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2006 July

keeping my hands to myself from now on

July 31, 2006

I have touched and subsequently broken:

1) my hair clip, which meant that my hair is now all hanging down in my face and getting caught on the strps of my laptop case

2) the tray on my fold down tray on my first flight, which meant it kept crashing down onto my lap every time the woman in the seat moved

3) the overhead bin where I stored my carry on bag, which meant I had to climb up on my seat and smack it with my fist a few times

4) the toliet paper holder in the restroom, which meant that when I pulled on the end of the paper it broke free and rolled away under the stall

As long as I stay away from the pilot and the airplane control panel, I should be home tonight by 11:00pm

Posted by Chris @ 11:14 am | 7 Comments  

Fly away home, or not

July 30, 2006

This morning at 6:30am Kathryn, a.k.a. Daring Young Mom popped up in bed and woke Mir and I up by screaming, “I overslept. I can’t believe I missed my flight.”

Then she proceeded to rush a round in a a hysterical panic while Mir and I sat on our beds and thought of the delicious breakfast that would be waiting for us downstairs once we got up and packed our things.

I packed up all of my stuff, which seemed to have reproduced exponentially in the few days I have been away, coupled with all the free shwag I was bringing home for the kids…from t-shirts to bibs to leather cd cases. I did toss the free condoms and the not so tasty, and badly named, bottled water into the trash.

My cell phone service had been spotty over the past day and I hadn’t talked to my husband or children since the previous morning. I called them and we were all excited.

My son asked, “When will you be home, Mommy?”

“I’ll be home after bedtime. But when you wake up in the morning tomorrow I’ll be there.” I asnwered.

“I miss you Mommy.”

“I really miss you too, baby”

Rinde and repeat this conversation several more times.

This is the longest I have ever been away from my children. In the past twelve years I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have gone anywhere and I have always only stayed overnight. I have never been away long enough to miss them. But this trip, I missed them all.

As I was gathering my stuff to leave the room I looked down at my boarding pass.

“Mir, why does my boarding pass say 9:00?” I asked. We had booked our flights at the same time and thought we were on the same flight coming home. I though it was a 1:00 flight.

And thus began a flurry of phone calls to the airline. I had missed my flight. I could fly home today if I wanted to change planes several times and pay upwards of $200 for the honor of running through the airport from gate to gate at each location and hoping not to miss any of the connections.

In the end I decided to stay an extra night. Though it kills me that I won’t see my kids for a whole other day. I never really cry, I am just not a crying type person, but everytime someone would say good morning to me this morning I would burst into tears.

The lovely Grace is coming to pick me up from the hotel and bring me to stay at her house. And she is even going to bring me to the beach. I am trying to be happy and thankful. On the upside I will see the Pacific Ocean.

Posted by Chris @ 12:38 pm | 33 Comments  

Just in case you miss me

July 29, 2006

I have a post up over at dotmoms today, titled Jump rope is not a a contact sport.

After I had children, FIVE boy children in a row, I started to suspect that certain things were just inborn. The way that they reacted to things was just different. The way they chose to interact with each other was just different. Not better or worse, just different than all the little girls my friends had.

Then, three years ago, I had a girl. A girl of my very own.

Posted by Chris @ 9:43 am | 5 Comments  

Proving my age and my lack of all technical skills

Yesterday Stacy had told me to text message her and Kris. Not to call them, because apparently talking on the phone is not hip. But typing with those impossibly tiny keys is.

Before yesterday I have never sent a text message. So I began pushing the little buttons when I realized that I had no idea how to use a space bar. Also after the first two words I was tired. So I sent a text message that read “whatupwhreru” because I also didn’t know how to use the backspace key to erase my spelling errors.

Then I hit send.

Then Kris got it.

And since I had not signed my name she had no idea who this person was who did not have a firm grasp on the English language and lacked the ability to use the the space bar.

