Random Thoughts Day 11: Stress

On the southern end of Cuyahoga County there is a mall called Southpark.  The only problem is that from where we live, there is no easy way to get there.  Sure, we can take 480 to 71, but then the mall traffic getting off the highway is atrocious.  If we take main roads, it is a series of twists and turns, and many of the roads are two lane roads, so that when we get nearer to the mall– that’s right, you guessed it–traffic!  To be honest, I loathe going to the mall, but sometimes it is inevitable: someone needs a new outfit; I have to by a gift for a shower.

Today, I managed to convince Tom that it would be fun to go as a family.  Yes, he fell for “family time” and got into the car with me and the girls.  I just thought I would be more able to maintain my sanity if another adult was present.

When we got to the mall, after we looked for a shower gift for our friend, Tom realized that the girls wanted to go to Justice.  Do you know Justice?  It is a clothing store for children that is so over-crowded and so chromatic that they should have a warning that reads: Anyone over the age of fourteen, this store may cause seizures.  It definitely causes high blood pressure, especially on a busy Saturday afternoon.


Anyway, standing near the entrance of the store, Tom decided that it would be in his best interest to go to Hoolihan’s and have a beer.  Sadly, I agreed.  I already felt my own migraine coming on, I did not want to deal with his agitation as well.

Of course, there was at least fifty people in the store, and most of them were pushing strollers.  Each rack was so close to the next that at a few different points in this experience, I was literally stuck.  To get to the wall, I had to walk out of the store to walk back in at a different angle. After a half hour, my children finally allowed me to get in the line that ran through the accessories.  The accessories that the sales clerks kept sending the customers back to: “If you spend seven more dollars, you will get fun cash for your next purchase.”  Well, who doesn’t want fun cash, these women thought?  And then they would spend what felt like a decade picking out the perfect necklace.

When I got to the register, I presented my own fun bucks.  (Hey, I spent over fifty the last time I was there; I don’t fall for the up-sale.)  Everything in the store was forty percent off, and then I was getting $25.00 off of a $50.00 purchase.  I was proud of my shopping prowess, well, that was until the sweet, little sales clerk said that I was unable to combine discounts.  Suddenly, the forty dollars I thought I was spending turned into $78.00.  I felt my face twitch.  I would not have told Maggie to get two shirts and two shorts had I known.  I wouldn’t have agreed to the dress and the stupid cheer t-shirt for Lizzie.  It would have been fifty dollars of stuff only.

I looked behind me.  The line was even longer than it had been before.  There was no time to decide what to get and what not to get.  Both Lizzie and Maggie were clapping delightedly next to me.  My mind was a torrent of thoughts.  These clothes are such crap!  I cannot believe I am spending this much money on crap!  But there I was, handing over my credit card, and thanking the girl for helping me.  Walking out of the store, I felt vomitous.  What just happened?

I wanted to go home.  I just wanted to go home.  I was having a moment.  I don’t know if it was a Hall moment or an Oates moment, but it was a moment that said, I am not a “rich girl” and “I can’t go for that”.  The girls and I walked to the restaurant.  Tom was relaxing, finishing his second beer.  He looked so content.  We got in the car; I just wanted to take the most direct path to our house, and leave this big, boxy, commercialistic hell-hole behind.

But no.  We could not drive directly.  Tom decided to take the absolute longest route.  Every time I thought, Oh yes, if he turns now, we will get out of this congestion, he nonchalantly went straight through the light.  Every time I thought, oh yes, this road will lighten up and it will be better, Tom turned.  It’s like he was going left when he needed to go right.  He went straight when he needed to turn.

“Where are you going?” I finally asked.  I was so agitated I felt like I wanted to punch him.

“Home, why?” he asked.

“Because you are taking the most ridiculous way.  Why didn’t you take the highway or turn on Sprague or even Pleasant Valley?”

Now you have to know something about my husband.  he doesn’t like to ask for directions and he does not like to be criticized about his driving.  To prove that he was annoyed, he decided to turn into Giant Eagle’s parking lot just for fun.  We pulled out and then pulled into another parking lot, just to drive through it.

The ride that should have taken twenty minutes took thirty.

I went running when I got home to try to relieve some stress.

It didn’t work.


Five Things I Did Last Night Instead of Blogging

Okay, as many of you know, I blogged for 366 days straight.  Actually, I blogged for 379 straight days; I did not know how to live life without blogging.  I had developed a small cult following, and I did not want to let my readers down.

Before I reached day 366, people asked, “Is that it?  You’re just going to quit?”

To be frankly honest, the idea never occurred to me.  I developed such a love for the art of  composing my short tales and satirical stories, I could not imagine life without this outlet.  “Of course not,” I told them.  “Writing is a part of who I am, but I want to be freed from its chains.  I want to write when the spirit moves me, and I want to accomplish other goals, too.”

This month, I have consistently written three to four days a week.  Last night, I had every intention of writing, but as you would have it, life got in the way.

Here are the Five Things I Did Last Night Instead of Blogging:

5. Target.  Of course I went to Target.  I go to Target as many times a week as a blog anymore.  I was thinking about not going, but then I could not NOT go– earlier in the day, my deodorant had run dry.  Now, we all know that adults perspire, and sometimes, perspiration brings an acrid odor that makes it difficult to be around that person.  I did not want to be the “smelly kid.”  I deal with enough B.O. when my afternoon tenth grade classes come to English after gym class.  I could not live with myself if I smelled.

