Tag Archives: #SuperCringe

That’s Not Appropriate

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That’s Not Appropriate

Recently the hubs and I went to a holiday party. A majority of the party was a group of friends known as the car guys and their wives. The car guys met through their love of cars and somehow, despite this seemingly shallow connection, have created meaningful friendships.

For a handful of years we have socialized  – parties, annual beach getaways, vacations and weddings. It’s an interesting group of friends (the book writes itself). This party is one of the group traditions. There is always an “adult” gift exchange, some naughty variation of the white elephant. I always aim for funny with potential for mildly offensive, it’s my comfort zone. I brought a “People of Walmart” desk calendar, who wouldn’t love that! I also brought a book with stickers for adulting.

The sticker book is a bit of a rub because I was actively brainstorming this idea a few years ago. I got sick of sewing (OK my father in-law sewed) badges on my daughter’s brownie sash. Throughout the process (basically, when I had to safety pin badges on 3 minutes before an event, because, that’s what I do) I would think, damn there should be adulting badges. But badges are such @ssholes with their need to be sewn on, they’re a bit of a commitment. Badges are the tattoo of the sewing world. No, I thought to myself, stickers would be better – cheaper, less hassle. Wouldn’t you know, someone else thought it was a good idea and bippity, boppity, boop – –

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Available here – Adulted Sticker Book

So back to the party. The hubs and I brought two gifts – the People of Walmart desk calendar and the adult sticker book. Oh and the party had a plaid theme. Most of the guys looked like lumberjack wannabes wearing some variation of red & black checkered shirts. The ladies hit Victoria’s Secret hard and got the same pattern in sexy PJs. I wore normal clothes with a plaid scarf because I’m a chicken sh*t. I tried to find something plaid, I really did. I ordered a plaid skirt from Amazon and honestly, when I looked at it, I heard the sound of bagpipes in my mind, I couldn’t pull it off.

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

The sad part is I didn’t even win the “Least Festive” category (oh yes there are contests too). Some b*tch in a pink sweater dress won. I can’t even win at losing. Hey wait, I think that means I did win at losing. Screw you pink dress lady, I’m a bigger loser than you. I feel better now.

Back to the gift exchange. It was some variation of a white elephant except there was a board and you had to pull instructions from it…for example, find a brunette and exchange gifts. This was confusing to me because I have highlights, am I blonde or brunette? I don’t freaking’ know anymore, the bleach has gotten to me. So I went up to some lady who looked like Velma Dinkley (she may have been wearing a pink sweater dress, the details are fuzzy, like that damn dress) and exchanged gifts. Did I mention that I did this out of turn and it was completely inappropriate? Oh and I’m the sober one at these events which makes it all the more laughable.

I slithered back into the kitchen after that awkward moment and Shelly (wife of a car guy) says “keep that bag, don’t let them get it.” So I basically hid in the kitchen area with a few of the guests, protecting my gift like a momma bear with her cub.

At the end of the exchange we all opened our gifts. Shelly gifted us with “marital aids” which would have been the highlight gift of the evening if this didn’t show up. It was a really cute bottle holder, dressed like Santa. It looked innocent enough, sigh.

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Crocheted Santa Bottle Holder…what could possibly go wrong?

Oh My!!! Inside was something I had never seen before, I didn’t know products like this existed. I’m not a prude. I’ve had a Brazilian Wax or two in my day but (butt) really…I don’t even want to go to the trouble of whitening my teeth.

 

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The End.

 

 

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I Workout

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I Workout

Whenever I say “I workout” I think of that song by LMFAO – “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” the video plays in my head and whomever I’m talking to is left wondering why I’m laughing. I’ve been exercising on a regular basis for over 30 years. Yes, I know I should be in better shape, thanks for pointing that out (b*tch). It’s a stress reliever for me and it’s cheaper than therapy. We moved to the area 15 years ago and in that time I’ve belonged to a handful of gyms. I’ve been going to my current gym for at least 5 years and I see the same 15 people on a weekly basis. Sadly I have memorized maybe 3 of their names. I recently got called out for this.

