Sunday, January 7, 2018

Why I Don’t Sit In The Car

So - many of you know that my daughter is in high school marching band, which is pretty cool considering that her parents actually met in high school marching band.

We have almost 170 kids in our high school marching band.  It has genuinely surprised me the the small percentage of parents who actively volunteer on a REGULAR BASIS.  It truly takes a village to raise a marching band.  There are uniforms to be fitted, altered, washed, and stored.  There are trucks that need to be loaded and unloaded.  There’s water that needs to be handed out; props to be assembled and put in place; bus loads of kids to be chaperoned; first aid to be administered. The sheer logistics of moving and assembling a 170 member marching band to a game, parade, or competiton is staggering.

Tonight at a gathering of friends, a very active band parent said “How can people sit in their cars and watch as other parents unload everything?”  Another parent said “It must not be that hard, because most of the parents do it.”  The reality of the situation is that, out of 167 kids - probably 135 households/families - only about 30 volunteer on a regular basis.  Less than 20%.

Now - I get that people have work obligations. Home obligations. Financial obligations. Not everyone has the flexibility to be available as much as others.  However, I don’t think there is ANY EXCUSE for sitting in your car, watching others help unload from the activity that your kid participates in.  You are ALREADY THERE, and it doesn’t cost anything to get out of the car and say “Hey - what can I do to help?”

Part of me is angry at these people for/not helping more.  But another part of me is really sad.  Here’s why...

My kid loves band.  She’s not the most talented or the best leader, but she LOVES being a part of the band.  She loves being a relatively anonymous part of a huge organism - something that functions as a whole, a sum of it’s very different parts.  She LOVES IT.  I put that in CAPS because honestly, my beautiful brilliant, amazing daughter is a logical creature at heart, and she doesn’t really exhibit passion for much.  She loves books. And she loves this marching band.

My daughter is my heart - I love her/more than words can say - but her personality is closer to my husband’s than to mine.  She leans more introvert, whereas I am a very obvious extrovert.  I love her, and she loves me, but we don’t necessarily have a lot in common.  But she LOVES BAND.  And I did too.

I played clarinet in middle school, and then switched to French Horn/Mellophone in high school.  I also loved band.  It was a huge part of my high school (and college) experience, so I relate to how much she loves it.

Back to volunteering.  I volunteer because my kid LOVES BAND.  Do I love cleaning up gross water bottles from under the stands? NO. Do I love riding a hot school bus with 45 teenagers? NO. Do I love hauling props out on to a field in 90 degree heat? NO.

But you know what?  MY KID LOVES BAND.  Teens don’t necessarily relate to adults that well, and in general teens get a bad rap.  But our band kids are way too busy to get in much trouble.  They have to maintain good grades and good behavior to stay in band, and the practice and performance schedule doesn’t leave the much time to get into trouble.  These kids are kind of the anti-typical teen...they work hard, they are polite, and they keep their noses clean.  They are truly a great, hard-working group of kids.

I volunteer because my kid loves the band.  And if my volunteering helps keep one kid out of trouble, then that’s awesome.

What has really surprised me is the number of friends we’ve made through the Band Boosters.  I had no idea that that my kid’s activities would result in our meeting some amazing families, several of which I hope to be friends with for years to come.

So why sit in the car? Get out. Say “Hey - where can I help?” You’ll not only get a unique and special insight into your otherwise cryptic may also meet some awesome people.

Volunteering isn’t always what you think it is, and it can be more rewarding than you can imagine.

That’s why I get out of the Car.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Stay Awake for New Year’s: 2018 Day 1

It’s currently 1:31 am on January 1, 2018.  My family is asleep, but I’m on the deck with/my iPad, listening to distant parties, firecrackers, and the whir of the hotel AC unit.

The point of this late-night (early/morning???) champagne, wine, and insomnia rant: I think we should all stay awake for New Year’s Eve.  Hee’s why...

New Year’s Eve is a milestone holiday.  A time to end a year and start a year.  A time to bury old regrets and start new beginnings.  When you’re in your 20’s, New Year’s Eve is a BIG DEAL.  Mine involved huge parties, tons of alcohol,frigid pool plunges, a fight or two, and at least one person vomiting.  In your 30’s, you have kids.  You try to hang on to what New Year’s Eve USED to be.  You/may catch up with other people with little kids, and you drink a little but then collapse at 12:15 am in the deep, desperate slumber of people that have been chronically sleep deprived for years.  In your 40’s, your kids are older.  You gather up with your other friends with older kids.  Your kids are all more than happy to run around with sparklers until the wee hours.  You drink wine and booze that is considerably more expensive that what you drank 20 years earlier, and try to keep each other awake until midnight.

