Fair-n-Height

It’s not that I’m opposed to onion rings, I just object to spending over ten dollars for five of them. Six, if the little one counts, which it does not.

Who does that?

The fam took it’s yearly pilgrimage to the county fair this week and I want to start by saying that I had a firm grip on reality this time.

This is how the fair looks in my fantasy world:

 

And this is how the fair really looks:

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Screaming, while they shake money out of your pockets.

The fair is not my favorite.

I make everyone begin at the barns because, chickens.

All about the attitude, baby.

All about the attitude, baby.

We said hello to Scooby Doo and Scrappy.

We said hello to Scooby Doo and Scrappy.

Mooove over, honey, I need a nap already.

Mooove over honey, I need a nap already.

My favorite flavor of fair.

The kids ran off (there are perks to them getting old enough after all) as Hubby and I wandered through endless displays of What We Need to Buy Immediately.

We needed massage chairs and wooden plaques carved with our family crest and oysters holding pearls and grooming brushes for dogs we don’t have and new cooking pans and a Vitamix blender which we do have and fancy humidifiers and elk jerky and Russian nesting dolls and a jacuzzi and glass bead jewelry and a rubber ball that splats flat on the ground and magically reforms into a sphere while you watch and it’s only four dollars and we should buy one for everybody because that’s pretty cool.

But we didn’t.

Because we had a plan.

The kids rejoined us when they saw us stride towards the edibles, which took some doing considering the sheer volume of humanity standing in lines, shrouded in thick smoke from the turkey leg tent.

Healthy food…at the fair? I don’t think so. I can eat corn at home.

Fair thee well, figure.

The onion rings were first, because this is California and not Louisiana and we deep fry our veggies, not our amphibians.

As mentioned, they were over ten bucks.

We each got one.

We proceeded to buy the foot-long-hot-dog-on-a-stick which measured from your elbow to your wrist, with the stick reaching beyond your fingertips. Everybody cut off a portion and tried the recipe, sauces on the side.

Next up was a half pineapple, hollowed out and filled with rice, pineapple chunks and teriyaki chicken. It was gone in a five minute furious fork fight.

Cinnamon roll smothered in cream cheese frosting was an obvious choice and then we broke down and got the deep fried cookie dough because we are only human.

The chocolate drizzles tipped us over the edge.

We staggered around in the fine arts building until the pain dissipated.

You’re wondering by now…what about the carnival? The million-lightbulbs-on-a-stick machine that screams, “Throw your money away here! Win a giraffe the size of your mama! Climb into a rickety contraption held together by paper clips and run by a teenager who hasn’t slept in days because this party never ends, even after the fair shuts down!”

Not gonna happen. If I want to risk my life by launching into space in a ball slung from a giant rubber band, I won’t be doing it after eating what we’d just consumed.

This is the Fair in 4D.

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Somewhere between the hypnotist, the rock band, and the tilt-a-whirl I ran out of steam.

I started looking up and away from the frantic reality and there was my fantasy, waiting patiently for me.

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And my fam couldn’t pull me away from the scream zone until my priceless souvenirs were tucked away safely in my memory.

The Forgetful Files Hotline

Hello and thank you for calling the Forgetful Files Hotline.

Your call is important to us.

Please choose from one of the following options, as our menu has recently changed.

To connect with the winning entry for our Father’s Day Writing Contest for Fame and Glory, please press ONE.

To hear the chirping crickets that came with that contest, because apparently Jolie has zero friends or perhaps all of her readers don’t actually have father-figures in their lives or maybe they don’t know how to type or probably they only kept the memories of when their dad caught them sneaking in after curfew and they just don’t think that’s funny, please press TWO.

To join Jolie in her Pity Party, please pour a cup of tea and press THREE.

For an explanation of why a fake entry wasn’t used to pretend there were at least two hundred entries submitted, even though Jolie can speak fluent “imaginary friend with a funny father story”, please press FOUR.

