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.

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.