Today I am grateful for birthday parties. Our Alina turned five and spent a week of cake and celebrations, culminating in a birthday extravaganza, complete with bouncy house right on her lawn and a pinata hanging in a tree.
The neighborhood kids, many of whom she will going to kindergarten with in fall, had a blast. So did she. And I had a blast watching them. Such energy. So much fun. So much sweat. So much pizza. So much cake. So much in the goodie bags. So much exhaustion, that they’ll never admit to.
This is my favorite picture from the entire day, with her mom laughing hysterically, her dad videotaping the pinata smacker, and Alina not at all sure of the entire process. Sitting against dad’s leg is a pose she takes often, when unsure and all done.
You gotta love birthday parties. Especially when most have been vaccinated, the weather cooperates, the cake is fantastic, and the birthday girl is five!
Today I am grateful for Jeopardy. But boy we sucked at it last night. It was bad. Embarrassing. Laughable. Always laughable.
At one point I said, “Why are we even trying to answer these questions? We have no clue about what they mean.”
Still, Himself, the smartest of us and refusing to cave to the challenge thought he knew everything about “Mythological Trios” and answered one after another with made up mythological-type names of creatures who never existed. Except in his brain.
In the category “Acids” Himself, the scientist, morphed so many new scientific formulas that Frankenstein would have died of reflux.
We were both frustrated, but about halfway through Double Jeopardy, in the category of “Musical Godfathers” Himself, who knows absolutely nothing about any of the singers already mentioned, yells out with pride, “20 Cents”!
“Who is 20 Cents?” I ask him. “What do you know about this? You know nothing about these rappers. His name was 50 Cent!”
“I know,” he says. “I never liked the guy so I deducted 30 cents!”
Today I am grateful for a “new” car. I’d like to introduce Un-E-Corn, aptly named. The only thing she doesn’t have that I wanted was a light interior. It’s black.
When I bitched about it to my son, Patrick, who was doing the searching for me, that a light interior was among my dozens of specs for a car I can afford, he said, “Mom, you might have to get over it! You’re looking for a unicorn and this is the close you’re going to get.” And as much as it pains me to say it, he was right. Thus. . . Un-E-Corn.
I despise buying a different car. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because I’ve driven so many pieces-o-shit into the ground. Maybe it’s because I’ve never, ever picked exactly the car I want, not once in my whole life. I always have to “settle”. Maybe it’s got to do with change, maybe I’m just weird. Probably all of the above. I hate spending more money on a used vehicle than I paid for my first house. . .forty-five years ago. It’s sort of enlightening working through my crazy in my stream of consciousness writing. That said, I do hope I outlive the payments for this beast!
I warned Himself that I was feeling enormous stress and angst about the entire process. He was kind and smart enough to not talk me out of my feelings. He just hauled in the four bags of crap I collected from the old car, without comment. That mess is still in the kitchen. Today, or tomorrow I’ll deal with it. Maybe.
Now I have to decide what will stay and what will go. It’s like getting a new purse and having to figure out what goes in which pockets. Except with monthly payments. No, it won’t all go back in. First of all, there isn’t as much room for storage. Yikes. Second, I probably don’t need that slimy hand lotion I slurped out of my car door, or the for sticky spray bottles of OFF, bug repellent. Yuk.
Himself brought the manual in to read, but so far all I care about is that I put the key in and it ran. That’s enough for me. And I didn’t have to jerk off the seat belt when I got out, like I did every single time with the old car because it wouldn’t retract! I had to keep a chip clip on it or the silver clip thingy would slide under the seat and I would have to get OUT of the car to retrieve it. It was a sonofabitch-a-cursing-festival! Every single time!
I confess there was almost an incident at the dealership and I’m ashamed to admit that I did nothing about it at the time. While we were waiting, a couple older than us was buying a car half of the building away, at another station. The old man was ranting about how George Floyd deserved what he got because he was on drugs and “he shoulda just lissened to the dam cops and shut the hell up and dun what he was told.” OUCH!