I see this woman with blonde hair at the gym at least twice a week. We’ve had several conversations about social activities and work. Here’s what I know – she turned 50 last year and did a hiking trip with a good friend to commemorate the milestone. She injured her left knee while training for it. She works for a company that helps seniors downsize, she’s divorced, never had kids, used to manage a bagel shop and recently adopted a dog ( the dog is a bit of an asshole). So basically I know everything about her shy of her social security number and her name which she has likely told me a minimum of 5 times.

She suggested that we exchange phone numbers for potential business referrals. I asked her to spell her last name (in the hopes that she would say her entire name) and she called me out for not knowing her name. I hesitated a second to see if her name would magically appear in mid air so I could save myself the embarrassment but no such luck. I admitted that I did indeed forget her name and I’m pretty sure I won’t forget it again. Sorry Katie (or is it Kathy? Kimberly? OHFFS, I suck.)!

There’s one guy who is particularly enthusiastic about kickboxing.  He’s tall with noticeably long limbs that are constantly flailed about during the class. Sometimes his timing is off and he goes left when everyone else goes right. Not a big deal unless you get punched in the face because pterodactyl man is going the wrong way.

A tall brunette is late to every class. I don’t care about that people are busy, she probably has to get kids on the bus. My issue is real estate. She’s one of those people who doesn’t have a good grasp on the importance of personal space. When she comes in late, she typically squeezes into a space that doesn’t exist when there are other more logical places to set up. That space is usually next to me, the most uncoordinated person in step class. I predict a collision at some point mostly due to my lack of coordination and an inability to follow directions.  Perhaps an “accident” will finally get her to migrate to the other side of the room.

 

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One of instructors reminds me of Jack McFarland from Will & Grace. He screams things like – “Get those knees up!” “Keep them up! Higher! Get higher!” while enthusiastically running in peacock inspired leggings with a matching headband. He’s always dressed better than me and he makes me smile.

Another instructor is a retired marine. He’s big into push ups and planks and he shouts the same corny sayings at us every week. “Keep it tight, keep it right.” “It’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” And this diddy….“It’s all about the core – that’s what we’re here for.” He chuckles whenever he spouts of his rhyming bits of wisdom.

At some point in the marine’s class I have the urge to vomit and/or cry. I usually only cry on the inside. Sometimes he sets up different exercise stations – jump rope, push ups, planks, bicep curls, balance challenges, whatever sadistic task the instructor designs. We rotate to each station throughout the course of the class. My favorite is the “napping” station. It’s supposed to be the pull up station but I can’t do more than 3. That gives me 50 seconds to snooze before I move on to the next round of torture. I usually whisper “f*ck” with each exhale like an exhausted mantra.

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The napping station.

Consistent exercise has been great for reducing stress and allowing me to eat Oreos without getting too fat (medium fat, perhaps). All this working out has some drawbacks, I have a legit pain in my ass. Somehow I injured my coccyx. No I haven’t grown a man part, that’s my tailbone you filthy animal. It’s been hurting since May, I blame it on Pilates. That was the only thing new about my exercise regime.

There was a lady in the class who was at least 20 years older than me and she has the flexibility of double-jointed ballerina. I was the clumsy one who couldn’t roll my feet over my head in a smooth, controlled motion. My moves were more Frankenstein and less Cirque du Soleil. C’est la vie! I kind of sucked at Pilates so quitting that wasn’t a huge sacrifice. I stopped going, thinking the problem would alleviate, it didn’t.

I’m not incredibly observant when it comes to my own aches and pains. I prefer the ignore-it-and-maybe-it-will-go-away approach. I couldn’t ignore the pain which was my constant companion when we went to see Jim Jeffries in May. That’s how I know approximately when this whole mess started.

The show was great but I was in considerable pain, sitting is my current Kryptonite. I found that out about 15 minutes into the two hour show. I kept switching seated positions, like an overactive toddler that has to pee all the time. The roll over to one cheek method helped, but it made it look like I had to pass gas all night.  Not the vibe I wanted to achieve while out with a group of my husband’s friends and their wives.

