Score.

“Four score and seven years ago” is a phrase that is familiar to many (though increasingly fewer in overall percentage, as time goes on) as part of the opening line of the Gettysburg Address. There’s no way I’m turning this into a history lesson about the Gettysburg Address, or the events surrounding it in time, so if you’re curious, crack open an Encyclopedia Britannica.

Four score and seven years is equal to 87 years. Obviously, a score is equivalent to a span of 20 years. I say it’s obvious, but I’m not sure it is. I’ll just go with this, and say that it is obvious, because only geniuses read my blog. (That’s you.)

My 20 year high school reunion is coming up next month. It’s hard to believe I graduated that many  years ago, but then, it seems like I’ve lived so much more than 20 years of time and experience. Have I crossed into a new block of storage, and disconnected from my early life’s feelings?!

If you’re curious, the answer is no: the 20 years of changes in the Bumfuck Egypt Class of ’99 is not something that has made it onto my radar of interest, beyond shredding the idea for an article. I don’t think I’m currently in touch with anyone from my class, and if I am, I don’t remember who they are.

If you’re one of my classmates, and you’re reading this now, I’ve forgotten you. Do better.

I’m not saying none of my classmates were cool. There are a bunch of them who I actually have interacted with in the past decade, maybe even in the past five years. My class was very small, and our school was stuck in the backwoods, so the people who did make it out of there, have long gone. I don’t even know how to inquire about the reunion, aside from contacting the school directly, but I don’t actually want to go that badly.

I’ve been toying with the idea of contacting my class president (who was a close buddy of mine, and would probably pick right up where we left off, if I ever saw him again) and asking him to hook me up with a live microphone during the reunion, so I could sneak in through the back door, and do an impromptu roast, before quickly exiting without any classmate interface.

I wonder how smoothly that would go? Matt says it wouldn’t.

I have other ideas.

It’s not like they can suspend me, or ban me from events I don’t even want to attend. They can’t fine you or arrest you, just for being hilarious in front of people. I don’t see how it could go badly.

Matt says I’ve alienated friends before, during times of differing opinions, and that I run the risk of pissing someone off.

Please, Matt. Please.

If I want to get up there, and say, “Hey, 20 years since we graduated. That means only 15 more years until they start to think about replacing our textbooks,” I should be able to say it. It’s no secret to my classmates, that we were being taught from archaic text, while science was growing in complexity and discovery all around us. They know that.

How many times did I open an active textbook, to see someone’s name in it, and find out they were dead from old age? More than once.

“It’s not funny that they have a very serious lack of funding for curriculum because of the exorbitant overspending around athletics  at that school. Some schools just don’t get money.”

When I was in school, the policy around academics was re-written, so that the Senior basketball players who were failing Chemistry could still play ball. The prior policy was that you couldn’t fail anything, or sports and extra-curriculars were off the table for you. But then, they had to account for the jocks who literally had nothing else to rely on. They couldn’t lose them. What would they do? Who would play basketball?!

I’ll tell you what they did. They decided that more basketball practice was what those guys needed, not more study time. If the school loses sports money, there will be nothing left to spend money on. Solid logic, for anyone who knows what it’s like to be the principal of a shitty class D school.

Just so you know, if you write an article about how stupid that is, and then have it submitted to the school paper for distribution, you get in trouble.

My high school prized preppy rich kids who wouldn’t dream of questioning authority, and the jocks happened to fall into that category, almost entirely for the most part. Not many athletes were non-preppy kids, or vice versa.

My group of kids was their arch enemy, and some of us (myself excluded) fell into the middle of that Venn diagram, making them Cool Athletes. I was not a cool athlete, but I did know some. They were always talking about how the Preppies weren’t that bad, and I wondered if they said the same thing to them about us. They called us the Crunchies. The Preppies and The Crunchies. The new Sharks and Jets.

To think that nobody changes after high school is a weird concept to me, and a good movie idea. Sure, it’s probably been done in different iterations, but I think there’s more to it. I think there might actually be truth to it, in some areas of the country. Prom King and Queen get married, and their kids marry the kids of the Prom King and Queen from the next school over, and so on. Or the Arts kids just stay close with each other forever, and nobody ever stops being interested in what everyone is reading for at the moment.

A lot can happen in the course of 20 years. In my case, everything significant in my life has taken place within the past 20 years since I graduated high school. High school is very much a thing of the distant past, for me. It’s so far gone, that it doesn’t even seem like it occurred in this life that I’m currently living.

And in a few short years, high school will be a thing of the past for my kids as well. That shit scares me. I wanted them to be able to enjoy teenagerdom so much more, before the searing pain of life comes showering down around them. I wanted them to do all the things I didn’t get to do, and regretted not doing.

My childhood and teen years were fairly uneventful, and the things that were meaningful, were few and far between. As an adult, I have had the disenchanting experience of discovering that meaningful doesn’t always equal great, and that great doesn’t always equal positive.

As I said up there, I didn’t do much as a teen, so I watched a lot of movies and TV, or had music on constantly. In movies, you always see the part where the characters are at their high school reunion, and it’s supposed to be funny, and everyone looks almost completely different than they did, and for some reason, everyone still worships the high school hierarchy that causes them to feel intimidated by the “popular kids” still.

I’m no expert on society (or so I’d have you believe), but I think that when people grow up, they stop giving a shit about who was the King of the school. Once you’re out of there, you see it as the pre-school for life that it really is. Even if I did see someone as “better than me” or “cooler than me” in school, I seriously doubt I would give a shit about that now. Clearly, high school doesn’t determine success in life. I see a lot of jocks pumping gas around here.

But at the reunion in the movies, the asshole jock is still the King, and everyone is still intimidated by him, and they all still think he’s the coolest. And the most popular girl in school is still the hottest chick around, because somehow, none of the other women managed to ever become better looking than her, which is really what matters, isn’t it?

Side note: I’ve written an article on this topic before, and after revisiting it, I decided it was mean. Not intentionally mean, but it certainly came across that way, and it didn’t reflect how I truly feel, so I’ve done away with it, and integrated it into this one. You all know how good I am at finishing things, so here we go. Back to the thing.

Examples of why I think high school kids – WHILE AMAZING TO STUDY SOCIALLY – annoy me:  20 Years Later Edition.

This particular current event was a Drama banquet at my son’s school, and I would like to stress again, that all of these kids are cool as fuck, and they’re smart, and driven, and they embrace fun in everything they do. Pretty good crowd, right?

Allow me to set the scene of said banquet: in the room, there were 20 tables. Each table sat 8 people. It wasn’t going to be a very big event, so when my family of 4 arrived, we just chose a table and clustered ourselves around one half of it. Another family of 4 could sit on the other side, or 2 families of 2, or a family of 3 and a family of 1.

