I Think I’m Eating Japanese


Don’t ever do this: go to FAO Schwartz the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It definitely goes down as one of those ‘who’s-bright-idea-was-this-anyway” moments and for once in my life, it wasn’t mine. My husband came up with it and I’m thinking it was a result of the “Tito’s” party the night before – he was brain damaged.


Of course, I could’ve stopped the insanity before it started when we saw there was a line to get in the stupid place. It was roped off like “Studio 54” and a frazzled looking employee dressed as a tin soldier, was failing miserably to keep order. The problem is the bad-stroller-drivers. I realize it’s a toy store, but when it’s as crowded as a Tokyo subway, can we please leave the strollers outside with the irritable granddads?


And another thing, antiperspirant may be illegal in France, but when you guys are visiting here, do us a favor and put it on, okay?


So, thankfully my husband didn’t kill anybody the torturous twenty-minutes we were in there. I decided not to push our luck and go straight for lunch instead of putzing around. We still had a ton of leftovers at home, but I was done with them. There’s only so much of your own cooking you can eat – even Samu was saying “no” to pumpkin pie and that’s like me saying “no” to beer – red alert.


To justify eating out when we had so much leftovers, we went for Japanese food because sadly, I can’t cook Japanese cuisine. Menkui Tei on 56th Street between Fifth and Avenue of the Americas, is a ramen shop I used to frequent way before having the midgets. It was still there, although renovated and upgraded from the “ramen shop” feel.


Two orders of gyoza (pork dumplings), one tatsuage (fried chicken pieces), two salmon onigiri, and a bowl of ramen. That’s what the midgets ate.


This food is yummy, mommy – not like your cooking


Mind you, the bowl of ramen was supposed to be for me. They hijacked it. In their defense, the food was really good. The gyoza was delicious (Zuki let me have one). Crispy bottom, just enough nira (garlic stems). Bet Ava and Grace are drooling right now – I know I am, the boys left me nothing.


As we left, the boys thanked the staff in their Westernized Japanese saying, “origato” instead of arigato but the Maitre d’ smiled and why should I care? Because the next time, I’m going alone so I can eat.

Stuffing Is Easy As Pie


After all the shopping, drinking, cooking, drinking, cleaning and fretting – I can honestly say, it was all worth it just to hear Samu say, “This was the best Thanksgiving ever.”


Of course, we made way too much food – three pounds of homemade gnocchi we never got to cook – what was I thinking? Our dinner guest was human – not Big Foot.


Seeing how there’s so much food left over, this post will be the cooking edition – if anything to show I know how to turn on a stove.


For us the party started on Wednesday night. A trip to Sorrisso’s, in Astoria, to score our Thanksgiving entree: aged rib-eye steak. Yeah, yeah – we know turkey is the tradition, but no one in my family even likes turkey. And I have a hard enough time dealing with roasting a little chicken, forget stuffing a twelve-pound turkey – that’s like cooking a baby.


Other folks can eat their babies, uh…I mean, turkeys – we’ll stick to regular blood.


After Sorisso’s, we had Thanksgiving eve dinner at Sweet Afton. I meant to bake the pumpkin pie that same evening but two rounds later, I realized that was a stupid idea. Luckily, we had a turkey-less oven and baked it early Thursday morning. What ticked me off was it was Samu’s idea to have homemade pumpkin pie but Zuki was the one who wound up helping me. The next time Samu requests a homemade dessert, I might just stuff him.


And that was Zuki’s request – stuffing. I’ve never really made stuffing before but I figured Mirepoix, chorizos Columbiano, white wine and stock…

Easy as pie. Easier, actually and more fun, too because I get to use wine! I’d say the stuffing was a success and more importantly, I’m so glad I didn’t have to stuff this up a turkey’s butt.

Happy T-day and don’t get trampled on Black Friday.

Losing My Baby


We used to call Zuki “The Prince,” because he’d never do anything on his own. Eating, pissing, thinking – it was all too much work for him to do for himself, especially when his grandmothers were willing to help him out with all of it. I thought the best way to teach him how to cope and own up, was to give him a younger sibling to fight with – or – fight for. Thus Samu was created. Little did I know that we created an even bigger tyrant.


“The Dictator,” my mother calls him. And to some degree, she hit it right on the nose. He’s bossy, arrogant, cocky and smart enough to know how to pull the right strings so you can’t stay angry at him for long. Honestly, I think that he actually believes everybody on Earth serves a purpose – to serve him in some way.


