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Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Search for #Happiness

Yay. My daughter's home, which not only means we get an array of new shoes under the dining room table, but I now have a movie mate that's not a boy.

The other night she and I watched Hector and the Search for Happiness starring Simon Pegg. Hector, a psychiatrist who becomes disillusioned with his privileged clientele, decides to embark upon a research project to understand the roots of happiness. He makes many universally-observed insights on his journey including:
  • Many people think that happiness comes from having more power or more money.
  • Happiness often comes when least expected.
  • Happiness is being with the people you love.
  • The sun and sea make everyone happy.
  • Happiness is doing a job you love.
There were many more. But one observation that gave me pause was this:

Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.

I've always thought jealousy to be transparent. Kinda ugly. But if I'm being honest with myself, my inner chatter certainly isn't absent of comparison. Case in point:
  • How can she tuck in her shirt without looking 3-months pregnant? The bitch!
  • What's that smell in their house? Foreign, yet familiar. Oh yeah. It's the smell of clean. I bet they mop. Dust maybe.
  • Your kid got recognized at school this quarter? Really? Well, so did mine. In a way. I actually received two calls from the principal this year.
  • Their dog is so much cuter than ours. It even pukes cuter.
Oh my gosh. Now that I think about it, comparisons run through my head all of the time! Like when everyone else's food is devoured at a party, and I make my husband sick by forcing him to eat over half of my concoction. Or when someone is reliving their glory days as an athlete and the only thing I can think about is the swell time I had at piano camp. Maybe comparisons are inevitable! Methinks it's how serious you take them which can spoil your happiness. They can actually make you laugh–especially when you try to tuck in your shirt.

I'll end with one last, profound observation from Hector:

It's a mistake to think that happiness is a goal. 

Often we hear, "I'll just be happy when such and such happens." But why be dependent on something to achieve happiness? Isn't it possible to be happy right now? Even if your homely dog pukes on the carpet! At least you have a dog! And chances are he'll still love you after you express your disgust from the mess. And who can't be happy about a clueless dog?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

All Gender Restrooms

So yesterday I had the joy of chauffeuring Cole and his friend, Michael, to a soccer practice in Omaha. Fourteen-year-old boys are funny. Funny as in ha-ha. And of course funny, as in awkward. Of course, it's  a time of rapid development with their bodies seeming to mature much more quickly then their, well, brains. All the more amusing.

I gave the boys privacy by turning up NPR as they giggled about who knows what in the backseat. (I've heard enough of their astute observations on girls in the past. After a long day at work, I wasn't in the mood to step on my feminist platform and tell them a thing or two about respect and objectification of women.) Needless to say I shut my ears to their chatter of nice butts and whatnot.

About twenty minutes into the trip, I got that niggling on the bladder. Curse the 34 ounce Smart Water! Thirty minutes later, the niggling proceeded to nagging. Then! Like a breath of fresh air, a sign appeared:

Rest Area Two Miles

"Boys? Do you need to go the restroom before practice?"

Nah. They had issues to discuss. Places to see.

I considered holding it. For no more than a second.

"I'm going. I promise we won't be late."

After we pulled in, the boys decided to use the restroom as well. Everyone on the Interstate must've been drinking their Smart Waters because it was a rest stop abuzz. I dashed into the bathroom, relieved to find one open stall. Of course, it hadn't been flushed, but I didn't care. Time to do or die.

It was one of those sessions in which the quantity of urine astounded me. As I peed and peed and peed, I was vaguely aware of activity occurring outside the stall. Finally, the tinkle ended. I exited the stall to be greeted by the next person in line. Imagine my shock when it registered. I was facing Michael.

"Michael! What are you doing in here!"

For a tiny second, it occurred to me I might've been in the men's bathroom. Then Michael shrugged before heading into the unoccupied stall. Shortly after, Cole casually strolled out of another stall.

Okay. Why in the world are you boys in here?

"The toilets are flooded in the men's bathroom. We had to use the Ladies."

Unapologetically. Without reservation.

What if I would've been pooping?

"We wouldn't have cared, Mom."

Probably not. Fourteen-year-old boys. Nothing is sacred, and there's always a reason to laugh.

We walked back to the car. In all of the excitement, I realized I had forgotten the keys in the restroom. As I ran back in, I met another young unfazed teenage boy walking out. Unapologetically. Without reservation.

The more I thought about it, the more I found the entire situation hilarious. Even today, I laughed every time I thought about Michael's nonplussed expression while I nearly jumped out of my skin. In reality, the boys in the restroom were no big deal. After all, the stalls are private. I had not pooped. But as we all know, public, integrated bathrooms would never work as a long-term policy. Wars would be waged from raised toilet seats. I'm just glad I got in before they did.

Cole and Michael. Boys unabashed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


I once heard a comedian talking about swimming. When you're a kid, it's the greatest thing ever. You live to swim. Your parents take you on endure historic sites because you're ecstatic by the thought of a swimming pool. It's simply the greatest thing ever. Then you turn into an adult. Someone suggests swimming and you respond, "What? Swimming! Are you crazy? I might get wet!"

This sentiment overtakes me when it's rainy season. As we experienced a deluge of showers lately, I found myself sitting in my car longer than normal, strategizing a way into buildings as if the rainfall would harm me like a barrage of gunfire. Since the rain didn't let up for almost a week, I decided to change my sour, soggy tune and make a list of why rain is great.

  1. It allows me to catch up on some badly-needed television. (Netflix Flash: Cheers now trending.)
  2. It's conducive to naps.
  3. It keeps my house smelling all nice with Scentsy in my attempt to override the malodorous wet dog.
  4. It gives my son a job by spurring lawn growth.
  5. It makes it easier to pull weeds, theoretically. Theoretically, weeds would be easier to pull. I'll try this sometime.
  6. It makes me think about baking. Did I mention Cheers is on Netflix?
Obviously, I know rain is good. We learned of its goodness in kindergarten with that ever famous proverb: April showers bring May flowers. Deep down, I believe the catchy phrase was created as a way to tolerate with the inconvenience we feel when it begins to sprinkle. Who isn't prone to become out of sorts if the weather isn't exactly to our liking? And has the potential to derail a perfectly coiffed hairdo?

Farmers, like my hubby, will often say, "Why does it matter to you if it's raining or cold or snowing? It's my livelihood. It actually impacts me." Yes, that's true. I get that a farmer would be more sensitive to weather. But that doesn't mean I'm going to shut up on the matter. Nor will anyone! It's one issue that's not terribly controversial. (I'm not talking climate here.) Can't find any common ground with someone? Bring up the weather. It's always a popular topic. No matter what the spin.

In Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris,  Gil (played by Owen Wilson) tries to coax his fiance (Rachel McAdams) to take a walk with him in Paris. She declines because of the rain. Eventually, the engagement is broken off. (Not because of her unwillingness to go walking...) But at the end of the movie Gil runs into a different girl whom he has met on his trip. He asks if she'd like to take a walk with him, just as it begins to rain. He braces himself for a rejection when she says,

"I don't mind getting wet...Paris is the most beautiful in the rain."

I love that scene. It makes me think about things differently. Instead of singing "April showers...blah blah blah," I think to myself: Embrace the rain. Or whatever else comes my way.