Sunday, April 29, 2012

Random Post About Greece

I have traveled to Greece twice. Once in late 1996, and again in the summer of 1997. I fell in love with the country, but have not been back since.

My first trip to Greece was a whirlwind cruise with my mother and grandfather. I was probably the youngest person on the ship by a good 20 years, and yet I had a blast. For one thing being a young woman on a cruise of significantly older patrons, made me quite popular with the cruise staff. I was the recipient of a good deal of attention, and I would be lying if I told you that it didn't feel nice. My fondest memory of the trip involves a cheesy dinner at a winery. The evening was created for tourists, older tourists, and involved a single shot of ouzo and some folk dancers. There were not a lot of drinkers in our crowd, so I received more than my share of ouzo shots, and ended up being dragged on stage with a troupe of attractive young male folk dancers. The night got fuzzy after a while, but I remember dry heaving in the shower the next morning. Not so cool. I actually missed touring tha Acropolis because I was too hungover. My grandfather would not let me live that one down.

During that trip we also toured Santorini, that picturesque town of white washed, blue roofed buildings on the seaside. It was lovely. We stopped in Kusadasi a Turkish town, and enjoyed a beer and baklava in an outdoor restaurant as we listened to the traditional call to prayer.

It was my first time out of the United States and it was such an amazing experience. The country was so old and so different. I loved the food, the pungent feta cheese, the salty olives and all of the fresh fish. I loved the small towns we desended upon in our giant tour bus. We would walk through the cobblestone streets stopping to pet the stray cats, and order strong coffee.

The next time I visited I was with my future husband. We were in the midst of a back-pack-through-Europe adventure, and on an extremely tight budget. We stayed in hostels for $7/night and pinched every penny, which was not hard to do in Greece. My favorite memory of that trip was our time on a little island of Ageina. Ageina, is not particularly a tourist destination, but it was close to Athens and cheap to get to. We stayed at a dirt cheap youth hostile which served up delicious iced coffees every morning, along with stale bread and butter. We rented a motor bike and road around the island in our swimsuits, insuring a beautiful tan. We would ride from one end of the island to the other, stopping for seafood dinners, wine and a nap in the sun. With the last name Kargas, my husband made friends easily. We chatted up the locals and were often served free food. It was one of the best times of my life.

Greece may just be the best place I have ever visited. I had hoped to return long before now, and currently it seems like it may never happen again, or at least not for another ten years. By the time I get there I'll probably insist on a helmet while riding a motorbike and will want to stay in a five start hotel. It won't be the same....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Real conversation:

Zack: Mom! Evan is teasing me!
Evan: I am not!
Zack: Yes you are. You are a mean bully!
Evan : I hate you! I'm going to kick you in the face.
Zack: Mom, Evan is threatening me.
Evan: Mom, Zachary is being really mean to me.
Me: Boys,work it out and stop telling on each other. I don't want to hear it.
Zack: You are the worst brother in whole world.
Evan: Mom! Zachary is still being mean to me.
Me: I said, work it out.
Evan: Ouch! Zachary just pinched me.
Zachary: I did not! You're lying.
Evan: Poopy head!
Zachary: Mom! Evan called me a poopy head.
Me: The next person who tells on their brother is going to their room!
Zachary: Evan just kicked me!
Evan: I'm telling!
Zachary: Mom-Evan is telling on me!

Really? Really?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

People I Want To Give A Big Squishy Hug To

I am feeling a little less snarky then usual today, so rather than a post about people I want to punch in the face, I am doing a happier piece: People I Want To Give A Big Squishy Hug To.

