The Countdown Has Begun

Tonight is the last time I will have to help at one of my kid’s schools. Ever.  EVER.  It’s the last event before Zombiegirl graduates and I am stoked that the countdown to June 25th has started.  We’re so over high school, this kid and I.  We can’t wait until this shit is over.

I’ve been a school mom for over 25 years.  I’ve served on the PTA, been class parent, fundraiser and chaperone.  I did my fair share as Girl Scout Leader (and GS parent, fundraiser, chaperone and cookie seller) and Sunday School Teacher/Youth Group Leader (and church parent, fundraiser and chaperone).  Sprinkle in soccer mom and dance mom and the resume is complete. I also managed to work a full time job and several part time jobs and ran several business in that time frame.

This is why I’m 80% gray.  This is why I have stress wrinkles.

But now the time I have left to parent this last child is dwindling.  I have this event tonight, then Prom then Graduation. My kid isn’t going away to college so I don’t have any crap to deal with over the summer and we won’t have to worry about plane and train schedules and meal plans .  I have to write a check for tuition and books and boom, my parenting responsibilities are practically over.

<Yippee>

I’m taking off the week after graduation and trashing the dining room with unfinished school scrapbooks and unfinished baby albums and tons of soccer pictures.  These will be finished and put away (or given to the proper recipient if they want them.  Probably not, I’m the sentimental one in my family.)  Once these two huge boxes of memories are out of my craft room I feel like I can start finding out what makes Mamasoo happy.  Sewing.  Playing with the grandkids.  Travelling.  Cooking.  Raising chickens.  Beekeeping.  Gardening.  Writing that damn book.  Renovating this damn house.  Finishing every last project I’ve half-assed or never finished because I just didn’t have the time.

June 26th is a day of Liberation.  This will be the day I get off Facebook.  No more fake friends because our kids go to the same school, or play on the same soccer field.   This will be the day we give up cable so we don’t watch the same crap over and over, melting our brains and eating into precious time that may be spent elsewhere.  This is the day I take back my life and allow myself to be a little selfish in my pursuits of happiness.

The countdown has begun.  Sixty days until freedom.

ETA: I was reminded at the event tonight that we still have to sit through the Spring Concert before Prim and Graduation. My gleefulness just fell a few notches… 

ETA again: I have to admit I skipped out on helping. We dropped some things off before the event and I promised to help clean up but by the time I dropped Utah off at her apartment and got back everyone was gone. Although I feel bad about not keeping my promise, I also feel slightly wicked for skipping out. Mommy guilt? Don’t know, don’t care anymore.

 

Easter Tide

I loved Easter when I was a kid.  My mom made sure I had a new dress, a fancy hat, lacy socks and new shoes.  Every year I got a new pair of  pretty white gloves.  My brother Robbie always got a new shirt and clip-on tie.  If he grew over the year, he got a new suit, or at least a new vest.  Mom was always dressed pretty and Dad looked so handsome in his suit.

The year Mom and I had matching dresses was heaven.  Navy blue with white daisies.  I thought we were The Shit. (I didn’t actually think those words, I was seven and didn’t say the word “shit” until I was 14.)

We always got up early to go to the 6:30 am service.  I didn’t like that part- it was as bad as getting up early to go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and standing there freezing for hours.  Fond memories now, but at the time it was torture, especially the years we had snowstorms or it was an early Easter and it was freezing.  Poor me in little white shoes walking through snow.  I felt so grown up the year Mom let me wear tights.  It was cold that year too.

We sang Easter songs in school- “Here comes Peter Cottontail” and “Easter Parade”, songs I’m sure they don’t sing nowadays.  Teachers asked us to bring in ribbons and scraps of fabric and things to decorate our fancy hats and it was a stroke of luck if you could get your hands on some plastic or fabric flowers to glue to the brim.  We paraded around the school for our parents and we got to keep the hats.  We thought we were pretty enough for Fifth Avenue.

When I got older, I used to make Easter Egg treasure hunts for my brother.  I would put clues in the plastic eggs leading him from one hiding place to another.  When we were done, we would get our Easter baskets- pink plastic for me, blue for him.  We would get a few handfuls of candy that would sink to bottom of the basket so we would have to dig through the Easter grass to find them.  Chocolate rabbits and toys and stuffed animals and later on, makeup and small pieces of jewelry- my parents always knew what we liked.

