When spring slowly emerges from interminably dark, damp, winter days, it means two things; allergies and fashion. So I load up on Nasonex, Zyrtec®, and Prednisone, and obsessively peruse my favorite fashion apps and sites; chic feed, The Sartorialist, The Man Repeller, WWD. After hours of “research”, I’m ready to unleash my “Parisian It Girl”, street-chic-style. Drum roll please…

fashion accessory1) The accessory of the season is a door mat. I’m not kidding. If you don’t mickey mousebelieve me, please look at this photo. It probably helps if it’s Chanel, but I’m thinking the old-school plastic grass with daisies will do. I’m curious if it’s de rigueur to drop the mat, and wipe your feet before entering the fashion show?

2) Join the Mickey Mouse club.  Am I so fashion backward that I’m thinking this Mickey Mouse look is a little Goofy?

3) The frustration pencil headdress. The similarities here are uncanny. green stress head collageI would find it impossible to resist the temptation to shake this renowned fashionista violently to and fro, for maximum fluffy-head effect.

I’m also completely inspired, and gearing up for fall. This is what we can anticipate for 2014 fashions, when the leaves turn autumnal amber and crimson. blanket

1) Linus is looking for his blanket. I admit, the over-sized sweater and sweater-pants look awfully cozy, but what happens when a rain storm hits? This blanket is going to weigh about 200 lbs.; soaking up water like a sponge. This poor model only weighs 95 lbs. grizzly cub2

2)  Call the veterinarian! This grizzly bear is crowning; and giving birth to a runway model cub. Oh dear, did I just go too far?

3)  An unsung hero of Warner Brother’s Looney Tuneselle-10-fall-2014-trends-western-h-lgn has his day in the sun. Forget lining up to meet Sarah Jessica Parker at your favorite department store, this year it’s all about Yosemite Sam.

I have 16,252 messages in my inbox. Just the thought makes most people come unglued. I’ve never felt compelled to clean out my email. In fact, once I left the workforce in the early 2000’s, and was no longer tethered to a desk, and a computer, I took a hiatus from email.

Initially I was in email avoidance. I associated email with the physiological fight-or-flight response of caveman days.  I just couldn’t shake the years of pulsating-vein-popping-up-in-my-forehead; put me in a rubber room kind of stress, generated from my inbox.

work stressI never knew what was lurking. Bombardments of high priority emails from all directions; “You need to commission some market research on the website we are launching on Tuesday. We realize we forgot to do market research and our VP asked about it five minutes ago.  Whatever you do, make sure it backs up the theme, direction and content we have developed.”  Or, “We decided our group should have a presence at the trade show in Atlanta. It’s in four days.  You need to beg the event planners for a space, get our booth together, produce a video (this was the 90’s), and create some genius marketing brochure to distribute. You’re flight arrangements have been made. Hopefully you can find a hotel.

Part of my initial reticence about personal email, was that it lacked the code of conduct embraced by companies.  Before personal email was commonplace, it wasn’t unusual to end up on an endless string of “reply all” single word responses (“yes” or “no”).  These could go on for weeks. There were also the people that used email for formal letter writing, with many paragraphs of superfluous banter.

The classic was the email “chain letter”. You remember those don’t you? “Please fill out this email questionnaire with only the most positive (yet truthful) answers, and forward to twenty people. If you do, you will have good luck, spirituality, good karma, and designer clothes for the rest of your life. If you break the chain, bad luck will befall you. You might lose your job, and home, contract leprosy, and get run over at a freeway onramp while you are begging for dollars.”

