Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Once a Year

It happens once a year.  Thanksgiving.  Holiday parties.  I wear a dress and heels and try to balance a heaping plate full of food at the buffet line while maintaining a smile and polite small talk at my husband's Christmas party without twisting my ankle, falling or spilling food.  This is my Olympics, people!  And it's another reason why I hate the holiday's extremely social.  While I am extremely antisocial with a side of social anxiety.

During the bustling holiday festivities, you'll run into almost everyone you know.  Including the people you hardly know because you only see them once a year.  You'll see their vaguely face and think, who the hell are you?  But since you can't say that, that's when I'll introduce myself.  For the 5th year in a row.  Oops.  Well, that was really embarrassing.  Especially when someone knows things about you and your life and you don't know anything about theirs.  Which would be okay if I was good at making conversation from scratch.  However, I assure you, I am not!  But, I can make things awkward from scratch though.

Then there are the people that you do recognize and think, wow, they've really aged!   How did that happen in only a year?  Then they pull out their phone to show me pictures of their grandchildren.  And I step back.  "Is that a boy or a girl?  Can you expand that photo?  No?  Hold on...let me get my reading glasses from my purse."  And that's when I see them.  While I have my arm stretched out holding someone else's phone, with my reading glasses on...the age spots on my hands.  Maybe I think I'm not aging because I can't actually see myself all that well.  I've bathed myself in that flattering soft focus lens that they use on Elizabeth Taylor in that White Diamonds commercial.

Right after this is when the mismatched couple approaches.  Oh, you know the one I'm talking about. That couple that you can't figure out how they ever got together in the first place because one is exceedingly more attractive, intelligent and witty than the other one.  In fact, they don't seem compatible in any way.  But, yet,they've been together for years.  And you just want to inquire about the elephant in the room...which is the invisible bond that holds them together.  What is it?  While simultaneously staging an intervention.  Have you considered a trial separation?  Which is probably what people think about my husband (the life of the party) and me (the party pooper).  Why is he with her? He's so laid back and she's so pretentious!

Then there's the person you know stuff about. That you don't even want to know. But, someone you barely know told you a secret about them years ago and now every year when you see this person at that annual party, it's all you can think about. And the whole night I'm thinking, whatever you do, do NOT blurt out their secret! Or talk about any topic in any way related to it.  Which of course, then is all I can think about. (This party is coming up for me in a couple weeks and since I'm writing this, I've already started thinking about what not to say. But, I still have no idea what TO say to this person because I don't really know them, although I do know some very personal things about them.)

Thank god the holidays only happen once a year!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

That Time of Year

It's that time of year.  The air is crisp and my lips are chapped.  My asthmatic cough brought on by the cold dry air is back and I won't use an inhaler because I DON'T HAVE ASTHMA!  (If I keep saying that it will be true.) And I left my chapstick in my jeans pocket and ran it through the wash again.  Why do I always do that?  On top of that, it's birthday season has begun.  (75% of my family and friends have November and December birthdays.)   Thanksgiving is just around the corner and now the stores are starting to play Christmas music.  I hate Christmas music!  In fact, I hate the whole holiday season because it's so stressful.  But, this post isn't about that.  It's about my vagina.

You see, it's time for my annual pap smear.  That I haven't had in 3 years.  Because I never got a reminder card in the mail urging me to make my annual appointment.  Or maybe I did and I lost it.   And then when I realized I did, it took me a couple of years to pick up the phone.  What is it about making a phone call that is so exquisitely painful?  Making an appointment and preparing for the appointment make me more anxious than having a stranger touch my vagina and stick a cold metal device up it.  Wait, I forgot to factor in my anxiety of peeing or farting on the stranger fingering my lady bits.  Nope, making the phone call and worrying about the appointment are still worse.  Plus, I get to lay down a table in the middle of the day, amidst the stress of birthday/holiday season.  I mean, how restful is that?

