Was it fun?

The thing about taking a trip to Disney with the kids is that you have kids with you. Kids ruin everything.

My biggest crippling fear about this trip included the kids. How would they behave? When would they flip out? How long would it be before we were “Those parents”? You know…the ones with the screaming sticky kids who are screaming at each other about things like “Well…I never liked your mother’s meatloaf anyway!”

The goal was to A: Survive, B: Give the kids an enjoyable trip. Survival was always #1.

Shmuppie, until this point in her life was a ride wuss. She’d convinced herself that everything more exciting than the little cars that ride around in a slow circle would make her sick. My mother had done a great job convincing Moo she was afraid of the dark. So, things would be awesome.

So, we drove down…10 hours in the car with the kids and my mother in the back seat. Thankfully, we made good time and disgorged ourselves into the condo. Do you take a crock pot when you go on vacation? We do. We’d planned to manage the days so we’d be back in time for dinner each night. As much as I wanted to do 8AM – 10PM every day, it just wasn’t something we could do. We had a ton of food packed for dinners and lunches.

We’d learned on a trip in 2000 that the #1 way to waste time at Disney is to spend time eating. Lunch can quickly turn into a lost hour and leave you nearly $100 poorer. Nope. We’d done our best to convince the kids that this was for the best. They had to play along if we were making this trip; we’d skimp on some things and splurge on others. Hot dogs were not a splurge item.

Sunday rolled along and we set out for our first park day…and promptly fell flat on our faces. The tickets were a pain in the ass to use (I’d bought them from a discounter) and Moo was overwhelmed. We started at the Magic Kingdom and it was just too much for her. She started shutting down within minutes. By the 2nd ide, we were in “combat the tears” crisis mode. We recovered with minimal blood loss but started realizing just what we were dealing with. This trip was to be about her pace; no one else’s. We regrouped, split up and managed to have a full day at the Magic Kingdom. We even got Shmuppie on Space Mountain. That was good because there were plenty of more thrill rides to go and we didn’t need 2 toddlers on our hands.

We even managed to hit EPCOT at the end of the day and had fun there. By 9:00, JewelrySlut and I had fed the family and were sipping pink wine on the condo’s screened-in porch.

Monday’s biggest success was me not vomiting on Mission Space. JewelrySlut and I rode the crazy version and I walked…nay I staggered off the ride and had to lie down for a while. Shmuppie was a pain in the ass, but it wasn’t a horrible day. Plus…EPCOT 2 days in a row. Pink wine was consumed in celebration.

Tuesday was the make or break day. Shmuppie was feeling sick with a head cold. I was ignoring the cold I was developing. And…it was Animal Kingdom day. Fucking Animal Kingdom. We were out of there by 2:00, hot, sweaty, cranky and snotty. We’d lost Moo and Shmuppie was grouchy (albeit understandably). We needed to rescue things fast.

You realize when you see your 4 year old light up at the sight of Fantasy Land why people will spend everything they have to go to Disney. We let Moo run amok in the Magic Kingdom for the afternoon and rode all of the rides she liked. We turned disaster into success with a trip on Small World and Dumbo. We also found that $10 is NOT too much to spend on a caramel apple.

Wednesday was arrival day for the other 2 and also a planned off-day. We needed a rest mid-week. We had a character breakfast and did some shopping. It also poured all afternoon. Wed gotten lucky with the weather and everyone relaxed. Once Grampy and C arrived, JewelrySlut and I left. We’d prepared dinner for the group and went on a Disney date.

We spent the evening in EPCOT having drinks in a few countries, having our traditional pre-fireworks dinner and enjoying some peace. I wasn’t lugging around a 40-lb backpack and we had no kids with us. For 4 hours, we were on our honeymoon again. Then, because we’d snuck in the park’s back entrance at avoid the $14 parking fee, we got lost finding the car. We went to the wrong hotel’s parking lot and I actually had to ask a hotel staffer “Where am I?” They understood…the 2 hotels look nearly alike and sit side by side. Getting lost was fun.

