It’s ok if you pretend you don’t know me

 

I’m not really sure what to do as I recently made it so that I can never show my face in my kid’s school again. This will most likely pose a problem for his upcoming band concert performance. And basketball season. And every school-related event ever over the next two years.

Here’s how it went down:

Parent/teacher conferences were last week. For the first time, my kid had to lead the entire conference while his teacher and my husband and I all sat around a table in his classroom. He was a little uneasy because, duh, but I kept telling him it was NBD. He can easily talk to his dad and myself. He can easily talk to his teacher. The conference was just combining the two easy-peasy interactions into one and he’d be totally fine.

On the night of the conference, my kid did his thing and it was great. Then it was time for him to go out into the hall while we had a few minutes alone with his teacher.

So he goes out through the classroom door and closes it. I start to say something or other to his teacher. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the door slowly cracking open. I decide my kid is trying to be sneaky and listen in, and in a clear, loud voice I shout, “CLOSE THE DOOR!” I mean, can you believe the nerve?

And then the door opens even further and a head that is not my kid’s pops into the classroom. To my utter HORROR I realize I am staring straight at the principal.

Yup, that’s right, I screamed at my kid’s principal and I cannot even convey to you how much self-control was needed in that moment not to vomit all over the table in front of me.

I look at my husband and I believe his reaction is best conveyed by this emoji:

Which was in no way helpful.

I panicked because, well, have you met me?, and screamed at the principal, “OH NO! YOU don’t have to close the door!” And then I think I actually cackled.

I looked at the teacher and was about to literally die where I was sitting, but instead of dying I whispered to her, “I can’t believe I just yelled at the principal!” to which she responded, “At least it wasn’t me!”

Again, not helpful.

It turns out the principal just came in to engage in some playful banter about both my kids who were sitting in the hallway. Instead of bantering playfully, however, I completely sullied my reputation, that of my children as well as the millions of generations that have come before me and will come after me. I am not even exaggerating.

So the next time you think you’ve committed a faux pas, please take comfort in the fact that no matter what you have done, it will never be worse than what I did on school conference night. And for those of you who I usually run into at school, I will see you after graduation.

 

I know you are but what am I…infinity!

Last night I finished reading the most FANTASTIC novel called Infinite by Jeremy Robinson. It contained all of my interests:

  • Cryogenic sleep gone awry (very awry, muwahahahaha)
  • Various references to Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise
  • Conjecture about what humans will look like thousands of years from now
  • A person who’s gone madder than Deanna Troi that time she lost her Betazoid telepathic abilities (if you don’t know by now that I’m talking about Star Trek: The Next Generation, then I can’t imagine we have anything at all in common.)
  • Science-y talk that seems to be legit but isn’t so hard that you need a Ph.D. in physics to follow it
  • Brains in vats! For the unfamiliar, there’s this philosophical theory about reality that proposes someone (who may or may not be a mad scientist) has actually taken your brain out of your head, placed it in a vat filled with life-sustaining liquid, and hooked it up to a supercomputer that triggers electrical impulses to make you think you’re actually feeling/seeing/smelling/etc. your environment. Basically, everything you experience is a simulation, and in reality, all you are is a brain in a vat! OMG!

I loved this book so hard that when I read the notes from the author at its conclusion, and saw that he was asking readers to post reviews because it would really help him out, I was all, “YES! I will post a review because this book is not only awesome, but I’d like to help a brother out.”

Then I got to thinking: A book review? I don’t know how to write a book review! Who do I think I am?!?

Then I got to thinking even more: Well, I have written five books. I think I’d probably be capable of writing a book review.

Followed by: Yeah, I can write a book, but a book review?!? That’s an entirely different animal! How long should it be? How much should I give away? How do you summarize over 300 pages of awesomeness in one compact blurb?

And then I wrote this blog post which is kind of a book review but mostly about my insecurities. Do with that what you will.

But the takeaway is — READ INFINITE! You will not be disappointed! (That’s my one-line book review and it really, really sucks. I’ll stick to my day job.)

Pee Wee image from Postimage.

 

I’ll take my movies without a side of zombies

I am psychologically, emotionally, and physically drained.

Why? Because of a stupid movie called Maze Runner: Scorch Trials. I just finished watching this abomination and it has put me into such a state that I am never sleeping again.

You should know that this movie is based on The Maze Runner series. Which was written for young adults. And which I have read. So you’d think I’d know what was coming and watching this movie would be no big deal because it’s for, you know, kids.

