Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Driving Mr. Crazy

Remember this guy?

Recently described as “a young, male, skate-rat version of Jodi Foster”

This year, my two kids go to two schools, so I only take one of them with me when I leave the house each morning. It’s just me and the boy.

I leave the radio off when I drive with my boy, and we talk. Well....he talks, mostly. This wacky stream-of-consciousness just pours out of him and ping-pongs all over the place, bouncing from here to crazy and back so fast that it makes my head spin if I try too hard to follow.

So mostly he talks and I sort of listen, throwing out a strategic “whoa” or “cool” or “what da?” to stay involved as I think about the day ahead or the night before or the idiots who want to take a left from the right turn lane and force me to miss the light when we’re running late.

Every few minutes, I tune in to see where we are. Sometimes I get a snippet like:

“Is there such a thing as a car that drives and flies and floats? Do you think someone is trying to invent that? Probably not, ‘cause it’s impossible. People always want to invent a time machine, right? What was it like in the year 15? Were there cavemen and dinosaurs? I wonder if I’d like living with cavemen. Do you think they’d whack me with those big stick club things? Man, that would hurt.”

Sometimes I play a more active role in the conversation, when he’s not satisfied to answer his own questions and grabs my attention with his subtle yet effective call of


Yes, boy?

Do you like being a principal? (I’m not a principal)


Do you feel proud that you’re in charge of a whole school?
(I am indeed in charge of a whole school)


What if you were an actor?

What if I was?

What kind of movies would you be in?


Could I watch your movies?


What if they’re rated R?

Then no

Whaaaaat? I can’t even watch the movies that my own mom is in?

Not if they’re rated R!

But I’d want to see you in movies!

Well, maybe I’d just make PG movies

And this is when it occurs to me that I’m actually arguing with my child about whether or not he can watch the movies that I would make in some alternate reality where I’m a movie star.

What if I decided to make porn?!

Another time, he called:


Yes, son?

I miss Morgan (he really does)

Me too (me too)

I can’t wait to get another dog

Me either

Can we get a boy dog?

Probably not, daddy and I have always had girl dogs

What if we find a dog that’s really really cute and needs a home and is a boy?

I don’t know buddy, we’ll see

What if he has a wife dog and we don’t know it but she’s having 5 puppies?


Could we keep both dogs and all the puppies?


Whaaaat? We’d have to take the puppies away from their mom and dad?!

We can’t have that many dogs! They’d poop everywhere.

But the puppies would be so cuuuuute! Pleeeease?!

No, we’ll just have one dog

So can we get a boy dog?

And on we go. It’s such a funny, interesting place to visit, this 9 year old brain.

We miss you, Porgie girl. Thanks for not having 5 puppies.

The Offer

Okay, well, it’s happened. I guess I knew it would someday, but honestly, I’m surprised it’s so soon. I’m surprised in a good way, but still. It’s not even been two full weeks that the house has been on the market, and we have AN OFFER. Hooray! I think…..

I’m supposed to be excited, right? (It’s April 2008, terrible housing market, national recession, etc.) Well I guess I am, but I also feel shaky, like you do when you’ve not eaten in a long time, or more accurately, like you do when you have two pieces of Godiva chocolate for breakfast and it’s two hours later, your blood sugar has plummeted and your hands resemble an alcoholics’ during his/her first days in Betty Ford.

So which is it, the two pieces of Godiva I ate this morning (compliments of my in-laws for staying at the said house) or the news of THE OFFER? It doesn’t really matter, I guess, I’m still feeling strange, and am now slightly obsessing about THE OFFER.

Where the hell am I going to go? Yes, yes, I’ll have to move. But where? And how? (I have absolutely no upper body strength.) And geez, when am I going to find the *time* to relocate?

It’s a reasonable offer, they did not low ball us too much, and we’re going to counter, so it may all just fall apart anyway, when they get the counter offer. But it may not…..

Change is good, change is growth…..blah, blah, blah…….But, here it is….I DON’T WANT TO GO! It’s my home (and has never been cleaner)! It’s my children’s home! It’s no longer their father’s home -- but hey, the rest of us still live there. He moved out. Voluntarily.

