Category Archives: First World Problems

Rough Start…

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Rough Start…

I recently returned from a cruise along the Baltic Sea. This is not a trip I ever intended to take, it wasn’t even on my trip radar. When my niece told me in February that she took a job as a vocalist on a ship, the itinerary suddenly became irresistible. Bonus, her longtime boyfriend also got a gig on the ship as a dancer. Oh to be twenty-something with remarkable talents…

My husband could not take two weeks off from work so he planned a shorter trip with our son closer to home in Nova Scotia. So it was just my daughter and me on the cruise. The itinerary was intense – 6 ports in 11 days plus Copenhagen where we got on/off the ship.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Stockholm (Nynashamn), Sweden

Helsinki, Finland

St. Petersburg, Russia (2 days)

Tallinn, Estonia

Berlin (Warnemunde) Germany

Oslo, Norway

The main reason I was on the ship, to the see the production shows that included my niece, Peanut, and her boyfriend…we’ll call him Special K. There were four production shows during the cruise – Sweet Motown, Bravo, Fiera! and Born to Dance.

Peanut and I planned to meet for lunch in Nyhavn. I mapped out the Metro station, printed out walking directions (no international cellular so I knew I would be off the grid upon landing) and planned our arrival to the ship together. Well that didn’t happen :(. Instead my carefully planned lunch date in Copenhagen was replaced with 2 1/2 hours on the tarmac at JFK waiting to take off. This is one of the most first world problems you could ever have so I moved on.

When my daughter and I landed in Copenhagen we were greeted with a YUGE line to get through passport control. I had visions of missing the ship entirely. Yes, cruise addicts I know I should have flown over the day before but the trip was expensive and I felt guilty that the hubs and son weren’t with us so I didn’t want to extend it. Rookie mistake.

Now I don’t often cut in line but when I do, it’s at the Copenhagen airport to avoid missing the ship. My apologies to the 732 people that were ahead of me. In my defense, I didn’t realize I was cutting the line until I got to the front of it and then I was like – I can’t go back there (at least a 1/2 mile to get to the end of the line). While I was standing near the front, getting my bearings and trying to determine the best course of action, the Line Gods smiled upon me and they opened up a new lane. So did I actually cut or did I just have the good fortune to be standing near where a new lane opened? (Makes the sign of the cross, whispers “I’m sorry” towards the heavens)

All of my line cutting assholery was of no use toward getting our luggage that took a solid hour. At this point it’s 2:30pm need to be at port by 5pm, I’m not panicking, plenty of time. We get outside to another line, taxis this time, 20 deep but moving quick, easy peasy. We get into our taxi, a sweet ride – Tesla, Model S possibly 2018, didn’t ask. Steel gray exterior, interior was black leather with red trim, Gaw-Gee-Us! Should be at the ship within an hour, no problemo. Until…

When we get to the center of Copenhagen I notice a lot of people, drinking champagne and whooping it up. Turns out it’s Pride weekend and the place is packed. So packed in fact, that we encountered an unusual amount of closed avenues. As we crawled our way through the crowded streets, fare ticking up, up and away, I tried to enjoy the only glimpse of Copenhagen I would get outside of the airport. There were a lot of good looking men, I mean really good looking. I don’t normally notice men, I’m in married auto-pilot so when I notice a guy, it’s rare. I saw three outrageously handsome dudes in the span of 20 minutes, never happens. Then I remember, Pride, well that makes sense.

This cab ride is supposed to take 40 minutes, it took 90. The cost was double what I had anticipated but we made it to the ship on time! I didn’t take a picture of the outrageously handsome men because I respected their privacy (momentarily stunned and couldn’t get to the phone in time). I did however, take the obligatory bicycle photo from a slow moving vehicle (featured photo).

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Another crappy photo – this one taken from the bus on the way to the airport to go home. The masses really do commute by bicycle.

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Cheese for the Win!

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Cheese for the Win!

I had to take Blanche to the vet today. For those that don’t know, Blanche is the made up name of my real dog. Things are top secret here at my blog and one can’t be too careful. Getting Blanche to go to the vet is a bit of an ordeal. The problems start when I try to get her in my car. Usually a couple of treats do the trick.

