Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Worst Mom of the Day Award Goes To...

Ugh. Traffic in Southern California is a fact of life. We plan our lives around it. We discuss routes and what to do if there is a traffic accident (commonly called a CalTrans alert or just our personal recent traffic PITA), so when Saturday Night Live makes fun of us in their comedy segment called "The Californians", it is not far off.

My ex-husband moved to another high school district when he moved back into the country last October to give the kids a better choice in high schools. That means their high school is a twenty minute drive away from me. On a good day without traffic. And what day can we predict will be a good day?

The kids started high school last week, while at their dad's house for the week (we share custody, seven days on, seven days off, 50-50) which is about a twenty minute walk,  a twelve-thirteen minute ride, or a five minute drive from their house. Leaving from my house, we decided on leaving forty five minutes early on the first two days. Today, knowing that I had been dropping them off twenty minutes before their first period, I thought we might leave a bit later. We left with thirty five minutes to spare. But...

An accident closed off the two far right lanes where the 5 North and South connector roads meet up with the only freeway going East/West in our part of San Diego. People already act like boneheads when they are trying to get on either freeway or continue on to the end of the East/West freeway that we were on. So the boneheads won this morning. My temper was frayed, just as much as my tardy children's were. We yelled at each other just as we were parting ways.

You know, I have always said "I say I love you every time we part because what would we want our last words to each other be, should something happen? That's what I would want you to remember me by." Except today is was along the lines of (sarcastically) "Thanks a lot Leo!" to his yelling at me that I didn't stop where he thinks I should have to drop them off in front of their school.

What a way to start the day, right? Except...

I want to be better than this. I want to be that calm mother, who has her kids on time every day, who has the best lunches given out, that her kids are always neat as a pin, admired by their peers, and always has a loving word to say. That "mother" was not me, today.  All I can do is try harder for the rest of the day.

And say "fuck it". I'm not perfect. I can laugh at myself. Now give me my "worst Mother of the Day" award, so I can go back to trying to better myself. Maybe I need to meditate on expectations today?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Life sometimes gets in the way

Wow, it's been a while since I wrote here and actually, at 52, I'm not surprised that I forgot that I started this blog.

In case anyone wants to know, John and I have amicably split, and the divorce should be finalized sometime in September. We split having the kids 50/50 with 7 days at my place and 7 days at his. The kids are now attending a public high school, Point Loma, and have just started their school year. Leo is now a sophomore, and Teresa is now a freshmen. Making Leo 15 and Teresa 14. Yes, I know that all of you are shaking your heads and saying to yourselves "where does the time go?" and "yesterday I remember them running around naked and wee ones".

John is now living with a lovely woman named Jennifer, and in some ways, we are all family now.
The kids are adjusting just fine, and so are we.

I hope that all is going well in your part of the world and that I remember that this blog is here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

train wreck happening in the mirror

I got my hair cut last week. Since I knew I wasn't going to like a poufy do like some of the Mexican ladies like here, I asked my aunt a long time ago, "How do you say, 'Just a trim' ?" "Las Puntas, solamente". OK, that wasn't hard.

My hair dresser (who shall remain nameless as I really do wish her the best of luck in her business) speaks English. So I told her I hadn't had my hair cut since Dec. 8th, and that I need a trim of about 2 inches. Same long layers, same bangs, the works will stay the same. She said she understood. Our conversation was in English.

As she enthusiastically cut my hair, I began to realize about half way through, that she was giving me the same hair cut that she had given T when she had come in about Feb. While I greatly admired it on T (she has blonde wavy hair, I have dark brown semi-curley hair), I did not want it. Oy, this was going to be a problem-O.

She started to use a blow drier on it before she finished cutting it. Huh? Ooookaaaay. What was happening to my head. Having cut it extremely short once
(to the point of baldness & freaking out my then boyfriend) I knew that bad hair cuts grow out, so I just observed dispassionately, maybe even bemusedly, in the mirror while she wrestled with my hair (which obviously did NOT want to do what she wanted it to do). She cut, she blew dried it, she cut some more. I even thought to myself at one point, what would happen if I just told her to stop and I got up and walked away? Would it be any worse than what she was trying for? Curious to see what she was aiming for, I let it proceed. And proceed. And proceed.

