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 season...it'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.  Wait...do 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, no...my 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...
...to 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.)


DAMN YOU, COSTCO!
(Also, did you notice everything on the menu at Costco contains gluten?
Do you honestly think that's a coincidence?
I THINK NOT!)

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. 

MOTHER TRUCKER!

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.


MOTHER TRUCKER! 

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.

MOTHER TRUCKER!

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.  

I'M NOT MOTHER TRUCKING KIDDING YOU!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Vacation Disasters



Anyone can have a vacation disaster.  It's pretty easy actually.  But, not everyone can epically screw up a vacation before even leaving the house.  Multiple times.  And yet we keep traveling.  Quite the way that I can. I've kind of taken international blundering to a whole new level.  At least there's something I'm good at.  Which is why my motto is, go big or go home.  And the last place I want to go is home because there's so much cleaning and home improvement projects that I need to avoid doing there.  Which might be why I travel to begin with.

Let me recap some of my epic family vacation disasters for you.

There's the time I planned a dream vacation to Egypt for our family of six.  The timing was perfect, my oldest was in middle school studying Egypt in social studies at the time.  My youngest was in kindergarten, making her old enough to remember the trip for years to come.  We arrived at customs with our passports and visas in hand.  Except, we had the wrong visas.  No worries, we thought.  There's got to be an easy solution.  There wasn't.  We called the American Embassy in Cairo from the airport.  Our visa problem was political retribution for an Egyptian diplomat who was denied entry into the United States because he had the wrong visa.  There was nothing they could do.  We were confined to the terminal (like Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal) until they could deport us back to Morocco (where we were living at the time).   Which the Egyptian officials were in absolutely no rush to do.  So, we were prisoners in the airport just shy of two days.   Sleeping on the floor and eating at Starbucks with mosquito bites were our souvenirs for time served.  That and the exorbitant Starbucks charges on the credit card.

No, that's not the end of the Egypt story.  Because that's when I got even more obsessed with going to Egypt.  We jumped through so more hoops and red tape than at a rhythmic gymnastic competition to get the right visas.  We bought a second set of airline tickets.  And the week after I bought them...BAM...Arab Spring happened.  Egypt was under martial law and the The U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning urging Americans not to travel there.  Except now I've bought 12 airline tickets there and we have the correct visas.  And there is no way in hell we're not going to Egypt!  So, we did.  Not only did we see the pyramids, sphinx, tombs in the Valley of the Kings without the crowds, we also drove through the middle of a demonstration and saw the charred remains of the Ministry of the Interior burned just 4 days prior.  My sons were particularly impressed with the Soviet tanks and soldiers with machine guns that lined the streets.  (And I was a nanosecond from taking the perfect Time-cover worthy photo of a soldier with tanks lined up on the streets of Cairo behind him when I got reprimanded by an Egyptian officer.)

In comparison to the Egypt debacle, the London fiasco is going to sound boring.  I merely forgot to buy the return tickets and the apartment we booked turned out to be a scam.  We found out it was a scam when we arrived at the Sheffield Airport.  (Ryan Air is famous for cheap air travel and landing planes in a cow pastures nowhere near your actual destination.)  It was 1am and the apartment representative who was supposed to meet us at the airport and drive us into our accommodations in London wasn't there and she couldn't be reached by phone.  When we finally got to London, we ran into my brother (who lives in the U.S., but who was coincidentally in London at the same time).  And right after we parted ways when he was heading back to the airport, he looked left instead of right when crossing the street and got hit by a double decker bus.  Don't worry, he's fine.

So, why am I telling you all this?

Because every winter break we take an exotic vacation.  It's a lifestyle my youngest has grown accustomed to after all the travel we've done in Morocco.  She constantly brings up travel destinations we haven't been to yet as if we're the lamest parents for not taking a vacation to New Zealand, New Guinea or even New York City.  This is nothing new.  But, the fact that my husband thought we were on a travel break and going to stay home for Christmas this year is.  Yeah, right.  This might be the last year for us to travel with all the kids.  Because my oldest is in college and my second oldest is a senior in high school.  Who knows what next year will bring?  We have to have to go now while we can!  That was my plea that changed his mind.  

