Shop ‘Til You Drop. Or Cry. Or Howl.

31 08 2008

When I was a kid, few things made my stomach roll with anxious excitement quite like the thought of going shopping for back-to-school clothes. Excitement because, with each new school year came a shot at re-invention. A chance to impress my peers with the chic and stylish new me that had evolved in the last week of August. And anxiety, because not only did the new me have a tendency to pick out the exact same clothes that the old me would have picked out, thus spoiling any chance of impressing anyone with any re-invention, but also because back-to-school shopping meant going shopping with my mother. Oh the horror.

Back-to-school clothes shopping with my mother was – how can I put this gently – a nightmare. A nasty, brutish and short nightmare. Clothes shopping with me quickly morphed her into a snarling, starving werewolf. Her general approach to shopping is less like a leisure activity, and more like a military exercise. You’re going into a hostile mall environment, so you better know exactly what you want and exactly where to find it. And don’t even think about stopping to collect any casualties. Or accessories. They’re dead weight, and a waste of time. Get what you need, pay for it, get out, and go home for lunch before somebody gets hurt. And whatever you buy better fit, better not be too expensive, and better not look like “something you’d see on Jarvis Street”, which was code for anything hooker-looking. I, on the other hand, always liked to take my grand old time. I had to explore every article that caught my eye. Rub it against my cheek. Smell it. Imagine it in fifteen different scenarios, and assess its potential for mixing and matching with the new me and the old wardrobe. Try it on. Sometimes more than once, depending on my degree of indecision. Stop for a leisurely snack in the food court. Repeat the exploring/assessing/trying on process a dozen or so times, preferably in several stores. Then go back and buy the first few things I tried on, which, incidentally, closely resemble all the stuff already in my closet, only more expensive. Throw in a few outlandish impulse accessory purchases that may or may not ever see the light of day, and voila! My perfect back-to-school shopping day trip. See how these two shopping styles could cause a little conflict, and much rolling of eyes (me) and gnashing of werewolf teeth (her)? Yeeeaah. And that was even before I started wanting to buy Jarvis Street hooker clothes in high school.

Now, as the mother of two little girls who are about to head back to school, I vowed that we would not follow in the same frustrated footstomps of my mother and me. I promised myself that our back-to-school clothes shopping experiences would be the picture of family bonding. There would be no yelling. No crying. No eye rolling. No werewolves. Things would be different. And they were. This weekend, as I traipsed through stores – touching, smelling, imagining – the rest of my family seemed intent on sabotaging my attempt to get the biggest pile of perfect clothing for the smallest pile of credit card debt. Roo rode in the cart, barely able to tolerate the bright lights, loud noise and general hustle and bustle of the over-crowded understocked Sprawlmart. Neener alternated between wanting everything and then nothing, all the while trying to hide under racks and shelves of clothes and whining about going to Mc Donald’s or getting a Kindersurprise. Mr., along for the trip to help kiddie wrangle, did his best to be patient with us all, and to prevent a scene. God love him, he tried. And Squiggles – obviously more than a little jealous that she was not in on the shopping action despite her own rapidly shrinking wardrobe and rapidly growing legs – just yelled and squiggled. And threatened to poop. We made it out of the Sprawlmart with $150 in hastily selected crappy Sprawlmart clothes, and everyone’s nerves slightly more than slightly frayed. Then we pushed our luck. We went shoe shopping. Hoping to salvage the trip, I suggested that Mr. take Squiggles for a walk while I took my big little girls shopping for some new, desperately needed big little girl shoes. Which would have been fine had the shoe store had an even remotely decent selection of comfortable, sensible, not-nauseatingly-expensive big girl shoes. Right from the get-go, Roo was set on a pair of sporty pink Disney Princess mary janes. With blinky lights on the heels. There was only one pair. In her size, naturally. And naturally, everything else in her size was either too flimsy, to boyish, or too hard to get on and off by herself. I had no choice but to let her get them. And naturally, Neener decided that she too needed sporty pink Disney Princess blinky heeled shoes. But Neener was shit out of luck. They didn’t have them in her size, and it would take a week to get them in. Let the teeth gnashing (her) and eye rolling (me) begin! I tried to talk her into a sparkling black and silver pair of Hannah Montana mary janes.

