Thursday, February 9, 2017

High Blood Pressure and the Blame Game

The other day, I walked into work and made a small complaint about indigestion.  “Or maybe it’s heart burn,” I said to one of my co-workers, Shannon.  “I don’t know since I’ve never had either.”

She froze in her tracks.  “You haven’t?”

“No,” I mused.  "Which is lucky, I guess, since I’m almost 40 years old.”

Suddenly Shannon was grabbing at my arms, yelling into the next office.  “Donna!  Come quick!  Shay’s stroking out!”

“Wait—" I started to protest, but then I stopped and allowed Shannon to raise both of my arms into the air.  Was I stroking out?

Shannon let go of my arms as Donna rushed into my office. They both studied me for a moment as I stood there, arms above my head.

“Well,” Donna mused, “she’s able to raise her arms up, so that’s good.  Now say something, Shay.”

“Like what?”

“Just give us a sentence.  Any sentence.”

“Um…I hope I’m not stroking out?”

Donna looked satisfied as my boss, interested in all the commotion, walked into my office.  “Her speech isn’t slurred…” Donna said.

“Well, no more than usual,” my boss contributed.  I shot him a dirty look.

“Can you smile?” Shannon asked. I gave a big, toothy grin with no trouble.

“Maybe it is just indigestion,” Donna said.  “What did you have for dinner last night?”

I didn’t have to think too hard about it. I have the same thing for dinner every night. “Two rum and Diet Cokes.”

“Well, that definitely wouldn’t have done it,” my boss said. He looked at Shannon and Donna.  “In fact, she’d probably be sick if she didn’t have them.  Have you ever seen that show Intervention and how those alkies get when they don’t have a drink?”

Donna’s and Shannon’s eyes widened.  “Oh my gosh, YES!” Shannon said.  “It’s crazy.  One time there was this one guy who was shaking so hard he had to drink hand sanitizer to make it stop and—"

“Um, excuse me, you guys,” I interjected, still standing there with my hands in the air and a goofy smile on my face. They looked back at me and I could tell they had forgotten what the point of our little impromptu meeting was.  I brought them back to the subject by saying, “Maybe I didn’t make my drinks strong enough last night?”

Donna, Shannon, and my boss ignored my suggestion.  “Well, if it wasn’t what she ate, maybe she is stroking out.” Donna looked at me worriedly.  “Did you take your blood pressure pill this morning?”

Interesting fact about me:  I’ve had to take blood pressure meds off and on since I was 22 years old. Back then, it was what I considered a funny little tidbit.  Yeah, I know I work out an hour a day and I’m fit and young and you wouldn’t expect a person like me to have high blood pressure, but it makes sense when you look at all of this hard living!  A 12-pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes a night will do that to you!

It’s not so funny anymore, you guys.  As a 39-year-old, I'm still fit and active, but I don’t live so hard anymore. There’s no nightly 12-pack and cigarettes.  I’m lucky if I can sneak in one ciggie a month with one of my responsibly-consumed rum and diets.  I was off of the pills for over 15 years before having to go back on them last year for no apparent reason except that I felt like my blood was going to squeeze out of my skin.

Now, instead of hard living, I blame genetics.  I blame someone in my past even though I don’t know whom to blame because we can’t find an example of anyone—not one goddamned person—in my family fucking tree who could take one for the team and make me look good by having had high blood pressure.

Which sucks, because my dad loves to say things like, “Ya pansyass.  If anyone should have had high blood pressure, it should have been your grandparents, who came to America via Ellis Island straight off the boat. What do you have to get all worked up about?  That your LulaRoe leggings didn’t come in the mail on time?”

Goddammit.

I still blame genetics. People will say things like, “But Shay…you eat so healthfully and work out constantly…how is your blood pressure high?”

And I’ll shrug my shoulders wryly and sigh and look pitiful and be all like, “Genetics.  You can’t choose your bloodline.”

I mean, it’s got to be genetics, right?  Someone waaaaaaaay down the line had to have given this shit to me. It couldn’t possibly have been the hard living at 22 and then, years later, the shaker of salt I have to replace once every 6 months because I pour that shit on everything including salad.

In the break room one day, I was eating a humongous, healthy kale and greens salad.  As one of my co-workers pounded her way through a Wendy’s fried chicken sandwich, I shook some salt onto my salad.  She stopped chewing for a moment to openly laugh at me and say, “Oh my gosh, you’re salting your salad?  Who does that?”

I do, motherfucker.  I do.

And guess what?  Just for that, I’m no longer blaming the hard living of my past, my family, my salt habit, or my age for my high blood pressure.

That’s right!

I’m blaming lunchroom bullies.

You guys, I’ve got to admit:  This blame game is kind of fun.  No wonder all the cool kids never take responsibility for their own shit.  It’s so much more fun to find someone else to toss the blame on!

By the way, it really had just been indigestion/heart burn that day.  And just to make sure it didn’t happen again the next morning, I made my 2 rum and diets extra strong that night.


Because it’s never rum’s fault.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hemorrhoids: The Holiday Gift that Keeps on Giving

I found a packet of soothing hemorrhoid wipes on the bathroom counter yesterday, and they aren’t mine. I haven’t suffered from hemorrhoids since about two weeks after my 5-year-old was born.

I remember sitting on my couch during a playdate, lamenting the fact that my butt hurt.  “I don’t get it,” I said to my close friend, who’d also just had a baby.  Her daughter was born a week after my son.  “He didn’t come out of my ass, so why does it hurt so badly? The only thing I can think of is that it hurts because I’m sitting on it a lot while I’m holding and feeding him?”

My friend made a sympathetic noise, but then an idea came to her. “Do you think it’s hemorrhoids?  A lot of women get them during childbirth.  I’m wrestling with a nasty case of them myself.”

Since my older son is adopted, I’d never had to go through labor before.  It was so nice to have friends with biological kids the same age as my older son who could inform me of stuff like this.

