Saturday, February 26, 2011

Culture - The Wire

Larry and I have a Friday night tradition. Since we have children (and one is a pint-sized mega-beast), we don’t get out much. Netflix is our new best friend. And every Friday night we watch HBO’s “The Wire.” (Because staying current is not really one of our priorities anymore. We’re old.)

If you haven’t seen the show, I urge you to rent it or borrow it from a friend much cooler than you. My parents have been telling me for years that it is the best show ever to be on TV. Of course, they’re my parents, and they’re old, so I never listened to them. But when my idol Anthony Bourdain said to watch it, I was all over that shit.

It examines the lives, politics and culture surrounding Baltimore drug crimes. Not usually up my alley since I’ve been to Baltimore and found nothing entertaining about it. It just made me sad. If I want to be sad I could just try to take Lincoln to a restaurant for dinner. That’s a lesson in futility right there.

But it’s good. Damn good. The writing is amazing, the characters complex and the plot so engaging that I’m pissed every time I get a new DVD in the mail and there is only two episodes on it.

I must confess something, however. Ever since I began watching “The Wire,” I notice subtle influences creeping into my everyday life.

It started with the Girl Scouts. Have you ever noticed how they are like munchkin drug dealers? Every year, they push their cookies on the community and we are helpless to their narcotic effect. We crave them for a whole year and imagine life when they return with a mixture of emotions – ranging from guilt to ecstasy. And these green, polished soldiers of sugar and fat wait for us to turn over our hard earned dollars for an ephemeral high.

“I need the cookies. You got someone to hook me up with the Thin Mints?”

“Nah, man. But I saw a crew hangin’ by the Super A the other day.”

“Do they have the good stuff? How about Tag-a-Longs?”

I’m just sayin’.

And then there’s my inexhaustible use of the word “fuck.” Can’t get enough of it. There’s a brilliant scene where two detectives are examining a murder crime scene and, for about 10 minutes, they say nothing but the word “fuck” about 200 times. It’s Emmy-worthy stuff. Fucking genius.

Of course, I can’t say it that much because that wouldn’t be very responsible parenting. So I use a nice substitute such as pinche. What? They don’t understand Spanish. Or sometimes, if I really want to throw them off, I’ll use word Dora just because I hate that annoying bitch. For instance, when I drop the frozen chicken on my toe  I say, “OH DORA!” And Maya asks what Dora has to do with my pain and I say “Everything.”

As you see, even my kids aren’t completely shielded from the show’s effect. Lincoln hits Maya, body slams her and takes her My Little Pony. She looks up at me, battered and bruised, and I reply, “It’s all in the game, dear. It’s all in the game.” She bides her time and retaliates and I send her ass to The Cut (aka The Time Out Rug). Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

My little ones now have colorful street names, just in case. Lincoln is Stinkum and Maya is now Cheese.  Do you see? Many helpful parenting gems can be gathered in just one episode!

But if I haven’t convinced you by now to run out and get the show, let me just tell you this – by watching this show you will get skinnier.

No, that was a lie. But it will make you feel better about your own life – and that includes feeling a little better about your giant couch potato ass that came from eating too many fucking Girl Scout cookies. 

I mean, Dora Girl Scout cookies.

            

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Obsession – Cinco de Maya, Paper Flowers and an Identity Crisis

This started off as a simple craft post. But with me there is no such thing as a “simple craft.”


Today, I am working on some paper flowers for Maya’s upcoming fiesta “Cinco de Maya!” I’m a little obsessed with my children’s birthday parties. It’s an expensive obsession to say the least. And there’s usually one component of the birthday party that is all about me. Because why shouldn’t everything be at least a little bit about me?

At Maya’s first birthday luau, we made “Maya Tais.” At Lincoln’s first birthday carnival we had a popcorn machine. And this year, we’ve hired a full on taco cart. I’m beside myself with chubby-girl giddiness. Maybe I’ll set up a margarita speak-easy in my mother in law’s guest room.

Anyway, back to the paper flowers. So here’s a step by step for the Martha lovers. It’s really not hard. I was able to do a mediocre job.  Even through my identity crisis.

I bought some tissue paper from Michaels and Target. For smaller flowers, I stacked 10 sheets and cut them into thirds. Working with one third, I started on one end and fold it in and out like an accordion. Why the hell am I making these stupid flowers? Does Maya even care if they are beautiful and add a festive flair? I think she’s only concerned with the cupcakes and the bouncer.



Once I’ve done that, I took some florist wire and tied it around the center of the folded paper. Am I setting myself up for failure with this party? Will people call me out on the fact that I am one of the least “Mexican” Mexican people they know? They won’t ask me to speak Spanish, will they? The taco cart servers won’t speak in Spanish to me, will they? And if I don’t reply, will they laugh amongst themselves and say, “Just another Orange County gringa!” Is that how you spell “gringa”? I am screwed.



