UBER

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When DJ went to college, I told her I would pay for four things:

  1. Her tuition, room and board
  2. Her books
  3. Her transportation
  4. A set amount of spending money each semester

Numbers 1, 2 and 4 have worked out well.  Perhaps I should gave given a bit more clarity around number 3.

What I meant by “I will cover your transportation” was that I would get her back and forth from school.  It’s a 4.5 hour drive one way.  Sometimes I drop her off or pick her up.  Sometimes she flies.  And sometimes she takes the train.  Yes.  I cover those expenses.  I want her to come home – often.  So I’ll pay.

I also figured, up in DC, that she might buy a Metro card to ride the train to Target or to, I don’t know, Mount Vernon.  I am happy to cover that OCCASIONAL expense.

She took our initial conversation in a different direction…

The UBER direction.

Apparently my credit card is attached to her Uber account, and I just received the bill.

In one month, she charged 18 Uber rides.  She also charged seven “car shares” and one $14 Metro ride.  I don’t even know what a “car share” is.  What I do know is that one shared a car to Maryland on November 17 for $35.75 and another shared a ride back on November 18 for $28.88.  Who in the heck was she spending the night with in a different state?  She says it was a Camp Seafarer reunion.  Yada, yada, yada.  I don’t care if she was spending the night with the Pope… he needs to pick her up from campus in his large white window filled bus.

I asked her, “Are you taking Uber across campus to class?  You can’t do that!  You must walk!  That’s part of the college experience.”

She told me she once went to the zoo, and it was educational.

“Well what about the other 17 rides?”

“Dad, there are two charges for every one destination.  You ride there AND back.”

She did have a point.

She then explained that it could have been worse.  She has often been using UberPOOL which sticks you in a car with complete strangers allowing you to split the cost.  In fact, she forwarded me an email she received from email@uber.com.  It said, and I quote,

WOW!  You’re pretty savvy.  By choosing to ride UberPOOL, you saved $95.55 in 2016.  

She should have forwarded that to me because she didn’t save anything by using UberPOOL.  Cause she didn’t pay for Uber.  I DID!!  We had over $180 worth of transportation charges in the month of November.  AHHHH.

I didn’t know I was going to have to include Uber in my monthly expenditures.  Jimini Christmas!  These girls are slowly breaking me into little, bitty pieces.  I’m a shell of the man I used to be.

 

Home Again, Home Again Zip-pa-di-da

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She came in on a train direct from Union Station.  It was Friday night, the week before Christmas.  I was so joyful.  DJ, my college sophomore, was returning for an entire month!

I was committed to our performance in the Christmas Carol play so her grandmother picked her up.  DJ was in a hurry because she had agreed to bar tend at a neighbor’s Christmas party for cash.  I’m so proud – my daughter, a barmaid.

I was amazed that she got her suitcase into the house.  It was the size of a pirate chest, but heavier.  She dropped it in the kitchen, its innards spilled out under the bar – she apparently had a quick change.

I called my buddy Jack to see if he could help me get the Samsonite up to her bedroom.  He couldn’t come over until the next day.  So when she got home, we broke the contents up into four laundry baskets and then carried the almost empty case up on its own.  My grandmother always said, “You can eat an elephant in small pieces.”

I do love my girl.

She had plans on Saturday night and spent Sunday night with high school friends.

Tuesday she went to the beach with the same high school friends.  She returned Wednesday night.  We ate dessert together.  Quality time.

On Thursday she returned to the coast to meet a dude from college for dinner, the one she just spent an entire semester with.

“Honey, do you think you’ll be able to stop by the house to receive your gifts on Christmas day?”  I was just wondering if I should perhaps mail them to a friend’s house.  She assured me she was free for the entire day.

I love that child.

I enjoy the memories of times gone by when she visits:

  • her bedroom floor unfindable due to the mound of clothes
  • arguments over earrings borrowed from siblings
  • bras and socks on the kitchen counter

Memories – beautiful memories.

Oh, and when she’s here, three drivers get to share two cars!  I love sharing.  She loves getting up in the morning to drop me off in the work carpool line.  She even packs my lunch (just kidding).

“I’ll pick you up at 5:30 dad.  Be waiting for me in the lobby of your building because I have dinner plans at 6.”

Before break she called home and said, “Dad, I’m a little worried about being home for a full month for Christmas.”

