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Happy Father’s Day Janice

16 Jun

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When I was growing up, my Dad lived 5 hours away. So my mom had to play both roles fairly often. She did it so effortlessly that I probably rarely thought about the toll it took on her or how difficult it was.

My mom made sure my brother and I always had nice things, clean laundry, and healthy meals. She made sure that we did our homework and that we realized the importance of work ethic. She made sure we played every sport and participated in every single activity for which we signed up. In fact, there were several times my mom ended up going to school and working full time while also coaching those teams. She coached tee ball teams. She coached cheerleading teams. She even coached a soccer team when she knew nothing about soccer, because none of the dads would volunteer to coach it. Which was amusing, because in spite of none of them volunteering their time, they all volunteered to line up to try to tell my Mom how to coach after failing to volunteer to do it themselves. In that instance, my mom taught me how to politely smile when people said stupid things, but also to always wear sunglasses outdoors in the event that you needed to roll your eyes at someone.

My mom led girl scout troops. 3 of them. There were up to fifty girls, and after she fought to get the elementary school cafeteria for our weekly meetings, one of the little girls, possibly her own daughter, pulled the fire alarm because all she (I) could read on the alarm was the word PULL. I followed those directions, because that was something else my mom taught me.

My mom taught me how to drive a car, even if that meant that she banged on the dashboard so hard that I often feared she would suffer burns after activating the airbag with the strength of her fists as they pounded the dashboard as an attempt to tell me to slow down. I did really well on my driver’s test, because driving with the instructor was nothing compared to driving with Janice. The DMV should seriously hire her.

My mom taught me how to ride my bike without training wheels. She even carried me 200 yards after I classically yelled, “LOOK MOM, NO HANDS!” Which, of course, ended in my bicycle hitting a huge rock and me skidding down the pavement face first after somersaulting through the air. My mom picked rocks out of my skin in spite of the sight of blood making her nauseous.

My mom hates meat, but when my brother and I were kids, she would attempt to cook hamburger even though the smell of meat made her sick, because my brother and I loved spaghetti. My mom did a load of laundry before she hit the bed every night no matter how tired she might be, because the idea of her children showing up to school or anywhere in dirty clothes made her soul ache. My mother did so many things as a parent that there were times when I thought she might have a clone. However, I now know that she doesn’t have a clone, because if she did, she would assign her second body to Kentucky so that my laundry would still always be clean.

My mother never minded in middle school when I would invite tons of girls over for slumber parties, and then volunteer her to drive us all to the local movie theatre. She just usually ordered us pizza and hoped that the whatever pranks we planned to pull were not on her. She was even calm the time that my friend Leslie jumped over the backseat to dive into the trunk of my mom’s SUV and Leslie managed to black her own eye on the corner of the back speaker.

My mom didn’t beat me when I was 19, and I told her I was pregnant. Probably because 19 is too late of an age to start spanking your daughter. She was just supportive and concerned. And when I became a single working parent and then decided to go back to school, I knew I could do it, because my mom did it with two kids. Surely I could do it with one. And I did, with lots of venting to Janice.

Also, my mother blew her knee out and had to get a total knee replacement jumping on the trampoline with me when I was 14. I can’t remember if she was helping me with a back-handspring, or if she was trying to be a spring chicken and do a toe touch. She hobbled around on crutches afterward. She kept working, she kept coaching, and she kept parenting. Because she’s Janice.

I’ve called my mom by her first name for the longest time. I think I picked up the habit being around so many other kids she was in charge of by way of coaching or leading in some way. But it stuck. There was once a time when someone told me it bothered them that I called my mom Janice, because it was disrespectful. I probably politely smiled and rolled my eyes to myself, because to know my mom is to respect her. And she has never told me to quit calling her Janice, because she knows that I respect her more than anything, and there many ways to respect your mother. I know plenty of people that call their mother mom and have no respect for her or really even themselves. But I respect Janice, because she is the best combination of parents that a girl could be lucky enough to get. Janice is strong, loving, and wise. She is the funniest person. She is persistent and reliable. She will put me in my place when I need it, and is usually accepting when the roles reverse.

