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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

People, ammiright?

Hi there. Remember me? Haven't heard from me in a while, but it's not because I haven't been writing. In fact, I have been very busy on fun, different stuff which I will share here as soon as I figure out how. But that is for another time.

So what's been going on with you? Oh, right. That sh!t. To be honest, I have woken up every day for the past few months with the same pit in my stomach, the same dulled recognition of the reality that we're living in, the same questioning of what the heck goes on in some people's minds. Because people... I mean, where do I begin?

I am not a people person. I have a few people I adore, some I like and a lot I merely tolerate. I don't understand what's going on in this world, and I don't expect to any time soon. But this has nothing to do with all that. This is about the fact that people are strange on many different levels and I'm not sure I even want to understand them anymore.

Let's take one of my neighbors as an example: Their window faces our window and since the beginning of December (pretty standard timing-wise), they have had a curtain of flashing lights hanging in their window. A quick note: these are not rhythmic, consistent flashing lights a-la your typical Christmas strand. No, these lights vary. With no discernible rhythm or reason, they move from a slow motion flowing on and off to a quicker paced twinkle into a full blown epileptic fit of flashing. It's jarring. I can see them from my couch and it catches me by surprise every time. Every time. It makes me feel uneasy, anxious (or more anxious, as the case may be), and generally unpleasant. So my question is this: what kind of person wants that sh!t on their own window? From what I can tell, it is in their living room space, which for me is a safe haven of calm and relaxation (at least after 8pm when the kids are out of here). So what kind of person likes the inconsistent, abrupt, haphazard flashing of lights in their own living space? A coo-koo pants person, that's who. A person I don't understand and one I don't think I ever want to understand.

But now let's go a bit further. It is now February 20, President's Day weekend. Our holiday lights have come and gone. The tree in the lobby has been packed up for next year. In fact, everywhere I go I have noticed the same thing: most holiday lights have come and gone. And judging by the fact that the same neighbors had these crazy lights up last year, took them down and then brought them back during the "holiday season," they seem to acknowledge the general acceptance of such ridiculousness during a specific period of time during the year. But there is also an off season. That "accepted" time has long since passed. It's time to let the seizure inducing lights go.

My husband thinks we should stick a Happy New Year's card under their door, which is just so perfectly passive aggressive it's a wonder I made it nearly 30 years without this guy. I think we should send the super in as they are obviously dead inside. That is the only acceptable reason I can think of. Oh sure, of course I'll be sad that someone is dead, but I will be so relieved to understand the situation at long last.

Speaking of my weird neighbors, I was walking down the staircase the other day and noticed needles from a Christmas tree on the stairs from the fourth floor all the way down. You should know, we live in a building with an elevator. I know this because I used that elevator to remove our Christmas tree, among other things. I popped my head out on the fourth floor to have a look because something about this unnecessary use of the stairs for Christmas tree disposal didn't sit well with me. Would you believe that this person dragged their tree from the apartment located right next to the elevator, past three other apartment doors and then down four flights of stairs, shedding needles the whole way? And need I remind you of the date again?

I have so many questions: Do they always avoid riding the elevator, or just when they have a tree with them? Were they embarrassed by how late in the year it was for getting rid of the tree? Did they not realize this would inflict way more "damage" from the tree? Did they make any attempt to clean this up themselves (like, maybe I'm seeing it after they tried sweeping?), As I don't see anyone around, did they apologize to the guy that has to clean this up for them? Why? Who? What the f#$%? But then I packed up my curiosity and went home because I am done trying to understand people. It's pointless to try. And it's pointless to try to change them.

Just like I won't try to change my other neighbor. When they're not screaming the door down from inside, they let their kids chase each other up and down the hallway while making trips to the garbage room. Apparently trips to the garbage room are winter day activities for them. On rainy or snowy days they leave their wet stuff outside their door, clogging up the hallway for way too long. And they stink up the hallway with their cooking and sometimes burning of dinner. They are... oh, no wait, that's us. We do that. We are also sh!tty, crazy neighbors.

