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Archive for the category “humanity”

You’ve got a nerve to be asking a favor

Gonna try this blogging thing again like it’s 10 years ago.

I keep my car parked outside at home. It’s not a big deal for me because I’m not really a car person. To tell the truth I’m still not acclimated to how big of a deal car culture is in Southern California. My visits to the car wash are few and far between and in the past my car has taken on a freeloading arachnid passenger.  This time my vehicle provided more than free rides.

My car is getting older and components and parts are starting to fail. My headlights have multiple bulbs in them and they’re starting to go. The car uses more engine oil than it used to. It’s new enough to have a handy sensor that lets me know when the engine oil is low or bulbs are out. I tend to let these notices accumulate until there is a critical mass, then I’ll grudgingly do something about it. I know, not the best way to take car of a vehicle.

It wasn’t time for an oil change yet so I set out on Sunday to buy more oil and light bulbs at the local auto parts store. I  bought the oil and equipped with my paper funnel tried to pop the hood in the parking lot. Didn’t work. Pulled on the latch harder (my solution for everything) and nothing. I walked around the car a few times, muttering and finally banged on the hood a few times and tried the latch again. No dice. I headed home, defeated.

I turned to your friend and mine — the internet–once I got home. There were theories (More about this later) regarding my make and model year and the hood not opening. If they were correct, I’d need some help from professionals so I headed to the local dealer. They tried all of the tricks they knew. They banged on the hood a few times and used a plunger-thingy to try to help it open. Nothing.  The mechanics stated the latch mechanism has two parts, one for each side, and that the linkage between them must be broken. They said they’d be willing to fix it but it would be expensive.  My mechanic suggested a body shop that could do it for less.

I made my way to the body shop. It was busy as hell and I waited for almost an hour before I could get someone to look at my car. The Body Shop explained up front they were not comfortable because they couldn’t guarantee the hood to latch again. I explained to them that I understood, but there were some pressing maintenance issues (like engine oil) that could only be solved by opening the hood.  I’m OK with taking a chance. They told me to come back the next morning (not ideal) and would see what they could do.

I went back the next day, dropped it off and went to a coffee shop to wait. The mechanic called me an hour later, told me had opened the hood and to come back. The shop workers were laughing when I walked up and told me they figured it out and the hood was fixed. I was surprised as I had been game planning on how I would get to work with a non-working vehicle.

The issue? I had a rat living in my engine.

The rat had been bringing in palm tree seeds and pods and storing them where the hood latches were and jammed them full so it wouldn’t open. The rat also shredded the engine blanket on the hood and fashioned himself a little home. There were seeds everywhere in the engine. The mechanic did his best to get most of the debris out some are just too tough to get to.

Now that the mystery was solved I had another problem. How do I prevent my rat from returning? A few days later I went to get an oil change and there was another lovely nest on the engine. I still have all kinds of questions about this. Would the rat leave when I got in the car? Would it cruise with me? If it left, where did it go? Eventually I started checking every day before I left whether it was still building nests. Every morning I would see this: rat nest

Looks comfy, right? Eventually I bought a rat trap and placed it directly under the car.  This rat was too crafty for my trap and I spent weeks throwing away nests and getting rid of seeds. Eventually it gave up or died, but not in the trap. The rat lives in my memory as a comfortable, fat rat much smarter than me.

The Evolution of Friendship

In 5th grade our teacher tasked us with an in class assignment.  Whom do you admire and why?

My first thought was my Mom.  She was and still is the best mom and friend a girl could ask for.  However instead of writing an essay about my mom I looked to the girl seated next to me and asked who she was writing about.

“Madonna! Of course!” stated the popular girl wearing head to toe Esprit, oversized plastic hoops, and three layers of color coordinating socks.

Instantly I was insecure about my choice.  Perhaps Mom was the wrong role model.

I replied, “Oh cool, I’m writing about Cindi Lauper.”   Esprit girl nodded in approval and smiled at me.

