Alexa, How Do You Pack a Bag Near Toddlers and Grandparents?

Here's something no one tells you about kids. You absolutely cannot pack for a vacation when they are within 5 miles of the suitcase.

I have yet to devise a system (other than handcuffing them to the back door) to prevent things from being removed from the suitcase. Back when I was an amateur, I would arrive at our destination only to find that the underwear I packed was missing but now we had a toilet brush and 7 boxes of tissues, should we need them.

I become my own version of TSA now while packing. I watch the bag like a hawk to make sure nothing unnecessary goes in and nothing necessary comes out. If I even saw a tiny hand near the bag I swatted it away.

This past weekend, we headed north to see the parentals and my brother. I, of course, had to work. Because this is my lot in life. The second I get in the car to go anywhere out of town, two things inevitably, always, without fail, happen:

1) It begins to pour rain. (Torrential storms cued up for real when I hit the South Bronx.)
2) Someone needs to buy a house.

There is no cell signal at my parent's house. But if you sit by the front door you can get one bar and make a call if you don't move your head too much. Since it was 20 degrees, going outside wasn't an option. I'm talking to my client's lender to get the final info I needed to put in the offer and in the kitchen, my brother says, "Alexa, what's the weather?"

Allow me to digress about Alexa. Two or three years ago, the very same brother told me that this was the next big thing and I should buy it when my chance came up. Since I'm a whore for anything Amazon, since he's usually never wrong about these things, and since I am also, apparently, a sucker for getting in on something exclusive, I bought it.

Ours is defective. No. I take that back. Ours sucks.

Me: "Alexa, what's 2 plus 2."
Alexa: "You wanted to hear songs by Lionel Richie"
Me: "ALEXA WHAT IS 2 PLUS 2?"
Alexa: "Playing songs by Lionel Richie"

I mean, it's like this all the time. If I didn't occasionally ask her to blast Guns N' Roses on those rare moments when I'm home alone, I would smash her head like Telly Savalas did to Talking Tina. (If you haven't seen that episode of the Twilight Zone, you are missing out.) There are times when Real Estate Dad and I are watching TV and Alexa will just start talking. Sometimes she tells herself jokes and then gives the punchline. I don't get it. I'm also 99.9% sure she is listening to us and reporting to google.

Back to the parentals. I'm trying to get a contract done there's my brother, asking Alexa stupid things I can answer because I JUST CAME IN FROM OUTSIDE! I know he is trying to prove to me how useful Alexa is. Clearly he hasn't had to contend with the likes of ours which failed out of 3rd grade Alexa-School. I start screaming at him to make Alexa shut up because I can't hear anything. And the loan officer I'm speaking with starts laughing hysterically.

"You must be talking to your brother?"

Aren't all family gatherings like this?

And then, Monday came and it was time to drive back to DC.

We stayed in a hotel. So we checked out of the hotel. We go to the parentals and there are several tiny shopping bags, waiting by the front door for me, filled with all sorts of things. And this, my friends, is where it all goes downhill.

"Here are the paintings you wanted. Oh, do you want these blouses? Just cut the shoulder pads out. These flowers are for the girls, they asked for them so I made them for them, they can keep them in their room. Do you need a thermometer? How about these calculators, can't the kids use them for school? What about the donuts? Here, your brother got these for the girls."

Then there's me. "What paintings. No one wears blouses anymore. The girls don't need fake flowers, they have enough junk. We have a thermometer. No calculators - they're 3 and 5, they can't even write much less use a calculator and no the donuts are stale and they don't need the sugar for a 5 hour ride back home and I specifically told every one of you in October no more stuffed animals because the girls are overloaded."

I couldn't move fast enough. Most of that stuff ended up in bags anyway. Every time something else was dumped on me, it went into a little bag. What. The. F. I was unpacking tiny bags and tossing crap back in their house like a game of hot potato.

And then I said what I always say when I'm 7 minutes out from leaving.

