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Archive for April, 2010

I am involved in a toxic relationship

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

I am slowly, and sadly, realizing that I am in a toxic relationship. He holds all the cards, and I am powerless. He offers me things that we both know are bad for me, but I cannot resist. He makes me love things, and then he takes them away. His unpredictability literally drives me crazy, and yet I find myself going back for more. Each and every week I return to him. His name is Trader Joe.

It turns out that I am not alone. I googled “discontinued Trader Joe’s products,” and I found countless people feeling my pain. While I am missing and hopelessly checking for macaroons, that chocolate filled cereal, and my favorite dark chocolate covered Joe Joe’s to be resurrected, other people are mourning the passing of gyoza and others are actually going after his corporate office filled with anger over a change in the peanut butter. Many of us are also dealing with never-ending frustration over “seasonal items.” For example, puff pastry. According to Trader Joe, puff pastry is an item reserved for Christmastime, like nobody ever wanted a pastry that puffed the rest of the year. I don’t agree, but I comply.

This ability to give something and then take it away brings out the worst in people. I know girls who buy dozens of boxes of the seasonal pumpkin bread mix and hoard them away to make it through spring and summer. And I am shamefully guilty of hiding my Trader Joe treasures from my family so that I don’t have to share them. The sneaking around started with the dark chocolate covered Joe Joe’s. They were amazing – almost life changing. I took to stashing them in a corner of the pantry where nobody ever looked. Sadly, perhaps I was right not to spread the wealth around, for now, they are gone. Dark chocolate-pretzel brittle has taken their place, but who knows how long it will be around. I try to stay away from these things – I know they are bad for me. I try to walk past them on the “new items” shelf, because I know that putting them in my cart will only lead to me hunching over in the laundry room stuffing my face and calling, “Be right there!” to my children. It’s a horrible, double life that Trader Joe has driven me to lead.

And yet I know that next week, I will go back for more. I will show up with my canvas bags and load my red metal cart with the things I need…and the things I don’t. I know that he will seduce me at the sample counter. I know that he will make me smile by providing my children with balloons and stickers. I know that I will buy rotten fruit and bread that grows mold before we even get home, but I will forgive and forget, as I always do. I can’t resist him, and he knows it. He is part of my life. Even now, as I write this, I have a cup of his Chai Tea Latte and a mini blueberry muffin beside me. I’m sure one day these items will be gone, but never quite forgotten, and that he will replace them with something else that I can’t live without because he knows that, in the end, I can’t live without him – or his cheap wine.

I am not the Mother of the Year

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

It is with a heavy heart that I must take myself out of the running for the prestigious honor of Mother of the Year 2010. I came to this decision yesterday when I looked up from folding laundry to see Baby #2, happily munching away on a cracker. But wait…I had not given him a cracker. I wracked my brain to figure out what he could be snacking on and then I remembered that I had, at his request, given him a treat to give to Family Dog. Sure enough, there by Baby #2’s side was Family Dog looking like she had been – well, robbed of of a Milkbone – which she had. I shrieked in disgust and Baby #2 smiled at me looking extremely pleased with himself. I demanded that he spit out the dog treat. He did. There I stood with a handful of partially chewed dog treat mixed with baby saliva. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I decided to return the treat to its rightful recipient. I held my hand in front of Family Dog’s face and she, somewhat dejectedly, took the a.b.c (already been chewed) treat. I was horrified – and a bit nauseas, but you can’t live in the past so I put the incident out of my head and returned to the laundry. A moment later, I looked back up and THE DOG TREAT WAS BACK IN BABY #2′S MOUTH!

Apparently Family Dog had some standards about what she would eat, but my son did not. I marched over and, again, demanded he spit out the treat. Still looking pleased with himself, he swallowed, opened his mouth wide for me to see and said, “All gone.” Now I really felt like I was going to be sick. My child had not only eaten dog treat, but he had eaten dog treat mixed with dog spit. I saw the Mother of the Year title slipping away because the truth is that this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. I admit, with my head hung in shame, that this was not Baby #2’s first taste of canine cuisine.

Pretty much from the moment he became mobile, I had to watch him like a hawk because of his insatiable appetite for Family Dog’s Science Diet kibble. He would steal it out of the storage bin – bypassing the most up-to-date baby proofing technology, and even sneak in while Family Dog was eating to share her meal. He became like an addict – lying, cheating and stealing to get his dog food fix. I would ask if he’d eaten dog food, knowing that he had by his disgusting dog breath, and he would deny it. I called the doctor, worried that his kibble cravings were the sign of some deficiency in his diet, like pregnant women who crave clay and dirt. The doctor’s answer was that kids like dog food.

