Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween runs like clockwork

I'm about to disappear for a month.  I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year so if I'm in front of a computer, I'd better be working on the burgeoning Paris book.  The Paris book has been years in the making, written in fits and starts as inspiration strikes. It hasn't worked out so well in the productivity sense so it's time to f*ck inspiration and just hammer the thing out, like birthing a calf but hopefully with less slime.

That should be NaNoWriMo's new slogan:  F*ck inspiration, just hammer it out like birthing a calf.

Before I head off to dominate the month of November, a month that will undoubtedly involve seedy hotels and dark smoky bars and intermittent acid trips (it's possible I'm getting my information on how to be a good writer from the Wikipedia pages of my favorite authors), I'm going to leave this blog on a Halloween party note.

The preparations for our Halloween party become more streamlined every year. This year was the easiest because we hired a caterer. I should hire a caterer for my daily life.  I would like to come downstairs in the morning to find my toast artfully displayed on the table with an array of topping choices.  Plus caterers constantly re-warm everything; my scrambled eggs would never get cold.

The caterer was helpful in that she made food people actually wanted to eat.  I made the disgusting stuff nobody touches, per my usual, and yet my guests did not go hungry. Teamwork.

I made the brain bleed this year

As for the rest of the party, well, the caterer wasn't the only person to make things run like clockwork --

mercy, it's a Clockwork Orange

This year, Halloween was personal.  A Clockwork Orange is the only novel I've read that's made me physically ill.  I read it in college while sitting in a coffee shop. I was drinking a cafe mocha on a rainy Sunday morning, legs up on the chair across from me, stretched out all lazy-like.  All in all, a pretty cozy scene.  

But when I reached the myriad of "ultraviolence" scenes perpetrated by The Droogs early in the story,  I no longer felt cozy.  I felt horrified by the world and its occupants.  The disgust was so overwhelming, I ran to the bathroom and got sick.  I had never been nauseated by words before -- kudos on the powerfully written fiction there, Anthony Burgess.

Thanks to Burgess and his words I still can't catch a whiff of cafe mocha without feeling a pressing need to hurl.*

*It is not lost on me that my aversion to cafe mocha is a type of classical conditioning, similar to what Alex DeLarge undergoes in the novel to be rid of his violent tendencies. But I swear that is where the similarities between us end.

For whatever reason, Alex DeLarge was the first thing that popped into mind when considering a Halloween costume this year.  I enlisted some friends, told them this year it was personal, that I needed their help to exorcise this literary demon from my soul.

I'm glad I have friends loyal enough to follow me down this freaky rabbit hole.  We horrified many partygoers who shrank from us and hid in corners covering their faces.  Looks like I'm not the only person who has a visceral reaction to A Clockwork Orange.

It's also possible I have now classically conditioned some of my friends to have an aversion to me.

The tarot card/crystal ball reader returned this year.  My crystal ball reading involved delving into past lives, two of which appeared.  In the first life I was a swindler who was killed by an angry mob outside a castle.

The psychic reader said past lives only show up in readings to teach us something.  He said my past life was trying to tell me to remain honest and true to myself but that's not the lesson I took away from it; my takeaway was don't swindle, it won't end well, people will beat you.

My second past life was a dud.  He just kind of sat there, didn't do much of interest.  The psychic reader couldn't figure out what to do with him so I said, "Hey, what are you trying to tell me, past life?  Not to be boring?"  I love making funny jokes during psychic readings.

Halloween is the one party of the year where we parents get buckwild and stay up way past midnight. Alex and I awoke the next morning to a house that no longer looked like ours.  It looked like a trash heap.  It smelled like beer.  Several of my Halloween decorations were broken and all of the disposable cameras had been used to the fullest.  I'm cringing thinking about getting them developed.  Good Lord, think of all the butt shots.

Brady and a deflated football ha ha ha

the pumpkin must have read A Clockwork Orange too

We host the Parents Gone Wild edition of Halloween every year; our friends host the family-friendlier pumpkin carving party.  Both events are happily anticipated.  The parents like getting buckwild and the kids like flinging pumpkin guts at each other.