It finally got to the point where I thought I would scream "STOP for heaven's sake!" when she finally. just. stopped. I had what I can only describe as a much older woman's poufy hair helmut on my head. I thanked her, paid her, tipped her and got out of there as fast as I could. ack. No pictures were taken as I did not need to be reminded of what my hair, with lots of hair product in it and lots of hair drying with lots of painful pulling on it, could look like.

I washed it the next day and was rewarded with such curley hair that you would think that I had gotten a perm (which is saying a lot). With all the wind that we have had, I ended up looking like a poodle with a over-grown puppy cut (look it up if you like).

All I can say is thank goodness for hair clips that are cute and the fact that my husband doesn't seem to bothered by what I look like. Or my kids. Or most of my boating friends who A) know that you can't have a fussy hair cut on a boat, B) since we all need wind to sail, your hair is in the wind all the time and a fussy hair cut just gets the hair in your eyes with the wind and C) knows that an abundance of hair product makes your hair dirtier faster and not fun to have to deal with when your boat does not have a shower in it (thank you, marinas for having really hot and high pressure showers!).

I have now learned my lesson- while cruising, the least fussy hair cut is the straight trim along the bottom-grow your hair out

Monday, April 23, 2012

What the H-E-double hockey sticks do we do in HSing

I have been asked by my non-homeschooling friends what we do when we homeschool, or rather, what is a typical day like for us. The kids are totally fine with me choosing what we do every day so this is how today went -

Me- (looking at clock) It's 9:30, let's do a spelling test. (spelling was words that sound alike, so it was necessary to listen to definitions)  Leo still has to do last week's written test and then we will do a written one on the current list. IF you get everything correct, then you will have tomorrow off of spelling (usually I finish the test by giving them a new spelling list).

Kids were agreeable and we were off.

We then did a lesson that I thought up myself and the kids loved. I wrote a bunch of words down that sounded alike (E.G. sit, sat, sad) and had the kids pick out 10 each. While I looked away, they said the word out loud and I wrote it down (and if I thought that it was one but I heard something else, I wrote that down, too). Then we compared lists. It helped them with diction and helped me to try to train my ear how to differentiate between similar words (something that I find I am losing and need to retrain my ear to hear correctly). Then I had them take different words, I held up my hands to cover their faces so I had to focus on their lips while they said a word and I repeated it. Again, they were working on their diction and I was working on recognizing word shapes and sharpening my lip reading skills. This is a lesson that we will do, again.

Me- (looking at clock, again) It's now 10:45, do a writing lesson while I go online and do some research.

Again, kids were agreeable and did that.

Break from noon to 1:45 PM. Lunch at 1:15 (peanut better and jelly, if you must know). John struggling with engine, trying to get it on board. John leaves boat.

Me- (looking at clock, again) Let's do a Spanish lesson, its 1:45 PM.

Our lesson covers how to get directions to places and common things you need to know while in a restaurant.

We then listened to a "Grammar Girl" (google her if you like grammar podcasts)
 on "all right, alright, all together, altogether, all ways and always" and which one was not a word.

Break from 2:15 to 3:45 for me to blog.

We will read a bit from "The Four Agreements" and discuss and then school will be over. Because we can spread it out, we can get it in without a lot of stress or laziness. Altogether, school lasted about  2 1/2 hrs. before lunch and another 30 min. after lunch and I plan on 20 min. for discussion on "The Four Agreements".

Normally, we do not take such long breaks, but normally, we do not have a cussing father trying to get an engine into an engine compartment. The breaks were to give him some breathing space as well as for me to get online and away from the cussing (in all fairness, I haven't heard a lot of cursing from him today, but that was why I wanted off the boat).

I love our relaxed homeschooling days without tears (like today). When I start Geometry next week, then I will be expecting some interesting reactions.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Life in Mexico on the boat

Life has been slow and wonderful on the boat. We talk about eating. We talk about drinking with friends. We share a lot of story-telling with new and old friends. We meet up with people that I have great curiosity of, and sometimes wonder how we could become friends, as this community is very small. If I don't know them now, I might in the future. Or I know someone who has told me about this person (which makes me realize that I need to really start being much nicer than I am, if my reputation is going to precede me like other's people has to me), or ...

