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.

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. 




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day Gifts


Not only am I a pathetic gift giver, I'm also terrible at receiving gifts.  Especially if the gift comes in the form of a compliment.  Those are the worst and I'll make you take it back.  The thing is, I'm both a little bit picky and a lotta bit practical.  Flowers?  They're expensive for something that's going to die in 3 days.  Jewelry?  I'm not going to wear it.  A spa gift card?  I'll regift it to someone who actually likes spa treatments.  

It's not that I'm a bitch,
I just really don't want gifts. 

Unless you can gift me my teenage metabolism back.  Or make my kids pick up after themselves.  And I'm talking every day, not just on Mother's Day.  Not that they'll do that on Mother's Day either, mind you.  Although, if I were presented with a trip to Bali, I wouldn't pass that up.  Because an experience is the best thing you can get or give.  A girl can dream, can't she?

Two years ago on Mother's Day my husband got me an Amazon Echo.  Which was a fantastic idea on my husband's part.  Except that, it doesn't follow any of my commands.  (Just like my kids.)  So, I end up shouting "Alexa" over and over before I start shouting obscenities, until I finally unplug it.  Last year, my husband got me a foot bath to soak my feet in.  Which I just took offense to.  Are you telling me my feet are gross?  Also, I'm going to have to clean the thing out after every time I use it, so obviously, I'm not going to use it.  Because I'm lazy and it's just one more obligation.  Not that my husband didn't try, he did.   Wait...maybe I am a bitch.

Anyway, this year, I bought my own Mother's Day gift.  I was shopping at Costco when I saw it.  They were on display, all shiny and beautiful.  And with a manufacturer's instant rebate for $35 off too.  New stainless steel pots.  And there's no way my husband could've bought them for me.  Because if he did, he'd be considered sexist.  Same as if he got me a vacuum or a blender.  But, if I buy them for myself for Mother's Day, I'm a fiercely independent, post-modern feminist.  The irony isn't lost on me.  Maybe next year I should get myself a cast iron Dutch oven even.

But, really my fondest Mother's Day wish is that buying my own gift means that my husband will buy himself his own gift for Father's Day.  Oh, well...that and world peace.  But, I think world peace is always implied.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Barefootin'


There comes a time, after the snow melts and also after a few weeks of anti-fungal treatment because you forgot to wear your flip flops in the shower at the RV park, for your feet to make their summer debut.  Most women delight in sandal season and kick it off with an industrial strength pedicure and a coat of bright polish.  But, I'm not most women.

I hate spa treatments, including mani-pedis.  Among the many reasons for this is that I don't want to pay for women to gossip about how gross my feet are in Korean.  Not to stereotype or anything, but in my vast pedicure experience, three times, I've had a pedicure, they've all been Korean.  Wait, I think I've only gone twice.  Anyway, obviously I have a huge pool of data to draw from.  And no one should see my feet that close up.  Even with a mask on after my feet have been soaked in disinfectant.  What kind of psycho wants to be a nail technician?  Or a dental hygienist?  They are two of the grossest jobs.  I'm personally doing my best to make the job go extinct, by reducing demand, but so far it's not working.

It's not that I don't take care of my feet.  I clip my nails regularly.  Well, when I finally locate the nail clippers.  They're usually in my sons' shower.  Which helps explain the 20 minute showers they take.  Then, I use a PedEgg a few times a year to cheese grate off the thick callouses.   And I push back my cuticles annually, whether they need it or not.  So, it's a very strict regimen, obviously.

After all the obligatory maintenance is complete, that's when I go full-on glamming them up.  Not because I want to, but because with age, toenails get thicker, yellow and deep ridges appear.  Even without my distance glasses on, I'm repulsed when I look down at my own toenails.  Never mind when I sit down, pull my feet in and inspect them close up with my reading glasses on.  It's akin to looking at your face with a magnifying mirror.  Which only an esthetician should do.  Which is the third grossest job.  Extracting blackheads and popping other people's zits, really?  Anyway, this is the part where I paint my nails a gorgeous extremely pale pink that makes it look like I don't have polish on at all.  And even with my reading glasses I manage to glob it up and I will have to remove it and do it at least three times.  The third attempt is marginally better than the first, but by then I've just given up.  Plus, all my friends are middle-aged too and can't see my feet clearly from 5 or 6 feet away either.  So,  it really doesn't matter anyway.