The problem was I didn’t know anything about Cindi Lauper.  I knew “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and I had definitely belted out an impressive version of “Time after Time” in the shower on numerous occasions.  The front of my cassette tape indicated Cindi liked crazy hair and lots of bracelets.  She wore neon colors and her MTV videos were cool.  Other than that I knew NOTHING.

cindi cindi2

Luckily I have always had a ferocious imagination and managed to write an entire essay expressing my devotion to a complete stranger.  I received an A.  I still remember the sick feeling in my stomach when my Mom saw the title of the essay and then the reaction of my subject.

5th grade is my first memory of choosing friends over family.

Looking back I can remember disappointing my parents with my consistent worship of school girls.  I would fight to spend time with them, sneak out at night, and put virtually all loyalty aside to be accepted.  I consistently made poor choices and changed who I was to be accepted and part of a group.

Fast forward to my early 20’s and I began flourishing at making girlfriends.  We had a BLAST.  I had lots of best friends and I loved them dearly.  I picked them for holiday getaways, nightly phone calls, and even developed an official (almost famous) group people called a Blonde Coven.   Luckily I could always dump my pesky responsibilities on my parents so I could devote more time to “my girls”.

By my mid-twenties I thought of myself as the life of the party circuit.  I had scored an amazing job working for Budweiser and they paid me to make friends and buy cocktails.  My expense allotment had no ceiling.  I could spend 10,000 dollars in one evening and would be given a pat on the back for doing a great job.  Can you imagine how many friends I made with an unlimited bar budget?  People followed me everywhere.  I always had tons of girlfriends wanting to hang out with me and everyone was so accommodating!

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  party7 party5party9party8

During the peak of my social career I stumbled. Literally.  I was dressed as Rainbow Brite for Halloween and had found fabulous stripper height rainbow shoes.  With my entourage behind me I managed to crack the heel and fall face first into the gutter.  Luckily my “friends” picked me up and graciously offered to carry me to the cash only venue boasting the best Halloween Party of the year.  I felt so lucky to have such amazing people supporting me.   It never occurred to me the 5,000 dollars in my purse and pre-paid VIP area could have been the motivator.

strippershoes

The next day my ankle was blue and I could barely walk.  I grudgingly went to the doctor who immediately told me it was broken.  I was given a cast and strict orders: Stay off your ankle for 8 weeks.

cast

After one week of replying to texts and phone calls with, “I broke my ankle and can’t go out” my phone fell silent.  Really silent.  Some days it never rang or pinged an incoming text.  Most of my friends disappeared.  My own roommate (who loved the perks of my job) became annoyed with me and started leaving things in the way so I couldn’t get down the stairs or in the kitchen.  It was horrible but enlightening.  I didn’t get angry with the people who left me.  I have never been good with grudges and my anger dissolves quickly.  However I did learn the lesson of true friendship.

lonely

Shortly after my realization I met Mike.  He became my best friend and the center of my universe.  I left my job and moved on to a better position albeit less money to spend in bars.  The pseudo friends I had disappeared into the beach bar scene and probably attached themselves to the next alcohol funded wallet.  When Mike and I married my mother was my Maid of Honor.  Two of my three bridesmaids were from my childhood.   Our wedding was small, only 49 guests.  I had learned my lesson and although I had groups of friends I knew how fleeting it could be.

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I became a bit more cautious with making friends.   I had girlfriends but began focusing my energy on starting a family and spending time with my core group.

Over the past eight years my social circle has been quietly rebuilding.  I have a few small circles of friends encompassing every facet of my life.   It isn’t flashy.  I don’t talk to most of my friends daily. Some I speak with weekly-some even monthly and everyone seems fine with this.   I used to pride myself on being the leader or social chair of all of my girlfriend groups.  Now I am thrilled if someone can squeeze in a coffee date.  Priorities change.

Last Sunday I wasn’t feeling well.  I didn’t sleep most of the night and knew something was wrong but couldn’t decide if it was the flu or just a bad case of cramping.  It continued through Monday and at my mom’s urging (It might be Endometriosis! It runs in the family!) I made a doctor’s appointment for Tuesday morning.  My doctor took one look and said my abdomen was swollen and I needed to go to ER.  I thought she was crazy and drove home first.  After all I had the girls’ car seats, needed my work laptop, and should probably pack a lunch.  By the time I got to ER I was annoyed and embarrassed.  After all who shows up to ER with their laptop, a packed lunch, and Starbucks?  Granted I didn’t feel like eating or drinking but I certainly wasn’t on my death bed! After hours of waiting I was ushered into a room, given a CAT scan and told my appendix needed to come out.  Immediately.  I was in shock.  Mike was home with the girls and we both assumed I would be coming home.  I was hooked up to an IV and a few hours later was wheeled into surgery.

