Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Change (or Mid-life Crisis)

As I was driving home this morning, after dropping Natalie off at school, I got lost in thought.  Who was I before children, before I was a mother?  The truth is, I don't really know.

I remember having a great job as a Marketing Director for an assisted living community.  I remember how much I loved dressing up for work every day and feeling important.  I had a closet full of at least fifty business suits from expensive stores.  I had dozens of high heels that I wore 18 hours a day without a complaint. 

I remember being good at my job, and with people, and with money.  I remember going out and listening to live music or dancing in clubs.  I remember trying new restaurants and going to see movies.  I remember staying out late, sometimes till dawn, just having fun with my friends.  Ah, I remember spending time with my friends...

But I don't really know WHO I was or where I was headed.  I have had a million jobs.  I have lived a million places.  I've been married twice.  Was I ever happy? Yes, of couse.  But I was also happy in change.

I'm constantly changing, as I'm sure everyone does as well.  I think what makes me different than other people is that I don't live in my discontent of a situation, I make change happen.  I don't want to waste a minute of my life in the wrong situation. 

Being a mother now, there really isn't a whole lot of option for change.  I know I was meant to do this, and I know a million mothers have said the same thing, but there are times that I want to do something else, something important, something life-changing.  I love my children and would never want to change the fact that I am their mother.  But I want to be good at something.  I take that back, I want be GREAT at something.  I want my brain to work like it used to.  I don't want to stare at plans to make a simple birdhouse at Home Depot and think "I can't figure this out, it makes my brain hurt". I used to run an assisted living, damn it, why can't I make a birdhouse?

I want to dress up again.  I stood in my closet this morning and held up dresses that I want to wear one day.  I tried on high heels that I want to wear.  But I have no where to go today, except to take Eliah to Occupational Therapy.  So, I put on the same old jeans and t-shirt I wear every day. 

I want to go places and do things.  Having a child that is in a wheelchair and gets overwhelmed easily, makes going anywhere a challenge.  Eliah sleeps until noon, then eats lunch.  By the time he is done, it's time to pick up Natalie from school.  By the time I pick her up, it's time for the home health aide to arrive.  By the time we get settled, it's time to make dinner....then homework....then baths....then bed.  And then it starts over.

I want to talk to adults again, and be able to maintain a conversation about things other than what brand of diapers I use or how long it takes Natalie to do her homework.  I want to discuss music and movies and literature (although reading just makes my brain hurt).  I want to try new restaurants and local hot spots.  Although, I can honestly say I don't want to stay up all night.  I'm over that part. 

I want my body back.  Motherhood is not kind to the female figure.  I know I'm too old for mini-skirts and leather pants, but I want to be able to wear a bikini again.  I want to wear form fitting dresses again.  I want to be able to see all my body parts when I look down. 

Is this what a mid-life crisis is?  Is it a matter of trying to define who I am now?  Is it figuring out how to combine the old me with the person I've become?  My guess is yes.  I will say this, I am happy as a mother and I am comfortable in the life I have.  I think I've changed my perception of my ideal life to include a special needs child.  I still feel important.  Is it changing the world?  No, not really. 

Is a mid-life crisis about changing the life you have? Or is it coming to a place of understanding and comfort with what you already have?  I have no clue.  But I do know there is always room to make my life better. 

Maybe tomorrow I will dress up. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Handicapped Parking Etiquette

I was so excited the day I got the
Handicapped Placard for the wheelchair van.  There's a ramp that comes out of the side of the van,  so that I can roll Eliah's wheelchair down.  It's awesome. The only problem is, it requires a LOT of room.... which brings me to this post.

I don't know if it's true or not, but it seems that many people that have a handicapped placard think that all handicapped spaces are for them.  It seems that if they have the placard, they are required to park in a handicapped space, even if there are regular spaces free nearby.  It seems that people with a placard think the extra space in a handicapped space is for their bad parking skills.  And while some of this may be technically true, it's really not polite at all.
Not okay

Every day I search for a handicapped space to park the wheelchair van.  No ordinary space will do. It has to be large enough for the ramp and wheelchair to come out on the side.  Basically, it requires the space of two vehicles.  And every day I see compact cars in van accessible spaces, with several vacant regular-sized handicapped spaces right next to it.  Every day I see cars parked in the ramp space, not the actual parking space.  It's so frustrating.