Frighteningly, it’s a High School Musical song that is coming to mind. Are the lyrics from the song “Bet On It” really easing my mind? Oh Jesus, I’m losing it. Obviously. But if Troy can find such fist shaking, golf swinging inspiration from the words, so can I. Right?

I’m blaming the whole thing on Ellie, and Mistah Schleckah too. Why oh why did you do such a good job on the bathroom grout? Why such perfection on the re-painting of the garage and bedroom doors?

So I guess it comes down to this.....is there room in the Westy?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Stockholm Syndrome

Stock·holm Syndrome
: the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor

I was a prisoner who fell in love with my captor, Motel 6.

We finally busted out of the Motel 6 in Nogales and, well, I miss it.

I miss the pool:

I miss the unlimited supply of towels, and comfy bed and clean sheets:

(although not the grumpiness of the guy on the bed, with sunglasses on inside).

I miss baseball on tv:

I miss practicing Spanish with the staff.

But mostly,

I miss the free ice. I bonded with, identified with, and sympathized with that free ice.

Goodbye Motel 6.

Hello world.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


It’s Sunday morning, today is the Day Of The Portfolio. I just got in to my quiet, empty workplace, make a cup of coffee, made nice piles of all my graduate coursework and drafts, then sat down to blog. Gotta warm up the ol’ writing chops, right? Right.

I’ll just take a moment to tell you about yesterday. It was a typical Saturday morning, I went to the gym early and then did my petco/payless/vons circuit. Beth (the artist formerly known as YOU. enough already) called me at Vons to see what wonderous adventures we could dream up for a perfect afternoon in the predicted heat wave. But alas, I was unavailable.

We had a karate tournament (cue dramatic music).

It’s a long story, but the abbreviated version is that the last time my son participated in a tournament, he was in a group of 8 kids and they awarded 7 trophies. Ouch. He was not keen to return, but a mere two years later, there we were!

It was great. I experienced the typical mom at a sporting event range of emotions:

Wait. Beam. Swell. Burst. Cringe. Adore.

In between, there was lots of “shhhhhhh” and “I said I don’t have any snacks!” and “cheer for your sister/brother, you self-involved little shit!”

just kidding.

Anyway, it was joyous. We had promised the kids a celebratory dinner at what we call Greece - a place with a great story to be written that features a letter, a kitchen tour, and free meat.

But I had had the inspired idea to pack up our beach stuff just in case, and it was so easy to convince them that what we needed after those 3 hours at the dojo was not to sit inside of Greece, but to hit the beach.

Why yes, I do rock.

We had dinner at the usual spot, and scored great parking AND the front row seats overlooking the ocean. I wish I had taken pictures of our ice cold pitcher, fish tacos, prizes from the claw machine, kid/dog love fest. But I left my stuff in the car. In fact, when we ordered the beer, the 14 year old waiter asked for my ID. I told him I had to get it from the car, and he said nevermind.

After dinner we retrieved our beach gear and my camera, and it went a little something like this:

My peeps played frisbee

My girl can’t resist the ocean’s pull. And bathing suits are for chumps.

My next post will be about this guy

This looks like a yoga pose, but turns out what I thought was an orange lifeboat being lowered from the pier is actually the Frisbee leaving his hands! I wish I knew how to put an arrow in there

And the obligatory photo of mom and dad smooching. Which we do pretty much all of the time, not just when one of the kids grabs the camera and demands it.

A perfect evening.

Now let me go write this bad boy, would ya?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Are we still here? Oh, we're still here.

Are we still here? Oh, we're still here. Did the guys in San Diego overnight the seal to our man Rubén in Nogales? Well, yes, they say they did. But they also say they sent it via US Mail, instead of FedEx. Did it arrive? No. No, it did not. Will it arrive today? Now that is a good question. If it does arrive, it will presumably arrive in Nogales with Rubén’s regular mail delivery, at 2 p.m. If that happens, will Rubén be able to put the transmission back together, with its fancy new seal, in time for us to get out of Nogales today?