Still, I’m not one to run to the doctor. I did my research online. Bryce Warden, MD (Medically Deficient).  I scoured the internet to find out what was wrong with me. Webmd suggested a bruised or fractured coccyx, it sounded right. In July, I finally hauled my aching ass to the doctor and she ordered an x-ray.

Feeling very adult for going to the doctor, I sat in the parking lot of the doctor’s office reviewing the paperwork. Fun fact, x-rays of the sacrum/coccyx area require an enema prior to the x-ray. Good times. Having never had an enema before I had to research to get some pro tips from those who have “gone” before me. My husband and I had a brief conversation about this.

Me: “I need to have an enema before the x-ray.”

Hubs: “I’m not giving it to you.”

Me: “Damn right, you’re not.”

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

And we have preserved our sex lives a little longer, perhaps until one of us winds up in Depends. I got the gist of what needed to be done and took matters into my own hands (ass). Got the x-ray and no fracture was detected. That was in July, surely this thing will improve, I hear it “takes time.” Pro tip: if someone tells you that something “takes time,” buckle up you’re in for a bumpy ride and that person likely has no flippin’ idea of how much time it actually takes.

At the end of October, I’m back at the doctor because this thing isn’t letting up. I’ve tried ice/heat, I sit for maybe five minutes at a time unless I’m driving. In the car I have one of those sexy donut pillows. The pain just won’t let up and I went to physical therapy.  The place I went to had a bunch of tables, and random gym equipment – treadmills, exercise balls, etc. The median age was 83.

The staff brought the median age down to 83 as most of the therapists looked to be about 12. That’s a sign you’re getting older when people in their twenties look like middle schoolers, sigh. Anyhow, I filled out 47 forms, was reminded of how sh*tty my insurance is and realized this will be an out-of-pocket expense.

I’m was committed to try it at this point and met my Physical Therapist named Chris.  Chris is a good-looking guy, maybe 23 years old. We go into a room to discuss my “problem.” Let me just explain something….this may sound sexist, I don’t care. Midlife men tend to see younger attractive females as bait or a conquest. I know some midlife women act similarly with younger guys hence, the term cougar. I am not a cougar, an alley cat or any kind of wanna be predator. I saw Chris and thought, I wonder if my son will look like this guy in 10 years. That’s right, so in my mind this guy could be my son in 10 years.

Chris takes my history with copious notes. He then proceeds to examine me which includes extensive handling of my ass. There is really no other way to describe it. It wasn’t sexual he was just doing his job. But dear Gawd it was awkward. I’m doing exercises, hoping to not pass gas while this guy is kneading my backside. Then at the end of the session, I am placed belly side down on a table in a common room. Electrodes are placed directly on my butt cheeks and the current is cranked up to whatever level I could handle. Then, an ice blanket is placed on the offending area.

As I’m lying there, freezing my ass off while simultaneously being shocked, I thought is this some awful middle-aged hazing ritual? Did AARP set this whole thing up? Is there a hidden camera somewhere?

…and my ass still hurts.

 

Thanks for Asking

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Thanks for Asking

The idea for this post came from the talented, fierce and very funny, Janelle Hanchett. Somehow she accepted my Facebook friend request a few years ago and by some miracle she hasn’t unfriended me yet. Anyhoo, Janelle posted a completely made up Q & A as supplemental material for her paperback. Of course it was funny because she’s awesome like that. And I discovered that we both like Ginger Beer (calm down it’s not actually beer, we’re sober gals). Here’s a link to her book and in full disclosure, I get nothing but good vibes for the mention. I’m Just Happy to Be Here

I read her Facebook post and thought, I can take that and turn it into a blog post because I’m apparently too lazy to write an actual book. So I’m going to one up my girl Janelle and have a fake book (kind of fake, actually it’s a partially finished book) to go along with my quasi fake book’s Q & A. I will refer to my imaginary interviewer as “Skip” and I will respond as Super Cringe.

Skip: Thanks for taking time from your world wide book tour to talk to me. Might I add that you look amazing and I’m a major fan (wink).

