An unexpected dividend of starting a blog has been 'meeting' some amazingly funny, eclectic, and strange women via the blogophere. Some of them have been writing posts about what they're thankful for in this mortal coil. So I've got a list of my own thankful stuff.
Let's automatically assume all the assumable things: God, family, health, friends, funds for the trappings of middle-class suburbia. Don't misunderstand me...just because they're grouped as such doesn't make me any less thankful (sorry for the double-negative, grammar Nazis). But let's get to the wacky thanksy list, shall we?
Some of you reading this are probably too young to remember life before Caller ID. Bless your hearts. Let me tell ya, it was God awful. You had to actually talk to people, most of them beyond annoying because they wanted to sell you stuff - or worse - people you knew, but had successfully avoided in person. Now, thanks to caller ID, I've avoided whole hoards of people for, like, decades. Pure awesomeness.
Being a Woman in the United States
I'm not saying being a woman is always easy, but dagnabbit I'm uber thankful I get to share my witchy-woman-ways in this country. And I
want to thank this country for allowing me to take out more money in student loans than I'm worth in insurance money...but hey, at least I was able to earn a top notch education and utilize it to make $.77 for every buck a guy makes.
Ok, all snark aside, I love my country. I'm a patriot with roots dating back to the American Revolution and beyond (from my non-Jewish side, but hey, it still counts). This country may still objectify women, undervalue our paid and non-paid labor and fail to fully represent our interests in corporate and government affairs, but better here than almost anywhere else, where I'd probably be stoned to death by leaving my head uncovered or expected to cook and clean while tending my in-laws goat herd. Have you ever been around goats? They smell nasty and they're the a-holes of the animal kingdom. Just saying...
If I only had to cook once every fiscal quarter, or just for major holidays - and major is defined by either a school closing or a Hallmark card display - then having to cook wouldn't be a big deal. And in fairness, I should report that Hot Hubby does his fair share of cooking. That said, having to come up with a dinner every-friggin'-night sucks weinis.
That is why food delivery is a beautiful thing. I wish my lil' town in Northern Virginia had more to offer than pizza, Thai, and Chinese, but I am grateful nonetheless for my limited food delivery. My ass isn't, but the rest of me is.
Being Born in the Age of Frequent Showers, Antiperspirant, and Braces
As a former history professor, I used to entertain the well-worn fantasy of when and where would I travel back in time for a visit, equipped with my DeLorean time machine, of course (sorry for the bad 80s movies reference. My husband would be proud). Anyway, as I've aged and got-me-some-learning, I've realized a couple of things:
1. Thank God for orthodontics because without them, there wouldn't have been enough donkeys and lactating cows in my dowry to marry me off. Not to brag, but I had quite the overbite in my day.
2. People stink. Can you imagine how putrid it was in the Middle Ages, when deodorant was non-existent and showers were a rarity? Dear GOD I reek like the most unholy of beasts if I miss one day alone.
I'm a typical American in that I prize straight, white teeth and artificial smells which mimic the idea of nature - with scents like Fresh Breeze, Happy Beach Day, and Sunshine Rainbow Morning Dew - instead of the real thing like Horse Manure, Dog Flatulence, or Rotting Fruit on the Ground. Guess I'm funny that way.
Privilege - The Other White Meat
I'm a social worker in training, which is the short version of stating that I believe in the inherent decency within people. And being a white, blonde haired, green-eyed woman allows me a magical power to see the kindness of strangers all the time. Clerks smile at me when I come into their stores. Men hold their doors open for me - a bonus living in Virginia. And I can occasionally - although not as much as when I was younger - talk my way out of a ticket with that nice police officer stopping me while doing his or her job.
I lived in that bubble for a while - until I realized that I was enjoying the byproduct of white privilege. I found this out because once I got out of my lil' white suburban bubble by the sea, I made friends with varying shades of colorful characters and would be surprised, then saddened, to discover that my 'friendly' grocer down by the corner of where I lived in New Orleans didn't give the same greetings and smiles to my black friends as he did to me. I also found out that my some of my grad school peers got stopped by the police weekly, and not because s/he had a lead foot.
Of course, I'll be more thankful for equal treatment for everyone and I'm happy to say I see more of that here in my town than I ever saw in Miami, New Orleans, or even San Francisco combined. Yeah Vienna! But until then, I'm sadly grateful that just as I give people the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, I am able to experience such treatment myself.
I have more to be thankful for - but that's it for today. What are you grateful for? Blogs not ending in prepositions?
P.S: Click on the Thankful link below to be magically transported to some of the funniest and most thought provoking bloggers - EVA!
