Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Hate Kristi Yamaguchi

I don’t really hate Kristi Yamaguchi. Nobody can possibly hate Kristi Yamaguchi. She’s adorable. Kristi Yamaguchi is everything I’m not. She’s sweet, cute, composed, professional - in addition to being an Olympic athlete. She is also unbelievably polite. I have personal knowledge of exactly how polite Kristi Yamaguchi is. I do not hate Kristi Yamaguchi. But those words still scream through my head every time I see her image on TV.

During the winter Olympics this year I saw historical clips of Kristi Yamaguchi as well as other Olympic ice skaters from my era.  My daughter Erika watched the Olympics with me and every time Kristi Yamaguchi came on the screen I’d point to the TV and say, “You met her. You met Kristi Yamaguchi. How cool is that?”

“Cool,” my daughter would agree. She meant it. I mean, Kristi Yamaguchi really is adorable. Who wouldn’t want to meet her? Seriously. But my daughter doesn’t remember the whole story of the day she met Kristi Yamaguchi.

It was during a holiday promotional event in San Francisco at an ice rink. We were attending with another family, close friends of ours. Our daughters were both about four at the time. We laced the ice skates firmly onto their little feet and forced the dads to go out on the ice with them.

After a couple of hours of festivities and hot cocoa, Kristi Yamaguchi made an appearance and a number of kids swarmed her asking her to pose for photos with them. Parents were snapping away. My friend Peggy and I got caught up in the frenzy. “It’s Kristi Yamaguchi,” we told our kids excitedly. “Go stand by her so we can get a photo.”

My daughter responded to my nudging and started to shyly move forward. Kristi Yamaguchi gave her a kind smile and waved her over. I noticed Peggy nudging her daughter over as well. Juju wouldn’t budge.

“It’s Kristi Yamaguchi. Let’s get a photo. Come on,” Peggy pleaded.

“No.” Juju was a master at resistance. It was a trait I usually admired in her. Not so much on that day.

“Please. Come on, it’s Kristi Yamaguchi.” Peggy tugged Juju’s hand, pulling her in the direction of the lovely ice-skating queen.  She was only about ten feet away. So close. Her skin was perfect.

My daughter stood between her friend and Kristi, wavering uncertainly. Kristi Yamaguchi hadn’t yet noticed the unwilling child we were trying to negotiate with.

I crouched in front of Juju and tried. “It’s Kristi Yamaguchi. Kristi Yamaguchi,” I repeated. Juju glared at Kristi and still wouldn’t move. She did not have a clue who this Kristi Yamaguchi was, only that she was the source of her own personal inconvenience and her mom’s insanity. There was no way to explain our reasoning to a tired four-year-old jacked up on hot chocolate and cookies. But we wanted the photo. We wanted it bad.

Peggy lifted Juju by her armpits. She was a forty pounds, max, and on ice skates. The kid didn’t have a chance. We were going to get our photo. Just one little photo. No harm, right?

Peggy carried her a few feet. Juju arched her back and resisted. Peggy set her down and paused, and then lifted her again. That’s when Juju started screaming. It was not the normal four-year-old tantrum stuff. Juju was smarter than that. She screamed, “I HATE KRISTI YAMAGUCHI!”

The name came out as one word KRISTIYAMAGUCHI. As if KRISTIYAMAGUCHI was some sort of genetically engineered type of Brussels sprouts with double the bad taste. (My apologies if you like Brussels sprouts. I don’t.)

Peggy and I looked at each other, horrified. One glance at Kristi Yamaguchi, and we could see she might not have noticed. But Juju wasn’t done.

“I HATE KRISTI YAMAGUCHI!” she screamed louder. Then she began repeating the phrase, over and over. "I HATE KRISTI YAMAGUCHI. I HATE KRISTI YAMAGUCHI. I HATE KRISTI YAMAGUCHI." 

I took a few steps back, deciding not to be associated with the scene. Parents  turned to stare. Toddlers in their festive holiday scarves and hats stood and watched. Little ice-skating prodigies in glittery attire and perfect white skates gaped as their idol was verbally assaulted.

