11 July 2009

That's My Daughter

My little girl will be 6 years old in 14 days. And every day she asks me "How many days until my birthday?" Every. day.

She knows she will be six yet her age varies with her mood. For example she was playing with her dolls yesterday and said she was their mom and she'd taken Sophie (her doll) to the Pink Poodle (a hair salon in St. Joe that caters to little girls) because it was her birthday. Sophie turned 6. When I asked Flynn how old she was, since she was Sophie's mom, she replied, "Eighteen."

Which just about gave me a heart attack.

Other days Flynn's content to be five for the time being and she doesn't want to be six.

I know exactly how she feels. Some days I don't want to be 40, but I am. I just can't help it, especially since my birthday was last Monday and I said "Adios, 30's, it was nice knowing you."


It's become something of a tradition for me to make a mix disc for birthday party favors and Flynn and I have been mulling over the choices for her upcoming party, one of which is Loudon Wainwright III's "Daughter" from the Knocked Up soundtrack (I haven't seen the movie, but love the music from it).

After hearing this song, Flynn asked "Can you do that Mommy? Can you get me everything I want for my birthday like the daddy in the song did?"

Uh, no.

But I wish I could pull down the moon for my daughter.

08 July 2009

Shame On You, CNN

OK, so I'm at the gym this morning doing my thing on the elliptical machine; huffing and puffing away and I glance up at the bank of TV's on the wall. The Price Is Right briefly held my attention (somebody should tell Drew Carey that he needs a haircut), I forget what was on the tube next to that but the third one over was tuned to CNN. I was reading the closed captioning and the headlines scrolling along the bottom of the set when they showed a clip from Michael Jackson's memorial service yesterday.

You probably know the clip I'm talking about; Michael's 11-year-old daughter, Paris-Michael, addressed the assembled crowd and millions of people watching around the world. She said she loved her Daddy and missed him very much, then collapsed in tears.

God, how that little girl touched my heart. I know her pain; I know she will have to accept that some questions will go unanswered and she will hurt for a very, very long time. I was amazed she had the wherewithal to speak at all. I did not speak at my father's memorial service; I did not trust my voice.

So after that clip of one distressed, very brave little girl the anchor asks for a CNN poll: "What was your favorite moment of the Michael Jackson memorial?"

That pissed me off and struck me as incredibly crass. Like this memorial service was supposed to be entertaining? It was a tribute to a dead man; a way of honoring his life and a way for his family and fans to say good-bye. Would anybody answer "My favorite part was witnessing a little girl's heartbreak at loosing the only parent she's ever known"?

Did CNN poll viewers for their favorite part of Princess Diana's funeral? What moron would answer "Watching her children cry?"

I did not watch the Michael Jackson memorial, so I don't know what all happened. I've only seen the bit of Paris-Michael. But exploiting this child in the name of a viewer poll is beyond shameless. Her brief statement brought some clarity to this loss. Yes, the public has lost a popular entertainer, but Michael Jackson was more than his public persona. He was a son, a daddy, a friend. My heart goes out to his children.

So, shame on you CNN. Shame. on. you.

01 July 2009

Hit The Road, Lady

This time a week ago I was on the road with my mom and sister headed in a southeasterly direction.

My birthday is less than a week away and this is one of those milestone birthdays; one that begins with a four and ends in a zero. So to commemorate the occasion, we decided to take a road trip, something the three of us had not done together in well over 13 years (and that was a weekend in Cincinnati for a family wedding).

Originally, I wanted to go west to San Francisco's Napa Valley. But after pricing airfare, car rental and hotel accommodations, I decided something within driving range would be more cost effective and we'd have money left over to do stuff like eat somewhere other than Burger King or McDonald's.
After some research, I settled on Asheville, North Carolina home of the famed Biltmore Estate. The Estate has its own winery so that sealed the deal. My husband is allergic to wine so this trip would not have been any fun for him, so it's good that he stayed home.

The Biltmore may be THE attraction in Asheville, but the town is nice enough on its own. I really dig its artsy/artisanal/conservationist/organic/locavore vibe. Several locally owned eateries use ingredients that are either made/grown in and around Asheville or North Carolina in general. And that includes liquor and ice cream. I am now a fan of the French Broad Chocolate Lounge and Posana Cafe. People in Asheville give a damn about their food. And their jewelry; I scored a very cool necklace made from old nickles, a bracelet made from old soda bottle caps, and another bracelet made from old watch faces and dimes.

We stayed at the super cool Grand Bohemian Hotel. I would stay there again in a heartbeat. And their spa was on our floor, just down the hall and around the corner from our room. The massage/body wrap/facial I received was heavenly.

The tour of the Biltmore was pretty neat, if not staggering on a grand scale. It's just massive and completely unexpected and beautiful. The gardens, of which we only saw two, were gorgeous and the aroma of the lavender separating the rose garden from the medicinal garden was heady and intoxicating on the warm, sunny Summer day.We decided not to return home the way we had come; the only other city of interest on the way north is Nashville, Tennessee, a place I'd never been.

The three of us are not fans of country music. Oh sure, when I was a kid my mom took us to Bluegrass concerts (I probably saw Alison Krauss at some point) but contemporary country music (you know, artists like Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, et al) are not my cup of tea. There's not a lot to do in Nashville if you don't like the music issuing forth from every.single.bar on Broadway Ave. Other than shop and people watch.

Our hotel, the Hutton, was almost the antithesis of Asheville's Grand Bohemian: sleek, modern, linear. Very chic. A nice welcome to the city I wasn't sure I liked to begin with. The vibe in Nashville is very different from Asheville. Like the difference between C-U and Chicago. Nashville is harder, grittier, not as forthcoming as Asheville, and there's a whiff of desperation in the air there that was missing in the mountains of North Carolina. Or that impression may just be because my mom, sister and I witnessed a shoplifting at the convenience store while I was getting some cash from the ATM within the first 30 minutes of entering the city.

We did the touristy thing: go down Broadway to the entertainment district. And we were entertained, but not by the folks you'd think. We ate BBQ at Rippey's (it was OK) and had an ice cream at Mike's. After a couple of hours of avoiding hustling doormen and skanky ladies we retired to our hotel. The next day we visited the Parthenon replica at Centennial Park, which is surprising and awe-inspiring. It gave me hope for Nashville; that it isn't just the glitz and grit of Music City, that it has depth. Shopping was on our agenda and we did just that. All day. Then had dinner at the tres fab Germantown Cafe.

Sunday was an all-day drive home. We were exhausted but very happy. I can't think of a better way to spend time with two of my life-long favorite people: my beautiful mother and sister. I am blessed to have them as family and, possibly more importantly, as two amazing friends.

We're already planning the next excursion: Mexico in three years to celebrate Mom's turning 70 and Katy's turn at becoming 40. I should start my passport renewal process tomorrow...

Until then, I'll sip a glass of wine from the Biltmore's winery and relive those good times.