Is It Safe to Come Out Yet?

I wanted to wait a few days to make sure it was really 2012 and not some elaborate hoax aimed specifically at me. That’s not ego talking, that’s just a by-product of how bad 2011 was for me. And here’s the kicker. I didn’t even know it was bad until I looked back. Which leads to my first and only New Year’s resolution: No looking back. Whenever I do it’s like failing. Twice. Who needs that?

Yes, I know what you’re saying. And of course there are some good memories. Some good moments from last year. But every time someone wants to reminisce about a past glorious moment it always leads to another memory that ain’t so great. Take this past Christmas break for example. My family and I went back east. Now, not counting the best pizza ever, that alone conjures up three nightmares: 1. My family was with me.  2. Flying. I believe I’ve mentioned my irrational, but life-shortening fear. 3. Staying with my mother-in-law.

My mother-in-law (and what kind of law is that anyway?) is a kind, sweet woman…who makes me want to drive the car off the bridge when I’m with her. And I’m afraid of heights! Any example I give will only make me look like a petty, intolerable person. I am those things. But I swear she would drive you crazy. Please believe me on this!

All my other bad 2011 memories are also petty. I mean, there were no real tragedies, unless you consider deaths, divorces, bankruptcies and Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” tragedies. I guess my big gripe with 2011 is I have nothing to show for it other than more angst in my belly. I put on about 8 pounds of angst this holiday season alone. 

So now that it’s 2012 (it is isn’t it?) I’m going to try and do it better. What is “it” you may ask? I don’t know. But whatever it is, I need to do it better. So I’m going to try and only look forward. To block out each day the second it’s over. Instead of waiting a whole year to start a new, clean slate, I’m going to start a clean slate each and every day. So whatever annoying things my kids and/or wife do today (and in this unreliable world that’s one thing you can count on), tomorrow it will be as if it never happened. See? Clean slate. Great plan, right? It’s also impossible. I’ve tried this the past 17 years and it never works. Guess I am the definition of insanity. Oh well, as unhearfelt as it may seem…Happy New Year.

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You tell’ em, Jimmy Boy!

As if I didn’t already love Jimmy Kimmel enough, I just read that he’s on a campaign to get people to cut out a bunch of their so-called “friends” on Facebook. Some people have hundreds, some thousands! I have eight, so he’s not talking to me. But his campaign or gimmick (not that I care if it is one – You go, Jimmy!) brings up a topic I’ve been harping on (mostly to myself) for a long time.

You know, now that I’m about to share this I realize what he’s doing actually has nothing to do with my point. Hmmmmm. Oh well, it’s my blog, not Jimmy’s! So here’s what’s wrong with our computerized, Internet-based, fancy-phoned society: We are all just too damn connected. A friend of mine sent me a very intellectual article on this very subject. I couldn’t understand it. But if I could I’m sure the point would be that we’re never really alone anymore. Between emails and video chatting and texting and rumbles (sorry, just watched “West Side Story”) we don’t have a moment to ourselves. Especially our kids. I can hear my son at all hours of the night talking loudly in his room. He’s either video chatting or insane. In any case, I don’t like it! His voice is really grating.

But what I really hate about all this techno stuff (sorry for the big words) is that we — and by we I really mean ME — is so friggin’ reachable. My wife and kids can find me almost anywhere. It’s really hard to get anyone to believe you when you say, “Oh sorry, I was nowhere near my home phone, cell phone, computer or Western Union office.” There’s just no good excuse anymore for ignoring loved ones. And that is what’s wrong with this world, dammit!

But wait! There is one good excuse, and one good excuse only: “I was in a meeting.” Yes! And this is why I love my job. I have a place I can go to where I can pretend to be unreachable for 8 to 12 hours a day, every day. My boss can yell at me all he wants. My co-workers can annoy me non-stop. I don’t care! Because while at work no one in my family can reach me if I don’t want to be reached. YAY!!! I once even lied and said I had to work on Thanksgiving and it worked. Boy, did I give thanks on THAT day.

So forgive me as I hug and kiss my desk right now. My co-workers are looking at me strangely. And I don’t care! Know why? “I’m in a meeting, Honey!”

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I just NOW woke up out of my Yom Kippur fasting stupor. Did I miss anything?

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Man, That’s a Lot of Brisket!

