Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Awkward Moments With Teens


I have four teenagers.  Yes, F-O-U-R.  I didn't realize how much easier it was when they were toddlers.  Because back then I was just so exhausted from entertaining them and trying to be the perfect parent, trying to cover up the fact that I'm a flawed human being.  It's a relief in a way when kids get to be teenagers and you can stop pretending you don't swear.  But, it comes at a cost.  And that cost is a lot of awkward moments with your teens.

It starts in the tween years before they're even teenagers and you tell them about sex.   Trying your best to be honest, direct and make eye contact with your kid, who can't look you in the eye because they are so grossed out by the thought of you, they're old, embarrassing, disgusting parent doing that.  But, what's even more awkward than that is when you get a new king size mattress for your bed and you go to give your oldest (who has a crappy mattress) your old queen size one because it's still in good condition.  And then you think about the things that have happened on said mattress (I'm sure that thought gives my kids nightmares) and hope that your teens don't do that for a long, long, long time (the thought keeps me up at night).  

The truth is, I kind of resent my kids in a way.  I know that sounds really bad, so let me explain. It's their fast metabolism and that fact that they can eat whatever they want without consequences.  (Except for dairy products, I've got a couple kids who need to avoid those or we all suffer.)  That and the way they know everything.  I remember when I was a teenager, when everything was so black and white before I realized I didn't know a damn thing. Not one.  Because you only realize how stupid you truly are when you have kids of your own to raise.  And then you're like...."Who the hell let me have kids? I'm a complete idiot!"

Of course your teenagers only reinforce the notion that you are an idiot.  Like when you can't help them with their algebra homework.  Or when you're teaching them to drive and they call you out on all your everyday traffic infractions.  Then suddenly out of nowhere, they start to think something you're doing is cool.  So they start borrowing (stealing) your sneakers (chucks) to wear to school. And you're like oh my god, I'm cool.  My kids think I'm cool!  But, they don't.  They think they are cool wearing your chucks, but they think you look as old, embarrassing and ridiculous in them as you are wearing or doing anything else.  Then one day they return your chucks to your closet (all molded to their foot) because now vans are way cooler.  And now it feels like you're walking in someone else's shoes. Because you are!

Then there's the whole social media thing.  As if I don't embarrass my kids enough in real life, social media and my blog take it to a whole other level.  I think the stuff I put out online is PG, at most, but it doesn't matter.  My kids are absolutely mortified by it just the same. Especially when their classmates find my blog. Which is exactly what happened with my youngest recently.  She told me so-and-so from her 7th grade class reads my blog.  Even though I try to tread carefully with my writing, especially where my kids are concerned, I have an underlying guilt that what I share publicly effects them.  So, I asked the important question: "Does he think I'm funny?"  

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Loss


Buddha says, "The root of suffering is attachment."  Think about it, everything that brings you some semblance of happiness will have an end eventually.  Everything is temporary.  Be in the moment.  And when things end, send them on their way with your best wishes.  I try to live my life this way.  With one notable exception.  My hair.  I will not give up to hair loss without a fight.

This whole aging gig is really sexist.  If a man gets wrinkles it makes him look rugged. Grey hair makes him look distinguished.  And a guy going bald can look really hot.  But, none of these things are true for women.  Having shaved my head once upon a time for charity I already know exactly what I look like without hair.  And that I have a really weird shaped head which is why I'm fighting this fight to keep my hair so hard.

It started a few years ago.  I noticed when I was in the shower that there was more hair clogging my shower drain than there was on my head.  The thing is, I have thin hair to begin with.  On top of that, I just finally figured out how my hair looks best. When my daughters complain about hating their hair, I always tell them they'll love it when they're about 40, which is the age when self acceptance really begins. (I leave out the part about losing it. Because some things are better left unsaid.)

