Back to Reality

The worst thing about coming home from vacation is the jet lag.

Or maybe the worst thing about coming home from vacation is going back to work.

Or maybe the worst thing about coming home from vacation is the suitcases full of dirty laundry.

Or maybe the worst thing about coming home from vacation is the eleven thousand emails and bills and voice mails that need to be sorted.

Or maybe the worst thing about coming home from vacation is the empty cupboards and the empty refrigerator and the empty gas tank and the empty wallets.

Or maybe the worst thing about coming home from vacation is the fact that you didn't put the air conditioners in the windows before you left and it was 90 degrees while you were away.

Or maybe the worst thing about coming home from vacation is the anger at the airline for royally borking things and the frustration of begging for refunds and the sadness of being so close to the ocean and In-N-Out and never visiting either.

Or maybe the worst thing about coming home from vacation is sitting next to your four-year-old on the airplane while she chatters on and on about what a great time she had and all the new friends she made while she waves goodbye to Mickey Mouse and says, over and over again, that she will see him again soon.

Bye-Bye Mickey

Or maybe the worst thing about coming home vacation is ... coming home from vacation.


By (Captain) Hook or by Crook

OK, listen: I'm just going to say RIGHT NOW that there are going to be a very large number of sternly-worded letters that are getting sent to various and sundry people when we get home. Oh, there will be detailed blog posts when everything is said and done -- the only reason why I'm not doing it now is because I AM ON VACATION, DAMMIT, and I don't want to even potentially spent any part of this weekend dealing with corporate customer service departments. Not likely, I know, because it is a holiday weekend, but still. Don't even want to take the chance. I'm going to salvage what I can, and get all nasty and indignant later.

We still haven't seen the Orange County airport because they ended up flying us into LAX, where we rented a car that so far has cost us more than all our hotel rooms combined for this trip, which is ridiculous. Nobody told us there was a "Super Shuttle" from LA to Anaheim until it was too late, and honestly, I don't know if it would have made a difference anyway, what with there being three of us and all our bags and whatnot. Suffice it to say that mistakes were most definitely made, and not by us, this time.

And remind me to tell you later about the in-flight movie! DEAR LORD. If I were not the strong and powerful snark-ass that I am, I would have thought they were trying to encourage me to kill myself.

But we're here. We have to rearrange a bunch of plans, and I'm not entirely sure how much I look forward to spending our entire time at Disneyland during what I imagine is one of the busiest times of the whole year (the Friday and Saturday or Memorial Day weekend? COME ON!), but I paid for a two-day ticket, and BY GOD we are spending as much of two days there as possible. I understand there is wine available in the park; that will probably help. And we've had some non-airport food, and a decent night's sleep, and we even got a small chance to start doing vacation-oriented things last night before bed, when we hit the hotel pool for about half an hour before we went to bed.

I dunno -- maybe this really IS the most magical place on Earth, because it sure looks to me like we're having a good time, and I know I felt a lot better once I got my feet wet. And I am determined to enjoy the rest of this trip, by hook or by crook, even if it kills me.



We spent all day yesterday -- 6½ hours -- in the airport, only to get nowhere. Weather was bad in Chicago and we had a connecting flight there, but we couldn't get in or out. Another possible option for a connection was Dallas, but they also had terrible weather, what the airline guy described as "bricks of hail" damaging aircraft. Awesome! (Not.) Our flight to from O'Hare to California was cancelled pretty early so we switched to a different flight this morning (after much rigmarole that at one point included a route that would have taken us to St. Louis, then Denver, then Portland, then Santa Ana, all with zero checked bags and a four-year-old, eventually getting in at like 2 in the morning West Coast time which would have been ... interesting, to say the least), but we kept hoping to at least get to Chicago last night, where we would have surprised my nephew with an overnight stay and some beer and maybe some Chicago-style pizza, and then left this morning.