"If you don't stop dumping stuff on me every time I come here, we're not going to come back again."

But we'll go back this spring. We always do.

Ā 

The School Thanksgiving Feast

M's elementary school does a cute little performance of all the Kindergartners and then we have a feast with our littles right after. The parents sign up for various food items. The person who signed up for plates and napkins was 15 minutes late which was mega-annoying. My excuse is that the corn, that I also signed up for at the last minute, wasn't cooperating.

I'm unsure how I managed this, but inside the pot where I was steaming the corn, there were frozen kernels and burned kernels. Only me. Pulled it out of the pot and put it in the microwave and that wasn't working either. It was a miserable failure. I took what was passable, left the rest on the stove and hoofed it up to the school.

(I mean, come on, who the hell can't cook corn???)

I caught the performance, and also got the plates there in time (and that stupid corn.) I saw M in her little Turkey Hat she made up there on stage with her "team." The team is made up of two other cuties who she seems to hang with the most, who thankfully, because it's all about me, have moms I totally think are awesome.

After the performance, the three girls ended up at the same table with their mama's while I served some of the food for the kids. Then I joined M and her "team" to eat. When the girls were done they got up to run around and play but left behind the turkey hats. One of the mama's picked up her daughter's hat and read what was written on the feathers.

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Mama 1 reads the hat. "I'm thankful for God. GOD? That's weird."

Mama 2 and I laughed. Mama 2 picks up her daughter's hat.

"I'm thankful for God. What? What are they teaching them?"

We all had another good laugh. I leaned over to grab M's hat. I fully expected hers to say the same thing because M usually does what her friends do.

This is M's hat.

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 4.26.17 PM.png

Thanks for nothin, mofo's!

On second inspection, I noticed she actually wrote something, then erased it.  So she is, in effect, thankful for nothing. Well played, M. Well played.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I Was Almost Arrested Today

People never believe the stupid crap that happens to me, but yes, this ain't no clickbait. I was almost arrested today.

This morning there was an open house at the Fillmore Arts Center, where 3 elementary schools have their weekly arts program. M's school was there today and the parents were invited to check it out, so I got to watch her in a drama class and then an art class. When I swung back home to pick up my work things, Real Estate Dad was surprised I actually got to see her. He didn't go because he thought it was just a building tour. Sucks for you Real Estate Dad, I got to see our little angel. But thankfully, I also took thousands of pictures. And this is where I handed him my phone.

And promptly forgot that I had done that. So I was phone-less today. Which isn't a big deal for the days you don't almost get arrested, but today would have been a good day to have the phone.

I got to the office and I've been working on a project with another Realtor. We decided to order lunch from Maggiano's. My turn to pay so I handed her my credit card when she placed the order online and then I headed over there. I told her I could swing in the front No Parking Zone and just run in and grab it, that's what they always tell you to do when you call in an order anyway.

Of course I pull up and the front No Parking area is empty except for one police car. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that somewhere between the police car and the No Parking zone is where I almost got arrested. Wrong.

I put the flashers on and ran into Maggiano's and went to the order pickup window. Told them my name and in hindsight I now realize there was a bit of a kerfluffle behind the desk with the 3 employees and they said they had to get the order from the back. Then I turn and see 3 cops come storming in, Ponch style, and they're heading straight for me.

Me: "You're here for me?'

Ponch: "We are."

Me: "You want me to move my car?"

Ponch: "We're not joking, this isn't a joke."

Me: "I'll move the car."

At this point I'm stumped. Did I park in an ambulance zone? Handicapped space? Nuclear attack area?

Then he screams, very loudly so the entire bar area could hear him, wait for it,

"YOU HAVE A STOLEN CREDIT CARD THAT YOU USED TODAY."

For that first instant I was like, "Yes! I'm not getting a parking ticket!"

I said, "No I didn't."

Ponch says, "Yes you did."

If I had my F*CKING phone I could have shown him my text and email alert from AMEX that says Maggiano's charged whatever dollars to my card. But no. We have to do this the hard way.

