The Avocado Advisement: A First World Story

“This is the first time in history when you can save humanity by just sitting on your couch and watching tv. Don’t f*#k it up.”  ~timely Internet meme

We are spoiled Americans. As a family, we are fortunate enough to be able to afford most of what we want when we want it, within reason. I mean, we don’t drive new Jaguars or BMWs. We do not live in a huge, stately home in a golf course community. We don’t take yearly trips to Europe. But we are able to buy a movie on our Apple TV without considering if the $20 is a waste, and the four of us can dine out a few times a month at decent, sit-down restaurants without being unable to pay our other bills because of it. If our sons need new jeans, they get them. If I want to buy a $75 concert ticket, I do it without guilt or stress. I know it is a gift to be in this position. And I do realize it makes us unlike most other American families. We are the lucky ones.

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The ghost of avocados past

A few weeks ago, when I saw the writing on the wall regarding this pandemic, I went shopping. I didn’t panic buy or hoard multiple packages of toilet paper, but I was able to purchase about two weeks’ worth of groceries in advance knowing we wouldn’t be going to the store as often once the virus began to spread widely among our population. Perishables were mostly off the table on my stock-up trip. Not a problem, I told myself as I bought some frozen fruits and vegetables. Then this morning I decided I would love an avocado for my bagel. Alas, there were none.

In my past life, I might run out to Safeway and grab a few of those bumpy-skinned babies to satisfy my craving. But, that past life was in the olden days two weeks ago. Now, I honestly have to look at a trip to the store differently than I did then. Now there are exponentially more people walking around unknowingly affected by COVID-19 than there were two weeks ago. My risk of contracting the virus is much higher, at a time when the hospitals are becoming increasingly overwhelmed. So I had to have a long talk with my fortunate self about going without. I suspect that over the coming days and weeks I will have to lecture myself many more times about the importance of remaining at home. I need to learn the delayed gratification I have been delaying learning. To that end, I made myself this flow chart, which I can refer to in the future replacing, as necessary, “avocado” with whatever thing it is I think I desperately need but really don’t.

 

avocadochart
On voluntary house arrest, there is time to create flowcharts

This is our new normal. It may be our normal for eighteen plus months. I need to adapt to these temporary restrictions. They will be short-lived and my efforts could save lives, including my own and those of my husband and sons. I’ve lived a fortunate and entitled adult life, thus far, traveling freely through the world, buying grass-fed tenderloin steaks when I felt like spoiling myself. Now it’s time to do with less. In the grand scheme of history, what the times are asking of me is not a lot. It’s simply the matter of a small adjustment.

Someday the virus will run its course. Someday we will have a treatment or a vaccine. Someday we will once again be able to run to the store on a whim for that one topping we wanted but didn’t buy the first time through. When that day comes again, you best believe avocado toast will feel like the decadent treat it is and always was. We just didn’t realize that our last avocado toast would be our last avocado toast for a while. Live in the moment, my friends, and make sure to appreciate what you have today because tomorrow you might not have it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to remember and appreciate my great fortune and teach my sons to do the same. And when this is behind us, we’ll celebrate. We’ll don toilet paper togas and feed each other avocado toast just because we can. And then we’ll fold up the toilet paper and tuck it safely away for a later crisis because you just never know what tomorrow might hold.

Draw Something Resembling Anything

And the drawing is...
Guess it? This was an easy one.

Our boys are growing up so fast. Once upon a time, they were connected to me. Then, hubby went and cut the umbilical cord. Ever since then I’ve been herding cats, desperately hoping to catch them and hold them long enough to get some quality time. These days they’re connected to other things…like their iPads, Xbox360, or their Mac. These are their new lifelines. So, I’ve done the only thing I could do. I’ve decided to meet them on their ground. I text them and I send them game requests. I’d friend them on Facebook if they had Facebook pages.

