High School of Guns and Buns

Not surprisingly, the schools we are zoned for have terrible statistics. In short, they are probably the kind of institutions that churn out scrawny-pole-dancing-teen dad.

Mariachi quartets, solo guitar vocalists, A Capella Doo Wop groups, violinists, accordion players wheezing the theme song from The Godfather, these are just a few of the subway performers that bustle into crowded cars hoping to separate you from a dollar. Them – I can tolerate. It’s the candy peddlers, former drug-addicts and victims of abuse, religious pushers and especially, those horrible, pants-below-their-ass-idiot-pole dancers that really need to be shot.

Bothering people for money on a crowded train is one thing, but to ask riders to give up their seat or “move out of the way unless you gonna get kicked in the face,” is just Communist. So the last group of smelly teenagers who attempted this, I refused to move, to which the “leader”  – a scrawny 17-year-old with a wispy mustache that looked more like a mold growth replied, “Hey lady, I’m doing this to support my two-year-old kid.

I had to confirm that – did he just say he had a 2-year old kid? Yeah? With all the free education, information, housing, food and even condoms, this city gives to any moron who asks – we still have babies making babies?

If I were his mother, I’d slap him. If I were his baby mama’s mama, I’d crush his balls.

That experience was all I needed to start reviewing that big, fat High School Directory my son came home with at the end of 7th grade.

In the past four months, I’ve attended two workshops for parents, to fill out the application. Yes, you read that right, two workshops to fill this shit out. The day before school started, my son had to submit reviews for twenty – as in 5 x 4, or two entrees as Applebee’s – I kid you not – 20 high schools.

We got 14 – and even then, three of them are unrealistic for the commute.

The review asks us to judge the school according to safety (how many students in the school survey felt the school was safe), location, attendance and graduation percentage. Not surprisingly, the schools we are zoned for have terrible statistics. In short, they are probably the kind of institutions that churn out scrawny-pole-dancing-teen dad.

At one of the parent workshops, the speaker felt compelled to explain why the high school application process was like chasing a white rabbit. Apparently, New York, with over 400 high schools, 700 programs, processing about 80,000 applicants a year, has less than a 75% graduation rate. That’s why there’s only one Alice.

The high school programs, no doubt, are designed to wrestle the budding talent out of our kids, nurture it, hone it and hope that’ll keep them engaged to the end. The problem is kids like my son haven’t the faintest idea what a job is, much less their “calling.” When we were listing interesting school activities, he chose International Thespian Club, thinking it had something to do with Medieval times or dwarves for some reason. He crossed it off when he found out that thespians were actors, which he decided is not a career option, but being a lawyer is. If you ask me, they’re the same talent, different stage.

In any case, I told him it’s important to find something he likes to do and pursue it, because otherwise, life will suck. Sometimes, people know their purpose in life – like the dude who took his row boat to Texas to help the hurricane victims. He said, “I always knew it was my purpose in life to help people,” and thought, good for him – he found the purpose of having a row boat and included himself, too.

A high sense of purpose is what makes Alaska the happiest state, according to Weather.com. The saddest state is, get this, Hawaii. Yeah, you’d think, right?

I wondered what sense of purpose could possibly be that high, so I looked up which states had the highest rates of volunteers. Utah ranked the highest for volunteers between the ages of 18 and old folks, while Louisiana ranked the lowest. I was surprised to find that they ranked the opposite for unemployment because if you’re unemployed you kind of have time to volunteer but then I thought, duh, maybe they’re unemployed because they just don’t want to work.

That would be my son. He would do the research for an excuse not to do the work instead of doing the research to get work done. He would argue his case for an hour about not doing a job rather than spend 20 minutes just doing it. Technically, he’s working but it’s just like, the opposite. The undo key, if you will.

Which raised the question, why did we decide to have kids? I mean, is it really up to the parents whether our children become either an asset or a menace to society? Perhaps I’m taking this thing too seriously, but it is high school, and really – when can you not take education too seriously. Seriously.