Eventually I recovered from PTSD from my work life. My inbox no longer expelled menacing, stressful messages. It became indispensable.  Once I got an iPhone, it was easier to manage, although I much prefer the brevity of text.  So why do I still have 16k emails in my inbox? When it comes down to it, I’m a digital hoarder…

statueAs usual, I did not see any of the Oscar nominated films except the Disney animated ones, but once again I predicted the winners in the major categories, this year with 100% accuracy. I admit that this year was an extremely predictable year for an industry that loves to predictably award itself. My formula is simple and takes into consideration Hollywood’s biases and inflated sense of importance. I then take the data, plug it into the quadratic equation and apply the Dewey Decimal system. Voila! Perfect accuracy for the categories people care about.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club.” Hollywood loves it when a gorgeous and bankable actor loses or gains a lot of weight for a role and tries to look unattractive. For women they typically have to gain weight because if they lost weight, they would simply disappear. Think Charlize Theron in Monster. Christian Bale gained a lot of weight for “American Hustle”, so this would make him a contender as well, but AIDS always trumps congressional scandal, and the ulcerated face lesion McConaghey sported made him virtually unbeatable.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett, in “Blue Jasmine”.  This one was less about applying my cateformula and more about process of elimination.  I figured the Academy has finally tired of handing out Oscars to Meryl Streep and Judy Dench.  Judy and Meryl probably don’t even bother to dust their statues anymore.  Everything seemed to point to Cate Blanchett who is an extremely good actress and beautiful, and acceptance speeches sound much better with a lovely accent.  I also didn’t think there was any risk of a backlash toward Woody Allen. Hollywood is the last bastion where pedophiles and sexual predators are still honored and protected if their body of work is considered to be of extremely high caliber.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club.” Hollywood can’t resist the uplifting story of a prostitute dying of AIDS. Throw in transgender and it’s just unbeatable. Incidentally, Jared Leto didn’t intend to make a pro-life speech when he told the touching story of his unwed teenage mother. When asked later about his pro-life stance, he realized how offensive it must have been to his Hollywood peers.  He quickly recanted his statement and said that his mom should have aborted him.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”.  Gut wrenching performance, and she is a beautiful newcomer. Incidentally I thought her speech was hands down the best of the evening.

LupitaBest Picture: ”12 Years a Slave”; Hollywood loves an epic about the triumph of the human will. Quite frankly, I do too, and I like seeing Hollywood do what it does best. I sincerely hope they never give up on this genre.  By all accounts this was an emotionally draining and extremely moving story. The cynic in me must also acknowledge how much Hollywood jumps at the chance to congratulate themselves on confronting racism, so that certainly didn’t hurt the film’s odds.

I thought Ellen was funny and refreshing.  My son asked how they choose the host, and I explained they should be funny but not offensive to any of the special people in the audience that don’t want their feelings hurt.

I loved the appearance of the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come”, Kim Novak. Hollywood, heed thy warning, and be judicious with thy plastic surgery. I’m not going to mention how fast Mathew wanted to get off that stage, nor the irony of the winning movie’s title, “Frozen”.

Speaking of frozen face, my friend who was watching the Oscars with me had a great idea. She suggested the Special Effects category should be adapted to award the best plastic surgery. We decided to award the grotesque vs. the restrained.  Kim, Goldie, Liza, yes, you are nominees.  While presenting, not only did Goldie have that just rolled out of bed look but she seemed groggy. I think she must be on pain killers, because clearly her face hurts.

Leonardo, if you want to win an Oscar, you know what you have to do. No more pretty-boy characters who’ve amassed great wealth and are living the fine life of Gatsby, Howard Hughes, or Jordan Belfort. Gain or lose 100 pounds and find a role depicting someone filthy and penurious.You’ve got to get raw and gritty. Coke is too highbrow, buddy.  Smoke crack! If you need a weight gain coach, I’m your gal. If you need a new agent, I’m up for that job as well; I have plenty of time in between my daily naps.

ski jump2Watching the Sochi Olympics brought back a rush of fond memories. Our family ventured to the 2010 Olympics in Whistler, B.C., for an unforgettable experience. My husband wanted to see ski jumping.  Living in Seattle, it was certainly convenient, and we figured we may never get another chance.

Arrangements were made, and we set out on our historic journey to the “Great White North”. As we approached Bellingham, Washington, my son asked, “Hey, isn’t this where baby Jesus was born, in the little town of Bellingham?” “Why yes son, it is”.

