I'm competitive

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, July 26, 2016 9:58 PM

I feel like I should stand in front of a group of fellow competitives and announce, solemnly, “Hi, I’m Lorin and I’m competitive.” 

All together now: Hiiiii, Looooorrrriiiiin.

Let me tell you my story. For some time now, I have needed to be the one who won, anything. When I was little, I was a terrible sore loser at board games like Candyland. I loved Candyland, but got angry and surly when I lost. I stopped playing board games shortly thereafter. 

As I grew a bit older, I used to compete with my dad. I don’t know when it started; I’m not even sure why it started. Perhaps because my dad used to engage in certain sporting activities that I also enjoyed. He was pretty good on ice skates. When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I took ice skating lessons. I was decent; not great. But I enjoyed it, and I could skate a mean backwards 8. Behind our house in New York was a sort of swamp-pond that would freeze solid in the cold winter. The family would often go skating on the weekend. My dad would lace up his black figure skates and I would lace up mine. One day we decided to race and I was determined to beat him. For some ridiculous, youthful reason I needed to beat him. We raced. He caught a toe-pick on a small protruding branch or stick and went sprawling. I remember being elated because I’d won. I don’t remember being too worried as to whether or not he was OK (he was). 

Another time, we were playing tennis. I had taken an interest in the sport when I started watching Chris Evert. My first racket was a wooden Wilson racket that sported her signature. My dad had played tennis in his youth and again, for unknown reasons, it became very important that I beat him. We would bat the ball back and forth. Whenever I managed to put some spin on a ball that got past him, I would shriek with delight. At one point, on a particular Sunday, I went up to hit an overhead, determined to smash it past him. I came down, lost my footing, fell to the court and broke my wrist. I was so competitive though that I didn’t stop playing until I could no longer hold the tennis balls. 

I never liked to admit defeat, I didn’t like to be beat. I still don’t. But I’ve become a slightly better loser. Slightly. It’s something I recognize and work on, or at least try to. Except lately. Lately I am very competitive with my husband. In fairness, he is also competitive with me. 

When Justin was home, he was finally able to get us the fitness trackers he had “given” us for Christmas. Both Kevin and I chose Garmin Vivosmart HR trackers. They have a swipe face, with large letters and numbers making it easy to use and easy to see. We wear them every day. And every day, throughout the day, our conversations go something like this: 

“How many steps do you have?” 

“Did you reach goal yet?” 

“Not yet – wait. Goal!”

We have become obsessed with our step count. Each morning begins with a question: How many steps are you supposed to do today? The steps are automatically increased by a certain percentage based on whether or not we met the previous day’s steps. When Kevin gets to his goal before me, I feel dejected. Beaten. When we’re walking up the hill in the morning and he announces “goal!” because he’s met his stair-climbing goal and his wrist buzzes, I feel wronged. The Garmin’s screen shows fireworks and flashes the word GOAL! in celebration. My first instinct isn’t “great!” or “congrats!” Nope. It’s “why haven’t I met goal? We walked the same distance, we climbed the same hills.” Usually before I’m finished whining, my wrist too begins to buzz.

I don’t play board games anymore. I haven’t played tennis in ages. I can’t remember the last time I laced up skates. But none of that matters. I now have a fitness tracker, and it has reinvigorated my competitive streak. 

Say it with me: Hiiiii, Looooorrrriiiiin.

Tags: , ,

live out loud

The last supper

by Lorin Michel Thursday, June 30, 2016 10:31 PM

The joke goes something like this: “Do you know why Jesus and all of the apostles are on one side of the table?” Silence. “So they could all be in the picture.” Ba dum bum. I have always chuckled at this joke, mostly because I’m a lapsed catholic and because it’s very sacrilegious. It’s one of those sarcastic jokes that’s not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny. More like smile-broadly-with-teeth funny. 

I bring this up because the last supper has gone from being a popular bible story to an exquisite painting by Leonardo Da Vinci to meals for the condemned. I suppose in some ways the bible story is also a meal for the condemned even though Jesus didn’t know he’d been betrayed or was about to be, and hadn’t yet been sentenced. I don’t really remember. The Leonardo Da Vinci connection is more about the renaissance painters and the bible than the bible. It was a very religious time in Rome. Witness the Sistine Chapel. 

