08 July 2013

Sitting on this stinky ass couch...

So I've been trying to find a way to get back into writing. During any given day my mind will come up with an idea and I think briefly about writing it down but then something sticky will be on the counter and by the time I'm done wiping the sticky stuff off (and emptying and reloading the dishwasher and washing out the coffee pot and putting the 5 Matchbox cars back in the living room from where they had mysteriously found their way to the boxes of raisins in the cupboard) I will have completely forgotten the idea. The ones I do remember tend to be one off statements, more suitable for Facebook. For example, I was very prepared to tell you about my recent bout of memory loss. Or really, more to the point that I have recently been forgetting to flush the toilet. It's not exactly Alzheimer's but I feel like a real asshole if this forgetfulness occurs in a public toilet. I have no idea where I was prepared to go with that. I was also going to tell you about my landlord (who lives next door) and his penchant for playing the bongos. I could go a bit further with a post on bongos since I have a great distaste for them (I personally think they should be banned outside of remote islands where stoned students tend to go “find themselves”) but I think now you all get the gist so fuck that one too.

I was once told that great letter writing begins with describing your surroundings, no matter how mundane. I actually told this to my best friend, Beth, and we now tend to begin all cards and correspondence with, “Here I am, sitting on this stinky ass couch drinking a cold glass of $5 red...” I guess after all this time, it's the only way to start...

So here I am, sitting on this stinky ass couch, drinking a cold glass of $5 red. To be fair, I washed the all coverings of this couch a couple months ago and with it, 2 years of baby spit up and other assorts. My kid is 2 now so we don't tend to worry about spit up anymore. However, now that he is two and the couch has been unprotected from his hands since I last washed these coverings, I can not promise that I am not sitting in 3 layers of chicken nugget grease, grape juice drips and the occasional raisin that has more than one time been confused for a wayward piece of actual shit. Also to be fair, I think the wine was $6.99. I found it by the bananas at the grocery store. The bottle of wine that is. It was an odd place to find a display of wine, right there by the bananas. Like if one went specifically into Ralph's to get a banana and then thought, “I could really go for some cheap wine but the wine aisle is like, 10 aisles away and I can't really be bothered but oh joy! There's some right here! Hurray!” To be even more fair than I have this entire paragraph, there are some serious marketing geniuses at Ralph's as I honestly had no intention of buying a bottle of wine that day but I was buying bananas.

Also right now, Andy is swearing at his vaping apparatus. Spell check doesn't recognize the word 'vaping' but I'm sure it will be added to Merriam Webster by next year. Since I live in California, I have no idea how big something is in other parts of the world. Is vaping popular where you are? It is here. Andy has quit smoking completely and now is a vapper. Ha! A vapper – like Darth Vapper. He started vaping back in February and has convinced a good populace at our local to give it a go. I have a couple vaping thingies that Andy has supplied to me in hopes that I will have as much success breaking away from Marlboro as he has. Alas, the will power is not strong in this one (I'm totally trying to do a 'Star Wars' tie-in there) and I've only managed to marginally cut down. Because I'm always convinced I will one day wake up and be magically cured of the demon tobacco, I have quit buying whole cartons of cigarettes. Obviously this means that I've been getting more exercise as I walk to the shop every other day instead of once a week.

While I'm sitting on this somewhat stinky ass couch, drinking my $6.99 bottle of wine and Andy swears at his vaping apparatus, the Roku box is telling me that it's 7:50 PM PST. ← That was the segue in telling you that we don't have cable. Have I told you that already? That we don't have cable, or a satellite dish or whatever? Because we don't, we have internet television using the Roku. I honestly thought I would hate it, and in many ways I do still hate it (seriously CBS, I hate you and you're unwillingness to contribute content to Hulu)(so stop making your programs so damn addictive so I will stop caring), but in other ways it's been pretty good. I have made it my personal mission to re-watch every single Amazing Race season starting from Season 1 (thanks to Hulu). I tried to make it my personal mission to end world hunger but the US Post Office kept sending back all those shepherd pies I had made for Ethiopia so I thought 'the Amazing Race' was the next best thing. At present, I'm on Season 12, which is pretty good (or pathetic depending on your viewpoint) considering it's only July. I have had more than one (very non sexual) dreams about Phil Keoghan. The last one was where I was at a party and he was going to give me my Travelocity prize but my cousin went and got him stoned so he forgot. I try to not to bore anyone but Andy with my dreams (you're welcome Andy) but I wanted to clarify how non-sexual my Phil Keoghan dreams are.

