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Retirement Ain’t Just for the Birds!

Since I retired a few weeks ago, life as an unmarried housewife has been, well, delightful! For starters, I have a savage tan. It brings me back to the days I used to pump gas as a dock master (er, “master” might be a stretch) and wear my royal blue Body Glove bathing suit on the beach without one drop of sunscreen in the 80s all day. My freckles speak to that, and I think I might even be growing some more. Punky Brewster is back! The wan and sallow glow I had in summers’ past from my overhead cubicle light is now gone. I’m more Baywatch than Dilbert–well, minus the you knows on Pam Anderson.

Okay, so what else has changed? Oh, I realized I have no clothes. I used to get dressed for work in the morning and put on my Mary Tyler Moore knee length Talbot’s skirt (super hot), a blouse, pearls, and some flats. Now, that look doesn’t quite jam when flagging down the ice cream truck on the beach or buying beach chairs and umbrellas at Christmas Tree Shop.

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Before Retirement
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After Retirement

Speaking of jam…I really might try to bring back Jams. Remember those? Those like flowered longer shorts from 1986 that look more like a man’s Panama Jack bathing suit than something any eighth grade girl would EVER wear now (well, yes, because they actually COVERED me, unlike the midriffs and short-shorts girls wear now). Jams? Might not be so hot on Tic Tock. And it’s all about the likes. Am I right? I could try to bust into a midriff now, but probs not the best idea when picking up the kids from camp. Wait, did I say pick up the kids from camp? Bwahah! What camp? No such thing! It’s back to Up my Grill camp here at Al’s, just like the good old days when the kids were toddlers, and they stayed in their pajamas till noon (okay, more like four), and I was the entertainment.

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Jams

 

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Dinner outfit=Same as breakfast outfit.

 

Okay, so what else has happened in retirement, besides the obvious attrition of my bank account, and not just from Roblox purchases? Well, I’ve enjoyed the crap out of my days. And the days go a heck of a lot faster when I’m not sniffing white out. Wait, what? I never did that. But, it’s been so nice spending time with my family and friends. I’ve also taken up gardening and am sewing a lot. Ha! Kidding. Come on now. Have we met? I still enjoy a cocktail at 3 and pretending I’m in St. Barth’s drinking rose while sitting on my backyard swing set. It’s almost the same thing, especially when I call the dogs in French.

So! So far, so good! I think I might ride this out a bit longer. Retirement is not for the birds. It might just be for me!

 

 

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Dear Parents, The yard doesn’t cut it anymore

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“I don’t want to invite anyone to come over to play in our backyard,” my daughter said.
“Why not?” I asked, ready to lob out the invite.
“Because it’s boring,” she said. “We have nothing to do here. I’d rather go somewhere else.”
This hurt.
Of course, she’s referring to the fact that we don’t have a pool or a large trampoline (in fact, we do have a smaller one, and we even have a cool swing set!). But, nowadays, unless you have all the gadgets, gizmos and a virtual Disneyland resort, your backyard is, well, a snooze fest. Dull, dismal and…boring.

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Now I know this is a thing with this new generation, and I’m getting in my old lady whicker rocker now and sipping on an Arnold Palmer when I say this, but remember the days of yore when we had like a tree and some acorns to play with in the backyard? Maybe just a crappy sandbox, too?

Well, I do.

I recall playing with imaginary friends, or making a “house” over the vent above our basement with rocks and grass. The neighbors would come, and we’d play kick the can till the sun went down, or we’d make forts with dirt and mud.

There was no zip line, no pool, no hot tub, nothing. Sometimes, my neighbor would have her parents’ camper out back, and we’d move into that for the weekend, tape recording ourselves doing interviews in different voices on an old-school tape recorder. We’d eat rolls of Now & Laters and Jolly Ranchers, play Mad Libs, or MASH. We’d trade stickers or play Chinese jump rope, share the one barbie doll we had between us, creating different hairstyles.

Now, I have 50 barbies and a barbie camper for my child. And an iPad, two dogs, bikes, and a swing set. But it’s boring here? I’m not sure how to keep up. Last year, we were able to join the pool. Now, we have to stay home to be safe.