We have someone on another boat that is into photography and into fashion. T is interested in learning what she can from them (reminding me of days when I lived with Marla and we talked about fashion before I even had a bit of interest in it). Again, I am reminded that we have such a diverse community.

While I am not a cat lover, it seems that I am now trying to place a cat with a good person. This is a really nice cat, and I would be remiss if I didn't admit that if circumstances were vastly different, I would be tempted to adopt it. Except for 1) my 65 lb. akita who may or may not eat cats (I definitely don't want to find out), 2) my daughter seems to always sneeze a lot

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A plea for some polite words...

The other night, we went to one of our favorite restaurants (Huanacaxtle cafe) to say "bon voyage" (literally so, twas one of the kid boats going on the "puddle jump", which the sail into the South Pacific is known as) with some friends (Convivia!). We had a large party with about 7 kids, mostly around the age of 5 yrs of age. There was one person smoking at a nearby table, so I decided to ask her to put her cigarette out. Growing up American, gives me the chutzpah to ask, while growing up with a Mexican mom (who's culture emphasizes graciousness and politeness), informed my way of asking.

"Could you please put out your cigarette? We have people in our party that are sensitive to cigarette smoke."

The reply? "I live in Mexico, so I don't have to." While I absorbed this shocking announcement and tried not to let my mouth fall open at that, she continued, "Can't you just have them sit over there?" She asked pointing to the far side of the restaurant.

Before I could tame my tongue- "Smoke doesn't know how to stay on one side of the room." Recovering myself, "I'm sorry to have bothered you."

And that in a nutshell is why I think America is having so many problems and seems to be a sinking ship. Whatever happened to the way of thinking that it is nice to be nice to each other?

Our problems (yes, I still say "our" despite the fact that I live in another country for months at a time and have dual citizenship) in the U.S. is not caused by gay people wanting the same rights at their straight married friends. Nor is it caused by atheists and agnostics wanting the separation between state and religion to be observed a little bit better. Nor is it caused by liberal bleeding hearts asking for our government to help those unfortunates that cannot seem to catch a break, despite their efforts. Nor is it the conservative hard cases that insist that there needs to be limits on our government. Nor is it because our Christian friends proselytize to us heathens. Our problems stem from our arrogant refusal to be polite anymore to each other, or to other members of the world.

While we cannot "polite" our way out of situations like 9/11, there are so many problems that can be solved by politeness. Am I turning into Ms. Manners, here? Maybe...

The image of the "ugly American" is one we all know. Clueless, dressed inappropriately, loud and demanding, Americans and non-Americans alike can laugh and say "Isn't that a funny cliche'? I'm so glad that's not true of me or anyone I know." And yet... we have all come in contact with someone like the aforementioned smoker, someone who believes that their rights are more important than anyone else's. Look through your memories of the last couple of days. Was there a moment where you politely asked someone for something and they ignored you? Responded rudely? Gestured rudely? Or was it you doing it to someone else?

My thoughts linger on this subject because up in the U.S. I become inured to the impoliteness around me. For the past 4 mos. I've been living in a place where being gracious and polite is valued. The two incidents of rudeness in that period of time have both come from... my compatriots. Both times I was startled by the abrupt and unkind attitudes behind those encounters. Now I could argue that Mexicans have been rude to me by crowding around me in line (they don't seem to have the same sense of personal space that Americans have, but is that being rude or is it being chummy?), or sometimes skipping over me when helping customers (the squeaky-spanish-speaking-wheel-gets-the-grease?) but no one can find excuses for my lovely smoker's rudeness or my next example-

While in yet another one of my favorite eateries (what can I say? I like to eat and all that walking into town has caused me to not gain any weight while eating in town), someone approached my son to tell him something. When he came back to our table, I asked him what she had said. "She asked us to keep our voices down." "Did you tell her that we're deaf?" (here I indicated to my 82 yr old father and myself). "Uh, no." O-K. Not wanting to seem rude as we were A) not leaving right away and B) guaranteed to be speaking LOUDLY again, I thought to go over and explain. To be polite, I might add (and yes I know that that is a sentence fragment but it did catch your eye on "polite", I hope).

"Hi! Did you just ask my son for us to keep our voices down?" I began.

"Actually, I told him that YOUR voice was too loud," came the steady reply with a challenge in her eye.

