Just Left Of Lost

    

     You know how some people just have an inherently good sense of direction?  And you know how other people get lost four doors down from their own freaking house on their own freaking street?  Well I happen to fall into the latter category.  I swear I could fall off course even if I had a whole fleet of crossing guards pointing me in the right direction with huge neon flashing arrows.  And even with the GPS system in my car, I often end up driving in circles. Call it one of my many flaws, but I truly suck ass at navigation.

¬†¬† ¬† So you can probably understand then why I had an extremely strong desire a couple of days ago to call up the jackass of a genius who decided to put the nearest Pump It Up in the middle of freaking nowhere. ¬†(If you’re not familiar with Pump It Up, it’s basically an inflatable version of HELL where kids hold birthday parties.) ¬†Even though I’ve been to the damn place fifteen thousand times, I can never ever remember how to get there. ¬†And it doesn’t help that the stupid address apparently doesn’t even exist on my car’s GPS. ¬†I guess it doesn’t recognize BFE locations. ¬†Somehow, though, by the grace of God, I was able to deliver my son to his friend’s birthday party Tuesday afternoon on time and without any unwanted detours. ¬†However, when it was time to pick him up from the party, it was a whole different story.

¬†¬† ¬† My daughter and I decided to run over to Target while the party was going on, so I made sure that I paid very close attention to exactly how I got from Pump It Up to Target. ¬†It’s a very industrial area so I looked at landmarks, I looked at street signs, and I was certain that I’d be able to retrace my route without any problem. ¬†Boy was I ever wrong. ¬†Every building looked the exact same, and I’m convinced that some little shit went and switched all the street signs on me. ¬†I ended up on the road to nowhere, putting me a good fifteen minutes late to pick up my son and one of his friends. ¬†In a panic, I called 411 Info on my phone hoping to be immediately connected to Pump It Up. ¬†As I waited for the transfer, I could just picture my little guy and his friend standing there all by themselves gasping for air in that cesspool of germs. ¬†

¬†¬† ¬† When I was finally connected to Pump It Up, I was then subjected to the world’s longest automated system. ¬†I kept pressing “0” to speak to an actual human being, only to be taken all the way back to the beginning of the damn system. ¬†I wanted to scream at the bitchhole on the recording who kept telling me over and over about all the fun I could have by planning my next party at their facility. ¬†Did she not give a shit that my son was drowning in a sea of bacteria? ¬†After three attempts at trying to get a person on the line, I figured out that I actually had to press “9” instead of “0” — seriously, WTF? Everybody knows that “0” means “operator.” ¬†I quickly explained to the receptionist that I was running late since their building was IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND, and when I eventually got there, my son and his friend were sure enough the last guests to leave. ¬†I apologized up and down and all around to the mom of the birthday boy and whisked the boys into the fresh, clean air as quickly as possible.

¬†¬† ¬† I absolutely dread the next time I see a Pump It Up party invitation in the mail, and, in fact, I may just accidentally throw the flipping thing away. ¬†I am not a big fan of driving around aimlessly and getting absolutely nowhere. ¬†So, in the future, if you want to give me directions to your next shindig, you might just want to attach a personal escort who can walk right next to my car and talk me through the whole thing. ¬†Otherwise, you can bet your ass that I’ll be more than just a little casually late.

Kiss My Ash

     Given that today is Ash Wednesday, I am reminded of a rather humiliating experience that I encountered when I was a teacher in what seems like a lifetime ago. Other than the Jewish Spanish teacher, I was the only non-Catholic teacher in a Pre-K through eighth grade Catholic school.  Luckily, I was never really shunned for being a < GASP! > Methodist until one particular season of Lent in which a rather peculiar priest gave a ridiculously biased homily in which I was indirectly made to look like the scum of the earth.

