The Gang Sees The Wiggles

I don’t have much vacation time since I’m in a new job, so I take a day here or there when I can. Over Father’s Day weekend we took our first family vacation from our new home base. We went on a seven-hour road trip through Pennsylvania.

It all started when my seven-year-old daughter asked an innocent but hilarious question about one of her favorite musical acts, The Wiggles. We started putting on The Wiggles because the songs captured my toddler son’s attention like nothing else. Even though the show gives everyone in the family the ear-worms for days, sometimes it’s worth it to get something done while the boy watches Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy and Do the Propeller.

I knew The Wiggles from when my nephew was a child (he’s nearly grown now). Back then there was a totally different line-up. The only one left is Anthony Wiggle, who gets teased for being the Old Wiggle since he has gray hair. One day when someone on the show made a joke about Anthony being old, my daughter turned to me and said wistfully, “Mom, do you think we’ll get to go see The Wiggles before Anthony dies?”

After I got finished laughing, I looked up tour dates. I discovered that there actually was a tour this summer, and also that The Wiggles hadn’t been to the U.S. in five years. So it was now or never; in another five years they won’t give a damn about The Wiggles. But the closest the show was coming to us was Philadelphia. It would be insane to drive over six hours to see The Wiggles, wouldn’t it?

Probably. But I thought the kids would really like it. And there is a pretty sweet place to make a pit-stop on the way. Literally sweet: Hershey Park.

So I proposed to my spouse that we pack up the gang and make the drive. He said “You’re insane.” (I don’t know why he even points this out since it’s obvious?)

I appealed to his sentimentality. “But they won’t be back while the kids are little! If we don’t take them to see The Wiggles, they’ll never get to go, and they both love The Wiggles!”

He still said “You’re insane,” but he knew I’d pester until he caved, because once an obsessive-compulsive has a Good Idea, good luck trying to talk them out of it. I think what really convinced him was Hershey Park. He’s never been but he is a chocolate fan. Who can say no to a whole theme park dedicated to chocolatey goodness? So plans were made.

I took Friday off and we set out as early as we could get the kids in the car. They did remarkably well in the car, and we made it to Hershey around 3pm. I thought maybe the kids would ride a few things, we’d do the tour, and go to our hotel by nine or so. Instead we stayed until it closed.

We had a blast. Dan took our oldest on roller coasters while I took the toddler on all the things I could ride with him. He isn’t a really smiley kid when we go out places, but he was giggling, grinning, and even dancing a little on the rides. We ate too much chocolate, played games, rode stuff, and power-walked out of the place with minutes left to spare for the gift shop where we bought even more candy.

On the way to the hotel that night, both kids were loopy from the excitement and sugar. My daughter was bumming Hershey Nuggets so I gave her one. She ate that and said “Can I have another one?” I handed her two and said “Here: these are the last two for the night. These are pretty…” I was going to say substantial but wasn’t sure she knew that word. “These are pretty big, so you only need two.”

She giggled and said “I thought you were going to say…” in a deep booming imitation of my voice: “I thought you were going to say ‘These are pretty damned sugary!'”

I laughed so hard. It made me remember moments like that with my mom when I was a kid, the deliciousness of saying forbidden words, the delight in making my mom laugh. That’s the sort of thing I was looking for from a family vacation. Not the rides or the candy or the show. Connecting and making memories with my babies.

The next day we made the trek to Philadelphia. Driving in Philly is nerve-wracking and so is parking. If I lived there I’d be riding public transit wherever I could. We were so on edge we forgot to put shoes on Rory! (He gets carried everywhere anyway).

But we made it in time, and we got a pleasant surprise when we went to find our seats. The usher looked at Dan, who is very tall, and told him he would not fit in the balcony seats. So they gave us a box! This sort of thing usually doesn’t happen to us. I was elated to have extra room to corral my squirmy shoeless toddler while we watched The Wiggles. They played most of the kids’ favorites and my personal favorite, Papadum, which is just silly (literally, the only word in the song is Papadum). My daughter was chair dancing all over the place and my son was alternately watching, trying to explore the box, and trying to throw things over the side (unsuccessfully; I played goalie—but if he had lobbed his new Reese car, he could’ve bonked a Wiggle in the head! That’s how close we were).

