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Nobody’s Mother

It’s been a year since we adopted our furball, Remi, but I still do not feel led to call him my child.  I am his owner, his care-taker, and certainly one of two adults who care for him above all others.  But when people call me “Remi’s mom,” I do not swell with pride.  I shudder slightly.  And not because I hate children or don’t want to be a mother or because I have issues better dealt with by a professional therapist than a WordPress blog (none of those statements is totally false, let’s be real!….J/K, J/K, I don’t HATE children.  Geez.  Calm down.).  I shudder because I am NOT a mom.  I do not love someone despite their puke and poop.  I do not equate the life of my dog with the life of another human.  And if I ever have a kid, believe you me, I will totally shove you in front of a bus to save their life.  Because, HELLOOOOOO, as a mother, that would be my J-O-B.

For now, though, I delight in the chance to watch Project Runway marathons on my couch all day on Sunday and drink bloody Mary’s every Saturday.  This week, I was volunteering with a mentoring organization (I save the children.  Mainly I do it to put down other people and make them feel like their “charity work” of donating an extra bag of old sweat pants to the Goodwill is pathetic.  You’re welcome.).  A child asked if he could wrap part of his dinner to take home .  Another volunteer, the cutest, most eager, fresh, beautiful, blond-haired, blue-eyed,  quintessential, 20-year-old college student you could ever hope to meet, said, “I don’t know.  Ask Momma [my name].”  I looked at the child.  “Yes.  You can definitely wrap up that taco.”  I addressed the volunteer, “And thank you for the violent shove into motherhood.”  “You’re weclome,” she said, bright-eyed.  “You kind-of are their mother…you’re kind of like MY mother.”  I turned back to the kitchen sink where I was washing dishes, slayed, silent, and unable to fully comprehend the weight of her words.  Your mother.  MOTHER!?!?!?  I am !@#$ing 30 years old!  I am NOT. YOUR. MOTHER. I am literally not even old enough to be your mother.  I was in your SAME DECADE a MERE 46 days ago, Miss TINYFIRMTIGHT.  I dropped my shoulders.  I swallowed my disgust.  I turned around.

“Then, stand up straight and stop SLOUCHING,” said Someone’s Someday Mother.

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Simply flush.

Dear Person on my Floor at Work,

It’s time for an embarrassing but serious talk about the state of the public restrooms on our floor.  And let’s focus mainly on the way you leave them.  First of all, to establish, we’re all adults.  No children use our restroom.  There is not a daycare in our building.  Second, in case you aren’t sure about this, the next step after using the bathroom is flushing the toilet.  Go ahead. Sit back.  Take some deep breaths.  I know this is new information for you.  To flush the toilet, since you apparently have never done that before, simply press down on the silver handle that is located behind the porcelain bowl. Hold it down until the bowl is clean.  You may need to repeat this process more than once.  This will be take approximately two extra seconds, but the time spent will be much appreciated by EVERY SINGLE WOMAN ON OUR FLOOR.  And since this happens ALMOST EVERY SINGLE DAY, just think of how many people you’ll be making happy.  Or at least not disgustedly nauseated.

To be clear, I do feel sorry for you.  I’m sure it is no dream of yours to encounter gastric distress on a daily basis, particularly in the workplace.  And I will assume that you aren’t eating day-old sushi or bad takeout every night.  I’ll give  you the benefit of the doubt and choose to believe you are stricken with a gastric disorder beyond your control and I’ll give you some sympathy for how stressful this issue is.  HOWEVER.  You could get a lot more sympathy and appreciation from all of us if you would JUST FLUSH.  I’m embarrassed to even be writing this letter, but I had to get it off my chest.  So, stranger that I know intimately more than I would ever choose to, take heed.  Take heed and flush.  Because I’m not sure how much more of this I can take!

Signed,

A Friend

As a child, I loved flying.  We got to fly once every year or three and I delighted in it.  Carrying my bookbag as my carry-on.  Eating the little packs of peanuts.  Getting to drink Coke!  As the flying experience has declined, so has my enthusiasm for the adventure.  After nearly stripping for a TSA agent with an x-ray machine and rubber gloves prior to boarding, one can now look forward to being nickel-and-dimed by the airlines for some snack packs and maybe even concussed by a savvy traveler removing a giant bag that they refuse to pay to check from the overhead bins. 

This lack of enthusiasm was my prevailing attitude as my husband and I boarded the first of two legs of a recent West-coast-bound trip (part pleasure, part business).  Unnerved from the security scan and the prospect of being trapped in two cubic feet for most of the next 8 hours, I pulled some knitting out of my carry-on.  The knitting craze hit my college campus in my sophomore year and despite my first completed project being a very pathetic and misformed scarf, it is a habit and a hobby in which I take much pleasure.  Something about knitting busies my hands and quiets my mind, which makes it a perfect activity for air travel.  Or so I thought. 

