September 2012 archive

An Open Letter

This cartoon is somewhat unrelated but made me laugh.

To The Woman Throwing a Fit about her Boarding Zone in Line Ahead of Me in the Charlotte Airport,

Flying has been around for a number of years now, as has boarding said airplanes. While it may seem arbitrary to you, it is likely that someone prior to you considered the boarding process and how it could best be carried out. You may find your unsolicited insight valuable to the woman behind the gate counter, but I’m guessing it’s not. So, if I may, I’ll better inform you of the boarding process. They no longer board planes according to row number. It’s zone number. The woman behind the counter did not choose your boarding zone number. She can’t change your boarding zone number.

Your cell phone fanny pack is truly something to behold. And your four, bright pink carry-on bags (assuredly weaseled all the way to the gate after a breakdown similar to the one I’m witnessing you have now) that have taken residence in the middle of the boarding area do make a lovely little centerpiece. I realize it is probably unconscionable to you that there might not be enough overhead space for you to properly tuck all this baggage softly into the bin above your weary, little head because you are in boarding zone 5, but again, the woman taking your ticket does not have control of the overhead space available in the cabin. She did not design the plane, either. She also did not call the other passengers and ask them to bring as many carry-on bags as possible so as to lessen your chances of comfortably keeping every belonging you own close by and safe for this nearly two-hour flight.

Now, I know the tone in which you are using to speak to people who can’t help you at this point has encouraged them not to help you. But, if I may follow your lead and provide some unsolicited advice, why don’t you try to find the good in this situation? Like, for example, you are about to get onto an aircraft and fly somewhere. FLY there. In fact, all you have to do when you get on board is sit down and maybe read or take a nap and someone else is actually going to fly you to your final destination. You don’t have to know how to do anything. You’ll get there faster than any other method of transportation, and you have the money and physical ability to do it. AMAZING! Someone will bring you cold (or hot) beverages and maybe even a snack. When you land, the other people on the plane will carefully and kindly file out in an orderly line. Men who pass by you will offer to help you get your bags from the overhead compartment. The staff will even wave goodbye to you as you leave. If you’re SUPER nice, the pilot will even let you peer inside the cockpit!

So in conclusion, Woman Throwing a Fit about her Boarding Zone, you’ve certainly made my day because I write a blog… but I doubt the others around you are so lucky. Best of luck to you and your blunt bangs from 1984.

Sincerely,
Woman Who Just Brought a Purse and Water Bottle on the Plane

P.S. Special thanks to Louis CK for reminding me how awesome flying is.
P.S.S. Have a beautiful weekend. 🙂

Have You No Shame?

I was chatting with my best friend today. She had a rough night recently. She came home to a friend who was waiting with a box of Cheez-Its. Together, they ate the entire thing.
Mortified, she looked at her friend and asked, “Oh my God, what do we do now?!”
Her friend looked back at her and said, “You forgive yourself and start over tomorrow.”

How often do I latch onto a shameful act and hold it with me like a warm blanket for days? I can’t believe I did that. I’m such an idiot. And if it’s something that leaves a permanent reminder, like dinging the car door or spilling a drink on my laptop, I get to keep the blanket a lot longer. Let’s not even begin identifying all the things I could mess up while trying to properly and lovingly parent my child. Blankets, blankets everywhere.

I’m going to try forgiving myself and starting over tomorrow from here on out. I’ll let the whole rest of the day go to hell as a consolation prize, but in the morning I have to let things go and start over. Sometimes that may mean righting a wrong, acknowledging a mistake, or even standing up for myself. And sometimes, as in the case of the Cheez-Its, I just have to move on. If I feel like it, I’ll do some extra cardio or an ab workout, but I don’t have to. I can just brush it off my shoulder and go. I’m guessing the result of the shameful act will be the same whether I hold onto the shame or not.

Is there anything you could release that isn’t serving you?

Car Talk

“Abe, what did you do in school today?”

“Truck!”

“Oh, did you see a truck at school?”

“Truck.”

“Yes. There’s a truck next to us.”

“Big truck.”

“It is a big truck, buddy. It’s also red.”

“Red.”

“Did you celebrate Yom Kippur today?”

“Bus!”

“I see that. A yellow bus.”

“Yellow bus, mommy.”

“Did you celebrate Yom Kippur?”

