The Best Joke Ever

I love April Fools’ Day. I always have. I love a good practical joke.

I have sworn off practical jokes. They tend to backfire and suddenly they’re not so funny.

I am not above hiding in my children’s closets so that I can scare them as they go to get ready for bed. I have never managed to scare them though, they can always hear me laughing in the closet. It ruins the surprise element. There was one incident with my eldest son and me in a Frankenstein mask, but we don’t really talk about it, seven years later and he’s still mad at me. My father has a warped sense of humour, I get it from him. Really. Just ask my eldest sister about playing hide and seek with him (he doesn’t come out until you cry) and about the “poison berries” that she watched him eat. We’re kinda sick. He also spoke through the radiator vent when I was a kid playing in the unfinished basement. He said he was God and he was watching me. I believed him.

Twenty-one years ago I played my very best April Fools’ joke on anyone ever. I married my husband. The day seemed befitting to the occasion. I was so nervous I didn’t think I could make it down the aisle, neither did anyone else. That part wasn’t so funny. The real joke – he married me right back. The ha ha-s just keep coming. No, really I would have to say that this is one of my very favourite things about our marriage. Our ability to make one another laugh and to laugh together. He doesn’t always get my sense of humour and really I don’t think there is anyone who could get it all the time, sometimes even I don’t get it. But he usually does. Every now and then he has what I call one of his big laughs. When he has a big laugh every one in the house comes running to see what’s going on and then we all end up laughing with tears running down our faces just from watching him. Nothing makes me happier than to have caused that laugh. The first time I ever heard him laugh like that we were on a date and I told him a joke. I liked the joke but I didn’t think it was THAT funny. I thought that he was mocking me. Pretending to laugh hard at something that he didn’t find that amusing. Once I realized that it was for real the joke got bumped to most favourite status. Unfortunately it is not a G rated joke, so I can’t repeat it here and after that big send up it would probably just disappoint you. Kind of like me and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I just don’t get it.

I seem to have gone off on a tangent. I just want to say Happy Anniversary to us and thank you to my husband for 21 (mostly) wonderful laughter filled years.

A Vintage Rant

I mentioned in my post about our trip that we went to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Hipster capital of the world. My eldest son was in heaven. Vintage bookstores, vintage clothing stores, vintage record stores and vintage cool stuff stores. At least that’s what the signs and my kids said. My head said; used books, used clothes, used records, and old junk. Our simple rule was if you’re going to pay for the used clothes you are also going to pay for the medication that will kill the scabies should you end up getting them. We are not lugging home a used typewriter, record player or records.

So what’s the deal with the kids and this stuff? I can see the nostalgia factor for us but what’s there for them? We tried explaining that record players are not all that cool. That once you’re used to ipods that will run a near infinite play list getting up to flip a record every 30 minutes will wear thin. Not to mention the possibility of scratches on records. But somehow it’s still so cool and we are so not. Then there are the typewriters. Oh please, not typewriters. We tried explaining jammed keys, ribbons, one copy only and don’t even get me started on trying to correct errors! Have any of these kids had to retype an entire page because it’s 2a.m. and you’re so tired that you’re not seeing straight so you just typed the same paragraph twice? The line up at the photocopy machine is so long that there is no way that you can make a copy of your essay and get it handed in on time. You hand in your only copy knowing that if there is any problem or just in case there is a problem you have to retype your essay so that there will be a duplicate. They have no idea. How is this cooler than anything put out by Apple?

This past Monday I was at the parent/teacher/student committee meeting at my son’s high school. This little interesting tidbit was given to us. Wilfred Laurier University has published the fact that 43% of its first year Arts students are on academic probation. 43%! Now Laurier is a perfectly well respected university with nothing overly unique about its student population. This leads me to assume that the stats must be somewhat similar for other Ontario universities.

I have a bit of “Vintage” advice for our university students. If you want to do something truly “vintage” do what your parents did. Get your work handed in on time. Don’t expect your parents to bail you out or your professors to buy your lame excuses. When you study or write a paper try to do just that one thing and that one thing alone. No matter what you think you will not absorb information the same way if you are texting, MSNing, Facebooking, ichatting, skyping and ‘listening’ to cool videos on youtube. Nobody owes you this opportunity and no employer will want to hire you if you can’t be responsible for your self.

