No Escape From Iowa

The USA is buzzing with excitement over tax returns right now.  Everyone gets to go out and buy a brand new TV, new video game systems and other electronics, they’re getting new tattoos, clothes, vehicles, etc.  Most other years I was right there with the general public and giving all that tax money directly to the local retail stores.  But this year, it’s different.

Yes, we got a tax return, but we aren’t going and getting all the latest gadgets.

The ONE thing we had promised the kids we would do this year is go on a vacation.  We were discussing Florida, and everyone was quite excited about it.  Unfortunately, when we found out that my unemployment payments in 2017 cut into our refund more than I ever knew it would, we had to flush the dream of a family vacation on the beach right down the toilet (along with creating some guilt for both Jarrod and I for having to break that promise).

IowaWe had to face facts: the best we could do is keep paying our monthly bills with a small boost so we didn’t fall behind, and plan a mini-vacation closer to home.  So now we are looking at resort-style hotels within Iowa to go spend a night or two.  There is one place a couple hours away that has laser tag, bowling, go karts, an arcade, and an indoor water park that we’re looking into.  It sounds pretty fun to me, and the kids all seem to be on board with that idea.  But if for some reason that doesn’t work out or ends up being out of our price range, we’ll just stick to the Iowa State Fair later this summer, and perhaps a visit to Adventureland, our local amusement park.

I’d be lying if I said I was not disappointed, myself.  I have visited Florida the last 2 years, and I LOVE it there.  The ocean is spectacular.  I know for a fact 2 of my boys were really looking forward to going, and the girls seem rather let down that we aren’t going, as well.  But as it stands, we will just have to settle for Iowa.  As long as we can have fun together as a family, that is what REALLY matters, right?

Those are my thoughts for today.  Not all blog posts can be sunshine and rainbows… this IS real life afterall.  🙂  And if you’re an Iowa native and have any suggestions for awesome family fun within the state, please leave a comment/suggestion for us to look into.  Thanks in advance.

Laugh!

You might think that the life of a blogger is a non-stop series of sexy, celebrity-attended parties, a virtual whirlwind of drug and alcohol-fueled insanity that even famed raconteur Hunter S. Thompson might call excessive.  And you’d be right about that.  Nevertheless, sometimes we are called upon to do actual work, and be “responsible”.  And there has been a lot of that nonsense lately, which not only makes it hard to find the time and energy to write a blog post, but also tends to make life a little tedious…which, in turn, causes tempers to flare, motivation to dwindle, and attitudes and moods to turn to crap.  This time of year doesn’t help, either.  Winter shouldn’t even be a thing; the only thing that winter accomplishes is to make you appreciate summer a little more, which is a pretty substantial accomplishment considering summer also really, really sucks.  Really.  Sucks.  And don’t trust anyone who tries to tell you that it doesn’t.  (The views of Jarrod are not necessarily those of HesseLane or its subsidiaries).

But all is not lost.  Even though life, work, the very seasons of the planet upon which we live may all be trying to to rip out your soul, crumple it up and cram it into the nearest rubbish bin, you can still maintain your insanity by taking a more whimsical approach to the nightmarish hellscape we’re forced from birth to navigate and finding things to be amused by.  For example, I don’t really enjoy working; not just my job in particular, but ANY job.  In general, I can think of many, many thousands of things I’d rather be doing than working.  What I need is for someone to just send me large sums of money every so often, with no expectation that I’m ever going to provide any service to them in exchange for it.  Yeah, that’s what I need.

But until someone sees fit to do that, I have to work.  And since I do, it’s pretty helpful that I work with Shauna.  Not only do we work together, but he have practically the same schedules.  Sometimes that isn’t a good thing (more on that never).  Usually it IS a good thing, and here’s why:  we make each other laugh.  I’m one of those people who is constantly finding things amusing but rarely laughs out loud.  If I had a nickel for everytime I’ve typed “lol” and actually lol’d, I’d have, oh, about zero dollars and zero cents.  However, Shauna makes me laugh till I cry, and she does it pretty effortlessly.  From day one, she’s just kind of instinctively known what my sense of humor is and is able to tap into it…and I think the reason she has such an easy time with that is because it pretty seamlessly matches up with her own sense of humor.  Never does this particular connection between us come in more handy than when we’re at work, a place neither of us really want to be and which can sometimes put us both in a crappy mood.  Just the other night we were at work, and for some reason we began talking about cooking apple pies in the fryer.  Shauna escalated the absurdity of the conversation a little, and then I did, and then she did again, and soon were talking about dumping a whole box of apple pies in the fryer and then fishing them out with the baskets.  In that moment the zaniness of it all made me laugh uncontrollably, until tears were streaming down my face.  And it occured to me that I was getting paid to stand there and laugh myself silly.  Which I found myself very ok with.