No! The don’t have blinky lights!

A pair of blue and silver Champions, just like the ones she had last year?

No! I want blinky lights!

A sporty pink pair with rhinestones and silver stripes?

No! I! Neeeeeeeeeeed! Bliiiiiinky! Liiiiiiights!

No. What Neener needed was to be escorted from the shoe store by her father, who heard her howling at the other end of the mall. And suddenly, faced with the prospect of being dragged from the mall, new big girl shoeless, Neener changed her tune. The howling stopped. She peeled herself off the mall floor.

Fine. I’ll get the sparkling black and silver Hannah Montanas.

Score one for Mommy. Yes, my kid threw a fit, and yes, I wound up buying two pairs of over-priced Disney character themed shoes. But, I had accomplished what I’d set out to do: I took my daughters back-to-school shopping and I did not turn into a howling, teeth gnashing werewolf. And, it was buy one get one half price at the shoe store. Score two for Mommy!

I can also proudly say that, despite the best efforts of many manufacturers of trampy little girls’ clothing (yeah, I’m talking to you, Stuff by Hillary Duff!), none of the back-to-school duds my daughters will be sporting next week even remotely resemble something you’d see on Jarvis Street. No. Not yet. I am not so confident in my own parental omnipotence to think that our back-to-school shopping battles won’t ever go there. I’m sure they will. They are, after all, my daughters. But I am also my mother’s daughter. Which means I could morph into a snarling, starving werewolf¬† – who likes to take her time shopping – at the drop of a hookerish looking hat. And then…ooooh the horror.





Ketchup

29 08 2008

Another visit to the little house in the big woods, another week of blogging slackerdom. So, here are the highlights and lowlights:

Highlights

The first half of the week was warm and sunny, and completely justified my packing of tank tops, shorts, summer dresses and bathing suits. We hit the beach. Nanny taught Neener and Roo to (sort of) tread water. Squiggles bobbed around on the waves in her giant inflatable puppy dog boat. We had a bonfire, complete with weenies, s’mores, stargazing and a Bon Jovi sing-along. We went to a farm and fed bunnies, saw a llama, and bought vegetables that were so fresh I should have slapped them. I did a reading (an excerpt from this very blog) at a Writer’s Federation event. I rocked the house, if I do say so myself. We went to a gorgeous ocean-side wedding of another friend from way back. Inexplicably, the sweet little girl I remembered had grown into a stunning young woman in what was surely only the blink of an eye. It was a ’20’s themed wedding and reception. The bride arrived in an antique car, the guests were dressed in flappers and pearls and hats and suspenders, and the reception was the epitome of romance, in black and white: a regular community centre transformed into an ultra classy party-o-rama, red roses on every table, and fountains of chocolate. Honest to god chocolate fountains, complete with fruit and skewers for dipping. One dark and one white. It was awesome. Mr. was sporting the all-black 20’s gangster look complete with a pinstriped hat. Me? A blond bobbed wig, little black velvet hat, black shift dress, white pearls, black feather boa and fishnet stockings. One hot gun moll. We drank, we danced, we dipped strawberries in chocolate, and we generally rocked the house if I do say so myself. And I didn’t even get sick! Yes, those were the highlights.

