Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Hate Your Hobby



Hobbies make people interesting.  But, they also make people really annoying.  Like the guy who does CrossFit who has to tell you how many Tabata squats he can do or what the hell a Tabata squat is.  Or the bird-watcher who stops you mid-conversation to tell you about the Rufous-Sided Towhee that just flew overhead.  And if your hobby is shopping, video games or binge watching any series on Netflix, rest assured that I don't want to listen to you talk about it.  But what if you're married to someone whose hobby you hate?  And you are contractually obligated to endure it?

Ok, maybe hate is a strong word.  I don't necessarily hate my husband's hobby.  But, it is really annoying.  Especially because I hate birds and he loves them.  Which is how I know about the Rufous-Sided Towhee and that the screech at the beginning of Northern Exposure when they show an American Eagle is actually the screech of a Red-tailed Hawk.  Blasphemy!  But, the bird watching isn't even the hobby that's annoying.  Because bird watching for the most part is a quiet, unobtrusive activity.   But, being in a rock band is much louder and way more obtrusive.

Don't get me wrong, I love when he performs.  And he's a really good guitarist and he even sings sometimes too.  His guitar solo on Alice in Chains' Man in the Box is off the chain.  However, to get that good, it requires practice.  Lots of practice.  Lots of listening to him play Don't Stop Believing by Journey.  Over.  And over.  And over again.  I really can't stand that small town girl.  It's a one night stand that never ends.  Ever.  Not only do I get to hear it all the time, but sometimes he starts practicing in the front room directly adjacent to the office where I am, at 6am before he goes to work.  SIX IN THE MORNING, I SAID!  No one even wants Jessie's Girl at that ungodly hour, never mind a nameless small town girl.

Then there's my hobby.  People have told my husband he's so lucky that I pole dance.  But, the truth is, he really doesn't reap any rewards from it.  (Maybe on Valentine's Day, if he's lucky.)  Because I practice when he's at work.  So he only sees me dancing on Instagram like everyone else.  Unless I pole dance weekend mornings.  Upstairs with the doors closed trying not to wake our teenagers.   But, he can still hear the (muffled) music and me thumping when I land hard on the floor.  And then there's the swearing when I can't figure out a new trick.  And usually when I'm practicing I'll have the same song on a loop.  The last time I annoyed him this way on a Saturday morning, he interpreted the lyrics "I wish I was the driver" through the closed door as "I wish I was in China".  Which he probably really did wish.  When I'm done, all he can see are the bruises on my body in weird places and me complaining about how sore my muscles are.  My god, he's so lucky!

But really, the people who hate our hobbies more than we hate each other's are our kids.  Because starting ridiculously early on the weekends, while they're trying to sleep in, they get to hear Foreigner and Audio Slave.  Sometimes at the exact same time.  Which seems like ample punishment for us having to endure their accelerated teenage metabolisms and their indulgent sleep schedules.  So, I guess it all works out really.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DMV


My third kid has started driver's ed.  You'd think I'd have this whole process all mapped out by now.  Instead, I've blocked my other teens learning to drive out of my mind completely.  Well, unfortunately not completely.  I remember enough to dread it.  Being terrified sitting helpless in the passenger's seat of my own car with my kid at the wheel.  Then being shocked and horrified (not to mention, broke) when my kids got their licenses and I had to add two teen boys on to the car insurance.  But, the thing I remember the most vividly is the DMV.  Which in Colorado is actually called the Department of Revenue.  But, if I titled this post that, you would've thought this post was about pot.  And now that I think about it, it probably would've gotten more readers.  Whatever.

With my first kid, the anticipation of him driving was completely traumatic.  For me anyhow.  And with my second one, I want to say I was a tad more relaxed, but I wasn't.  And no one was as relaxed as he was.  Because about 5 months after he got his driver's permit, he lost his wallet with his permit in it.   Requiring that I drive him back to the Department of Revenue to get a new one.  The thing is in Colorado Springs there's only one office that handles driver's permits for the entire city.  Making it insanely busy.  No problem.  We'll just get there before it opens and wait outside so we can be the first in line.  Only, when we got there at 6:55 am (it opens at 7) there was already a long line waiting for the door to open.  Shit!  At least I brought a book with me.  And I had an extra one in the car, just in case.  But, surely it wouldn't take that long.

After we filtered in and got a number that's in a random order so you can't calculate how long you have to wait, there weren't any seats left.  After a couple of hours leaning against the wall and shifting to alleviate my aching back, while constantly surveying people whose numbers got called to steal their seats when they got up, we could finally sit down. Time ticked away with the loud distractions of people talking on their phones in the one huge waiting room we were all crammed into while I read my book.

