ticks.  Dogs aren’t able to find and remove ticks as affectively as humans (you know, opposable thumbs and all) and most humans don’t find them on their dogs until they can feel them under fur, which means the tick has gotten bigger and more bloated.  You pray at this point your dog doesn’t bite them off and yes, I too just threw up in my mouth a little bit.  Most dog-owners have their own special rituals for dealing with the ticks they find on their beloved animals. We’ve all heard of the scotch tape trick, and if you haven’t, it’s time to leave the city.  Other tricks are the “toilet dump”, the “fingernail squish” (very difficult to execute but most impressive and final) and of course, the “burn.”  However, perhaps the most intriguing yet repulsive tick containment/elimination technique is the “tick jar.”  That’s right; sometimes there are so many ticks on a dog, that you need a jar when you check your animal.  And here’s the best part, sometimes people don’t get rid of the ticks right away; they keep them in the jar for fun.

This great little craft can be enjoyed by the entire family.  It’s easy, fun and educational!  Here’s how you do it.  You will need a jar or can, some cooking spray, and lots and lots of ticks.  When attempting to make your own tick jar, it’s important to spray the aerosol cooking spray on the inside of the jar, preferably one without ridges. You want to make it impossible for the ticks to climb out.  Since the top of the jar is open, you get to see the ticks, in all of their disgusting glory, in a not-so-natural habitat. You may think this is horrid and gross and only a select few humans would opt for this method, and you’d be right.

Among some of my friends, there seems to be a competition to see who can have the most lively tick jar. When I first moved here, Brian Grube had a tick jar he  never emptied and we all found it fascinating, albeit disgusting.  To this day I have never seen a tick jar that even comes close to his, but to be fair, he had 4 hairy dogs in one house.

I feel at this point, I should spend a little time describing the occupants of the jar, because based on diet, these ticks can range greatly in appearance.

On the bottom of the food chain are the newer, or “probationary” ticks.  They are small, lively and thin. When a dog’s owner finds them, these ticks are most likely only crawling on the dog, and not yet embedded.

Then you have the “less than a day” suckers; they still look like ticks, but they are thicker, maybe the depth of a quarter. They are “all that” in the tick world, because they have just recently fed. That’s really what it comes down to with ticks. If they’re hungry, they’re nothing, but if they’re fed, the world is their oyster, so to speak.

Now we get into the “John Gotti” tick. They have sucked blood for days, and have lived the good life at the expense of others.  They have lived under the radar, and in spite of petting, scratching and brushing your dog, they have remained unfound. They’re sneaky and smart.  If they got pulled over, I’m sure they would tell the officer that the blood just “fell off a truck.” These ticks look like little balls; they have so much blood in them you would think they would start to roll downhill, but they are still brown in color and still look like ticks, much like Violet Beauregarde when she got all plumped up on blueberries. They have trouble moving around in the tick jar.  They’re pretty damn gross.

(SPOILER ALERT – Now we move into the “no longer look like a tick but still a tick” arena. We are moving into the really, really disgusting aspect of ticks.  Feel free to drop out here.)

Unless you live where I live and have animals, you will not have experienced the “Grape tick” and you should be grateful for it.  A funny thing happens to ticks that feed for more than four days. They get big, much like a grape, and they no longer look like a tick. They turn into a sick, gray-purple color and their legs seem to disappear, under their bloated bellies.  They look like a raisin that has plumped itself back up by soaking in bleach.

Here’s what happens when you drop one of those vile, revolting plumped up, over-fed ticks into the tick jar. Remember the hungry newbie ticks?  They are so hungry and little, and the grape ticks are so big and slow, that the newbie ticks attach themselves to grey grape ticks’ bellies. So in the ultimate act of parasitic disgusting “ish”, we see ticks sucking on other ticks.  It’s like eating by proxy.

So, during this very special time of year, let this serve as a reminder to be sure to tuck your jeans into your socks, wear a hat, check yourself at night, get out the Frontline for your pets, and be careful when you scratch under your dog’s collar.  You never know what you’re going to find.

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Filed under Bayfield, Environment, Fall, Family, Humor, Parenting, Wisconsin

Disney (Part 1)

Kriner and I have very little in common.  He is vegan; I love meat.  He is an exercise fanatic; I sit on the couch and use the remote.  I love musical theater, he would rather go to the dentist.  I’m loud; he’s quiet.  He’s a planner, I’m spontaneous.  He gives 100%; I clock in around 60.  He’s concerned with the state of the environment; I’m concerned with the state of entertainment.  Kriner hates being embarrassed, and unfortunately for him, that is where I live.