If you know your party’s extension and want to bring delicious flavor to it, please press FIVE.

To find out where Jolie and her dad spent Father’s Day, and to make sense of our recent Instagram photo, please press SIX.

If you would like some elevator music while you wait to be connected, please press SEVEN.

For a sneak preview of an upcoming blog subject, please press EIGHT.

If all you really wanted was five minutes out with the girls, because, seriously, if you had an extra ten minutes it wouldn’t be writing stories for a contest, please pour some pinot grigio, hide in the closet, and press NINE.

If you feel you have reached this number by mistake, please press TEN for verification.

Thank you for calling the Forgetful Files Hotline, and have a nice day.

 

Wedded Blitz

You can dance if you want to…we can leave your friends behind.

Cuz your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance, then they’re no friends of mine…

You can dance…

The wedding has finally come, and about time, too.

I’m not sleeping until I drop you a beat, er, blog, and hit the highlights for you.

Mostly, I could NOT stop taking photos of sparkles.

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Sunlight filtered through eucalyptus trees. Fizzy champagne flutes. The flash of dangling earrings.

Chandeliers in trees, in rooms, in the reception tent. There were twinkle lights in every leafy bower and hidden pathway and in the bride’s eyes.

There were scalloped-edged china, floating candles, calla lilies.

Exhausted parents, pleased as punch.

Extended family and friends from far away came in their finery and took part in a tradition as old as time: the Macarena.

You aren’t properly married until you pack your guests into a closet-sized area and watch them hop up and down with their hands waving wildly overhead.

And they won’t perform the ritual without the proper preliminaries, to wit:

Sit them in the sunshine of a warm summer day for an hour until softened. Ply them with finger foods and encourage them to visit the bar while endless rounds of wedding photos are made.

Once seated in the shade, have enough toasts to reduce even grandpa to slurry speech. Watch the group at table eleven begin to whistle and cheer before the speech ends. Admire that enthusiasm.

Serve a nice meal in order to separate the sheep from the goats. After eating, the sheep will wander off in search of barcaloungers and the goats will push back from the tables and start pronking.

The playlist had been chosen, so I was informed, to appeal to all of the generations present.

I observed the dancers for a while, judging the caliber of music by the articles of clothing that were discarded as the night wore on.

The eras wandered a bit. Everything from the 40s, 50s, and 60s were mildly received. The only thing set aside by the dancers was their cell phone.

The 70s came by and ties were loosened. Jackets landed on chair backs.

When the 80s showed up, some high heels were ditched.

After that, it was all jumping up and down and ties wrapped around foreheads and between the break-dancing and line dancing I managed to get in a slow dance or two with my sons who were competing with their sisters for square footage on the floor.

And believe me when I tell you, theirs are not small feet.

I had heard most of this music lately, but it had been a while since I’d seen my kids apply body motions to it.

My girlfriends and I watched in wonder as our kids busted moves I’d never seen before.

Some of the goats were kicking, for crying out loud.

That does NOT qualify as a dance move, I don’t care who you are.

“Let’s just copy what our kids are doing,” I hollered into my girlfriend’s ear.

The music was making up for lack of style with sheer volume.

I felt like I was playing double dutch, timing my entrance to the dance floor with the downbeats and praying I wouldn’t step left when the whole floor stepped right.

Upon successful entry, we proceeded to emulate what can only be described as a zombie getting tasered.

You throw your upper body backward, rocking it from side to side in a giant “Don’t touch me with that spider!” motion, while your arms flop back and forth from the elbow down only.

The rest of the time, we just hopped up and down in place while attempting to pound on the ceiling which counts as aerobics in my book.

Let them eat cake.

And the cake was lovely.

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I really have to sleep now. I’ve gone deaf in one ear. My feet are wondering why we went to the gym in heels. Hubby is wondering why I’m still up.

My fingertips are painted in champagne glitter and they look so pretty, flashing along the keyboard.

They just don’t want the party to end.

