Letting it All Hang Out

S Ralph

By: Shannon Ralph

I am not feeling like my usual cheerful self today. Perhaps it is PMS. Or sleep deprivation brought on by my dear children’s continued refusal to sleep in their own beds. Or perhaps it is a result of my going back to work full-time and seeing my children less than ever. Maybe it has something to do with the constant barrage of television coverage and never-ending sound bites from the Republican presidential candidates getting under my skin and irritating me to no end. Or maybe it is merely the byproduct of being a thirty-nine-year-old woman standing on the precipice of a new, and rather distasteful, decade. Whatever the reason, I find myself feeling a bit pissy today. Rather than keeping all of that irritation locked inside where it can bubble and fester and cause me to break out in zits and lose my appetite (which, by the way, would not be a complete tragedy), I have decided to share my frustration with you, the loyal readers of The Next Family. Here are the issues that have pushed me to the edge of sanity this week alone:

My uncle Chris —my mom’s brother— was just diagnosed with cancer. I always thought all twelve of the Hardesty siblings were invincible. I am realizing now that might not be true, and it pisses me off.

My dog needs a second surgery on her eye. I knew there was a chance the first surgery wouldn’t take, but it still pisses me off.

My eldest son is brilliant…but different. Schools are not equipped to handle smart kids who think differently. My partner, Ruanita, was the same way as a child and grew up hating school and thinking she was not as smart as everyone else. That just pisses me off.

When it gets really cold outside, the driver-side door on my minivan freezes. It will open, but will not close again. That is, until I trudge back into the house, get a pitcher of warm water, trudge back outside again, and pour the water on the door. Then, and only then, will the door latch shut. On a crisp, below-zero Minnesota morning —when I should expect it, but still manage to be taken completely off guard— that van really pisses me off.

My cell phone will not display the correct scores on Words with Friends. No matter how many times I uninstall and reinstall the app, it still lists wildly inaccurate scores on every game. I am competitive to the point of obnoxiousness and have had to fight the urge on numerous occasions to hurl my brand new phone out the window. That just pisses me off.

I want to lose weight before our beach trip this summer. No matter how much I want it, however, food sings to me. Mexican, Chinese, American, Indian, Italian…I am not prejudiced against any nationality. I will eat it all. And I do. And that pisses me off.

This Minnesota winter is driving me mad. Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining about the balmy 40 degree days. I am not complaining about the lack of six-foot snow drifts. I am not complaining about the shortage of ice that I have managed to bust my ass on every single year since moving to the frigid northland. I am actually trying to enjoy the warmer weather. But, having come to be a true Minnesotan after fourteen years here, I do not trust it. I do not believe that winter simply will not come. I do not trust that Mother Nature will be so generous. I am waiting for the other shoe to fall. I am waiting for the hell that is a Minnesota winter to materialize. That waiting and wondering and dreading drives me mad. And it pisses me off.

The underwire in my favorite blue bra broke yesterday. I felt it pop while sitting at my desk at work. I spent the afternoon being poked and prodded by an errant wire in regions that are better left un-poked and un-prodded. Now I have to go bra shopping. Not a pleasant task for a woman who, five years after a twin pregnany, still has the largest boobs this side of Dollywood. Bra shopping just pisses me off.

My children are addicted to screens —computer screens, television screens, video game screens. And worse yet, I think it is my fault. That really pisses me off.

Last night, I went to bed feeling perfectly fine and woke up this morning feeling like I had sprained my ankle. I could barely walk.  Who injures themselves in the dead of night in the safe confines of their memory foam covered bed?? I’ll tell you who. Old people. Old people with brittle bones and worn joints. Grrrr…that pisses me off.

I have more gray hair than Ruanita despite her being eight and a half years older than me. That pisses me off.

The Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory has 1109 calories per slice. That is so wrong for something that tastes so right. And it pisses me off.

Third grade homework, as a general rule, pisses me off.

After giving birth to twins, I wet myself when I cough. Or sneeze. Or laugh too heartily. Considering I am not even forty years old yet, that really pisses me off.

