Thursday, May 23, 2013

Not in the Cards

This week has been just shy of insane.  Out of the ordinary work schedules has my body thinking that at present time it’s Saturday afternoon.  To complicate matters, the painter arrived on Wednesday afternoon (the REAL Wednesday; my Monday morning) to put the finishing touches on our recently refurbished kitchen.  Once again, we are without full use of the kitchen, so the usual morning and evening workflow could make the Tough Mudder look more appealing.  Today’s work schedule would prove challenging with a big girl meeting at 8 am (requiring more than business causal attire) and a whirlwind afternoon trip to Harrisburg. 
I didn’t have time to run this morning, but I deliberately got up early to get some yoga in the mix.  I rolled out my nearly shredded blue mat on the family room carpet before centering myself in Balasana (child’s pose).  Forty-five minutes and a few flow sequences later, I rolled up my mat, paying mind to not let any mat shreds hit the floor.  I walked through the shell of a kitchen to grab my mug while making my way to the dining room.  This space, for the past month or so, has been the dumping ground for everything kitchen during the project.  In recent days, the volume of shit in this room has picked up while acquiring items from the laundry room (which is also being painted).  Because the washer and dryer are parked in my garage spot, a small hamper of dirty clothes resides in the dining room.  I imagine we’ll be in a world of hurt after three days without the washer/dryer.  Thank God this is a three day weekend. 
Nevertheless, I fire up the Keurig (my morning companion), but she’s clearly pissed.  She didn’t brew me a full cup of coffee.  I got close to a half cup.  I think she might need a cleaning, but the silly side of me believes that she has a true personality and felt slighted when moved out of the new kitchen back into the dining room.  I didn’t get a very good cup of coffee.  I shuffled upstairs to get myself ready.  Not disturbed by the morning beverage glitch, I gleefully ironed my dress post shower.  For the second day, I found a lovely clip to pull my hair up.  I woke up the girls, got them dressed and directed them downstairs for shoes and snack.  Today was Show and Share for Ava – a camping theme – and she decided against her original idea which led me to the basement to find my Girl Scout mess kit.  Of course, the bin containing this item was underneath three boxes of crystal.  Grrr.
Mess kit, purse, phone, shoes (I wore flip flops to drive) and kids in hand, we walked through the kitchen into the garage.  Just like that the skies opened.  I ran to the car to get the umbrella and escort each child to their respective seat.  Less than five minutes later, we were off.  Two and a half miles into the trip, I became very insecure about my hair (yes, I’m a girl) and I ripped the clip out of my damp hair and tousled my mane free.  Well, there goes that.  How annoying.  I parked the car at daycare, paying careful attention to where the puddles resided.  Both girls walked with me to the sidewalk without incident.  I arrived at the meeting location with enough time to spare for a coffee run.  I hit the cafeteria deciding on tea instead.  Unsure of the building layout, I took the elevator to the fifth floor and found the conference room.  Meeting start…rubble, rubble…meeting adjourned…Bye. 
I made it to my office for a couple of power hours before leaving for Harrisburg.  I wasn’t even sure why I was going, but apparently someone ‘inspiring ‘would be the guest speaker.  I should have mapped it out before responding yes – the trip, one way, would take 90 minutes.  I’d spend roughly 2 1/2 hours there before heading back home again.  I would have rather driven to New York for the afternoon.  Traffic sucked; the volume of asshole truck drivers was fairly obscene.  I envisioned myself getting cut off or flipping my car.  Thankfully, I picked up free Sirius radio and listed to Pearl Jam most of the way (oh, with a few featured songs from INXS, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin). 
Parking seemed sketchy and I was in no mood to search for a deck blocks away from the venue, which happened to be a Lutheran Church.  Random.  A few spaces were available in front of the church, but the meter only took quarters.  I had one nickel, one penny and a useless debit card.  I parked my car there anyway.  I figured that my convenience outweighed the cost of any parking ticket.  Meeting start…rubble, rubble…the speaker was actually very inspiring…I left ten minutes early…Bye. 
Back in the damn car.  No ticket, yay!  Gas running low.  Stomach growls.  Oh yeah, I didn’t have time for lunch.  Crap.  Traffic.  I hate 81 and all those damn trucks.  Oh, look Pearl Jam.  Thank God I brought those flip flops.  Sooo, anywhoo, I make it to day care with approximately ten minutes to spare without getting an overtime charge.  Hubbs calls to inform me that the guys are still working on the walls (sanding) and the kitchen it basically sealed and unusable.  We will need to embark on another dine-out experience with the ladies.  Order food…nosh, nosh…’Mommy, can I try your…’…check…Bye. 
The ladies are in bed, hubbs is playing hockey and I’m sprawled out on the couch watching the Rangers’ try to save their chances at playing a game 5 in the second round of the playoffs.  It’s overtime now.  Ugh.  I just finished devouring a half pint size of real Italian ice (YumYum from Lyndhurst Pastry Shop in Jersey) and I don’t feel the least bit guilty.   It’s really been a hell of a week.  I can’t wait to not go to work.  I will get up early tomorrow, but I plan to run the hell out of the pavement.  I need the time to get my mojo working.  Looks like the Rangers got theirs (overtime win!!!). 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Screams in Dreams

