Concert Phobia Part 2 – The Truth Will Set You Free

(Before you start reading I have to share with you the back story to this post. The first Concert Phobia piece was published in the Kansas City Star and it stirred up a crap ton of hate emails all from die-hard Rolling Stones fans. So, the next week I wrote this to calm them down and come clean with a painful confession.)

I’ve got a couple of things I need tTrutho apologize for. First up, I lied to you recently. Well, I wouldn’t call it a lie really more of an omission of some salient facts. (That just sounded so slippery and because I didn’t feel the least bit slimy writing it makes me believe that my true calling is politics. Watch out Trump I’m coming for you.) But the story behind the “omission” has to wait a second because I’ve got some rabid Rolling Stones fans I have to placate.

Recently, I wrote about having zero desire to ever attend a live concert event again. In doing so I referenced the Rolling Stones concert at Arrowhead stadium and casually mentioned how I was secretly glad I was not attending because of my concert phobia brought to a head by a 2010 Justin Bieber extravaganza at the Sprint Center. Now, please note nowhere did I mention that I did not love, respect, or revere the Rolling Stones.

Apparently, unbeknownst to me even mentioning the Rolling Stones without some sort of genuflecting is an egregious offense. Add in that I did use the words “mini stroke” and Lipitor when referencing the crowd and well I got myself a whole bunch of hate emails and worse older men stopping me at the grocery store, at the dog park and even one very animated gentleman waylaying me for a lecture on the history of rock and roll while I had one foot inside a Bath and Bodyworks store and was clutching a handful of coupons for two for one candles and pedicure creams that weren’t going to spend themselves.

Okay, every guy over 60 who felt the need to shame me and share that the concert was a “religious experience,” or “even better than when they played at Kemper Arena in 1981” and then tell me that I’m “an idiot” just simmer down. I get it.

Great grandpa Mick Jagger with his 24-inch waist bringing it and putting any twentysomething musician to shame is an inspiration to all of us. I love the Stones it’s just that I’m mentally scarred and unable to handle anything in a concert format. That’s all, no offense was intended.

Now on to the omission apology that is also related to what I recently wrote. My husband pointed out to me that I was not totally honest in listing my concert experiences. He even went so far as to suggest that Justin Bieber is not the real reason for my issues and that ground zero for my neurosis harkens all the way back to July 4, 1986 at the Farm Aid II concert in Manor, Texas.

When he mentioned Farm Aid II I gasped. We had a deal. He was never to bring up that concert. The event was so horrific I can’t bear to think about it, but putting honesty first here I go. For you, I will relive the day the music and my dignity died.

I was a very young news reporter at an Austin TV station and I was assigned to cover the Farm Aid concert. Now because it was 1986 there are four things you should know: 1) Back in the day a female reporter never appeared on camera without a blazer. 2) Cell phones were the size of toaster ovens and almost no one owned one. 3) Imodium was not yet available without a prescription and the travel size moist towelette was still an OCD’ers dream. 4) Texas in July makes Hell look like an all-inclusive resort. On that day it was a balmy 104 out. Now add in 40,000 souls languishing on unshaded turf and you have a picnic in lower purgatory.

So, there’s I was doing a “live shot” from the concert every 20 minutes while I sweated bullets and battled a wide variety of insects that were attracted to my Aqua Netted hair. I also needed to use the restroom – big time – but there was no way I was going into a makeshift latrine that the sun had turned into human refuse crock pot. This girl was going to hold it.

Then the unthinkable happened in mid live shot my bowels betrayed me. Yes, I pooped myself on camera! At first I was stunned. What do I do? The only thing I could think on was “toss to weather, toss to weather!” and make a break for it. I got off camera, took off my blazer, tied it around my waist and tried to do some sort of triage in the latrine of doom. Then I slinked back to the Live Truck, stole the one cell phone the station owned and called my husband – my knight in shining armor.

When he stopped laughing he vowed to brave the traffic and rescue me. “Just make it to the access road,” he promised, “and I’ll get you.” It was all very Last of the  Mohicans when in the movie Daniel Day Lewis’s character tells the love of his life, “No matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far.”

You know all except unlike in the book/movie I wasn’t trying to escape from being slaughtered. I only needed an “Oops, I pooped myself” rescue.

So after suffering that kind of humiliation (with a heaping helping of “Oh sweet Jesus” because I’m pretty sure I walked more than one mile to the freeway in clothes that still had lingering crap attached to them) combined with my Justin Bieber trauma and I think I’ve more than earned the right to never have to attend another concert again. 