Parents who do not teach their children even the most basic concepts of respect and good manners really piss me off.

Pompous asses touting the merits of “traditional marriage” while cheating on their spouses and divorcing left and right really piss me off. Yes…I am talking to you, Newt.

People who give up and shut down when the going gets tough piss me off.

Money pisses me off. When you don’t have it, it sucks. When you do have it and everyone else wants it, it sucks. When you fight with your spouse about it, it sucks. When you try to save it, but manage to fritter it away anyway, it sucks. When you spend it on yourself and then feel guilty for weeks, it sucks. In general, money is a necessary evil that just pisses me off.

My Uncle Joey, who has been living with AIDS since I was a senior in high school (many, many years ago) isn’t doing so great. After decades of watching friends and loved ones die, he is still hanging on. Everything he has seen and everything he has been forced to endure really pisses me off.

I can’t button the third button of my winter coat without it gaping unattractively. That pisses me off.

I do not like the people who go to Target on Sunday afternoon. People who are there at the crack of dawn like me are serious shoppers. We adhere to proper shopping etiquette. We know what we want. We smile politely at one another as we push our carts at a reasonable pace around the store sipping our Starbucks lattes. Target is an oasis in an otherwise crazy world at 8:00 on a Sunday morning. In many ways, it is my “church.” My fellow early bird shoppers are my congregation. We worship the almighty red while bathed in mutual respect and peace. Afternoons, however, are a different story.  Sunday afternoon shoppers are a different breed altogether. They bring their children along, dressed in their Sunday best. They refuse to correct their children when they run through the store screaming like crack addicts desperate for a hit. They refuse to move their children when they stand absentmindedly in front of your cart blocking your way. As a matter of fact they, themselves, will stand in an aisle with their cart parked sideways blocking all traffic as they discuss the merits of chili beans versus kidney beans. They’re freaking beans, for God’s sake! Can they not sense that I am about to go all ninja on them in the middle of the Target aisle? They do not understand —or perhaps they simply do not care about— the basic social graces of shopping. Sunday afternoon shoppers really piss me off.

On a related note, I also hate the check-out crowders. You know the people. The ones who are so very anxious to get through the check-out line that they will not wait their turn. As you step away for a brief moment to put your bags in your cart, they assume their position in front of the credit card machine. Refusing to budge. Even as you tap into your inner contortionist to try to sign your name on the little credit card machine without getting intimate with a total stranger, they do not move. Back the hell up, dude! Check-out line space invaders piss me off.

I hate having to parallel park my minivan in front of my own house. I believe the entire neighborhood should give my minivan wide berth. Anything less completely pisses me off.

My neighbors across the street have moved. I really liked my neighbors. Sure, the dad had a habit of ambushing me with play dates (showing up at my door out of the blue with kids in tow asking if they can come over and play while he waxes his deck or paints his living room or sits on his ass and eats nachos and watches the game…I don’t know). But I still liked both him and his wife a lot. They are just really nice people. I hadn’t seen them in a while because it is winter and the kids aren’t outside playing as much. Suddenly, last week, there was a moving van in front of their house and they announced that they had bought a house in the suburbs and were moving. Just like that. That day. They were just gone. And we are left to wonder what kind of people are going to buy the tiny yellow house with the peeling paint across the street. I miss them already. And that pisses me off.

Looking in the mirror this morning, I noticed that my face is looking more and more like that of a forty-year-old. I am beginning to regret my youthful decision to refuse to wear make-up. To never learn to apply make-up properly. To spend my life au naturale. The finer art of make-up is something I may just have to learn late in life. And that pisses me off.

Wow. That was quite a tantrum. Strangely, I feel better. Perhaps letting it all out occasionally is the way to go. Maybe sharing my frustrations and irritations is healthy. Allowing myself to voice all of the crazy thoughts that run through my head on a daily basis is a good thing, right? Then again, there is something to be said for maintaining a facade of sanity.

I suppose that ship has already sailed, huh?

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