Somebody’s pushed my button.

Will I Ever Be A Grown Up?

There are a couple of things that have always seemed very grown up to me. It must be some sort of throw back to childhood, when our understanding of adulthood is limited but drinking coffee and alcohol is the epitome of adulthood to me.

Owning a home and a car and raising children just doesn’t cut it for me. Maybe it’s because those are things that I do. I am acutely aware of my adult responsibilities and the grey hairs and laugh lines that I see in my mirror are a regular reminder that I’m not getting any younger. Not to mention that at least one of my children is taller than I am and the rest are quickly gaining on me. Obviously, I’m an adult, but I still can’t handle alcohol.

Coffee was a problem for me for many years. It upset my stomach and made be extremely jumpy but I persevered. I can now handle about two cups a day. Early in the day. I adore my coffee. I get a headache without it. Nothing comes between me and my morning java.

I haven’t been able to make that same leap with alcohol. I went through high school and university being the designated driver. Alcohol held no interest for me whatsoever. I resented people forcing it on me at parties and celebrations. I learned to allow the waiters to pour me a small glass of wine at weddings and bar mitzvahs just so that they would leave me alone while the glass just sat there. A statement to the wait staff that the service is good and that I am happy.

But now I’ve discovered that I really like the taste of wine and beer. I want to be able to drink them. Not a lot, just one glass. Believe me, I don’t aspire to the martini, I know my limits.

So lately I’ve been trying to break myself in with a very small glass of wine or a slightly bigger glass of beer. My eldest son sees me with my glass, smiles, looks at me and begins fanning himself with his hand as he says, ‘Is it warm in here or is it just me?’ I’m predictable.

But maybe, just maybe one day I’ll be able to drink that glass of wine or beer without getting flushed, dizzy or sleepy and finally I’ll feel all grown up. In the mean time I’ll continue feeding my family, chauffeuring my kids, being a member of the various PTAs and all that kidstuff.

The Gift of PMS and Menopause

As I was showering today I was thinking about how much I hate Menopause. Now, it’s just beginning for me and I don’t have all of the symptoms yet, at least not with any regularity. They just sort of seem to pop up every now and then quite unsolicited and unwanted. Just like surprise guests at the end of summer. Wow, you really did make it up here! How long will you be staying? Said with smile pasted on and eyes wide with fear and shock.

I want to be someone who grows old gracefully, without the old part. It’s enough that I have to deal with the grey, the wrinkles, the sagging (eyelids), the verigross and spider veins but then you have to throw in hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness and moodiness. Oh the moodiness.

There are times that I feel that I am holding my family hostage to my nasty mood. I know that they would like to leave the dinner table but they are petrified that I’ll come at them with my butter knife. My husband’s eyes become shifty, not fixing on me for too long and my children actually seem to shrink in size. Are they trying to disappear? As long as they keep chewing so loudly I’ll be able to find them. Their chewing is like tin foil on a cavity to me when I’m in these moods. I should just bring out the magic bullet and serve only smoothies until this mood passes but then they’ll probably slurp through their straws anyway. I should just go eat in another room alone when I’m like this, but they want me with them! Don’t they have any sense of self-preservation? I have out of body experiences, I can actually see that I’m being completely unreasonable I just can’t seem to stop. Kind of like watching a guest at the table next to you in a restaurant have a temper tantrum. Your mouth is hanging open in shock but how do you stop a stranger?

During this same shower it suddenly hit me. I should view this moodiness as a gift. Let me explain. I have always wondered why women have to suffer (for lack of a better word) and men get off scott-free. From the onset of our first menstruation comes the realization that this is no picnic. Pregnancy and labour while definitely a joyous time of life, once again, not a picnic. What are the men doing through all of this? Pretty much picnicking. I won’t belabour the point by listing all of the pregnancy symptoms and labour experiences that men do not get to experience. Let’s just say that they seem to get off pretty darn easy.

