Am I Really Me?

The latest craze is DNA testing to know where you came from. There are a slew of online companies happy to do it for a swab of spit and a fee. Several of my colleagues at work have done it.

Some have been delighted with the results, others not so much. For them their family tree didn’t match who they thought they were. Image result for dna tests

“I think I’m adopted,” one of them said to me this week. He’s now making inquiries with relatives to see if they had lied to him to all his life. This is a family disruption on the grandest scale.

My question is, are the results accurate? I can just imagine the warehouses of desks, testing equipment and computers for workers making minimum wage who have been entrusted with your spit. I think your relatives are more trustworthy, that is if they can be counted on to speak the truth.

I haven’t succumbed yet. I’m happy to stay oblivious and believe I am who I am. Besides, what if I found out I’ve been living a fake identity? That I have more Inuit blood in me than I could ever imagine and that my love of Indian food is because…you guessed it.

Calvin says, “Who cares? It’s another form of entertainment to get you off course from your real purpose in life.”

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Bring Out the Tamales

IMG_9279What is it about holiday parties that they always seem the same? I’ve hosted hundreds of them, attended even more, and every one of them is a replica of years past. The dinner whether served buffet style or delivered to the table, is usually the same fare – the requisite ham, turkey, and green bean casserole. I know some of you love all this tradition, but I don’t. I want to bring out the chicken smothered in mole sauce with a garnish of pomegranate seeds. Or a steaming hot bowl of pho with hard boiled egg, thin slices beef and mint leaves. I know. The kids would go “Eeu!” and grandma would roll her eyes and keel over. Mention Christmas and your taste buds come scrambling into your mouth, all jostling for position to be first in line for tradition.

Did you know that smell is the strongest sense we have? We can lose our eyesight, our taste buds can go south, touch is no longer accurate, and sound, well, don’t get me started. Smell, on the other hand, can take you back to your childhood when you came running into your mother’s kitchen to snatch a slice of freshly baked bread slathered with rich butter. Or it can remind you of your first glass of pink champagne when you breathed in the bubbles and they raced up your nose and made you sneeze like crazy, or when you got a whiff of a gardenia bush on a hot summer night letting off it’s sweet, sultry fragrance.

I’d like to start some new traditions that include not only exotic culinary delights, but aromas that would provide us with a new library of memories that would lead us into the future. Like smoked, crushed chiles, Spanish saffron, spicy chocolate, and star anise.

Calvin says, “Yep, smell is my obsession. I’m intoxicated by fox droppings.” beagle

 

Pop! Goes the Bubble

On my subway ride into work this morning, two techies sat behind me. It turned out they were friends from a former company and they began to catch-up.

The talker worked in sales. The other must have been a programmer. He was quieter.

The talker recounted his recent trip to Vegas with his boss. They played and drank and crashed a club with a bachelorette party they met at an expensive restaurant. The talker flirted with the women, but nothing came of it.

Then the topic switched to money and salaries and wives and children. Wives? What’s this talker doing in Vegas playing with girls at a club? From the conversation, both men were frustrated by their wives. The quieter one didn’t appreciate his wife’s online spending habits.

“Every day a new package shows up at the front door,” he said.

“Tell your wife to get a job,” the talker said.

“I do, but she doesn’t do anything about it,” the programmer said. “She sleeps until noon, then gets online and spends money.”

“I wouldn’t let her do that. She needs to find a real job and bring in some money,” the talker said.

Then they talked about the price of housing and how important it is to live where it’s cheap and not compete with the younger set living in the city.

“They pay $4,000 a month!” the talker said.

“For a two-bedroom condo?” the programmer asked.  Bursting bubble

“Yes! It’s crazy!”

“They must be making crazy salaries,” the programmer said.

“No, they live four to a condo, that’s how it’s done,” the talker said.

“Do you think the housing bubble will last this time?”

“Sure it will. This is Silicon Valley.”

These guys must have stepped off another planet. Or were too young to experience the housing meltdown of the early 2007’s.

And we trust these guys with our social media? Yikes!

