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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't Call Me Hillary

My heart goes out to a good friend who recently lost her father. It's a big loss. You never get over it. No matter how old you get, how wise the years make you, the world becomes a colder place when dad's not around.

It's been over three years now since my father died. For one thing, I should stop wearing his clothes. Contrary to what others might think, it's not for sentimental reasons. No, aside from that fact that I may look a little cuckoo-in-a-forgiving-way - it's because his jacket is Burberry's. Considering the rest of my wardrobe looks like it's been washed with a grenade, it's a classy touch.


Yes, if he could see me now, he'd cringe. It's hard to believe that of all the people I kept up to impress, his opinion was the one that mattered most. As of late, I've been avoiding paying my respects at his shrine lest I see his portrait slap his forehead and give one of those groans usually reserved for baseball errors.

I'd offer an incense and say, sorry dad. I look a mess but I think gnomes secretly replaced my stuff with items from a mall in the Twilight Zone.

The truth is, without my dad, I kind of stopped caring about looking like an old lady and as a result...I look like a haggard old lady. And, yes - those are my old maternity tank tops underneath my t-shirts. They're really comfortable but I know, the holes are pathetic.

I remember how sad my dad's eyes looked as he recollected of images his own mother. What he must've seen her sacrifice to take care of him and his six hungry siblings. He did everything in his power to make sure his daughters never suffered the same humbling path. But what did we know.

He might even recruit my former gay co-workers to talk sense into me. They'd say, "Don't fall into the full-time-mom conspiracy: too consumed to groom."

Consumed with cooking, cleaning, dropping off and picking up that I've neglected my eyebrows that need tweezing; my teeth that need flossing and my clothes...honey, you look like an unmade bed.

I know, I'm not the only one. It's not laziness, it's priorities - you're huddled in your mountain of laundry, tonguing that fuzz growing on your lip. I feel your pain. Come on, girl - drop those skivvies and go make that waxing appointment before they start calling you Hillary.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Parking Lot

Thanksgiving - Black Friday - Cyber Monday. Only in America could we blow our diet and our credit card debt in one weekend. That's savvy marketing worth protesting, if you ask me. It'll be Occupy Parking Lot at Target, Best Buy and Stop & Shop accusing them of making ninety-nine percent of the population fat and poor. At least you'd be first in line come next year's Black Friday.

If you did risk your life to buy that flat screen television at three in the morning, hope you came back looking better than the turkey you carved up. I tried shopping on Black Friday once and truly, it backfired because if I'm given the time - like waiting an hour at the checkout line - I'm going to change my mind about buying a piece of crap.

The past couple of Christmases, we've been fortunate by being misfortunate. Being a single income family, people have accepted our handmade gifts, gingerly crafted by tiny fingers of exploited children. That would be our children.

This year, I have pages and pages of artwork thanks to Samu's Kindergarten productions. Now I have to figure out an inexpensive yet slamming way to present endless pictures of crabs and robots with a dialogue bubble emanating from their ass saying "Toot."

It'll be the opposite of Martha Stewart. Or it'll be like Martha Stewart on Christmas Ale. Here's my five pint star! Did I say pint? I meanted-ed point.

I used to make home movies out of the year's footage with iMovie but my cameras (both Casio and iPhone camera) died. You know what they say, when it rains, things get wet. I'm writing a letter to Santa...I wonder if he accepts texts? Until then, I'll have to make do with the camera on the iPad. Can you say, cumbersome~.

Besides, the boys aren't cute little babies getting into adorable mischief anymore. They're violent, gross and foul mouthed. They take after their father, you know - Tourrette's Guy, which would make them Tourrette's Kids.

And here's an example: we were walking through Central Park the other day when Samu spotted a lady walking a rather big Rottweiler. Samu's high pitched voice pierced above the clamor of the park as he mindlessly chattered, "Look at that dog. Do you see that big dog? That's a big dog."

Then he paused to catch his breath, perhaps, and the temporary silence created a vacuum for a second before he blurted out, "Look at his BALLS."

That's the Christmas spirit!

My iPhone's idea of a picture

Crabs and farting robots

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks For Cans...Ameri-Cans!

My father's idea of Thanksgiving was to pack the family in the car and drive over the Williamsburg Bridge to Chinatown. His go-to place was "Hop Kee" on Mott Street. With his six pack of Budweiser on the table - it was B.Y.O.B. - our annual feast consisted of House Special soup, snails in black bean sauce and crabs in Cantonese sauce. The fare may have been different from what my classmates were eating that same evening but the aftermath was the same - stuffed to the point of exploding.

