Monday, April 05, 2004


August 11, 2003: Thank God! We're going on the road again! Even if it is just to Disneyland. I've developed an addiction to airports! Here's the story. My grown-up married daughter Elizabeth called. "You should come see your granddaughter," she said. "Rosie says about four more words a day. And she loves Sponge Bob!"
I hadn't seen Rosie since April. My only granddaughter was growing up without me. What to do? I couldn't go visit Elizabeth in Los Angeles. She couldn't come visit me. What to do? When Elizabeth was young, I was your typical Berkeley hippie, with all the flowers and bells. What possibly could the daughter of a hippie do to rebel against her mother? What could Elizabeth do to hurt me most? She became a Yuppie!
"Can't bring Rosie to visit you," Elizabeth told me in all sincerity, truly not even aware that she was stabbing daggers into my motherly heart. "Your house is too dirty." How's that for rebellion? It would be like your average modern suburban teenagers telling their distraught parents that they were mainlining drugs. Elizabeth was a neat-freak. And Elizabeth hadn't set foot in my (only slightly measy) house for more than three years.
"But I really would like to see Rosie before she learns to walk," said I.
"She does the cutest thing," Elizabeth said. "She won't crawl. She hates to crawl. She scoots along on her bottom!" Is that cute or what? Gotta go see that. But what to do? I can't go stay at Elizabeth's house in L.A. Are you nuts? Last time I was there, it was all "Don't put your glass down there" and "Hold Rosie like this -- not like that" and "Oh, Mother. You've just left the light on." Or "That doesn't go there. That goes over here."
When Elizabeth comes to Berkeley, she stays in some posh home in the hills. Last time she was up here, Amy and I went over to visit her, bringing a bag of gifts. As I entered the home, I remarked, "What is that smell? It smells like dead animals in here." Elizabeth looked at me, looked at the family dog who had obviously just rolled in something, looked at me again and didn't even think twice.
"It must be coming from the bag you brought," she announced, grabbing the bag and placing it outside the door, ready for me to take back home with me when I left.
Of course we tracked the smell down to the dog, but Elizabeth never even made the connection that she had hurt me yet again. And never even thought to say sorry.
Another Elizabeth story: She's in the hospital, pregnant. Premature labor, eleven days on IV. It's nip and tuck. Me, the frantic mother. 300 miles away. Can't leave work. I fly down to the hospital anyway, run from the airport, run to the hospital. Here I am! Ready to offer moral support! "You're making me crazy, Mom -- just dropping in like this." Back to the drawing board.
What can I do to have a successful visit with this Yuppie daughter? Something needs to be done. After all, she is my daughter. And, actually, she and I used to be so very close -- like Amy and me are now. But stuff happened. I don't even know what kind of stuff. I was a bad hippie mom? She was a stubborn Scorpio daughter? But these are new days, new times and I am a doer and a thinker. Surely I can come up with some way for Elizabeth and I to relate. I can turn this all around. I can do this.
I know! I'll meet her on neutral territory. I won't go to her house. She won't come to mine. We'll go to Disneyland! How could you not get along with someone while going to Disneyland? "Hey, Amy! Wanna go to Disneyland?"
"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"

August 12, 2003: " has come through again," I yelled to Amy from the computer room. "Do I have a hot deal or what. Fly down to John Wayne Airport and spend two nights at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel for just $134 each."
"Go for it." Click the button. Print out the e-tickets. "We're going to Disneyland. We're going to Disneyland!"
I called Elizabeth. She thought it was a great idea too. "Rosie's got her Winnie-the-Pooh T-shirt already. She's all excited!" Me too. Me too.

August 25, 2003: "Would you like to go too?" I asked my son Joe. Definite affirmative. Kudos to the mom. I've stumbled onto a really good idea. Maybe my oldest daughter Shelia could come with us too. All four children together in one spot? I'm a genius!

September 25, 2003: "Do you think Jesse might want to come with us?" I asked Amy. She had a boyfriend now and he had been over to the house a lot lately. Jesse was a weird kind of boyfriend. He kept wandering away to spend time with other girls. If Amy were gone for a whole weekend, would he wander away again? Jesse was definitely high maintenance. Jesse was a great kid but Jesse was definitely a lot of work.
"Mom, I do not want to bring Jesse." No Jesse. A vacation from Jesse. For all that she is deeply, madly in love with the guy, Amy is still a very level-headed and astute girl.