On Thursday, we hit the Studios. JewelrySlut and I had a good time with Moo. We took her to the kiddie areas while Shmuppie, the grandparents and C did the action rides. We met up for some of the shows and had a nice morning and afternoon. Grampy was grumpy. Because my father is a moron, he purposely brought brand new sneakers on the trip. He did this so we’d be able to make fun of him for doing so. As if we needed a reason. His feet hurt. The kids were not done so we went back to EPCOT…because why not! We bribed my father with beer from Mexico and had a nice late afternoon walking about. We were back to the condo for dinner and bought the kids a rotisserie chicken that they ate poolside. Pink wine.

I think Friday was the day that we walked 11 miles. We did the Magic Kingdom and, everyone with me now, EPCOT. We managed to get Grampy all the way to Germany for his beer on Friday. It was a long day and longer evening. My darling parents decided to start bickering at dinner and my father stormed off to bury his head in the USA Today. My mother one-upped him by spontaneously developing a migraine. YAY! It was a terse and tense evening. Saturday was gonna be fun!

Saturday was our anniversary. JewelrySlut and I wanted to revisit our commemorative brick and have a little alone time in the morning. Of course, my parents were not speaking and my mother was wrecked from her headache. YAY! We went anyway because we wanted to and didn’t care about the rest of them. The older kids ran off on their own with $100 from me burning a hole in their pockets. Moo and the grandparents did their thing. We regrouped a few hours later to shuffle along while my mother slowly died. It wasn’t a very fun day, but we did get beer in Japan that had a foam ice-cream topper on it. Beer ice cream! Yay beer!

We survived the week and nobody got too injured. The weather cooperated and everyone (mostly) got along. I did declare on the way home that I needed a full year of non-Disney trips to recover. This was not a vacation; it was another week of work in a different job. We all had a ton of fun, but it was not relaxing at all. Me being me, I was hooked to an iPhone all day judging line times, scouting maps, and herding the masses. JewelrySlut was trying to keep everyone from killing one another. Was it worth it? Yes. Moo’s face on the kiddie rides and Shmuppie getting to enjoy the thrill rides…in a huge sombrero made it worth the hassle.

We’re going back next year.

Who are we? We’re not the Millers…

Before I bore roughly nobody with a tale of a trip to Disney that, at one point, had my mother lying on the floor of the Canada movie, you need to know who went.

It’s been a while. We’re not the droids we used to be.

Me: Well, I’m still me. I’m an asshole albeit one with less hair than the last time we spoke. However, I’m an older asshole…not to say I’ve grown up…simply older. I’ll be 40 in a few months and while this doesn’t scare me into the whole “Ermahgerd I’m old” way at all, it’s something to ponder. I usually don’t have time to ponder it because I’m too damn lazy. I’m just trying to do my thing and wring a little joy out of life (man…this whole “get back into writing” really is showing off its dark side, isn’t it?).

Let’s face it, 2013 really sucked ass and I’d like to move on. So, here I am. Nearly 40, bald, high blood pressure, generalized malaise.

I like to think that I look more like this:
run

But really, it’s more like this:
crazy
This is who led the troupe south for a week. Shackleton I am not.

JewelrySlut: We remember her. Sassy, potty-mouthed, oh so tolerant… Well, she’s still many of those things but a little more tired around the edges. Having 3 children will do that to a woman, especially when one of the children is a nearly 40 year-old bald asshole. She’s now a Zumba lady and got her license in 2013. So that’s cool. She likes it and is good at it so why not try to make a few bucks doing something you like. Beats sitting here writing this shit.

She likes to think that she looks like this:
hat
Mostly she feels like this
finger
Shmuppie: Remember her? My little pants-crapping spawn? She’ll be 12 in a few months and is in the 6th grade. What now? She’s a budding soccer star who is learning the ukulele. She’s a good big sister. Howevah…she’s got the common sense of a sea cucumber. She also has the hygiene of a 14 year old boy. This is a kid who, when given $100 for the day in Disney, came back with a 6’-foot wide sombrero and asked me to hold it for her.

