In four days, we will be in Seattle.  A week from today, Vancouver.  And a week from Monday, back in Hawaii after a grueling-but-awesome five and a half month runaround.

I swear to you, Internet, I am going to sleep through the rest of August. We’re not even going to go to the other side of the island. And if I find a grocery delivery on-island, we’re not going to even leave the house. My brain is so deep-fried tired that I can’t bring myself to sit down and get into the routine, and as such my writing has gone stagnant for the moment. To not have a regular creative outlet is horrible for me and for Maggie too; I have a billion product ideas for Examiner, god knows I have a LOT I could be pitching to family travel websites, and in the background percolating in my head are a bunch of ideas for trying to figure out a way for us to homeschool Maggie and the as-yet-unconceived 2.0. But the words aren’t quite gelling together right now.

[Side note on having another child. Me: “I think I’m ready for another, Maggie’s old enough, we have a name we agree on, it’s time.” Tom: “Well, see if you can wait until we’re in the same state.” …Twit.]

I’ve been reading so much on the Montessori and Waldorf and unschooling educational models and equal amounts on the general failure of a lot of public schools and now I am obsessed with creating a curriculum for our kids at home. This is INSANE, people. I’m already going a little crazy at home, but so far my experience is that I’m better at being a mom than I have ever been at anything else. Which…yeah. I’m not even saying I’m such a great parent, but I feel best about myself when I think I’m doing right by my kid. So why not see if we can find a way to run with it?

This is also a good way to distract myself from not thinking about how busy our fall is going to be. We’re signing up for Stroller Strides again once I get my house back together, toddler Spanish on Saturdays and possibly family music lessons on Sundays, baby yoga on Mondays and then babywearing and LLL once a month. I am determined to bust out of my antisocial grumpy shell and give Maggie some socialization (and me too).  I will also secretly be trolling for trustworthy types to babysit my kid so Tom and I can go see a movie and eat food that we don’t have to cut into teeny pieces to share. For my own sanity, I’m looking at starting Bikram once a week to get out of the house sans Maggie.  I’m going to a wedding in Vermont this fall (by MYSELF, holy shit) and we are taking a big trip in late October/early November.  Oh, and sometime between December and March…we’re moving and leaving Hawaii forever. And we don’t know when we’ll move, to where or for how long.

So you can see why I am spending my free time scanning Etsy for pretty Waldorf toys and, you know, not writing or thinking about a damn thing.

2010 has been a total kick in the junk for tons of our friends and comparatively, I can’t complain. We’ve only been mildly inconvenienced at best. But it has been an endurance marathon and I nearly burst into tears last Sunday flying from Manchester, NH back to Tampa when I realized I’d have to get Maggie to Seattle by myself, with a stopover in Denver and at a lousy time of the day for her schedule. It’s I can do it. But I’ve been counting down the days until I don’t have to do this alone anymore. Real single parents: a hug, a tip of my hat, and a standing offer of free babysitting to you. This is the hardest grind I’ve ever gone through and I only have one child and a vast network of family support.

Most importantly: four more days until Maggie can see her Daddy and I can see my favorite person in the world. It’s going to be awesome.


Short Sands

Having lived in diametrically opposed climates, I can tell you with some authority that the northern Atlantic smells vastly different from the South Pacific.  More educated and scientifically inclined minds than mine could tell you why–probably something to do with the types of plant and animal life in the tidepools.  All I know is that I’ve never had a seaweed fight in Hawaii, a wretchedly slimy experience that I haven’t had since the age of twelve and have been overjoyed to not have to repeat.

At any rate, I decided that it was an essential part of the east coast experience to have Maggie numb herself to popsicle-like temperatures in the Atlantic ocean.  She liked it so much she punched me in the face.

Touching, no?  This was in Rockport, MA, which was frosty indeed.  I believe I texted something to the effect of “Sweet mother of hypothermia, it’s cold!!”  I got the skin prickles from the water in a way I hadn’t experienced in years; the frost of the north Atlantic with the burn of New England’s fickle July sun.

But it wasn’t the same beach I had grown up with.  A few nights ago Maggie had a very late nap and bedtime was looking more and more like a 9 or 9:30 proposition, so around fifteen minutes before her normal bedtime I decided to haul stakes for York Beach.  Short Sands and Long Sands were the two beaches I frequented as a child and then as a teenager; saltwater taffy at the Goldenrod, tacky-ass jewelry from Bill and Bob’s, and loads of mucky sand and smooth rocks.

I packed us up lickety-split and the drive over was gorgeous, just past sunset and full of pink and blue over the lovely houses of York Beach.  When we arrived, I plopped Maggie down about 100 yards from the water’s edge, right at the runoff point from low tide where little rivulets of warmed ocean water were streaming toward the waves.  She looked at me, I looked back at her, and she cocked her head.  I responded by jumping up and down and making huge splashes, and that was all the encouragement she needed to crawl toward the shoreline laughing and screaming like a lunatic.  We got so thoroughly coated with sand that I’m still shaking it out of her car seat, but with the music at the bandstand and the sunburnt tourists chowing down on fried food, it was perfect: the little slice of arctic-cold Americana that I loved so well for so long.

