NOTE: All photos were taken by my phone.
Last Sunday we got up at 5am and got to the airport by 6:30. Kids were crabby and tired, and R was stressing me out by sighing audibly as we stood in line after line. He practically sprinted from the parking lot to the shuttle and from security through the terminal to the gate, leaving me and the kids gasping for breath in his wake.
I relied heavily on my trusty sidekick Xanax when we flew. And I'm really quite proud to say that the only Xanax moments of the entire week were both on the airplane, prior to takeoff (hope that disappointment doesn't prevent you from reading the rest of this post). I had packed each Ape their own backpack with their own snacks and distractions to minimize the amount of time each would spend nagging me for stuff. And it went well, the kids were great on the plane, and my parents met us at the car rental place where we picked up a Chevy Uplander.
Lemme just say that after having been spoiled by my Sexy Minivan, the Uplander was a piece of CRAP. In fairness, I don't usually sit in the back seat of the Odyssexy, but the seats were uncomfortable and while from the outside the Uplander looks like it would be wider, it's not. I hated riding in that thing. So did the kids, packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the bench seat.
And the worst part is that my dad - whom I love like crazy despite his countless quirks - for some reason has it in his head that repeatedly pumping the brakes does less damage to them than applying them gradually and steadily. It's SOOOO annoying.
It feels like a whole bunch of little bitty whiplashes in rapid succession. Almost like you're dry heaving. Normally, something has to really piss me off before I'll mention it (despite all evidence to the contrary in this blog), and I let it go until Wednesday. We'll get there, just stay with me.
Ok, so my parents picked us up and we went straight from the airport to the St. Patrick's Day festivities on the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is probably the biggest San Antonio tourist attraction apart from the Alamo. And so when I slipped and fell down the Riverwalk steps at Presa Street, the fact that it took place in front of a tour boat like this one (pic from two years ago) added insult to injury.
I totally fuckin bit it. And I'm sure with all those tourists and all their cameras, somebody had to get a picture of it. I may even show up on YouTube.
I'd been in town all of five fuckin minutes and I'd already made a complete ass of myself. And it HURT like bloody fuckin hell, too. And of course, then I had to walk all the way to the theater in La Villita in serious pain.
We watched the Irish dancers, walked around and looked at the shops, and went home. And at home we discovered that Southwest Airlines had destroyed not one, not two, but THREE of the four bags we checked. Fuckers.
Monday we went to visit my sister Wee and her husband Bubba in Austin. Wee had promised me a trip to Hill Country Weavers, which never materialized (Sorry Entrelac, Robincat, and Ceci), and in fact during the entire trip I spent about five minutes at Yarnivore, and that's all the yarn-luvvin I got. Sigh. But I digress.
We went to a thrift shop (where I got a Schlitz Malt Liquor t-shirt and a pair of kickass leather clogs) and a Half Price Books store, got dinner, and then my parents kept the kids at the hotel while R and I went to 6th Street with Bubba and Wee. It was great.
I drank a LOT. And I've decided that I really enjoy being drunk.
I'm a superfun drunk. I drunk dialed some people and probably professed my undying love for them, who knows? If I didn't drunk dial you and you'd like to receive a drunk dial from me the next time I'm sloppy, let me know and I'll add you to my Drunk Dial Rolodex.
We had a great time with Wee and Bubba. We'd never really gone out, just the four of us, and I don't know if I've talked about it much on here, but my sister and I have a kinda - I don't want to use the word strained, because that might imply that there was some specific reason why, but there's not - distant relationship.
We just have different lives. Hers is getting high pretty much every day. And if that's your thing, whatever, I'll never tell you it's wrong, you go right on ahead - it's just not my thing. But hanging out and remembering funny stuff from our childhood out loud together with our husbands was refreshing. Plus, I was fuckin trashed, so that was great.
Tuesday we got up (hangover-free, thank you very much) and went to the Bullock Museum of Texas History. That place was pretty interesting, but it would have been more enjoyable to me if I could have been free to study the exhibits without the kids darting around all over.
We went to a 3-D movie at the IMAX called Sea Monsters. That was kickass, but even more kickass was the preview we saw for U2 in 3D. AWESOME!!! It totally looked and felt like you were at the concert, right there in the crowd. And how hot is Bono? Come to think of it, the guy I dated right before I met R looked like The Edge. I wish R and I could have snuck out and seen that movie instead, but the Sea Monsters were cool and the kids liked it. After dinner and another Half Price Books store, we hit the road back to San Antonio.