At times, I can only hope that his luck will see him through – that Italian luck he seems to have inherited from his dad. Whether or not he gets into a high school of his choice is how much effort he puts into his auditions and interviews, because our zoned schools have unintentional programs in concealed weapons and how-to-get-away-with-zero-accountability. In the end, I’ll be happy so long as it’s not a school with more metal detectors than an airport and pregnant classmates in homeroom.

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To Medicate, or Not To Medicate: The Disorder of Corrupt Babies

Other articles addressing the rise in ADHD blame societal pressure: placing high demands on children. I tend to agree with that one. Did you know that Mayor DiBlasio of Halloween Town is planning Universal 3-K?

That’s right, full day school for fucking 3-year-olds, oh yeah, that sounds like a great idea.

Is it me, or are Demon children popping up everywhere?

The other day, I heard some sevenish-year-old girl say, “Mom! I told you to pack me the green swimsuit, NOT the pink one. You completely ruined my day!”

I was hoping to hear the mom retort with, “Don’t you talk to me like that, you little brat,” but no, she smiled lovingly and…apologized.

A-POLLO-gized!

I just wanted to slap her. The mother, the daughter – take your pick. But sadly, that wasn’t the first time I witnessed a Class A brat and their asshole-behavior-empowering-mother.  Another kid-asshole I witnessed was on the downtown subway. There was this 10-12 year-old kid yelling at his mother for looking over his shoulder while he was playing some video game on his iPhone. When they got to their stop, the mom told him to put away the phone and get up, to which he replied, “Shut up. Don’t tell me what to do.”

After they left, I joined all other riders, shaking my head and telepathically read their thoughts which said, bitch, smack that kid!

What, is there some special school for budding jerk-offs and princess-zillas that I don’t know about? These kids would take the honor roll in the subject of disrespect – they make Veruca Salt look like just a tough-gummy-bear. It’s disturbing.

Then, at the last visit to the neurologist (she renews my son’s Ritalin prescription – more on that later), I watched two grown women chasing around this one-year-old baby girl. It occurred to me that the baby was there to see the neurologist.

The baby.

Somebody must’ve convinced the mom that the baby has a disorder because it was fairly obvious that the baby literally hit the ground running. If she wore a pedometer, I bet the baby would average one million steps a day. The mother in tow – eight-hundred-thousand steps – easily.

Instead of teaching her to redirect her hyperactivity with a toy, a book or a security blanket they let her waddle from office to office while one, sometimes both of the women shuffled an arms length behind her.

The baby climbed on chairs next to strangers, walked into rooms and tested closed doors with no adult intervention. She even barged in the doctor’s office during the doctor’s consultation with another patient and all the mother did was spin the baby around to exit. She didn’t reprimand the child nor did she apologize to the doctor and the patient – she just smiled as if they walked into some television sitcom, waiting for the canned laughter.

So, this is where it begins, folks. These parents catering to their kids – their babies even, instead of disciplining them. As tempting as it would be to lump them into a group like say, Millennial parents, or victims of over-diagnosis, or digital dependency, the single answer is more likely “all of the above,” which makes them harder to kill.

No, I kid – of course we don’t want to kill them. We don’t.

The Millennial parents and the victims of over-diagnosis could be coincidental but I think it’s obvious they go hand in hand. In my day, only rich people could afford psychiatric counseling, everybody else just got high and neither were covered by health insurance. But Millennials grew into puberty just in time for peddlers of anti-anxiety drugs. It seems only natural that as parents, they’d seek a medication for a disorder of their kid just being a kid.

In The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson goes into the rise in cases of ADHD and Autism as a result of DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Basically, DSM-5 is a book containing checklists for all known mental disorders. I know, sounds tempting, right?

So in The Psychopath Test, the DSM editor reveals that these parents usurp their parenting skills by attaching a label like ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) rather than admitting that their kid is a stubborn pain in the ass. All I know is that if there is a foolproof medication for ODD, I’d try to get some for my husband.

Other articles addressing the rise in ADHD blame societal pressure: placing high demands on children. I tend to agree with that one. Did you know that Mayor DiBlasio of Halloween Town is planning Universal 3-K?

That’s right, full day school for fucking 3-year-olds, oh yeah, that sounds like a great idea.