The condemned man (or woman) in prison is allowed a last meal of their choice. It seems odd to me that you’re going to give someone a really great dinner and then put poison into their system. I don’t know if it’s the state’s way of seeming to be humane but it’s just another barbarism if you ask me. Which I realize you didn’t. 

The thing is, I’m writing about the last supper today because Justin leaves tomorrow. At approximately 7:45 am, his United flight lifts off from Tucson International Airport for a short trip to San Francisco in order to catch an All Nippon Airlines jumbo jet for Narita, Japan. He’ll be there for about three months, starting off in Sendai, spending time there, in Tokyo and other places in the country. 

When he’s done there, he goes to various places in Europe. The tour, Disney’s Frozen on Ice, which he’s been with for about a year and a half, is taking their act overseas until April. After Europe, they go to Australia/New Zealand. It’s the experience of a lifetime, and though he’ll be working, he’ll get to see the world without having to pay for it. Truly amazing.

He’s been home for six weeks. A long time. In some ways, it seems like forever; in others like he just got here. It happens every time, and we never really get used to it. I know he’s ready to get back to work and to being with his girlfriend, and his friends. I also know he loves being home. He genuinely likes us. Go figure. He also likes home cooking and good wine. 

I asked him what he wanted for his last meal, his “last supper.” He grinned at me. As if I actually needed to ask. 

Ribs. Ugly steaks. Twice baked potatoes. A cherry tomato salad with a balsamic glaze. Wine. 

I've been busy preparing and cooking while he’s packing. Tomorrow morning we’ll get up to see him off, and rubbing our eyes and clutching our robes, we’ll wave goodbye. We’ll cry and then we’ll go back into our quiet house. It will be light, the day will just be starting. Riley will need to be walked. Our day will start like usual. And he will be gone. 

But tonight we dine on his favorite foods. We’ll laugh and talk and eat and drink. We’ll have our last supper together for a while, and even though we won’t all be on the same side of the table, maybe we’ll all be in the picture anyway.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

The fine art of nose art

by Lorin Michel Sunday, June 5, 2016 8:13 PM

Kevin cleaned the windows yesterday. In any house, this is considered a big job. A time consuming endeavor. In this house, it’s herculean. We have huge windows in virtual every room save the guest bath and the ¾ bath on the west side of the house. Even the laundry room has nice windows. The garage has three smallish windows at the back of the extended middle stall where Kevin’s shop is located. 

When it rains, a phenomenon that is rarely polite, we get sheets of water that blast against the windows. Because of the dust, the rain makes for nice streaks and spots on the glass. We’re heading into monsoon season. The official start of the season is June 15 and it goes through September 30. The skies can swirl to life at any time, moisture collecting in dark green clouds that begin to rumble and spark, and then the deluge comes. Temperatures drop 30º in 20 minutes. The glass drips.

And the windows get dirty. 

Several weeks ago, I bought some supposedly amazing window washing stuff. But in order to use it, Kevin needed to have some special bucket type thing that we couldn’t find anywhere. He finally ordered one online. It came last week. So yesterday, since it was so blisteringly hot, and since Saturday’s tend to be do-stuff-around-the-house-day, he decided it was time to wash the windows. 

While he did that, I put the new bed together. I changed the sheets on Justin’s bed. I did laundry. I cleaned our bathroom, which normally would be considered just a regular job but with our shower it, too, is herculean. It takes me an hour to clean that monstrosity. Justin cleaned his bathroom, and then spent the afternoon researching Phoenix resorts for him and Kelsey to stay in for part of her visit. Riley napped. 

For hours, Kevin squeegeed the outside windows, all around the house, with the exception of the windows in the garage. They’re nearly impossible to reach. And, garage. Then he moved to the inside. 

Because there isn’t rain inside, and because we live fairly cleanly, you wouldn’t think there would be much on the interior windows. You would think that. You would also be wrong. Because Riley. 

We purposely didn’t put floor to ceiling windows in because they’re expensive and because when you have floor to ceiling windows and the storms happen there is more danger of water somehow leaking in. So our windows stop about two and half feet above the floor, and we have window sills. This is everywhere in the house, save for the guest bath, the ¾ bath, the laundry room, the kitchen, and the garage. But across the back of the house, in the dining room, in all four of the bedrooms and in the master bath, the windows stop and the sills take over. The sills make a great place for Riley to rest his head while he watches out the window. It’s the perfect height, he doesn’t have to stretch or lean. He simply rests his weary head so that he can watch the birds or the lizards or the toads or whatever else happens to come his way. And he makes nose art.

