Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Open Letter To Polar Vortex

Dear Ms. Vortex,

From widespread reports this morning, it seems you may be making a departure from what Al Roker likes to
call, my  "neck of the woods.”  I realize that if this departure is like your last, you may be back.  I get it.  You pulled out, headed home for the Arctic and suddenly – “Damn I forgot my conditioner in the shower”- and it was the expensive kind you have to buy in salons so I understand your return visit.  Done the same thing myself a time or two.  But don’t be offended if I say, I sure as hell hope you double-check the shower stall before leaving this time.  Forgive me for sounding harsh, but I think I speak for most all inhabitants of the middle states as I say, you’ve overstayed your welcome and it’s time for you to go-  or for those in more folksy regions – don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. 

That being said, Ms. Vortex, upon great reflection – and since we’ve been locked in basically for most of January I’ve had ample time to reflect – I must admit, your descent upon us was not all bad.  Let me point out a few highlights.

-         - Thanks to your arrival and frigid temps, it became necessary to put that whole New Year’s Diet thing on hold as I obviously needed all the extra body fat I could pack on for survival.  One pound down and I could risk hypothermia just getting the mail. 

-          -On a related note – I had no choice but to spend the last frigid weeks testing out all those things I’ve been Pining on Pinterest for the past year under the guise of baking to keep the house warm and fatten up my Turks for survival.  Apple Fritter Pull-a-part Bread?  Yes please – but only if it will keep my family warm.
           - For those of us with small people, there was no pressure to run out and play in the snow as such an activity would cause immediate frostbite relating in missing digits and who wants to be the parent who sends the note explaining the missing finger?  Nobody.
-     -Shivering counts as cardio. 
-            -I achieved great success sticking to my new 2014 budget plan simply because it was too damn cold to go shopping.
-        -  “Are you on Netflix again?” Yes, yes I am.  It’s  -20.  What the hell else is one to do all weekend?
      -Time for Baby Book Circle- where a crusty librarian saturated in gardenia perfume prods a group of drooling little ones towards literary greatness?  Sorry, too cold to go.

-          -An extra glass of wine?  Why of course.  Wine makes you warm.

-          -No one dared to toss a judgmental look at my overstuffed yoga pants.  They assumed I must have been rockin’ some long underwear even though I was just rockin’ some Apple Fritter Pull-a-part Bread.

-          -No child begging to go out for a walk/bike ride/run- anything!
-    -Sensible shoes with no apologies.
      -Universally accepted hat head.
       -Yet another 2 hour school delay?  That’s ok.  With three hours to prepare, we might finally be ready on time.
      -And finally, for this one brief month it has been totally socially acceptable to revel in all my latent antisocial tendencies one hundred percent guilt free and for that I thank you.

So Ms. Vortex, though we have all used your name in vain and surrounded in profanity in recent weeks, your visits have not been all bad.  If for nothing else, I got to spend one gloriously cold month snuggling with my rapidly growing little nugget before he starts crawling off on a path of destruction and as fast as that is coming, I won’t hold any of this against you.  Just don't come back again too soon.



Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Snow People- Why Does Everyone Need So Damn Many Eggs?

Dear America,

We need to talk.  I know you might not all be to blame directly due to the barrage of constant mass media
assaults and I am more than willing to point the finger and blame the media, but still, we are free thinkers in an independent nation so that begs the question –America, WTF?   It’s a snowstorm – not the Storm of the Century or Snowpocolypse or any of the other charming titles thrown up on screen in the days prior to any snowstorm promising to deliver more than two inches of the white fluff.  So why is it the moment a snowflake appears in the forecast everyone has an immediate need for eggs?

For quite some time I thought the immediate need to rush out and stock one’s home with milk, bread and eggs prior to the first flake was a distinctly East Coast thing.  But no.  In the past two days I was nearly trampled by groups of hungry Hoosiers desperate for a loaf of pre-snow Wonder bread and a 12-pack of eggs.   Come on Indiana, you are Midwesterners – you should be accustomed to snow.  WTF? 

