Monday, August 31, 2009

Family Vacation: The Grown Up Years

I once said in a blog entry (about 2 weeks ago), "I often wonder how I'll top my Bali vacation". What I should have said was, "I often wonder how I'll top my Bali vacation, but I also wonder how I'll top The Great 2009 Anderson Family Recession Road Trip."

I should have said this because
1) it's true, but also because
2) I should've known my dad would find this blog and be "heartbroken" by the oversight

My dad is a Chevy Chase reincarnate and he planned our family vacation down to the minute. SERIOUSLY YA'LL, a 62 page pdf in chronological order, including excel spreadsheets with drive times and purposes for stopping at said places, google maps, website print outs of all restaurants and tourist stops. . . the list goes on and on. This OCD-like organization and flare for the dramatic? apple/tree, I know.

Soooo the 2 Trees and 2 of their 3 Apples (and the oldest Apple's Orange) set off on a vacation of a lifetime in June. We drove from Oklahoma City through a couple state lines to the Grand Canyon sculpted by the hand of God; on to Vegas, lured by the sites and sounds of Sin City; then through a maze of tree sprinkled mountains on the Pacific coast to Bodega Bay, affording us the opportunity to experience culture-rich San Francisco and the inebriating effects of Napa Valley.

I have to say - I think vacations are wasted on anyone under the age of 10, because I've been to the Grand Canyon before, but somehow can only remember being really hot and thirsty. Seeing it again with a new adult appreciation for all things Natural and Amazing, was amazing.
It was also my inaugural trip to Vegas. The youngest Apple couldn't join us on the entire road trip, something about supporting her college career via soccer? but somehow she managed to meet us in Vegas for that portion of the trip (funny how the timing worked out for her :) Either way, I worried about being amongst the delightful filth for the first time with my parents and sisters (19 and pregnant) ((one is 19 and the other is pregnant)), but it suddenly hit me!!

I don't have to be drunk to stay in Vegas.

It's not like they have cops at the city limits with breathalyzers, "0.08? Sorry, ma'am, you're not drunk enough to enter." I hope everyone has the chance to experience the city sober - Cirque de Soleil, french bistros, an 8am run on The Strip, actually having the inhibitions to stop gambling while you're up??? Fabulous.

I want to know where California residents go on vacation. And then I want to know why. Why do you ever leave California, Californians?? Maybe if you vacationed in your own state, it wouldn't be in debt. Ever thought about that? I l o v e Northern California.

They have San Francisco. It's always a dear joy to walk around that city and people watch! And consume Ghirardelli's best fudge, take Alcatraz tours, ride trolleys for a hot second, let crazy homeless people tell you jokes. Just a delight.
And they have big sequoias! at Sequoia National Forests! Really, really big trees. Named BIG names like "General Sherman".Then there's Napa Valley and it's oldest child, Wine. Wine is beautiful, smells good and doesn't talk back. Dad bought a million cases. That may or may not be the reason I visit Dallas so regularly these days.
And Bodega Bay -- Hitchcock's The Birds was filmed there, but I didn't have a single nightmare. In fact, it was the most peaceful sleep I had the entire trip, because I had my own FLOOR and a purple room. Luckily, we're related to the people that own the rental, so anytime I want to pretend I'm rich and stay at a mansion on a coastal golf course, I'll just scoot on over.

I was scared about being cooped up in a vehicle with my family for 10 days, but we're much more travel-compatible than I thought. And we had a DVD player with headphones, so I didn't have to converse with them much.

Thanks to these two for the vacation. And the gift of life.
(I know what you're thinking, it'd be easier to get a good pic of dad if we photographed him awake? You're probably right)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sleepless in Houston

I've fallen victim to consciousness. It's 5:04am on Sunday morning and I'm wide awake! This never happens to me!! I swear, usually my pillows are filled with the strongest active ingredient in Nyquil or something, because the moment my head hits 'em, I'm o u t... but not tonight. or more accurately, not this morning. It's probably a combination of 3 Saturday naps, a 9pm Coke and a 2am dose of Midol, but I don't blame myself. I've found it's much easier to like yourself if you never blame yourself, even for things that are obviously yourself's fault. Denial is key here.