Me (Attempting fake enthusiasm, comes off like a Kindergarten teacher with a massive hangover): Come on Blanche you can do it!

Blanche: Nope

Me: Come on girl, there are two treats in here (holds up a treat, then pats the back of the SUV).

Blanche (yawns, turns head in opposite direction)

Me: Get in here!

Blanche (walks away)

Me (Mutters “bitch”, goes inside. Announces to the hubs that we are at DEFCON Level 3)

Hubs: Want me to get her in there? I can do it, want me to show you?

(For the record, my husband thinks he can do EVERYTHING better than me or anyone else. Most of the time he can, I’m just not interested in his 30 minute tutorial on the perfect inflection to coax the dog into my vehicle. We also have 12 minutes to get to an appointment which is 10 minutes away. So visualize your favorite meme for “Ain’t nobody got time for that!)

Me: No. I know how you do it and I can’t muster up the fake enthusiastic voice. I’m going in for cheese.

Blanche: Did someone say cheese?

Me: (Tosses cheese in the back of the SUV) Get your ass in the car.

Blanche: Alright

It should be noted that Blanche is a 90 pound mutt who turns into a kangaroo dog as soon as we pass the threshold at the vet’s office. I don’t mean one of those cute docile kangaroos that you can actually pet in Australia…no she turns into big red, the roo that will knock your teeth out and put you in a coma. She has a smile on her face the entire time and I’m just blocking the blows like I’m in the ring with Tyson circa 1986. I don’t come out of these visits unscathed, I’m scratched up and broke by the time we leave.

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This is Big Red’s Tinder profile pic.

Fortunately there were no other animals in the waiting area when we arrived. I try to speak to the receptionist while my kangaroo-gorilla-dog bounces up and down like Tigger on cocaine. My eyes convey a cry for help and they usher us to the scale. I find this amusing because 1) It’s my least favorite part of going to the doctor myself. Does anyone like getting weighed in a public space? 2) Getting Blanche to stay still on the scale is worse than trying to get her in the car. It’s like threading a needle with overcooked spaghetti. After several attempts we agree on a number and get directed to an examination room.

Blanche proceeds to lose her ever loving mind in the room when it’s just the two of us. I can only image what the office staff thinks is happening in here. Furniture is being moved, the scraping sound of dog nails on the linoleum…I may have said calm your tits a little too loud. After an infinity a vet and a technician came in to administer her shots and do the exam.

My dog, crazy as she is, becomes surprisingly compliant during the exam. She doesn’t bark, growl or show any indication of her big red ways when there are witnesses. Leaving the staff to think I must enjoy rearranging office furniture while speaking curtly to my dog when no one else is in the room. She got her shots, threw some punches (at me) and we got out of there for the mere cost of a car payment.

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Blanche showing off her lady beard. She resembles a Dr. Seuss creation.

It Burns!

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It Burns!

Midlife has a way of saying f*ck you on a daily basis. Today I woke up and the right side of my neck hurts, bad. Don’t know why, perhaps I slept on it wrong, angered the midlife Gawds, total mystery. I recently gave up sugar for Lent and I’m pretty sure I’ve gained weight (dafuq?). I’m not trying to stop the age train, I would like to slow it down.

If you’re like me, you still have kids at home and at least one elderly relative to check in on. Midlife is a balancing act on all fronts. Drifting away from our younger years and aware that things will likely deteriorate at some point. There’s a constant stream of advertising that comes your way via mail, telemarketing calls and those damn pop up ads that have a direct connection to my thoughts (Minority Report anyone?). The general message is you’re getting old, no need to look that way, we can fix it!

The messaging isn’t subtle. The day you turn 50 I guarantee AARP will send you something to acknowledge it and say “join us, we’re going to age gracefully with vigor like some Stepford midlifer”, it’s implied. Step off AARP, I’m not interested. In my brain I think I look 35, the mirror on the other hand, tells a different story. Today I went for another consultation to see about minimizing the bags that have taken up residency under my eyes. If you follow my blog (and thank you if you do), you may remember another recent consultation Work it (or Not)

I arrived at Les Crap of Zee Bull (not the actual name, it was equally French and fancy) eager to see what non surgical options could fix this mess. I was whisked upstairs to the waiting salon by a 20 something staff member. She did the obligatory model hand wave toward the refreshment table and promptly got me a questionnaire to fill out. I may have lied about my weight on the form, that is classified and it’s going to the grave with me. I filled out the form and waited.