There is one thing however, we have in common which will surprise many.  We both have an undying love for Disneyworld.  I’m completely and utterly serious.  We love Disney and all things Disney.  For all its consumerism, marketing, plastic and fakery, we “buy in” big.

Disney has the ability to melt my cynicism and snark and leave me in a puddle of tears when walking down Mainstreet USA, listening to the constant orchestrated soundtrack and watching the faces of children.  (They actually release doves when the park opens.)  For Kriner, it is a place of amazing rides, education and culture.  (Disney really does sneak in a lot of cultural and environmental education under the guise of “fun.”)  We really love it.

When we go to Disneyworld, I leave everything up to my husband.  Kriner is all about the planning.   Disney has four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and MGM Studios) and he has researched them to the hilt.  He knows the short cuts, the good food, and the trouble spots. He knows where to go and what to avoid.  He knows what parks open early; he knows what parks are open late.  He knows where the parades are going to be, and most importantly he knows how to manage the lines.  We have been there 3 times, and we have never, NEVER waited more than 13 minutes in a line for a ride, and even that is a rarity.  I am completely serious.   And these aren’t dumb insignificant rides like Goofy’s Barnstormer, and the lame tram in Tomorrowland; these are big, impressive rides like Space Mountain, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain.  He has a system and it works, but it comes at a cost.

In order to make it work, we need to strictly adhere to the system.  We take our vacations pretty seriously, and no one ever returns from a Woodworth/Kriner vacation feeling relaxed and well-rested.  We have things to do and Disney characters to see.  Kriner is the captain and Em and I his crew and we do what he says, no matter how taxing it may be.  It almost becomes a bit of a religion with its own dogma and practices.  He even has Commandments…

1. There shall be no sleeping in.  All wise and good men and their families shall be up before the sun so they can cleanse and feed their bodies in order to make pilgrimage to the chosen park of the blessed day.  All feeding during the breaking of dawn shall happen in the holy hotel room, as it saves consecrated time and blessed money.

2. A wise man and will be waiting in line before the park opens.  When the park opens in the sacred time of the early morning, there shall be no dilly dallying, and all rides in close proximity shall be shunned, for they are evil and can tempt a man into a hellish line.  The wise man will move to the back of the park and work his way back to the front, moving against the tide of the unwise who are sinful line-waiters.  It is then that his good and chaste wife will travel with haste to the other most desired and deserved rides and obtain the righteous and holy fast-pass.

3. The fast-pass is a thing of glory and shall never be mocked or taken in vain.  It must be heeded at all costs.  There shall be no stopping for ice cream or photos with park characters if it means missing a fast-pass.  It is the way and the law.

4. A man must not be afraid to run verily in the park in order to avoid the temptation of the hellish line.  If the good wife is hesitant to do this, she must repeat the mantra “It’s OK, no one knows us here.”

5. At the holy hour of 2:00 pm, a wise man and his family will go back to the holy hotel room for a time of replenishing.  This is the blessed time of swimming, napping and snacking.

A wise man and his family will then return back to the sacred Disney fully refreshed at 6:00 pm for dinner and again, he shall go into the park against the tide of the unwise, exhausted and often sunburned man who is leaving at this time.  The wise man is refreshed and jubilant going in.  The unwise man is spent and cranky going out.

6. After the 6:00 dinner, the family members will then have time to be “open to what they want to do” and no plan need be followed.  This is the most special time of reward for the man who had planned, as the wise man knows. This is a time of low attendance in the park and hellish lines can be avoided.  However, this special evening time may not coincide with special evening parades, for then the purpose is lost and he may again be tempted down the path of the hellish lines, as the unwise man seeks out the parades, the wise man avoids them.

7. Midday meal will be planned and shall not be eaten with sloth or vanity.  It is sustenance only and if possible, should be eaten while walking.  The only meal of the day that can be eaten with enjoyment and abundance is the evening meal.  Reservations for all evening meals must be made in advance at least 30 days prior to the pilgrimage.  This is done to avoid the hellish lines.

