Monday, May 31, 2010

Hangin' Out in Texarkana

It was exactly a week ago today that I embarked on yet another Odyssey odyssey.....jumped in the van and hauled a trailer and 7 teenagers to Michigan State University so they could compete in the Odyssey of the Mind World Tournament. And today? I am sitting in a hotel in Texarkana (Texas side) where I shall sleep like a dead person until approximately 5:00 am and then get up and kick the teenagers repeatedly until they sleepwalk to the van so we can drive HOME! Woot! The other carload of us kept on driving today - they will be home in the middle of the night. I think they tired of our endless pee stops and souvenir spoon-buying stops and our stopping to appreciate the awesome variety of vending machine retail goods on display in truck stop bathrooms. We can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to hang around with us for like more day? Wimps.

So I would love to tell you about the tournament and how the kids did but that would entail pictures and way more energy than I have at the moment. Let me just say that they did GREAT even though they are not technically world champions and even though their vehicle did technically break down during the competition. I CAN finally tell you what their human-powered vehicle was like, though. I wasn't allowed to talk about it before the competition but I am now totally Free to Discuss the Vehicle. Which was powered by a rocking awesome homemade sit-n-spin, by the way. I know! Way cool! A sit-n-spin. Joel was the driver because he was the only one who was strong enough to spin who wasn't prone to motion sickness. Anyway - tons of fun - tons of camaraderie - tons of lovely nice wonderful people from all over the freaking world (our buddy team was from Singapore), and with the exception of the women in the pink capes who refused to move when we pointed out that they were in our seats at the awards ceremony, it was just a very group-love type of a weeklong event.

It was hot in Michigan. Hot like Texas hot only IN TEXAS WE HAVE AIR CONDITIONING. Geeze. I walked around Michigan very tired, very hot and sweaty and red in the face with curly hair because Ellie kept stealing the flat iron even though she doesn't use it to actually straighten her already pretty much straight hair, but rather, she just likes to get the wrinkles out. Also? My feet swelled. I mean they really swelled. This was unusual. This was uncomfortable. This was concerning. But the silver lining is that my big gordita feet attracted attention and then people would invariably say, "Wow! What a pretty tattoo! Is it real?" And I would say, "Why, yes it is! Thank you!" while wagging my five little vienna sausage-like appendages in front of their admiring eyes. I am still swollen. I think it is a combination of my being fat and old. I think if I were merely fat, or merely old, I would be okay. It is the combination of the two that is doing me in. Something about riding in a car for a zillion and a half hours and then walking in the heat for more zillions of hours and then riding in a car for another zillion and a half hours.....I gotta lose weight and get younger. No problem.

No time for all that, though. A Total World Tournament Story will follow when I get home. A picture of the sit-n-spin human-powered vehicle with the crane and front-end loader will be posted later. For now? I have to unload about LOST. What was up with that???? God. I stayed up late the night before I had to freaking drive to Michigan just to watch it and FOR WHAT?

You know, the entire time I was a LOST fan I had a little sneaking idea in the back of my mind that it was all going to end up being like a Haruki Murakami novel. Haruki Murakami is my favorite Japanese novelist. I read his books over and over again. They are awesome. They are page-turners. They have beautiful, quirky characters who stay with me for years. And they make no freaking sense whatsoever. Every time I read one I'm like, "this will start to be explained in the next chapter." Then I say it after the next chapter. And then eventually I notice that there are like totally way more pages on the left side of the book than the right, kind of like sands in an hour glass; and I suspect that maybe, just maybe, Haruki's gonna do it to me again and I'm not going to get any kind of explanation as to the previous 400 or so pages. Dang. I hate it when that happens.

Anyway, it turns out I was right. LOST was winding down with very little chance of a satisfactory ending - I was getting kind of nervous - and then it happened. It totally effing happened (by the way - that reminds me - on our trip we stopped for a potty break in Effingham) and I was like WHAT? Dudes, the Sixth Sense thing worked with the Sixth Sense because we didn't see it coming. This time? It was just a cheap trick. Also? When did they die? On the island? Was the plane in the ocean really full of their dead bodies and then the island was some kind of Purgatory? Or did they die later? If the island was supposedly real - then NOTHING WAS EXPLAINED. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I am totally mad about this.

I'm going to go to bed. I'm going to sleep well for two reasons. One: I am so exhausted that I am already pretty much asleep. Two: I know that while I am sleeping you will be feverishly typing out your LOST explanations. I REALLY NEED to understand LOST so I can put the endless hours I wasted while watching it into some kind of perspective.