We didn’t do anything else in Philly because everyone was just totally wiped out from Hershey and the show. We hung out in the hotel room afterward, and we ended up ordering in (I had a genuine Philly cheese steak) instead of going out, because Rory took a nap after fighting it forever and nobody wanted to poke the bear.

The drive home was long and arduous, and I owe Dan a redo on Father’s Day since we used it up in the car. But I’m glad we took our quickie vacation. Going adventuring with my family, even if it was chaotic, was so refreshing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life: The Version of Record

I had a pretty bad meltdown this morning over having to leave my son. He was being extra-snuggly and clingy, and when he started crying so did I.

My job has been really stressful lately. And by lately I mean for months. I didn’t know what to expect starting out new after being in the same place for 17 years, so when things seemed difficult in the beginning, I figured it was just me adjusting. But I’m not adjusting very well. To make a long story short and vague, I am in a situation where it is exacerbating my OCD, and that in turn exacerbates the situation. I’m taking steps to get help, but it seems like a lot of the steps involve appointments which takes more time, and time is the currency where I always come up short. Continue reading “Life: The Version of Record”

Fast Food: The Team

At all the restaurants where I worked, most of the time we really did function like a team. Sometimes it was a team of miscreants if we didn’t get along with management or had to deal with difficult customers, but still…when it came to moving customers through the line and filling orders, everyone did their part.

Aside from the shared goal of “Get the customer in, fed, and back out the door,” there was an unspoken agreement I quickly picked up from my restaurant peers. In a nutshell, it was “Do your job, don’t interfere with anyone else’s job, and MYOB.”

Continue reading “Fast Food: The Team”

OCD Illustrated

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

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This is my window sill covered in cinnamon.

After it rained, some ants tried to scout out my kitchen. I found them early in their explorations when they were beginning to come in at the back door and window. We have a little mud room out there where we keep the recycling, and the kitchen sink is right by the inner door too, so all those yummy recycling and dirty dish smells waft out and invite the ants in.

I saw them in the window first, and cinnamon is supposed to deter them, so I sprinkled a thin line in the crack of the window sill. That drove a few that had collected in the crack out into the open, and that is when I went ballistic with my cinnamon shaker flinging pie-scented murder all over the place.

I painted around the doors and inside the recycle bin with clove oil. They hate that too. That held the little bastards off until I ran out and got some terro traps.

Type A Personality Crisis

I’ve had this low-level anxiety permeating my life for the past few months, and I thought it was all a normal part of moving and starting a new job. Then I had an epiphany this morning that helped explain this sense of unease that has been following me about since December or so.

Here it is: I suck at my job.

And that’s mostly OK. I’m still pretty new at it.

Several people I’ve worked with in the past had even told me this would happen. I’d check back in with someone after they had been gone a while from the little circle of hell we’d shared, and they would say “Well, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing some days.” I’d think of course, a whole new job.

But it didn’t really register that I would just flat-out not know what I was doing for any length of time. I had been at my old job for so long that the work was never really the challenge; it was the slow political death by a thousand papercuts from above. When the work did become a challenge, it was because I was doing extra work from various people who had fled the scene. So all I had to say over a missed deadline was “We’re down 4 people” or whatever.

Now I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, to be honest.

I’m learning, but there’s a lot to learn, and for every time I feel like I have something figured out, I make a mistake. I know all of this is normal but mistakes aren’t good for my OCD. I didn’t do myself any favors staying in my old job for so long. I was clinging to that lovely level of stability that comes from avoiding leaving a situation until moss grows over you and you’re so used to the dysfunction that any other environment seems completely alien.

Now I feel like I’m bumblefucking around in space as an untrained astronaut. Missing the fact that I only have three hours of air left to focus on trying to eat m&ms in zero gravity, or something. I SUCK AT THIS.

I am glad I realized this, because it’s going to take time and a lot of effort to be good at what I do again. I need to chill out and give myself a break.

