Monday, February 27, 2017

Unpleasantries


Life is filled with unpleasantries.  Taxes, cancer and living under the tyranny of an autocrat are among them.  But, there are more minuscule, everyday unpleasantries.  At least they seem minuscule until you encounter them in everyday life.  Then they're completely unnerving.

Like a couple weeks ago, when I was at my daughter's basketball tournament, which is already a whole excruciating day of sitting on wooden bleachers making mandatory small talk with other parents.  How could this situation get worse?  I'll tell you.  I sat next to the yeller.  THE YELLER, I SAID!  It's like he was coaching the team from the highest row in the bleachers.  Right in my ear.  So, I did what anyone would do.  Looked away and made sarcastic faces to no one in particular that conveyed, "Can you believe this guy?  Who does he think he is?"  And most importantly, "FEEL SORRY FOR ME!"  Of course, this tactic didn't work to change my situation.

But in a polite society, what the hell are you supposed to do?

This is why I take out my indignation on my children.  Because once you get to a certain age, no one will tell you when you're being annoying and/or disgusting.  Polite society begins to shun you.  Which is why I made sure not to sit next to shouting guy for the next game.  I waited until he sat down and then sat across the gym in the middle of the spectators supporting the opposing team.  A risky move if you consider I could've chosen to sit in the open seat next to their shunned shouting guy.  Which is probably why the seat next to him is available. 

One of the things I'm all over my kids (when I say kids, I really mean my boys) about is using a tissue.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, USE A GODDAM TISSUE!  Do not loudly snort that snot back up.  If you're in the middle of the desert with no other option, you can lightly sniff and then wipe a bit on your sleeve.  No, not your hand, sleeve.  But, look for a leaf first.  Which is probably unrealistic in the desert.  What I'm saying is, loud reverse snot rocking mucus down your throat and/or wiping it on your hand is the absolute last resort.   AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WASH YOUR GODDAM HANDS!  SERIOUSLY, WHEN'S THE LAST TIME YOU WASHED THEM?  

Right now, you're thinking of someone who does this.  And if you're not?  Guess what?  More than likely, you're the offender.  And as I tell my kids, people will act like they don't notice these behaviors because it's not polite to tell people that they're making you want to vomit and/or punch them in the face.  BUT EVERYONE NOTICES!  AND THEY'RE ALL JUDGING YOU AND JUDGING ME, YOUR MOTHER, BECAUSE WHY DIDN'T I RAISE YOU BETTER?  BUT I DID RAISE YOU BETTER!  I DID!  

I say this because I went to a party recently where a perfectly lovely woman loudly snorted up her boogers exactly three times.  And no, she was not in the desert sans tissues.  She could've excused herself to go to the bathroom and blown her nose.  On three separate occasions.  But, she didn't.  I'm sure she didn't even realize she was doing it because it's such a habit.  Which is exactly why I'm trying to break my boys of these disgusting patterns and trying to coax them into using Kleenex.  This is actually where it gets more complicated.  Because using a disposable tissue, is only one step of a whole larger process.  

Years ago, one of my brothers had a girlfriend.  Let's say her name was Ellen.  Because her name was actually Ellen and I don't think she's reads my blog and even if she did, it would really act as passive-aggressive public service announcement.  Because, if you haven't broken these vile acts of indecency by the time you're 18, it's doubtful you will, specifically because who's going to tell you?  Someone who's vile act is to call other people out on their vile acts, that's who.  And I think we all know, everyone shuns that person.  (Like the lady who yelled at me in my early 20's for using the nonsensical term 'irregardless'.  Which, I must confess, I've never used since.  So, while this approach is highly effective for the offender, it won't make you any friends.)  Anyway, let's get back to Ellen.  Ellen always had a runny nose.  Maybe she had allergies.  Maybe she was just a germ whore who didn't wash her hands.  I can't say for certain.  But, what I can say for certain, is she used a lot of Kleenex to blow her nose.  And then dropped the used tissues on the floor.  At  my parents' house.  WTF?  WTF, ELLEN!  Thank god my brother didn't marry her.  But, if he did we could've decorated the outside of their car for the wedding with her used tissues instead of tissues made to look like roses.  And why stop there?  We could've done the interior too!