I don’t know. I just do not know. And, frankly, I’m starting to like it around here…

We've got caguamas..... (That’s Mexican slang for giant Tecates. Giant Pacificos are called ballenas. Read Richard Grant’s God’s Middle Finger. Or don’t, actually, if you’re planning to travel in northern Mexico by car any time soon.)

And our caguamas have their very own coolies, thanks to Dora. (No, not Dora the Explorer. Dora my niece and nephew’s preschool teacher. Don’t worry; she doesn’t hand out caguamas coolies to preschoolers. At least I don’t think she does.)

Mistah Schleckah has a sad sad face because, well, because he’s a sad sad man. You know, all this stuck-in-Nogales-with-no-way-out-after-8-days stuff. So I escape as much as I can. I bike to the library, I bike to the Motel 8 (vastly superior to the lowly Motel 6) where I sit on the steps in the garden and plug in our laptop and get online, I swim in the pool, and I go to the Safeway. I go to the Safeway about 5 times a day. I pee there more than I pee in our motel room. There’s a wifi hotspot on the tables outside, which is great except 1. there’s no plug and 2. the pervasive smell of pizza drives me crazy and makes me drool all over my keyboard.

Yesterday, after Mistah really thought we were actually going to be out of here (isn’t that cute?), then found out we weren’t, then had a big fight on the phone with the guys in San Diego who were supposed to have fixed our rig in the first place, then had a caguama, then got on the phone with our realtor friend in Texas because in the meantime we’re trying to rent out our house there, I took off on my bike for the Safety of the Safeway. I got online, read delightful online bits from delightful online friends, then biked home. . .


· Our laptop
· A 1.5 liter bottle of cabernet
· A pound of spaghetti
· A package of frozen meat-a-balls (Mistah thought spag ‘n’ balls would help…)
· A head of lettuce (our motel 6 ice bucket is our salad bowl)
· 2 jars of Safeway brand (natch) spag sauce
· A head of garlic
· Red pepper flakes from the Mexican aisle (we left our spices in the westy)
· Tomatoes (which suck. When oh when will the tomatoes be good?)
· Primo Taglio hot pepper jack cheese (I’m an addict; cheese is my crack)

Which would all be fine and good except in Nogales Arizona, bicyclists are invisible. Gigantic SUV-type monstrosities cut you (well, not YOU) off, and don’t even notice. So you – okay, *I* – don’t even get the satisfaction of the bastid feeling badly about cutting me off. No, I teetered home on my bike with my backpack, and a grocery bag hanging off each handlebar, and the things I put my feet into on my pedals scraping the ground upsidedown – I couldn’t put my feet into them, because I couldn’t get my feet out of them fast enough, every time I had to stop-on-a-sixpence when a gigantic SUV almost ran me over.

The good news? I made it home alive.

And made dinner.
Mistah was right. Spag ‘n’ Balls helped.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Scary Hairy

Today’s headache is starting to kick in. After re-posting a job description on craigslist because the first round of applicants (150 of them!!!) were so dismal, 8 new equally dismal resumes have come in (thus far). I’m not claiming to be a Mensa member, but if the job description says:


would you (not the me “you,” but all you yous out there) really apply if you wanted a full-time job? Well, would you (again, you, not me)? I, for one, would not. Does that ALL CAPITAL LETTER deal not scream out at you? Hell, I feel like someone is yelling in my face when I get an email with all capital letters. Urrgh. Apparently the youth of today are not put off by all caps. So bold. So apparently undeterred by common sense.

I got so frustrated that I replied to one of the new applicants, Morris is his name, asking if he was looking for a part-time position. Here is his reply:

Ms. Simonsen

Thank you for your prompt reply. I am looking for a full time position. Please call me if your any further questions.