Try as I might, I was never able to revive my father's Thanksgiving tradition. It's not that my husband wouldn't partake - he'd eat snails in black bean sauce over turkey anytime. For one thing, Hop Kee is no longer that hole-in-the-ground restaurant with really authentic cooking - it's long since been blown out of the water. You'd be lucky to get a table in under forty minutes on a Tuesday - forget Thanksgiving.

Which brings me to the other thing. In New York at least, it seems Thanksgiving is a day to eat out. Back in my day, only the Chinese restaurants were open for business. Now, not only are most restaurants open, you have to reserve in advance to dine on their special Thanksgiving fanfare.

Ah, no thanks.

Thanksgiving, according to what my boys have been reciting from school, is for showing appreciation for what we have.

I looked at them proudly and commended them for bringing that lesson home.

"And what do we have that we should be appreciative of?" I asked, expecting them to say something noble like family, friends or even less noble like a DSI.

"Americans!" The Air Head said.

"Zuki...we are Americans."

Then the little guy piped up. "Canned food!"

Guess that means I could start a new tradition of serving Chef Boyardee for Thanksgiving?

Wishing you and your family the best and only Thanksgiving of 2011.

Art by Isamu (Russo not Noguchi)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Paul and Tourettes Guy

Over the weekend, I saw the comedy movie, "Paul" on DVD. It stars those British actors, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost - you might know them from "Shaun Of The Dead," or "Hot Fuzz,"....got nothing? Well, if you're not into the wry-dry wit of the British humor, you can ignore this review, but seriously, it's piss-in-your-pants funny.

Paul is my kind of alien. Not like that other ball of clay who was big in the Eighties. Now, please don't kill me die-hard "E.T." fans, but E.T. is not cute. He's disturbingly ugly - like Joaquin Phoenix. If either of them landed on my property needing help getting home, I'd send them down the street in a shopping cart.

But Paul, I could hang with. He's down to earth (yes, pun intended). He smokes, he likes Reese's Pieces and he curses like an art department manager - that's my husband's job and believe me, his potty mouth would make a truck driver blush. Come to think of it, Paul is lot like my husband, except, of course for the obvious - my husband doesn't smoke.

I'm graciously giving this movie four out of five....beer bottles, since stars and thumbs are so cliche. Turkey day is coming up, and if your household is anything like mine - thoroughly gaseous by seven p.m. - put this in your Netflix queue for the digestion session (sans kids if you mind the curse words). I'd stick to movies free of foul language myself, but did I mention my husband is like Tourettes Guy.com?

My kids are concerned with their Daddy, apparently. I found out when my four-turned-five year old asked me how the Parent-Teacher conference went. He asked specifically if his teacher was "surprised to see Daddy."

Surprised to meet Tourettes Guy? "No," I said, "why would she be surprised?"

"Did she say anything about his bald head?"

"?"

I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pajama Fashion Critic

My boys have so much clothes. Between birthdays, Christmas and hand-me-downs, they have bags of jeans, shirts, hoodies and pajamas. Cool pajamas that match. When I was a kid, we were lucky to have socks that matched, much less pajamas. I blame it on the public laundry dryers. They separate a matching item like Angelina Jolie separates married couples.

Come bedtime, my boys are a Nickelodeon nightmare, a Marvel comic billboard. One time, when the younger one was about two, we couldn't go to bed until we located a specific Spiderman PJ'. For an hour we went through the different Spidey tops while he repeated "Where's my Piderman janomas?!"

To this day, they never have to wear the same outfit to bed twice - I'm sure it would drive Freddy Krueger nuts.

Of course, when you add my mother into the mix, they become pajama-fashion-tragedy. She likes to add wool vests to everything, so the other night my four-year old was sporting a Spongebob shirt, argile vest, Cars bottoms and two-toned socks - my husband came up to kiss them goodnight and said, "who dressed you?"

My mom's intentions to keep them warm could have been avoided if we kept the house at human temperature. My husband's a New Englander at heart - they're used to keeping their houses at temperatures that are normal for the Exorcist. After all, if you can't see your breath while you're sleeping...you could be dead.

Until my mother-in-law gave me a pair of flannel bottoms for Christmas, my night clothes were just shirts and pants that were too embarrassing to wear out in public. The flannel bottoms that I got for Christmas, mind you, are not any classier than the sweats - but it's suitable for the other strange New England practice of going to Dunkin' Donuts in pajama bottoms and a parka.

It's a functional look.

I may knock it but it's coordinated and that's more than I can say for myself. I used to think, who's going to see you in your pajamas? But then I got to thinking, there's that chance if, God-forbid (as the Fire chief kept saying), there was a fire in the middle of the night and I had to run out of the house. I could picture the emergency workers being Blackwell all the sudden, "Did you see her pajamas? She should've burned down with the house!"