Then, it's time for the big reveal.  So I slide into my flip flops with the arch support because I traded in the cheap Old Navy ones for a more comfortable, stable and orthopedic-friendly version years ago.   And that's when I douse my feet in sunscreen.  Even then, after reapplying several times throughout the day, I'll still have a tan line from the straps of my practical flip flops all summer long.  Which will be the least hideous thing about you seeing my bare feet.

 Do not make direct eye contact with my feet. 
 You've been warned.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Graduated


Later this month, my oldest will graduate from high school. With lofty goals and dreams for the future just like every 18 year old.  Not knowing that the dreams he has right now are completely delusional.  I know this because all 18 year olds are delusional.

First of all, they're 18, technically a legal adult, but they're not actually adults.  Because adults pay their own car insurance, health insurance, utilities, phone, food and rent.  And that's the minimal list.  The more extensive list includes deodorant and q-tips.  Because hygiene.  Which means most people don't reach adulthood until about age 30.  Or even later.  And some never even get there at all.

I was no different from any other 18 year old, other than the fact that I had a really sweet mullet and looked like Jeff Buckley's twin brother.  Yes, I said brother because I was a huge tomboy back then and I had no chest to speak of, so I was mistaken for a boy quite a lot.  Also, because I dressed like a boy back then.  Which might be why my dream when I left for college was to get a business degree then move to New York City and open my own men's clothing store.  Getting married and having kids weren't a second thought.  No.  And nope.

And then I went to college.

But, that summer before I did, I met a guy.  Yes, I still looked like I drove a Subaru.  But, I didn't.  Not that there's anything wrong with driving a Subaru, cause there's not.  But now, two of my big plans changed overnight.  I wanted to get married and have this man's babies.  I know it's gross, but that's life.  Also, the gross part is over and you can open your eyes and keep reading now.  My big plans didn't even make it to freshman orientation and they were already defiled!  

Who am I?  

The thing is, who really knows themself at 18?  All I knew was I was still going to college for business so I could pursue my dream of living in a concrete jungle, as my mom used to say.  It was only after my sophomore year that I finally figured out that I hate business.  I hate selling things.  I hate money.  And I hate numbers.  None of these things interested me at all.  Which became really obvious after I failed an accounting class.  There's no better teacher in life than failure.

So, everything I thought about myself was a lie.

But, I had to come up with a major.  And fast.  Then, I thought about all the classes I really liked and came up with Political Science.  The best thing is, there's no actual science in Political Science.  Also, no math.  Which is secretly why the US doesn't have a balanced budget.  No one in politics can do math.  It's not a prerequisite.  All you need are ideas and words.  And you don't even have to be accurate with those.  This is how I got a degree in something I hate.  Because I found it horrifically fascinating.  I may as well have a philosophy or liberal arts degree.  It's that useless.  Which must be why I went on to get a master's degree.  Obviously, I didn't get one in English Literature, cause I had to look up whether you capitalize master's degree or not.  And then I went on to start two additional degrees I never finished.  Because if I had my choice I'd be a student forever.  

But, you've gotta graduate sometime.

And get on with living your life.  You're gonna screw up.  You're gonna doubt yourself.  You're gonna realize you can't run away from problems or numbers.  That there's no perfect job, no matter what it is.  And you're gonna be depressed about all of those things and all your myriad of failures along the way.  But, none of these things define you. You do.  By what you put back into the world.  The truth is, it doesn't matter much what you do, as long as you do something in your life that fills your soul. So, share, give, create, inspire and love.  This is what you're here for.  And when you come to this realization, that's when you've truly graduated summa cum laude into adulthood.

