Musing

Milestone

momma and meThis past weekend brought a major milestone in my life. I am now older than my mother was at the time of her death.  It’s a hard concept to imagine. Most of the people reading this still have a living mother. If you’re my age, your mom is between 65 and 75.  My mother was not quite one month into her 45th year when she passed away.  I was 19. Back then, 45 seemed a lifetime away and in some ways it was. It’s funny how time changes perspective.

I laugh and say I can’t remember 19 but I can.  At 19, I thought I was grown.  After all,  I was a legal adult. I was paying my way in the world and I had buried my mother.  The only boxes I needed to mark off next was secure a real grown up career, get married and have kids. But, since I planned to never do the last two, I only had to get out of school and land that career.   It’s funny what can change in 26 years.

My career is over and done with; I now have a j.o.b.  My children are 12 and 14 and I’ve been married since 1997.  I am doing absolutely nothing that I expected to be doing should I be so lucky to reach 45.  In fact, at 19, I thought if I ever made it to 45 every minute after that would be gravy – a gift from the universe. That was kind of a stupid way of looking at it.  Isn’t every minute already a gift from the universe? Why did I think I needed to wait until I hit 45?

This past weekend really messed with my head. But, it did remind me of one of the many lessons I learned from my mother’s young death.  Life passes so quickly. Our time here is so fleeting. Yet, I find that I still forget that lesson on the regular and I need reminders. This past weekend was a reminder.  Those 26 years have passed in the blink of an eye. They are nothing more than a blur punctuated with major life events. I still have so much I want to do, so much I want to see and experience.  At the top of my list of things I still need to do is to watch my children grow up and hopefully be productive, well-adjusted and relatively happy members of society.  The next item is for me to grow up to be a crazy old lady like the Golden Girls.  I want my adult children to worry about what fresh brand of crazy I’m getting myself into.  And, more than anything, I hope neither of my kids has to navigate life at 19 or younger without me being around to help as needed.  A person can believe they are grown and don’t need their parents at 19 but there have been countless times when, despite her being the meanest woman I’ve ever know, I could have used my mother’s advice.

Photo Credit:  Not sure who took it but this is my mother holding an infant me. She was 25 or 26 depending on what month the photo was taken.  This is my favorite photo of us because she actually looks like she likes me and you can see my Granddaddy’s arm on the right side of the photo.  I wonder if someone had told her she would leave me 19 years later if she would have behaved differently.

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Musing, Uncategorized

Summer Vacation

img_0394Tap, Tap, Tap.  Is there anybody still out there?  So yeah, I went on vacation and didn’t announce it.  Real life got really busy and before I knew it I was chunking random things into a suitcase at 11:30 at night when I had to leave at 6 the next morning.  My family and I did the great American road trip. We drove halfway across the country (nearly 1,400 miles each way) to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. It was two days there and two days back, although, not as brutal as I feared it would be. We took in all the big sights – the Mall, the Monuments, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Capital Building, the National Archives, the White House and multiple Smithsonian Museums.  It had been almost 20 years since my husband and I have visited and my kids had never gone. And, since they are now 12 and 14, it was a good time age wise to plan this trip.

I find the people and the sights you see within certain regions simply fascinating.  We stopped in the mountains, hiked down the embankment in flip flops (not our smartest idea) and played in a mountain stream.  We saw a florescent yellow Lexus with giant tires being pulled by a U-haul in another state. We met country folks, mountain people, and city dwellers but never once did we meet anyone rude.  We did pass through some areas where we never once saw anything but white people and for some reason that worried me. (Whispers – If y’all didn’t know I’m white.) We live in a suburb of a very large city with no real minority.  Sure, there is a little self-segregation, but for the most part it’s very multicultural.  It was weird being in a place where there’s only one kind of people.  It can be unnerving and in some cases uncomfortable, especially when you aren’t used to it.  Speaking of which, enjoy this off the wall story about our hotel stay.

