Monday, February 25, 2013

My Husband Says I Don't Know How to Take a Day Off

This tale is about how I suck at taking a day off.  I can't just take a straight-up, lollygagging, do-nothing day off.  You need proof?  On my most recent day off, I had my annual-ish visit with the dermatologist.

I don't have cystic acne or a volcanic port wine stain or anything about that.  Nah. I'm just pale. I've told you about my translucent skin, yeah?  I am of Irish heritage. Actually, based on the road map of visible veins that run over my body, I think may be of vampiric Irish heritage. Which should totally make me cool with the kids* right?

So, anyway, we all know that milky skin definitely needs to be watched by a medical doctor.  Especially when it encases a dummy who scored about four massive, blistering sunburns per year from the ages of twelve through twenty-four.  I own that those sunburns were my fault.  Kids that age should not have to be told, 'Hey, pasty goon, put on some sunblock.'

At about 4:15 p.m. on my day off, I'm sitting on an exam table, fashionably dressed in a paper gown, awaiting the arrival of the inimitable Dr. C.

Have you ever endured one of these things? These skin exams?  It's not as invasive as an pap smear, but the scrutiny! This, though, seems WORSE than an OB/GYN visit.  Why?  BECAUSE THE DOCTOR IS WEARING A MAGNIFYING GLASS ON HER HEAD.  

Nothing (by which I mean everything) is more awesome than standing in the middle of an exam room, clutching a glorified paper towel to your bosom, while an Asian woman wearing headgear like Ray from 'Ghostbusters,' presses calipers to your backside to measure a mole.

Also, here's a thing I haven't learned yet:  how do you make small-talk with your doctor about your kids when she is carefully examining your side-boob?  Suggestions, interwebs?  I'm all ears.

At the end of the exam, she said that she didn't detect anything, that I should keep SPF'ing it up, and that I should slather my kids in sunblock and SPF t-shirts. Which I do. So, score for me. 

Now, let me drop a little knowledge on you: Dr. C. cautioned me to keep an eye on any moles and ick that might appear on the back of my legs. Because, apparently, that's how melanoma likes to erupt on 30+ ladies --via the backs so of their legs.  Sneaky, sneaky melanoma.

She also asked me if I could check myself out, or, if anyone else could. 'Cause nothing says romance like, "Hey, honey, could you inspect me for cancerous moles?"

For my next day off, I just might do something even more awesome, like clean out the garage.

*By kids, I mean fans of Twilight, who are mostly Mom-teens**, yes?
**Mom-teens are women who have teenage children and love the 'Twilight' series for some weird reason

Monday, February 18, 2013

Flames and Lasers Coming Out of My Face

Typically, long weekend = opportunity for non-routinized, enjoyable shenanigans, yes? Saturday entailed the normal stuff (workouts, groceries, dance class).  And, slightly outside of the norm, Saturday also included a candlelit date night at a local colonial-era inn that I am sure was peopled by ghosts.  Spiritual activity aside, I recommend the cheese plate. And the cream of crab soup.  Oh, sweet Deity, I recommend anything that the Elkridge Furnace Inn has to offer. My husband insists that you try the blackberry chocolate ice cream.

Okay, then, Sunday = SPONTANEITY. I elected to skip church (don't worry, I'll confess it during some Lenten guilt-o-rama) in favor of SCIENCE! Some would consider this ironic. I am one who subscribes to the notion that the mathematical perfection of everything MUST mean it was contrived by a Higher Being.

I could be wrong. But, whatevs. Doesn't really change much about how I conduct myself.

Yeah, so we went to the Maryland Science Center in downtown Baltimore. We are Members, which means for the low, low price of $120 per year, we get to crash their indoor playroom and rock it out in the Davis Planetarium as many times as we want. (Tip: three, six, and eight-year-olds LOVE the Sesame Street One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure.) The best part of the Membership? We EZ-pass it past the plebeians. Woot! Nothing makes you feel like you've arrived more than being able to jump a line.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, to show you that we treat our kids to fun stuff, like, ALL THE TIME.  This way, you'll judge me less when I talk about today.

President's Day. A day to honor the service of the leaders of our nation.  We respect this day. I mean, jeez, my eldest boy shares a name with at least three presidents. My husband's a civil servant. We're big on honoring the gubment 'round these parts.

Anyway, I decided to take my older two children to 'Escape from Planet Earth.'  It's the first kids' movie to come out in ages. Since it was only 32 degrees today, our rampant-kid-energy-burn options were limited. It was either the movies or the mall, and God help me, I could not stomach the mall on a civic holiday that's been turned into a commercial discount smorgasbord.

I like to prep my children re: my expectations of them. The ONLY stipulations for this afternoon's entertainment were that (a) they needed to get themselves dressed in a timely manner, and that (b) they needed to brush their teeth and hair. My darling daughter, well, she has semi-long hair, and had not brushed it thoroughly in a day and a half. I knew this would be a chore for her, but as mentioned, there was ample warning that we'd need to tame the nest.