8. If a wise man’s mother-in-law is with him on his pilgrimage, a wheelchair must be procured for her, even if she is perfectly capable of walking.  Without it, she will be slow and weak.  The divine wheelchair will also help with avoiding the temptation of the hellish line, as on certain glorious rides, the mother-in-law will be able to move to the front of the hellish line and her family can also be permitted into the glorious gates of “handicapped access entrance.”

Also, if a child is under the age of 6, a stroller will be procured for the child.  The good and wise wife will push the child even if the child is perfectly capable to walk.  This also makes sure that all young and old people do not stray from “the way” and get diverted into the temptation of the t-shirt shop or the evil pin seller.

9. There shall be no pilgrimage to the consecrated Disneyworld Parks during Christmas, Easter, or Halloween.  Those are times of the most evil temptation and the hellish lines cannot be avoided even by the best of wise and good men.  March, May and June are blessed times for the hallowed passage and the wise and good man will be rewarded.

10. There shall be no staying on park property.  It is wasteful and mocks the holy Priceline and the blessed Orbitz.  A wise man and his family will get a hotel in the glorious city of Orlando and rent a car to travel to and fro.  (Also, a wise man will use his AAA status to get the glorious green parking pass to get sanctified “rock star” parking.)  This wise man might be tempted to get a midsize or larger car, but that is not the way.  The car shall be economy and the mother-in-law or child can be cramped in the divine back seat for that very short distance.  They shall be rewarded in the park afterwards for their suffering.

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Filed under Bayfield, Disney, Fabulous luxury, Family, Humor, Parenting, Roller Coasters, Travel

Purses

I carry a Coach purse and I love it. I’m ridiculously proud of it and I walk with it front and center, to the point where it looks as if I am hiding an unwanted pregnancy; I tend to show it off when I walk into upscale grocery stores, not that I ever really walk into upscale grocery stores, but if I did, I would proudly show off my Coach bag. I take it into the local IGA and the cashier doesn’t notice its glory, but I flaunt it just the same.  Eight years ago, I knew nothing about Coach handbags. That is, until my sister-in-law started working for Coach, then I started getting a bag every Christmas. Now I loves me some Coach.

Sure, I carried purses before my love affair started. Even now, I carry “normal” purses to “normal” places. They’re sad looking bags with no satin lining or tell-all leather signature tag. I rationalize this by thinking that I don’t want to get my good bags dirty. You don’t wear an evening gown to the post office, right?  Even Emily, my daughter, occasionally puts down the plush upscale “Webkinz” stuffed animals to play with the old, “carnie” stuffed turtle she got when the dart somehow managed to find the balloon. She feels bad for it if she ignores it for too long. “It gets jealous of all my other friends,” she whispers. I too feel bad for my discount pink faux-leather bag I got at Walgreens. I drag it out on occasion for pity’s sake.

There is an exception here, however. There is one bag I keep out of rotation. It is hidden WAY back in my closet. I never bring it out for fear Emily will see it. A few years ago, TV was inundated with commercials for a Buxton bag, no, not a bag – they called it an organizer. It was a thin, pleather thing with an over-the-shoulder strap so you could wear the bag on your hip.  There was a big, wide strap cutting across on an angle, like some military sash gone horribly, horribly wrong. The “amazing” part about this bag, which they stated over and over again in the commercial, was that it could actually get bigger as you needed, due to the hidden zippers.  At one point, it actually showed a woman (wearing a blindfold for some reason which escaped me) putting 6 bottles of water into that ugly, little bag.

Emily was 4 at the time and fairly impressionable, so that spring for Mother’s Day, I received the Buxton Organizer. I didn’t see it coming.  As I opened the present, it was all I could do not to exclaim to my husband, Kriner, “What the hell? Why did you let her do this?” but I kept it together and smiled and did my best to love it. Every time I left the house, Em would ask, “Why don’t you take your Buxton Organizer?” “Momma, you should really take your Buxton Organizer.”  I tried for a while telling her, “No, it’s too nice; I want to save it!” but she eventually saw through that. Then we went to Disney and she cornered me. “Momma, you have to take your Buxton Organizer to Disney. We may need water!”


The problem with purses for me is that with every passing year, the purse tends to get bigger. In my 20’s, I carried a little, cute clutch; now it seems, I have a bag five times the size of my head. I hate having a big purse, I do, but I can’t seem to stop myself. At this rate, I will be dragging around a plastic lawn bag when I hit my 60‘s.