On second thought, maybe there is hope for us to all peacefully coexist in our mutual craziness. I don't need to understand your crazy, cause I'm too busy unpacking my own stuff. Reason and sanity are out the window. Psychotic lights are in the window.

A purposely ill-timed Happy New Year to you all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Candy stop won't stop

I am filled with insecurities, self doubt, self loathing, mischief, and hope... but mainly I am filled with candy. Not my candy, mind you. My kid's candy. I did not earn this candy. I mean sure, I walked from door to door just as much as they did. But I didn't have to interact with people asking me about my costume, telling me to pick "just one" or passive aggressively reminding me to say thank you before I even had a chance to inspect the morsel that had just hit my bucket. I hung back with the other parents, keeping a watchful eye on the young ones throughout the night. I let them sample some candy as we walked around. Once we got home, I was even gracious enough to allow them both to partake in their spoils.

But now we enter back in to the real world of Not-October 31 when my kids are only allowed one or two pieces of THEIR OWN Halloween candy each day because: Cavities. Sugar highs. Additives. Greed. Mainly it's my own personal addiction to candy that I cannot will not control, certainly not the week after Halloween.

The most frightening thing happened while we were out trick or treating. No, it wasn't the 7 year old in a bloody scary mask trying to terrorize my 2 year old (who thankfully wasn't moved by his performance). And it wasn't the spooky decor of the neighbors including but not limited to scary clowns, dangling corpses, a skeleton with a rotating head swinging on a swing overhead, blood stained bones. And no it wasn't my realization that despite it being by far the best candy, for some bizarre reason, the Reese's company has not been producing the small Halloween sized packages and that is why I haven't gotten Reese's Pieces in years. The bastards. It wasn't any of that. It was an interaction I had with my daughter while out trick or treating.

She's in kindergarden now. Elementary school has brought with it some real "holy sh!t" moments when I have had to reconcile on the fly how damn grown up she is now. With that maturity comes making decisions for herself, about herself and so on. One such decision was presented in the form of a large silver bowl filled with Halloween candy. I say Halloween candy cause it was the sh!t that they only roll out at Halloween because there really isn't a market for it the rest of the year unless you're in a Walgreens that's going out of business and has only two items left on their candy shelf, or you're at a charming "penny candy" store in some lovely resort town somewhere.

Because I'm a greedy candy loving parent, I glanced down to survey the "choice" she was being given and watched her select a small packet of Necco wafers. My heart sunk. My head screamed: "What is happening??" I began coming up with excuses: maybe she wasn't familiar with them and simply made a bad call. We've all done it. But then my sweet, young, impressionable child inspected the packet closer and said the words I've always feared but never thought I'd ever hear out loud: "hmmm, I love these Necco candys."

Oh the horror! How could this have happened? I mean, you think you're raising your children right. You think you're doing everything to set them up to be successful contributing members of society. And then in comes this powdery chalky packet of what I can only assume was the Vatican's contribution to the candy world to derail all those many years of progress.

But then my new anger management techniques kicked in. I willingly chose to move past the horror. Past the shame. Past the confusion. I decided to see the silver lining. And it is this: If she has terrible taste in candy, then I am possibly the luckiest candy-loving parent in the world. Maybe it doesn't make sense to raise your kids to crave the same Twix and 100 Grands that you want, because: duh, sharing. Yes, perhaps it's all about having a kid who chooses Necco wafers in the trick-filled, hodgepodge bowl of losers: SweeTarts, Smarties, Everlasting Gobstoppers, and Dum Dums.*

*As a sidenote to the people who actively select those candies to give out: listen, I get it. I also have a tough time resisting candy when it's in the house, but just because you can't muster up an ounce of self control doesn't mean you have to give out THE WORST candy out there. Honestly, the house with the root beer barrels and individually wrapped butterscotches looks down on you.

