Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Bad-Asses Versus The Grizzly Bear

Oh, I hate people.  I just know I'm going to turn into one of those old ladies that calls the police when the neighbor drives into his driveway at 3:00 am. 

I walked the dog with my friend at the dog park today.  I was standing by my car, brushing the dog out after my friend left, when I noticed that there were two guys who'd been walking around the cars, especially a Cadillac SUV, and stopped when they saw me looking at them.  They spent some time trying to look relaxed, as if they always got out of their old truck to wander around in the small parking lot.  They sauntered back to their truck and talked to two other guys sitting there.  These people reminded me of a dog who's been caught eating food off a plate on the coffee table, only not at all friendly.  They wouldn't make eye contact.  Then, they watched me as I wrote down their license plate number. 

Isn't there an unwritten rule that you don't hang around other people's cars, looking into them?  You're supposed to get out of your car in a parking lot and go where you're going.  You might linger by your own car, getting stuff out maybe, but unless there's a 1967 Ford Mustang sitting there, you don't even pay attention to other cars.  Oh, and if you are looking at a car you really like, you might make a comment about it's lines or how you'd never be able to afford it if someone walks up while you're standing there gawking. 

These people didn't even have a dog.  See, there are about eight spots to park a car there.  It's an off leash area with nothing else around it.  Unless you just want to cut through the park to walk along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, you need a dog to have a good reason to be there. 

Oh, and they were the tattoo and pierced variety.  See, when a tattooed person brings their dog to the park, I stand around and chat with them while our dogs play.  I don't expect to become friends with them, really, but I don't mind admiring their dog.  Without a dog, my natural suspicion of the tattoo and pierced people raises its ugly head.  Type casting.  Profiling.  But you have to admit that if someone looks like a derelict, they're usually a derelict. 

So, no dog, skulking around looking into cars, and tattoos growing up into their sleeves.  That's why I wrote down their license plate number.  See, I had a plan.  

I put the dog into my car, wrote down the plate number, and headed back to the park where I could see a woman in the park who was still in sight.  I looked back to see tattoo guys taking a picture of my car.  The hair on the back of my neck raised up a little higher. 

I walked back toward my car, fumbling with my phone.  I took about six pictures of these guys and their truck, got into my car, and drove it over to the gate at the entrance of the park.   I couldn't really get my car very far from these guys.  I was not subtle.  I could still see the woman with her dogs, so I called her over and told her what I thought of the guys loitering by the cars.  She wrote down the license plate number and actually wanted me to send her the photos.  I did, noticing that the woman had no problem giving me her phone number.  Another woman wandered by and I gave her the plate number as well.  She told me she was going to put the information on Facebook.  Good idea, I thought! 

So when I got home, I posted their picture with a caption about what I'd seen them doing.  Then a friend commented that these guys looked pretty pissed.  Good point.  They looked like bad-asses.  Maybe I shouldn't post actual pictures of them.  What if they were all-around normal bad-asses who weren't fond of the idea of having their pictures posted on Facebook with an unfounded accusation of smash and grab?  I hadn't actually accused them of any crime, but bad-asses and their friends wouldn't see it that way. 

What if I'm actually friends with someone who's friends with them and they can see this nasty little comment.  What if?  I don't know how open-minded my friends really are, maybe more than I am.  I might have a friend or two who has another set of friends, including the tattoo and pierced variety. 

Meanwhile, Jack and his buddy are playing with Legos in the living room.  I told them the story and said, "I just can't seem to stay out of trouble."

Jack's friend said, "You're probably mad because of what happened when those guys bashed in your window and took your backpack when we were at that park."  That made me feel a little better. 

So, I had to work to delete the photo and my friend's comment flew off into the ether with it.  Bummer.  I'd have to send her an apology, so I did that too.  Then, I called Mike who said that these bad-asses just might have a way to look up my plate number and get my address.  That means that I could have bad-asses come to my house to enact revenge for my photo-taking foibles.  When I got off the phone, I realized that the boys had been listening.

"Mom, they won't bother you.  You're a grizzly bear."  Hmm. 

You hear that, you bad-asses?  Just try to come to my house.  Just try it. 

Thank you for listening, jules


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In the Middle of the Night

Can you believe that my son's bus is going to swing by our house tomorrow morning at 6:20 am?  It's an ungodly hour.  That means that Jack is going to have to get up, if he wants to ride the bus, at 5:30 which pushes my hour of arrival into the day to 5:10. 