Every year I try to “downsize” but it’s pointless; there’s always way too much stupid crap I think I need; that by shoving all my useless stuff into a smaller purse will somehow make it easier, but no. It just means I can’t close the zipper. In my home, I will ardently throw something out if I don’t use it within a calendar year; I’m GREAT at purging stuff in my house, but with the guts of my purse, I’m a hoarder. I have gum from 1976.

Normally, I have to take out 70% of the useless crap that is in my purse in order to find what I am looking for, which is always 1 of 3 things: my phone, my planner or my wallet. That’s really all I ever use in my purse, so why then do I need a bag the size of Rhode Island?

At this very moment, this is the content of my very large purse:

-1 wallet from Harrods full of singles (Note – I’ve never been to Harrod’s but my girlfriend Solveig has and she got me a wallet. I love it because sometimes people see it and I assume they assume I’ve been to Harrods. “Ha” on them.)

-2 packets of Trident whitening gum, preferably wintergreen, although it’s hard to find. I chew gum a lot, for many reasons. Mainly, because it occupies my mouth so I don’t drive myself crazy talking to myself in the car. “God, I’m so annoying!” I think to myself. “Yeah, I know, I wish I would just shut up!” “Come on me, I’m being too hard on me – I like some of the stories I tell.” “Who asked you?”  The other reason is that I am also paranoid my breath will be bad and my students will make fun of me while I’m not around, not that they don’t have many other things to use as fodder.  Back to the list…

-1 big pair of sunglasses. (Also, a gift from Solvieg.) As my purse gets bigger as I age, so do my sunglasses.  The big purse helps to hide the big hips, the big sunglasses helps to hide the big crow’s feet.

-A roll of duct tape

-A package of “Gushers” for emergencies

-Cell phone (yawn)

-Check book that is woefully out of date; I think it was balanced once in the 80‘s.

-3 bottles of hand sanitizer

-7 legos

-A day planner that is also woefully of out date

-1 bottle of “I’m Not a Waitress” IPA nail polish

-4 Sharpies

-1 small laminated Bill of Rights; you never know when you need to pull it out to make a point

-A roll of “My Little Pony” stickers (also for obvious reasons)

-Tic Tacs that have spilled out of the box, so they are rolling around with the loose change, and taking on a gray hue rather than their zippy green color

-Expired children’s medicine

-A smushed Cliff bar (What if I got stuck in a snow storm?)

-A Star Wars trading card of Admiral Ackbar (also for obvious reasons)

-A CD of the “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” soundtrack (Broadway version – FABULOUS)

-A bright pink scarf that was a gift (also from Solvieg, did I mention she’s an awesome friend?)

-A digital voice recorder (because I get inspired writing ideas while I’m driving)

-A pair of earrings

-23 travel sized lotion bottles from various hotels

-1 Vince Lombardi doll (for luck)

-Allergy medicine

-A smaller purse, in case I need to “downsize” at a moment’s notice

-Way too many keys

-1,524 lipsticks and/or glosses

-1 pack of “Airborne” that is over a year old and never opened. (Just in case I am on a plane next to someone who sneezes…)

-A flip recorder full of videos of my daughter’s made up commercials and “man on the street” interviews

-A princess furry pen that lights up (makes a statement in the bank)

-3 Littlest Pet Shop Toys (a cat, a fish and a beaver)

-1 quarter, 1 dime and 1,524 pennies

That’s it.  That is the contents of my very large purse.  I was digging for something (probably my phone, my planner or my keys) and swearing like a sailor, when Kriner stated, “It must be sad to be a little purse woman trapped in a big purse woman body” I told him it really was.

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Filed under Fabulous luxury, fashion, Feminism, Humor

Wigs

When I was a little girl the in late 60‘s early 70‘s, it seemed that everyone’s mother had a wig or two in her closet. Not that they would stay in the closet, because these women would actually wear their wigs in public. Of course, these women would also wear false eyelashes to dinner, but today that doesn’t seem as far-fetched, thanks to the Kardashians. My mother and her friends wore fake hair on their heads as if it were normal, because it was.