We made our way to Whistler and checked into our condo. The woman at the front desk advised we get up at 5 a.m. to make our 10 a.m. event. We laughed at the hilarity of such a suggestion. After all, the event was just up the street, and buses to the venue would be running like clockwork.

The next morning I awoke at 7 a.m., rolled over, and went back to sleep. When I finally dragged my bones out of bed, and the family was assembled, we were in a serious time crunch. But hey, no problem, just hop on the bus that runs right by our condo.

While waiting at the bus stop, several buses drove by, splattering us with dirty sludge. We began to panic.  We asked a few official looking Olympic volunteers why we weren’t getting picked up by the buses. The typical response, “They shipped me in from Manitoba, eh? I just work here, eh?”

Blood pressures rising, pulses quickening, we ascertain buses leave from Whistler Village, and head straight to the venues.  We flagged down a taxi and sped toward Whistler Village.

We were deposited at the Olympic Bus Depot.  As we found our seats, the bus driver climbed off, declaring his coffee break. Fifteen minutes later, fueled by tobacco and caffeine, the driver returned. We began the arduous journey, glancing compulsively at our watches.

camila olympicsSigh of relief as bus pulls into destination. Where is the ski jump competition? What? We have to hike up the mountain? No problem. It’s 10:15 a.m., but they can’t possibly start on time can they? It’s the first event of the Olympics, and no offense to our gentle Canadian brethren, but rumor has it, they’ve been a bit disorganized.  We start the long march up the hill; alternating between carrying, pushing, pulling, and rolling our children. Every muscle in our bodies aching, as we ascend. We are so close! But what’s this? A mass exodus heading straight down the mountain. “Hey guys, it’s great you’re all coming down the mountain, but can you please step aside? We have a ski jump competition to attend.” We are now going against a great current of refugees, waiving flags from a variety of Arctic Circle nations.

“Hmm, maybe it’s halftime? They have halftime in ski jumping, right?” That’s when the cheerleaders perform. We finally work up the courage to ask the pilgrims where they are going.

“It’s over.”

“No, we’re talking about the ski jump event.”

“Right, it’s over.”

Suspended disbelief; this can’t be happening.  I am sure these spectators are misguided and confused.  We keep hiking up the mountain. Ask a few more folks, just to confirm our idiocy. Is this some allegory or Aesop’s fable? My brain is scrambling to make sense of the grass hopper and the ant, or the early bird getting the worm. What are the true implications here? I suddenly see condemnation from teachers, family, my yoga instructor, the local butcher.You what? You missed the Olympics? How much did you spend on the tickets?

Apparently the ski jump event goes very fast. Fortunately a kid on our shameful return bus ride showed us his video of the event. It was just like being there. He got up at 5a.m. and made his way up the mountain, so as not to miss his once in a lifetime Olympic moment.

12th man By now the Super Bowl is old news, and most of us have moved on to the Olympics. It was great fun for a city that has long been deprived of sports victories, and the media’s attempt to characterize Seattle, to the point of psycho analyzing its entire population, was so amusing. I don’t recall such attempts to gain insight into the collective minds of Baltimore, New York, Green Bay, or other past championship cities. Perhaps the quirkiness of our citizens is just too tempting.

The New York Times¹ coverage of the victory parade as anthropological experiment was particularly insightful.  Apparently we are polite but cold, very geeky, and most of the adult population has an intravenous espresso drip implanted into a vein. Seattleites also have a “mile-wide streak of insecurity about (ourselves) and (our) place in the world.”

Sifting through the crowd, the reporter found people who believe this victory will “build our confidence” and the Ringhelp us find our place in the world.  Others expressed dismay over the 12th man as un-sportsmen–like. Even more priceless is the hope that it will shine a light on the Seattle Opera, particularly Wagner’s “Ring,” (Seattle’s operatic version of a stadium Dead show). Perhaps Richard Sherman should don a horned Viking helmet over his dreads and join the Ring Chorus.  That would spark some interest.