Super Cringe: My pleasure Skip. I had some time to kill before my private jet leaves for Copenhagen so why the hell not. Fire away Skipper.

Skip: Great let’s dive in…so where did you get the idea for Super Cringe?

Super Cringe: The idea sprang from a text exchange with my teen daughter who responded to one of my texts with Super Cringe there was also an Ewwww implied but not included in the text. I could hear the audible eye roll even though we were at least 12 miles apart, her eye roll game is really strong. I thought wouldn’t it be fun to create a character named Super Cringe.

Skip: So you decided to turn your daughter’s insult into the anti heroine Super Cringe, is that correct?

Super Cringe: B-I-N-G-O Skippy!

Skip: Wow, that’s kind of brilliant.

Super Cringe: Is it? I hadn’t really noticed but these books are flying off the shelf so….holds palms and head up toward sky with an exaggerated shrug-sigh.

Skip: How did you find the time to write Super Cringe? I hear you have a small business and that you volunteer regularly in addition to your family obligations.

Super Cringe: Oh Skippy, writers don’t “find” time to write, they steal it. Time isn’t hiding in-between couch cushions or stashed in a coat pocket that you forgot about. I had to sneak writing time in…15 minutes here, an hour there. I basically would ignore my children when they begged for food and/or attention, my husband and dog were neglected, that’s the writer’s way.

Skip: Aside from being on every major best-selling book list on earth, is there something else you wish to accomplish with this book?

Super Cringe: Of course Skipper…I mean being a best-selling globe trotting author is fantastic, it’s a dream come true. However, there are more important matters. I would love for this book to open a space where people can come together, see that they have more in common, find the sweet spot of humanity. World peace would be great….(whispers) f*cking world peace from Super Cringe (stares off for a minute, slowly nods head).

Skip: Um, Super Cringe, you with me…

Super Cringe: Apologies, I was just visualizing world peace. I also wouldn’t mind if this book got me back the body I had at 28 Skip, I mean that was a damn good year. And being able to eat whatever I wanted without consequence, pass the Oreos.

Skip: (Nervous laugh) So getting back to the book…it’s basically your life with some of the more cringe-worthy bits highlighted.

Super Cringe: That’s right Skip, I own my cringe.

Skip: Fascinating, do you have another book in you?

Super Cringe: Well I haven’t stopped my cringe-worthy ways so I suspect this may become a series. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

* Featured art is by Lisa McMillen of http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

That’s My Business…

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That’s My Business…

I recently met with client who used the word “f*ck” as a noun, a verb and an adjective. She switched tenses with the finesse of a linguistic ninja, it was spectacular. The fact that this person is an ordained minister is the icing on the cake. I love my job.

I started a small business in 2014. I fill in the gaps for people when life gets complicated. My usual clients are elderly and they need a little TLC. I check in on them while their adult children work. I share a meal, do some light housekeeping and socialize. I am the eyes and ears for loved ones when they can’t be there.

I’ve visited clients in their own home and at nursing homes. I used to visit a 97 year old man who was in a nursing home. Twice a week I would take him out for lunch at Chick-fil-A and each time he acted like it was the best meal of his life. Every week he would hold up his drink with the wonderment of a young child at Christmas.

“What is this?” Jack would ask

“Sprite” I’d reply

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever had” Jack would say that every week.

It’s incredibly rewarding to be the best part of someone’s day, even if they don’t always remember the details. My lunch date never could get my name straight but he always leapt out of the day room chair when he saw me. He walked across the room with a happy stride and a wide smile planted on his face.

One time around the holidays, I told my nonagenarian (great Scrabble word) friend that he looked festive, things got jumbled a bit. But I liked his version better than mine so we went with that.

“You look festive Jack!” I exclaimed

“Did you say I look sexy?”

“I sure did.”

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

It isn’t always so fun and carefree. There are often medical concerns lurking in the background, potential embarrassing moments and the sad realization that this friendship likely won’t last that long.

I used to visit Edith, she was 88 and had severe dementia. One day I came in for my usual lunch visit and she wasn’t wearing pants. How do you handle that you ask? I said “Edith, you didn’t tell me it was no pants Monday” and I promptly got her dressed.