I started researching.  Places we haven't been.  That aren't $2600 per airline ticket, like New Zealand. Peru was the top contender.  It's been on our travel list for quite some time.  But, you have to book a guided tour to hike Machu Picchu.  And you have to reserve it a year in advance, apparently. Dammit!  It looked like we weren't going anywhere after all.  Until, we found it.  It wasn't on my radar at all.  I'd never even considered it.  But, it started to look really appealing, probably because it was our last-ditch effort for a family getaway.  So, we bought tickets.  And then we bought a guide book excited to plan our getaway.  



And two weeks after I bought the tickets, Hurricane Maria obliterated Puerto Rico.  But, on a positive note, this could be the cheapest holiday accommodations yet.  I'm  thinking we just pack some hammocks to tie between some palm trees on the beach and some Lifestraws.  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Husband's Porn Addiction


It's not something we talk about.  It's something we live with every day.  The moment he gets up he gets on-line for his first hit.  Sleek lines and hard bodies flood his Instagram feed.  I'm sure he has other outlets to supply him the visual titillation he feeds off.  But, I know better than to search his on-line history, knowing I'll only find more porn.  And there's no way I can live up to his fantasy.

Because I don't look like this...


*surfboard and ocean with surfable waves required 

I didn't know about his obsession with Volkswagens and VW porn when I met him.  I was young and naive then.  I didn't know how many countless hours he'd spend with his head focused on the rear end of the object of his affection trying to make it to purr for him.  The thing about old broads is they're classic, but they're also feisty and unpredictable.  Which is why I've spent countless hours of my life helping my husband revive his mistress by push starting her.  Sometimes I get to push.  Sometimes pop the clutch.  I'll take whatever he gives me to make this marriage work.

There's been more than one side piece he's neglected me for over the years.  There've been several.  But, the first one is always the hardest to get over.  We were living in Hawaii when I found out about her.  She was a few years younger than me.  Aren't they always?  The thing was, she wasn't even prettier than me.  She looked like she'd been around the block a time or two.  Like a painted lady, if you know what I mean.  Everywhere we went on the island people stopped to stare at her.  It was like I didn't even exist.  Leaving me feeling humiliated.  


Through all of this, my biggest fear has always been that he'd pass his roving eye down to our sons.  Which is exactly what's happened; both of my sons are car porn addicts.  It was inevitable, I suppose.  After all, my husband shares this affliction with his two younger brothers.  His two brothers who are flying in today to help my husband resuscitate his old VW bus who flat lined in my driveway about 2 years ago.  So, for the next 5 days my husband will be in the garage with his brothers playing with his pickle.  

Pickle broken down on the side of the road.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Nudes


I'm enamored with nudes.  There's something so sensual and revealing about skin tones.  There's an honesty in having nothing to hide.  In being transparent and real.  About having the courage to expose yourself and not care how anyone sees you.  But, I don't do any of that.  Because I'm a fraud.

I like to give off the appearance I'm naked faced, while I'm actually wearing a face full of make-up in nude colors.  I go to unnatural lengths to appear natural.  To look like me, but way better than I actually look.  Without looking like I tried really hard, even though I did.   My dark circles, blotchy skin, age spots and zits aren't going to cover themselves, you know?

It all starts with the perfect foundation.  Which means it's completely undetectable.  But, I don't care if keeps it keeps my oily skin at bay for 24 hours or makes me look like Kate Beckinsale, I refuse to buy any cover up with the word beige in it.  Because I refuse to be defined as beige.  Now, if the color is called porcelain, buff, sand or tan, I'll buy it even though it's not even though it's no where near close to my skin color.  Simply because they sound more appealing.  Yeah, I know is ridiculous.  And, I know the only one who knows the name of the color foundation I'm wearing is me.  (Because everyone else is fooled into thinking I'm not wearing any make-up, obviously.)  And that the shade of my skin doesn't define me.  I also know I can't even read the name of the color on the bottom of the bottle with that super fine print.  Even with my reading glasses on.  So, it really, REALLY doesn't matter.  But, it still matters to me.  That's how insecure I am.

