disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Maslow Makes Meth

Oh my this will surely give me an interesting feed of search terms which begot this post. Anywho...

I was thinking back to a year ago when I had a sort of "aha" moment with my counselor over my childhood, and how I had another "aha" in church a few months ago. About how my family is, well, special.

Today I was spying on our heroin-addicted neighbors (Yeah I'm totally gonna be that crazy old lady who peers out her window at them crazy whippersnappers and knows everyone's business and has the cops on speed-dial...) as they conduct another drug transaction, cursing to myself under my breath when I realized, hmm, I can go do the laundry while druggie #1 talks to druggie #2, because drug deals take time.

Then I stop in my tracks, dish in hand, and go holy moly, how do I know this crap? I have NEVER done drugs, never will, so how can a little dorky Christian straight-edge mom know this?

Because, my stay-at-home dad took me to his "friends" to score weed and, for a while, speed. Is speed meth? I know you snort speed, and I know how long a drug deal lasts, how you do small talk and have to work up to the deal, but I don't know my drugs apparently.  I remember going to "Steve's" who had a shiny white car and nice new home (complete with a room just for his cats!), and I would sit and read his 40-year collection of National Geographics and pet his cats- I loved going to his place. Then there was Jim who was Disney's Goofy incarnate, if Goofy was 6 foot tall, 120 pounds, and missing teeth. Then there was the one guy who had a rottweiler named Killer (or something to that matter) who ended up becoming a sweet cuddly puppy dog (he previously had lived up to his name) after I was stuck outdoors for quite some time during a deal, so I made do and chatted it up with Killer and some stray cat living in the roof.

So yeah...I was recalling how, sure, I had a family with a mom and dad my "original" mom and dad, and we had a car, my mom had a steady job, we had health insurance, cable (except that one time we stole it and got busted...), clothes (even if from Goodwill)...we had tons of books, went on vacations, owned our home, and my parents told me they loved me all the damned time. Therefore, in my mind, and in their telling me, I met "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs". They had provided me a better life than their own (to which I am actually grateful), did their best, yadda yadda. Even in college, upon reading psychology and child development books, I had a darned good little textbook-happy childhood.

Somehow Maslow missed out on the fact that you can have a picture perfect family, but they can have been painted with rotten paints, or some analogy like that. It took me three decades to realize I had some screwed up stuff in my life. Like when I reflect back on childhood and share it with my husband, and am met with a blank, open mouthed, OMG stare...

"Was that the year I went to the Grateful Dead Concert? The heat and weed gave me a migraine... no...that happened the following year..."

"Yeah the drug dealer had the best danishes in the morning!"

"Oh parents pick their kids up at school? My dad parked behind a tree a quarter mile away"

"No, my dad was definitely camping, not homeless, he had a tent"

"No, I don't like Harley's, they scare me, like when I went for a ride with the biker gang when I was 6"

"meth looks all neat lined up on a mirror,  and I thought that's why some mirrors had decorative cracks and specks in them"

"It was awesome, my mom kept bows and arrows in the trunk of her car and we'd shoot them in the Kmart parking lot"

"My missing dress was found, on my mom's one-armed mannequin, Natasha"

"The rotting buffalo hide, attracting flies, hung on the fence totally scared the Jehovah's Witnesses away"

"Yeah we took a photo with guns, ammo, camo, and food supplies for y2k as our sole family portrait and Christmas card ever made"

Stuff like that makes me realize....

Well, I dunno what it makes me realize other than, "wow".

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Tale of the Tijuana Tapeworm

As my family picked at some spaghetti squash with much speculation and fear, my husband says, "Gotta go to the gym soon. Hmm.... this squash will give us some strange poops!"

You know, cause maybe it is an ADD thing but my husband is like .....(see the dog photo to the right), so we can talk about going to the gym and squiggly squash poops all in one breath.

Anyways, I am getting ahead of myself.

I'm no stranger to food poisoning / parasites like salmonella. They seem to like me.

When I was nine, we were at an airport in Puerto Rico and I was hungry, begin my mom for what else but ice cream? I mean, I was nine and we were in the tropics! But my mom is one of those healthy hippies (no, we never had tofu loaf, but we did cook without salt and never were allowed to eat Kraft Mac and Cheese, Hamburger Helper, or really anything processed) and so she put her foot down. No ice cream! Airports aren't exactly havens for health food, so she directed me over to a fried chicken place, better than all that sugar and artificial stuff, right?