hospital

Aside from Mike and my parents only two people knew.  My lovely Hannah (who is almost 9 months pregnant) and my bestie Molly who I had been chatting with earlier in the day.  Hannah wanted to come to the hospital and kept texting me.  Molly wanted to pick up my children.  I kept telling them no and they bugged me all night.  I didn’t need their help but their insistence tickled me.  I kept imagining my hugely pregnant Hannah pacing away in ER grossed out by all the nasty sick people and demanding to know what was going on.  Meanwhile Molly and her husband Scott would be wrangling our children in their fabulous penthouse apartment.  My kids would definitely be negotiating ice cream and all night snuggles with them and their doodle Sandy.

After the surgery I recouped and then Mike brought me home.  My friends heard the news either through me or a mutual friend.  My phone began ringing and my text message pinging.  Friends called to check in but also asking if they could take our girls on play dates.  Friends offered to drive them to school.  Friends wanted to know what they could do!  Dinner gift cards arrived.  Flowers.  Desserts.  I was loving the post-surgery weight loss but luckily my friends felt I needed to fatten up by sending sugar cookies, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, etc.  My FRIENDS are still checking in to see what they can do.  My group of friends range from single mid-twenties bikini models to experienced mothers of 5.  Everyone has contacted me to see what they can do.  Over the past year I have made friends with a few phenomenal women in our neighborhood.  These women immediately jumped in to help with my children and offer their support.

help

What a difference.

I have never felt more blessed than the circle of people I know now.  The friends I have made over the past few years have encouraged me.  My best girlfriend Eva had always been suspicious of new girlfriends. Looking back she was probably right.  She never liked a large group and told me not to trust others.  I didn’t listen and was often burned.   She still loves me and sent me cookies thank goodness 😉 Lately she has found a group of girlfriends who cherish her.  We don’t live near one another so our journey is an individual experience.

Adult Friendships are AWESOME!!!

Holy moly this is what all knowing adults talked about!   I have friends who want to hang out with me without alcohol or my expense account.  I have friends who offer to help with my children, my health, and my mind.   For the first time I have friends who help me more than I help them!  To be honest I don’t know what to do.  I am not accustomed to people giving without any type of expectation of reciprocation.

For those of my friends who read my blog, thank you for everything you do.  I feel so blessed to have a support system in my life and know I am beyond lucky.

While writing this our two year old has been organizing plastic cups.  Every few moments she says, “LOOK MOMMA” seeking my approval.  It is adorable and I cherish the short amount of time we have while our girls care most about our opinion not their peers.   My hope is we can try to impress the importance of family and character on them during the impressionable years.   I know people will hurt them and it tears me up to know it is inevitable.  However I am filled with happiness knowing if they put forth their best there will be a day real friends will be there.

Happy Friday!  xo Mari

friends

I’m Sean Connery, James Bonding with none of you

My favorite recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live is Celebrity Jeopardy.  I realize this doesn’t exactly make me unique.  I make up for this with fervent fandom.  My buddy Greg got me an outstanding shirt that lists some classic Celebrity Jeopardy categories.  Whenever I wear it (sorry can’t find pic) I get at least one remark from a rando in public.  Thanks for the shirt, Greg!  My brother-in-law Robbie graciously made me a CD (way back when) that had all of the audio files.  Still have it in my car and still laugh at it.

Despite all of the love I have for the sketch, I managed to miss the 3 hour SNL 40th Anniversary show AND neglect to DVR it.  Because I’m smart like that.  My friend Andy that knows I love the sketch even texted me to let me know it was on and I completely flailed. Thanks for the effort, Andy. Good looking out.

The lesson, as it frequently is here, is that I’m a moran moron.
moranHere’s a picture verifying this.

