Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two Kinds of People in This World

Children have an uncanny ability to need a bathroom when one is farthest from reach. This was the case one dark night several years ago when we were on a family road trip, miles from the nearest town. Our daughter Emily Rose was about four, and announced from the back seat that she needed to go to the bathroom. Knowing we were at least fifteen minutes from a viable option, we explained that she could either wait it out, or we could pull over so she could go outside. Her response was quick and decisive.

"There are two kinds of people in this world," Rosie said,  "People who go to the bathroom on the side of the road, and people who don't. I am the second one."

Once we recovered from laughing until our sides ached, I began to think about how Rosie's philosophy could apply to many different situations. From that point on, I have mentally created all kinds of categories about people, narrowing them neatly into two buckets, those that do "X" and those that don't. People who will clip their nails at their desk. People who won't kill spiders. People who will tell you if you have black beans in your teeth. People who won't.

Up until today, I fell under the category of "a person who will not do crafts." I'd rather drink a glass of clumpy milk than set foot inside a Hobby Lobby. It's hard for me to even say those two words together without faking some kind of weird, Fargoesque accent where I say, "Habbie Labbie" and make a gagging signal. The few times I've been inside a Habbie Labbie, it's been due to a school project meltdown, or a sudden urgent need for a glue-stick, but it's never because I'm there to bedazzle a sweatshirt. The few times I have forced myself to enter the terrifying doors of a Habbie Labbie, I've been thoroughly overwhelmed by it. Between the mysterious wooden cutouts of cats and the like, to the unnecessary amounts and sizes of easels, to all of that scrap-booking nonsense, I have to practice deep cleansing breaths of foul potpourri and eucalyptus just to get out of there without a full-fledged panic attack.

And then you have the women with curious choices of accessories (hair and otherwise) who actually go there for sport, dragging around little bedazzled kids hyped up on Sour Patch Kids. Those women sniff me out, scanning me from head to toe, wondering how I had the audacity to enter their place of worship without a single bit of bling on my person, or at the very least a baseball cap with a glittery cross on it.

So I keep my head down and wander the aisles, humming along nervously to the canned contemporary Christian/patriotic music, winding my way through aisles of fuzzy pompoms and fluorescent poster board, clueless to the whereabouts of the gosh-darned glue-sticks. Finally I locate a spinster wearing a Habbie Labbie apron and flashing, four-leaf clover earrings, and she carefully leads me through a sea of craft crap to the vast selection of glue-stick options. By the time I check out, I've developed an eye twitch that lasts for days, reminding me never to return.

So this morning at breakfast, as I retold the story of a good friend who's boyfriend made home-made sugar scrub for her for this Christmas, Emily Rose, now 9, perked up.

"Oooh, let's make some!" she said, clapping her hands.

Inside, I cringed, fearful that this journey would land us inside a crafts store, searching for gingham jar covers. But it's the holidays, and what I felt I missed out on this year was enough travel-free, tv-free, noise-free time with my daughter, so I took this as a sign.

We started poking around online and found a few simple recipes, all easy enough to make, and presented in simple jars with simple labels. Hmm. Getting a little ballsier, I ventured over to Pinterest for a quick peek. I'm terrified of this Pinterest. The last thing I need is another thing to suck away more of my time and, God forbid, invite me into the dark world of crafting. Yet, we found some extremely cool salt scrub photos. Things seemed doable and even - dare I say it?- cute. Hmm...

I ventured out to our neighborhood grocery store and purchased 3 huge boxes of coarse Kosher salt, a large bottle of olive oil, and several lemons. Rosie stayed home with my husband to prepare our work station, and when I returned, we walked across the street to snip rosemary from our neighbor's massive rosemary bush, vowing to return the favor of stolen rosemary with our first batch of salt scrub.

Exhibit A: Emily Rose grates up lemon zest like a pro, having the time of her life. For those of you observant enough to notice that she's wearing a shirt with a glitter heart on it, please note that the glitter heart was not a result of a Habbie Labbie t-shirt project. You love it? I love it. I got it at Ross.

Exhibit B is the finished product. Emily Rose made the labels, which read: "Cozy Rosie's lemon rosemary salt scrub." At this point you're probably wondering if Rosie is wearing a glittery hair accessory. No, friends, that is our Christmas tree, which we may just leave up all year. (My husband actually suggested that today, and I think he was partially serious).

We took the first batch across the street to give to the two girls that we steal rosemary from on a regular basis. I strutted like a proud mother hen, instructing Rosie to be careful with the glass jar as if she had a mason jar filled with liquid gold. I sort of regret not walking over in an apron.

