Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Serial Killers and Family Values

I've always had this really weird, completely irrational fear that when I die, it will be at the hands of a sadistic serial killer. I know it doesn't make sense but for some reason, I always picture my life ending in the sickest way possible. I think on some level, everyone worries about how they are going to die. Will I be old and die in my sleep? That's best case scenario, of course. But I wonder if I'm the only one who worries about being tortured to death in a chamber of my own personal fears.

I always think of this shit when I'm out late and alone. The fear actually started right around the time I was 16 or so and I started having a life and I would get home late at night. We lived in an apartment building that was absolutely, without a doubt, haunted as all fuck. Or, more specifically, the hallway was haunted. By something that got it's kicks chasing me up the stairs.

I'm not crazy, and I never saw it. But when someone chases you up 3 fucking flights of stairs every single night, you know you aren't imagining it. I never said anything to anyone about it, so I was shocked to have my crazy fear confirmed (as much as it could be confirmed) several years after we moved out. My mom and I had been casually discussing our old home and she nonchalantly mentioned how she hadn't wanted to scare me so she never told me about the thing that used to chase her up the stairs (FYI though, ghost- that's a total bitch move).

Ok, but I'm getting off track here. I believe it ghosts. That isn't really my point. My point is that I would be scared shitless every night when I got home. Whatever it was that chased us was clearly not friendly and it made my mind wander to other not-friendly things. It would come to be that any time I was alone, outside of my house at night, I would be afraid of someone attacking me in the night and murdering the shit out of me. It got to the point that I was afraid to stop at red lights on my way home from work because I was sure some psychopath was waiting in the intersection for an easily abductable victim.

I'm not as scared as I used to be. I don't work nights anymore and I'm rarely alone, but it can still end up on my mind on those occasional dark-and-stormy type nights. So to make myself feel better, I try to think of all the reasons I don't fit the profile of someone a serial killer would abduct, torture and murder. Let's do a little research, shall we?

Charles Manson: Hippie. Preyed on the perpetually stoned to do his dirty work. It would seem to me that he wanted notariety more than he actually wanted to kill people, because he didn't do any of the actual murdering himself. So definitely a psycho, but this type of killer won't ever bother with me, because I'm not super rich and famous. Just super awesome, really.

Ted Bundy: This guy had a type. Young and thin. I'm almost 30 and not at all thin. I'm clearly adorable, but I'm pretty sure most serial killers go for the skinny, easy kill. Nobody wants to be fighting off a fat girl. Also, his victims were kinda dumb. "I have a cast on my arm, want to go over to this secluded area with me? I promise I won't kill you!". No, that would never happen to me.

Green River Killer/Jack the Ripper: Liked hookers. And this bitch ain't no ho.

John Wayne Gacy/Jeffrey Dahmer: Were all about the dudes. Why can't you just admit that you are gay and move on with your life?

Ok. So now that we have established that I'm old, fat, poor, morally sound and penisless, we can all agree that I'm not a target, right? Right! So I'm sure you are wondering "but why Jaclyn? Why would you post on your blog that is allegedly about parenting and talk about fucking serial killers? You are kind of a sick bitch, you know that?". Well, obviously I have a perfectly reasonable and not at all insane reason for thinking about murdering! My train was late today!

Let's backpeddle a little, shall we?

I have a pretty well established routine. My best bitch, Nadine and I work in the same office. She knows what time I get in every morning and she knows that if my train is running late, I'll send her a text so she can pass it along to our boss. Now, usually when a train is running late, you will receive some sort of alert about it. Whether it's on your phone or through email, or just announcements they are making at the station, I can usually have a pretty good idea if I'm going to be any significant amount of time late. So this morning, when I heard an announcement in the subway station where I wait for my train, I decided that the 5 minute delay they were informing commuters about didn't warrant a phone call. I'm usually early anyway and 5 minutes wasn't going to make any difference for me.

So my train comes 5 minutes late as promised. I get on and get a seat, which was pretty lucky because 5 minutes late really is the difference between the regular number of commuters and a metric butt-ton of extra people taking up all the seats. The train got going and all was normal for the first 2 stops. At the next stop, however, we were being held for some sort of signal problem and sat in that station for about 15 minutes.