P.S. Whenever I’m in the bathroom for any length of time my husband will ask through the door if “I’m tossing to weather.” Sigh.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

Concert Phobia

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.04.16 AMAttention Snarky readers before you begin pursuing this blog post I must share that in honor of the dog days of summer I have discounted (for a limited time) both my Snarky books to 99 cents! Just click on the links on the right side of the this page and presto you’ve got yourself some discounted Snarky fun :)

Do you ever feel left out of the whole pop culture scene? That perhaps you have something missing in your DNA sequence that prohibits you from having the desire to ever want to see a live concert.

This lack of passion for once upon a time “Top 40” music can leave you feeling like an outsider. When everyone under the age of 65 was having mini strokes over the Rolling Stones playing at  Arrowhead stadium recently I was pretending to be bummed out I couldn’t go when in reality I was mentally high fiving myself that I wouldn’t be sweating off my SPF and bug spray while surrounded by a collection of folks double fisting Lipitor and Bud Light.

I think my anti concert stance started with John Denver. He was my first. I was maybe 17 and was taken to the concert by a young man who ended up becoming a minister. (Back story: The best advice my mom ever gave me was, “Sherry please know that the good Lord never wants you to become a minister’s wife. No church is ready for that and probably won’t ever be.” I will confess that when she said this it hurt by feelings. Now, years later, I realize the tremendous wisdom in her words.)

This sweet, devout boy was a huge John Denver fan and loudly belted out the lyrics to every song. I, being more of a Bee Gee’s girl, barely knew who John Denver was and found the whole sing-a-long to “West Virginia mountain mama” a little uncool. I mean, come on, I was rocking big 80’s hair. I needed a song that matched my do.

My next concert was Billy Joel. It sounded great, but I couldn’t see the stage due to the thick wall of smoke from all the various forms of incendiary devices being lit up and inhaled. All I could think about was how bad my hair must smell. (Yes, again it’s all about my hair.)

Then, as we got into the 90’s all the concerts become multi media extravaganzas. This is when I had to start a mantra. It was “don’t look at the screen, look at the stage.” I did this because I wound find myself staring at the Jumbotron all night and I would harshly scold myself that I paid all this money to see a performance on stage not gape at the mother of all TV screens.

But, I think what really put the final nail in my concert coffin was my daughter, Isabella. I totally enjoyed all the Disney Princesses on Ice events and nothing says family bonding like an evening spent at My Little Pony Live! You would have to be a gigantic grump not to be visibly moved by Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash finding the true meaning of friendship through sharing bedazzled accessories.

It’s when Isabella entered the boy band period of her life that my desire to ever experience a huge concert again was killed. The 2008 Jonas Brothers concert in Sacramento was her gateway drug.

The event was held outside in an amphitheatre and the Jo Bros were wearing leather pants. All I could think about was why would their mother let them get on stage in leather. It had to be close to 100 degrees out. They should have been in some nifty cargo shorts or something.

After that I endured a slew of concerts. I was doing all right there for a while. I could still muster up what it took to get through what was essentially a couple of hours of elementary school girls screaming non-stop. Earplugs helped a lot. Then in July 2010 Justin Bieber came to the Sprint Center and my life was forever changed.

I have no doubt that one of the circles of hell is a Justin Bieber concert. For hours, even before the “Beebs” came on stage females were screaming, sobbing and in one case passing out. It felt more like I was at the largest Pentecostal revival in the history of mankind than a concert. I even had a middle age-ish woman sitting next to me who was weeping because she was so excited.

At first, when I saw the tears I turned to her and screamed, “Yeah, I totally get it! I want to cry too! This is crazy! The things we do for our kids, right?”

She looked at me and yelled so viciously, I feared for my safety, “I don’t have kids! I’m here because I loooooove Justin!”

I considered for a second if my $20 commemorative Justin Bieber program would make an adequate self-defense weapon and then I put my earplugs back in, scooted as far away from her as I could and made a solemn vow to never, ever attend another concert again.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

Summer Bragging Rights

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 10.44.05 AMOne of the downsides of raising kids today is that parents have turned everything and I do mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g into a competition. For example, what do you call a second grade student who enjoys kicking a soccer ball and is half way through his summer reading log challenge? In 21st century parenting parlance that child is “gifted scholar/athlete.”

Still not catching on? Okay, let’s try another one. What do you call an 8th grader who babysit her siblings for free one night while her parents went to a movie and has twice volunteered at a food bank? Well, if you’re a mom with a delusional disorder that teenager is a “humanitarian.” All right, all right I’m exaggerating. She actually said with a straight face and to my knowledge she had not been drinking that her child has “humanitarian leanings.”

Once my son graduated high school I thought I had seen the worst of it. I mean really what is there to compete over anymore? Yeah, in a couple of years it will be all about who got into what grad school and in another ten years after that I have no doubt I’ll get accosted in the produce section at grocery store because some mom wants to gush about her daughter the neurosurgeon or her son the tech startup billionaire. (Dear Lord, hear my prayers. Please, please can I be that mom.)