1) Ms. Lottie at the Wesely Wash & Fold. Oh Ms. Lottie, the Goddess of Laundry how I adore her. My washer is on the fritz once again, and thus I am forced to take my mountain of dirty clothes to a Laundromat. I have learned that for only a few bucks more, Ms. Lottie will not only wash all of my laundry, she will also neatly fold each and every piece. Even Evan's underwear are returned to me in neat little squares. Ms. Lottie is an angel. She calls me baby or sugar and is always cheerful and happy to see me. Thank you Ms. Lottie. Maybe we shouldn't bother getting the washer fixed.
2) Little Ethan Anderson. Ethan is my son's current best friend. I say current because he and his family are moving out of state as soon as the school year is over. Ethan was the first little boy Zack noticed in his kindergarten class. He requested a play date last fall. We had him over for ice cream sundaes and time in the sprinkler. There have been play dates every week since then. We have spent a lot of time with Ethan, and when they aren't punching each other or teasing one another about girls, Zachary adores him. He will miss him. It wasn't until Ethan informed me that he is moving away and "will never, ever come back." that I realized that I will miss the little guy myself. I've gotten used to him. Just the other day after I gave Zack a hug, Ethan came in for one too. A real hug. Kid's don't lie about that kind of thing. Children are resilient, and while I know Zack will be sad to see his friend go, he will quickly make others. Ethan however, was his first best friend.
3) All of my blog readers and friends who have been cheering me on in my efforts to start running again. It isn't easy, and you are keeping me motivated.  Keep it coming. I need all the help I can get!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dusting off the running shoes.

For those of you who read the post about my midlife crisis yesterday, you know that I have started running again. By running I really mean jogging, slowly.

I used to consider myself a runner, but in all honestly I was never much of an athlete. I jogged 3-5 miles a day, never less, rarely more. I just wanted to keep fit. I never participated in races or pushed myself too hard, but running was a part of my daily life. It was part of who I was. Until it wasn't anymore. After Zachary, I got back into running fairly quickly, and was in the best shape of my life. My husband and I would take the baby in the stroller and run together. With the extra load, my husband was more at my speed and we would take 5-8 mile runs side by side on a regular basis. After Evan, however, time became tighter, life became crazier and as a result, I ran less frequently. After Julian, well forget about it. I had a lot of reasons not to exercise, time, exhaustion, etc.

I realized recently that I missed it. Since I was a teenager, running was something that I have always done, it was part of me. It was time to myself, time to think, get the blood moving and to feel alive. I have decided that it was time to strap on my rusty running shoes again and get moving.

It isn't easy. I'm less than two weeks into it, but I have been fairly diligent. Over the past twelve days I have gone out seven times. It has felt good. It has felt like me, except that while running three miles used to be routine, I now find myself red faced and sore after a short run. It is actually a bit embarrassing, running around Lake Merritt, getting passed constantly as I chug along at a snails pace, sweating. Today was probably one of my low points. It was warm, and I was slow. I jogged passed someone I knew and felt ashamed to be seen in such a sorry state.

But I'm not going to give up. In a few months I'll look back on where I was today (and this red-faced photograph) and feel a sense of accomplishment. I'm getting back into shape. I'm getting this part of me back.

Here we go.... cheerleading welcome.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Midlife Crisis Time

I'm 37. Is that too young for a mid-life crisis? I'm not sure, but I think that I may be in the midst of one.

I am feeling dissatisfied. I am feeling unsure. I'm starting to contemplate"finding myself." Feel free to gag. I don't know just what fueled all of this, but now that it's been ignited, I'm burning up with angst. What am I doing? Where is my passion? What do I want? WHO AM I? Damn it, it sounds like I am 17. The cliche of our thirties is that everyone is so freaking happy. I constantly hear about women who finally are "comfortable in their own skin." But I feel lost. I feel completely uncomfortable.

Who the hell am I? Yoga-pant wearing soccer mom, planning play dates and making nice with the PTA? Hipster-wanna-be, drinking Bud Light and watching reality TV? Working Girl, balancing career/parenthood and a busy social calendar?

Honestly, I bounce back and forth, still trying to figure it all out. Over the past several years, everything has changed. I moved far from what was "home", I got pregnant and had another baby miles from my family. I became a stay-at-home-mom. I started working, quit working, and starting working *part-time* again.