Monday, May 1, 2017

On Reading


Every day in the late afternoon, I sit with a hot cup of tea and read.  While it may sound indulgent to make time for books, it's more of a necessity for me.  It's my solace from the responsibilities and constraints of adult life.  With my nose in a book sitting on my couch, I can go anywhere and live a thousand lives with none of the pesky real life consequences interfering.  I know this sounds all sentimental and Reading Rainbowish.  But, it's not all that simple.  I want....no...I need, a challenge.  Lately, in response to the politics of our president, I've made a conscious effort to read more books written by foreigners, minorities and women.  Bonus, if the author fits all three categories.

I'm aware I'm not saving the world. 
I just want to understand it. 

When a friend recommended I read, Reading Lolita in Tehran, it seemed like the perfect fit for me.  1.  It's a memoir.  2.  It's set in Iran.  3.  It's about a secret gathering of women from Iran reading forbidden Western classics.  A perfect fit in theory anyway.  Because: 1.  I've requested Nabokov's  Lolita from the library no less than five times and returned it unread every time.  2.  I can't get over the fact that in the book an adult male obsesses over his sexual interest in a 12 year old girl.  3. And this is the big one...I currently have a 12 year old daughter.  But, I'm not actually reading the book Lolita, I reasoned. I'm reading about other people reading it. I can do this.

So, I started in on the first chapter.  About how Professor Azar Nafisi established the reading group after she resigned her academic post in Tehran.  And then, they began reading Nabokov and that's when I lost interest and put the book down, which I almost never do, not sure if I'd ever finish it.  In the interim,  I read three books before I finally picked it up again to give it another try.  The truth was, I didn't lose interest in reading the book.  That's just what I told myself.  I was so averse to Lolita, it was to the point of being hostile.  This about a book that I'd never read.  Which when I think about it, seems utterly ridiculous.  Especially, when I think of myself as an unprudish, open-minded reader.  It's just a book.  But, it's never just a book. 

Books have power.  
As evidenced by the power Lolita has over me.
And I haven't even read it.

I was ready to give Reading Lolita another chance, reluctantly at first.  But, I did love hearing about the women in the group and what their lives were like a world away from mine.  If nothing else, this was worth another cup of jasmine tea and a couple more hours of my time.  They'd already finished discussing Lolita and now were on to reading The Great Gatsby, and other books after that.  Not only did I end up finishing the book, I really liked it.  What I look for in a book is transformations.  I want the characters I read about to evolve.  And I want to cultivate an understanding as to why they did.  

But, this book only left me with more questions.  Why am I so antagonistic about reading Lolita?  After all, I've read and loved books that are confrontational.  Ones that are gruesome and horrific.  With repugnant characters.  Why is this book holding me hostage?  Obviously, there's only one solution.  I have to read Lolita.  After all, it's a classic for a reason.  And I need to know why.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

First Impressions


Every once in a while I'll meet people who only know me from my book, blog or social media.
I really try to portray myself accurately and authentically in everything I put out there.  However, there are confines.  I have kids I try desperately not to embarrass.  Not to mention, my husband.  And I try to preserve some sense of privacy and restraint in a world that thrives on TMI.  Luckily, my dogs don't give a crap about any of this and they love me unconditionally, provided that I feed, walk, pet and share my nightly popcorn with them.

The thing is, no matter how much you put out there for the world to see (or don't),  you can never be sure what impression people have of you.  Because ultimately you have no control over how someone perceives you.  And how someone sees you usually has more to do with them than with you anyway.

So, with people who only know me through my writing, I'm always a bit nervous to meet them.  First, because I'm socially anxious, so I always feel this way about any social interaction.  Second, because I don't want to be a big, gaping, letdown.  About a year ago, I was invited to a small, intimate get together by a woman who'd read my book.  At the end of a truly lovely evening, she told me she'd wondered if I'd be funny in person or not.  And then I had that "oh shit" moment and I had to mentally run through everything I said.  Please, tell me I said something funny tonight so I didn't disappoint her.  I can actually be funny in person.  But the truth is, I'm really quite serious too.  Most of all though, when I'm in a group of people, I don't want to be the center of attention.  I'm much more comfortable one on one.