I could go on and on about the unpleasantries of other people.  But, the thing is, none of us is immune.  We've all got something.  Like,  I'm pretty sure I'm the person you're talking to who has the assaulting garlic breath because I eat a lot of that stuff.  And we all know, it takes 3 solid days to get rid of garlic breath.  You can brush, floss, mouthwash and gum all you like.  It will still take 3 days.  It's the same with Dorito breath.  I'm also the person who doesn't know how to start or end a conversation with you if I don't know you.  And let's face it, the middle isn't so great either.  I will further mortify myself by admitting that I have committed the heinous act of accidentally releasing a silent fart mid-conversation only to be overwhelmed by a crescendo of stank while pretending it didn't originate with me.  Luckily, denial is an option with that unpleasantry.  Unless you're a frequent farter.  In which case, eventually people will discover it's you and you'll be socially shunned.

Life is gross.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nauseous


I get really motion sick.  I always have.  Except when I was little, I'd go on roller coasters knowing they'd make me sick.  I'd just get off the ride,  throw up and then get back on and ride it again.  Because when you're little, you're uninhibited and resilient like that.   But, the older I've gotten, the more I fear feeling nauseous because it lasts all day and I can't shake it.  Just thinking about being nauseous makes me feel like running to the toilet to get sick.

So, why would I even want to pole dance on a spinning pole?  Guaranteed to make me feel nauseous. First and foremost, because pole dance looks so much more beautiful and dramatic when it spins.  It allows the audience to see poses from more angles.   And, you can pause, holding a pose while catching your breath and it doesn't look like you forgot your routine.  It looks like part of it, which covers up mistakes better.  Plus, for competitive pole dance there is a minimum of 30 seconds you must use a spinning pole in your routine.  This is why I force myself to turn the screws in my static pole, converting it to spin mode from time to time.  Even though I know I'm going to feel nauseated when I'm done.  The only way to get over my motion sickness is to experience it.

The truth is, it's not that much different from how I feel most of the time these days.  Since the election.  I wake up, read the news and it starts.  What did our abhorrent, temperamental, impulsive President say or do now?  To whom?  Then, I start to feel dizzy and sick to my stomach.  How did we get here?  I still don't understand it, no matter how many times the question whirls around in my head.  And the fact is, knowing won't change anything right now.  The world continues to spin.  I've just got to acclimate myself.  The thing is, with pole dance I can control the speed.  But, I can't control the vortex of this whirlpool of fear and hatred that Trump is propagating.

No matter if the cause of my motion sickness is pole dance or the world spinning out of control, the solution is the same.  Find a focal point to look at.   It could be close or 4 years away.  Open a window and let the breeze in to revive you.  But, don't open a door and let the storm outside annihilate you.  Curling up into a ball will only make you spin faster, making the situation worse.  Instead, stretch your hand out, making yourself bigger and more substantial; thus, slowing down the momentum.   And maybe helping someone else who's suffering from nausea in the process.

After all, we're all in this together.



Monday, February 20, 2017

Massage Envy


I don't like massages.  I know that's weird.  And it's not that I'm modest about being naked in front of a stranger, cause I'm not.  Which I  know is also weird.  But, it's just about everything else about the process that makes me uncomfortable.  Because, it's actually my anxiety that keeps me from relaxing and enjoying a massage.

First of all, you have to make a phone call to make an appointment.  Ugh.  I  hate talking on the phone so much.  But, not nearly as much as I hate Skype or Facetime.  Which is why I don't do either.    The only reason I'd actually go through the hassle to make an appointment is if I got a gift card for a massage.  Which is why I got my first two massages in the first place.  I've only ever had three.

After you make the appointment, then you actually have to go to the massage place.  Which means beforehand I'm going to put on my cute underwear.  Which means I have to find it.  I do the same thing when I go to the doctor for a pap smear.  Because when they put you in a room and give you time to undress, I'm always worried I won't have enough time and they'll come in when I'm mid-change and I'll be in ugly undies.  Which is somehow horrifying to me.  Even though on a daily basis I wear mismatched, ugly undies.  But, no one would know that because they don't see them.  Unless you write a blog post about it, of course.

Before you know it I'm in the massage room, completely naked, folding my clothes because I don't want the masseuse to think I'm a slob.  Even though I'm a complete and total slob and I wouldn't fold them at home.  But, I don't want this person who's going to touch me naked that I'll never see ever again to know that.  This is when I hop up on the table, strategically placing the sheet over me and try to relax.  But, I can't.  Cause my mind doesn't stop racing.  And it's usually because I'm calculating the tip.  Then recalculating it over again because I'm horrible at math.  Oh my god,  what if the price went up?  Or what if they give me the wrong kind of massage and it's a different price?  Must recalculate all the possibilities.   And where do I put the tip?  Is there a jar?  Or do I hand it to the person?