I was starting to worry that I might be a few minutes late, but it's impossible to get cell phone signal in the subways so there wasn't much I could do to let my boss know. But we were off again after that 15 minute delay and I wasn't worried anymore. I would still only be about 5 minutes late, and we only had 2 more stops to go until mine. Next stop: Doors open, doors close. And nothing else happens. Another annoucement informed us that we were being held due to train congestion or some other bullshit. I should have expected congestion, I suppose. Allergy season and all. So we sat there at the stop before mine for another 30 minutes.

There wasn't anything I could do about it really, and I certainly wasn't stressing out or anything. In fact, I took a nice little nap while we waited. When we finally reached my stop and I made it out onto the street, my phone started beeping like crazy. I had a couple of missed texts and a voicemail.

The first message was from Nadine. I was now 40 minutes late for work and she was concerned because she hadn't heard from me. Then I see I have a text from Rodolfo. Nadine had panicked and called him because I didn't show up and never called her. I called him first, since my train stop is only half a block from my office and I knew I'd see Nadine very soon. He sounded very relieved and told me he had started making frantic phone calls to the transit company to see if there was some sort of problem. He had only found out about my train service issues right before I called him. Nadine was also very relieved to see me when I walked into work.

So now, let's wrap up this disjointed, clusterfuck of a post into a nice, neat little bow.

Serial killers. I realized today that a serial killer would not have enough time to kill me and dispose of my body before my loved ones came looking for me. And maybe he would kill me anyway, but that motherfucker would be brought to justice in like, a day. Because I've got people who come looking for me after only 40 minutes. So, I mean at least he definitely wouldn't have time to torture me and find out about all my secret fears and incorporate them into my horrifying death.

So thank you to the people in my life who care enough to make sure my theoretical untimely death is quick and painless.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Few Random Vacation Pictures


Dad's an asshole- Part 2

If you didn't read part 1, please do so before continuing. Otherwise you will absolutely think I'm a horrible person.

So. My dad. Where to begin. I guess I'll start with the last day of my vacation. My dad doesn't have what you would call a permanent residence. He never has, really. There was that one time a few years ago when he rented a $1400 a month, 3 bedroom apartment and filled it with the following 3 pieces of "furniture": 1. inflatable mattress, 2. desk, and 3. inflatable couch (I swear. I can't make this shit up). The majority of the rooms stayed empty until he was evicted 3 months later. But, quite honestly, he talks about how much he loved living there all the time. He's spent the last 30 years hopping around between motels, his car (when he has one), rooming houses and the homes of unwilling relatives. But that empty 3 bedroom apartment was his dream. Now before you go feeling sorry for him, don't forget about Part 1....all of this shit is his own fault. Really.

For about the last 6 months, my father had been living with my brother's ex-girlfriend and her son, my nephew Tyler. They've been struggling financially since she had left her boyfriend (not my brother- they have been broken up for years) and she thought my dad could help her out. He needed a place to stay after all, and she really needed the money. So he agreed to help her out with the rent and moved in. The first 3 months went well in the sense that he was able to pay his share of the rent each of those months due to a lucky streak with the lottery. It went downhill after that.

He couldn't pay his rent after that but continued living there. She was obviously frustrated, but figured at least she could get him to help her out and babysit for her younger child on the days (which was most days, honestly) he didn't go to work. He thought she was unreasonable and bitched incessantly about how annoying and inconvenient it was for him to have to help her out while he lived there rent free. It had been coming to a head for quite some time and as I planned my 12 day vacation and considered my options for dog sitters, I realized it would be the perfect solution for us both. I would get my dog sitter, and my poor ex sister-in-law would get a break from my dad.

So vacation came and went, and as we planned our return home, I emailed my father to remind him to pick us up at the airport (he doesn't have a car at the moment, and I left my car with him for his use). He emailed me back promising he would be there. And then he included a little piece of information that he thought I might find relevant. "I got kicked out of C.'s house- all my stuff is at your house". Oh. Great. Of course, Rodolfo's first reaction was to ask if my father thought he would be staying with us, and to be sure I clarified that point for him.