That night we had arrived to my grandma's home in California and she ordered pizza. Pizza! Grandmas are awesome! I love pizza (loved, at nine, and still love) so I was totally into it. Until the pizza arrived and I lay on the couch moaning in pain. Turned out I had salmonella. I was so sick that I didn't want to open my Christmas presents or birthday presents the next few days!

I also got dysentery, aka Montezuma's Revenge, in Tijuana in my early 20s. Those street tacos were the first Mexican cuisine I ever liked, and on a budget, the only food I could afford and I ate tacos like nobody's business. And then I got not the regular old variety of dysentery mind you, but a four month long diarrhea fest. I recall it beginning somewhere near San Diego, me barfing out the side of the car, smearing parasitic taco all over my car and the 5 Freeway. I couldn't keep more than rice or broth down for months, and had to nap after every class to keep up.

On my first year marriage anniversary, I lay in bed moaning yet again. I ended up having things come out of both ends at the same time, and got so ill I was in and out of consciousness. MY husband rushed me to ER (I do not recall going, just him picking me up off the bed and suddenly I was in ER, like that transponder thing in Star Trek), hooked up to IVs.

A little bit after that bout, I was healthy again and went to the theater to watch a movie with my husband. I had to go to the restroom part way through, and as I went to flush, I gasped. My poo had....something...oh my God.... I ran out at lightning speed, probably white as a ghost, and went into the dark theater and began to pull my husband's arm. "I know this is gross but please. Please come with me to the bathroom" I pleaded, in tears.

He followed his sobbing wife into the women's room and into the stall and...

"Oh. You had hot and sour soup right before the movie. It's the bamboo shoot. Let's go finish the movie"

See? This is why I love my husband, he left a movie, snuck into the women's room, and looked at my poop. What a hero.

So flash forward about nine or ten years, to tonight.

As we pick at our squash, he says, "remember that poop you had me look at years ago? It was a worm". I pause and ask, "uh....you're joking....?" And he nods no and continues to pick at his meal. I ponder it a bit and repeat myself, "you're joking, right" and he nods no again, rests his fork on his plate, and says, "yeah I didn't want to scare you. I've been to Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, I've seen tapeworms in jars. More than I would have liked to. It was totally a tapeworm. That medicine for that food poisoning must have killed it. It was a good sized one too, man, impressive. Well, I gotta go to the gym, see ya" and he grabbed his keys and left.

A. tapeworm. was. inside. me.

Monday, July 13, 2015

When in Oregon....

My parents are pot-smoking hippies (they will say they aren't but I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who says they aren't pot smoking hippies), so, they retired and moved to the Pacific North West (Oregon) to join the rest of my mom's hippy family.

So my mom, as un-hippy as it is, equates loves to possessions, as that is how she was raised. So, she loves to still take me shopping and out to lunch on her dime, as if I'm ten. But I mean, I cannot complain, she gets warm fuzzies and I get a new shirt or a taco. It's all good I guess.

She went to Macy's with my grandma and I guesss they bought me a new wardrobe for me new job. See, I hate shopping, so I haven't bought more than a kids-sized crappy t-shirt or pair of PJs in five years...as a SAHM, why buy nice things? Especially if you hate shopping? Hence, my mom made it her obsessive-compulsive mission to buy me a wardrobe.

Except, she is in Oregon and I'm not, and she is a bit skinnier than me so who knows if the clothes she chose a)fit  b)look ok... so...instead of wasting money to mail them to me and having me return what I don't need, she is taking photos.


She is an "artist" and so she has to use her expensive camera, set at the highest resolution of like a gajillion pixels to take photos of each outfit. In each swapped condition as in, white shirt with blue jeans, white shirt with black skirt, same white shirt with green skirt, add blazer, subtract blazer and add necklace...you get the idea.

She refused to let the clothes just "hang n hangers", so she was going to dress up her mannequins.

Her name is Bridget
Yes. She has mannequins. Plural. She has a whole creepy room downstairs filled with old dusty paintings rusty metal sculptures, and naked antique mannequins. And they all have names.  Her dream is to paint one green, put deer antlers on it, and display it in the yard. My should-be-commuted-crazy dad is probably why there isn't a horned green naked mannequin in the yard, because even in his insanity, he is probably like "hell no, that can't go in the yard, what do we look like, freaks??" (The answer is yes, because you also already have a broken door with Chrismas lights, weird wooden humanistic feathered "effigies" in the yard, etc....)