Instead, I spent the first night of our vacation sleeping in my parents' guest room in my father's pajamas. We start all over again soon, taking the same route that was originally planned, only a few hours earlier. Well, and 24 hours later. Yes, I cried at the poor lady from the airline, who was doing her best to get us to Orange County, even though it seems like God and everybody was having trouble getting anywhere west of the Mississippi yesterday, and yes, I kind of hyperventilated all the way back out of the airport and then lost my shit when I couldn't managed to successfully work the combination of cheap convenience store matches and cigarette with shaking hands, but ... eh. We're okay. Frustrated, but okay. We'll live. We'll take the mulligan and make the most of what is left.

I might have to reconsider my position that the worst day on vacation is better than the best day at the office, though. Possibly. But I don't think so.


Ready To Roll

I took a Benadryl last night, and while I didn't sleep long enough, I slept very well. I was up early this morning (5:30), cleared a couple of shows off the DVR, took my vitamins, tended to my farm and cafe and frontier. Shae got a bath last night, so we just need to comb out her hair and get her dressed before we leave. G's alarm will be going off at 7:00, and then we just need to get everything together and load up the car. I never did get a California playlist made, but somehow I think I'll manage just fine.

We are ready to roll. I'll post updates if I can while we're gone. Keep an eye on my Twitter for any urgent and comical updates.


Pool's Out For Summer

Saturday was a preview of the weather we're expecting later this week while we're on vacation -- mid 70's, bright sunshine, beautiful. Everything but the palm trees.


Oh, and my grandparents have opened their pool for the summer. It probably goes without saying that Shae was appropriately stoked.


I am really looking forward to the wedding and Disneyland, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I am really, really looking forward to catching as many of those California rays as I possibly can.


The first thing I packed in our suitcase was our swimsuits. They'll probably be the first things that come out, too, on that first afternoon, before we collapse into our beds after a long day of travelling.


Nothing says, "Hot damn, I am ON VACATION!" like getting your feet wet as soon as possible after the wheels hit the tarmac in another area code.


The only potential bummer about this trip is that we can't take everyone with us -- but that is what a week at the shore around Labor Day is for. Believe me: I can't wait. "Vacation" is my very favorite word in the English language right now.


Brain Dump

Funny thing about vacations: when (if?) you're finally done getting ready to go on vacation -- once everything is planned, packed, and paid for -- you really actually need the vacation, don't you? We're just about finished -- still need to pick my husband's suit and dress shirt from the cleaner, still need to pick out his tie and other accessories, still need to figure out what I'm doing about jewelry, still need to actually get everything into the carry-on bags, that kind of stuff, the little last-minute leftover things that give everyone agita -- and now more than ever I am ready to go sit in the airport with an Ativan or twelve and maybe a drink. I don't care that we don't leave in five days. I just want to go already.

I mean, really: it's in the 70s and sunny in Anaheim right now, with basically no chance of rain for the next ten days, and here it has been raining so much for so long that you can hear the grass growing. We haven't been able to mow the lawn in more than two weeks. It's starting to look like a cornfield. I feel like I'm camping, except I haven't seen any wildlife outside in so long that I am starting to get excited about the prospect of maybe possibly seeing another squirrel again someday. And I hate squirrels. Stupid fuzzy little tree-rats. If the world actually does end tomorrow like those wackjobs keep saying, I don't know how anyone around here would know the difference, because there is basically no sky left to fall any more. Whaaaah! Calgon, take me away!

You're sick of hearing this. I know. So here's what else I've been working on and/or thinking about lately, in between putting off buying Disneyland tickets until this very morning so I could reshuffle funds (ha!) in my checking account.

