Monthly Archives: August 2018

I Hope the World is Kind to You

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I Hope the World is Kind to You

Yesterday I took my daughter to the dentist for a cleaning. I’m the type of person who gets into deep conversations with perfect strangers, it’s a gift. Probably an echo from my childhood which involved lots of moves. I had to be outgoing and cut to the chase when making new friends, that trait hasn’t left me.

There were two additional women in the waiting room and we started chatting. The topic was kids, inspired because one of the ladies had an 18 month old fast asleep in her lap. Turns out that was her youngest, her oldest just started college (…in Georgia about 2 hours away from his Grandmother in case you’re wondering. I was glad he was within a reasonable drive to family).

About ten minutes later the woman had to get x-rays. I could see her try to work out what to do with her sleeping toddler so I offered to hold him. The mom reluctantly agreed, I could see the wheels spinning in her brain, weighing the risks. She’s been a patient of the dental practice for 19 years (she had to have wisdom teeth pulled when she was pregnant with her oldest…what can I say, people just tell me stuff) so I think she felt confident that the staff would stop me if I turned out to be a weirdo who snatches kids from waiting rooms. Precious little man barely registered the move.

As I held him I felt my body go into that familiar bouncy sway that consumed my days and nights when my children were little. It becomes an involuntary action, barely registering after a few beats. As I held him, I thought to myself, I hope the world is kind to you little man. Then I had to choke back tears because, this baby was brown and I know that he will struggle is ways I can not fully comprehend.

 

 

Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_stockbroker’>stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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Eighth Grade, a Movie Review

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Eighth Grade, a Movie Review

Tonight I went to see ‘Eighth Grade’ written and directed by Bo Burnham. I went with two eighth graders so naturally I was sitting in a completely different section of the theater by myself with my mom shield around me. No one got within 10 feet of me, the leg room was amazing and I didn’t have to share popcorn, not all bad.

This is a coming-of-age story in a modern setting. Social media, selfies, the isolation of adolescence are portrayed in a poignant and realistic manner. The movie follows the main character, Kayla (played masterfully by Elsie Fischer), through her last week of eighth grade.

A lot of territory is covered in this movie – the slippery slope of acting like you have more experience than you do, the panic of walking into a party, the social hierarchy of middle school, apologizing for things that aren’t your fault and the tension between parents and teens in this phase of life.

The movie is well done and some of the scenes are so realistic you will cringe. The one bit I had a hard time believing was how nice one high school character was portrayed. Another scene riled up the momma bear in me, opportunists are everywhere.

The part that bothered me most though was the active shooter drill and the shelter in place scenes. As a mother of two teens, that was a punch in the gut. Googling blow jobs, practicing on bananas, being around peers that act like assholes, that’s the normal stuff of adolescence, active shooter drills are a new sad necessity.

It was a great movie and provided a lot of opportunities for talking points (once the friend got dropped off). I recommend it for ages 13 and up, not appropriate for younger kids.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_thandra’>thandra / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Demanding to be Seen & Heard While Wrapped in the Cloak of Invisibility

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Demanding to be Seen & Heard While Wrapped in the Cloak of Invisibility

A recent Facebook post in a group for midlife women asked members to comment with their term for the phase in life between ages 45 and 55. For the record, the author of the post prefers midlife meltdown. Up to this point I hadn’t thought of anything original until I read the post and subsequent comments. I let it marinate.

First I reflected on this phase as a work in progress with more self acceptance than prior decades. Some members were elegant – metamorphosis, renewal and awakening were tossed out like flower petals on a soft meadow. One of my favorite responses was the “F*ck it phase”. I gave it some more thought and landed on the title of this post – “Demanding to be Seen & Heard While Wrapped in the Cloak of Invisibility”.

I recently turned 50 so I am in the sweet spot of the poster’s demographic. I find myself balancing opposite ends of the spectrum – acceptance/discontent, reclamation/ surrender, clumsiness/grace. In short, it’s a mixed bag. I am aware of my short comings, of the finite amount of time we all have and yet there is this spark, indeed a renewal of sorts.

In collective society I have become less visible. This happens to women as the radiance of youth is replaced by the fine lines of wisdom. Once the skin suit we inhabit becomes less appealing to the masses, we blend in until we are barely visible.

Here’s an example, our family used to frequent a local restaurant where they immediately recognized us and would (without asking) bring our favorite appetizers. It was our Italian version of Cheers (everyone knew our name). The same people that owned the restaurant also owned a pizzeria. I would stop in from time to time for take out. The owner rarely recognized me when I was by myself. In fact, it happened so often that he actually acknowledged the oversight. I suspect it happened because I wasn’t attractive to the point where I would stand out or unattractive enough to register in this man’s memory without my family to provide cues. I simply blended into the woodwork.

That never happened in my 20’s or 30’s. It’s a jagged pill to swallow especially if you relied on your looks in your youth. I was aware of the perks of being an attractive young woman but I never fully appreciated the power, I miss it.

Like a lot of women, I fell into a bit of a cliché. I was a upwardly mobile career girl who transitioned into a SAHM in my mid 30’s. When my kids were headed toward middle school the internal panic started.

1) What have I done?

You put your family first, not yourself. That bit about putting your oxygen mask on first in the event of an airplane emergency….you didn’t do that. Tsk, tsk, too late to dwell on it.

2) What will I do now?

Should I go back to school? I already have my BA…what industries are hiring? If I spend X amount on education how long will it take to recoup that and do I have time? Will I go back to school, incur debt and be unable to get a job? What contacts do I have from 2003?

This cycle of self-doubt and reflective reasoning is the stuff of insomnia and panic attacks. It’s painful and no one can walk you through it. People can make suggestions and offer guidance but it’s your brain on the hamster wheel at 3am.

