Prejudices and Stereotypes

I hate tattoos. I especially hate seeing them so often adorning the skin of 20-somethings these days. When I see a person with a visible tattoo on their arm, chest, shoulder, or leg, I question their intelligence. I wish I didn’t, because I spend a lot of time telling my midgets not to judge a book by its cover.

Actually, do I tell my midgets not to judge? Now that I think about it, I think I do teach them to judge adults, at least. I tell my midgets to trust their guts. If a person sounds/talks strangely, approaches them/invades their personal space, appears threatening (dirty? aggressive? drunk? high?) to avoid them like the plague. And I have threatened them with tattoo removal via razor blade if they ever dare to mark up their skin permanently. For me, the idea of adding a tattoo is like adding another barrier to one’s personal, educational and professional success. Why put up more roadblocks to your success than there already are? Isn’t life hard enough as it is? A tattoo, to me, is not about expressing individuality. I consider a tattoo to be a short-sighted decision with long-term implications.

I watched a Russell Peters show last night on Netflix, on which he expounded upon his hatred of tattoos as only a comedian can; by making fun of people who have them. In particular he took a 19-yr old woman to task, telling her she should have her skin for at least 20 years before marking it up. Further he points out a dragon tattoo on a white guy, comparing that tattoo to one of a dragon on the arm of a Chinese guy. According to Peters, at least the Chinese guy has a cultural connection to the symbol of a dragon. Yes true, but still. Dumb.

I love (not actually) when people in their 20s have (what seem like) random images that appeal to them at the time. And with all of the foresight someone in their 20s can muster, they can’t imagine ever regretting the decision to apply permanent art work to their skin. After all, they are fully fledged adults and perfectly capable of making their own decisions. Likely they haven’t experienced real regret in their lives yet. I’m sure they think they have, that they are wise and smart, but in one’s 20s you have no idea the twists and turns your life will take in the decades to come. I remember trying to imagine the challenges and issues I might face in my far future, and I was unable to. I still am. But at least I am insightful enough to realize I don’t know everything.

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Planning myself into a ball of stress

Gah, I am in the throes of trip planning for next summer. Originally, for various reasons (English-speaking country desired, getting in touch with our roots) we chose Ireland as our big summer 2015 destination.

So, I mocked up an itinerary, complete with educated calculations for flights, camper rental, fuel, site seeing fees, camp site fees, and meals. All of it calculated and then converted to our currency. Behind these numbers is a wealth of research into site seeing must-dos, a driving route around the entirety of Ireland, how much time to allow at each site, where we are sleeping and how much gas we will use. So, a lot of research. I’m the kind of traveler who thinks that if a little bit of site seeing is good, then more is even better. After all, when would we get to Ireland as a family again? Probably never, so I had better make this trip count. We should stretch ourselves physically and financially to see the most meaningful sites, which would amount to a lot of driving, which includes a lot of direction-figuring (nevermind the GPS, we would still have to navigate/concentrate for hours each day) and patience.

3+ weeks of that sort of thing doesn’t signify, for me or husband, a relaxing vacation. Heck, not a vacation at all. And having grumpy parental figures doesn’t usually equate a vacation for the midgets either, I have found. Our greatest trip we have taken en famille so far was to Paris, where we stayed for a full month. I had drawn up daily itineraries from which we could choose, and either during the night before or breakfast that day would make a decision on what we are going to do that day. There were days when we didn’t do much of anything except wander around our neighbourhood and stop for impromptu picnics where appropriate (i.e. wherever there was a patch of grass and a need for us to stop for a break).

Thus, Ireland has been scrapped, pretty much. I quickly looked at the tally for the trip and thought about going to an all-inclusive beach or something, but with that money we would be able to afford just 1 week. And as an educational type trip for the midgets, an all-inclusive beach vacation falls short.  So.  After conferring with husband and with boy midget who is now 13 and so has opinions (which I make him stand up for because otherwise he can mouth off without backing up those opinions with hard facts/work/plans), we have tentatively decided on London UK. The reasoning is that, we can have 1 home base for a few weeks there, and can follow the same sort of pattern as in Paris: we would have some day trips planned and we would choose what to do on what day. Less rigid than the Ireland trip and hopefully therefore a bit easier too. To offset the cost of staying in such an expensive city, we would eat breakfast at the apartment and pack a lunch, probably. Dinners out are inevitable because by the end of the day I’m not interested in cooking/cleaning/etc. I mean HFS I don’t like the dinner routine when I’m at home, much less on vacation. Now of course, because we would already be in Britain, I figure we should make the trek to see Edinburgh and Hadrian’s wall. And if we’re going that far up we should go to Fort William or Inverness. And if we’re doing that, we should stay in Scotland for a week and maybe even go to Isle of Skye. You see what I’m getting at here? I can’t stop myself, and before I know it I’ve planned myself into a tiring, extravagant trip. I’m working on curtailing that but so far I haven’t had much luck.

