Sunday, February 23, 2014

Time Travel

I road-tripped to Evansville this weekend after a Friday that started with a work trip to a local casino and ended with me hosting Book Club. 

Ali had been puny Friday so she stayed home, and Jeff had taken the afternoon off to hang out with her. I got home early myself, and by the time I did, she was feeling chipper again and in fine shape for dinner and a movie.

With me out of the picture most of the time, they pretty much had a father-daughter 3-day weekend. Like many of our Olympians, Alison's volleyball team failed to triumph, but she reports that the audition went well. We'll find out this weekend if she gets a part in the Young Actors Theater production of "The Jungle Book." 

My Friday outing was a team building, reward trip. The quarterly events are always fun and close to Indy. This was the first foray to a local casino. I'm not usually much of a gambler but I cashed out $47.72 after playing penny slots primed with $5 in free money and $2 of my own. I also got a painting lesson in a wine & canvass class. Not a bad day at the office. Alison, demonstrating what a great daughter she is, thought the painting was wonderful and hung it in her room. (She is not destined to be a successful art critic.)

But in the words of her father, "Your mother has certainly hung enough of YOUR art on the walls, I guess it is your turn." So there it hangs.  

Book Club, as always, was great. We reviewed "The Dinner" which is chock full of horrible, horrible people doing unspeakable things in the name of good parenting. But the writing is so good it keeps you right there til the bitter end, and it evoked a lot of great discussion. 

It was really a bad pick in a way; we were also celebrating a wonderful thing -- our fourth book club member's imminent motherhood. But we're that kind of club. We can mix a Cat in the Hat baby shower cake with a despicable book discussion and still manage to have a fabulous time. For baby showers, we give our honoree our favorite baby books to stock the little ones' libraries. So regardless of the book to judge, we have books to love. So it's all good. 

It was a long day, though, and Saturday dawned with my solo road trip at hand. Alison had auditions for her next play and a volleyball game so Jeff stayed behind to play driver/cheerleader for her. 

It's roughly a four-hour road trip to the bottom of the state, but I was living large because Eric Church was my co-pilot.  For those of you who are not as cool as I am (and Patricia Jackson who was confused about how I could be both solo and co-piloted) Eric Church (IMO) is this generation's Johnny Cash. 

He's twisted and tortured; can't decide if he's country or rock; has a solid connection to Jesus but doesn't much trust anything organized -- religion or the music industry. He's scruffy and cranky and sometimes gets in trouble just by being honest. I can identify with that. 

He's also got a new album out and I have a lot of his stuff already. So we cozied up a bit on my nearly eight hours on the road. Well, I cozied up. He just sang.

It was bright and sunny but still February, so the top was up on my car -- a good thing because I might have been arrested for my off-key bellowing. It was a joyful noise, but few would have appreciated it. 

Whenever I drive from Indianapolis to Evansville, Ind., it's a trip down memory lane. Like most people, my lane has some smooth spots but more than a few pot holes, so my musical choice was dead on. 

I have flashbacks of making that same drive time after time to see this terrible ex-boyfriend who was so bad my father once threatened to tell my brothers how to get to Indianapolis if ever went back to him. The gas stations/convenience store my father and I stopped when he used to drive me to ISU back before he ever trusted me to make that drive by myself. (A story for another day...)

Or the time Kelly Porter Sego and I once chased the cops and firetrucks down U.S. 41 and Wabash Avenue to a scene of a crime back in our Tribune-Star reporter days. (The shift captain was not amused but we got the story.) Or that time last summer Ali and I played softball all day with Jaime and her girls and friends at a field that abuts the highway. 

It's a long way to Evansville from Indy. I was lucky that the snow is mostly gone and the roads were clear, but winter is not Indiana's most attractive season. Without snow to coat the gentle swells and vast swatches of flat field in what looks like marshmallow fluff, it's kind of uninviting. The trees are bare, the grass is yellow and there's not a speck of color to be found.

Except for the Big Peach south of Vincennes. And the huge pink elephant at what has to be the world's biggest display of yard art in the country at Hipp Nursery outside of Evansville. Every time we go by there, I remind Jeff that we have no yard art. We don't have a bison or an elephant or a piece of fruit. Heck, we don't even have a little troll. Sigh.

The reason for the trip was to help celebrate what will go down as one of the most perfect weddings I've ever seen. Never in the history of marriage have two people been more perfectly suited than Audrie Koester and Bryant Burkett. Their wedding was a lovely reflection of them, too.
I'd imbibed a bit more on Friday than is usual for me, so I didn't drink at the wedding. Well, the Friday frivolity and the size of the ditches on the country road that got you to the church kept me from drinking. 

