Cherry Bomb

This is my brutally honest face…

People who know me know that I tend to be pretty direct. I don’t beat around the bush. This is either a gift or a curse, depending on how you look at it. I like to think of it as a gift. This is probably because I don’t really care much about what people think of me. I have what you would call a healthy ego. If I was worried about pissing people off and them disliking me, it would certainly be a curse. It’s not that I want to hurt people’s feelings, I am just pretty comfortable with the truth, even when it sucks. I would rather hear the truth, even if it stings a little. I would also rather give the truth than blow smoke up someone’s ass. So if you are going to ask me a question, you better be prepared to hear the answer. And that answer will not be coated in sugar or decked out in glitter.

I come by it naturally. My Dad also speaks his mind. The difference is that my Dad is generally likeable. I, on the other hand, am an acquired taste. He also speaks the truth but does it in a kind way and usually with humor. He may not sugar coat it, but it is at least wrapped in a pretty package. Then there is my Mom, who never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings and is cautious with her words. You would think I would have learned a little something growing up in a house with these two but apparently I am pretty hard headed. Tact has never been my strong suit.

Does this mirror make my butt look fat?

The thing is, most people know the answer before they ask a question. I have never asked my husband if my pants make my ass look fat. I own a mirror and I know when my ass looks fat and when it doesn’t. The culprit is rarely the pants. It’s normally the bag of cookies and repeatedly skipping out on the gym. Regardless of the reason, the question did not need to be asked. I don’t ask these questions mostly because I am just going to end up mad at my husband for lying to me when I catch a glimpse of myself in a window later that day. These are the questions that also get me into trouble when I am asked. My answer to this question is almost always “it’s not the pants’ fault. Your ass is fat”. This is not a popular answer. The problem is this is a question that people ask, but they don’t really want a truthful answer. Sorry, I am comfortable with the truth even if you aren’t. Don’t ask me a question if you are trying to reassure yourself about something we both know is false. I am just not nice enough to lie to you. Seriously, I won’t do it.

The term for someone who doesn’t pull any punches is a Dutch uncle. The first time I heard this term I had to read it twice. Even after looking at it again I still saw “oven”. My brain really does belong to a fourteen year old boy. Uncle or oven of the Dutch variety both seem to be pretty unwelcome. Both may also leave you gasping. There is no equivalent female terminology. I guess the consensus is that women aren’t so ruthless. I guess they haven’t heard enough truth bombs from Dutch aunts.

I think everyone needs a friend like me – someone who will tell you like it is even when you don’t want to hear it. I’m probably not the person to talk to if you are fishing for a compliment or looking for affirmation that you can do something that we both know you can’t. Don’t ask me if you should sign up to bake cookies for your kid’s bake sale the week after you gave your mother-in-law food poisoning.¬† I’m not the right person to come to if you want to know if cutting your bangs was a good idea after you already did it. We both know that’s never a good idea. But if you want to know if you should date the guy who lives in his mom’s basement, ask away. If you need to know if getting a tattoo of the “artwork” your kid drew is a good idea, I’m just the Dutch uncle to ask!

In honor of this last day of black history month this post was written with the help of Fishbone playing very loudly in my office.

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Every Breath You Take

Seriously, look at this guy!

What’s not to love?

My child is stalking a guy on my meditation app. At the end of the meditation a screen appears with a congratulations and a list of people who were using the app at the same time. When the meditation ends, my daughter immediately picks up the phone to look at all of the pictures of the people who were meditating with us. Every night there is someone named Chris who uses a picture that she likes in the list. And every night she tries to click the button to send a “thanks for meditating with me” message. She literally scrolls through pages of little pictures until she finds Chris every single night. I have tried to explain to her that we don’t know Chris and if we continue sending messages on a nightly basis that poor Chris might become frightened and think that we are obsessed with him. Her response was that she IS obsessed with him. Clearly.

She has no information about Chris other than he has a picture of what she thinks is an alien with trees growing out of his head and that he lives about thirty miles from us. Chris could actually be a woman. Or Chris could be a psycho serial killer, although I doubt it. I mean you don’t really hear much about serial killers spending a lot of time getting zen. Either way, we know nothing about Chris, yet my daughter is obsessed with finding this person nightly after our meditation ends. She is even getting antsy during the meditation if it lasts too long, which is kind of defeating the purpose of meditating. She starts bouncing around grabbing at my phone when the timer gets down to under two minutes.