October 1, 2003: Shelia is coming! Shelia is coming! We're to meet in the lobby of the Howard Johnson at 6:30 pm on Saturday night. The whole family will be there. We leave this Friday. I can smell the airport already. But how to get there? The Oakland airport is reachable by BART train but you have to transfer to a shuttle bus and plan on spending two hours in transit. Our flight leaves at 8:20. We have to be at the airport at least by 7 pm. I get off work at 5 pm. Do the math.
One of the clients at work said, "You can do Park and Fly on Hegenberger Road for $7 a day. $21? We would spend that much just going by BART so this sounds like a good deal.

October 3, 2003: "Joe, is your friend Sam going to drive us to the airport?"
"I forgot to ask him. I'll give him a call." The true and only way to discover how many friends one has is to calculate how many of them would actually, willingly drive you to the airport. Using this criteria, I would perhaps have one or two. Using this criteria, Joe might possibly have a hundred. Still, it's a pretty last-minute deal to start to ask around the morning of departure.

11:30 am: It's Amy on her cell. "Mom! There's a water polo game today! I'm the only goalie! What should I do?"
"Where's the game?"
"Alameda." Ten miles away. But on the way to the airport. "Can you get back here by 5:00?"
"I don't think so. There's one game at 2:00 but the next one starts at 5:00."
"Well, just go ahead and go and I'll think of something." I always do. But this is cutting it pretty close. If Joe's friend drives, if I get off work early...we could do it.

2:00 pm: "Ma, I can't get in touch with Sam."

4 pm: Amy called. "The first game is over, another goalie showed up, I got a ride back." And she had saved me half a burrito too. And we could still do BART in a pinch....
If there is one thing in the world I hate, it's having to rush through an airport. And my dread of missing the plane altogether is right up there with my fear of snakes. Knowing full well that my fear was totally irrational -- I have never missed a plane in my life -- I was already starting to freak out.

6:00 pm: It's Joe. "I'm just getting off work now, Ma. My friend Darren will drive us. I'll come by and pick you up." Just getting off work?

6:45 pm: "Hi, Ma. It's Joe. I'm on my way. I just gotta stop by my house and pack." What???
"Joe! What are you doing! You've had a month to pack."
"Take a chill pill, Ma. You are starting to get annoying."
Then I got a message from Elizabeth. "Hi, Mom. I've got to work late tonight until 5 am. But we can still make it to Anaheim tomorrow." Oh no! tomorrow Elizabeth was going to be tired, bedraggled and grumpy. First a missing Amy. Then a tardy Joe. Now a grumpy Elizabeth. Not a grumpy Elizabeth. Oh well. We may miss the plane anyway and then I can spend the weekend propped up on a pillow reading romance novels and catching up on my e-mail. I've got a plan.

7:00 pm: Darren is driving Joe's car. Looking dazed and confused. Driving around in circles. "How do you get to the freeway from here? Oh, and by the way, your gas gauge is empty." What! I'm sitting in the back seat, about to wet my pants.

8:15 pm: "Loading seats 20 to 30." We made it! That's us! Except that Joe and Amy just went off to buy magazines and never came back. "Paging Joe and Amy Straitwell. Paging Joe and Amy Straitwell...."

10:00 pm: We sat next to an obstetrician on the SuperShuttle from the John Wayne Airport to the Howard Johnson Plaza and talked about strange births. He was young and really very nice. "I had a couple once who had the baby in the back of their car. She was in labor but was watching TV and wanted to see how the movie ended. The birth certificate actually reads, `I-80 freeway, Oakland off-ramp.' When they got to the parking lot of the hospital, the baby was inside the mother's stretch pants! `You're not going to take my wife's pants off right here in the parking lot, are you?' asked the amazed new dad." What a story!

