Monday, February 28, 2011

Emmy's Beginnings

Though I have some ideas about where I'd like to take this story, I'd like to hear from the people out there.  What are your thoughts as to what happens with Emmy?
Never one for creating such abundant drama, the choice to act on her true feelings forged a milieu that was awkward and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she continued on with her distressing monologue. “I... I just feel like it would,” she gulped, “uh, be better for BOTH of us if I, uh, was moved to a different classroom.” Mrs. Chester stared at her with squinting eyes. They crinkled unpleasantly as her thin lips smacked together deliberately. “What I mean is...” Emmy stammered as the older teacher leaned back against her desk, her arms crossed haughtily across her chest. Mrs. Chester had decided to show no mercy for Emmy.

Fresh out of the education department at Glenola college in upstate New York, Emmy had some definite beliefs about how a classroom should be run. Her position as a teacher's aide for Mrs. Lynlee Chester, however, illustrated the opposite of these contemporary philosophies. Stubborn and inflexible, Mrs. Chester insisted that an atmosphere of terror and the general unease of her students were a necessary component in their education. The eight pupils that comprised Mrs. Chester's seventh grade special education class took to this method by evading her questions and attempting to stay out of her line of vision as often as possible. Emmy tried to reassure the kids when working one on one with them, but the truth was that she was scared of Mrs. Chester as well. Emmy continued, “It's just, uh, not a good fit.”

“I see.” The older woman glared diabolically into her core, and Emmy's stomach seemed to be doing hurdles over her heart. “Did you speak to Mr. Bell yet?”

Breathing deeply to assuage her fidgety organs, Emmy nodded. “I spoke to the principal earlier. I just wanted to go over it with you.”

“Go over what? You've made your decision. See you in the hallway.” Mrs. Chester ushered her out the door with her acrid voice. Emmy stood in the empty corridor of Addams Middle School. It was good to be alone.

Downstairs was a bit more enlivened. The excitement of Friday afternoon created a rather jubilant mood among her coworkers, of which there were many. There were only 15 classes in this school, each with between six and eight students, but since each classroom was teeming with adults (teacher, assistant, aides), in addition to hallway administrators, there was a lot of staff, all of which had apparently convened in the lobby area of Addams. “So... did you talk to the demon lady?” Theresa had sidled up to her.

“Yeah. Shh- I'll tell you about it later.”

“I think people are going to find out about the transfer when you're assigned to another class on Monday. Come to happy hour at Ty's and we can chat.”

Emmy looked at her watch. “It's 3:00. Do you really think it's wise to begin drinking now?”

“Yes. Stop being so old.”

“Fine, but I'm leaving at a decent hour. I'm still in work clothes.”

Ty's was empty but for a couple of people from work perched on barstools and prattling animatedly to each other. The old tavern was dark and kind of musty. When Emmy breathed in through her nose, the odor of stale beer, dust, and french fries filled her nostrils. “Remind me to refrain from inhaling,” she remarked covertly to her friend. Pulling up stools to the mahogany bar, the girls ordered their drinks then turned toward one another.

“Okay.” Theresa said. “I'm ready.”

“You're ready? For what?”

“For you to tell me everything that happened upstairs. Did she yell? Did she breathe fire? You don't seem at all charred.” Her chubby fingers grabbed at Emmy's shirt, pretending to look for signs of burns on her skin.

“Oh, stop. It was fine. I just clearly explained that my pedagogical ideas were different than hers; that I needed to use this T.A. position as a learning experience that I can one day transfer into my own classroom.” Wistfully, Emmy thought about how these were the things she had wanted to say, had rehearsed in her head over and over, to Mrs. Chester.

“Right. Clear and simple. Did she take it well?” Theresa inquired.

“It was fine. Can we please talk about something else?” They both turned to accept the bottles of beer from the waitress. “I got this round,” Emmy said, pulling her purple wallet out of her purse and retrieving the cash. “You can get the next one.”

“Ah- so you are staying. I thought you were 'leaving at a decent hour.'”

“Yeah, well, I didn't realize how much I needed this until I got here. I'm gonna throw some songs on the juke box.” Emmy walked toward the front of the bar as a group of acquaintances from work came in the door. She smiled at the three guys, who offered her quick nods in greeting. Watching them approach Theresa's stool, she let a sigh of contentment escape her lips. If they stayed for a while, the conversation would surely turn around. She walked over to the group, exceedingly aware of her steps on the wood floor. They all turned as she moved in on their little circle. “Hey, what's up?”

“What did ya put in?” Pete asked, accusingly.

“I played all love songs. I thought that would be a good idea.” Everyone, except Pete, chuckled. Along with Mike, Pete was one of the gym teachers at Addams Middle School. Often he would take a situation way too seriously (such as this particular moment), but Emmy still liked him. He was sweet. She looked over the rest of crew: Theresa, of course, with her long brown hair, paunchy little belly, and warm, inviting smile; Mike and Pete, both fit, both wearing identical athletic pants that swished loudly every time they moved; and Paul- older, more experienced as a person. And seemingly knowledgable of everything before their occurrence.   

Friday, February 25, 2011

On Day One

“I bet this is what heaven looks like.”
The statement is received with a standard rolling of the eyes that I would expect from the boy sitting next to me. My nonsensical outburst is meant to sound sweet- childlike; however, I can tell that my literal-minded fiancĂ© finds it extremely morbid. I look up again at the unusually violet sky, riddled with impossibly opaque puffs of white cotton. Unreal. This whole day has seemed different than most…a beginning.
Like any other Tuesday, I awoke to my clock radio belting out the sounds of the “70s, 80s, 90s, and today!” Gruesome. I flipped the knob to off, unconsciously swinging my bare toes onto the cold wood floor. The sudden departure from my cozy feather comforter sent a chill up to my earlobes. It was as though my feet had never before experienced a change in temperature. Eerie.
A mediocre day ensued, yet each experience- a dull “good morning” from an even duller coworker, the smell of my microwaved, “gourmet” lunch, even the spectacular view of the dumpster out my peephole of a window seemed, impossibly, new.
Even currently, as I peer out the passenger side of my fiancĂ©’s Civic, at the smattering of shadows created by oversized and un-manicured pine trees, I sigh loudly. The boy turns to me with half a smile.
“Yeah, it’s probably something like this.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

All About Me

Since I had a narcissistic need to blab on and on about myself for a bit, I have decided to add an “All About Me” tab to the blog (go ahead and click it- you won't regret it). Shortly thereafter, I added the “Short Stories” tab to re-record some of my more story-like posts (all have them have links back to the originals if you'd like to comment).

My problem is that there are three lonely tabs up there- what other pages should I add? I don't do reviews or giveaways, so I have no need to list those or to add a disclosure statement.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Circa July 2009- an indication of what was to be?

Tantrums are inevitable with any toddler. The frequency can differ, yes, but even the most well-behaved child on the planet will eventually break down into screeches and wails at times (usually somewhere public- you know, for giggles-sake).

My child will throw herself onto the floor shrieking when I dare to shut the refrigerator door, or (*gasp*) refuse to turn on Dora for her.

Overall, however, Avery has been on the agreeable end of the spectrum, often forgoing a sobbing fit for any distraction at all (My personal favorite? Animal crackers. Works every time).

Nonetheless, she has more recently begun to be rather, um, shall we say- petulant- in some situations.

Example #1: At a catered dinner with a large crowd at my in-laws abode, Avery grabbed the large plate of (red-sauce smothered) food that I had painstakingly cut up into tiny pieces, threw it onto the living-room floor, screamed “NO!” at the top of her lungs (just in case there was one person that wasn't turned around to look at this point), then proceed to stomp through it in anger.

