February 2008


So this past Christmas I’m making that old-timey coconut cake where one pokes holes in a hot sheet cake with a wooden spoon handle and pours coconut and cream over the top.  Nasty good, I tell you.  So I’m doing just that – pouring this coconut cream concoction over my fresh-from the-oven, pyrex-baked sheet cake.  When all of sudden – BAM! – my Pyrex dish explodes.  I’m not kidding.

If you’ve ever wondered what an exploding Pyrex dish is like, it is like this:  glass shards and huge chunks of hot cake blow all over the kitchen…and all over my counters and down into my gas grill stovetop.  In fact, the mess an exploding pyrex dish makes is astounding.  A six-year-old projectile vomiting all over the walls is NOTHING compared to an exploding cake in a Pyrex dish.   Right then, while I’m cursing up a storm (under my breath) and screaming to my children, “For the love of Emeril, get out of the kitchen!” —  my mom calls.

As many of you know, my mom is McGyver. I discuss my mom’s McGyver-ness in my book (don’t ask which book, there’s only one) and the fact that she can fix most anything.  A pulled hem, a broken mullion, a toaster oven with a short in the cord…the list goes on and on. 

“I can’t talk now, Mom. A pyrex dish just exploded all over my kitchen. I’m trying not to impale myself on shards of hot oozing cake.”

“WHAT?  What happened?”

“I was trying to make that coconut cake everyone loves for the family lunch tomorrow.  And the dish exploded!”

“Well, can you save any of it?”

Another thing about my mom — she believes you should try to save everything.  An odd piece of pie, rubber bands, catalogs, stale crackers, and of course, an oozing coconut cake that exploded all over my kitchen.

“Mom, I’m pretty sure that no part of this cake is salvageable, unless you all want to be crunching on tiny shards of glass tomorrow.”

“Well, don’t worry about a thing, I have a coconut cake in my freezer.  I’ll bring it. I’m sure it’s just fine. 

The other thing you should know about my mother is that she thinks her freezer has cyrogenic powers.  Her freezer, unlike others, can freeze things…FOREVER.  If it’s been in her freezer, “it’s just fine.”  For all I know, Ted William’s head is in my mother’s freezer.   And he’s “just fine.”  Freezers have special, redeeming, even healing powers in our family.  Knowing this, I have to ask.

“Mom, how long has the coconut cake been in your freezer?” “Oh honey, it doesn’t matter…it will be just fine.  Besides, it’s from The Greenbriar.”That’s the other thing about my mother. If she paid lots of money for a coconut cake from a quality establishment like The Greenbriar and stashed it in her freezer during the Bush One administration, it will be “just fine.”  If she says it, it will be so. “Mom, when was the last time you were at the Greenbriar?”“Oh, I don’t know, a few years back.  It’s a won-da-fuhl cake!  It will be fine.”

So, yes, my mom was willing to bring a cake that, on my best guess, was more than a THOUSAND DAYS OLD to a holiday function…for us to eat.  Bon Appetit.  Now I will borrow and use expired eggs from neighbor (who is freaked out by my wild ways with an egg).  And if my milk smells fine, then who cares about the expiration date.  But I have got to draw the line on a frozen coconut cake from the Greenbriar.  I don’t care how good it once was, it’s not good now, I can tell you that much

So tell me friends, tell me your dirty, little secret about an expired and/or frozen-past-its-prime food story – I know you have one.

  

perm.jpegI love perms.

 

While I haven’t had a perm since 1991 (and some would say perms were way past their prime in ’91), I look great in them…or I thought I did.  I finally uploaded my senior year picture from 1989 to show you.  My hair barely fits in the frame – it’s so great!  I shoulda owned stock in Aqua Net. Clearly, I have some genetic make-up that receives perms in the spirit in which they were intended – to create over-the-top tresses that only your closest friends know are chemically produced — and to actually desire said over-the-top tresses.