Anyways where was I other than lost in the craziness that is my family? My mom was going to put my new outfits on the mannequins to take photos, but her sister and mom were in town at her mom's cabin, so she ended up with the trunk full of clothing at their place.

So they call me tonight, stoned and drunk, asking how to upload photos.

"Mom, click the paperclip, select the photo, click send"

"Send? How do you send an email?" (I face palm, Mom, you send email all the time!)

"you put in my email in the long rectangle box that says to and-"
"I give up this is too hard!"
"ok mom try Facebook, go to the little talking boxes icon to send me a message"

'i don't want it posted all over the internet. Since I didn't have my mannequins, I wore the clothes and posed. I don't want that all over for everyone to see"

" mom, the world won't see it in a private message."

"Forget it, I'm spending $40 to have staples upload them and email them"

"But you can't waste money to mail them to me?"

"just...we are fried. We tried for an hour to email you. We are done"

No mom, You guys were too high and drunk to figure out email. And don't tell me this digital native crap. I didn't have a remote control TV until 1997, we had a circly-spinny-rotary dial phone until 1992, and all our lighting was circa 1950 and before. I am digitally stuck in 1965, mom....

When in Oregon....

Get high with your hippy sister, paint your mannequins, and get confused how to send an email.

sigh. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dating for an introvert

I'm a total introvert, as in, the Myers-Briggs test is 100% "I" for " Introvert" for me, and to think I've come out of my shell.

Come out of my shell....I have many report cards from childhood which dote on my intellect and sweet personality, but how I need to come out of my shell. It's nice in there, dammit!

I was so shy that I was seen as cold and reticent my freshman year of college... you know, college speak for bitch. Before college, I was also so very shy that I did not even get my first kiss until 17.

Do all introverts have a short list of dating partners? Cause I do. I still have never (and since I am married, never will...) been on just a date, you know, cute Billy asks you out and you go on a date and eat at Applebees, or Jill sets you up with her cousin Jay and you go out for coffee, or whatever. I've never been on a flippant type date or "dated" someone causally for say, two "dates". Never.

I date long-term. Kinda with the intent to marry, but then don't we crazy women all kinda have that thought? Remember writing your name, in a heart, in fancy handwriting, with your new last name (that cute boy in third period who doesn't know you exist, but Lilly Haversham sounds so much fancier than your current name of Lilly McSnuffles). But my intent to marry was more fatalist, as in, I'm so invisible to men that this guy is it, it is him or being a crazy old maid forever.

So I dated a Canadian for over a year, no actual set in place plans to marry, but we were steady and serious and I just knew that even though he wasn't physically attractive and refused to move to the USA and was a total stoner, it was as good as it gets, so be it.

Then there was the totally awesome fun....umm....wait...no...manic depressive alcoholic who showed his very bad side once I was already entranced in the love net. But hey, chances for love are so seldom, gotta stick with it, right? Until I realized after hitting rock bottom too many times that this was a codependent relationship from hell.

So I signed off relationships all together, old maid I would be, some idyllic nomad, a free-lance National Geographic cultural anthropologist. Screw it.

I mean, it is so hard to find a date, long term or short. Sure it seems easy, flirt with opposite sex (or same, hey we are progressive, more on that in a moment) and date. But for an introvert (add in some anxiety disorder, too) and it is like this huge maelstrom of hell, of what ifs, second guessing, conversations in your head that you plan out and never execute.

So in my new found "freedom", and a car, I travelled the local area just....being. I was a poor college kid with nowhere to go, on purpose.

One day, the lesbian couple who ended up in the non-super-hippy dormitory as my dorm neighbors for a week, showed up at my door looking like deer in headlights, teary eyed, "the college screwed up and put us here, we are scared", as if I had a solution. I told them it would be fine, and hey, since my roommate was not here yet and I knew their room had a bed with bedsprings poking out (It was my room the prior year), they could switch it for the better bed of my missing roommate (who was holed up in a hospital, addicted to vicodin, after she got in a car accident on the way to Coachella, back when it was an underground rave destination).

So the college figured it all out, and the couple moved to the hippy dorm and my druggie roommate got the pokey bed. Later on, one of the lesbians said hey want to go to an art exhibit with us and some friends? I'm an art nerd, and when I heard where it was, I was all in.

