2011 has been chewing my ass up and it's been less than two months. I had high hopes for this year, given that the wife and I planned to do an international trip, rent a house in Portland and possibly get pregnant sometime in the distant yet terrifying future. I was also looking forward to really digging in and blogging the shit out of some awesome topics, get deep. Ya know, have something to say that didn't revolve around my dogs' gastrodestructive proclivities. I was also planning (in my devastating optimism) to launch a group blog called Red Picket Fence. If you read Triton Cove with any regularity you'll know that RPF is a web-zine-blog idea centered around various writers' musings on culture in the 21st century and how our goals and values differ from our parents' generation. (See also: my mom hates tattoos)
The first hint that 2011 was going to be a beast was that it started putting us through the grinder before new years eve had even begun. It was December when the insanity began.
My family had decided the few stragglers (grandparents, aunt, plus 5 kids and 1 canine) who were still in the country for Christmas would gather at our place here in Triton Cove. However, the day before this plan was to be executed my aunt, coming to grips with the finite nature of being a soul trapped in a human body, decided she would prefer to host Christmas at her house instead of packing 5 children (all fully engulfed in the throws of a Christmas adrenaline bender) 1 greyhound/boxer mix with anxiety issues, plus clothes and presents for all into her Suburban to drive 4 hours North.
Who could blame her? We switched out of cleaning the house before guests arrive mode and flew into a full throttle packing frenzy. We loaded gifts, clothes, crate and the 3 wise dogs (okay maybe it's too late for Christmas references) into the car and drove to Portland.
All this would have made a very entertaining blog post. I should have written all about it. I could have dragged at least 4 Christmas insanity posts out of the drama.
However once we arrived at my aunts house everything became a blur. Shrieking banshee children hopped up on candy canes and possibly meth. 12 person meals (cooked by yours truly). Wrapping paper shrapnel, dwarf hamsters (QTpie survived 15 days past Christmas before shucking off her mortal coil), and the crashing of drum sets.
That's right, my aunt bought her 8 year old son a fucking drum set. Of her own free will, without water boarding or anything, officially killing any pity I felt for her hapless position, surrounded by this pint sized barbarian hoard.
Needless to say we were up to our eyeballs in kids and dogs and presents and cooking and babysitting and errands and present wrapping and everything else in the world that does not include writing an awesome, witty blog post for the good people of the Interweb.
Still I was telling myself "this is going to be great blog fodder once things calm down enough to write, a classic American holiday story filled with chaos and family issues and those chocolate oranges you whack and break into slices and..."
I should have written about how cute it was when she tried to remedy the situation by excusing herself and trying to "clean" her spittle off my face and associated orifices with those sticky little digits, coated in a substance that can only come from mixing peppermint candy with 6 year old sweat.
I knew I was infected before I could even extricate myself from her disease ridden paws. Ten hours later she had a slight fever and a runny nose but was none the worse for wear. I, on the other hand was contemplating the pros and cons of overdosing on Nyquil and telling myself things like "The wife will be fine, at least we don't have any kids she'll be left to raise alone."
I'm not saying this was the worst cold anyone ever got. I'm just saying that my cold would have raped the H1N1 Virus if they were in prison together.
I should have written about how we decided to retreat back home so that I could try to sleep through as much of this flubonic plague as possible, lost in a delirium of Nyquil and 90's action movies.
I should have written about how soon as we were back home we received a call notifying us that everyone had decided to come to our cabin for New Years like originally planned for Christmas. They were on the road and would be there in a couple hours and could we pull out the spare blankets and prep our one room cabin so the kids and dog could sleep at our place while the adults slept down the hill at my grandparents'.
Sleeping all day and watching R rated movies was not in the cards as we were drafted back into the front lines of babysitting, an activity which mostly consists of watching (and hearing) the children tear in and out of the cabin, slamming the door (hard enough that the phone mount flew off the wall more than once. Seriously.) and shouting their youthful exuberance to us and each other. This would be okay if our bedroom didn't share the same open room with the living room and kitchen et al.
The chaos continued for another few days. Or weeks, I'm not sure. Then things finally quieted down, I was able to rest enough to finally kick mutant flu virus in just under 3 weeks and I started writing again.
The phone rang.
The trip we were planning to schedule in April or May? That needed to happen in March. The beginning of March actually. like March 1st. Or maybe 5th? No March 3rd for sure. Definitely March 9th. Whatever the date one thing was clear, the trip was going to happen SOON.
This went back and fourth for a week or three, by which time my structure loving plan-aholic brain had come to wits ends. We finally decided on a date. But by this time the places we planned to go originally (Morocco, no Egypt, or maybe Spain. Definitely Portugal. Probably) had nearly doubled in airfare prices. I scrambled for an alternative. I spent literally 6-10 hours a day staring at matrix grids with airline ticket prices to various international destinations. Eventually I made a case for Indonesia. The parents agreed. But when they checked tickets (from their house in Libya) they discovered that rates appear differently depending on what country to search from.
