Always look on the bright side of life…

I wish I could say that was my motto, but that would be exaggerating.

I will say, though, that I was able to look on the bright side of a really nasty winter day today. Winds of 30 mph, alternately sunny and cloudy – with sideways-blowing snow every. damn. time. I had to be out today. Which was a lot.

On the bright side, today I managed to have coffee meetings close to home at both the beginning and ending of my day. That means moving my commute OUT of rush hour. Made a new friend at the morning coffee and enjoyed deep conversation at the afternoon one. Got home early enough that I had enough energy to make a pot of chili – perfect for this crap weather day.

All that wind and snow combined with an unusual work day made me feel a little edgy. So I’m sharing one of my fave graphics. Enjoy.

d and j

 

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I’m rocking that “Galentines” thing.

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I’ve never been particularly interested in Valentine’s Day – it really just feels like a non-event. Especially since I haven’t been responsible for three classroom sets of miniature cards with enclosed treats for quite a few years. My room mother days are long behind me, too – meaning no need to come up with clever heart-themed games and treats.

But I have to take some credit this year – especially as a rabid introvert with a solid case of Seasonal Affective Disorder – for being all over this “Galentines” thing I keep hearing about.

It wasn’t an intentional effort, actually. It just happened to hit me today that I was really out of touch with a couple of people I adore. So on the spur of the moment, I set up two – count ’em, two! – girl dates. One for tonight and one for next week, but I think they both count. I was even smart enough, knowing my severe shortcomings as an introvert who enjoys making plans but hates it when it’s actually time to follow through on them, to plan these outings immediately after work. If I allow myself any time to go home, I know perfectly well I’ll never drag myself back out again.

Happy Galentines Day!

 

 

Man-cold, part 2.

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The Husband didn’t actually have to go to the emergency room. He did survive his man-cold (which he swore was the flu, but I seriously doubt it), and is back to work today. And he survived my wrath, mainly because he didn’t actually wake up and interact with me until he was back to behaving like a fairly normal human being.

In fact, yesterday he was up and about and running errands, because he was still to sick to go to work. I guess that was part of his recovery?

In fact, he was so back to normal last night he was up for a little joking, once I got home and went straight to bed, wiped out from a FULL DAY OF WORK WHILE HAVING A COLD.

Him: “There’s something I think you need to know.”

Me: (with little interest) “Yes?”

Him: “Yesterday while I was lying there, unable to move, I actually thought about clearing all my piles of junk out of the laundry room.”

I have to give the guy a little credit for knowing just how much a pain in the ass he is.

 

When the game isn’t fun.

tetris

Circumstances have recently turned us into a five-car family. I just bought a new car. We hung onto my old car to give to our son and his fiancee – she’s moving in with us beginning this weekend until she gets a job and they find an apartment. Son has his own car. Middle daughter lives at home, so we’ve got her car. And then there’s my husband’s company van.

With an old house and a one-car garage (but, thankfully, with a double driveway),  twice a day now we engage in a really pain-in-the-ass game of Driveway Tetris.

It’s totally a first-world privilege problem, I know. And some part of me actually appreciates this daily annoyance, in that I’m hanging onto these last days of our son living at home. Soon life will change, permanently. That’s going to be difficult…painful, even.

But still, morning and evening every weekday, and sometimes more on the weekends, we have the mad driveway scramble. Who’s leaving first? Can daughter’s tiny car get out around the work van in front of it? I have to run a quick errand – should I take son’s car, or do we all go out and play Tetris?

And then I started adding another color of falling block to the game. My good friend and colleague, Kelly, lives just a few blocks away, and sometimes it makes sense – and it’s always pleasant – for us to do the long-ish commute downtown together.

Here’s what Driveway Tetris looked like this morning:

I knew Husband would be leaving early, and son always leaves for work super early. I planned to drive Kelly and myself to work today. No problem for me to pull my car out of the garage and for Kelly to slip into the driveway.

Except – ALERT! ALERT! – Husband woke up sick. Went right back to bed, practically delirious (his personal version of the “man cold” is a story for another day). No way he could move his van out of my way. What to do, what to do…

Son to the rescue! He wanted to drive my old car to work today, for reasons of his own. He was going to have to do a preliminary Tetris session before the sun even came up, to get my old car out. He’d leave all the colored blocks in a convenient order for when Kelly arrived.

Time for Kelly to show up. Daughter resorted to parking her tiny car in the YARD so Kelly could pull into the driveway without trapping the tiny car.

This particular game wasn’t significantly more difficult than it is every. Single. Day. Twice a day or more.

Once our boy and his fiancee do move out, I’ll probably look back on these days fondly. Really, I will. Every moment with him around is a treasure.

So I’m taking the good with the bad. And Driveway Tetris is really bad.

Do I look like a moron?

pexels-photo-356079.jpegDon’t answer that question.

But it’s what I asked my husband the other night at the dinner table.

We’re back to having family meals, now that our two youngest are both living at home again. I love that time to share the funny and interesting points of our days and make sure we’re all on the same page with the big and small details of a shared household.

