I’ve been in Barefoot Bay, Florida for almost two weeks now. And still no sign of Bizzarro Pizza. Truth be told, it’s the only reason I look forward to a visit, as friendly and accommodating as Eddie’s cousin Bev and her husband Tim always are. 

But then, I’ve looked forward to a lot that fell through or has been hampered by one disaster after another illness, since taking on this two-month-long trip after the holidays. Murphy must be choking to death from laughter by now. 

They never warn you about the lack of sleep, the cold and flu season, the sudden onset of vomiting in strangers’ nicely decorated manufactured homes, your heavy period accompanied by the runs every 15 minutes (15 seconds more like), the aversion to food in general the second my brain senses a foray outside my inner comfort zone, much less food fast. 

I wrote a pretty clever, detailed column called “bizzarro” about two hours ago, when my son James was napping after a bout of the vomiting (on the guest bed, in the living room, on me). Only, due to a bout of mother-itis (a combo of brain drain, maternal concern about the vomiting and losing track of one’s sense of home base), I’d accidentally deleted it while working on the template of a new column for next week—no spare available. 

Upon entering the happiest place on earth,
that’d be Disney World,…  James
promptly put on his plastic lei and went
hunting for the monorail. After
being stuck aloft for almost a half hour,
with a seething husband and the theme to
the “Poseidon Adventure” playing in my
head, we stuck to the boat rides to and
Magic Kingdom.

So, here I go again, 9 p.m., James should be in bed, he’s hiccupping, about to throw up at any moment, my husband Eddie’s fed up with me by now (he has to e-mail the columns via his hotmail address, because there’s no connection for the laptop he spent millions on), I’m hungry from not eating because James is sick, and I can’t remember if I have a middle name or not (starts with “B?”). 

Going without the thin-crusted cheese pizza of my dreams, dying to go to Melbourne for a large pie and a side order of spaghetti with meat sauce, nobody to nag me about not overeating before dinner at Molly McButter’s (or Meg O’Malley’s, whatever it’s called), deeming Bizzarro’s not tasty anymore, not as tasty as the newest find down the street, Giuseppe’s… making do with decent enough substitutes, but soon, before it’s too late within the last two weeks left here in Florida, dragging Eddie over there. 

The first ride James wanted to go on at
Mountain was the spinning teacups, tame
compared to the one Eddie would lure him to later,
a runaway plane roller coaster. “He let out this
high-pitched scream when the plane started on the

Since leaving our Washington home on December 26, traveling by car south through Oregon and California, south-east toward Florida, to take care of the rest of my husband’s parents’ effects, fix up their Spring Hill retirement house for re-sale, while staying with Eddie’s cousin and her husband farther east in Barefoot Bay (which we’re doing right now), then back across the country to Long Beach for a boarding on the Princess Cruise line so Eddie can do his three-hour gig in a week while we see parts of Mexico without succumbing to the Norwalk virus that just attacked a fleet at the Royal Caribbean… we’ve had to go without more than just Bizzarro Pizza. 

Like a decent night’s sleep. 

Oh, I sleep. In two-hour segments throughout the day, during the car drive, when James isn’t jammed against my back in the middle of a barely double bed in one of the guest rooms of Eddie’s cousins’ manufactured house. It’s hard to sneak in more than two hours at a time when your husband snores louder than a train running over a field of rabid mice, and you find you’re rivaling him when you dare turn over on your least-used right side after gently easing your son farther down toward his side of the bed. 

Our Polynesian style hotel room was nice
enough. Maybe not $300-a-night nice enough,
but hey, it’s Disney, where you’re paying for
the ambience and the chance for other, more
patient visitors to catch a firsthand glimpse
of Mickey frolicking around.. waiting in
long impromptu lines for his autograph like
he’s Lindsay Lohan or something.

At hotels, James sleeps with me or his dad, jammed up against our backs, with barely an inch off the edge to spare. If we’re lucky, he chooses to bunk on the floor with his mountain of blankets and pillows. At Bev and Tim’s, we’re lucky enough to be separated, me in the computer room with their spare futon, Eddie in their guest bedroom with a fluffy soft double bed and a small TV. James alternates with us there as well, and at least I can close the door and not have to listen to the Mack Truck running through my decent sensibilities, any I have left after contemplating the repercussions of smothering my husband of almost 15 years with a pillow. 

After the nightmarish $500-an-overnighter at the Disney World Polynesian resort, supposedly moderate in price… where I wound up trying to grab some shut-eye on the cold marble tiled floor of the bathroom, with this odd motion-sensored ventilation fan going off every time I turned over from one side to another, wondering if I’m gonna get crabs or mites… Eddie went out and bought Breathe Rights and a mouth spray to tighten up the loose cables in there flapping at night. He claims success, but I haven’t slept in the same bed with him since. 

The two-day Disney trip was for our son James, who turned three on January 21. (More on that and the NASA jaunt in a later column, if I don’t accidentally delete that too.) Except for getting stuck on the monorail between our Polynesian resort and the Grand Floridian for 25 minutes over to Magic Kingdom and Eddie nearly having a cursing cow over the invasive two-fingered identity system upon entering said Magic Kingdom, the trip turned out well. James locked in on the rides I’d told him about in a previous night’s bedtime story, the teacup, the race car (the Dumbo elephant and It’s A Small World were being “refurbished”), and there was a glorified playground smack dab in the middle of Mickey’s Toon Town. Plus, I didn’t experience any IBS-D episodes; although the menstrual cramps prevented me from even remotely wanting a Mickey-shaped ice cream bar and chicken fingers. 

