Monthly Archives: March 2011

His Sister Loved Her Windfall

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I am being driven slowly insane by a condition known as Having Children. It’s a vicious circle – The kids drive me crazy, which stresses me out and makes me less tolerant of their nonsense, which stresses them out, so they act up more, which stresses me out even more, and so on.

I have been harassing the boy to get room clean once and for all. Every time he cleans it, he ends up sitting there doing nothing until he hears you walk up the hall, then he looks busy. This goes on for hours until those 2-minute bursts of activity result in a room that is “clean” rather than clean. Things in drawers, under the bed, in the closet – whatever it takes to make it look clean. And by the time he’s done, it’s late, I’m tired, we have somewhere to go, I’m stressed – a million reasons to just let it go.

But a couple of weeks ago, I reached my limit – that room was getting cleaned no matter what. He had to go to play in the pit orchestra for the school musical that evening, and he was supposed to have a friend stay over afterward, so I told him he needed to get the room cleaned before he had to leave or his friend wasn’t coming. He started off in his normal, sitting on his ass way, until I made it clear that his friend would not be allowed to come over if he didn’t get it done. Suddenly he kicked it into high gear.

He was working and cleaning and doing what I asked. The girl was even helping him. I gave him garbage bags to get rid of the 600 pounds of paper and crap and broken stuff that he had been shoving in the closet and in drawers and under the bed for the past god knows how long. I was happy to see the first bag come out of there. And the second. And the third. I praised him and said, now doesn’t it feel good to get that done?

He admitted that it did and kept on going. And then another bag came out. And another. And I started to get suspicious. I asked him if he was just throwing stuff away because he didn’t want to clean it. He insisted he wasn’t and that he was only throwing out old, broken stuff and garbage. I was skeptical, but given the amount of stuff I had recently seen under his bed and in his closet – it was possible. Finally, after many hours (and seven bags), he was done. He got ready and we dropped him off at the school.

After I got back, I happened to glance into the last bag he brought out, which he hadn’t tied shut. And my head exploded into a million I-Will-Kill-That-Kid shaped pieces. Right on top, I found a game. A game that had never been opened – that still had the plastic shrinkwrap on the box. And a science kit. And a sculpting book & set. And a set of good (and very much not cheap) artist pastels. And a robot-building kit. None of which had ever even been opened. Some of these things, I tried to donate to Toys for Tots the previous year, since they were still brand new, but he insisted he was going to play with them, so I didn’t.

By now, it was clear that I was going to have to go through every single bag. I understand if he had outgrown something and didn’t want it anymore. But there is no way in hell I was going to let him throw away a bunch of perfectly good stuff that we could donate or sell, or give away to someone who would love to have it. So this week, I spent hours going though those bags. And oh the things I found.

In addition to the previously mentioned items (and lots of broken stuff and garbage), I also found: the remote control car we paid about seven bajillion dollars for him to build, another remote control car, a set of air hogs helicopters, a paintball gun, a sweater, two t-shirts and a hat that he just got for Christmas (that still had TAGS ON THEM!), Several other articles of clothing – some outgrown, but in pristine condition, and some which still fit – including brand names like American Eagle, Gap, and Calvin Klein. Several baseball hats, including two scout hats and a Gap hat with the tags still on it. A favorite pair of MY sandals that have been missing for a couple of years. One of my hiking boots. A pair of his father’s shoes. A couple articles of his sister’s clothing. Approximately 1,000 marbles. His entire keychain collection (which his sister has been eyeing for years). A pair of roller blades. About a dozen books, including a boxed 3-book reference set. A Lion King collectible. A Pirates collectible coin book with several coins. The same with Steelers coins. A Sidney Crosby trading card in a protective case. A huge box of trading cards, including sports, pokemon and yugioh. Three brand new packs of pencils. A brand new pack of pens. A stapler. A calculator. Several scouting/camping items. Two scouting books. Two souvenir baseball bats – one from the final game at Three Rivers. A small piggy bank (with some money in it). A brand new set of markers. A brand new set of colored pencils. An electronic door alarm kit. A Steelers sign. Karate pads. A giant ear of corn hat (a treasure that should never be thrown away). And a whole bunch of other things that have no business in the garbage.

I gathered up all the goods and waited until he got home. Then I watched while he noticed the huge bin of cool stuff and approached it. And then I attacked: “BACK OFF! That is not your stuff!”

“What? This is stuff from my room!”