Earthquakes and Instagram

It was after a party on a late night in June. I had finally slipped deep into the REM cycle of one-in-the-am sleep, dreaming something about a parked car when it hit.

I went from sound asleep to standing beside my bed on high alert.

Both an earthquake and the sound of someone vomiting can do that to me.

The earthquake lasted long enough to force me into making a choice: do I assume this is just a drill and get back into bed or do I run to save the children because I hate the idea of them getting all squished when the roof falls in?

Hubby insists that I ran through the house shrieking while he stayed in bed wishing he had a camera to video the pool during those rolling thirty seconds.

I only wanted the kids to know that, had this NOT been a drill, the nearest exits are here and here and they should proceed calmly outside to our rendezvous area for a headcount.

You know, the basic emergency procedures necessary to not get squished in future disaster situations. Or blown up. Or drowned. Or trampled in an ant stampede.

Realizing we’d never made any, I compensated on the spot.

My youngest son slept through most of my riveting five minute lecture.

It would have saved me loads of time had I simply done first what I did next.

Facebook.

I have two sisters whose first thoughts during a disaster do not involve kids or cameras: they find their immediate stability in social media.

And that’s where they were when I looked for them.

Still in bed…but shrieking among their hundreds of online peeps.

I have to say, I was reassured immediately.

I knew they would not rest until the details were accounted for and future prognostication was thoroughly discussed and adrenaline levels compared and analyzed with the world-wide web.

The earthquake was safely in their tapping fingertips and I went back to sleep.

Alas, this is the world of my children.

They will sleep through the earthquake, wake up pinned to the floor, and start SnapChatting about it.

They will meet the rest of the family in virtual reality and be greatly comforted.

I will be standing outside, alone and in my jammies, wondering where to dig first.

As an added precaution, I have opened an Instagram account.

My kid sleeping in the bottom bedroom has one, and I’d like to be available in case he wants to give me coordinates.

In the meantime, I feel pretty hipster about having it.

Apparently, all the cool kids do it, but until someone walks me through it a few times, I feel like my dad when he first learned about computers (maybe a couple years ago):

“Jolie you’ve gotta help me here,” he hands me his tablet, two days after I’ve set him up with an email account, “I keep typing in my name and address like it says and it won’t get me anywhere!”

Well, that’s because it wants your email address. Not your house address.

It wants your user name, not your real one.

Instagram wants my life in single-frame references. Not in context.

My life reduced to hashtags.

#Idie #butihavestufftosay #momsarehiptoo

At least it stays put for a while, like a phone text, so you can figure it all out, whereas I hear that SnapChat vanishes into thin air.

Like an earthquake, you can’t even prove it happened.

#savethechildren #theskyisfalling #guacamolejo #theforgetfulfiles.com

 

Father’s Day Writing Contest for Fame and Glory

Let’s get this party started!

I’m hosting a writing contest for the next ten days, and the winner will have his or her story posted right here on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016. Get the rules below.

I’m extending it to actual Father’s Day, in case something happens on the 19th at the last minute and you just have to spill.

And also, so that the winning story will make you feel slightly better about your own Old Man.

I mean, if you knew that one of the family games in my youngest years involved stand-up improv in the living room, which involved my parents asking each child to act out a random word, and it always began with emotions (“Okay, now I want you to pretend you just got your very own puppy.”) and ended with awkward (“Right. So this time you have to be an appliance. You choose and we’ll try to guess what you are.”) then you wouldn’t roll your eyes so hard over the ways your own dad embarrassed you.

Riddle me this: have you ever pretended to be a blender, and did it so well that you brought down the house and ended up labeled for life?

I’m so thankful that television has evolved since then, and now you can watch other people do the blender on America’s Got Talent from the safe anonymity of your darkened couch.

So let’s have a laugh, or at least a groan. It’s short, have fun, play with it.

