Is There Anything Better Than Shopping?

That is NOT a rhetorical question. Or is it?

Duh, whatever, the answer is a resounding “NO!” unless it’s being the recipient of a gift…or multiple gifts sent by an absentee husband.

I realize that most of the time I’m talking to YOU as if you know all about ME, and for those that aren’t familiar with the backstory, here’s a brief overview…I’m really and truly the wife of a tugboat captain, a professional mariner, a proud member of the Merchant Marine.

He goes out to sea and I stay home. And shop. And clean. And glue seashells. And shop. And go to the gym. And did I already say shop?

I am an unashamed shopaholic.

And while there’s really nothing better than a daylong shopping spree, finding a box of treasures delivered by my friendly postman is equally exciting.

While I’ve been caring for my son and helping his recovery from emergency life-saving surgery and then discovering that the sparkles in my left eye were due to a retinal tear, not diamonds or rhinestones even (so unfair) —  my tugboat captain husband had to leave and go out to sea.

Yup, he left me and to add insult to injury, he departed ON MY BIRTHDAY.  At least he had the foresight to take me shopping at Bloomingdales before he left so that I could pick out my special birthday gift, a pair of Chanel sunglasses that I LOVE LOVE LOVE.

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Because he was unable to be here for the laser surgery to repair my torn retina (fingers crossed that it was a success) as he’s in the middle of one of our oceans (can’t say where exactly), but he had a couple of hours in a foreign port (can’t say which one) and what did he do with his free time? He bought his Princess Rosebud a whole bunch of presents ‘cos he knows how to bring a smile to my face and a sparkle (not that kind) to my eye!

You can kinda tell that he’s somewhere beachy, somewhere maybe hot and possibly Pirates of the Caribbean-y?

Pretty silvery wrapping paper, but it just made it that much harder to get to the treasures. I ripped ‘em apart like a wild animal…giftbagmess

First things first. Hard-working hub combed the beach “somewhere” for these seashells. A couple of them broke, but I appreciate the effort. Broken shells are better than no shells at all. jshells

Jewelry!!! You can never have too much, right? One butterfly bracelet in happy oh-so-bright colors. This will look gorg with a maxi dress and a sexy suntan, don’t you agree?

btrflybrace

The more the merrier is the way my hub thinks. Check out this dragonfly  bracelet. Think white skinny jeans, a skimpy top, and cork wedges. Oh, and a fruity cocktail. Maybe two…dragonflybracelet

 

braceletsideContinuing with THAT logic, if one pair of earrings is good, four is much better, right? Do you have the feeling that they were possibly on sale? Hmmm, no worries, I love them all!

They are all mother-of-pearl and various shells. ADORABLE!
earrings1 earrings2 earrings3 earrings4

Now it’s time to resume being Cinderella and scrub the floors…my tugboat man is on the final leg of his assignment and should be home at Casa de Enchanted Seashells before the 15th. Yay!

 

 

Yes, I really AM that annoying.

And every once in a while, it’s really black and white.

While I’m absorbed in the embracing and releasing of my inner beeyotch, there’s an overriding theme that’s emerging around Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

It seems that I am annoying in different ways to different people. Some might find that to be a negative character trait and should be “worked on.”

Not me.

I consider my annoying self to be a value-added option or a gift with purchase–to the liberation of my beeyotchiness.

There are some aspects of parenting and marriages that don’t reveal themselves right away. Sometimes it takes a child moving out to give him/her perspective and a spouse can also evoke a similar epiphany.

Last night my shining bright star boy child called and I was APPARENTLY nagging (his word) him about his eating habits and not eating enough. A great multi-tasker, he was chewing while chatting and told me he was eating a Subway sandwich. Always a caring and concerned and nurturing mom, I told him it didn’t have enough calories for a skinny boy like him and he needed to take bcare of himself and eat higher quality protein and more frequently, blah blah blah.

I said, ‘Maybe I should come back there and cook for you.” “No, that’s OK.”  “Why not? I would have loved it if my mom cooked for me.” “No, I can cook for myself” “But DO you?”

“Were you always this annoying?”

