Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm only mostly dead

Which means, of course, that I am still a little bit alive.
So do not go through my clothes, looking for loose change.

See, you haven't heard from me, but I've been busy, battling the influenza. For nearly two weeks. Whatever I had in my life before and called the flu, wasn't this. This was no getting out of bed for 11 days, with a chaser of sinus and ear infection, and something I can only describe as adult onset asthma. In my spare time, I've been doing a little light reading on the Spanish flu of 1918. (Because I really like disease histories, especially if I am stricken with the disease.) More than half of the millions and millions who died between 1918-1920 from the flu, probably died from pneumonia and other secondary infections that could have been cured by antibiotics.

I love antibiotics. Even more than contact lenses. And that is saying a lot.

Sadly, my dreams of Olympic gold in London this summer have been shattered (cuz now I'm on the 'roids.) But I love the steroids, too. Because I really enjoy breathing.

The highlight of the last two weeks? Sunday nights in bed with Downton Abbey, on Percocet left over from Joey's birth, plus three Advil. I could escape the body aches for a few hours, even though I was worried I would become a drug fiend (I didn't).

Another casualty of the flu: my favorite bra. I neglect her for a couple weeks, and she disappears. So now I have to wear the ones that ride up my back, or have the too-stretchy straps.

And as for flu shots: I am now a zealous convert.  Jake got his, slept next to my hacking, feverish, infected self and is still perfectly well. I only hated him a little bit. Mostly I loved him, cuz he kept doing the dishes and taking care of the children I was neglecting.

Also, in the midst of my pain, my eldest child turned 13. Which makes me an anciently old woman. Luckily, he is pretty much the best kid ever. One consolation for getting old is that you get to see your kids turn into really cool people that you want to hang out with and take to Benihana.

Friday, January 06, 2012

I forgot school started. Plus, photos of Pompeii and Venice, to cheer me up.


So I was thinking about starting my diet on Tuesday, but then I got a call from the big kids' school. They wanted to know why Ross and Jane weren't there in class, with the rest of the children. 

That's real, folks. I'm not making it up. We forgot to come back from Christmas break.

They were only like 3.5 hours late. 
Both of them were mildly ill.
Jane might have cried all the way there.
It was moderately stressful.

On the way home, I took the three remaining kids to Sam's Club, where I forgot to remember the diet I was supposed to be starting, I had a hot dog with mustard, onions, relish, and kraut. And some of Tommy's blue Icee. And a soft pretzel. I felt better.

So anyway, all this made me remember that I'm not very good at remembering things. And that I've gained 10 pounds since the above photo was taken 3 months ago. In Pompeii.

So now I'm thinking how it would be nice to be skinny(er) and in Italy again. I think I shall relive those heady days, while I eat some of Jake's leftover birthday cake. You should come along.

Jake at the bakery. They didn't have any doughnuts.

So, Pompeii was really fantastic. Before we left, I spent days researching how we should get there and how long to stay. It would have been better to stay in Sorrento and spend a few nights checking out ruins and the Amalfi coast. But we didn't have the time. So I easily spent thrice as long researching as I actually spent visiting Pompeii. Because it seemed like a day trip that could go terribly wrong.

We took the Eurostar train from Rome to Naples. It is more expensive, but faster, and more comfortable. Then, at the Naples train station, we got a taxi who would take us to Pompeii, wait for a few hours, then bring us back to Naples. (If you want to go cheaper, go downstairs in the station and take the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. It costs like 3 euros each way, stops approximately 30 times, and you'll likely lose your wallet, but Jen says it's no worse than the NYC subway. Except that there are entertainers on board who play toy keyboards horribly, right in your ear, and won't stop until you pay them to leave. So you'll need to allow room for that in your budget.) (Jason has never been on the subway, and he was mildly traumatized.)

Mom and Dad

Inside Pompeii, we just used the free Rick Steves audio guide we'd downloaded at home, and bought a cool book inside the bookstore with info and plastic overlays to tell us about each house. It was like 12 euro, and we gave it to the kids when we got home, after I removed the kama sutra-style brothel art frescoes. Plus a couple others. Pompeiians had a funny idea of what made good family room art. (I tucked all my censorious bits (and by bits I mean oversized phalluses) under Jake's pillow, to creep him out.) I think what we did would be fine for 98% of all tourists. But my Dad says he wishes we'd had our own guide and stayed longer than two hours. Maybe next time. I was happy with our taxi chauffeur. He was the nicest driver we had in Italy. 

Back in Naples, we had him drop us off at the famous Da Michele pizzeria. It is supposed to be the best in Naples, which is the best in Italy. I'd read about it in Rick Steves and Eat, Pray, Love. Apparently everyone else had heard about it, too: There were more than 100 people in line. We went across the street to Pizzeria Trianon. It was delicious. Maybe my favorite meal we had in Italy. The sauce was unbelievable. The crust was unbelievable. The line was unbelievable: there wasn't any.

After lunch, we headed to the Archeological Museum. All the best art and artifacts they dug out of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the 1800s was brought here by the Naples' king. And now they reside in the museum that time forgot. It is amazing how these priceless items are just open to the elements (there were windows open and it was raining outside), how the displays have faded typewritten cards and dust inside them. I guess in a country full of treasures, there just isn't enough money to go around. But dust bunnies and all, you can't get a real feel for how life looked in Pompeii, without seeing these incredible mosaics, frescoes, metal and glassware.)

From there we headed back to the train station and hopped a Eurostar back to Termini in Rome. Our taxi driver apologized for all the traffic; but, he told us, there have been many manifestations today. (We think he meant government protesters, and not angelic visitors, but who knows?)

The next morning we hopped the train for Venice.

