My Parents Went To LA And All I Got Was This Stupid Blog Post

So I've been out of town this week on business, and shut up. No one is laughing harder at that statement than I am. I mean, really, people....the only 'business' I am qualified to conduct is more along the lines of this business, and by qualified, I simply mean I've seen it done on the internet a few times and imagine that I can learn by example. Like crafting the perfect rap video.

I was supposed to go have dinner with The Queen of Spain while I was in town, but it turns out that when you say "I live in LA", that's about as specific as saying, "Oh, I'm right down the road from the Milky Way" and my house is closer to the hotel I stayed in than Erin's is. And Little Miss "I'm too enlightened for credit cards" can't exactly rent a car, so yeah, that didn't happen.


I did get to go have dinner with a few close friends while I was away, and the best thing about having kids is that at some point in your life, all your friends have kids, too, so when you go to dinner with them you get to spend an entire evening teaching those kids how to get the plastic lids off off their kids cup and once they've got that down, you can teach them how to blow really huge totally awesome milk bubble towers with their bendy straws and the only downside of that is that you have to suck all the bubbles up from out of their cup before they all fall in your lap because you don't exactly have any other clean jeans for the next day and you just realized that you're fairly certain your dairy allergy has decided to host a revival right in the lining of your intestines and oh my god your stomach. Maybe milk bubbles over the first Mexican food you've had in two years isn't the smartest idea you've ever had. But at least you had a really big hotel bed with tragically fluffy blankets all to yourself to trap the toxic fumes away under, all night long.


Until, of course, you roll over and *whoops* let the air escape from under the blankets. One of my eyeballs actually melted right out of its socket that night.

And then the next day that little girl recorded me a note that just said, "Thank you for blowing milk bubbles with me, tante. I miss you." I seriously doubt her parents echo that sentiment. The fact that I told her she could steal all of Jesus' rocks didn't help either, I'm sure, but that's a story for another day.

All in all, the trip was a success. I pulled off Professional Shannon as well as I could have hoped to, and they even let me sit in a board meeting. And talk. I don't even know who I am anymore. I learned a lot about the job I've been pretending to do for 6 months now, which just means I have to stop pretending and actually do it, so yeah...I screwed myself. Whatever; I can learn how to do that on the internet, too. I learned that in the modern business office, employees can communicate with each other from cubicle to cubicle, from office to office, from continent to continent, simply by logging in to Windows Messenger. I learned this by asking a guy named Tony who was trying to teach me something very important to my job, "Hey, are you im'ing other employees?" He so totally looked at me like I was on crack, or from Canada, and said, "Um...yes?" And that's when I realized that the last time I worked in an office, there was no internet.

And then I took a Geritol and got on with the rest of my work day.

I got everything done I'd hoped to for work, and came home with enough new projects to keep me from blogging for years, so sorry about that but they're paying me and you're not. And I just realized I like shoes. To excess. I didn't get to do a few things I'd have liked to personally, partly because holy shit was I ever busy, but mostly because of this guy.

Almost famous. But not quite enough.

I saw him in the holding pen at the gate for my departing flight. He had bright red sneakers on and he kept looking at me, probably because I kept looking at him thinking, "Oh, shit, did I sleep with that guy?" because every time I see someone I know but I can't place, I take 3 seconds where I'm all ohmygod did I sleep with him and forget?, which is only funny because yeah, never done that actually. That I can remember. Anyway, I couldn't figure out where I knew him from and then the woman sitting right across from me kind of twitched her head in his direction and mouthed, "Is that who I think it is?" and I thought, "Oh, fuck, did I sleep with both of them and I forgot?" but yeah, see 62 words back.

That's about when I realized he was a celebrity, and he was wearing brightly colored footwear, and that I was hosed. I don't exactly have a great track record with flying, especially when oddly dressed famous people insert themselves into the equation, but I was at the gate, I had my passport, and we were 10 minutes from boarding. I'd make it through the critical stages of my trip and figured I'd gotten lucky this time. Famous last words.

Five minutes after we were supposed to board, they said that something broke on the plane. Not, we're having mechanical problems or we ran out of mixed nuts packets but Something Fucking Broke on the plane that is supposed to hurl us through the atmosphere at decently fast speeds. They said to sit tight for 30 minutes while they figured it out.

