Monthly Archives: August 2014

Other Than THAT, I Had a Really Nice Time

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Tomorrow, someone will ask me about the recent trip I took to visit my sister and her six-month-old twin boys in Houston, and I will say, “Oh my god, what a nightmare,” and I will proceed to explain in excruciating and somewhat exaggerated detail how I was forced to check my carry-on bag on the first leg of the flight, thus losing critical access to a sweater and a pair of old sneakers, (albeit briefly) and how the airline then lost my luggage (also briefly) upon arrival. I’ll lament how I was without my toiletry bag for most of the evening and compelled to use my sister’s face wash, which upon inspection, contained ingredients that may or may not have had the potential to irritate my skin.

Instead of waxing poetic on the sheer joy it was to hold my baby nephews in my arms, and reconnect with my sisters and brother-in-law, I will describe how on the way home, after waiting several hours for a delayed flight from Charlotte to DC, the flight was cancelled and I was forced to spend a grueling night in a Holiday Inn Express in Belmont, NC. Without a bar, even!  I will grieve the loss of the time I spent sitting in an over-priced neighborhood restaurant chewing on an overcooked steak, while the diner to the left of us, a self-proclaimed seventy-year-old horseback rider downing her second glass of light beer, attempted to feed my four-year-old son pieces of chicken and crispy strips out of her salad with fairly dirty fingernails. “I’m not the type to hurt little children,” she assured us, which was a relief to hear and certainly put any concerns to rest.

Initially, I will politely refrain from mentioning the name of the airline, but once pressed, will admit it was US  Airways and quickly relate the recent revelation that almost everyone I know who has flown them in the past three years has had problems (as I continue to relate this fact, the number of people affected and number of years will grow). I will explain that I have never had a problem flying them before but will avoid them like the plague going forward. I will shake my head and sigh at the abysmal state of customer service in every industry these days.

Never mind talking about the innovative children’s museum exhibits, or the fabulous aquarium or the authentic Texas barbecue; instead I will bemoan the exorbitant number of minutes it took to get a taxi back to my hotel once stranded in downtown Belmont. I will emphasize that my son announced as we were waiting that he had to poop. For humorous effect, I will slightly embellish a chastising I received on my cell phone from a cab driver I had initially called for a pick up after I took a second cab I found waiting instead – but only slightly.

Finally, after finishing a virtually endless litany of gripes and grievances, complaints and criticisms, I will roll my eyes and say, “But, other than THAT, I really had a nice time.” 

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Recent Publications of My Essays….

Just a little self-promotion here! (…which I loathe, but if I don’t toot my own horn, no one will….and why does that sound vaguely masturbatory…?)

Publications of my recent work:

 http://www.scarymommy.com/i-am-a-slob/

http://www.scarymommy.com/woman-interrupted/

http://www.rolereboot.org/family/details/2014-08-congratulating-kids/

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Late Bloomer

flower

I am a late bloomer.

I always have been. Each year on my birthday I receive a phone call from my mother to remind me of how long it took to get me out of her uterus.  “Oh, I remember where I was [fill in the birthday blank] years ago!” she clucks. “Enduring 10 hours of labor trying to give birth to you! God, I thought you’d never come out.”  I thank her for the call and suggest she send an ecard next year.

As the oldest of four girls, I should have been breaking new ground, but instead found myself still playing with Barbie dolls well into my thirteenth year. In fact, one of my younger sisters probably insisted we move on from them and I probably felt disappointed.

I didn’t get my first period until I was almost sixteen years old, a fact I hid from friends in order to maintain my street cred.

“Do you use tampons or pads?” I remember being queried one day in the eighth grade girl’s gym locker room.

“Oh, both,” I replied casually, trying desperately to impress, but not quite certain of how the logistics worked.

It didn’t help that I had the build and haircut of a pre-pubescent boy throughout most of my formative years. At school, younger boys, who still towered over me, would walk behind me in the hall, poking me sharply in the back and asking if I was male or female.  I didn’t answer, but glared and self-importantly adjusted my unnecessary training bra in response.