And now, for the…

Lowlights

The second half of the week was cold and rainy, which completely justified my packing of jeans, hoodies, raincoats and socks. Nanny taught Neener and Roo about how the Scottish used to stick thistle burrs beneath the saddle blankets of British horses to drive the horses insane, and I think Neener and Roo decided that they were the Scots and I was a British horse, and so made it their mission to try all manners of insanity inducing maneuvers on me, including Roo attempting to eat thistle burrs. Squiggles elected to wake up four, five or six times a night. The computer went berserk, so I was without access to my email, facebook, blog, work research, and civilization as a whole, it seemed. The interview I had set up for my latest writing assignment fell through at the last minute. Mr.’s latest fix-it project at the little house in the big woods was stymied by the mysteries of 30 year old electrical wiring, and much time was spent cursing, plunging the house into varying degrees of darkness, trying not to get electrocuted, more cursing, more darkness, and ultimately culminated in still-gaping holes left in the ceiling of the under-lit kitchen. Oh, and Mr. finally got the barfies. On our anniversary. Wooohoo. The dawn of our seventh year of marriage was spent with him in bed trying not to barf, and me in a rain-soaked, chilly, computerless, dimly lit house trying not to be driven insane by my trio of sleepless, yamming, thistle eaters. But, this is not the first time our anniversary plans have been waylaid by the barfies. Probably won’t be the last. So we’re making plans to go out to celebrate some other night. I might even haul out the blond bobbed wig and the fishnets for the occasion.

There. That pretty much sums up last week of our life. And now I can get back to writing about more important things. Like the meetings I’ll be having next week at Neener and Roo’s new school, in which I’ll be trying to make sure that no one does anything stupid, like try to teach Neener the alphabet, or put a smiley face within a five mile radius of Roo. Or my surprising conclusion about weaning Squiggles. Or what I’m going to do about corn poop. That’s right, corn poop. Curious? Me too. I’ll keep you posted.





I’m a SuperHero. Seriously. My shirt says so.

23 08 2008

Thanks to my dear pal Traci for passing along this, which I’ve added to my list of stuff I want…

Available at www.etsy.com





Autism Land’s Next Top Model

19 08 2008

Sometimes, when I go to look at myself in the mirror, all I can see is Roo. Literally. More often than not I have to push her out of the way just so I can see how obvious the spit-up stains on my shirt are, and to be sure that no-one drew a Fu Manchu on me as I slept. That child is always standing, or more accurately, strutting in front of the mirror. Or the finger-and-face print covered glass of the patio door. Or our giant television, which she will intentionally turn off so she can gaze at her little ol’ self in the shiny blackness of the screen. And I’m pretty sure her reluctance to use cutlery is rooted in the desire to stare at her reflection in the idle concave of her spoon so she can see what she looks like eating upside down. Vanity, or insanity? I’m not sure. But I do know that it’s all my fault.

From the time Neener and Roo were about a year old, they’ve been surrounded by mirrors. Our home was full of them for very good reasons. Because of some early signs of potential oral motor problems, I figured Roo was going to need some speech therapy. So I took it upon myself to get a jump on it, to ease my fears that we’d be left languishing on a waiting list. The suggestion I got from our Occupational Therapist was mirrors. Sit with her in front of a mirror and make faces. So we did. We secured mirrors to the walls, right at little person’s eye level, so Roo could sit and stare at her own face. Then later, so she could watch herself move, to improve her sense of where her body was in space and help her gross motor development and co-ordination. Another reason for the mirrors was the fact that their strategic placement allowed me to spy on my kids. It was the next best thing to having extra eyes surgically implanted in the back and sides of my head. The big horizontal mirror affixed two feet off the floor on the living room wall let me see into every corner of the room from my supper-making vantage point at the kitchen counter. And the one on the playroom wall gave me a great view of any doings as they transpired, from the comfort of my computer desk. So, mirrors were a big part of our surroundings, and looking in them was a big part of our life.

And then there’s me. I’m guilty of being a bit of a mirror hound myself. When I go window shopping, I never actually see what’s in the store windows because I’m too busy looking at my own reflection. And when I was a kid, I spent extended periods of time, lost in the bathroom mirror, looking at myself. And talking to myself. Conducting interviews with myself, actually. About my thoughts on anything and everything, including, but not limited to how I got famous enough to warrant so many hours of interviews. I was preparing for my future career as a celebrity, ok. And when a delightfully sycophantic interviewer with TV crew in tow comes knocking on my door, wanting to know my top 10 favourite song lyrics of all time and why, I’ll be ready. More than ready. And I’ll know exactly what I look like when I’m giving those answers.