I've tried thickening shampoos and conditioners; they only made my hair look frizzy.  I tried expensive serums, which made made my hair look greasy.  Then I found an inexpensive root stimulator spray at the drugstore.  What did I have to lose except more hair?  Except, now it's harder to find.  I scour the store shelves, but most times it's just not there.  So, I did what every American woman would do, I found it on Amazon and ordered a shit ton of it.  But, I've come to the realization that it's just a matter of time before this product is discontinued.  And I'll suffer a loss all over again.  Do you see what a vicious cycle attachment is?



Now, I've got to up the ante.  I think I'm ready for the hard stuff: drugs.  And by drugs I mean herbal supplements.  So, I did my research to find just the right weapon to wage my own personal war on hair loss.  Then, I found it.  According to Consumer Reports, it's the top rated herbal supplement for promoting hair growth.  Making it my weapon of choice.
But, I'm skeptical.  The question I have is...does it promote all hair growth?  Like all over my body? Because when you're a woman in your forties, you start to get hair sprouting from weird places.  So now, are my random, scattered chin hairs going to turn into a full on beard?  There's only one way to find out...my package from Amazon is supposed to arrive later today.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Off the Grid



There's nothing I love more than being off the grid.  Isolated out in the middle of nowhere, connecting with nature while I disconnect from the rest of the world, especially Wifi.  It rejuvenates me.  But (as with most things in life), there are certain conditions.

We arrived in the middle of nowhere in the Mojave Desert by RV, the most fuel-abusive, environmentally unfriendly vehicle outside of a tank.  (I haven't actually compared the fuel efficiency of these two vehicles, but I'm sure this is accurate.)  Also, I'm traveling with eight other people, so it's far from being isolated.  We drove through towns in the desert with smaller populations.  And when I say "we" drove, I mean my husband.  He didn't let me drive because he doesn't trust me with a 30 foot vehicle.  Which was a really sound decision on his part.

Let me just go through some preliminary rules we established the first time we rented an RV.  First and foremost: NO ONE POOPS IN THE RV.  Because the only thing worse than being cooped up in a small space with 5 other people for a week is the experience of someone lightening their load 2 feet away with the only a flimsy door for protection.  Secondly, no one showers in the RV.  The shower serves as the wet bar for the trip.  And happy hour takes precedence over hygiene.  Plus, if all 6 of us showered there'd be no water left to cook and wash our hands with.  We only take showers when we pay to stay in real campsites with public bathrooms, which is every other day or so, depending.  But, when we're camping off the grid, boondocking, you cop a squat by a cactus and put on an extra swipe of deodorant (or two).  Also, don't forget to buy Febreeze at the beginning of the trip like I always do.

We're somewhere in the middle of the desert, parked right next to a cliff for the night.  Because, why not?  There's no one here to tell us not to.  In fact, we haven't seen anyone else for miles.  And we also haven't had phone service for miles.  Which was exactly what we wanted.  We opened a bottle of wine and watched the sun set over the mountains.



BLISS.

Until we went to bed.  An extremely small bed.   So small that every time I roll over I whack my arm into the adjacent cabinet.   An extraordinarily small bed in an RV with five roommates (including a teeth grinder and an incessant snorer).  That's when the wind picked up.  And you know how everything can be great during the day, but when you wake up in the middle of the night you start to worry about everything?  Especially when you're awoken by a chorus of snoring, teeth grinding and a wind so strong you think you're going to get blown off a cliff.  That's when anxiety turns to certain doom in your mind.  Did we (and by "we", I mean my husband) put the parking break on?  What if someone suddenly gets life threateningly ill and we need to find a hospital in the dead of night?  And then we drive over a cactus and get a flat tire.  How far would we have to hike to get phone service to call an ambulance?  Do they even have ambulances out here?  And if we all die after exhausting our supply of trail mix, water and wine (of course that would be the first ration to go)... how long would it take before someone discovered our dead bodies?  And would we be picked apart by vultures or some other desert creature?  After a few hours in the dark contemplating all the options, I decided it was probably just more efficient if the parking break was off and we just rolled over the cliff. 

