Thursday, April 14, 2016

In which I flip the double bird during a business meeting.

A few weeks ago, I was catching up with one of my dearest friends from college. She's a TV producer, and talked about how the business has changed in the 20 years since we've been out of school.

"It's all young go-getters and they're out for blood," she said. "I used to be driven, but now? Well, now, I don't care. I just don't care. I want to do my job. I'm not out to set the world on fire or impress my boss. I just don't care."

She looked at me sheepishly and then was somewhat surprised when I slapped my hands on the table and yelled, "Me, neither!" in the middle of a packed restaurant.

I care, but I don't care. I don't care about impressing people or being the first or best or whateverest. I want to do good work. But it doesn't have that very personal, very life-or-death feel that it used to. It just ... doesn't matter.

I believe this is the mythical "everything changes once you're 40" mellowness that people whisper about. It's like the next step beyond when I realized in my 20s that nobody cares what my hair looks like, even though 13-year-old me refused to go buy mulch with my mom until after I washed and dried my perm.

Mulch.

This 40-year-old freedom doesn't have a name, but I have given it a symbol. And that symbol isn't iconic music, or dance, or poetry. It's the double bird, because that pretty much embodies how I feel about most things. Also, it still feels like a minor act of rebellion. Flipping somebody off? Kind of amateur. But flipping somebody off with both hands? You really don't care. And folks best mind your awesomeness.

And so I was meeting a new woman in a business setting. And we got to talking, and she mentioned that she was turning 40 soon.

"Oh, you're gonna love it," I said. "I turned 40 not that long ago."

"It already feels different," she said. "More relaxed."

I nodded. "Yeah, now I pretty much just feel like this all the time."
And instead of being horrified or plastering a fake, get-this-weirdo-out-of-here smile on her face, my new friend relaxed just a tiny bit and exclaimed, "YES! That's it exactly!"

I don't know why turning 40 is supposed to be a bummer. I feel richer and fuller than ever. And classier. Obviously.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

In which I break the baby.

My Guy and I are learning to embrace the DINK lifestyle. It's going pretty well, except we often ask each other, "If we don't have kids, why don't we have nicer stuff?"

Yeah, I got your '03 Honda right here.

But while we're enjoying our not-new-but-not-sticky stuff, we're also dealing with The Baby Give and Take.

The Baby Give and Take is a well-intentioned but very awkward dance wherein people insist we hold their babies or babies of other folk. The thought seems to be a combination of "This is the best baby ever!" and "You must bond with the baby!" Sometimes, there's a touch of "If you hold a baby, you'll finally decide to adopt!" thrown in.

Now, I like babies just fine. Their heads generally smell amazing. And holding babies is cool. They're warm and cuddly and what's not to like? But The Baby Give and Take means a baby is forced upon me or my darling husband. And then, to fulfill the "and Take" part of it, someone swoops in and whisks the baby away the second the infant makes a sound or gives even the slightest indication of not being 110 percent happy. There's generally no "Oh, she's fussy - do you want me to take her?" It's more like, "Jesus, people! Don't break the baby, you savages!"
I thought it was just me. But My Guy has commented on it - it happens to him, too. The administrators of The Baby Give and Take - who are both baby owners and baby friends and family - seem to be kind people who want to include us. But the whole thing makes us feel like idiots who have no social skills and failed the child care unit in home ec.

Not being parents means that we are bystanders to many of our peers' experiences right now. It means that maintaining those relationships takes extra care and work. And that's OK. But no one is helping the cause through The Baby Give and Take. What if the mere sight of an infant still made me explode into an infertile lady shame spiral? What if holding a baby made my kind and sensitive husband look for a drifter to kill?

The Give is bad enough. But The Take? The Take just says, "Well, bless your heart. I see you made an effort, but here, let me take that baby off your hands since you're clearly incapable of keeping it alive for more than 30 seconds."

Quit making me hold the baby. Or let me hold the baby when I ask and then let me hand her off in my own time. Or let me hide in the bathroom. Just ... let me be.

Also? My dachshund is mega-cute and won't require orthodontia or college. So, there's that.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

My ugly charm bracelet and the lovely novel, The Charm Bracelet.