So once again, before you think I'm an asshole, let me explain something. My dad used to have a car. He also had a job that he went to at least mostly regularly that was about an hour's drive from where he was living. When his car died and he couldn't afford to get it fixed, he made a show of how expensive and time consuming public transportation to his job was going to be, but he kept up the charade for a week or two before he stopped going to work all together. Ironically, he had pitifully explained to his boss about how many jobs he had previously lost because of issues that made it hard for him to get to work regularly when he first started this job and the guy fell for his sad sad story and told him he would be understanding of that, and that he would let him work whenever he could show up. To say my dad abused this guy's kindness would be like saying Hitler had a slight distaste for Jews.

Anyway, my point is that despite never going to work, he is still welcome to get in a day's pay whenever he can make it there. So you would think that during the week and a half that I was gone, while he had full use of my car, he would have gone to work as much as possible. Every single day, in fact. The reality? He went twice (also note that I left on a Wednesday, not a weekend, so there were potentially 7 days he could have worked while I was gone). His reason? That he wouldn't have had gas to pick me up from the airport if he went to work every day, of course! Oh, and did I forget to mention how, on the way home from picking us up, he pointed out that he had put 700 miles on my car and wondered aloud how that was even possible when he didn't even go to work? 700 miles. My car has a small tank. He had to fill my gas tank 2 and a half times to go that far. I knew better than to leave him with a full tank of gas, but I did leave a little over a quarter of a tank when we left. I came back to a tank that was just a sliver above empty. The airport is a 25 minute drive and I spent the drive home wondering when we were going to sputter to a stop on the highway because we had run out of gas.

Another important piece of information here? My dad is on unemployment. He owes $50,000 in back child support to my mom and hasn't paid or filed taxes in 15 years. But somehow he gets unemployment. I just wanted to clear that up before anybody was like "but Jaclyn, he isn't even working, how would he ever have money to fill your gas tank?".

He didn't ask me if he could stay at my house right away, despite never even offering to remove his stuff that was strewn all over my living room. He had already guilted my sister into a few days at her place. When that invitation ran out, I knew I'd be screwed though.

I should also probably tell you that he has been babysitting my daughter since I came home from vacation. My sister informed me a month or two ago that I would need to find a new sitter come June, and he took the opportunity to see if he could take the job. That was another interesting email I got while on vacation. "I talked to A. and she says she doesn't mind if I watch Caitlyn when you come back because I really need the money.". That was truly unexpected. Somehow, while I was away, the two of them had gotten together and decided without my consent what would be best for my child.

I can see how A. got guilted into it agreeing to that ... she knew as well as I did that I would end up getting screwed at some point or another and promised to be my back-up when the day inevitably came when he realized he couldn't survive on what I would pay him and he needed to find another job. I'm fairly certain, in his mind, that he was going to somehow stay on unemployment as long as humanly possible and watch Caitlyn during the day and get some bullshit night job to fill in the gaps. I agreed begrudgingly, mostly because I knew he would realize quite quickly all the reasons it wouldn't work and I could continue to search for a permanent solution while A. backed me up. It only took a week and a half for him to complain to A. about how this wasn't going to work and for her to pass along that message, much to mine and Rodolfo's relief.

The babysitting thing is pretty relevant to this next part. Obviously, he has been at my house every day (it's not like he's watching her at HIS house... oooh, sorry, too far? Come on people, he DESERVES it!). He mills around too long because he has nowhere to go, even after both me and Rodolfo have been home for hours. A.'s guilty conscience wore off pretty quickly- dad had been in a "no gambling" stage for about 3 weeks and when he broke down and bought lottery tickets with half his unemployment check she told him he couldn't stay anymore.

