Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Life, the universe, and everything

I just completed another trip around the sun. Not really a dazzling achievement, but one which I will reflect on in my own self-indulgent way.

They didn't used to be so exhausting, so physically draining, so emotionally consuming. In my defense, I was busy doing a lot more than simply "aging" this past year. 

I read two books. That fact could be more embarrassing than the accomplishment it felt like given I have owned both books for well over a year. That is why my library card goes under-utilized... oh the fees! (and the funny smell of the pages). But I did it. Hurray for escaping into a good book. Now there are two more items in the piles of stuff around my house of things I am unsure what to do with. (yes, I will donate them eventually... four years, tops). 

I was busy trying my best not to ruin my children for life. This was not necessarily a successful endeavor. Only time will tell, but I would guess it's nothing a few years of good therapy can't help. For the record, my "best" counts as what I have to give and I used most, if not all of it.

I was busy continuing my attempt to make the people around me laugh, and also widening that circle of people to include more strangers and members of the general public. Also not necessarily a successful endeavor, but for some reason continues to be fun. It makes me feel good more than it makes me feel bad, which is more than I can say about running. 

Running, another thing I tried to do more of. Not exactly sure why, since my body does little in the way of tone and tighten these days, but for a few months those runs were all of the "me" time I got. Me time, more like meh time... ammiright??!!* (*example of jokes I tell in front of other people. To be clear, I said it's fun for me, I didn't say how anyone else felt about it).

I was busy baking treats and eating some truly lovely things. Baking is one of the many things I learned from my mother and one of the few things I have to give to my children. Pro tip: when you don't have the emotional fortitude to reckon with life's difficulties, kill some time making the house smell like butter and cinnamon and then bribe them with the sugary results.

Prior to the world shutting down, we went on a bunch of fantastic trips: England, Barcelona, Austin, England (again!), Park City, Maine. That list is either a pathetic attempt at a humble brag, or a partial list of things we can't do and won't be able to do again for the foreseeable future. Ah, good times. 

For the past five months, I have traveled only in my mind. I have been a prisoner of my own lovely life. A life I was rather enjoying before the world turned upside down (yes, I've also been busy watching a lot of Hamilton). A life I have continued to enjoy at random intervals between the anxiety attacks, stress eating sessions, eliminating all contact with the outside world, re-engaging with the outside world, Netflix binges, suicidal ideations, Amazon sprees, guilt for the stress eating because so many people don't have enough to eat, home-schooling meltdowns (both mine and theirs), feeling like a prisoner in a very nice apartment, forgetting how to socialize, overwhelming concern for people I have never met, daydreaming about donuts, heightened sense of impending societal doom, and a few paper cuts thrown in for good measure (one while squeezing a lemon, which felt like the most accurate depiction of the exact moment in history it occurred in). 

That has been the life on this most recent passage around the sun. 

But there has also been love. Most notably the unbending and (at times shockingly) consistent love and support from the person who chose to spend his life with me, and whom I would have easily understood wanting to change that decision at any point, but for some reason doesn't. I feel loved which makes it possible for me to love. I love him more than I love donuts.

There has been light. In between temper tantrums and meltdowns and crying fits (mostly mine), my children have provided some levity. I have learned a lot. Mostly that they scream at each other a ton. My big takeaway is that I probably have the condition: misophonia and will simply have to learn to live in a constant state of anxiety around my own children... but I'm pretty sure that condition greatly overlaps with another condition known as parenthood, so I'll be fine. Sometimes I make them smile though, and it rights the ship and reminds me of my own capacity for love and why I love making people smile, specifically those two tiny people.

There has been laughter. Turns out I can make more than just my immediate family laugh. I can make my close friends laugh too. And in one of their words: "I thought it was going to be awkward and terrible, but you're actually pretty funny, kind of like a real comedian."

There has been family. Even though there hasn't been a lot of in-person time with our entire family recently, the connection is always felt. Together, we miss each other as if the act is enough to bring us together somehow, at least until we can be together again.

