Tag Archives: family

Letting It Go: A Birthday Bash Tale

18 Aug
olaf

Olaf is property of the Disney folks. This image can be found over at LetsPartyShop’s Etsy page. Click to check ’em out. 

On Sunday, August 14th, 2016, a bathing suit was yanked up my torso, giving a slight smooth to my otherwise blatant belly bulge, yanked over my shoulders to pancake my mediocre breasts within, and waddled out with my gelatinous, thundering thighs below into a community pool. It had been five years since I’d been in a body of water, but it was my niece’s fifth birthday, dammit, and I wasn’t going to infest her precious little baby brain with self-consciousness and terms like “body positivity,” “goal weight” and “thigh gap.”

This was a big win for me.

I hated the idea of a pool party. Really – why, OH GOD WHY, did that have to be the location? My aversion to watery outings isn’t just due to the need to sport a swimsuit; it’s compounded by a host of other awful traits that recreational water activities feature: hordes of people, gaggles of children, metric tons of sand, wide open spaces, bright blazing sunlight, and a general lack of cats, video games, and pillows. To add pain to pressure, she had chosen the most obvious of themes: Frozen. How, after three complete rotations of the earth, little nuggets across the country are still holding on to Elsa and Olaf with their tiny, grabby hands, is beyond me.

Back in the day I recall many a family outing where I didn’t care how much grease slathering I had to do to get out in the water – and no amount of sand in my danger zones could stop me from burying my entire self on the shore. We used to have regular family outings at a local dam and I would get so excited I would nearly vomit before we even got to the car to leave. (I didn’t get out much as a child.) But now, every element of the pastime annoys me and I’ve actively and successfully avoided beaches, pools, lakes, and ponds. I will, from time to time, indulge in kayaking on a river. Because it is a solo activity, void of sand, and can be done in shorts and a t-shirt. If a child approaches me, I can swiftly paddle away.

Alas, when my niece looked up at me with her big, brown eyes and curls to match and asked me if I would come to her birthday party, I knew my days of comfort and curmudgeonry were at an end.

I considered just staying out of the water all day. There are pavilions and grass patches, and a variety of perimeter sections at a pool, and on the right day with only a slight amount of people, I imagined that curling up on a bench and reading a book would be kind of nice. I might even feel a little outdoorsy. But this was a birthday party for a five-year-old. There would be no reading, no sitting, and no relaxation of any kind. We had dibs on the giant, central water slide and I knew I would have two choices: go down it twenty-two times in a row, or go down in her memory as the worst of all the aunts.

Having chosen the former, I found myself in the bathing suit section of Target at 10pm the night prior, picking over the clearance section of the suits that were left behind. Mid-August is a beach-shopper’s wasteland, with mismatched and poorly-sized two-pieces, one-pieces in animal prints, and a handful of misshapen cover ups.

I had twenty dollars, a black tank top at home I wasn’t sure even fit me, and a modicum of chutzpah.

I also had the Dave, who found me picking over the beachgoers’ desert with my grumplepuss face on. I had acquired two bottoms I was sure wouldn’t fit me, and a cover-up I was secretly hoping I could pair with jean shorts for the day if it seemed my niece was suddenly lukewarm about my presence and I could cut out pool time. I knew that was unlikely.

Dave was lovely, as Daves are, and encouraged me to go try things on. It made a lot more sense than my approach, which was to stare at things and pull on them until I gleaned whether a six dollar piece of fabric would really make my ass virtually unnoticeable. The first piece was an absolute no. It had this extra band of fabric above the top line of the bottoms that was an attempt at some style, but it was made of elastic and only served to divide my singular fat roll into two distinct, smaller rolls. That was, perhaps, a bonus, as it made the second pair I tried on appear almost flattering – returning my belly bulge to its original full glory.

I stared at my too-large hind-end in the too-small bottoms and told myself that this was the year of #selflove. That lighting at department stores was less flattering than sunlight. That my tank top at home would help cover up some of what was now flailing about in the fitting room where I only had my t-shirt bra for coverage. That five-year-olds don’t see fat. Try as I might to believe the pick-me-ups, I really couldn’t fathom walking around in those bottoms. They left very little to the imagination, and I prefer people to imagine me majestic.

