a little goes a long way

i have known my best friend for more than thirty years. her name is shannon. i am six months older but she is more mature. way. together we are gorgeous, neurotic and hilarious. we share common interests; including entertainment, clothing, accessories and sweet tooths. especially the sweet tooths. we have been through the thick and the thin, the better and the worse and we still love each other. she is my sister, my mentor and my therapist. i love her dearly. when our relationship started, we were little girls. we have survived childhood, adolescence and have grown into women. we have weathered the storms of other friends, boyfriends, the birth of each others firsts and the death of loved ones. we are part of each others families and we wouldn’t want it any other way. while we have been many places together and share many memories, we have always had the best time doing absolutely nothing… besides being together.

we grew up across the street from one another. i would go to her house for days on end. she had a swimming pool, snack drawer, little brother and a gramma much like my own. her mom introduced herself to my gramma in the grocery store. the rest is a lifetime worth of memories and good times. we have walked, biked and roller skated through the city of grand terrace a hundred times over. i have probably spent years of my life at her mom’s house. we used to hunt for ladybugs, ride anything with wheels and spend hours a day in the backyard. we would sit up at night in the kitchen; snack on everything and giggle about anything. as we got older we continued with these same activities, even after we moved away from our parents and grandparents.  we have always snuck out of the house to see each other when we were sick and not supposed to go anywhere. we also used to call each other and say:

“i’m bored.”

“me too.”

“well come over here and be bored with me.”

isn’t that hilarious? and we would do exactly that. just be in the same place. bored and usually eating. we simply enjoyed the company. we don’t get together as often as we used to because.. well…. because we’re adults, we have families, jobs and other obligations. the days turn into weeks and months before you know it. it took me a long time to realize that it didn’t matter if we had elaborate plans, simple plans or if we actually did anything at all. just being together and sharing is all the good time we needed.

shannon has two children and they are both my sweethearts. callie is my original sweetheart. she is shannon’s first. she is my first as well. i experienced that pregnancy with shannon, including nausea, weight gain and sobriety. the three of us (shannon, alfonso and i) were connected at the hip during that time. we went to shannon’s appointments together, we painted the house together and we even went to lamaze class as a happy family; just the three of us. i was enamored with this little girl and she had yet to take a breath. she had a place in my heart, my home and my new car. she happened to be born on my saturday. at that time i had three consecutive days off. i took two extra days off just to be close. i was so excited to see and meet her. when shannon returned to work three months later. i kept callie for one of those three days off. i had my own supplies including car seat, bathtub, towels, clothing and eating supplies. she always made me happy. when i felt bad, i went to see callie. when i felt depressed, i went to see callie. whenever i needed a pick-me-up, i sought callie. she loved me too. one day she sat on my head and when her mama inquired as to what she was doing, she responded:

“i love herrrrrrrrrr.”

years later, when i was pregnant with my son, i saw her almost everyday. they lived in between my work and home. every night i would stop by and give her a bath. we had fuuuuuun. this carried on until my prego belly was too big to accommodate. i was unable to find a comfortable way to bathe her and still be able to breathe. not to mention, my son had his hard joints pressed into every rib. yes, bathing my darlin’ became a chore and i had to resign. she was N. O. T. happy. not at all. she cried the first night. she refused to allow shannon to bathe her. she wanted “neeeeesshaaa to doooo itttt”. she didn’t even stay in the bathtub, she got up, stomped down the hallway to the master bedroom and sat sulking on the floor of the shower.

my son, kenneth, was born a few months later. shannon was present and pacing in the delivery room. moments after he was born, i dismissed my cheerleader and fan club to get some much-needed rest. the next morning i received a phone call from her asking:

“can you have four-year-old visitors? can you please ask? she’s dying to see you. she’s been crying about it.”

my poor sweetheart was tortured knowing that kenneth had made it into the world and that she hadn’t seen him yet. she came to the hospital laden with gifts, goodies and curiosity. she even wore a new outfit! she climbed up in the bed beside me and looked at him with awe. she inspected his fingers and toes. his not yet formed belly button. she commented on how hairy he was. she was so excited she could hardly contain herself. a week later, we all (alfonso, shannon, callie, mike, kenneth and i) went to big bear for a couple of nights. it was during that time that callie found out that newborns were not as much fun as she had hoped. they don’t play, they don’t cooperate and they usually have something going in or coming out of them. that did not hinder her interest in him at all. she was attendant at every diaper change and she asked every question under the sun. she loved kenneth. she kept tabs on him and she made the idea of nursing him utterly hilarious.

“why he cry, neesha?”

“he’s hungry sweetheart.”

“what him wants, neesha?”

“he drinks milk.”

“oh, want mama get it ?”

“no sweetheart, i have milk for him.”

“where?”

“well. hold on, lemme ask mama something.”

“shaaaaaaannon!”

“what?”

“callie wants to know where his milk comes from.”

“tell her.”

“ok. well, sweetheart, his milk is in my boobies.”

“oh” she said with a very curious look on her face. we all know it was a concept too complex for her to understand, but she attempted to. every time he cried after that she said:

“i think him hungry. i think him wants you boobie.”

priceless! she is still just as curious and candid today. i love her very much. she is absolutely beautiful inside and out. she is very considerate and helpful. she got to be big sister for kenneth and that turned out to be excellent training when the MadMad showed up almost two years later. i was not as close in proximity when shannon was pregnant with AJ. she gave birth to him quietly and without me as a screaming cheerleader. we did not start out with the same relationship that i had with callie. however, we have since made up for it and he is my friend. he comes to me when he’s happy, hungry or hurt. he sometimes calls me “neesa”. and sometimes he calls me “mama”. i’ll take it either way. he’s a lot of fun and i adore him just as much as i adore his sister. i have given birth once, but i have three children. they rock my world.

now, with ALL of that said, we are two women, two friends, and we share our three children. we are close in ways that cannot be explained. hopefully the friendships of our children will stand the test of time and they can blog about each other in the future. we had a sleepover recently. simple, yet astounding. shannon and her little man, my friend “the MadMan AJ” came to pick us up. apparently, AJ had inquired as to our whereabouts first thing in the morning for two days in a row. he’d asked for us and we were available. the boys are always excited to see and play with each other.  they pulled up into the driveway and as shannon opened her door, i could hear AJ chanting:

“kenneth. kenneth. kenneth?”

his voice makes me smile. he’s a happy little man. he has the most expressive eyes and boy, does he know how to use them. i peeked inside the car and when he saw me those eyes opened wide and he squealed:

“neeeessa! kenneth? kenneth? kenneth?”

“he’s coming sweetheart, hold on.”

“kenneth?”

we made a few stops and when we got to the house, the boys busted out of the car faster than you could imagine. they ran straight inside murmuring about choo choo trains and went into AJ’s room. he came out shortly with a puzzled look on his face:

“neeesa. help. choo choo train.”

i pulled all of the train related items from our overnight gear. they just wanted to hold a train each and watch the thomas the train dvd. two peas in a pod those boys are.  they rip and run until they are worn out. they get testy with one another and have been known to hit. but if you separate them, you’ll be sorry. they have to have eyes on each other at all times. my son asks for AJ constantly. you would think they were separated at birth. good memories and a great friendship are being formed. it warms my heart.

so we watched some movies, snacked (of course),  and then it was bedtime… until “g’morning!”. we were going to make breakfast. WERE. we had pulled the waffle iron out and all sorts of things, only to realize that the dishwasher was going to be installed and the magic man that would do it was already on his way. plan change: to zorba’s i went. with breakfast retrieved and the boys seated, we served them and fed ourselves standing, the way most moms do.

we didn’t have any plans, just to be together. we often take the kids for walks. to help expend some energy, to get them out of the house, to enjoy the world and all of the critters it has to offer. so, we walked to the park. they had so much fun. all three kids were on the swings at the same time. i was being ordered around:

“mama, push me.” from my own.