I am never more immaculately groomed than when I go to the gynecologist.  My legs are shaved perfectly smooth.  With special attention given to my knees and big toes, which I usually half ass.  But, when your legs are in stirrups and the doctor is sitting on a stool in directly in front of you, knees and toes tend to be quiet prominent.  And it's not that I take off my socks.  I don't, because it's always freezing in there.  But, I didn't take my socks off when I got a mole check at the dermatologist either.  Turns out, I was supposed to.  Then, she proceeded to take my socks off for me and spread my toes to look between each one.  Which totally freaked me out.  Because who knows what's in there?  I don't look.  Maybe I've got an embarrassing fungus.  Or sock lint.  I'll tell you what I don't have there, I don't have a cancerous mole.  So, now in addition to wearing nice, cute, coordinating underwear (just in case someone walks in when I'm still disrobing), I'll have to check between my toes before I put on a pair of unholy socks. I have any of those?  Oh man, I might need to buy new socks for the gynecologist.

Nothing quite prepares you for stepping on the scale at your appointment and coming to terms with  the reality that your jeans did not in fact shrink an entire size (or two) in the wash, you've just* gained weight.  And now, you've got to peel those tight jeans off to put on a paper gown and lay on a cold and crunchy paper lined table with your legs spread in stirrups, lady bits bathed in florescent lighting for the doctor.  I don't know what my vagina looks like, but I'm going to venture to guess that this isn't the best lighting or angle at which to appreciate it.  I also wonder if I have some of those outlying, long, straggly pubic hairs on my inner thigh.  Until the doctor mentions the bruises I have there.  I'd forgotten I have bruises all over my body that make me look like a battered woman.  I had to explain them to my dermatologist when she inquired too.  No, husband isn't abusing me.  I'm just abusing myself.  With a metal pole.  Because I'm a pole dancer.  

 It's always the season for awkward conversations.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Man I Love

I thought he was good man at first.  But, I learned quickly it was all a facade.  Not only is he controlling, a self-absorbed narcissist and homophobe, I also suspect he's a criminal.  And a despicable human being.

And yet, 
I love him despite these things.  

Not because I don't see the worst in him.  Because I do.  I absolutely do.  But, because he's given me the best things in my life.  My four children.  Even though he was reluctant to do it.  Even though he had his own selfish reasons for doing so that had nothing to do with me.  He still did.  

And for that, 
I'll always love him. 
How couldn't I? 
Who could blame me, really?

Putin on the ritz.  
The only thing harder than raising kids is trying to adopt kids through a corrupt system ruled by an autocrat.  I know because I did it four times.  The first time, back in 2000 was the worst.  There was a Russian government official who "lost" our paperwork multiple times.  If you have never been subjected to criminal background checks, letters of recommendation, financial verification, home studies, and the time consuming and costly apostilles required for each document (at $25 a page depending on your state), the process is grueling.  After all that, there's a hefty adoption fee (which is supposed to go straight to the orphanage to feed the children, which I'm extremely skeptical it does).  Then there's the gifts.  To all the Russian officials who have ever touched your paperwork.  Even the ones who touched and then lost it to try to prevent you from adopting Russian kids. (Don't forget a bottle of Jack Daniels for the judge!) Russian kids who likely won't be adopted by Russian parents because adoption has a stigma in Russia.  Which only perpetuates the plight of the country's orphans.

In 2012, Putin banned adoptions of Russian children by Americans.  Not for the benefit of the over 120,000 children who reside in orphanages who are eligible for adoption.  But, for political leverage. Specifically, retaliation for the Magnitsky Act that bars Russians accused of human rights violations from traveling to or owning assets in the United States.  This was the turning point in the deterioration of relations between our countries.  And why Putin was supporting Trump, in hopes that he would  repeal the Magnitsky Act.  Because he knew if Clinton got elected, she wouldn't.  What kind of a sick bastard denies children (ones who are already destitute mind you) for political gain?  But, it's an even sicker bastard who'd repeal a human rights act to placate a power hungry tyrant.

That's why Putin remains the man I love... hate.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Curse

It generally happens at least once a month.  I get uncontrollable mood swings.  Ranging from annoyed to angry.   Irritated to irate.  I don't want to be like this.  But when it happens, I don't have any command over my emotions.  Biology makes me this way.  We as women are cursed.  And not just with our period.  Because that's not what I'm talking about.  I have this super power.  All women do actually.  Like Wonder Woman, except completely different.