Wednesday morning we got up and went to Fredericksburg, which used to be a cute little town, but is now a cheesy high-end tourist Mecca. There's a yarn shop there, but I didn't get to go there. We had a fantastic lunch, got chocolate croissants at my mom's favorite bakery, and then R and I stopped at this really fun general store, where I saw this:
Would you EVER, EVER buy unpackaged underwear from a bin in a General Store in Middleofnowhere, Texas? That display creeped me out so bad it made my skin crawl.
From there, we went to a place I'd heard about during the brief time I lived in San Antonio - Enchanted Rock. People used to talk about going there on dates, but of course Fred, the loser guy I was dating at the time, was a total chickenshit and said he'd never go there. I'll have to tell you all about him sometime. Fred's a chapter in my life that I'd just as soon forget, but I'm where I can look back and laugh now.
Anyway, about Enchanted Rock. It's this big giant rock. Elevation is like 1800 feet, I think. It's tough to climb, too, because it's like a dome and there aren't any places to really get a foothold. Coming down is worse, too. Beeb wore her stupid Crocs, despite my insistence that she wear something with more traction, so she, Tito and my parents didn't get very far. R, Pie and I continued. See the tiny little people in the background on the right? We're way up there!
I got pretty close to the summit, but I started feeling lightheaded and I couldn't feel my legs anymore. I was a little afraid I would fall to my death and it would wreck the whole vacation, so I stopped and waited for R and Pie.
My little Pie - who because of his birth defect has decreased lung capacity and almost no abdominal musculature, made it to the top with R. And he wasn't even breathing hard. He was so proud of himself! And R was so proud of him. I was too, but it made me feel like a total puss. The way I look at it, though, he has a lower center of gravity, so that's why he made it and I didn't. Yeah.
On the way home we stopped in Luckenbach, which is one of my favorite Texas attractions. It's a post office where they sell a bunch of Luckenbach paraphernalia. Really, that's it. So unpretentious. I love it.
After an entire day of winding Texas Hill Country backroads is when I finally mentioned to my dad that his brake-pumping, while it might be less wear and tear on the brakes (which I personally doubt, but for all I know he may be right), the wear and tear on his PASSENGERS might be something for him to consider.
Dad, seriously. I can feel my brain bumping against the inside of my skull.
Nope. He honestly thinks he's right. There's no talking to him. He pumps them all the time, not just when he's pulling into a parking space and tapping them about nine times before he finally puts it into PARK. Middle of the highway, no reason to slow down, doesn't matter - when you least expect it, it's like somebody kicks you in the spine. Over and over.
Dad, it's a RENTAL.
After that, we had dinner at another of my favorite Texas attractions - Rudy's BBQ. If you ever go to San Antonio, you simply MUST experience it.
I wanted to buy a big ass bottle of their awesome sauce to bring home, but after Southwest totally mangled three of our bags, I thought we'd go for the smaller size. Plus we got a meat rub. I giggle when I hear the words Meat Rub. Not as funny as Instant Diarrhea or Baby Jesus Buttplug, but it still cracks me up. I swear, sometimes I have the sense of humor of a 9-year-old boy. But you bitches love that about me and you know it.
Thursday we got up and, after a quick stop at Yarnivore to see if they had the kind of row marker I wanted (oooh, and one quick thing about Yarnivore - they have an actual penny karma dish by the register!!), we hopped on the road to Corpus. Why Corpus? Because the kids wanted to swim in the ocean. And they did.
Remember how much I love bridges?
The water was maybe 59 degrees. The air was maybe 65, and it was really windy. I wore a jacket and capri-length jeans, and I was freezing my proverbial balls off as I watched my idiot children frolicking in the waves.
I didn't want to wear my regular jeans to the beach because apparently I'm shorter than every other girl in the world with an ass the size of mine, so all the jeans that fit my ass are really long on me. I thought they'd get wet if I decided to dip my toes in the water (of course, when I got dressed that morning, I had no idea how ass-chillin cold that water would be), and I didn't want to ride home in wet jeans.
As it turned out, however, I wish I had opted for the longer jeans, because when I got home I discovered that I had gotten sunburned from ankle to just below mid-calf on both of my legs (which are normally a color associated with Elizabethan royalty), when I put shorts on, it looked like I was wearing pink socks with my Pink Crocs.
