Sunday, November 16, 2008

‘Tis the Season to Prioritize

Fire season is upon us once again in Southern California. While Montecito and Yorba Linda go up in flames, San Diegans brace for another one. Years of little rain make the land brittle and ripe. A casual cigarette tossed from a window is all it takes for the Santa Ana winds to have their way with us.

If you haven’t lived through the massive blaze and ensuing evacuation of entire cities, it is surreal from your TV set. There is no way to fully grasp the fear it instills in you.

On the ground, nothing is certain. Streets and freeways are blocked off leaving many desperately searching for a way out. The fire weaves an unpredictable path through neighborhoods leaving some houses unscathed, others leveled.

The aftermath is like something from an Armageddon movie. For days, you’re lost in a dry gray fog. Ash rains down and masks are worn for safety. Schools and businesses close. The mail goes undelivered.
Bustling cities become barren ghost towns. Some families come home to celebrate their good fortune alongside families in ruins.

Our first experience with fire was five years ago. We awoke at 2:30 a.m. to pounding on our front door. It was our neighbor warning us that we had only seconds to get out. Fire trucks were racing by. Out our front window, the blaze engulfing 11 homes on the next street was four stories high and edging closer.

I shook my kids awake along with their two friends who were sleeping over, or so they thought. There was no preparation for this. There was no time to grab clothes or items of sentimental value or even food.

I reached for the one necessity: my son’s insulin kit. We piled into the two cars and suddenly it hit me. I had forgotten something very important.

“Hold on!” I yelled to my husband.

“We need to GO!” he yelled back, the car running.

I dashed in and put on my bra like a good Bostonian girl. The thought of bouncing around at time like this was unimaginable.

“What were you DOING in there?” he shouted as I came back with nothing in hand.

“I needed to get a BRA on!” I called to him.

“WHY!!!???” he cried.

“High beams!” I replied.

We all have our priorities in life. The next fire (in 2007), I was prepared. Bags were packed (fully stocked with Maidenform, I might add) as we saw the red line spreading across the mountain’s edge, knowing the fire was headed our way. Videos were taken for insurance purposes. Photos and family movies were in the trunk along with teddy bears and laptops and tax records.

Each time, we drove away taking one final look at our home knowing it might be the last time we saw it. What hits you in moments like this is an odd perception of two opposing ideas: the possibility of devastating loss and ultimate freedom.

The thought that you could lose your home and every detail of your life in a matter of minutes summons up the sadness associated with a death contrasted by a strange sense of freedom. To be unencumbered, almost “cleansed” of all the trappings of your life, is a feeling of rebirth. You take notice of all that you hold dear: your family, your friends, your life. Everything else is replaceable.

Well, except for a good bra.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Simple Plan

My husband is an excellent sleeper. I, on the other hand, have sleep envy. Don wouldn’t wake up if you stuck an apple in his mouth and put him on a spit over a roaring fire.

You could fold him into a Fed-Ex box and ship him to South America. He’d wake up two days later, unpack himself, grab a burrito and look around for a good place to take a nap.

He has only seen the first ten minutes of most of the movies that have been made in the last decade. Unless, of course, the movie was about things blowing up or hot chicks. But that’s a subject for another day.

My sleeping patterns have deteriorated since I had kids. I think I hear them yelling my name when they’re fast asleep. All night long, I hear every coyote wail and dog yip within a five mile radius. As the ice-maker clunks in the kitchen and my coffee maker spits out water randomly, a jolt of fear courses through me. I’m suddenly convinced we need to do an exorcism on the house.

So I sat down one day and devised a simple plan to tackle my sleep issues once and for all.

Step 1: Buy a sound machine.

I bought one with 25 different sounds to block out the 25 different sounds I am subjected to all night long. No doubt, some of them could put you in a mental institution. Here are just a few that made me want to suck up someone with my vacuum cleaner:

* Rainforest. It’s for those of you who love the mellow repetitive soun
ds of crickets bleeping and frogs croaking “ribbit” all night long. Just kill me now.

* City. I’m sure there’s a huge demographic of mutants who can’t doze off to anything but the sweet sounds of honking horns, screeching brakes and people getting arrested. If that's you, lose my number.

