Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dammit Karen

Alex and I were invited to a going-away dinner for one of his co-workers Saturday night.  Al told me the send-off was for a small group of people, just a couple others besides us, and that it was "a pretty casual thing."  I asked him if it was jeans casual and he said "probably, this is Seattle after all."

Seattle or not, I don't feel right wearing jeans to a dinner party so I wore my favorite dress but casual-ized it with a funky frayed cropped cardigan and clompy Seattle style boots.

We arrived at a giant house on a hill with a view for miles to find an extravagantly set table for 26 people and a handful of caterers in the kitchen.  Servers immediately descended upon me and offered a glass of champagne and some dainty spinach/cheese ball things.

After a quick panicked appraisal of the situation including the hostess's elegant cocktail dress, I whipped off my weird tacky sweater and flung it into the corner.  I also quickly got rid of my clunky boots, declaring I was "one of those people who believes it proper to remove one's shoes upon entry." (I'm not that person at all, I love my shoes)  Thankfully my tights were a lovely warm cinnamon color and were also blissfully hole-free, a condition in which most of my tights do not find themselves.

I shot Alex a sidelong stinkeye.  We've been together a long time so he knew exactly what I meant.  "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm not a detail person!" he hissed in my ear as he glanced frantically around the room and mentally evaluated his own wardrobe choices.

Not only was the dinner much fancier than anticipated but some of the "big guns" from the company were invited.  I'd heard the names before but had never met the people behind them.  Alex used to toss sleeplessly the night before giving presentations to these names and now I was about to meet them in my stocking feet.  I made a mental note never to listen to Alex's words again because they are false.

It was all ado about nothing, as are most things I get worked up about.  One guy did show up in jeans (this is Seattle after all) so I put my sweater back on because dang I was cold.  I met a woman who grew up in Detroit, a neighboring city to my hometown of Toledo, and now we're friends.  "The big guns" were no different from the underlings -- friendly, easy to talk to, good senses of humor.  Not once did I get nervous and blurt, "How much money do you have, money person?"

It was a success even though I felt dumb with no shoes and spent a crazy amount of time talking to a Civil War buff.  I was just faking it with that guy, I really don't know much about General Lee.

Sunday was glorious here in Seattle: clear, sunny, crisp, cold. We left our house in the morning with only a vague notion of what we were trying to accomplish then bounced around from place to place until we ended up back home.  Aimless days are usually the best days.

Playing Uno under the watchful eye of the Tabasco sauce

Ziplining into her brother

throwing rocks into the lake

Dad kid pile

a cheap haircut and an old school arcade

I'm snack parent at Coco's preschool this week and that's no laughing matter.  I must provide a full week of healthy snacks for 20 kids.  Each day's snack must include one protein, one carbohydrate and one fruit or vegetable.  Also, snacks cannot be repeated two weeks in a row. I have no idea why they can't be repeated but based on my experience, it's a rule designed to flush out the weak from the strong.

Your snack "menu" must be filled out the week before and submitted for approval.  Filling out my snack plan took an inordinate amount of time because I would think, "I'll bring pretzels for the carb on Tuesday" but then I would flip back to the week before mine in the snack menu book and "DAMMIT, KAREN!"  Karen had brought pretzels the week before my week so pretzels were no longer an option, they were dead to me. 

"'ll bring pita chips then...." 
*flip flip* 

Rinse and repeat with Goldfish crackers.

My snacks got obscure after that -- flax seed smoothies and salami wrapped breadsticks and hard boiled eggs dipped in strawberry coulis.  Karen sure as hell didn't do any of this, HA, I thought as I scribbled my snack plan furiously in the snack plan book.  

I'm getting carried away but all I'm trying to say is being snack parent is a weighty responsibility.  I awoke early this morning to chop up dozens of colorful bell peppers, portion out ham slices and count my rice crackers because it's just a big damn deal.  

We were hustling out of the house after my snack preparations when I took pity on our dog -- he's an old guy now, is deaf and has to wear a dog diaper at night -- and agreed he could ride with us in the car that morning.  But as soon as I opened the fence gate to shoo him into the car, Oscar, that idiot animal, took off down the street.  I yelled, "Oscar!  Oscar!"  as I ran after him clutching my cup of coffee and my snack bag full of prepared delicious goodness for 20 preschoolers.