I have a client now who has dementia and a feisty sense of humor.  Last week we were walking in the hallway (“airing out” as we call it) when I had a brilliant, awful idea. The residents put a lot of thought into the decor around their front doors. Wreaths, plaques, photos and other seasonal tchotchkes line the narrow shelves that flank the apartment doors. I suggested that we switch a few of the wreaths around and then watch to see what the residents would do. She thought it was the best idea ever. Of course we didn’t do it, we only dream of being that rotten, but it made her laugh.

I always look for ways to add humor and preserve a person’s dignity. If someone doesn’t want to be checked on I’ll tell them I’m there to walk the dog or do laundry, we a find a way to make it work. My goal is to make them feel like a friend is stopping by to visit because inevitably that’s what it feels like.

I meet most of my clients through a friend or family member. My business is based exclusively on referrals. I tend to have one or two clients at a time because I can serve them better that way. The family dynamics vary with each client but they all love their family member and are so grateful to find reliable help. They each hold a special place in my heart and I am honored to be entrusted with their care.

 

Jam Man

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Jam Man

I accidentally got into a Facebook fight with a local guy who sells jams. I know it sounds ridiculous, stay with me, this guy has been caustic since day one. A few months ago a local non-profit I volunteer for hosted a vendor event. I was doing promotions on Facebook for it when I get a “why wasn’t I invited” in the comments from some stranger. I never heard his name before but I responded politely gave him the details and he joined the event.

Most vendors donated a percentage of sales. He donated a total of $3. to the non-profit.  That was the change from a purchase my friend Pam made. She said “donate the change to the kids” within earshot of me so he handed me the change. I reached out a few times after the event with details of how to donate. I got no response, I let it go.

Things are going fine. I liked his jam related posts and we have some mutual local business friends. Great, I support local businesses. Then in August things went off the rails.

He posted something which asked a question, I answered. Things spiraled from there. It was getting late and I didn’t like the tone that his post was descending into so I turned off the notifications. Then I posted about my newfound love of the “turn off notifications” feature on my personal page. Apparently Jam Man noticed.

I logged off and went to bed.  While I was sleeping, Jam Man started a sh*t storm on my personal Facebook page. Some of my friends defended me and took screen shots of the whole sordid affair. Most of the offensive comments were deleted by the time I logged on the next morning. All that remained were a few traces of a rough night with people messaging me the details.

My friends were demanding a boycott of his business. I urged them to let it go, he makes a good product. Just brush it off. Then I unfriended him because I don’t need the drama. Here’s the funny part…my husband loves this f*cking jam. The one he likes reminds him of childhood summers spent in Italy. How can I deprive him of that? I can’t. But I don’t want to order this stuff online and have Jam Man see my name on the order – he’ll probably poison the jar. And I definitely do NOT want him to have my home address.

So in an ironic twist, filed under things you do for love…I am driving all over, going into local small businesses looking for this stupid jam. I bought another variety at one store, hubs gave it the thumbs down. I go back two days later for the beloved flavor, they don’t have it. Damn it.

This morning my husband sends me a text “good jam” – meaning please get me the stuff that reminds me of childhood summers spent in Italy. My first reaction was “you’re on your own dude, Jam Man was at it again yesterday.” Then I look up other stores that might carry it and find a local venue. I found it!!! So yes I bought the stupid jam because I love my husband more than I dislike the Jam Man.

What Happens in the Barn, Stays in the Barn

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What Happens in the Barn, Stays in the Barn

The bad karaoke and somewhat suggestive dancing with another district mom shouldn’t come back to haunt me. Except that everyone in this Wonder Bread town has a smartphone. Well at least we raised some money “for the children” (starts humming..”we are the world….we are the children”….sorry, maybe).

Planning an event is a solid pain in the ass. Even the well-meaning helpers can be a drag when they get on board at the last minute. The community really pulls through with silent auction donations which is great. The problem is when they get donated at the last minute. You have to scramble to pick up them up on an already over-scheduled day and then you have to find display space.

