MY BLOND ROOTS ARE BACK

be a stripper

Poor Mr. Adorable; once again I plan on laying the blame for my extreme blondness directly at his feet. You would think that after fourteen months of dating, the helium might be escaping his balloon, but no. He just gets more adorable, funnier, and downright intriguing as time passes, which keeps me in a perpetual state of dizzy blondness. I can’t think straight, wear mismatched shoes, and leave my flat with half my unruly hair straightened and the remainder looking like an electrocuted puddy cat. Or maybe I should blame this morning’s misadventure on Cam Newton? So many men, so much blame to mete out.

After previously residing in North Carolina for 17 years, it was necessary for my survival to become a Carolina Panthers fan. Then Cam’s brashness, swagger, and ridiculous talent hit my radar screen like a lovebug on a bumper. I was one hooked fan and saw a glimpse of heaven when my beloved boys were headed to Santa Clara. All those years of loyalty were about to pay off…not. By halftime I was in shocked disbelief and by the end of the 3rd quarter I was bereft. Bed and vats of cabernet would be my consolation prizes.

Waking at 5am to Mr. Adorable’s alarm, I decided to shoulder on and not exercise my Kervorkian cola option, though suicide certainly seemed like a reasonable reaction to my disappointment. Instead, I took my red, swollen-eyed self down to my dark, underground parking garage to head to my perfect part-time job as a church secretary (I know, I know, insert uproarious laughter here, but I love it!) and knew I was screwed the moment I pressed the remote to unlock my car. I clearly remembered arriving home in the rain on Saturday, completely distracted by my date that night, what I would wear, the art festival we were attending on Sunday and where we might have lunch. This handsome man scrambles my brain like potato chips in a juke box. Exiting my tiny car in the very dark garage, I turned on my interior light to make sure I had collected all my stuff and completely forgot to turn it back off. All I could think was that at least I had purchased jumper cables last year when this fate first befell me and Mr. Adorable on a dark and deserted beach. But, they were in my car, which I now couldn’t unlock. Aapis Crappis.

I decided to try my resort’s doorman prior to calling AAA, as today was, OF COURSE, the very day that a brand new pastor was starting at our church. Awesome first impression to be two hours late for the new minister dude. Oscar, our doorman, very sweetly inquired if I remembered that in the days prior to technology we actually inserted a metal key into one’s door lock to gain entrance. A jump box was located and soon my day proceeded, but not before 3 building employees gathered guffawing around my vehicle and had to hear the story of how I had not only left my light on for 36 hours, but had apparently forgotten the concept of locks and keys, as well. Surely the world needs more smart-mouth doormen possessing advanced college degrees?

For all you young sprockets who firmly believe life is over at 50, I can assure you there are many more important numbers that truly matter. Having, in your 60’s, the amped up hormones of a 14-year-old, the possible dementia of a 90-year-old, and the will and desire to live until you’re 85 simply because you are having such an amazing life!

 

 

 

THE $400 BOWL OF OATMEAL

bowl of oatmealSubtitle “The High Cost of Being Late”.

The world isn’t divided into the haves and have nots, but instead the anally compulsive early arrivers and the fly by the seat of your pants and hope for the best crew. I am loathe to admit I am the former and Bree, one of my dearest friends, is the latter.

So when Bree decided to make her first pilgrimage to Paradise to visit me, I was thrilled. She carefully relayed her itinerary, which included leaving her house for the airport at 4:30am. Since she is someone I would never consider ringing before noon, I felt some trepidation, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, even though it meant leaving my adorable little part-time job as a church secretary (insert uproarious laughter here! But that’s a tale for another day; suffice it to say Ms. Ants in Her Pants simply doesn’t excel at retirement) early in order to meet her flight.

On the way to the airport I received a terse text stating she had missed her flight and would arrive several hours later. Apparently Bree had laid out a careful timetable for herself, but at the last moment decided that a hot & steamy bowl of oatmeal at her kitchen table would be the perfect start to her 8-day vacation. When she finally arrived at the airport she was late enough they wouldn’t allow her to board; no problem except the tiny regional airport only has one flight out a day to my neck of the woods.