It’s a stark, stark reality when - at 12:30 pm - you realize that you drank less than half/of the champagne you popped at midnight.

That all being said...I think, no matter how old you are, you should stay awake for New Year’s Eve,  I mean realistically - how many New Year’s Eves do we get? 60, 70, 80 if we’re lucky.  Many people don’t get that many,  People get sick; people get in accidents. The unexpected steals those New Year’s Eves away.  Statistically speaking, almost every single one of us will end 2018 with less people than we started it with.  We’ll lose family members, friends, spouses, children.  Actually, the older you get, the greater the odds that YOU will be the one who doesn’t make I through the year.

So here’s what I want you to do.  Make a resolution that if you are here another year, you will stay awake and bring in the new year.  I dn’t care if you have to sleep all day the day of and the day after.  Do what you need to do to be awake and present at midnight on 12/31/18.  Get together with your family. Your grandkids. Your friends.  Or - if you’re alone - get a really/nice dinner and bottle/of champagne, and bring in the year alone, relaxed and appreciating the the joy of bringing the year in on your own terms.

New Year’s Eve changes as the years go on, but it’s significance doesn’t have to.

I will look forward to seeing your posts on Facebook, Instagram, etc, as you bring in 2019.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Progression of Insomnia

It's 11:25 pm.  Me:  "I have to get up at 5:30.  I should go to bed."

**  Goes to bed **

My brain:

"It's hot in here.  I wonder what the thermostat is set on.  Maybe I should go check.  No - I need to go to sleep."

"My feet are cold.  Should I get socks?"

"Did I close the garage door?  I think I closed the garage door.  Maybe I'll go check.  I'll check the garage door and the thermostat at the same time."

** Gets out of bed, goes downstairs, checks thermostat and garage door, both of which are fine.  Gets back in bed. **

"Damn.  I forgot to get socks.  I should get socks."

** 5 minutes passes **

"My feet are still cold.  I should have gotten socks. I don't feel like getting up again."

**  5 minutes passes.  Gets up and gets socks. **

"Did I take my medicine?  I think I did.  Crap - was the final payment due today?  No - I'm pretty sure it's Monday.  What was that noise?  Where is the dog?  It's probably Chase on his electronics.  I should go see."

** Gets out of bed and checks on son, who is soundly asleep.  Checks on dog, who is also soundly asleep. **

"Now my feet are hot.  Does Karlin have practice tomorrow?  Oh wait - that's Chase.  Who's driving?  Is it my turn to drive?  I haven't driven in awhile.  It's probably my turn.  Crap.  I forgot to go buy Puerto Rico donation supplies.  First aid kits, work gloves, wipes.  I wonder if Amazon Prime can get them here tomorrow? "

** Picks up phone to check Amazon.  Determines supplies can't get there in time. Checks Fantasy Football match-up while phone is out. **

"OK.  I can't sleep.  I should count something.  Breaths? Sheep? Maybe I should try sleeping somewhere else.  It IS really hot in here."

** Goes downstairs and gets in recliner. **

"OK - it's cooler down here.  And I can rock, so that's good."

** Rocks in recliner for 25 minutes.  Doesn't work. **

"Shit.  This isn't working.  I may as well go do something productive."

** Spends 30 minutes cleaning off desk. Goes back to bed. **

"It's now 2:37 am.  I have to get up in less than 3 hours.  This is going to SUCK."

**  Takes 1/2 of a Tylenol PM.  Falls asleep. **


Friday, September 15, 2017

Post-Hurricane Update: Out-of-the-Woods-Into-the-Frying-Pan Edition...

Post-Hurricane Update: Out-of-the-Woods-Into-the-Frying-Pan Edition...
So we've spent two days moving furniture back, un-taping window sills, and putting our daughter's loft bed back together. Lots of little debris and some fence boards down too.
But we made it through the woods! We're in the clear! Except...our AC just went out. Yes - that sizzling sound you hear is us baking.
"24 hour emergency service! No extra charge!" Except that the next tech isn't available until tomorrow at Noon. That sizzling sound you hear now is my temper fuming.
We've all been in very close quarters for 5 days, and I'm not gonna lie...THESE CHILDREN NEED TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL. I don't care if you shove them in the gym to watch movies, as long as they are separated from their siblings. Chase has played so many video games and watched so many movies that he literally lost track of a whole day.
Word is they aren't going back until Monday. That will be TWELVE DAYS HOME IN A ROW. If schools are 't open, the bars and wine shops better be, and fast. When does Busch Gardens open? Can we just drop them all off there? I'll pay extra if they will just open that park.
Continuing my my Irma-induced quest to decipher Jude Law (is he good? Is he evil?), I watched "Road to Perdition" last night. Terribly depressing movie, and did NOT clear up my Jude Law issues.
I finally got to watch NFL football last night. I think something is wrong with me, as I found myself screaming "Don't run the clock Minnesota! How in the he'll am I supposed to get points if you run the clock?!?"#FantasyFootballProblems
I suppose it could be worse. My friends were supposed to go to Bern's tonight for their 25th anniversary, but Bern's isn't back open yet. Our high school band director is stuck in traffic somewhere between here and Georgia. And although the AC is on the fritz, we DO HAVE POWER, so the wine fridge is okay.
Stay cool, ya'll!

