Category Archives: Friends

The Show Must Go On

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The Show Must Go On

A couple of years ago I thought – Wouldn’t it be fun to host a variety show to raise some money for the school district. I’m not sure what part of my brain thought I could pull this off but other people encouraged me and the idea moved forward.

Suddenly I’m working as a PR person, casting director and stage manager. Let’s be clear, I am not remotely qualified for any of those jobs and yet, there we were. I had two things going for me – the President of the Ed Fund (Prez) and the School District Superintendent (SI). Without their help it would have been a complete disaster. Even with their help, we barely averted a catastrophe.

Prez and I spent a lot of time hosting auditions and just figuring the whole thing out. Neither one of us did anything like this before and it required a significant amount of sweat equity. About two months before the show we decided to get a professional jazz quartet to be our headliner. The cost would be divided among four volunteers.

Things were starting to fall into place, press releases were sent out, a coherent schedule was coming together and ticket sales were brisk. About a week before the show we were informed we couldn’t have full use of the stage and the jazz quartet got another gig that night. Dafug?!

We got the stage cleared and shifted the schedule around to have the quartet open instead of close the show. Ok, we got this. We held rehearsal two days before the show and it was a complete disaster. The acts showed up at random times, the sound guys were having technical difficulties, total chaos ensued. I really thought this would end poorly with some expert level public humiliation.

We trudged forward. The next night Prez and I worked with the sound guys to get the order of the show finalized with lights and sound. We stayed until midnight to make sure everything was set for the next day. By the way, the sound guys were two high school students who were also donating their time. I can’t even tell you how much respect I have for their work ethic. We bribed them with food, rides and gift cards. The show would not go on without them.

The day of the show was finally here. I went to my daughter’s basketball game in the morning and was talking with a good friend of mine, another mom in the district. She asked if I was nervous. I told her that I was a little, but at that point we had done everything we could to make it a success so I just hoped for the best.

Our Superintendent was going to emcee the show with a member of the faculty. Two hours before the show he got a text saying that the other gentleman could not attend because he fell down the stairs that morning. I requested proof of the injuries. I saw a photo, sure enough the guy was busted up. I tucked that one away in case I need to get get out of some future event. I’ve got three sets of stairs in my house, it could happen.

We decided to have the show again the following year. It was easier than the first year because we had some idea of what we were doing. We were better organized, a little more confident and things were going smoother than the first show.

The show is held in the high school auditorium. We are guests of the school and need to respect the rules of use. There is an elevated stage and two pianos on each side of the area in front (not on) the stage. Last year I had a parent insist that one of the pianos be moved for his son’s act.

Stage Dad: Excuse me, who is in charge of this show?

SC: I guess that would be me and Prez.

Stage Dad: We need to move that piano to the stage.

SC: I’m sorry, we can’t do that. It’s stationary, trying to move it would be risky and would likely put it out of tune.

Stage Dad: No this is unacceptable it has to be moved! No offense but I’m going to need to speak with someone higher up.

SC: Oh you mean the person who signs my checks? Sure, oh wait a minute…I forgot I don’t get paid. You can discuss it with the Superintendent.

This year will be our third event and I won’t even be there. In true cringe fashion, I realized I had a date conflict while sitting in a recent event planning meeting. I was looking at a flyer for the show and my brain was trying to sort out why the date seemed familiar, oh that’s right I will be out of town. Keep in mind I helped pick the date of the show, yay me! We tried to change the date but the auditorium isn’t available so I guess I’ll miss it (no stairs required).

 

 

*Featured Image Sketch by Lisa McMillen http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

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The Man on the Bed

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The Man on the Bed

I made a new friend yesterday, his name is Lenny and he’s 85. He happens to be dying of lung cancer but we didn’t talk much about that. I went to visit him as a hospice volunteer. Lenny’s house is a treasure trove of art and dust. His room smells like urine and his clothes are in a pile on the floor near his bed. If you can look past that, you are rewarded with art from several cultures and genres.