If I was a day care worker at 3-K, I’d be gnashing my teeth to be politically correct. “Your baby may not be an angel but he’s certainly corrupt! That’s the kind of full day we had, mom.”

I thought it was outrageous that Kindergarten parents were expecting their child to write three pages of content for homework. Now they’ll be expecting baby sister to finger paint Cubism. Well, okay maybe Surrealism but trust me, they will be maneuvering her into “gifted” classes when the kid is still shitting herself.

In another article, parenting policies were compared between the U.S. and France. Apparently, France doesn’t believe in Kid’s Menus. Children eat what adults eat because it’s probably balanced and proportionate. In other words, it’s not a quarter pound of fatty ground beef for dad and chicken nuggets with french fries for junior. Don’t like chicken? How about pizza and Cheez Doodles. And we wonder why they’re cranky. You know, Bloomberg had a lot of stupid ideas, but his attempt to ban large containers of sugary drinks actually made sense to me.

If anything should be banned, it should be those limousine-strollers on mass transit. And while we’re at it, how about a children’s fare, Mr. Mayor? To Hell with your 3-K, looking out for the working-class family, my ass.

I digress. After all this ranting, I promised to explain my son’s ADD label and clear the hypocrisy. Honestly, I don’t believe he has ADD – I think he hates math and he prefers siestas after lunch instead of crunching numbers. Who wouldn’t? However, teachers get evaluated and caffeine may stunt his growth, so that was my answer for “to medicate, or not to medicate…” – wait, what was the question?

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The Grief of Babes

It was a beautiful, sunny day in July of 1999 when Maureen passed away. It had been only five days since her 31st birthday and like an abrupt ending of a movie, that was it. From the window, I saw birds hopping and sorting through life-sustaining valuables to bring back to their nest. They are full of life, I thought, but Maureen is dead.

Truth is felt – not understood.

I wondered what would become of her two children. They were still so small; Michelle was eight, Trevor was five. She doted on them with so much love, laughter and food – it seemed impossible to even offer them that now, without causing pain.

That evening, Michelle and Trevor’s dad sat them down on either side of him. He told them their mom would not be returning from the hospital – she was gone. Michelle buried her head in her father’s chest and Trevor ran off into another room. He returned with some paper and crayons and said, “Michelle! Here, draw your feelings – don’t cry, just draw! Here,” as he thrust the paper towards her.

In the days that followed, he hardly ever cried. He would often stand still in certain places of their house and look around, as if he could sense her haunting. His sister, on the other hand, would burst into sporadic tears over nothing. She became moody, irritable – even mean.

That was my first experience with children dealing with grief. At the time, I was a little surprised at their lack of sadness. I know now it was ignorant of me to expect them to mourn like adults and to think that grief was a one-size-fits-all emotion. I couldn’t discern the plethora of other emotions that children experience in trying to process the idea of death. What I saw then and only understood now were emotions like loneliness of the void their mother left, anger in the vulnerability they suddenly felt – anxiety and helplessness in the breakdown of routine, guilt because they were still egocentric, and the most heart breaking of all – yearning, as they scrutinized shadows for their mother – just to name a few.

It’s not that suddenly, I became this expert but recently, our family lost a really good friend. We had gone on Scouting events, celebrated Oktoberfest, and birthdays, and leftover Thanksgiving pies with Bourbon – it wasn’t supposed to end just yet. It forced me to recall the experience and do the research for the sake of my own children and their friend who is now facing a life without a loving dad. This may be their first rodeo but it certainly isn’t mine.

I’m not giving anybody ten steps to cope with grief, especially not children. You can keep your counseling to yourself and stick your meds up your ass – this was all part of the package from the very beginning. There is no right answer, just like there’s no wrong decision. The only true therapy is time and the hope that we have it.

There’s no right or wrong way of coping with loss. The best anyone can do is go on. Yes, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to not cry. Go ahead and laugh, go ahead and drink, eat an entire chocolate fudge cake if that’s what the moment calls for. Be a rock or be a hot mess – just be. Life goes on, however bleak it may seem.

As for Michelle and Trevor, they’re adults now. I wish I could say they turned out just fine, but I have no idea. They’ve cut ties and lost touch with everyone that had anything to do with their mother. Two years after she passed, their father remarried and that was the last we really saw of them. It seems their life was destined to be one abrupt ending after another.