Though I know she won’t remember this specific outing, I hope Maggie looks back one day and sees through the disagreements and fights we’re bound to have, the differences of opinion large and small, and hold on to the fact that I was the kind of mom who took her to the beach in a pink party dress to get muddy just before bedtime, sand and seaweed and slop be damned.

Worthley Pond

Perhaps I am spoiled–very possible–but everyone should have a camp.  A “camp” in the New England sense is really a lake house.  Sometimes these are full of amenities with cable TV and powerboats, or in the case of my aunt and uncle’s camp it’s a wood frame with a privy outdoors and a few gas lanterns.  Fortunately, my great-aunt and uncle have the former, set on a little spot in Western Maine called Worthley Pond.

The purpose of camp is to relax.  One can accomplish this by eating oneself foolish on summery foods.  There were a few summers where the adults gorged themselves on fresh picked strawberries, conveniently blended into a portable daquiri form.  In other fruit action, Maggie displays her watermelon technique here:

Sadly, camp is not at ALL relaxing when you’re single-parenting a small child.  There are a billion ways to kill yourself around the water, so I spent much of my time chasing her and only a sad few moments sneaking a sip of my blackberry wittbier on the swing.

When I was a much younger monkey, I spent a LOT of time attempting to waterski.  I made it up and around the lake a few times, and if I could live in the moment where I let go of the rope and glided into the camp area, I would.  It did NOT happen often.  My cousin Mark got up on skis ALL THE TIME, though, and made it to one ski rather often.  Jerk.

Mark also once came upon me asleep, sunbathing on an inner tube I had tethered to the dock with a rope with my bikini top on but untied.  He then untied the rope, tied me to the back of the powerboat, and I awoke to being jerked through the water and I had to choose to take the ride or expose myself.  So I rode across the lake with one hand on the tube and one on my suit.  Good times.

But what a pretty lake it is!

In short: everyone should have a camp, or know someone who does.

Virtual Insanity Part 5: Epilogue

Virtual Insanity: The Introduction

Virtual Insanity: The Administrative Hoo-Ha

Virtual Insanity Part 1: The Run-Around On Bended Knee That You Oughta Know (1994-1995)

Virtual Insanity Part 2: The Lovefool is Doin’ It With The Beautiful People in 1979 (1996)

Virtual Insanity Part 3: My Heart Will Go On to Tubthump at 3am (1997)

Virtual Insanity Part 4: Jumpin Jumpin Summer Girls Livin La Vida Loca and Tearin’ Up My Heart (1998-1999)


At 87 songs, this playlist goes on for a total of 5.9 hours.  That should be enough to send even the most well-adjusted stalwart into a soggy heap of preteen angst.  I had a lot of fun doing this, even if there were a few songs that I simply couldn’t find to download and thus did not include: “I Know” by Dionne Farris and “Legend Of A Cowgirl” by Imani Coppola come to mind.

Probably the best moment of the whole thing was going over Thursday’s post with my friend Ann and hearing her boyfriend ask “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” after I revealed the existence of Jordan Knight’s “Give It To You.”  If I’m making you recoil from the screen in horror, I feel like my job is done, and I didn’t even have to include Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” to achieve this.

But as a travel playlist?  You know, I think this works.  There’s sing-a-long material: “Chicka-chicka-cherry-COLA!”  There’s conversation pieces: “You went to Titanic HOW MANY times?!”  There’s moments of teenage PTSD angst popping through: “Ever had a “The Boy Is Mine” faceoff?”  And it’s long, enough for the bulk of a cross-continent flight over North America.

The playlist from start to finish is below.  And I think this is the most fun I’ve ever had putting such a list together.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to repack my Caboodle pencil case and my Five-Star zip binder and head out for another day among the Sun-Ripened Raspberry masses.

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Virtual Insanity Part 4: Jumpin Jumpin Summer Girls Livin La Vida Loca and Tearin’ Up My Heart (1998-1999)

I think there’s a definite and noticeable sea change in pop between 1997 and 1998/1999.  Britney Spears. Destiny’s Child. And the question that all teenybopper girls had to answer, a Sophie’s Choice of pure trash: Backstreet Boys or N*SYNC?  There were also a lot of songs that were…I don’t know how to describe it. Perky?  Whatever it was, grunge/rock/whatever was not really popular on my stations, nor was it taking up airplay on “Total Request Live!” (exclamation point theirs)  There were a few exceptions but mostly it was pretty bubblegum.  Hilarious, hilarious bubblegum.

“The Boy Is Mine” by Brandy and Monica. This song is the reason why individual offerings such as “One of Dem Days” and “Sittin’ Up In My Room” were not included on my other posts.  It’s basically the corner of 1st and 1st, the nexus of the universe.

“Lately” by Divine. The heartbreak of the teenage pop song is almost enough to rival that of psoriasis.

