Missives from the battlefront

I don’t know if you know this, but apparently, I am the world’s worst mother. This is per my daughter Addie, who would also like to make it known that I’m not her mother anymore, and that I should just leave her behind to die in the cold because that’s the kind of mother I am.

This scene is playing out in the parking lot of the West Geauga Library, where we are screaming things at each other at a great distance. This is the worst day of Addie’s life, evidently. I am screaming that I hope she enjoys living the rest of her life at the library, and that I hope the librarians are as big of fans of Mutt and Stuff as I am.

In case you’re wondering what could possibly have happened to spark such an epic battle of mother-daughter warfare, it turns out that I am worse than Hitler for not playing a game of Ponopoly with her at the communal game table in the library. I refused to participate for a number of reasons:

  1. The community Monopoly set is missing like 3/4ths of its cards and all of the hotels, so I don’t know how I could be expected to build my empire with just the Water Works and Baltic Ave.
  2. Why is there a board game table at the library, anyway? This strikes me as so cruel. It’s like how the grocery store insists on selling cheap, shitty toys at random intervals down every aisle, so that I either have to buy them or take off my fleshy mask to reveal the absolute horror monster of a mother that I actually am.
  3. Addie doesn’t even know how to play Monopoly. She thinks it’s called Ponopoly, which doesn’t even make sense. Get it together, Addie. Know your place.

So I tried to say I would play a more age-appropriate game with her at home– a game that I didn’t have to go ask the vaguely threatening children’s librarian for the pieces to. And this was my fatal mistake.

Things escalated quickly after that. Life with Addie is like having a really dramatic girlfriend– there was a lot of stomping around after her and pleading with her to please get in the car, then some light arm-grabbing-and-dragging, culminating in the uber-tense parking lot scene that even Tarantino would have had a hard time replicating the intensity of on-screen.

I would have been willing to go with the nuclear option of “driving away forever” (really just a quick circle around the parking lot– extremely effective and psyche-damaging), but at the last second, she caved and apologized, so she escaped without any psychic wounds, and I escaped without any child abandonment charges. And now neither of us is in the mood to play board games, as we just lived out a life-sized version of Risk.

No one can ever say that an Oja doesn’t take her games seriously.

 

Unpopular Opinion #1

I am not happy about this non-winter we’re having.

While the rest of you are basking in the 50 degree weather in January and keeping your fingers crossed that winter really isn’t coming this year, I am inside, moping that I have yet to experience a time this year that I haven’t been able to feel my toes. My kids are outside drawing chalk rainbows on the driveway right now, and I haven’t even gotten to take one obligatory rosy-cheeked-from-cold photo montage of them. The older one isn’t even wearing shoes (which, to be honest, is probably ill-advised, since it’s still only like 45 degrees outside right now, but my kids are weirdly impervious to cold, lending credence to my alien replicant theory).

I might be the only one, but I am honestly a huge fan of winter. The cold air feels cleaner, the pressure to eat salad is at a minimum, and people are much less likely in general to go outside, which means I get to live my dream of surviving an apocalypse and never having to wait in line at Potbelly for lunch. It gets dark sooner, and I am actually much more productive when it’s dark– when it stays lighter longer, I feel like I need to spend all the time I can outside, which I’m sure is great for my physical health, but wreaks havoc on my many hobbies, all of which involve a couch and blanket to adequately complete. I also hate being sweaty, so winter is a welcome change from armpit swamp.

But I think the main thing I enjoy most about winter is the fact that I can wear black leggings essentially everywhere, and because I’m wearing a giant parka, no one can judge me. After all, under this coat, I might be wearing a chic sweater dress or artfully draped tunic. I mean, I’m not– I’m probably wearing a Turtle Beach t-shirt I’ve had since the fifth grade– but no one can know that for sure.  So until it gets cold again, I am forced to actually dress like a grown human being (which really just means pants with buttons, but seriously, I would get pregnant again right now if it meant I could just wear maternity pants without shame for the rest of my life).