“neesa. fwing. help.” from the MadMan, and

“neesha, can you push me higher?” from the little miss.

they were ecstatic. it was amazing. they were laughing hysterically and for just a second and it made me laugh too. they were so happy and it didn’t cost a dime to take them to the park. they were swinging with each other, laughing at one another and enjoying life. callie and i agreed that swinging barefoot is the bees knees. if you’ve never done it, i suggest you do it. i took so many pictures. i just wanted to stay there and watch them. freeze time. they grow up so fast and time breezes by.

this friendship, between shannon and i, this life long friendship was based around these same types of outings. going for walks, bike rides and swinging at the park. when we were kids, shannon almost always took me with her, wherever she went. we have been everywhere together. her family has always included me and treated me as a family member. back then, we didn’t have money or cars, we just had each other. someone to talk to and laugh with. we were blessed that our families came to pass one another. and our children are also blessed because of it. they are able to visit, interact and love one another as often as we can get them together. granted, groceries, water for fun and baths, along with something damaged and/or broken are not free. they are a luxury, but the time together is free, and the small cost is worth it. our friendship and theirs are effortless and rewarding. just us. just them. it’s essentially us all over again, but this time with an audience.

i have come to appreciate this friendship on a whole new level now that we have children and they are able to interact. i have some very dear friends from my childhood and from my different places of employ, but my thirty year friendship with shannon is one to be recognized. we have been through a lot, and even when separated by distance, we have always been there for each other. i hope that our children are able to foster the same type of relationships with each other. we have laid the ground work and provided an example. we talk to each other, laugh with and at each other, and we love each other. we share, we care and we make room for each other and our kids. we don’t always make plans or have a place to go. we just need to make room and be prepared. yup, a little goes a long way.

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awkward bar behavior

i don’t go out that much. not for any one reason over another, i just don’t. but occasionally i suffer a build-up of boogie and i gotta go dance. last night was one of those nights. i met up with a new found friend and after the identification scan and size-up by security i gained access to the sounds that would make me shake a tail feather. but to be honest, upon entering, i was so caught up in the behaviors of the crowd that i almost forgot to dance. people watching is an all time favorite past time, but intoxicated dancing folk of all ages is far beyond what the mind can conceive. in bad form, i spent the majority of the evening typing notes into my cell phone. my fellow boogie-r told me

“i’m going to take that phone away from you, get off facebook.”

to which i responded;

” i am not on facebook, i’m taking notes! this is waaaaaay better than facebook.”

and it was. it really was.

as i drove into the parking lot, i found myself apprehensive. i instantly felt overdressed and too old. but i parked, primped and headed for the door. my sweet friend awaiting my arrival. once i got to the door i found other gals dressed to the same tune as me. the young boys that i had seen in the parking lot were not representative of the bar/club male population as a whole. there were all ages, shapes, sizes, races and hair-dos. my mind was wishing that i had a laptop and a video camera so that this post would be complete with audio and visual and provide for you an entire experience. alas, what i have are my memories, my notes and my words.

so let’s get started. the title sums it up. awkward bar behavior. now, far be it for me to say what should and shouldn’t be done. i can only tell you what i like and don’t like and what MY definition of awkward is. everyone likes something different. everyone finds something else attractive and alluring. and then there are a few things that are across the board. i think these are some of those. they are in the order in which they came to my attention.

  1. don’t sit and stare. this is self-explanatory and to the point. don’t sit and stare. it’s creepy, it makes you look creepy and in a few more seconds you’re going to look like a registered sex offender. so, simply stated, don’t sit and stare. if you like something about someone, tell them. be a grown up and deal with the little bit of rejection and/or possibility that will come with verbal contact. sitting and staring is creepy, don’t do it.
  2. any pants/underwear/bra adjustment, at all, is not acceptable. again. very simple. we all have situations, but personal adjustments of the body are just strange. for people that are watching you, it can border on disgusting, so be wary of taking place in something so personal in so public. you don’t have to go hide, but turn towards the wall or turn down a hallway or something. don’t just stand there and move things about as if you’re not TOUCHING YOURSELF. we have eyes! we can see you.
  3. the “i work too hard for my look”. not everyone has style, but those that do flaunt it. i’m good with that. i have no problem with that. but your look, no matter how fan-tab-u-lous and wonderful shouldn’t look like it took you seventeen hours and a set of cliff’s notes to do it. be gorgeous, feel great and work it! but try to make it look a little less like work and more like you.
  4. the “where ya been giiiiiiiiirl?”. this one was particularly entertaining. it seemed to be a one-sided situation with men walking up to women, attempting to hug them and saying “where ya been giiiiiiiiirl?” most of the girls seemed to be caught off guard and their eyes were squinted with inquiry as to “hmm. do i know him? where do i know him from? how long has it been since i’ve seen him? and why is he acting like we’re bff’s who haven’t seen each other in months? hmm. weird.”
  5. the shadow dancer. you know this person. they walk up behind some unsuspecting solo dancer and proceed to dance with them without invitation or prompting. they usually tend to do this for their friends and often throw glances, winks, smirks and hi-fives in that direction. i think they deserve a throat-punch, but that’s just me. if you’re a shadow dancer, shame on you, ya freak. ask. if you get rejected, deal with it. otherwise you had better guard your throat!
  6. bikini clad 1/4 sasquatch girls. mmm hmm. that’s what i saw. beautiful young shapely girls with their make-up done “just so”. dancing upon their tiny stages with a sour look on their faces. one of them was smiling, the other looked like someone farted in her face. it wasn’t until they took a little water break that i saw they were both one-quarter sasquatch. from the knees down, both of them wore long, furry boots. wth? where is this a trend? where is this fashionable and why are they not there instead of here? funny.
  7. say it don’t spray it. inside a bar/club the music is loud. for obvious reasons. this forces people to speak loudly, bringing their outside voice inside. but, for some, projecting their voice forces them to basically shout. long story short, speak loudly, but do not fling spit on the poor person who is trying to listen to you. this is obviously not only the case in the club, but if it’s the case for you, be aware dammit! the fastest way to get your feelings hurt mid-syllable is to spit on someone. fix it.
  8. don’t wear your eighty dollar suede Calvin Kleins. you guessed it. i wore my suede Calvin Kleins. outside of the entertainment of people watching, i spent an insane amount of time keeping my toes pointed in and way from traffic and trying to be conscious of the sloppy drunk who would undoubtedly bump into me spilling their drink on me and my shoes. i could care less about the dress or my skin, considering i’m waterproof and all, but my shoes! lord love a duck, don’t touch, step-on, or spill $h!t on my shoes!
  9. mr. sit-in-the-way. this guy. placed his bar stool into the lane of foot traffic so that he can push his knee, elbow or arm into the lovely passers by. stop it. creep. the next time you try to rub against me, i’m going to donkey-kick you right in the biz-ness! i can’t do anything about you looking, but if you attempt to touch me one more time… well.. it will be your last conscious decision of the day. and i mean that. creep.
  10. shave, deodorize, and be clean. um.. yeah, it’s that simple. i don’t care if you know you’re going to sweat like a pig in heat. TAKE A SHOWER AND PUT ON DEODORANT. you will not impress anyone with your funk. this includes brushing your teeth. and for the love of pete, if you have something to shave, do it. i don’t want to hear it, just do it.
  11. do not, don’t and do not touch. i know there are a lot of people in the world considered “touchy feely” people”. i think i’m one. i don’t flinch at a hand shake, hug or kiss on the cheek. i often touch a shoulder or hand when i am talking to someone about something personal or emotional. however, the club is NOT the place to be touchy feely. at all. before you decide to reach out; answer these questions: do you know that person? are you friends? are you friends on any physical level? if the answer to any one of them is NO, don’t touch. just don’t. i know it’s tempting, but don’t. just don’t. it’s comparable to sitting and staring. for me, it’s taken as a total lack of respect for personal space. if you touch me before ever speaking to me.. your voice falls on deaf ears. you have rendered yourself useless. introduce yourself, get a feeling– a vibe and even then… don’t touch without invitation.
  12. security in mittens? since when did security start wearing mittens? not gloves, i know what gloves look like. mittens. black mittens. ??? is this a security measure? so that when mr. sit-in-the-way gets a little too zealous and he has to be escorted out that they don’t leave fingerprints? too much CSI. mittened hands are creepy in a club. go outside and throw some snowballs, weirdo.
  13. jack in the box. ok. this is just for the laugh, but i went to jack in the box on my way home. it was about fifty minutes before they closed. they are the only place open at this time in my area and it was obvious. there were at least five cars in front of and also behind me. now, i know there are a few exceptions, but come on people! this is not your first time at jack in the crack. the menu is simple. make up your drunk @$$ mind before you get to the speaker. order. pull forward. pay and get the hell outta the way. the drive-thru worker and i had one helluva hoot and holler over this. i made him laugh something fierce. a good time was had by the both of us. you get the picture. it’s a drive-thru. driiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive-thru.