11 pm: Turns out that the SuperShuttle's first stop was in Newport Beach. That's 30 miles out of our way!
"Do you have a room with two queen beds instead of one king?" I asked the receptionist. She took one look at my "Clinton-Gore" lapel button and changed us over without a question. Not everyone in Orange County is a Republican. Score!
"Would you like a rollaway bed too?" I guess people are tired of reading about Arnie-for-governor and his sexual assaults on women. Even Clinton is starting to look good. Plus our troops are getting massacred in Iraq. "17 attacks a day " scream the headlines. Hubris. Neo-con hubris. Perhaps Americans are finally getting sick of it?
"I have a friend who lives around here," Joe said. Why am I not surprised. "His parents are rich right-wing Christians." Joe whips out his cell phone and chats.
The room was very nice. Big room. Vanity area. Table and chairs. A balcony!
"You guys sleep in that bed. I want this bed!" announced Amy. No way. I am not sharing a bed with Joe. "He's my son for God's sake."
"And it's okay that he's my brother?" Poor Joe. Nobody wants to sleep with him just because he's a guy. The son/brother relationship aside, I'm too old to sleep with boys and Amy is too young. What am I saying here. Incest? "Amy! Change the subject! No one is sleeping with Joe." We must be hecka jet-lagged to even begin to wander into this conversation. "Good night, children."

October 4, 2003, 8 am: Amy is giving me a make-over! "Can I have the trashy ho look?" I ask her.
"No, give her the classy bitch look," says Joe. You should see me. Lip liner, mascara, blusher, shadow, gloss. For a 61-year-old, I look hot. Disneyland, here I come!

10 am: Elizabeth and family arrive. "Elizabeth didn't get off work until 6 am this morning," said her husband Jason. Uh oh. Bad sign. Rosie is almost walking and she is so cute. I'm so excited. We're going to Disneyland!

11 am: $47 per person. Gulp. Elizabeth is Miss Moneybags. Maybe she'll treat us. Nope. "I want to wander around on my own," sez I. Hell, if I'm paying for it, I might as well enjoy it. "Joe, give me your cell phone." He does. He know the Mom is notorious about getting lost. Elizabeth makes some crack about me babysitting Rosie. Oops. I'm in dog dookie again.
"Would you like me to take Rosie so you can go on the rides?" Another wrong thing to say. I get the impression Elizabeth wants me to hang out with her. But hell. I'm not hanging out with Joe and Amy either. I am just not the type who hangs out.
Now we're inside the park. All is forgotten. To hell with all of them. This place is paradise! "I am so glad we came here! Look! There's a horse! There's Merlin the Magician! There's...." It was Gay Day at the Park. Every gay person in Southern California was there and wearing red T-shirts and mouse ears. How cool is that! "Hey! Gay dude! Welcome to Disneyland." I'm so jazzed. It gives me new hope for Southern California -- that they're all not unhappy right-wing "Christians" all intent on murdering Iraqis. These gay dudes are the children of the truly hardline right-wingers (gayness is caused by early childhood stress and growing up in a right-wing family is about as stressful as one can get. I oughta know!)
Oh my God oh my God! We're on one of the Small World boats! Rosie is going nuts. "Water! Water!"
"What do you see?" asks Elizabeth. "Look up there. Fish! And a bear!" Elizabeth really is a good mother. Rosie gave us a big, big smile. I took a picture of her. Joe took a video. Amy stuck out her tongue.
"Mom! There's Ireland." And a Middle East that had seen happier days. Flying carpets! There's Africa before Pat Robertson got his hands on the gold mines and Eisenhower had Patrice Lumumba assassinated. Look! There's Chile before Kissinger assassinated Allende. Australia. I've been there.
"There's the rain forest!" said Elizabeth, equally delighted. Don't say it. The rain forest before.... It's a small world after all.... "It's a small, small world." Joe is videotaping everything! Go, Joe. This is better than LSD!
"Where are you going next?"
"Fanatasyland. Toon Town. Toon Town would be good."
Bear Country. No. I want to go on the Small World ride again. Stand in line? Go get a Special Needs fast pass? What? I'm immobilized. So much to do! So much to see. So much to write about. There's Creulla DeVille! There's 50 more gay guys in red T-shirts. There must be a hecka lot of stress-causing right-winger parents in SoCal!
What would I really want to do? Jungle Cruise! Jungle Cruise! How to get there? Where's my map? Big Thunder Trail to Frontierland.... Whew. Made it through Frontierland without getting scalped. There's the riverboat. There's the Golden Horseshoe Saloon. Dodging strollers. I can do this! What line is this? Pirates of the Caribbean. Only 300 people. Will I see Johnny Depp? Forget this. I'm going for a Special Needs pass.
"Joe! Where are you?"
"Toon Town"
"Want to go get a pass?"
"Meet you in front of the whale at 2:00" Moral? Never do D-land without matching cell phones. Back to Adventureland. Jungle Cruise! Gotta keep on the move.
I got my pass, went past 500 people, got put in a special elevator and got right to the front of the line. What is my special needs story? I've got a great one! I did 100 jumping jacks a day for three years and it destroyed my knees forever. "Never try that at home." However, in the past few years I have discovered that if I exaggerate my knee movements -- pull my knees higher up than usual when climbing stairs -- I use my thigh muscles instead of my knee tendons and it doesn't hurt as much going up and down stairs. So here I am down in this cave, waiting in line with about 200 people. "Excuse me, Sir. This is the Jungle Cruise, is it not?"
"No!" answer ten gay guys and a dyke in unison. "This is Indiana Jones." Cool. But wait. What are they saying over the loudspeaker?
"Ladies and gentlemen, the ride has just broken. Stay where you are...repeat...stay where you are. We will come and get you...." Then a single line of people slowly begin to emerge from the bowels of the earth, coming back out from the Temple of Doom.
Oh. Well. It's a jungle out there. After all this, will I be able to go on the ride or not? And guess what? There is no cell phone reception at Indiana Jones. What a trip! Three minutes more and I would have been trapped in the Temple of Doom forever. How cool is that! Time to meet everyone at the whale and I haven't even been on a ride yet. Look! There are some swans. I think I'm getting a sunburn.
There's Joe and Amy at the whale. "Joe almost killed Mickey," were the first words out of Amy's mouth.
"I hugged him too hard and he fell over." Oh. "I'm hungry, Ma!"
"Too bad for you, Joe. You shoulda eaten those tuna sandwiches I dragged all the way down from Berkeley."
Joe grinned. "I sure would like a tuna sandwich!" Go to Hell, Joe.
There's Elizabeth and Jason. "I'm hungry," says Joe. We're in some place that sells cheeseburgers. "I'm getting a double cheeseburger without any cheese." Burgers. Fries. Pizza. Under a Pinocchio mural. Rosie tried on hats all day and was about to fall asleep. What should I do next?