Dinner was always at my Great Grandma’s house in Richmond Hill (and then later in the retirement village out East).  Grandma and Aunt Marion always had bowls of candy on the end tables and we were allowed to eat one piece before dinner.  It took an hour trying to decide which piece to eat. The kids (my cousins Tracy and Craig, my brother and I) would play in the yard or do gymnastics on the furniture.  When they lived in the retirement village, we would be allowed to go for walks and look at the statues people had in their yards (ducks dressed up in raingear, dogs with bunny ears).  Before dinner I would help set the table, taking the plates from the breakfront that now stands in my own living room.  I learned to set a proper table, fold napkins and which fork to use under the watchful eyes of the Arfmann womenfolk.

As I got older, these traditions carried over into my own family.  We got up early for church, the girls always had pretty new dresses (my mom insisted) and I did treasure hunts with eggs for the girls.  We took the girls for bunny pictures, went to the neighborhood egg hunt (and started it early the first year we went.  I got a little excited and shouted “GO”, lol).  I decorated the house for days, helped decorate the church and made sure the girl’s Easter baskets had everything they liked.

When we started going down to Grandma Jo’s house in Hilton Head for Easter, the celebration didn’t stop- the Easter bunny came to South Carolina and left baskets there and we attended early morning service on the beach.  One year Grandpa barbequed and it was different and wonderful.

Easter was always a big deal.  I loved the hymns and the service was so special.  “He is risen, Hallelujah!”

Because I no longer subscribe to an organized religion, the past few Easters have been very low-key.  I found a nearby church with my friend, but I’m hesitant to join and get hurt again.  I go when I feel I need uplifting or if I need communion with others. I didn’t go on Easter morning because I was scared it wouldn’t be “my” Easter service, the ones I’m used to.  Silly, I know.  I would rather live with good memories than try new experiences.  It’s just something I have to work out after my stint at St. A’s.

We didn’t even get the decorations out this year.  Beena and the grandkids went down to Florida and weren’t going to be back for Easter.  Only Utah and KevKev and his brother came for dinner and MR had to work. Dad went to Dorothy’s house and spent Easter with her family. Zombiegirl is 18 and doesn’t get a basket anymore.   We colored eggs after dinner ON Easter.  It was so different than the holidays of my past.  But that’s okay.  I feel recharged.  I have tons of ideas for when the G-kids come for Easter next (even if it isn’t on Easter Sunday.  They’ll be older and our traditions will be a blast.

And by then I may be able to set foot in church on Easter morning.

Easter Parade

by Irving Berlin

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.
I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade.
On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the girl I’m taking to the Easter parade.

 

 

F*CK YOU Friday

It’s been awhile.

The company has decided to sublet our suite so that means the occupants have to relocate.  Moving on up from the 2nd floor to the 37th floor, and not happy about it.  One step closer to management’s watchful eye.  Crappy area with broken desks and high traffic moving past the cubicles. Sharing copy machines and pantries and bathrooms with strangers.  Riding the elevator to the 37th floor, inducing ear popping and cab shaking.  Steps away from the annoying business manager I deal with (and actively avoid) who goes on and on and on about the most mundane things.  Sitting directly in front of the woman who needs to be on conference calls eight hours a day.  Loudly.

I know, I sound like a spoiled brat.  Sorry, but it’s hard to give up this little suite of heaven.

On the flip side, the 37th floor is temporary, for about a month.  And the views are spectacular.

When I moved over here from 299 Park, I had nine boxes and various drafting paraphernalia.  I got my box count down to three boxes and a snake plant going to 1285 AoA.  When we found out we were moving, I took one file drawer a day (when I went in) and weeded out stuff I didn’t need.  What broke my heart to throw away was all the hand drafted work I did 18-20 years ago before I had AutoCAD.  There really was no use keeping those- the spaces I redesigned have been reworked dozens of times over the years.  This bank is not the same bank I started with.

So I’m all packed up and waiting for them to disconnect me.  I don’t want to start anything work related since I may have to stop suddenly.  I’m a little angry and a little sad so F*CK YOU Friday has been resurrected.