Signing Off as the Sardine Mama With Trail Dust on her Puffy Feet

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where's the Passion?

Before we get to the passion stuff that caught your eye (I'm tricky that way, no?) let me do a little recap since this blog is really my personal journal of sorts and it's not my fault that you guys choose to read it in its entirety. But I totally get why you do it - I really do. I mean, it's read blogs versus do the laundry or whatever evil task normally looms over you - (lots of people like to theorize about good and evil...good is God....God is love....evil is the absence of love....Satan is loneliness and isolation yada yada yada...for ME? Lucifer is a smoldering mountain of laundry waiting to be exorcised).

So. Let's start with Mother's Day - also known as The Most Disappointing Day of the Year. It sucked. It was one of those deals where Jeff came home after a 2-week trip and wasn't really prepared for Mother's Day and I knew the offspring hadn't really been prepping for the event so I resentfully said (the night before Mother's Day) we'll do it next weekend or something and then they all went HOORAY WE DON'T HAVE TO DO IT TOMORROW and that like totally pissed me off.

So I enjoyed sulking on Mother's Day and then topped it off with a trip to the cemetery because Holy Crap What Would A Holiday Be Without A Visit To the Freaking Graveyard? It was fine. It fit my mood. I sat by my mom's grave thinking that someday nobody would be sitting by my grave seeing as how they would all be too busy to bother (I'm REALLY good at sulking and wallowing in self-pity) and telling my sister that nobody had gotten me anything for Mother's Day and enjoying her appropriate response and the resulting guilt-ridden expressions on my children's and husband's faces and seriously - that really is better than a card.

So my dad was sitting on my mom's tombstone talking about cement or something with Jeff - when he suddenly keeled over. Like Totally Keeled Over. We were all just stunned. I mean, he certainly looked Entirely Dead and there he lay, right over his own grave next to where my mom is buried and so I quickly jumped into action and ran to the sister thought I was going to call an ambulance but really I was just planning on leaving because I AM NOT A GOOD PERSON TO HAVE AROUND IN AN EMERGENCY. Ask anybody.

Jeff ran to Dad's side and kind of shook him and Dad responded like your typical dead person. Jeff spoke to him and again, Dead Man Talking kind of response. And I thought to myself that this was just typical - he couldn't die in a normal place like a bed or something - no way - this was going to be The Story of how Great Great Great Grandpa died right there on his own grave....sheesh....why can't we do anything like everyone else and now my Mother's Day was Seriously and Entirely Ruined not just this year but FOREVER. And then? A holiday miracle. Right before he suffered the humiliation of mouth to mouth with my husband, he was resurrected and simply said, "I'm okay," as if he had just accidentally bumped his head on a chandelier or something. Then he wanted to know why everyone was staring at him.

We don't know what happened - I thought that with the cement talk he'd maybe bored himself to death but he's been checked out by 3 doctors - apparently he just fainted like a girl. I thanked him for not dying in the cemetery on Mother's Day and he was like, "No problem. See? It was a good Mother's Day after all."

He was right. In retrospect it rather was.

But it got better because my husband's niece sent me a card and then one of Ellie's piano students made me a card and my children were truly and properly shamed by the non-immediate family members and semi-strangers giving me cards. Awesome.

Onto other events since the previous post....Part II of the Piano Family Visit from An Apology. They are brave souls and came back for another lesson. I was totally prepared, fully clothed, etc. And while making polite chit chat from the kitchen I noticed their faces going pale and then their expressions turn to utter disgust and I followed their gazes towards the Gosh Dang Wiener Dog who was not unconsciously pooping but was, in fact, eating a pile of her own vomit. UGH. GROSS. I apologized even though it wasn't really my fault in any way - or even the dog's for that matter - and then I ran for the van because I am NOT GOOD AROUND VOMIT. Ask anybody.

Over the weekend Ellie played at a Ragtime Festival in San Antonio. She is a classical musician but the organizer of the event heard her play Chopin at a faculty recital of a local college where she was a guest artist, and he asked her if she happened to know any rags to play. She did and she was really happy to participate. She played in the afternoon at El Mercado, the Mexican market in downtown San Antonio. I noticed that Ragtime pianists perform with their backs to the audience. That was new for me. Ellie said Lizst is the one who changed that for classical pianists. Anyway, the other musicians took Ellie out for dinner while our family went to Mi Tierra for dinner, which is my favorite Mexican place in San Antonio.