Did you know Midol is nothing but Advil with caffeine? So who voluntarily ingests Midol at 2am? A woman in pain severe enough to wake her from a stage 3 sleep, that's who. In fact, I've often wondered if there were a graphical representation of the pain a woman accumulates over the course of womanhood, how would that compare to the pain a man accumulates in a couple swift kicks to the family jewels? I don't think I'd ever resort to coughing or anything like that, but we both end up in the fetal...... I'm just sayin, probably similar.

So at 3am, to battle my caffeine overdose, I turned on the Tube. I officially despise 3am TV for the diet infomercials and hospital trauma programs. How am I supposed to sleep after I've seen a 17 year old's brain matter protruding from his fractured scull?? Exactly. That's when it clicked - Smartash, you've spent the last 12 hours doing math homework! Make use of this time! Grab your Biology book and be a superstudent! Once I hit emergent properties, something better clicked. Smartash, update your blog. Now that's what I call good use of time, and blogging is definitely more fun, but one must wonder . . . if I kept reading, might I be asleep right now? The world may never know, but I can tell you one thing, I'm getting some good quality time with BearBear.

He's my roommate's cat. He looks more like a cotton ball on steroids with eyes and is about as long as a 3 year old is tall, but I still smile when he comes around. Funny thing is, when my roommate asked if she could get a cat, I had just one-itty-bitty request: short hair. She returned with Bear, a white cat that needs a haircut more often than I do. I actually find myself sprinting to the kitchen on weekday mornings, whipping to and fro to prepare breakfast and sprinting back to my room, all the while dodging any floating Bear-hair that threatens the integrity of my black pants. But again, I still smile when he comes around. Especially at 5:00am.

I can promise you that cats and Midol were not what I had in mind when I started this entry, but sanity isn't really a characteristic of insomnia.

Anyway, I thought for sure I'd get some sleep before my 7:15am alarm, but now it looks like I'm pulling a good old fashion all-nighter, because I couldn't be MORE awake. Maybe I'll be extra ambitious and go for a run at sunrise! Or take a morning bath and cook a big breakfast! Lord knows I'll be hitting the Starbucks before church because this less than restful night will inevitably hit me just as we bow our heads to pray... if I don't get some coffees, my head won't be coming back up... and that just wouldn't be prudent.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Buffalo My Grill

oH mY gOODNESS. I love me some Buffalo Grill.

If you've never had the opportunity to eat there, please allow me to paint the picture for you. Everything from the new parking experience to the smiley person on the microphone screaming your name... this place has it all.

First. Thanks to large corporations taking over local grass-roots (*sense sarcasm here), Buffalo Grill now has a decent parking lot. It started as a cluster of 3-point-turns and can-I-fit-in-between-this-dumpster-and-this-wall kind of parking experience, but now there are some 300 spaces, because the restaurant sits in the parking lot of the BRAND NEW BUFFALO SPEEDWAY HEB. I'm so sick of hearing their commercials, but I do have a nerdy friend that attended the VIP Grand Opening. He said it was "awesome" because they were giving away free samples on every aisle (we don't hang out much).

Once you park and make your initial descent on the front door, you're greeted by the unpretentious vibe of home. It really is something like waking up and walking down the hall to your childhood kitchen. And don't even get me started on the FUN of the new windows they installed on the West side of the restaurant. LET THERE BE LIGHT!

Now walk up to the counter, my friend. If God is on your side, there won't be a line, but don't think you're going to hell because this place is so popular, there usually is. I never look at the menu. I've ordered the same thing for 8 years. I do, however, stare at the million or so articles of restaurant awards dating back 20 years, but I don't really read them. They just remind me that I made a brilliant meal choice again. Sometimes I even say a prayer thanking Jesus for making the Buffalo Grill owners.

I'll have 2 pieces of french toast with strawberries and a side of hashbrowns, or if I'm feeling especially spontaneous, I'll get a #2 with fried eggs, over medium, grits and whole wheat toast and coffee. The cinnamon roast kind. That's what I had this morning.

Now get your drink and silverwear and find your table beneath the buffalo head or the western blanket. And just wait. Wait for your name. Be sure to listen for the vowels, because you usually can't understand the sweet lady that screams it through the microphone - "azjslee!! your order weady!!!" Like music to my ears.