Happy Father’s Day Janice. I’ll get all Bette Midler and tell you that you are the wind beneath my wings, even though it is now me that beats on the dash when you drive.

Spray Tan-gerine

11 Jun

Since I last posted, I passed my PA certification test. I visited my mom. I watched The Lumineers in concert (one of the BEST live performances I’ve ever seen). I watched one of my long time friends get married. But mostly I’ve spent time with Allie, searched endlessly for jobs, and done lots of nothing. I’ve also found ways to procrastinate a list of chores in spite of having nothing to do at all. Mostly, I’ve been trying not to focus on things like doing nothing, and instead, I’ve been trying to enjoy Allie in all of her 8ness.

After spending two years focusing so much of my life on school, it’s so nice to sit around and enjoy Allie’s laughter without worrying about when I would work studying into the day. Not feeling guilty on a daily basis has been incredibly freeing.

On a much lighter note, Allie was perfect companion on our long drive to Florida. She kept me amused on the way down and the way back. But, the highlight was probably when I tried to convince her we should stop for dinner on the way back at a place called Larry’s Giant Subs. Allie boycotted, telling me it sounded like the kind of place “that would have hairs in the food.” And as per usual, she was right.

Allie took in all things beach at my mom’s house. She even got a mermaid braid in her hair. And the best part: A spray tan, which I debated for some time. I feared that if I allowed my 8 year old to get a spray tan, I would probably end up on the news, or worse, some bad TLC reality show that I would watch as if it were my job (which I do not have, ha). However, I gave in realizing that the tiny trampettes from Toddlers & Tiaras already dominated the juvenile spray tan front, and I would likely not end up on the news or jailtracker for letting my pale baby get one.

I should probably also mention that I pulled a Ross from Friends while attempting to get a spray tan. There are four awkward positions you have to stand in to get spray tanned. I was day dreaming for two in which I was not supposed to face the spray nozzles and got sprayed directly in the face a few more times than intended. I did not turn orange. At least my mom said I wasn’t, but mothers do tend to occasionally bend the truth for the self-esteem of their lovely daughters. I sent updated photos to my friends as my orange awkwardly progressed on my wrists and palms.

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This would probably be a good place for a witty conclusion, but I think I’ll just add it to the list of things I’m procrastinating for no reason.

Dirty Dancing & Furniture Polish

12 May

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When I was growing up, every Saturday was usually cleaning day. My mom put on a VHS of Dirty Dancing or flipped it to some Lifetime movie, and we cleaned our already sparkling house. That Janice is a real cleaner, and it is not unusual to find her scrubbing floors she just washed the previous day.

Anyway, my job was usually dusting and polishing the already clean furniture. Sometimes I even got to windex the windows, but mostly not because I had (and still have) a tendency for getting the glass all smudged with finger prints. I could never kill anyone. Obviously because it’s against the rules and I don’t have that sort of anger in me, but also because I’d leave thumb prints all over the place and wind up on Jailtracker quick style. (I’m certain if I ever got a mugshot my hair would look like a rat’s nest and they display your weight on there, which isn’t very kind.)

When my mom didn’t have to spend her Saturday running my brother or I to any of our multiple extracurricular activities, there were plenty of Saturdays filled with multiple viewings of Dirty Dancing or Overboard and the whole house smelling like the caustic mix of lemon scented furniture polish and oven cleaner. So now when I am nervous or sad, I usually start cleaning and watching Dirty Dancing. There’s just something soothing about listening to Patrick Swayze and pre-nose job Jennifer Grey trying to solve the problems of their youth while living the life in the Catskill Mountains.

All of that said, I’ve been very nervous the past few days and will be for the next few. I haven’t had much time to clean, because I’ve been studying like a fiend. However, I’ve watched Dirty Dancing roughly 10 times since last Monday. The only thing it has caused is for me to miss my mom because she lives states away, and also be sad that Patrick Swayze is dead, which renders me seeing Johnny Castle developing any new smooth moves impossible. Plus, I wonder if he would be as disappointed with the nose job Frances “Baby” Houseman is sporting as I am. It’s almost worth shoving Baby right into that corner.

