Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You Can't Get There From Here

Whenever I am going to travel to a place that I haven’t been to before, I get very anxious. As much as I try not to fall into the typical stereotypes of women, when it comes to lacking a sense of direction, I could be the poster child. I have no problem asking for directions, however, when the person giving them to me starts with something like “You’re going to go south on Route 117…” their words quickly transform into that of Charlie Brown’s teacher “Wah, wah, wah…” I would find it difficult to tell you which way is south even if I had a compass in my hand. Whenever someone asks me for directions (which I don’t recommend to anyone) I tend to point while trying to act as if I have any idea which direction I plan to send them. I say things like “Hmm, I’m trying to think of the quickest way to get you there” in order to buy myself some additional time to think of what the hell I’m going to tell them. It’s especially embarrassing when my husband is around. He tends to cough to get my attention, and when I look at him he is pointing in the complete opposite direction from which I am pointing with a smug little smirk on his face. Oh, whatever, you tell them then…

I would guess that a GPS unit would be a great solution for me, however being out of work at the moment I can’t justify making that purchase. Plus, given the fact that all I read about in the paper is that these devices are constantly being stolen out of cars, it would be just my luck that this would happen as soon as I bought it. So, my major source for directions has been MapQuest. I’m grateful that these directions are pretty straight forward as far as take a left here, or a right there, but telling me to travel .4 miles really tends to throw me for a loop. I end up traveling at a top speed of 5 mph while trying to read every street sign that I pass and occasionally glancing up at my rear view mirror to chuckle at the person flipping out behind me. In addition, I tend to need to double the “estimated arrival time” to account for the number of times I will drive past the street I need and have to back track.

What I lack in sense of direction, I make up for in ideas for products that I do not have the mental capacity to create. The solution I have come up with here is something I would like to call “Landmark Directions”. This application would have the ability to give directionally challenged people, like myself, directions that contain landmark clues embedded in them. Examples would be… “take a left on Main Street (there will be a blue house on the corner with white shutters)” or “take a right on River Street (it is two streets after the Plaza that has Stop and Shop in it)” Whenever I receive these types of clues in the directions (usually from another woman) I have the greatest success rate of arriving at my destination. It may also be helpful for this application to contain clues for when you have passed the street you need. It could be called the "you've gone too far" function as in “If you come to an intersection with a light, you’ve gone too far”. This would stop me from traveling 6 miles down the road after my street (.4 miles/6 miles- it’s all the same to me).

I bet if the above is possible, than you could also create “Landmark Directions” based exclusively on using Dunkin Donuts as your landmark. “You will pass 2 Dunkin Donuts… take a left 4 streets after the second one…if you come to a third Dunkin Donuts you have gone too far…”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Side Effects May Include....

This phrase immediately catches my attention during a commercial. No matter what drug it is, there is an obligation from the maker to disclose any possible side effects from taking their product. For the most part anyone needing to drive, or operate heavy machinery is most likely screwed. In the hopes that they may get some of the information to slip by you, they hire people to announce the disclaimer that would be better suited as an auctioneer. As I try to absorb the numerous conditions that may occur I find myself wondering if it’s even worth taking these products since many of the side effects seem to be worse than the actual ailment. Here are a few of my favorites….

ALLI- This is a weight loss medication which prevents the body from absorbing the fat consumed by its user. Basically, it takes the fats you consume and prevents your body from digesting them. But it’s got to come out somehow, right? Yep and, according to their website, the way it exits is through “gas with oily spotting”, “loose stools” and “frequent stools which may be hard to control”. This is a polite way of informing their consumers that they should never be more than 3 feet from a bathroom while taking this product or they may crap their pants. Also, DO NOT attempt to fart as you will have the same result. Wow, maybe lugging around a few extra pounds isn’t that bad after all, considering the alternative. In order to try and ease their customer’s fears they offer the insight that users should try to wear dark colored pants, or have a change of clothes handy. Gee thanks. They also suggest that having their users know these facts tends to adjust their eating habits and help them avoid eating fatty foods. Guess what geniuses? If they adjusted their eating habits to exclude fats, they wouldn’t need to take your explosive crap inducing product. I wonder if they have any insightful tidbits for those who have experienced these side effects. Any suggestions on how to retain your dignity after you’ve done the penguin waddle to the bathroom in the office and emerged in a new pair of pants and a soiled pair in a plastic bag??