Not only did these women have wigs, they had these magical items called falls. They would clip them into a bland ponytail, and their heads would instantly transform from doughty housewife to Grace Kelly in mere seconds. My mother had two wigs and one fall and they were A-MA-ZING. She wore them often. She would wear a wig to the grocery store, she would wear a wig to church, and most certainly she would wear a wig to the supper club.

I remember one particular day, she was cleaning out the basement and frankly, she looked like hell. (My mother was a stunner, but 4 hours in our basement could do that to any woman.) Jackie O. would have looked like Bella Abzug, or perhaps more timely, Demi Moore would have looked like Lisa Lamponelli. It was then that she unfortunately realized it was her turn to be a “helper mom” for my Brownie troupe and she needed to be at Wilson Elementary in exactly eight minutes. She ran upstairs, threw on a wig, accompanied with a snappy little headscarf, red lipstick, an A-line skirt with a matching Bill Blass blouse, and she was ready to go. Her transformation was amazing. In five minutes she had gone from “the help” to Elizabeth Taylor. She also somehow managed to bake Toll House cookies in those few spare minutes.  She was, and is, remarkable. (Of course it didn’t hurt that she sped off in a Fiat convertible; it helps with the remarkable part, but that’s another story.)

I remember spending hours upon hours playing with my mother’s wigs. As a kid, I had very short, almost white-blonde hair. (Fun fact – the only time I didn’t have blonde hair was during the summer. We had a pool which, for all practical purposes, became my 2nd home; due to the chlorine that I never bothered to rinse out, my hair took on a greenish hue.)

As stated, my hair was short. Very short. My mother called it “pixie” and showed me pictures of Twiggy. I called it “boy” and thought I looked like Bobby Brady, only with yellowish green hair. My sister Sarah had my mother’s hair. It was long and dark and pretty. My oldest sister Mary also had long hair, but hers was a golden color. I was not allowed long hair. It might have had something to do with the honey incident, but that wasn’t necessarily my fault.

So, my mom had beautiful, long, chestnut hair. Her wigs matched that. I would often try on these wigs, sometimes backwards (to add bangs) and pretended I was Cleopatra. I would drape her necklaces over my head and prance around her bedroom, barking orders to Yankee, our bulldog. “Get me my Kool-aide, fool!” Inevitably, I would get caught by my older siblings who would humiliate and chastise me; I would gingerly put the wig back in its rightful place.

I’m not sure if you have figured this out yet, but I was a bit of an odd kid. (In that picture, I am holding my favorite Frosty the Snowman candle, that I would often sleep with.)  That’s OK, as I turned into a perfectly normal odd adult. I was the kid who saved up her allowance to purchase a rhinestone tiara from the costume jewelry store. I was the kid who wrote a fan letter to Barry Manilow’s dogs. My imaginary friend was Merv Griffin. I had green hair and didn’t care. Aside from all these quirky traits, I was also a tad obsessed with Dolly Parton. This was around the time of “Here You Come Again” and “9 to 5” and I thought she was the bee’s knees. One fateful New Year’s Eve while my parents were out, I decided I was going to make a Dolly Parton wig.

Logically, I cut off the foot of one of my mother’s pantyhose and pulled it over my head. (I had seen enough Carol Burnett sketches to know what goes under a wig.) My problem was those curls. What could I possibly use to create those amazing curls that Dolly sported? In a flash I was inspired. I snuck downstairs, avoiding the babysitter at all costs. (This is something very important when one is 8 years old and making her own wig.) I grabbed the Elmer’s glue and headed to the bathroom where I also grabbed a bag of cotton balls. Yup. That’s exactly what I did; I glued cotton balls to my head. All for beauty, right?

Looking back on it, it is fair to say that I looked a bit like a preschool art project that resembled a cloud suffering from mange. It was a goopy mess and after a few minutes, my arms were getting tired; it was slow going. At that pace, it was going to take all night. “OK, I’ll just slip this off and finish it tomorrow” I thought. Or maybe not. Turns out, this glue stuff really worked! (Did I mention my mother wouldn’t let me grow my hair out?)

So, after a few stalwart attempts of trying to get this thing off my head, I knew I had to eat the shit sandwich that came with finding the babysitter. Eat it, I did.

After about 15 minutes of belly laughs, she composed herself. Thank God she had the insight to shove my head under water.

“But wait! You’re gonna ruin my wig!”

“You want your mom to see you like this?”

