The Hotel

Standard

do not distrubI live in a hotel. Or should I say, I live in a hotel room. Three other people live in this room with me.  I used to live in a 5/ 5 with vaulted ceilings, a formal dining room and 2 living rooms.

I spend $1.50 to use an aging “community” washer and another $1.50 to shrink everything. Or, I walk my delicates -on hangers- through the lobby and up 5 floors in the elevator. I used to have a part time housekeeper. She did my laundry. She washed and dried the clothes and put my delicates on a line.

I share one bathroom with 3 other people. And if you know me at all, you know I must take a bath. I used to have a  jetted tub that fit two adults, although rarely. I  had my own toilet closet. MY OWN.

My sleeping arrangement is two queens right next to each other, occupied by noise makers. I used to have a queen in it’s own space, in a huge room with blackout curtains and silence.

My refrigerator was made for a dorm room. And it freezes everything. It’s not more cost effective to buy food from the grocery if everything ends up a ‘sicle. I used to have two refrigerators, and would balk at the need for that much space. Ohhhh… that much space!

We have two TV’s. I used to have one. And it was only on for family time and Netflix binges. Why on earth do I need two TV’s when everyone has their own phone AND tablet AND/OR computer? The cords… good lord, the cords. And the “white noise”. And the two TV’s on at the same time while giggles come from tablet/phone/computer Youtube watching and politics and weather and Facebook (which is noiseless, but still evokes noises) and I can’t hide in the bathroom, because: sharing, and I can’t fit in the closet because it’s packed full of my shit because everyone else is using the ONE dresser (I used to have two just for me) and we brought so much stuff. Although, I’ll stop complaining and freaking out for a Bob’s Burgers twofer.

I have a microwave. I used to have a full kitchen complete with an oven. AND a stove. Together. And an island, where I could prep or serve the warm food that came from the together stove-oven. I don’t even know how to make microwave foods. I thought the microwave was for re-warming my coffee 5 different times a day, or warming leftovers. Non ‘sicle leftovers, that is.

When my kids made a mess I used to say, “Hey!, Claudia didn’t work her ass off all day so you could destroy the house in 5 minutes. Now I have to tell the kids to pick all their crap up off the floor so housekeeping can come vacuum 4 days of crumbs from the floor because we  always leave the Do Not Disturb sign in the door. So, I guess not much has changed there… actually.

I used to have a beautiful view of a flower covered hillside and a  dwellings-dotted volcano. Now I have a view of an H.E.B., a Sonic, and 35. One-point-five hours would get me to a practically-deserted, beautiful beach, with warm water and gentle waves. Now that same time frame will get me to Austin, Kerrville(?) , Pleasanton… no beaches

Before I lived in a hotel, I had space for my stuff, for everyone’s stuff. My kids had a designated space for school work that didn’t double as their (shared) bed, or the “living room” or the kitchen island/table/my office. I had that thing that I need to finish this task without having to Mom-Macgyver some nonsense to make it work (*like wrapping a peanut butter sandwich in hotel Kleenex because I didn’t get baggies at the store for school lunches). Having any of those “that thing”‘s right about now would be epic.

Before I lived in a hotel it was never 30-something degrees in the stupid morning.

But, before I lived in a hotel, I didn’t speak the conversational language. I had trouble asking for help or saying I didn’t need any. I couldn’t go on nature hikes, or walk to the grocery store… or SONIC!! Before I lived in a hotel I had shitty margaritas.

Life is just too short for shitty margaritas. 

Before I lived in a hotel, my life was privileged and guarded. I didn’t want for much, but what I wanted  couldn’t be given to me.

Before I lived in a hotel, I thought I knew what I wanted, and where life was going. Now life is going all over the place, and nowhere, all at once.

Hotel living makes you see things differently. Perspective happens. So does irrational behavior. And walking to happy hour instead of making dinner. And questioning your life choices. And seriously reconsidering parenting and marriage.

But mostly, appreciation happens.

Appreciation for the life I have. And the husband who has worked to provide it for us.

For the freedoms I take for granted. Seriously, we walked an entire shopping center, while it was raining.

For my amazing kids who surprise me  everyday, even if I’m glad they’ve started school and I get some personal space now.

I will live in a hotel  room for 10 more days. With three other people. And one bathroom. And two queen beds. And a fridge that may or may not ruin my food.

And after I am done complaining about space and stuff and crumbs and room temperature and food in my workspace and frozen carrots  I will appreciate how lucky I am to share so many hotel rooms with these three people.