For me, that’s the real loss and I’ll bet, that it’s just me. For them, it may have been the only way they could cope: to erase instead of cherish, replace instead of remember. Only sentimental fools get the luxury of being sentimental – she was not my mother after all. What do I know about the grief of babes.

If there’s anything to be said about human conditioning, it’s that strength and resilience can be cruel punchlines. We can’t say we want you to laugh but not laugh too loud. We try not to make life a joke but to get it. No adult quite believes that jokes are for kids, silly rabbit – but they can get it, too.

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Today’s Tom Sawyer: The Summer of Teen Jobbers

Nurse Jill told me that California patients get their infusion port in their arm instead of their chest, you know, because they have to look good in a bikini. I don’t know what level of narcissism (or is it unwavering optimism) one needs to be at to worry about looking good in a bikini after half a year of chemo, but for me, the line would be way the Hell over there. I’m not wearing any swimsuit, not even Hijab swimwear, which to me is a total kill-joy anyway, until I get this thing out of me.

That said, I had to look forward to one whole summer with two boys and probably some tag-alongs, and no plans to frolic in water. How does a mom stave off heat violence without an aquatic oasis? Well, the answer is – give ’em somethin’ to do.

Had we a picket fence, they could spend the hot summer days white-washing the damn thing, but alas, we’re city dwellers – we have a rusting iron gate, badly in need of a new paint job. And so they came to be, my son and his friend, today’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn – sans the river and Injun Joe.

Things were working out beautifully. It was a sweltering 90-something degrees, the work was tedious and grueling – any hotter and the situation may have constituted as slavery. Before they thought to call the labor department, I served them ice cold Arnold Palmers after an hour’s work because no slave driver would ever do that. Although the strip job was spotty and probably caused more damage than good, I commended their efforts and told them to get back to work.

That’s when my son’s friend asked, “If this is work, aren’t we supposed to get paid?”

To which my son replied, “We get paid in food – we eat lunch!”

As a matter of fact, I make lunch everyday – so that statement is out of context. You see, at the beginning of this summer, my son and I volunteered at the Cub Scout Queens day camp at St. John’s University. We enjoyed a tasty buffet lunch everyday, which I told him qualified as payment – who knew he took it so seriously?

Now in comparison, the cuisine’s pay level between the camp and this iron-fence-paint-stripping job is like the difference between working for Google and Nubble Bubble Tea and Internet cafe. Luckily for me, his friend had no idea what the spread was at camp, and instant macaroni and cheese just happened to be one of his favorites, so there were no pay-rate disputes. Then again, they didn’t quite finish stripping the fence, much less get to paint it -which only proves, you get what you pay for.

All in all, it was about five hours of work, which is well within the confines of child labor laws. Might I add, the task was more grueling for me because I had to listen to their constant complaining and their shitty music the entire time. If they kept it up, I’d have been forced to bring out my laptop and show them pictures of real child-labor abuse.

Actually, I bring it up every time they moan about going to school. I’d say, “A hundred years ago, you’d be working in some depressing factory, or shining shoes, or risking your life in a coal mine for maybe forty-eight cents a day instead of going to school to spin a mini-fan blade between your fingers for “stress-relief” and dodging the lunch lady shoving free mystery-food. Would you rather work? Huh?!”

If it were a Wednesday morning, they’d give up the complaint – but Fridays – they might be inclined to say, yeah – I’d rather work. I think they’re curious about Happy Hour, which they’ve noticed starts hopping at 3 pm – at least in Sunnyside.

Now, they can only dream that they’d ever be served at Happy Hour – but even sadder, it’s just as much a dream that they’d ever find summer work. If you thought jobs were limited when we were teens, you have to think, what idiot would hire these greenies?

When I was fifteen my summer job was delivering airline tickets, my best friend was working at a candy store and my neighbor’s son delivered papers. According to the labor review, newspaper routes have been on the decline since the 1990’s. You’d think it’s because more people are receiving the news digitally but no – we print the same amount of newspapers today.