Worried?  What’s there to worry about?  This is heaven on earth.

ooops Dad

credit-card

On Tuesday I received this text from DJ, my oldest daughter, who is away at college:

So I brought this dress for our next two sorority events and I accidentally put it on your credit card

I’m wondering how that happened…

Did the card fall out of her wallet and accidentally get lodged in the chip reader???

You accidentally spill your lemonade.  You accidentally break a vase, like when Greg and Peter Brady tossed the basketball inside the house and then didn’t tell their mom because Peter was afraid she wouldn’t let him go on his first camping trip with the guys.  That’s an accident!

DJ emphasized in a follow-up conversation that she could wear the dress TWICE!  I don’t understand how that is connected to the inadvertent charge.

And besides, is wearing a garment two times supposed to make me feel better?  I buy a suit and wear it weekly for decades.  My $500 purchase averages out to about 48 cents per wear.  Her $150 dress?  $75 each time she puts in on.  What’s up with that?

She told me not to worry about the charge, that we could discuss it when she is home for fall break.  That’s called a stall tactic.  She knows I’ll be so glad to see her in two weeks that I’ll forgive her “mistake” and pay for the frickin’ frock.

I’m such a pushover.

The Dowry

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She’s the one in white!

Two weeks ago, DJ “came out” to society.  She was a North Carolina Debutante – WHOOP WHOOP!  And now, it is time for her to get married.  I mean, she IS 19, and she has officially been presented.  Time is a wastin’.

To my knowledge, she has not had one proposal since the Ball which was on September 9.  What the heck fellas?  Her date was worthless.  They’re “just friends,” and I don’t even think he wants to get married right now.  What’s up with that?

Get the lead out men!  We can’t wait forever!

To encourage some movement from the male species, I thought I’d list a few things that come with her.  Her dowry.

Of course, me, which I would think should be enough.  Who would not care for Danny Tanner in his aging days?  I’m like a barrel of monkeys.

In addition, I’d like to offer a few other items of enticement.  Spread the word readers!

  • An inordinate amount of plasticware. Every time I have a party, I buy a HUGE box of forks, spoons and knives.  I have a fear of running out of plastic eating utensils.  I don’t have the same number of each, but am particularly heavy on the spoons.
  • A full set of tan towels. OK, they’re old, from my college days, and won’t go but one shower without emitting a cooked in sour smell, but they are BROKEN IN and feel great on the bod.
  • A box of handwritten AP Biology notebooks…just in case there’s a future surgeon interested…
  • An octopus cake pan – not sure where it came from but I bet you’d struggle to find another one like it.
  • DJ’s car (and the insurance payment).
  • A slightly worn picnic table, an old lawn mower (I’m sure it would crank with a little TLC), and a weed eater with only one wire. I’m assuming you’d buy a house near me with a yard for my grandkids.
  • A large box of number 2 pencils (in various stages of sharpening).
  • Her college tuition bill.
  • And… a green frog butter holder (great for rubbing down a cob of corn).

In addition, if you decide to elope, I’ll toss in an additional $500.

All inquiries should be sent either to DJ directly or to my email (I’ll forward them):  therealfullhouse@gmail.com.

We’re ready to go (well, I’m ready and am sure I can persuade the eldest)!

Mundane to Marvelous

This week’s Sunday School lesson was on happiness.  We talked about a lot of things, but one piece of the happiness puzzle seems to be contentment – making the most of your circumstances.

I think I see that in my oldest kid.  On Friday she was headed home for spring break.  That afternoon we were driving to Fayetteville, NC, to see my parents.  I’m sure my daughter might rather spend this time with friends in Cancun sipping boat drinks at the swim up bar.  But she had to make a choice, and a summer trip to Africa won.  Her father does not pay for these extravagances, and her bank account is only so deep.

I got a text at 9:38 AM.

I’m at the airport.  I haven’t driven in months.  Let’s take my car to Fayetteville.  It’ll be fun!

I knew what that meant.  Her grandfather handed down his Mini Cooper to DJ last May.  It is the size of a large bathtub.  It is tight for two people.  But four?

We packed light and all climbed in.  Our playlist from Spotify was pumping out of the speakers and the convertible top was down.

By the time we hit Garner, ten minutes outside Raleigh, I felt as if I had been visited by Hurricane Hazel.  My cerebral cortex had dried out from the pounding wind whipping through the orifices in my head.  And yet, we laughed, smiled and sang our way to the big metropolis we fondly call Fayettenam.

mini cooper

As we sat around grandpa’s den, DJ began taking family videos.  Like her father, she finds humor in the mundane.