The Loosh carving with the besties he's known since he was a babe.  
They're more siblings than friends the way these kids bicker.

I loved the pumpkin carving party this year because I pilfered some handmade tamales and carried them home in my purse to eat later.  Is that considered swindling?  Because if it is, I am not doing a good job of learning from my past life.

in my defense, tamales are delicious

We got some rough news from the vet recently.  The writing's on the wall regarding our sweet old schnauzer, Oscar.  He's struggling, is already deaf and rapidly going blind.  He falls often and has a hard time standing back up when he does.  But sometimes we catch him running across the yard with his tail wagging.  Sometimes he still cozies up to us and licks our hands.

While it may not be "time" just yet, it's definitely time for us to give him a lot of love, and begin saying our goodbyes, and feed him lots and lots of his favorite thing in the world, grilled salmon.  It's all yours buddy, all the salmon, take it.

The ode I wrote to Oscar several years ago is here.

We love you, old man.  You've been a good, good dog for 14 years.
We'll send you off properly, promise.  

I'm off to hug my crabby old dog then WriMo the hell out of November.
Let's birth that calf.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I'm just too young

She's Back
I don't have much time to chat; I'm knee deep in Halloween party preparations.  That's a literal statement because I currently have my stockpile of Halloween decorations stacked in the entryway.

Our house is usually thoroughly decorated by the 1st of October but it's taking me longer to organize this year because of life and its numerous commitments and stresses. We therefore shuffle through scattered severed fingers and fake spider webs in the hall the way one would shuffle through crisp brightly-colored Autumn leaves on a park trail.

I've realized I can no longer decorate the outside of my house for Halloween, which has deflated my enthusiasm somewhat.  Last week I placed fake tombstones in their usual location in the yard but returned thirty seconds later to find my gleeful desert mutt Natani chewing through them with rapturous joy. It was a welcome present from the mommy to her dog child and she thanked me for it with many styrofoam-laden kisses.

My dog trainer comes frequently so, believe it or not, things are calming slightly on the dog front. My dog trainer is so intimidating that when she tells Natani to "sit" our whole family sits.  I've never seen her smile.  She told me once I'm being "a pushover, a total pansy" when it comes to the dog.  It's true but it hurt my feelings all the same.

There has not been a dull moment with this dog since the kids and I grabbed her out of the desert. For instance, she likes to chase bees but the recent day she finally caught one was the day we realized she has a serious bee allergy.  Her face puffed, her skin turned red, her eyes swelled, she gave up on life  --

her face is not supposed to look like that
but congrats, dog, you finally caught one of the little f*ckers

A dose of vet-directed Benadryl knocked her out cold but she still scratched at her face constantly in her sleep --

She recovered and has gone back to chasing bees.  Dogs can be stupid.

We've done quite a bit of hiking this fall.  We went to Mount Rainier with some friends and rented a cozy cabin with a fireplace, a dart board, and a hot tub.  Add a few bottles of wine, as we most assuredly did, and you have a recipe for either fun or tragedy.  Ours went the "fun" route but that was pure luck.

Mount Rainier is one of my favorite places to hike because I dislike "tree hiking." After five minutes of walking through trees, trees, more trees, I'm bored out of my mind.  I would rather hike through a parking lot because at least you won't get your boots muddy AND you can play the license plate game.

But Mount Rainier offers wide-open trails and subsequent wide-open views of the volcano towering above.  I will never tire of hiking there because it often looks like this --

However, when it's socked in by clouds, you get something more like this --

We did the fireman carry with Lucien when he got grumpy
which was often
because he did not believe we were on a volcano

Smile, son, I swear it's right behind us

We are lucky Mount Rainier is only a couple hours away.  We will return when weather conditions are more favorable and less likely to tick off the children.

Coco turned 6 and chose to have her birthday party at the gymnastics academy.  She paired her favorite sparkly blue gymnastics leotard with pink fringed Minnetonka boots.  I have always thought gymnastics paired well with cultural appropriation and am thrilled to discover she feels the same.

that's my girl

I can get mushy here and discuss the rapid growth of my children and how it both delights and depresses me.  Coco's age is mystifying; her current argumentative attitude suggests a much older person yet her huggable adorable self reminds me of the baby she once was.  I want to both reprimand her for sassing me and squeeze her face while babbling baby talk.  Sometimes I vacillate rapidly between the two;  it's a confusing time for both of us.