Riley, today, nosing.

Nose art is the fine art of a dog applying his wet nose to glass. It can take on various abstract shapes and when it dries, there are lovely reminders that Riley was once here. Or there. All of our windows with sills and the front door with glass to the floor all display nose art. The house is like a gallery devoted to Riley. This nose art appears from about six inches above the sill down to the sill and decorates the glass for all to see. When it’s just Kevin and I, we don’t clean it every day, but occasionally, we need to do something. 

The problem is, nose art, much like graffiti, doesn’t remove easily. Simple Windex won’t do it. So yesterday, with his super-duper window washing fluid, his new bucket, his squeegee and a little old-fashioned elbow grease, Kevin managed to dislodge the nose art and for a brief time, the windows were so clear it was as if they weren’t there at all.

Unfortunately, like graffiti, the tagger returned. And the fine art of nose art has once again begun to appear. We had less than 24 hours of clarity. But who are we to question the talent and perseverance and beauty shared by our illustrious puppy? You know. The one nosing it out loud all over the house.

Tags: , , , ,

live out loud

My generation doesn’t make good music

by Lorin Michel Monday, May 30, 2016 8:37 PM

These words were spoken by Justin last night as we were on the deck at sunset, listening to jazz flow from the speakers above. The song we were listening to was a jazz instrumental of Hotel California. The station is on Pandora and it’s something like Jazz Does Pop or something like that. I swore I wouldn’t do Pandora because I wanted to support the little guys but the little guys are getting harder and harder to find. They keep drifting away.

I used to pay a monthly fee to Live365 so that I could listen to everything I wanted, commercial free. But the government stepped in, something about licensing. The big players like Spotify and Pandora managed to get through it all relatively unscathed. Most of these stations, including Pandora, play commercials but that doesn’t really bother me, especially since it’s usually only one or two. It’s that I really want the small guys, the entrepreneurs to succeed.

Anyway, we were on the deck, listening to Hotel California done with saxophones and pianos. Justin said what a cool version of the song it was. He took a sip of his wine. And then he said: 

“My generation doesn’t make good music.” He said it with introspection, and insight. He was also right. This led to a discussion about some of the groups that he grew up with, most of whom aren’t really making music anymore and if they are, they’re not making memorable music and they’re touring in obscure locations throughout the world. Blink 182. Linkin Park. Nickelback. The boy bands that don’t even exist. 

We then went on to discuss the music he was raised with, which is the music he compares his generation’s lack-of-depth music to, people like Eric Clapton – he loves the Unplugged album specifically and Layla – and Sting – he’s a big fan of Fields of Gold. He likes U2, and he even had praise for the hair bands of the 80s like Bon Jovi. All before he was born. It was interesting to listen to him. 

He told us about a guy he works with who made a comment about Paul McCartney. Evidently the once-Beatle recently collaborated with Kanye West whom Justin affectionately calls a douche-canoe. It made both Kevin and I laugh. Justin’s friend heard the song they did together and made the following comment: “how cool is it that Kanye’s giving that old guy this opportunity. Must be the highlight of his life.” 

Justin nearly spit out whatever he was drinking at the time. 

My generation doesn’t make good music and then they make comments like that.

Justin is part of the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y. These are the people who were born between the early 1980s and the year 2000. Justin was born in 1991. They’re civic minded, they’re highly educated, upbeat and optimistic. They’re more open-minded than their parents on issues like same-sex marriage. They don’t tend to care about racial identity either, and they’re the least overtly religious generation. They were raised on the internet. They’re an interesting group. Smart, focused, non-judgmental. Opinionated. Fascinating. 

But lacking in the music of his parent’s generation. The Rolling Stones. Elton John. Bruce Springsteen. Eric Clapton. Rod Stewart. Sting and the Police. He listens to all of this music because we listened to all of this music. 

As jazz drifted from above, we all sipped wine, and enjoyed the fact that our generation, thankfully, did make that kind of music. Good. Classic. Lasting. And something to celebrate.                                                              

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

In pizza, we must

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 27, 2016 10:39 PM

By the time Friday arrives, the amount of food in the house has dwindled. This is because I usually go shopping on Saturday and I stock up for the week. By the time Friday arrives, there is usually a blackening banana in the fruit bowl and one mushroom left in the vegetable drawer. There’s a swish of half and half left in the carton, a couple of sheets of paper towel on the roll. We’re usually down a jar of Raos pasta sauce and a box of pasta, the bags of cheese are nearly empty, as is the carton of eggs. Dwindled. This Friday is no exception. 