The more she encouraged, the stupider we acted.

On Sunday, we went to church.  I taught a class and at 11 met the girls to head to the sanctuary.

“Dad, I have an idea,” DJ shared.

Here is comes, I thought to myself.

“What if we skipped church,”

Coulda called that one

“Grab some coffee,”

Now you’re talking

“And go ride the Carousel at Pullen Park.”

Not surprisingly, the sisters approved.

“Why would we do that?” I asked.

“Why wouldn’t we?” she questioned.

carosel

So off we went, church clothes and all, to ride a gyrating meerkat.

At school in DC, she does the same thing.

Camp Seafarer in the summer?  She’s cookin’ stuff up!

She doesn’t find happiness, she makes it.  She takes her circumstance, whatever it may be, and turns it into something good.  An afternoon in Fayetteville, NC, with a goofy 50-year-old father and a granddad who just had  bypass surgery?  Not a downer; an opportunity.  A chance to to embarrass your dad on Instagram.

She got the optimism and daring of her mother paired with the silliness of her dad.  Amazing when tossed together.

 

The Return of the DJ

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DJ in the house!

DJ has returned!  The eldest, the heir to the throne, is home.

A friend who has a son who is a junior in college told me to get ready.  He said his wife was recently walking around the house with a basket full of toilet paper rolls.

“What are you doing honey?”

“I’m hiding the toilet paper.”

“Why?”

“Douglas is coming home for Thanksgiving.”

“Yeah.  I’m aware of that.”

“You know what he does don’t you?”

“No.”

“Throughout the week he steals our toilet paper and puts it in his car so he doesn’t have to buy it when he returns to school.”

“Interesting.”

I was ready.  I counted my rolls.  I don’t think DJ is a Charmin swindler.  When she left we still had a nice stash.

She has, however, left every garment she brought back to the State of North Carolina in my den.  Shoes on the kitchen bar stools, coats, and there were several, on the floor by the back door, a bra in the bathroom.  Within 24 hours her bedroom looked like it had been hit by a category 4 storm.  Just like high school!

How does this child live in a 13’ x 13’ room with three other people?

On Tuesday she told me that I could expect my credit card bill to be a bit higher this month.

“Dad, have you noticed I really don’t use your credit card at school?  Just like you asked!”

“You have done a good job of keeping your expenses down.”

“Yea, and I have $290 left on my GW card to get me through the next three weeks.  Tons more than any of my other friends!”

“Live it up!”

“But since I’m back home, I figured you’d be OK with me charging my expenses this week.  I’ve sort of eaten out a couple of times with friends, purchased a few Christmas presents, oh, and I’m getting my nails done tomorrow – on you!  Thanks.”

We have eaten at her favorite restaurants, watched her favorite movies On Demand, cooked the meals she likes the best and shopped for clothes that she desperately has to have.

“Dad, I’m gonna need shoes for my winter formal.  You might as well buy them now.  These are on sale.”

Apparently the last four pairs I purchased for the four high school winter formals just won’t do even though her foot stopped growing in eighth grade.

Frankly, I don’t know how she has survived this long without the critical articles of clothing we purchased this week.  Bless her heart.

On Thanksgiving Day, it became grossly apparent to me how children fall back into their high school behaviors as my 78 year old parents worked their butts off in the kitchen while my brother sat in the den watching TV.  The gall.  Oh, and he wouldn’t even pass me the remote!

What goes around comes around.

DC, here she comes!

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Whew! It’s over. I dropped DJ off at college in a city with a population of 658,893. Well, now 894.

DC, full of vagrants, drug dealers, secret service agents, spies, politicians, eager boys who don’t have a curfew and DJ.  It does not help to know that Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner also frequent the place.

I live in anticipation of a phone call, a text, a photo posted on Snapchat, a Facebook pic – give me anything!!  A crumb child, a crumb…

The drop off was less dramatic than the anticipation of the drop off. I was fearful the drive up would be five hours of angst. Well, it sort of was, but it was all traffic related. I actually discovered, at a friend’s suggestion, an app called Waze. When the traffic gets bad, a lovely voice comes over your phone and directs you to leave the highway. You then meander through side roads and neighborhoods, passing grandma’s house with the pumpkin patch, fenced in warehouses with parking lots full of toilets, and strip bars featuring the likes of Honey Berkshire. You also get to pick your handle. I’m Sheamus Ninja (I always wanted to be called Sheamus and a ninja is just cool).