Like I said, it’s all my fault. I gave Roo abundant access to the reflective surfaces, and now she’s following in my self-obsessed footsteps. And she’s not just looking at herself. She’s posing. Flipping her hair and grinning. Winking as she strikes a sassy hands-on-hips stance. Sucking in her cheeks and batting her eyelashes. Checking herself out on any surface that will bounce her beauty back to her. And Roo is beautiful. Unlike me, she is very photogenic. Actually, everyone else in our family is photographically challenged. I can magically make three extra chins appear in the blink of a lens. Mr. is the king of big fake crazy hyena smiles. And Neener, despite being Roo’s identical twin, has a knack for looking a little drunk, with one eye half open in almost every picture. Even Squiggles is prone to Franken-baby shots. Now, that’s not to say we don’t have our moments. Every once in a while we all manage to pull off a nice picture. But for Roo, it’s not the exception, it’s the rule. And I think she knows it. Unlike me, I don’t think she’s obsessing, looking for reassurance, trying to allay her insecurities. I think she’s genuinely admiring herself. Adoring herself. And though I hope she eventually graduates to interviewing herself in preparation for sharing her beautiful brains with the world, instead of just staring at herself being cute, I can totally see her being plenty content sticking to the hair-flipping, cheek-sucking, sassy hands-on-hips posing. So, I might be raising a Next Top Model contestant here. Not my first choice, but since when do my kids follow any sort of plan I’ve concocted? I suppose there are far worse things for a girl – any girl, let alone a girl on the Autism Spectrum – to aspire to be.¬† Remember Heather from ANTM? Yeah, I’d be ok if my kid turned out like her.

From the time Roo was a baby, people always commented on her eyes. How her eyes seemed to be looking into your soul, or looking right through you. But now, I think I understand that. It’s not that she’s looking through you. She’s looking past you. Scanning over your shoulder for a chance to see her reflection in a car window, an oven door, or the little metal bit on a light fixture. Or, if she’s doing the soul searching eye-contact thing, maybe it’s because you’re wearing glasses. Or, she’s looking deep into your bright, shiny, glassy eyes to catch a glimpse of the thing that means the most to her: her self. And really, she has every reason in the world to love what she sees.

Now if only she’d get the hell out of my way so I can get in front of that mirror and finish my interview about how I got all these spit-up stains on my shirt.





We interrupt this post for a late breaking news story…

15 08 2008

I started off today writing a post about me. About how I’m struggling to strike a balance with my work and home life, due to the fact that I have a work-at-home life. And I’ll get to that. Some other time. Today, our evening trip to the park resulted in a much more important development: Neener made a friend.

Neener has been desperate to make a friend ever since we moved here. And she’s been trying so hard. But more than once, her precocious attempts at striking up a friendly conversation with her peers have been dashed. First, by cliquish little girls who walk away from her, muttering to each other about how they neither know or like my little girl, followed by loud giggling about how they’re having a sleepover. Then, by the little boys who play too hard, too fast, too rough for her to keep up. Sure, there was Issac, a little guy a year her junior , with whom she struck up a conversation that lead to much decapitating of playground flowers. But he wasn’t exactly sleepover material. And then, along came Brookelyn. A sturdy five year old with long brown hair, brown eyes and glasses, who introduced herself by spelling out her name. Exactly what Neener does. The chemistry was instant because Brookelyn was, quite obviously, an odd little duck too. And oh boy, could she boss Neener around. But good. Neener was thrilled. And so were we. And so was Brookelyn’s Dad, who, just like us, was hovering close by to keep an ear on the interaction. When Brookelyn said ‘Let’s play horses’, Neener broke into a gallop. When Brookelyn said let’s go to the swing, Neener eagerly gave her a push. They talked about how they both wear glasses. They talked about how they both had moved here from another province. They talked about how they both love tea parties and playing dress up. And when Brookelyn squealed “Hey, do you like Hannah Montana?” Neener squealed right back “Sure!” even though she wouldn’t know Hannah Montana if she fell over her. That didn’t matter. Anything for you, Brookelyn.

