Follow

Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Join Facebook Group
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on GoodReads
  • Follow on Google+
Newsletter
Newsletter
Category: humor

When Vacation Should've Been Staycation...

Ahh, holiday weekends: those bastions of escapism we all so crave. And all too often live to regret…

The idea was a peaceful weekend at a relative’s lake house. We brought a friend and her kids along who needed to get away and chill even more than we did. Buwith the holiday weekend now past, I desperately need to recover from my non-restful getaway.

In the interest of disclosure, I should admit that I’m not a lake person. The idea of stagnant water teeming with things like poisonous snakes and trash and the fuel discards from tens of thousands of boats and jet skis (oh, and an entire valley of rotten trees and lord knows what else that might lurk beneath one’s floating body, as this is a lake created from flooding a large tract of land) doesn’t make me too thrilled. The mushy gushy unidentified bottom, the clay-rusted water that stains your swimsuit, the decomposing leaves on the top, and other stench and detritus along the lake’s shorelines just do not appeal to me. Give me the wash of crystal blue ocean waves, the soothing sound of seagulls, the brilliant twinkle of sun reflecting off sugared sand beaches any day.

My sister-in-law used to refer to the lake house as Cape Fear. As in, “Oh, no! You’re going to Cape Fear again?” She knew how not-keen I was for the aforementioned reasons. Throw in my small children who needed to be watched like hawks in order to avoid drowning, being flung from a pounding motor boat, poisonous snakes and spiders, ground wasps, ticks, sunburn, and about a hundred other safety hazards, and being lake-bound meant being stress-bound for me. The absence of air conditioning in sweltering heat along with other missing accoutrements of modernity like a dishwasher didn’t add much to the charm. To top it off, the nearest town—a limited escape hatch–is a bit, well, cheesy. The kind of place where they have a “Junque Shoppe” and another that sells “Biskits.” As the fourth grade spelling bee champ, I am rarely amused by deliberately freakish misspellings of common words, even if to be cutesy.

But as my brood has gotten older, the trip has become a bit easier. Enough so that while I still contend it’s pretty much camping with a roof (and I do loathe camping)–what with the massive amounts of foodstuffs, linens and other items you have to lug along for even a few days–it’s not quite as hazard-filled. And since I’ve not been away anywhere just to relax in easily a year, our getaway sounded almost fun. Almost.

We arrived later than planned after a harried Saturday morning of packing, topped off with last-minute inclusion of every blanket and spare pillow we owned (which I would have to wash upon our return). My bug-averse daughter discovered the room in which she’d be sleeping was infested with hundreds of jumbo ants, whose eradication took top priority.

Meanwhile, I’d unleashed the dogs to run free, to hear only moments later the piercing yelps of pain from our Labrador echo hauntingly across the water: a neighbor’s dog had raced onto the property and promptly latched onto her hind quarter with a very powerful and unrelenting jaw, leaving her bleeding and endangering my daughter who tried to break up the melee. Bizarrely, the owner of the dog (which had a rap sheet of previous bites) chose to scream at us rather than apologize profusely, as protocol would dictate.

Killer Dog
Killer Dog

After spending the first hour trying to track down a veterinarian that actually worked on a holiday weekend (with limited cell phone service, natch), I then had to divert to the lovely vet’s to have our dog treated.

Meanwhile, a neighbor across the cove had decided to destroy the serenity with a gas-powered leaf blower, then to set fire to five towering mounds of wet leaves and branches that smoldered for several hours, filling the cove with blinding smoke and leaving everyone choking in its wake. This despite my husband’s entreaties to cease the burning, what with all of the fumes wafting our direction.

The lake was overrun with other fun-seekers, churning up the normally calm waters to hurricane proportions. Not one inclined toward seasickness, I felt green in the gills as the boat towed our tubing kids in treacherous currents. Sure I could’ve stayed on shore, but felt the need to actually witness what I figured were the inevitable tubing-related head injuries that would result from the foray into fierce waters. Call me crazy, but I hate the idea of naively waiting back at the house, only to have someone come racing in to tell me we need to find emergency medical help.

Now THAT'S a mean looking dog

By days end an aged and rotting chair in which I was lounging collapsed, and I sweated to near-fainting proportions while cooking dinner for 13 in the stifling air of the a/c-free kitchen, my R&R a mere specter of its former potential.