Did I mention Oscar's deaf now?  He was so happy to be free.  He was oblivious, tail wagging, couldn't hear my frantic screaming.  For just a second he thought everything was right in the world and he was a young dog again.  Then he stopped to pee on a tree and Lucien pounced on him.  He looked up at us so hurt and confused.  He didn't understand our flailing arms and angry faces.  

We dragged him back to the car.  I opened the passenger side and he attempted to jump up on the seat.  Old guy he is, he got stuck halfway between the ground and the seat and dangled there whining until I grabbed him around the belly.  In grabbing him, however, my coffee, which was now clutched under an arm to load the dog, tipped at a precarious angle.

I saw what was going to happen before it happened yet I was powerless to stop it.  The coffee cascaded in a lovely arc straight into my meticulously prepared snack bag.  What didn't hit the insides of the bag ran down my dog's back , soaked my white gloves, and dripped down the front of my beloved red and white houndstooth coat.

 oh animal

Oscar was fine but was no longer welcome in the car that morning.  He was placed back inside the house.  I blotted the contents of the snack bag best I could.  The crackers were unscathed in their plastic container but the ham and bell peppers didn't fare as well.  I considered confessing as I handed the snack bag to the teachers with a cheerful smile but I knew they would make me re-do all that chopping and I didn't have the strength.  

To review, I served 20 preschoolers a healthy snack with one protein, one carb, one vegetable, and a healthy sprinkling of caffeine.  It should be an interesting day over there today.

Karen most definitely did not do that. HA!

Monday, November 10, 2014

No dice, pumpkin spice

Halloween is over so I can have a life again until next week when I start prepping for Thanksgiving. I will then have a brief life again until Christmas preparations begin, which will be alarmingly soon after the Thanksgiving meal has been consumed.

My grocery shopping for our annual Halloween party revealed America's perplexing obsession with all things pumpkin flavored and pumpkin scented.  There were pumpkin waffles, pumpkin lip balm, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin marshmallows.  I didn't investigate too thoroughly but I wonder how far it goes. I wonder if there are pumpkin flavored hot dogs.  I wonder if there are pumpkin scented suppositories, to remind you of Grandma's pumpkin pie when you take your butt medicine.

We need to get a hold of ourselves because if you truly cut open a pumpkin and take a sniff of the insides, or god forbid taste them, the experience will be more akin to day-old cat vomit than the deliciously warm and comfy scent those marketing geniuses have concocted.

Banister Abbey Parents Gone Wild Halloween 2014 was the best one yet.  It was the year I finally bought my own beer tap.  It was also the year I made sure to set our fire extinguisher on the counter before the party began.  I love my friends but they are definitely capable of burning down my house so it's best to have that thing handy.

I made the worms again

We had over 50 people this year, more than we've ever had before, and they were all enthusiastic, fully costumed, fully on board.  I dressed as Elvis Costello and didn't set my guitar down all night.  I couldn't.  My costume became nebulous without the guitar, something between a Blues Brother and a 1940s era hit man.  I smacked a lot of friends in their chests and shoulders with my guitar as I walked through the party but I think it was worth it to uphold my vision.

It's two Elvises and two White Stripes

Alex was a giraffe --

Animal costumes were popular this year
but what is up with that eagle cow?

A tarot card reader sat in the TV room and gave readings all night, some of which were life changing and had people crying on their way out of the room.  (That could have been the booze, though; too much of the hard stuff seems to have the same effect.) Our friends reported the tarot reader was amazing and right on point, minus the one lackluster review from a wife whose husband had just been told to come out of the closet.

Whoops.  I hope they don't come to the party next year costumed as a divorced couple.

has your life changed yet, Seattle Mom?

The final revelers left near 2:00 a.m. after one guest yelled, "You guys, seriously, MJ calls 911 all the time.  Believe me, she will call 911 on her own party if we don't leave."  I then placed the phone back down gently, grateful someone knew me so well, and understood who I am, at my core.

Here are my kids on actual Halloween, with a Victorian ghost up top --

the only holiday that doesn't take itself seriously

exhibit A: my boy is a piece of bacon

As for other recent events, Coco had a starring role in her preschool's class play.  The play was based on an ancient theme, one that has plagued mankind for ages -- Coco had grown a pumpkin that was too big and she couldn't figure out how to get it off the vine.