So I have decided to see it as almost my duty to accept my moodiness as a form of female retribution. I will try to explain this to my future daughters in law so that they can convince my sons to get some professional help to overcome the lasting effects of my PMS/menopause I just hope that my daughter is taking notes.

Wow, I seem pretty nasty don’t I? I think I know what’s around the corner. Heads up family.

My Big Bad Habit

We all have habits, some good, some bad. I have one habit that really doesn’t bother me but many people would view it as bad.

When I read a book I tend to jump around in it. For as long as I can remember I have skipped ahead to the end of the book after the first few chapters. I tend not to read mysteries so nothing is really ruined for me. Sometimes the book ends with characters that I haven’t yet come to so then the ending is lost on me. Sometimes I get the ending and then enjoy seeing how the author unfolds the story to that point.

Without a doubt, in my opinion, John Irving writes the best endings of any author I have ever read. I have said that no one writes weird and wonderful like he does but when I get to the ending of one of his books I almost always think to myself, ‘That’s why I love John Irving’s writing.’

I don’t just read ahead to the end of the book. I will also flip through a book to read all the scenes between my favourite characters. Then I go back and reread the book properly. I blame Vikram Seth for this. In his beautiful novel A Suitable Boy he followed three distinct story lines. I had to know what happened to one of the characters before I could properly pay attention to the historical aspect of the novel. I didn’t want to rush any part of the novel and not give it it’s due. Thus was born my bad habit. This same novel also caused me to consult with the curator of a shoe museum and to write my only ever letter to an author. By the way, he was kind enough to answer my letter. I kind of obsess about a book when I am really taken with it – another bad habit. Unfortunately it doesn’t get to happen that often.

Ereaders only make it easier to skip around in books. You can so easily mark places in the novel and flipping through pages is an absolute breeze. Technology is aiding my bad habit.

Are you horrified by this or do you have a similar admission to make?

Back Handed Compliments

I recently received a compliment that I think was sincere but at the same time it made me think, hmmm. So I just collected up a few of those compliments that I’ve received over the years. Funny how they stick with you.

Here goes:

You’re so bold to to wear those pants, I could never pull off that look.

You’re so brave to send your kids to camp so far from home, I’d never be able to sleep at night.

Your hair is just crazy! ( is there anyway that’s a compliment?)

You look fine in the morning, your kids are still so young you probably don’t have time for makeup.

My wife, she’s not picky, she’ll eat anything. (he really did mean it as a compliment)

I can’t believe you’re 47, your skin’s so good!

In response to all of these compliments I just want to say, uhmm thanks?

Tell me a back handed compliment that you’ve received so that I can laugh as well.

Mornings Are For The Birds

I know that I have mentioned in the past that I am not a morning person. Those of you who are not morning people get what that means those who are morningers will never get it.

Most of my children get it. My husband and one son do not. I try not to talk to them at breakfast, it’s not hard because they are usually singing or laughing. Their singing infuriates the rest of us. There should be no joy before coffee.

All through high school I performed my morning ablutions in the dark. I would lay out my clothes the night before so that I didn’t need to turn on the light. My father couldn’t understand how I could shower in the dark. But really, you close your eyes to shampoo anyway. I would still do the same thing but somehow at my age it would seem a bit eccentric and I really do need to put on at least a little makeup. Impossible to do in the dark.

I hate the way the birds make so much noise so early. That’s one good thing about winter here, no happy morning birds.

My daughter has another volleyball tournament tomorrow. I have to have her at school for 7:45. That’s just a crazy time. I just know I’m going to poke my eye with the mascara wand. I hope that I can wake up my inner cheerleader and get some coffee in me before we go.

GO TEAM! Just please don’t wake me if I doze off.

