Sunday, March 31, 2013

Please Don't Be Awful In The Following Ways, Or, Airport Seatmate Analysis, by Allison

So today we are embarking on lovely spring holiday trip to St. John, which is my happy place in my head.
We have taken this most excellent jaunt a few times and it is fab, from alpha to omega.

And currently , as my children are not acting like savage feral vultures in immediate need of whatever it is that is not in our carry ons and probably still at home,
And I somehow I magically score a seat a bit to the side of the hardcore "it's my turn " scrimmages,
I have time to:

1. Spill tea on my seat, cushy neck thing, and Kindle.
But no worries!
Nice seatmate has napkins, and I do not have to skulk back to Amazon to order Allison 's 7th kindle, because I know the Kindle people are laughing at me already, and cannot deal with more ridicule.

2. Get to use my  pretend Extreme People Watching Ph.D,
Subcategory:  How  awful will the people around me on this plane will be, and in what way.

Like Anna Karinina says, every happy assortment of flight neighbors are alike, each unhappy assortment is unhappy in its own way.
(Note:  that is not a verbatim quote from the book, but it has similar truism. )

Plus now that I have gotten my serious literature reference out of the way,  proving am clearly total scholar,  I can justify shiny, pretty Vogue perusal.
After I finish this Very Important Analysis:

Allison's Analysis of Airplane Neighbors, Or, I Am Stuck Here Next To You, Please Do Not Suck:

1. Ideal seatmate:
We are taking up space in close proximity , but you do the immediate ear buds in, not acknowledging me whatsoever tactic.
This is a delightfully clear-cut  seat neighbor .
I get it.
No talky.
I smile once to show I am allegedly nice, and I get your "shhhh" deal.
(Note: I am horrible at pulling off this maneuver myself. Meaning , I try to hide behind book or ear buds and music -  but lifetime anecdotal evidence proves that invariably, I get an Information Seeker.)

2. Information Seeker:
You know, the one wanting to know about the book I am reading/hiding behind, or what I am listening to.
In all other scenarios, Here Is What I Think Is Awesome Conversation is my favorite .

But planes or trains (especially Hitchcockian trains, look out for the noir!!!) are tricky.
Could be lovely, brief discussion on whatever, followed by peace and calm.
BUT, there is no way to know this right away.

You could get sucked into a vortex of: 
Way too much information about temporary travel neighbor's medical issues that are fairly personal and graphic ,
Extreme Overshare on niece that is in rehab ,
How air travel prices are the fault of whichever political group person hates with a raging passion,  ( Note: invariably forcing me to  tediously duck and weave, since I Am NOT Talking About Politics)
And my fave, "Where do I live and do I know this person they know from my city ?"

(Note: No.  Answer  is always no.  But that is not accepted as an answer, ever,  so you have to listen to more details on unknown same city dweller, in hopes that somehow it turns out you DO know this person.)
(Subnote:  that never happens )

3.  It could get worse, though. Information Seekers are mute invisible people compared to "Oh Goody, I Have An Audience "Person.

(And while it may appear somewhat pot/kettle scenario, me besmirching someone's Extreme Conversing, in my defense I proffer):

I do NOT trap strangers temporarily proximate to me on some method of transportation and give Lessons In Music,  or here is the best lip balm and here's why, or you need to learn the wonders of Tide To Go.
(I have provided and/or administered magic product to save the day or the white jeans of neighbor, but that is totally not same thing )

Nor do I give protracted, meandering tales of my children and their various cool qualities, or conversely, Mommy Horror Tales.

I save all that stuff for proper venues such as:
Talking my friends's ears off,
Having blog, so word limitations don't interfere with my Brilliant Insights,
ithis or ithats,
My gym friends (as distraction from bad boot camp pain, I am saint-like, reallly)
Starbucks cool magic elixir makers,
And boutique owners and their chic staff.
(Note: I recently I got a thank you note, very charming , from cool boutique I had recently visited and may or may not have gone a bit overboard. (Spoiler! I did.)
And Matt is all, "Um Allison, when they send you thank you notes, I am alarmed as to what havoc you have wreaked."
Lesson learned, hide shopping spree thank you cards from now on).

And so while I get the basic concept of Let Me Tell You What Is What, and I surely do that if it is of interest to listener, I know this:
You have  to read your audience.

