Tuesday, August 24, 2010

30 Things I’ve Managed to Accomplish by 30

On this Holy Day of 2010, your one and only favorite blogger is turning 30. (No, not that one - me, damn it!) And so, for my big day, I’ve decided to make you all a list. A fabulous list of 30 Grand Life Accomplishments that I’ve succeeded in completing, all in less than 30 years.

1- Lived happily in four distinct regions of the US. A non-accomplishment but what I’m saying is I’m not one of those bitchers and whiners constantly complaining about something that’s "just not like [enter home state here]" and I’m damn proud of it.

2- Got a darn good degree from a darn good university that I’ve actually gone on to use. Ha! That’s a good one.

3- Without racking up huge student loan bills. (Despite depleting the savings I had solely because my father died so young…but hell, that IS what it was there for.)

4- While there, wrote several essays and a couple short stories in a foreign language. Even if I couldn’t begin to PRETEND to read them now, I still did it.

5- Found a career I like (most of the time), using the degree I actually got (it’s a science job and science is the degree and even if it’s not biochemistry/chemistry, you all don’t know any better), AND I’m actually good at. Most of the time.

6- Found myself somewhat accomplished in said career, including a first author paper that was featured on the cover of the kinda good journal it was published in! (Even if I am destined to never be fully respected as I do not have a PhD, STILL.)

7- Not yet really regretted not getting my PhD. Most of the time.

8- Drank beyond my limit enough times to learn my limit. Until I got pregnant and had a kid and even the idea of tolerance flew completely out the window, at which point one sip was beyond my tolerance, which doesn't seem to be enough to preclude me from accepting drinks from a cute guy at a bachelorette party, even if I did already tell him I was married, and learning all over again, ten years later, what drinking WAY beyond one’s limit really means. But that’s beside the point. I learned it when it was important.

9- Never been fired (despite #8). And while they might have been contemplating firing me at Round Table Pizza back in college, they were contemplating firing everyone all the time – and either way, I quit before they could make up their minds. Besides, that barely counts as a job at all.

10- Saved a life. Well, no, okay, probably not.  But I rode around in an ambulance in the middle of the night with reflective tape declaring “EMT” on my back and got pissy that I’d been woken up AGAIN, as a VOLUNTEER, for a darn stomachache, but I’m sure someone thinks maybe I was some help to them and that’s an accomplishment, right?

11- Managed to remain (mostly) on speaking terms with my entire family, despite me being me and them being…them.

12- Birthed one beautiful baby boy and have grown half way to completion a baby girl and despite this not actually being something I really had anything to do with and being something hundreds of morons do every day, I’m still calling it an accomplishment.

13- AND I did the whole birthing thing with NO drugs the first time around. Granted it wasn’t really my idea, well, no I had that idea BEFOREHAND, but no one knows what the hell they’re talking about beforehand...point being, if I’d had the opportunity during the whole shindig, I would have shot MYSELF up with an epidural, chance of paralysis be damned, but either way, I did it all naturally and that’s an accomplishment.

14- Maintained a few good lasting friendships and a shit ton of Facebook-worthy friends. We all know how much I love Facebook, and Facebook just wouldn’t be Facebook without the 400 friends.

15- Not created (to my knowledge) any lasting enemies. If you know otherwise, just don’t tell me till tomorrow, k?

16- Not killed or physically maimed anyone who may have become a short term or long term enemy, despite any inclination I may have had to do so. With my temper, this is definitely an accomplishment.

17- Managed to get two men to fall desperately enough in love with me to marry me, and only one regretted it. So far.

18- Got divorced before the VAST majority of my friends had even gotten married. Or engaged. Wait, is that an accomplishment? Right, I got that whole “starter marriage” crap out of the way, so you know, that was nice. And learned how the court systems work in three different states along the way! And how shitty divorce really is, in all three states. (Only got divorced in one state, geez, can’t you follow me here, people?) K, let’s just call this an accomplishment and move on.

19- Broken a heart. Or two. Or ten. And had my heart broken back once or twice. Or, more like a dozen times. I like to know the variables on these things.

20- Racked up massive credit card debt (I blame the ex) AND managed to pay it all off again so I have none today. It’s the accomplishment we’re concerned with here folks. If I hadn’t had the debt, I couldn’t have paid it off, now could I have?

21- Actually maintained a savings account that is (finally) staying above the monthly minimum, AND not only that, is increasing! By like, at least $1.27 a month!

