Oh, no! There it goes, again! Whoooooosh!!

I’m talking about my motivation.  (Get your head out of the toilet. You know who you are.)

I’m beginning to wonder if I have enough motivation to stick with a plan this summer. I want to get up and take a nice long walk along the river each morning (that always gets me juiced), get some projects done and have an afternoon stretch or yoga class at the gym. But because I’m STILL recovering from foot surgery in December, a stretch class is all I can handle at this point, and it doesn’t do enough to motivate me to do anything but hang the banner for a pity party.

A couple of months ago, I started a “This Summer …” list,” and if you remember my obsession with list making, you’ll know it’s a doozy. It’s not long, just demanding; but, still doable.

  • Finish dual Italian citizenship paperwork. This should be a joy to work on but it is an amazing amount of paperwork and translating and phone calls to the police in every state I’ve lived in to get “criminal records.” Really? Plus, I’ve had four name changes (no, not all divorces, so back down) and need evidence of those. My husband’s filing for dual citizenship didn’t require all this. I guess if you have Italian blood in your veins, you’re cool, but if you had the audacity to marry someone with Italian blood, you must be a criminal/terrorist/muggle/dung pile.
  • Finish living wills. Yes, I know, this should have been done years ago. You’d think a 65-year-old would have enough sense to complete one of these before being carted off to the hospital door.
  • Empty bedroom #2. This sounds easy – just go move some furniture around. Not. This is in our walkout basement and has probably 30 boxes of lifetime debris to sort through and get rid of, one way or another.
  • Filing. This, too, feels like a lifetime of debris, but is really only four years worth. My file cabinet got buried in that second bedroom and I’ve been using boxes and whatever else I can find to “temporarily” store it. I love that word … temporarily; almost as good as *shoulder shrug* whatever.
  • Write a best-selling novel and publish it. Ok, this one has been on my list since I was seven, so it may get some work this summer but the best-selling/publishing part may be a ways off.
  • Scan pictures, health records, other record – where to? I have so many photos and would like to be able to take some of them to Italy in something lighter than a box that weighs 30 pounds. I’m still looking for the perfect way to do that. If you store them on a cloud, will that cloud still be there in a year, two, twenty? A thumb drive is out – it would take [fill in guesstimate here] of them. I hear a CD wears out in five years. Help! Any ideas?
  • Repot snake plant and “Mama Aloe Vera.” This sounds doable. The snake plant will be easy. “Mama” is more than 30 years old, huge, and extremely heavy and awkward to replant. But, she was a gift from the sister I lost, so I’ll manage it.
  • Last Pass. I got this program and just haven’t figured out how to use it. I do that a lot.
  • New desktop and laptop. Bet this one gets done first, because I love to research and shop and we definitely need to replace both computers.
  • Italian. Oh, groan. I haven’t studied my Italian in six months and I’m sure what I learned is gone, gone, gone.
  • Exercise/gym This brings me full circle to my healing foot and motivation. I haven’t a clue how to get motivated without a job (which ends June 30) or my morning walk, which has always been my way to jump-start a day.

I’m desperate.

And, to entertain you — probably only Carrie will be able to watch this — here’s part of the surgery I had, except that I didn’t have any bunions to remove and it doesn’t show the pin insertion – a 4″ pin was inserted through the top of the toe, through the bones, and into my food to stabilize the toe while it healed. Kind of an a la carte operation. At least this video has the decency to play jazzy music, until the part where they start drilling the toe. Guess they couldn’t find music for that.

La sua testa era completamente calva.*

We’ve been taking Italian lessons over the past couple of years, with the intent to throw some of it against the wall when we arrive in Italy and hope that it sticks. As part of that fantasy, I receive a daily “Italian flashcard” via email, which kindly gives me a useful Italian sentence, its pronunciation and meaning. I don’t always find time to learn a new sentence each day, but I keep them all knowing that someday my free time will catch up to me and I can study them all.

For instance, I know this will come in handy, “La causa del decesso non era chiara.” (The cause of death was unclear.) Part of our class homework is to email each other (in Italian) between classes to discuss things we find interesting. This was a huge hit on the email circuit. We sent it back and forth for two days, fitting it (awkwardly, yes) into polite conversations, until our poor beleaguered professoressa told us to take the week off.

Italian-Flashcard-studying-American rende asino di auto a Milano fontana.

Italian-Flashcard-studying-American turista rende asino di auto a Milano Fontana.

