Posts filed under Livin la Vida Loca

Who holds Who hostage?

Have you seen the movie Up in the Air?  You know, the one with George Clooney where he travels around and fires people.  It’s a great movie, you should see it!  Anyways, in the movie George’s character looooves the business travel and you know what, so do I. I like the duvets at the hotel and the people who great me as if I’m dignitary “How can I help you Ms. Perez? Is everything to your liking?”

Uh, YEAH it’s to my liking!  Que viva the hotel life!

I also love meeting random people and especially cab drivers.  I have no idea why but I really enjoy making friends with drivers: that is after I’ve determined they are not going to kill me. I’m very paranoid and generally think people are trying to kill me.

For example, Tuesday when I was returning to the airport I was convinced that my cabdriver was going to kidnap me and steal my laptop.  I had already decided that I was the future victim of some underground San Diego-Somali cab driver ring when he started playing Mariah Carey.  For some reason this snapped me out of my delusion, I mean obviously no kidnapper is going to sing you some “We belong together” before he stuffs you in the trunk.

I know, obviously I’m crazy. I feel for the cab drivers.

After I felt confident that I would live to see the airport I set about making friends because when I am not busy planning how to escape a hypothetical kidnapping I am very busy blah-blah-blahing at people.

It’s actually more like I kidnap them with my non-stop babble.

Most of the time they are totally down to chat, especially the drivers in Atlanta.  I love the ATL drivers.  The last one I trapped was the best.   Somehow in the 25 minute ride to the airport we started talking about our beliefs regarding the afterlife.  Mr. Felip believes that it’s important to do our best but that God is also forgiving, so dont' worry about giving up too much fun.

He also believed that I should not stop to get Sweet Potato Pancakes from the Highland Bakery because I would be late.  He was wrong and we got into quite the verbal  altercation, it almost derailed our 25-minute friendship.  I won because I am the queen of the world! I mean… the customer. (I mean really insistent about food) Regardless of our differences, I had to resist the urge to hug him when he dropped me off.

Cut to me at the airport.  Bye. Bye. Mr. Felip. I'll see you, well never.  (Sniff)

How about you guys?  Do you like business travel?

Posted on November 1, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

A tale of two Shakiras

10 years ago I was belting out Ojos Asi admist an ocean of Chileans on the field of Santiago’s Estadio Nacional.  It was the year 2000 and I was studying abroad: getting to see Shakira in concert was one of many extracurricular "perks". I've been a Shakira fan since high school, as a true lover of creative weirdos she's always been right up my alley.  The first CDs I bought were Smashing Pumpkins and Pies Descalzos.  I was beyond psyched to see her in concert: her voice is truely amazing live.

I like to credit Shakira for at least half of my Spanish vocabulary. When I was in high school I was inexplicably obsessed with learning Spanish so I translated all the lyrics to her first two albums via dictionary.  I don’t mean Internet dictionary, we didn’t have that miracle back then. I sat down with my paperback dictionary and looked up every single word I didn’t know.

Ojerosa, flaca, fea, desgreñada, torpe, tonta, lenta, necia, desquiciada, completamente descontrolada, tu te das cuenta y no me dices nada - Ciego sordamuda

Let me tell you Shaki has a big vocabulary, and thanks to her so do I.

Last Tuesday when I went to see her at Arco Arena, not 10 minutes from my house it was a little surreal.  Belting out those same songs a decade later, my life is unimaginably changed. 10 years ago I was a young college student studying abroad, hopelessly lovesick for the new boyfriend she left behind. Now I’ve been married to that same man for eight and a half years and we have a son. And as I stood in the stands screaming “Viva Colombia!” in a sea of amused Mexicans I had a “moment”.

I realized that we adopted a child from Colombia.

You’d think that I would’ve gotten over it by now, but the thing is I'm tired all the time lately. I use all my emotional reserves to shore up the patience required for a high-energy toddler. I don't have it in me to perform extensive analysis of my current reality.   This leads to weird moments when I realize what I should already know: holy crap, my immediate family are all Colombians.

Self-reflection is apparently what I do at Shakira concerts.