Until it was lunchtime and the clerks cycled through their breaks one at a time.  Reducing the number of open windows to serve customers for 2 hours.  We were so hungry we started fantasizing about the soggy tuna sandwiches they were likely eating in the back room.  Which is basically the brink of starvation. We couldn't risk leaving, because you know our number would be called while we were out.  So, I left my kid there as collateral, while I ran to the 7-11 down the street to score us some soda, chips and candy bars.  The sweaty hot dog rotating on the warming roller was tempting, but I was sure it would require me to use the public toilet in an untimely, urgent way.  And if they're understaffed at the counter, I can't imagine the state of the restrooms.

I'd already finished one book and got the other one from the car on the way back in with our food rations.  We weren't leaving without a permit.  Another hour and a half and several chapters in my second book later, our number was finally called.   We filled out the obligatory paperwork, he had his photo taken and a mere total of 7 hours later, my son had a receipt for a driver's permit he'd receive in the mail in a week or so.  But instead of getting the new driver's permit in 7 days (that took longer), my son found his wallet with his original driver's permit in it at a friend's house.  Are you kidding me?  And that's when I almost killed him.  It's also why I dreaded going with my third kid to get her driver's permit, because I've already done my time!

My daughter had gotten a perfect score on her written exam at her driver's education class two days before.  All we had to do was take her paperwork to the Department of Revenue to get the permit.  But, this time, I made an appointment at the office in Pueblo (a 50 minute drive south of Colorado Springs).  I brought a book and snacks, just in case.  We arrived promptly at her appointment time with all the required documentation and we were sent directly to the counter.  Finally, I'd beaten the system!  Or had I?  Because when they went to search for her test results on their new convenient electronic system, they couldn't find it.   And there was nothing we could do to rectify the situation.  (Trust me, I tried.)  So, we drove all the way back home permit-less.

And I promptly made another appointment down in Pueblo to get her permit.  But, only after getting a copy of the results of her written test e-mailed to me.  Now, I only need to get a new ink cartridge so I can print it out to have tangible physical proof when we go tomorrow.  I'm bringing 3 books, 2 meals and a tent. I don't care if we need a camping permit or not!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ma'am

Definition courtesy of Urban Dictionary

I was a teenager the first time I ever heard someone referred to as ma'am.  I was visiting the south where it's considered to be a sign of respect.  But, much like "bless your heart", it always came off as condescending to me.  Maybe because I was a northern girl raised on sarcasm and cynicism.  Taught never to believe what someone says and only trust a fraction of what they do.  Ma'am never had a place in my (blessed) heart from the start.

Now that I'm in middle age (well...if I live to age 94, I am anyway) I absolutely detest being called ma'am.  I do get it when I'm ma'amed by people who are significantly younger than me, to whom I'm a relic.  But, the people half my age, aren't hung up on being polite.  So, they avoid the whole situation by not calling me anything.  Or acknowledging my existence.  Because most of the time they've got their head buried in their phone and they don't even see me.

No, it's the people my age or older, who were brought up to be polite who are the worst offenders.  Not only do they see you because they aren't distracted by their phone, because they probably don't know how it works or can't find their glasses to read a text (ahem...like me), but they will also make direct eye contact.  And then categorize you by age by the crow's feet around your eyes.   Any woman under 30 is still a "miss" and anyone else is a "ma'am".

Unless...you get the flatterer (AKA: Eddie Haskell and if I have to explain who that is, you're definitely a "miss").  The flatterer sees your scowl lines and gray hairs and absolutely knows you're without a doubt a "ma'am"  but "misses" you.  In a completely condescending way.  Also, there is usually some kind of payout that acts as motivation for this flattery.  Like a tip, commission or free pass to heaven involved.   You know you're being belittled and so do they.  And yet somehow, even through that massively thick layer of bullshit, it's still better than being "ma'amed".

Which is why I've constructed a short list of things I'd rather be called than ma'am:

Hey
You
Sir
Bitch and/or bastard (I'm no sexist)
Douchebag
Jackass
Idiot (interchangeable with moron or stupid)
Ugly (I had a co-worker call me "fea", which is Spanish for ugly.)
I would even take honey or sweetie which I also find demeaning.

Somehow, in our culture, being called old seems worse than any of the things on that list.
Basically, I'll respond to almost anything, besides Ma'am.  


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Twenty-Five Years


Next week I'll have been married for twenty-five years. It was a big church wedding with my big Catholic family.  Which was the tradition in my family.  But, things started to go wrong when the venue I'd reserved over a year in advance burned down a few months before our big day.  Then, when I chose an ivory dress, my mother told me my grandmother would disapprove, so I begrudgingly decided to get a white one.  I had it specially made after seeing a gorgeous photo of an extremely expensive dress in a magazine.  Although, my cheap, WHITE imitation didn't turn out the way I'd hoped.  But, I wore it as is anyway to spare the seamstress's feelings.  Without a veil to hamper my glorious, teased hair, despite my mother's protests to the contrary.  It was the one thing I asserted myself about for my own wedding.  And, to this day,  I still regret not wearing a flower in my hair.  As if the flower would've distracted from the enormous, flat bows on my sleeves.  Or the huge earrings.  WTF was I thinking?  None of it really mattered anyway, because the photographer we hired, was about 75 years old with thick coke-bottle glasses which obviously weren't thick enough because all of our pictures are blurry.