  • F*CK YOU to Utah’s friends.  Only one of you showed up to help her move.  Instead, the two old people (me and MR) and the string bean weakling (Zombiegirl) moved Utah and her boyfriend into their new apartment.  Wth, where were all you strong, young friends?  You come around when you want to use the beach house, but skip out on helping your friend.  As KevKev said, we moved 40,000 of Utah’s boxes and yes, I felt it for a couple of days afterwards.
  • And a small F*CK YOU to Utah and KevKev.  You knew you were moving for weeks, yet you were still packing the day of the move.  You had permission to move stuff in before you occupied the place, but did you regularly bring anything over each night? Nope.  I heard the excuses, but really, you shouldn’t be relying on the 50+ year old people to lift all the heavy stuff and the 40,000 boxes you accumulated.
  • F*CK YOU to the polished women in my office-you have the worst bathroom habits. You dress well, your clothes are expensive, you comport yourselves professionally, so clean up after yourselves! I’m a schlub and I make sure I don’t pee on the seat or leave soiled TP in the toilet. Gross.
  • F*CK YOU to my internal thermostat.  I know, I know, I’m at that age where I should be fanning myself because of my hot flashes, but I’m not getting hot flashes- I’m just either very cold or very hot.  I put on a sweater when I’m cold and ten minutes later I’m sweating.  I take off the sweater and ten minutes later I’m freezing again.  Add that to the fact that I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in ages due to the furnace in my body.
  • F*CK YOU to my HR department, my benefits department and Obamacare.  I can’t go into it here, but I will say we got royally screwed and now I have to pay heavily for it.
  • F*CK YOU to the guy in the other department we deal with.  We created this procedure to make life easier for you and the businesses and to help with accountability and accuracy for us.  You obviously don’t like change but suck it up- we’re doing everything we can (not me, the programming people) to accommodate you but you’re constantly whining like a little child.  Your job is no more important than mine, do get down from that high horsie and deal with it.
  • F*CK YOU car salespeople.  I’m sure there are some non-slimy ones out there, but we haven’t found any yet.

I have more but the movers are here and I gotta go.  Have a good weekend.

 

 

Just Call Me Femke- Part 2

…and there I am.  My DNA. The basics of everything I am, handed down for generations.

And I am surprised.dna1

English! Scandinavian? IRISH?!?  And not a trace of Native American.  I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

I suspected the English since my grandmother’s maiden name is Hewlett and that happens to be a town a mere 15 minutes from where I now live.  Yes, we founded that town. No, we don’t have the Hewlett money.

Dad gave me a year’s subscription to My Heritage and I’ve been adding people practically daily.  Our family tree is up to 1625 people and I have connected with different people with the same links in their trees. The earliest I have been able to go back is a 16th generation Grandfather, William Pepper, born in 1458. It’s so exciting yet frustrating.  I try to go through every match (there are hundreds) to see if they are actually part of my heritage but it so slow going.  And I’m not getting any hits on any other branch of the tree- MR’s branch is withering and my cousin’s branches are bare. Eventually I’ll have to sit down with those sides of the family and pick some brains.

What’s really exciting (yet frustrating) is that I found my maternal grandfather.  He left my mom and sister when they were very young and my mom’s hatred of him was well known.  Nana married a nice man who also had a daughter (he died when I was two) so she did have a father figure around.  But I was always curious about the missing grandfather and I didn’t dare ask Mom.  Anywhoo, I found that he never remarried, did a stint in the Army, moved around a lot and died in 1991.  In Staten Island.  STATEN ISLAND, so close to me.  I could have met him, talked to him.  It makes me sad that a piece of me was taken and can never be replaced.

Back to the DNA test. If you can, have it done.  I believe it’s accurate because a third cousin of mine had it done and who was on top of the list for possible third cousins according to Ancestry?  That same third cousin who had it done as well. Our little DNAs were a match.

So there I am. I knew I was a mutt, but now I know what breeds make up my muttness.

I still like cornbread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Call Me Femke- Part 1

It seems that my whole childhood was a lie. Not the “Santa Claus is real” or the “Tooth Fairy put a quarter under my pillow”  type of lie that every childhood has, but a real identity lie.  One that may have led to ridicule (or may not have,  I was kind of a little jerk when I was a kid.)  One that gave me a sense of always being on the fringe of normal.  One that I didn’t realize until I’m older had left me with questions about who I really was.

In elementary school, starting in Third Grade, I took French.  I don’t remember why exactly I ended up taking French over Spanish.   Something about not returning the form on time, or my parents not having the foresight to see that Spanish may have been beneficial- I don’t know.  All I know is that I didn’t choose it.  I would never have chosen it.  My teacher, Ms. Nussbaum, scared the shit out of me.

French classes continued until Junior High School.  Maybe into High School, I don’t remember and I won’t bother to look it up. All I know is I can recite the “Solomon Grundy” poem in French and I know where my Aunt’s pen is. (It’s on the dresser.)