PROPECIA- This product is for men and it claims to help them hold on to their remaining hair. I understand why some men would want to try it, bald isn’t always beautiful. However, one side effect that may make them reconsider is “gynecomastia”. In laymen’s terms this translates to “man boobs”. But these aren’t your everyday, packed on a few extra pounds, man boobs. These things can actual produce milk! Now, there may be some breast feeding mom’s out there who may consider this a blessing, but I would think most men would rather go bald. These pills are also so potent that women who are pregnant are advised not to even touch the pills as it may cause harm to the fetus. As if having both a mother AND a father that can breast feed them isn’t harm enough.

LATISSE- This medication will supposedly grow longer, fuller eyelashes. First of all ladies, let me start by saying I’ve never met a man that would turn down a woman based on the fact that they have short, or thin lashes. I’m pretty sure that they never even notice that we HAVE eyelashes. Can you imagine a man talking to his buddies and saying “She’s really attractive, but DID YOU SEE HER EYELASHES? Definitely a deal breaker” On the flip side, I’m sure you wouldn’t hear this either; “She’s really not that great, but DID YOU SEE HER EYELASHES? I have to have her” Anyway, the side effects of using this product include; conjunctivitis (good ole pink eye), hair growth on other areas that the product comes in contact with, and even BLINDNESS! So, you will have beautiful full lashes, but your eyes will be leaking puss, you could have hair sprouting from your upper eyelid, and after all that you can’t even SEE your new lovely lashes. I’m sure that will have the guys lining up….

Last but not least; my favorite…

VIAGRA- I probably don’t need to tell anyone what this product is for, but just in case there are those who haven’t heard of it; this little blue pill helps those men that suffer from erectile dysfunction. Every time I see these commercials, one line always stands out to me “In the rare event of an erection lasting more than 4 hours, seek immediate medical help”. I’ve always wondered how often this has happened, and how many men have actually called a doctor about it. I’d imagine that some men would enjoy having this stamina believing they could satisfy their partners for hours. Just a little tip for those men; it’s really not necessary. Halfway through your “marathon of pleasuring”, I guarantee your mate’s mind will start wondering to things like “I wonder if I turned the iron off”; “who is on Oprah tomorrow” or “OK, wrap it up…I have laundry to do”. Another great side effect is blurred vision. I’m guessing this would save the user some cash. No need to booze it up before trying to bring home that “special someone”. You won't need to put on the “beer goggles” when Viagra will blur your vision for you.

Obviously, people need to take medication. Many people use drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Just be sure to read the label carefully if the things you take are not a necessity. Not only could you end up needing additional products to cure the side effects, you may also end up needing therapy…..

Friday, March 12, 2010

"When I Was Your Age..."

I try not to say that very often, but I find myself doing so on a regular basis lately. I’m not sure why I bother because even my oldest son Devin, who is 6, can’t fathom the thought that I was EVER his age, or anything other than “old”. As he’s learning about history he asks me for first hand accounts on each event. Having him insist that I had some hand in the discovery of America can be frustrating. My children also have trouble understanding that I wasn’t always a Mommy. I heard Devin explain to his younger brother once that they were both in my belly when I was little. When I was “ready” I told Devin to come out, and then called Connor out two years later. I’m not prepared to explain the actual process to either of them yet, nor suggest that their father had a hand in “calling them out”. The fact of the matter is I WAS once a child. Watching them grow up often makes me think back to my own childhood. They are growing up in such a different time than I did. This is the reason behind the constant repeating of the phrase “When I was your age”…..