I’ve had a lot going on lately, too: everyone’s been sick, and the landlord let a dog family move in next door after all (he’s playing amateur allergist; he told us THIS dog would be hypoallergenic because it’s…old and slow?) so we are probably going to have to move this summer.

I’ll figure it out. I may even need to switch up my medication or find a therapist in my new city.

Sometimes it just takes me a little too long to catch a clue when I’ve let my anxiety levels creep up to “affecting life quality” levels.

Fast Food

I just went through eight hours of management training (which wasn’t so bad, surprisingly), and some of the activities required me to go tripping down memory lane to jobs I’ve had in the past.

All through my undergraduate years, I worked in fast food. I probably shouldn’t name the names of the places for fear of being sued, but one of them was THE fast food place, then there was one of the big-time pizza places, and finally there was one of the big-time ice cream places.

While some of my coworkers were high school or college students, some were career fast foodies. There are some really interesting characters in fast food. Some of the managers were awesome, and some were asshats. It’s about like anywhere else I guess, but then again, in some ways it’s not.

The customers are one way it’s not. While working in an office gets boring sometimes, I will say I am thankful for one major feature of office work: The door. Anyone, and I do mean anyone, can walk into a fast food place.

Continue reading “Fast Food”

The Marriage that Almost Wasn’t

Today was my 17th wedding anniversary.

Since we are heathens, we were married in a civil ceremony at the Durham County Jail in 2001. The magistrate worked at the jail instead of the courthouse on weekends, so we packed up our witnesses and trekked to the jailhouse to get married.

Before that, we lived together for almost a year. But how it all happened is the story I want to tell now.

Dan and I are both dumb as bricks when it comes to love.

We were friends for years before we started dating. We met in karate class when I was 14 and he was 17. We didn’t always get along so well, particularly since I was the teacher’s pet and Dan thought that was unfair. We also had some pretty severe rivalry going on when it came to video games (he called me button masher) and Magic: The Gathering (I called him you cheatin’ bastard).

I went away to college for two years and then transferred back to the community college in our hometown. We were both seeing other people by then, but not really liking them all that much. I saw him at karate and on campus, and we ran around with the same gang of nerds.

By the summer of 1997, we ended up hanging out together more and more often. We liked a lot of the same things: hobbies, music, movies…often we complained to each other about what we didn’t have in common with the people we were dating.

I knew by then that I was attracted to Dan, but I didn’t want to screw up our friendship by acting on it. It took one if my girlfriends stabbing me in the back to get me and Dan together.

She had the same birthday as him, so on their birthday I took them out drinking. Now one thing everyone knows about Dan is that he’s a cheap date. A few beers and he is in lala-land.

On the way home I stopped to go into a store for snacks, and Dan was asleep…er maybe passed out… in the back seat. When I came out this hooker was trying to put the moves on him. She knew I was interested and tried to poach my future husband, the bitch.

I drove home in a fury, and the next day I had to explain to him what happened and why I sent my ex-friend home early and was not speaking to her. So that was how we ended up dating.

Fast forward three years later: Dan graduated in December and I was set to graduate in May. Both of us were looking for jobs. I was interviewing with just about anywhere for practice, but by the end, I had job offers in three different cities.

Dan accepted an offer in North Carolina. When he was weeks away from moving, we had a long-overdue talk about our plans. I thought that because he hadn’t asked me if I wanted to join him in NC, it meant that we were either going to try the long distance thing or split up. He thought that since I was interviewing all over, I was going off to do my own thing.

In this talk it became known that of course he wanted me to come to NC with him and of course I was perfectly willing to turn down three job offers. Like I said, dumb as a brick.

I moved my stuff down that May into his apartment where he had one chair and a cardboard box for a TV stand. We got married the next March and here we are, 17 years later.

I don’t believe in love at first sight or soul mates or any of that nonsense. But I do believe I ended up with the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with. We make each other laugh and get each other through the hard times. We’re comfortable together, like that favorite chair with your butt imprint, the one that makes you give the side-eye to any guest who tries to sit in it.

I’m not great at being romantic, obviously, but somehow I ended up with an amazing husband, partner, and best friend anyway.

Happy 17th Mr. F! With all my crazy-ass love.