Tonight we have more people checking into our airbnb lodging, and boy midget is doing the cleaning. For this I give him the cleaning fee ($25), which is a great income for him. All I need to do is gather up the required cleaning supplies and then inspect his work when he is finished.

Is it too late to work on a garden, halfway through a cool summer? Because I need to do something with the backyard.

 

The Morning Rush?

I had to be at work a little earlier than usual today to attend a meeting. I got there on time, by the way.

Before that though, I had to take care of the morning tasks. My alarm went off at 6:45 am and I jumped out of bed. I got ready for the day in about 15 minutes, which is average for me. I’m pretty freakin’ fast, and able to do all of that while 2 dogs are hoping around me and pleading with their eyes to please hurry up so we can go to the beach.

Summer in our neighbourhood is wonderful, especially after a hard rain like we had last night. Last night was fine for me but traumatic for Ellie the retriever cross. Ellie is skeered of thunder, so much that she *pants* *pants*  *pants*  *pants*  at my face while I’m lying in bed, for hours at a time. I’m surprised she doesn’t pass out. Last night she was so upset at mother nature that she was also loudly farting. Every 3 minutes or so I was treated to a loud reverberating sound of air escaping from her butt hole. After about 30 minutes of waiting it out, I couldn’t take anymore. I didn’t have any patience for her irrational fear of thunder at 1 am. I grabbed her by her collar and led her out of our bedroom, closing the door behind her. I have no doubt she slept right outside our door waiting for husband or I to open it. I feared for my shin bones when I opened our bedroom door this morning. Ellie makes her body into a battering ram when she needs to get through a door.

Anyway, I got boy midget out of bed and put the dogs in the car for a trip to the beach. Boy midget is a morning person like me, and he slept in his clothes last night. If this is his worst habit (which it is), I consider myself lucky. Although, he is entering the ‘stinky boy’ years, and he is the only one who doesn’t know it. I feel really bad about telling him his teeth need brushing or that he needs to develop a closer relationship with his deodorant because he looks so crestfallen. Just another unpleasant task of parenthood.

The dogs, the boy and I all went to the beach and slowly walked around in the off-leash area. During our walk, boy midget told me something funny that happened with his dad. I remarked that dad is funny (humorous) or something like that, and boy then said he doesn’t really understand why we broke up. I guess that question never really goes away for him (and probably not for girl midget either). I understand why it’s confusing for a child: how could you love someone so much that you get married and have children together, and then do a 180 and split up? To boy, that’s what our breakup feels like – abrupt and bewildering – and he believes his life would be so much better (and less confusing) if we were still together. I tried to explain it in a way he can understand, as a teen who is just beginning to consciously think about romantic relationships. I asked him if he understands dad is a perfectionist. Boy of course can see that with his own eyes. I reasoned that when dad and I were married, I thought he and I could work toward a middle ground with regard to compromises, because I am not a perfectionist at all. I’m an optimistic survivalist! One day, I suddenly realized compromise and change in our marriage was a pipe dream (where did that term originate? I must look it up), and so I knew we needed to split up since we were never going to see eye to eye on everyday life happenings. It’s the everyday crap that makes or breaks your level of happiness in a relationship. When there is a constant conflict, that adds a nice thick layer of stress to an already stressful everyday of a 2-income 2-kid household.

Opposites attract but they do not last.

That’s about as far as I got in my discussion with boy midget, because that’s all he wanted to hear. “Fine fine fine mom.” He made a declaration a few months ago that, for the record, he is attracted to girls. Yes, just like that. I’m confident these discussions will occur again and again for the next 10 years at least. I feel like I sort of fumbled the conversation this morning, so I’m glad I’ll get another chance.

Support the Rabid

I have always been a devoted fan of the NBC series The Office. If you are a fan too, you understand the joke in the headline of this post.