Nope nope nope. I guess the only thing I remembered from the series when I read it a few years ago was that there were a bunch of teenagers stuck in a maze. Apparently, I forgot that the book (and, consequently, the movie) contains all of my fears:

  1. People being chased.
  2. People being chased by zombies.
  3. People being chased by zombies while a building that they’re in is collapsing around them.

I do not watch zombie movies because zombies up the trauma factor of any said movie by one million.

For example, I like Brad Pitt. I enjoy watching Brad Pitt movies. Yet you couldn’t pay me to watch his movie World War Z because it is about zombies. Specifically, zombies chasing Brad Pitt, or so I’ve gathered from previews.

Imagine my surprise as I’m sitting there watching this movie and everything’s going fine until the first jump scare is a freaking zombie jumping out of pitch black darkness. Then more zombies jump out and there is a swarm of them. And then they start chasing everybody. For like two hours.

The entire time I am freaking SCREAMING, saying things to my husband like, “WTF I didn’t know this was a horror movie!?!” and “How are there zombies in this?!? I don’t remember zombies from the book…” and “Did you know this was about zombies?!? I didn’t know this was about zombies! I would have NEVER watched this if I knew it was about zombies!” in addition to, “I’m having chest pains.”

I mean, I was so freaked out before watching The Sixth Sense. On a scale of 1 to 10 of traumatizing me, it was like a 4, while Maze Runner is a freaking 27. How did this movie happen to me?

Only one good thing came of this. There was a surprise gun shot that nobody was expecting and as soon as the gun went off, I slid down real low into the couch in a nanosecond. It turns out that I have a kick ass gunshot reflex that would serve me well in a post-apocalyptic society. So there’s that.

Okay, seven hours to go until morning. It’s going to be a long night.

Image from Uber Humor.

 

 

 

European vacay

Last week, my husband and I took a trip to Berlin and Prague. We saw many amazing sites, like Checkpoint Charlie, the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War:

Like the place where the Potsdam Conference was held, where Stalin, Churchill and Truman decided the fate of postwar Germany:

Like these skateboards featuring characters from The Simpsons:

Like a park where 100 random peacocks were wandering around, squawking at little kids and making them run away and cry, which, I’m ashamed to admit, was kind of hilarious:

And we can’t forget this bicycle outside of a yarn store that was all warm and toasty in its knitted attire:

Not to mention the food, which was mostly this:

Let’s just say I ate a lot of sausage. And meat. So much meat.

But, surprisingly, what was most amazing to me wasn’t any of these things. It was something that happened to me on the plane ride home. For 18 long years, this one experience had eluded me. For a very long time, part of me wanted to dive headfirst into it, throwing caution to the wind, but the other part of me was, frankly, too terrified that I’d lose myself. Lose what made Meredith, well, Meredith.

But on the plane ride home, I made the leap. I did it.

Ladies and gentleman, for the first time ever I watched The Sixth Sense on the in-flight entertainment system.

Since the film came out in 1999, I was terrified yet strangely drawn to it. Was I going to watch a movie about ghosts? About a kid seeing dead people? HELL NO. I remember the previews on television would make me run screaming from the room.

But for some reason, on that flight home, something clicked. While I was perusing my movie options and happened to spot The Sixth Sense on the list, it just felt right. I was ready. And it was ready for me.

And…the movie wasn’t really that scary. I have no idea why for 18 years I’d built up this idea that The Sixth Sense was the most terrifying horror movie ever to be made. I mean, there was only one jump scare. ONE.

All those wasted years. And it took a journey across the ocean to another continent for things to shift in me. I am changed. And no one can ever take that away from me. Not even Bruce Willis.

A cautionary tale

 

My kid had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, which meant that instead of him taking the bus home from school, I’d have to pick him up directly. It sounded so easy. However, it was not at all easy and now that all is said and done, I think I’ve been added to some type of “crazy parent” list that the school district keeps on file.

Here’s what happened: I drive to his school to pick him up. I sign him out, wait in the cafeteria for him to come out, but he doesn’t. I realize after 10 minutes of waiting that he probably forgot I was going to pick him up.

No big deal. I go up to the guy with the walkie talkie behind the sign out desk and tell him about my predicament. He walkie talkies the office, and they go down this whole chain of command, the result of which is that (and this is where it starts becoming a big deal) my kid is already on the bus. It’s too late to pull him off because the bus is en route to the junior high, where it will pick up a whole other group of kids before bringing them all home.