Well crap.  Don't you people know that when they become teenagers, they need more sleep and naturally stay up later?  I get it that you have to share the buses with the elementary school, but set them to it early and let the hormonal ones sleep until eight.  It sucks.  The school district always uses that excuse that school gets out early because of sports.  Well, when I went to school, we had sports that started at 4:00 when school got out and we survived.

Oh, I just realized that I'm going to have to be doing this for almost the next seven years.  I'm definitely going to let Jack drive to school when he gets his license.  That'll be almost an hour more of sleep every day.  I'll go for that.  But I have to wait four years until he's sixteen!!!

So tomorrow, I'm going to be up and at 'em.  He has to ride the bus to get that established as a possibility.  Otherwise, the bus will blow by him on the mornings he needs it.  Will I even be able to make a sandwich at 5:30 in the morning? 

We'll find out then.

Thank you for listening, jb

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bad Mom

"I hate you," he said casually.  I was floored.  I thought that I had talked to my boy enough for him to understand how painful those three words could be.  I wanted to tell him that I hated him sometimes too, but I didn't.  I really didn't and I'm glad about that. 

I asked him to leave me alone. 

He wouldn't.  He kept banging on my bedroom door.  What is it with guys that when you say you want them to leave you alone, you can hear them breathing just outside your door until you open it again, even if they don't bang on it like my son was doing. 

It was exhausting.

This morning, I tried getting him to get ready without yelling at him.  I told him when he had twenty minutes before it was time to go.  I told him when he had ten minutes.  His best friend told him a couple of times to get ready.  He just kept playing the games.  Yes, video games.  I could just shred his video games into a million tiny particles.  I really could, except that my husband, Mike, would be mad. 

Do you ever want to have a do-over?  If I could have a do-over, I'd never have let Jack play video games and watch TV.  They have stunted his development.  They have shrunken his brain, his attention span, and his vocabulary. 

And he can never get ready for anything.  I came along and turned off the TV and within three or four minutes, he had put it back on again.  Really?   Who taught you that you had the right to do that? 

I was a bad mom in all of that today.  I told Jack that he might want to join the military, but if he couldn't follow directions and show up five minutes early for every appointment, he'd spend his time there washing toilets with his own toothbrush.  Well, actually, I didn't say that.  I told him he wouldn't like the military where they tell you what to eat, when to eat, when to sleep, and where to jump, and by the way, how high.  I just don't see it being a happy fit.  Home isn't a happy fit for him right now, though, either.

Thank you for listening, jules

Going to the Exterminator

I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to talk about getting a chunk of skin on my forehead taken off.  Great, just was I need for my already ailing beauty regime. 

It sucks to take a close look at all the damage.  Green varicose veins, double-waving arms, thinning hair, ugly scars.  Am I going to look like Frankenstein when he gets done?  Will it all be drawn up too tight?  Will the edges be shifted a bit?  Will they pucker? 

Oh, it doesn't really matter.  When I talked about how much I'd changed since my last visit, my sister told me that I still looked the same to her.  Bullshit.

"I see the essence of you," she said.  It may have been bullshit, but it made me feel better.  I'm going to have to call her tomorrow when I find out how much of my head they're going to take.  I suppose if I don't do it, it'll grow arms and legs and walk away with me.  It's not a virulent form of cancer, but it's still something growing on me that shouldn't be there.

Have you ever thought of the things that grow on a person's body that aren't technically, according to her DNA, a part of her body?  There are bacteria that control our moods.  If you're the type that gets crabby when you haven't eaten, don't blame yourself.  Blame your gut bacteria.  Those suckers are hungry.  If you feed them sugar, they just get hungrier. 

There are creatures that specialize in eating the dead skin you slough off your face and other creatures on the rest of your skin.   They look a little like dust mites.  Have you ever been in the doctor's office and seen a picture of one of those creatures?  They are the stuff of alien invasion movies. 

What was that movie where an alien called a person an 'ugly bag of mostly water?'  Well, if those aliens have good vision, they might call us ugly bags of mostly water covered in tiny frightening insects.

It turns out that beauty is just a measure of regularity in DNA anyway.  So I guess I don't have anything to worry about.  I've already had my offspring.  I wonder if this doctor can exterminate my bugs while he's hacking away at my face.  Might be worth asking.