45 minutes later, they asked us to move to the next gate down. Which had no plane at the end of the jetway. They said it would be "about an hour", and I said Fuck It and went to Burger King. Because everyone knows what "about an hour" means in airportese and it's not like I stood a chance in hell with the famous actor in red shoes who's name I couldn't remember (and still can't), or even one movie he's been in (and STILL can't) anyway, so why not, really? Extra mayo, please.
I don't know what time it was when we got on the plane, or when we landed in Los Angeles, because I'm too cheap to go to Walmart and buy a watch and the last time I flew, the airplane ate my cell phone, so I never know what time it is anymore, but it was way after when I was supposed to get there and the only thing I needed more than a drink by that point was anything but Burger King, so I went to the first place I found to eat. Which was Marie Callendar's.

And then I took another Geritol and had a great week at a real office doing a real job and laying real mexican farts in a really cozy bed. I didn't see any real boobs, but maybe next trip.

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

I am a cursed woman. I've lost every cell phone I've ever owned, all of my cars acquire some weird, inexplicable and totally unfixable problem, like, oh, having no brakes at all ever even though there are perfectly good brand new brakes on it. That happened twice, come to think of it. Or the turbo blowing up in mid-Pennsylvania when I was *this* close to the cheesesteak I'd driven two days to hunt down and eat. I've owned three computers and two of them have fallen victim to a hit and run, high speed hard drive crash. The bank machine never works for me, neither does the credit card swiper thingie at the store. The systems are always down when I'm on the phone with whichever "system" I need to be that day.

It would seem that I am a walking electromagnetic pulse that destroys technology in my wake, which would only come in handy on the Nebuchadnezzar, which I'm not, I hope, and we're not even going to begin to talk about the hamsters. Oh, the hamsters.

The hamsters aren't really all that much a surprise, though. I have an unusually disproportionate amount of houses firmly lodged in Death, which explains why I've lost count of the number of close friends and relatives I've given back to this earth in my short 34 years. You know, if you believe in that sort of thing. Which I sometimes think I just might.

Where my terrible luck balances itself out in my life, as all things must, is in my location. More specifically, my knack for picking the exactly rightly perfect place to live at any given time in my life. My first real neighbor in my first real big-girl residence? Aimee Greeblemonkey. Yeah, that did NOT suck. I loved my neighbors after that, too. Then I moved my trying-to-be-ex husband into an apartment building that I just had a really good feel about, and a few months after I stopped letting him try to be my ex husband, the kids godfather moved in. He wasn't the kids godfather then, but oh is he ever now, like it or not. Hot Gay Russell was the guy that lived next door to Hot Young Chris and we're still all one big happy Melrose Place family to this day, just that now they've started catching up with me and getting families of their own. Copycats.

When my daughter moved into my abdominal cavity and we moved into a bigger house, we lived next door to and across the street from the best two neighbors a girl could ever ask for. Not kidding. I didn't ever think I could top that street, those people, that circle of friends. And then I moved to Canada.

She was the first neighbor on the street to come say hello, and her kids were the first to extend the offer of play to mine. She was the first person to ask about me, about us, and wait for an answer. She was the first person to explain The Way Things Are here, and help me adjust to the fact that my kids could just go, and they'd be fine. When our Very Bad Awful night happened and I opened to door to let the police out, the only face I actually saw in the mob of neighbors crammed on my doorstep was hers. The only mouth I saw was hers, and the only words I heard were hers, "If you need me, I'm here."

That's all she said. A year and a half later, I saw her again. I moved back to this old house, this pocket of suburban Canada, and she's been my best friend since. Our families are unforgivably mixed up in each other now. She lends me indian spices to rub on my Christmas ham, and doesn't judge me too harshly for it. We spend our holidays together, our kids spend their weekends together, we whittle away our evening hours on the curb out front with mugs of tea and spice cake and hushed giggles that I didn't know grown women shared. She teaches me The Qur'an and tae kwon do and why CSI is so much better than CSI Miami, we debate over who the hottest guy on our street is, we compare notes on our childbirths and childhoods. She is my son's teacher and the first teacher ever to try to help me with him, not just send me home with a laundry list of character flaws. My daughter calls her Momma, and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. Her children call me Auntie, and I consider it an honor.

I swore I wasn't going to get too attached to anyone here. I still am not fully recovered from the loss of what I had to tear out and leave behind in Denver to come here, and there was no way I was going to share that gaping space in the core of my being with anyone else. And then I met her, and her family, and the whole community I tripped and fell into when the house I actually wanted to move into got rented to someone else and I had to settle, and that's when the hole in my heart started to close.

And yesterday a moving van came and took her, her couch, her tea cups, her spice racks, her children and her husband away. Because the thing with having all your cards stacked in Scorpio, which is where Death sits waiting, is that even if you don't lose them forever, you always lose them eventually. That's the way it goes with these things. And today, I don't even want to walk out my front door.

