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Category: These Disquiet Thoughts

Living the Mundane Life!

 

Mundane Life copy

Popping up across the coasts of Florida, like a lionfish infestation, is an automobile decal that proclaims the owners’ proud participation in the: Salt Life.

These decals taunt me. They wag their tongue and heckle me, “Hey lady, what are you doing on your weekend? Grocery Shopping? Cleaning? Taking kids to T-ball practice? Hahaha. This SUV I’m applied to is getting filled up with gas right now so we can go out on the boat all day… in the Keys. That’s right. My owners spend their exorbitant amount of free time fishing on their boat, and drinking margaritas while listening to Jimmy Buffet.”

I suspect that these bumper stickers are usually more of a wish than a reality, but I feel like they feed our problem of being more interested in giving the impression that we have a perfect, amazing life on Social Media, rather than actively participating in our real life.

I want a bumper sticker that says: Mundane Life. Because that is what my life is: dull, boring, ordinary. My weekends are filled, not with salt (on the rocks) and jet skis, but with the school projects and vacuuming. Sometimes, on a rare Saturday night, I might get taken out to a restaurant where kids eat free. YAY!

That’s my life. Not thrilling.

I’ll admit that my exasperation at bullying bumper stickers might be a sign that I am a tired parent.  (Drug free) exciting lives don’t usually involve kids. Dragging children around on adventures makes everything long, tedious and exhausting.

Are you living the Mundane Life? Some other parents offer their view.

You know you a parent who is living the Mundane Life when:

Gregg: Folding laundry for 30 minutes is the most relaxing part of your day.

Kevin: You have to schedule sex.

Jennifer: You don’t notice the constant screeching.

Amy: You now call the restroom the potty.

Jen: You are awake at 6 am on weekends.

Chris: When you wake up in the middle of the night and find a person standing by your bed staring at you, you sigh from frustration instead of screaming in fear.

Jaime: You never, ever pee alone. Ever.

Jenny: Having a boob out while shopping doesn’t get you a cameo on, “People of WalMart.”

Gregg: The one time your kid sleeps in, you have to get up anyway to check that they are breathing.

Gregg: You find yourself saying things your parents said, and swore never to repeat. They seem like great ideas now.

Kevin: You only react to certain types of screams.

Ashley: You hang out in the bathroom for a couple extra minutes just to get some alone time. (Of course, only if you were lucky enough to be in there alone.)

Ricky: You have to tell another human to not put their hands in their mouth after they just put their hands in their poop.

Gregg: You argue over who GETS to go grocery shopping.

Mark: You talk about poop. A lot.

Cash: When you hear another child cry, your first unconscious reaction is not concern, but rather elation because it is not your kid.

Gregg: The song you are humming at work is Barney’s theme song.

Alison: Travel takes 33% longer because of all the stops to feed the kids and use the “potty”.

 

What are the signs that you are living the Mundane Life?

I Wish I Had a Uniform

oldmensignI wish I could wear a uniform every day.

Go ahead and do it[i].

I would, but the weak-minded child inside me thinks that people will talk behind my back.

General Public: “I think she wears the same clothes every day.”

I don’t mind being thought of as uncreative, but I do mind being thought of as dirty.

You shouldn’t worry what others think about you.

I’ve been told that before, but truthfully no one likes to be around someone who doesn’t care what others think…because they are assholes.

If I did wear a uniform, maybe I could put a sign on the back of each shirt that differentiated it. No, not something cheesy like the days of the week. Why? Because what if I put the Thursday shirt on really late Thursday night and then it was basically still clean Friday morning, and to save water I just put the Thursday shirt back on? Huh? What do you think about that? I don’t think you should make comments until you’ve thought them through.

What I’m talking about is a sign that just says, “No, I’m not wearing the same thing as yesterday. This is my uniform.”  

