Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fuck You, Stevie. Superstition IS the Way.

Here it is ... the required post dedicated to saying goodbye to 2009 and hello to 2010.

Another year gone and this one felt like a fucking landslide. Legal became legal and managed to not get arrested. The Boy graduated kindergarten and turned six. Boss Lady turned five and enrolled in college (not really, but soon pressure to excel, sweetheart). We survived Disneyland, Santa Barbara and bloody noses. I turned 37 and didn't care. We wrote messages on balloons to Seltar on the anniversary of his passing and sent them skyward.

I laughed, I cried, I ranted, I raved, I drank Chardonnay.

So to you 2009, I wrap you in pretty paper and lovely ribbons and I bid you farewell. I'll remember you in journal entries, heartfelt letters to Sel, semi-funny blog posts, recipes from Sunday night dinners and photos yet to be organized, many to be printed (maybe in 2010 but more likely in 2011).

And though I may not be the most religious person (religious art excluded), I am very much a superstitious person. You will never find my ass under a ladder, I'm constantly throwing salt over my shoulder and if you open an umbrella inside my house I'll have no choice but to remove your spleen with my teeth. I'm not kidding. Next time I see you you'd better have a rabbit's foot, a four-leaf clover and a fucking pot of gold for me.

I believe in superstitions more than I believe in resolutions (I never claimed to be rational nor sane). So instead of making a pact with the Devil myself to lose ten pounds or write the Great American Novel, I will wear polka dots for prosperity, bright yellow panties for wealth and eat twelve grapes before the final stroke of midnight. I'll eat lentils on New Years Day and if I can find it I'll also throw in a stuffed pig's trotter. I'll eat my noodles unbroken and won't sweep until January 2.

According to Stevie, when you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain't the way. Whatever. I'll take my chance and let you know this time next year just how prosperous fluorescent yellow panties can be.

Happy New Year from she who is Miss Spoken!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Brandy Glaze and Fist Fights At Wal*Mart

I'm the girl that likes Christmas.

Every year I have a different theme for the tree. Last year it was red and white and decorated with glass candy canes, peppermints and snowmen. This year it was ice blue, cool green and a touch of apricot (not orange, not gold ... apricot).

I have a dining room window that's about 24 inches deep. Perfect for stringing mini-lights and suspending oversized ornaments from fishing line. It's also the perfect place for my baby deer, in all her clear-light glory, to graze upon fake snow that has been scattered on a huge mirror beneath her feet. The mirror reflects the lights from above and the effect is ... ahhhhhh, lovely.

I have candles that sit in nests of cranberries. Real fucking cranberries.

Lit garland wraps itself over and around and down the banister.

I create an enormous wreath from the cuttings of my 6-8 foot tall tree.

The kids and I make reindeer food out of oats, powdered sugar and glitter. We spread it on the rooftop and on the sidewalk.

I make things like Brandy Glazed Ham and Leek Gratin.

I fucking love Christmas.

And I'm so fucking over it, too.

My Christmas starts in early October when I see Santa's fat face looking at me in Ross's while I'm trying to forge for glass pumpkins. He shows up in my garage in November when I try to find the box marked Autumn/Fall Serving Plates and instead I find Christmas Lights Box 2 of 6.

And now, two days after my son woke up at 4:00 in the morning to tell me Santa ate the cookies and drank all the milk, I'm over it. I still have a skatepark to take out of it's protective NASA-made shell, a set of walkie talkies that need nine volt batteries (the only kind I don't have) and a Transformer mask that needs some kind of assembling. Boss Lady can't find her Moxy Girl's boots and Legal went out last night and is now puking in the bathroom.

Goodbye, Christmas.

All that's left for me to do is take down the decorations, wrap up this year's colored ornaments and recycle this 6-8 foot fire hazard.

The reindeer food is frozen and stuck to the sidewalk and must now be chiseled away.

Scotch tape has to be peeled off of the couch and I'll have to vacuum at least four more times to get the sparkles out of the carpet. Why are there sparkles in the carpet? I have no idea.

My roasting pan still has a layer of Brandy Glaze and will soak for another 2 days.