I have a problem picking up random (read: ugly) jewelry. I'm not talking about a "you'll regret that later" necklace at Target. I'm talking about "I can't believe Grandma ever wore that and I can't believe someone bought it at our garage sale because I figured we'd just throw it out" pieces.

Hi. I'm cool.

Anyway, I have this charm bracelet that is either amazing or completely terrifying. I think it's from the 50s or 60s, and it has uniform charms with "Here, let me strip all the fun out of your teenage years" sayings engraved on them.

Some gems:
  • Stop and think before you drink -- then don't. (OK, I get this one.)
  • Don't let your parents down. They brought you up. (Geez oh Pete. Like kids aren't under enough pressure already.)
  • Choose a date who would make a good mate. (I appreciate the rhyming, but do I have to be thinking about marriage at the junior prom?)
  • At the first moment turn away from unclean thinking -- at the first moment. (I find this one hysterical. AT THE FIRST MOMENT! AT THE FIRST MOMENT!)
  • Don't show off driving. If you want to race go to Indianapolis. (Was drag racing really a big issue with the teen girls who were wearing CHARM BRACELETS?)
So, my charm bracelet is a bit of a downer. And I'm a crotchety old biddy for being mildly annoyed by the lack of commas. Or I'm a hipster and wearing it ironically. Whatever.

But if you want a charm bracelet that's awesome ... I have a book for you. (See what I did there?)

I was very fortunate to get an advanced copy of this beauty. The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman is a lovely novel about mothers and daughters and secrets and small towns and pulling apart and coming together. I loved it.

Lolly is starting to forget things. When there's a little accident and her daughter Arden is called back to the small town she left behind long ago ... well, there are stories to be told and family issues to be straightened out. And when Arden's daughter figures out that she has a grandmother she didn't know about? Well, it's on.

The author has an ear for dialogue and a wicked sense of humor. This is a heartwarming story about the sometimes perilous terrain of family relationships, and about bonds that last through it all. I might be making this sound a bit treacly, but it isn't at all. It's just a great story about family. And it's funny. And it would make a great gift for Mothers Day. Just sayin'.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I give The Charm Bracelet 5 dog families that are working together.
 What have you been reading lately?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Abusing loved ones for fun and profit.

One of my pals recently admitted to hiding from her kids. She was lying low so as to leave a tricky parenting situation to her husband. Their girls - ages 4 and 7 - were having a nuclear war.

The younger one had licked her older sister's nightgown.

The scene was dramatic in the way only girls that age can manage. The older sister was stomping around, refusing to wear the nightgown. Because her sister hadn't just licked it - she'd licked the inside. Meanwhile, the younger sister had wedged herself between the wall and a couch and was laughing maniacally.

Ahh.

I don't have a sister, so I don't have first-hand experience with that kind of torture. I am, however, an older sister to a little brother who is obviously very, very lucky.

The nightgown licking made me think of my own torture devices. My brother Poochie had this tiny pillow that was, of course, called Baby Pillow. And he had to sleep with Baby Pillow. This was when he was, like, 3. This wasn't last year.

Anyway, my way of torturing Poochie was to threaten to "suck the freshness" out of Baby Pillow. He would scream and I'd grab Baby Pillow and bury my face in it and inhale loudly. I was ensuring that Poochie would have the opposite of the "cool as the other side of the pillow" experience.

Bwah ha ha.

When I mentioned this to our mom, she had no recollection of it. This is proof that we all have selective memories because I did it all the damned time. So, she didn't remember me sucking the freshness out of Baby Pillow, but she was quick to mention the time I convinced a 4-year-old Poochie that our real parents lived in a Winnebago and were coming to pick us up for Christmas.

Heh. Yeah, I totally got in trouble for that one. But really, I've just always been very creative. Plus, I think I was at a disadvantage being the oldest child of two youngest children.
Or maybe I was just bitter about having shorts up to my armpits. And yes, this was the summer everyone thought I was a boy. Why do you ask?
My mom was hard-pressed to choose just 1 instance of her older sisters torturing her. Here's her winning example:

When we lived on West State Street, my bed was at the top of the stairs with a little closet door next to the head of my bed. I was told that after dark the closet monsters slid under the closet door and got under my bed and would grab me by the feet when I went to get into bed. As a result, I would launch myself across the room into bed and get in trouble with Mom. I think after Mom yelled at me for the gazillionth time she found out why I was doing this every night. [Know I did it for a long time ... and you KNOW how athletic I am, so it wasn't easy.] I don't even know if they got in trouble, but I was rather gullible.

