Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nightmare on Buena Vista Street

Here you go, folks.  The post you've been waiting for. You know how much I was looking forward to our trip to California with the kids, and I'm happy to say I survived.  We got up early on Sunday and headed for Universal Studios in Hollywood, which, even though I cannot stand theme parks, I actually thought I might like.


As a Highly Sensitive Person, it's hard to like any situation that involves a lot of noise and commotion.  Or racket, as us old people call it.  And Universal Studios is LOUD!  Just people and noise and busy-ness everywhere.  And waiting in lines forever for shit that, to me, wasn't even mildly amusing. A couple of the attractions we saw were not only loud, but pretty violent, which I really can't stand.

[Disclaimer:  In all fairness, I don't like anything; I'm tough to please. I wouldn't be able to ingest enough LSD or heroin or Oxycontin to find the Bellagio fountains or the lights of the Fremont Street Experience even remotely entertaining.]  

There was one special effects show that was interesting, and I guess I expected Universal Studios to be more informative, like maybe with exhibits about the movie industry.  But it was all rides and goofy stuff.  We went on the tour, but aside from some cool 3-D effects in a King Kong tunnel, it was pretty lame. 

And then there's the Curious George house, described on the website as "thousands of flying foam balls in this wild play area just for kids… and the young at heart."  Or as I call it, "Hell."

Seriously, this park has to be the noisiest place on earth.  I can't stand loud movie soundtracks, and they were playing everywhere.  Toward the end of the day, I suggested we check out the animal actors show, thinking it had to be a little more subdued.  While sitting on the bleachers waiting for the show to start, I whispered to Mike, "Is it me, or does every third kid here look like Manny from Modern Family?"  He laughed and then casually said, "You know, I think this show involves birds flying around..."

Good-bye!  Oh, hell, yeah, I left the family and made a beeline for the Irish pub on site (thank you, Jesus) and enjoyed a ten-dollar Guinness that I would have joyfully paid twenty for.  I sat there sipping my dark drops of pleasure, cherishing every swallow, but my bliss was ruined when I checked my email and saw this message from my sister Lori:
"Jackson Browne and Lucinda Williams are at the Hollywood Bowl tonight."
And later when we passed the freeway exit for the Hollywood Bowl on the way to our hotel in Anaheim, a lone tear fell down my cheek, just like the Indian in the don't-be-a-litterbug commercial from the 70s.

After Universal Studios I thought, how bad can Disneyland be?  The complex actually encompasses Disneyland and the California Adventure Park, which we checked out first. It was really okay; not too noisy or crowded. We got hip to the free Fast Pass system and didn't have to wait around too much.

Here's my grandson, Connor, proudly wearing this very cool t-shirt I bought for him the day before in the Kwik-E-Mart at Universal Studios.  As you can imagine, he got many compliments!

 Awesome, no? 
The kids were happy to go on the rides and I was happy to find a vendor nearby selling Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  I was thinking, this isn't that bad after all.  Yup, all was well...

... until we left California Adventure Park and went into Disneyland.  OMG.  It was worse than I expected.  The crowds, the lines, the noise... I can't believe people actually go there on their own free will.  I remember we were in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride when I started to "go bad."  But I kept a happy face.

No friggin' mouse ears for me--that's a Harley Davidson cap

Disneyland was so congested, I couldn't take it.  Finally, we went back to California Adventure Land and stood waiting and waiting for the Bellagio fountains-like World of Color show.  I'll say no more. 

Afterward, I was a complete mental patient on the inside and could hardly maintain my fake smile.  It was close to 10 p.m. and Mike and his 11-year old son still had tickets for the Twilight Zone ride.  Connor wasn't interested in that, so he and I and Mike's 7-year old daughter found a place where we could sit and wait for them.  

And we waited... and waited... and waited... and after about 40 minutes I was just miserable, hating every single man, woman and child who walked by me and fantasizing about how I was going to kill Mike for making me go on this stupid trip and what I could have done with the $410 I spent on mine and Connor's tickets.  FML, you know?

As we waited, the little one fell asleep with her head in my lap and Connor and I talked about our favorite Family Guy episodes and how freakin' awesome the Ted movie is gonna be based on the trailers we saw on YouTube.  Then he rested his head on my shoulder and said, "Granny, you're my BFF. I wish there was a Fountain of Youth so you'd never have to die."

Awwwww...  My sweet boy.  My heart filled with joy.  So I did have a magical Disney moment.

