Wednesday, January 27, 2010

He's On A Business Trip--This Is Why You Should Hire My Husband

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to tag along with my husband on his business travels. He lets me bask in his aura, even if we are doing what they call in preschool "parallel activity." I'd call it parallel play, but then I would get yelled at for sure.

He does his thing, which is work like a maniac. I do mine, which is to be on vacay and have nothing to do. Boy does having nothing to do feel pretty good--especially when you're a stay at home mom to three kids, a dog, two cats and a workaholic husband.

On the flip side, I wait for him like a puppy waits for her master at the door. I ask him questions like, "When will you be back? What time is your last meeting? What time are you waking up? When can we have dinner?"

His answers to these questions is always, "I'm here on business, I'm not on vacation."

When I get this answer, I go right straight into puppy mode B. I cower in a corner with my book (oh, o-k, sometimes it's the jacuzzi tub).

In my idle time I raid the mini bar (he still talks about the time I had Baileys, JD, and Patron whilst waiting for him to arrive back to the room--makes for an interesting mix and very interesting conversation). I go exploring. I order room service. I nap. I read books, like whole books in a couple of days, which usually takes me half a year in my real life.

Sometimes he takes me out. Like in London, we went to a fancy tea. He sat across from me and did his conference call on his cell phone and I ate scones. Sometimes we go out on business dinners--I try my darnedest to be entertaining and appear well read. I also try to behave myself.

Throughout the trip, I hear, "I'm here on business, not on vacation." I also hear "I have the job that actually pays money." How do you argue with that? However, looking at the full golf swing of my husband's life, he's never not on business.

It's true, over the years I've learned to have little fear of eating the peanuts out of the mini bar for breakfast or dining alone in the hotel restaurant. I can sit next to my husband on 10 plus hour flights and not bother him while he works.

I eat brunch with him as he types away frantically at his computer or catches up on the global news. I have romantic dinners where he is fielding phone calls or sending endless e-mails.

Sometimes I am happy to have the job that doesn't pay. I have the job that comes with hugs and stories and making cookies. I get to wipe tears and hear silly stories and look at the architecture of lego buildings.

People say things like, "Oh, you went to London? Just the two of you? How romantic!" I smile and nod. Just like saying "Fine, thank-you" when someone asks how you are, sometimes, you just don't want to go into it.

Life is what you make it. What we forget, is that nothing exists in a vacuum. There are always factors that effect the weather no matter how hard and bright the sun shines. When you are sitting at that tea service, eating basically alone, but worse, you then know the romance of business travel.

In other words, you just had to be there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grey's Anatomy: What is more important, your job or love?

I kept thinking about this question after last week's show. I barely watch Grey's anymore, but I found this episode thoughtful and compelling. What is more important these days: love or skill?

I've always been a personal level, choose happiness person. If you don't know how you get your happiness, how do you choose? Or, if your choice seems less than acceptable to other people, how do you explain that to yourself AND to others?

I'm a hausfrau. A mom. I was talking to my friend last night and she asked my what I had done that day. The sum total was quite a lot of nothingness. I had not achieved any great task or even contributed to the world or my community in any small way--unless you count spending money and supporting the economy a contribution.

The sum total of my life is really insignificant. As a mom, I'm not out curing cancer or saving any endangered species. I'm not strapping myself to historic buildings and fighting the bulldozers of capitalism. I guess if I had enough energy, passion and drive I might be.

This leads back to my husband and I visiting the British Museum. We scanned eons of culture in a matter of hours.

Think you've got a lot of stuff? Remember when they say you can't take it with you? Well, you simply can't. There were jewels and coins and clothes and art and coffins and fancy stuff that wasn't going anywhere. Even the bodies were captured and on display in glass tombs that seemed almost crass and inhumane.

How about the guy who took someone else's coffin, scratched out the original owner's name and put his own on it? That can't be good afterlife karma. What does this say about anyone? The only thing he took with him to the after world was shame....or curiousity...or what was he thinking??? I've thought about this nameless-to-me man quite a lot.

Flash to post museum drinks with friends in the bar. This was quite a wealthy group friends. After a few drinks, I was going on and on about how money doesn't mean anything. Possessions don't mean anything. We all die and that's it. Basically, I told them all the meaning of life, and it wasn't working like dogs to make the next mil.

I am married to a man who works like the devil is chasing him. He fraternizes with men that also have the devil chasing after them. We live in a place where the devil is chasing the whole community all of the time, intensely and if different ways.

This makes me ask, who are you and who are your devils? Is it aging? Is it fading beauty? Is it regret? Is it something that you can't even put into words?

Yes, I'm a fun party guest, as you can tell. I was a heavy-thinking travel companion on this trip. I don't want to think of myself as a downer, but where are we going and how are we getting there and when? Is it the arrival or the journey? Is it skills and professions that define us? Is it love?