Walkie talkie guy tells me if I hurry, I might be able to pull him off the bus at the junior high. I momentarily consider just meeting him at home and canceling his doctor’s appointment, but quickly remember who I am and that failure is not an option. I sprint out to my car and drive like a madwoman over to the junior high.

I try to turn into the parking lot when a police officer, who is standing in the driveway to the lot, shakes her head at me, indicating that I am not allowed to go into the lot. I roll down my window and tell her in my most desperate voice that I need to grab my kid off the bus before it leaves for its route. She says that’s fine, but no cars are allowed to go into the lot during bus pickup.

Exacerbated, I throw my hands up and yell, “So what do you want me to do?!?” Please know that I have never in my life been disrespectful to a police officer, but she is messing with my meticulously planned schedule and THAT CANNOT HAPPEN.

She tells me to go park on a side street. I sigh (loudly), and speed into the fruit store parking lot next to the school. I sprint down the sidewalk, where I see her waiting, and it occurs to me that I wasn’t very nice to her before and, if she wanted to, this could end very badly for me. So as I run past her I yell nervously, “MY KID IS IN SO MUCH TROUBLE! HAHAHAHAHA!” and she just kind of smirks but I know she hates me.

I get into the junior high lot and am immediately confronted with 35 buses parked within one inch of each other and they all look exactly the same. I take a deep breath and try to remember the number of the bus my kid goes on. Miraculously, I remember, and start running through the lot looking for it. Yes, there are middle school kids, many of which who know my kid, staring at me through the window thinking I am a complete lunatic, but I don’t care because we have only ten minutes to get to the doctor’s appointment.

I find the bus! I go up to the door and tell the bus driver that I need my kid! And she tells me that she can’t let him off without a school administrator present.

Without even answering her, I run over to the building and find some random guy who looks like he works there. I scream at him, “Are you a school administrator?!?!?” He tells me that he is not, in fact, an administrator, but he can call one for me.

I stand there in the lot and time is a tickin’. My kid is on a bus 15 feet away from me and the buses are about to pull out and I don’t know if the school administrator is going to come out in time for me to grab my kid and I seriously think I’m going to LOSE MY FREAKING MIND right there. I’m swearing in my head left and right as I’m scanning the 6000 kids who are currently exiting the school, hoping to find this mythical school administrator in there somewhere.

He comes out and approaches me. I’m so flustered, I can’t even get any words out. All I can do is throw my driver’s license at him and run towards my kid’s bus.

Well, in the end I got my kid off the bus. And I got to meet the junior high vice principal, who thinks I’m a lunatic. He spent five minutes on his walkie talkie verifying who I was, making sure I wasn’t some insane person trying to grab a kid, which, if you think about it, I totally am.

I got my kid to his doctor’s appointment on time, but AT WHAT COST?!? I think I need to bake pies for a whole bunch of people to thank them for dealing with me in my heightened state of anxiety.

I though the Hallmark Channel was supposed to make me feel good

I saw the most bullsh*t commercial this morning. I was doing my early morning workout while watching The Golden Girls on the Hallmark Channel, as I tend to do. (I know some people get pumped up for their workouts by listening to hip hop or something, but I prefer putting my YouTube workout on mute and watching back-to-back episodes of The Golden Girls and if that’s wrong then I don’t want to be right.)

Anyway, this commercial came on for a Hallmark original movie called Falling for Vermont. There was this voiceover that said, “Author Angela Young needed a break.” Then it shows who I can only assume is author Angela Young driving up to a bookstore in a town car, rolling down her window, and staring wide-eyed at the hundreds of people in line waiting for her to sign their books, as if she is so overwhelmed she is going to puke right there in the town car.

The scene switches to her talking to her agent/publisher/whoever manages her career after the book signing and it goes like this:

Professional book person: “Angela, your publishers are offering you a GIGANTIC bonus.”

Angela: “I want to go apple picking or carve a pumpkin. C’mon, guys, it’s fall!”

Again, quick scene change to Angela driving around alone in Vermont because I guess she ended up taking a break from her millions of fans and gigantic bonus. I think she crashes her car, loses her memory, and eventually falls in love with the small-town country doctor. Then it shows her bobbing for apples or some such nonsense.

So irritating. It sounds like Angela cannot handle being a best-selling author who makes huge amounts of money and has trillions of adoring fans (yes, I understand I am increasing her fanbase with each paragraph, but I don’t care). All she wants to do is go an a hayride.

Angela, I have a proposal for you: You go pick some apples and carve a pumpkin, and I will take over your book tour. I’m available to take the burden off for a little while, as I’ve been at the author thing for 8 years now and am just shy of attaining your level of success. I totally get how it might be stressful to be #winning all the time. You go run through a corn maze and I’ll take the reins. No prob.

