My good friend K. reminded me last night that I have been back from vacation for days and haven't posted a thing yet. So here I am.
Vacation was relaxing, as all vacations should be. It's just the packing and getting out of the house and through the airport before vacation that kill me. I don't remember vacation departures being particularly stressful for my dad, but my mom assures me he was a nightmare. (He also tacked on some nervous diarrhea before vacations.) Genetics is destiny, as I was telling Mr. Tangerine during the cab ride to O'Hare. I can't help it if I'm a raving bitch during these situations. Hell, there's probably a proud tradition going back centuries. You don't think my dad's ancestors who came to the United States were in pissy moods before they got on that ship? Puh-lease. (And yes, I am equating a five-day vacation with leaving all you know behind.)
Young Ben had plenty of nature experiences at the beach. A real (dead) sponge looks nothing like SpongeBob! And real (dead) jellyfish are not pastel pink. Crabs, hermit crabs, conch-type mollusks, clams, they were all out there. Ben was also excited to find a tiny dead fish in a tidal pool—"Mom! Dad! Lookit! Lookit what I found!" We didn't go very deep into the Atlantic waters, not after Mr. Tangerine saw the sign that said "No shark fishing." His dad makes a hobby of worrying, and genetics is destiny—Mr. Tangerine's worrying is picking up steam now that's he's a father. But really, the sign didn't say "Look out or you'll get eaten by a shark," it said "Leave those poor sharks alone" (at least that's how I read the prohibition).
Ben behaved beautifully at a couple of restaurant dinners without any restorative nap beforehand. He completely charmed a table of older Filipino couples (my in-laws' friends and their friends). Apparently, any Filipino woman over the age of 65 is mandated by law to tell Ben, "You're El Guapo. Guapo means handsome." Garden-variety Americans will say he's a good-looking kid, but leave it to the aging Filipinas to pull out the "El Guapo" business. (Who remembers the show "Soap," when Jessica Tate was kidnapped by a Latino revolutionary nicknamed El Guapo? I may be fuzzy on the plot specifics, but I know my uses of "El Guapo.")
Also during vacation, I decided to start shaving (yes, shaving). So far, Mr. Tangerine has not taken advantage of the new look. I tendered offers on vacation, but dammit, he kept watching TV with his dad (and who wants romance with someone who just watched a Hannibal Lecter movie?) or falling asleep early. We're really far too lackadaisical about these things. It doesn't help that Ben finds his way to our bed almost every night. (And no, the bedroom doors don't lock.)
Oh, and that update to the last post where I whined about a cold weather forecast for vacation? I must've been smoking the crack pipe and reading a Chicago weather forecast or something. The Hilton Head forecast was 80s with some rain. And that's what we got—plenty of low 80s, craploads of rain. But not enough to ruin vacation or anything.
I had thought about completely abandoning any attempts at crossword puzzle construction, but then I had a brilliant idea (or at least a pretty good idea) for a theme, and slogged through the process with a little help from another constructor. Now I'm at the stage where procrastination is what's slowing everything down. Ha! It's just like the rest of my life. I have some e-mail correspondence going with several of my favorite constructors, which is awesome. It's like being a TV writer in the trenches with no experience, and suddenly you have people like Larry David showing you the ropes and treating you like a worthy peer. I call 'em my crossword boyfriends.
Speaking of my boyfriends, Barack Obama co-wrote a piece in the New York Times about avian flu. He must be my soulmate because he, too, takes an interest in key issues in viral epidemiology. I'm glad he and Richard Lugar are pushing the issue to the forefront. And that 1918 flu pandemic that killed tens of millions of people? I have a personal interest in that because my grandma's sister died in that pandemic. She was about 5, I think, and she was the healthy, strong kid in the family. Grandma was the sickly one, and here she is, still going strong (relatively speaking) a few weeks shy of her 93rd birthday. The events of 1918 remain deeply troubling to modern medicine because we still don't know why the flu was so deadly, why it spread so fast, and why it targeted the young and healthy while sparing the old, very young, and sickly. Since we know so little about what made it so terrible, we're ill-equipped to prevent another pandemic of its kind. So your job is to tell your Senators and Congresspeople to get in line with Obama and Lugar and push for funding for control and prevention efforts. (If only moveon.org would adopt this issue and make it so easy to contact people in D.C., eh?)
Let's see...vacation, mollusks, El Guapo, shaving, crosswords, Obama...what have I left out? Not that you're interested, but I also bought myself some fancy-ass brassieres recently (did you know brassieres were patented in 1913? And by a woman, who was probably sick to death of fussy corsets? These things I learn from crosswords and my crossword boyfriends). Bitch Ph.D. should be a paid spokesmodel for Wacoal bras, because I would never have wandered into the Wacoal department if it weren't for her recommendation. The prices range from roughly $45 to $60 for most of their bras (and no, I don't know where the Wacoal name comes from), but dammit, aren't my boobs worth it? I say yes. The bras fit well, they look great, and I totally needed a new bra wardrobe after Oprah told everyone they're wearing the wrong bra size. I measured myself using the instructions I found online and, for a change, didn't choose to overrule the numbers and insist I'm the same size I've been wearing. I've been wearing one band size too big and two cup sizes too small, according to the measurements. And what do you know? The Wacoal bras in the new size happen to fit great. So ladies, get out your measuring tape and see if you, too, have been punishing your boobs by inflicting the wrong bra size on them.
Okay, that's it for this morning. Nice to be back!