The eyes are the most important feature on anyone's face.  They are the windows to the soul after all.  So,  I want mine to convey that I'm nice and friendly.  But also, unapproachable and aloof;  to prevent people from talking to me.  Because I'm really awkward and socially anxious thus; prone to say incredibly stupid things when prompted to interact with other humans.  But, before any of that, I have to divert your attention from the dark circles under my eyes.  Which is why concealer is vital.  Lots of concealer, but still not enough to cover them completely.  Ensuring that I never wear blue eyeliner because the combination of black circles with blue eyeliner would make me look like an MMA fighter.  But, I bet if I was sporting the black eye look, I could avoid unwanted conversations even more successfully.  So, maybe I'll consider adding blue eyeliner to my stripped down neutral palate.  And maybe I'll add one of those gorgeous nude eyeshadow collections with 12 shades of naked for my eyelids that I always pine over in the cosmetic aisle.  But, I know I won't.

I'm just as picky and irrational about my lips.  I don't like the feel of lipstick and it looks too obvious, especially if it gets on my teeth.  Also, it always gets on my teeth somehow.  Which is when I realize it tastes awful and makes my teeth look yellow in comparison.  So, wearing lipstick would require that I whiten my teeth, again.  And the only thing more painful for an American with yellow teeth is the pain caused by a whitening strip on sensitive teeth.  That's why I wear tinted lip balm.  But it can't be too dark.  Or too bright.  Or too shiny.  Essentially, I want it to match my lip color exactly.  Which is why getting a tinted lip balm is ridiculous in the first place.  Because my lips are already my lip color.  I could just get a clear lip balm, but somehow that just wouldn't be good enough.

The truth is...
I feel naked without my nude make-up.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Things I Never Imagined


There are so many things that I never imagined would ever happen. Like the demise of truth and substance.  But, this post isn't about that.  This post is about stuff.  Things that I never imagined would be produced, let alone be popular and in demand.  And if there's one thing I know about, it's definitely NOT how to be popular and in demand.  Just ask anyone who knew me in high school, college, a job or in mom's club and they'll say... "who?"  Because I've always been kind of an outsider.  So, what the cool kids like has always both intrigued and mystified me.

When I was little I used to go grocery shopping with my mom and beg her to buy the sugary cereals that she didn't usually buy.  You know the kind.  The ones that are made with really cheap, coarse-grained sugar that tear up the roof of your mouth, but came with a cool prize inside.  Usually it was a bike clicker you'd stick in the spokes of your wheel that made a really annoying sound.  Those were the best.  But, sometimes you'd get a pedometer.  Those were the worst.  And they went right in the garbage.  Because who cares how many steps you take in a day?  Which is exactly why I would never have imagined that people would pay upwards of $60 for a Fitbit.  Which we all know is a glorified pedometer.  And I didn't even want one when I got it for free.

It was about this time in my childhood in the 70's when rompers and jumpsuits where all the rage.  Personally I blame Charlie's Angels for this.  Probably because I wasn't allowed to watch it back in the day.  But, I assume that they wore all kinds of sexy one piece polyester jumpsuits sensuously unzipped to expose some cleavage.  But, what do I know?  All I know is, I bought a jumpsuit from Banana Republic in the 90's from the clearance rack.  (Obviously, it wasn't a popular seller.)  It was beautiful and elegant and it's still hanging in my closet covered in a thick layer of dust.  The first time I wore it, I realized why no one in the 90's was wearing a jumpsuit or a romper.  Because, in order to use the toilet, you had to unzip (a challenge in itself if it has a back zipper like mine does) and strip down to your bra.  And if you're using a public toilet, you know you're going to get the stall with the big gap between the door, so the ladies waiting in line can see you mostly naked sitting on the toilet while cradling the top of your jumpsuit in your lap so it doesn't touch the floor.   So, can someone explain to me why are rompers and jumpsuits are all the rage again?

I remember when the Food Network first started.  And I thought 'you've got to be kidding me...who the hell would want to watch someone cook?'  I mean it's not like you get to taste any of the food.  So, essentially, you're just punishing yourself by watching the most delicious looking meal you've ever seen being prepared while you're on the couch in your sweatpants eating cereal from the box because you ran out of ice cream.  How freakin' sad is that?  Also, how freakin' sad is it that this is basically the majority of what I watch on TV these days?  And to make it even sadder, I'm usually eating seaweed crisps.  Because I already ate all the ice cream and all that's left is the healthy crap.