Note the scab on the knee from when I went arse over tit at the Riverwalk.
Hella Fuckin Sexy, y'all. I think I'm gonna go ahead and officially change my name to Hella F. Sexy. Gettin' it on my driver's license and everything.
So the kids rode back to the hotel from the beach in their swimsuits and got in the hotel's outdoor pool as soon as we got there. Their lips were blue when we went to Chik Fil A for dinner and to yet another Half Price Books. R and I watched a Kathy Griffin standup show on Bravo and went to sleep.
Friday morning after a breakfast you can only get in Texas,
we went into downtown Corpus Christi with the intention of touring the USS Lexington Aircraft Carrier. But when we saw that for R, the Apes and I to get on would have cost us $50, I opted to just wait on the beach with whichever Ape didn't want to go. They all chose to hang with R. Whatever, fine with me.
My hair was blowing in my face and it was pissing me off, so I decided to go see if I could find a ponytail holder in one of the Spring Break tourist trap shops within a beer-bottle's throw of the beach.
Here's the beach, and here's the front door of the store I went in.
I never went to Spring Break when I was younger. I never really wanted to, I couldn't afford to pay for it myself and I knew there was no way my parents would let me. And I think you know you're a grownup when you realize your parents were right about something.
This store had all kinds of things to make your Spring Break memorable. Cuz I'm sure you'll always remember the time you spent your bus fare on this sexy banner to hang off your balcony and score all kinds of hot chicks with low standards.
They had Corona beach towels for $60 and baseball caps for $30, Mardi Gras beads with plastic penises and pot leaves on them for $10, shot glasses, sunglasses, sandals and an entire wall covered floor to ceiling with bikinis. Really, what more do you need?
I do not now, nor have I ever, had a bikini-worthy body. If I did, I'd fuckin wear the Princess Leia Jabba's Palace bikini everywhere I went. While I looked at the Wall O' Bikinis, it did occur to me to try on the Texas Flag bikini and snap a pic of it in the dressing room, just to be funny, but then I thought of all the drunk skanks whose rotten twats had been in those bikinis before me and I thought better of it. Like R would believe I caught crabs from trying on a bikini in Corpus.
So eventually I found a pack of ponytail holders (for $5), put up my errant tresses and walked back to a bench on the beach. I hadn't been there but a few minutes when I was approached by an elderly man carrying a portfolio and wearing a nametag that said J.D. Byars.
Suddenly I was keenly aware of the fact that I was wearing a very low-cut top and the wind was blowing it open a little.
He sat down beside me and asked if I liked poetry.
He handed me a small paperback book called Dusty Memories and offered to show me a poem he had written that won Best Poem In the World in 1987. He recited it from memory as I read along. And it really was a fantastic poem with beautiful imagery. I asked him what inspired him to write it. And he said he wrote it when he first joined the Navy four years before the beginning of World War II.
He was 16 when he enlisted, but he told them he was 17 so he could join. And then when the war started, he feared that if he were to die, he would leave nothing behind. At that time he wasn't married, had no children, just a brother who also enlisted. And he started writing poems just so the world would remember him when he was gone. That spoke to my heart.
So I sat with him for a while while he read me more of his poems. One, he told me, he had written from the perspective of a new recruit, which according to him depicted what goes through every new recruit's mind - the possibility that they could very well die. The poem he wrote is engraved on the wall of a marine training facility building in San Diego, and he was very proud of that.
I wished I'd had ten bucks on me to buy his book, not out of pity, but because I really liked what I'd read and I thought he was such an interesting person. He and I went on talking about his life. He'd made a decent living as a stand-up comedian in Vegas until Phyllis Diller's opening act called in sick and he was asked to replace him.
He killed. He did eight minutes of original material and the crowd went nuts. And afterwards, he went backstage thinking he'd get a pat on the back, and the theatre manager said, "Son, are you stupid? You NEVER be better than the boss!" So he got fired for being funnier than Phyllis Diller.
Right now he's 88, his wife of 61 years (Mamie) died four years ago, and he lives all alone. He bought the house next door to the one that he lives in so that his only son can be near him and not in an institution. His son is, as he put it, a mentally deranged, manic depressive paranoid schizophrenic who doesn't really speak to him at all. His son can't hold a job, can't maintain any sort of relationships, and this 88 year old man is taking care of him by peddling his book on the beach. He was so sweet and so surprisingly not sad, despite all the sad things he was telling me.