  • I joined a book club. So far, I've gotten to read and review three books, with more coming soon, including one that I have ready to put in my handy red tote to read on the plane. You can read my reviews of Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, Jean Kwok's debut novel Girl in Translation, and A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz over on BlogHer.
  • I've been pondering Life's Great Questions with the gang at Prime Parents Club. Like, why don't we make wish lists for the Easter Bunny? And, is Daria Morgendorffer the coolest chick in cartoon history or what? And also, at what point should I stop lying about my age? And most importantly, is it humanly possible for me to be a bigger dork?
  • I don't know whether a kid-sized carry-on bag filled with Tastykakes, Oreos, Doritos, cheese popcorn, and random singles is necessarily a good idea for a cross-country flight, but it will certainly make for an interesting social experiment. (Assuming your definition of "interesting" includes the phrase "it all ends in tears.")
  • Related to above: I have a terrible fear that my kid is going to turn out to be the infamous "Jeffrey" that Bill Cosby described in his comedy routine many, many years ago. You seriously have no idea how much time I have spent in the past week worrying about this. I have some kids' Benadryl packed, just in case, but I am wondering if it might be more effective to just go the $10 airplane margarita route. (Whether I drink them or Shae does seems irrelevant at this point.)
  • Seriously, is the world going to end at 6:00 tomorrow, or what? And if so, do I need to shave my legs and put on clean underwear? Should I even bother getting out of bed? That seems like an awful lot of work only to be subsumed into Heaven or (more likely in my case) banished to Hell for all eternity, you know? Can't I just sit on the couch and watch "Sports Night" on DVD until whatever happens, happens?

Obviously, I need to go away for a while. I'll try to post one more time before we leave -- maybe even two times, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, okay? -- and I will try to post at least once while we're on the road, but I make no promises. I will be Twittering as much as possible, putting up random cell phone pictures and stuff, so keep an eye on the sidebar or follow me if you don't already for updates on my exploits and shenanigans.



So, I've hit the wall, and I might have mentioned that already, but we leave in a week -- less than a week, actually, if you want to get all technical about it, six days and fifteen hours almost to the minute -- and I have officially started with this thing that my brain does before I go on vacation, where it can't stop itself from running around in circles at twice the speed of light and it won't shut off or slow down and then my eye starts twitching and everything becomes one giant run-on sentence and stream of consciousness nightmare like a Kafka novel or something and every waking thought I have is taken up by excited utterances that don't make any damn sense like "Razors and granola bars!" and "Pretzels and mascara!" and "Benadryl and camera charger!" and subconsciously I can even see the exclamation points and if any English teachers are reading this they probably had a stroke a little ways back there and the sad part is that I KNOW WHAT ALL THESE THINGS MEAN and the REALLY sad part is that I don't think I'm ever going to get to the part where my brain yells "Cigarettes and alcohol!" and my mouth which has been waiting all this time for just the right moment to do something useful can finally say "HELL YES!" in agreement and I can finally get to the period at the end of this sentence because DAMN.

Cigarettes and alcohol! HELL YES! Period!

And would you believe me if I told you that I actually enjoy traveling? It's true, not that you'd be able to tell from the nervous breakdowns that I have around about this point before every single trip I've ever taken that I can remember. Even when we went to the shore last year, which is maybe the most ridiculous thing ever. I mean honestly, who freaks out about going to New Jersey?

We really don't have all that much to do still. I already have one bag packed with the bulk of Shae's clothes, and mine too. I'm pretty sure that my husband at least has a plan for what he needs to pack, even if he doesn't actually have anything actually in a suitcase yet. We basically just need to get our dress clothes for the wedding together, and our shoes, and we need to get our toiletries in a bag. So I really don't know what I am panicking about, but I always do this. Always. It's practically part of the vacation planning checklist: (1) Airline reservations (2) Hotel reservations (3) Rental car reservations (4) Miscellaneous (5) Profit (6) Panic attack.

(I think maybe I am starting to get a sense of why my husband claims to hate vacations.)

Another thing I always do is unpack and re-pack the already packed stuff at least once, to double check. Did I remember socks? Pajamas? Of course I did, and even if I didn't, it's not like we're going to the Third World or the South Pole or somewhere where there are no Targets or Wal-Marts. Anything we forget, we can always find somewhere. But I don't want to have to do that, especially this time, because if we're going to get lost trying to navigate the California freeway system, I want to it be because we are looking for something desperately urgent like an In-N-Out Burger, not something frivolous and unnecessary like underpants.