No. I don't want to be that Pajama-faux-pas person. If my flannel bottoms must be plastered with images of Eeyore or Tinkerbell, I'll make sure my tops are solid.

It's the vests that "make" these pajamas work!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Falling Behind

Daylight Savings week always kills me. Add Election Day and Veteran's Day breaks in the same week and I'm a blithering idiot by the time next Sunday rolls around. Since there was no school on Tuesday, I thought Wednesday morning was Monday again. Perhaps it's just me - I don't adjust too well. You can often catch me stabbing a finger into the laptop's screen as if it's the iPad and did I ever mention how garbage cans that have a step-open the lid confuse me? Yeah, if one's around, I'll gun it to flush the toilet no matter where it is. It's a strange phenomenon.

All in all, the days off were eventful regardless of how it progressed my Alzheimic tendencies. After a dreadful bout doing homework with Zuki, I decided we needed a long walk. We trekked across the Queensboro Bridge on foot towards Manhattan. I figured in the interim, he could learn a geographical thing or two.

"We're walking over Queens," I said as the bridge took us high above L.I.C.

"Hey, Mommy - do you see that guy walking a dog?"

And that was the gist of our observations throughout. I'd point out a geological fact - below us is Roosevelt Island - and he'd ask if I saw that duck in the river. Something tells me he's like my sister - no sense of direction because all his landmarks are moving objects.

When we reached Manhattan, I realized we were very close to my favorite spot for roast duck over rice. I asked him if he was game (no pun intended) and since he was the one to spot that duck in the river, which sparked my craving, he was more than a willing hostage.

Kar Won is one of those Chinese Noodle shops with zero ambiance, neon lights, homely cashiers and cooks that resemble Jerry Lewis. But it's the bomb, yo! If you're ever in Midtown, head over to 60th Street between Lexington and Park Avenue - you can eat like a king for well under ten bucks.

When I worked in Midtown, I used to go there for lunch at least once a week. The portions are for construction workers - even at my most behemoth pregnant stage, I never could finish the entire duck entree. Zuki sat patiently as I placed our one order to share on the table. Before I could pull apart my chopsticks, my boy was already chomping on his second piece of duck. Needless to say, I had no problem finishing the entree this time - he generously left me the neck. Still, it was our special moment - our special place since I never even had lunch there with my husband.

Our school week ended with Zuki's class trip to the Fire Station. They got to see real live firemen and a real live fire truck - not speeding down the street. The Q & A was entertaining of course, with girls asking intelligent, well thought out questions about gear and trouble shooting. The first boy picked for a question asked, "How do you put out lava?"

The fireman replied, "Well, we don't have many volcanoes in New York so..."

Lava is improbable, I agree - dumb question. But while we're asking what firemen would do in improbable scenarios, I wondered how they would handle an attack by zombies.

Goodbye Queens!

What are you having for lunch, mom?

Here's an idea - let's take a picture in front of the fire truck!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Buried Myths

It's by far my worst fear - being buried alive. It comes right after being eaten alive by zombies. Or werewolves. The only reason that being food for non-existent monsters comes in second is because A) they're non-existent monsters and B) I look forward to a chance to break in my shotgun before I become dinner.

There's no way to be prepared for being buried alive. I know - I've watched countless movies about it. All I've learned so far from watching The Serpent And The Rainbow, The Vanishing, Kill Bill 2 and After.Life is that your chances of popping out of a premature burial are greater if you wear cowboy boots.

Now I can add what I've learned from watching Buried directed by Rodrigo Cortes.

If you haven't seen this claustrophobic flick yet, I guess I'd recommend it. Despite the fact that the entire movie was Ryan Reynolds in a box, it was quite entertaining. Fortunately, the character was buried with a Blackberry. If he was buried with an iPhone, or rather my iPhone, he'd have no reception and that's only if he were lucky enough to have battery life after the first phone call.

Although I didn't learn anything about escaping from a grave, I did learn that cell phones can't easily be traced. If you think I'm kidding, ask anybody who's had their iPhone swiped if the cops offered to "track" the lost phone for them. I'll bet they laugh in your face.



Yes it's one of those myths we take comfort in. And here's another. During the North East black out of 2003 when all of New York City lost power, I discovered that you can't climb out of elevators either. The doorman of our office building confided that we were lucky nobody was stuck in any of the elevators because they'd have been in there for the duration of the black out.

"Can't you climb out the escape door in the ceiling like they do in the movies?" I asked the doorman.

"Next time you're in an elevator, look up and tell me if you see an escape door." He replied.

It made me shudder just thinking about being stuck in an elevator during a black out. That's like being...BURIED ALIVE.