One of the neighbor girls answered the door as we were about to leave the jar at their doorstep. Her hair was wet and she'd just hopped out of the shower, a little startled at our random visit. Rosie explained what we'd made, touting the benefits of skin-softening while also making one's house smell wonderful, while I considered Rosie's promising future in Mary Kay sales. When the girl asked Rosie where we got the recipe, Rosie proudly said, "The Internet!" before I could answer, "Oh, it's an old family recipe we've been making for years." We strutted back home, my chest still puffed up from the Norman Rockwellian feeling of it all, and proceeded to make several more batches until we drained the house out of olive oil and lemons.

At one point during our assembly-line production, I asked Rosie what she liked about our project.

"It's an exercise in bonding!" she said, then scrunched up her brow and laughed. "But wait, we've been bonding for the past nine years. It's not like we need it!"

But we did need it. We had a wonderful time working together, and figuring out something new. Not to mention, I was the first to sample our finished product, and my before and after elbow softness test tells me I should have been salt scrubbing a long time ago.

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who will dip their toe carefully into the world of home-made projects, and those who will not. While you won't see me prancing through Habbie Labbie any time soon, you may see me poking around a little on Pinterest.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Time to Heal

We've decided to take a break from the news.

Friday, when the tragic news from Newton, Connecticut broke, I called my husband to discuss how we would handle sharing this news with our fourth grade daughter. Like so many of my friends, who posted on Facebook and Twitter that they wanted to pick up their children right that minute, my first inclination was to drop everything and go to my daughter's school, hold her tightly, and not let go.

My husband -- always a voice of reason during times of tragedy and emergency -- suggested that we wait until school was out, and not do anything too disruptive to our daughter's normal schedule. We considered that it was unlikely that the school would share the news with the students, but that we didn't want her to hear the news from other children or parents who might be discussing it in the hallway after school let out.

When we arrived at the school, it was a typical Friday afternoon, children running through the hallways, screaming and laughing, digging money out of their pockets for our school's weekly candy sale, a fundraiser for the school's 5th grade class. I went inside to find our daughter, and spotted her bouncing down the hall, talking and laughing with a classmate. Oblivious to the horrors being reported on the news, the children were the picture of innocence.

"Mommy! You're here early.." she said as I hugged her so tightly she wiggled free, embarrassed, "A lot of parents are picking up their kids early today. Weird.."

And it was true. The school seemed unusually busy for a Friday afternoon, likely because other parents wanted to get their hands on their kids and hug them tightly as well.

We walked together to the cafeteria where the aftercare children meet. A group of kids were lined up to carefully pour a cup of hot chocolate, a special holiday treat. Others worked busily on art projects. Others were tossing binders and backpacks on the floor, a week of school behind them. Several of our daughter's friends ran up for a hug, or to show me something they'd drawn. I paused for a moment and just watched the scene, groups of children on a Friday afternoon, just being kids. I felt immensely grateful, yet painfully aware that nearly 2,000 miles away, another elementary school was the scene of something unimaginable. 

 As I went to sign our daughter out of aftercare, the aftercare teacher and I exchanged a controlled, yet tearful look.

"You're early today," she said, equally surprised to see me before 5:00.

"Yeah," I said, rubbing the head of one of our daughter's classmates as he walked by, "It just felt like a good day to pick her up early.."

At home, the weekend began like any other weekend, except it was several hours earlier and the television was intentionally off. This is unusual for us. We're a news-watching family. Each morning, two televisions - one in the living room and one in the master bedroom - report on a combination of local and national news.   My husband, a political junkie, irons his shirt in the living room as he talks back to the commentators on MSNBC. I dress based on my local NBC weather report, and time my morning around the opening music of The Today Show.

But this time, in an effort to protect our daughter from disturbing information, images of violence, or the sensationalism of a tragic event, we opted to explain the situation by talking. As we had hoped, our daughter had not heard the news. As parents, Tim and I did our best to explain the news to a 9-year old, offering her solace only in the fact that what had happened was so far away, perhaps the distance would make it seem less real.

This reminded me of a friend of my parents, who, despite his profession as a photojournalist, made a conscious decision to stop watching the national news many years ago. It was simply too depressing and overwhelming. Feeling helpless, he decided that the only thing the national news could do was make him fearful of things out of his control. So he chose to only pay attention to local news stories, and felt that by doing so, he could choose to impact things in his own community. And when he made this decision, he felt more at peace. Perhaps it's the ultimate exercise in denial, like those who choose not to vote because they don't feel their vote counts. Yet, I relate to his decision, and wonder if there's a way to stay informed, yet be shielded from the sense of overwhelm that comes from so much tragedy and sadness.

