People from Japan get a kick when I show them that some hotels in New York don’t have a 13th floor because of Western superstition with the number thirteen. In Japan, the taboo number is four. I have no idea if their buildings skip the fourth floor because most of the ones I visited there never went above the third floor. It’s probably a precautionary design – in case they’re really attacked by Godzilla. He hates buildings.
As we draw closer to the year with the Western ominous number, I figured my last post of 2012 should be a recap. But then I thought, nah – that’s a pain in the ass. It would mean jostling information from ghosts of blogs past and present, not to mention thousands of pictures that make absolutely no sense to me now. Besides, many things already came to a close. To trudge them up would be like trying to have fun with an emotional zombie – on the wagon – at TGI Friday’s.
Some traditions are simply over. Perhaps, that’s what the Mayans had “meant” to say when they said the world was ending on 12/21/12. I, for one, can say that by Christmas time – it was a whole new beginning. I’m ready to start 2013 with a clean slate. Hope you are, too.
To New Traditions. Happy New Year.
And this is why I finally put a pass code on my iPhone.
Honestly, I hate Christmas. The shopping, the wrapping, the decorating and listening to bad Christmas songs while I sweat looking for an oil dispenser in an overheated 99 cent store – it’s simply torture. But every once in a while, somebody tells it like it is – reminds me what it was supposed to be about. After a few contemplative pints, I forget about who I might’ve forgotten to gift or tip and let go of the stress. If they’re going to remember me for forgetting them, then I hope Jesus turns their beer into O’Doul’s (please visit this site and tell me why one must be over 21 to enter when it’s a non-alcoholic beer?).
The other day, we attended a Christmas party at the VFW, prompted by our Boy Scout leader. It was a mad house of epic proportions – but that’s to be expected anytime you have a bunch of kids in a roomful of toys promised to them if they attended. Some kids thought it was a requirement to sing the aforementioned dreadful Christmas tunes in order to get a gift. If there’s anything more torturous than listening to Christmas tunes, it’s being forced to sing them, too. But sing ’em I did just to speed things along and help get these kids one step closer to obtaining a flashy piece of plastic they imagine is a toy they need to have before they spontaneously combust.
Then finally, an older veteran stood up and quizzed the children to tell us what Christmas was all about. Kids spewed out all sorts of answers and he repeated them saying, “Yes, it’s Jesus’ birthday,” and “No, we ain’t gonna sing ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus’,” but it was when he said, “What’s the most important gift about Christmas that we should never forget?”
The crowd went silent. He prompted with, “It’s better to give…”
And the crowd said, “than to receive.”
Ain’t that the truth? Because in my opinion, it applies to bullshit as well. Merry Christmas.
Like Christmas, Valentines and Mother’s Day, it’s a matter of time before End-Of-The-World day will be a huge commercial event. Hallmark will make a killing off of apology cards and pubs will have more business than St. Paddy’s and New Year’s combined. Well, that’s my feeble prediction anyway.
I’m beginning to appreciate these “end of the World” announcements – they force you to do things that you might have otherwise put off for the weekend. Not that I believed the world was actually coming to an end but in wake of Sandy Hook, the time seemed fitting to do something special with the kids – on a school night. If they were too tired to get up in the morning, I would’ve said to heck with it – let’s play hookey.
As it was, both boys were absolutely NOT going to miss school on Friday. Samu’s class was making gingerbread houses and Zuki’s class was having a party. Nothing like the promise of sugar and a party to motivate kids to come to school.
But I wanted to take them to see the famed rows of houses decked with outrageous Christmas lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. It’s a trek – about one hour on the subway. Then it’s a walk. Six “avenue” blocks, which is equivalent to a little over a mile. There is a bus that goes there, but it was taking forever to show up. We waited and got tired of reading the neon menu of the Chinese restaurant across the street, “Steak and Donuts!”, we decided to walk.
It worked out because the side street houses were also decked out in lights. Samu, a.k.a. Mr. Christmas, was thrilled. At one point, he said “I’m so excited, I can’t take it anymore!” As for the adults, we checked out the houses themselves, which looked as if they were designed for Tony Montana, and wondered aloud – “What do these people do for a living?”