Thank You


Oh well, so anyway, the headache. I figured ranting here would ease the pain just a bit, and actually I’m quite looking forward to leaving work today (yes, as I do EVERY day) because I’m off to get my hair cut tonight. What is it about going to my stylist that’s so appealing? Well it’s certainly not that I get to call her my “stylist”; in fact, I have a hard time saying this word, although I have no idea why. It sounds so Beverly Hills, I guess, and well, I’m just not.

I think there are a number of things that do make it appealing though: the fact that you can guiltlessly page through the latest People Magazine, eavesdrop on the conversation of the client before you, get your head massaged while shampooed (even if this does simultaneously entail the back-of-the-neck-pressed-against-the-cold-hard-sink torture), and talk about anything that strikes your fancy when it’s your turn in the chair.

There are also, of course, the less-than-ideal things about going to the stylist. There is the sink torture mentioned above, and the fact that you are forced to stare at yourself in the mirror while looking like a drowned rat

with your wet hair plastered to the side of your head, and/or when you get to look at yourself in the same mentioned mirror all decked out in head armor -- those neat little rows of aluminum foil that make you look like some sort of crazy lady trying to contact UFOs.

But the biggest reason to fear the SALon, as my stylist calls it, is THE BAD HAIRCUT. My last haircut was one of these. And I was not expecting it. Not at all. I love my stylist. I’ve been going to her for years, 14 or so. She even did my wedding up-do (which in retrospect was a big waste of time, but that’s a whole other subject). I trust her. Completely. Turns out this was a big mistake.

I told her, as I’m sure none of you would be so foolish to do, that “I need a change. Do what you want.” If you are not gasping right now, you should be. It was dumb. I know. I’m not sure why I couldn’t see the carnage happening while in the chair, some sort of you-can-do-anything-you-want-as-long-as-you-keep-playing-with-my-hair trance, I guess. But I knew pretty quickly after leaving the SALon.
I definitely knew before I arrived at my boyfriend’s house, but what was I going to do? Spend the night in the car? We’ve not been going out too long, so I knew he wouldn’t be too cruel. He tried to play it off, but he was unconvincing. This of course sent me right to the bathroom mirror, where I decided it was some modern, female version of a mullet. Yes, a mullet. An updated, urban 2008 mullet.

I drank a few beers. I forgot about it. Until the next morning. This is when it gets really bad. I realized that I had a Hilary Clinton do! Just a little bit longer. A little extra length was the only real difference between our haircuts.

You can imagine my surprise.

I admitted my discovery to my boyfriend. Here is what the cold-hearted bastard said to me: “Hilary’s hair style is very age-appropriate.”

Hilary is 60, I am 39! Not even yet 40 (though pushing it for sure).

God I hope today goes better....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

RUN rhymes with FUN, but it's not.

On Monday, it took me about three and three quarter hours to get my household up and fed and dressed and off to school, get checked in with my internet world and my human world, accomplish a few tasks at work, and start to plan the day’s lunch. In those same three and three quarter hours, my sister ran the Boston Marathon.

Not this sister (still desperately no-go in Nogales)

sister. The one with the triumphant wave.

Isn’t she studly?

You may or may not know this, but YOU (no, no, not you. YOU) and ME (yes me) are all signed up to run a 12K next month. That’s about 7 miles, right? This is what the super stud said about 10 miles:

“The nice thing about turning it around at Mile 16 is that it's only 10 miles to go. 10 is doable, and that number keeps decreasing”

So it’s nice to have 10 miles to run. Isn’t that nice?

The idea of me running the 12K is so funny; it actually makes me Laugh Out Loud. You would laugh too, if you were inside my head during one of my “training” sessions on the treadmill. The thing about running, especially on a treadmill but also anywhere else, is that it’s so boooooooooring. I just get completely trapped in my own little slice of hell, and the only thing I can think about is how long I must suffer until it is over.

On the treadmill, I play little games to distract myself. I constantly change the pitch and the speed to keep it interesting. I try not to stare at the numbers, but I can’t help it! I can’t read with all of the .... you know, RUNNING, and I don’t have an ipod so I find myself trudging along to the soundtrack in my head, which for some reason is always “Come on Eileen”. Remember that song? I’m not sure if it enters my subconscious because my pace is like the beat or because of that part of the video when all the people in overalls come running toward the camera.