I feel very lucky to have an abundance of love in my life and can't see living a life where this wouldn't exist. If you haven't guessed, I'm in the love category.

Purpose exists for different people in different ways. I guess that's why some of us sign up to sing Wheels on the Bus with 2 year olds, some of us drive the bus and others become surgeons. It takes all types, and wouldn't the world be a boring place without us all?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tripping Out: No Point Really

Traveling brings out the worst in me. Maybe I had a bad experience in a past life on the Mayflower. Whatever the reason, I'm glad that my husband had the chance to experience my traveling dark side before "I do," was his final answer.

He put me through the travel gymnastics with backpacking and camping in places like Europe and China that would send a lot of people screaming. I'm good on the journey, just don't put me on the plane, train or car with my suitcase.

I hate pretty much everything about the whole transit experience--except getting to my destination. If our trip is short, than my travel anxiety meets itself at the door, planning my return trip strategy before I take out my first pair of fresh underwear.

I'm not afraid of flying, though I do experience motion sickness on landing. I'm not afraid of seeing new things or the challenges of language and culture. Darn! If I could tell you what the heck it was that made me certifiable crazy during the travel portion of travel I'd just go ahead and tell myself to stop it.

I'm better if I travel alone. It's not that I'm any better, and I certainly don't enjoy it more, I just have no one to whine to, snap at or witness my ridiculous behaviour. Putting another soul through my personal hell is embarrassing and painful for me to watch. It's like a recurring bad dream: I see myself and hear myself, but I can't stop myself.

If I had to travel regularly, I'd probably just stay home in my pjs. I'm not a homebody by any means and I love to experience all of the things that traveling far from home has to offer. Yet, if Scotty could beam me somewhere, I think we'd all have a better time.

On our super comfy, business class flight to London last week, my husband ordered me whatever alcohol that was being offered. The offering was a sacrifice to crazy god: me in my stricken state. He would put it in front of me and back away with hands open and up using body language to say that I should have no fear and he was a friend.

Travel can be flawless and smooth, but it never lessens the tension. I pretty much drove that man crazy and he even told me that I wasn't allowed on business trips any more. If you think being on a plane drives me crazy, you should see me in a car.

I don't like the smell of airports. Plane bathrooms freak me out. I hate security, check in and watching for my bags anxiously as they hopefully come around the baggage claim belt. I hate the little carts you put your bag on. I don't like plane snacks or food.

I'd rather clean porta potties than be a flight attendant. But, then that's a personal choice, right? We all can't be Picasso. Or Magellan.

Yikes, reading this I scare myself. If you are reading, dear husband, I'm sorry. You are probably out looking for my replacement right now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Organizational Disaster

Last night during pillow talk, the truth came out. I was blabbing on about the house being messy and my lack of domestic skills (I have often referred to myself as the anti-housewife) my husband gallantly denied that it was that bad.

I started to joke about my shortcomings as a housewife:

He said: Actually, you tricked me into marrying you.

She said: What??? (and I made a scrunchy face)

He said: I never lived with you before we were married. You always lived so far away that you had time to tidy up before I got there.

She said: I guess that's the advantage of a four year long, long distance relationship. So, you'd change your mind?

He said: Darn right! (I did kick him in the shin at this point).

It was all in good fun, but I guess I did pull a number on him. I have never been an organizer. My lifelong best friend has always had neat and tidy stacks with labeled files in color-coded file folders and I've always been a scrambler. I always find what I'm looking for, I always get there on time, I always get the job done--except it's a bit of a safari on the way.

If the kids are required to have a white t-shirt for some school function, I am bombing it up to Target (the whole 20 minutes it takes to get there! Tell me again why we don't have a closer Target? Oh, that's another blog.) to buy a white T-shirt.

Realize gentle reader, it is not because my child doesn't have a white t-shirt or two or three, it is because I can't find it in my laundry maze, er, system. But, believe you me, my child will be on stage with a crisper, whiter shirt than I could ever finesse in the laundry room--plus no wrinkles.

Yes, it takes less time to drive the 40 minute round trip to Target than it takes to find something in my own house. It could be my ADHD. It could be that I grew up with a special organizing system called my Mom. Whatever the cause, I guess I should have alerted my husband to what he was getting into--although I was so young then, that I didn't even know that I was an organizational disaster.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Light is Flashing 12:00

I'm now officially well over 40 and starting to feel my age. As I mentioned, after 8 years of mini van, I'm starting off new with a little car.

Technology has zipped by me like VHS to DVD to Blueray. I am stuck in the post 8 track, post cassette era and, as far as I can tell, we no longer need CDs either, but I'm scared to admit it.

