Archive | September, 2012

Laundromat Warfare

20 Sep

Laundromats … they have a code of their own. I happen to rediscover that on a recent trip to wash the dog bed and other essential doggie  items.

This was the place …

I ran into the old school laundry ladies — the kind that scout out their dryers just as they’re putting the Ariel soap inside the washers. I ran into the kind of ladies that see you coming and grab hold of another cart knowing full well they won’t need one until the cycle is done, but they’re covering their bases. Bitches.  I ran into the old school laundry chick that reserves two tables to fold her clothes. I ran into the old school lady that never seems to lose a pair of socks. I ran into the old school lady that knows the manager and gets to watch telenovelas on the Zenith as she fluff and folds. I ran into the old school ladies that scoped me out as soon as I walked through the doors. They assessed me on the spot, and knew I wouldn’t get the “good” dryer.

I appeared not to be a threat.

This entire experience reminded me of the last time I did laundry in one of these places.

The last time?

I was back in high school. If you ever looked at the hours and noticed the 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM sign and wondered who the hell would ever be there at five o’clock in the morning? Me. That’s who. The entire Guat clan. My mother suffered from early-riser syndrome. We had no cure for it, so we had to suffer too. My father, sister, and I suffered more from the late-night-TV watcher syndrome. These disorders clashed on Sunday mornings.

I know what you’re thinking? Did we have washers in our building? Yes! Yes we did.

But it didn’t matter that our building had two washers and two dryers for our own convenience. It didn’t matter that you tried doing your own laundry in the building during the week and had no dirty clothes at all, you were waking up at 4:40 AM and making the trip. Regardless! Laundry was a family affair, well more like a family penance. Everyone got involved. Everyone.

Every Sunday morning, before the sun was even up, my mom would wake everybody in the house. Not in a gentle, nice “hey dears wake up.” It was more of an army drill sergeant that turns on the lights and scares the crap out of you. They’re barking orders, and you’re totally half asleep, falling out of bed, and running into doors and dressers. It was sweatpants, t-shirts, and baseball caps for everyone.

Showers?

I passed on that morning ritual. I was too exhausted to turn the knobs.

We’d drag the ginormous laundry bags and Cheer detergent to the station wagon.  My dad would drive us and we’d be one of the first families opening up those Maytag bad boys.  Once the clothes were in the washer you would think we could go back and sleep in the station wagon, right?

No, just my dad.

We had to engage in laundromat warfare. We held onto carts and tables, because some of the old school ladies trickling in would just take your detergent, fabric softener, or laundry bags out of the basket or off the tables and claim ownership.

And if one of those old school laundry ladies got the drop on us with a cart, dryer, or folding table you bet we’d hear about from our mom. You see she happen to be one of these old school laundry ladies herself and tried to school us on laundromat warfare. She thought it would be easier on us to do laundry when it was less crowded, an in and out trip early in the morning — a trip that lasted two-and-a-half hours. I don’t know what she was thinking. Nothing was easy at 5 AM on a Sunday morning. Nothing.

I was so happy when I went off to college. I could do laundry at any time. I usually chose to do it at 11 o’clock … at night.

My Happiness Project Update 13: Other People’s Crappy Life

19 Sep

I so wish I could be Buddha-like on this happiness-project resolution. I wish I could be one of those faceless shadowy figures who stand on a mountain top with an awesome sunset before them and their hands in the air — the kind of shadowy people who  are pictured in inspirational calendars. That was my goal, but no such luck. Not even close.

This whole gratitude thing proved to be one of the most difficult resolutions of My Happiness Project. I guess most people find it easy to be grateful. But before you go thinking that I’m some kind of an ass, let me clear things up. I am extremely grateful when good things happen to me. I’m busting out cartwheels and thank yous nonstop. They just don’t happen very often.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

I was doing pretty well with that whole gratefulness meditation thing that Gretchen Rubin suggests in her book, however I added chocolate and a glass of my favorite alcoholic beverage. And that seemed to help during ordinary days, but when you have crappy days I think that’s when the whole gratefulness factor needs to step it up a notch. This is where I’ve been failing, because there is not enough chocolate or Framboise.

