Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ten Things That Make Me Angry

What pushes your buttons, ticks you off, and causes the red hot fire of hell to burn your innards like the brimstone lit by the breath of a dragon?  We’re not talking about societal ills here, like war, rape, murder, sexism, poverty, snobbery, child abuse, death, hate, unsweetened chocolate, or genocide.  All that stuff is crap, too, but I’m talking everyday junk that drags you out and makes you twitch.  Here are ten of mine:

1.      Too many questions.  There is a direct correlation between the number of questions I am asked and the speed of my blood pressure.  There is an inverse correlation between the number of questions asked and the lightness of my mood.  This math lesson is brought to you by a family full of quizmasters who fire daily endless questions at me regarding the weather, the meaning of common words like “the” and “beneath,” and exactly what I will be doing at 10:19 tonight.

2.      People who wait to be served.  I am not talking at a restaurant or at a hotel, where service is something you pay for.  I’m talking about life in general.  In life, most people are capable of helping themselves in almost every situation.  If you know where the glasses are kept, PLEASE HELP YOURSELF.  Also, if you are hungry, for the love of Mike and all his holy brothers, don’t wait for me to feed you.  It’s like you’re daring me to allow you to starve.

3.      The idea that fat-free/low fat or low calorie food is always the healthy option.  Um, ice cream sandwiches, even though they promise less fat than your average pint of Haagen Das, are NOT healthy.  Diet Coke is not healthy in any sense.  I am not a nutritionist, just rational and sane.  Do ice cream sandwiches and Diet Coke taste good?  Yes.  Chemicals are delicious, but they are not healthy.  Please don’t try to convince me otherwise.

4.      Clamshell packaging.  I imagine a board meeting with twelve suits circling a mahogany table, glasses of fresh ice water in their hands, saying, “Let’s come up with packaging that has a hundred percent success rate for serious laceration injuries, either by the packaging itself or the invariably inappropriate tool that our customers will reach for when slicing it open.”  Then imagine me walking in the door and dumping that ice water over all of their heads.

5.      Paying for feminine hygiene products.  That stuff is expensive, people.  And it is NOT an option, like nail clippers, birth control, or even underarm deodorant.  I mean, really.  I clip forty-seven coupons a month for this crap.  And don’t tell me anything about Diva Cup, birth control pills, hysterectomy, or pregnancy.  That stuff costs money, too.  It’s just another way for the man to keep us ladies down.  My husband agrees, if only to keep me from griping.  What’s a girl gotta do for free Tampax?

6.      When people express delight or relief that some bad fortune didn’t happen to them.  If I want to talk about something horrible in the world, complain about something terrible that happened to me or something that ticks me off, the last thing I want to hear is how you’ve never had that experience, or how you’re so glad to be spared that particular injustice.  So your life is perfect?  Goody goody for you.  Come over here and let me punch you right in the neck.

7.      The word “interesting” as a description.  As in, “I found that movie/book/family dynamic interesting” or “That outfit is interesting” or “Her taste in men is interesting.”  What you’re saying is that it’s bad, you hated it, you find it ridiculous, stupid.  If you don’t feel negative about it, don’t say that it’s interesting.  Say what you think already.  I find it interesting that you can’t come up with another word to describe something you hate anything but interesting.

8.      When people don’t answer their phone, don’t call back, insist on texting only, or lie about not getting the message.  The art of communication is rapidly dying, and it really wasn’t so great to begin with.  I realize that I am in the minority when I say that I am not an avid texter or call screener.  I call back.  And if you have screened me because you feel I am not worth your time at the very moment I call, then you are RUDE.  And dealing with rude people makes me angry.

9.      The poor quality of clothing.  I am not hard on clothing, yet garments will literally rip into shreds after washing according to the instructions on the tags, shrink and discolor and lose shape after one wearing, or fall apart after a short time.  It's frustrating.  What is going on here?  Is the message that we are to go around in the nude?  If so, I clearly need more time at the gym.

10.  Life is Good.  Those shirts.  The baseball caps.  All with little stick people emphasizing how much of Life is Good.  Tell that to the people who have lost loved ones in wars, in movie theaters, to that homeless guy who got his face eaten off on the Miami freeway.  Tell them that Life is Good.  Every time I see one of those shirts, the baseball caps, I feel it’s like these people are being spit at in the face.  Or lack of, if you’re that homeless guy.  Either way, Life is Good makes me indignant.

Don't make me wear my grumpy face.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wasting Your Time

Today, I felt it.