Well, it’s Rosh Hashana this week. I have one friend with whom we both say, “Happy Rosh Hasha-na-na!” It’s immature, but it’s fun. Try it, I won’t mind. But I’m not here to talk about the holiday or the mounds and mounds of delicious brisket that I believe never truly leaves your system. Oh man, I always eat so much and then suffer the pain. But it’s worth it.

No, I’m here to talk about how this High Holy Jewish Day affects my work schedule. Normally, we get Thursday off, but have to work Friday. Oh darn. But now there’s this small but growing contingent who want to get Friday off as well. Saying it would show the proper respect for the holiday and the Jewish workers. And yet the bulk of this group is not Jewish. Now of course I don’t fault them for this. I admire their enterprising minds. Their chutzpah (pronounced correctly), if you will. But I won’t stand for it. Oh no. The last thing I need or want is an extra day off from work. I can take the one day. Even go to temple and nod and fake smile at people I don’t know nor care to know. I can take the meal where relatives and friends all marvel at the amount of brisket and noodle pudding I can pack away, and then they all wonder if perhaps someone should call 9-1-1 for me. That happened once, and I refused to let them pump my stomach. Are you kidding me? After all that work I did to get that brisket in there? Nuh-uh!

But there is no way I want two days off for this holiday. It’s my holiday, but I reject it. Because here’s what my Friday will be: my wife scolding me for eating so much and for being rude to her Aunt Edna (no one is named Edna anymore which is just one of the reasons I can’t stand Aunt Edna) and then saying “Hey, as long as you’re home we can…” and no matter what follows those words it’s bad for me.

The other thing that will happen is that my barely teenaged son, whom I will completely have forgotten even existed, will storm down the stairs around noon and then yell at me, “Come on, Dad, you have to drive me to Spencer’s! Jeez!” Now first of all, who the F is Spencer? Secondly, is there even a hint of please in there? No. And thirdly, what am I, my son’s slave? His chauffeur? His bitch? Okay, we all know the answers to those questions, and I’m not proud about it.

So, yes, I would rather go to work where I can at least pretend to be a man. And though I will have single-handedly (and I guess selfishly) killed the “two days off” campaign with some brilliant, veiled whispers into our boss’s ear about how we’re WAY behind schedule, I will grumble alongside my unknowing co-workers about what a Scrooge our boss is for not letting us have Friday off. But inside, right next to the ten pounds of brisket, I will feel good. And right. Happy Rosh Hasha-na-na!

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Ahhhhhhhhh I Don’t Want to Hear It!!

My daughter is away at college for the first time, and we’re stuck with our 13-year-old pain, I mean son. Okay, you’re caught up. Here’s more grist for the mill (I’ve got to start looking up these sayings to see what they mean). Anyway, I heard from my daughter the other day. I usually get a weird feeling in my stomach when I see it’s her calling, because it’s not usually to say things are going great or to tell me she loves me or to talk about the dopey Republican debates. It’s usually to ask for money or complain about a mean friend or unfair teacher. This time it was to to ask for money and complain about a friend. What a shock. But she did grace me with a story about how this one girl on her floor already had sex. You know what this means? That I no longer want to talk to my daugther while she’s at college. I am not ready to think about certain things. Sex is certainly one of them (now I sound like my wife). I don’t even like writing about this because it’s hard to stop the flood of bad images and thoughts that are trying to overtake my brain.

It’s funny how it wasn’t until after I took my daughter to college that I remembered all the sex, drugs, drinking, and more sex that took place when I went to college. Not for me unfortunately. Sex that is. Plenty of drinking (If my kids are reading this, I’m embellishing). And of course I realize that I and all my college mates were the same age as my daughter is now. Doesn’t matter. She can’t be having any of that. Or if she is, I can’t be hearing about any of it. So for the next four years I will be in constant denial mode. It won’t be easy. It will be particularly hard to explain to my wife why I’m always running out of the room whenever she says “I talked to our daughter today.” But I think I can do this. Thank god for work, where I will now be putting in even more hours than normal. It’s my best distraction.

Now obviously I can’t really not talk to my daughter for four years, although she once did that to me when she lived at home. I’ll talk to her. I just won’t listen. I’ll try to gauge her tone and match it with “Oh no” or “Really? Wow.” This is my plan. We’ll see how it goes.

