Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Fixing Things

"Can we fix it? Yes we can!" - Bob the Builder

This weekend was focused on home improvement, specifically our powder room which finally got a much-needed facelift. Goodbye, 1986. Hello, 2012.

All the destruction, scraping, patching, repairing, painting, and clearing out the old for the new, made me ponder upon how this summer has been all about "fixing" -- fences and decks, relationships and bad habits.

If you think about it, home improvement is similar to life improvement. Although, in my opinion, one is significantly easier than the other. In order to renovate, you have to demolish. Whether it's knocking down walls or allowing yourself to mourn a loss, you need to strip everything else away, start at the base or the bottom, and rebuild.

When you demolish, you find yourself standing in the middle of a mess. Typically, a mess YOU created. At first, you feel incredibly vulnerable. Twitchy. Even a little shocked, especially when you realize there's no turning back. You have two choices, dwell in the mess, or use the mess to your advantage and let it propel you.

And, this is where Bob the Builder comes into the picture. "Can we fix it?"

 Bob says we can.

I disagree.

In fact, If you asked me six months ago, I would've said, "Hell, yes, we can fix it! Let's do whatever it takes and get it done!"

For me, being motivated is never the problem. My issue is that I can get so focused on "fixing" and getting it done quickly, that I'm no longer present for the journey that actually makes it all happen.

Does that even make sense?

In any case, I get it. The goal isn't to simply fix, it's about the process of rebuilding. And, before you can rebuild, you need to dwell in the chaos for a bit...uncomfortable (and, yes, twitchy) and with eyes wide open. When you trust that the dust will settle (it always does), you find yourself armed with new, improved tools for reconstruction.

So, back to the bathroom renovation (because that's what we are talking about, right?!). It's almost done and it was truly a team effort (me, the husband, and my parents). It just needs is a few finishing touches. A trip to IKEA this weekend should take care of that. IKEA makes everything better.

If only that were true.

The question isn't, "Can we fix it?"

I think the better question to ask is, "Was it worth it?"

Yes. Yes it was. Yes it is.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Too Dry for Boob Sweat

It's hot!

Like Africa hot.

Let me preface that statement by saying that it is (for what it's worth) a dry heat. To my East Coast friends and family who are currently sweltering in 90 degree temps WITH 90 percent humidity, I apologize. If it makes you feel any better, I'll trade my heat rash for your boob sweat.

Today is supposed to reach 98, and tomorrow offers the promise of being 100...again. Beyond that, we are looking at a stretch of days festering in the upper-90s. When there is a breeze, it feels like the inside of a convection oven. Or hell. I can't remember the last time it rained. Last week? The week before? In any case, it only lasted a few minutes.

We need some moisture around here. It's beyond dry. My lawn is getting browner and crunchier by the day, and despite all my watering efforts, my flowers are dying. Our fireworks might be cancelled. And campfires are banned (for obvious reasons). I shouldn't complain when the mountains are on fire just 35 miles to the north--homes (and a life) have been lost. Our foothills (just to the west) are a mere cigarette toss or lightning strike from an inferno. The acrid smoke smell is a constant reminder of this summer's drought.

I would kill for rain. And, I can't believe I am saying this, even for a wee bit of humidity in the air. Seven percent simply isn't cutting it. My hair has lost its curl.

In the mean time, my dying lawn is sacrificing itself to host our new water slide monstrosity. It uses a ton of water, not to mention it makes me paranoid about the kids being electrocuted. But they love it, and since we are landlocked, it's the best we can do for some wet and wild fun.

This summer is unlike any of those I experienced as a child. It makes me a little sad for my kids. I had the ocean to splash around in, as well as a pool. I also never had to endure a desert-dry, hot, hot, summer like this one.

Umbrella drinks by the water slide, anyone? Nope. It just doesn't have the same appeal.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kvetching in the Kitchen

Impromptu therapy sessions are the best.

One minute you're heating up your Lean Cuisine in the microwave, the next you're blurting all sorts of shit you had no intention on sharing. And this all takes place in the kitchen. At work.

Some people were blessed with the gene of under-sharing. Not me. You may find this hard to believe (and it sort of negates my previous sentence), but I am shy. Really. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself meek or even bashful, but I would say that I'm more of an observer.