Calvin says, “My bubble bursts all the time. Like last night when you didn’t toss me some of your steak.”  beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heights Are for the Birds

My Los Angeles sister had a birthday this week and she wanted to take a balloon ride, so her husband organized one over Temecula. It seems that region now sprouts vineyards and beautiful landscapes. So they got up at the crack of dawn to be in the basket by 6:30. They were there with several other crazy people armed with bottles of champagne and off they went like Mary Poppins. She loved it.

I would have turned green and hung my head over the side and thrown up the entire time. I do that on boats, too. Balloon

I remember years ago taking a chairlift ride over a theme park with Alf and my children. My legs dangled from the seat and there was only a minuscule handlebar keeping me in.

There was too much sky and space around me.

I couldn’t look down.

I couldn’t look up.

Either direction made my stomach flip.

I had to keep looking straight ahead and pretend this was a bad dream that I’d soon wake up from.

Then it the middle of the ride, the chair stopped. The cable made loud, crunching noises. There I was suspended between earth and sky.

I began to perspire.

My hands locked onto the handlebar.

One of my flip-flops came off and sailed into the giraffe area.  While my children squealed with delight, I was having a panic attack.

The ride resumed with a jolt and continued on forever.

I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs that I wanted off! Nobody warned me this would be hazardous to my health. So I did the next best thing – I closed my eyes, took deep breaths, and visualized strangling the owners of the park. There should be warning signs in large letters before a person gets on one of these things. How do skiers do it? I know. They’re packed into parkas and boots for protection. Me? I was in shorts and sunglasses. More in keeping with a Margarita on the ground.

Calvin says, “I love heights. I can drool and fart to my heart’s content.” beagle

 

 

How Old Are You Behaving?

“How old are you really?” my friend asked recently.

“You know my age,” I said.

“On the inside. We don’t see ourselves through the lens of our real ages,” she said.bougainvillea2

She was right.

My internal age is 17. When I lived an unfettered, idyllic life of narcissistic bliss.

I was also prone to shyness. Caught unprepared I’d blush the color of a bougainvillea.

I still do.

It can creep up on me when I least expect it.

A heat wave starts in the back of my neck, spreads to the front, then travels up my chin, nose, cheeks, and forehead. There is no controlling it. It has a power and speed all its own.

What’s worse, everybody notices and stares at the color change happening to my face. 

That’s a double embarrassment, and lasts an eon.

I want to dive under the table.

Funny. These episodes usually sprout during meals.

Maybe I should stop eating.

Calvin says, “My internal age is 1. I’m all frolic and wiggles. Take me as I am.” 

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A Serious Madness

The plan was to leave early for our drive to Oregon. Alf wanted to avoid the rush hour. I wanted to get there quickly to see the autumn leaves. Every hour that went by meant another leaf was falling to the ground and I was missing the spectacle.

We were on time with our plans until I couldn’t find my wedding ring. I looked in all the usual places. Nothing.

Time was ticking. The cars were backing up on the freeway. I could feel them.

“Do you think it went out in the clothes we donated to the Cancer Society last week?” Alf said. ring

I stopped breathing.

“I usually check all pockets,” I mumbled.

I doubled my search efforts. Every closet. The seats of furniture. Under towels in the linen closet. In shoes. Under the bed. I discovered a pair of boots there, but no ring.

Maybe I did donate it to charity.

If I did, I was going to be mature about it.

I was going to Oregon.

I would call the Cancer Society to see if they found a ring. Maybe they were holding it. People can be nice that way. Sometimes.

I wasn’t going to worry about it.

If worse came to worse, surely our homeowner’s insurance would cover it.

So we got in the car and were almost out of the city when I said, “Stop! I can’t go. This is going to ruin my vacation.”

“Mine too,” Alf said.

We turned back home.

It was now 9 a.m. Smack in the middle of rush hour.

I re-doubled my search efforts. The more I looked in all the same places the more insane I felt.

“Have you checked the clothes you packed?’ Alf said suddenly.

No, I hadn’t.

I unzipped the suitcase, pulled out two jackets – checked the pockets – nothing.

I pulled out a third jacket. There was my ring snuggled in the pocket.

Alf and I were so relieved we felt like dancing the tango in the driveway.