and with that said, i have concluded my list of club do’s and don’ts. in the event that i should feel pressured to release the boogie again, i’m sure i’ll return with “awkward bar behavior ii”. until then: live, love and laugh. especially laugh.

the simplicities of the intricacies

we have a beautiful backyard. i will be the first to admit that i have not used it for all that it is worth. we have a covered gazebo, swimming pool, grass and garden areas, an avocado tree, and barbecue attached to the gas line. the pool is not fenced, so taking my son into the backyard is nothing short of a mild heart attack. the anxiety caused by just thinking about it keeps me from actually going out there. yes, i understand that i have robbed myself and my son of some wonderful outside antics. but, i am also certain that i have saved him from a near death experience, or twelve, and also saved myself from having to jump into whatever-temperature water to save him. thems the breaks. i cannot change what i have done, only what i will do.

so, i decided to go outside the other day. it was beautiful for the ump-teenth day in a row and very inviting. i tend to occupy the area to the far side of the pool that i call the “stage”. it’s two steps up from the deck and sits between two low gardens. one day i will actually garden those gardens, in the meantime we will let the ground cover… cover. the stage is in the middle of the yard, facing the house. prime seating for just about anything. i can see the entire yard and into the house from there. kinda like a lifeguard, but with a lot less skin, a rickety bench, and four years of bein’ a mom under my belt. a mama-guard. essentially, just a mom, but i like to accentuate the many qualities and jobs contained therein. what better way than a dash? anyway…

i cannot touch the sliding glass door or the screen without mr. mini-me and his canine-like sense of hearing:

“go outside mommy? go outside?”

“yes, bubs, put your shoes on.”

“ok, ok, ok. oooooooh kay!”

with my shoes on and his at least retrieved, we busted out of the house and into the world. it really was beautiful. there was a slight breeze and wisps of white clouds against the baby blue background called the sky. so i took my place on the debatable bench upon “the stage”, (i call it debatable because it came in a box and was probably put together with a butter knife). the sun is such an overwhelming force. my skin went warm and then hot. i don’t mind it though. i actually enjoy sun bathing. my son sat at the steps of the shallow end with his feet in the water. that didn’t last for long. lucky for the two of us, he managed to get distracted by the water hose. just then, my aunt came outside and she turned it on for him. it almost shot him right in the face! i laughed so hard at just the thought.

i adjusted the bench to optimize my receipt of the sun rays. he ran this way and that with the hose laughing and giggling the way a child should. he seemed to have a hard time holding the hose and getting wet so i did what any mom would. i took the hose from him and squirted him from head to toe. hahahahah! i sprayed it up in the air and let him run through it, under it and over it. he has such a great laugh when he’s having fun. he was soaked and ecstatic. i went inside and brought him a towel and a fresh outfit. when he said that he was cold, i changed his clothes and warmed up with a hug, a kiss and a few minutes in the sun. he was happy and entertained and it didn’t cost anything more than the water we were using. he got to expend some of his boundless SuperBoy energy and get dirty, wet and delirious all at once. i thought to myself “man, i’m gonna have to do this more often.”

i decided to further enjoy myself, but we would need some supplies. after seven minutes of consistent debate, i convinced my son to come inside with me, momentarily, while i changed into something worthy of sunbathing and got a snack or two. we returned outside with a small picnic and half the living room furniture. i took his little people table and chair outside. he felt it necessary to bring his sleeping bag, two pillows, both stuffed tiggers and the loving valentine sock monkey couple. hey, whatever makes him happy (within reason, and most of the time), right? he laid on the sleeping bag with his stuffed friends, mumbling to himself and resisting his nap.

it was during this time that i just sat looking, admiring and generally falling in love with the world around me. the breeze picked up and i could hear the many wind chimes clinking away. i watched as the resident lizards shifted this way and that in an attempt to also maximize their sunning. our neighborhood is a white-picket-fence type area. all of the houses have trees. most of them have at least one fruit tree, usually citrus. we have an avocado tree. the number of birds in the area is awe inspiring. we have a few regulars including an family of owls in the palm out front, one little black bird (he looks like he has a mohawk) that bathes in the swimming pool, and another with a white tail that uses the natural angle of the roof to aid in her early morning bug hunt and devour.

as i sat admiring the huge beige lizard just above my son’s head, i was delighted to see a few hummingbirds. they are mesmerizing, aren’t they? so tiny, weightless and never still. anyway, they seemed to be playing tag because they flew this way, one behind the other, and then back just as quickly. i don’t know how many there were, but i enjoyed them just the same. i was blankly staring at the avocado tree when my glance fell upon the joshua tree next to it. it always stands so proud in it’s awkward, no-method-to-the-madness shape. growing and regenerating from the inside out. the older leaves, brown and winkled, hanging down revealing the trees history. the newer leaves, untwisting and revealing themselves from the top. it seems to me that people grow and regenerate in the same way. maturing on the inside, but constantly changing and shedding the outside. our eyes and our hearts weather the storms of life. but our mind changes and grows and can always provide something new. we manipulate our hair and clothing to project what we want others to see. trees have no such option, but they don’t seem to mind.

while pondering the age of the joshua tree, one of the hummingbirds fluttered about. she (i call her she because it seems appropriate for something so cute, sweet and delicate) zigged and zagged and eventually came to rest upon one of the thick triangular leaves. the breeze that was present when i first went outside had picked up significantly. the hummingbird sat motionless except for the wind at it’s back. the leaf swayed and bounced and she seemed not to care. if i hadn’t seen her flying about i would have no idea that she was there. i watched her for a moment or so until i saw a bright flash out of the corner of my eye. it was the surface of the water in the swimming pool.

i love water. i always have. perhaps it is because i am an aquarius. or perhaps it’s because i like water. i particularly enjoy watching water be effected. the wind invading it’s space or rain drops making it dance. either way, i’m hooked. i used to live in an apartment facing the swimming pool. i liked to watch the rain and the pool collide. enchanting and entrancing. but at this moment, the wind was creating super tiny waves, pushing the surface debris toward the shallow end. my mind wandered about the things i was seeing and i contemplated the following:

  1. water and air are unpredictable forces of nature.
  2. they are both colorless and odorless when in their natural states.
  3. neither water nor air has a shape unless it is contained.
  4. they both contain pressure, currents and debris.
  5. when stirred up by mother nature, the affects of their damage is devastating.

those thoughts led me to ponder and question the world and our atmosphere. water, which has to be contained to stay in one place, is able to hold on to the spinning ball of dirt that we call earth. on top of that, we have a very delicate, yet balanced atmosphere that somehow manages to deal with the fact that we all inhale and exhale but we aren’t dead yet. can you say wow?!? i did. i don’t ponder too far after that. i love the scientific look on life. extracting the aesthetics and the shells and getting to the core of something, but i didn’t want to dissect the concept to the point of destruction. life and it’s intimate secrets border on the ultimate magic. once you learn the card trick or the how the rabbit actually disappears, it’s not as enchanting. i want to maintain my wonder and awe.

by this time, my skin was hot to the touch. i had changed from my usual paper-sack-tan skin tone to that of a burnt biscuit. my son was pink in the cheeks and cranky because he was void of a nap. it was time to go inside and leave the joy and wonder of the backyard. we had a good time and it didn’t cost us anything but the energy expended. my son had the time of his life with a water hose and i had been entertained for hours by just being. how spectacular! we’ll have to do this again… very soon.

