Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Mournful Bleatings of a Former Middle Class Dreg

"Jesus, if I have to see one more person writing their vacation to do lists or bitching about how hard it is to come back from a vacation, I'm going to fucking cancel my Facebook account and never turn on the computer again.  Shit.  When was the last time we took a vacation?  Not work, not visits to family, but a real vacation?  2006?"

"Was that the year we went to D.C. before we went to Indiana and Illinois to visit family?"


"Oh, lighten up, Lucy.  Your whole life is a vacation.  Just ask your dad.  Now how about getting out and applying for that job at McDonands he keeps talking about."

Some days the thing that really makes this marriage work is the ability to put the other person swiftly and precisely into their place.  When we are kind, it's done with humor.  When we're ready to take out the long knives, not so much.  The truth is, MathMan knows how to get at that deep, dark, ugly place inside me, make me look at it, poke it with a stick, and then bury it back where it belongs until next time.  It's when we deny that that ugly nugget exists that we get into our horrible scrapes.

He neither indulges nor discourages me when I'm being petulant and whiny.  He shoves, lures, cajoles me beyond it so that I can be less self-pitying and like myself just a bit.  Sometimes to his peril.  He's good for me.  The bastard.

If ever I'm standing on the ledge, please get MathMan.  He, to his credit and his everlasting regret, I suspect, knows what makes me tick.  And he knows my preferred chocolate (cheap), wine (Malbec) and ice cream flavor (chocolate marshmallow).

So it's true.  I've been a bit resentful of the social media exposure I've had to other people's fabulous lives and disposable income.  It's made me chew the inside of my cheek and push back from the keyboard on more than one occasion when I want to lash out. 

But then, I thought no.  We're here because of the mistakes we've made, the bad decisions, the drama I have introduced into the fold.  Suck it up, sister.  Deal. And then I read Betsy Lerner's take on vacations and am reminded that I'm a lot like her.  The idea of a vacation is one thing.  The execution of that idea is something else entirely.  No matter where I go, the compulsion to have things just so, the annoying sighs, the short fuse, they all get packed right along with my smelly sandals and that pretty shawl I never take out and wear because I've never worn a shawl in my life.  They don't go well with the cargo shorts, do they?  Even I know that.

So what if you can't actually take a vacation?  That's what books are for!  They transport you.  Well, at least they used to.  Why not stop feeling sorry for yourself and give it a whirl?

Turns out the still do transport.  I picked up Ayelet Waldman's Red Hook Road at the library last week.  I've never been to Maine, but I'd like to go there.  Why not visit through this novel?  If you can overlook the main premise of the story (death of newlyweds, a real downer), it's got those elements that do take me out of my own dreary housewifery and transports me to the salty air and sandy beaches of coastal Maine where I can sail and listen to the seagulls and eat fresh lobster while wearing a swimsuit without the slightest hint of self-consciousness. 

Anyway, I'll be writing a review of it as soon as I'm finished reading it.  It's time to cut the ties binding my to the computer and read.

Before I go, I thought I'd share with you another of life's tiny ironies.  I decided to follow Ayelet Waldman on Twitter.  She tweets almost daily.  And, of course, this week, just when I decide to follow her, she and her husband Michael Chabon and their children are.......on vacation.

Do you take mental vacations?  What are you reading to escape?  When you close your eyes, where do you "vacation?"  And go on - tell me about your favorite vacation, if you'd like.  I can take it.


  1. Gardens and books always feel like a vacation to me. I'm going to put some roses from my neighborhood up on facebook for you right now. These are the same ones I just emailed to Laura Munson--she's asking for barn photos but we don't have barns here so I sent these roses instead.

  2. Thank you, Susan. The roses are gorgeous!

  3. I'm beginning to think that some people only live their life so that they have something to post on Facebook. I'm starting to really dislike some of those people. I mean, if you go on a cruise, fine. Go! Enjoy yourself! But please don't post daily photos of yourself by the pool, drink in hand, a lovely Caribbean sunset in the background. Because all this hourly posing for photos seems to indicate that you are not actually experiencing the wonderful place you are visiting. And I would happily trade places with you and never take a picture of it at all.

    Sorry. Ranting there. Another person who sorely needs a vacation! (In case of emergency: dark; pinot grigio; mint chocolate chip.)

  4. Truthfully, I haven't been on a vacation in literally decades. I used not to care, now I just wanna move so I still don't care. I range from euphoria to depression in seconds some days. Keep on keepin' on. This too shall pass. You'll look back and laugh? Any of this workin' for ya?

  5. Agreed. Books do have the power to transport. Nothing more annoying than people complaining about their vacations. . oh, actually, this is what's more annoying. People complaining about how much they have to pay in taxes! Ha!

  6. I have to admit, Mathman is a pretty smart fellow. Of course, he has his own rants, as do I, as do we all.

    Getting a job at McDonald's might be a bad idea for you. I can see you standing behind the counter, describing to the customers just what it is that they're eating. :-)

  7. Does MathMan ever wish there was a MathLand? Imagine, giant foam fractions roaming the earth! Actually, that sounds pretty cool.

    Mental vacations? I interrupted one so I could grace your blog with my comment. Hope you're happy.

    Bookery? Celtic Minded and Alice Beyond Wonderland.

    Where? Gay Paree, bien sûr.

    I went to DC in 1984 as a wee lad. Not my favorite, but I remember details of that, unlike Disneyworld in 1978. Though both were fucking humid beyond all normalcy.

  8. I haven't been on what normal people consider a vacation since I was about 12 when my parents stopped renting the northern Ontario lake cottage as a holiday away from our southern Ontario lake house. I have pictures of my dad and me and my mam and me standing in front of a teepee wearing imitation Iroquois feathered headdresses they let you borrow for pictures.. but you had to bring your own Brownie.

    Ever since those days I've been lots of places but almost always new places to live and work for a while. Come to think of it there have been trips but always with a goal in mind and not just for spacing out. Reading is my essential escape and right now I'm rereading one from my old collection before it gets packed with the others for the next move. It's by James Hillman and Michael Ventura published in 1992 but even truer to day than it was then. It's called: 'We've Had 100 Years of Psychotherapy and Things Are Getting Worse'. It's a great read - honest :-)

  9. Sometimes I go to other places (usually family-related other places). Sometimes I dress up and leave the house. Sometimes I do that sedentary time/space travel stuff (reading a book).

    I haven't (other than for cons) gone to a strange city and just explored in years.


  10. I'm not sure why we take vacations because we mostly use them to read. Speaking of reading, I read Michael Chabon's book on Manhood (read about it here) when we are away last week. Loved it. He talks a bit about his wife's bipolar depression in the book but then you knew that. (Do you think they went to Maine?)

    Remember: for every vacation, there are 6 to 24 hours spent in airport hell. When we were in Gatwick last week we actually had to be evacuated from the terminal because of a FIRE ALARM.

  11. Since we're sharing: milk, Gewurtztraminer, and pistachio. ;) We've been on a perpetual "staycation" (how I hate that word!!) for years now, and the next break we take will be to Romania so I can finally meet my new in-laws -- provided we can afford it. My wanderlust side feels ignored and petulant sometimes, and I have a serious case of ocean envy that I try not to indulge. It's been four years since I've even heard the waves... sigh.

    My mother retires tomorrow from the place she's worked for 30 years. I can't remember the last time she took a real vacation, and my sis and I and some friends scrounged up our last dimes to buy her and dad a little jaunt to a cabin in the mountains as a celebratory hurrah. What does she tell me last night on the phone? "I don't want to go anywhere. I just want to sit on the deck and stare at the trees for a while. And maybe sleep for a month." Vacation looks different to everybody, I suppose.

  12. I soooo relate to Sherry -

    I am annoyed by people who go on vacation to lovely wonderful places and come back and bitch about not only coming back but what a horrible time they had... really in Key West you had a horrible time??? Aruba too??? WTF

    I use my vacation days for things like graduations and weddings (of other people) and other family related functions.

    I prefer the staycation - working retail (and yes I thank the gods everyday I have a job) I really don't want to be in a line or around others in lines. (However a nice secluded cabin with a hot tub in the mountains would be nice.) Besides if go on staycation I can also stay naked if I so desire! :)

    Oh my nose and needles are currently stuck in Knitting Lingerie Style - I need a new thong to go with a lovely robe I found recently in the back of my closet.

  13. Hi Lisa,
    Thank for visiting my blog!

    When I read this, I thought it entirely possible you had snuck into my "vacation," taken notes and reported about it like it was a crime scene. I so feel your pain!