3) Will anyone hire me now?

Maybe, maybe not. Another Facebook group of women were recently discussing ageism in job interviews. One women was considering dying her hair because she thought it would help her odds of getting hired. Others try cosmetic surgery, injectables and most shave decades of experience off their resumes to make the math more difficult for a potential employer. Ageism is real, combine that with a large gap of employment and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. I volunteered for a local hospital for 10 years and could not even get an interview for a data entry job. Eventually I started my own business because it was that or retail.

Many of us wake up at some point and wonder all of the “what ifs” and decide some changes need to be made. I’ve noticed this in myself and others, there is a certain burst of energy and creativity that comes at midlife. Whether it’s writing, painting, sculpture or throwing yourself into a charitable cause or activism, ladies tend to get revved up in the middle. I don’t know if it springs from a new well or one that was previously blocked by fear and expectation. I suppose it doesn’t matter because I jumped in without knowing the answer. That has been the gift of this phase, the willingness to dive into previously uncharted waters.

 

 

Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_yuliialypai’>yuliialypai / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Observations from Down Under

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Observations from Down Under

Fresh off the plane from a trip to Australia. Well “fresh” may be the wrong description, zombie-like is more appropriate. We traveled as a group of 21 made up of five families including eight children ages 6 to 15. Our trip included several stops along the eastern coast of Australia. Here are some observations:

Jet lag is the devil

My body and brain are too tired to calculate the math to figure out what time zone my weary body thinks it is in. It is currently Thursday where I reside, it’s Friday in Australia. We traveled back to the states on a Monday which means we had two Mondays back-to-back. Mondays suck the first time around, they don’t improve with an instant repeat.

Jet Lag + PMS = Apocalyptic Meltdown. I’d rather not discuss how I acquired this knowledge.44724555_s.jpg

A jet-lagged version of myself with a touch of the Australian Plague. Sadly my hair did not look this good in Sydney, hard water.

Proper toilet use

Apparently there’s more than one way to use a toilet and it isn’t as intuitive as I thought. This was made clear by a consistent display of diagrams showing the dos and don’ts in female toilets across Eastern Australia. Oh and for those that are wondering about the circular direction of toilet water being flushed, the jury is still out. All of the toilets I encountered used a method of front & back water flushing action so the counter clockwise debate remains a mystery. For the record, the flush mechanism was superior to that in the USA.

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Two buttons give you the option for a moderate flush on the left or serious business on the right.

 

Baggage

We all have baggage issues. A few in our group got over zealous packing for the trip. I think one person had at least seven pairs of shoes and he had big feet. Big feet equals heavy shoes, that’s all I’m trying to imply. They were over the weight limit for every domestic flight we took and paid dearly for it $$$. I had another problem. My suitcase was intact when we flew from Sydney to the Gold Coast. Upon arrival, it looked like a dingo ate it.

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Exhibit A: A dingo leaving the scene of the crime.

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Exhibit B: My suitcase upon arrival.

Kangaroos & Koalas

Two images that come to mind when someone mentions Australia are kangaroos and koalas. I am happy to say we saw both in our travels. The good news/bad news on these creatures….

Good news – They are mostly docile and have soft fur. That said I didn’t encounter the “Big Red” variety of roo which I hear are quite intimidating. I met the soft, smallish, fluffy kangaroos that have been hand fed by humans their entire lives. These were more like pets than wild animals. They were free to roam around and eat as much kibble as their bellies could hold. When they grew tired of people they could hop back to the Kangaroo Rest Area where kangaroos could enter and people were forbidden. It was wildly popular with the roos.

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Feed me human.

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This is the roo hand signal for – “OH FFS human I can’t eat another bite.”

 

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Residents of the rest area. The ones in the back look shady to me.

I saw a kangaroo crossing sign along the side of the road. Sadly, I was not able to get a photo of it but I found a better one (note the skis) –

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Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_bennymarty’>bennymarty / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The koalas were pretty mellow. They reminded me of Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, they all looked really wasted. My kids each got to hold one and they said the koalas were softer than they expected. I’d post pictures but they’re teens so naturally they would kill me.

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Bad News –  The koala my son held pooped in his hand which explains the “dafuq” look on his face in the photo I can’t show you. Apparently that happens a lot. Our friend who planned the trip informed us that koalas do three things: eat, sh*t and shag. His greatest wish is to be reincarnated as a koala next go-round. If his wish is granted, he will likely have a raging case of chlamydia. All that shagging has it’s consequences and those furry sluts are not immune. Seriously, nearly all wild koalas have chlamydia.

More bad news…kangaroos are considered pests by some in Australia. In fact about a million of them are culled each year in an effort to slow crop damage and car accidents. I assume this is where some entrepreneurs get the kangaroo bits to sell to tourists. There were kangaroo balls and paws (which look remarkably like hands) for sale as souvenirs. Australia is deeply divided regarding this practice. I didn’t buy any of those items. Kangaroo also was featured on many restaurant menus and I was informed that it tasted like a beef steak.

The People

The people we encountered were great, all courteous and helpful. One bus driver in particular had a delightful sense of humor (Rated R). They all said perfect (pronounced PuuurFECT), superb and brilliant. They smiled when they spoke and made direct eye contact, it was refreshing.

When we got home my daughter discovered that she left a beloved stuffed animal behind. This bunny is dear to my daughter because it is wearing a bandana that belonged to her grandfather who passed away in May. We determined which location it was likely left at and I sent an email. Sure enough they found it. I even asked for a photo of the bunny to make sure it was the right one (proof of life) before I paid for shipping. They complied and I’m happy to say that bunny is home bound which is just puuurFECT.