My husband and I took our two little princesses to Disney World just a few short weeks ago.  We were also in the company of my sister-in-law, best friend and her husband.  The group got along just fine through the occasional high stress times of melt-downs, humidity induced delusions and longer than average days.  It’s difficult to imagine bad times in Disney when the area is surrounded by magic and the pinnacle of customer service. 
We decided to close our park hopping adventures with a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I had been looking forward to and dreading this park all week.  I tout myself as a tough girl, boss, shot callah and whatever other pride supporting names you can find (polite names, of course), but when it comes to heights, I check out.  Making sure I keep everyone on their toes, I bend the rules a little when it comes to certain attractions. 
Hollywood Studios is home to two GREAT thrill rides: Rockin’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  I have, again to keep people sharp AND confused, been on both rides.  And I have, ahem, enjoyed both…but not without a lot of sweating, heart palpitations, screaming and after-ride shakes.  This time would be no different.  I felt some mild pressure from the adult park goers in my group; the pressure won. 
Not long after lunch (and maybe too soon for my digestive comfort) I gingerly navigated the double stroller through the thick air and waves of people on Sunset Boulevard.  With each heavy step, I felt the airy energy shift to a sensation of tightness.  I glanced up towards the skyline to find The Hollywood Tower Hotel looming over the treetops.  I understand that this ride is just that, but the detail with which designers outfitted the experience is truly unbelievable.  Almost instantly, I found myself in another dimension – The 30s.  Cast characters dressed in maroon bell hop uniforms eerily welcomed me and my two escorts through the threshold of the entrance.  The tall landscaping provided some much needed shade cooling my skin.  I felt cold. 
We quickly walked up the gradual incline until we got to the next checkpoint.  I extended my right hand towards the next bell hop as he pulled the fast passes from my death grip.  I could have turned back there, but I carried on.  As we entered the hotel, I immediately became distracted by the decor – elaborate 30’s furniture mindfully placed about, covered in dust and cobwebs.  The attention to the detail was so powerful that I felt as if the antiques were studying me.  I was out of place. 
Before I had a chance to turn around, a large group of us was herded into the library.  The doors close, the lights dimmed and the lightning picked up.  The room, pumped with energy and air conditioning, sent shivers down my spine causing my skin to react with a mean case of goose bumps.  Yea, that’s it, the air conditioning.  The crowd gets their orientation to the matter at hand and we’re again shuffled through another doorway to the basement of the building – or so we think it’s the basement.  Another point passes.  Ho hum.  We approach another bell hop who is so anxious to load us into the elevator car.  I inform her that we’re a party of three as she guides us to row #1 which only has three spots.  I wiggle my way to the center spot and begin to shake.  Virtually no time passes when the doors to the elevator car opens and we’re ordered inside. 
I mentioned earlier that I had been on this ride before; I absolutely remember every moment of the ride, so I consider myself well enough educated to anticipate its every move.  That, of course, doesn’t help curb my control issues.  I can’t change the course of the ride and now, completely strapped in, there is no way out; there is only a way down.  I grabbed a hold of the yellow tether on my lap belt praying that I wouldn’t pull it out of the buckle.  I started to sweat as the doors closed and we began out ascent.   
Prior to my arrival, I had read previously about the Tower of Terror being struck by lightning thus temporarily shutting down the ride with guests inside the elevator cars.  This occurrence plays nicely with the backdrop story of an elevator car, with a family and bell hop inside, is struck by lightning on October 31, 1939 sending the occupants into the fifth dimension.  Return to May 10, 2013, without a cloud in the sky, I’m petrified that we’ll be struck by lightning, stuck, dropped, all of the above or worse.  There’s no way out now. 
The attraction’s distractions temporarily occupy my mind, but the inevitable future rears its ugly head as the elevator cars open for a third time and we’re briefly confronted with the blinding light of day thirteen stories above Hollywood Studios.  Without warning the car drops.  I white knuckle the strap looking for relief to find myself being propelled in the air again towards another drop.  I screamed at the top of my lungs – the kind of screaming that Drew Barrymore belts out between her red lips in the opening scene of, what else(?), Scream.  At one point, my scream was muffled by pure fear.  Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…  I thought each drop sequence would be the last.  As they continued I feared that the system was stuck in some sort of loop.  This repetition increased the fear factor causing me to scream louder.  I almost surrendered to my fate when the car began to move back to its ending track.  The doors opened, I popped my belt and wobbled off the ride.  It took roughly twenty minutes for me to steady my gait and trembling hands, but it was worth it.  I think.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