There was only a total of 8 kids there at the time. Do you think they all sat at the same table? Of course not, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Let ‘em spread out. That didn’t bother me, but here’s where my first example begins: as the other students started arriving, the sitting students would scream their names, as if they hadn’t seen them for like, THREE WHOLE HOURS.

And one by one, these kids were verbally invited to “The Cool Table” at the front of the crowd, leaving the rest of us peasants to feel collectively excluded, like some old people at the back of that rock show you like s’damn much.

Honestly, I didn’t even know that “Cool” shit still existed. I mean, I had my suspicions, but this was weird. How is it The Cool Table, if everyone is sitting at it? Wouldn’t that just be A Table?

And what about the fact that MY table WASN’T The Cool Table?! I mean, my family is hysterically funny, and we have THE BEST dinner time conversations. If our table isn’t The Cool Table, then I don’t want to be cool, I guess, and it’s my choice, not because they said I wasn’t.

The Cool Kids started taking the chairs from the other tables, while those people were up at the buffet, WHICH WAS AMAZING. The buffet, I mean, not the stealing of chairs. That was pretty annoying, because they took 6 of the chairs from our table while we were gone, and we had to steal them from other jerks from Less-Cool-But-Still-Pretty-Cool tables.

It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I have principles, and I was not about to eat a whole plate of delicious meatballs while standing up. Those kids thought I wouldn’t be that lazy, but they obviously underestimated me.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Well, my kids don’t do that stuff.” And I would say to you: shutup and stop lying to yourself. Just because your kids aren’t doing these particular things, doesn’t mean they aren’t acting like little shitheads when you’re not around, and they’re allowed to be “cool.”

Believe me, they’re doing just that. And they’re good at it. No matter how great you think your kid is, I guarantee there is someone whose nerves they love to work on. Maybe it’s you. Who knows.

Some people like to say, “When you were their age, you did that too,” and to some extent, they’d be right, but I wasn’t even remotely excited about anything my peers were doing in the 90s, so they’re also kinda wrong. I mean, I remember being annoying, but everyone is. Everyone is annoying, including your kid, remember?

But there’s a difference between being annoying, and being an experience that everyone has to live through. So maybe yours is not screaming at the top of their lungs, to welcome a peer to the table in the most extravagant way possible. Maybe they’re the peer that is being showered with those feelings, making them believe they are extra special, just like everyone else who walked in.

Maybe yours is wildly unpopular, and would die to feel the acceptance that others so freely give away. Maybe yours is like me, and realizes that, after you graduate high school, shit changes. Prom King and Homecoming Queen don’t translate well on a resume, and certainly not when it comes to keeping yourself alive.

My high school experience was full of days that I swore I had wished away hard enough, but seemed to drag on forever. Every day was a struggle, in and out of school, and graduation day seemed like an eternity in the future, to the point where I couldn’t even decide what that would look like. I just knew high school was not what I thought life would be like. So my master plan was to laugh through as much of the bullshit as I could, which as it turns out, is a lot.

And as soon as I graduated, life got real, and that shit wasn’t pretty.

I was back at the starting line of life, with everyone else, even the popular kids, and the century was turning. The next generation was already being born, and technology was changing the way we perceived each other (and life).

Like many of my classmates, I became a parent, and then the internet taught us how to be the right kind of parent, and we took those tips (sometimes from people who weren’t parents, and had no education on the topic) and we ran with them.

We kept checking back, to make sure we were doing what everyone else was doing, and NOT doing what everyone else thought was wrong. It changes all the time. One day spaghetti is the best thing for kids, and the next day, it causes brain death. We could no longer afford to make the mistake of not being in-the-know.

Spaghetti doesn’t cause brain death, so if you’re not one of my regular readers… I exaggerate sometimes. Go ahead and feed your kids spaghetti. Or don’t, I mean, I’m not your kid’s parent, so that’s just some advice you can take or leave. I feel like they won’t die without spaghetti, but I’m no doctor.

Innovations in social media and personality branding, as well as unrealistic hyper-active parenting woes, as well as the deadly peer scrutiny and judgment, have all created a monster. Kids are being held to impossible standards by their peers.

They feel the need to change. They feel the need to chase perfection. They feel the need to fit a mold. They feel the need to replicate what others admire. It’s just an image, based on the heavily edited photos and videos they see online and on television and in magazines, and we know this, but girls and guys alike are all susceptible to it.

That’s right. It isn’t just the ladies who are feeling the pressure. It’s everywhere, and if they aren’t adhering to the latest tweet or post from a major influencer (which is a fucking job now), they can expect to be rejected everywhere in their physical life. Guys too.

That’s something I find annoying, and new. I didn’t have to deal with social media when I was in school, so maybe that’s why I think things are so much worse now. Remember, I thought high schoolers were annoying before; there is nothing new about this. The part I find new, is the immediate broadcast of every feeling and reaction people have, before they have the opportunity to process the emotion.

A minor tiff between friends, once easily solved by a little time and space, can easily escalate to someone’s entire life being ruined, because social media allows us to share our feelings (about a person or event) across a wide net of people. The bigger the audience, the more people to share in that view, and the faster that immediate reaction turns into a group opinion.

I’m not sure how I would have made it through high school, if I had to deal with social media. Could I have shut it out, as I claim it to so easily be done? Who knows?

I do know one thing I could have benefited from, that would have changed my whole experience. It’s something that my son’s high school sees as a basic need, and that’s faculty support.

I never had any teachers or counselors or mentors telling me that they believed in me, or saying anything about my potential. I didn’t know I could do it. I didn’t work toward any goals, because nobody ever told me there was anything to work toward. Nobody cared what happened to me, as long as I was doing what I was told. A mentor could have really helped me see what I was capable of achieving.

My son’s high school is full of that type of thing, and it’s so beautiful to see it everywhere. These kids are nice, even where exclusion exists, and the teachers really care about what the students’ lives are like. They invest the time in getting to know them, and they encourage them, and rally around them, not just for the students themselves, but for the ripple of positivity that it causes.

There are infinitely more clubs and organizations, and there is so much talent that is being proudly shown in so many ways. At my school, anyone who showed pride in a talent was quickly torn down, until they didn’t believe in themselves anymore. We had no band. We had no clubs. We had a shitty drama department that was student-led, and poorly supported by the school. The teachers just waited to get out of there each day, and interacted minimally with the students. No interesting courses were offered, and we only had two foreign languages: French and Spanish. When I began foreign language, they only offered French.

My school was full of people who were not informed of their potential. To see my son going to a school that celebrates hard work, is a blessing to me. It doesn’t mean there are no challenges or downsides, but to have peers and faculty believe in you is a powerful thing. I don’t think I ever had that, anywhere.