So, in short: I am the reason why every American should be allowed to buy Ativan in airports and interstate rest stops. The end.


Death by Paper Cuts

Hi there! I'm rockle, and you might remember me as that blogger who used to update more than once every five days, before she kind of hit that pre-vacation wall with a very messy, bloody splat and kind of lost her mind a little bit.

Assuming I ever had one to begin with.

Anyway -- sorry for the virtual radio silence, but HOLY TOMATO do I have a metric butt-load of crap to do before we leave for California in 8 days. We have a lot of stuff ready to go -- like, most of our clothes are organized and just need to get in the suitcases -- but I still have all these little piddly things to do, like filling up the toiletry bags with sunscreen and disposable razors, etc.

OH AND LAUNDRY, oh my heavens.

They fixed our roof yesterday, which included painting the walls and ceiling of my bedroom, and my allergies have been really bad all season, so I decided to use a vacation day and spend the night at my parents' with Shae. I brought some wash with me to do -- yes, I am still secretly on some level a college-age mooch when it suits me -- and what I thought would be two quick loads turned out to actually be four.

FOUR LOADS OF LAUNDRY. Gaaah. It's not so much the washing as the folding. My husband has about half a ton of undershirts, and I can't match up any of the socks because it looks like I just grabbed a random assortment. Awesome. I so win at life.

Also, I somehow forgot to take any pictures of anything over the weekend except for my breakfast from Bob Evans on Saturday. Yes, I know. My life is positively riveting.

Hopefully I will have more stuff to tell you about before we leave next Wednesday, but in the meantime I just wanted to let you know am not dead yet. I'm out of Zyrtec and it's raining like the end of days again, which is never a good combination, and I haven't been getting all the sleep I need because I lay in bed at night making and re-making mental to-do lists with 537 items on them, but I am not dead yet. Check in with me in 24 hours, as this is subject to change without notice.

And if you know of a good fluff-n-fold, send me their number.


The Grass Is Always Greener

I was originally going to say something vaguely snarky about how it looks like maybe someone needs to have their grass cut.

Golf Course Grass

But I mostly can't get over how how lush my grandparents' lawn is. All nice and green and uniform, like a golf course. So now I want to get their landscaper's number, because my yard is about two feet high and mostly weeds, dandelions, and strawberry runners from the mulching mower.


Someone definitely needs a haircut, though. Although it's going to have to wait until after vacation, because there just isn't enough time. (And also, her hair IS kind of awesome when it's all wild and Angela-Davis-y.)

What the WHAT?

I call this her "What the WHAT?" face, because this is the exact face that she makes when she says "What the WHAT?" I am kind of un-clever and predictable that way.

Tiny Little Phillies Hat

This picture is just there because it's adorable. And isn't it cute how the azaleas in the background match the red and white in the tiny little hat?


Portrait of the Artist

I don't know what it is with you people wanting to see pictures of me on this here blog -- I mean, really, most of you are related to me, and you already know what I look like (i.e., my sisters, duh) -- but here is a picture from Sunday that has me in it. You're welcome. Sheesh. It's the one where I look the best, even though everybody else is looking in a different direction at who knows what, and but since I'm the editor, I get to pick the pictures.

Not One Of Us Takes Direction

Usually I am behind the camera, and you can see why -- I make goofy faces. I much prefer being the director, so I can pictures like this one, of the dudes in attendance at our Mother's Day brunch (with the daughters/granddaughters).

The Dudes

And even with the fathers right there, you can see that basically every girl in the family looks like My Anonymous Mother. Even the adopted ones. It's weird. (Although I also see a bit of my father's mother in Makayla -- she has the same cheeks as so many of my cousins on that side of the family, and tell me, don't they look delicious?)