That about sums it all up for me, and anyway, the answer is yes, I have always been this annoying.

In fact, the captain asked me the same exact question yesterday. I was bugging him while he was hiding from me working on a project–and he said, “Do you have any idea how annoying you are?”

To which I answered, “Yes, I am very well aware of how annoying I am. This is not new information to you. I did not suddenly emerge from my chrysalis and become an annoying person. I didn’t misrepresent myself. You knew full well what you were getting yourself into more than twenty years ago. So stop complaining. Your complaining IS annoying.”

“Once in a while, you should try to not be so annoying.”

Like really, like does he not know by now with whom he’s dealing? I was gonna say, does he not know who he’s dealing with, but that’s not proper English, so if it sounds strange, whatever. Deal with it. Oopsie, just let a bit of my beeyotchiness out, like a silent but deadly you know.

I felt picked on and since I’m only sixty inches tall, I feel a good old Napoleon Complex simmering just below the surface, ready to boil over real fast, rear its ugly head, and take no prisoners.

I added that snide remark to his Frico/Freaky sharp-witted comment of the other day. Like an elephant, we women don’t forget. We just tally up the misdeeds in one of our brain’s compartments, and when it fills up, watch out.

Thar she blows!

Here’s a little confession. Pissing me off is expensive. He paid dearly and with much pain. He was forced under duress to accompany me to South Coast Plaza in Orange County. I’ve  spoken of this place before, I know, but it really is a shrine, a shopping mecca, a retail temple of the beautiful–and Chanel, or as my new friend calls it, ChaCha. (Check out her blog, reversecommuter–she’s awesome.) I love Hermes and Valentino and Versace and Gucci, but Chanel holds my heart.

It’s a beautiful drive to SCP and takes about fifty minutes or so. We could see the surf at Trestles on one side and snow-covered mountains to the east. We parked at Bloomingdales. I wanted to check out their Chanel department and compare it to the actual Chanel shop’s designs. I know I just got my Grand Tote Shopper in November, but she was a bit lonely and I thought a little sister (in other words, a matching wallet) would make her happy.

I pulled out all the stops on this one.

My crazy came out in spectacular form. Here’s what I said to the captain. “My mom called and she said that I really need a matching wallet.”

Hold on. Stay with me. Don’t stop reading now! You might be thinking to yourself, “That doesn’t sound too crazy.”

Well…when I tell you that my mom died in 1989, you might think differently, huh?

So…treading lightly here–very lightly, the captain said, “Tell your mom that saying things like that is not very helpful and you also can tell her from me that she raised a very spoiled daughter.”

I walked away and came back a few minutes later.

“My mom said you’re annoying.”

(We chat with my mom all the time as if she were still here, so it’s not that unusual to bring her into a convo.)

Back to SCP. Focus! Bloomies didn’t have a huge selection and the sales staff was EXTREMELY unpleasant and didn’t seem to really want us invading their space, so we left.

We took the escalator down to the first floor. As we were descending, I looked behind me…and there it was in all of its black and white magnificence. I swear the place was glowing, beckoning me in.

I almost forgot hubs was with me.

Marie greeted us as we walked in and made a grand tour of the salon. She commented on the beauty of my GST. I asked to see the black caviar wallet that would complement my bag. She escorted us to the proper glass case, and then beckoned me to go behind the counter where she OPENED ALL THE DRAWERS AND INVITED ME TO TAKE ALL THE TIME I WANTED TO LOOK AT THE DOZENS OF WALLETS IN EVERY COLOR AND PATTERN. My face turned  bright red, I almost broke out in tears. The captain parked his ass somewhere–at this point I had no idea he existed.  I WAS IN HEAVEN. Pink and blue and green and red and quilted and patent leather and imprinted with Coco’s signature camellias.

I touched and stroked and smelled them all.

With a nod from my tugboat captain–KING OF ALL MEN- best husband in the whole world–I chose my prize. When Marie asked if this was for a special occasion, my wonderful hubs shrugged and said it was “Just because.” He’s really a very special guy, my tugboat man.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I was a very appreciative and grateful recipient.