 (Or, get blog where you can pontificate into the ether, so your head is not full of GET THIS! that will bowl over next person you see)

And if  airplane or whatever seat neighbor plugs into every electronic thing they own, or fake sleep, they do NOT want to hear about a great business opportunity , fishing lure analysis, or your gout.
Just saying.

4. It's not just Information Seekers or Overwhelming Oversharers, though.
Occasionally, a lady traveling without chaperone befuddles certain men. Men who somehow think this is Victorian England, and I am a loose woman or whatever. Tiresome and creepy.

Best way to deal with that horror is find the coolest flight attendant   -  those that have not crossed 40 time zones in 24 hours, dealing with passengers who mistake them for personal valets at the Ritz.

That attendant will be your best bet in suddenly needing to relocate you to save you,  or letting you hang with the crew in back, or most commonly, give a Stern Face at the Yuk Guy.

5. Also no fun?  Zombies.

Completely asleep, coma-like, drooling seat mate. Preventing you from extricating yourself from hours long Pilates pretzel twist leg formation in order to visit gross lavatory.
Lavatories  I do not wish to opine upon, because EWWW suffices.
Zombies can be sleepy  drooler college dude, little elderly lady who somehow still takes up all space , or the Worst:
Parent holding sleeping baby.

You know, they know , the universe knows, jostling will lead to Displeased Baby  Hear Me Roar.

I have often attempted spidey crawl over nearby seats , kind of playing Plane Twister.  Does not work. Left hand on yellow , right foot on green , never works .
Nobody's fault except shrinky dink airplanes, but that scenario sucks, for displeased baby  parents at their wits' send, everyone else on the plane.

5. I am noting these plane dilemmas  as if I am always traveling solo, Whee the Freedom, Mary Tyler Moore tossing crochet hat in the air.
That is not so. Is rare (also do not have any crochet anything).
Normally, I have Matt and my girls, girls who are actually great travelers:
(Sage Tangent Advice!
when Matt was in training,the head of oncology was an intimidating but worldly man, and he advised us when I was pregnant with V to take our kids traveling early and often, they would become good travelers and get a lot out of it even when they were little, it's worth it)

Sage advise taken, and the girls are great, yet no matter how savvy they are, somebody is going to get the window seat twice, the stain free markers LIE and also roll off in two seconds leading to messy mayhem, etc.

Traveling with a passel of toddlers or babies or both is a different story altogether , involving Santa size sacks of foods and toys and the fog of desperation permeating everywhere.

Want to know what  "if looks could kill" looks like?
Take babies and toddlers on a plane.
Extra  bonus if they are already screaming.

In fact, the first time I flew solo after lots of kid carting travel,  I was meeting my sister in NYC for fun weekend for her birthday, no packs of Goldfish involved. 
No kids to monitor, placate, or shoosh.
And it was a busy flight , loud, commotion going on around me, but I was ALL ALONE.
With a book.
So somehow I did not notice we landed.

Or that everyone had disembarked.

It was like I was in a sensory deprivation tank.

And when a crew member got back on the plane to prepare for next flight , she screamed.
And she could not decide who broke TSA laws:
Me for not getting off of the plane,
or them not noticing.

And just as "I like this song" is not an airtight defense for speeding while driving ,
"I am all alone without my kids and this book is good" does not automatically clarify why you did not get off the plane like a normal person.
But airline person could tell that though insane,  my story was true, and I was free to flee, and I rushed off for the fun weekend.

So there are many subsets of "oh nooo" involved in getting from here to there.
Minefields, you cannot predict or plan tactics in advance. Always have to be on your toes for what you might encounter.

But yay!
Today, seat mate was nice guy with maps (Graciously not laughing in my face when I showed him where we stay and our favorite beaches are, because I had the map upside down and got the
mountainy area confused with the water)
And: across aisle , this nice lady and I discussed ,with demonstration thanks to my spill:
The wonders of Neutrogena makeup wipes,
Which  kind of coconut water we preferred,
My perfume and its origin (as first Chanel perfume created for a specific woman, and I choose to think that person is me, as I am delusional),
And the many beautification uses of cucumbers.