I’m not like a regular mom. I’m a cool mom…

In her six year old mind, she and Chris are friends because they meditated together. I can’t really blame her though. We call her classmates “friends” and her gymnastics teammates “friends” and even the other children who she sees a few times a week at the child care center at the gym “friends”. Clearly if they are her friends, then so is Chris. At least she knows his name, which is more than I can say for half of her “friends” at the gym.

I wonder what Chris thinks about the weirdo who keeps thanking him for meditating together. Who is this No, Seriously person? What can Chris ascertain from my profile? Well, we can begin with my tagline which is “square peg in a round hole world” which could be interpreted as “I’m a rebel”. My photo only adds to the mystique – you know, no face and the super cool old school NYC concert venue shirt. Looking through my activity he could hopefully gather that I am a parent based on the nightly meditations from the kids – sleep section. So obviously I am a super cool mom who is defying the laws of aging. Then again, from the photo and activity combo he may think I am an immature teenager who really likes rainbow angels. The joke is on Chris. I am a really immature middle aged woman going through what appears to be the longest mid-life crisis in history! Poor Chris is in for an even bigger shocker – it’s not a angsty teenager or middle aged soccer mom doing the stalking; it’s a six year old little fireball with a penchant for unusual cartoon characters. Sorry Chris.

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Bleach

The view and the aroma was good in my corner bedroom!

As I lie in bed last night reading my book I could smell bleach as if there was a bowl of it sitting next to me. I thought maybe it was coming from the bathroom where I had cleaned earlier in the night so I walked in to take a sniff, however, there was no bleach smell at all. Apparently I didn’t clean that well if the smell had already dissipated. I went back to bed and picked up my book again only to find the bleach smell invade my nostrils once more. I quickly took a whiff of my hand and found that the smell was indeed emanating from me. This is typical. I probably got more bleach on myself than I did on the surfaces I was cleaning. I’m sure I will also find splotches on my pajama pants in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of bleach. I am one of those weirdos who likes the smell of bleach, gasoline and paint. In fact, the smell of bleach reminds me of moving into the loft that I lived in before moving in with my husband. This isn’t because the place was so clean it smelled of bleach, truth be told, the place was probably not technically fit to house human beings. It was above a bakery, so most days it smelled of freshly baked bread and cinnamon rolls. It was also a party house, so it smelled of stale beer and cigarette smoke too. But, for one night, it smelled so much like bleach that I got lightheaded from the fumes.

It was the night that I moved in, on my 30th birthday. My parents were coming over the following day and after a bottle of wine and cupcakes with a few friends I had determined that the place was not presentable. I was already nervous about my parents seeing the place where I had chosen to live. I was not known for making good choices about my living arrangements. After living in a co-op with a worse reputation than the Faber College Delta House my sophomore year in college, I had tried not to let my parents visit often. As a matter of fact, I don’t think my mom ever came to that house after my dad warned her about the fact that $150 of the $250 per semester rent went to cover the cost of the kegs that were regularly replenished in the walk-in refrigerator.

Maybe the bleach peeled the paint…

So needless to say, the fact that I was moving into another space that would host parties on the regular was not information I wanted to share with my parents. Unfortunately it was hard to hide with a mountain of empty beer bottles piled on a corner counter in the kitchen and a freezer full of Jagermeister. Also, I couldn’t guarantee that a gaggle of musicians wouldn’t show up in the middle of my parents’ visit. The front door didn’t even have a lock – which was why my dad was coming over to install a deadbolt on my bedroom door. Literally, there was no lock on the front door, but that’s not to say we didn’t have a security system. Our alarm was a floor that was caving in right inside the front door where our old ping pong table stood at an angle. Any would-be robber would take one look and assume nobody actually lived in the loft.