Example #2: During the free-play time after a library program, Avery had accumulated several toys at her spot. She then decided that a stuffed animal (that I'm pretty sure a little boy had brought from home) would make an excellent addition to her collection. Stomping over toward the child like a snorting bull, Avery tried to grab Barney the Dinosaur out of his hands. He was older and stronger, though, so she couldn't grasp it. Yelling “SHARE!” (which she apparently thinks means, “Gimme all your stuff”) and then falling to the ground in a tearful rage, she caused such a commotion that all the other parents were staring at me. I choked out a quiet “sorry,” then slipped out.

Example #3: While grocery shopping, I made the mistake of wheeling my lovely child down the baby aisle to pick up some diapers. Whomever the diabolical barbarian is who designs the lane item displays is a complete jerk, because in order to get to said diapers, one must pass a throng of frivolous toys that appeal most to children who have been imprisoned in the front of a grocery cart for 45 minutes. Needless to say, Avery caused another scene, this time by pointing furiously and screaming “ELMO!” and crying when I sped past the Sesame Street block set as quickly as possible. The only thing that would calm her down was opening up the bag of goldfish crackers from the cart and allowing her to consume a good portion.

Is this an early showing of what the “terrible 2's” are going to be like?
Who, me?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bloggy Block

In an effort to replace yesterday's post with something a bit more up-beat, I have decided that I must write something today.

What I should write about remains the issue at hand.

Let's see- what did I do today? Ah, yes. Avery and I went to a mommy-and-me gymnastics class in a studio that is designed for toddlers to run around, jump on the trampolines, and play with the parachute.

Though it should be an amazing time for my little one, whose two besties are in the class with us, she choses instead to clam up, then scream and cry whenever the instructor comes near her. It's a thrill a minute.

Yesterday... let's see. Oh yeah, Kyle and I met some friends and ate our body weight in sushi. It wasn't pretty. We then went to the mall so that hubby could buy another suit. He likes to look debonaire, what can I say?

View from the back of the mall stroller: "Do not put child in bag."  Is this really a problem?
Going to pick out suits with a toddler who all of a sudden has the energy level of an erupting volcano while hot saki is coursing through one's veins and causing severe exhaustion is torture. But he got a good deal- and that's what really matters.

Monday, February 21, 2011


It has been surmised in the Kubler-Ross model that grief is shown in a progression of five stages: denial (“Everything is fine...”), anger (“How could this have happened? Who is to blame?”), bargaining (I will give anything for him to come back for just one more day!”), depression (“It is horrible that this happened- why bother with anything at this point?”), and, finally, acceptance (“What's done is done. I need to move on.”).

As I have experienced, however, this doesn't seem to be the case.

In the recent case of a family member's sudden death, each person grieved differently- from holding everything deep inside to keeping as busy as possible. The emotions that each individual had were so diverse: hopelessness, distress, anger, disbelief, compliance...

Set stages of grief were not involved as each person's personality is so different.

My point is that it's just so unclear how one supports those who are mourning, because the process is so diverse. Whereas some people just need to be alone, there are many who need the comfort of people around them often.

Do we honor a person's memory by participating in activities that had once made him happy?

Do we take time to consider how life will be so incredibly different now that he's gone?

Do we just... move on?

So I pose this question to my wonderful readers: how do you handle grief and sadness? How do you wish you handled it? What are your thoughts on supporting, comforting, and encouraging those who you love as they grieve?

I so look forward to your comments- I guess putting it into words is how I grieve.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the News... Pennsylvania Teacher Natalie Munroe is Suspended for Writing a Personal Blog

There have definitely been moments during my life that I've been frustrated by those around me, especially at work (where you are thrown into a situation with people who you didn't necessarily “choose” as friends), and most especially as a teacher. Kids do and say hurtful things sometimes.

It is frustrating when they don't retain simple information.

And why is it nearly impossible to turn in an assignment THE DAY IT'S DUE!

That said, having seen news accounts of Natalie Munroe, a Pennsylvania high school teacher who was suspended (with pay) for blog posts that revealed her true feelings for the students, parents, and administration of her school, I found myself asking, why did you become a teacher?

To read some of the press on Munroe, you can go here, here, or here.

Opposers of my opinion may argue that Munroe's blog was created as her online journal- a place to vent about her dissatisfaction (or contentment... she discussed her “cute, spring-inspired outfit” in one of her posts) with her job or life in general. Can the administration (those that she refers to as a**holes) really see fit to fire her based on her own anger and profanity-laden assertions?


Though she didn't refer to any student by name, calling these children “dunderheads,” “complainers,” and “weird” can cause a massive dent in the esteem of the class as a whole, the exact opposite of what a teacher is supposedly setting out to do.

When a student does not turn in an assignment, perhaps one of the thoughts that goes through a teacher's mind is “lazy kid- just do the work!” In actuality, however, there may be many reasons why it is difficult for said student to turn in a project, essay, or homework. It is up to the trained adult in the situation to consider why.

Is there a pattern to this behavior?
Is there something going on at home?
Does this child have a special need for a different system?

Oftentimes, laziness has nothing to do with it at all.

I think all parents have the expectation that their children will be shown tolerance when at school all day, and that is why this story is so disturbing. Hopefully, the majority of people will realize that this is one person who does not represent the thoughts and feelings of all educators.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Love Story for the Ages

The most legendary love stories do their best to document a man and a woman's struggle to deal with a conflict or overcome a formidable tragedy. Romeo and Juliet had feuding families to handle (which didn't really work out for them). Rapunzel was stuck in a freaking tower. Princess Aurora had an evil witch's spell to contend with. I had to dog-sit on the first evening that Kyle asked me to accompany him to a concert.

Like most real love stories, ours doesn't pretend to be more than what it was. Meeting for the first time at a bar since seeing each other briefly as children, I noticed that he and I shared the same cell phone. We conversed for a moment or two about that coincidence, then went on our way.

After that, we saw each other more often, since we had mutual friends. After a couple of weeks, Kyle called. “I know it's last minute, but I just got two tickets to the Bruce Springsteen concert at Shea tomorrow night. I know you had said that you like music, so I was just wondering if you wanted to go. You know... with me.”
I would love to! Oh wait- crap. I'm supposed to go over and feed my family friend's dog that night. What time?”
We went back and forth, trying to figure out how I could do both, but it was no use.

Either Lucky was going to starve, or The Boss was going to have one less fan that evening.

I regretfully hung up the telephone in the kitchen and frowned at my mom, who was wiping down the counter, pretending not to listen. “What happened?”
I relayed the sad story to her, and she nodded. “You know, if you drop your little sister off at the house to take care of the pup, I'll pick her up later on.”
Do you think she'd do that?” I asked as excitedly as a 14-year old girl who'd just made JV cheerleading.
Just tell her you'll give her 10 bucks. She's fifteen- do you really think she has other plans?”
Mom was right. Maggie eagerly accepted the offer to hang out at the Smith's house for a couple hours in exchange for enough cash to buy several packs of Topps trading cards (she was always a bit of a tomboy).

Now I only had to be concerned about the date itself:
What would we talk about? What were his intentions? Most importantly, what would I wear?

Fast forward to that sublime night, October 3, 2003... My memory is a little fuzzy (mostly due to the bottle of Captain Morgan that we were sharing prior to the concert), but I remember talking in the car without pause as we sat in two hours worth of traffic on the way into Shea Stadium, stopping at a pizza place for a emergency pit stop, burning a hole into the roof of his (brand new) car with a cigarette, turning around to kiss him during “Born to Run,” screaming, laughing, and dancing with the rest of the crazy fans, driving into the city to take a carriage ride through central park, and falling completely, ridiculously, stupidly in love.

So, there it is- a Valentine's love story. Though it lacks some of the obstacles and the intrigue that are present in some of the more renowned classics, ours is the greatest romance to me. I'm able to look back and BE in those moments that I consider some of the best in my life.

Love does not have to be difficult. Love does not have to forever be a compromise. And with real-life love, there needn't be any witches, trolls, or fairy godmothers.

And love, as I have come to find out, is beyond definition.

So, what is your love story?  I'd love to know- either comment or share a link to a post about it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

What is Love?

When I was a tyke, my friend Jill and I came up with a song that expressed lyrics to the world (well, to our parents who were forced to listen- and videotape- all of our *charming* ballads) that questioned the reality of that reclusive, yet sublime sensation: “What is love? Wh-wh-wh- what is love? What is love all about? What can I do to find out? I wanna know what it's all about. Tell me now- I wanna know what love is...”

Needless to say, Jill and I did not end up as famous performers or songwriters, yet even as I sit here today, the same inquiries invade my mind: What is love? I know that I have it with my husband, my daughter, my family; I know that I would swim in a vat of dead rodents for them if need be, but actually defining the emotion in words seems impossible to me.

As that eminent day approaches, I scoured the internet in search of the various definitions of the word, in order to get a better idea:

  • have a great affection or liking for (I have great affection for Taco Bell- but do I love it? )
  • to be enamored with (I am completely enamored by each actor on Modern Family- but is it love?)
  • a score of zero in tennis or squash (romantic- I know)
  • to get pleasure from (Oo-la-la)

Alright- perhaps these definitions weren't exactly what I was looking for. I'll just leave it up to the experts:
  • One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” ~Sophocles
  • We love because it's the only true adventure.” ~Nikki Giovanni
  • Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.” ~Robert Mitchum
  • Love makes your soul crawl out of its hiding place.” ~Zora Neale Hurston


Since I'm still pretty unsure about the definition of what love actually is, I will pose this question to you:

What is love?

p.s.- Ever since I wrote the question I can't seem to get the car scene from “Night at the Roxbury out of my head.

p.p.s.- I just set up a facebook page for this here site. Don't forget to “like” me! Click the button on the right -->

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Important Read for Anyone Who's a Mom (or anyone who has ever wondered what we do all day)

What did you do today?”

It is a question that my husband usually asks when he gets home from work every evening. A question that I have to think hard about, trying to determine what I've accomplished in the past 9 hours.

Well, I... uh, I ran some errands, did some laundry, you know...” I struggle to come up with an answer, yet I know I haven't had more then a few minutes of “down-time” throughout the day. What did I do? And why am I struggling to keep my eyes open at 9:30 pm?

I feel like I need to consider a typical day in my life to figure out what I am spending all my time doing. So, let's look at yesterday.

I woke up at 7 am (a luxury, I know, since I used to wake up for work at 5) to the dog standing on my chest, her hot, abominable breath in my face. Kyle and I threw the covers off, he fed the dogs, and I got the baby, who was singing (quite beautifully, may I say) in her crib. Little things, like changing her diaper, making her breakfast, bath, change clothes, brushing her teeth and hair, then getting myself together brought us to about...

9:15- Put on our outside gear and ran to the car. Drove to the gym and dropped Avery off at the nursery. Did a little cardio, some exercises, picked her up, and drove home. By this time it was...

11:15- Avery went down for a nap immediately. Thankfully she's a really good sleeper. I showered and got ready for the day, ate lunch, checked my email, made a dinner plan for the week, printed out the grocery list, looked through the coupons, cleaned off the kitchen counters, and folded some laundry. Just then, I heard Avery calling me from her room. “Mom!!!”

1:30- After a nice long nap, my little lady wanted some lunch. I made her a turkey a cheese sandwich. Instead of eating it herself, she decided to throw it to the dog, who promptly ingested the snack in one gulp. I cut up some leftover chicken. “No...” she said sweetly and pushed it away. I gave her some yogurt, which she ate half of, pouring the remainder on her shirt and pants. I changed her clothes.

3:00- We put coats and boots on again. I filled my purse up with various snacks, gave Avery a cup of milk, and dashed out to the car. I gave her the dollies that I had stuck under my arm on the way out, which made her giggle. We played some children's music and set off for Stop and Shop. It only took 15 minutes to get there (it's one mile away), so I considered myself ahead of the game. Though Avery wasn't a fan at first of being confined to the front of the grocery cart, I gave her some goldfish and she piped right down. We traversed the produce section, wandered the likes of every aisle, and scoured the shelves for the items on my list. Check out is always the most difficult, because it takes a while and Avery is not being entertained anymore. As per usual, I had to open up a box of Cheerios to distract her. She flung them at people as they walked by. I pretended not to notice.

4:45- We pulled up to our house, my head throbbing from listening to “Baby Beluga” for the eighth straight time. I set Avery up at the computer to play a game, then brought the seemingly endless amount of bags into the house, put them away, then fed the dogs.

5:30- I began preparing dinner for Avery (which I knew would be fruitless, considering the quantity of snacking she had done in the past few hours), who was now drawing on her easel in the other room. I sat her down to eat and sat down next to her at the table, breathing for what seemed like the first time since noon.

6:15- I turned on Dora for Avery, then sat down at the computer to write. A half hour later, Kyle walked in (I think he may have suspected that I had been sitting on the computer since that morning...). “Hey! Did you guys have a nice day?”

7:00- I began preparing dinner, Avery went to bed at 7:30 (hubby was nice enough to put her in), and we ate on the couch while watching the Superbowl Glee episode that was taped from the night before.

8:15- Kyle and I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. The day was officially finished.

8:30- Kyle turned to me and asked, “So, what did you do today?”

I racked my brain. “I went grocery shopping.”

p.s. My friend recently sent me this forward, which prompted me to write this.
Click for a larger view

Monday, February 7, 2011

Adventure in the DR: Part III-B

The Departure

With a crash that reverberated throughout the entire bus, the door slammed shut and I closed my eyes briefly to daydream about the wonderful familiarity of the home that I was returning to. Avery's big smile and genuine laugh, the smell of hot, cheesy pizza out of the oven, even the white blanket of snow that covered our front yard, begging to be played in...

These thoughts in my head were cut short, however, when I felt a bump and heard an entire bus full of people cry “Whoo!” in unison. Opening my eyes, I discovered the dirt road that we had travelled to get here lay before us.

Everything okay?” I questioned to Kyle as he sat unusually upright next to me.

Yeah.. it's, uh, fine. Maybe we shouldn't have chosen the front two seats for this excursion though.”

I scrambled in a feeble attempt at finding some sort of seatbelt.

It's no use. I looked already,” he informed me.

Oh. Okay. How long does this trip to the airport take again?”

He responded instantly, as if this were something that he, too, had been thinking about. “It's 35 miles. So with these tumultuous roads and at this rate of a few kilometers per hour, we should make it there by next week.”


I racked my brain for something else to discuss. “Do you think Avery will remember us?”

I- oh crap...”

I looked forward through the dusty windshield. We approached another bus labeled Zip-Line Tours, which had no seats and everyone who stood inside the vehicle was holding on to leather loop-handles for dear life. We were so close to the tour bus in front of us that I was able to see the greenish skin tone of the majority of the passengers. For about a mile, we remained nearly attached to the back of it, and I was biting my lower lip so hard that I started to taste blood.

Releasing my eyes from the spectacle before me for a moment to glance over at the driver, I saw him holding not one cellphone, but two; one in each of his hands. He was driving the 40-passenger coach bus with his knee.

I smacked Kyle in the arm and motioned towered the man with my chin. “I should've known.” Just then the driver shifted gears and honked his horn. Our bus careened past the other and the transporters waved to each other. Ahh- it was nice that they were all such good buddies.

The entire trip to the airport involved choruses of screams from the folks who were also just trying to make it home alive in back of us, dodging the myriad burros that would suddenly cross our path, and suppressing the butterflies that had taken up residence in my stomach.

I rejoiced and everyone traveling with us clapped when we saw the sign for the aeropuerto. I felt as though we had all bonded through our common fear of a formidable death.

Breaking free of the confines of el autobus, Kyle and I ran over to the baggage compartment, but we were too late. One of the attendants from the airport had already grabbed our bags and was headed for the end of the long line where we would stand, a solid four feet away. Dropping the luggage, he stood leering at us with his hand out. Kyle reluctantly tipped him a few bucks and we took the handles up ourselves to take our place among the other cattle that were shoving their way toward the gate.