Soon after I arrived I noticed a copy of “The Man on the Bed” painting. This painting was created by Robert M for the December 1955 Grapevine (an Alcoholics Anonymous publication). I commented on the painting and informed my new friend that I was sober 35 years though I don’t go to meetings anymore. Lenny also got sober in the 80’s and attends 6 – 10 meetings a week.

The man is on oxygen and has a catheter and it doesn’t stop him. We joked about the car he drives which happens to be a Ford Escape and we decided it was the perfect name for his vehicle. Indeed he is escaping every time he leaves the house. For an hour or so he is welcomed into a warm room full of people he is fond of, embracing the humanity of it as a respite from the confines of his bed.

We talked a lot about Lenny’ s life, he’s had a fascinating life. He was born in Copenhagen in 1934. He spent his childhood in institutions as he was abandoned by his parents. His country was under German occupation during World War II when he was a child. He has vivid memories of interacting with German soldiers as a young boy. He recalled one memory when he was affectionately picked up by a German soldier and placed in the sidecar of a Zundap motorcycle which had a machine gun attached to it.

He never sat in a traditional classroom, he taught himself to read by working out the captions under illustrations. He has always been drawn to art and artists. He credits his time at the Summerhill School in Suffolk England for encouraging his creativity. He described it as a free range approach to education, no classroom required.

He became a mason apprentice at 14 and got his Mason Certificate and Union Book four years later. He traveled the world through his trade and spent time in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Greenland and Australia. He came to the USA in 1963, he arrived on old freighter which was riddled with bullet holes. He disembarked in Hoboken, New Jersey and got his green card.

We didn’t spend a lot of time talking about his three marriages. He did tell me that each of his wives was wonderful and that the blame for failure was his alone. He had four children and two died from overdoses. We didn’t dwell on it, he took the blame for that as well. He told me he was a lousy father, not at all present for his children when they were growing up. Three decades of sobriety has a way of smoothing out the rough edges of self acceptance.

Sometimes you need to spend time with the dying to fully appreciate living. I can’t wait to visit my new friend again.

Moms Club

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Moms Club

We were living in a shore town in central New Jersey when I had my son. I purchased the house five years prior when I was single and wasn’t worried about the school district or extra storage space. It was two blocks from the beach with easy access to New York City. That was the selling point; location, location, location. Now that our family was growing our priorities shifted.

We found a house in Pennsylvania which was just over border from New Jersey. Still a reasonable drive for relatives, better property taxes, an excellent school district and closets galore. We kept the beach house because we thought we could rent it out and we weren’t ready to sell it.

At this time our son was seven months old and I was still struggling to find my groove as a mom. I made a few mom friends at the beach house but I knew we were moving so I kept it casual. I missed the camaraderie of working friends, adult conversation…some shred of personal identity. When we moved to Pennsylvania, I was determined to join a Moms Club and get involved.

Within a week of moving I was scheduled to go to my first meeting. I hoped the desperation didn’t ooze out of me like sweat, I was in dire straights. I’m sure I spent more time figuring out what to wear than some people spend getting ready for the prom. This was important. So for the first time in months I wore makeup, did my hair and dressed like someone who could pass for an adult.

There were only a few moms in attendance. In my mind, they were all smarter, prettier, better educated and had gobs more confidence than me. Two of them became close friends, Amy and Trish. Amy had a daughter and Trish had a son – all three of our babies were born within a week of each other. We spent the better part of the next two years together. We got ourselves through that crunch time before preschool when, unless you have “help” your kid is glued to you all day, every day. (I didn’t have a lot of help)

When our babies were turning one, Amy announced that she was pregnant. I congratulated her and promptly said something cringey – “Better you than me sistah!” Amy laughed, her angel baby slept through the night. I was still dreaming of Tylenol PM and four straight hours of sleep.