Peggy was on her knees begging Juju to stop. But she wouldn’t. Of course she wouldn’t. Juju’s voice carried across the rink, “I HATE KRISTI YAMAGUCHI!” 

I watched Kristi Yamaguchi’s face as the realization of what Juju was screaming sunk in. Still, the sweet smile didn’t slip. The only indication she’d heard the awful phrase was the concerned knit of her brows and wary glance at us parents.  I knew she thought we were bad, psycho parents. We didn’t care. The damage was done. We were still going to get our photo.

And we did get our photo. After a few minutes of I HATE KRISTI YAMAGUCHI, Juju finally calmed down. Peggy thought of some sort of appropriate bribe, though I don’t remember exactly what it was. And Kristi Yamaguchi, smiling into the camera, stood politely with our children while Peggy clicked away. The woman deserved a medal for her performance that night. She remained poised and kind while being heckled by a four-year-old. I’m pretty sure she hated us. But we did get our photo.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t notice if my house was occupied by a poltergeist. Haunting my family would be a frustrating experience. I actually feel sorry for any spooky creature that tries to mess with us. On any given day I am either 1. Too tired to notice or 2. Too tired to give a shit. I have a thirteen-year-old mischievous boy I am trying to parent without violence. It takes a lot to get a rise out of me.

With the Halloween season upon us, my television is inundated with programs detailing horrifying accounts of based-on-true stories of ghostly happenings. Instead of watching these shows and being scared, I am left with a sickening realization. I am a mediocre host to the living, but to the dead I must be a nightmare. If I woke every morning to wide-open cabinet doors in my kitchen, moved car keys, and lights mysteriously turned on – I would be oblivious. I live with two teenagers. Shit like that happens all fucking day and most nights. If I paused to analyze who-did-what and Why are these people torturing me? I would have fled this spooky house long ago.

If you ask me, haunted houses on TV really don’t deviate from the norm. Weird sticky substances oozing from the walls freak you out? Move on, bleach cleaner and disposable wipes will take care of that problem. Pet cemetery? Been there, done that. Fluffy is buried two feet under and isn’t going anywhere. Lately, I’ve even stopped having pet funerals. Now I tell the kids I buried their pet under the tree in the backyard when I really just dumped their beloved animal’s carcass into a plastic grocery bag, knotted it, and shoved it to the bottom of the garbage can.
Are you kidding me? Now this just pisses me off (no pun intended).

Who doesn’t have an occasional disruption in the electromagnetic field of their home? Yes, our electronic devices act strange. But I’m pretty sure it has to do more with the fact that tech gadgets in my home are regularly dropped in the toilet and are fed a steady diet of spilled caffeinated beverages.  My printer often springs to life with unprovoked grunting noises. Don’t be alarmed. I attribute the unexplained behavior to its primary use as a very functional, yet expensive, cat bed. Just be warned, nothing that enters this house leaves without first undergoing some sort of metaphysical change. By the way, as seen in the photo, one of our cats peed on the printer while I was writing this. Now that is spooky.

Let me tell you about the shit that happens when I’m not home. Unfortunately, we do not have hidden cameras in my house. I wish we did, but not because I want to document a poltergeist. If I had recorded last Tuesday, for example, I’d fast-forward past anything supernatural and skip to the part where our morbidly obese cat Patches fell through the top of the bearded dragon lizard tank.

How do I know this happened if I wasn’t there? No, I’m not psychic. Nor did I consult a spiritual advisor from another realm. Scientific evidence. I came home to a busted screen on the top of the tank. This also happens to be Patches’ favorite nap spot. There were tufts of cat hair stuck to the inside walls of the tank. The lizard was jacked up and pacing (but fortunately had not escaped). The cat was nowhere. Later she mysteriously reappeared, behaving a bit more neurotic than usual.

I feel cheated out of what would have certainly been a viral video. I’d much rather watch a fifteen pound feline get beat up by a lizard in a glass tank, than say, watch a floating light orb bob across a room or a ghostly face appear in a doorway. I’m just saying. A measly ghostly apparition can’t hold a candle, séance or otherwise, to my real life series of strange events.