When Starbucks came on the scene, everyone jumped on the gourmet coffee train.  Personally, I can't get out of my house to go get coffee, without caffeinating.  Plus, you have to get out of your pj's and put clothes on because there's no Starbucks inside a Walmart.  Which is why I never got into going out to get coffee.  So, I just make a pot of coffee at home.  Which saves both time and money.  Not to mention, the planet, with all those disposable cups.  Then, they came out with Keurig so you can have a  fresh cup coffee at home, every time and simultaneously fill the landfills and destroy the environment with seemingly innocuous single serve coffee packaging from the comfort of your own home.  Without getting dressed even.  Cause we're lazy Americans.  Freakin' genius!

Back in the day, looking like a dog was considered a huge insult.  Enter Snapchat.  Where you can intentionally make yourself look like a dog.  Or a cat.  Or vomit rainbows.  Not that I'm on Snapchat, because I'm not.  But the photos and videos from there have migrated onto other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.  Both of which I said I'd never join because I just didn't see the point.  That's before I gave in and created accounts and became addicted, of course.  So, don't be surprised when you see a photo that kinda looks like me, only way better, wearing a crown of cartoon flowers next month on my Facebook.  Just kidding, I'm hardly ever on Facebook.

By now you've probably labeled me as both a feminist and an environmentalist.  (I won't mention the other labels to attempt to protect my ego.)  Like someone who would use the environmentally-friendly Diva cup instead of environmentally-reprehensible tampons.  But, this is where you're completely wrong.  I figure me not using a Keurig cup fully entitles me to use disposable feminine hygiene products instead of reuseable ones.  I believe this is called cognitive dissonance.  And lastly, I never imagined I'd tell you about my feminine hygiene product preferences, but here we are.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Road Rules


I'm on my third kid learning to drive.  And through the process of teaching kids to drive, I've learned a few things myself.  Mostly, that I don't remember the actual rules of the road because I learned them 30 years ago.  Because I only know the practical rules of the road.  The things that everyone does, but knows that they aren't exactly legal.  Like you can go at least 5 mph over the speed limit without getting a speeding ticket.  When in reality: 1. this isn't true 2. there are douchebag cops out there who will go out of their way to prove it.  Which might by why my most frequent teaching technique is by bad example.  Did you see that thing I did just there?  Don't do that!

Not only don't I remember the rules, a lot has changed in 30 years.  There were no protected left turns indicated by a green arrow when I was learning to drive.  Only one solid green light and you had to judge, calculate and risk it.  Can I make this turn before that oncoming semi-truck obliterates me?  Let's see!  Because if you didn't risk it, you'd never get where you were going.  You can't just make right hand turns through life.  That's when my kid asks,  if she's at a stop light with a protected left turn, but it's currently solid green with no oncoming traffic, can she make a left turn?  Of course, I said.  But, you should probably look that up to see if it's legal though if you want to pass the test.  Did I mention back in the good old days there were no coddled protected left turns?

In addition, there were no seat belt laws or airbags when I got my license.  And bike lanes?  Are you joking?  There were no designated bike lanes on roads in the 80's.  No one biked for exercise back then.  Well ok... stationary bikes, indoors wearing leg warmers with a sweat band compressing your mullet like extras in a music video for Physical with Olivia Newton John.  Oh, yeah, and I drove way back before cellphones and blue tooth, so all you had to listen to was the radio.  (Because the cassette player ate all your tapes you got conned into ordering from Columbia House.)  So, really you were stuck listening to either Journey or Michael Jackson on repeat, depending on which of the two radio stations you could get without static.  But, the bonus was, if you crashed, you were pretty much guaranteed to certain death because you weren't wearing a seat belt, so that ended your musical misery pretty definitively.

Between my own exploits driving as a teenager and having already taught two teenage boys to drive, nothing scares me about getting in a car with my teen at the wheel anymore.  Besides my monthly car insurance bill.  Well, the music that my daughter listens to while she's learning to drive does concern me a bit.  I mean, I didn't raise my kids to like country music!  Where did I go wrong?  But, I think the thing that pisses me off the most about my kids driving is that parallel parking isn't on the driving test they have to take to get their license.  WTF?  Everyone knows the hardest part of driving is parallel parking.  I could easily ace that driving test!  Except for all those pesky rules of the road.  