What? This was supposed to be my attempt to explain that we are NOT rude assholes who disregard a request. All sorts of retorts flashed through my head; clever, bitchy ones, even. I swallowed those and went for polite.

"I have hearing aids (here I pulled my hair back to show them to her) and am severely deaf and I am speaking with my profoundly deaf father." I tried to not say this with any antagonism but with the right amount of patience and nicety. Not lecturing, I reminded myself, not talking down to.

She responded with a sniff and a "Whatever."
Um. Really? Again, bitchy, mean things to say back flitted through my grey matter. Again, nicety won out.

"I'm sorry that I bothered your lunch." said NOT in a sarcastic tone, though it was killing me to do so.

One could argue, "See! What good does all that nicey nicey talk get you? IN either case, what good did your politeness get you?" Aside form this passive-aggressive post on my blog, I guess you could say that I took the high road. (going off on a tangent here- T asked me if the smoker's story was going to be my "new story" to tell everyone. When I asked her what she meant, she said, "you tell stories to get everyone to feel sorry for you!" Now if that isn't a classic example of passive-aggressive behavior on my part, I don't know what is) I didn't take in all that negativity and spew it back, thus increasing it. I maintained my little island of civility (though smaller and smaller it may seem) and not stoop to the rude person's level.

Side-note - bumped into "mean-to-deaf-people" woman at a Mexican train night later, and she apologized profusely explaining that the tensions that we were all feeling in the cruising community over some perceived slights had gotten to her that day. I find her to be a very nice person and I think my polite behavior deflated her anger and made her into a friend.

So now I look at my behavior in context to the surrounding culture. In Mexico, it is not rude to stand close to a complete stranger in line, stare at someone who is foreign looking, it is just curiosity. If you observe the way other people get a salesperson's/waiter's attention and imitate it, you won't get skipped over (much). But what does that say about the U.S., where driving down the road, people fling the bird at each other with abandon? Where smokers respond to a request for them to cease smoking, with a "for christ's sake!" Where people bump into you, then somehow give you stink-eye over it?

Today, just for today, try to emphasize the "please" in your requests. Say "thank you" with a sincere look in the other person's eye. Let someone else have the last piece or let that stranger go in front of you. Knowing that just by that small action, you may have encouraged a little more civility on the planet. You never know. We just might change the world for the better.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I ruminate on being witty...

My last post was all about how I wish I was as witty as my other blogging friends, at least that was my conscious self speaking. But somehow my ego/unconscious decided that was not true and this blog post appeared, fully formed, in my head. At 2 Friggin 30 in the morning. And would not leave me alone until about 3:30 in the freakin' morning. GAH! But that is what happens when you are a writer in denial (I make that sound like a drug addiction, now don't I?).

I couldn't very well crawl out of bed at 2:30 AM, which on our boat entails, crawling over my dear inert snoring husband, thus ensuring him to wake up and ask me what I was doing and where was I going? Try explaining to someone who is trying to stay asleep, that not only could I not sleep, but now I want to turn the light on in the salon to write. Somehow, I don't think the hubster would have liked that very much.

Now I DO have many blogging friends that are very funny & witty. There is Jenn Lancaster ( here ) who is so funny that she has written about 4 memoirs (Bitter is the New Black, is her 1st one) and a novel. When I read her blog, I laugh out loud, sometimes cry I am laughing so hard, and sometimes wee in my pants, I am laughing that hard. Have I ever met her? Why no, I haven't, but we have communicated by email and I feel like I know her (as does most of her fans, that's just the way she writes, it makes all of us her "girlfriends").

There is Deb Markus (here at 1 of her blogs, all of them funny) who became my friend through homeschooling circles and because she ran the most excellent magazine "Secular Homeschooling" (and here is her latest bitter homeschooling list about Rick Santorum, funny, very funny).

There is my friend Julie Tilsner ( here ) who cracks me up, because I seriously feel like her posts could have been written by someone observing me cooking. Or rather, trying to cook.

Was this a serious plea for all of my readers (all few of you!) to read my favorite other writers to prove that I sit in some pretty exalted company and that feeling intimidated by them, is understandable. (Oh, I almost forgot the person who last intimidated me with her great post on her blog, my newest friend, Molly Forbes Doolittle read this post to Ben's poem which is the best humourous poem I have read recently) Why yes, who do you ask? (and yet another writing friend is the poetess, Millicent Borges Accardi here at which is just more proof that if I can't be witty because of intimidation of my funny friends, I also feel intimidated by my extremely talented poet-y friend, who I grew up with. And yes, I know "poet-y" isn't really a word).