So what’s left – babysitting? Millennials working for Millennials, is that even possible? It would take them all night just to work out the pay rate.

My ten-year-old (which is not considered a Millennial) already got a taste for making real money performing with the American Ballet Theater. After he got paid, he wanted to “invest” that money into creating a Youtube channel. He’s convinced tens of thousands, maybe even a million subscribers will watch him open boxes of Pop figures and Rick and Morty paraphernalia he orders on Amazon.

Now you know why we call him Consumer Boy.

I honestly believe consumerism ruins work ethic. Consumers don’t care about what they do, they care about what they get for it. But I do admire their focus. Yes, maybe they’re entrepreneurs; maybe they’re innovators – they’re what my mom calls “hungry.”

But will they work for Mac n’ Cheese?

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Window Shopping Merit Badge

“What kind of store is this?” They asked in unison, because all the sporting goods and camping gear is just so indiscernible.

It wasn’t even that hot of a day and the boys already wanted to go home after a 90 minute hike. They desperately needed air conditioning. They’re such dregs.

Exiting the High Line park into the Meat Packing District, I made the mistake of telling them we had about two avenue blocks before the nearest subway. They asked if we could “duck into someplace cool for the air conditioning.” Apparently, they’re snow cones.

God must’ve sympathized with my situation at hand and planted a Patagonia store right smack in our path.

“Let’s go in here.” I said “fake” cheerily.

“What kind of store is this?” They asked in unison, because all the sporting goods and camping gear is just so indiscernible.

That’s when he saw it – the ultimate sleeping bag.

Can all the Scouts say ooooh and aaaahhhh?

He immediately touched it – because that’s what boys do – see with their hands. He asked me if I’d buy it for him and I replied no friggin’ way. My instincts told me the price was somewhere along the lines of major home appliance or male-orphan-baby – they’re so hot right now!

Guess how much it is. The closest guess wins it as a giveaway!

Of course, I’m joking. I have nothing worth nearly as much, well, you can have our smelly cat, Oscar, and really – do whatever you want with him because he’s such a pussy or you can seriously, take a guess.

This picture is titled, “First Born Son or Sleeping Bag: Which costs more?”

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Spring Cleaning with Sissy Spacek

My son and my husband, the geniuses that they are, decided to dump 20 live crickets in the tank and watch the lizard get all Godzilla-like. Eventually, she pooped in the tank…

This happens every April, I feel like Sissy Spacek in Carrie. All she had to say was, “I’m not leaving until I have a good time,” but then she killed everybody, so she kind of had to leave. Oh yeah, Spoiler Alert – too late – I suck, especially because that’s not even the part that I relate to. It’s the part where she’s mildly on the verge of a nervous breakdown and shuts all the doors and turns the fire hoses on full blast.

Then she was thinking, “What do mean you’re not helping with clean up?” Now that’s my idea of getting people to step up. If I dressed up in a bloody gown, looked all crazy-eyed and hosed down the slackers, I bet my boys would put their dirty laundry in the hamper every – fucking – day.

Speaking of hoses, I’m doing some internal Spring cleaning as well, in the form of a juice detox. I know, sounds awful, right? It starts with The Last Infusion, and if this is a Jesus reference, then my husband is Mary Magdalene, as in he’s doing the detox with me. He’ll probably crucify me before it’s over because he can’t drink alcohol, or eat fun food and we start on his birthday of all days. That’s the kind of woman he married: prove your love by cleaning that liver!

I contemplated posting until after the treatment because anything can happen in the next 72 hours to steal that thunder: stepping in dog diarrhea, being flattened by a falling crane, waiting for an overzealous Jehovah’s Witness to go away or worst of all, epic fail. But I pictured the Sissy Spacek asking me, “What are you waiting for,” and stopped procrastinating.

Lately, the possibility of failure is a dread worse than being the target of a feces-flinging monkey. Of course, people encourage me to think positive, but I reason that somebody has to fail just like somebody has to be a “flying poo” victim. It’s just the law of chance, or Murphy’s monkey, or my incessant volunteering – whatever. Like most bloggers, if shit happens – there’s something to write about. I’m not Tom Petty, but even the losers get lucky sometimes.