This all went down last weekend, and he called me Sunday night to ask what time he should be at my house on Monday morning. I told him that Rodolfo would be off and that he needn't come at all. So imagine my surprise when my phone rang at 7am and it was him, standing outside my house. I left for work and didn't even bother to ask why he was there. I knew why. He had nowhere else to go. Apparently, he had spent the previous night wandering around the local Wal-Mart and came to my house to sleep (another hilarious aside to this story- I DON'T HAVE A COUCH RIGHT NOW! We threw ours out and aren't bothering to buy another one till we move in a couple of months- so he slept, sitting up, in our computer chair) without even bothering to ask myself or Rodolfo if that was ok. Rodolfo awoke an hour or so later. I don't even know if he realized my dad was there until he went out into our living room.

This week has continued in much the same way. He has nowhere to go, so he wanders around all night, then shows up super early to my house so he can sleep (in the computer chair) before watching Caitlyn. So then last night he calls me and I don't answer. He left a voicemail which I didn't bother to listen to. I knew what it was going to be. He waited 10 minutes or so and calls me again. This time, I stupidly picked up my phone.

Dad: Hi Jaclyn. Can I sleep in your car tonight?
Me: Well dad, I really can't have you sleeping outside my house, the landlord lives right downstairs (what I'm actually THINKING? Are you FUCKING kidding me? You have to be fucking joking. You are a pathetic excuse for a human being).
Dad: Oh, I wouldn't sleep in front of your house! I was going to take your car somewhere else. I'll park in a lot somewhere and sleep.
Me: I don't know if that's a good idea either, I wouldn't want my car to get towed or anything. I'll have to ask Rodolfo and call you back.
Dad: No, forget it then. Don't ask Rodolfo (Rodolfo is notoriously frustrated by his stupidity and shows no pity when he tells him no for something).

It was raining last night, and I felt bad because I had given my dad whatever has been making me sick and giving me a nasty sore throat for the last week. I asked Rodolfo to let him stay the night at our house and he caved.

It's all so very frustrating. It's a constant burden. As a child I didn't understand why his family didn't help him more- why they didn't give him a place to stay, and I always felt horrible when he told me he had nowhere to go. As an adult I understood quite a bit more- he's unpleasant and depressing at best, and it's almost as though he enjoys being a burden on people. And he's endlessly argumentative. You can't make a suggestion. You can't tell him any idea you have that might help him, because then he will deliberately not take your suggestion because he feels that, despite living in your home for free, you shouldn't be telling him how to live his life. And then there's the fact that you aren't free in your own home. You feel constantly on edge, constantly annoyed by his sloppiness and gross habits and his need to fill absolutely every second with endlessly depressing conversation. And he bitches.

This isn't the first time he's stayed with me or my sister. The last time, both invitations were abruptly withdrawn when we compared notes and realized he was talking shit about both of us to each other. He would complain to me how boring it was to watch her husband play video games all the time. He would talk about the fact that they fought a lot and seemed to always be having marital problems. And, as it would turn out, he told them how much he hated how gross it was that my couch that he was sleeping on at the time always had dog hair on it. And how my pets were always in his face wanting to be pet and he hated it. Oh, and apparently we fought all the time too. And he somehow felt justified throwing his two cents in when we did disagree and openly expressed his opinions on our private marital discussions that he was absolutely not being intentionally included in (our apartment is quite small, so he would hear us when we would talk or fight about anything and try to join the conversation... and then tell my sister and her husband about it).

The part that is the most bewildering to me, the most unbelievable, is that he would put all this on his own children. The choices our parents made come into an unexpected perspective as we become parents ourselves. With my mother, my deep love and admiration only grow as I can understand a little better the nuances of the choices she had to make. I can truly try to understand how difficult it must have been for her. I can look at my own child and know how unbelievably lucky I am to be able to give her not just what she needs, but what she wants and what I want for her. To know, as her first Christmas approached, that I will almost definitely never have to prematurely tell her that Santa Claus doesn't exist, as my mother had to with us, because I can't afford to buy her presents and I don't want her to feel like she wasn't good enough or deserving of presents (to my mom's extreme credit, she DID pull out a miracle that year, as she always seemed to, and we had a great Christmas, like we always did). Because I can understand that, as my mother must have felt about her own children, I feel like I'm receiving a gift from Caitlyn every single day that I get to look at her face and see her smile and watch her learn and grow. And I always want my daughter to know what a gift she is to me.