¬†¬† ¬† As a teacher in a Catholic school, I was required to take my class to a whole school mass once a week. ¬†This was really the only time that my students ever noticed that I wasn’t Catholic. ¬†Since this particular church wasn’t crazy about the idea of non-Catholics participating in Communion, I had to just stand over in the aisle and let my eighth graders pass by me to receive the “body and blood of Christ.” ¬†Sometimes the kids would ask me why I wasn’t participating, but they always seemed to be cool with my simple explanation of not being a member of their church. ¬†It just wasn’t an issue with them, and I never ever felt they were looking at me like I was the devil reincarnated.

¬†¬† ¬† That all changed one day though when Father Clueless decided to try to make a comparison between Ash Wednesday and a baseball game. ¬†This guy was famous for trying to get the kids to participate in his homilies, asking a shit ton of questions that made all the teachers cringe as their students shouted out a whole string of ridiculous answers at volumes that nearly shattered the stained glass windows of the church. This time, he asked the kids how they could tell the difference between the “good guys” (the home team) and the “bad guys” (the away team) when they go to a baseball game. ¬†After five excruciatingly long minutes of insane responses, he finally was able to get someone to yell out, “Their uniforms!” ¬†He said that the way you could tell Catholics apart from others on Ash Wednesday is much like how you tell the good guys and the bad guys apart at a baseball game. ¬†He went on to explain that Catholics wear a uniform of ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross, so they’d be able to tell who the “good guys” are all day long. ¬†Slowly, I could see multiple sets of eyes turning towards me and my naked forehead. ¬†Now, keep in mind that I wasn’t supposed to participate in the marking of the ashes since I wasn’t a member of the church, so in turn, to my students, that would mean that I, in fact, was one of the “bad guys.” Awesome. ¬†As if I needed to give my punk-ass eighth graders any more ammunition to use against me! ¬†I was so pissed that I wanted to go smear those damn ashes right off his head and onto his pretty white robe.

¬†¬† ¬† I actually contemplated taking some eye shadow and smudging it above my eyebrows just to get through the day, but I later decided against it. ¬†I knew that I was a damn good person even if I didn’t have a freaking cross drawn on my head. ¬†And thankfully, kids have ridiculously short attention spans, so my students had forgotten about the whole ordeal within minutes of the mass’s ending. ¬†However, it still infuriated me that someone with that kind of authority would choose such a slanted message to present to an audience of young, impressionable minds. ¬†Way to preach that holier than thou attitude, dude. Call me crazy, but I personally think we should be teaching tolerance and acceptance and respect. ¬†The world’s biased enough as it is — do we really need to be adding more fuel to the fire?

Parking Lot Peeves

¬†¬† ¬† People, can we just talk about parking lots for a minute please? ¬†Do you find yourself getting pissy almost each and every time you drive into one? ¬†Do you constantly feel like you’ve pulled into an overcrowded idiot convention? ¬†Well, I sure as hell do. I swear I was ready to get all Kung Fu in the grocery store parking lot over the weekend. ¬†If I’d had a megaphone, I would’ve rolled down my window and told every one of those lolly-gagging a-holes to move outta my damn way. ¬†Honestly, how can you have your head up your ass and still drive a car? ¬†Makes no sense at all. Unfortunately, it seems that the general population has forgotten all about the basic common sense rules of parking lot etiquette:

#1: ¬†If you’re gonna insist on waiting for Grandma Moses to take her sweet time pulling out of the closest parking space to the building, then scoot your freaking car over to the side so that the mile-long line of cars behind you can get around you. ¬†You are not the Queen of Sheeba, and nobody wants to wait on your slow ass to get that prime spot.

#2: ¬†Park your stupid car in between the yellow lines so that I don’t have to worry about you door dinging me when I pull in next to you. ¬†It’s not that hard, and if you can’t do it properly, then maybe you need a refresher course at the DMV.

#3: ¬†Don’t put advertisements on my flipping windshield — whatever shit you’re selling, I’m not buying it. ¬†

#4: ¬†It’s soooo not cool for a non-handicapped person to park in a handicapped spot. ¬†Do you really think the person who’s in a wheelchair’s gonna be ok with you taking his spot cause you just HAD to run into the Starbuck’s real super quick to grab your damn latte?