If only I had managed to drag my lazy self and kids downtown to the parade. I would have given the roving reporters exactly what they had come for, waxing philosophically a-la-Noam Chomsky, “Why am I cheering for my team? It’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements — it’s training in irrational jingoism.” ²

I then would have mentioned how much this helped a city suffering from low self-esteem and self-loathing to start the long slow process of loving ourselves again, and how I hope it will bring more visitors to the Gum Wall in Pike Market, and Paul Allen’s true triumph, the Experience Music Project.  Not only can you see the world’s largest collection of broken guitar strings, but it also features a piece of lint from Kurt Cobain’s favorite fuzzy sweater.

In all sincerity, I think the psychology behind celebrating a Super Bowl victory is pretty straightforward. Doesn’t every city like to flex their muscles by winning a major sports championship every now and again, regardless of the purported character of a city?  Call it human nature. And this particular Super Bowl championship for Seattle was so sublime. The Seahawks captivated this city, even the most ambivalent among us. Our admiration extended way beyond their pure athleticism and win/loss record. It was the myriad of human qualities they unabashedly displayed – humility, bravado, grit, strength, fearlessness, egotism, insecurity, vulnerability.

We all know it’s been a tough row to hoe for Seattleites when it comes to professional sports.  Thirty-five years since the Sonics won the NBA championship, and they are now playing somewhere on the Great Plains.  The Mariners last playoff run was in 2001, and it has long been rumored that if the Mariners ever made it to the World Series, it’s what Revelations was referring to as the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

  1. “‘Chill’ Seattle Savors Its Super Bowl Moment in the Sun”, KIRK JOHNSON, FEB. 5, 2014, New York Times
  2. Excerpts from Manufacturing Consent ,  Noam Chomsky interview,  1992

st valentineIf you haven’t started making homemade Valentines yet, you are way behind the eight-ball.  If you start now, and pull a few all-nighters, you might have a shot at a subpar showing. The kids and I always start right after the new year. This year we are hand-painting grains of rice and building mosaics depicting the martyrdom of St. Valentine. It’s a little gruesome, but really gets back to the true meaning of St. Valentine’s Day.

Valentine was a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II.  He was arrested for marrying Christian couples in the church, which was strictly verboten. Unwilling to renounce his faith, he was beaten with clubs, stoned, and to finish the job, beheaded.  His execution took place on February 14, around the year 270. Martyrdom is so romantic!

If you are squeamish, and recreating the gore of an execution on a commemorative mosaic is not your thing, don’t despair.  I have other laborious and impractical ideas for making unique Valentines, that will be cherished for years to come.

1) For the Sports Enthusiasts: Distribute wings, bows, and arrows to the children.  Nothing is cuter than a bunch of cherubic children shooting arrows at one another playing Cupid.

2) Valentines that Pop: Package Coca Cola and pop rocks in hand-painted swag bags. The stomach exploding is just a myth, right?

3) Personalized Sonnets: You and your children will have so much fun writing an “Ode to” each child in the classroom.You might need to brush up on iambic pentameter. If you need an additional challenge, I find calligraphy on parchment makes a beautiful statement. For an A+, I recommend burning the edges and decoupage-ing to make decorative wall hangings that will last forever.

4) Choco-Hype: I think it’s fun to make a seven-layer chocolate ganache cake for every child in the classroom.  Include handmade bibs with retro hearts and cupid motif. Embroidered bibs are charming, and so unexpected!  Hand them over to the kids at school without cutlery and let them have at it.

kitten in box kittens

5) Fluffy Kittens: I love distributing mewing kittens to all the children. This is a really low cost option. If you don’t bother with the vaccinated, de-wormed kittens, you can usually get them for free. Bonus points for kittens with heart-shaped markings.

 

 

 

party3My failure to post last week was not because I was “nama-staying” at Quiet Whispers, Kind Thoughts Resort, a swearing rehabilitation facility in Mexico. Nor did I give up on Dry January and head to Cabo on a bender.