But back to her bad taste in candy, and my love for eating all their candy. Yes, technically I didn't earn it, and yes, technically I feel bad limiting them to two pieces when I take down no fewer than 8 pieces, and that's just when they're off at school during the day. Post bedtime I'm easily in the double digits ... and we will still have enough to donate at the end of the week. The point is, I need to feel less guilty about stealing all of their candy. No. The point is, I need to feel more guilty about stealing all of their candy. No. The point is, I need to keep her walking the line of taking good candy, but actually selecting the shitty ones to eat once we get it all home. No. The point is they don't even miss most of it. No, the point is, Ok, maybe there is no point. The point is beside the point. I am just full of candy I feel guilty about eating and needed to vent. That and I may be one Kit Kat short of a sugar-induced coma. If that happens, please lie to my kids about what brought it on.
This smushed piece of candy was rejected by my daughter. Why do I think so little of myself that I couldn't just accept that maybe she was right? Maybe we are better than this smushed piece of candy. Maybe I shouldn't eat it either. But I did. Oh, of course I did.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Slight chance of rain

I have two separate assignments due this week. Neither calls for my thoughts on the current state of weather forecasting. So naturally I thought now would be a good time to share with you my thoughts on the weather, rather than do my work.

I am a fan of John Oliver. Aside from referencing some of the finer points he makes each week, I have also taken to using one of his segments: 'How is this still a thing?' as a new sick burn. For example:
Nickleback: How is this still a thing?

See what I did there? It's subtle, a little highbrow/a little lowbrow. Something for everyone. I also use it when expressing frustration in something that either should be better, or shouldn't exist at all, as I will today.

The weather industry: How is this still a thing?

The weather is a science, but it's not an exact science. It is not mathematics where a definitive correct answer can be predicted. So why do they try to make it seem like it is? If any other industry had the rate of success that weather forecasts do, they would come under severe regulation by some bigwig, or at the very least, major criticism. Instead they just have pissed off individuals wandering around their respective cities, angrily mumbling about the fact that it is 90 degrees and sunny and they're wearing wellies.

Weather people on the news are right about 50% of the time.* Yes, coin flip territory. But lately I noticed they have taken to predicting a bit of everything, possibly to help fudge those numbers. "Tomorrow will be slightly cloudy, partial sunshine with a chance of rain that could develop into storms with a high UV index, so bring the sunscreen." A whole lot of options, none of which help me decide what is appropriate to wear.

The worst culprits seem to be the weather app people. I have two weather apps on my phone, the iPhone one and the Weather Channel one. They alternate between which will be further from the mark on any given day. I will be standing at the window, looking at the rain pouring down and glance at my phone which will read "cloudy" for my location.

The hourly forecast does, in fact, change hourly. So if I am leaving the house at 8 am and attempting to predict what kind of outerwear/sunscreen I should have that day, I might as well pick from a hat. At 8 am it says 1:00 pm will be 70 and sunny with 0% chance of rain. At 11 am it says that 1:00 pm will be cloudy with a 15% chance of rain... but by then I am out of the house just hoping that this newly discovered chance of rain isn't serious. At 1:00 pm I am getting rained on, wet and pissed off that I trusted this thing again, despite knowing better.

My main point of objection (today, at least) is the new method of temperature reporting I recently noticed. See this:
It's 85... or is it?
And this:
Why even have a temperature?
Can someone please explain to me how it can feel like one temperature while it is a completely different temperature? I'm not even talking wind chills or any of that nonsense. I'm talking about what temperature it is out. If it feels like 92, then isn't it 92?  Isn't that what temperature is? If not, when did this change? Why have we, as a society chosen to overcomplicated things in this way? Is this a millennial thing? Regardless, is it too late to go back?

Call me old fashioned, but when I was a kid, if it felt like 84, it was 84! But, then again, it was a simpler time. My biggest issues with technology at that time were busy signals, un-rewound VHS tapes, and having to blow on a Nintendo cartridge to get it to work. Numbers stood for something I understood. Nowadays there's always the looming possibility of a thunderstorm and I'm not sure what 78 feels like anymore.