#5: ¬†Driving like Danica Patrick in the Toys R’ Us parking lot is probably NOT the best idea. ¬†Most people prefer that their offspring not look like little kid roadkill.

#6: ¬†When you’re walking to your car with all your packages, you might not wanna walk SMACK DAB DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING AISLE. ¬†Just a thought.

#7: ¬†If you see that I’m trying to load up my car with a bunch of bags AND two small children, you might just wanna find another spot to wait on cause I’m probably gonna be a while. ¬†You sitting there glaring at me with your turn signal on is only gonna irritate me. ¬†And laying on your horn is most certainly NOT gonna make me speed up. ¬†In fact, I may do the exact opposite just for meanness.

#8: ¬†Take your damn cart back to the cart corral when you’re finished with it. ¬†Don’t even think about leaving it in the empty parking space next to yours simply because you’re too stinkin’ lazy to walk it ten paces over to the cart corral.

#9: ¬† If you see that someone’s backing out of a parking space, how ’bout you wait a tiny second and allow them to back out? ¬†Zooming around them on two wheels is not gonna get you anywhere faster. ¬†

And #10, THE GOLDEN RULE: ¬†Do not, I repeat, DO NOT steal someone else’s parking space!

Facing One’s Fears

    

     Two years ago, my husband and I were vacationing with friends in Mexico when he came damn close to drowning.  It was an experience that literally rocked us to the very core and has haunted him ever since.  Upon returning to the scene of the crime during our Cabo trip last week, he felt compelled to write about the ordeal and how he finally conquered his fears:

Today I returned to the place. THE place where I was moments from meeting my maker. It was far from pleasant in one of the world’s most picturesque locations.

I was stupid, wrecklessly so. I was body surfing where no one should. It’s called Divorce Beach. And, numerous people said “don’t swim there.” All seemed like lore and not applicable to ME. I mean WTF? I can swim, right? Besides, I was bored. I’m not much for laying in the sun; so, I thought i’d just play around in the waves a bit.

BIG MISTAKE.

I owe my life to two friends (via my wife – Kent & Guy, I owe you forever) and a few locals from Cabo San Lucas. After +5 min of struggling in a killer undertow, people realized I was in trouble.

I can confirm when you think you are going to die, your life flashes before your eyes. But it wasn’t just that – future moments flashed before me. Watching my son’s first touchdown, seeing my daughter getting married, my 50 year anniversary to my lovely and loving wife. It sucked. Worst moment of my life until… 4 guys grasping hands in a human chain trying to reach me were obliterated by an 8 ft wave.

I now believed I would be responsible for not only ending my own life but that of others as well. No contest – worst 30 seconds of my existence. I count my lucky stars that each one of those heroic men popped back up – mainly because I didn’t want to be the cause of their demise but also because they eventually pulled me from the torture I endured.

Today I returned to that beautiful spot. I had a little apprehension, but I do believe I’m smarter for the experience. I wanted to replace that memory with a far better one.

While I don’t think you can ever replace a near death experience, I gave it my damnest today. I barked with sea lions, I marvelled at larger than life whales, I was surrounded by schools of colorful fish, and I floated on those same currents that anonymously and without malice wanted my last breath two years ago.

It was pure joy. I’m alive. I love my kids, my wife and my life. And now when I look upon that iconic symbol of vacationing in Mexico, I can reflect on lessons learned AND good times had.

Reality Bites

     

¬†¬† ¬† Ever feel like you’ve been chewed up and spit out by a garbage disposal? ¬†Or sucker-punched by that crazy son of a bitch Mike Tyson? ¬†Or knocked around all over the place like a damn hockey puck? ¬†If so, then you can commiserate with me and my post-vacation jolt into reality. ¬†If not, then you suck, and I might claw your eyes out to steal your secret to inner peace and happiness.

