Wednesday, February 24, 2016

mustache rides

I have been remiss about posting lately. This isn't a passionate and riveting expose, just wanted to share with you the minutae of what's been keeping us apart.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought we might actually get to school and work on time, and then I walked out into our driveway and saw this. Good times. Good times.

Honestly the biggest problem wasn't that a large tree fell down, blocking our driveway and knocking over fifty feet of fence. The biggest issue was that we live on a shared driveway, and this situation would require communications with our grumpy neighbor, or "The Mean Old Man," as the kids call him. In the four months we've lived at the house we have had exactly zero positive communications with this crotchety dude.

A little background - before we'd even closed on the house, I had a charming conversation with this fellow wherein he (1) accused us of bringing down property values based on the price we'd paid for the house, (2) said he hoped my kids weren't "maladroits" like the kids that lived here before, (3) said we better not be planning to play baseball or put up a basketball hoop out front (this was, in fact, exactly what we planned to do), and (4) warned me that we better bring some integrity and maturity to the neighborhood (cuz, you know, that's a reasonable expectation with a 3.5 and a 5 year-old). The following week he stormed into my front door, through my house, and into my backyard to berate me for allowing someone to park their car three feet onto his portion of the shared driveway. Since then he has repeatedly yelled at workers and service people, and shouted at my kids to "play in front of their own house." He also told my in-laws not to disturb the piles of dead pine-needles that lined his portion of the fence (wtf?) Finally, we later discovered that he once went off on another neighbor while wielding a freaking axe (for parking in front of his house, naturally). So yeah. The guy's a peach, basically. He also has a Benghazi bumper sticker. Even though I'm more of a Bernie fan, I'm seriously considering a Hillary lawn sign. Maybe both. Just for shits and giggles.

Source: Dave Ross
Much to my surprise, my conversation with The Mean Old Man about our shared predicament was actually the most pleasant conversation I'd ever had with the guy. At least it was, until he said "Well, it could be worse. We could be in the Middle East getting carpet-bombed by those diaper-heads." Mmmmmkay. I said, "Well, my husband's parents are from the Middle East so I can't really say I'm on board with that sentiment." Then he started to tell me about this "one guy he knew" from "I-Ran," and how he worked from the Army and loved 'Murica and was a real stand-up guy. Charming.

So then I had to take the kids to school in a cab because Uber is apparently unavailable in North County San Diego at 8am. Sixty dollars! And this is why people don't like cabs. Well, one of many reasons. Remind me to tell you about the NYC cab driver that COULD NOT drive in a straight line. Seriously, it had to be intentional it was so bad. Like, if you were trying your absolute hardest to make someone carsick, you could not be as bad a driver as this guy. Never a dull moment.

Anyway. The next day I went to San Francisco on a work trip. I stayed away from booze, benzos and over-sharing so it was an improvement upon my first business travel experience. Before we left my boss said he was going to make dinner reservations and asked if there was anything I didn't eat. I said "Meat." He said, "So sushi? Japanese?" I said, "Yeah, sounds great. I can always find something on the menu."

That night he said he hadn't been able to get a table at the place he was thinking (because this was leading up to the Super Bowl and SF was crazy town!) But he'd made reservations at the Japanese place at the St. Regis called "Ame." (Aim? Ah-may? We may never know.) Him: "It has a Michelin star." Me: "Right on." (Translation: I have no idea what that means.)

Fast forward to dinner. I found out what "Michelin Star" means. It means "This is a Japanese food restaurant that doesn't serve RICE." WTF. Him: I always order family-style. Is it alright if we both just get a bunch of stuff and share? Me: Uh, well... I can't eat much of this so that might not work out that well. Him: What do you mean? Me: I don't eat fish. Him: You don't eat FISH? I thought you said you didn't eat MEAT. Me: It was my understanding that "meat" is animal flesh eaten for food. I have always included fish in this definition. Him: Maybe you should have said something when I asked if sushi/Japanese was alright? Me: Japanese is generally a safe bet! It's not my fault you picked the one Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, nay, THE WORLD, that doesn't serve rice! How hard is it to make a cucumber roll?!

Anyway, I ended up ordering the one vegetarian option (that wasn't even on the menu). Some vegetable risotto dish. (Risotto is NOT rice, by the way.) The dish comes out COVERED in tiny skinny slimy penis-looking mushrooms. I died a thousand silent deaths. I HATE mushrooms. They make me want to murder myself. And this dish was just infested. There was no eating around them. It was like a 1:1 risotto to fungus ratio. There was no way I was going to say anything, as my boss was already convinced I was a total high maintenance nightmare diva queen. So I ate in queasy quietude, grinning and gritting my way through each chewy, gummy, slimy, micro-mushroom-penis bite, shedding silent tears in my mind, trying not to audibly gag, or worse, projectile vomit all over the senior partner seated across from me.