I had a point when I started typing this, but who knows what it was now. Kathryn is sitting next to me and trying to make me laugh instead of being my normally sedate serious self.

I am giving a speech later on today in front of all of these 750 people and I might just vomit.

Posted by Chris @ 9:38 am | 11 Comments  

Ramblin’ like a shut-in

July 27, 2006

I was going to type up a post about arriving in San Jose and meeting these fabulous women. But other people have already done it.

So I’ll send you here to see a picture of Mir and I as we starved on the plane but bravely kept smiling. Also note the man in the photo with the headphones, I think he put them on to drown out our endless talking and laughing.

And then
to read about the pre Blogher margarita drinking party. I had one and couldn’t figure outhow to work the ethernet connection in my hotel room last night. I’m not sure how other people were able to function at all.

And finally here to read a summary, with photos, of the evening.

And this morning I met the fabulous Stacy and Kris after they called me in the morning to say hello and I demanded that they give me their complimentary coffee creamer and sugar, since they don’t drink coffee. They are so young that apparently they can thrive of the elixir of their youth and not caffeine.

And now it is 12:30 eastern time, which is MY time, but only 9:30 california time. And we are headed out for breakfast. Though with the lack of sleep and time difference it feels like we have again been starved for the day and should be heading out to dinner. And a nap.

Definitely a nap.

Posted by Chris @ 9:42 am | 11 Comments  

Things I have learned today

July 26, 2006

1) Airlines no longer feed you. Even if you are travelling across the entire country and spending the whole day in the plane.

2) They also will not let you off the plane when there are layovers so that you can buy food.

3) It is possible to scare your fellow passengers by laughing too much, which seems to be a direct result of starvation.

4) Sometimes the very last person to get on an airplane, you know the annoying person that has to be paged several times before they finally show up and then walk down the aisle banging everyone in the head with their suitcase. Sometimes that person is you.

5) The Holiday Inn shuttle driver will NOT bring you to the Hyatt. Even if you complain about the heat and your hunger.

Posted by Chris @ 10:36 pm | 14 Comments  

My bags are packed

July 25, 2006

It is 12:30am and I need to get up in five hours to leave for the airport.

I have successfully packed about 25 different outfits into my suitcase, because you never know what you might need. Also I have packed two boxes worth of tampons, because I just don’t trust that I can buy them all the way over there in California. Also, I am a freak who always likes to be prepared.

This is why I was never able to packback around Europe because unless I could carry my apartment on my back I couldn’t do it. “But what if I were in the middle of Paris and I NEEDED my melon baller, how would I survive?” Recently I read a magazine article about a couple that has been bicycling around the world with all of their possessions in their backpacks. They showed some amazing photos and related some incredible stories. And for a few minutes I thought, “Wow, I want to do that. That would be so awesome.” And for those few minutes I really meant it.

And then I came to my sensesthought some more and realized a) I would have to actually PEDAL my bicycle around the world and that would require exertion and sweating, two things I try to avoid whenever possible, b) I’d have to pack light and c) sensible shoes.

I have a jacket, a sweater, and four pair of shoes in my luggage. I thought that seemed excessive, but Mir has packed five pair of shoes. But I have everything packed into my carry on bag. My laptop case is packed with my laptop (duh, really chris?), camera, charging thingies (me so technical), and yes, more tampons (always prepared, like a boy scout).

So the big bunch of grapes I bought to snack on are going to have to go on my head, like a festive hat. At least everyone will recognize me.

“Oh Chris? She’s the one with the fruit headress handing out tampons like they are party favors.”

Posted by Chris @ 9:51 pm | 28 Comments  

I can now resume driving my car

Today I went to the DMV to renew my driver’s license. No, I didn’t have to retake the test. That happens after 24 months in my state. No one yelled at me. The policeman there even smiled.

