Thursday, September 29, 2011

Snot shower

Cycling to work at the moment is glorious. It's nippy... but that early-morning pre-warmth chill, rather than this-is-as-good-as-it's-gonna-get winter chill. 

The sun is coming up later, so now I find myself cycling to work just after sunrise. Which, while somewhat depressing (long days are over), is beautiful as the low rays strike through the trees and settle and shimmer on the still canals. We deserve it, after the rotten, sodden summer that we were subjected too. It's so good that even GBM is prepared to take a gentle cycle into town with me, just to enjoy the decent-ish weather while it lasts. 

So there we were, cycling together this morning along a particularly tranquil patch of unkempt grass, looking beautiful in its unmanicured state. The dew was still fresh and sparkly on the leaves, warmed with a slight orange hue from the early morning rays that were just starting to kiss the ground. Everything in front of us was in golden silhouette, as we topped a small bridge, heading directly towards the rising sun. 

We were behind a slower cyclist, and GBM had just made to pass him when the guy turned his head in the same direction, put his right hand up to his face - and without-hesitation, explosively blew out the contents of his left nostril. I was close enough behind the nasal expulsion to get a beautiful demonstration of just how far snot can fly when backlit by early morning sun. 

The fact that the two of us were directly in his mucous-trajectory did not perturb the snotter in the slightest. He turned his head the other way, raised left hand and loudly expelled the remains from his other nostril, complete with the same spectacular splay of visual mucousity. 

I'm fairly confident I caught both angles directly in the face. I'm so glad we could share that moment with him, and will shortly be sharing his cold and flu germs too. It was awesome. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making cents

I hate that stores still insist on quoting stupid sodding prices, a few cents below a nice round number, because we're all too stupid to realise that 0.99 is NOT the same difference as paying 1euro. 

I understand the psychology that it looks less, but surely this only works on larger amounts - like 900 versus 1000euros. A difference of 100 bucks is worth considering... if you're looking at spending that much anyway.

But "Now just 9.99 euro!"...? 
Call it a tenner and forget the sodding coins. 

At least supermarkets have taken the liberty of rounding up or down to the nearest 5c. So now, when your bill comes to 34.44, they'll give you 1x 5cent piece instead of 3x 2c coins. Woo-frikken-hoo. 

But there are still a lot of 1c and 2c pieces in circulation. It irritates me, but for the most part I don't care. I take the nitty-gritty coppers and generally just chuck them in a pile, to be ignored or thrown away. GBM on the other hand, actually uses them. He will, on principle, stand and count out the exact amount. It's a running joke between us, and I kinda love him for his old-man crotchetiness about it.  

So, who is more right or more wrong, when GBM wanted to pay the exact amount... but the Albert Heijn supermarkt would not accept it?

The total on the till, said 34.44. 
The cashier quoted 34.45, as is company policy. 
GBM wanted - and had exact coins - to pay the 44 cents precisely. 
Neither would budge. Managers were summoned.

GBM's POV: "It's just one cent."
AH staff's POV: "It's just one cent."

Eventually GBM had to cave - he paid the up-scaled version. I'm pretty sure (okay VERY sure) that I would've stormed off without paying, stomping on the groceries and spitting on their flower display on the way out.

But it would be nothing more than a hissy-fit. 

We would have to go back anyway - it's our local supermarket, and the Dirk v/d Broek chain across the way has exactly the same policy. So we can't exactly vote with our feet. You don't need to be a maths genius to know that "rounding up" means that the supermarkets are making more than just a few cents here and there  with this system. 

Still, I don't understand why you can't be allowed to pay exact amount when you actually have it. 

Either that, or please can we all stop pretending that 99c is any different to 1 euro? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back from hiatus

I went away with the in-laws last week. Beautiful holiday, with lovely company. Including GBM's two nieces, 2-year-old and a 3-month-old. I love them dearly, they are both sweet, good-natured and will soon be independent happy little girls. Just in case anyone is wondering, spending a week with them did not grow me a maternal bone. Rather, it had the opposite effect. 

But it did give me a renewed appreciation for just how hard it is to be a parent. 