Si es cuestion de confesar no se preparar cafe y no entiendo futbol - Inevitable

2010 has been the hardest year of my life: sometimes I've felt like I wasn't going to make it through.    Last week our social worker came over for a post-visit and she said "Wow, you guys look tired." "Do we look that bad?" I said 1/2 dissapointed that my front wasn't working and 1/2 relieved to not have to try to keep it up. "Well" she said "I remember what you were like before and...( at this point Elian started trying to remove her glasses while shouting "No, Pam, NO!") well he's really a lot for first time parents to handle."

Everybody knows that parenting is exhausting, thankless work so I’ll try not to whine on forever about how I’m tired. I am though: I am tired of the screaming and kicking, I'm tired of not enough sleep, I'm tired of feeling like a failure all the time and I'm over bursting into tears at inopportune moments. As Elian adjusts and we get the hang of things it's been getting better but sometimes the exhaustion really breaks us.

I've been battered over the last year and I was sure that reminscing on my time in Chile would make me wistful but I felt the opposite: I was totally overcome with gratitude for everything I have now. Studying abroad was an irreplacable and formative experience but I was desperately lonely during that time.  I was homesick and lovesick: a bad combination. That semester made me who I am today and is probably one of the reasons that Arnold and I got married but it was a hard journey.

Mis días sin ti son cómo un cielo sin lunas plateadas ni rastros de sol. Mis días sin ti son sólo un eco que siempre repite la misma canción - Moscas en la Casa

Last Tuesday as Shaki and I had our once a decade in-person reunion I saw the younger verison of myself and felt grateful for the battles I no longer have to fight. I may be tired but I am not alone in a sea of strangers.  I knew at the end of this concert I wouldn't be heading back to sleep in a bunk-bed at a freezing-cold boarding house, I would be returning to the cozy home I share with my husband and son.

Un dia despues de la tormenta, cuando menos piensas sale el sol. - Sale el sol

Sometimes living out your dream is so challenging you think it will break you but other times your heart is so full you can't imagine that it hasn't grown three sizes.  Last Tuesday I thought I would burst, my joy was so complete.  To release the pressure I screamed with pride for my family’s paisana until I lost my voice and when the party was over I went home to my family: to the man I was heartsick for all those years ago and to the little boy who's breaking my heart so that I can build a stronger one.

Posted on October 25, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Love in front of us

Where would any of us be without teachers-without people who had passion for their art or their science or their craft and they loved it right in front of us?  What would any of us have done without teachers passing on to us what they knew was essential about life? -Fred Rogers

Posted on October 13, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

7:26 pm - October 1st

Last Friday I opened my e-mail to find a message that said "I think I'm in the early stages of labor.... shhhhhh..." I am the kind of person who, if I was in labor might start randomly telling passersbys on the street the length of my contractions but the friend who sent this to me is not. Unlike me she is reserved and has common sense, so when I got the message I felt privileged.

Participating in the privacy of a magic moment is a blessing indeed.

Not one to receive such e-mails and serenely keep them to myself  I decided to call my friend up.  Having never been in labor myself I wasn't sure that was appropriate but if you've been friends with someone since you were 12 you don't worry too much about manners, you worry about accompanying them through important moments.  You worry that things will go well.

You worry that if you wait more than 5 seconds the window will close.

So I called and like all conversations that happen when something big is about to go down it was slightly surreal. Did it hurt?  Yes, quite a bit.  Was she happy it was finally here?  Yes. Did I blabber on about how exciting and scary it was? Of course, see note above about how I can't shut up.

So we chatted a bit through her every three minute contractions and then I thought, "I should get off the phone, it seems like she needs to go have a baby and all".  So we said goodbye and I sat down and let myself cry a bit because when I'm excited, or worried, or happy, that's what I do.

All three emotions at once equals a perfect storm for a cry.

When I got myself together and wrapped my head around the enormity of what was about to happen I sat down and wrote this post because I want this little one to know how very much she was loved and blessed even before she made her appearance in the world.

************************

Maya, before you were born you were created special and unique by God.  You were imagined up and planned for and brought into the world with unlimited hope and anticipation.  When you are older there will be moments when you will wonder if you are loveable, if you are special.  You will wonder if you mean something.

I want to tell you now the answer to all those questions is: absolutely yes.

You are beautifully and wonderfully made, a shining star in the constellations and  the twinkle in your parent's hearts.  I know this because  on October 1st at 7:26 pm , 12 hours before you made your way into this world there was a group of people waiting for you with baited breath and you are so special that each one and every one of them loved your fiercely without needing to know who you were.