“Save Tonight” by Eagle-Eye Cherry. It’s a fairly generic pop song, and here’s where I admit that I couldn’t tell the difference between his voice and Lenny Kravitz until much later.  I need my hearing checked.

“I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain. In 1998, “Dawson’s Creek” came out.  Unbeknownst to me, it launched one of my favorite workplace distractions, Television Without Pity, but it also caught on in junior high like a firestorm.  We had lunchtime privileges for the VCR in one of my teacher’s rooms, and someone always taped it to bring in to watch at lunch.  Do you know what a pack of 14 year old girls sounded like when Dawson and Joey kissed at the end of Season 1?  My ears are still ringing.

“Inside Out” by Eve 6. This was marginally better than “Here’s To The Night” was, mostly because I never heard it played at any graduations.

“When The Lights Go Out” by Five. The lead singer’s voice is helplessly lispy.  I feel a little bad about laughing at it…but only a little.

“Can I Get A…” by Jay-Z. I am pretty sure that of all the artists in the 1998-99, he and Beyonce are the only ones I still listen to with any regularity.  Except for that “Empire State” song.  Go away, “Empire State”.

“Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia. Her only other song was included in one of my all-time favorite movies from any time period: Go.  “Are you happy now?  IS YOUR BRITISH ASS HAPPY NOW?”  But this one was the bigger of the two singles and is still in reasonably heavy rotation on the supermarket station.  That’s almost like the 9th circle of hell for musicians, isn’t it?

“You Get What You Give” by The New Radicals. I feel a song that mentions Courtney Love excuses me from having to include an actual Courtney Love song.

“Tearin’ Up My Heart” by N*SYNC. I admit it now, because I couldn’t then (at the time I was way too snobby to admit to listening to either band): I was an N*SYNC girl.  Remember Justin Timberlake with longish curls?  That was before he brought sexy back, bless his unkempt heart.

“Lullaby” by Shawn Mullins. Another WB staple was Mr. Mullins.  Everything is going to be okay, guys. The shaggy gentleman says so.

“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer. This song was used in the horrible/classic She’s All That and the pizzas in the infamous pubic hair scene looked exactly like our cafeteria pizzas.  My little (hair)brush with fame.

“I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys. In 1998, my husband saw them play twice in one night as part of his high school’s project graduation party.  He can also do the chair dance.  We’re waiting to resurrect that one at Maggie’s prom.

“What’s My Age Again?” by Blink-182. These guys were BADASS because they had TATTOOS and were always NAKED.  *clutches pearls*  Yeah, I was a total innocent then and I’m sort of shockingly naive now.

“….Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. Before she dated Timberlake, married Federline, had two crotch parasites, a shaved head, and a total fucking breakdown…there was the Catholic schoolgirl uniform.  A moment of silence, please.

“Jumpin’ Jumpin'” by Destiny’s Child. “Say My Name” was unquestionably the bigger hit, but I really like this one better.  It’s sort of sweetly inoffensive and “Say My Name” will get stuck in your head for days.  Weeks.  Years.  It’s still stuck in mine, actually.

“Slide” by Goo Goo Dolls. Dizzy Up The Girl was comparable to Surfacing for me in terms of angsty teen music.  I couldn’t even do that originally, I had to resort to limp-cock pop-rock standards.  Regardless, I still enjoy “Slide”.

“Give It To You” by Jordan Knight. This is without a doubt the jewel in my horrible music crown.  We have a New Kids On The Block alum.  We have implicit and explicit references to bondage and possible non-consensual acts.  We have a music video at a carnival.  I think there’s a calliope.  Friends, even with Celine Dion in this mix, it can’t get any worse…

“Summer Girls” by LFO. …Until you consider “Summer Girls”.  It doesn’t have the pseudo-fame factor of Jordan Knight, but it’s still hilariously awful.  It’s an early and even worse version of Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” if you can imagine such a thing existing.

“Nookie” by Limp Bizkit. I worked at a water park for a hot five seconds during the summer of 1999, and this song was all my team could sing.  All the time.  In between Austin Powers quotes.  It was exactly as annoying as you’d think, but still fun to sing in the car.

“Mambo Number 5” by Lou Vega. My sister’s name is Erika.  We had SO MUCH FUN making fun of her when this song came out because she loved it, specifically because her name was mentioned.

“Heartbreaker” by Mariah Carey feat. Jay-Z. The video includes a giant Coke being dumped onto a douchey-looking Jerry O’Connell’s lap.  What more do you want?

“Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” by The Offspring. Go ahead, look twice. Consider your lily ass kicked.

“Guerilla Radio” by Rage Against The Machine. This is the only Rage song I have ever heard.  The sound you may have heard echoing across the world was my husband reading that last sentence and slamming his head into a wall.

“Livin La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin. The only season I ever did a sport was track in the spring of 1999 and one of my track buddies LOVED Ricky Martin. I kind of wish I had seen her face when Ricky came out.  I suspect it was reminiscent of The Scream.

Tomorrow: the final postmortem on Virtual Insanity: The Series.