And as my love and appreciation for my mom grows, so does my resentment and bitterness toward my father. Because his choices? Those I simply cannot understand. Despite his explanations and assertations that, really and truly, he meant it all for the best, I simply can't see it. I can't see through the selfishness of his choices. I can't see through the illogical train of thought that ends up in exactly the same place every time he plays it out. And that place is at the doorstep of a frustrated and unwilling relative, who is working hard, every day for everything they have and is expected to feel pity for someone who expects the world on a silver platter. He expects the dream of the lottery to be his saving grace. And he truly believes that one day, despite all evidence to the contrary, that it's all just going to work out for him. Because obviously, he isn't doing anything wrong! Just bad luck, of course!

Probably the worst part about all of this though, is how it makes my mom feel. She can't understand why we always end up caving and helping him out. We all know by now that the cycle is just going to repeat itself and she just can't comprehend why we always feel guilty enough to help anyway. I've tried to explain it to her more than once. I've tried to tell her, and I'll say it again: MOM- It's because YOU raised me better than that! You taught me love and compassion and how to be a good person.

She's said it to me before how it hurts her to see us help him. She somehow believes it makes them equals in my mind and the minds of my siblings. Like we would do the same for him that we would for her. And let me clear up that point right now. We are all aware that we do too much for him. And I don't like helping him. I don't get any joy from giving him that help. I don't feel like I'm doing the right thing and I'd prefer he not even be around when he's in that kind of situation. And then there is my mom. For her, I would do anything. She could stay with me every day for the rest of my life and she would be welcome and she would bring happiness and joy and light to my life. I wouldn't have arguments with my husband about whether or not she could stay another night. He has said, on more than one occasion "it would be different if it were you MOTHER". Even he knows my dad isn't anywhere near her equal! There is no comparison. I know he doesn't deserve our help. And I know she deserves more than I can ever give back to her. So, what I will try to do is give it back to Caitlyn. I think that would make her happiest anyway. I don't ever want her to think any of us ever compare her, on ANY level to him. There's simply no contest. She has to know that.

So am I the only one with an asshole parent? I can't be, right?

Dad's an asshole- Part 1

I haven't posted most of my vacation nonsense yet, but this post needs to happen first. This post is the bane of my damn existence. This post is why I'm too aggravated all the time to write light, fun vacation posts. This post is about my father.

Back story is going to be necessary here. I'll do you all the favor and not go into every ridiculous detail about why my Dad screwed up my childhood. I'll give you the highlights (lowlights?) though.

Before we get into all that though, I'd like to take a moment here to defend my mother. Because she did marry this loser. And have four of his children. My Mom had an unimaginably horrible childhood. Her mother was an uncaring, raging alcoholic and her dad had a severe stroke when she was just 8 or 9 years old and she spent a lot of her childhood caring for him. She had a brother who overdosed on heroin when she was 10 or 11 (she actually found him in the bathroom the first time he OD'd- the second time he died) and another brother who was addicted to cocaine and physically and verbally abused her on a daily basis. He would constantly tell her how horrible she was, ugly and unlikeable and her mother would send her away from the dinner table when he would say how he couldn't look at her while he was eating. She was also sexually abused from a very young age (5 or 6) by one of her older cousins. Her mother found out about it and simply told her to "try to stay away from him".

To say my mother had a bad childhood would be an incredible understatement. My childhood was nothing like her childhood because, unlike a lot of people who endure this kind of abuse, she was able to say "this is exactly what I don't want for my own children". She married very young, at just 21, because she so desperately wanted a family of her own. She wanted nothing more then to find the love she never had as a child, to be the absolute best mother she could be. But because of all the abuse she took, she also had no self esteem and she was painfully shy. So despite his many flaws, she married my father rather quickly. She was anxious for her life to begin.