 

About once a year I ask my fab-U-lous hairdresser about the status of perms.  And each year I get the same answer.   “Perms will never, ever EVER come back in style, girl.  And you will never, ever, EVER get a perm at my salon.”   So there.  Still, I have dreams of having long, luscious, swinging hair, so I asked about extensions.  “We don’t do those either.  Besides, you can’t afford them.  And could you really sit in a chair for eight hours?”  Well, hayel no, who could?  I have a hard enough time sitting still for the three hours it takes to cut, color and highlight my tresses.  And my fab-U-lous hairdresser reminds me I have bigger fish to fry, namely covering the insane, weed-like gray hair that seems to sprout from my head overnight.  

 

I have to admit, there are two good things about gray hair:  1) I am helping fund my fab-U-lous hairdresser’s 401K; and 2)  and gray hair is of a weird, course texture that makes my hair bulk up a bit as if I had…a perm!  Without the waves, of course. 

 

 

I know I probably overindulge my kids in many ways…buying them a new pair of shoes when their current pair is too small and a toe nail has fallen off…slicing up an apple for my kindergartener who has no front teeth (on top or bottom)…managing to have clean underwear available each morning in a pile in my bedroom…but I have got to draw the line at Half Birthdays. 

I find them strangely weird and I think they should be banned.

For those of you uninitiated into the Phenomena of Half BDs – it’s the six-month date before or after your child’s birthday (which, duh, is the same day) and parents across the world…or rather moms in affluent suburbs with too much time on their hands…feel the need to celebrate on behalf of their sweet little muffins.  Apparently some clever mom decided that her child who has a summer birthday will be irrevocably scarred by not celebrating a birthday in class with all his/her BFF’s from preschool.  So, mommies create a faux birthday and deliver cookies and balloons to the classroom and take pics of their widdle biddy snookims celebrating their artificially created day.  I’ll bet Creative Memories even has a Half Birthday photo album.  Ugh. 

And you should know that both my kids have summer birthdays making them ideal candidates for half birthday, black tie galas.  And never once has anyone borne of my loins come to me and said “Mommy, why don’t I get a half birthday party like Cassie?”  Never once have either said “You’re a great Mom, but you really screwed up on the half birthday thing.  Whassup with that?”  Never once have they scrolled through Easter pictures and said “Hey, where are the pics from my half birthday?”

Since I do not and never will celebrate Half Birthdays OR Half Christmas OR Half Wedding Anniversary OR Half Cinco De Mayo for that matter, you’re probably wondering why I even care about half-birthdays at all.  Well, you are never going to believe this.  As my daughter’s room mom, I received an email from other room moms regarding their celebration of an assistant teacher’s half birthday.  They wanted to know if our class wanted to participate in the half birthday festivities.  And they were serious.  A half birthday celebration for adults. 

Clearly, I am an unfit room mom.  But I am a smart unfit room mom.  So when my co-room mom explained to me several times over that, yep, it was indeed a serious gesture, I hopped to it.  I mean, I may personally think that a celebration of a half of anything may be borderline OCD, who wants to be the slack room mom of the slack class who couldn’t get it together.  And then I realized that our lead teacher also had a summer birthday, so all of a sudden we were stuck with TWO half birthdays to celebrate this week. Cuz goodness help us if she feels left out of the partial merriment of half birthdays. So I got in the game and got lunch delivered and cards made.  Feliz cumpleanos.

Please know that I am the first to support a teacher with words, gifts and shameless cash. I am the first (well, maybe the second) to good-naturedly bring in snacks, prescription hand sanitizer and Brawny paper towels (no generic, please) to stock classrooms.  I also know that teachers are the most underappreciated people on the planet (aside from the nice nurse who had to check my bandages after my C-section…gross).  All I’m saying is that surely there are other ways to celebrate a teacher, to tell her we love the very essence of who she is and to appreciate the undeniable impact she has on our little muffins than celebrating The Half Anniversary of the Day One Was Born.  Really.

American Idol is back and I’m simply giddy.