After we were done with the lights, we took a bus over to Sheepshead Bay and finally visited the “Longbow Pub and Pantry” to check out their Fish n’ Chips. It was voted among the Top 10 in New York and if I wasn’t enjoying their draft beers so much, I might have had a chance to take a picture of it before Zuki inhaled it.
And speaking of pictures, I had “planned” to take a lot. But it’s not easy when you have an overexcited troll with a hungry and grumpy old man (that would be Zuki). He’s becoming a bottomless pit, I tell you. He only had an egg salad sandwich and two slices of Papa John’s pizza before we left…
Check out the full album on my Facebook page if you feel like torturing yourself to more pictures that look like this:
“Have you told them yet,” was the question among parents post the Connecticut tragedy all weekend. Like many of my friends, we kept the news off as we sorted through the best way and time to discuss it with our boys. While I couldn’t predict their reaction, I wanted to prepare my words carefully not to instill fear of going to school, at the same time, I didn’t want to desensitize them.
It could’ve been their friends, their classmates – it could’ve been them. How does a parent have this discussion, without knowing any answers? I still get choked up thinking how most of the victims were born the same year as Samu. Like many children, my boys get scared when they see me cry. I hardly cry at all and when I had, the reason was understood. There was always a resolution, too – but this time, I have nothing. Not even a direction I can point them to for forgiveness because I don’t have an ounce of it in my heart for this killer.
I might even begin the conversation, “Boys, remember when you asked about Hitler and I told you he was a very bad man that killed a lot of people for no reason but that it was a long time ago and could never happen again? Well, I was wrong…”
“And in closing, don’t forget what I’ve taught you about child predators, bullies, kidnappers, drug dealers, homeless psychopaths and serial killers. If The List changes, I’ll let you know.”
When I was small, my parents would have with me, these wayward conversations of precaution by stating a truth they learned as children who survived the War – men can be evil. Unfathomably evil. When you understand because you’ve witnessed what evil we can do, peace is either non-existent or an exception to the rule: that we’re murderers and we have been since the beginning of time. We won’t have to face it as long as there are people who search high and low to give us something else to blame – drugs, guns, the government, disease, the social environment, a certain race of people – take these things away and we’ll return to our upright position.
It’s about as sensible as the deaths of those eighteen children.
I don’t know what to say. There really is nothing anyone can say and I wish those people trying to turn this into a lesson to help their cause would just drown themselves – no parent is ever prepared to outlive their little baby. Unless they can Tweet, “I have a machine that can turn back time and diffuse this whole thing,” I don’t want to hear their opinion on how this could’ve been prevented. If they’d shut up long enough, they could actually let us heal with the silent phenomenon that is happening everywhere – empathy.
Those parents aren’t mourning alone. That’s peace for me.
For the record, I did talk to Samu this morning because his school announced they’d be having a moment of silence. I just told him how last Friday, a lot of little children – were killed. “Were they babies?” He asked me.
“No. Many of them were the same age as you and your classmates,” I replied as tears welled up.
Then he started crying, too. “You mean, my classmates are dead?”
I smiled only because of the innocence of the way children understand. But I felt the pain for those parents who have to say yes to that question.
After I assured Samu that his classmates and friends are all okay, I told him he should appreciate today. That he gets to go to school and see his friends and his inspirational teacher and to make it the best day in honor of those children who will not be going back today or ever.
And for the first morning since school started, he hadn’t once said, “I don’t want to go to school today.”
They say the best way to get rid of a cold is to give it to somebody. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work if everybody already has it. In which case, it’s best to follow the saying, “if you can’t beat ’em – join ’em”. As I write this, I am coughing up toxic-green phlegm and nursing it with warm buckwheat honey. It’s the only cough suppressant that works and believe me, I’ve tried them all.
Apparently, when you don’t have health insurance, you try all the over-the-counter and homeopathic remedies you hear about. And then there’s also the fact that my grandfather was a doctor and as a result, my mother had ingrained in me a certain distrust of “physicians”. After every doctor visit, in the back of my mind I think, “she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.” With the exception of my obstetrician because when it came to being pregnant, I was an idiot.