Regardless of the outcome, whether it’s the treatment, the detox, or even new Alien movie, I’ve decided I’m going to roast in the sun this summer. I don’t care if I get as dark as Wesley Snipes – I’m going to take Blade’s advice and “Say No to sunblock” because I hate shellacking myself with that funky stuff. I plan on toting the free umbrella some jewelry store gave me, even though it makes me look like Chinese Mary Poppins. Perhaps you deem that statement as racist because I’m not Chinese but excuse you, the umbrella is.

Ever since I read about heat therapy for cancer, I’ve been wanting to roast myself like a turkey. Then my son had a pet-sitting gig with a Bearded Dragon and when I saw her in her tank, baking under the lamps, I just wanted to shrink myself and join that crazy looking lizard on her hot rock. My son and my husband, the geniuses that they are, decided to dump 20 live crickets in the tank and watch the lizard get all Godzilla-like. Eventually, she pooped in the tank because that’s what happens when your buffet bounces around while you eat it.

Who’s gonna clean that up?

Bearded Sissy Spacek.

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A Serene Place to Scarf Christmas Cookies

The new Path train terminal at the World Trade Center has yet to have its own Antennae Man, but really, who cares? It’s trains to New Jersey. Still, I was curious to see if it had the same serenity as Grand Central.

It’s 2017 and this is what I discovered: that my sons have a Nerf gun arsenal that makes Sarah Connor look like Hillary Clinton.

By the way, I’m convinced that Hillary Clinton is a robot. She’s gone rogue with a lust for power, but she lost the election – so the victory fireworks that would have inevitably melted her face, a la Raiders of the Lost Arc style has yet to happen. But it will. Just think about it. I’m not far off here.

But enough about Westworld meets politics. It gives me great pleasure to announce that the theme for 2017 is – space. Not Star Trek space but Place Space. As in, “this is my happy place, get the fuck out.”

On New Year’s day, I took the boys to the new World Trade Center to visit The Oculus. Among the many reasons I could’ve come up with for going on this adventure, the main reason was we needed to get out of the house. The subways were running uncharacteristically on schedule and that was a good sign as any. Plus, we had to work off the three tins of Christmas cookies we ate over the holidays.

In a nutshell, I had discovered long ago that Grand Central Terminal was my Happy Place. It’s where you would find me if I needed to think and recharge – like after my quarterly getting-fired from the family business, or a dateless Friday night, or trying to remember where I left the keys to my apartment – you would find me there, people watching.

All those people arriving from somewhere, going somewhere, meeting other people they haven’t seen in months – it’s a buzz that can be best described as serenity.

Plus, there’s Antennae Man. He’s this old black dude, dressed in 80’s punk rock black leather with a Kilt and a tin foil hat shaped like an….antennae. He’s awesome.

The new Path train terminal at the World Trade Center has yet to have its own Antennae Man, but really, who cares? It’s trains to New Jersey. Still, I was curious to see if it had the same serenity as Grand Central.

It didn’t.

To be honest, it’s just a huge mall. Inside a whale carcass. About the only interesting feature is the “Eataly” food market on the top floor. Food so insanely good looking and just as insanely priced, it’s pure toture walking the boys through it on an empty stomach (for the record, boys are like dogs – they’re perpetually hungry).

There’s also no place to sit except for the window sills by H&M. That’s where we parked our butts and scarfed down the Christmas cookies I brought from home because I’m low-budget like that. We watched a new mom and dad fussing with an extremely fat baby who was having a fit being Baby-Bjorned to his mother. She was probably about 90 lbs and the baby was at least 15 lbs with an additional three pounds of clothing and from the looks of it, they should’ve just stuck his fat ass into the all-terrain stroller they blocked the aisle with. But no, the $1,200 stroller was for the mountains of shopping bags – and mommy would carry Baby Anvil home and break her back.

So the moral of the story is, serenity is lost because people are clueless.

 

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Mummy on the N Train

She was probably around 65 years old but she could’ve been a reanimated mummy. Skin so wrinkled and hardened, her face was like a walnut tucked into a shawl, albeit a colorful shawl, because nothing else would flatter the single tooth in her head more.

