coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I Dream of Bagels

Last night I had a dream about bagels.  I did not dream about the frozen kind one might buy at a Publix Grocery Store in Florida, but the fresh ones pulled from the bin at a bagelry in Upstate New York.  I ate two plain toasted bagels in rapid succession.  In this dream we were at an outside picnic where bagels were being served, and they had only one toaster oven for the entire crowd.  I simply could not get enough.  I decided to have a third bagel.  I was embarrassed (there was a long line waiting for me to finish) but I knew it was my only chance to have a decent bagel again.  Let them wait!  They probably have bagels all the time.  I have not had one in over 6 months.  I split it open and baked it in the toaster oven, covered with NYS extra sharp cheddar cheese.  I used white cheddar – not the artificially orange colored, mild cheese that purveyors down here try to pass off as cheddar.  I wanted a bagel toasted crisp on the outside and soft in the middle.  In my dream world the cheese is not simply melted; it is transformed into a golden brown, bubbly mass of yum.  Of course it is best if baked long enough so the melted cheese oozes both down the middle hole of the bagel and down the sides to the bottom of the pan where it will fry up hard into a toasty, tasty mess.  Then you can pull that cheese off the bottom of the bagel and eat it first.   That is the best part as far as I am concerned.  Anyway the crowd was getting restless, so I woke up.  It was either wake up or pull the bagel out before it was ready.  I have certain standards.  I did not get to eat my perfect bagel.   Sad.  I could almost taste it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth

I had been sick for a couple of weeks.  It was intermittent and since I had a physical exam scheduled for the end of this month, I ignored my discomfort.  When I got chills and fatigue I surrendered and went to the doctor.  Until the antibiotics kicked in I was bedridden for a few days and could not do much of anything except read and sleep.

This is a nice thing about being retired.  When one gets sick one can actually go to bed and sleep no matter what time of day it is, and for as many days as it takes to get better.   No guilt, no concern; it is downright sinful.  As always, it felt so good to be bad.

After a few days of antibiotics and inactivity I felt well enough to venture out and visit The Magic Kingdom with my daughter and both grandkids.  We were all excited and happy to go.  It is purportedly the place where dreams come true – and for crying out loud, it is The Happiest Place on Earth.  Can’t beat that!  I probably have a few dreams left. 

Unfortunately, Fate had other plans for us.  She is such a pain in the neck.  I thought she had forgotten about me after she gobsmacked me with anxiety while keeping me stuck in a travel trailer for three months.  No such luck.

FYI, The Magic Kingdom is my least favorite Disney park.  It is every child’s favorite.  It is also the only Disney park that does not sell beer.  Consequently, the place is packed with hysterically giddy children and frazzled parents who must experience the park and their over-stimulated children sober.

We parked in the Heroes parking area (Simba lot, row 21) and from there took the tram train to the boat.  Eventually the boat filled up with enough people and departed for the Magic Kingdom.   M and I have done this before with two year-old N and he likes the tram ride and the boat.   This time, however, he was all hopped up on testosterone and clearly suffering from Baby Attitudinal Disorder (BAD).   Remember, I never had a son.  I was one of your original radical feminists in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  Back then I was pretty sure there was no difference between boys and girls besides the obvious biological thing.  I was anti-nature and pro-nurture.  Consequently, this boy energy thing never fails to catch me off guard.   How could I have been so wrong?

N did fairly well on the tram, although he would not sit still and I had to wrestle him down to keep him from flying out of the moving tram.  His mother had the folded up monster stroller between her and the rest of us at the opposite end of the long seat.   She is so clever, that one.  When we arrived at the boat I found his favorite place so that he could watch the water and the other boats.  No, that was not good enough.  He insisted on walking around the boat to investigate.  It is a double decker boat and we walked up the stairs.  Unfortunately, when we got upstairs they cordoned off the steps and started the boat moving.  That meant we (N, his 10 year old sister E, and I) were stuck upstairs.  Mommie was downstairs with the monster stroller.  The boy was miserable.  I tried to distract him but he was screaming for his Mom.  He got very angry with me and said “Gwamma, you go!  Get up and let Mommie sit down.”   I calmly explained that the captain makes the rules on the boat and he said we had to stay upstairs until the boat stopped.   He did not seem to understand English.  He wanted his Mom.  Like Woody Allen once famously said, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”   The tween granddaughter was sitting not far from us with her head turned as far in the opposite direction as it would go.  She did not have much to say; in fact when I spoke to her she seemed not to hear me at all, as if she was not with us. Odd.