Forty-five minutes prior to departure time, I sent them up to get dressed. They both dawdled. We were in danger of missing the movie. The hair? Not so much an issue for the Boy, even though he is currently sporting a Beatles-esque mop-top. He can still run a comb through it lickety-split. But the Girl? The Girl has issues.  So, I brushed her hair. And I brushed it hard. There were knots, and there were also ridiculous amounts of tears and screaming.

You would think that tears streaming form the eyes of my darling daughter, my only girl, my blue-eyed, flaxen-haired blessing, would inspire sympathy in me.

You would be wrong.

In my head, I am screaming, SCREAMING, that this child is the agent of her own problems. She loves long hair, wants long hair, but doesn't want to care for it. YES, she is six. But, come ON. How many times do I have to explain that long hair = needs to be brushed daily = knots when you don't brush daily?

Instead of screaming, though, I brush vigorously, taking care not to hurt more than I have to (but not particularly worrying if there's some discomfort). I mean, we have to get to the movie on time, right? It's not fair to my oldest boy if he misses part of the movie because of his sister's hair issues?

So there are tears, and yelling, and shoving into coats and out of the house, into the car...  Then. on the way to the theater, my girl-child kept crying, wailing, about her grooming.  The word 'unfair' was used about eleventy times between my driveway and the tippy-top of our street.

I slammed on the brakes (no one was around, I checked). I turned, and erupted, "ENOUGH!" I saw space and time shift before me, melting under the flames of my crazed shouty anger.


"You keep using the word 'unfair!' Clearly, you think 'unfair' means you don't get what you want, when you want it, and how you want it. That's not what 'unfair' means. You are acting greedy, and unappreciative. Do you know how many movies I got to see when I was your age?"

"None?" she answered.

"That's right!" I shouted. Hrmph. I had clearly shared this information before. "NONE. When I was in first grade, my school took us on a field trip to see 'The Aristocats.' Other than that, my older brothers and sisters would take us to see movies every once in a while. I just want you to be grateful, and not act like a brat."

Silence. Silence and more silence on the five-minute drive to the theater.  We arrived, bought our tickets and snacks, and settled in for a mediocre kids movie.

All was fine by the end of the movie. All was forgiven; both the ridiculous resistance to grooming and the ridiculous overreaction to the resistance.

I don't really have any perspective on this. No wisdom to be found here.  My kid pushed my buttons, and I lost it. But I still did the fun thing, not wanting to punish all of my kids for the ridiculousness of one of them.

Mostly, I guess, I wanted to offer this:  it's typical for a kid to know how to needle you in just the right way to get you to explode. And you will explode.  I don't care if you had to barter your soul and a million dollars to bear or acquire your precious blessing.  They will, mark my words, turn you into a person so foreign to you, so rippling with anger and frustration that  you are temporarily convinced that you are a bad person.

Here's the thing, though:  in those moments, you realize the depth of your love for these children, because if anyone else treated you this way, God damn, you would throat punch them.

I swear, everyone was giggling about fifteen minutes after the tears threatened to breach the levees. Families are all slightly insane, right?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

I Ran a 5K This Morning So I Am Probably a Pod Person

If you don't know what a pod person is, hie thee hence: Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I'll wait for you.

By the way, I watched that movie on TV with my Dad when I was a sick eight-year-old.  I must write a post at some point about all of the inappropriate movies my parents let me watch in my formative years. Honestly, I know way more about '80's action movies than any woman should.

Yeah, so, I've been in Orlando, Florida for a work conference.  Good people, good work, none of which I will tell you about.  One of my co-workers does 5Ks and half-marathons* on the regular, and organized one for us here at the resort.  By 'organized,' I mean that she found out they had a 5K route mapped out around the resort, and then set a time for people to run.

On Monday, I walked into the staff breakfast room, and dished some fruit, eggs, and bacon onto my plate.  YES, I still eat bacon.  I just eat two slices instead of twelve.  Anyway, when I got t the end of the buffet line, I saw a poster-sized sign-up sheet for a 5K around the complex.


I've been running like a hamster on the elliptical.  The machine tells me I'm clocking three miles in a half hour .  Three miles is the rough equivalent of a 5K.  Why not try it?

This is where I had tiny identity crisis. Like, a TIA-sized identity crisis, as opposed to a full-blown stroke. I'm not a runner.  I read. I write. I drink copious amounts of coffee.  I take pictures. I fret over implied hurts and insults. I don't spend my Saturday mornings racing adults and posting my running times on Facebook.  I don't get up at pre-dawn hours to feel the wind whipping my hair as I glide across the pavement.