One game I play with my sons is DrawSomething, which is an online version of Pictionary. You draw something and the person you’re playing with attempts to determine what the scribbles you just traced onto the screen of your device mean. My first world problem is that it’s hard to draw a detailed image on an iPhone (even the iPhone 5 with its larger screen). Luke is a natural born artist. He has always enjoyed drawing and his creations on this app are quite detailed and contain appropriate contextual clues so that the amount of guesswork is deeply reduced. Joe…well…let’s just say his drawings are basic. They require a lot of creative thinking on my part. I don’t always know where he’s headed with his art but, as his mother, I feel it’s not an option to guess incorrectly. So, this simple game of drawing becomes a game of mental gymnastics for me. I become Sherlock Holmes. To solve the mystery, I must enter into the mind of the drawer who, in this case, is an 11 year old boy.

Tonight, after weeks of pestering him mercilessly, Joe finally acquiesced and sent me a drawing. This drawing was of a large brown object, which I eventually conjectured was an animal despite the fact that it seemed to be headless. I stared at it blankly for a few seconds and then traveled into the depths of Joe’s frenetic mind. I had an idea but had to verify my mental image with the letters provided for the drawing. Thankfully, tonight’s drawing was an easy one. You see, where I will draw the clue I think I can represent most easily for the other person’s interpretation, Joe most often chooses to draw clues that have a personal meaning for him. Translation: I see a lot of shark, prehistoric creatures, Star Wars, and superhero drawings. Tonight’s was no different. The minute I entered into Joe’s 11 year old brain, I could see where he had gone. To the ice age, of course. Why not?

I love that Joe is not the least bit concerned about his drawings. He doesn’t wonder if they will be understood. He draws what he likes, no matter how hard it might be to convey. I imagine that Joe is so used to meeting the world the way he is required to, so used to following conventions that don’t work for him or even make sense to him, that when it comes to this game he feels free to be himself. And, that is an awesome, wondrous thing. I enjoy these occasional opportunities to get inside his head. I figure it’s the closest I will ever be to him again.

 

One Thing Leads To Another

The solution that became the problem

Today I want to share with you a cautionary tale, an example of how a small first-world problem can morph and change into another small first-world problem and another after that on into infinity. If you’re not careful, a tiny first-world problem just might cost you your sanity. My mother always said that you can tell the size of a person by the size of the things that bother them. If that’s the case, I’m smaller than I want to admit. (And, I’m not talking about the quarter of an inch I afford myself when I tell people I’m actually 5’5″.)

First World Problem #1: A year ago September I got a new car. Well, it was a new car to me. It was actually my father-in-law’s car, which he had decided to replace with a newer version of the same thing. My new car was two years old when I got it, but it had one flaw. It smelled like my father-in-law. Now, this is not to say that my father-in-law is a stinky man. He’s not. In fact, I’m sure his hygiene is impeccable. After all, this is a man who safety pins his socks together so he never loses one to the black hole that materializes when you close the door to the clothes dryer. The car simply smelled like leather and my father-in-law’s cologne. No offense to my father-in-law, who is the kindest, most generous man I know (aside from his son), but I didn’t want to spend my days in a car that smelled like him. I merely wanted my car to feel like my car and I couldn’t feel like that when every time I opened my car door the aroma from within reminded me of Jim.

So, I went in the house, grabbed a scented car disc from the Scentsy company, attached it to my rear view mirror, and waited for the day when I felt like the car was mine. Sure enough, one day, I noticed that Jim had been replaced by a pleasant, cinnamon scent. The car was mine, and I kept it mine by replacing that disc every three months.