But really none of that is a big deal because it’s not the day-to-day trench warfare that is parenting a school age child where everything from student of the month to getting the Sunflower citizenship award is plotted and strategized more meticulously than Eisenhower planned the amphibious D-Day invasion.

All this is why I was surprised and oh so very disappointed when I was introduced to the latest parenting brag for those of us with college age kids. The summer internship and/or job.

Unbeknownst to me now your kid just can’t come back home for the summer and have your basic, no frill, minimum wage job at a fast food joint to make some much-needed cash. Oh no, that is so, dare I say, common. For your child to be on the fast track to awesome he or she must be doing some sort of interning, job shadowing, profiling or apprenticeship.

What this really means is that you, the parent, will be shelling out thousands of dollars in transportation, lodging and food this summer for your child to go to New York, D.C. San Francisco (etc) so they can “work” for free. Now, while I have no doubt “valuable” contacts are made (as in you sure paid a lot for that connection) I must share that I think this all wrong.

The bragging rights shouldn’t go to the parents with the kid doing a “summer exploratory of Capitol Hill with the assistant to the junior legislative aid of a Congressional Representative.”

Nope, the “all hail my amazing child” belongs to the parent with the kid that has a super crappy summer job.

I believe there is nothing more beneficial to a college student’s education and future success than a summer job that sucks. Every human needs to, at some point in his or her life, work in entry-level positions in the food industry, retail, or do some hard labor.

In 1983 when my husband was a student at the University of Texas he spent one entire summer painting curbs at gas stations. The average heat index was 110. To this day he still talks about that job. He says it taught him to cherish the gift that is a college education and air conditioning.

That same summer I was working in fancy pants (literally) ladies clothing store. It had air conditioning, I’ll give it that, but the boredom was soul crushing. Not only did I spend hours hanging up clothes, steaming clothes and folding clothes I also had to wait on some seriously snooty women who were slobs.

There was this one woman who frequented the store at least twice a week and as she constantly stroked her, what Texas folks would call, Barbara Bush pearls she would demand a level of service that would make HRH Queen Elizabeth blush.

This woman would try on almost every item in the store and then throw all the clothes on the floor. You could even see her standing on the clothes she had tried on from the bottom on the dressing room door. Who stands on clothes and more importantly who stands on clothes that they don’t even own? Someone needed to call this lady out. I thought there’s a story for the local paper – former Junior League president who can’t figure out how a hanger works.

(To make a long story longer she came to mother’s funeral three months ago and when I saw her all I could think of was “Ugh, there’s Mrs. Pig Pen.” P.S. She was still wearing pearls.)

What I learned from that job is that I wasn’t cut out for any kind of career that deals with the public unless it’s me tattling on them. So, I became passionate about becoming a news reporter. (It’s the grown up and socially acceptable version of tattling.)

My son currently has a summer job working at a big box store. Everyday he comes home with a new story. The saddest one to date is when he had to mop “like pretty much all day.” His father and I just smile and tell him it’s character building. He doesn’t get what we’re talking about, but he will and he’ll be a better person, employee or perhaps future CEO for it.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

Dear Snarky – What Should I do About a Mother Who Cheated to Get Her Kid a Citizenship Award?

dear_snarky_logo-1Dear Snarky,

I know it’s summer but I’m still angry about something that happened the last day of school. My son is in elementary school and every year they have an awards ceremony. This year the same girl got almost every award including a citizenship award that you have to be nominated for by a school employee and a student.

Well come to find out the school nurse and the kid that did the nominating BOTH have family members that work for the winning kid’s dad. The mother of the student that wrote the nomination letter even said she was approached by the kid’s mom and was more told than asked to have her child write a nomination letter for this girl. She, of course, made her kid do it because she didn’t want any work repercussions.

I want to write my own letter to the school and point out the hypocrisy of their awards ceremony that they let a mom micromanage so her kid wins everything. My husband says to just let it go. What do you think? Shouldn’t I take a stand?

Signed, Still Angry

Dear Angry,

I’ve got to agree with your husband on this one. Move on sister and enjoy what’s left of your summer. This battle is not worth your time. The hyper controlling, manipulating, so her kid gets everything mom is a dime a dozen these days. You might as well be playing Whac-A-Mole. Once you take down one, another pops up.

In fact, by the time your kid gets into high school any award that is not validated by a third-party and is in no way connected to the school are the only ones anyone pays any attention to. For example, a National Merit Award based on scores for a test taken outside the school and tabulated by strangers in state far, far, away – that’s one you’ll be impressed by.