I wish we could go back to the carefree days of telling the temperature as the temperature. My only regret is that my children will never know the sheer thrill of it being 75 out and it actually feeling like it's 75. But then they get to grow up in a world where the sushi-burrito is a thing, so I guess they'll be OK in the long run.

*Obviously one of my made up statistics.

My husband chose the moment when he proof read this to take the opportunity to say that he thinks what the weather people do is nothing short of a miracle. While a part of me may agree with him, I am choosing to view this as some sort of micro aggression towards me, which I will go deal with now.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Maine Challenge

So this year I was faced with a real problem (of the "first world" variety). We weren't going to Maine because we had other things we wanted to do over the summer and had to pick and choose. For those of you who have read my blog, met me, know me, etc. you know this is a very big problem for me. And as you can imagine, I wasn't handling it well.

Pearl Jam was high on my priority list this summer. Their show in Boston seemed to fit the bill in  many ways: outdoor venue (summer gig, duh), ease of transport (driving up at our leisure), accommodation (free hotel room for two nights at the Copley Square Hotel we won at a charity raffle), and proximity (1.5 hours drive from Maine).  Friday night was the concert and it was incredible. It may warrant its own post since I waited 25 years to see them in concert on their own and they did not disappoint. This left Saturday open for whatever recreational activity we could come up with. And with the Pearl Jam Sirius station playing and re-playing the concert all day, being in the car was actually a treat.

Our first priority was sleeping in. As any parent can attest to, you don't get a hotel room away from the kids to set an alarm. No, we would be waking up when our bodies woke up. Not when a little voice or pitter pattering feet woke us up. Sleeping in is my version of parental decadence. I recommend making it happen at least twice a year in an attempt to maintain sanity.

But back to Saturday... we had one entire day to fit in as much of Maine as we possibly could. Sounded like a fun challenge, and one we were more than up for. Aside from a gazillion other things, the fact that my husband not only didn't scoff, but also embraced this crazy idea is why we're meant to be together. It wasn't a day for the faint of heart or stomach.

Last year we were in Maine for two full weeks, so spending nine glorious hours was quite a small window to fit it all into. Naturally, things had to be sacrificed. I wasn't happy about that sacrifice, but then again I was in Maine for a whole nine hours, so I was ecstatic.

I don't recommend doing Maine in nine hours. It's silly and you'll miss out on a lot of great stuff. But if you do, feel free to use our game plan as a sort of stomach busting road map goal.

10:00 am - depart Boston en route to Vacationland, heartbroken as we just phoned the Wayfarer in Kennebunkport to discover they stop serving breakfast at 11:30 and we know we won't make it.
10:01 am - get over it since we know we have another breakfast spot to hit.
11:35 am - spot the Maine sign and breathe a sigh of relief that we didn't have to go a summer without seeing it.

Aaaaaahhhhhh. Love it.

12:00 pm - pull into Bintliff's Ogunquit. For those of you who follow my Maine eating adventures, you'll recall that we have a love/meh relationship with Bintliff's. It's usually great, but we have had a year or two in the mix where it was just meh. For that reason my husband shut it down last year and sat out our trip there, which incidentally was a great one. I was nervous, but thankfully once I had one of their signature Bloody Mary's in me, I ceased to feel anything but giddiness. The corned beef hash is why we come, and as it was noon and we hadn't eaten yet, we were feeling greedy and each ordered our own. Normal people might have split it, knowing what was to come from the day, but not when my first meal is at noon. Not gonna happen. So one each, and I don't regret a thing. Not even the cheeky creme brûlée French toast side order we split.
Delicious. And quite potent as the first thing you put in your body all day.
I should just warn you now, I rarely remember to take a picture before I've taken a bite... or three. I believe that makes me a slightly less annoying person in general, though a much weaker food blogger for sure.