I must admit that a portion of my hesitation was due to the superior genetic makeup of my sister-in-law’s family. She is one of twelve, and the parents who spawned them created a unique and superior mix of genes that led to tan skin, fantastic hair, high percentages of muscle composition, and a disposition for sportiness that hatched a litter of chiseled beasts. It’s a genetic unfairness that is to blame for my five-year-old niece’s washboard abs. The niece for whom I would have to hope beyond hope that when I woke up, I would get the gumption to squeeze my pasty, puckered behind into a too-small budget bikini bottom.

It was 9am when I rolled out of bed, threw on the suit, stood in the mirror at various angles while repeating body positive mantras, and hopped in the family wagon to meet my niece’s pool posse. I told myself I would find the magic on the way. I have a theater degree, for Pete’s sake, and I was going to use it to play the part of someone who gave no damns.

We pulled into the parking lot at exactly the same time as my brother, and the excitement coming from the vehicle was palpable. It was stacked from front to back with all the trappings for a Frozen-themed birthday pool party, and somewhere smushed between were my nephew, the birthday girl, and my little baby pudding niece. I went right for Pudding Niece. We were as one this day – our thighs were glorious, we needed to be near food at all times, and we probably should have stayed out of the water.

It took all of five minutes after getting my wristband on and pushing the stroller inside before Birthday Niece requested my presence at the water slide. It was time.

I cued up some motivational 80’s pop for my own personal montage in my mind, and shut down the give-a-damns. I greased up in SPF 50, got any trace of makeup off my face, smoothed down my peach fuzz legs, and chub rubbed my way out to a terribly exciting looking slide. Birthday niece’s grandmother was poolside – one half of the dynamic gene duo that led to the long-legged hatchlings scattered about the pool. She was a wondrous gazelle. I carried on.

I could feel my butt jiggling. I feared my cheeks would shimmy their ways to each opposite side and my too-small bottoms would remain lodged in the in-between. I thought about how my top was pulled down slightly too far in order to eliminate the possibility of midriff; I wondered if my unsupported breasts would rip free of their burden at the bottom of the slide. I remembered my mantras. I climbed the slide. Birthday Niece and Smiley Nephew were in tow. They were awful thrilled that I was joining them and their little wobbly friends. I coached them through the launch procedure, as it seemed the unenthusiastic high schooler’s barely-muttered “…go…” didn’t quite to the trick. They took off, grins blazing. They reached the bottom with splashes much greater than their sizes. They were slowly brought to the top thanks to their arm floaties and life vests. They waited for Aunt Jackie to descend.

In that moment I didn’t think about how anyone else perceived me but them. It didn’t even matter what I thought. All that mattered was that I be there, and that I enjoy myself with them – and there wasn’t any room for my adult, media-contrived misgivings. I thought about my nephew’s big, bright smile and how he needed a little scoot to get down the tunnel. And Birthday Niece, who left her tiara poolside so she could have maximum funtimes. And Pudding Niece, who had big, beautiful thighs, and dimples on her shoulders, and was a glorious little creature who would grow up to be beautiful not because of her superior genes, but because every family member she has is going to affirm for her that however which way she grows, she is majestic.

And I launched and splashed.

And I launched and splashed again.

And I launched and splashed twenty more times, with Birthday Niece in tow.

Surprisingly enough, it was a big bucket of fun. As with most things I do, it was a reminder that just because I hate something at first doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. After all, I hate almost everything at first. And it reminded me that sometimes you’ve just gotta let all the stupid, silly hangups go for something bigger than yourself.

Or in my case – three smaller things. 

The Best Baby Shower Ever

13 Feb

Man, I hate baby showers.

I pretty much hate all showers that don’t include water. It mostly has to do with the idea of so much estrogen stuffed into a room together, and a little to do with the fact that it’s a social engagement and requires me to leave me apartment.

So I was forced into the light of day this past weekend to celebrate the inevitable arrival of my next nephew, already dubbed David. This presents an awkward problem for me, since my David is named…David. I feel very strange calling a very small human who is related to me by blood the same thing I call a very large human who I find attractive.  I’m trying to come up with a nickname for the squirt, but I also call my form of the human David both “Davey” and “Dave”, so those are out as alternatives. Someone suggested “Li’l D” but that’s  too mediocre-white-rapper for my taste. I could go by his middle name, but the middle name is a tribute to my brother, so that’s another hot mess.