First World Problem #2: A week ago, I noticed that my car no longer had that pleasant, Welcome Home, cinnamon smell. So, when I got home I marched into the house to grab a new disc. It was then that I realized that I was out of my favorite scent. I had two choices on-hand for a replacement...Sunkissed Citrus and Coconut Lemongrass. After weighing my options carefully, I went with the second scent, installed it in my car, and forgot about it. Long about the time I needed to pick the boys up from school, the car was well-saturated with the smell of coconut and lemongrass. My car smelled like Thai curry. It was a distinct change from the cinnamon, but I’m working on dealing with change with more grace so I inhaled deeply and carried on. By the time I got back from chauffeur duty, however, I noticed that I was quite stuffy. I am a person who is sensitive to smells, and apparently the new scent was not agreeing with my nose. It’s no good to have a car air freshener that makes you ill. It had to go. Hubby removed the offender, I took some Sudafed, and I waited for the scent to fade.

First World Problem #3: It’s now a week later and the coconut-lemongrass smell in my car has lightly faded but is still pervasive. For some reason, it won’t skedaddle. So now, every time I get in my car, I smell Thai curry. Thai curry (especially green curry with tofu) is one of my all-time favorite meals, and my car smells exactly like that. It’s disturbing. For starters, no one wants to smell green curry at 7:45 a.m. before coffee. But later, when I get in my car in the afternoon just at the time I’m trying to avoid late afternoon snacking, my stomach starts growling at what seems to be the lingering scent of take out Thai curry. Then today, not unlike the reaction of Pavlov’s dog to the introduced stimulus, my mouth watered when I got into my vehicle. This is not a good development.

First World Problem #4: This afternoon I mentioned to hubby in a text that every time I enter my car now I want Thai food. His response? Ooh…Thai food. Apparently now hubby wants it too. Any guesses what we’ll be eating for dinner tomorrow night? I’m hoping that the combination of satisfying my Thai food craving and installing a new scented disc in my car will turn things around for me in this first-world problem situation. That way I can go back to being annoyed that the new LTE network in Denver isn’t quite consistent enough for me and my first-world-awesome iPhone 5.

Apple Isn’t A Cult…It Just Seems That Way Until You Drink The Kool-Aid

Bonding with my iPhone in the Galapagos

A couple days ago, Steve told me we could pre-order the iPhone 5 starting tomorrow. I rolled my eyes at him. It’s not that I wouldn’t appreciate a new phone. After all, I missed out on the 4s altogether, so I’ve never had the chance to torture Siri with questions about the best places to bury a body, which I guess is okay because I don’t actually need that information just yet. But, I don’t want to hear about the latest, greatest new gadget that I can’t get my hands on. That’s just cruel and unusual punishment. I told him that we could wait until it was available in stores to get it. No need to pre-order. End of story.

Then tonight, two nights after Steve’s original announcement about the phone, curiosity got the best of me and I made a very real, first-world mistake. I watched Apple’s introduction to the new iPhone 5. Five minutes into the video presentation, I paused it. I walked downstairs to look for Steve. He wasn’t there. I walked outside to look for Steve. I couldn’t find him. I walked out onto the open space behind our house, and there I found him taking his photo of the day.

“I walked all the way downstairs, all the way out here to find you for one reason. I need an iPhone 5. Yesterday,” came my announcement.

“Why are you saying this?” he asked, remembering my disinterest a couple days ago.

“I watched a product video. The only thing Apple is better at than making products I need is showing me why I need them immediately,” I replied. “If I was in Guyana with Apple and they asked me to drink some kool-aid, I totally would. Just saying. We need to order it tonight,” I told him.

“You’re awesome,” was all he said, a sure sign that he was pleased to have turned his wife into the Apple cult follower he is.

And, cult follower I am. My iPhone is rarely more than 5 feet away from me at any given moment. I don’t always answer it because like many iPhone users I use it less as a phone and more as a personal assistant. But, I always have it. If someone asked me to choose between Joe and Luke and my iPhone, I might pause for a minute to weigh my options. (I’d pick my sons, of course, but not without careful consideration.) Say what you will about Apple, but they continually innovate products that make my life better, easier, more fun, and more connected. I know there are those who are not Apple fans. They say their products are too simply designed, too basic, too easy to use. I get it. Some people like complicated. I used to think I did too. Then, I drank the kool-aid. Now it’s all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns.