Saturday, December 21, 2013

Go. To. Sleep.


It’s 8:30 pm, and all I can think about is how much I want to bury myself in blankets and read Kavalier and Clay. I do not want to write. But writing is a better option than trying to put my children to bed. I am putting off telling them that in ten minutes, they need to cozy up in their own beds, read their own books, and go to sleep. Because, of course, it will not happen that way. Instead, it will go something like this:

Me: Kids, it’s time to cozy up and settle down. You can read one book and then lights out.
August: Cry
Henry: Kick and cry
Me: If you don’t stop crying, you can’t read a book.
August: Whine.
Henry: Laugh, cry, kick.
Me: Ok that’s it, I’m turning off the lights and you’re going to sleep.
August: Yell, cry, and: you’re the meanest mother ever.
Henry: I want to play the Kindle.
Me: You guys, seriously, you need to go to sleep.
August: I’m not tired, what am I supposed to do.
Me: I don’t care what you do. As long as the lights are off and you are in your bed. Stare at the ceiling. Count sheep. Talk to your imaginary friend. Go to sleep.
August: You’re not listening to me. You’re the meanest mom in the world.
Me: Yeah, I caught that. And you’re right. I am so mean that I am making you get a full night’s rest. Sign me up for dictatorship.
Henry: I’m hungry.
August: Come on, Henry, let’s play.
Me: ………

One hour later, the kids will be in August’s bed. Maybe snuggling, maybe pinching each other. Either way, they will take at least two more bathroom trips and ask for four more glasses of water. I will longingly stare at the decanter of scotch.

Maybe by 10 o’clock I can start reading. Right now, I have to get these kids to bed. 

*The time is now 9:42. Songs have been sung, snuggles have been had, and they are still awake. One is yelling from the hallway, cracking jokes. The other is in bed, asking for more hugs. We are one day in to winter break. God save me.




Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let's Hear it for the Girls: the reason I chose to do boudoir.

*All photos by Alana T Photography
The first time I witnessed a pair of unbridled breasts defying the ideal of small and pert, I was playing with a powder puff in my Great-Grandmother’s bathroom as she emerged from her shower.  Being six, maybe seven, I was a little more than half her size and her girls briefly occupied my entire line of vision.  Modesty at home was not a trait passed between the women in my family, so when my Grandma Nola discovered me, she laughed instead of scolded when I asked, “Does my mother know about those?” 

My Great-Aunt Velma, related by marriage on my maternal Grandfather’s side and the only woman I knew with a college degree, used to scandalize her guests with a poster of a topless woman, a string of pearls dangling between two peaks, mounted above her pink toilet. Her husband had been dead for decades, but that poster was my induction to the secret life of the “beautiful boobies” (as my Auntie would say), and they did not exist simply for the viewing pleasure of men.  I would later learn, as I grew older, that my Auntie had a breast removed due to cancer and a radical mastectomy. Her poster was her tribute to what she had lost.

When I was ten years old, I began to sprout my own pair of beauties. They grew exponentially over the next few years and I was taunted relentlessly through middle school.  I was called ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ before I could even tell you what the mechanisms of sex were.  I was jumped by girls on the way home from school because their boyfriends would talk about my body.  It was difficult to find age-appropriate clothing that fit both my narrow shoulders and my oversized chest.  I learned – quickly – our cultural double-standards for the bodies of men and women.

 As a teenager, despite attending a small Christian high school, I was exposed to punk rock and the fuck-all attitudes that accompanied it. I understood that there was power to be taken, and as a female growing up in an Evangelical church and a school that didn’t seem to take the ideas of women too seriously, I found that power in the way that I dressed.  And the more boob, the better. I don’t think I owned a pair of intact stockings or a top other than a tee shirt that made it above my collarbone or down past my belly button. But then again, it was the 90s.

Once my top-heavy form began its eventual filling-in throughout my midsection, I was in my twenties and in college. I practiced yoga and immersed myself in academia. I became self-conscious of my body again – it wasn’t lithe enough to be taken seriously in yoga and too voluptuous to be taken seriously in school. I piled on the layers and grew my hair long. I wore glasses and stopped wearing makeup except for at work.  I entangled myself in a long relationship with a person that was anti-social. While others were on their way to finding themselves in their twenties, I was totally lost.

 It wasn’t until I left California (and my relationship) and was living alone that I began to feel at home in my body again. It suddenly wasn’t hard to meet people. I was independent: making my own money, spending it on myself and anyone else I felt deserving, and using my spare time however I pleased. I had discovered real power. I was gushing with it. I suddenly cared about the way clothes made me feel as opposed to how they made me look. I didn’t want to hide. I met my life partner.  I was 26, dammit, and life was fucking amazing.

Since then, my body has been an instrument to grow and nurture two small, perfect humans. My once porn-worthy boobins have been reworked into something else. They have become post-milk, post-baby, and post-sexy.  I have gained 20 pounds since my first child more than seven years ago. I am in a loving, stable, and committed relationship and although it is ceaselessly wonderful, these beautiful, natural, and life-affirming events have been devastating to my body image.  How could this have happened? After everything I have learned?

As a person used to being behind the camera making others look beautiful for more than 15 years, and working in the cosmetics industry for most of those, I am acutely aware of how the male gaze has affected women’s perceptions of themselves, and their perceptions of other women.  We have been objectified and we have been sexified. We have been told when we’re allowed to feel comfortable in our own skin and when we’re not; what constitutes as ‘classy’ and what ‘trashy’ (mostly defined by a price tag), and most often, how we are allowed to present ourselves in public and to whom. If you are married, a mother, average or above average size, a woman of color, or a woman older than 50, these options begin to narrow significantly.

Pretty soon, you begin to feel invisible. Pretty soon, you have a hard time identifying with ‘feminine’ or ‘sexy’ or even ‘confident.’  Because that’s not what society prescribes for us. Boobs are for breastfeeding or pleasure. Legs are nice if they’re thin and long, but not short and stout. If the ass doesn’t match the tits, then sorry, you lose. If you can’t justify why you don’t spend hours each week at the gym getting strong (which is the ‘new’ beautiful, so they say) or why your diet doesn’t consist mainly of nuts and berries, then you’re not allowed a piece of the pretty pie.

Well I say fuck that. And to defy those voices competing for a say in how I present myself, I participated in a boudoir shoot with some of my closest friends.
               
I identify as a pretty radical feminist, I’m not going to lie. I believe that women have a say as to what happens or doesn’t to their body, that we are responsible for our actions and their outcomes, and that we (as does everyone else in the world) deserve equality.  And I believe that equality should extend to our definitions of beauty.

So even though I now live in a post-baby body (times two), and my legs have always defied how tall I feel, and it seems like I am committing an act of treason every time I eat a bagel, I still have the right to feel sexy, dammit.  And you get to see it in these photos that I took with some of the strongest, most beautiful women I know.

And when you do, if you find yourself tsk-ing or feeling shame for me, don’t. Instead, question those feelings and ask yourself what keeps you from feeling comfortable in your own skin. And then shed it. It will be terrifying, but totally worth it. And you’ll probably look beautiful, too.

These photos are a tribute to my Grandma Nola, and all of the Grandma Nolas of the world. They are a tribute to my Auntie Velma. And my daughter. And my beautiful friends. They are a tribute to my husband. But most importantly, they are a tribute to myself.

               



 You can view the rest of the shoot and the other lovely ladies, here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Just Another Wilson Phillips Song



Sometimes I can be a little impulsive. Not impulsive like magazine and candy-shopping impulsive (although there is that), but hey I’m bored, I’m going to move to the Netherlands for a while impulsive.  Or, hey, we just met, let’s have kids impulsive. Luckily for me, most of my decisions to act on impulse have proven to be some of the most exciting and worthwhile decisions of my life. And after all, I’m just exercising my American birthright of extremism: you know, "the pursuit of happiness."

 Then again, there’s always the shadow side of impulsive behavior. The side that convinces you that unless you drop everything and change RIGHT NOW then you are doomed to a life of miserable, second-class servitude. These nasty little self-deceptions usually come wrapped in the glowing veneer of a perfect body (all the while convincing ourselves that it’s really perfect health that we’re after), or a perfect family (if only, if only, if only), or a life filled with just the essentials (time to read, write, and make five-course dinners; you know normal stuff), or perfect knowledge—the idea that we must always, no matter the cost, know the truth of things more than the average schmuck. 
The truth is, the impossibility of these deceptions only serve to make us feel really, really shitty about ourselves when they(inevitably) fail to add anything meaningful to our lives.
These ideas typically don’t fall from the sky in the form of a heraldic angel, like they used to in the good ol’ days (although they are usually manufactured by old men, so I guess not too much has changed), but come to us as that seven-headed beast known as the ad and social media machine in nearly every facet of our lives: in our living room, at the grocery store, driving down the freeway, at our jobs. It convinces us that there is a magical formula for happiness out there, if only you can find it. It tells us that someone out there has the answer for all of our worries; that if you only looked better you would feel better; if you only had ‘x’ you would finally have some stability; if you could just purchase enough organizing and crafting supplies to order your life into an unpredictable summer’s day down a lazy river, then you would finally and forevermore be happy.

Well, I call bullshit.
Life is unpredictable (and a hopeless cliché, apparently). I may never be beautiful in the eyes of everyone I know or care to know (and if beauty=success, then that success will leave me wanting). My family will never, ever be perfect, and I will take comfort in the fact that yours won’t be, either. If I achieve ‘stability’ (or equilibrium, if you prefer) for too long, I might not push myself to create new things or to be open to new experiences, and you might as well send me over a waterfall in a bucket filled with all of the lipsticks and diet fads and mid-century modern home furnishings that helped me to achieve my life-long satisfaction, because I’m done.

But then again, that might be a little impulsive.
For now, I’m just going to try and just be. If that involves the occasional rant, or a trip to Siberia, then let this serve as my disclaimer (and I will do my best to extend this courtesy to you, too).
 And the next time you see me telling everyone to go to hell on Facebook*, just tag me in a post and prove me wrong.


*My most recent impulse was to tell everyone I knew on Facebook that I’m leaving and never coming back, which was probably interpreted as a fancier-than-thou-manicured middle finger to anyone I've had brief contact with since the fourth grade. 
I know, pretty. (and shocker! It lasted a week).
But really, I was just feeling overwhelmed by all of the uninvestigated claims and righteous garbage that was being spewed on my newsfeed every ten seconds in order to out-snark any member of the opposing viewpoint. Of which I was guilty. Because, like the constant impulse of wanting to beautify myself to a better future, one-upping a total stranger on the merits of the second amendment is fleetingly satisfying and totally addictive. But there is no end game. There is never a 'win.'

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Reasons I [Don't] Write


The second I decided to ditch the plan to apply for Phd programs next fall and pursue an MFA instead, it was like every creative story idea I had ever had was erased from my brain. Every single one.  I revisited old short stories and began to edit. And edit. And before long, what was once a twelve page story was three. This is disheartening, because most MFA programs require you to submit a story that is at minimum 15-20 pages long. And all I can come up with is a three page story about a pig or a turn of the century Pentecostal woman.  This, of course, is completely unacceptable. So to get my creative juices flowing, and to force my reading public to read about the most mundane moments of my waking life, I give you: My Top Five Distractions.

Distraction #1: My husband. Seriously, he is home way more than the average husband. I come home from school, and want to have a nice cup of tea and catch up on my readings on sweatshops or anarchist dandies and all I can think about is how I want to talk to him, and stare at his neck (a quite handsome one), and laugh at his juvenile website (some of you may have heard of it). And once that starts, it’s all over. It’s nothing but cats and laser beams and the state of our democracy and how to potty train our two-year old from then on out. I just can’t seem to get enough of him. And once I’m behind on homework, then it’s a mad dash to get it all done. Who has time to write with other deadlines? And not to mention,

Distraction #2: The Voice. WHY is that program on three times a week? And WHY does Ceelo always have to have the most outrageous millionaire stoner outfits that make me tune in every night? And Christina? That bitch. Her makeup; half the time I have to restrain myself from getting into my makeup kit (read:glitter) and attempt to recreate her look as I watch along. You want to hate her, but that goddamn glitter is her saving grace. And the eyeliner. And that blue contour/crease. You know what I’m talking about.

Distraction #3: My kids. Those little humans that love to use your legs as tunnels. And give you an excuse to eat macaroni and cheese on a regular basis. And the littlest one—he’s learning how to talk in full sentences and I will tell you, there is nothing more hypnotizing than watching a little person say “Momom I want choggy mil” a million times. Nothing.

Distraction #4: The internet. This needs no explanation.

Distraction #5: My friends. You guys, and all of your fancy lives that don’t include studying—I hate you. No, I love you—but of course I would rather have a couple of drinks with you and participate in a photo shoot in my basement than do homework or write. I mean, who wouldn’t? And any time I get to hang out with you are a couple of hours of sanity that I otherwise would not have had. I love you, grown-ups.

While I wish my excuses were more like, “I just spend wayyy too much time at the gym or training for a marathon or baking or volunteering at my daughter’s school,” unfortunately, they’re not.  Instead, I think the real reason that I don’t have much time to write these days is that I’m having too good of a time. And really, who wants to read about that?



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Attempts at Blogging Take 2


So lately, as you might have noticed (or as I’d like to imagine that you’ve noticed), I haven’t been keeping this thing up to date. It seems that I have a hard time with all things blog-y. Like not editing, for one. I’m the type of person that writes, and then re-writes, and then erases everything, and then starts on a totally different something, and then starts at the beginning again. And the whole point of a blog is that it is done quickly and a bit haphazardly, which theoretically is supposed to make the blogger sound cool and aloof but most of the time just makes them sound like they’re writing a commercial. But who am I kidding? Writing commercials is probably really hard.
So this blog is a blog about how I will be blogging more, sorry about that. Because it will allow me to write about topics other than 19th century French Dandyism, or the (non)effects of feminism on the American labor movement, or politics; which is the ‘what else’ I have been writing and thinking a lot about lately. I should say that it will let me write about the things that are the most hilarious, raw, exhilirating and terrifying: my family members (and me too).
And now, after having fallen asleep for exactly thirty minutes, my 2 year old is crying and must be attended to. 




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vacation, Part 2: Cape Disappointment



It was sunny the afternoon that we left Great Wolf Lodge. The rays beamed down like the branding on a sweetened cereal box. The parking lot was filled with bleary-eyed parents and spring-loaded youth. Two kids from a family parked next to us jockeyed for front-seat position in their suburban. “Never mind the law; the objective is to get everyone loaded in without injury,” the father explained to his blond-haired bride. And if that meant that eight year-old Cayden had to sit in the front seat and risk decapitation by an over-zealous airbag, well, that is just the sort of risk that makes family vacation fun. I watched in awe as they backed out of the parking space next to ours, their stick figure family-of-six bumper sticker waving menacingly as they drove away.

I sighed as I strapped our two year-old into his five-point harnessed car seat, gently tucking his soft golden hair behind one ear. “Let GO!” he screamed, and clocked me with his wizard wand.
Oh, did I not mention that we bought him a wizard wand, too? Because that’s exactly what a two year-old that was birthed in karate-chop stance needs: a toy shaped like a miniature bo.