[heavy sigh]

At least I have the 50% Off All Wrapping Paper brawl to look forward to at Wal*Mart. Make no mistake ... Miss Spoken will cut a bitch over some discounted foil gift wrap.

What about you Innernetterz? Will I be seeing you at the Wal*Mart cage match or were you over the holidays a month ago?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is Some Good ol' Fashioned Xanax

Why is my son behaving like a total asshole?

Yes, I know he's six but he's still acting like a jerk. And the whole Santa's watching threat is completely useless. The Boy thinks he's a bad ass and probably wants Santa to watch.

He has acquired the habit of chewing on his sleeves until they are soaking fucking wet... and then he chews some more. He's even had his behavior card flipped at school because of this. For those of you not up-to-date on your elementary school penal code system, getting your card flipped is bad. I put him in short sleeves and he manages to somehow chew his collar.

And he's repeating everything I say to him.

Me:  "Go to your room."
The Boy:  "You go to your room."
Me (in my head): "Fine, but I'm taking the wine with me." (then I do twirls and spins with my wine bottle glass in hand because that's where I wanted to be anyway.)

Me:  "Stop throwing paper airplanes at my head."
The Boy:  "I didn't do it." (he says this as a fleet of paper jet fighters sit waiting for take off at his feet)
Me:  "Don't lie to me."
The Boy:  "You don't lie to me."
Me (in my head):  "Shit. He's got me on that one."

His anger manifests itself in all kinds of physical ways. Usually it goes like this (and if anybody knew his father, they'll recognize this right away):

First, his eyebrow shoots up into his hairline while he simultaneously clenches his fists and grits his teeth. Then he shakes a little or a lot. He might even look for something to throw, but he catches my eye first (my eyebrow also holds the ability to arch with menace). Then he'll storm upstairs and threaten to runaway... to the gas station. I offer to help him pack. And so ends another day.

I think I recognize this for what it is:  the struggle for power and control. Mom versus Son. I'm pretty sure that in the end I'll win, if only because I have more duct tape than he does and I know how to use zip ties.

But it's exhausting work and requires copious amounts of Chardonnay. I'm also not opposed to sedatives (and not just for my son.) Stop yelling at me, that was a joke. But seriously, a little pharmaceutical gift in my stocking would be much appreciated, Santa.

Every villain needs a monocle.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Not-So-Funny Post About Addiction

It's about 9 o'clock in the morning and my semi-collective family (Johnny Boy, my mom, The Boy and I) are making our way over the hill and through the woods to Miss Led's house we go.

Miss Led is my little sister.

Miss Led has two daughters.

Miss Led currently lives in a residential rehab for women.

Alright, I'll just say it. Addiction is not uncommon in my family. It's actually quite the norm. Think steak and potatoes (or orange juice and vodka); it's like it was just meant to be. What's abnormal, is somebody in my family getting help. And she is.

So we are making this three hour drive to celebrate Christmas a week early. The car is packed with gifts for her daughters and things to make her life in the Anti-Shangri-La more comfortable (and therefore maybe less likely for her to leave?). Pillows, cigarettes, tampax, string cheese and a huge bowl of homemade spicy peanut chicken with a bag of lettuce cups to wrap it in. Because I know that if I were in rehab, I would want spicy peanut chicken wraps. Who wouldn't? I might also want a powerful sedative.

But enough about chicken, let's get back to the meat and potatoes. The undeniable truth is that addiction has infected every branch of this family tree. It's our root disease. It's made grandchildren steal from grandparents, fathers smoke crack with daughters and mothers pass out at the kitchen table while their jeans darken with the release of urine that their broken bodies can no longer hold. Our boys have gone to prison. Our girls have abused themselves.

If you follow the word of Miss Spoken, you might be under the impression that I'm a genius. That I would naturally be immune to this bacteria. But for the record, I am not the better sister wagging a finger at the poor choices the younger sister has made and tsk-tsking her behavior. Instead, I feel nothing but empathy, a sort of soul-symphony.

Trauma. Abuse. Neglect. Exploitation. All of these things pretend to be buried when you're high so you stay high. But the addict knows that in reality, drugs are just a lay-away plan. Recovery means cashing out and getting it all back with interest. Which is why I love my sister even more for taking these initial steps and doing the work that will give her back her identity, her confidence, her children and ultimately her life.