The Manager is behind the desk. he's got a sticky note on it with a name, phone number and the last 4 digits of my credit card. I said, "What's that?"

He asks for my card. I provide it. Ponch asks for my license. I also provide that.

Then we wait.

Give me my salad damn it, I'm hungry. Hannah's hungry too. She's probably back at the office wondering if I'm inhaling her lunch in the parking garage.

Manager is calling the number. Asking the number for their credit card info. Hangs up and says "It's not the same number. There must be a problem with AMEX." Suddenly everyone's demeanor changes and I'm no longer a criminal. I was like, "Can you explain what is happening? Someone said I used their credit card but it's really my credit card?" They say yes. Me again, "And you called the police, and Brooklyn* over here comes in screaming at me so the whole restaurant turns around to look?" (Brooklyn is Ponch. I just called him Brooklyn to his face. Not Ponch.)

Then I asked Ponch "What happened to innocent till proven guilty?"

It seems that some woman in Virginia has an alert on her Amex and she received an alert today telling her that there was a charge at Maggiano's for the amount I apparently spent for lunch today. So...follow me on this.

This is Maggiano's in Chevy Chase. They received a call from someone who tells them something on the phone that her credit card may have been used there at the restaurant, and without any proof, and without waiting until I get there with the card - they then call the police. The police practically storm the restaurant and accuse me of using a stolen credit card. The same Maggiano's that hosted some White Supremacist event last year at this time. Yes. Lots and lots of conclusions were jumped to here today.

And all I'm getting out of it is a free lunch. Maybe. If they remember that this even happened. And if I ever go back.

The Manager gave me his card to claim my free lunch. This is what's on the back. Awesome!

I decided it needed some edits.

I decided it needed some edits.

Little Girls, Big News

Since she started school, M has really been fast-tracking the whole growing up thing. When she saw some kids had lost teeth already, she kept insisting her lower front tooth was loose. I was like, "Pssht, you're faking."

Well, she wasn't. We've been getting daily tooth updates until today that sucker finally popped out during lunch. The school seems to have been down this road a few times because they were ridiculously prepared.  They had a small plastic tooth shaped container on a string that they place the tooth inside of and then M got to wear it around her neck like an Olympic Award.

We got a dollar for each tooth. Of course I'm referencing the late 70's here, so I assumed there had been some inflation. I about fell off my chair though when I googled (of course) and found it was $5 or more. Whoa! Tooth Fairy is gonna need to sell some more houses to fund the rest of that mouth.

Not to be without news of her own, Chubs announced she made a new friend in school today. Real Estate Dad said, "Oh wow, what's your new friend's name?"

"Bagina."

Real Estate Dad said, "That's a funny name."

"And I made another friend, their name is Stupid."

Real Estate Dad realized where this was going but he was already in deeper than Taylor Swift at a red lipstick store.

"My other two friends are Poop and Butt Butt."

This made her laugh maniacally, the kind of laugh where you hope no one is watching. Unless you're Chubs, or one of her new friends she met today.

#NotMeToo

I'm finding the #MeToo movement quite fascinating. This stemmed from some sleazy Hollywood scum who believed money and power could grant him the right to do some horrifying things to women. Not exactly surprising and not a new story.

Then #MeToo started to appear all over Facebook. I'm never one to jump on a bandwagon as evidenced by my total shock that the women's march became a thing, but I was impressed that there were women I knew who would share something like that about themselves in such a public forum. But then, as we all do, I started thinking about myself.

Have I ever been sexually assaulted or harassed? Right or wrong this is how my thought process went:

"Not that I can think of. Definitely not assaulted. I'm not even sure I could beg someone to assault or harass me with the sheer stream of profanity that comes out of my mouth. That one guy said to me that I was so off-putting he couldn't believe anyone would actually have sex with me. A couple of my exes said I was so emasculating that they couldn't be in a relationship with me." All clear here.

I dug back a bit farther. Oh. Wait.