“Snack!”

“Ok, sure. Mommy packed this snack, here you go.”

“Snack.”

“I love you, buddy.”

“Love you. Water?”

“Yes. I brought water. Here you go.”

“Truck.”

Dear TV

Dear TV,

I don’t know how you work, exactly. I don’t really care. It’s 2012 and I feel like I know more than everyone who does know how you work about what people like me want. So I’m going to share with you what the general population feels:

I want to be able to watch TV shows. I want to be able to watch them when I want without special pieces of equipment or expensive subscriptions.
When I get the bill in my email (because I don’t need you to mail it to my house), I don’t want to be surprised or disappointed. I definitely don’t want to call you. In fact, I don’t ever want to talk to you.
I don’t want to pay for shows I would never watch. I care not for Honey Boo Boo or people whose lives are controlled by the moldy newspaper from 1983 they keep in their shower because they never know when they might, “need it.” I am not interested in TV shows about housewives, basketball wives, or mob wives. No wives, really. And I never, EVER, want to watch any kind of game show. (Unless it’s Wheel of Fortune, because I’m incredibly good at that game and it raises my self-esteem.)
I’m not interested in having two television shows at once on one TV screen or starting a show in the living room and finishing it in the bedroom. I don’t care about how many boxes come with my “plan” and I just want a remote control with an up and a down.
I don’t want another antennae, a digital converter, satellite dish, or an excavator. (I realize that you, TV, have no control over that last one but I couldn’t think of what you call the box thing that attaches to the side of my house that hisses at me when I consider opening it to see your soul.)

Here’s what I do want:
I just want to watch TV.
I want the ability to pay for only the shows I want to watch whenever I feel like watching them. With the TOUCH of a BUTTON. I want it to be so easy that my MOTHER can do it. I know you have the ability to make this happen and still make a crap-ton of money. We can send things to Mars and dive so far down into the ocean that the fish look like night lights. You can figure this out.

Is this a petty problem? Hell to the yes it is. And I don’t care how Snobby First World Housewife I sound (which, btw, someone should produce that show, Snobby First World Housewives). But someone figured out how to get me any song I want to listen to anytime I want to hear it. Please do it with TV so those of us who are visual can experience the same joy as our tune-loving friends.

Sincerely,
Jumping the Shark,
Florida

80/20

I’m a recovering perfectionist. If I can’t do something 100% right the first time, I don’t want do it. It’s why I never tried becoming a photographer or why pursuing a career in writing makes me squeeze my butt cheeks together and scrinch my nose. Motherhood tested me to the limits and I finally broke. At a certain point, I had to give in to imperfection. It was pretty freeing.

I now try to live by an 80/20 rule. If I can do things well 80% of the time, then 20% of the time I give myself a break. If I’ve done laundry and cleaned all the dishes, I’ll leave the sweeping for later. Sometimes my husband will sweep before I get the chance. This makes me feel incredibly guilty that I wasn’t perfect so I usually yell at him and swat the broom from his hand, snapping, “Oh, give it to me. I’ll just do it.” It’s only now that I try to remember it makes him feel good to help me, so I grit my teeth and repeat how grateful I am while digging my nails into my palms.
I do the same with diet. I eat cleanly most days, but sometimes there’s this big plate of spaghetti that wanders into my kitchen and just hangs out until I eat it. What am I supposed to do?
Or buying environmentally conscious household products. We use fair trade shea butter body soap and all natural dish detergent. But you know what? Sometimes I want to feel the film of antibacterial Dial soap on my back when I get out of the shower, just to ensure I’m really clean.

Steering clear of my perfectionism is a daily practice. PRACTICE. It’s not something that comes naturally. I consciously have to check to ensure I’m making choices that  don’t lead to me being locked in a room for 24 hours cleaning the baseboard with q-tips and peroxide because I saw it on Pinterest. Where can you apply 80/20?

 

 

If Only I’d Listen

My son loves popsicles. He requests at least one per day. I don’t mind because I make them so I know what goes into them. However, they are messy and sticky and so we have to eat them outside. This means mommy doesn’t always have time/space/energy to sit with the heat and humidity. And then Abe loses his mind and screams for DCFS.