We originally booked a room in Alexandria, VA right across the street from a Metro station. What we didn’t know we got there was that the Metro station was closed for an overhaul until September and the two beds in the room were full size beds with a queen fold out bed.  It’s just downright creepy for a teen boy and preteen girl to sleep in the same bed and since my hubs and I don’t like to touch when we sleep this was not going to fly for a week.  So, my hubs and I started frantically searching for anything that had two beds and a fold out couch that didn’t involve a full sized bed. Fun fact, apparently that is standard in D.C. because it wasn’t until we looked in the surrounding areas did we find a set up that would work.  The hubs finds a new hotel and books it and the next day we go to check in.  We were a little stumped that there was no food or grocery nearby only a metro station, a church and a bunch of car dealerships and a gas station but still we said, “whatever it will be great”.  The lady at the front desk was so helpful in providing a list of nearby stores and restaurants so off we go to pick up dinner.  The nearest grocery, about 5 miles away is smack in the middle of the hood and four exceptionally white people in a generic small SUV with a Mickey Mouse sticker on the back window sticks out like a sore thumb.  The next morning we arrive at the continental breakfast in the lobby and again, no white people.  I whisper to my husband, “Remember when we were driving through that super rural part of the country and we couldn’t find any people of color?  Yeah, well apparently we found the opposite end of the spectrum.”  For the rest of the week if we were at the hotel or the surrounding grocery store, Target store or restaurant we got lots of stares.  Our daily walk to and from the Metro station garnered looks as well. We don’t look weird. We’re as average as they come but you would have thought we all had a multi-colored mohawk and a third eye.  About halfway through the week, I started wondering what they thought.  Did everyone think were crazy? Did they think we were lost? Did they resent us being there?  No one was ever mean or unkind. Despite the stares, everyone was pleasant but why the stares. The only thing I can think of is we were different from their norm. And, let’s face it, different can be strange, uncomfortable even. The funny thing is my kids never blinked about the whole situation.  They were oblivious to the stares and odd looks.  They didn’t notice the sketchy strip mall and the grocery on the edge of the hood.  Some of that could be their age but I think a lot of it is they are growing up in a world where we are striving for more equality and multicultural experience. As they get older I hope they have fond memories of our trip, even the daily trip by the collection of malt liquor bottles by the Metro station and the baffling case of Bible tracts at every stop for 300 miles.

Photo Credit:  Yours truly.  It’s the crazy lifted yellow Lexus I spoke about.  Who would paint a nice car that color?

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Musing, Uncategorized

Them vs Us

generation x red grunge stampThe other day my hubs and I were talking about how the Us vs Them fight between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials and how our generation, Generation X, is still the forgotten and ignored generation.  My hubs said something along the lines of only a few more years and the Boomers will finally all be retired and the world will finally have to pay attention to us. I can’t remember if I said it out loud or only to myself but I do remember thinking, ‘no way, we’ll always be ignored’.  Much like the often ignored middle child, we (Generation X) have always just sucked it up and quietly did our thing knowing the only way any of us would get any attention is if something bad happened – think Kurt Cobain’s suicide or more recently Luke Perry’s stroke.

I’ve often wondered how it is that these two generations got pitted against one another. The lions share of the Boomers, those born right after WWII, are not the parents of millennials so why the animosity?  I think I’ve finally figured it out.  They are too much alike. They had the American dream handed to them since birth.  They’ve been told time after time how wonderful and special they are and they’ve bought their own hype.  Additionally, any time they are asked to pay the piper or got called out for their bad behavior they throw a temper tantrum.

Born into a thriving economy when our country was at it’s most prosperous, Boomers were the first generation who got to truly enjoy childhood without being expected to get a job to help the family.  Boomers were encouraged to follow their hearts and live their dreams. The opportunities this generation received for doing nothing but being born at the right time is astounding not to mention they bore witness to things like a national interstate system and the space program.  And, I haven’t even brought up the pop culture contributions of their age. I’m not ashamed to say I’m jealous as hell. Sure, there were some tough times, the Vietnam War was awful and shouldn’t have happened. The civil rights movement and the women’s movement were hard but in the end, doors were opened and minds were changed.  By the time the Boomers were considered adults, they were doing better than any other generation before them. These cats got to enjoy the excess of the late 1970s and 1980s with full gusto.  Between free love, widespread venereal disease, and loads of drugs and alcohol, it’s honestly a wonder any of them are still alive. Now that they are all hitting their golden years, they are changing the face of elder care.  Millennials have enjoyed many of the same advantages – beloved by their parents, given immense opportunities, told they could do anything and be anything, born into a time with huge technological and cultural advances.  The similarities between the two groups are astounding. The size of their generation is also something of note as they are almost equal.

But, what about Generation X?  Where do we stand?  What are we doing? We’re doing what we’ve always done.  We’re making do with the crumbs.  Just like in our latch key days, we’re plodding along, working steady and grumbling about how no one notices we’re here.  Our needs are being met on a basic level but no one is bending over backward to appeal to us.  We’re raising kids and taking care of older parents.  We’re still sullen and angsty even if we don’t wear our skater grunge punk clothes and a million black jelly bracelets on our arms.  Most of all, we wonder how either of the Us vs Them groups is going to screw us over next.  Although I have to admit if I had to pick a side I would most like to emulate, I’d pick the Boomers in a hot minute. They had the best music.

P.S. For the record, Generation X is classified as people born between 1965 and 1979.  