A mere 3 hours later (nursing a horrific stomach ache that was largely due to the scorchingly hot chicken sandwich that I had consumed while standing up at the food court), we stood in line outside our gate, ready to be escorted to the Jet Blue flight that would take us back home. After what seemed like countless hours of us standing there, we finally began to walk. We walked. And we walked. Then we walked a little more. Finally, in the distance, Kyle spotted our plane and pointed to the last aircraft on the tarmac. “Is that really it? Jeez...”

We finally made it, and as the entire plane full of people wiped the perspiration from their collective brow and climbed the staircase to sit in their airplane seats, which at this point all felt like first class to our sore tushies, I breathed a sigh of relief. We were almost home. Finally.

Landing, getting through JFK in one piece, and the drive back home all kind of blur together. What I remember most of all from our trip home was seeing Avery again after being away for a week. The joy was immeasurable, and I was so incredibly excited to get back into the “normal” routine with her. Perhaps it wasn't such a bad thing to be Mom again.

Just as long as Kyle promises to whip out the “It's my pleasure” line once in a while. I've grown very fond of it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Adventure in the DR: Part III

The Departure

Briefly escaping the ruthless north-eastern winter, with its treacherous and icy frigidity, was enough of a reason for this to be a superb getaway, but combined with fantastic weather, beautiful beaches, and 24-hour drink service, the overall experience was... perfect.
A picture that Kyle took of alcohol at one of the bars.  I believe that it's because one of the bottles says "Bols."  The maturity of the male species never ceases to amaze me.

Alas, it was time to leave and go back to where I was to be referred to as “MOM!!!” instead of “ma'am.”

Where I would be asked “What's for dinner?” as opposed to “What can I get for you?”

Ugh- fine,” rather than “It's my pleasure.”

As we checked out and said adios to sun, sand, and CraigRuss, I turned and looked back at the grand lobby, with its gorgeous marble tiles, gilded birdcages, and cascading fountains. It would indeed be quite an adjustment to return to a household overcome with baby toys and dog hair...
On the left, food... On the right, a river that I almost fell in every night.

Gathering up our over-stuffed suitcases, we walked toward the bus that would serve as transportation for our journey back to the miniscule airport. Quizzically, I regarded the immensity of the shuttle. “How in the world is a vehicle this size going to fit down these narrow little streets?” I nervously giggled as I whispered to Kyle. He nodded-stunned and disturbed himself- in response. Recalling the bumpy and nauseating ride here, I chose two seats up front, where I could gaze out the windshield to try to avoid the inevitable motion sickness that I could feel rumbling about even before our drive began.

Tomorrow's installment: The Departure, ~B~

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adventure in the DR: Part Deux

The first morning that I woke up in Punta Cana was bitter-sweet. Though I was excited to embark on the hotel's buffet breakfast, I couldn't help but acknowledge the pain that was beginning to befall the length of my right leg. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and peered at my calf, knee, and thigh; a racing stripe of bright red sunburn had appeared since yesterday. The good news was that I was able to see that sunscreen actually does work when applied to every inch of your body- just remember not to miss any spots...

Mr. Excellence
That day our party of four had the distinct opportunity to meet CraigRuss (I have no idea if that is his actual name, but this is what he became known as to us). Stumbling over on the beach, he laughed as he slurred, “I don't usually drink that much... but they just keep bringing us cocktail after cocktail... this bartender is CRAZY... where are you guys from?” After we told him, he exclaimed, “We live pretty close to yous guys too! When are you here 'til?” I hate this question, because it forces me to consider our time of departure. Anyway, did he think that if we'd be here a while maybe we can do lunch? We told him that we were leaving next Saturday. He nodded, then stared at us uncomfortably and walked away. This was not, however, our last encounter with CraigRuss.

Although the resort was rather large, we seemed to see CraigRuss (who didn't remember speaking to us on the beach, and just ignored us completely- fine by me) at every turn. No matter where we were sitting- pool, beach, restaurant, bar- he was just THERE.