Then I rounded out each of the ends.  Why didn’t my mom teach me Spanish? I am wasting my time with these flowers when I should be learning the language of my ancestors? And what about the party? Is it accurately portraying my people’s culture? Larry said no to the burro rides but maybe it isn’t too late for the illegal fireworks. Hmmm…



Then I unfolded the accordion on either side…



…and carefully began pulling the sheets up one-by-one and fluffing them toward the center. Do that 10 times on each side and you come out with a beautiful flower. Who cares about flowers? I don’t even know who I am anymore! Am I a crafter? No! Am I a Mexican American? Debatable! Am I even a good mother? Probably not because my daughter has been repeating the word “pinche” for 20 minutes now and I haven’t noticed because I’ve been so obsessed with these pinche flowers.




If you want to make larger flowers to hang from the ceiling, just use the whole sheet of paper. If you want them to be beautiful, it’s best if you google “paper flowers” and find someone with skill to show you how it’s done.

But if you are into half-assing your way through art and culture, I’m your gal.

I guess in the end, I did learn a bit about myself. I may not always excel in execution but my heart is there. Like I said before, I usually avoid doing things that I can’t do well. So, do the math, half an ass and one big heart.



Just look at this devilish face. How can you resist making her party a little bit special?

¡Cuídate y pásalo bien!

Ps. Notice the above child is playing with scraps of paper. Scraps of paper. Or, as she calls them, “Fairy Dust.” And she still hasn’t touched the FPoST

Monday, February 21, 2011

Confession - Why No Blog Post?

I must say I am sorry because I don't have a new blog post today because Larry is out of town and I don't function very well when he is out of town especially when I think all day that he has taken the Ipad with him but he didn't actually take the Ipad with him and I did not figure that out until 6 p.m. and by that time I had already gone through the grieving process (including denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance, etc.) but hopefully I will have a new post tomorrow if I can figure out how to get a photo of the brisket we ate tonight which was really good at least I think it was but I cannot really remember because I inhaled it so damn fast because Lincoln was throwing it on the floor along with his milk, his carrots and his potato pancake which I think was also pretty damn good but I cannot exactly remember because all I can remember is the taste of the three iced teas and two Diet Dr. Peppers I drank today. 


The End.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obsession - Children's Toys


This is a Public Service Announcement. I repeat. This is a Public Service Announcement.

If you ever come across this toy…



…run far away. Run far, far away. Run as far away as humanly possible. But stop before you get to China. Because this is where this messed up shit began.

Lincoln received this Fucking Piece of Shit Toy (herein referred to as FPoST) for his birthday about seven months ago. There were many reasons to throw it away immediately. We already have a farm toy. We don’t need a second one. But, as the Fates would have it, the box of the FPoST was mangled in what I believe to be a run-in with a mean Chihuahua. So I couldn’t even give this FPoST away in the classic re-gift fashion. (Not that I would ever do that.)

So it sat in my garage for seven months. My kids would file in and out of the car and gaze longingly at the toy to which I would reply, “Keep it moving. Keep it moving. We already have FPoST farm.”

Well one day last week I was feeling weak. And I agreed to open it for them.

Now I know I am not the first parent to bemoan the particular cruelty and the insane torture of opening children’s toys. But who is this sadist that engineers these various twist-ties, plastic tags and super-strength tape to package these things? Someone who hates people. Because it isn’t enough that we bleed ourselves dry to buy these toys for our children but now we must physically suffer as well.

I begin my journey into Hades by pulling at the cardboard box for a good five minutes before I decide to get the knife. Since I was already feeling stabby, I am able to get some aggression out on the FPoST’s outer layer.

Success. I’m on the inside. I’m feeling good. I see my next obstacle. There is not one, not two, not three…but 12 twist-ties to unravel. And each twist-tie is doubled-up for good measure. I decided to roll up my sleeves and sit down on the floor to get the job done. The kids are impatient though and start berating me to go faster. My heart is racing under the pressure and it isn’t helping matters. “Hurry Mama! Hurry! What is taking so long?!?!?” Even Lincoln chimes in, “Mama, toy! Mama, toy! Pease Mama! Pease!!! Toy!!!” I’m sweating profusely now.

It takes me 15 minutes just to untie the bastard, demon twisties. Now I have to pull them out of the FPoST. But for some reason, they are stuck in there and refuse to come out. My sweaty hands keep slipping right off so I dry them. But now my skin feels as if it is going to tear open as I tug, curse, tug, curse, curse, tug my way through another 15 minutes.

Those bitches still won’t come out. Lincoln has now pooped and I’m trying to hide my nose in my shirt so I don’t inhale the fetid fumes. I’m either too determined or too lazy to stop and change him. You take a random guess as to which is the case.  