It was completely uneventful. I was in and out within fifteen minutes. The only thing I thought about while there was the fact that they were renewing the driver’s license of a woman who had to be at least 90 years old, could barely hobble along without an assistant, and was shaking so much she dropped her paperwork on the ground. But yet, she can still have a license to drive a car. And most likely drive in front of me whenever I am in rush to get somewhere.

So after I left there I decided to get a manicure, which is very UNlike me. But I thought what the hell, why not. My hands are now sufficiently moisturized, clipped of all stray cuticles, and painted a shiny pink that I have already manage to chip. Can’t take me anywhere.

While in the shop there was a young woman who was dressed as though she were a stripper. A stripper who was half way done with her routine. I have seen people in skimpy clothes before, but nothing like this. My three year old daughter even asked her why her shorts were so small.

But the bigger question I had, shortness aside, was why were they unbuttoned and zipped showing off the front triangle of her black underwear with a little rhinestone heart? Why? For the love of all things that are holy please don’t let this be a trend or I will be forced to become a stark raving lunatic who wanders the streets screaming, “Is this what women burned their bras for? This?”

And then her shirt had the entire collar cut off and hung off of one braless shoulder. And the bottom of the shirt was cut off and then tied somehow in the back. Seriously I wanted to ask her some questions and find out what would prompt a girl to dress like this. Does she like the attention it gets her? And I can only imagine the kind of attention it would get.

I have never seen an outfit like this, aside for a beer poster that college boys would have hanging up in their dorm rooms.

But the oddest part was when she asked me if I was looking for a babysitter. I mean she could very well be the best babysitter that ever walked the face of the earth, but dressed like that she isn’t coming into my house to babysit my preteen boys.

And this is what I get to look at until the year 2011:

driver's license

Posted by Chris @ 12:20 pm | 31 Comments  

One More Day

How do you deal with time management? How do you find that 5 mins in the day for each of them? How do you stop saying “I’ll help you in a minute?/ I’ll be there in a minute/ I’d love to play Snakes and Ladders… in a minute” Do you get it all done in a day? Do I sound like a bad parent? Because sometimes I wonder.

I answer these questions from a reader on my new blog today.

And I know that everyone is sick of me mentioning it, but I am packing my suitcase. Insert a high pitched squeal and imagine me jumping up and down.

Also I have to go to the DMV. My driver’s license expired 15 months ago and I have been putting it off in my typical procrastinating fashion. So that should be fun.

Posted by Chris @ 4:56 am | 11 Comments  

Celebrating A Life

July 24, 2006

Yesterday I went to my step father’s supposed to be a surprise party. Luckily someone showed my mother the error of her ways in thinking a room full of people shouting, “SURPRISE” was a good thing to do to someone who you would like to see turn 86.

His birthdate is actually unclear. He was born at home, the first generation American in an Italian immigrant family. There were eight children in the family, who by my rough estimate had 20 children, a surprising number of whom were named Tony. He didn’t get a birth certificate until years later and by then no one was really sure of exactly the date he was born.

“Why does it really matter? I’m here, aren’t I?” he had said.

His childhood wasn’t an easy one, growing up during the Depression, being poor. There was so much lacking in their lives as children. And yet, when they speak of their time growing up there is great joy and laughter. When I listen to the stories I often wonder if it is because of the harshness of their every day life that the glimmers seemed so particularly sweet.

Can you truly appreciate things if you don’t have that contrast?

Would my children be excited to get an orange for Christmas? Would they hold it in their hand like a treasure, not wanting to eat it because it would then be over? Would they try to hold out for as long as possible before they peeled it and bit into it’s sweet flesh, licking the juice off their hands and forearms. Would they 80 years later still talk about how when they were children the oranges tasted so much better, so much sweeter than they do now?

“Now that you can buy them everywhere, it isn’t the same. I don’t know why, they just don’t taste as good,” he had said.

When my step father was a child they rarely could afford treats, in fact the probably lacked most of the things which we would now consider essentials. Since his birthday was in the summer, his mother would get him a watermelon every year instead of baking a cake. Now that I have seven children, I wonder if she started the tradition because it was just too damn hot to fire up the stove and bake a cake in the middle of summer, even in the summer kitchen, which was in the basement of their house.