Kids these days are living on easy street!
Which sounds exactly like what an old person would say.
OMG, I'm old!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How to End a Conversation


We've all been in this situation: you see someone out in public, you know you know the person from somewhere.  But where?  You quickly scroll through your mental rolodex, but not before attempting to hide in order to avoid having a conversation with this person.  Because how do you talk to someone when you don't know the context of where you know them from?  Unfortunately, we all know hiding and/or pretending not to see the person rarely works.  But somehow, it's still always Plan A.  Then...they see you, make their approach and start talking to you.  They're ridiculously chatty.  They always are.  And they seem to know everything about you.  Like everything.  And you still have no idea who the hell they are.  For some reason, asking them who they are seems out of the question.  You just want to be invisible.  Or for the Earth to swallow you whole.  Anything to escape the hell that is small talk with a stranger.

 How can I make this conversation end?
Here are some suggestions:

1.  Whatever you do, don't make direct eye contact.

2.  Silently mouth your 'to do list' while they chatter on.

3.  Clean out your ears with your car keys.

4.   Mirror their every gesture like a mime.

5.  Scratch yourself vigorously like you have lice or fleas.

6.  When they pause for a moment, ask "Sorry, were you talking to me?".

7.  Take one giant step towards them until you're uncomfortably close.

8.  Stroke their arm like you're petting a cat.

9.  Pull out your phone and start scrolling.

10.  Put your index finger up to pause them.  "Sorry...Mexican food..." and race to the nearest bathroom.  

I admit, I haven't tried any of these.  Although, I've been extremely close to using that last one out of necessity.  (Thanks Chipotle.)  I know the reason I get cornered by people like Chatty Cathy (yammering on about how she's gone gluten-free) is that I lack the social skills to deal with this situation. Because I'm an introvert's introvert.  Not only that, but I'm also socially anxious and a dedicated people-pleaser.  Which must be why I foolishly try to act like I remember people when I don't.  And then nod or say "uh-huh" at the appropriate times during their monologue about their gout.  Thus, giving the extroverts of the world with extra time on their hands, like Blowhard Bob, free reign to waste my time.  Which I'm more than capable of doing by myself while I'm blissfully alone.    

I don't even think there is a polite way to end a conversation.  
So why not give one of these suggestions a try and let me know how it goes. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

History on Repeat


I know I'm not the only one who feels like the world sucks right now.  That humanity seems so off course, it's inhumane.  Not only do we abuse each other, we've also desecrated our habitat; the environment.  And things only seem to be getting worse.  But are they?

There have always been natural disasters mixed with unnatural, unspeakable atrocities. There have always been wars, powerful tyrants and disease.  Pick any point in history and you'll see that it's always been a shit show.  Always.  And every generation has always been fearful for the next generation will inherit a world different from the one they had.  Which they will.

But, it's not all bad.

I mean most of it is, but not all of it.  They're always been people who give to complete strangers, who stand up for the voiceless and the sick.  Ones who fight for humanity armed with compassion and empathy.  Who seek cures for diseases and protection for the environment.  It's just so hard to find them.  Not because there are so few, but because they are reticent and don't seek recognition or rewards.   

There are two motivations for people:  fear and love.  Fear motivates us to protect ourselves from threats real or perceived.  Love encourages us to protect others from threats real or perceived.  They coexist and are intricately intertwined.   Not only is some fear healthy, it's necessary for survival.  And indiscriminate love is as ignorant as it is ill fated.  It sets us up to be taken advantage of.

Throughout history, these ideas have been doing battle for power.  Protect ourselves or protect ourselves as a society?  Whenever we make progress as a society, a backlash occurs and we retrogress  to some extent.  This is why history repeats itself.  But, that doesn't discount the growth and advancement of civilization as a whole.   

The thing we should fear the most is feeling disenfranchised.  Because the powerful prey on the disenfranchised. Thus, giving power to whomever sees fit to abuse it.  And some one will.  Some one always does. Just look at the history books.  