Love, Tia Emily

Posted on October 4, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Wake me up when September ends

I always want to love September: it’s my birthday month after all. As a kid I always did, the nerd in me rejoicing in back to school clothes and Trapper-Keeper shopping. September used to symbolize my birthday, the return of hanging out with my friends at school every day and limitless possibilities. I think it’s time to confess though that I fear that adulthood has killed September for me. My Mom, my husband and one of my closest friends are school teachers so now September =stress for my nearest and dearest. This year September meant the introduction to preschool which = never-ending colds, anxious nightmares every night and an exhausted toddler who fights his way through the 5-7 pm hour. In short September sucked but now it’s over and we made it through alive. Survival is always something to celebrate, non?

In October I want to wake up. October means a baking class enticingly entitled “Chocolate for breakfast”, the birthday celebrations of three of my good friends, the arrival of a very special infant, a sing-along with Shakira and two weekend trips. October means Elian’s first Halloween with us, pumpkin carving and watching the neighborhood turn golden with ginkgo leaves.

September I’ll always have a special place for you in my heart but we need to take a break.

October. Here I come.

Posted on September 30, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Does it piss me off or make me proud?

My little one is so cute, right?  I know you all agree because you leave me comments to that effect all the time.  (BTW-I appreciate them!)  In addition to being cute he is also loud, stubborn and prone to never-ending temper tantrums.  I can't say I love this aspect of his current personality/development stage/violent self-expression.  It is very challenging for me because I am a control-freak. Also it's challenging because he is a terrible twos role model.  Sometimes I wonder if maybe I should set him up to be some kind of keynote speaker for other two-year olds.  I can just seem him with a little PowerPoint presentation saying things like "The Importance of Pushing Boundaries".

He is so adept at being difficult that he has the ability to drive So-Patient-He-Should-Be-Canonized-Arnold to the edge.  I mean it's awesome to come home to a little one who ends up throwing a banana peel at you because you didn't take it to the garbage quickly enough.  Right?  Right? And who isn't happy to have someone throw a duplo car at their face because the pool pump broke and we can't go swimming today?

At his 2 year old physical our doctor sent us home with a flyer about toddlers it started like this "Some parents find this stage difficult."

I was like "Yeah, no shiz Sherlock"

So yeah, it's an old story.  Toddlers are difficult.  Parents don't like tantrums... except that sometimes I do.

Don't get me wrong, I don't ever enjoy dealing with the tantrums.  We endeavor endlessly to teach him how to express himself in polite, reasonable ways.  The sheer amount of energy this takes is alarming.  Every night Arnold and collapse like zombies after navigating the danger zone of 5-7 pm.

Secretly though, when he's in bed and I've recovered from the day I feel a sort of demented pride.  I don't like the throwing, the hitting or the endless screaming but I do like the idea that even at 2 he's trying to stand up for himself.  I hope that when he's an adult he won't be like me, always fighting against the urge to constantly please others.  I hope that when he is my age and someone treats him badly he'll politely remember why God gave him a middle finger and know when to leave bad situations.  I hope that he'll always know that his opinons and needs are just as valid as other peoples.

He pisses me off but he also makes me proud.

PS-Don't remind me about this post if you see me struggling to discipline him one day.  Cause then I'd be forced to follow my son's example and throw a banana at your face!

PPS-Back tomorrow with a new entry into The Creatives series.  Yay!

Posted on September 27, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Not Ready for Anything let alone Everything

One year ago today I was sitting at my desk getting ready for a day of work.  When the phone rang I groaned inwardly.  Who starts making business calls before one can even check their e-mail?  I picked up my phone and the person on the other end said "Hi Emily. This is Janet.  Are you ready to become a mother?" And then my heart temporarily stopped.

Everything started moving really slow and incredibly fast at the same time.

"Uh, I'll call you right back." I stuttered.

I slammed the phone down, keeled over at my desk and did my best not to hyperventilate.

I was not ready, our application had only been approved one week earlier.

I was not ready for an early morning phone call at work let alone a life-changing revelation.

I was not ready to open an e-mail attachment and see the very first picture of the little boy who would become the dictator of my existence love of my life.

I was not ready for any of it and I was alone.  Arnold had already started his school day and there would be no way to contact him until 3:00 pm.