22- Begun a retirement fund that would allow me to live somewhere other than the local underpass for my final years…so long as I keep adding to it for the next 50 years or so… and the cost of living doesn’t excessively spike…and the stock market doesn’t crash…again…

23- Started a college fund for my little boy. He’s GUARANTEED to be able to attend at LEAST one semester of college, TOTALLY covered. (Besides books, supplies, rent and probably food.) Totally covered.

24- Bought a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood with a mortgage that is actually affordable and I absolutely love. And better always love, because according to my sweet and loving and supportive husband, if I ever want to move again, he’ll kill me.

25- Maintained good (albeit not always great) credit throughout it all. Obama thinks it’s an accomplishment.

26- Gone parasailing despite my fear of heights, ridden a motorcycle despite my fear of speed, constantly tried new things despite my fear of failure AND, most importantly of all, ridden my bike to work daily (in the warm-ish months) despite my ENORMOUS fear of an untimely death by a big rig while biking to work one sunny summer morning.

27- Realized my massive personality flaws (at least a couple of them) and vaguely attempted to do something about them, which never really worked because my biggest flaw is being so damned stubborn even I can’t get through to myself.

28- Ran two marathons and one half-marathon and didn’t do too terribly at them, even if I never will win my age bracket. Or the 65 plus age bracket who always has some hippy-type crazy runners thrown in just to piss people like me off, usually running barefoot as an added insult.

29- Wrote a novel. I haven’t done anything with it, but hey, I wrote it. There’s gotta be something left for the next 30 years, you know.

30- Created a STELLAR blog with even MORE stellar followers. ‘Cause I’m awesome.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ask and Ye Shall Receive...Occasionally

Here’s the thing. When you’re having your first baby, (especially if first baby happens to be the first grandchild cubed, and the first great-grandchild quadrupled), you barely have to spit out the “p-word” before the gifts start rolling in. Everybody and their brother and their brother’s mother is excited for you. Everybody wants to give you something.

The gifts range from the extreme (a couple hundred bucks worth of goods from some distant friend of the family whom neither of you have ever met) to the extremely heartfelt (knitted homemade blankets and croqueted homemade blankets and quilted homemade blankets…and throw in a knitted bonnet or two for variety…) When I finally stopped counting I believe the Energizer Bunny had 14 homemade blankets, including the one I naively chose to labor hours and days and weeks over myself before realizing it would be joined in the laundry basket coated in spit up and by a permanent smell only a mother could love, by 13 other equally heartfelt and quite possibly better constructed homemade blankets, 17 brand-new store bought blankets and 12 hand-me down blankets. Not to say I don’t love every one. Of course I do. There are just a lot… Because a lot of people care. A lot of people are excited. And everyone wants you to know.

In stark contrast, there’s the poor neglected second pregnancy. You know, it’s not like no one cares, it’s just they ALREADY told you this. They already tossed you a couple hundred bucks for your first baby and they still haven’t even seen the kid. They already spent hours and days and weeks pouring love into a teeny tiny baby blanket that you so carelessly allowed to be spit upon and chewed on and torn at the seam and in the measly, pitiful three months that you actually bothered to use the beautiful creation in which they weaved a tiny piece of their soul, you only managed to get one picture of it in use (out of the 15327 pictures you took…after all, it was your first baby) and that can only mean you really didn’t FULLY appreciate the amount of effort and love put into the homemade blanket to begin with… So why the hell would they make another one? Why the hell would they buy another gift?

Fact is, they won’t. But it’s not that they don’t care. They do. It’s just maybe not quite as much. And even if they did care as much (which they don’t, not quite, no matter what they say), you’ve still GOT all the shit from the first one. What could you possibly want? Much less need?
But I DOOOO want things. And NEED things. No, really. Desperately need. All right, not a desperate need like an air conditioner in the Sahara Desert but more like a desperate need for a raise when your bills are already covered, you’ve got plenty of food on your table and you’re putting 10% in savings, just not enough for all the fun things you want to do. So you know, good ol’ fashioned American desperation for more stuff.

But we’re not going to be able to buy EVERY thing we (and by we I mean the baby and by the baby I mean mostly me) desperately need. And there’s no politically correct baby shower for the second baby. There aren’t oodles of friends to buy us oodles of things so we don’t have to spend every penny we’ve managed to save in the last three years on all the new desperate needs that we have (which is approximately 5 pennies anyway.)