nothing in life is simple. even if it appears to be simple, it is not. there is a driving force behind any and everything that, even when explained, cannot truly provide a reasonable theory of what is actually going on. everything is intricate. the simplicity lies within our view and our interest. sometimes, it is best to look, admire and move on. i can’t wait to see it all again. even though i have seen it all before, it will still be brand new.

the emotional warfare of the romantic and the realist

a conversation between the romantic and the realist.

romantic: why doesn’t he call? or text? or something? when i text, why is he so short? so sterile? do you think he’s over me? i’m not over him. god i want him back so bad. why is he doing this? why won’t he talk to me and tell me what’s going on?

realist: stop.

romantic: do you think he still wants me? or do you think there’s someone else? imma call. imma call him and get him to talk to me.

realist: stop. don’t do that.

romantic: why? why? i deserve an answer. how did this happen? what happened? i really don’t understand and i need to understand.

realist: no. you don’t need to underst–

romantic: you stop. i know what you’re going to say.

realist: what?

romantic: that i don’t NEED to understand, that i WANT to understand, and to that i say that yoooou don’t understand because i dooooooooo NEEEEEEED to understand. i need him to make me understand. why can’t he do that? why is this so hard? i’m not hard to talk to?

realist: really?

romantic: shut up. i want to call. you want me to call. can i call? please? i need to know what the hell happened. why did he just quit? why did he give up on me? everything seemed to be going so well. this doesn’t make any sense. none. you don’t act like THAT and then act like this. it’s madness. or schizophrenia. either way i want some answers.

realist: why? you know what’s going to happen. you’re obsessive. you never let it go. in YOUR world answers only lead to more questions and nothing good is going to come from it. what if he says something you don’t want to hear? and you get your feelings hurt?? what will you do then? get MORE depressed about him and that half-ass relationship that only YOU were in.

romantic: i hate you. i really do. I WANT ANSWERS. i’m going to call. where’s my phone?

realist: serious? you’re asking for trouble. just leave it alone. you were doing so well.

romantic: i wasn’t. i never was. i think about him day and night. i miss the communication and the sharing. i miss the reading and the writing. and oh God, if i don’t miss the kissing and the hugs. where’s my phone?

realist: i’m outta here. i’m not going to stand by while you shatter yourself again. just leave it alone.

romantic: I DON’T WANT TO!!! ok? ok?? i don’t want to. i want to talk to him. i want to be with him. i want all of those things we talked about. i can’t underst– i don’t– aaaaaaaah! never mind, i’m sure as shit not gonna talk to you about it anymore while you sit there staring me down with your “you’re pathetic” look. eff you!

realist: you’re not pathetic. i never said that and don’t get all crazy because you’re all crazy. we can talk about it as much as you want, but you know how i feel. i just don’t think it’s good for you to go through the ups and downs. we’ve both seen it before. you text and you wait. OBSESSIVELY, with your phone in your hand checking it every 17 seconds. if he doesn’t text, you’ll be hurt. if he does text then you’re happy for 49 seconds, just long enough for you to send back three texts with far too much information, way too many questions and the sour air of lingering desperation.

romantic: what? did you just call me desperate?? maaaaaaaan—

realist: stop. ok? i didn’t call YOU desperate, ok? but you are actively seeking some sort of contact with him, any contact. and it’s just .. it’s…

romantic: it’s what? it’s what? huh?

realist: i don’t like to see you like this. you’re on edge and on the verge of being rude. he’s under your skin. again. but why? you had to reach out to him, repeatedly. and for what? for absolutely nothing. you’re over here going stir crazy and he’s resting easy.

romantic: you don’t know that. he said that he missed me.

realist: yeah, well, when you miss someone do you just cut off contact for several months? i don’t. do you? no! so stop already. words are words and actions are actions. you need to look at the actions and stop listening to the words.

romantic: but the words are so beautiful. they make me feel beautiful.

realist: they are just words. your beauty is in your heart and in the mirror. where are his words? on your phone! he hasn’t even called you. what’s up with that? he used to call, but now no more? why? because you shared parts of his life with parts of your life? that’s bullshit. when people get together, join, date, etc.. worlds collide.

romantic: what are you talking about?

realist: hey! don’t get lost. remember when he told you that he wished you wouldn’t share what you and he talk about? why? if he’s in your life, why can’t you share? i’m not talking about intimate details, but the information you did share wasn’t the most personal information. it was not worthy of exile. he’s trippin’ and he’s got you trippin’. i don’t like to see you like this. you’re emotional, volatile and cranky. we need to talk about something else.

romantic: i don’t want to. i want to talk about him. he’s always on my mind. i try to get him out of my head and off my mind, but he won’t go. i don’t really want him to go. i want to keep him. we made plans! we talked everyday. i just.. i just don’t understand.

realist: yes, yes you do. you just don’t want to come to terms with it. it means that you will have to let go of him and you don’t want to. i understand.. he was a knight in shining armor.. but like the whatchamacallit says: what you thought was a knight in shining armor turned out to be a fool in tin foil. come on honey. you gotta let this go. he’s not good for you. no matter how wonderful it WAS, it is no longer. and sending him messages every seventy-two days just reopens the wounds.

romantic: *scowl*

realist: don’t look at me like that. you were “together”, if that’s what you want to call it for three months! for ninety days, give or take. seriously? you haven’t actually TALKED to him in what?… four months? seriously? why are you holding on to him so hard?

romantic: *scowl* i think i love him.

realist: oh lord! please please please don’t use that word again.

romantic: what? don’t start that shit with me. i can love whomever i want as FAST as i want. why should i hold back? i’m a balls out kinda gal. that’s the way i feel.

realist: you don’t love him. you love the idea of him and nothing more. the whole knight in shi–

romantic: have i told you that i hate you? i do. you’re mean.

realist: i’m not mean. i’m realistic. this is just unhealthy. it’s going to lead nowhere as you have already found out. i’m not sure why you’re going back for more. you’ve always been masochistic so i shouldn’t expect you to snap out of it now, but geez. you’re the only one feeling this. he’s not feeling this.

romantic: how do you know? how do you know he’s not at home feeling this same way about me? smart ass.

realist: how do i know? C’MON! here’s how i know that he does NOT feel as strongly about you as you do about him, or even in comparison to how it felt back then. this is how i know:

  1. he–

romantic: really? you have a numbered list? when were you going to share that with me? what the —

realist: yes. i have a list. it’s right here off the top of my–

romantic: i don’t wanna hear this. you’re right, let’s talk about something else.

realist: oh no, sister. you wanted to talk, so we’re talking.

romantic: i really don’t want to hear this.

realist: shut up and listen.

  1. he has not contacted you on his own, for months.
  2. the minimal contact that you’ve experience was initiated by you.
  3. for every message that he sends you, you send three. you outweigh him in conversation exponentially.
  4. you haven’t had a conversation with him or laid an eye on him this YEAR.
  5. after your relentless attempts to get an answer from him, he finally gave you one… ENCRYPTED. you actually had to ask further to get the simplest of answers. he could have given you that answer months ago, but he didn’t and why?why? what’s to hide? do you think he is telling you the truth? if the truth is so simple and forgivable, why wouldn’t he just come out with it? he told you that he was going to incorporate you into his life. what happened to that? why didn’t that happen? and what about everything else? all those plans you two made? what happened there? nothing, right? absolutely nothing. and when you asked for an answer, what did you get? hmmmmm? “work. family.” what kind of answer is that? don’t we all have work? and family? you can’t put life on hold to deal with life. it’s redundantly stupid and serves no purpose. if you’re going to live your life, then do so. seek happiness, create happiness and share that happiness. you can’t box life up and pretend that you can and will keep all parts of it separate and void of merging like a child’s dinner plate. it’s life! it’s messy! it joins, it mixes, it coagulates and separates. if you’re lucky, at the end of it, there’s nothing left on the plate. your belly is full and you’re satisfied. satisfied with what you have done and what you have accomplished. sitting here obsessing over someone who cannot and will not make this happen with you is insanity. so please, just stop. if he wanted you, truly wanted you, he would be here with you now and i would be somewhere else.

romantic: i wish you were somewhere else. thanks for the pep talk deepak chopra, but i think i’ll work it out alone. i can see that it’s just irritating the shit outta you and you in turn, are irritating the shit outta me. and with that said, i’m going to go somewhere else.