While I was waiting I noticed a client who was sitting across the room with an ice pack on her face, she may have been writhing in pain or perhaps she had to pee. There was a water wall in front of me which made me think there was no way I could afford this place. I texted my friend Kristy about the water wall and she suggested that it was there to muffle the screams. She attended a prestigious university and studied science so maybe she’s on to something.

After a few minutes of listening to the melodious splash I had an urge to go. On the way to the bathroom I walked past a ginormous advertisement which proudly displayed several large photos of before and after ass pictures. In that moment I was grateful that I didn’t have an issue with my backside because the idea of having my before and after ass on display was a little too much to bare (intentional typo calm down grammar nerds).

Things didn’t improve in the bathroom. Everything was fine until I went to wash my hands. I got some soap and waved my hand under the faucet, nothing happened. I did the magic wand wave a few more times, approaching from different angles, adjusting the speed in the hopes that water would be released, nope. I looked at the faucet for clues, nothing emerged, it just stared back at me with a steely gaze, unyielding. There were no handles, no sensors, nothing obvious. After approximately 90 seconds of me waving hands frantically and muttering  “Oh for f*ck sake!” repeatedly, I figured it out. The cube at the top of the faucet pushed up to release water. I did have to chant (thanks for that tip Paul) and wiggle my ears while simultaneously applying enormous pressure in an upward motion to get it to work. Nevertheless, I emerged with an empty bladder and clean hands.

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Sure it looks simple enough. Trust me without the chanting, ear wiggling and upward motion, total desert.

A few minutes after that ridiculousness, I was ushered into an exam room by a pleasant middle aged woman with a stylish hair cut and cute glasses. Did I mention that I came from the gym so I was sweaty, potentially smelly, not even a hint of make up and my hair was dripping with sweat? My new friend put down a cloth barrier on the chair that I was later guided to sit on. I’d like to think they do that for all the clients….in retrospect, I’m not so sure. I was also told to remove my hat which was providing shelter for my sweaty pony tail so you know, sexy as hell.

She asked me why I was there and I told her. A few minutes later a nurse practitioner came in the room and asked the same questions I just answered. She gave me a hand held mirror to hold while she pressed on various parts of my face to demonstrate how fillers could possibly help. The lighting in there wasn’t doing me any favors, I felt like a vampire seeing the sun for the first time, it burns! Let’s just say the nurse was honest, brutally honest. The take away was “Honey, we can’t fix that. Go back to the surgeon or else you’ll waste gobs of money and be miserable.” So, that went well at least it was a free consultation – free of dignity, confidence, pride, ego, totally free. I may just get a stylish hair cut and some cute glasses.

 

 

Summer Camp

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Summer Camp

I went to summer camp once when I was a kid and it was subsidized. We drove 45 minutes each way on a school bus with a bunch a screaming lunatics. You had to watch your back and guard your lunch or you wouldn’t eat that day beyond the off brand stale snacks they gave out. I’m so glad I clawed my way out of poverty so I can eat real Oreos and not those sad Hydrox second rate cookies.

My kids have each gone to a variety of summer camps – soccer, chess, YMCA, a drone academy, tech school, improv comedy and cow camp. Cow camp is quite special, this summer will be my daughter’s 4th year. We basically pay an exorbitant amount of money to have her work on a dairy farm for a week. She partners up with a friend (because they’re suckers too) and the two girls get assigned to a calf for the week that they attend camp. They groom the calf, walk the calf on a lead and review the basics of showing livestock. They also spend a day in the milking barn. The place smells like sour milk and cow sh*t but my girl loves it and it’s the most effective way to pry a phone out of her hand.

My husband gets annoyed paying for this working farm camp and he suggested we start a “Housecleaning Camp.” Naturally we would charge the parents an outrageous sum of money to send their kids to our house to learn proper cleaning. My husband would have to teach it because I’m not qualified. It sure would be nice to earn some cash and get the house cleaned. I’m currently drafting a business plan and I intend to franchise.