The other day, he asked me if the Scholastic Book Fair at school accepted Library cards because he had no cash to buy anything.


When I explained to him that a Library card is not a credit card, he just assumed I’d give him cash or buy what he asked for.


Silly rabbit. As he talked his baby talk and batted his eyelashes to get me to cave in, I told him he can’t get everything he wants by begging. Sure enough, somehow, he managed to walk out of that Book Fair with a Ninjago book that cost me seven bucks. I don’t know how he did it – considering he cleaned me out, literally, my wallet was empty.


Then last night, he ran over to show me his loose tooth. He was very excited but I – was suddenly melancholy.


Already? I thought.


For me, when the teeth go, that’s when it all changes. And so, I took this picture as the last I’ll see of this baby-toothed smile.

Loose front bottom

And as we still struggle to get him out of diapers at night (he still wakes up wet), part of me is holding on to that part that makes him my baby and so I don’t push it. But then I realize, he’ll be six-years old in less than 24 hours – I better get over it.


From babies to boys – boys into gentlemen.


Well – that’s the plan, anyway.


Like my socks?

That’s What I Want


I really miss payday. I don’t miss having a day job or all the other “joys” that come with it – just payday. And not the entire day either, just the part of picking up the check and then punching out for lunch. Since my status changed to full time “mom” six years ago, I hadn’t had a “payday” until this year. Two freelance gigs that each paid about a week’s pay at my last job, which was executive doormat.


With the money, I bought my iPhone and a pair of winter boots – the rest I stashed for a rainy day. Okay, so that the rainy day came within 72 hours of getting paid and came in the form of play dates, goody bag goods and gummy vitamins and so it got me thinking – maybe it’s time I earn a steady paycheck, again.


All full time homemakers go through this struggle, I imagine. Money is always an issue, but aside from the money, there’s the social aspect for the homemaker, too. It took me a couple of years to get used to dressing like I was going camping 24/7, so when I suited up for the last gig, I was tempted to falsetto “I’m back in the saddle, again!”


For two mornings in a row, I washed my hair, wore pressed pants and – makeup. No, it didn’t rain – as the saying goes when you do something out of the ordinary. But there was this little hurricane that passed through…


Regardless, the job that I did in October was – exhilarating. Meeting new people always is and the fact that they knew nothing about parenting made it even more challenging. They were a group of young, hip twenty-year old kids from Japan, on a tour of New York. They were adorable – giggly, innocent and impeccably fashionable. Their enthusiasm for life was energizing.  In their company, everything held promise – life was positive. Remember that feeling? Yeah, me neither.


Well, it’s been a long time for a lot of things. Like laughing for the sake of laughing. One young lady in the group attempted to say something in English and it came out, “Aaaah – aaaah – ahhh.” The person who she was trying to talk to, replied, “Aaah, aah, ahh,” and a laughfest erupted. Everybody was giggling. The last time I giggled that much, I had the munchies ten minutes later.


I did laugh when my friend handed me an envelope of cash for my part of the tour. It was more like an evil scientist cackle but that was because I was giddy with the prospect of spending it all on me. A haircut, new threads perhaps and shoes – free of guilt.


Well, one out of three ain’t bad.


At this point in my life, I’ve realized that money, like time, chocolate and sleep cannot be stashed for personal use at a later time. I’ve given birth to children – and they take everything – like the government.

36 Japanese students waiting for an elevator at Bergdorf



The Siren Song


I can’t shop at the supermarket anymore because I’m afraid of hearing this one bad cover tune. Two times in a row, I was in Stop and Shop and was subjected to a very boring version of some chick singing “Drive.” Originally, it was recorded by the Cars and even for them, it was a stretch since it wasn’t sung by Mr. Ocasek. But this woman totally demolished the song and Stop and Shop just -won’t – stop – playing – it.


I could Google this song so you know what I’m talking about but that would mean voluntarily hearing it again. I’d rather listen to my kids fart – at least that’s entertaining. At the time, it did occur to me to use the Music DNA app on my iPhone but I wind up looking like  a fool – not hard to do, I know but it didn’t seem the right time to call even more attention to myself since I had Halloween chocolate on sale and sanitary napkins in my cart.