It did end up being hemorrhoids, but once they went away, they were gone for good. 

My husband, on the other hand, hasn’t been so lucky.

I don’t know what he did to receive his first gift of hemorrhoids, but I would guess that it had something to do with drinking an assload of beer on a Saturday night and then having to poop a lot the next day.  That seems to be what brings on his recurring cases, anyway.

(Aren’t I a classy writer?  Aren’t you just sitting wherever you are—at work, at your kitchen table, in your newly renovated office, at a quaint little coffee shop—thinking, I’m so glad I ended up on this page.  I know that today there is at least one thing I can thank the sweet Lord Jesus for, and that is that my eyes have been blessed by what I am reading on this page.  I do not know what I would have done had I not read about drinking a lot and shitting the next day…)

I have to say, my husband was awfully proud of that damned hemorrhoid, at least during the few minutes of each day when he wasn’t crying about it.  He nicknamed it “hemi” and walked around for three days begging me to let him show it to me.

“Come on, Shay,” he’d say.  “Let me show you my hemi.  The doctor said it was really big.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I kept responding. “No!  Nobody wants to see your damned hemi.”

Finally, one day, I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business while pounding out what I’m pretty sure was some very inspirational and/or quality stuff like this post, getting so wrapped up in my work that I hadn’t even noticed that my husband had walked up next to me.

“Hey, Shay,” he said.

Reflexively, I looked up…

…and found myself face-to-face with my husband’s butt crack, which he was spreading apart with his hands so that I could get a better view. 

“Can you see it?  Can you see it?  It’s a big one, right?” he asked excitedly from his bent-over position, as if he were personally responsible for the vein that had popped straight out of his ass.  Which I guess, technically, he was.

“Goddammit,” I muttered, shaking my head and closing my laptop.  I picked my computer up and started to walk down the hall toward our bedroom, where I could lock the door and get some work done without any further hemi sightings. 

As I reached our room, I heard my husband, presumably fully clothed once again, saying, “JEEZ, Shay, grow up. It’s only a hemi.”

Anyway, when I saw the wipes resting on the bathroom counter yesterday, I figured that it was either too much holiday partying and the resulting poops OR the diarrhea-inducing antibiotics in this flu-infested household that had caused the hubs’s hemi to pop right back up and out again.

In either case, I think I’ll stay a safe distance from him for a few days, as my eyes are only just beginning to stop bleeding from the last hemi I was tricked into observing. 

Don’t worry; I’ll get him back.  I’m thinking of “forgetting” to take my birth control just to get pregnant and go through labor, deliberately pushing extra hard in the hopes of getting a hemi that I can show him when he least expects it.


Revenge is sweet, no?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Suck a Dick

My family rarely gets into fights—

Let me start that over.

My family rarely gets into fights that last a long time.

We fight, in fact, all the time. My younger brother—the one I call Douchebag—and I have a rule that we can’t be in the same town together for longer than 24 hours.  That’s always the amount of time it takes for the newness of seeing each other (he lives in Asia) to wear off. Then we start going at it because, well, he didn’t earn the nickname Douchebag for nothing.  And I’m not the only one in the family who calls him that.

We love telling people our 24-hour rule because they’ll watch us hug in joy as, at the very beginning of a visit home, he steps off the plane. Then they’ll begin to get confused as we both immediately look down at our devices and start the respective stopwatches. 

“What are you guys doing?” they’ll ask.

“Oh,” we’ll say, sharing a knowing glance as he looks up from his fancy wristwatch and I look up from my phone, “just setting the timer.”

I’m usually the one to go on to explain while my brother doles out more hugs and kisses to our waiting family.  “We fight if we’re together longer than 24 hours.”

The observer will look in disbelief at my happy, sweet brother, busily smooching the family after not seeing them for 2 years, and then back at me, observing him with pride in my eyes.  “You two?” he or she will ask.

I’ll nod adamantly.  “Oh, yes. We even got into a fight on another continent once.  At a wedding.”

It’s one of our proudest moments.  The only reason we weren’t thrown out was because it was a long-lost cousin getting married, and they were too happy to have found us (I cannot fathom why) to have the bouncers eject us.  That night, though, we actually resolved it after I slapped him in the face a few times—because somehow, that always makes my little brother dissolve into fits of girlish giggles.

He’s a weirdo.

Anyway, my family’s fights are usually pretty intense but quick, and we’re over them within, like, 5 or 10 minutes.

However, over the past year, my older sister and my dad have kind of been at odds, and while it’s sad and I take any chance I get to encourage them to work their issues out, it’s also been kind of useful because it takes the heat off of me.  When he’s complaining about all of the ways she’s been fucking up, he doesn’t have time to complain about what I might be doing wrong.

Well, I found out the other day that they’ve worked it all out and they were all happy happy joy joy at the last family gathering, which I missed.  I knew something was up because my dad’s been all over my ass lately.  I texted my older sister:

Have you talked to Dad lately?

Yeah, she texted back. I just saw him yesterday. We went out for ice cream.

Really, Mike Brady? I thoughtIce cream?  Goddammit.  But instead of voicing that, this is what I texted back:

You need to start doing stupid shit again so he gets off my ass.  I got in trouble for saying “suck a dick” last weekend.

Lol, she wrote back.

Yes, laugh out loud indeed.  If only.

FIRST of all, it’s like my mom said that one time when my dad shot me a dirty look for telling a horrible joke. (I would tell it here, but it’s truly awful. In fact, I read it in one of those Truly Terrible Jokes books and walked around for years pretending it was my own.  It actually made me tons of friends in the cool crowd…which made me re-think wanting to be part of the cool crowd.)  (Okay, not really.  I was so excited to be accepted into the cool crowd after years of braces and bangs, goddammit.)

So my mom, as my dad was getting ready to bitch at me for telling the awful joke (at a Baptism…did I leave that part out?) caught my dad’s eye, motioned to me, and said, “Have you met your daughter Shay?  Because this is nothing new.”