When I'm off the grid, I've got lots of time to think.
And over think. 
Which isn't a good thing.
No matter what Thoreau says to the contrary.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Becoming Andy Rooney


I've been sick for over two weeks now.  The thing about getting old is it takes longer to recover from everything.  Even going to the grocery store requires I have a little down time to recuperate now.  But, having an illness or an injury is the absolute worst.  And I want to complain about it all the time.  How shitty I feel.  How I exhausted I am. But, no one cares.  I'm just an old curmudgeon with a plethora of grievances.  I've become Andy Rooney.

No one thinks they're going to become Andy Rooney (especially if it comes with the overgrown eyebrows and hunchback posture).  I'm pretty sure Andy Rooney didn't even want to be Andy Rooney.  But, sooner or later, it happens to all of us.  But, it happens so gradually you hardly even notice.  And then, before you know it you're that person who's outraged that the sign in the express line at the grocery store says '15 items or less' instead of fewer.  Or you're shocked that people don't know how to balance a checkbook anymore.

[As I write this it's 6:30am on Sunday morning and I've been up for an hour.  My husband just got out of bed and brought me an inhaler because, apparently, I've been coughing (completely unaware that I've been doing so) since I got up at 5:30am.  (Old people get up early, even on the weekends.) As a doctor, he's diagnosed me with asthma.  Which I think is a load of crap.  I've just had a cough for the past 9 years.  And hell if I'm going to use an inhaler and then become dependant on it.  All to solve a problem I don't even have. (Old people often live in denial.)]

Before I got sick with this respiratory illness (that I have no idea how I got because I'm basically a hermit who hangs out at home writing, reading and balancing my checkbook), I suffered an elbow injury back in December which aches constantly.  I feared it was Tennis Elbow; I also worry that I'm going to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and/or Arthritis, which would restrict me from doing the things I love. My husband says it's just overuse and that I need to rest it. Yeah...how do I not use my elbow on my right arm?  I'm right handed.  And among all the other things I do, like laundry and making dinner, I also scribble reminder notes for myself on scraps of paper (which I later lose) with that hand.  Which is very important at this age.  Not to mention, balancing my checkbook. Making it impossible for me to rest my elbow.  Plus, as my husband likes to remind me,  I'm old, so it's going to take me even longer to heal.  So forget that, I've got to do stuff now while I still can. Before I die.

Last weekend my husband's band played a gig at a bar.  Thank god, he was slated to perform at 7:30pm: the early bird special.  I was already exhausted and just the thought of socializing at a bar on a Friday night depleted me even more.  Then, when the waitress came over to take my drink order she carded me.  Are you even joking?  Don't patronize me. Look at the scowl lines on my face.  Do young people have these?  I have earned each and every one of them.  On top of that, she was one of those people who calls everyone by a term of endearment like "baby", "honey", "sugar", which I hate. It's cringeworthy, as my youngest would say.  Especially because she's 26 (I know this after she made me guess her age, which is also really annoying) making her young enough to be my daughter.  So really, I should be the one calling her "baby".

Then, I'm sitting at this table by myself when my husband's band comes on when this couple (that I know I know from somewhere, but I can't figure out where) joins me.  First of all, they don't even acknowledge my existence.  No..."is this seat taken"?  No eye contact.  Nothing.  Weird, right? Then, at the end of every song, they just sit there.  No clapping.  Nothing.  Where are your manners?  Can you get up and do it better?  Are you waiting for them to play Free Bird?  What's it gonna take for you to clap?  It still pisses me off to think about it.  And the fact that I still can't figure out where I know them from.

My transformation to Andy Rooney is complete.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Mystery of Daylight Savings Time




Has anyone even asked daylight savings time if it wants to be saved?  Can't we just have a 5k run to save it like we do with everything else in America instead of changing the clocks?  And would it be possible to just roll this daylight savings time into my IRA?  Because why the hell do we have daylight savings time?  What are we saving it from? An abusive relationship with nightfall?