Finally I figure out that bending, tugging, cursing, bending, tugging, cursing is the best strategy. They all come out. I release the farm from the box and find eight more twisties on the inside.

By the time I am finished, the kids have moved on to other toys and don’t give a shit about this particular FPoST. When I discover that it also needs batteries, I roll up into fetal position and suck my thumb for an hour.

The FPoST now sits on our shelf as a reminder – a reminder of the tenuous nature of our international relationship with China, a reminder that my children no longer respect me because I can’t open a toy for them in under an hour, and a reminder that I need to clean house one of these days.

Damn, that FPoST is dusty.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Confession - My Funny Valentine


I woke up this morning and thought, “Hey! To show Larry just how much I love him, I will clean the house and make a wonderful dinner.”

I ended up calling the housecleaner at noon.

But I do have to give him something. So here it is – my list of all the reasons I love my husband of almost 7 years….

I love him for…

…choosing a theater geek for a wife. It could not have been an easy decision.

…loving every bit of me – even the extra large bits that came with having Lincoln.

…being patient with my temper. Even though he causes it about 33% of the time. Which leads me to…

…honorably accepting blame for just about everything.

…letting me take credit for just about everything too.

…always saying my food tastes good even when I overcook the chicken as usual because I have a pathological fear of salmonella poisoning.

…buying me a new car this year. (It hasn’t actually happened yet. But I know he’s planning it. I have faith. He’s gonna do it. I know it. He better.)

…giving each of my children a fighting chance at reaching an average height.

…putting up with my bouts of ennui. They usually come after I’ve read a Twilight book and remember how boring real life is without vampire drama.

…having a great sense of humor – even if it is sarcastic and I’m constantly guessing whether or not he’s being sincere. (Hmmm….Maybe I should reexamine the above statement about my food.)

…this.



…this.



…even this. (Which he totally caused.)



…this, most of all, this Valentine's Day. 


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Obsession - Best Valentine's Day Card Ever!

I have loved this idea for a whole year.


Last year, for Maya's preschool class, I made these cute butterfly valentines because she was totally into butterflies and I wanted to be crafty. Crafty and I don't mix. The butterflies came out so-so and I ended up with scissor claw for the rest of the week.


Probably the day after V-day, I discovered Design Mom. (That obsession will be covered in a separate post some time soon.) She posted a link to this wonderful Valentine's project, I bookmarked it and have obsessed about it for almost 350 days now.


It's easy. It's adorable. It'll save you from phalangical deformity.


Here's the cute card in a horrible photo.




You take a photo of your kid with their arm stretched out. I used Photoshop to make it into a card. You print it. You use an Exacto knife or sharp scissor points to make two slits at the top and bottom of the hand. You stick a lollipop in the bitch. You do the lazy-mom version of the happy dance which is basically wiggling your bootie slightly in your chair.


Nothing in my life has been this simple. Thank you Alissa!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Culture - A Bravo New World


There are people out there “above” reality television and I say good for you! You are mentally superior and probably a happier person. Absolutely. Without a doubt, actually.

But would I give up my Bravo shows for a chance at self-actualization? Oh hells no!

I absolutely LIVE for my Housewives and my Flipping Out and my Top Chef. Little in this world titillates me like the sight of Tom Colicchio’s bald head.

Yes, it is cerebral vacation after I put the kids to bed. But today I challenge you to open your mind to the idea that these shows actually offer something deeper and more meaningful to our social and cultural landscape.

Wait! Don’t leave yet!

Let’s focus on the Housewives franchise or “the stereotypical antics of catty, drama-driven trainwrecks obsessed with looks, money and fame.”

These women are brilliant. It’s that plain and simple. They create complex plots of tragedy and melodrama out of the ether and present it as “real life.” In grad school, this meta-reality would be referred to as the “performance of everyday life.”  How do they do it? It is as if they know the secret of fire…simply rub two silicone implants together and, voila, a hot mess ignites!

And don’t get me started on the editing. A housewife makes a peanut butter sandwich. Add music and close-ups on befuddled faces. The scene is now rife with comedy and relatable charm. You know these people. You are that woman. You too routinely botch a simple, tasty afternoon snack while wearing diamonds in a Maloof mansion. It’s the American dream people!

Throughout each season, villains emerge and heroes prevail. Until the next season when the villain’s porn tape comes out and the hero is bankrupt. But, like the phoenix, they will rise out of the cigarette ashes with new hair extensions and magic tits to fly once more in the face of adversity.

The American dream.

Though my full potential was lost somewhere between DC and Atlanta, I see my viewership as charitable act. I give of my time so that they can continue making tens of hundreds of dollars and eventually leave their controlling husbands to stand on their own two Gucci-heeled feet. Women supporting women. It’s a feminist cause, really.