You Say Goodbye I Say Hello

If My Mother Tells Me To Stop Playing With My Latte, Does That Mean I Have To Make A Commitment?

I am continually in the process of deciding whether or not to out my Super Secret Alter Ego on this blog.  Like the other day, I was quoted in one of those big, people in Volgograd have heard of it, way over my reading level news sources but I can't tell you about it because A) they quoted me, not Mr Lady and B) they used the one and only boring, responsible line I'd rattled off during the most brilliantly witty 10 minutes I've ever spent on the phone.  And then today some other big-shit news broadcasting company had me in their studio to talk about the original quote. And how I danced and danced around whom I may or may not pretend to be on the internet with them.

Because I'm just not entirely comfortable with people reading this blog yet.

I mean, it's not like I mind you reading it. You're fantastic, and I love your shoes. And to you, I am a few black letters hammered out onto a white template with an astonishingly copyright-breaking background.  I'm a few pixels crammed together into a 4X6 space on the internet. I am a transgender myth.  I am no one. When you close your screen, I go away and I don't come back until you do.  And I like it that way. I like the total lack of commitment that keeping this blog brings with it. I can't let you down, you'll never be disappointed or shocked or outraged, not truly, because I don't exist.

And so I keep typing. Truth is, I'm still not anywhere near used to the fact that anyone but the 10 people who've always read it do. I try to not look at my stats, because I just don't need that sort of reality in my fake plastic life. I like to pretend that I'm still talking to myself, and that I am the only one listening, and that way I can just say whatever the hell I want and laugh at myself next year for being so obtuse and no one is the wiser.

But you are the wiser, aren't you? You are there, you do read this piece of crap blog and you listen and you laugh at me tomorrow, because it doesn't take you a year to see what a screw-up I am. The question is, do I want my mother in law to be the wiser? The answer is hell no. Do I want my constant daily companions, my friends and neighbors, to know all of this, this other side of me that is firmly lodged in the realm of misperception? I don't know the answer to that.

A few weeks ago, one of my neighbors got me trah-rashed and got my blog url out of me.  He is an actual, real, respectable and published author and hasn't really said whether or not he's skeeved out of his skin over my blog just yet.  He did say that you know your way around a sentence, Mr. Lady, and I think it's fairly safe to say that I've never, ever been so flattered in my whole life and also, it's so veryvery wrong that I found that statement to be ohmygodso hot. It's a character flaw; I'm working on it.

A few days ago, one of my other neighbors found me on twitter. I don't know if he was looking or not, but somehow he found me. And it turns out, he'd read my blog before he was my neighbor, he just didn't put two and two together until the whole Great Twitter Debacle of 2009. We saw each other out front yesterday, and for a fleeting moment his alter-ego saw my alter-ego and those alter-egos looked at each other like you look at the guy the morning after and wonder, "Um, name? Name, dammit, name. Also, where the fuck is my bra?"

But you know what? It was over right then, and we were back to normal. Luke and Shannon, chasing their kids, watching them play Sonic the Hedgehog together, talking about sunburns and popsicles and crap.  The world did not end. The universe did not open up and swallow me whole. My neighbors don't think any less of me, that they're admitting, and I am not quite as mortified as I'd imagined I'd be when this all started to come out.

Because I know it's going to come out eventually. I'm not an idiot. Well, not totally.

There's no reason I don't want my mother in law to read this blog. I think she might actually enjoy it, once she got over the fact that I've lied to her for five years about how I know this person or where I met that person or why I keep scuffling off to conferences when, last time she checked, stay at home moms didn't host nation-wide conferences for each other. Though they should.

My husband has told his best friend, his boss, his boss' boss, his boss, the bartender and his old girlfriend who is, in her own right, a very big deal on the internet.  And most all of them will still look me in the eye on occasion. I, however, am having a hard time reciprocating.

I'm pretty sure my own mother has already found this blog. I can't be certain, but the odds are really high. I know my little brother has found it, though he's never mentioned it to me, but he's not mentioned anything to me in 17 years, so I can't fault him too much for not delurking.  And you know what? I stopped caring. I stopped going out of my way to hide from them a few months ago, and if they read it, they read it. If it hurts my mother, well, quid pro quo, bitch. I'm still fairly certain that I don't want my father and step-mother reading it, not just yet, but I've only got so long on that one because my older brother is quite literally Mr Lady's biggest fan and he Will Not Stop linking my shit on Facebook. Hi, Karen and Ed! Really, don't read the archives. You'll disown me. Oh, wait....

