Gas up

Growing up in Jersey was wonderful, except for one small thing – you can’t pump your own damned gas. Full serve only. Why?

As long as you stay in state, you’re fine. Leave town and you’d better know what you’re doing. The first time I had to pump my own gas, I was in the middle of Pennsylvania with an empty tank and no clue how to fill it. I had to ask the guy behind me in line what I was supposed to do. Talk about embarrassing. 

Now I’m getting to teach my kids how to pump their own gas. You wouldn’t think that’s terribly complicated, but it is. Some machines need you to do this and that, and others want you to do some other thing. No consistency.

Beware, my child, the station by your grandparents’ house that spits the receipt out at you at such a high velocity that you’ll have to chase it down. Not the sort of advice you picture giving your child, but there we are.

If the pump tells you to pay inside, go on in and make pleasant small talk with the employees. They’ll probably be thrilled that you’re not bitching at them like some other customers unfortunately will.

Wash your windows and then be sure to wash your headlights and tail lights too, especially after winter storms. Never mind that whatever the road treatment crews put down did nothing to make your drive shorter or easier. It will stick to your car like glue. You need to see and be seen. Keep ’em clean.

Make sure your oil is changed on schedule. Having your engine die is no fun. Ask me. While you’re at it, let me tell you about the time I didn’t make sure my washer fluid was full before taking a post storm trip home during college. Trying to find the exit for Bruceton Mills with my head sticking out the window because my windshield was crusted with filth was not fun. You’ll have plenty of adventures in your lifetime. Skip that one, ok?

It’s the lot of little things that make up a lifetime. Teaching the kids those little lessons helps me notice just how much detail life holds on a daily basis. Things aren’t as boring as they seem. Seeing it through their eyes helps me appreciate the parts as well as the whole. 

I just wish I could say the same thing about teaching them how to park.

Get out and vote!

As crappy as this election is, one positive thing has come of it. I’ve seen more “get out the vote” efforts than in any other election. The eldest did her part today, canvassing local neighborhoods. It’s great to see a new generation embrace their place in the world.

Of all the ones I’ve seen, the Hamilton Cast’s voter videos are my favorite. “…and Peggy!” never gets old. 

Get out the Vote, Hamilton-style

Cubs win! CUBS WIN!!

Growing up, I wasn’t much of a baseball fan. I have vague memories of going to a Yankees game with a friend, but that’s about it. 

All that changed when I was 16. I flipped on the tv after school, looking for something to watch while I did my homework. The baseball playoffs caught my eye. The year was 1986 and the New York Mets were playing the Houston Astros. I ended up being obsessed with the game to the point where I watched not only the rest of the game but the rest of that series and then the World Series.

Few things compare to the 1986 World Series for excitement. Watching the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox turned me into a lifelong baseball fan. 

Fast forward several years to when I fell in love with a Big Ugly Man Doll. Although he’s an Air Force brat, BUMD’s family hails from Chicago. They are Chicago Cubs fans through and through. It was to be an interfaith marriage. One problem though – how would we raise the children?

Finally we hammered out an agreement: we’d raise the kids to be Cubs fans.

For many years, this wasn’t a big deal. You root for the team, of course, but there wasn’t much to get excited about. Eventually we adopted the hometown Washington Nationals as our family team. Even so, being a Cubs fan is a serious committment. Every year might just be THE year. 

Last night, I was finally rewarded for my sacrifice at the alter. The Cubs won the World Series!! Finally the rest of the family knows the kind of joy I felt so many years ago when I first became a baseball fan! Patience is rewarded. 

Go Cubs!!

Authentic Self

What am I to be?

To be or not to be. 

To thine own self be true. 

Any or all of these would be helpful quotes if only I could figure out who I am. I still don’t even know what I want to do when I grow up. At 46, that’s a bit of an issue – the growing up part, that is. It’s not that I’m not a grownup, it’s just that I’m not exactly through with growing up. 