They did not, however, make this connection immediately. Instead coming to the most obvious conclusion for any parent. Our kid doesn't know an airfare from a hole in the ground. Either that or he's forgotten how the decimal system works.
This sent them into a panic, searching for other places to go. Deciding that now they wanted to go to Athens.
Thus beginning another round of stifled back and fourth communication. BTW, back and fourth each require a full day respectively with my parents as they are living in Libya and don't have access to regular telephones, just a jenky skype connection and email accounts which always seem to take at least a full day to respond to. Granted, communication with my parents has never been smooth sailing even when they lived in the US and had access to 3 phone lines and high speed WiFi.
I could drone on and on about how the majority of my family were born with a genetic aversion to committing to a plan more than 5 minutes before it happens, but it's probably better to leave out all the insane details. Suffice it to say that eventually we came full circle as we almost always do. The conversation going something like this..
|Can you give me directions to Parthenon?|
Me: I did some research and the average temperature in Athens during March is about 50F. The ferries all shut down in the off season (now) so we won’t be able to get to any islands or travel around easily. Also, there are riots and protests all over with people throwing Molotov cocktails at police.
Parents: But It’s $5,000 cheaper for everyone to fly to Greece than Indonesia!
Me: The numbers I got are only $400 more to fly to Indonesia and the cost of staying there is 75% less overall so I think it will be cheaper in the long run.
Parents: But we’re looking at the numbers right here on the computer and they are different. Maybe you forgot to carry the 1. You know it's a comma and not a period in the price right?
Me: I just did a search for airfare, telling the site I was processing payment in Libya and all the fares came up more expensive.
Parents: You can do that?
Me: Yes, there’s a box you can enter the… Nevermind, that’s not the point. The numbers I sent you are correct I just need to buy them in the US. Just trust me.
Parents: But when we search it’s more expensive.
Me: That’s what I’m saying!
Parents: hmmmm. We still doubt your competence.
Me: If I buy the tickets here in the US they will cost less because there’s no exchange rate and Libyan taxes and fees or whatever to finance Gadhafi’s collection of aviator sunglasses
Parents: Maybe we can install some sort of firewall hacker program that will hide what country we are in from the internet and confuse it so we can see the prices you‘re talking about and order the tickets from here, so as not to risk you having control over the booking process, thereby possibly sending us to Antarctica.
Me: You’re not going to be able to hide what country the internet connection is coming out of, it’s all controlled by the government there. It's not like Libya has an IP address.
Parents: We’ll try and get back to you.
…4 days later…
Parents: It didn’t work.
Parents: Okay, so you were right all along. We contacted our travel agent and they confirmed.
Me: Like usual when we debate something related to technology, movies, the internet or the 21st century.
Parents: Yeh yeh, we should have just trusted you. Whatevz.
Me: Maybe once in a while.
Parents: Our vacation dates changed again. Can you find out the airfares for leaving March 11th?
Oh yeh, I forgot to mention that while all this was happening, my laptop (on which I had saved like a thousand half-blog-posts) was savaged by the ghost of shitty manufacturing past and exploded on me. Again. That’s TWICE before our first anniversary. Suck it HP! And you too Windows 7. Updating yourself on your own and corrupting all my files while I was asleep . You guys are a couple of douche bags.
And remember Red Picket Fence? The passion project I’ve been banging out for the last thousand years was finally up and running. Designed and perfected and ready to upload awesome articles from the coolest group of misfits ever assembled in all blogdom. Then Helen came along.
|Prepare to die puny website!|
Somewhere in all this we are also looking for a house in Portland, booking accommodations abroad, trying to communicate with my workaholic biological father in Australia, feeding the dogs (and dealing with the repercussions), navigating all the other gnarly family schtuff (dramas too intense to commit to the everlasting public tomes of the internet), Power washing our moss covered deck in 30F weather and trying to keep up with regular day job work, house keeping and the like.
And that’s just the last two months.
Now all we need to do is pack up our cabin, clean everything perfectly so my grandmother won’t break her back scrubbing and organizing the place while we’re gone. Pack for 2 months of travel, load the dogs in our Matrix and drive to San Diego where the In-laws have graciously offered to allow our three furry poop machines to run around their huge backyard while we globe trot.
All in all 2011 is off to a pretty intense start and I have to admit, so far it‘s been kicking my ass. But I am still hopeful that we are somehow paying the majority of our dues early on. Grinding out all the stressful, panic inducing chaos causing trials and tribulations in preparation for a year filled with amazing adventures and incredible blessings.
The truth is, in the end it’s always worth the turmoil. Life is insane. The only thing that changes is where the insanity comes from. The good news is that the time to kick rocks is nearly upon us and soon we’ll be on the road with nothing to worry about but the next stop. That, and keeping up a consistent blog regimen of course.
So get ready people. And tell your friends that we‘re back in the game. Triton Cove is going international. In just a week, we’ll officially be transforming into a travel blog!
Bring it on 2011, what’s next?