About a week later and several discussions about how stressful Amy’s life would get once Baby #2 arrived, I found out I was pregnant. This was not in the PLAN! My husband and I weren’t against having another baby, it was just risky business given how scary the first delivery was… and I still wasn’t sleeping on the regular.

I gained almost 50 pounds in my first pregnancy and on my son’s first birthday, I was within 3 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited about that, it took A LOT of work. Prior to becoming pregnant I was the skinny chick. I always exercised regularly and ate well, so it wasn’t some genetic gift and I was afraid of getting huge again.

The trio of moms with babies took turns hosting play-dates. I would always bust my ass to keep the house in some kind of presentable order when they were coming over. My natural tendencies lean toward hoarder meets a tornado, so it took effort. We would all put out snacks for ourselves and the kids. I had an old greyhound at the time named Scooby. I remember one time in particular, I was hosting when Trish busted Scooby eating from the cheese tray.

I also took my son to weekly activities including, a variation of mommy & me music. It consisted of sitting in a large circle with other moms and their babies. We would sing awful songs, play toy instruments (Jimmy Fallon style except we sucked)  and humiliate ourselves through some form of interpretive dance.

Dear Gawd I don’t know how many hours I lost to this activity. I was desperate for company and my son seemed to like it. One time I was running late and got a speeding ticket. Here I am visibly pregnant with a toddler in the back seat getting pulled over for speeding. What kind of a weirdo is so desperate to get to mommy & me music that they get a speeding ticket. Um, me. To add insult to injury I needed to haul my pregnant ass into traffic court to get the fine reduced (speeding points are the devil).

At some point I switched from music class to an activity at the YMCA. I was in the beginning of my second trimester and I waddled around the gym floor trying to keep pace with my son.This is where I made a new friend named Kristy. Her son was a couple of months older than mine. Her family had recently moved from New York. She was soon folded into our little mom club and our trio of moms became a quartet.

What a gift it was to have these women in my life. Such a comfort to have friends I could depend on, peers for my son to play with and memories to be made. We had many adventures together in that early phase of parenthood. Sometimes it was a walk in town or along the canal. Other days we would meet at a destination like the zoo, the beach or a children’s museum. These people saved me from a postpartum depressive spiral and I don’t think I could ever properly thank them for that.

An Accidental Stay at Home Mom

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An Accidental Stay at Home Mom

My plan, our plan, THE plan was that I would go back to work after our son was born. I took three months maternity leave and after two weeks of being back on the job, I got laid off. I worked for a software company at the time and all of the Project Managers were “let go.” Wow that was a lot to wrap my head around, now what??? I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM).

Honestly, I was scared. Financially we could swing it (thank you husband) but mentally the idea of not working was completely foreign to me. I hadn’t considered it before, it wasn’t in the plan. This wasn’t a choice, it was an unexpected circumstance. I worked most of my life up to that point, from the time I was 16 until I got laid off at 35 and there were several years that I worked multiple jobs. Before I was legally old enough to work, I worked.  I raked leaves, shoveled snow, cleaned, weeded, babysat…I hustled.

 

 

I was raised by a single mom and we were broke. I worked because I needed to if I wanted anything beyond the absolute necessities. Through observation, I took in many lessons from my single mother. She always said things like “don’t become a secretary” and the not always verbal but always present and paramount life lesson – don’t depend on a man. Well damn, now I have a 3 month old baby and no J-O-B and a husband OK with me staying home.

The medical complications of my pregnancy and necessary follow up also had a profound effect on me. Part of me was just happy to be alive. I had to talk myself through the not working thing. I questioned myself, if this was my last day on earth, how would I want to spend it? Working some random job or taking care of my baby.Truth be told I did send out some resumes but it was a half-hearted attempt. I could not justify making a choice to work and leaving child care up to someone else a big chunk of the time, simply because I HAD a choice. It’s a different game entirely if it isn’t a choice, I get that.

It didn’t take long to see some hostility between SAHM and working moms…my theory is guilt. Only my theory based on my own experience not a universal truth so calm down…your theory may kick my theory’s ass at recess…I don’t really care.  I had guilt as a SAHM because I was used to being financially independent and I had to constantly tell myself it’s OK, it’s best for the family (and it was best for us).