Now, back to my father. Let's start with the worst problem; the one problem that has caused all the others. My father has a gambling problem. As a young couple expecting a baby less than a year after they got married, my parents didn't have a lot of money. Gambling was always my father's solution. Besides being unable or unwilling to keep a steady job (to this day, he practically brags about the fact that he's had "at least 10 jobs a year for the last 30 years), when he DID work, instead of doing silly things like PAYING RENT, for example, he would buy lottery tickets. His explanation was that he couldn't make enough money at his job (just a theory, but MAYBE IF YOU STAYED AT ANY JOB FOR MORE THAN A MONTH, EVER, YOU WOULD GET A PAY INCREASE. Just a theory though.) and if he won a few hundred or a few thousand dollars (yeah, it wasn't even like pipe-dream mega-millions type hoping. He was talking about the Pick 3 for chrissake), he would have enough to pay the rent AND the electric bill. And maybe even buy groceries and diapers!

My mom always tells the story of the time she sent dad out with the very last few dollars they had to their name to buy milk and diapers for my older brother, and he came back empty-handed, having decided gambling the money away was a better option because then MAYBE they could have milk and diapers for more than just a day or two. My mother cried a lot when he did stuff like that. She always felt somehow at fault that she couldn't give her children at the very least what we needed.

My father has been repeating this same delusional pattern for 35 years now. The highlights of his inepitude include: the time we lived in a van for several weeks because we had been kicked out of yet another apartment for not paying the rent (in fact, I'm fairly certain we would have spent way more time on the street if it wasn't for the mandatory grace period a landlord has to give a tenant before evicting them). Places I've also lived: every sleezy motel in a 100 mile radius. I wish I was exaggerating this one. Any of you watch Jersey Shore? That little tourist trap, Seaside Heights, is really deserted in the winter. And the motels charge next to nothing for rent in the off season. I can't even tell you how many nights we spent in a sleezy Seaside motel. In fact, we had to ask one of my dad's relatives in a neighboring town with a SCHOOL SYSTEM, to let us use their address so we could actually go to school.

And speaking of schools, boy have I been in a lot of them. Between Kindergarten and 3rd grade, we went to 6 or 7 different schools because we were constantly moving. In case you were wondering, that makes it REALLY hard to make friends when you are just a little kid. It took me years to actually warm up and make friends once my mom took us and left my dad just before I started the 4th grade. I was in that town's school system until I graduated high school, just for the record.

Other places I remember sleeping? In a church's community room, on top of their tables, in homeless shelters and at the homes of countless relatives who let us stay a night or two at a time. As an adult, I don't have anything from that part of my childhood. No special toys or a specific place that takes me back to that time of my life. It was all lost in the chaos. All of the physical reminders were lost in unpaid storage units. The fact that my mother even has pictures is a miracle to me, and a true testament to her strength that she was able to even think about holding onto such things with everything she was dealing with. The interesting part is how it never really bothered me (or my siblings, for that matter) as a kid. I didn't know any other way, so it never really occured to me that it wasn't normal. The hard part came as an adult, and more intensely so when I became a mother myself.

It's easy to say it didn't affect me as a kid. Besides the awkwardness and the trouble fitting in when we did finally settle in one place, I can't say I ever felt particularly affected. My mother has always been so warm and loving and instead of feeling like people should have pitied me, I pity those who didn't have mothers like mine. So the hardest part, really, is to become a mother myself and understand all the things I want for my daughter and to try to think of how my own mother must have felt on the nights she could barely feed us, let alone buy us toys.

I remember little things that meant nothing at the time, and realize she must have been in agony over it. When my youngest sister was born, I was 7. My other siblings were 9 and 6. There was frequently not enough milk to go around, so we had to ask before we had any. It seemed reasonable enough at the time. Milk was for the baby, we could eat other things. But to understand my mother's point of view, to realize that she had to tell her 7 year old that she couldn't have any milk because there just wasn't enough, to think of that wrenches my heart. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be with a man I can count on. Responsible and strong-willed and willing to push me when I won't push myself. It also makes me realize that if I hadn't had such a wonderful mother, with the way my childhood went, I definitely could have ended up on an episode of Maury as a troubled, pregnant teen.

In spite of everything my dad screwed up, my mom was always there to pick up the pieces. She nearly killed herself with the effort it took. She was working 3 or 4 jobs when I was a teenager, and at just 38, she had her first of several heart attacks. It infuriates me to see her sick. She is better now, but still struggles with heart issues every few years. Maybe that part was inevitable, that eventually she would have had a heart attack one day. But at 38? I can't help but feel like my father made her sick.