Way to suck the joy out of my new/used car purchase, asshole. I should have confronted him. I promote not allowing assholes like him to spew their bullshit publicly. But through my shock and haze of anxiety I told myself that no other person was being hurt, so I sat there, letting him rant, my eyes boring holes into his scruffy head. I bet he felt my super powers, even though I was silent.
I wanted to beat the snot out of him, or maybe thrown him to the ground and put my knee on his neck for 9 minutes to see how he would fare, but I didn’t. I just couldn’t go there yesterday, because I had all I could do to keep myself from exploding already. I know I’ll regret it forever and I’ll have to live with that. But sometimes you have to know when you are too stressed out and exhausted to do battle. This time I’ll have to trust in karma.
Following signing the nine hundred pages of paperwork, we ran a few errands, ending up at COSTCO, which nearly killed me. I’m just not used to so many outings in one day, plus the emotion of signing my life away for a new car, and it saps my energy.
I think I’ll be happy with Un-E-Corn, my 2014, Subaru Sienna. If I ever figure out how to handle her. She has more buttons than a 1920’s wedding gown! Himself has been assigned to set the clock. . .hence the manual on the kitchen table. I hope daylight savings time doesn’t end before he figures it out.
I know there are many people out there shaking their heads, angry and wondering why any parent would send a child walking alone, across hundreds of miles to a foreign land. What parent would do that? Don’t they deserve whatever they get for being so callous? How bad must it be where you are to send your child into almost certain terror? I’ll tell you. Very bad. More awful than we, sitting in our comfortable homes can possibly imagine. But try. Please. Lives depend on it.
Most of us have been very fortunate to not be facing these kinds of decisions. We are lucky. As screwed up as our government and laws seem at times and as far as we still need to go to make things even and fair for all people, we are so much better off than those in other nations.
The closest Himself and I came to understanding the enormity of the situation came when we lived in Jakarta, Indonesia and the country was experiencing political unrest. There were tanks in the streets, horrible, violent marches and protests and quite a few kidnappings of American expatriates.
We were relatively safe for a while, but then the embassy issued alerts that we were to be ready to flee and they sent a check list of what we should keep in a grab bag, like the hurricane and earthquake kits recommended in some of our states here. We had to have a lot of cash (a lot!) in smaller bills, for bribes, transportation, etc.; our passports/legal papers; and more cash. That’s it! Everything else that we might have brought with us, or bought while in Jakarta, would have to be left behind. Everything that didn’t fit in a backpack would be lost. But we’d have our lives.
Think about that. Take a look around from the spot where you are at this exact moment. That beautiful picture, vase, chair, fabric, whatever you’re seeing, is not more important than your life. Then picture yourself getting an alert that you are to walk out the door, get to a certain location and be airlifted out of where you live. And you might never be able to go back there. Ever. Are you imagining it? Can you picture where you’d go? How you would start over? Can you imagine how afraid you would be? No? Probably not. I couldn’t either before it happened to us. But if you have any empathy at all, please try.
How horrible would things have to be, how life threatening, for you to even consider the possibility? Now imagine that you know you would not be able to make the trip. . .maybe because of age, your medical condition, or very simply that you could not afford to pay all of the players involved to get you where you needed to go. Your money wouldn’t last for more than one person. Someone had to stay behind. Who would it be?
Maybe you weren’t born into a safe part of the world. Maybe you were born into poverty and violence in a politically unstable country. Maybe you saw your own mother, grandmother, aunts, raped, tortured and killed. Maybe your father was beheaded because he talked back to a drug lord and they are parading his head around on a stick. To warn you. To terrorize you.
Maybe a pervert threatened to do the same to your children, as a way to keep you in line, under their control. If you have money for only one person to possibly reach safety, would you take the gamble? Would you go, leaving your children to face terror alone, or would you send your child, praying they’d make it without you? Remember, none of your choices are good, but you have to make them anyway.
On the news last night and also this morning, I saw a video of a nine-year-old boy whose migrant group left him behind. He was sobbing and terrified. Sobbing. It broke my heart into a million pieces. This was not a child crying because someone took his toy, or he wanted to play video games and was told he couldn’t. This was a little boy, all alone, walking down a dirt street in a foreign country, with no food, water or shelter. This was a small, devastated, terrified human being.