Because hotel rooms always equal ADVENTURES.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2015

Standard

Day 57. That’s today. I’m skipping ahead to real time. Why? Because that’s what I’m living in right now. I’ll fill in the blanks as the weeks go by.

It’s no big news that I have been Debbie Downer lately. I’ve totally been a miserable cow, stuck in the downward spiral of my own shit attitude. It’s surprisingly easy to feel sorry for yourself. And I’ve been surprisingly good at it. I have surrounded myself with negativity. From Facebook to CNN to San Salvador traffic jams, everywhere I look I see a bummer time. I don’t like bummer times. Sure, we all have them. Life is full of bummers. But it’s becoming the status quo, these bummers. Bummers are supposed to be temporary. You don’t unpack during a bummer time.You don’t stay there.

I realize I only have myself to blame. Sure, I’d like to blame a lot of other things, but I’m going to take some responsibility for my shit attitude. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer. I don’t want to get comfy when the world  throws me a bummer. I have so much to be happy about. To be proud of. I have a good life.  A privileged life, some might say. And even if it’s 82 degrees and tropical here without a fallen leaf of seasonal color in sight,  it’s still Thanksgiving.

Here is what I’m thankful for:

bath

My Bathtub. Ain’t it sweet? Look, if you follow this blog you know I love a good bath. The vessel isn’t as important as the act, as I have taken a bath in a few places that should have required a hazmat decon shower afterwards, but a nice tub makes it just a little better. If this tub could talk it might say I’ve cried more than normal, I shed like a snow dog in the summer and I might have spent an hour in here today watching Netflix.

 

 

The Rental Car. I have a post coming about this rental car, but I thought it deserved a mention here. This car, while pricey and a bit of a POS, has allowed me sweet freedom. I can go where I want when I want. I have survived the nightmare that is city driving and traffic circles and the lawlessness of it all.

car

 

 

20151124_152121 20151124_152232

 

 

 

 

Family Pictures. We didn’t bring all of our belongings with us to El Salvador. I think we had about 100 boxes total. Mostly clothes, some knick knacks, the whole kitchen, bedding and toiletries. A few decor items for the bedrooms. Just a little bit to make it feel like home. I didn’t pack these pictures, TGILW did. Man, what a great idea. Our walls are huge and white and barren. And sad. When I unpacked these in a box with our household goods, it made me smile. When the maintenance guy hung them up for me, it changed the whole look of the house.  We actually both stood and admired them. The house seemed a little brighter. A little more ours.

 

 

20151124_153537Collection of Recipes- This ugly,soiled binder carries in it some of my favorite recipes. Some from the internet, some given to me from friends. It has torn out articles from magazines, a few recipe cards, and several pages from my original recipe book (a gift when TGILW and I married) that finally bit the dust a few years ago. Sure, I have other cookbooks, but none are as special as these. This carries  holiday traditions. Those little  handwritten notes on the sides of original recipes that tweaked the meal, making it just right for us. It even has a couple of disasters in it, for posterity. Let’s face it, my memory isn’t what it once was, and having this with me helps make my kitchen more MINE.

 

 

20151124_152323Talavera – This may seem like a silly thing to be thankful for. It’s a bit overindulgent for a list of gratitude. But that’s why I’m thankful for it. Talavera pottery is so beautiful, and I have the ability to buy it here cheaper than in the states. I have four pieces now.  Sure, I’m an elitist. I live in a huge house, with  super nice furniture. I have 5 bathrooms. But none of it is mine. The talavera brightens up my life. It makes my white walls look brighter, less institutional. It turns my boring and mundane into a little more fun. It just makes me happy. I am thankful for happy.

 

20151124_153658Skype – When you are far away (or even down the street) from the people you miss, Skype fixes that. Sure, sometimes it’s grainy and pixilated. Calls get dropped, conversations get choppy. But there just isn’t much better in life than seeing someone you miss. A few weeks ago my dad added Skype to the list of things he barely knows about technology. Seeing his face while he was telling a story was the highlight of my week! Chatting with friends and family helps keep the homesick away.  And I love that I can  still see my kid who lives out of the house when she decides not to come home for Christmas, like a jerk.