Yes, it’s sad this is the way things are now, but until parents quit placing their own self-worth and validation on the back of their kids I fear nothing is going to change anytime soon.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or leave me a private message on my Snarky Facebook page.

 

Vacationing With Teens – What No One Tells You

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 6.55.00 AMIt might seem like vacationing with your teenage children would be a lark, a breeze, perhaps even one of those golden moments in time when your joyous week of togetherness manifest into familial bonding heretofore only dreamt of or seen on your fakest friend’s Facebook or Instragram feed.

I mean how hard could it be? You’re passed the diaper years, the toddler tantrums, the preschool meltdowns, and the elementary school “Are we there yet?” mentality. You finally made it to the milestone of traveling with almost adults. Yippee! Right?

Yeah, I’d hold off on that yippee because it’s more like a yip. I have found that nothing causes a teenager (or their parents) to regress in behavior or temperament like being trapped, held hostage, (pick the kidnapping verb of your choice) with their family for days on end.

This is why I feel duty bound to share with other parents this helpful Teen Vacay Truth Guide for what to expect when you travel with your teenagers.

The fundamental truth of teens is that they stink.

Male or female there is some reek going on. You may not notice the extent of this stench in your roomy, well ventilated home. You will notice it after hour six in the sealed metal capsule that is your car. Every parent should enforce a strict “no shoes off ever” rule as it pertains to vehicular travel.

On my family’s last trip to Colorado the inside of our car was engulfed with a noxious fume so potent I felt woozy and nauseous. Even my travel size Gain Febreze spray couldn’t make a dent in eradicating the odor. As I was losing consciousness I wondered if this was the end. Was Interstate 70 in Western Kansas the epicenter for a terrorist chemical warfare attack? I believe my last words before almost passing out were, “May God have mercy on us all.”

It turns out it was chemical warfare all right. My son had placed his tennis shoes right under an a/c vent thus constantly re-circulating the reek of teen boy feet throughout the car. To this day he is not allowed to remove his shoes unless he’s outside and at least 500 yards away from any mammal with active olfactory glands.

 You will cry at least one time during your family vacation.

My preferred place to sob with abandon is while taking a shower and using a Hilton Garden Inn washcloth to muffle my weeping. It’s not that I have grown to hate my family or that my family is bad. It’s just that when you’re on day five of sharing a 325 square foot room with hormonally challenged life forms whose emotions are more mercurial than the 450 mile per hour winds blowing on Neptune and who eat Cheetos in the hotel bed, then wipe their day glow, Finding Nemo orange, Cheeto encrusted hands on the sheets and the last clean wash cloth you were saving for your upcoming bathroom boo hoo, well, it’s almost more than most mortals can endure.

Beware of the social or eco “conscious” that will magically appear during your vacation.

There’s nothing that ruins your vacay buzz like a teen deciding this is the time they are going to choose to change their life. I had a friend whose daughter last year, day two into the vacation, declare she was a lacto ovo vegetarian. She shared that she would not be eating meat, fish, and poultry including eggs and anything made with eggs.

Did I mention they were spending 12 hours a day at Disney World? The kid lived on frozen bananas dipped in chocolate from the Storybook treats cart in Fantasy Land. Oh, and of course, as soon as they got to the airport the daughter ditched her new “food life plan” and wanted Burger King.

In the but wait there’s more department, my 15 year-old-niece, while on a beach vacation in Florida, had an epiphany that humans were bad for the ocean and refused to partake in any sand or salt water activities. Sigh.

Do not attempt a tech free vacation.

Listen and listen well my friends. The tech free family vacation is a trap. If anyone shares with you that they had a life changing tech free trip with their teens please note that the only reason they are telling you this is because they hate you. I, because I’m not crazy, have never willingly attempted a tech free sojourn with my teens.

Two years ago, though, my family was trapped in the Sierra Nevada’s with nary a Wi-Fi or 4G signal for miles. And by trapped I don’t mean we were stranded on a mountain summit wrestling bears with our bare hands and contemplating which family member we would eat first if it came to someone making the ultimate sustenance sacrifice. No, we were at a very nice lodge that just happened to be at an elevation that rendered cell phones and other electronics useless. (Sadly, they did not share this little nugget of information in any of their marketing information.)

By hour five without contact from the outside world I feared for my family’s safety. I was going to kill them all, most especially my husband. He was reading aloud to us from a 1998 American Cowboy magazine that he found in the bathroom. I was this close to covering his clothes in bacon grease and suggesting he take a nice, long, solo hike right up to Grizzly Point.

You will think every member of your family age 13 or over suffers from some sort mental illness.