Anyway I was at a baby shower celebrating the almost fully baked muffin and was the only female in the room who had not had a child. Or snagged a husband.

For those of you unawares, when you’ve been with someone for five years and/or you’re closing in on 30, it’s virtually impossible to attend adult social engagements without being badgered about when the big day is.  And now that America is all willy-nilly about the importance of getting married before having babies, I’m not even asked when I’m getting married anymore; they just hop right to “so when do you think you’ll have kids?!”

For the record, both of these questions are rude.  And annoying. Please stop it.

But that’s just the surface of why baby showers are so awful.  The real reason is that when you’re trapped in a room with a bunch of moms who haven’t had a chance to get out in a while and connect with other moms, they want to talk about mom stuff.  In my case, pretty much everyone was a relatively new mom and were the proud owners of wobbly toddlers. With the topic of the day being an impending birth, it was only a matter of time before conversation veered toward the inevitable: the miracle of  childbirth also known as the disgusting process of labor.

I have a lot of questions about labor that I don’t really want to know the answer to.  They didn’t cover the details in my health class. All I remember is a video that had absolutely no warning attached to it showing me things I never dreamed I would be shown against my will.  I try to avoid discussion surrounding labor because I’m afraid that when it’s confirmed that you really do poop yourself in the process, I’m never going to allow myself to have children.

At a baby shower, labor-related discussions are inevitable.  Because just when you’re ready to hunker down with a meatball sub and some cake, everyone starts talking about the pain of pushing a watermelon-sized human out their hoo-has like it’s no big deal.

It’s not their fault, really.  It’s just that they’re moms; the things they’ve seen in the process of caring for a creature that is unable to eat, clean, or poop on its own has turned them into unflinching warriors of bodily functions.  I admire it, really.  There’s something to be said for someone who can discover a human turd on the floor and clean it up without protest or surprise. That’s the kind of warrior moms are. I’m just not there yet.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be there. I find turds to be quite alarming.

In the spirit of inclusion, I should note that dads are capable of turd removal as well, but they are not emphasized in this post because I’ve never been to a baby shower that includes men.  And I’ve never known one who has gone through labor and lived to talk about it.

So for lots of reasons, I would prefer to not have to attend showers ever again.  Unless, that is, the nature of the shower changes. Perhaps instead of playing baby-related games and showering someone with presents, we could all go play paintball together.  The expectant mother could hole up in a fort with snacks and her friends could divide up into two teams and play Capture the Expectant Mother. Or everyone could go play laser tag together and to make it fair for the soon-to-be-mom, everyone could wear fake bellies.

Capture the unborn child.

Capture the unborn child.

I’m not really sure why these haven’t already become social sensations.

So I guess I’ll throw it out there.  The next shower I attend should employ these simple suggestions or something in the same spirit. 

Even if I have to wait ’til my own. 

Dear Boomerang Kids Everywhere:

5 Sep

Today, I met an interesting woman at a bus stop.  Let’s call her Margie.

Normally, I don’t talk to Margies.  I don’t talk to anyone, really, especially not people at bus stops.  But Margie didn’t really care who I was or how I felt.  She was a jolly lass and it didn’t occur to her that I could be introverted so she just blabbered on and on about her day.  And since I was having a particularly poopy one myself, I kind of didn’t mind the break from my inner monologue.

Margie is a social worker who has been laid off three times due to budget cuts.  She spends her day dealing with women in crisis and juveniles in court.  She makes about 25K a year and though her daughter makes more than twice that, her daughter is living at home.  And not paying any bills.  And using Margie’s car, which was why Margie was at the bus stop at that particular moment.

So this is a post for Margie.  In fact, it’s for all the Margies out there who find themselves so blinded by their love for their children that they just can’t bear to tell them to get the hell out of the house.  If you’re  a Margie, have no fear.  Just copy the web address in your browser right now, paste it into an email or text, and shoot it off to your lovable little mooch.  Of course, there are some kids who are experiencing some technical difficulties in their lives and have extenuating circumstances.  This isn’t for those.  This is for the kids who are fully capable of formulating a plan for adulthood and are putting it off in exchange for the convenience of feeding off their parents.  Those kids.  So look around your house.  Do you have any of those lingering around?  If so, send them this web address, tell them you like my blog, that they should follow it, and that you’ve been doing some thinking and maybe they should also get the hell out of the house.  Follow it with “lol jk” and then “but seriously, read this”.