But that’s what I’m hearing. And seeing. I need an ipod.

The good news is that this run that we are going to do in May is just one tiny little portion of a weekend trip we are taking with 10 other women for a very special occasion, and the race itself is sort of famous for its nakedness and for having Bloody Marys at the water stops. How many miles/cocktails do you think it will be before YOU (not you) and ME (yes me) get naked?

Next time I train on the treadmill, I’m going to incorporate some of this.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nogales, Mexico.

While we're waiting for some guy in L.A. to rebuild a torque converter for our Westy, we ride our bikes to the border.
After a delicious asada taco lunch on the Arizona side...

...we head across the border…

…and within about 15 seconds get funneled directly into the market.

I want to buy everything, -- I love the pottery and the tiles and the colors…

But, man, I find the constant accosting exhausting.
(although this guy did give me a dirty, ugly good-luck frog. For free.)
Nogales is a gritty-but-beautiful, vibrant, cacophonous high-energy town, on both the Arizona and Sonora sides. It feels like it should be one town.

Except, of course, it’s got a wall going through the middle of it...

...and a gate to pass through the international border.

But it’s got cool old streets,

…and cool old bars, that serve refreshing cervezas.

And back “home” at Motel 6, we rejoice in our loot:
a bullet-shaped bottle of tequila (in “tribute” to the Narcotraficantes who rule Mexico’s Sierra Madre), a metal alacrán (scorpion) sculpture, and a talavera ceramic bowl.

It’s not so bad being broken down in a border town…

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ice Cubes.

My kids just learned how to make ice cubes. Isn’t that shocking? I guess it’s really not, since they’ve only known ice to come out of the freezer door or the cooler for the duration of their short lives. But what a childhood memory not to have! The old metal ice cube trays with that treacherous lever to disengage the cubes? Then the stack of perpetually cracked, mismatched blue plastic trays that had to be filled even though it took forever?

Kids these days.

But I digress. They are here in my workplace with me today, getting into trouble while I struggle valiantly to stay on task with the writing of my stupid-ass portfolio, which is due in two weeks. My workplace is pretty fun – not so much for ME, but for anyone else under age 10 with time to kill on a Saturday afternoon. So the kids are running from place to place (walking is so dull) on some class of mission, and I bust them going into our deep freezer. I assume that they are stealing popsicles, which has been specifically forbidden today. By me. For no reason other than that mommy is a pre-menstrual bitch so NO. They insist that they were not after popsicles, just ice cubes! Sheesh, mom! I told them where to go for ice cubes – in the regular kitchen freezer. Off they ran.

A few minutes later, they ran by again, with a bucket full of ice cubes. I stopped them to ask if it was hard. It was. I asked them what they had done with the ice cube trays, they said they had put them back in the freezer. Empty? Yeah. I directed them to go back and fill them with water before putting them in the freezer.




Oh my God, what a world.

I showed this entry to Ellie, and she said it screamed for a photo.
I'm not yet sure about posting photos of my kids,
so I went with an ice cube.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Never See This Stuff Coming.....

Even after traveling 7-1/2 years in our 1987 VW "Westy", we never know what to expect.

Sunday I'm swimming with my niece in the Pacific Ocean, near San Diego.

Well, mostly I'm trying to avoid strangulation by a 6-year-old's deathgrip.

Monday night I'm camping under the stars in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

Tuesday I'm witnessing a breathtaking sunset in a saguaro valley in southern Arizona.

Wednesday I'm getting drunk in the author Chuck Bowden's "green prozac" garden in Tucson.

Thursday our Westy voids her transmission fluid all over Highway 19 in Nogales, Arizona....

...and for the first time in 7-1/2 years on the road, we buy a hotel room. Some guy in L.A. has to rebuild a torque converter for us.

On Friday we find out the part won't get to Nogales until at least Tuesday. We're going to be here a while....

At least there's a pool.....