But the truth is, he could have texted me that sentiment and I'd have been just as happy.  No, we definitely didn't have to go to Disneyland for that.

That's my boy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quick, stupid post

While I was back East, my sister Lori and our friend Donna and I took a day trip to Northampton, Massachusetts.  Northampton is a cool little city about 15 miles north of Springfield.  It has cute shops, an eclectic music scene, and the most lesbian couples per capita of any city in the U.S. 

As you can see, men have a designated place in that town; on this day, there was not one to be found.


Speaking of men, I had to laugh at this picture of the Jersey Shore boys in my Entertainment Weekly magazine.  

Okay, there's nothing that funny about that specific picture.  But check out how it looks upside down.

Seems like at least two of them could breastfeed all the starving children in Africa.  I guess it's all a matter of perspective...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Back home again, but not for long...

This has been a crazy couple of months--JazzFest in New Orleans at the beginning of May, then a visit to Boise and my mother's unexpected hospital stay, then two weeks in Albany for my son's wedding.  I'm glad to be home, sleeping in my own bed, but it's always hard to leave my family.  Connor came back to Vegas with me, though, so the fun isn't over yet.

Courtney drove us to the airport; I took this photo before we left.

Hazel and Courtney
She is one funny baby, always so serious.  But you can tell she was having a swinging time at the wedding.

Overjoyed to be with her granny
A big smile for the groom, Uncle Chris
I can't tell you how many people at the wedding were trying to get Hazel's attention so they could take a picture--she looked so damn cute.

Hazel!  HAZEL!  Over here!
But this is a baby who is perfectly content being on her own, checking out things like open guitar cases.

At one point, my sister Stacie came up to me and asked, "Can Hazel hear?" because she ignores everybody.  Almost everybody, that is.  My new daughter-in-law, Ketti, has a sweet and gentle brother who is "special."  With my own eyes, I saw Johnny call out, "Hazel!" from behind her, and I'll be damned if that kid didn't turn right around and look up at him.  He's the only one to whom she'd give the time of day.  Funny, huh?

Hazel and her pal, Johnny
That picture puts the biggest smile on my face.

Hope you're enjoying a great summer weekend.  I'll be traveling again soon--yep, it's just about time for that Disney trip.  Pray for me!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

One groovy day trip!

After two glorious weeks in Albany, today I'm heading back to Las Vegas.  My pal Connor had his last day of school yesterday, and he's coming back with me.  He adores Mike's kids--it's cute to see them all together, and it's so nice that they all get along so well.  Nothing like having a granny in Vegas with built-in playmates!

Connor will be with us for 10 days, during which we'll be taking that Disneyland trip I've been so eagerly anticipating.  Remind me I still need to buy that flask...

Anyway, last week Mike and I took a little day trip that I have to tell you about.  Last Tuesday was a washout (thank God the weather for the wedding wasn't like that) so we scrapped our plans to go down to NYC.  Instead, we decided to take a drive down to Bethel, New York, to check out The Museum at Bethel Woods, located at the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival.

A gloomy day is perfect museum weather
Per their website, the museum is "dedicated to the study and exhibition of the social, political and cultural events of the 1960s, including the Woodstock festival, the legacies of the times and the preservation of the 1969 Woodstock festival site. The Museum is a leading authority on the history of the 1960s and its transformative impact on the world."

This place is AMAZING--the curators did a fantastic job.  Everything about this museum is well done. When you first walk in, they set you up for the vibe of the 60s.

Multimedia exhibits are everywhere--lots of videos capture the era and how the concert came to be.

You can sit on this bus and watch a video.  Past the Aquarian Explosion sign is a theater with a huge screen.

In addition to all the videos, there are artifacts like these.

How people found each other before cell phones
Click on this photo to read a thank you letter from a concert goer to a doctor in town who treated him.  Very sweet.

It takes a good 2 hours to go through the museum, and of course there's a cool gift shop.  Mike bought me a peace sign necklace, a snow globe and a fridge magnet, and because he spent more than $30, we got a free Partridge Family CD.  "I think I love you!"

If it were a nicer day, we would have spent some time walking around the grounds.  Since it was pouring, we just darted out of the car for a quick photo of the Woodstock marker.

If you click the photo, you can see all the artists who performed.  Can you imagine what it must have been like?

I can't recommend this attraction enough.  Let me set a couple of things straight, though.  Although it's informally known as "the Woodstock museum," don't confuse it with The Woodstock Museum in Saugerties, New York.  Totally different place.  This museum is at the actual site of the Woodstock concert, and it's a good 50 miles away from the town of Woodstock (near Saugerties) in the middle of nowhere.  It's totally worth the trip, though.

The Museum at Bethel Woods is a joyous place to visit, a true celebration of peace and music.  Mike and I left feeling truly uplifted, and we actually learned a lot.  Do yourself a favor and make the trip.

Peace out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


A little back story for the new readers.  Both my parents had/have sisters named Joyce.  My father's sister was Beautiful Aunt Joyce, the nicest, cleanest-living person on earth who died three years ago at age 63 of breast cancer.  Like BAJ, my mother's sister Joyce is also nice as hell.  But unlike BAJ, she's also full of hell.  She's a quirky lesbian.  Last weekend my sister Lori and I took a road trip to Maine to pay her a visit.

Because we took my rental car, I'm behind the wheel this time.  Lori had to drive every mile of our two cross-country trips in 2010 because, I'm told, I'm a scary driver. 

"I never get in accidents, but I hear them happening behind me..."
Whenever Lori and I are on the road, there's no such thing as a straight line to where we're going, and this trip was no exception.  We made it pretty far, though--all the way to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, before we got off the highway to do some exploring. And by "exploring," I mean "magically happening upon a brew pub."

Lori and I are a lot alike, but when it comes to beer, we're on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Portsmouth is a very cool little city.  I bet it would be a fun destination for a girls' trip.  Brew pub, shopping...

Even a boutique named after my granddaughter!
We finally made it up to Wells, Maine.  When we first saw our Joycie, both Lori and I were like, "Holy shit, does she look like Mommy or what?"  (We still refer to our mother as "Mommy.")

Aunts are awesome because they're like mothers, but without all the years of having to listen to,"Clean your goddamn bedroom"
Joyce is a blast.  We had great fun listening to her tell the story of when she "came out" to our grandmother and how she had to convince her that she wasn't joining a cult.  Everything was cool once Granny understood there was no evil lesbian leader or secret gay handshake. 

Gerry is an ex-gym teacher, but I still love her

On Saturday morning our cousin Kelly came up from Massachusetts to join us for breakfast.

What the hell is going on with the weirdness of my face in this picture?
I swear, if I lived in Maine, I would weigh 500 pounds. 

The food in Maine is freakin' amazing!
And the service was great, too!
Amore Breakfast in Ogunquit--I highly recommend, but delicious food is everywhere!

That's not a mirage in the middle picture--there was actually a black person in Maine!  Later Saturday night, Lori and I went to a cool biker bar that Joycie turned us on to and we saw the other black person in Maine.

Funny--while we were watching the band, I got a text from someone that said, "OMG!  I just saw a black person IN VERMONT!"  What are the chances?

Oh, what fun!  After we listened to a couple of the band's sets, we went back to our hotel room and ate popcorn and drank beer in bed while watching The Sopranos in French. 

We met quite a few Canadians on our trip, and of course, every time I had to gush, "I love Canadians!" because I really do.  We met a nice couple from Quebec at breakfast Sunday morning on York Beach, and when Lori saw they each had a Kindle, Lori suggested they check out Bastard Husband: A Love Story and they bought it on the spot!  But I would still like them even if they didn't.

Sisters on the beach
On the way home we stopped in to see my friend Chief in Massachusetts.  Remember him from my book?  Chief is one of the most entertaining friends I have.  So cute--I adore him.

How about I wore the same top two days in a row?  I had something else on, but didn't like it so I was like, what the hell--no one will see me.  EXCEPT IN PICTURES THAT I POST ON MY BLOG--duh. Oh, well; it is a really cute shirt.

Today we're planning a short day trip and I still have to tell you about the day trip Mike and I took last week before he went home.  So much to tell you!  Life is good...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Traveling again... what else is new?

Sorry I've had so many "I've been too busy to write" posts lately, but it's true.  Mike went back to Vegas last week, but I'm staying East for another few days--raising hell as usual.  My sister Lori and I just got back from a fun as hell weekend in Maine that included my quirky lesbian aunt and an awesome biker bar. 

As you probably know, Lori is a friggin' riot.  I swear that after people meet her, they look at me and go, "Yeah, whatever."  We have a great time traveling together; I'll tell you all about our most recent antics in Tuesday's post. In the meantime, here's a repost from our first cross-country trip in 2010.  If you're a new-ish reader, you'll especially enjoy this since chances are you've never seen it.

New stuff coming on Tuesday...

