Facing One’s Fears

    

     Two years ago, my husband and I were vacationing with friends in Mexico when he came damn close to drowning.  It was an experience that literally rocked us to the very core and has haunted him ever since.  Upon returning to the scene of the crime during our Cabo trip last week, he felt compelled to write about the ordeal and how he finally conquered his fears:

Today I returned to the place. THE place where I was moments from meeting my maker. It was far from pleasant in one of the world’s most picturesque locations.

I was stupid, wrecklessly so. I was body surfing where no one should. It’s called Divorce Beach. And, numerous people said “don’t swim there.” All seemed like lore and not applicable to ME. I mean WTF? I can swim, right? Besides, I was bored. I’m not much for laying in the sun; so, I thought i’d just play around in the waves a bit.

BIG MISTAKE.

I owe my life to two friends (via my wife – Kent & Guy, I owe you forever) and a few locals from Cabo San Lucas. After +5 min of struggling in a killer undertow, people realized I was in trouble.

I can confirm when you think you are going to die, your life flashes before your eyes. But it wasn’t just that – future moments flashed before me. Watching my son’s first touchdown, seeing my daughter getting married, my 50 year anniversary to my lovely and loving wife. It sucked. Worst moment of my life until… 4 guys grasping hands in a human chain trying to reach me were obliterated by an 8 ft wave.

I now believed I would be responsible for not only ending my own life but that of others as well. No contest – worst 30 seconds of my existence. I count my lucky stars that each one of those heroic men popped back up – mainly because I didn’t want to be the cause of their demise but also because they eventually pulled me from the torture I endured.

Today I returned to that beautiful spot. I had a little apprehension, but I do believe I’m smarter for the experience. I wanted to replace that memory with a far better one.

While I don’t think you can ever replace a near death experience, I gave it my damnest today. I barked with sea lions, I marvelled at larger than life whales, I was surrounded by schools of colorful fish, and I floated on those same currents that anonymously and without malice wanted my last breath two years ago.

It was pure joy. I’m alive. I love my kids, my wife and my life. And now when I look upon that iconic symbol of vacationing in Mexico, I can reflect on lessons learned AND good times had.

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My Big Fat Russian Wedding Experience

     

     Have you ever driven by a particular building in your town fifty bazillion times and wondered what on earth goes on in there?  Well, there’s a Russian restaurant/banquet hall not more than two or three miles from my house that has baffled me for years.  I’ve never seen a single soul going in or out of there, yet the parking lot is always jam-packed with cars.  So about a month ago, some friends of ours decided that we should get a big group together and plan a January outing to go and check it out.  And holy vodka shots, was it ever an experience!

     When we checked into the reception desk on Saturday night, we were escorted through the deceptively large restaurant all the way to the back of the building, where we found yet another massively-sized room.  The woman lifted back the red velvet curtain covering the door to unveil one of the most elegantly gaudy dining halls I think I’ve ever seen in my life.  There were chandeliers and disco balls and flaming candles and murals and floral arrangements everywhere.  A whole fleet of waiters shuffled here and there with silver trays and crystal glassware.  A large dance floor stood smack dab in the middle of the large room with a curtained platform as its backdrop.  I found myself wondering if the wizard was hiding behind that curtain because I truly felt like I’d just entered a secret underground society.  Every table was filled with people who were dressed in their very finest duds — we’re talking high heels and sequins and prom dresses galore.  And they all seemed to know each other too!  They were hugging and cheek kissing and laughing up a storm.  It was definitely a party-like atmosphere, and I knew we were in for a good time.    

     We started off our meal with a vodka shot cause when in Rome… (or in this case, Russia).  We had just started to dig into our hors devours when the curtained backdrop behind the dance floor opened up to reveal a live band that spoke nothing but Russian.  Now, granted, not a single one of us speaks a lick of Russian, but from what we could gather, there were numerous birthday celebrations in the house.  Several huge parties of people were called to the dance floor, while multiple bouquets of roses were rushed out to pose with them for a group photo.  Then everyone cheered wildly as a ginormous teddy bear was placed front and center of the group.  (Cue the Twilight Zone music.)