Oh, and as far as my son goes, well I’m sure he’s into all kinds of crazy, bad stuff. But at least I can count on him not telling me about it.

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The Vicious Cycle Called My Life…

You ever write down thoughts about your life and where you want to go with it? I do. But only once every five years. I’m lazy that way. Well, I recently read something I wrote ten years ago. Guess what? Nothing has changed. This is sad, if not surprising. So likewise I just re-read my first posting of this blog from just over a year ago (I planned to do it on the one year anniversary of my blog, but like I said, I’m lazy). Guess what? Nothing has changed. Once again: sad, not surprising.

I could almost copy that post and paste it here. But I won’t. I’m not that lazy. Or am I? Hopefully you’re too lazy to go back and check. So once again it’s Labor Day. Seems like only a year ago that I was doing the same thing: going to a barbecue I don’t want to go to. For one thing, my family will be with me. You know my daughter who went off to college? Well, she came home for the long weekend. I was so excited when she told me she was coming home and now I’m counting the seconds till she goes back. When she got home we hugged, then that was the end of the good. I’m pretty sure she’s not talking to me, but I don’t want to find out I’m wrong, so I’m keeping a low profile. She really doesn’t want to go to this barbecue, but my wife is making her (I was FINE with her not coming) and so she hates us.

My son? Well, he’s willing to deign us with his presence for 47 minutes. Not kidding, that’s exactly what he said. But then I’m expected to leave the barbecue (yay) and drive him to a friend’s whom I don’t know (as Joy Behar would say, or rather SNL’s Fred Armissen as Joy Behar would say: “So what? Who cares?”). I complain about it so he can feel good about putting me out. I’m considerate that way. But also so I can escape the barbecue. Oh. I forgot to mention how I hate almost everyone who’s going to be there. Hate is a strong word. That’s why I used it!

I actually like the host. And his wife. The guy is the most amazing barbecuer. He says “cuer,” but I cut him some slack. But his friends? His relatives? BORING!!! I won’t bore you with the boring things they talk about, but it’s an excruciating kind of boring.

I know I’ll get through it. I know I’ll enjoy the food. I know my daughter will hate me until the second she leaves and asks for money. I know I might “accidentally” forget to pick up my son. But all I’ll really be doing this loooooonnnnng weekend is dream of Tuesday, when I can get back to the sanctuary of my desk. Labor Day is a celebration of the workers, right? So let me get the heck back to work! Happy Labor Day. Hope yours will be better than mine. Good chance of that happening.

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And Then There Was One…

The beauty (and reason) of having more than one kid is that when one goes off to college, like my daughter just did, you still have another kid (or more, though I shudder at that thought) at home for a while. But when that kid is my 13-year-old son, well, then it kind of makes you reconsider the whole plan.

Let me make my usual qualifying comment: I love the kid. Okay. That’s on record now. You know how I complained constantly about my daughter? The eye rolling, the silent treatments, the 180 mood swings, the complete disdain and disgust she had for me at times? Well, here’s one thing I never realized: she was a buffer. Between me and my son. I was so focused on how unpleasant she was that I never noticed my son was just like her. Only different.

He doesn’t roll his eyes, he doesn’t have mood swings, and he doesn’t seem to despise (the third D) me. That’s the problem. He doesn’t ANYTHING! He doesn’t react, he doesn’t respond, he doesn’t leave his room, he doesn’t even acknowledge other people live in HIS house.

Now he still needs my wife and I. A fact, I’m sure, that kills him. He needs to be fed on occasion, although from what I gather he eats non-stop at his friends’ houses. I’ve learned this from said friends’ parents who passive-agressively tell me this in the form of a joke. But I think they want money from me.

And of course he needs rides. A lot of rides. But since he won’t talk (and the rare times he does it’s so mumbled that my constantly asking “What?” and his contantly mumbling again only leads to a screaming match) he actually tosses me my car keys then walks outside expecting me to follow him. I do, but only because I want to take him away from MY house. Far away.

I always thought my son was a quiet, introspective, independent boy. But that’s only because I barely noticed him. I was too focused on my daughter and hiding from her. But now that I see what he’s really like, I must hide from him, too. And when he goes off to college I’ll probably discover the dog is a jerk. But who knows? I barely notice the dog. I’m not even sure we have one. So Mondays have lost none of their allure for me. I can’t wait to go to work. Possibly more than ever. And that’s saying something.

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