Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Official "I'm Out of Parenting Ideas" Jump the Shark Blog Post

So, my last post was a little dark.  Certainly not one of my traditional posts, but it was from the heart.  I decided to post this week in a decidedly different direction.  I’ll warn you in advance, girlies, the lesson you get from this one will be manufactured as to fit our format.  The real world application will be extremely limited.  Here we go.

A few weeks ago my mother, my girls and I took a weekend trip to Glenwood Springs, a trip I mentioned in a previous post.  One observation I left out was out hotel.  I booked it, no one’s fault but my own.  I have gone to Glenwood for years and the hotel I booked was not the one I thought I was booking.  Needless to say, expectation did not meet reality.  It wasn’t awful, but it did spark a conversation on the long drive home of the actual worst I had stayed in.  It’s a less than distinguished list, but here it is. Some names have been altered out of forgetfulness, not kindness but you won’t be booking there anyway.

Honorable Mention -  Idalia Colorado – No hotel name given, and none needed as I can’t imagine there is more than one hotel in Idalia.  I am sure Idalia is a fine place, but you’ve heard the term “don’t blink, you might miss it”, well I blinked and we missed it.  My wife and I were in Idalia for a reunion and we had been warned to get our room early as space was limited.  It was.  The hotel, and the town, had exactly four rooms.  We got room number four, I hope the other three were better.  When we got to the hotel, the check in counter had a note sitting on it reading “If you are trying to check in go to The Grainery Bar and Grill and ask for Beth”.  Sure enough, Beth, the bartender, had the key waiting.  It wasn’t really a put-off, the room had plenty of that.  The interior of the room was unspectacular, the glue down carpeting and brick walls left if feeling like a classroom more than a hotel room, but really not enough to make this list.  Even the lack of telephone in the room in a town that has no cell phone reception was inconvenient more than it was list making.  The two things that made this hotel take the list were the bed, or pallet, totally interchangeable and the bathroom.  The bed was solid, the shower was not.   The bathroom felt like something out of Camp Crystal Lake.  It had one of those ‘swingy lights’ generally reserved for horror movies and pool halls.  It was yellow, dim and it flickered fairly wildly.  It was the dimness that made the bathroom dangerous.  Needing to get ready for the reunion I decided to take a shower. I couldn’t see much and I didn’t step into the shower as much as I fell in.  The basin of the shower was a solid 18 inches below the floor I came from.  I suppose one could argue that it was an aesthetic decision, but the calking gun in the shower and the layers and layers of caulk around the basin argues that the shower was sinking slowly in to the fertile Idalia soil.  I had literally never felt dirtier coming out of a shower until Playa Del Carmen, you’ll see.

3) Budget Host Inn, Sandusky Ohio – I was driving by myself from Colorado to Philadelphia and I had decided I would attempt to make the trip non-stop (mistake # 1) and I had started and maintained the trip on a diet of coffee and Mountain Dew (mistake #2 ).  The combination of these decisions, when combined with seventeen plus hours of windshield time led me to the delightful burg of Sandusky for a short stay.  I checked the usual hotels; Days Inn, Holiday Inn, etcetera.  After being told they were sold out stop after stop, I wound up at the Budget Host Inn.  After asking if they had a room, I should have been suspicious when the clerk answered ‘Yeees?’.  His face contoured in a way that should have let me know that he had space, but not necessarily a room.  After paying just shy of $170 he led me to a room and opened the door with what looked like a house key.  The key had no key fob and the room had no number.  Oh well, I was tired, in I went.  A full day’s worth of Mountain Dew had caught up to me so I went into the bathroom immediately.  Two things of note, the toilet was unflushed and the shower curtain was for the Comfort Inn.  Both were head scratchers but nearly as interesting as the fact that the rest of the room was apparently a break room/ storage for the hotel.  The furniture was a Tetris game to navigate but I was tired so I climbed over the couch and laid my head in the twin bed.  The three hours of sleep I enjoyed before the door was opened by someone looking to use the break room seemed like enough.  I got back into the car and bid adieu to Sandusky.

2) BFE, Tennessee – Years ago, a friend of mine and me had been hired to pick up a storage unit full of antique furniture in Nashville.  We were provided a large, crappy, rusted, windowless van sans air conditioning and money for gas, food and a hotel in Nashville.  Our job was to drive there in one day, pick up the furniture the next and then drive back day three.  The best laid plans of mice and men.  Somewhere in the Volunteer state, short of Nashville, the drive shaft dropped from our chariot and we were stuck without a building in sight.  This was pre cell phone and two guys that had been sitting in a van for fifteen hours did not seem to encourage fellow drivers to stop and pick us up.  I remember walking for what seemed like hours until we found a small town that was made up of a gas station and a small hotel.  The two of us were young enough not to have credit cards of any kind, but fortunately-ish, we were informed that they took cash.  We paid our money to the semi-toothed owner of the motel and we were advised that we were welcome to the VHS tapes in the lobby.  We looked at the movies and realized that the themes of the movies were fairly consistent; they were all documentaries that featured some variety of exploding varmints.  We declined but, as it turns out, we would be back.  We opened the door to our room and found a small single bed in the middle of green shag carpet.   As we walked across the carpet, small bugs began to jump, thousands of them.  We both made an instinctive leap to the bed but realized quickly that there wasn’t a remote for the television.  Being a gentleman, I raced across the room and turned on the TV.  Huge mistake.  The TV had one channel, one pornography filled channel.  One small bed, a carpet full of fleas and one pornography rich channel.  Lo and behold, when informed that this was the only available room (really?) we decided to borrow from the redneck hunter video library.  We would wind up staying in the room for three days waiting for the new drive shaft to arrive, existing purely on a diet of potato chips and snack cakes from the gas station.   