The anxiety that comes with not doing a blog post.

I mean, having the time and the energy to do everything else, but willfully not writing because I didn't feel like committing to it, and then feeling anxious, a little panicky even, because I am not getting it done.

Which is dumb because I started this blog to become totally rich and famous, and I'm almost there. 

And now I'm breaking my most important rule when I started this blog: Do not EVER write about the process of writing.  It is boring and stupid, and even mom doesn't want to read about that, and she comprises roughly one-fourth of my audience.

Taking time to wash fingerprints off of windows?  Got it.  Doing three half-loads of laundry?  No prob -  I got two hours for that.  Dilly-dallying on Facebook and changing your profile picture four times today?  Jeez.  Who DOESN'T make time for that?

But for me to find an interesting subject, put those thoughts down, do some light editing, and post it to the blog?  Excuse me, I can't possibly do that. 

So I put it off for days, much like I do when there's a huge bill to pay and I just can't bring myself to pay it right away.  Which I guess sounds like I don't pay my bills on time.  Which I DO.  Don't even think about spreading rumors.  It's just... parting with a big hunk of cash is sometimes the last thing I want to do, so I'll go around and straighten up all the curtains in the house and pick all the lint off the floor with my fingernails before I write that check.

Which is how I feel about writing.  Sometimes putting thoughts into words and making them seem coherent to others is a huge task for me.  And irrationally, the more days that go by, the more pressure I put on myself to write, and the more panicked I feel about it.

So today, I did. 

Sorry about that.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Watch Your Step

Parenting is fraught with dangerous ground and treacherous paths.  In the course of a parent’s lifetime, one will make innumerable mistakes and will pay dearly for her mistakes in the form of children’s misbehaviors and bad habits.  The opposite is true as well.  The more we do right, the more we will be rewarded for our efforts by our children’s small victories and stellar trajectories.  During this course, we will encounter fellow parents who prove to be amazing mentors who give us valuable tips on everything from surviving sleep interruptions to serving broccoli with no whining.

In any line of study, there are also false teachers.  In parenting, these are other parents who insist on ways which really only work for a very specific family dynamic, or will just plain give you whack advice that is best ignored.  Some will display parenting styles that will shock and amaze you, and not in a good way.  Simply put, they will serve as a warning that if you engage in said parenting tactics, you might have some trouble down the road.

Like the one woman who invited a bunch of my friends and I to her home for a playdate and stood idly by as her daughter took a dump in the yard.

Seriously.  The mom sat and watched as her daughter took off her pants and pooped next to the French doors that led into their home.

The child was potty-training.  She told her mother that she had to go potty, and wanted to go in the yard.  The mother beamed at the youngster's initiative, said “Sure, baby,” and the child pulled down her bathing suit and shadoobied right there in front of me, my child, and about three other child/parent pairs.  The mother laughed, praised her child, waved her away, and went right back to telling us about the underwear she got at La Perla or something.

The rest of us stood there with our mouths hanging open before we moved to shoo our own children away from the stinky mound that her daughter had just made.

Color me shocked.

I was aghast.  I no longer cared about her fancy pants or was jealous that I couldn’t afford to drop a G on underthings.  Her kid just laid an egg in the yard.

I wondered if I was being a tad conservative.  Maybe I missed something.  After all, I only had one child, and he was young at the time.  Was this was how everyone was parenting nowadays?  Is this a new hippie mom thing?  Are kids supposed to run around, taking potty breaks wherever and whenever the need arises, and I’m supposed to look on with tenderness and wonderment, never mind the reality of having to not only scoop dog poop out of my yard, but also human waste?  I wondered if allowing children to act like animals was the new parenting trend.

Then I realized that I wasn’t uptight.  This woman treated her children not as children, but as pets.  They were domesticated animals who are kept to be amusements for their masters.  Forget table manners and please and thank you and here, let me hold that door for you.  Those things are obsolete.  Watch this, my kid will poop in the yard!  Isn’t it hilarious?  Her expectations of what she was to be teaching to her children were set so low that she wasn’t teaching them anything at all. 

I stepped over the pile of princess poop and left the playdate a little dazed as I reinforced to my then-toddler that children do NOT use the backyard as a toilet, no matter what he had seen that day.  I explained to my son that we use the bathroom, even though he was in diapers at the time.

