Life Adjacent to the D

I live close to Detroit. Depending on who you ask my town could be considered a sub of Detroit. Detroit makes the news for all kinds of reasons most of which are not so good but have you seen the articles about it making a comeback? There are some really great things to do in Detroit and this weekend was full of them. It was decided we should take full advantage. My boyfriend & I, both second shifters, set the alarm for 6am. I can’t tell you the last time I saw 6am from the right side. It’s usually because I’ve been up all night.

The Sunday after Mother’s Day is flower day at Eastern Market. Eastern Market is basically the best farmers’ market you can imagine and today it was being taken over by flowers.

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Unfortunately we were ill prepared for what we would encounter. At 7am it was already packed with people and wagons. That’s where we went wrong – no wagon. Therefore anything purchased had to be carried a couple blocks. Whew. I only purchased a couple Azaleas and called it good. It was really great to walk around and see everything though. I’ll go back to Eastern Market this summer when it’s not flower day to get all sorts of goodies.

Also happening this past weekend was the Detroit Comic Con which we attend almost every year. It actually doesn’t happen in Detroit at all but about 30+ minutes away at a convention center. My boyfriend enjoys these things and the shopping. While he shops I people watch and  snap pictures.

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I love that people get so into nerdy things. I wore a Doctor Who tee-shirt and enjoyed the scene. I also bought some prints from artists’ alley. I would like to get them framed and hung in the very near future. One of my favorite artists is Tommy Castillo who is common to see at these kinds of events. Between my boyfriend and I we have an embarrassing number of his prints.

All in all it was a crazy busy weekend. I spent too much money and had boatloads of fun.

The Bogart

Urban Dictionary defines the term Bogart as “to keep something all for oneself, thus depriving anyone else of having any.”

Usually it’s used in a drug related context like “Hey Man, quit Bogarting that joint and pass it over here.” Obviously that’s not what’s going on here, though considering my stress level of late….

Someone (he Who Shall Not be Named) tried to Bogart my Mother’s Day. Well, him and his “one true wife” (seriously, that’s what he calls her when he’s emailing me and telling me how super fantastic and really really great this woman is in comparison to me), his PIC (partner in crime), the other pea in his pod of evilness…you get the idea. They tried to steal my Mother’s Day joy.

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Because, as you may or may not know, I’ve historically had some pretty fucking fantastic Mother’s Days (said very sarcastically).

This year was going to be different though. I talked to the kids ahead of time and impressed on them that they were going to do something for me then got breakfast foods that I knew they could prepare. I’ve also greatly adjusted my expectation for days like Mother’s Day…and my birthday…and Christmas. Not that it doesn’t make me a little sad when my older kids get me nothing (yup, nothing at all) for Christmas and buy their asshole dad (yeah, the one who shall not be named) a football jersey.

It’s a whole different dynamic when you’re the only parent/adult in the house. There’s no one to remind and enable the kids to get or do something for you. Their dad has his One True Wife to go on eBay and order something then collect the money from the kids so they can get him a gift. And great for him. But there’s no one like that around here. I understand and will take steps to remedy that next year (Note to self: hurry up and find a significant other so the kids will get me a freakin birthday present. Must work quickly as said birthday is next month.)

This year all I expected and really wanted was a relaxing day with my kids. Maybe I’d pick them up, take a nap (since I would be coming off a 12 hour night shift), have the brunch they prepared, and we’d watch a movie together (aka they’d watch a movie while I slept on the couch). My daughter, being a girl (and therefor inherently more considerate) and artsy in nature, would probably have made me a gift and I knew my youngest had made me something at Kindergarten. He had mentioned it the week before and was excited for my surprise.

The first fly in my honey of this day of recognition and appreciation came from the ex when I emailed to say I couldn’t pick the kids up right at nine (I get done working at 9a.m.) but I’d be there by 9:30 at the latest. This just was not acceptable to him because he and the little wife had to leave right at nine and, even though our kids are 15, 14, 12, 10, & 5, he would not leave them alone for less than half an hour. He stated that he does not trust me alone at his residence…Umm, yeah, because I really want to go in and have a look around or something. Riiight.

I assured him that I had no interest whatsoever in going in his house, I just wanted to pick up the kids, and it’s a little silly to have someone drive out to get the kids over a twenty minute time difference. No dice. Logic has no effect on that one. He and his wife had to leave precisely by 9:10 at the vary latest and if I couldn’t be there by then I was the one “not abiding by the court order” and (in his mind at least) therefore forfeiting my holiday parenting time. I don’t really think that’s how it worked but I wasn’t going to fight with him over something so stupid.