It's one of those American cultural things we do that we have no idea why we do it.  Kind of like asking people how they are.  We don't actually want to know the real answer, so why do we ask the question?  Because that's what we've always done.  And that's what our parents did.  That's what we're supposed to do.  Same with saving the daylight.  Or not switching over to the metric system. It just doesn't make sense.

But, the difference between coveting inches and saving daylight is that we're not the only ones still holding on to this tradition for no apparent reason.  And we Americans didn't even invent it.  It was invented by a entomologist in New Zealand who wanted more time to look for bugs after work.  Seriously.  And then the British proposed it.  But, it really took off when the Germans were looking for ways to reduce energy costs in WWI.  And that's when we jumped on the bandwagon and it became law in 1918.  Because we were a country run on coal and changing the clocks back then did actually save us energy.  

Now we just do it because we've always done it this way.  And who doesn't like to go listen to live music in a local park in July and have picnic dinner on a Tuesday night after work?  Except that eventually you'll have to use the overused porta potty there.  What about waiting until 10pm until it's dark enough to see a movie at the drive-in only to get eaten by mosquitoes?   That and it's really hard to convince a little kid that it's that bed time when it's not dark outside yet.  Not to mention that your house doesn't cool down until 1am if you don't have air conditioning.  And you know how depressing it is in November when we're done saving the daylight and it's pitch black at 5pm again.  Plus the revert back is linked to higher heart attack risks and car accident fatalities.

Wait, why are we saving the daylight again?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Fashion Trends I Like (On Other People)

Photo from Pinterest
There are actually a lot of fashion trends I like.  Not that you'd know that from what I wear, because I don't wear them.  I find that I like them better on other people.  Other women who are willing to put in the work and suffer the discomfort to pull them off.  I'll let them be slaves to fashion, while I remain a slave to comfort.

Let's work from head to toe.  Bangs can look so edgy.  Bonus, when you're in your forties they also  provide cover for the lines on your forehead.  Making it a very multi-purpose, strategic style.  Unless you look horrible in bangs, like I do.  I know because I had them in the late 80's and I looked like Michelle Duggar.  Which is why I'll never get them again.  Nor will I ever go blond.  Although I'm a fan of that baby blond that's almost platinum, but not quite.  I just don't have the personality to go with it.  Plus, I'm lazy.  I get my hair colored and cut semi-annually and even that exhausts me.  And that subtle cat eye look?  Have you tried it?  I'm convinced that women who get their black eyeliner to look the same on both sides are witches.  And while I love the colors that lipstick comes in (and ogle it at the store), I don't wear it because I don't look good in it.  Not only that, it makes my teeth look yellow.

Whenever I'm shopping and I see a poncho I'll always try to figure out a way to justify buying it.  But, I can't.  They give off such a whimsical, I'm-hanging-out-at-a-fun-fall-festival-where-there's-a-chill-in-the-air-but-it's-not-too-brisk vibe.  However, poncho weather only happens exactly 10 minutes out of every year.  And fall festivals are never as fun as you imagine they're going to be.  But, most importantly, ponchos are so incredibly impractical.  It's like wearing a big afghan your grandma crocheted for you and then dredging it through everything you touch.   It's much the same with the new bell sleeves that are so popular right now.  I bought an adorable bell sleeve sweater earlier this year.  And when I wore it for the first time I realized I'm also relagated to wearing everything I eat on my sleeves.  But, it is like a built-in napkin, so there's that.  And forget lighting candles in it, especially if the shirt is made out of a really flammable fabric.  Honorable mention: I also love white button down shirts.  But I don't wear them for two reasons:  I don't iron and I'd be sure to stain it with the first wear.   