I didn't know it was the prelude for all the screw ups yet to come.  

And now here we are 25 years later, with 4 kids, a house and at least a hundred home improvement projects to do that will never all get done.  Because there's too much other stuff going on.  And how can we afford to do stuff on the house when we spend all our money on car insurance for our teenagers to drive?  But, even more importantly, how can we get away from our kids and take a trip, just the two of us, for our 25th anniversary?  A year ago, we talked about going on an exotic, romantic trip to Bali to celebrate.  Or, more like I talked about it and my husband said, "Wouldn't that be weird without the kids?"  Well now that you said that it would!  I haven't wanted to bitch slap him too many times during our marriage, but that was one of them.  I'm just not a violent person.  Ok, there are the times I've given him a backhand swat with my arm or a flying round kick nailing him right in the ass (I'm incredibly accurate, if I'm bragging), but those are totally in fun, even if he gets a little butt hurt.   

This is not the part of the post where I say, "Guess what?  Surprise! We're going to Bali for our anniversary!"  Because between house guests and kids activities it's not going to work.  We can't even fit in one night away in a hotel in Denver (an hour away from here) for god's sake!  In fact, we don't have any plans at all.  Last night while I was cleaning up the dishes after dinner I announced, I didn't get you anything for our anniversary.  To which he responded, I didn't get you anything either.  Ahhhh...romance.  I imagine we'll go to dinner.  Maybe at Golden Corral.  I'm joking.  Or am I? When we're done eating we'll try to find some live music, but there won't be any because Colorado Springs on a Friday night is pretty lame. But, on a Tuesday night it's even more lame.  And that's hard to do. So, we'll probably take a romantic stroll together through the aisles of Home Depot to shop for our never ending home improvement projects.  And then arrive home about 8pm.  With our kids wondering why we're home so early.  Then we'll get into our pajamas, settle in on the couch and watch cooking shows.  The way we do every other night.  Unless we switch it up and watch a home improvement show.

Because if it ain't broke, why fix it?
What can I say?
 I'm a romantic.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Head & Heart


I'm constantly fighting a battle between my head and my heart.  Torn between what I should do and what I want to do.  What I know to be true and what I want to be true.  And what I know to be lies, but still ruminate on as if they're true.  It's a vicious and exhausting cycle that I can't seem to stop cycling through.

I'm an emotional decision maker.  I always have been.  Which is odd because from the outside, I'm not an overly-emotional person.  I don't cry easily.  And I'm not an easy laugh either.  But, when I do either, they are genuine.  I also don't get attached to people easily, because when I do my soft heart is left defenseless.  Which is why my mind builds walls.  

My head is much smarter than my foolish heart.  My brain can rationalize, analyze the facts, consider the risks and predict the final outcome.  It's just that my heart is so much stronger than my head.  Because my heart can manipulate my head into conspiring with it.  Like the time I wanted and pleaded with my husband to adopt two more kids.  Luckily, unlike me, my husband's logic usually and easily wins the battle over his emotions.  Which is why we only have four kids instead of six.  And in hindsight, I can see he was right.  He's always right with that kind of stuff.  (I hope he doesn't read this.)

The problem is, while my heart is generous and compassionate to others, it tends to be hateful and vicious to me.  I carry all of my irrational insecurities around in my heart.   All the feelings that I'm not good enough.   Then I berate and brutalize myself quietly, chambered off from the rest of the world.  And reality.  It's what I've always done.  And not to brag, but I'm pretty damn good at it!

Except, now I know I'm doing it.  And that it's holding me back.  That I have to use my head to rationalize myself out of the situation.  But, I already know that my logic is underutilized and thus, ill-equipped to deal with the steady barrage of self deprecating thoughts and feelings.  And I know what I have to do. I have to fortify my head if I'm to have a fighting chance to rescue myself from my malicious and ruinous heart.  Riding out the emotions, while continuing to reason that all the lies I tell myself aren't true.  Hoping one day,  I'll believe it.  And that my head will one day win the war over my heart.  To save myself.



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Proud


My oldest son graduates from high school today.  But, that's not why I'm proud of him.  High school is actually pretty easy to graduate from.  Plus, it's an expectation.  It's your job as a kid to go to school and to graduate from it.