Looking back, I don’ t know what that would have changed, because I eventually did just stop expecting anyone to believe in me, and learned to believe in myself. 20 years later, I only regret not caring more about myself, or subjecting myself to criticism more. It never occurred to me to care what others think, and I’m sure I wouldn’t feel any differently now, just because it has been 20 years.

I used to hate school, mostly because of the school itself. I have no problems talking negatively about it, because it was a terrible place that didn’t value education, and didn’t recognize the important role of a student/teacher relationship (not that kind). It made me hate the idea of school. It made me look at it as a waste of time.

But time is valuable, and if students are expected to respect teachers’ time, then teachers need to reciprocate that same thing in students. Students should automatically assume that their time is also valuable.

You know what happens when it isn’t? They grow up bitter. They grow up thinking they can’t lean on others. They grow up to write articles about how shitty their high school experience was, and that it taught them how unimportant goals and dreams and confidence and talent and determination and self-actualization were.

I know I’m doing myself a disservice by not going to the 20 year reunion, because of the fact that it’s in my writing wheelhouse to analyze situations like that, and relate them to measurements of time, and break down society’s affect on people I used to know. I should go, even if I can’t roast my classmates. Though, that would absolutely be a deal-maker.

But in the end, my time is just too valuable to waste another minute of it in that school.

1999 and forever!

-jg

 

Vacation, By Accident

I’m taking a break from writing, which was completely unintentional. I’m at such a loss for writing inspiration right now, because I’ve been doing this for so long, and I still feel like I’m writing only for myself. If I’m writing for myself, there really is no reason to commit anything to page, because I probably will never find the time to read it again.

Matt says not to give up, ever, and I can see why he would say that, but you can’t pull motivation out of thin air, and there isn’t exactly a ton of drive for me to write anything. I didn’t even know how to word that first paragraph, and found myself getting distracted by Matt’s singing. That’s how I know I can’t write.

When I started this blog, I had tons of shit to say, and now I feel like it doesn’t really matter what I say, because nobody is actually listening. I’ll never be paid to write, and even the people who used to say they loved my writing have stopped reading. So the inspiration is lacking, and thereby, I see no reason to write.

I think back to some of my old posts, and I am thrilled with how funny and insightful some of them are, and it doesn’t even seem like I wrote them. I’m an empty well of ideas, where I was once overflowing with thoughts and philosophies and perceptions. Those old posts were so beautifully written, that I would read them over and over, but very few people have even read them once. Why keep writing?

If you haven’t read my old stuff, here are some of my favorites. I figure, if I can’t entertain you at this time, I may as well entertain you from the past.

Feel free to share, if you enjoy them.

The Feverish Brain

“Why Now?” revisited

Hey! Stop Blowing Me (off)

Manic Depression Is A Frustrating Mess

I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!

Mothers’ Day… Just ONE?!

Last Day of School 2017

Covfefe

Why Women’s Empowerment Is Important To Me

Vacation… Nothing Like What I Wanted

WOMAN…Whoa, Man…

Can I Help, Or Be Lazy?

There’s some love, some satire, some truth, some messages, and some ranting. I hope you enjoy it all, and I hope to see you soon.

-jg

The End of Good Times

Upon reading the title of this week’s post, one might be under the impression that the subject matter is regarding the cancellation of the hit 1970s sitcom, Good Times. The series finale of Good Times was, in itself, a good time, because everyone lived happily ever after. Like… every single character had some pretty awesome closure on their respective arcs. I don’t recall all of the details, but I remember Keith gets to go play for the Chicago Bears, so there aren’t many good times that could top that one. Continuing his arc would be pointless (until 25 years later, when television ratings started to truly rely on how badly someone once-famous spiraled out of control after achieving fame).

Also, Willona and Thelma found out they get to stay neighbors, so that was also a pretty good time that would be tough to beat. Perhaps not for James.

Alas, this isn’t about the show. It’s about something people don’t usually talk about openly: The Happiness Hangover (I would love to take credit for that term, but I only just learned it, while researching this phenomenon). Think about a time in your life, when you were having the best time, and everything was perfect in your world, and nothing stressful or worrisome was taking up rent space in your head or your heart, and things just seemed to be exactly how you would want them to be forever… but then when it ends, you feel like you’re standing at the end of a long road, and there’s no clear way to go. The happiness of the experience is still fresh and vivid, but the experience itself is over. You wish it wasn’t over, because that means you’re back to the way things actually are.

Maybe you just graduated high school, and you’ll be parting ways with your friends, and you’re finally taking that step into adulthood, bound for work or for college, and you can’t help feeling that it’s the end of something, (note: it’s the beginning. Buckle the fuck up). Or you just came back from the most relaxing and fun-filled vacation you’ve ever had, and now you have to get back to The Grind, and you find yourself bored with the things that used to be a part of your everyday machine. The feeling is the same. You want to ride the high, or keep smiling and laughing with people, or keep pushing yourself to discover who you are, or keep seeing more of the world, or whatever it is that is keeping your dopamine flowing. When it stops, we feel a chemical dump that sends our spirit crashing down, and ordinary life seems bleak.

I talk about this, because my son has recently felt this for the first time. He has never been very popular or made friends easily. Even when he did have a “circle” of friends, they were a small circle. Like, not even a circle. More like a line segment. He’s always been an avid reader, and he looks like the stereotypical “nerd,” so people don’t approach him, and he’s never had success in approaching others, so he’s content to just be alone. He always sits alone at lunch, and nobody has ever tried to sit with him. It’s a mystery to me. Besides being intelligent, funny, considerate, and clever, he’s also interested in a wide variety of things, and could hold a conversation with any person of any age. He holds doors for people, and opens my car door for me EVERY time, even when it’s not exactly helpful. The sentiment is there, because it just occurs naturally to him, to be a good person. But he’s not very outgoing, so he generally goes unnoticed.

He was in his high school musical recently, and played a major part. He was incredibly funny, delivered his lines comically, and sang his heart out! He had a great time for the months they worked their asses off, and became friends with everyone in the group, finally showing how much fun he can be to hang out with. As a Sophomore, he is experiencing a sadness over the fact that the people he hit it off with most from the musical, are Seniors. They’re all friends with each other, and they all hang out after school, and they all have clubs and activities together, and they all have classes together, and they’ll all leave everyone behind together. Now that the musical is over, those students have no inclination to socialize with my son. He hasn’t felt that feeling of being left behind before, and it’s not tasting very good the first time.