I do have some advice to any spooky visitors. Gosh, I just hate being a bad host. If you want to get my attention – try cleaning something around here. Do the dishes. Feed the damn cats.  Feel free to lift, spin, and rearrange the furniture while sweeping. Just please note: If one more creature, dead or alive, leaves their shoes in the middle of the hallway in an attempt to trip me while I’m blindly hauling a towering load of laundry across the house, be afraid. Be very afraid. I’m coming for you.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's Just a Cow Eyeball (not even a whole one, sheesh)

I’ve been informed that the iris (eyeball iris, not flower iris) is a muscle. My son, twelve, came home from school with his very own cow iris and cornea. It was a trophy from his science class dissection of a cow eyeball. My son is not squeamish. He takes after me in that respect, I like to think. He held it in his bare hands. He was really, really, excited. And a little disappointed that his lab partner got to keep the lens, having won it after a round of rock-paper-scissors. The lens is see-through and can magnify stuff. Way cool.

The dried out cow iris, over an inch in diameter, was placed on the kitchen counter while my son went into a detailed explanation of how it was acquired. Did you know one of the differences between cow irises and human irises is that cow irises are oval in shape where human irises are round? Now you know. Another eyeball difference is that cows have fewer eyeball muscles, giving the eye a more limited range of movement. That is why cows have to turn their heads back and forth to look around. (My son gave me a visual demonstration of this. The fact that he is almost 13 and he can still look cute imitating a cow is a testament to his charm.)

I was impressed with the extensive scientific vocabulary he was using. I was not so enamored with his description involving some sort of black substance that gushed out of the eye during the dissection. My son went on to inform me that “icky black liquid” (my term) should technically be referred to as the aqueous humour. That was the moment my husband walked into the kitchen, saw the eyeball piece on the counter and screamed like a girl. I guess he had already been debriefed on cow eyeball dissection terms earlier that day.

Now, when I use the phrase “screamed like a girl” I am referring to the nonsexist version of the phrase. I’m just saying his scream was high-pitched. I’m a girl - my voice is slightly higher pitched than most grown dudes’. Though, I wasn’t screaming. I think that’s pretty normal under the circumstances. Just because my husband is half Italian and the phrase like a girl has a different meaning to his machismo inner-self. Well, that’s just gravy.

He also danced around yelling “Not in the kitchen! Not in the kitchen! I already told you, not in the kitchen!” My son and I stared at him. I won’t tell you whose side I was on, but let’s just say it wasn’t my husband’s. I had a sudden desire to buy him a Big Bang Theory BAZINGA T-shirt off Amazon and punch him in the forehead. He should know better than to mess with the resident science geeks.

“It’s on a napkin,” boy child explained calmly.
“Don’t worry, I won’t accidentally throw it in the stir fry,” I said soothingly. 
Neither of us was able to achieve the hoped-for rational response from my spouse. He really was squeamish. Like, totally grossed out. I resisted the urge to chase him through the house with the eyeball piece. I’m the middle of five kids. Yes, I’m fully grown, but those types of impulses don’t just go away with age. People don’t give me enough credit for the self-control I exhibit on a daily basis. Not near enough credit.

Instead, my son had to removed the eyeball piece from the kitchen. It’s now on my dining table. I’m not sure if I should technically call it a centerpiece or a cat toy. My husband hasn’t figured out where it went yet. But I’m sure we’ll all know the exact moment he finds it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

It's Probably Worth Mentioning

I am not dead. I thought I’d mention that just in case you were wondering, I mean, if you are the type of person who wonders about that sort of thing. I’m that type of person. If I don’t hear from someone, I think, hmm, maybe they’re dead - especially if they’ve been blogging about medical problems. Yeah, makes perfect sense. I Google their name paired with the word “obit” and, if I know the city they live in, I Google that as well. Usually an hour later, after reading about all the dead people who share the same name but live oddly different lives at oddly different ages, I am able to move on with my day - just slightly more depressed. The upside of my dead people research is that most of the time the person that I thought was dead wasn’t dead at all. Like me. As I mentioned, I am not dead. Yay me.