1:00 pm - slightly buzzed, I decided not to drive just yet, so we walked around Ogunquit for a bit, buying some candy and presents to bring back home. Great tip: the Harbor Candy Store has a basket up front with tiny bags of the off cuts of fudge for $1.50. If you're like me and like fudge but never can eat the whole block when you buy them because it's too sweet, too big or gets stale too quickly, this is a great cheat. They also have great butter crunch, caramel, chocolates, as well as all the individual Jelly Belly flavors. I was able to make my daughter a bag of just toasted marshmallow ones which was a huge hit.
2:00 pm - Sober and back in the car headed to Congdon's to pick up our doughnuts. Yes, just pick up, not pick out as we had phoned our order in on the drive up to avoid missing out on any of our favorite flavors. Got there and realized we only had 11, so threw in more for a cool dozen... well those plus our five bismarcks for a cool 17. The funniest thing was how hard the guy laughed when we said it was just for two people. We all had a good laugh actually; us laughing at him laughing at us laughing at how fat we are.
From top left: maple cream, powdered cream, bavarian cream, chocolate cream, maple cream x2, apple fritter, chocolate cream, blueberry jelly, raspberry jelly, chocolate coconut, and oh my god, am I so fat that I ate one of them and can't even remember what it was? shit. Second box had four more bismarcks, seen top middle.
quite a view... I'm talking about the trolley, of course.
3:00 pm - Feeling a bit sluggish from the Bismarck and maple cream doughnuts we ate on the drive over, we slowly walk through Kennebunkport. We promptly find a grassy spot under some trees and lie down for a five minute power nap.
3:05 pm - Feeling slightly better we go for a walk through town picking out pjs and sweatshirts for the kids and a great t-shirt I didn't buy that said: "Support the right to arm bears" which had a cut out picture of a bear strapped with ammo. Now that I'm home, I'm happy that I passed on it, but it seemed really funny when I was standing in the store.
4:00 pm - Not exactly hungry, but no longer actively full we stop at the Clam Shack and split a lobster roll. The decision to split felt borderline anorexic, but like a lot of the other calls of the day, it was the right call.
the promised meat from a one pound lobster, butter AND mayo as they suggest.

5:00 pm - arrive in Ogunquit to walk around and try desperately to drum up an appetite for dinner. Decide to walk on the beach because a-it's a great beach when the tide is going out and most people have gone home for the day and b-we needed to avoid the trappings of the shops and bars in town to preserve ourselves for the feast to come.
6:30 pm - roll up to the Ogunquit lobster Pound and greet Bill at the tank who is the most welcome sight year after year. 
these guys make me happy
The guy doesn't age, which proves my theory (and that of the sign makers) that Maine truly is the way life should be.
7:00 pm - select our lobsters... I asked for a generous 2 because I didn't want under 2, but in the absence of 2.25, I ended up with more like a 2.4. Husband went 2.5 and it's anybody's guess which one each of us actually ate since they looked similar going in and nearly identical coming out of the pot and onto our plates. We split a bowl of the clam chowder because we had to have some and felt like splitting a cup was lame. Got the beans and coleslaw as sides mostly because they still don't offer corn. I will continue to object to that void as I believe corn goes with lobster, but as this day didn't require an additional carb, I will move on.
 Chowdah! I skipped a few of the potatoes because I'm borderline anorexic.
She's a beaut!
8:30 pm - Enter the Kettle Boys in York Beach to purchase bags of flavored popcorn to take home. Old faithful is the Sweet Cheeses, a caramel/cheese combo, and then a toffee crunch since it looked decadent and unnecessary. Also promised my daughter rainbow popcorn, which she didn't remember/didn't believe existed. Apparently she spent the 48 hours we were gone talking all about it and how excited she was for it. She ate five pieces and hasn't come back to it three days later.
So addictive... salty, sweet, crunchy, can't stop...
8:45 pm - Finish up the day at Dunne's ice cream. Dunne's used to be Brown's down the road, for those keeping track. We realized as we pulled in that we would have to forego our usual Nubble lighthouse photos as it was already pitch black out. I went for the coffee Oreo, which isn't usually my thing, but after that day I needed some caffeine and another jolt of sugar to get us safely home. Husband got blueberry, which was delicious. Not sure how I had never thought of blueberry (in Maine of all places!), but stick it on the list for next year.
These are smalls, and I took the photo after only one bite because I'm not that fat.