This is the situation I find myself in today. With nothing to eat and of what I do have, nothing I want to cook. 

I entertained going to the grocery store today instead of my usual Saturday morning but opted against it for no reason other than I simply wasn’t in the mood. I’m tired. And I’ve been working all day, and it’s the start of a long holiday weekend, the first of the summer, and like I said, I just wasn’t in the mood. It would be very busy out there, traffic wise, and the grocery store would be overflowing with people stocking up for the weekend, for camping trips and barbecues, parties and whatever else people do on three-day weekends. 

So I’ll go tomorrow. And I’ll stock up on mushrooms and bananas and eggs and orange juice and toilet paper and whatever else I need to keep the house running for the next week. With Justin here, I have to get more than usual and I have to remember to do that. I’ve been so used to shopping for just two; it’s been a long time since I shopped for three.

I’ll go to Petco, too, to stock up on Riley’s food. I buy a 30-pound bag of dog food, Natural Balance, each month. Our boy eats a lot. Three and a half cups a day. 

He’ll also get a bath tomorrow, our boy. I gave him a bath last week, but I think he might be allergic to the shampoo I used. He’s been itchy and he has a bit of a rash under his fur, near his tail. He keeps trying to bite it, to make the itch stop. It’ll be warm tomorrow, too, so he’ll be dry in no time, fur flying, shedding like a big dog, happy as he can be, clean and sparkly. With fresh dog food.

It’s Friday. No one has any food. And that means pizza for dinner. 

We have a great place not too far from here. I’ll order it and then drive in to pick it up. I haven’t been out of the house all week. I’ll climb into the Range Rover and drive down Catalina Highway. I’ll open the sunroof and crank the music. I love to drive at night when the air is cool and there’s little traffic. I’ll pull up to Rosati’s and get our pizza, or maybe our two pizzas, perhaps a Caesar salad. I’ll get back into the car, fire up the lights and take off, flying toward home. The smell of pizza will flood the car. And I will be free … 

… of groceries, of dog food, of chores at least until tomorrow. As an added bonus, I’ll be able to feed my family. Or, in the immortal words of George W. Bush, I’ll be able to “put food on my family.” 

Because I don’t have any food in the house, or at least no food I want to make, and I’m tired, and wasn’t in the mood for the grocery store. And so, in pizza, I must trust.

Tags: , , , ,

live out loud

I'm a proud mama

by Lorin Michel Thursday, March 17, 2016 7:55 PM

Justin is on tour with a Disney show, and has been for over a year now. He lives out of a suitcase, which these days is more like a big duffle bag on wheels, moving from city to city to city, either via a big travel bus or, if it’s too far, via American Airlines. Last year, he was on the east coast, visiting all kinds of cities east of the proverbial Mississippi, and then went down to Mexico for a month. Since August, or maybe it was September, he’s been on the west coast except that this week he’s in Ft. Myers, Florida. Not sure how that’s west coast, but it matters not. We hadn’t heard from him in quite a while. He sometimes goes dark for a month or more at a time and we get nary a text. If he didn’t post via Swarm on Facebook, we’d never know where he was. 

But we had a chance to talk with him last night, and, as it so often is, it was delightful. 

He and several of his buddies on tour, including his girlfriend, have three days off in Ft. Myers so they rented a house. Because he had some time, he decided to use a bit of it to call his parents.

The conversation began with the usual. Him giving us a rundown of what’s been happening on the tour, where he is, what he’s doing; us telling him that all we do is work but that we are trying to have more of a life, and that we even have plans this weekend. He asked about Riley; we asked about Kelsey. Then Kevin asked him about politics, and I started to smile.

For the next two hours, we talked politics. He has been paying close attention to the presidential race, watching the debates on both sides, devouring the Rachel Maddow show, reading up online about what’s happening. He has studied the issues, he had very thoughtful and insightful things to say about it all.

From the time he was little we tried to teach him two things: to question everything unless he knew it to be true; and to never let anyone give him his opinion, least of all us. Come to think of it, both of those things are somewhat inter-related. I’m proud to say that he has actually repeated it to me, when I’ve casually asked if he remembers what I always said when he was little. Without missing a beat, he says: “Question everything.”

I am a flaming liberal and proud of it. I always have been. Kevin was a Republican when we got together. He reluctantly admits that he voted for George W. Bush in 2000. And then, he was done. By 2004, he had come over to the dark side. I had nothing to do with it. I’m not that persuasive. The Republican party did it all by themselves. I’ve never hidden my liberalism, except from clients because it’s just not appropriate to talk politics or religion in certain company, not if one wishes to maintain a good and strong relationship. Both Kevin and I actively supported Barack Obama, in 2008 and in 2012. In 2008, Justin was still in high school and not at all politically informed. It didn’t interest him. On election night, as Kevin and I stood in front of the fireplace, watching the returns, we called for him to come downstairs to witness history. As the polls closed in California and Brian Williams said “We have news,” calling the race for Obama, we wept. I don’t know if Justin realized the magnitude of what had just happened. His generation – and here is where I sound old – doesn’t really think much about someone’s skin color or religion or sexual orientation. The election of Obama was that night and remains to this day one of the proudest moments of my life. 

Justin and Kelsey in Mexico last summer

Justin supports Bernie Sanders. It’s not at all surprising. He listed a number of reasons why, mostly policy related. He understands that it’s an uphill battle. I asked him if Sanders doesn’t win the nomination if he would support Clinton. I know in the heat of the season, many people get almost too enamored with their chosen one and vow to never support the other person. I get it; I do. But it’s counter-productive. The real issue is that the party you support win in November. I didn’t say all of that, of course. Because that’s my opinion. I just asked the question. He didn’t hesitate saying of course, and then went on to explain exactly what I was thinking. That there are issues at stake that are too important. 

As we were talking one of his friends came into the room where he was and gave him some wine. Kevin poured us some, too. 

Justin has also taken to wine. And not just any wine, but good, strong, hair-on-the-chest red wine. Syrahs and Petite Verdots. He goes wine tasting. He asks questions. He has a remarkable palette and nose. When he was in high school, he was very judgmental about wine and alcohol in general. Kevin and I were branded alcoholics because of our love of wine and wine tasting. He has come to realize that it’s an art form, a hobby; something to be savored. And it’s also a lot of fun.

Last night, he was in Florida and we were in Arizona. He was holding court about politics, and drinking red wine. We all were. I was so proud all I could do was smile, and raise a glass to my boy. Here’s to him, and his amazing mind, his personality, his goals. I’m bursting.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

Just saying

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 15, 2015 8:30 PM

When Justin was little, we had several rituals we developed in order to avoid what we called “the meltdown.” During the summer months especially he would run himself ragged, literally, playing outside with his friends. They’d start early and race around the yard, or go to the park and race around there. They’d ride their bikes, build forts, go to the moon, and that was just before lunch.

We’d have him come in around six, for dinner. Sometimes a buddy would come with him, but usually it was just him. To take a bath, to relax a little, maybe just veg in front of a Disney movie, eat his mac n’ cheese or cheese burger or cheese pizza; chicken fingers or corn dogs and fries, washed down with milk. Or Justin’s wine. We never wanted him to feel like he was less than we were, just because he was little. He always sat at the table with us when we entertained. He was always part of the conversation. All of our friends always included him, talked to him. Most importantly, listened to him. Kevin and I always have wine with dinner. Naturally, he couldn’t have wine, so we bought him sparkling cider. Justin’s wine. There were always several bottles in the wine rack. When he had a friend sleep over, they always had Justin’s wine with dinner.

After a hard day of playing, he would need a bath or a shower. We could never just spring the concept of bedtime on him because that would lead to shrieks and wailing. After he got himself clean and into his pajamas, he always came back downstairs to watch a little more TV. He’d bring his pillows and his Simba blanket and curl up on the floor next to Maguire. Sometimes Maguire was the pillow. About 30 minutes before bedtime, we’d start a countdown. If we eased into when it was time for him to go to bed, it was easier. We avoided meltdown.

“Thirty minutes, buddy,” was the first announcement.

“Next commercial, brush and flush,” was the next announcement.