I asked myself "Is it wrong to tell your co-workers before you tell your husband?"

Probably.

The day was pure torture. Needless to say I didn't do anything at work.  Not unless you count taking bi-hourly breaks to go outside, lay down on a bench and watch the sky expand to limitless possibility.  To lay there and try to understand that your life as you knew it had changed forever.

And you never saw it coming.

A year ago I was not ready for anything and today 365 days later I am living everything.

Posted on September 16, 2010 and filed under Adoption, Livin la Vida Loca.

9.9.09

Note: Imaginary Vacation will be back next week!

Dear Elian,

Last year on this day you looked like this:

Awwww sweetheart you were so cute!  Last year on this day I looked like this!  Less cute than you, but I do my best.

On that day I was blogging about silly things.  I'm guessing that you were smiling and shrieking because that's what you do best.  Beyonce was doing this. Beyonce has nothing to do with us but you know, a little Beyonce usually doesn't hurt anybody.

Anyways.

Unbeknownst to both of us a group of strangers in Bogotá gathered in a room and decided that you, me and Papa would make a great family. They moved some magic papers around and put us on the road to becoming a family.

I am so grateful to those people who we will probably never meet.  You are everything that we never knew we needed and wanted in our lives.

I love you more than you will ever know.

Un beso,

Mama

Posted on September 8, 2010 and filed under Adoption, Livin la Vida Loca.

Drinking Games

Yesterday was a bit heavy, no?  To even things out I'll say that if unmet expectations are one of life's cruelties then unexpected joy is one its blessings.
I came home a few days ago and Arnold told me "Let me show you what men do" and then he played this video.  I did my best to let go of my expectation that Arnold would not give Elian our fancy glasses. ;)
[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.962937&w=425&h=350&fv=clip_id%3D14050708%26server%3Dvimeo.com%26autoplay%3D0%26fullscreen%3D1%26md5%3D0%26show_portrait%3D0%26show_title%3D0%26show_byline%3D0%26context%3D%7Cnewest%26context_id%3D%26force_embed%3D0%26multimoog%3D%26color%3D00ADEF%26force_info%3Dundefined]

Chugging Yogurt, posted with vodpod

Note: Thank you to each of you who sent me notes re: yesterday's blog.  I appreciate all of your kind words and encouragement.

Posted on August 31, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca, Nothing to Do with Anything.

When the Night has come

Have I ever told you that Elian is an awesome sleeper? I know it's like winning the kid lottery.  The kid sleeps like a champion.

Or he did...

...until a few weeks ago when he woke up wailing hysterically around 10 pm.  Not the fussy "I woke up and can't get back to sleep cry", the "I am going to have a panic attack if you don't come get me now" cry. These are technical terms of course.  I would know, I've read a crapload of parenting books. 

This is also why I know what had arrived:  The dreaded night terrors.  Apparently nightmares start around age 2.

It really broke my heart.  He was so upset he scratched up his face before he was able to wake up.  And although we never do this I picked him up out of his crib to comfort him.

Why do we never pick him up?

Because it had never helped.

When we first became a family he would scream and kick violently every time we tried to rock him to sleep.  In the middle of the night he would whimper his foster mother's name softly, his tiny voice piercing the night.   It was heart-wrenching to love him so much and not be able to make things better.  So we decided to give him space.  We would lie down next to him and say "It's okay, we're right here.  You're not alone" until he could calm down and go to sleep. It worked a lot better but it was hard to not try to hug away the tears.

Last week though I couldn't resist.  My resolve was nothing compared to those screams that shatter your heart.  I picked him up and held him tight.  I sat down on the bed and said "It's okay, Mama's here.  Siempre estoy aqui para amarte y protegerte"  I kissed his forehead and mentally prepared myself for the possibility of a hysterical fit.

But instead...

I felt a tiny body relax against me.  I heard gulpy sobs give way to contented sighs.  I felt a racing heart slow to a sleepy thump.  I felt the weight of my little one falling asleep peacefully in my arms for the very first time.

**********************

I think one of the hardest parts of life is the constant shedding of your dreams and expectations.  Over the past few years I've had to let go of many expectations: that I would be able to have biological children, that I would get to carry on my family bloodline, that I would see my child's first steps, that I would hear his first word, that when I picked him up in the middle of the night my presence would bring him peace.  One by one I've struggled to let them go as fate ripped them from my fingers and then I do my best to forget they existed.  I don't want them returning to break my heart again. 

Expectations are cruel little beasts.  You don't even realize they are there until they betray you.

Once you let them go though, you begin to escape their tyranny.  You're able to see everything you have when they are no longer taunting you with what you've lost.  And when a dream indefinitely deferred comes true in the middle of a scary night, long after you've lost hope, you can hold it tight.  You can release silent tears on its tiny head while you cradle its impossible sweetness.  And then when you are ready, in your own time, you'll see that everything you lost was the reason that you appreciate everything you found.

Posted on August 30, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Agua

I think I've mentioned before that Elian loooooooooves to ask for water.  It's "Agua, agua, agua" all day long.  He especially loves to ask for it when there's none available.  He has a sixth sense about these things.  It's kind of like when your about to board a plane and the knowledge that you won't get to use the bathroom for a few hours makes you hysterical.  That's him and "agua". Agua=life

The kid is driving us batty asking for agua.  We say "Yes, we'll get some soon", and "yes I understand you want agua"  We say it over and over in long, tedious, agua-only-conversation jags.  We plug our ears as he screams "Aguuuuuuuuuua" at us hysterically in the car.  We curse the NPR DJ who deigned to play a Spanish song whose only lyric was "Take me to the water" during one of the worst "Aguuuuuaaaa" break-downs ever.  We suffer the indignity of people glaring at us all the time "What kind of parents won't even give their kid water?" I stifle the urge the shake them and scream "He doesn't really want water.  He just drank the ocean five minutes ago."

It's us against the agua people.

Agua is our sunrise, sunset and dreams.

Last night when Arnold and I crashed into bed I wasn't really surprised to hear him say "I have a story about agua." 

I took Elian for a walk and I packed a cup of water but I saved it for after the playground because I knew that's when he would be most thirsty.  We walked to the park and he asked for agua the whole way.  Then we had a drink at the drinking fountain and played. Then we started the walk back and he was like "Agua, agua, agua, agua" and I'm like "Yeah, here comes agua!"   The second I gave him agua, he gave it back to me and said ... jugo?

Jugo means juice.

Sometimes I really miss agua.

Posted on August 23, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

We count only blue cars

10-year-old Russell wistfully memories of sitting on the curb counting blue cars with his Dad is one of the hardest scenes of the movie Up.  His father is no longer a part of his life and the simple way he tells Carl how much he loved counting cars with his Dad cuts to your heart.  You remember how you desperately longed for your parent's attention and love as a child.  You   You see how much this little guy needs his Dad. The Dad who left him behind.

It's heartbreaking really.

I think of that movie a lot because it's difficult for me to sit and count the blue cars.  It's just so boring.  I really like hanging with teenagers and chatting with older kids but I find the put the blue square in the yellow box game incredibly tedious.  Elian wants me to sit on the floor and watch him play all the time and I hate it. We've had many a war over my refusal to sit with him hour upon end.

I would love to sit and read a book with him or even color, but no... he wants to open the box.  Close the box.  Open the box. Close the box.  Open the box.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

I try to comply.  Really I do.  I think of the little boy who just wants to count cars with his Dad and I will myself to sit down on the floor.  I tell myself it's fun!  And occasionally it is, but mostly it's boring and I just sit there wishing I was washing the dishes and feeling guilty that I'm letting this time slip by.  I know there will be moments not long from now when I'll long for him to settle into my lap and proudly show me how he opened the box.

It's like flossing.  I know I should do it more regularly but I just don't want to. I dread playtime and there's nothing like a magic mix of boredom, frustration, laziness and guilt.

Last week though, I had an "epiphany".  Perhaps as the adult in this relationship I could introduce activities that could be fun for both of us.  Perhaps my toddler does not control the world?

Say it with me now.  Duh.

So now we are going to swimming lessons.  I've got a split lip from a flailing head-butt to show for it but its way worth the price for quality time.  And I've introduced many a game I find "fun" like "Let's sort the laundry", "Clean the closet" and "Fold the sheets".  Parenting 101 I know, but I never said I was good at this stuff, only that I'd do my best.

Maybe we're not counting blue cars but nothing beats his enthusiasm while scurrying between the laundry basket and his bed, skipping as he hand-carries each of his teeny-tiny shirts to his room.  I love to see him tripping with excitement at the prospect of "laundry time"

What is better than the shriek of delight he rewards me with for turning on the closet light? Only the wide-eyed "ooooooooh" he coos while breathlessly examining the contents of the linen closet.  One day we'll head to Fenton's to count blue cars but until then we'll be singing Kookabura in the pool and folding laundry all summer long.

Posted on August 16, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Adding to his repetoire

Elian is starting preschool next week.  We went to visit his school last week and he loved it but still I'm nervous.  I'm not ready!  I want him to be a big boy who talks and uses the toilet but I want my baby too.  Where did my baby go?  Who is this little monster that screams "Noooooooooooo!" all day long. Why can't I have it all?

I had to work out this conundrum via e-mail with my friend Renee.

MLE:  Elian is starting preschool soon.  I think I'm going to have a nervous breakdown. I'm not ready.

Renee:  My daughter is taking her DRIVING test next week.  Just hold it together until you get out of the school.  Then go to the parking lot, get out your Les Miserables CD and crank up "I dreamed a dream"

MLE:  Did I ever tell you that my Mom once cried while listening to that song on the way to school.  We made fun of her forever!

Renee:  Of course you did.  Everything comes full circle.  You know, like the Lion King.

MLE:  Sometimes we hold up Elian above our heads and yell "Simba!" for fun. 

MLE:  It's a little weird over at Casa Perez.

Renee:  That's okay.  You're just adding to his repertoire of crazy family stories.

Posted on August 9, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Cake-Break School Style

Remember how I promised to tell you about the Ginger Elizabeth baking class?
Yeah, I know that was a long time ago.  Oops.  It's a pity too because I feel like that baking class changed my life!  Well, my baking life anyways.  I've never been a baker.  I'm not a perfectionist so all that exact measuring is a challenge but after the class I feel bold!  I can do it!  I can follow Ginger's precise step by step recipes for delicious cupcake-heaven.  I can totally make three different types of filled cupcakes.  Cower before me vanilla beans that will be split and scraped!!!
All gross exaggerations aside the class was great.  Ginger is a friendly and helpful teacher. She needn't have been. After she gave her biography her credentials alone made me ready to do headstands for her.  Among all the regular stuff she worked with Jacque Torres in NYC.  Also her husband worked a at a little restaurant in Napa called the French Laundry.
Please adopt me Ginger.
Can you imagine meal time at that house?  Their kid is the luckiest ever.

Mom, me and Em at Ginger Elizabeth Cupcake Class

Ginger Elizabeth Samples

Ginger Elizabeth cupcake demonstration

Ginger Elizabeth cupcake class

Ginger Elizabeth Cupcakes

Posted on August 3, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca, Maghanoy Madness.

Chronicle of a Crisis Foretold

Last week I went to San Francisco to present at a professional conference for work but for the purposes of this blog let's say I went to the city to eat.  Anyways I was going to the city and I was having a bad day.  You know one of those days when you are barely holding things together and you know that you are going to burst into tears if any little thing goes wrong? Yeah it was like that.

So it was in this state that I got to the Bay Bridge toll booth and found out that the rates had not been raised to $5 but rather $6.

I had $5.25.

That's when the grumpy toll both attendant informed me that since I was 75 cents short I was going to get a ticket for $31 in the mail.  Needless to say I wasn't ready for this information after having carefully and specifically packed $5 for the bridge.

The toll both attendant was a middle-aged black woman.  This detail is important.  Remember it.

You understand that this was the small crisis.  I start flipping out tearing apart my car to find 75 cents even though I know in my heart of hearts there is no spare change.  Still I flail about hysterically, ripping everything out of the glove compartment and dumping out my suitcase white the attendant watches me.  She is equal parts annoyed and irritated.

I meanwhile am working my way into a panic attack.  And let me tell you I have the opposite of a poker face.  When I am upset, most people in a mile radius can tell.  Once I had a professor in college tell me to go home the second I crossed the threshold of his classroom.

So I'm tearing up the car and fighting off the tears and holding up traffic on the bridge when the attendant says "Are you having a bad day or something?"

If the words are nice, her tone was not... she said it in exactly the same way my Dad used to threaten us when we cried "Oh you're crying?  I'll give you something to cry about"

Instead of answering her question I start babbling about a receipt.  She rolls her eyes at me and says "Give me your five dollars and get out of here."  She did not say this kindly but her act of mercy was too much for me.

I immediately started bawling.  I spewed, crazy, gulpy, hiccupy, snotty gratitude at her.  "Tha-uam-knk You, so mu-u-u-u-u-uch" I say.  She looks at me as if I am the world's greatest burden which quite frankly to a toll attendant I am.  I've blocked her lane for an eternity.

She sighs deeply, my incompetence weighing her down and pissing her off and says "Take your receipt and tell 'em the black lady treated you good."

That is a verbatim quote.

And now I am holding up my end of the bargain.  I'm telling you my blog family that I am very, very, very grateful to that black lady at the Bay Bridge toll both.  She treated me good!

Posted on August 2, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Work it Out

I always hated exercise.  I mean really.  Who likes to exercise?  Wasting time sweating and feeling uncomfortable when one could be watching Food Network?  Not.for.me.  No Thank you. And then I started exercising a little.  You know for vanity.  For health! To not get fat!  You know, all the normal reasons.   But even though I did it, I couldn’t see myself as an exercise person.  You know the ones who are all fresh-faced and enthusiastic at the gym.  They just can’t miss their daily workout!  Blech.

So there I am exercising regularly and quite grumpily.  Like a blister though, exercise started to get to me… and then the final blow.  I became a Mom.

And now I know why some people love exercising.  Because it’s not restful at their home.   Because they need the endorphins for stress relief. If I go home I’m not going to be lying down on the couch if I’m tired.  I’m going to be wrestling with a willful toddler.  I will be picking him up.  Putting him down.  Picking him up.  Putting him down. Picking him… you get the idea.

So now I love exercise.  I love the gym.  I go everyday.  I swim in the morning with the elderly.   They aquacize around me like dolphins: benevolent guardians of our morning ritual.

I step in the water each morning and swim, swim, swim: cutting through the water until exhausted I walk out feeling clean and calm.  A little baptism to start the day.

And I attend insane fitness classes where the instructor screams at us like some kind of deranged drill sergeant.  “The biggest losers don’t’ do push-ups on their knees!  Get TO IT!”   And instead of resentment I feel a sort of gentle affection towards my abuser.  I run. I kick box.  I downward facing dog.  I do whatever to help beat down the stress because exercise exhausts and calms you.

I admit I still despise the girls at the gym who have the audacity to first run, then kick box and THEN attend boot camp. Yeah, people, that’s how you get their perfect bodies.  You eat really, really clean and exercise two hours a day.  Or you can do crack.

I’ve decided against those options.  I choose to be a happy law-abiding chubby bunny, eating too many cupcakes and watching too many sitcoms.

So I don't look like a gym rat, but my heart is healthier and stronger in both the physical and emotional senses. And it helps me be a better Mom.  Exhausted by one too many “non-girly” push-ups I can handle it better when my picky toddler throws soup at the wall or kicks me for having the audacity to not let him jump off the couch and crack his head.  I can look at him and think, “I know it’s frustrating buddy, you are a little person in a big scary world” instead of “WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO SEND ME OVER THE EDGE YOU MINI DICTATOR!”

And every tiny bit of extra patience I can give to my little boy, to my husband, to those I love is worth so much more than the hour I sacrificed to earn it.

P.S.  I'm also over at Raising Colombian Kids.  Today I'm talking about the hard times that led me to become and "excerciser". Check it out here.

Posted on July 12, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

Out of the mouths of teenagers

Have I mentioned that I worry?

Yeah, I worry a lot.  I've always been a worrier.  I worry about lawsuits and trees falling and about cancer... of course.  For the most part worrying is a gigantic, big, fat waste of time and I know this, but I can't stop.  Worrying gives me a sick sense of control over things.  If I consider all the terrible possibilities I will somehow be more prepared for them when they happen.

Or so I reason....

This however is also very stupid.  Before Arnold got hit by a car biking to work I (obviously) worried that it would happen. And it did.  My worrying did not prevent this event.  It just induced intense guilt that I had suggested the bike-riding.

So yeah, worrying=stupid.