Let me tell you about my son.  He's confident, charismatic and industrious. And yes, obviously he's adopted because he clearly didn't get any of these traits from me.  He got a work permit and a job at age 15.  Not because we suggested he get one.  But, mostly because we'd always told him we wouldn't buy him a car.  That he'd have to save up his money and buy his own.  Which is exactly what he did.  Last summer at age 17, he'd saved enough to buy a 1972 International Scout.  He was so proud the day he bought it.  He asked me to do the honors and start the engine so he could check the timing,  the first day it was home.  That's when I inadvertently crashed his car into my 1969 Karmann Ghia. (You can read that story here. )  Don't worry, his car sustained no damage.  Even though he had a car, he couldn't drive it.  Because he'd never driven a manual before.  After only two lessons with his dad, he was a pro.  Then he researched how to fix nearly everything on his car on the internet and spent countless hours fixing it up.  Spending about $2000 of his own money in parts.  He even painted it himself.


Photo Credit:  Ember Loerzel
Special Guest Appearance:  Clyde Loerzel
He loved that car.  I'd often look out my bedroom window and see him in the driveway standing and admiring it.  Who could blame the kid?  He'd worked his ass off to get himself the exact car he wanted.  Until one day, when he realized how much he could sell it for.   Then, unbeknownst to us at the time, he promptly quit his job.  And then to our complete shock,  he sold his beloved car and made $2000 in profit.  The man he sold it to was so impressed with my son, he finally asked him how old he was right before the sale.  18, he told him.

That's when he started shopping for a "new" old Scout to invest in.  And he found one.  A newer model from 1979.  In South Carolina.  That wasn't running.  And he had it shipped to our house sight unseen.  Not only that, when he couldn't secure a driver through a broker after trying three times, he cut out the middleman entirely and hired his own driver.  WTF was he thinking?  

One rainy day, it arrived and he rolled it off the truck and he and his dad towed it up the driveway.  He'd already bought the parts to get it up and running.  And within a week, he had a working vehicle again.   

Until...

he lost the key.  The only key to his new car.  He looked everywhere for it.  Then, he called a locksmith.  And determined that  $150 was too expensive.  Because, of course,  he'd be paying the locksmith with his own money.  So, he decided to hot wire the car.  And  buy a new ignition and key for $10.  Installing it took him a whole day.  But, he did it.  And promptly made two copies of the new key.  (The next day, when I was doing laundry, the old key fell out of the dryer.)  

That's why I'm proud of him. 
Because my kid has life skills...
and he can hot wire a car.   

Monday, May 15, 2017

Just Like Riding a Bike


The sun was shining, the temperature was balmy, but not oppressive.  None of my kids were home and my husband and I were headed to a wine tasting.  When I had an idea.  The tasting was only a few miles away and it was the perfect day to ride our bikes.  Never mind that I haven't ridden my bike in years.  Why haven't I done that again?  This is gonna be fun.

Just like riding a bike.

But first, my husband needed to perform emergency surgery on both of our bikes.  Because while we hadn't used them, our kids have.  And they left his with a flat and mine with wonky brakes that needed to be tweaked.  So after an hour and a half of preparations, we were ready to get on the trail.  Life slows down on a bike.  You notice how green the grass is.  How invigorating the breeze is on your face.  It's liberating.

That was the first two minutes.  When I was riding downhill on a smooth paved road.  And then we hit the dirt trail covered with small stones.  Still going downhill.   I'm so gonna wipe out.    Wait, why didn't I wear a helmet?  I always tell my kids to wear one.  And I've only been on this seat for about 5 minutes and it's killing my crotch.  It's all coming back to me now.  

Just like riding a bike. 

Now, I remember why I don't like riding a bike.  Because the bike rides your crotch.  And I'm a girl, with less equipment down there.  So, guys with junk....how does that work?  Where do you put your balls?   How can it possibly be comfortable?  And you can tell me about those padded seats and bike shorts, but I can't imagine it completely solves the issue.  This is why I don't like bike riding.  

Because it's just like riding a bike.  

And the worst was yet to come.  Because, after the wine tasting, we needed to get back on the bikes and head home.  Which was all uphill.  Because where I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at nearly 7,000 ft elevation, there is no flat stretch.  Not for miles.   So, we hop on our bikes and start pedaling.  

Life slows down on a bike.  Like how is it even possible we aren't even half way there yet?  I feel like my heart is going to explode.  Then, I notice how green the grass is.  And how it's filled with dog crap.  What kind of ingrate doesn't pick up their dog's shit?  How invigorating the breeze is on my face.  While a bug flies up my nose.  But it very well could've been my mouth or eye.  My ass burns, my thighs burn and so does my crotch.  

Nothing makes you feel quite like riding a bike.  
Which is why mine will remain parked in the garage. 




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