3:00 pm: World's worst pizza. Did I already say that?
I am so bad. What I want to do is dump Elizabeth, kidnap Rosie and flee back to Small World. Elizabeth drives me nuts. She's so possessive of Rosie yet at the same time actually manages to make me feel guilty for not paying Rosie more attention. I need to grit my teeth and spend the afternoon with her. It's only a day. I'll never have to do it again.
"I want to do the Matterhorn," said Joe.
"Me too," said Elizabeth. I'll be damned. Elizabeth actually handed Rosie to me and Amy and Elizabeth and Joe were off to the Matterhorn. Now Rosie, Amy, Jason and me are being loaded into the boat at Storybookland. Oh no! We're going into the whale's mouth!
"This is our very own special entrance to Storybookland," croons our guide. There are cute little cottages on the banks of our little river. "There's Alice's house. And there's the marketplace where Aladdin met Jasmine. Now we are entering the Cave of Wonders and the jewel mine for the seven dwarfs." And there's Cinderella's pumpkin. What a peaceful, wonderful ride. "There's Toad Hall." The water, the boat, the sunny day: A+ for this ride sez Rosie.
That ride was just right for Rosie. "Wanna do Alice in Wonderland next?" How long is the Matterhorn ride? Do we have time? The phone rings. "Where are you?"
"Matterhorn exit."
"How was it?"
"Pretty tame," sez Joe. "It was a lot scarier when I was eight years old." Where to now?
"Ooooh! Did you see that guy?" asked young Amy. "That guy was hot!" In his cute little red Gay Day T-shirt. Rats.
"There's Sleeping Beauty!"
"There's Beauty and the Beast," said Joe.
"I bet she's hot."
"Yeah," said Joe.
"I meant in that outfit." Our poor little dysfunctional family seems to be doing pretty good. "There's the Tiki Room."
"What's that?"
"Mechanical birds singing and mechanical flowers telling jokes."
"Let's do it on our way back." We're on our way to the Haunted Mansion. There was a 45-minute wait at the Pirates of the Caribbean. We went right in. I love the special assistance pass. There was a skull and crossbones and a parrot and buried treasure.
"Wahhhh," sez Rosie, sucking her thumb. Her Mickey ears have started to droop.
"Prepare to set sail," yelled the pirate. Yo ho yo ho, a pirate's life for me. Down the waterfall. "Look! Skeletons! Crabs! This is just like Halloween!" said me. Ghosts. Treasure! Maps! More treasure!
"Dead men tell no tales." Avast you surly scum! Rosie blinks. Joe videotapes. Rape, murder and pillage made fun as only Disney can do it!
"I want a shirt that says `Kiss me I'm a pirate'" says Amy. "Hey! That guy goes to my school!" September 19 is national "Talk like a Pirate" day.
Amy bought a T-shirt that said, "Sail with the wildest crew to ever sacked the Spanish Main." And of course a skull key chain.
"I think I'll take Rosie back to the hotel for a nap," said Elizabeth. Rosie loved the Pirates of the Caribbean but enough was enough. We headed off for the Haunted Mansion. They had a new theme, "The Nightmare Before Christmas does Halloween," with such tunes as "Scary bells scary bells, dread that awful sound," and "Wreck the halls with bones and spiders Fa la la la la la la la..."
Some scary-voiced dude announced "This year Jack Skellington has decided to play Sandy Claws. Two people to a car."
"I'm going with Joe!" said Amy.
"No you're not. I'm not going alone! What if I have a heart attack!"
"Oh well."
"Oh my God!" We are now in a huge room designed by a psychopath on major drugs. Colors everywhere and really scary music. And lots and lots of cobwebs. "Keep a close watch on your children...." There they go! My kids.
The basic theme of the Haunted Mansion ride was Halloween in the graveyard. "Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Fright."
"I liked the old Haunted Mansion better," said Amy. But on this one they really tried hard.
"What do you want to do now?"
"Jungle Cruise?" said Joe.
Amy is on the phone with her friend Kerris at home in Berkeley, chit-chatting away about Amy's boyfriend who is up to his old tricks.
"I'm glad that Rosie didn't go to the Haunted Mansion," says me. It was a bit scary. The Jungle Cruise guy thought it was really funny that I was taking notes. "We're on the boat now. That's spelled B-O-A-T." Now we are in the jungle. Love it. "Here we are on the longest river in Anaheim."