So, I ventured online to see what I could see and have been watching snippets. But the coolest thing I found was Norm MacDonald talking about the history of Celebrity Jeopardy and what it was like helping to write the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch for SNL 40. Well worth your time to read through it. Here’s a storify link, which is much easier to read than when using twitter. I learned a lot from it. Check it out and let us know what you think. 🙂

Here’s the skit from SNL 40:

thanks again Andy G for linky!

Don’t look back in anger

Welp, Mari and I took a bit of a blogcation.  It was quite lovely and I, for one, feel refreshed and ready to word-vomit all over this place.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

Over the past 5 years or so I’ve made a Christmas wish for humanity.  In 2014 I wished that everyone could experience empathy for people that aren’t in their own tribe.  In hindsight, that was waaaaaaaaaaaay to much to ask for.  If 2014 taught me anything it taught me people use empathy as a tool in conversations but they’re not getting what it means.  I think there are good reasons for this.  Empathy is difficult.  Empathy also leads to undesired self-reflection.  It is much easier to take the easy road of applying your beliefs to everyone and think you’re awesome and no one else “gets it”.

So a definition seems appropriate here:

The ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

Many people conflate empathy with sympathy. I choose to view it this way to avoid confusion: Sympathy is “feeling with” a person, such as compassion or commiseration; Empathy is “feeling into” someone else. It is the ability to project one’s own personality into another person to better understand that person.

Over the course of 2014, as empathy became a buzzword, I observed many people attempt to demonstrate that they are empathetic. Some people succeeded and it made my heart happy. Some people failed (I’m definitely in this group–it’s a work in progress). Some of these fails were spectacular or made me chuckle. I had someone tell me, “I’m trying to be empathetic but everything you think and say are just wrong.”. I appreciate the initial effort but this person isn’t taking things far enough, in my opinion.

I had another person, after saying he treats all races the same state, “no one cares about race but race-hustlers”. He refused to listen to racial groups alleging institutional racism because he believed “it doesn’t exist”.  When I disagreed and poked some fun (I had predicted earlier this would happen) he went completely off the rails. He listed numerous things that he does for charity, launched into a diatribe about what he perceived were my personal failings (which he had to imagine/make up), then passive-aggressively tell me that empathy is telling me that he’s sorry I’m so angry (which he again made up). That was a complete empathy failure during a purported demonstration of empathy. Good times.

I’m tempted to be disheartened about these developments.  However this year I’m choosing to be hopeful about them. I’ve known the above referenced people for a long time and even those efforts are significant for them. On a broader level empathy is injected into political campaigns, lawmaking and normal conversation at a higher rate. Empathy is aspirational. I think these are good things and I’m going to work harder to get it right. I’m hopeful because the elevation of empathy as a desirable trait will do us all well.

I’ve got something against you.

This post is purely aspirational for me because I have a very hard time doing what I’m going to propose. From what I observe, the same holds for a lot of people. So here goes: Be for things. Don’t just be against things. Sounds simple, right? Watch me go off the rails straight away……

The inspirations for this post come from a couple of online personae that I admire.

The first is Cleek’s Law.

Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily.

Pretty straight-forward, no? It also reeks of the truth. It’s quite easy to sit back and lob criticism at your ideological opposition but offer no solutions. These criticisms don’t need to be true or even make sense. They could be based on perception or potential perception of an issue. They could rely on all sorts of fallacies. Slippery slopes. Straw men. The intent is to invalidate the actions of one’s opponent by making a broad assertion and then force the opposition to defend itself.

Conservatism does not offer solutions. Sure, they trot out supply-side economics (trickle-down theory) and tax cuts that will pay for themselves, but these theories have an awful empirical track record. See, Kansas, State of, for a current example. Restating an ideology that has been shown not to work in the current operating conditions isn’t offering a solution. So we’re trapped in a zero-sum game. Everything that one’s opponent does must be wrong, because it comes from your opponent.

The second is related to Cleeks law and is called Davis X. Machina’s Law.

The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of who will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.

As a note up front, I get a lot of pushback when I quote this law. The substance of the pushback hasn’t ever been that people act this way. It is always about whether sparrows can fit on curtain rods to cook them. Whenever I hear this line of objection, I know that the criticizer is giving up on the merits of the law (the actions of the people) and trying to divert attention to the trappings of the argument. Basically, they’re trying to say that since a sparrow can’t fit on a curtain rod (or more accurately, they refuse to admit that they are small in diameter curtain rods), then the conclusion must be wrong. Ummmmmmm…no.