I was simply taking care of a few things on the home front; reorganizing the pantry to eradicate science projects, registering kids for sports, and cleaning my son’s room. I found him under mountains of debris, happily building Legos, his vital signs were normal.

I also attempted a world record for the longest service call to “Comcastic”. Two hours and seven helpful representatives later, I think I may have a spot in the Guinness Book.  I was trying to figure out why our cable bill each month is a king’s ransom.  The recording assured me, we are VIP customers.  I believe that means “Very Ignorant”,downton for continually paying insane bills without question or complaint.  It certainly didn’t advance me in the queue, or improve the quality of my customer service. It took a great deal of digging, sleuthing, and transferring to a variety of representatives, but I discovered that we are paying monthly fees on not one, but four decommissioned cable boxes, and an extra IP address.  A final transfer to the promotions department yielded a much better rate on our package of on-demand and cable channels. I was so excited that I invited the whole jing-bang lot of them over for tea and a Downton Abbey marathon.

For the record, Dry January is going great.  I have been a paragon of the temperance movement, and time is flying. Only 58 hours, 24 minutes, and 34 seconds to go.

french whiteI’m not talking about the weather or a dry martini. I’m talking booze-free, “detoxicating”, high-on-life January.  Believe it or not, this is my third year of dry January, and honestly, once I get through the D.T.s, I feel great.  Almost too great; no hangovers, high energy, less grumpy, skin glows, lose the spare tire, and maybe I’m even slightly smarter.

The first year I decided to try such a radical program was January of 2012.  I was coming off another Bacchanalian holiday season and was partied out.  I knew some of my pals were going off the sauce for January, and in spite of my January birthday, it really is the best time.  January is a time for new beginnings and resolve.  Let’s face it, there is always a party, or an excuse to party, so you just have to commit.  And by commit, I mean publicly state you are on the wagon. You have to be held accountable.  Most people are very supportive; some are dumbstruck with disbelief.  A few of my pals want nothing to do with me, but that’s okay. I get it. The thing is, I’m not one to count people’s drinks. Lord knows, I would hate it if people counted mine (not that most people could keep track, or even count that high).

The first year was definitely the hardest.  Particularly when the cocktail hour rolled around between 5 and 6 pm every night.  Wouldn’t a glass of wine be nice?  Read the next two sentences with a strong Pepe’ Le Pew accent: Maybe the rich and inviting texture of a Sancerre, with its lingering minerality and grapefruit flavors. Or perhaps a white Bordeaux with its complex richness, and refreshing herbaceousness.  Oh Hell, I’m thirsty! “Does anyone have some Blue Nun?”

This is the deal.  You just have to get through the first 4 or 5 days. My friend Em was on the same program, so we acted as one another’s sponsors.The texts began flying at cocktail hour every night:

Me: “I’m only half way through step one of twelve. I really need a refreshing beverage!”party 1

Em: “Be strong, you can do it! Grab a piece of chocolate and stuff it in your face”.

Me: “Technically, does wine count as an alcoholic beverage? Don’t the health benefits outweigh any adverse effects?”

Em: “Have a diet Coke and pop a Sudafed.”

Me: “Won’t I be hurting an already suffering economy by eliminating wine, the mainstay of my diet?”

Em: “You drink French whites; you’re not helping the GDP.”

Me: “Have you apologized to all the people you’ve offended over the years with your alcohol-fueled tirades?”

Em: “Have you made amends for all the embarrassing drunk dancing?” (This was before the wonderful term “Twerking” had entered our lexicon.)

Me: “No, but I think my drunk dancing is highly artistic. Quite frankly I’m surprised I haven’t been asked to be on Dancing with the Stars”

Fortunately, our support group of two helped me stay strong. By day five, I was totally over it.  I barely thought about wine, but I resolved to stay away from Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, my Mad Men addiction, and all imagery that glamorizes alcohol.

