Monthly Archives: June 2012

Fear and Loathing in Las Toyota

Ah, the family road trip. That great American tradition that has launched a million therapy sessions.

Three or four kids crammed in the backseat of the family wagon as dad seethes in the driver’s seat and says words you didn’t even think he knew while mom periodically turns around and whacks the kids with a fly swatter to get them to stop fighting.

The American Dream, indeed.

Now, for the first 15 years of my life, I never really got to experience this. It was just my mom and me for all those years, meaning any road trip was a much more PG-version of Thelma and Louise rather than the Griswold’s taking on the open road (although technically my mom could have been blowing away potential rapists with a shotgun while I was in the bathroom, I suppose).

Then my mom married Albert, meaning I was now reassigned to the backseat. BUT, I had the entire backseat all to myself and a 90’s portable CD player approximately the size and weight of a phone book playing Veruca Salt on an endless loop, so no big whoop.

Then they had my brother Brandon (no need to call CPS, he has a different last name than me). But he was an adorable kid and had yet to figure out that his earthly purpose on this planet was to annoy the ever-living crap out of me, so sharing the backseat was no big deal at the time.

But THEN my dumbass had to fall in love and get married, throwing off the ENTIRE family road trip dynamic and making the backseat much more crowded.

So, technically, my first authentic family road trip wasn’t until a few weeks ago when all five of us went to Panama and we set out on the totally reasonable mission to see the entire country in four days.

DISCLAIMER: Now, what you’re about to read below is…well, in short, it makes me look like a horrible, horrible person. Specifically, a horrible sister to my 14-year-old brother. So I’d just like to add here that I love my brother Brandon very much and he is one of my best friends in the entire world. He truly is an amazing kid and there isn’t a thing about him that I’d change. Also, all his bruises should be healed, so he’s, like, totally recovered by now.

Now, like any good, old-fashioned, emotionally scarring family road trip, ours began by waking up at some ungodly hour because we had to be ON THE ROAD by 6 a.m. per my stepdad (“Oh, take your time, kids. We can leave whenever for our road trip.” –said no dad, ever). Meaning there was only time for about 1.5 sips of coffee and absolutely no time for me to sneak outside ninja-style and suck down a cigarette.

So, as you can imagine, I was in a SUPER fun mood.

But it didn’t really start to go downhill until we stopped for a quick bite to eat at a Panamanian fast food joint where we ordered a bunch of chicken and empanadas. Now, despite growing up in a country where food is not only plentiful but actually over-produced, my brother treats food like he is some third-world refugee. He steals it, hoards it, and is constantly paranoid about who is getting the last piece despite the fact his own plate is overflowing.

So, when he kept reaching for a second empanada despite the fact he was currently eating a chicken leg, our parents kept telling him to finish his chicken first. After which, he would take a tiny bite of chicken and then once again reach for the empanada. After which, he’d get yelled at again.

This went on for about 10 minutes before my coffee-and-cigarette deprived self decided to chime in:

After ChickenGate, we all piled back into the car and as you can imagine, I handled the rest of the trip as the mature and elegant woman who you have all come to know:

Some good did actually come out of this experience, however.

1. My husband has yet to serve me with divorce papers.

2. Despite the 17-year difference in our age, I can rest easy knowing that my brother still got to experience a typical childhood and the lovingly abusive relationship all siblings have.

You’re welcome, Turd-face.

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Keep calm and conform

In case you missed my last blog post (BAD READER! VERY BAD READER!!), I recently returned from a nine-day excursion in Panama (the country, not the booze and boob mecca in Florida).

Which means I came back with a plethora of new material to write about, in addition to peeling skin and some rather unladylike gastrointestinal fallout (Heh, see what I did there? I’m such a naughty, little imp).

Anyhoo, if you just can’t get enough of stories of stupid Americans giving ourselves even worst reputations abroad, then check out my latest post for Boston’s Weekly Dig right here.

And if you have gotten enough of those kinds of stories, check back here in a week or so, when I should have finally exhausted my supply of amusing travel anecdotes (although, FAIR WARNING, you will be missing out on some great literature addressing society’s most pressing issues, like is it OK to pee in the ocean if it is not your country’s ocean and how much sand is too much sand to have in your swimsuit bottoms if you’re out in public?).