Because I'm an introvert's introvert.

When I hear things like, but you don't seem like an introvert in your writing, I'm happy to hear it. But, please know, when I'm writing I'm completely alone.  I'm not standing in a kitchen trying to make conversation with someone I've never met before with cilantro stuck between my teeth while juggling a paper plate of food and a stemmed wine glass I have nowhere to put down.  I mean, I probably have cilantro in my teeth at home too, because I love it.  But, who cares?  I'm alone.  And I'm at my most comfortable when home alone.  Unless I have workmen in my house repairing the damage from my overflowing toilet going on two and a half months now.  Then, I'm at home, but completely uncomfortable.  The only thing worse than being at a party trying to make small talk is trying to make small talk in your own home with uninvited guests.  That or trying to pretend that my house is usually clean.  I admit right now, my house is never clean.  Ever.

Anyway, skip to yesterday, when I met someone I've followed on social media for the first time one on one.  And he turned out to be exactly the way I imagined him to be.  And he said the same of me.  Which is the highest compliment and best first impression to make with a new friend.  After all, we all just want to be seen for exactly who we are, only way better.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Beauty Marketing 101



There are lots of great things about being a woman.  Like being able to bring new life into the world and being the only one who can properly replace a roll of toilet paper.  Not to mention knowing how someone is feeling before they even feel it and then there's the constantly feeling like you're not enough.  I didn't ask for these gifts.   It's just that they come absolutely free with the price of estrogen. Like it's Clinique bonus time all the time, but everything in the bag isn't your color and makes you break out, so you just use the cute bag it came in to carry around your tampons.  

As women, we're all insecure about our looks.  All of us.  Lucky for us, we have the beauty industry to confirm just how hideous we are.  Not to mention Snapchat, which corroborates, you really are a dog.  And even at that, you need an industrial strength filter to pull that one off.  

We all have some basis for feeling less than.  Mine was acne. (There are more issues than that, but let's stick to the zits here or this is going to be a novel.)  Not only did it cover my face, I also had backne.  I was extremely self-conscious about it and never went anywhere without foundation to try to hide my blemishes.  And I envied everyone with clear skin.  I tried every over the counter product to make it go away, mixed with some prayer, cause god knows it couldn't hurt.  Finally, at the ripe old age of 40, my acne disappeared and was promptly replaced with fine lines, blotchiness and rogue chin hairs.  Yay!  How can you grow a 2 inch long straggly chin hair overnight?  Ugh.  Turns out, the only thing worse than estrogen for a woman, is testosterone.  

Even though I have clear skin now, I'm still self-conscious about it.  Not only that, almost two years ago when I went for a mole check, I had a dermatologist suggest I get laser treatment on my face to smooth out my skin tone.  And I was really offended, but only after I considered it because she's a skin professional confirming I'm not good enough.  She must be right.

It took me a while to realize, there's nothing wrong with me.  Or actually, there's lots of things wrong with me, but my skin wasn't actually one of them.  Is there no such thing as aging gracefully without an expressionless Botox filled, laser burnt face anymore?  It's not that I'm so secure in how I look, cause I'm not.  It's that I don't want to look like that celebrity cautionary tale.  You know the one.  Cause there are lots of "ones" out there.  

Anyway, let me get to the point of this whole tale already.  So, I found this completely great homemade face mask a couple years ago that I love and faithfully use twice a week.  It clears up blemishes (which I still get every now and again), plus it brightens and doesn't dry out my sensitive, combination skin.  And bonus: there is no marketing to make you feel inadequate or coax you into using it.  It just works.  Imagine that!

So, why when I'm perusing the beauty aisle in Target, would I buy an expensive mask when I have one I'm extremely happy with at home?  Also, why do I go down the cosmetic aisle every time I'm in Target?  Marketing.  And preying on my old, blotchy and wrinkled insecurities.

Want to know how to sell to me?