We feel a sense of sadness when the rug is ripped out from under us like that, and though the feeling eventually wears off… and even though there will always be more good times… they will also end. Life is just a chain of good times, with painful idling between the links (I’m not calling them bad times. You call them that.) If we didn’t have that “down time” we most certainly would not appreciate the moments of happiness as much, so it’s necessary to feel that crash at the end, to keep us grounded to reality. Isn’t it fucked up that we can’t go flying away with the notion that any high can last forever? Some religions see life as suffering; to live is to suffer, and we die, and then we live again to suffer until we die, and it goes on, in a cycle called Samsara. This is what I think life would be, if we didn’t have this balance. 

Let me explain.

Opponent Process Theory tells us that when we experience a strong emotion, the opposite feeling is bound to follow. So when we go to a concert, or visit loved ones, or receive praise, our brain will try to counter the dopamine release (produced by the brain, during the good time) by swinging you back into balance with some mundane shit. That’s why life can seem gloomy and rather boring, after you’ve experienced something that causes your brain to release the drugs of pleasure. In my son’s case, he experienced months of happiness, culminating in high praise from his peers and his audience. When that was over, and he was no longer performing, he felt like there was no excitement to be had. The drugs from his brain had worn off. Going to school, reading, playing video games, and other ordinary daily activities brought him back down to homeostasis, and while his “normal self” is incredibly fun to be around, he doesn’t feel the same happiness that he did when he was being accepted by his peers. It’s a simple pleasure, but it’s something that was meaningful to him, and seemingly not very meaningful to anyone on the other side of the equation. Opponent Process Theory tells him that he’s going to feel accepted and appreciated by peers, only to go back to being ignored and alone. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

So now that we know good times are a fleeting luxury, what can we do to ease the pain of the crash? Have more good times, and try to limit the time in between, just in case? I wonder how good that could be for you? Is it possible to overdose on your own transmission of dopamine? Or worse: do we just not take the chance, by limiting ourselves to how much happiness we experience? I speak from experience, when I say this: THAT’S NOT THE RIGHT ANSWER. But it made me really think about it. Why has nobody ever talked about this around me before? This is the shit they need to be teaching in school, because it sucks to not know.

The other night, Sonny had a chorus concert, and it was the 4th time I’ve seen him sing in public. I still cried like a baby. I love seeing him be so involved and dedicated and versatile and confident in what he does, and his good times often reflect as good times for me, too. So when he crashes, I crash too; his attachments are to the people he does extra-curriculars with, and my attachment is to him. If I have to see him be sad or lonely, it stops being a good time for me. He is still on the high of the praise he received for his singing the other night, and it happens to coincide with the beginning of his next endeavor in theater, so there may be some minimizing of “downtime” happening there. If that’s how he manages it, I can only hope he doesn’t burn himself out. I’ve been told, “by always looking forward to the next thing, you’re wishing your life away.” I wonder if any of that’s true?

-jg

Did Someone Just Fuckin’ Say “Christmas”???

It’s only October.

But it’s late October, which means a few things in this consumerist society in which we’re drowning. The first, is the Party City enema everyone is forced to endure on television. I don’t watch much television, but Hulu shows enough commercials to offset any lost time we may have experienced otherwise. Thank you, Corporate America! It’s virtually impossible to miss the fact that it is, indeed, Halloween, but that doesn’t stop us from putting up our own decorations, even if our neighborkids are just going to rip them down and destroy them anyway. We’ll probably make our own costumes, like we always do in my family because we’re cheap, because we just love the idea of being someone else, for just a few hours. It’s an escape no other holiday can offer. In my opinion, costumes should be heavily marketed all year round, but that’s not this blog post. It’s another one.

You may have also noticed that it’s prime season for pepperings-in of holiday commercials. While still few in numbers, there is no denying that these earlybird companies are merely the first to dip their toes into the icy cold water of the dreaded SHOPPING SEASON. That means more commercials, more catalogs, more magazine ads, more store displays, more articles about the “big toy of the season” that you’ll definitely have to pre-order, because just the very mention of something potentially becoming popular, is enough to make everybody want it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really; it’s only popular because consumers were afraid it would become too popular, and so they take “precautionary” measures, and those precautions result in what we call A Clusterfuck.

Since I’ve been cognizant of the phenomenon of holiday product pushing, I’ve always noticed the stark absence of commercials for clothing, other than Macy’s or Kohl’s, and those ones are fuckin strange. The ads show a group of people usually laughing, and they’re bopping around or moving in some unnatural way for hanging out, and literally nobody is saying anything. Everyone is just laughing and smiling. What was that shoot like? Was it… like this….?

Director: “Hey, put these pants on, and get in there and laugh.”
Actor: “At what?”
Director: “I don’t know, just laugh. You’re having a great time wearing that sweater and scarf and super tight pants.”
Actor: “That’s not funny, though. What am I laughing at?”
Director: “Think of something funny. It’s method acting.”
Actor: *shrug* “Okay.”
Director: “Pick up that giant red ball, too, and throw it at her.”
Actress: “Me?!”
Actor: “You want me to throw the ball at her?”
Director: “Yeah, it’s fun. It’s what people do in scarfs and jeans. Make sure you get that kid laughing too.”

I’ve seen some good old fashioned snowball fights on commercials for clothing, too. Mostly for outdoor clothing, but some featured people without coats -but with scarfs and earmuffs and gloves- throwing snowballs at each other. I don’t know.

The majority of holiday ads are geared toward children and teens. You know why. It’s because they’re the ones who are doing all the watching; watching TV, streaming Hulu, or they’re checked into YouTube to watch some idiot watching something else. They’re getting their daily dose of commercials, and they’re going to know exactly what they want for the holidays, because it’s not just the adults who lose their minds over the next Tickle Me Elmo, it’s the young ones too. They know what The Big Ticket is, and if they don’t see it for themselves on TV, they’ll hear all about it, and you bet your ass they’re going to let you know. And then, the deal is fuckin sealed for you, because if you don’t get that thing, you didn’t do enough. Doesn’t matter what else you get them. If it’s not that particular thing, you get to hear about how you should have pre-ordered it, and you’ll learn the names of 16 other kids who did get it, and you realize holiday consumerism is a scam, and watch your hard earned money just sit there on the floor, because it’s not The Big Ticket.

And then they play with something they already owned. Is that in the holiday ads? Where the kid just says fuckit, and starts playing with the Legos he was playing with the night before? Or where they get mad that they can’t have candy canes or bell-shaped chocolates for breakfast? Where are those ads? I remember one time, my dad put dry Lucky Charms in my stocking, just to get me to eat cereal instead of candy. I ate the marshmallows, and left the rest. Holiday Loopholes.