So I arranged for my parents to pick up the kids but they had to stop by my work and get my van first. Their car only seats 5. Good to go, problem solved. Though now I had no excuse for not getting my own mom a Mother’s Day gift.  I relayed this information to the father of my children and he assured me they would be up since “they already had alarms set to make (Step mom) breakfast.”

At 8:55 Sunday morning (while I was still at work trying to finish up) my daughter called asking when I would be there. Seriously? Ugh. I told her grandma & grandpa were on their way and would be there shortly. I had a chance to look out the window a minute or two later and happened to notice that my van was still in the parking lot. Crap! My parents’ car (which I had seen pull in like ten minutes earlier), however, was not. Turns out my van wouldn’t start so my dad left my mom waiting in my unstarting van for me to finish my shift while he went to pick up the kids from my angry ex.

How do I know he was angry? The two kids who have cell phones had called me a total of five times in ten minutes. I answered the last of these calls at 9:06 and could hear both He Who Shall Not be Named and his One True Wife yelling and screaming about me being late (how irresponsible & selfish I am and so on and so forth). Good times right there!

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My dad got to the ex’s house and picked up the kids less than a minute later. Seriously, he got there at 9:07. My kids had spent the past fifteen minutes at least with their outraged dad yelling and berating anyone and everyone over seven minutes…on Mother’s Day.

Once the kids were picked up things did start to improve. My van started and my mom and I got doughnuts and chocolate milk for everyone. My lovely daughter did indeed make me a painting but when I asked the little guy about the present he made me at school he looked downcast and said “Dad made me give it to (Step mom) because I was at his house this morning.”

What the fuck? Those bitches just Bogarted my Mother’s Day gift. The last kindergarten Mother’s Day gift I will ever get, one that was clearly made for ME…because, you know, I’m the kid’s actual mother. That’s taking asshole to a whole new level right there!

I can’t say I wasn’t more than a little upset about that one but what can you do? I’ll tell you what: take a nap, get pizza, and play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.

Despite the best efforts of some people, I was determined to have some positive, relaxing time with my kids. I guess that’s about as good as it gets.

...annd just for fun.

…annd just for fun.

The Key to Happiness is Low Expectations.

said Barry Scwartz (His actual wording is “The secret to happiness is low expectations.”).
I kind of thought I said it first, that it was an original idea of my very own. Turns out Solomon (ya know, the biblical guy) was right when he said “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Or something to that effect.
So this guy Barry Schwartz has a whole book about low expectations leading to higher levels of happiness. I haven’t read it but I did watch his TED talk about the book which is called “The Paradox of Choice”. It frames the concept of low expectations contributing to happiness in the context of choices; I came to this conclusion based more on my interactions with people.

Another way I’ve phrased it, to myself, is “The key to not being disappointed is low expectations.”
This idea is one I developed over the past couple years of life experiences. After being let down, stood up, blown off, and generally disappointed with people it occurred to me over and over that if I expect less from people I won’t be disappointed and angry when they aren’t there for me or don’t follow through with what they say they’re going to do. They would merely live up to my expectations of them.
Maybe this sounds cynical or pessimistic. I won’t deny being a little cynical at times but I think , in this case, I’m just being realistic.

Think about a movie that has gotten a lot of media hype. The reviews are great, the ratings are high. You go to see it with high expectations. Chances are you are going to be disappointed. Your preconceived ideas of what the movie should be lead to a less than satisfactory experience when you actually get around to see the movie.
Now think of the last movie you saw that you just didn’t expect that much from.
You weren’t disappointed were you? Chances are it was either exactly as bad as you expected it to be or you were pleasantly surprised. You thought it was going to be terrible and ,hey, it really wasn’t that bad…maybe it was even good. The blogger Ladygoogoogaga gives a pretty hilarious example of this.