Our current leaders are not sending immigrants back across the border anymore, like the last administration did. That only further terrorized them. But the problem isn’t going away, no matter who is in office, because desperate people make desperate choices. Now we have to find a way to care for them and no matter how inadequate the system might be right now, it’s still better than what they came from.
We are used to cushy beds and comfortable homes, so the thought of sleeping on a matt on the floor is horrible to us. Perhaps to them, it’s not as bad as being shot at, watching their families being executed, or torture and rape. That’s their perspective. That’s their truth.
I know that things at the border are really bad right now. I know that kids have to sleep in shifts and it’s far from ideal. But I swear to you, they would rather be in that situation here, than face going back to the terror from whence they came.
What about you? What would you, as a parent do, if faced with what these people are faced with? Think about that. You can go on and on about how you’d never do this to your kids, but unless you are walking in their broken down, petrified shoes, how can you know what you’d do?
What if the only place you could get to rejected you, refused to take you in, told you that you shouldn’t have left your situation in the first place? Instead of chastising immigrants, legal or not, or complaining about the strain on our system, perhaps the very least we can do is show some empathy.
Today I am grateful for reality checks. My mom is virtually blind, so during a video chat she’s screaming as though we were talking between soup cans, like that will help her vision.
And when I say screaming, you need to know that my mom yells at a decibel that cannot even be recorded. Ask anyone in our family and they’ll roll their eyes and laugh. Her voice could split wood four states away. She’s leaning two inches from the screen and here’s how it went:
Mom: Mary? Is that you?
Me: Yes, of course, it is. How are you?
Mom: What happened to your hair!?
Me: Nothing, it’s on my head? Why?
Mom: (leaning closer, her nose now on the screen) But what color is it?
Me: All gray, mom.
Mom: Oh, for God sake!!!!
Me: Yup, I’m a Q-tip just like you.
Mom: Oh, for God sake!!! I never heard of such a thing! My baby has gray hair!!!
I don’t realize how light my hair has gotten until someone else brings it up. I wonder if she’ll notice when I make it PINK! Wait for it, cuz it’s happening sometime soon, I swear. I’m going all pepto/bubblegum on my head.
But for today, that’s it. That’s all I got. I’ve had enough of a reality check. Especially the kind that only moms can give.
Today I am grateful for a new Netflix, eight-part series, “Worn Stories”. But I think they made a huge mistake when they put it together, so of course, I’m going to tell you why.
What is it about? It’s about the clothing we choose to wear. . .or not wear. . .and why. Costumes are important. We behave differently depending on what we’re wearing. That’s why I’m such a slug these days because I’m trying to transition out of no bra and sweats into real-try-to-be-presentable-clothing.
Back in our Jakarta, Indonesia days I directed a friends Easter play. I had local actors to read the great monologues and everything was going great. I figured I would have the women wear dresses and the men just long-sleeved dress shirts, as was the custom there, because of the heat.
Then one of my actors had to drop out so I begged Himself to read the role of Judas. Oh boy. It was like trying to wallpaper a room together. I tried not to critique him publicly, but boy, when they say you either have it or you don’t I know what they mean. The poor guy was struggling to sound like he was just talking and not reading an engineering report and I was losing my mind, not knowing what to do about it. He felt like he didn’t understand it and I didn’t know how to help him.
Then it dawned on me. He was a business man. Standing in front of a huge room of people without a suit on felt foreign to him. I announced that from now on he was to wear a suit to all rehearsals. BAM! Nailed it! It wasn’t the suit, but how he felt while wearing it. It changed him.
That sort of thing is kind of what “Worn Stories” is about. . . how different clothing defines us. Except when I was flipping through Netflix and stumbled on it, the first episode was all about nudity. And I’m not talking fashion model nudity, I’m talking like ME sitting in the buff, full frontal, having a conversation. I’m talking old guys walking around in only shoes and sometimes a T-shirt but nothing else. Yikes.