Speaking of loopholes, there needs to be one for relatives, because physics has forbidden me from being in two places at once. I’ve used up all of my freebies with the universe, so now I can only be in one place at one time, and that essentially guarantees that someone is going to be feeling like the asshole (spoiler: it’ll be me). I have to tell somebody no, or at the very least, reschedule for a time that is convenient. You know what isn’t convenient? Having to tell someone that they are the person you chose to reschedule. Friggin holidays… creating unrealistic expectations and incredibly realistic arguments since too-long-ago.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but there’s a holiday we celebrate here in the United States, and it’s called Thanksgiving. It’s a bullshit holiday by its very existence, but it’s cloaked in an air of “appreciation” so people aren’t allowed to talk shit about it. You have to be thankful. Don’t be a dick. That’s for the other 364 days of the year. Surely, you can spare one day of your year to not be so greedy, because that’s what Thanksgiving is about!

NO IT ISN’T.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a food holiday that we use as an excuse to eat more than we normally do, and we pretend to be nicer than we really are. There are not usually gifts involved, but like Christmas or Chanuka, there is a fair amount of prep work that must be done, in order to successfully drive you insane execute the holiday. There is usually a big-ass turkey as the star of the meal, unless you’re a vegetarian, or you have a weird bird thing. I don’t know what people eat, if they’re not having turkey. I could eat turkey every day for the rest of my life, and be alright about it. Aside from that, you gotta have potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and pie. That’s the big four, as far as I’m concerned, and I would need nothing else on my plate, to make it a good night. But for most people, that’s just the appetizer.

I used to run a Biggest Loser competition at my old job, and when Thanksgiving came around, I had to tune everyone out, because even someone who is trying to lose weight will still glorify the horrific extent of consumption that happens on this holiday. It’s almost a necessity to over-indulge. Americans are convinced that this day just doesn’t count, and their bodies won’t pay for the random day of odd dieting that could easily equal 3 days’ worth of caloric, sodium, and fat intake. The fact is, if you give a day a special name, Americans will find a way to incorporate food into it, even if we’re unhealthy. It’s what we do. It’s why we are the way we are. If you try to figure it out, you will get lost (make sure to bring some snacks, in case you get hungry along the way).

I’ve seen some Thanksgiving dinners that were ridiculous. My sister and mom are notorious for doing way too fuckin much. 3 turkeys, AND ribs, AND roasts and stuff. And that doesn’t even include the milliondy-four sides they have prepared. You’d think they were going on vacation, and wanted to cook up everything in their house before they left. Nope, just cramming enough food for 50 people into 10 people. Because it’s a celebration! It’s weird how far we have come, from celebrating our hard work paying off in a plentiful harvest, to spending $500 on a meal that normally costs you $40 to make. Happy Thanksgiving.

The funniest thing on Thanksgiving, I think, is the sheer number of hours we spend watching the Christmas commercials. You think you’re watching football, or the Macy’s parade, but you’re just being violated by the grubby intentions of corporate America. They know you’re watching. They can practically smell the food on your breath. They know the kids can see, and if they aren’t in the room, that’s okay, because the toy ads play just a little bit louder than the show you’re watching. The second that one kid hears the annoyingly sugary voice of a woman excitedly telling you about a tiny plastic dog that just shit out some puppies, the stampede is imminent. They need the toy, but they also need to see the commercial for the toy. Right after that, while you’re still reeling from the sound of screams, it’s the commercial that tells you what your wife wants for jewelry. They know your wife can see, and if she isn’t in the room, that’s okay, because the jewelry ads play on EVERY FUCKING STATION.

Let me tell you something about jewelry ads: they’re funny as hell. The only commercial funnier than jewelry ads (and As Seen On TV ads) is a food commercial. Sidetracking for a second… What kind of reality exists, where someone takes a bite or a drink, and they close their eyes and breathe in deeply so their shoulders shrug up toward their ears, and they smile, so you know they’re thoroughly enjoying what they just consumed? Seriously. It’s lunch meat. It’s coffee. It’s a pasta dish. It’s a damn chocolate that is gonna send you to heaven, apparently. I have never eaten anything like that, in my entire life, and I love food more than I love some of my siblings. But jewelry ads are so fake, they make the food orgasm scenes look like Shakespeare in the park.

“This Christmas, show her you mean forever. Get her the Eternal Sweetheart Wife In Love diamond set from Shitz’s.”

Let me stop you there. I like the fact that they’re encouraging people to show love, instead of just saying it with dumb old words (who does that anymore?) but this is a pretty expensive way to say it. Diamonds? I’d much rather have $400 in nachos, or massages, or shoes, or cookware, or books, or paint, or scrap wood. In fact, don’t even spend that much money on me, unless it’s in car repairs or vacation details. Diamonds have no purpose, and still, they’re constantly pushed on couples, as a means to prove how strong their love is. Why not just get her the 100% steel set instead? That shit is strong. Not even jet fuel can melt it.

Christmas is the time for buying a car. If you have been putting off buying a new Lexus, now is the time. If you have perfect credit, come down and get the best deals, so we can work on your credit score. Get $1,000 off a $45,000 car, with no money down, and 0% APR. There’s no better time to surprise your spouse with a major expense, without discussing it with them first, financially. Hurry in to your Lexus dealer, before all of the cars are gone… because that’s something that ever happens. When this sale ends, it ends, until our New Year’s sale, and then our Presidents’ Day sale, and then the St. Patrick’s Day sale, and the Easter Sale, which is right before the Spring Clearance! See your Lexus dealer TODAY, and get a large red bow at no extra cost! The large red bow indicates that it’s a gift, even though the payments will be a joint expense, and you’ll probably also drive or ride in it. It’s a gift for them, which you’ll be able to successfully hide until Christmas morning, because they’ll never look in the garage. No garage? That’s okay, we will drive the car up into the driveway for you, when you’re ready to present it to your spouse (as a gift, for your spouse) and then sneak away stealthily on foot, back to the dealership on Christmas day! We have nothing to do, trust me, it always works out this way. It’s the Christmas miracle.

It would be funny to see holiday commercials change with the season, to reflect how tired we are of the ads by mid-December. The guy has the sweater on, and he’s making the Angry Dad Face at the kid, who has half of his clothes off, and the pants have grape juice and cheesy fingerprints on them, and the dog is working on the turkey, on top of the table, while the woman is drinking a glass of wine and running away. There’s half-written Christmas cards on the floor, without stamps on them. A toddler is pulling a Santa costume out of Dad’s bottom drawer. Nana is snapping the Christmas records in half. The director might tell them: “I don’t give two fucks, I just want this nightmare to end,” and they’ll all be motivated by that.

