Monday, February 8, 2010

It Was A Vacation. Because I Said So.

So I just got home from my Big Vacation. To Waco, Texas - made famous by David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. Also home to Baylor University and the Baylor/Waco Piano Competition. Hence my Big Vacation.

Am I humongous classical piano music fan? Not really. But my trip to Waco was thrilling because it involved a road trip virtually By Myself. (!!)

Sure, I technically had the 17-year-old with me. But she was in her bubble. Before a performance or competition the kid crawls in her bubble and doesn't peep a peep and I'm not really sure if that is psychologically good or psychologically bad but it is thrillingly quiet. So that just left me. The other four kids? At HOME, Baby. With The Man. And whenever I called home? It sounded noisy and chaotic and like people were frantically searching for socks. He was screaming into the phone. It was very satisfying.

On my end, all I had to do was occasionally remind Ellie to get back in her bubble - 'cause Mommy was on Vacation.

"Mom, I'm hot...."

"Mommy's on vacation..."

"Oh yeah, right. Sorry, I'll just adjust this myself."

Actually, the conversations didn't go exactly like that. Because she is a smirker and smirkers tend to like to make sharp little comments they think are funny. Like, "So are you enjoying your big vacation, Mom? Is this more fun than your weekly trip to Costco?" *My weekly solo trip to Costco while Camille is in dance is pathetically known as my Big Night Out.

Anyway, so the trip up was nice and we listened to music and since it was my vacation Ellie skipped all the classical stuff on her ipod. When she was feeling extremely charitable she even kicked it old school for me with Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.....or even older school with some Tom Petty. The rest of the time it was her stuff like Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, and Coldplay. All of which I tolerate and some of which I enjoy.

The drive should have taken about 2 1/2 or 3 hours, but we had to go through Austin.
In Austin people like to drive around with bumper stickers that say, "Keep Austin Weird!" Why is Austin weird? Because it is a decent sized town with massive urban sprawl and somebody decided that their transportation system for the entire catastrophe should basically consist of ONE ROAD. Which is weird and also a pain in the ass at rush hour. So we didn't arrive in Waco until close to 9:00 pm. We were starving.

Since I was on vacation I wanted to go somewhere nice that I couldn't normally afford while travelling with an entire herd of children. But apparently, when you take a town and build it out in the middle of nowhere and surround it by nothing and call it Waco - and then you take away the only form of entertainment (known as Branch Davidians) - people get all excited about dining out on a Friday evening. And they wait outside in cold parking lots when the restaurants are packed beyond what fire codes allow - even for Mexican food. That is crazy. I didn't want to waste my Big Vacation waiting for a table when I had a hotel room with a big, fluffy bed and a remote control waiting for me. So we ended up at an IHOP. Sigh.

Because I am a southern girl, I wanted to order some grits with my French toast. And I did. And the college boy who took my order said, "Really? 'Cause they're nasty." And this made Ellie smirk and say, "Well, do you want them, Mom?" Because it is somewhat awkward to order something after someone has identified it as nasty. So I said, "no, thank you." Now my husband? Would have ordered the grits, anyway. Once we were in a Taco Cabana and he ordered the chicken flameante and the guy said, "Hold on, let me see if it's still good." Then he opened up a warming drawer, removed a chicken, smelled it....and said it was okay. And my husband?? ATE IT.

Anyway, after our less than awesome meal, we headed back to our hotel. Where a woman with 3 ADHD little blond boys was trying to check in to her room. I'm not dissing ADHD. God knows we have our own set of issues within our brood - but I was on VACATION. When I am not travelling with children, I have little tolerance for people who are. So after she finally got the 3 boys and their multitude of luggage in the elevator I asked the check-in clerk just how close my room was to those delightful children. Ellie said, "Oh my God, Mom. That's so rude." What? I didn't think it was rude. Do you blame me? Do you honestly think that those little boys were not going to be screeching and thumping and plunking around all night? And even though the mama was apparently heavily medicated, do you really think she could refrain from bellowing at some point?

The clerk assured me we were not near the lovely boys and then stuck us on the floor with a basketball team and some sort of corporate thing going on. Also? We had an adjoining room with a man who spoke very loudly when he was on the phone and he was on the phone a lot trying to direct the apparently lost half of his party to the hotel. I don't know if they ever found the place. As of 1:00 am he was still shouting, "Take a left!!! Then another left!!! Then go beneath the overpass and take a left!!!" I did sleep a little because Ellie said I snored. So she didn't sleep at all. I felt badly for her but it wasn't like she was on vacation or anything like that.

Last year Ellie placed 2nd in the Concerto Division of the Baylor/Waco Piano Competition. That earned her a scholarship to their summer music camp - and she really enjoyed the camp. So she was hoping to place 2nd in the Solo Division this year. But when we got there and she looked at the rosters of competitors she said, "This one is going to get first or second, this one is going to get first or second, and I'm going to get honorable mention." And that is exactly how it played out. She was happy. She felt she placed exactly where she should have. She got great comments on her critique sheets - she is just disappointed about the scholarship.

