Why Are You Trying to Ruin My Life?

Boring Subtitle: A Survey of All the Trips I Ever Took As a Teen With My Family


I was really excited when Ashley of Zebra Garden came to me suggesting that we start a linkup where we could reflect on all the ridiculousness of our childhoods. Now I have the weekly opportunity to embarrass myself more! Wins all around. This week’s theme to Remember the Time When We Did the Things is summer vacation, which I may or may not have suggested (I totally did) because I’ve been itching to talk about what a “delight” I was as a teenager. What better scenario to demonstrate my adolescent disgruntatude than that of the family vacay.

And what better way to celebrate Independence Day than to bask in the glory of teenagers hating everything.

Let’s begin.

I was in a permanent bad mood from 1994 to 2000. My teenage years were not an especially cheerful time for me because I convinced myself that it was my God-given duty to be as irritated as possible at all times. I made a hobby out of looking for things that could piss me off, and I sought them out the way a lawyer searched for ambulances. This is basically because I decided angry me was sexy me. So vacation with the family was a very sexy time, offering ample opportunities for me to groan, “GAH, why are you trying to ruin my life?”

"I am not impressed with your attempts to be adorable, newborn cousin."

“I am not impressed with your adorableness, newborn cousin.”

Part I: Summers At the Lake

During my childhood summers, my parents packed us up and headed for the Ozark mountains of Arkansas to go fishing. It was a shortish drive and very economical, so we usually made it a yearly trip. But by the time I was fourteen, I was having no more of it. One rainy day, likely the third or fourth day of the vacay judging by the intense ire I had cultivated, they decided that our family would be hitting up the local flea markets.

Now, let’s talk a but about the term “flea market.” Can we all agree that it’s pretty much the worst ever? In the American North, these emporiums of bric-a-brac have been termed “swap meets” and therefore do not inspire me to throw up in my mouth a little every time I hear about them. But in the South, we have opted to name them after pests that infest the pelts of pets and farm animals. Who wants to go shopping?

So we arrived at the rural flea market grounds, a structure comprised of sheet metal and chicken wire. As my parents and my younger brother salivated at all the bargains to be had, my own anger at the audacity of this ramshacked place grew. I snapped like a twig as my dad pulled our family’s SUV into the parking lot riddled with muddy potholes and boiled peanut shells.

“It’s just a bunch of hillbillies selling pork rinds! I’m staying in the car!”

I stayed in the car and listened to Green Day on my Walkman and fomented at the inhumanity of the whole situation.

Part II: Life’s a biotch beach.

Even in more lux vacation settings, my anger was bound to break through when given a substantial push by my dad. He had a friend who owned a posh condo on the beach in Destin, Florida, and our family took advantage of his generous open invitation to spend our summers there beachside. But it was my philosophy that beach vacations should be just that: beach vacations. Why would anyone want to venture into the deeper waters and – ugh – go deep-sea fishing? No normal human being would want to do that, so when my dad arranged for a family outing on a chartered fishing boat, I was having none of it. Isn’t vacation for sleeping in? I’ll pass on getting up at 6AM to chum the choppy waters of the Gulf, thankyouverymuch.

But Ed Pate insisted that I go. I was irate because I had planned on sleeping in and watching Pretty Woman on Laserdisk the morning of our family’s nautical expedition. At the 5AM wakeup call that morning, though, I was inspired: my golden excuse to get me out of the fishing extravaganza would be lady troubles. I was already learning to lean on that excuse the way I now lean on the ol’ “my kid is sick” excuse when I want to get out of something. I was willing to bet that my parents wouldn’t question it and that I’d get to stay back at the condo. And it worked! My parents and my brother left me to my own devices that morning and I slept in while they trolled the waters.

The best part of getting out of that fishing trip was that once my family got on the boat, the waters got choppy and a storm started a-brewing. The skipper on the vessel indulged in a breakfast of beer and Twinkies, thus bringing on my family’s collective seasickness quicker. I didn’t particularly enjoy hearing about their vomity trip, but as a teenager I savored knowing that I had been right and that their trip had been doomed from the get-go. Yay me. Doncha know that teenagers know everything?

Part III: Taking to the Skies

The fun was not limited to my parents’ antics on vacation, though. My younger brother Trevor did his fair share of making me want to pull my hair out as well. When I was seventeen and he was about thirteen, my mom and my brother and I tagged along with my dad on a swank business trip he had in San Diego. My parents managed to pry me away from my boyfriend by promising that I’d get to go day-tripping in Tijuana. My guitar-playing boy toy could not compete with the allure of bootlegged Ricky Martin cassettes.