So we asked. Against my better judgment, we put a politically incorrect not-quite-request out for more desperately needed shit. Hoping, hoping, hoping, that maybe we’d really get some of it. That someone would care just enough to fill in one or two of the huge gaping gaps in our already overstuffed nursery.

And someone did.

The most fantastic Female PILL ever (and most of us either have one, had one or are one, and let's face it, there still aren't many we can call fantastic) bought the fantastically overpriced (but new! and exciting! and patented…) sit-n-stand stroller for the second child. This baby will be overjoyed to know that her paternal grandmother really did care that there was yet ANOTHER baby coming along. At least she’ll know there’s one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Guilt Trip in a Nutshell

My little family recently had the vast and undeniable pleasure of being secluded in the middle of nowhere, in a tiny cabin, with no recognizable escape, with my mother – The Walking Guilt Trip, and my brother – The Mooch. Now, to clarify, this is a family “reunion” of sorts – in which the brother who lives with me, and the mother who lives 4 miles from me are confined to even smaller quarters, while the sister who lives 3000 miles away and therefore might be enjoyable to see for at least 57 seconds has backed out.

For my part of the duties while isolated in the wilderness with said loving relations, I had the joy and pleasure of doing something completely new and exciting. Cooking. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. New. And exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking. It’s just, you know…vacation… (please add sufficiently annoying whiny voice.)

Standing in the kitchen while the chitlins splashed and played in the lake and on the boats, I slaved away at yet another meal.

The Walking Guilt Trip, needing to pee, enters said kitchen through the side deck door. Perhaps some of her own guilt trippage slipped into her beverage that morning, because on return to the fun area of life, she asks, “Could I help with anything?” While her swimsuit drips on my toes.

This is quite an unusual offering. I internally debate my options. Deny her and be made to feel ungrateful for everything she has offered and provided throughout the years? Or accept and have to hear how she “helped cook” all week, and probably all year, long? I chose the latter.

There’s some bacon to crumble and chives to chop over there if you want. Otherwise, I think I’m fine.”

She stares at me with that blank stare of hers while I pretend to ignore her and contentedly cut my tomatoes.

Without a word, she walks off and organizes her stuff in the living room.

When she returns, she watches me put my cute little tomato cubes on bread slices for a minute or two. “Do you need help with that?”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

You’ll Thank Me Someday

One beautiful sunny morning I am happily singing along in the kitchen to show tunes or something equally cheesy, cheerfully chopping veggies and spices for our crock-pot dinner so I won’t spend the gorgeous evening hours cooped inside cooking and yet my perfect little family will still have a fantastic home-cooked meal made by none other than me.

As lucky as I am to be blessed with such a loving and wonderful family, and home, and food, and summer (and any other crap you can add to the list) let’s not forget I am also lucky enough to be joyfully pregnant. And by pregnant, I, in this case, really mean immunosuppressed. ‘Cause that’s right folks, I’ve gotten every fuc*ing illness you can think of in the past 19 weeks, 6 days and 8 hours.

So I’m happily chopping away at a jalapeno or two, singing a show tune or two, when, not surprisingly at all, my nose begins to twitch. To quiver. To, maybe, just a little bit, run. My memory SWEARS to me I finished the chopping, tossed the jalapenos in the slow-cooker, rinsed my hands and grabbed a tissue from the bathroom.

But I’ve been known to suppress a memory or two.

Back in the kitchen, I move on to the green peppers. Chop, chop, chop. ABBA song lyric.

My nose twitches again. My first thought? A simple “stupid runny nose.” And then, the twitch became more of an itch…maybe a little bit of a sting. Maybe even a burn. And before I had time to wonder “What the FU*K?” My eyes were watering from the searing pain of what could only be a jalapeno acid burn.

Shit, shit, shit.

I rinse with water. Repeatedly. Soap. Up my nose. As much as I can get. No effect.

Finally, in desperation, and I could only ever admit something like this in a most desperate form of desperation, I yell to the Unsupportive Louse a demand for cures possibly including a burst of offensive language. Completely unlike me.

He suggests vinegar. Vinegar, he claims, neutralizes lye burns. Lye and jalapeno might, perhaps, maybe, possibly, be in the same category. Kinda. I hastily pour half a bottle of distilled vinegar up my nose. As if the Unsupportive Louse planned it, the burn instantly INTENSIFIES. Beyond belief.

I further swear at the louse and demand information from the internet, a clearly more reliable source. Google knows everything.