Thank you for listening, jules

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Schlepping Your Stuff

Damn, I need a shower! I keep telling myself I can make it. I can, but I'm a salty, sticky mess after all this camping in 90 degree weather. It's especially bad in my overly warm sleeping bag.

Why do people go camping anyway? You mess up all your stuff to pick out a subset of your stuff and you load that into your car, then into your backpack or boat. Then you schlep this crap around, never quite being able to do stuff like you do it at home.

Have you ever used that can opener on your Swiss Army knife? It's like opening a can with your teeth.

At night, you wrestle around in your sleeping bag and when you finally get comfortable, you realize you have to pee like crazy. Then you wrestle around trying to find your shoes in the dark and sometimes, if you're a girl, you end up loosing your balance and peeing on your shoes.

Then, you're covered in sweat, pee, bug spray (which is toxic), and sunscreen. You never sleep. After s few days, you schlep all your stuff home. Your washing machine runs for three days and stuff you brought is never the same.

That's camping.

Thank you for listening, Jules

Thursday, August 16, 2012

WashJam 2012

I'm sitting in my bivy sack in my lawn chair almost ready to go to sleep. After hitting ninety-five degrees, it's down in the sixties now and I'm cozy in my sleeping bag. I love camping this way, with the fresh air to breathe and the stars above me. I've been here long enough to have seen the big dipper rotate. It's holding more milk now. Why does the dipper seem to be holding milk? There's too much ambient light to see the milky way. This bright screen on my iPhone doesn't help.

The boys on this trip are good guys. I get to know them a different way on trips like this. I'm listening more than I would have with the Cub Scouts. I need to listen. They're another generation of young men. They have different values. I won't tell you they're bad or lazy or immoral. They aren't. They're just different.

We are in an encampment among over 4000 people. I'm already having a good time even though all we did so far is set up camp and make dinner.

I'm going to snuggle down in now and look at the stars. It'll make me feel small and it'll quiet my soul.

Thank you for listening, jules

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Omega Dog

I hate when I go to a party and people get going on the status points, their children's SAT scores or their latest European vacation.  I live in an area where it's improper to talk about the material advantages you have, but all bets are off when it comes to the ways you've planned your child's preschool education or the enrichment of travel.

Oh, I believe in the enrichment of travel, but I can't stand the 'we go every year' set.  I just want to roll my eyes and hock a loogie on their imported sandals.  I end up reminding Jack that we are not poor after those events.  Shoot, I have to convince myself that we're doing alright. 

Tonight, I got caught up in a conversation about a math program a dad had picked for his son.  It was just the look on his face and his silence when I said that this year was the first year we hadn't worked on those things during the summer.  I really felt it when he said that at least I should bring Jack to the library once a week. And he went on about how his son was in the advanced classes and he thought all the enrichment methods they used had really contributed.  And there was his wife's status job.  Oh, I'm not going to go into details.  No, you could guess what a status job is, couldn't you? 

I felt like a slug.  I'm the redneck mom from a state covered in corn who's son isn't in the advanced classes.  We didn't go to some exotic location this summer.  I haven't even forced my son to read this summer.  I don't think he's even read the back of his cereal box. 

I hate parties like that.  It all looks like fun on the surface, but underneath, there's a battle going on.  Who's the top dog?  They are!  Who's better than the rest?  They are!  Who's the omega dog, destined to be the last to the bone?  I am. 

Thank you for listening, jules

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Proactive Visualization for Better Living

The hard part about having a crabby blog is when I'm not really crabby about anything.  I didn't want to sling any boys out the car window today as I drove.  I didn't want to hire a bulldozer to clean out my house, though it needs it still.  I didn't mind about the excuses of an eleven year old.  I didn't even mind the fart jokes. 

Wow.  I might not be feeling well.  Can you check my temperature?

Yup, I'm sick.  Must be.  Even the drivers on the road seemed to be more responsible and polite today.

Some days are insane around here.  See, we have a problem with a strain of virus that causes arrogance and a sense of entitlement.  I've finally figured out a way to keep from engaging with them.  I have to say it out loud.

"That guy's studying to be an organ donor.  I don't want to be in front of him when he succeeds." 

It helps.  You should try it. 