“OK. But make sure the water isn’t too cold.”

I am a 45-year-old woman, and I am loath to tell you how many wigs I own. Sure, I can rationalize ‘till the drunks come home. “I’m in a play; I need it for this play I’m in” or “I’m writing a new sketch, and I play a woman in that sketch who needs to have amazing hair.” I have way too many wigs and way too many excuses to get more wigs. Some of my friends collect expensive shoes, or Hermes scarves, but I have wigs They quietly lurk in my closet. Wigs that few know about and fewer see. That’s how sad it is. I am a closet wig wearer.

There are two types of wigs out there. Shitty wigs, and nice wigs. Shitty wigs are what you or your children wear for Halloween. These are wigs that look pretty good for exactly 4 minutes, and then they immediately turn into a snarly, polyester nest.

 (This is not a nice wig.)

They’re usually at or under $20.00 and you get what you pay for. You never really look different, you just look like you, only in a shitty wig.

Nice wigs are very, very different. They look like real hair, no, amazing hair. They’re perfect. They’re waiting for you to try them on. They long for the days when ladies wore them to go grocery shopping, because maybe they hadn’t washed their hair that day and by washing hair, I mean go to the beauty parlor. These wigs are wonderful. They have a sense of style and etiquette. They don’t smoke and walk at the same time, and if they leave the bar to sit down for dinner, they let the waiter carry their drink. That’s how great these wigs are. Old school class. These wigs are your friends.

There is Jacqueline the brunette, Christy the blonde and Raquel the redhead. They love being on your head and they love making you feel pretty. These wigs are not under $20.00. These wigs start at $200.00. My friend Heather and I vowed a year ago to start wearing them (she has a wig fetish as well) and we swore up and down on our vodka that we would “totally wear our wigs, no matter what!” but I still have yet to see her sporting one in the dairy aisle.

 (This also is not a great wig.)

I currently own many shitty wigs, and two nice wigs. I had three, but I loaned one out, and it never came back. (Yes, these wigs are that powerful. They can ruin friendships.) I own a brunette curly wig, reminiscent of Adrian Barbeau in her Maude days. The other is a longer, brown wig with highlights. It is shoulder length with bangs. (I wrote a sketch where I played Michelle Bachman; I had to have it.) Do I ever wear these wigs out? No. Do I wish I did? Yes. Do I write sketches and plays just so I can buy more? Yes. Do I put them on from time to time around the house? Yes. Am I wearing one now?

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Filed under Fabulous luxury, Family, fashion, Hair, Humor, retro

The “Advantages” of Adoption

My husband and I can’t conceive. The how and who doesn’t matter. What matters is we can’t have children biologically. I cried really hard about this for about a week. Then I regrouped, blew my nose, and focused my energy on adoption.

Adoption had always been on the table for us; we even talked about it when we were dating, so the fact we were faced with it as a reality was not that big of a deal. After all, I love my husband and I consider him family. I’m not related to him biologically (ish) so why does my kid need to be? Also, the world is woefully overpopulated. (Seriously, I am a believer that every problem on the planet can be traced to over-population.)

As we started the process, I realized the paperwork alone was much like a part-time job, but instead of a paycheck, I got a kid, so it didn’t bug me that much. Turns out, there are some fabulous advantages to adopting.

1. – I didn’t gain any weight. In fact, I lost some. That’s right, I lost weight and looked fabulous when “delivering” in China. Also, I didn’t throw up, no hemorrhoids, and I slept like a baby at night.

2. – No stretch marks. Well, not from the baby anyway. (I have a few on my thighs from the “freshmen 50” but they’re easily hid.)

3. – I got to drink booze at my baby shower. It was a lovely affair.  It was (of course) Chinese themed, but we also enjoyed margaritas. Go figure. It was a pot luck, which means if you’re lucky enough to know my girlfriends, there were tables and tables of amazing food. We partied and ate and drank and after I opened the awesome array of loot, a few of us ended up trolling down to Morty’s bar for a few more.

4. – We adopted Em when she was 8 months old, so we avoided the “What the hell is that and why does it look like an alien?” moment after birth, the “She just lies there and poops and cries and eats.” phase and the “I’m so tired, I can’t put my shoes on.” mornings. When we got Em, she usually only woke up once around midnight and had a spectacularly gentle personality.

