February 28, 2011

Re-Entry's a Bitch*

Helloooo, lovelies. I'm back, and none too happy about it, if I'm being honest, because Hawaii was a dream. Truly one of the best family vacations we've ever had. Why, you ask? Well, there was this:

the view from our room. I don't blame you for wanting to slap me a little right now.

And this...

just look at those broad shoulders waves

Lots of local color:

hibiscus. I think.

artsy-fartsy Haleiwa, the Breckenridge of Oahu

at the open market in Honolulu's Chinatown. pret-tty sure this guy is stoned.

Fabulous food:

famous North Shore shrimp truck. Each serving comes with seven pounds of butter! (approx)

Happy, relaxed boys:

a boy and his dad
freckles to die for

And a whole lotta this:

does this beach towel make my leg look fat? oh, who gives a crap. someone bring me another margarita, stat.

The air there is ... perfect. Soft and gentle, and the ideal blend of warm and cool. And there is actual moisture in it, unlike the air in my home state. The few times I ran, I felt like superwoman in the midst of all that oxygen. The people are laid back and super friendly and everyone says aloha and mahalo all the time.We saw miles and miles of beautiful pineapple groves, uncrowded beaches, and green, green mountains. I got to wear nothing but bikinis and sundresses and flip-flops for a whole week, and I didn't even bother sucking my stomach in. We all slept deeply and uninterrupted every single night (this is VERY unusual in my house).

I'd love to tell you more, but I have to get up at 4:00 a.m. to board another plane, this time to Washington, DC for work. I am trying hard not to be bitter - to be grateful, instead, for the gift of the lovely week my family had together. But I can't say I won't be tempted to tap on the cockpit door and ask the pilot if maybe he'd consider flying in the opposite direction. 

*I'm finding one-word post titles a little boring, and difficult for wordy me. Hang with me, won't you, as I experiment.

February 17, 2011


You guys. In a little over 24 hours, I'm headed to Hawaii.

maybe I'll see Obama at the luau

It was sort of a last minute trip - it's my son's winter break from school next week, and we haven't taken a beach vacation in forEVER, and the boys voted on Hawaii (it was number two on my son's travel bucket list, right after Macchu Pichu). So ... off we're going.

I had to do a little girly prep for the beach. My body is nice and strong and pretty fit, but right now, in the middle of the coldest winter we've had in 30 years, it's also white and scaly and not looking terribly beach-ready. And I am ready to feel some sun on my skin, so the bikini will be making its debut.

It's been a humdinger of a week at work, and the only time I could manage to sneak out was this afternoon. So I decided to go for it all at once and booked appointments for a bikini wax, a pedicure, and a spray tan, all in a row. I've only had one other bikini wax in my life, and that was nine years ago for a trip to Florida. I got pregnant on that trip, come to think of it, so let's hope to jeebus there's not some sort of weird cause-and-effect thing going on there.

Though I know it's vain, I feel better with a little color on my skin - a little healthier, a smidge tighter, more confident. Unfortunately, I have the type of skin that burns and burns and burns again, and then maybe will reluctantly begin to turn a reddish shade of brown after a week or so of exposure. I don't have that kind of time, and it's health hazard anyway, so over the past couple of years I've done the tan-in-a-bottle thing. Usually on my own with drugstore stuff, because I'm cheap and want instant gratification. But someone told me recently about a local spa that does it for you by hand, and it wasn't expensive, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I wasn't sure what to expect. I kind of envisioned being back on the massage table with some nice music playing, while a silent attendant slathered me up - first one side, and then the other. That was, uh, not how it went down. Instead, I walked into the place and was greeted by the owner, whom I'd met before - she lives in my neighborhood. She informed me that she would be doing my tan, and directed me to the bathroom, where she told me to remove all my clothes except my bikini bottom, don the shower cap she'd nicely laid out for me, and stand in the open tile shower with my arms held out. Then she turned on what looked like one of those big house-painting machines, and well, she painted me from head to toe. With this big airbrush thing. When she was done she handed me a hair dryer and told me to blow dry myself. Which felt kind of nice and I might actually do that part again. But maybe at home.

I won't say it was an unpleasant experience, because it wasn't. She was extremely professional and set me at ease immediately, and the actual tan turned out great, just a nice little touch of brown, not fake-looking at all. Still, though ... my neighbor has now seen me topless. Wearing a shower cap.

I might need a couple extra mai tais to dull the memory.

I'll have one for each of you, too, my beloved four readers. See you in a week or so!

February 13, 2011


The Grammys are on tonight. We don't have cable so I'm not watching (which I must admit I'm a little bummed about that, as would have loved to see the Cee Lo/Gwenyth duet, and I am not even being sarcastic) but I was looking at the red carpet photos online, and let me just say, damn, there are some whack ass people in Hollywood. The hair! The stoned-out eyes! The mummy dresses with all the skin peeking out! This show in particular brought together a very strange mix of young people I have never heard of and all these raggedy-looking 80's dudes, like Ricky Skaggs and the guys from Megadeth and Neil Young (who Yahoo mistakenly labeled as Paul Young, oops, who I had to look up to remember he was a one-hit wonder from the 80's - remember 'Every Time You Go Away'? - you take a piece of meeeee with yooooou). And an anorexic-looking Barry Manilow. Shoulder pads and waist-deep necklines seem to be making a comeback along with the old-timers. Jennifer Lopez appeared to have ditched her pants. And all I can say about Lady Gaga showing up in an egg is that upon seeing it all I could think about was one of my favorite childhood books:  How Fletcher Was Hatched. Which was a sweet and heartwarming story (much as I expect Gaga's will be).