That is, until I:
1. Drink
2. Feel totally comfortable with you
3. Feel uncharacteristically confident
4. Am on a rant

Then, you'll have a hard time shutting me up. And, Oh, will I share. The first time you experience it, you'll be surprised. You'll probably be annoyed. You may wonder if I suffer from dissociative identity disorder (I don't. Honest.). But in the end, I like to think that you'll find it simultaneously enlightening and entertaining (that's the writer in me).

I digress.

 Back to today's impromptu therapy session. While heating up my low-cal lunch I mentioned to a few empathetic co-workers how tired I was feeling. My tirade grew from there.

Tired from trying to make everyone else happy--my husband (so he feels loved, needed, and won't seek attention elsewhere), my kids (so they feel loved, secure, and won't whine), my friends (so they feel loved, won't judge, and will listen to my whining), etc., etc. There's a pattern here. The fact is, when I know others are happy, it makes me feel happy. Or does it?

It doesn't take a psychological professional to see the issue here, right?

One of my co-workers, who seemed to understand where I was coming from, asked, "But are you happy?"

I hemmed and hawed, and answered, "Mostly. I don't know. Not really."

"Why?" she pressed.

"Because my expectations in others are too high. They are unrealistic. I suppose I just constantly set myself up for disappointment"


Ahhh, grasshopper.

Lesson learned from today's kvetching in the kitchen...lower expectations, be realistic. Just be. Happiness. Happens.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Sorry Banana Lady

As usual, I am running late.

It's 5:45 in the evening and I still need to pick my kids up from daycare/pre-k. My adrenalin is running high.

The other shoppers in the grocery store dawdle about as if they have nothing else to do but slowly and methodically analyze each banana bunch. Get. Out. Of. My. Way. I rudely reach in front of an older woman and blindly grab a handful of bananas (a must-have in our home since it is the ONLY fruit my 4 1/2 year old will eat right now). I toss them in my cart and speed away before I she can comment on my uncouth behavior (I swear I hear a barely audible, disapproving cluck as I race over to the deli counter).

A pock-marked young man starts weighing my slices of American cheese (yellow, of course) and does so slice-by-painful-slice.

Sweet Jesus.

I am wishing I had just grabbed the packaged Kraft cheese. I wonder if I could slink away without him noticing. Always multitasking, I look around to see what else I can run and grab in the general area while deli-boy slowly lays out my cheese on the scale.

"Would you like to try a sample," he asks, interrupting my plan of attack.

"Um, no," I say, although I am starving and would love to cram a couple of slices of Genoa salami down my throat. I'm starving, sweaty, and stinky--not at all a sight to behold.

Truth be told, I am late because I just had to squeeze in some gym time between work, the grocery store, and kiddo pick-up. Instead of feeling refreshed, I am now completely stressed.

Finally, cheese in hand, I jet over to the freezer case, find the Gorton's fisherman in the form of sticks, zip to the coffee aisle, and pull down a bag of Starbucks French Roast (ground). Then, I head to my final stop--cat food.


 Guess who I get stuck behind? Pokey banana lady. She turns and flashes me a dirty look. I try to pass her on the left and she ambles into path. I go right and she decides that's where she is heading. I sigh. I roll my eyes. I feel my blood boiling. Deep breath, I tell myself.

I get to the cat food and throw the kibble into my cart (I later realize I have purchased kitten food for my two mature cats). I dart up to the check out and take my place in what I think is the shortest line and wait.

And wait. And wait.

"Price check on aisle five."

My aisle. Figures. I hear someone pull up behind me. Would you believe it? Banana Lady--again. I swear she is stalking me.

I grab the latest issue of US Weekly and start reading about how painless Gisele Bundchen's birth was and how the super model is already back to her pre-pregnancy weight. Bitch. I close the magazine and put it back, trying to avoid contact with Banana Lady.

I check out, spending much more than I anticipated, and run to the car. I decide that I don't have enough time to return the cart in its nearby corral and park it on the passenger side of my car. I hop in and throw the car in reverse. A horrible clang and grinding sound stops me in my tracks. I turn to my right to see my cart (which I just hit) fly into the parking lot behind me and right into the path of (no, say it isn't so) Banana Lady!


I scoot down in my seat and try to hide. I have two choices: jump out and move my cart (and find myself face-to-face with Banana Lady, who has now collided her cart into my wayward cart); or drive forward, cutting across a few empty spaces to make an anonymous and cowardly retreat.

It's late; almost 6. I need to get the kids. I opt for the latter and speed away into the setting sun.

I am not proud. I know I need to slow down. I am trying. I did, however, make it to daycare on time.

Sorry Banana Lady.