I get more worked up from eating Buffalo Grill at 7am on a work day than I do most things in life... now that's good stuff.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

LOLer For Life

For gdsake, why does everyone take themselves so damn seriously? I understand there's "a time and a place" and blahblahblah, but isn't the most important thing in life to be happy... which happens to be characterized by the present day smile... which happens to be caused by HUMOR?? Lighten up.

If you're walking down the hall alone and you trip, don't pretend it didn't happen, and PLEASE don't break into a jog for 4 steps, because everyone knows what you're doing. Pretty people trip, you know. And so do smart people. Here's what you do: chuckle at yourself and say, "sniper!"

See how this humor thing can work for you?

Some professional mountain climbers that take themselves too seriously might not think this picture is particularly funny, but I do. And I'm sure it'll put a smile on the face of my 3 readers, so humor works for me.

Tim Gard was the keynote at a luncheon I attended today. The man has all the answers. I was in hysterics the entire time he was speaking, on the verge of wetting my panties even. He made me realize that I shouldn't be embarrassed about my tendency to laugh in boring or awkward situations. That loving humor, even in the workplace, doesn't make me immature. Humor works for me. when we were busted by cops at our after prom house party with a margarita machine. According to the cop that took himself too seriously, this probably wasn't the best time to laugh. But I did, because something was funny. I couldn't tell you what it was because that was a decade ago, and I was drunk, but that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that I was laughing. And wasn't incarcerated.

Annnyyywaayy -- truth is, I officially refuse to be embarrassed that I find humor in everything.

The One Who Has Her Marbles

Friday, August 14, 2009

No No - We Don't Talk About That

Growing up, I got "talking at inappropriate times" checked on my report card e v e r y s i n g l e 6 w e e k s, but still managed to be a tiptop student with my "terrible" conversational habits. Sooo, I would argue that if a+b=c, then a generous social life is integral to a successful education. After all, one must have balance in life. Even in 3rd grade.

I was put in Mrs. Burg's class, the same teacher my sister had two years prior (I think it's a straight up educational conspiracy to place sibs with the same teacher. It's like having a 3rd parent! Kids need a break from favoritism, ya know). My sister is an unequivocal genius. She was born an old soul, thus, my "talking at inappropriate times" and flare for the dramatic stood out like a sore thumb for Mrs. Burg who quickly became good friends with Mom trying to straighten me up before things got really bad. I even think a frontal lobotomy was suggested, but that was before they started passing out Ritalin like Vitamin C.

To add insult to injury, this was also the year I started asking about sex. Mom tried to change the subject, but I was relentless. I needed to know RIGHT THEN why I felt warm down there when Ariel kissed Prince Eric. I needed to know RIGHT THEN why laying in bed with your friends naked while playing house was all the rave, but wasn't okay with the Big People. I just needed to know. I mean, does this look like the pose of an innocent angel?
I think it was then that my precious mother realized her baby girl wasn't missing a chromosome or an extremity, but worse- I was missing a filter. I talked at inappropriate times AND I talked about inappropriate things. This would only get worse as the years wore on and I became a sassy pre-teen in middle school... then sprouted very small breasts and found my rythym in high school... then became a sexually liberated young adult at Rice, running around campus naked with other naked nerds ... and now, as a Free Spirit, I have a blog.

Now having said that -- I do have a line. Some of my friends consider it more of a "dot" per se, but it's there. And it is crossed many times on one of my favorite websites, which is probably why I go there... it makes me feel like that innocent angel I never was.


If you're not familiar with the site, it's a compilation of, get this, texts from last night. You can enter your texts and they poll readers on whether they think it was a "good night" or a "bad night". Based on the subject matter of the entries and the comments, I think the main demographic is Male and Female, 15-25. Or Male, 15-45. Some of the most hilarious (and toned-down-for-sake-of-my-timid-readers) entries include:

(562): Whatever. They have the same name, so it's not even cheating. It's brand loyalty.

(303): We just made watching Intervention into a drinking game. We drink every time someone does drugs.

(612): When I m@sturbate I pretend my %*$# is the slap chop and I'm destroying vegetables. Do you think that's an eating disorder?