1.  Package your product in one of the most sublime shades of green.  
2.  Mention kale or any other vegetable that I can simply apply topically and don't have to eat.
3.  Tell me it's vegan and cruelty free so I feel absolved of any societal guilt.
4.  Make me feel completely and totally inadequate by using the word "overhaul". 
5.  Jack up the price, so it's kinda affordable, but still way too expensive so it feels luxurious.

The only thing that could've made the mask I was ogling over more appealing to me is if they mentioned that for every tube sold they planted a garden to feed starving children kale in Africa.  I probably would've paid double for that!  

I knew I was being manipulated by my insecurities and yet I bought it anyway.  Oh yes, I did!  And I know what you're thinking: does it work?  I might get some.  And I bet you already know the answer.  No.  Don't do it.  It's a total waste of money.  And now I'm back to my homemade, completely guilt-free mask.
  
Don't believe the bullshit.  
Not the beauty industry's.
And definitely, not your own.
Most stupid decisions in life begin with feeling insecure.


Matcha Green Tea Face Mask:

1 tsp matcha green tea powder
1/2 tsp honey
2 or 3 drops tea tree oil
1 or 2 drops water to make it into a paste

Leave on 10 minutes.  
CAUTION: it stains.






Thursday, April 20, 2017

Almost OCD


Let me be clear, I do not have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  But, you don't need to be diagnosable to have ritualistic things you do that don't make sense to anyone else, that you can't stop yourself from doing.   I call it Almost OCD and everyone's got it.  It's the equal opportunity mental illness.  The only prerequisite is being human.

It all starts for me with my morning rituals.  Coffee and twitter.  Compulsively scrolling and searching for content I can share by retweeting it.  Which is exactly where my compulsion meets my addiction.  After that it's time to get the kids up and off to school. Which requires at least three rounds of attempting to wake the dead before I get the teenagers out of their beds.  (Please note: this part is not voluntary.)  By this time, the coffee has kicked in and I'm really ready to start obsessing.

When the kids leave, the counter stools are all pulled out cockeyed.  Every single morning.  Why do they do this?  Why can't they push their chairs in?  My adrenaline starts.  And I have to push them all back in and line them up perfectly.  Which is how they'll remain until the kids return from school.

It's about this time that I have to decide what's for dinner.  I can't plan a week of meals ahead of time.  Because dinner depends on two important factors: the weather and my mood.   And how am I going to know these things ahead of time?  I'm not psychic.  Well, I am in that I know whatever I make my kids are going to hate it, so none of this even matters anyway.

By the time I get in the shower, I've figured out dinner and made a list of things I have to go get to make whatever comfort food for whatever emotion needs to be fed that day.  If I don't have it figured out by then, I start to get panicky.  Yes, at 7am, I'm stressing about what to make for dinner.  And that's when I'll forget to shave a leg, which will drive me insane for the rest of the day.

When I get out of the shower that's when I need to take all the laundry downstairs to the washing machine.  Because I do.  I'll tell myself not to go in the kids' rooms and check their floors or the floor in the bathroom.  But, I can't stop myself.  And I'll begrudgingly pick up their clothes they failed to put in the hamper, even though I told them I wouldn't.  I hate that! And take it all downstairs in one heaping pile I can't see the stairs over.   I don't know why it's so important that I make it in one trip because I will go upstairs and re-check the 2 hampers, 2 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms at least 3 more times, just to make sure I got everything before I start the load.  It's imperative every article of clothing that's dirty be in there.  Even though 5 minutes later there's more laundry.

Then, I'll stretch and work out on the pole where I'll either attempt to do something new and/or perfect something that's old.  And I will do the same move over and over.  Sometimes in excess of 50 times.  (Or until I've broken the capillaries in my knee pit, pull a muscle, get motion sickness or start to get a migraine because I tweaked my back again.)  And it still won't be good enough.  I'll tell myself that I'll only try it one more time.  But that's a lie.  So I bargain with myself.  I'll keep doing it until the end of the song.  Or, I'll stop at 9:30 or whatever arbitrary time I make up.  And when I do finally stop (well after I promised myself I would), that's when I start berating myself for not being better.