Brush and flush became the mantra for years. It’s all we’d have to say to make sure that he brushed his teeth and went to the bathroom before bed. Then he could come back downstairs after brush and flush and watch a little more TV. We had it down to a science. We also used it before he went off to school or whenever we were going on a trip so that we knew he had clean teeth and an empty bladder. It worked for years. Occasionally when he’s home now, we’ll joke and say the same thing. It always gets a big laugh.

We have a new mantra now for our new ginger boy, Riley.

Riley is an odd duck. We love him to pieces, but he’s weird. He loves to go on walks but he never goes to the bathroom during the walk. It’s very un-dog-like. We have an area off the garage that’s fenced in. It’s not very big and it’s not very finished – it’s still dirt and enclosed with chicken-wire fence – but it’s where he has learned to go. In the morning, it’s the first place we visit. Throughout the day, whenever he leaps the steps and sits on the landing by the garage door, we know we need to visit the Cooper Area, so named because it was originally envisioned for Cooper.

Whenever Riley uses his outside time to pee and poop, we are delighted to announce P–squared. We do it with flourish. We’re like proud parents whose kid has learned to use the toilet.

We all develop little sayings that keep us functioning, shorthand sayings that allow us to communicate quickly and succinctly. Brush and flush. P–squared. I do find it interesting that the sayings we’ve developed have to do with our boys’ toilet habits.

But I guess we need to go with the flow.

I woke up thinking about Hawaii

by Lorin Michel Sunday, August 9, 2015 8:55 PM

I love the desert. I love the harshness of it, the beauty of it. I don’t even mind the heat of it. I love the monsoons that arrive with a vengeance and wreak havoc on the land and houses below. I love the dryness mixed with the moisture and humidity, the reality of it. But every once in a while I find myself missing the ocean. This morning was such a time.

I’ve been to Hawaii just three times, once with husband number one, twice with Kevin and Justin, always with the destination of Maui. The first time we took Justin, we went by way of Honolulu so that we could see Pearl Harbor. I didn’t particularly like Honolulu. Just another big city, lots of traffic, though much prettier than LA.

When I went the first time, it was business retreat for first husband’s company, so we went with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I was probably the youngest in the group at 25 or 26. We stayed on Wailea Beach on the rainy side of the island, at the Stouffer Resort. It’s no longer there, replaced by another resort, but it was absolutely gorgeous. I remember the water sparkling, clear down to the sands below, regardless of the depth. It was warm, tropical. When we sat on the runway, preparing to leave, it was the first time I could remember not being ready to go home.

This was right after the top of an Aloha Airlines plane had ripped off in mid-flight. It was sitting on the runway.

Years later, after Kevin and I had gotten together (though I’m not sure we were yet married), we took Justin. When he was little, our summer family vacations had two goals: have an educational component, and be fun. We went to Washington (DC), Maine, Cancun. We chose Hawaii because both Kevin and I always loved it, we hadn’t been together, and we knew Justin – little fish that he was – would love it, too. We started in Honolulu, staying at the famous Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki Beach. Justin was in the ocean within a half hour of arrival. We went to Pearl Harbor and saw the USS Arizona Memorial. Justin was surprisingly saddened by it. He was probably 7 at the time, but it affected him deeply. After Oahu, we flew to Maui for the rest of our trip. We snorkeled, we chartered a big sailboat, we had a wonderful time, so much so that we went back when Justin was a sophomore in high school. This was not a wonderful time. We took the road to Hana, through the rainforest and past the various waterfalls. We took the back way down, which you’re not supposed to do. In some places the road is barely wide enough for one car. It is often right on the edge of the mountain with no guardrail. We encountered cows, leisurely lying across the road. We went through a blackened lava field. It was like the dark side of the moon. But Justin was in his horrible-teenager phase. We couldn’t wait to get home; we were disgusted that we’d spent as much money as we did. That was our last big family vacation.

Our second trip to Hawaii, with our horrible teen

This morning, I woke up thinking about Hawaii. I have no idea why; I haven’t seen or read anything lately that would be lurking in my subconscious just waiting for an opportunity to manifest in a dream. Maybe I’m missing the ocean. Maybe I’m missing the tropics. Maybe I’m missing the slow, lazy pace of it. Maybe I’m missing the peace of it. When you vacation in Hawaii, you simply let the sound of the lapping waves, the wind dancing through the palm trees, the smell of fresh salty air carry you away. You sit on the lanai and you relax completely.