So bring on the snow and the sleet and the perpetually frozen snot nose! I, for one, am ready to be forced to spend the day under a blanket marathoning Making a Murderer while a blizzard rages outside. It’s a terrible sacrifice, but I am prepared to make it.

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Although then I went outside and saw what they had been drawing and now I feel guilty, but not guilty enough to not wish for unlimited leggings time.

(I can’t get no) Self-Control

I just ate what appears to be all the food in the entire universe, and I’m not feeling very good about myself right now.

Everything started out so well– I had a little turkey bacon and some coffee for breakfast, brought an apple for a snack, feeling very righteous and healthy and somewhat smug. Then cake pops suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and honestly, I think it might be against the law not to eat cake pops when they materialize for free right in front of you. Then we catered in Asian for lunch, and I’m not even sure if anyone else got to eat anything, as I stood directly in front of the containers and scooped the food directly into my mouth, and then when I was walking back to my desk I saw that there was an uneaten salt bagel sitting all by itself in a sad little almost empty bagel box, and that’s just a cruel thing to do to a salt bagel, so I brought it back to my desk in hopes of comforting it and making it feel like it was in a safe space, but then I forgot that that was my plan and I ate that, too, and I think I might actually be dying now, send help.

This lack of self-control is evident in many areas of my life, such as the area that stupidly thinks I will be able to eat only one handful of M & Ms, or the area that spends two hours reading Canadian memes on Buzzfeed. It’s the reason that I have to keep that app on my phone to remind me to drink water or go to sleep, without which I might start washing my face with Diet Pepsi and staying up until 5:00 a.m. searching for the perfect floral umbrella on Amazon.

I’ve never been one to exhibit excellent self-discipline– this would explain why I immediately stopped writing once I was no longer being graded on it. It might also explain why I have literally taken two breaks from writing this so far to play a game of Best Fiends on my phone. My guess is that David Sedaris doesn’t get distracted from his work by videos of baby sloths on the internet. I also assume he doesn’t eat an entire pound bag of Sunkist Fruit Gems in one sitting, but that’s probably true of most people.

Point is, this is obviously something I need to work on, but I have no idea how. What methods do you use to stay on task and keep disciplined? The pomodoro method? The shutting off the wifi method? The fuck it, eat all the things method? Actually, no need to provide any insights into that last one, as I have already mastered it.

A f*cking conversation with my daughter

Addie: Mom, what does “fucking” mean?

[Side note: there is literally nothing funnier than hearing a five-year-old say the word “fucking.” I know it’s wrong, and that I should have gasped here in horror, but honestly, I just sort of snorted inwardly and then attempted to compose myself enough to come up with some sort of dignified explanation as to what the word “fucking” means. I had so many questions. Not even normal questions, like “where did you learn the word “fucking”? My questions were more along the lines of– in what context was the word “fucking” being used?]

Me: Oh, honey, you’re not really supposed to say that word. Don’t ever say that word to your teacher, or any of your friends, okay?

Addie: [Now intrigued. The introduction of a forbidden word means A WORD THAT WILL NOW BECOME A PERMANENT PART OF HER VERNACULAR IF I DON’T HANDLE THIS CORRECTLY.] But what does it mean?

Me: It could mean—I don’t know, a lot of different things.

Addie: [Conspiratorially] Today, W said he was tired of playing with this fucking toy.

Me: [Secretly extremely relieved that she learned it from a random boy at school, and not from carefully deciphering everything I mutter under my breath while I’m driving] Well, like I said, honey, that’s a naughty word, we shouldn’t say that. But when he said that, he was using it like another word for “stupid.”

Addie: [Gasps. Stupid is the baddest word we have in our house. She refers to it as the S word, which really confuses me, because she’ll say stuff like “Today at school, L called E the S word”, and I’m like, dang, he just straight up called her shit? Because that’s cold.] Is fucking worse than the S word?

Me: It absolutely is. It’s a very naughty word, probably the worst one. So don’t say it, okay?

Addie: Okay.