Now, it's time for errands.  I'll hop in the car and find a radio station I like.  But, only after searching from all the available choices.  And then constantly checking to see if there's a better song on another station.  And then volume needs to be on an even number.  Or a multiple of 5.

If I have an appointment, I'll plug the address into the GPS, even if I know how to get there.  It's just a little insurance policy.  When I arrive at my destination,  I'll check the address, to make sure I'm in the right place.  Then I'll re-check again.   And then again.   I'll still be at least 10 minutes early because I'm always habitually early for everything.  If I'm on time, in my mind that means, I'm late.  I've tried so hard to break myself of this habit because it sucks to be the first person at any social gathering.  Although, I reason that if I'm the first person there, I can leave first.  Which totally makes sense to me.

Shopping isn't any better.  Say after an exhaustive search, I finally find a denim shirt on-line to replace an old, dying denim shirt that I love and buy it.  Then it arrives and it's not denim at all, it's chambray.  And chambray isn't denim!  But, otherwise I love the shirt.  And even though I keep the shirt, I can't wear it.  Because I have to wear my old one out completely before I wear the new one.  But, I can't wear the old one out, because I don't like the new one as much because it's a lighter fabric and therefore not a good replacement for the old one.  So, now I have two shirts I love that I won't wear for fear that I'll never find an equivalent replacement for either of them.  It's the same with jeans.  And sneakers.  I know it's stupid...


but, I can't stop.
Maybe I have Overly Critical Disorder.

Monday, April 17, 2017

ID Check

My kids go to high school on the Air Force Academy. Which requires, that all of us have special ID cards to get us through the security checkpoint and onto the base.  I get it.  It's imperative that our military installations are secure.  I'm all for that.  



Except...
that
think  
the
photos 
on 
the 
ID 
should 
be
a
good 
picture
of
the 
person.

Not for vanity reasons.  For security reasons.  Maybe a little bit of vanity, but mostly the security thing. 

Exhibit A:  

My old ID to get on to base taken in 2014.  


I don't know if I was chewing gum, trying to get something dislodged from my teeth with my tongue or about to sneeze.  But what the hell was I doing with my mouth?  Also, why don't I have a neck?  I look like Beaker from the Muppets.  And why would anyone let me onto a military installation with this ID that: 1.  Doesn't look like me 1.5 Please tell me it doesn't look like me  2.  Makes me look like a terrorist.  Please note the sunglasses on top of my head.

So, I was so excited my ID expires this school year and I had to go get a new one.  Because really?  You can't get worse than this photo.  Or so I thought before I went in to get my new ID.  I asked the guy at the counter if he was going to take a new photo.  He said he could.  And it was settled.  I sat down and waited to be called back to the counter while contemplating if I should smile for the photo or not.  Then I remembered my last photo.  Smile.  I'll definitely smile, but I'm not showing teeth.  Because: 1.  It's unrealistic, I rarely if ever smile and show teeth 2.  It's too much pressure and it's bound to look forced and make me look even more like a terrorist.

Finally, it was my turn,  so I could stop staring at the official photo of Trump that hung on the wall.  No matter what happened, I wasn't going to look like an orange, smug asshole like he does in his pictures.  The guy asked me to take off my sunglasses that I'd pushed up on top of my head like a hairband.  So I did.  Ok, there's a set protocol for the ID photos, this is a good sign, like there is for a passport photo.  He snapped it, checked it and then printed up my ID card.

Then he handed it to me...


...and I look like a blurry, orange, smug asshole.  
Maybe it's the Trump filter. 
And just like Trump, this ID doesn't make me feel any more secure about anything.   

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Floored


It all started with a toilet that overflowed in the middle of the night and a subsequent call to the insurance company the next day when we discovered it was raining toilet water in our basement.  I admit, I didn't expect much.  But our insurance company had someone come out the same day with an estimate on the damage and a plan to fix it.  Including new wood floors on the main level and carpet in the basement, adding up to thousands of dollars of damage they'd cover.