But now I have the biggest worrisome challenge of my life.  Raising a child.  Giving him what he needs.  Not effing him up. You know the drill, is he healthy? Happy? Wholesome ?  Will he turn out to be a good person? I've given up worrying about other things to focus all my anxieties on my child's well-being.  Worrying about him is a full-time job people!

So I was out with some friends the other day asking them various worry-based Mommy questions.  I'm new at this so I had to recruit some veterans.  My friends gave their opinions and we discussed various issues and it was good.  And after we'd talked and analyzed and swapped strategies my friend's 16-year old daughter piped up and said:

"You know what?  I don't think you should worry.  You just have to do your best.  I chose to be a good kid.  In the end kids will choose who they want to be.  It doesn't matter that much what you do."

And you know what, she's right.  With all due respect to both of her parents who love her dearly and gave her everything they had, this young woman has faced some hard knocks very early in life.  She weathered both her parents divorce and her father's untimely death.  She has been dealt some intense challenges at a young age and she is a  GREAT kid.  She is the kind of kid you look at and say "Oh that one day my child will be like her".

And not only is she a good person, she's smart too.  You can kill yourself worrying about everything, but that's stupid,  a waste of time really.   So now I'm trying my best to follow Akaylah's advice:  I'm doing my best not to worry and asking God to help me do my best.  The rest is up to my little dinosaur.

Posted on June 21, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.

The Paris Hilton of Wordpress

Yesterday was a pretty exciting day for me.  I was featured on the WordPress homepage which brought in a huge amount of traffic.  HUGE!  I always tell myself that hits don't matter, that writing and blogging is something that you because you love it...all of which is true but I just got to say it... I GOT OVER 1000 hits yesterday.  On Wednesday I was INTERNET FAMOUS! And I didn't even have to make that sex tape I was planning.

Just kidding Mom!

So if you are new here since coming in yesterday I'd like to thank you for stopping by and give you a tour of my blog!

My name is Emily.  I call myself Notorious MLE because I was in high school when the Notorious B.I.G. was at the height of his popularity.  What's that you say?  I don't get the MLE part.  Sound it out...

It's okay I can wait...

Got it?  It's okay, try one more time and say it fast.... there you go!

I know, the cleverness of my high school friends is astounding.

Okay so that's my name and blogging's my game.  I blog about my family and especially my son who we recently adopted.  I blog about food, and imaginary vacations and the pickles I get myself into.  Sometimes I just post funny stuff my Dad's says verbatim.  Like how he really needs to get off the phone with me because he has to attend to a very busy" peanut eating schedule".

He is an endless source of blog posts.

Also you should know that I am a neat freak so I have an "editorial calendar" for my blog.

Monday - I blog about my weekend.  A lot of times this is just pictures of my little boy and food.  This sounds boring but I promise you, my son's cuteness is legend.  Please give in.  Resistance is futile.

Tuesday -I muse about my deep thoughts and contemplate life... or about shenanigans... like when my bread maker attacked me... or how lunatic the dating world is for my single friends... or... okay on Tuesday I blog about whatever the frak I feel like blogging about  on that day.

Wednesday - Okay, here's where the "editorial" system definitely falls apart.  On Wednesday I usually blog quite randomly.  I talk about the stuff I want to do before I turn forty:  meaningful endeavors like eating my way through San Francisco.  Or sometimes I publish awesome quotes, most of which come from Mr. Rogers.  Dead serious about that last one.

Thursday - We take imaginary vacations like yesterday's trip to Peru.  I know yesterday wasn't Thursday.  I mean I know that now but I guess I didn't when I scheduled that post. Kismet, no?  These posts were inspired by J. Hill's "Places I've never been" poster series and the fact that my toddler seems to have eaten our vacation fund.

Friday - Is the start to the weekend so we have some freaking fun!  Every Friday I post five things I like in pop culture.  Movies, songs, blogs, whatever.  It's my small way to give props to all the amazing things you can find on the internet.  It's not just dancing cats people!

Sunday - A day of rest.  No words, just one picture. I'm working on becoming a better photographer.

Blogging has helped me find my voice and given me a space to share the amazing process of falling in love with my son.  I love blogging and feel grateful and privileged that you would take the time to visit me here. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll come again!

XOXO-Notorious MLE

Posted on June 16, 2010 and filed under Livin la Vida Loca.