wallowing in the psuedo-psycho-babbleonian Empire of Her Majesty

I know it’s a little late in January to be doing this, but I have decided to share with you, my three faithful readers, my most shameful and disgusting secret of 2009.  Are you ready?  Better buckle up for this one:

I bought an O–as in Oprah–magazine.

In my defense:  see my Standard Line of Defense (i.e., It Really Wasn’t My Fault.)

It was two weeks before Christmas. I was making fresh salsa to give as gifts to my friends and neighbors (if you didn’t get any from me, it’s because I knocked and knocked and nobody ever came to the door.) Mid-salsa-making, I ran out of peppers and had to run to the corner grocery store to replenish.  Due to its sinful markups, I generally avoid this particular place unless I am in dire need of just a few essentials, as was the case this cold winter’s day.  I entered the warm little market and my tired, overshopped back and feeble, overspent mind instantly succumbed to the cozy market’s dim lighting and rotisseried chicken aroma.  (Do they make candles in this odor?  They should.  Let’s shoot Scentsy an email.)

Compared to my standard back-breaking, bulk-buying expeditions to Wal-Mart (please don’t judge, especially if you live in Portland or voted for Obama), setting foot in that store was like walking into a spa.  It was clean, it was pretty, and everyone was superduper nice.  The least I could do was buy something from these good and gracious people.

Caught in this dreamy holiday bubble of warmth and good cheer, the latest cover of O caught my eye, all silvery and smooth, with a glimmering Oprah sitting at her table, sipping what I could only presume was a fifty-dollar cup of organic green something-or-other that adds a decade to your life and eliminates the need for mammograms.  Add to all this that she promised me with her eyes–Oprah promised me, I’m telling you–that if I only opened that magazine, this year I would finally get what I really wanted:

1.  Rich.  Thank you, Suze Orman.
2.  Skinny. Thank you, Bob Greene.
3.  Perfect relationships. Thank you, Dr. Phil.
4.  The secret of life (by going on vacation for a year.)  Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert.
5.  My own way (by putting-my-own-needs-first-for-a-change.)  Thank you, Martha Beck.
6.  My Best Life. Thank you, Ms. Winfrey.

As I picked it up, the shiny pages fluttered to the opening editorial– How to Stop Spending–nested gracefully between the Gucci and Prada ads.  Like a zombie on the holiday episode of “My Favorite Things,” I shelled out $4.95 (that’s a lot of peppers) and held the cool, slick volume close to my body, a little giddy over this uncharacteristic impulse buy.  I tightened my hold on the glossy and glanced around quickly as I beelined for the car.  No one was going to steal this moment from me.

Later that night, soaking my jalapenoed skin  in a well-deserved jetted bath, I finally sank into the riches I had been saving all day long.  I eagerly flipped through this iconic tome of American femaleness but, as you may have gathered from  my subtle forshadowing, I did not learn how to get rich, skinny, validated, enlightened or fulfilled.


I did, however, learn two rather significant pieces of information from this vault of info-tainment:

#1:  “Living My Best Life” apparently means living any other life than the one I’m living now.  My current life, it would seem, remains a problem to be solved.  By Oprah’s staff.

#2:  Elizabeth Gilbert is the single most annoying person on the planet, with Martha Beck in a close second.  (Oprah, of course, remains in a cosmic league of her own.)  And yet they all made a few bucks off of my back.

Are you as disappointed in me as I am in myself?  I’m sorry to have burdened you with this confession, but doing so has made me feel a bit lighter, kind of like when Bilbo gave Frodo the ring.  And now, my friends, you are at liberty to cast off your own cares of 2009.  What was your lowest moment this holiday season?

Come on.  Let’s talk about it.
Oprah would.

Born in the year of the rabbit

1999, to be exact.  Eleven years ago.

According to Chinese tradition, this means that Rachael is articulate, talented, ambitious, virtuous, and has excellent taste.  I must admit, the accuracy of this description lends credence to those oft-underestimated Chinese horoscopes with which our daughter has recently become fascinated.

Forgive the cliche, but raising Rachael really has been eleven years of joy. She is kind, intelligent, talented, happy, freakishly creative, energetic, fun, mature beyond her years, spiritual beyond her years, with a capacity to love well beyond her years.  She is sensitive to others, always thinking of others, always worrying about others, always going out of her way to make others happy.  So this year we decided to Bring Honor to her not once, but twice.  She deserved every bit of it.

Honor #1:  “Chinese New Year” party at Grandma’s on New Years Eve.  We had it early so she could celebrate with her cousins who were visiting for the holidays.

We had fun painting scrolls

hanging lanterns

trying to eat Costco’s Orange Chicken with chopsticks (spearing works)

admiring the New Years Baby

and enjoying a few choice moments of sibling harmony.

We wrapped up the night by making origami face masks and watching Kung Fu Panda.
Afterward, the kids relished their annual chance to stay up until midnight.
It was a perfect way to ring in the new year.

Honor #2:  Last night, on her birthday’s eve, Derrick and I took Rachael to PF Changs, sans extra siblings, for the first time ever.  Rachael loves Chinese food and has always wanted to go to PF Changs to try the “real” kind (we don’t get our kids out much.)  It did not disappoint.  Through the evening, I sat back and noticed that Rachael’s behavior during her birthday dinner was typical of her behavior at large.  She was happy.  She was enthusiastic.  She was thankful, gracious, polite, chatty, funny, playful and thrilled with everything.  She was impressive with her ten-minute dissertation on the role Abigail Adams played in Revolutionary America and the continued effect Ms. Adams has on our country’s women today.  She was tickled (as were her moochy parents) when our server upgraded her free mini-dessert to a free big dessert in honor, I can only assume, of her general cuteness and likeability.  The server’s generosity was not wasted; the flourless chocolate dome was fairly licked off the platter.

We had a great time with much luck, the biggest indicator of which is that we can call this phenomenal little girl our own.

Happy Birthday, Rachey!  You bring honor to us all.

this genetically-engineered food thing is really getting out of hand

Tonight I made cupcakes for my daughter to take to school tomorrow.  I opened up the egg carton and gasped in astonishment at the gargantuan eggs that sat inside it.  Because I knew you wouldn’t believe just how gargantuan these eggs were, I propped one up against an apple for a convincing visual aide:

Imagine my added shock when, still intimidated by their sheer size and volume, I cracked one of these eggs open and two yolks spilled from it into the bowl.

Something about this midnight experience sharply illuminated, to me, just what eggs really are (chicken fetuses), and how strange (disgusting) it is that we eat them.

It’s freaky how big these eggs are.  I’m officially freaked.