It also seems, at least where I live, that everyone and his brother has a handicapped placard.  I'm not saying they don't deserve it, but it seems excessive when I pull into a Walmart parking lot and all 20 of the handicapped spaces are filled, and I see people, that walk without difficulty, jump into those cars.  There are even people that park in someone elses ramp space, as if it were an actual handicapped space.  I've even been unable to get the ramp out, because someone used my ramp space as their handicapped parking space. 

Yesterday we went to Walmart, and like other times, every handicapped space was taken.  So, we drove around looking for two empty spaces together.  When I finally found them, a good distance from the door, we parked and quickly got Eliah out of the van, through the rain, and into the store.  By the time we got back to the van, I was greeted with dirty looks from several people for taking up two spaces.  I even had cars honking at me, because they needed to park and I was hogging two perfectly good spaces.  In the past, I've even gotten a note on the windshield calling me a jerk for taking up two spaces. 

So, I am letting all of you with handicapped placards know, that just because you have the placard, it doesn't mean you HAVE to park in a handicapped space.  Please TRY to look nearby, or at least save the van accessible spaces, because there may be someone that really needs that extra space.  And if you need to park in a handicapped space, please try to stay in the lines.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Trimble the Friendly Squirrel

In honor of the wild animal that lives under my bedroom, I shall post about my old, dear friend, Trimble.  He was a squirrel that used to visit me every day in my old house.  I used to post about him on Facebook two years ago. Here is the story, with pictures, about Trimble.

From 2009:  This squirrel stalks me daily, regardless of how much I try to scare him with my hip hop moves in the kitchen. Maybe I'm better at the Running Man than I thought. 

His name is Trimble. He sits in the corner and eats the trim off the side of the window. I don't know if that's an attempt to eat his way into the house, but he is not phased by ANYTHING. He is still sitting there now, even after I ran the garbage disposal six inches away from him. 

The funny part is, he sits up and looks in, then when I look over at him, he sits back down and pretends like he's doing something. I'm waiting to hear him whistling when I look over.

He always find me, wherever I am in the house.  (Pay no attention to that dirt.  I'm a much better housekeeper now.  Plus, I blame dogs for that)

Eliah had to get in the action too. They were both so curious about each other.  

I think he wanted a kiss. Trimble is the sweetest little squirrel. 

And then one day, I opened the door to find this.........

My dog Finlay thought Trimble was pretty sweet too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Every day I wait in a long carpool line to pick Natalie up from school.  I usually sit there for about 15 minutes before the line begins to move.  I get bored....really bored.  I don't have a cool phone to make posts on Facebook, and I don't bring a book, because Eliah would never let me read.  So, we sit and listen to the same cd over and over again. 

When the weather is nice, I open up the moon roof and both sliding doors on the mini-van, so Eliah gets a great cross breeze as he sits in his wheelchair.  Parents in the other carpool lanes like to see Eliah's big smile as they drive past. 

Each day, in my boredom, I discover new things.  There's always a woman that gets out of her car to talk to other mothers.  There's always a woman that jumps out of her van to open her back door to yell at her other children.  There's always someone that gets caught up texting or reading and holds up the line because they aren't paying attention.  Today was special though.

There is a woman that is responsible for calling out the numbers off everyone's cars.  This way, they can have your child ready and waiting when you pull up.  I arrived a few minutes early, so that I could be closer to the front of the line.  And this woman was walking down the line, writing down the numbers on the cars. 

She had a large mircophone tucked into the top of her pants.  When she passed me, I laughed and yelled out, "Hey...Is that a microphone in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?".  Man, I crack myself up.  What I didn't expect was her response.  She started to strut, then grabbed the microphone inappropriately and started saying, "". She was REALLY into it. Hahahaha. Well, that's just wrong...  I think it wouldn't have shocked me if I had actually known her, or ever spoken a single word, or if Eliah wasn't staring out of the open van door at her. 