Pondering whether this was a sign from the cosmos saying go home and cancel your trip, she decided instead to risk driving to LaGuardia to see if she could fly out of there instead, a tiny detail she neglected to tell me in her text. When she finally stumbled through the arrivals gate, she looked like a character from “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” The Walking Dead”. She was frazzled, rattled, and her eyeballs were spinning backward in her head. Did I mention she was wearing jeans, a sweater, and was toting a parka? Peeps, when you come to visit Paradise I kid you not when I beseech you to pack nothing but swimsuits and shorts! In the past year, we’ve had 313 sunny days averaging 80 degrees.

Bree was surprised to discover that the daily parking rate at LaGuardia would cost her $184 more than she had budgeted. No problem; she would temporarily park there and have her stepdaughter retrieve her car and park it at the original airport, except this didn’t happen for 5 days due to the Thanksgiving holidays. Then she had to overnight her car keys to said stepdaughter, costing her $62 each way, because she needed them back in order to pick up her car at the original airport. Then she realized she had neglected to put the parking stub in the envelope with the car keys, costing an additional $42 UPS overnight fee. Add to that the $50 change fee the airline charged to issue her a new ticket from LaGuardia, this entire bowl of oatmeal ended up costing her $400.

For all the New Age, hippy-dippy, airy fairy thinking Bree and I have in common, I will always remain the worrying, hand-wringing planner, while she will blissfully continue to decide on a company dinner menu at 7PM!

A bowl of oatmeal…$400; the value of friendship…priceless.

 

“TEXAS TOAST” PROLOGUE

stylish angel

Image courtesy of kimbiggio.com

Belton Texas 1958

The little girl’s grey eyes drifted off to the group of Brownies and troop leaders gathered around the cookout area half a football field away. No one so much as glanced in her direction. She knew if she wanted to make her move, she had to seize this moment. With heart racing, she quietly slipped into the aqua blue water and made a bee line for the massive ladder that lead to the hugest slide she had ever seen. Up and up, and still further up she climbed. If this went wrong she was in seriously deep doo doo, as her mom had warned her repeatedly earlier in the day not to venture to this part of the pool, but who could resist this? She paused for a brief moment while she gingerly parked her butt at the top of the scalding metal slide, savoring the delicious whoosh and thrill she knew she would feel on the wild ride down. She sighed as she realized she would have to admit this to Father at confession Friday, but some things are simply worth the price. She inhaled deeply as she pushed away from the sides of the slide and swooped down. My God, this was so worth it!

The adrenaline rush she felt as she hit the water was immediately followed by a sense of something very wrong. Where was the bottom of the pool? She began to sputter and choke in a blind panic as she realized she couldn’t gain the purchase necessary to propel herself back up to the surface of the water. Arms now flailing frantically in an attempt to grab hold of anything that would save her from this awful mess, the little girl realized her mistake and knew she was drowning.

As darkness began to swallow her, she suddenly felt herself being half lifted, half drug to the surface of the water by her armpits, where she was deposited against the rough concrete edge, which she clung to as if her life depended on it. Coughing, gagging, rivers of snot and water gushing from her nose as she gulped for precious air, she swooped her sodden hair from her face and glanced cautiously around to see who had rescued her, fearing it would be her mother, and knowing that a whipping with a belt would inevitably follow.

Instead there was a lady in a swimsuit, tall, quite pretty, with reddish brown hair and the kindest eyes she had ever gazed into. She didn’t know this lady, had never seen her before, in fact. The stranger said nothing, just continued to stare into the little girl’s eyes in the oddest way. The child realized that what she was seeing was utter, total, all-encompassing love. She once again reached up to swipe hair out of her eyes and when she looked, the stranger was gone, nowhere to be seen. The child quickly glanced all around to no avail; she hadn’t even had the chance to thank the lady for saving her life. Where could she have gotten to so quickly? She leapt up from the edge of the pool and began to dart in and out of any place the lady could have gone, restrooms, the concession stands and cabanas, but the little girl was utterly and completely alone. As she scurried past the giant slide that had almost been her downfall, she realized where she had made her mistake. The slide’s ladder started in three feet of water, but the bottom of the slide culminated in the pool’s deepest end.

She hurried over to the Brownie troop where her mom was busy grilling hotdogs for the other girls. She had to enlist her mom’s help in finding the nice lady.