We stayed at the park far longer than we’d planned. And finally, as the sun gave way to darkness, we managed to pry Neener away from the pretend lemonade stand she and Brookelyn were running. Saying a long goodbye, she declared Brookelyn her best friend. Brookelyn agreed. And there were whispers of seeing each other at the park tomorrow. But we were stupid. We didn’t get a phone number! We didn’t find out what time Brookelyn and her dad would be back at the park! We didn’t ask them out on a playdate! All we can do is hope that Neener and her new best friend’s paths cross again. Soon. In the meantime, I think I’d better set the PVR to record some of this Hannah Montana show, so I can get Neener up to speed on the details of the crappy television show, of which her new best friend is such a fan. I’d even consider hosting the sleepover of the century. Homemade cookies, a real lemonade stand, tea parties, dress up, playing horses until the cows come home. And a Hannah Montana-a-thon if that’s what it takes to solidify this friendship. Anything for you, Neener.





Dear Neighbours, We’re Not As Weird As We Seem

12 08 2008

Dear Neighbours,

My name is Domestic Blister. As you know, my odd little family and I moved into the neighbourhood a couple of months ago. I’m sure you’ve seen us around. But we tend to keep to ourselves, and you might not know much about us, so I feel like I’ve got some explaining to do. So here it is, a thorough explanation of some of the strange behaviours you have undoubtedly noticed, that will hopefully ease your mind and make you less likely to ask the cops to ‘just keep an eye on us.’

First off, if you are one of those who has accidentally gotten an eyeful of indecency as you casually passed by our house, I apologize. We’re not used to having so many damn windows. Or a back yard. Or shirts and pants on at the same time. Please be assured that once my children start school, they will not be leaving the house unless they are fully dressed, and once cold weather hits, I will do considerably less pants-less prancing. And as soon as I manage to wean the baby, I will almost always have a shirt on when I am sitting in front of the living room window. However, my husband, Mr. Blister, has recently begun working out, and so I can not guarantee that there won’t be a sharp escalation of ripped, shirtless man sightings in and around our house at some point in the coming months. If you are concerned, please feel free to take up a community collection on our behalf in order to purchase us some nice window coverings. Genuine bamboo blinds, or some nicely tailored designer curtains would do just fine.

And speaking of my husband, you may be wondering why you don’t see him meandering off to work every morning. Or any morning, for that matter. The answer is simple: he is a kept man. He is kept, in part by the federal government’s parental leave program. You may also be wondering why you never see me meandering off to work every morning. Or any morning, for that matter. Again, a simple answer: I am a kept woman. Kept busy, that is, with three kids, a stay-at-home-husband, and a freelance writing career that allows me the freedom and luxury to work from home at any and all hours of the day and night.

Then, there are our children. The baby, as you may have noticed, seems pretty normal. That is because she is only eight months old, and has yet to come into her full powers. I’d like to suggest that you make every effort possible to stay on her good side. Tickle her chin. Make silly faces at her. Refer to her as Your Royal Squiggleness. And if she drops a toy in front of you, for the love of God, pick it up. If you value your ears, pick that toy up. Fast. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The other two, on the other hand, are pretty harmless. And yes, they are twins. And yes, those are black noses and little whiskers drawn on their faces in marker. And yes, we do try to brush their hair on a regular basis. And yes, we know that one can’t seem to keep her pants up over her arse, and the other one can’t seem to keep her dress down over her arse. We’re working on that. You might also be wondering why we always seem to be following our kids around, and barking commands at them. Again, the explanation is simple: One of them is Autistic, with a tendency to taste anything she gets her hands on, and could easily let butterflies lead her on wild butterfly chases right out into traffic, and the other one is a slightly hysterical drama queen who has a tendency to need us desperately one minute, and ignore us completely the next. And sometimes all the following and barking is because we’re just pretending to be a family of dogs.

So there you have it. We’re not crazy nudists. We just need cooler weather and better curtains. We’re not drug dealers, or teachers , or any other sort of suspicious non-working-but-still making-money slackers with nothing to do all summer but bar-be-que and go to the beach. We’re not overprotective hyper-parents, but our kids are not your average kids either, so we need to do things a little differently. We are not in some sort of witness re-location program. We’re just a little preoccupied and a little shy and a little complicated. But we’re not as weird as we seem, I swear. Once you get to know us, I’m sure you’ll love us. And years from now, we’ll be sitting on the deck together, having a drink and laughing about all the wacky scenarios you dreamed up back when we first moved into the neighbourhood. About how you figured this family of drug-dealing, vacationing teacher nudists from a witness relocation program had moved in next door, and were too paranoid to tell anyone anything about themselves, or let their kids wander around the neighbourhood alone.