Recently we were sitting in our bedroom when my youngest daughter Willow wandered in.  She was wearing leggings, and the tag on the back was annoying her; she wanted to know if I would cut the tag off.  A lot of times, you can just yank those tags off without the need for scissors or anything; they’re designed to just be ripped off.  maxresdefaultSo I grabbed the tag and attempted to dispose of it once and for all.  Unfortunately, it was attached a bit more securely than I had given it credit for, and, rather than ripping the tag off, I lifted Willow completely off the ground, giving her an ultrawedgie in the process.  The tag finally came off, but brought a giant chunk of the fabric from the butt of her leggings with it.  As I sat there in bed holding the tag with the lonely piece of fabric attached to it, and looking at the gaping hole in the butt of the leggings (big enough for Willows entire butt to fit through), I could have been annoyed that I had just ruined a perfectly good article of clothing.  But Shauna was laughing hysterically, as was Willow, and at that point, what could I do?  I laughed, gentle reader…I laughed.  And that’s all I’m saying.

The Haircut

Several months ago, I got a perm. I wanted more volume in my fine, limp hair. The perm burnt my hair so bad that in the couple of months following the perm that I had handfuls of hair falling out every day. Then, when Jarrod and I went to Riot Fest in September, we were both admiring people’s dreadlocks, and I mentioned how I had tried dreadlocks a few times and failed, brushed them out, etc. I had installed them alone, or with a friend’s help. But they never seemed right so I never kept them long. But Jarrod was really into the idea of me having them because he appreciates that style. So we decided I would go get them professionally done to ensure a long future with them. We decided to use real human hair extensions with them so I wouldn’t lose too much length, and they looked pretty good once done.

Over the first couple months things went well. Once I got over the initial shock to my scalp and the itching faded, I was quite happy with them. I was getting monthly maintenance to keep them tidy-ish and make sure they were locking up properly. At my 2nd maintenance session, my stylist started expressing concern for my roots. My hair was already fragile from that perm a few months prior, and the weight of the dreaded hair + extensions was making my hair break off an inch or two from my scalp. But she remained optimistic and told me we would just keep up on the maintenance and keep reinforcing it, and it would likely be fine.

Last week when I went in for my 4th tidying, she wasn’t so optimistic. She said my fine, brittle hair wasn’t doing so well, and I had a lot of factors working against me for a future with the dreadlocks. At that point, I felt I needed to make a tough decision. I could either keep going, paying her to maintain and strengthen my hair every month with no guarantee it was going to be successful, I could brush them out and have “crypt keeper” remains of my hair, or I shave my head and have a clean slate. Jarrod and I discussed all the pros and cons of all options involved, and came to the very difficult and painful decision to just shave it all off. And rather than stall that decision, we decided to do it as soon as possible so it can start the process of growing back. Before shaving. The final pic with dreadlocks.

I’m honestly okay with it. It feels good, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I know it’s just hair, and will grow back. And Jarrod seems to be okay with it too. He said he was more concerned with my reaction to shaving my head than how he would feel about it himself. But since I am okay with it, he is too. The kids really don’t seem to care all that much. The girls were in disbelief that I’d do it, but the boys already know how spontaneous I can be.

For now I’ll wear plenty of hats to keep warm since it’s still the middle of winter here in Iowa. I plan to keep from dying my hair indefinitely, and certainly won’t be perming it ever again. I’d like to see what it does when left to grow naturally. It’s been decades since I’ve just let it be. I’ll find some decent quality shampoo and conditioner to keep it healthy. And I’m already taking Biotin and other vitamins to make sure it grows back stronger.