Dear Margie’s Daughter and Boomerang Kids Everywhere:
Look at your parental figure/s.  Don’t they look tired?  That’s because they are.  They’re old and tired because for the last two and a half decades or so, they’ve weaned you from a squealing, helpless piglet into a walking, talking, thinking human being.  They paid taxes so you could go to school and gave you rides when you needed to go see your stupid significant other or when you wanted to go to a dance or do some other waste of an adolescent pastime.   They went to work every day so that they could go to the store after work, fight off hordes of other parents just like them, buy dinner, come home, and cook it for you so that you could just gobble it up in 5 minutes, not leave any leftovers, and then leave the table without offering to help clean up so that you could return to some stupid aforementioned adolescent pastime.  They’re tired because once you learned to drive, you’d borrow the car and leave it on empty so that they had to wake up extra early to put gas in it before they went to work, where they got more money to afford the gas they put in the car for you to run out.
So listen: they did their part.  You can walk on two feet instead of four, you can poop in a toilet instead of your pants, and you can (God willing) at least sustain yourself with boxed meals from the supermarket instead of skinning small vermin in the wilderness for daily sustenance.  Now it’s your turn.  You’re a big kid now.  And it’s time to move out.
It is.  It really is.  You were really only supposed to be an eighteen-year commitment.  Then you were supposed to get a job and/or go to college, never to return again.  But you did return.  And you aren’t using any of your life skills to better the household.  You’re using your money to participate in your stupid mid-20’s pastimes instead of donating it to the greater good of the unit.  You shower, you plug things in, you put things in your mouth, and you flush things down the toilet.  That all costs money, and it’s time to pay up.  Don’t have a job?  Get one.  Even a terrible one.  
Hey, sometimes you have to work sucky jobs.  Lots of people have sucky jobs.  You know what really sucks, though? Having a sucky job and not even having any money to show for it because your kid won’t move out of the damn house.  So get a job and get out.
While you’re writing a big fat check to your parents for all the years they’ve sheltered and fed you past the eighteen-year contract, remember to clean up after yourself.  For the love of all that is holy, take a shower.  Do some dishes.  Inspire your parents to soil their pants by offering to make dinner or take them out.  Ask if you can go pick up some groceries for them or go fill up the gas tank, or do some laundry.   
And once you’ve gotten a job, given your parents some money to offset the cost of your existence, cleaned up the room where you wove your cocoon, and landed an apartment, begin your mass exodus with a hug and a thank you to your old, tired, parent/s.  Because  every year you spent in their home past the eighteen-year-contract was a year of their life they can’t get back.  And the Bible tells us that there’s no greater gift than to lay down your life for another.
Look at that: no greater gift.  Jesus says so.  You can’t ever repay your parental unit/s for this time you’ve taken from them.  So just be a good little lamb and hit the road.  Now.  Hey- look at that: you’re already online.  Just click here.  
Good job.  Now print out three options, show them to your parental unit/s and take a shower while they celebrate with a bottle of wine that you purchase for them.  Trust me: you’re doing the right thing.  And in a few decades, you can return to this page, send it to your own little lovable mooches and get your own free bottle of wine and a ticket to your golden years.
You’re welcome.
Puppies and Sprinkles,
Jackie 

A Day in the Life of a Postal Worker’s Wife

18 Jul

You can find anything on the Interwebz. Even a chipmunk delivering mail to foreign lands. Also, if you have any knowledge pertaining to what the hell this says, please inform me.

Dave is a mailman.

Did we cover this? Have we covered this?  I think not.  This happened some time ago; once a week just isn’t enough.  Stay a while, have some tea.

So Dave is a mailman.  He delivers letters to people and is given a paycheck in return.  He’s a professional courier pigeon.  

Believe it or not, it makes complete and total sense that Dave should join the United States Postal Service because the USPS has haunted me for my entire life.  It’s true.  My father worked there, my brother worked there, and my mother is still an employee of 13 years.  She’s probably due to go postal soon.  I don’t think anyone actually retires in the post office; they just lose their minds, go to jail because they stole all the mail and buried it in their backyard, or both.  

