Monday, October 20, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Hello blogger friends!
I decided to stop by and share a little gratitude with you this beautiful Monday.

 Here's what I'm grateful for today:

  1. I'm grateful to be spending less time in front of the computer and to feel my sanity slowly returning.
  2. I'm grateful for spending the afternoon shopping for Halloween costumes and for the laugh I had upon seeing my son as a pimped out Mr. MoneyBags.  Bling!  Bling!
  3. I'm grateful for not having to pull another all-nighter for my writing class tomorrow.  I'm way too old for that shit.
  4. I'm grateful my daughter is still rational and lovely despite her impending hormonal implosion which is due any day now.
  5. I'm grateful for the blogger friends that still have me in their reader despite my abrupt decision to go AWOL.  Anyone?  Anyone?
What are you guys grateful for this Monday?
Check in and say hi.

I miss you all and hope you're well.
Be back soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Cheating Heart: A Confession of Blogger Infidelity

Dear Beloved Blog,

I've been wanting to tell you this for awhile... 
The guilt has been killing me...
There's no easy way to say it so I'll just...


Actually more than one person.
Actually hundreds of people.

You can call me SLUT if you want to...

There's no need to know who...
No, I'm not going to name names...
Okay, fine, if you must know, it's...


CALM DOWN!  It's not's ME.

It's just...well...our relationship has become... high-maintenance.

In the beginning, we were great.
You inspired me.
You made me feel good.
And in return I gave you my all.

But, lately, it's been hard.
While my mistresses are satisfied with quips and quotes, the mere gift of 140 character gab,
You stare me down, arms crossed,  your foot tap, tap, tapping with expectation.
I've become a slave to your wiles.
Your cunning demands for popularity and ever-increasing reader stats.

I've lost the pure joy of writing - moving you to tears and making you laugh.
My thrill or defeat now rests with the number of comments you receive.

I want to please you but I'm beginning to resent you.

I'm taking the pressure off.
Taking time to reconnect with other things that I love: books, movies, my kids, my husband,
did I forget to mention I was married?

I'll see you when I see you.
Could be tomorrow.  Could be next month.
Could be random days in between.

But you haven't seen the last of me yet, dear blog.

Not by a long shot.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

It is Monday, again.
Can someone tell me where my weekend went?
I blinked and POOF it was gone.
Lately, I feel like this every day.
How do I stop this hamster wheel I'm on and B-R-E-A-T-H-E?

  Being grateful is a start.  Additional suggestions are MORE THAN welcome:

  1. I am grateful that I am FINALLY feeling better.
  2. I am grateful that now that I am finally feeling better, I can resume my morning walks.
  3. I am grateful (and optimistic) that now that I can resume my morning walks, my anxiety level will drop back to it's "normal" levels.
  4. I am grateful for my dog trainer and E-collar.

What are you grateful for this Monday?

P.S. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest.  Later on today, I will post a poll where you will choose the three eye-concealers I will sample.  Help me, help you (and me, of course) look beautiful.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

If Only SpongeBob Were My Child's Teacher

7 "Ooh, third grade, " a friend says to me. "Tough year."
"At least you have a good teacher," another mom chimes in.
Her words should have comforted me except for one small problem... my son HATES his teacher.

He greets me on the school steps every afternoon upset, worn out. He's boiling over with pent-up rage that seeps out steadily, punctuating our walks home with whines, demands, and impotent punches at the air.
After a snack and some outside play he calms down but soon it's time to start homework ... and in our family dictionary the definition for homework is: NIGHTMARE. I cannot think of anything short of painful medical procedures or pulling my fingernails out one by one that I would LESS like to do with my son.

Math problems that should take fifteen minutes take an hour or more considering the complicated matrix of mental breakdowns and maternal manipulations involved. Multi-tasking is out of the question because he demands I remain glued to his side, ready to help. He cries out for help with a pitiful combination of helplessness and blame, calling himself stupid and lashing out at me for not being able to help him.

I want to cradle him and smack him at the same time.

Please click here to read the rest of the article at LA Mom's Blog.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Declare Yourself...and Tell Your Friends

My civic duty for the day.
Get out and register.
Tell your friends to register.

Fed Up This Friday

If you follow my twitters, you know that yesterday was spent fixing and tolerating numerous technological breakdowns. 

