Friday, April 27, 2012

10 Random Things You Do that I Despise

If you've known me for awhile, you know I occasionally receive visits from the Funkapotomus. Recently, however, his brother, Grumpapotumus, has been in town. I'm not sure which is worse. Those who spend considerable time with me would probably say Brother Grump is the less desirable of the two since he tends to share his bad attitude, whereas the Funk prefers one-on-one visits. Personally, I'm not a fan of either the Funk or the Grump, but they both might be preferable to their distant cousin:
The Pissedoffapotomus.

Anger really isn't my thing. I get irritated when no one helps me around the house, but generally I'm either sad or happy. Very little in between. One day last week, however, everything seemed to tick me off. I decided that rather than fight it, I would embrace the Pissedoffapotomus and enjoy being angry for a change. In keeping with the "10 Random Thoughts" theme of my last post, here are:

10 Random Things People Do or Say that Tick Me Off

  1. Tell me you're wonderful, accomplished, and popular.
  2. Think the rules don't apply to you.
  3. Put me in charge of a project and then tell me how to get it done.
  4. Put me on a guilt trip. 
  5. Offer "constructive" criticism I didn't ask for (and you're not my parents or my boss).
  6. Suggest I relax, chill out, or simmer down.
  7. Promise you'll take care of something and then don't.
  8. Have a response for everything everyone says regardless of whether you have a clue what you're talking about.
  9. Disagree about the name of the neighbor's dog (or something else of absolutely no consequence) and actually turn it into an argument.
  10. Never have anything good to say about anyone or anything.
So there you have it. If you have said or done any of the above, chances are you've ticked me off. But no worries. I spend almost no time at all hanging out with the Grudgeapotomus.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Debunking a (Sub)Urban Myth*

I am writing at the dining room table because my husband had an office created for himself during our recent renovations even though I'm the one who works at home as the sun floods my living room. My eyes are drawn to the beautiful bay windows which reveal blooming azaleas, springtime in all its greenery, and a solid year's worth of grime. I suppose this is why spring is deserving of its own special cleaning, leaving summer, fall and winter in the dust. Literally. Personally, I've never been a fan. Of cleaning. During any season.

10 Random Thoughts About Cleaning:
  1. If no one can see it, it isn't really there. This means washing your walls, cleaning behind your refrigerator, and dusting the top shelf of a 6+ foot tall bookcase are completely unnecessary.
  2. When those dirty things you can see begin to bother you, invite guests to your home. This will provide much needed motivation.
  3. If you prefer to just avoid cleaning at all costs, only invite guests to your home who don't give a damn how dirty it is. Unfortunately, this leaves out my sister and brother-in-law.
  4. If you have no friends never have guests, I recommend waiting to clean until the children leave for college, otherwise it will just get dirty again. In like an hour.
  5. Speaking of children, where their bedrooms are concerned, it is best to wait until conditions are intolerable before you suggest request demand they clean it. Then, you can justify a complete and total mom meltdown, threatening, "If these rooms are not cleaned up immediately heads will roll..." Or even worse, "There will be no video game playing for the rest of the week."
  6. Intolerable can be identified by mysterious odors, living things that are not your child or a pet, and green, growing things that are not potted plants.
  7. Guilt is also an exceptionally effective technique when trying to solicit help around the house. When a simple cleaning request is denied, try this response: "That's fine, don't worry about it. I'll take care of it right after I make your lunch, wash your clothes, and pay the bills for the house you live in for free. That's my job." Tears are a definite plus.
  8. When you really don't want to clean, consider that cleaning is about taking pride in your home and the Bible says pride is a bad thing.
  9. Have you ever noticed that dust bunnies, like real bunnies, scoot away if approached too quickly? This means they should be left alone. 
  10. Research has shown that obsession with cleanliness is negatively affecting our immune systems. To improve health, I recommend living in harmony with dirt.
Finally, I think someone needs to have a talk with the music teacher at our elementary school. Abby tells me she divides the class into "parents" and children, and then has them do some silly routine where they chant back and forth to each other:
Parents: Lazy slob, lazy slob
Kids: Cleaning is a parent's job and I am not a lazy slob.
I really need someone in authority teaching my child that cleaning is a parent's job. These are my freakin' tax dollars at work...

*Thanks to Linda DeCowsky for recommending the topic and the title of this post.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One is Silver and the Other's Gold

It's just a matter of time...
I've been thinking about old friends lately. Not chronologically old friends, but friends I've known for a long time. Friends have been a recurring theme on my blog since day one. I guess as I get older I realize just how much they matter. How much they bring to our lives without expecting anything but friendship in return. None of that feeding, cleaning, laundering, and disciplining that our kids, and even spouses, seem to think they deserve.

While the friends whom I see on a regular basis form the innermost ring in my circle of friendship, old friends are at the core. It's those friends who "knew you when," who taught you what it means to have a friend and more importantly, what it takes to be a friend. I confess there were (and still are) times that I failed miserably in being a friend. I took much more than I gave. I was even more self-absorbed than I am now. I was moody (my current friends should thank God for pharmaceuticals). But, the worst thing I did was to allow friendships to slip away.

