I’ve had a touch of culture shock over the past week. A mild case, but some shock nonetheless. I came very close to saying, “slow the calendar down, please, I’d like to get off.” What did it was a combination of school/extracurricular activities, grocery shopping, and the calendar turning to October when I wasn’t watching.
Saturday turned into a mess of extracurriculars. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but the occasional confluence of events does give me some pause for the future, as the kids get older. The fun started with track practice. We sold our Pilot before we left Liberia, and haven’t identified a replacement vehicle yet. Even if we hadn’t sold it, it wouldn’t have made the transatlantic shipment yet, so we’d be in the same situation. Luckily, Zipcars are plentiful and affordable around here, so we’ve managed. So, in order to make it to track practice by 0800, I had to leave to pick up the zipcar by about 0715 so I could load up all the kids (my wife had a training to attend, so we all had to go, even though Yakum is the only one in track). Track practice took place in the intermittent rain. Once they were done, I took the three somewhat soggy children and one fairly wet child to the instrument rental place to trade a 1/8th size rental violin for a 1/4. Of course, I got a little lost on the way, taking a wrong exit and winding up on Columbia Pike when I actually didn’t want to be. After a few turns and windings, and 45 minutes later, I wound up in spitting distance and was able to finally get where I needed to be. The way home was much, much smoother, but by then it was almost noon. with four very hungry children, and one hungry and peeved father. After lunch, we did manage to wander to the local Art on the Avenue festival, meet up with my wife, and take in some of the craft booths. The kids painted pumpkins and then made picture frames while I headed home to call the vet about an appointment for Benson, who seems to have some sort of ectoparasite, possibly a feline louse.
All that fun just gets us to the late afternoon, and we still needed to go grocery shopping. I try to avoid busy times, like Saturday afternoon, because I don’t like the crowds, I’m still re-learning the U.S. brands (lots and lots of label reading), and I still get a little overwhelmed by the sheer variety and choice in even smaller stores. But what really did it was the way that commercial establishments tend to fast forward through the seasons. It seems like this accelerates each year, so that it seems like we’ll be seeing the displays for Halloween 2017 before October 2016 is half over. Sure, I’ve seen the Halloween candy out in the stores since mid-September, but those were relatively small sections (that have now expanded to at least triple their previous size) and largely confined to the “seasonal” area of the story, and therefore fairly easy to avoid. Yesterday, not only were the Halloween displays out in full force, and front and center, I also caught sight of a couple of Thanksgiving pieces, and, to top it all off, at least three cooking magazines in the checkout line trumpeting Christmas recipes, both sweet and savory. Look, I get that magazines run ahead, but this was an edition that had to have been sent out in September talking about a holiday at the end of December. I’m only just now thinking about All Saints’ Day costumes for the kids, and only because I will likely be sewing at least one cloak, if not three, and I need to order fabric and/or dye. Otherwise, the end of the month wouldn’t even be on my radar. And yet, it seems that most everyone else has leapfrogged ahead and are already thinking about the end of the year.
So yes, please slow the calendar down, I need to catch my breath at least.