I usually just get really bummed out because I can’t think of any new reasons for which to be grateful, so I end up watching a comedy to help improve my depressing attitude before going to bed. Then I’m thankful for comedy. Jason Bateman comedies are common during dark days, although I have a wide range of go-to films for crappy days like that.

But the key is thinking of something new or different each week, or each day. When this crappiness occurs, I always end up saying well at least I have my kids and my health. But part of this whole gratefulness resolution is to find more aspects of your life for which to be grateful.

So I got stuck. Then I realized why …

“One of the many ways to define unhappiness is the degree of difference between where you are and where you want to be — or the difference between what is and what you expect.” — Dale Carnegie

Yes. That’s me. There is a big degree of difference between what I am and what I imagined I’d be at 37. Ginormous. But I’m sure I’m not alone on this one, probably a handful of other people feel the same.  So then Gretchen Rubin makes a suggestion. Catastrophe Memoirs. In other words read about someone else’s really crappy, horrible life and be thankful that it wasn’t you. Now I’m all for reading, but I feel bad about gaining appreciation and gratefulness at the expense of others. I don’t want to be that person who reads about a chick with cancer and thinks … well thank God that’s not me. That’s sort of a crappy way to get to a happier place.

But I realized that Rubin wasn’t suggesting that I have the ha-ha this-happened-to-you-and-not-me mentality. It was more of  an “admonition to live fully and thankfully in the present,” and not wait until “catastrophe” strikes in order to be grateful, or in order to do the things that make your life a life. Appreciate ordinary days and cherish your health. This was what Rubin was getting at with all the catastrophe memoirs.

However, I have yet to read one. I imagine when I’m all the way at the bottom I might crack one open without feeling guilty. But for now, hearing about other people’s crappy life will do just fine. Plus I just stocked up on Framboise and chocolate.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

18 Sep

 

It’s a rager

 

Everyday Life

Morning. A clean house. Neat. Tidy. Quiet. Febreeze.

Enter kids.

A motley crew of characters take over the living room like a crazy Toys R’ Us hurricane.

Construction workers, pirates, Little People who constantly sing some “Open & Close” song that drives me nuts, Lightening McQueen and his race cars, Batman, Superman, and the Monster Truck entourage.

This is followed by a quick game of putt-putt golf where we pretend we’re at The Master’s and apparently I lose quite often.

The baby has no interest in following golf etiquette. She plays with the shapes toy from IKEA and an activity table with plenty of ABC and 123 songs. Too many if you ask me.

Then we build a colorful structure with our Jenga blocks, which is then knocked down by the baby. Disappointment overcomes a four-year old boy until I build the tower up again. We play a fairly long game until the Jenga Powers That Be think I should lose for the third time in a row.

The Big Green Ball makes an appearance, courtesy of the baby. Jenga blocks everywhere. Everywhere. Sneaky laughter.

But despite the toy explosion my son in his Lightning McQueen shoes, and my daughter in her Old Navy socks, find space to dance once they hear Gangnam Style by Psy. It’s a rager.

Lunch.

Clean up.

Repeat.

Moment of silence for mom … with chocolate.

Life … Everyday life.

 

 

 

 

The Lurkers

17 Sep

You ever have that one couple that always seems to pop out at the most inopportune time?

You’re at the park, packed up, ready go, practically walking on the sidewalk trying to make your way home because you have to make dinner, give the kids a bath, and put them to bed. It’s a race. A race for your sanity and you’re just trying to win because if you’re late everything gets screwed up and the bedtime battle lasts longer than your patience can withstand.You’ve got everything timed just so and then …  they come out with their kids waving hello, and striking up conversation about arsenic in apple juice. What? Yeah.