So, as they do to this day, language classes always hold “Cultural Fairs” and “Ethnic Feast” where the kids are supposed to bring in dishes native to their nationality.  I always dreaded those days (I didn’t know then what I know now, that ethnic food is DELICIOUS),I never ate a thing my classmates brought in.  Spanish food and Italian food and Jewish food and German food, ack.  Gross.  The most ethnic dish my family ate was lasagna, made with Ragu pasta sauce.  What did I usually bring in?

Cornbread. Why?

Because I was told I was part American Indian.

It seemed that this ethnic piece of my pie trumped my German piece of the pie (dad’s side), so no, I’m not bringing in Schnitzel.   We were half American (mom’s side) and a portion of that was Native Indian.

That cornbread was accepted in my lower grades because what little kid doesn’t like corn bread and Cowboys and Indians? But as I got older and brought in that pan of maize cake and explained that I was part Native American Indian, I started getting major side-eye from both my classmates and teachers.  When they asked what tribe I was descended from, I couldn’t answer.  When I pressed my mom on what tribe we were, I never got a straight answer. I stopped bringing in corn bread.

Fast forward a few years to Seventh Grade.  March 17, everyone is wearing green because it’s St. Patrick’s Day.  Not me, unfortunately.  I’m not Irish, I’m Protestant (Lutheran) so I’m not wearing green.  Here, my mom says, wear this shirt. It’s more suitable to your heritage.

My orange Tony The Tiger shirt.  Orange.

I know now that it’s not a slight to wear orange.  The Irish flag is green (Catholic) and orange (Protestant) and the white symbolizes the peace between them.  But I grew up in a working middle-class neighborhood in the 70’s and those Irish kids were listening to their Irish parents talk about the Troubles in Ireland.  I think if I was a boy, I would have been beat up.  Not that I wasn’t threatened or stalked or intimidated. There was no way I was taking the bus home that day.  I begged a ride from a friend’s mom and they went out of their way to take me home.

So I grew up “knowing” that I was 50% German, 50% American, which included American Indian.  I “knew” my mom’s side of the family founded the Long Island town of Hewlett because that was Nana Ethel’s maiden name.  I “knew” I wasn’t Irish (even though EVERYONE is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day).  I “knew” my ancestors came over on one of the ships soon after the Mayflower landed in America.

These are the “lies” I grew up with.  Not intentional, absolutely not.  Just repeated from generation to generation without a smidge of fact checking or research. And for the next 40 years, I was content to believe them.

It wasn’t until I started going to the cemeteries with Dad that I became interested in my family history.  When Joyce contacted me after coming across this blog post I became even more so.  When Sandy wiped out all of the family photos and I had to rescue them and started really looking at these people in these old photos and wondering how they were related to me, I was hooked. I had to know where I came from.  Who were my ancestors?  Where are those Native Americans?  How was I related to the Hewletts?

Thank you Ancestry.com.  And MR. And Zombiegirl and her quest for scholarships.

Last Christmas, MR gave me the Ancestry.com DNA kit.  He’s fully supportive of me finding out where I come from and what I’m made of.  I spit in the tube and mail it out.

Eight weeks later, I get the email I’ve been waiting for.  This is it, this is my past revealed to me.  I will finally get some questions answered and some facts validated. I can’t wait for MR to come home, I have to open it now. My hands are shaking as I click the email…

Ponderings

I wonder:

-what the universe is trying to tell me?  In the last two days I have been “followed” by Greek imagery (ATLAS Cleaners, a license plate that said GREEK2, a MEDUSA head vinyl sticker on the back of a Mercedes, etc.., etc.)  Today I was speaking to the new girl and I asked her what her last name was.  When I got home, I was watching some coverage of the rebuilding in Ecuador and the structural engineer’s last name was the same as the new girl.  I’m not talking a common last name, either. What does it mean? Synchronicty abounds. What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

-why it takes two and a half months to get an appointment with a new General Practitioner?  I need a family doctor, someone who can oversee my health, and this doctor came highly recommended.  I’d say-by the time I finally get to see her,  I’ll forget why I needed her in the first place.

-why the Catholic High School attended by some of my friends kids decided to name their sports teams after 12 Greek (there it is again) deities?  Isn’t that paganism?

-where my next desk location will be?  In the span of 19 years, I’ve gone from a private office to a shared office (which was a converted store-room) to a window cubicle to a non-window cubicle to a trading desk.  Everyone in my office suite has moved to New Jersey (not going there!) and I’m next to move out.  If my desk progression is any indication, my next location should be the coat closet.