I watched that first episode the same way you watch a train wreck. I wanted to stop, but then they would cut away to another topic in a different segment and it was very interesting. Then BAM, Mrs. Me, right back in my face, in all of her scars and saggy parts. Look, I don’t care if someone wants to buff-it-out. It’s just not for me. Clothes help me. I count on them. Besides, you better have a very strong bladder if you’re going to parade around in public without even panties, if you know what I mean!
I almost didn’t want to recommend this series because of that first episode. Then I watched a second, third, four and WOW. It’s really, really a great series. A man getting out of prison after 41 years talks about how he feels so much more like himself after changing out of prison garb and into real clothes. Very touching.
A member of the House of Representatives talks about her signature cowboy hats; Charro tells stories about how her sister makes all of her costumes and her relatives sew on beads; Gays, trans and others say why clothing is so important in defining who they are and what it makes them feel like, versus how they grew up in sexually stereotypical stuff.
So even though you might find that first episode off-putting, like I kinda did, please watch this Netflix series, “Worn Stories”. It really is fascinating. I even got Himself to watch a little of it. And I didn’t even have to make him put on a suit to understand it.
Today I am grateful for cell phones. But I might be taking away the phone of Himself, because for a change, he’s starting to carry it everywhere. Even when he goes upstairs to play a baseball game on the computer, or downstairs when he paints his little creatures.
And he calls me. All the time. For no apparent reason. From upstairs or downstairs. Geeze. Look, I’m glad he takes it with him to the grocery store, or if he runs errands, because he’s showed up with more chocolate cakes than I can count. . .when he couldn’t find celery. “They didn’t have it so I bought cake!”
He has to put me on speaker or he can’t hear me because of the feedback on his hearing aids. That presents entertainment for anyone standing next to him in the produce department, which is his black hole nemisis. You might remember the time he called me from there.
Himself: Hey, it’s me!
Me: Yeah, I know. Your name comes up on my phone.
Himself: It does?
Me: Yes, it does. What’s up?
Himself: I’m standing here in front of the produce and you said you wanted lettuce.
Me: Yes, not head lettuce.
Himself: Well, that’s all I like.
Me: You don’t like it, you tolerate it.
Himself: Yeah, okay, but there are a hundred kinds of lettuce.
Me: Get the one that has three long heads in a baggie.
Me: Get the one that has three long heads in a baggie. It might be called Romain.
Kind Stranger: She says to bring this one, right here, with three long heads in the baggie. ROMAINE!
Himself: Oh, romaine! Thanks. I gotta go babe. Someone is helping me.
And that was only the first call. Usually there are three or four more, from various aisles. And still, he comes home with chocolate cake, so it’s kind of a win-win.
But that’s in the store, so more understandable, except now that he’s carrying that phone around the house, he’s really driving me nuts. He’s watching basketball playoffs and will call me to tell me how some team who was supposed to be the best is now losing. I can’t muster a give-a-shit, no matter how hard I try. I might have to start screening his calls like he’s a telemarketer.
Does anyone out there remember the time the icemaker spat out a load of ice and he said, “Gezundheit” to it three times before I asked, “Who are you talking to?”
“You!” he said. “You sneezed.” I clued him in that it was the ice maker not me.
So today, he’s in the basement painting little creatures and I’m upstairs in the living room, finishing my breakfast. I sneeze. Three times. My cell phone rings and the picture with “Himself” comes up on my screen. I roll my eyeballs, wondering what he could possibly need to talk to me about from his lair and run through my list of things I might need him to bring up as long as he’s calling me AGAIN anyway.
“Gazundheit!” he says. And hangs up!
His laughter travels up the cellar steps like a tsunami wave. He loves it when he’s clever. Me, too. How can I not laugh at this guy? I think he does stuff like this because he knows I’ll write about it. And he’s right, although he might be enjoying his notoriety a bit much.
But like a lot of parents do with their teenagers, I swear Himself needs a time out on that cell phone. I know I do!
Today I am grateful for a puppet show. We had our granddaughter over the other day because there is no daycare this week due to Easter. What a blast. But I think I need physical therapy on my fingers!
Himself and I have a lot of tricks up our sleeves, in our basement, hid upstairs, in chests, cabinets, you name it, we have tricks. We will never run out. We are the epitome of Grandma and Grandpa’s attic, which I loved visiting on the farm when I was a kid. Magical junk! Sometimes literally, but always figuratively.