Well, maybe other kids chow down on Alpo, but not my child! I went to extreme measures and implemented the tightest security, and I thought we’d kicked the kibble addiction…I guess I was wrong. Off the wagon Baby #2 has tumbled. I vow to get him back on the straight and narrow. I will remember that if I give an inch, he will take a mile – and by that I mean that if I give him a treat intended for Family Dog that he will eat it himself. I will remember that this is his weakness and he cannot be trusted around it. What he really needs is a 12-step program, but the first step is admitting you have a problem, and at two years old, he doesn’t seem to have a problem eating food intended for someone who sniffs her friends’ butts. I will remember that addiction is an illness and that he needs rehabilitation.

With no other choice, I will press on and strive to be back in the running for Mother of the Year 2011. Wish me luck.

I went on a date

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

One of my favorite things to do when I’m on a date is to observe (and by observe, I more realistically mean stare at) other people on dates. Hubby #1 is kind enough to humor this little hobby of mine. After fourteen years together, he’s used to spending our Valentine’s Day dinners listening to me figure out where in their relationships our fellow diners are, and being shushed when I’m trying to hear what other lovebirds are talking about – in fact, I like to think that he has grown to love this little hobby as much as I do (well, maybe not quite that much). I am most fascinated by the people in new and uncomfortable relationships. I love watching girls take neat, tiny bites to avoid messing up their perfectly made up faces, and men being careful not to talk with their mouths full, each one delicately trying to find out if the person across from them is their future true love or arch enemy. I don’t completely limit myself to other daters though, I’m pretty fascinated by any group of people. In fact, it’s almost as much fun and sometimes a greater challenge to figure out the stories behind people who aren’t seated across from a possible love interest. For me, People Watching is almost as much fun as going to a movie.

Almost as much fun as a movie…going to the movies is actually my favorite date night because I can combine a number of my favorite things: movies (obviously), popcorn, dark chocolate M&Ms (which I have to smuggle in because concession stands don’t have the dark chocolate and I’m opposed to milk chocolate), and “observing” other people.

This Saturday we went to see Hot Tub Time Machine (which is awesome) at the Arclight Hollywood. If you’re not familiar with the Arclight, I’ll just say that it’s the best movie theater in the world because not only can you buy your tickets – and select your seats – from your home computer and avoid waiting in any lines, there is a bar. So, we arrived early and went upstairs to have a drink before the movie. I usually have my favorite Patron Margarita, but this week I was feeling springy and instead went for a very potent Lemon Meringue Martini. I was thrilled to get a table across from the bar with a sweeping view of the entire theater lobby…talk about the perfect spot for People Watching! There we sat, watching the incredible cross-section of people make their way into the theater and through the lobby to find their assigned screens. It was almost like an anthropology sabbatical as we observed the theater-goers in their quest for entertainment, sharing verbal notes with each other as we studied our subjects.

“Check out yellow track suit,” I pointed out a glow-in-the-dark find.
“He looks like a giant banana.”
“What’s that blue thing on his head?”
“Looks like a head condom,” Hubby #1 observed.

Of course these unique species were the most fascinating, but there were also a hordes of glamorous, impeccably dressed girls with handsome dates. Hubby #1 was far less interested in the gorgeous red patent leather purse I spied than he was by a guy who had cleverly morphed his extremely receded hairline into a wirey gray mohawk though. As we finished our drinks and headed for the concession stand, I joyfully watched the couples – some too shy to share a popcorn, some too uncomfortable to eat their desired hot-dog instead opting for something benign like Red Vines. Then we made our way to our own screen and settled into our seats, a large popcorn perched between us, I pulled the dark chocolate M&Ms from my purse and never stopped to wonder if anyone was watching us…

I am not alone

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Well, my friends…the plot thickens. As of this morning, I have received comments from five other bloggers who have also had the honor of MisterX45881’s registration. The blogs have nothing in common except the power of Wordpress under their engines. Hmmm…only time will tell if MrX is up to something. In the meantime, I have figured out how to block users from registering on my blog (and by that of course I mean that Hubby #1 has done it for me). I’ll keep you posted if MisterX shows up again. Thanks to the folks who let me know that I am not alone…and to my wonderful sister-in-law for taking a hint.

I could be hacked.

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Writing this blog has been an interesting process for me. Every week I try to think of something interesting to say and I think we can all agree that some weeks I am more successful than others. The thing that is weird about blogging is that I tell a story…and then that’s it. If I told you the story in person, you would presumably respond with some sort of feedback, even if it was as unenthusiastic as “oh.” When I started my blog, I assumed that the comments section would be full of – well, comments – as in dialogue-starting responses to my writing. You know what they say about assuming though…in reality, I have gotten very few actual comments and a lot of spam comments. Thankfully, my blog is set up so that I can accept or decline comments before they show up on my website because otherwise it would be chock-full of nonsense like this one I received in response to my 25 interesting things list:

although I consume a lot of of my day on the net playing video games like myspace poker or restaurant city, I nonetheless like to put aside some spare time to browse a couple of blogs sometimes and I’m seriously happy to report this newest statement is frankly reasonably good quality and really superior than half the other rubbish I read today, anyways i’m off to take up a few hands of facebook poker

Gee, thanks…nice to know that my writing is “frankly reasonably good quality” when compared to “rubbish.” At least this one wasn’t inviting me to check out porn sites or asking me to play MySpace poker.