Photo Credit: I did a search for Gen X images and I saw this like 8 times. I have no idea who it belongs to but thanks.  No copyright infringement indented. I’m broke and I do this for free so don’t sue me. 

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Irony, Musing

Work it out

exercise female fitness foot

My exercise of choice is walking.  I can walk 50 miles just don’t ask me to run one mile. And, don’t ask me to go over a 15 minute mile unless wild animals are after me.  When I walk I usually listen to a podcast or an audiobook but occasionally it’s just me and a playlist. I honestly don’t know why I bother with a playlist. My mind always wanders to the most random and absurd things and I end up not listening to my playlist, only my inner voice.  I do all my deep, philosophical thinking whilst walking, showering or driving long distances.  Today, as I enjoyed the lovely, warm spring day I was reminded of a scene in Back to the Future 3.  See what I mean about random and absurd?

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  It’s highly unlikely that Back to the Future 3 would feature anything relevant but stick with me while I set it up.  If you don’t remember or never saw the movie, Back to the Future 3 takes place during the old west.  The scene I’m talking about features several people sitting around in a saloon and someone says something about running and how one day people will run for fun. Everyone laughs at the idea and proceeds to ask why anyone would want to run for fun – like this is the most absurd thing in the universe. And quite frankly for the time, it is the most absurd thing in the universe.  Day to day life was exercise. From hauling water to chopping wood to wrangling animals, every facet of daily life involved physical labor. No one exercised for health. They exercised because they had to do it to get the job done.

So, as I speed walked down the tree lined trails in my town, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of it all.  Here I was wearing clothing and shoes especially purchased for exercising, listening to a tiny box which doubles as a phone walking down a paved path almost big enough for a car all in the name of health.  I was struck by how much life has changed in a mere 100 years.  I’m always astounded how technology, better health care, and basic personal rights have completely changed our lives.  It always leads me to wonder what’s next.  I can’t even fathom what our future holds.  Truth be told, as a child, I totally believed we’d be using flying cars by now.  Boy, do I feel cheated.  Actually, with the way most people drive, I’m glad we aren’t using flying cars.  But seriously, I can’t even begin to imagine what’s next. The only thing that even remotely comes to mind is VR and 3-D printing but those are already in use. I wonder how these technologies will affect us in 20 years?  Dear reader, do you have any ideas? Thrill me with your creativity.

P.S. If we don’t have Jetson’s flying cars or Rosie robots by the time I’m 80 I’m going to riot.

P.P.S. This is a free, stock photo, not me. My thighs have never been that skinny.

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Holidays, Musing, Rants

Feel The Love

three red heart balloons

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about love. When I was a small child, no older than four or five, I have a clear and vivid memory of standing in line at the pharmacy counter of our local drug store.  I looked to my right expecting to find candy bars and gum but instead, I found small boxes that had silhouetted couples walking hand in hand bearing the slogan “for feeling the love.”  Being the precocious and curious child I was, I asked my mother if we needed those little boxes to feel love. This was one of those rare and wondrous occasions when my smart-mouthed mother had very little response.  As fate would have it, right after I asked my question it was our turn at the cash register.  We moved past the strange love boxes and I was enchanted by other things.  But, I distinctly heard my mother tell the pharmacist, “You really need to put those things behind the counter and away from kids.”

As an adult, the thing that stands out most to me about that memory was not my very valid childlike question or my mother’s dumbfounded response but why we would need anything tangible to feel love.  I think that’s what I was really asking but I had no way to articulate that at the tender age of four or five.  I don’t think I could really wrap my brain around the idea that to feel love I needed to buy something from a store. I mean, didn’t I feel love for my mother and other family members without having to buy anything? Wasn’t it a feeling deep down and not a tangible thing?  As an adult that is easy to answer but as a little kid not so much.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I don’t like or really celebrate Valentine’s Day.  I think it’s silly to say one day out of the year we are going to profess our love.  If you think about it that way it’s a pretty shitty holiday. I mean who only wants to hear I love you or You’re appreciated only once a year?  I sure don’t and a damn $10 box of chocolates once a year is not going to make me like that idea.  A lot of people I know think I’m pretty curmudgeonly for this opinion.  That’s okay.  They are entitled to their opinions.  Personally, I’d much rather have flowers picked from the yard on a random day than a dozen roses delivered to my door on a prescribed day.  I would much rather have a fancy meal or fancy chocolate for no apparent reason than some set aside made-up holiday where everyone is getting something very similar to what I just received.  It doesn’t feel special on Valentines Day. It feels rehearsed and expected. I’d rather have unrehearsed and thoughtful.

This year on Valentines Day I will be carting kids to extracurriculars and eating leftovers. I know I am loved. I don’t need a card or a box with silhouetted couples walking hand and hand to feel that love.