My point is that my mother is basically a saint, and even more so for never killing my dad in his sleep. And my dad, despite seemingly never getting over the fact that my mom left him, has not changed one bit. He still lives his life by the lottery. He'll occasionally decide to "quit" and he will make it a few weeks before he plays again, but then life will get too hard, he won't have enough money for this thing or that and he will give in and go back to the mistress that ruined his marriage and took away his children's innocence. He always goes back.

This post has gotten quite long, and it makes me think I'll make my actual point in a Part 2 type post. Part 1: My dad fucked up my childhood. Part 2: my dad fucks up my adulthood. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Airplanes+Babies=You are going to be fucking tired

Alright, so I didn't post while I was on vacation. I planned to and even tried to. But sometimes when you are in a third world country the computers just aren't what they are over here in America. I'm not what you would call tech savvy, but the internets said something about cookies being disabled and I had no idea how to able them. So that's that. But I will be posting all about the things and the stuff. Things and stuff. That is about the extent of my mental acuity right this moment. I'm absolutely exhausted, so we will start at the beginning, take a quick detour to the end and possibly make a brief pit-stop in 'traveller's diarrhea' junction. I'm talking about plane rides. And visits from the brown cow, apparently (actually this is inaccurate. I call it the brown cow because I'm lactose intolerant and he usually swings by if I decide to eat ice cream or something stupid like that. I think Sludgey the Speckled Llama is probably more appropriate). Yeah, you are just that lucky. I'm sorry, I'm disgusting. I'm just better at hiding it when I'm not overtired. So wait, yeah, planes. Airplanes. AEROPLANES. Flomp. Ok, I'm gonna try to be coherent now. I was nervous about the plane trip. I don't like to fly to begin with, but I was trying not to think about that. I spent all my time before we left focusing on what Caitlyn might need. The flight itself was 9 hours and for an international flight you need to give yourself a few hours of buffer anyway, plus we were trying to secure a bassinette and we were given the impression that we had a better shot at it if we checked in extra early. So for the trip to Peru, we were looking at a minimum of 15 hours from the time we left home till the time we arrived at Rodolfo's parents house. Now, let me tell you, 15 hours is a long time for a baby. What it isn't? A week. It would therefore make sense to assume that you wouldn't need a week's worth of clothes, formula/food and diapers (and bottles, wipes, pacifiers, spoons, bibs, toys, Tylenol, gas drops, thermometer, first aid kit, disinfecting wipes, hand santizer, etc., etc., etc.) in your carry-on luggage. Or at least that's what you would think. I overpacked. Grossly. Not in general, I wouldn't say (I did bring a lot more baby clothes than necessary, and our luggage was packed to the extreme, but a lot of those were Caitlyn's smaller baby clothes for Rodolfo's niece in Peru so they didn't come back home with us- in fact we were an entire suitcase lighter on the way home). But in the sense of what we actually needed to carry on the plane with us, I may have slightly overfigured. We had a backpack and a giant duffel bag full of carry-on items that seemed absolutely essential at the time. I mean really, what would I have done if Caitlyn felt feverish and I couldn't take her temperature to know exactly how high the fever was? Would I just give her a precautionary dose of Tylenol without being sure? How reckless that would be!!! And of course, you can't take a baby's temperature without a travel-sized jar of vaseline to grease up her booty! I can be a bit of a worrier and I'm always either completely unprepared or ridiculously overprepared. There is never a happy medium with me when it comes to things like that. So as I packed, I realized that most of this stuff would probably never be used. So it wasn't that I was carrying a bag full of stuff I didn't need that bothered me. It certainly bothered my husband, but that isn't really my problem. The problem came when we DID need something out of the bag. A pacifier, for example, right before the plane took off. The bag was so stuffed full of crap that we couldn't find a pacifier. Let me clarify that. We had a bottle at the ready. We kept Caitlyn awake until we got on the plane, and figured we would give her the bottle as we were taking off and she would doze off and nap for the first hour or two of the flight. You know, in a perfect world and all. She was fussy and exhausted while we prepped for take-off, so we figured we would give her a little of her bottle to calm