I like signs that answer the questions we all have in our head. I think we need more signs for everything.  I’ve always imagined if I was ever in a wheelchair I would have a big sign right on the back saying “Hit by a teenager who was texting “LOL” to her frienemy.” Below it would say: “Don’t text and drive.” And below that, written smaller, “And don’t drive without insurance. This sign brought to you by Geico.”

Because seriously you have to admit the most awkward part of talking to a stranger in a wheelchair[ii] is trying to concentrate on what they are saying over the screaming questions in your head. What happened? Were you born this way? Are you a Lady Gaga fan? Was it an accident? Was it something stupid you did, or something stupid somebody else did?

I think we need more signs, like bumper stickers saying, “I drive like a wanker because the chemo makes me angry.” I feel like if we understood people’s back story, we would be more compassionate about their behavior. If my kid was ever killed by a drunk driver, (if I publish this that guarantees it will never happen, right? Fingers crossed. 1,000 prayers. Kiss my Saint Nicholas statue.[iii]) I would put a bumper sticker on my car saying, “A drunk driver killed my child.” My sticker would act as a reminder to people of the real consequences of drunk driving. Of course, then I would be probably get rear-ended three times a day by someone crying in their car over my sticker.

On this drunk driving note, have you ever heard Florida’s anti drunk driving slogan “Decide before you drive.”

Decide what?

That is all I think when I see that slogan. What am I deciding? To drink and drive?

Who are you talking to, slogan? Are you asking drunk people to decide if they should drink and drive before they get behind the wheel? Because drunk drivers always decide to drive before they drive.

Or are you talking to sober people before they go out? Decide to not drive under the influence before you leave for the night? I am pretty sure every sober person tells themselves, “I am going to take a cab home tonight.” Three hours later, when they are no longer sober, they say, “Just this one time. I’m ok. I’ll be ok to drive.” And only the next morning, when they are sober again, will they admit, “I really shouldn’t have driven.”

But no matter what you do, you have made a decision. Decide before you drive. Did we pay millions of dollars to come up with this vague statement? Why did we stop saying, Don’t Drink and Drive? How about: Take a Cab.

Maybe the slogan is saying decide on a designated driver before you drive. But then shouldn’t it be, decide before you drink? The problem with designated drivers is they have a tendency to change their mind half way through the night. The only reliable designated drivers are pregnant women.

I think there should be a free taxi cab service that is run by pregnant women. It could be the Zip Car of taxis.  Instead of walking around their houses in the middle of the night cursing at their sleeping husbands, pregnant women all over the country could be out driving drunk people home from bars. They could also hand out condoms and point to their belly and say, “This is what happens when you have sex while intoxicated.”

People would probably be sober by the time they got home, partly because pregnant women drive really slow, and also from the yelling, “Look at me. I’m swollen. I can’t sleep. I’m being kicked in the ribs.” (Hysterical sobbing.) I bet pregnancy rates from one-night-stands would plummet. Yelling Pregnant Woman induced sobriety would also help in case any of these women went into labor and the passengers had to drive her to the hospital.

Decide before you drive. Stupid Florida.

Maybe Floridians should have to wear a sign to identify themselves. “Talk slow, you are speaking to a Floridian.”

Signs could eliminate society’s need to ask stupid questions. Maybe signs should be required:

  • Tall people should have to identify if they play basketball or not.
  • Koreans could identify themselves as not Chinese.
  • Pregnant women could wear a band on their arm.

We could even do it for religions. Jewish people could wear…hey…wait a minute. Delete. Delete. Delete.

I’m not talking about collared shirts and khaki pants here. (Do you see what I just did there: switched back to my original subject of uniforms with no transition? This is wear the kneed for a editor becomes xtremely a parent. Are you anal-retentive and work for free? Call me. 555-867-5309[iv]) No, I am saying I’ll find a flattering style that was popular back when the 1970’s were reinvented in 1991 and just wear that every day. I basically do that anyways.  Hey, this is a different black cotton t-shirt and pair of out-of-style bell bottoms.