Having written all of the above as a prelude to my post about my stressful day yesterday (yes, you could be excused from the rest of your blog if you chose to read and get lost in those other blogs... wait a minute! No, you have to read the rest of what I have to say)

Yesterday, I lost my dad. Not as in "my dad passed away, isn't that sad?" but in a "geezus, how the hell did I drop my 82 yr old father off at the airport and my cousin is at the other end asking me where my dad is?" kind of way.

I took my dad to the airport, here in Pto Vallarta, and could barely get him on the plane, despite the fact that we arrive 2 hrs and 40 min. prior to departure. What kind of daughter am I, anyway? The kind that thought, "he has a puppy, how would he get on the plane with her?" and then somehow screwed that up-kind. I researched the website, and many others searching if he could travel with her in the cabin (& not in the cargo hold). By all answers, it should have been a resounding "yes"! But getting there, we were told (by a very nice but unresponsive Alicia at Volaris Air) that she could only be in the cargo hold in a hard carrier. Which we were not in the possession of. Nor were we able to follow her simple directions (walk from the airport to Comercial, its only a long block away {more like 1/2 MILE}) and I did tell her I was not going to make my 82 yr old father walk over there, only to miss his flight. She told me I had a bit more than an hour to get it done. Whereupon, my poor husband ran out to the truck, drove over to Comercial, could not find anything but dog houses, then in desperation drove to Wal-Mart (yes, against our religion but yesterday it saved the day) where there was only one size, a bit too small for her, but dammit, that was what we were going to buy. He got back with 15 min. to spare, we checked her in and my dad then needed to get to his gate.

We got some food for him, made him eat as quickly as he could (he is after all, diabetic, and needs to eat) and then got him to security check (which seems weird that I have to explain to my kids that we all used to be able to walk up to departure and keep our loved ones company until they actually were walking onto the plane, oh pre-9/11 was easy now, wasn't it?). Whereupon, all seemed to fall apart. He was standing in line (we walked as far as we could with him), and he was being directed by the TSA guy to where he should go, when a pushy couple just tried to shove him out of the way (which was funny considering he towered over them and could have pushed back & really knocked them over). I watched in dismay, as he dropped his passport, his visa and the dog's health certificate about 3 times while people shoved him around. We watched in a bit of a horror over his being made to go through the metal detector three times while he had to remove 1st his belt, then his change, and then his glasses (really, tsa guy? You are going to make an 82 yr old do all that? Don't you have any ablility to discern whether he is a terrorist by looking at him?) He couldn't hear what the TSA guy was saying and thus further delayed the people behind him, making them ruder! Now I was thinking, why didn't I just spring for another ticket and fly home with him? What else could happen to him? I watched, helpless and increasingly angry and bitter, that people don't seem to be able to help an older, deaf man and help him get through the process of security.

Then late at night (10:30 PM my time in Mexico) I get online to check on my dad and see text/emails from my cousin Yolanda's phone saying that my dad was not there on her end. Wha? Crap, I'm officially now the worst daughter ever, in my mind, because I am now convinced that A) he missed his flight or B) was sent by cab to the wrong border crossing with a lot of luggage and a puppy that jumps on everyone in sight. GAH! While that proved to be incorrect on my part (his flight was delayed and going through the border crossing on SAt. proved to be a longer ordeal than on other days during the week, which we had not accounted for), I was frantic and called back to the U.S. to find out what happened to him (which btw we in PV area are 2 or 3 hrs ahead of San Diego time and I should have taken THAT in account... I thought it was the same time back there and was apoplectic that maybe it was that late for my dad and he was somewhere without the possibility of sleeping somewhere comfortable). My cousin Yolanda is a saint, because she did get him a few min. after her last email to me asking where he was, and took him to her house to sleep and be comfortable and fed. What a great cousin I have, and I really shouldn't have stressed out over it. After all, I need to take the advice that I gave my dad that afternoon, when I said, "Why worry about it? It won't make it go away, and life is too short to worry about what we have no control over".

No control, indeed. sighing