The passenger across the aisle was instantly interested.  “So, you’re KNITTING?”  Um, no, no I’m sure not.  I’m doing yoga.  It just looks like knitting.  “Yes, I am.”  “Oh,’ she sighed, “I wish I could KNIT.  It would be SO NICE to make handmade gifts.”  Well, ma’m, I’m sorry to say that you’re probably too old to learn.  It took me 7 years of training while living in a monestary in the Swiss Alps and it is an expensive habit to keep up.  It’s more challenging than neurosurgery and more rare than space travel.  Yes, sad to say that if the monks didn’t choose you from birth, you have almost no chance of learning.  “Mmmmmmmmm.  I like it.”  I finished one stage of the project and pulled a small pair of scissors out of a Swiss Army tool and clipped the yarn.  I put it back in my purse.  “Can I see what you just put in your wallet?”  Did it look like a tiny pair of scissors?  Because it was.  And yes, I now have to show you so as to not appear all crazy, but honestly, who asks to review the contents of a perfect stranger’s wallet?! “Sure.  It’s a little pair of clippers.  My brother gave me this tool.  It’s made by Swiss Army knife.  It has a small knife, but I left it at home because of the airport security scans.”  “Amazing!  They LET YOU bring that on the PLANE?”  She’s now looking me up and down to see if I might be a terrorist.  “No, they didn’t.  I actually got turned back at security, black-listed from ever flying again, but I drove down to the south end of the tarmac, and scaled the razor-wire fence, avoiding the security cameras and lights and beefy luggage-hauling men, only to shimmy up a gutter, gain entry into the airport through an air duct, and drop through the ceiling in the women’s bathroom next to gate 5, where I presented my falsified boarding pass to the ticket agent and came on this plane to take it down with a pair of scissors that has a half-inch blade.  But now you’ve caught me and my plan is FOILED!!!” “Yes.  They did.  They definitely let me on the plane.” 

She looked around, probably wondering which unassuming passenger was actually an air marshal.  What a little vigilante, you know?  If we weren’t debating the validity of a small pair of clippers strong enough to cut YARN, I might have appreciated her attention to safety.  However, since I was on trial to prove myself as a non-dangerous, productive member of society, I was not interested in her questions.  I tried to appear to be concentrating very hard on my knitting.  You know, kind of exercising my 5th amendment right to remain silent.    Luckily, the captain pushed back from the gate and sound of the engine drowned out the rest of her questions and I turned to interrogate my seat-mate.  You know, just to pass on the crazy… 

First world problems

Have you ever noticed how life tends to go in cycles, peaks of “mostly awesome,” followed by troughs of “mostly bull$—?”  Well, I have.  And I am happy to report that I’m in a mostly awesome cycle of life, where a lot of things are going my way.  If I could magically send my husband through a super-speed time warp to finish grad school over night and train my dog to let himself out for a responsible 10-minute potty break in the middle of the day, I’d eliminate about 80% of the stress in my life.  And if those are the two biggest things I have to worry about, well, then you should hate me. My problems are, as one of my wise friends would say, first world problems.  Meaning that no one who lives in a second or third world country w0uld call any of the crap I complain about a problem.  Like, instead of worrying about talking to the acne-ridden kid at the grocery store, these people are worried about how they are going to feed their children tonight, not to mention how they might feed them for the next week.

Unfortunately, a lot of the people I know and love are having real problems. Real nitty, gritty, challenging, keep-you-up-at-night-problems.  Like being sick, or loving people who are sick, or wanting to start a family, or being overwhelmed by too many little ones, or hating their jobs or not having a job or just, you know, legitimately struggling.  And all I want to say is that my whining is just that, silly whining, and to reassure all my millions of readers that I know the difference between the problem of talking to the guy who is carrying your groceries and the problem of actually not having enough food.

So no worries, my friends.  I will continue to be petty and whiny and cynical (because, honestly, who doesn’t NEED more of that in their lives?!?!), but I just want to frame up that I have done so and will do so through a lens of actually being pretty damn lucky.  And blessed.  And a first-class citizen of the first world.

We all know that I’m not very good at going to the grocery store.  Today’s visit highlighted another moment of awkwardness, and that is the question of what to do with the bag boy.  And no, I don’t mean it like that.  Geez.  Some people.  After paying for my mother-load of groceries today, some shy high-school student had the unfortunate task of walking me and my groceries to my car, all in the name of customer service.   I never know what to do with these little guys.   I usually have a few inches height on them, as well as about 30 pounds, so exactly what benefit it is to me to have a smaller, weaker person push my groceries to my car, after I’ve pushed them around the store for the last 45 minutes is a bit perplexing.