(Oh and by the way -- my sister, brother-in-law, and niece matched on purpose, but my husband, daughter, and I did not, I swear. Yes, I am a total Garanimal, but only her outfit was planned in advance. He and I just wore what was clean, like we always do. Total coincidence that we all ended up in the same shade of blue -- but at least you can tell who belongs to whom.)

(I just noticed that M.A.M. and my dad are also wearing the same colors: light pink tops and grey pants. Guess I know where the OCD matchy-matchness comes from, eh?)

(Also: how awesome is it that the men in my family totally rock pink? Most of them, anyway. I think my husband would look great in pink or salmon, especially in the summer when he has a tan, but he has a "uniform" and there is not a lot of color in his closet. Sometimes I can get him to wear yellow, but mostly he wears shades of blue and green.)

(No, I don't have much to say except my family is purdy, no? Lucky us. We might all be crazy and possibly inbred, but we're damned fine-looking. Except for me, but I guess if only one out of eleventy of us is unfortunate-looking, we're throwing off the curve for everybody else.)

(OK, I'm done now, except for this: our 2nd annual family beach vacation is going to KICK ASS this year, I can just tell.)


Ladies Who Brunch

I can't speak for anyone else, but my Mother's Day was pretty great. And I was surprised by this, because Mother's Day can be pretty stressful. Even though "mom" isn't supposed to do much, there is still the getting dressed and going places and wrangling your kid in the bath and making plans and cleaning up and getting along with your mother-in-law and whatever else you have to do to actually get through the day.

But for once, there wasn't a whole lot I had to do, except pretend to be a nice person and start drinking before noon. For one day out of the year, I can try to manage that. (Well, the first part, anyway -- I can always get behind daytime drinking if the occasion arises.)

Makayla & Shel

This year was my sister's first Mother's Day (hi sis!), and she wanted to go to brunch, so we did. We found a place at a public golf course that had a BBQ brunch, so the boys would be able to find something to eat that wasn't too frou-frou, and we ladies could get the sort of brunchy things we like to eat. The food was excellent and the mimosas were divine. (I also discovered the bellini, which is my new favorite drink ever, and I didn't even have one yet.)

Shae G & Gigi
Shae & Gigi

We ate outside -- it was a beautiful day, absolutely perfect weather -- and since we were overlooking the 10th green, there were plenty of opportunities to get some family pictures in -- including shots featuring my mother-in-law, who is like the Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Film of my family.

Ladies Who Lunch

Let's hear it for the ladies who lunch. Aren't they a gem? I'll drink to them!


Serenity Sunday #2

With a continuing hat tip to NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, here are the things that are making me happy right now.

i don't know where he finds these arrangements, but they're perfect every time.

Birthday flowers. No idea what they are -- lavender roses and some kind of dark purple things that might be delphiniums, maybe, and these big stalky things that kind of look like miniature hollyhocks -- but they're super-pretty and they smell divine and they came in a purple vase because my husband knows what makes me happy.

Also: my brand new birthday computer, which is all sleek and shiny and space-age and AMAZING and it smells like money and the future and all kinds of awesome. No pictures yet, because I still want to keep it to myself a little bit, but BOY HOWDY. I should have a birthday every year or something.

i don't know what this face is, but i enjoy it.
ready for her closeup, mr. demille.
men who don't make passes at girls who wear glasses are asses.

This kid and her goofy faces, which never cease to entertain and amuse me. (Even though I am secretly jealous that she looks better in my new glasses than I do.) It is sure to be a great Mother's Day (or, as she called it just a few minutes ago, "Muffin's Day") with her around to crack me up.