The art exhibit was at this coffee shop about 30 minutes away that I had gone to once in high school, when my mom had to go to County Records down the road and I decided to wander downtown instead. It had artisan coffees, French pastries, a little coffee shop library, cushy chairs, and an art gallery. I was in love. It was just like my favorite city, Portland, Oregon, inside....a place for modern beatniks and weirdos, intellectuals and foodies to kick back and relax.  So when I was invited to go back I was like yes please!

So a group of college kids and I toured the basement gallery, I got inspired, and then we had some coffee and pastries. And then....one of the girls in the "couple" said hey, that girl over there is checking you out. The lesbian-I-sorta-knew's partner began to side-eye me like I was trash.

That's when I realized holy moly,  this was a gay coffee bar (hey I; was from a small town I was sheltered and naive) and the one girl was both trying to set me up with a date and flirting with me. Talk about awkward, and, man, I couldn't get a man to even look my way (unless he was a toothless senior citizen pappy or transgender Filipino, the only kinds that seemed to like me) but here I was with two lesbians crushing on me. Whoa. So I had to politely decline, and soon as I finished my coffee (hello, it was delicious!) I got the heck out of there. Looking back, it was such a Portlandia episode.

Back to dating....so..I was going to be an old maid. I even signed up to teach English in Japan, to just jump head-first into a nomadic old maid lifestyle (and be able to afford it). Meanwhile, I had a group of college friends who kept my mind off my fatalistic nomadic adventures, friends to just hang out with, guys, gals, whatever. Even a guy friend who was best friends with one of my best male friends from high school. This friend of a friend had good beer and even occasionally tossed fast food my way; not my food of choice but when you live off of $20 a week, you take any food you can get.

So one sunny day, I drove to L.A. to finish up my paperwork to teach in Japan. I got lost in downtown (101,110, I-10 all different directions can play hell on you if a)you're a bit dyslexic b) from a town without even a stoplight)  ...I barely made it. But I did. After my meeting, all that was left was a recommendation letter and physicians form, and they would send me my info on where I would teach and one last final signature would send me on my way. But something held me back.  Partially, the anxiety-ridden what ifs, I mean, Japan has volcanos and earthquakes! Partially, this je ne sais quois that held me back.  In my fatalistic darkness, there was this kind of warm but faint little pull, nearly indiscernible, that glimmered hope and happiness yet I couldn't put my finger on it.

So, I stayed. I never signed that last form. And I kind of sat back and waited, for what, I did not know.

A few months later, I found myself trying to avoid dating that friend of a friend, because, I was done with people.  But that little warm fuzzy pull kept getting stronger and suddenly...

...well, a few months after that, I started dating that friend of a friend.

And now we have been married almost eleven years.

And I'm not settling.

But I still do have a nomadic spirit. I even wonder sometimes, as I peruse random Google Street View places in my spare time (it's travel for free!) I try and guess where in Japan I would have ended up and where my life would've taken me. I've even entertained the idea of writing a book about it, except I have been writing a different book for 6 years and counting.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Creamy Dijon Chive Chicken

Living in a small town with just a pizza place, burger place, Mc Donalds, and Subway (with any other food 30+ minutes away) means I can't really just "grab a bite to eat" with my lovely old gluten intolerance. Choosing a boxed meal or "semi homemade" kind of meal isn't easy. Even just chewing a recipe online isn't that simple, especially when many gluten free recipes call for amaranth flour and anthem gum, expensive ingredients that don't exactly exist in my grocery store (which doesn't even have a single Indian-Subcontinent type of food, isn't that crazy???)

Anyways where was I? Oh yes. It is hard to have a restricted diet in the middle of nowhere. Add in my broken foot and sprained ankle and two kids under 5 to chase around and...I wasn't exactly being a culinary queen. I managed to lose weight just sitting on my ass eating potato chips while everything healed.

Finally, I'm mostly healed! Unable to drive yet....but...able to stand, hobble around, and COOK!

So I found a recipe online that looked really good except it had drasted wheat flour, and chicken broth (which is usually gluten free, but I realized I didn't have any on hand anyways). Nevertheless, I went for it, minus two ingredients, and was very pleased with the results. I would certainly make it again and if it were served in a restaurant, I'd "yelp" about it. Here goes....and...I do believe a little chicken broth or that better than bouillon stuff would make it better, but it wasn't lacking without.