 

The Girls – I was blessed with three girls. Yes, it’s a nightmare sometimes. Life is rarely boring. But these ladies are my life. They are so strong; stronger than I ever was at any of their ages.They are so smart. They are so funny. They have endured a lifetime of change in their young lives. They have had to suck it up and make adult choices. They have left behind friends and family and started over more than most. Sure, they complain about it, who wouldn’t? But they take on our life adventures with hope and spirit. They are the best of me and TGILW. They are the best thing I have ever done.

color run

 

TGILW- Derek, who rarely get’s a first name shout out in this blog, is my better half. People always say that jokingly upon introductions, but I mean it. We have been together 19 years, and Lord knows they haven’t been easy. I’m a mess.  Not even a hot mess, just a regular mess. I have a tendency to be emotional. I can be mean. I have a temper. I shout. I get frustrated too easily. I haven’t aged well. He loves me in spite of these things. He is the constant in a world of  inconsistency. He is the smartest person I know. He is funny and charming and ridiculously good looking. He gets my nerdiness and encourages my goofiness. Even when I’m furious with him, he’s still the person I want to grow old with. We have an amazing life. Hard at times, absolutely, but so incredible.  He has never quit on me. He has never quit on this family. He will run out in a rainstorm to buy tampons and chocolate. He will stay up late to help solve for X after a 16 hour day. He has missed some of the best moments of his kids lives to help make the world a better place. I don’t deserve him. But I am thankful (almost) everyday that he’s stuck with me. 12187776_10208002425155795_5699665897472873595_n

For all of these ,I am Thankful.

Escuela and the Very Bad Morning.

Standard

Day 12 was the first day of school. Not for me, of course, but for my growing-up-too-fast kids. I knew this day was going to be tough on several levels, but the most important was getting my kid with social anxiety through it. Oy Vey. It wasn’t pretty, that first morning. Awake by 5:30, bus pick up before 7, a school where the social language isn’t a language they’re fluent in, along with the transition to “traditional school” and all that that comes with. Transition Is Hard. It’s been our motto for years, but this year we’re really wearing that motto out. I’m thinking of changing it to Eff This Ish, I don’t even care that it’s not kid friendly.

To dumb down our first day of school morning: R didn’t make the bus. And G had to ride the bus alone, on her first day. And I had to watch a kid suffer through a panic attack. And TGILW had to deal with all of us AND the traffic to drive R to school.

I learned that 2 minutes is the amount of hang time the bus gives us to get onto the bus. I also learned 2 minutes is not enough hang time to talk someone through anxiety. Nor is it enough time to properly deal with a situation. Transition is hard. Anxiety is hard. Change is hard. Life is hard.

I’m not going to delve into the goings on with R and her anxiety, it’s not my story to tell and also it’s not the end of the world. She’s acclimating, albeit a bit slower; but life isn’t going to stop because of it. She’s a trooper, and she has come so far already.I am incredibly proud of her.

But I will let this lead me into why I homeschooled for two years. And yes, anxiety was one of the major reasons.

Funny sidenote: I was hosting a meet up for our region. A woman I didn’t know struck up a conversation about some issues her kids were having and how hard it was for her to find a local therapist (psychologist). I chimed in that I had the number of a therapist that we loved, and I guess that opened up the invitation for a barrage of questions. Did I mention I didn’t know this lady? People, don’t talk about your kids/husbands/dogs/gardners “issues” as if that person isn’t a person; As If that person doesn’t have a right to their own stories or issues, there own success and failure. It drives me bonkers when (especially) parents don’t treat their kids as human people. But, I digress… when the woman pressed the issue of what kind of therapy I needed, I finally caved and told her that I had a child with anxiety. Her immediate response to me was -and I shit you not: “She just needs a good Christian role model to spend some one on one time with her, maybe invite her to play volleyball with a church group, or to teach her a skill”.

O-Kay…

Anxiety – one of the reasons we homeschooled. I have heard the comment from so many people that homeschooled kids are “awkward”, or “socially immature” or “weird”. I find that not be be the case 98% of the time. I think that 2% has more to do with how a child is raised than it does with homeschooling in general. And sometimes, kids are homeschooled BECAUSE they are awkward, socially immature, weird.  Or because they have anxiety.

Educational Gaps- We move around a bit. State requirements are different. Many public school systems teach a test. If you spent most of your school years in Washington State, and take a state test in Virginia, you might fail the history portion of your test, which occurred 3 months into the school year. If your state has to pass the English portion of a state test, you might not learn your multiplication facts in third grade, but be expected to have mastered those facts and to be moving on to division and fractions in 4th grade.

Teaching:Overworked/Overcrowded and Underpaid , and some real stinkers. – Look, I am no teacher. I have immense respect for what those who chose teaching as a profession do. I think teachers should be paid like athletes and athletes as teachers. 32 kids in a classroom?? I do not think I can do a better job. Teacher friends – you mean the world to the children to help. You will leave a lasting impression on so many, and they will take that knowledge and experience into their future. It’s amazing, YOU are amazing. What you do for so many, with so little. But sometimes, there is that one. You all know exactly who I mean. We had a really bad ONE, and it changed my perspective on things. If you no longer LOVE what you do, don’t do it anymore.