We always do what we're told

Friday, May 21, 2010
9:00 p.m. eastern Oklahoma

Writing this from the lobby of a Day's Inn in eastern Oklahoma. Yes, we finally made it out of New Mexico! I have a lot to tell you about our drive through the Texas pan handle and our stop in Oklahoma City, but we have to get back on the road--we're hoping to make it to Little Rock tonight.

So yesterday we passed this sign as we were driving along.

Good thing we had our scales in the car.

I wasn't too happy with what I saw.

Of course, the weigh stations are intended for truckers, so Lori waved them over.

They were totally into it! When Lori told the first guy he had to get weighed, he said, "You want me to put my truck on those scales?"

Why are we traveling with scales, you ask? Because I'm neurotic about my weight. My thought process was, I always gain weight when I'm in Albany and I don't want to balloon up this summer, so if I have my scales with me, I can stay on top of the situation. I know.

Anything for a laugh.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The funniest thing I've ever posted

I'm warning you--pee right now and swallow your coffee so you don't spit it all over your monitor. 

Okay, so last week  Mike and I met Courtney and baby Hazel for lunch at the Olive Garden. It was packed, and so it took a little while for our food to arrive. Hazel was starting to get a little itchy, so Courtney took her out of her chair and stood her next to our table.  To prevent Hazel from straying and getting in the way of the wait staff bustling around, Courtney started playing a little game with her. 

"Where's your nose?" she asked, and Hazel pointed to her nose.  Court then asked, "Where's your hair?" and Hazel touched her beautiful locks.  When she asked, "Where are your eyes?" Hazel blinked again and again.

Everywhere they go, people stop and comment on how beautiful Hazel is, with her red hair and all, and I could see people smiling at her--some even pointing--as they ate. All eyes were on Hazel.

Well, Mike wanted in on the game, and being a Mr. Smarty Pants, he thought he'd trick Hazel by asking her to identify that thing that hangs down in the back of your throat.  But instead of saying, "Where's your uvula?" he asked,

"Where's your vulva?"

Hazel, Courtney and I just looked at each other like, huh?  And Mike was all smiley, like what?  And then Courtney whispers, "You mean like, vagina?" And when Mike got what he said, I almost saw someone actually die of embarrassment.

But instead, we almost died laughing. 

How freakin' funny is that story?

Hazel's outfit for the next time she goes to Olive Garden

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Happiest day of my life!

I'm writing this late Monday night and it's the first I've fired up my laptop since last Wednesday.  On Saturday my precious son, Christopher, married the love of his life, Ketti, in Thatcher State Park up in the Helderberg Mountains outside of Albany, New York.  So simple, so beautiful...

The pavilion, all ready for guests to arrive...

Here's the lookout point where the ceremony was to take place.  It was drizzling all morning and we all had our fingers crossed about the weather.  It takes a lot of nerve to plan an outdoor wedding in upstate New York, but thankfully, the weather held up!

The groom and his friends blowing off some steam before the bride arrived...

Beautiful Ketti makes the scene with her dad...

My brother-in-law Russ performed the ceremony.  Short, sweet, and touching.

Who's that little one in the background?  Why, it's the most serious baby on earth.  How freakin' adorable is she?   Courtney made her flower head dress.

The rings make it official!

I admit, I am one of those mothers who thinks their son is the most amazing person who ever walked the earth.  There is nothing that could make me happier than knowing he will walk through life with this woman.

Here's Courtney, Ketti, Chris, and Ketti's brother, Jessie. 

Is it me, or does it look like Chris and Ketti essentially married their own siblings?  Huh???

Here are two happy couples.  Okay, yes, I did wear black to my son's wedding (what the hell?).  It was my back-up dress.  I looked too fat in the first one, and you know black is slenderizing.  Oh, shut up!

Don't Mike and I look like little shorties next to them?  (Chris is about 6'4" and Ketti's almost 5'11".)

Want to see a pic of my first ex?  Here you go!

He's a great guy.  And days like this are an excellent reason to make sure you always maintain a pleasant relationship with your ex.  Your children will appreciate it.  Truly.

Look how big Connor is getting! Damn.

Time for dinner...

And some fun...

At night the die-hards went back to Chris and Ketti's house for some home-grown music on the deck. 

It was a thrilling day.  Seriously, I thought I would burst from happiness.  At the end of the night, Christopher said, "I just wish my granny could be here," and her presence was the only thing missing.  Mom couldn't travel because of her recent blood pressure scare, and we sure missed her. 

I am so very grateful.  I know you join me in wishing Chris and Ketti all the best!