* Ocean Waves. Not quite the beach I remember. It sounds more like my drunk neighbor crashing through the glass door thinking he’s at his house.

* Tugboats. Are you friggin kidding me? Can’t you just picture the dork session for this one?

Verle: Hey Norbert, we need one more sound for the machine.

Norbert: Ya, Verle. I’ve been mulling it over. When I was a kid my granny used to rock me to sleep to the sound of my grandaddy’s chain saw. I get all choked up now when I hear one.

Verle: You might be onto something. But for me to really cut some Z’s, I need me some tugboat. There’s nothing like a 10-ton vessel giving off a sonic boom to give me that float-away feeling.

Norbert (having a total geekasm): Now that is genius! This thing is going to FLY off the shelves.

Conclusion: I’m sticking to Rain, volume 7. No deviation.

Step 2: Legs can’t touch.

Long pants are a necessity, preferably cotton due to San Diego’s temperate climate. Flannel and velour are on hand in the event of a sudden glacier.

Between the legs (as the second line of defense) is a strap-on pillow (yes, it’s velcroed to my leg to ensure that the knees never knock. Ever. It’s a bit unwieldy when rolling from side to side – making sure it stays in place and that the pants don’t bunch. But well worth the effort. My husband says my flipping ordeal pulls the covers off him. I told him, “Oh, it’s all about you, you, you.”

Step 3: Arms must be at least slightly covered.

Never a tank or a spaghetti strap (I’m from Boston. Only “those girls” wear tank tops. I think you know who you are). Short sleeve t-shirt in the summer, preferably a men’s XXXLLL, mid-sleeve T in the fall (same size) and a zip-up fleece parka in the winter. I usually go for fuchsia because I’m always bringing the sexy back.

Step 4: Eye Mask.

Lately I’m blinded by darkness. I cannot sleep without a mask. And not just any mask. It has to be made of satin or cotton so that it will stay cool. And they must have the little pads right under your eyes to prevent any extra darkness from seeping in. If, God forbid, my mask finds its way to an unknown location, it’s all-night infomercial bonanza for me. By morning, I’ve bought myself a Ped Egg, a Bedazzler, Dr. Ho’s Muscle Massager, the Ab Rocker, the Steam Buggy, some Mighty Putty and the Rejuvenique Electrified Hockey Mask Facial Toner.

Step 5: Essential Oils.

Due to unusually small nostrils, I require eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils to be placed two dabs per nostril and two on my neck and chest for proper breathing technique.

Step 6: Mouth Guard.

And as mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I am a biter. I clench my teeth and chomp all night sort of the way my German shepherd use to bite the air when she saw a fly. I finally bought myself one of those fabulous mouth guards. It works great but unfortunately, turns all my “s” words into “sh” words.

My husband tried to tickle me one night and I said, “Shop that!”

He said, “What do you mean, shop?”

I said, “Go to shleep.”

He said, “You go to shleep.”

Step 7: Roll pillow.

After purchasing 17 dud pillows that either put me in a neck brace or gave me nightmares, I have discovered the bomb of the pillow community: Latex, people. And we’re not talking the NASA hard-as-my-banana-bread memory loaf. This is soft! This is bouncy! It’s mini trampoline for your head! I roll it at one end and put the roll at the back of my neck.

Step 8: Knees Up.

I begin with ten minutes on my back with my knees up. I’ve been doing this since high school, right around the time when I allowed portly cheerleaders to use my back as a launch pad. Hey, so what if I have permanent nerve damage, the important thing is we had so much spirit!

Step 9: Hands on hip bones.

For most of my life I’ve slept with my hands folded on my stomach. My mother used to say, “You look like a corpse in a casket when you sleep. It’s so cute!”

Nowadays the weight of my folded hands feels like a piano crushing my ribs. Therefore, I strategically place each hand on my hip bones to prevent the crushing.

Step 10: Declare a No Spoon Zone.

My husband knows not to ever venture past the midline of the bed to spoon at any time. That’s the law. I told him it’s not that I don’t feel real love for him on some occasions but that the intense heat from his body scorches my back and the weight of his arm shuts off my central nervous system.

When my simple plan is in place, I toss to the right, yank the covers off my husband and drift off to a warm and woozy place.

Now that was easy.