Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Meeting Big-Time Authors: All In a Day's Work

Meeting Big-Time Authors:  All In a Day’s Work

Last week I attended a fund-raising luncheon for Literacy Mid-South where W. Bruce Cameron, a New York Times best-selling author, was slated to speak.  He’s only just the funniest writer of all time, and I had the chance to meet him!   But to me, social situations where everyone knows each other feel like the front-yard lamb roast in My Big, Fat Greek Wedding.  Me being the lamb.  And honestly, it’s been a long time since my sweatpants and I have been apart that long.

The morning of the luncheon, I placed my hands over my heart chakra, greeted my Spanx respectfully with “Namaste,” (we had a little bad karma from the last Open House debacle) and successfully squeezed into rubber fabric the diameter of a garden hose. 

Arriving at the luncheon, I perused the books for sale and noticed a smaller room adjacent to the lobby where two mom-friends from school mingled with Mimosas.  Obviously this was the room for me, so I grabbed a flute and mentioned to them I wanted to meet W. Bruce but I was extremely nervous.  My friends were no help because they do not meet famous people every day like me, being a journalist and all.

I'm usually calmer after a drink and, I must say, I ALWAYS look better.  But I soon realized bubbly isn’t something one should drink when one’s mid-section is wearing an iron boa constrictor.  

Just then a sweet woman asked me if I’d like to meet Mr. Cameron.  After three mimosas, my swag was more than ready to take on a guy worth a gazillion dollars—I mean he’s just a writer like me, right?  (What??  Dear God.  The oxycodone from my root canal just shook hands with my friend, Korbel Brut)   

She introduced me.  “Heeyyy, Mr. W.,” I said.  “Ummm, sorry.  I called you W.  Wad’nt he a awesome president?” I asked in my Southern Brut accent.  The woman who introduced us flinched.

Mr. Cameron politely commented that winter is so bad in the South this year he probably wouldn’t come back for a while.
As I tried to redeem myself, a champagne burp, sparked by a Spanx revolution, rose and parked in my esophagus, and I was racked with angst because an expulsion of air was imminent.  Should I turn away?  Act like I was whhhhhispering Mimosa instructions to the oblivious bartender?  Or let it fizzle through my nose while he was talking?  That would've burned, and Dr. Oz says that's not safe AND it’s the leading cause of belly fat.  

I couldn't concentrate on what to say because my Spanx were hissing too loudly in Parsel-tongue, squeezing my mid section up into my brain. (Ok.  Parents of teens ARE my demographic, and you haven’t seen Harry Potter?)

Then, I realized if I stifled my burp, it Had. To. Expel. Somewhere.  

I got so nervous, my dress started sweating.  I casually crossed my arms while listening to W.’s writing tips and realized it was my shapewear that was sweating . . . spray Pam.  How else do you think I got the $%@# things on?  (FYI, there’s an online Spanx forum hosted by “Smart Physics Gals and Cross-dressing Divas,” since you ask.  I can’t think of that scientific stuff myself!  For the love of all professions with zero earning potential, I’m a writer!)

Soon another newbie writer wandered up and I bolted for the Ladies Room, exhaling something about squeezy snakes and 
“s-uurrrp-ents,” which I’m sure will surface on Youtube soon.

While cutting off and disposing of my Anaconda, I missed Bruce’s comments about his teenagers, the inspiration for his first book.
In “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” he writes that his opinions are often out-voted and ignored by his wife and girls, but he never backs down from his role as Decision-Maker because—“I’m the Father, that’s why.”

Like Bruce, my opinions are ignored by my kids, but I still have to perform motherly obligations like signing forms and other really important stuff.  Besides, I still get satisfaction embarrassing my 15-year-old and her friends by driving them to the movies, loudly rocking my “Raspberry Beret."  I've totally earned that—because I’m the Mother, that’s why. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting Back to the Gym Shocks My Chakras

Getting Back to the Gym Shocks My Chakras

I recently started going back to GloboGym, as I call it, a name based on the powerful motion picture “Dodgeball,” winner of the prestigious “Rob Schneider Ill-Conceived-Film-We-Hate-To-Love” award.
I didn’t want to start attending again, but a friend dragged me by the muffin top and we waded into the vast, unfamiliar Elliptical Sea.  

