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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Costume Break

Last Saturday night Doug and I were ripped from our normal routine of veg’ing in front of the tube, arguing over what movie to watch before SNL hit the airwaves. We didn't have to discuss whether a particular comedy was too bawdy for our children to watch because...we had an actual social engagement–my annual bank party. Alex was so excited for her parents to be gone. "Don't come home before midnight, ok?" Um, well, that was a bit of a tall order, but we gave it the old college try. Well, maybe not quite a college try. Midnight is pretty late for us.

The company event was fun, albeit short since we arrived in our typical late fashion from an all-day soccer tournament. At least we got to experience the perfunctory matters where I received my award for fifteen years of service. Woo hoo. (Yep, I'm that old.) Oh, and did I mention it was a costume party? 

Now, our family loves the ghoulish holiday anyway. We've actually been planning a Halloween party for YEARS! Decorations and party favors have been firmly planted away since, like, 2009. Doug and I just keep purchasing quaint party favors for this event we never host. So, attending the costume party, with people who sincerely endorse the spirit of Halloween was, well, a treat in its own accord. Marilyn Monroe, Abba, Lucille Ball with Rickie, Barbie with GI Joe. You never too old to pretend. Speaking of, the theme was "dress your age." You could choose to dress up like someone or a trend that reflected your age. I dressed as Buzz Aldrin, since I came about circa 1969. I wanted Doug to dress as Andy Warhol, but he just wouldn't do it since he had no idea who the guy was...really! Instead he attempted the hippie gig. With Doug's buzzed haircut, he looked more like a Vietnam veteran making a very sad attempt to pass for a flower child.

Luckily we didn't have to cut our night short despite the bank party closing dismally early. A few of us trekked to "The Lounge" where creativity abounded. I asked Doug who he thought would win best costume. He favored the sexy leprechaun, the sexy nun, Little Red Riding hood. You get the picture. But I liked the more unique ensembles. Nacho Libre, Beetlejuice. I even enjoyed a few particularly well-done Grim Reapers.

We hadn't been to the bar in ages. And it was fun to socialize with people other than our kids. For once. But the Lounge, you see, has a gigantic theater-sized TV screen. And despite the fact that we didn't have to watch TV on Saturday night, guess what Doug and I found ourselves doing? Watching that big old screen.

Pathetic? Maybe.

But just listen. They were playing VIDEOS! And we're Gen Xers. We don't ever get to see videos on MTV anymore. And we want our MTV.  Apparently. I was so inspired that last night I decided to rent Rock of Ages–the musical set the year we graduated (1987). And it was like watching a two hour video. Even the kids enjoyed the little blast from the past. (Admittedly, I was wishing for Mary J Blige to sing a little more...)

 Masquerades. Nostalgia. What's going on with us? Maybe we need a vacation. Or, maybe the calendar just needs to flip to November 7 so we can all get on with our lives and have something beyond politics to talk about. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Maternal Instinct? Check.

There are certain rituals in my life I could never give up. Washing my face before I go to bed. Flossing my teeth on the way to work. (I'm a Plackers addict.) Taking my dog out for his nightly wee on the bush. And saying goodbye to my kids whenever we part ways. Despite the fact my kids are now ages fifteen and eleven, I'm still neurotic about this last routine. The other night, Cole had a friend over and I considered not embarrassing him by eliminating my standard “Good night, Coley. I love you.” But I just couldn’t do it. (I believe that I’m probably scarred from the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer in which there is a certain looming possibility of never waking up again. So I must tell everyone how much I love them before dozing off.)

Anyway, my reason for pontificating on saying goodbye to my kids comes from one my most recent reads–Enrique's Journey by Pulitzer Prize winner Sonia Nazario. To say the book is informative is an understatement. And if you want to have your mind flooded with a plethora of issues like immigration, entitlement, racism, poverty, family conflict/separation, read this book. Apparently, it's required reading for many college freshman. I can understand why. Our book club had quite an animated discussion–on a range of topics initiated by this book.

Enrique is a teenager who leaves Honduras, and treks all the way through a very dangerous Mexico to find his mother in the United States. She left him and a daughter at young ages (without saying goodbye), in order to provide a better life for them. Enrique had a troubled youth after the departure of his mother. When he leaves at the age of 18 to be with her, his journey is horrific. And even after he finds her in the States, life doesn't transition so smoothly. Resentment has presided for too long. So, the book really begs the question: Was leaving her children worth it?

I kept trying to put myself in the position of the poor Honduran women.Could I do it?

There's no way for me to judge. In my feeble attempt to compare what these mothers would've gone through, I thought back to the day I took Cole to preschool. Doug took Alex a few years earlier. We both agreed it felt like child abuse when we walked away from our sniffling a colorful, vibrant room with loving teachers to play games and begin their education. Gosh, we'd be leaving them for a good three hours. Then we'd take them to daycare for the rest of the day, only to be reunited a few hours later. Obviously, I have no apple to apple comparison.

The majority of these Guatemalan women are single mothers, living in desperate poverty. Their maternal instinct is torn between staying with their children and leaving the country with hopes of providing more food and a better life. Poverty is devastating. It wreaks havoc on the family unit. I am consistently amazed by my own maternal instincts. But after reading stories like Enrique's Journey, I'm beyond grateful for the resources I have to provide for my children.
My kids. Happy. Healthy. Here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Designer to the Rescue

I took dramatic action last week.

I allowed an interior decorator into my humble abode. Despite my oh-so-chic husband’s doubting opinions that we needed any guidance in Feng Shui, I happily charged ahead with a consultant–and was particularly tickled that a pesky gravel road wouldn't vex her.

For the past few years, I’ve desperately wanted to purchase new furniture since my sectional now appears to have a chocolate milk pattern that, in theory, should come off. But my visits to furniture stores have been fruitless, because I lack a certain visualization skill set. My senses pretty much hit overload when I see over ten sets of sofas, recliners and chairs. I close down. Everything seems so...Stepford Wife. Except of course, when we reach the recliners with the built-in cupholders. That's when I really shut-down. (Ironically, that is precisely the moment my family seems to really perk up.) Internet searches are just as overwhelming. One evening, seemingly after hours of web crawling, I found a handsome leather chair I really liked on the Ethan Allen site. It was $3,000. No dice. Not in this budget. And I couldn't even test the comfort factor.

So, now a lovely girl named Bryn from Brymon’s Home Furniture Store in Atlantic came to my our house last week. The process felt kind of fancy for this plain, ranch-style that rarely finds itself...clean. But, I had the pleasure of bitching to her about everything I wanted changed about my house. It was awesome–for me anyway. And she confirmed a few of my suspicions. I just KNEW the TV should go in a different corner so a wire doesn’t run across the living room. Hmmm. Perhaps I DO have that interior designer's instinct after all.

My new living room? It better be, or I'll be disappointed. Skyline and all.
Anyway, I'm awfully excited that very soon we'll be set up with new living room furniture, barstools and a dining room rug. There’s a teensy part of me that questions the purpose because we’re a family that rarely has guests to our house, because the cleaning lady chooses to come once a month on a Tuesday which means the house is clean for precisely two days a month. Tops. (I keep asking her to come more, but she's not terribly responsive to my requests.) But we're going through with the purchase anyway. It’s up to some of us to keep this economy going, right? Besides, the Schwann’s man comes twice a month. Now, that I think about it, Mr. Schwanns always asks us about the football game on TV when he's here. Maybe, he just wants to try out the chocolate-patterned couch! Next time, we'll grab him a milk and make him take a seat.