Friday, February 26, 2010

Guess What's Roasting On An Open Fire


Christmas time... twinkling lights, special decorations, cozy house, delicious treats, and the tree. I know, as anyone close to me knows that it is a mistake, and I mean a gargantuan mistake to have me in a room with any kind of glass and, or fragile ornamentation of any kind. The Christmas tree of course is adorned with glass bobbles and priceless ornaments passed down from generation to generation. Well I can assure you that my tree will be the end of the line for any remotely sensitive heirloom. It is expected, ensured even, that I will one by one mistakenly eradicate our Christmas treasures like a herd of wild ass teenage boys will clean out your pantry and fridge of anything that resembles food. I have excepted my clumsiness, I have even made jokes about it. It is who I am. I no longer mourn the loss of coveted items that I shatter to bits. I clean up and move on, and I try to remember that no matter how attractive that beautiful hand blown, one of a kind, glass vase is, it has no place in my home, or any home that I may visit. If you love it, set it free, or don't buy it at all - that's my motto.

I've come to accept my fate with all things fragile. Ask my mother, who in a matter of a few years, lost all four beautiful chickens that brought extra life to her whimsical kitchen, to a serial glass chicken killer. It was a wretched few years. I knew in my heart that each one would die a horrible, violent death. They would eye me when I bumbled by. They knew one day it would be their turn to be slaughtered, and that it would be at my hands. In defense of myself, I must say that all of the slayings took place when I was trying to be helpful. One defenseless chicken was first injured by a laundry basket. I saw it coming, so in the heat of the moment I thought it best to kick the free falling chicken into the carpeted family room, so that it would not land on the hardwood floor. I too was surprised at my cat like reflexes, and rather sharp thinking skills... I guess it was the adrenaline. I glued that blue polka dotted fowl back together with such artistry that no one was the wiser. I had spared myself the ridicule from my loved ones yet another day. She was perched back on the ledge in all her glory... but she knew one day, one day soon she would not be so fortunate. She knew the end of her decorative chicken life was coming too soon. Alas, she was right. The poor bird eventually took a life ending spill. There comes a point that no matter what one's crafting skills, thousands of splintered glass shards cannot be glued back together. I knew that I would have to face my family who would again tease me mercilessly for months...years even. One by one, those speckled chickens lost their lives. Now, all that sits on those ledges, cabinets, and windowsills are the memories of the chickens that once brought such joy to a wife and mother who spent so many hours with them.

Anyways, back to the Christmas tree. So, lets set the scene. Both kids are in bed. The kitchen is clean. The husband is somewhere, I'm not sure where, but honestly does it matter? No, the point is that I was by myself. There was no squabbling in the background, no educational Spanish/math/reading/cultural awareness program chattering away at me, no endless, mind - numbing persuasion about buying more memory for the computer yakking at me as I scrub down the kitchen. I was alone and I was getting ready to enjoy the Christmas decorations by myself on the couch with hot chocolate, or so I thought. It was a tease. It was too good to be true, and I fell for it. I fell hard. I was already smiling, breathing deeply, I had even thought to unfurrow my brow and relax my shoulders. What a mistake. The only thing that would make me more relaxed was closing the shades, so that my neighbors wouldn't be witness to the scene of me in my sweat pants laying on the couch with as much energy as a diseased, beached Orca with days, maybe just hours to live.

I go in with gusto at the task at hand. Now, you must understand that our tree is right in front of a window. The very window that I was attacking. I should have just left the shade alone... really. Who could see me past a giant evergreen in the window? No one, but I just didn't want anyone to see me indulge in my peace as I know some neighbors have admitted to looking in windows. I couldn't risk it. I went in for the shade. The shade that we splurged on when we bought our home. It's of a double honeycomb design that insulates your home from the cold. It pulls down, and has no cords. It was expensive. I had to fight for those shades at the blind store. I won the battle. Looking back I'm sure my husband could see dollar signs floating around the store, as he knew, but was too nice to mention, that I would be breaking them... a lot.

So, as I contorted my not so contortable body around the tree to reach the shade, I set off the most unimaginable chain of events. This feat was remarkable, even with my talents. As i began pulling down the shade I lost my balance. I wobbled and warbled every which way, and I just knew it was going to be ugly. I just wanted it to be over. What's worse than assessing the damage is creating the damage, and I just didn't want to experience the moment. I lost my balance, pulling only one side of the shade down, when I was only supposed to pull from the center of the blind. It made a grinding and gnashing sound - not good, but it was not over yet. I fell into the tree somewhat, knocking down a very heavy, probably the heaviest ornament on our tree. It wasn't just any ornament, no, it was my son's Precious Moment's first Christmas ornament. The ornament fell down the whole side of the tree breaking and shattering any glitzy piece in its way, including big, colorful, retro light bulbs, which popped, hissed, and exploded in a beautiful pyrotechnic display that would make any local fire department jealous on the fourth of July. It was over. I made it through alive, but, I smelled smoke. I smelled burning. I frantically searched the tree for fire, the carpet, the couch, the shade. It was the oddest smell. Something was on fire. I just had to find it. I didn't want to be a statistic. I didn't want to be lumped into the percentage of people who burn their homes down with Christmas lights. I just didn't want this for my evening.

I felt heat. Not just the heat and prickling sensation of my armpits when I'm recovering from suffering through a terrifying event. No, this was a localized, burning sensation on my side. I knew without looking. I had searched the entire tree and surrounding area for fire, but I didn't check my big, dumb self who was inside of the tree during the fantastic light show. There it was. The burning smell I couldn't find the origin to was that of my own favorite shirt and underlying flesh. I caught myself on fire and didn't even realize it. I guess that is a blessing in and of itself. But it left me with many questions about myself. Such as, how can I make it long if I haven't even evolved enough to know the scent of my burning self? Is this just a glimpse of the way I will defeat myself some day? How can my children learn survival skills if I accidentally catch my own body on fire and not even know it? I've thought long and hard, and decided that it is perhaps a defense mechanism. Yes, I have the grace and poise of a pygmy hippo. But I've been given the gift of being completely unaware of my own demise and inevitable injuries, even when it involves the melting of my skin. So, maybe I have evolved, not in the way that you would hope for or expect, but in a way that shields me from my accident prone self.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oh Holy Embarrassment!

The most humiliating and utterly embarrassing things happen to me. Maybe they happen to others, or maybe not. Maybe my fellow walking disasters repress their occurrences with embarrassment. Perhaps I am all alone. Another thought is that I could be the only one who sees the humor in my own humiliation. Whatever the case, I have some lovelies to share. There is no point in keeping my stories to myself. I am choosing to believe I have been given a gift - a gift of wreaking havoc and embarrassment on myself in most situations. A gift is meant to be shared with others, at least that is what is I remember hearing at church one Sunday, in between conjuring up the contorted, evil, you better be quiet or else mom face to a very boisterous, obnoxious 2 year old and trying to fix a bottle for a screaming 6 month old. Whether my mishaps are a gift or not could be debated, but I like to look on the bright side, and since I've mastered nothing else, it must be my gift.

Since we are on the topic of church. I have a classic red faced story to share. It is a recent occurrence, and I'm not sure I have fully recovered, but maybe this will help the process. Every Sunday we round up the posse and head to church, which anyone with small kids knows is quite the feat. Especially anyone who has a 2 1/2 year old boy with more energy than a category 5 hurricane, who does not relish the thought of sitting quietly for over an hour. Whatever it takes, we get there. I realize that now is the time to pound goodness into my sons head. It has to start now!

We have a very revered priest. He is incredibly successful, intelligent, and adored. He terrifies me, in a way that anyone I greatly respect does. I nearly ran into him once coming out of the elevator and I think I almost soiled my pants. What do you say to such a man? Hi? Good morning? How goes it? Hello, most holy man I know? No, I'm not that smooth. Surely I was doing something unholy. Maybe I had on jeans. I'm sure I looked a wreck, because no matter how early I rise on Sunday morning I never have time to get my hair dried. Maybe I'm worried he can see right through me. Not that there is anything to hide. It must be that I consider him to have connections and it scares me. Anyways, I think I made an animalistic, guttural sound and quickly looked down. Whatever - we're so far past that now, it's not relevant.

It's important to know that this particular humiliation occurred after much holiday feasting...and I mean a lot of feasting, as I am quite serious about all of the goodies Christmas sends my way. Another contributing factor to the "event" is that I had a baby a few months earlier. I tend to enjoy elastic pants and roomy shirts, so I may be known to linger a little too long in maternity clothes. So, now we have brewed the perfect storm for embarrassment.

The end of mass is jubilant. It's like surviving the most violent storm and everyone making it out alive, because we have to sit through mass with a boy who would rather be doing back flips off a cliff naked. All we have to do at this point is collect our bulletin and shake the priest's hand without our son doing something that would show us in a bad light (ya, like that would be hard to do). I file out with my son first, with my husband and baby lagging behind. We get up to the priest. People are everywhere - behind, beside, in front, talking with friends, waiting to see the priest...you get the idea. I try to shake the priest's hand and simply say "good morning". I pull it off. I'm feeling relief... and then he doesn't let go of my hand. Oh no! Oh no, no, no! My gut is churning. What is going to happen? Why is this happening? I was good! I just want to mind my own business. I went to mass. I'm a good person...just let me go. Set me free! Here comes the question... loud and annunciated for everyone to hear, so that others can share in the joy of the question and subsequent answer: "When is your baby due?" Oh my hell, no! No! No! No! It just isn't fair. All I could do was shake my head, with I'm sure what must have been a look of utter horror and humiliation, and point back to my husband and baby. All I could get out was "I did that". Oh my! As my face started to turn a nice perfectly boiled lobster red, and my nervous rash cropped up on my chest, I heard laughter. Nervous laughter. Everyone heard the question. Everyone! People were laughing. What else can you do. Even my parents were laughing. The worst part of it was, that I know those people. I have to go back there every week. It wasn't anonymous. I even had to forgo the milkshake I was planning on ordering for lunch, as my whole family heard the question. It was time to face the ugly truth. Hello real pants and fitted shirts, hello gym. I survived it, and mustered up the courage to go back, but I haven't been brave enough to go through the priest hand shaking line again yet. As for me it is more like an American Idol audition that goes horribly wrong, and a very annoyed Simon Cowell to critique me. The good thing about episodes such as these is that the embarrassment does fade over time, and maybe, just maybe, the priest felt bad enough to say a prayer for the church going woman he humiliated in front of most of the congregation. At least that is what I'd like to believe.