[I leave the room, satisfied that I have done a halfway-decent job of parenting. I hear a thud, then some rustling, and then Addie—“Fucking S word remote!” I smile sadly, knowing that even though I did all I could to prevent it, she has taken her first steps down the profane but colorful road to swearytown.]

An audience of one

So far, as of this writing, I haven’t actually told anyone about this blog. My husband knows about it in the vaguest sense, but hasn’t read any of it, and wouldn’t know where to find it even if he wanted to. I kind of wanted to see if I could actually do it before I made a huge announcement to the world, only to have it immediately and very publicly become apparent that yeah, I am not, in fact, interesting or motivated enough to keep a blog alive. It’s like the modern-day struggling writer’s version of a Tamagotchi (which, PS, I also couldn’t keep alive).

I think today marks the eighth day in a row that I’ve managed to do this? So I might have to go public soon, but first, I wanted to mention an unexpected Life Lesson I’ve already learned so far in just this short period of secret-spy blogging: I think I’ve lost the ability to write just to entertain myself.

am finding this fun, and have already surprised myself with some of the topics that have belched out of me in the last few days. But for hours after I hit Publish, I instinctively find myself refreshing the blog to look for new comments, even though no one knows this is here, and honestly, even if they did, nothing very comment-worthy has happened as of yet. I walked into work this morning ready for everyone to comment on my (super fabulous, although weirdly smudgy) eye makeup this morning, only to remember that literally no one knows that I wrote this.

Until I went to college, that was the case with almost everything I wrote– and I wrote a lot. But about 90% of it was never seen by anyone, except my very best friends (and once, cringingly embarrassingly, my 10th grade English teacher), and even then I had some stuff that never saw the light of day. I wrote it just for myself, and it never bothered me that it never found a larger audience.

Ugh. So far the overarching theme I find emerging from this blog is a sort of new-age, Dr. Oz + Oprah self-discovery journey, and I kind of want to barf. The fact that it’s true doesn’t make it any less lame. So don’t worry, I promise you that this will be more fart-joke driven and less opening-my-heart-chakra driven overall. Unless you like it this way. Either way is fine. Just leave your notes of adoration in the comments.

#Iwokeuplikethis(andspentalldaylikethis)

I do not generally wear makeup. I’m not opposed to it, morally– I think other women who wear makeup look beautiful, and I don’t equate wearing makeup with pleasing a man or trying to fool the world into thinking I actually have eyelashes made of spiders. (That’s how mascara is supposed to work, right?) What I do have a moral problem with is waking up any earlier than is absolutely necessary, which is why I barely make it out the door wearing a bra, let alone a full face of makeup.

But something– probably the hideous specter of middle age that loomed over me after I turned 37— caused me to stand dumbfounded in front of a makeup display at Target over the weekend. At first I was just trying to take it all in– this whole process involves multiple sponges? What is bronzer?– and then, almost as if I had been overtaken by the spirit of the teenage girl I should have been back when I was playing trombone and creating collages of pictures of Mark Harmon, I started indiscriminately grabbing at whatever face paint I could find, tossing it into my cart before I even had a chance to think about what I was doing.

It wasn’t until I got home that I was able to survey my bounty:

  1. One eye shadow brush
  2. One palette of seemingly identical colored eye shadows
  3. Something called a smudger
  4. One black eyeliner pencil with sharpener
  5. One lipstick the exact shade of my already existing lips

So for the past two days, I have shown up to work wearing very heavy (for me) eye makeup and what must just look to everyone else like super greasy lips, and I have to say, I am both pleased and sort of depressed by the compliments I’ve been getting. Everyone is loving the eye makeup, which of course makes me immediately start worrying that my non-made-up eyes are hideous and terrifying. But on the other hand, I do feel prettier.

Maybe some other day I’ll be possessed with the urge to learn contouring or, you know, basic blush application that does not leave me looking like I have scarlet fever. But for now, I’m thinking it wouldn’t be so bad to introduce my new eye makeup routine into the rotation a couple of days a week. It makes me feel fancy, and it gives me a little extra boost of confidence. And it only takes four minutes, so that’s really the major selling point here.