“Want to run through the sprinkler?!” I ask, thinking this might be a solution. Her look says it all. This, too, is boring and “cold.”

So, we can tell them not to be spoiled, to appreciate what they have, or the “When I was young, I played with acorns,” stories, but it doesn’t seem to resonate. For now, I wonder, what I can BUY to make my yard more “fun?” This is just sad.

You can’t buy an imagination or a sense of wonder. 

Do you think our kids will look back when they’re older and say, “Remember that time I got Robucks, and we sat next to each other on our iPads buying Adopt Me pets or Fortnite skins?”

I don’t know. They might.

But, for now, I’ll sit in my boring backyard and wait to see!

 

 

 

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As the School Admins Consider Next Year…

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My day unofficially starts at 5:30 when, half-asleep, I hobble down the stairs carrying one dog in one hand, while the other is nipping at my bare feet to take them outside. I then go upstairs and try to get some sleep for another hour or so until my youngest child rises at 7.

“Do we have school today?” she asks, leaping to get dressed.
“Yep,” I say. “But let me get some coffee first.”
I make the coffee, log into my work email, log into my personal email to see if the kids have mandatory Zoom meetings, and then…BEGIN.

Over the course of the next five hours, I have an anxious stomach, combined with a feeling of harried frenzy and drowning.

“How do you spell Memorial Day?” my daughter inquires. I’m in the middle of typing out a case statement for my job.
“Huh?” I say, still focused and typing on my laptop.
“How do you spell–”
“I don’t know, honey,” I snap. “Ask Siri.”

Then the guilt seeps in.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Can you just hold on for a few minutes while I finish this?”
She agrees and stares at me while I finish typing. But I’m nowhere near done with work. I have to pause to help her with her assignments, as she can’t do them herself at age 7, but I’m half-present. One half of my brain is concerned that I have to finish work for my job, and the other half is trying to be a good mother and teacher with patience

This conversation repeats itself about five more times until 1:00 p.m.

In the interim, my son is on my other laptop (since I was never given that promised Chromebook we were supposed to get) wailing about how “stupid” this all is and yelling, “It’s too much! I need help.” I go to him to help him understand a passage, which, truthfully, I have to reread about two times myself, because I don’t even understand it.

My body is now a raw nerve, an axon without myelin sheath. I am the definition of stress.

By 1:30,  I realize no one has really eaten much, including myself. Well, there was the Oreo ice cream she fed herself, and some cereal, but he denied any food until now. So now I have to make meals. Sh*t, I haven’t gone to the grocery store other than to get a few items here and there, and I think we have, like, nothing.

It’s now 2 p.m., and I continue to do work for my job, all the while wondering how I can entertain the children. They can’t be on their devices all afternoon, because that would be bad parenting. And, they can’t really play with any friends in the neighborhood, because of the pandemic.

So, I am stuck.

I let them play on their ipads for a bit and then tell them they have to play outside in the back, or that I will pay my son to entertain my daughter until I finish work.

This is how every day goes until 5. I just try to get through it, and then it happens again the next day.

I write this today, because conversations are swirling back and forth on text between me and some mothers as to the plans for school next year. There are ideas of: (1) going back half the week, an “A” group and a “B” group, and, (2) continuing to homeschool.

How about (3)–something else, because neither one of those works for me, or for any full-time, single parent.

I realize this is unprecedented, and no one knows what to do at this point in time, and the school administration is trying to factor in everyone’s needs and wants. I just hope mothers and fathers in my situation are considered. It is not possible to continue in this way. Something has to give, and right now, it’s just me. 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Summer? Now what?

Memorial Day is upon us, and, so too, a surge in anxiety for many Cape Codders. Oh, wait, but we’ve already been anxious since February with COVID. So, just HOW anxious are we now? On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being, like, in a straight jacket, where are you? I’d say I’m about a solid 5 today, which actually isn’t that bad, considering.

What does Memorial Day weekend mean here? Well, first off, there is a freaking long line at the Starbucks drive-through. Last week, I attempted to wait in it, the rear of my Subaru sticking out into the middle of the street, and then I thought I had better ways to spend the next 30 minutes. So I drove to a Dunkin Donuts. But guess what happened there? There was an even longer line! So, I drove to another one. And a long line there too! You following? Bottom line: I can’t get a cup o’ joe even if I try in the summer.

