Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Room of One's Own

It’s almost that time of year again—the time when my kids go away for a summer visit to their dad’s house in Southern California for a couple of weeks. I miss my kids when they’re away, but not right at first. Right at first I do a lot of skipping, and singing, and then once I leave the airport, I get sad. Typically, on the first or second day they’re gone, I do a deep clean of their bedrooms. In other words, I make it nice-nice so they can crap it up again. I leave the doors open so that I can enjoy the view; the sense of accomplishment I feel at taking their rooms from looking like a category 5 twister ripped through on its way home from getting a double root canal sans Novocain to Pottery Barn-catalogue-worthy, is huge.  

As long as they allow me my twice-yearly cleaning frenzy, I allow them to live in their own filth. Not really. I have my limits. I don’t like clothes on the floor. I like clothes in one of four places: on one’s body, on a hanger, in a drawer, or in a laundry basket. I suppose it had something to do with my own mother’s insistence that I clean my room on the half-hour. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but that’s how it seemed at the time. But now, I get it. Clothes are expensive. We don’t do shopping as recreation, but when we need something. They seem to really appreciate it when we go shopping for clothes, and it hurts my feeling when I see their clothes trampled on. It also hurts my foot when I step on a belt buckle. When they get to college they can experiment with a horizontally organized closet on their floor.

I’m an optimist. I never give up hope that one day, my son and/or daughter will walk into their room upon returning from vacation, take one look at the dusted, cleared off desk with room for a book and a pen, and say, “Mom. I really don’t know how I ever lived like that. I shall forever embrace a clean living space.”
Sometimes, when I glance into their rooms and my vision becomes obscured by the blood seeping out of my eyes, another one of my senses take over: smell. The odor emanating from my son’s room has no category. I really can’t describe it, so I’ll just call it “wrong.” Like emotions, smells can be wrong or right. Like, when my husband feels sad because I’m staying up late to work, or because the Giants lost, I tell him he’s wrong.

“When are you coming to bed?”


“Oh, darn it. That makes me sad.”

“You couldn’t be wronger about that.”

“Huh? But I am sad. I don’t like to go to bed without you.”

“You are fine.”

“Well, I’m sad that the Giants lost.”

“No you’re not.”

“Yes, I am!”

“I’m sorry, but you are wrong.”

“I am?”

“Yes. You are fine. Now go to bed.”


When I open my son’s door and breathe through my nose, there’s just nothing right about it. I seriously feel pain. The only time I’m brave enough to enter is 1) when I’m super pissed off about something or 2) there is no two.

It’s a constant mental battle with myself every time I open his bedroom door: Do I leave it alone or tell him to clean it up? What’s the right thing to do? Is my health something I am willing to sacrifice? Where is haz-mat when you need them? Why do I care? Why can’t I just ignore it? Is my own room a shining example of how to care for one’s things? With this last question, my Woody Allen-esque internal struggle comes to an end and I back slowly away from the room, but not before sprinting to the window and throwing it open. Tomorrow, when the stank tank is empty, I shall clean, fully prepared for the fact that in less than 30 seconds after he returns, the carpet will have disappeared.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Stick Diet

For me, just thinking about a state or county fair brings to mind fond childhood memories of hurling through the air on the Scrambler, clattering through the fun house, and most vividly, the smell of goat manure in the morning. There really is nothing quite like it, except for possibly the smell of a mixture of pig, goat and cow manure, oh, around 4 p.m. on a 100-degree day. Oddly enough, it’s when I leave the animal exhibits that I can’t help but think about food.

More specifically, stick food.

The smell coming from the food stalls is amazing; and by amazing, I mean unidentifiable. Nonetheless, for the better part of four days a year, the stick diet is the only one I have ever made a point of sticking to.

I like to open my four-day county fair diet plan with a deep-fried artichoke heart on a stick. It is a strange concept, as it is kind of a strange thing, the heart of an artichoke. Only in America would someone take an exotic looking plant, impale it on a piece of wood, fry the life out of it and sell it for a profit. Speaking of profit, just what is the mark-up on cotton candy? Last time I glanced at my recipe card there was just one word: Sugar. Is it a recipe if there’s only one ingredient? I mean, is there a recipe for banana? Anyway, if you really want to get technical and count air as an ingredient, then you might actually have a recipe for cotton candy. How much are they making on that stuff? Whatever it is, it’s way too much. It does however, come on a stick, and therefore, I get to eat it.

And who doesn’t like corn dogs? Well, my mom, for starters. She hasn’t eaten a corn dog since she was eight, when she consumed the original stick-food at our very own Amador County Fair. Let’s just say it wasn’t the last she saw of it…If you see her at the fair this year, offer to buy her one.

To be honest, there is one thing on a stick that I never consume at the fair: caramel apples. It does contain the required stick, and therefore qualifies to be in the diet plan, but the presence of that apple, all natural and juicy and obviously grown on a tree just ruins the whole experience. One would have to consume a helluva lot of fry bread on a stick to cancel out a crisp, fresh apple.

Even corn-on-the-cob gets stuck with a stick, and really just barely qualifies due to the natural nature of corn itself. The saving grace is that it’s slathered in butter and doused with salt. It could only be better if it was fried. (Why in tarnation hasn’t anyone figured out how to batter and deep fry an ear of corn? To whoever does figure this out, please keep the butter on the inside of the batter so that it doesn’t drip down my arm.

Even Asian food has gone stick, with the introduction of the eggroll on a stick. I remember seeing that little hut for the first time at the State Fair several years ago and wondered what happens when you bite into a bunch of shredded cabbage on a stick? Doesn’t it just fall apart? My guess is that cabbage isn’t the main ingredient, but most likely some mysterious, sticky meat product is, one that packs nicely around the little wooden spear. I passed on that one.

Each year, I longingly search for my favorite foods, hoping to find them stuck on a stick: pizza, tacos, beer. Wait a second! I just realized something: If I carry around some chopsticks, then technically everything can be on the stick diet! And a straw is basically a stick with a hole in the middle, so technically beer is in! I can see it now: My pre-Destruction Derby meal plan: a few hours visiting the beer booth, drinking beer through a straw, followed by nachos-with-chopsticks. Who’s with me on this?

Keep it classy, Amador!