I’m not ready for the holidays yet. I can dig Halloween, because I love candy, and free candy is always good (well, maybe not always, don’t listen to me, Kids). I don’t want to think about Thanksgiving, and I certainly don’t want to think about Christmas yet. There are so many things that have to happen between now and then, and if I start thinking about the holidays, the other things will just become unimportant bumps in the road, and I don’t want that. I want to enjoy each day, and experience each bump for what it is. We are always so obsessed with time going by, that we’re forever reminding ourselves of what’s to come, instead of just living it when it gets here. When it finally does arrive, we are too busy thinking about what’s next, to fully appreciate what is happening. Let the days go by, but don’t forget to live them. Make something special out of each day. Just like Mr. Rogers said for you to do. I’m copying him, is what I’m trying to say.

It’s only October. Let it be.

-jg

I Was Almost Vinced.

Last week, I learned the meaning of the word “vincible” in more ways than one. Obviously, I looked it up in the dictionary, and wasn’t surprised to see it there. It literally means the opposite of “invincible,” which we all know, means you can’t be vinced.

I also learned the definition the hard way, by getting into a car accident. It’s worth mentioning that everyone survived, so, this isn’t that kind of invincibility (or vincibility, as it were) story, you can relax. It’s more about realizing that you’re human.

As of the day I am writing this, it has been a week since the crash, and I have experienced a metamorphic transformation of sorts, in those seven days. Nobody ever expects an accident, and when you get into one, it happens so fast, that you can easily get lost in the true events of what you’re experiencing. You ask “How did that happen?!” which is a fair question to ask, unless you were doing something risky and it just caught up with you. In that case, be your own detective.

Not only do you wonder how it happened, you can actually block out the details of what happened. One minute, you’re driving, and the very next moment, you’re spun around in a ditch on the other side of the road. If you were rear-ended, it can be extremely unclear, and you’re left with unanswered questions because the other driver probably isn’t going to want to incriminate themselves for the sake of your peace of mind. Sometimes, they’re an old couple, who you run over to check on, and they’re grouchy fuckin dicks to you. Or, it’s a redneck who wasn’t paying attention while driving way-too-fast mph on a back road in the winter, and they tell the insurance company that it was your fault. Or, sometimes it’s an extortionist who wants to make a quick buck on an insurance payout, and isn’t afraid to lay low for awhile to prove how useless injured they are. In any case, even if they’re nice, they aren’t worried about you, as much as they’re worried about themselves. But feel free to call them for an interview, if you think you’ll be able to figure some shit out. I wasn’t so lucky.

This was my second accident with my son in the car, and I’m grateful beyond all that is powerful in the universe, that he was not hurt in either one. This one was a bit less intense, but he was a champ throughout the whole thing, and has been ever since. The thing I haven’t been able to shake, is the feeling that, if we had collided one second sooner, my son could have been killed. I don’t know what I would do without him in my life, but if something happened to him because of my inability to protect him, I would struggle with being able to recover and cope. Again, I am so thankful that he is okay, and that he isn’t also caught up in this line of morbid thought that I can’t seem to get out of.

Another thing I have been struggling with, is the fear that everyone is going to come out of nowhere and hit me. I can’t check both ways enough times before pulling into the street or turning a corner. I can’t slow down enough, or allow enough space between myself and other vehicles. I know it’s normal to feel this paranoia after a crash, but I feel like it’s becoming ingrained in me. I am always a cautious and attentive driver; I never text and drive, I don’t look at my phone at all, I watch my mirrors and blind spots, and I minimize my interactions with other features in the car. I have impeccable reaction time, and have always been able to work around the poor planning and neglectful habits other drivers. I do well with rotaries, highway traffic, crazy drivers, construction, darkness, inclement weather, and distractions from my passengers. I can drive for long distances without falling asleep, and even though I’m a terrible navigator, I can follow direction. So, being in the mindset that I need to be even safer than that or we’re all going to die, is so unhealthy. Matt says the more I think about it, the more distracted I’ll be. I do know this already.

Perhaps the oddest piece of this puzzle, is that, no matter how hard I try to relive the crash, I cannot figure out where those old people came from. They weren’t there, and then they were. They were not there, and appeared in the same space as me, at the same time, and my car fell apart, while theirs was virtually untouched. Not a scratch on it. And not only that, but neither of them were hurt even a little, and they didn’t call their insurance company, or talk to mine. Didn’t even give their names. Which leads me to the conclusion that they weren’t real.

Maybe I’m just trying to compensate for my momentary lapse of perfection on the road, but I have been so confused about their existence, that I can think of no logical explanation to account for their involvement in the accident. There was nobody on that road with me, in any direction, and it was broad daylight, bright sunshine, no distractions. I didn’t just imagine this; my son is also perplexed by the fact that they literally came out of nowhere. This is some Unsolved Mysteries shit, at the highest level. Someone needs to open an X-File, not an insurance claim!

When your car becomes worthless, it’s what they call a Total Loss, which means your car has sustained more damage than it could ever be sold for again. I think mine was already at that point, prior to the accident, but if someone thinks they want to give me the Kelley price for it, then I’ll take it. It certainly helps, when you have no idea how you’re going to get around all of a sudden. If you’ve ever been one of those people who doesn’t have multiple working vehicles, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, and motorcycles in their garage, you know the struggle. In my area, everyone has 450 trucks and cars in their yard, but you can’t borrow one for a few days, because that person needs those cars to sit there, in case all of their other vehicles somehow mysteriously stop working at one time. You figure your own shit out, but don’t forget… they’re there for you if you need anything. Just ask.

Since the accident, I have driven over 400 miles, and I may as well be walking on eggshells. The anxiety I feel over the responsibility to keep my family safe has been great. Not great, as in good. Great, as in MASSIVE. I have a brand new car, and every sound is making me obsess over whatever the worst case scenario could be. I hate that feeling. I feel like I already live my life that way, ruled by irrational fears, due to traumatizing experiences in the past. (I am aware of what PTSD is, thanks) I just want to be able to shut out those thoughts, so I can be happy and enjoy life while it’s going well.

But the dilemma is, if I relax, I might miss something or neglect to act somehow. I know I’m vincible now, and that I have to rely on more than just my instinct; I have to be mindful in every second. How can I just sit back and enjoy life, when I am responsible for so much? I don’t have the “working” job, I have the job where everyone’s well-being rests in your hands. They eat, because you shop for food, cook the meal, and feed them. They go to school and work, because you take them and pick them up. The bills are paid, because you call the company when there’s a problem, and when there isn’t, you are making sure that things remain problem-free. The laundry is done, because you took care of it between other tasks. The appointments are scheduled around each other, however plentiful they may be, because you pay attention to the packed schedule, and ask what everyone is doing, or needs. Teachers and counselors stay informed, because you keep them in the loop. Unspoken issues get attention, because you notice that something isn’t right, and you dig. It’s not a paid job, but it takes from you. You end up being the one who pays, because the worry and responsibility of being a parent at home is a lot to bear.