Bienvenidos, mujer estupida!

Hola, mis amigos. Me llamo Abrill. Yo just returned-o de vacaciones en Panama. Y ahora yo hablo espanol muy bien!

Si! In just one week, this Americano has mastered some of the finer points of this magnifico language. In fact, I became so bien at espanol, mis amigos nuevos from Panama even gave me a nickname! “Mujer Estupida.” Muy bonita, no?

Por ejemplo, I learned mucho useful phrases, such as:

Mas cervesas, por favor!

Mas rum y Coca-Cola Light, por favor!

Mas of that pink drink with the umbrella-thingy, por favor!

I even learned to roll my R’s when purchasing a pack of Marrrrrlborrrrrro Lights, so as to not sound like just another ignorant tourist.

Impressive-o, no?

I also learned mucho cultural things such as:

You must specifically ask if the dish you just ordered still has its eyeballs attached to it. Because apparently it is frowned upon to cry “No ojos! NO OJOS!” while running to the far corner of the restaurante.

If you go up to a vendor at any street market with a $20 bill in your hand and ask how much something is, it will magically cost $20. Every time. Even if the little price sticker on it is clearly marked with $3.

Cheeseburgers are not a universal food.

Si, these past nine days have been wonderfully informative, even in light of the fact I…hmm…como se dice “turned a horrifying shade of deep purple thanks to my pasty white girl skin” en espanol?

Ah, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just say the equator sun is not something an SPF 30 is equipped to take on.

But all in all, it was a muy experiencia maravilloso. In fact, it has made me muy excited to do even mas international travel. Especially since I so obviously am such a bien representative of my country.

See, Americans abroad tend to have a bad reputation for being culturally insensitive and ignorant and stupid, but I like to think I did my part this past week to help repair that reputation, at least a little bit. And I think we can all try to do a bit more to learn about the world outside our borders.

Which is why I fully intend to take the advice of the waiter I met, who told me “La proxima vez, Mujer Estupida (he even knew my nickname!), ir a Mexico y que su problema,” which thanks to my new awesome Spanish skills, I know means “Next time, go to Mexico because they will love your amazing international savvy.”

An Open Letter to my Dishwasher…

I hate you, dishwasher. I hate you so much.

Seriously, so much. Like, if you were on fire and I really had to pee, I’d still use the toilet. Because you know what? The toilet doesn’t constantly remind me what a failure at housekeeping I am. Sure, it starts to murmur something after too many weeks of neglect but you…oooooh…YOU.

There you are, everyday, just sitting there. Needing something. You always need something. Need emptied. Need filled. Need the gunk from your bottom scraped out because someone (FINE! ME!) was too lazy to scrape the dishes beforehand.

Oh. OH! And don’t even get me started on your job performance. You literally have one job to do. Hell, it’s in your very name!

Dish. Washer.

And yet, it never fails. I pull a supposedly “clean” glass out of you only to discover the fruits of your labor have left behind a weird crust on the bottom of it. Or I pull a plate out only to find you were too lazy to get ALL the ketchup off. Oh! And my personal favorite, the pan you decided to completely ignore even though I soaked it in hot water and soap for two hours beforehand to try and help you out.

I just don’t get it, dishwasher. What did I ever do to you to deserve this? The Great Thanksgiving Overload Incident of 2011 notwithstanding (WHICH I apologized profusely for already). I mean, none of my other appliances are nearly as needy and underachieving as you are. For example, your cousins, the washer and dryer, do their jobs incredibly well, even going above and beyond on those rare (and/or weekly) occasions when I happen to spill wine on myself.

Your nemesis, the stove, doesn’t constantly remind me it needs attention with a giant pile of dirty dishes overflowing from the sink. The fridge? Only needs emptied and refilled with actual edible food when out-of town guests are coming over (and then only if I really like them). The TV? Well, that glorious machine…no, you know what? That’s not even close to a fair comparison. The TV is pretty much my soul mate with my husband coming in at a distance second, so let’s not even go there.