On an Astoria-bound N train at 10:35 am on a Monday morning:

She was probably around 65 years old but she could’ve been a reanimated mummy. Skin so wrinkled and hardened, her face was like a walnut tucked into a shawl, albeit a colorful shawl, because nothing else would flatter the single tooth in her head more. Her happiness was obvious – untouchable, even. Who knows if it had something to do with her demeanor or perhaps she was just happy being with her unemployed-looking son. I assume he was unemployed because he was wearing a hoodie with cannabis leaves stamped all over it and he was doting on his toddler with the expertise of a nanny, especially when he snapped an elastic headband on the child’s head.

Because they appeared Indian, I was tempted to ask him if he knew the botanical significance the hoodie was promoting but then decided not to, because Hell, that could be the reason his mother looked so full of bliss. After all, weed isn’t restricted to those dressed in reggae regalia. If Harold and Kumar could show that Asians make hip and geeky potheads, why not mummy granny?

So, she may have been high, but she sat with an expression that was more than stoned – it was beyond cheerful, beyond peace. As if she knew all there is to know about everything and didn’t give two chickpeas whether it was true or not. She could care less that her son dressed like an Indian Joey Buttafuoco, that her grandchild looked like a boy with a blue-flowered headband. Even the single decaying tooth in her head was ready to fall out any day – so what? Pudding. The only other person who may or may not be high and this happy is Gary Busey (I’m gonna have to put that werewolf movie he was in on our Netflix queue – I think it was called Silver Bullet? Or had something to do with a silver bullet – or I may be having a Gary Busey moment here…).

The point is, never in my life, had I ever looked upon such a weathered and ancient soul and saw it as a goal. I sincerely thought – could I have that? Could I grow that old and aesthetically-not-giving-a-shit and obtain that shell of immunity? Of course, I might stick with lotion because I really hate being itchy, but all the other solvents – would be thrown out the window. Forget deodorant and shampoo – fuck Fluoride and teeth whiteners. What kind of person meets a friend for lunch and compares her teeth to the whiteness of a napkin because her “friend” told her to? The same kind of dumbass who asks if her teeth are white enough!

Actually, I could be that dumbass but I’m lucky that my friends don’t offer Rachel Ray solutions at the tip of their fingers. If I said aloud, “My eczema is flaring up,” Rachel Ray disciples would suggest a homemade remedy along the lines of olive oil and squirrel feces, but ask any one of my best friends and they’d suggest I try weed in any obtainable form, because obviously, my problem is that I’ve stopped drinking beer – another side effect of chemo, apparently.

My husband has even offered to make me Funny Brownies, but considering how much the boys love brownies, it seems like a dysfunctional-family-sitcom-episode waiting to happen. On the other hand, it could be an experience of a lifetime. Something I could look back on in another twenty-years. And I’d smile through every thirsty pore in my aging face, riding on a Queens bound N train with my fully grown weirdos.

gary-busey
…and what does this even mean?

 

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Mr. Spock and Dance Belts

While he fathomed that Mr. Spock would enlighten him on lasers and teleportation, I moved on to pondering what the wages were for the Enterprise crew.

Trying to define the difference between smart and intelligent with my boys is like much like discussing the difference between jiggle and bounce. For the latter, I actually had a conversation with my ballet studying son, that he had to wear a dance belt to keep his balls from bouncing around. For those who don’t know what a dance belt is, it’s basically a jock-strap, a thong, a Brazilian bikini bottom but – for dancers. Boy dancers.

With tears in his eyes, he pleaded – no, screamed as loud as he could, “It goes up my butt – I HATE it. You don’t understand!”

I wish I could’ve told him that, of course, I understand. Because, no woman, especially at my age,  ever escaped some kind of moment where an uncomfortable thing went up her butt. But…that would be opening up a ten gallon tin of worms with that boy. Instead, I tried to explain how women have to wear (or should wear) sports bras to keep their boobs from bouncing – but he just couldn’t see how watermelons compared to eggs, so I finally told him: if he didn’t wear a dance belt, he’d forever have a tiny penis.

And that was the end of that.