I gave her a grateful look as the rest of the family kind of raised their eyebrows and nodded their heads as if to say, “Right?  Why’s he getting all pissy now when this has been going on since she slid out of the womb?”

It worked in my favor because they turned it around on him.  “He must be having a bad day…” they all muttered, whispering about him as if he were a mental patient and as if I hadn’t just told an awful joke about dead babies….at a Baptism.

That’ll teach him.

Anyway, through the years, I learned to not only embrace this crass personality, but also to hone it because, well, I’m kind of a horseface and I had to rely on other things to get boyfriends. 

And I could pull in the hotties.

A good friend of mine in college once looked at me in open awe as the most current hottie in my life pulled out of my driveway after a fun night in which I didn’t have sex with him yet again.  (I wasn’t quite the slooter I ended up being just yet. That was more my junior year in college.)

“So you're not having sex with him, yet he keeps coming around,” she murmured, thinking out loud.  “I just don’t understand….you've got that really elongated face...”  

Then she snapped out of it, realizing that she was being an asshole, but I took no offense because she was right.  I mean, she was just as homely as I was back then, but so were all of her boyfriends, while some of mine could have ended up on the pages of People’s Sexiest Man Alive issue.
 
After mulling it over for a few more seconds, she said, “Actually, I do get it.  With a personality like that, you’re never going to have trouble in the dating department.”

She had basically just called me ugly, but for some reason I felt like I had won.  “Thanks,” I replied, smiling at her and patting her head patronizingly before heading into the apartment for my morning Dr. Pepper.

So last week when my dad called to ask a question about my son’s birthday party, I was more than a little surprised when, towards the end of the conversation, he said, “Listen, Shay, there’s something I’ve got to talk to you about.”

It sounded a little serious, but I knew it couldn’t be that bad or else he’d have told me earlier in the conversation.  I thought maybe it sounded like he was about to chastise me, but I hadn’t done anything wrong…

“Yeah?” I said.  I took him off of speaker because I was in the kitchen with my boys, and I wasn’t sure where this was going.  Were they about to witness their own sweet mother getting a lecture--high-school style?

“Last weekend when you were talking to me on the phone…well, you told me to suck a dick.”

“Right,” I affirmed, chopping lettuce for that night’s dinner salad.

“Shay, you told me to suck a dick.”

“Uh-huh?” I said, throwing in a few cherry tomatoes.

“You don’t see anything wrong with that?”

“No.  And if memory serves—which it may not because I was about 3 strong ones in—you were making fun of me first.”

My dad sighed.  “Your 80-year-old aunt was with me.”

“You started it.”

My dad was quiet, and then I got silent simply because I was baffled.  I mean, it’s not like I told my aunt to suck a dick.

Finally, my dad spoke again, which I was grateful for because I really wanted to see where this was going.  My interest was, as they say, piqued.

“You don’t need to say ‘suck a dick’ when your aunt is with me.”

“But I wasn’t talking to my aunt. I was talking to you.”

“You were on speaker.”

Before I could stop it, a huge bark of laughter escaped from my throat. “What the hell were you thinking, putting me on speaker?  Everyone knows you don’t put me on speaker!  Oh, no—this is all you, old man,” I chuckled. “Totally your fault.”

I let my mind wander to the time—no, make that to the three separate times, with three different friends—when I’d called them and they answered on speaker.  One time, I had dropped a full cup of water just as my friend, a preschool teacher who fortunately was at home and not with a bunch of 3-year-olds, had picked up the phone.  Apparently she clicked it to speaker to make talking a little easier just as I was screaming, “FUUUUUUCK!” while my favorite cup soared through the air, landing on the floor and cracking.  Her 7th grade daughter was in the kitchen with her, and luckily they love me because they both burst into giggles.  The daughter rolled her eyes and said, “So that’s Shay on the phone?”

Yes.  Everybody knows—usually through experience—that you don’t put me on speaker.

My dad sighed again.  “Listen.  You need to call your aunt and apologize.”

I felt my brow furrow wildly into an expression of defiance.  I think I even did that head-snappy-back thing and flared my nostrils a little bit.  It wasn’t pretty, but given the situation, it was called for.  Even if he couldn’t see me.

“You want me to randomly ring my aunt up and say, ‘Sorry I said suck a dick seven days ago, even though it wasn’t to you’?  Should I also apologize for yesterday when I told the hubs that the town gossip was a meddling piece of shit who needs to get laid?  Or maybe I should tell my aunt I’m sorry for that time last year when I said that the shit I just took was so big that calling it a number 2 didn’t do it justice and that it should be called a number 3.  Would you like me to apologize to my aunt for those offenses, too?  Here, maybe I should get a piece of paper and make a list—“

“Alright, that’s enough, smartass,” my dad said.  “I get what you’re saying.  It’s just that…well…Aunt Jean was there, too…”

Ahhhhh…the real reason my dad was suddenly feeling all lecture-like:  one of his other older sisters, Aunt Jean the Drama Queen.  I love Aunt Jean, I really do, but the thing that makes her the happiest in life—besides slot machines and Depends--is when one of her siblings’ kids messes up and she can remind everyone about it for 3 years.

I could picture the scene:  Aunt Jean, bending her ear toward the speaker from which my sexy man voice was flowing, dropping her jaw in mock mortification at the way “you let your kids talk to you, Denny….and in front of our elderly older sister.”  (The same “elderly older sister” who is a line-dancing instructor at the local YMCA, by the way.)

My dad must have felt somehow chastised, bruised around the ego, a little bit of, “Maybe I shouldn’t let my kids talk to me like that…” (even though we have the best relationship in the world) going on in his head.

So I needed to bring him back to earth a little bit.

“This is the same Aunt Jean,” I said, acting as if I needed clarification about one of the aunts I’ve known all my life, “who walked past me last year, paused to look up at me, and said, ‘Shay, I just shit my pants a little bit’?  Right, Dad? That Aunt Jean?”