There have been great meals (and some sh!t ones too), but... so many meals shared and increased family time that I will choose to overlook that we probably relied on pasta a bit too much, and rather just focus on celebrating that we had that time. 

Remember all those trips? A lot of fun times and great food with dear friends. Did I mention the laughter? Well, it is what has sustained me this year, and fortified me to enter the next one, so probably best to mention it again.

42: the answer to life, the universe and everything. It was. I think I get it. The answer is not actually knowing everything... it is simply knowing that. That is the answer because I feel the weight of it. All of it. The weight for myself, for my family, for my community, for my country, for the world, for humankind. The weight of not knowing what's going to come, what will become of our health, our livelihoods, our love, our laughter, our humanity, our empathy, our ability to care for one another, to see good in others and to bring out the best in each other.

I don't know what the next journey around the sun will bring. I will carry with me the things I loved about this past one and prioritize them above all else: above the noise, the drama, the pain. 

Another year of life is cause to celebrate, so today I will celebrate. Tomorrow I will continue to search for ways to make it all a bit better, the way that the people I have let into my life make it all a bit better for me. At the very least I will continue to search for a way to help people smile while we tackle the undertaking of healing this world. All while continuing to search for good donuts.

Sunrise, sunset... 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Whatcha doin?

Hello friend! I hope this post finds you well, safe and secluded somewhere with an abundance of toilet paper and whatever essentials you need.

First, an apology: I haven't been posting so much because I have been performing jokes live on stage for handfuls of people at a time. Fun, but that means I haven't been writing here regularly.

I don't want to neglect you, my true OG audience. However, transcribed jokes rarely work.
So, what can I share with you?

Well, I have been keeping myself busy in quarantine making videos with my friends and family.

Here's a video starring my kids, because they were the only cast I live with and could get last minute and free*.

A (lack of) Space Oddity

Please enjoy. Please stay home. Please stay safe. Please wash your hands. But most importantly, please stay home.

See you soon!

*They were well fed on set.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Crackers We Deserve

I suppose we have no one to blame but ourselves.

First they came with the shrinking candy bar sizes, and I spoke out because it wasn't just that my hands were getting bigger, the candy was getting smaller. King Size is a sham.

Then they came with the multiple sizes of rolls of toilet paper, and I spoke out, because it seemed egregious.
4 titan rolls = 874 regular rolls... no one said there would be math.

Then they came with the chocolate diamonds, and I spoke out because they spent years teaching us brown diamonds were bad, but then needed to sell their brown diamonds. #Capitalism

Then they came with this nonsense:

And here we go again.

Cheez-It, in their delectable, addictive, cheesy way, have decided that the crackers that accidentally got left in the oven too long shouldn't be thrown away in some valiant quality-control move, but rather re-branded as the cracker we've all been waiting for. This nonsense has to end.

Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the marketing folks sitting around their conference table coming up with the words "Extra Toasty." They sleep fine at night. After all, it wasn't their decision to bring this product to market. Their job is to make people want to buy it, and they are just doing their job. But let's call a spade a spade. And let's call a burnt cracker a burnt cracker.

Please note: "#1 Requested Cheez-It Flavor" refers to nothing. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry wouldn't sample the crunch of these cheesy delights and suggest additional bake time. There is no one out there eating a Cheez-It thinking to themselves, this could have done with another minute in the fryer.

To be honest, I don't even know the method by which Cheez-Its are created. Are they toasted, as the "extra" would suggest? Baked? Fried? Do they fall to Earth pre-packaged in all their crispy square glory and the "extra toasty" is a reference to global warming and the increasing effects of the sun's UV rays?

I don't have the answers. I only have questions. The main one being: do they really think we're dumb enough to fall for this?

*Checks state of the world*

Ah, um, I see. Well played Cheez-It.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Annie are you OK?