It was still hard to shake the guilt because of the lessons my mom taught me growing up. I was falling short by depending on a man. I think working moms feel guilt because they don’t see their kids as much. It’s just a hard frickan’ job whether or not you work outside the home.

I had to step away from my practical, always working self and do something completely different from what I had carefully planned. Sorry atheists…but for me being a SAHM was an act of faith. You see at that time between the health issues, unexpected unemployment, moving and other changes…I really felt like the universe was telling me to stay home, so I did. Honestly it is not something I did gracefully. It was out of necessity and circumstances that were bigger than me.

A week or so after my son’s first birthday, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. This was unexpected. After the complications of my first delivery, my husband and I were a little scared. We “planned” on having one child. We were wrong. So one and done became two and through with lots of monitoring of my high-risk pregnancy.

Knowing what to look out for in the second pregnancy was helpful but it didn’t alleviate all of my fears. There were weeks when my husband traveled internationally and it was just me and our son. My fear was that I would throw a blood clot which would incapacitate me and my son would be the only one around. It was not an irrational fear.

Late in my second pregnancy, we were having a New Year’s Day dinner at my mother and father in-laws house. My sister in-law and her family were there as well. My husband was joking about some minor health issue he had. I laughingly said something like – “Sure you get a man cold, meanwhile, I’m throwing blood clots like a pitcher in the Major Leagues” – something stupid and yet (cue the the creepy music) prophetic.

The next day I felt that familiar dull ache behind my knee and I called my OBGYN. This time she had me go directly to the Maternity Ward at the hospital and did the ultrasound there. Sure enough I had another blood clot behind my knee. This granted me a 5 day stay in the hospital with an IV of blood thinners and mandatory bed rest.

When I was released from the hospital, I had instructions to inject myself in the abdomen twice a day with a blood thinner. Say whaaaaat? Every twelve hours I had to psych myself up to jab a needle into my very pregnant belly. Dare I say, super cringey stuff.

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We decided to temporarily move back to New Jersey to be near the hospital and closer to family. I injected myself twice a day for a month before the Hematologist and the OBGYN got together and decided it was time to schedule a C-section. They were both afraid of a bad outcome (fatalities really mess with their malpractice insurance and I think they liked me). I had another retractable filter inserted. This time I demanded a mild sedative for the procedure, much better.

At 35 weeks/6 days of my second pregnancy our daughter was born via C-section. Me, my husband and our trusted doctors, all decided it was best to perform a tubal ligation after the C-section. Apparently I suck at being pregnant. I was 36 and survived two high-risk pregnancies. We had one healthy boy and one healthy girl, no need to get greedy.

Our second baby was so much easier. Perhaps because we knew the drill and our expectations were not as regimented so we could relax more. We knew we couldn’t “plan” every aspect of things so we just rolled with it. Bonus this baby wasn’t colicky and slept a reasonable amount from a very early age. (You mean they don’t all scream for several hours continuously and wake up 4 times a night…for years?)

Fast forward many years and I can see how being a SAHM served me. If I am honest, I got the perks and the liabilities in good measure. The perks are obvious, I haven’t missed a thing with my kids. First steps, first tooth, first haircut, first day of anything – I was there for all of it. We had so many special day trips that wouldn’t have been possible if I worked outside the home. They don’t remember most of them. I do, and I suspect they are the days I will reflect on in old age.

When I walk into my kids school, I know half the faculty, the school board and at least 60% of the kids by name.  I have created a network of go-to moms that can get me through to the finish line or at least high school graduation. I have volunteered for just about everything in the district (exception: I refused to get on the school board, that is just bat sh*t crazy).