I had grandpa haul out the finger puppet show I hollered at him for buying at a garage sale 10 years ago. We could play with it at the card table when the puzzle was put away. Here’s how it went:
Her: Okay, you be this panda and I’ll be the princess.
Me: Why can’t I be the princess?
Her: Because you’re the panda.
Me: But what if I don’t want to be the panda?
Her: Okay, then you can be this. . .what is this, Grandma?
Me: I’m not sure. A preacher. A groom. A guy in a black suit.
Her: Okay, you can be the guy in the black suit and I’ll be the princess.
Me: Why don’t I ever get to be the princess?
Her: Because you KNOW I’m the princess!
Me: Well, you have weird hair for a princess. (She laughs)
Her: Well, your hat is weird. (It was)
Me: I know, but at least it doesn’t look like a carpet.
Her: Wait, wait, wait. . .my princess’s hair is in a bun.
Me: Yeah, a hotdog bun! (She’s hysterical)
Her: Okay, you be all of these. (She throws a handful of puppets at me.)
Me: You’re a little bossy.
Her: I’m not bossy. Put them on! Put them on!
Me: Okay, but I’m not liking this pig. His head is too big and he doesn’t stay on.
Her: You have to push him down. (She nearly breaks my finger, jamming it on.)
Me: Ouch. I think that’s finger abuse! Oink! Oink!
Her: Okay, let’s play I’m the puppet person and you push animals through the curtain.
Me: You mean you’re the puppeteer?
Her: Yeah, the puppet person, whatever. C’mon. . .animals!
I shove the zebra, panda and lion through the gap in the curtain. Then, just to see if she’s paying attention, the bride, superman and scuba diver are next. She is incredulous. “Grandma! Just animals!”
In goes the mouse, dog and horse, followed quickly by the baker, fireman and policeman. By now she is hysterical and so am I. Finger puppets are flying everywhere like shrapnel. I’m making up more background stories than Walt Disney, except no one got killed, like poor Bambi’s mother. All had happy, if not bizarre endings.
Everything she tried to do I undid. If she closed the curtain, I opened it. If she stuck the side to the Velcro, I ripped it off. This girl can take some messing with because she lives with her dad! I was like an annoying little sister. We played for hours, but she was laughing, very patient and never had a hissy fit. I used more silly voices than Robin Williams in Vegas and we had more fun than was legal.
My poor arthritic fingers will take a while to recover, especially from that big-headed-pig, but my heart and soul are doing great. BING! Heartprint!
Today I am grateful for being grateful. I simply can’t describe how wonderful it has been to continually make new friends through this silly little blog. I consider people I’ve never clapped eyes on very good friends. And I think a lot of them feel the same way. So many people have sent me kind notes or cool gifts, like this amazing hat for Himself! He feels quite famous.
Most humans really want to connect. But too often they can’t find their words, or stumble when they have opinions. In some way I’ve helped them sort out their own feelings, by putting myself out there, warts and all. At least I hope so.
I’m no saint and it shows in nearly every blog I write. I’m flawed, but being flawed doesn’t mean I don’t have strong feelings, just like being “fluffy” isn’t going to keep me from wearing a swim suit and enjoying the pool. I’m me. I can only do me. You do you. You make the best you. I make the best me.
All of that said, sometimes I wonder if I share too much. Then I go, nah, it’s what I gotta do, so I’ll just keep doing it. Not everyone will like me, or what I say, but I can take it. I can also avoid them, which is a great take-away from therapy. Not everyone has to be my friend, even though I used to feel it was a flaw in my character if they didn’t like me. Now? Meh!
I’m not without my insecurities, though. I know, big shocker, right? But now that things are opening up and we will be moving around in the world a little more, I will probably be meeting some of the people I became close friends with on Facebook. And I have trepidation.
Here are some probabilities for you to be aware of on that situation.