At the end of the trip, my dad stayed back in California to wrap up some business while the rest of us headed to the airport to catch a flight home. We were cutting it close on time as it was, but the growing boy that was my brother insisted that we get something to eat at the airport once we reached our gate. My mom was left to guard my Tijuana bounty, comprised of Star Wars marionettes and marble chess sets, at the gate while I accompanied him to McDonalds.

My brother selected the McDonalds with the longest line in the furthest terminal from our departure gate. He waited until he was face-to-face with the McDonald’s employee to even take a glimpse at the menu. Once he finally had his food, he opted to stand stationary on the moving sidewalks and eat it.

I opted to come close to maiming him.

A quick glance at my fake Rolex acquired in Tijuana showed me that our flight had started boarding 30 minutes ago. A quick announcement over the airport PA – an announcement addressing us both by name – confirmed my suspicions that our flight was about to leave and that I would likely get an earful from my mom if we made it back to the gate in time. As my brother lackadaisically chomped on a fry, I grabbed the bag of junk food from his hands, got in his face, screamed HURRY UP and took off in one of those frenzied sprints that only occur when your fear of missing a flight commingles with fear of your parent’s sure anger.

We made it, but I that was the last time I recall flying with my brother. He’d have to find someone else to drive insane. And since my parents weren’t interested in creating another spawn, that means he was out of luck.

Link up with us! Here’s how to do it:

1. Write your post. Remember, all it can be ANYTHING about summer vacation. Just try to stick with the whole “back in the day” vibe ;D

2. Grab the badge and place it at the bottom of your post.

Zebra Garden
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.zebragarden.me" title="Zebra Garden"><img src="http://i1079.photobucket.com/albums/w509/ashleyaustrew/rememberthetime_zps58158eef.jpg" alt="Zebra Garden" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

3. Add your link below and come back to see all the other great posts your blogging pals have written about their summer vacays! Tweet and share your faves!


    1. :D Please join us sometime! We’ll be doing this each week!

  1. That look on your face is priceless. It encapsulates all that is fabulous about teenagers.

    1. Agreed. The baby in the picture is now perfecting the teenage smirk as well.

  2. I was that kid, too. Only I’d sit in the car and read. Drove my dad INSANE. I wanted nothing to do with any family gatherings; I just wanted to read my books. If they wouldn’t leave me home alone to read, then by golly, I was going to sit in the hot car and read there. I was super-social as a teen, as you can see.

    1. The car is such a rockin’ place for teens. Where else can they let their angst have full reign?

  3. “Bootlegged Ricky Martin cassettes” killed me, so thanks for finishing the job my family started with the minivan all those years ago.

    I always call the ritual sprint through the airport “The Home Alone 2 Run” because it reminds of the scene in the airport where he loses his family following the guy with his dad’s look-a-like coat.

    1. Running through the airport is the worst! When we were moving to Korea, we had a layover in Minneapolis to catch a plane to Japan, and our first flight was delayed by like 45 minutes. We had to sprint like crazy to catch the plane. It was actually delayed by like an hour too but we didn’t know it at the time.

  4. Hahahaha!! You definitely need to write another one about our failed beach trip to Gulf Shores! Your poor mother–she really is a saint. I don’t know how she put up with the two of us! Also, I never knew you went to Tijuana! Different times, Besfrinn. I guess I was probably too bust with my guitar-playing boyfriend. Sorry about that!

    1. I was so close to writing about that Gulf Shores trip! It really went down as the biggest epic fail ever.

  5. What’s your middle name, Angst? All of my childhood vacations involved eating a lot. Most of my childhood did.

    1. I didn’t start seriously eating until college. Then, I ate Pop Tarts for pretty much three meals a day.

      1. Pop Tarts are a part of this COMPLETE breakfast. If you don’t eat it with all those waffles, pancakes, juices, etc. then you ain’t doing it right.

  6. I LOVED this trip down Memory Lane, Emily. You’ve made my week with your wit and past suffering. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! You made my week with your Ellen post.

      1. That’s great to hear, especially considering the source.

  7. While my heart bleeds for you, and there’s no denying that “flip-you-off-with-my-eyes” expression on your face, with your baby cousin… I’ll also have you know that I will never hear the end of the fact that we were unable to secure (ok, limited effort expended, if I must confess) a deep sea fishing trip for my boy, on the trip to Barbados last week. He will be disappointed forever. And will someday write about how we never took him on that adventure…. it’s all in the eyes of the particular teen. ;-)

    1. It is all so relative! Also, SO jealous that you took a trip to Barbados! Beautiful!

      1. It is… I imagine I would have felt like you, when I was a teen, but my son: he’s not having it. I “kept” him from the experience of a life time. As if he can never go deep sea fishing again? Really.