While I await his quite pointedly unhurried web search, I have an epiphany. Baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate. Used in undergraduate chemistry laboratories across the country to neutralize the pH of countless solutions before pouring the shit down the drain. This is a BRILLIANT idea.

I expeditiously make a paste through my pain. Shove it up my nose. Gag, snort, sneeze. And realize the burn has decreased NOT AT ALL.

Most of these pages just say to avoid getting the oil on your skin to begin with.” My very, very, very helpful husband calls from the other room where he has yet to push his ass up out of his lazy-boy, not even to reach for his laptop. I feel the concern oozing from his every pore.

I’m quite certain I called him a name or two.

Unfazed, he patiently waits for my tirade to end before lackadaisically mentioning, “Wait, this one says to try milk. Maybe?”

There is just no easy way to pour a gallon jug of milk into your nose. With yet another Einstein-ian idea I fill a bowl full and dunk half my face in. I come up sputtering, dripping, gasping for breath. And still breathing fire.

My only hope is to inflict serious injury on the Unsupportive Louse in order to decrease my own pain. I swear it works. It’s kind of like voodoo.

So I storm to the living room imagining the various instruments I can torture him with, visualize myself dumping the whole crockpot on his head – imagine where the jalapenos might land! Because misery truly does love company.

Not even aware his very life is threatened, he barely saves himself with just one more suggestion. “This person swears by sour cream.”

At first, the thought of shoving sour cream up my nose only makes me want to cause him greater agony and torment. But you can only imagine someone else’s pain to decrease your own for so long and the very fibers of my nose were shouting, screaming, pleading to be helped. And so I did it. I tried one last thing. I thrust some sour cream up my nose.

Relief. Sweet, sweet, instantaneous relief.

And so, my friends, one day, when you have been negligent enough to chop a jalapeno pepper (or worse!) without wearing your rubber gloves…and if, by chance, you carelessly rub a more sensitive area of skin with the tiniest tip of a finger before you thoroughly wash away the oil, you, on that day, will thank me. On that day, you will never be happier to force sour cream up your nose.

I say in advance: You’re welcome.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Whacha Makin?

Some days…okay, every day…when the Mooch saunters lazily into the kitchen, conveniently (and completely uncomplicitly) catching me in the middle of dinner preparations and asks, “What’s for dinner?” I really just want to yell, “None of your god-damned business!”

Which is completely at odds with the nice little family scene that will take place at the kitchen table just 20 minutes from then when we all sit down with our cloth napkins and calmly ask each other, one and all, “How was your day?” and considering he will, indeed, be eating said meal-in-preparation with us and it therefore, maybe a little bit, IS kind of his business.

So, why, I ask myself, do I still have this overwhelming NEED to curse him out of my kitchen? A part of it is more obvious – that he makes little contribution to the household and if he’s lucky enough to get a homemade dinner to eat, he’d better just shove it and eat without complaining.

But, unfortunately, I must tell you, this is only a small part of my reasoning I discovered during my deep soul-searching.

For the other part, I can only blame my mother. You see, the other part is my concern, my worry, my FEAR that, perhaps, just perhaps, my big brother won’t actually LIKE what I’m making for dinner. That he won’t APPROVE of my choice.

I’m concerned that my older brother, who lives with his little sister, in her house, with her husband and kids, might not approve of my meal.

That my big brother who leaves my good wedding china in his room until the food is dried and caked on so effectively that it has to soak for days before it comes off might not like what I’m cooking.

That the mooch who makes a bigger mess around his plate than our 3-year old every night and has never once, in two years, cleaned a single dish* much less the table, might dislike my choices.

That my big brother who quits jobs and avoids new ones like they’re STDs** might disapprove of ME.

That my big brother who never bothers cleaning up those nasty little pubic hair looking shaving remnants from around the sink, who goes for weeks without using toothpaste because he forget to write it on MY grocery list and couldn’t possibly buy any himself (because, after all, he didn’t NEED to go to the store in all that time), who misses the bowl and blames it on the toilet leaking might be judging ME.

This kind of concern can only be blamed on the guilt trippage of my mother (as clearly, all things must be blamed on SOMEONE). And I believe I lived with my mother far too long for therapy. I am beyond all help.

* he does occasionally claim to “do the dishes” which involves him putting (generally without rinsing) his own single plate and possibly his glass as well into the dishwasher. He has not yet once started the dishwasher, nor has he put any dishes away to my memory.

**did you know they’re called STIs now??