Maybe that’s why I woke up thinking about Hawaii. Maybe it’s my subconscious after all, telling me that after months of flying through life, it’s time to sit on the lanai and do absolutely nothing but listen to the waves and the palm trees, breathe in the wonderful coconut and salt air of the islands. And live it out loud.

The son has arrived

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, June 30, 2015 9:24 PM

I remember one evening when Justin was little. It was before he lived with us, and he had come for his monthly visit. We had moved into the house in Oak Park but we hadn’t yet done any of the remodeling we would eventually do. There was still carpet throughout the house. He was lying on the floor, on his back, next to the bottom of the stairs, staring up at the ceiling. Maguire was on the floor next to him, watching his little friend, wanting to play but knowing enough to wait. I was in the kitchen. I think Kevin was with me. We were preparing dinner.

From the other room we heard these words: “This is a really nice house.”

It was a nice house. It was a tract home, just 1700 square feet but with a fairly open floor plan that was perfect for the four of us. Even though Justin wasn’t yet there full time, he still lived there. His room was there, all of his toys, his stuff. A special loft bed that Kevin had made specifically to give him more room to play on the floor beneath.

Today he came home from the road. He’s been traveling the country with Disney’s Frozen on Ice tour, hopping from city to city to city, a few days here or there, before boarding a bus or a plane to go to the next destination. He’s home for nine days and then he jets off to Mexico City to begin the next leg, the Western leg, of the tour. He loves it. At 24, he’s the perfect age for it.

We don’t see him much anymore, which is to be expected. As parents, our job was to raise him to be able to leave us and become a contributing member of society. We talk on the phone occasionally; we text. He’s working in a career that he loves, in a career that he went to school for. Not as many people can say that today as did, perhaps, once upon a time. He’s lucky. More than that, he’s talented. He’s good at what he does.

He walked in the house today, the new house and stood in the foyer. Grinning.

“Nice house,” he said as he wrapped me up in a big bear hug.  

Yesterday it rained. Actually, it monsooned. For the better part of an hour, it poured as the wind blew, the cactus groaned and the water made rivets in the ground. We stood on the deck and watched, the rain dusting our legs. When it finally stopped, the clouds were still heavy, drifting high above and toward the west. We poured a glass of wine and sat down in our new Adirondack chairs. The sky was gray. We didn’t expect to see the sun, but just before 7:30, the horizon began to glow red. Soon, the sky was bathed in deep oranges and purples, a blood-red vein ran through a thunderous cloud.

The sun had arrived.

Today, the sunshine of our lives arrived, bringing with him laundry, items for storage, a receding hairline and a smile as bright as any desert day. Life is good.

Tags: , , , ,

live out loud

New to the vernacular: the polar vortex

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, November 18, 2014 10:06 PM

Did we ever have polar votexes –  vortexi? – before the last couple of years? I’m fairly up on my news. I read the Washington Post every day. I visit nbcnews.com. There has been winter. There has been snow. I don’t remember the polar vortex making an appearance before last year.

Maybe it’s because I live in the Southwest were snow is loathe to visit. Lately, rain has been loathe as well.

Lake Erie was exploding this morning, with the areas of Buffalo, New York and Erie, Pennsylvania, which both sit on the lake, getting more than two feet of snow before 9 am. I remarked that it was a good thing Justin wasn’t in Fredonia anymore, which sits smack in the middle between Erie and Buffalo. He would be unhappy. Of course, he’s on his way to New Jersey to begin his new job with Disney. It won’t be too balmy. And for this he gave up Hawaii? We obviously didn’t raise him very well.

According to NBC, every state is supposed to be hit by this polar vortex, with temperatures unexpectedly low everywhere. I’m not sure Southern California got the memo since it’s still comfortably in the 70s and at night doesn’t seem to drop much lower than 50.

In Southern California I suppose that is considered serious brrrrrr weather.

In the desert, it’s been very brrrrr at night. Into the 20s and 30s already.

So while the polar vortex is pounding the great lakes regions, the North East, the upper plains, we’re just a little chillier than normal. There have been no calls for us to bring in our pets, not that such a call would affect us. Our pet doesn’t like to be outside ever. We might get a little rain on Friday. Brrrrr.

According to that most trusted of news sources, NBC, more than 100 cities could break records for cold temps tonight and Wednesday could be the lowest daily high ever so far for this time of year. Anchorage, Alaska was forecast to be 34º, 12º warmer than Tallahassee, Florida.