I can barely get myself out of the house in under an hour. In fact, it's usually closer to two hours, from wake up to closing the front door. There's feeding and burping and at least two potty-breaks. Then there's the usual fight to put on clothes, with the obligatory 10 to 20 minutes of running around in underwear and having a temper tantrum about hair. And that's just me on a normal week day morning. It's three times worse with two kids. There is no ways I would cope on a daily basis. No, thank you ma'am. 

And all this palava, after nights of most-likely very disrupted sleep, because the little one needs a feed and the other one has been up because of bad dreams, or insecurity or just generally screaming, "noooooooooooooo!" which is apparently the only word in her vocab at 3am. 

Nooooooo... thank you.

Again, it's not because of these two girls specifically. I would drop anything for them. 
Speaking of dropping...

Well, I didn't actually drop her. It was more a topple. Out of her rocking chair. Which thank god, was already on the floor when I tipped her out. And she was strapped into it, so she didn't have far to go. But, the fact remains, that I was the supposed-adult responsible for looking after the 3-month-old. And I knocked her chair on its side, sending the little one sprawling. And that's all it took to give the kid a black eye. 

They call me Aunty Bruiser. 
At least, I think that's what they would call me. If they were talking to me.

Thank god, it was the second child. As it was, I was not left unsupervised for the rest of the week. Which is fair enough. Thank god, both mom and dad have been parents for long enough to know that these things happen. If it had been the first child, or if - god forbid - I had been the very first adult to drop either of their kids, I doubt I would've been let back into the house. 

The poor baby had a slightly swollen cheek below her eye, which was visible for less than a day. But I still felt sick to the stomach every time I saw it. I honestly wanted to cry, and was nauseous with guilt. Is this what it would feel like every time your child gets hurt? Or just when you feel responsible for letting it happen, or worse, are the accidental cause of the injury? Or do you get over it, does it become easier to see a scraped knee or hear your child screaming from fright and pain? 

No thank you, ma'am. I'll not be signing up for that emotional trauma, exhaustion and under-appreciation. 

Gimme a puppy any day. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Overheard in Amsterdam

As I was walking back from the shops yesterday, I heard a lady talking to a guy, in impeccable English... beautifully enunciated... which made the following all the more surprisingly...

"When we get home, I'm going to spank your bottom. And then..."

Unfortunately they moved out of ear shot very quickly. But because it was so clear, and in perfect English, I  have no doubt about what was being said. I know what I heard, but I do wonder what else was in store for the poor (or lucky) bugger.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My first day at 30

Last night, I was literally blown into my thirties as I cycled home - at least, that's what it felt like the wind was trying to do. But, what'd you know... it wasn't so bad. I've survived my first day as a working thirty-something. 

To celebrate my big day, I put in an extra effort this morning - I decided to let my hair curl (with the wind and rain, there was no point in doing otherwise), I put on snazzy patterned stockings, a snappy purple collared shirt tucked into my grey skirt. A little business, a little fun. I combined it with a trendy neckerchief-scarf and my outfit was complete. I arrived at work, in heels, in style.

I totally ROCKED my first day as a 30 year old. You know what was the best part of my day? 
When I realised that I had my shirt on inside out. 

Fortunately the tucked-in shirt hid the side label and the lucky little neckerchief did a good job of covering the tags at the neckline. And you know, these days, modern fashion dictates that the seams should look tatty and a bit rough cut. People pay a lot of money for that look. Sometimes. 

Yup, same old. I might be wiser and maybe slightly more wrinkled (although GBM assured me this was not the case), but I'm still me. What a relief.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Poo updates

This morning I had a great poo. It was fairly loose in consistency but was spot on time for my normal motion-hours, so I am pleased to report that movements are nice and routine. I failed to get a look at the colour, but from previous movements over the last few days, I'm fairly confident that it would be a standard brown. 

How do you feel about this update? Did you pull a face as you read it, was it too much of an over-share? If someone were to give you a breakdown on their cat or dog's most recent feces, would you be enraptured by the update and pleased when they concluded that the little pet's poop has sufficiently progressed from liquid squits to solid plops?