Chanel south coast plaza

Hubs isn’t a very good photographer and he would only take one pic

On the way home from SCP

On the way home from SCP

So beautifully packaged, I didn't want to open it!

So beautifully packaged, I didn’t want to open it!

Chanel ribbon too!

Chanel ribbon too!

Can you hear the angels singing? Isn't it brills?

Can you hear the angels singing? Isn’t it brills?

chanelwallet2

The secret of a successful marriage

What is marriage all about? Based upon my personal research, experimentation, and analysis, I have the answers to your questions.

This is for all you young’uns who’re on the cusp of searching for a mate or for the older and hopefully wiser female who perhaps wants to dip a toe back into the dating pond.

Where’s Harry? A Wet Republic pool party in full swing

Do you want a life partner with whom to share your laughs, your tears, your bout with intestinal flu, your pillow and cat-laden bed, and to assist in the breeding of your offspring?

What’s the secret to my long lasting (twenty-two years together, nineteen married) relationship?

The secret is…COMPROMISE. 

Not really. I’m only messing with your head.

What works around here is torture and retaliation.

That’s it. Simple. Torture and retaliation.

It works like magic.

Case in point: My tugboat man goes out to sea for quite a while-usually two months or so at at time. When he returns, all he can think about (other than THAT) is surfing. Yes, he’s a big old surfer baby. Right now there are big winter waves pounding our coast.

sufingdragger-san-diego

This is not my captain because he’s not a dick dragger. That is NOT my term. I didn’t think of it but I wish I had. It’s what the young folks call a boogie boarder. Very descriptive, right? Think about it…

dog_surfing_01

This isn’t him, either. He’s not that cute but thank goodness, he’s less hairy.

sunset_cliffs_05

This isn’t him either, but this is how big the waves were at Sunset Cliffs.

A couple days ago he left at 5:30 a.m. to surf in La Jolla. In case you’re a surfer yourself, waves were mostly six feet with an occasional eight foot set. I was just about on my last nerve with this surf obsesh, so I blocked the driveway with sawhorses and trash cans so he couldn’t pull in the driveway.  Hee hee.sawhorse2C11TrashCanOld.jpg2F5B174A-5A60-43AB-8E0F6CCF2434E2ED.jpgLargerHe had to get out of his truck, move the obstacles, and then pull in.

After that, I used my wiles to torture him into building four more shelves for my lovely collection of shells and rocks.

And that brings us to today. Sunday. I guess the honeymoon’s over.

I was out in the garage chatting up the hubs about tonight’s dinner menu: freshly baked French bread, Caesar salad with my signature dressing, and thought I’d make some Frico at the same time that I make the croutons. I asked him:

“Have you ever had Frico? Do you know what it is?”

“Yeah, I know what a Frico is, I’m married to one.”

How RUDE. HOW RUDE!

This is Frico, I am not Frico.

This is Frico, I am not Frico.

I was being the  best wife ever; I brought him lunch on  a tray while he was working on restoring his rowboat and building yet another shelf (I love shelves, OK?) and THIS is the attitude I have to deal with!? After I brought him a wheatgrass smoothie, fresh pear cut in half and filled with nonfat cottage cheese dusted with cinnamon–blueberry-smiley-face-berries-pixmac-photo-75642785and to make it extra-special, a smiley face out of fresh blueberries–he retaliates with a comment like that? Oh, he’ll pay all right, oh yes he will. We’ll see who’s FREAKY when he takes me to South Coast Plaza tomorrow. We’ll test the limits of his stamina and endurance throughout the huge shopping center. We’ll whet our whistle at one end with Bloomingdales as we march determinedly toward my personal holy grail, (do you hear the trumpets sounding?) as we round the corner to….Chanel–Chanel, the holder of my bliss.

Torture and retaliation-the stuff of which great marriages are made.

Frico, not Freako

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using largest holes on a 4-sided grater, coarsely shred enough cheese to measure 1 cup. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick liner. Stir together cheese, flour, and pepper. Arrange tablespoons of cheese 4 inches apart on liner, stirring cheese in bowl between tablespoons to keep flour evenly distributed. Flatten each mound slightly with a metal spatula to form a 3-inch round.Bake frico in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on sheet on a rack, then carefully transfer each crisp (they are very delicate) with metal spatula to rack to cool completely.