My Tivo broke, my 6 month old IMac's operating system crashed, my home internet went out, and when I tried to make the best of my circa 1980's office situation by catching up on my mailings and filing, my copier broke down!

I had no choice but to give up and take a walk.  Thankfully my IPod still worked.  It was my only link to sanity. 

I woke this morning with the hope today would be better.  I'd fixed my Tivo, fixed my internet connection, found a way to go around the problem with my copier (temporarily),  and the computer repair guy was due tonight at 7pm.

I sat down in front of my ancient laptop, waiting (somewhat) patiently as it's aging brain slowly computed each and every command.  I was distracted by a foreign sound.  Water.  Dripping.  Dripping.

I turned toward the sound coming from under my kitchen sink - NEVER good news.  Fretfully I opened the cabinet as water rushed out onto me and the hardwood floor.

The cabinet under my kitchen sink is chock full with household goodies:  a garbage can for recycling, a box of garbage liners, extra water filters, sponges, dishwashing liquid, a box of Brillo pads, and an under sink water filtering system. 

It was this system, normally a welcome addition to our household, that for some unknown reason, was leaking it's purified drinking water all over the wood cabinet, soaking everything in it's wake. 

So, having wasted yet another morning cleaning up household "messes", I am desperate to find something to smile about.

Here is a picture of one nice moment I had yesterday.  I'm sharing it with Candid Carrie and her Phriday Photo Phinish Phiesta and I'm sharing it with you.  It makes me smile.

Out of desperation to calm my destructive annoying highly-energetic puppy and take back control of my house, I recently taught my water phobic Labrador how to swim.

 A Boy and His Dog

Have a nice weekend.  I hope I will. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Merlotmom Does Japan: Part 4, The Bullet Train, Sad Excuse For A Tour Guide, and The Pee Story!

MM:  Hello? Yes, I'm back with another installment of MM Does Japan.
Readers: Finally, we've been waiting like for-ev-ah.
MM:  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Quit giving me grief I get enough of that at home.
Readers:  Later girlfriend!
MM:  Wait, wait!  Come back.
Readers(chirp, chirp).
MM:  Shoot.  Now I've burned the blogger bridge, too.  (sniff, sniff) Who else is left?    LinkedIn.  I'll try LinkedIn. No one knows me there.

Hi, All!
Yes, it's been awhile, so if you need a Japanese refresher go here , here, and here.

I'll begin Part 4 as we bid goodbye to the big city in search of a more traditional Japan.

Just as we got the hang of navigating Tokyo's Metro system and communicating with the natives (in spite of knowing only six Japanese words), it was time to leave the big city for Kyoto.

We were sad to leave the omnipresent masses behind:

masses of people

masses of neon
and masses of way-cool technology NOT compatible outside of Japan
(what's up with that?)
 The above three photos are of Akibahara aka "Electric City"
(these are courtesy of google images)
But we looked forward to seeing Kyoto which is an older Japanese city loaded with temples, shrines, castles, and palaces made of gold and silver.

To get there from Tokyo we took the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train)
(photo courtesy of
The bullet train was inaugurated in 1964 as the world's first high-speed train. It travels at 300 km/h, which for number-challenged Americans like me, translates to 186 mph.
We got to Tokyo Station in time for our 12:32pm departure
At precisely 12:25pm the train arrived
 Female member of cleaning crew

At which point a gender-specific dressed cleaning crew descended upon the train like swarms of ants in search of a candy bar.  In uniforms of pink and blue they carried their neatly packed plastic supply totes and swiftly made their way through the cars.

At 12:30pm the crew departed and we were instructed to board. Not even during NYC rush hour have I seen people move so fast.  In an orderly and efficient fashion, commuters carrying briefcases and bento boxes stashed their totes in the rack above, hung their suit jackets on hooks, and settled into their assigned seats.

At 12:32pm EXACTLY the train pulled out of the station as businessmen pulled pork cutlet sandwiches and sushi rolls from their cozy packages. It was like watching a perfectly choreographed ballet.

Not to be made to feel like tourists, though "DUH" just look at us,

we pulled out our own array of Japanese munchies: chicken teriyaki, chicken meatballs on a skewer, shrimp tempura, sushi rolls, noodles, seaweed and sprouts (the latter were mine).

Where did we get all these goodies?   Glad you asked.
Why, in our favorite place to eat in all of Tokyo - the department store - of course.