Back home now, I’m tackling the nearly twenty loads of lake-related laundry, remnants of my relaxing escape from life’s drudgeries. I might be done washing by my next vacation. That would be the one sailing in the Keys, right where several million gallons of oil and toxic solvents are wending their way. So much for that relaxing vacation , eh?

Help! I've Forgotten and I Can't Recall!!!

Yeah, I know, sort of a lame take on the iconic 1990’s television commercial featuring an elderly gal with a medical emergency who urgently needed assistance with her feeble self. Thanks to “Life Call,” she had someone who was able to prop her up, and all was well.

So far I’m not in need of Life Call to rescue me from a frail bone-related fall, but I am in dire need of some sort of life call to save me from an increasingly enfeebled brain. They say the mind is the first to go, and my memory–which until recently I’d successfully prodded into action with a regular machine-gunning of reminder alerts on my iCal each day–has taken a day at the beach and decided it doesn’t want to return just yet, if ever.

Thus, I have placed practically my entire memory in the evidently disabled hands of my MacBook’s iCal, which it seems has aged in dog years itself and is failing in its own wretched memory to remind me of all that I can’t help but forget. Two operating systems ago, my iCal reminders worked regularly, even though I overloaded the application with unrealistic demands: most every function of my day popped up to remind me to do it, short of basic hygiene functions such as “remember to brush teeth.” So many demands that while it reliably reminded me, it also crashed constantly. So I upgraded to a new operating system and the failures became rampant. My reminders would pop up for one event, but not for the next. But I’d not remember to check my calendar to see what it was forgetting to remember. The next upgrade failed me even more. I’m a victim of the memory of both me and my fail-safe computer, failing all over the place.

Since my calendar can’t even remember to remember, I’m holding out hope they soon come out with helper dogs for failing memories.

I felt a little relieved after chatting with my friend Tana the other day on the phone while she was preparing to leave for the gym. As she was talking on speakerphone, I heard water running in the background.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to the bathroom,” she said. “I’m just filling up my water bottle.”

Well, of course any woman with good girlfriends knows that occasionally we all happen to race into the loo while on the phone—it’s a hazard of friendship. So I just laughed and told her it wouldn’t have mattered regardless. We talked for a minute more when suddenly Tana stopped.

“Oh, crap. Where’s my water bottle?” she asked.

As if defining my dilemma for my own affirmation, she did what I regularly do: forgot the simplest of things in the shortest period of time imaginable. It’s what we do best. All day long. And fight it with the meager tools at our disposal to keep us from having to purchase ear horns and walkers and resign ourselves to our dwindling age and capabilities.

The other day I suffered the hat trick of memory shortcomings. First, I lost my reading glasses in the time it took to swap out shirts. A few minutes later, I became vexed because I couldn’t find the enormous pile of tax information it had taken me an entire day to find, which I’d then put somewhere I’d know where to find it. Shortly thereafter, I needed to recall the brand of car I’d rented a few days earlier, as I wanted to be sure we didn’t consider it while shopping for a new car. I’d made a point of remembering the brand. To no avail.

And that’s the thing. I’m always putting things where I know I’ll remember them. And rarely do. I walk to a food cabinet while fixing dinner, forgetting in six short steps what I’d gone there to retrieve. I wake at 3 a.m. with brilliant ideas, but don’t want to wake completely to write them down, certain I’ll recall by dawn. Never do. Yet then I wake up in the middle of the night over mundane things, like forgetting to soak black beans for dinner, only to not be able to sleep, recalling everything I need to remember to do that I haven’t done and worry that I won’t remember to do it. I leave notes everywhere, only to not know where the notes are. I record reminders on my phone. Only to forget to listen to them later.

Maybe life’s pressing needs are actually squeezing my brains dry. Sounds like I could use a good vacation.

A conversation between me and Tana these days goes something like this:

“Did you hear about, oh, what’s her name? Long brown hair, lives up that narrow mountain road.”

“Yeah, the gal with six kids?”

“Exactly. And that dog that smells like death. Her husband played in a band when he was in college—”

“Oh, what is her name? It begins with a P, doesn’t it?”

“It rhymes with my mother’s middle name, I think.”

“What’s your mother’s middle name?”

“Amanda.”

“Nothing rhymes with Amanda. But anyhow, we’ll think of her name. But did you hear–they’re getting a divorce.”

No! I always knew he was up to no good.”

“Who? Her husband?”

“Yeah. What’s his name?”