Improving life, one project at a time

So far in 2016, I have gotten a little overzealous with the project-making. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I turned 37, or that it’s winter and it always seems a little easier to start something new when you’re trapped inside, or just that I am a masochist who enjoys setting herself up for failure. But I felt like it was time for a change, and what better way to do that than by blowing up everything that you currently have?

Aside from this blog, I also have the following projects going:

  1. Learn Spanish. This is something I have wanted to do since our honeymoon in the Riviera Maya, during which Ben purchased tickets to a tour from a strange man on the beach (because that seems like a totally legit method of booking travel arrangements) and it turned out the tour was all in Spanish. We didn’t have watches and didn’t know how to ask someone for the time, so we resorted to creeping up really close to people with watches on and trying to peep the time off them. Then we realized it didn’t even really matter if we knew what time it was, because we also couldn’t understand the tour guide when he told us what time to be back, so instead we just watched other people from our group and did whatever they did, rendering us essentially the world’s worst mimes for the remainder of the trip. I have picked up a little more Spanish since then thanks to Dora the Explorer and her intrepid cousin Diego, but surprisingly, knowing all the colors hasn’t really come in too handy in everyday life. Now I’m using Duolingo, and according to their website, I am now 16% fluent in Spanish, which honestly seems kind of unlikely, since I have been using it for about a month, and so far I still don’t know how to ask someone what time it is, but I can say so far all I can say is things like “the penguin drinks juice” (el pingüino bebe jugo).
  2. Learn to meditate. I hear so many things about the value of meditation, and how it improves people’s sleep, and their stress, and somehow also clears up their skin and gives them the power to levitate or something? I don’t actually know, because while I have gone so far as to download a bunch of books on the topic, I have yet to read them, and so have not actually started mediating yet, unless you count that feeling you sometimes get when you’re driving and suddenly you look up and you’re at your destination and you don’t remember how you got there, although that seems less mindful and more really dangerous.
  3. Lose 30 pounds. 2015 was kind of a stressful year for me. I know some people lose weight when they’re stressed, because they’re too anxious or busy to eat, but I am the exact opposite. I stress eat like it’s my job, and as a result, what used to be my fat pants are now just my pants pants, and I’m not ready to sail off into that sunset just yet. This is also not going super great, as I just start every day with amazing intentions, and end it crying while jamming doughnuts in my face. Perhaps if I were more mindful, I could break that cycle. Or if I had to pass a Spanish quiz to open my pantry…

There are other mini-projects in the works, too– Operation Drink More Water Even Though Water is Gross and Diet Pepsi Rules, Operation Don’t Be an Animal, Make Your Bed Every Morning, and a few others, but these are the big ones. I’ll keep you updated as events warrant. Until then, always remember: el caballo no es una fruta.

I’d call it the Toddle On Inn

I have only as long as it takes my youngest daughter to eat a bowl of ice cream (which could be anywhere between 45 seconds and 10 minutes, depending on whether she gives up and just starts shoveling it in with her hands), so I must be quick.

But it’s a good metaphor, really, for every-day life with a toddler. You must be ready to live your own life– the life that’s just for you, not the one you live for your kids, because that does happen, no matter how much you swear that it won’t happen to you— in the gaps when they are occupied, because they will never, ever let you do it otherwise.

This makes it sound very furtive and sneaky, like passing notes between prisoners when the guards aren’t watching, but honestly? It kind of is.

For instance, I just had to take a ten minute break from this blog to convince Rosie to finish eating her ice cream, just so I could have a few more minutes to write. I literally had to plead with a toddler to eat ice cream. 

There should be a resort where the staff is required to cater to the guests exactly as if they were toddlers. I want to be able to stand in the middle of the lobby wearing just underpants and a headband and make unintelligible yodeling noises while the staff attempts to talk to each other about very important things, and then I want to be able to pick up all the local wildlife by its hind legs and run awkwardly around the grounds while the maids try, but fail, to stop me.