My feelings for Lucien are no different.  He holds my hand less frequently now and has begun rolling his damn eyes at his parents, how dare he!  He also now wears the same size shoe as me.  I don't want him to grow up, don't want him to stop cuddling with me on the couch, don't want him to leave me, ever, yet I can't wait for him to grow out of his current rain boots because they're cool and mine have recently sprung a leak.

Children aside, I also recently had dinner with President Barack Obama.

I attended a fundraiser for Senator Patty Murray and President Obama was the "special guest."  We have supported Patty Murray for years with our votes but we attended her fundraiser to see and hear the President.  She probably understood he was the bigger draw and didn't take offense.

If your politics differ, I hope you can still feel happy for me -- I'm a diehard liberal and a fangirl when it comes to Obama.  My besties feel much the same. We texted each other pictures of our possible wardrobe selections for the event beforehand and voted on each others options.  We've never done that before.

I ended up at the nurse's union table because my friends are affiliated.  I am not a nurse.  It's a long story how I wound up in that chair but they welcomed me with open arms and I'm filled with gratitude for the opportunity to join them for the event.

One of the women at the table was introduced as "the bookeeper" but I heard "the goalkeeper" and then imagined people in the nurse's union fighting each other in grueling sports matches during their lunch breaks.  I bet I'm not wrong!

Obama was great, though for me it's unlikely he'd be anything else.  We all know he's an incredible orator.  He was inspiring.  He was funny.  He also looks tired.  I do not envy him his job, what a thankless tedious thing it is.

We rushed forward and tried to shake his hand as he left the room.  "The goalkeeper" at our table scored a handshake but we all missed.  That's OK, I'm not sure I wanted the Secret Service guys looking at me like that.  Their jobs are also tough.

Alex and I are still shopping for an RV.  We can't decide on the model.  We want something small, super compact, yet able to sleep four people.  It's harder than we imagined.  There is nothing that's perfect, nothing that checks all the boxes, and as of now we can't agree on which boxes can remain unchecked.

In the meantime we will continue to attend RV shows and shrug at each other.  The kids will continue to get bored and say things like, "Oh my God, another RV show?"  It's a huge purchase and we will not commit until we are sure so just relax, kids.

This one's amazing but it's four feet longer than I'm willing to go 
since I'll be maneuvering it by myself much of the time around the Western U.S. 
Help me.  

I volunteered for a 4th Grade field trip yesterday.  It was an all-day field trip to a corn maze an hour outside of Seattle grown in the shape of Washington State.  The paths through it are the highways of Washington, marked with street signs and all, and there are landmarks built within with placards detailing the stories of Washington's towns, tribes, and significant events.  In theory, it's cool.

But when you're in charge of a group of 4th graders whose job it is to navigate the Washington State map you're given and told to find six towns/landmarks and answer questions about those very things before you can leave the maze, it becomes torturous.  The worst part was chaperones were not allowed to intervene.  If the kids made a wrong decision in their navigation, we had to let them make it.

That worked fine for the first couple sights because it was in the name of education and autonomy and skill-building.  I was able to hold my tongue.  But an hour in with four sights left to find, shit got real.  I'm only slightly ashamed to say I yelled, "WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU GO NORTH ON I-5 WHEN WE'RE TRYING TO GET TO OLYMPIA?"  because we'd been in there a long time and I was getting hungry.

I may not be the most mature chaperone but they have to love me anyway because I volunteer to go on all these damn things.

I blew off some steam that evening after the field trip by attending a concert by one of my favorite bands, Beirut.  I was tired, though, so didn't fight my way to the front.  Instead Al and I chose a wall we could sit against until the band took the stage, and when they appeared we could stand up but lean heavily against it when necessary to keep us upright.

Anyone surprised I love this band?  They're from Santa Fe with a heavy mariachi influence.

Sign me up, Santa Fe.  Indeed.

I'm off to finally Halloween the crap out of my house,