I just checked into another hotel close to the airport. We are winding down a whirlwind Disney family trip. We hit four parks, pigged out at three character dining experiences, used a canister of spray sunscreen, took numerous pictures, drank endless bottles of water all while sharing laughs and smiles. Each of us took turns navigating a double stroller though the seas of people, most of whom were too oblivious to realize there was a stroller in their path.
Anticipating hotter weather I wore wicking running gear for Animal Kingdom. Our park plan of attack that day pulled us in two directions: a fast pass would be required to ride Everest, but the safari would be best to hit first thing in the am when the animals were enjoying the sun, not hiding from it. If you are familiar with the park, those two attractions are in the exact opposite corners. Challenge accepted. I split from the family to make a mad dash towards Asia promising to meet up in Africa. I wove around groups, hurdling over small children, looking for the finish line, uh, I mean the fast pass distribution center. Leg one was complete as I tucked the passes in my pocket. I took off out of Asia towards Africa and picked up another runner along the way. 'You a runner?' I asked. 'Nope,' answered the breathless gentleman. As I passed him, I yelled over my shoulder, 'You are today.' Thankfully, I found my family just as the kids were being lifted out of the stroller and sucked up by the line. I maybe ran close to a mile, but it felt great.

I'm not a huge fan of thrill rides, but I found myself enjoying the usual popular attractions such as Test Track, Aerosmith's Rockin Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror (which dropped me a record of six, yes six, times). Ava, now five and 40 inches tall, qualified to ride a few thrills, one being Test Track. I rode this attraction, in Epcot, back in 2010 and screamed the entire time. I figured I wouldn't fare well another go-round, so I opted out. I worried about Ava's experience - I didn't want her to be scared or have a bad time. Perhaps I overreacted; she loved it. She loved it so much that she wanted to go again...and wanted me to take her. So much pressure. I didn't want to disappoint so I reluctantly walked with her, hand in hand, from Norway to Test Track. She told every Cast Member that she was back while telling me what to expect. The girl talked a mile a minute, surely she was going to spontaneously pass out. Well, not a chance. We swerved around the ropes until we found ourselves in a chute waiting to board our car. When that seatbelt locks there's no turning back. I laced my arm through her spaghetti legs and held on for dear life. Little Ava, barely able to see over the seat giggled through her radiant smile the entire time. I never let out a peep. An ear to ear grin was painted across my face; I loved sharing that moment with her. The final stretch of the ride takes the passengers outside on a circular track to reach 70 miles per hour. It doesn't sound like a lot, but with no roof and a hell of an angled track it can be quite exhilarating. Ava kept smiling while I embraced the wind through my hair. And like that, we came to a stop and unloaded. If you've seen Monster's Inc. you remember Mike getting excited about being in a commercial or on the cover of a magazine. Mike, in both, has his face covered by a logo. This was Ava in the ride photo. You had to look closely to find her blonde ponytail peaking over the headrest. Other than that, the seat looked vacant. We walked back to Germany, hand and hand - she, talking about the awesome ride and I, with a smile on my face.

So many more stories from this trip...some I hope to document. I stepped into the elevator this afternoon to make my way to the lobby. It felt weird to not have to rush anywhere or to be alone. It was nice. As the doors closed, I immediately feared the runway elevator car, 'traveling in another stop: The Twilight Zone.'

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