The massage hasn't even started yet and I'm already distressed.  After what seems like an eternity with my own swirling thoughts, Hannah comes in to give me my massage.  Not to be judgy, but I'm kinda disappointed that she's smaller than me.  She doesn't look capable.  Does she really have the hand strength to do this for an hour?  God, I'm such an awful person for even thinking that.  Size doesn't mean anything.  You know what you are?  You're a misogynist, Marie.   

Ok, relax and just act normal already! 

She starts at my head.  Oh, this is nice.  What if I fall asleep during this with my head through the little donut hole, face to the floor and she has to wake me up and there's this big line of drool?  Wait a minute, do I have a zit on my head?  I did wash behind my ears right?  Her hands move down to my neck.  How doesn't this rainforest's music make her have to pee?  Wait...I think I have to pee.  No, you just peed before you came in the room.  You do not have to pee.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PEE, I SAID!

She's worked herself down to my shoulders, arms and hands.  Hand and foot rubs are my favorites.  So, I actually enjoy this part.  Except Hannah forgets to do one of my hands.  Should I say something?  I want to.  But, maybe she'll come back to it later.  She probably got distracted by all the moles on my back.  Dammit, I really need to schedule an appointment with the dermatologist.  And what about all the bruises all over my body from pole dance?  She probably thinks I'm a battered woman.  

How is she timing when to move on to the next body part anyway?  Is there some kind of timer in the room somewhere?  Or is she singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in her head?  

She moves down to my legs. I hope it's not one of those days that I shaved one leg and then forgot to shave the other one.  Oh no, she's headed down to my feet!  Since, I'm the only girl in Northern America who doesn't mani-pedi, my feet are hideous.  Complete with cuts, callouses, over grown cuticles and a little sock lint under my nail.  But, god, that feels so good.  Wait a minute!  She only did my left foot.  Just like she only did my right hand.  WTF?  I should say something.  But, what would I say exactly? Says nothing.  Maybe it's just some new kind of asymmetric massage.  I wonder if I pay more for that.  Recalculates the tip again.

When she's finally done, she asks me if I want to use the shower.  Are you kidding me?  Oh god, NO!  I can't even imagine the anxiety I'd have about taking a shower at the spa.  I just want to get out of here.  Recalculates the tip again.  Before throwing on my clothes (it's surprisingly difficult to get jeans on when you're covered in massage oil), leaving a 20% tip on the massage table.  But, what if another massage therapist uses this room next and Hannah doesn't get the tip I left?  What then?  Whatever, I'll never see her again.

The truth is, I have massage envy. 
I'm jealous of anyone who doesn't have massage induced anxiety.

ADDENDUM:  The second time I called the same place to schedule a massage to use the rest of my gift card, I requested not to have Hannah.  Just to see if I liked it better with someone different.  And to my shock, who walked in but Hannah.  Turns out, when I scheduled the first massage they told me I'd have Hannah, but she was unable to do the massage and skinny-whats-her-face filled in for her the first time.  No, I'm totally not joking.  And my third massage?  It was in Morocco where a Thai lady massaged my boobs.  You know what they say, the third time's the charm.  Cause, that's when I decided massages aren't worth the stress they put me through.  













Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Lottery


Life is like the lottery.  Sometimes you win.  Sometimes it's cruel and twisted like the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.  And sometimes it's really hard to tell the difference.   Most times actually.

It was last Sunday morning when I woke up at the butt crack of dawn, headed downstairs to get myself a cup of coffee and some quiet time, taking a quick detour through the bathroom.  Except, it wasn't quick.  Because my wood floor was a wading pool of toilet water.  "Oh, Shit!"  I started water mitigation completely and utterly uncaffeinated with a full bladder.  By the time my husband came downstairs, the work was already done and cleaned up.  How lucky was he to miss all of it?

I, on the other hand, was lucky enough to escape my family for a couple of hours to go to a class and return mid-day.  During which time, things had gotten worse.  My husband had discovered the water leaked through the floor and it was raining toilet water in the basement.  "Oh. F%&k!"  When the water subsided, he ran out to the hardware store to get the parts for the garage door that also broke that morning.  That's when the water spread to a new part of the ceiling.  And my husband wasn't answering his phone.  This is totally the Shirley Jackson version of the lottery of home ownership.

When my husband got home and starting tearing the drywall off the ceiling, I called the insurance company with extremely low expectations.  After all, about five years ago we discovered the foundation of the house was sinking on one side from an external water mitigation issue and we didn't get jack shit for that.  But, that's not what happened.