Two months down and many more to go before I can stop holding my breath for her. Until then, I'll keep her supplied with meat that doesn't need to be refrigerated, canned white potatoes and whatever my heart can afford.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Totally Shredded My Cheese!

Guess what guys? Mother Nature totally reads my blog!

She must be one of those anonymous followers that are too embarrassed to follow me publicly. Maybe I'm her guilty pleasure. I'm her Flava of Love. Her Pour Some Sugar On Me

Here's proof.

Remember when I posted about missing my City by the Bay and the thick fog and how I wasn't sure how to handle this Winter offensive? Well, she must have read it because the next day, she made sure to deliver me a bit o'sunshine. Just enough to make the trees start to drip their winter coat. Just enough to turn driveways into slush puddles and to streak the sidewalks with little rivers of melted powder. But then she must have gotten a phone call or something because that night, she let the temperature drop and all that melted snow and slush turned into ice. Lots of ice. So that when I went to hide wine bottles in the garbage outside take out the trash, my slippered feet touched down on one of these Devil's Slides and I was soon airborne. Not to worry Innernetterz, my tailbone totally absorbed the shock of the fall. A bit dumbstruck, I laid there for a second or two, looking up at the sky and saying to myself, "Fuckallhell. I totally just shredded my cheese."

Maybe Mother Nature felt bad about my ass-landing because the next day she delivered me some fog. Lots of fog. But like a backhanded compliment ("You're pretty ... all things considered"), the bitch delivered it frozen.

The fuck is frozen fog?

Technically speaking, frozen fog is fog composed of minute ice crystals. They just hang there, midair. Suspended. Untechnically speaking, it's kind of like looking at something beautiful through dirty contact lenses. Kind of like this:

So the normal ten minute walk to school took more like 30 minutes because (a) I broke my ass the night before and (b) because what was once sidewalks and streets was now one huge ice skating rink/death trap and (c) because I had my mother with me who is only 55 but is petrified of falling and breaking her hip even though I assure her she can still fry chicken with a broken hip. In fact at one point, she considers getting on her hands and knees and crawling. It's not that I haven't seen her do this before. There was that one time when I was little and couldn't sleep and walked into her bedroom unannounced.


To this day I blame her for my nearsightedness.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Letters Are Stupid (I Know This Because I Used To Be Gifted)

We're standing in the middle of an indoor fun zone. We've all gathered here to celebrate The Regulator's birthday and pray at this temple of inflatable obstacle courses and all things bouncy. Even the floor has springs in it. The only thing missing is a few hits of Ecstasy, the repetitive thump of overly mixed House music and a bunch of almost-adults with pacifiers in their mouths and synthetic wings on their backs.

I remind myself that this is a birthday party for a four year old. This is not a warehouse in SOMA. It is not 1995.

With a literal spring in my step, I walk into a conversation about Christmas. Christmas correspondence, to be exact. The Keynote Speaker is The Regulator's mother herself, Miss Perceived.

"I'm doing a Christmas Letter this year," she says with a roll of her eyes.

By now I should expect her to do or say whatever it is that I don't expect her to do or say. Like talking about her drawer of sex toys with my father-in-law sitting at the table beside her. There is a reason she is dubbed Miss Perceived. But I cannot hide the what-the-fuck expression smeared all over my face. Nor can I stop myself from speaking, and by speaking I of course mean laughing.

"You don't even talk on the phone! Why would you send a Christmas Letter and what the fuck is a Christmas Letter anyway?" 

I'm not completely dense. I understand the word Christmas (def: a day when it's okay to sip alcohol in the morning as long as it has bubbles or is an appropriate mixer in coffee) and I know what a letter is (def: something one writes when one is incarcerated). But what, Sweet Jesus, does one have to do with the other?

I scan my memory card for things I know nothing about and couldn't care less about and that's where I find it: a long forgotten memory of finding a Christmas Letter written by my Grandma's sister. In a beautiful longhand of swirls and loops, Great Aunt Katherine set about describing her year of family happenings on a farm in Missouri. I recall that something animal died and something human lived. Somebody gained a husband. Somebody lost a finger. Merry Christmas.