I am fatter than you thought. I don’t mean this as a besmirchment of me, since I love me as is and think I’m pretty awesome. After struggling with my weight for my entire life, I’m all done feeling shame about it. But since a lot of my weight is gravitational making me Weebleish, it doesn’t always look like it in pictures of my mug shot. Please don’t scream, “Wow, you’re a real tank! I had no idea!” when you first meet me or it won’t go down well.
I am louder than you imagine. Unless my voice is still wonky, this is always true. I come from a family of “loud” and I’ve raised kids who are loud. It’s in our genetic makeup. My voice naturally carries. I can whisper and be heard, even if you are two states away. Ask my fourth grade teacher.
I will probably swear more than you thought I would. I’m not proud of that, but not ashamed either. I just love all of those snappy words. I usually can temper it for a little while, if I have to, out of respect for people, but not always. If I get a constipated look on my face it might be because I am sucking words back in, which can be painful. I can edit my foul mouth out in the written word, but sometimes can’t when I’m speaking. See how good I did here! I didn’t say “asshole” once!
I will probably make you laugh because I can’t help but see the “funny” in most situations. And while I love to laugh, I love to see others laughing more.
You will find that I stand by who I appear to be in writing, which means I’m not always the party animal and can often be serious. Yeah, really. I can hear the shaking heads of those who know me best and their scoffs of, yeah, right! But really!
My opinion on racism, assault weapons, immigration, gay marriage and a host of other topics won’t change because we are looking eye-to-eye.
If I meet you when I am with Himself, you will automatically know him, too, because he is just as I present him in my writing. And more. He will tell stories until I roll my eyeballs and give him the high-sign to shut the hell up and let someone else speak! Then he’ll bitch about how when he finally gets a chance to talk, he hangs onto it because around me, those moments are few and far between. Exactly like that. Wait for it. If you are very smart you will ask him to tell you a joke. His memory is unbelievable for jokes and he tells them like a stand-up comedian.
While I joke about having a vodka, or beer, or wine, or Bloody Mary, or Margarita, I really don’t drink very much alcohol. Mostly water and the occasional diet root beer. I love icy cold vodka so much that I could drink it like Lemonade, which means, party over and I’m sound asleep. A cold beer is great on a warm day, but after two I’m so bloated and need to pee every ten seconds that it’s hardly worth more. Wine is still okay sometimes, except I often get reflux from the red, which I love and any wine makes me hot. You already knew I was nuts, so that should be no surprise. The reflux thing is the same with Bloody Mary’s and Margaritas. I’m not saying I never have them. Hah! It would be nice if I was that smart. But no.
I am so grateful to be grateful to have so many good friends whom I’ve never actually seen in person. I hope I meet a lot of you soon. You’ll recognize me because I’ll be the one standing next to this guy in the “tiz Himself” hat!
Today I am grateful for LEGO. Notice I didn’t say LEGO’s? Yeah, that’s because I’ve been enlightened by a TV special I saw awhile back and the producers of LEGO pointedly stated that they already singular and plural in this form. See, now you’ve been enlightened, too. You don’t play with LEGO’s, you play with LEGO.
I don’t care what the damned things are called, I just know they are a boat load of fun. They’re colorful, flexible and easy to use. You can build literally anything you want with them, witness the LEGOLANDS that pop up all over the world.
Someone was a genius with these little, plastic, connecting blocks. A true genius. When our youngest grandson was in his full-on LEGO phase, he had piles and piles of creations he made. If you touched one and it fell apart, he’d pitch a fit. . .then fix it. He knew where every single block and color was supposed to be.
Our second youngest granddaughter (can’t call her the youngest anymore) is just getting into LEGO. She and her dad visited for a little while this morning and she brought not only her creations, but also the box of LEGO, so we could play with them. What fun! One of the best things about having grandchildren is that you can re-visit the toys of your past with them.
I forgot to take a picture of the creations she brought to show me, but I did snap one of the one we made together. How fun to hear her artistic side, when she said, “we’re making a pattern” as I chose alternating colors for our tower.
The kits that this company now produces are spectacular. . .and expensive. But I would guess that if you didn’t know what to get dad or grandpa for Father’s Day, you couldn’t go wrong with LEGO. Everyone loves them! Especially us.