Sometimes, she can be this.
J 1-20-14
Mostly, she’s this
J hat
Moo: Well…then there’s Moo. She’s….well…she’s hard to define because if she didn’t look like her parents, we’d be convinced she belongs to another family or another species. This is NOT her sister’s sister. For all the jock that Shmuppie always was, this is the family princess. This is the spitting image of her mother. This is what happens when the 2 of them spend a LOT of time together. It’s not fair to me. She’s got every single nuance, eye roll, glare, mannerism and body language her mother has.

She sees herself as:
moo1
We see her somewhere between here:
moo2

And here:
moo choc
This group got in a car and drove 500 miles in September. We all made it home.

It’s about a Mouse

Last September, we had to do it. One can take one’s children to the beach only so many times before they start chanting like deranged lunatics about what they REALLY want to do. So, we did it. And it wasn’t too bad.

We did Disney.

We’d been holding them off for a while because we’re of the mindset that if you take a toddler to Disney, you’re a fucking lunatic. Taking kids…taking ANYONE there is a chore. But a slobbering pants-crapping kid? No thank you. I’ll handle those 2 areas on my own thank you very much.

Like all things, we planned the trip. My parents belong to a timeshare thing. They bought it in 2004 for reasons unknown and have been adding points to their account at a pace unknown to mankind ever since. They’re all platinum level and have 80,000 points per year to play with. What does 80,000 points get you as a platinum member? Enough to spend 8 weeks in Hawaii in the high season in an oceanfront deluxe condo.

Or…it’s enough to buy a resort in the Disney area.

Over the years, whenever they didn’t’ know what to get us for any occasion, my parents gave us “a week of points” knowing damn well we’d never use them. So, while we had probably 4-6 weeks of points in our Christmas stocking, we had never cashed them in. Now was the time to do so. But, we did so with great trepidation because nothing in this world is free. I tried to convince myself that we could stay on the grounds in a discount hotel. I tried…and failed. We were stuck.. Basically, we couldn’t NOT ask for the points because we’d be in BIG TROUBLE if we went and didn’t use the points.

So I asked. In a “Well…if you have any extra points available and might be able to spare them, and it wouldn’t be too much trouble, we’d be really grateful if we could have some points…but really…only if you have plenty to spare”. They said yes. I was only using like 1800 points so my father laughed at me for even asking.

Then it was time to pay. “So Mom…do you want to come too?”

JewelrySlut and I cringed as she said yes. We’d discussed this too and knew that this was, at least, a double-edged sword.
Pros: We had an extra adult and could split the kids up and handle them separately
Cons: Have you met my mother?

We booked a 3BR condo and bought the admission tickets.

And wouldn’t you know it, as we got closer to the trip, the other shoe fell. JewelrySlut and I are not stupid; we were ready for these shoes because we KNEW this was coming.

“Your father wants to come too. “

Of course he does.

“And, he can come mid-week and bring C”

Of course he can.

C, you see, is Shmuppie’s best friendboy. We’re not allowed to call him a boyfriend. He’s a friendboy. So, why the hell not, let’s take a family vacation for 4 and turn it into a 7-person circus.

We has some old passes that we hoped my father and C could use.

So, we had quite a mission on our hands. We had 2 kids to deal with all week and then a cranky old man and another kid arriving on Wednesday. To say nothing of my mental state in 2013; this trip could not have come at a worse point in the project schedule, but I didn’t care. I was going away for the week and the world probably wouldn’t spin off of its axis. But, fingers crossed!

So, that’s all you get for now.

Though, the week down there led to this picture
1240173_10201638564461885_1935338952_n

No, I didn’t win a lamp

I can make excuses all day long. Fuck you and fuck me and my excuses.

Here at the Big Red X, they nominate people in the North American Delivery Organization for recognition. I don’t know how many people there are out there who do what I do either directly or tangentially, but it’s a monstrously large beast that, for the most part, excels at doing things piss-poorly.

So, one can be nominated as being especially delightful or something. So, in 2013, 350+ people were nominated. About 170 got recognized. So, if you get nominated, it’s a 50/50 shot you win. And you win a gift card for $175. That strikes me as an amount that’s odd as fuck, but what do I know (or care).

I won in the 4th quarter. Yay me.

I also learned I was nominated in the 3rd quarter but didn’t win. Boohoo for me.