As GWL grew smaller in the rearview mirror, by stomach began to growl. Our breakfast of lattes and Starbucks almonds (for Joe and I), cotton candy ice cream (we had a coupon) for August and peanut butter and chocolate rice crispy treat for Henry (it had CEREAL in it) was not as sustaining as I hoped it would be. We needed nourishment; something that would not maintain its shape after a nuclear attack. We needed
“Arby’s? Taco Bell?” Joe asked.
“Arby’s has turkey wraps. At least we can pretend we’re eating healthy.” I ordered the Reuben and the kids each got something the menu called a Roast Beef sandwich. As my daughter took her first bite and what passed as meat spilled onto her lap, I had a vegetarian moment. So this is what it must be like to not eat meat; when the look of it reminds you of a carcass floating in a canal and makes you crave anything without a spinal cord.
“Who wants Arby sauce?”

Highway 101 took us through pastures and farmland and abandoned barns with five-foot high water marks. “From the flood, remember?” Joe said.  It was quiet. Posters for Rob McKenna for Governor dotted the landscape; propped up in yards next to pinwheels and pink flamingos, staked next to shiny new motorhomes, looming over the tops of swaying grass on the highway’s edge. It felt like political pornography to me; lewd obstructions into my fantasy world of empty grassland and Walden-like woods free of humans. I wanted to roll down my window and scream at them to get a fucking room. But I couldn’t do that, what with the children and all. This is not your fantasy world, people live here, I thought. This was America—land of the free—after all. And people could live wherever they damn well pleased.

The scenery was changing: from pasture to marshland. Birds swooped low, beaks agape. August was becoming frustrated at the lack of internet access on my Kindle. She needed Smurfberries for her Smurf kingdom. One cannot get Smurfberries without being connected to the internet. I had discovered this the day before when, as I was changing my Facebook status on my phone, I had an e-mail notification. It was Amazon. It was thanking me for my recent purchase of thirty-five dollars’ worth of Smurfberries. I turned to my dear, sweet, five year-old and asked, “Did you really just buy something on my Kindle?” Oh, how the tears ran. But now that the tears had already been shed, her penance paid, how could we be so cruel as to not allow her internet access to use her Smurfberries? 
Because we were the worst parents in the universe, that’s why.

As the marshes turned into lakes that would carry us to the Pacific, the sky began to gray. “Don’t worry,” Joe said, “it will burn off by the time we hit Long Beach.” The gray turned into streaks of blue, blustery clouds and the rain began fall. It hit our windshield like the scattered applause of an uncertain audience. Henry had just dozed off in his car seat. August was staring out the window, a My Little Pony gripped in each hand. I tried to remain positive: this is the Northwest. It rains. It sometimes rains on my vacation. But this was the end of August and scientific data, statistics, and Joe’s bartending schedule had predicted that it would be a sunny, laugh-filled weekend. Also, we were staying at a campground which meant that we were supposed to cook our food outdoors.
We planned a trip to a grocery store in Ilwaco that the Cape Disappointment website boasted would meet all of our camping needs. It was going to be a hot dog and hot chocolate kind of night; the children would be snuggled warmly against our shoulders as we told outdoor adventure stories of our youth peppered with euphemisms and lacking details that would not be caught by innocent ears. Not only were we supposed to have the chance to exercise our superb parenting skills, but we would, in the process, stoke a bit of sweetness between husband and wife. Joe would glance up at me during the key moment of a story and, catching my eye, would wink at how funny the story really was. And the children would be none the wiser.

But the rain didn’t stop there—it invited its asshole friend wind to come along and crash our party. By the time we had driven through all six blocks of Ilwaco and had only found a glorified bait and tackle shop and a shuttered downtown corridor, I was on the verge of an all-out, teary, teenaged-style meltdown. Joe placed his hand on my leg and tried to reassure me. That did not help things.