Hurricane Update #4 - Wine, More Wine, Zombie Movies, and Fake News Edition:

Hurricane Update #4 - Wine, More Wine, Zombie Movies, and Fake News Edition:
Well. Here we are at Midnight and I have to say...watching "Shaun of the Dead" really puts the whole hurricane thing in perspective. I mean - we have it bad, but do we have it your-mom's-been-bitten-by-Zombies bad?
We had our first real hurricane impact in the form of a leaking French Door. Minor stuff - nothing that duct tape and a few towels can't fix.
Here's something of interest...we've had not one but two people reach out to us about the current conditions. When we say "It's stormy, but manageable" the people - both out of area - say something along the lines of "No - you're getting pummeled. I just saw it on TV.
Rest assured that - as of right now - we are snuggled up in the family room, with power and AC, sipping chilled wine and watching Shawn of the Dead. Yes - the tales of our demise may be greatly exaggerated for the sake of ratings. National television coverage of Hurricane Irma cannot be trusted.
For those of you that have asked...the loft bed window shield is holding up beautifully; we put the rugs away to just make it easier for George the Weimaraner; and we ate all of Aunt Karin's fabulous stew.
We're holding down the fort with chips, twizzlers, and fudge sticks, and a copious amount of wine.
Stay safe ya'll!

Hurricane Update #3: Sarcasm-More Wine-Weimaraner Edition...

Hurricane Update #3: Sarcasm-More Wine-Weimaraner Edition...
I'm pretty sure the dude with the walker in the beginning of "Office Space" moved faster than this storm. We've been sitting around all day waiting. The conditions here in Tampa have been - so far - less than what we get in your average Thunderstorm. We are very relieved but also bored. We're watching "Pitch Perfect."
You know where the "more wine" comes in. You're probably asking where the Weimaraner comes in. That would be George, my Weimaraner-puppy-nephew. George has declared an outright war on my rugs. I guess they say people (and dogs?) handle stress in different ways, but I'm not sure what trauma my rugs have inflicted on poor George. It's worth pointing out that George is an equal-opportunity rug hater. He hates my small kitchen rugs and my 5x7 area rug equally.
So - Hurricane Problems That You Never Thought Of #1...
Garbage cans. In your garage. I'm betting you have NO IDEA how bad your garbage cans smell until you move them inside the garage. Ours smell like a combination of dead fish, stale beer, and dog crap. We may have to sell our cars. Seriously. SO. BAD.
I'm a little bummed that Karlin's loft bed got ousted by the now widely-publicized Ping Pong Table, but hey - life lessons. I guess we need to step up our game next time. (See what I did there? Ha ha ha)
In the meantime, Aunt Karin brought a bunch more junk food, and made us a big crock pot of Beef Stew. We still have 9 bottles of wine, about 8 bags of chips, Goat cheese, salsa, cookies, twizzlers, Swedish fish, ice cream, and Pop Tarts. We're gooooooood...
I need to go hide the rugs....stay safe ya'll!

Hurricane Update #2: Sarcasm-and-Bailey's Edition...

Hurricane Update #2: Sarcasm-and-Bailey's Edition...
After staying up till 2 am watching worsening weather reports, I looked forward to the air-conditioned, oblivious sleep of sleeping late on a Sunday morning. But alas - it was not meant to be. I had 52 text messages before 7:35 am. Lord only knows what it will be like once we lose TV and have nothing else to do.
So we got up and started doing what most people do to prepare for a hurricane...Bart went to the gym, and I'm cleaning house. Because if the house comes crashing down, at least our toilets will be clean. A girl's got to have some standards, even in a storm, and clean toilets are my baseline.
It's raining a little here now, but that's about it. I'm going to dose up another cup of coffee and start bitching that I can't watch my fantasy players because of the 237 channels of Irma coverage.
(And yes - if you just said "Wait...what?" - you read that correctly. Bart is at the gym. Which is apparently open. In a hurricane.)
Stay safe ya'll!