The Lurkers

You try the nodding thing for about three minutes but then the conversation continues and now they’re talking about effectiveness of balancing bikes as your kid is riding his bicycle with training wheels. You wish the encounter had some kind of Bat Cave exit.  But no … there’s no way of getting out of it immediately  without looking like a jackass. You so wish you had Larry David there for back up because you know he’d come through for you.

But you’re solo.

So you do your fifteen-to-twenty-minute polite talk because your kid likes to play with their kids. Their kids get your kid all riled up running up and down the grass, and you’ve just finished an hour-long baseball, soccer, golf, hide-and-seek, and tag marathon. You swear you don’t know where this energy is coming from. All you can think about is how to stop this, because your bedtime battle will definitely be extended.

However during the conversation you notice something about the couple’s dynamic. You hadn’t really noticed it immediately, but now you’re pretty sure of it. Whenever couples hang out, there always seems to be the cool, nice, easy-going one and then there’s the other one. The chink in the chain — the one with all the trivial pursuit game questions for conversation starters.

No one wants to hang out with that.

So then I realized that sometimes the chain needs a break, thus the constant flagging me down when I’m trying to rush home, probably because she’s tired of the trivial pursuit type of conversations. You feel bad because you realize that the lady is really nice, she just got the short end of the stick.

But even though you feel sympathy for your fellow chick, you can’t keep going with this charade. So you start with the signals — the hey-son-you-got-five-minutes-left warning, the hey I-think-my-kid-is-crying-because-she’s-hungry reason, and the yeah we better get going soon because it’s getting dark and the moon is out.  But the dude doesn’t get it. He keeps talking about the effectiveness in compost.

But she does. So she calls for her kids and says she needs to get dinner started. You sigh in relief and try to wave your kids in as quickly as possible and blurt out the words good-bye, before he starts another conversation.

You escape. Finally.

But three days later you show up at the park again at a completely different time, hoping not to run into anybody, but you know that there out there somewhere — the lurkers. They’re out there.

 

It’s Good to Have Someone in Your Corner

16 Sep

 

Image via quotablecards.com

 

Sometimes I forget things like this, especially when I’m out there trying to “make it” professionally in this world, and it doesn’t happen. You get kind of burned out with rejection after rejection. I’m not trying to be a famous writer, just a successful one by my standards.

But then I realized a while back that to one person it didn’t mater what I wrote or whether I was successful. I was awesome regardless. My son … he reminded me that I was pretty amazing, even in the mornings. He’s always in my corner.

 

Guys Suck … They Really Do. But Frida Helped Out.

15 Sep

Angry. Irate. Frustrated. Hostile. Raging. Furious. All hell was breaking loose as these emotions consumed me. I was so upset that I was practically foaming at the mouth.

You sit there with high hopes and they crush you. You feel like you can count on them, but they let you down. They tell you that you can expect great things from them this year and they don’t come through.  It was the most gut-wrenching six hours I’ve spent on a Saturday … well at least this year.

I was so angry that I actually screamed. Not a chick scary movie scream, an Incredible Hulk-Wolverine scream deep from my gut.

My mom and dude rushed in, a little freaked out, to see what could possibly ignite such madness.

“What happened! Are you all right?”

I pointed at the screen. They noticed the fans rushing the field and the score.

“Jesus!”

They shook their heads and went back downstairs.

Football. It was college football.

Who was responsible?

Image via GoldenBearsBlogs.com

 

Image via ESPN.go.com

 

These two dudes. Completely responsible for all the profanity, jumping, wall pounding, yelling, and superstitious ritual rally cap wearing throughout the day.

First D’Amato  stirred the pot with his non-kicking skills. He went 0 for 3 today. I’d understand 2 for 3, possibly accept 1 for 3. But 0 for 3. Dude if you were a stockbroker you’d so be fired with that stat. He missed three field goals that changed the momentum of the game and the mojo of his team. This is where the frustration began. Even though The CAL Golden Bears made a comeback , they ended up losing to Ohio State.

I was so upset that I had to leave the house. I chose to exit a cool-air-conditioned living room for a 100-degree blaring heat. I just couldn’t be in the same room with the television.