It Was A Wonderful Trip

We are back from our March break travels and in a nutshell this is what our trip looked like in order:

We went to Washington. Everything is so big in America, even the pets. We went to the Holocaust Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Aerospace Museum, the White House Museum and the Museum of Modern Art and Sculpture. We saw the White House from a distance, we were not allowed in. I heard that the cleaning lady cancelled that week and as a result the Obamas were not entertaining any guests. We also saw the Capital Building and the Washington Monument. Do you have any idea how big the Mall is? We walked our tootsies off. We did not make it to the Lincoln Memorial or to the Vietnam Memorial. We saw a lot of statues of famous horses with men on them.

In New York we went to Williamsburg, Brooklyn the Hipster capital of the world. I thought we would see a lot of Hasidim there but I guess we were in the wrong part of town. It was a morning chosen by the Artiste and the rest of us enjoyed the adventure of something new. We saw a fun musical on Broadway. We were there for St. Patrick’s Day so we watched the parade for an hour, it went on for over five hours and it consisted of marching bands, marching soldiers, marching bag pipers and marching police. Five hours worth! Do you have any idea how many police that is? Who was watching the city that day? We walked over to Central Park, greenery and more people dressed in green. We went out to eat, a lot. We didn’t actually eat a dinosaur, it just felt like it. The Museum of Natural History was the only one we did in New York as the kids were all museumed out from Washington.

We spent a night in Corning, New York and went to the glass museum in the morning. I love that museum.

On our drive home we stopped off in Niagara Falls as the kids had never seen the Falls. It felt like spring in New York but it’s still winter here.

By the end we had all had enough of having our pictures taken.

It was a great trip but as always it sure feels good to be back home.

On The Road Again

Tomorrow is the last day of school before March break.

We will be travelling to Washington D.C. and to New York City. With some luck we will manage to do all of the driving and to share tight living quarters without killing one another. With a little more luck we will actually have a great time.

Here’s hoping that luck and weather are on our side.

Enjoy the break everyone.

What You Think You Know About Yourself

I’ve lived with me my whole life so I think I know me pretty well. Every now and then something happens that makes me think, “Really, is that who I am?’ I’m not talking about huge things that I’m surprised to find myself doing. I’ve never unknowingly booked a plane ticket only to discover that I’m flying to India to volunteer in an orphanage. I’m talking about smaller things that are still important.

I consider myself to be very not Type A. I appreciate the Type A people in my life and in the world. They are movers and shakers, they accomplish things, they have plans and most importantly they take a lot of pressure off the rest of us. The other day my son was teasing me about the way I stack the dishwasher and put the dishes in the cupboard. Our meat dishes are four different colours of Fiestaware. I like each size of plate put away in the cupboard in a rainbow of the colours. In each stack the colours should appear in a different order. I like the way it looks when you open the cupboard and it makes it easier to set the table. Yes, I like my table set in a colour pleasing pattern. When I stack the dishwasher I put my plates in the same order that they will go in the cupboard. It makes it faster to unload that way. I don’t insist that the kids do this I just do it out of habit. Perhaps I am a little more anal than I originally thought.

I also consider myself a reader of decent literature. For years when I took the subway to university I would surreptitiously look around me to see what everyone was reading. And yes, I would snobbishly decide who I thought I could have a decent conversation with. Forgive me, I freely admit to this obnoxious behaviour. I have grown up since then and no longer judge people by their reading material. I’ve come to take an, at least they’re reading, point of view. But, I still judge myself by what I read. Here’s where the shock came in. Amazon will oh so wisely send you an email with a suggestion of books that they think you will like based on your ordering history. I opened one of these emails and my jaw hit the floor. This is who Amazon thinks I am?!! I cannot be this person! This person reads junky trash – junky trash is very cheap on ereaders. This person should chew bubble gum. This person must have implants and probably wears high heels with her shorts. How can I be this person? Amazon recommended for ME my most disliked author of sappy, sugary, sentimental drivel called truly romantic novels. Please, please Amazon don’t make any more recommendations for me, it’s just some sort of aberrant phase that I am going through. I don’t know why and I hope it will end soon. If you ever recommend Danielle Steele for me I’m going to my room to cry and then I’m deleting my Kindle App.

Don’t say I’m being too hard on myself, I have been living on the dark side of trashy novels and I need to step back into the light of literature. I hang my head in shame.