realist: go. i’m sorry to make you feel that way. i’m not judging you and i’m not trying to irritate you. i just don’t see how you can’t see this. i know that he was perfect and it was perfect and you felt safe and secure, but .. i … i don’t see–

romantic: ok, ok. i get it. you don’t see it happening. but what if it does? what if this is a much-needed hiatus followed by a lifelong whirlwind fairy tale romance? what if that happens? will you take back what you’ve said?

realist: absolutely not. i won’t take it back if it happens tomorrow. this is not healthy. you are a crazed woman on the verge of those old stake-out shenanigans. wandering around town, at all hours of the night in dark clothes, chuck taylors and doin’ super-slow drive-by’s of this dudes house in borrowed cars. it’s not good for you. it’s not respectable. he doesn’t respect you. if he did, he would have answered you when you asked a quest.. actually, he would have told you what was going to happen before it happened. not make you chase after him for an answer that you JUST got, but had to decipher. and if you didn’t text him, repeatedly, you would have never known. he would have let you fade to black without a word.

romantic: i’m not chasing after him.

realist: what? are you kidding? yes, honey, you are. you are chasing after him like you missed your bus. with one hand out and the look of “please wait for me” on your face. ugh! that’s enough. i’ve told you time and time again how i feel and you have done the same. i am here for you if you need me, but i don’t want to talk about this anymore. he’s not good for you, you know it, you feel it and still you do this. just let it go. let him go. he doesn’t deserve you. obviously.

romantic: but i deserve him! why can’t i have him? i thought the girls get the choice! i pick and that’s that. why can’t i have him?

realist: he doesn’t want to be had. you are not this blind. after what you’ve been through over the years. you are not this blind. i’m sure you’re fed up and ready for your time to shine, but sweetie, it’s not right now and i don’t think it’s with him. i just don’t. if things change, then that’s great for everyone, but i don’t see it. i’m sorry.

romantic: are we done? i don’t think i can take much more truth tonight. i know what you’re saying, i just didn’t want you to say it. i just wanted you to help me live in the moment and be positive about it. but i get it, there’s nothing positive about it. no silver lining? no benefit of the doubt? no second chance?

realist: for what? sure, you can keep hope alive and hold a flame for him if you choose, but for how long? like i said, you were together mooooonths ago. you’ve almost been apart TWICE as long as you were together. what’s to hold on to? hmm? what are you holding on to, exactly??

romantic: *scowl* i hate you. i’m going to bed.

realist: like hell, you’re going to go in there and pull up every song that you two “dedicated” to one another and cry yourself into a cloud of funk. you’re not going to bed. we are going to talk about this. what are you holding on to? … …

*silence*

realist: well? seriously? what’s to hold on to? you two were done before the holidays. there was no family gatherings, gift exchange and you had sex all of one time. so, please tell me what exactly could be the big hang up? …

*continued silence*

realist: hellllooooooo?

romantic: nothing i guess. i don’t know.. i think i wanted it so badly that i couldn’t see that there was nothing to it. it sounds horrible when YOU talk about it. but it doesn’t sound horrible when i talk about it. why is that?

realist: that’s because you want there to be something where there is nothing. it’s not HIM. it’s the idea of him. someone so sweet and chivalrous. someone who always says good morning and good night. someone who opens doors and carries packages for you. someone who shares your dreams of world travel, but a simple home life. a “white picket fence” type guy looking for a “white picket fence” type girl. you’re caught up in the idea.. and he let you believe it. he buffed and shined that tin foil and came to you with open arms and empty promises. and who’s left feeling empty? you. just you.

romantic: i want what i want.

realist: you can want him all you want, you just need to know that you might not ever get him. probably won’t ever get him. i think it’s obvious and you’re just playing word games with me right now. so what if you want him. what does that mean? “i want him.” do you always get what you want?

romantic: i try. and usually…

realist: you can’t TRY with people and relationships. either you want it or you don’t. otherwise shit is one sided and someone is left out in the cold. don’t you remember him and him? they wanted you, but you didn’t want them and shit was supremely one-sided. you were annoyed with them and their persistence. and i’m sure they were annoyed with you and your many unfettered attempts to get rid of them. don’t you think that wasn’t fair? don’t you think you took advantage and that they deserved to be let free long before?

romantic: i took advantage? i didn’t take advantage of anyone.

realist: yes. yes you did. you let them swoon over you while you were off thinking about someone else. you let them take you to dinner, take you to movies and try to win your heart always knowing inside yourself that you had no intention of entertaining them. don’t you think this is the same? he will respond to you… after you reach out to him. he will answer your questions accordingly, but tell me this: has he asked you about you lately? has he inquired about your mental health and well-being during these last few months?

romantic: well… he–

realist: the answer is no. what you are getting from him now is far from what he gave you in the beginning. and just like that other guy, if you accept what he is giving you now, you are settling for less, and we both know how that worked out. shattered! shattered into a million pieces. time lost, love lost, personal property and money lost too. but what was the end result? you settled for less than you wanted.

romantic: well, actually, i tried to convince myself that i didn’t need those other things. it wasn’t all his fault, ya know?

realist: yeah, i know. but that doesn’t change the facts. now you know more clearly what you want, and you thought you saw it in the tin man, but the fact of the matter is that he was more of a rebound. you left that other guy, met the tin man and he seemed to be everything that you could want or dream of. and he might be, but he’s not letting you in and you cannot accept that. if he wants you, he should act like it. and, from what i’ve seen, he ain’t actin’ like it.

romantic: your sensible nonsense is really putting a damper on my sad-sack-woe-is-me attitude that i was trying to run with. i don’t need sense right now. i need your friendship and support.

realist: well sister, i’m not your friend. you will always have my support. if you decide to call or text and have a meltdown, i will be right there to clean your melted ass off the ground. if you decide to call and leave crazy ass messages that confirm that you should be left alone, i will be there, WITH TISSUE, to talk you down off that ledge.

romantic: you’re worth your weight in used paper clips.

realist: that’s what i’m here for. to help you keep your head on straight. you seem like you’ve settled down and that’s good, but it doesn’t mean much. you always settle and then jump off the cliff. if you don’t delete that playlist, i’m going to throw your phone in the toilet. the songs are great, but don’t listen to all of them back to back. and please, for the love of pete and everyone around get rid of anything that he gave you, which is nothing, or anything that he brought to your attention… like that one recording artist. stop listening to that guy. it’s just going to bring back memories and you’re just going to get crazy and neither of us needs that. you just came down off the ledge. we both need a breather.

romantic: sense from nonsense. you do it everytime. you’re right. i’ll let it go.

realist: i know you want to say “for now”. i noticed that you didn’t say that you would let him go… and i know that will take some time. *rolling eyes* for whatever reason. if you would stop obsessing you could be over him already and on to someone and something better. if you can keep from .. you know what.. where’s your phone?

romantic: what? i–

realist: where is it? i want to see it.

romantic: for what?

realist: just get it and bring it–

romantic: why? what are you going to do?

realist: we. yes, WE, are going to delete him. we’re going to delete him from your life right here and now.

romantic: no. i can’t do that.

realist: oh yes you can, and you’re going to. right now.

romantic: ugh. have i told you–

realist: what? that you hate me? yes. and i don’t care. i hate you too. get the phone.

romantic: fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! you’re such a bitch.

realist: takes one to know one. get the phone.

romantic: alllllllright! @&^@%&^@%$!!