I was 13 and walking down a beach in Florida by myself. I heard a noise and there was a man standing behind me, shaking his junk at me. A legit flasher. I ran. He didn't chase me. And that was that. I got back to where we were staying and went about my day.

It bothered me a lot over the ensuing months so I ended up telling my mom. If you know my mom, you know that this could have gone either way, but she doesn't take crap from anyone. What was her reaction to this revelation?

She started hysterically laughing.

It may sound insensitive but, she taught me a couple things there with that laugh. First, don't let something like this occupy one ounce of your head space. Second, your reaction to being in a situation like that is key. The best defense is always a good offense. Of course I'm talking about non-violent assaults here.

It stuck with me. All these years it stuck with me.  I worked for a builder about 15 years ago where the treatment of women by some of the management was pretty crappy. I walked in on a conversation where a couple of the managers were complaining about having to pay one of the women an equal commission on a sale in which she shared an equal part with a man.

Lame Manager: "Why is she pushing this, she gets paid enough! She wants to compare what she's getting to everyone else? Why don't we just take our dicks out on the table and see whose is biggest?"

Me: "Do it. I want all of you to take your pants off and show me, I'll get the measuring tape." I delivered this with an expert deadpan, devoid of one ounce of emotion.

They spun around to see me at the door. The looks on their faces were amazing. Like they got caught with their pants down already. There was slow shuffling around and then some scrambling toward the door.

Me: "Where are you all going? We have a contest in session! Come back."

Those conversations were never had near me again.

I can't understand how not one person in Hollywood leaked this sooner, before dozens of women were affected. But I know this. I'm going to teach my girls that harassment is about power, not sex and if you can diffuse the power, you have a pretty decent chance of coming out of it not feeling like the victim. But you also have to choose the battles. If they pass the cliche construction site and get a whistle, then a smile and wave is fine and there's no reason to feel victimized. If they pass the cliche construction site and one of the guys says, "Nice tits," I think we have all been around long enough to know what I'll have my girls programmed to say.

"You should see my penis!"

I Took a Stand Today

Facebook is rife with people taking stands on things. I try to hang in the middle, not having any real strong opinions on things, giving people the benefit of the doubt. I have to say, it's nice and happy living this way....not believing the worst in all politicians, thinking but then promptly ignoring the latest outrage instead of taking a stand on something. Stopping by the TV for a brief moment and then jetting out the door with a shrug or a laugh.

But today? Today. I took a stand on something.

We will have no more Taylor F*cking Swift in our house.

Sorry little ladies, but I'm raising you to be independent, confident women who won't give a rat's ass about the latest boy.

I reached my boiling point with Tay Tay before M was born, and I remember other moms saying, "Oh you won't be able to stop it. Girls love her." Hmm. Perhaps. I mean, it's not like my own mother could stop my non-stop decades long obsession with Guns N' Roses. In fact, this conversation via email occurred this week.

Ma: With this Las Vegas shooting, I'm worried about you going to another concert this weekend.
Me: It's your fault for not letting me go to the Meadowlands concert when they came through in 9th grade. My friends were in the Paradise City video! That should have been me! Now I have to go see them as often as I can go.
Ma: Can't you get over it?
Me: Front Row Ma! Front Row!
 
If I fill M's little ears with other music maybe I can sway her. Today while driving and flipping thru the stations, her little ears heard two notes of that craptastic talentless moron and I couldn't move off the station fast enough. "THAT ONE THAT ONE THAT ONE!"

"Cause the players gonna play play play play play and the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate and I'm just gonna shake shake shake shake shake"

KILL ME. I'M GOING TO STAB STAB STAB STAB STAB MYSELF IN THE EYES. I couldn't even let the song finish. I moved the party down to Aerosmith.

"This is old people's music."

For real? It was "Rag Doll." It's about strippers. Or hookers. Whatever, still better than Taylor.