Calvin says, “That’s what you get when you send me off to the doggie hotel and I’m not around to sniff things out.” beagle

Dynamite Comes in Small Packages

We had lunch with friends today. A young couple with their two daughters. Alice is 5-years old and brilliant. She showed off her nail polished hands and said, “I had them done by a professional.” Then she pulled out a snowflake from her pocket, unfolded it and announced, “See how symmetrical it is?”

I want to know what they’re feeding this kid to eat.

Her father asked Alf if he’d like to babysit Alice sometime. “She cleans toilets,” he said.

“You do?” Alf said.

“Yes, I do,” Alice said. cropped-img_0446.jpg

“I have six toilets,” Alf said.

Alice’s eyes widened. “You do?”

“Yes, and they’re all around the dining room table.”

Alice pondered that.

“Well, I have two,” she said rather seriously and then broke into a smile. “You’re a lot of fun,” she said to Alf.

This kid isn’t five. She’s twenty-five in kid’s skin.

Alice reads, writes, paints, and carries on a conversation better than some adults I know.

It doesn’t hurt that her parents are brilliant, too.

Calvin says, “If parents would only realize that kids are people, too. Just like us pups. We come out of the chute fully formed. Only our ears need growing.” beagle

 

Heaps of Thanks It’s Over

Thanksgiving is over. I’m relieved.

It was a meal that didn’t live up to expectations.

The turkey tasted gamey. It should have lived.

The dressing was flat. It never made the leap from blah to wow.

The apple pie was limp and fell into a heap when on the plate.

I cancelled the mashed potatoes this year. It was already a carb fest without them, why did we need more? was my line of thinking.

Big mistake.

Never mess with tradition.

The kids complained, my husband frowned, and the dog howled.

“There’s no place for the gravy,” my son, the traditionalist said.

“The turkey is naked without it,” Alf said.

“I came for the gravy, now where do I put it?” said my friend.

“The Pilgrims didn’t make gravy,” I said.

“They didn’t make cranberry and orange relish either, and I see that on the table,” said Alf.

I was skewered. In my own kitchen.

Calvin says, “You should have consulted me. I would have told you to skip the green food and make a mountain of smashed spuds.”

Give Mom a Kick-Butting Day

Mother’s Day is just around the corner.

That horrid one day of the year when families take mom out for brunch and fuss over her with eggs Benedict and Mimosas. Then she’s returned to the daily grind and all is forgotten.

I’m sure the restaurant industry contrived the holiday to beef up their bottom line in May.

What if mom doesn’t like eggs with a last name and orange juice spiked with bubbles? Maybe she prefers her steak grilled with a heaping plateful of shoestring potatoes and a large pitcher of sangria?

And please don’t give her a cheesy card with a sappy greeting that a computer spit out last century that you found in the greeting card aisle at the supermarket next to the artificial smelling air fresheners for the house. Definitely don’t buy one of those either.

Instead, head out to the mall and buy her an all expense paid shopping spree to her favorite shoe store. Or put her on a plane to a beach somewhere. Or give her a lifetime of body massages at the Holistic Health Clinic where Mai, the masseuse will be happy to walk all over her back.

Then install the dog in the pet hotel so she doesn’t have to walk him for a month.

Hire a private chef for the rest of the year and give her a break in the kitchen.

Oh wait. The kitchen. It needs a desperate overhaul before Wolfgang can cook there.

Maybe mom has a dream she’d like to focus on for a change. Provide her with the tools she needs. Lipstick, make-up, haircut and color, liposuction, a new wardrobe.

Singing lessons? Maybe she’s always wanted to develop her voice beyond yelling at the kids.

Calvin says, “My mom never got to develop herself. I know she had a secret nobody else knew. She always wanted to be an owner.”

Conversations on the Run8

When I’m out of focus, that’s when I’m most creative.

I saw another brother Grimm. There’s a lot of them.

Do you understand why this song won’t work on American Idol? Oh yea, it’s very dark. It’s a good Swan song. A good way to go out.

Not everyone can sing and dance. That’s why we have sports.

Have you called your mother lately? Me too.

Calvin says, “Funny, I have no desire to call my birth mother. I’m happy in my adopted family. New scents to chase everyday. Especially those diapers.”