RECOMMENDED READING:  On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Magnified


I was reading in my favorite chair in the bedroom when he approached and told me he had a surprise for me and asked me to stand up.  Don't most people get asked to sit down for a surprise?  Was he going to kiss me?  I mean, I know reading Dostoevsky is a huge turn on and all, but in the middle of the day?  With all the kids at home?  That's when he went down to the garage to get some tools. When he came back up, he locked himself in the bathroom where I heard him screwing around.        Then he invited me in.  To see the lighted, magnifying mirror he'd installed.

WTF WAS HE THINKING?

Sure, things had gotten bad over the years.  As my eyesight worsened, I began to need to wear reading glasses to pluck my eye brows.  And while the glasses make it easier for me to see the stray hairs, the frame of the glasses impede my ability to get to them with the tweezers.  I should mention that bathroom lighting is the worst for such a delicate procedure.  Every woman knows that there is only one place where you can see every single outlying brow hair.  And that's in the review mirror of your car.  Which is why I started plucking my brows in my minivan. Which might be why he bought this mirror for me in the first place.  Because it might be embarrassing when the neighbors see your wife walking out to sit in the car parked in the driveway in her pajamas to pluck her eye brows.   

But, have you looked at yourself with a lighted mirror at 5x magnification?  It's horrifying!  You can see every pore, black head, zit, age spot, wrinkle, chin hair and potentially cancerous legion, not to mention my moustache.  Since when do I have a mustache?  Why didn't anyone tell me how hideous I am?  My husband did tell me he originally ordered a mirror with 10x the magnification, but when it arrived broken,  he sent it back and got the more myopic option.  Thank god!  You can probably see the microscopic bugs on your skin with that kind of amplification.  And no one wants to be reminded that we are actually vile, disgusting creatures chock full of bugs and bacteria!  

I really do get that his heart was in the right place.  But really, getting a woman over 40 a magnifying mirror is seriously the worst gift you can give.  It really only magnifies all the things you hate about yourself.  Because that's what mirrors do.  I was better off seeing myself through the filter of my failing vision.  Which looks alot like the soft lighting in that Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds commercial.   

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Unplugged


My relationship with technology can best be described as, "it's complicated".  So when I take an annual camping trip where I know I won't have any cell service, I'm completely elated.  But, also filled with a little dread.  What if something happens to my dad, my oldest kid I left home alone or our dogs in his care, and no one can reach me?  Also, what if someone posts something completely bizarre on my Facebook wall or tags me in a horrible looking photo and it stays up for days before I can delete it?

What'll happen when I'm unplugged?

I'll tell you what happens.  I tune into nature, that's what I do.  Watching the fish jump out of the freshly stocked lake.  Why do fish jump anyhow?  Well, I can't google it, but I bet they're trying to escape because they suspect they're going to get brutally murdered by some guy with a hook.  Then there's all those birds flying in formation like an intricately choreographed flash mob.  How do they all spontaneously know the next move they're going to do like people musicals always do?  All these wonders of nature, drowned out by my kids fighting about whose turn it is in the canoe next.  

Time I would've spent on my phone looking at photos on Instagram, I spent judging other campers.  Like who buys a pastel yellow tent?  It looks like it was meant for a puppet show.  A creepy, stupid puppet show, just to clarify.  Tents are supposed to be classic, neutral shades, like the inside of an Eddie Bauer store.  And what I mean by that is, completely boring.  Also, who brings their own porta potty camping?  The guy across the way from me, that's who.  The only thing worse than using the campground toilet is using one that looks kinda like a shower stall, but with nylon walls that illuminates the silhouette of the shitter who brings a flashlight with him to use it.  I didn't want to know this information, it was thrust upon me.  But, I do want to know who the hell thought that was a good idea and who the hell cleans that shit?  Now, back to the lady in tent the color of a lemon drop who's wearing silk pajamas to bed.  WHO WEARS SILK PAJAMAS?   Does she have a water bed in there too?  Hugh Hefner?  