This year, I dare say, it wasn’t a big deal starting the program January 1. In the interest of full disclosure, I gave myself a dispensation for my birthday. No sense in being a darn fool about it…

xmas tree 002I was taking this photo of the skeletal remains of our once beautiful, 15 foot Christmas tree, when I realized I had not taken photos during the four weeks it was up, in full-branched, light-filled regalia. I made the mistake of making a joke about it, as I watched my daughter’s face fall. “You didn’t get a photo of the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had, but you’re taking one now?” Once again I found myself calculating the time and money for future psychiatrist’s visits for my children. “My mom was so psychotic; she preferred photos of the decimated, branchless Christmas tree to any family photos while it was decorated”.

Even more remarkable, this nap-taking, Elf-On-Shelf-despising, Grinch-of-a-mom, goes all out on the Christmas tree every year.  Our main room has very high ceilings. For reasons that I do not entirely understand, I am compelled to put up a very tall tree. Maybe it’s my own sense of Descartes Enlightenment, “I think therefore I am”.  “Tall ceiling, therefore, tall tree”. Okay, a bit of a stretch. It just is. All underachievers have some realm of achievement or we would never get out of bed. For lack of a photo in its full glory, you will just have to trust this truly was the tree of all trees. The Christmas tree that required delivery on a flat-bed truck, three trips to Five Corners Hardware for more and more LED lights to wrap painstakingly around every branch, and several extension cords. Not to mention risking life and limb on the top rung of a twelve-foot ladder for hours on end. So why no photos?  I just never got around to it.  But with lack of photographic evidence, memories have a way of making all things wonderful, sublime. This venerable Noble fir will grow, and grow, to twenty, thirty, perhaps fifty feet in our hearts, and idealized memories.  Sacrebleu! I just talked myself out of doing the giant Christmas tree next year. The indelible memory of Christmas past has already been planted.

My son was talking about his New Year’s “Revolution”, and in a flash it came to me. Something truly revolutionary for New Year’s; extend the selfless tradition of giving from Christmas, and hand out New Year’s resolutions to my loved ones.  Like gifts, these are well thought out, and meant to make those around me happier and more successful, putting them on the path to self-improvement in 2014.

1)   For my son, “Rain Man”, clean your room, and keep it clean. And since neatness counts, I’m adding legible handwriting to your list.  It won’t be long before you can use a computer for all of your writing, but until then, your teacher’s need to decipher all those jumbled and unintelligible thoughts you have in your head.

VintaframeImage2)   For my daughter, “Saffie”, you already keep your room spotless and are type A in all things, why not resolve to take a little pressure off yourself?  I am giving you permission.  But please continue your good work on keeping mommy organized, making the lunches in the morning, and keeping us on schedule. “Honey, where did I set my martini?”

3)  For my beloved husband, “Lars Lindstrom”, honestly dear, not a lot of room for improvement. But since I’m handing out resolutions as if I were the Wizard of Oz, I think a regular workout routine would be a great idea for health and well-being. I’m here to support you in any way I can, short of getting you a hot young female trainer.

4)  For my neighbor who allows the dog to do his business on my lawn, but doesn’t bother to clean it up, your New Year’s Resolution is so simple; clean up after your dog. I’m not sure who you are, but rest assured, if this situation doesn’t improve, I will find you. My cousin Salvatore offers a flaming bag-o-dog-doo-doorstep delivery service at a very reasonable price.

5)   And in all fairness, I have a New Year’s Resolution of my own; to swear less, maybe eradicate it altogether. I need to find a really good swearing rehab facility. My profanity is not my fault, it’s an addiction,beach and I really want to own up to it, and I am very sorry to all of you that my foul language has hurt or shocked in the past. But I am ready.  I realize I can’t do this on my own. Preferably I need a small beach town in Mexico with white sands and rolling waves.  I think a rigorous routine of yoga and good clean living to cleanse mind, body, and spirit, would cure me. It will take about three weeks.  I am ready to do the hard work to rehabilitate.  However, I am a little concerned about repatriation into the real world after rehab, and the pressures that cause me to swear in the first place.  I will require several follow up visits throughout the year.

© 2017 Napadaisical
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