Last week I had the joy of seeing Amy, one of those "old friends" from college who hasn't slipped away. Even though we hadn't seen each other since her wedding several years ago, being together again was like slipping on your favorite pair of broken-in, comfortable jeans. No pretense, no awkward reuniting moment. Heck, it didn't even occur to me that I should have cleaned before she arrived. Possibly the only disappointment in our reunion was that she forgot to tell me I don't look a day older than when she saw me last, and that I'm every bit as cute as I was in college. Before Amy's next visit, I'll be sure to send her talking points.

I'm blessed to still have Amy's friendship, but being with her reminded me of those I've lost. Somehow I managed to alienate Krista, my best friend throughout college. Other than impersonal Christmas cards, I never hear from her. More recently, I let a friendship slip away that I cultivated during my last job, about 15 years ago. I think of Lynn often and I wish we were still in touch. In her case, I played the "I call her more than she calls me" card and decided the status of our friendship was up to her. Seems childish now that I think about it.

Yesterday, a friendship that matters a great deal to me was given new life, just when I needed it most. About seven years ago I became close to Susan, my son's first grade teacher. We spent a good amount of time together in the beginning of our friendship, but in the last couple years, I'd felt us drifting apart. We weren't making the effort required to keep in touch, given how different our lives are. As luck, fate, divine intervention would have it, I ran into Susan on Sunday and again on Tuesday, and we made plans to meet up on Wednesday. A four-plus mile walk together felt like mere minutes as we caught up on each others lives. I returned home with a few blisters, a feeling of peace, and a renewed spirit that I had been desperately needing.

People come in and out of our lives all the time, but when they leave the mark we call "friendship," we know we've been touched by angels. God bless the freakin' angels in your life!

Monday, April 16, 2012

But, I'm Barely Old Enough to Be Your Big Sister!

Recently, "getting old" was a topic of conversation with friends. My husband remarked that, in reading his alumni magazine, he found class notes from the year he graduated are no longer toward the back of the publication. They have notably moved toward the middle and he knows they will just keep inching forward as new classes of youngsters graduate. During this same conversation, our friend Lee confessed unhappily that she turns the big 5-0 this year. She's not handling it well despite the fact that she looks irritatingly amazing with the body of 30 year-old and the style of a well-off college student.

As for me, well, aside from a few thousand gray hairs and increasing discomfort on amusement park rides, there is absolutely no indication that I am getting older. Even though everyone around me is aging, I am every bit as amazing as I was 20 years ago. Or at least that's what I thought until yesterday, when I had to speak with a couple of teenagers with whom I was not previously acquainted.

There's nothing like talking with teens to make you feel old. It's not because I couldn't relate to what they were saying. It's not the fact that we don't share the same wrinkle-free skin and strong, young bodies. It's because they clearly didn't think I was awesome. Hip. Cool. All that and a bag of chips.

This is upsetting to me. See, I only recently graduated from college. In my mind, anyway. And even though I may no longer be a cute and utterly fascinating co-ed, I certainly fall into the young wife/mom, "I wanna be her / marry someone like her someday" category. Right?

I was not getting that vibe from the young-uns.

I was witty and charming. I referenced Facebook. I mentioned I have a blog. In return I got obligatory chuckles which translated into "This lady is so lame, making a pathetic attempt to connect with us."

I believe I was spoiled by previous teenagers in my life. The Scott boys, the Powell girls, Kevin and Laura Jean. They all treated me like the uniquely terrific young woman I am. Or was. Although, now that I think about it, I was paying them (to watch my children). I also know their parents and could theoretically have told on them if they weren't nice to me. See, there's further evidence of how not-old I am. "Telling" on someone is something children do. I'm even younger than I thought!

I shudder when I think about having almost invested several years in attaining my PhD so that I could teach these haughty and all-knowing teens and 20-somethings. I can't imagine spending my days looking into their disgust-filled or completely vacant eyes as I attempted to impart my genuius with my usual humor and grace.

The only comfort I can find in this remarkably disturbing teen interaction is that my son isn't there yet. He's almost completed his first year as a teenager and miraculously still loves me. Just a few weeks ago he remarked how "normal" or "good" our family is (at which I nearly choked on my chewing gum). He explained that all of his friends complain about their families and can't stand their parents, but that he actually enjoys spending time with his. He likes me, he really likes me!

I can bear the disdain of surly youth as long as my son remains my biggest fan. Wonder how long that will last...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

So, um, about my faith...

Once in a while my blog posts make some wee mention of my faith. I rarely write about it outright for fear of losing readers. Yep I'm one of those Christians. Unfortunately, I'm not in the minority. Sharing our faith is a struggle for many of us. It's pretty sad; I wouldn't hesitate to tell a friend about a great new bar or a sale at Talbot's, but talking about Christianity or my church? Well, um...