Now we're sailing into the hippo pool. To the cannibal picnic. Under the waterfall. The captain told the funniest jokes.
"Let's go shopping." Guess who said that.
"No, lets try Indiana Jones again."
"Nah. I don't want to get stuck in the bowels of the earth."
"Come on, Joe. That's half the fun."
"I want to go shopping."
"I want to go to Indiana Jones." We both looked at Joe-the-tie-breaker.
"Oh well. Indiana Jones." Back into the bowels of the earth. But this time the line was shorter. And we got to take the elevator.
"We're going to get to the next floor and end up at Macy's lingerie."
That was one scary ride. My heart stopped. I was terrorized. "Again!" I almost peed my pants. "Where's the bathroom?"
"Down there to your left." Peachy. 100 stalls. Half of them empty. I could take my pick. Amy went off to the Adventureland Bazaar. Going to Disneyland is like going to a foreign country. Except they have cool flush toilets.
"I'm about ready to go home," said Joe.
"Where's Amy?"
"She went off to find an ATM." The day is just about over. "My feet hurt."
"Go see if you can snag Amy and let's go back to the hotel." We gotta meet Shelia in 45 minutes. That's a treat that I'm looking forward to. Were there any rides we missed? Any serious rides? Goofy's Bounce House? Nah. We done it all.
"Where's Amy?" We lost her. Joe had given her a lecture on fiscal responsibility and off she went. We finally found her haunting the shops on Main Street. They're lowering the flag and playing the Star Spangled Banner. How delightful. That means Disneyland is being patriotic and will bring our boys home from the slaughter in Iraq and dump George Bush out of the White House. That's patriotic!
Then we went and bought a bunch of key chains to give to folks at home. Jessica got a Tinkerbell necklace. Kerris got a giant lollypop. "Does anybody remember how to get back to the hotel?" A Jackie Chan movie was playing on HBO when we got back. And then it was time to go sit in the lobby and wait for Shelia.
"Elizabeth called," said Joe. "She found a fabulous restaurant and made us reservations." What? How like Elizabeth to not even consult us. That's something my parents would have done. Elizabeth! You are not the head of this family! I am. How can I convince her of that? Should I even try? How to convince Elizabeth? If I was elected President or perhaps married Prince Charles or somehow became the most famous, the most recognized, the most sought-after person in the world? Nah. Ain't gonna happen.
Then Shelia arrived and I had to get all used to her again too. And Joe jumped in and chit-chatted rock and roll with her and all was well.
"Look at it this way," I told myself. "If Elizabeth runs the family -- or whatever -- then I won't have to go to all that work and run it myself.
"There's Disneyland, Disney World, Euro-Disney and Disney in Japan," commented Amy.
When Shelia joined us for dinner, Elizabeth behaved herself again -- but I got all weird. "I'm no good," a voice within me said. "Here are these two fabulous professional women and I'm just some loser schmuck who happens to have the same gene pool." We ate dinner at Tangerine, which turned out to actually be a fabulous restaurant -- with to-die-for cheesecake and shrimp-stuff mushrooms. Honest it was good. And Amy proved to a jewel with Rosie. Now we are at Elizabeth's hotel room, babysitting Rosie while Elizabeth and Jason spend the evening at Disneyland on their own. Amy is explaining, "Let's see what is behind door number one," to Rosie and Rosie is saying, "Mommie! Mommie!" to the world in general after explaining all her toys to us in some forgotten language that only she can understand.
I gave Shelia a big hug back at the restaurant. "Come visit us in Berkeley," I said. Maybe she will. Maybe she won't. The big sister role becomes her. Then I looked over at Joe and Joe looked sick. He went home to Howard Johnson and went to bed. Too much partying last night with the right-wing Christian dude.
After Elizabeth and Jason get back from Disneyland, maybe there will be time for me and Amy to go back and play around. Just me and Amy. That would be fun. "What ride should we go on?"
"The Matterhorn!"