Hmm, if only I could let people know that, like on a sign or something.

 



[i] Yes, I am reading Dad is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan. How did you know?

[ii] “Really it’s awkward for you? How about the awkwardness of sitting in a wheel chair forever?” Hey! I just admitted I am a self-obsessed child. What more do you want? Compassion?

[iii] Did you know that Taxi cab drivers have their own saint? Saint Fiacre. I wonder if he looks after pregnant temporary cab drivers. Why do I ask? Keep reading.

[iv] Jenny, I got your number. But I’m serious. I need help. Email me. 

Family Dog Intervention: A Fake Charity that Should be Real

Cruelty

 FAMILY DOG INTERVENTION.ORG

How am I supposed to protect them if I don't howl

They used to never leave the house without me

 

Nothing can compare to the cruelty and humiliation of a dog being demoted from a couple’s first child to just a family dog. 

 

 

Become a Sponsor with FAMILY DOG INTERVENTION.org

HOW WE HELP FAMILY DOGS

Each year millions of dogs go from top dog to sleeping in the doghouse because of the birth of an infant. 350,000 human babies are born into the world each day, and with 44% of American households owning at least one dog, this means about half[i] of those babies go home to a newly neglected dog.

The cruelty will shock you:

  • Many of these canines were accustomed to barking as often as they wanted and now they are nudged in the ribs when they bark at the mailman in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Their whole life they slept in bed with their owners, how are they to adjust to a thin dog bed with zero thread count?
  • They used to get cuddled on demand, now their only physical touch occurs as they are pushed behind baby gates.
  • They go from regular walks at the dog park to being shoved into the backyard where they must defecate in a confined space with no new smells.
  • They used to enjoy eating the highest quality dog food three times a day, followed by a dessert of fresh butcher shop bones. Now they are being fed a pile of Old Roy on a paper plate every other Thursday.
  • Accustomed to weekly swimming in the ocean or at a lake, the family dog now only gets wet when they are forgotten in the backyard during a rainstorm.

I was so hungry I had to eat a lizardI used to have my own bed, now I sleep on the bare floor

At Family Dog Intervention .org we try to prevent the neglect of family dogs by providing new parents with a dog sponsor. As a nonprofit canineitarian organization, we strive to help dogs overcome the burdens of being in a family with small children. Become a family dog sponsor today and fight back against the inevitable neglect that new human children create.

THE DOGS DID NOT CHOOSE THIS

Many of these dogs were adopted into childless families and became used to a life filled with rides in the car, daily walks, physical affection, routine vet care, grooming and regular feedings.

Luckily some dogs are freed from the entrapment of family life either because families claim their new children have allergies or because the dog’s “aggressive” reaction to their neglect.  Still a large percentage of dogs stay in the family household after being demoted to just a family dog. These animals are often forgotten for minutes at a time in crates, behind baby gates, and even horrifically, in the backyard.

How Sponsorship Helps

Your sponsorship ensures your sponsored dog receives support through every phase of his or her new human baby’s life:

  • the infant crying stage (also known as I get kicked a lot.)
  • the tail pulling stage
  • the trying to make the dog a horse stage
  • Finally the most insulting: “this dog is too old and doesn’t want to fetch with me. I want a puppy.” stage

Help me! They put me in the backyard during snack timeDo I look like a dog who should eat Old Roy generic dog foodWhat is Sponsorship?

Sponsorship is an incredibly powerful way to help one dog break the bonds of being a neglected family dog. It connects you with an individual dog that desperately needs your help, and lets you provide life-changing benefits to that dog for a low monthly contribution. Sponsorship is your chance to build a lifelong friendship with an impoverished dog, one that will alter the course of his or her final dog years.

Family dog sponsorship unites dogs in need with individual sponsors who wish to address the dog’s immediate and basic needs, and gives them the tools and opportunities necessary for success, like trips to the vet, regular walks, physical affection, and playing with toys.