I said something to the effect of, "That must be really difficult, to have to take care of your son who doesn't even say thank you for all you do for him." And what he said in response, I swear, will stay with me forever.
He said, "Well, I always say, everybody's carryin' their own sack'a rocks."
I think he meant that everyone goes through life with their own personal burdens, and everyone's are different. And no matter how perfect you might think someone else's life is, they're carrying their own sack'a rocks too. No matter how different we think we are from one another, we've all got that in common. Nobody's life is without struggle.
My sack of rocks contains, among other things, the FIL from hell; my inability to manage money; and the fact that I'm too short for my own ass.
I'm making light of it, sure, but I thought it what he said was pithy and profound in its simplicity. I must have sat with him for close to an hour, during which time my mom and dad came up and listened to him too, and after he had walked away we all agreed that he was a absolutely fascinating person.
So now that I've told you about him, I'll give you the link to his YouTube clips. I was so happy to find this first one. The second is his standup, and it's kinda hard to hear, but if you've got 10 minutes, watch this first one. He reads the poems I refered to and explains them.
And if you're interested in his poetry, I found some of it online:
Check it out HERE.
So from the Lex we drove three hours back to San Antonio, and that night R and the kids and I went to visit our friends Joe and Arlene. Joe and Arlene have an absolutely adorable daughter named Jolene. R used to work for Joe. Joe's awesome. And Arlene's awesome too. And their little girl, sweet lord, cutest thing you ever saw.
Joe used to be a wild man. He had great stories. Now he's a dad. And his best story that night was about the time his Lincoln Navigator got keyed and he took it to his regular car guy, who he's been going to for the last several years, to get it fixed. The guy refused.
Joe said he told the guy he was going to pay him to fix it, and still the guy said he wasn't going to do it. Joe couldn't believe it, so he asked the guy why not.
Joe, he said, you're about to be a dad. And I think it's time you learned something:
Sometimes, ya just gotta live with yer shit broke.
Parenthood has changed Joe. In a good way.
I loved that story. And it was a great evening. We don't really do stuff with other couples much. We don't have many couple friends. The kids were well-behaved and polite and I was so proud. Really, the kids were awesome all week.
Saturday was a quiet day at home. Really, it was the only day we actually spent all of in San Antonio. R and I got our Taco Cabana fix, and we all went to North Star Mall, where I used to work. I worked at The Body Shop, Victoria's Secret, and The Gap while I lived there. I loved retail. Kinda sucked that I had a college degree and was making ten bucks an hour, but I met some reeeeally interesting people working retail.
My kids love their Crocs, and every year my parents get each of them a new pair. This time Beeb got some cute pink Mary Jane's, Pie got some clogs that were a really cool Sherwood Forest green, and Tito picked clogs that were BRIGHT FREAKIN YELLOW. Like, don't look directly at them, cornea-singeing yellow.
People were pointing and giggling as we walked by them. I thought it was hilarious. If anybody's going to wear bright yellow Crocs, it's a five-year-old little boy named Tito.
We spent most of the day packing and just chilling with the folks. Sunday we got up early and went to 8am Easter Mass, which was followed by breakfast and a pinata for the little kids. Then Wee and Bubba came over for brisket and a hard-core Egg Hunt for the Big Kids with $20 bills in the eggs. My parents are kickass.
So Sunday at about 2 we left for the airport, our plane scheduled to depart at 4:40. This time I told R straight out, I can only move as fast as the slowest Ape, so he wouldn't leave me in the dust. We got through check-in and security really quickly, and sat down to wait at the gate. Then came the announcement that our plane would be delayed an hour, which meant our connection in Houston was gonna be fucked.
As it turned out, they told us they'd hold the plane for us in Houston, if we promised to hurry. After we landed in Houston, R grabbed Tito like a football and ran like OJ, while I lugged three suitcases. We totally hauled ass a la The Amazing Race through Hobby Airport. Classic.
We finally made it into St. Louis at about 9pm. When we'd left Texas it was 75 degrees there. As the plane landed, we could see snowflakes flying over the wings. Welcome home.
I'll give you all a chance to catch up before I post what's happened in the few days since I started typing this. Because Monday was rather memorable too.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
NOTE: All photos were taken by my phone.