After I calmed down, I returned for what I thought would be a game to turn things around for me. An event so awesome that I would high-five myself. But no … none of that. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of errors on the field today. Interceptions. Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude. The thought of it riles me up a bit. I better stop and count to ten.

Rehashing the game will only infuriate me, and I am currently at an acceptable chocolate and alcohol induced state. I’d like to keep it that way before going to sleep.

But in short, the anger just boiled over with the USC Trojans Football Team. I mean they lost to Stanford, for crying out loud. There mascot is a tree. This is where the Incredible Hulk-Wolverine powerful yelling began. However this time I couldn’t escape immediately. I had to read The Adventures of Woody and Buzz Lightyear and put the kids to sleep.

This did not help improve my mood.

I so wanted to break up with both of these teams. But I didn’t. I ended going out for a run. If I had a punching bag that would have been so much better. But instead I put on my New Balance and hit the pavement.

Better, but not great, because after the anger, came the heartbreak, and then the drinking.

But then a friend of mine sent me a text message and it made me laugh:

“Like Frida said … I tried to drown my sorrows with alcohol, but they eventually learned how to swim!”

Enter chocolate. Lots of chocolate. No swimming back from that one.

 

 

Pool Envy and a Triathlon Buddy

14 Sep

I don’t know if  it’s my 37 year-old body or the fact that it hit 103 degrees today, but my workouts have left me huffing and puffing. I’d like to think it was the heat and not my weary bones.

But I wasn’t crazy, I didn’t run in the 100-degree heat, I hit the track before it was an inferno. It may have only been about 90 degrees at that moment. But regardless of the heat, I had to put on those running shoes. The flu sidelined me for about two weeks and my body responded to all that non-exercise going around. So when I went back, slower than ever I might add, the heat wave began.

Image via Durtbagz.com

It’s times like this that I wish I had a pool. I wish I knew somebody nearby that had a pool. It would make training for this triathlon much easier. I envy the pool people.

Although sometimes they anger me because of my pool envy. You know, some of these people have a swimming pool just a few feet away and they could care less. Not even the Olympics inspires them enough to jump in and splash around. It’s the best exercise ever for people with bad knees like myself, not that I would know because I don’t do it regularly, but I read WebMD. I see the dirty pool, the leaves, the moss, and the slimy floaties hanging out.  Ugh. Burn.

I was so up in arms with my pool envy that I watched the Endless Pool infomercial the other night and thought … man I need that. Gotta have that, but it wasn’t happening. The patio may be too small, my mom might not have enjoyed the patio takeover even though she never hangs out there, and I don’t have thousands of dollars just lying around. So my endless pool fantasy died with a sigh and flip of the channel.

I resign to the possibility of training in my kid’s pool from Big Lots. But my 37 year-old body doesn’t quite fit in there. And you all know how I feel about public pools and swimming in other people’s urine. There’s just not enough chlorine.

So I must run my ass off and build enough endurance to make it happen in the pool.  However, this time I may not be splashing in the pool alone. A friend of mine decided she’d attempt her first triathlon and I was pretty happy that I wouldn’t be the loner. I even mentioned that the course was a lot shorter than the last time. A 5K run, only a 10K bike ride, and a 160 meter swim.

“I know you can do it. I mean look at you. You got that Sports Illustrated fitness going on, you belong to a gym, you got that New Year’s resolution. Dude it can all happen with a little jog, bike ride, and swim.”

“Cut it out.”

She eventually called me back and said yes, but I knew she was a little scared about the whole thing. I told her she could have her dude come along for moral support, or join us, or just be our pit crew.  But even with that, it was a hesitant yes. I’m hoping she’ll take the plunge and sign up. Once you sign up, that’s it … you’ve made a declaration. You’re in for the sixty bucks. It’s your ante for the big game.

But if she chickens out, it’s all good. I’ll understand. I’ll have a radio to pump me up this time. Singing the songs myself only worked for the first two miles the last time I ran one of these. Then after mile two, all I heard was my heavy breathing. I’m not into hearing my heavy breathing or the breathing of every one else. It may have slowed me down. And slow is something I’m trying to avoid this time around.

