Jun 30, 2011

Lego Condo


So about a week before our entire-family-beach-trip, Charlie and I started fantasizing about what the three-story condo we were going to rent was going to be like. I firmly believe that anticipation is the best part of any vacation, so we decided to build our preparatory vision out of the best toy ever invented... Legos.



First, we had to be sure our Lego getaway was in fact three stories, which was the most mind-blowing thing about the whole condo-to-be since we usually stay in like hostel-similar hotels when we go to NYC and when we were kids we'd all cram into one motel room. Second most important feature to capture was our very own pool in the backyard. So I tackled the towering condo. Charlie worked on the pool. Then we connected it together...




... and added the most important factor. Little tiny food.

The actual beach house did not disappoint once we got there. Our family went nuts running up every story picking out our rooms and screaming our heads off. Kathleen is doing a great documentation of the beachy-aspects of our trip. So not to be too redundant, here's what happened exclusively "in the house":

Top 5 Actually-In-The-Beach-House Moments:

1. Kathleen and Charlie leaping in the pool with all their clothes on the minute they jumped out of our two-car Honda Fits family caravan after two days of driving.

2. Working assembly-line style in the kitchen putting away the week's worth of food we went out and got that evening from the grocery store. Then Kathleen said she felt like some group of crazies was going to trap us in the house or hold us hostage... or something like a giant post-apocalyptic flood was going to force us to barricade in ourselves on the third floor and we'd have to live off of our cornucopia of snacks from the Publix. Each eating only one Whole Wheat Wheat Thin a day to ration ourselves.

3. Standing on the balcony two days later waiting for Donny and Anna (his girlfriend) to arrive from New York City. When they stepped out of their rental car below we started screaming. Donny told us that when they rented their car at the Mobile, Alabama airport the lady behind the counter told them (as they were both all tall and clad in black and grey with beautiful severe features) that they "looked like people from the TV." They played it cool, but then quickly got in the car and got all puffed up, gleefully repeating "we look like people from the TV!"

4. Playing our own version of Marco Polo in the pool that Donny invented where you start off as a zombie (in his case a zombie with a wet drooping disheveled mustache), and groaning a lot with your eyes closed had to touch someone else in the pool (pretending to eat their brains optional) and then they became a zombie too and so on and so on. Lots of screaming again. The neighboring renters, a nice elderly couple who walked their cute dachshund dog every day, probably just didn't know what to think. Except to keep a close eye on their little dog for fear of him getting devoured.

5. Mom making us write our names in Sharpie on our one blue plastic cup we were allocated and Kathleen writing "Forget You." (A clean homage to the Cee Lo song).

6. Completing jigsaw puzzles with the microwave timer counting down our deadline... you know to keep the pressure on.

7. Dad with his fishing rod out by the pool, trying to catch discarded socks and diving sticks in the water by casting in an actual hooked lure, inches from little Sam's face. I never doubted. My dad casts like an expert archer hits an apple on an assistant's head. Or in our family's case, like Donny can whip a cigarette out of his assistant's mouth (or is that the other way around?)

8. Always forgetting something that you needed on the third floor. A blankie, the sunscreen, an iPod, shoes... underwear. I didn't really mind going up and down the Vertigo-like stairs. It was kind of fun, like a fitness challenge. When you're spending all week in a bikini next to P90-X girl and a girl who dances for a living... um, you can use some extra steps to keep you fit. I just thought of my kids shouting down the stairwell as my personal trainers.

9. The stairwell itself was especially interesting at night. Everyone had bedrooms on different floors. According to my sister, if like Sam would even peep in his sleep in one room, I'd be bounding down two flights in the dark, on marble freaking floors, in an eerily responsive flash. Have I mentioned we are a family of intense sleepwalkers, sleepwalkers... sleepscreamers? Screaming is a theme. Wait, maybe our family is the group of crazies that descended upon the house after all?

10. Taking my kids around the house to say goodbye on our last day. Goodbye third floor balcony where we had an impromptu afternoon dance party during an impending thunder storm and Kathleen pretended to be Lady GaGa, hiking her cutoff shorts up her rear and prancing around with her "paws up." Goodbye giant winged ant bugs that liked to drop down into our bed right when my husband and I were finally alone, cozying up and about to fall asleep. Goodbye marble staircase that no one (thank God) broke our neck on. Goodbye kitchen counter where after biting into one of Kathleen and Jeremy's healthy no-meat hotdogs, Charlie commented "this hotdog is good, but I think it needs a weenie inspection." Goodbye zombie pool. Goodbye beautiful beach house. See you next year. Don't worry, you'll hear us coming from a mile away. Screaming.

Jun 8, 2011

Teeny Tiny Pool


I love things that are an exaggerated scale. Either really big, like the larger-than-life summer ceiling danglers in the Target stores right now (my kids think the giant corn cob with melting butter that looks like it's going to plop on your head is the bees knees, not to mention the giant orange popsicle with one drop that looks like you could just stick out your tongue and catch it)... or really, really tiny. Like this cute bathing beauty that was living in a mini-terrarium Donny gave to me on his last visit.



She just happens to perfectly match this pop-up card I got in Japan last year by Megumi Ishizuku. Um... like as in Japan in Epcot. You know, the one in between Morocco and America. But Japan is the best store, followed by the one in the Netherlands with all the trolls and Helly Hansen fur-flap hats.