10:45 pm - return to hotel in Boston, unload car and devour another three doughnuts before bed (bavarian cream, raspberry jelly, 1/2 powdered cream, 1/2 apple fritter).
11:00 pm - go out for walk around the block, because we're not that fat.
11:30 pm - pass out in a sugary haze.

So, that's what we did. The popcorn and fudge are still in our house, which I have slowly been chipping away at this week. We also gave some doughnuts (read: half eaten pieces of doughnuts) to my sister, all in the interest of not being that fat. Of course I missed my breakfast sandwich and honey bun from Chute's, but that would have been three more hours in the car that we just didn't have. Same with the blueberry cake from Becky's diner, or the sandwiches at Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland. But we had to make sacrifices! It was hard, so back off!

Yes, of course I would much rather spread the eating out over several days/weeks. But I got there and am insanely grateful to have made the trip at all. I'd take nine hours over nothing any day. And while I don't necessarily recommend doing it this way, I do recommend doing it. It is without a doubt, from the oversized ice cream cones to the ever changing tidal beaches, from the cream stuffed doughnuts to the sweet Ogunquit river water, from the bloody mary buzz to the cheap candy and naps under a tree, THE way life should be.

I should probably mention that neither the state of Maine nor the places we visit compensate me in any way for what I write here... But they damn well should!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spring has sprung

In case there was any doubt, I will point to this post from one year ago as confirmation that I am a complete hypocrite. But I accepted this fact a long time ago, so let's move on.

Spring: the season between winter and summer.
Season: a division of the year (usually quarterly), as denoted by varying temperatures.
Temperatures: how hot or cold it is on any given day.
Days: ... Well, hopefully you get the point.

It is spring where I live. It has officially been spring since March 21, and will continue to be spring until June 20. Spring is the connector season between the cold season, which we call winter, and the hot season which we call summer. As a transitional season, spring is often marked by days which mirror the season before it as well as the season after it. Those days will contain varying levels of heat and chill, and switch and repeat until we find ourselves happily sweaty in the hot, hot dog days of summer.

Which brings me to my point: can everyone just shut the f#$% up about this spring already. Yes, it has been a chilly one. But you know what? We had a SUPER mild winter. And after the past two brutal winters, you would think that would be enough to buy some good will. That good will lasted til mid-April when I started to hear rumblings of "it's so cold" and "where is spring?" Spring is here. This is spring. It rains and it's chilly in the morning and sometimes gets hot in the afternoon. And some days are cold. That is spring. That has always been spring. Nothing has changed. If global warming has anything to do with it, that might change one day. But not yet. Not now. And not for a while.

If the mindless banter I am privy to (nay, a part of) is any indication, everyone is done with spring. Don't get me wrong, I look forward to sundresses and shorts and flip flops every day. I long for the ease of knowing that just a t-shirt will be enough to keep me comfortable from the time I leave the house in the morning until I get home in the evening. I like summer too. But can we stop being so ungrateful for these 50+ days. I can state with certainty that I would have given my right nut* last winter for 50+ days. Yes, there are going to be a few cold days throughout the spring. It's not summer. It was just winter. Spring is nature's way of shaking off the cold. It doesn't happen overnight, or we would just have winter and summer as our two seasons.

So, for those of you who, like me, choose to live in a place that has four seasons, please sit back and enjoy the ride. This is why we live where we live. For light jackets and flats. For cropped jeans and a thin cotton scarf. Embrace spring as the road to warmth that it is. Don't hate on spring for its ties to winter. It can't help it. It's only here to help get us where we want to go... summer. After all, the 60+ days are nearly here to stay and then it won't be long until I'm complaining of sweating an inordinate amount for a woman my age.