They sent someone out right away to assess the damage.  Turns out, the valve on our original, ugly, tan-colored toilet from 1987 was faulty.  And apparently, toilet water is not only a contaminant, but also a breeding ground for mold.  Because it was such a health issue, the damage is covered by our insurance.  COVERED, I SAID!  But wait, what does that coverage cover exactly?

 A new wood floor, vanity and baseboards in the bathroom.  A new carpet downstairs.  Oh, and resanding and varnishing the floors on the main level to match the new wood floor with new baseboards.  Then a paid hotel and boarding for the dogs while the varnish dries, which takes a few days.  The only thing they don't cover is a new toilet.

I have 4 kids and 2 dogs.  Do you have any idea what my floors looked like?  I bet you can imagine.  And then imagine them to look even worse than whatever you initially imagined and that's what they actually looked like.    

It finally happened!
I actually won the lottery! 
Which only means any time now my house will be swallowed up by a big sinkhole.








Monday, February 13, 2017

Directionally Challenged


I freely admit it, I'm severely directionally challenged.  But, I've always managed to find my way somehow.  Even when we lived in Morocco without a map, with street signs I couldn't read, chaotic traffic and adding to the confusion, all the buildings were painted white, making landmark recognition even more difficult.  When we moved back to Colorado almost five years ago, I finally got a car with a GPS.

Even though admittedly Colorado Springs is the easiest place to get around that I've ever lived.  The Rocky Mountains are to the west.  Everything looks flat like Kansas to the east.  Anything trendy lies to the north.  And if the temperature is going up, you're headed south.  Seriously, it's this easy.  And yet, I still plug things into the GPS, especially if I'm going somewhere I haven't been before.  

Between GPS and autocorrect, 
I'm not sure I'm capable of critical thinking anymore.

It's really happened!  I'm an automaton that will do anything a computer tells me to.  The thing is, I'm not even sure it helps that much.

Like on Friday, when I was headed to my daughter's basketball game just 20 minutes east of town out in Kansas. Ok, it really wasn't Kansas because if it was it would've been chock-full of wheat fields and state troopers.  And I definitely would've gotten pulled over for speeding because it was getting dangerously close to tip off and I still wasn't anywhere near the high school gymnasium.  Plus, I'm not even gonna lie, I speed all the time.  ALL THE TIME.

So, I'm speeding when the GPS finally indicates I'm close to my destination.  Phewwwww.  And then it directs me into a neighborhood.  Filled with school buses dropping kids off from school.   Which I guess is a good sign because it means there's a school nearby somewhere.  But, it's bad timing because I have to stop for like three buses with their lights on and stop signs dropping middle schoolers off.  I'm all for stopping for elementary aged kids, but really middle schoolers?  If they can't look both ways before they cross the street by 13, I'm going to chalk it up to natural selection.  I'm in a hurry here people!

After I waste at least 5 minutes waiting for the stopped buses while the driver reprimands a kid for shooting spit balls or something because no one was even crossing the street, I drive a little further into the neighborhood.  Then the GPS announces, "You have arrived at your destination!"  No I haven't.  Because when I look around all I see are cookie cutter houses that are way too close together.  It's 3:30 and the game is starting and I have no idea where I am because everything looks the same.  Personally, I blame the HOA for that.

I'm going to have to do this old school style.  So, I found a middle school kid walking home alone from school.  And I pulled up slowly next to him.  Rolled down the window and wave him over.  Oh man,  I'm a 40 something year old woman and this feels extremely creepy and pedophileish, like the beginning of a bad after school special.  "Can you tell me how to get to the high school?"  I asked.  He looked relieved and gave me directions.  Three times.  Because I wanted to make sure I got it correct.  And I did.  The school was 1.5 to 2 miles from where the GPS said it was.  

Who's directionally challenged now, stupid GPS?







Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Case of the Stolen Chocolate


I was starving when I went into Whole Foods to pick up some lunch.  Which is obviously why I ended up in the checkout line with lunch and four gourmet chocolate bars.  In my defense,  I could've gotten a cheeseburger.  But, no, I  selected a healthy salmon teriyaki bowl with bok choy and brown rice.  And then, on my way out, that's when I saw the chocolate.  (That's a lie,  I made a special trip to the deep recesses of the store, specifically to scope out the chocolate aisle.)  It just so happens, the chocolate was on sale.  (Which is true, but they were still ridiculously expensive, as most things at Whole Foods are.)  It was for a special occasion after all.  (If your average Friday night of staying in with absolutely no plans is considered a special occasion.)  Anyway, my score was so visually stunning, I took a picture when I got home.