Technical Difficulties

Hi there! This was supposed to be the first blog post that I wrote on my new birthday iMac, but unfortunately it's still at my friendly neighborhood Apple store because the data transfer from my old computer failed. Because OF COURSE IT DID, since this is me we're talking about. I was going to share the playlist for our upcoming trip to Disneyland -- did you forget about that? it's only been like 20 minutes since I mentioned it -- but none of the iTunes files transferred from the old machine, and I am missing a year's worth of pictures, and all of my scrapbooking stuff. Hopefully tomorrow (possibly even later today) I'll have an update. In the meantime, some free advice: the "one-to-one" service costs extra, but it's COMPLETELY WORTH IT, because if I had to troubleshoot the data transfer myself, someone would have ended up seriously injured. (Probably me.)


Dept. of Redundancy Dept.

Wanna know some things I never get sick of taking (or posting) pictures of?

Hooray for Cupcakes

(1) My kid.

Om Nom Nom

(2) Cupcakes.

Nom Nom Nom Nom

(3) My kid, eating cupcakes.

Yum Num Num

(4) Miscellaneous.


Over and Done

Shae's last swimming class for the spring was the Saturday before Easter. So these are the last pictures you'll see of her swimming for a few weeks, until Memorial Day or so, when we head out to California for the big vacation that I need so badly I just cannot even tell you. For serious: this will be the longest three weeks of my life, I think. I should probably start with the daytime drinking right now, but they continue to refuse to put vodka in the vending machine at work, those bastards.

Splashy Happy

I'm not sure what, exactly, Shae got out of these classes. She learned to float on her back, and she learned a lot of basic water safety, like not to go into water that is deeper than she can stand in unless she has some kind of PFD -- I think she might have known that already, but it's good to get reinforcement on this point from someone who is not me. Mostly we had an excuse to get out of the house for the last few months. I guess I'll take what I can get.


Once we get back from the O.C., summer will have officially started, and I'm going to find someone to give Shae lessons on the weekends. Lord knows she won't listen to me, but basically everybody else in my entire family is on a swim team or coaches a swim team or whatever -- I'm pretty much the only slacker ex-swimmer I know -- so I'm sure that someone would be willing to spend an hour a week in the pool for a few bucks. Probably the college-age kids. It's not like the have much else to do except mow lawns or whatever else The Kids doing for beer money these days. (No, I don't want to know. Don't tell me. And get a haircut. And get a real job. And get off my lawn!)

All A Blur

(Although, college-age cousins: If you read this, let me know your starting price. I was thinking $5, a bag of Doritos, and your choice of icy-cold beverage per lesson, but I am willing to negotiate. We can potentially get as high as $10 per lesson, but then the beverage is off the table because I Am Not Made Of Money. And also, you'll have to share the Doritos with Shae and her tapeworm with the hollow leg.)


Serenity Sunday #1

A new feature I am starting, which is a callback to an earlier post, wherein I discuss the Things That Are Making Me Happy Right Now, with a continuing hat tip to NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. (Oh, and you know how some NPR shows have that "This is NPR" tagline at the end? This one definitely should, because even if you hate NPR for whatever reason, I believe that most people will find this particular podcast thoroughly entertaining. And their Facebook page is a hoot. Seriously, go check it out.)

Anyway: once again the things that are making me happy this week are garden-related. Because it's spring, and there are many things about spring that do NOT make me happy (ahem, allergies), but my garden ain't one of them.

this random tulip in the courtyard makes me happy.

This tulip is not from my garden -- it grows in the courtyard of the building where I work. Or at least it did until we had heavy rains and high winds earlier this week. Most of the time, the landscapers put in assorted annuals to fill in the "empty" spaces around the trees, but every year, there is one or two random bulbs that manage to sprout. I love the color of this tulip. It's so happy.

pretty pink tree

I love this flowering tree, also in the work courtyard. No idea what it is -- a crape myrtle, maybe? -- but it is lovely. I am not generally a fan of pink, but I love pink-flowering trees. I continue to adore weeping cherry trees, even though they're pretty much done at this point.


My lilac bush. I think I might have missed the "best" of the blooming, but I managed to get out there at least once to sniff the flowers. I wish that my allergies weren't so bad; I'd love to be able to snip some bunches and put them in every room of my house.

So that's what making me happy right now. What about you?