My dad sighed. He knew he was losing this one.  “But she really had shit her pants,” he tried.

“Well, whose fault was that?  She didn’t have to announce it, did she?”  Actually, I loved that she announced it, and I was honored that she chose me to be the one she told. She and I had shared a genuine moment that day as we threw our heads back and laughed, and then she went, “Oh, shit. I just did it again. I have to get to the store and buy Depends.”  (She doesn’t suffer incontinence, by the way.  We were on a trip and she’d gotten traveler’s diarrhea.)

Anyway, I loved her for telling me.  But if we were pointing fingers, let’s all remember what Jesus said—let he who lives in a glass house be the first to throw the stone.  Or something like that.

“You know what?” my dad said.  “Never mind.  Just—never mind.  Don’t call your aunt.”

“Are you sure?” I pressed.  “Because I’ve got this list of all the inappropriate shit I’ve said—“

“NO.  Do NOT call your aunt,” my dad said.

“If you insist…” I said, a smile in my voice.

My dad sighed one last time as we hung up the phone, and in that sigh, I could hear his thoughts:  What the hell kind of bullshit must I have done in a past life to deserve the shithead kids that I was dealt?

I don’t know, Dad.  Probably something really good.

I had moved into my bedroom to talk on the phone since Dad and I were throwing around a lot of “suck a dicks” in the conversation. When I returned to the living room, where my boys were now sitting, watching Henry Danger, my 8-year-old son looked up at me.

“Why was Papa upset with you?” he asked.

The hilarity of the whole situation struck me once more, and I started laughing and couldn’t stop.  Finally I managed to squeak out an answer between gasping for breath and wiping the tears from my eyes. 

“Because Mommy said a bad word.”

My son looked confused.  “But you always say bad words.”

I looked at him, eyes wide in agreement.  I threw my arms up in a broad, triumphant shrug.

Right?  That’s what I said, too!”


Ah, the wisdom of the young.  He could probably teach my aunt Jean a thing or two.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

F*ck Halloween

You might've noticed that I've taken a step back from the blog over the past couple of months--but don't worry, you 3 die-hard Trashy Blog fans out there:  I'm still writing.  Oh, yes, I'm still writing.  A lot. 

It's just coming out in different ways (kind of like a bad case of diarrhea), and sometime soon, I hope you'll see me on the New York Times bestseller list because this new novel's a beaut!

In the meantime, I hope to at some point get back into my weekly blog posts...

...or not.  I've recently begun taking imitation Zoloft to sort of quell the OCD that's been plaguing me since college, and holy fucknuggets, it works.  I simply don't give a shit anymore.  It's fabulous!

Here's how well it works:  I was told by a priest recently that I was most likely going to Hell due to my excessive use of the F word. My response?  "Fuck off."  

I almost felt sorry for him as I took in the crestfallen look on his face at the fact that his eternal condemnation of me hadn't had the effect that it might have had on most guilt-ridden Catholics; he didn't realize the imitation-Z (that's what I like to call it) was causing my indifference. Well, among other things.  Like, what the fuck does he know?

I could have said I was sorry; however, there was that little imitation-Z side effect of simply not giving a shit. So instead, I turned on my heel and skipped away humming a tune that, in my head, included tons of "fucks" that I did not give anymore.

Anyway, the whole point of the spiel above is that I'm still here, I'm still writing, and my gosh, I'm still loving life.  In a toast to that priest and to my hatred of Halloween, then, I present to you a post that I like to publish every October.  I've decided its new name is "F*ck Halloween":


Several years ago, when the hubs and I were struggling to have kids, one of my biggest dreams was to someday be able to take my own kids to the pumpkin patch just before Halloween. I yearned for it so badly that I found it hard to look at other people's pictures of their own kids, smiling from the middle of a huge mound of pumpkins.

I like to keep that memory at the forefront of my mind around this time of each year, when it suddenly strikes me once again how much I actually hate Halloween. The memory provides a little perspective when I’m suffering through what has become one of my least favorite holidays. 

Oh, I’ve got the kids now, and they’re freaking awesome. And I still tear up a little bit every year when we visit the pumpkin patch and I get my own pictures of my sweet kids jumping around in fields of pumpkins. It always occurs to me how long I waited for those moments and how blessed I am to have them.

But the rest of Halloween? It can suck my phantom balls.

I’m not a complainer, folks. I am known in my group of friends as the one who can find the silver lining in any situation. In college, my friends would come to me for validation after they’d done something they felt bad about, and I’d dispense shit like this: “Oh, you had a one-night stand? With a nerd? Well, at least that lessens the possibility of catching an STD since you were probably the first person he’d ever had sex with…and see, you did your good deed for the day for that little guy. So really, you should feel good about yourself. Go in peace to love and serve the world, my friend.”

None of my friends were Catholic or even religious, so I could pull lines from Mass out like that and it never failed that they’d look at me in awe. I probably shouldn’t have exploited that by making up random sins that they’d supposedly committed and then absolving them only after they shared their beer with me, right?

Anyway, this week, as I found myself complaining about Halloween to friends, family members, co-workers, my priest, the cashier at Wal-Mart, and that guy in the gray hoodie that was getting into the car next to me at Panera Bread, I realized that I was…well, I was being a complainer.

This was confirmed when I was bitching, once again, to one of my sweet co-workers, and I stopped and said, “I don’t mean to be all bah-humbuggy about Halloween—"

“—But you are,”she interrupted.

“Right,” I agreed.

So I decided I might as well grab a little silver lining out of it all with a blog post…that will not make me any money, but will quite certainly make me look like a huge asshole.

Whatevs.

Silver lining, bitches.

And so, I’d like to present to you on this otherwise lovely Friday morning (drum roll, please):



5 Reasons I Hate Halloween
by Trashyblog.com

1. Adult costumes

No, I will not dress up with you. You looked shocked. 