Looking around the loft I wasn’t quite sure where to start but the floors seemed to be something I could handle. The kitchen floor hadn’t been scrubbed in possibly forever, so I started there. It was of the 1950s linoleum variety, so it was pretty easy to scrub. Within a few minutes the floor went from brown to yellow and I almost regretted cleaning when I saw the actual color of the floor. It completely clashed with the once cream colored carpet. Plus, the stains on the carpet really stood out next to the sparkly linoleum. I evaluated the carpet and determined that the camouflage pattern was not intended, it was beer stains and dirt. I vacuumed until my hands were vibrating and the stains were still as black as ever. I finally decided that the best option would be to treat it with bleach, so that is exactly what I did. I spent the remainder of the night scrubbing at the stains on the carpet with diluted bleach. By 3 am I had scrubbed out the majority of the stains and I was delirious from the bleach fumes. I dumped my dirty bleach water and headed to bed.

Ted Nugent could have passed out on our floor and never been discovered!

I awoke the next morning and walked out to find all of the stains back in their camouflage pattern throughout the living room and down the hallway. Apparently the dirt from the base of the carpet crawled right back to the surface once the bleach dried. I debated pouring more bleach on the stains but I opted to let them do their thing. I would rather have my parents see the filthy carpet than have them wonder if I was trying to cover a murder scene with the overwhelming smell of bleach wafting through the loft. Interestingly enough, my parents never mentioned the stained carpet or bleachy smell.

I never tried to clean that carpet again. As a matter of fact I think I only vacuumed a few times after that day. I once handed a guy a bucket full of bleach water and a sponge when he made a mess all over the floor one night. He laughed until he saw the look on my face and he quickly got to work. Those stains were still there on the day I moved out.

I only lived there for about six months, but the smell of bleach still makes me think of that long first night. Other things come to mind when I think of my time living at the loft like watching drunken idiots jump down into the bakery with no way to get back upstairs, 6′ tall guys sleeping in my giant clawfoot tub, people cleaning cake off the walls while being carried on another person’s shoulders with a mop, and sledding down the stairs on bread racks. But those are all different stories for different days.

 

 

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Adventure Time

Go where the locals go and do what the locals do!

What do you do when an adventure is in front of you? Do you take it or do you look for every reason to say “I can’t”? I come from an adventurous family. We traveled a lot when I was growing up and it was always an adventure. My Dad was the kind of guy who would jump in a car, or better yet on a motorcycle, and just go. And I was right there with him ready for the next big adventure. Most people get less adventurous as they get older. They see enough of life to be scared of what they may be saying yes to and the closer they get to death, the more cautious they become. Not me! I am as carefree and impetuous as ever. When an adventure presents itself to me, I suit up and go for it.

When I was growing up we took a lot of trips by car. During these trips, we would do a lot of sightseeing but it was never planned. My Dad would take a scenic route and we would just see things. It was an adventure. It wasn’t until I got married that I realized that people actually planned to do things on vacation. My family always just showed up and figured out what to do once we got there. When I was thirteen we spent a week in Mexico where we swam, rode jet skis and visited Mayan ruins. My parents rented a car and drove us to Chichen Itza where we climbed ninety nine steps to see an empty room that smelled like feet. We also stopped at a little country store and walked through the backyard zoo where they had baby leopards and cheetahs on leashes in dog cages. You don’t see that by staying on the resort property. You also don’t accidentally drive into the middle of a cock fight in a small village because your uncle isn’t great at reading maps if you stay on the resort property, but we won’t get into that story. It still gives my Mom anxiety to recall all of the villagers peering in our open windows as we smiled and backed out of the dirty back road. We didn’t see anything other than the resort property after that little adventure.

Years later my Dad once again rented a car in a foreign country. We lost a hubcap within five miles driving down an incredibly narrow rural Irish road. We got lost once during that trip as well but it may have been because my Dad and I spent most of the night in Temple Bar and forgot where we were staying. It happens. Luckily, we didn’t wander into any cock fights, although my Dad did wander into a gay bar that was hosting a drag night. If there is an exact opposite of a cock fight, that place was it. It was confusing for the Old Man and ridiculously amusing for me and my Mom. We still bring it up from time to time. In true adventurer form we went to an after hours bar with some locals we just met, and ended up drinking real Irish whiskey in their house. This was all after my Dad almost threw down with the guy at the first bar we were at because he didn’t like Americans. I also made friends with the locals and slung drinks and DJed before crawling back to my room the second night on the Isle. Apparently we had many daytime adventures too, I just slept through most of them, waking up only to take some photos here and there. We returned the rental car with a new hubcap and about 1,000 new miles on the odometer.