There, feel better? I know I sure do. We look forward to getting to know you better, and we eagerly await the day that an even weirder new family moves into the neighbourhood, so we can join you in a nice neighbourly game of outrageous speculation. And thank you in advance for taking us off the agenda of your next neighbourhood watch meeting. We’d like to keep a low profile. At least until we get some better curtains.

Sincerely,

The Blister Family





Don’t Leave Me Hanging

8 08 2008

Please pardon my blogging slackness lately. The Blister family is still recovering from a road trip to the little house in the big woods. And I am still recovering from the fact that I’ve landed a nice heap of freelance writing work. Yes, I am officially writing for fun and profit these days. So, our week-long jaunt to my parent’s little house in the big woods was one of both business and pleasure. The business part was me interviewing some fascinating local business people for some feature profile stories. The pleasure part was attending the backyard wedding of my childhood next-door neighbour. Except in the big woods, there isn’t really such a thing as next-door. More like we shared the same big long dirt driveway, and could holler to each other from our doorsteps, even though we could not always see each other through the thicket of trees, or the blackness of a country night. For as long as I can remember we played together and partied together. She is one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Despite being from opposite sides of the world (she from the same big woods as me, he from Tokyo) M & M found each other, and they are a beautiful pair. Their wedding ceremony was a pure reflection of that. They made their heartfelt vows in her parents’ backyard garden, near a babbling brook, and the place where we spent countless nights gathered around a bonfire wailing out campfire classics like “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” There was a gourmet meal, free flowing wine to toast old friends and new lives, and a round of speeches that would bring tears to a glass eye. But the part I was looking most forward to was the reception. Or, as it’s better known where I come from, “The Time.” For months, I’ve been psyching myself up for M&M’s Time. Some people might envision an elegant evening of dining and dancing which slowly winds to a peaceful culmination at a reasonable hour. What I had in mind for this occasion – the first wedding I’ve been to since my own almost seven years ago, the wedding of a friend who is more like my sister, the wedding taking place only a short, rocky stagger from the little house in the big woods, in a place where parties have been known to rage on from sunset to rise – was a full on revival of my wasted youth. For at least eight or ten hours. Oh yes, I had plans for the time I’d be having at M&M’s Time. This Blister was ready to shrug off the shackles of motherhood, and party like it was 1999. Or, possibly 1995, depending on who was doing the DJ-ing.

Back in those days, I could hang. Start a party at 4 p.m and rock right on through until 4 a.m? Nooo problem. Consume disturbing amounts of various substances and still be functional enough to make it to my early morning Political Science class, or write my Women’s Studies mid-term? You betcha. Watch and laugh as other people lost their cool after just a few rounds of jell-o shooters and a hit from the bong? Hahahahell yeah. I was one of those girls who could party most people under the table. And by times, would quite happily party myself under the table, then crawl out from under that table ready for more. That was hanging. And I could do it. Back in the day.

Clearly, times have changed. These days, if I’m up at 4 a.m, it’s because somebody needs either a barfie bowl or a boob. The only thing I consume disturbing amounts of is tea and fiber, and I’m so bloody functional by 8 a.m that I could teach a Political Science class and grade two dozen Women’s Studies mid-terms. Simultaneously. While breastfeeding. And making breakfast. While getting my yoga on in downward dog. My jell-o almost never has booze in it anymore, the bong has been turned into a deceptively decorative flower vase, and although my cool is probably not actually lost, it’s pretty damn hard to find under the piles of laundry and toys. It might even be under the table. But if that’s the case, it is probably so covered with old food bits and dust grizzlies that I don’t want it back. Yes, my hardcore partying days have given way to more important things. Like making mushed sweet potatoes, and giving bum wiping lessons, and explaining why keeping half eaten peaches in your bedroom so you can have a snack later on is not as brilliant as it seems. And I’m glad that this is my life, rather than the lonely existence of a perpetual party hunting barfly hovering on the cusp of a booze soaked cougar-hood. But, like I said, every once in a while, I like kick off my sensibly maternal goody-two-shoes to reveal my dark and funky party girl socks. Every once in a while, I need to prove to myself that I can still hang.