Where Your Donation Goes

This sponsorship provides money that goes directly to the dogs so that they have groomers, walkers, petters, play mates and healthy food.

Don’t let another day go by where a family dog is forced to eat generic kibble. Become a sponsor today!

 


[i] Check our math. 44% of 350,000 is 154,000. 154,000 dogs become forgotten each day in America. That is 56,210,000 dogs a year, which is 75% of the entire American population of dogs in one year. So imagine in just 5 years, 281 million dogs will be neglected!  Unless you help now, that is a third of the whole world’s dog population that is at risk of neglect. 9677230218%^$#(*&)(&988-02e1241-0 (ß——-Look at these complicated numbers. We need your money! )

Sitting on the Laps of Mad Men

IMG_1956Recently, during the midday lunch rush, I found myself sitting on a strange man’s lap, drinking an old fashioned, while smoking a cigarette. With a scratchy sizzle, I crushed the tip of my Lucky Strike into an ashtray. In that moment I realized: I don’t have affairs, I don’t smoke. I don’t drink old fashioneds. What is going on?

I stood up, gingerly smoothing the pleats of my ankle-length skirt. I checked the bounce in my curls and walked back home. My heels clicked up the front stairs and I went over to our rotary phone. I dialed my husband’s number and confessed, “I think I’ve been watching too much Mad Men.”

***

It’s hard for me to acknowledge that I am so easily influenced. I’m newly shocked each time I find myself disappointed that the latest laundry detergent leaves my clothes just as dingy as they were before. Why do I keep believing in “New and Improved Stain-Fighting Power”?

When I was a kid, my parents (knowing my easily persuaded personality and probably holding each other in fear) would annoyingly recite the phrase to me, “Garbage in, Garbage out.”   Swayed by all voices but theirs, I never listened to them. (Sheesh, these people have never been kids before.)

For added humiliation they would sometimes sing “Garbage in, Garbage out” to the famous* Petra song “Computer Brains

Computer brains, put garbage in

Computer brains, get garbage out

via COMPUTER BRAINS LYRICS – PETRA.

As if singing Christian rock would help.

But even if I tried to listen to them, I didn’t really understand their point. How does not eating out of a trashcan relate to my desire to watch endless reruns of Married with Children? Plus, what does “Garbage Out” mean? You’ll poop garbage? Isn’t that basically what already happens?

computerBetween Petra’s “Computer Brains” mixed with my limited exposure to 80’s pop culture, the only thing I was getting out of the phrase “Garbage In, Garbage Out” was an image of the Garbage Pail Kid, Valarie Vomit gagging over an IBM 5150 personal computer.

It’s not until our thirties that most of us begin to admit to ourselves that the people, images, and ideas that we surround ourselves with have an influence over who we are. And unfortunately, this is right around the time that our kids start wanting to kill fluffy bunnies on video games and watch TV shows with plot lines centered around flatulence.

Just like our parents before us, our new understanding leads us down the fool’s path of desiring to spread our knowledge to the younger generation. Which in turn leads us to the idea of speaking to kids on their level.

And the next thing we know, we are sitting at the computer researching the name of the coolest, spiritually ambiguous, non-twerkable song on choosing good influences.

While our children roll their eyes at us in humiliation.



* to white, suburban, Christian kids in 1986

When “Opposites-Attract” Try To Parent Together.

flynn couples

It was, for me, the only possible conclusion because how else could people throw out all common sense and be in love with someone they didn’t know? They must be cotton-headed ninny-muggins.

My theory was one of those elitist statements that the universe accepted as a challenge, and delightfully nurtured until the day my eyes first landed on my husband. He glowed, as if a spotlight followed him in the crowd. And the instant he spoke – SLAP! – my soul ricocheted to hell and back from the sharp impact of Karma’s fierce backhand. I stood there stunned, from love and humiliation; my cheeks streaked red from Irony’s long fingertips.