Why won’t I? Because I’m fcking 37 years old and past my Raggedy Ann prime. And so are you.

Oh, you’re throwing a party and nobody gets in unless they’re in costume? Have fun, dickwad. I’ll be at the bar down the road with the rest of the adults.

Listen, peeps, it’s not like I haven’t tried. As if I needed any help being unattractive in college, the one time in my adult life that I decided to dress up, I went as Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. It was a misguided Halloween costume effort by a dorky horseface who’d been raised by her dad.



And it might have been funny, I guess, but the problem was, nobody had told me that in a college town, the most hailed and appreciated costumes were the sluttiest ones. Hell, some people didn’t even wear costumes…they just glued sparkly pasties to their boobs and called themselves hookers. (I never figured out if they were legitimate hookers or not…or how well they were paid. Not that it would have made any difference in my career choice, of course…) 

Needless to say, after about 5 (okay, dammit, 10) people looked right at me and laughed into my blue eyeshadowed-face, cutting me off with an eyeroll and an “Oh, we know” as I tried to explain who I was, I finally got sick of it.

I found a dark corner of the bar, a dedicated waitress who pitied me and served me pitcher after pitcher of beer on the house, and a bucket so I wouldn’t even have to get up to piss.

Never again.



2. Decorations

Holy shit, I didn’t hang up my flannel shirts and start wearing makeup until I graduated college. People thought I was a lesbian until I was 23 years old. And now I’m supposed to have somehow found the grace and knowledge to decorate my house for Halloween?

I don’t think so.

Luckily we found some of those handpainted wooden pumpkins and ghosts on stakes for $5 a pop at the local Farmers’ Market. The hubs and I pound those fckers into the ground, throw an arm over each other’s shoulders as we stand back and look at the yard with its two decorations, then nod our heads in satisfaction before going into the house and grabbing a pumpkin beer.

Fortunately our neighbors go all out, so we’ve decided that if our kids ever start complaining about our lack of decorations, we’ll just tell them to look to the left a little bit.

We may not be parents of the year, but we sure are squeaking by, my peeps.



3. The aforementioned pumpkin patch that truly does make me realize once again how blessed I am, but still…

Oh, dear God, the amount of pumpkin patch visits that are required when you have kids. Pumpkin patch with our own little family, pumpkin patch with the grandparents, pumpkin patch with the best friends, pumpkin patch with the preschool, pumpkin patch with the Kindergarten class…

Holy shit, just give me the obligatory pumpkin patch picture for the year, and I’ll be fine. And you know what? We don’t even have to pay the admission and enter the pumpkin patch for that. We can just do a drive-by.

Here, kids, get out for a second, but stand on the other side of the car so that we can see the pumpkins in the background…

The last time we went to the pumpkin patch, we had the added bonus of realizing (about 3 hours later) that my youngest son must be allergic to the airborne stuff that was flying around in the huge corn kernel pit he was jumping in.

But when I said that to my mother-in-law, she responded by glaring at me and saying, “It doesn’t look like a corn allergy. I’m sure it’s something you’re doing wrong.”

Yes, mother-in-law. It normally is, isn’t it?

Oh, and let’s not forget what happens as soon as you purchase a larger SUV: Your son's preschool finds out about it.

“Oh, Shay, we need drivers to the pumpkin patch again this year. You don’t mind, do you? You’ll only be responsible for 8 children—not including your own.”

Oh, and I get to install all of the carseats into my car all by myself? And 2-3 of the kids aren’t fully potty trained?

Well, fck me.


4. Kids’costumes

I spent no less than $40 on my older son’s costumes this year. Yes, that is plural. I said “costumes.” 

That’s because the child had been asking to be a zombie for no fewer than 6 months, but then one day at Wal-Mart, he jumped the gun and begged me for the Captain America costume. He swore up and down that that’s who he wanted to be—even after I reminded him that he’d been wanting to be a zombie for months.

So we bought em-effing Captain American and his godforsaken shield. And then 2 weeks later, at Wal-Mart? A zombie costume magically appeared where no zombie costume had been before.

Hey, folks. We’ve all had moments of buyer’s remorse, so who was I to fault my little guy for it when I’d done it plenty of times myself? Especially when I, as his mother, should have known better in the first place. So I bought him the zombie costume.

A week later? He wanted to be Captain America again. The zombie might scare the old people who are out walking while we’re trick-or-treating.

Holy shit.

And don’t even get me started on my younger son. I knew he would throw a fit if I tried to put him into a costume—he’s just that type of kid—so I googled “easy costumes for kids” and found something that he’d hardly notice he was wearing: an apron. I would pair it with his little plastic pizza set from his little plastic kitchen and call him a pizza parlor owner. I wasn’t even going to make him wear a mustache.

And even though my child ADORES his little plastic pizza set and his little plastic kitchen…even though I literally have to TEAR HIM AWAY from it all, kicking and screaming when we have to be somewhere on time…when it became a “Halloween costume,” he was.not.having.it. He ripped off the apron, threw down the pieces of pizza, and shouted, “NO pizza! NO pizza!”

Then he started in on the art of compromise, something that makes me proud that he’s learned at the ripe age of two, but also the teensiest bit annoyed because he employs it on a minutely basis with me. This time, he said, “Pizza shirt. Pizza shirt” as he pointed toward his room.

He has a t-shirt with a pizza on it, picked up at the local pizza parlor one day while we were eating lunch there. He wanted to wear that as his pizza man costume.

And you know what? I can’t say I blame him. You wanna slap on a goddamned pizza t-shirt and call it a day, buddy? Good idea.Let me go find my Wonder Woman t-shirt.


5. Carving pumpkins

It’s not the actual carving of the pumpkins that’s bad. We kind of love that part, really. The hubs has sort of made it his thing with the kids, and we’ll all sit on the back deck and help carve, then we’ll stick our fingers in the goop and take silly pictures.