While over at my campsite, my son brought an MRE from back when my husband was in the army.  Which was over 12 years ago now.  Never mind, that I packed all kinds of fresh food that I painstakingly prepped and cooked on-site, my kid wants a dehydrated, preservative filled meal that was packaged in 1993.  I did not typo that date.  He ate a 24 year old package of chicken and rice, which, I'm sure wasn't even "good" before it expired.  I know it wasn't good when he ate it because he offered me a taste.  And in my defense, I'd already finished the first book I'd brought with me and I'd judged all the surrounding campers, so there wasn't a whole lot left to do.  Except guard the peanut butter from the chipmunks and ground squirrels intent on stealing it from us.  Why aren't ground squirrels allergic to ground nuts like the rest of America is?  I was actually bored enough to google that, if only I had a connection.  But, I probably would have googled how to kill a pesky rodent with the least amount of blood.  Because the blood might attract bears.

The thought of bears did keep me up at night.  Did I put all the food back in the car?  Did I leave the caramel m&m's out on the picnic table?  Wait, did I bring them in my tent to hide them from the kids?  This is how I die.  Attempting to fight off a bear to protect my candy stash.  Sounds about right.  But, that didn't keep me up as long as the incessant owl hooting in the middle of the night.  Which, if you haven't heard an owl hoot in real life, sounds like a person trying to imitate an owl hooting.  And that person won't shut up for like 2 hours.  Finally, when it stopped, that's precisely when porta potty guy started snoring.

The next day, it started raining.  And it didn't stop.  It rained for hours.  Over 20 hours.  You know how the sound of rain makes you feel like you have to pee?  That guys porta potty right next to my camp site started to seem really appealing.  But not as appealing as peeing next to a tree in the rain.  Or in my pants in the tent.  Or getting eaten by a bear.  Although, I hope the bear would see that the lady in the silk pajamas is a much better option than me because she'd go down smoother.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Technohypocrite



I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm technologically illiterate.  The thing is, I'm really pretty disinterested in electronics altogether.  Which is weird for someone who uses them pretty much all day, every day.  Making me a technohypocrite.  In my defense, it's virtually impossible not to be connected in today's over connected world.

I've told myself time and time again that I'm not going to sign-up for anything else that requires a log-in and a password.  Because I can't even remember the ones I have.  But, every time there is some ridiculous reason for me to sign up.  Like it's required by my kids' schools, so I can academically stalk my children.  As if I don't stalk them on social media already.  Adding one more thing to my 'to do' list.

But first, I have to create a log-in that makes sense so I'll remember it.  For instance, ILOVESTALKINGKIDS. But, that may set off some alarm bells for the school administration, like I'm a pedophile or something.  I'd use my real name as the log-in, except the first time I tried to log-in I used it, messed up somehow and now it registers as taken. So now, I have to come up with something really boring, that's probably a lie like Knittingmom.  (I don't knit.)  But, that's already taken. As are most of the other mundane things I've thought of.      

And now I have to make a password that's 10 characters long consisting of 6 letters (at least one of which should be capitalized), 2 numbers and 2 symbols (excluding the < sign, because that might demean the other letters or symbols in front of it, you know...political correctness and all).  Making this a long and infuriating process.

But, it's nothing compared to my battle with the CAPTCHA.  Which is more of a war, that I'm losing.  Maybe I'm not human, because I can't seem to prove to my computer that I'm not a computer.  Seriously, who can read those things?  Even with my reading glasses on, it's like they're written in Klingon or something.  And last time I checked, Klingons aren't human.  Or real.

Don't even get me started on anything that requires a security question. Because it's always some obscure question.  Like:  What elective did you take in the fall of your freshman year of college?   Or:  Who's your favorite Astrophysicist?  And then there's: Where were you when you realized you sold out and your dreams would never come true?  I mean, not only is it depressing as hell to traipse through your past and recount this stuff and divulge it to your computer overlord, but really...who can remember this stuff?  I can barely remember to give my diabetic dog his insulin twice a day!

I would complain about e-mail, but I rarely read them anymore.  Same with group texts.  And for someone who puts so much information on-line with my blog and social media, I'm really skeptical of those discount cards offered by supermarkets. Are they collecting data on me?  Which is totally ridiculously paranoid and hypocritical.  Which is why I use my old phone number for this purpose.  Somewhere, some 70 year old guy with my old land line is getting coupons for tampons and zit cream at the check out.

I guess I have to admit, I love to hate technology.  

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?


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