“No – that is stuff you threw away, so it isn’t your anymore”

“No way! That’s not fair! I didn’t mean to throw that stuff away! Come on, Mom!”

“Forget it, Pal.”

And then I happily gave a bunch of the stuff to his sister while he watched. Sometimes I love being the mean mom.

PS. I know that he didn’t throw this stuff away out of pure ungratefulness – he was in a panic that he wouldn’t get to have his friend stay over so he started throwing stuff out without even looking at it. But it’s still no excuse.

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It’s Hell Getting Old

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I make a lot of jokes about getting old, and most of the time they are just that – jokes. But lately, I find myself finding a little truth underneath the silliness and the sarcasm and the self deprecation. I can remember as a child my great grandmother (who we called Nana) saying, “It’s hell getting old” and I never really understood what she meant. As I got older, I decided that she must be talking about the aches and pains of getting older. I can understand that. While I’m not yet ancient, I’ve reached the age where although I can still do certain things in my mind (like back walkovers and roller skating backwards and reverse 1-1/2s off the 3 meter board), when it comes to reality I can just forget it. And I know what it feels like to be tired, and to have an aching back, and to wake up in the morning with injuries incurred while sleeping. Obviously, that is what she was talking about, right?

But now that I am a little older than when I decided that was the explanation, I realize that wasn’t it at all. Sure – the physical aches and pains can be a real bitch, but hell? No, that’s something else.

Though beautiful and wonderful, it’s hell to watch your kids grow up. To watch them lose every little bit of that baby you carried and held and nursed. It’s hell to not be able to instantly picture their baby faces in your mind. It’s hell to realize you aren’t perfect in their eyes anymore. It’s hell to think about them leaving home and going where you can’t protect them. It’s hell knowing that your time with them is short.

It’s hell watching your parent age. Not just get older, but get old. It’s beautiful to be old enough to see past your differences and remember when they were perfect in your eyes, but hell to watch them change into something else. It’s hell to see your friends lose their parents and to know that someday you will too. It’s wonderful if you still have your parents to lean on, but hell to realize that soon they will be leaning on you. It’s hell to wonder who you will lean on then. It’s hell knowing that your time with them is short.

It’s hell when you hear about an old friend or classmate with cancer or heart disease or diabetes and realize you’ve gone from feeling shocked because he or she is too young to be affected by something like that to feeling sad and upset and outraged because it’s so unfair, but no longer shocked. It’s hell to lose friends. It’s hell knowing that your time with them is short.

It’s hell when you find yourself occasionally giving your age and then finding yourself for even a brief instance thinking, “Wait, am I 42? Or is it 43?” It’s hell to feel like your life is flying by too fast and you can’t find the brakes. It’s hell to panic because you have so much left to do, but less time than think you need. It’s hell to suddenly feel mortal. It’s hell knowing that your time is always too short.

You were right, Nana. It is hell getting old.

Scooter Wars

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There’s a been a bit of drama going on over a blog post about obese people using scooters in Walt Disney World (which I’m not linking to). The post itself bugged me a little (for various reasons), but it wasn’t the thing that got me fired up the most. As usual with “controversial” posts, it’s the comments where people lose their fucking minds. They take it as a license to completely bash people, based on their attributes or politics or beliefs. In this case, their weight.

Admittedly, I have a hard time staying neutral on the issue, because I am fat. I have been fat and I have been thin and I can tell you without a doubt that people treat you better, with more respect and kindness, when you are thin. So reading the horrible comments about disgusting fat people was pretty hurtful.

But I don’t want to lose sight of the point here. I understand where the author was coming from with the post. To me, at least, the problem isn’t fat people using scooter unnecessarily, but anyone using a scooter unnecessarily. I’m going to pretend that the original post had nothing to do with obesity and give my take on the scooter use in Disney World.

I’m not going to lie to you – I have had occasional thoughts like the author’s – I’m human after all, and I get frustrated. And frustration often makes us irrational, angry and yes – mean. I’m no exception. The first time we took the kids to WDW, it was after mr b had a devastating accident. Although he had mostly recovered, he still had a hard time being on his feet for long periods of time. And walking around WDW for five or ten (or more) miles every day definitely was out of the question. The day we arrived, by the time we checked into our resort and hopped a bus, we didn’t arrive at the Magic Kingdom until around noon. Our first stop was the scooter rental. Unfortunately, on many days the scooters are all rented by that time, so we couldn’t get one. Mr b could have gotten a wheelchair, but he had spent quite enough time in one and had no intention of starting again. So he decided to tough it out and head back to the resort early if he got too uncomfortable.