That is, if you love and care about your family. I don’t know, some people don’t. Some people let all of the responsibility rest on the child(ren). Some parents don’t even like to be considered a parent. They want to be the Best Friend. In my opinion, a Best Friend would offer to do my dishes once in awhile, or clean up their shit around the house. Might be why I don’t have a best friend (just kiddin, Matt!)

I’ve learned about the fragility of life, and how easy it would be to just stop living, if we don’t take the time to care and consider. Even when you think nothing is happening, even when you think you’re not in danger, even when you think you’ve taken every precaution… it’s important to realize that we are not invincible, and that we are constantly surrounded by circumstances that we don’t even notice. Circumstances that can change your life greatly (great, as in massive). Even the most cognizant of people can miss something, and everything can be taken away in that instant.

But don’t forget to relax.

-jg

p.s. nothing heavy next week, I promise! I will come back swinging, whatever that means in the writing world.

 

Writer’s Block

How do you get writer’s block, when your writing style is “journal”? It hardly makes sense for anybody, but I am especially surprised that I personally am unable to talk about myself. How do I have nothing to say, and I’m me? I was voted Biggest Mouth in my Senior class in high school. I always have something to talk about, even when I don’t.

I sat down to get my writing surroundings in order, and I’m moderately comfortable, for how hot it is, and especially for how humid it is! I have my fully charged laptop, my pillow chair that I customized to my own weird comfort needs, my coffee (okay, that’s gone now), my fan on, my lighting dimmed, my mood elevated, and my hair out of my face (for now)… I even put on some tunes, to get my brain primed for entertaining.

Unfortunately (I don’t find it unfortunate) for me, I chose to listen to Aesop Rock, and I don’t know if you have ever listened to Aesop Rock before, but he doesn’t exactly make you feel like you know a fuckin thing about the English language. And here, I thought I was exclusive in some sweet love affair (with super light expectations) with the English language. Then I met Aesop, dude. Then I met Aesop.

I didn’t meet him, but I did see him at a small show a couple of years ago, and he was like, pretty much sweating on me (during the show, guys…) because of how close I was. He looked really good, too. Hey, Aesop. What’s up with you coming back? My boyfriend is totally cool with me asking.

So as I was saying, Aesop Rock magically uses language to create stories from beyond my wildest dreams, and when I listen to his music, it reminds me of how good I think I am, only to then realize how good I could be, but still am not. He plays with parts of speech, and captivates the listener with relatable anecdotes, pop culture, double entendre, and philosophy, all blended by his hypnotic vocal style. To say the man has an extensive grasp on vocabulary would be an understatement, and I almost always learn some new word or foreign phrase from his songs. I am so captivated by wanting to listen and dissect, that I find it impossible to be able to write. How could I? Nothing I say matters.

If you haven’t listened to Aesop, that’s fine, because you still can. I recommend the entire Labor Days album, as well as Float, but that’s just because I luh dat old shit. His new stuff is great as well. You may not be into hip hop music, and I think that’s fine for you, weirdo, but even you may still enjoy his work. I don’t know if you will or not, but I don’t much care, so that’s where that part ends.

I wonder how many times Aesop has gotten writer’s block? I doubt he ever could get that deep into nothingness, rather, he probably has writer’s floods; always having so many ideas-per-minute, that I can’t imagine he would ever have a moment’s peace inside his mind. I wonder what it would sound like in there, or what a scan of his brain would look like. I remember that movie 8 Mile, which I am in no way admitting to having viewed, where Eminem is talking about the song “just coming to him” or something like that, and basically just naturally forming in his mind, and that seems like a very very mild version of what happens to Aesop. But with considerably more talent. Like Little League vs the MLB, except I hate Eminem.

That’s not to say Eminem hasn’t written some funny and clever punchlines, but I did drugs too, before, so… bravo, Eminem. I don’t do drugs, and I stay making people laugh.

I wish I could make someone laugh right now. Perhaps my writer’s block is due to the fact that my kids are back in school now, and I feel like I have no purpose. Today is the worst day to feel that way, considering how much shit I have to do, but “writing” was also on that list of shit to do, and we’ve seen how well that turned out. I’ve just bitched about how good of a writer Aesop is, and how good he probably smells. I still have to bake a fucking cake, and make turkey meatballs, and pick up Sonny’s glasses (which I was supposed to do yesterday, but have since forgotten about 4 times), pick up Dot from school and go to an appointment, which we have to rush through, to get to her second appointment, which takes place inside the house. I mean, counseling has to be in a comfortable setting, and already being at home is nice for when the counselor leaves, because then I have to get back into doing way more shit. There’s always more shit to do. Forever.

I did a professional dye job of 3 colors on Dot’s hair (’twas slick as fuuuuuck), gave Sonny a tight fade, cut my own hair, and surrendered a bunch of my old awesome clothes (that Dot thinks are cool all of a sudden), just in time for the 4-day weekend that will make me feel like I did all of that shit for nothing. Because here’s something I never understood: the whole “school-starts-before-labor-day-but-then-there’s-an-immediate-long-weekend-to-get-your-kids-back-into-the-swing-of-being-lazy” thing. I mean, start it after labor day.

There. I figured it out.

And, since I know there are some of you saying “Well that’s too late,” I say to you this: I am a proponent for year-round schooling, and think it’s ridiculous and counterproductive to get a break for such a long period of time, especially one which is completely unrealistic to the “real world” (whatever that is). People have to work at a company for many years (TOO many!), and that is, if they ever earn 15 weeks (plus holidays) off! If kids aren’t in school, they need to be doing something sustainable, like farming or gardening or fishing or carpentry or electrical work or mechanics of some kind… just like an adult. My two cents, which is coincidentally how much I got paid for all that cosmetology work I did on our hair.

It makes me sad to not be able to give you something worth reading this week. But then I start thinking about all the stuff I’m supposed to be remembering, and I stop feeling bad. It reminds me of that scene from movies, where the sleeping guard is like “wha-? oh shit” and jumps up to do his fuckin job. That’s what my brain does. The part where it’s “sleeping” is the feelings, and my brain just needs to wake the fuck up and get back to work. Maybe next week, I’ll care more about you, than I do about focusing on the unattainable goal of not forgetting any of the eleventy-billion things I am expected to remember, whilst micromanaging the individuals and collective family life.

But who knows. It’ll be a surprise for us all! See you then!

-jg

 

The Indignant Chef

I spent this past week visiting with family from out-of-state, and I had an interesting interaction with my mom, while preparing food for the horde.