So now, I am attempting to discover exactly who the heck I am. I have decided to invest more time and effort into really living life, rather than going through the day to day motions. I joined a book club and I continue to write this blog. I auditioned to read an essay in a local show and failed. I have started to pay more attention to my appearance. I have stepped up my wardrobe and sometimes even (gasp) wear eye makeup, in an attempt to feel more like a woman, and less like a "mom." I'm jogging, something I gave up almost two years ago, but that was always part of my identity and self esteem. I have contemplated dating my husband again. My marriage is easy, and perhaps it shouldn't be. Maybe my relationships require more investment and work to be meaningful. If this doesn't sound like a true midlife crisis to you, it's because I have restraint. There is a part of me who would like to run away to a place where nobody knows me, become a waitress, get a tummy tuck, and learn to ride a motorcycle. But if there is one thing that I do know about me, it is that I would never do that. I love my family. I love my husband and I have a good life. I have too much at stake, too much to leave behind.

And so because I cannot completely reinvent myself, I have to find a way to discover and create myself with reason and maturity, which is hard to do when so much of me just cries out with selfish want.

I am certain that I am not the only person to go through this, and thus the invention of the term "midlife crisis." Yet it's hard not to feel confused and alone. I don't want to be old. I don't want to be just a mom and wife. I want to figure out me. I want to have a sense of who I am. I want to have my own interests and to actually be... interesting.

This isn't an essay with a tidy ending, because really, all of this is just a begining. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm moving, I am trying, and that is finally...something.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Break Recap

The Kargas family survived spring break 2012. To be honest, Florida was far better than I expected. There were some genuinely good moments. Morning jogs, sunny strolls with Julian on the beach, playing in the pool, and date nights with The Husband. We ate a lot of shrimp, and (I) drank a lot of fruity cocktails. We saw alligators and we all got tans.

There were also the not-so-happy moments. The travel days to and from Florida were supremely exhausting. While Zachary was for the most part very well behaved, the time difference, lack of sleep and activity overload proved too much for Evan. Our three year old had meltdowns on an hourly basis. As expected, much of my beach time was spent trying to pull foreign sandy objects out of Julian's mouth, and the few family restaurant meals we had were less than pleasant.

In the end I will admit that I am glad we went. With the free (grandparent) babysitting, I kick-started my running routine and had a much needed opportunity to reconnect with The Husband over seafood and cocktails. And bottom line, the kids had an absolute blast and you just can't put a pricetag on that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

People I Want To Punch In The Face: Victoria's Secret & Southwest Airlines

Another riveting addition of People I Want To Punch In The Throat/Face/Gut.

1) The Victoria's Secret Sales Lady. I don't frequent Victoria's Secret often. There are a variety of reasons. For starters, I hate the advertising. Men across the world fantasize about their airbrushed models and this is precisely why I hate the retailer. When I look at those women positioned just so, their backs arched, pushing forward breasts so firm they don't require a bra, and an arm draped across a washboard stomach, I feel a tad bit inadequate. Since my own image in the "Very Sexy Bra" and matching pantie set would look nothing like the barbie model I see in the catalog, I figure, why bother? I usually head straight for Target where you can by six pairs of undies for $20. This leads me to another reason why I don't shop at Vicky's. I don't have the disposable income to spend $150 on a hot pink teddy that, honestly, I'll probably never wear. Garter belts? Don't need them. Silky nightie? I prefer sweats. You get the picture. Finally, Victoria's Secret typically does not carry my size. Surprisingly, although the company uses models that are far from average, their range of sizes is made to fit average women. I am not average. Of course I'm not! Okay, so I don't have those tight abs, and I have a little cellulite, but I do have an ample cup size for a petite woman, and therefor require an unusual size. Which they don't sell. Thus, I usually have to compromise getting a less than perfect fit.