One night this week there were a couple of minor points I needed to share, and the responses to both could have easily landed me in jail for spousal abuse. As in throttling my husband until his teeth rattled.

Exhibit A:

Me: “I’m about out of gas. We should fill up this time at Hy-Vee (our grocery store, with a gas station attached) because we have a lot of gas discount points saved up.”

Husband: “Well, you don’t want to use those points unless you’re completely out of gas. You want to get the most out of that discount.”

My reaction: Number one, DUH. I know how a discount works. Number two, he says this exact same thing every damn time I mention getting gas at Hy-Vee to use up discount points. GRRRRRRR.

Exhibit B:

Me, to daughter who shares the cooking duties with me: “We’re out of parchment paper, which is why the brussels sprouts are stuck to the bottom of the baking dish. I’ll put it on the grocery list.”

Husband: “Whoa! What list are you putting it on? You’re not going to just get that at the grocery store, are you? We can save a lot of money if we plan ahead and get it from WalMart.”

O.M.F.G. Number one, this was not a conversation he needed to be a part of. Believe me, this man has never used parchment paper in his life. Number two, we might save a few cents with that scheme, but it’s not worth the headache. We rarely go to WalMart, but we’re at the grocery store at least twice a week. Number three, this “we should buy absolutely everything at the cheapest possible outlet and in bulk, if possible” mindset is a recurring theme. Not that I’m opposed to saving money, but it’s a false economy when we have to coordinate several different lists, find time to run around town picking things up at the least expensive seller, and do without a staple while trying to find that time to do that running around.

In other words, S.T.F.U.!

Maybe we’ve been married so long I’ve run out of patience with hearing the same old tune, like a killer earworm.

Maybe it’s the intense irritation stirred up by menopausal changes – look it up, it’s a thing.

Maybe he came just a little too close to mansplaining (which was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary, thank you very much). I put up with that crap from our “head honcho” at work all the time, so I’m quick to call it out at home.

Actually, such obnoxious comments are probably more to do with my husband than with me. He’s cranky due to some situations at work. When he’s cranky he gets critical and pissy. And then his OCD tendencies (not a rude euphemism here; it’s a true diagnosis) tend to get the better of him.

Whatever it is, there better not be any more of it tonight. Because dammit, I’m not a moron!

 

 

 

The question of “deserving.”

Something pretty monumental happened over the weekend: I got a “new” car.

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I know purchasing a 3-year-old SUV is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But it’s a huge deal in our family. For me, it’s largely a huge deal because now I’m living with GUILT.

Guilt because we doubled our car payment. Guilt because it’s a very luxurious model, with very few miles on it. Guilt because the SUV I was driving was perfectly reliable and met my basic needs. Guilt because we bought the new one from a reputable, big-name seller.

Really, what all that guilt boils down to is the question of “deserving.” It’s not a word I like; not a word I would ever assign to others. In general I think it’s rare that anyone actually gets what they “deserve.” I look at the people we serve here at the urban Community Assistance Center where I work – these folks deserve a good education, safety, health care, adequate food, dignity. But in our society they don’t get much, if any,  of that.

On the other hand, look at what our White House administration and congressional leaders have. Power, wealth, fame, comfort. I can’t honestly say a damn one of those people deserve it.

And then, too, what is wrong with us (largely us in the U.S., I suspect) that so much of our identity and self-esteem is tied up in what kind of vehicle we drive? It’s pretty disgusting, really.

I’ve only ever owned one new-ish car in my life, 30 years ago, post-wedding and pre-kids. Every other car I’ve ever had charge of was a risk to drive every day. I never knew when I might end up at the side of the road needing a tow. Until my last SUV, that is, which was ten years old but ran perfectly. In other words, this is the first time I’ve ever replaced a car that wasn’t a danger to myself and others. The first time I’ve ever bought a car simply because I wanted something nicer. Bottom line, I recognize my own privilege, which I’ve done nothing to deserve.

GUILT.

But…oh, that smooth ride. No symphony of rattles from every interior piece of plastic. The seat warmers. The remote start and power lift gate, the rear view camera and voice- activated bluetooth. Pure hedonism.

So…can I let go of the guilt and just enjoy my new ride? Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

Adventures in housecleaning.

Shopping basket with detergent bottles isolated on white

Confession: my own cleaning supplies are not this attractive and neatly arranged.

I am, by default, the main cleaner in our household.

The Husband doesn’t notice dirt OR clutter. When The Boy is home, he has the same blind eye (though, oddly, I’ve noticed he keeps his dorm bedroom and bathroom spotless. Hmmmm…) Middle regularly assists with everyday kitchen cleanup, but she’s so preoccupied by her first year of teaching that a clean, tidy environment isn’t at the top of her list.

I, on the other hand, am pathologically averse to clutter and go around tidying and putting things away every moment I’m home. Historically the actual cleaning bit has never been as important to me – until November 9, when our nation became so filthy and disgusting that I became compulsive about keeping my own, safe nest immaculate. Not joking.