These spam comments are annoying, but I trash them and go on with my life. Then last night I got notice of a new user registration. I was not aware that it was possible for users to register with my blog! I will admit, I felt a bit freaked out. I went to my website and tried to figure out how one could register…I didn’t see an option for it. I poked around everywhere I could think of (which I’ll admit wasn’t that many places) to see where or how this registration could have occurred. I heard a car outside on the street and irrationally panicked. I called Hubby #1, who was at his monthly guys night out.

“My blog has been hacked!”
“What are you talking about?” Hubby #1 asked patiently.

I read him the notice:
New user registration on your blog :
Username: MisterX45881
E-mail: JohnDillinger1903@***.com

“Is there anything on your blog that you didn’t post?” he asked.
“No,” I admitted.

I did have a fleeting moment of calm where I thought to myself that the chance of someone hacking into my website seemed unlikely…it’s not like I have any government secrets or bank codes, but still…I’m afraid of stalkers; and doesn’t stalking begin with hacking? I googled MisterX4588 – nothing. I googled John Dillinger – something! John Dillinger was a bank robber in the 1930’s who was considered a modern day Robin Hood. He died in 1934 and Johnny Depp played him in the movie Public Enemies. Hmmm…he probably isn’t the one hacking (or not hacking) my blog. I could not figure out who this person was or what he wanted with my super-cute website.

Eventually, I grew tired of dealing with my would-be hacker – I could never figure out how this person had registered himself or what he could accomplish as a registered user…plus I had the season premiere of Tori and Dean waiting on my Tivo. So, I shut down for the night still feeling slightly victimized. This morning all seemed well on my website and blog. Phew. Eventually I will figure out how to remove the comment section unless I start getting some worthwhile comments (hint, hint). In the meantime, please assume that any less successful posts are most likely the work of John Dillinger, but that the particularly inspired ones continue to come from yours truly.

I’m a nervous wreck

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

This is the week that parents all over Los Angeles have been anxiously awaiting – maybe even dreading. No, I’m not talking about the fear of hiding a dozen colored eggs in their living rooms without being caught by eager, bunny-loving children or making edible matzoh-brie…I’m not even talking about locating and organizing those charitable donation receipts in time for the tax deadline. I’m talking about private school admissions. This is the week that parents in the City of Angeles are checking their mailboxes looking for letters accepting their perfect offspring into the coveted world of private education – aka the super highway to successful lives, or rejection letters, dooming their babies to certain failure. Unless you are one of the few fortunate enough to be geographically located in the zone of a good public school – of which there are few in Los Angeles, you are sweating it out.

Thankfully, I am one of the few. My much talked about move has placed my family proximate to one of the best public schools in LAUSD. Phew.

Even though I have been spared the application essays, interviews and recommendation letters highlighting my five-year-old’s academic achievements and extra curricular activities, I am not without anxiety about her matriculation into the big K this coming fall. My greatest fear is that she will be named “Student of the Week.”

I know, it seems strange that I wouldn’t want my child to be singled out for her superiority during five of the 180-day school year. It’s not that I don’t want her to earn this distinguished honor, it’s that I don’t want her to come home with a bumper sticker flaunting her status. That bumper sticker would do nothing but stick me between a rock and a hard place because, you see, I hate them and the thought of sticking one on the bumper of my car makes me feel sick.

Now, I am NOT a person who is fanatic about her car. I honestly don’t care much about it. I get it washed only a few times a year, I have never had it detailed, and I’m pretty indifferent about the raisins on the floor and the cracker crumbs in the seats. Unlike most people in Los Angeles, I don’t see my car as a status symbol and I actually daydream about trading in my SUV for the convenience of a mini-van. You would think I’m exactly the type of person who would be pleased as punch to slap that bitch on her bumper and drive away in pride…but I’m not! It’s a bridge that I’m just not willing to cross. I’m just not that person and I dread having to explain to my daughter that while I’m super proud of her Kindergarten achievements, I’m not proud enough to share them with every tailgater on the 101.

So, as my peers sit and wait for the all-important, fate-deciding letters to arrive, they can at least feel relieved that their children’s academic stature will not come with adhesive backing. Sure, they are going to be hit with $20,000+ school bills, but at least they will be dodging the bumper sticker bullet.