Archive | January, 2011

Ship of Fools

30 Jan

When my husband announced that he had a two week business trip to Hawaii, I was thrilled to tag along. I’ve been to Hawaii twice before and sometimes the flight attendants are, well, not great. Mostly they’re just indifferent, but once we had one that completely lost her shit as we were coming in for a landing. It was a little turbulent (nothing major, even for me) and she came over the intercom, her voice shaky, with this little gem:

“Sit down people! This is serious! We’re over water here!” Not exactly a confidence booster for those of us with flying anxiety.

But this time was different. It was wonderful all around. We landed, picked up our car and headed to the resort. As we walked in I was pleased; big open spaces, bright clean rooms, and right on the beach. You could hear the ocean lapping against the sand as we checked in. Nice place.

So when the pretty girl behind the desk told us, with a smile, that sadly the beaches were closed due to medical waste spilling into the ocean after a heavy rainfall had caused the nearby landfill to overflow, I was kind of incredulous. A landfill had leaked medical waste? Into the ocean? Is that all? Couldn’t you throw some anthrax and dead bodies in too?

Fair enough, maybe “medical waste” was code for dead bodies.

That was, as they say, my first sign. But we rolled with it. Like we had any choice.

Coupled with the ongoing construction at the neighboring resort (which I discovered the next morning), I should’ve seen something ugly coming. But what can I say? I just didn’t.

I forgot to mention that just after the medical waste bombshell, the pretty girl behind the counter also told us that a few miles down the beach was where The Black Pearl was anchored. As in, Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl. This was a handful of shocking information. First the poisoned ocean and now this? She assured me it was the real deal and said I could even get close enough for great pictures.

I admit I was doubtful. I mean, any jackwad could say some ship was the Black Pearl, especially if they wanted to give their resort full of disgruntled vacationers something to think about other than the toxic tide that so gently caressed their beaches. It wouldn’t even be the first time. Boy, 12, exposes touring Pirates of the Caribbean ship as a fake | Mail Online.

But it had to be somewhere, right? Why not two miles down the beach from me and my contaminated paradise?

And so between fun dinners and Mai Tais, I kept thinking about it. Wondering. It couldn’t be the real one, could it? Jack Sparrow’s Pearl has got to be locked in some Hollywood warehouse. I’m probably closer to it in California than I am here. But then I thought, what if it really is the Pearl? I don’t want to miss it.

Or do I? What if it sucks? What if it’s like watching Little Big Man as an adult and finding out that it’s just not as good as when you were twelve? Some things are better left alone. So for three days I did nothing.

But today, after wondering just how long it would take for daily lunches of spring rolls and Hawaiian margaritas (which are delicious) to catch up with me, I decided to go for a walk. It was time to find the Pearl.

I passed the first lagoon, and then another, both speckled with sad travelers lounging in the grass, carefully avoiding the lethal sand and water. After the fourth lagoon (there were only three listed on the map) I began to wonder how long the island really was, and if perhaps the pretty girl behind the counter had played the mother of all jokes on me:

Two weeks lost in the jungle, doing nothing but eating papaya-spiked rat and wiping your ass with banana leaves will teach you to make faces when I tell you the beach is closed. Like I can help it! You know how much they pay me to stand here and tell you people this? Do you? Mahalo.

But just as I decided I should either turn around (always the smart move) or go head first into the Stephen King novel that awaited me, I saw the masts of some boats ahead, rocking slowly in the safety of the harbor. Aha! The Pearl must be up ahead.

I followed the path for another half mile or so, knowing I was close. I could see the end of the island, the way the land curved with nothing but the Pacific beyond. If she was really there, it was now or never.

Unfortunately, she was there. Or some jacked-up skeleton of a ship that looked kind of like the Black Pearl. You know, like I kind of look like Angelina Jolie. Ok, the crappy remnants of the ship is closer, but you know what I mean.

By the time I got back to the resort I knew it wasn’t real. No way. It just couldn’t be.

The Black Pearl is forever shrouded in mystery; her tattered black sails eternally crossing the wide open blue with darkness as her only companion (except for Jack Sparrow). Theirs is a pirate’s destiny, filled with saucy wenches and plundered booty, death-defying adventures and fantastical intrigue. They ask, “But why is the rum gone?” and look longingly into the vastness of the horizon as they sing, “…and really bad eggs, drink up me hearties, yo ho!”

What it isn’t about is being tied up in Hawaii next to a desalination plant.

Just sayin’. Some things are better left alone.


Intrepid Resentment

15 Jan

When we moved to California my daughter inherited the spare room next to her new bedroom. She was in fourth grade, and it became her playroom. The walls were quickly covered with her drawings; fashion designs she’d come up with and fantasy characters for stories she was working on. There were dollhouses and Barbies, Beanie Babies and Polly Pockets. The whole room was full of old art supplies and tons of projects (if Crayola made it, we owned it) and everything else that she just couldn’t stand to part with. Including her two smelly guinea pigs.