This tv show is based on a British version of the same name, and the first few episodes of the first season of each are very similar. After that the plots diverge a bit although the setting, a typical open concept office featuring office workers pushing paper around, answering phones and occasionally making sales remains the same. The universality of working in an office is relatable for every white collar worker in the world. Across cultures and time, there are constants that remain in place: dull/unflattering overhead lighting; people who look bored and uninspired most of the time, and the sounds of telephones ringing, keyboard strokes, photocopiers, paper shuffling, and general room buzz are all there to remind you of your 200 hours per week you put in there in exchange for  pay and other benefits (pensions, health coverage, paid lunch breaks and a boss who occasionally inspires you but mostly depresses you with his or her inside knowledge of how the company is doing and what direction the company is taking next).

The reality for me is, I paid a lot to go to school (money + time, thank you very much) so that I could sit on my butt in an office setting. Admittedly my job is easy, my friends there are great, and I mostly love my routine. I spend most of my work day reading and writing, which for me is ideal.

But does office decor have to be so drab? Why, in fact, is it always grey, beige and dull, no matter how much natural light there is? Apple was onto something when they had designed the colourful e-Macs, although I think the target market was for those who wanted a home computer. I see those e-Macs for sale on Etsy these days, although the guts of them have been ripped out and replaced by a colourful pillow so that their shells can be used as beds for small pets. And babies? Hmm, that would be freaking cool.  Why does parenthood have to come with garishly c0loured molded plastic everything? I understand kids like those colours, but I doubt babies really care at all if their playpen is turquoise, pink, purple AND black. Who in the world has living room furniture that would match that scheme? I’m getting off topic here but the idea remains the same – we as a society need some industrial designers who can take cube life and parenthood to the next level (or any level!) of cool, and not just for the rich/artsy executive class. Middle and lower class people need cheerful stylish environments too.

You’re welcome, future entrepreneurs!

Looking back on it: I shouldn’t.

I shouldn’t look back, I mean. Looking only forward is sometimes hard to do, just think about Lot’s wife. She couldn’t resist turning back to look behind her one last time.

Husband and I have been midget-free all week, due to my youngest visiting Gramma, and my older being away at scout camp. We have been preoccupied all week though, with other people in our lives. I seriously doubt they know how much their ups and downs affect the ups and downs of husband and I. Actually I hope they don’t know how much their silence, alternated with disrespectful texts, defriending on FB, and then contacting husband only because they need something from him affects us. Because if they do know this? Then I’m even more disappointed, shocked, and saddened than before. I might never sleep again and neither will husband.

I would love for these people to contact husband to see how HE is doing, to ask HIM to have a coffee with them, or to simply give a shit about keeping in touch without also needing something from him. Do I want an apology? Hell No. No no no no no. That’s not what is needed here. What is needed is for them to treat husband as if his feelings are just as important as theirs are. How about if husband is able to tell them he is upset with them, and have them listen? And then they don’t go off in a huff and disappear for weeks at a time? Create a dialog, a back-and-forth, a mature relationship.

This line of thought leads me to wonder if people can really change or not? More specifically, are people able to change their reactions to and relationships with others? I don’t know yet. 

Mentally F____ed

I am usually an excellent sleeper. There are many people I have known over the years who are light sleepers, and I feel sorry for them. If sleeping was an Olympic sport, I would take home Gold every time. But not tonight.

When I am upset about something or toward someone, I talk it out. Arguably I talk too much but the end result is resolution and moving on. I don’t cut people out of my life; though I do reduce their influence on mine by cutting down the amount of time spent with them at least temporarily.

Is cutting all ties a sign of maturity? Self preservation? What about when that applies to family? I’ve never been able to answer this, but I do know that we don’t have as much time on this earth as we think we do. For example I was upset at my father and I held tightly onto my grudge, thinking that before too long he and I would talk it out. I just needed a little more time and then when I was ready I would get in touch with him. And then he up and died on us. He was just 55, dead from a heart attack. These things happen. People die before we are ready for it.

The lesson I learned (of many) from my father’s death is that cutting someone out of my life completely is short sighted at best. The act of heading off in a huff because you feel you aren’t being heard/supported/loved the way you want to be loved is narcissistic and childish no matter your chronological age. I don’t do this anymore and haven’t since just after my father died. There’s a period of adjustment after a parent dies; you might have feelings of paranoia, enlightenment and impulsiveness, determined not to ‘waste’ any more of your life on petty events and small ideas. Or, at least that was my experience. I realized also that I’m not special or unique. Everyone must shovel through a pile of crap to become a fully evolved adult. It’s true. And everyone must acknowledge that the struggle is real for everyone else too, not just ourselves.

While you’re off hugging your self-righteousness and self-indulgence to sleep, I’ll be over here, trying not to feel exasperated.