I’m always looking for catchy line I can use to engage an Italian in conversation and I think I could use this in the taxi queue at the train station, “Ci sono tanti canguri in Australia.” (There are lots of kangaroos in Australia.) I hear myself saying it – my pronunciation is great, actually, even if I don’t know what I’m saying - and imagine a fellow Italian-Flashcard-studying-American tourist turning to me with a big smile, happy for the chance to practice her Italian as well, offering, “La giacca era priva di un bottone!” (The jacket was missing a button!)

Ah! At last! A conversation! I reply, “Dove posso trovare il laghetto con papere?” (Where is the duck pond?) She replies with a wave of her hand to a nearby bar (coffee, not liquor). We are soul mates.

At professoressa’s suggestion, I’m working to string a few sentences together and find that several of these flashcards are potential candidates.

A friend says, “Avete voglia di conoscere il mio cugino? Ha trascorso sei anni in prigione. (Would you like to meet my cousin? He spent six years in prison.) To which I politely inquire, “Avete delle manette? (Is he handcuffed?) She says no. I smile and say, “Devo andare adesso. Le mutande sono bagnate.” (I have to go now. My pants are wet.)

Somewhere in Italy, I picture a couple of guys laughing their asses off as they write these flashcards. Spero che le mutande sono bagnate.

*His head was completely bald.






Totes amazeballs

A share from The Happy Hausfrau.

7 Things You Totes Need to Stop Saying if You’re Over 30 (Oops, There’s One of Them)

A lot of us are guilty of it. Especially those of us with teens, or tweens, or kids of any age who watch kid-centric television shows or who spend a lot of time on Instagram.

We start to talk like them. Words, phrases, the flotsam and jetsam of another generation’s vernacular seeps into ours and before you know it, we catch ourselves (or our friends) dropping these little beauties into everyday conversation, Facebook updates, blog posts and tweets.

Someone needs to step in now, and beg of us all: STOP IT. For the love of all things good and pure and age-appropriate, please stop.

totesHere are the things you need to stop saying if you are over the age of 30. Or if you have a mortgage, or a job that comes with benefits. Or if you have teens. Especially, if you have teens.

1. Totes. When used as an abbreviation for the word “totally,” of course. If someone approaches you on a rainy day and says “Hey, I love that cute, compact umbrella! What kind is it?” and you answer, “Totes!” it’s all good. But when you walk into the living room and announce, “Dinner is totes ready!” not so good. Please stop.

2. I know, right?? Last summer I spent a few weeks teaching preschool with a beautiful, tanned, Amazonian 20-something with a beach-volleyball player’s body. She was sweet, but answered everything with the words, “I know, right?” I’d walk into the classroom and say, “Holy crap is it hot out!” and Tall Tan One would say, “I know, right?” I’d say “Thank God it’s Friday!” and she’d look up from the Dora the Explorer puzzle she was working on and say, “I know, right?”

Yes, I do know. Right. Because I JUST SAID IT.

Now, despite my holier than thou approach to speaking, somehow this virus-like phrase started slipping out of my own mouth. I was horrified by the ease at which it popped out, usually in response to a friend’s innocent, middle-aged statement along the lines of “I’m so sick of peeing my pants.” Only I shortened it, and dropped the questioning inflection…and in my head it sounded more like a clipped, British, Colin Firth-ish “right, then” instead of the other way. My head was wrong. It still sounded lame.

3. Amazeballs And while we’re at it, let’s retire “amazing” for a while, too. “That pumpkin latte was amazeballs!” or “That meatloaf was amazing.” No. Nobody really needs to walk around saying the word “balls” except for gym teachers and coaches and boys between the ages of 7 and 15. And the word amazing has been stuck in my craw since my homegirl Nina Badzin wrote about how it’s being overused as a compliment. BECAUSE EVERYTHING ISN’T AMAZING. Sometimes it’s really good. Sometimes it’s yummy. Sometimes it’s just so-so. We have so many adjectives in the English language. Let’s dust some of the lesser-knowns off and use them for a while.

(And yes, oh the irony of the 47-year-old blogger using the word “homegirl”… I almost typed “home-skillet” which would have been even more sad. Amazingly so.)

4. Cray (Or Cray-Cray ). Crazy just sounds better. Or one of the ten million synonyms for crazy. I like a good “crazier than a shithouse rat” but I can’t say that when I’m surrounded by preschoolers. So I oftentimes use “whackadoo.” When I hear you say “cray” I think you were going to talk about Crayola crayons and had a brain freeze or else Robert Cray, who happens to be a pretty badass blues guitarist.