One by one the other kids came by with helpful suggestions. There was a lot of tugging on the pumpkin -- a little melodramatically overacted, if you ask me.  After the 15th round of tugging and pulling and shrugging of tiny shoulders, Alex leaned over to me and whispered, "Someone give these kids a decent hacksaw and we're done here."

At the end they decided if they all pulled together they could get the pumpkin off the vine.  I guess it's necessary to suspend one's disbelief when watching a preschool play because I don't think even 20 tiny kids pulling together could rip a pumpkin the size of a Volkswagen off a 12-inch diameter vine.

I hit a parked car a couple days ago.  That was the start of a bad day.  Drop-off in front of Lucien's school is always a mess.  Parents are supposed to drive north down the street in front of the school to drop off their kids but there's always some dumb parent trying to come south.  You have to move over as far as you can to let the stupid idiot through. I moved over as far as I could which, I now know, was too far.  I pushed the limits of what was possible according to the parked truck I broadsided.

Lucien, helpful little soul he is, started yelling from the backseat, "OH MY GOD MOM STOP! STOP!  YOU'RE HITTING THAT CAR, MOM, YOU'RE HITTING THAT CAR" to which I replied through clenched teeth yet at full volume (I'm amazing) "I'M AWARE I'M HITTING A CAR RIGHT NOW, LUCIEN, THANK YOU."  The crumply crunchy screechy sound was my first clue, how about you, son?  What was your first indication the morning had gone to hell?

I left a note on the truck, not only because it was the right thing to do but because I knew Lucien would be running his mouth about it all day at school.  If I hit-and-runned it, it would take mere seconds for the school to track down the culprit thanks to the wise guy in 3rd grade.  I have no morals, really.

The truck guy hasn't called yet so fingers crossed he likes the modifications I've made to his vehicle.  Mine looks much worse, by far.  The entire side is torn up.  I may not get it fixed because it makes me feel kind of badass, gives me a little street cred, makes people fear me.

I returned from the school drop-off debacle to find Supermodel Neighbor (he's here working on the house again, both kids now believe him to be an uncle) pacing the house.  He told me he couldn't find his jacket, which he wouldn't worry about too much except his wallet was in the front pocket.  We'd gone out the night before to a friend's stand-up comedy competition (so fun).  We both remember him wearing his jacket home; it had been raining and we'd run to the car with jackets over our heads.  It had to be in the house somewhere, there was no other option.

So we ransacked it.  We tore it apart room by room all the while muttering it didn't make any sense. Then we went outside to search the car, which is when Supermodel Neighbor saw the torn-up side of my vehicle.  "What the hell....?"  he said and I said,  "Oh yeah, I hit a truck earlier,"  Then he opened the passenger side door and recoiled in horror, "WHAT THE HELL...?"  "Oh yeah." I said, "I forgot, Oscar (my dog) also threw up in the car this morning.  I should probably clean that up."

Supermodel Neighbor looked at me funny then, like he wanted to get in his car and drive back to Portland at that point but couldn't.  Because I had his wallet somewhere.

On a whim I called Alex to ask him if he had, for some unimaginable reason, taken Supermodel Neighbor's jacket to work.  And of course he had.  He was trying to return it to a Halloween Party reveler at work who had forgotten his jacket at our house thanks to the too-strong but delicious "Rosemary's Baby" punch.  Alex saw a strange jacket thrown over the back of a chair that morning, grabbed it and and hopped on his bike, whistling, believing he was doing a very good thing indeed.

The wallet was still in the pocket even after its ride to Corporate America.  I breathed easily again until I went to pick up Coco at school and stepped in a giant pile of dog poop -- dog must have been the size of a rhino -- right outside the school's front door.  A friend, who had been in touch with me via text all morning and knew of my struggles, witnessed this.  She went back inside the building and gathered up Coco's things while whispering to her and smoothing her hair, "Now be a good girl for Mommy, she's a mess today."

In good news, my pottery wheel instructor told me I was "a natural born potter."  I'll hold onto that nugget of goodness as I jettison my favorite pair of shoes towards the curb because I am never getting the dog sh*t out of all those crevices on the bottom.

That's mine in a nutshell.  How's yours?