-what the hell you were thinking airing out your dirty family laundry? You have already been pegged as the bad guy, that little stunt didn’t help.  Grow the hell up and shut the f*ck up.

-why my tolerance for sports parents gets smaller and smaller each year?  There should be a rule that spectator parents have to keep quiet, or maybe just yell “YAY” during a game.  Parents should not make derogatory comments about any child on the field and should keep their yaps shut about the coach(es).  The last few games I’ve had to say something to the parents around me about shutting up and it just left a bad feeling that I had to do so. I sincerely hope these kids don’t hear the comments when they’re on the field.

-why my 17-year old speaks in a wholly different language than us?  Words like “bling” and “dab” and “chill” and “squad” all have totally different meanings than what Webster’s dictionary cites .  Add the weird meaning slang to her mumbling at us and I’m ready to go get my Xanax prescription refilled.

-why, after all these years doing my job, no one has listened to me when I’ve said that the procedures to execute a certain report are repetitive, tedious and asinine?  Finally, someone has stepped up and agreed with me and since she’s in a position of power, can implement the change to these procedures, making my life easier and the reports more comprehensive.  Of course, she’ll get all the credit, the raises and promotions as well.

-why is the Sweeney Todd song “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir” on an endless loop in my head?

-when bloggers and social media mavens will stop calling their kids “littles”. It makes me as ragey as the term “kiddos” when referring to offspring.

-what this weird obsession older women have with dyeing their hair different colors. I’ve asked my kids to stop me if I ever express an interest to put purple/blue/pink streaks in my 60+ year old hair.  That’s about 10 years from now, if you’re counting.

-how much longer I have to keep this secret.

Anyone else wondering and pondering anything?

 

 

 

Insane In My Membrane

It’s said that each child gift their mothers with something to remember them by after they’re born.  All three of my kids left me little afflictions mementos that I still have to this day. All three pregnancies brought me up half a shoe size; now I wear a size 9 from a 7 1/2. Beena left me bulgy jelly belly that no amount of sit ups will erase.  I’ve been doomed to wear “mom” jeans (no low cut for me) for almost 30 years.  Utah left me with a streak of gray hair going down the middle of my head when I was a mere 27 years old.  Over these last 26 years, it’s been creeping and growing, but I have had a lot of fun playing with different shades of Clairol.  And dear Zombiegirl left me with rosacea on my cheeks and a propensity for sinus infections.

Doctors have told me to avoid sun, alcohol, spicy foods and stress in order to tame my rosacea.  Pfft, ain’t going to happen.  I can live with the rosy cheeks in order to enjoy a cold beer and Mexican food on the patio of our beach house.  Stress is unavoidable- I’m a mother commuting to a stupid job in New York City.  Tell me how to avoid stress in this case, please?

The sinus infections are something different, though.  The day I delivered Zombiegirl, I’m pushing and straining, eyes clamped shut to help concentrate on getting baby girl out of me.  I feel something give in the center of my face and feel warmth flowing out of my nose.  I thought I popped a blood vessel and my nose had started to bleed, but then I heard the doctor exclaim “Oh my God” (WHAT?) and “I’ve never seen that color green before!” (WHAT THE F*CK IS HE TALKING ABOUT?).  MR leaned over and wiped the bright green goop of snot off my face- I gave birth to a baby and a sinus infection.

Said sinus infection garnered me a private room for a few days after Z-girl was delivered and I’ve been suffering from them ever since.

About 10 years ago, my chiropractor recommended using a Neti pot to help with the sinus treatments she was giving me.  I don’t use it regularly, but I should. Since it helps relieve the symptoms of sinusitis, it should also cut down on the amount of episodes I get.  I can count on one hand the number of colds I’ve contracted over the years, so duh, maybe I can lessen the amount of infections I get.

A little research on the web led me to the perfect recipe for a “Sinus Missile“.  MR and I have been using it for a few days and it really helps knock things loose and clear things up.

THE SINUS MISSILE

12 drops Rosemary Pure Essential Oil
4 drops Tea Tree Pure Essential Oil
4 drops Eucalyptus Pure Essential Oil
1/2 tsp finely ground pure sea salt(you can grind the salt fine in your food processor)
2 cups filtered, purified, distilled or previously boiled water

I doubled the recipe, put it into a sterilized jar and shook it until the salt dissolved.  We’re both rinsing 3-4 times a day.  MR has been against the Neti for some weird reason, but now he sees the light.  Whenever you feel pressure in your ears, face, behind your eyes or in your teeth, hit it with a sinus missile and get some relief.