In the middle of sixth grade she got a sewing machine for Christmas. The fantasy art in the playroom came down, the Beanie Babies went to a younger neighbor girl and the room previously known as “the playroom” became “the sewing room.” (God Mom, “playroom” sounds so babyish).

Project Runway was a constant favorite at our house during that time and fashion design ruled. Out went the stuffed animals and Barbies (unless they were sporting home-made, original duct tape fashions) and in went the life-sized mannequin, piles of fabric and a sewing table. For awhile you couldn’t walk barefoot in there without taking a pin or a needle inch deep in the foot.

And we lost the guinea pigs. As in, to a sudden illness, not to the clutter. The spare room was growing up, just like my daughter.

She’s almost a freshman now and right on schedule, the spare room has undergone another transformation. In the last few weeks it has become “the music room.” And by that I don’t mean a room where we sit quietly after dinner and play music, I mean a room where music is made. Where ROCK is king.

My daughter is now in a band. Her and four other girls have been meeting here and practicing, for hours, ever since Christmas. They’re called Intrepid Resentment, and I think I’m a groupie.

I have to admit that the first time she asked if she could have band practice upstairs, I wasn’t too excited. I’m not usually good with chaos. Especially when it’s loud. But I didn’t feel right telling her no just because it would be annoying. So I gave them a shot.

And I’m glad I did. Yes, they’re loud and out of tune and they don’t really know what they’re doing yet, but there’s something so, I don’t know, so fourteen about the whole thing that I just can’t help but smile. They show up every Saturday around 11 am and hang out upstairs. They wail on the keyboards, drums and guitars for awhile, then wander down and politely ask for a snack. (Don’t tell anyone, it wouldn’t do much for their angry, punk image).

They love Green Day, Evanescence, Bowling for Soup and the Smashing Pumpkins. And I love them. Not just because my husband and I get to call them awesome things like, “Intolerable Resistance” and “Insipid Reluctance” (which is beyond fun), but because all of the discordant “music” that fills the house on Rock Saturday is accented by so much laughter. I truly, absolutely and completely unexpectedly look forward to the band showing up on the weekend.

And so, after almost 40 years, I’m finally fulfilling my dream of running with a band. Funny how life works out. Anyway, duty calls. It’s almost lunch time and I think there’s a sack of sandwiches at Subway with Intrepid Resentment stamped on the side.

Woody and Buzz

5 Jan

My family and I spent the Christmas holiday back home in Pennsylvania, visiting friends and family. It was great. To me, you just can’t beat the country at Christmas time. I mean, where else can you drive down the road and cross paths with a snowmobile as it cruises from one cornfield to the next? Don’t worry, the Dad was driving, the kid on the back was holding on with both hands (his eyes almost as huge as the grin he was wearing) and the baby was right up front. Ya’ know, so it’s safe.

In ten days we did it all. We packed in a marathon of craft mania (we decorated hundreds of handmade cinnamon ornaments and baked what seemed like 25,000 dozen sugar cookies), threw a cocktail party, had a fantastic lunch where we introduced my in-laws to the undeniable joy of Sonic’s chili cheese tots, and witnessed a mildly heated debate between my mother and my teenager on “the myth of the virgin birth.”

Don’t ask.

Not to mention a snow storm that had us marooned for a day, the gift exchanging, the drinking, or the ridiculous amounts of food. One day I actually had ham salad on wonder bread for lunch. Real ham salad on real wonder bread. I didn’t even know you could buy wonder bread anymore. It was absolutely awesome.

But of course, beyond all of that, the moments with our families are what stand out. And as I’ve begun to get back into my routine in California, that’s what I chat about with friends and acquaintances.

For example, just yesterday the women in my pilates class were talking about their holidays, about the gifts they’d given and received. Between sets of crunches one woman said her grand daughter had been thrilled to finally get an iPhone. After the leg lift series another one said her father had surprised everyone in her family with a cruise.

Everyone was laughing, enjoying the conversation, slowly easing into our workout. I smiled and shared that just before class I’d gotten a text from my brother, saying that the gift I’d given his three year old son had been seeing lots of action. I beamed with pride. Apparently it was a big hit. The room was quiet, full of smiling ladies, their heads filled with pictures and memories of happy little boys as they waited to hear what the special gift had been. I sat up and said, “Yeah, I gave him a Woody.”

Yep. That’s what I said.

Of course I meant that I’d given him the Woody action figure from Disney’s Toy Story. Because I did. He’s nuts for Toy Story stuff. But that’s not what it sounded like I’d given him.

Well, hell. If this doesn’t lock in my position as the cool aunt, I don’t know what will. Anyway, maybe I should’ve skipped the Woody and just told them about the Buzz I gave him.