A Year of Meh

Today is the first day of 2014.  So then, Happy New Year!  As I look back on 2013, it certainly was a year of meh.  No, that’s not a typo- not a year of “me”, just a year of meh.  It had the potential to be something great, but no, it turned out to be meh.  Mediocre.  Unexceptional.  Same old shit.

I checked out my blog history for 2013 and I posted exactly seven times in 2013.  SEVEN.  I had more drafts, more posts started sitting there in my dashboard than those I actually posted.  I was not inspired and definitely not in the mood for anything last year let alone posting.  Pathetic.

Being pathetic, I watched all the episodes of Breaking Bad (except for the last 8 episodes.  Thanks Netflix).  I watched all of the first two seasons of The Big Bang Theory (including all the episodes on network TV and the Tuesday night marathons on TBS).  I watched Best Ink, Once, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Long Island Medium, Top Chef, Master Chef Junior and countless bad movies.  I sat on the couch, worked from home and stared at the TV.

It was better than dealing with what was going on in the world.

You can reread all my F*CK You Friday posts, or you can watch the news and see senseless killings. Log on to twitter and gawk the twittering twits. Look out of my window and you’ll agree I’m living in Crazytown. Follow me to work and observe the moronic. Contemplate the skies and witness wacky weather. Regard the rude, look at the liars, behold the ungrateful and note the knuckleheads.

Escaping into television seemed like a good idea at the time. Having only my yoga pants fit now doesn’t seem like such a great conclusion to 2013.

Other people in my family fared better than I did in 2013.  Beena started a full-time job in a Bronx high school teaching Math to ESL students. Yes, they are kids who don’t speak a lot of English.  It’s a lot of work for her and a hellish commute but she seems to love it and keeps us laughing with anecdotes of bad English and cute kids.   We’re in full-blown wedding mode now that it’s less than six months away and I’m seriously considering taking her to the doctor and getting her a prescription for Xanax.  She gets kind of frantic even though she has the majority of wedding stuff taken care of.

Utah is still working full time and going to school.  This past semester she pulled a 4.0 GPA for her four classes.  Today is her one year Anniversary with Kevin, one of Beena and John’s groomsmen.  MR calls her dating “Kevynning”.  He’s nice and really good for her.

She’s been looking into her future and trying to decide what to do for the next phase of her life.  She shouldn’t worry- she’ll be good at anything she does.

Zombiegirl had a few milestones this year.  She graduated from Middle School with Honors and the won the same award Utah won ($100) when she graduated from MS.  She was also Confirmed from St. A’s and got her first real job with a real paycheck at the local ice skating rink, working the snack bar.  High School is keeping her busy- honors classes and soccer and more soccer and an iPhone and a boyfriend- it’s a miracle we see her at all.  The highlight of her year was shooting her first deer.  We’re eating good in 2014.

MR and I celebrated our 50th birthdays.  Hooray.  It was a quiet birthday for both of us except for the honking of cars on my day.  Thanks to the soccer moms for bombing my house with “Honk, I’m turning 50” signs and “50”s spray painted in shaving cream on the sidewalk, I’m constantly reminded of a perfectly mediocre birthday because the 50s are still there.

Memorable events in 2013?  A zombie 5K run (walk), a rocking good time with Ro seeing Rock of Ages on Broadway, an all-girls camping trip to Lake George, surgery for my lady parts, Amy’s sudden passing (Pastor’s wife), any time Howard the Snake sheds, the passing of Magma, Z-girl’s gecko, the Red Wedding and a major spiritual breakup.  2013 saw the usual delusionals, drama queens (and kings) and wackadoodles, but I should be used to all that.

2014? It can only get better.  I got off the couch today and I’m planning on running later and do some yoga before I go to bed.  Happy New Year to you and you and you.

Stuff I Was Doing When I Wasn’t Here

I’m recapping the last month or so, getting the pictures out of my camera and getting it all down here because,

I HAVE BIG NEWS!

But you’ll have to wait.  I have things to say first:

  • A few weeks ago, I managed to dissolve some skin on my feet:

Ewww, gross.