Lisa’s parents accompanied us which was very helpful and a good distraction.

On Saturday, we drove to F Street which was blocked off for thru traffic. I parallel parked and was accosted by an eager upper classman. She gave me a ticket that marked the time I arrived, 12:21 PM, and the time I was expected to pull away from the coveted curb, 12:36 PM. We had exactly 15 minutes to unload DJ’s life. The only thing she didn’t take to college was a single sock with a blown out toe and her sisters. Every other item she had accumulated since birth was in my automobile.

Pops sat on the curb with the stacks and stacks of plastic bins, suitcases, lamps, and hangered clothes we had unloaded while Nana and a handsome co-ed move-in volunteer rolled a large cardboard cart to the elevator line. I began to haul the remainder of the items up the seven flights of stairs to the corner room created for two but housing four.

It took Nana 45 minutes to get on the elevator, and by the time she arrived at the room, she shared that Daniel, her new-found friend, roomed with a kid from Raleigh. She also shared that he wanted to get into the Business School but that “C” he had in calculus was holding him back. She learned of his lineage, his dating history, the average number of times he consumed alcohol his Freshman year, his preference of boxers, and the sororities with the worst reputations. Had she stayed at GW three more hours I feel certain DJ would have met all 1,200 students housed in her dorm.

After bed making, closet cramming, shoe storage constructing and picture hanging, the time had come. All of her roommates had left the room. I asked if she wanted us to wait for them to return. She said, “No. You can go.”

I went out to the hall, took a deep breath and pulled my sunglasses out of my pocket to cover my about to be watered up eyes. Everyone got a good laugh when I walked back in the room.  No one could 100% tell that my eyes were pooled with tears, although the fam knows me well enough to assume.

When I got to the car, just Michelle and me, I started convulsing. DJ had warned her, “You’ll be with dad alone. When (not if) he starts crying, it’s your responsibility to cheer him up. Don’t play any sappy music. Talk in that goofy voice that cracks him up.”

She tried her best but to no avail. I just had to get it out.

There’s something terribly difficult about sending your kid to college for the first time.  For me, it’s less about my fear for them and more about the end of something so incredibly wonderful.

Thus far, I have enjoyed each stage of my children’s lives as much, if not more, than the stage before. I’m going to hold onto that.

I’ve Been Oriented

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I learned some things at college orientation this week at The George Washington University.

  • It’s not George Washington University, it’s The George Washington University. Are there others?   Did someone else try to start another one?
  • A pit is formed in one’s stomach when dropping their kid off at a dorm, even if it is only for two nights.
  • A lump is formed in one’s throat when one is sitting at an outside bar with a buddy and one sees his daughter strolling down the street with two guys one does not know from Adam.
  • A panic comes across one’s mind when one finds out his daughter got home at 1:20 AM after walking home from the Lincoln Memorial with yet another group of unknowns.
  • If a skinny mouse eats a fat mouse’s poop, he will get skinny too (one sat in on a biology lecture).
  • All the parents at college orientation are old, except me.
  • One should never call their child at college.
  • As if the school is not expensive enough, GW has a box that you must uncheck on your online bill in order not to donate fifty additional dollars to the library fund when paying tuition. At $60K a year sticker price, one would think the Library should be covered without the additional support.
  • The Kennedy Center is a short walk from campus, and they have free concerts 365 days a year. Now you’re speaking my language.
  • The reason so many helicopters fly over DC is because there is nowhere to park one’s car.
  • Leaving DC, there are four big fat highway lanes that only about six people are allowed to use – which is cruel.
  • The relief one feels when one’s daughter is happy is euphoric in nature.

They’re Gonna Find You

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It all seemed to be going so perfectly.  I figured I’d need to get DJ a new car when she graduated from high school, the old 1998 Subaru just wasn’t likely to make it much longer.  Besides, DJ had built enough character driving the most embarrassing car in Raleigh for two whole years.

Interestingly, it died, earlier this month, two weeks before graduation.

I wasn’t stressed because I had the inside scoop.  I knew her grandfather was going to give her his car, a 2007 Mini Cooper, for graduation.  It’s about the size of a bathroom stall, but it sure is fun to drive.