What’s happening out there? The polar vortex. A phenomenon that was first diagnosed in the 1850s, but that I had never heard of until earlier this year which strangely seems like last year. It was actually January 2014 when most people heard the term. That’s because the temperatures had plunged to life-threatening lows, in some places 60º below zero when the windchill was factored in. No wonder the weather reports said to bring in your pets.

Here’s what I found out. The polar vortex is a seasonal atmospheric phenomenon that involves a system of strong, high-level winds inside a very, very cold pocket of Arctic air. When it breaks down it results in a big, powerful blast of arctic air that pushes south causing cold temperatures in places that don’t usually get cold winters. Like Tallahassee.

The polar vortex sounds like it should be a movie. Like The Polar Express. It’s not. Instead, it’s now part of everyone’s vernacular.

Tonight it will be low 40s here. Maybe we’ll get to the high 30s. It will be mid 50s in Southern Cal. Meanwhile, Buffalo will be buried under more than 6 feet. That’s the polar vortex in action. I don’t know if it’s something to celebrate, but it’s definitely winter clearing her throat and living it out loud.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

christian louboutin online discount christian louboutin wholesale jerseys from china replica oakleys wholesale jerseys cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys oakley sunglasses sales cheap jerseys free shopping michael kors handbags nike nhl jerseys cheap nhl jerseys cheap replica oakleys oakleys sale cheap jerseys from china christian louboutin outlet 2016 cheap fake oakleys WHOLESALE AUTHENTIC JERSEYS fake ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin cheap christian louboutin online cheap jerseys cheap oakleys cheap jerseys from china cheap michael kors wholesale mlb jerseys replica oakleys store cheap jerseys china fake oakleys authentic nhl jerseys cheap wholesale nfl jerseys discount oakleys cheap oakleys fake oakley sunglasses replica christian louboutin cheap oakley sunglasses authentic jerseys cheap cheap oakleys outlet wholesale oakleys christian louboutin online wholesale cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys fake cheap oakleys discount jerseys sale cheap ray bans fake cheap oakleys michael kors outlet cheap wholesale jerseys replica ray bans wholesale jerseys outlet wholesale nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake cheap oakleys outlet ray bans sale christian louboutin outlet oakleys sunglasses wholesale authentic jerseys discount ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin online nhl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys discount ray bans wholesale jerseys cheap ray bans michael kors handbags outlet replica michael kors wholesale oakley sunglasses ray bans outlet cheap jerseys china cheap nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys cheap oakleys cheap ray bans cheap christian louboutin discount oakleys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap michael kors handbags fake cheap oakleys discount christian louboutin wholesale nhl jerseys michael kors on sale discount ray bans cheap jerseys wholesale cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors bags replica ray bans cheap sunglasses ray bans authentic jerseys authentic jerseys from china cheap oakleys outlet replica oakley sale red bottoms shoes on sale wholesale oakleys cheap nfl jerseys cheap replica oakleys wholesale oakleys cheap christian louboutin outlet cheap oakleys store cheap michael kors cheap ray bans cheap authentic nfl jerseys paypal cheap fake oakleys cheap oakleys cheap michael kors outlet fake ray bans fake ray bans cheap authentic nike jerseys cheap authentic jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake oakleys store replica oakleys cheap christian louboutin fake oakley cheap cheap jerseys wholesale cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys china cheap oakleys online replica michael kors cheap ray bans jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys discount ray bans cheap michael kors store cheap ray bans ray bans sunglasses jerseys wholesale wholesale china jerseys cheap mlb jerseys oakley sunglasses wholesale nba jerseys christian louboutin outlet wholesale oakleys wholesale authentic jerseys wholesale mlb jerseys cheap michael kors outlet cheap jerseys online shopping cheap ncaa jerseys michael kors bags cheap fake oakleys cheap jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors cheap discount ray bans ray bans sunglasses cheap jerseys free shopping cheap nba wholesale jerseys fake oakleys replica oakleys cheap nhl jerseys cheap christian louboutin cheap oakleys official jerseys replica ray bans cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys cheap cheap authentic ncaa jerseys michael kors on sale cheap fake oakleys cheap elite jerseys discount oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors online wholesale and retail oakleys fake ray bans cheap wholesale jerseys
Filter by APML