The integration of Special Needs children – Now hear me out. I know I will catch shit for this. but I have a story here. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue. When I was a PTA vice, I spent quite a bit of time at the school and days that I found myself without fires to put out, I volunteered in a classroom. Sometimes I made copies, or organized folders. Sometimes I helped the teacher with an unruly kid. One of these times, I was able to encourage a kid who refused to read or participate positively in a book assignment to read the whole book (to include catching up) all within a few weeks. The first few days were tough, but I kept coming back and sitting with him twice  a week.On the days I wasn’t in class, but in school, I would ask him about the book if I saw him in the hall or cafeteria. He read the book, participated in discussion and got a good grade on the testing. He was so proud. And I’m not going to lie, I was proud too! And then I met his mother. She came up to me one day in the hall. I thought she was going to introduce herself and tell me how pleased she was with her kids small improvement. Nope. She tore me a new one. Why was I sitting with her kid during class!?( ummm, because he was super disruptive and a little violent; throwing your book isn’t OK). I was NOT qualified to teach her kid (he knew how to read, I wasn’t teaching him anything. I was basically babysitting a kid who needed more attention than the teacher could provide). I had zero special needs training (true, but I wasn’t 100% positive that all the “special”on this kids IEP was a true representation of what he wasn’t capable of AND he had zero violent outburst the weeks I was helping, even when I wasn’t in the classroom ). Because of my lack of certifications, etc, she refused to have him do the at home project. OK, what? This kid might have needed meds and to see a specialist, but what he also needed was a parent who encouraged him, spent time with him, made HIM  (not his issues) a priority. She requested that I no longer have contact with him. This meant that I could only volunteer in the classroom when he wasn’t there (like when we went to see his specialists). This also meant that I couldn’t spend the whole day with MY kid anymore. For three more years, this kid waved at me in the halls, and chatted me up when he got popcorn, He even asked once why I didn’t help out in the classroom anymore. When my husband would ask me why i spend so much time (and money) in a super stressful volunteer position (THE PTA!!!), I would say ” I do it for the kids that don’t get a hug. The kids that don’t have a parent that shows up”.

What does this have to do with integration of Special Needs kids?  Not all scenarios will make for successful integration. I think that so many children do very well in most cases. Both the child with and the children without gain so much.  But, sometimes the child needs more than what the school can give, and sometimes those situation can be dangerous for the child and those around him. Sometimes the child doesn’t need more from the school and a parent who doesn’t want to deal with it makes it an impossible situation for everyone. Like the kid who bullied my child, but was allowed to do it because of her special needs. When a child is acting out in  a manner that is violent (hitting, yanking hair,) that child is not thriving. We ALL want what is best for our children. Hopefully, we all want what is best for everyone’s children.

School Shootings – I don’t even have to explain myself.

The Chance To Reconnect – it’s true. Our lives were so busy. Either we were getting through life while TGILW was deployed or we were moving or we were gearing up for either. I was feeling disconnected from my kids. I wanted to slow time, get to know them better. I was noticing these real life teachable moments that we didn’t have time for because of homework/catching up/etc. I was noticing the self esteem changes. The stress. Life was becoming really complicated. We needed a timeout.

The two years I spent with my kids at home was HARD. But it was good for all of us.

And on day 14 when everyone got on the bus, and I was closing the front door, I absolutely threw my fist in the air and said “freedom!!” to no one in particular. On day 15, I missed them both.

 

 

 

Welcome

Standard

I wish I had had the foresight to write down my days in real-ish time, because let’s be honest, this old brain doesn’t hold information like it used to. I had a great idea around day 10 to blog the experiences, and now some of these will have to be from memory.

I think I forgot to mention that Day 1 included some real  local culture like going to Starbucks and eating dinner at Bennigan’s.

DAY 2

The Embassy tour – man, talk about overwhelming. We (or I?) thought we would sneak in, look around and get a feel for the compound then head out to do some other stuff. Nope.