Rules to Win:

  1. Short and Includes a Dad: It must be 500 words or less and include something funny about or involving or somehow incriminating mentioning your dad. Moms, if you want to tell a “dad story” on your Hubby, that works. If you’re the dad in question and you pranked your kids, fine.
  2. Clean and Fun: Remember, not only is this a Rated G family blog but we want to laugh. As Dave Barry always said, “You can’t make this stuff up.”
  3. Full Disclosure: The dad in question must know what you’re submitting. Make sure you won’t be written out of his will if you tell the whole world-wide web about the time he pretended to be Santa, got stuck in the chimney, and the police had to pull him out. Make sure your marriage will remain intact. Trust me on this one.
  4. Fame and Glory: Oh, yes. Names are up to you. I recommend sticking to my method of never naming names, but I am happy to give your name full credit for the submission or keep you anonymous. Up to you. Let me know.
  5. Deets: Submit your entries starting now. Contest closes at midnight, San Diego time, on Sunday, June 19th, 2016. Judging will occur on Monday, June 20th. All entrants give me, the blogger, sole discretionary use of all submitted materials. Runners-up may be referred to in the June 21st blog and/or posted at a later time.
  6. How To: Click on my “Contact Me” page (above menu) and send in your entry. It’s easier to type up your story in any word document format, then copy/paste it into the comment box there. Leave your name and email so I can contact you back if you win. You can leave the “website” box empty.

When it’s in there, click “submit” and the whole thing will land in my laptop for judging.

I was sitting around in a group of friends one day, and my blog came up.

“Do you find,” asked one guy, “that people tend to behave themselves more than usual around you, now that you write? In case they end up in one of your stories?”

“Actually,” I replied, knowing exactly to whom I was speaking, “I find that they act up more than usual, in the hopes of making it into one of my posts.”

I let this sink in for a moment.

Then I said, “You know, the fame just calls to them.”

I continued, “Everyone wants to be noticed, but I’m pretty sure most are rather particular about what they’d like to be noticed for.”

One gentleman spoke up, “I really enjoy your stories.”

“Really?” I asked, “you read them all?”

“Well,” he replied, “I hear them all, which is a different thing. My wife sits across the table and makes me listen as she reads them.”

Oh.

“But,” he said in her defense, “I would just sit there and ask her what she’s reading and why she’s giggling and generally annoy her to bits otherwise, and apparently that’s not her version of a good time, so this is a fairly decent compromise.”

Well.

“Tell your wife that if there’s something on her mind that she needs you to hear, just let me know. I take requests.”

 

Summer Son #3

Some of the things my son and his buddy saw or did or heard or thought during their summer of backpacking from San Diego to Seattle will always remain untold.

Most of what we live, does.

Unless you journal or blog or Facebook or photograph, I suppose most of our lives go by in a blur and a blink. And for most folks, that’s okay. We are busy living lives, and stopping to record it is a distraction.

This life experience, though, it was meant to be shared. It was meant to be discussed around campfires and pondered across the universe and with strangers on street corners while sitting on your baggage and holding out your thumb.

You learn about how other people view this thing called living and the impossible variety of ways that they pull it off. You form your own always-changing perspective and opinions, and because you are free-floating upstream, you don’t take yourself or the next guy too seriously.

The boys met the “regular bums” of each town they passed through. They watched the bums take shifts on popular street corners with their signs, sitting in wheelchairs or holding crutches and gathering hand-outs. They watched them return to the haven under the bridge and remove the casts that were unbearable in the heat but worked so well for sympathy.

The boys listened as the forgotten men complained over and over about their lot in life, and watched as nothing ever came of it. The men would talk about an aunt sending them money or winning a million dollars soon and that living like this was not their fault and they were going to make it big any day now. They cycled between excused discontent and wild optimism but had neither the will nor the plan to change it. Actually believing their own delusions, they woke up every day and hit the “repeat” button.

Perhaps the forgotten men had forgotten themselves somewhere along the way.

But not everyone was a charlatan.