Photo Credit: Free photo lifted off the internet but don’t you like how it’s a picture of balloons and my story was all about condoms?  Sometimes the Universe really smiles on us. 

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Musing

Joy

person holding round smiling emoji board photoHave y’all heard of Marie Kondo or the KonMari Method of organizing?  I first heard about it a few years ago from my Mother in Law. She is without a doubt the most practical and pragmatic person I have ever known.  Armed with the knowledge that her years are fewer rather than greater, she began the task of asking people what personal effects they wanted after she died or went to a nursing home. She began labeling the back of paintings and heavy pieces of furniture. And, in an effort to pare down, she started doing this KonMari crap.  Basically, the premise of this KonMari Method is you hold the item and ask yourself, “Does this item bring me joy?”  If the answer is yes, you keep the item, use it or give it a place inside your home and go about your business. If the answer is no, you’re supposed to get rid of it, give it to someone else, donate it or trash it but whatever you do don’t keep it if it doesn’t bring you joy.

Apparently, my Mother in Law isn’t the only person doing this and the KonMari Method is a real trend.  According to a Today show segment, donations at thrift stores are on the rise.  I am not a things person.  I don’t have many do-dads or accessories in my home.  I have a Christmas ornament collection.  I pride myself in the knowledge that my level of stuff is nothing compared to some people I know.  Yet, I still have plenty of crapola laying around that I don’t need. However, when I first head about all of these overflowing thrift stores all I could think of was, ‘I bet I could find some awesome crap at Goodwill!” Then I stopped myself because really I have enough stuff.  But, this whole purge thing had me thinking about my own house. So, I just started walking room to room pondering the whole ‘does it give me joy’ thing.  And, I have to say, most of it doesn’t give me joy and if we are all being honest, does any of it give us any joy?

Think about it, walk into any room right now and look at one of your most useful and mundane objects.  I for one am staring at this computer screen.  Does this computer give me joy? Hell no, most of the time I’m cursing it but it is a necessary tool of life. Does that couch over there give me joy? Well, sort of, it’s new and pretty and my butt no longer hits the floor when I sit on it like the old one.  But, I don’t get up in the morning, sigh and think, ‘My goodness that sofa gives me joy.” When I really think about it very few things give me joy.  Certain places and my relationship with certain people give me joy. My dog gives me joy.  Seeing a beautiful sunrise gives me joy. But, there are very few actual things in my life that when I look at it or hold it makes my heart happy.  And, maybe that’s the whole idea.  If we pare down to what truly gives us joy, we won’t have much stuff. I don’t know about you but if I truly did this does it give me joy crap, I’d be living at Disney World with my own mattress, a few boxes of books and Christmas decor, my favorite coffee cups and an endless supply of River Road Coffee. I really don’t think that’s do-able. So, I’ll keep all my useless treasures and I’ll get rid of it when I am good and ready or I won’t and then my kids will have to ask themselves, “Does this give me joy?”

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Musing, Random, Rants

Up to the Challenge

IMG_2311A few years ago it was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, then Tide pods and just last week I heard about a Bird Box challenge.  Now we have the 10 year/how bad have I aged challenge. Not to steal Heather Land’s schtick, but I ain’t doing it.  No, I’m not some conspiracy theorist worried about my facial recognition data harvesting. I just don’t have the time and the wear with all to go hunt down the oldest picture I have on Facebook. Hell, I don’t even know how long I’ve been on Facebook.  I know it was around the time my kids were born.  If I’m being honest the only reason I still get on Facebook is that just about everyone I know is on there and it’s one of the best ways to keep in touch with all the friends and family we have in other places across the country.

I mean, does anyone really care how many crows feet and grey hairs we’ve accumulated? I sure as hell don’t. And, let’s face it, every single one of us has that one friend that looks better than they did 10 years ago and it makes even the least vain person jealous as hell. You start questioning everything. Did that person make a deal with the devil or do they just have fabulous genes or maybe they had a little work done by a REALLY good doctor.  Everyone bitches about how Facebook paints an overly competitive picture and pits us against one another in an effort to show our less than authentic social media selves.  Well, this stupid challenge is the height of overly competitive less than authentic selves.

I’ll be honest, I’m not one for any of these challenges.  I’ve never participated in any of them. I’m not really a joiner.  I loathe the bandwagon and I’m a later adopter to pretty much everything. I’m one of these weirdos that finds virtue in doing exactly the opposite to what everyone else is doing. So to that end, I give you the above picture. It’s WAY over 10 years old.  In fact, it’s more like 40 years ago. I’m not really sure how old I am – two, maybe three, but I am large and in charge with my sunglasses. Suck it Edna Mode. I wore it first.

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