I worry about my children. That is probably the most hypocritical thing I'll ever say, seeings as how I have this penchant for plastering their sweet, innocent faces all over the internet, but it's true, and maybe because of that. I could tell you my last name and my real location and that probably wouldn't affect me too much, but then I'm telling you their last names and real locations and that certainly does affect the shizznit out of them. They don't have a blog, they didn't ask for this, and is it really in my right to hand them over to the internet that way?

Or is that the world's greatest excuse for being a big fat chicken shit who likes to hide behind avatars?

Because the truth of the matter is that, while Mr Lady is loud and assertive and unabashed, Shannon is quiet and cripplingly shy and demure and she really, really enjoys her privacy. Hell, it took her three years to tell her spouse she had a blog, at all. And they, she and I, we? Are two completely different people. Fortunately, I'm just crazy enough to be able to compartmentalize these two facets of my existence and play one roll when need be, then switch back to the other personality when it's time. Systemic childhood abuse? Blogger Prep School.

So I have all of this swirling around in my head this morning at butt-fuck o'clock this morning and I swing into Starbucks so I can, well, exist, and I put the orange mocha frappuccino they hand me into the cup-holder and lo and behold, this is what glared back at me the entire drive home:

Anne Morriss Just Kicked My Ass

That says:
The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to the rest of your life.

And then is says it again in French. I got bitch slapped in two different languages, for the lowlow price of $4.95 + GST, PST, and the carbon tax, and I'm still not quite awake yet.

But I am in the Wall Street Journal and on CBC's radio show and webpage. And that's as close to this closet door as I'm able to come today. Now please excuse me; I have to go throw up.

Or Maybe I Just Suck

Today, my husband and I fought in front of our children for the first time ever.


Like, in 11 and a half years ever.

I don't mean to say that we don't ever fight because god knows we do. If you've ever dared to dip your toes in the murky waters that are my archives, you'll know what I mean. And Christ, I met him when I was twenty. I've gone through no less than 10 variations of myself between then and now, and so has he. Our shit, it is hard sometimes. But coming from two spilt families, me with my history of domestic assault and him with his abandonment baggage, we've worked really hard to keep our crap between us.  Sure, we fight, but we don't do it often and when we do, it's over as soon as it starts.

Usually, I will start being an insane asshole and he'll tell me to go take a five minute walk and sort it out. Or he'll open a big, fat can of jerkface and I'll tell him to check it before I am forced to wreck it and that ends it. We're actually really good at mitigating each others mood-swings, and because of that, our kids have never once born witness to anything more than a long scowl or a stern, "Other room, NOW."

It would seem that my Mercury was firmly lodged in his Uranus today or something, because while I was trying to get 2of3 to clean the damn bathroom, he decided that at that very second, 2of3 needed to take the vacuum to his brother. And I was so sick and tired of trying to get that kid upstairs to the bathroom, I told him no. And The Donor told him yes. So I told The Donor no, and he told me to fuck off and I told him to shove it up his ass and the threw the vacuum and I told him to get the fuck out.

Because we're five, that's why.

Meanwhile, my nine year old was just standing there watching this whole parade of lunacy unfold before him and as soon as dad walked out of the room, he started to cry.

Because we're fantastic parents, that's why.

And he told me he was scared, and I held him and told him that he fights worse than that with his brother every day and reminded him that I am a pain in the ass and his dad is an overbearing know-it-all and we've lived together for 14 long, long years and told him that of course we fight sometimes.

And now I don't know if I'm sad that my kid had to see us acting like three year olds or if I'm secretly a little glad that he witnesses an argument that resolved itself within ten minutes with a big hug and two unprompted and very sincere apologies that I made sure happened right in front of that kid and then ice cream, because ice cream cures all evils. Am I wrong to think that I should be teaching him that it's okay to have conflicts and that the world doesn't end when you have them? Because I lived thirty years thinking one raised voice meant the End Of Civilization as we know it, and I never learned how to fight and get over it until I had to learn the hard way.

There's really no point to this at all. I just worry sometimes that they think their parent's marriage is the perfect, happy go lucky thing and because of that, when their time comes, they will have no clue how to deal with the reality of marriage and the reality of marriage is that bitches, on occasion, be crazy, and you love them through it anyway.


In The Land Of Milk And Oprah

A cautionary tale of love in the time of methadone

You can make a bomb out of any old thing you’ve got lying around the house, really, so long as you’re bored enough and have the right teachers in school.  Like my ½ of 11th grade chemistry teacher, who was my older brother’s full-year grade 11 chemistry teacher, who actually was such an brilliant fucking genius that he was compelled to teach a depressed, bored, impoverished and abused adolescent how to make exactly such a kitchen-sink bomb, and that adolescent went on, ironically enough, to just about blow the entire damn kitchen up one day with a dollar bill, a splash of rubbing alcohol and some ovaltine.

