The Very Merry Month of May

Regrettably, I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Even Facebook has seen less of my sarcasm. We’ve been busy working, cleaning up gutting the recently vacated apartment (which I decided required a whole new blog of its own)  and planning the renovation, completing renovations of our basement rec room, and making changes and deciding how to spend our summer.

I went on my daughter’s field trip to Annapolis – the capital of our home state of Maryland. She came home each week with details of what we were going to be doing – we’re riding on big buses with bathrooms and we get to watch a movie! We’re going on a boat ride! The bus ride was expected to be roughly 2 hours, so I asked Todd to download the Kindle app to my phone so I could read without carrying a real book (which is blasphemy, I know, but I was desperate) but, as luck would have it, I sat next to Jenn and we had a great time chatting and commiserating on the joy of divorce and ex-husbands and I had no need for reading.

Two hours goes fast when you’re talking to someone and soon we were disembarking at the boat docks for a 25-minute respite before the boat ride.  I had charge of just my daughter and her bestie, so we went first to the public restrooms (where, simultaneously, the occupants of the other bus plus 2 from another school district also went) and then on to Starbucks for mom’s frappaccino and 2 cake pops for the girlies.  That was about all the time we had before we walked back to the boat and, as I followed the girls walking along the docks, I contemplated the possibility of jumping into the brownish-green water should one of them accidentally fall in and imagined how it would feel to spend the rest of the day in wet clothes that reeked not in a good way of Red Lobster.

The boat cruise was fun – we had picture perfect weather – the sun was warm, the breeze quite pleasant. We ate our packed lunches on the boat as it sailed around the harbor, with tour-guide commentary on the United States Naval Academy (whose chapel is topped with real gold, FYI) and views of million-dollar homes set into the hills overlooking the water.  The boat had a small gift shop with what looked like leftovers from an Oriental Trading catalog and a snack bar which also sold “Frosty Beers and Refreshing cocktails,” though I figured it’d be widely frowned upon if I ordered a margarita on a school field trip.  Widely frowned upon but way more memorable.  The kids ran about the boat, up and down the stairs, and I just sat and imagined how romantic this would be if Todd were here, and the 158 kids enjoying the  Cupid Shuffle dance party 10 feet away from me weren’t.

The walking tour followed, led by a senior citizen volunteer fully dressed in colonial garb except for the geriatric shoes that were most certainly not regulation 18th century footwear, but we’ll give him a pass since my middle-aged feet nearly caught fire on the 2-hour walking tour.  I also utilized my walking app because I was curious to see how many steps we took on this lovely walk (7,014 or roughly the equivalent of walking a 5k).

I photographed some beautiful architecture and we toured the State House, where Ava damn near had a panic attack over having to go through the metal detector – which she can’t do with her pump on – and I assured her 300 times that I would handle it with the security officer (who, btw, was very cool about it and let her go around).  The State House was beautiful inside, with lots of marble and a painting the tour guide pointed out as having more than a handful of historically inaccurate features.  It is the oldest legislative house in continuous use in the nation, and is also where George Washington resigned his commission in 1783 (a draft he penned of this resignation is under glass there – so cool to see the handwriting of the most famous president in history a foot away from your face). There was a mannequin of GW that I desperately wanted a picture of the girls with but, so as not to disrupt the flow of the tour, I settled for a group shot on a cannon outside. 

There was a house we stopped in that was aligned with the tour, furnished as it would have been in colonial days, and our group trekked up the narrow staircase to the second floor bedroom where two hay-filled sacks lay on the floor alongside some sort of animal skin. The kids sat on these “beds” while the adults were invited to real seating around the room’s close perimeter, and various items were passed around – including a deer leg several of us moms reluctantly passed to each other.

I left feeling oddly satisfied after a field trip, not too tired and without a headache. I want to go back. I was in Annapolis once before, in my early twenties, when my mom was there with her other half where he kept his boat, and his truck broke down and she needed a ride back to PA. This was in the days well before cell phones and GPS – so I had to drive 3 hours in a  torrential rainstorm to a place I had never been before armed with only directions I scribbled on a piece of notebook paper. (Yes, there’s probably a story there.) But anyway, it’s a beautifully quaint place if you’ve never been before, very walkable, and there are loads of Navy men in white uniform if you’re a sucker for that sort of thing.