To be fair, this woman was only a friend of a friend of a friend; I didn't know her at all, and our paths never again crossed.  But I think about her and her children a lot.  Was this one incident just an exception to a relatively normal upbringing that she gave to her children as they grew?  I sincerely hope so, but what I took away from this incident so early in my parenting life was this:

Sometimes parenting can be a minefield which leaves you dirty, bleeding and scarred, and sometimes you will wade through waters that will leave you breathless yet victorious, but common sense goes a long way.

And if you let your kids poop in the yard in front of strangers, one of them may use your parenting style as a cautionary tale on their blog.  So be careful, and do better next time.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Confessional Tuesday on Wed....errrr, Thursday

I confess that I thought it was Wednesday all day today.

And when I found out it was really Thursday, I pouted because somehow I lost a weekday.  Because even though Monday's my favorite, any weekday is better than a weekend day in my book.

Because that's when everyone else gets to relax, and I inexplicably get more work to do.

Before you begin to feel jealous that my life is so unscheduled that I can actually lose track of what day it is, know that the other day I hid in my bedroom for an hour to compose myself after having a spitting temper tantrum in front of my kids because they whined a little after I asked them to make their beds.  You read that right.  I spit.

Losing a day is no picnic, people.  Or it's a picnic where everyone ate all the hamburgers before you got there, and you're left with a warm deviled egg and a burnt hot dog.


Darn it.

How does this happen?  Clearly, I need a new system.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Is That What I Think It Is?

I’m a neat freak, if you don’t know this already.  I hate clutter.  I can’t relax if there’s a mess that I can do something about.  This is just at my house.  I can tolerate your mess and my mom’s mess and the mess in the movie theater.  But at my house, I CAN’T STAND IT.  CLEAN YOUR ROOM.

My family finds me hilarious.  And by hilarious, I mean profoundly annoying.

I’ve always been consistently neat and tidy, if not altogether clean and shiny.  I will first make piles of dirt if I can’t clean it up right away.  Dirt doesn’t bother me like messes do.  Maybe that’s wrong, but so is judging others.  So stop it.

But sometimes, even if you’re a neat freak, life happens and you can’t clean the messes up in a timely manner.  They will get away from you, and you are left to wonder how things got to be so out of hand.  And then one day you dump out your purse and it looks like this:

And in the midst of trying to figure out why you carry so many panty-liners and tissue packs and pads of paper and cash in a baggie instead of your wallet and a sunglasses case instead of sunglasses, you will find a lime.  And you will question your whole existence.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dream State

I’ve heard it said that a sure way to end a conversation is to talk about the dream you had last night. 

I’ve also heard that the best way to get people to leave a party that has gone too long is to turn up the music and say “OMG, this is my favorite song.  Listen to the lyrics.”

I’ve been to a party where that happened, and it’s true.

But back to our dreams.  I don’t totally agree with the view that hearing other people’s dreams induces a snoozefest.  It can be a bore to hear someone talk about themselves, dreams or otherwise, but some people have awesome dreams that turn into successful books and movies, songs and poetry, inventions and innovations.  It’s all in the delivery.  It’s how Twilight was born, and regardless of your preference, Team Twilight or Team I Can’t Wait Until This Undead Thing Dies, it’s no secret that dreams are a great source of creative inspiration and ideas that, if nurtured and expanded, can catapult a career or start a revolution.  It just has to be done well to be successful.

Dreams are also studied as if they lend insight into our personalities or futures.  I’ve looked up countless dreams in dream dictionaries to see what they mean.  Books and websites on dream interpretation are fun, but like horoscopes, are unreliable.  These interpretations usually tell me that my dreams show that I am repressing something.  Ridiculous.

I used to have vivid dreams that I remembered upon waking.  They were wild and random and of course would make great movies and books.  I was never smart enough to write any of them down, so I lose.  And although I can usually remember a little of my dreams once in a while, I often don’t sleep enough to get a good long dream going, and I don’t take any prescription drugs that bring on a good crazy-dream side effect.  Double loser.  

My mother has great dreams.  I always tell her to write that crap down, because they are fantastic.  She doesn’t, but she enthralls us with the stories she spins from her dreams. My favorite dream of hers is when she pulled worms out of her arm à la Black Swan.  Gross and disturbing, yes; boring, no. 

I guess the trick to describing our dreams is to be a good storyteller or to realize when it might be a start to something worthwhile.  Only then can you keep someone’s attention while talking about yourself.  If you care, that is.

If you don’t, you can just throw it right out there that last night you dreamed a baby elephant pooped on your bed.*


*That’s all I got, anyway.