When my husband and I first started traveling together it was frustrating to him that I packed the night before leaving and arrived at the airport about thirty minutes before departure for our international flight. In my defense, we have only missed a few flights in the fourteen years we have been traveling together. I have saved him hundreds of hours of my complaining by showing up as the gates are closing.

Reading the release forms took longer than the flight!

My better half is a pretty good sport even if he is a little anal about planning. On our honeymoon I got him to go snorkeling and parasailing, although both adventures were booked in advance. A year later he climbed into  a helicopter to fly around the island. He videotaped the event, which I think he is keeping just in case he ever needs to prove how I drove him completely over the edge. That was the same year that he foolishly allowed me to drive our rented Jeep around the island and I got us stuck in the sand more times than I can count.

By the time we went to the Bahamas five years into our marriage we were flying by the seat of our pants. I actually got him to plunge down a sixty foot nearly vertical slide through a shark tank where he almost sterilized himself with his swim trunks. I later sweet talked him into getting into the same shark tank with me to swim with the sharks. He now wants to swim out in the ocean with sharks. He encourages our little girl to go down the scary slides and jump in the water with the baby stingrays. In the past few years she has held starfish and urchins, crabs and even pet a baby shark. She never asks what the plan is, she makes the plans. The kid is an adventure seeker and she doesn’t even know it.

The top of this temple smelled less like feet and more like fear!

Is it strange to be more afraid of the urchin than the sharks?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t deserve the credit for my husband’s conversion though. It was the trips that we took with my parents in our early years of marriage that brought him over to the fun side. We took a trip to California to go to the Rose Bowl. Over the course of a few days we cruised up and down the Pacific Coast Highway seeing the sights. We stopped at a restaurant named Duke’s in Huntington Beach for lunch one day. The following day we found a restaurant with the same name when we ventured up to Malibu. It was, in fact, owned by the same Duke. We read in the menu all about Duke and his amazing life as a swimmer and surfer. My Mom also read that there was a third Duke’s in Waikiki (there are now six locations). She said it would be a good idea for us to try all three to make sure the food was equally as good at all of the locations. These are the kind of comments that most people laugh about and forget when they return home from vacation. Not my Dad. We ate at the Duke’s on Waikiki beach the following year.

But the view on the other side was amazing!

This view was totally worth almost killing two members of our hiking group!

Hawaii sounded like a good adventure, so off we went. While in Kauai we took a crazy raft ride to whale watch that left my knuckles scarred for life. As I was up front with my dad trying not to lose my grip, my husband and mother were at the rear of the raft trying not to lose their lunch. We also hiked two miles through the jungle after a two mile kayak paddle to find the hidden waterfalls that left my mother scarred for life. She claims we tried to kill her on this vacation by dragging her all over a few of the islands hiking, kayaking and generally adventuring. I will admit, she did almost have a heart attack when we dragged her up Diamond Head and again a few days later when my Dad found a rope swing over the water and swung around like a teenager. Not wanting to be outdone in the childlike behavior department, my husband joined the Old Man in running right past several very descriptive warning signs to jump into enormous waves crashing into the beach. After a few minutes they actually resembled the pictures on the signs with arms flailing. They reached their limit for abuse in a matter of minutes and headed back onto solid land winded but laughing. Surprisingly, my Dad didn’t try to surf on this vacation even when he saw the North Shore surf competition twenty feet in front of him. I think he knew that it may actually send my mom over the edge to have to watch him jump onto another surfboard. Most of us came home from this vacation a little battered and bruised but happier than when we embarked on the adventure.

Travel is really just the tip of the adventure iceberg for me, but it’s one of the ways that I learned to be open to the experiences the world has to offer. It was on family vacations that I learned that the best sights were seen when you least expected it and that your day could get exponentially better by not making plans and just heading out. I learned to pack light and skip reservations. I learned to talk to people and ask questions. I learned to say yes as often as possible and to go where the locals go, unless of course that is to a cock fight.

I listened to one of my all time favorite albums while writing this blog (over 3 days!)

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