Youth is wasted on the young and wisdom is wasted on the old.

Hit the Gas!

I’ve been using a phrase a lot lately: Don’t take your foot off the gas pedal. I use this metaphor to describe how I need to parent my midgets.

Girl midget takes sewing lessons and piano lessons. As for boy midget, he continues to be active in Scouts, and he also has piano to practice.

I’m attempting to add more activities and interests to their rosters. I’m working on convincing girl midget to try out for a sports team this Fall. I’d like to ensure both are busy and out of the house most of the time. I’d also like them both to get involved in some youth groups and community organizations.

When a kid is busy he or she doesn’t have much time to get into trouble, and that’s what I mean about keeping my foot on the gas pedal with regard to raising my midgets.

In the interest of keeping the midgets busy, we are continuing Friday Shabbat dinners and Sunday morning church service. All of this cultural knowledge being transferred to the midgets has a cumulative effect, I hope. I mean, if they grow up to be ridiculously bratty, entitled, self-indulgent adults with no regard for helping others and maintaining focus to succeed in whatever they have chosen to pursue, I will be disappointed. I don’t care how anyone else might define success; I describe it as having achieved a useful education (in college or uni), a good-paying job that’s 70% enjoyable (because 100% is unrealistic and impossible and will only make a person sad), and healthy interpersonal relationships. This doesn’t sound like much of a list, does it?

My midgets don’t need much from me physically, anymore. Now we are making the shift to mental parenting. Ha ha! You know what I mean though. I no longer have to help them take care of their physical selves; instead I help them navigate the world of relationships, responsibility, independence, and respect.

Hit the gas!

 

What makes a trip a vacation?

…lack of work, whether your profession is indoors or out. Visiting a city when you are on vacation (and so not working) completely changes its complexion. I pointed this out to husband this morning when he was waxing poetic about how amazing Paris is. I agree Paris is amazing and I love it there and holy crap would I love to live there for the rest of my days, taking occasional trips to the south part of France.

But.

If we lived and worked in Paris, the city would certainly lose some of its luster. We would be fighting crowds getting on and off subway trains and buses, spending most of our days in climate control, cooking meals, doing errands on the weekends, boring house cleaning and laundry, and making sure my midgets become well-rounded productive adults.

But.

We could bring our dogs into restaurants (the solarium part). We would be (as would our offspring) be fluent in French. We would be surrounded by very old very beautiful architecture, art, etc. etc. etc.

But.

We live in a beautiful water-side community. We go to the beach every morning to let the dogs run around, no matter what time of year. There are adorable shops, cafes and restaurants to go to, friendly people and neighbours, and this is all within walking distance of our house. Oh and we own a house here. Oh and my midgets’ dad lives less than 2 km away from me.

This weekend I delivered girl midget and a friend of hers to my parents, where the girls will stay this week. I handed over the girls’ health cards to my mom, and nothing else was needed. No time zones, no passports, no letters of permission, and no out-of-country health insurance.

 

 

 

More Ha and Less Blah

When I was in high school, I had a few English teachers who really shaped my style. One teacher taught me how to be succinct; another taught me to boldly describe my opinions. As a result, I’m pretty good at writing technical manuals.

On this blog though, I try to write whatever I’m thinking about at the time. This morning husband and I had some time to spare and so we got some coffees and went to the waterfront. Once there we both agreed that for that moment, we felt like we were dating and not married. The fresh but comfortable companionship, the interesting banter, and congenial feelings are surprisingly frequent even after we each said ‘I do.’

I ride the subway quite often during the week and as I look at my fellow weary travelers I’m struck by the struggles everyone must face. Everyone has a hectic morning, everyone is rushing at some point in their day, and everyone wishes they were elsewhere at least once during their hours awake.

Tonight I’ve agreed to help girl midget go through all of her closet contents and either donate or move out everything not belonging to her. This action is in preparation for buying new clothes in a bigger size, although I’m hoping we find enough neglected and buried items that we won’t have to buy anything new.

I actively try to get rid of ‘stuff’ and I feel like I’m fighting a mighty tide! I have a garbage bag full of items to donate every other week it seems, and yet that makes no difference. I’m fascinated by the concept of tiny house living, as I have mentioned before, because of the Spartan nature of that life style. I understand there is only so much I can get rid of, as my family is constantly growing, changing, and scrounging for school project supplies and Halloween costume props. It’s amazing the items that come in handy. I nearly understand the mentality of a hoarder.

I’m getting the itch again, the itch to rearrange the living room furniture. I’ve felt it coming on for about a week now…