Giddy up!

 

It’s The Reason Why I Watch The FX Network

13 Sep

I don’t consider myself a biker chick. I don’t own a leather vest or leather chaps. I don’t own anything Harley-Davidson related. I have no tattoos. But I am a SAMCRO follower. I’ve been there since the beginning.

Image via FXNetworks.com

I hear the guitar strum … then my heart beats, and I nod my head in rhythm …

Riding through this world
All alone
God takes your soul
You’re on your own
The crow flies straight
A perfect line
On the devil’s bed
Until you die
Gotta look this life
In the eye …

Me … the sporty nerd was part of the masses. I was one of the 5.4 million viewers that tuned in this week to watch the season premiere of  Sons Of Anarchy.

Charlie Hunnam … dude.  Charlie. I took no phone calls. I turned off the computer. Made sure the kids were asleep by eight-thirty and then I ignored everybody in the household. It was SAMCRO time.

Image via FXNetworks.com

I wasn’t with my feet up, relaxing on the couch. I was on full edge of the couch alert mode, completely engaged in all the drama and action.

Why is it that I found myself completely ignoring the what’s-for-dinner question? I mean other than Charlie Hunnam … dude … Charlie. Hmmmmmm. He plays Jax Teller. Hmmmm. Jax Teller. No it wasn’t only the hot dude. It was  his opening monologue.

“Finding things that make you happy shouldn’t be that hard … There’s an old saying ‘that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I don’t believe that. I think the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things. Your family. Your friends. The satisfaction of hard work. Those are the things that will keep you whole. Those are the things you hold onto when you’re broken.”

Who does that? Who writes nitty-gritty awesome life advice like that? A genius.  A genius with a beard. Kurt Sutter.

If you haven’t watched the show … it’s O.K. I forgive you. They’ve got Hulu and Netflix now. You can catch up. But in short … it’s about an outlaw motorcycle club  in the city of Charming, California and their struggle to protect their club’s existence and semi-peaceful way of life. It’s got drama, violence, dark humor, and motorcycle stuff. It’s also got my undivided attention every Tuesday night.

Jax Teller is trying so hard to do the right thing, leave the motorcycle club, and make a new life with his family far away. But the drama, the past, the ties to his father who was an original member of the club, the revenge for his father’s death, the feud with his step-father who’s also a club member — a sneaky one, and his controlling mom whose all up in the club’s business,  keeps pulling him back in.

All this keeps me coming back every season.

I like watching Jax Teller’s inner conflict surface. Not because I enjoy people’s troubles but because he’s genuinely a good guy with a pure heart in an outlaw world, living by a code and trying to do what’s right for everyone.  He’s trying to stick to his father’s manifesto and bring the club back to a good place, but conflict arises and he tries his best to deal with it. He’s just like everyone else on earth … conflicted … except everyone else isn’t the president of an outlaw motorcycle club.

I was glued to the television this week, and will probably do so the entire season. So if it’s Tuesday night you’ll know where I’ll be … sitting on the edge of my couch along with the other 5.4 million people who watch.

Dude. FX rocks.

Dude … Back to Back

12 Sep

The Lakers did it with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic and then Shaq. The Boston Celtics did it with Bill Russell. The 49ers did it with Joe Montana. The Yankees did it with Derek Jeter. The Duke Blue Devils did it with Laettner and Hill. The Detroit Redwings did it with Steve Yzerman.

Back to Back.

Normally I don’t enjoy these back to back championship people. I’m all about spreading the wealth. However today … today I was celebrating a huge victory in The Guat Household — a back to back champion, and no I’m not referring to my high school days where my yearbook claims my baller skills lead my team to victory. Yeah I was a baller back then, but I was also skinnier and more sprightly.

No. This back to back champion stands at 42 inches tall and weighing in at 34 pounds.