“Katy Shaughnessy, whatever would cause you to make up such a tale as that? Our troop has rented out the pool and grounds for the entire afternoon. It’s closed to the public, and none of us have seen this mystery lady you’re describing. I think what happened is you disobeyed me and went where I told you not to and now you’re making up fibs to get out of a spanking. Well, you better think again, sister.”

Katy sighed deeply; this was what always happened with her mom. She was always accused of making up tales or exaggerating, no matter what. As she bit into the hotdog her mom had handed her, she realized she would never forget the expression on the woman’s face and that she would never stop searching until she saw that look in someone’s eyes again.

This is the prologue from the first novel in a series called Freeze Frame. The series follows the hopefully  hilarious adventures of a group of models in the 1970’s era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, who go on to form their own modeling agency called Freeze Frame. It follows their misadventures and romances throughout New York and Europe and exposes why no one in their right mind would want their daughters in the fashion biz.

MY GOODBYE GIRL

IMG_0665REGGAE. What a totally preposterous name for a dog, but my eight-year-old son was just learning to play guitar and breathed all things Bob Marley, Jamaican, and Rastafarian. When I vetoed the idea of him naming this new puppy Bob (which would cause mucho confusion at family events, with several of his uncles and cousins bearing the name. A shriek of “Stop peeing on the floor Bob!”, would garner all the wrong kind of attention). Marley was rejected also; no need to be reminded of a sad canine film forty times a day. Both Jamaica and Rastafarian had too many syllables, which left Reggae as the only viable name.

Several months ago, at the ripe old age of 13, Reggae began doing something quite disconcerting. She would sit beside me and stare at me for hours at a stretch, like she was trying to memorize every detail of my being on a cellular level. There was such sorrow in her eyes, which really freaked me out and I became convinced that she must be imbued with a secret knowledge that one of us was not long for this world. Since neither of us were spring chickens, I figured there was a 50/50 chance it could be either/or.

When she began needing to go outside a dozen times a day and her back legs could no longer be trusted to keep her upright, her vet warned me to prepare myself to say goodbye, probably no later than Thanksgiving or Christmas. Mr. Adorable and I immediately chucked her diet plan out the window and began spoiling her with every possible treat and tidbit. Want to sniff the same blade of grass for 27 minutes? No problem whatsoever. Want to head to your favorite beach and laze under the huge live oak tree for hours? No problem, my sweet baby girl.

Then suddenly, in a matter of hours, her condition worsened so swiftly and she was in so much distress, I knew her Rainbow Bridge moment had arrived. I’d been fortunate over the years and never had to witness a pet exiting planet earth. On the ranch, there was always a dad, uncle, or grandpa around to administer the merciful gunshot to alleviate their suffering after a snake bite or run in with a vehicle. Then, it became my husband’s sad task to make that final trip to the vet’s office; I knew I couldn’t bear it.

But there was no testosterone in sight on Reggae’s awful final day, so off we went, on my girl’s final “bye bye in the car”. I was crying so hard I have no idea how we navigated the highway in one piece. I had a completely different vision of what was going to occur, one that had no connection to the actual reality. I brought her favorite New Age music on my IPad to play for her because it always made her dreamy and relaxed. My pockets were stuffed with every treat we possessed and I was armed with her favorite lovey. All utterly pointless, as it turned out.

The vet gave her a sedative and within seconds she was deeply asleep, rendering all my preparations moot. Once he administered her Heaven Juice, her heart stopped in under 15 seconds. It all seemed so brutally swift and such an ignoble ending to our long love affair. No pomp, no circumstance, no ceremony, no goodbye rituals.

I’m stunned by the number of tears I’ve shed and the cringing that happens when I enter this empty apartment and realize that goofy face full of constant joy isn’t there to greet me. The silence inside my home is screamingly loud. I’ve decided that this will be my last pet; too much pain comes from loving something so much and I won’t risk that again. I’m sure I made Mr. Adorable nervous when he caught me checking out inhabitants of the local shelter on their website, searching their faces for something intangible. Something that would catch at my heart and make me look closer to see if maybe, just maybe…

It seems incomprehensible that, with the glaring exceptions of Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico, our pets are treated with more compassion than we citizens are. No loving pet owner would allow their precious baby to suffer in agony for months because vets weren’t allowed to perform euthanasia. As humans, if we want the same compassion and swift end to our suffering from a horrible terminal illness, we would have to relocate to one of these five states in order to execute what should be an extremely personal choice. Imagine being violently ill and having to leave behind your family, friends, home, and community to live in a strange and unfamiliar place in order that you might write your own final ending to this adventure called Life. Where is the humanity in that?