The point is that people will act against their interests as long as it hurts the “right” people. But why is this? As discussed above, it’s easy. It’s the path of less resistance. It is much easier to “punch down” on the people one wants to be disadvantaged than it is to “punch up” against the powers that be to obtain something for one’s benefit. Personally, when I see someone acting against their own interests in order to harm others it screams to me that the primary motivator for that person is hatred. It’s not a very good look. For anyone.

So what to do then? Try to make positive arguments and bolster those with negative arguments. By this I mean be for something, not just against things. I’m not saying one should never use a negative argument. Pointing out the deficiencies of your opponent is not necessarily a bad thing. However, over-reliance on negative arguments can be and is a bad thing because it is extremely difficult to find common ground. Only negative arguments is not a persuasive technique. I sometimes find myself painted in a corner and taking pot shots at an opposing viewpoint. I may even be making valid points about the weakness of the viewpoint. But in the back of my mind I know I’m not being constructive or persuasive.

Isn’t it weird that a privilege could feel like a chore?

Personal failure: I refused to acknowledge or consider my own privilege for a loooooooong time.

I suppose a definition will be helpful here. I’ll go with this one:

the set of societal privileges that white/male people benefit from beyond those commonly experienced by people of color/women in the same social, political, or economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.). The term denotes both obvious and less obvious unspoken advantages that white/male individuals may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The concept of privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one’s own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal.

What led me to examine these privileges? Being taken behind the proverbial woodshed in online and meatspace conversations. I’d like to thank not only the people that patiently pointed out my ignorance and took the time to educate me, but also the people that rightfully mocked me. The mockery stung but I (eventually) saw that even though I intended to be a good person I was choosing to ignore something important.

Once I admitted that these privileges existed I needed to take the next step and ask myself why I chose to ignore them. This was a difficult step. I relied on my perception that “things are much better than they used to be” to justify my choice to ignore the systemic structural and cultural issues that exist today. I pretended that today represented a true meritocracy and that women, people of color, etc. had zero impediments to success other than their own desires and efforts.

Many people believe they are “colorblind” and I don’t doubt their belief. But even if it’s true, it’s only a partial victory. Stephen Colbert has a great line about this:

Now, I don’t see color. People tell me I’m white and I believe them because police officers call me “sir”.

I love this line, but I didn’t realize the full implication of it until I saw it referenced in a twitter discussion about libertarians and race. Colbert slyly exposes his privilege while disclaiming it, which is genius. His purported colorblindness is a defense of his privilege.

Another reason that I refused to admit my privilege is that I liked the results. This, sadly is a remnant of my lamentable detour into libertarian beliefs. I internalized the “culture of dependence” argument. I thought that other racial groups and women would be OK with just pretending that everything was suddenly equal. Mind you, I didn’t bother to ask any of these groups.

So what does it mean for me now that I’m able to admit my privilege? It does not mean that the existence of the privilege is the only determining factor when faced with an issue. It does mean that I am better able to properly empathize with different groups’ positions. People sometimes let me know that acknowledging privilege is naive. Or it is “playing into their hands” like this is some sort of zero-sum game. Or it is white guilt. I don’t agree. Instead I know that I would feel guilty perpetuating the illusion of things being OK today. There is still much to be done.

My dog was lost but now (s)he’s found.

bianca bee

Our family did something that I never, ever thought we would do. We gave away one of our perfectly healthy dogs that we love very much. In the past we joked about giving her away, but in my heart I truly believed that we would never do it. My stubbornness and misplaced belief of my abilities as a dog-owner would not allow such a thing to happen. But we did it and things are better.