There are so many wonderful things about family togetherness. One of them is discovering new dimensions to each of your loved ones personality. Sadly, some of these discoveries will scare you. Two weeks spent driving around the East coast with my husband highlighted a latent tendency for hoarding. He couldn’t throw any food item away. Two lonely, ragged, cheese nips left in a box must not be tossed in the trash because “someone might get hungry on the road.”

My son frightened all of us with his Rain Man-esque quality for reciting great moments in early American history. He would not or could not shut up about battles, forts or the many moods of George Washington. I was this close to breaking out the Benadryl to take the edge off (I meant for me just in case you were confused).

My daughter completed the trifecta of crazy by insisting that we stop at every cupcake shop on the Eastern seaboard. Her obsession with buttercream still haunts me to this day.

So brave parents of teens stay stalwart in your everlasting dedication to the family summer vacation. You’ve got this. You’re now well-informed and remember it’s all worth it because you’re making memories that will last a lifetime. Okay, cancel that. That is way too much pressure. Let’s just say you’re going to survive it and the whole family will learn that there is no place like home where everyone can go to their rooms and ignore each another.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

 

Excuse Me But I Can’t See Through Your Kid

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.39.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 10.19.28 AMMost parents think their kids have super powers as in super smart, super athletic and well just to save time on this list take pretty much any adjective that would look good on a college application and put super in front of it. Bam, list done. The one super power I’m not buying is the whole invisible thing. No one’s child was born with a cloak of invisibility and yet many parents act like their kids are see through at events like theatre and musical performances.

I understand that parents want their children to experience something like the symphony, but there are common courtesies that still are in place no matter what the age. For example, no child should be allowed to stand up the whole time or do what I call the wander hike.

This is when a kid uses a venue for exploration purposes. It begins with what might, at first, glance seem like an innocent aisle saunter and then grows to include roaming the stairs next to the row of seats their parents are inhabiting. Once that trail is well-worn the intrepid adventurer starts a parade of bathroom visits so robust you begin to question the integrity of the child’s bladder.

Now while all this is happening the kid’s parents seem oblivious to the disruption of their fellow audience members’ enjoyment of the event. They act as if their progeny shares the same transparency as say Casper the Ghost. The very best you can hope for is for the child to get bored and proceed to play games on an iPhone with a screen bright enough to make the sun feel impotent.

When this happens I always feel I have only three choices: One is tamping down my irritation and pretending that it’s no big deal. Two, attempting to ever so discreetly get the parents attention with perhaps just the tiniest of hand waves (and I’m talking the complete hand no single fingers) and gesture that their kid needs to be corralled or three actually saying something. And by this I mean using your words via your vocal cords not coming home and going all cray on social media. Yes, Facebook is an all you can eat buffet for complainers, but more often than not moaning and groaning as a status update is not really accomplishing much.

Last week, I was attending an indoor musical and the aforementioned three choices were all swirling in the head as I was feeling crabby towards a family sitting in front of me. Two parents with a preschooler were allowing their child to not only do the wander hike, but also stand up in his chair and stare at me.

I gave it ten minutes to see if the parents would harness their collective brainpower and have an “ah ha” moment that their child was not made of glass.  After that I felt, based on my rising blood pressure, that my health mandated I do a little hand wave thingy indicating their precious gumdrop needed to attach his fanny to the seat.

Well, if that had worked I wouldn’t now be writing this so we all know the hand wave was a fail. This lead to me ever so gently leaning forward and sweetly whispering, “Pardon me, but I can’t see through your son.”  That earned me a searing look and then the mother told her son, “Honey you need to sit down because there’s a mean lady behind you.”

Whatever. All I cared about is that I could now see the stage. It was all-good until intermission when the dad saw me and began a beration oration for “interrupting them during the show.”  This stumped me to such a degree I was rendered mute until the mom piped up with, “We also didn’t appreciate you making our son feel bad.”

Okay, by now I was experiencing two emotions. The most important one was relief. Finally, I had something to write about for my column. Yeah, go ahead and roll your eyes at that, but hey it’s not easy finding something to blab about every week.

I was also feeling generous. I was going to use this as a teachable moment and reach out to these young parents. So, I replied, “I am so sorry I wasn’t trying to make your son feel bad. I was only attempting to awaken what must be very dormant parenting instincts.”

The dad looked at me like he wasn’t quite sure if I was insulting them. I took that as my cue to exit their range of vision. When the musical started up again the family was no longer inhabiting their seats. I guess they had figured out what I was talking about after all.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

Girl Problems

fdd1abf16e75f6f41ce7d828686e31b2All the recent gender news has me thinking why anyone would want to be a woman. The hard truth is it’s a brutal business being female and it always has been. I’m sure even Betsy Ross as she was stitching on stars and stripes was thinking “does this flag make me look fat?”

Just take a gander at the whole “body after baby” craze. It’s not enough to create a human being you must attempt to be gorgeous during the entire nine-month process.