We used to go to the pool a lot when we were kids. Practice doing round-offs off the short diving board, steeling our nerve to leap from the tall and towering one. Doing as many somersaults as possible underwater in a row. Getting all pruney. Showing off our bathing suits for the summer (I distinctly remember having a Coca-Cola one, and also having a hot pint leopard print with the actual cat's face forming right in the center of my torso with sewn-in rhinestone pink eyes... unfortunately not pictured here.)

But there's also something to be said for the spontaneous fun of just filling up a kiddy pool on the back porch with the garden hose and just splashing away. Getting it all full of floating grass and dead bugs, like within seconds. Usually cutting yourself on the edge or on a rock or stick that got stuck underneath, and then the best part... draining the pool by sticking your foot down on one side, collapsing it as all the water (and dead bugs and grass bits) flood over your leg onto the lawn.

Add a sprinkler into the mix, and it's like your own freakin' water park. In fact, I distinctly remember the moment I decided it was time to have kids of our own. My husband was setting up the sprinkler on the front lawn around dusk on a summer evening. And I could just imagine a little kid jumping over it, getting grass all over their wet legs. And then getting cold, me wrapping them up in a towel three sizes too big for them, and feeling their wet chattery body through the terrycloth as I picked them up and carried them inside.

Just a summer day coming to a close. A garden hose. A teeny tiny moment. And it was exactly like I imagined it.

Jun 2, 2011

The Cry List


We always made fun of my mom for crying at movies, TV shows and commercials, especially when we were kids.

She would try to discreetly wipe away her watery shame but she'd have to sort of push up under her glasses (in the eighties her giant blue and pink tinted octagonal shaped glasses) to get a good swipe, so that was sort of always a big giveaway, quickly followed by a "Moooomm... are you CRYING?! Geez!" and the funniest thing, is we'd be watching, like, uh... Roseanne or something like that.

Now I do the same thing.

I don't have giant amazing eighties glasses (dang!) so I can be a little more stealthy about it. But I'm not always successful at keeping it secret.

But here's the deal. I cry at almost everything that is what I consider "a perfect moment."

Now, I'm talking pretty much just entertainment/art/TV/movies/music here. I'm not talking about weeping over taking my kids to their first day of daycare or Donny leaving for New York or when our dad had a heart attack. We (especially me) just don't get very crying prone about stuff like that. In real life I mostly just cry when I'm mad.

But in non-real-life these are things I have cried over in the past, oh, let's say 60 days:

1. Toy Story 3 (like every time my kids watch it, so let's say ten times in the last two months): when the ominous, abused and eerily silent Big Baby (our hands-down favorite character) remembers the little girl Daisy he used to belong to before he became ruined by the world, and has a big plastic baby revelation (my kids always get all excited right before the Big Baby "ma-ma" part and start looking back and forth between the TV and me because they think it's cool when I cry during their shows, Charlie always gets this big goofy grin on his face, but then he sort of tears up, too because he "gets it," which I know will soon pass as he gets older and will just transition into ridiculing me for it.)

2. Bill Cunningham's New York: went to see this documentary about this Mr. Rogers looking eighty-year old man who's life work has been riding his bike around NYC photographing real women in their street fashions but he also happens to be the most influential fashion photographer from the 1950's til now. He is so sweet, humble, goofy and singular in his life's mission that you can't not watch this and feel something. It's a crowd pleaser. But of course, I'm the dork that has to run to the bathroom after to have an "ugly cry." I can tell if I am repressing an ugly cry if I have a discreet single tear that is fat enough to roll all the way down my neck into my bra. That means if I was in private (like watching the musical episode of Buffy in my room) that I would be having a flat-out bawl.

3. Seeing Oklahoma spoken word poet, Lauren Zuniga go on about rows of revelation-promising energy drinks and "little boxes on the hillsides" at a recent poetry, er, jam? Slam? Thingy? Whatever, I was the dork getting all weepy.

4. The opening credits to Game Of Thrones. Every time. The HBO show is just so-so, but the books by George R.R. Martin are so, so good. And the opening animation is like this mechanical moving-gears, little miniatures, music-box-like map of this "world" and it's just so well done and such a neat homage to this amazing epic world that Martin has created. Note: it is not sad. Do I tear up anyway? Affirmative. Other opening credits that make me misty-eyed include: thirtysomething, Cheers, True Blood, The Wire, Sopranos, United States of Tara, original Weeds opening, The Office, and WKRP in Cincinnati... "baby you and me were never meant to be, but maybe think of me once in a while..."

5. See, I don't just cry at sad stuff. I also cry at cool/lame stuff, a quick list from recent weeks would include:
- three to four times during American Idol finale
- am anticipating crying during a Mia Michaels choreographed number during this summer's season of So You Think You Can Dance
- finally saw Crazy Heart, only cried during end song which was best part
- um... cried in Tron... Tron! What the heck!? I like it. Whatever. Maybe it's a Jeff Bridges thing.
- downloading the main theme music from The Social Network soundtrack
- season finale of The Office... ack! Of course I cried. I cry right now just thinking about Michael Scott getting to be a husband and a dad and finally be happy.

Kathleen told me she's been watching a lot of My So Called Life lately. Now, Claire Danes as Angela Chase? I've always said she is the ultimate ugly-crier. You cannot watch her meltdown in the school bathroom or in her teenage bedroom as her forehead crumbles and her chin gets all trembly and bumpy while her nose runs and her lips get kind of all spitty... and not want to cry with her.

Kathleen also said My So Called Life reminds her so much of me at that age.

Huh, can't imagine why.