Subourbon Mom


Small Talk vs. Verbal Incontinence
September 7, 2018, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Parenting | Tags: , , , ,

2.-And-neither-is-small-talks.-You-suck.-Really.

I used to be able to attend adult functions and make the necessary small talk society requires. I could talk with a complete wallflower, as long as I followed my mother’s advice:  “Just ask questions. People love to talk about themselves.”

Now? Not so much.

I don’t know if it’s an age thing or sheer laziness, but mostly I think it’s because I just don’t have the energy to care anymore.

Some of the worst small talk functions are school parental gatherings.  Sometimes I’m genuinely interested, if it’s a family I like or friends of my kids, but mostly I end up pasting a smile on face and listening to what the other children did over the summer, the awards they won and what teachers are currently on the collective parental shit list.  I do all of this while making snarky comments in my head.

These events do not bring out the best in me. And I think after what I said at the last couple of gatherings, I should probably stay home.

I recently went to a “Meet the New High School Director” coffee.  I showed up, along with the other parents of kids whose parents really don’t need to be there (trust me, he’ll meet the parents of the kids who need a little extra “guidance” soon enough).  I hung out with my mom friends until it was almost time to leave, and finally decided I should actually go meet the guy.

I waltzed up to a group of moms (I knew a couple) and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m so-and-so’s mom, it’s so good to have you here blah, blah, blah…”

Awkward silence…which, of course, I had to fill.

“Well, I’m sure I’ll be in your office at some point this year!” I chirped.

“For good reasons, I hope?” he asked, looking at me oddly.

I panicked.  “We’ll see!” I said. I gave a little wave and practically ran out the door.

When I told Daughter #2 about it, she said, “Great Mom – now he thinks I’m a delinquent.”

“So do you want me to say anything to him at Back to School Night?”

“Maybe tell him I’m not a delinquent?”

“Hmmmm…nope.  I think we’re going to set the bar low and let him be pleasantly surprised.”

“You’re the worst mom ever.”

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So that was the first event.

The second, awkward, “please-let-me-suck-those-words-back-in” moment happened a few days later. Hubby and I were standing with the mother of a younger child at a school function.  She was stunning – the kind of mom that I’m secretly jealous of because she looks sophisticated and sleek.  This beautiful mom had makeup on, like most grownup women do, and I’m pretty sure she used primer (apparently it’s a thing now), too, because her face was perfectly smooth, and her makeup was flawless. Like my daughters, she has learned how to apply it and look gorgeous – I put on makeup and look like I fell onto a Kardashian’s face in a bar at 2:00am.

So, there we were, and I was talking about how my girls where more makeup than I ever learned how to use.  “Oh my God, I mean, they put on ‘primer,’ which I think is just ridiculous, because a face is not a wall in your house!”

I couldn’t stop it, even after it dawned on me that I was probably insulting her.  When the event was over, Hubby looked at me and said, “You know she wears makeup, right?”

“I know.” I sighed.  “And she’s beautiful.”

“And you know you were just going on and on about how too much makeup is bad, right?”

“Yes! I know! I could hear the words come out and I couldn’t stop it!”

“Just checking.”

Ugh. I really just should have listened to my mother’s advice and only asked questions.  Not once during either of these encounters did I do that – I simply filled any void with my verbal diarrhea.

Tonight is Back to School Night. God help me if any of the teachers address me directly. I’ll probably blurt out a question like “Was teaching your first choice as a profession?”  So to all of Daughter #2’s teachers, here is my blanket apology in advance:

You will never be paid enough or honored enough for the work you do.  Please keep trying to educate our children and fill in the gaps that we have left yawning open in their character.  Every day you rise above pettiness, exhaustion and frustration to embrace these young people as they try to make sense of a senseless world, and for that you should be shown the respect and encouragement you deserve. 

Plus, you look pretty.  And your tie goes with your pants….



Costco Sells Caskets & Urns

I recently received a text from my friend Kristin late one night that just said Costco sells caskets and urns. Naturally, I had to go look it up, and sure enough they do.

 

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So does Walmart…and Amazon.

Did I miss something? When did the big box stores get involved in the big box business? (Apparently, this business is actually referred to as “Death Care,” the death-sensitive phrase I learned while Googling.) In addition to the assortment of caskets and urns available, Costco also posted a must-read FAQ that informed me about all kinds of death-care rules I knew nothing about. For example, not all states will let you order a casket from somewhere other than a funeral home. Of those that do, you are required to be present when it’s delivered.

coffin1Of course, I toyed with the idea of ordering one the next time Hubby makes me furious and just leaving it on the front porch with Universal Casket Company (Costco’s supplier) emblazoned on the box as a hint/threat. But now that we live in the country, only the coyotes and screech owls would see it, so I’ll just have to go back to regular yelling.