Christmas Letters, I told myself, were stupid. I was in the gifted program at school so I knew that I could not be wrong. Today, although no longer thought of as gifted (unless you consider the ability to give two kids a complete bath in under six minutes "gifted"), I still think Christmas Letters are stupid.

First of all, I have a blog. If you want to know how my year went, spend some time in Miss Spoken's archives. Bring alcohol and a Snuggie.

And what could I possibly say in a Christmas Letter? Legal is eighteen now and still spends her days social networking; The Boy turned six and graduated to wiping his own ass effectively; Boss Lady is five and started composing the soundtrack of my life on her new Kawasaki (thanks Miss Dee). Yes it sounds like popcorn kernels in the garbage disposal but it's a wonderful start to her future career as somebody way more awesome than her mother.

Miss Perceived defends herself. Kind of.

"I know, I know. If you want to get ahold of me, text me. If you call me, I'll just text you back. I'm a texter. Text, text, text. But I haven't sent out Christmas cards in years!"

Miss Perceived is a huge supporter of this blog and the written word of she who is Miss Spoken. Because of this (and the fact that she lives next door and could babysit in case I have one of those Ambien blackouts), I will support her Christmas Letter.

And if it is blog-worthy, God help her.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ho-Ho-Ho, Merry Christmas ... I Can't Feel My Feet

As some of you know (and most of you don't care) Miss Spoken was conceived, born and raised in San Francisco. And she loved it there. And she never wanted to leave. But it costs a quadrabillion dollars a month just to get by. And The Family was definitely not getting by. And so with an ultimatum in one hand and a crowbar in the other, Seltar convinced Miss Spoken that she could leave her heart in her beloved city, but her ass would be living in Reno (aka Babbleville).

[Dabbing tears and putting on a brave face]

Miss Spoken still thinks of San Francisco and sometimes writes her love letters and bakes her strawberry cupcakes. But for the most part, Babbleville is treating her and The Family just fine. And if she were really honest with herself (which she can be in enormously self depreciating ways) she would admit that, despite the devastating loss of Seltar, her and The Family are better than fine. Lots of bad habits were left in the City by the Bay. Like Legal's love for a gang banger, The Boy's uncontrollable urge to eat Sharpie markers and Boss Lady's propensity to throw kitty litter in the air like confetti.

But one thing has not been so easy to acclimate to and that is .... the weather.

Miss Spoken's roots and petals are used to a mild climate and the moderate temperature swings  delivered with a gentle hand by the Pacific Ocean. She likes her fog heavy and all-encompassing. That's why summers in Babbleville are spent at the pool sipping vodka and eating cubed fruit because otherwise she would wilt. Or turn into a harpy. And nobody likes a harpy. Especially one who's been drinking vodka.

But that was Summer and her calendar now says Winter. Miss Spoken is still not used to the concept of seasons. Did you know there are four of them? That's three more than she's accustomed to. And that's why there are still tank tops hanging in the closet and board shorts in the drawers. It's why the water wings and the inflatable seal that gushes a spray of water out it's nose, are still full of air. She can vaguely recall a commercial about space bags and putting away seasonal clothing, or was it a magazine that said something about white and Labor Day? She's not sure what to do so she does nothing. She is sure that when the snow comes, it will come in slow, delicate, dream-like flurries. She'll have plenty of time to prepare.

It's this novice mindset that sent her, along with Johnny Boy and The Family, to the Annual Sparks Hometowne Christmas parade completely unprepared. Johnny Boy was savvy enough to bring folding chairs and Miss Spoken knew enough to bring gloves and a hat. But that was about it. Two toe-numbing hours later, after hearing Kimberley Locke sing for about five seconds and after seeing no less than seventeen boy scout troops hurl frozen, broken candy canes into the crowd, Santa finally made an appearance. "Ho-ho- ho, Merry Christmas ... I can't feel my feet."

[Mental Note: Next year bring a chair that won't break during the middle of the parade, a thermos full of Irish coffee and some buffalo hides to keep warm]

And then Winter arrived in the form of something hideous called a Snow Day. And the slow, delicate, dream-like flurries look like this: