13 September 2011

1st dentist.

Liam's 1st dental visit. by Luna Soledad
Liam's 1st dental visit., a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
Today marks another first: Liam’s first trip to the dentist... It was a HUGE success. Of course it helped that the office was incredibly cool and comfortable, complete with big screen TV and video games and even flat screen TV’s in the ceilings above the exam chairs. Wow. Dentisty has come a long way since I worked the field... but then again, working for the DOD and civilian offices in the two most disgusting specialties in the dental industry (namely orthodontics and periodontics), anything else looks fun. Let’s just say, I was rarely inspired to take photos while working perio and generally patients came armed with Valium rather than cameras so as not to remember their visit...

"I'm as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth."

...Jonathan Swift

07 September 2011


cuffs. by Luna Soledad
cuffs., a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
So recently, we had a client, a sweet older fellow likable in that good ole mutt kind of way, though clearly with some issues, who arrived at our office seeking representation for a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge. Not uncommon.

However, the events leading up to his arrest is an entirely different matter... Hell, Cheech and Chong would have been proud because you just can’t make this stuff up!

It seems that Mr. Client had the misfortune of being robbed and severely traumatized by a home burglary a year or so ago to the point that Mr. Client felt it necessary to begin carrying an emergency 911 key fob with him on his keyring (similar to the “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” medical alert buttons).

Well, on that fateful day, Mr. Client was so stoned out of his gourd that he fell down his steps, landing on the 911 fob and placing a call to the police... who arrived promptly and arrested him.

As I said, you just can’t make this stuff up...

“When I was in England I experimented with marijuana a time or two -- and didn't like it -- and didn't inhale and never tried inhaling again.”

...William Jefferson Clinton

03 September 2011

Easy Reader.

Just finished watching the 2007 movie, "Evan Almighty" staring Steve Carroll with Morgan Freeman as 'God' (the squeal to the 2003 film, "Bruce Almighty" staring Jim Carey)... Cute film, but then I'll pretty much watch anything with Freeman as he is among my most favorite actors of all time, and well, I rather fancy the idea of Morgan Freeman as God. Much more so than George Burns or Alanis Morisette, but that's me.

As I am prone to spontaneous curiosity in this convenient age of information at our fingertips, I found myself suddenly wondering at how Freeman got his big break... so I Googled. --Interestingly, one of his earliest roles in the American media was in the early 1970's on the PBS kids' show "The Electric Company" as the character 'Easy Reader.'

Then it hit me like a recessed memory that bubbles up from the surface of nostalgia, Wow. I remember that! I grew up with Morgan Freeman! 

How could one not adore the talents of a man who had once sang about words and reading over the television in that silky smooth, hip, jivin' voice decked out in gold rings and bell bottoms to a little country girl in her pajamas every morning?
"I always tell my kids if you lay down, people will step over you. But if you keep scrambling, if you keep going, someone will always, always give you a hand. Always. But you gotta keep dancing, you gotta keep your feet moving."

...Morgan Freeman

09 August 2011


On our last day of vacation, we decided to have a nice family lunch to fill our bellies before embarking upon the 5 1/2 hour journey back to "civilization." Plus, this provided an excellent opportunity to talk Kevin into a quick trip to Forbidden Caverns before we escaped the 'southern charm' that is the Tennessee mountains. So we stopped at the Texas Steakhouse or Roadhouse or whatever it was.

Earlier in the week, I had sat salivating listening to Eve's tales of fresh Snow Crab legs on her assignment in Alaska, so when I saw the combination platter on the menu featuring filet mignon and Snow Crab legs for about $800.00, I HAD to order it.

"Please?" I asked sweetly, batting my lashes at my beloved.

"You're not going to stop thinking about them until you eat some are you?"

He knows me too well.

A short time later, our waiter appeared, his arms adorned with plates of food and began passing out the orders. Just as he sat down my platter before me, my young son jumped up excitedly and exclaimed (quite loudly) for the amusement of the entire resturaunt:

"Mommie's got crabs!"

To the waiter's credit, he did not even crack a smile until Kevin and I burst into hysterics. I'm just glad no one knew me there.

"Worlds can be found by a child and an adult bending down and looking together under the grass stems or at the skittering crabs in a tidal pool."

...Mary Catherine Bateson

02 August 2011



jellies., a set on Flickr.
A set of black and white jellies taken at Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tennessee last month on our first ever, long overdue family vacation that I haven't had time to blog about (along with approximately 38,003 other things). --Curiously, there are somewhere between 1,270 and 1,770 different species of jellyfish. Who knew?

I'm quite pleased with these. =)

"The Internet is like a giant jellyfish. You can't step on it. You can't go around it. You've got to get through it."

...John Evans

04 July 2011

independence day.

fireworks. by Luna Soledad
fireworks., a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
All Americans know (or should anyway) that the 4th of July is the national holiday marking the long ago day (in 1776) when the Declaration of Independence was signed and adopted and the United States became the United States declaring its independence from English rule.

However, according to Wikipedia.org, there’s a few interesting tidbits I did not know:

"In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe, the Fifth President of the United States, died on July 4, 1831. Calvin Coolidge, the Thirtieth President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, was the only President to be born on Independence Day."

Things that make ya go, “hmmm.”

"Oh, great. This is going to be like shooting baskets with Magic Johnson watching."

...Bill Pullman (on watching Independence Day with President Clinton)

24 June 2011


not so happy. by Luna Soledad
not so happy., a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
So the other day, I arrive at the daycare to pick up my young offspring and find that he is very excited to see me (which is always nice). However, his excitement quickly shifts into overdrive and he turns into a little lunatic jumping about and slinging toys. Quick to remind him of his manors, I firmly scold him and make him pick up the toys he was playing with and put them away as a good boy should. He does so and then begins to cry with all the drama and emotion of a child who has just witnessed his puppy get run over and clings to my leg burring his face in my crotch...

What. In. THE. World???

Okay, so I figure I’ve embarrassed him in front of his friends (hey, it happens) and attempt to comfort him while prying him off of my leg and lifting him up to console him despite my aching back (sometimes a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, right?)

I carry him from his class with the scent of his sweaty little boy head tickling my nostrils, whispering, “Shhh, it’s okay,” and other motherly sentiments to no avail.

By the time we reach the parking lot, my patience is waning and I’m more puzzled than ever at the source of such a bizarre outburst. “Liam, what’s wrong? What in the world are you crying about?” He muffles something incomprehensible from the snotty warmth of my bosom and I try again as I set him down and turn his tear streaked face toward mine, “Honey, it’s okay. Mommie loves you. What are you so sad about?”

“I’m crying because my sense doesn’t make sense,” he stammers.

“Your sense doesn’t make sense?”

He nods. And I give him the biggest and best mommie hug ever because even though I still have absolutely no idea what he meant exactly, somehow I feel his pain...

Sometimes sense just doesn’t make sense.

From the mouths of babes...
"The sensual and spiritual are linked together by a mysterious bond, sensed by our emotions, though hidden from our eyes. To this double nature of the visible and invisible world -- to the profound longing for the latter, coupled with the feeling of the sweet necessity for the former, we owe all sound and logical systems of philosophy, truly based on the immutable principles of our nature, just as from the same source arise the most senseless enthusiasms."

...Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt

29 May 2011

disability etiquette 101.

walkin'. by Luna Soledad
walkin'., a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
We’ve all heard it said, “It takes special people to do special things,” and while I tend to agree that not everyone in the world has what it takes to manage certain tasks, journeys, or responsibilities that many see as an impossible misfortune when outside looking into such lives of those who juggle everything life has thrown at them with the illusion of finesse, there are times when folks should just keep their mouths shut and maybe just offer a warm smile instead of some wise-sounding rhetoric... Often, this is a sentiment conveyed by well-meaning strangers when faced with the uncomfortable realization that they are in the presence of a parent, guardian, or care-giver of a person with special needs and feel the need to say something in lieu of, “You poor thing, I feel sorry for you.”

Yes, it’s true, unless you’re part of that inner circle of special populations, exceptional people if you will, (be it family, friend, fellow parent, teacher, therapist, or the like), such expressions, however well-meaning, come across as condescending in a manner not unlike rubbing salt in one’s wounds.

I personally do not need to be reminded of how “special” I am. I live it every day. And I can only imagine that other mothers who spend the bulk of their days having fun with G-tubes, catheters, braces, walkers, communication boards and devices, outrageous behaviors, attending IEP meetings, advocating for the rights of their loved one(s), meeting and communicating with a menagerie of doctors and specialists and teachers and therapists, learning medical shit they never wanted to know about, and wiping ass every single day after day, probably feel the same way. --I assure you, we totally get it.

That being said, I realize that most people don’t intend to be mean or rude (for those who do: go fuck yourselves) and can only act in ways in which their life experiences and / or education afford them. Therefore, I’ve compiled a little list of basic etiquette with regards to encounters with special populations for those nice folks on the outside with honorable intentions:

  • Don’t stare. --I would hope that this is self explanatory, but in case it’s not... staring at people disabled or not is in fact rude. You should teach your children this too, however, as a general rule, it’s not a child’s natural curiosity that bugs me so much as their parents... encourage your child to instead say hello, smile, or wave. And if they are curious about a wheelchair or such, allow them to ask; if they ask you within earshot, don’t drag them off, shush, or punish them... it’s how they learn that people with disabilities are indeed people too and everyone benefits from kindness.

  • Don’t ignore. --Many people feel uncomfortable when faced with a situation outside of their experience, even if that situation is meeting a person with a disability. Perfectly natural. But no one likes to be ignored. If my daughter waves at you, as she is prone to do, would it kill you to smile and wave back? She’s not asking for a loan or even a dinner invitation, just acknowledgment.

  • Never assume anything. --People are like fingerprints: each are special and unique. Disabilities are like fingerprints: each are special and unique. Just because a someone may have the characteristic appearances of someone with Downs Syndrome doesn’t mean the individual in front of you functions at the same level as that actor you saw in a TV show once (like actor Chris Burke). Just like regular people (not everyone is a PhD and not everyone can cook edible food), there is an enormous spectrum of varying abilities. In fact, people are most familiar with the term “spectrum” thanks to the public awareness of Autism; the autistic spectrum is a perfect example of extremes. There are persons with Autism who may be a bit quirky (who isn't?) but are amazingly gifted, highly intelligent productive members of society and there are those who cannot speak and live trapped in the darkness of their own worlds unable to dress themselves... even more rare and amazing are minds such as Kim Peek. Just like Autism, disabilities can be every bit as much of an enigmatic intellectual span. This includes issues such as ADD, ADHD, ODD, OCD, and a whole host of other fun stuff, all of which are real, legitimate, and can sometimes be just as debilitating.

  • But they look "normal". --See above.

  • If you feel inclined to speak, direct your conversation first at the person of interest before addressing the parent or caregiver. --It’s just common courtesy and though it’s not the case with my child, most people with disabilities, even intellectual ones, can speak and carry on a basic, albeit probably unconventional, conversation. And they appreciate the attention and exchange because unfortunately they are used to being ignored. It also makes Mom feel good because someone was thoughtful enough to make their kid’s day. Just don’t be disappointed or take it personally if the special person doesn’t outwardly acknowledge you back in a manner in which you are accustomed. Trust me, they noticed; they just may not be able to unlock what they need to access in order to show it.

  • Never underestimate. --I have had to learn this one myself, over and over again, with my own daughter and to this day, she continues to make a liar out of me (as well as many specialists!) should it dare be stated that she is unable to do something. Even for persons closest to an exceptional individual, who know their language, abilities, and behaviors best, it is impossible to know what is understood, unable, or merely defiance.

  • If you feel inclined to inquire, choose your words carefully. --For instance, rather than asking, “What’s wrong with her?” try instead, “What’s her diagnosis?” As a general rule of thumb, stop and think how you would feel if some random stranger walked up and said this to you about your child. Again, children are an exception... A child can only communicate with what vocabulary and communication skills they have acquired in their short little life-spans. When a child asks me why my daughter doesn’t speak or what’s wrong with her, I will happily stop whatever mad errand I am in the middle of, drop to a knee and explain as best I know how with all the patience of Saint Monica because that’s how they learn to become better world citizens. But as a perfectly functioning allegedly competent adult, if you ask me such an asinine question as “What’s wrong with her?” you can expect an equally rude and ridiculous response, such as, “Absolutely nothing; what’s wrong with you?”

  • Ask for help. --Most parents and caregivers don’t mind at all if you ask questions that help you to include their child and loved one. Perhaps they are deaf or do not speak and use sign language... I love when people ask me how to sign something to my daughter (though she can hear perfectly well I’m told; selective listening is another matter entirely) or if she needs assistance with a task... This shows you care.

Someone once told me that disability is not an "if" but a "when." Meaning, there will come a time in each of our lives when we are not capable of being independent to some degree, be it a broken bone, illness, old age, or dementia and will require the care and assistance of others in order to have our needs met... Think about that.

When all else fails, there is always The Golden Rule. Remember that one folks? It goes like this: “Do unto others as you would have done to you.” And by the way, that’s a good one to teach your kids too!

A public service announcement brought you to by yours truly...

"Special people were not born upon this earth to be tested, rather to serve as a litmus for humanity."

...Crystal J. De la Cruz, mother & advocate

09 May 2011


big potty boy! by Luna Soledad
big potty boy!, a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.

Mother’s Day, Sunday: In the afternoon, the children were playing out in the back yard while Kevin “supervised” from the deck smoking a cigar, grilling, and playing on his laptop. I was inside taking full advantage of the day with a Mother’s Day nap upstairs.

Suddenly, our son walks out of the “nature area” (the corner of the back yard that is completely out of control with briers, determined saplings, and overgrowth) and exclaims to his father, “Daddy! Piper is trying to eat my poo!”

Yes, our four year old son had gone behind a tree and taken a crap in the yard. He knows better of course and had done so completely covert, but was so taken by surprise at our idiot Jack Russel that he accidentally told on himself.

Try having that conversation with a straight face.

Of course the yard is much preferred to say, the air-conditioning shaft...

Once, when Liam was potty-training some time around one year of age, he discovered that he could lift the air vent covers off and put things down the hole such as toys, keys, clothing, paper, unwanted food, and anything else that would fit. I had been nagging Kevin to screw the vent covers down as digging out these treasures was becoming a real nuisance. Never did I imagine I would walk in the living room one day to find my young son taking a shit down the air shaft, but I did. And just as I spied him behind the couch taking care of business, he stands up butt-naked grinning and pointing to the open hole; “I poo,” he said proudly.

This was one such time I found myself too dumbfounded to take pictures. --Beneath the freshly deposited still-warm baby feces, were various toys and an old 35mm film camera - which all went straight into the trash. But at least the vents finally got screwed down, that day.

What in the world is with little boys and their fascination with poop? I’m beginning to think Freud was onto something...

"The act of birth is the first experience of anxiety, and thus the source and prototype of the affect of anxiety."

...Sigmund Freud

06 May 2011

traveling with strangers.

window seat. by Luna Soledad
window seat., a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
Last month I managed to escape the clutches of North Carolina for a long overdue, albeit much too brief, getaway to Dallas, Texas to spend some quality time with one of my most favorite, life-long people in the universe - my dear cousin Greg.

Even as I excitedly counted down the weeks, days, and hours to departure, I was riddled with guilt over leaving my husband at the mercy of the children for a long weekend. Especially when they all came down with whiny, snotty colds. Although that did not stop me from getting on the plane... or trying to anyway.

March 31st, Thursday evening the clan dropped me off at RDU two hours prior, all packed up properly with travel-size everything in two carry-on bags. --An ugly floral roller bag for clothes, toiletries, etc. and a shoulder bag strictly for my purse and camera bag, least the airline nazis fine me for the extra baggage. It was all a pretty uneventful process initially; I checked in, took my shoes off, did the security thing, found my gate and settled in to read, “Night” by Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel (a truly amazing and painfully poetic account; a definite MUST read).

Shortly before boarding, an announcement calling all final destinations for Dallas to the AirTran service desk... I approach and am told that my Atlanta connection has already been missed due to extreme weather conditions - you know, the hurricane-like precursor to the recent tornado epidemic up and down the southern coast as well as all the crazy winter-storms that happened up north. Yay. My choices were: 1) (have Kevin get the kids back up, turn around and come get me) stay the night in Raleigh and (get back up at 4 am with the kids and) fly out at 6 am to Atlanta, or 2) fly to Atlanta and stay the night in a partially comped hotel for a 10 am flight to Dallas... either way, I would arrive in Dallas around the same time Friday morning. --Kevin and I agreed the lesser of the evils was to stay the night in Atlanta and get a good night’s sleep.

Ha ha ha.

So I arrive in Atlanta, the airline equivalent of an overpopulated ZOO, on the last flight of the evening, call the number on the voucher, make a reservation for the Clarion (four start hotel my ass!) for fifty bucks, and then make my way to the other end of the earth to stand and wait a half hour for an over-crowded hotel shuttle bus whose final destination would be my good night’s sleep.

Ha ha ha.

In reality, the forty or so of us tired, hungry disgruntled travelers from a great number of flights were dumped off to form a long-ass winding line throughout the hotel lobby with our bags of crap for check in... I was finally assigned a room and given a room key around 1 am, wished the other weary souls well, got a glass of overpriced house wine in an unwashed glass, and went to my room... to discover the bathroom sink was leaking and I had no toothpaste. An hour later, wine finished, teeth brushed, and sink fixed, I crawled into bed utterly exhausted... only to be awakened not two hours later by a drunken middle-aged cat fight in the hallway outside my room. SERIOUSLY?!! We’re not on spring break here you assholes! WTF? --Normally, my inclination would be to step into the hall and yell at these two twats, but I was just too freaking tired and pissed at the whole scenario and the fact that I had already missed an evening with Greg and decided it would be a good idea not to get hauled off to jail in Atlanta so I lay there cursing in my room until I fell back asleep.

The next thing my barely cognizant brain registered was the sound of the hotel room phone ringing with my morning wake-up call and scaring the crap out of me. Holy hell. I felt like I had been run over by a truck. --The irony that it was then April Fool’s Day was not lost on me.

I was already set to be in a foul mood, mentally daring anyone to jack with me, and sulked back to the too small shuttle bus for the 10 mile ride back to the airport... where a handsome young man promptly gave up his seat for me. I was neither prepared nor accustomed to such chivalry (heck, even as a notably miserable pregnant woman, I don’t recall someone doing that; you’re lucky if they hold the freaking door) and softened my mood accordingly in gratitude. Then a middle-aged African American man boarded the shuttle bus with a warm, happy smile and plopped down in the driver’s seat announcing, “Okay folks, my name is Darryl and I am your driver this morning. I’ll be taking you back to the airport quickly and safely and want to make sure that you have as positive an experience with me as possible so maybe you’ll want to come back and visit the great city of Atlanta and not hate us for screwing up your flights.”

In spite of myself, I smiled inside. He had that infectious kind of happy energy that would not allow otherwise. And for the next ten miles he gave us a brief “tour” of Atlanta, the beloved city in which he had lived all of his life... He tossed out geographical facts and history lessons all along the way - everything from downtown attractions to MLK events and memorials. He told us where four-time World Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield lives and how his mansion is now open to the public to supplement his cash flow in paying off his eight baby-mamas “but we aren’t going there ‘cause we don’t feel sorry for him...” And he pointed out the $159 million runway overpass at Atlanta airport which took ten years to complete and was only used once for landing causing a massive pile-up on 285 when several terrified drivers erroneously thought the plane was about to crash into the highway.

A hard-working father of two (one in med school and one aged 7), Darryl was a natural “entertainer” with a genuinely likable personality. He truly made my day, lifting my spirits in ways I did not realize at the moment until I caught myself chuckling later remembering his commentary.

By the time I checked in and trekked across the enormous airplane metropolis with its many concords and subways, my back was on fire from carrying the shoulder bag - which I saw as more than enough justification to pop into a baggage store and purchase another wheelie bag. Of course nothing I could afford came in just a simple black so I quickly grabbed a black and white giraffe print to compliment the ugly couch-looking floral I was dragging around, then made a bee-line to Starbucks for some desperately needed caffeine. --It soon became clear that I hadn’t thought this process through when I was handed my coffee and had not an extra hand for the new extra wheelie bag - which would not stand on it’s own and kept falling over. Doh! The man behind me kindly offered to carry my coffee and follow me to my gate. I was so tired and grateful, I almost cried.

Found my gate, sat down the flowery couch bag and my coffee and turned to a couple across from me to ask them to please watch my bag a moment as I went to exchange the other. They politely obliged. When I returned 10 minutes or so later (with a hideous, though better constructed, primary-color blue bag capable of standing upright) and thanked them, they smiled, said I was welcome and told me that they had been waiting at the wrong gate as they stood to leave. Even after their realization, they had sat watching my bag as promised and patiently waited for my return...

My former boss, Dr. Mary Ruth Coleman, truly one of the most remarkable human beings I have ever known, refers to such happy, uplifting surprises as “blessings” and believes that life is full of such if you're open to it... I felt then in that moment, truly blessed. --Sometimes it is the kindness of strangers that makes all the difference in our lives, and sometimes when we’re lucky, we get to be the strangers.

I remember the day in June of 1999 when I returned to the states from living in Germany, leaving behind my husband and father of my child, and the only place that ever really felt like home for me. It was probably the hardest decision I have ever made... I had my entire life crammed into three of the biggest, heaviest suitcases ever packed in the history of people packing things as they were each filled with the stuff that meant the most to me: boxes and boxes of photographs and other priceless mementos I thought I might never see again if I left them behind (I mailed my clothing). In addition to the mega-luggage, there were four carry-ons, a stroller, a car seat, one hysterically barking Pug in a kennel, and my 18 month old non-ambulatory, non-verbal angel of a daughter, Isabel. --I foolishly left Frankfurt with no money what-so-ever and by the time I landed in LaGuardia (where I was soon confronted with the absolute rudest people I have ever met in my life), my bank account back in Germany had been emptied. Realizing I had less than an hour to get to the opposite side of the airport, I desperately asked for help with my bags and was dismissively told that was not the problem of airport personnel. An older woman who had been seated near me on the plane overheard my situation, turned and gave me eight dollars, hugged me, and disappeared before I could thank her. Out of nowhere appeared an immigrant porter who offered to help me with my bags. He told me we had to hurry. I followed him blindly with swollen eyes and tear-stained cheeks for what seemed like miles and into a tram. Halfway to my stop, another military wife who had been on my flight turned to me and said, “There’s twenty dollars under the lining of your daughter’s car seat,” and with that, she gave me a warm smile and exited the tram. --I have never ever forgotten either of those women. I don’t know their names nor do I even recall their faces, but I have never forgotten their immeasurable kindness on one of the worst days of my life... I gave all twenty-eight dollars to the porter.

Yes, MRC, you're right, life is full of blessings, often when you least expect them... I am grateful for all the blessings I have received in my travels through this life and I always try my best to pay it forward each and every time I am lucky enough to be the stranger.

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."

...Elie Wiesel

05 May 2011

picture day.

Today was school “picture day” at Bella’s school, for the second time this year.

A lot has changed in the tradition of school pictures since I was in grade school needless to say. Like digital cameras for starters. Also, when I was in school, you only had one photo taken once a year with the same background and pose. We dressed in our best, or rather what our parents deemed was best -- I mean, this was the ‘70’s were talking about folks, so ‘our best’ was very subjective and should be taken into account. Many months later, we would finally get our proofs to order from which we had to return so the orders could be matched up and then a few months after that, our photo package would arrive and most of them would be gone, swapped out with friends, before even getting off the school bus.

We did not have different poses to choose from and there were no retakes for the yearbook because you didn’t get yearbooks in elementary school. We did not have cute little magnets or bookmarks or trading cards and we didn’t have our names printed on our pictures. Our parents scrapped together and bought the big packages back then with plenty to give away to grandparents and family, display on walls and bookcases, and wallet sizes that were actually carried in wallets because that was the one and only time a year that most of us had “professional” photos taken documenting our youthful existence throughout our educational career. --And we sure as hell did not have to pre-order and pre-pay for photos yet to even be taken as is the policy with Lifetouch Studios - who received a nasty letter from me with my minimum order today, but I digress...

I remember many, many years ago on picture days at Cleveland Elementary School, we would all line up and march up with our classes to the third floor auditorium where all the school photo equipment was set up on stage. --The same stage my father, his siblings, and parents of most of the rest of my classmates had once strolled across when they had once upon a time graduated Cleveland High School. (Oh yeah, my Grandfather went there too.) The background for the vast majority of my elementary photos was always some seasonally-inappropriate artsy spring/summer woodsy medley (seen here) and a fake “fence” which we were posed against year after year in the exact same arm-crossed fashion (and me with my pinky finger dangling off the edge awkwardly as though it were broken, every single year) - as if leaning against a fence in the woods smiling like a dolt was the most natural thing in the world. But then again, it was the ‘70’s man, perhaps our school photographer was a hippy?

The absolute worst school photo theme ever in the history of school pictures was the “library / reading a book” look. This theme was shot in front of a comically unrealistic backdrop painted with bookshelves lined with books and required sitting at a desk with a colorfully illustrated kiddie book open (and held down by our hands so the pages wouldn’t flop around); that was 5th grade I think. O.M.G. did those suck a big one. I’m not even sure any of those still exist; I think I burned them all. --Oh, and then one year, 7th or 8th grade I believe, as we moved into a new decade of horrid fashion and tackiness, the creative directors of school photography in a brain-fart of inspiration keeping with the times, incorporated a high-back wicker chair into the setting. You know the ones. ...Actually, now that I think about it, I think they used the "library" background for that one too.

Yes, picture day always yielded a surprise because you never knew just what kind of God-awful tackiness they might spring on you next until you walked into the auditorium and got in line with your class. Just when we got used to the fence in the woods and all the photos in our homes matched, they went and got all crazy on us.

I honestly don’t think I have a single decent school picture of myself but then again, isn’t that the point? Everyone looks awkward and clumsy with freakish growth spurts, bowl-cut hairdos, and zits. Not to mention the ever classic deer-in-headlights expression that inevitably happens after shooting a couple hundred kids and the photographer is ready to get the heck outta dodge. Some of my school pictures could most certainly rival the DMV’s most memorable shots. And that’s pretty much why we buy those stupid things -- for the nostalgia and comedy. Few things are more fun than flipping through years worth of bad hairdos, bizarre clothing, and perplexing expressions. I mean, nothing says comedy like a snaggle-tooth smile in an obnoxious big-collared nylon Saturday Night Fever shirt leaning against a fence in the woods with a broken finger... except maybe posting those same pictures of your friends on Facebook. ;-)

"Most things in life are moments of pleasure and a lifetime of embarrassment; photography is a moment of embarrassment and a lifetime of pleasure."

...Tony Benn

26 April 2011

funny things.

Without fail, whenever I see something really funny I am without my camera.

There was a time when I carried around a big honking purse (which was actually a stylish and expensive laptop bag) for the sole purpose of carting around my old Nikon D50 as well as baby wipes, diapers, toys, and other mommie items, but mostly to have my camera close. Of course this is not the best solution for one with degenerative disc disease and chronic back pain. So about a year ago (after shooting RAW with a DSLR for 3 years, I thought it would be handy to have a nifty little point and shoot that would fit conveniently in my change purse... I returned it the same day after a dozen or so crappy shots. Oh well.

And sure, I have one of those so-called "smart" phones with a camera in it but those images suck too. --Besides, after my smart phone navigated itself to my ebay application and purchased for me a watched item while deep inside my pocket, I decided to password protect the damn thing... which kinda hinders the ability to access the camera function quickly.

So last week, I'm driving my son to preschool when I take note of the car in front of me, an older station wagon, being driven by an elderly man with two passengers - a white-haired older lady in the back passenger seat and a gray-haired lady in the front with one of those poufy-old-lady-helmet-hairdos. We're stopped at a stoplight and suddenly the helmet-head lady turns to the driver to reveal the elongated snout of a giant poodle smiling smugly. I immediately burst out laughing driving down the road fumbling to unlock my damn phone to snap a photo of the funniest thing I've seen in a while... The car turned off (I almost followed them!) and I missed the shot. But I'm willing to bet money that the woman in the back seat was the wife!

Fast forward through the hysteria and Easter maddness to this week...

Monday morning I arrive at Liam's preschool to find, not one, not two, but three vultures perched upon the swing set of the school's playground, presumably awaiting for a wounded toddler to hobble out and fall over for easy pickings. That's never a good sign. But oh what a picture!

And me without my camera, again.

"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. And that was all his patrimony."

...Rafael Sabatini

25 April 2011


NoH8 by Luna Soledad
NoH8, a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
I met my girlfriend Felicia in kindergarten, lifetimes ago; she was one of my very first friends. And today, I'm happy to say, she's still one of my most favorite peeps.

Felicia is one of the most amazingly unique women I know... (and I am fortunate to know a lot of amazing women!) She has a heart of pure gold, an infectious laugh, loves Stephen King and the Beatles, is honest to a fault, a fiercely protective mother of three, a good wife, daughter, and sister, and is one of the most unconditionally loyal and selflessly generous friends I have ever been blessed to have in my life. --I have, on many occasions, felt less than worthy, but always thankful.

Of course, lots of people have good hearts, great laughs, and like the Beatles, but it takes a truly remarkable human being to give the gift of life as a human incubator... You see, Felicia is a gestational surrogate (pictured here in her third surrogacy).

Most of us hear talk of those freakish women who feel utterly divine during their pregnancy with the whole glowy thing and nesting instincts, baking and cleaning and multitasking like there is no tomorrow. --Personally, I was NOT one of those women; I was in fact a miserable cow and believed such women to be something of nonsense and myth conjured from a delusional male rumor mill... alas, it’s true, they are out there and Felicia is one of those freakish women. And, ever resourceful with her golden heart and generosity, she chose to use her powers for good, to help others who desperately wanted the family she has.

I won’t get into the details of the whole surrogacy process except to say, there is heck of a lot more involved than just sticking the proverbial bun in the oven; it’s impossible for me to imagine all the various testing, legalities, and poking and proding piled atop a 9 month sentence, but that’s why she’s the surrogate, not me.

This last pregnancy has a beautiful story, with a somewhat non-traditional twist... A tale of a loving and devoted, happily married couple unable to have a child of their own. Except that this baby has two adoring fathers. --That’s right, a happily married gay male couple - who obviously don’t live in California...

Which is what inspired me to do this shoot.

In November 2008, California passed the ‘Marriage Protection Act’ also known as Proposition 8, which declares that marriage is only valid between a man and woman in the state of California. As a form of photographic silent protest, The NoH8 Campaign was born, created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner, Jeff Parshley.

Personally, I am of the mind to live and let live and continue to wonder why we all just can’t get along. The reason boils down to the vast majority of people who vehemently believe that their way is the right and only way, forever and ever amen, period. Well, if that were so, then I think our Creator might have seen this coming, given pause in mid-creation of mankind, and went back to the drawing board. Besides, with regard to the Proposition 8 argument, heterosexuals in traditional marriages have no room to dispute who holds the title when it comes to domestic dysfunction... and after all, who produces more homosexual babies than heterosexuals?

A couple of weeks before she was due to pop, a small group of awesome people moved mountains and schedules to make this photo happen. Of course, I could have snagged any pregnant model and captured similar symbolism, but the legacy would not have been there... the legacy of love that is this baby’s life.

During make up, Felicia explained why she agreed to be a surrogate for this baby’s fathers as only Felicia could (to paraphrase):

“What is most important to me is that the baby is wanted and loved. When a gay couple chooses to have a baby, it’s most certainly not the result of a drunken one-night-stand or a failure in birth control. It’s not like a gay guy wakes up in a bad relationship and pees on a stick and oops, ‘I’m pregnant; we’re gonna have a baby’ and deals with it. They’ve thought about this and planned for a long time, they’ve gone through a lot, and spent a lot; that baby is wanted very much.”

And it’s true.

Shouldn’t the most important provision in any child’s life be that they are loved and wanted? Not race nor gender nor nationality, not faith nor social status, and not sexuality. If a child is loved and wanted, that is the foundation for a successful, confident, and genuine soul who will grow up to make a beautiful mark upon the world. Everything else is just a learning process.

The shoot itself was a lot of fun. More good times to add to my memory banks with Felicia. --As with any shoot, there is always one photo that stands out from all the rest. Often it’s not the one I originally envisioned, but it’s clear when I see it, it is The One. This photo is IT. And I love it. I love everything it stands for -- peace and love and hope - hope that one day, in spite of ourselves, maybe we can just all get a long.

Baby (boy) G. was born April 6th. Both of his fathers were present at his birth with front row seats, no doubt reaffirming their sexuality (anyone who has witnessed the miracle of birth knows exactly what I mean). I was fortunate enough to meet them both and Baby G. The love and excitement in the room was intoxicating and infectious. I felt like a happy spy witnessing something truly wonderful, special, and amazing, a historic cornerstone in our changing times, as I watched this new happy family discovering themselves, like any new family beginning the next chapter of their lives... And of course, Felicia was right, this baby is so loved, so wanted... and what a lucky little lamb.

NoH8 by Luna Soledad
Baby G. (NoH8 baby), a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.

Then one of the dads asked if I’d like to hold him. Are you kidding me? What sane woman would pass up the opportunity to hold and snuggle a newborn? I practically threw my camera down. And then there he was, nestled in the crook of my arm, light as a feather and sleeping like an angel, smelling of Heaven.

He was beautiful and perfect. Just like love.

“They are preserving the sanctity of marriage, so that two gay men who've been together for twenty-five years can't get married, but a guy can still get drunk in Vegas and marry a hooker at the Elvis chapel! The sanctity of marriage is saved!”

...Lea DeLaria

14 April 2011


Whataburger. by Luna Soledad
Whataburger., a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
Considered by many to be a Texas delicacy, I could not resist snapping a phone photo of my Whataburger while in Dallas, similar to this one, and texting it to my favorite displaced Texans...

For years I heard my ex-husband (also a Texan) and friends talk about this great, greasy phenomena and I always thought "waterburger" was a strange name for a burger chain. It wasn't until 2000 when I drove from Raleigh to Brownsville with my soon-to-be-ex-husband (to say it was a hellish haul would be an understatement) to finally meet my soon-to-be-ex-in-laws that I first had a taste of Whataburger. Sure it's yummy, in that clog-your-arteries kind of way, but not sure it was worth all the hype, but then again, I'm not from Texas so I suspect I am somewhat immune to the nostalgia.

In any case, my husband was the first to reply to my taunting text visual, stating simply that I sucked. However, my favorite response came quickly from my adoring sister, Elvia:

"I would cuss u out but I gave up cussing for Lent! Enjoy and I hope you get diarrhea!"

"Sacred cows make the best hamburger."

...Mark Twain

20 March 2011

happy Saint Birthday.

the wreck. by Luna Soledad
the wreck. a photo by Luna Soledad on Flickr.
Kevin is a Saint Patrick's day baby and as is customary, we must have his birthday lunch at an Irish pub, so we closed the office for a leisurely couple of hours to try out a new spot that had just opened near by just in time for the mad Irish rush...

Ballymor Irish Pub sounded great, mouth-watering even, on the web and I suppose to be fair, I'll have to visit another day when they're offering more than their holiday menu of three whole items served in fine paper Chinet with plastic cutlery before completely dissin' them.

En route back to the office on Six Forks Road, traffic had come to a complete halt... I was just beginning to wonder if there was a wreck up ahead when I heard the screeching of tires seconds before being slammed into the driver's seat in front of me. Holy hell... there goes my back again.

Poor Partner Esq. (previously known as The Associate Esq.) -- we always make him drive when we go out as he is childless at present and therefore has the cleanest and roomiest vehicle. And apparently also the safer of the two vehicles involved in the rear-end collision as the car which struck us was pretty much totaled while the Explorer maintained its dignity with only some bumper scuffing and the dislodging of the spare tire beneath the rear end.

The other younger fellow was shaken up of course but very nice and apologetic. We all waited together while Raleigh's finest did their thing and the wrecker arrived hauling off the other vehicle. The fellow began chatting casually with the guys asking where we worked...

The Husband, Esq. gave a little chuckle and simply replied, "Just right down the street."

"What do you do?" he inquired.

The Husband, Esq. and The Partner, Esq. exchanged comical glances before The Husband, Esq. said, "We're attorneys."

"Oh nice," the now carless driver says, "I just hit two lawyers."

The look on his face was priceless. (No one bothered to tell him that it was The Husband, Esq.'s birthday too and The Partner, Esq. was now running late for court...)

An hour or so later, my back is already on fire and seizing up on me so I dip into my emergency stash of pain relief while trying to score a last minute chiropractic appointment. As a result, The Husband, Esq. is charged with picking up Liam from daycare... only to phone me 20 minutes later to inform me that he had gotten a ticket for expired inspection. Oh yay.

I asked him if he mentioned to the cop that he'd already been involved in an accident. No, he said, but he did ask the officer why he hadn't wished him a happy birthday... the cop smiled sheepishly and told him he hoped his day got better.

So probably NOT Kevin's happiest birthday, but definitely one of his most memorable. Love you anyway babe!

Such is life...

"The return of my birthday, if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape."

...Samuel Johnson

14 March 2011

life is an autobahn.

This weekend was supposed to be my desperately needed Girl's Weekend, though not only is 'Law a jealous mistress,' she's also a trifling bitch who stacked this week's calendar for The Husband, Esq. with, among other festivities, a 2-day trial and 2-day mediation which meant either I gave up my Girl's Weekend or find myself a new job and a new place to live (read = hide) 'cause when The Husband, Esq. shifts into Trial Mode, well -- remember the Incredible Hulk Series when, in just about every episode, somebody would start some shit and David Banner would say, "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." -- he doesn't turn green or anything, but my usually easy-going, joke-cracking, wise-guy hubby turns into a hyper-focused, ultra-competitive Pitt bull who is anything but fun to be around... SO, I packed up the offspring and headed to Virginia to play single-mom with my sister and left the hubs at the mercy of his Mistress...

His famous last words to me: "Don't get in trouble and if you do, make sure it's in North Carolina so it won't cost me as much." Doh, JINX!

Fast forward to Sunday's return trip back to Raleighwood...

On the NC border, Virginia State Route 85 is a nice easy stretch of divided highway cutting through miles of beautiful woods and farmland; not a bad drive at all really. Except for the numerous "Official Use Only" cut-thru / turn-arounds spaced every mile or two or three that just kind-of sneak up on you when you're barreling ass down the road. Sometimes with a car parked up in there. Sometimes the car parked up in there has little lights up on top, blue ones... like the one that pulled me over in Dinwiddie.

Once upon a time as a Criminal Justice student at WTCC, I incidentally discovered that having a stash of Criminal Law books in the front seat was a helpful gimmick for avoiding traffic tickets. Especially since, back then, most any badge carrying law enforcement professional in the greater North Carolina triangle area had studied under the much beloved Bob Decatsye and Mickey Williamson at one time or another. One peek in my window would strike a conversation about school on to, "How's ole Deke?" and end with a quick lecture on slowing it down and wishing me luck. Hell, it worked so well that long after I had left my studies to provide for myself, I kept a text book or two in the car for just such occasions... ahhh, those were the days...

As soon as I saw the Virginia State Police Officer sitting there in that little turn as I whizzed right on by in the bright red Jeep, I knew he had me so I went ahead and eased into the right lane and waited for him to catch up. Dammit! I thought. Great, I'm never gonna hear the end of it. I thought. Oh shit! What's the gun law in Virginia? I thought.

I dug my .38 out and placed it in plain view on the front passenger's seat in between my purse, camera, scratched CD's, miscellaneous junk, and kiddie provisions and prepared for the worst.

Hands on the steering wheel squarely at 10 and 2, I announced as the officer reached the driver's window, "I have a loaded pistol in the car."

"Is it registered to you?" he inquired without batting an eye.

"Yes sir."

"Not a problem," he said, "but ma'am, you were going 85 mph, and that's a problem."

He peeked in the car at the kids in the back seat at Isabel who smiled and waved and Liam, completely passed out, drooling on his seat belt. Too bad, he would have been much more excited about the encounter than I was.

The officer returned handing me my driver's license and the traffic citation for 85 in a 70 zone and proceeded to give me the court spiel and share with me tales of his last stop of two guys doing 90 mph who wanted to argue with him on the side of the highway, "I told him, 'Man I am not the person you need to be arguing with because you're gonna lose.'" --Yeah, I could tell that about him.

"Well," I said, "I know better, my husband is an attorney. Unfortunately, not licensed to practice in the state of Virginia though."

"I bet he's got some friends up here who can help you out," he offered.

"If he doesn't, he's about to be making one."

"A successful lawsuit is the one worn by a policeman."

...Robert Frost

02 March 2011


attack., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

1. professional character, spirit, or methods.
2. the standing, practice, or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur.
So recently, The Husband, Esq., had a Equitable Distribution mediation in yet another tedious, though not exceptionally complex, domestic matter... or at least it shouldn't have been all that complicated as The Husband, Esq. had figured on settling the remaining issues in around 3 hours considering that a threesome of experienced, heavy-hitter legal professionals were allegedly working toward a common goal: getting the parties to agree on stuff within the confines of the law.

A mediation, for those who don't know, is a costly process whereby the two parties involved in the matter come together with their attorneys in a common location (though in separate rooms) and a neutral third party attorney 'mediates' (between the parties' rooms) through their respective counsels in attempts to reach an agreement in what is basically a last ditch effort to avoid an even more costly court trial.

The specifics of the matter are mute in this story even if I could tell it; what is important to know is that there's a certain amount of ethics that go into how attorney's behave themselves and rules of conduct and such, like not directly speaking to nor contacting the Opposing Party who you know to be represented by counsel absent of the courtroom and only while they are on the stand. (For Pro Se parties, that is another matter entirely because then you are your own counsel... and we've all heard the phrase, "...fool for a client.") And of course, it goes without saying that as a professional, one is expected to conduct oneself as a professional, play nice, use good manners, and all the other life lessons learned in preschool.

The anticipated 3 hour mediation began around 9-ish... and ended approximately NINE hours later. Hardly a record, but, well, you can imagine the frustration and irritation after spending an entire day arguing with no real break to speak of, not to mention, the heightened emotional state of the parties.

It was near this time of day that the Opposing Counsel was inexplicably compelled to stick her head into The Husband, Esq.'s conference room to fuel the fire and verbally slight The Husband, Esq.'s client. WTF? (Anyone who knows The Husband, Esq. should know that challenge and confrontation doesn't end well.) After a brief exchange, The Husband, Esq. tells her to GET OUT.

Not one to be told what to do, the Opposing Counsel appears yet again in the conference room of The Husband, Esq. with more copies of more last minute changes and revisions that had not been on the table for discussion and commences to pass them out between The Husband, Esq. and his client. Words are exchanged loudly and she is told again to GET OUT.

(Here's the good part...)

At this point, having nothing left in her professional arsenal of assault, this 50-ish Doctor of Jurisprudence / Opposing Counsel resorts to hunching over and waiving her arms and hands wildly about in a creepy spell-casting fashion, not dissimilar to a 12 year old bully mimicking the legendary boogie-man, and in a juvenile taunt exclaims, "Oooooh, Keviiin's getttinnng maaaad!" while backing out of the room like a lunatic... leaving The Husband, Esq. sitting there with his mouth hanging open, utterly dumbfounded and speechless. --A rarity indeed.

Again, W.T.F.? Really???

The good news is that in spite of the antics, the parties somehow managed to settle and The Husband, Esq. had a jolly good time reenacting the episode for his darling wife that evening and his staff the next day.

Of course, my personal fun in all this was coming up with a list of appropriate come-backs:

  1. "I know I am but what are you?" (submitted by Alvin)
  2. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me."
  3. In a Jack Nicholson impression from the classic movie, 'A Few Good Men,' "You can't handle the truth!"
  4. "I'm tellin'." (again, Alvin) ...and when all else fails there's always,
  5. Placing one's thumbs in each ear while waving fingers and sticking out one's tongue.

Just another fun-filled adventure from your friendly neighborhood law office! ;-)

"No letters after your name are ever going to be a total guarantee of competence any more than they are a guarantee against fraud. Improving competence involves continuing professional development ... That is the really crucial thing, not just passing an examination."

...Colette Bowe

25 February 2011

happy 84.

a lifetime of love., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Today is my Grandma's 84th birthday.

She has certainly seen better days. Visiting her now is always bittersweet for me as the essence of the wonder-woman I grew up with has all but moved on waiting patiently for her soul to follow...

She's tired, I know this, and is winding down. Her health is failing and her appetite gone. It's hard to convince her to eat anything especially when she's quick to argue about the big breakfast she just cooked and how she can't eat another bite, even though it's 6pm and she hasn't been in front of a stove in years.

She sleeps a lot these days, making up for all that she's missed in her long lifetime I suppose, but a couple of weeks ago she fell into a deep, sound sleep giving quite a fright to all who love her. When she finally woke in the evening, she indicated to my aunt that she was fine and had spent the day talking with the Lord. The Lord told her that soon he would heal her and take her home; she said that was fine by her.

That is so Grandma.

Grandma has always had a strong faith in God though she rarely went to church. Her church was the outdoors, her gardens, her flowers, the wilderness, and wildlife. I believe Grandma knows the truth. I also believe that her truth is one of many.

She died once, many years ago on the operating table during a procedure. She told me of how she watched from above all the commotion as doctors and nurses scurried frantically about her body in attempts to revive her. Like so many others have recounted of near death experiences, she saw the "tunnel of lights" and felt completely at peace, ready for the journey. She saw a hand move away from her and understood that it was not her time... She awoke later in the hospital with vivid memories of her encounter.

When I was young, Grandma and I had many conversations about death and dying and God and what we thought happened next. We made a promise to each other that whoever went first would try our best to come back and let the other know we got there okay.

I don't know how I will ever face it, but I know that time is coming.

Kevin, the kids and I went to see her recently and took some of her favorite foods in hopes that she would eat: pimento cheese (yuk!), fresh strawberries, applesauce, and a couple of new things to try - blackberry flavored water and a Starbucks coffee.

Grandma always loved her coffee and sweet tea (the mother's milk of the south). After more than eight decades, I decided it was high-time she had her first Starbucks. So I took her one: a sugar-free 1/2 decaf. Cinnamon Dolce with whole milk.

Each time she tasted it, she said it was downright delicious. She ate a quarter of a pimiento cheese sandwich before telling me again about her big breakfast. She tried the blackberry flavored water and told me how she could make it taste much better because it wasn't sweet enough, "All you gotta do is stew some fresh blackberries with a cup or two of sugar..." she said, which kinda defeats the purpose when you're diabetic but I'm sure she was right. After a slice or two of strawberries, she began trying to feed the children, who were happy to eat Grandma's strawberries and Grandma was happy to see the children eat them.

"Okay Grandma, how about you have the applesauce and Liam will eat the strawberries, he hasn't been eating well."

I turned to my son, "Tell you what, for every bite of applesauce Grandma eats, you have to eat a strawberry," I said as I was cutting the berry halves into minuscule pieces.

Worked like a charm and both Grandma and Liam finished all of their fruit while Isabel gobbled down the remainder of the uneaten pimento cheese sandwich. Grandma was very proud of Liam for eating all of his strawberries. ;-)

84 years: 1st Starbucks., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

"Oh Grandma," I said for the dozenth time, "I brought you a coffee to try. It's from a coffee shop called Starbucks. I think you'll like it; it has cinnamon in it."

And once again, she would try her very first Starbucks latte and proclaim in surprise, "Well Crys, I've never had coffee like this before but this is downright delicious."

Happy Birthday Grandma!
I love you! Always and always.

"Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete."

...Marcy DeMaree

21 February 2011

ice cream floats.

Eve & me, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

IBC Root Beer, in my humble opinion, is the best stuff. And makes the most awesome root beer float, even with the diet root beer. Not sure why we fool ourselves with the whole diet soda bit when coupled with something like ice cream or a Big Mac, but we do. It's as if by shaving off a few soda calories we're giving ourselves permission to indulge elsewhere, but whatever...

So last night, I made myself a (diet) IBC Root Beet float with Bryers chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream. Liam thought it was the strangest concoction he'd ever seen until he tasted it. --My mistake. That's like feeding a dog from the table - then you have to listen to it whine and beg throughout dinner.

My favorite part of an ice cream float is when the ice cream freezes from the cold soda and produces those delicious little ice cream flavored icebergs in the mug - a cold crunchy delight. =)

I remember once back in Germany, hanging out with my sister Evelyn... We hit the Baskin Robbins on post at Leighton Barracks for ice cream floats. Oh the days of simple joys... As we continued our stroll across base, me sipping my yummy float and hunting for icebergs, Eve suddenly makes a mad dash for the nearest trashcan as if she would vomit up bile and spat out a mouthful of her ice cream float.

"OMG, it's ROOT BEER!" she exclaimed in utter disgust.

"Uhm, yeah, that's generally how ice cream floats are made," I replied.

"That's disgusting. I hate root beer. It's supposed to be Coke!"

"Coke? THAT'S disgusting," I said looking at her as though that was the craziest thing I'd ever heard. "A Coke float? On what planet?"

"Puerto Rico!"

"Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone."

...Jim Fiebig

18 February 2011

a perfectly good diaper.

baby + prunes..., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
So yesterday I took a break from life and lost myself in the safe, soothing labyrinth of words, wisdom, and personal amusement commonly referred to as "the bookstore." --The day had been such a downward spiral of aggravation riddled with angst and irritation that I had no choice but to remove myself from the rat-race and fade into some deliriously enjoyable escape that can only be found in solitude between the covers of a good book... I collected a pile to review, found a lone vacant chair, popped a Klonopin, wrote a few lines of nastiness in my red Moleskine, and thumbed through my selections waiting for the daggered edge to leave me.

After an hour or so, I calmly, coolly, and collectively rose from my hideaway and made my way toward the register, only to find myself distracted en route by a book entitled, "Sh*t My Kids Ruined." How could I not pick that up?

I stood alone in the store flipping page after page through a glorious pictorial of the joys of parenting in its finest moments... and the wake of destruction left behind by our spawn. Photographs of everything from microwaved Barbies and Hot Wheels cars... strewn cereal, baby powder, flour, condiments, and nearly anything imaginable found in a household that comes in a box or bottle... a carpet cleaner filled with a gallon of milk... fantastic poop catastrophes... the artistic devastation that only Sharpie markers can create - on leather sofas, carpet, cabinets, and walls... broken windows, appliances, shower doors, plasma TVs and laptops... and my personal favorite - that literally had me laughing out loud: a photo of someone's hard-earned college diploma from Louisiana State University completely adorned in a toddler's scrawl!

It was exhilarating! Like an unmistakable sign from the universe that screamed at me: "YOU ARE NOT ALONE!" Yay I thought! =D

And this little therapeutic antidote began as a website started by a fellow frustrated and no-doubt exhausted mother, whose pain (and comedy) I deeply feel.

I mean sure, I could probably write my own book complete with pictorials of shit my kids have ruined over the years -- from clothing, food, and furniture to floors, carpet, walls, VHS tapes and DVD's... beautiful days and perfectly good diapers... not to mention my sanity, which leads me to this post:

Once upon a time when Liam was but a wee lad of 7 months, the family unit and I set out for some quality time on a lovely spring Saturday in April (because like pets, you feel guilty if you don't take them for a walk once in a while). We spent a few hours at a local carnival and as it was such a lovely day, we decided to ride out to the beautiful Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina for some fresh air and sunshine in a scenic atmosphere in hopes of capturing some life long memories in photographs.

Well, we certainly accomplished that!

We pulled into a parking spot and began to disembark though quickly discovered, much to our disgust and horror, that we had had a major blowout. "O.M.G." cannot even begin to describe the sight I beheld...

I called to Kevin, who, cued by the panic-stricken shriek in my voice, bolted over to my side of the car where we both stood, mouths gaping open like black holes of disbelief at our darling, happily-smiling cherubic baby son, completely covered from head to toe in SHIT. Yes, that's right, s-h-i-t. --It looked as if this child, clothing, car seat and all, had be dipped into a well-used septic tank. How on earth one tiny being produced such an explosion of foulness I will never know. Wow. It was truly impressive. Not a proud moment mind you, but impressive none-the-less. Holy hell.

"Give him prunes she said..." Kevin finally says in his best wife-mocking voice breaking the spell -- just as shitty happy baby stops flailing his fat little arms and legs in delight -- and completely in slow-motion to the viewing world around him -- reaches up with his little diarrhea-coated dimpled fist and plants it right in his mouth!...

I'm not sure if I gagged first or shouted, "Nooooo!" while leaping with the stealth of a Cheetah to grab his hand (again it was all a slow-motion blur) but irregardless, my prey escaped me and thus the day forevermore became known as: "The Day Liam Ate Poop."

As I said, it was a beautiful spring day. A lovely day for a wedding in fact, of which there were two. --Imagine the looks of horror, disgust, judgment, and pity on the upturned faces of many an old money wedding guest crossing the parking lot adorned in their finest formals, off to celebrate the blissful unions of their loved ones. And here we were laughing hysterically and taking pictures (memories to last a lifetime ya know) engaged in the shit-fest of the century, disassembling a crap-covered car seat, with trash bags full of dirty clothes and yucky baby wipes - and a naked, brown-speckled baby on the asphalt.

I don't think I've ever felt like such a hillbilly in my life, though we did have the good grace to deposit our abundant garbage in the proper receptacles - only after of course giving baby Poo-zilla a quick sink bath in one of the wedding reception hall's bathrooms...

And yes Liam, my little love, you can expect to see this photo again one day... in your own wedding reception slide show! ;-)

"Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

...Theodore Sturgeon

10 February 2011

adventures in ALE.

cheers!, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.
A lot of people don't know this about me... I was once a "narc" - though the slang term is somewhat misleading. More accurately, I was an undercover volunteer with a Raleigh division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, interestingly enough during my aspiring underage drinking days of high school. Of course, I justified this hypocrisy with the fact that even as an young immature party-goer I had strict self-imposed rules about drinking and driving (riding with my lunatic alcoholic high school boyfriend Stephen was more than enough to scare anyone straight) and the fact that my life's ambition at the time was to join the DEA. Go figure.

Even then I was smart enough to know that such a gig would look great on a resume... and it came with an adrenalin rush all its own.

It all started one evening waiting tables at the little seafood and barbecue restaurant on 50 Highway (way before I-40), the Country Squire, where I used to work. I had a six-top of unusually mixed fellows who didn't look at all like they belonged together with some clean cut in suits and a a couple rough-neck-looking types in leather motorcycle gear. Naturally I was suspicious until a jacket fell open and I spied a badge. Aha. The curiosity was killing me so I just flat out asked who they worked for. The next thing I know they collectively interviewed me and I gave them my number. I was 16.

As an undercover minor, my job was to drive some piece of shit impounded drug car to various convenience stores and bars and attempt to purchase alcohol with my valid NC drivers license looking like the teenager I was complete with pony-tail and orthodontic retainer. I would drive up alone, go in the store, pick out a six pack of beer, and go to the counter to purchase it. Soon to be followed by an undercover ALE agent picking up sodas, snacks, and gum or whatever else was on our collective wish list. If the cashier asked for ID, I showed them and often they still made the sale. I was amazed how easy it was. I mean, I knew all the hot spots in Johnston County to purchase anything but that was out in the sticks; JoCo still had bootleggers for Pete's sake. But wow. --If there was a bust, we'd meet up and do paperwork, statements, etc.

I also acted in several service training videos over the couple of years that I worked for them, though I never saw them. Betcha didn't know I was such a movie star either. ;-)

The most interesting sting I was part of involved Fairlanes bowling alley in Raleigh which no longer exists. A bartender there served 12 pitchers of beer to three teenage boys one night... one of them never made it home. WTF? TWELVE pitchers?!! That's FOUR a piece. What makes anyone think that even a legal adult should be allowed to tank up like that and turned loose on the roads? Oh, I was all in for that one.

So the night of the Fairlanes bust, I went in alone allegedly waiting for my fictitious boyfriend and friends who would never arrive while the entire ALE division bowled at the other end of the alley. --A waitress came up and asked what I'd like to drink; I ordered some domestic beer or another as my taste had yet to mature so I didn't know any better. I see her at the bar chatting with a handsome young fellow obviously full of himself and checking me out (hey, I was purdy cute back then)... She quickly returns to tell me with a wink that I would have to order from the bar but not to worry he was cool. So I walk up to Mr. Cool Bartender and place my order. He asked for my ID and I handed it over. He takes a look and smiles at me, "I'm sorry sweetheart, you've got to be 21 to buy beer." Before I could even reply, he flips my drivers license over and slides it back to me across the counter. "Let's try this again," he says, "how old are you?" "Sixteen," I respond with my best retainer smile. He kind of shakes his head like he cannot believe how stupid I am and then decided to give me one more chance, "One more time. How old are you?" "Twenty-one." He smiles and pours my beer. I walk off and pretend to sip my beer as the agents conclude their game.

It was the same bartender who had served the teenage boys.

My first time ever in a court room was as a witness in the Fairlanes case and yeah, I was nervous as hell when I took the stand. Needless to say, the handsome bartender wasn't smiling at me then. The defense attorney was your stereotypical hard-ass and did his best to bully me into confessing that I had intentionally deceived the unknowing bartender so each question that he asked repetitiously five different ways was answered something like this: "After showing Mr. Cool my valid North Carolina drivers license stating that I am sixteen years of age and after verbally telling him once that I was sixteen years of age, then yes, I said that I was 21 as he indicated that's what he wanted to hear..."

He was convicted and Fairlanes was fined. I remember the judge saying something he thought wise, like the moral of a story in the even he ever was quoted for something great, such as, 'If we can raise our children with strong morals and values until adulthood and shield them from harmful influences, they will be better equipped to make mature decision and use good judgment as adults...'

I thought that was sound wisdom until I moved to Germany and realized that if you could reach the bar you could order a beer and that strangely there wasn't a huge problem with teenage alcohol abuse. I mean, even in a country which brews the best beer in the world, in a society where ale is traditionally a staple with meals and kids grow up with access, where's the fun in sneaking around and getting shit-faced when you can sit down and have a beer with your parents at dinner? Besides, the public transportation is so superior that no one need ever drive a car and cannot afford to really until well into their 20's when they've had time to save the $2000 or so it costs to get a drivers license. Sure, DUI's happen there too (and believe me, the Polezei don't play), but more often than not, they're on bicycles. --So sure, raise your kids to be good people, I get that, but I also believe greatly in the temptation of forbidden fruit.

Anyhoo... working undercover was an extraordinary (and dare I say fun?) experience and has been an interesting topic of conversation in job interviews ever since though ultimately my career path inevitably veered after my first born. --I'm always quick to point out too, that during this time period, I was also a full-time high school student, drove an elementary school bus, and waited tables 20-30 hours a week as proof of my ability to multitask with great efficiency... though again, this was once upon a time well before marriage and children another world ago. Most importantly, I gained a unique perspective into the working lives of the men and women in law enforcement and a healthy respect for the truly good guys. I did go on to major in Criminal Justice and had a heck of a lot of fun participating in Officer Survival Training playing the role of a criminal, not to mention DUI training... but that is but another blog...

And as it so happened, my connections got me out of a few traffic tickets over the years as well, but of course these days, I have The Husband, Esq for that. ;-)


"You can't be a Real Country unless you have a BEER and an airline -- it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a BEER."

...Frank Zappa