Now THAT’S a movie I could get on board with. It could be this Freaky Friday kind of thing where Angela and I switch places. Hallmark, are you reading this? Call me! I’m open to a discussion.

And in case you’re interested in learning more about Falling for Vermont (as written, not the one where I’m in it via Freaky Friday voodoo), you can watch the preview here.

Panic Attack: The Junior High Years

What I have just been through. I can’t even. I think it’s pretty impressive that I’m even functioning in a close-to-normal capacity after the trauma that I experienced last night. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I attended a Junior High Open House.

Now, I don’t know about your junior high experience, but mine left something to be desired. Namely, a healthy self image. And now that I have a kid who is in junior high (WTF?!? How am I old and living in the future?), and I had to walk through his entire schedule and sit in junior high desks in junior high classrooms and…well, I don’t think trigger is a strong enough word.

It didn’t start out all that well to begin with. We had an extremely hectic day yesterday with orthodontist appointments and extracurricular commitments. I had to meticulously plan the driving situation down to the minute. I thought I had it all under control. I was able to feed the kids in the 10 minutes I had allotted for dinner before I had to leave, and I foolishly believed it was all good.

Until I parked at the junior high, got out of the car, and started heading into the building. I realized then that I had no idea where the hell I was going because we were to go to our kid’s first period class and I FORGOT TO BRING HIS SCHEDULE.

I frantically texted my kid and begged him to take a picture of his schedule and send it to me immediately. I was at his mercy. Luckily, he has a pure heart and sent it to me without question. He did not realize that he had such leverage at that moment that he could have asked for anything and I’d have no choice but to comply. As I write this, I could have guys digging up my backyard preparing for our new in-ground pool. I really dodged a bullet on that one.

I made it to first period and, once that was over, had exactly four minutes to make it to the next class. If you know me at all in real life, then you know that I am not late. Ever. And if I happen to be, I basically have an anxiety attack.

The halls were super congested with parents and all I wanted to do was get to the next class. They were not moving fast enough. I was screaming on the inside. So loud.

Language Arts was okay, as was Social Studies. My anxiety was slowly building just being in that place, but it was manageable. Until Gym/Health class.

All the parents had to sit in the Health classroom and the gym teacher stood up front and told us about the curriculum. She was a perfectly nice, lovely lady, but for some reason all I wanted to do was get out of there because I was scared that she’d force me to start playing some kind of sport and then I’d make a goal for the opposing team (that never happened; if I went to junior high with you, you are wrong, I never scored a soccer goal for the other team and you have a faulty memory).

And then the gym/health teacher told us that our kids would be learning about the human reproductive system and, as a result, would be watching the 1982 PBS production “The Miracle of Life.” I literally blurted out in front of 40 parents, “Oh my God. They made us watch that in health!” I am, to this day, scarred by that particular film. It shows a woman giving birth, and all I can recall are the screams from my fellow classmates as we watched every single part of a baby being born. In fact, the “miracle” in the title refers to the fact that I have children of my own, because I vowed on that day in seventh grade that I would never in my entire life put myself through that horror show.

In a daze, I made my way over to science class, then French, then math. I’m going to be straight with you: I almost threw up. All this talk about grades and tests and Bunsen burners was just too much. That, coupled with horrific memories of social pressure and peer ridicule, made me want to run away and hide in a closet. I think the 12 to 14-year-old Meredith lying dormant inside me has some issues that need to be addressed.

At least the Open House is over with for this year. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it next year. I should really be a mature adult and get over this for the sake of my kid and his education, but I don’t know if I have the mental fortitude. I guess time will tell.

 

 

Send me photos of cute animals in hand-knitted garments, STAT

This is the only thing that calms me these days.

There’s a lot of hate out there right now. My anxiety level is pretty much at DEFCON 3 at any given moment, spiking to DEFCON 1 at the top of every hour when I check the news headlines. It’s just relentless. Which is why I really don’t appreciate this one particular individual who is just adding to my stress and is close to pushing me over the edge.

Her name? Heather. From Account Services. This bitch has been calling me on my cell phone AND on my home phone for at least six months. And every time she calls me, it’s from a different phone number. Plus, she only contacts me via recording, so I can’t even scream at her.

Today I tried to call her back on the number that popped up on my cell phone. Instead of getting some idea as to which Account Services she was working for, I got another recording that told me that particular phone number was disconnected. What?!? I JUST got a call on it 10 seconds before. What madness is this? The entire world has gone crazy.