Although that might actually not be as much fun as it sounds– which, to be honest, isn’t actually that fun, when you really think about it– since I’d also have to go to bed at 8:00 and would have to wear one of those chest floaties to go in the ocean. And also, everyone else would also be acting like toddlers, and I definitely couldn’t handle that.

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She chose hands.

 

Not suitable for children under 3

I can already see a major obstacle I’m going to have to overcome with this whole blogging every day situation: the weekends.

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Right after this, they broke the will of a mall Santa and laughed over his weeping bulk.

See, I have two small children. They look exactly like each other, and nothing like my husband and me, leading me to believe that I was twice impregnated by some sort of alien replicant situation bent on populating the earth with small, somewhat funny but usually pretty annoying blonde women.

And for some reason, they like me. Like, a lot. So when they’re not busy yelling at each other, or our cat, or just out of sheer glee at hearing their own screechy voices, they are surgically attached to me, or physically attempting to climb back into my uterus, which must have been pretty nice, given the urgency with which they try to reenter.

This kind of closeness can be quite comforting– it’s nice to feel loved, even if these same children tell me only minutes later that I am the worst mommy in the world because I wouldn’t allow them to wear their dirty underwear on their heads to the grocery store– but it turns out it is terrible for blogging. For instance, right now, literally right next to where I’m sitting, this is happening:

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TWO MEN ENTER, ONE MAN LEAVES.

So I face a dilemma– do I disarm her, re-pants her and figure out where the other boot went? (I am already ignoring the probably-permanent-marker stains on her hands and legs, because quite frankly, she’s got one on her hand that looks like a watercolor tattoo and is pretty badass, so I’d rather not mess with that.) Or do I attempt to stay focused on my writing, and ignore the nagging feeling that she might not be wearing a diaper under that shirt?

(I just checked. She’s not. So I guess that answers that question.)

Rules and Regulations

Now that I’ve set the scene– mildly depressed insurance executive longs to return to a simpler time of creative exploration and also what I remember as being essentially unlimited beer–  I should probably return to the question of what I’m actually doing here.

As you may recall, I do have a soft spot for The Man— I do work in insurance, after all, and rely on an app to remind me to make my bed and drink enough water. I love routines, and I love rules.

And projects. I love projects.

An example: my husband has been asking me for approximately the last twelve years to please do something about what he considers my excessive hoarding of meaningless objects, and what I consider my priceless memories. Each time I would attempt to clean out a box of junk from my childhood, I would end up weeping uncontrollably, rubbing a ticket stub from Jurassic Park against my cheek while humming “Sunrise, Sunset.” And yet, as soon as I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, I became a mercenary of clean, disposing of childhood toys and wedding programs with laser precision. As soon as it went from a suggestion to a project, I was unstoppable.

You’ve probably figured out by now that this blog is my project. My hope that I can revive whatever creative spirit is still inside me. If I can’t, then fine, I will concentrate my efforts on cross stitching swear words on pillows and shamelessly judging the book selections of the other people in line at the library. But if it works– I don’t know, maybe someone will find this blog and offer me a big box of money just for being so awesome, which would be great, too.

Like any good project, this one also comes with a completely arbitrary and probably unnecessary set of rules, which is what makes it extra appealing.

  1. I must write a blog a day, every day, until January 20, 2017
  2. Each entry must be at least 300 words.
  3. If I am stuck and can’t think of anything to write, I will use a prompt either I find online or, later, after I have admitted the existence of this blog to the outside world, am given by a friend.
Some of these entries will suck. That’s fine. Some might actually turn out pretty good, which is cool, too. But at the end of the year, I will have written almost 100,000 words (complete guess, as I am terrible at math, something no project will ever fix), which is about 95,000 more than I wrote last year.
 
I’m kind of freaked out about it, kind of excited, kind of self conscious and kind of generally feeling bloated, but I don’t think that last one is related. 
 
At least, I hope not.