Ok, I admit it. I'm a planner. Especially when it comes to vacations. I may actually have more fun planning these family treks than I do going on them, but that's another neurotic post for another day. Anyway, amongst American-Jewish families, there's this cultural tradition of sending the children away to summer camp. I realize, of course, how ridiculous this subject is, considering we just started the school year, but hang in there with me for a sec. Now, back in our day, my husband and I were sent away for the entire summer, as early as 9-10 years old (see note about neuroticism earlier in the post for reference point). Hot hubby and I met when we were 11-years-old, at a Jewish sleep-away camp in Mountain City, Georgia. To answer your question, no, we did not date consistently since our latency periods, but the summer of 1981 (ack!) does serve as an important marker in our story. Our daughter, Rocker Chick, has been going to camp for several years now, but only for 3-weeks at a time (we can't bear her gone any longer than that). We almost recruited her younger sister, Drama Queen, this past summer, but she backed out, afraid of being away from home for that long. Plus, she suffers from some significant anxiety issues, enough where medication is needed (more on that megillah another day), so we weren't going to push her on this one.
So, long story short, now she swears she's ready, especially if she can go to the same camp at the same time as her big sister. We adore our girls, rather be with them than without, but true confession time: the idea of getting Hot Hubby all to myself for 3 WEEKS UNINTERRUPTED is almost too much for my sleep-deprived brain to handle. We can run with scissors. We can walk around naked. We can actually have sex without having to time it between knocks on the bedroom door. It's like having hotel sex without the mints on the pillows, or clean sheets, but I digress.
So we will enjoy our school year, the coming season of autumn, followed by the merriment of winter and the holidays. We will rejoice as the first crocus peaks its purple blossoms out of the tundra, greeting us with the promise of green, mossy warmth.
But summer - ah summer. She is our bewitching mistress, full of radiance and sweat and late nights filled with voyeuristic stars. Ok, I've just made summer sound like a character out of Boogie Nights. Sorry. You get the idea.
When I meet new people and they hear I'm a child and family behavior specialist (fancy schmancy title for a counselor), they often comment, "Oh wow, your family must run like clockwork" or "oh geez, don't let me know how badly I'm screwing up my kids," I laugh with both my inside and outside voice because I'm thinking: boo, come to my house. You'll feel much better about your lil' shop of home-based horrors - and reaching for the Purell on your way out of mine.
So, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me share with you some of my family's deliciously dysfunctional weirdness - with this in mind:
Just because I know better doesn't always mean I do better.
5. Chore Charts Suck.People like me who utilize CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) strategies love crap like chore charts: anything demonstrating tangible, measurable results gives us a contact high better than any aerosol can, can. But let's be honest - trying to get your family on board with any new system is like trying to train cats to care. I recently instituted a new chore system for my whirling dervishes of mayhem, known as my family, and its allure lasted all of two days before I started getting eye-rolls from Rocker Chick (my 13-year-old) and protests from Drama Queen (my 9-year-old). That said, the goddamn chart stays and I calmly refer to it daily. You want a ride to music lessons? Sure thing, just make sure you've done your chore today. Want a sleepover with a bevy of tweens, at my house? Yep, you guessed it - talk to the chart.
4. My House is a Mess
Even with the chore chart and some time on my hands, my house is always disheveled. Not quite at the level of A&E's Hoarders, but enough for people to know that I don't use cleaning as an anxiety-reducing strategy. I like to make piles. I have little towers of books and newspapers and magazine articles I'm plowing through. It's my adult version of fort-building, so there.
3. My Kids Can Be Really Annoying
I say this fact without any guilt because I know there are many times my girls find me just as irritating. While I won't come out and say they're bugging me quite that directly, they've both gotten to the age when I'll tell them some social skill truisms we've all had to learn, such as:
a. You can't tell the same joke to the same person more than once. Glad you got the laugh, but move onto a different funny.
b. I want to hear about you and your friends, but please don't re-enact every bit of dialogue. Give mama the Cliff Notes version, I'm quick that way.
c. Try to save your True Confessions or Juicy Stories until after I've had my coffee or before 9pm. In fact, unless you're deathly sick or scared, assume the hours between 9pm-7am weekdays and 10pm-9am weekends are all yours.
2. I Fake It Sometimes
Maybe it's a byproduct of what I do, but I see kids living through shit no grown-up should have to endure. So when Drama Queen or Rocker Chick decide to occasionally lose it over something like not having their laundry done or how life would be more fair with the latest iPhone, I either feign sympathy or just state plainly 'too bad, buttercup'. On a more serious note, there are other issues which arise for them that I'll initially not think are worth the energy they pour into them, but I try to remind myself they're only 13 and 9, and just because they don't have PTSD-worthy worries doesn't mean they're not entitled to a pity party once in a while.
1. While I Engage in Play Therapy with Clients, I Rarely Play with my Own Kids.
This is one I actually feel sincerely badly about...because when my kids were little, I just wasn't the sit-on-the-floor-for-hours playmate mom. I would certainly take them out and snuggle and arrange play-dates with others, but the simply act of playing with a dollhouse was beyond me.
And now, guess what I'm often doing with my elementary-aged clients? Yep...sitting on the floor with them and using elements of play therapy in our work together. And the friggin' irony of it all is that I'm good at it with other people's kids. I get into character, use different voices, and follow their lead like an improv pro. Heavy sigh. Ok, so I know I'm ending this post on a low note, but the truth is, I consider one of my biggest failings as a parent to be my inability to be more playful. All I can say is, I'm working on it.