But whatever the reason, it became a tradition which he and his siblings anticipated eagerly. I have heard the stories of the watermelon as birthday cake for my entire life. How they would stick a candle on it and sing happy birthday. He said his father and mother would sit back and watch them eat the watermelon. They never ate it themselves. In fact their father never did anything for himself. His children came before him. His wife came before him. He asked for nothing but their happiness.

Such simple pleasure. Such simple joy. Sitting there together, eating watermelon, at a table their father had built himself. They always ate the white part and usually ate the rind. Still do.

“Why do you eat that part?” I once had asked.

“Why not? The bitter balances out the sweet. Also, it seems a shame to just waste it,” he had answered.

His explanations for everything are like that. Simple, logical, the same Depression era mentality that causes my father in law to save and reuse tin foil.

Every day my step father eats a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Every single day. And has for the past 30 years that I have known him. It is always the same, without variation. Sitting here typing this I can picture the sandwich, sitting on the white corell dishes with the cornflower blue trim– white bread, ham, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, and Hellman’s mayonaisse with the knife still in the jar– sitting next to his glass of RC cola.

“How can you eat that every day?” I once asked.

He had shrugged. “When I was a kid I wanted ham so badly. But we never got to eat it because it was too expensive. Sometimes my father would come home form work with a ham bone or a scrap someone had given him and my mother would make soup. It was always so exciting when it would happen. But I told myself that one day I would have enough money to eat ham, real ham, every day for the rest of my life. And that’s just what I intend to do.”

I was an adolescent, full of my self and my own import. “I’d never do that. I’d rather starve than eat ham.”

He didn’t get angry, he rarely did. Instead he’d calmly laughed and said, “No you wouldn’t. You only say that because you have never been hungry.”

At the party yesterday, people stood up and told stories about him as their uncle, brother, cousin, friend. They were the kind of stories that made us laugh until tears streamed down our faces and made us cry. Cry for what? I suppose for the fact that once you reach 85 there aren’t too many more of these birthdays left. There isn’t too much more time to build these kind of memories. “One hundred and one” became the toast. I guess it sounds more chipper and party like than 16 more years. Mortality with a face sucks.

Then after the party we went back to my parent’s house for an after party. We carried in presents and cards, mostly filled with well-wishes,love, and lots of xxxxx’s because at this stage of his life he has everything he could want. There was one heavy, rather large present I placed on the center of the kitchen table.

He began opening some of his presents. I heard a loud hoot of laughter.

“What?” I asked, “What is it?”

“My brother. He got the perfect gift.” Out of the pile of boxes and wrappings, ribbons and bows, he picked up a watermelon.

He took his handkerchief out of his pocket and dabbed his eyes. Most of his brothers and sisters are gone now.

We sat at a restaurant seventy people strong to celebrate, but many of the people he started out with in this life are dead. He must think about that too, making birthdays more bittersweet with each passing year. The stories are different now. There are ghosts in them, empty pauses in the stories. Freddie is no longer there to interject his part of the story, or Dominick to tell his part about how Tony would always try to steal a bite of his watermelon. Dominick is gone now. So are Rose and Caroline. And so is Pat, the youngest, the baby who had spent the first month of his life precariously clinging to life in a wooden box next to the stove and later went on to storm the beaches of Normandy. There are only three now.

And yet the stories still beg to be told.

“A watermelon?” my daughter asked, “a watermelon isn’t a present.”

“No, honey, once upon a time it was.” I stroked my daughter’s hair, and put a chunk of it behind her ear. “Go on, Poppi, tell us the story.”

He leans back in his chair and begins.

Grandfather and Grandson

One Hundred and One, Poppi. We’re counting on One Hundred and One.

Posted by Chris @ 8:38 am | 88 Comments