First off, it’s the freaking EMBASSY. It’s not the welcome center at my local Fort/Post/Base. Why would I think a “quick tour” was even a thing? There is a bit of rigmarole  to gain entry into an Embassy, especially before you (TGILW)  officially sign in. Duhh. Once in, it was a whirlwind of introductions and instructions. We shook enough hands to make me feel like I was running for office. I was introduced to what seemed like a village of people (I remembered ONE name. Well, two if you count the one I wrote down). What made it so overwhelming, I think, was that everyone was SO NICE. Yeah. like being nice is a bad thing, right? But I mean SUPER DUPER friendly. Everyone offered help, advice, rides, chitchat, do’s, don’ts, go here, go over there. I got so many phone numbers I felt like a frat boy on Spring Break. (is that even still a thing? Do people even give out numbers anymore?) Oh… cheek kissing. It exists here whether you’re ready for it or not. Usually, when someone leans in towards you, it isn’t to tell you a secret.

Speaking of secrets, we were introduced to the local NCIS agents. Upon an exuberant handshake, I announced ” I love your show!”, a hilarious joke everyone ignored. Fine. Be that way. The agent gave the kids challenge coins, pencils and the best part: his card and  he said directly to them, ” if you ever need anything, you call me”.Pretty cool, guy. Even if you didn’t laugh at my joke.

We wandered from hall to hall, meeting this person and that person, and feeling completely out of place. Being the newbies is so strange. I have this tendency to forget how to be normal, and I ooze awkwardness when I’m new. I miss the confidence and ease of being… not new. Old Hat. I want to be a fish IN water.

I’d like to  point out that it’s hot here. And humid. Like, my eyelids are constantly sweaty. I barely wear makeup as it is, and there was no way I was going to stay dolled up in this mess. And if you’ve never experienced high humidity, it’ll make even straight hair frizz. So on top of constantly being a sweaty, frizzy mess, I have the tendency to nervously sweat. So even when I’m in the sweet reprieve of an air conditioned space, I’m still hot somewhere.  And who doesn’t love the sensation of back sweat dripping down your crack to make you feel confident and ready to face the world? Also – no one else seems to have this issue.  I’m pretty sure everyone thinks I’m disgusting.

After the embassy we did some pretty safe adventuring around our hotel. Technically, we explored a mall. The language barrier is a huge issue. Luckily most people I encountered spoke some English, but really that just made me feel worse! “Hi! Welcome to my country! Oh, you don’t know the language? That’s OK, I learned some English for you.” I’m dumb.

This is also the evening that we had dinner with our sponsors. They picked us up, served us local pupusas and a coveted Digiorno pizza, they gave us a welcome basket and wine, and some much needed conversation. They also let us love their sweet dog. We really miss our pooches!

The highlight of the night was when G announced that “mom looooooves to drink”  randomly. She also made a totally inappropriate (and out of context) comment about religion at the dinner table. Man, here just over 34 hours and we’re already letting our crazy flag fly.

Keepin’ it real, I guess. Welcome to the Fosters, El Salvador

 

I just want to take a minute to publicly say THANK YOU to our sponsors who have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome and to help us acclimate. I hope that all my IRT friends are fortunate enough to have great sponsors! 

 

Adventures

Standard

Day 1

Day one actually started 24 hours earlier, when we were still in L.A. The shipping of our vehicle ended up being a total nightmare. We were told to do one thing, then another thing, and TGILW had to run around all over town(s) trying to get paperwork from the DMV, of all places, to make it happen. Who wants to spend their last day in the states at the flippin DMV?? I guess it was a very good thing we had such a late (or early) flight.

Next stop, the Bob Hope USO at LAX. http://www.bobhopeuso.org/ 

If you’ve never had the pleasure of taking advantage of a  Bob Hope USO, I suggest you visit one (if you’re military). Our flight didn’t leave until laaaaaate, but we didn’t want to pay for a hotel room we wouldn’t use , so after checking out of our hotel (thanks Courtyard extended checkout), we scooted over to the USO for snacks (the free root beer was popular) rest and friendliness. The building itself is pretty non-descript and the inside isn’t much to write home about, but you won’t want for anything. Home-made sandwiches, plenty of donuts and treats, coffee,soda … all free! Not to mention you can shower (ALL toiletries included) kick back and watch TV in a dark “movie room”, hang out on comfy couches and charge your device(s) and even take a nap! There is a whole bay of computers with internet access, WIFI for all your devices.  There was a “family room” for those with babies to nurse, complete with a pack and play to lay your little one down in. This place is a godsend. I felt so very lucky to be able to experience what the USO does for our military.