I love fashion and enjoy voyeuristic looks into world of celebrity just as much as all the other subscribers of US Magazine, but I also like living far from that world. I went for a run today, and instead of duck lips and bustiers, this was my view:

not a boob in sight

Last night Ellen and her husband force fed me three of their award-winning, lethal margaritas (served with olives, like a martini. I KNOW. You have to try it.), and then she tried to strong arm me into agreeing to skin up the mountain at 6:30 a.m. But I decided that no one is going to make ME go on a beautiful, soul-stirring sunrise hike, dammit, so I declined, choosing instead to sleep in and have Sunday morning pancakes with my family. Which ended up being a pretty good decision, after all, and then later, when I felt like it, I went for a run. It was a good run. Five miles. I felt strong. Not fast, but I'm never fast, and I didn't struggle or have to tell myself just keep going, it'll be over soon. I felt relaxed and at ease and I enjoyed listening to my music and the slap slap of my trail shoes as I tried not to slip and fall on my ass on the snow-packed road.

I didn't work out last week, because my husband was out of town and single parenthood required that I miss my usual 6am stints at the gym. And I missed them. I really missed them. It's taken me until now, in my 40's, to get there, that point where exercise is not something I make myself do to stay slim or keep up with the cool kids (and yes, if I'm being honest that's pretty much what it was for me until a few years ago). It's not even so much about keeping my body healthy (although yes, of course that's important, mom). What it's become is my most effective escape from stresses and pressures that keep me from sleep and threaten my sunny disposition. And what's even more surprising to me is that I actually ... enjoy it. It makes me feel good, happy.

I realize that this is not a revolutionary concept in theory, but it feels revolutionary to me, personally. I once participated in a workshop where we were asked to shout out tasks we found necessary but distasteful (chopping onions! picking up dog poop!). I said, "exercise," and the workshop leader literally waved me off, saying no, that doesn't count, because exercise feels good. And I remember thinking, really? Because I think it kind of sucks, all that huffing and puffing and sore muscle shit.

I get it now, though. When I'm working my body, my brain quiets, shifting gently away from manic-panic multitasking and the sleep-stealing spiral down the rabbit hole of worry. I find myself daydreaming and composing new recipes and thinking of fun things to write - the kinds of things that feel too frivolous to focus on most of the time, and and things I probably should do a lot more. My body feels strong - I love telling the guys at work, no, I don't need help, I can lift this 40-pound water bottle on the cooler ALL BY MYSELF, and catching sight of the curve of my bicep when I'm changing my shirt at home. I love that I can do more than a single pushup on my toes now, only dropping to my knees at the end of the set.

No wonder I've started craving it. I hope I always do. If I stay fit maybe I can wear one of those mummy dresses too.

February 7, 2011


So did you all watch the Superbowl last night? I did, by accident. My mother in law invited us to dinner, and  there it was on her giant 55-inch TV (not hers, actually - she is house-sitting for some clients). That HDTV shit is crazy. You can see every pore in the announcers' faces. And let's not even talk about the football player's uniforms and how they showed every lump and wrinkle and scrotum. Would it be too much to ask that the two teams wear different colored spandex pants? Preferably not yellow?

Confession:  I never learned the rules of football. Not even in high school, when I was a cheerleader. I just kept an eye out for the other girls cheering and then I'd cheer too. I totally rocked the halftime show, though (Ch-ch-ch-chaka Khan, anyone?).

I am feeling a little whirl-windy these days. Not much downtime lately, and I am a girl who likes her downtime. I've read that extroverts re-charge their batteries by being around other people, and introverts re-charge by being alone. If that's true than I am without a doubt an introvert. But I had a really great weekend with my sister, who is so easy to be with that it is practically like being alone (I mean that in the most flattering sense). We started the weekend out with lots of red wine and what we thought would be a funny movie (Dinner for Schmucks). I was so sure it would be funny! It was not. About halfway through I glanced over and caught my sister sound asleep on the floor, snoring. Couldn't blame her. It was so bad. Tsk tsk, Steve Carell. You are better than that.

The next morning we shook off our hangovers and went for a ski:

Check us out, being all model-y (and match-y!). I took a video, too, hoping to capture the serene beauty of our skis gliding quietly through the new-fallen snow, but my heavy breathing behind the camera gave it more of a serial-killer-stalking-pretty-girl-in-the-forest vibe, so I stuck with the stills.

Sunday my kiddo wanted me to take him snowboarding. I have been snowboarding for 20 years, and he just learned this season, and this was our first time ever going together. Just you and me, Mom, he said. 

He did great, but it was cold, and we had a few meltdowns (a couple of them his). I took him on a run that had some bigger-than-expected moguls and deep snow, and he got frustrated, lying down in the middle of the run and screaming about how much he HATES! the STUPID! POWDER! But we got down okay, went into the lodge, and cheered ourselves up with hot chocolate and the FatBooth app:

aaand ... after!

As we walked out, giggling, he said, Mom, I was starting to have the worst day, and you made it the best day.

Amazing what a couple extra chins can do.