My problem is I don’t like working out around people.  Actually, I just don’t like people.  I could medal in Avoiding Eye Contact, and I don’t want to talk to anyone at the gym EVER. (Can I make that any clearer, people?) 

Listen up gym talkers, I don’t want to converse with you because first, I am sweating Chardonnay. (unassuming, yet oaky with a hint of fruit, since you ask) Second, even though I’ve known you for years, I do not remember your name nor what you said to me the last time. That’s decidedly too much pressure early in the morning. 

I also feel like everyone’s judging me at the gym, and I don’t want to see young, thin girls, reminding me I used to . . . well, never look like that.  

Not only an expert in Avoiding Eye Contact, I could also grab the Gold in the Smoke and Mirrors event because I’ve mastered tricking people outside my family into thinking I’m put-together and somewhat cool.  I work hard to be aloof and indifferent, and my jig would be up if people saw me do ANYTHING in Power Studio Jam Dance class.
In a gym, one also exudes coolness by wearing the right clothes.  I noticed right off my workout clothes were out of style.  As everyone knows, ladies now wear yoga pants in which one Vinyasticates, which makes the pants so much more pretentious and yoga-ier than regular sweats.

Yesterday I went to a GloboGym yoga class.  I really don’t "get" yoga so I just watched.  After observing for fifteen minutes, my keen journalistic instinct (not everyone has this) told me I pretty much knew everything there was to know about yoga, except for foreign phrases like “Vishti hatha ashtanga recaca,” which I believe translates, “Vishti has ripped one with a strange odor.”

To me, yoga is like golf.  If I’m gonna spend an hour or two at something, I want to burn lots of calories instead of centering myself.  I mean, I can “center” with Benadryl, Kendall Jackson, Michael Buble, and my Skymall massage mat.  Dang, I’d be all kinds of centered.

I don’t think the yoga siri, or whoever, could read my aura as I watched the class on account of I don’t have a sociology degree.   But my aura wasn’t exactly positive.  As she babbled about keeping our chakras checked and other Utter Hooey, I watched a few downward dogs and decided everybody should forget their doshas, and work on their tushes.

I probably won’t go back to yoga, unless it’s to actually give it a chance.  Because of my unwavering commitment to indolence and the Queen Latifah show, I’ll probably just continue to stay active by cleaning Cheetos out of the couch cushions. 

I really need to get my “asana” stationary bike, but it IS almost happy hour.   Maybe I should ease into yoga by giving the “centering” thing a try.
Do a little Partner Yoga with Kendall Jackson, sing a few mantras with Michael, and become one with my massage mat.  If anyone asks, I’ll be in Nirvana.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sister Act Steals Mom's Heart

Sister Act Steals Mom’s Heart

I love the circus, and I even volunteered to be in a skit with a clown once. I didn’t know what I was getting into—kind of like motherhood. My three kids built a three-ring theater of chaos, creating a whirlwind of mayhem and magic. I’m Bozo with funny make-up and clothes, trying to force all of them and their gear into a tiny clown car, and sometimes trying to force them into my version of what the circus should look like. Both endeavors are usually unsuccessful.

Managing my teenagers is like herding the big cats into the main arena when they know the smell of the raw meat is not coming from anywhere near there. They know that if they remain distracted, they can make a mockery of the poor lion tamer and avoid doing any tricks in the center ring—or the laundry room.

Actually, distraction is an art form they’ve perfected. Late one night I yelled upstairs and asked my exhausted, giddy girls for their soccer uniforms so I could wash them. They were lying on the floor upstairs, and from below, I could only see their bare feet kicking the bannister and hear their giggling.   shutterbug2188

Me (from below):  Go get your uniforms!  I need to wash them!
C:  Mooooommm, we’ll just wear them dirty.  I was almost asleep.
B:  Yeah, I was getting under the covers.
Me:  I want you to get your uniforms.
C:  I want a golden toilet seat. 
Me:  (laughing)  What jersey number are you? 
C to B:  Don’t make eye contact with her, you’ll turn into a (incomprehensible mumble).  Do you know what number I am?
B to C:  Why are you asking me?
C to B:  ‘Cause it’s your turn to keep me.
Me (hearing their conversation):  I'm gonna keep pestering you!
C:  Mooooom, you’re such a NAG!!
B:  Yeah,  go nag DAD!