So that was my plan for M&M’s wedding Time. And it went down a little something like this:

5 pm – Enjoy lovely backyard ceremony, while simultaneously acting as cozy pillow for sleeping Squiggles and Head of Diversionary Tactics for restless Neener and Roo.

6 pm – Walk up to the little house in the big woods with the rest of my family to feed Squiggles some mushed peas, and knock back a vodka and soda before the wedding feast festivities began.

7 pm – Mmmmmmm. Food. Mmmmmmm. Wine. Mmmmm. Table full of wussy white wine drinkers who must share one bottle, while I bogart the bottle of red all to myself. Muahahahahahaha!

9:30 pm – Teeter up the hill to the little house in the big woods, tuck in children, and leave them under the watchful eye of my parents while the Mr. and I make our way back down the hill to the party.

10:30 pm – Mmmmmm, vodka and cranberry juice and Bon Jovi songs!

11:00 pm – Mr. heads up the hill to take his shift looking after the kids.

11:15 pm – Blinding headache hits me. Mmmmmmm. Bottle of water.

11:40 pm – Guns n’ Roses song! Blinding headache intensifies. Mmmmm. Another bottle of water.

11:55 pm – Headache, dizzy, queasy. Must…go…rest.

11:59 pm – Some shadowy characters on the dark dirt drive way offer me a drag of a suspicious smelling cigarette. I really should have passed.

12:00 am – At the stroke of midnight, I turn into a pumpkin. A nauseous, dizzy pumpkin who just wants to go home and go to bed.

12:03 am – Arrive at the little house in the big woods, determined to just rest my head for a few minutes, then get back to proving that I can, indeed, still hang.

12:09 am – Oh, I can hang alright. Hang my head in the flush and get violently, violently ill.

12:16 am- Done like dinner, I am forced to admit that I can not hang. I’m too old, too mothered up, and probably going to be too hungover in the morning to ever attempt to do anything like this again. Ever. Hardly able to tolerate the shame of it all, I conk out.

6 am – I wake up, still with a horrendous headache, to the sight of a grinning Squiggles, and realize that it’s probably for the best that I couldn’t, and didn’t , and can’t hang anymore.

So, I spent the rest of the morning-after stewing in my own partying failure. Until everyone in the house woke up and told me that the party had not actually rocked on until the break of dawn as I had assumed. It barely made it to the break of 2. The karaoke machine didn’t work. The bride and the groom were pooped. It got chilly. In fact, the only hardcore party people left on the scene at 2 am were the old folks. My parents and their friends. All the people my age had the good sense to go home and go to bed at a respectable hour, and before they got too drunk to get sick. So I felt better about that. That I had not missed much. But there was still the issue of being so very ill after what, compared to my party-girl prime, was little more than a drop in the ol’ booze bucket. And even throughout the entire post-party day, I felt like hell. Despite the lack of actual hanging to be done, it was still painfully clear that hanging was no longer my forte. But then came a ray of light, of hope. Neener and my father woke up, on the day after the day after, with headaches. Swiftly followed by the barfies. Hallelujah, It was a bug! I can hang! My family is sick! Yay! The Mr. didn’t get sick (he almost never does, the jerk) but that’s good because he was able to single handedly repaint the entire main floor of the little house in the big woods, and rebuild the basement deathtrap-steps with the help of my less-than-handy brother, while we all recuperated and cursed the piss-pouring rain for the next two days.

So now I’m back home, left wondering if maybe, just maybe, I can still hang. Which is certainly better than knowing, or thinking I can’t. And next Time, I’ll be there. And I will hang. Oh yes, I will hang. At least until midnight.