I even worked there.  For a day.  Apparently my family is of good letter carrying stock.  Dave’s and my offspring will be mail marines with all that raging postal blood coursing through their veins.

Honestly, I don’t understand how it all happened.  All I really remember is that the application was just the most awful thing I can imagine doing.   Applications drive me insane in the first place but this monster is the ugliest there is.  It asks you where you’ve lived and who’s lived with you.  For your entire life. 

That’s particularly hard for me, not just because I hate applications, but because I’ve moved 13 times.  And I’ve cohabitated with a lot of people (in a non slutty way).   I have a tendency to exaggerate, but that one has been fact checked by the United States Postal Service, folks; that’s real.

So somehow I managed to not set the paper on fire before I completed it and I handed it in and I was hired.  I ordered my uniform.  I got all nervous for my first day.  And then they called me the morning I was supposed to go and told me that the position was actually no longer open and they didn’t need the extra help and thanked me for my time.

The Postal Service isn’t a very organized lot, despite having the most detailed map to our country.

It was a complete waste of two weeks of my life.   The t-shirt was all I had left.  I kept it, much to Dave’s dismay.  When I wear it casually, he has a visceral reaction.   I guess it’s like him buying a t-shirt that says “Hi Jackie! How was your boss today?!” … I can understand why it might upset him.

There are lots of things about Dave being a mailman that amuse me.  One is that he’s a particularly attractive man and he finds that he gets hit on by a lot of middle-aged ladies who are home waiting for the mail.  The other is that his entire world is now shaped by the mail service.   It’s impossible to perform a task for 10 hours a day and not have it fundamentally shape you as a person.  And though Dave tends to leave his work at work, there are still days he’ll come home with the mail in his hand and say “Honey, you’re failing your duties as a mail recipient”.  He gets worked up when I forget to get the mail.

And he’s for realsies.

Then he sees it’s all Presorted Standard mail and rips it up with raucous laughter. 

For those of you who don’t come from a long line of good postal stock, Presorted Standard is a class of mail that is basically reserved for paid advertising.  When you look to the upper right of an envelope you receive in the mail, if it says Presorted Standard, you can just throw it out.  That’s a piece of mail that a company has paid money to have the Postal Service send to you without you asking.  It’s how they make the bulk of their money so mailmen are stuck delivering these unwanted pieces of garbage to every single person on their routes, just to have them throw it directly in the trash.  

Of course, that’s a big monumental waste of time so Dave would much prefer to bury the Presorted Standard  mail in our front yard and be carted off to the loony bin.  But he comes from good stock, so he delivers it all.  And when he comes home to find that I’ve left a nugget of Presorted Standard beauty for him in the mailbox, ripping up his own junk mail is a welcome bit of catharsis. 

He’s also losing weight faster than any normal human being could possibly match.  Apparently carrying over 50 pounds on your back while you walk up and down stairs and hills for several hours a day in intense heat is quite the Ab Blast.  

Obviously, I’m cleaning up my diet to counterbalance.  I can’t let myself be the fat one.  I just can’t.

Anyway, that’s all.  You already know I quit my job (so I can live off my handsome mail carrier).  And hey, I’m not allowed to blog about work because I could be fired, but Dave’s job is fair game, right?

Maybe I’ll change my blog to be a day in the life of a postal worker’s wife.  

That sounds like a shot straight to the top of the famous farm. 

Door Is Open; Bellydancer Is Free

29 Dec

As I write this, my 363rd post, I am sitting in the living room of an old high school friend.

She’s  not old; the relationship is.

One of the reasons I still keep her around is that when I visit her family, it’s a lot like stepping into the middle of a sitcom.  I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s an amusing family, though it is.  I mean that in the sense that a half hour ago, the three children had three separate conversations with their mother and came to three separate conclusions about when dinner would be and the logistics for how it would be accomplished.  In the midst of this confusion, I decided to order a pizza out of fear that none of the three conclusions were correct and that I would die of an empty, shriveled stomach.

Five minutes after the arguments concluded, the mother came to the door to begin dinner.  None of the conclusions (dinner would be more than a half hour away) were correct and as a result, the pizza delivery guy came just two minutes before her mother shouted that dinner was ready.

I promptly hid the pizza in the living room out of fear.