This is the sweet stuff of my life. My kids sprinkle Gobstoppers and Gummy Bears into my single-scoop, vanilla world, and give me a delicious zest for life—and sometimes brain-freeze. They are the essence of bedlam and bliss, all wrapped up in sugar and sass and stinky cleats.  by Rix Weber

 I never had siblings so their relationship captivates me. Laughter and late-night whispering weave their teenage hearts together, forming a sacred sister-bond of private affairs and pinky swears. I marvel at the rhythm of their dance, an interplay in which they are as opposite as oil and water and as intimate as peanut butter and jelly.  
I love getting to watch them every day in their center-ring silliness. I don’t even mind being the clown. However, I’m pretty sure Bozo never nags.

A Sleighful of Fuzzy Polaroids and Magic Memories

At Christmas my nostalgia rises like the aroma of snickerdoodles wafting through the kitchen.  Of course that would be the “slice-n-bake” kind rather than homemade because, instead of Martha Stewart, I’m more like Peg Bundy minus the stilettos.

When my son comes home from college this month, I’ll pop a luscious Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie in the oven along with some Sister Schubert’s rolls to recreate the aroma of Christmas Past just like he remembers. Nothing less for MY son.   

We’ll buy our live tree and decorate it together with the kids’ old handmade ornaments.  And like always, I’ll reminisce about the magic that permeated our home when little hands wrote crayon letters to “Santa Cwaus at de Nawth Po.”  

Dreaming of racetracks and toy kitchens with real sizzling sounds, my kids used to climb up on the mall Santa’s velvety lap.  One year, as I watched them there within the finger-licking scent of Cinnabon, I realized MY dreams had all come true.  

I stood in grateful silence.  Amid the chaos of scrambling elves and flashing cameras, I breathed an epiphany that grabbed my soul with both hands. It opened my heart like a sacred book, etching within its pages close-up snapshots of dimples and bashful in a smocked dress.  And the timid essence of a chubby little finger reaching for Santa’s beard.

The Jolly Guy gave them a treat as they slid from his lap, but I didn’t realize I would turn around and their hands would clutch car keys instead of candy canes.

It seems like yesterday that three freshly-bathed kids, waiting for Rudolph, snuggled up to Dad as he read The Night Before Christmas.  My two girls with pink, chipped toenails peeking out from Barbie nightgowns.  And my son in his Star Wars t-shirt leaning in close behind Dad’s ear.  They hung on every word, and Dad paused at the end of each sentence so they could finish the rhyme.  

I never imagined listening to Dad would be so hard for them when they became teenagers.

Christmas Day meant the patter of four little feet in footy pajamas tearing down the hall and a wide-eyed, squealing baby girl toddling after the fun.  She was just happy to be puttering behind her brother and sister, learning by heart the meaning of family and forevers and fa-la-la’s.  I was too.

Toddlers in full-body fleece were long ago replaced by teenage girls in boxer shorts.  But I often stroll through photo albums and love on my sleighfull of memories wrapped in Silent Nights and Little Tikes.  

Leaping from fuzzy Polaroids, my snaggle-toothed Cindy Lou Whos bear hug me, and I forget the frustration of finding red icing smeared into the carpet and meltdowns in the toy department.  And sometimes it was the kids who melted down.

Once while Christmas shopping, I almost had a mental collapse changing a diaper under the raised tailgate of my SUV.  Unusually stressed, I fumbled with the sticky strips in drizzling rain while the other kids’ fists were flying in the backseat.  I felt a familiar twinge of bat crazy twisting from my stomach when a misguided Happy Meal toy smacked me squarely on the forehead and a Goodnight Moon book whizzed past my ear.  

Every inch of me wanted to scream, “I don’t deserve this!” but I tried to remember the awe of kneeling beside them after bedtime prayers and butterfly kisses.  That sense of wonder always washed away the spilled sippy cups of exasperation and every bit of drippy ice cream on new shoes. 

These days I am humbled when I steal into my teenagers’ rooms at night and kneel in the same holy spot I’ve knelt in for eighteen Christmases.  The sense of Extraordinary cleanses away the leaking Gatorade bottles of frustration and every ounce of dripping sarcasm on the phone.  It’s that magical moment of the day when I linger over their amazing, lumpy bodies under the covers.  My misty eyes trickle praises to the Creator and I marvel, “What did I ever do to deserve this?”