Meanwhile, he peppered me with the usual hilarious carnivorous jokes "So, I'm assuming you don't eat slabs of raw eel then? How about scallops? They're hardly an animal. Caviar harvested from an endangered beluga whale in the Caspian Sea? No?" (I do eat eggs, sometimes, as long as I haven't recently thought of them as embryos, so, technically, I suppose I could eat caviar. But why anyone would choose to do so is beyond me.)

I basically ran back to my hotel room (across the street from the St. Regis because I am not a fancy partner) and started desperately searching for the room service menu, but I quickly realized there was none to be found. A hotel without room service? How is that even a thing?! Even Motel 6 has a damn vending machine! I called the front desk in disbelief, and they only confirmed my deepest, darkest fears.

But lo! Little brother to the rescue! In short order, he showed up with 2 cupcakes, 6 macarons, 2 scoops of ice cream, and a bottle of dessert wine. I now have diabetes, but it was worth every bite.

The actual work part of my trip went great. I then walked approximately 97 miles around the city, spent $6 on a bottled coffee drink that was, apparently, made from cold-pressed unicorn tears, got caught up in the Super Bowl 50 melee, and did the friendship equivalent of speed-dating. As I was waiting for my ride to the airport, my brother and my friend KC and I were discussing our weirdest Lyft/Uber driver experience. We were talking about that woman who was kidnapped and raped by an Uber driver. KC said she recently had a driver who told her he'd murdered someone in Spain and gotten away with it. Not sure how they missed that on the employment application. And my brother shared his favorite story about a driver named Kevin who truly believed he was a dragon trapped in a human body. As my Lyft driver pulled up we assessed. Older Asian man. Looks harmless. Almost definitely not a serial killer. Clean new car. Okay. You're good to go! Definitely not going to get locked in a rape dungeon or told dragon tales. Once I got settled in the car, I looked up, and was surprised to see ... my driver only had ONE ARM!

While initially unexpected and hilarious, I actually think this is pretty cool. I've had a couple of deaf Lyft drivers as well, which is probably an ideal disability to have if your job description includes driving around drunk people. More power to ya, Lyft!

To top off my domestic adventures, DM and I went to New York City - BY OUR SELVES, for 48 hours. I was supposed to go for work and he was going to tag along. But then at the last minute the work obligation was canceled, and we had already gotten tickets to a show and a hotel for an extra night and we thought, fuck it! We're doing this thing! And we did. I think we went to more bars in those 48 hours than we've been in the preceding 48 months. And I ate ALL THE FOODS. We missed and stressed about our littles, but they were in good hands. We certainly paid the price upon our return, but it was so worth it. It's crazy how easy it is to forget you used to be an actual person apart from your identity as a parent.

One of my favorite moments was in the wee hours of the morning at this random bar in Greenwich Village. It appears that the average NYC bar-goer has been acculturated to bartenders with suspenders and waxed mustaches serving complicated cocktails consisting of locally sourced organic mint fertilized with human shit that doesn't stink, painstakingly-peeled Valencia oranges grown by the light of the Harvest Moon, Reiki-infused ginger root, and gluten-free alcohol served in vintage apothecary jars. So this guy orders something befitting the man-bun atop his head, and the bartender replies, "Bro. I would just like to point out to you that it is 1:30 in the morning, and your choice of adult beverage should reflect that fact." Keepin' it real. Oh, and they were playing Frozen on the widescreen. I <3 NY.

Let it GOOOOO! Just order a fucking beer bro.
Gratuitous NY snaps:
Not normally a food pic person but c'mon.
The world is strange and delicious. :) Donald Trump notwithstanding.

The End.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

breaking news: control freak lets go

Life is good. Compared to Costco-sized can of Whoop Ass we were being served a few months back, pretty much anything seems chill. But it occurred to me that this era of chill is due in part to the unclenching of my rear-end and the release of the stick that's been stuck up there for the past 30-odd years.

I will refer this recent phenomenon as The Great Letting Go of 2016, but it has been a long time in coming. This letting-go has actually been a gradual process over the past, oh, I don't know, five years, six months and three days or so :)

And I had a revelation of sorts the other day. Maybe everyone else already knew this. But just in case.

Say you have something that needs to be done three days from now. It will take X hours of actual work. It could be anything, a legal brief, a birthday party, a bake sale. The old me would spend the last three months plus today, tomorrow, the next day, and the final X hours before it is due finalizing and perfecting the thing.

Here's an example. Whenever we used to go on trips, I would pack, say, a week ahead of time. And then two or three days prior I would unpack, assess, and then re-pack. I honestly can't even remember why, or how, or what, or WHY. But anyway. That was my process.

Now (well, as of January 16th, 2016), my process is to just pack, once, at the last possible moment I can do so without increasing the overall stress of the situation.

After my Patented Program. Guaranteed to drastically lower your standards and your stress in five short years.
I traveled for work last week. I knew I didn't have any suits that fit. I've known this for a year, actually. Yet I was at the store the day before buying a suit that I could actually zip. The sales lady was like, Oh, you're one of those. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the New and Improved me kind of sucks at life. But the thing is, if I'm going to end up stressing out about it at the end anyway, why spend any more time and energy than that?