5. I Will Cut You/I Will Cut a Bitch No, you won’t. You’re sitting behind the wheel of a Honda Odyssey, you have groceries from Costco melting in the back and you’re in the parent pick-up line at school. You’re not a character in Orange is the New Black. You’re not going to be cutting anyone any time soon so please stop saying you will.

6. Adorbs Are you saying this with any sort of frequency at all? Are you 14 and talking about your BFF’s new Harry Styles iPhone case? If the answer to my first question was yes and the answer to my second question was no, then this word needs to stop coming out of your mouth.

7. Feels. As in, “This story hit me right in the feels” or “oh my feels!” or “so many feels”. You experienced an emotion. That photo session, the one where the guy’s wife passed away and he recreated their wedding photos with his toddler daughter? WE ALL CRIED. I cried like a tired baby on my couch for a good half hour. They caused feelings, not feels. See also: “I eat my feelings” vs. “I eat my feels”. Which one rolls off the tongue with more ease and less irony? No more feels. Please.

That’s all I’ve got. I was going to add that thing where people refer to cats as “kittehs” but that one is over now, right?

How about you? Any jargon that you wish would just go away forever? Or worse, that you find yourself saying out loud? Let me know. I’ll be over here eating these left-over holiday feels. They taste like snickerdoodles and ham, BTW.

This post originally appeared on Jennifer’s blog, The Happy Hausfrau.

Follow Jennifer Ball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/happy_haus

I feel like that grumpy-faced cat

By the way, I hate that stupid cat. But, one sentence in and already I digress.

I’m feeling grumpy because I just spent five hours (five!!) putting together two applications for jobs I’m pretty sure I don’t even want. Not pretty sure, damned sure. The five hours is the result of a 10-round, knock-down, drag-out fight with the stupid website (NeoGov.com) that was determined not to let me apply. My resume is done, my cover letters are almost rote by now, so all I had to do was answer three questions that were also terribly repetitive – about diversity, my ability to get play nice with others, and my ability to work independently. Both positions are actually with the college I currently work for – and I know most of the people involved in the hiring and work process. This all smacks of a trap to get me to work a real job again.

As I write this, I’m wondering if NeoGov wasn’t actually on my side, sending up multiple red flags about the insanity of doing your best to get something you don’t want.

What brought all this on was a conversation with the husband over the weekend in which he confirmed (for the umpteenth time, but which I always refuse to hear) that he wants to continue working until full retirement age – another five years. Given that my job ends June 30, I was planning to kick back, eat bon bons and watch Honey Boo Boo while I painted my nails.

Actually, I’ve been working to put my eBay business back together and had hoped to take advantage of the time away from a “real” job to concentrate on other stuff (If you read my posts you will know that I have a list of things I’d like to do that’s long enough to choke a shredding machine.).

Not a week ago, I was completely jacked up on the idea of being self-employed again, and now, I feel  …. guilty. I retired years ago and then finally went back to work on the advice of my therapist who thought I needed/still thinks I need human contact. Hmpff! Personally, I’m thrilled to talk with grocery store cashiers, people in the street (“Isn’t it a beautiful day??”) and any one else who comes my way. Isn’t that enough?

Off track, again. I retired early, several years ago, and then went back to work, part time, easy-peasy jobs. I survived but wasn’t really happy until I heard my current job was ending. Now, I’m feeling like I ought to be a trouper, ugh, and work until my husband is ready to quit.

Should I be feeling guilty about this even if no one is suggesting that I do? *sigh* I’m so tired of doing what someone else wants me to do or what I think someone else wants me to do. I’m fairly sure I came out of the womb saying that. Or, who knows, maybe I delivered in full grumpy-face.

Let’s take this to Common Sense Court.

They all try to put us down…

I’ve seen this before, some time ago, but when I ran across it again yesterday I was suddenly struck by the thought that it’s The Zimmers singing about me and my generation now, instead of The Who.

It’s entertaining to realize that as kids we thought we rocked the world, and we were blamed for the country’s social ills. Now we’re at it again, this time we’re blamed for ruining Social Security and Medicare and a slew of other things.

Every generation has something to be proud of, and something they wish would fade quickly into oblivion. Me? I’m sad we gave our returning Vietnam vets such an unconscionable “welcome” home. But, I take pride in being part of a generation that fought hard to end the war so no soldiers would have to go. Now? I’m sad many of us didn’t continue to fight for those same ideals, but I’m proud to be part of a generation that has made such a ruckus – at both ends of our lives.

So, sing it Zimmers! I’m off to join a picket line. I’ll be the one screaming “Hell no, we won’t go!” because I may be the last of a generation to remember a time without war.