It was Saturday morning when I was cleaning out the cupboard that I realized one of the bars from my super secret stash was gone.  (My super secret stash is no secret.  All of my kids know exactly where it is.  The way I knew where my parents' super secret chocolate stash was, in the high cupboard above the fridge.)  It must be here.  Wait.  Maybe I bought three?  Nope.  I took a photo of four.  And after a thorough investigation of the shelf, I determined it was indeed gone.  Clearly, one of the kids had stolen it.

Right away, I eliminated two suspects, the two kids who aren't very interested in sweets.  Only two remained.  When one of them casually walked into the kitchen, I casually interrogated her.  Based on her non-defensive denial and corresponding oblivious, carefree body language, I knew she wasn't guilty.  Which only left one kid.  The kid who has a long history of being guilty of similar criminal acts of sweets.   The kid who is known to vehemently deny these transgressions when confronted.  Before giving a full teary-eyed confession hours later.   I already had the culprit and I was ready to convict.

So, I searched all the trashcans in the house for evidentiary wrappers.  Then I looked through said child's room.  Then I rummaged the kid's backpack.  (Oh, yes I did.)  Nothing.   I had to give this kid credit, he/she had gotten much better at hiding evidence because I couldn't find anything.  Though that didn't prove anything.  The Black Salt Caramel Bar was still MIA, unless it had already been KIA.  Which was the real question: was there any left to save?  Not whodunit, because that was blatantly obvious.

The guilty kid was "innocently" eating a snack when I began my assault.

"Ok, where's the caramel bar?"  I got right to the point.  Said child's eyes darted directly to the cupboard they were stolen from.
"What caramel bar?"   The kid asked unconvincingly.
"We both know what caramel bar I'm talking about."  There was a pause.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Listen, all I'm saying is please ask before you take any chocolate.  That's all."  (Unsaid:  Don't even think of eating my $6 chocolate bar when we both know a cheapo $1 box of candy from Walgreens would do.) Also, check me out, I'm so calm and understanding after conducting an illegal search of the kid's back pack.
"I didn't take any chocolate!" The kid said emphatically.
I tilt my head to a condescending angle.  "If there's any left make sure it's up away from the dogs so they don't get sick."  I like my condescending head tilts served up with a side of guilt to really get my condemnation across.

The kid was angry with me.  But, you know, in that way where they think they're angry at the person who caught them, but they're really angry at themselves for having committed the crime in the first place.  I was sure of it.  All of it.  Until...

I went back in the same cupboard several hours later and found the stolen chocolate bar, lying on its side.    Where it had slid off the top of the pile of chocolate and wedged itself between the pullout drawer and the shelf.  And I was angry, you know in that way where you think you're angry at the person who committed a crime that never even happened, but you're really just angry at yourself for being a huge, blind, jumping-to-conclusions idiot.  

Guilty!

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Way With Words

The problem with being a writer is people expect you to have a way with words.  The thing is, I really don't.  On many occasions, I'm completely at a loss for words.  Because I want to choose precisely the right words that fit the situation.  Mostly because I find words are paramount, integral and influential, and I don't want to mince or waste them.  And I can't come up with insight on something without lots of time alone reflecting and carefully, hand selecting words.  I much prefer to reserve commentary until I have something substantive to say.

The point is, I really try to express myself thoughtfully. 
With intention. 

But, there's currently a war of words raging.  Between those who believe in thoughtful, artisanal expression and those who believe being authentic is saying the first thing that comes to mind.  And I see the latter more and more in our culture now that we've elected a president who specializes in this  reactionary and often contradictory commentary.   

How did we get here?

I really wish I had the answer to this question.  I wake up every morning wondering. And feeling sick to my stomach.  How did we get to a point where someone who blatantly and consistently exaggerates, distorts and disrespects both people and facts with his words, simply by repeating them loudly over and over could become the voice of our nation?  How did we let this happen?

But, the bigger question is where do we go from here?

In a culture fluent in emoji, but short on words.  Where more people watch the movie version rather than read the book.  Where we confuse reality TV shows for reality when they're really just images spliced together, often scripted, for entertainment.      

We use our words.  

In peaceful protest.  With intention.  In our community.  On the phone.  In print.  On social media.  And most importantly, by being kind and thoughtful to strangers no matter which side of the war on words they're on.  For the love of humanity, let's make having a way with words relevant again.  






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