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The six foot ice sculpture sounds amazing, not sure about the logistics though….the event starts in two hours. Sketch by Lisa McMillen of http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

 

Sheila lets me know the night before the event that she wants to donate a decorative plate to the silent auction. She also wants a ticket to the event that’s been sold out for weeks. Sure Sheila, no problem (I want to make t-shirts that say “Sure, Sheila” and we’ll be the only ones who know what that means, like our secret handshake, except it’s a shirt). The donation had a high-end price tag, but was likely mass produced in a factory with a plethora of human rights violations.

I get Sheila’s  address Saturday morning. She lives on a private road which is the stuff of nightmares. It’s anorexic and is flanked with thorny hedges that are overgrown and spill over onto the road. The kind of vegetation that aches to destroy whatever comes in contact. I put that thought on the back burner as I pull over and run in to grab the donation.

I went there after a rigorous cardio class as it was the only time I could go. Let me just mention that I sweat profusely when I work out, so I’m a bit of a mess when I arrive. My hair is a matted ponytail under my hat and I stink. I’m in urgent need of a shower and I do not wish to socialize.

Sheila greets me at the door and I thank her for the donation. “Thanks so much, I’ll just grab it and get out of your way,” I say hopeful for a quick exit. Instead of running out the door I get offered coffee, a danish and I’m walked into the dinning area. This is starting to drag on.

It took me a bit to realize what was happening, probably because I had six hours worth of things to do in a two-hour window. I was going through my mental checklist when Sheila started pitching for her multi-level marketing company. This house is a showroom for those damn plates. I’m not sure if she is an employee or a disciple.

She’s describing the snob appeal of the MLM brand while I’m standing in sweaty gym clothes I purchased at Target six years ago. My entire outfit including my sneakers cost less than one of those overpriced plates. My sneakers are older than her youngest kid and she’s in middle school.

“You meet so many interesting people,” Sheila drawls as I instantly flashback to Bugs Bunny giving Gossamer a manicure. “I’m sure you do”, I reply as my eyes begin to glaze.

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Let’s pretend this is Gossamer getting a mani from Bugs Bunny. I don’t have the financial resources to take on Warner Brothers for copyright infringement.

My brain shuts off whenever I come in contact with cults. Fight or flight kicked in. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw the plate on a buffet server to my right.

“Oh is this it?” I asked as I slowly back myself toward the plate while maintaining eye contact and nodding my head politely.

“Yes, isn’t it spectacular!” Sheila exclaims.

“It’s lovely” I say as I pick it up. I rarely use the word “lovely,” it’s just too civilized for me (unless it has a curse in front of it like an angry verb and it’s dripping in sarcasm – “Oh, isn’t that f*cking lovely”). I then grab the plate and stammer “thanks a bunch” as I let myself out with a fast walk that is more like a jog.

I got to my car only to realize that I would need to do a K turn to get myself turned around to avoid backing out of the angry suburban jungle that flanks the lane. I started the car with Sheila going through her spiel from her front porch “If I sell $718. worth by midnight I get entered into a contest for the French Impressionists Series!” as I feverishly try to turn my car around.

“How exciting!” I reply, while frantically turning my wheel in alternating opposite directions, yielding 10-inch bouts of progress with steering that can only be described as desperate. Sweat was stinging my eyes as Sheila drones on endlessly about how the owner of the company is just like us – “A gay man, lives in Rome, adopted twelve kids and travels on a private jet.” So similar, I think to myself, except I’m not fifty yet, b*tch (I have since turned fifty, sigh).

Sheila offers to back up my car, which has an interior that makes it a candidate for a Superfund Site. I thank her and decline. I don’t want her to know I’m a colossal car slob, I just want to leave. Eleven agonizing minutes later (with Sheila watching the ENTIRE time) I finally get myself pointed in the right direction.

“Bye Sheila, see you tonight,” I smile and wave on the way out. Then I instantly think of the Penguins from Madagascar – “Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.”