Except...  except...  Maybe I do?  If I'm not a runner, at least maybe I'm a dedicated... Exerciser?  I guess runners always seem to LOVE running.  Me? I don't love it.  At all.  I don't love running, don't love the elliptical, don't like the crunches and planks and push-ups.  (I do like yoga, though.)  

But...  After a workout, I love the satisfied fatigue in my muscles, like they ate a good-sized meal at a fabulous restaurant.  I love the endorphins. I love being strong. And, I gotta be honest, I love the new shape that routine has given me.

I can't imagine going back to sedentary. I feel gross just thinking about it.  I suppose that adds up to evidence that I actually have changed my lifestyle and embraced this whole workout thing.

Which is why, pre-dawn, I met a handful of drowsy co-workers in our hotel lobby, stretched, and hoofed the infinity loop (and trust me, it felt infinite) that wraps around this part of the resort.  Half of our group walked it.  I ran it.  I figured, in for a penny, in for a pound.  My running partner is about a foot taller than me, though, so we kept up a pace that was maybe a bit aggressive for my stumpy stems.  Twenty-seven minutes later, the sun hung red in the horizon, and the whole 5K thing was done.  

I didn't die. I was winded occasionally, but only when I tried to chat while running. (Rookie, right?)

I'm pretty sure that my legs are going to turn to jelly later, though. 

*At what distance does the World of Running switch from metric to English systems of measure?  I mean, there's 5K, 10K, half-marathon (13 miles), and marathon (26 miles).  Should it go 5K, 10K, 21K, and 42K?  I just like consistency, is all.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Overheard and Too Awesome Not to Share

I'm a travellin' gal this week.  For work, not for pleasure.  Though, it is pleasurable to be in warmer climes. EVEN IF it means travelling AWAY from Baltimore and watching the Superbowl with co-workers who are supporting the left coast team.

Side note: I don't know if you heard, BUT BALTIMORE WON!  Yay, team!  And yay for the Boy, who, during the first year of conscientiously supporting a team, just so happened to support a winning team.  Not that it's all about winning.  It's mostly  about sportsmanship. And some winning.

But that's not what this post is about.  NO! This post is about the awesome five minutes of conversation I overheard on the plane today.

So there's me, sitting there, trying to focus on the book I'm reading.  But I can't. This is partially, a teeny-tiny smidgenly bit, due to the fact that digital devices are ruining my ability to remain in one app at a time. It is MOSTLY due to the inane opinions and revelations coming from the woman in back of me.

American Southern Accent Man: I'm originally from Georgia, but I work in Baltimore pretty often.

Woman: We (referring to her mostly-silent husband sitting in the middle seat) lived in Ellicott City for about thirty years, and raised our kids there. But we go to Florida to warm up and just relax. Do you travel much for work?

ASAM: I do. I was recently in Europe.

Woman:  Oh, were you? We've never been. Where would you recommend that someone go, of all of the places you've been in Europe.

ASAM: Honestly, the most beautiful city is Brussels. In Belgium?

Woman: Really?

ASAM:  Yes,. It's just beautiful. They make some really wonderful things there. Chocolate, beer, and waffles.  You walk around, and the whole city just smells like waffles.

Woman: Are they like the waffles here?

ASAM:  No, not really. They do something special there. I don't know what it is, but they are unbelievable.  And the beer...

Woman:  Oh, well, we're total squares. Probably the squarest people you've ever met. Neither one of us has ever had wine, or beer.  I don't know why. We've just never had it.

ASAM:  ......

Woman: What about Paris? Have you ever been there? Would you recommend it?

ASAM:  I have. Let me tell you, the towns and country outside of Paris are beautiful, and the people are wonderful.  Really friendly, and kind.  But in Paris? They hate Americans. Can't stand us. They are generally pretty rude.

Woman:  I don't know what the point of going is, then. You can see it in movies and read about it in books.

ASAM:  ......

Woman:  Would you take your family there?

ASAM:  Oh, sure. If I could afford it, I would love to take my family there, even though, travelling as an American isn't as safe as it use to be.

Woman:  I know! My daughter-in-law and my granddaughter both want to go to Paris. And I said, to her, "Have you seen 'Taken'? I just don't understand why you'd want to travel around like that.

Me: (snickering, desperately wanting to turn around and point out that 'Taken' is not a documentary, but instead burying my nose in my iPad, which kind of hurts when you press the screen against your face that hard.)

ASAM:  ....

And then, somehow, wondrously, the conversation shifted to a food chain problem in the Everglades. According to ASAM, some one went to 'Africa or the Amazon or some damn country' and brought back a hundred pythons, or anacondas, and released them into the Everglades, and now the snakes are taking over the ecosystem.

Woman: Can they kill an alligator?

ASAM: Oh, sure they can.

And that's when, for my own sanity, I had to stop listening.  I actually plugged my fingers into my ears to block out the noise.