her down. Except that she drank the whole thing in 5 minutes. So as everyone else is strapping themselves in for the flight, Rodolfo is annoying the flight attendants by opening up the overhead compartments and rummaging through our carry-on. It continued with that same theme for the entire flight. We would need something, and Rodolfo would mumble curses under his breath at me as he dropped things out of the bag while he searched for what we actually needed. I mean, diapers on the bottom has always been my motto; I don't know what HIS problem was. So all that being said, I can't really complain about the flight in. Caitlyn did very well and didn't cry at all, with the exception of when she decided to refuse her pacifier as we descended and her ears started to bother her. But at that point she had already spent the entire flight charming the pants off of everyone in her sightlines (she almost always has a smile on her face and had just started waving hello so it was really novel for her to wave at absolutely everyone who crossed her path and they all seemed more than happy to wave back) and one of the flight attendants felt for her and asked if she could carry her around and entertain her for a few minutes before we prepped to land. And of course, I said yes and Caitlyn was all smiles about being the center of attention after that. The flight home was a bit more challenging. On the way to Peru, we did end up getting a bassinette, which also meant upgraded seating to the bulkhead area, with more room for Caitlyn to move around. When she did nap, she was able to nap in the bassinette fairly comfortably. We weren't so lucky on the way home. Sludgey had made his appearance by then, and she had just started cutting the second of the two teeth she got during our trip (the two on either side of her front top teeth), and along with that, the soreness of a nose that had been running for a week because of the teething, so she was already naturally more fussy then on the trip there. This was an overnight flight, so I was really hoping to get a bassinette so she could rest comfortably, but also so WE could rest too. But the flight was packed and it just wasn't possible. Still, I figured, she usually does sleep through the night, this shouldn't be too bad. I had on my baby carrier and she always dozes off in there. That night though, she was cranky and overtired by the time we got on the plane, so she decided that the carrier was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. And she cried. A lot. Even after I took her out of the carrier, it seemed like I could do nothing right for her during that entire flight. When I cuddled her close to try to get her to fall asleep, she Hulked out on me and busted out of my grip with an angry scream. Daddy took her then, as Daddy can do no wrong. She only slept on Daddy that night. But even once she did fall asleep, she tends to be a little restless and wiggles around all night and the confines of Daddy's lap made her wake up and whine an annoyed little cry at least once an hour. And because of all the wiggling, we had to be on guard constantly because she nearly rolled off of Rodolfo's lap about a hundred times. At some point, and after that, for most of the rest of the night, she decided that the most comfortable position was on her stomach with her head and torso on Rodolfo's lap and her butt and legs hanging off my legs at a 90 degree angle. The problem with that was that she only needed to move an inch to fall off our laps. Rodolfo was on watch for the first few hours, and I probably slept for an hour of it, in 10 or 15 minute intervals. But I was so afraid she might fall that I couldn't manage anything besides a light nap, and every time she moved even a little, it would startle me awake, and I'd find myself lunging forward to grab a hold of her legs. Rodolfo's attempt at sleep went just about the same, and I think he slept maybe 15 minutes the whole time. Luckily, when Caitlyn woke up about an hour before we landed, she was in a pretty good mood. I wasn't sure what to expect after her crappy night's sleep. My dad picked us up from the airport and hung around to watch Caitlyn for a couple of hours while Rodolfo and I napped. That was yesterday. Unfortunately, Caitlyn's lack of a good night's sleep did catch up with her (also the time difference- only an hour but it was like doing daylight savings time all over again, and she tends to go to bed late anyway), and she spent half the day napping. Which meant that she didn't go to bed till almost 1am. I had to be up at 7 and I'm still trying to recover from my sleepless night on Saturday. So I am still very tired. A big reason I started writing this post right away was so I wouldn't doze off at my desk. Anyway, there you have it. Plane trips with babies can be pretty shitty. I will be posting more with all the fun stuff and pictures soon.