BUT BE WARNED!!! The taxi *might* drop you off across the street at one of the entrances to the terminal. You *might* have to load all your belongings to include 75216545 bags onto the world’s smallest luggage cart – while standing on a median – and push that mother across a busy street. Then along a sidewalk. Then across a small parking lot. And THEN, when you are sweaty and out of breath and frazzled and aching from the weight of your fully loaded backpack and the world,  you will reach the USO. And you will  be welcomed.

After resting. charging up and eating some delicious, yet nutritionally questionable chilidogs, we loaded back up and made our way over to our terminal. I told the ticket/baggage handler the wrong amount of bags (I said 16, we had 8) and completely bogged that line down. Then at security we had to have like eleventy-seven little bins for all our electronics et al. And the kids aren’t world travelers, so every barked order was totally confusing and frightening. But, we eventually made our way over to our gate where we sat. And sat. And sat. And we became painfully aware that our new home would be very similar to us sitting at the gate: not a lot of gringos.

The only redeeming quality of our red eye flight-other than the possibility to fall asleep – was that we were upgraded to first class. Mimosas upon being seated, G was offered a hot towel and had no idea why, and plenty of room. I fell asleep promptly 20 minutes into the featured movie and didn’t rouse until 30 minutes out. Welcome to El Salvador.

We landed. We got our bags. We fast passed through customs (thanks to our military sponsor). We made it to the hotel. We had “local breakfast” (a chicken fast food joint).

And then we napped. Because arriving in a new country is hard, and it’s  even harder at 7:00 a.m.

 

Shutthefuckupcakes

Standard

2:07:41

 

Yes. That’s the title I picked. Real mature, right? I don’t even care, I’m so disgusted today. I really should rename this blog ” The Annoying Shit I Read on Facebook”  because I swear to Christ it irritates me daily. I have no one to blame but myself, seeing as Facebook is in no way required reading. And as an adult you’d think I would know how to steer clear of bullshit that makes me roll my eyes so hard I fear they may just stay stuck like that, just as my grandmother always warned. But no. Lucky for you I have a blog where I can rant instead of putting it on a public social media forum. Heh heh…

So I’m on Facebook dooin’ some bidness when I am inundated with a grip of updates regarding this thread I had been stupid enough to comment on. It was more of a question than a comment, but ipso fatso I was being kept in the loop. Ohhhhhh the loop. Fuck my life with the loops. You see, the neighborhood I live in has it’s own Facebook page. Actually it has two. Well, it has two “neighborhood” pages and several other associated pages. It also has an “official” page run by the property management company. I’ve given myself a headache just explaining this. So, the pages are usually pretty normal shit, like lost dogs, found dogs, free this or that and general questions about the neighborhood. But soooooome of them are total vent fests. Did I mention this is a military housing neighborhood? Yeah. It get’s stupid. Real quick.

So for the past several months I’ve noticed the obligatory complaints about how long repairs take or how slow the maintenance team is or how “cheap” the innards of the housing are. Granted this ain’t no Shangri La, but it’s a far stretch from the 8 mile so many people seem to make it out to be. In all honesty, I think our housing is pretty nice. Do we have some wasted space or some weird floorplans? Sure.  But we have some cool amenities to go along with living a mile from door to beach, less than two miles from downtown and less than 3 from Famous Cannery Row. All walkable. It’s quiet, it’s relatively safe and it has some pretty nice green space. I have definitely lived in worse. So I usually turn a blind rolled eye to the bitching about the  silly things and chalk it up to personality. But that was until this social media war of words started and interrupted  my morning Facebook stalking with a constant barrage of notification chimes. About lawn maintenance of all things.

We have lawn service, weekly I believe. They mow our front lawns, and most common areas like the two (or more?) large fields, play areas, etc. We DO NOT have service for any backyards or other fenced area. And apparently spaces between houses, behind houses and unoccupied houses don’t get touched, or so I discovered on the housing page. Where a great debate is taking place about it. In great detail. And people are “enraged”. That is a direct quote. Yep, it’s true… there are some pretty overgrown areas. I’m not denying that in any way. There are quite a few areas that fall under “common” ,like spaces between houses that are in need of a good trim both because they’re an eyesore and because they can attract and harbor wild animals. But, apparently there is this “who’s job is it” argument happening between the property management company ,the military wives of  the Facebook neighborhood page and some of the more entitled  or emasculated husbands. The back and forth has been going on for weeks. WEEKS. And there is now talk of a petition. For shits sake. It’s overgrown grass, not a septic tank leak. Throw down the torches and pitchforks people.