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Last year my daughter attended cow camp with a very good friend who shares her sense of humor. They told me what they wanted to name their calf and I thought it was funny. I posted about it on Facebook:

“Informal Poll – If your kid went to a dairy farm camp and they (along with a friend) decided to name their cow “Burger” would that be considered funny or disturbing? Asking for a friend…”

Most of my FB friends thought it was funny. Except one person who wrote this:

“Are they prepared to butcher and eat it? That would be the difference between ‘’for real/funny’’ and ‘removed/callous.’ If my kid were in the first category, I would be immensely proud because I think we all need to own our sh*t, and as a parent and teacher, our kids NEVER own their sh*t because we have failed and created ‘snowflakes in climate change’!”

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Woah lady, slow down.This is supposed to be a light-hearted post. No she isn’t going to butcher a dairy calf for food, that WOULD be wrong. Plus she is only kind of leasing the calf for a very specific time period. That calf will be working with two more suckers campers next week. I can’t imagine what that bill would be not to mention the psychological trauma for all involved.

And with that the levity and humor was sucked out of my post. I know the person who wrote that and I like her, I still do. I pointed out that it is a dairy cow so that eliminates the meat aspect. It kept nagging at me though so I decided to put it under my mental microscope to take a look.

Use of NEVER is non starter for me. I point out my kids’ errors on a daily basis. I don’t consider myself a maker of snowflakes but perhaps that is like the crazy person who can’t see their crazy. To say someone NEVER does something would actually take some serious effort at consistency. Doesn’t apply, let it fly.

Then I focused on the term callous and that’s what got under my skin like a splinter you can’t quite get regardless of the tweezers and incessant picking. Then I came to the realization that my kid needs to be a little calloused. The fact that she is showing some grit in a humorous way actually puts us in the plus column.

And then I found this T-shirt:81Lyxlyn9iL._UL1500_.jpgWe tried drone camp for the first time last summer. My son is mechanically inclined and he likes to fly drones so we decided to give it a try. There aren’t that many camps that interest a 14 year old dude. I got a super creepy vibe off the owner when I walked in on the first day. There were just a handful of people signed up including a mother and her two kids. The fact that a mom was there gave me some comfort.

This was a one week camp and I stayed within a 5 minute drive while my kid was there. I usually sat in the parking lot for the 2 hour sessions. Each day I would hear about some sexist (toward the mom and daughter) remarks or other inappropriate comments hurled at the helpers by the owner.

The owner, Mr. Yaya (a solidly fake name), would verbally abuse the help, who had the misfortune of also being his stepsons. He would say stuff like “they’re white on the outside but yellow on the inside,” Whaaat?!. One time I watched an argument between Yaya and one of his stepsons. Yaya was yelling at the kid saying “don’t tell me how to run my business” as I’m walking toward the building. Awkward.

On the last day of camp Yaya announced that he was going to Maine. I mentioned that we had gone to Bar Harbor in June. Yaya proceeded to tell us why he hated Bar Harbor and how only stupid people go there. Apparently, Bar Harbor gets far too crowded for Yaya, he isn’t really a people person (shocking because he is so damn charming). The icing on this weird cake was that my son built a drone during the camp but he wasn’t permitted to keep it. Basically another pay-to-work camp. I’m thinking we will skip drone camp next year.

 

Panic at the Escape Room

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Panic at the Escape Room

I recently took a group of teenage girls out for pizza and an escape room experience. The outing was to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. She’s had to deal with some adversity this past year – the deaths of two grandfathers, a falling out of previously close friends and the hormonal angst of being female in an adolescent body. Eight grade is out to destroy everyone and no one gets out unscathed. I try not to fret about it too much. I constantly remind myself that grit doesn’t grow on a sunny beach, it grows in a dark, lonely, painful place.

I started to have anxiety about her birthday in the wee hours before dawn. Somewhere around 3am my brain decided to obsessively worry if someone would decorate her locker at school. I realize what a luxury problem that is, I was raised by an alcoholic mother and had a deadbeat dad, a decorated locker wasn’t in my orbit in middle school. First world problems be damned, my mind just wouldn’t let it go.

