Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Planes, Cabs and Revolving Doors

I'm a little tempted to write about how Republican I'm feeling today (and for me it could go either way on any given day). Or about how Nancy Pelosi needs to go to a collegiate sorority rush workshop to learn how to stop talking at the appropriate time in a conversation. But, that would potentially upset us.

So, instead, I will discuss my most embarrasing moment/worst travel story. January 1998 and I am on a plane coming back from spending Christmas in Japan with my father. That in and of itself is a long story which I will sum up by saying that he was teaching there and yes, my parents are and always have been, married. I was a bit...emotional...when I boarded the plane. Truth be told, I couldn't see for the tears and missed that there were two entrances to the plane and if you went in the wrong one, you were basically screwed. Of course I went in the wrong one and had to wait with a very patient Japanese stewardess until everyone in the entire plane was seated and I could walk around the plane and scootch past knees and apologize for my big American self and finally get my seat. Which was, of course, approximately 4 millimeters from the bathroom and 6 centimeters from the galley. And was directly beside an older (and very stoic looking) Japanese woman who was obviously taken aback by my snorts, sobs and gasps of saddness over not being able to see my father for months to come. Obviously, she did not come from a very "emotive" family.

Shortly before take-off, an American stewardess comes flying out of the galley with a big ol' pitcher of OJ for the first class passengers (which I was definitely NOT) and runs into a toddler in the aisle and spills the entire pitcher all over me. It's in my hair. It's on my clothes. It's in my shoes. I'm stuck on the plane for however many God-awful hours it takes to get oneself from Japan to New York. Not. Good.

Somewhere over some ocean, I fall asleep (smelling like a long night of screwdrivers). It's freakin' freezing on the plane. I was wearing my Clemson class ring on my ring finger. It's already loose and the below freezing temperature only shrinks my finger further. I wake to find the ring gone. It is never recovered and the b^@tch of a stewardess refuses to make an announcement, insisting that I will find it in my things. I don't.

Upon our arrival in Detroit, I am stopped by security. I am carrying a symbolic New Years arrow (no point on it- just a feather thing on the end of a stick). I am a security risk and must not be let on an airplane without relinquishing the "weapon" and being questioned. I blame the OJ for making me look "unstable."

Finally, I arrive in New York City. I am spending the night there and will catch a flight to SC the next day. I am starving. I am exhausted. I am lonely. I look like a homeless person. I stink.

I catch a cab to my hotel. When we arrive (at 1AM), the cabbie unloads my bags onto the curb but, understandably does not care to leave his cab on the street while he helps me into the hotel. I had not yet learned the virtue of "packing light" and had souveneirs and gifts and Christmas presents to boot. I had some bags. Lots and lots of bags.

I schlep myself, laden with luggage to the hotel entrance. Only to find... revolving doors. In my defense, the sidewalk was darker than you would wish a NYC sidewalk to be at 1AM and the only doors I see are revolving ones. I did all a girl could do. I loaded my bags into the first pie wedge, shoved the door a little, loaded myself and a bag or two more into the second pie wedge (did you really think I would leave my bags on the sidewalk?!) and shove on in.

And get stuck.

Ten minutes later, I am still stuck in a damn revolving door, grossing myself out from my own stink, trying not to imagine what I must look like, trying to yell to the bellboys some direction that might be helpful in getting me out. Tourists have stopped on the street outside and are shoving from their side of the door, which unfortunately, only served to wedge a suitcase strap even more firmly between the door and the frame. Reinforcements (more bellboys, and perhaps even their leader) are called in. I am freed.

The head bellboy asks me after I literally fly out the other side why I didn't go in "there." Off to the side of the building, big as life, there is a "normal" door. I blame the OJ.

I remember very little of the check-in procedure. Just that the staff yanked my bags from me as soon as I popped out and I didn't see them again until I entered my room. I don't think they thought I could be trusted with them. I summoned what pride I had left (precious little) and gimp up to my room. Did I mention that my shoe heal was chipped at this point?

My mother suggests when I finally call her from my room that I might feel better if I shower and then go have something to eat. I reply that I have already showered but if she thinks I am leaving my room for any reason at all before the next staff change, she has lost her mind.

The next day, I enjoy an enormous breakfast in the restaurant, recognizing no one from the night before. I proceed on my merry (and uneventful) way to Columbia, SC.

To this day, I still hate orange juice and revolving doors. Ask The Scientist.

Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Honest to goodness. I've been tagged to do this approximately 47 times, so I'm going to get it over with. Then I'm going to tag 25 people to do the same and hope that they haven't already done it on their page. I can't promise I'm going to check all 25 of them to make sure. If you do get tagged and haven't done it. Take the plunge. And tag 25. If you have done it, ignore me.

Twenty Five Random Things About Me:

1) I married my teacher. We were both graduate students, so it's not as scandalous as it sounds. Yes, of course I got an A.