When Did I Become a Ma’am?

8 May

A week and some change ago I was in Nashville for my friend Leslie’s Bachelorette party.  Somewhere in the haze of events one thing was and still remains quite clear, I was called Ma’am by a curly headed, brunette girl that I’m certain I am only older than by a handful of short years.  The kind that do not even have leap year.

I asked her a question along the lines of, “are you waiting in line?” Or some other question that required a one word answer.

And she then said the dreaded words.

“No, Ma’am.”

I caught myself quickly looking around me, thinking someone’s grandmother had stumbled in to powder their nose, straighten their shawl, no doubt ragged from years of use,  or apply cold cream. Perhaps while doing those chores they asked her something which would require such a polite reply to an elder. But as I quickly scanned the room and felt her heinous eyeballs continuing to zero in on me, I realized that I was in fact the Ma’am she was referring to.  Mind you all of this happened within a second or two, but time seems to slow down when you are caught off guard with an unexpected torpedo to the youth that exists inside your mind.

Soon after, I had what I am sure is only the beginning of a lifetime full of moments in which I asked myself:  When did I become a ma’am???  I realize that in the area in which I live and those below the word ma’am is a cornerstone of southern manners.  It’s something people often take pride when their young children grasp the concept of using the term.   And I don’t doubt that somewhere that curly headed demon girl has a proud mama. But still. It was somewhat catastrophic to my soul in the way that a bug zapper is to a fly.

I asked myself several questions regarding why I was called ma’am.  Was it the way the humidity had poofed my hair out enough to resemble a hot air balloon ascending into the evening sky?  Was it that I was wearing a cardigan, a clothing staple that I once deemed old and stale but now regularly wear?  Was it because my hair was too highlighted and I need to go back to being brunette, which my mother claims makes me look youthful?  Could she see the minor line medial to my right eyebrow that I have developed from scowling while studying? Was it my Origami Owl necklace? (It probably was.)  Or:  Was she just a real see you next tuesday?

Manners or not, ma’am just sounds old to me, and I am not ready to accept that I may be a person worthy of such a name.  And that’s that.

Should you ever wonder what triggered my late 20’s crisis, please refer back to this very moment in time. There exists a strong possibility that I drastically change my hair color or pull some other late 20’s stunt that is guided strongly by principles but seems super wild in my mind. Like not returning a library book or drinking out of the milk jug.

(I’m also still trying to solve the mystery of who signed me up for the mass email regarding Thirty-One products.   I’m not sure who you are, but that ranks right up there with calling Ma’am. Embroidered cloth bags are for carrying diapers.)

Figure It Out: School Pick Up Line

11 Apr

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If I take into account that most people are obligated in some form or fashion to follow the calendar, I’m guessing that most people know it is April. That said, Allie’s school began back in early August. She has attended the school for 3 years now, and while every year the child drop off/pick up process changes location with each grade, the process is essentially the same.

You have a pass with your child’s number on it. You hang it from your rearview mirror, or you attach it to your windshield with scotch/duct tape like a total junkie. Then, you follow the assigned line to pick up your child. It’s pretty simple. You pull your car into the line of cars. You wait on your child until it is your turn to pull up and get them. It’s really a painless process that has been well thought out by school officials. At most, the process has only ever taken 10-15 minutes.

Anyway, it is April, and it seems that some people still haven’t mastered the parent pick up line. They have had since August to figure out that all you have to do is to get in line with the pick-up pass placed in a visible spot. But no. At any given moment, a redneck car will randomly pull out in front of you in spite of the fact that you are both hauling around children, or try to cut line. Cutting line is pretty obvious when:

a) YOU ARE IN A CAR!

b) The cars you are trying to squeeze between are roughly one foot apart.

c) The average car is 15-17ft long, which provided you aren’t Ray Charles or Helen Keller, is pretty easy to notice.