The liabilities are pretty stacked too thankfully some of them have passed.  My first born was a colicky baby who had night terrors and did not sleep through the night for FOUR years (4 mofo years). My kids are about 20 months apart and (aside from my hospital stays) I got up with both of them every single time. Every. Single. Time. During those years I fantasized about being alone with a fist full of Tylenol PM in a dark quiet hotel room. Sleep was like trying to catch vapor in those early years of motherhood.

Being a SAHM was great but I had no time to myself. I thought it would be good to get away from the littles few hours a day, I couldn’t. I looked forward to medical appointments to get some “me time.” Some days it was easier to have the blood drawn than to be home. And sometimes I had to take two kids with me to those appointments. When they were toddlers I would play hide and seek just to get a few minutes to myself in the kitchen pantry (there may have been Oreos in there).

 

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Sketch by Lisa McMillen http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

Being out of the workforce for a decade didn’t do me any favors career-wise. This may be the biggest hit that a SAHM takes. That and the guilt about doing anything for yourself because you get to stay home. What saved my ass was a small group of women in a Moms Club. Unlike me, they “planned” to be SAHM and their friendships have had a huge impact on me.

 

 

 

Stayed tuned for future installments of #SuperCringe

Blur

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Blur

Halloween as always been one of my favorite days of the year. I love to dress up, marvel at the decorations and of course, CaNdY!!! My kids love it too. The past few years we have split up. Me with one kid and their group of friends and the other with a different group in another neighborhood. Everyone dressed up and candy was abundant. This year things changed. My oldest didn’t really get to “trick or treat”, his friends weren’t into it. My youngest, didn’t want me around. This is as it should be at their ages. Just another reminder that this sweet time of parenting when we share a home and talk every day, it’s going to end in a handful of years.

It’s seems like yesterday or maybe a week, a few years ago at most, that I dressed up as Cat in the Hat with Thing 1 and Thing 2 by my side. A more accurate description would be Thing 1 holding on tight with his right hand secure in my left. Thing 2 was riding my hip, arms loose around my neck. I was sweaty from exertion and they were just plain hot in fuzzy costumes.

I’ll never forget that Halloween, my kids were 3 and 5 years old. We met a friend and her family for pizza in a town that celebrates Halloween on an epic level. Our littles were in preschool then. We were on the precipice of big changes, elementary school was around the corner and we were trying to soak in the last bits of a schedule that wasn’t encumbered by school district rules. It was a glorious time and I was too exhausted most days to fully appreciate it.

That Halloween was unusually warm and the “Thing” costumes were not designed for that level of heat. We didn’t make it far that night, a few blocks at most. The uneven sidewalk, perpetual lack of sleep and the physical strains of being weighted unevenly on one side for hours was catching up to me. I was relieved to get them in the car and back home before long. It was a short drive but Thing 2 was also weary. I had to carry her sweaty, sleeping body into the house from the car. Then I tried to slip her out of her costume and into bed without waking her, mission not accomplished (sigh).

I ran a tight ship in those days, kept a schedule. It took so long for my oldest to sleep through the night, that I made a bedtime ritual mandatory. I tried everything – baths, books, warm milk, sprayed the room with monster deterrent (water) and finally resorted to meditation CDs. At 5, he was finally getting the hang of it. I tried to stick to that schedule because I had years of sleep to catch up on. My husband traveled almost constantly during this phase so I was on my own most nights.

Fast forward to my “Things”, 13 & 15 and oh, what I wouldn’t give to relive that night. That friend from the pizza place, she passed away nearly five years ago. She died on Thing 2’s 9th birthday. We knew it was inevitable, she fought cancer and the horrific effects of chemo since the birth of her son who is the same age as mine (Thing 1). And our boys, they’re still friends. I’ve kept a vigil on that as I promised I would. It was an unspoken promise, the one you make in your heart when the words can’t come out because you want to be brave but you’re jello inside. So I guess I should stop lamenting over the passage of time and all that is getting to be in the rear view mirror, because I got to be here for it.

 

I am the Damn Sunshine!

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I am the Damn Sunshine!