She was making a rather “involved” dish, that wasn’t necessarily complicated, but included many steps, and ingredients you probably didn’t just have laying around (unless you did, then, whatever). In short, it was more time consuming than I would have been happy with, but I was merely a bystander, so I didn’t actually have to do any of the work.

Despite that fact, I still found myself getting frustrated while I watched her neatly dice every veggie, and patiently mince the garlic and cilantro (with a filet knife), and expertly blend the fresh limes and herbs and oils, and the whole thing was orchestrated with such a calm demeanor! It made me want to run screaming, because I would never be able to do that.

Matt was laughing, as I watched, horrified. “Are you really her mother?” He asked my mom, obviously recalling all of the times I have made him question whether or not it was a good idea for me to have sharp knives.

When I cook, everything is a weapon, and I’m always ready to use one on whoever wants to “help” that day. I don’t mean to be a dick about it, but I just can’t use your help, because it’s actually more work. And no, I don’t have time to relax, or stop shaking, or blink, or any of that. I have to do multiple moves at once, and they’re all taking too long. I never want anyone’s help. I tell my kids they can watch, but then when they stand by the counter, I tell them to get away, because the stove has a potential blast radius of 12 feet whenever I’m using it, and there are rogue oil droplets flying everywhere, or bubbling starchy water is popping off, or meat is sizzling, or I’m just tired of listening to questions while I’m clearly working shit out in my head (not always to solution).

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a great cook. I can make anyone like anything, I’m certain of it. I used to make some fatty delicious meals that would have you in a coma, but since I’ve started caring about how food affects my family, I have dialed it back. Fried chicken is not off the table completely, but I use canola for the oil, whole wheat flour, skim milk, and boneless skinless chicken breast. I don’t know how to make it any healthier than that, without eliminating it altogether, which I don’t want to do.

I’ve always cooked for people, and sometimes I even enjoy it. The process, however, is not pretty. I fuck up a lot, and I correct it, or at the very least, make it palatable. If all else fails, I make a sauce or a dip that can save the day. I rarely go beyond the point of no return, when it comes to preparing food. That’s not to say it has never happened, but I can’t recall any examples off the top of my head. I think it would take a lot for that to happen, but I get close sometimes. I flirt with disaster, and riff a lot, which is a big no-no when you’re cooking multiple things at once. If I tried to bake something, forget it.

Hey, did you know that potatoes will never ever be done at the same time as your other food? Did you also know that potatoes are my favorite food, and I’ve prepared them over 3,000 times? No matter how many times I give them a go, no matter how early I start them, I will never be confident that we will be able to eat them with the protein and veg at dinner time. The more you motherfucking know.

My family is always telling me “You could go on one of those cooking competition shows, and win!” Which, of course, is not true. I don’t cook well under pressure, and I would be swearing so much, they couldn’t use any of the footage. Plus, as good as I am at cooking, I don’t think I can just replicate a dish on command. I make what I want to make, and sometimes it changes form during the cooking process, but what is the real difference between Fish Fillet With Lime Rice, and Fish Tacos with Lime Rice? I’ll tell you the difference: I fucked up the fillets, and ended up shredding the fish with spices, and it became clear that my Mexican heritage was fed up with not having tacos. I always have fresh corn tortillas in my kitchen, so whatever I fuck up, I just make into a taco. If you said “I want This Meal, cooked This Way” I wouldn’t be able to help you. You’d probably get a taco.

My mom has infinite patience. That’s probably why she makes gourmet stuff, and I mostly live on Success Rice. (Shout-out to Success Rice!) I made Fair Food Night once, which was more of a nightmare than it seems like. It didn’t taste good enough to make it worth it, and I beat myself up (mentally, don’t worry, that’s the good kind) in the middle of the night, thinking about the heart attacks my son will have in 30 years. I don’t cook that shit anymore. That was a bad idea, and I owned up to it immediately. My kids still mention it to this day, but when they talk about it, they say the food was good. They also think Fried Chicken and Waffles is my signature dish, and has been named as the Death Row Meal in our house. I don’t know how we aren’t dead already.

If my kids made their own meal plans, I don’t know how we would survive, honestly. I asked them to each name three things they wanted for dinner this week, and the first thing Sonny said was Chicken and Waffles, followed by Baked Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto. I told him I wanted him to live, so he said “Well, are stuffed peppers going to kill me, or can I eat those?” I think he was mad when I said “I’ll stuff them with turkey sausage,” because he rolled his eyes at me, growled, and said “Nevermind!”

I ended up getting the ingredients for stuffed peppers, mostly because the peppers were on hella sale, and I found some nice meaty ones. I like to eat the males. Did you know, that if the pepper has three knobs on the bottom, it’s a male, and if it has four knobs, it’s a female? Sometimes, there are little baby peppers growing inside of the females. Sonny likes to eat those. Hopefully someone doesn’t tell me they’re poisonous. *Looks up whether they’re poisonous* (they’re not). The turkey sausage only came in the Hot Italian variety, so I said what the hey; I’m part Hot Italian. I can make that work out, I’m sure, right? There’s a chance I might end up eating beer cheese and Triscuit for dinner, but nobody is going to tell me I can’t!

I think, when people are shopping, they end up getting more crap than they need, because sales tell you that you’re going to save money that way. But really, I mean, maybe I don’t want to spend $10 on a “deal” just because it’s a great value, and I just want to spend $3 instead. I just saved $7 by sticking with my original plan, and telling you to go fuck yourself.

That’s not to say I don’t get suckered in once in awhile. It’s usually with meat, because I am always looking for a reason to “use that steak before it goes bad” and if I buy it in bulk, that’s more that I get to eat, in the same amount of time. Some people say that’s gullible, but joke’s on you, because I’d eat a full protein diet if I could, and I’m still iron and protein deficient. (I’m also calcium deficient, and should very much be eating a ton of ice cream.)

I think it’s time I really let Sonny and Dot get hands-on with dinner, and watch how easily they do the work. Maybe they will inherit my assholish nature in the kitchen, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll take after Matt. He usually skips around the kitchen, and does a lot of double-takes, and that shuffle that makes you look like you’re wearing an invisible blindfold. But he does try to help. He is almost a great sous chef, and in my kitchen, that’s the scariest job. “Work closely with me, among my unpredictable anger, near the fire and sharpened blades!”

Maybe I’ll just stick with the old tried and true: “It would take less time for me to do it myself, than to teach you how to do it.” That’s my terrible parenting at work. I don’t normally shit on own parenting, but that’s the one that is always there. I never have the patience to teach them to cook, because they always approach me when I’m keeping up with cook times of like 4 different things.

I could just train myself to be less anxious, like my mom, but I know myself, and that looked really weird to me. More power to her (she is the queen of patience, unless she’s driving) but I don’t think I would get anything done, that way. Except maybe a taco.

-jg