The funny part was that as she was doing her "show", Eliah pressed his "Pick up Lines" button on his wheelchair, and the recording said, "Have you been arrested before? Because I believe it's a felony to look THAT good!". How appropriate.

Anyway, I guess I need to be prepared for the response I'm going to get when I start a conversation with "Is that a ____ in your pocket?" Lesson learned. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Living Social Gone Wrong

When I became single and moved to my apartment last year, I discovered the wonderful world of Living Social Deals.  For those that don't know, Living Social, like Groupon, provides major discounts on food, adventures, vacations, clothing, jewelry, beauty treatments and so on.  Immediately, I was sucked into these fantastic deals.  I bought my skydiving ticket for half price.  I bought my ziplining tickets for half price.  I bought bowling tickets, which have now expired, because what was I thinking? And when I saw a One Hour Deep Tissue Massage for $30, I jumped on it and bought three vouchers.

So that I wasn't selfish, I decided to share my vouchers with my friends.  We could have a girls' day out, enjoying shopping, massages and margaritas together.  I called and scheduled our massages right away.  When I called, I found out the "spa" was on the other side of town (not in the best neighborhood), but shrugged it off.  Hey, it was only $30, what am I complaining about?

The day of our massages arrived, and my friend Heidi was unable to make it into town due to inclement weather, so it was just me and Brenda.  I picked her up and we drove over together.  We were thrilled about spending an entire hour relaxing.  As we followed our printed directions, we turned into a small, old corporate park.  I saw a sign for a spa and we pulled in.

When we walked in the door, we were in a small hallway with stairs in front of us and a door to the side.  Brenda says, "Oh God, what is that smell?  It stinks in here!".  The door was filthy and said, "Please knock".  We looked at each other in horror and I knocked.  A small Asian woman answer the door and said, "Can I help you?". I enthusiastically said, "Yes, we're here for our massages!".  She gave me a very bizarre look and said, "You have wrong place". 

We breathed a very heavy sigh of relief and got back in the car to look for the REAL massage place.  We drove to the back of the parking lot, around the back of a building, and THERE it was.  Whew, finally.  We went inside relieved to see a fairly clean and not so smelly hallway.

We entered the office and there was a very large man sitting behind a desk.  He was approximately 60 years old, 300 pounds, covered in tattoos up and down both arms, and reeked of cigarette smoke.  He greeted us and explained that all of his six children work for him and do the massages.  I dare not look at Brenda at this point.  If I did, I think she would have just gotten back in the car.  Lucky for her though, I had indicated that she required a woman to do her massage. 

A nice 28yr old girl popped in from the hallway and greeted Brenda with a big smile.  They walked toward a small, dimly lit room with a table.  I said, "Have fun! Relax!"

Personally, I had visions of a tall, strong, handsome man named Sven giving my massage, so I had indicated (beforehand) that I was just fine with a man doing my massage.  So, as this man is setting up the paperwork, he looked me up and down and said, "Oh, I will do you".  I think I may have gotten a little sick to my stomach here. 

I filled out my paperwork, explaining that my trouble area is my upper back and neck.  You know, I carry Eliah around all day.  So, we walked back to a large room with a warm table and serene music playing.  He left me alone to get undressed and lay on the table (face up he told me).  I had no idea what I was in for.

The man entered the room and uttered a little small talk.  Then he began the "rub down".  He explained that he doesn't really do "deep tissue", he likes to be gentle.  But all his friends told him he gives a great massage!  Didn't I buy a Deep Tissue massage voucher??

As he started rubbing my neck from underneath, he was explaining to me that some women prefer he do a "preventative breast massage" as part of the session.  I said, "Oh no thank you" in my most polite and uncomfortable way.  Then, as he worked on one of my arms, he pulled it high above my head so the sheet was dangerously close to breaking loose the contents underneath.  I didn't worry though, since I had another free hand to pull the sheet up higher, much to his dismay.