He is my Abdul-Jabbar, my Russell, my Montana, my Jeter, my Laettner, my Yzerman. He is my son … The Little Guat. Reigning Tiny Tots Back to Back Golf Champion. Winner of the elusive green I-Got-Skills shirt.

My Little Champion Season 2

My Little Champion Season 1

The summer season was a little different. A different coach, a different group, a different feel. Not too many words of the week, but plenty of lessons in character and funny moments.

This season the class was a little crowded with plenty of energetic future US Open Winners.

The Young Golf Posse

However I’ll have to admit that there were two crazy parents that would fit right in with the beauty pageant parent circuit. Needless to say that when the coach decided to divide the class into two groups so that the championship challenge rounds and classes would go faster and be more one-on-one, we volunteered immediately for the earlier session, as did a few others. Smart people think alike.

Group A waiting to play hole #1

We began the golf challenges by playing the first hole, where my son whacked the crap out of the grass and the ball to land on the green. This would have been pretty impressive by itself, but considering the obstacle it was amazing. For a little extra challenge, the sprinklers began popping up and watering various parts of the grass. My son’s golf ball decided to rip passed the water in front of him and find itself on the green. He did a victory run through the sprinklers as did the other kids, because apparently that’s how four-year old golfers roll. I did my little woo-hoo, skipped the sprinklers, and smiled as we headed to the second hole for the chipping challenge.

My son focused as any four-year old could be with  championship M&Ms awaiting all golfers at the end.

My son running after his golf balls, one of which landed in the inner circle.

This time around the chipping challenge wasn’t his WOW moment as it had been during the spring season.  But he managed to swing away, slinging mud and grass everywhere, and land within putting distance.

Then came the dreaded putting challenge. The most mental part of the game, where you really need your kid to focus, however he remained completely interested in the rollie-pollies hanging around the course. But despite his rollie-pollie enthusiasm, this happened to be the WOW moment the earned him the green shirt.

The Putting Challenge

My son jumping with excitement as he birdied the hole.

He had two opportunities to rack up points here . Usually it takes three to four strokes for my little man to put the ball in the hole. The average for the class is four. My son happened to do it in two. Two! And not once, but twice. Twice! So I knew it wasn’t a fluke. Each kid had three balls and they needed to play two out of three. One landed in the circle, about a foot away from the hole, the other two landed on the outer rim of the circle. He was asked to play the outer rim balls and he scored. Two strokes, two birdies, two woo-hoos from mom, and two smiles in The Guat family. High-fives all around, no sprinklers.

The Driving Range Challenge

Last but not least was the driving range challenge, where all he had to do was get it over the little gorge. He was up last and despite the other kids spinning around in circles, pretending to be superheroes, he managed to swing away and reach the other side.

After tallying the points my little Guat ended up in first.

In truth I was a little surprised that he won again. That’s a pretty crappy thing to say as a mom. But kids are unpredictable and I wasn’t sure he would do the back to back thing. Golf is not easy, especially when rollie-pollies and superheroes are involved. But my little dude earned the coveted green shirt — The green I Got Skills Shirt for the second time in a row, and I hugged him proudly.

Although once again he was pretty excited about the championship candy, this time being M&Ms. After being handed his shirt, a sleeve of Titleist golf balls, and a bag of M&Ms, he held the packet up high and said:

“YES! Mom. YES! I got my M&Ms.”

But seeing how he was a back-to-back champion, I thought he needed more than just M&Ms.

His championship reward at Baskin-Robbins a.k.a 31 Flavors.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

11 Sep

 

 

Tikal, Guatemala

 

Near and Far.

After the crazy turbulent mini plane ride where you  almost died, you thank God when you land on the jungle floor and the mosquito attacks you.

You enter the plaza and see it. It’s majestic.

You can’t believe your people built this, and it takes you ages to build something with Legos.

You walk to the base. It’s there. You’re close. You’re near.

And then you look at the steps. You look at the top.

It’s 125 feet tall.

Far.

You take a breath, a bottle of water, and are thankful that you wore deodorant.

Near and Far.