You know when someone in your family does that thing?  That thing that is so fantastically annoying.  That thing you've told them a million times to stop doing.  But, they don't.  That's the trigger for my impeccable memory of every single time that particular person has done that particular thing.  Complete with a date and time stamp.  It's like I have hyperthymesia, but just for things that really piss me off.  Then my anger compounds with interest.  And that's when I become enraged and explode recounting every similar situation with some choice curse words thrown in.

I hate when I get like this.  But not as much as my family does.  But, come on, how hard is it to flush a goddam toilet?  That shit's gross!  And really?  Am I the only person capable of putting extra toilet paper in the bathrooms?  Look who saved your ass...again!  Wait, maybe I really am Wonder Woman!   Because there are several things in my house that only I'm capable of.  Like putting the cap back on the toothpaste, using the washing machine and keeping a mental inventory of what is in the house at any given moment and exactly where it is.  Because there's sure to be a pop quiz.  You know what's weird, is how preventable all of this is.  Oh, not on my part, but on my family's end.

Even though it's totally and completely not my fault for releasing this cataclysmic event, if I knew how to stop being this way, I would.  Except I'm pretty sure it involves getting a sex change.  Because every woman I know has this curse and does the same thing I do.  And every man I know is completely oblivious as to what he can do to prevent the woman in his life from erupting like this.  And while there is no known cure, cleaning the shaving stubble from the bathroom sink sure wouldn't hurt.  I may have mentioned this about a hundred times.  The last time I mentioned it was last month on a Tuesday when I made meatloaf and everyone left me to do the dishes.  Again.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Growing Up Bi

Growing up I always knew I was different from other kids.  I spent years hiding who I really was and just tried to blend in.  Maybe no one would notice.  And for the most part, no one did.  I was in my twenties when  I couldn't conceal who I was anymore.  Nor did I want to.  I wanted to live my life out loud, just like everyone else.  But, there was a problem.  I was a quiet, understated Canadian girl living in a vociferous, excessive American world.  It's only now in my late forties that I can say that I'm proud to be bi-national.  (And maybe Justin Trudeau has something to do with that.)

It was the mid-sixties when my parents moved across the border from Canada to the U.S. on the outskirts of the bi-national city of Niagara Falls (both Canada and the States have cities named Niagara Falls) with four kids in tow.  It was in New York state that my youngest brother and I were born and registered as Canadians born abroad.   My shy, understated parents learned quickly not to draw attention to themselves.  They stopped saying "eh", pronouncing schedule as "shed-u-le" and referring to the letter Z as "zed".  I imagine part of the reason was to prevent our new American neighbors from taking advantage of my nice, defenseless Canadian parents by asking them for favors.  They had six kids, it's not like they had nothing to do.  But, obviously they found time to do things.  Which I prefer not to think about.  Did I mention I was raised Catholic? 

Though they tried to blend in with the crowd when we were out in public, things were very different at home.  My dad listened to the Canadian news on the radio.  All day.  Every day.  I was raised on Pierre Trudeau and the comedy sketch radio show Royal Canadian Air Farce.  (My dad was in the Royal Canadian Air Force when he married my mom.)  We crossed over the border into Canada frequently to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  (You didn't even need a passport to travel from one country to the other back then.)  Canadian Thanksgiving was the best because we'd go to my dad's parents house for a Thanksgiving lunch and my mom's parents house for a Thanksgiving dinner.   Then when American Thanksgiving came around the next month, we'd host a feast at our house.  And this is back  when I could three Thanksgiving dinners with three slices of pie loaded with whipped cream at each one of them without any guilt or gaining an ounce.  Those were the days!

But, there was a dark side.  My mom could never help me memorize the capitals of states because even as an adult, even after she'd lived in the states for decades and had become a citizen, she didn't know them herself.  She was always ashamed of that.  But, she wasn't ashamed of lying when we crossed the border into Canada.  She'd give us a debriefing before we approached Customs.  "When they ask what we have to declare, we don't mention the gifts for grandma's birthday.  We say NOTHING!"  I felt guilty for years.  But, not as guilty as when I crossed the border when I was in college when the drinking age was 21 in America and only 19 in Canada.  Not only that, the drinks were cheaper because they were in Canadian dollars.  And if a nice Canadian guy bought you a drink then it was totally free.      