The problem arises when, inevitably, my 5-year-old asks if I will bake the pumpkin seeds. And, inevitably, I will respond with an excited, “Of course!” because the ones at the store are so fcking delicious and seriously, how hard could they be to duplicate?

And then, every year, my boys and husband will watch in breathless fascination as I pull the pan of baked seeds from the oven. We’ll all pop them into our mouths at the same time. And so we’ll all realize at the same moment that, once again, they’re chewy and soggy and gross. And I’ll look around at my family as I plaster a satisfied look on my face and try to choke the damned seeds back, and they’ll all be shooting me dirty looks.

I swear I can look into my 2-year-old’s eyes and see what he’s thinking: First the corn, and now this. You skank.

This content was originally posted on Trashy Blog on October 31, 2013, and trust me, bitches, the sentiments remain the same.





Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back to School

I’ve talked before about my many years as a middle school English teacher, and although I’m no longer a regular classroom teacher, it’s not because I didn’t love it. I did. I loved it so much. I only moved on because, well, life. And other opportunities that were too awesome to pass up. 

But I could see myself going back to it someday. People used to always compliment me on how great I was with the kids, and I would say, “Um, it’s because I have the personality of a 12-year-old boy. We have a blast in the classroom together. It’s hard for me to teach Mad Libs because I laugh when they use ‘balls,’ too. And don’t even get me started on ‘nuts.’ But don’t worry; they’re still learning a shit-ton because I’m a huge grammatical asshole.” 

 I was usually talking to the parents of the kids I was teaching when I gave explanations like the one above. And yet, somehow they still loved me. I’ve never figured it out, but dammit, I’ll take it. 

One of my absolute favorite stories from my time in the field happened on my very first day of teaching when I was just out of college, a fresh-faced, 22-year-old bottle blonde who acted as if she had balls of steel because she was scared shitless. Middle schoolers can be a tough crowd, you know, and I hadn’t yet learned that I had an easy knack with them and things would go really, really smoothly for the next several years. (Now I’m just bragging. Insert imaginary hair flip... “Who, me? The best teacher in the world? You shouldn’t have…”) 

It was 6th hour, and if you haven’t experienced a school day in many years, believe me when I say that 6th hour is the dreaded hour. A healthy lunch of breaded chicken patties and curly fries has just settled all the way in the body, and kids are trying desperately not to fart it off while they’re also trying to just stay awake. Everybody’s tired and nobody wants to be there. (Here’s where I have to insert a strong opinion. Teachers: TAKE THEM OUT TO RECESS for 10 minutes when you and/or they start to feel this way. I don’t care how old they are. They still need it.) 

All of the shine and sparkle of the first day of school had, by this hour of the day, totally worn off. It was hot, hair was wilting, pits were sweating and many of them hadn’t yet realized that it was TIME to start wearing deodorant (Don’t worry, I fixed that later in the year when I walked into the room and said, “Holy MOLY you guys need to start wearing deodorant. ALL of you,” and they did), it stank, and nobody had time—or patience—for fucking adjectives. 

But still, we had to suck it up and plow through the rest of the day. 

I began calling roll, not just to make sure everyone was there, but also to begin getting familiar with names and faces. Toward the end of my list, I saw this name: 

SHATIKA 

“SHAT-ika?” I said, looking around the room. I expected a quick raise of the hand, a “Here!”…something. But I got nothing. 

“SHAT-ika?” I said again, now with a little eyebrow raise that I really hoped conveyed a “Don’t fuck with me" vibe but was probably totally off. 

Still, nobody said anything. 

I sighed. “SHAT-ika?” I repeated once more, thinking, what the hell am I going to do if they do start fucking with me? Can I give a detention for not raising your hand when I call your name? Because all of the seats were full and I knew nobody was absent. 

I started noticing little twitters around the room, kids giving each other tentative glances, but I could also feel that they weren’t being disrespectful. They weren’t making fun of me. So what gave? 

In the back of the room, I saw two boys glancing at each other with knowing looks and a girl shifting uncomfortably in her chair. “Do you guys know where SHAT-ika is?” I asked gently. 

The girl’s head was kind of down; I could see that she didn’t want any extra attention drawn to her, so I decided to drop it and figure it out later. I placed an “A” for absent by Shatika’s name, and just as I was getting ready to call the next one, I heard a voice from the back of the room. It was one of the boys I had noticed earlier. 

“Um, did you maybe mean Sha-TEE-ka?” 

ShaTEEka. Of course. Even now, so many years later, I cannot believe how badly I fucked that one up. It’s so obvious when a person looks at it—I blame it on the nerves of the first day. 

All of the kids started laughing, even Shatika, and she gave me an understanding smile. She forgave my gaff and ended up being one of my all-time favorite students.  (Yes, we have them, and don’t let any teacher tell you otherwise or she’s a lying whore.)

Shatika and I still keep in touch. She sent me this video a couple of weeks ago with the message, “All in fun, Miss T!” She still calls me by my maiden name, and it makes me feel young. 

Love that girl. 

I can’t stop laughing at this video. I swear I cry every time I watch it. I love when my former students have grown up and totally get my sense of humor. Enjoy, and happy back-to-school!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blueberry Pancakes

When I was growing up, we had an open-door policy at our house, meaning that during the day, our front door was always open, and we never expected our neighborhood buddies to knock.

We had a house full of neighborhood hoodlums at all times, and, mixed with the five of us, it was enough to drive any parent crazy. 

Which, actually, we kind of did.  My mom succumbed to a few rough years on the bottle and stepping out with gentlemen callers who most certainly weren’t my dad—but don’t worry, she’s all better now.  And all’s well that ends well, right?

Anyhoo, the open-door policy was awesome and really worked out for everyone.  Well, except for that one time when my childhood best friend, the boy that I grew up with who lived next door, walked in on my mom, who was walking down the hall naked because she had forgotten her towel after her shower and for some strange reason, our towel/linen closet was in the hallway.