As a parent in 2018, I have to teach my children that the world can be a soulless, spirit-crushing experience, particularly for women, people of color and those in the LGBTQIA community.  But for one afternoon, I chose to avoid all of that by tuning out for a while and watching a movie together, a classic from my childhood. A movie about hope and love and the dawning of a new day because, the sun will come out tomorrow… or so I thought.

This is the story about the afternoon I watched Annie with my daughter and realized that Annie, the original movie of my childhood, did not age well.

Open on Annie singing about parents she doesn’t have: 
“Mom, where are her parents?”
“She doesn’t have any.” 
“Why doesn’t she have parents?” 
“Cause she’s an orphan.” 
“What’s an orphan?”
Any fellow parent will tell you, when we put on the TV or a movie, we do so because we don’t want to “work.” We aren’t looking for teachable moments or engaging in character forming conversations. We want 90 minutes to zone out and possibly doze off. Not even five minutes in and I know I’m in trouble here.

Back to the filthy children living together in an orphanage, being beaten and doing manual labor. Ok, this actually could work in my favor. Maybe the next time I ask her to make her bed, she’ll be more grateful that’s all I’m requesting.

Enter Miss Hannigan and having to explain the antics and behaviors of a functioning alcoholic. This is truly going to be a fun afternoon together.

Miss Hannigan propositioning Mister Bundles wasn’t something I vividly recalled from my childhood viewings, but my daughter doesn’t look like she will forget it as she shrinks a little into the couch next to me.

Enough of the child abuse, for now… how about a little animal abuse for the folks at home. Enter Sandy being abused by some neighborhood scamps. And then a song about Sandy being dumb, cause hey, we called people dumb back then and it was fine. To my daughter, it was the equivalent of Annie calling Sandy a mother f#cker. We don’t throw dumb around in the same way in our house and she seems shook. Note to self: definitely not ready for Old Yeller.

Back to the orphanage. I’m concerned that Miss Grace Farrell doesn’t seem at all concerned by Annie being locked in a closet. A quick tug-of-war with Annie as the rope ends with them headed to the Warbucks mansion, so I guess that bit of physicality is OK?

Enter Punjab and the Asp, the bodyguards of Oliver Warbucks, and two distinct, offensive cultural stereotypes personified. First, Punjab is an offensive name. Second, he’s played by a Trinidadian man. Third, he seems to possess magical powers that I can’t put my finger on, but seem problematic on their own. But he tamed Sandy, so everyone seems cool with it.

Oh, Annie thinks she’s being brought in as free labor (read: a slave) ha ha ha! That’s funny to everyone. Slavery: making people laugh since the Depression. 

Oliver Warbucks returns home with some gems I look forward to explaining later: “everything’s urgent to a Democrat” “orphans are boys” and his rage-throwing of the photographer’s camera. I think my petty slamming of cabinet doors when I’m angry is looking good in comparison. 

Annie manages to charm the old man and gets to stay. I’ve always been impressed by her street smarts and still am. Not every part of this aged poorly. The teachable moment could be: men can usually be manipulated; but really it is: take that rage-throwing of a camera as a red flag and GTFO.

Back to the orphanage where we get a few more talking points for later during the song ‘Little Girls.’ “If I wring little necks, surely I would get an acquittal” is not only an incredible rhyme for the word little, but also a sentence rich with disturbing concepts for a 7-year-old. 

Back to the mansion where a bomb comes crashing through the window. A chance to explain: amateur explosives, the Bolsheviks, and the Asp doing some heavily choreographed, and potentially insensitive faux martial arts. It’s not my culture, I can’t speak to it, but it feels bad.

Ok, here we go. Let’s go to the movies! I loved this part. The singing, the dancing, the part where Annie sits on the top of the convertible on their journey from 987 Fifth Avenue to Radio City… not exactly around the corner. I know they didn’t have booster seats back then, but a seat belt, or even just within the interior of the car? It makes my insistence on her booster seat seem ridiculous and I see her making a mental note. 