Before dinner fired up, I was entertained by Betty (my friend’s sister), who decided she needed to get her exercise in for the day and resorted to On Demand guided exercise on the television.  Her choice: some sort of Karma Sutra Sensual Healing, which she gave us all the pleasure of enduring for the first fifteen minutes that she took it seriously.   The rest was done in fast-forward, which was significantly less awkward and probably a far more effective workout.

What I love about this sitcom house is that it’s always been absurd.  I can’t remember a single time I’ve visited that everyone wasn’t yelling at each other at some point about something completely ridiculous.  I can’t remember a time I didn’t end up on a chair in the living room, shaking my head.  And I also can’t remember a time that I ever had to knock before I entered or that anyone looked shocked that I was there.  

It’s wonderful to have a place in the world like that outside of your family: where you never know what to expect but you know that you can be absent for a long time only to return and find that nothing has really changed. 

So hey: it’s been a while since we’ve talked.  Midnight is also fast-approaching and I’m on a postaday deadline without a well-constructed ending in sight.  

So where is your place in the world where you know the door is always open? ◊

The Holidays Make Me Want to Elope

28 Dec

 

Holiday vacation has convinced me of the need to elope.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past several days I have been asked the date, time, and specific logistics surrounding a marriage that has, in fact, not yet been discussed by Dave and I.  There were a slew of examples, but suffice it to say that the straw that broke the Jackie’s back was when my 12-year-old cousin was visiting us today and said “You’re the outsider.  Everyone is married and has a baby.  You aren’t even married yet.

Emphasis hers.

As you may imagine, this came as the caboose on a very long train of marriage questions I endured throughout the holiday vacation.  In a rather comedic turn of events, I realized for the first time this past weekend that Dave has a slew of grandmothers.  His family believes that you divorce a person, not a family, and thus has continued to welcome all once-members with open arms in a rather unique display of love.  As a result, he has no less than six grandmothers.  In fact, when I asked him to confirm my count, he replied, “yeah, that sounds about right”, indicating that perhaps he has even lost track.

And those are just his.

Think about that.  Really think about what it would be like to repeat the conversation you have with your grandmother each holiday several different times with several different grandmothers of varying moods, characters, and sizes.  How two people can be dating for four years and still not tied the knot eludes most anyone over the age of 60 and it’s bound to come up eventually.  At one point following a substantial intake of wine, I recall having my entire wedding planned before my very eyes.  Something like two locations, two states, and a neighbor’s backyard.  I also recall the words “pig roast”.

I don’t even have a ring on my finger.

Not that I mind that my hand is sans shiny bauble – I rather enjoy living like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.  Dave and I tend to think of it as if we have our entire lives to be married and our entire lives to have a kid, but only right now to be dating.  And we rather like it at the moment.  Anything further isn’t really anyone’s business in my opinion.  But nonetheless, opinions come in the form of pig roasts.

And so I’ve decided that when the time comes, David and I might be better off eloping.  Brides have a hard enough time settling in to their wants for the day without catering to others in medium-sized families.  Can you imagine the tug-of-war to be had with a family large enough to have an indefinite number of grandmothers roaming the earth?  Besides, I’d say the cost of even a modest wedding would easily hit a price point over that of say, a trip to Barcelona. We could hop a plane, do the deed, hang around for the honeymoon, and come back to whatever backyard barbecues anyone pleases, so long as they’re the ones handling the stress and cost.

I think it sounds like a solid plan.  Of course, now I’ve gone and planned everything out without the shiny bauble to provoke it. 

It appears the grandmothers have won after all. 

All Hail the Master

17 Dec

Today, my dad graduated with his masters degree.

Isn’t that epic?  The man is over 50 years old.  When he made the decision to school and get his undergrad, I was getting mine and I’m his youngest kid.  We even had a class together, because I wasn’t about to pass up that opportunity. I also almost convinced him to come audition with me for the school play.  I still maintain that he could have made a stellar Oberon.

It’s taken something like ten years from start to finish, but he now has a terminal degree in his field.  It’s been a long journey for us all – but particularly me because I proofread his papers.  His thesis damn near killed me.  And today marked the official day that it is truly all over.  

I don’t know what I expected of myself from attending.  I knew I’d be proud – who wouldn’t be? I knew that I was excited, of course.  But I didn’t expect that when he came through the door to the auditorium, I would instantly weep. 