I had never met anyone like my husband before. He had traveled all over the world, yet he liked sports and to drink American beer.  He was so different from boys I used to date. He was never pretentious or morose. He didn’t have an artistic bone in his body. He never murmured moodily in corners.

We became a classic love-at-first-sight, opposites-attract romance. He is an optimist; I am positively going to see the negative. He is fun and outgoing. I won’t even look you in the eyes. He likes sports. I like things that make me appear better than you (Not you, them).

We fell hard and got married exactly a year after we met. We melded nicely with each other. He made me more hopeful, and I made him less wild. He loosened my death grip on every penny we made, and I helped him tolerate a nagging woman hog-tying him into a budget.

Our opposites strengthened us into more well-rounded people.

Or maybe that is just my nostalgia talking, but being opposites seemed less important before we started raising kid together. Now, living with someone who has my opposite ideals seems like it could have catastrophic results.

For example, the other day my husband and I had some new friends coming over. I spent the day frantically trying to clean the house in order to trick these people into believing we are not slobs. My husband, on the other hand, was happy to play on the computer all day.

Five minutes before they arrived, as I was scrubbing the last of the sticky finger prints from the walls, my husband sat down on the couch and started watching TV with our boys.

I about lost my mind.

This was not the staged “perfect family” picture that I wanted to represent, “We don’t have time for TV. We’re much too busy building eco-friendly, water filtration systems that we donated to third world countries.  Or we’re playing scrabble. Or learning the Periodic Table.”  Weren’t we? In my mind we were.

But my husband loves the fact that he can enjoy TV with his boys. He loves introducing them to new movies, new shows and new video games.

When our boys were still babies, barely able to throw a ball, my husband went out and bought a Nintendo WWII (pronounced World War We) video game console. Of course I thought he was buying it for himself, but then he said, “I got the Wii so the kids can play with me. It’s important that they learn to play video games.”

“What? I misunderstood you,” I said smelling burnt toast.

“I got the Wii so they can learn to play it, because it is important that they play video games,” he repeated.

Having a priority where kids need to learn video games caused my brain to overload. I couldn’t inquire further into his beliefs because all I could hear was my own brain fizzing and popping in disbelief. In my mind, saying that boys need to learn video games is equal to saying they need to learn to enjoy pornography or they need to practice eating extra fudge, three-scoop, ice cream sundaes.

My theory had always been that you hide the existence of video games from your children until the day you can no longer fight off the evil influence of the outside world. Then once they discover this treacherous past time, maybe they will have experienced enough of real life that their souls will resist being sucked lifeless by the siren’s call of virtual living.

I realized I was playing defense, trying to limit my children’s exposure to movies, TV and video games, and my own husband was actively trying to increase their exposure to it.  Are we on two different teams, because it seemed like we were battling towards opposite goals?

After the video game confession, I spent a few days fuming, smoke billowing out of my ears like the plumes of Rim Fire. What kind of life are these kids going to have if their dad is letting them play video games all day? I could only imagine them as overweight, sweat-pant wearing slobs, whose fingertips are permanently stained radioactive orange from their high Cheeto intake and who never move out of our house because their bodies have developed a symbiotic relationship with the couch cushions.

Eventually, after the smoke cleared, I wondered what their life would look like if they only experienced my non-artificially colored life of forced vegetables, fake smiles and complete ignorance of pop culture. Would their twenties be just as catastrophic if I forced everyone into to doing everything my way?

I have to tell myself that my husband’s ideas on parenting are just as legitimate as mine, not because he has researched, studied or worried as much as I have, but because they are his children too. At least 50% his anyway, and when he is the parent in charge I don’t get to undermined him with statistical, long term, negative analysis.

Out of respect.