My friend over at mydangblog listed me for the very exclusive Sunshine Blogger thingy. Basically, you answer some questions and suggest some blogs that your readers may enjoy. I’ve actually done this before but since she mentioned it, I’ll do it again. Someone sent her 10 questions and she modified them a bit to be specific to her blog. I’m not going to do that. I am going to answer her questions (some are basic and can be answered by anyone, I’ll let you determine which ones are specific to her blog).

  1. What country do you come from? That’s a tough one. I know it seems like this should be a no brainer, but the way things have been spiraling out of control the past few years, I often wonder what planet I’m on. I was born in the USA and have resided here my entire life (had a few extended stays in Switzerland, never an official resident – pretty sure they wouldn’t have had me, they are particular like that. I will say that within just a month or so of being there, I became fluent is Swiss-German and learned to yodel. Also, no one in Switzerland ever requests more cow bell, they have plenty. (some of this may not be true)). These days I refer to my country of origin as CrAzYtOwN.
  2. Have you solved the mystery of the mouth guard that you found on the floor? I’m embarrassed to admit it but no, I have not solved this mystery. I also can’t find my car key so I’ve been using my husband’s spare for the past week and this morning he busted me. In other news, I found this weird wire pocket sculpture whilst doing the laundry this weekend (psst…it’s the featured image, you’re welcome). I’d love to meet the artist to get the background on the inspiration alas, this too remains a mystery .
  3. What place are you currently in for the hockey pool? Again, more shame, I’m dead last. Apparently you’ve got to be in it to win or some such nonsense.
  4. Have you discovered how you are like Jeff yet? This is tricky to answer. I can’t quite pin it down yet but I feel a connection to Jeff that is beyond definition. Truly a mystery.
  5. What is your dream destination? A Mediterranean Cruise is on the top of my wish list.
  6. Why did you burst out laughing in a meeting on Thursday? Well if by “meeting” you mean the overly aggressive weight training class that I took last Thursday, then you mistook laughter for sounds of anguish. I usually only cry on the inside during the class however, our usual instructor was out. I can count on the ex-marine to punish us with planks and push ups, the substitute had a more menacing approach. It seems she took the summer off to spend time with her kids and she was determined to punish us all for her extended absence. You aren’t going to get those triceps defined in one day Trish, calm the f*ck down. I haven’t been able to lift my arms over my head in 4 days, bitch.
  7. What is your favorite movie? Home for the Holidays (Directed by Jodie Foster, 1995). I watch it every year around Thanksgiving.
  8. What crazy thing did you do Friday night? Thankfully I actually did something last Friday. I went out to dinner and to a local theater show with four ladies. The show was Curtains which is a funny whodunit in a 1950’s setting. A good time was had by all.
  9. Are you happy with your current life? Damn right I am.
  10.  Do you have any new and interesting bathroom stories? When we were in Australia this past summer I was entertained by the signs found in many of the ladies bathrooms. By the way the buttons are for a half (left) or full (right) flush. IMG_6416.JPG

Here are some blogs that I visit on the regular:

Freethinkers Anonymous

Little Miss Wordy

Redneck Latte Ravings

Feel free to nominate any blogger of your choosing for this prestigious award. Questions are at your discretion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere!

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It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere!

It’s Wine O’Clock somewhere…or maybe it’s Weed O’Clock, Sex O’Clock, Sugar O’Clock, or some other O’Clock I have not yet imagined. Our collective casualness with dependency is adorable isn’t it? I mean we all need a little somethin’ somethin’ to get through the day, right? I may ruffle some feathers and bunch some panties with this post.

Perhaps I’m sensitive to the topic…after all I was raised by an alcoholic mother (you may now insert all of your preconceived notions about me into your brain) and found myself in rehab at age 15 (insert more of those notions) and I’ve been sober ever since (perhaps that one was unexpected). I have a good grip on the subject of alcoholism, mostly through sober observation. I’m way past the zealot phase of recovery and I have many friends that are social drinkers. I have not been hiding in a sober closet for the last 35 years. That said the “Mommy Juice” culture is getting out of hand.