Lastly, while I'm sitting on this somewhat stinky ass couch, drinking my $6.99 bottle of wine, Andy quietly vaping his apparatus that he has since fixed, and the Roku box is telling me that it's 8:20 PM PST and therefore I should be watching another episode of 'the Amazing Race' lest I get behind, I remind myself that I am now 39. ← That's my segue in telling you that I had a birthday. It was a shit birthday really so I won't bother going into it. I did get a gnome duck which I called Durome (Duck-Gnome)(I just realized that there is no 'R' in either 'duck' or 'gnome' so it's a stupid ass name but I thought it was hilarious when I named him that so fuck it) which I decided to wear on my head. It's not still on my head, in fact, I have no idea where it's wandered off to (something tells me to check by the raisins) but I did have it on my head for the last couple hours of my 'special day' (a day that my kid punched me in the face because he wasn't allowed to take his battery operated firetruck into the bath). So there's that then.

03 May 2013

Making Wisconsin Proud

So I saw this and I really had to share.  It's another Bloody Mary, I know.    But it's a damn impressive Bloody Mary, and it's from O'Davey's Irish Pub & Restaurant in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. 

My only question is...what happens if you get thirsty before you make it through all the salty snacks?  It's almost like you order this as your meal and order another drink on the side.   Oh wait!  It's Wisconsin - the Bloody Mary will come with a beer chaser.   Problem solved.

27 February 2013

...in which we say Good-Bye for now.

So it appears I haven't been around this space much lately. I know this partly because the date of my late post glares at me every time I check this page (in truth, only to check my list on the side to see if other people are more active with their blogs than myself) and partly because people I know who also read this blog have been ragging on me to write something new. I'd like to apologize, I really would, but in truth my heart just hasn't been on writing as of late. Sure, I could bore you with half assed posts where I was just writing for the sake of writing but it would bore you and it would bore me. All I've been left with really is guilt. Guilt for not keeping up. Guilt for hiding away so long I've lost ¾ of my previous readers. Guilt on my life not appearing to be as interesting as it was. Guilt guilt guilt-ity guilt.

 I wish I could say why I haven't felt like writing. In all honestly, I've been out of sorts on the whole in the last recent months. The move is finally over. We unpacked the very last of our overseas boxes last week as my dad (the cabinetry genius) finally finished the entertainment center I asked him to build for me as a Christmas present. I think I might have some sort of post-expat depression going on. Things are remarkably the same as they were two years ago when I last lived here. The kid and the lack of working are the only differences. I sometimes forget that I ever lived in England at all. It's only been five months since our return but it might as well have been something I read about in a book once. The only thing I've really held onto is that I still say fucking “cheers” as a thank-you (yes, it does annoy the crap out of me that I do that). I don't know. I know that moving back here was the best choice for me and my family but there's also this huge sense of failure. I can't help but think there could have been something we could have done that would have changed everything. But que, sera sera. It still is pretty awesome being back here in the States, in California with the sun, at the pub with all our friends....I just don't know if I have the enthusiasm to write about it just yet.

There have been thoughts about closing down this blog altogether. You know, consider this my expat blog and close the chapter on it. I just can't bring myself to do it quite yet. I still think these damn badgers with their damn knives have something to say, eventually. I have to get over this funk to pull it off though. To find that enthusiasm that makes writing easy and the results somewhat amusing. I'm just not there quite yet unfortunately. For the ¼ of you who have stuck around this long, I thank you. I am almost positively sure that I'll be back here writing regularly again some day soon. Ta-ra (as they say) for now.

22 January 2013

It was a beardiful night

So I have this friend, Andrea. I've known Andrea since the very first week I was in California, back in 2000. At the rate of sounding like my (all since recently deceased grandmas), she's a funny old gal. I can get away with calling her old because we've been friends so long and because she knows damn well that even though she's 9 years older than me, I've never thought of her anything but the same age as myself. We used to knock around quite a bit, way back then. I'd go as far to say as we were inseparable for those first two years – it was rare to find one of us without the other – but then, as things go, life happened. I moved away, she shacked up and got knocked up. I moved back, shacked up myself, and she moved to some god awful inland town that seemed too far to drive to on a regular basis. I moved away again, blah blah fuckity blah. We always kept in touch though, as previous inseparable friends do, and since our lives once again mirror each other (married with kids) we've managed to see more of each other in the last two months than we have in the last 5 years. She still lives in some god awful inland town but the distance doesn't seem as bad as it once did.