Hopefully, the song will never reach Samu’s ears because he’s like a digital recording gadget. Whether it’s a song, commercial, movie score or video game background tune – he’ll hum it like a digital loop until you’re ready to put yourself in a straight jacket. He must do it in school, too and I’ll find out next week during Parent Teacher conferences – but I already heard his Kumon tutor comment that “He is very…noisy.”


Sometimes, I can tune out his noise pollution because I’m powerless to shut him up. Kind of like when I’d let that telephone recording loop over and over again to “please check the number and dial again” while I was busy actually looking up the number.


Then it occurs to me how annoying the noise is and I just feel like this:


Gas Wars


In this house, gas is plentiful – unfortunately, it’s not the kind that fuels cars. The lines for gasoline in New York are outrageous. Tempers are at an all time high and there’s an eerie tension that permeates through the windshield of camped out drivers in line for gas that stretched for seven blocks.


“Gas Zombies,” my husband calls them.


And they do have a glazed look in their eyes, sniffing for fresh gasoline. They look like slaves as they lug back a full gas can to their car parked somewhere populated, I’m sure. Is it smart we trust these morons to pump gas in the middle of the street? Idiots like the ones my husband witnessed in the “Gas Can” line with an empty five-gallon water jug. Fortunately, the police pulled them out of line and explained to them that it’s illegal. Can you believe, they put up a fight.


A quarter mile line of cars waiting for gas


Taxis and commercial vehicles, I can understand. It’s their livelihood. But the other folks? Where do they need to go that they need their cars so badly? At this rate, everybody’s going to be out of gas – as it is, private cab companies are telling their customers there are no vehicles to service them because they’re all out of gas. Do we wait for 911 to tell us there are no ambulances to help them for the same reason before people get off their fat asses?


Any day now, I’m expecting Lord Humungus to show up at the Hess station and demand all the drivers with full gas tanks to just “Walk Away.”


We will spare you your lives, just leave the gasoline.


Instead, I saw a woman – probably in her fifties – in her walking outfit and going down the middle of the street doing something I pictured my mother would do: she was going from car to car, yelling at the drivers to get out and walk like everybody else!


If I had my tuba with me, I’d have walked behind and cheered her on. Hope she doesn’t get shot.


Another WHAT?


An entire week. That’s how long the schools in New York City will be closed due to Hurricane Sandy. I don’t ever recall the city shutting down for more than a few days for anything. Blackouts, a terrorist attack and a subway strike didn’t stop us longer than three days, but we’ve decided that due to “inclement” weather, we won’t be back in business for a week.


This isn’t the New York that I grew up in.


Then again, according to my Manhattan dwelling friend, people south of 34th Street have no electricity. A lot of residents in Long Island City (a twenty minute walk to the West) were flooded. And in Sunnyside Gardens, giant trees blocked traffic and consequently, Trick or Treaters, from crossing. That’s new…kinda. So, there still being no subway service and limited air traffic, although longer than the shutdown from the MTA strike of 2005 and the air traffic ban after 9/11 – is a little forgivable. What the heck, it’s not like I have to be somewhere.


Obviously, I underestimated this storm. Perhaps it was the name: Sandy – it sounded, so – friendly. Like a Karate frenzied squirrel who lives in Bikini Bottom.


Aside from the boys driving me to my nineteenth (hundredth) nervous breakdown, I can say this time of incubation has lead me to do some “questionable” deeds. Like making homemade pasta of all things. By Tuesday, I had enough of cooking for thirty minutes to be told that everybody was hungry an hour later. Homemade pasta sits like a fifty-pound rock in your gut, apparently.


Have some Lasagne made with one pound of flour, you tapeworm!!


Something I’d never do in my right state of mind. Call somebody a tapeworm that is.


This is what “The Anvil” looked like.

Eggplant lasagne with homemade pasta

I love Fabio. He makes my dinner chore easy. Then again, if I got to do vodka shots with Lou Diamond Philips while making Vodka Sauce, I’m sure my family would never ask what’s for dinner because they’d never have the chance! Seriously, watch the clip and tell me the guy hasn’t gotten hotter with age. The rest, I leave to your own interpretation.


After being cooped up for a couple of days, there was finally a break in which we explored the damage to our neighbors north of Queens Boulevard. I felt bad for these car owners but in all honesty, I was thinking, “Thank God it wasn’t me.”

Where’d you park the car, Louisssssss?

Enough to make an Ent cry. Not that it would ever stop these two from harassing people for candy.

Darth Maul is out of the closet