None of us kids were even home, so not only was it an otherwise fruitless visit for the kid, but there was also no one there to share in his misery, the poor thing.  He didn’t come over again for several days after that, and really, I’m not sure he was ever the same.

But I digress.

I realized once, in high school, that I had never even seen the inside of my childhood best friend’s house until we were 16 years old and he’d figured out that his downstairs rec room had one of those suspended ceilings that was the perfect hiding place for liquor bottles. I wasn’t even a big drinker back then—in fact, I wasn’t a drinker at all—but there was something exciting about standing on a stool, moving aside a piece of the ceiling, and shoving a liquor bottle inside.  I almost felt…dirty

To this day, I still have no idea how I had such cool friends when I would sit on the couch, watching them take shots with a prim look on my face, making sure they saw me as I did the Sign of the Cross over their liquor-filled faces.

But even then, I was still the one with the fun house.  After they’d had fun taking their shots, we’d head back to my house and sit on the porch or back deck to hang out, our parents none the wiser.

What I’m trying to say in this roundabout way is that, as a mother now, I want my house to be the neighborhood fun house (minus the nakedness and the underage drinking, of course).  I have so many good memories from living in the house that everyone wanted to come to growing up that I want to give that to my own kids.

I’m going to be the cool, fully-clothed neighborhood mom.

My husband usually enjoys having the ‘hood kids over, too, but there are times when I can tell he just wants a quiet evening at home. I always remind him on those days that if the neighborhood kids are over entertaining our own kids, that’s less work for us.  They usually only leave the playroom or the backyard to come and ask us for a few chicken nuggets and some Capri Suns—and you know what? I’ve gotten so efficient at this whole thing that I now have them at the ready.

“Of course, sweetie!” I’ll call to whomever it is—my own kids or a neighborhood stray—in my best June Cleaver from behind my computer.  “It’s all on the table!”

The kids thank me, the neighborhood moms thank me (and feel like they owe me big time, even though it seriously makes my life easier), and I get some work done while feeling like pretty much the best mom in the world.

The point of all of this (I mean, there is one…kind of) is that it’s summertime now, and in a house with an open-door policy, that means lots of sleepovers with friends.

My older son had a little friend for a sleepover the other night, and the next morning, I spent about 10 minutes picking blueberries out of his blueberry pancake so that the gagging would stop. (He prefers plain pancakes, you see, but I didn't have any because I bought them frozen like this.)

I had to stop myself from curtsying and asking, "Is everything to your liking now, sire?" before adding a dollop of syrup and shuffling out of the room backwards. 

But at least I had my clothes on, dammit.  And the kids had fun.

Neighborhood domination, one blueberry at a time?  CHECK


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Beach Vacation

Before my husband and I learned that family vacations suck a bunch of balls because I come from a family that likes to drink a lot and then fight, we used to go on them annually.  This is what happened a couple of years ago:

The first day of our extended family vacation included a 7-hour drive to get to our beach destination, followed by a 1-2 hour wait with all of our various 6 small, rambunctious children in the lobby of the hotel as the staff, who were “a little behind,” hurried to finish readying our rooms for check-in.  I think they were rushing more for themselves than they were for us; our crazy kids, working as a sort of welcome wagon on crack as soon as unassuming potential customers walked into the sliding glass doors of the hotel, were surely driving away business.

My older sister was seething; she loves the beach and didn’t want to waste a moment of our trip anywhere but there.  I, on the other hand, enjoy any moment that my kids are occupied by someone else, and during the long wait for our rooms, they were having fun fighting with their cousins over who got to ride and who got to push the luggage rack around the chairs in the room.

So my own wait for my room was spent sitting on my fat ass (even though I had just sat on it for 7 hours in the car), enjoying a complimentary bag of popcorn and cup of coffee, scrolling through Facebook on my phone after getting the hotel’s wifi password.  I did have to look up once when there was a fight between the small cousins at the luggage rack, but I nodded with satisfaction when I saw that one of my sons had won.  No need to get involved, then.  Back to status updates.

When the rooms were finally ready and we had unloaded our luggage, changing into our swimsuits and keeping only the things we would need for the beach, we hopped into our cars and caravanned toward the sand, which was about 25 minutes away.

We arrived at about 5:45 PM, my husband and I first in line.  We were stopped by a 16-year-old in a small brick building.  I rolled down the driver’s side window.

“Are you residents of the state?” he asked.

“Why?  Is it cheaper for those who are?” I replied.

“Yep.”

“Do you check ID’s if we say we are?”

“Yep.”

“Well, then, no,” I admitted reluctantly.

“Ten dollars,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Ten dollars!  That’s double what state residents pay—I just saw it on a sign!”

“Yep,” he replied.

Little shit,” I muttered under my breath, accepting a $20 bill from my husband and handing it to the kid.

But all was rectified when he handed me my change…$40!  I stayed cool and accepted it, only widening my eyes when I turned to hand it to my husband, who was in charge of keeping our cash safe for this trip.

My husband, amazed, held the $40 in his hand for a few seconds while I sat there, jaw dropped, staring at it and enjoying the moment.  Then we both snapped to at the same time.  “Holy shit,” my husband whispered without moving his mouth.  “Drive.”

Judge me if you must, peeps, but here’s how I look at it:  I choose to visit public places that charge a fee to get in, and I choose to shop at big companies that are convenient for me, and I choose to pay the prices that they ask.  But when the mistake is on them?  I don’t mind benefitting.  I’ll bet you, in fact, that I need the money more than they do.  (Is that how common-law criminals justify their actions, too?  Hmmm…)

If it makes you guys feel any better, I did say, “I hope he doesn’t lose his job,” as my husband stuffed the 20’s back into his wallet and I pressed down on the gas pedal. 

See?  I have a good heart.