Recently however, I decided it was time to spice up my under-garment wardrobe. By that I mean purchase a bra that is NOT a nursing bra. I ventured into the store on a weekday afternoon with two children in tow, because when do I not have at least one or two kids with me? I bribed Evan with candy and hoped Julian would behave. I needed to be quick. I entered the store and quickly found a sales woman. I asked to be measured because I wasn't quite sure of my size. The sales lady whipped out her tape measure and wrapped it around my bust. "32 B" she declared. I looked at her. I looked down at my chest, and I looked at her again. I told her she needed to measure me again. She shrugged her shoulders and obliged. "32 B, maybe even an A" she dead-panned. "I'm a nursing mother" I stammered in disbelief. "Do I look like an A cup?" She said nothing. I assume she went to Victoria's Secret training camp and they taught her how to calculate cup size by inches. Apparently she wasn't very good at math, and you just can't argue with stupid.

For the fun of it, I told her to grab me the B cup so that I could try it on. I went back to the dressing room, put on the bra and called my little helper in the room to have a look. She opened the the dressing room door, glanced at me and stammered-"Let me go get my manager." Yes dear, why don't you.

Eventually I left the store with a bra in the *sort of* correct size. What should have taken fifteen minutes took thirty. I am thinking that perhaps my sales girl should be fired, or demoted to a stocker. And guess what? I still haven't worn the dumb bra.

2) Southwest Airlines. We just flew from Oakland to Tampa, Florida. A long flight, routing us through Las Vegas. The Vegas-Tampa route was over four hours. When they came around with the drinks, I ordered a Bloody Mary. It was good. Julian was squirmy and fussy and refused sleep. Traveling with three children is hardly relaxing. A Bloody Mary was just what I needed to take the edge off. After one, I wanted another. At least one more. It was a four hour flight. There were no more drinks. No more drinks? I am a mother traveling with three small children, why in the name of God, did they not just hand me a liter bottle of vodka? Idiots.

That's all for tonight folks. Catch you later. Trust me. I have more material.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Today I had one of those experiences where just for a moment I forgot where I was. I was walking Evan to school and I looked up at the sky. I saw a white fluff of clouds above the hills and for a moment they were my snow capped Rockies. A familiar site. I caught myself and realized what I was really looking at. Oakland.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about Denver. We are in the process of renting our home again, so I have been flipping through pictures of the house for the ad. We have been talking about making improvements, new carpet, a sprinkler system, sod. I miss that house. I miss that town.

I didn't exactly grow up in Denver, but it is home. Denver is where I really became a grown up. It's where I became a homeowner, where I made some of my strongest friendships, where I became a mother and an aunt. While living in Denver I celebrated some of the most important milestones of my life. We bought our first home and I planted my first garden. I stood up in my sisters wedding. I turned thirty. I struggled with infertility, and eventually took that first positive pregnancy test. My friends and I became parents together and we transitioned from partying couples to families.

And then we moved.

It isn't that Oakland is a bad place, or that I don't enjoy our lives here. There is plenty to like about the bay area. We have spent the past two and a half years exploring the beaches and the city. We have met nice people and we have good jobs. But now that the boys are getting a little older we have less time for day trips and museums. We have birthday parties, soccer games and school events to attend and I can't help but wish I was doing those home.

Perhaps part of the problem is that I have neither a sense of roots or stability here. We do not own a home in Oakland, and it is hard to invest in a community we aren't committed to. We don't know where we will be even a year from today. Of course, we also do not have family in Oakland. My nieces and nephews are far away, we hardly know each other. The summer prior to moving, I had weekly pool dates with my sister and her son. We would sit in the shallow water while the boys played with each other. I thought that they would grow up as best friends. If life continues in this direction the cousins will have a relationship based on infrequent holiday visits.

As I looked at my "Rockies" this morning, I was flooded with emotion. I blinked back tears and sent my best friend Shannon a text. The only thing I wanted to do at that moment was sit in her backyard drinking a Coors Light. A familiar, comfortable, happy scene. "I miss you" I wrote her. She responded quickly, letting me know that she was there, that she would always be there. All I have to do is come home.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In the mirror

I'm standing in front of my mirror taking myself in. I'm going out and I've dressed up. I check my profile and suck in my stomach. I tug at the hem of my skirt and notice that the heels of my boots need repair. My hair is too poofy, it needs a cut. My face looks drawn and tired, and I can't ignore the lines that keep appearing on my face. My skin is pale and my legs are covered in bruises and scars from last summer's flea epidemic. I am unhappy with the image.