A Volkswagen Beetle could not slyly sneak in the line; in fact, a Japanese beetle probably couldn’t sneak into the line. Also: it is a line! And I was under the impression most people picking up children were adults that could follow general principles of decent human behavior like waiting your turn or not charging at a car with a freshly retrieved from school child. But I was wrong, because at least once a week a car pulls out in front of me or nearly side swipes me.

Ugh. Anyway, it may be time to give up hope for those haven’t figured out the process, because if you haven’t figured out how to follow a simple process by now, it is probably never happening.

(Also, while I have publicly admitted my car is a disaster, I still refuse to tape a piece of paper to my windshield.)

(And I know the above picture has nothing to do with the writing, but I think Allie is pretty.)

Get Your Act Together.

10 Apr

Sometimes I think I have my act together. Then I do something like get into my car and get slapped in the face by the reality that is the dump lurking in my car. So in the event that anyone, including myself, was under the impression that I have found the key to doing it all and am using that key to unlock doors with the passion of a matador (ha!); here a few reasons why I am a hot mess:

  • The cup holders in my car are usually always full since I always have a beverage with me. Sometimes this means that when I go through a drive-thru to procure coffee or a new beverage, I have to empty all of the liquid out of a current cup in my car and dispose of it in an Oscar the Grouch car trash can that I bought 12 years ago. It’s been in every car I’ve ever owned. Obviously I have to pour the liquid out with my arm hanging out the window like a total redneck. Also, most of the beverages are 32 oz, which I think means that I could never live in New York City.
  • I moved into the house I live in about a year ago. Just this week I unpacked the last box from moving in, not just one box, but probably 10-12 boxes full of pure junk, which I mostly discarded in the garbage where it belonged. Some of it I put into a pile claiming I would have a yard sale that is probably never happening.
  • I claimed I was going to start a diet yesterday and then I had pasta and fundip for lunch when I was supposed to go running. It was watermelon Fundip, if you were wondering.
  • I finally gave in and watched the video of Miley Cyrus twerking in a unicorn costume. I watched her on Chelsea Lately not too long ago and liked her. Ugh, the shame. I’m not even ready to deal emotionally with the fact that I think Miley Cyrus is funny.
  • Chelsea Handler is probably my favorite celebrity.
  • Now that flipflop weather is officially here, I washed and mated every dirty sock in my house with the help of my sweet boyfriend. He only stopped once to tell me that Esprit sounded like a brand of electronic cigarette, not socks, and that he never pictured himself folding socks during the NCAA basketball championship. I love him, not just because he helps me mate socks and folds them in some weird little army fold that looks way neater than the socks I fold.
  • I’m caught up on all of the pop culture news I’ve missed out on the past few months, but I’m still slightly behind on actual important news of the world that has an impact on my life.
  • I spent all day Monday listening to Billboard Top Hits of 2003 and danced some to Ignition Remix while sweeping my kitchen and thinking about all of Aziz Ansari’s R.Kelly impression.
  • One day Britney Spears started following me on Twitter, and I felt special. Then I laughed at myself.
  • I drank 24 oz of Diet Coke today, which is kind of a total jerk thing to do.
  • I was supposed to listen to a third Cardiovascular lecture today, and midway through I felt like my booty was numb, so I quit and decided to walk around my house. Then, I texted all of my friends in my study-text group, who actually were studying, pictures gangrenous testicles.
  • I was supposed to put Allie’s favorite dinner in the crockpot this morning, and I forgot like a total loser. She asks for very little. #MomFail.

Detriments of COPS Reloaded

4 Apr

I’ve been watching a lot of COPS Reloaded lately.  That’s definitely not anything I ever thought I would say, let alone begin a discussion with. It’s really the kind of thing I should be embarrassed about, but enjoy so much that I am unable to comprehend or even slightly embrace the shame that should be associated with such a pleasure.  There’s just something about observing idiots running on foot from law enforcement, and when caught, claiming that it was for absolutely no reason.  They just tend to take a brisk jog when the blue lights and sirens begin working.  Don’t we all?