Someone suggested to me last week that hospice was almost as good an option as assisted suicide but I disagree. I know my mom, who opted to stop dialysis for her acute renal failure, would certainly disagree. She was told she would have a maximum of 72 hours to live after stopping her treatment and all the sweetie wanted was to get out of the hospital and die in her bed, her home. The allotted 72 hours turned into three weeks and while her hospice care was at a rock-star level, she would have jumped at the chance to NOT have a nurse or companion change her diapers or help her shower and dress when I was at work. Sadly, in North Carolina, you are not allowed the option of speeding up the inevitable.

When  I am elected President of The World, which I expect any minute now, my first executive order will be to stock every soda vending machine with Kevork Kola. Drinking one will be your own personal “Stop the world; I want to get off” beverage. I think that instead of spending time in prison Jack Kevorkian should have been canonized. He should receive every possible humanitarian award posthumously.

So, Governor Jerry Brown, what do you say to signing the Brittany Maynard bill by the October 11 deadline and affording the residents of your state the same dignity and compassion we show our pets?

PLEASE GOD, DON’T LET ME DIE A VIRGIN!

I bet this title has Mr. Adorable shaking in his boots and scratching his chin. I’m guessing his blood pressure just shot up ten points wondering where his little Parsley Snip might possibly be going with this one? Don’t fret honey; this is just a little family story, all about baby Jesus, his Papa, and all my crazy-assed Texas relatives.

As always, I digress. When I was either five or six, and being raised as a pious Irish Catholic Texican on a cattle ranch outside of Nowhere Texas, our family had a nightly ritual. Every evening, right before bedtime, my parents, grandparents, and whichever spare relatives with five names apiece were on the premises, had to come sit on my bed and listen to my prayers.

Laredo Porter Wagoner T————–, known to all as Big Red, needing a prayer for that threshing incident back in 1953. I could have foretold that having conjoined twins fighting for control in the cab of that thresher wasn’t going to end well. Then there’s Austin Johnny Cash T—————, fondly called Cap Tee; he need praying because, at age 47 his erstwhile music career (playing both the spoons and banjo simultaneously) still hadn’t gotten off the ground and it certainly was looking like a job down at the Feed and Seed was in his future.

Next comes Beaumont George Jones T———-, nicknamed Gator. Poor Gator had never been quite right in the head ever since that midnight skinny-dipping situation when the water moccasin bit him on his willy; no cousins would be added to our family tree from that uncle. Lastly, Laramie Loretta Lynn T————–, called by all Maria. That little filly needed our prayers most of all, since she became the very first lesbian cowgirl in our family’s history. That situation still could have been salvaged if only she hadn’t tied Grandpa’s favorite pet calf “Smelly” to her Ford F150 and pulled it all the way to Kansas before marrying her wife. Yep, my family needed a big bucketful of prayers every single night. http://saygoodnitegracie.com/2012/10/

Once I was chock full of the holy spirit from all that praying and was safely tucked in and left alone, I always added one special little request that was uniquely my own, “And please God, don’t let me die a virgin”. I certainly didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I knew it was BIG and a really huge deal.

It was with equal certainty that I knew I would never outlive my teenage years; impending death and dismemberment lurked around every corner of that ranch. Falling from the roof of the 3-story barn, slipping out of the towering mulberry tree, slicing yourself open on rusted barb wire and dying from tetanus. Getting a fatal rattlesnake, black widow, scorpion, or tarantula bite. Really, what chance did a scrawny little kid have to grow to adulthood?

It was that concern for my future and needing to lose my virginity prior to my imminent and premature death that had me petitioning Jesus each and every night until my 18th birthday, when my BFF Mother Nature stepped in and rendered that whole situation (and resultant prayer) moot.