Because the constant reminders of Sandy Hook have been so painful, I decided to step back from social media a bit this weekend as well.  I tried to do my part in sharing some coping tools with my Facebook friends, posting a wonderful article by Fred Rogers on how to talk to your children about unsettling news events. I also stumbled across a post written by a man in Vancouver that was falsely attributed to Morgan Freeman, wherein the author blamed the media for sensationalizing stories of  mass violence, and rewarding those responsible with a celebrity status. In this post, the reader was advised to stop watching the news. And because when Morgan Freeman tells us something, we can't help but think it's coming from God, we pay attention.

As parents, we will never be able to adequately explain to a child why things so tragic happen. We can talk about our opinions on how society cares for our mentally ill, we can share out thoughts about guns, or our thoughts about violence. We can tell our daughter to cover her eyes when a violent scene comes up as we're watching a movie. As parents, we can do our best to protect our children, including our two teenagers who, because of easy access to the media through their smart phones, are more aware of the darkness in society. And while we know that all of our children will lose that sense of wide-eyed innocence soon enough, as parents, we do our best to provide shelter from the news that will forever change them.

So this weekend, we did what we could to help guard our daughter from the painful reality of the tragedy in Newton. And by turning off the news, we blocked ourselves from the pain as well. Friday night, we buried our heads in Technicolor, decorating the Christmas tree, and watching the fantastically innocent "White Christmas."  Saturday, we slept in and stayed home all day, enjoying a day with no schedules and no commitments. Today, we'll attend a holiday party with friends, and as the adults mingle and the children run around making merry, we'll look at it all a little differently, knowing that what we have is something truly precious, and something that we cherish, and that the news will be there tomorrow, if we choose to turn it on.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Celebrating The Original Emily

My sister Emily is graduating college today!

With a ceremony to attend, family and friends to shuffle around, and a celebration of two-stepping at the legendary Broken Spoke tonight (a place where my sister once worked and is famous for being "High Kicking Emily") this will be a busy weekend. Before the revelry begins, I'd like to take a moment to brag on my sister and best friend.

Back in 1976, my parents sat me down to tell me they were having a baby. I was four years old, and instead of expressing excitement, I burst into tears. Assuming I was like a car, I thought my parents were trading me in for a newer model and getting rid of me. Here's an awesome yet blurry pic of my mom, wearing a really cool 1970's pregnancy shirt explaining her bump. What a great shirt! If more pregnant women wore shirts like this, it would avoid a lot of awkward questions. The only shirt that would be better would be the one my friend would design that would say, "Food Baby," another shirt that would avoid a lot of awkward questions. But I digress.

Inside that tummy was the amazing Emily Susan Underwood. We fell in love with her immediately, and my fears of  being replaced were replaced with the joy of having an instant best friend. She was one of those perfect babies who was soft, cuddly, and squeezable. Who needed a doll when you had a real one to play with?  Pardon my bowl cut, sleepy morning eyes and the glare of the hideous wood paneling that screams 1976 and check out that baby. Could there be a cuter baby? I'm pretty sure in this picture, Emily knows that she has a friend for life. That, or she's filling up a diaper.

Our parents divorced when I was 9. While I know the event rattled our world to some extent, I've always felt that both of my parents ended up with wonderful people who were better matches for them in a million different ways. Together, Emily and I navigated the sudden reality of living in two homes, learning how to adapt to two houses with polar opposite philosophies, food choices, schedules, etc. I don't recall ever feeling like I had to take care of Emily, though I was several years older. We took care of each other. While I was the chatty kid who wore her emotions on her sleeve, Emily was a calming force who observed things quietly and seemed to possess a deep insight on people and situations very early in life. It's not surprising that today she'll graduate with a degree in Sociology. 

Em was an awesome little kid. Wildly creative, she created and designed a playhouse in our backyard, using a wooden theater set from a children's play on Noah's Ark, and re-purposing it into a fantastic 80's Party Ark, where she and her friends would hang out and create plays and musicals. Because she didn't have a little sister to boss around, she took ownership of our unusually patient cat Georgia, dressing her up in doll clothes and pushing her around in a cart. During our teens, while I clung desperately to maintain popularity, Em stayed true to herself, rocking unique fashion choices, unafraid to stand out by being different. While I went to prom in sequins, Emily went in leather. She and her date rode to prom on a motorcycle. Emily was the essence of cool, and still is.