My eldest observed the other day that I’m going through a late form of teenage rebellion. She’s not wrong. In the past few years, I’ve gotten two tattoos, put purple streaks into my (gray) hair, and have defied my mother’s wishes more times than I can count.

What I’m left believing is this: 

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think. This rule,equally arduous in actual and intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I first read this when I was a teenager. It’s taken me decades to start living it. In the end, the only person I need to please is myself. I can provide my family with unconditional love while still having my own opinions and letting them have theirs. Life is not an either/or venture.

The only way I’m going to be satisfied is to go with my gut and live my own life. It may be far from perfect, but it’s all that I have.

Enemy, thy name is inconsistency

Let’s start with the fact that I didn’t even spell ‘inconsistency’ correctly the first time, shall we?

I am perhaps the least consistent person you’ll ever meet. I make a lot of plans but rarely follow through. It’s the word that should appear on my tombstone some day, except that I want to be cremated and have my ashes used in soil to plant a tree. Anyone who knows me can tell you that’s the dumbest idea ever, because I have a black thumb. I’ve never met a plant I couldn’t kill. One time, in college, I killed a plastic plant by dusting it. The poor thing just fell apart. It never had a chance. 

Still, I’m going to try to post every day in November.  Never, never, never give up, right? Or is it just one foot in front of the other? Repeating (some days faster than others). Just…keep…going. 

Bionic Woman

Disclaimer: If you’re easily squicked, you probably shouldn’t read this post. Then again, if you’re easily squicked, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.

Yes, kids – it’s surgery time again. The running joke in our house is that I’m trying to become the world’s most optimized woman. If I don’t need a body part to survive, out it goes. So far, I’ve done away with my appendix, uterus, cervix, gallbladder, the plica in my right knee, and several kidney stones. That’s all in the last decade, by the way. I’ve also optimized my bladder and other girl parts. Having three kids sometimes leads to such things.

This time, my digestive system is on the menu (so to speak). I’m going in for a paraesophageal hernia repair and fundoplication. Why? Because for the past year I’ve been suffering from a severe case of GERD, which has lead to gastroparesis, among other things. In unscientific terms, I’ve spent the past 12+ months vomiting. A lot of food doesn’t digest at all. Not fun. Medication hasn’t helped significantly. After tons of tests, my gastroenterogist sent me to a thoracic surgeon to get fixed. The surgeon explained the procedures to me and remarked that patients usually only stay one night in the hospital, but “with cases as bad as yours, they usually require two nights.”

Kind of weird to hear someone else acknowledge that I really am as sick as I’ve been feeling. Not too many people know that things have been this bad. I’ve been keeping to myself a lot. It’s easier than constantly ducking out of social obligations because I’m feeling sick. I’ve been a stranger in my own life. I’m looking forward to feeling better and changing all that.

Wish me luck!

I am the Anti Luddite

I know, I know. The last time I posted, I declared that I’d blog more often.Yet here it is, three months later and I’m just now making a post.

You see, I was taking a break from technology. That’s right – I made the very, very brave sacrifice of turning off all my electronics. I just wanted to get back to the way things used to be – no iPhones, email, text messages. While I was at it, I also stopped answering the phone and picking up my mail. If people didn’t want to talk to me in person or send letters by pony express, then I didn’t want that communication to intrude upon my precious time with my family.


Who am I kidding? If I were any more plugged in, I’d turn into a Cyberman. Thank goodness The Doctor will be around to save me, though, because I still have TV. No cable or satellite, true, but still – I have ample opportunities to view just about any program I wish, when I want to. That’s just the way I like it.  Entertainment should be at my fingertips on an on-demand basis (so should chocolate, but I digress). Sure, there’s other forms of entertainment out there, but why discount one format? There are many people who gleefully pat themselves on the back for not ever watching television. They’re also the ones who are missing out on countless learning opportunities. There are so many valuable programs on tv.  Refusing to watch them because of the medium doesn’t make you a better person. It just limits your horizons.