Three days earlier, I taught the kids the value of cutting school by keeping them home to attend my Mom-mom’s 90th surprise birthday party.  She was SO surprised and, of course, emotional as always – sniffling back tears and playing humble (though I know she secretly loved every minute of it).  My mom put the whole thing together at “the home,” as Mom-mom calls it, with 3 huge cakes and live music by local legend Gene Galligan.  Mom-mom held court by the cakes as the residents came by to wish her well, including one stooped over gentleman (we’ll call him Harry) my mother says was interested in Mom-mom. She ate slow forkfuls of her cake until at one point she was coughing so hard we thought she was choking, and mom said it would be terrible if she accidentally killed her mother on her 90thbirthday.  My mom danced with some of the ladies and they dragged a mortified Ava out onto the makeshift dance floor to join them, and soon she was giggling at the hilarity of it.

My mom’s sister flew home from Myrtle Beach for the occasion, and my mom’s estranged brother – whom I haven’t seen in twenty years and who has never met my children – was there, though he disappeared shortly after I arrived and only resurfaced long enough for a group family photo and then to say goodbye because he had to “cut the lawn.” 

My mom handed Mom-mom her phone to take a picture of us with the kids, and Mom-mom held the phone up backwards asking what to do, and we all got extreme closeups of her nose and eyeball, at which we nearly laughed ourselves silly, and she yelled us for “laughing at an old woman.” The entertainment was great, albeit geared more toward my grandmother’s generation with old-fashioned humor and silly jokes, and the folks loved it. Gene sang Have a Nice Day and when this crabby looking little old lady walked by, Harry smiled at her and said Have a nice day! I thought Owen was going to wet himself.  It was a beautiful event for the first and only birthday party my grandmother had ever had. Of course, being herself, when someone suggested doing it again next year she scoffed and said she hoped she’d die before then because she hates it here.

The beginning of May also saw Ava dragging me to the elementary school’s Spring Fling, where there was a huge inflatable slide she went down no less than 15 times and games – like the Cake Walk where she won a red velvet cake.  Just what we needed.

The kids and I accompanied Todd to a tournament in PA over 3 hours away in the coal region and happily there was no complaining other than boredom early in the games.  Then they discovered the game room soon after I discovered beer in the bar, and they cleaned me out of every last dollar I had.  Todd didn’t win, but it was fun to watch one of his league members get shitfaced and ignore me like she always does.

I had an appointment with my cardiologist who assured me I’m going to live, though that theory was later tested at Ava’s spring concert.  Never been to one?  A hundred parents crammed into the cafeteria/gymnasium/auditorium where a few dozen kids playing instruments oddly out of sync with one another competed with the roar of the central air conditioning system.  The only reason I didn’t get a headache is because I couldn’t hear them playing.

And, in keeping with the my-life-is-shit theme, I got to visit the water treatment plant with Ava’s class.  We all wore goggles for the outdoor tour and, while it was definitely vile in some very specific ways, it still didn’t make me nearly as ill as the smell of mushroom plants steaming away less than a mile from our house. Ava’s teacher spoke aloud the contents of my ever worried brain when she said she hoped no one fell in.  Whose dumb idea was this, anyway?

I’ve spent the rest of my days doing the housewifey thing, got our a/c serviced so our home is less balmy and more refrigerator, and fruitlessly attempted to wipe clean the stench of tenants in the apartment.  It’s going to be a total gutting.  Even the subfloor can’t be saved. I’m procrastinating about finishing a project I started long ago, and the writing thing isn’t happening easily either.  I’m trying to pick up running again and the one day I decided to take advantage of stellar running weather, I was chased by a neighborhood Rottweiler whose 130 lb body collided with mine and bruised my leg in three ugly places. And broke my iPod.  To make a long story short, I decided after much debate to report the incident to animal control – mostly because it’s the second time this dog has chased me and I am concerned that she might chase my daughter on her bike, or my son on one of his runs. And, while it sounds petty, I can’t help but think that if my dog had done that to someone, I’d at the very least have stopped by their house to check on how they were doing and apologize again and reassure them that it will never happen again.  Good thing I’m not holding my breath.

On the brighter side – we celebrated Ava’s 10th birthday and my hmphety-hmphth birthday… and our THIRD anniversary. It may sound corny, but really – it honestly feels like this is how life has always been.

And so. Life goes on.

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