Instead of going straight to college after high school, Emily and I both spent a year abroad as exchange students. Emily lived in Switzerland, and while we missed her desperately while she was away, we knew that the experience was life-changing, and would impact her view on the world. She worked in a day care, and the children she cared for taught her French while she took care of their basic needs. It was a perfect fit for Emily's nurturing spirit and amazing connection with children. She returned from Switzerland more beautiful than ever, more mature, and fluent in French.

Then came the Los Angeles years. Emily moved there in the late 90's when she was dating a musician, and for all of us who love her, the sense of loss when she moved was intense. Yet, Emily has always made choices that are well-thought out, and part of her decision to move was to support her boyfriend's dream, but also to experience working and living independently in a huge city. She met great friends, carved a niche for herself in advertising, and was the picture of success.

I moved out to LA in 2000 after finishing my degree. Emily invited me to move in with her, and it was one of the best years of my life. Inspired to be healthy, we jogged together on the beach, bickering in the cold morning air, and rewarding ourselves at the end of the run by swinging on the large swing set facing the beach in Santa Monica. Once, while jogging, we saw Crocodile Dundee. Or not. (Inside joke). We sang Karaoke so often that we referred to it as "Vitamin K". Miles away from our home town, we made lifelong friends in LA, and will always feel like we're a little bit California because of it.

If it weren't for men, Emily and I would be those sisters who live together forever. We're pretty much those sisters anyway, reading each other's thoughts and sharing countless obnoxious inside jokes. We geek out and sing in harmony together, using years of church choir experience to figure out harmonies to all sorts of cornball songs. And since we're Amy and Emily, call ourselves the Indigo Squirrels, named after Amy and Emily of the Indigo Girls. We share a strange language we created based on the movie "The Ladies Man," to the point where I'm sure some people we know think we both have lisps and were raised in Harlem.

We love attending weddings together, where we feel like the oddball Southern sisters in "My Best Friend's Wedding". Here's a picture taken at a friend's wedding in Los Angeles. Shortly after this picture was taken, we were nearly electrocuted/arrested for taking our shoes off and dancing in the waters of the lighted fountain behind us. This is the wedding where we became known as "THOSE sisters." We're proud of that title.

I moved back to Austin in 2001, madly in love with my now-husband, Tim, and we married in 2002. A naturally-talented event planner, Emily planned our wedding from her desk in Los Angeles, generously funding many of the necessary items for our intimate, backyard wedding at my mom and stepfather's home in Tyler. While my stepdaughter Stephanie was my Maid of Honor, we bucked tradition and invited Emily to be the oldest flower girl in history. And as always, she did it with grace and a sense of humor, and she was beautiful.

When Tim and I had our first child together, we chose not to find out the sex of the baby. We had a few names picked out, and had decided on the name Dorothy Eileen if it was a girl. My paternal grandmother's name was Dorothy, my husband's mother's name is Eileen. My grandmother, while flattered, said that naming a girl Dorothy was cruel because it would only conjure up Wizard of Oz references. Still, we liked the name and went to the hospital with that in our back pocket.

When the baby was born, she came out looking exactly like my sister. Drugged up from an emergency C-section, I stayed behind to get stitched up while Tim greeted the family through the glass wall of the hospital nursery. When the family mouthed, "What's her name?" Tim simply shrugged a question mark. Tim brought the baby back to me and asked, "Is this a Dorothy Eileen?" to which I groggily replied, "No, she's an Emily Rose."

I'm not sure where the Rose came from, since my sister is Emily Susan, but I was all sorts of out of it, and I did grow up in Tyler, where roses are kind of a thing. As soon as Emily Rose was introduced to the world, we arbitrarily removed Emily's given name and began calling her Tia. We gave her zero choice in the matter, but Emily Rose and Tia are truly two of a kind. Here's Emily Rose on her 5th birthday, wearing a hand-made cowgirl outfit that Tia designed.

Emily left her life in Los Angeles to move to Austin to be near us, and for that, I'm forever grateful. My kids had an opportunity to be close to their aunt, and each of our children have had the extreme benefit of her influence. She has been there for all of us during celebrations, dramas, birthdays, holidays, and has offered all of us a sense of calm in our otherwise wild life. We couldn't have done it without her.