*waiting in silence*

*continued waiting*

realist: where the hell are you? and where’s that phone daggummit??

romantic: shuuuuuuuuuuut up! i’m getting it. loser.

realist: suck it. give it to me.

romantic: here!

realist: *accessing contacts* delete contact? why, yes, thank you.

romantic: i–

realist: shut it. *accessing text messages* OMG!!! how much of his shit do you have saved in here? no wonder you’re losing your mind. have you kept every message… ugh.

romantic: they’re nice messages.

realist: so what. *rolling eyes* do you mean i have to “unlock” each one before i can delete it?? are you serious? oh well.. here we go.

romantic: *scowl*

realist: unlock, delete, unlock, delete, unlock, delete, unlock, delete… unlock, delete. ok. i think that’s all of them. but we’re not done. come with me.

romantic: why? you’ve already taken everything.

realist: ha! you think i’m stupid. you’re going to delete him from ev-er-y-thing! everything!! right now. so let’s log on.

romantic: you are a supreme, ultimate, stellar fucking bitch.

realist: whatev. log on.

romantic: log on to what?

realist: first, to verizon, to delete him from your backup. i’m not stupid. and then you will log onto your email and then to facebook. all three accounts, right now, and i want to watch you click and delete. i mean it.

romantic: fuck.

realist: do it. you’re wasting time. this is the only way. you need to be free of him. if and when he decides to contact you, you won’t know it’s him and your response will be “who is this?” and hopefully that will put him in his place that he had been DELETED. that he earned to be deleted and that you .. you moved on.

romantic: *sigh*

realist: let’s do this.

*log on, delete, log off. log on, delete, log off. log on, delete, log off*

romantic: satisfied?

realist: thoroughly. where’s your purse?

romantic: you’re going too far.

realist: nope, lemme see it. actually i just need your wallet. i know you have his business card in there. the one that she gave to you that he gave to her to give to you.

romantic: that’s a memento. i want to keep that. it was–

realist: shut up and get the wallet.

romantic: ugh! bitch!!!

realist: yup. get it.

romantic: here. if you can find it you can have it.

realist: *opening wallet* yup, here it is. thanks!

romantic: omg, how did you–

realist: know where it was at? i know you. thanks, hon. let’s move on. anything else i should know about?

romantic: no.

realist: are you sure?

romantic: yes! geez.

realist: don’t “geez” me. this is what’s best. rid yourself of him. if he comes back, well, we’ll deal with that then. in the meantime, you’re going to “get up, get out and get something, don’t let the days of your life pass by”.

romantic: really, outkast?!?!

realist: you know it my spottieottiedopaliciousangel. and now that that is done, we can move on accordingly.

romantic: to what?

realist: any and everything we want. i’m hungry.

romantic: i hate you. i’m going to bed. i hope you get fat.

realist: and when i do, it will be you that i will drag to the gym, to the pilates class and out running with me… so don’t be such a bitch.

romantic: i love you. thank you.

realist: i know. you’re welcome. i love you too. and when the time comes… i’ll talk you down off the next ledge.

romantic: i’m staying grounded. to hell with this ledge shit.

realist: i’ve heard that befooooooooore.

*and the door shuts*

the beauty of baking

... a work in progress and the comfortable insurance by the knowledge that "something is in the oven"...

life can be stressful. full of lists. full of tasks and errands. things to do, things to buy, places to go and entertainment for the eye. what’s your form of self-induced personal therapy? i’ve discovered over my blahtey-blah years that myyyyyy therapy, my way to therapize myself is to bake. yes, bake. baking, with like, an oven and stuff inside. june cleaver housewife style with utensils, gadgets and an ever-handy-and-extremely-cute apron. it is not just a therapy but a calling. a hobby. a lucrative interest. it’s fun and the reward is obvious: tasty treats to devour… umm, i mean share.

needless to say, i take my baking very seriously. not so serious that everything is measured down to the pinch and recipes followed in a sterile manner, but serious enough that i do not make or take phone calls while baking. i’m serious about it in a way that makes it so rewarding for me, and through word of mouth, for my  taste testers as well. i wouldn’t say that i can bake “anything”. i certainly have a familiar repertoire. i mostly focus on desserts, but i would be a lie if i didn’t say that i was kinda-known for my homemade handmade chicken pot pie. i think it’s to die for. it is one of those recipes that impresses more each time i make it. i am also pseudo-famous for my gramma’s recipe banana bread. that recipe is going to make me millions one day. hopefully i get the opportunity to go professional and worldwide with it. it’s gonna knock yo socks off!

in the meantime, i have dabbled in this that and the other. i have an extensive collection of recipes, cookbooks and seven years worth of “Cooking Light” magazine. i grew up in a one-woman household. that woman, lucky for me, was my grandmother. she had a group home for developmentally disabled adult men. she was their sole care-provider, and in-home chef. there were four of them, “the boys” as we referred to them, she and i. so everyday she cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for six people. it is because of her, that i owe my love of food. now, let me be clear, i am NO foodie. not a foodie, not at all. i have a very limited set of “likes” where food is concerned. but that doesn’t stop me. she also taught me how to bake. i taught me how to cook (many years later), with the help of all those cooking light magazines, several choice cookbooks, and a lot of cooking tv. not to mention, the short time that i spent working under chef Jonathan at the convention center.

now, with that said, let me tell you why i love to eat, cook, and more specifically, why i love to bake. i have been loitering in kitchens my entire life. literally. having grown up with my grandmother in the group home setting, she spent a lot of time in the kitchen and i wasn’t far. i didn’t study her and mimic her every move, but i watched and surveyed. i’d ask a few questions from time to time. she would always answer without skipping a beat. i didn’t know it then, but there’s a huuuuuuuge amount of timing involved with the preparation of a three-course meal for dinner everyday. she taught me basic cooking techniques and everyday use of tools and other kitchen equipment.

as well, the bestie and i grew up across the street from one another. when i would spend the night, we would get up in the night after all other house dwellers had nodded off for the evening, and just sit in the kitchen. back then, there was a square wooden butcher block dealy-bob, on wheels, in the middle of the kitchen. it was the perfect ottoman for us, and the kitchen counter became some sort of tile covered recliner. we would pick at the ever-present food items; not excluding: a barrage of fresh fruit, some sort of bread or pastry type item and perhaps some leftovers from the previous meal or something from nanny’s house, all the while talking and laughing.

speaking of nanny, she was and continues to be the other thriving influence in the kitchen. she’s the only lady i’ver ever known to blowout two kitchen aid stand-up mixers. “doin’ what?”, ya ask. everything you can imagine. nanny is my bestie’s gramma. she’s from arkansas and was married to papaw for 60 years before he left her in charge of his dog. if you’re looking for nanny, you haven’t been in the kitchen. shannon (my bestie) and i grew up spending occasional weekends at nanny’s house. she was a certifiable short order chef every morning. she would ask in her adorable southern drawl:

“what youn’s want tah eat?”

and as adolescent brats our answer was most often:

“i don’t know”

her response was the same, without fail:

“well if youn’s don’t tell me, i can’t fix it.”

ahhhhhh, the good ole days. she would make for each of us, whatever we wanted. for certain, there were going to be biscuits and eggs. i think sausage and gravy was also a menu staple. nanny would make us … get this… homemade pop-tarts from leftover homemade pie crust and plum jelly, made from the tree in her front yard. what is not to love about that? i watched nanny make biscuits, dumplings, and all the cookies, cakes and pies you can imagine. she fries a mean chicken breast too. i watched her mix and make the most delicious food with her two little hands. the kitchen remained spotless and the refrigerator was always full.

that’s a lot of time in and around kitchens and all i was doing, at the time, was eating. out of that came a fondness for southern cooking, a need to sit or stand in or about the kitchen and a need for fresh fruit. my mom loves to cook too. visits home are always the best as i am provided the arriving meal of my choice: spaghetti and homemade half-wheat/half-white bread. mmmmm… good stuff. my mom taught me how to put what i liked together into something to love. she also taught me that i needed to make Love, my special ingredient. without love, nothing would turn out right.

so, as you can see, my love of cooking is organic. it comes from deep inside me. i love every aspect of it. from preparation to service. i most enjoy the bringing together of ingredients to create one masterpiece. i think that is why i enjoy baked goods so much. they all seem to start with the greatest of all cooking trifectas: butter, sugar and eggs. the only thing that varies is the ratio, temperature and mix time. isn’t that an amazing little factoid? the difference between a cookie, a cake and bread is just exactly how much you have of each of those items.

i’m going to say that where cooking and baking are concerned, i tend to stick to the script. i don’t usually vary from any given recipe too much. i believe that the learning is in using the recipe to make your ultimate goal. i also believe in conquering each recipe for its ratio, taste and texture secrets and then adapting that recipe for your own fiendish fun. methods and techniques are extremely important and necessary when baking. a recipe is simply a set of instructions. but it’s a detailed list and you can pretty much assure yourself that it is as abridged as it can possibly be. removing steps from a recipe is like skipping steps in math. you might have a reasonable facsimile of the final product, but something is not quite right. i use a recipe until i know it by heart. until i can know, by sight, how well it’s going to work.

baking is a controlled chaos. i clean up before i mess up, so that i may clean as i go in hopes of having a clean kitchen when i’m done. i pull my ingredients from the cabinets, drawers and refrigerator and line them up. i measure them all with my level of accuracy and start my process. as i learned in home economics, i familiarize myself with the recipe before starting. i try to have all the utensils and ingredients ready to go. step by step to the finished product. oh what fun.

and now that i have given you the why, i would like to share the how. i am not a professional by any means, but i am an enthusiast. who knows what will happen?? but in the meantime i would like to share with you my love of cooking, (mostly baking) and the wonderful side affects. enjoy!