2) I always unlock my car doors when driving over a bridge. I keep hoping that someone is going to get me one of those little things that shatters a window when you touch one with it but I don't think anyone I know wants to feed my phobia anymore than it is already. The new bridge in town is delightful, but is much, much too high. Just more velocity for the car to pick up on the way down...

3) I wanted three children for as long as I can remember but thought we would only have two. I got lucky (and have a tolerant, wonderful husband who trusts that I am smarter than he is on topics that count.)

4) I am not a picky eater at all. But, I feel really funny about strange, not completely identifiable meats. Bacon- good. Sausage- bad.

5) I used to own a snake. A ball python named Jake. This makes me sound all granola-y and hippie and alternative. But I'm not. At all.

6) I used to be extremely shy. Painfully. Didn't talk to anyone. No one who knows me now quite believes me when I say this. Thank God for college.

7) I am still happy I married the man I did and can honestly say that I know with 100% certainty that he feels the same. It will be 10 years in July. It is not always a cake walk, but it is always worth it.

8) I think I have excellent taste in food. I'm not promising to be a fabulous cook (although I am pretty darn good) but I can tell a good recipe when I see it. I have found that not everyone can say that.

9) If I had unlmited funds and time and was better at chemistry, I'd go to medical school for fun. I absolutely don't want to be a doctor. The stress and hours sounds miserable. But, I think it would be fun to get all that knowlegge.

10) The best job I ever had was as an adjunct professor at a jr. college. Dream Job. The worst job I ever had was as an assistant in a botany lab. Terrible. I walked out after a few weeks and just never went back.

11) It takes a while for people to make it into my "friends for life" circle. But once they're there, they don't get out. I have tons of "friends" but a very small group of GOOD friends. They are a very ecclectic bunch and I adore them and many of them don't know each other. They live all over the country and I talk to some of them every day, some of them once a month and some of them a few times a year. You know who you are...

12) I hate reading directions. Secretly I always suspect that I am smarter than the people who wrote them anyway and would probably do just as well figuring it out myself. I'm usually wrong.

13) I had my first two children without an epidural (and a combined 25 hours of hard labor between the two of them). I had an epidural for the last one since I was induced and thought that pitocin would be a little much. I highly recommend going without the epidural if you can. They suck. In a different way than labor pain, but they suck.

14) I taught public middle school for 4 years and will probably not return. Loved the kids. Loved teaching. Loved the administration. Liked most of the parents. Hated the official paperwork, senseless meetings and all the crap we expect our teachers to do when they should be educating children. Also hated that bad teachers are so hard to get rid of.

15) I will be happy never to move from our current home. Not because I love it so much (although I do) but because moving sucks ( I should know) and I don't want to sell a house. It sounds really complicated and time consuming and as though it will require an extensive amount of cleaning and patience and disruption of my life. None of which sound appealing. We'll just build an addition. At some point...

16) I am a fanatic about nutrition for children. Don't get me started on school cafeteria lunches...

17) I have the best ideas. I am a great planner. I am not a good follow-through-er.

18) I am afraid to fly by myself. I've done it enough, but it's easier to fly when my children are with me. My rationale is that God isn't likely to take all my children out at the same time. Sort of my own spiritual equivalent of the terrorists buffering themselves with women and children. Traveling with only one of the children makes me not know what to think, so I try not to do it.

19) The relationships in the family I grew up in (my parents, my sister and myself) are totally functional. Parents are married and love each other. My sister and I talk at least once a day and adore each other. We adore our parents and love being together. Sadly, I find this unusual.

20) I have had "bad knees" since high school.

21) I attribute my total abhorence of running to number 20. I may be lying to myself.

22) I love to read and lose myself in books. My sister and I once had a completely serious and rational debate about which Hogwarts house we would have been in. After lengthy discussion, we determined that we would have both been in Griffindor. Duh.

23) I have never colored my hair. The Scientist has said since we met that he hopes I never color it to cover grey. The jury is still out on that for me.

24) I love travel in all forms. International. Local. Cross-country. I think nothing of loading the kids up and setting off on an odyssey. They are all good travelers. They have no choice.

25) I have gotten much more religious with age.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Be Still My Heart...

Some friends gave us (me) Penzey's spices for Christmas and I am becoming familiar with this most wonderful product for the first time. Any comments at this point as to how wonderful you've always known Penzey's to be could possibly get you banned from the blog. If you knew all along, why the heck didn't you tell me? Or send me a gift box sooner?!

Opening one of these gift boxes was delightful on several levels. First, these friends are foodies so I knew the spices would be great. Second, the jars are thick, sturdy, simple, clear glass and I was having visions already of a spice rack filled with uniform bottles of strong, wonderful spices. Third, although the bottles are glass, no manufactured packing material is used between them to pad them. Instead, the bottles are protected from bumping and shifting by piles of whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and Turkish bay leaves.