And Note:
In case you are thinking I trapped this woman with ha HA! I have a trapped audience, whee!  and this poor lady was tormented, unwilling chat friend,
I submit the following as evidence :

In crazy mayhem airport that is not easy to maneuver , she comes to find me to make sure I got my welcome shot of rum, as is delicious and she wanted to share the yay.
Which ?:
1. Proves  I did not drive her insane with my jibber jabber and in fact we are BFF's

2. Proves I am about to have an awesome vacation .

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Credit Where Credit Is Due, An Ode To Blarney, by Allison

As it is St. Patrick's day,  Matt has hung an Irish flag on our house while wearing a Guinness T shirt, and the girls are outfitted in green sparkle fedoras, green jester hats, green shamrock shirts, I feel like waxing poetic about our trip to Ireland last year.  Which was fantastic.
Especially the blarney.
The whole trip was super fun, Dublin was awesome, people actually do play fiddles and such and sing in pubs, sweater shopping galore, Book of Kells was enchanting, and M the then six year old stylist decided to hold a "Who is the Most Irish?" contest, as decided by her.
We venture to the countryside, which is totally GREEN and misty and fog, sheep wandering all about, people are playing Celtic music, and they tip hats at you and are lovely.
And I begin to feel like maybe they are Irish robots designed to trick tourists into buying sweaters and caps.
I was kind of worried, like, did they spray paint all this green?
Is there a fog machine?
Do they outsource the fiddling robots?
But hurray! 
No robots! No trickery!
Was actually super cool, fun, gorgeous country with delightful people.
And get this??
Matt somehow google earthed his ancestor's home (Via immigration papers, in which your homeplace must be listed, and on hers, a plot of land cited was pinpointed in County Kerry. I do not have high hopes, because I can't work the stupid hand-held GPS and get lost going to the DMV in our own city. But Matt is on a quest, and we drove in winding, sheep-riddled fashion to find his ancestor's home.)
And it was there!  
I decided to ignore the Big Brother creepiness of worldwide tracking systems and instead enjoy the third generation of descendents, standing proudly at her homeplace.
(Seriously. Matt should be proud, he found this house after I had said maybe one trillion times "You do not know where we are or where we are going, let's follow the sheep to a sweater store.")
And the house was  charming, semi-decaying, surrounded by flowering vines.
Also there was pretty concrete evidence that it had been recently undergone a hobo invasion.
The girls were all "Somebody did NOT clean up after themselves, how rude." 
And I am all "Maybe they are related to you and this is an inherited trait?"
We had a fab time driving the Ring of Kerry, randomly stopping to climb big rocky hill (Or I say, mountain) overlooking the stormy sea, went horseback riding in misty, mossy forests and meadows, and I decided my horse needed to change his name to Mr. Darcy.
So much awesome fun.  St. Patrick's Day in Dublin: festive, garish, happy, fab music.
M the six year old stylist found the winner of "Who is the most Irish?" contest: our waitress at a pub in Killarney.
And M was so right.
She was straight out of central casting:  accent was tinkling brogue, perfect fair coloring, wearing GREEN. Also she was way cool and was (or at least pretended to be) very pleased to have won M's invented contest.
She was fab.
Plus, next door to lovely pub was fisherman sweater heaven.
Win win.
As we were galavanting all over the countryside, on our way to Castle of Crazy by the sea,
(Note: I did not know it was Castle of Crazy. I heard "castle" and began sketching my gowns and dainty footwear. Those items were not needed in enormous castle filled with many portraits of murderous children - no lie, in our room, portrait of a girl holding a hatchet and a whip, and in the library under a roaring fire was an excellent rendering of the Children of the Corn - plus LIVE LOOSE BIRDS, THE HORROR, THE HORROR)
we decided to stop at Blarney Castle.
I had been forewarned by friends that the Irish pranksters defoul the Blarney stone and I should by no means kiss it.
I was fine with not kissing the Blarney stone since as legend tells, kissing it grants the Gift of Gab.
Clearly, I am all set on that.
And was kind of worried that kissing it would not only be gross due to fraternity-style hijinks, but maybe it would turn me mute.
I am sure there is a line of people, starting with those in my household, and including those who have to decipher the walls of text emails I send regarding first grade class parties, who would give money for me to kiss the thing and be cursed to Never Gab Again.
So as we approach Blarney Castle, in the misty, foggy rain (FYI, I deem that Best Weather Ever),
I was thinking: the castles we have seen are gorgeous and beautiful and stony and desolate.  What if this is tourist trap faux castle? I was concerned.
But I am an idiot!
While surely, tourists (And, yes, I know we are included in that category. But  I prefer to think we are anthropologists/sociologists/historians/shoppers) are touring, it is immediately evident why.
The grounds were the greenest.
The flowers most vivid, the trees tall.
The foggy, rolling mist, divine. 
But I was not going to kiss the Blarney Stone, because I do not want to catch a weird disease and be made fun of by my friends who warned me not to kiss it.
Yet, as I climbed the tall, stony castle, I am enchanted. It has a Poison Garden! 
A room designated the Murder Hole!
Great names for bands, and also helpful if people are trying to kill you.
 I read the stone's history (Queen Elizabeth wanted Earl of Blarney's castle, he would write her long, persuasive, flattering letters that had nothing to do with giving her his castle, this went on for years, until she said "I am sick of this Blarney!") on tasteful placards as we journey through awesomely named, ruinously stony castle. 
Every so often, there would be information on the erudite stone kissers. Winston Churchill! He was not a tourist!
These clever placards also gave examples of blarney versus obvious, insincere flattery.
And I am a fan of misty, rainy, ruinous castles.
And I am also a fan of rhetoric and a turn of phrase that is effective.
Especially effective when the Queen can throw you in the Murder Hole or Poison Garden.
And as we climbed up and up to the top of the castle, I was thinking:
1. Do not trip.
2. This set-up is fabulous blarney on Blarney.
 Ironically unironic. 
I was wooed by the use of blarney at Blarney to blarney me. 
I give credit where credit is due.
Well played, Blarney Castle.
And so I climbed to the tippy top of the castle (And note: it would be challenging to defoul this stone as it is way high up and on the underside of an interior wall. Not saying many have tried, surely some succeeded, but I bet some fell to their doom in the Poison Garden as well)
And I scootched out until I could reach the Stone, which was not in a convenient place to kiss or defoul.
And held onto bars and did a backbend to kiss the Stone. 
They don't make it easy, you have to show some effort, and dangle off of a tall stone castle. 
And I was compelled to do so.
Because I wanted to pay my respects to the very good sell job they did..
As a tribute, an homage, to top-shelf blarney. 
Credit where credit is due.