4      chicken breasts or thighs, or a few more of those scrawny tenderloins (whatever you have on hand)
3-4   tbsp olive oil (I love kalamata oil)
1      tbsp butter
1/4     cup white wine
??   chives.... I used probably 5 or six chive strands? chopped,
pinch   salt and pepper to taste
splash of chicken broth, optional
2      diced scallions or, in a pinch, half a small red onion
1/3 c    sour cream (i usually loathe "light" things but prefer light sour cream. non-light yogurt would be even better!
1 tea  dijon mustard (I use Trader Joes garlic aioli mustard, it is even better than dijon imho)

warm a large saucepan and season your chicken, add some of the oil to pan, sauté chicken until golden. Remove from pan.

Add more oil and sauté the scallions/onions until translucent.

Deglaze pan with wine and add the chicken (splash of broth if you have it) and add chicken back in. Cover, cook 5-10 minutes until sauce reduces and chicken is fully cooked if not already.

Mix sour cream and mustard in a bowl, use a spoon to spoon in a tbsp of the cooking chicken-sauce stuff into the sour cream mixture ti temper it. Mix. Add in the cream sauce into the pan. Stir, simmer a few minutes until mixed and warmed. Sprinkle on your chives.

Serve immediately

I like it over mashed potatoes, with a side of green beans or peas.

Mountain Folk

Ever wonder why people move to small towns in the middle of nowhere?

My parents moved to Running Springs to    a) escape society   b) commune with nature
And so, I grew up there in a quaint little cabin nestled among the peacocks. Yes, my parents had peacocks, owls, alligators, skunks, basically any "pet" you could think of, due to loose county ordinances and the whole rebel-to-society-meets-hippy-communing-with-nature-meets-crazy-recluse thing.

I grew up in a small town of about 5,000 people at 6,000 feet above the smoggy, crowded, urban sprawl of the Inland Empire and Los Angeles. Going "down the hill" to the city was something to be avoided at all costs, put off until a medical specialist appointment was imminent, or if we needed some odd contraption from Home Depot to use to control the wolves- pet wolves.

A small mountain town such as mine truly shaped me as who I am today. Sure, we weren't living in one of those small, fly-in only towns in bush Alaska, but to your normal Angelino used to three Starbucks, seven ethnic restaurants, two Gaps, and seventeen fast food joints in sight, and concrete jungles abound, my town was pretty "hick" and remote. I mean, to see a doctor, buy clothes or toys, buy or register a car, basically do anything, you have to drive thirty minutes to an hour to do it, all the way down a winding road to the city. We get bears in the garbage, mountain lions in the yard, and six-foot-deep snowstorms with 115 mph winds, and this is "normal". My husband and I just laughed as we passed movie star Ron Perlman on his way to the posh grocer's; we role=played my husband on a conference call, "yeah, executive co-workers, Ron and I hate how slow Richard Dreyfuss drives on the way up the mountain, yes, Rom Perlman and Rich- crap- gotta go there's a mountain lion outside my window and I smell smoke".

Yes, our little mountain burns down. A lot. Slide fire, Old Fire, nameless fires that evacuated my family in the 80's and 90's.... living among drought-ridden timber and a bunch of crazed people nearby spells disaster. As you watch the news coverage from afar, seeing familiar places burn, you shed some tears as your lovely forest and town turn to ash.

Yet, you return. We say, if you survive a year up here, you will never leave. The mountain either scares you away in moments...I mean, OMG everything is so far away! You have to learn to cook and start a fire and shovel snow! You should own a weapon in case of wildlife attack or because there are at most six sheriffs for 135 square miles, with a holiday-vistors plus regular-resident population swelling up over 85,000 people! You have to deal with rock slides and very very dense fog and huge snowstorms and crazy fast Santa Ana Winds! And there's only one Starbucks and no malls whatsoever!!!!

Yet, you return to the idyllic towering pines and quiet solitude. Some people even commute two to three hours each way to the city just to come home here. And as much as I hated begin a teen up here (I was the OMG no starbucks or mall? type girl sometimes), I came back.

Amanda Moments
I came back to raise my boys right. I want them to see that mom can shovel snow, garden, hike, fish, and rough out a storm. I want my boys to climb trees instead of climbing overpasses to graffiti them. I want a quiet, close-knit small town environment, filled with nature and solitude. And so, I returned.