Going to the movies back then was quite the night out. Not necessarily a night filled with diversity, as the Rockettes lineup illustrates, but still quite spectacular. 

As if one movie with physical and emotional abuse wasn’t enough, they’ve managed to insert a second movie rife with issues for me to deal with. Bonus! The movie within the movie is too much, but thankfully the black and white format has disengaged her.

Back to the real movie and the mansion and some new topics to explore, like misogyny and power dynamics. Oliver Warbucks to Miss (lest we forget she’s a bachelorette) Grace Farrell: “You’re awfully pretty when you argue with me.” Followed quickly by this gem of an exchange:
OW: “Your teeth are crooked”
Grace Farrell: “I’ll have them fixed.”
OW: “I like them.”
GF: “I’ll leave them.”

But I have no time to explain why our looks should neither define us nor be changed in an attempt to gain the approval of others because we’re on to our next musical number: ‘We Got Annie.’ And we got an awkward musical dance solo for both Punjab and The Asp. Not just an exaggeration of their racial and cultural stereotypes, the music played over each is offensive in its own right.

Annie and Mr. Warbucks have a “man to man talk” where Warbucks shares his life story… spoiler alert: it’s dark AF.

Non sequitor, as this isn’t really problematic in our current landscape, but I can’t help thinking that a ventriloquist on a radio show is a strange talent choice. She doesn’t need to keep her mouth still for radio, does she? Plus, 30 years later and I still don’t know what Annie is doing when she goes for Burt Heeley’s shoes. But I digress.

Ok, back to the oversized themes for us to discuss: Republicans, The New Deal, helping people work for themselves… Actually, the FDR bit is still pretty relevant, just not necessary for a 7-year-old to sink her teeth into.

I had trouble with Tim Curry for a while and I realize this role was why. He messed me up early and it took me until Clue to get over it. By the time I realized he was Dr. Frank N Furter all was forgiven. But Rooster was scarring. 

Lily smoking in the orphanage, stealing from Miss Hannigan and lying to Mr. Warbucks… I remember all these “bad things” from my youthful viewings. Rooster knocking Miss Hannigan out, screaming “come back here you g-ddamn kid,” and then legit throwing Annie off the bridge were “bad things” I remembered, but saw, as if for the first time, through my daughter’s (horrified) eyes.

Punjab popping off his turban seems wrong, but I don’t think I’m qualified to write that think piece. I did chuckle at the irony of him quoting Buddha right before he kicks Rooster in the face, knocking him down the ladder. You’re dark Annie, but I love ya!

So, in summary, Miss Hannigan gets knocked out and gets to ride in on an elephant for the finale, with some visible sexual tension with Punjab I never noticed before. Is it getting hot in here or is it just this newly sympathetic alcoholic on an elephant?

Even the line: “I love you Daddy Warbucks” gave me the creeps this time. But that’s just me applying more modern connotations. This movie cannot handle that on top of everything else and it is the least of my concerns after watching the whole thing through.

My original memories from watching Annie as a child: great songs, fun, kid-friendly, classic all around.
My current thoughts from watching Annie as an adult with my own child: great songs but problematic all around.
I had never understood remaking a great movie, a la Footloose or Overboard, but maybe the occasional re-make is a good thing. I’m obviously not talking about Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka. That will never be OK.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

What in the who now?

I am a creature of habit. Anyone who has read this blog can confirm: I like summer in Maine, autumn eating Halloween candy and winter complaining about the weather. See here; here; and here for proof of that last one.

And just when I think I've bored myself silly of weather chatter, they go and do it again.

It freaked me out four years ago when they introduced the name, if not the outright concept, of the polar vortex. Seemingly out of nowhere everyone started talking about polar vortexes as if they were a common, well-known thing. How do they just invent these new freakily scary names for weather conditions each year? And why do we allow it?
They are Sharknado-ing us, and we are letting it happen.

I thought we had seen the worst of it, but then today my phone screen lit up with the phrase:
"bomb cyclone."

Fuck you.