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/

Volunteering

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Volunteering

Geezus it’s getting hard to give your time away for free these days. I’ve been a frequent volunteer in my kids school: class mom, chaperone, field trips, book drives, food drives, Secret Santa, Daisies, Brownies, Cub Scouts, soccer coach (psst, totally not qualified) and various fundraising efforts. Some of the activities were for a day or during a brief trial of a new activity.

A few years ago the State of Pennsylvania made it a total pain in the ass to volunteer. Here’s a checklist for people that volunteer in PA schools:

  • Criminal History Request
  • Child Abuse Clearance
  • FBI Fingerprints
  • School Personnel Health Record – TB test & physical for those volunteering 10 or more hours a week
  • Arrest/Conviction Report & Certification
  • Blood of a Unicorn

Only one of those is false. Not only do you have to pay some fees to fulfill these requirements, it’s also a time suck. Our closest FBI fingerprint office is a 30 minute drive away. Between scheduling, transportation and processing – I’m looking at 2 ½ hours just to get my fingerprints. Good luck finding people to do that.

One of my more substantial efforts has been volunteering for an education fund. It’s an organization that pays for teacher-led grants in our school district. It is one of those rare efforts which is all positive, no controversy – money for teachers, YAY!!! Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows for everyone!

I hate to break it to you but the idea of an all positive, no BS, everyone stands in a circle singing “Kumbaya” organization that deals with the public is a myth (OK, LIE, it’s a freakin’ lie). There are a handful of us that volunteer for this non-profit. A few of us came onboard several years ago to try and revive the ed fund which had been neglected for some time.

We determined that we would revive “Ed” by hosting community wide fundraising events that would promote awareness and earn some cash. In the past three years we put on variety shows, held food truck events, a paint nite, a 5K and couple of barn bashes which featured a silent auction. We try to keep the “fun” in FUNdraising (I just smacked myself so you don’t have to). For the most part our efforts have been well received by the community and some fun has been had by all. There have been some exceptions.

It’s like planning a wedding. You have to be considerate of the majority of the attendees, smile politely when people want ridiculous accommodations and contribute more time and money then you ever anticipated. And in the end someone will always complain that the chicken was dry or the music was too loud.

 

 

 

 

 

Gridlocked

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Gridlocked

Once your kid hits Kindergarten you are officially on the grid. No more spontaneous trips to the children’s museum or the beach, the freedom of doing your own thing is officially off the rails. Your vacation schedule is at the mercy of the school calendar and you become a cog in the wheel.

Those first few years it’s so hard just getting the littles out the door. Shoes and socks tend to disappear and someone usually has to poop the minute the coats go on. I’d like to tell you that this improves, it doesn’t. The dynamics change, they dress themselves and you have no idea if they poop but challenges remain. The days of racing out of the house like your hair is on fire will likely last longer than you think.

Once when my kids were in middle school we were doing our usual mad dash out the door. Actually, only two of us were racing. My son is always calm and ready with his backpack on, checking the time, reminding us we’re late. I grab my keys, shout a “hurry up” and run to the car. We are halfway to middle school when my daughter mentions that she needs to go back.

DD: Um mom I don’t have any shoes.

SC: Really? How does that even happen?

DD: We need to go back.

SC: No time, you’ll wear my sneakers.

Note: My shoes are about 4 sizes too big for my daughter. I had visions of my daughter tripping over her newly minted clown feet all day. At least I had a valid excuse for skipping my cardio class that day.

When my oldest started Kindergarten I entered the “Zealot Phase” of parenting. I took everything way too seriously and thought that the school would improve greatly if they just followed some of my suggestions. The fact that I have no experience as a public educator did not deter me from speaking my mind.

My first issue was class size. There were 25 kids assigned to my son’s Kindergarten class. I lost my ever lovin’ mind. I spoke out about it at school board meetings and wrote letters, so many letters. Then I found out my son’s teacher was pregnant and would go on maternity leave mid year (gasp). At one point there were rumors of the beloved elementary school shutting down and I went full on crazy and started a petition on Change.org (Oh yes I did).

We are fortunate that we live in a great school district. Somehow they managed to figure out how to keep things moving without adhering to every suggestion uttered from my lips, miraculous. After a couple of years I began to trust the process a little bit and got out of my own way.