No, these are not my feet, but it sure felt like them when I spilled boiling water down my front on Monday.  I was wearing sweats which prevented serious burns on my thighs, but then it splashed down onto my feet.  For the rest of the day I sat shivering under a light blanket because it hurt too much to put socks on my blistered feet.   For days afterwards, it felt like a really bad sunburn.  I didn’t go into the office for four days, but worked from home, pantless.

Lovely.  I’ve been told I need to invest in a HazMat suit.  I happen to look nice in yellow.

  •  Zombiegirl managed to squeeze three sports activities in one day.  First, she scored one of the two goals in her 2-1 win over Syosset- the only win the team has to date and one of the more interesting games of the year.  I’ll write about that debacle shortly.  Then we raced upstate to my nephew’s birthday party at The Cliffs in Hawthorne.  I totally want to have a party there- it looked like so much fun, and something I could actually do.

I’d have to be wrapped in bubble wrap first.

That same night we went bowling for the soccer club’s fundraiser.  Between the beer, the driving and the fresh air, we slept really well that night.

  • We celebrated Halloween.  Try and guess what Zombiegirl’s costume was:

Everyday she's shufflin'...

I was able to successfully finish the costume for her Middle School dance the Friday before Halloween with minimal grousing from her.  I even painted her “Party Rock” shoes:She didn’t win any prizes at the dance, but she came out of the school all excited because she had her own “groupie circle” with her dancing in the middle and everyone circling her chanting her name.

This kid is not shy.

  • Halloween showed up with some very impressive pumpkin carving.  My kids are so creative:And a few unexpected guests showed up:

                                                                                           Zombiegirl and her boyfriend.

  • I made cookies for the families that contributed boxes to our new Halloween props (which I’ll post about when they’re done.):

I've perfected my cookie decorating.

  • The night before Halloween, Beena celebrated her birthday with an interesting cake.  I can’t BELIEVE this kid is 23!

Happy Birthday, Beena!

(She doesn’t like frosting.  Seriously, who’s kid is she?)

  • The wildlife in the neighborhood has gone beyond stalking and is now murderous:

Ewww.

We were getting in the car when it started “snowing”.  When we realized it was bloody bird feathers, we ran.

  • The domestic wildlife got a little weird on the odd day of 11/11/11:

Dogs used computers and kids stopped time:I think I’m just about caught up.

BIG NEWS post is coming soon!  Woot!

Catching Up

Whew.  The last few days in October are always a whirlwind at our house.  If they happen to fall on a weekend, it’s even worse.  Besides Halloween and soccer games, there’s my nephew’s birthday and of course, Beena’s birthday.  I’m usually found finishing up Halloween costumes at the last minute as well as baking cupcakes and birthday cakes.  Going out dinner, visiting the in-laws, shopping for candy and scheduling Trick-or-Treating dates.  Maybe a party or two.  And carving pumpkins:

(MR’s Oogie Boogie)

(My Hedwig)

(Kansas’ racoon)

(Z-girl’s Flaming Skull)

It’s chaotic.

This year I decided to make matters worse by making cake pops for Zombiegirl’s soccer team.  I had it in my head to make enough for her team as well as the opposing team and all the siblings, probably 60 was a safe amount.  These are the infamous cake pops made famous by Baker-ella, whom after writing her cake-pop-book, took the instructions off her website.  Gee, thanks.  I’ve wanted to make these pops for a long time- they’re so cute and so damn easy, made evident by the sight of them around the WHOLE internets.  Almost every site I’ve visited in the last year or so has experimented in these bite-sized morsels.  Therefore it was easy to get the directions from someone else’s website.  Hah.  More than one way to skin a cat.  I’m not buying the damn book just to get this experiment out of my system.  I’ve made Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter cupcakes with FONDANT, for cracker’s sake.  What’s a few (dozen) cakey bally ghosts and pumpkins?

Okay, maybe I should have at least taken the book out of the library.