No thank you. I have no room in my life for bomb cyclones, unless they're some shitty frozen beverage I drink on an all-inclusive holiday somewhere warm.

Keep it (thank you Ira Madison III).  I am not taking this on (thank you June Diane Raphael). Whatever a bomb cyclone is, which, come to think of it, what the fuck is a bomb cyclone? And why are they now a thing? And are they kidding me with that name? What, was atomic death spiral taken? A bomb cyclone is neither a bomb nor a cyclone, discuss (thank you Mike Meyers).

Enough of this weather fuckery. It's cold as hell outside and that's all we should have to worry about. Nuclear annihilation is already on my plate because of the Dotard (thank you KJ-U). Avoiding frostbite is already something I'm focused on, on a daily basis. I do not need to concern myself with whatever the fuck a bomb cyclone is, and neither do you. This is just another way they distract us from important shit.

Do not let the bomb cyclone get to you friends. There's a bad winter storm coming. Keep your eyes open, your hats on, and for the love of love zip your jackets all the way up.

Stay warm.

Happy new year.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Old AF

On the eve of my 40th, five years after starting this blog as a creative outlet for my satirical rants, I find myself checking in to see where I'm at.

I'm old. I'm actually old AF. So old that I say AF IRL. And while that is probably embarrassing, I DGAF. Something nice happened after 40 years. The confidence I so desperately lacked in middle school, high school, college, post college, the ghost years and beyond, arrived eventually. I am now blessed with some of that old person confidence, and in addition to saying batty things to school age children, I am also able to write and perform with my sole interest being my own happiness. Old person confidence results in ladies arguing with the deli that the turkey is not sliced thin enough or old men sending their soup back because it was too salty. For some it is an affirmation of their firmly rooted beliefs, for some a general acceptance of who they've slowly become, and for others it is the ability to say and do things they maybe once found terrifying or daunting for fear of offending, disappointing, or merely failing to entertain.
And on the eve of 40 (and here's where the offense comes in) I have managed to create a life that I am genuinely happy with.

In 40 years you learn things.
I have learned that I don't have regrets. I have things that I recognize I could have done different, but firmly accept that everything I have done has led me to today. The good, the bad, the tears, fights, moments of weakness, moments of strength, laughter, joy, difficulty has all made my life what it was, what it is today and that only I get to decide what it will be tomorrow. 
I don't have regrets, but I do have a few tips for myself that might have made some parts a bit easier.

I should have appreciated being pushed around in a stroller more. My kids are unappreciative of the amazing thing that is a free ride while being fed snacks and taken to fun places. My next shot at being pushed around while I talk nonsense and occasionally shit my pants comes way too late in the game. I would like that free ride now, in the middle, when my tired self can really appreciate it.

Now it seems silly, but a quick note to my ten year old self to tell her we all get pubic hair could have stemmed a bit of panic back then. Cause as the first of my friends, I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty freaked out right at the onset. 

I'd go back to my teenage self and tell her that no, the boys you crush on and pine for will never love you. You are a swan who will take another 20 years to peak, and then another five years after that to realize you've peaked. But, not to be sad about those boys because one day you will get to watch them grow bald, fat and old on a yet to be invented social media platform on a yet to be invented internet. And while it seems no one will ever love you now, #itgetsbetter

I'd go back to college and see myself skipping class to hang with my friends, eat bad food and watch cartoons and say: yes! Keep it up. These are wonderful years that you are experiencing in the best way possible. You're not a scholar and when you do want to learn more later in life, you'll just be able to pull your personal phone out of your pocket and ask an electronic woman for more information on it. We're all Jetsons in the future, and tonight is probably ladies night somewhere. 

I'd go back to my drunk self in her early 20s and make her say a little prayer of thanks that easily accessible and portable cameras are still a few years out, and while it's sad to only have 24 or 36 photos from most significant life events, you also don't have 150 photos from very insignificant events to constantly haunt you the rest of your life.