Well, you get the idea. We have all the minutiae committed to memory but the barebones facts have evaporated from our gray matter, by some brain-fog that has settled over our memories, doomed to cloak our thinking and force us into some Sherlock Holmesian effort to recall. Our trail of deduction requires mental bloodhounds, and it seems as if our dogs have got up and went.

“Between the two of us we have a brain,” Tana said. And she’s right. Which makes me think maybe I need to simply be paired up with someone, 24/7, from here on out. Because clearly at this point two heads must be better than one.

This Little Piggy...

Yup, that's me...
Yup, that

Have you noticed the trend these days to seize upon the January price markdowns to acquire those gifts that somehow failed to show up under the tree on Christmas morning? I know I’ve contemplated it a bit….Kids, too, aren’t immune to this desire—often lobbying for that one little thing that they didn’t receive, even if they got most all they’d wished for.

This year that item is Wii Fit, which didn’t Fit into our holiday budget. All in my family got plenty of lovely gifts, though, so Wii Fit would have to wait for the coffers to be replenished.

At least that’s what I thought until, on the day after Christmas, we visited my brother-in-law’s house and my teens became captivated by their game. Normally, kids being fixated on a video game is reason enough not to purchase it. Who wants their children to be perpetually tuned out, clamoring for the controllers, spending all waking hours in pursuit of mindless video game obsession? But Wii Fit actually has a purpose: to eliminate the sedentary nature of gaming, at least to some degree.

And this piqued my interest: if it could motivate kids to work out, might it also impel slacker middle-aged moms bored with their normal exercise routine to get off their butts and exercise more? So I struck a deal with my kids: since everyone wanted it so badly, we’d split the cost and get one as a post-holiday motivator. Which seemed like a great idea, until my sister-in-law Martha exposed the ugly truth about the game: the game platform—the Wii balance board—is actually a scale. As in: the thing that I’ve been hiding in my closet for years with the notion that out of sight is out of mind and thus can’t be true. Denial thy name is Jenny.

Martha went on to tell me that not only does the balance board accurately and undeniably determine your weight (probably more so than the precise scales they use to glean poundage of each item loaded onto the Space Shuttle), but the higher your BMI (body mass index), the fatter you Wii “Mii” icon gets. Seriously. So to add insult to injury, you have a Tubby Tessa avatar staring back at you from the television screen. Can we get more humiliated? It’s like a chase-me-beat-me workout. Or maybe that hairbrush spanking for getting a D in handwriting in second grade (not that that ever happened, mind you). To me, exercise really should not be mortifying, it should be gratifying. And a public flogging was not what I signed up for.

note skinny kid, wider mother...
note skinny kid, wider mother...

So my grand plans to get on board the Wii Fit train were immediately keboshed. Yet I’d already committed to spending my own cash to help buy the damned thing, which has led to all sorts of scheming on my part to circumvent this unpleasant, uh, shall we say, side effect of the game.

Fortunately necessity is still the mother of invention, especially when it comes to truths about which we choose to remain blissfully ignorant (despite those rotten harbingers of reality that are unavoidable, such as tight jeans). And I’ve got a plan: I’m going to make one of my kids (or perhaps one of my dogs) mount the board in my stead each time I use the game in order to get set up with the dreaded “body test,” and then I will simply ignore the taunting evidence: Wii Fit telling me I’ve got the fitness stamina of a great-grandmother, for instance. I’ll just do my thing, flap my arms, hula my hips, or whatever other silly games they have that will make me actually move, and not worry about the true number of calories burned or exact fitness level.

I felt a reprieve from the guilt when I saw on Twitter a number of other women whose children had gotten Wii Fit for Christmas also trying to figure out how to outwit the scale dilemma. Clearly when evolving Wii Fit Plus into Wii Fit Plus Plus, the Nintendo engineers should consider the vanity of women world-wide and provide a way to turn off the scale temporarily, or at least, as we all do with the elliptical machine at the gym, simply lie and enter in 120 pounds when asked our weight.

Does this diminish the point to the game? Well, sort of. But can it enable me to remain cloaked in ignorance and retain some faux dignity where I so choose? You bet.

Wii Fit? No way! Wii Fat is more like it, at least if the public weigh-in is the only “weigh” to go. And in that case, this little piggy might just go wii wii wii all the way back to the gym, where I can easily lie about my weight when the exercise equipment demands an answer.