Bronchial congestion, at this point, I am an expert. Aside from the boys, I battle every year with a cold that makes me hack like I’ve been smoking three packs of Camel non-filters. To top it off, I lose my voice, which in the beginning – the “Demi Moore” stage – could be sexy but unlikely when I’m saying phrases like, “Do you have to poop, because you’re making the poopy-face.” Just give me some horrible plastic surgery and I could be mistaken for Joan Rivers.
Seriously, a tablespoon of buckwheat honey does the trick. I’m hardcore and take it straight – actually, it’s because I’m lazy. For the boys, however, I’ll dissolve it in a shot glass with milk. I discovered they’ll drink anything medicinal if it’s in a shot glass, even fish oil masked in mango juice. Great approach, right? But it’s a bitch to clean.
If your kid is of honey-consumption age, I highly recommend it over any DM cough suppressant which tend to give my boys bloody noses. Not that the blood freaks them out – they love it. They think it’s a rite of passage and smear it all over everything. Nothing like trying to get blood and snot off a white undershirt. And should they CONSIDER using a tissue, it’s only because they think it’s a blank canvas to make blood tie dye art. They display it on the dining table, which is appetizing. At least they’re not writing “Redrum” with bloody boogers.
Still it makes me crazy – although not as much since I started taking Evening Primrose during that time of the month when Evil Overlord takes over. Maybe my hormones never rebalanced after pregnancy, maybe it’s living with three guys who among them, the six year old is maturest – but there were times when I just-couldn’t-stop-yelling.
It used to be tears – I’d just start crying for no reason. Of course, I was working then, and my job in itself was a reason to cry. I don’t know when it happened exactly – but I switched to flying off the handle and it was getting harder and harder to get a grip. Thank God I had a friend who doubled as a guinea pig and tried the Evening Primrose to tell me if it’s a waste of money. Under her recommendation (and for the record, she is nuttier than me) I tried it and agree – it works. You may not win any Saint of the Year award, but you won’t be turning into the Exorcist, either.
In the end, when it comes to being healthy, it doesn’t take a professional to tell you that you the best medicine in life is to be happy. Forget what other people say – or think. You don’t have to tell me – I know too well what it’s like to be judged for my vices and my mistakes by people who pretend not to have any. Fuck them – that’s my prescription. At least it’s a prescription you can read.
Same soup, different bowl – I’m honored to be guest posting at Twinisms, one of my favorite hang outs.
While the mom of two sets of twins is off drinking Mai Tai’s in Hawaii (and taking pictures of hot Samoan men for me), read my blog post here. I’m sure there’s plenty of wine, because Bridget’s good like that, just don’t let the dog out.
The other day, a mom brought up that her son’s classmate spilled the beans about Santa. Her son genuinely wanted to know the truth and she was torn between prolonging the Santa Conspiracy to respecting him enough to face reality. She asked me what I would do and I told her the truth.
“Well, my own mother was the one to tell me Santa didn’t exist.”
She looked relieved – as if it is the mother’s duty to reveal these sordid truths. But what I didn’t tell her was that I was six years old and I didn’t even ask if Santa was real, my mom just said, “You know there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, right?”
It would be a dramatic lie if I said that I was traumatized and scarred for life, but I understood – we were broke. So when the Catholic majority of kids in our neighborhood were bragging about their gifts from Santa, it was just easier to tell it like it is: the reason Santa didn’t leave anything for us is not because he’s an alcoholic but because he doesn’t exist.
This year, for the first time since the boys have been born – we are spending Christmas at home. Until now, Christmas was Grammy’s gig and believe me, she’s a tough act to follow. When the boys were told we’d be staying home, the first thing they said was, “Does Santa come to New York?”
I imagine if I were allowed to believe in the Fat Man past six years old, I would’ve pondered the same question. After all, both my parents were mugged violently a number of times and I already had my pockets picked in school. What white man in his right mind would gallivant these crime ridden streets with a sleigh full of presents and only reindeer to guard them? Unless of course, he had Raging Rudolf.
But these days, people don’t get mugged in New York. They get shot. Or beaten up for being gay, at least in Sunnyside, anyway. But Samu was confident a little violence wasn’t going to daunt Santa. No, what might stop Santa was – population.
On our way home, he stopped in front of the apartment building next door to us. “How’s he going to get a gift to every apartment?” He said.