Her friend came in 2nd, and I went to hear him perform because he is just amazing. It is very quiet in the auditoriums during these competitions - no clapping or anything when a kid is done (which I personally find awkward but I am generally an enthusiastic sort). Anyway, he gets to a really really really quiet and slow part of his performance after having banged away for awhile and I thought to myself, thank God I'm not needing to cough and then guess what? I was overcome by a violent urge to cough. I tried to control it. My eyes watered, I swallowed, I held my breath, I did everything. But it was still coming on strong. And he was still playing quietly. I needed to leave before I unleashed the fury - so I stood up. And the dang chair squeaked. Loudly. And slowly. And Ellie's head spun around and she shot laser beams at me with her eyeballs and smoke came out of both her nose and her ears and I ran out the door which I closed very quietly but the door monitor did the same thing with the laser beams and the smoking nostrils and I ran past him into the foyer where I coughed and coughed and coughed and downed 3 cups of orange juice from the refreshment area. Not because I was sick or anything but because I apparently now have a PHOBIA and cough uncontrollably during quieter moments in piano solos. (I've done it before at a major INTERNATIONAL competition and it is a long story that involves crinkly cough drop wrappers and the ear-splitting noise they can make - more smoking nostrils and laser eyes.......)

Anyway - I was hoping this kid hadn't heard the screaming chair squeak but when he came out he grinned and assured me that he most definitely had. God I Am Glad He Placed.

Drive home was relatively uneventful. We sat in Austin traffic with the sun in our eyes for most of it. When we hit San Antonio I dropped Ellie off at a friend's house where she was immediately surrounded by a gaggle of kids congratulating her. Then I returned home to the wreck otherwise known as My House - where my husband was busy ringing the dinner bell. He loves to cook and isn't so keen on the cleaning. But it was hard to be mad since he had freshly steamed brussel sprouts, homemade cheesy mashed potatoes, and grilled grass-fed T-bones from our very own herd set out on the table. The big boys had been at the rodeo all day with their great-aunt, Camille had been at a birthday I had lots of stories to listen to and you know what? It was good to be home after my Big Vacation.

Yesterday was another big day as Joel tested for his Tae Kwon Do Red Belt which is a pretty big deal. He had to run a mile, spar while blind-folded, break boards, and endure 45 minutes of calisthenics without a break - plus he did his forms, etc. Big Accomplishment!! He's hoping to have his black belt sometime next year.

Let's see....we didn't care about the Superbowl - although we were happy the Saints won. But we didn't care enough to watch and we're not huge Who fans, either, so my husband and I went on a date. We saw It's Complicated and it was a delightful movie. I love Meryl Streep. Alec Baldwin was great - from what I can tell he pretty much seems to play himself in most movies - but that is pretty entertaining. I do wish, however, that he hadn't removed his shirt in the movie. I mean I REALLY wish this. I was afraid I wouldn't ever get the image out of my mind but then we went to Whole Foods and I saw Rolling Stone Magazine at the check-out and that helped, immensely. Thanks to John Mayer and his awesome tattoos......a naked Alec Baldwin is just a furry memory, now. Ugh. Did I just say furry? Freaudian slip, Baldwin. I meant to say fuzzy. Ooops. I did it AGAIN. Meant so say blurry. I need some more John Mayer therapy. This Alec Baldwin thing was more traumatizing for me than I thought.

Signing off as a refreshed Sardine Mama


  1. Okay I just laughed my pants off (reference to the one commercial I saw passing through the games last night).
    Much too scary!
    El Paso was nothing more than a mining town to me, with little to be seen or enjoyed (piano concerts not with standing).
    And of course the t-bones interested me (I am not vegetarian yet, but the quality of the meats I get in the frozen Northeast might make me sooner than I think).
    I forgot about the blindfold thing in Tae Kwon Do, I guess I could do that pretty well now.
    Thanks for cheering me up with this post!

  2. You're welcome! And thanks for cheering me up with a comment ;).

  3. haha, I agree about Alec Baldwin. LOVED the movie, though. Laughed harder than I can remember laughing in a very long time. It could have been such a cheezy movie but was really well done. Great acting.

    And Austin? I have one thing to say "Toll Road 130". Hannah and I took it up and back to Taylor and we were pretty much the only ones on it. It COMPLETELY bypasses Austin. You get on it just north of Kyle (I think) and it continues on till Round Rock or Georgetown. I have no idea what it cost, but whatever it was, it was worth it (I got a Texas Tag, because that is all the toll roads in Dallas accept and I end up driving on them every time I am up there to see Galen. I should go to the website and see what they charged me)

  4. OK, just checked--Texas Tag charged me a total of $9, so $4.50 each way to get as far as Hutto. Not sure what the whole trip would be, but given how many traffic jams I have endured in Austin, I think almost any amount would be worth it....

  5. I laughed and laughed and laughed through this post-- thanks for all the laugh therapy. And thumbs up for the Toll Road 130 or whatever it's number is-- I went to school in Austin and anything is better than sitting for hours in traffic there. I adore Austin and it's weirdness, but would never live there precisely because of the insane traffic.

  6. Laser beams and smoking nostrils! This is a great post.

  7. This post...I laughed til I cried!
    The phone call home where everyone was running around in chaos, searching for socks...hubby screaming into the phone...well that just sounded a whole lot like my house :)

    Costco is my Big Night Out too.

    Thanks for the laugh!

  8. so funny!! Your descriptions are always to great.

    Congrats to Joel! That sounds like a tough test. Our school was NEVER into running. (in fact, my instructor is kind of anti-running).

    Have you heard John Mayers new song?? I really like it, the video is kind of nice too in a very artsy way.