Mi Tierra is huge and old and totally over-the-top. It is a tourist attraction but at any given time more than half of the diners are locals. It's open 24 hours a day and has the best breakfasts ever. We sat in my favorite room, the Mural Room. Several walls are solid murals of famous Mexicans (thereby proving what I've long suspected; I do not live in Arizona. If you live in Arizona, by the way, I'm kind of just kidding). How could you not dig it? Carlos Santana, Flaco Ximenez, Freida, and Archbishop Patrick Flores all on one wall! There is also a huge portrait of Selena and the one and only gringo in the place, Bill Clinton. In Clinton's portrait he is jogging while wearing a Mi Tierra t-shirt.

That night Ellie played at a concert for the Ragtime Festival and she wowed them. They were really nice people and a fun and appreciative audience for her. They came from all over the place and were just NUTS for Ragtime. The next night Ellie played at a classical recital and wowed that audience, too. If you want to hear what she played, and if you can sit through the very very very very slow 3rd movement to get to the insanely exciting 4th movement (can you tell I like the 4th movement?) you can go here. Same song, different recital.

So about the passion business. The Ragtime Festival got me to thinking about how there are just people everywhere into everything you can imagine. I mean literally any old crazy thing you can think of - there is an association or a group or a fan club that is nuts over it. Right now it seems as if all of my friends are finding new passions. One friend is a yoga freak, another is addicted to running, yet another is a human rights activist. I'm not into anything. "Well, you don't have time," people say. And maybe that's true but it's not the point. The point is that there isn't even anything I'm interested in! I'm not a birdwatcher or a stargazer, or a collector of miniature ponies or an avid gardener or ventriloquist. Nada, zilch, zip. This girl has no hobby. Writing, you say? You said it. I heard you. Well, I'm not passionate about writing. I'm not even passionate about this blog. For the most part, when I write or blog I simply feel guilty about all of the other things I should be doing. Also? The fiction writing I've been doing is freaking HARD. It seems like it would be fun but it is Just Hard. And then there's the whole ego thing involved in writing....does my writing suck? Will I ever publish fiction like a Real Writer? When you're into miniature poodles there really isn't any ego risk involved, you know? Writing is a difficult and often painful thing that I'm driven to do but I wouldn't necessarily call it relaxing.

Okay - I know what you're going to say next. Parenting! That's a hobby! Well - it was at one time. That sounds bad. It isn't as if I'm no longer into parenting. I totally am. But when all the kids were little I was INTO Attachment Parenting and it was indeed a sort of hobby. I could talk AP with other AP-types (and we are a type) and it was just thrilling and awesome. The Natural Parenting Business? Ditto. I was in heaven talking about cloth diapering, extended and exclusive breastfeeding, and natural childbirth for HOURS. I read about it for HOURS. I wrote about it for HOURS. Now? I'm kinda past that. While I'm happy to share information with people, I'm not passionate about it. I no longer think EVERYONE SHOULD BE DOING IT! If you pull out a bottle in front of me, I will not gasp.

And what about homeschooling you say? Ahhhh....homeschooling. It is like breathing for me now. Again, I am past the point where I want to drool over curriculum catalogs or spend time talking about how rocking awesome it is with other people who like talking about how rocking awesome it is. After 8 years, it is just what we do. The honeymoon is over in the homeschooling department - we're into the homestretch.

All of these things that have to do with my family and our lifestyle are important to me - they make me who I am....but dangit - don't I need a hobby? I mean all I look forward to is LOST and that's coming to a big old probably unsatisfactory end tomorrow. Pitiful, ain't it?

While you're all busy thinking up hobbies for me let me just remind you that I am in fact a Saint and a Goddess and a Person to be Admired because I am driving the teenage Odyssey team to Michigan for the World Tournament. I said driving. In our big bus. Pulling an antiques trailer on loan. In case you don't know, Michigan is officially a LONG ASS DRIVE from Texas. We're leaving on Monday so I need suggestions as to some good books to listen to on tape. No vampire porn because I don't want to make the teenagers all squirmy and blushy and disgusted and stuff. So something interesting for me (no kiddie books) that won't corrupt the innocents.