I don't know about you, but I don't want to hear about poo. If you're sick, tell me that you're sick and you'll get sympathy and best wishes. But please, don't tell me in gross detail about your excremental suffering. 

I think most people feel this way. We all poo, but no one really needs to know about it. Why then is it socially-acceptable the moment you have a baby to discuss their shit in such massive detail? 

On Saturday, we were joined by a couple who have an 8 week old baby. The little tyke had just had a poo before they joined us. It was fairly solid, about 2cm in length and an adult-finger in width. It was dark brown. It was his first defecation for the day. Overnight he filled two diapers with liquid shit. That was light brown. Some of it went up his back and ran down his legs. It was when she started talking about sucking snot out of her son's nose, that I completely switched off from the conversation and fell asleep. I woke up when the adults are allowed to talk again. 

I can understand that knowing the contents of your child's nappy is very important. To you. Whether he has, or has not, shat pure gold or strings of spagetti is not of any consequence to me - other than putting me off the lunch that I was inevitably enjoying up until this topic domination. 

I realise this will sound very unsympathetic to the plight of parents. I really do understand that your baby becomes your world - and this is how it should damn-well be. If you're not putting your child as number one (and therefore top talking point), then you probably shouldn't be a parent in the first place. But this is also one of the multitude of reasons why I don't want kids. I don't want to be that person that repulses and/or bores non-family members about their offspring's puke, snot and poop. I don't want to be that panicking parent, rushing my toddler to the ER because he has a streak of suspicious-looking maroon running through his turd, only to learn that he has developed a taste for multi-coloured wax crayons. 

The only people who are interested in a particular baby's kak-updates are family members and very close friends. No one else cares, unless it makes for a funny anecdote, and those don't happen as often as some parents might like to think. Statistical updates on the diameter of anyone's shit never used to be appropriate dinner conversation, so I don't see why it should be when you have kids. 

I know it's unavoidable topic in the parental mine-field. Friends have chosen to breed - and they will mention diaper changes, or poo consistency. But it's not ALL they talk about, and that's why we're still friends. I really don't mind hearing a bit about your kid's poo. I know it's important to you and I want to hear how things are going. We all dominate conversations with things that are important to us. But you know what's not cool? Letting me know about every nappy-change. 

I think the only way to avoid becoming that person who can talk, non-stop, for an hour about nothing but their child's poop, is to not have kids. 

Friday, September 02, 2011

It's my party and I'll whine if I want to

I am 360 moons old, this month. 

I will also shortly be - much as I hate to admit it - entering my third decade. 

When my friends gasped and muttered in horror about turning 30 before me, I rolled my eyes and thought, "what's the diff? It's not a big deal..." I kinda always thought that once I got there, I'd be ready. As if turning 30 was an exam that my friends simply hadn't suitably swatted up for.

But now that I'm teetering on the edge of my... *choke*...  thirties (oh god!), I'm having a little minor freak out of my own. People in their thirties aren't allowed to skip and sing to themselves - unless they're on a day out from their asylum. 'Grown ups' are also apparently not supposed to spend hours entertaining themselves by blowing bubbles - and watching the bubbles float off - with delight. 

My mild age paranoia may also be slightly due to the fact that for the last 3 years I've been ox-headedly convincing myself (and fooling no one else) that I was still in my mid-twenties. 

I've tried to explain this shocked realisation to my friends, with varying response. Those younger than me shrug... because, it's not their problem. They're still in their mid-to-late twenties. When they get there, to where I'm standing, they'll be better prepared

The older friends, those in their early-to-mid thirties, are surprisingly chipper about the whole adventure on their side of the play-park. They're still pretty cool, and they're fun to hang out with, even if they've wed and bred and all that (not that that's an age thing, but anywho). 

In general, they seem to exude a "come on in, the water's GREAT!" attitude. 
And I don't trust them. 

So, I've decided I'm turning 29.95 and I'm sticking with that until further notice. 

*Amendment: it's just been pointed out that I am not in fact entering my third decade, but my fourth. Because apparently some people feel that I'm not having a big enough crisis as it is. I'm ignoring them. If I can stay in my twenties, I can stay in my third decade too.