4. Elliptical.  Yes, I got on the elliptical and did a thirty minute workout.  I need to get my fat ass  into shape again, so I am trying to workout four or five days a week.  I used to love to exercise, and I am trying to remember what that felt like.  I am going to push myself to enjoy it once again, one workout at a time.

3. The Dentist.  I had to take Lizzie to get her cute little eight-year-old teeth cleaned.  You all know how important hygiene and dental care are.  I could not even live with  myself if I thought that my children’s teeth were rotting in their heads.  We are diligent about making and keeping our six month appointments.

2. Keno.  Keno? How does that work into the mix?  Well, let me explain.  Tom is in a NASCAR league at a little local bar (Right now, my brother is saying, “Of course he is.”).  Once a week, he has to go up to the bar, pay five dollars, and draw a random number which determines the driver he has for the week, based on position.  It is better to go earlier in the week so that you have a better chance of getting a higher starting position.  We both agreed, somewhere around seven, that a 16 ounce Miller Lite and a few games of Keno would compliment his weekly pick quite nicely.

We played 11-14-23-42, and we hit for $72.00!  I was so elated when 11 hit on the last possible number that I screamed.  I screamed so loud and so energetically, I startled a man who had just sat down at the bar.  Out of the corner of my eye, I literally saw him jump.  Tom saw it, too.

“Hey man,” Tom said.  “My wife is so excited about the drink you ordered, she is cheering for you.”

He laughed.  “Thanks.  I think I made a pretty good choice.”

My mind was reeling.  My adrenaline was pumping.  I looked at the man and said, “Sorry.  We just won $72.00!”

Tom and I decided to order a celebratory beer.  As I settled down, I could not help but think that the man I startled looked familiar.  Who is he? I thought to myself.  By this time, he had been joined by a friend, and as I always do, I eavesdropped, trying to see if I could figure it out.

“I didn’t understand his comment,” his friend said.  “We explained how beneficial this is going to be for the residents as well as the city.”

“I know.  It is going to be cost saving, and the bins are so big, no one generates that much garbage.”

Hmmmm, I thought.  Comment.  Residents.  City.  Bins. 

I got it!   Which leads me to….

1. Hangout with the Mayor

“Excuse me,” I said when there was a lull in the conversation.  Aren’t you my mayor?”

As quickly as I said it, he was out of his seat.  He put out his hand.  “I thought you looked familiar to me.  How do I know you?”

I explained that when he was running for mayor, he stopped at our house when he was on one of his door-to-door meet the residents campaigns.  After the initial discussion that day, we spent about a half hour discussing unions and teachers.  At the time, I had an SB5 sign in my yard because the state of Ohio was trying to pass a law that would hurt teachers, police, and firemen unions.  He informed me that his dad was in an elevator repairmen’s union, and he supported me through and through.

“I remember that!” He said to me.

We spent the next thirty minutes talking about everything under the sun: schools, the city, trash pick-up, our own kids.  It was like talking to an old friend.  At the end of our conversation, he handed me his card.

“Can you do me a favor?” he asked.  “Can you email me tomorrow?”

I was a bit confused.  “Okay, why?”

“I need to get you on a committee.  I need to get you involved.  You are exactly what we need in local government.”

All I heard is “what we need in local government.”

This morning, I woke with a new energy.  I think I have found my new calling:  politics!



Day 341: How Many More Shopping Days Do I Really Have?

With thirteen days left until Christmas, I am starting to panic.  I’m not trying to be a negative nelly, but I am already over budget.  In June, I think, The Christmas list isn’t so big, and then December hits, and I remember all of the people I forgot to put on the list in June.

I still have so many people to buy presents for!   The problem, however, is the cashola, which is always a problem because we are terrible at money management and we still have some of the debts we accrued when my parents died and my student loan is still not paid off and Tom’s student loan just kicked in and of course, his car died and my lease was up and the kids, well, holy shit!   (People who have kids no what I mean.)

But it’s Christmas!

I have to tell all the people I appreciate how much I appreciate them, and how else do you do that than with a gift?  I mean, I cannot believe how wonderful some people are to us and how much they do for us through the course of the year– I have to get something special for each person so they know that I know how awesome they are!

I just have to face facts– what’s a few more hundred dollars in the scheme of things?

It’s the people I really forget about that make me sweat.  I always forget about the teachers until the week before school is out.  Between the three girls, they come into contact with eleven teachers through the course of the week, each of which impacts their learning; each of which is helping my children to mature and to grow.  Add on to that number, the Principal and a few teachers who offered time to Carson so she could do her Science Fair project.  Oh, and the dance teachers and the music teachers– let’s not forget about their influences as well.

Tom says, “What if you just don’t give a gift?  What happens then?”

I don’t know.  Nothing?  However, I  would have guilt– deep, pain in my stomach, I am a horrible person guilt.  Every other parent is buying the teachers gifts; how can I not be gracious, too?

What it really boils down to is that every year I think I can stay in budget and I don’t.  Every year we buy for so many people that Tom and I have stopped buying for each other.   When Tom asks, “What can I spend on you this year?”  I have to smile sweetly, pat his arm, and shake my head.  The ‘ole goose egg rears its ugly head, and we go giftless, yet again.   It shouldn’t really be an issue, though,  because if either of us really needs or wants something, we go out and buy it.  The vacuum broke and I bought a new one.  The microwave broke and I bought a new one.  I needed new shoes; I bought new shoes.  Tom needed a fall coat; he bought a fall coat.   Neither of us really needs anything.

I may never get a Christmas gift again.  It doesn’t matter.  I love buying, so my present is trying to find other people the perfect gift.  I anticipate a spectacular Christmas with many smiles.