His ideas are a little wrong and so are mine. Or a little right, (if you need to interject with your annoying optimism). Maybe our kids think too much about the side-effects of artificial coloring, and maybe they play too many video games, but battling for extremes may leave our kids right about in the middle.

Woman’s Death Caused by Spice of Life

Variety

 

 

On Thursday a woman was found crushed to death under a stack of manila file folders. Officials reported that though they were written in a myriad of different colored glitter-gel inks, all the folders were each mysteriously labeled with the same two words: Variety Ideas.

 

 

 

My frustration started in the middle of my oldest child’s kindergarten year. A memo came home from school regarding his daily reading homework. The letter stated: Do something new this week, add some variety, get creative with your child’s homework!

I held the piece of paper in my hand, looking down upon it, feeling its taunt, like it had just cocked its dog ear at me and threatened a paper cut.  It challenged me to push my creative juices further: Diorama! Build a rocket! Start a non-for-profit!

“More variety,” I grumbled between clenched teeth and then slumped into a chair, the air sucked out of my will. I considered all of the other parts of my life that were begging for more variety: my hair, my workout routine[i], my clothes, my diet, my husband’s sex life.

Though I am disinclined to dwell too long on the fantastical life I could create if only I added some variety to it, I suspect that it would require me to spend long nights sitting at a table piled with file folders begging to be filled with extraordinary ideas. My hair would be rolled in curlers, and I would be practicing complex yoga positions, while copying recipes from the classic cookbook, “365 meals from the Kama Sutra.” (Tuesday night’s dinner: Elephant mounting Dog with Aromatic Saffron Rice)

But do I really need more variety?

Whenever I’m trying to discern whether a new life obligation is important or not, I ask myself this question: What Caveman Do? (or WCD QUESTION MARK for short.)

It works best if it is said in a grunting voice like a caveman, which unfortunately when I do it, sounds more like Tonto. (If you don’t know who that is, look him up in Wikipedia. I can’t tell you who he is because to do so may be considered extremely racist. Not sure where the line is with racism. Is mentioning the name of an old TV character, now considered a horrific depiction of racist stereotyping, going too far? Don’t know and not touching it with a 10 foot teepee pole.)

I believe WCD? is a research tool first developed for use by evolutionary anthropologists[ii]  to discern the legitimacy and importance of human behavior, which from a Darwinian perspective would be to question whether a behavior contributes to the survival of the species. WCD? is useful in countless life situations.

I used this saying when Oprah magazine said it was healthier to first microwave meat and then grill it in tin foil, rather than grill it directly over the flame. (Grunting) What Caveman Do?  Definitely cook over fire without tin foil.

I used it when people tried to scare me into thinking that having my baby outside of the hospital was putting my baby’s life at risk. WCD?: Hospital births started to become popular in 1915[iii], and yet somehow the human race survived for 249,902 years prior to that. So, not true.

Or, when I wondered if skinny jeans could be worn by people over 17 years of age and/or under 107lbs. WCD?: Animal hide unsafe tight around the ankle.

And from the 10 minutes or so that I focused (with bias) on whether it was necessary to be pushed (with guilt) into adding variety to my life, I quickly hypothesized that caveman would have surely died if he was off trudging around the Pleistocene looking for a new fruit, rather than eating whatever food was readily available.

Then it dawned on me that variety is a first world luxury that we should be grateful that we have and it should, by no means, ever be regarded as anything but that. It was considered the spice of life because throughout most of history it was such a rare privilege.

Variety should be desired. It should be a treat. It should be savored and anticipated. And, it should never be a forced requirement for a healthy life, diet, education or workout.

And if you think it is the key to a good sex life, then, well, maybe a polygamous relationship is for you.

(Click here to read “Polygamy Ain’t Lookin’ so Bad” )



[i] (lies. Does not exist)

[ii] In my imagination

[iii] I do not think coincidentally, there was a 41 percent increase in infant mortality between 1915 and 1929.