I don't ask a lot of my husband, really. (I hear snickering somewhere!) But I do ask that, when a reunion episode is on, he keep the children as far away from me as possible. It's for their own safety...and the feminist movement. 

What about you? Do you endorse this cause?

Tune in for my next lecture in cultural studies: “Sister Wives: Five Idiots or One Brilliant Dude?” Just kidding! Maybe. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cooking -Tacos de Pavo en el Infierno

I love to cook. But making dinner is no longer about leisurely preparing a culinary bounty built on a foundation of health, love and togetherness. It's war, baby. Rather, it's war...with my baby. 

So here's a play by play for those of you who need a field manual on putting something edible on the table when you have a clingy 18 month old. Pay attention. It's gonna get ugly.

Tacos de Pavo en el Infierno (Turkey Tacos in Hell)

Ingredients

Turkey                                 Baby Crack 
Taco Shells                        Lettuce
Random Spices                 Salsa
Cheese                                Whatever Else I Can Find

1. Administer the baby crack.



2. Run to the kitchen and throw shit into a pan for the side dish. Yes, I know I'm crazy for suggesting a side dish but let's blame it on my OCD. I cannot have a meal without a side dish. Here's a fideo-ish thingy which is basically pasta with tomato sauce.  

3.Saute pasta in some oil. Burn your finger as usual but remember that nothing hurts more than the mental assault that will be inflicted in just a few minutes.



4. Add tomato sauce, seasonings, water and perspiration. Bring to boil and then simmer for 13 minutes. 


5. Steel yourself because here it comes. 




He has found you and he is not happy. You have abandoned him and left him to fend for himself in cruel, harsh world. What kind of mother are you? Why is dinner more important than him? Crying, demands to "hold you," and tantrums ensue. 

6. Take him back to the baby crack and slip away the minute he is consumed by the psychotropic images. 

7. Time to start the taco meat. Pull out the one and only real talent you possess in life. 


I can chop an onion like nobody's business. 

8. Throw the onion and the meat and the seasonings into a pan.



9. Look at your spice cabinet and reflect for a moment.

My Spice Cabinet


Barefoot Contessa's Spice Drawer
Shed one tear and move on.

10. Administer second level of defense when you hear the next round of whimpering.




11. Under the stress of the screaming, you drop your spatula on the floor. You waste a whole five seconds wondering just how unsanitary it would be to keep on using it. You decide not to risk it since you've already dealt with baby vomit once this week. 

12. Now thank the baby Jesus and Target for pre-shredded cheese.


13.  Since the show has now ended, begin throwing snacks at the tiny beast and hope that they won't fill him up so much that he won't sit through at least part of dinner.

14. Give your spouse dagger eyes because he just walked through the door at 6:08 and he was supposed to be home at 6:00.  

15. Put dinner on the table but get up at least five times for drinks, napkins, extra utensils, wipes and Tylenol for your splitting headache. 

16. Realize there is a silver lining...


One child has survived this evening without deep emotional scars. (And look! There's even a vegetable on her plate! Where did that come from?) 

Bon appetit! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Confession Numero Uno


The first thing you should know about me is that if I can’t do something well, I’d prefer not to do it at all. This goes for many things in my life including crafting, gardening and housework – the holy trinity of a proper housewife and the trifecta of duties I routinely ignore.

So, with the start of this blog, I am jumping one of many mental hurdles.

I could’ve followed my usual instincts as I did this afternoon. I sat down to begin writing but was distracted by some other amazing blog entry. I read. I laughed. I marveled at the wit and the candor.

I then decided to take a nap.  One minute I’m coming face to face with my own mediocrity. The next minute I’m snoring.

Now I know you must be wondering, “How does a stay at home mom of two little ones take a nap?” Again, I figured I wasn’t doing the parenting thing particularly well today so I decided to skip it. Lincoln’s taking his nap. Maya’s set up on the computer playing Playhouse Disney games. (Feel free to notify Child Protective Services.)

After a blissful 40 minutes of dreaming about McDonald’s French Fries, I woke up to the sounds of Charlie and Lola.

Lola.

Another reminder of three things I’m not good at – being young, being skinny and being British.

I know I can’t help two out of three of those things but that doesn’t make me feel better so I curl up under the covers until the sounds of my youngest waking sends fresh shivers down my spine.

So what have we learned from all this? A. I’m lazy and B….well, all my other flaws are just variations on the lazy theme, so let’s just abandon the list full stop. (That’s what the British would say.)

Better yet, let’s break the cycle and put a positive spin on it like all us obnoxious moms do on our children. I’m not lazy. I’m a PERFECTIONIST.

This column embodies perfection and so will this blog.

Join me and bring fries!
Michelle

Ps. I did eventually get out of bed and feed my children. I know you were worried.