There is also the issue of how fast to walk and how much to talk.  I’m a quick walker, but today, I glanced back to see my groceries and my bag boy trailing me by about 15 feet.  I wanted to ask him to step it up, as now this bit of customer service has become customer disservice, costing me approximately 17.6 seconds of my precious weekend.    It is also hard to know how much to talk to this awkward, shuffling ball-of-teenage-angst or what to say.  It transports me back to high school immediately as I wrack my brain, “What should I say?  ‘Nice weather?’  No, geez no, only old people talk about the weather?  Am I old?  Well, no, but, yes, to this kid, I’m definitely old.  I’m literally twice his age.  Twice?!?!  That reminds me, I forgot to pick up moisturizer with sunscreen.  That skin around my eyes looks like total crap.  That’s why I need to make a list.  I forget things because I’m OLD!  So, should I ask him about school?  No.  That’s weird. And dumb.  He knows I don’t care about where he goes to school or if he likes this job or how long his shift is today.  He hates his job.  And he probably totally hates me.  And he thinks I’m old.  And fat.  And a weird, high-strung fast-walker.”

And by then we’re usually at my car and I say something dumb and painfully obvious like, “This is my car.  You can put the groceries in the trunk.” And awkward-ball-of-angst begins to unload my bags of boring, grown-up, high-fiber, low sodium food into the trunk of my super-cool sedan at a pace that my grandmother would find unhelpful.  I never know if I should tip those little guys either.  They’ve cost me time and anxiety and they are providing a service I didn’t ask for and I’d rather be doing myself.  And so I don’t tip them.  And I feel a little bad about it and also a little annoyed.  And I resolve to shop at places that would never think to provide courtesy clerks.  Because what’s so great about service, anyway?!?!?

Mrs. Unabomber

Sometimes your team wins.  And sometimes they lose.  And sometimes, it is apparent that they are going to lose.  At our house, I can tell our team is going to lose based on my husband’s attire.  When we are winning, he sits forward on the couch and sometimes claps or animatedly yells, but his tone is positive.  As “we” begin to lose, he takes on a persona I can only describe to you as Unabomberesque.  As in, like the Unabomber.  He pulls up the hood of his sweatshirt and as the team declines in their ability to execute plays, my husband retreats further and further back in his hood until I can no longer see his face.  This is my sign to go read a book, or go to bed, or watch the game from our other TV.  In last night’s Sugar Bowl, this “moment” occurred early in the third quarter.

We are not over it.

We won’t be over it for a long time.

And yet.

We begin the countdown to the 2012 season today.  And I already cannot wait.  This may be the definition of insanity.

It’s a good thing I married the Unabomber.

When nerds find true love

Have you ever wondered what happened to those geeky nerds you couldn’t stand in high school?  Well, sometimes they fall in love and get married and spend the rest of their lives bonding over nerdy things.  Observe:

Last night, we were tucking into bed and enjoying a few pages of reading, my husband (who wears glasses and has lovely, straight teeth), glanced over to my night stand and made a comment that I sure had a lot of books over there.  I’ve made two recent trips to the library  and did not return the first batch of books before I checked out the second.  What can I say?  I’m a rebel and a nerd.  A nerdy rebel.  Then the conversation went like this:

Husband (starting to laugh): It’s too bad they don’t have those reader programs for adults like they do for kids.  You’d win a pizza or an ice cream cone in no time!

Me:  No, the frequent reader program was through Pizza Hut, not the library, and I totally did that in elementary school.  I loved earning a personal pan pizza!

Husband:  Really?  When I was in elementary school, they did it through the library and you could earn ice cream cones and pizza from businesses in town if you read a certain number of books.

Me:  We had that too, in the summer, at the library, but you earned things like a water bottle or a tote bag….you know, to carry your library books.

Husband: (body beginning to be wracked by laughter, rendering him barely able to speak) A tote bag!?!?  What kind of a nerd WERE YOU?!?!  Who has so many library books that they have to carry them in a tote bag!?!?

Me:  What I MEANT was that it was a small tote bag, not a duffel bag.  I just wanted you to know.

Husband:  (laughing too hard to speak)

Me: —

Me: Ok, HEAD GEAR!

Husband:  I did not wear head gear…[My brother] wore head gear.  I wore a palate expander.

Me:  Oh, ho ho!  Well, then, OK, FOUR EYES!

And, scene.