Anyway,  last night I found myself asking Austin if he minded if we watched “just one episode” of COPS before bed.  He laughed but kindly obliged. On said episode, I began to empathize with what I convinced myself was an innocent young man running on foot from cops who were chasing him with a car for no good reason.  Obviously he was really bright with lots of potential and didn’t need the additional pressure that is brought on by being chased by a car.

When caught, he was wearing the big, saggy sort of jeans that  when observed you can’t decide if they are the gangster version of capri pants or if the person is just preparing for a flood with super short jeans.  The pockets of his jeans,capris, and/or shorts were cleaned out and among the contents were multiple packs of Kool-Aid.

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“How neat!, ” I said, wanting to believe that he was simply creative about the transportation and purchasing of beverages.   “He just carries around Kool-Aid.  Maybe he’s cheap.  He’s like those little old women who go into restaurants and ask for water and lemons to make lemonade.  Only he asks for water and uses the sugar packets to make his own Kool-Aid.”

Austin, while looking at me like I may be slightly sheltered, “I’m pretty sure he’s just actually storing drugs in the Kool-Aid packets.”

I gasped and continued to pull for  televised, gangster friend. In fact, I stayed faithful right up until the Kool-Aid tested positive as cocaine.  Then I accepted that perhaps my empathy the derelicts on cops was a bit ridiculous.

At the end of the episode, I think what I remained most puzzled about is why that young man didn’t buy new pants that fit if he was bringing in all that cash money slinging Kool-Aid packs full of cocaine. Someone should obviously educate him about the merits of nice denim.

Head Shavin’ Kind of Crazy

2 Apr

I’ve made the executive decision, as my own personal executive mind you, that if I make it through the next few months without going Britney Spears style head shavin’ crazy from stress or something that screams lunatic in some equal manner, I will reward myself with something strange I have always wanted like a pink El Camino or a crushed ice machine. (Finely crushed ice and not that crap refrigerators spit out and try to pass off as crushed. Ugh.)
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I have my second of two 225 question tests of the week to take tomorrow. Just as I was settling into bed and thinking about how badly I needed a good night’s sleep after listening to 8.5 straight hours of lectures with minimum break time, Allie’s day of coughing turned into a night of vomiting. I began cleaning puke and consoling her while also thinking about how asking how a week could get more frustrating only seems to result in that actually happening. So perhaps I should stop. I usually know better than to question the inevitable but sometimes the optimist in me plays hooky.

I’m sure everything will end up being fine. But there is nothing like an extraordinary amount of self-imposed pressure to induce a head spinning sort of dizzy and frustration.

Also, there exists the guilt of focusing and worrying about your test as your child has the pukes and feels like yesterday’s garbage while vomiting up the evening’s dinner. I guess my point, really, is that part of me sort of wishes I was half of a Siamese twin so that I had an extra set of arms and even another brain to use. There just aren’t enough arms to console a sick baby.

It’s times like these that I wish my Mom lived closer than Florida so that I had some back up arms or at least someone to make fun of me for having to scrub up vomit. Because if you are palm deep in puke, you need someone to make you laugh.

It could be worse: I could still be wearing weird outfits like this throwback from cheerleading camp11 years ago.

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Laugh Worthy Wednesday

27 Mar

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Allie never gives me the silent treatment, but if she did, I feel she may leave a note of this nature.

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This makes me laugh every.single.time.

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So helpless!

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My boyfriend got slaughtered in Ruzzle, and I made a freak high score in one of the rounds.

20130326-235853.jpgThe summary of most of my nights.

(Most of these pictures were taken from Pinterest.  Only the Ruzzle one is mine.)

