Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tabula Rasa

Smooches with Aunt Dani

I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve - the pressure I put on myself to have fun nearly always backfires. For instance, one year I convinced my parents and best friend that we HAD to do the New Year's Eve event sponsored by the downtown association. We had our choice of free special events taking place all across the city, so we braved the frigid temperatures and waited in line for our top choice. After waiting and waiting and waiting, we were told the event was full. We repeated this cycle several more times before retreating to dinner at the only open place in town - the Sizzler buffet.

Still determined to have fun (damnit), I dragged the group to the last remaining event that wasn't full: open mic poetry at a coffee shop. We bit our lips in an effort to keep from laughing as bad poet after bad poet took the microphone and regaled us with their equivalent of Phoebe's "Smelly Cat." On the car ride home, we vowed "never again."

This past year, I decided to make my own fun by hosting a party at our new house. Never mind that we had a long list of boxes to unpack and renovations to finish, as well as a colicky newborn. The party was OK, but by the next morning I had worn myself down into a sad stump of a human being. I spent the day battling a second round of stomach flu for the month and watching a Jan Brady marathon. A horrible, horrible combination.

Despite my bad luck with the holiday, I do love the idea of New Year's resolutions. I love the idea that once a year I get a blank slate - a chance to upgrade to a better version of myself. (This may also explain my guilty pleasure - watching makeover reality shows. Don't judge.)

My track record with actually keeping resolutions is pretty poor. In fact, the only resolution I can remember keeping was the year I resolved to join my church's young adult group. I had just ended a two+ year relationship and was ready for a new start with new friends. The very next Sunday I sat down at my first-ever young adult brunch. A woman across from me leaned over and said, "You should meet our friend, Robbie. He's an engineer, so make sure to tease him about it."

Two months later we were married....so at least I kept the most important resolution.

This year my biggest resolutions are to 1) Be more positive 2) Be more patient and 3) Create a regular yoga practice. Pretty typical stuff I suppose, but I know the hardest one will be remaining positive. Unfortunately, this resolution was severely tested before I even got out of the gate.

On New Year's Eve this year, we were preparing to fly home from visiting family in Utah. We were exhausted from a week of trying to wean Fionn from nursing, only to have our progress destroyed when he came down with a severe upper respiratory infection and ran a high fever for nearly 5 straight days. Needless to say, my resolve not to nurse him quickly dissolved. (And now that I've backtracked, he's on to my evil intentions and wants to nurse nonstop all day, just in case I try weaning again. You can imagine how this is going to affect round #2.)

Fionn was finally on the mend by New Year's Eve and Emerson and I had escaped with only minor colds, but collectively we were still sleep-deprived zombies. I was also on edge before we even walked into the airport because my experience flying to Utah had been disastrous.

I had to go to Utah a week earlier than Robbie, so that meant flying alone with two toddlers. When we arrived at the airport at the ungodly hour of 5am, I found one open kiosk for check-in and a line that ran the length of the airport. Despite several efforts to make it work, we were informed that I could either get on the plane or check in my luggage, but not both. So I left everything with Robbie and rushed the boys through security, without a stroller since it had been accidentally left at home. The security guard stopped and informed me that I needed to take Fionn out of the sling, so I complied despite the enormous effort it took to undo everything while simultaneously herding a 3-year-old who was livid about having his shoes removed. Then the guard and her co-worker started in on the "Oh what beautiful white hair they have! Where did they get that white hair?"

I have never wanted to punch someone so badly. I kept explaining that I needed to hurry or we would miss our plane, but the guard informed me that we had to wait for a male guard to come pat down my one-year-old son. Then she continued to question me about their hair. Clearly frantic, I gave them the pat answers about albinism and then reiterated that I needed to leave NOW. They continued on about their hair and eyes, completely oblivious to my pleas. Finally, the co-worker realized I was upset and said to her friend, "Oh, you don't need a male guard to pat down a baby. Go ahead and do it." So the guard patted Fionn on the back once and then ushered us through.