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Bianca came to our family during a difficult period. My wife and I each brought a dog to our relationship. I brought our aussie cattle dog and she brought a maltese named Harley. Unfortunately, Harley passed away far to early due to some medical issues. Our hearts were broken as Harley was a very special being. We quickly found Bianca to help us with the loss and because we both wanted a maltese in our lives. I never thought I would be a small dog person. But I loved Harley so much. Bianca was very mellow for a couple of days. Then, she busted out with a breezy vengeance. She would hide under the couch and sneak attack a passerby’s ankle. She would fling herself out the doggy door and down three steps like she was invincible. When we first took her to the bay, she followed our cattle dog in like she had been swimming her whole life. She had some hilarious quirks. She would fake injuries to get attention (a maltese trait). She would try to boss around the dogs at the park until another dog pushed back.  Then she would yelp like she had been shot and run to her “big brother” to protect her. Read more…

Confessions of a somewhat good person

angel

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When I think about the differences between me at 35 versus me at 20, I see that the basic foundation is similar. I am definitely not an angel but like to think of myself as a pretty good gal.  People like me, mostly.  Lately I have been thinking about the antics younger me pulled and came to a scary conclusion: Younger me and older me aren’t so different and would probably be good friends.  For some reason I thought having kids and becoming an adult would miraculously make me a different, perhaps better person.  Oops. Do any of these sound familiar to you??

Adult me versus Kid me

As a grown up I knowingly make a difficult dinner and often do a bit of baking the day before our housekeepers come.  Dinner and baked goods taste better when I don’t have to mop up the flour my daughter spills and clean the oil off the stove top. Younger me rarely had a clean house but I had a special closet saved for emergency visits. This closet housed loads of laundry, fast food bags, and boxes of trash.  When people came over they assumed I was neat and tidy, not knowing about my stash. — In my late teens I worked in a department store. While working a boring day shift, I pretended to faint in order to be sent home.  The reason? My girlfriends were going water skiing and I wanted to go. As a side note, I don’t recommend doing this if you work in a corporate job.  Did you know state law requires a company to contact an ambulance if an employee faints? I was not equipped with this information and was surrounded by with a wide array of handsome firemen and EMT’s… On second thought if you are single this may be an excellent opportunity to meet someone 🙂 It couldn’t possibly be a waste of time and resources on the part of emergency crew. fireman A few years ago, I knowingly took a sick employee on a work trip with me because I liked her the most.  When we got into town she was horribly ill.  Since I had brought her I couldn’t have her call in sick so I taught her how to faint to be excused from her work shift.  Not to worry this environment would not necessitate a 911 call.  The bar industry calls a cab not an ambulance. —– In my twenties I was constantly running late. Instead of curbing my poor behavior I would count on people to forgive me because I was cute.  If they didn’t I would be confused, and wonder why they were so mean! Now, when I am in a hurry at Target I will look down and quietly cut off others in the check out line, then give my surprised, “Oh my gosh I didn’t see you” smile and it usually works. —- When I see people I haven’t been good with keeping up with I will duck the other direction. When I get home I will send them a message telling them I have been thinking about them and schedule plans to get together. Younger me LOVED running into people. It was so fun! I typically ran into them at night and we would be drinking and I would tell them how we needed to hang out the following week and forget to follow through. —— As soon as I got pregnant I traded in my shiny sports car for the largest most ridiculous SUV I could convince Mike to purchase.  Now that I am so big I am more aggressive and cut people off, knowing I am bigger.  I always smile, wave, and say THANKS as if they had a choice. suv When I was younger and couldn’t find a parking spot, I would park in red and put my hazard lights on.  This worked almost every time.  When my car was finally towed I figured it equated to a small price to pay for all the illegal parking I had done over the years. —– I have used the having kids excuse at least a dozen times to get out of something–usually work related that I don’t want to do. Years ago, the flat tire excuse worked at least a dozen times to get out of something–usually work related that I didn’t want to do.  —  In my twenties I became obscenely in debt.  I spent thousands of dollars on designer clothes and handbags and fabulous trips with my girlfriends.  Toward the end of my spending I recall using three credit cards to purchase one top.  I was not embarrassed. As a mom I try to buy key groceries on sale. I love seeing the “savings” at the end of the checkout and consider the wine I purchase to be free if it is the same amount of the amount discounted.  Hooray! yippee1(image from http://www.indieberries.com/)

Looking at this list I couldn’t help but laugh.  My parents swear I am a fabulous person and have grown up so much over the years.  They are biased.  I do know I am a much better friend than when I was younger.  I believe I am kinder, more empathetic, and genuinely concerned with others.  But today’s blog isn’t to tout my growth as a human being. xoxo Mari

A me seh one thing Nancy cyaan understan

It’s weird to really like and enjoy a movie but associate negative connotations to it. For me that movie is The Royal Tenenbaums. I love pretty much everything about it — except how it makes me feel.

