Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mother of Invention....

Necessity is the mother of invention, but I am the mother of a few great ideas. Most don’t actually make it to the development phase. After a frantic scribble on the back of a Dora coloring book or in the dirt on the side of my car, my entrepreneurial mojo is often spent. But, on occasion, when inspiration is not depleted by perspiration, and when what might be referred to as a “pen” is within arm’s reach, I document my ideas the way most geniuses do: on cocktail napkins.

Sometimes, I mail these off to my old college roommate, a former venture capitalist who knows a great idea when she hears one.

A category to which mine do not actually belong, apparently.

The first, and perhaps most inspired idea, came to my husband and me after a five hour trip to Arizona, during which we were starved, ridiculed, and made to feel like idiots. And, that was just by the flight attendants. If my daughter hadn’t gotten a bloody nose, a benign predicament that thankfully produced enough mess to look like something far worse, we’d have never caught a break from the judgmental scowls aimed our way. Or gotten to use the bathroom.

And, thus was born:

Tot Air: the airline for families with children, where the flight attendants are dressed like Elmo, food carts spilleth over with juice boxes and cheese sticks, luggage is no longer an eight letter word, and Nick Jr. is continuously broadcast at a frequency perceptible only to those under eleven. It was a great idea, my roommate said. But, there was one problem with this concept for an airline.

It was an airline.

No problem. The family on-the-go doesn’t need its own bankrupt airline to make life easier. How about simply some improved snack options?

Such as.....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

...Of Life and Death

We arrived in Florida too late and just in time. Just in time to see my Grandmother, so frail, so weak, and still, somehow, so strong. Perhaps some of you have seen a loved one in the final days of their life, but I had not. Life and death hovered. For all the pain, and relinquishing of the body’s strength, there was still a mystifying power present in the slow act of dying.

The power, if I can call it that, was over time itself. Eighty-five years of life, 31,025 days, flowed back again.

At first the pain suppressed her memories. “Let me just go to sleep so I can die,” was the only phrase I heard the first day I saw her.

But, later, with hospice-after my mother’s fierce insistence that whatever pain my grandmother was in needed to be addressed-after this excruciating physical pain eased, her mind was free. And, it floated to moments in her life she loved.

Dancing. Playing with her brothers. Meeting her husband. And, a trip, in her teens, when she rode to the 1939 World’s Fair. “The car held six,” she told me, “and I was the seventh.”

Unable to get out of bed, but still able to set up a joke.

“How does it happen?” she asked the Hospice nurse.

“How does what happen?”

He knew what she meant, but he did not have the answer. The metaphor of the day was “journey.” She was going on one.

To an undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.

We were with her, still, in this world, but she belonged to another one, too. One we felt because it surrounded her, but one that did not need us. The mystical aura made the body seem irrelevant. It was failing, but it was no longer in charge.

Release. Her spirit just needed to be released.

“How can I have a weak heart...” she asked, wondering how she could have so many medical ailments and still be so strong. How can the body be ready to die and not relent?

Maybe for moments—those few ones we got—when she spoke of her youth. A name. A year. A secret cigarette in New York City.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Going Naked to Disney World

We’re heading to Florida on a long overdue visit to my relatives. It will be good for my little ones to see their great grandparents, but of course there are a few other characters they are intent of seeing while we’re near Orlando: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty—maybe even Minnie. Yes, I said the Disney princesses were dressed like sluts in my post last winter, and yes, I really hope we get a picture of them with the kids.

Hypocrisy, thy name is mother.

What am I to do? Even my intellectual father jumped at the chance to join us in Disney World when he heard we’d be going. There’s something about the Magic Kingdom that makes fools of us all.

I mentioned Disney World to a friend who’d done the trip last year. She sat me down slowly and explained in hushed tones the different princess breakfasts. This woman has degrees from two Ivy League schools.

I put out a request on facebook for tips. Friends sent notes longer than the new Health Care bill, and far more ambitious.

Arrive at the gates early, pack your own food, bring a stroller, rent a stroller, do the second princess breakfast, by no means attempt Epcot, be prepared for lines, and, from the Stroller Queen, when I interviewed her for the post on Bugaboo—bring a lock. Either there are thieves trolling the place, or the seven dwarfs are tired of walking.

I called our hotel recently to double check on the crib I’d reserved. It’s a Disney Resort hotel, so as I sat on hold for twenty minutes they played music from the B side of It’s a Small World. The high pitched, squeaky, repetitive tunes nearly drove me loony until I handed over the phone to my four year old, who took the assignment with delight.

Finally, a human picked up and I confirmed the crib. The woman in reservations checked other details and discovered that the dates of birth for my children had been flip-flopped. She corrected the error, thanked me, and then asked for a credit card so she could charge me $15.

To correct an error?

On the date of birth of two guests?

Yes.

I was changing my reservation within forty-five days of arrival.

I asked to speak with a supervisor and she put me on hold.

More music.

It was then that I decided we’d be going naked to Disney World. Naked, as in: in-the-raw. No guidebook, no notes, no maps with highlighted routes, and rain contingencies. I’m not packing a cooler, or strapping a camel water pack to my back, or freebasing packets of electrolytes the morning of.