10:00 pm: "Waaa!" sez Rosie. We go walk her around outdoors.
"Hey, doesn't that look like Shelia?" It was. She had driven Joe home and then come back -- with ice cream! Homemade store-bought ice cream, a banana-caramel-hot fudge sundae. And three spoons! What a daughter! Rosie dove at it like there was no tomorrow.
"Jesus, Mom, don't let Rosie have any of that! Elizabeth will kill us!" Too late. The four of us hung out and told stories and giggled.
Now Amy is power-napping and Rosie is passed out on the floor. What a nice vacation this is turning out to be.

10:30 pm: Rosie's asleep! We are good babysitters after all.

11:15 pm: Elizabeth and Jason came back. Smiling. "You should have seen the Park. It was wall-to-wall people! Then we got lost." Rosie and Amy were crashed out together on the bed.
Amy and I grabbed our stuff and sneaked out the door. "Hugs, Elizabeth! Thanks! Hugs, Jason! Gotta run!" D-land closes in 38 minutes!
Fighting the upsurging tide of happy campers leaving the Park, we raced through the turnstiles, raced up Main Street.
"Where to, Amy!"
"Gotta get a present for Jesse!"
"Forget that! You can do that at the airport!" Pant pant puff puff. "Small World!" Best ride in the Park! Just ask Rosie.
"Yeah!" We sprinted the whole length of the Park, got there just in time, jumped in the boat.
"It's a small world after all..." we sang. There were four young people in the seat in front of us. Suddenly one of the girls leaned over, dipped her whole head into the water, jerked her head back up, shook her long dark hair like she was a wet dog and sprayed us all with boat-water. Yuck! This person was obviously a candidate for one of my famous "In the future" lectures.
"In the future, young lady, please keep your head in the boat," I told her sternly. And stay off drugs, I failed to add but should have.
Amy looked at my watch. "We still have 15 minutes! Let's go to the Pirates of the Caribbean store and buy Jesse a T-shirt!" Works for me. Alone, down a deserted side path, we streaked toward the "Pieces of Eight" gift shop. An occasional security guard or employee just getting off work smiled at us as we raced (as fast as I could race with busted knees) through the warm SoCal night. It was heaven.
"Amy! I can't keep up! You go on ahead! I'll meet you at the store." When I got there, she was already pawing through a rack of wife-beaters, looking for a medium. "Just snag a large and let's go! The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is still open."
Amy elbowed two ladies and a few kids out of the way, threw a twenty-dollar-bill on the counter and mumbled, "Keep the change." We raced out the door, through a deserted New Orleans Square and bolted for the ride with one minute to spare. We were the last ride of the night.
"Yo ho yo ho, a pirate's life for me." Back through the glorification of violent male bonding, making sacking and burning seem like a fun idea. And fun we had too, shamelessly singing the pirate song at the top of our lungs. "Yo ho yo ho, a pirate's life for me."