I pretty much stopped paying attention up until  someone had the lady huevos to proclaim something along the lines of ” for what we pay to live here…”. I loathe that statement. I really, really do. Why? Because living on post is a privilege, first of all. It is no way mandatory. What the hell is wrong with you if you think post housing is beneath you? Also, your BAH and the amount thereof is based on civilian quarters in your area, and even though most government housing is now privatized, it is still a government contract. BAH is also a generous  perk of military life. If you don’t want to “pay” top BAH to live in housing, take your happy ass out in town and get 1/2 as much space for the same amount (here in CA) without the added bonus of a local shoppette, community center, school, gym, pool, dog parks, walking trails, and yes, lawn service. And truth be told, you aren’t PAYING anything!! You have forfeited the money  that the military was going to pay you to live  out in town. Willingly. It’s a wash.

Really, what pisses me off more is this fucking mob mentality and how it turns a small irritation into the plague. The sense of entitlement is ridiculous, but using a public forum to announce your outrage to your neighbors is just so… immature. Yeah, I said it. It’s a fucking temper tantrum and I find it embarrassing. It’s like a new epidemic these spouses turning to social media to badmouth the hand that feeds them like spoiled children, when they feel they have been in any way wronged. And there is always that one wife who makes it her personal mission to  crusade against the wrongs committed against her and her fellow whiners. Pretty please eat the delish shutthefuckupcakes I have prepared for you.

Military wives in particular already have a reputation for being busy-bodies who sit around all day a la Gladys Kravitz waiting for something to be flabbergasted by. The stereotype has become so common that it’s blatantly acted out regularly…in public.  We have become a caricature  of ourselves. Gone is the  dutiful military wife, with her rolled up sleeves, ready to jump in and help her country. She has been replaced by the “dependapotamus”* (holy balls that word was in my auto-correct. I shit you not), who has zero sense of community, graciousness or self control.  And THAT is the representation of the whole, regardless of the actuality.  Where is the sense of pride? Where is the sense of self reliance? Where is the common sense? Don’t badmouth. Period. Well, unless you’re me, and you have this blog to be passive aggressive about the lawn Nazi’s in your ‘hood.

Can I be candid for a moment here? We are all facing the potential of life altering changes via the military downsizing.  And THIS is what my neighborhood picks to go cuckoo about? I mean really… in the grand scheme of things, does an overgrown weed patch seem as important as your family’s livelihood? Because if it comes down to budget, I’d rather they cut cutting the weeds. I like where I live. I like our life. Dare I say, I LOVE the military lifestyle? And if these albatrosses don’t shut their soup coolers and start showing some gratitude in the form of self filtering we are all going to be pay the price.

 

* I hate this word and I avoid it. I actually deleted and retyped it several times before I just went with it. I would rather use “See You Next Tuesday” than this word, and I feel like “See You Next Tuesday” is one of the flithiest words in the English language. I feel ashamed for giving it any momentum, but it is what it is.

The Adultification of Me – Episode 4

Standard

Your mission, if you chose to accept it, is to follow my shenanigans in a series of posts about my foray into the gritty world of dressing like and adult. I don’t know how many posts there will be, and I can’t guarantee you will all make it out unscathed. But I can tell you that the following stories will be the truth, with a touch of dramatic license, a lot of humility and probably some crying. This message will not self destruct, but it will precede all my episode posts. Wish me luck.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Start HERE, then go HERE and then HERE.

So about now you’re probably asking yourself ” what about the personal shopper?” OR you’re like ” why the hell is it taking her so long to tell this bullshit story?!” Either way… let me finish what I started.

I emailed the personal shopper and after a few days of pathetic waiting and no new mail I decided to call. I dialed the 800 number only to realize that the information I had wasn’t actually to the Personal Shopper, but for the program in general. I wasn’t emailing and calling my Macy’s, but rather some random office somewhere that doles out “clients” based on the area in which they live. What. The. Fuck. The nerve. It took a lot of inner energy to send that email. Even more to call. Was I going to have to go in and make the appointment? BALLS!!! I had wasted too much time waiting, and by now, unless I got in like immediately and paid extra for a rush on any tailoring, I was pretty much out of luck for getting this done before The Event. DOUBLE BALLS!!!

TGILW had to look for some shoes over at the mall, so I took this as my chance to go in and at least find something on my own and make a personal shopper appointment for later in the month. Thank God my pms had waned and I was less emotional and bloated. I also had a little knowledge under my belt, as I had already tried on over half the blazers they carried.

The moment I walked into the Woman’s suite department, a familiar face greeted me… the personal shopper I had , like a band nerd asking out the prom queen, waited in vain for. This bitch had practically broken my heart. Could I ever trust her again?