That's me and my backpack and Jake getting our first glimpse of Venice. We got on a vaporetto bound for St. Mark's Square, where our hotel had a free water shuttle out to the Isola di San Clemente.

The hotel was gorgeous, the service wanting. It was fab if you don't want them to feed you at 3:00 p.m., which they will not, under any circumstances, do. It doesn't matter how hungry you are. Although the concierge was nice. I didn't mind staying outside town a little, either. The boat ride to and from the island was relaxing and made me feel like a fancy-lady. I'd recommend San Clemente Palace Hotel, if you can get as great a deal as we did (off season). It doesn't say this anywhere in the literature, but the hotel was an insane asylum for hundreds of years, and became this HUGE fancy resort hotel only recently. So that's mildly creepy. But if, like me, you don't watch horror movies, you'll be okay.

Doge's Palace
St. Mark's Cathedral. Jake and I never got inside. We slept in. Turns out, insane asylums are very restful and quiet.
On a water taxi, headed to Ca' Rezzonico, a grand canal palazzo turned museum of 18th century Venice

See the table I'm parked on? They make those into a walkway, so tourists don't have to wade through a water-logged St. Mark's square during high tide.

Picnicking. Salami, cheese, fresh basil and oregano, and fluffy bread. Focaccia, maybe?

Outside the best gelato place in Venice.

See the top floor? Synagogue.
We spent an afternoon in the Jewish ghetto (world's first ghetto. Or maybe first place in the world to be called a ghetto). Took a fascinating tour of 4 synagogues. You should go, because it looks like they will fall down at any moment. Boys: they've got lender kippot (yarmulkes) if you don't bring your own.

The ghetto had a big square, which held a big market. If you'd been here about 1500, you could have procured some nice used clothing, full of plague infested lice.
Rialto bridge, on Jake's way out of town. Only like two boats, eight trains, a stroll with a kind and helpful housekeeper on mainland Venice, a wild west-style overnight train with a layover with some petty thieves in Bologna (that's pronounced Baloney, I'm pretty sure), some new Turkish lady friends to protect, two buses, a taxi, two airplanes and 30 hours later, he was home in the warm (100 degrees in October) bosom of Gilbert. And I was in Florence.

Did your kids start school?
Did you forget to take them?
Did you try to start a diet?
Is it working?
Do you have another resolution?
I might need some alternative ideas

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Eve: blogging live from my bed

4:00 This afternoon. Payson Wal-mart with Jake, Joey and Tom to buy junk food and weenie baby pajamas covered in puffy squirrels and monster trucks, since we forgot the bag with all of Joe's clothes at home. I count 11 men with beards 1 foot or longer, 7 of them carrying cases of beer.

5:00 feast begins. Includes chips (both potato and corn), four different sorts of dips, little smokies in BBQ sauce, tiny bagel pizzas and baby quiches (from boxes), fizzy grape juice (red kind), blood orange pop, and bananas for the baby. Who is not really a baby, at 21 months and abnormally large at that, but shhhhhhh. Let's not not speak of it. Is a holiday.

6:00 cards with children. Jake won't play cuz he is reading new Tom Clancy book called Locked On. Try to teach them gin, but sam is trying to multitask. He is kicked out of the game for making duct tape wallets and forgetting rules and his turn. Jane gets frustrated and crabby, and quits soon after. Ross stays on and even lets me try to shoot the moon (we'd moved on to hearts. We always do).

7:00 Joey puts the year to bed early. Jake goes back to Wal-mart to get 9-volt batteries so the smoke alarm won't harass us all the night long. He returns and climbs giant ladder onto dangerous ledge 15 feet in air to replace battery. Changes light bulb while at it.

8:00 children begin to complain of unwell bellies. Tommy writhes around on my bed in his new striped underpants until I get him a bowl to carry around. Apparently they cannot handle their junk food.

9:00 brownie sundaes. Tommy rallied and begged, but was denied. All others begged off voluntarily. Some of them made ramen. Gross.

10:00 tub. With jojoba bath salts and my iPad in a gallon sized ziploc. Re-reading Before Ever After to see if it's appropriate for book club. Can't remember if I skipped over something super-yuck the first time around. It's such an interesting combination of fascinating and not-so-well written. Sort of sucked me in like Twilight (I'm not proud of it, but there it is) but more interesting plot and not as much sexual tension.

11:00 salted caramel hot chocolate. I'm not hungry but I must push through. Coldplay Austin City Limits New Year's show on PBS. It is so good. I love it so much. And all the people in the audience are old and two of the ladies have my same polka-spotted Kate Spade iPhone cover and they are recording Chris Martin while he sings The Scientist. And between the geriatrics and the PBS and how they keep showing Downton Abbey previews, I think I must be old too, and boy do they have my number, those public TV gurus. And I also remember seeing Ke$ha (or however you spell it) on the Ryan Seacrast show last year, and being horrified in the manner of an elderly grandmother, actually saying something like "is this REALLY what the kids are listenng to these days?"

Tickets for Coldplay's Hollywood Bowl shows go on sale next Wednesday. Anybody else coming?

11:35 Jake informs me that South Carlsbad state beach now has free wifi. Who thought they could make San Diego even better? Now they are just showing off.

11:47 us Against the world. Best song on new album.

11:52 okay so now it's time to go get the traditional fizzy white grape juice in the ceramic mugs and welcome a new year. Jake doesn't want to go cuz he's looking at campsites on the beach with the wifi, but I told him he'd better get some cocktails and get back in and kiss me quick.

Jake is currently wearing his "California: you can't afford it" t-shirt, which I find humorous.

11:55 almost there.

Sayonara, 2011.
Aloha, 2012.

12:00 Happy New Year, everybody.
Goodnight from under the duvet.