It's dark, you're clueless and confined. You have to pee. It was enough to make me take the stairs for two weeks. Luckily, I worked on the ground level.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mow Hair

"The grass is always greener on the other side" is a terminology I recently explained to the boys. For those unfamiliar with it - the term has nothing to do with grass. It's an expression that points out how some people act as if nothing they have is any good because everybody else has it better. As an example for my boys, I told them how my best friend (with naturally curly hair) and I would go through this dialogue about our hair.

I told them how I always used to say to her, "Oh I wish I had your curly hair."

To which my friend would reply, "Oh, I wish I had your straight hair - let's trade!"

I demonstrated how we'd pretend to peel our hair off like a wig and exchange them but my boys reacted as if it was the dumbest thing they ever heard.

"It's like that skit when Elmo tried to swap his fur for Whoopi Goldberg's skin," I reiterated but they didn't remember. So, instead of understanding the terminology, they were left with this imagery of two girls trying to scalp each other.

When I finally realized that my hair would never be curly, I then saw the greener grass as being blond. As a capricious teenager with no money and a dream, I dumped a whole bottle of hydrogen peroxide into a basin and soaked my hair in it. The result was split ends - and I'm not talking about the band.

My mother shoved two twenties in my hand and told me I was not allowed back into the house until I chopped it off. She kicked me out of the house as if I were a Jehovah's Witness that got in through the window - she meant business. That day, the hairdresser hacked off eight inches of fried hair and since then I never grew my hair past my shoulders...until now.

Long hair is not a choice - it's what happens when a woman lacks the time and the money to keep it in check. It gets into my mouth when I'm trying to take a sip of beer at a beer garden. I have to tie it up when I cook or do anything because it falls in front of my face blinding me - it sucks.

And the absolute worst chore is washing it. Since the colder weather, I blow dry it now - the lazy way. Bent over upside down. The result of this lackluster styling is, I wind up looking like Gene Simmons. Yes, that Gene Simmons from Kiss...but how he looks now.

If I could pick anything off Gene Simmons to resemble, it wouldn't be his hair. Guess the grass is always greener on the other side. At least grass gets mowed.


Could be worse...
Definitely worse.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Good Scare

After this weekend's impromptu snowstorm, all I can say is, Mother Nature's been a crazy-ass-bitch lately. Personally, I'm starting to feel a little shown up.

I realized - perhaps a little too late now - that this was not a good year to plan anything. Our Halloween plans were SNAFU'd because of the snow and in addition, our little guy came down - or is it up - with an inexplicable fever.

No Halloween partying or Trick-or-Treating for the one little boy who was truly looking forward to it. It made me upset too because that meant only half the share of Halloween candy. But Zuki, the good Samaritan that he is, practically gave all his candy to his little brother. I would've, too - this year people gave out crap. Seriously, what kind of evil person hands out Now Or Laters?

Candy is definitely not what it used to be. Twizzlers taste like ear wax and Tootsie Rolls look like a log of dog poo. But the quality of candy is a whole other blog entry...and I'd need to conduct some research, you know, just to verify my critique.

Getting back to the snow, it really freaked me out because I was dumb enough to watch "30 Days Of Night," the night before. I had seen the movie some years back and I vowed that I'd never see it again because it took nearly a week before I could cook by the kitchen window without fear a vampire was going to crash through it.

After this second viewing, I had a fitful sleep because all I dreamed of was blood and snow and vampires and snow. When the following day my husband looked out the window and yelled, "Hey, it's SNOWING," I frantically pulled out my boots and decided I needed to trek three miles to Stop and Shop. My husband thought I lost my mind. But the urge to brave the slushy snow was for microwavable food. And beer.

My kitchen window won't see me for another week.

It was miserable out. People were giving me and my shopping cart this look like...well, like the look I was giving people with their shopping carts during the snow storm back in January. I wouldn't send a dog out on a day like that and I was hoping it would finally send home the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters. Aside from my annoyance at their ambiguous cause, I'm sick of hearing the bad reviews about their bongo drumming. This is New York - we expect a high level of street musicianship.

After all is said and done, I hope all the folks with cars and homes under fallen trees are safe and sound otherwise. And I promise to badger all the electric companies to restore power to those who lost it since you can't charge your phones to do it yourself. Come to think of it, you probably can't read this blog post either. Anyway, things will be back to normal about the same time as I get over my vampire-crashing-through-the-kitchen-window anxiety.

My apologies for failing to post any Swanoween pictures, since we didn't go, but the boys happily posed for the camera in their get up. For Christmas, I'm taking our bathing suits out from storage. Just in case.

Wall E under the weather and Darth Maul

Bald Wall E...wearing a Dos Equis shirt
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