  8. Emily, we seldom ever took family vacations when I was a kid. This post just made me realize that my parents were not masochists.

    1. They certainly weren’t. They were just highly aware of the fact that the teenage mind cannot be pleased and to try to appease it is a wasted effort.

  9. This is the best collection of mental kitsch I’ve seen in a long time. Hope the Twinkies weren’t fried – they’re enough to make anyone seasick…on land. Poor Krug must be mistaken – there simply ARE no failed trips to Gulf Shores – sacrilege!!! :D

    1. Oh, but this one trip she was referring to was! It involved a certain someone forgetting all her luggage in the carport of her house and not realizing it was missing until we pulled up to our rented beachfront condo 10 hours later.

      1. Whew! I thought somehow our fair neck of the woods had failed you. Operator error, I get it. Yikes, that would make for a great blog sometime! I swear (and I don’t often!), your life is like the best sitcom I ever watched. Keep it coming, Mrs. Em!

  10. That picture of you, holy crap. That’s EXACTLY how I looked from 1994-2000 as well.

    1. Thems were trying times for all of us.

  11. Just joined in the blog hop. Thanks for putting this together. It was a great prompt!

    1. Yours was an AMAZING post! You have really set the bar for what this blog hop is all about!

      1. Thanks Emily! That’s so sweet of you. I was waiting to write this… for many years. It was just sitting in there. ;-)

  12. GREAT post, as always. I soooo want to do this. when I have time. and I am not planning a wedding. We’ll see if I still have my sanity after all this.

    1. No worries! We will be doing this every week, and there’s no pressure to contribute every week ;D

      1. There’s pressure in my heart.

  13. Shoot! I think I missed all of the linking. I wrote one and I thought I had an hour but maybe we’re in different time zones. Or I’m just bad at this still. Anyway, totally wrote a, now seemingly random, post about summer as a kid on my blog. :)

    1. That’s OK! I will head over to check out your post and then share it on my blog’s Facebook so people will know that you wrote it! ;D

  14. Love this. Love it. I missed the Thursday fun unfortunately as I was busy doing a trial shift as a (sort of) proper chef and getting offered the job! Just thought I’d mention that…..

    1. Yay! That is a by valid excuse! Congratulations! We’ll be doing this every week so if any of the prompts ever catch your fancy, you are invited to link up in between churning truffle butter ;D

      1. That is basically all my new job consists of. Churning truffle butter. Kind of. I’m keeping an eye on next Thursday…..

  15. Go check out my blog carrie4012 ….. I am very new to this so could use some input on where I am wrong and right….. just a little part of my life as a farmers wife,mom,Mamaw, and cat lover thx

  16. I guess it’s too late to join in this blog-hop, but this was a fabulous post, and got me thinking about some of my own past summer trips with the family. Some were fun, some were, yeah, not so much. I might do a post about a back in the day trip on my own blog anyway. ;-)

    1. Please do! We would love to have you! Ashley and I will be announcing a new theme for the linkup on Monday, so if it sparks your fancy too, please contribute ;)

  17. Good times! I found this while scouring the blog-o-sphere during my Do Good Summer Reading Challenge. I’ll be writing up some fun memories and sharing them on my blog, along with your button, as part of my challenge. I’m glad I was not the only whiny, bratty, manipulative teenage girl that lived in the 80s and 90s. Wait, being whiny, bratty and manipulative is a rite of passage for teenage girls, isn’t it? Great post! :)

    1. Thanks! It totally is a part of the teenage experience, I think! If you’re not completely angry then you’re doing it wrong ;D Ashley and I will be announcing a new theme to our linkup on Monday, so be sure to check back and contribute if it strikes your fancy!

  18. Watching pretty woman sounds pretty great. This is a really good idea to write about summers past. I might try this. Can I add this badge to a post about summer vacation I already wrote about on my blog?

  19. […] I’ve seen and her writing draws you in.  Her most current post is part of a Blog Hop called “Remember The Time When We Did The Things.”  As I understand it, the blog hop will have a different theme each Thursday and audience […]

  20. The good news here is that Adult Pâtés have pretty thick skin, bc apparently your parents emerged unscathed by your antics. And now it’s your turn to be the grown up!

  21. I meant to say P a t e , plural , but my iPad autocorrected to Pâté. Because you p a t e s are all so classy!

  22. […] though I came late to this blog-hop, I wrote this post as inspired by Emily of The Waiting blog. It’s well worth a […]

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