Thanking you in advance, I'm signing off as the Totally Passionless But Not Sure I Care All That Much Sardine Mama

Saturday, May 8, 2010

An Apology

Ellie teaches piano lessons here several times a week. And I always know when the students are coming and so we try not to be in our underwear, or have our underwear on the floor, or have excessive amounts of general, non-underwear related mayhem going on. It is tough but I usually manage to pull it off.

But on Friday a family came for piano lessons who doesn't normally come for piano lessons and if Ellie had told me about it I hadn't heard her and so (gasp) we were caught in our totally natural and embarrassingly unrestrained habitat. To that family? I would like to sincerely apologize.

1. I apologize that the front door was barricaded by a tacky fence. The fence is intended to keep the dementia-suffering wiener dog from continuing to destroy the molding around the edge of our front door while causing her little paws to bleed from scratching endlessly.

2. I apologize that the back door was blocked by a baby gate, the purpose of which is the same as the tacky fence across the front door.

3. I apologize for the two ice chests, several pairs of skates, green light saber, and overturned bike that were also blocking the back door.

4. I apologize for the bird poop that you had to step over after you managed to get over the baby gate. It has piled up next to the back door - but did you see the cute baby barn swallows peeping over the edge of their nest?

5. I apologize that I didn't hear you when you finally made it across the threshold of the back door and into my hallway, the one right outside my bedroom.

6. I apologize for the fact that you were startled by me, my ultra-white and only paritially hairless legs, and a very noisy epilator when you looked into my bedroom. I don't normally perform grooming rituals in front of strangers.

7. I apologize for the fact that I was wearing my husband's bleach-stained ACDC t-shirt - the one sporting a youthful Angus Young sprouting demonic horns from his head while snarling. Despite what you may have heard in the homeschooling circles, and despite the demonic image on my t-shirt, we are not Satan worshipers.

8. I apologize for the underwear sprinkled on the couch and floor of the living room. It was clean. I promise. I know because I collected it, washed it, dried it, and even stupidly folded it and left it on the couch in neat little stacks. I am, however, currently on strike in regards to actually delivering it into the drawers of its owners, none of whom, by the way, are suffering from broken legs.

9. I apologize for the fact that instead of my daughter playing Chopin in our den, you found my son playing totally non-Christian Black Sabbath riffs on his electric guitar, thereby possibly strengthening any small and fledgling suspicions about the Satan worship business. Let me just say that I don't like Black Sabbath or Ozzy Osbourne very much - although I did indeed see the Crazy Train Tour in 1982. And if Ozzy worships Satan, I'm not sure Satan is aware of it because Ozzy, due to previous years of drug abuse, seems unable to form coherent sentences. If Ozzy is talking to Satan, Satan is like, "Huh?" My son doesn't talk to Satan. He just likes to play Iron Man and I'm pretty sure he's not having any spiritual reflections whatsoever while doing so.

10. I apologize for the fact that my son unplugged his guitar, said, "Excuse me," and then STEPPED OVER THE DOG POOP ON THE FLOOR on his way out of the room to find his sister.

11. I apologize for the fact that you could smell the dog poop and am grateful for the fact that you apparently missed stepping on it by mere millimeters.

12. I apologize for the fact that when Ellie emerged, she screamed, "Joel come pick up the dog poop!!" instead of saying, "Hello, how lovely to see you. Welcome to our home."

13. I apologized if she cursed.

14. I apologize for the fact that Joel refused to pick up the dog poop.

15. I apologize for the fact that your children's lessons were then delayed while Ellie angrily picked up the dog poop.

16. I apologize if she cursed.

17. I apologize PROFUSELY for the fact that there was dog poop on the floor in the first place.

18. I apologize for the apparent lack of surprise over the poop on the part of my family. There was a time when dog poop on the floor disgusted us as much as it does you. But since the ailing wiener dog has no feeling in her lower extremities and pretty much wanders around my house dropping poo balls unawares, we have become used to it. You'd be surprised at what you can get used to.

19. I apologize for letting the ailing wiener dog in the house in the first place, seeing as how so much effort has gone into fortifying the perimeter of the house (as you so well discovered)against her entrance. My husband, also known as the Perimeter Enforcer, was out of town. The dog whines and cries and it is just dang pitiful.

20. I apologize for whatever may have happened after I left to go pick up my husband from the airport. I realize that this final apology might encompass a rather long list of offenses of which I am thankfully ignorant.

Please come back another time. Seriously. We welcome visitors. Just give us another chance. We're a totally different family when we're expecting you.

Signing Off as A Truly Remorseful Sardine Mama