You know what the biggest compliment you can get when you’re pregnant is? Weirdly, (at least to me) is that you don’t look pregnant. All hail the women at 32 weeks gestation who has a tummy bulge so insignificant that you would never guess she was with child but instead think that maybe she just ate a steak burrito at Chipotle. Yes, indeed my friends a mother-to-be’s goal is to have a stealth pregnancy.

Then after you bequeath the world with a new life the race is on eradicate any sign of a lingering maternity footprint because the second best compliment you can get is not a gushing “Oh my gosh what a cute baby” but an “Oh my God you don’t even look like you had a baby.” Sigh.

Now, I realize I sound bitter and I promise it’s not because I’m 168 months postpartum and still trying to lose my baby weight. (Okay, to be fair that might be a little bit of the bitter.) It’s just I’m so sick of the beauty marathon. Not that I’m competing in that race (let’s just say I’m on the injured reserve list because it sounds better than I quit), but I do have a daughter and it saddens me to see that this quest for female perfection is not abating in the least.

The most disingenuous is the whole “natural beauty” trend. Every time a magazine does a celebrities without make up pictorial proclaiming the “braveness” of these women for being photographed without cosmetics makes me want to scream.

One, the celebs maybe make up free, but that doesn’t mean make-ups “bestie” Photoshop didn’t make an appearance. And two, do beauty editors even know the meaning of the word brave? Brave is not the word to use for females who have just started having birthdays in the double digits being photographed without eyeliner.

This perfection phenomenon has hit warp drive with the “selfie generation.” Teenagers don’t just post pictures of themselves. They do digital surgery. Apps are used to whiten teeth, add false eyelashes, slim facial and body parts, erase zits, stretch smiles – you name it. After that you add filters and voila I almost didn’t recognize a picture my own daughter. My son recently joked that years from now anthropologists will have to use “un-digitizing” techniques to see what the humans of the 21st century really looked like.

Then there was that whole twining thing that hit social media. Just in case you missed it, and lucky you if you did, here’s the back-story. 26-year-old Rumer Willis, recent Dancing With the Stars winner, and daughter of 52-year-old actress Demi Moore posted a picture of her and with her mother on Instagram with the hashtag “twinning.”

In the photo they appear to be wearing almost identical outfits, glasses and hairstyles. This prompted a flurry of “twinning” pics of mothers and daughters on social media. Some were downright scary.

Moms just because you can fit in your daughter’s clothes doesn’t mean you necessarily should be wearing them. Am I the only person left who thinks dressing younger can make you look older? I’d like to gently suggest that wearing something called “teaspoon low rise shorts” from Abercrombie and Fitch is not for anyone who’s had their medically recommended mid-life colonoscopy.

I get it, we all fear aging, but using a physics formula (force = mass x acceleration) to squeeze your fanny into a piece of denim the size of a Brawny paper towel square is not the way to go. We need to kick it old school.

That’s right I said old, as in back in the day when the “I’ve seen 50 something in rearview mirror” females were revered for their life experience and wisdom (think the dowager countess in Downton Abbey) and not the engineering feat of harnessing their chest into a halter top.

By this I mean we should luxuriate in our awesomeness. Unencumbered from trying to constantly visually impress the world at large (not that I don’t advocate a superior moisturizer and SPF routine) and secure in the knowledge that we’ve still got it in all the ways that really count – savvy, smarts and swagger – we could take over the world. Who’s ready to join me?

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

Dear Snarky – The Hairy Back Man vs. The HOA

Dear Snarky,covered-in-back-hair

 I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or angry.  We recently moved to a new neighborhood that has a community pool.  My husband and I bring our two young daughters there to swim almost every day. 

 Yesterday we got a letter in the mail. It was from the HOA and it said that neighbors found my husband’s “excessive back hair disturbing” and that there had been “complaints.” The letter went on to request that in “the future he wear a “swim shirt” or some kind of “cover up for his upper body.”

 Yes, my husband is hairy, but he’s a MAN.  It’s never something that I think anyone has found “disturbing” before.  Should we just ignore the letter and go to the pool or buy a cover up for my husband? To be honest right now, I just want to move.

 Signed, Kathy

Dear Kathy,

First off, please know that I doubt any where in your Home Owners Association covenant does it state that furry men have to wear swim shirts.  So, your HOA can just shove it.  In fact, if I were you I’d take a razor and shave HOA’s Suck into your husband’s back (call it hair artistry) and then have him go the pool and do cannon balls.

Now, I know the chances of you actually doing that are slim to none so here’s some advice you might really use. Do whatever is best for your family. If you want to take a stand have your husband go shirtless to the pool and proudly celebrate his abundant follicle forest.

