Monday, September 22, 2014

The Magic of the Mouse

Her "It's All About Me" shirt sums it up.
To say we survived Disney World would make it seem like it was a traumatic experience. It wasn't; actually we had an amazing time. It was even – dare I say – magical.
The cast of characters was so: Me, L.E., Dr. T, my sister, my mom, my dad and our childhood friend.
I tried to plan the perfect Disney vacation. I made dining reservations, signed up for FastPass experiences and even mapped out our way through the park.
But here's the thing: 
I didn't need to. 
The best advice I can give you about Disney is just go with the flow. You're not going to see everything or ride everything or eat everything. Rides that are fun for a 44-year-old are not going to be fun for a 4-year-old or 64-year-old.
Don't stress yourself out about what is supposed to be a vacation. Because what happens when you have this magical vision in your head about what your magical Disney vacation is supposed to be?
It all goes to shit when the only thing your kid wants to do is ride the Monorail all day instead of the "experiences" you pre-purchased for her and you end up being bitter and resentful.
Didn't get to ride Space Mountain or Spaceship Earth? It's ok. There are better rides.
Missed the character lunch at Tusker House because some of us just aren't into buffets? It's ok; the Yak & Yeti was just fine.
Little girl doesn't want to be made into a princess? Buy her a costume off Amazon in advance and take a change of clothes. (Tinkerbell was itchy for three hours.)
Wasted a FastPass on It's a Small World? Nobody is judging you.
I was quick to discover what kind of Disney people we are.
We like to eat, drink and not wait in line.
We are not into character experiences. I got a few random snaps of Goofy and Pluto along with a high-five from Mexican Donald Duck (at Epcot) but L.E. had no desire to wait to have her photo taken with them.
And I really don't understand the whole autograph book thing.
I may be a tad cynical.
Did we even see Mickey Mouse?
We had our priorities: Dumbo ride. Actually, for L.E. that was pretty much it.
At Animal Kingdom, there's a dinosaur ride that is essentially the same as the Dumbo ride. We rode it twice.
We rode the carousel twice.
We ate Mickey pretzels and cookies that turned our mouths black.
We made friends with a bartender at the Dawa bar.
We built a zany-crazy car at the Test Track.
We ate and drank our way around the world.
We wore crappy ponchos when it rained.
We complained about Canada. (Ok, I did. Because Canada)
We spent way too much time and money on overpriced souvenirs because why not?
We enjoyed a family vacation with few tantrums, none by the four-year-old. (Apparently grandma likes fireworks more than we realized and was not happy to leave before them.)
Disney World has been around for over 40 years. They really have this whole magical experience down pat. Yes, it's expensive. But you know this and there's no reason to be surprised about it when you get there.
Just enjoy the experience for what it is: a chance to manipulate your parents and grandparents into getting anything you want because you're the only child. Plus, they're all drunk.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Morally Conflicted

Generally, I think I'm a good person. I wave to my neighbors, I recycle, I teach my daughter manners and politeness. I'll even stop on a busy street and let the person waiting to exit the gas station in front of me.
I eat free-range eggs and hormone-free chicken. I rarely eat fast food. I don't shop at Hobby Lobby.
I was never promiscuous. I may not go to church but I have faith and beliefs.
I believe women should control their bodies.
I am disgusted by what happened to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and horrified that this is 2014.
And don't get me started on how college campuses mishandle sexual-assault cases.
In short, I have morals.
But what do I do when something I love so dearly and means so much to me and how I was raised and how I spend time with my family has become so morally reprehensible?
I'm talking about the NFL.
I love football with every fiber of my soul. As a kid raised in Pittsburgh during the steel curtain era, it's hard to imagine a life where the Steelers were not a part of my everyday existence. As I've grown away from Pittsburgh, I still spend my Sundays on the couch watching whatever games are locally-covered while maniacally re-loading my phone to get updates on the Steelers score. I can spout statistics like I'm being paid by CBS. I know the ref calls based only on their hand-signals.
I'm one of the women that makes up the NFL's increasingly, gender-split fanbase.
But after seeing this, I don't know how much of a fan I can be anymore.
That video shows Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens punching his then-fiancee-now-wife in the head. As she slumps from the impact, her head hits a railing in the elevator and she's knocked unconscious. Instead of freaking out and begging her to wake up, what does Ray Rice do? He moves her around, tries to get her shoes on and basically acts like this is an everyday thing and he dropped a bag of groceries.
You can watch for yourself. I can't do it again.
I sat by and continued to support my team even when our starting quarterback was accused of rape – twice – and I felt sick about it then. But there was never enough evidence blah blah blah and I black&gold-washed the situation to myself, naively, so that I could keep supporting my team via my morally ambiguous high road.
I don't know if I can do that this time. Believe me, I am no fan of the Baltimore Ravens. But the fact that the NFL commissioner saw this footage and gave Rice a 2-GAME SUSPENSION is sickening. I just can't support a league that will suspend a dude for four games for partying during the Kentucky Derby yet gives a player half that for caveman-dragging his fiancee across a hotel lobby after he punched her lights out.
I don't want to have to explain to my daughter that I love this game but the players who play it beat women the same way they plow through defensive blockers on a 34-yard carry.
I shouldn't have to.
I have prided myself on being the type of wife who is NOT a football widow. I love watching football with my husband and he loves that he can go to the bathroom and I can tell him what the previous plays were. But how am I – as a mom of a little girl – to support a sport that doesn't care about women except for the amount of money they spend in the NFL for Ladies shop?
I honestly believe that the only way the NFL will take domestic abuse cases seriously is to lose revenue. Sorry family, but you won't be getting any Steelers merch for Christmas this year.
As for still tuning in, well I don't live alone. Watching football together is a family tradition and I need to weigh what is more important: the importance of family time or my moral outrage about what goes on in a league that doesn't care what I think or do anyway.

Update: A few hours after I published this post, the Baltimore Ravens cut Ray Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. It's sad that it took a TMZ video being released to make that happen but it's at least a step in the right direction.