By the way, boys will drop any argument when you talk facts about penises (I did Google the plural for penis and was sad to discover that it wasn’t penii).

Also, since I ordered his dance belt online, I get hit with dance belt ads, basically pictures of men’s crotches whenever I Google or go on Facebook. I don’t know about you, but I have to look over my shoulder when I’m simultaneously reading posts on family vacations next to a picture of balls stuffed in a canvas cup.

But let’s get back to failing miserably at conversing with my boys.

After they figured out that balls bounce and fat bellies jiggle, we moved on to the difference between smart and intelligent.To the boys’ unsophisticated mind, smart and intelligent is the same thing and so, I put it to them like this: an intelligent person is someone who could have a conversation with Mr. Spock.

I have no idea how they got it because they’ve never watched Star Trek, and by that I mean cheesy Star Trek – the only true Star Trek because everything after that is just – Mudd. Besides, the boys are Star Wars fans and I, for one, think the Trekkies and (whatever Star Wars fanatics are called) should not mix.

If I may add, Star Wars is smart, Star Trek – is intelligent.

After my comment, my Libra-boy asked me right away if Mr. Spock would find him intelligent and I said, “meh.”

Still, he continued to daydream of how that conversation would go. While he fathomed that Mr. Spock would enlighten him on lasers and teleportation, I moved on to pondering what the wages were for the Enterprise crew. Eventually, it lead me to conclude that intelligent people never get…paid.

Think about it – you were never lead to believe that anyone – anyone – on the U.S.S. Enterprise got a paycheck. No one ever talked about craving pancakes or…going home. They were always in space or on some fucked up planet, which coincidentally, always had oxygen, otherwise, worker’s comp – sheesh!

If they did get paid, then definitely, Bones made the most money. I’m sure Jim was broke after paying all his alien child support. As for Spock, I’m sorry, it’s just wrong to pay a Vulcan – they seem opposed to cash, don’t you think? Could you picture Mr. Spock at Best Buy or shopping for ear muffs? It’s just wrong.

By the end of Libra-boy’s pretend conversation with Mr. Spock, I gauged his IQ somewhere around sausage. It’s okay. With the way things are today, intelligence is a curse.

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To The Pandemic Volunteer

Yes, I just compared volunteer work to slavery. If you think about it, there’s only one difference – gratification. No reasonable person would volunteer unless they enjoyed the work.

A friend showed me a pen she received as a gift – it said, “Stop me before I volunteer again.”

“It’s a reminder,” she explained but its ineffectiveness was obvious as we realized, this was the second parent association we’re on together as volunteers.

As I handed back the pen, I sighed and already it sounded like a threat of resignation. But really, who am I kidding? We’re volunteeraholics. She probably signed up with that damned pen.

Every pandemic volunteer knows what I’m talking about. We call ourselves suckers, targets, 3D losers and we compare our tasks like they’re death sentences.

After serving my time on one thing, I say it’ll be the last and even tell my husband that I’ll take his advice and stop signing up for shit. But the truth is, volunteer work never ends. If it does, it ends badly because slaves don’t get fired.

Yes, I just compared volunteer work to slavery. If you think about it, there’s only one difference – gratification. No reasonable person would volunteer unless they enjoyed the work. They sign up year after year because it’s gratifying and good for the soul. Those are the volunteer gigs where you’re surrounded by like-minded, hard-working, good-willed people and they really are a life experience. Every once in while though, you’ll come across a douchebag who is a slave master and that can fuck with your head.

If that happens, you have to tell yourself that the only jackass who should be tolerated is one that signs your paycheck. Otherwise, walk. You need the aggravation like you need hemorrhoids. I have a friend who sorely needs to take this advice – not the friend with the pen – someone else who stayed on even after everybody left.

Now she’ll have to learn the same lesson I learned the hard way – don’t fill a void. If an organization needs you to fill an important role, the last thing you should do is stick around to find out why because I can tell you why. That role is vacant because the last person was a mistreated mule that most likely died under a pile of bullshit.

But for the rest, I toast my fellow volunteeraholics. You may not always be recognized or appreciated for that matter, but you’ve made a difference, a contribution that is far more valuable than money.

So – Thank You. Thank you, very much.

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