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Here’s today’s Daily Prompt Challenge: Hindsight.  Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your first post.

This is MY deja vu–my first blog re-do–obviously my life is a deja vu redo Groundhog Day repeat. The captain was gone again, I was alone for a very long time…I’ve learned to use tags since then–maybe THIS time it’ll get read! 

My First Blog Post

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Day 60: Alone again! It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening and I just completed a copy editing assignment for a brilliant young neuroscientist. Since my first pink lock and key diary at the age of eight, I’ve filled notebooks and journals with my thoughts and observations, and even minored in creative writing in college, but the hardest thing in the world for me to do is to let go of my own words. (I’m a word hoarder. Hah!)

Update: Now I’m a word spewer–since I started blogging, I can’t STOP writing!

Although I easily re-write and proof and edit the work of others (and love to do it), my own words seem to be trapped somewhere; I am never quite satisfied with the finished product; I always feel that one more re-write is always needed—just one more, and then another and another–and I am determined to overcome this obstacle by blogging about my life as a wife of a Merchant Mariner. To other MM wives, I’d love to share our experiences, problems, frustrations, and solutions. There are thousands of us around the world—let’s create a community and help one another. What do we all do when our guys are gone? In what ways do our lives change when they’re away on assignment and when they’re home? How do we cope with the work-related absence of a spouse, whether it’s due to the military, MM, or any other career that involves a lot of travelling? Are you sad? Maybe relieved sometimes, if you were to be completely honest?

Update: Still hoping to create the community of Merchant Mariner Wives. I’ve met Snipewife who’s awesome, but there has to be others! Come out and play! 

Also, from time-to-time, I will review either a product I’ve used or a book I’ve read and share my opinion. I have great things to say about Sally Hansen Smooth and Perfect nail polish. I have it in Satin 04. It claims to hide ridges and imperfections with a “breathable porcelain-smooth finish.”  The website says it’s enhanced with ginseng, camellia oil, and lotus to promote stronger, healthier nails. I was really impressed with the finished product and it really does give a professional look. I’m going to try it in other colors and will let you know. Update: it worked great, very shiny, lasts a decent amount of time, and is inexpensive.

Here’s a mini-version of my back story: I’m a (was a) stay-at-home mom; when my son left for college, I stayed home. Don’t you think that’s funny? I do. That’s my standard joke/response when I’m asked what I “do”. Some people think it’s funny, some people think I’m obnoxious. Story of my life.

I’ve been married to a Merchant Mariner tugboat captain for about eighteen years, nineteen in February 2013. For the first fourteen years or so, our life was pretty ordinary and except for a few assignments that took him away for a week or so, his schedule kept him working in local ports.  In 2009, he changed companies and became the kind of Merchant Marine who goes out to sea for extended periods of time and travels to the four corners of the globe. When I tell people that my husband is a MM, most either think he is a “Marine Marine” or they don’t know what a Merchant Mariner is or what they do. My guy is an academy graduate (he won’t let me say which one ‘cos he’s paranoid that someone will figure out who he is) and has been working in the industry since graduation.

merchant marine sealWhat exactly is a Merchant Mariner?? For those of you who don’t know, the United States has a fleet of  Merchant Marine vessels,  ships which are owned and registered in the US and fly under our flag, but are separate from the military. (We are proud supporters of American-flagged vessels.) For example, car ships carry cars (obvs!), container ships hold cargo of TVs, bananas, soda ash, or even sand and gravel.

tug barge

NOT the captain’s tug, but a good photo of a tug pushing and pulling a barge. Tugs are hard little workers. I think I can, I think I can…

The Merchant Marine supplements the military in times of war, transporting goods and equipment to areas where it is needed. The people who crew Merchant Marine vessels are known as Merchant Mariners. Perhaps you remember hearing about the Maersk Alabama, a container ship seized by pirates a few years ago? Tom Hanks stars as the captain in the soon-to-be released film of the Navy Seals’ rescue of the ship and her crew. People who work on tugboats are called Merchant Marines. My guy is a tug and tow Master, although he has decades of experience on yachts, passenger vessels, and just about every type of boat, excluding fishing. No Deadliest Catch stories here! Tugboats pull (or push) barges all over the world, assist all types of ships in and out of their berths, and work in marine construction and the oil industry. It is really more complex that than, with a rich history and great anecdotes, but I am only the wife of, and my perspective is a different one.