Oooohhh pencil skirts, how I love you.  Except I don't live a pencil skirt lifestyle.  I live more of a twill capri lifestyle.  But, I don't like twill or capris.  And I hate shorts.  I hate them so much.  However, I love jeans so much that I wear them every day.  Even when it's hot and I hike.  I buy them in a dark wash and size up to account for shrinkage.  Then, I wear them until they're almost obscene: tight, faded with holes all over them.  That's right, I'm an old-fashioned girl, so I like to earn the holes in my jeans.  Also, why the hell is the inseam on women's jeans so damn long?  We're not all six foot tall long-legged Amazon princesses.  Which is why I often cut the bottom hem right off so they're frayed.  Which oddly, looks like it's trending right now.  I'd like credit for starting this lazy-ass trend years ago!

Oh I could make my short legs look longer by wearing heels I suppose.  I used to wear heels with pencil skirts to work back in my 20s.  And then I turned 30.  And then overnight, I stopped caring if I had visible panty lines while wearing my ass-hugging skirts.  And I realized life was far too short to go hobbling through it because my feet hurt constantly.  Plus, I never really could walk in the damn things anyway.  Partly because I walk really fast.  Which probably makes me look like I'm rushing to the ladies room.  Flats are the obvious answer.  I'd look like Audrey Hepburn in a pair of ballet flats.  I've tried.  And I don't.  The thing with ballet flats is you don't wear socks or you wear those thin, tiny no show socks.  Either way, my feet are always cold.  And when my feet are cold, they sweat.  (I know that doesn't make sense. Welcome to my world.)  So, if there's something that looks worse than me walking in heels, it's me looking like I'm race-walking in ballet flats while sliding on the foot sweat in the bottom of my shoe.  

And this is why I wear t-shirts, jeans and sneakers every day and have resigned myself to appreciating fashion trends on other people. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Culture Shock

You know how sometimes you don't know the answer until someone asks you the question.  Last summer I had a dear friend move back to the States after living abroad for seven years.  She asked me whether it was part of the normal reverse culture shock of moving back to feel overwhelmed by texts, e-mails and trying to keep in touch with people.  No, I responded.  That's not from moving back.  That's the new normal for American culture.  Everyone feels that way.  

Not only that, everyone also feels disenfranchised, no matter what your beliefs.  And in the great American tradition, if you feel like no one's listening to you, just say it louder and more frequently.  It doesn't matter what you're saying and whether it's true or not.  The people with those same beliefs will gravitate to you and you'll make like-minded people like you and more importantly, your shared beliefs, even more.  That's how extremism works.   Which only makes the divide in our nation even worse.  If that's even possible.  

Because of technology, everything is changing so fast.  We have to stay connected to keep up. Because of fear, we're rushing to judgment and seeking quick fixes instead of seeking long term solutions.  The result being,  we're all in a constant state of stress and I don't think most of us even realize that we are.  "But how are people coping?", my friend asked.  "By being assholes", I replied.  

Not that everyone is a but-what's-in-it-for-me-selfish-asshole, I actually firmly believe they're in the minority.  But the thing is they're a really, loud obnoxious minority, so they seem like they're the majority.  Now, the better part of the rest of the world has thought Americans are assholes for years.  Because let's face it, we've done a lot of selfish, asshole-ish things around the world.  It's just that now it's starting to effect our bottom line.  

While 2017 was a record year for international travel, travel to the US was down by 4%.  Which doesn't seem like much, until you convert it dollars which ttranslates to 32 billion dollars lost, not to mention the subsequent loss of American jobs in the tourist industry.  Foreigners are scared to travel here.  With the travel bans and derogatory comments about their countries made by our president, I can't blame them.  You're scared to travel here?  Try living here.   Last week I had to contemplate what to do when a student at my kids' school threatened to blow it up.  This is the new normal now.   And there's no end in sight.  

What's the solution?  I wish I knew.  But, it starts with realizing that what we do (or don't do) has an effect on everything and everyone else on the planet.  And the effect of those will come right back to us like karma.  We live in a global economy, therefore, isolating ourselves isn't a viable long-term solution.   We need to focus on what we have in common to move forward, instead of the curating the diviseness that's crippling us as a culture. 

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