My daughter and I have made at least a dozen trips to the local drugstore to purchase candy and decorations for various girls in her grade. My girl makes a point to celebrate everyone’s birthday. She even decorates for half birthdays for the friends that have summer birthdays when school is closed. She’s logged significant hours on this little project and I was concerned that she might get forgotten since she is usually the organizer. Like the mom who bakes her own birthday cake because no one else will, for the record I haven’t done that but I know women that do. I have purchased flowers to cheer myself and have made my own chicken soup when I got sick. It’s empowering to take care of yourself. Decorating your own locker would just be weird. I did hand over a king size candy bar in the morning and noted that I would have attached them to her locker if that was allowed. I got some serious eye roll for my troubles.

I worried for nothing, her friends showed some big love. My daughter came home with Halloween-level bags of candy – Kisses, M & Ms, Reese’s, Kit Kats – it was Candy Palooza! They put streamers on the row of lockers which flanked hers, there were balloons, pictures, memes, there may have been a parade, it was magical! The only bummer was one of her closest friends couldn’t make the event due to a weekend away which could not be rescheduled.

Driving your kids and their friends around is the best way to learn about them. I try to keep my mouth shut and just listen, not my first inclination. My daughter likes EMO (for the old people, that is a genre of rock music which leans heavy into emotional expression and yes I had to Google it ’cause I’m old too). Her choices were vetoed and they started playing songs from Seussical.

Horton Hears A Who

I tried not to laugh excessively as the theater nerds in the car sang their hearts out while my daughter had a FFS look on her face. It was priceless. Before you could say “Break a leg!” we were parked and headed in for pizza. I got them all pizza and seated myself at a table for two on the opposite end of the room. Shortly after I was settled in, I got a text from my daughter “love you momma”. Ahhh, I replied with the usual emoji’s – kissy face and double hearts. A few minutes later I got another text – That was Xxxxx. Punk got me, I may have yelled “You Suck!” from across the pizza dinning room, maybe.

An hour later we were on our way down the block to go to an escape room. My daughter picked out the scariest possible scenario because that’s who she is. One friend was petrified so I opted to stay with her and watch the remaining girls try to think their way out of the room via a monitor.

This room included a prisoner who was supposed to be foreboding instead he was a cornucopia of clues and helpful hints. “No, not that key”, “Turn it the other way”, “Listen to the tape again”…..this man was desperate for these girls to “escape” so he could move on with his own life. One of the clues required that a Nerf dart gun be used to hit a specific target. My daughter was so bad at this that the inmate was actually handing her the darts to improve her odds. Imagine Hannibal Lector trying to assist six teenage girls with a task for 50 minutes when everyone is taking turns giggling and screaming “shut up” at each other. I’m sure he was ready for some Chianti by the time we finished. They got out in 53 minutes and that man earned every penny of his pay.

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What he wanted to say: Oh FFS girls, look under the compass. The compass, it’s circular has a glass dome top with N, E, W, S inscribed…..I’m guessing none of you were ever in the Girl Scouts. No I don’t want a smoky eye tutorial. Are you even paying attention?

I drove all the girls home and later that night I went to my daughter’s bedroom. She had a great birthday and she loved her presents – mostly nods to Panic at the Disco and My Chemical Romance, her two favorite bands. One friend included some sarcastic buttons in the gift mix. This is my favorite –

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I happen to be good friends with the mother of the girl who gifted this to my daughter. She gets our humor.

So while I can pat myself on the back for a successful outing I must also call myself out for a gift faux pas. In my haste to purchase EMO ‘merch’ (that’s short for merchandise, or so I’ve been told via audible eye roll)…I purchased a sweatshirt that is wildly inappropriate. I’ve given in on the excessively ripped jeans fad however, my daughter will not be wearing her new MCR sweatshirt to school. It has this on the front:

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Not really sure how I missed the gun border on this. My eyes aren’t what they used to be and it was one of those late night Amazon purchases. We all have to live with those regrets from time to time…of course it wasn’t Prime, that would be too easy. So once again a parental victory is leveled by a parental fail and isn’t that the way.