But the point remains, you are the appliance equivalent of a juvenile delinquent teenage boy. Your whole purpose in life is to make my life a living hell, a situation I end up blaming myself for because it’s simply your nature.

And you know the worst part of all of this? I’ll never not need you, dishwasher. My only two alternatives are to start washing dishes by hand and/or stop eating altogether. And I refuse to do the one because it’s wicked gross and I refuse to do the other because modern food science has given us frozen mozzarella sticks you can now make from home.

So, where do we go from here, dishwasher? Huh? HUH!? It’s not like I can ignore you and give you the cold shoulder until someone else (cough…Ryan…cough) notices you need attention. The last time I tried that, we ended up eating cold soup out of a frisbee.

So, I guess the only other thing I can hope for is that this blog wins me a Pulitzer and consequently I become a filthy rich and famous writer who can finally afford to pay someone else to deal with you.

*Fingers crossed*

Looking for like in all the wrong places

The one thing about moving to the city and being just another face of the faceless masses?

It can be hard to make new friends.

In the year or so that I’ve been in Boston, I’ve managed to snag a small group of good friends that I occassionally get to see when our (OK, their) schedules allow it (I’m a freelancer…my schedule is as wide open as Paris Hilton’s legs). However, these friends are all somehow or other related to my husband’s job, meaning the number of friends I’ve made on my own is…let’s see…carry the one…divide by pi…yup…zero.

Because you know what makes it really hard to make new friends? When you work from home, are no longer in your 20’s and happen to be married. Because you know what’s really creepy? Having a married 30-year-old freelance writer come up to you at a bar and ask if you want to be besties.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Boston isn’t necessarily known for being a city full of friendly, happy, shining faces (voted Meanest City in America, ya’ll!!!! Woot!). And it also doesn’t help that I’m not necessarily what you’d call a “joiner.” Unless your book club, sewing circle, writer’s collective, flash mob, steampunk convention or volunteer organization is meeting at the bar, I’m likely to just stay at home (and drink).

And it seems I’m not the only one struggling with this. A quick Google search (NOTE: make sure to type in ‘how to make friends as an adult’ NOT ‘how to make adult friends’ unless you want to be taken to a WHOLE different section of the Internet), brought up 30,900,000 results, at least 12 of which weren’t spam or thinly veiled porn.

Granted, the vast majority of articles on this subject belong to Mommy Bloggers, who are lamenting the fact they don’t know how to make friends anymore since their life has been reduced to wiping up the various fluids and semi-solids that spew forth from their offspring. Which didn’t help me much considering 1. I don’t have kids and 2. I think having kids would be a super easy way to make friends. You literally have an adorable 13-pound excuse to talk to someone else with an adorable 13-pound poop machine.

Because you know what else is really creepy? Having the childless 30-year-old woman come up to you at the playground and start trying to bond with you over how taking care of her neurotic dog is just like what she imagines taking care of a baby is like.

(Although in Buffy’s defense, he is wicked smart for a dog. Yes him is. Him such a smart, wittle puppeh).

The rest of the results were pretty much lame tips on how to make non-sexual adult friends, like join a gym, start a hobby, go to church and hang out at Starbucks, all of which are qualities I am not looking for in a friend.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, although it hasn’t worked so far, I think I’m going to continue with my Lazy Friend-Making Plan (mainly because it doesn’t involve putting on real pants), which is two-fold:

1. Continue to stalk my virtual Boston-based Facebook and Twitter friends like @BarHavoc until they take pity on me and invite me somewhere.

2. Finally work up the courage to ask my hairstylist, Vildan, out on a friend date, since I’m pretty sure we’re soul mates. Although there’s a good chance that could blow up in my face due to the Hairstylist Theory.

(Quick summary of my Hairstylist Theory: They are trained like courtesans, skilled in the art of flattery and anticipating your every need, which is why we all want our hairstylist to become our best friend. Alas, for them, it’s just strictly business. They tell all their clients they have amazing cheekbones.)

And in the meantime, I’m going to take my dog to the park so he can terrorize little children as I chat up their moms.

“Isn’t he just the cutest! What’s that? Oh, no. They’ll be fine. He’s neutered. And he only humps the kids he really likes.”