Update: I begged and pleaded and guilted and flattered my captain to get him to audition for the Tom Hanks pirate film–they liked his initial video audition so much the casting director even sent sides (that’s a script to those of you who are NOT in the know like I am), but he didn’t get the part. He really should have. I was totes planning to go as his personal manager to Morocco where they were filming.

Back to my story…this lifestyle has been quite an adjustment. When he’s home, he’s a 24/7 at-home husband, just like being retired, and a different routine ensues–one of compromise and diplomacy. When he’s away at sea, I become a sort of “grass widow” (a woman whose husband is away from home frequently or for a long time, as on business) and have learned to structure my time alone to stay occupied while waiting for my best friend to come home. We modern mariner wives are really no different than wives of a few hundred years ago whose husbands went out to sea. We might have email access and satellite telephones, and are able to stay in touch more frequently than the occasional letter posted from faraway ports, but we are essentially on our own for a great deal of time. We have to be completely independent and solve problems and fix broken washing machines and cars and take out the trash and mow the lawn by ourselves, unless we have kids still living at home on whom we can foist these chores.

My confession du jour? I fully rely on retail therapy to help me cope. That doesn’t mean I actually PURCHASE a lot and spend a lot of money, rather, I am an accomplished fashionista BROWSER, (which should be an Olympic sport, as far as I’m concerned.) I have endurance and I possess stamina. I’m a hunter AND a gatherer. A shot of wheatgrass and I’m good to go for hours in my quest for a treasure, a good deal, or something I just have to have, and can’t live without; the next get. You know that Shopaholic film? I’ve seen it about a dozen times; it’s like a training film for me…  A day or so after my MM leaves, I fortify myself with a protein drink, a double shot of wheatgrass, and lay out my itinerary with quasi-military precision. I first make the rounds of my local stores; TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Target, Homegoods, just like a warm-up in my boot camp class, and then move on to H&M, Anthropologie, White Market/Black House. After that, I venture further away to the Nordstrom Outlet, DSW (yes!!!), and then our local mall for BloomiesNieman Marcus, and the boutiques-Tory Burch, Hermes, and the holy grail at South Coast Plaza in the OC…Chanel…Chanel…Chanel. I want/need a Chanel 2.55, the original black quilted bag with the chain strap. I am saving for a pilgrimage to Paris to pay homage to Coco at the original location. I. can’t. wait.

Update: I just can’t do it to y’all again, I know I’m probs on your last nerve with the whole Chanel thing, but it was cool for ME to tell myself, “Hey girl, your dream DID come true! Way to go to think it, believe it, and it will happen!”

Today, I was on the hunt for another blazer; blazers are super trendy and forever a classic fashion staple,  but it has to be the right blazer in the right color and cut. I ended up at a local consignment shop and while I didn’t find the desired blazer, I discovered the treasure of a Tory Burch sweater with gorgeous logo buttons. I found a similar style for around $250, and I got it for $40. It’s in perfect condition and looks like it’s never been worn. The pic doesn’t do it justice; it’s a rich cocoa brown with TB logo buttons and totes adorbs. Update: This is the same consignment shop where I just scored the vintage Valentino.tory burch sweater

Well, it’s back to editing for me and building my Etsy store where I can sell all the ropework jewelry and beachy décor we create. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first glimpse into my world.

Update: STILL working on that Etsy store! Almost done tho, hopefully so I won’t completely miss the holiday season…

Thanks to one and all who’ve read me and followed me and commented and offered guidance and humor and friendship. The world still revolves around me, I suppose it always will…alas, that’s the cross my long suffering tugboat captain must bear…And if you’ve un-followed me, don’t forget that Santa could leave a lump of coal in your stocking, so maybe y’all need to rethink that decision. Right???