I recently got invited to a breakfast with other parents who plan to celebrate the first day of school by day drinking the minute their precious kids get on the bus. Mimosas at the country deli, won’t that be fun! Look spiked orange juice, so clever. The festivities start at 7:30am, I’ll pass. I hope they have a designated driver, Uber is scarce in these parts. I wonder if these parents will still be lit later that day, driving through car line which is a cluster f*ck without inebriated drivers.

Do your teens and tweens see these pro drinking posts? Are you buying them beer so you can be the cool parent? When is enough enough or perhaps too much…what example are you setting for formative minds? I know I sound like a cranky Puritan. Truth is I’ve joked about alcohol myself especially when asked why I don’t drink. “My gene pool is polluted” is one of my usual snarky responses. It sounds cooler than the real explanation – I made bad decisions and put myself and others in harm’s way when I drank. And I do have a sense of humor (pinky promise). A few weeks ago I got a good friend a “Shut Up Liver, You’re Fine!” t-shirt to celebrate her birthday. Hmm, I may be part of the problem.

I think my breaking point was the purse that markets itself as a wine pouch. Let’s all hold hands and recite the Serenity Prayer for this gem –

Wine Purses

If you need a purse to carry your medicine water,  perhaps things have gotten a tad out of hand. Look at it this way – substitute green beans for wine, does the behavior still make sense? Are you stashing green beans in different areas of your house for a quick bite when no one is looking? Are you stuffing your face with them in the parking lot before walking into the board meeting, the presentation, the PTA gathering? Are you disappointed when your friends decline green beans because they just can’t take another bite and they need to drive home? Have you recently eaten too many green beans at a public event and struggled the next day with a hangover and the shame of not knowing what happened? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a problem with green beans. Just some food for thought.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Through agreement with 123RF Limited

Image ID : 44357768
Media Type : Photography
Copyright : belchonock  (Follow)

 

 

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.

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The Badass & A ‘Fro Below

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The Badass & A ‘Fro Below

Last night I was at a book club meeting with some friends. I think we all know that “book club” is code for over indulging in food and adult beverages in the suburbs. I partook in the food and limited beverages to water because I prefer to chew my calories. I am sworn to secrecy regarding my companions (not really, no one got sloppy). I will say I ate a hamster’s weight in bacon wrapped dates and I regret nothing, N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

The book we were discussing was Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares by Sherry Stanfa-Stanley. FindingMyBadassSelf  I met Sherry at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference this past April and we hit it off. After the conference I contacted Sherry because I wanted to purchase 10 of her books. I turned the big ‘5-OH’ in June and I decided to give the books as a favor to the ladies who attended my birthday dinner. At that dinner a friend offered to host a book club to discuss it.

The book gave a description of Sherry’s experiences while ticking off an eclectic bucket list of things that pushed her out of her comfort zone. The tone of the book is friendly with a good amount of humor. It’s an interesting and fun read. I read the book in early May and one thing that stood out to me was the rhino situation. There are a few lines in the book that caught my attention (page 193 if you happen to have a copy):

(Sherry) “Oh! I think he’s going to pee!”

“Um, no,” Robin said. “See his equipment down there? This is similar to how we manually ejaculate him.”

I read that and I immediately had a stream of questions and thoughts. Here are some of them in no particular order:

Holy sh*t is this rhino getting happy endings as part of his care?

How often?

Is it always the same person or does this task get rotated? (and really which one is more disturbing; a rotating team of happy ending professionals or a single individual responsible for the “the job”? I’m still debating that. I’m leaning toward the one individual being worse because then it seems like an exclusive relationship, this bothers me. Is it consensual?)

Anyhow there were 52 unique and interesting experiences described in the book and this one was the one that haunted me. I may be a 12 year old boy trapped in the body of a midlife female.