When I was leaving home at 18 to take my first international trip alone to Holland, my dad (being protective of his youngest daughter) told me to tell anyone who asked my nationality that I was Canadian.  Which of course is a half-truth.  (He did not however, warn me not to fall for an American guy while I was traveling there.)  When I was 30 my dad finally trusted me enough to give me my official Canadian Born Abroad card that he'd held onto since I was born.  With the words..."you might need this some day".  And I laughed.  But, now in 2017, it's not funny anymore.  And today, I have that card in a very safe, but very accessible place.  Just in case I need it one day.  

Though my dad has lived here over 50 years, he's still very much Canadian.  He still over pronounces words like sorry giving it the long o that it's spelled with.  While I've been Americanized to pronounce words with an o as a short a.  Because it's the lazy American way I'm accustomed to hearing it pronounced.  Even with our differences, he's instilled in me some basic Canadian values.  First and foremost:  Don't be an asshole!  Being nice matters!  Sure, it might not make you successful, but it makes you substantive.  And that's actually more important.  

My mom passed away almost twenty years ago now and she's buried in Canada in the town her and my dad grew up in.  And when my dad's time comes (which is hopefully a long time from now), he has a plot next to her.  It was a choice that befits my parents.  When her funeral procession drove over the border into Canada, the traffic stopped to pull over for the hearse out of respect as is customary in Canada.  It's a civility that was not lost on my dad.  And while I understand why my dad chose Canada as their final resting place, when my time comes I want to be cremated.  Then have my ashes put in a barrel to float down the river, then over Niagara Falls, so I can float between Canada and America before drifting out into international waters.     

Dedicated to my dad.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Costco Conspiracy

Little known fact:  It's mandatory for Americans to buy a membership to a wholesale club or they lose their citizenship.  It's part of a covert government run economic stimulus plan.  Sam's Club is operated by the Republicans and Costco by the Democrats.  Ok, obviously this isn't true.  Or so the government would like you to believe.  Because they want to placate the public: distracting us from the fact that big business runs the government.  And they do it with large boxes of frozen burritos.  And we buy it every time.  Those massively delicious burritos.  Every damn time.  Because every American knows the best American food is actually Mexican.

I go to Costco right when the store opens, specifically to avoid the food samples.  For one very specific reason.  When the supply of free food increases, the intellect of humans decreases.  (It's basic economics.)  Costco shoppers will block an entire aisle that's the width of a California freeway with their cart that's the size of a cruise liner just to get a free sample of some tuna on a cracker.  Gosh, what does tuna taste like on a cracker?  IT TASTES EXACTLY LIKE TUNA ON A CRACKER, YOU MORON!

I try to make good, healthy choices when I'm shopping for food.  So, I make sure I eat before I shop, so I'm not tempted to buy some stupid junk.  But, somehow, even with a full stomach and the best intentions, I always do.  Like I'll buy the cereal my kids love.  Except, as of last week or 5 minutes ago or whatever, they don't love anymore.  In fact, they hate it.  It's the worst cereal they've ever tasted, which is why the ginormous box of it sits obtrusively in my pantry untouched.  Except to get around it to get to the tortilla chips.  Not only do I buy things no one likes, I'll also buy things that intrigue me on a whim.  Like drinking vinegar.   Because how intriguing is drinking vinegar?  It could be good.  Or it could be horrendous.  But which is it?  Then I rationalize that if it isn't palatable, vinegar is good for cleaning, right?  Maybe I just bought myself a big box of some environmentally friendly cleaning solution.  Which when I think about it is completely irrational, because I don't even clean my house.
Yes, I really did buy this.
And, yes, I'm still trying to convince myself I like it.
Among the things that I don't understand about Costco, is how they can have a whole aisle of nuts.  I mean, as Americans aren't we all insanely allergic to nuts?  Is this some domestic plot to kill us?  Or maybe the Russians have interfered with our food supply.  Putin just may be crazy enough to try to murder us with pistachios.  But, you didn't hear that conspiracy theory from me if anyone named Boris asks about it.  Also, why I do I continue to push my cart down the nut aisle and ponder this same thing on repeat every week when I'm shopping at Costco?  Do I have OCD?  Or another mental disorder?   WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Oh, I'm clearly nuts...
 but not crazy enough to buy pistachios no one will eat but me.
I've followed my preordained flight pattern through the store (all while judging how inefficiently and incorrectly other shoppers navigate the store) and now I'm in the check out line.  Hoping against hope that I'll get out for under $250, but knowing that's not likely.  Because that's not even possible.  Just like it's not possible to get through the whole store and NOT buy a hot dog at the cafe at the end.  (Which is what makes it an excellent super secret government economic stimulus plan.  And the hot dog is an Illuminati symbol.  I'm sure of it.)