I have gotten into many a heated debate with friends whose opinions I actually value regarding the incredibly redeeming qualities of “American Idol.”  While I never could stomach “The Bachelor/The Bachelorette” and I never really dug “Survivor” or “Big Brother” or “The “Amazing Race” or even “Wife Swap” I am a passionate defender of “American Idol.”  AI represents all that is good and wonderful about this country (with a bit of drama, too much Paula and a ton of cheese thrown in).  It is proof that is some bizarre way, we can all aspire to the American Dream and sometimes those most worthy of it are the least likely of us all.  Because at the end of the day, there is some hayseed from Kansas who has never been on a plain or a train who can open up his mouth and blow (to quote Randy). And being the easy-to-impress goober that I am, it tears me up every time.  Let the games begin!

I’m still hanging in there with David the Personal Trainer, also known now as The Evil One.  Brad worked out with him on Saturday and could barely walk the next day, so I felt a tad vindicated as I slowly lowered myself onto the heating pad to watch “Project Runway” on DVR.  Brad is in pretty good shape for a 41-year-old guy and The Evil One still kicked him in the arse. So there.  

In the meantime, I’m working on “eating right” and “portion control.”  Ugh.  It’s all so time consuming – I mean, really.  And it made me realize that I can tell the people who have never had a problem with their weigh or with portion control.  I can pick them out of line-up based on a variety of factors (beyond them being stick skinny, of course).  One sure-fire sign that someone has never had a weight problem?” They use the word “fat” indiscriminately.  As in “Ugh, I feel fat today.” (Which non-skinny people can’t say as they feel it every day).  Or “Did you see Sandy? Man, has she gotten fat.”  (Which non-skinny people can’t say for fear of that look of “pot meet kettle.”)  Or “I can’t eat that, I’ll get fat.”  Which is worst of all.  Because clearly we already did so we already are.

Most “sturdy” people don’t use the word fat. And they don’t allow their children to use the word fat either.  We use words like “husky,” “thick,” “big-boned,” “a troublesome stocky phase,” and, of course, “sturdy.”  FAT is as reprehensible as any curse word.  And if you’ve never been on the receiving end of such a word, you don’t know the damage it can wreak.  It’s a sharp, cutting word.  It’s a word that shuts down a conversation and, on occasion, a person. Which is why when I’ve heard many a skinny girlfriend say to their kid “don’t eat that, you’ll get FAT” it makes me shudder…and on occasion, shut down

Of course, FAT can be a word that fits the bill for sure.  And someone might tell me that I’m simply in denial and if I could warm up to the word, I might have a better time battling it.  But I prefer a softer, sweeter approach as the hard cold truth of that word cuts deep in many a sturdy girl.  I mean, just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s right.

One of the first assignments in my online screenwriting class is to develop a two-sentence pitch of a short film.  Class members are to discuss, respond and ultimately “red light” or “green light” the project.  Surely you know mine – I mean, why not test the waters (albeit among a demo that drinks beer for breakfast and watches “Real World?”)

So here was my pitch:  A good, natured married mom realizes her marriage has lost some of its oomph.  So she gives her husband a very special 40th birthday gift – sex everyday for a year.   Sweet, to the point, concise.  What’s not to like? Apparently everything.  

The same week I launch “My Commitment to Winning” I also launch “My Commitment to Higher Ed.”

I’m taking an online screenwriting class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Don’t ask me why, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, between keeping clients and kids happy, unloading the damn dishwasher again, running carpool to jazz and checking in with my husband, I have tons of free time on my hands, right?  And this is a real class with real grades and everything.  Not like the continuing ed classes I took at Queens to learn about interior design or landscaping.  For the first time in 20 years, I will get graded by someone other than my husband.  Ouch. The first week was pretty easy – we introduced ourselves online.  It was clear no one really wanted to “go first.”  I figured that since I’m nearly twice as old as some of these kids, I would be the grown up and take the plunge.  So I announced I attended Chapel Hill when some of them were in utero and that I couldn’t be “more delighted” to take this class.  Can there be a stunned silence in cyberspace?  Then I had one of those weird anxiety attacks like I had in, well, in college! What if nobody likes me, I thought.  I mean, is it possible to have social anxiety while taking an online college course where the little tots, I mean other students, will never see you face?   Another “student” chimed in that he had me beat by seventeen years.  Alas, there is a collegiate god and he has not left me all alone with Freddie, a twenty-year-old senior from Fuquay Varina who works at the Pizza Hut.

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