    The imagery in your post made me feel like I could touch it, smell it and taste it. You are one talented writer, girl!

    Now, off to read...

  14. I admit to being one of the blessed who gets to go on vacation every year...but, reading a good book is a lot more relaxing.

    Dark; tequila w/ limes; mint chocolate chip.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  15. The last time I was on a trip that didn't involve a business thing or a family obligation was in 2002 - 4 days in Vegas with the kids. Really, once my parents gave up their place in Tahoe, we were priced out of vacations (they were no longer pretty much free.) I do miss those days of the bluest sky and lake and clean air and the ability to drive there!

  16. Iwanski knows just how to get to "that place" in my mind/heart, too--that dark place of selfishness that Miss Healthypants only lets out on not-so-special occasions. :)

    And man, he is GOOD at that! Sometimes it drives me nuts, but like you said about Mathman, Iwanski is good for me. :)

  17. I haven't gone on a vacation for years. Generally do a staycation (hate the word, but it fits). It used to be that getting there was part of the vacation. Now we are treated like criminals in airports, so that's out. Plus planes feel like buses now. Not when I was a kid. What I do is find websites of locals in places I'd like to visit. It's like a trip with every click. And like you I'm an anglophile, so I have a couple of sites to suggest if you are interested.

  18. yeah, a family, or even as a couple...we don't have the time/money/time/planning ability/money to take an actual vacation.

    I love a simple road trip, though, even with no destination. D. and I have this unspoken agreement that road trips are...unspoken. As in we don't speak. We just drive or ride and read or write and DAYDREAM. I swear, I could happily vacation inside my own head for weeks. Sometimes the kids fall asleep (I mean, I'm not confirming the rumors involving Benedryl) and then, for a few hours, life is perfect.

  19. Dark with raspberry center, Prosecco, and plain old vanilla. I know--boring!

    I'm currently reading "Broken" by William Cope Moyers. In the interim, I attempt to brush up on some method and terminology with the Culinary Arts Encyclopedic Cookbook. I'm just a thrill seeker that way! ;)

    Our time off is spent gardening or having relatives come visit. Most of the time that's fun. I usually try to make a trip home each winter, and this year I'll meet a new granddaughter; woot!

    A nice way to escape is to load the dogs into the wagon and make a drive through Turnagain Arm, right by the ocean. The Alaska Railroad is alog this route and you sometimes get to see the train. It's a nice trip. Take a sack lunch and the cost is pretty minimal. Even though we've done this on numerous occasions, the beauty is ever-changing and always seems new.

  20. Paris is too hot in the summer, anyway.

  21. I just finished "Sh*t My Dad Says", and am moving on to "There's a (Slight) Chance I might be going to Hell". I love beach books!

    I take mental vacations to Savannah, GA, Emerald Isle, NC and Penobscot/Aroostook County, Maine.

    When I can afford it (or my father decides it's time for me to Come HOME already), I head back to the last one. So, if you ever decide to escape to Maine, holler. I'll send you to stay with some of my family. My dad is kind of a Father Hen, but in a sweet way.

    He has around 300 blueberry bushes, 200 strawberry plants, random fruit trees and a huge garden that can be explored and picked. The bonus? NO POISONOUS SNAKES. The down side? Moose and wolves.

  22. Lisa, you are a woman after my own heart ... and my socioeconomic status ;-D

    Fair-trade, organic and dark; a certain Chilean red that my husband brought home a couple of weeks ago and I've forgotten the name of, dammit; Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche.

    The last "real" vacation I had was a decade ago. C'est la vie. Now, I take a bath ... read (oh yes!!) ... toodle around online at fave photography sites ... watch a movie ... visit my loves and we share meals, swap stories, and laugh ourselves senseless.

    It's amazing how our perceptions change when our basic structures of living shift around us and sometimes *stay* shifted ...

    Agreed in extremis re: the whinging and whining of plastic people and their vay-cays!!

  23. I vacation in my head ALL THE TIME. Seriously, the life I live in my head is f*cking spectacular. I've been doing it my whole life. Even just reading travel guidebooks and looking at visitor's guides can cure my wanderlust and provide fodder for my fantasies.

    Also, what Sue J wrote. The Facebook vacationers who are doing constant mobile uploads are so annoying. I always want to comment "if you don't update Facebook, did it really happen?"


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