If this is going to make you and your  hubs uncomfortable and keep you away from the pool then buy a swim shirt and just be done with it. Or you can go to another pool where you don’t feel like you’re being judged and enjoy your summer. 

Now if you really want to make splash you could threaten your HOA with legal action. I’m no lawyer, but maybe you should file a civil suit for discrimination based on body hair. Supreme Court here you come!

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page. :)

 

I Heart Kansas (and Missouri)

KansasMissouriBorderWar*750*This is a something I wrote for the Kansas City Star about the Missouri/Kansas border “wars.”

I got my feelings hurt last week over something very silly – people insulting Kansas. Yep, I was offended that in a 12-hour period two people cast aspersions on the sunflower state.

One comment I was used to hearing. It’s the general “I hate Kansas” statement (which I’ve figured out in the five years I’ve lived here can only mean “I’m beyond jealous of your great schools”). The reason I let this upset me was because the person saying it just moved to KCMO from the East coast. How can you possibly hate Kansas? You just got here. What has Kansas in the 27 days you’ve lived in the Midwest ever done to you?

Then later that evening a woman tells me that she and her husband recently moved from Lake Quivira to Missouri because they didn’t want to “die in Kansas.” WTH? Does your life insurance pay out more if you take your last breath in Missouri? Are funerals cheaper?

Someone please help me out here. I’m confused because when I can throw a rock from my backyard and hit Missouri I just consider all of us wonderful Kansas Citians. In fact, if I’m traveling and someone asks me where I live I say Kansas City and that usually leads to a “What about those Royals?” follow up question. (How great is that? Yay Royals!)

It’s not that I begrudge anyone from taking pride in their state and being all rah-rah about where they live. I just think too much state pride can be a dangerous thing and I know what I’m talking about. I’m from Texas.

May the good Lord or Big Tex (the 55-foot tall statue that looms in all his glory over the State Fair of Texas) not strike me dead for saying this, but Lone Star state folks can be way too full of themselves. It’s one thing to be proud of where you hail from. It’s a problem if that’s the only thing you’ve got going for you.

I’ve witnessed this phenomenon almost my entire life. There are generations of families that don’t embrace dental hygiene or scholastic endeavors, but they’re way up there on a high horse because they all were born in Dallas County. It’s like being a Texan gives them a pass to not do much of anything because they’ve already achieved their dream – living in a state that doesn’t believe in zoning and development codes. (Don’t believe me? Go visit Houston.)

This is why I think all of us border folk need to do a We Are the World like event. You know a whole join hands, sing a song and eat some burnt ends thing to celebrate the awesomeness that is the greater Kansas City area. We could call it Love Beyond Borders or Borderless or we could be super hip and just call it B as in the “B Event” Seriously, why am I not party planner because I can see the entire event in my head? In fact, brace yourself for genius. We could have the shindig in the abandoned Hy Vee grocery store parking lot on State Line.

I can already smell the aroma wafting from the artisanal BBQ cotton candy booth. And what’s a party without a signature beverage? I suggest a craft beer for the event made from pasteurized Missouri river water and runoff from the Schlitterbahn in KCK. The beverage would be a vivid buff color (kind of like the mighty Mo after a storm) with a robust, almost tornadic head, a delicate sunflower scent with just a hint of hops infused funnel cake laced with a touch of the Quik Trip’s Rooster Booster energy drink. Can you say yum? (Or not).

Imagine throngs (or maybe a couple of Scout troops if you’re not a big thinker like me) of people holding hands across State Line celebrating the unity of Kansas and Missouri. Scratch that, I just got an even better, bolder idea. What if we have a wedding? Are you with me? I think you are because I feel like we both got this idea at the same time. What if Kansas and Missouri get married? Sunflower + Show Me = True Love Forever. The reception alone would be epic. And instead of wedding presents everyone would be asked to make a donation to their respective state’s road repair budget.

This way we would all be family. No hate just sweet, sweet, state-on-state love kind of like when the Royals were on their World Series journey last year. That’s when we were all proud, beaming, borderless, Kansas Citians.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)

 

 

 

All I Really Need to Know I Learned From the Airport

2012-11-15-20121115Travel_Infographic_Travel_Then_and_Now_FriendlyPlanetTravel-thumbIf you want to learn important life lessons all you need to do is spend some time at any airport. Consider it a course in Reality 101 where your classroom is the Southwest Terminal and your teachers are the educational stew known as your fellow travelers.

The first thing you’ll discover is that following directions is important and vital to your existence. You’ll also learn that a majority of the population can’t process information very well or as my son’s kindergarten teacher used to say, “everyone isn’t using their listening ears.”