5. – The only postpartum depression I had, was being in quarantine for 10 days after we got home. We were in China in the midst of the SARS outbreak, and since she had a slight fever when we returned, we were mandated to stay home and not show her off. Kriner, the hermit, was in absolute heaven, although he did sneak out early in the mornings for a few workouts on his bike. He figured if he pedaled fast enough, he’d be in the clear. I, however, was in hell, as I am a social butterfly. Not walking into a restaurant for 10 days was sheer torture.

6.- No painful, awful, nightmarish stories about labor. However, that’s not to say my labor was easy…

My labor was the 20 hour flight (in coach) to China. It was painful, but not in the way you would think. We joyfully entered the plane (which of course, was after 2 years of paperwork, which included documents being lost, papers delays through 9/11, and as stated, the then ongoing SARS epidemic.)

We were elated, excited and thrilled. We were literally on the last plane out. Due to SARS, all non-essential travel had been canceled for weeks, and on that day, that very morning, they canceled all business travel as well. That was it, zero hour. We had to get on that plane, and we had made it; in the midst of fears, problems, crisis and world events, we were on the plane. As we bounded down the aisle, we were triumphant. Now all we needed to do was to sit and smile and dream about getting our hands on that baby girl. We found our row, put the luggage away, and plunged into bliss. Or so we thought.

Turned out Kriner’s seat was broken, permanently set to the recline position. There was clearly no way he could sit like that for the full 20 hours. Little did we know that asking to be moved would be the biggest mistake of the trip. When we rang for the stewardess, she didn’t seem to be too concerned with the seat being back.

“Oh, you’ll be fine.”

When I asked her, “Then why do we have to have them upright for takeoff and landing?” she replied “For safety.” Ah, wit.

I piped up with “There is no way he can sit like that for 20 hours. He should be able to move his seat. You’re going to have to find us another spot on the plane.” She rolled her eyes, muttered something about being “so full” and sighed. She said she’d be back.

When she returned, she told us she found us a new seat, and we were to be moved from the back of the plane to the front of the plane, behind the bulkhead. Bulkhead. I should have known better.

As we approached our new seat, we got a glimpse of our “situation.” We were being moved next to an extremely large woman, some might say morbidly obese, who was enjoying the fact that she had a row of three to herself. In hindsight, I see this now as a vindictive move on the stewardess’ part. She knew exactly what she was doing. This woman’s sides spilled over into the middle seat and she looked relaxed, confident and happy. That is, until the stewardess brought us up to her row.

“I’m sorry. They need to sit here; they need to be moved.”

The woman glared at us. “What?”

“They need to sit here. He thinks his seat is broken,”

“It IS broken” I tried to appeal to the woman. “The seat is stuck on recline…it won’t get upright.”

“So?”

“So, he can’t sit there. What about take-off and landing?”

That’s about as well as it went. We sat down and she was silent. She didn’t say one word to us the whole trip; the whole 20 hours she didn’t say one word to us, although her eyes spoke volumes. “You bitch, I was planning on sleeping in that seat, and you have completely ruined the start of my fabulous Asian vacation.” That’s what her eyes said. I could hear them loud and clear.

I volunteered to sit in the middle, as Kriner is taller and broader than I am. He’s got about 40 pounds on me. This woman had about 340 on me. Needless to say, she took up most of my seat, and I found myself leaning into my husband. (Let me state at this point that I am completely and unfairly judging this woman’s size, but frankly, if she had been decent, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to find fault in her. But she wasn’t decent. She was mean, and mean people open themselves up for criticism, and for snarky gals like myself, we tend to go for appearances. Shallow? Yes. Affective? You bet.)

For 20 hours, I leaned into my husband for safety, but to no avail, her arm and stomach were constantly touching my arm and side, and I could feel her hatred and wrath for me through her skin. She hated me, and I could feel it. I had ruined her trip. She had won the lottery with an empty row, and I had come and stolen her ticket. Let’s just say a “kink” in my neck is the understatement of the millennium. I couldn’t look left for a fortnight.

That might have been bad enough, but there was an incredibly large, dirty, smelly, very drunk man sitting directly behind Kriner. His hairy belly bloated out under his “I Heart New York” t-shirt, which was perhaps 6 sizes too small. I wondered if he had actually meant to get on this plane, and more importantly, HOW he managed to get on this plane. I also wondered when the last time he had washed his hands. I imagined he thought he was on his way to Reno or Vegas. Maybe he was a homeless man who somehow had stumbled across an old boarding pass in the alley and thought it was a sign.