Here’s where it gets fun. Of the 170 or so winners, they pick 8 for the year to be recognized as being especially awesome.

Guess who’s awesome?

So, I get $175 and “receive an invitation to a recognition dinner and an overnight trip with a guest”. I’m not sure if I get the trip paid for, but I do get a shiny invitation. Knowing my luck, the dinner is at a Cracker Barrel in Hickory NC.

Am I ungrateful? You betcha. Know why? Well, here’s what was said about me.

“Robert worked untold hours with great personally sacrifice in support of XXX” (FANTASTIC typo left there on purpose)

Here’s what my most recent boss said about me (I say “most recent” because I’m now on my 7th boss in the past 30 months. Yay for reorgs!)

“You met the challenge and exceeded where others failed. I could not be more impressed that you worked tirelessly (sometimes 12 and 16 hour days) to make that account successful, there is no quit in you.”

So…if I understand, all you need to do to win an invitation to dinner is be willing to put your life on hold for a year and sacrifice your happiness, your health (physical and mental) and the overall well-being of your life and family.

CHECK!

Because that’s what I did and that’s where I’ve been since September of 2012. I’ve been in a hole working to set every record for performance that our organization has. I didn’t eat right, I didn’t run enough (getting bitten by a racist dog didn’t help), I drank WAY too much (and that’s coming from me), I didn’t sleep well and I was a more insufferable asshole than I normally am. And, it seems that, in order to get your boss promoted, that’s what they expect from you.

My direct team is down to 6 people. We used to have a dozen. 6 have quit because this is such shit. And before anyone tells me to get off my ass and do something…I’m trying. I’m actively looking for new opportunities both in side of and outside of the company because I need a change. As I told people this morning, I’m tired of having to implement other peoples’ bad ideas. I know I can do it and I want to do it…my way.

Anyway…I want to do more of this in the coming whiles. I promise to try harder at writing. Maybe it will help me get out of the funk I’m in.

Here’s what we look like now.

1231429_10201650442758835_1588483101_n

Captain America to the rescue. You suck. – incredipete

Big Trouble Again

I wonder if I possess the strength to beat my head against my desk enough to actually give myself a concussion. Because, I could use one right about now.

We’re in trouble with my parents again. What a shock.

This is why:

For her recent birthday, Shmuppie wanted to see a Mudcats game with the whole family. So, all 6 of us went…and the rain started. The game was eventually called when local animals and fat people started lining up 2 by 2 in the outfield.

From what I understand, JewelrySlut and I were not pleased enough to see my parents. They apparently felt slighted.

Let’s see. We were standing in a damp, cold, concourse, watching Moo run amok while waiting for Shmuppie to blow a gasket because her birthday was rained out. And, we’d gone out to lunch and were full. As a result, we weren’t our usual beer-guzzling selves.

When they finally called the game, we decided NOT to go back the following day because my parents could not make it. They’d been sniping at each other all day about power washing. In fact, when they called that very morning, neither had wished Shmuppie a Happy Birthday. They had taken turns complaining to me about the other. We decided to go this coming weekend.

We also mentioned that we were making the birthday feast on Sunday. Shmuppie had requested Korean-style pork and BBQ fixins. We didn’t invite my parents because we were pretty sure they would not eat what we’d made. It is a tad on the odd side.

MISTAKE!

Time pasess…

Now it’s Mother’s Day weekend. My mother had invited Shmuppie up to MD for the weekend to watch by brother and SIL run in one of those Tough Mudder things. We reminded them both that it was Mother’s Day weekend and that, perhaps, Shmuppie should stay home. No harm, no foul…as far as we knew.

So, on Mother’s Day, the 4 of us went to brunch at a dim Sum place (yes…we are total food snobs). Since my parents were away, we never mentioned it to them. Even if they’d been home, we would not have mentioned it because they’re not quite the chicken feet and pork bun crowd. We called when we got home and left a message (confirming, to us, that they were not home). They called back at about 6:00PM and missed us because we were walking to a nearby store to get some bread (man…we just sound like awful foodies here. Then, I jumped in my Hybrid and joined the Occupy Movement). They left a message and we all moved on.

Or so we thought.