One thing about this hotel (and probably many others) was that you had to get up pretty early to get the seats you wanted at the pool, so one of us would get up at 6 or 6:30 every morning to secure four lounge chairs under huts by our rooms. At around noon, Kyle and I were laying in the sun, drying off from a dip in the water when Mrs. CraigRuss began dragging her lounge chair toward the little hut that we'd secured 6 hours earlier. “Umm, excuse me, but we were using that...”
Oh. Fine.” She made a face, dropped the chair she'd been scraping across the ground, and skulked away.
I made a decision not to ever move an inch away from the shade, lest she try to steal it away again.
As the days unfolded, I came to find out that she was a perfect counterpart to her husband.
The woman tried to steal my shade!

As evening approached a couple days later, the four of us compadres were enjoying a pre-dinner toddy and snack in the lounge by our room. The few others who assembled in the room were very quiet, and the atmosphere was calming and tranquil. That is until the arrival of CraigRuss.
The sound of his voice cut through the silence like a rusty hatched- booming, and yet a little whiny. His voice cracked several times as he screamed, “THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I PAYED FOR THIS VACATION? (apparently he didn't know about the 10% discount offered by American Express) HOW COME I CAN'T GET ON THE INTERNET? WHAT KIND OF PLACE IS THIS?” There were some muffled apologies from the concierge who was taking this verbal abuse from the insolent buffalo downstairs. “THAT'S IT- I WANT TO SPEAK TO THE MANAGER OF THIS OPERATION, AND NOT THE RESTAURANT MANAGER, EITHER. I WANT TO SPEAK TO... MR. EXCELLENCE HIMSELF!” (It is important to note that the name of the resort we were staying in was “The Excellence”).
We all looked at each other with wide eyes, then we started laughing. “Mr. Excellence? Really?”

The final installment of the CraigRuss saga came toward the end of our trip, as we were all, again, gathered in the lounge.
This feels awesome,” Kyle stretched on the leather sofa, drink in hand. “The only thing that would make it better would be if CraigRuss were here.” We all giggled.
Don't look now, but your prayers have been answered.”
In he strutted: short-sleeved button-down shirt, jeans, and no shoes. A picture of class.
Just then, the boys decided that they would be funny. Loudly, they conversed so CraigRuss could hear, “How's your WiFi been doing?”
Surprisingly well. I can't believe I've been able to use my iPad down at the beach this whole time without any problems.”
I sunk down in the couch, hoping that it would swallow me whole.
Yeah... It's amazing on an island such this that the internet is still so accessible.”
I truly wanted to die.
Hubby and I enjoying (yet another) cocktail

Another Snowstorm
Strangely enough, the news that broadcast into our room each morning was the local New York affiliate station, so we were able to see what was going on at home all the time (not that I wanted to, but Kyle refused to watch Saved by the Bell on TBS each morning while getting ready). The story came about the impending snow storm within a couple of days of our stay.

Now obsessively glued to the TV screen, Kyle was getting up-to-the-minute coverage of the storm by the minute, while the sun, and strawberry daiquiris, waited for us outside. “Come on! It doesn't even affect us!” I would whine, pulling him out the door.

As it turns out, I was kinda wrong (this happens, unfortunately, all too frequently).

The day before our traveling companions were set to leave (we were staying for a couple days after them), they checked their departure status online (since the internet worked so well, CraigRuss), only to discover that their flight had already been cancelled. Not awaiting further notice. Not delayed. Cancelled.

In all due fairness, this was not the worst place in the world to get stranded, however they had to even find out if there was “room at the inn,” so to speak.
As it turned out, they were able to remain in the hotel for the night, for an astronomical amount of money, and they were forced to change rooms. C'est la vie.

Who can be mad while sipping pina coladas at the beach, anyway?

It took us 15 minutes and 4 people to determine which was women's and which was men's

Coming soon, Part III: The Departure. How we survived, I'm not quite so sure.
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