With those ruminations rattling through my memory, it was with GREAT surprise that I woke up yesterday morning to discover it was my 63rd!! birthday. Who ever would have thought? I am quite proud of my twin accomplishments of avoiding BOTH geriatric virginity AND premature death.

“The Catholic church convinced me that God and chocolate are great substitutes for sex. Now I’m a nun, a virgin, AND have diabetes.”

“What do you call a 13-year-old girl from Kentucky who can run faster than her brothers? A virgin”

For all you virgins out there (do you still exist??), have an amazing weekend and keep your situations intact!

ARGENTINIAN ANTS IN MY PANTS

Image from drawception.com

Image from drawception.com

Oh oh, my first encounter with trouble in Paradise. I’m either about to be arrested for MAJOR cocaine possession, or El Chapo, the escaped Mexican drug lord, is about to show up on my doorstep demanding to know why I have about 3 kilos of his white powder laid out on my lanai floor. Either way, my future is not looking so glowing.

My road to perdition began about one month ago, when I drew back my Bahamian curtains to greet the sunshine and morning and saw…my entire white lanai floor covered in chocolate brown sand, which had definitely not been there the previous night. As my sleepy brain was trying to process this situation, I couldn’t fail to notice that the entire floor was in motion. Stepping out to investigate, I realized that my outdoor living space had been high jacked by approximately 10,000 teeny ants. Thinking they were fire ants, after years of living in Texas and the Carolinas, I immediately grabbed my laptop and googled “Tiny Evil Bastards”.

Turns out Evita wasn’t the only thing brought here from Argentina; Linepithema Humile came along for the ride as well. As luck would have it, they eat the honeydew that is produced by honeysuckle, which covers the entire lanai side of my flat. Am I a lucky girl or what?  For some reason this season the landscapers had decided to leave the gorgeous orange honeysuckle untrimmed until its bloom cycle finished. This left the shrubs pushing hard against my screens, creating expressways for my miniscule roommates to move in.

Enter my new favorite Man of My Dreams, Joey the exterminator, who sadly informed me that all his beetlejuice would do is kill off the workers, forcing the queens to produce more and more replacement ants. “Don’t even waste a dime on poisons, totally worthless, and yeah, that’s coming from me, an exterminator. If you tell property management I said that, I’ll deny, deny. Get these bushes trimmed back and spread baby powder all around. It doesn’t kill them, just scares them shitless. Trust me on this.”

Always one to bow to authority, especially ones with a giant cockroach on top of their service vehicle, I promptly headed to Dollar Tree and bought their entire inventory of talc. The curious cashier couldn’t resist inquiring, so I opted for livening up her dull day. “I just kidnapped 8 newborns from the hospital down the street and if you don’t stop with the questions, one of those squirts is gonna get it!”

In a hormonal homicidal rage I raced home and fired up the industrial strength shop vac Mr. Adorable had loaned me and began dispatching both the living and the dead to their maker. I was chuckling like a mad woman as I spread that baby powder over every square inch of my lanai; I even poofed it onto the screens themselves, as a way of having the final knockout in this battle.

As a testament of my gratitude to Joey, whose wily expertise allowed me to regain my precious outdoor real estate back, we are currently planning an October wedding. If you think talcum powder is just for stinky baby butts…you would be wrong, soooo wrong.

The only downside to my happy ending is…this powdery substance is apparently permanent; it refuses to be vacuumed or swept up. It is seemingly a part of the floor, which has lead to some inquisitive and lingering glances from the two narcotics officers who live across the way.

As for El Chapo’s eminent arrival, I’ve got that covered. Stocked my bar with a bottle of Gran Patron Platinum, have a succulent platter of enchiladas suizas in the oven and a huge skillet of frijoles refritos simmering on the stove. Figure I’ll get the chubby little Mexican drunk and stuffed, then hand him a rolled up hundred dollar bill, send him out to the lanai and ask him to breath deeply. BTW, I fully intend to collect on his bounty!

WHEN YOUR CURRY DOESN’T HURRY

comcast suxIt took COMCAST only five days to do what no one else has successfully achieved in 62 years. They turned this flower child, peace-loving, OM chanting pacifist into a heavily armed and dangerous weapon of redheaded annihilation. I want to terminate every single Indian citizen in New Delhi or Calcutta who works for any call center. I am now officially a racist.