An experience I had Last Mother’s Day shows the relationship between expectations and happiness and how it played out in my life.
I work every other weekend and my kids are with their dad on the weekends I work. Last year I worked Mother’s Day weekend but my ex-husband oh so generously let me take the kids for the day on Mother’s Day. I went straight from working a twelve hour night shift to his house to pick up the kids.
I just wanted to see my kids and have a nice Mother’s Day with them. You know, like in all the Hallmark commercials, full of smiles, sunshine, and happiness.
I knew they were alone so I called to tell them I was on my way. When I arrived they were not ready to leave. A couple of them were in a less than good mood, maybe they had been fighting with each other like siblings do. I was a little annoyed. My daughter and second to youngest son said “Happy Mother’s Day” and my daughter had made me a card. That was nice.
My oldest two gave me attitude.
That was not.
When we got back to my house the kids made me lunch…because I told them to. Then we all sat down to a rather grouchy meal.
At that point I remember thinking “I thought this would be a nice day, I should’ve just slept.” I was expecting to be appreciated and to enjoy time with my kids. That is the point of the day right? Most my kids are old enough to know and do something about this.
A little later that day my eight year old son told me that their dad had told them they “would probably have a new step-mom by this time next year” in reference to the woman he’d been dating for a month. Happy fucking Mother’s Day to me!
Here’s the thing, I was super tired. My kids were tired and probably having a bad weekend. Expecting a pleasant and lovely day was unrealistic and not especially fair to them. If I was more in touch with reality that day I would not have been so disappointed.

Here’s another example. There was this guy I would go out with from time to time. He always said nice things and really seemed to enjoy our time together. We’d make plans to go out and he’d say he was looking forward to it. Then five out of six times he would cancel on me. Sometimes the day before. Once or twice I would be on my way to meet him and he’d call or text with something that had come up. Each time I would be frustrated and upset. But every few weeks I’d make plans with him again. Most of the time I ended up alone, upset, and extremely disappointed.
This went on for a few months.
I let this go on for a few months.
I don’t think he was lying to me or making up excuses because he didn’t want to see me. I just think he had a lot of family drama to deal with and didn’t realize how much he was letting me down.
Obviously he was not a reliable person but I kept expecting him to be.
We all know at least one person like that.
We also all know or have had interactions with someone who is just a jerk.
I know everyone is a jerk or behaves badly once in a while; that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about individuals who make a habit of it. They repeatedly treat people close to them badly. They’re inherently selfish and can be pretty mean. Hopefully you’re not close to someone like that. It’s not a fun place to be. But if someone has been a jerk to you or treated you badly over and over again chances are high that they will treat you badly in the future. Expecting them to suddenly be or act differently is unrealistic and is only setting yourself up to be treated badly.
It’s like expecting Eminem to release a kid friendly album. It’s just not going to happen; that’s not who he is. He even says it in one of the songs on his latest album, “Everyone knows you are just an asshole” (referring to himself).
He’s not going to change. He’s going to be what he is and what he’s shown himself to be.

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To expect anything different would be silly.

I’m not by any means saying you should settle for or allow yourself to be treated badly.
I’m not saying you need to lower your standards in life.
Not at all.
Have standards. Have high standards. You deserve to be respected, to be treated with dignity.
Every human being does.
But you should have realistic expectations for people. There are no perfect people especially in relationships. If you’re waiting for prince charming or that perfect woman, guess what.
You will always be disappointed.

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Life isn't a fairy tale, you're not Snow White.

Having unobtainable ideals will guarantee that no one will live up to them. You are setting yourself up to be unhappy either with the person you do find or because you just can’t find anyone good enough.
People are who they are; you can’t change them but you can change your expectations for them and be less disappointed. If you have to lower your expectations too much then maybe that isn’t a person you should have in your life.

A conversation between my co-blogger(and friend and co-worker) and myself last night summed up the point I’m trying to make. The question was asked “What one person, dead or alive, would you have coffee with if you had the chance?”
I said Batman.
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She said her great-grandfather.
She knew him and admired him when she was very young and he was very old.
She said she’d like the chance to get to actually know who he was as a person. My response was “But what if you find out that he was a douche bag?” Yeah, I know, real mature language.
But what if you found out that someone you admired as a young child was not nice or not the person you had thought they were? Not only would you feel let down and disappointed, but the cherished memories you had of that person would also be ruined. It would be a major disillusionment.
She said that No, she wouldn’t be disillusioned or admire him any less because she “wouldn’t expect him to be anything less than human.”
How she remembered him would still make him the person he was to her.
Basically our conversation boiled down to this:
It is unfair to other people and especially to ourselves to expect people to be anything other than who they are.
Lower your expectations and you will not be disappointed.
Maybe it’ll even allow you to be happy.