“You’re back!” she says with the exuberance of someone who gets paid to like you.

I immediately stiffen up. I wanted to roam the racks solo, which is why I bailed on TGILW  to sort out his shoes issues by himself. I had already decided I was better off without her.

” I picked out a few blazers I thought would be perfect for you!” she announces, “but I’m finishing up with a client. Are you going to be around for a few minutes?”.

What? Was she expecting me? Did we have a date I was unaware of? She’s dangling a carrot, and I know this. But I take the bait. I need her. I act like I have all the time in the world and browse casually through rounders of Eileen Fisher clothes I would never pay that much for.

A few minutes later a slightly disheveled lady comes by, looks me up and down, then walks past me. And immediately after that, Personal Shopper Lady comes after her and points her back in my direction. Either I don’t look like someone who needs help or I don’t look like someone who can afford to buy a suit.

New Personal Shopper lady leads me over to where “my perfect blazer ” awaits me. Only she can’t find it. So we walk all over the damn suit department. Over to the ladies area, back over to womens,into cheap-o suit separates, back to womens were finally  Original Personal Shopper Lady has found it. New Personal Shopper Lady proceeds to have me try it on, but not without first saying  “now, don’t look at the size, just see how it feels”. In English this means: you’re fatter than you think and all those size 12’s you were trying were never going to work.

See, this issue is, other than being tubby, is that I’m short and have short arms and huge boobs. While Petite sizes fit in length, they don’t really ever fit in the chest, while Regular sizes button over the knockers, they never work as far as length is concerned. #bustygirlsproblems.

After trying on several don’t-look-at-the-size blazers, we decide on a Jones New York that “lucky for me” is on sale. Marked down to $95 from $145, PLUS I get a 10% “you can’t dress yourself” discount. Yay!!

I have now shelled out about $200 bucks for The Event. I have had several meltdowns. I have cried. I have let a women I don’t even know toy with my emotions. I have been a crazy person. But now, my troubles are over. I have a suit. I will look like a put-together adult. I won’t embarrass my husband or my country.

The next day I put the ensemble together. SCREEEEEEEECH. <—- that is the sound my brain makes as it jumps back to reality.

I’m staring into the mirror at a 61 year old substitute teacher who borrowed her grandpa’s jacket. I look ridiculous. My blazer is unflattering to say the least. It has no shape to it, well, thats not true, because a box is a shape by definition and thats what I look like. It’s too long. Did I shrink in the last 24 hours? Did I get the right jacket? How in the hell is this the item I paid for, because I don’t remember looking like Herman Munster in the fitting room? It also clashes with my pants. Yes, black can clash with black. It’s.Happening. Right. Now.  And I swear to Jeebus I look shorter. The entire outfit has condensed me into a boxy can of squatty busted biscuits.

ENOUGH!!! Holy hell, what has happened to me?! This is NOT who I am. I pull off my dress-up clothes and snap back to the real world. The world in which I write a semi-humorous blog where at least a dozen people I’m not related to follow me. The world in which I don’t always feel confident, but I usually feel pretty competent. The world in which I know the majority of the bullshit I have been fed lately is just that.

Fuck this. This ends right meow.

I take the stupid blazer back to the store. I exchange it for something that makes me feel like a lady and fits me fairly well. I do it all on my own, in about thirty minutes and save myself about $50. I try it all on together. It works. It really wasn’t as hard as I thought. And guess what?  The night of The Event I looked and felt pretty great. I had a good time. And was the only person in a full suit.

mock embasy

 

 

Why, as women, do we allow other women or society or social media or our own brains to fuck with our self esteem and our confidence? Why did I allow myself to be manipulated by a department store? I could have easily found what I needed at Target, Kohls and even thrift stores for half the price and time to get them tailored, which is exactly what I have done since The Event to round out my “business casual” wardrobe. While the idea of a personal shopper seemed fun, this person didn’t know my style, my anxieties, or what makes me feel confident. So what if my go-to outfit is jeans and a tee shirt without stains? And who cares if I wear my gym clothes all day around the house while I’m doing housewife shit? I’m living real life over here, and I’m not about to put on my heels and a summer dress to head over to the commissary. I will brush my hair and change out of my pj’s. And when I have a meeting/coffee/social I have enough common sense to look appropriate and enough new knowledge to know the difference between business casual and hooker.

Just like Dorothy, I had the power inside me all along. I just had to believe in myself.

So what adultification really took place? When they tell you to wear comfortable shoes, listen. Everything else you can leave up to common sense.