Those elitist snobs (generally liberal Democrats who voted for President Obarfup) who sniff disdainfully at something foul in the wind when asked about their TV viewing habits and will only reluctantly cop to watching PBS? Not me Sista. I am an unabashed TV baby. My DVR holds such a special place in my life that I prepare it kosher meals and set an extra plate for her at dinner. We get manis and pedis together; she is truly my BFF.

So, when one of our daily violent lightening storms blew her up last week, I was understandably devastated. Since this wasn’t my first rodeo with a scorched DVR, I went through all the usual checklist before embarking on that dreaded 90-minute phone call with Raj or Samir in India. Reboot, check, 3 times. Swap out cables, check, twice. Not even Mr. Adorable, with his backpack of skills, could fix my issue. Nothing revived my darling DVR; she was officially DOA and my 48 episodes of “The Barefoot Contessa”, 20 assorted movies, “The Millionaire Matchmaker”, and 79 “House Hunters” would have to RIP beside her.

Grief-stricken and verklempt, I fortified myself with two Grey Goose dirty martinis prior to placing that dreaded call; here in Paradise COMCAST will not send a repair tech to your home until you have been ground down by Raj or Samir for a requisite 90 minutes. It’s like penance for a Catholic; you can’t achieve relief until you ante up the vig. First, you are required to input every personal identifier God could create, not simply your account number and name, like any other company with a conscience and a soupcon of customer service. DOB, SS#, complete address, how many ounces of lint are currently residing in your belly button, and what was the maiden name of your eighth grade boyfriend’s mother?

Then, suddenly, there is the ear-splittingly high-pitched, heavily accented voice of one Raj, who persists in calling himself Joe, Bob, or Jim. They love to spin the fantasy that they are just around the corner from wherever you are, and are American to boot. “Oh hello Miss Ree Knee. So pleased to be allowed the most intense pleasure of the possibility of perhaps assisting you in your utmost troubles this very evening. How can your faithful servant Joe facilitate your joy this most pleasant day?” If obsequious was a scent I’d be inhaling that and chicken curry vindaloo through the phone line.

Predictably, after 90 minutes of rug-burned knees, holding a flashlight between my teeth and twisting my arthritic bits into positions that would make Swami Muktananda proud, and wriggling around like a Thalidomide baby, Joe sighs. “My most humble disappointment at being unable to assist you in your sorrowing troubles will be most vexing to me for long time to yet come, I am sure. My failure to resolve your sadness will bring deep shame upon my family’s name for many centuries forward. I apologetically request that you drive over two hours tomorrow and the headquarters will replace your annihilated box and cable, most enthusiastically I’m quite certain.”

Joe’s strikeouts continued when Headquarters smugly informed me that they changed policy and no longer allow customers to swap out their damaged boxes. Would I like to schedule a tech house call 4 days hence? No… but what I really wanted to do was rearrange all of your teeth, without benefit of anesthetic.

Arriving home, after a 2-hour drive to and from Paradise, with my deceased BFF on the seat beside me, I received a call from Samir, Joe’s more demonic and much less polite coworker. He demanded that I immediately reconnect all that Joe had put asunder the evening prior in order that his advanced technical team could run diagnostics. Looking down at the rug burns on my knees and elbows, I sweetly demurred; I would wait the four long days. “In that situation it will be most essential to cancel the technician visit; they cannot be scheduled until we resolve your trouble, which we most unreservedly do, over 120% of our chances.” Garrotted and defeated, I once again hit the carpet, knowing at least another 90 minutes of skin to surface pleasure was on the menu. When Samir was thwarted in his resurrection attempts, he promptly hung up on me. Yep, no exchange of pleasantries or good wishes for BFF’s successor, no marriage proposal, no plans to meet to break garlic naan…just a dead phone line.

Today, Day 4 arrives, as does COMCAST tech and hero Adam, who diagnosed and corrected the problem in under 3 seconds. My dear BFF was rescued from the jaws of death and pronounced fully restored, no replacement needed. Did I mention Adam is completely and resoundingly AMERICAN. Amen.

COMCAST…Satan is preparing a special place in hell for you and your imperious ways as we speak. And that, my friend, is the most polite thing I am allowed to say about how much you suck on this PG rated blog.

comcast