When we got there, he insisted on walking.  Too bad, because when we put him into the stroller he is delightfully docile and cooperative.  On his feet he runs away.  Still, one must save these extraordinary efforts for when they are most needed.  The time would come.

E and I went on the Haunted Mansion ride while M and N went on the Dumbo ride.   Great fun, good start to the day.  E was so happy to show me the Haunted Mansion sights.  It was great to be alone with her for a few minutes.  I love that girl.  We all met up afterwards at the baseball themed Casey’s Corner for hot dogs and fries.  There was actually a vacant table inside the air-conditioned restaurant so we grabbed it.  Good thing, because almost immediately the heavens opened and the rains fell down. Luckily there is a large shopping area attached to the hot dog stand, so after we ate we were able to wander in and shop while it rained.  It rained hard for an hour.  Try keeping a toddler politely occupied in a store for that long.  He runs; he does not walk.  He has to touch everything, and he has a penchant for jewelry racks.  Specifically, he likes to put necklaces on with great force.  There were toys, and that kept him busy for a while.  Of course they were all in boxes and we would not let him open them so that frustrated him a bit.  There was, however, an open bin filled with long plastic swords… The sword was retractable and opened in 5 different layers, which was dangerous on so many levels.  Thank you Disney.  He was entranced.  Then he wanted to play hide and seek inside the store.  Or maybe he just wanted me to chase him.  Hard to tell.

My sweet tween granddaughter had money burning a hole in her pocket and wanted me to shop with her.  I tried, I really did; however, I kept catching sight of N as a flash of light running down the aisles and I simply had to grab his chubby little self to keep bad things from happening.  His mother was doing the same, but he is a fast little stinker.   It takes a village and all that.  It might require the infantry with this kid.

Finally we could take it no longer.  It was still raining but it was winding down.  We opened our umbrellas, harnessed the boy into the stroller and went on our merry way, nerves shot and minds muddled.  Oh, and I bought one of those swords.  Seriously, I did.  It made him SO happy, and it gave him something to do while we walked around.  Of course he kept leaning over the stroller dragging the sword underneath which drove his poor mother crazy, or retracting and opening it quickly so that bystanders were endangered, but what the hell – he was happy and occupied.  Trust me when I say that was all I cared about at that point in time.  M, E, and I were miserable.  I was a little nervous that his father was not going to be happy with me when N brought the sword into their house, but it was only $10 and he was happy.  I am pretty sure there is no other toy at Magic Kingdom that only costs $10.  Someone had to be happy in the Happiest Place on Earth.  Let it be the boy.

We had fast passes for a few more rides, so we found our way to The Little Mermaid ride.  We parked the stroller and let him out in order to get on the ride.  Big mistake.  He immediately made a break for it and I had to chase him into the Peter Pan ride across the way to catch and carry him back to the Little Mermaid.  I am so thankful for fast passes, otherwise we would have had to wait in line with him for 10-30 minutes.  Can you imagine?  With a fast pass you can pretty much walk right in.  He loved the Little Mermaid ride from the moment the restraining bar came down and hemmed him in.  When the ride ended we were going to walk to the final ride for which we had fast passes, Winnie the Pooh.  But it started raining again and he was kicking and screaming as M put him in the stroller.  She suddenly announced we were going home. I concurred with great feeling.  E was understandably pissed. 

We were able to keep N in the stroller for the ride on the boat to the tram.   He was great and played with his sword.  E was not talking.  M was only communicating with her iPhone. I was grateful for the quiet moments and the sound of water slapping against the boat. Or maybe it was the sword hitting the stroller wheels?

Unfortunately when we got off the boat we still had to get on the tram train to take us to the parking area.  Getting on the tram meant we had to take N out of the stroller, fold up the monster stroller and lug everything onto the long seat while convincing N to sit still until the tram started moving.  Horrors! 

N wiggled, squirmed, and yelled during the whole tram ride.  I was terrified he would fall out, even with me at the end of the row.  Finally we arrived at Heroes Parking, Simba lot, aisle 21.  The train stopped and we all lumbered off the tram.  M lugged the monster stroller off and struggled to open it quickly in the middle of the street.  It was not easy.  She might have been swearing at that point.  N refused to get off the tram.  I had to grab him and carry him off.  As I set him down he crumbled into a heap of sobbing baby flesh in the middle of the street.  He refused to stand up.  He weighs a ton.  I picked him up and lugged him across the street to the waiting stroller.  I may or may not have been dodging oncoming cars.  I felt my back go out.  I was on my last nerve.  I deposited him into the stroller.  N and E were not speaking and their eyes were glazed.  They walked fast with the boy in the stroller to the other end of the lot where the car was parked.   I could not keep up and decided not to try because, well, I was afraid I hurt my back lugging the boy across the street.  Plus, if you remember from the beginning of this post I had been sick.