I mean, come on, how many times do you have to be told to have your I.D. and boarding pass out to go through security? These instructions are not only on a continuous audio loop, but are on signage throughout the airport. Yet people are still stumped by this instruction and flustered to find out they have to dig out their I.D. to pass through stage one of the TSA experience.

Once that hurdle is successfully completed you learn the underrated, yet oh so very important, life skill that sometimes you are not an individual. You’re part of a herd. Most of us were raised to think we’re special, unique and one-of-kind. That’s all good until you do the death march known as putting your crap on the TSA conveyor belt. This is when you must do what everyone else is doing.

Don’t think you’re too important or too much of a free spirit to not follow the rules. Yes, you must remove your bulky sweater. No one cares that it was crocheted by Bakhankala tribal women and you consider it a hand loomed work of art that is much too precious to be shoved in an off brand Tupperware bin for a non stop ride through X-ray island.

All this “I’m special” behavior will accomplish is a disruption in the herd. Primarily because you will be slowing down the herd. Do not make the herd angry. Especially any herd member carrying a brief case and clutching a phone like it’s a primary source of oxygen.

Once you’ve finally cleared the security gauntlet and made it to your gate you will take a pass or fail test on patience (especially if you’re flying on American Airlines) because there’s always a chance your flight is delayed. You can either throw a fit or suck it up.

A person’s reaction to a time change in their itinerary is like an audible I.Q. test. If someone goes ballistic you know they’re an idiot with impulse control issues. Because if a flight is delayed screaming at a gate agent is going to be an act of supreme futility. They’re powerless. It’s like yelling at your television set because the your hometown baseball team is down in the bottom of the ninth inning. Your TV can’t control the outcome of the game and the airline employee at the counter can’t make the plane fly faster.

Your only choice is to accept that you’re trapped in the gate area that should more accurately be called a holding pen for humanity.  Don’t worry about being bored. This is when you settle in and observe the peculiar and sometimes disgusting behavioral characteristics of your fellow homo sapiens. Consider it an anthropology course and take notes under the heading – “Never Ever Do This.”

At the top of the syllabus is grooming in public. Here’s a quick pop quiz. Is trimming your fingernails acceptable behavior outside the confines of a bathroom? If you answered no give yourself a high-five because you’re smarter than three people waiting for the Frontier Airlines Flight to Phoenix.

Nail clippers are the ninjas of grooming implements. They should never be seen. Ditto for your nail remains. Why anyone would think it’s sanitary to prune themselves in public and then let their leavings jettison into the atmosphere for all to experience is beyond me.

I get it. Some folks, who pride themselves on multi-tasking, may be thinking, “Well I’ve already got my shoes off to go through security why not just take out my TSA approved nail clippers and trim that hangnail on my big toe.”

To these individuals may I suggest another mode of transportation that doesn’t require you to commingle with other mammals?

Alas, at least these creatures are using tools to trim their hooves. Prepare to avert your eyes as a man in a $1,000 suit uses his mouth to attack a cuticle and then spits it out all while taking part in a conference call on speakerphone. I hope you’re writing this down because it will be on the final exam – no one wants to hear your phone conservation.

I don’t care how fascinating you think you are being subjected to another person’s phone conversation is an auditory assault. For sure, I’ve make cell phone calls at the airport, but I, using the gift of sight, realize that I’m surrounded by other mortals and therefore talk in a moderate tone.

I don’t know why, but have you noticed that the people with their ears hermetically sealed to their phones at airports all seem to project their voices like they’re in a one act play? Forget Broadway if you want to see showmanship go to gate 34 at JFK on a Monday.

Let’s now move on to a life skills multiple-choice test. If a grown woman who is ambulatory, in seemingly good health, and is wearing fleece pajamas pants to the airport that are so long they’re getting stuck in her Crocs sandal she is:

A) Suffering from a crippling addiction to polyester fleece and rubber shoes

B) Just woke up from a slumber party at the airport

C) Given up on life

D) All of the Above.

If you answered D congratulations. Yes, all of the above are correct. Any healthy person over the age of 10 who can not sufficiently groom themselves, and by that I mean getting out of the p.j.’s when leaving their home, is indeed suffering from chronic life self-esteem issues and is in dire need of a fleece intervention which in my book takes precedent over a 12 Step Program for Crocs addicts.

Your airport class is now over. I urge you sign up for the “Boarding Your Plane” lecture. Don’t worry it’s not that hard. Everything you just learned has laid the foundation for success in this course of study.

The class will feature a shock and awe portion where you can behold people who can’t grasp the concept of how to properly line up to board a plane. Plus you can learn exciting aviation math. Here’s an equation for you.  A suitcase that can hold two months of clothes = not fitting in the overhead compartment no matter how hard a person attempts to cram it in there.

Air travel – where the learning never ends.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! :)