Of course, turning off the preceding three hours or three days or three months of preparatory stress isn't as easy as it sounds. That was just the way that my brain worked. Still works. But I guess I've just started to train myself to fight back against that all-encompassing stress. I think of that stress like a stream that's always been traveling down the same well-worn path, and recently I've begun to build a dam, one rock, one pebble, one stick at a time. And slowly but surely, I'm turning the tide on that stress, forcing the energy to flow in a different direction.

The Super Bowl was on Sunday. On Saturday I was recounting to DM the litany of things that needed to be done before the 2pm Super Bowl Party the next day: Get strawberries (because of course the store I went to Saturday night was sold out). Make chocolate-dipped strawberries shaped like footballs (obvi). Buy a bottle of booze for the host (because of course I forgot my ID the night before and they wouldn't sell to me, crows feet and super-sized eye-bags notwithstanding). Make jalapeno poppers. Make custom, non-candy Valentines for The Boy's class. Do a weeks' worth of laundry.

Side note: I will say, another little thing that has helped in my handling of stress has been DM's reaction to it. I read this article by an online "friend" a good while back about how your partner needs to validate your stress-ball tendencies, rather than trivialize them. It makes a difference. I swear. See Seven Reasons Why Your Wife Acts So Stressed Out All The Time by Samantha Rodman aka Dr Psych Mom. See also, The Invisible Burden That Leaves Moms Drained about "Kin-Keeping" by Katie McLaughlin on Pick Any Two. I felt so validated by this. I love that there's a name for what so many of us do! It got me thinking though. Most of this stuff falls squarely in the "Should" department per my BFF Claire, and as we all know, "Shoulds" are toxic to your health. The author writes "Just think about how different your own childhood would have looked without birthday cakes and family beach trips and homemade gifts for Grandma, and you’ll see how valuable these kinds of tasks really are." But who's to say the product of all the "should-work" wouldn't be replaced with equally meaningful memories, even if the birthday cakes were from a box and the gifts were from the dollar bins at Target? I can personally say that while the end-result of all the kin-keeping may benefit my children, it ain't too pretty seeing the sausage get made, or the kin gettin' kept, so to speak. My kids might actually choose cheapy perforated supermarket valentines and store-bought cupcakes if it meant a mom who would sit still and really be with them more often as opposed to a mom running around like a stressed out banshee trying to make Pinterest-worthy creations and picture perfect moments. (Side note to the side note: When Jack first started at the preschool years ago and they said they didn't celebrate Valentine's Day, I may or may not have called them Nazis. But this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. God Bless the Fruit Snack Fascists!)

Anyway, DM made all the right murmurings Saturday night: "OMG, that's horrible, we'll never get it all done! But we'll give it our best shot!" (What a man what a man what a mighty good man :))

So, Sunday was his day to sleep in. He comes down around 10 in the morning. The kids are watching TV and I'm sitting at the kids' drawing table in my robe, coloring one of those grown-up coloring books that're all the rage.

DM: Ummmmm..... What's... going on?
Me: What?
DM: What are you doing?
Me: Coloring.
DM: ...
Me: What? I like coloring.
DM: Okayyyyy... I have never seen you color in a coloring book in the 14 years we've been together, but... whatever you say.
Me: What? The farmer's market doesn't even open until 10.
DM: It's 10.
Me: Dude! What do you want from me?! Am I supposed to be at the market the second it opens?

The thing is, the "old me" would have been. Poor guy was just so completely floored that I hadn't already been running around like a chicken with its head cut off for four hours, he didn't even know what to do with himself. He said "I feel like I woke up in an alternate universe."

Long story short, the strawberries and the jalapeno poppers and the valentines got made. The laundry lived to fight another day. But really, is laundry ever done? Not in my house.

I can't really feel my fingers these days, so them're some wobbly footballs. But guess what? NOBODY CARES! ;) 

Printables by Kudzu Monster on Etsy (natch')
Later that night DM told me he was really content and that life was really good and that he was especially happy because I seemed like I was in a good place with respect to my psycho stress ball ways. He said he was so glad that I had finally "lowered the bar" to a reasonable and achievable level.

This actually had me a little worried. If he thinks the bar is low, I may have gone too far.

But then I woke up this morning and found this - the reformed scrounge troll organized the junk drawer in his non-existent free time! So, basically, we've switched personalities. This is some Freaky Friday shit but I'll take it. Apparently, if you lag hard enough, your partner will pick up the slack. Who knew?!

If you had any idea how crazy this was... Next thing you know, he's going to go KonMari on my ass.
As I was getting ready this morning, DM asked me if we had hotel reservations for our trip to New York that was happening in less than a week. Me: Um, not yet. Him: *Speechless.* Then I picked up a shirt off the dirty laundry pile, put it on, and said "No one saw me wear this yesterday and it doesn't even smell that bad." DM: "I don't know who this woman is, but I like her. I like her a lot."

Anyway, it's not like I've completely rid my life of stress or anything. That's what bedtime is for! Baby steps.