I'm not sure how much drainage a corn field needs, but apparently in Vanderburgh County, there's a lot of run-off. A whole house could fall into those ditches and never be seen again, I swear. 
Or maybe it's a DUI deterrent. It certainly deterred me, I'll tell you that.

I had delusions that I'd meet the wedding party at the hotel bar but I wore my fancy shoes and once I had them off, the king size bed and the remote control sort of sucked me in. I'm pretty sure they managed to party well without me. Plus, I had a breakfast date with Patrick and Patricia Jackson.

It turns out that it's been almost two years since I'd seen the Jacksons. We usually have dinner Thanksgiving weekend but illness kept them away last year.  I'm pretty sure we wore out our welcome at the U.S. 41 Denny's, which is a suprisingly happening place. 

By the time we noticed we'd been hogging a table for longer than we probably should, the church crowd was arriving, but good friends are like that. You may not see them for years but the minute you're reunited, it seems like yesterday and then all of a sudden it's time to separate again.

But we'll see each other again and it will be like old times again.

So it was back to just Eric and me for the ride home. Thanks to cruise control and a dread of explaining another speeding ticket to the Captain, I managed to have an ISP-free journey.  Maybe Eric Church should always be my co-pilot...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cee You Next Thursday

So tonight's "Hey, Mom, can I ask you something," was a bit of a shock.

"Hey Mom, can I ask you something?" Alison asked me.

We were at the Kroger gas station. I was filling up. I'd waited until the weather warmed to refuel and was periously close to Empty. Plus, I had to go to Kroger to prepare for Book Club tomorrow. I might have time tomorrow to shop, but no sense in risking it. So we headed to shop right after school.

"I heard a word the other day that I'm not sure is reallly a word but well. I think it might be bad," she said.

"What was it?"

"Can I spell it?" asked my little Junior Honor Society member.

"Sure. But wait. Where did you hear it?"

"I watching Family Guy on my iPad and Quagmire was making a sign and (some character whose name I forget) came by and said, 'I think the word country has an 'o' in it."

The gas pump clicked.

"Hold that thought," I said, jumping out to finish the transaction. "Damn! I thought. She's only 12.75. Do I really have to explain this one?" 

Various thought ran thorugh my head as I twisted the cap. I sighed and got back in the car. She sat there, eyes huge.

"Well, Ali, that word is just about the worst word you can ever say about a woman?"

Her eyes got bigger. She asked why. What did it mean?

Sorry, Amer. I spilled.

"Well, it really 'vagina' but it means it in a derogatory way. And that's partly why it's such a horrible word. If someone calls a woman that word, they mean to insult her. To say she's mean, nasty and horrible. And if 'vagina' could mean those things, you're not just saying the woman is bad but that 'vagina' is a bad thing. So,  it's just about the worst thing you can call a girl," I said.  I might have said 'vagina' 25 more times in the time it took me to get from the Kroger gas pumps to the Kroger parking lot. I don't remember. It was kind of a blurry drive.

As I'd given my lecture, I was careful to watch for traffic, pot holes and rabid squirrels that might cross my path. I looked everywhere, quite earnestly, except her face. I parked. I took a breath and I looked over at her.

She was sitting there just staring at me with her eyes wide and her mouth open.

"Is it worse than calling a woman 'fat'," she asked.

I looked at her. "You know, honey. I don't know."

And then I hit the grocery store.  

I love it that she will ask me anything. Even if she has to whisper or spell some of it. And I love it that she knows how hurtful it can be to be teased about your weight. I'd like to think she'll never be mean to other kids and call them hurtful names. But she's almost a teenager and she's already had some isses with mean girls -- and one rat bastard of a boy -- at school.

This weekend, we'd gone to the mall and I convinced her to go into Victoria's Secrets. She needed a few thing. "I prefer to buy my underwear at Target," she said, initially. "If anyone I know sees me in this store I will just die."

She came around quickly and even carried her little bag outside the store, although she did have a bit of a moment when she accidentally picked up a thong. She shrieked a little and flung it like David defending himself against Goliath. Other than that, we had a great time. 

She's growing up so fast. It's killing me.

But I'm pretty sure she's too young for Family Guy. I wonder how long she'll be made at me for blocking Family Guy from her iPad.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Not this again

Alison and I have been outraged lately by what we see as the hammock abuse we witness on the way home from school every day.  We really want a hammock and a backyard pool and for summer to come back. 