The plan went off without a hitch.  She was thrilled!

And then, I went down to the DMV to transfer the title.  As I was leaving work to snag DJ who was going to accompany me on this task, I asked a group of folks in my office if I had to have cash, not sure if this government agency would take my credit card.

My boss overheard us.  “I don’t think you do.”

“How much do you think it will cost?  I might take some just in case.”

“About $35.”

I ran by the bank and snagged two twenties just in case.  I like to be prepared.

When we got there, I unscrewed the license plate.  I wasn’t sure if we could keep it or if we had to get another.

When I gave Lisa’s old car to the junkyard, I kept the tag – told them I lost it.  In reality, I just needed it.

Amazingly, when we got inside the line was short, perhaps because we went on the Friday morning before Memorial Day weekend.  When it came our turn, the clerk began punching buttons on the computer.   I also noticed a card swiper in front of her station – VISA would have been OK.

Her keyboard was noisy, like the old ones you had to press down an inch or so to get a response.

Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink. 

DJ and I were casually chatting while she worked.

She handed me the new tag in an opaque envelope.

“Thank you.”  It was clean, straight from the prison I imagined.  I was admiring the First in Flight when I heard the news…

“That’ll be $530.85 Mr. Tanner.”

“Excuse me?”

DJ later told me my facial expression was priceless.

“It’s $530,85.”

“Come again?”

She handed me the printout in Courier font, and she began to go through the seven charges listed.

“This is for DMV technical improvements.”

A worthy tax I guessed.  Besides, it was just a dollar.

“This is the Highway Use Tax.”

“What the heck is that?”  It was $279.60!

“It is 3% of the value of your car.”

“What if she promises to only drive on back roads?  DJ, you don’t need highways do you?”

“Sir.”

“But it’s just a little car.  It won’t take up much space!  And it doesn’t weigh much, and neither does she!  DJ, what do you weigh?”

My child began to look away.  She could see there were five more charges for me to dispute.

“What is this ‘Mercury Bill Payable’ charge?  We won’t be driving on other planets?”

“Dad, it’s only a dollar.  I can pay that for you.”  DJ reached in her pocket.

The clerk patiently went through the NC Certificate of Title, the plate calculation fee and the registration Transportation Authority fee.

Then I noticed the property tax.

“My father in law just paid property taxes on this car last month, he told me this week!  And now you’re telling me I have to pay them again?”

“Yes.  Sir, these are your taxes.  This is your property now.  Those were his taxes.”

“I don’t mind paying them next year, but why do we have to pay twice in one year?”

She repeated herself, “These are your property taxes.  This is your property now.”

“Damn Sam.”

Politicians say they want to simplify taxes.  I guess they think if they take it all, it is simpler than if they just take some of it.

When we got to the car, DJ reminded me that it was a gift, that we didn’t have to pay for it.

“Yea.  I know.  We got a deal.”

“Then why did you make such a scene?”

I didn’t really have an answer for that.  When it comes to taxes, something just comes over me.

Taking It In For Two

Bailey at commencement

As wonderful as special occasions can be, I still find them hard.

For some reason, I can head to work each day without incident.  When Lisa died, we stopped eating dinner at the table and moved to the bar in the kitchen.  Ironically, I was the one who insisted on the table.  I think I like the Leave It To Beaver image of a man, me, sitting at the head looking out on all that I had – my kingdom – beautiful wife, three charming daughters and a nice backyard with very green grass.  Stools at the bar seemed to solve my emotional food disorder; even sleeping in that bed alone has become comfortable to me.

But toss in a high school graduation, a wedding or a funeral and I resort back.  Not necessarily to her death.  I harken back to what should have been.  She should have helped address the graduation announcement invitations.  She should have OK’d the white dress.  She should have read over DJ’s last speech to the school as Student Body President.  She should have been behind the camera lens, at the Apple Store picking out her college computer; there when grandpa gave her his old MINI Cooper – her character building Subaru in the junk yard.

As my beautiful senior walked down the brick pathway through the Grove at St. Mary’s School, I leaned over to my sister-in-law, “I feel like I need to be watching for both of us; like I need to be Lisa’s eyes too.”

It’s unfair to me to have to carry the emotional insecurity of sending my kid off into this big world alone.  It’s unfair to Lisa not to see her daughter soar.  She’s missing the tough parts and the glorious.

And I get it all.