I couldn’t believe how expensive these caskets were, and mind you, these were from Costco and Walmart, so I’m sure they had a tiny markup compared to the markup funeral homes add. So, in search of other options, I Googled alternative ways to be buried.

Wow.

There are more ways to be buried than there are ways to have a baby – and that’s after watching every episode of A Baby Story. Actually, many burial methods are eerily similar to methods of having a baby – standing up; in water; natural (read “green”); and, cut open and filled with chemicals. I guess you really do come full circle, like they say.

I have a weird fear of being cremated. I can’t rationalize it, but the idea of it freaks me out. I much prefer Monty Python’s “Nibble, Nibble, Nibble to Crackle, Crackle, Crackle.”

I’ve also always assumed I would be buried in a plot of land overlooking something meaningful and gorgeous, like Robert Redford’s character in Out of Africa. Since we are running out of planet space and it’s uber-expensive, I started looking for alternative burial options. A few stuck with me, if only because they fell into the OH HELL NO I’M NOT DOING THAT category.resomation

Resomation – in which the remains are dissolved in an alkaline solution, leaving a white powder not unlike ashes from cremation. Or a giant pile of coke.

Freeze Drying – I believe this method is still in development, but the process is similar to resomation, except they use liquid nitrogen. After being exposed to the nitrogen, the remains become super brittle and are shaken into a powder.  I imagine this to be much like the old rock tumblers we used to use to polish rocks. Afterward, fillings and other non-biodegradable parts are sifted out…in keeping with the rock analogy, kind of like panning for gold. No thanks.

ryan-lochteCryogenics – in which the body is frozen until scientists can figure out how to transcend death in the future and bring you back to life. Jurassic Park ring a bell anyone? That went well. What if you are respected now but turn out to be the biggest douche bag in the future (think Walt Disney)? Or worse, what if Ryan Lochte opts for cryogenics and he’s our representative from the 21st century?

My personal favorite is becoming part of an artificial reef. These reefs are being created off-shore using a mixture of cremation remains and whatever else they make artificial reefs with. These eco-friendly reefs are part of the green death care movement, and are increasing fish habitats and scuba diving opportunities, all while resembling the lost city of Atlantis. I like the idea of building something good for the environment out of peoples’ remains. But why stop there? Why not just start making an entire new planet – WAIT!!!! We could call it the Death Star!!

death-star

Too far?

But seriously, for a subject that is so personal and impactful to so many people, both the living and the dead, I find it offensive that we can now buy burial items online the same way we can buy clothes or get a pizza delivery. I understand why people will shop at the box stores for these things – the same reason we buy our food and eBooks there. Prices for caskets and funeral services are ridiculous. In my opinion, there should be limits placed on the costs of caskets, urns, shrouds, and burial options. Alternative burial options should be allowed to be explored and utilized. But the big box stores should stay out of an industry that requires sensitivity and dignity. There are entire industries welcoming the box stores with open arms, but the death care industry shouldn’t be one of them – no bones about it.

 



My “Senior Project”

yougotthisAs the end of Daughter #1’s Senior Year approaches, the final sprint towards final exams, AP tests, and Senior Project has begun. Not to mention prom, graduation, college selection, and the never-ending game of Senior Assassin (more on this later). For Seniors this means tearing themselves away from watching vines and shopping for prom dresses and studying for exams, throwing together last-minute power point presentations and agonizing over roommate selection. ugly prom dress For parents this means panicking when you realize you never ordered graduation announcements, approving and paying for the last prom and graduation dresses, and deciding how to celebrate this momentous of times – do we have a keg at the party for the adults or not?

It also means attending the Senior project presentations. At our school, Senior Project is a year-long process involving learning a new skill or challenging yourself in a new way (like learning to make cheese, hatching and raising chickens, trying to understand the lyrics to Rhianna’s songs, etc.), documenting it, doing a research paper, and presenting the whole thing in front of a small group of parents and teachers.

As I sat there watching these impressive young adults show how they started their own yoga classes, created scholarships, ran half-marathons, published their own international blog on Russian politics and even learned how to fly fish, I wondered What the hell have I been doing with my life?

I was impressed and depressed all at the same time. These young people were avidly exploring new ideas, challenging themselves and getting out of their comfort zones in ways that many adults never will.

Thank goodness these kids will be in charge of me when I finally become an adult.

I was depressed because I took an inventory of my recent years and realized I haven’t done much in the way of challenging myself other than to start a new job. Somehow I don’t think trying new food at the local Iranian restaurant counts.

And then I realized that my Senior Project isn’t done yet. I’m still researching how to raise successful women on a daily basis. I’m nearly always out of my comfort zone. My PowerPoint presentation is currently still housed in my laptop under “Pictures” and in the copies of report cards and assignments I’ve kept over the years. And, I present my project in front of my parents every time they visit or call.