It was difficult to include pictures of me with a group in my middle school yearbook, as the area between the top of my head and the face of the person standing next to me made for an expanse of empty space.   Most of these pictures cut me off at the chin in order to include everyone’s head in the shot.

I didn’t lose my virginity until I was almost twenty. The idea of exposing myself on both a physical and emotional level terrified me. Not to mention the worry that a suitor would call during my favorite television show. In those pre-DVR days, I valued ‘Must See TV’ over the possibility of a long-term romantic relationship.

Although I started at the age of 17, I didn’t finish college until I was 36 years old. Granted, I wasn’t attending college for most of the 19 years in between, but it took me until my late 30’s to understand the value of having a degree. Also, having student loans makes me feel young and relevant.

As I stand on the precipice that is my 40th birthday, with a hand over my eyes to shield myself from the blinding light of my impending decrepitude, I am still waiting to discover myself creatively. I take comfort in the fact that there are many late bloomers. Colonel Sanders was 65 when he launched Kentucky Fried Chicken. Peter Roget invented the Thesaurus at the age of 73. Dr. Seuss didn’t successfully write children’s books consistently until his 40’s. I suppose I’m in good company as I continue to germinate.

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A Severe Case of KIDS

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Sometimes, when I say that I have KIDS, the words come out of my mouth as if I am mentioning an acronym for an exotic chronic illness that I contracted on a hike through the Congo.  In truth, having children is a condition similar to some long suffering ailment – you’re usually tired, delirious and in need of Advil. The symptoms from having KIDS vary from month to month or year to year, but you’re never actually cured.

I have often imagined an infomercial scene between myself and a helpful OBGYN (or someone who plays one on T.V.) who’s not afraid to give me the real deal immediately after I first learn that I have developed a severe case of children.

Me: So, what can I expect?

Doc: Well, it starts off with several months of nausea, vomiting, swelling of various body parts and seemingly uncontrollable weight gain.

Me: Jesus!

Doc: You may get hemorrhoids or you may get heartburn. Or you may get both.  You may also cry at cat food commercials. You may adore your husband at four in the afternoon, but by six decide to leave him. You may be able to smell something from across the house – which is good if it’s a scented candle, bad if it’s chicken salad from last week that you forgot to throw out.

Me: This sounds pretty bad.

Doc: Oh, don’t worry, it gets worse. Following that phase, which will HOPEFULLY last nine to ten months, you will likely need to be hospitalized briefly while you endure the worst physical pain of your life.

Me: WHAT? Oh my God, that sounds awful!

Doc: Mmmm, yes, it is. You may pray for death. Or at least some tequila.

Me: Can my husband be there?

Doc: Yes, but he won’t be much use. Don’t worry, this stage doesn’t last that long.

Me: Thank goodness for that.

Doc: The next phase is the longest one.  You can expect to undergo varying periods of sleeplessness, self-doubt, anxiety, hostility and aggressive behaviors. You will feel like everything you’re doing is wrong, that you are being judged everywhere you go, and that no one truly appreciates you.

Me: How long does THAT last?

Doc: Oh, it should all clear up in about 18-21 years.

Me: 21 YEARS!?

Doc: And, that’s if you’re lucky. Sometimes, after a brief remission period, KIDS may come back for another few years.

Me: Wow, this all sounds pretty grim. I’m not sure I can handle this. Can’t you give me anything?  You know, for the pain?

Doc: I can give you something to take the edge off. Let me write you a prescription for Chardonnay.

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Boy Toys

Oldie but goodie.

maxisms

I have to admit at this point, that as much as I love my sons, I am not really a big fan of playing with robots, superheroes, cars or other boy paraphernalia. Perhaps it’s because I’m a female (if I can be horribly politically and socially incorrect for a moment), perhaps it’s because I’m a grown up, or perhaps it’s just because sitting on the hard wood floor for more than a half hour at a time is just not physically comfortable after the age of twelve.