Zachary is behind me when I turn around and announce that I am changing outfits. "Why are you going to change clothes mommy?" he asks. I answer that it is because mommy doesn't feel pretty. "Your crazy" he replies. "You are pretty! You should take a picture!" He means it as much as a six year old can. I'm not sure if he comprehends beauty at his age, but it doesn't matter. To my son, I am as beautiful as any woman for the simple reason that I am his mommy. I wish I could see myself through those eyes. Instead I am plagued with a lifetime of body image issues and self doubt. I always thought that it would go away. When I was an adolescent, I honestly believed that once you landed a man and got married all of one's insecurities would fly out the window. How wrong I was. Being a woman, an aging woman, is hard.

So we did take the picture, and as I look at it, I try to remind myself to be kind. I want to believe that what my son sees is what really matters.

I'm trying.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Please, don't call it a vacation

Family vacation. To Florida. I wish I could muster up a little more excitement. When did vacation become more work then every day life? The packing, the flights, the sleeping arrangements and time differences, the lack of routine it all adds up to a big-NO THANK YOU, in my book, and yet it must be done. My in-laws are snowbirds and now own a home in Venice Beach Florida. It is important to them that we visit, and the kids are really looking forward to it. I on the other hand am exhausted just thinking about it.

It isn't a vacation. Please, for the love of God, do not call it a vacation.

A vacation involves sleeping in.
It involves cocktails by the pool and reading trashy novels.
A vacation means fancy food at fancy restaurants. (Where appetizers are not served with a side of crayons)
A vacation is when someone else makes your bed and cleans your room.
It is pina coladas at 11am, and Coronas at 4.

A vacation is not:
Lugging 3 car seats, 3 suitcases, 4 carry-ons, a double stroller, a baby and 2 kids through an airport.
Sleeping with 2 kids in your bed and waking every few hours to comfort an out-of-sorts 10 month old.
Packing 3 bags of snacks, sand toys, diapers, clothes, towels, and lunches for a 2 hour trip to the beach.
Spending the entire time at the beach monitoring sunscreen applications and sand consumption.
Doing a load of laundry a day.

Let's set the record straight. I'm not going on vacation. I'm taking a family trip. Two very different things.....

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

People I want to punch in the face

A few days ago I wrote a post about "People I want to punch in the throat." I enjoyed venting so much, that I think I may need to make it a regular thing. Because someone has a whole blog with the title, I'll change mine to "People I want to punch in the face" so I don't get in trouble with another blogger. Let's call it blogging etiquette.

#1: My damn cat. Okay, so I realize that my cat does not qualify as a "person", but I want to hurl the six pound fur ball out the window anyways. I'm kidding, please don't go contacting PETA. If you recall that cat is very, very lucky to be alive. But this stinky little rodent is driving me to drink. (Like I need an excuse.) What happened this time? The cat knocked over the remains of Cup-O-Soup on my laptop. Please don't ask me why I was eating Cup-O-Soup, just call me sodium deprived. The freaking cat ruined my computer. Fried the keyboard. To top it off he puked all over my bedspread last night while I was sleeping. I didn't know my blanket was covered in vomit until I woke up this morning. Gross. Gross. Gross.

#2: Myself. Everyone of these stupid animals was my idea. Now I have a house full of dirty animals that will never die.

#3: The pretentious bartender we had had at ZZA's on Friday night. The dude knew all about his wine, and rambled off all kinds of crap about "fullness, notes, and tannins" but when I asked him to take a picture of our little group of friends, he refused and walked away in a huff. Really? Maybe if he took himself a little less seriously and didn't waste his time trying to impress a group of people who just wanted to enjoy some drinks with his amazing wine knowledge he would be able to provide some customer service.

I could go on. And on. But I have a life to get to, believe it or not. There will be more another day. Promise.