While East Coasters have a bad reputation for being cut throat pre-snow, during my 14 years in the hostile City of Brotherly Love, never did I experience what I did with the happy Hoosiers these past couple days.  

Friday afternoon – a full two days before the projected first flake, I stopped at Meijer – a fab cross between Target and Walmart with a European flare – to pick up a couple prescriptions, diapers and a bribe payoff.  I should preface this with the note that prior to the stop, I had spent over two hours at doctor appointments for the Tiny Turk with the Midget in tow.  I was a bit off my game.  But I needed the prescription and I’d promised the Midget a Matchbox car for being agreeable – (Judge all you want, I bribe.  It works.  What of it?).  

Within seconds of making our way to the entrance I knew we were in a bad, bad place.  Having dodged geriatric drivers on icy asphalt from the far ends of the parking lot, somewhere near Ohio, while carrying a 75th weight percentile baby in an obscenely heavy baby carrier accompanied by a chirping 5 year old, my eyes were on the prize – a cart.  Alas – there were none.  The elderly greeter was useless.  “Well we seem to be fresh out of carts.  Would you like a shopping basket?”  Sure.  I can use it as a counter weight on the other arm.  Damn Hoosiers.

The shoppers departing were equally useless.  Not one offered the crazy lady with the fat baby and hyper kid their cart but instead looked at me as if they’d each stolen the last piece of cake and clutched their cart handles tighter.  Word had it there were some carts near the other entrance.  With 40 pounds hanging from my elbow and the chorus of “Mom where we going?  Slow down Mom?  What’s happening?  Why so fast?  Where’s the cart?” playing on a constant loop, we played a slow moving game of Frogger all the way to the other end.   We were steps away from a fresh row of carts.  If only I could get around the old lady in the camel coat who had left a trail of farts for the last 50 feet.  We were so close.  But within seconds – the mid-afternoon geriatric snow shoppers snapped the entire line of carts from my grasp.  One left…there is one left and as I lifted the baby into it- Fart Lady whipped it out from under me.  I was stunned.  I’d been hijacked by a granny on a high fiber diet in dire need of eggs.  Unreal.

I did the only thing one could.  “Screw this  boys.  We’re going home.”  Ok, it’s never that easy but after Sherpaing it back to the Matchbox cars – because if you don’t make good on a bribe they lose their power- we gave up and vowed to get up early and try the next day.

The next day was no better.  Though the sun was shining and the temperature was 25 degrees, we were now down to 24 hours before the projected entrance of the apocalypse.  Stop number one went well – we secured the diapers and were on our way in no time.  We got hung up in a bank line which set us back on our targeted arrival time at the food store.  Again we ran into the cart difficulty but we were prepared and having left the baby at home with his father, the Midget and I were able to ninja us a cart from an unsuspecting victim with relative ease.  We left some unassuming storm pregrocery shopping newbie cluelessly searching for a cart he believed had meandered into traffic when we looked away.  This crowd was easier to work with as it was made up of the worker bees of the world on their day off rather than those surly old ladies we’d encountered the day prior.  However once inside, things were ugly.  9:30 am and various shelves were empty – notably milk, eggs and white bread – even in a snow storm the average Hoosier doesn’t seem to want a nice pumpernickel.  The lines were all at least 8 people deep and, much to my surprise, few carts were filled with necessities like booze and toilet paper, while all seemed to have at least a dozen eggs.

The real question at the end of this is, why?  Why do we panic in this manner?  We are not on the tundra and within a day or two at best, things will be passable again.  Yes, I understand a snow day is a good day to pig
out in one's flannel jammies and watch trash television all day.  I get that one might need a gallon of moo-juice and of course bread is about as important as toilet paper to most but why the eggs?

I suspect that this is somehow related to the phenomenon that drives people to take photos of their lawn furniture covered in snow, as it is equally as strange.  Do you people even eat eggs?  I thought eggs were out after the South Beach diet lost favor.  What about snowstorm high cholesterol? What will happen if you need to go for two days without an egg?  Are you all just baking batch after batch chocolately-chippy goodness and there fore the need for eggs is strong?  Or is there something I just don't know?  Is the Egg Council holding out on me?  Why people?  Why does everyone need eggs?   Is there a special power held within the incredible edible egg that enables one to plow their drive without breaking into that horrible back sweat that runs down into your underwear and gives you a butt chill?  If that is the case then hell yes, get me some eggs!  But until then, I will keep my fridge stocked with eggs until the weather warms and avoid pre-storm shopping at any cost.