Some were actually disabled. Some were mentally ill. Some were mentally fried from previous drug use. There was a reason they were living on the street, and there didn’t seem to be any expectancy that their lives would change in any other direction.

They met tweakers, – who were homeless or not – and who, you must know, “are the worst thing ever to run into”. Apparently, you don’t see them coming until you’re close enough to hear them talking, which they will do nonstop until you walk away. Their movements are agitated, their faces have been around the block a few times, and they want whatever you have but if you try to interact with them, they are simply full of angry random words.

Meth leaves nothing but the shadow of what the human might have been.

They met the train kids. Much like Peter Pan’s lost boys, they live completely anonymous lives and don’t have a string tied to anywhere or anyone. Comparatively, our hitch-hiking boys were playing mini-golf in the backyard and these train kids were playing the masters at Augusta.

Gutter punks live hard and deliberately. They pay no mind to weather, they know everything about the railroad system, and they fly solo. Tattoos, dreadlocks, dirt and discomfort are trademarks. They have no names, no social security numbers, and no bad attitudes. ‘Just passing through’ is their lifestyle; although they are happy to set up camp and share stories of the road with you, they are just as happy to pack up and drift off the next morning with a philosophical wave.

Once in a while, our boys ran into them again in other cities.

It was like a reunion.

But just for a day.

The city is not the only place humanity wanders.

There are communities of transient camps in the forests, too. They aren’t putting up cabins and homesteading, they are tenting or sleeping under the stars. Some found areas to linger in and keep marijuana farms, which I imagine is a modern way of raising crops to trade in the city for your food and blankets. Some are single or with a spouse and child, just barely living off the land and traveling where and when the spirit leads them.

They seem content.

Pursuing happiness doesn’t always involve white picket fences.

But it’s nice if you have choices to work with.

When the sepia summer faded into fall, rain arrived in Seattle.

My son went over his options and decided to come home.

Because he could.

A Little Note on the Present

This week’s winner of our CozyPhones headphones Give-Away is Ruth, from Simi Valley!

Congratulations, Ruth, your headphones are hopping your way this very moment.

And a big thank you to everyone who participated, that was so much fun.

Today is Friday, and although a great many blogs are in my head, I think we’ll be short and sweet and deliciously in the present moment.

So often I have fun bragging on the tough stuff, if only to remind us all that the golden moments shared on Facebook are only the brilliant bits between the daily grind of traffic, hairballs gifted by the cat, refrigerators full of mystery leftovers, and dirty socks hidden under the car seat from three volleyball games ago.

I wondered what that smell was.

Today was a gift.

I got to see my sons because high school is finally out for the summer. They haven’t changed a bit. They walked around the house, remembering when they used to live here.

Then they went to the beach.

I got a haircut (or my eyebrows lowered, however you choose to view it) and my product-wielding girlfriend reminded me that I could work long shifts during the week and still have a little sass left over for the weekend. Just barely.

My main squeezin’ Hubby and I went out this morning and had sugar with sugar on top for breakfast with a side of liquid sugar, because this cute little cake shop moved into town and they aren’t about to serve acai bowls. Or bee pollen. Or veggie cakes. No. Eat your sugar America!

I was a wee bit jittery thereafter and went to my massage appointment to meditate on my life choices. I burn a lot of calories just listening to the rehab mood music. I felt the sugar melt right off again.

It’s all about balance.

I even called my mother today. Boom.

At the moment, I’m sitting with my little tatertot as she sleeps, waiting for her mom and dad to come home from a much-deserved date night. The kid and I have missed each other and we had some catching up to do. We chatted about her soon-to-be-here baby brother and we worked on her big-sister sass.

She’s got what it takes, I think.

I sit here this evening, grateful and content.

The month of June kicked off with a fifth-grade play, a birthday and a baptism, then stampedes through two graduations, a wedding, Father’s Day, a baby, and a two-week family road trip to Victoria, Canada that will swing it right past the fourth of July.

Don’t blink. You’ll miss it.