Yes, the department stores in Tokyo all have huge, glorious gourmet food markets on the bottom floors. This ain't your typical California mall food court, this is epicurian HEAVEN. Chocolates, pastries, cakes, fresh breads, bread rolls shaped like rabbits and turtles, gigantic fresh produce, prepared lunches, salads, meats.  It sounds tacky but, more than once, we purchased a customized smorgasbord for four and brought it back to our hotel to eat (no seating areas in the store - probably too messy).

Arriving at the Hyatt Kyoto, my kids were thrilled to see a modern hotel lobby with a choice of three restaurants: American, Italian and Japanese. Hamburger, anyone?
They LOVED the Japanese influenced room complete with the comforts of home.
That evening, we ventured out to the Gion District, an area of backstreets filled with traditional tea houses and antique shops.  We had hoped to run into some real life geishas. But actual sightings in the street are rare, and as far as I know, my husband is not a regular client, so no geisha girls for us!
We still had a great time shopping and people watching.  And we did see plenty of these:

Japanese rickshaw driver
The next day we visited the Imperial Palace. The Emperor moved from here to Tokyo (which became the capital of Japan in the late 1800s). This palace is now open to the public. We were looking forward to our guided tour until I was introduced to our tour guide.

 She seemed unsure of herself, nervous. Turns out she had reason to be, we were popping her tour-guide cherry.
 Lucky us.

The kids picked up on her anxiety right away and being that we were touring yet another palace, the whines and groans started immediately. She did manage to read off her notes in very bad English explain the history of the building to us but her voice was so quiet and her sentences so broken it was difficult to garner any real information from her.   So I took pictures instead...

It started to pour which made it harder to hear what our tour guide was saying but I did manage to catch this brilliant suggestion when we reached the Japanese gardens:

"This is a bridge.  Take picture now, please." 

So I did.


On our way out of the Imperial Palace, I could no longer avoid what I had been dreading for weeks:

I had to pee.

I could tell from the restroom's exterior that I had reason to fret.  The moment of truth had arrived.

I opened the stall door and was faced with my nightmare:

A Japanese-style toilet
In case your perspective is off (or my photo is bad) the toilet is built into the floor.  I am standing above it, those are my feet on either side of it. 
As much as I feared this moment, I was ready.  I had prepared myself for battle by wearing a dress and mentally mapping out my strategy. 
Dress up.
Underwear off.
Center body directly over toilet.
Problem was, it had been a while since my last yoga class and my squatting had seen better days.  I released into the porcelain basket.  All went well.  I started to relax, and then, big mistake - I shouldn't have relaxed!  Suddenly without the tension to guide it, my stream went astray, missing the target and landing squarely on my left white shoe.
Now, I know I've mentioned in this blog before about the dozen or more supplements I swallow every day.  Do you know what happens to your pee when it's on vitamins?  It turns bright yellow; like radiating special powers yellow; like never cough or sneeze while wearing white pants yellow; like there's no getting away with having peed on your foot yellow.
Shit.  I put my underwear back on and as I left the stall to head toward the sink a woman exited the stall across from me. I caught a quick glimpse behind her and you know what I saw?  A western-style toilet.  The only one in the place.  Shit.  Shit.  I learned my lesson for next time:  check ALL stalls before doing the squat.
I went to the sink and did my best to destroy the evidence which wasn't easy considering the lack of paper goods in public Japanese bathrooms.  Luckily the pee hit the leather of my shoe rather than the suede so whatever was left of the stain I quickly covered with dirt before returning to the group.    I managed to save myself public humiliation but, of course, quickly shared the story with my family.  Hey, I had to share it with someone!  In hindsight, I suppose I could have twittered.  Oh well.
I have no pictures of the pee on my shoe (I'm not sure whether that upsets you or makes you want to kiss me.)  Truth is, it didn't occur to me at the time. Whatever brain cells I have left were occupied with the shame of the moment and couldn't see it for the humor it would bring you me us no one later.
Next time on Merlotmom Does Japan we see more of Kyoto, the beautiful city of Nara - where the largest Buddha in the world resides, and, yes, the inside of a Japanese ER where you get to see Merlotmom sans makeup.  Prepare yourselves.
Before I go, I'll leave you with an old Japanese proverb:
Man who pees on his shoe...has dirty shoes.

See you next time!

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