(Also, did you notice everything on the menu at Costco contains gluten?
Do you honestly think that's a coincidence?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mother Trucker

I was driving my minivan down the highway through stop and go traffic in the pouring rain when it started to act up.  It being the only car we own that's both reliable and practical for my family of six.  My husband has a 1966 International Harvester that does currently run (this week at least) without a working gas gauge or windshield wipers (but I think we all know those are optional).  We have two old Volkswagens decorating driveway that are undriveable.  And my oldest is between cars, having sold his a few days before to buy his first car (a 1972 Scout) back from the guy he sold it to.  (I had just dropped my oldest off at college for a class when the car trouble started.)  Fortunately, I managed to make it home safely.  Unfortunately, the auto shop couldn't even look at it until Monday.  It was clear we'd have to rent a car until the minivan was fixed. 


My husband reserved a sedan over the phone, but when we arrived at the car rental office (in the Harvester, in the rain, without windshield wipers) to pick it up, there weren't any available.  All they had was a Ford Focus, which barely has room for a family of 4, let alone 4 teenagers.  The only other option was a big ass truck.  Which we originally declined, until the clerk said she'd give it to us for the same price as the sedan we'd originally reserved.  And bonus, it was available immediately and seated six.  My kids are going to be so excited.  And then dejected when they find out that the rental contract forbids them to drive it.   

You may not know that the only thing that unifies my kids is their new found love of country music.  (Which, by the way, I hate.)  But, now they have something else to bring them together: their shared love of this big ass truck.  And blaring country music from it's superior sound system.  I've never felt more like a stereotype.  While I'm talking about stereotypes, driving a really big ass truck around town makes me feel like I have a small penis.   Except, this shifter isn't particularly emasculating.  It's actually just a wee little knob.  Which is a huge let down: to have so much power under the hood and yet, to feel so ill-equipped at the same time.


So, there I am, driving a big ass truck.  Towering over other cars.  Occasionally, accidentally squealing my tires and then cowering from embarrassment in the cab.  Because, especially when I burnout, I know other drivers are judging me for thinking I'm a bad ass with a small penis.  When I'm just bad at driving this big ass truck  (apparently, I don't need to give it that much gas to get it to go.)  I'm just trying to get my kids where they need to go without killing anyone.  Which is harder than it sounds when people look like specks from 3 stories up in the driver's seat.  

And pulling into a parking space?  I can't even see the lines from the cab.  I'm so worried I'm going to hit another car, which is why I usually park on the far outskirts of the parking lot about a mile from my destination.  But, sometimes, I have no choice.  Like when I took my daughter to her basketball tournament last Sunday and by half time of the first game she'd already lost her water bottle.  So, I got in the truck and ran to Trader Joe's (the nearest store) to get her a bottle of water.   Do you know who's at Trader Joe's on a Sunday afternoon?  EVERYONE!  Leaving me no choice, but to carefully park the truck next to other cars in the lot.  Then, when I came out, I performed the slowest, most painful 30 point turn known to man to get out of that parking spot.  Without bodily harm or collateral damage of any kind, may I add.  Of course, by the time I returned from this pilgrimage, my daughter discovered her water bottle was inside her sports bag all along.


On Monday, the auto shop called.  Not only do I need a whole new, very expensive transmission.  It's going to take 7-10 business days for them to complete the work.  And I'm going to be driving this big ass truck for a whole other week. At least.  



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