Other topics carried over into things we had tried in our own life – one person jumped out of perfectly good airplanes several times (for fun, the weirdo). Others discussed being on nude beaches, eating in the dark, zip lines, sex shops (I told you it was a good book) and the “woes of waxing”.

I got a Brazilian wax once so I had some skin in the game on this one (wink for those that have experienced it). For the uninitiated, there is no amount of candle light, chanting monks and calming incense that can tame the horror of getting your lady bits waxed. Basically you are placed on a table with your legs pushed as close to your head as possible. The goal is to have your feet nestled beside your ears, easy peasy if you happen to be a double jointed acrobat, a ballerina or an expert level Yogi. Sadly I can not list any of those credentials on my resume.

I’m fairly bendy though so positioning was not the worst part. The worst part is having a Gyno light switched on while you are in that position and happen to be naked (or wearing a thong whose sole purpose is to help you pretend you have some modesty….insert maniacal laugh…you don’t, it’s all gone, it left with dignity.) Once the hospital-like floodlight is pointed toward your nether regions, a thin coat of hot (think lava) wax is applied to your most delicate areas – front to back. Then because that isn’t awful enough, tape is used to yank the wax and hair off (perhaps with some skin and 13% of your soul) At some point the technician will ask what your pruning preference is for the front of the house. The options range from geometric shapes to completely bald. I went with the landing strip option. A lightning bolt would have been cool sadly, I didn’t think of it until after and I never went back (that was 2007).

One of my friends who attended last night sent me a link to an article this morning which described a hairy situation. Apparently there is a feminist movement for growing out hair where in previous years the trends have been to shave or wax (down below, armpits, legs, anywhere). I replied with a big nope. Do what you want ladies, I’ll keep the ‘fro below to a crew cut.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_bankjayphotto’>bankjayphotto / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in Your Wheelhouse?

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What’s in Your Wheelhouse?

Seems like everyone has a wheelhouse these days, a metaphor to describe their specific skill set. I hear the term from friends that are still slugging it out in corporate America. I used to have a wheelhouse filled with current technical skills, boundless energy and a can-do attitude. That was fourteen and a half years ago before I was laid off from my Project Manager position at a software firm (The Office Space movie really resonated with me). Those attributes have been replaced with an intense hatred of middle school car line, juggling of my family’s emotional, social & physical needs, my imagination’s ability to go DEFCON 3 if I can’t reach my kids and an abundance of resting bitch face. I’m running out of ducks (psst…spellcheck is a stupid duck).

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Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_hermandesign2015′>hermandesign2015 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Here’s a not-so-secret-secret, I’m nearing the mid century mark (audible gasp, I know I can’t believe it either). So I suppose it’s natural to take a moment and reflect on some shit stuff. I did the math and in dog years I’m coming up on the big 3-5-0…no wonder I’m tired.

As I’m sitting here trying to flesh out this post, I’m listening to my husband teach our daughter Algebra. I’d rather eat a flaming sword while my fingernails are pulled off with rusty pliers. I stopped helping my kids with homework somewhere around 5th grade. If anyone asks my reasoning is to “facilitate independence”, I think they’re on to me though. The truth is I can’t do half of it without screaming or crying, if only on the inside.

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They say (not sure who “they” are) with aging comes wisdom. Hmm, not sure about that one. I knew everything when I was 17, you couldn’t tell me otherwise. Now I hesitate a little more, consider the thoughts of others who may have a different point of view and sometimes I’m wrong. I try not to “jump to conclusions” (still with me Office Space fans) and I reserve the right to change my mind. Perhaps I’m maturing just a hair, must be the flair (sorry, apparently I have a theme now).

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I’ll tell you want else comes with this milestone birthday – yes and no. Yes to spending time, money and effort on the people, places and things that matter most. No to the activities that don’t bring joy or a sense of purpose. I recently resigned from a position on a non-profit. I’ll still help out, I just don’t want my name on the letterhead. My time suddenly seems more precious and I give careful consideration to how I spend it.

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What’s in your wheelhouse?