I'd check in with my single self and tell her that 25 is exactly when you should be learning about yourself. You might not ever have it all figured out. But the hyper emotional journals you are currently writing will provide hours of shocked amusement when you reread them 15 years from now. Take it down a notch kid!

And when those cameras do start appearing everywhere, I'd remind my aging young lady self to tell the camera person to shoot from above and to always put your hand on your hip when you're on the end. Fat arms affect all of us.

I would point out to my single self that yes, married life is about getting to be with your best friend all the time, but that sometimes being with your best friend involves both of you sitting on your phones until one of you decides to engage with the other who is still on their phone and then getting annoyed at how rude your best friend can be sometimes.

I'd remind my newly married self that in the talks about where to live and how many kids to have and how to raise them there will be trickier conversations about underwear and when they're ok to be put in the communal laundry and when they must be washed separately.

I'd tell my kidless self that it's not ok to judge the parents you see for giving their kids popsicles at 11am. Because one day you're going to see another parent with kids with lollipops before 9am, and you're going to silently acknowledge the day they've already had with a sympathetic nod and a moment of gratitude that thankfully you haven't had one of "those" mornings in a while.

I'd point out to my new parent exhausted ass that you don't need to pretend like you've got this. You don't have to appear to be doing everything perfectly. In fact, the other parents hate the ones doing it perfectly. We like the ones who are fucking it up like we are. There's something very comforting about knowing the entire next generation is fucked, not just our kids.

I'd tell myself that my kids will remember my emotional outbursts, inappropriate comments and cursing. And hopefully they will learn to control their outbursts, make appropriate comments and curse, in the right context... eventually. We don't need them dropping c-bombs in nursery school.

I'd sit myself down, on the eve of 40 and say you've done ok. 
You've made some friends that are accepting of not being in constant contact because when we are together, it is like no time has passed. 
You've fucked some shit up. 
You've lost touch with people that should be in your life and gave too much time to people that should have been dismissed sooner. 
You've had nights that you can't remember and that's too bad and you've had nights you can't remember and that's for the best. 
You've lost your temper when you should have kept your cool and you've held in your rage when you should have rained hell on people. 
You've set an example for your kids that includes the nuances and complexities of what life is. You express anger, hurt, fear and sadness, but also teach them how to be compassionate, kind, friendly and fun. 
You eat a lot of donuts. You also go for the occasional run and drink a cup of green tea every now and again. 
You eat a few more donuts, but then justify a family dance party in the name of fitness. 
Your varicose veins are bad, but you realize a smile on your face is all you need to look your best. And mascara.
You laugh a lot. 
You make other people laugh. 
You make your kids laugh. 
Some people you will never make laugh.
On the eve of 40 you're doing ok, which is actually pretty good. And pretty good makes you happy.

Oh, and don't worry about all the stuff you haven't done yet. You're not done yet. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Surprise let down

Maybe you've seen the videos: children being told by their tricky, secretive parents that they are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime - Disney! The reactions vary from screaming, jumping and other forms of physically elating to tears of joy sobbing from within their tiny emotional frames. Maybe you haven't seen them. I have. And because I have, I decided that surprising my children would be an amazing way to tell them we are going to Disney. We'd laugh, we'd cry, we'd tape it all for a viral sensation.

Enter reality.

Our surprise was going to be the day before we left as I, like many other parents, have no interest in prolonging the agony of waiting for my kids (read: I didn't want to spend weeks answering the question "are we going yet?").

They didn't know about it, but for weeks I was deep in planning mode. Every free moment typically spent mindlessly browsing my phone or watching TV I spent researching hotels, restaurants and age appropriate attractions; booking fast passes, double strollers and reservations for character experiences; and looking up packing lists and best food lists (obviously), all while sharing none of this excitement with the kids, because, after all, it was a surprise worth waiting for.

I spent weeks, nay, months, talking to other parents and Disney planners and everyone who had ever known someone that went on this trip to get tips, tricks and suggestions, not-to-be-missed meals and timing tips for where we needed to be and when. The list went on, the planning went on, and still I said nothing to the children.