The access to information for my children’s generation is instantaneous. Gone are the days of wondering things like “what is the name of that song?”…Let’s face it; there was a time when a simple question like that could haunt you. It could fester in your mind for days, or even weeks, before you mentioned it to someone that could remember the name and relieve you from the agony. Now, you can “Google it” and find the name, artist, and the year it was recorded. Even the way they listen to music is different. They have Ipods and CD players. Back in my day it was the good old cassette player. Our “portable” devices where “boom boxes” that weighed 30 lbs. To be fair, we did also have smaller hand held cassette players, but they were not very discreet considering the head phones looked like ear muffs. If I wanted to listen to a particular song I could pop in my cassette and pray that I had listened to that song recently. Otherwise, I got to play an hour long game of rewind, stop, play… rewind, stop, play… oops I passed it…fast forward, stop, play…is this the song I wanted? Oh forget it! Not my kids. Find the song on your handy little touch screen, click on it, hear it. These devices hold thousands of songs by various artists. A cassette held a maximum of twelve songs by one artist, unless of course someone had performed the tedious task of making a “mix tape” for you. My favorites were the ones that had a DJ talking over the first few seconds of the songs because they were recorded directly from the radio. We were such rebels. The music has changed drastically also. I don’t remember hearing songs that contained language that I needed to be sheltered from. I am all for freedom of speech, and tend to resist censorship, however as a parent it has become very difficult. Having my kids listen to my Ipod and scream the lyrics of “Crazy Bitch” may have something to do with that….

There was also a time when television shows had to be viewed when they were actually airing (crazy, I know). My kids have the ability to watch any show they want, whenever they want. They can also rewind and pause live TV. They drive me crazy when they pause commercials to come and get me (usually from the bathroom) so I will know which toy to put on their list for Santa. When I was a child I could not wait for Saturday mornings because I could watch cartoons. My kids watch cartoons whenever they feel like it. If it isn’t something they have recorded with the DVR, they can use features such as “On Demand” to locate the show and watch it. I’ve come to dislike that feature; don’t get me wrong it is very convenient, it may just be in the name. I hate feeling like my kids are “demanding” anything.

I’m not exactly sure at what point in my life the internet became mainstream, but I do recall that when it did, it was certainly not accessed as quickly as it is today. “High Speed Internet” deserves its title since dial up connection was painfully slow. While trying to research something online with dial up I could have started logging on, gone to the library, found the information that I needed, came back, had a snack, and would still be waiting for the connection to be completed. Now I wouldn’t even need my computer to access that same information. I could get it through my cell phone. Cell phones were once the size of a small shoe box, and I didn’t know many people that owned one growing up. EVERYONE has a cell phone now, including many children. I’m not sure when I will be ready to get them for my children. Right now it’s due to the fact that anything costing more than $20 tends to end up being destroyed in a very short period of time. It’s very frustrating because I bet I could find toys that they got in a kids meal from Burger King a year ago that are in pristine condition. I’m also leery to create additional people in the world that use cell phones as their only form of communication. Texting has become the new form of “talking”. I often find myself stuck in the back and forth of a text conversation thinking “why don’t I just call them?” Then there are the people who go through life, coming face to face with others throughout the day, yet they can’t hang up the phone and stop their conversation with someone else. I find myself listening to one sided conversations everywhere. If your going to talk on the phone in the middle of a doctor’s office while everyone is sitting their listening, at least put the other person on speaker phone so we can hear both sides….

In this new technologically advanced generation I will be faced with the daunting task of raising children that will be capable of healthy human interactions outside of all this newfangled equipment. I will have to teach them basic things like eye contact when speaking to someone, or at least the courtesy of turning off all the other distractions when someone addresses them. It is important that they know about the “reply all” button on email and the need to double check the recipients of emails prior to sending them (this is something I’ve had to learn the hard way). I hope to help them understand that they shouldn’t “say” something in a text or email message that they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. When they are older I may also have to teach them the dangers of “drunk texting”. In addition, it is going to be very difficult to get them to grasp the concept of having patience. They have never had to wait for anything in their lives. I have always wondered who has the ability to name generations. I’m not even sure which generation I would be considered from. I would strongly suggest to whatever entity has this ability that they name my children’s the “Instant Gratification Generation”.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Woman Among Boys