It was Spring Break of 2002. Spring break was already meaningless for me as I had entered the job market, but my then-sorta fiancee (long story) Nancy was a teacher so it was Spring Break for her. Over the first weekend of her break we went up to the mountains and did some snowboarding. We were planning on heading up again the next weekend as the conditions were great. During the week, I had to work and she was going to goof off.

On Monday Nancy and her friend went and saw The Royal Tenenbaums with her friend Betsy. We were both huge fans of Rushmore so I was bummed that I didn’t go but figured I’d catch it later. Nancy raved about Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance as Margot and strongly identified with her character. At first the identification was just physical. “She wore her hair at the same length as me with a barrette.” “Her wardrobe looked like it was pulled from my closet.” “We have the same mannerisms”. In hindsight, those things are all true. Her identification went beyond the physical, however. I just didn’t know it at that time.

The next day I was sitting at work prepping for an afternoon meeting. The meeting got rescheduled. I had a bunch of stuff that I could have done that afternoon but I figured that it was a “stolen” afternoon and I’d check in and see what Nancy was up to. “Ummmmm, I’m going to see Royal Tenenbaums again,” she stammered after I explained my free afternoon.

“Oh cool! I’ll come and meet you guys. You going with Betsy again?”

“Ummmm yeah, we don’t know which showing we are going to.”

“Great, let me know. I’ll probably be home in about an hour.” Read more…

I’m not like you and I don’t want your advice or your praise or to move in the ways you do.

Part 2 of the Supermarket Madness Series. Previous entry here.

We used to live in a little neighborhood in Oceanside tucked up on a hill behind a decent-sized shopping center. Due to some geographical quirks and freeway planning, we could walk to the shopping center in under five minutes but the trip by car took about 15 minutes and the use of two freeways. There was an emergency vehicle road that cut straight down the hill and emptied out into the parking lot about 5 houses down from our house. We didn’t use the shopping center all that often. It didn’t have the grocery store we like (but it did have a great taco shop for al pastor burritos). It also had a Walmart Super Center, and we went there to pick up things out of convenience. I’m not a fan of Walmart, for a bunch of reasons. I did (mostly) appreciate having it close by and using it as a convenience store.

Back then my lovely wife and co-blogger and I spent a lot of time in our back yard. We’d play backgammon, enjoy some cocktails and (GASP!) smoke some cigarettes. When we’d run low on supplies, the loser of the next game had to venture out. One day we needed some more wine and some smokes and I lost the chore-deciding game (likely due to some cheater-rolling of the dice by my opponent) so I sourly sauntered down the hill to Walmart.

As an aside, the emergency road hill was pretty steep and emptied out into a large parking lot. I loved to take the skateboard and ride down the hill and surf my way through the lot. I definitely frightened some people, either by almost plowing into them or they just feared for my safety. I also entertained some people. None more so than a group of kids (probably ranged from 13 to 17 in age) that were riding down the hill one day when I showed up at the top of the hill. They eyed me warily but saw I had the skateboard with me. We exchanged some pleasantries and I watched for a few minutes. They were taking off quite a bit farther up the hill than I was. I went down to the bottom of the hill to watch out for delivery trucks using the ring road that couldn’t be seen from the hill and for security. I finally took a turn, after saying something lame about how low I was starting, and cruised through the lot trying to carve some turns. Of course, to impress teenage skaters, I moved my start point up near the top of the hill. That was a bad choice. I started to get the “death wobble” because I was going too fast and was tentative. I tried to slow down by using the footbrake, but that was a bad choice. I promptly did the splits and heard my groin pop. The skater kids laughed and laughed and laughed. Eventually I did too and pulled myself and my pride together and went to the Walmart. Lamentably I forgot my ID and they refused to sell me smokes, even after I started shouting that I had grey hairs in my sideburns so I have to be old enough. I limped down to the Stater Brothers and then home so my wife could have a turn laughing at me. Solid day all around. Read more…

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