Ah, the children. The sweet, adorable, well behaved children that deserved all of this planning on their behalf, but who would never know the extent to which their occasional whining and spatting was jeopardizing the very trip they knew nothing about.

The more time I spent planning, the more disgruntled I became at their every slight misbehavior. I use candy on a weekly basis to get them to behave. So why now, for some reason, had I knowingly given up on using the greatest bargaining chip that ever existed for my benefit?

To illustrate my point: my daughter once graciously and willingly went to bed a full hour early because she was going to an ice skating birthday party the following day, which she was very excited about. Can you imagine how excited she would be if she knew we were going to Disney? I'll tell you: very, very excited. Can you imagine how well behaved she could be if she knew about it? I'll venture a guess: very, very well behaved. Can you imagine all the sh!t I could get the kids to do if I used Disney, the greatest thing ever, as a goal or reward for them to work towards? Well I can, because I imagined it every day. Every day as I stayed silent while the little one pulled the big one's hair or the big one swiped a leg as the little one walked by, I grumbled under my breath that they needed to behave if they wanted "something great." But you know what kids think of when they hear the phrase "something great"? Not something great. Certainly not the greatest damn thing they could possibly imagine. And most definitely not Disney.

But it will be the greatest surprise ever, I reminded myself. I can't tell them. But you could be bribing them with it every day, I responded to myself. But then we won't get the "surprise" video. It will be worth it. In the words of Lin Manuel's Hamilton: "just you wait, just you wait." (yes, not only do I talk to myself, but I very often do so while quoting popular music)

So wait we did. Through countless dragged feet down the street and uneaten side dishes. Over crying fits about taking baths and screaming matches for the small rubber duck, not the ever so slightly larger one. We waited for the big day, the big reveal, the big surprise. Finally, after packing us all up in secret and with the arrangements all made, it was time to tell them.

The night before we left, I packed up their Disney packets of ear headbands, autograph books, pens and lanyards and handed them the gift bag. Inside was this note:
Ok, so I'm not a graphic designer

I was buzzing with the excitement. I couldn't stand it anymore. I was about to burst. So we whipped out our phones and shot a video while they opened it. It's a minute:19, but I'll save you that time and get the gist in this clip right here...
It's OK. It's nice, sweet even. But I had kind of been hoping for mind-blown screams. I like to think they were in shock. So we doubled back to make sure they got it.

Got it mom. You're just not getting your GIF-worthy video.

Now, in their defense, they are not ungrateful children. They are 5+ and 2+ and lack the basic mental capacity to process information in the immediate, hey-guys-I'm-shooting-the-video-right-this-second rate I was hoping for. In fact, the little guy never truly knows where we're going, so to a certain extent, every day is a surprise to him. Over the course of the evening, my daughter slowly came to grasp both the magnitude and immediacy of the journey that awaited. Weirdly, the piece of the puzzle that made it click for her was that Disneyworld is in Orlando, as they advertise Orlando on TV, not just Disney, so that information brought this thing into a whole new light for her and she went to bed buzzing the same hum of excitement that I had. The trip to the airport and every minute of the trip were equally enthusiastic, happy, grateful and appreciative.

But that video.

In hindsight, I realize that I failed to follow my own advice. When I was pregnant, we found out the gender of our baby as we viewed that as an additional day of a surprise since the actual birth day was exciting for many other reasons. The actual trip to Disney is so exciting, we should have brought the surprise up a few weeks to spread out the joy, but mostly to be able to bribe my children for weeks with the promise of the greatest trip ever. Live and learn. I now know that the true magic of Disney is using it as the best damn bargaining chip there is, threatening to take it away if they call out one more time in the middle of the night or don't take at least two more bites of carrots. I know that now, and can only say to others: do what you feel in your heart is right. Do what you think will be best for your children. But most importantly, do a better job than I did managing your expectations for that damn video.