I tried to relax and listen to the music.  But every couple minutes I heard a loud cough and he would hack up some mucous, no doubt from the years of smoking. The unfortunate part was that the one time I opened my eyes, I discovered that he was using his hand to cover his mouth when he coughed....then put his hand right on me.

When I turned over on my stomach is when it got really...questionable.  He started at my feet.  After 10 minutes on one foot, I started to wonder what was going on back there.  After another 5 minutes with just one hand barely rubbing that same foot, I started to wonder what he was "really" doing back there.  Was he texting?  Was he doing other things??  I'm not even sure I want to know. 

It was so absurd that I actually started laughing to myself.  I tried to control it so that I wasn't violently shaking.  I didn't want him to think I was really enjoying that one-handed foot rub.

As he worked his way up, he was sure to offer the glute rub as a bonus option.  Again, I turned down the offer.  By the time he got to my back, he was only able to put in about five minutes of lightly shifting the hair pattern on my back and the time was up. 

He then left the room and I got dressed.  I wasn't sure if I was supposed to feel relaxed, violated or cheated. It was NOT a happy ending.  But I walked out of the room to discover that Brenda had a wonderful time and felt renewed, refreshed and relaxed.  At least one of us had a good time.

Needless to say, I never used that third voucher, and I don't ever buy the massage packages on Living Social anymore.  Life is like a Living Social massage, you never know what you're gonna get. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Learn A Lesson

What are the odds of yelling out a mental illness in public and someone nearby actually having it?  Apparently, a lot better than one might think.  I may or may not have learned my lesson though.

Brenda and I went on our weekly dinner outing on Thursday night, but instead of being spoiled with great service and exceptional food by our normal mexican restaurant, we decided to go downtown.  I figured I had more of a chance of running into other single people if I'm not hiding in a booth cramming my food hole with endless amounts of chips.  I thought I would do that right in the middle of town. 

After dinner, we decided to walk, and maybe we would stop in a popular bar for a drink.  We sat on a bench in front of the bar for about half an hour.  I say we were people watching, Brenda says we were too chicken to just go in.  I was scoping the place out, she was bored.  In her boredom, she looked at me and said, "I have Narcolepsy".  So I laughed and said, "Fine, we'll go in".  And we went into the bar and had a drink.  Well, I had a drink, Brenda drank water.  We are total party much so, that we were there for about 12 whole minutes. 

On our way back to the car, we stopped in the drug store.  And as Brenda took forever to choose a pack of gum, I shouted out, "COME ON!  I'M GETTING NARCOLEPSY!"  I laughed and turned to the cashier, who was staring back at me with a shocked look on her face.  She said, "I actually have Narcolepsy".  Was she serious?  YEP.  She went into a whole description of how and when she was diagnosed.  Then we looked at each other and laughed and laughed until there were tears in our eyes.    Luckily, she was not offended and was quite amused by it all.  We even talked about the movie Deuce Bigalo, which had a funny character with the disorder.

What lesson did I learn?   Don't repeat things Brenda says. 

This happened once before, years ago, with my friend Amanda.  Whenever she would walk away from me, she would smack her own butt (as if in defiance to whatever I had just said).  Then we would laugh.  Well, I used to think it was hilarious, so one day I did it to someone....

I was at the batting cages waiting for a cage to open up.  Another woman (with a few others) walked up and took a cage I had been waiting for.  I spoke up.  She spoke louder, with backup.  So, I backed down.  And as I walked away, I smacked my own butt, just as Amanda had taught me. 

Apparently, that is the signal to come beat my ass. This woman, and her group of friends, were so offended that they threw down their helmets and ran full speed in my direction.  Holy crap, I'm about to be pummeled in a public place!  I ran as fast as my legs could go.  Luckily, I had a head start of about 30 yards, so I was able to make it to the car in time. 

What did I learn?  Don't do things Amanda does. 

.....or maybe I just need to learn discretion......