Okay, maybe I’m funneling all my rage towards Heather from Account Services, but she deserves it. I mean, if she’s not part of the solution, then she’s part of the problem.

Heather, if you’re reading this, PLEASE understand that not only do I have to worry about nuclear war, violent riots, and global warming on a daily basis, but I have to deal with you, chipping away at my sanity one phone call at a time. Please leave me be.

Image from Bored Panda.

Taking a walk on the wild side

We’ve been getting our fitness on here at Casa Towbin lately. And by “fitness” I mean taking a leisurely walk a few days a week after a filling dinner of, say, pasta and bolognese sauce. But nonetheless, activity is happening. It’s usually just my husband and myself taking the walk, which is nice, but I’ve noticed something weird with him on these walks. Shocker.

(On our walk)

Me: You know, if The Handmaid’s Tale ever happens in real life, you BETTER become a commander and you BETTER take me up the rungs with you. That’s the only way I would survive in that kind of world. I’m not saying I’d in any way be happy living as the wife to a commander, but I just wouldn’t make it in a Red Center, and if those are my only options, then that’s what I would choose.

My husband: Uh huh. (munching on something)

Me: Are you eating something?

My husband: Yeah. Want one? (He presents a handful of jellybeans to me, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.)

Me: You’re eating jellybeans on our walk?

My husband: Sure. I always do.

Me: Where do you keep them?

My husband: In my pocket.

Me: You’re telling me you shove your pockets full of jellybeans and eat them on our walks?

My husband: Um, yeah. Do you want one? Here’s a cinnamon one. I know you like cinnamon.

Me: That’s not the point. (Me, taking the cinnamon one because duh.) We’re exercising and you really shouldn’t be counteracting that exercise by popping jellybeans one after the other.

My husband: I don’t care.

Me: You’re an odd duck.

The next day he didn’t even bother to hide his stash during our walk. He literally grabbed a box of Jujubees and ate them one by one over the course of 40 minutes (we went on an extra long walk that night, maybe because he was thinking Jujubees are higher in caloric value that jellybeans? I don’t know how his mind works, to tell you the truth).

So that’s how we do fitness over here. Yes, “we” because I always eat the cinnamon jellybeans from his stash. Ok, and the toasted marshmallow. And 17 other flavors.

It. Is. On.

I am at war. At first I was committed to a relocation mission, but now I’m in full-on it’s-either-you-or-me mode.

Yesterday I discovered this guy on my tomato plant:

It’s a tomato hornworm and at first I thought it was kind of cute. A few days ago, I noticed that some of my tomatoes were half eaten, but I didn’t discover the culprit until yesterday. Yes, he’s big, but that sucker can blend in, unlike a wasted Donna Martin at the West Beverly Hills’ senior prom,  and I couldn’t spot him for the life of me until days later.

So yesterday I tried to do the humane thing. I didn’t want to kill him, so I attempted to remove him from the stem with a branch. And OMG I WAS TRAUMATIZED. Why? Because by accident I stabbed him and he started gushing green blood and THEN he got super pissed and tried to attack me. NO JOKE. He made this ferocious clicking sound and LUNGED at me. I had no idea caterpillars could attack but they do and, boy, do they go for the jugular.

Despite his violent attempt at my life, I was really upset that I stabbed him. I went to Plan B and cut the branch he was on off the plant. I moved him to the row of trees in my backyard and left him behind a weed where he could hopefully recover from his injury and perhaps escape being eating by birds. I checked on him a couple of times, and he seemed to be okay enough to devour all the rest of the leaves on the stem I clipped off, so I called it a day.

But TODAY I found another hornworm! Realizing I might impale him if I attempted to remove him, I went straight to clipping off the branch he was on. I guess he knew what was up because he started clicking at me. I carefully brought him over to where I had left the other hornworm, who was by now gone, and left him there along with a few more leaves to tide him over.

This is where my generosity stopped because when I examined the plant one last time I found four more hornworms. I was DONE. I tried to pry one off and he lunged at me like his countryworm, clicking away. I dumped him over the deck railing. The others met the same fate.

And I have to say: they deserved it because they freaking almost ate all my tomatoes and most of the tomato plant leaves and I am really, really annoyed. It could have been worse–I could have drowned them all in a big bucket of water, which is what one gardening website recommended. Hopefully word gets around that attempting to eat the Towbin tomato plant is a suicide mission and should be avoided at all costs.

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