Here's the thing though. My faith and my church family mean more to me than a great new hangout or sale at my favorite clothing store. Seriously! I think when there's something this special in your life and it's available to anyone, it's worth sharing. While being a Christian comes with no guarantees of a lifetime of happiness and prosperity (don't listen to televangelists who preach otherwise), the good reasons for believing are pretty substantial:
  • When bad things happen to good people, I can take comfort and find peace in God's love, trusting our ultimate reward lies in heaven
  • When I learn and acknowledge that life isn't all about me, the world becomes a richer place, full of opportunities for me to try to make a difference in the world, not just my world
  • Right and wrong are no longer gray areas (though that doesn't necessarily make it easier to do the right thing)
  • Believing God is our Father, viewing others as my brothers and sisters, helps me to leave prejudice and hatred behind
  • My natural instinct to judge, condemn, and hold a grudge against those who wrong me, is relieved by knowing that that is simply not my place
  • When life's burdens seem too much to bear, I know  there is someone waiting to carry them me for me
And then there is the most remarkable joy to be found in being a member of a true community of faith. Like all families, no church community is immune from our human failings, but there's is something unspeakably powerful about worshipping together, working side by side, supporting one another through life's trials, and celebrating life's blessings. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that the so-called Freakin' Angels, my sisters in Christ at Media Presbyterian Church (and beyond!) are as important to me as my immediate family. Though different, of course, the love I have for these women is every bit as powerful and life-changing as the love I feel for my parents, sister, children, and husband. I simply can't imagine life without them. The gift of these friendships is one I wish I could bestow on everyone I know and love.

While I don't know that she has found her own Freakin' Angels yet, I am thrilled to say that my mom is enjoying becoming part of a community of faith. After years without a church family, she visited a local church many months ago and fell in love with what she found there. In fact, she loves it so much, she declined to visit me and my church for Easter Sunday because she wanted to experience the holiest of days in her new place of worship instead. To hear her speak with unbridled joy about her experiences there makes my heart full.

May your heart be equally filled with joy this Easter weekend!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Take it Personally? Who, Me?

They say it happens in even the best relationships. Time wears away the excitement and anticipation. It can be difficult to bring back those old feelings, especially when you've been disappointed in the past. Even understanding the nature of such things, I still felt a sense of panic last night when I just wasn't interested. In fact, I was downright bored. I had been looking forward to starting over, figuring spring fever would carry me along, but it didn't work out that way. Despite having endured traffic jams worthy of the World Series and been robbed of $20.00 for parking, the Phillies' exhibition game left me cold and I threw in the towel early.

Since October I'd been eagerly awaiting the start of the baseball season and this was it? I cried out in despair to Rob, "What's happening to me? Will the passion ever return?" He tried to make excuses for me, something about the appeal of warmer weather, but I knew there was more to it than the temperature or even the injury plagued team. Like many things in my life, this disappointment was the kids' fault.

My dad's view of baseball
I had brought Abby, Ian, and Ian's friend Keaton to the ball game with me. Despite front row seats in the best section of the park, Abby's head was on my lap and the boys were clearly bored. When I asked Keaton if he was a baseball fan, he honestly replied, "not really." Given that his dad is a major league soccer coach, I could understand his allegiance lying elsewhere. Still, the kids were bringing me down.

The more I thought about the companionship factor, the more I realized what a pivotal role others play in my level of enjoyment. If I have invited someone to join me for an outing or special event and they don't enjoy it as much as I do, the whole experience is diminished considerably. This can be something as simple as the fish not biting when I've taken someone fishing, Abby's team not scoring when my parents come to a game, or a less-than-inspiring sermon when I've brought a guest to church. The rational Kim understands that I can do nothing about the hunger level of the fish, the skill level of the players, or the divine annointing of the pastor's sermon, but the eager-to-please Kim illogically takes it personally.

Being the cheap conservative individual that I am, I am especially disappointed when a financial investment has been made (by my guest or me) in something in which they are less than enthralled. I specifically recall:
  • Taking Rob and another couple to a musical during which the men would much rather have been watching sports (a bad call on my part, but still, they could've faked it)
  • Treating my dad to primo seats at the ballpark and having him announce even before we entered the gates that he wouldn't pay $5.00 to see a baseball game
  • Recommending an Indigo Girls concert to a group of girlfriends and having a couple of them actually leave before it was over just because it was raining and the venue was outdoors (the nerve!)
  • Suggesting a movie (Everybody's Fine) that appeared to be a comedy based on the advertising, but was actually painfully depressing 
  • Picking a restaurant only to have the service and food leave much to be desired
I confess, it even upsets me when someone doesn't laugh as hard as I do at something that I find hysterical. Yes, I have issues.

I have decided the only way to deal with this is to never invite anyone to join me for anything ever again. It may seem a little drastic, but it should save me countless hours in therapy. Keep in mind, however, that I am an excellent guest who laughs and cries at all the appropriate moments and never fails to show enthusisam and gratitude for the invitation. I encourage you to select me to be your go-to friend for any and all events and special occasions. I look forward to hearing from you!