Friday, March 1, 2013

You Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'? How About A Fab Band Of Three Sisters Who Rule???? Am Obsessed, Haim's "Forever", by Allison

So, I do not need any encouragement to fixate on a song or a band or music, I am all set with my own natural obsessive behavior on those fronts.

But give me a break here, with Haim, a group of three cool sisters:

 I have three cool daughters. My own musical abilities stop at: Appreciation, Fixation, Will Make Wall of Fandom For Floppy Haired British Tall Brooders.
But my girls actually make music, even this young they have a variety of skill sets with their violins, plus guitar, bass, and drums, lyricist has her third journal going so far. 
Matt is also guitar and bass player and understands what is going on with the violin lessons for the last six years.
 I am more of, I know I like it if I like it, but do not ask me which is the A string, I am composing an Ode in my head instead.)

Clearly, the three sisters in a band together is completely fab and I love that, but what is most fab is this:

This band RULES.

Somehow they have a funk/groove bass line piece that sounds like the coolest of smooth Michael Jackson "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" strumming/Stevie Wonder 1970's vibe, with also layered sound and lyrics that evoke Fleetwood Mac in their glory.  With smoky to shimmery vocals, weaving in and out.

"Forever," the song in which I am currently obsessed with, has such layered, textured awesomeness.
All of the long-standing, bone-deep knowledge these girls have of each other and how they complement and play off of each other, is featured in full force.

Is ridiculously great, regardless of the three sisters thing.

But that makes it extra cool to me, or at least justifies my 7 year old's drum kit by her bed, and I am totally into a dream in which my girls stay close and supportive of each other as they grow up and/or form a kickass band.

Plus, the "Forever" video has clips of them as kids mixed in with them jamming in their living room with kid portraits around, plus bicycles, and and a dance medley in an old-school beauty parlor.

That there, is like, heaven perfection. Seriously awesome band, super talented, and cool and chic in an insouciant way, I give them gold star. A plus. Yay and whees, and more please.

"Forever," by Haim