By now we had four minutes to make it to the gate, which was all the way across the terminal. I asked the women if they could get a ride for us, and she smiled. "We don't have carts in this part of the airport. What did you say the name of their condition was again? Albino-ism?"

This time I ignored her, scooped up two children, two carry-ons, two pairs of shoes and ran as fast as humanly possible. We arrived at the gate seconds before the doors closed. Then we proceeded to wait on the plane for 45 minutes while they loaded the luggage - except mine of course. When the flight attendant lectured me for not telling him about the boys' peanut allergy soon enough (apparently telling them during reservation and check-in was not enough) and then he angrily announced to the rows around me: "You can't have peanuts as an option because these people have peanut allergies," I was teetering on the edge. One more event and I would've gone to a dark place - a place from which there is no return.

Anyway, this is all to say that I was less than patient on the ride home. When Robbie informed me that he had accidentally left his car keys (our only set) in his coat pocket and then put his coat in the checked baggage, I resisted the urge to freak out. True, I had warned him to empty his pockets first and he had ignored me, but what were the chances of that one bag being lost? Stay positive, stay positive.

When we finally pulled up to baggage claim that night, I breathed a sigh of relief as first one, then two of our bags came into view. Then the bags stopped coming. Our third bag, the one with the car keys, was no where to be seen. I thought to myself, "It's only New Year's Eve, so technically I don't need to be positive until tomorrow." Then I went ape sh** on my husband. A $60 cab ride later, we were home and I had settled down enough to ring in the New Year with my sheepish husband and two now-wired children (they slept for part of the plane ride).

The next day, I felt the sense of renewal I had hoped for. This was it - I was a positive woman from here on out. Look out world - there's a new Pollyanna in town!

Robbie had a plan to drop our spare car keys off at the airport so our friends flying in that day could drive it home for us. The luggage reappeared and was delivered to our house at the promised hour. Things were slowly getting back on track. Then I began to unpack the wayward bag, full of clothes my mother had generously washed for us. I felt nauseous and light-headed within a few minutes. A horribly familiar smell emanated from every article. Then I unrolled a pair of pants covered in wet stains - gasoline. Somehow they had poured gasoline all over a corner of our bag and then delivered the noxious-smelling package to our house without a second thought. "Really?" I hissed at the universe. "You couldn't even give me one day to gird myself?"

Luckily only one pair of pants was ruined, but everything had to be rewashed and the duffle bag thrown away. We called the airport and they informed us that if we wanted compensation, we'd have to drive the 40 minutes back to their office and prove it.

So we did, leaving a few of the worst smelling clothes inside as evidence. The man at the front desk nearly fell off his chair when Robbie handed him the bag, the smell was that bad. He wrote down a list of clothing in the bag, threw it all away, and then told us to rebuy everything on the list. We would have to submit receipts for the new items and within a month, a compensation check would be issued.

We kicked ourselves for not leaving all the clothes in the bag - or at least the crappy ones. But the next day, we started our shopping by going straight to J. Crew and buying two shirts for $100. Probably not a good way to rebuild my karma, but I was already feeling more positive.

So here's to a New Year, to taking baby steps toward a better me. I may not be Pollyanna yet, but there is still time and hope. And if all else fails, good drugs.


  1. I would be totally positive after shopping at j crew. Great idea and Happy New Year.

  2. Baby steps Bob! You have all year to get to Pollyanna. If by next new years you are a more positive person, it won't matter when it kicked in. I think people put too much stock in starting RIGHT AWAY, they get discouraged if it doesn't happen as the ball drops.
    And I would have kicked that flight attendant's a$$!!!

  3. Well usually after things like this happen I say...it can only go up from here. I now have learned that you definitely do not want to say that out loud because some force of nature will then do it's best to prove you wrong. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Tell Fionn that grandma is on her way next week and this weaning thing won't get the best of her this time.

  4. Cass, if you turn all Pollyanna on me I may have to take you off my friend list ;). I have a feeling most of us find solace and a "happy place" in reading your reality-bites thoughts...because, well, it's reality. But I lift my vodka-sodden glass to your efforts at better karma through meds...or not.