I don’t know what my final grade will be, but I’m no longer depressed. I’m more and more impressed with my project every day.

Now if I could just figure out how to cite all those parenting how-to websites I’ve visited over the years.

 



Twerking to the Oldie’s

Being part of the Sandwich Generation is more than just taking care of both your parents and your kids—you’re also the ground wire between those two high-voltage groups.

Now y’all, I am well aware that I have lately slipped into a routine of going to work, coming home, fixing dinner, and mindlessly binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy. Somewhere between the patient being diagnosed and the amazing procedure that miraculously saves her, I fall asleep. I know my mouth is hangs open and I probably snore, but no one has made it into a Vine yet (that I know of).

Until the other night, I assumed my flagging energy is a sign of age—then I was proved oh, so wrong.

A week or so ago, Hubby and I broke the mold and went out at eight o’clock on a Wednesday to meet some friends—we hadn’t seen them in a while, and they were going to Enzo’s Chop House.

Enzo’s is known for three things: great food, stiff drinks, and fun dance music from the 60’s and 70’s. We’d been there before, and knew there would mostly be older folks out having a good time before going home and bathing in Ben Gay—we were confident we would outlast them.

This time it wasn’t just an older crowd—it was a scene out of the movie Cocoon.

Our mere speckles of white hair and ability to walk without hitching one hip up on one side were not the only things that set us apart — was the dancing.

As I said, Enzo’s is also known as a fun place to dance to the oldies—and by that I mean Motown and good ol’ Southern Rock. (I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but Southern Rock is now classified as “classic.” When I was growing up it was just “Rock.”)

Usually, when Hubby and I dance, we do the high school sway back and forth thing, because the one time we took dancing lessons, it was pointed out (to me) that both people can’t lead. So while we shifted our weight back and forth, the rest of the crowd was doing the Shag, the Swing, and the Two-Step, and even throwing out some disco moves that would make John Travolta look bad.

images-5It was humiliating.

And if the dancing wasn’t enough, watching those reliable social lubricants, Viagra and Bourbon start to take affect was just scary. Like any bar filled with 25-30-year-olds, the bourbon goggles eventually came on, and couples that had begun the evening together started mixing it up. Men in their 70’s shuffled over to tables occupied by younger women and began chatting them up. Eventually, one of the women would stray from the herd and find herself out on the dance floor shuffling and kicking her feet to Al Green and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Hands sometimes wandered a little lower than they should, and meaningful, myopic stares stretched across the dance floor from table to table.

It was almost like watching your parents twerk.

Unknown-1By ten o-clock, the Highball Shuffle took over as the dance move of choice. The music wound down, and Styrofoam water cups began to replace bourbon glasses on the tables. By 10:30 we were done with a capital “D”. We were sober, and I’ll admit it—a little jealous—we left those rascally retirees to their own (sometimes medically required) devices and went home to the next generation of bar-hopping, dancing romance-seekers.

 

 



Jesus Would Have Used His Turn Signals


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Driving around with brand new teenage drivers, or soon-to-be-drivers can be like hanging out with an alcoholic at a party who’s just gotten back on the wagon.  There is an enormous amount of self-righteousness packed into one place.

“Mom, you’re going over the speed limit.”

“Mom, the light turned green. Put your phone down.”

“Mom, I think that policeman is trying to wave you over….mom?  Mom? Why have your eyes gone black??”

One of my biggest driving pet peeves is people who don’t use turn signals, especially at stoplights.   FYI People—they are not optional or just a courtesy!  They are required by law!

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I can’t tell you how many drivers have seen me yelling and gesturing (with my windows safely up) as they paused in the middle of the intersection, looking bewildered as everyone waits for them to go straight because they forgot to put their turn signal on.

Daughter #1, our newest licensed driver, is now beginning to understand my frustration, and has come up with some of her own creative descriptions of these drivers, none of which can be printed here.

Daughter #2 however, has more fun pointing out the times when I myself forget to use my signal (as if!), or when, according to her, I wait to long to use it.  The other day, we were getting ready to turn onto our street when apparently I didn’t use my signal until too late.

Daughter #1:  “You didn’t use your signal, Mom.”

Me: “Yes, I did.”

Daughter #2:  “Well, you waited long enough.”

Me:  “Don’t mess with me today. It’s too hot.”

Daughter #2: “Why? What are you gonna do?”

Me: “Just–don’t. It’s not worth it.”

Long pause…

Daughter #2: “It’s worth it a little bit.”

Sigh……so please, in the interests of keeping people safe, and because playing chicken in the middle of an intersection isn’t cool, use your turn signals. IN the words of one of my youth group leaders back in the day, WWJD?

 

 




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