A Tale of Two Max's

Several of the "corgi ladies" and I managed to rescue a corgi in the Florida panhandle. His name is Max. We are hoping the little guy is all up to date on his shots and then he can be transported to the Jerz hopefully to his new home.

Chubs has been off for 4 days because she's been sick. Poor little thing has been so sick but she finally went back to school today. She's been mentioning that there's this boy Max who is her hand-holding partner on the walk to the playground. Well today Real Estate Dad picked her up and asked how her first day back was. She said it was "noisy." Chubs is not one for anything loud. Real Estate Dad asked why it was noisy and she said because everyone was yelling and screaming her name when she walked in to school.

"Except Max. He was the only one who wasn't noisy. I like Max. He's 4."

Of course she likes them older. Just like her mama. And of course she likes the one boy who doesn't seem to notice her. Also like her mama.

I Hate School

Surprise #474 about kindergarten. Kindergartners have homework. Every night there are two pages of homework that have to be done, for a package of 10 that have to be turned in each Monday.

What. The. F.....

The first day was okay.  Painful, but okay. It took about an hour longer than it should have but it was done.

The second day I said "M, it's time to do your homework." She said, "I don't want to."

And that is the routine we've acted out nightly. There are nights that Real Estate Dad and I are just too tired or annoyed to fight with her. I tried telling her that this is the first of many many nights of homework and she got pissed. And you know what? I don't blame her one stinking bit.

Who the hell decided kids in kindergarten should have homework? My forehead is crinkling right now even typing that out because it pisses me off. Homework for kindergartners is really just homework for the parents and no. Just no. I'm way too busy to spend hours of time begging and coaxing and then helping with the homework. I don't think I had homework until maybe 4th grade. I can't even remember but I know it wasn't kindergarten.

Argh. School

Classic Real Estate Mama

Over the weekend, I was showing houses one morning to clients and I thought we were seeing one but we went to see five. I promised the littles I would be home quickly and we could head off to do some things I promised we would do. After all the houses and no breakfast, I was wickedly starving. I knew if I stopped home long enough to eat breakfast, they would really boil over. No, this had to be a screech up to the front of the house, kids hop in, and we take off kind of pick up.
 
I'm sitting in the left lane at a red light thinking about where I could grab something to eat when I spy a bagel place on the right, just after the intersection. I thought about that jerk who holds up traffic so he can cut across two lanes to get to the store he needs and I didn't want to be that jerk. Light turns red, and I plan to just figure out a U-turn. Except...the car on my right didn't move so fast and well...the New York Driver came right out.

I gunned it, got in front of the car, and made the right turn into the place I needed with tons of room to spare since they turned right at the intersection.

I walked up to the deli and this woman got to the door at the same time. She opened the door for me and I'm so happy I'm about to get some food in my stomach I'm like, "No you go first" and she said, "No, go ahead, it's fine." I said, "Okay but you can get in line first." She said, "Oh please, don't worry about it, go ahead."

Well shoot that was pretty nice. I order my bagel and when I'm told to move on down the line in that soup-nazi style to pay, I realized there's just one order taker and I held him hostage while he told me all the bagels they DID have since everything I picked was sold out. I turned around to the woman behind me and thanked her again and she said, "Oh, you're welcome. I'm all about being nice in this world where no one else is. I'm just so tired of it."

I felt bad for her. She sort of had a day it seemed. I got to the register and my order popped up without me telling them like you have to do at Potbelly. I said, "Can you see what the woman behind me ordered?" They confirmed, so I said I wanted to pay for that too. The cashier said, "Aww that's so nice." I said, "She's sort of having a bad day so maybe this will cheer her up."

The woman moved down to the register as I was heading into the bathroom and when I came out she came up to me and said, "That was so nice of you! I was having the worst day and I really try to be so nice to people and to top off my horrible morning, when I was driving in here someone tried to cut me off and it really put me in a worse mood."

Uh. Oops?

Forehead slap. Bad! Very bad!

I'd like to say I wouldn't do it again but you and I both know I would be lying.