As the lone female in a house of boys, one of which is my husband, I get to see the difference between the sexes on a daily basis. Let me preface this with the fact that I have always been considered a Tomboy. My main staple on television is sports, I only own a few pairs of shoes (most of which are sneakers), and I love to drive my husband’s pick-up truck. I am guilty of frequently leaving the house without make-up and wearing an oversized sweatshirt (which is most likely my husbands). It’s not that I don’t care about the way that I look; it’s just that I don’t have time. Occasionally I will pass a mirror and notice that it may be time for a trip to the salon, just so I can have two eyebrows instead of one. Despite all this, I love everything about being a woman and a mother. I often remember almost feeling bad for my husband that he couldn’t experience pregnancy, although given the opportunity I’m sure he would have said “Nah, I’m good”. My feelings of sympathy quickly turned to resentment when I couldn’t sneeze or laugh without peeing my pants, or sleep because our little bundle of joy was attempting gymnastic moves all night. I would frequently press my belly against his back when we were in bed just so we could “share” these moments. He didn’t even wake up…..

Being the mother of boys is certainly very interesting. They are silly, rambunctious, and can occasionally be really gross. They are also extremely LOUD in everything they do. I will often be on the phone and have people ask me if I have birds because they have a high pitched screech when they get excited. I can deal with all of these things, except the gross part. The amusement that they have with their bodily functions has really become ridiculous. The word “poop” can lead to hours of giddiness. Let me add that their father is no exception. Whenever one farts, the other two will laugh. This tends to lead to farting contests. I do not participate in them, but I do need to pay attention just to make sure one of them is not trying too hard to participate. I’ve always wondered if the difficulty in potty training boys stems from the fact that being dirty doesn’t bother them. They would wait for the last possible second to warn me that they needed to use the bathroom. The words “I have to go potty” were immediately followed by “oops, I just did”. Most times I didn’t even get a warning; I would just notice that the front of their pants were completely soaked. I’ve heard stories about little girls that are training that would cry if they peed or would actually ask for a diaper because they needed to poop. I wish that my boys would have done me that courtesy. Instead I had to result to sniffing butts to find the guilty culprit, and even when I found him he would claim that he didn’t do it.

The lack of shame that they seem to have also stands out to me. I have tried, on numerous occasions, to explain the purpose of the hole in the front of their underwear to no avail. It should eliminate the need to drop their pants in order for them to relieve themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked out the window into the backyard and found one of them, bare butt hanging out, peeing on the lawn. I am guilty of shrugging it off, simply because the act did not create additional laundry for me. As a matter of fact, while I was writing this, I noticed that my four year went into the garage. When I opened the door to see what he was doing I noticed a big wet spot on the floor. “Did you just pee in here??” “Yeah, I couldn’t make it into the bathroom” Funny, you made it into the garage though…the bathroom was closer. It is a different story when they are across the street, facing the road, pants around their ankles, peeing. Again, if there aren’t any witnesses I tend to be OK with it. Once, while we were on an outing with my son’s Kindergarten class, my younger son brought me over to a pond that had fish in it. While pointing out the fish to me he said “See the really big fish over there…when I peed in here he came right to the top!” WHAT??? You peed in there?? I was mortified, yet not so much so when I realized there wasn’t anyone near the pond that could have seen him do it. Considering the fact that I did not have a change of clothes for him I thought, no harm no foul.

I have always felt pressure with my boys to raise a “man” and not a “wuss”. When they fall my husband feels the need to say things like “shake it off” or “rub some dirt on it” (never understood that one). But I still feel the need to hold them and kiss it better. When they cry, they are told not to be a baby. They are taught that they shouldn’t cry, or be sensitive. It’s ironic that the things I feel pressured to teach them, are the things that adult women hate about adult men. I don’t want to raise “men” who don’t have feelings. My oldest son told me one day “Mommy, I like you so much that it hurts my belly sometimes”. How could I ever discourage something like that?? I’m sure one day, my Daughter-in-laws will be grateful that I felt this way.

I am often asked if I wish I'd had a girl. Given the fact that my Doctor refused to sign a contract stating my next child would be a female, I have decided not to try. A family of four works for me...we fit comfortably in a booth, and can easily travel in my compact car. I do sometimes think of the bond that I have formed with my own mother now that I have children and long for the opportunity to share that with a daughter. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason though, and I will take what was given to me- two beautiful boys that make me laugh everyday. Plus given the choice between going to see Monster Trucks, or Princesses on Ice, I'd take Monster Trucks all day long....