I faked it for the first three years of Max’s life. Tried valiantlyto get over that initial brain fog after being requested to come up with a name and a story for the matchbox car I held glumly in my hand. “Um, this car is named Tiffany and she works at the t.v. news station.” (Obviously, I grew up playing Barbies, not cars.)…

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Why do people blog?

woman_typingI awoke recently to discover that everyone on the planet seems to have a blog. While I will admit that my recent retreat into somewhat Luddite territory online has rendered me fairly terrified of social media and the influential power it seems to possess over everything that is seen, heard, written, performed, whispered or belched, the startling notion that everyone wants to put their day-to-day life on display forced me to consider the value of doing just that. And whether I wanted to contribute to what could be described as a pandemic of over-sharing.

I am old enough to remember being an adult before the explosion of the online world that many of us now exist in for more hours of the day than otherwise. Back when people actually spoke the words ‘world wide web’ and ‘information superhighway’ and prefaced URL addresses with ‘double u, double u, double u…’. The idea of writing regularly on a ‘weblog’ that quite likely very few people would see, seemed like a silly idea. It was literally a virtual diary. I mean, why bother? Just go out and buy a pink unicorn-decorated fabric-lined notebook with a flimsy plastic lock like the rest of the world and keep your entries on how cheap your husband is or how annoying your three-your-old is to yourself. The idea of blabbing on and on about what was going on in my life before some kind of unseen audience seemed self-important and frankly boring. Who would want to read about my hangnails and baby’s diaper rashes when they had hangnails and baby’s diaper rashes of their own?

Although many early blogs rose to popularity because of controversial content (remember Dooce.com? The author got fired after writing about some of her co-workers. If that happened today, they’d just return the favor. Or maybe remove their LinkedIn recommendations….), and what I would consider ‘online editorials or journalistic content written by professional writers who get paid for it’ are sometimes referred to as blogs, the sheer number of people writing their own personal blogs, contributing to personal blog sites or tweeting, instagramming, vlogging and whatever the hell else you can turn into a verb these days online makes me feel…..overwhelmed.

Why do people blog?

Certainly human nature is somewhat narcissistic. We crave attention, and if we are intimidated by actual physical attention, even the most introverted of us can appreciate the idea of being….appreciated. It’s nice to know there are others out there who ‘like’ you, understand you or just give a damn about anything going on in your humble, mundane little life. (“Wow, she loves armadillos? I thought I was the only one!”)

And, what was once merely a way to post droll pictures to illustrate the bad humor of your cat, increasingly CAN also make a you rich and famous (see previous cat reference) or at least enhance your salary on the side. Get enough followers and you can make a tidy sum from advertising. Get enough rapid fans and you can create an online revolution or a book that debuts on the New York Times bestseller list.

As someone, who long ago, made a living as a writer (of sorts), the idea of making money using an instantaneous publishing machine seems commonsense. And yet, the sheer volume of content that floats out in the solar system of the internet makes wading through the space junk  somewhat exhausting and painful. I’m not quite sure I want to be another ‘mom with a blog’ who recounts the antics of her precocious and snarky kiddos in list form (‘Top Ten Ways to Distract Your Children When Attempting to Have Sex with Your Husband’) while dealing with the realities of approaching middle-age disappointments with copious amounts of Starbucks lattes and glasses of chardonnay (I want to DO that, but I’m not sure I want to broadcast it).

Like everyone else, I want to be different.

As I am writing this post on my blog, I am either a hypocrite or attempting to make peace with the idea that perhaps blogging CAN be an art form – it can contain well-crafted pieces of illuminating elegance on the human condition. It can be a reflection of one’s inner tormented soul with a word count. It can be thoroughly spell-checked and grammatically correct.

A blog is merely as eloquent and artistic as its author.

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