This made me laugh so hard. I've been present when my mom told her sister this story. My sweet, beautiful, wonderful aunt just CACKLED. This cruel sister showed no remorse.

I have to admit that I admire her style.

I don't necessarily feel bad about sucking all the freshness out of Baby Pillow. I probably should, but ... ehh. Poochie's fine. Baby Pillow is fine. And I was a creative kid.

What did you do to get under your siblings' skin?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Yoga pants are the new housecoats.

An older lady who lives down the street appears to have a uniform. Every time I see her, she's sporting some sort of housecoat/smock and a men's t-shirt. Her legs are always bare, even in the bitterest cold, and this worries me. But she smiles from behind her huge red glasses and calls me "Hon."

At first glance, it's easy to look at Neighbor Lady's ensemble and think, "Oh, brother." Let us be honest: the men's t-shirts are neither flattering nor coordinated with the housecoat/smocks. And sometimes there's both a housecoat and a smock, and the patterns don't go together. Comfort seems to be the focus here, not high fashion. Nor low fashion. Ahem.

But judge not lest ye be judged! Because today, I was feeling an ugly little bit judgey ... while walking my dog in yoga pants, a green fleece with a broken zipper, and a t-shirt that was of another, totally not complementary green. I was Clashy McClasherson. I was just walking around the block and picking up poop, so who cares?
Let us celebrate our freedom from fashion!
Neighbor Lady was just picking up sticks in her yard. Who dresses up for that?

And then it hit me. My grandma had an assortment of housecoats. They were comfortable and to be worn around the house only. Neighbor Lady is just stretching that window of appropriate venues a bit.

And I have an assortment of yoga pants. They're comfortable and to be worn in yoga class only. But, since most of us don't go to yoga class, they're to be worn at home only. But like most of my peers, I'm stretching that window of appropriate venues a bit.

Yoga pants are the new housecoats. Which is all hilarious and fine until we fast forward about 40 years. The lady people will be wearing whatever the third generation of housecoats will be. And they'll look upon us yoga pants-clad octogenarians with a mix of disdain and pity. Just how I'm looking upon my housecoat-clad neighbor.

But really? Neighbor Lady has one up on the women of my generation. Housecoats can hide a multitude of sins. And, they have pockets.

Pockets!

But yoga pants? Ain't no secrets nor storage when yoga pants are around. Yoga pants show the world your business whether you're 40 and in pretty good shape or you're 80 and have parts hanging everywhere.

The housecoats have the upper hand here, obviously. Gen X women, we have made a tactical error.

Friday, March 11, 2016

In which I vomit like a lady.

Now that I'm 40, I don't party like I used to. Which I guess is a good thing, lest I be the creepy 40-year-old at the frat party.

But the good news is that I can now hold my liquor, unlike my younger, frat-party-attending self. Now, I am a woman. Whiskey? Yes, please. Neat.

I recently had a fun girls' weekend in New Orleans. We didn't hit Bourbon Street or dance on any tables. No. Instead, we did a walking tour of the French Quarter called Drink and Learn. At 2 p.m.

You guys. This tour was beyond excellent. It was really fun. Each of us got a little cross-body bag with four sealed cups, some straws and napkins, and a recipe card. We'd walk to a spot in the French Quarter, and then our hostess would tell us to open up the cup with the pink sticker, and then we'd drink while she told us about the history of that particular beverage and New Orleans as a whole.

Super fun. Super interesting. Except it was super hot that day. So, there was some a-drinkin' going on when there should have only been a-sippin'.

The tour was 2 hours. At the end of those 2 hours, we were ... happy.

There was a guy on our tour by himself. We adopted him. All 5 of us then hit another bar, wherein we drank grasshoppers and pink Cadillacs. Then, we hightailed it to a bar with ... karaoke.

On the way, BFF was feeling the NOLA vibe. "I could really go for a cigarette," she said.