I was floored!

Of course, we'd have to move out of our house and into a hotel while they were sanding, staining and polyurethaning the wood.   Then, the insurance company picked up the tab for 6 people and 2 dogs for 2 weeks.  Which was another few thousand dollars.  

Again, I was floored!  

When we finally were able to move back into the house, there were still baseboards that needed to be put back, drywall to replace, doors to be stained and polyurethaned, painting and a new toilet and vanity to be installed.  Adding up to two additional weeks of workmen in and out of my house.  And trying to schedule my workouts, writing, dog walks, carpooling and meals around them.  Because you know what's really weird when you have people in your house all day?  Eating.  Do I offer them some?  Are they judging me for what I'm eating?  Or that I'm eating again?  I mean, I did gain weight during the hotel stay and then again on spring break.  You can't really work out in an RV, you know?    

The thing is, when you get near the end of a project and then you get a cold and start slamming hot tea to hydrate and soothe your dry throat cause you're mouth breathing, you have to pee a lot.  And I mean a lot.  So, since I don't have a bathroom on the main floor, that means I'm running either upstairs or downstairs to pee.  While it's a fantastic StairMaster workout, by the time I get to the bathroom (any bathroom) there's either a kid showering or using the toilet.  Now, after running up the stairs, my nose is running like a faucet with snot headed due south, straight for my mouth.  Nooooooooooooooo!!!

I'm floored that this work isn't done yet! 

So yesterday (the day before yesterday by the time you read this), the plumber was supposed to come  and install the toilet and the sink in the vanity.  I waited during my designated window of 3 to 5pm for him to show.  Which he didn't.  Today, for round 2, his window to redeem himself is from 1-3pm.  Right now as I sit in my old, creaky office chair and finish writing this, it's exactly 1pm.  So I don't know how the story ends.  But, I sure hope it's with a flushing toilet.

Either way, I'll be pretty floored!


Monday, April 10, 2017

Ladies Night Out

My delusion of what we look like on Ladies Night Out
PC:  soheather.com
The five of us have been friends for over a decade.  Four of us have birthdays in December and one in March.  So semi-annually, we have a ladies night out to celebrate, which at our age is actually more commiserating our birthdays together.   I'd say it's a big affair, but the biggest affair is trying to schedule it.

Seriously, why do I have so many Scorpio/Sagittarius friends?  November and December are already insanely busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not to mention Christmas vacation.  THIS IS A REALLY INCONVENIENT TIME FOR BIRTHDAYS!  I don't even like my own birthday for this very reason.  March is usually a tad easier.  But, there is spring break to contend with.  The e-mails to organize LNO started in February.  And yes, old people make arrangements on AOL.  Which is precisely why we're not old yet, because we have Gmail or yahoo accounts.  Duh.

After several proposed dates and a month of e-mails back and forth, finally we confirmed a date all five of us could commit to and we marked it on our paper calendars in ballpoint pen.  Ok, maybe I'm the only one who still has a old school calendar featuring beautiful vistas hanging next to my home phone. Yes, I still have a land line.  Although, my girlfriends are more tech savvy than me, making me the old bitty of the group, even though I'm actually the youngest.

The week of LNO, that was scheduled for April because no one could do March, one of us bails.  Three of us have kids who are seniors in high school and she's taking her daughter for one more look at a college before she makes her final choice and she's leaving the Friday night we're going out.  Ironically, she's the one with the March birthday we're going out to commiserate.  And we can't reschedule because do you know how long it took to schedule in the first place?  Plus, April and May,   are chock full of attending senior breakfasts with our kids, sending out graduation announcements, organizing parties and scheduling a session to go cry at our financial planner's office because how are we going to afford all this?  So, the birthday party will go on without the birthday girl.

And that's what we did.  In our mom jeans paired with breathable cotton tops and sensible flat shoes.  We all wore earrings though, which in middle age in casual Colorado basically constitutes evening wear.  When we arrived at Till, a hip new restaurant filled with millennials, just before 6 we ran to the bar to catch last call before Happy Hour ended.  Because we're practical like that.  And we're saving money so our kids can come home from college at Christmas.  Forget Thanksgiving, it's way too expensive to fly your kid home then. They'll have to find another student with a family that's local to take them in and be thankful with on that holiday.