When we got to the car M was struggling to get N out, harness him into his car seat, fold down the stroller, lug the heavy-ass diaper bag into the car, get him water, treats, etc.  I wandered back in her general vicinity to help.  She looked a little scary.  She said in a very controlled voice, “Mom, just go sit in the car.”   I did.

N fell asleep in his car seat.  No one else spoke. Well at one point I jokingly said to E, “Next time you find out we went to Magic Kingdom while you were in school you won’t be jealous, instead you will feel sorry for us.”  She did not laugh, reply, or even look in my general direction.  She was steaming mad.  I felt so sorry for her.   It is not easy having a two year-old brother.  I said “I am sorry it wasn’t fun for you.”  She replied “It would have been more fun going to school.”  Ouch.  I will make it up to her, never fear.

N woke up just before we got home. He was happy after his little catnap.  He was sweet and funny.   I remembered why I love him so much.  It had rained hard and there was water running down the gutters on the side of the street outside his house.   He and I like to go down and splash in the water barefoot after a heavy rain.  We took off our shoes and splashed around.  It was lovely until he made a break for it and starting running down the street.  I managed to catch him and carry him home just as M came outside to see what was up.  Then I went home and took a three-hour nap.   True story.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Lipstick Games

T recently reconnected with an old friend whom he has not seen in over 42 years.  T and TGK were originally friends in middle school and later reconnected as wayward hippies for a while on the road in the late 60’s.  I think I met TGK once.  He said we met once, anyway.  I do not really remember.  It was a long time ago. 

We did not know what to expect, nor did T know if he would recognize TGK.  TGK was bringing his wife, whom we had never met.  I had no idea what her priorities or interests were, how old she was, or what she looked like.  That was a little scary for me.  I worried about how to dress because I am the kind of woman who cares more about what other women think of me than I do about what a man thinks.  Hard choices, since I was dressing to please her, yet I had absolutely no idea who she was.  For almost six months I have only worn shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops.  I guess I have not yet reinvented myself as a fabulous Florida retiree fashion maven.  Add that to my to do list.

My hair was particularly insane from humidity that night.  Consequently, there was not much I could do about passing for a normal 62 year-old woman.  If truth were told, I am not even sure what normal is, especially at 62.  I settled for the unassuming comfortable old dame look:  cropped blue jeans and a black top.  I wore my black leather sandals instead of my ubiquitous Croc flip-flops.  I even put on jewelry like dangly earrings, rings, and a bracelet.  I wanted to wear a necklace, too.  However, it seems I am unable to pull off earrings, rings, bracelet AND necklace at the same time.  Three out of four seems to be my limit.  Beyond three pieces of jewelry I am unable to leave the house without being overcome by insecurity.  It is like wearing a scarf.  I love seeing women wear beautifully tied scarves.  I can put one on; I can even tie it.  However, I cannot leave the house until I take it off again. I really wanted to wear eye make-up, but for the life of me I could not find any.  Something tells me I threw it all away when I moved down here.  I was even going to wear my contacts for the first time in months, but without eye makeup it did not seem worth the effort.  After tearing the house up I did find a tube of lipstick in a neutral coral color.  It was neither flattering nor a fashion statement, but it was all I had.  I applied it with gusto.

When we arrived they were the only ones there, so it was easy to pick them out of no crowd.   He was, like T, an aging old-school hipster (i.e., back when hipster was a cool thing to be, kind of like a beatnik or a jazz musician – not the narcissistic and much hated young hipster of today).

His wife seemed even more nervous about meeting me than I was about meeting her.  Turns out she is beautiful and a good 10 – 15 years younger than me with pitch black hair falling around her face and down past her shoulders.  She was carefully made up and wore a tight fitting vintage black dress with bangles, bling, and ample cleavage; imagine a brunette Stevie Nicks with more delicate, classically beautiful features.  She wore platform shoes with zebra stripes.  Her lipstick was red!  I was so excited.  Her purse was a small vintage pewter triangle thingy with metal doodads all over it.   I loved her on sight.  My first thought was “Oh my, we are not in Kansas (i.e., Ithaca) anymore.” No – I just made that up.  My first thought was actually “Wow, this is really going to be fun.”  And it was.