That very teacher also supplied my brother with an impressive stash of contemporary art magazines, highlighting the wonders of the female form and calling into question everything we know about physics and the elasticity of the human ligaments.  That fact came to light after one over-zealous younger brother dared to traverse the dark abyss that was our attic, distracted only momentarily by the 'Red Hots Candies Trap' cleverly laid out at the entrance to said attic, and by Red Hots candy I, of course, mean 'Huge Fucking Pile Of Sudafed'.  Said little brother came to eventually and ratted his brother out.  Dirty, drugged out snitch.

This information is quite important to keep in the back of your head before you travel. Especially on a budget. Because you just never know when someone is going to give you credit for being a whole lot smarter than you are and totally fuck you in the process.

Like if, say, you're coming home from a long weekend away from the family and you decide to go with your two best friends in blog out sightseeing and to pick up some trinkets for the family.

There Was No Way We Could Have Resisted

And you get so lucky as to find your way into Trader Joe's for the first time in your life, and you see the Mecca of Wine Racks that you've waited five years to see, ever since one night on an apartment stoop with an unforgivably cute boy who first introduced you to Chuck and his $2 glory

And The Clouds Parted....

And so you pick up a bottle for old times sake and then grab a 6 pack of DogFish Head which is brewed in Milton, Delaware, so no one carries it but Trader Joe's does and then you stop at Walgreens to get your kids their snow-globes. Because every time you travel, you get your kids snow globes. It's an important tradition, like forcing unsuspecting men to take numerous photographs with you against their will. Or circumcision.

Oh, Wait, There He Is....

So you gather yea rosebuds and American booze and inexpensive tokens of your everlasting love and devotion and head to your airport of choice to fly home, this time bearing only photocopies of your immigration papers because Canada knew something you didn't and tried to tell you to stay home, but you never listen, even when it sends Donald Sutherland to tell you for it.

In Case There's Any Confusion

And then you get to the airport, late, because, well, nature called.

A Thing Of Beauty

That counts as nature, right? You get there late and the machine won't let you check in at the kiosk so the very tall and disinterested in you entirely airport attendant asks you to see the lady behind the desk, but the lady behind the desk doesn't want to see you, so she doesn't. For a really long time. Like, excessively long. And then she finally takes your $20 and lets you check in, and THEN she tells you your bag is overweight. And you're totally going to miss your flight. So you take out the fastest, heaviest items and she slides your bag through and as you try to re-pack them in your carry on you realize that Two Buck Chuck and DogFish head are both made of liquid and shit, you're hosed. So you give the attendant your booze and wish her a happy day. And then you cry.

But you still have your kids presents, right? Right. Until you go through security and you totally get The Dreaded Bag Inspection and the guy comes up to you and says, "Ma'am, we have a problem." And oh, how the tears begin to flow. Because he called you MA'AM and you're thirtyfuckingfour for Christ's sake, but whatever. He'd totally hit it. And that's when he tells you that
Snow globes cannot, for any reason, come through security, because we have no way of knowing what's in them.

And you think, um, well, Chicago is in those, moron, but you're so over it that you, between poorly suppressed sniffles, say, "Oh, just take them already." And then the security dude, thinking that maybe he has a chance or something, says,
I'll make you a deal. I'll keep the big ones, and you can have the little one.

Which does you a fat lot of good, seeing how you have THREE kids, but whatever, and what, are you saying I can blow something up a little bit? Grrr. So you take your one little non-threatening snow-globe and you go to replace the gifts. With $20. For two kids and a spouse. And you don't have more than $20 because in Canada, you can only withdraw so much currency in one day or they lock your account and you had to pay for a hotel room and a cab ride and lunch and makeup (because you totally thought you'd done so well budgeting and shit, yo) (also, NORDSTROMS) and you couldn't take out any more. At all. Period.

So you go home to your children with the 2 for $20 t-shirts they had at the Hudson News store that are not only hideous, they're the size of Shaq, and nothing more than empty promises of laundry folding and blow jobs for your spouse, when in reality you won't fold laundry for at least another month and as for the other thing, yeah, you're spent.

Getting Crazy With The Cheese Whiz

But the kids love the shirts anyway and your husband loves that you thought enough about his feelings to lie through your damn teeth about sex and housework just to make him feel better and even though you lost your phone and your really good makeup brushes on the airplane so you can't even use the new Trish McEvoy compact you've waited TWO YEARS to buy, you didn't lose your BlogHer swag bag and guess what? Fuck the naysayers; that shit saved my ASS.

Ms. Potato Head

Neener, neener, indeed.