Come on! I don't care who you are, those are funny. But it's definitely touch and go for me. If I read it on a good day, I'm laughing hysterically. If I read it on a bad day, I feel overwhelmed with pity for a teenage society that glorifies a complete disregard for the law, for their health and for their bodies on a regular basis. Most of the entries I think are gross have been voted on as a "good night" by thousands of site visitors and that concerns me. Then I think about my life, starting in 3rd grade, and I read something like this....

(248): Sometimes I forget to take my socks off when I m@sturbate. This always makes me feel like I'm accidentally in a p0rn.

and I just start laughing again. If apples really don't fall far from the tree, I don't know how I'll sleep through the night when I'm a parent.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Luuucy, you got some splainin' to do!

What the eff IS a 'Monkey Mind'? About a year ago, a sister mailed me a book that would change my life.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is a biography of sorts for any woman searching for something. Elizabeth is an Author by trade and a Thinker by blood that found herself stuck in the all-too-common Marriage Vacuum being pressured to pro-create with someone she couldn't imagine spending Happily Ever After with. In the wake of a terrible divorce and depression, she succeeded in having her publisher fund a one year "sabbatical" for her to travel around the world to find truth and happiness in exchange for a novel that chronicled the journey. She spent 4 months in Italy finding Pleasure (eating up delicious food and Italian men) ... 4 months in India finding her Spirituality (in silence at an ashram, scrubbing floors and praying day and night) ... and 4 months in Indonesia finding the beautiful balance between Pleasure and Prayer (and consequently, the love of her life). Ohhh how I strongly recommend this book!


Many many things resonated with me about this woman's story, but the one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was her explanation of her tendency to overthink things... one of my greatest faults. She writes, "I have been cursed with a 'monkey mind' - the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. This in itself isn't necessarily a problem; the problem is the emotional attachment that goes along with the thinking. Happy thoughts make me happy, but -whoop!- how quickly I swing again into obsessive worry, blowing the mood...You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions."

And THAT, is a Monkey Mind.

The book will forever be etched in my memory, what with the 7 or 8 times I've read it, but also because of the vacation that quickly followed the inaugural read...

My bffffl and I both read it last summer and after a few cocktails and conversation about the wonder of Gilbert's journey, we charged our Mastercard with 2 flights to Bali. . . . . . . then planned the trip. Both Type-A planners to a fault, it was like a small orgasm to operate outside our comfort zone like that. Completely illogical. Yet delicious. We met up with another bfffl that lives in Thailand and skipped around the island living adventure after adventure, meeting the same medicine man and traditional Balinese healer that Gilbert herself spent 4 months with, climbing volcanoes at sunrise, rafting down rivers/the local bath and riding elephants!
The trip was in October and it was a m a z i n g. The best vacation of my life. I often wonder how I'll top this one, but I really don't have to worry about that right now ... my bank account tells me so.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Let the Games Begin

Oh my goodness, I don't even know where to begin! I could take you back to The Best Day of my parents' lives (January 11, 1983), but I'll just start with last Monday - the day I was told to start a blog and actually took it seriously.

I've been following about 5 blogs rather closely for a couple years, occasionally finding myself sniffing around random pages (usually in search of pictures because the majority of the writers I come across are extremely BORING), but I never considered starting my own until a dear teammate looked at me with a straight face and made the suggestion. Now granted, it was just after our 8th pitcher of celebratory brewskies so just about everyone seemed interesting enough to write a blog, but I let the suggestion simmer and soon decided it was a brilliant idea.

After all, blogs are anonymous virtual diaries for adults, made famous by the women that stole their bff's diary, hid in the corner of the closet and snickered uncontrollably at its contents as children. And that was me. So if you add that to my self-diagnosed Monkey Mind and the incessant need to express anything and everything I think about, it's only logical that I join the ranks of my favorite fellow bloggers. And face it, my friends, despite your age, there's def-definitely a chemical reaction going on somewhere in your noggin' when you get to read someone else's innermost thoughts... here, I afford you the right to read mine.

In conclusion -- I'm not married, I have no children, but strangely enough, I still have things to talk about (mostly my friends' marriages and children, but that's neither here nor there). Follow along if you dare ... it's usually a bumpy ride on my roller coaster.