A few weeks ago, my sister was proposed to on the beautiful beach in Mexico by her soul mate and best friend, Rocky. I was lucky to be there to celebrate in this huge moment. In the essence of full disclosure, this news is still settling in, as for the first time in my life, I am going to have to share the person with whom I've been closest to since we were kids. But take a look at how happy they are! I can't possibly not be cool with sharing with someone who cares about my sister that much.

Emily's choice to finish school when she was sure about what she wanted is another prime example of how she thinks through life's big decisions, and takes them seriously. Through a combination of student loans and financial support from our selfless, hard-working mother, Emily will walk the stage at the Frank Erwin Center today, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She can get over my head very quickly when she talks about theories on populations, crime and other Sociology-related topics. She's a sharp cookie. In January, she'll begin graduate school at UT, to earn a Master's in Social Work. And then, she'll marry the love of her life.

For me, all of this big news for my sister is hugely exciting, and also bittersweet. But I can promise this: when my sister walks the stage today, it will be her moment, and I'll be cheering for her the loudest.

Emily, congratulations on this amazing accomplishment. I love you, Thupa Thquirrel!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Relax? Can't Do It.

Relaxation doesn't come easy to me. In fact, thinking about relaxation makes my palms sweat. It's just too much work.

I'm that girl in yoga who, while everyone else is deep in Shavasana and all connected with their third eye, is having a one-sided internal conversation that goes something like this:

"Hmm, I wonder if the guy next to me has ever tried deodorant? Surely if he spends that much time working on shoulder stand, he could take a little time to consider how he smells. I wonder what his house looks like? Ooh, maybe he's that guy my friend went out with that had a tent city in his living room! Did she say he had a beard? I wonder what Tim would say if I told him I wanted to build a tent city, ha! God, I'm hungry. A burger sounds good right now. Without the bun. With the bun, that's more calories than I just burned. But it would be better with bacon. Everything is better with bacon. I hate this music. This song sounds just like the Monday Night Football song, played with a sitar. Where do you buy a sitar? Do they have sitar stores in India like we have piano stores? OMG, Amy, you're supposed to be relaxing..."

If I'm not having some crazy internal stream of random thoughts, I'm completely asleep and drooling. I once had a yoga teacher tell me that if I can't stay awake to meditate, I'm not truly meditating. I'm guessing my snoring was a little offensive to the rest of the class.

Several years ago I was the recipient of a sales award where the prize was a trip to Aruba. Part of the experience included a choice of special events for the recipient and their guest. I selected a massage; my husband opted for deep-sea fishing.  As luck would have it, my massage was performed by a large Aruban woman who apparently mistook me for an ex-husband that she hated.  What should have been a gentle Swedish massage became more like a 90-minute Aruban Assault, and I left her weird little massage room sore, confused, and a little fearful for my life. It was not exactly the relaxation I was seeking.

As my husband left for his fishing trip, I took a few magazines, a book, a journal, and an iPod with headphones, and headed to the pristine beach, where I found a perfect spot under an umbrella. It was early still, so nobody was around, and I had my pick of all of the beach chairs. I got situated, applied sunscreen, surveyed paradise, and took a deep breath. It was time to relax.

And then I got antsy.

With nobody to talk to, no kids to feed, no customers to help, no television or gadget to amuse me, the mere act of relaxation made me anxious. I needed someone to talk to.

Right away, a scraggly, dentally-challenged boat captain walked up, and offered to take me on a private boat trip on his dingy little speedboat. And of course I went, not just because I'm wildly trusting, but also because he had a sun tattoo on his upper arm with the word "Namaste" written above it, so I assumed he wasn't a serial killer. The boat was primitive to say the least, and didn't even have a seat for the guest. The captain pointed to the front of the boat, where the only way to secure myself somewhat safely was to grab on to a large blue rope and sit cautiously without flashing onlookers my unfortunate thighs. Without warning, he started the boat and whizzed at ridiculous speeds through the choppy waters of Aruba. Clutching the rope with all my might, I screamed for mercy as we bounced up and down over the waves, the scraggly boat captain laughing loudly and completely ignoring my pleas to slow down. Right about the time I convinced myself that my boat captain was either a serial killer or the ex-husband of my large Aruban massage therapist, he brought me back to shore safely. Yet somehow, the experience was exhilarating and I don't regret it one bit, mainly because it's such a great story, and I love telling people I had a private boat captain in Aruba. (I just leave out the missing teeth and unsafe boat portion of the story). I waved goodbye with rope-burned hands, feeling happy. And somehow, I felt relaxed.

