Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Warm Escape On Winter Break

Aside from college and law school visits, we hadn't gone on a family vacation in over five years, so we were looking forward to relaxing in Nuevo Vallarta. We arrived early at the airport in anticipation of holiday crowds. While we were going through security, we removed our shoes and belts and placed them in the baskets on the conveyor belt. My husband and my two sons added their phones and wallets next to my purse. As they were putting their shoes back on, I grabbed my husband's phone and wallet before I left the line. Shortly after, he realized his belt was missing.

We went back in line to check with security, but there was no sign of his belt. Hubby hadn't packed a spare, and I feared that his Dunlap's Disease would cause his pants to "done lap" down to his ankles. Fortunately, we found him a replacement at an airport kiosk. For the low price of $12.99, he was able to keep his pants on without losing his shirt, not to mention his new love of pleather.

This was the first time that we traveled to a warm climate in the winter, since our boys started grammar school. The few times that we did get away were for ski trips when they were very young. I was thrilled not to worry about skiing into a tree, but with this trip came other worries. Death by food poisoning, sun poisoning or gunfire were at the top of the list. We were armed with Hepatitis A vaccines, 45+ sunscreen, and we didn't venture too far from the resort.

We stayed at an all inclusive resort that provided unlimited food and drink including a fully stocked bar in each room. This was our first trip where my 20 year old son could drink legally, fortunately, he had his older brother and roommate with him, so I knew they would look out for each other.

By day we would play volleyball in the pool or at the beach. One day my younger son went parasailing right on the beach. The Three Amigos also went zip-lining, and swimming with the dolphins. The weather was always sunny and between 80 - 82 degrees, which was perfect for long walks on the beach.

We took a taxi to the Old City in Puerto Vallarta to have dinner and walk along the boardwalk. There were flea markets, performers, restaurants, and clubs with all of the glitz of a mini floating Las Vegas. We walked along cobblestone streets that felt like we were transported back in time.

Though I'm not supposed to spend a lot of time in the sun, I was hoping to get some color. I ended up with red blotches in the corner of my nose, between my upper lip and the tip of my nose, and a red streak on my collarbone . To even things out, I contracted pink eye. This occurred on the day before we left, so I couldn't join the family in the pool, but hubby and I still took one long last walk on the beach together, while the boys played basketball.

On our last night, we dined at an Asian restaurant at the resort. Toward the end of dinner, our younger son loudly let out an inappropriate word. While I was reprimanding him, I noticed blood was trickling down his nose. Then we noticed the weapon lying on the table. Several feet away, a piece of a broken dish somehow flew into the air, and landed in between my boy's nose and upper lip; around the same location as my now peeling sunburn. Within seconds, the waiter came over with napkins, and an alcohol swab to stop the bleeding. Shortly after the host, manager and security medic arrived on the scene. He was examined, and bandaged in time for dessert. Apologies were given in Spanish and in English. Then we adjourned to another location to play cards, before they went off with their new friends.

We left Nuevo Vallarta relatively unharmed substituting gunfire for porcelain pellets, and conjunctivitis for hepatitis.  Our boys didn't seem to mind spending time with us, and were very appreciative. We arrived home on Christmas Eve, which was also the fifth night of Hanukkah. Our greatest gift was the satisfaction in knowing that we really like the young men our sons have become. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Day of the Do-Over: What If Your Teenage Son Wanted To Work At A Bank As A Donor?

DL Hammons, Nicole Ducleroir, Lydia Kang, and Katie Mills are hosting the Deja Vu Blogfest
where writers are asked to "re-post their favorite blog offering, or one that never received the exposure it should have." Be sure to check out  the list of entertaining entries who are getting into the holiday spirit by highlighting their favorite repeats.

My story was written last February, a little over a month after Empty Nest Insider began. Thanks to DL, Nicole, Lydia, and Katie, for inspiring me to dust it off.

What If  Your Teenage Son Wanted To Work At A Bank As A Donor?

Over the weekend we were trying to find a good movie, and came across a review for The Kids Are All Right; a story about a lesbian couple's teenage children who decide to find their biological father. Though one of the leads, Annette Bening is up for an Oscar for best actress, the movie wasn't playing in any theaters, but a slightly different version started playing in my imagination. My story takes place before the children in the movie were conceived. Think of it as a prequel to The Kids Are All Right from a mother's perspective.

The story begins when 19 year old  Paul arrives home from college for spring break. He is filled with angst as he is dreading spending his vacation with his family instead of being crammed in a crummy hotel room with 8 of his buddies at a rundown beach resort. Though he is incredibly angry, he is blessed with thick, wavy brown hair and looks like a young Mark Ruffalo (the biological father in the movie). Then his mother, brilliantly portrayed by Susan Sarandon (only because she must be kicking herself for not getting the award winning role of the mother in The Fighter) walks into his room and tells him to stop sulking and start looking for a summer job before all the good ones are snatched up. After a series of failed interviews at various establishments around town, he decides to embark on another career.

The next day young Paul sees an ad that offers a way to earn easy money while still being able to stay out all night and sleep until the middle of the afternoon. After filling out a detailed family history, going on an extensive interview, and submitting samples of his work, he would find out if he was a candidate for the job.  His mother was quite excited that her lazy son was suddenly so enthusiastic about finding employment until she comes across one of his work samples in the refrigerator.

When she asks him about what's in the container, he explains that the bank does drug tests on all of their employees. Then she smiles at the thought of her son working at a bank, but realizes that he has no experience and wouldn't be working bankers' hours. When she questions him, he tells her that he is applying for a special internship where he would be working from home and would just drop off deposits every once in a while. After he leaves for his interview, she starts rummaging through his things when she sees the ad for the sperm bank buried under a huge pile of dirty laundry.