*I don't actually have a nut to give.
Sweet buds of spring. Note: I will have killed this plant by the time summer arrives.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Getting to know you

For the most part, I hate people. Ok, not all people. Really what it is, is that I hate meeting people. Several factors have contributed to why I hate encounters with strangers.

1-I wasn't blessed with the chit-chat gene. I can talk about the weather or sports, but unless the person I am talking to is initiating conversation, we will most likely devolve into an awkward silence.
2- I don't mind awkward silences. I find them to be far less work than having to be interesting and seemingly interested. I have so much going on in my head that it's not easy to slough through it to find something to talk about with everyone I meet. Sometimes sitting in silence, as rarely as I can find silence these days, is preferable.
3- One of the unfortunate aspects of having so much going on in your head is that I am a terrible listener. When I meet a new person, in order to hide that fact from them, it makes more sense to avoid the opportunity to show them I'm not really paying attention.

If you didn't know me growing up, there was a very good chance you never would, or that it would take a while for me to be comfortable enough to start being funny/silly in front of you. I just didn't think my freak flag was worth flying for some folks. Now that I'm older, I simply don't care as much what other people think. As a result, I have started to show myself a bit sooner in the getting to know you phase with new friends.

Despite my anti-social behavior and my best efforts to avoid meeting new people, sometimes new people sneak into my life. Occasionally some of them even become *gasp* friends. But even those friends don't know everything about me. They know what I want them to know. Which is actually a lot since I have, over time, gotten more comfortable with letting people see who I am.

Case in point, the other night:

I had a meeting with a bunch of people. People, but I guess you could call them new friends. After weeks of knowing each other, I have already attempted to make these people laugh, revealing one huge part of myself. But there are other parts of me that I am not always quite as eager to share with newbies.

Some people brought snacks, so there was a junk food buffet in the middle of the table. As these are new friends, they don't know me well enough to know I am a Phat Phuck. Well, they didn't until that night. As we sat there pitching ideas and laughing about a bunch of stuff, I grabbed an Oreo cookie and a mini Reese's peanut butter cup. While the girl across the table from me spoke to the group, I twisted the cookie open, bit the end off the cup, smooshed it between the cookies and took a bite.

Let me just interrupt this story to say: What the hell? Why haven't I done this before? That was delicious. The crunch of the Oreo cookie, the smooth creaminess of the cookie cream to balance the creamy nuttiness of the peanut butter cup... I mean, this was some other-world kind of shit. I know Oreo has a Reese's flavor variety, but I prefer the DIY method. To my friends reading this (you know who you are), run, don't walk to try this... although, to those same friends, you probably have already tried this. In fact, we may have dedicated entire text/email chains to it but I already forgot. Apologies. But back to the story.

As I sat there, staring at my creation in some combination of pride and awe, I realized that I was in the company of people that might not appreciate this. Even worse, I could be with people who are disgusted by this. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty good judge of character. I believe, at this point in my life, that I do a pretty good job avoiding those people that would be appalled by such a creation. But by revealing myself as the kind of person who does this, I was revealing a large portion of myself, the fat side, (pun intended). This shows a tremendous amount of personal growth from me, in more than just my belly.

Unlike my girls who join me on the FAFT (Fat Ass Food Tour), or my family who have influenced, caused, and supported my dedication to finding and sampling the best (and best-worst) life has to offer, my new friends were not terribly impressed by my mash-up. Well, I think a few of them may have been impressed by my comfort of being that gross in front of new friends, but no one else tried it. And that is OK. I have my Phat Phuck friends. Wasn't looking to recruit new members of the Fat Ass club necessarily. But it is nice, given my years of hiding myself from people, to finally be at a stage in my life when I am unafraid to show exactly who I am.

I am a Fat Ass who likes good bad food. I stick Reese's peanut butter cups in between Oreo cookies on a Thursday night for no other reason than they were there. And I am OK with that.