¬†¬† ¬† We’ve all heard that term, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” ¬†And this saying could not ring more true for parents of small children who return home from a kid-free vacation. ¬†It’s like the short people feel the need to make up for lost time and put on their very WORST behavior all for your benefit. You come back all relaxed and smiley and dreaming about guacamole, and then < WHAM! > all hell breaks loose right before you. ¬†They’re fighting, they’re whining, they’re total pains in the asses. ¬†Their new favorite hobby seems to be driving you up a freaking tree. ¬†

¬†¬† ¬† And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the half-pints appear to have conspired with the dog, cause he, too, has decided to poop all over your parade. ¬†He’s biting every inch of your ass, he’s eating everything from crayons to report cards, and he’s on his way to being auctioned off to the first person to make an offer. ¬†You truly wonder if Satan himself possessed the water supply while you’re gone, because it seems as if your entire family has been demonized.

¬†¬† ¬† Then there’s the toppling towers of mail and laundry that have accumulated in your absence. ¬†It’s as if every piece of junk mail in the entire universe somehow made its way into your mailbox within the span of just a few days. ¬†And you can’t help but speculate if the neighbors decided to dump all their dirty clothes into YOUR hampers while you were away. ¬†Getting either of these piles to disappear seems even more impossible than getting Paris Hilton to wear underwear.

¬†¬† ¬† Unfortunately, as much as you try to fight it, the overwhelming feeling of reality absolutely takes over that relaxed vacation feeling you had just days ago. ¬†And before you know it, your happy-go-lucky vibe is replaced with your usual get-me-the-eff-outta-here vibe. ¬†Life and all its frustrations makes your get-away feel like light years ago. ¬†Maybe that’s why we appreciate those rare opportunities so much. ¬†I’m already jonesin’ for the next one.

Crazy In Cabo

¬†¬† ¬† Ahh, vacation. ¬†There’s nothing like getting far, far away to a beautiful place like Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in the dead of winter. ¬†A girl could really get used to sipping mango margaritas, lounging by the pool, and waking up to views like this every day:

¬†¬† ¬† To me, one of the great things about going on vacation is meeting new people. ¬†And in a party place like Mexico, you’re bound to come across your fair share of crazy characters. ¬†I was particularly fond of this group of super young thangs who told me over and over and over again that I, too, looked like I was in my twenties:

Sure they may have done one too many tequila shots, but I was very appreciative of the compliment, nonetheless. ¬†(What can I say — I’m a sucker for flattery.)

¬†¬† ¬† And then there was the group of dudes my husband dared me to get a picture with at the Nowhere Bar. ¬†They were dressed in overalls and ski goggles and stuck out like sore thumbs. ¬†I wasn’t sure if they were farmers or snowboarders, but they were certainly willing to play along with me. ¬†Not only did they agree to pose with me, but they also decided to boost me into the air like I was Madonna in the “Material Girl” video:

¬†¬† ¬† And given that it’s Mexico, clothes are often a little more than just revealing. ¬†Some people even like to get jiggy with it and take that concept to a whole new level. ¬†For instance, check out this guy chillin’ with a beer at the Happy Ending bar:

¬†¬† ¬† By far, though, the most incredibly bizarre individual we encountered was a dude who was a dead ringer for Santa Claus. ¬†I never in my life thought I’d witness old man Kringle guzzle jello shots and hump a sombrero on a dance floor. ¬†It would scar my kids for life if they saw this picture of the North Pole wonder giving my friend a lap dance:

 

Really, does it get much better than that? ¬†I would say my friend’s gonna have a VERY good Christmas this year. ¬†I was so grateful for all the laughs, that I had to kiss the upside down man on the sign out in front of the bar:

¬†¬† ¬† And what fun would a vacation be without a little pole dancing? ¬†Good thing our friends at El Squid Roe had one ready and waiting for us to take a little spin. ¬†You know what they say, friends who pole dance together, stay together. ¬†(At least that’s what we told ourselves that night, anyway):

     However, night after night of tequila will inevitably catch up with you.  I felt like Jose Cuervo himself had possessed my body.  Could this sign have summed it up any better?