Yesterday Abe asked for a popsicle. I obliged. We sat outside while he high-stepped around the porch eating his treat in utter delight. As soon as he finished, he marched inside and back to the freezer. The child has super human strength because he pulled it open, something I can only do on the days I really put my back into it.
“Opspickle,” he shouted.
“Abe, you just had a popsicle. You don’t need to eat another one.”
“OPSPICKLE?” This was more of a desperate pleading.
“Abraham…” He began climbing up the vertical freezer shelves towards the popsicles. “Abe, you already had a popsicle. If I get you another one you won’t want to eat it. You never do.” He clawed at the freezer shelves.
Then he insisted, “UP! SNACK!” I picked him up and showed him that he’d already had a popsicle and there were no other snacks available at this time in the frozen foods section. He looked down with defeat. I set him back on the ground and closed the freezer.
This is when Abe threw himself into the freezer door as if he’d been running and didn’t realize it was directly in front of him. He bounced off and hit the floor, to his surprise, and sort of spun in a circle on his face.
At this point I’d like to tell you I sat down next to him and acknowledged his frustration and gave him a firm but loving pat on the back so he knew I was there during this very emotional moment, caught between, “I want something I can’t have!” and, “What do I want?!”
But I just did the dishes.
Once he gained his composure, he opened the freezer door again, insistant that there was a snack inside he MUST have.
“There aren’t any snacks in there for you, baby. Do you want an apple?”
“No,” he snapped. He grabbed, knowingly, assuredly, at the bags in the freezer. “No. This!”
Abraham had pulled out a bag of frozen peas.
“Those are frozen peas, Abe. Peas.”
“Please!” he shouted.
“No, I’m not telling you to say please. I’m telling you these are PEAS.”
“PLEASE! PLEASE!”
“Okay. Fine. You know what? You want to eat these frozen peas? I will give you frozen peas. You just eat frozen peas and see how you like it.”
I poured some frozen peas into a small bowl and handed it to him. He shrieked with joy and carefully walked his bowl over to his table.

He then proceeded to eat four bowls of frozen peas.

FOUR.

Continuously returning for more peas, he likely ate an entire cup and a half of frozen peas. He repeated, “Mmmm!” while eating them, like he was just shoving in my face that he wanted those frozen peas all along if I would ONLY LISTEN TO HIM.

Have a beautiful weekend.

He’s Two

Husband: Erin?

Me: Yes?

Husband: Abe is throwing himself on the floor and screaming into the carpet.

Me: I hear that.

Husband: Is it possible he’s tired?

Me: Yes.

Husband: Is it possible he has an emotional disorder?

Me: Yep.

Husband: Ok. Thanks.

Act Natural

Do you know why everyone likes dooce so much? Because she just writes about everyday things that everyone can relate to. She doesn’t spend time analyzing her words to ensure she is providing the highest level of literary experience for her audience. She’s relating to them. She’s herself, and that’s accessible to all of us. The other day she dedicated an entire blog to her fight with a squirrel over her bowl full of baby carrots on the front porch. And you know what? It was funny.

It’s the same reason I like Ben Folds so much. Have you listened to any of his songs? Yes, the actual music is totally brilliant and genius, but his lyrics cover sometimes excruciatingly normal stuff. He read about that female astronaut that drove 500 miles in a diaper to try and murder her boyfriend and then he wrote the story into a song! (Cologne) He wrote an entire song about  a guy who kept threatening to move and having “going away parties” and they lasted for weeks. (Steven’s Last Night in Town) He even wrote a song about a town he was passing through while on tour in Illinois wondering what it might be like to live there. (Effington) Or the one about when he fell off the stage in the middle of a concert. (Hiroshima)

These people who are so popular are just being themselves.

This morning, the housekeeper came to clean while I was still at home. She comes once every two weeks (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I work to pay for Abe’s school and a housekeeper). I usually get everything picked up so she can really clean. This morning I started picking up dirty clothes thinking, I can’t let her see that we leave underwear on the floor like this. Then I thought about dooce. And Ben. At what point do we just accept who we are and live with it? (And, in some cases, profit from it?) Underwear on the floor is not worth a trip to the shrink’s office to analyze why I can pick up shirts and shorts and pants, but not underwear. I have to wait until there’s a pile so it’s satisfying. It seems to me that simply being yourself is way more accessible for everyone in your life. It might even make the cleaning lady feel better to know that I leave my underwear on the floor, because she never picks up her socks.