My new car needs to come with a college level course for old, technologically unhip folks. Navigation? I was so excited to have you in my life, until I've listened to you tell me how to get to my house, and only my house, for weeks. Turn you off? Love to. But, where is the power button?

I have so many radio stations at the flick of my thumb that I'm always changing the channel by mistake. There is a phone, but how to dial it is beyond me.

My husband was like a parent on Christmas morning giving me a puppy. His eyes were shining and he was so excited that he got all of the new-fangled gadgets on my new car for me. Trouble is, even with the manual in hand and sitting in my running car in the driveway for hours, I have yet to understand just how to do the basic things.

Case and point, I had the pleasure of gassing up this clean diesel car for the first time yesterday. I actually got the gas pump nozzle stuck in the car. I had to be rescued at the self serve station. Not only did I need rescuing, the guy rescuing me had to be rescued. Apparently, I have something to figure out with the gas tank.

It's like the eternal flashing 12:00 display on my old VCR. Can I learn to live with and ignore my technology indiscretions.

Seriously, folks, I will need to properly fill my car with gas. Where does one learn this?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

5 Ways I Will Lose The Holiday Weight*

*written on my trusty iPhone while I wait for my 2nd annual mammogram

1. I will stop eating Christmas cookies & chocolates as a regular part of my daily diet.
2. Ditto that on eggnog, cocktails and finishing bottles of wine just because they are already opened.
3. I will avoid Midwestern family buffets where all vegetables have been previosly canned, frozen or cooked and laced with MSG, crushed saltine crackers, Campbells mushroom soup, and sprinklings of deep fried onion crisps. This applies only just until next holiday season, though.
4. I will actual get more aerobic exercise than lifting, wrapping and unwrapping gifts. Moreover, I will not consider packing, unpacking, and hefting duffel bags as weight training.
5. I will attend less parties with yummy appetizers and free range chips and dip.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Good Bye Mini Van, Hello Little Car

Well, it happened as if by magic. Our new car finally arrived.

We talked for months about trading in the van. Every time the conversation began, Birk cried with fits of tears. She loved the van, couldn't we save it for when she learned how to drive?

I didn't have the heart to tell her that there was no way that she would want to be driving this van around in 8 years. That is one of the things that parents just know and kids have to learn.

Her main reason to keep the van? You could eat In and Out in the van and fold down the seats for a private restaurant. For some reason, after all of the cool experiences I've provided for my children, they remember eating in the mini van as a highlight.

We are now squishing into the little car. It is zippy and cute, but it can't hold a candle to a Costco run with the mini van.

Ahhhhh, a chapter has ended. I, as a mom, provide hope to younger moms that they, too, "will someday get rid of the van." At least, this is what they tell me.

Now, every morning, I inhale the yummy new car scent and every morning, my kids complain that their car smells like a rental car.

Who doesn't love the smell of off-gassing? The younger generation, go figure!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writing Your Kid's Entrance Essay or Who's Essay Is This Anyway?

I've always approached education in a different way than other teachers and parents. As a junior high school teacher, I let the kids actually run the school newspaper. It wasn't pretty and polished, but it was a product of the student's own work. At the end of a semester in my journalism class, kids knew the entire process first hand.

I also let 8th graders with drama experience select plays, hold tryouts, and run wild with the production of the plays that we produced. Once again, life wasn't perfect and tidy, it was messy and trying. The plays in the end were excellent, but there were a lot of fields to plow until we harvested, if you know what I mean.

Now, my own son is writing his high school entrance essays. He is 13.

Flashback to 1st grade when the kids were assigned research reports. My son did all of the research, writing and artwork on his own. He was so proud of his project and we walked into school together that day, carrying his diorama. Two other kids walked in with their parents. Their projects looked like professional architecture presentations for a corporate firm.

I overheard a parent say that he would come in at lunchtime with the computer to set up the power point presentation!


High School admissions directors, I will tell you now: Have the students write their essays when they visit your school. Otherwise, you are getting a familial composite essay at best. Rumor has it that some parents are paying tutors to write their children's entrance essays.

Last night, a mom said that she was going home to write her son's essay. Her excuse was that he just didn't care enough to do it. Does he care enough to do the four hours plus of homework a night if he actually gets into one of these schools?

Parents, are you good enough to write an essay that will get you, um, I mean your kid, into a prestigious private high school?

I don't know what to say... I hope those parents are ready to keep doing all of the homework in that cut throat four years of high school for their kid, too.

Where I come from, you fight fair, you do your own work, and your kids sink or swim on their own merit. Is anyone out there still where I come from? Do I have to play dirty to even give my kid a fighting chance?

If you compromise your morals, in my opinion, what is the point? What are we teaching our kids?

The world is not fair, and yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.