Seeing this snow covered hammock every day is just a kick in the teeth to all of that. 

We want to knock on the door and say we'll take better care of the hammock they apparently don't appreciate. But I don't know that I have any room to complain about not taking care of important things. It pains me to admit it, but I've fallen off the fit wagon.

Alison drew this picture of me to depict what she thought I'd look like in Key West. We should all be grateful it was  a head shot.... :)

With a trip to Turks & Caicos just 38 days away, I've apparently slapped an extra 10 pounds on my ass. It may be in other places, too, but I'm guessing my rear-facing fat cells were the first to bloom. I've long known they're all still in there somewhere ready to pop out like umbrellas on a rainy day.

I don't think I embarrassed myself on a recent work trip to Key West, but I didn't help myself either. I drank and ate more on that trip than I did that first, really hard Weight Watchers year. I worked out a bit, but not enough. 

Was it the tub of chocolates I found in the cupboard among Alison's cupcake supplies? The red licorice standing happy guard in the Dr. Who candy jar? The wine? The bread and oil?

Yeah. Probably all of that. Sigh.

For those of us not blessed with a body that rejects fat faster than a supermodel can puke up a  sandwich (I don't mean to disparage those with eating disorders; I'm just really annoyed right now) the struggle to lose and maintain weight never ends. It's hard to climb that mountain every damn day.

And I got cocky after I hit the number Weight Watchers said was my ideal 3 digits. I held it pretty steady for a couple of years. I started adding back in some treats and life was good. When the scale started to show bigger numbers, I reminded myself that I was more muscular. My clothes still fit. I was on my period. Blah. Blah. Blah.

In the vernacular of my youth, I backslid. It's a good thing I have a good support system to get me back on track. 

I might be a little more cranky than usual for a few weeks. If you're my friend, you'll understand and grant me a little slack while I repent to the fitness gods. 

In other news, it's snowing again. The captain caved in to our demands for NetFlix and we celebrated with a family movie night with Sharknado. It was delightfully awful. I was watching "You've Got Mail" when the other two tumbled onto the couch.  Alison expressed her dissatisfaction with the movie and Jeff actually shuddered.

"What is this?" she asked.

"It's some awful spappy thing called "Sleepless in Seattle" your mother likes," he said in disgust to his fellow Dr. Who and Mario Kart fanatic.

"Blech," she said. 

He agreed. "Yeah, but when you become a girl you'll like it, too."

I reminded them both that she already IS a girl. They paused.

And that's how we came to invite flying sharks into the house.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Paradise Lost

There's something profoundly wrong about waking up to a beautiful, sunny sky where you wear a tank top and flip flops to breakfast where you share the sun with seagulls and a view of the ocean and then ending your afternoon shoveling snow and ice from your driveway.

Yet this is the fate that found me today.

Our four days on Key West was a slice of sweaty heaven. It was just hot enough that the young man with his tray of icy drinks by the pool was less a bartender and more a medic. The bars and restaurants were just far enough away that walking to them was enough to justify having another. 

And the dark chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick was just amazing.

The people were fun, too.

We left Alison in the wonderful hands of our little village -- Teams Vielee and Tokash, with a little help from Aunt La and even a sideline trip to the Jurkeweicz' for the final touch on Alison and Nick's Science Fair project.

Amer was clost to starting an educational incident when Alison's coach didn't have Ali in the game soon enough or long enough to suit Team Tokash. She texted me of the problem and I cautioned her against getting up to have a conversation with the coach, who I'm sure could take Amy. Amer agreed and settled for a death stare, which apparently was effective. Sadly, the Tigers still lost. But you have to appreciate the surrogate effort. 

It was a lot of work for all of our helpers and it was greatly appreciated by us. Alison was living large every step of the way. She scored a meatball sub from Subway, bacon and white toast from Amer and sushi before I nearly had to drag her back home.

She'd taken a tiny bit of time to send me a drawing of what she thought I might look like on vacation. But she had actually had very little need or thought of us. She was having too much fun.

She was doing her science fair thing as we landed at the airport so we had time for Saturday chores, a work out for me and general settling in. But I was ready to see her.

I called to make sure whe was ready for me to pick her up only to learn that she needed at least an hour more for science. I gently reminded her that she might be overstaying her welcome.

"Mo-om. I am a delight to have in a house," she informed me.

Confidence is good, right?