2013 - Those I Lost

Each year in an attempt to further demonstrate that the world does in fact revolve around me, I like to pay tribute to the way my life was affected by those famed individuals who passed on during the course of the year.  While there are those whose influence should go without saying – such as Nelson Mandela, there are also those whom I feel have left ginorumus marks on my world.  Let me give you a brief run down.

Let’s start with Psychic Sylvia Brown.  First off, didn’t you see this coming?  I mean you are a psychic, but alas, we will miss you.  Kids, long ago, back in the dark ages before we could go to to find out what the future held, we were forced to telephone a knowledgeable psychic who seemed to only operate under the cover of darkness and who often advertised during Friday Night Videos.  However, Sylvia you must have done something right because years later Montel Williams took you on as resident psychic.  *Disclaimer- I shall never admit if I did or did not dial her, let it be noted that I was saddened by her departure.

And then there were those who helped to raise me via boob-tube:

Bonnie Franklin- Ann Romano, together we took it one day at a time.  My parents hated your show but oh how jealous I was of your daughters and the festive single mother upbringing you offered them.  Most importantly, your bell bottoms were amazing.   

Conrad Bain – aka Mr. Drummond.  What you talkin’ about Mr. Drummond.  

Jean Cooper – Oh Mrs. Chancellor, you were my first soap opera Grand Dame.  Young and the Restless was something my mother and I shared in my years before kindergarten and you were such an integral part of our lunchtimes. 

And Marcia Wallace – My fellow native Iowan, you made me dream of being a sassy receptionist with
flaming red hair and a razor sharp wit.  And while I did do a brief stint as a receptionist for a group of shrinks, alas, I looked heinous as a redhead and never did a runty Bob Newhart-esque man of medicine offer me a job. 

Jean Stapleton – Edith, you and Archie formed the mold for my in-laws and thanks to my years of following your escapades with that blockhead husband of yours, I came to understand my own mother-in-law.  And much like your extended kindness in the face of Archie’s hostility to your son-in-law Meathead, my mother-in-law did the same for me.  If only the rest of America had ever really known how your talents went far beyond All In The Family.

Pat Summerall – We spent many a football season together and when my brothers wouldn’t allow me onto the field, I grabbed my tin-foil and construction paper microphone and became your female alter ego.  Ah the 70’s were good to us both.

Annette Funicello – Before I used your movies to entertain angry mobs of middle schoolers as a teacher, encouraging them to shake it on a beach blanket like you, you taught me the beauty of Skippy peanut butter.  You may have a cannon of work 20 miles long, but you will always be the peanut-butter lady to me.

Lou Reed – I didn’t find you until grad school but once I did, you never left my collection.

George Jones and Slim Whitman – you were major players in the soundtrack of my childhood and while the new version of country music causes me to vomit into my mouth, I will always love the old school.

Seamus Heaney.  I’m not a fan of poetry but you swayed me to your side.  Years ago in graduate school I came across your work and once I realized your name was not pronounced Sea- mus, I dreamed of naming my son after you.  Sorry I lost out to the Turks on that one though.

James Gandolfini- You played to my love of the bald man.  The chubbier you got and the more hair that you lost, the more I thought you the sexiest man in Jersey.  You were one fine piece of ass. 
For years, Sunday nights in Philly were centered on a nice Chianti, a little linguine  and you.

Mehmet Ali Birand – You were one of the most level headed and legitimate newsmen I witnessed on Turkish network television during my years there.  Your crisp manner of speaking and ‘matter-of-fact’reporting made you one of the few television personalities I could acutally understand. 

I could go on and on but these were the big ones.  Each of you added a little something to my and you will all be missed.  Especially you Tony...