Memories of camping trips and California beaches of my youth came rushing in. They rushed right out of me from my eyeballs and I gave in to my urge to blame Joe for the weather. For living in Washington. For not being millionaires. For people living where they shouldn’t be. For booking our vacation in goddamn fucking Cape Disappointment.
His emergency response was to find the nearest organic-looking grocer that he could find, a few miles up the road in Long Beach. “You stay here,” he told me. He took August into the store with him for provisions. I felt awful. If anyone were to ever tell me that Joe was anything less than perfect for me, they would be punched in the face.

The rain continued that night, and we ended up eating at a faux-Outback steakhouse in Long Beach. Our children were rowdy and the servers whispered awful nothings about us behind the register. By the time we reached our yurt (which was an awesome, teepee-like super tent with bunk beds and a heater) I was ready to bust out a bottle of wine.

The kids were ecstatic about our new quarters. Within half an hour Henry had scaled the bunk bed and was throwing Barbie from its top to her death below. He was in the process of mastering a few small sentences, but this one was unmistakable: “No, no! Oh no Barbie! Ahhhhhhhh!!!” Plunk. There is still time to instill some feminist virtues, I thought, no need to panic. August was busying herself with setting up shop and Joe was uncorking my bottle of wine; this yurt would do just fine.


The sun peeked out just long enough for us to hike the quarter mile to the beach. The black and sparkling sand gave way to an angry ocean. White-washed timber littered the shore. We all stood facing the horizon, paralyzed by its immensity.
“That ocean is not like the one in California. It does not want to be your friend, don’t try to go into it,” I said to August.
“It’s angry,” she said.
“Yes. It’s angry.”

Contrary to the weather report, the next morning was bright and crisp. We spent the day hiking through trailheads of Louis and Clark and building sandcastles and flying kites at Waikiki Beach, an ironically named but more hospitable version of a beach than the night before. We were all deliciously tired, sandy, and happy by day’s end.
We had our hot dogs and campfire that night. Joe winked at me after taking a swig from his beer. An expression of accomplishment settled onto his face. When we turned into our yurt, the kids snuggled into their sleeping bags, eagerly awaiting the shadow puppet show that Joe was about to perform.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, his flashlight beaming to the roof, “Introducing…what the hell! Agh!” Joe leaped to the side of the room and grabbed the broom in one fell swoop.
“What?” I asked.
“Don’t. Move.”
Of course I moved. “What is it?”
His flashlight slowly went up to the top of the yurt, right below the sky light. There, minding its own business, terribly irritated that we had disturbed its peaceful repose, was a bat.
“Oh! It’s cute!” I squealed.
“We have to get it out of here. We can’t sleep with a bat.”
“Don’t hurt it! It’s good for the environment,” I said.
The kids thought that this was an amazing turn of events. Joe pulled his hoody strings tight so that only his glasses and nose were peeking through the hole, and with a broom, tried gently to coax the bat out the door in wide, arcing strokes. We would get our show after all.
The bat escaped through some hole in the yurt, whether or not it made its way outside we’ll never know. Every scrape and bump I heard that night I ducked beneath the covers, or I roused Joe awake to ask him if he had heard it. August and Henry slept soundly, oblivious to the possibility of rabies or nibbled eyelashes. I laid awake, thinking about how this was exactly how parenting was. We get stuck in the dark with things that we perceive as harmful, and the only tools we have are a hoody and a broom. In reality, we’re all just trying to make sense of things and survive. And perhaps be happy, while we’re at it.

We can’t wait for next year’s vacation.













Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vacation, Part 1: Great Wolf Level of Hell.