October 5, 2003, 7:00 am: Joe was sick last night. Coughing and malaise. Amy is sitting on the bed, brushing her teeth and singing, "A pirate's life for me." Jason is going to drive us back to the airport. We still have one tuna sandwich left. Our fun-filled vacation is over. I have bonded back up with Elizabeth again and we had wonderful fun. Do you want the sordid details of our mundane flight back home as well? You do? We'll have to wait until it happens. We still haven't left Howard Johnson's. Joe is in the shower. Amy is practicing "My talented skills as a packer."

9:00 am: In the car with Rosie. "Da-Da!" she wailed. The indignity of sitting in a carseat.
"Look, Rosie! It's your favorite Winnie-the Pooh beanie baby!" She threw it at me! Followed by Minnie Mouse ears and a Sippie cup. This kid was pissed off!
I gave Rosie one of my famous "In the future" lectures. "In the future, Rosie, stop sneaking into the ice cream in the middle of the night then being in a bad mood the next morning." I had to whisper this one so that Jason wouldn't discover our dirty little secret of having spoiled my granddaughter rotten with unhealthy stuff. My bad.
Even after one of my best "In the future" lectures, Rosie was still crying. Time to pull out the heavy ammunition: My famous "Would you consider" lecture. "Rosie. Would you please consider shutting up?" The famous "Would you consider" lecture gives children the chance to resist. Children need to resist! And boy was our Rosie resisting. When that didn't work, I gave her my famous "If you" speech ( work really good with kids). "If you stop screaming in my ear, Rosie, I'll let you play with my doll collection when you come to visit next month...." That had her attention. For a whole minute. "But Mom and Dad are still the boss" is the next step in John Gray's Children are from Heaven program. "Okay, Rosie. You've turned down my most excellent and you've ignored them." I gave her a steely look. "Now shut up and stop crying." And she did. Of course it helped that we had arrived at the airport just then and Jason had taken her out of her carseat and was bouncing her on his shoulder.... Job well done, Jane. I haven't lost my touch.
"Bye bye, Jason. Bye bye, Rosie. I'm so glad we came." And I was too. I had bonded and spent quality time with everybody -- including Mickey Mouse!
At John Wayne Airport they had announced that little boarding call thingie. "Rows 20 through 30 are now boarding." Amy was standing in line at McDonalds, right across the aisle. I could see her. Joe could see her. The airline attendant in charge of the boarding gate could see her. None of this did any good. "Come on, Amy. Tell them to give you your Egg McMuffin and run!" Everyone had boarded the plane already. They were holding the gosh-darned plane for her. "Amy! You gotta decide. Which is more important!" I yelled. Getting an Egg McMuffin or getting home to Berkeley in this lifetime! We could all see Amy over there mentally sorting out her priorities. Oh my God, the damn McMuffin was winning. "Amy!"
Just then her order got completed, she grabbed the bag, ran over and got on the plane. They closed the door behind her.
Now Joe is asleep on my right shoulder and Amy is reading "By Possession" a steamy romance novel set in England in 1326 during the Black Plague.
When we get home, I need to do a bunch of things. Take Joe to Jamba Juice for something for his cold. Do laundry. Catch up on e-mail and solitaire. And take communion to someone in the hospital who has wasted away to almost 50 pounds. And get ready to go to work tomorrow. But what a fabulous trip!
Upon arrival at the Oakland Airport, we drove straight to church, arriving just as Father Owen was about to close the door. He gave us communion and an extra wafer to take to my sick friend in the hospital.
Speaking of sick, Joe was looking a little peaked still. So we officially ended the Disneyland tour at the local Jamba Juice. "What do you have for a sore throat?"
"How about the Coldbuster with extra Echeneachea?" The doctor was in!
"I just got done eating a whole bunch of junk food. What do you prescribe for me?"
"The Pumpkin Smash with extra fiber." Done. Amy had the Passionfruit Smoothie and wouldn't give me any.
I went home and took a two-hour nap. The only thing left to do now before the trip is officially over is to do the laundry.
That night, I read the quote for the day in my planner. "To persevere, trusting in what hopes one has," it said, "that is courage. The coward despairs." I had hoped that this trip would bring our little family together and it did. Moral: It's really hard to be unhappy in Disneyland!