On Monday, I went to St Louis and Shmuppie started a few days of her End of Grade Exams at school. And, bedlam ensued at home.

Still…as far as we know…all is well.

Then it started.

I had posted pictured from Shmuppie’s birthday dinner, including the nifty ice cream cake JewelrySlut had made. My father mad his monthly visit to FB and commented on the cake picture. He said how much of a shame it was that, despite living only 6 miles away, they could not share such a special occasion with their beautiful granddaughter.

Ah…the passive aggressiveness of the NoGoodFamily has now come out.

In fact, a FB friend messaged me to say “Wow…you’re in trouble now”.

Now we know we’re in the shit…we just haven’t realized how deeply we were. By mid-week, my brother had posted a message saying that he was ready for his mud run.

Oh. Fuck.

My mother had the weekends wrong (shocking) and they had been home for Mother’s Day…and we had ignored them.

JewelrySlut and I could sense the cloud of bad hanging over Raleigh. So, on Monday, I had Shmuppie call her grandparents. She missed them and left a message. My mother called back and got me; Shmuppie was outside playing. I could tell that she was pissed but, in typical fashion, wasn’t saying anything. I confirmed that we were on for Saturday’s game and was told to call my father.

I emailed him (not wanting to do this over the phone) and we got a long reply this morning outlining all the bad things we’d done (as shown above). He suggested that we all get together so JewelrySlut and I could explain why we were acting the way we were and explain why we had so many problems with them.

Allow me to also mention that, recently, we switched from AT&T back to Time Warner for our internet. That’s not an important detail other than to say that we were able to reactivate our old TW email addresses. Guess whose mother has been emailing her daughter-in-law on the unmonitored email address for some time now. And who is unhappy that her daughter-in-law’s been ignoring her through email and not responding to invites for social gatherings. Yup…so we’re in trouble for something we didn’t even do or know that we didn’t do out of no fault of our own.

In essence:
They watched the girls in April while we went away: something they offered to do and strongly suggested. We have not appropriately paid them back yet
We were not happy enough to see them at the rainout
They did not come over the following night for dinner or cake
We didn’t do anything on Mother’s Day
We just suck, in general.

This is how it goes; they offer to do something and we accept. Then, we are not made aware of the strings that are attached and end up in trouble for something we didn’t know that we did or didn’t do.

They fester.

They fester some more.

We go on with life trying to maintain sanity in the face of what goes on at our house from 5-9 every night (utter chaos).

They fester some more.

Then, they start sniping.

You’d think that, at any time in the past 3-4 weeks, they could have called to ask what was wrong; why we weren’t happy enough at the game.

No…they prefer to let it build. I’ve actually been told that I’m supposed to call them when this shit happens because, as the son, it’s my responsibility. As I’ve said “I’m supposed to call you because you’re mad at me about something I don’t even know about”. Yes. That’s how the parent-child relationship works.

Maybe they could have called for Mother’s Day to see what was going on. No, that’s MY job. I’m supposed to coordinate all holiday gatherings. I didn’t even try this year because, as far as we knew, they were not at home. I didn’t think to call them earlier in the week to make sure that their schedule hadn’t changed. I’m gonna have to take a hit for that; for not checking up on their schedule.

JewelrySlut will take a hit for not taking the girls to their house the day after Mother’s Day. The kids didn’t need to say goodbye to me before I left for the airport; that was not as important as seeing my mother.

However, whenever they decide it’s time to talk, I think JewelrySlut is gonna blow. I try to keep her from these sit-downs because they just end up sucking.
But she’s had enough.
Enough with them creating these scenarios where we’re the bad guys.
Enough with letting these things stew.
Enough with the online troll attacks.
Just enough.

Whenever this powwow happens, it should be buckets of fun. We can either just accept the blame for everything and roll over…which will give us 4 months until the cycle starts again or maybe everyone can agree not to do this anymore.

I doubt that will happen. We’ll just start the cycle again. The only problem is that, with every cycle, my scar tissue builds. I’m tired of this and really have next to no patience for it anymore. I wonder how badly I need to have my parents involved in our lives. With more of these episodes, I’m going to wonder if I need them at all.