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Happy 4th of July, everyone! My day was spent more or less as usual… at my in-laws’ surrounded by family, which was nice. The one downer was that we usually see the fireworks at the local high school (they’re better than you’d think) but this year the field was being redone, so no fireworks for us. I suppose in theory we could have sought them out somewhere else, but that would have meant leaving the party early, driving (and gas), searching for parking (likely paid), etc. As it was we ended up watching the fireworks on TV. Awful. Seriously. They lose a lot in translation. Plus, you have to deal with all of the other stuff. Random “Proud to be an American” commentary from anyone they could find. Performances by Taylor Swift/Selena Gomez/Mariah Carey/Pitbull/Cher… KILL ME NOW! We watched a lot of it on fast forward, as the lip synched performances made me want to throw myself through the nearest window. Ugh.

Earlier in the day we were all sitting around after swimming listening to the radio. It was on a local alternative station, and I was happy to be hanging out and watching the world go by. Suddenly Chris’ uncle pulled his iPhone and a mini speaker system from his pocket and said he wanted to put on his music. I was less than thrilled, until the first song came on and it was “New Constellation,” which is the first song on the new Toad album. Whatever I had been expecting him to play, that certainly wasn’t it! Turned out he had actually donated to their Kickstarter campaign, which totally threw me. His explanation was funny, though. He said, “Well, I already have Dulcinea and In Light Syrup, and a few more. Back in the 90’s I was a member of Columbia House… I got a lot of CD’s that way.” Honestly, I don’t care how he got there. From my angle it almost seemed like divine intervention. Chris and I had been complaining to each other earlier that our pathetic computer didn’t allow us to burn things to CD, so we have no way to listen to “New Constellation” in the car, or anywhere else. (We do have an older iPod but no traveling mini speakers.) To have Chris’ uncle just start playing the new Toad CD was beyond bizarre. Braeden and I had been singing “California Wasted” earlier (before Chris’ uncle even showed up) in the pool. It was fun to sit and listen and sing along with the real thing. Braeden has almost as much memorized as I do… I’m so proud!

So it was basically a good day, aside from the lack of fireworks. I did have to endure one ridiculous conversation. We were sitting around talking about the economy, and one of Chris’ aunts started talking about how years ago they had these friends who had emigrated from the Phillipines. They’d gotten here with “only $500” but somehow got an apartment and used furniture and then both worked 12 hour shifts and only saw each other an hour a day. Their kids were apparently already in school. The moral of the story appeared to be “it’s hard, but it can be done.” I pointed out that if both Chris and I were working 12 hour shifts it might be tough for whoever had the night shift to come home and then watch Avery all day before returning to work again. When was that person supposed to sleep, in this scenario? I was initially confused by her story, because she didn’t start off by saying it was more than 40 years ago. I kept popping in with questions: “Wait, they got an apartment, for $500?!? What about first/last/security deposit? Where did they get the money for the used furniture?” His aunt seemed irritated that my questions didn’t lend support to her ultimate point. Basically this story doesn’t fly today in any number of ways. But whatever. Her opinion was clear: We aren’t making it work so obviously we aren’t doing enough.

Yep. Independence Day. The country’s, but not mine, sadly. I am brutally dependent, and it’s rare that a day goes by that I am not made aware of it in some fashion. Americans are supposed to “make it work” and pick themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps. We love the examples of those who have pulled it off and thus fulfilled our image of the American Dream. I suppose the people who fail to live up to this hype just get neatly swept under the rug. I dared to speak up and complain about how ridiculous things are here, how hard it is for Chris to compete against recent graduates with no families or mortgages or salary minimums. I commented on the insane cost of daycare and how it seemed to make it less than cost effective for both of us to work. If daycare is $20K and up per year, how much would I have to earn to make paying for it logical? I mean, if I have $5/hour left after paying for daycare, is it worth it? My answer would tend to be no, but when I talk this way I get those looks from people. I love those looks. You have no idea.

Oh well. There was swimming, good food, great (and unexpected!) music, badminton, more food and fireworks with the world’s worst soundtrack on TV. I was surrounded by family and people who love me. What more could I want?

Happy Independence Day, people!