Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Minority




I'm the first to admit it; I know nothing about being a minority.  I'm a white, privileged woman living in a white, privileged world.  And I have a lot of white guilt about that.  No matter what I do, I'll never know how it feels to be a minority.  At least I'm a woman, so I know what it's like to be discriminated against, sexually harassed, marginalized and objectified to keep me grounded.  Thank god for that!

If I have one complaint about where I live, it's that my neighborhood isn't ethnically diverse.  It's white.  It's so white, that if you mixed everyone in my community together, cumulatively we wouldn't even constitute off-white.  Even in summer when everyone has a tan, it's still as white as newly fallen snow around these parts.  I don't know exactly why that is, only that it is.

So, last Saturday after I went out to dinner with my husband downtown, we stumbled upon a bar with live music.   And when we went inside, about half of the patrons were African American, as was the band playing that night.  I felt guilty for even noticing.  But, coming from my homogeneous world how could I not notice?

And I started thinking about the one and only time I was in the minority, which was when we lived in Morocco.  One of the reasons we left Colorado Springs for Africa, was to experience what it's like to be immersed in a completely different culture.  Where we'd be the minority.  Which we were for a couple of years.  And people would stop and stare.  Point and whisper.

But, no matter what we did, or where we traveled, we were still white and privileged with the entitlement of having American passports.  Quite simply, even as foreigners, we wielded a huge advantage of power, without even trying.  I came to the realization that there's no way for us to truly experience what it's like to be in the minority.  Or the challenges that come with it.

All any of us can do it encourage, celebrate and protect diversity.   

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Porta Potty Hell


There are two things that are extremely important any time you travel anywhere in the world:  1.  Consuming enough roughage to poop.  2.  Having a place to poop.  Because, the older you are, the more you realize that life is really all about shit.  Repugnant, putrid, vile shit.  Only a small fraction of which is actually excrement.  But whether it's literal or figurative shit, it's all a waste.  Welcome to the shitshow that's adulthood!  Here are some porta potties provided for your convenience.

I could smell the stench, carried upwind on a balmy mountain summer breeze, before I even saw the repugnant toilets at the campsite.  I always seem to forget about this vital component of camping.  And with four nights in a tent, avoiding the camp toilet is completely unavoidable.  Sooner or later you're going to need to use it.  But, sooner if you're a coffee drinker.  And what adult doesn't drink coffee?  A masochistic psychopath, obviously.  The same kind who camp regularly.

When you just can't hold it anymore, that's when you'll have to do the walk of shame to the camp toilet.  Don't forget a flashlight, because other than daylight, there is no other light source in there.  But, since I can never remember to pack a flashlight, I bring my phone.  (Which is how I captured this great photo of one of the camp toilets three years ago.)  Perhaps most importantly, don't forget the wet wipes!  Because chances are, there won't be any toilet paper.  But, there will be flies.  So many flies.  Which, after the noxious fumes is the second reason to hold your breath before going in and squatting over the potty. BUT, DON'T FORGET TO TAKE THE PHONE OUT OF YOUR BACK POCKET FIRST!

The bad news is, no one can hold their breath, squat over the potty, do their business (especially #2), clutching their phone and a package of wet wipes without peeing on themselves or taking a breath.  It's impossible, trust me!  And the only thing worse than using the porta potty in the first place is being passed out in the porta potty.  I don't actually know that from experience, it's just common sense. In addition, don't ever look directly into the crapper.  I think that's pretty basic.  But there are two valid reasons why one might do this unconscionable act.  1.  Is this going to overflow?  2.  Am I done?  (Sometimes it's just a habitual thing if you're doing #2 to look in the bowl to ascertain this.)

While you're doing Lamaze breathing to hold the squat hovering over the seat, clenching your phone, the dim light illuminating the sign that says not to put diapers, feminine products or garbage into the toilet because they're extremely difficult to remove.  Well, duh...that sounds really reasonable.  Until you consider there's no toilet paper.  And then you look at the wet wipes you brought with you.    While I'm normally a decent, respectful, environmentally conscious human being, I'm sure as shit going to throw that potentially toilet clogging, environmentally hazardous wet wipe that I wiped myself with in there.  Because I'm no masochistic pack-in, pack-out psychotic homemade from a flannel cloth and essential oils reusable wet wipe user.  Because at this moment, I don't give a shit about the environment! I'd say I'm going to hell for that, but I'm already there in porta potty hell!  And judging from the rife stank, so is everyone else at this campground.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Voices in my Head


I have lots of voices in my head and most all of them are self-deprecating.  But, this post isn't about those voices, it's about how your own voice sounds in your own head.  And realizing you don't sound anything like what you think you do to other people.  In fact, you don't sound anything like you at all.  And you definitely don't sound anything like Aretha Franklin or Frank Sinatra.  Especially when you crank up the music in your car and sing along.  The lady next to you at the stop light can verify this. You don't.  But, you do sound ridiculous.  Especially when you're singing an Eddie Vedder song and you can't decipher the words so you're mumble singing/making up your own lyrics.  I may have firsthand knowledge of this.  

And it seems that most people's voices sound better to them in their own head, than they do in person.  But, then what do people who do sing well sound like in their own head?  This question has plagued me for a really long time.  If I ever nabbed an interview with Adele, I'd love to ask her how disappointed she is when she hears her own voice on the radio.  Like is she just a little disappointed or is she massively depressed?  If her music is any indication, I'm going to say it's the latter.  And what about those people who can't sing, but go on nationally televised singing competition only to embarrass themselves because no one told them they're awful?  Plus it's not the 18th century anymore; no one has to "break it to you" that you're an awful singer.  All you have to do is record a video of yourself to know instantaneously and definitively if you can or can't sing.  And who in the 21st century hasn't done that?

Then there's the more everydayness of your voice.  Do you have an annoying accent?  Are you a loud talker?  I was recently out in public with a loud talker.  We were in a quiet place, having a conversation.  Ok, it was more of a monologue really, because a conversation implies there are two people conversing.  To counteract this, my replies became more hushed (and I'm already soft spoken to begin with), hoping she'd get the hint.  My social cue fell on the deaf ears of my loud talker.  I was at her mercy (as was everyone else in the vicinity).  All while the voices in my head were screaming, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"  But, a loud talker is better than a close talker though.  And they don't seem to be able to read social cues either.  Like if I step back away from you, it's because you're way too close to me.  "DO NOT STEP CLOSER TO ME!", the voices say.  A good rule of thumb is, if you can see my uvula,  BACK THE HELL UP!  Even worse than both of those, is an adult with a child's voice. Think Jennifer Tilly.  And unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to fix that.

As I've said many times before, I don't have an accent.  I know it's amazing, but it's totally 100% true.  None.  None at all.  What I do have is a gentle alto voice.  Unless I'm yelling at my kids.  In which case, I have a loud shrill voice that carries about half way down the street and I take on whatever accent is most condescending in the context of what I'm yelling about.  I'm not proud of this.  But if you're a parent, you know exactly what I'm talking about because you do it too!  No one makes it out of this parenting gig without sounding like Maleficent losing her wings.  NO ONE, I SAID!

But, when I've got a cold my voice takes on an entirely different tone.  In my head it sounds like I take on a whole husky, sexy Demi Moore kinda vibe.  Which I really kinda like.  I wish I sounded like that all the time.  Except, I know I don't actually sound like that.  Unfortunately, I know I sound like Sylvester Stallone when I'm congested.  Accent, mumble and yes, even the droopy eyes...ALL OF IT!  Which is what I actually sound like right now.  Because apparently, colds don't take a summer vacation.

What do the voices in your head sound like?


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.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...