(that means i’ll be back later with recipes, pictures and yummy reviews)

“the name is kenny. kenny… two hands”

i have a son.  his name is kenneth michael.  he is named after his grandfathers.  i was huge when i was pregnant with him and while he wasn’t the biggest baby ever, he is a very large preschooler.  he is currently forty-six inches tall and a whopping forty-four pounds.  he wears big boy clothes in a size five-six, and a size thirteen shoe.  he will be four years old this coming wednesday.  and while he is black, i have recently discovered that he is living the secret life of an italian gangster. yes. an italian gangster (and, i mean “italian gangster” in the nicest way possible).

as with all children, their desire to exert their independence outweighs their actual ability to handle the responsibility.  for instance, my son tried to pour himself a glass of orange juice the other day.  good thing those eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head were open and my ninja-like mommy reflexes were on point.  as the mommy, i always feel the need to try and avoid a spill or a “situation” before it actually happens.  when i get him something to eat, drink or snack on, he wants to carry it himself.  i am usually able to convince him to let me carry the spillables while he is in charge of the non-spillables.  most of the time, this works in my favor as he is mostly interested in consuming the food/drink items.  more so than he is interested in cleaning them up.  (we’ve been down that road too many times).  when he is permitted to carry an item, i always reinforce his duty with “two hands, kenneth, two hands.”

let me explain one thing real quick.  my son’s name is kenneth.  most people in our lives call him kenny or even ken.  except me.  i almost always call him “bubba”.  or bubs, bubbalicious, or bubbe.  when i use his name, i, more often than not, refer to him as kenneth.  i associate “kenny” with my father.  that’s what everyone used to referred to him as, so i make a point to use kenneth when talking about my son.  he refers to himself as kenny.  as a matter of fact, we had a little spat over it earlier today.

me: what’s your name?

him: i kenny.

me: what’s my name?

him: you mommy.

me: what’s mommy’s name?

him: neesha.

me: what’s kenny’s name?

him: i KENNY!

me: kenny’s name is Kenneth.

him: NO! i kenny!  mooommmmmy, i kenny.

me: ok. you can be kenny if you want to, but your name is kenneth.

him: hmph. (that’s him kinda blowin’ me off.  if it was me, i would have been saying “my ass!” if it was me (just sayin’)).

all-in-all, it was pretty dern funny.  he was very adamant (and it makes the rest of the story a little sweeter).

back to my story.  whenever he walks away, i try to remind him to use “two hands”.  it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time that i told him “use two hands”, that i realized that he didn’t actually grasp the concept of “two” hands, he just knew that he needed to hold it.  so one afternoon, we get into this same little conversation around snack time.  it went like this:

me: mama’s gonna carry it.

him: no. kenny two hands.

me: no, let mama carry it.

him: no. kenny TWO HANDS!

me: no, bubs, let mama do it.

just then, he turned his head and cut his eyes at me (i know, right?) and with all the certainty of The Godfather himself, he says in a firm tone:

“no. kenny… two hands.”

even with that explanation i cannot tell you how these four words came across to me.  the pause between “kenny” and “two hands” was so purposeful. he had certainty in his voice.  it made me giggle a little because (in my head) i instantly heard the gangster voice, the one that says “fuggeddaboutit” or maybe even “luca brasi sleeps with the fishes.” i also pictured a classic expression, like that of my favorite gangsters: robert deniro and al pacino (in just about anything), when they are nodding their head, yes, repeatedly, but you already know that the answer is NOT yes,  and you are going to be told that the answer is NO in a very firm and undeniable manner.  a manner that, if you survive, you will never, ever, EVER forget.

or perhaps you’ll be made an offer?  one you can’t refuse?

this time, the voice said “kenny… two hands” making me picture two hands coming together as if they were… i dunno, say, around a neck?  kinda like:

“you ain’t neva heard the story of kenny? ‘kenny… two hands’??  that’s one guy i wouldn’t mess with.  word is … you don’t wanna make him use those ‘two hands’.  ’cause if he hasta use um, well… let’s just say, you’ll be breathless”

the story telling is over, but the hands remain in the silent, yet intimidating “immachokethe$h!touttasomebody” pose.  (like this, but without bart. ha!)

with that said, we went to the local walmart and i noticed some hats sitting up top the folded pant section.  there were many hats, but one caught my eye:

as soon as i put that hat on him, i just about fell out laughing.  too funny, and it brought that voice back in my head.  “kenny.  kenny… two hands.” i had recently discovered picnik.com and i decided to have some fun:

doesn’t it look like a WANTED poster?  one of my favorites.  i can see my son rockin’ a designer three-piece tone-on-tone suit with some equally impressive and expensive shiny shoes. i laugh at the thought of him securing the neighborhood in exchange for jell-o or french fries.  keeping the cats out of the planters and the dogs off the lawns.  ensuring the senior citizen gardeners that they won’t have any trouble from the neighborhood strays “as long as [he’s] on the block.”  bahah!

anyway, let’s update the secret gangster activity with this most recent little doozy.  in the last month or so, my son has become increasingly affectionate.  he is now asking me for hugs and kisses and cannot, absolutely cannot, give me a kiss without saying “i lub yew too.” (i ❤ it).  but this new activity?  i dunno, you tell me.  he’ll give me a hug, then a kiss on the lips. he leaves his right hand on my shoulder and with his left hand, he grabs my lower jaw and turns my head (for me) to my left.  he then kisses my right cheek, turns my head to my right and kisses my left cheek.  he says “i lub yew too” as he walks away.

ya get that?  the boy is kissing me on both cheeks.  the way full blooded gangster men kiss other full blooded gangster men at family functions, gangster meetings and obviously, funerals.  ya feel me?  funny.

what does my son do when i’m not looking?  perhaps my ninja-mommy skills are not what i need for this particular preschooler.  perhaps i need to be a mommy-CIA agent: tappin’ [his] cell, and the phone in the basement.”  my little gangster will be four years old this coming week.  “they grow up so fast” doesn’t even begin to cover how much happens in these first few years.  from growing inside to living outside.  from crawling to walking, followed immediately but running.  from toothless to talking.  and even when you think you know them, you learn something new.

perhaps instead of cupcakes and thomas the train birthday gifts, i should get him a nice prosciutto, some “al dente” pasta and a couple cannolis?  i wouldn’t want him to hafta use those “two hands”… ’cause “fuggeddaboutit”, i don’t wanna hafta use my belt.  (that’s right, i said it).


a concert by any other name does NOT sound as sweet

have you ever been to a concert? do you have a favorite? i do. i have seen several artists at most of the local venues and i think that i enjoyed every single one. a few of them stand out louder than the rest.  they are vivid and unforgettable.  what is your favorite souvenir? ticket stub? t-shirt? program? i think i have all of my ticket stubs, and for most concerts i have a t-shirt. some of them have been sacrificed along the way, but i remember them well.

leading my recollections is always lauryn hill.  i saw her at the forum, when it was “The Forum”. my bestie and i had floor seat tickets, for about $35 during the miseducation of lauryn hill tour. miss hill had bronchitis and advised us that she would do her best but her voice might not make it. she was alone on stage with a set of lockers and a classic school desk for her decor. at one point she had a horn section on stage as well as two dj’s. it comes to mind first because it was more than i could have ever expected.  she even introduced us to her son zion, who was a toddler at the time.  good times.

the next favorite memory is that of the isley brothers at the greek theater in august. what a magical concert. shannon and i were enamored with oldies. we were in love with the isley brothers and had just begun our twenties. and, the greek theater! have you ever been there? it is phenomenal. outside open-air venue with classic stadium seating. it was a warm and clear summer night. the greek is high in the sky, next to the griffith observatory. the stars looked like christmas lights. i think i stood for the entire concert. i can close my eyes and teleport back in time. i can feel the warm air on my skin. the cold beer, sweating in the plastic cup in my hands. the music intoxicated me as i swayed, swooned and hummed along.