If you ever want to test your fears of walking barefoot on wet cement, breathing in warm recycled air, and being face to ass with a stranger in a bikini with a skin disease, go to Great Wolf Lodge. If you can withstand the first five minutes, congratulations, you are now a germ jedi. Unfortunately I couldn’t, but I have children, one of whom has a birthday in a week. Great Wolf Lodge was our surprise birthday present to her, in lieu of a party of screaming brats at my house. So, I had to contain my extreme discomfort of pale white and naked Americans for a couple of hours for the sake of the children. Yes. I will be milking that for a while.
The funny thing about Great Wolf Lodge (GWL henceforth), is that it has the potential to be oodles and oodles of fun. Water slides? Check. Wave pool? Check. Open containers of alcohol in the lobby and other areas of the “fun-filled” hotel? Check. Themed rooms with bunk beds and paintings of a wolf den and waterfalls? You better believe we paid an extra hundred dollars for that shit. And to top it off, there was magic everywhere! With wands! And talking trees! And…oh wait, thousands of children.
Now don’t get me wrong, I really love children—but usually just mine. And only when they’re not screaming and acting like precocious little serial killers. Oh, and if we’re friends, I probably like your kids, too. But only because they’re your kids, and only because they will play with and distract my children for a couple of hours while we drink coffee spiked with vodka, no offense. I feel the way about the rest of the children of America much like I do their parents: they’re loud, obnoxious, oblivious, and could give a shit if they just stepped on my bare toe and pressed it deeper into the disgusting wet cement. Because I was in their way, after all. Midget assholes.
But back to GWL.
GWL is trying really hard to fit in with the smart crowd. It has a lovely conference center with antler-chandeliers, cozy beds with down comforters, and an entire children’s channel on the t.v. dedicated to being green and recycling sponsored by the hotel. Meanwhile, millions of gallons of water are being pumped out forty feet away so that Washingtonians (and Texans, and Virginians, it’s a chain) can escape that damn summer sun in an artificially controlled environment. I had that thought once during our time there, and spent the next 24 hours recovering from the ensuing panic attack that it triggered. Dear Ray Bradbury, I am so sorry I have forsaken you.
We purchased a deluxe magical package of sorts for our daughter, which included a wand, a wand topper (for the accessory-conscious), a wand belt/fanny pack, and the adventure game. We figured this was a safe bet because she has nightly conversations with Harry Potter and Hermione Granger in her bedroom and has almost gone to blows on the school playground because a first-grader doubted her wizardry skills. For the record, she is, in fact, an excellent sorceress.
To obtain the magical package, one must stand in line at the wizard shop—in our case with a two year old in tow—while other hillbilly families inquire about the pixie sculptures within the glass case (do those come with a letter of au-then-ti-city?) or the pink pajama princess witch costume for their freckled nightmare of a child that looks like her mom just ripped a huge fart in front of her. I could imagine that the only act of magic that this child would perform was to burn the fucking pajamas and the rest of the house down while she munched a bag of dorritos in her yard. Meanwhile, a 20-something in a blue sister-wife dress (since when did witches dress like prairie women?) drones on about the rules of the game in her very-best Moaning Mertle voice while my two year-old spies the head-height crystal balls that are changing colors right before his eyes.
Twenty minutes later, we embark on our special journey through the carpeted, atmosphere-controlled forest, in search of magical pictures, statues, and bear skin rugs. The hordes of families with Looney Tunes character shirts and Mountain Dew breath cannot deter us. We will find all of the crystals, make them light up, and get the lady in the woods to give us her blessing, so help me goddess. The only problem is my daughter’s wand refuses to work. Joe, my husband, makes four trips to the stupid wizard shop (he has been known to become obsessed, what can I say) and exchanges the wand twice. Finally, at the very last checkpoint (the aforementioned lady of the woods) the lady decides that she doesn’t want to work here, after all. By 9:00, I was ready to tuck myself into that cozy little bed, and pray that the family of fifteen across the hall would find it in their hearts not to throw a candy-fueled rager for the night. It was a good thing that I brought earplugs.
Next time we decide to go to GWL, it will be without children. Or at least they will be old enough to bring a friend and entertain themselves. You will find me and Joe with our open containers in the lobby, I will remember to bring flip-flops, and the only magic that will be happening will be when Joe decides to dance at the nightly rave dance party put on for all of the freckled brats.