Last week, I tried to relax again. I went to Tulum, Mexico, to attend the wedding of our friends Michelle and Todd. Because my husband stayed behind to take care of the kids, I roomed with a friend that I've never roomed with before. Before the trip, I emailed my roomie, jokingly telling her that I enjoy spooning to romantic comedies dubbed in Spanish, and if she wanted to skinny dip with me in the evenings, I'd like to hold hands while doing it because I'm afraid of seaweed. I used that opening to soften the blow of the challenging part of being my roommate: my snoring problem.

My roomie came prepared with earplugs and her iPhone, loaded up with apps to help her sleep. On the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, we bonded over our choices of iPhone apps, and the sounds we prefer to use to help us sleep. These apps are a godsend on work trips. I once drowned out the sound of a screaming infant on a flight from San Francisco to Austin by playing the sounds of a driving rainstorm. Another time, the man in the hotel room next to me watched Pay-Per-View porn until 3:00 am, so I drowned out the moaning with the gentle jingle jangle of a passenger train. 

As we talked about sleep issues (everybody seems to have them), we suddenly came up with a brilliant business plan. (I'm convinced that many brilliant business plans happen on airport shuttles in Mexico while the passengers are throwing back Coronas). 

What if we invented an app that had the sounds of someone talking to put you to sleep? Personally, if I had a recording of my husband explaining the relationship between a flywheel and a clutch plate, I'd be asleep in seconds. And I'm sure that if my husband could have a recording of me recanting the time I had a panic attack at the top of Chichen Itza, he'd be out in minutes. 

We brainstormed ideas for Boring Sound Selections. Imagine if you could have your freshman History teacher lecturing on the Battle of Antietam? If it put you to sleep 15 years ago, I'm sure it would do the trick now. My friend took it to a whole new level, suggesting foreign language recordings, so that you'd wake up fluent in French.

When we arrived at the hotel, energized from our great shuttle conversations, the hotel was postcard perfection. Here's the view from our room:

Perfect place to relax, right?

Because I'm an old married, several nights on the trip, I opted to go to bed earlier while my roomie stayed out to make merry with the other wedding guests. Our room was modestly appointed, and did not have a television, so the prospect of watching rom-coms dubbed in Spanish was eliminated from my option list. I had grand illusions of writing. I didn't write. I brought a book about writing that I planned on reading cover to cover. It bored me, but not enough to make me sleepy. I'd already resigned myself to turn off my phone while in Mexico because of my mobile provider's exorbitant international rate plan. I opened the door, got in bed, and listened to the waves crashing on the beach. 

Now, wouldn't you think that because I'm able to fall asleep to the sounds of a beach on an app on my iPhone that having an actual beach with actual crashing waves right outside my door would do the trick? 


The only thing that helped me fall asleep properly was to wait for my roomie to come home, and as we flipped off the lights, I talked. And talked. And talked both of us to sleep.

When the trip was over, I couldn't wait to tell my husband about our brilliant business plan. Many Thursday nights, we meet a friend for Mexican martinis and dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. I decided this was the perfect time to spill the frijoles, and shared the idea as my husband and friend listened. They did not appear enthusiastic about the plan. Perhaps my husband was not amused at my using his discussion on economic policy as an example of something that could bore you to sleep, but still. I expected enthusiasm, and I didn't get it.

It didn't take long for my friend to burst my bubble, stating that most nights, he falls to sleep to classic books on tape (books on iTunes, to be more exact). Evidently, you can download all sorts of classics because of copyright laws that I don't understand. So while we were in Mexico, conjuring up recording sessions of government teachers lecturing on the Legislative branch, my friend was being lulled to sleep by the soft strains of A Tale of Two Cities.

But even better than classic books on tape? A few sips of Mexican martini later, and my friend confessed that some nights, he falls to sleep to the Bible. My friend is not the kind of guy I imagine cozying up in an easy chair for some Deuteronomy, so this cracks me up to no end. He admitted that he doesn't retain much, as it only takes a few chapters for him to fall asleep, but that it works wonders to prevent insomnia. Still, I can't help but wonder if he's earning eternal salvation simply by sleeping to Ecclesiastes.

So while my friend and I likely won't become billionaires with our fabulous app idea, I'm looking forward to downloading Ulysses, because it certainly put me to sleep the first time around. And the next time my husband starts to explain Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? Don't be surprised if I'm on the edge of my seat, iPhone behind my back, as I listen intently and secretly record him.