That's when things really got wild.  I ordered a spicy, carb-loaded green chili gnocchi.  Spicy food often triggers my Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  And after just coming back from vacation, the last thing my sluggish middle aged metabolism needed was carbs.  But, this was a special occasion.  My friend's birthday.  My friend who wasn't even there.  And since we're breaking the diet anyway, we need to get her a cake.  And then text her a picture of us eating it.  Happy Birthday Bailer!

We sat at the table for hours talking about our kids.  Because we're lame and had no plans to go out to a bar afterward.  Where would we even go?  Downtown?  Are you kidding me?  That's like 15 minutes in the other direction!  Then we'd have to find parking and shout at each other over the music. The waitress kept coming around.  "More water?"  Which everyone knows is server code for "Get the hell out of here already!"  So after a few rounds of water on a Friday night, at about 9 or maybe 9:30 we all headed home.

When did we go from Girls Gone Wild to Girls Gone Mild?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Baggage


I've done a lot of travelling.  And if there's one thing I'm pretty good at, it's packing a suitcase.  If there's one thing I'm terrible at, it's pretty much everything else.  I'm not good at timing a vacation, making the correct travel arrangements or having the right visa when I get there, among other things.  So, let's just focus on the luggage then, shall we?

I rarely take my massive orange suitcase anywhere anymore because it's just too big. Not to mention, the broken zippers and torn handles from being manhandled all over the world.  These days, I've replaced my cumbersome luggage with a brick colored backpack that's smaller and more portable.

But, every once in a while there's an opportunity to break out my old school rolly bag.  Like last month when we moved into a hotel for a couple weeks while my wood floors were being refinished after a toilet overflowed.  I didn't need anything easily maneuverable, because it was only going into my car and then driving it 3 miles down the street to the Staybridge Suites.

However, it was still too much suitcase for me as I travel light these days.  Mostly because these days I'll wear the same clothes for a couple of days.  This is the advantage of working from home.  No one knows I picked yesterday's outfit up off of the floor to re-wear it the next day.  So, no one cares.  Especially me.  This also works on vacation.  Because are you going to see anyone you know on vacation?  Ok, so I just ran into someone I knew at the Grand Canyon last week.  So, it happens, but she didn't know I was on day 2 or 3 in those clothes because I didn't wash clothes on the trip.  Unless she saw the food stains on my shirt.  But, they could've been fresh stains.  How would she know?

Anyway, back to my baggage in the hotel room where I washed clothes all the time because they had a free washer and dryer at the hotel.  And because I have 4 teenagers who are clothes whores.  

To solve the too-much-suitcase-dilemma, I decided to share it with my husband.  Which we have done many times before in our earlier, more bumbling travels.  So we know to share it exactly 50-50, just like our marriage.  Maybe 60-40.  Or 70-30.  Whatever.  It depends on the day or the year, really.  Either way, when we're packing up to leave, there are no suitcase squabbles.  Even when we get wherever we're going, there's no issue.  My husband prefers to take his clothes out of the luggage and put them in a dresser or on a shelf, depending on the space.  While I prefer to commit to the suitcase and sprawl out onto his side of the luggage.  It's like getting the whole bed to myself.

Packing back up to go home is when the argument starts.  The same recurrent argument we have every time we share a bag: fold or cram?  My stance is, everything is dirty and going into the laundry when we get home anyway so why bother folding?  And his take is that folding makes things fit into the bag better.  Even though I am a master crammer and I can get everything in that bag and still close the zipper and he's totally wrong.  Maybe the caveat is "better".  And better is always subjective.  To me the least work is better.  To him, not ruining the suitcase by breaking the zipper from cramming everything into the suitcase is better.

Six of one, half dozen of the other,  I suppose.
Even though I'm totally right.  
This is my baggage.

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