Think about it.  Some asshole tries to drive up your tailpipe and look around.  He won't back off when you politely tap your brakes.  Even I forget myself sometimes and the tap is a quiet way to express that.  Your particular asshole just uses it as an excuse to climb up closer.  He must be a proctologist.  Apologies to all the good proctologists out there.  You know he wouldn't be able to stop in an emergency.  It's easy to get caught up in all the road rage and

a) slam on your brakes.  I did that once with a semi truck that was trying to push me to drive faster.  It loosened his load and I had to rethink my strategy as he began to jack-knife and threw off a blue cloud of smoke from his brakes.  Thankfully, he got himself straightened out and I didn't become road pizza.

b) speed up when he tries to pass you on the right.  Can you picture him driving into one of those concrete barriers and rolling over on top of you?

or c) swerve a little to the left when you're turning left into your driveway, turn signal on, and he's passing you on a double yellow line.  The jerk now knows where you live. 

No, avoid all of these things and practice your visualization techniques instead.  Picture yourself on your couch, safely home with your family, a nice dinner in your lap and the TV on.  Picture your special asshole in an ER with some tubes running down his throat, artificially inflating his lungs.  He put himself in this position when he tried to pass a bus at a stop two weeks after school started as a trailered dump truck, also blowing the bus stop, barrelled past a group of surprised, but safe, school children.  Your particular asshole no longer drives a Porsche.  He won't spend the weekend in a suite at the Luxor in Vegas.  He won't even order the people who clean his house to take a little more time with the window panes in those skylights in his den.  Now, don't you feel better?

They say that living well is the best revenge.  Well, sometimes it feels as though simply living can be revenge enough. 

Thank you for listening, jules

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Junk on the Floor

So what can I be cranky about today? 

Kids.  What else? How do you motivate kids to do stuff?  When they're almost twelve, you can't.  You can guilt-trip them.  Now that seems to work, but it's a rotten idea because I remember how much I hated that when I was twelve.

I'm an expert at the guilt-trip.  Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of other weapons of mass destruction in my arsenal and I use this one way more than I should.  Hey, it's what I know.  I wish I didn't.

So what else is there?   My husband is just leaving things up to Jack and he's doing it.  What?  Wait.  How did you do that? 

He's not reading.  He's not brushing his teeth on his own, but he'll carry groceries and take the recyclables down to the road on Sunday night.  I tried it, but I added that I was tired too and I'd have to make three trips if he didn't help.  Guilt.  Crap.  Mike could have said just the right thing.

It seems to work to tell him that if he doesn't want to brush his teeth, he can just give me his retainer because he won't need to straighten teeth that are just going to fall out anyway.  That is still manipulation.  I use all my powers of manipulation.  I honestly believe that there are many things that Jack just won't see if I don't point them out to him.  Would he? 

See, the problem is that I just don't trust Jack to make the right decisions yet.  And he doesn't.  It's a vicious circle.  How do we break this circle?  I've left him alone for two weeks and he hasn't read more than two words on a cereal box.  He'd eat junk food until he was sick to his stomach if left to his own devices.  He did eat junk food until he had to leave Boy Scout camp midweek. 

If he were responsible enough to do this stuff on his own, he'd have his own job, apartment, and maybe a wife.  He's just not there.  So where do I stop?  How messy do I let it get? He leaves dirty dishes and food wrappers all over if I say nothing.  I just can't stand that.  I already have trouble with all his other junk lying around.  He'd argue with me that it's not junk.  If it's lying in the middle of my floor, it's junk. 

I tell you:  living with a twelve year old boy really sucks.  It would be great if he could have his own apartment.  I don't think he could keep the job or the wife yet, though.

Thank you for listening, jules

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sunburn, Schmundburn

Nick's best friend Adrain got a sunburn yesterday.  This afternoon, he told me that he couldn't go swimming with us tomorrow because it hurt to lift his arms.  It's just an excuse.  I'm just saying.  He could still use a video game controller today.  He could still lift the spoon to eat ice cream. 

This kid doesn't want to get any exercise.  This is his excuse.  I should just slap his butt into the car with a seatbelt across his lap and drag him to the pool along with my son Jack.  It's a damn indoor pool.  There isn't going to be another sunburn. 

And maybe while I'm at it, I should make him eat a salad instead of ice cream for lunch.  Well, maybe not.  I'm sure that would hurt his shoulders too.

Thank you for listening, jules