The next scene is Black Swan meets Diary of a Mad Housewife when the mother is screaming madly, yet dancing divinely around the house looking for clues to why her son would do this to her. She is dancing on her tippy toes to avoid stepping in any remnants of work samples. Flashbacks of Paul's innocent childhood appear on the screen. All the years she spent yelling at him for forgetting his homework and spilling food all over the kitchen floor; reminding him to wash his hands after he went to the bathroom, a week before he graduated from high school. His mother remembers that even as a little boy, Paul loved to take over the house scattering little pieces everywhere he went. Suddenly, she springs up on the table like a cat, wondering if there was any safe surface in the house that wasn't turned into a science lab.

Later when Paul returns home from his physical/interview, his mom takes another swig of cooking sherry and calmly asks him to sit down. She unties her apron, gently wipes the kitchen chair off with a rag before she tosses it into the fireplace and joins him for a meaningful discussion. Careful to mind her tone, she inquires if they mentioned anything about providing a company car as her chassis is prone to bumps. She also tells him that she found out that several of the bank employees were coming down with carpal tunnel syndrome and it would behoove him to find something less debilitating that he could put on his resume.

Then he smiles and says that they told him to apply again after he graduates from college. Tears of joy stream down his mother's face as she asks, "Why don't you seem disappointed?"  Then he replies, "I decided I wasn't interested after they told me I'd have to give up alcohol." With that his mother puts her dishwashing gloves back on, and gives her boy a big, warm hug.  Fade to black.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blogging From A to Z Challenge and Latest Awards

 Arlee Bird is preparing for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge by revisiting some of our Reflections from 2011. I am honored that he has asked me to lead off the December celebration today. Please stop by to collect your 2012 badge skillfully designed by Ada Z.

A special Christmas A to Z post by the talented Hilary Melton-Butcher will be featured on Tuesday. We are all looking forward to the upcoming challenge which promises to be even more exciting than last year's event, that introduced us to more than 1000 bloggers from around the world.

Now I'd like to thank some wonderful bloggers who have been generous enough to pass along some awards to me. A long overdue thank you goes to Carol Kilgore at Under The Tiki Hut for bestowing me with The Versatile Blogger Award. Carol has proven to be an ideal recipient, as she hosts guest bloggers, writes prompts, and is known for her Friday's Top Ten lists.

Melissa Bradley at Melissa's Imaginarium shared the One Lovely Blog Award.

Melissa's writing is always thrilling and she is never afraid to push the envelope. She is even nominated at the 411 Movie Awards for Sexiest Female Author. There is still time to place your votes at  The Movie 411 Blog Awards 2011.

Last but not least,  Beth at Word Nerd Speaks anointed me with this award.

Beth did a wonderful job revealing 7 fascinating facts about herself, and I highly encourage you to visit her blog. Sadly, I'm not that fascinating, and many of my stories detail accounts of my everyday life. So in the spirit of the holidays, I bring you peace and joy. Feel free to visit all of these fabulous blogs, and if you would like any of these awards, please take them with good tidings.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Still Struggling

Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting the 4th installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to catch up with all  of the amazing bloggers who share their stories on the first Wednesday of each month. 

Still Struggling

She runs into his arms sobbing, "The letter came today, and they rejected my manuscript. This was the 15th publisher who turned it down. All of my hopes and dreams are over. I'm finished!"

He gazes knowingly into her eyes and says, " Got anything to eat? I'm starving!"

Then the director yells, "Let's take five everyone!" He gives the chiseled actor an attaboy slap, before he motions the beautiful actress over for a chat. He tells her that her performance lacks realism, and suggests that she spend time with a struggling writer to better understand her plight.

The next day, the beautiful actress goes over to the struggling writer's apartment. She has trouble making her way through the crumpled up papers, magazines, and books until she finally stumbles upon the struggling writer. They are about the same age, but the struggling writer looks worn out in her baggy sweatpants, and oversized unraveling robe. She apologizes for not having showered, as she doesn't have any running water.

They end up spending the day laughing, crying, and fighting over remnants of sweet and salty snacks. The struggling writer shows the beautiful actress her pile of rejection letters while they wrap themselves in blankets to stay warm, because the landlord turned off the heat. SW helps BA rehearse her scenes while interjecting double doses of angst and plucky determination.

They say their goodbyes before nightfall, so that they don't have to continue rehearsing in total darkness. Not once does the beautiful actress offer to invite the struggling writer into her luxurious Manhattan apartment to have a warm bath, a nutritious meal, and sleep in a lovely heated spare bedroom during one of the coldest nights of the year.

The following morning, the beautiful actress confidently strolls back into the playhouse. She is assured that her new "method acting" approach will impress her director, as well as, entice her chiseled leading man. As she gets closer to the stage, she notices that they started without her. Her leading man is facing the director, while another woman is saying her lines. The beautiful actress  with a newly acquired pulsating vein in her forehead, rushes the stage to confront her.

She can't believe her eyes. Her competition is simply gorgeous with cascading auburn hair, breathtaking features, and a perfect figure. Her voice sounds familiar, but she still can't place her. Then the director chimes in, "Sorry kid, you just don't have what it takes. We decided to go in another direction."

While the beautiful actress stands motionless, she overhears her former leading man invite his new costar to join him for a drink later. Suddenly it hits her, " You're the struggling writer that I poured my heart out to yesterday. How could you do this to me? And how could you deceive me by not washing your hair, and hiding under those ridiculous plus-size rags?"

Then the struggling writer/ knockout actress replies, " I deceived you? I bent over backwards trying to  teach you how to act, and in return you let me rot in that freezer of an apartment. Besides you idiot ingrate, I'm the one who wrote this play!"

-Julie Kemp Pick