I followed the instructions for the ghosts and they came out absolutely horrible.  The frozen cake disintegrated in the chocolate and my tap-tap-tapping caused it to fall off the sticks.  My ghosts looked like they didn’t wash their sheets in a month.  I managed to salvage about 15 of the 30 balls I froze for ghosts and piped eyes and wrapping around the whole mess.  My ghosts were now mummies:

The pumpkins didn’t fare well either.  I now realize I didn’t use the right chocolate to dip them in.  Wilton chocolate disks, although pretty colorful, aren’t right for this project.  At least the dipping part.

I ended up with 15 mummies and 15 pumpkins- enough for the siblings on our side of the field.  The girls lost that game, but at least they had delicious (albeit ugly) cake pops to munch on the way home.

Saturday afternoon was dedicated to making cupcakes for Beena’s birthday (she didn’t want cake and she hates frosting) and the owl cupcakes I made for Zombiegirl’s Harry Potter Party.  I WAS going to make the owls for MR’s soccer team for Halloween (they’re the WH OWLS) but since I wasn’t going to the game it would have looked silly if MR brought CUPCAKES for these guys.  Kansas asked for a dozen of the owls to bring to work, so I split a batch of cupcakes between owls and Beena’s birthday.  I was going to hit Dad up for Mom’s white frosting recipe, but I found this and decided to try it.  Oh, yum- so good!  And it was easy- 10 minutes in the Kitchen Aid and it was done!  In fact at the nine minute mark I cracked up because the frosting puffed up so much it tried to escape the mixing bowl.

(yes, I made the cake stand too.)

Beena decorated them, we lit them on fire and sang.

Happy 22nd Birthday, Beena!

On Halloween, Zombiegirl and her friend were ready to go at 10:00 a.m., but I held them off until noon.  Even then people turned them away because it was too early or they just didn’t answer the door.  Really?  On a Sunday?  We got some kookie people ringing our bell- parents dressed up in costume and holding out bags right along with their kids and thirty-year olds dressed as knights going door to door.  The economy is that bad that adults have to go Trick-or-Treating too?

M’kay.

Zombiegirl shed her costume part by part as the day went on.  She doesn’t have her utility suspenders on.  She is a dead ringer for Hitgirl, no?

 

She’s even got the ‘tude.

So now that tumultuous weekend is behind us, it’s a fast slide towards Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Oh. Joy.

Hang on.

In 1492, Chrisoffa Corombo Sailed the Ocean Blue

Really, why do we celebrate this so-called holiday?

 Seventy-three years ago, President F. D. Roosevelt declared Columbus Day a federal holiday after the Knights of Columbus organization put a little squeeze on him.  (I can’t help humming the theme to the Godfather as I write this!)  And I can’t help laughing when I think about who they’ve picked to honor.

Chrisoffa Corombo (his real name before it was Anglicized) isn’t really a person we should look up to.  The fact that he discovered America? That little notion taught to us in school is a little skewed.  Backed by the Spanish monarchs, he did discover the “New World”- the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba- but he never set foot in North America.  That distinction belongs to the Amerigo Vespucci and the Vikings- the people I’m partially descended from.  Why don’t we see any Viking parades going down Fifth Avenue?

We’re taught in school that those who opposed Corombo thought the Earth was flat, but that wasn’t the case at all.  Even in ancient times, sailors knew the Earth was round and scientists not only suspected it was a sphere, but were even able to estimate its size.  And speaking of sailors, it wasn’t even Corombo’s idea to sail west from Spain- it was his brother Bartholomew’s idea.  Arriving in the Carribean, Corombo and his crew forced natives into slavery, tortured and killed thousands while serving as their governor, and brought syphilis and gonorrhea and smallpox from Europe.  He was an opium addict and a womanizer.  He frequently hanged members of his crew for disobeying him. Hmmm.  Not a nice man at all.   Far  into his old age, Corombo was still convinced he had sailed the coast of Asia.  Confused much?