I got lucky when Eddie and James drove around the bend
toward the final lap in their race car, they paused to check me
out. He loved that ride, he loved it three times.

But back to the sleep deprivation… 

James usually settles in for the night quite nicely, head hits the pillow, he’s out. The trouble happens when Eddie’s head hits the pillow, loud, staccato bursts of trouble. Then, I try to close my eyes and will the sounds to go away, but that’s like trying to ignore cannons roaring right in my ear. I toss and turn, feeling a little claustrophobic, a panic attack about to overcome me, maybe I can put the headphones on and listen to my favorite ipod-loaded tunes like I did the first night of our cross-country trip, in a hotel somewhere in Oregon when I could hardly bear to hear my sick son struggle to exhale, seconds ticking hours. 

At the Disney overnighter, I tried putting earplugs in, but listening to the sounds of my own labored breathing almost convinced me I had pneumonia, so I chucked the orange rubber balls and ran for cover in that motion-detecting bathroom – for all of 15 minutes, before coughing and sneezing and hacking my way back to the bed, Eddie promising he’ll stop snoring by staying awake. 

I’m hoping those Breathe Rights and the spray work by the time we have to drive back across the country again, in early February. Or God help me. 

When I’m not trying in vain to sleep, I’m poring over one shallow fixation after another in these dimestore celeb magazines easily found at the checkout stands of every other supermarket. I buy them because they’re accessible and I need to read while I’m on the can. I’m so desperate I’ll read a tube of toothpaste. So I grab whatever’s pictorially interesting without thinking, in a hurry, and regret the consequences of the repeats later. 

It’s the same top 10 B-listers, pseudo-famous people I never pay attention to or hardly know. Lindsay Lohan, Hillary Duff, Brad & Jen, Ben & Jen, Jen & Marco… who ARE these people, what did they do to merit such constant media attention, did they save the Third World, are they curing cancer, have they changed a young child’s life, brought a man from the brink of addiction? 

Our last ride to the
Magic Kingdom, second day, by boat. Who
knew so many people chose to visit Disney World in what
should’ve been the slow dead of winter?

Et tu, Jane magazine? Lindsay Lohan’s on the January cover, with an alleged in-depth interview inside, where she talks about her relationship with that ‘70s guy Wilmer, partying a lot, but not being a boozer, …at one point, even the interviewer Stephanie Trong marveled at the fascination, “But why are we so fascinated by Lindsay? It’s such an interesting phenomenon—all these young starlets who are radiating so much heat right now. They’re not A-listers in the traditional sense, but they’re the ones whom everyone is drooling to get into their VIP sections, into the front rows of their fashion shows, on their magazine covers. Probably even more so than someone with an Oscar.” 

When Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston broke up, you’d have thought that civilization came to an end, the way the magazines burst into flames and the news pundits lost their minds, transforming these two rather mediocre actors into a golden couple of Olympic proportions. Today’s Katie Couric even had on a psycho-analyst type who elevated public reaction to the break-up to philosophical depths. People love to raise beautiful talented stars on a pedestal just to knock them down, to feel better about their own paltry, ordinary, ugly lives. Brad and Jen represent all that is beautiful and perfect to the masses, and when they fall, people can’t help but question reality. If this golden couple can break up, then all else is lost. 

James enjoyed tangling my hair with this
spinning lighted contraption, when he wasn’t
enjoying a glance at the park through the relaxing
vantage point of the train ride.

Brad Pitt is supposed to be this handsome male epitome of every housewife’s wet dream, but he does nothing for me. He can’t even reach the complicated depths of someone who truly understands what it means to suffer in any of his lackluster, superficial performances that only capitalize on his looks. That he’s best friends with George Clooney from their Ocean’s Eleven remake and sequel, is another strike against him. A movie critic put it best when describing the utter failure of the sequel, Ocean’s Twelve (and nailed what’s wrong with Clooney in a nutshell), in that these glorified stars seem to be having a lot of fun, at the audience’s expense. 

Jennifer Aniston is a great example of wasted expense from her millionaire Friends co-op. Ever since news hit of her and her co-stars’ NBA-like salary demands, same with Seinfeld, I haven’t taken Aniston seriously as anything but a fashion poseur, sometimes worth a chuckle but hardly Lucille Ball material, an estranged daughter who values the invaluable. Rumors that Pitt felt disenchanted with her movie-, money- and fashion-making interests while enamored of Angelina Jolie’s more philanthropic endeavors ring true—at least for me. 

Like we’re supposed to raise our children and model our virtues after them? I derive inspiration from deeper goods. 

Cousin-in-law Tim and daddy Eddie help James blow out the
last of his three candles, on the chocolate cake cousin Bev made
hours earlier.

Yet day after day, as I run in and out of Winn-Dixie or Publix, for a tampon, apple juice or Pedia-lyte, I barely have time to hunt down for anything deeper than the Brad & Jen-obsessed Us, People, Star right there in front of me. 

Next time, I’ll try to find a Premiere. After I go to Bizzarro Pizza. At least. 

(Trust me, the first cubbyhole[s ic] I wrote for this week was much better.)




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