Kriner is a bit of a germaphobe, so the fact that this man (who I shall now refer to as “Ham” because that’s what he smelled like, or more specifically, that was one of the things he smelled like. I could have easily called him “Barn.”) placed his grimy, dirty hands on the back of Kriner’s chair whenever he stood up or sat down, which was often. Ham’s big, dirty paws would grab the top of Kriner’s chair, which of course meant his filthy, germ-ridden, disgusting hands would be on either side of my poor husband’s head. Surrounding Kriner’s horrified and disgusted face would be these big, meaty, digits and on close inspection, there was not only black filth under his fingernails, but a bit of green as well. Imagination at that point ran wild. Kriner would say something like “not cool, man.” but Ham went on with a grunt as if he hadn’t heard a word. Fun fact, Ham was also having some problems keeping his pants up properly.

Here’s where this story gets “good.” Ham got up to use the bathroom a lot, at least twice an hour. Also, the bathroom was located in front of the bulkhead, which, as earlier stated, we were sitting behind. I quickly surmised that Ham was suffering from some sort of digestive, gastrointestinal malfunction as the sounds and smells emanating from the bathroom were indicative of a horror movie. At first it was hard not to laugh, however, after hour 3, it was hard not to cry. And of course, we waited in vain to hear the water of the sink faucet run. “Please, please for the love of God, wash your hands” but to no avail. And of course, with every return, he would place his hands approximately 3 inches away from my husband’s face to labor to get his drunken lard-ass back into his seat. “Not cool, man.”

I started to wonder where his handlers were, and also, if we would have to mortgage the house to upgrade to business class for the return trip.

It would be good to say at this point that contractually stewardesses are not responsible for the upkeep or maintenance of the airplane lavatories. It’s a union thing. Bathrooms are cleaned when the plane is on the ground. As the hours went on, Ham was making more and more of a mess in there; please forgive me if I don’t go into details. We would walk around, trying to get away from the smell, the hatred, the grunting, the leaning, trying desperately to find a friendly face somewhere on that plane. We even went back to the broken seat, only to see it had been filled by a lovely, young couple, both of whom were sleeping soundly.

After about hour 15 I couldn’t take it anymore. That’s me. When things around me hit critical mass, I fly into action. I can’t help myself. I headed back to the rear of the plane, pulled down my carry-on and started to dig through it with a purpose. I had packed a fairly extensive first-aid kit, as the U.S. consulate had instructed me. I found my latex gloves. I also had packed at least 4 large tube containers of Lysol disinfectant wipes with bleach, also instructed by the consulate (i.e. SARS with special notice to wipe down phones and TV remotes in hotel rooms.) I marched back up to that bathroom with a vengeance and armed with my meager cleaning supplies, making sure to “accidentally” bump into Ham’s seat on the way there. Kriner gave me a mixed look of respect and horror, knowing I had reached my limit, and realizing what I was about to do.

I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say, I used the whole container of disinfectant wipes, (all 100 of them) and through my work, I reminded myself that all around the world, men and women are paid to do this kind of work every day. It is gross, thankless and horrid and some people do it 8 hours a day. Also, in a few short hours, I would be wiping someone’s ass for a solid year, so cleaning up urine off the floor and wiping “something” off the toilet might be baptism by fire. After what seemed like an hour, but was only 15 minutes, the tiny bathroom was clean. It smelled like a hotel pool. It shined like a new penny. I was a good person! I had done a wonderful, selfless act for my fellow travelers. I was AWESOME! Just then, someone had tried the door handle. I was going to open that door and see the wonderful surprise on someone’s face. Someone, who was fearful they might meet “camp outhouse” but instead was meeting “hospital clean.” I threw away my gloves, fixed my hair, washed the bleach off my hands and opened the door with a smile.

Standing before me was Ham.  Not cool, man.

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Hello and how do you do.

I’ve been a teacher, writer and performer for a long time, and it finally dawned on me to start a blog.  My friends seemed to think it was a good idea.  It sounded even better after a few vodkas, so here I am.  (Yes, that’s right.  I am a teacher who enjoys vodka.)  I’m really hoping none of my current students find out about this blog.

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