 I honestly had no flipping clue what the hell was going on, but I clapped right along with the rest of them since it seemed to be the thing to do.  Everyone was then invited to cut a rug, and the dance floor was suddenly packed with shaking booties.  Song after song was played by the band, and the only one I even remotely recognized was “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga.  Nevertheless, we danced our Grey Gooses off the rest of the night.  My husband found himself a sixty year old honey who was decked out in turquoise sequins to twirl all over the floor, and I made my way into some kind of alternative-looking conga line.  It was like a Russian version of The Wedding Singer, and we had an absolute ball.  

     By the end of the night, I had red lipstick marks on my cheeks from my new Russian dance partner, my husband was so drenched with sweat that he’d stuffed his undershirt in his coat pocket, and our whole group was three sheets to the wind from one too many tilts of the old bottle.  It was definitely unlike most of my normal Saturday night activities.  Who knew that this whole other world existed just a mere distance from my house?

My Realistic Resolution

     

     It’s a new year — a time to start fresh and begin a new chapter.  I guess that’s why so many people feel compelled to make resolutions. They resolve that this year they’re gonna do things differently; this year they’re gonna do things better.  They’re gonna work out more or eat healthy or quit drinking or quit smoking.  Sadly, many of these promises are broken before January even gets off the ground.  And this, my friends, is why I don’t really do resolutions.

     I tried to explain this whole concept to my kids last night after my husband turned them loose with cans of silly string in my kitchen (he most certainly didn’t get any late-night action from me after that stupid little stunt).  Anywho, I asked my little peeps if they wanted to make any New Year’s resolutions to be better about doing something over the next twelve months.  My daughter said she wanted to be better about remembering to make her bed every day — a commendable enough goal, I thought.  My son, however, just sat there pondering.  I finally offered a suggestion that perhaps he might like to be a better listener, since I often wonder if the kid has a hearing problem, given his lack of response to me 99.9% of the time.  He thought about this idea for a minute and then said, “Nah, that’s WAY to hard.”  At least he’s honest.

     As for me, I would rather make a promise to myself that I know I can actually keep.  So, rather than saying I’m gonna give up wine (which would be ridiculous since I am a stay-at-home mom, after all) or that I’m gonna give up swearing (cause shit, who would I be kidding?), I’d rather try to make a point of doing something more practical.  This year, I’m gonna make it a point of saying “I LOVE YOU” to the people that matter most to me every single day.  If 2009 did nothing else for me, it proved to me that life is precious and ridiculously short, and family and friends are what it’s all about.  So, here’s to 2010 — may it be healthy and happy for each and every one of you!

The Fugly Sweater

     Following in the footsteps of our non-traditional Thanksgiving, our Christmas this year was also a very alternative one.  We went over to our same friends’ house who hosted us for turkey day for some good old festive fun.  There were three total families there, with a whopping sum of seven kids in all.  You can probably just imagine how apeshit crazy the kids were for Santa & his antlered bitches to swoop into town later on that night.  To add to the fun, the wives had conspired to have an ugliest sweater contest amongst our men, and I am proud to say that my hubby won, hands down, with his unbelievably gay and merry ensemble.

     Shopping for the appropriate sweater for this little contest was no easy task either.  I was actually surprised to learn just how hard it is to find a man’s Christmas sweater period, let alone a fugly one.  My mom and I looked EVERYWHERE when I went back home last weekend, and the only thing I found that was even a remote possibility was located in the larger “WOMAN” department of Target.  All I needed was a good base, since I planned to bedazzle the hell outta the thing. The one I chose was black with a green embroidered Christmas tree on it, and I then bought glittery snowflakes, beads, jewels, and multi-colored sequins to hot glue on it.  When my mom and I were finished with it, it was one hot mess of a sweater, just the exact look I was going for.

     And just before heading over to our friends’ house on Christmas Eve, I found the mother of all mothers as far as Christmas attire goes — my mother-in-law’s red plaid wool pants, which just so happened to be hanging in the closet of our guest bedroom.  Somehow or another, I convinced my husband to wear these pants with his bedazzling sweater, and he could not have looked more ridiculous.  I laughed so hard that I nearly fell down at the sight of him.  He reminded me of Cousin Eddy from Christmas vacation — the only thing he was missing was a pair of white patent leather shoes.  It was perfect!