One thing that has remained a constant source of entertainment is car line. Car line is where parents drop their kids off for school in the morning and fetch them in the afternoon. Sometimes my kids take the bus but I’m a sucker for letting them get some extra shut eye so I usually drive them in the morning.

I’ll just state for the record that I can be a bit “assertive” when I drive. My license plate has PA on it but I’m all Jersey behind the wheel. I’ve been known to take the turn into car line on two wheels, tires screeching with Slim Shady blasting on the radio. Most days though, I just have one-sided conversations with the drivers around me. I try to send out telepathic messages in the hopes the other drivers will heed my advice. Here’s a sample of my brain on car line:

SC: (To the slow moving vehicle with a Namaste bumper sticker) “Hey Namaste – why don’t you Nama-stay outta my way.”

SC: (To the minivan which has a Star Wars stick figure family decal on the back window with 6 car lengths in front of them…)”Is Darth Vader preventing you from pulling all the way up?”

SC: (To the Volvo in elementary school car line, outside of their car, having  coffee talk with another driver) “Could you perhaps move to a different locale? There are now 37 cars behind you and all of the kids are about to be late.”

SC: (To the Tesla Model X) “Move it along McFly, we know you love Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City, let’s go. You’ve opened and closed those doors so many times I expect you to fly off.”

My kids like to point out how ineffective this technique has been. Then I chastise myself when I realize the person in front of me is a good friend. The worst drivers are the people with COEXIST bumper stickers. It’s great when the COEXIST mom cuts you off than gives you the finger for getting her chakras misaligned that day. Namaste mofo, namaste.

If the Olympics ever add stupid driving as a sport, we’ve got some contenders for gold. Once you get through the drop off/pick up, you need to exit the parking lot. I lose my mind a little with the submissive people who have to make a left into a busy intersection. I’ve been an involuntary participant in the parade of cars waiting to turn because docile dad is having an existential crisis and can’t inch his way forward. Just make the turn dude.

Each building of our district has some variation of car line, they all share a common theme of inefficiency and mayhem:

Lower Elementary – Things move at a remarkably slow pace here. I used to wonder if people did craft projects in the back of their cars. Are you making slime back there? Put the Borax down and move forward. It takes a lifetime to get to the front of the line. Lots of hugs and kisses outside of the car as the littles are sent on their way for the day. I was home with these kids for 5 years straight with 4 hour breaks for preschool I don’t need an extra 15 minutes hugging it out at drop off. Lead, follow or get out of the way mom, your kid is fine.

Upper Elementary – Things move a little faster but it is still crowded and slow. Some of the kids have taken up instruments or have large class projects they need to maneuver. The jaws of life have been used more expediently for extractions then the volcano projects that take an eon to get removed from the trunk. Don’t you have to be somewhere today, move it along. Less hugs and kisses seen outside the car but there’s still some affection within the confines of the family vehicle.

Middle School – Most of the time the kids pretend they no longer know their parents. Like some random stranger or Uber got their asses to school. The time for drop off goes down but the stupid driving escalates. For some reason a high percentage of drivers can not grasp the first rule of car line – move forward (all the way). Our drop off/pick up area is in the shape of a semicircle. Drivers tend to only go to the halfway point…why? To get the kid closer to the door? Is there some invisible electronic force field keeping you from pulling all the way up? Are there voices in your head (perhaps Darth Vader) warning you against pulling forward all the way? I got so annoyed with this that I created a meme (featured image).

This chaotic pattern is repeated at pick up. Some people are simply incapable of pulling all the way forward to maximize the amount of cars that can be in the semicircle. I used to wait patiently, observing the tremendous car gap, wondering WTF to myself. Now when I see that I just drive past everyone else and pull into the front of car line. Total suburban anarchist. I haven’t gotten flipped off for it yet probably because most people have their heads down staring at their phones. I don’t know what happens at High School car line but our family is sticking with the slow down to disembark with instructions to tuck and roll as they exit.

Namaste bitches.

 

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.