“He has help.” I replied.
Then his face lit up as he had his eureka moment. “Oh! He gets help from the P.T.A.?!”
Who knows what he’s thinking now. I dragged my feet towards home and thought in the back of my mind,I didn’t sign up for this.
Not exactly Connecticut but like our Christmas decorations?
Public schools have come a long way as far as the school’s hot lunch. In my day, we had “jail food.” Yellow fish sticks with equally yellow tater-tors or a concoction that was supposed to be a Sloppy Joe but resembled garbage. They charged a buck seventy-five during my Junior High years, so I opted for a pack of stale chocolate chip cookies they sold at the “snack bar” for seventy-five cents and drank the water from the water fountain, which strangely smelled – and tasted – like the school’s room-temperature container of milk.
My boys hardly complain about the cafeteria food. Well, Zuki doesn’t anyway. Then again, the boy feasts on his snots and his stinky thumb. Still, he surprised me when he confessed that he actually asks for the atrocity the cafeteria calls a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
It’s gross. Seriously. You’d think a PB&J sandwich would be a standard that even cafeteria line cooks wouldn’t fuck up. But they do – it’s so disgusting, it would make a vegetarian order a hot dog. And the other day, I actually had to eat that crap.
I chaperoned a class field trip to the New York Botanical Gardens the other day. At lunch, Zuki’s “partner” managed to talk Zuki into giving up half of the ham and cheese sandwich I packed for his lunch.
“Oh, Zuki’s Mom,” the partner said, “this is the BEST ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had in my LIFE.”
I figured he was brown-nosing for more but seeing that both boys devoured the sandwich, I, like an idiot – or in other words, a typical food-pushing-mother – offered the boys the ham and cheese sandwich I packed for myself…leaving me with nothing.
Zuki’s partner offered me his school packed PB&J sandwich and not wanting to be rude, plus being starving, I accepted. I took a bite out of that thing and confirmed that yes, sometimes things taste as shitty as they look.
Honestly, the parents who allow their kids to have the school packed lunch for field trips obviously never had to eat it. If they knew, they’d cry tears of regret and beg forgiveness for that act of cruelty. I mean, we’re not perfect, I get it. But you don’t have to be a Susie-homemaker to slap together something – even a mayonnaise sandwich is better than the school’s PB&J!
Plus, judging packed lunches is the highlight of going on these field trips. I’ve seen a kid eat a container of spaghetti with no fork and another kid chomping on a ten ounce flank steak (uncut – no knife packed of course). It really shows which kids have the survivor instinct.
So while the trip was fun and the Holiday Train show was all that it was hyped up to be, I couldn’t wait to get back home and scarf down the contents of my fridge. Wouldn’t you know it – we were all out of ham and cheese.
Unlike baseball, I think basketball is pretty easy to explain – dribble the ball, put it in the basket. That’s how I explained the game to the boys, anyway. Our Cub Scout pack went to a St. John’s basketball game on Saturday and since my husband couldn’t take them, I had to bullshit the boys through the rules. Luckily, there wasn’t much explaining to do because there was a lot of action that kept the crowd engaged and cheering. And that’s all boys really want part of: the cheering and jeering.
Samu didn’t get that the chant separates the syllables. He was shouting, “Defense! Defense!” Screaming the last one like he was dying. Thanks to the soda (and the box of Angry Birds gummies), Samu was his usual nut case self. He was bouncing off the bleachers like Woody Woodpecker. And when he discovered the fans shouted, “You Suck!” when players missed the free throws, he loved that.
You know what else the boys loved?
They’re no American Beauty, but apparently we were sitting on the side the dancers don’tface. Meaning, we got to see their butts for the majority of the numbers. Needless to say, the boys watched that without being asked. The cheerleaders and their human pyramids? Meh. Just bring on the dancers, please.
All in all, it was a good game. St. John’s won, closing and surpassing a twelve-point deficit. Not that the boys cared. They participated because there were plenty of “You Suck!” and “Defense! Defense!” in between. I’m sure the fans in the row before us were thrilled to see Samu use a rolled up game schedule as a megaphone, telescope and feeding tube. I got a kick out of watching him anyway – it’s about the most fun I had…without beer.