48 Days

17 Mar

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It’s 48 days until graduation.   Counting down to graduation used to be somewhat reassuring.   The past two years of my life have basically felt as if they were either in very high or very low speed, switching speedily from one to the other with no warning, completely consumed with PA school.  Whether I was going to class all day or working for free all day, I would come home at the end of each day, throw in some laundry, consider doing dishes (I hate dishes), pick up a little, read with Allie, make something that resembles dinner, and after she goes to bed, complete homework for the day and study again.  At some point, I went to the grocery store. At least I think I did, because where else would I get all of the coffee I mainlined.   There were days where I picked Allie up from gymnastics, ballet, hip-hop, and  even school if I got out early enough. One semester I even coached a team of cheerleaders for a youth football league, and I would teach them cheers involving spelling B-E-A-R-S while thinking in my head about atrial fibrillation or GI medications. I even maintain a happy relationship with my boyfriend. Most days I was in tune with the hustle and bustle, I was just used to it, because it was my life.   When your life is one event after the other with minimal rest and maximum speed, it’s just something you adjust to and really don’t think twice about.

But to be honest, there are some days I have felt almost as if I was drowning in obligations and activities while hoping that maybe, just maybe, I may grow extra limbs, don a super woman cape, and finish everything I started in one piece.  Mostly, I would finish everything for the day and feel like I had barely slid through a meat grinder, but I would be happy.  A key to surviving a crazy life is being above recognizing the insanity, because as soon as you acknowledge the quick sand, you will start to sink.

It’s not really that I’ve ever expected anyone to give me a trophy for being a single mother in graduate school with a minimal amount of family around to help me (and they would help, if I asked.)  I never think about it that way.  I just think of my life simply that.  My life.  It’s what I do, and it’s what I have chosen. I’ve chosen high education and a better life for myself and child. To be candid,  I’m just happy that I live in a place where I can choose what I do and how I do it.  Really,  the only thing I have ever expected to get is the education that I’ve paid and worked for, and maybe a hug from Allie when she isn’t wearing her sassy pants. But trophy or not, there are some days when I would compare the stress of it all, of life’s responsibilities, to a volcano.  It is as if there are times when maybe I’m just waiting to explode with tears, a real Mount Vesuvius on the brink of destruction.

And there are times when it has happened, when all of the responsibilities get a bit consuming.  The pile of laundry looks scary; my unwashed dishes beckon me;  my kitchen floors look as if a bunch of muddy ducks walked around on them; my daughter wants me to help with her math homework; I need to do about 100 more test questions to feel like I’ve studied; I forgot to return a redbox movie for the fifth day in a row; and lastly, I flattened the same tire within a 3 week span on my way to work.  Those days amount to tears, whining to my patient boyfriend, and maybe a self-indulgent nap, all the while wondering what I have gotten myself into and wallowing in self-pity.   But those times are usually followed by immediately picking myself up and getting on with it all. I’m pretty optimistic, so rolling around crying in my bed has never been a routine.  I much prefer being happy with a dry face and drinking Diet Pepsi.  I even buy myself flowers sometimes.  I’m that kind of sunshine happy most days.

A lot of people tell me they are proud of me.  And I’m thankful.  It’s nice to know that someone is proud of you, or that someone looks up to you.  For me, knowing that you are a role model to someone because they want you to be is a great reward. Or just knowing that someone took time out of their day to recognize that you are still breathing through all of it is nice.  It’s a sign you are doing something right. In all of the mess of this world, someone decided you were doing something right, and it was an inspiration.   However, there are times when people act like I’ve performed a miracle, maybe because I’m a single mother in graduate school making it, maybe it’s just because I’m a woman and making it.  All I know is that I can’t decide if I should say thank you or be offended, because I’ve always known I could do it.  So I just expected other people to know too.

I guess the overall point of this, if you are searching for one, is that I graduate in 48 days. There have been a few meltdowns along the way, but mostly I’ve been happy and busy.  It’s a day I’ve looked forward to since quitting two jobs to go back to school.  It’s a day I’ve looked forward to since starting college, the day when I would no longer need to attend.  But as it approaches, the pressure is getting a little intense.  Because after graduation is the test of a lifetime and another new start with a job.  I feel a Vesuvius type explosion coming on any day now:  Instead, I think I’ll just relax and enjoy the next 48 days, keep calm, and graduate.