     When our friends got a glimpse of him in this get-up, they didn’t quite know what to say.  It was truly hard to carry on a serious conversation with him without busting into snickers and howls. Needless to say, his sweater was by far the ugliest of the group.  The best part of the night came when the three husbands decided to play Beatles Rock Band in their idiotic-looking duds.  They looked like a REALLY feminine boy band gone wrong.  It was priceless!

     So, once again, our friends really came through for us during yet another difficult time.  Being without my family for the first Christmas ever was extremely hard for me, but the laughter and the fun of being with good friends (and a few too many Holy Berries) helped to put me in a jollier mood.  It also didn’t hurt to have a husband who was willing to make himself look like a complete jackass all to amuse me.  🙂

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

     This Thanksgiving was a very non-traditional one for us.  It was the first year that I’ve ever been without my parents, since my dad’s immune system’s too weak to be around the kids.  Luckily, our good friends came to the rescue and invited us to their house.  Our kids were super pumped to hang out all day with kids their own age, and we were grateful not to have to do all the cooking!  

     We no sooner than got in the door before our kids were off and running with our friends’ kids.  They completely disappeared for a good two hours before we even saw a glimpse of them.  We took advantage of that kid-free time by snacking and chatting and drinking cocktails, while keeping an eye on the ginormous bird in the oven. However, it’s always been my experience that when kids are out of sight for too long, there’s most likely something fishy going on.  I decided to try and track them down before someone lost an eye or set the house on fire.

     I finally found them down in the basement all the way back in the storage room.  When I walked into the room, I first saw my friends’ little boy sitting in his baby brother’s swing all wrapped up in a blanket  (oh, and did I mention that he’s FOUR YEARS OLD?!) I then saw my son walk across the room wearing only his pants, since the top part of him was completely naked.  And when I asked why on earth he was going topless, I was simply told by my daughter that the boys were being cavemen.  Well, that made perfect sense, then.  All prehistoric dudes strut their stuff in Gap corduroy pants and chill out in infant swings.  Since nobody was bleeding and nobody was crying, I left the naked caveman and went back to join the rest of the adults.

     When the food was finally ready to go, the boys put their clothes back on so we could all chow down on a G-rated turkey dinner.  All in all, it was a fun Thanksgiving spent with some of our favorite friends.  The kids clearly enjoyed using their wild imaginations, while the big people enjoyed throwing back a few too many drinks. Although it wasn’t quite the same as spending time with my family, I suppose it was the second best thing. Sometimes traditions have to be tweaked in order to roll with the punches that life throws your way. And I’m thankful that I’ve got such amazing people in my life who protect me from those nasty left hooks.

I’m Thankful For…

     Since I figure that most people will be too busy stuffing their faces with turkey to read my little old blog tomorrow, I decided to do my appreciation post today and take the day off to gorge myself alongside the rest of the country manana.  So, without further ado, here are some things for which I am grateful:

  • I’m thankful for any shower I can take where a short person doesn’t come in and ask me about my boobs.
  • I’m thankful for wine and its magical abilities to calm my very last nerve at the end of the day.
  • I’m thankful for thongs that stay in their intended place.
  • I’m thankful for the inventor of the dog crate.
  • I’m thankful for makeup so I can hide the dark circles under my eyes on those rare days that I have the energy to put it on.
  • I’m thankful for any time I can sit down to pee without all hell breaking loose outside the bathroom door.
  • I’m thankful for copious amounts of caffeine that get me through my day.
  • I’m thankful for duct tape…I have twins — enough said.
  • I’m thankful for car trips where I can finally listen to something other than Kidz Bop.
  • I’m thankful for stupid, mindless reality t.v. shows that make me feel so much better about my own lot in life.
  • I’m thankful for individually packaged bags of Goldfish.
  • I’m thankful for people who remember to flush the toilet in our house (the shit-eating dog isn’t so thankful for this).
  • I’m thankful for wine…oh, whoops!  I already said that, didn’t I?!  (It’s obviously really important to me.)
  • I’m thankful for Twitter where I can go to bitch and moan 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • I’m thankful for that 8:50 a.m. bell at my kids’ school, bless its little heart.
  • I’m thankful for the ass massager lady who knows just how to loosen up my kadunkadunk.
  • I’m thankful that my true friends overlook the dust on my blinds.
  • I’m thankful for pavement and being able to pound the shit out of it when I need to relieve stress.
  • I’m thankful for candles that camouflage the putrid smell of dog farts in the air.
  • I’m thankful that my kids believe pretty much everything I tell them.
  • I’m thankful for my closet where I go to hide when I need to make an important phone call.
  • I’m thankful for silence, even though I’ve completely forgotten what it sounds like.
  • But most importantly, I’m thankful for my friends, for my health, and especially for my family who I love with all my heart.