Because of the fact that we couldn’t get a scooter, I noticed how many of them were around. And yes – like the author of that blog, I got frustrated. While there were some people who were elderly or clearly handicapped, it seemed like the majority of those using them were folks who didn’t really need them. Some were seemingly healthy adults. Some were groups of giggling teens piling on and taking turns. And yes – some were obese. And I’m not proud to admit it, but I got mad. I found myself thinking unkind things about these people. In my defense, it wouldn’t have bothered me except for the fact that if these people hadn’t needlessly been using them, my actually handicapped husband would have one. But it’s no excuse.

The next day, we got to Epcot early and there were scooters available. Mr b got one and we headed into the park. He never once used the handicapped entrance – he had no intention of going to the front of the line. There are people who need to, but he isn’t one of them. Standing in a line wasn’t a big deal – it was getting from line to line that was the problem for him, so he’d park it, get in line with the masses and then get back on the scooter to head to the next attraction. However, what he thought was a good thing seemed to work against him. People would see him walking (seemingly) normally, then getting on a scooter which he obviously (to them) didn’t need. And they would give us dirty looks, and made under-their-breath (but still audible) comments about “lazy people.”

It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation – people that saw us heading from ride to ride assumed we were going to cut in their line. People who saw us park the thing and get in the line to wait looked at him with barely concealed disgust. It was obvious that both groups thought he was just lazy.

And that is why the kind of judgment going on over on that blog is dangerous. Because no matter how someone looks to you, no matter how normal, or how healthy, or yes – how fat – they look – you don’t ever really know the reasons behind their “lazy” use of the scooter. Many handicaps aren’t visible. Maybe that person in the scooter had a physical impairment that you can’t see – like mr b. Maybe they have severe, debilitating breathing problems, or a heart defect. Maybe they are weak from radiation or chemotherapy. Maybe that child has autism and can’t wait in lines like your child. Maybe that stroller isn’t actually a stroller, but a kind of stroller/wheelchair that makes it easier for the parents/child to get around. And any of the things I just mentioned can happen to a thin OR a fat person. But just because they are fat, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same respect and kindness you would give to their thin counterpart.

And yes – maybe they are just lazy. I know firsthand that it is frustrating to watch an entire family on scooters (complete with kids piled on) bypass the line and get great seats while you and yours wait in the long, hot, miserable (and sometimes stinky) lines. But I made the decision then and there to not be the person who gets upset about it. I decided to see those people and instead of feeling like I am missing out on something, to feel thankful that I am missing out on whatever pain or discomfort or ridicule they are experiencing. And I think I’m a better person for it.

My Weekend Getaway

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This weekend, mr b and I enjoyed a nice getaway. I was lucky enough to win a weekend trip to Seven Springs from 96.1 Kiss (I won it on twitter, resulting in a hilarious conversation with my mother where I tried to explain what twitter is – good times). All in all, it was a great time – we got away from the house and the kids and the farting, pooping, destructive beasts. We got a bunch of awesome free stuff. We had lots of good meals and a ton of free beer (YAY!).

I got to people watch, which is always fun. Especially when there is Crazy in attendance and let me tell you – this trip did not disappoint. The night we had passes to a lounge with a live band, Crazy was in the house. My personal favorites were: Peek-a-Boobs (who “danced” with every guy she could get her hands on and then gave one “lucky” gentleman a lap dance and then – true story – spent some time licking his face and bald head; Captain Skanky (who was dressed like a deranged pirate); 80’s Dude (complete with cut off t-shirt); Fu-Manchu Mustache; Girl Who Left Her Spanx on the Bathroom Floor; Tambourine Chick; Sequined Shirt…Dress…Wait, that’s a scarf…no a shirt…Wait – it’s attached? WTF?; At Least 40, But Still Wearing His High School Letter Jacket & Hoodie; Guy Who Kept Screaming “38 Special!” at the Band All Damned Night; and Drunk Dancing Guy (who got right next to our table and did some kind of solo version of the forbidden dance, took off his hat, swirled it around in the air and then SLAMMED IT on our table before charging the dance floor). I was in Crazy People Heaven!

The downside of the weekend was that it seemed to be part of a vast conspiracy to make me feel old. To wit:

*The morning to night free beer wore me out much faster than it did “back in the day”

* I talked to a young guy who asked how we won the contest and when I told him on twitter, he replied, “YOU have a twitter account? I don’t even have a twitter account. The unspoken “But you’re so old” came through loud and clear.