Sure, you can argue that using electronics limits your horizons too. There is an opportunity cost to almost everything you do. The trick is to make your choice wisely. I could stop using Facebook and rely on traditional methods of contact, but why? Who is to say that in 10 years or so, Facebook won’t be considered a “traditional” method of communicating, much like the telephone is now? Using technology has only expanded my horizons. I am in touch with more people on a regular basis than I ever would be if I relied on using a telephone to talk to people. I hate talking on the telephone. Not to mention, telephones are the dreaded “technology” that people are complaining about – they just don’t think about it that way because it’s something they’re used to.

Douglas Adams made this point quite eloquently in his essay, “How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet.” It’s all new and many of us don’t feel comfortable with it, so we shun it. Several people have shunned it to the tune of a book deal. Why?? What is the interest in ‘getting back to the way things used to be’? What is this ‘used to be’? I’m not the same person as I was when I was 10 – why would I want my technology to be the same?

I’m teaching my children some of the recipes my grandmother made. That doesn’t mean we’re using the same methods. We have electric mixers, convection ovens, oven mitts that keep your hand from burning, ingredients that I can buy in reasonable quantities at almost any hour of the day. You don’t often hear people giving up that, do you? No, it’s just easier to meeble about how you gave up technology and …oh, was that the sound of those same people giving up their cars? Giving up their appliances? Washing their clothing by hand? No? If you’re going to “give up technology” then give it ALL up. Otherwise, stop complaining and embrace the changes in your life. You’ve changed and so has the world around you. It’s ok.

Above all else, embrace moderation. You really don’t need your computer every moment of the day. Or your radio. Or the laundry. Or do you? Then maybe you should be in rehab or at a retreat, not writing your book.

New Year, Happy

So this is 2011. Fairly warm for a winter’s day (gotta love the south), a bit wet, full of wine and good food and family. Not a bad start to the decade.

Then there’s the matter of resolutions. I can’t, I won’t. There’s no point, I’ll just break them. Instead, a list of hopes/plans/thoughts/ideas:

* Try to keep up with the 365 pic project

* Do more stuff. Not ALL the stuff, but more.

* Eat less, exercise more.

* Get out more, see more, be present more.

* Blog more. It’s free therapy.

* …and lots of other stuff. Who knows what this year will bring? It’s kinda hard to create goals based on the unknown. Having no resolutions to worry about breaking leaves me with a lot more time to get life done.

Life is 10% how you make it and 90% how you take it. How will *you* use your 90%?


Tell Me Who Are You?

I am:  A Woman.  A Daughter.  A Wife.  A Mother.  Me.

There’s no way I can describe myself in one post, or even in one blog.  That’s the way a person should be – multifaceted, interesting, intriguing, ever-changing. NOT rooted in one place, one space, one idea.

When I started blogging, I posted a few miscellaneous things.  Then I moved on to blogging about being the mom of three.  One blog was scattered, the other too focused.  I wasn’t comfortable in either space.  My blogging was like the rest of my life – eager to prove myself, but no real idea of what my voice was.

I think I’ve found it, though, in the form of a nickname my Bestest calls me – Inappropriate Girl.  It amuses me.  I try to hard to fit in in so many places, but at heart I’m never quite going to do be able to do it.  Nor am I going to not try.  I’m happiest being my snarky self, which may or may not endear me to people.  That’s fine.  Like the song in Rent goes, “Take me, baby, or leave me.”

Sometimes I wonder if I was just waiting to hit 40, as if that magic birthday would somehow grant me the ability to speak my mind and do as I pleased.  This blog is my present to myself.  It’s my place to let it all out, regardless of what people think.  If I’m wrong about something, I hope someone tells me.  It’s a great way to learn.  I don’t mind criticism – it helps me grow.  I love being more comfortable in my own skin.  I LIKE being 40.