We all parked our cars and began the long, arduous task of unloading beach chairs, towels, sand buckets and toys, snacks, bags of sunscreen and bug spray, iPhones for music and posting braggy beach pictures on Facebook, children, and, most importantly, coolers full of illegal beer.  We’d heard that it wasn’t allowed but that if you weren’t flamboyant about it, swinging bottles in the air, they didn’t really care, so we were going to take our chances.

As we tripped down the boardwalk, adjusting coolers and chairs and bags that we were banging us in the knees, sweating with the exertion of it all, my husband and I made sure to brag loudly to everyone.

“Guess how much change we got back from the $20 we gave the guy at the entrance?” I asked my little sister.

“Oh, I don’t know, $10?” she answered, and I knew she was proud that she got the answer right since she’s kind of stupid.

“Nope!” I laughed.  “Try FORTY BUCKS, dude!”

My little sister furrowed her brow in concentration.  I could see that her little brain wheels were spinning, and she was mad at herself for not remembering that 20-10=40.

He gave us too much back,” I said to her.

Her eyes lit up with understanding.  Then she frowned.  “And you didn’t give it back?” she asked, all self-righteous.

“Hell, no,” I responded.  “We stepped on the gas and reveled in our good fortune!”

With all of the things weighing us down and the children staggering next to us picking at shells and rocks, it took us a good 15 minutes to walk the length of the boardwalk and find a good spot to plant ourselves on the shore. 

The entire way down, my husband and I bragged about our $40.

“LOSERS!” I kept shouting breathlessly as I juggled the chairs and sand toys in my left hand and our beach bag and younger child in my right.  “You pay to go to the beach?  HA.  We’re so awesome that we get paid to go to the beach.”

Everyone was always either too annoyed or too out of breath to respond, which I understood, because with the amount of energy I was using to carry shit, I hardly had any left to speak.  But I kept at it, because it was fun.

“We should teach classes on being awesome to you fools,” my husband said at one point.  We both burst into juvenile giggles, nudging our kids so they’d join us, too.

When we finally reached a spot that my older sister deemed acceptable, we threw down our stuff.  After the very long day of travel we’d just had and the long, sweaty, cumbersome walk to the shore, all we wanted to do was get into the cool, refreshing ocean.

We were pulling cover-ups and t-shirts over our heads at the edge of the water when we heard a booming voice over the loudspeaker:  “ATTENTION, VISITORS.  THE WATER IS NOW CLOSED.  THE WATER IS CLOSED.  MAKE YOUR WAY BACK TO SHORE, BECAUSE THE WATER IS NOW CLOSED.”

My younger brother-in-law looked at me.  “Are you fucking kidding me?” he asked, his shirt halfway over his head.

“I guess I shouldn’t have made that joke about Wally World,” I said, feeling guilty.  If only I’d known how prophetic it would turn out to be when I’d said, “Watch us get all the way there and the beach’ll be closed.  I wonder if there’s a moose Dad will be able to punch.”

We came to find out from a few locals, however, that the lifeguards had to make that announcement because they were going off-duty and heading home.  Once they were gone, nobody cared if people swam or not—you simply did it at your own risk.

Which we did.  We had a blast that first evening, swimming, having a few drinks, listening to music, and just generally enjoying each other’s company for a couple of hours until it began to get dark.

That’s when the first signs of my conscience crept in, and as we were packing up to go, I said to my husband, “Seriously, what if that kid loses his job because he gave us back too much change?  Maybe we should tape the extra money with a note on the window explaining things so that he doesn’t get into trouble.”  My husband agreed, and that’s what we did.  We both felt a whole lot better about the entire situation.

Okay, that last paragraph was a total lie. It didn’t happen.  I just made it up to make myself look better on this blog.

What really happened was this:  I said to my husband, “Seriously, you don’t think that kid will lose his job for giving us way too much change, do you?  Because I used to work in retail, and if the drawer was off, meaning the money left didn’t match what the transaction report said, the checker would get into trouble.”

Then I pondered the issue for a second.  “Then again, the drawer had to be off, like, 5 times before they’d fire someone.  In which case, either the person really was stealing or he was totally incompetent—and in either case, he should get fired.  And if that happens here because of our extra change, then the state should actually thank us.  We’re saving them a lot of money on that kid’s future mistakes.”

Now I was on a roll.  “You know, I think it’s our civic duty to keep this money.  It would be irresponsible to let it continue happening.  The taxpayers would probably have to make up for it, and that goes against everything we believe in as fiscal conservatives.”

My eyes were shining; I had the most distinct feeling that I should go into politics, maybe someday running for President on the "Extra Change" platform.  But then, my husband burst my bubble with just 5 small words:

“I handed him a fifty.”

I stopped short and looked at him.  “Wait—what?”

“I didn’t realize that I’d handed him a fifty, but when I looked in my wallet, the one I had was gone, so obviously that’s what happened.”

“SHIT!” I said.  “DAMMIT!”  All of my dreams of the Oval Office went straight down the toilet, along with our “extra” $40.  And then I had another thought.  I leaned toward my husband and whispered harshly.  “You didn’t tell anyone, did you?”

As soon as the words had left my mouth, one of my brothers-in-law sauntered by, his half-empty cooler sloshing with ice as he lugged it back toward his car.  “Hey you guys,” he called snidely.  “What time do the awesome classes start?  And when I pay you, will I get the exact amount of correct change, just like you guys did today?”

All of my family members started laughing, and there were a couple of calls of “dumbasses” from somewhere ahead of us.

“So you told them, then,” I said to my husband.  It came in the form of a defeated statement as opposed to a question.

He shrugged his shoulders and nodded.

“So the signup sheet for awesome classes that we were going to have the boys draw up and hang on everyone’s doors tonight while they were sleeping won’t be necessary?” I asked, grasping at straws.

My husband shook his head firmly.  “No signup sheet.”

DAMMIT. 

I sighed, accepting defeat, and trudged the rest of the way to the car.