No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth.
In case you haven't heard, the earth isn't that flat thing we once thought. Also too, in case you didn't know, there are no sea monsters on the ends of the flat earth waiting to gobble us up and that isn't actually a man in the moon.
At least . . . that I know of. They might not be telling us everything, you know.
No, I've just been busy with some traveling and it was the kind of traveling where every day we had to get up and go- go-go. I hate that kind of frenzy. And so I just unplugged. Sometimes it's easier that way.
Today though, I actually have a moment of not go-go-going and since I live down here in Florida, I wanted to reassure you, Internet, that I haven't been murdered by our most famous citizen, Casey Anthony.
This morning I got online for the first time in a few days and checked all the most important news (TMZ) and I saw that she was in Ohio? Does she not think Ohioans are up on the latest controversial murder trials? If I were her, I'd move to Kabul or Darfur, or somewhere magical like that, where they know exactly how to handle her kind of fun.
Since she's hunkering down in Ohio, I thought to myself: Whew, Self, you are safe, man. (I always call myself man. It's a comradery thing.) And then I remembered Casey the Psychopath only kills children, her own children at that, so I think we Floridians and all of Ohio can rest easy.
But let's not go there, shall we?
Anyway, here's what I've been up to:
On the first part of our travels, we were in Pensacola for my father-in-law's military internment.
I've never had the privilege of witnessing a military memorial service. It was such a beautiful thing, to watch these men of the Honor Guard, so regal in their dress uniforms and steadfast in their duties—six impeccably dressed soldiers who ceremoniously folded the flag in precise execution—the honor guardsman who bent down and presented my mother-in-law that flag with his crisp white gloves, whispering words of thanks on behalf of the Marine Corp and the United States for my father-in-law's many years of service. And then the solitary soldier who played Taps on his bugle and the 21-gun salute from the rifle squad. When the sad, beautiful notes of Taps resonated through the morning air, that was the moment I officially became undone. That all of us became undone.
Afterwards, the entire family ventured over to the Naval Aviation Museum on the base. It's an incredible place, free to the public, one of the world's largest aviation museums.
AND as a whopping bonus, the Pensacola base is the home of the Blue Angels.
At any point in time, you can find some of those hunkie Blue Angel pilots just wandering about the museum answering people's questions and I don't know, maybe letting people try on their cool Top Gun sunglasses and who knows, letting certain people squeeze their biceps . . . you know, if they wanted to.
Just regular need to know military stuff like that.
My sister-in-law who grew up in Pensacola, verified that quite often on a field trip they would run into a Maverick or a Goose.
Sadly, it did not happen on our visit there. And trust me, I was looking in every nook and cranny for those blue jumpsuited hotties.
After the service, we spent some time with family and friends.
You might remember my partner-in-tampon-stealing friend Allie.
For the record, I do not have man hands. I don't know why my hands look all thick and veiny in these pictures, because my hands are the slimmest thing I've got going these days. They are not woodcutter hands. And yes, observant ones, my engagement ring is not on my hand because my diamond fell out! And I found it! And since I have used up my exclamation point quota for the day, this will be a story for another day. My stories for another day queue is getting quite long. I've been thinking about putting the Empress in charge of the stories I need to tell, because we all know that lovely woman doesn't have enough to do with her time. Just being the keynote speaker and one of the Voices of the Year over at the BlogHer conference right now.
Allie and her son Jack, who will marry my daughter Tori someday, (both mothers are insistent upon this), came down for a visit.
This is Tori and Jack at the Cabbage Patch Birthing Center or whatever that doll factory is called over in Georgia.
Aren't they perfectly scrumptious?
We had a great time with Allie and Jack but because the kids were with us we had to behave, so there was no stealing of tampons or any other of our typical outrageous behavior. Allie did express great disappointment in me, that I didn't sneak into Bono's hotel suite when I had the opportunity, sleeping right underneath my boyfriend like that. She told me if she'd been there we would have stolen some housekeeping uniforms and made our way into his suite and had one hell of a party with my man.
And you know what? She's absolutely right. I'm braver with her by my side. She's that kind of tampon thieving, rock star stalking kind of friend. She and I would have made great groupies back in the day.
We also had a magnificent time with my hub's family.
We caught up with each other, drank wine, broke bread over some of my mother-in-law's succulent gourmet feasts.
And enjoyed the splendor of Pensacola's powdered sugar sandy beaches.
I love the Panhandle beaches. I think they're hands down, the prettiest beaches I've ever seen.
And I've been around.
Beaches, that is.
Here's my favorite spot in all the Panhandle. Everyone from this part of Florida knows this exact spot. It's the moment you hit the peak of the bridge going into Destin. The water here is this azure blue, sparkling like jewels in the sunlight.
We stayed at Jimmy Buffet's place, Margaritaville. We didn't actually stay at Jimmy's house. Because that would have been very tacky of Jimmy, since we paid to stay under his roof.
I love this curved wall with the giant photo of a Gulf sunset and I love, love, love the tile floors. No disgusting hotel carpet. And yes, we are tidy travelers as you can well see by the clothes hanging off of the top of the closet and the towels on the floor.
The heat wave so affecting the country, hit Florida like a giant, wet heating pad set on maximum high while we were up in the Panhandle.
On our last day there, it was 104 in the shade.
This was the only way I could find respite from the blaze.
After Pensacola, we drove nine hours over to the Land of the Mouse.
Our college girl, Olivia, was moving into a new apartment and she had to be out of her old apartment by noon on the 1st.
And here's the thing about that.
She had to be out of one apartment by the 1st, but she couldn't move into her new apartment until the 14th. So, she was going to be stuck in two weeks of limbo. And since the girl has a job and summer classes, she needed a place to live. So we struck a deal with the new apartment.
She could move in August 1st under one condition.
She would have to take the apartment uncleaned.
The painting and repair work from the last tenant would be done in the next few weeks, but the cleaning was up to us.
And since I'm a germaphobe, who likes things, my kind of clean or in the words of my kid, "Your way of cleaning borders on insanity." And since I would have cleaned the place even after the cleaning crew was done, I told them I was up for the task.
They tried to persuade us otherwise, but I was all, "How bad can it be?"
Because clearly, I've never experienced the ungodliness of four frat boys living under one roof.
Four frat boys.
Under one roof.
And ungodly is a huuuuge understatement.
I walked into my daughter's bathroom and backed out in a horrified daze. I would have gasped, but I didn't want to inhale any of the biohazard fumes.
The punk/little assbag/turdhead/bastard/douchebag, who had lived in my daughter's room was a barbarian of the crudest proportions.
This bathroom was the worst thing I've ever seen.
Worse than the filthiest gas station bathroom I've ever encountered. Worse than an airline toilet after an all-day flight. where they served jumbo Mexican burritos for lunch. Worse than a men's bathroom in the NYC Greyhound bus terminal. Worse than a port-a-let after Ozzfest.
So brace yourself. Because . . . Here. It. Comes.
The mirror was spattered with toothpaste and sludge of an unknown sort, so heavy, I could not see myself. The sink took an entire roll of paper towels and bleach to remove all the hair.
And speaking of bleach, I used up two bottles.
The bathtub was caked in filth of all kinds of mysterious origins.
The door was grimy and covered in black and yellow stains.
And the toilet?
I have never.
Never, ever, ever seen anything like this.
And I shared a bathroom with three brothers, growing up.
Urine stains covered and I mean covered/coated the front of the toilet and the floor. Like the cretin had just stopped bothering to aim for the toilet and just peed in the general proximity.
But that wasn't the worst part.
The worst part was the dried vomit in every crevice and surface of that toilet.
I am so sorry.
But I had to tell you Internet, because cleaning that kind of nasty was the grossest thing I have ever done.
And no, I wasn't going to let my daughter near that. Because number one, she's my daughter and my job is to protect her from things like hepatitis and all the other funk that disgusting beast probably had going on in that toilet. And number two, I didn't trust anyone but myself to sanitize that thing properly.
So with two sets of rubber gloves protecting my hands, an old t-shirt, protecting my clothes and a few bouts of my own retching, I killed every bit of disgusting filth in that toilet.
Everything is sparkly and fresh smelling in her apartment now.