¬†¬† ¬† It was such a refreshing change of pace to get away from all my responsibilities and let loose for a few days. ¬†It helped me to remember that I’m not just a mom and a chef and a taxi driver and a maid. ¬†No worries, though, cause my kids made sure to remind me of all the fun I’d been missing here at home by throwing a tantrum or two to pull me right outta my Mexican state of bliss. ¬†Adios, vacation zen. ¬†It was nice knowing ya….

Chores That Can Bite Me

¬†¬† ¬† I know there are some cuckoo freaks of nature out there who actually get off on doing housework, but I am most certainly not one of them. ¬†In fact, there are several household chores that just make me wanna jam a hot poker stick in my eye. ¬†I’m sure I could create a pretty lengthy list if I had the energy, but I don’t, so here are the ones I detest the most: ¬†unloading the dishwasher, folding the laundry, and emptying the trash.

¬†¬† ¬† In our house, the dishwasher fills up pretty quickly. ¬†And it doesn’t help that my kids somehow end up using 50 different cups throughout the course of a day either. ¬†It’s like they completely overlook the fact that they already have 5 cups sitting on the counter RIGHT NEXT TO THE FREAKING FRIDGE when they get out yet another stinkin’ cup for water. ¬†So, in turn, we end up having to run the dishwasher pretty much every single day, and unfortunately, all those clean dishes haven’t learned to put themselves away quite yet. ¬† And this is where my hatred comes in. ¬†For most people, this might not be such a big deal, but for me, I’ve got to try to block the dog from getting in the dishwasher and licking every damn fork, knife and spoon that he can get his tongue on. ¬†What’s the point of cleaning the dishes at all if this little shit-eater’s just gonna end up french-kissing all of them in the long run? ¬†

¬†¬† ¬† And then we have the laundry, that never-ending pile of poison that multiplies by the second. ¬†I often wonder if my kids are bringing home their friends’ clothes for me to wash, because I honestly don’t know where it all comes from. ¬†The separating, the stain treating, the folding — it all just sucks ass. ¬†I end up having to split up the whole process into more do-able stages, just to keep from purposely suffocating myself with dryer sheets. ¬†The final stage of the process, the putting away phase, always ends up to be a lesson in procrastination. ¬†The longer it sits there staring at me to put it away, the more I feel like it’s telling me to kiss its Downy fresh ass. ¬†And by the time I finally do get around to putting it all in its rightful place, there’s a whole new mountain of dirties to tackle once again. ¬†It. Never. Freaking. Ends. ¬†

¬†¬† ¬† Finally, the third chore that absolutely makes my nose hairs stand on end is the trash. ¬†This is mostly because we are one trashy family. ¬†It’s like we’re constantly running out of shit at the EXACT SAME TIME. ¬†How does that even happen? ¬†Do the orange juice, milk, Cocoa Puffs, AND waffles all have a little pow-wow and decide to meet up in the trash at 8 a.m. or something? ¬†And once they do all congregate in that can, there’s not a whole lot of room for anything else to fit in there. ¬†It’s like trying to fit a family of eight into a Smart Car. ¬†I’m thinking a trash compactor would totally make my life a lot easier. But since I don’t actually have a compactor, I have to do a whole lot of smashing. ¬†You see, I’ll do anything to avoid having to take it out to the alley because that is a task I’ve delegated to the Mr.

¬†¬† ¬† Unfortunately, as much as I loathe these three things, I’ve come to realize that I have no choice but to suck it up and do ’em anyway. ¬†I know for a fact that neither my husband nor my kids would ever even bat an eye if none of these things were ever done again. ¬†They’d eat with their fingers if all the silverware was dirty, they’d turn their underwear inside out if their clothes weren’t clean, and they’d turn the kitchen floor into an oversized dumping ground if the trash was never emptied. ¬†They’d end up on some bizarre E! reality show and be known as the Nucking Futs Pigs. ¬†What a legacy for me to leave behind, huh?

     ** SO WHAT HOUSEHOLD CHORES MAKE YOU WANT TO DRINK A GALLON OF BLEACH JUST TO GET OUT OF THEM??? **