The beaches are opening up, and apparently only at half-capacity. Guess what else is at half-capacity? My tolerance! So I’m bringing a broom with me to the beach, and if you come close, ya’ done–swept away, literally.

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My beach tool

Memorial Day also marks the beginning of SUMMER! But, wait, my kids have been on summer break (aside from my “homeschooling”) for months now…so, nothing new there. Given social distancing, I figured we might not be able to go to the pool, so I looked into buying an above ground pool, thinking it’d be more affordable than installing an in ground (even if a bit trashy looking). But, it’s still almost $20K! Yeah, kids? Put one foot in this pot of water, one in the other. That’s your pool. Stay cool.

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The Pool

When I was little, I almost drowned choking on a pretzel rod. I was in over my head, and it went down my air pipe, and I remember looking out at my family as I sunk. (Wait, that’s a whole different story, but I wanted to share because it seemed opportune. Also, don’t eat pretzel rods in the water. Just saying.)

Memorial Day also means I can wear white. That’s good, because I have not yet worn my white sweatpants, just the black and grey ones. This will be fancy.

I also won’t have to wear socks anymore, now that it’s flip flop season, so I can just toss this bag of unmatched socks that’s been waiting for me!

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Covered in socks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Brand New Day #quarantined

It’s only 10:00 a.m. and I’ve gotten, “I’m bored” already. I also said something I never thought I’d say, including, “Want to do something fun? Here, take the vacuum, and suck up all the crumbs that are under the couch cushions!” I mean, I think it’s fun? And, honestly, I had a decent time doing it, but she didn’t think it was amusing. My house is actually getting very clean and organized. Oh, except for when I spilled the entire pot of coffee on the floor because I was busy reading a text message.

The two worst parts about the spill: wasting coffee that is in limited supply in my house (only bought three bags while hoarding groceries in the market), and using up some paper towels. I do have to say, Bounty got it right–it does really absorb. Props to them! I mean, I’m being conservative in my usage of these paper products (fold the toilet paper, guys, and only one square at a time), because just one paper towel was able to soak up the entire pot.

I’m creating an agenda for the day, and it looks something like this:

  1. Go outside in the yard.

That’s where I stopped. I can’t really think of anything else to do.

I’ve become somewhat of a Forest Ranger, as one of our activities is taking the wagon around the neighborhood and collecting sticks and dry wood for a fire in the fire pit. It’s sort of like a low-budget lawn clean-up for my neighbors. I mean, honestly? I might have to start leaving invoices surreptitiously in their mailboxes, ‘ya know, just to get some extra coin when times are tight. That will go over well at the block party this summer. If there is one.

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“Hey, guys, need a lawn clean-up?”

Here are a couple more highlights from today (oh, and remember, it’s only 10, so today has barely started):

  1. I got yelled at by my son for stockpiling the freezer, because it flattened out the ice cream sandwiches (i.e. breakfast)
  2. Our dwarf frog, Gill, has gone missing. I am not sure if Pearl, the goldfish, ate him because she too is hoarding food, or if he jumped out. It’s kinda grim looking for a frog skeleton
  3. I am wearing another smoke-show of an outfit: pink fuzzy Job Lot pants (who knew JL had such great fashion choices?), Ugg boots (for going back and forth between inside and outside regularly), a scrunchie (guys, they are back in style. No, they are), and eye concealer. I might do a videocast, but I’m worried too many men will start stalking me. I mean, could happen in this gear.

Speaking of men, it’s hard to be a single mom during the quarantine, because there is one of me and two of them, and I don’t have another adult around to talk to. Please comment though and tell me if I’m wrong. Like, are you all going nuts with your partners? Wait, I’m having a pity party right now. Hold, please.

The kids have FaceTimed their friends, and speaking of parties, I do have a #Zoom party later with some friends, so that should be fun! Right around pour time…Another good idea for everyone to connect.

Well, enjoy your day. I know I’ll continue to enjoy mine! #stayhome