My dad’s not the kind of guy to really go outside his comfort zone.  If I wanted to get on a plush, awkwardly shaped half-couch and talk about the roots of things, I’d say my inclination to stay inside, not call people I know, and generally write off the rest of mankind is a direct result of following the pattern he set for me.  He didn’t go to the ceremony for his undergrad.  Partially because he didn’t think anything was worth celebrating until he got all the way through, and partially because it was probably uncomfortable to imagine going through all the pomp and circumstance alongside a bunch of 20-somethings.  

So since this was his first (and last) chance to celebrate, I was inclined to do all the stereotypical congratulatory acts.  I wanted to get him stupid mugs and balloons and books and magnets with inspiring quotes on them.  I wanted to ask him what he thought he would do when he grows up and tell him that he had his whole life ahead of him.  But since I was pretty sure that would provoke him to cause me physical harm, I resolved to just scream at the top of my lungs when they called his name to walk.  

Ah yes - the obligatory graduate bear. One never knows what to do with him, but stores keep selling him, people keep buying him, and graduates keep stuffing them in memento boxes.

 

The older lady in a fashion blazer and too-hairsprayed hair in front of me really didn’t appreciate my contribution.

But I didn’t really care about Blazer, because when her daughter walked, she did a little half-yelp.  She looked like she wanted to do more but she just couldn’t pull herself out of social formalities for even just a moment.  I’m sure her half-yelp gave her a thrill, but I needed more.  It was all I could do to hold back shouting “GO DADDY!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” – but I thought that might embarrass him so I cut off the “go daddy” portion and delivered the rest right into Blazer’s ear.

Turns out, I could have yelled anything I darn well pleased because dad didn’t hear any of it.  He was the first in line for the MFA degrees and had to set the precedent for where to walk and how to get hooded.  He was following arrows on the floor and being shepherded to the appropriate locations for pictures, handshakes, and degree-conferring.  Everything after his name announcement was a blackout.

I think that’s adorable.

I absolutely could not contain my joy to see him all suited up in a cap, gown, and draping hood behind.  The fact that this man saw his goal through all the way to the end and finished as grandfather to the two little babies who were in the back row is amazing to me. And the fact that someday soon he’ll have his own office on a campus and touch the lives of a myriad of students who will learn and talk about how totally cool my dad is? Well, there are just no words that can express my excitement and pride.

So congratulations to my fantastic and amazing father, who on this 17th day of December in the 2011th year of our Lord was hooded in an official ceremony to indicate how badass he is. 

That’s one heck of a Lollipop Tuesday. ◊

Thanksgiving Pseudo-Haikus

24 Nov

In celebration

of this joyous holiday

I wrote bad haikus

 

Face your food.

I.  “Stuffed”

Losing self-respect

I’m sure the pie is awesome

I just can’t do this.

 

II. “Baby food”

New babies this year

So hard to resist the urge

to feed them turkey

 

III. “Saran Wrap”

Take your vitamins

They help with memory loss

and save me store trips

 

Happy thanksgiving, all. 

What Happened to Black Friday?

23 Nov

Okay, let me be frank here.  What the hell happened to Black Friday?

Oh it’s still there, sure.  But it looks funny this year.  Don’t be fooled: November 25th is not what it seems.

Every year, my brother and I have a Black Friday tradition.  We get the flyers ahead of time and scope out the deals.  My brother is a total nerdy nerd so for him this means assessing the tech needs of the family.  Need a new television? Mike’s got it covered.  Want to watch your favorite movies on Blu-Ray but can’t justify replacing your DVDs? No worries: Mike will heed your concerns in November.  Heck, last year he got three DVD/Blu-Ray players for 20 dollars each just in case the family decided they wanted them.

The year before, we stood like ice statues outside Best Buy at 3am to be one of the first in line for Mike’s most coveted item of Black Fridays past: The Logitech Harmony Remote.  This baby is a fully programmable remote that suits all your entertainment center needs.  You program the step by step process for everything from your old school Nintendo to your shiny new DVD/Blu-Ray player (courtesy of Mike, perhaps?) and when you’re finished, it turns on everything you need for a single task with one beautifully orchestrated ballet of genius.  Simply push the button beside “play a game” and the correct sound system boots up, the TV turns on, and your video game console emits a soft glow that whispers it’s ready.