“liiiiiving, for the love of yooooooooooooou”

another favorite memory includes the ever handsome, overwhelmingly gorgeous, significantly swaggered crooner: maxwell.  my bestie, shannon, and i saw him at the balboa concert hall in san diego.  it was so beautiful.  even when the congo drum fell over and the band had to regroup.  shannon and i were completely under dressed for the occasion. that did not affect our good time, at all.  there are more… janet at the pond. prince in honolulu.  salt n pepa in honolulu. all of those concerts were wonderful in their own way.  but none of them stands up to the memory of the beastie boys concert.

i lived in hawaii from the age of 19 to 21.  i guess that was the “finding myself” chapter.  i lived with my mother, brother and sister for almost two years.  it was the first and only time that we all lived in the same place at the same time.  i had a mantourage (thanks kim) of non-hawaiian born surfer boys.  brian, ryan, rob and jarrett.  i met them through my friend lance.  those were good times.  when i decided to return home to california, it was springtime.  the boys and i tried to pack every minute full of memory makers.  many beer drinking friday nights followed by surfing saturday mornings.  who me? surf?  umm, no.  yes, i tried once and i have the scars to prove it.  ’nuff said.  anyway, during that time, we went to many concerts.  local talent, big name talent, any talent.  i saw fishbone, ben harper and weekly, i was entertained by natural vibrations.  lookumup.  the last concert i saw before i left was the BEASTIE BOYS. you know who they are?  familiar with them?  what image comes to mind? this?

Album Art

or perhaps this?

either way, whether it’s one of those albums or another, you get who i’m referring to.  they were going to have a concert at the turtle bay hilton resort on the north shore of oahu.  i think it was about one week before i left hawaii “for good”.  the concert would be on the retired beachfront golf course.  i know, right?  could it get better?  yes!  and it did.

brian and i decided to go.  we bought tickets and circled the date on the calendar.  the countdown began and we were ecstatic.  concert day came and we were ready.  i don’t even think the beastie boys were scheduled to take the stage until 7 or 8 o’clock at night.  more like 8.  i wore my brand new low top red chuck taylor all stars.  i wanted to “break them in”.  we were on the north shore by lunch time.  we parked on the side of the road in a long line of like-minders amongst the 7 foot tall sugar cane.  by two o’clock the line of cars was miles long.  we had an ice chest, some fast food, music, and all the patience in the world.  the gates opened about 3 or 4.  we were directed to our parking spot accordingly and the tailgate party began.

we hung out in the parking lot for hooooooooours.  eating, drinking and yukkin’ it up with the other peoples.  as the sun began to set and the island breeze began to grow, the natives began to get restless.  we eventually gathered at yet another gate, where we hemmed and hawed until we were granted access to the actual concert site.  and what a site…

as i stated earlier, the concert site was on a retired golf course on the back side of the turtle bay hilton resort.  the golf grass was still there, but the determination of the beach pushed through and spotted the green with mini sandtraps.  the stage was black and out of place.  just off the green was the beach.  literally.  15 feet from the stage were waves of warm pacific ocean.  the sun was setting and the scene was set…

it looked something like this:

it was soooooomething like this

the darker it got, the more restless those natives grew.  i can’t even remember the opening act (that ice chest in the parking lot stole a lot of my memories).  but they didn’t even take the stage until it was almost dark out.  by the time the beasties set adidas on stage, it was black outside.  except, it’s never pitch black in hawaii.  the stars shine so bright.  gosh, it really was magical.

the stage lights started to flicker in a strobe light like manner.  and the familiar sounds of pre-concert chaos started; the “wicka wicka” of the turntables, the “yo yo yo HAH-why-YEE!” from the familiar voices of Ad-Rock, Mike D and MCA!!  “and the crowd goes wild”…. and still the stage is pitch black.

the volume of everything begins to increase exponentially.  the crowd of thousands begins to move and pulse as one.  the stage lights flicker again and there was a hiroshima sized dust cloud ascending slowly into the sky.  the retired golf course was not the ideal concert venue for this one reason.

i would love to share the most intimate details of this concerting experience, but as i explained earlier, that tailgate party ice chest continues to hold the majority of my memories.  i can tell you that i remember paul revere and brass monkey.  i also remember in a brief moment of concert silence i shouted out

“we looooove yooooooooooooooooooooooooou!”

and in return i got “and we love you back.” it still makes the hair on my arms stand up.

what i most remember is that the entire crowd was moving.  there were so many people and we were stuck to one another. seriously. at some point, brian and i were sucked into the crowd and were no longer able to take just one step back and be safe.  we were in.  for good.  and that was the beginning of the end.  i have played many sports and done many things on an athletic level.  but i still get winded, easily (i had recently discovered that i had allergies and asthma). it was warm out, and the people were warm, sticky, sweaty or clammy.

it was difficult to maneuver and eventually i lost the battle.  i started to get light headed which led to tunnel vision.  usually, i turn colors when all of this is going on and brian must have picked up on it.  he was talking to me, but i haven’t any idea what he said.  he grabbed my hands and wrapped my arms around his neck.  he did an about face and began to lead us out of the crowd.  he fought and battled and made his way out, with me in tow, his living super cape.  i think i was actually passed out.  ((alcohol + sun)x hours of the day = blackout).  the next thing i know, i am lying on the ground. i feel the poke of grass and hear the crunch of the sand under my weight.  the warm breeze caressed my body and i got a chill because i was completely covered in sweat.  i remember several voices “is she alright? is she alright?” and brian assuring them that i just “needed some air”.  he was right.  a little air and everything subsided.  brian suggested that we go home.  we’d had a long day and you can never really convince someone that you’re “alright”, after you’ve passed out.

he held my hand and we walked towards the exit.  he smiled and we giggled knowing that we had a good time.  it was indeed the best concert ever.  he asked if i wanted anything before i left, and in fact, i did.  i wanted a t-shirt.  he suggested that the lines were too long and that we should make an express exit.  i informed him that there was no way i was going to leave without one.  we waited in line, i made the purchase and we proceeded to the car.

when we finally got to the car, i realized then that i was covered from head to toe in mud.  not actual mud, but golf course beach dust mixed with sweat.  my entire skin surface was covered.  i had mud plugs in both nostrils.  mud in my ears and on my legs, underneath my jeans.  i even had mud, between my toes, on my socked feet inside my all stars.  and speaking of the all stars; they got broke in alright.  they were no longer red, but dirt covered red.  the white toe was some sort of brown with the identifiable marks of other people’s shoes.  one of the eyelets fell out and the laces would never be the same.  i still have those shoes, and i love them.  i’m sure there’s beastie boy infused turtle bay hilton sand in them somewhere.

that t-shirt is my favorite t-shirt.  it has been worn and washed so many times that it looks almost like gauze.  it attracts attention wherever i go and my brother has vowed to have it for his own (as if).  i’ve run in it, washed in it, barbecued in it.  i’ve cleaned the house in it, worn it to work and worn it to bed.  i fear that the time has come that i should retire it, before it is irreparably damaged.  it doesn’t just remind me of a concert.  it reminds me of one of the best times in my life.  it brings back places, smells and smiles.  it brings me back to a time that needs no introduction, but deserves memorialization.  it is a time capsule and it is very dear to me.

below, you will see the shirt that earned that night.  i have it on right now.my earnings and reward