As a kid, I remember making little paper ships (I can still smell the paste) and naming the three ships of Columbus. The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria- the schools didn’t even get that right.  The Nina was really the Santa Clara- it was nicknamed the Nina for it’s owner, Juan Nino of Moguer.  I guess it flowed better in the school poems we were taught calling it the Nina.  Corombo was not well-known or well-liked in his lifetime.  In fact, he was not revered until hundreds of years after his death by British colonists in the States who didn’t want to honor pioneer John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto), since that’s who the British government commisioned to explore the world.  Good work, guys.  Honor the drug addled killer…

So once again, I’m working on a day when most of the rest of America is home or apple-picking or on a Church retreat or in Vermont having a good time.  I’m in the city watching a parade of thousands of mis-informed Italian-Americans supposedly celebrating the life of a mediocre explorer, shaking my head at the lunacy of it.  Meh.  Another excuse to eat and drink too much and carry on in the subways.  At least my commute was quick and easy today.

Zombiegirl Kicks Ass

It’s that time of year…a chill in the air, leaves starting to turn, thoughts turning to pumpkins, witches and ghosts.  Normal Halloween thoughts in normal American homes.

Not in my house.

Zombiegirl starts thinking about next year’s  costume a few days after the current Halloween.  The candy hasn’t even been eaten and she’s already mulling through her ideas.  And her ideas?  They’re not of witches or doctors or cats or unicorns…

Her nickname IS Zombiegirl, after all.  And she’s lived up to it almost every year.

Sure, she was a pumpkin for her first Halloween.  We got to pick out her costume that year, back when we had a say in what she could wear.  The years after that, however, she was a ladybug, a mouse, a dragon, a pterodactyl, a wolf, a punk zombith (a cross between a zombie, goth and punk), a pirate (of the Caribbean kind), Coraline,well, you get the picture. From cute to weird.   Her best costume, however was this one:

She’s the one on the left.  Can you guess who she is?

Yeah.  Sweeney Todd.  The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  My kid is a freak.  An adorable, little freak.  (I’m going to post more pics when I find them…)

This year, it was a no-brainer in her brain what she was going to be.  Without a doubt, she was going to be Hit-Girl, from the movie Kick Ass.

Oh, you haven’t seen Kick-Ass?  Well, neither has she.  Not all of it.

It’s a great movie.  If you liked Kill Bill, you’ll like this one too.  This movie has violence, superheroes and, unfortunately, the foulest-mouthed little girl vigilante you’ll ever see.  Chloe Grace Moretz utters every curse in the book and steals every scene in the movie, and she was eleven at the time.  When the movie came out, she wasn’t allowed to see it either, and she called it “Kick-Butt”, just like Zombiegirl does.  We’ve let Z-girl see it with our fingers over the mute button, because I’m not sure she’s yet heard the C-word, or knows what it means.

So I asked her, “What are you going to tell people when they ask who you are?”  She tells me she’s Hit-Girl, from the movie Kick-Butt.  Or Kick-Donkey.  She doesn’t care.

She wants to be a superhero.

 

Erin Go Blech

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Woo. Hoo. Note the lack of enthusiasm.

St. Patrick’s Day is probably my least favorite “holiday” of the year. Not because I don’t like the Irish. I like them just fine. Heck, in my varied pedigree, I’ve got some Irish in me somewhere. It’s just…working in the city on St. Patrick’s Day is no fun.

Sure, there’s the parade. Lots of people like parades. I am not one of them. Another thing I can safely blame on my parents- my dislike of parades. Being dragged to the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade every year as a kid, freezing on a street corner until I couldn’t feel my toes and then having my vision blocked by larger people sneaking in front of us. Why did we come early, then? And then the squeeze of the people behind us, pushing and shoving to get a better line of sight. Sorry, not my idea of fun.

Then there’s the drinking. Not me, mind you. I have to WORK. I’m talking about the faux Irish people who take off today and tomorrow to literally drink all day. Starting on the commute IN to the city this morning. By the time I go home, the train smells like vomit and those people who had shamrocks prettily painted on their cheeks are bleary-eyed and their faces are smeared with streaks of green goop. They’ll be loud and smelly and will pick a fight with you if you shoot them dirty looks for singing “Danny Boy” at the top of their lungs. AND getting the lyrics wrong.

But the real reason I dislike St. Patty’s Day?

I hate kelly green. I love hunter green and chartreuse and even mint green. But kelly green turns my stomach and makes me see red.

I have no idea why. I wonder if one of those parade goers when I was a kid wore kelly green and stepped on my frozen toes.