So…today as I worked through my Saturday task list, I came across a couple of fascinating (?) details:

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It’s a complete mystery to me how “low” can be a lower setting than “bare,” which means, presumably, “bare floor.” Is this a setting for vacuuming in a trench? Who’s doing that?

No photo for this one, and you’ll thank me:

I’d like to hand it to whatever male in our household is capable of creating pee stains clear away from the toilet, next to the baseboard. And by “it” I mean a package of antibacterial surface wipes.

Thank goodness I’m done with my compulsive cleaning for the day.

Yes, we marched. And we’re proud of it.

I was one of millions of women around the world who rallied and marched on Saturday, January 21. Three generations of our family were represented, and our little group was joined by a long-time friend who ROARED right along with us.


Our experience, marching at our state capitol building (a notorious site, long controlled by white, privileged, male tea party-ers), was unequivocally positive and affirming.

Speakers representing many oppressed groups spoke repeatedly of the importance of all of us uniting in support of each other. The transgender speaker stood up for the disabled. The disabled speaker cheered on our Black friends. The Unitarian Universalist clergy woman included the Christians, Muslims, Athiests, Agnostics, Jews, Native Americans, and Pagans in her call for advocacy. The Native American speaker honored our collective commitment to Mother Earth.

And the many men in the crowd, representing all ages and generations, shouted right along with us.

Our son came up for this march with a couple of his friends from the Young Democrats Club at their university.

It was a day of beauty, love, support, and unity. A day to energize ourselves into resistance and action against the discrimination and oppression that is already, six days into the new administration, showing up loud and clear.

And almost immediately we began hearing the backlash. 

Women who mocked the marchers because they, themselves, had never been discriminated against (lucky them) and didn’t need anyone’s “pity” or any “special treatment.”

Men who characterized the marchers as shrill whiners.

People who dismissed the march as simply being political and anti-Trump.

I’m here to tell you, as someone who was actually there and whose life was changed by the event, that the critics have it 100% wrong.

Keep marching, my sisters. Keep shouting. Keep acting out for the sake of others. Keep resisting.

This world needs you.

Middle proudly carried this sign she’d made in support of her best friend.

Mourning.

Image credit: National Public Radio. Credit for defacing it so that the incoming evil monster resembles a pile of poo: All me.


It’s the day we’ve been praying would never come. 

When I saw the above photo in a report about the pre-inauguration concert (before I improved it through the magic of photo apps), I was physically sickened – just as I am every time I’ve heard a news report referring to “President-Elect XXX.” 

I’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial a couple of times. My memories of being there with the people in my life who are most important to me are indescribably precious. We stood in awe, reading the earth-shaking words carved on either side. We soaked in the imposing beauty in the depiction of our greatest president. We went down a few steps and wept as we approached the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his momentous speech. These were moments of reverence, of wiping away tears of thanksgiving for people like Lincoln and Dr. King in our nation’s history.

The sight of this almost-a-president who will NEVER be a true president, mugging for the camera, is a profanity. It’s as ugly as if thugs had defaced the monument with spray painted four-letter words.

It’s nothing to do with politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about this person’s inability to take any interest whatsoever in anything outside himself. It’s about someone who is, quite objectively, evil. Someone who will destroy the office of the POTUS. No matter what he might do – or not do – in office, he is our national disgrace. Our collective embarrassment. 

He is where he is because our citizens are, as it turns out, one of two things: ignorant (willfully or through poor education) or Machiavellian. There’s no hiding that almost half the voting population of the U.S. asked for this travesty.

And we are left in mourning, with tears of horror.

Shame on you!

Now this? This is something to be proud of. Photo taken in 1917.

As if we didn’t have enough evidence that the world has gone completely mad, the big news is that…

The national organization of Girl Scouts of America is sponsoring the participation of Scouts in the inaugural parade on Friday.

Let that sink in for just a moment.

The organization that has long promised that its goal is to “Help Girls Grow Strong” is encouraging girls to participate in an event for a person who has repeatedly, over time, denigrated women. A person who has been captured ON VIDEO bragging about committing sexual assault. A person who is known to deliberately walk in on half-dressed teens in dressing rooms for his beauty pageants (vile concept, in itself).

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a long and extremely negative history with GSA. I’ve had very little respect for the organization for the last 20 years. But one thing I did always believe is that they believe in helping girls to become strong and assertive.

No more. I won’t even give them that much.

The official story of the GSA is as follows:


I call bullshit.

“Peaceful transition of power” is a phrase that’s getting bandied about quite a bit lately. And it’s absolutely a vital concept for democracy. But here’s what peaceful transition looks like: A sitting president cooperating fully with his successor, even when they have absolutely nothing in common. A political rival gracefully conceding defeat. Congress members who don’t create a pact on day one NEVER to cooperate with the incoming president. Peaceful protests, rather than riots.

You know what is NOT a part of peaceful transition? A celebratory parade. Especially a parade celebrating a person who is, objectively, completely devoid of morals.

And there are many ways young women can practice civic engagement and serving their country, without showing public support for someone who would gladly grab their pu%*ies.

Shame on you, Girl Scouts.