Take a second to reread that last sentence if you need to. Imagining the decadence of it all could be overwhelming at first...

I've included pictures if you need a visual for how gorgeous such a box filled with wonderfulness
can be. The best part? You won't break the bank treating someone (like yourself) to a little bit of Penzey's wonder for your next big occasion (like a Wednesday, for instance). You can also order every spice under the sun in either bags or bottles. Many of them I've never heard of but there's not a one I wouldn't like to try. I just ordered refills of ginger and cumin and 8 of those cute little bottles.
Just thinking of the spicy uniformity of it all just makes my heart beat a little faster.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Facebook Ruined My Life

My blogging life, that is. I resisted Facebook (FB) for so long. I scoffed at it and rolled my eyes when people spoke of it and giggled about it with friends who were FB free (and obviously so much more virtuous for it). Then I crossed over to the dark side.

Now, I am expecting a call from "Intervention" any day. Don't act like you don't know what show I'm talking about. You love trash reality TV too and you know it...

I'm admittedly addicted to FB. I have joined the ranks of those who use FB as a verb. "I'll Facebook you!" or "I'm Facebooking." My mom, dad and sister are on it. My cousins I never see or talk to (except on FB) are on it. My sister's high school boyfriend is on it (who'd have guessed he and I would ever be comparing notes on what it's like to have three children each!). My aunt is just confused.

She can't figure out how it is that everyone in the family seems to know so darn much about each other all of a sudden. She also can't figure out why it is that my youngest cousin (on that side) and I are so excited to "be friends." "But, you've known each other her entire life! You were already friends!"

My young-ish cousins on the other side of my family aren't confused at all. They're on there and have pages and post pictures I have no business viewing. Looking at their pages is a little like watching reality TV. I know I shouldn't. I'll be no better for it. I will definitely learn something, but it's not the kind of knowledge that is ever going to make one more equiped to run a PTO meeting. I won't understand most of the suggestions and references. I certainly will never have heard of the bands they're listening to. But, I look anyway. And then wonder why I do it to myself (and spend more time than I'll admit trying to figure out what some of their strange status updates mean.)

So, you can see I've been so very, very busy with the FB thing. If you need me, write on my wall. I'll send you some "flair!"

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I did not coin this wonderful phrase. A long-lost aquaintance on facebook (crackbook) did, but I find it sooo appropriate. I am de-crapifying at least the kitchen today. I am half-way there and have reached the conclusion that it may actually be a several day process. So far, I have:

1) Filled a trashcan
2) Collected another trashbag of stuff to be given away
3) Beaten the Crazy Corner Cabinet of Chaos into submission
4) Threw out way more Halloween candy than I am willing to admit
5) Got sidetracked more than once by my beautiful new Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter (thnx Mom and Dad!)
6) Decided that if we are ever destitute I'll be the next rags-to-riches Martha story by inventing some plastic storage containers that don't cost a mortgage payment to buy AND all have tops that are the same size regardless of the size of the container.
7) Discovered to my surprise that I do not own half the Pampered Chef catalogue after all...
I own the whole damn thing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

You CAN go home again

It's true. I don't care what they say. I moved away from "home" (Columbia, SC) six years ago. Since then, I've learned: to make friends and bloom where I am planted, how to survive after a hurricane, when to ride out a hurricane, that mustard bbq isn't the only kind there is, how to be a stay-at-home mom without losing my mind, how to make gumbo, red beans and rice and where to get the best king cakes and... that there are lots of different ways to "be at home."

Since I'm in Columbia for the next few days, The Girls and I went out last night. The beauty of it was that these are the girls I've been "going out" with since middle school and this activity has undergone lots of transformations over the years. Last night, I laughed until I choked, cried, made fun of just about everyone, got made fun of, ate about 3 lbs. of tortilla chips and salsa, compared notes on children, gossiped, giggled like a school girl, and got some suggestions for good books, restaurants and lip gloss. Oh, and we got a good start on planning our 20th high school reunion. Not that we want to plan it. We mostly just laid down some rules about how we thought the planners could really screw it up. And not that we're that old either. I'm not saying my 20th is right around the corner. I'm just saying it's going to happen at some point and that it may or may not be the next big post-HS milestone. So, don't go making any assumptions.

My favorite part of last night was that no one really changes all that much. We've mellowed with age (thank God) and have a good bit more sense than we used to (thank God). The wonderful qualities of each one of us that made us friends to begin with have only gotten more pronounced now that we've had a few decades to season them and finish digging them out from under teenage insecurity. But, the girls I met in fifth grade are still there. They're just funnier, kinder, wiser, and more beautiful now. Thank God.

It's so, so, good to be home.