Actually, I’ve been novel writing. I wrote over 136,000 words in three months. I know word count has no meaning to non-writers. I’ve been explaining to those who have inquired about my writing activities and then look at me blankly when I excitedly tell them my word count, that the first Harry Potter book has 76,944 words and Twilight has 118,502. And then they look at me and ask or imply one of two questions – so I’ll answer both of them now. No, the book I just wrote is not a book intended for kids or teens, but for grown-ups, and is nothing like those two books I just mentioned so I am not comparing my work to those books. And yes, I do read literary books, so stop giving me that snobby stare because the words “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” just came out of my mouth as a point of reference. I like kidlit and I’m proud. And who are you to judge? I just wrote 136,000 words. Ha.

Not that word count is any indication of quality writing. I’ve written a few lengthy manuscripts and have actually disliked my finished product. I didn’t even bother revising those projects. They were my practice novels. Or pre-novels. As far as my current project goes, I love my characters, I love the story, and I loved writing it. I’ll be starting my fourth revision soon. So, regardless of whether or not anyone else likes what I’ve written, it has been an exciting and worthwhile few months.

Because I’ve been fanatically writing 10-15 hours per day for months on end, I’ve given my family a slight taste of what it would be like if I were dead. I’ve regularly skipped out on cleaning dirty dishes. The crew has eaten an appallingly large amount of “quick and easy” dinners off of paper plates. These meals usually involve a can opener and microwave and can be complete in less than five minutes. Menu items include: bean & cheese burritos, chili nachos, anything cheese can be melted on.  There goes my future cookbook project; I just gave away all my good stuff. For free. Enjoy. I hope you like cheese.

Sorry, I've been punchy lately, possibly even annoying. I've been sleep deprived, my eyeballs are dried out and bloodshot, and I can barely carry a conversation without embarrassing myself. I'm pretty sure the carpool moms think I've been on a major drinking binge. My family has been strangely supportive. Or they're afraid of me. Perhaps it's a combination of both. Smart family.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What Not to Do

If you are considering nominating me for a What Not to Wear episode, stop right there. Don’t. And I mean it. Any self-improvement reality TV show is off limits. Please don’t try and organize me or make me over. It’s just not going to help. And I really am not in the mood to hear Stacy and Clinton make fun of my stretchy jeans on national TV.

I have a recurring nightmare where a TV crew pulls up in my driveway and starts filming me… or the inside of my house… or worse the inside of my refrigerator… or even worse the state of my garage (best suited for one of the hoarding shows).

What am I afraid of? There are no dead bodies in my basement. Actually, I don’t even have a basement. I do have a variety of pet rabbits and hamsters buried under a tree in my backyard.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a nice little home. It just gets crunchy at times. I’m not sure exactly what the kids and animals have tracked over my floors, but I don’t think this is what Architectural Digest endorses when they feature glossy pages of "indoor-outdoor living" house photos. I love that magazine.

Surprise reality TV is not for me. America does not need to know that I keep most of my clothes in a giant basket crammed on a shelf in my closet. (Okay, fine, now you know.) Or that it is probably unsafe to eat any of the condiments on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator. And that no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to find a nail color that doesn’t make me look like a hooker or a dead body. Perhaps I should mix them and name my own nail polish “dead hooker”. (Fashion tip: Don’t buy blue polish, unless you want to look dead. It can be quite a shock if you forget and wake up the next morning to cold feet with blue nails peeking out at you from the covers.)

I have my most paranoid moments when I pull on my battered sweat pants, throw my hair in a pony, and run to the market to buy twelve heads of broccoli for my newest diet. On those days, I give a shifty-eyed glance up and down my street for any sign of a TV van or camera crew before I dash to my car. Store employees are scanned for hidden cameras. Of course, I usually run into a well-groomed school mom –uh-hem- you know,  the PTA president sort, whose nails are perfectly manicured and not the least bit hookerish or dead bodyish looking.

For those who find me fashion-challenged, or at the very least unsophisticated - news flash: I do own mirrors. I get it. If you want to buy me new clothes, organize my silverware drawer, or redesign my house, please feel free to do so. Just don’t put all my belongings on the front lawn in specially marked piles for the neighbors to see. And please call first.