That’s a beautiful purchase, my friends.

It’s not just about paying only a fraction of the price for life-changing goods.  It’s a hardcore bonding experience.  There’s nothing like forcing yourself into a vertical position and prying your eyelids open with your fingers on a still-digesting stomach full of turkey to reinforce that brother-sister love.

Mike and I are highly evolved species in a capitalistic society.  It’s a test of evolution, do you understand?  We have to stand in line looking like hell frozen over, shaking with coffee that was cold the moment it was put in our hands and yet keep our limbs warm enough to dart through aisles to nab those deals before nimble and ever-persistent soccer moms.  Success means we’re at the top of the food chain.  And we’re always successful.

But this year it’s different.

What a sham.

Some stores are opening at midnight.  That means that there’s no scraping our skins out of bed – we simply have to go to bed late the night before.   There is no early morning coffee and driving home as the sun comes up, laughing at our delirium and celebrating a wagon full of gadgets.  There’s no test of evolution.

Even worse, some folks are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day.  It isn’t enough to test your ability to get out of bed in the morning or to stay up late at night; now we must test family loyalty.  In order to get the brightest and best catches this holiday season, you’ll need to skip the egg nog around the fire or the sneaking of cold turkey throughout a good game of cards.  You’ll have to end the festivities of one day to embark on the capitalistic traditions of the next.

So thanks, but no thanks, Black Friday.  You’ve been a great, unexpected festivity born of exhaustion and early morning laughter.  But I’m not forking over conversation with family and late night board games for bright flyers and percent-off signs.  You’re in uncharted territory.  You can’t compete.  I wish you nothing but failure this year.  

Next year I want my Black Friday back. 

How to Be a Good Houseguest

31 Oct

Well, we’re staring down the barrel of November, folks. That means that in what will seem to only be a few short days, we will fly through the holidays season with every moment full of angst, hurriedness, and guilt. I’m so looking forward to it, arent you? So allow me to address a holiday matter before the holidays are truly upon us: How to be a good houseguest.

Being a good houseguest is a crucial skill. Not only do you want to ensure you have a place to stay when you’re away from home so you don’t spend your holidays in a hotel, but you would also like to not completely ruin your relationship with the host. And having had a plethora of folks shack up at my place, I am deeming myself an authority on the matter. Heed my words, oh wonderful and knowledge-seeking followers.

How to Be a Good Houseguest

1) Leave it how you found it.  Doesn’t that seem simple? But that means everything. It means making the bed to the best of your ability before you leave. It means cleaning up after yourself when you put your feet up and have a snack somewhere in the house. It means that if you use their towels or washcloths or anything else they offered you that you give them back at the end of the run and even offer to throw them in the washing machine.

2)  Be gracious for everything.  If they make you food or offer you a drink or got a different kind of bath soap because they know you are allergic to theirs or whatever they may do to make you feel at home, be gracious. That includes eating whatever they are kind enough to make and saying thank you for it.  Hey, if you dont like it you can sneak out on the town and eat something else. Or pack granola bars for such an emergency.

3) Offer to help.  With anything –  dinner, cleaning, whatever.  If there are dishes to be done and some of them have been dirtied by you, help.  Insist on it. Because no matter what the host says, they’re completely and utterly thankful for the helping hand. After all, they’d rather be spending time with everyone than spending all their time cleaning up after them.

4) Maintain. Sure, you were given a guest room for the duration of your stay, but that room is still part of a house that is not yours. So while you should feel free to make yourself at home you should not feel free to live like a complete slob in that room until your departure.

5) Enjoy yourself.  I know all this seems like a lot of fuss and trouble but it’s really not.  Essentially just offer to help here and there and clean up after yourself. Easy peasy.  Remember: above all the host just wants you to enjoy yourself. So kick back, relax, make yourself feel at home (so long as your home is not a nest of digustingness) and enjoy the stay.
And a sidenote for good measure: If you can’t commit to doing any of the above, you should stay at a hotel.  Because there, people are paid to clean up after you, you don’t have to be grateful for it, and regardless of how you live in the room they provide you, you are always welcome to come back again.

Happy holiday season folks. May all our relationships stay in tact.

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