And when my daughter brings her repair list up to the office, I will be right next to her, to let management know what kind of vermin they had living under their roof.
And too? If given the chance, I promise you, I would drag this scumbag frat pig by his obviously hairy head into a port-a-let where I would give him the biggest swirly of his life, then I'd lock him in and tip that sewage box over, letting him see how it feels to be up close and personal to other people's filth.
Okay. I feel better now. Thank you for letting me vent, Internet.
The gross part is over and I'm still here in the Land of the Mouse.
You see, we have a timeshare that we rarely use. And always, at the last minute, we find ourselves going, "Crap, we forgot to use the timeshare, again." And if you don't use it, you lose it. Kind of like so many other things in life.
And of course, there's nothing left in the timeshare world when you wait until the last minute.
When I looked up timeshares for this week there was Beirut and Orlando.
I think that speaks for itself.
And since I didn't feel like wearing a burqa or keeping an eye out for suicide bombers, we chose the lesser version of Hell and I am now ensconced in the Land of Scorching Heat, brimming with foreigners who don't understand the concept of personal body space or the etiquette of lining up in an orderly queue.
The other day, we met some friends from out of town, at Epcot.
Somebody got some Dumbo cotton candy and pretended it was for the girls.
By the time I walked from France to Italy, a Forrest Gump kind of undertaking in the real world, but only a few short steps away from each other in the magical land of Disney, I was melting like the Wicked Witch. I was sweating and my hair was going to shit and this is never, ever good. And on top of that, there were those foreigners with their pushing and shoving and no concept of personal space which is offensive to me on a regular basis, but when we're all trying to find air pockets and sweaty people are on top of me in my air pocket, it sometimes gets a mite ugly.
For the foreigners.
I will not be going back there anytime soon. The foreigners can thank me.
So, for the rest of the week, we will be spending our time in air conditioning or one of the many pools here at the time share. And since I'm not a big fan of public pools which to me are like one giant peehole, my vote is for air conditioning.
My hubs had to go back to our home to make the doughnuts, so I'm here with three daughters who are all clamoring for back to school clothes and things for a new apartment.
On our first night here, we went to dinner in a restaurant that was in the middle of one of the many fancy boutique areas of this tourist town. My baby, my 13 year old, who has always been more interested in the insects she can dig up in the dirt and the tadpoles that live in the shallow pockets of the lake, stopped in front of a shop window, admiring the displays.
Upon waking today, she said to me, "Mom, can we go back to that shop from the other night, the one called Armani?"
Pray for me, Internet. I'm stuck in the broiling heat in the Land of the Mouse and these dag-blasted neck breathing foreigners. It's going to be a tough rest of the week.
I'll be back next week to finish the second part of my Open Heart tale.
I'll see you next week and I PROMISE to catch up with you all then. I have been a rude friend and I will be better. This I promise you.
Update: I started this the other day, but I haven't been able to finish it because I spent the entire day shopping with my girls one day. And here's what I have to say about that:
They have a three-story Forever 21, here.
The hours we spent in that techno-beat nightmare were almost as hellish as Disney World. And then yesterday, I went over to my college girl's apartment to get her organized. And when I say organized, I mean I wanted to be able to see her floor before the day was over. She had to work an 8-hour shift and so I volunteered to stay and organize her clutter. She left and I had no idea where her TV remote was under all of her crap. Her TV is one controlled by the remote, only and so I was stuck cleaning her room while the Jersey Shore Marathon played.
Have you seen this show? It is horrific and I Could. Not. Stop. Watching. It.
These people with their awful hair and even worse tans and smushing of anyone and everyone and their unbelievable stupidity and fist pumping. It was like the worst car crash of all time and I could not look away. The casting directors of MTV are genius, that's for sure. Who would have thought a bunch of morons from New Jersey would make fabulous TV?
And now, I must really go because we are meeting friends at Hollywood Studios. I wasn't going back, but my family are freaks who can obviously never get enough pushing and shoving. If you hear about any foreigners getting murdered there while standing in a line, please don't mention my name.
That's all I'm sayin. No download today because I've got to go get all crabby.
I'll see you next week when I'll be home and happy.
Posted by Joann Mannix at 2:26 PM