It’s easy to be authentic with your best friend or your partner. They already know you. But do it with people you don’t know. Air your dirty laundry, if you wouldn’t mind the pun. Tell on yourself. And don’t come to this blog if you’re interested in learning how the light reflected off of my mason jar water glass while the pull of the day weighed on my eyelids as I struggled to finish my work last night. Come here to hear about the poop I got on my finger yesterday or the fight I had with the blender when it couldn’t do it’s ONLY JOB and crush the ice in my smoothie. It’s way more entertaining, anyway.

Carnival Cruise Moments

Louie CK (a comedian) does this great bit about how the walk from the back door of your car to the driver’s door after you put your kids in is like a Carnival cruise for parents. Just those few moments of silence and aloneness can often be the softest solace moms and dads get all day long. 

Here’s a bit he did about his daughter “telling secrets” if you want to get to know him. Warning, profanity and otherwise inappropriate behavior:

I started thinking about my other Carnival cruise moments throughout the day so that I could look forward to them and relish them when they arrive.

  • The first 5 minutes of shower time or bath time. He is so engaged and happy about the water and the activities that he completely forgets to scream his face off.
  • Anytime he eats a popsicle. I make my own so they’re nice and crunchy and they take him a while to eat. Granted we have to sit outside because they’re so messy, but still. Quiet.
  • The first 5 minutes of any show. Thomas the Train, Super Why, Elmo…he is TOTALLY in to it for the first 5 minutes and I can walk away and think about all those times I hated his infancy.
  • In the car, with a snack, and a water, and an iPad. He can be quiet for up to 20 minutes. I can listen to NPR or Justin Bieber or whatever my heart desires.
  • When I read him books. Of course, this means I can’t be unloading the dishwasher or folding the underwear (I don’t fold the underwear) but it is quiet and peaceful.
  • If he remembers about an old toy he hasn’t played with in a while, he’ll play with it for a half an hour. Carnival. Cruise.

If anyone has any Carnival cruise tricks, let me know. I’m looking to beef up my list. Also, if you have spare tickets for a Carnival cruise and a free babysitter, let me know that, too.

A Quick Rant

I saw this quote today:

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
Bill Cosby

There are a lot of personality types that I can deal with. In fact, I think I’ve got a knack for handling people that the general population wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. But you know who gets under my skin? People-pleasers.

They come in all shapes and sizes and the symptoms of their disease vary:

1. They can’t ever make a decision.
“Want chinese or pizza?”
“Oh. I don’t know. What do you want? Do you like one more than the other? It doesn’t make a different to me.”
Just fracking tell me what you want!

2. When they do make decisions, they make it clear it’s for your benefit.
“Ok. Well, how about chinese then?”
“Oh. Sure. Ok. I had chinese for lunch but that’s okay. I like chinese pretty well, anyway.”
Well, great, now I feel all icky about having made the decision you wouldn’t make and now you don’t like the decision but you’re still going along with it…

3. They agree with everything you say.
“I wish we would have gotten pizza, instead.”
“I know. Pizza would have been great.”
Then why didn’t you just say PIZZA when I ASKED?

4. They go out of their way to keep things from being “even”.
“Can I have a bite of your cashew chicken?”
“Yes! Oh, definitely, have as much as you want!”
“Here, take some of my moo goo gai pan.”
“Oh no, I don’t want to eat all of your lunch.”
Awesome. I look like a selfish creep because I’m eating your lunch but you won’t eat mine.

5. And they despise confrontation, so they lie.
“Did you eat my last spring roll or did I?”
“No! I didn’t!”
“Oh, I was going to tell you to eat it because I don’t want it.”
“Oh. Yeah.”
I didn’t care either way but now we both have to be uncomfortable because we both know you lied. 

The reason I care so little for this personality is because I think it’s actually incredibly manipulative. By being dishonest about what you want, you are robbing other people of the opportunity to get to know you and please you! Do you know these people? ARE YOU one of these people? Well, stop it. Be honest about what you want and the people who don’t like you because of who you ARE aren’t people you want in your life anyway. And if you don’t have enough self-esteem to be proud of who you are, go take a karate class or something. Or a pottery class. Or a dance class. Unless you can’t decide…
I’m probably just ranting because I’m a recovering people pleaser. Is that okay?

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