*Skiing – Good lord the skiing nearly killed me. Don’t get me wrong – I loved it. I used to be a pretty accomplished skier (having learned from my dad when I was very young), and I skied several times a week all through my teens. I went as often as I could in my twenties, but then life and kids and money (and a spectacular crash resulting in a snapped-in-half boot) got in the way, and I just never made it out to the slopes again. It had been about ten years since I had been on skis and I was nervous. First, I had to wait in the ENDLESS, ANNOYING, BLISTERINGLY HOT rental lines, the whole time my leg muscles burning just from standing in ski boots (next time, I am renting before I get there). Plus everything had changed so much since the last time I was there that I spent about 15 minutes at the bottom of the mountain trying to figure out where to go, which lift to take and to psych myself up. The good news is that after all the fretting and stressing (and wondering if I was going to be the one that falls getting off the lift, causing the whole thing to shut down), as soon as I got on the slopes, it was like I never stopped skiing. It all came back to me. I knew what I was doing! I felt like a teenager again! That is, I did for approximately 4 minutes, at which time my thighs started screaming something like “Ouuuuuch” (and shortly afterward morphed into “OuuuuuchMOTHERFUCKER!”) and my knees just looked at each other and said, “Bitch CRAZY!” But even though I could only do two runs at a time and had to rest in-between, and even though I stuck to trails, rather than the black diamond slopes of my youth (I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid, I had a great time. The weather was amazing, the conditions were perfect, the solitude was awesome (mr b didn’t ski), and I loved it. I can’t wait to go again (though it might not be until next year).

*In addition to the long lines and sweltering heat of the rental lines, I also had to REPORT MY WEIGHT!

*Aaaaand when I got my printed rental ticket, I discovered that their program uses only the year of birth to calculate how old you are and it ROUNDED UP MY AGE!

*The following sentence may have possibly passed through my lips, “Three dollars for a bottle of Coke? I remember when it was a damned quarter!”

But the best part of the weekend was the random acts of kindness that I got to do. The sponsors of the contest gave each of us a book of passes for activities like skiing, tubing, bowling, skating, mini-golf, meals, drinks, parties, etc. And no one (especially anyone my advanced age) could fit all of it into the weekend (after which the passes expired). So mr b and I had a great time picking out non-jackhole people to give them to. I loved seeing the look on people’s face when they realized they didn’t have to shell out an arm and a leg for a lift ticket, or that they could surprise their kids with tubing or bowling or skating. It made an old lady’s weekend.

Weeding

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I have to weed out Google Reader a good bit. I realized recently that I am missing some of my favorite blogs because I lost my mind for a while and started subscribing to a whole bunch that I don’t even like that much, so now, every time I open Reader, I see 1000+ posts and I get overwhelmed and I shut it back down. So today, I am cleaning house. So, if I used to be a frequent reader/commenter to yours and you haven’t seen me in a while, I am sorry – especially to those of you who still come around here even though I appear to have abandoned you. I’m going to weed out a bunch of bullshit and I’ll be back.

A Typical Conversation with my Mother

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Me: We had a great time!

Mom: That’s nice.

Me: There was so much to do – skiing, tubing, bowling…

Mom: Hmmm…

Me: We couldn’t possibly do it all! I mean, we went from the room to the bar for a…

Mom: That’s nice – so what do you think about these shoes?

Me: They’re cute. Anyway, there was a party in the bar and then we went to another bar to see a band, it was gr..

Mom: Do they look OK? I like them. They were more than I wanted to pay, but I couldn’t pass them up.

Me: They’re great – I love them. So, anyway, the band was great and we enjoyed it. I was tired on Saturday, but I was bound and determined to go skiing. I was nervous, since it had been so long, but I sur…

Mom: Oh. So, how about this cover-up? Isn’t it pretty?

Me: Yes – it’s lovely. I really surprised myself with how well I did on skis. I was tired, though, so I skipped the tubing – besides, we still had a ton of other things to d…

Mom: That’s nice. Look at this dress I got! It was on sale so cheap – unbelievable, right?

Me: Un-freaking-believable is right.

Mom: Does it fit OK?

Me: It’s fine. Anyway, I have to go. I just thought I’d tell you about the weekend.

Mom: What? I’m listening.

Me: It’s OK. All in all, we had a good time- they really took care of us – a nice room, freebies, lots of activities, breakfast, lunch and dinner on them, and…

Mom: Did you really eat all those meals? That’s too much. I could NEVER eat that much. Hmmm.