People Watching

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     One thing I absolutely love to do is people watch.  I’ve always told my husband that he could just park me on a street corner in the heart of New York City, and I’d be happy as can be for days on end. So when my friends took me out over the weekend to a local bar in my home town, it was THE prime environment for doing just what I love doing.  And the crowd there certainly didn’t disappoint.  There was a smorgasbord of characters on display, let me just tell ya, but the ones who caught my attention the most were the DDD’s, the Dirty Old Bar Fly, and the Drunken Bathroom Lush.

     As my friends and I sat at a corner booth in the front, we couldn’t help but be drawn to the fact that every other girl that walked by seemed to have an unbelievably large rack.  It was as if some plastic surgeon in town had offered a two for one discount or something. I was totally and completely lost in a sea of DDD’s.  One of the blonde ones happened to know my guy friends and came over to say hello. This chick’s DDD’s practically gave me a high five as she approached our table.  I have no clue what the girl’s face even looked like because all I could think about was trying to see if I could balance my glass on those puppies.  After a short conversation about absolutely nothing, blonde DDD went back to join the rest of the boob brigade.

     Then there was the man in his late fifties who was trying WAY too incredibly hard to impress all the DDD’s.  I decided to call him Dirty Old Bar Fly after learning that he was pretty much a staple at every bar in town on the weekends.  He was going with a whole Miami Vice theme, wearing a pink scoop neck t-shirt underneath a blazer, which only made him look even more pathetic.  He also knew my friends and came over to our booth as he was attempting to work the room.  I was immediately drawn to two things as he swaggered our way.  First, his hair was styled in a ridiculously obvious comb-over that looked like he had a dead rat curled up on his head. Second, the fly on his slightly too-tight dress pants was completely wide open.  These two facts sent me into a full-blown giggling fit, and I tried to bury my head in my friend’s shoulder so as to try to camouflage my laughter.  My girlfriend decided she was gonna just march right over and let old boy in on the joke.  We watched in hysterics as she whispered in his ear that he might wanna check himself cause “some air was coming in down below.”  He promptly closed the barn door and strutted his stuff on over to another section of the bar to hit on more of the DDD’s.

     Finally, there was Drunken Bathroom Lush.  You know someone’s three sheets to the wind when she starts telling you how pathetic she is for coming to the bar all by herself.  She was swaying at the mirror trying to primp in the ladies’ room when I went into a stall to pee.  Apparently, she got out her powder compact from her purse and was trying like hell to get my friend to let her put makeup on her. My friend must’ve told her no four times before Lush finally got the hint, but she fumbled in the process and dropped her compact under my stall.  Next thing I knew, this hot mess had crawled on the floor into MY stall to pick up her damn powder while I stood there in amazement in a squat position. I gave her a look of death that said, There’s a reason why I locked the door, bitch!”  She gave me a glossed-over glance of only minor acknowledgement as she crawled back out again.  We later saw her stumble past our table and leave with some other poor drunken sap.  It would be nothing short of a miracle if either one of them remained awake long enough to even get to first base.

     I could’ve sat in that booth all night long sipping blueberry martinis and watching the freak show play out before me.  The DDD’s, the Dirty Old Bar Fly and the Drunken Bathroom Lush absolutely helped me to forget about all of my problems for a few hours.  It was definitely live entertainment at its very best cause there’s nothing quite like a parade of crazies to liven up a Saturday night.