1) Cucarachas y Proxenetas Hotel, Playa Del Carmen – The beginning of this story is a long and amusing one but attention span will not allow for it.  Suffice it to say that my friend Dave and I were trapped in Playa by a hurricane and we were unable to find a resort that had space for us.  The storm was inbound and after an exhaustive hunt, Dave and I had resigned ourselves to waiting out the storm in a church.  While shuffling our luggage to a church Dave came up with the idea of moving inland.  Forget resorts; let’s find a regular, local style hotel.  About a mile inward, we hound a bright pink hotel with four rooms, two up and two down.  We met with the hotel manager, a young man about 14 years old and asked about price and availability.  There was one room available and it was $20 a night, $25 with air conditioning.  We opted for the cool room and he handed us the cord to the air conditioner.  Of note, even with the cord we purchased, we never got the air conditioning working.  We got the key from the young man and made our way to our room.  It was a bottom floor room, strategically located on the far side of the other bottom floor room.  As we walked past our neighbor’s door it opened quickly.  Behind the door was a large local, dressed in a black suit with nothing underneath it short of a thick gold chain.  His hair was slicked back and behind him were two very large, very scantily clad women.  The generally very prepared Dave stood mouth agape at the sight. 

The man smiled wide, pointed at the women over his shoulder and said in his best English, “Hey boys, you like fiesta?” 

Dave shook off his stupor enough to decline and we hustled to our room.  It was not nearly as inviting as our neighbor.  It was overly grey and tile floored, the two most appealing qualities of the room, it went downhill dramatically from there.  There were little things, like the burlap bed coverings, the 12 inch rabbit ears television and the non-working A/C but these could be chalked up to a different standard of living.  When I sat on the burlap sheets, a disgusting combination of things happened, the first was a scattering of roaches.  The roaches ran like kids from a high school party after the cops arrive.  I’m not overly squeamish but roaches cruising through your flip-flops is a less than pleasant experience.  The second thing, upon standing, I noticed black stains on my hands, as it turns out they were on my shorts and legs as well, from some ‘God knows what’ residue on the bed.  We elected, smartly, to leave the room, buy towels to line the beds and drink beer until every bar closed before returning to the hotel.  I needed to clean myself up and made my way into the bathroom.  Maybe this isn’t strange in Mexico, but the restroom was the size of a phone booth and the shower head pointed directly at the toilet.  Efficient, sure, comfortable, not so much.  It was like staring down the barrel of a bidet.  Needless to say, we stayed out of the room as much as possible and, the next morning, as the sun came up, returned our key through a broken window per the 14 year old manager’s instruction. 

So the lesson, girls, I don’t know, pay a little extra when reserving a room.  You’re worth it.  Like I said at the beginning, I’m just spitballing a lesson anyway in this one. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Little Dutch Boy is Short a Few Fingers

I haven’t posted here in a while.  I’d like it to say it is because life got in the way, and in a way I guess that’s true.  Problems at work, financial issues, running injuries, the start of school, coaching retirement, no time, no money have all led to no drive. 

I sat down this morning to a breakfast designed for someone who has given up on fitness entirely and considered the fact that I hadn’t written in a while.  A few months ago, I had ideas a plenty but lately, it seems that the well has run dry. 

I considered a couple of ideas, but they seemed to be of the ‘mailing it in’ variety.  So here is what I have come up with, ladies.  The point of this blog is to give you three girls little lessons to grab onto and maybe apply to your lives later.  We’ve talked soccer and boys and running and school and pierced ears and cell phones and how much mommy and daddy love you.  We’ve talked about growing up, bathroom jokes, heroes and villains and the Crisco incident.  For the most part it’s been light and for the most part it’s been optimistic. 

Today, maybe not so much.

Today speaks more towards why daddy’s temper may be a little shorter and treats get a little fewer and further between.  I’ve always believed that life works in little changes, that the things that will change the world appear on the back page of the newspaper, not the front.  I believe that life isn’t about wholesale changes, it’s about small, incremental increases in happiness.  At the same time, life doesn’t usually deal haymakers, it deals tons of jabs, the death of a thousand cuts.  Life requires monitoring because the tide can change without notice and the incremental growth can turn into a slow, barely noticeable slide. 

I think that’s what has happened to me.  It’s a bastard version of the Little Dutch Boy.  If life is the dam, I saw a leak with soccer starting, insert finger, then plantar fasciitis, insert another, school, work, money, time, finger, finger, finger, thumb.  Before I noticed, I was playing a monster game of Twister and I was out of left feet.  It came to a head last night, my wife asked about fixing a leaky kitchen sink and I was out of proverbial fingers. 

I needn’t go into the discussion, but suffice it to say that mountains were made of molehills.  I think, as life goes, soccer practice and homework and not enough hours in the day are the finger sized holes in the dam, but when relationships get chippy and communication breaks down, that is the cracks in the foundation of it. 

So here’s the lesson, ladies, keep an eye on the dam, fix it with your own hands when you can, but remember that this isn’t your dam, it’s your whole families.  That means two things, first, ask for help.  You have a whole family wanting you to be happy, if the holes get to be too much, ask for a hand.  The second, and this one is harder, watch to make sure your family isn’t plugging up too much themselves.  Be willing to lend a hand even if someone isn’t asking.  Frankly, it’s more important than you know.

Life is full of ups and downs.  I could always write poop jokes and threatening the lives of potential boyfriends, but it would be disingenuous to only write when the world is great.  Anyone can thrive when the world is all about finished marathons and three goal games, the test is staying together when the mortgage is late and the math homework is too hard. 

So for today, the sink isn’t leaking anymore but the still dam is. Life isn’t perfect but it’ll get better.