It was with hesitation that I answered Andrea's text to me a little over a week ago. It simply said, “Are you free next Sunday?” If you are friends with anyone with children under the age of 10, always approach the Are You Free's with caution. “Are you free?” almost always translate to, “Can you babysit?” Andrea and I have set up a sort of babysitting exchange so I was pretty much counting on an evening with America's FunniestHome Videos and Andrea's bairn when I responded back with a positive yes, I was indeed free. I was quite surprised when she texted me back asking if I was interested in going to Los Angeles for the evening...to drink!....and she'd drive!

Yes please.

Because Andrea and I are both Married with Kids, the spontaneous trip to L.A. wasn't completely spontaneous. Her eldest was going to a concert up there and we'd have to pick him up when the show was done. It really didn't matter. It was L.A. and there was drinking to be done and since we are both Married with Kids, staying out until dawn wasn't in our repertoire anymore anyhow.

The evening started out with dinner because it's stupid to go out drinking on an empty stomach. I found a place online called the Escondite and I'm telling you about it half because I want to remember it myself and half because if you're ever in L.A. you should go here. It's not one of those places you will ever stumble upon; you have to know about it's existence. The neighborhood itself will make you question if such a place even exists but I assure you it does. It's great food at reasonable prices and they have the best bloody marys I've had in California (sans pickle) and I still like them even though their stupid saloon doors on the ladies bathroom ripped a hole in the sleeve of my sweater.

After dinner I convinced Andrea to drive to Tiki Ti, which is still my favorite bar in Los Angeles (even though I haven't actually been there in over three years). Sadly, they are closed on Sundays so we resigned ourselves to having cocktails at the Mexican restaurant lounge that was right next door. It was at this Mexican restaurant lounge that it suddenly occurred to me that we were sitting in a swarm of beards.

Beards. Like facial hair beards. And we aren't talking the “I forgot to shave for a week” beards, we are talking the, “I'm not shaving EVER” beards. I mean seriously. One moment I'm talking to Andrea about some leopard skin incident from the past and the next moment I'm grabbing her arm whispering\shouting, “What the FUCK is up with all the beards?” It was like some sort of Twilight Zone moment when look up and everyone around you is holding a chicken.

Because Andrea is Andrea and because I am me and because Andrea and I are some sort of something when we are together in this sort of capacity, we made a decision to try to take as many pictures of beards as we could without any of the beards realizing that is what we were doing. Andrea had some sort of flying fancy that we should approach the beards with this story of doing a sort of web article on facial hair in Los Angeles and “here's my business card” type of thing but I shot it down with a very simple, “I'm not drunk enough for that yet.” I'd like to point out that the camera we were using wasn't a simple iPhone camera or even a point-n-shoot, but instead it was a big ass SLR camera with a super zoom lens that may as well been 10 feet long for how obvious it was.

And thus is how Andrea and I spent our night. Drinking in various dive bars and taking pictures of beards...candidly (we at least thought they were candid through the haze of vodka). I'm sure we just looked like two middle aged women sitting at a bar giggling like middle aged women do when they spend 99% of their time with their children and they finally get a night out – but I had fun. No, I had a blast.

I can't possibly give you all the beards from the evening, but here are some highlights:

 This is what we consider 'candid'.  Aiming the lens at the other person while trying to capture the beard in the background.

My, what a little beard you have.

When "candid" goes out the window.

I believe this was a "via a mirror" shot.

I think this is the only guy who managed to pull off a full beard properly...

...this guy sure didn't.

Sometimes, you just have to try and fit in.

12 January 2013

I'm concerned about our pediatrician's lack of empathy

So I had to take Henry into the doctor's this past week to get him his 2nd flu shot.  The room that we were put into had a colorful mural painted on one of the walls:

It wasn't until I looked closer that I realized that while all the hippos are happy and frolicking in the sun, they are seemingly oblivious to the fact that one of them is drowning.   Or maybe they don't care.

It really puts to question what the artist was thinking, or what the doctor was trying to convey to his patients when he had this painted up.

"I'd really like this mural to say, 'If you don't exercise and eat right, you'll be the fattest hippo in all the world and will be unable to swim.   Of course, when you start drowning you will be so unpopular that no one will bother to help you.   Eat your vegetables.'"