She is a nonsmoker. She bought some cigarettes. I am also a nonsmoker. I smoked a cigarette and felt ALIVE! I felt like I was in college and invincible! I figured I should probably buy some overalls and get my hair cut into The Rachel because it was the late 90s all over again and I was soooo cooooool.

Well, I was cool when I wasn't focusing intently on the lit end of the cigarette because I vaguely remembered that of the 10 cigarettes I smoked in college, I used roughly 8 to accidentally set things on fire. I wasn't meant to be a real smoker. I didn't have that coordination.

So, we smoked our cigarettes and then? Well, after an afternoon of drinking, we did what any normal women would do. We sang karaoke. And at 5:30 on a Saturday, the karaoke queue was wide open, so our little group did some serious damage.

And yes, BFF and I did sing "Islands in the Stream." And I was Gladys Knight to my sweet friends' Pips for "Midnight Train to Georgia." But, perhaps most importantly ... I belted "Delta Dawn," in honor of my dad.
Yes, I'm under a disco ball, wearing a giant scarf. It seemed like a good idea.
For some reason, this song is just kind of Our Song. I felt kind of guilty singing it without him, but BFF contended that I did him proud.

At some point in the evening, we ate. And then we went back to the karaoke bar and I sang "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes. Yeah, Phil Spector is crazypants, but he produces a heck of a karaoke song.

It was good, good times. Until it wasn't.

It was in the back of the Uber that I started feeling a little green. This was around 11 p.m. And by the time we were back in our condo - because ladies of a certain age need nice accommodations - I was feeling more green. Yellowish green. Ugly green.

I hadn't puked from over-imbibing since the night I got drunk off cheap vodka after dropping my brother at the airport so he could move to Europe. The day before that, our mom had had major surgery.

That was 12 years ago. I'd slept on the floor of the bathroom and prayed, promising God that I would never, ever, ever drink again if He'd just let me live. Or, if He wanted to kill me, would He mind doing it right quick-like so that I could stop praying for death?

But that was then. As a 40-year-old, I decided that I would probably feel better if I threw up. I was rational as hell. I went to the bathroom, shut the door, and took out my contacts. Then, I pulled my hair back, because women are always prepared. I puked in the toilet, flushed, washed my hands and mouth, and then brushed my teeth. Like a fucking lady.

I didn't sleep on the bathroom floor, convinced that tile was the greatest invention in all the universe. I just went to bed with a bottle of water. And although I felt crummy in the morning, I wasn't desperate for McDonald's french fries.

No, I just felt dumb. Dumb, but human. Really dumb once I realized that yeah, it wasn't the liquor. It was the cigarette and being too buzzed to realize that I was drinking beverages with cream in them. Because that's a good idea when dairy isn't your friend.

I guess you're never too old for bad decisions.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Follow your dreams!

I'm going to start a new business. A business that's based on my true gifts and talents.

Yes. As I'm sure you already guessed, I'm going to open a pet-naming business. Because I'm really good at naming pets.

It came to me in a dream. I dreamed that I bought one of these modern condo-looking fishbowls.

This is totally an affiliate link because if you buy this beyond-awesome fish bowl, I want to know, and I want to be your friend.

Anyway, in my dream, the condo fish bowl was inhabited by 2 goldfish: Irv and Charlene.

I think we all agree that those are the best goldfish names ever, with the possible exception of Goldfish Meir.

My subconscious is clearly very, very talented in the realm of pet naming. And so, it's my duty to offer my gift to the people.

My Guy is supportive of this new venture, and did point out that he was the one who named the 2 pugs we used to pass regularly. He dubbed them Steve and Yolanda, and those are pretty fantastic pug names. I may consider bringing my husband in as a business partner at a later date.

But in the meantime, I'd like to offer a free sample of what I have to offer.

Let's say you need to name a lizard. Might I offer up Walter, Elvira, and Senor Wiggletail as options?

Or maybe you need to name a very mean cat. Clearly, naming is the best way for you to get back at a feline asshole. Consider channeling your revenge with a moniker like Bertrand, Nefario, or maybe just He Who Shall Not Be Named.

As for dogs? Well, let's just say I once named an emotionally unstable doxie with Cleopatra eyes "Ralphie."
I have mad street cred there.

Need a pet named? Let me know in the comments and I will hook you up.

Also ... why yes, I am somewhat sleep-deprived. Why do you ask?